October 01, 2017
The focus for the blog in 2015 will be mainly vegetarian, peppered with a few exclusively organic meaty and fishy numbers.
I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but I can’t bring myself to even so much as taste non-free range meat anymore and I’m tired of having to explain that I’m not a vegetarian, but I only eat free-range, mostly organic meat blah blah blah.
I decided there should be a name for it. I mean, it’s morally pretty much the same as being a vegetarian. My mate T and I were having this discussion the other day. There was much deliberation on the new name…‘organitarian?’..’occasionarian??’…‘sometimesIeatmeatbutonlywhenit’sorganic-tarian???…’
We settled on qualitarian, hoping that it would be confused for someone who exclusively eats quality street.
So hello (stands up) my name is Alice and I’m a qualitarian.
Jerusalem artichokes are a good vegetable. They’re at their best up until March - something to do with the dark, cold wet soil.
When slow roasted they become sticky and sweet and magically caramelised. I leave them cut in half as they shrink a bit whilst cooking. Also I like their weird knobbly shapes, they look a bit like the ancient Venus of Willendorf (the worlds first ever statue) — and I can only see that as a positive.
Tarragon aioli is sharp, citrussy and like grassy aniseed. It makes the best condiment for them. Like elevated chips and mayonnaise.
Caramelised Jerusalem Artichokes with Tarragon Aioli (makes a huge plates worth)
- about a kilo of jerusalem artichokes, cut in half
- a drizzle of sunflower or canola oil
- a massive pinch of sea salt
for the tarragon aioli
- 1 egg yolk
- juice of a whole lemon
- a pinch of salt, sugar and black pepper
- a bunch of tarragon, finely chopped
- a handful of spinach for colour
- 200ml rapeseed or sunflower oil
- 300ml olive oil
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2
Rub the halved artichokes in oil and salt
Roast for about an hour and a half making sure there’s some space between them. Turn them halfway
To make the aioli, add the yolk, lemon juice, salt, sugar and black pepper to a processor. Whiz up and add the oil gradually in a steady stream. Add the tarragon and spinach and blitz until smooth
August 31, 2015
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.
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
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
Take the peppers and co. out of the plastic bags and discard their skins and chop everything (keep the seeds in the chillies)
Add them to the softened onion
Add the sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic and thyme
Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30min
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)
Pass through a fine sieve
Leave to cool
June 20, 2015
Ting is a can of grapefruit soda. You can buy in Peckham, Brixton or Stockwell, or anywhere with a Caribbean vibe. My local roti shop has a steady supply…
Now, I’m well aware that unless you’re a South London naative, you may not have easy access to any Ting—if so fear not.
I like to do my own Ting. It’s a trusty hangover quencher and an excellent summer mixer. It works well as Gin an Ting, Vodka n Ting, Rum n Ting—any Ting, really. Ok, I’ll stop now.
Make some Ting!
75g caster sugar
4 yellow grapefruits
1 litre soda water
Bring the sugar and water to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Fridge it up for an hour or so until completely chilled. I usually make up a batch and keep it for things like sorbets.
Juice the grapefruits, strain the juice…
… combine it with the soda water and ice.
Add the sugar syrup to your taste. If it’s a particularly scorchio day and you own a blender, add a tonne of ice and make yourself a Ting slushie.
You can do the same with limes, lemons and blood oranges.
April 25, 2015
I love how you can get prosecco by the glass now, pretty much everywhere in London. Sure, you can’t find a room in a flat in for less than a million pounds, but the whole prosecco-by-the-glass-thing I’m finding helps soften the blow.
I wasn’t sure whether making Aperol Spritz jelly was either ingenius to the core, or kind of DISGUSTING. Anyway, I made several, then decided it was genius. Jelly & Fizz = lolz. I suggest if you’re making them as an aperitiv, add an olive to each glass. If you’re having them as a dessert add a blood orange segment and a dollop of mascarpone.
Aperol Spritz Jelly (makes one big jelly or several little)
1 bottle prosecco (750ml)
5 gelatine leaves
100g caster sugar
green olives (optional)
Combine about 500ml of the prosecco with the Aperol, and set aside
Soak your gelatine leaves in cold water for 5min until they’re soft and wobbly
Heat up the remaining prosecco and the sugar in a pan until nearly boiling
Remove the hot liquid from the heat and whisk in the wobbly gelatine until it’s all dissolved
Gently whisk the hot gelatine liquid into the cold prosecco and Aperol. If you stir really gently, you won’t loose the bubbles
Pour the liquid into glasses or your mould. If you want the olive in there, just pour half way up the glass - chill it for about an hour keeping your reserved liquid out of the fridge so it doesn’t set, then add the olive and fill to the top with the leftover mixture
April 06, 2015
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.
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
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
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
Add about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and paint the mixture all over the cauli. This bit’s quite fun
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.
March 29, 2015
As much as I love a chargrilled octopus - sometimes I just need beans. Usually it’s on a Sunday. When I haven’t slept. I think of them as recovery beans.
Making your own beans is basic. You don’t get that gluey-type substance that comes with a certain well know bean manufacturer. Depending on whether you’re too blue to chew, you can make toast ‘crumbs’. All the texture and flavour of toast, only a little easier to swallow.
Homemade Beans (serves 4)
1 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted in a dry pan for 30 secs and pestle and mortared)
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
100g streaky bacon, diced (you can leave this out easily)
1 red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
x2 400g tins of cannellini beans or haricot beans (I used one of each), drained and rinsed
a hefty few shakes of worcester sauce
butter to finish
Fry the chopped bacon in a casserole dish for 5 mins, then add the onion and fennel seeds and cook for a further 3
Add the garlic, chilli flakes and black pepper and cook for a further 5
Add the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 2
Add the chopped tomatoes, and swirl out the tin with the same volume of water - add and simmer until reduce by 2/3rds
Add the beans and slowly simmer for 20min
Finish with a gigantic knob of butter and the worcester sauce (this is what makes it)
You can make the toast crumbs by ripping up some sourdough into chunks. Drizzle them with olive oil and salt and bake until really hard for about 20mins on 180C. Then blitz them.
February 06, 2015
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
coconut yoghurt (I used COYO)
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.
February 01, 2015
A recipe for Chinese New Year 2015, the year of the sheep.
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.
Quantities serve about 2:
For the black rice
150g black rice
A few splashes of soy sauce
A few drizzles of toasted sesame oil
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
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
Roughly chop the ginger, chillis and garlic
Blitz them in a processor with the fish sauce
…then add 1/3rd of a tin of chopped tomatoes and blitz again
Cook it on low for about 20 mins, before adding the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 5, then leave to cool
For the egg ribbons
Just whisk up 3 eggs as if you were making an omelette (use Burford Browns if you can)
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
Carry on until you’ve used up all the mix and pile the crepes on top of each other
Roll them up..
Separate them into ribbons
For the smacked 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…
Cut it up quite chunky…
And add everything else - you can make this up to a day before, just drain the liquid off it before serving
Serve the rice with all the extras. Pure health!
December 29, 2014
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…
Simmered Beef & Carrots (serves 8)
1 rolled beef brisket
(veg for simmering)
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
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!
November 09, 2014
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.
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
- 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