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cooking Indian spiced whole roast cauliflower

April 06, 2015

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The cauliflower was a much maligned vegetable, and then it became all trendy. I’ve made the cauliflower rice and mash before. Not yet done the pizza thing. I probably won’t do that actually, because my slight issue with all these brassica ploys is that it’s disguise food isn’t it?

I’m re-claiming the cauli in this recipe. Let’s just celebrate it for what it is, yeah? Who’s with me?

Cauliflowers subtle milky cabbagey flavour needs elevating rather than masking. Its spongy surface area makes it an apt canvas for strong spices. You just paint on a mixture of garam masala and veg oil and roast it until it’s starting to char.

Then the exciting bit, you bring it to the table whole, sat apon a puddle of garlic yoghurt, ready to be carved like a giant curried brain.

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A great vegetarian starter or main with dal and chapatis. And the sort of thing that would be nice with lamb and salmon.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower (serves 4 as a starter)

1 whole cauli

a splash of milk

1 garlic clove

spices: 1 tsp tumeric/1 tsp cumin seeds/1 tsp chilli flakes/1 tsp garam masala

vegetable oil

a small tub of yoghurt

a handful of fresh coriander

a handful of flaked almonds, toasted

a handful of sultanas, soaked in boiling water for 5 mins

Make it:

Preheat the oven to its highest setting

Blanch the cauli in a deep pan with enough boiling water to cover. Add a massive pinch of salt, the whole garlic clove and a splash of milk (this stops it going grey). Cook for about 2 mins, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Keep the garlic for later.

Toast the spices in a dry pan for 30 seconds, then pestle and morter them with loads of black pepper and salt

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Add about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and paint the mixture all over the cauli. This bit’s quite fun

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Roast for about half an hour or until properly blackened

Grate the softened garlic into the yoghurt, season it and add a little olive oil if you like

Serve the cauli sat on top of the yoghurt, with the extras scattered over. Bask in cauli glory.

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cooking forbidden rice

February 01, 2015

A recipe for Chinese New Year 2015, the year of the sheep.

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Chinese black rice is called ‘forbidden rice’ because it was only allowed to be eaten by the Emperor and his court back in the Qing dynasty. Strictly forbidden stuff tends to take my interest. So, while welcoming in the Chinese New Year, what better way to celebrate than with a big plate of black rebel?

‘Venere’ rice, which is now grown in Italy is what I’ve used here. It’s seen as medicine in China as it’s anti-ageing, increases libido and contains a sky high amount of anthocyanins which are what give it its ebony colour; blueberries have them, but not like the amount this stuff has. Cheers to Holland and Barrett who sell it, allowing us minions access.

It has a shiny slickness, a nutty taste and chewy texture. This rice plate has a few easy extras to go with, including a quick chilli jam that combines the essential Chinese flavour trio - chilli, garlic and ginger. A traditional Chinese ‘smacked’ cucumber salad, which is as enjoyable to prepare as it is to eat. You just bash up a cucumber with a rolling pin, which creates crevices and a roughed up texture that allows the salt to permeate the flesh better. And finally egg ribbons - probably more Vietnamese than Chinese, but no-ones bothered right? They are essentially very thin egg crepe cut into strips.

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Quantities serve about 2:

For the black rice

150g black rice

A few splashes of soy sauce

A few drizzles of toasted sesame oil

Make it:

Put the rice in a pan with 360ml of cold water

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat right down to as low as possible

Place a folded tea-towel over the pan and put a tight fitting lid on top of that

Leave it like this for about 20 mins, then remove the lid and leave to cool completely

You can then stir fry it with soy sauce, adding a little toasted sesame oil when it’s off the heat gives it a shine and seasoning

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For the chilli jam

4 red chillis - I used 2 scotch bonnets - I like pain :)

2 garlic cloves

a tiny nugget of ginger

1 tbsp fish sauce

1/3 tin of plum tomatoes

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

Make it:

Roughly chop the ginger, chillis and garlic

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Blitz them in a processor with the fish sauce

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…then add 1/3rd of a tin of chopped tomatoes and blitz again

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Cook it on low for about 20 mins, before adding the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 5, then leave to cool

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For the egg ribbons

Just whisk up 3 eggs as if you were making an omelette (use Burford Browns if you can)

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Add a small amount of beaten egg to a non-stick pan, just enough to make a very thin crepe. Swirl it around until you’re ready to flip. You don’t want any colour, so keep the heat low

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Carry on until you’ve used up all the mix and pile the crepes on top of each other

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Roll them up..

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And cut

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Separate them into ribbons

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For the smacked cucumber

1 cucumber

3 tbsp rice vinegar

a pinch of dried chilli

a really big pinch of salt

1 clove of garlic, finely grated

Whack the cucumber with a rolling pin or other suitable implement…

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Cut it up quite chunky…

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And add everything else - you can make this up to a day before, just drain the liquid off it before serving

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Serve the rice with all the extras. Pure health!

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cooking simmered beef & carrots

December 29, 2014

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When there’s beef about, is it just me or do you too immediately think ROAST?

