They’ve started stocking cobbler in my local Sainsbury’s, which I love because it’s one of the cheapest on the fresh fish aisle (it works out at just over a pound per fillet) and every time I’ve bought some, it’s tasted pretty fresh. Annoyingly it seems that everyone else has cottoned on to this and they’re now almost always sold out of it. So I made this version with trout.
I’m also a bit of an aioli fan, mainly because it’s so easy that even a dufus like me can make it. Plus the basil and pomegranate molasses take it somewhere very special indeed. You need to give it a few hours or even an overnighter to really leach out those herbal essences, which is ideal if you’re planning to have it for a manic Monday night supper – all you really need to do is get home and fry up your fish.
for the aioli
1 fresh egg yolk
1 crushed clove garlic
salt to taste
approx 20g (most of a plant from the herb aisle) basil leaves, finely chopped
1-2 tsp. pomegranate molasses
for the fish
2 x fish fillets
1 tsp. curry powder
splash of oil to fry
- Using an electric whisk gradually whisk the egg yolk with incremental droplets of oil until you have an emulsion. Thereafter you can take things up a gear.
- Add the garlic, salt, basil and pomegranate molasses. Taste, bearing in mind that the basil will intensify over time. Chill until needed.
- When you’re ready to eat, mix the flour, salt and curry powder on a plate and dredge the fish. Fry until crisp and serve with the aioli, steamed greens and a mound of buttery pilaff. Also makes an excellent posh fish finger sarnie.
I haven’t written a restaurant review for aaages.
But the food at White Rabbit was amazing enough to make me want to. I’m still obsessing over a stand out dish of charred broccoli (and as someone who really doesn’t like broccoli, trust me when I say this was a revelation) with mead puree, pickled mustard seeds and almonds. The vegetable had an almost meaty caramelisation to it, while still retaining a tender vibrancy. I’ve never wanted to eat broccoli as a main course before but I could have happily sat there and polished off plate after plate of this.
A small dish of of burrata, sweet pickled plums, squash, sea purslane, pumpkin seeds and fennel pollen was scarfed with gusto, the perfectly al dente squash worked really well with the sweet and sour plums and velvety cheese. Charred aubergine with smoked yoghurt, honey and ash was another winner. Having said that the yoghurt may have been a teensy bit overkill. Just ever so slightly.
Gin and beetroot smoked salmon bejewelled with roe, a pickled tangle of fennel, dill pollen and pomegranate was an exercise in freshness and light. This was followed with hake with burnt leeks and confit garlic aioli which was hauntingly flavoursome, the tiny beads of smoked yeast like so many hundreds and thousands, laced with pure eau de croissant. We fought over a bowl of mussels in miso dashi with shiitake mushrooms, which was basically layer upon layer of concentrated savoury goodness. Then a dish of king scallop with hunks of Tuscan sausage, harissa, coriander oil and crowned with straw potatoes which was sweet, spicy and demolished in seconds. It’s a bit of an understatement to say they do some pretty clever things with seafood in this place.
We were so full at this point that we were reduced to just morosely picking at the final dish of lamb belly with miso and melon radish. If I had one criticism it was that the lamb wasn’t crispy enough for my liking and the miso barely detectable.
On a Saturday night the place was rammed. Nonetheless the staff managed to remain incredibly laid back, approachable and totally clued up about everything on the menu. I was invited to eat at White Rabbit, but in the words of Mr A Schwarzenegger – I will be back.
16 Bradbury St
020 7682 0163
Sprouts are possibly my least favourite of all vegetables. I’ve always been baffled by their time honoured spot on the table of otherwise deliciousness that makes up Christmas lunch.
So when an errant net of these toxic little brassicas turned up in my veg box I decided to do what I always do when faced with the unpalatable and give them a Bengali makeover.
Panch phoran, that magical Bengali five spice of fennel, fenugreek, cumin, mustard and nigella works really effectively here, namely because the fennel and mustard seeds temper and tame any sulphuric business. You do need to shred the sprouts quite finely and to patiently steam fry over a lowish heat until they’re properly caramelised and charred. A splash of coconut milk to mellow things out and a handful of prawns if you’ve got them make this a killer dish to have alongside a nice tomato, red onion and coriander salad and a stack of parathas to mop the lot up.
brussel sprouts, trimmed and finely shredded
1 tbsp. oil
a pinch of turmeric
1-2 tsp. panch phoran (alternatively add fennel, cumin, mustard, nigella, fenugreek seeds)
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. fresh finely shredded ginger
1 tsp. dried red chilli (or chilli powder)
200ml coconut milk
- heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and all the spices.
