Those nice people at Maldon salt sent me their frankly brilliant Desert Island Dishes cookbook. If you’d like to win a copy, just leave a comment below outlining what your desert island dish might be.
There’s a special place in my kitchen cupboard dedicated to all those crazy life-enhancing ‘restorative’ health foods I’ve purchased in a guilty haze after overdoing it or when I’m feeling under the weather. Zip lock bags of spirulina powder, maca powder, wheatgrass and wheatgerm all shoved to the back ready and waiting to anoint a bowl of porridge or salad. Endlessly waiting because of course, this is something I never, ever do.
2 tbsp. maca powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. honey
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, wheatgerm, spirulina powder, maca powder and wheatgrass powder. Add the salt and sprinkle over the vanilla extract.
- Mash in the peanut butter and honey and gradually drip in the apple juice until you’re left with a soft, slightly sticky play-doh like dough.
- Adjust the salt and honey to taste.
- Using a scrap of cling film shape tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and dip in the sesame seeds
- Leave in the fridge for an hour or so to set before wrapping in cling film ready for the next time you need to snack on something insanely healthy.
Poor camera phone filming. Poor sound. Nice biscuits.
Our “ruby murray” stall – photo by Kerstin Rogers
Flaky, delicate pastry with a spicy thwack of chillified filling, my spicy sausage rolls were a bit of a hit on Saturday and turned out to be just the thing for bonfire night.
I literally had no idea what to expect from Ms Marmite Lover’s underground market. I’d never been to one, let alone run a stall there, but her latest was a fantastic, gloriously surreal festival-like shebang. Although I didn’t actually get a chance to see everything, as we were too busy serving food, I met an almost endless stream of genuinely lovely people. I particularly enjoyed the spirit of camaraderie amongst the stallholders, and was really touched by some of the comments about our food.
Quantities had been a bit of a question mark. I had absolutely no idea how much to make, despite having spent the previous few days frantically exchanging emails with Helen from Food Stories and Kerstin trying to work this out. So I was super chuffed and much-surprised at our popularity – we managed to sell out of pretty much everything in the few hours we were open. I’ve always relished the idea of feeding people the food I love to eat at home, you know, the stuff you never really come across in restaurants. Seeing the delighted look on people’s faces after taking an initial bite was an incredible buzz, and some of the nicest feedback came from people who seemed gobsmacked that I didn’t sell my food regularly and demanded that I immediately rectify this.
Huge thanks to Kerstin for inviting us and organising such a terrific event.
8 sausages, slit down the middle and liberated from their casings (I made half a batch with Quorn sausages and half with beef)
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 fresh green chillies
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 inch ginger, peeled
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2-3 tsp mustard oil
All butter puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
- Blitz the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies in a spice grinder/coffee mill
- Heat the mustard oil and when it’s hot add the mustard seeds, which should sizzle immediately.
- Introduce the onion mixture and fry until golden.
- Once this has cooled, mix into the sausage meat, along with the curry powder and a pinch of salt.
- Roll out the pastry and fill with the sausage meat. Seal and brush liberally with the beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes at 200C/gas mark 6 or until golden brown and cooked through.
When Miss Marmite Lover invited me to host a curry stall at her forthcoming underground food rave, I decided I’d offer dishes that were a little bit different alongside the same old traditional curries. Chaal kumro bhaja is a classic Bengali fried pumpkin dish, which involves panch phoran (Bengali five spice), fresh coconut and chilli. This roasted panch phoran pumpkin salad is my modern version. Fat chunks of the orange flesh are lightly coated in mustard oil, salt and garlic before roasting to fudgy tenderness. Cubes of paneer, raw cashews, fresh coconut, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are browned in panch phoran and chilli tempered oil before everything is tossed with a pinch of sugar, salt, fresh coriander, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds. A drizzle of chillified yoghurt and the contrast of crisp, spicy cheese, nuts and seeds with soft garlicky gourd is pretty unbeatable.