Well I couldn’t face roasting more meat, not after Christmas. I’m usually all over leftovers, but the thought of slathering another hunk of animal in rosemary and oil and hoisting it into the oven —, nah, it made me have visions of Henry VIII.

And now while this is a meat recipe, it’s in a slightly more curative guise than the Christmas fayre.

By slowly simmering beef with stock vegetables - chunky carrots, onions, bay and pickling spice, you get a gentle but full flavoured broth, tender lean slices of beef, and vibrant vegetables. It feels restorative rather than rich, especially if you add a smattering of parsley. I was going to call it a detox stew, but then remembered I’m not that much of a twat. Anyway, I hope you’ll agree, it’s perf for January…

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Simmered Beef & Carrots (serves 8)

1 rolled beef brisket

(veg for simmering)

5 carrots

2 onions

4 celery sticks

2 bay leafs

1 tbsp pickling spice

a pint of fresh stock (I used the stock from the Christmas bird carcass)

(fresh veg for finishing)

a handful of peeled shallots

peeled whole carrots

baby potatoes (if you want it more substantial)

a handful of green beans

parsley if you have it

Make it:

Put the beef in a pan and add enough cold water to cover it

Bring it to the boil, and skim any scum off the surface with a ladle

Add the ‘simmering’ ingredients, a lid and simmer for at least 3/4 hours

Set the meat aside, strain the liquid through a fine sieve and chuck the veg away (it’ll be stripped of all flavour)

Put the clear liquid back in the pan with your stock and fresh vegetables. Simmer again until the vegetables have cooked, then add the green beans at the end. Now add the salt and pepper (not earlier as it toughens the meat)

Serve sliced with parsley. None in this pic, but there is snow!

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cooking babaganoosh with herbed yoghurt and walnuts

August 22, 2014

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This is a really nice way to enjoy babaganoosh. Rather than just using it for scooping up with bread, make it part of a kind of middle eastern salad of sorts.

My babaganoosh recipe is here

The rest is just decoration:

Macerated red onion. Finely slice a red onion, and pour red wine or white wine vinegar over, leave for about half an hour

Toast some walnuts

Mix yoghurt or labne with some chopped mint, parsley, or whatever soft herbs you have. Season and add a little olive oil.

Layer the babaganoosh, yoghurt and pickled red onion, then sprinkle the walnuts and mint over. Would be really nice with lamb.

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cooking quick aubergine parmigiana

August 17, 2014

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Most of the stuff I cook is like this — simple and vegetable based. Many dishes can be deconstructed (forgive the horrible word).

You just have to make sure they are properly seasoned and that the cheese is melted, not cooked, which turns mozzarella into rubber. For two, slice up one aub.

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Fry to colour

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Bake in a single layer with mozzarella and Parmesan

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You want to just melt the mozarella, so they only need about 15mins in the oven on 180

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Make a simple tomato sauce

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Toast some seasoned breadcrumbs in a little olive oil and grated garlic, just so they’re coloured. I got this ruddy great sack in Sicily, have a feeling it’s going to last years

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And layer up on the plate. Nice with salad, bread etc

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cooking mac & cheese picnic slice

July 29, 2014

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I found myself eating cold spaghetti carbonara out of the fridge the other night. Spaghetti carbonara isn’t something I normally make, but my friend loves it, so selflessly (I reminded her several times) I made it for her. I resolved there and then that cold spaghetti should be elevated to al fresco eating. So here it is - mac and cheese loaf.

By baking pasta in a loaf tin, you end up with a dense, creamy slice of the spaghetti pie. It’s structural integrity means it’s perfect for picnic parties. Don’t hold back on the cheese and ham, and throw in whatever you like; sun blushed tomatoes, olives, herbs etc. You can also have it warm if you’re at home.

Note — if you have any left over, take it home, fry each slice in butter, top with a fried egg and put some chilli sauce on the side. Pure filth, but when has that ever been a problem?

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Find the recipe here

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cooking mujaddara

June 30, 2014

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I feel like I don’t have any money, won’t ever have any money and can’t remember what money looks like at the moment.

Peasant food beckons in times of hardship. I found this really old Arab dish of mixed rice, lentils and onions on the web. It sounds bland but it’s surprisingly flavourful. That’s the caramelised onions doing their job. Caramelised onions are one of the best culinary secret weapons out there.

I like the name too - mujaddara, sounds tribal.

So this is a thrifty little tumble, I haven’t worked out how much a bowl costs, but I’m sure it’s WELL under a quid. Put a dollop of minty yoghurt and a handful of toasted walnuts over the top (if you’re feeling particularly opulent) and you have yourself a complete meal. I can’t think of anything it wouldn’t go with but know it would be particularly brilliant with chicken, halloumi or grilled aubergine.

The recipe below is if you’re making it from scratch, but it makes sense to make dishes like this when you have leftover rice or lentils.

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Find the recipe here

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cooking lime & coriander fish taco bowls

June 24, 2014

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When I see white fish on offer in a supermarket I make these.