- Tip in the sprouts, mix well and fry over a lowish heat, partially covered with a lid for about 15-20 minutes or until charred and caramelised.
- Add the salt and sugar and adjust seasoning according to taste. Add the coconut milk and serve.
Niku jaga, literally means “meat and potatoes” in Japanese. I’ve had such a hankering for this simple hearty stew lately. I first tried it in the depths of a very snowy Saitama Winter when my neighbours Kei-chan and Masa-chan invited me over for dinner. Slightly sweet, savoury and rich with soy and caramelised beef, this is more comforting than a Hello Kitty onesey. It might seem a bit odd to add sugar to a beef stew, but my mum always adds a hefty pinch to her phenomenal meat curries and here the see-saw of salty-sweet really works. The niku is traditionally wafer-thin slices of fatty steak but I found it to be just as satisfying with some leftover roast topside. If you do invest in steak, the whole thing is padded out with enough potatoes, carrots and shiitake mushrooms to justify matters. Perfect with a fat tangle of udon or steaming rice and fantastic the next day once the flavours have done that developing thing.
- 1 tbsp. oil for frying
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped into wedges
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
- leftover roast beef or steak, thinly sliced
- 500ml dashi stock/beef stock
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. sake/dry sherry
- 3 tbsp. mirin
- 4 tbsp. soy sauce
- shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 100ml boiling water
- handful of green beans
Heat the oil up over a medium heat and saute the onions. After a few minutes add the potatoes and saute for another five minutes.
Add the carrots and mix well. Finally stir in the beef and continue to cook until it’s just turned pink.
Sprinkle over the sugar and stir until everything begins to caramelise then throw in the sake and reduce. Add the mushrooms and the soaking water.
Add the dashi, mirin and soy and bring to the boil (skim off any scum that arises)
Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes, add the beans.
Simmer for a further 5 minutes and serve.
Faced with a glut of coxes I decided to try my hand at pickling a few. I can’t believe I’ve never done this before because pickled apples are truly superb. Sweet and crunchy yet saturated with the acidity of cider vinegar, these were the perfect partner to some smoked mackerel and fat chunks of garlic roasted onion squash. I trickled over lime and cumin yoghurt dressing for a truly autumnal mid week supper.
for the apples
2-3 coxes or other eating apples
100ml cider vinegar
8 tsp. caster sugar
1 tsp. salt
for the roasted squash
one onion squash (or any squash) hacked into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a sprinkling of mace
for the dressing
250ml greek yoghurt
a splash of olive oil
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground roasted cumin seeds
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 a finely diced red onion
the juice of half a lime
a handful of toasted sunflower seeds
smoked mackerel, flaked
- mix the sugar, salt, vinegar and water together in a bowl until dissolved. Core and chunk the apples and leave to steep in this mixture.
- Toss the pieces of squash in the mace, garlic, salt and oil and roast for about 40-50 minutes at gas mark 4 until tender.
- Mix the dressing ingredients together. Place the lettuce, seeds and cress in a salad bowl with the mackerel. Add the roasted squash and the drained pickled apples. Dress liberally with the yoghurt.
I had a salad last week that I can’t stop thinking about.
It was part of a lunch cooked by Ben Spalding representing the sort of thing we’ll all be eating in the year 2063. As part of the London Design Festival, Miele collaborated with Ben to create a futuristic foodie vision, more of which you can check out here. I was intrigued as I’d heard a lot about Ben, who’s worked with the likes of Heston and Raymond Blanc, but had never actually had the chance to try his cooking before.