I’ll be serving this on Saturday 5th November, along with a more old school mutton kosha mangsho (slow cooked Bengali mutton and potato curry), saag and pea paneer (with home made paneer), spicy sausage rolls (both veggie and meat), potato and pea shingaras (Bengali samosas with nigella seed pastry) lentil doughnuts in raita (dahi vadai), organic, free-range chicken curry, vegetable biryani, masoor dal and smoked aubergine and tomato borthas (fresh Bengali salsas).
Serves 2- 3 as a main course and 6 as a starter/side dish
1/2 medium pumpkin or 1 small one, halved, deseeded and lopped into chunks
1 tbsp mustard oil plus extra for drizzling
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
½ block paneer, cubed
1 handful raw cashews
½ fresh coconut, sliced thinly
1 tbsp each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1 tsp each of fenugreek, asafoetida, cumin, mustard and nigella seeds
1 fresh chilli sliced or ½ teaspoon hot chilli sauce
Fresh coriander roughly chopped
Fresh lemon juice
½ fresh pomegranate, deseeded
2 tbsp natural yoghurt mixed with 3-4 tsp chilli sauce
- Place the pumpkin chunks in a baking tray and anoint liberally with the garlic, salt and a little of the mustard oil. Roast at 150C for around 30-40 minutes, or until slightly charred and very soft.
- In a frying pan, heat the remaining mustard oil and when hot, add the mustard and nigella seeds. Lightly crush the fennel, asafoetida and cumin and add to the oil, which should be spit and crackle.
- Add the paneer and coat well in the spices. Add the fresh chilli or chilli sauce and stir in the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, the cashews and the coconut. Mix thoroughly and continue to cook until everything is toasted and golden brown.
- Tip the contents of the frying pan over the roasted pumpkin, add a teaspoon each of salt and sugar and mix well. Strew with the coriander, pomegranate and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and drizzle with the chilli yoghurt dressing. Serve warm.
Creamy, oozing with comfort and addictive little stabs of chilli this savoury French toast with an Indian twist is just the dish to take refuge in whenever you’re feeling hungry, tired, skint or all three. It’s a proper serotonin-raiser, whether we’re talking a decadent breakfast in bed gesture or a midweek, post-work-pre-flicks/plonked on the sofa type affair. The peach and tomato salsa is bright, punchy and the perfect accompaniment (it’s basically my Bengali tomato salsa recipe plus a couple of very ripe peaches), although a hefty blob of ketchup is just fine if you really can’t be bothered. My aunt in Rochdale makes hers using cheap white sliced bread but for me it’s all about the nuttiness of wholemeal.
1-2 tbsp single cream
A large pinch of curry powder
4 of the finest eggs money can buy
slices of bread
½ Fresh green finger chilli sliced (or more if you like your heat)
1-2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 shallot, finely chopped/spring onion
Salt and pepper
Tomato bortha/Bengali tomato salsa with a couple of ripe peaches roughly chopped and crushed in.
- Beat together the eggs and add the curry powder, cream, chilli, coriander, shallot and salt and pepper.
- Place a slice of bread in the mixture and leave for about 5 minutes then turn over, until well saturated with the egg mixture.
- Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and when sizzling carefully add the bread. Brown on both sides.
- Repeat until all the egg has been used up and serve hot with plenty of salsa/ketchup.
Because it’s definitely picnic o’clock.
a good, sturdy loaf of bread (I experimented with sourdough and ciabatta but found one of those Grand Mange Blanc loaves in Waitrose worked brilliantly)
cheese (I used Emmental, Jarlsberg and Gouda)
for the vegetarian half
1 aubergine sliced and griddled until tender
2 or 3 spring onions, halved and blistered on a griddle
1 jar grilled courgettes
for the carnivorous half
for the olive salad
6 marinated artichoke hearts, plus a tablespoon of the oil they’re marinated in
approximately 10 sunblush tomatoes, plus a tablespoon of the oil they’re marinated in.
100g marinated olives
1 stick celery
1 carrot, grated
1/2 red onion
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano
I’m still working my way through that final truckle of Red Leicester. As I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth, these savoury scones are my cunning twist on the classic cream tea. I’ve already made a batch for @farmlondon and with not one but two tea parties coming up in the near future; these decadent little delights will most certainly be putting in an appearance.