Fish is good in a taco for two reasons. The first — bite-ability. You can gnaw through fish without the structural integrity giving way. Second— white fish loves bright citrus flavour. I’ve just thought of a third— it doesn’t matter if the fish falls apart a little when cooking, because you end up piling it into a taco.

The tortilla bowls are made from moulding your tortillas into ovenproof bowls and baking them, not strictly necessary but how CUTE?!

The five steps to making these are as follows:

  • One: Making a limey, corinander-y, garlic-y, salty marinade for your fish:

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Two: Pickle your red onion rings:

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  • Three: Mould and crisp up your taco bowls:

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  • Four: Mix creme freiche with hot sauce and a tiny bit of ketchup. No need for a picture, right?

  • Five: And finally pan-fry the fish, slice up an avocado and assemble:

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For the recipe go here

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cooking lamb, date and pistachio meatballs

June 09, 2014

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‘Don’t play with your food’ doesn’t apply to this recipe. These meatballs should be played with.

Lamb mince (my favourite) can take a lot of spice and seasoning. If you don’t have all the spices in the recipe list, make them anyway.

Stay away from curry spices and go for Persian ones, so things like cumin, cinnamon, chilli, ras-el-hanout sort of thing. Warm ones. The addition of nuts (you can mix this up too) and dried fruits (same same) gives them more texture and flavour. So nut variations can be pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and dried fruits can be apricots, sultanas, dates, figs etc.

These are what you should make if you ever feel stressed about what to cook in a short space of time. Everyone will always loves them, you can’t not.

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I like to have them with yoghurt mixed with tahini and lemon juice, or tzatiki and chilli sauce (as in pics) or eaten kebab style in flatbread.

Find the recipe here

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cooking a watermelon panzanella salad

June 09, 2014

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So panzanella - a lovely vibrant Tuscan bread salad, made with charred bread that absorbs the juices. I added watermelon to this one and a few other salty bits of bling.

This is not by any means a measly salad, it’s big, salty, sweet and hefty and refreshing. A meal in it’s own right, perfecto for hot weather — where you want to pick, go away, come back pick some more etc.

A few tips:

Use 3 day old bread, or really hard sourdough.

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If you put cucumber in it (not essential) don’t ribbon them as I did, they go too soggy, Cut them chunky.

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Let the red onion sit in some vinegar for 10mins before you use it, it gets rid of the acrid burn that raw onion has

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Use the nicest tomatoes you can

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Don’t bother de-seeding the melon, too much faff

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For the dressing, put everything in an empty jar and shake up

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Let it sit for 30mins to an hour before eating, this is one of the only salads you can do this with, so it’s good for parties

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Find the recipe here

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cooking roast chicken soup w/sweetcorn dumplings

May 29, 2014

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I had the MOTHER of all migraines on Sunday. It was prosecco induced, so I couldn’t even get any sympathy for it. After 10 hours, I lay there like something out of The Excorcist. If you haven’t had a migraine, it sort of feels like you’re being hit in the head repeatedly by paintballs — and you’re not wearing a helmet. Plus your stomach rejects anything you dare put in it, even H20.

So now that I’ve painted that lovely picture for you, let’s move on to the recovery food. Chicken soup was my medicine of choice.

I’ve covered Jewish penicillin before but there’s another one that needs adding: this roasted chicken soup, which is gloriously chickeny. It takes some time to make, but it’s quite a therapeutic process. It gently bubbles away in the background — filling your kitchen with tremendously soothing l’eau d’chicken while you get on with life admin. The sweetcorn dumplings sit on top are just the ticket - sweet, soft and cuddly.

Sweat your vegetables mirepoix

Roast a chicken chicken

Sit the chicken on top pot

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For the dumplings mix together fat, flour and sweetcorn mix

Add a little water batter

Shape into balls balls

Drain your soup, discard the vegetables and add the picked chicken back soup

Steam your dumplings

Add take a large dose.

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Find the full recipe here

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cooking buttermilk fried chicken

May 23, 2014

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Let’s not beat about the bush – there is nothing virtuous about fried chicken. That must be why it tastes so bloody good, particularly if you are:

a) hungover

b) really craving fried chicken

This version uses buttermilk as a marinade, and the longer you leave your chicken soaking in it’s milky bath, the better the chicken. Overnight is best.

Note: I have used breast in this recipe because I don’t really like gnawing on old bones and gristle. I want a big old pile of fried chicken…no surprises. If you use leg/thigh/wing etc. and cook for a little longer.

Find the recipe here

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cooking salmon with tahini soba noodles

May 12, 2014

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Fast food has one major category: bad, dirty, filthy, greasy. But there is another category - that being the healthy, salad-y smug fast food that is light and clean in it’s assembly as well as eating. There’s a time and place for either, but important thing here is speed. This salmon with soba noodles falls into the latter and can be done in 20mins easily. I always seem to be starving when I get home. Quite often I am there lighting the gas rings and bashing around with saucepans before taking my coat off or turning any lights on. Soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour and are nice dense nuttiness.