Turns out that he’s a bit of a creative genius. I really admire his experimental approach to food and his contempt for any sort of waste (this is someone who likes to make interesting things to eat from burnt lime rind and banana peel). I also like the way he challenges conventional fine dining norms. “Cucumber and vodka” turned out to be a gel that we licked from the back of our hands (because let’s face it, all food tastes better when you do away with cutlery). We kicked things off with Patrik’s raw butter from Goteborg, sourdough loaf whipped malt bread and fermented elderflower. Veal brain dumplings with 3 month old kimchi was presented in an uber kawaii mini bamboo steamer and served with a crazy cocktail containing clamped carrot juice, tonka beans, tuna mayonnaise and lime which sounded disgusting but tasted like a well rounded virgin Mary with a kick. Yum. This functional food cocktail was supposed to contain all the essential minerals and macro nutrients we’ll need to survive. Sticky rice with a savoury gravy was also lush (I skipped on the pork but was told it was very good). But for me, it was all about that salad. Every mouthful a lucky dip of liquorice, intensely sweet peach, aniseed here, earthy salty beetroot there, and a whole load of other stuff we couldn’t even begin to identify. All the ingredients were sourced from within London and the cress was grown in a prototype farmino machine. We finished with a microwave cake with iced lemon thyme and muscovado sugar that was the very essence of strawberry shortcake dolls (in a good way).
I came away feeling inspired, full, thoroughly spoilt and like I could really, really do with a farmino machine in my life.
Tricky, pretty things, courgette flowers. Fiddly to stuff and yet too good to chuck away. I’m a big fan of Helen’s brown shrimp and crab recipe and also this quesadilla one, by Homesick Texan. My mum likes to rake them through a lightly spiced batter before shallow frying. These are especially good with cucumber raita and a hot cup of tea.
2 tbsp. gram flour
2 tbsp. rice flour
1 shallot, grated
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. powdered cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp. salt
- Mix all the ingredients bar the flowers, adding enough water to form a thick paste.
- remove the stamens from the flowers. Dredge each flower in the paste until fully coated.
- shallow fry until crisp. Eat immediately.
I’m a truly rubbish Muslim. Seriously. I’ve been known to enjoy the odd half of snakebite, am married to a devout atheist; rarely buy halal anything and would never dream of circumcising my baby boy. Despite this, I’m still a Muslim and am therefore incredibly excited about the UK’s first and indeed, the world’s largest halal food festival at the London ExCel from 27-29 September. Let’s face it, it’s about time “haloodies” were represented in a predominantly non-Islamic foodie ocean of white, middle class bacon munchers. As Islamophobia continues to spread its poisonous tentacles and as seemingly every government, power and faction has homicidal designs upon the people of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon; it’s good to see something positive for Muslims for a change, even if that something is as simple as a food festival.
The festival will feature cooking demos from Cyrus Todiwala, Shelina Permaloo and Jean Christophe Novelli. I’m particularly excited about the launch of Indian street food by Cinnamon Kitchen chefs “Joho Soho” and can’t wait to try their Bengali mutton and fenugreek chicken. I’m also looking forward to feasting on Palestinian medjool dates, stuffed with organic fairtrade nuts and topped with rosebuds by The Datelatiers. Meanwhile here’s a recipe for Papeta pur eeda or “simply divine eggs on potato” from Cyrus Todiwala. Mashallah!
Cyrus’ PAPETA PUR EEDA
THIS IS QUITE SIMPLY DIVINE “EGGS ON POTATO”.
POTATO One large, peeled and sliced to approximately 1/8th of aninch thick. If you have a mandolin you’ll get more even slices, otherwise do not fret.
one medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small, finely chopped green chilli
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander
4 eggs, organic if possible
salt, to taste
two to three tablespoons or half oil half butter (Cyrus prefers to add a healthy heap of butter once the cumin is coloured)
Peel, slice the potato, wash and set aside.
Slit the onion into half and slice thinly.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the cumin seeds.
Allow them to sizzle for a minute or two over a medium flame.
Add the green chillies & garlic, saute for a further minute or two before adding the sliced onion. Saute for a minute or two until opaque and add the potato slices.
Saute for at least three to four minutes, sprinkle salt and level out the contents of the pan. Add enough water to just below the level of the contents, cover the pan and on a low flame cook until the potatoes are just tender, but still firm without being mushy.
At this stage Cyrus likes to add a small spring onion thinly sliced and sprinkled, but it is optional. Sprinkle over the coriander, check the seasoning, mix gently and level the contents of the pan again, ensuring the sides of the pan are clean.
Make four, well spaced indentations with an egg where you would like to have each egg. This should roughly be one and a half inches from the sides of the pan.
Break each egg taking care to drop the yolk into each cavity.
Cover the pan and cook over a very low flame.
The eggs will poach in the steam, however if the heat is too high the potatoes will burn.