There’s a fair amount of fromage in the mix so you only need a few teaspoons of oil. They swell up beautifully and the hint of truffle works a treat with the cheese, as does the suggestion of smoky pepper. Split them while they’re still warm from the oven and recklessly smother with the roasted garlic cream and a generous blob of tomato relish. Wash down with a large mug of lady grey. Splendid.
- 500g plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 250g red leicester (or any other decent hard cheese), grated
- 2 spring onions, finely snipped
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- lots of black pepper
- pinch of smoked paprika
- 1 tsp truffle oil
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 250 ml whole milk
- 1 egg
for the garlic cream
- 250ml sour cream
- 1 bulb garlic, sliced in half
- a little oil
- a handful of chives
to serve – tomato relish or my personal favourite, some Branston’s pickle.
- weigh out the flour and mix in the baking powder, salt, thyme, cayenne, paprika, spring onions, black pepper and grated cheese.
- Combine the beaten egg, milk and oils in a jug and slowly trickle into the dry ingredients.
- Mix well until a dough is formed. Roll out to about just over an inch thick (make sure you don’t roll too thinly).
- If you want to create a natural “split” in the scone, fold the dough in half, back over itself and lightly roll out again.
- Using a cutter (or an inverted glass) cut out round shapes.
- Place on a well oiled baking tray and brush with milk. Sprinkle with a little more grated cheese.
- Put your garlic halves on a scrap of foil, drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt. Wrap up into a loose parcel.
- Place the scones and the garlic parcel in the oven at 220C/450F/gas mark 8 for about 20 minutes or until the scones are well risen and golden and the garlic tender.
- Put the scones on a rack to cool slightly.
- Mash the roast garlic to a pulp, mix with the chives and stir into the cream.
- Split and smother the scones.
- Serve immediately.
The season of endless gluttony is finally over. I don’t know about you, but I managed to load on half a stone. Instead of feasting on wasabi cream cheese, spring onion and hot smoked salmon croissants for breakfast, I’m now forcing myself to box around in my living room like an utter buffoon to Davina “Manimal” McCall’s workout .
Charlie Brooker once described Davina as a raven “…the makings of a beak are clearly visible, rudimentary black plumage seems to be emerging from her scalp and most damning of all, her voice patterns are starting to closely imitate an insistent, grating caw”. Nonetheless, it seems appropriate somehow, to subject myself to her caustic nailgun of a voice. I mean, if I’m going to do something I absolutely hate I might as well go the whole hog.
This is Incredible.
Make it for someone you love kind of incredible. Can’t wait to make it again and again kind of incredible. Make it in the afternoon and watch it cease to exist by the evening kind of incredible. Thyme scented garlic, slick with balsamic syrup, glossier than Cheryl Cole’s barnet kind of incredible. Clods of butternut roasted to coax out the sugar, cosseted in a duvet of delicately shuddering dairy kind of incredible. There are no words kind of incredible.
Mr Ottolenghi – I salute you.
Mark Hix certainly seems to know his Asian food – I’ve had my eye on the mutton chop curry recipe in his latest cookery book for some time now. I chanced upon his recipe for these lentil and potato cakes on a yellowing scrap of old Independent I’d ripped out around, ooh seven years ago. Gently spiced potato cakes filled with a piquant mango chutney and lentil mix and rolled in coconut, they are the perfect packed lunch fodder and definitely taste more intense the next day. I used fresh coconut instead of desiccated and added some bay and grated ginger to the potato mix. I think a spot of fresh green chilli in there wouldn’t go amiss, or if you can get hold of it, the weeniest dollop of Mr Naga hot chilli sauce.
Let’s face it, a lot of cookery classes can be a bit of a let down can’t they? Far too often you have all the exciting, fun bits done for you, while you’re left feeling more than a little bit patronised and relegated to stir, perhaps. Like some sort of small child, “your” finished dish is praised and cooed over, even though you both know that you haven’t really made it at all.