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Find the recipe here

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cooking spätzle with brown butter and peas

May 08, 2014

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Spätzle – Germanys answer to Macaroni. These pasta-like noodles are made by pushing fresh dough through a colander (unless you happen to own a spatzle maker) where it drops into boiling water, forming funny worm shaped dumplings, which are then fried in butter.

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The proper way to eat spätzle, I believe, is with fried onions and lots of melted cheese, which I’d even go so far as to say it better than mac and cheese, it’s kind of fresher and doughier. My affection for spätzle has deepened since finding out you only need 3 ingredients to make it. Clever old Germans.

You can have it with anything. Drop a handful into chicken soup or serve it with stews and meatballs. My way of serving it this time is with peas, cheese and browned butter. It’s a more summery version, because it’s too bloody hot for stew, and if I eat anymore mac and cheese this week I’ll develop scurvy. Anyway, this lemony, herby spätzle is delicious, like a warm pasta salad.

Find the recipe here

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cooking wild garlic, chicken and farro risotto

May 01, 2014

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I stumbled across a patch of something green and garlicky in the woods over Easter. Ello, ello, what had we here then?

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It’s only a big, leafy patch of wild garlic. Bloody love this stuff.

Wild garlic is a sluts dream. It’s like spinach and garlic in one, which means you don’t have to waste time chopping up actual garlic cloves. I don’t really like risotto that much. So often it’s just a but ikky and baby food like. But since discovering the likes of farro, things have changed.

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Farro is an Italian wheat grain that is pretty much the same thing as spelt. It’s nutty and tastes like a combination between brown rice and pearl barley. You can get it in most supermarkets now, it’s called something like ‘quick cook farro’ in Waitrose, and it’s brilliant ‘cos it only takes 10mins to cook. Using it as a replacement for aborio rice means you get a textured risotto, if like me, you like yours with a bit of bite.

Find the full recipe here

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cooking Pulled Lamb with spring slaw

April 17, 2014

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I quite like Easter. None of the faff of Christmas – no presents to buy that people don’t like, no presents that you don’t like. It’s straightforward – eggs, chocolate, T.V. and maybe a family ritual thrown in. Mine involves my father (err, I mean the Easter bunny) hiding mini eggs around the garden in the most obscure places he can, while my sister and I go on a frenzied rampage to find them. Someone always gets hurt.

But what does one cook for Easter lunch? I’ve got it covered and tied up with a big Easter bow. This ‘pulled lamb’ is a more casual way of enjoying the traditional roast lamb, and it’s much cheaper than buying the leg. It can be piled into burgers, you can go Moroccan and team it with apricot couscous and toasted almonds, or serve it with typical roast dinner accoutrements. It has a spicy crust and is meltingly tender inside, so much so that you can pull it apart with forks rather than slicing it. It takes a day worth of cooking time, so I suggest putting it the oven when you go to bed. There’s no better alarm clock than the smell of pulled lamb. I made a spring slaw to go with mine which is nice because it’s pretty and feels fresh in contrast to the lamb.

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Find the recipe here

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cooking Fig and Black Pepper Baked Ham

April 02, 2014

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I had a strong urge to bake a ham this past week. Why is it that ham only gets thought about around Christmas when there’s shitloads of food around then anyway? A home-made ham does take a bit of hob and oven time but it’s minimal effort to prepare and maximum outcome. Make it at the weekend and you are set up for the week. I’m talking sandwiches, soup, lentils, salads or just cut thick and had with whatever is in the fridge.

My ham glaze was improvised, and after a few google searches and cupboard rummaging I decided upon the following. Fig relish (if you can’t get this then ginger jam or any fruit chutney), maple syrup, soy sauce, mustard, crushed black peppercorns and a shot of whiskey. It created a warm sticky slightly fruity coating.

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I have concluded that ham is not just for Christmas, it’s for (an easy) life.

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Find the full recipe here

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cooking warm lentil salad with burrata, croutons and mint dressing

March 31, 2014

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I am something of a lentil champion-er. They’ve been good to me over the years: seeing me through my studenthood; through sickness; through health and through financial instability. I won’t hear a bad word said about them. They’ve had a bad rep for a while, but I think (as Bob Dylan puts it) ‘the times, they are a chaaaangin’. Lentils are proving their versatility and are popping up on menus everywhere. Puy lentils (or poor man’s caviar as they’re known in France) are the crème de la crème of the lentil world—they hold their shape and texture much better than standard lentils, as they are grown in the hot volcanic climate and mineral rich soil of Le Puy. This warm salad uses them as a bed partner with mozzarella and makes for a lovely, rustic, peasant-y plate.

Find the recipe here

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cooking mushy peas and black pudding crumbs

March 12, 2014

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When my boyfriend goes food shopping (a VERY rare occasion), it normally ends up with him coming back with the most peculiar arrangement of ingredients that I then have to bring together in some way, Ready Steady Cook style. It can be frustrating.

The other day he came back with black pudding, some weird processed cheese and leeks (for some reason, he always gets leeks). I discarded the weird cheese and the leeks and got out some peas from the freezer and some leftover tenderstem. This was going to be a simple number.