When done to your liking, cut out into four segments and serve with mango chutney and warm baguettes.
I have quite the soft spot for the spicy beanburger. This has less to do with the weird, pappy texture and everything to do with the memory it evokes of errant teenage years. My first ever boyfriend was a very angry, very well read and very political vegetarian. He was also an excellent cook. Together we’d stomp around the mean streets of HA2 in our army surplus jackets, going halves on packets of Superkings and taking the proverbial out of all the posh kids from the hill. Our favourite past time was frittering away hours in charity shops and second hand record shops. The best one by far had to be Sellanby on Northolt Road. I once flogged my entire Throwing Muses and Mudhoney collection in there just to scrape together the necessary to make a pavlova. Any particularly good finds would be celebrated with a spicy beanburger from the Wimpy.
These, thankfully are nothing like the ones from the Wimpy. They’re much, much tastier, despite all the salt*. A couple of points – you do need to char the hell out of them and they are pretty crumbly so make sure you cook them properly on each side to ensure a good crust. Also, *you will need a ton of salt. Plus a long list of other ingredients, including an entire jar of chipotle paste. You absolutely must not leave the fresh green chilli out, and I urge you to add more if you feel the need. Oh, and you will need to soak your beans overnight and roast and grate some beetroot. In short, they are a tremendous faff, but they are totally and utterly worth it. This makes enough for about 50 so once you’ve perfected your magenta mastermix you can just stash it away in the freezer forever.
3 large whole beetroot
300g of your favourite dried beans (I went for a mixture of 100g each of aduki, black turtle and kidney) soaked overnight
100g brown rice
2 medium onions
5 cloves garlic
a fistful of coriander stalks, chopped finely
1 dried chipotle
2 heaped tsp. cumin seeds
vegetable stock, about a litre
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
v.fine porridge oats (whizz fat ones in the blender if necessary)
2-3 tsp. Colmans mustard
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tbsp. dark miso paste
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
100g jar of chipotle paste
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1-2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced
a lot of salt. Honestly, I must have used at least 2 tablespoons.
- heat a splash of olive oil and add the cumin seeds, whole chipotle, one of the onions and half the garlic. Once browned add the coriander stalks and the soaked beans, plus enough vegetable stock to cover. Bring to the boil then simmer for an hour.
- Wrap the beetroot in foil and roast at Gas mark 6 for an hour. Add the brown rice to the beans and continue to simmer for another half an hour or until the beans are tender, the rice is cooked and the water has almost evaporated.
- In a small frying pan, fry the remaining onion and garlic. Once browned, splash in the cider vinegar to deglaze and set aside. Allow the beetroot to cool before grating into a bowl. Blitz the rice and bean mixture in a food processor and stir into the grated beetroot (you can either finely chop the whole chipotle or chuck it at this point), adding the fried onion and garlic mixture and enough oats to form a moist mixture (a bit like the texture of mince).
- Season with the mustard, smoked paprika, miso, soy sauce, salt, chipotle paste, thyme and oregano. Stir in the fresh green chilli. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before forming into patties and then frying in a little olive oil, ensuring the burgers are well charred on both sides.
I was extremely chuffed to have my recipe for Bebek Betutu AKA Indonesian ceremonial barbecued duck featured in The Sunday Times magazine a couple of weeks ago. The article was penned by the incredibly talented Mr Oliver Thring and featured some of Britain’s best food bloggers.
In case you missed it, here’s the recipe again:
2kg duck, giblets removed
1 cinnamon stick
10 shallots or 2 medium onions
1 bulb of garlic, segmented and peeled
6 macadamia nuts
2 tsp. shrimp paste
50g ginger, peeled
1 tsp. turmeric
3 red chillies, roughly chopped
2 sticks lemongrass, roughly chopped (tough outer leaves discarded)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. coriander powder
Juice of 1 lime
5 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 tbsp. coconut/vegetable oil
2 tbsp. water
100g spinach leaves, roughly chopped
The night before you want to eat, wash and pat the duck dry. Blend all remaining ingredients bar the spinach to a thick paste.
Mix half the paste with the spinach and rub the remaining paste all over the duck and inside the cavity. Stuff the duck cavity with the spinach mixture and wrap the whole thing very well in foil until completely airtight. Marinade overnight in the fridge.
