All posts filed under: Recipe

Making Tagliatelle with Ragu with Anna – an Emilia Romagna Recipe

One thing  that I learned on my recent trip to Emilia Romagna is that every recipe and every dish is personal. Passion exudes from every pore, and never more than when the topic of food or the particulars of a recipe are under discussion. People in Emilia Romagna are very animated over lunch, and they are mainly discussing the food that they are eating, and just that. I love that. People get particularly excited about homemade tagliatelle with ragu. It originates there, and Emilia has one way, Romagna another. Within those regions different families have their own approach. Bologna has a meaty dense ragu of its own (hence, Bolognese sauce). The personal differences are glorious. I had so many different ragus in trattorias all over the region. Some dense with meat and assertive, one cooked in lard and layered with white pepper (my favourite, I think), some rich and fruity with tomato with the meat appearing to surf it. I cooked ragu with two people in Emilia Romagna. The first was Anna, a wonderful lady based in Savignano sul Rubicone in Emilia Romagna. …

Mango & Lime Friands (Two Versions: Buttery & Dairy Free)

Sweet! I want something sweet! And full of sunshine. I can no longer take the grey, grey sky that hangs so low over my head. Friands remind me of Australia. Bright blue skys, rolling frothy seas, cliff walks, great breakfasts, and all of their wonderful cafés. We have many great Australian cafés in London now too, and the friands are popping up, but like everything, you really can’t beat making them at home. They are so simple and take a maximum of 10 minutes to prepare, and 12 – 15 minutes to bake. You will be stuffing your face with friands in no time, and your biggest problem will be trying not to eat them all. I love a friand but I don’t need twenty of them squeaking at me from the kitchen – eat me! eat me! eat me! – 6 is too many but it is the least you can make so make sure that you can share them with someone, or some colleagues. Maybe you are not like me and have some self control, but …

Piri Piri Chicken (Using a South African Marinade Recipe)

Piri piri is the name of a chilli, and also a sauce containing it. Piri piri chicken (also called peri peri) is a terrific dish made using the sauce, and, er, a chicken, found in Portugal and Southern Africa, and increasingly everywhere else, thanks to Nando’s. I am not comfortable eating the Nando’s one though, as the chickens are barn reared and I think they could do better. I mean, why not? They are in a perfect position to raise standards rather than do the minimum to meet them. I have had piri piri in many places. Portugal (the Portugese brought the chillis back from Africa, and also brought them to Goa), where the piri piri tends to be a chilli oil which is liberally brushed on a rotisserie chicken. I have had piri piri in South Africa too, where the sauce tends to be thick and fruity, with spice as well as chilli heat. I have also had piri piri from Mozambique, not in Mozambique but in Maltby St in London, where Grant Hawthorne aka African Volcano makes …

The BCKT (Bacon, Crispy Kale & Tomato Sandwich)

I have been in Toronto for almost a week and I have learned a few things. Happily this trip coincided with fiddlehead season, again, so that was a treat. And I now see that everyone in Toronto is even more obsessed with kale than they were before. Green kale, purple kale, cavolo nero, baby kale for salads and kale juices (offensive, sorry, I tried and it was like drinking bile. Might work with some apple?). There are kale cookbooks, the Indian restaurant I am sitting at right now in Toronto airport has a kale salad but with an Indian twist. It is endless, and that is good, infernal stomach rotting juice aside, for kale, generally, is a very good thing. Especially when crispy. (Mmmmm, crispy!* Now there is a word that polarises as much as kale. But I like crispy, even if incorrect and so I shall keep using it). So, you all know I love bacon. I mean who doesn’t, at least who doesn’t that doesn’t have religious objections to it? I have never …

Boozy Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

I am up to my eyes in bacon boxes, book writing and other work, so today I must be brief. Rather than disappear as I have done when very busy lately, I will write briefer posts and today, I will share with you one of my favourite indulgent recipes, my recipe for boozy raspberry chocolate brownies. If you are afraid of baking, this is the recipe for you. So easy, and very delicious, this rich dark chocolate batter, spiked with pops of bright juicy raspberry is virtually impossible to screw up. I promise you. It also tastes like it was much harder work. The perfect recipe?

Monkfish Cheeks with Clams and Sake

There are a few pervasive myths around cooking and eating. One, that good food takes time to put together, a second, that cooking takes a lot of skill, and the third, that it is expensive. This dish proves that none of that is true, at least all of the time. We can all feed ourselves well and simply. I am blessed to have a great local fishmonger. Yesterday, I whizzed down on my bicycle when I had a craving for something light and fresh. I was thinking that it might be nice to make a light aromatic Asian fish broth with rice noodles. Nothing complicated but a dish that was full of flavour and sparkling with health that didn’t rob my evening with the effort. I couldn’t decide which fish it should be, and my eyes were drawn to a collision of small elegantly shaped fish bits huddling with their smooth faces pressed against the counter. I enquired as to what they were? Monkfish cheeks, the fishmonger said.