What we ended up eating was simple but nevertheless, delicious. I really like black pudding, but feel it needs to be broken up into large crumbs and fried rather than kept in disc-form.

Full recipe here

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cooking quick Chinese pork with Spring Onion Pancakes

March 05, 2014

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This recipe was born out of frustration. What does one do with mince when one can’t face shaping meatballs, stirring a Bolognese, or waiting for the oven to heat up? This is what you do!

You simply fry it off with a range of deliciously Chinesey (err, yes it’s a technical term) store cupboard essentials and the pork is transformed into a salty, sweet, spicy, crunchy mass. It’s really good over brown rice or with noodles, or with pancakes. Now I know that TUESDAY was Pancake Day BUT in my house we celebrate for the entire week, so I served my pork with spring onion pancakes, and amen, it was a good decision.

Cucumber is often sidelined to salad only. But it’s SO good fried. It breaks down a little in the heat so the texture becomes more gherkin-like. It’s nice because it doesn’t overpower. Same goes for radishes.

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Find the recipe here

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cooking 15 minute cod n chips

February 27, 2014

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There are a few fixes I need in my life on a regular basis. One of them is fish and chips.

I have however one big ol’ fish and chip-shaped problem. That is that there are no good chippies near me. I can get top notch tapas, oh yes. Incredible kebab. Resplendent Sunday roasts, and baklava 24/7. But decent fish and chips? Alas, no. Must be because I don’t live in the North.

My salvation comes in the form of this recipe. Cod and Chips in under 15 minutes, it might not be the real McCoy, but it’s a hell of a lot less calories, and it has all the flavours of a fish supper. I have mine with a bit of something green – tenderstem or summit usually -polishes halo-.

Click below for the recipe via Domestic Sluttery

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cooking Kale, Mushroom & Chestnut Open Lasagne (with walnut dukkah)

February 20, 2014

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There’s a real trend for everything to be open right now.

Open air theatres, open house weekends, open Facebook accounts, open toed shoes, open university, open relationships…

While a little openness goes a long way, too much can make you want to lie down in a dark room with your phone turned off.  I’ve got a recipe that embraces the good parts of being open. Unlock the padlock to the larder, cast off the shackles of time and embrace the open lasagne…

This recipe has a creamy mushroom, chestnut and kale filling. It’s topped with a walnut dukkah which is a lovely mix of toasted nuts, sesame seeds and spices. The dukkah changes the dish from very good to very good with glitter on top.

Since discovering dukkah, I throw it over everything; salads, eggs, soups, pasta. I’d probably throw some in the bath, it’s that good.

The main thing about this method of making lasagne is that it is just so quick and ridiculously easy. All the joy of lasagne, but without the hour and a half in the oven. It also looks real priddy and you can change up the fillings as you please. Hey, what can we say? I’m just really open like that…

FOR THE FULL RECIPE GO HERE sluttery

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cooking braised squid with chorizo, tomato & olives

February 08, 2014

The rules for cooking squid are:

  1. either cook it for 1 minute or 1 hour

  2. there are are no other rules

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This is a nice stew that takes an hour, and there’s nothing more to it than adding things to the pan and stirring. The squid’s texture turns out nice and soft, no rubberyness. Quite often when you flash fry squid you lose the taste, but this stew brings out the flavour which is faintly salty and almost hammy.

I get my squid in big sack like bags from the oriental supermarket in Elephant. It tends to be cheaper and more exciting to do this.

To feed 4 you need:

  • 1kg cleaned squid (de-frosted)
  • a handful of kalamata olives
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 peppers
  • a bit of chorizo (optional)
  • 200ml shitty red wine
  • a tin of chopped toms
  • a dollop of tomato puree
  • a slash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 orange
  • parsley

Get cracking:

  • Set the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas1.
  • Slice your onions and peppers.
  • Peel and roughly slice your garlic.
  • Cut the chorizo into rough chunks.
  • Add a little olive oil to a sturdy iron pan and throw in your chorizo chunks.
  • Cook them until they begin to sweat out their orangey juices.

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  • Then add your onion, pepper and garlic.

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  • Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Sweat the vegetables while you chop your squid into rings.

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  • Add the squid to the pan and stir.

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  • Add your wine and tomato puree and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid by half.
  • Then add your chopped tomatoes and olives. pan

  • Cover the pan with a lid and place it in the oven for an hour.
  • Once it’s out add the vinegar then zest and juice your orange and add squeeze over.
  • Scatter with chopped parsley.

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cooking Spätzle Needs

January 28, 2014

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Spätzle (pronounced ‘spetch-lay’) is like a sort of small German noodle/dumpling, a bit like mac n cheese. You can make it within 15 minutes– the fresh dough just falls into boiling water and cooks in seconds. Good if your cupboards are bare and you can’t face walking to Sainsbury’s in the rain.

To make enough for 2 you need:

1 cup (about 250g) of 00’ pasta flour (I used this because it was what I had in the house, but I’m assured you can just use plain flour)

2 free range eggs

roughy a cup of milk (200ml)

So, start by seasoning your flour in a bowl with salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg if you have it.