The next day place the wrapped duck in a hooded BBQ for 4 hours (or alternatively in an oven at 160C for 2 hours and then at 120C for another 2 hours).
- Unwrap the duck and pour the juices into a small pan. Carefully scrape off any excess marinade and add to the juices. Simmer to reduce a little and stir in some of the stuffing. Very carefully return the unwrapped duck to the BBQ or into a hot oven to crisp up the skin. Serve the sauce in a bowl alongside the duck.
Because actual barbecued battered fish and vinegar sodden chips would of course be pretty disgusting. This is a much fresher version of that classic British marriage of fish and tuber. Think salmon fillets, sea bass and par boiled slices of spud marinated in a punchy garlic, caper and herb sauce (a kind of cross between a tartare and a chimichurri if you will – it basically tastes like something that’s been dragged through the herb garden, in a good way) and then slapped over glowing embers. The perfect midweek supper, this took very little time to put together. Slices of fennel, lemon and spring onion were also striped to smoky perfection and a lavish glop of said sauce anointed everything on the plate. Smoke and garlic. Two of my absolute favourite things, brought together for the punchiest of hot coal experiences this side of summer.
*Disclaimer: I’m constantly being asked to link to websites and very rarely do. However,I have a massive soft spot for John Lewis and if like me, you’re sick of those frankly dangerous flimsy disposable supermarket jobs, they have some excellent and very sturdy looking barbecues. Personally, I’m gutted the portable charcoal kettle’s out of stock.
for the sauce:
1 bunch flat leaf parsley (with stalks) – 50g
chopped sage leaves – 1 tbsp
1 small bulb garlic
1-2 tbsp. capers
120ml extra virgin olive oil
60ml white wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
2 small shallots
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
for the rest
2 salmon fillets
2 small seabass
4-5 medium Maris Piper potatoes, peeled, sliced into pound coin thickness and parboiled for 5 -8 minutes
1 bulb fennel, sliced
2-3 spring onions halved lengthways
- blitz all sauce ingredients until you have a thick, verdant gloop and refrigerate for at least an hour to develop.
- Mix the potato and fennel slices in a couple of tablespoons of the sauce and set aside to marinade.
- In a shallow dish, stuff the seabass cavity with some of the sauce. Make shallow cuts in the salmon and baste in the marinade.
- Barbecue the fish, spring onion, fennel and potato slices until everything is crisp and cooked through, adding more sauce as required.
I came across this at Yalla Yalla the other day. Gloriously sharp and refreshing, it’s immensely quaffable and there’s been nothing else I’ve wanted to drink quite so much since. Don’t forget to strip the leaves from the stalks. There’s nothing worse than stalky bits in your lemonade.
the juice of 4 lemons
45g mint (leaves only)
75g caster sugar
1 litre water
optional- a dollop of orange blossom honey
- make a rough syrup by placing the sugar and water in a pan and simmer until just dissolved.
- Blitz the mint and lemon juice in a blender. Add the cooled syrup, honey (if using) and adjust adding more lemon, mint or sugar as required. Serve with plenty of ice.
Summertime stodge. Nobody nails it quite like those canny Greeks. This classic melange of lamb, tomato and rice-shaped pasta is the ideal thing to simmer up and leave on the blip while you crack on with more important things (like constructing makeshift paddling pools from plastic buckets, for example). I particularly love the way the grains of orzo swell up with cinnamon scented lamby juices and have included smoked aubergine and anchovy stuffed olives in my version. Although I’m guessing it’s not completely authentic; I can confirm that by heck it’s tasty.
This is at it’s most delicious served ever so slightly warm with lots of Greek salad and ripped up baguette.
half a shoulder of lamb, cubed
1 aubergine, chunked
8-10 shallots, peeled and halved
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 glass red wine
2 tbsp. anchovy stuffed olives
1 cinnamon stick
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 pint stock (lamb or vegetable)
2 tsp. each of dried oregano and thyme
1 dried chilli
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
100g feta, diced
fresh mint leaves
- in a large pan brown the lamb in batches and set aside. Fry onion and garlic in the fat. Place the aubergine over a gas burner or in the oven to blister. Cool when black.
-return the lamb to the pot, crank up the heat and pour in the wine. Reduce and introduce the olives, tomatoes, rosemary, chilli, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and stock. Peel and dice the aubergine and add to the pot.
