Buckwheat Waffles with Rhubarb, Apple & Candied Hazelnuts
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Buckwheat Waffles with Rhubarb, Apple & Candied Hazelnuts [Recipe]

Good morning? Is it safe to come out? I have been in hiding, taking an enforced break, so that I could catch up with everything else (work, book writing, the small matter of publishing a book myself), for it was all becoming a bit overwhelming, and I was losing sight of myself. But I am back now, and I am not very good at taking breaks anyway. My break actually turned out to be an intensive whirlwind of writing, cooking and planning; plotting travels too, and lots to share here. Mainly in my pjs, but you can forgive me that. And maybe you are guilty of wanting that for yourself? 

I wanted to just indulge myself this morning, and write forever about Australia. One of my favourite places to visit, but not just me, the Economist listed four Australian cities in the Top 10 best places to live. I could easily live there, maybe even move in the morning for a bit, but London’s tentacles tend to keep me here. I love London, but you know, the weather, and everything is expensive, and I will likely forever have to rent. Sometimes, it grates. As it should. 

Australia, yes! But then I thought, maybe I should indulge & nourish you first? Set you up for a week of travel joy before I head to France, and share some more. I will share a lovely new waffle recipe, and then come back with stories, when you are comfortable and well nourished. For these are very good and healthy too. [Read more]

Beluga Lentil & Egg Salad with Home Made Salad Cream [RECIPE]
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Beluga Lentil & Egg Salad with Home Made Salad Cream [Recipe]

I fell off a wagon that I wasn’t even properly on this evening. You could say that I tripped. On an innocent wander to the shop, I spied some curious lentil crisps, all bagged into nice tidy individual portions, so you know, they assume that we can all behave. I never buy six bags of anything like this, as I have no restraint when it comes to bags of crispy things, be they innocently low calorie or proper actual and delicious crisps. But I can’t resist something new, especially lentils masquerading as crisps. I had to try them.

You see I have a problem with crisps, and this has nothing to do with January. This is a commitment that I had to make to myself years ago, the only wagon I hop on, the NO-6-PACKS-OF-CRISPS-WAGON, and I fell off it today. Spectacularly. I inhaled that six pack of crispy intensity in 45 minutes. Guilty bag after guilty bag. I put them away, I took them out again. Eventually, I gave up, surrendered, finished the lot, and felt sick for a bit.

And, I was doing so well, too.

As for the January wagon, well why bother? January is a grey month and everyone is spent. If there is any month that needs an injection of joy, it is this. Moderation is for the whole year, and while I am terrible at putting this into practice, this is what I need to do. I want to exercise more restraint all year round, not just for a few weeks now. I say restraint, this means I aspire to live normally, and exercise a bit more.

Real food, full fat, occasional but not too much sugar. Food that has little distance from the hands that made it, reared it, or planted it. Lots of lovely real life affirming food that I put together myself at home, and take pleasure in doing so. And January is a great time to go to restaurants, with everyone else feeling guilty at home, it is so easy to get a table. January is, if anything, a month for comfort, culinary trips down memory lane, plans for the future and cleaning out the clutter from the past. [Read more]

Potato & Leek Soup with Bacon & Kale
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Recipe: Potato and Leek Soup with Bacon and Kale

I have quite a few Christmas recipes up my sleeve, but lets take a break from the chocolate, the alcohol and the spice, and think about a comfortable Christmas lunch for the days before and after the crazy indulgent one. I am thinking soup, and who doesn’t love soup? Nourishing and soothing, soup is what I reach for when I am ill, or when I need comfort. Oh, and toasted sandwiches too.[Read more]

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

I wondered about sharing these photos, I really did. I had to rush them before dashing to the airport, and I risked it, and got up at 6am to make them, because I really wanted to share this recipe with you. It is perfect for Christmas. Stress free and it takes a little care but otherwise, just fine, anyone can make these. Of course life and work intervened, and I was too busy in Germany and too tired at the end of every day to do any decent writing. So, here it is now.