Thankfully, the Hashi cooking class is nothing like this. Yes, some of the stuff is prepped (after all, you’d be there all night otherwise) but there is an immediate feeling of engagement and passion – I came away feeling like I’d genuinely learnt something new and useful. In Reiko’s beautiful Wimbledon kitchen, along with Su-Lin, Carly, Kavey , Cara , Denise and Luiz Hara (her trusty assistant for the evening) I learnt how to shape gyoza correctly (instead of my usual Cornish pasty type creations), how to balance flavours and the best place in London for sashimi-grade fish (Atari-ya). We cooked up a garlicky beef tataki with creamy sesame sauce, some of the finest gyoza I’ve had in the West, zaru soba with velvety spicy aubergine and her signature dish of scallops with creamy spicy sauce on sushi rice. All this was washed down with copious amounts of green tea and a selection of fine wines to match, lovingly chosen by @winesleuth.
Living around the corner from Brick Lane means I’m always getting hassled for decent curry house recommendations. Despite being surrounded by a multitude, there really aren’t many in this area that I would actually rate. Most serve up dishes that are either creamed and sweetened beyond recognition or are so authentic, that no one but the most local of Bangladeshis would really want to eat them (dried fish curry is definitely an acquired taste). I quite liked Chaat when it first opened, a little place on Redchurch Street, but my last visit was disappointing. Tayyabs is the main reason I live where I do, and I’ve eaten there regularly for the past few years – so it’s nice to have a bit of a change now and again. I was therefore performing all manner of double take when I spotted “Cafe Kaati” from the top deck of the 205 the other day.
So the Great British Summer is upon us and of course it’s all grey and drizzly out there. I always swear by a big steaming cup of tea, with a good book in one hand and a plate of fresh bhajis to munch on as the most comforting way to counteract the dreaded June mizzle. But today I discovered something a little bit different, something that turned out to be astonishingly delicious….
“I want the bastards that tortured my grandmother to bleed” spits Susan, her face contorting and reddening to match the hue of our food. “I want them to feel just a fraction of her pain.”
We’re in a tiny izakaya in Saitama-ken, just around the corner from my flat and Susan is explaining her dark reasons for being here over a bowl of kimchi ramen. “So your grandmother was a…a comfort woman then?” asks Manola, who teaches in the town next door. Manola is dead cool. The other JETs we’ve met are an assortment of private school tossers and downright weirdos, so we’ve made a point of only befriending Japanese people and each other. We spend our weekdays teaching English and our weekends in throbbing clubs and bars in Tokyo, grabbing steaming 5am bowls of ramen and larking about in purikura booths before catching the train home to the suburbs… Her Kanji count is enviable and she’s definitely the sensible one. I, on the other hand manage to unwittingly get us into countless dodgy situations, like the time we find ourselves in the car of a minor yakuza who tries to press pills upon us and entice us to some warehouse party with his mafia pals.
We love it all, but Susan has made it clear she’s purely here for vengeance.
She’s a towering half Texan, half Korean model type, and she fascinates us with tales of growing up in a trailer with anorexic friends. She’s like something out of a JT Leroy novel. She confirms that yes, her grandmother was one of the comfort women Japanese soldiers famously took “refuge” in during the war. A group of young Japanese men nearby openly ogle her, one plucks up the Asahi-powered courage to saunter over and tell her how “sekusi” she is. She tosses her hair and casts out a murderous look before archly turning her back on them. “Wow this kimchi’s great” murmurs Manola. Susan scowls and tells us about the proper stuff her gran used to make in huge earthenware pots which she’d bury in the garden for months. Years later and faced with a superabundance of cabbage I come across the napkin with her recipe scrawled over it.
I’ve done one or two exciting things in my time, but one of the very bestest things I’ve ever done was to work for the late and legendary John Peel.
John was amazing. For a brief and splendid period I was his humble Broadcast Assistant, and was given the honour of compiling the festive fifty and helping out with the phones during his programme. He once heard me rowing down the phone to payroll about the late payment of a freelance colleague, and without giving the matter a second thought, immediately gave him a huge wad of cash to tide him over until payday.