- simmer over a low heat for at least 2 hrs (I lasted for 4). Stir occasionally and more water as necessary.
-Remove cinnamon stick. Add more water and tip in the orzo. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the orzo is done.
- Serve in shallow bowls strewn with feta and mint.
A cross between a crumpet and a pancake, Beghrir are a bubbly, lacy breakfast favourite in Morocco. They’re also an excellent way of using up any semolina you might have hanging around. Cooked on one side only and traditionally smothered in butter and honey, you need to make sure that your batter isn’t too viscous. My mother in law gave me some beautiful Hampshire rhubarb recently and I came up with this tart, fragrant compote. The pop of stem ginger and cardamom works a treat with the magenta stems. If you can’t be bothered to wait for the Beghrir batter to do it’s thing you can always make the batter the night before and just let the mixture come to room temperature before frying. Just the thing for a rainy day brunch.
makes about 20 Beghrir
for the compote
4-5 sticks of rhubarb, roughly chopped into chunks
250ml orange juice
5 green cardamom pods
3 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped plus a tablespoon of the syrup
50g brown sugar
for the Beghrir
60ml warm water
1 tbsp. active dried yeast
2 tsp. sugar
225g fine semolina
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
440ml tepid water
sunflower/vegetable oil for frying
- Make the beghrir batter by placing the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkling with yeast and then sugar. Set aside somewhere warm to activate for 5-10 minutes (it should start to look frothy).
- Tip the semolina, flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the frothy yeast mixture, vanilla, beaten egg and tepid water. Mix to form a smooth, creamy batter (it should have the consistency of thin cream). Cover and set aside for an hour.
- Meanwhile, place all the compote ingredients into a pan and simmer for about 30-40 minutes (or until the rhubarb is tender). Fish out the cardamom pods and discard.
- To cook the beghrir, heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Brush with a thin coating of oil. Stir the batter and pour a ladleful into the hot pan. Cook without turning until the surface becomes pockmarked with tiny craters and the base is a deep, golden brown. Remove and continue to add a little more oil to the pan for each one. Serve immediately with the compote.
So here’s one for the diary. Next Saturday (8th June) yours truly will be demonstrating how to make the above plateful of brunchtime goodness in the Chef’s Theatre at the Clapham Common Foodies Festival. I’ll be cooking alongside the likes of Ian Pengelley, Omar Allibhoy and Shelina Permalloo (winner of Masterchef 2012) and will be on at 11.00am. Please do swing by and say hello if you’re in the vicinity (more details here).
Later that afternoon, I’ll be heading over to Hyde Park for the Big IF event. You should too. It’s going to be a glorious day.
If you like the sound of this, please vote for my recipe on twitter or clicking here (using @gastrogeek @McArthurGlenUK #LeCreuset #CastIronChallenge) , to be in with a chance to win yourself a Le Creuset voucher worth £50.
One pot mussel wonder
1 kg mussels
40g butter plus a splash of olive oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
15-20 curry leaves
2 onions (about 225g) finely chopped
3 bay leaves
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1-2 dried red chillies
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. tamarind paste
200g wholegrain/brown basmati rice
300ml dry cider
400ml coconut milk
200ml vegetable stock
150g frozen peas
fresh coriander and lime wedges to serve
- check over the mussels, ripping out any beards, chucking away any that are broken, or that refuse to close despite being given a good tap against a hard surface. Stick the rest in a colander and wash under cold running water for a couple of minutes.
- Melt the butter over a medium heat and add the olive oil to prevent burning. Once it’s hot add the curry leaves, mustard and cumin seeds and allow to spit and crackle. Add the onion, bay leaves, garlic, chilli powder, curry powder, turmeric, salt and dried chillies and reduce to a very low heat. Allow to slowly brown and caramelise for a good half an hour or so.
- Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Glug in the cider and tamarind paste and turn the heat up to reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add the coconut milk, stock and sugar. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is almost cooked through (this took about 25 minutes, but it depends on your rice).
- Remove the lid and add the peas and mussels. Turn the heat up fairly high and put the lid on. After about 10 minutes they should all have opened (discard any that haven’t).
- Ladel the rice into warm soup bowls, pile the mussels on top, squeeze with plenty of lime juice and strew with the coriander.
