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May 2014 Archives

cooking roast chicken soup w/sweetcorn dumplings

May 29, 2014



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

Add stock, wine and bay Alt text

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.


Roast Chicken Soup with Sweetcorn Dumplings (serves 6) Preparation Time: 30 mins Cooking Time: 4+ hours

You will need: a whole free-range chicken, roasted for about an hour and a half - keep the juices! 2 carrots, roughly chopped 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped 2 onions, roughly chopped 1 leek, roughly chopped 1 bay leaf 2 garlic cloves, peeled 400ml chicken stock (I used the fresh stock you can get in tubs in the supermarket) white wine (I used leftover prosecco cos’ I sure as hell wasn’t drinking it ever again) Handful of peas Whatever veg your fancy adding to your soup For the dumplings: 100g self-raising flour 50g suet (I used Arora) 100g sweetcorn 120ml cold water Make it! Sweat the vegetables and garlic in the fat (or olive oil) from your roasted chicken until slightly softened. Sit the roast chicken on top of the veg and pour over stock and wine, add enough boiling water so the chicken in mostly submerged. Throw in the bay, lots of salt and pepper and simmer for 4 hours. After about 4 hours, strain the soup and discard the vegetables. Pick the chicken meat and return it to the broth. Add a handful of peas, and some bite-sized vegetables 20mins before serving (if you want veg in it that is). For the dumplings, mix the corn with the suet, a big pinch of salt and bring together with enough cold water to make it sticky but not wet. Roll into 12 balls with floured hands. To cook the dumplings, steam for about 20-25 mins or add them to the soup with the lid on 20 mins before serving.

cooking crispy plantain with scotch bonnet sauce

May 27, 2014


I hadn’t ever really tried plantain except once at primary school. I knew that for me it would be highly convienient to like plantain, the bananas firmer, carbier cousin, because you get buy them EVERYWHERE in South London. 3 for a quid usually.

2 banana

Issue is - I’m not that into bananas. I don’t like the ripe ones. The association of an old banana skin left lying in a plastic bag on car journeys never hasn’t left me since childhood.

If I do eat a banana, I like it to be a little too firm, tinged with green, almost woody. Childhood screws you up.

I tried the green ones first because they were such a beautiful green. DON’T BUY THESE. I fried them up and they just tasted like old tough potato. Possible good for making crisps with though.


Second attempt was better. My corner shop man told me it’s the old yellow/black ones you’ve got to go for. They’re like a cross between a potato and a banana. What I really like is that they are a suitable for savoury stuff, think curries, tacos and toasted sandwiches.


Just shallow fried and scattered with sea salt is good but what really makes them SUPREME is serving them with a really hot smoky pepper sauce - and a little smattering of crumbled feta. It’s like hot - sweet - salty -creamy - cold - firey. And where you find plantain, you can expect to find scotch bonnet chillis - which are properly, ridiculously hot, so you only need one or two.

I don’t have a barbecue, so all my smokiness and charring comes from my gas rings - If you’re adopting this method just make sure you’ve got tongs. Definitely use tongs.

Just sit some peppers in the naked flame until they are blackened


Do the same with the scotch bonnets


Toast the spices in a dry pan then blitz with sugar, vinegar, oil etc.


Heat an inch or so of oil and add the plantain - however you wish to cut it




Keep frying and the rest explains itself :)







Find the recipe here


cooking buttermilk fried chicken

May 23, 2014


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




cooking sweetcorn and halloumi fritters

May 20, 2014


I hadn’t heard of sweetcorn fritters until that wave of Australian breakfast joints hit the UK a few years ago, starting with Bill Granger. I didn’t realise how good Aussies did breakfast.

Sweetcorn fritters are fresh, colourful and lively with chilli. Perfectly brunchy, and really easy to make, just like pancakes. Once you’ve made the batter, have faith, it may seem a wee bit flimsy, but somehow it all sticks together and forms a golden fritter in the pan. The trick is not to fiddle once they’ve hit the pan. Just let it do it’s thing for a few minutes, then gently flip over.

I’ve added halloumi to mine - it counteracts the sweetness of the corn, so there’s no need for bacon.

Just cut the corn (fresh) -


Mix with the batter -


And fry -



Find the recipe here


cooking a carrot salad with peanut dressing

May 20, 2014


Yeah, this isn’t really a recipe, I mean salad is salad but I’ve started questioning why I don’t put stuff like this up on the blog more often? I think it’s because

a) I’m not sure if the camera has got enough juice in it and

b) I don’t think such simplicity is worthy of a recipe. And that’s sort of ridiculous. So here’s my carrot salad that I ate in front of the FA cup final on Saturday.