Salted Caramel

Salted Caramel

But then the photos, I can’t help but think they look like I dug up some mushrooms and then coated them in fine soil. I can’t worry about this though, isn’t it much better that you get the recipe? And maybe a little reassuring to see that, yeah, you can make truffles, and they might look a little rough, but hey! They are still delicious. There aren’t enough hours in the day and there is plenty of other bothersome things, I shouldn’t worry myself so much about photos of truffles.

Or should I?

Anyway, lets drive on. You must make these. All you need is a little salted caramel from my recent recipe, some cream, some good dark chocolate, and some cocoa, and then we are all set.
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Salted Caramel (Perfect as a Sauce, on Toast, or Just Eating With a Spoon)

Homemade Salted Caramel

Homemade Salted Caramel (it is actually very smooth, but I was rushing this shot to get to the airport, and poured it hot into the glass, don’t do that!}

Christmas is on its way, there is no longer any denying it. I am woefully under prepared, as is my form. I just paid through the nose for my flight home this year for a start, which eats into every other Christmas budget. I guess all of the other ex pats must be very organised this year. After that, there is not a child in the house washed, as we would say at home. (Calm down dear, I haven’t had any children since my last missive, it merely means there is nothing organised and we can’t even see where organised might be, over the horizon).

However, I have some recipes to share that will help you be a bit more organised for Xmas, and that will make me feel a lot better. A good place to start is a lovely salted caramel, and it is something that every cook should have in their armoury besides. It is so easy, as long as you watch over it, as it will burn as soon as you stop to look at it. I burned my first batch this morning, and I have made it many times. Watch it carefully, and it will behave, I promise.

My salted caramel is very simple, and very quick. It is thick, but pourable, and a perfect Christmas condiment. It is a great gift too, if you make it late enough. It will keep in the fridge for a week or so too.

How to eat it? It is a perfect sauce for most desserts. It is superb on toast for a luxurious Christmas breakfast. Or you know, like nutella, you may just want to eat it with a spoon.[Read more]

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Beef Cheek Chilli

Beef Cheek Chilli

anc Beef Cheek Chilli

Beef cheek chilli is a gorgeous dish. Tender, robust and sublimely yielding, once you do the initial work, it basically cooks itself. The best bit? It is a relatively cheap cut of meat, and has a wonderful deep flavour and texture. Winner. You will find yourself buying this instead of steak for dishes like this, I promise you.

When I first started making chilli, I would make it using minced beef, and yes this is fine, but once I started to experiment with other meat cuts like shin and cheek, I could see that a chilli has much more potential than the one that I was making.

Then there are chillies to think about. I used to make beef chilli with whatever chilli I had, then I progressed to smoky punchy chipotle, and then, with an appetite for more and a geeky drive beneath it, I decided to explore different chilli combinations. Then I could see what all the fuss with chilli was about. Layers of chilli playing with the beef, enhancing it, some bringing searing heat, others smoke and others a low rumble. You can make your beef chilli as hot or as mild as you want, and you can make it really interesting. Chilli can be good, and chilli can be superb. Lets talk about a superb one.

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Beef Cheek Chilli (made with just one cheek on this occasion)

Beef cheeks are a terrific cut of meat. Easier to source now than before, as we all become more aware of cheaper flavourful cuts and the importance of nose to tail eating. Ask your butcher to get some in for you if you can’t find them anywhere, that is what I do. They need long slow cooking, and start firm and obstinate, but under that low gentle heat, they yield gently and let the chillies mix in.

I use three chillies for this dish: chipotle, pasilla and ancho. The chipotle brings smoke and a low throaty rumble, the pasilla is hotter but just medium hot and quite fruity and the ancho is medium hot too, with more of a sweet dried fruit flavour. I use a combination of three, with more chipotle. It results in a nice hot chilli, not in a face melting way but it will definitely warm your cockles on a chilly night.

