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cooking very painful sauce

August 31, 2015

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There are certain critical moments in life when hot sauce is desperately needed: Fried chicken moments…fried eggs and potato moments, breaded moments, barbecue moments. Moments when you need the gastronomical equivalent of a slap around the face. I love the buzz that really, really hot sauce radiates, so I’ve put 7 scotch bonnets in mine. The effect is like drinking strong whiskey, it makes your insides dance.

My flatmate had to leave the house when I made it because her eyes hurt. The heat builds to a steady pain which you can temper with fewer scotch bonnets. This batch is for my cousin Sam, who’s been harping on about making his own for several weeks, to no avail. He’s just been offered a new job in St. Andrews. I figure it should see him through the drop in temperature.

By charring the chillies, peppers and tomatoes you add a kiss of smoke to the sauce. There should be no fire without smoke.

You’ll need:

1 white onion, peeled and chopped

3 red peppers

7 scotch bonnet chillies

4 normal red chillies

8 medium tomatoes

5 cloves garlic

2 sprigs of thyme, de-leafed and chopped (optional)

1.5 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

270ml red wine vinegar

Make it:

  1. Char the chillies, tomatoes and peppers either over a gas hob or a hot grill until the skin has pretty much blackened all over. Transfer them to a plastic bag, tie it and leave for about 15min. This steams them so their skins come off easily. Meanwhile cook the onion in olive oil and a pinch of salt for 10 mins. Cook them low so they don’t colour

  2. Take the peppers and co. out of the plastic bags and discard their skins and chop everything (keep the seeds in the chillies)

  3. Add them to the softened onion

  4. Add the sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic and thyme

  5. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30min

  6. Blitz in a food processor (you may need to add a touch of boiling water and a little more vinegar if the mixture is too thick)

  7. Pass through a fine sieve

  8. Leave to cool

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cooking black rice porridge with coconut yoghurt

February 06, 2015

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I’m a thief - I stole this idea from Ottolenghi. I first had his version at his restaurant Nopi a few years ago, and remember it looking as stylish and dramatic as porridge can possibly be.

Cooking black rice down like this transforms it into a deep purple, almost vampy colour which is seductive af.

Black Rice Porridge (serves 2)

150g venere rice

500ml almond milk

a pinch of salt

to serve:

coconut yoghurt (I used COYO)

sliced mango

Make it:

Bring the almond milk, rice and salt to a simmer, and cook on a low heat for 20 - 25 mins, stirring constantly. The rice won’t break down in the way that oats do, so expect a sweet risotto type consistency. It may angrily come to a boil, so keep an eye out.

If you haven’t been introduced to coconut yoghurt yet, well let me do the honours with the aid of this here link. Tesco and Waitrose sell it - it’s a great product whether you want to cut down on dairy or not.

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cooking pickled pumpkin

November 09, 2014

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Pumpkin is too often mashed, puréed and pulsed into baby food. Mashed root vegetables (particularly the sweet ones) cause me fierce upset. And yes I’m looking at you parsnips and sweet potatoes.

I’ve said it before many a time — my idea of hell would be God sitting me down with endless bowls of parsnip risotto and making me do excel spreadsheets forever.

I like acidity, bite and punch. Hellooooo pickles!

This is a new way to enjoy pumpkin, one that will keep it’s structural integrity intact and transform it from sweet and dense, into sharp and bite-y.

But what does it go with you ask?

Well, it will pimp up your cheeseboard no end — think of it as a replacement for quince jelly. Also pretty fine with charcuterie and salty, fatty things like black pudding. Would also make an excellent addition to a salad — think goats’ cheese, kale, walnuts.

pumpkin

Pickled Pumpkin: makes about 1 large kilner jars worth

  • 1 butternut squash or pumpkin
  • a handful of salt
  • 600ml white wine vinegar
  • 400ml water
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Make it:

  • Peel and slice the pumpkin quite thinly
  • Mix it with salt in a large bowl, cover and set aside for 4 hours, then rinse off the salt
  • Bring all the other ingredients to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins
  • Pour the hot liquid over the pumpkin and store in sterilised jars or an airtight container in the fridge
  • Leave the pumpkin for about 3 days before eating. It keeps for ages

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cooking salted cucumbers

October 04, 2014

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Lord knows I love a pickle. I used to secretly swig white wine vinegar from the bottle when I was younger, like some kind of vine-holic.

So it’s with a great level of restraint, that I’m presenting gherkins, that aren’t vinegar. These aren’t pickled, they’re salted.

Why salt a cucumber?

Salting your cuc means that you extract some of the water that can ruin a sandwich, salad or relish or with over-wateriness.

A salted cucumber will have crunch, and can be kept in a jar for about a week, ready for tzatziki and cured salmon on soda bread or indeed just a simple cucumber salad. These are perfumed with garlic and dill, which makes them feel aromatic and Scandi. I’m becoming obsessed with dill. It’s just the best herb — it just is.

Try and find about 6 of those nice small cucumbers you can get at markets, or just chop a couple of big ones up.

Get a plastic bag, and cut your small cucumbers in half, lengthways. Sling the cucumber halves in the bag with a large handful of salt, a large bunch of roughly chopped dill and a handful of crushed garlic. Leave them in there for about 6 hours. The cucumber will have leaked out their water, but still remain crunchy, and they’ll have taken on the garlic and dill flavours lovely.

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cooking kale crisps with sesame yoghurt

September 25, 2014

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I’m aware that kale crisps have been done to death. But not with a cool sesame yoghurt dip they haven’t - oh no.

Not sure whether roasting kale kills its superpowers or not, but they do make excellent crisps. The curly leaves transform into something reminiscent of that deep fried seaweed you get in dodgy Chinese restaurants - but a good clean version.

To make ‘em you only need:

● A large bunch of kale. Washed and left to dry

● 1 tbsp olive oil

● 1 tsp salt

● 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)

For the yoghurt dip you need:

● 100ml natural yoghurt

● 1 tsp ground cumin

● 1 tbsp runny honey

● 1 tbsp tahini paste

What to do:

  1. Cut the leaves up into manageable pieces. Put them in a mixing bowl with olive oil, sugar and salt and go in with your hands

  2. Scatter them about on a baking tray and roast them for about 25mins, or until crispy

  3. For the dip, just mix everything together. Would make quite a nice side dish with the dip drizzled over

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