Ever find yourself wanting to trash your local fried chicken shop? Feel yourself coming over all Taxi Driver when you’re sat next to selfish gits stinking out the train with their big macs? Or are you just a bit worried about the bloated, degenerative way in which we’re collectively sleep-running towards obesity and type 2 diabetes? Jamie’s Food Revolution Day takes place next Friday (17th May) and I’ll be doing my little bit by hosting an interactive sushi rolling session for toddlers at the Toy Library in Walthamstow.
We’ll be rolling up our maki with a selection of the following treats: brown sushi rice, miso roasted salmon, avocado, cucumber, crab sticks, pickled carrot, spinach, spring onion, daikon, steamed asparagus and sesame-yuzu cream cheese.
It’s going to be brilliant, messy and chaotic fun. Sign up here to host your own event.
Now that we’re finally onto salad weather, I find myself hankering for nice bit of smoked mackerel. Not that flabby rubbish they vac pack in supermarkets but a proper whole smoked specimen from the fishmongers. For something cheap and delicious that will last for ages in the fridge you can’t do much better than one of these golden beauties.
salt and pepper
- mix the dressing ingredients adjusting the levels of horseradish, chilli and lime to your personal preference.
- combine the salad ingredients. Mix with the dressing just before eating.
Larb, larp, laap whatever you call it, this Lao mince salad has started regularly presenting its zingy little face at our dinner table. Hot, caramelised meat plus frying pan juices poured over crunchy herbal salad, sharply dressed, sprinkled with toasted rice and skinned up with a crisp iceberg leaf. Mmmm.
The “khao khua” or roasted rice powder is a must and as easy as toasting some Thai sticky (or in my case pudding) rice in a dry frying pan and then pounding to grit (or you could just buy a pack from an Oriental supermarket). I marinated chicken thighs overnight before chopping into teeny tiny pieces, pre-minced meat would of course be the more convenient, if less texturally fine option.
There are no claims to authenticity here; I prefer to see larb as a truly magical way of saving salad drawer remnants from the bin. After six months of Winter comfort food the freshness factor has been a welcome relief.
4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
The juice of one lime
1 shallot or small onion, finely sliced
A little neutral oil (groundnut’s good)
For the salad
3 fat spring onions, finely sliced
½ a yellow, red and green pepper, thinly sliced
A few big handfuls of beansprouts
2 handfuls of coriander, finely chopped
1 handful of mint, finely shredded
1 -2 fresh red Thai chillies, finely chopped
For the dressing
4 tbsp. fish sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. Thai chilli jam/sauce
Pinch of palm/brown sugar
The juice of a lime
3-4 tbsp. uncooked sticky rice or khao khua powder
1 iceberg lettuce
Mix the chicken thighs with the oyster sauce and the juice of one of the limes. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or even overnight if you can.
If toasting your own rice, heat a dry frying pan and tip in the rice. Once it turns golden and smells popcorn-like, remove from the heat and grind to a coarse powder. Keep in an airtight jar, ready for your next fix.
Mix the salad ingredients. Separate the iceberg leaves out. Combine the dressing ingredients and adjust until you’re happy with the sour, salty, hot balance.
Finely chop the chicken and mix well with the marinade.
Heat a frying pan and add just a little slick of oil. When it’s hot, add the shallot and fry until almost crisp. Tip in the chicken and cook until it starts to caramelise in places.
Pour the hot chicken into the cold salad and mix well. Dress, sprinkle with the toasted rice, wrap in leaves of iceberg and eat immediately.
It’s been one of those months. One of those endless months where every cupboard is ransacked for pulses and grains to eke out. One of those never ending months where unlabelled plastic boxes are hopefully defrosted and root vegetables are repeatedly experimented with. And one of those long, long months where we squint at the shopping receipts again and again and wonder if we dare stick the heating on.
We rarely argue, but all of a sudden, our differences in priorities over the food shop slip from teeny fissures into yawning, great chasms. Like most people that just aren’t that fussed about what canters down the cakehole, my OH is content to blithely lob Cathedral City and caged eggs into the basket, whereas I will forego new threads and lather up with budget shampoo in order to eat well. And so we bicker and then we compromise and what we’re left with is a schizo fridge where organic whole milk rubs shoulders with basics Mozarella next to locally grown kale next to a jar of ready made pasta sauce next to a pan full of the stuff I’ve made myself from scratch. We’re both convinced the other has got it completely wrong and we’re enjoying a particularly heated conversation to this effect, when the doorbell goes and it’s like all my religious festivals have come at once.