Beef Cheek Chilli

Beef Cheek Chilli

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Chicken Rendang (In Partnership with Le Creuset)

Chicken Rendang Recipe

Chicken Rendang Recipe

This post was sponsored by Le Creuset. They asked me to write a one pot recipe and to choose one of their pots to cook it in. I fancied something spiced,  slow cooked and full of character,  so I settled on a rendang inspired by my travels to Malaysia. I chose a shallow pot that would aid evaporation, caramelisation and intensification of the sauce  (a 30cm shallow casserole, in lovely Marseille blue). 

Le Creuset Pot in  Marseille Blue

Le Creuset 30cm Shallow Casserole in Marseille Blue

I have been to Malaysia twice in the past year, to the tip of it in Langkawi, and the bottom, Sabah, Borneo. I love it there for many reasons. The monkeys (who can resist?), the rainforests and the gorgeous seas, the sandy beaches and the mangrove trees. Best of all is the food, seasoned with punchy aromatics and a little spice. Where India has spices, Malysia has aroma – galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass, lots of fresh turmeric – and slow cooked tender meats, bright fish, with sometimes funky undertones from fermented fish. For this project, I settled on a chicken (ayam) rendang, the perfect food for a chilly November.[Read more]

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Roast Pumpkin, Kale, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

Roast Pumpkin, Kale, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

Roast Pumpkin, Kale, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

Yes, more roast pumpkin. But you probably have some left over from the last recipe, and I bet you are not averse to roasting some more. Or is that just me?

In Winter my salads become a little more robust. More kale than lettuce, wilted or crisped, chunks of pumpkin or similar dense veg, roasted into submission. No salad should be heavy, so I lift mine with spritely dressings, this time a pomegranate molasses and lime dressing with no oil, so you know, healthy and lower calorie (I did say I was going to try, right?). Over this, soothing pops of sharp creamy feta, and then to give it some sparkle, a gorgeous sprinkle of juicy pomegranate seeds.

It is winter? Who cares, when you have this salad? I quite like winter anyway.

Some very pretty lilac kale that I happened upon - but any kale will do

Some very pretty lilac kale that I happened upon – but any kale will do

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Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves

Tina

Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves

Almond crusted tuna frequently pops up my idea periscope when my mind wanders. I first had it in Sicily a few years ago in San Vito Lo Capo, when I was a judge for the International Cous Cous Festival (yes, I really was, and it was bonkers, and a lot of delicious fun). There are many almonds in Sicily, pistachios too, and they appear a lot in the cuisine. Almond crusted tuna was one of my favourite dishes that I tried, a fabulous alternative to breaded fish, the tuna remains crisp and is – obviously – nutty.[Read more]

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Rice Soup with Chorizo, Pumpkin, Kale & a Poached Egg

Chicken and ham broth with rice, pumpkin, chorizo, sage and a poached egg

Chicken and ham broth with rice, pumpkin, chorizo, sage and a poached egg

I don’t like telling you what to do, but on this occasion, I must. It is almost the weekend, and it is very much Autumn, so what I need you to do, is to go out and buy a couple of raw chicken carcasses (most butchers will have them, and failing that 500g chicken wings), some ham bones, if you can get them, or a ham hock. You see with these, and some veg, you can make a sublime broth which will keep you in gorgeous soups for the week, as I have done. I just needed soup and lots of it.

A home made broth is wonderful, far surpassing any commercial pretenders. Even those home made ones you see in shop fridges will not have been made with the love and care that yours can be made with at home. Love and care brings flavour, and health, and joy. I am insisting that you give this a go.

A good home made stock will have clear strong flavours, but it is gentle too, and only ever supports what you add to it, it never dominates. Shop bought stocks, especially the cubes, always do. It is an effort, but making a big batch when you have the time is very rewarding, the bulk of the work lies in waiting for it to be done.