With one eye on the bag of slowly defrosting keski, the distant ringing thrums down the handset, like some sort of Vodaphonic heartbeat. I tilt my head unnaturally to crick it twixt ear and chin.
“Hello?” her voice is small and husky with exhaustion. I hear the days of graft in that hello. The years of ruined eyesight bartered for long nights of dress-making just to raise and educate her brood. I never call as much as I should.
“Maa, it’s me.” I look at the rapidly melting block of tiny, thread-like bodies with their scattered, sequin eyes. They stare back at me, frozen in a piscine twister of animation.
I’ve searched high and low but cannot find a recipe for parathas anywhere. Before you start bombarding me with links to the contrary please note – I am fully aware that the net is saturated with recipes for what are effectively chapatti dough that’s been rolled out once and then fried, however these are not the parathas that I know and love. These are recipes for chapatti dough that’s been rolled out once and then fried.
There’s nothing out there for the kind that my mum has always rustled up. Hers are crisp, delicate and most importantly of all, shot through with a mille feuille of flaky buttery layers.
When I was about five years old I remember spending many a fun-filled afternoon helping to make these. I’d stand on a chair steadying the bowl as she poured in a big puff of chapatti and plain flours, sending up a white cloud of dust and depositing a fine and ghostly layer on my little brown arms and face. She’d then instruct me to mix in a big pinch of salt and make a hollow in the centre. Into this well she would pour what must have been a couple of teaspoons of molten ghee. There were never any measurements.
I would then incrementally add drops from a milk bottle and mix these in until it was just on the cusp of pliable and sticky. She would tell me that the stickiness was important because a firm dough that’s been made with less liquid is easier to work with but nowhere near as tasty to eat. I just thought the stickiness was important because I was five.
She’d plonk me in front of Chorlton and the Wheelies with a big bowl of this dough. I’d happily sit there, kneading away and wondering what it must be like to live in a teapot until the sticky mixture would come together in a smooth and supple dough.
Like a lot of people I seem to spend an awful lot of my time at work counting down the days until pay day. However, it’s not hi-top trainers or Christopher Kane handbags that are preying on my mind. Nor do I hanker after Margaret Howell frocks while waiting patiently for the 27th of every month. Oh no. Instead I sit there counting off the days until I have enough money to buy more fodder. This month it was the quarterly Oriental food shop. Yes, that’s right – I spent most of May fantasising about kimchi. I sat through endless dreary meetings pretending to listen while wistfully anticipating that halcyon day when I could skip into the Centre Point Food Store in Tottenham Court Road and buy Calpis, pickled turnip, fresh tofu, frozen gyoza, bottles of umeboshi plum wine, instant ramen and dreamy bags of Tohato caramel corn to my hearts content…..I do prefer the Centre Point Food Store to the Japan Centre, for one thing it’s a lot cheaper and it seems a lot less manic. I’m pleased to report that despite the fact that it’s cheaper I still somehow managed to spend a small country’s GDP in there and am now well and truly brassic.
It’s such a shame that some of our finest British snacks are more often than not made with cheap evil factory meat; and there have been various articles linking our shonky meat production methods with the recent spate of viral disease. So when I was summoned to an impromptu picnic in London Fields I decided it was time to get creative; some Ginger Pig lamb and beef sausages, a lump of feta, some quails eggs and half a packet of puff pastry, all burning a hole in my fridge.
These are my pork-free versions of Scotch eggs and sausage rolls. I soft-boiled the quails eggs for exactly 2 minutes, so they were still slightly runny inside and then coated them in the beef sausage meat which I’d seasoned with a touch of horseradish and some parsley. I then dipped them in beaten egg and covered them liberally in Panko breadcrumbs before deep frying.
I didn’t really have enough lamb sausage to make full on rolls, so decided to make these little “puffs” instead. Curry and feta don’t sound like ideal partners, but bizarrely enough in this recipe they flatter one another to mouthwatering effect. If I had some mustard or poppy seeds I would have pressed them into the pastry, but they were still pretty damned tasty without.