Make a well in the centre of your flour, just as you would if you were making pancakes, and crack your eggs in.

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Mix the eggs in with a wooden spoon until fully combined, then add enough milk until you get a thick-ish batter.

Put the batter in the fridge for five minutes (or you can leave it in there for up to two days).

When you’re ready to cook the batter - place a colander (preferably with large holes) over a large pot of salty boiling water. Push the batter through the colander so it squeezes through the holes and drops into the water – remove the colander and cook them for about a minute only.

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You should end up with little cooked batter worms – that’s your spätzle. Drain them and fry them in butter.

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Traditionally you’d have them with caramelised onions and lots of cheese only. I added spinach to mine in an attempt to get something green in there, and it was good.

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cooking avocado spaghetti with bacon & lemon crumbs

June 17, 2013

This spaghetti has all the goodness of a creamy pasta dish but none of the butter and cream that normally goes with.

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You’ll probably be thinking…‘avocado….spaghetti?! wtf?’ but trust, it’s surprisingly delicious and takes 10 mins.

For 2 you’ll need:

2 ripe avocados

1 lemon

good olive oil

salt/pepper

bunch of basil

2 fistfuls of spaghetti

200g smoky bacon or pancetta, diced (leave out if you’re veggie)

1 handful of panko breadcrumbs (you can get these at Waitrose)

30g Parmesan cheese

First, get your spaghetti in to a big pan of boiling salty water.

Zest the lemon, and scoop out the flesh from both avocados and pop it in a food processor or blender along with the juice of the lemon, a good glug of olive oil, a handful of basil, lots of salt and pepper.

Whiz til smooth, and check the seasoning. Next in a dry frying pan, fry the pancetta until it turns golden, then add about a tablespoon of olive oil and throw in the breadcrumbs and lemon zest, you should end up with a golden mix of salty bacon-y lemony crumbs. ‘Pangrattato’ is the technical name for these crumbs, which translate quite simply as ‘poor mans Parmesan’ in Italian.

Drain your spaghetti and stir through the avocado. Plate up in warm bowl, sprinkling over the bacon and breadcrumbs, and top with shaved parmesan and basil.

bowl

close up again

You can also watch me make it here

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cooking Ultimate Chicken Soup

February 05, 2013

Whenever I’m near Selfridges, I seem to end up getting a ‘boiler’ which is essentially an old chicken, one that’s lived a happy life and has died of natural causes (so I’m told by the butcher). You can’t seem to get hold of them in many places. They sell them predominantly to make stocks from, but I use the whole goddam thing, in a manor of a good Jewish grandmother.

c.soup Chicken soup is normally served up when one’s afflicted, and making it you can see why. It requires time, patience, love and attention, just like the invalid at the receiving end. The fact I use an old bird for my soup, makes it all the more wholesome, hey, that bird didn’t die for nothing…

To make it you’ll need:

  • 1 large boiling chicken
  • 5 large carrots
  • 1 small bunch of celery
  • 1 spanish onion
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 button mushrooms
  • 200g white bread (crusts removed)
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • nutmeg
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 egg/1 yolk
  • small bunch of parsley

First up, get the biggest pan you have and chop the chicken in to quarters. Put the carrots, celery, onion and bay in with the chicken, and cover with cold water until it’s all submerged. Bring this to the boil, and simmer for 3 hours (that’s the patience aspect) skimming the surface if necessary.

Leave the liquid to cool, and remove the chicken, which should be nice and soft. drain the stock, and discard the vegetables, which will have been stripped of their flavour.

Now remove all of the meat from the chicken, discarding the skin and bones, and put the meat aside for later.

In a food processor, blitz the chicken breast, egg, cream bread and mix until you have a smooth paste. Season generously.

Re-heat your stock and add some fresh vegetables, this time chopped nicely, cook until al dente and form quenelles with your chicken paste and drop them in to the boiling stock for 4 minutes until they have risen to the surface.

Add your chicken meat back to the pan, with some thinly sliced mushrooms. Season to taste and serve with some chopped parsley.

Serve in a large bowl to someone who needs some lovin’ x

dumplings closedumplings

bowlandspoon

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cooking Firework Fritters

August 01, 2012

Alt text

These fritters are as humble as humble can be. A classic example of making something out of seemingly nothing, which is what I did when I realised I had little else in the fridge but carrots. Oh and frozen peas in the freezer. I don’t trust people that don’t have frozen peas in the freezer.

I guess you can put most vegetables into a pancake batter; courgettes, sweetcorn, beetroot - as long as it doesn’t have too high a water content.

I’m missing the point - THEY LOOK LIKE FIREWORKS! Queue Katy Perry.

Shred a single carrot into matchsticks on a mandolin.

Carrots

Combine a few tablespoons of flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and heavily season. Drop an egg into the centre and whisk to form a thick batter. Add a splash of milk if too dry.

Kilner

Mix your carrot sticks in along with a handful of frozen peas and fry in a little oil until golden on each side. Don’t be tempted to turn them more than once in the pan, you want them to hold their shape.