There are many things you can do with this stock. A steaming mug of it on its own brings great pleasure and sustenance. With shredded chicken, leftover or not, some spring onions, some coriander and some chilli, you have a vigorous bright chicken soup, with a ham backbone. It also freezes well. [Read more]

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Taste Portugal: A Day on the Algarve Clam Digging & Cooking with Heinz Beck [Part 2: Heinz Beck’s Recipe for Green Tortelloni with Frutti di Mare]

Making Heinz Beck’s Green Tortellini with Fruitti di Mare 

So,  you have just been out foraging for clams with a 3* chef. You have fallen over on the boat (just a few scratches), and you have a wicker basket full of clams. What do you do next? Head to the kitchen, of course.

Getting a chance to cook with Heinz Beck in his kitchen at Gusto at The Conrad, Algarve was a treat. He is (obviously) talented, but he is also very thoughtful, helpful and open to food writers blundering around his kitchen. We cooked 2 dishes, Bacalhau with Herbs, Pepper sauce and Fennel and Green Tortellini con Frutti di Mare, both flavourful, light and healthy, and just what my body is screeching for at the moment. I am on a bit of a fresh pasta kick – you will have noticed – so I will share the pasta recipe with you now. It seems complex, but it is all achievable, and it is a perfect lunch for friends. Just give it time, perhaps get your friends to pitch in as you do it.

Enjoy!

Ps. – passionate pastanistas out there, there are only 2 places left for my full day pasta cooking class on Saturday 18th October. There are still places for the later dates, but they are filling up.

RECIPE: Green Tortellini con Frutti di Mare

adapted from Heinz Beck 

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A Big Brunch and a Recipe for Louisiana Crab Cakes with Poached Eggs & Tabasco Hollandaise (In Partnership with Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce)

In Partnership With Tabasco Badge

Brunch! Boiled Eggs and Tabasco butter soldiers; Feta, Corn & Tabasco Cakes; Tabasco Crab Devilled Eggs; Louisiana Crab Cakes with Poached Eggs & Tabasco Hollandaise

Brunch is my thing. I have brunch everyday when I am at home. I am a sleepy morning creature and my body is not ready for anything except coffee for the first few hours. I have always been like this. My body likes evenings and night time, and while early morning is beautiful and, increasingly, I do wish I was a morning person, it is not when I am at my best.

I am great at brunch though. I love it. My body is awake and hungry and eager to eat. Often eggs. Almost always with some chilli. I love a brunch dish that packs some heat (as you will have seen regularly on my instagram). Eggs never cease to amaze me with the amount you can do with them. Fried, poached, boiled, gooey, oozy, spread on toast soldiers. Eggs are brilliant when you force fat into them, as you do when you make hollandaise or mayonnaise. Eggs also love Tabasco, so when Tabasco asked me to come up some recipes and host a brunch for my friends to showcase them, it had to be an eggy one.[Read more]

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Kapitan Chicken (Malay Chicken Curry)

Malay Chicken Curry

Kapitan Chicken (Malay Chicken Curry)

I know how annoying it is when people like me say: please go out of your way to find this impossible ingredient, I promise it is worth it. But it is! In this journey we have taken together over seven and a half years of blogging, we are all now toasting and grinding our own spices, right? And doesn’t it make a big difference? Well, trust me when I tell you that getting your paws on some fresh turmeric makes a huge difference here too. It is also fairly straightforward. I always used to peel it, but the chef that I cooked with in Malaysia (at The Meritus Pelangi Hotel) made a paste with it unpeeled and it made no difference. I now consider myself educated. I was fussing unnecessarily, which is really not how I like to roll.

Fresh turmeric is having a bit of a hipster moment, but some of us (cough) have been using it for a long time. The hipsters are on to a good thing with their turmeric tea though. It is ridiculously good for you. It is a really potent anti inflammatory agent, is brilliant for easing burns (the powder mixed with double cream – thank you Maunika for that tip) and there is lots of research that indicates that it is helpful in cancer treatment. It is very tasty too.