There is only one rule for carrot salad that I think is really important, and that’s the cutting of the carrots. Either use a Japanese mandolin or cut the carrots into matchsticks by hand. I wouldn’t grate, it makes it all mooshy and wet and rank.

Next the dressing, very important. I’d go Asian. And by Asian I mean put the following in an empty jam jar and shake up:

  • sesame oil
  • rice vinegar
  • mirim
  • tahini or peanut butter

One other thought with carrot salad - just let it be carrots, nothing else other than a smattering of chopped dill and coriander and some seeds if you have them - like black onion seeds (what I used).




I am a fan of, let’s call it one dimensional salad. It’s more confident and eats better than a big old pile of tumbled vegetables.


cooking a matcha latte

May 19, 2014


I first tried matcha green tea powder in Kyoto, where it’s bitter and slightly fishy taste took some getting used to. The powdered matcha is used in traditional tea ceremonies - it’s killer expensive, so makes them more opulant. I believe it’s made by grinding up the whole leaves into a bright green powder, which looks like powdered paint, rather than normal green tea which just uses the leaves steeped in water.

When whisked with water (or almond milk in my case) it makes for a frothy, bubbly matt green milk. It’s meant to be very good for you, I don’t know the science behind it but it has a fucktonne of antioxidants in it, something like 10 times that of spinach.

I am told it’s best not to use normal milk when making your latte, because apparently that kills the oxidents. Ones that are good for a frothy result are rice, almond and soya.

To make one matcha latte you need:

- almond milk

- 1/2 tsp matcha powder

- 1 tsp honey

In a pan, put a little of the almond milk and all of the matcha powder. Whisk until the milk is warm but not boiling, then slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking all the time. Don’t let it get too hot, just nice and warm. Add honey to taste.

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cooking slutty pear tarts

May 15, 2014


Some people find pastry stressful. I understand why. Lining a tart tin properly can be awkward. So this one’s for you.

Tart case, cookie cutters, baking beans, greaseproof paper – be gone. All you need for this recipe is a pair of hands and a rolling pin.

The fruit steams inside the pastry, which stays crisp because it’s cooked upside down, much like a tart tatin. You don’t even need sugar or butter because the pear caramelises its own juices on the baking tray.




I have used this method so far with plums and pears and it’s worked brilliantly. Serve with whatever, but if you’re trying it with pears then chocolate sauce is a no-brainer.

For excellent sweet pastry, I suggest this recipe (divide accordingly.


Find the full recipe here


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.


Find the recipe here


cooking spätzle with brown butter and peas

May 08, 2014


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.




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


cooking chocolate berry bakewell

May 06, 2014

What’s better than a Bakewell tart? I’m not sure I can answer that question, but this Chocolate Berry Bakewell tart is just as good. Technically it’s not a traditional bakewell, the jam layer is replaced with whole berries but it has the other elements of a Bakewell, only kind of easier.


If you haven’t made frangipane before, then let me explain. It’s an almond butter filling, that when baked envelopes whatever fruit you’ve chosen. The frangipane rises and cuddles the berries and forms a tart that is perfectly cakey and moist. It’s very easy to make and hard to fuck up.


I used frozen berries, but fresh cherries would be even better. Sadly Morrison’s didn’t have any in :(

Alt text

Find the recipe here

NB Here is the recipe for the best sweet pastry in the entire world. The recipe in the link doesn’t include a pastry recipe because it’s the slutty way of doing things, but if you’re not a slut see below :)

For the sweet pastry: - 250g plain flour - 100g icing sugar - 100g unsalted butter - 1 egg

Blitz the flour and icing sugar in a food processor, add the butter and finally the egg. Bring the dough together with your hands, cling and refrigerate for over 3 hours, best is overnight.

To bake the tart cases, roll the pastry really thin, no thicker than a 50p. Line the tins and fill with greaseproof and baking beans. Refrigerate for a further 2 hours to prevent it shrinking when it bakes.

Bake on 180C for about 20 mins, then remove the greaseproof for a further 10. Wash the baked cases with egg white and allow to cool. Click the recipe link above for the chocolate frangipane filling.




cooking wild garlic, chicken and farro risotto

May 01, 2014

wild risotto

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

Alt text

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.


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