One of the main reasons I could never move to the countryside is because I seriously couldn’t bear to be too far from the ethnic shops and grocers I’ve grown up with in the smoke. I’m constantly amazed at the comedy prices supermarkets slap onto exotic ingredients like those miniature packets of okra, tiny bags of rootless coriander leaves, pickled lemons and tahini. But then, I am lucky enough to live near a Moroccan butchers where I can scoop up big bottles of pomegranate molasses, decorative tins of harissa and home made packages of nutty, herb flecked za’tar at about an eighth of the price. It’s always nice when you can make dishes that don’t ultimately taste of rip off.
I wanted to try something more exciting with my za’atar than just dipping it in bread and these onion rings were the answer. Hot and crunchy with the fluffiest of fillings; we gingerly ate them dipped straight from the pan into cold, creamy yoghurt speckled with garlic, mint, cumin and salt.
1 large onion, sliced into rings and separated
100g rice flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. za’atar
a dinner plate sprinkled with panko breadcrumbs
oil for frying
parmesan cheese, finely grated
a wire rack placed over some foil/kitchen roll
- heat the oil
- mix the flour, baking powder, za’atar and salt in a small bowl and dip the onion rings in this mixture until well coated. Set aside.
- Crack the egg and whisk the milk into the remaining flour mixture in the small bowl and dip the floured onion rings into the batter, coating well. Place on the wire rack to drain.
- combine the panko crumbs and Parmesan in a shallow platter coat each ring thoroughly. Tap off any excess.
- deep fry the rings in small batches for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle over a little more za’atar and serve immediately.
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.
Those unbelievably generous folk at the Ginger Pig gifted me a couple of geese, one of which formed the centrepiece of my son’s first ever Christmas lunch this weekend. We invited a load of mates round and our friend Charlie (seen here making his cookery demo debut) helped out with the hacking duties; despite not really knowing his oysters from his eyeballs.
- Wash the goose and pat dry. Prick the skin all over (taking care not to puncture the flesh) especially targeting those ultra fatty pockets around the wings.
- Combine the five spice, sea salt, citrus zests and thyme and rub all over the skin and in the cavity.
- Chop the zested fruit up and mix with the sage, garlic and onion and push into the cavity.
- Roast the bird at 200C for 10mins, then turn down to 190C for 30mins per kilo. Baste every 30 minutes and pour off excess fat (to roast vegetables in).
- Wrap in foil and a bath towel to rest for 45 minutes (while you roast your veggies) and serve with roast apples, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips, peas, stuffing and gravy.
*winner to be picked on Thursday 19th, goose to be collected from E17 by Sunday 22nd
I’m featured in tonight’s episode of Jamie and Jimmy’s Food Fight Club. Tune in to Channel 4 at 9pm to watch me stuffing my face with lamb’s testicles and bull’s pizzle pie. Yum yum!
I’ve written a piece about making your own Christmas gifts and whether or not it’s always the cheapest option for the Guardian. You can read it here.
It seems that the whole world and his wife have been struck down by the sniffles. Everyone I talk to sounds a bit bunged up, slightly red around the eyes and just a little bit blue. After working our way through some pretty vile cold powders, mugs of hot honey, lemon and ginger and inhaling endless bowls of steaming Vicks; it was this comforting soup, that finally put paid to monsieur lurgy. Sweet, spicy and ambrosial on the throat, this makes an immense tureen. Perfect for squirreling away freezer-friendly stashes ready for the next onslaught.
850g pumpkin, hacked into chunks
270g parsnip, peeled and chopped into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
75g ginger, peeled and finely chopped
150g brown basmati rice
145g/2 medium carrots, diced
110g celery sticks, diced
250g eating apples
4 green cardamom pods
1 tsp. turmeric
500ml chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
400g tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp. mango chutney
2 tbsp. fresh coriander
A big squeeze of lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180C. In a shallow roasting tray toss the pumpkin and parsnip chunks with the garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt and half the olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender and charred in places.
- In a large saucepan heat the butter and remaining oil. Fry the onion and ginger for about 10 minutes over a low heat. Add the rice, carrots, celery, apple, cardamom and turmeric and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes or until everything is well cooked.
- Mash in the roasted pumpkin and parsnip along with the tempered oil from the roasting pan.
- Pour in the stock, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes and adjust seasoning to taste. Simmer until the rice is tender.
- Stir in the chutney and lemon juice. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with the fresh coriander and lots of black pepper.
The other day I overheard a posh lady explaining to her crestfallen toddler why she wasn’t allowed a cupcake. Not because they’re sugary or calorific, but because they’re “just so very unfashionable now darling” as she towered over her in her Ugg boots. Of course, I immediately bought four and bloody gorgeous they were too.
Gran luchito is one of the finest chilli tapenades I’ve been lucky enough to receive a free jar of and this recipe for cupcakes is well worth a shot. I love the way they’ve gone completely left field with their recipe suggestions and the combination of caramelised pineapples and smoky chilli-laced cream topping is pretty sensational.
I got slightly sidetracked and didn’t manage to make the chilli buttercream pate a bombe topping in their recipe. Instead I combined 300g icing sugar, 50g butter and 125g cream cheese with a generous spoonful of the smoky joy. These were fallen upon and instantaneously devoured by the mums at my local under one’s club. Thank god for fellow sleep deprived sugar-addicts who have more important things to worry about than the format of their cakey fix.
makes 16 cupcakes
155g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
110g oil (vegetable or extra light olive oil)
for the caramelised pineapple
6 tbsp. butter, cubed
200g light brown sugar
15-16 pineapple slices
maraschino cherries to garnish
for the chilli buttercream
400g granulated sugar
700g butter, room temperature
6 egg yolks
Gran Luchito chilli tapenade to taste
- preheat oven to 180C. Mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about 15 seconds. Add the sugar and continue beating on a medium speed for about half a minute. Add the vanilla and the oil.
- Reduce the speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour. Add half the buttermilk and the rest of the flour. Dribble in the remaining buttermilk and beat until just combined.
- Scrap down the side of the bowl. The batter will be thin.
- To make the caramel, melt the butter over a low heat in a small saucepan and stir in the brown sugar. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Spoon the caramel equally into 16 cupcake cases, top with a pineapple slice and a cherry.
- Pour in the batter until 2/3 full and bake in a pre heated oven for 12-14 minutes.
- Cool for 3-5 mins and then remove cupcakes from the pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
- To make the chilli buttercream, mix the sugar and water to the consistency of wet sand in a small saucepan.
- With a wet pastry brush, clean all the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan to prevent the syrup from crystalising, and cook to the soft ball stage without stirring.
- Prepare a pate a bombe by whisking the egg yolks in the mixer. When the sugar reaches the soft ball stage, pour the hot syrup carefully into the bowl of eggs as they whisk. Continue to whisk until the mixing bowl is completely cold.
- Change the whisk attachment from a whisk to a paddle and add the butter. Once this is fully incorporated add the chilli tapenade to taste. Pipe over the cooled cupcakes with a star tip nozzle and garnish with a maraschino cherry.