I suspect many people store dried turmeric in their cupboard for ages and then think it is tasteless. Dried turmeric, like all spices, needs to be fresh and stored in an air tight container. Fresh turmeric is very different and is an aromatic delight. A rhizome like ginger, it has some similar properties, but is floral by comparison. A lot of supermarkets stock it in the UK these days. Indian food shops do too. [Read more]

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Home Fried Potato Hoops with Parmesan, Cumin and Chilli, Nominated for the Red Woman of the Year & Kate Bush, Before the Dawn

Home fried potato hoops with parmesan, cumin & chilli.

Home fried potato hoops with parmesan, cumin & chilli.

Well, this week has been pretty good. I was nominated for the Red Woman of the Year yesterday. It was my second time being nominated, and I was really honoured to be included among such brilliant and inspiring women. It was awarded last night to a very deserving Deliciously Ella in the blogger category. Ella has achieved so much at the tender age of 23, and all in an effort to manage a debilitating illness. The result? Success (she no longer requires her medication as the result of her very healthy diet), a beautiful health food blog, a recipe app and a book on the way. She is self taught too. Thomasina Miers, food writer and restaurateur (Wahaca) and Laura Bates of Everyday Sexism, two women that I hugely admire, were recognised too. Good on Red for recognising these women, and also for illustrating their achievements so that they can inspire those coming behind them. You can see all of the winners on the Red website, and in the magazine soon too, I am sure.

I spent last night at Kate Bush’s new mesmerising show, Before the Dawn. You got tickets?! Yes, I was one of the lucky few to secure tickets, I made sure I wouldn’t miss out, and had 2 friends try for me (one succeeded so I am going twice!). I myself had two browsers and five tabs open in each, so I managed to get some too. She, too, is an inspiration. I am a lifelong fan (I heard Wuthering Heights when I was 3, and have been hooked since) and I was so thrilled to be there. The whole audience was so engaged and committed to her every note and move and she got several standing ovations throughout the show. It was the best gig of my life, but so much more. It was theatre, it was drama, it was fantasy, it was powerful and tender. It was all encompassing. After 3 hours, I didn’t want it to end. If you can at all, go. [Read more]

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Caramelised Onion, Coconut & Egg Curry

Caramelised Onion, Egg & Coconut Curry

Caramelised Onion, Egg & Coconut Curry

Shall we talk again about another much maligned dish? And more than that, a breakfast concept that some love and others think is bonkers. Even though over a billion people eat it! I am talking about Egg Curry and curry for breakfast (or any manner of spiced breakfast at that).

People, you are really missing out if you have not tried both of these things. It is my mission to open your eyes to it. Why is egg in curry even a funny thing? Eggs in curry are rich, light & gorgeous and curry makes the perfect breakfast (curry being a general term for over a thousand diverse dishes).

I often use leftover curry or make a simple curry fresh to poach eggs in (a la huevos rancheros, but Indian style). I love spice for breakfast when I am in Asia, and often at home too. A meaty congee (chicken or pork) pepped with chilli oil, nuts and tofu is a perfect start (would you like a congee recipe too?). One of my favourites was one I had in a small town outside Bangkok on the street. There was a queue of people, so I joined, and shortly after was eating a divine bowl of pork and pumpkin congee with shreds of deep fried tofu. All for less than £1.

Breakfast congee in Hong Kong

Breakfast congee in Hong Kong

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Pasta e Fagioli

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You know that food you love? The one that is so everyday, common place, so simple, but so very good. You make it all the time, and eat it joyfully. It rescues you from every grey day, every brain cloud. It is perfect and it knows how to tackle your mood. It totally gets you. But, that amazing dish itself is misunderstood. Often because it is not made right, not faithfully, or with love and care.

Pasta e Fagioli is one of those dishes. Carbs and beans? CARBS AND BEANS?! Why is everyone so harsh about the carbs these days? They are delicious, and soothing, and yes, I do eat too much of them, but how can I not? They are pasta, sourdough bread, udon noodles. All of the most delicious things that soothe my week. I eat well, I don’t eat processed food (except for occasional crisp and haribo based lapses), I feel no guilt. Why should I? Carbs are ok folks. Just relax and enjoy your dinner. Life is hard enough without removing the carbs from it.