Fritters Fritters

Scatter with parsley and Parmesan. Banging.

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cooking Butternut Squash, caramelised onion, confit garlic & Feta Cheese Crumble

June 10, 2012

I know, I know crumble is a dessert, what am I thinking? But hey, I like to break the rules man.

I knocked this up this afternoon, and when dug in with spoon in hand I have to say a certain smugness came over me; it’s really tasty. Alright it’s not going to set Raymond Blanc’s world alight but it doesn’t require any fancy techniques and you can knock it up in half hour. Recipes like this are good.

I used butternut squash (in season) purely because I had two lingering, but I’m pretty sure you could do many variations.

For mine I used;

  • 2 Butternut Squash, peeled, and cut into large chunks
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • 12 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 packets of feta cheese (this is probably too much, you could easily use one)
  • 150g plain flour
  • 200g butter
  • 150g rolled oats

Firstly, put your onions, squash and garlic into a large roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of brown sugar.

Mix up, cover with foil and put into a hot oven, 210, for about 20 mins, until the squash is tender but still holds its shape.

Then remove from the oven, and with tongs, remove the squash and put it in a medium sized gratin tin.

Put the roasting tin with the onions and garlic in on to the stove top on a medium heat to caramelise.

Once the onions have softened, add them to the squash and break the feta over the top.

For the topping, just like a normal crumble, rub the butter, flour and oats together, lightly season and sprinkle over the top.

You could add some orange zest and parsley if you have some kicking about.

Bake at 180 until golden.

Serve with a bitter leaf salad or green vegetables.

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cooking Scallops, Celeriac mash, Buttered apples and Cumin.

May 11, 2012

Scallops are sooooo last decade, I know. Far too many people have cooked ‘em on Masterchef with black pudding, peas puree, blah blah blah.

So, I’m not going to be another of those people, I’ll just very quietly tell you that I found a good combination, should you for whatever reason come across any.

In a quiet voice

If you boil some celeriac in milk, and mash it down, add some butter and salt, you’ll have a lovely rough bed for your scallops have a lie down on.

Then slice some apples, and fry them in a little butter. Apples go really well with scallops because they are sweet yet acidic.

These go on top of the mash. Finally toast some cumin seeds in a pan, remove, then use the same pan to cook your scallops. When you’re just about done cooking your scallops, add the toasted cumin back to the pan, and pour this lovely fragrent butter over your scallops and mash.

Garnish with some pretty cress.

I’ll be quiet now.

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cooking Mackerel with Beetroot and Horseradish (emergency tea)

April 22, 2012

This isn’t a recipe, it’s just a list of ingredients put together. But, I think it makes for an impressive list of ingredients put together. The reasons being; it’s quick, it’s all good ingredients, it’s healthy and it looks and tastes great. So who cares?

So, the situation is, you want to make something that looks good for dinner (you may have a friend coming round), but you have no time to do anything other than nip to Tesco quickly on your way back from work…

So your list of ingredients from Tesco are;

  • One packet of cooked beetroot
  • One packet of smoked mackerel
  • Some baby new potatoes
  • One jar of horseradish
  • One bag of pretty salad
  • Fresh Dill
  • One Lemon

When you get home, boil your potatoes, make a quick dill dressing with some olive oil, sugar, salt, lemon juice and dill. Pop your mackerel under the grill, et voila.

Now the fun part, make it look pretty…

What I’d do is salad in the middle of the plate, cut the beetroot and potatoes in to similar sized quarters, place them around the middle. Mackerel resting on top, with dollops of beetroot hiding amongst the potatoes. Dressing and a little beetroot juice around the outside…

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cooking Nut Risolles

April 20, 2012

Now then, I’m no vegetarian, but I do love a nut burger.

I feel quite thrilled with this recipe because it’s healthy, and versatile. You could have these little golden nuggets with a salad and a little cucumber and yoghurt dip. Or you could have them with a floury bap, gherkins, chips, ketchup, the lot.

They are good hot and cold, so you could take them on a picnic, or to work with you in pitta bread.

You could use a combination of different nuts, hey, go nuts! sorry

For the risolles you will need:

  • One large onion
  • 200g nuts (almonds/cashews/peanuts/pecans)
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 150g Bulgar Wheat
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • Peanut Butter
  • 1 egg
  • Chickpeas or brown rice
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Soy Sauce

Blend the nuts in the food processor, and then combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Form in to patties and coat with flour. Refrigerate for a few hours.

Shallow fry until golden on each side. Warm through in the oven for about 10 mins.

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cooking Venison Sausages with Roast Pears

April 10, 2012

This is not a recipe as such, just a nice combination. Venison sausages are a bit of a treat, and because they are less fatty that pork grunters, they don’t need the sharpness of apple to cut through them. The pear is a subtle fruit, and when roasted simply with a little olive oil, some red onions and a little honey, they soften and caramelise ever so slightly, whilst maintaining there shape. Great for plating. Serve with a mustard mash.