When Farmison asked if I wanted to review some of their stuff, I wasn’t expecting an entire fortnight’s worth of gourmet delights. But hallelujah here they are, the magnificent fruit and veg box (red skinned potatoes-check, properly sweet oranges-check), the meat box brimming with Dexter veal and salt marsh lamb and the most amazing cheese box we’ve ever had. Even better than our wedding cake.
Farmison deliver seasonal, local produce that they’ve lovingly sourced from the farm to your doorstep within 48 hours. If ever I win the lottery I am going to order my food from them all the time and exile crappy Cheddar from my fridge forever. Until then I’ve got the memory of this incredible lot to feast off.
The veal and lamb go straight in the freezer and I joint up the chicken. The breast goes into Fuchsia Dunlop’s celestial gong bau chicken and the legs and thighs make a killer tikka masala, padded out with plenty of vegetables. The carcass forms the base of a chicken and vegetable soup with parsley dumplings, so that chook alone keeps us going for a good 3 days. And the cheeses, oh the cheeses! The cheeses are a revelation.We spend a couple of days just looking at them, calculating in which order to demolish. We tussle over the Bluemin White and inhale the whole thing with crackers in front of the iplayer. The only duff note is the Caboc, which is almost aggressively cloying, it’s basically a cylinder of double cream rolled in oats. The Harrogate blue is one of the most exciting examples of immortalised milk I’ve ever sampled. My new happy place consists of buttercup golden saltiness shot through with the tangiest of moulds. I single-handedly pick at the entire wedge one exhausted evening.
The Monk’s Folly is sliced into a potato, caramelised shallot and sundried tomato tart. The Yorkshire Blue is crumbled into a sharp dressing which we fork through the remnants of the cabbage. The Dexter veal is languorously pot roasted for hours with sage,oregano, parsley, garlic, wine and cream. We watch the snow fall and have it sliced thickly with creamed turnips and potatoes. The salt marsh lamb is baked to tenderness in a salt dough crust. The apples go into a sticky toffee date and apple pudding. The Marie Flower goes into some decadently oozing little feuilletés . We make it through to payday. Just.
Marie Flower and balsamic spinach feuilletés
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 nuggets of frozen spinach
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. finely grated decent cheddar
1 block of Marie flower (or other soft sheep’s cheese) rind removed and cut into 1cm cubes
Freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper
1 sheet ready rolled all butter puff pastry
1 beaten egg mixed with a little milk to glaze
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently soften the garlic and shallot. Add the spinach nuggets and the balsamic vinegar and cook until defrosted. Remove from the heat, cool and stir in the cubes of Marie Flower, sour cream and cheddar. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Flour your surface and roll out the pastry. Cut into 8 squares. Heap the contents of the pan equally in the centre of each square, leaving a thick margin all around. Brush the edges of each square with the eggy-milk wash and bring the corners in to the centre and crimp together to form a sort of envelope. Try not to leave any gaps or the filling will ooze out during baking. Brush liberally with the remaining egg-milk wash.
- Place each feuilleté on a greased baking sheet and bake at 200C for 20 minutes or until golden and puffy.
Chicken and vegetable tikka masala
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. curry powder, toasted
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
¼ savoy cabbage, shredded
750g skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks
125ml thick Greek yoghurt
125ml double cream
For the masala sauce
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, julienned
Half a bulb of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. coriander powder
½ tsp. turmeric powder
½ tsp. chilli powder
1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped
200g chopped tinned tomatoes
3 tbsp. tomato puree
½ tsp. garam masala
300ml chicken stock
2 tbsp. freshly chopped coriander
1 ½ tsp. salt
- Mix the lime, ginger, garlic, cumin, chilli powder, paprika and curry powder with the yoghurt and cream. Mix the chicken pieces in this coating well and leave in the fridge from anywhere between a couple of hours to overnight.
- Brush the the chicken pieces with a little oil and grill until slightly charred in places.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger. Add the potatoes and carrots and sprinkle over the coriander, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir in the carrot and fresh green chilli. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add the tinned tomatoes, salt and tomato puree. Add the chicken stock and garam masala and reduce until you’re left with a thick sauce. Add the cabbage and cook until just tender. Fold in the grilled chicken pieces and eat with a stack of fresh parathas.