If people only knew how good Pasta e Fagioli could be, they would put down their carb warrior shields immediately, grab a spoon and eat it. With gusto! They might even ask for seconds. (They will). The simplicity and gorgeousness of leftover home made egg dough pasta scraps (maltaglati – literally misshapen), rendered tensile and silken by a last minute addition to a luscious fresh borlotti bean, tomato, herb and pancetta broth, that has been brewed slowly and gently, teasing out the umami from the pancetta, the sweet pop of fruit from the tomato and the aroma of herbs finished with gentle chilli heat.[Read more]

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Peach, Almond & Bourbon Pie, an Update on Sponsored Content & Project Bacon

Forgive the photo - it was taken at 6am in a mad dash to the airport

Forgive the photo – it was taken at 6am in a mad dash to the airport

Well, hello folks. Greetings from the Tyrrhenian Sea. I am on a short cruise checking out the offerings of Indian chef Atul Kochar on the P&O Ventura cruise ship. I was in two minds about cruises. In hindsight, for someone who loves boats, ferries and slow travel, this seems a little daft. You know when you sometimes just get an idea in your head? Anyway, while not actually on holiday (I have freelance work to do, and I am finishing Project Bacon), I am loving the lull of it all, punctuated with the pop of activity when we dock at a port. It suits my binary speed setting. I love to be busy buzzing around checking out new things and new eats, but when I am not, and when I can, I love to relax, read, watch films, and drink wine.

It comes at the end of a crazy week. I spoke at a great new blogging festival Blogstock, which I really enjoyed. It was on Food Blogging 101, and when I get time, I will put together a summary for you. It is all from my point of view, and relating to my experience of course, but hopefully it will be useful for you.

From Blogstock I headed to Wilderness, dragging a small red suitcase, and a red shopping trolley full of waffle makers for my Sunday Bacon Club there. A Wilderness Victorinox tent on my shoulder. A big one, I wanted to almost stand up this year. By the time I made it via trains and buses, I was fit only for a glass of wine. Happily, my favourite Morito was there to provide one.

Sunday Bacon Club went well, despite the torrential rain. We were at capacity with 36 people, which was exciting. I need to arrange some more in London and elsewhere soon. I came back to London to meetings with M&S, who I spent my last day in London filming with and cooking lots of steak and tempura. I will share that soon. I have had much worse Tuesdays.

[Photos from Corfu – which surprised me and taught me – again – not to judge in advance]

Which leads me tidily to an update on sponsored content. You were all so supportive when I announced it, and I was so grateful for that. I had thought long and hard about it but, ultimately, I really care about what you think, it is very important to me. I have done just a few bits to feel my way, and figure out how it can all work here. Most importantly, I chose sponsors carefully, and the key is that the creative is all mine.

So far, the result has been more recipes (like for my Irish Beef recipe work, which I loved doing), and travel content (my next piece  will be guide for you on Rome which includes some of my very favourite places, sponsored by O2 Travel).  The money raised through all of my sponsored work will help to support me, and allow me to focus more energy here. I am also going to be re-investing in the blog. It needs a thorough reorganisation and redesign, and I want to invest in better technology, software, and camera and video kit. The aim is more content, some of it supported by brands, but always with my creative. Once things settle after the summer, sponsored work will always be buffered by lots of my own meanderings. It will support them, giving me more time to write in the end.[Read more]

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Homemade Malloreddus (Gnocchetti Sardi) with Bacon, Peas, Chilli, Courgette & Parmesan

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Fresh pasta is such a faff, right? You always want to do it but the stuff you get in the shop is just as good, right? I mean, who has that much time?