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cooking Ye Olde Cornish Pasty

April 09, 2012

I’m not actually sure I’m a pasty fan, but then, like with anything, if you make your own it’s usually good. Making the pastry is important, as that’s what 60% of it is. A protective armour to the soft root vegetables and spiced meat within. All I need is Phil off Time Team to come over for tea, a pint of ale and I have me a Cornish knees up.

Anyway.

It’s a traditional little number, but serve it with a radish salad, and it’s instantly hipper than something from a train station.

The good news is it’s easy to make. And here’s for why. The inside filling doesn’t need to be pre-cooked. It’s simply seasoned raw vegetables and beef.

The pastry is made with that rather redundant ingredient - LARD. Don’t run screaming, lard is clever, it makes brilliant savoury pastry.

For the pastry;

  • 125g Lard
  • 500g Plain Flour
  • Chilled and diced butter
  • Pinch of salt

If you have a food processor, simply put everything into it and whiz. If not, rub the butter and lard into the flour using your fingertips.

Then blend in 6 tbsp cold water to make a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20mins.

For the filling;

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced.
  • 175g swede, peeled and diced.
  • 350g beef skirt
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Juniper Berries

For the filling mix the chopped vegetables and meat together and in a pestle and morter, or is it morter and pestle?? anyway, grind your spices with the salt and pepper. Add to your filling mixture. The character of this pasty comes from the spicing, my advice is don’t be shy.

Crafting your pasties

I roll out my pastry to the thickness of a pound piece. Cut an oval shape, place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Brush the outside edges with beaten egg and pinch the outer edges together, so that they meet at the top (like a handbag) in a crimped fashion. I find that if you worry too much about the crimping, shit starts to go wrong, so enjoy making them slightly crudely if you have to. HEY, it’s how they should be. Rustic.

Heat the oven to 200. Brush the pasties with beaten egg and place on a baking tray with some parchment underneath.

Bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the oven to 180 and cook for 40-45 minutes, until golden. Serve warm, with a pint of ale and your best cornish accent.

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cooking Beef, Carrot and Apple Burgers with Sweet Potato and Fengreek Wedges

April 04, 2012

Who says burgers have to be banished into the ‘indulgent’ category? My burgers are quick, tasty, and bloomin’ healthy. By incorporating grated carrots and apple into the mince, you give a sweetness and more characterful flavour to the patties. For the burgers you will need:

  • 500g Lean beef mince
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 2 grated apples
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • Salt and Pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and chill for ten minutes in the fridge, this will enable easier patty making control.

Form the meat in to balls and squash down to form burgers.

Lightly fry in a little vegetable oil.

If your going for these healthy burgers, go for healthy wedges too. Sweet potato wedges are ideal. Scrub your sweet potatoes and cut them into wedges, length-ways. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a generous handful of salt (this draws out the moisture making them crispier and tastier). Sprinkle a little and ground fenugreek over the top and bake for about 20-30 mins on 180oc.

I served these burgers with a spicy red slaw and quick pickled cucumber relish.

Ribbons of cucumber in fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili, sesame and basil.

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cooking Spinach, Mushroom and Ricotta Pie

March 28, 2012

Pie = It doesn’t have to mean meat laden, heavy, winter stodge.

This spinach, mushroom and ricotta beauty, allows one to enjoy all the pleasures a pie can bring without the billious feeling afterwards. So you can enjoy pie all year round. It also looks rather magical with it’s bright green innards and is packed full of iron.

You will need:

Either shortcrust packet pastry (no one will judge, I use it all the time) or …..To make your homemade pastry:

  • 120g Soft Unsalted Butter
  • A tsp Sugar
  • Large Pinch Salt
  • 240g plain flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 2 bags of spinach (I know, I know, a lot right, but doesn’t half wilt down)
  • One small punnet of mushrooms (any variety, I used chestnut)
  • One small tub of ricotta.
  • One large onion, diced.
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped.
  • Fresh nutmeg

To make your pastry, it’s simple. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Bring together, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a hour.

Line your tart tin with your pastry, rolled out to the thickness of a two pence coin.

Line with baking parchment and coins (I’ve recently discovered these are way better than baking beans as they conduct the heat better), put it back in the fridge for half an hour so that your pastry doesn’t shrink when you bake it.

Bake until the pastry is cooked and egg wash to seal the pastry.

Meanwhile, to prepare the filling; Sweat your onion in a little olive oil, add the garlic and mushrooms and pop the lid on your pan so that the mushrooms cook through. Season.

When the mushrooms are cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. In a large pan heat a large knob of butter and add your washed spinach leaves, with a tablespoon of water and put a lid on the pan for a few minutes, this technique is called etuvee. When the spinach is cooked and cooled, squeeze out excess water with your hands.

In a bowl combine the squeezed spinach, with your garlic mushrooms. Add the ricotta and grated nutmeg. Season generously.

Fill your cooked pastry case with the mixture and roll out your pastry lid with the remaining dough. Attaching it to the sides with a little egg wash. Egg wash the top and I like to scatter a little oatmeal over the top for a rustic farmhouse look.

Give it about 20 mins, or until the pastry looks golden.

Ummmm hum, Thaamous.

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