All of the above assumptions are incorrect. Fresh pasta is really quite straightforward and it is so much better (unless you are spending a lot of money on your dried pasta). It takes time but a lot of that time the dough is just resting and waiting for you. You make the dough – which depends on the pasta type, generally dough in the North is made with 00 pasta flour and eggs, and with water and semolina flour (a coarser grind of durum wheat) in the South – this usually takes 5 – 10 minutes. You let it rest as you have just beaten it about the place and it needs to unwind. Then you roll and shape it. Even hand rolling tagliatelle does not take that long, but some of the smaller shapes are super speedy, with practice.  Of course this is a generalisation, but I use it just to give you an idea.

The peculiarly named malloreddus (it originates from the Latin mallolous, meaning small morsel, however, every time I say or read it I see malodour, anyone else?!) originates in Sardinia. It was traditionally shaped on wicker baskets, now more commonly using a grooved piece of class called a ciuliri or a gnocchi ridger. I have a gnocchi ridger so I use that (I bought mine at Sous Chef for just £4), but I have seen people use sushi mats too online.[Read more]

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Grilled Peaches with Cardamom Cream, Bourbon Caramel and Brioche Hazelnut Crumb

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I started out making a peach pie. Shortcrust pastry, homemade with butter, some bourbon, lots of lovely ripe peaches. No, that is not entirely true, I started out working on BBQ recipes, and I was diverted by peaches towards a pie. Then I thought of the BBQ and the peach, and how they should combine.

Those peaches looked so good, so juicy, so ripe. My mind started to wander, no, sprint, to grilled peaches with bourbon caramel. YES, I had to do that. But something was needed in between that succulent peach and rich caramel. Cardamom cream? I love spice and a little cardamom is gorgeous with a peach, and also good with bourbon. I had just bought brioche buns at the bakers, so I was now starting to cement the recipe with the idea of brioche bread crumbs and coarse chopped hazelnuts crisped in butter, just on top. That bourbon could join some sugar in a caramel. And there we have a gorgeous succulent juicy grown up dessert.

I abandoned the pie. Briefly.

Caramel is very easy. You just need to take care and ensure that you don’t burn it or yourself. Disclosure: I burned my first one because I was distracted and I have made many many caramels over the years. It happens, but caramel is so easy, so don’t let it put you off. All you do is bring the sugar gently to caramel, when it is amber, add some cream, and then bourbon and boom – you are done. The cardamom cream is a simple whipped cream with toasted crushed cardamom seeds in it. The crumb speaks for itself.

Ready? This is a perfect summer dessert, even snack? It is mainly fruit anyway, right?!

Enjoy. [Read more]

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Four Beef Recipes for BBQs in All Weathers (In Partnership with Grasstronomy / Irish Beef)

In the photos: Stout, Bacon & Beef Burger, Firey Beef Koftes, Low & Slow Spiced Ribs with Bourbon and Coffee Glaze, Miso Steak – recipes after the jump.

Irish Beef commissioned me to come up with 4 beef recipes, any that I liked, I just had to use the BBQ. The BBQ that I used is a fairly basic one, so these recipes should be good for all of you too. The grill can be moved up and down but that is all the heat control that I have.

Growing up in Ireland, the concept of free range was alien to me. Everything just was free range, and there was no need to declare it. There were cows in the field in front of and behind my house. Bullocks, too. Lots of dairy and beef farming, and also lots of potatoes.  Grass fed cattle work for their food, resulting in a leaner meat too. All of that lovely rain which we moan about but tourists love (for the first few days anyway) gives us terrific pasture. Our soil is rich too.

This is a lovely island we live on but we are on the wrong side of the Atlantic for consistently good weather. So, for a BBQ in all weathers, I have come up with four recipes: Stout, Bacon & Beef Burger, Firey Beef Koftes, Low & Slow Spiced Ribs with Bourbon and Coffee Glaze and Miso Steak.

If you fancy winning a Weber BBQ (I know, I do!), take a look at the Grasstronomy Facebook page and enter there. You can learn lots more about Irish beef there too.

Enjoy!

Recipes follow. [Read more]