Wild Garlic & Chorizo Potato Gratin

Hello, hello, hello! How are you all today? I have had a day where I felt positively useless, and unproductive, despite all my efforts to the contrary, so there was nothing for it but to crack out some potatoes and make something comforting, to soothe my addled brain, and start again. Earlier this week I re-enacted a near annual tradition. I met a bald man from Essex in a random part of town to make an illicit exchange. Something that I have that I am willing to part with, for something fragrant. He had in his hand a heavy grey plastic bag with green muddy tentacles peeking out. His name is Danny (Food Urchin), and he has brought me some wild garlic. Hurrah! The tradition is thus. Danny has a garden full of wild garlic, and when I am in town in the season, I meet him and get a plant. In exchange he gets something random. In fact, that is how I first met Danny. I wandered to Borough Market to meet a strange …

For What Ails You: Aromatic & Hot Chicken Soup Powerhouse [Recipe]

So, I told you all about my curry eggs cold smasher the other day. Yes, it is a cracker, but it didn’t smash my cold quite as quickly as I wanted to. So, there was nothing for it, I had to call in the reserves: chicken soup, with a twist. There is scientific evidence that supports the notion that chicken soup is in fact Jewish pencillin (as it has always been said to be). It tastes great too and is not too traumatic a recipe for when you are poorly, as long as you have a chicken in the house. I didn’t but a friend kindly brought one round for me and so I was set.

A Remedy for a Head Cold & Jet Lag: Eggs Poached in a Simple Homemade Curry [Recipe]

Singapore was great. My first visit, I was greeted by a vibrant and very friendly city that is obsessed with food. I ate what I could, but never enough. There are so many different dishes to try. I am heading back quite soon on a stopover to complete my list. Which is lost, but more on that in a minute. As great (and brief) as the trip was, it didn’t end well. My phone, with so many of my photos, all my notes and recorded interviews was MIA. I left without it and have had no luck tracking it down. When I got home my flatmate asked if I had a cold and I realised, fark, I do! I had put it down to hay fever the previous days. I don’t like to moan – especially on here – but after a night of absolutely no sleep and a stonking head cold, with a missing phone, and falling behind with work as I can’t think straight, I feel like crap. But, there is a solution. …

Recipe: Silky Smooth Modernist Cheese Sauce for Perfect Mac & Cheese and Cauliflower Cheese

How do you like your mac and cheese or cauliflower cheese? No doubt you have your hidden secrets, your favourite cheese combinations (cheddar, provolone and parmesan work a treat, as one chef revealed recently to me), your personal twists (a little pickled jalapeno chopped and lingering like a tiny battleship), your many little ways of making your perfect cheese sauce. But do you ever get enough of that cheese hit? Even with all of that cheese? I make my sauce really thin with the smallest amount of roux possible (roux? a combination of flour and butter used to thicken sauces). Even so, I sometimes can feel the flour lingering below the surface, a little scratchy, and as a result, I end up with a sauce that is not as velvet rich as I would like it to be. The flavour of the cheese often feels muted too. Making it as cheesy as I would like involves a lot of cheese, and that can be a little too thick. What I want in my mac and …

Recipe: Fuchsia Dunlop’s Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles (with Prawns)

Convenience isn’t always about using your store cupboard bits and bobs. Convenience, for me, is often about avoiding leaving the house. I know. I live in a big city about 10 minutes walk away from a supermarket and 2 minutes from a reasonably stocked corner shop, but some days I am so deep in cabin fever / cosy / lazy / attached to my pjs, I will do anything to just stay indoors. So, if I want a sandwich I may delay it so that I can bake the bread. Yes, I do that. Not often, but I do. That is also because I can’t stand the really processed stuff and the bakery is, well, 10 minutes away, but you know, I don’t want to leave the house (and I like baking). Or, if I need peanut butter to cook someone else’s store cupboard supper, I will make it at home rather than walk 2 minutes to the corner shop. The result is a much better peanut butter and the effort is not too great. …

Recipe: Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Dip (Because We Must)

Some days demand chicken wings. Today is one. The best bit of the chicken for snacking on, the skin to flesh ratio being somewhere in the region of can-solve-most-of-lifes-problems, chicken wings are also very reasonable. Even in my local posh butcher, a kilo of lovely free range wings costs just over £5. Everyone should have a recipe for hot wings in their repertoire. So easy and so gorgeous, spiked hot crisp wings dipped into a soothing cool blue cheese dip is all that you have ever wanted after a bad day. Or any day. Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce is what makes the wings sing, you could make your own, and it is the kind of thing that I often do, but in this case, truly, Frank’s have done all the work and made a great sauce. So, like every other hot wing fanatic on the planet, I use that. They take little work. I roast the wings until the skin is just crisp, prepare the hot sauce which takes, oh, 2 minutes, then douse the wings …

Baking, Yorkshire Rhubarb & a Recipe for Rhubarb, Pistachio & Rose Frangipane Tart

I am not an obsessive baker like many food bloggers. Certainly not in the sweet sense. I love salt, broth, tender meat, spritely vegetables and all the other things that make savoury sing. I have always loved confectionery, especially making it, and I am partial to a lemon meringue pie, victoria sponge, swiss roll and lots of old school classics, but that was it when it came to home baking. I simply wasn’t all that inspired to explore beyond that. I was happy with my salt. Then something changed. In the last few months I have developed a sweet tooth (which sits nicely next to my very happy salty one). In fact, I think that all of my teeth might be salty, and now there is one shiny sweet one in the mix. And then there is rhubarb. Lovely pink tender rhubarb. Slender and elegant, the rhubarb of January in the UK is Yorkshire forced rhubarb (also called champagne rhubarb), grown in the dark in long sheds in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, and harvested by …

Thoughts On Dry January, Diets and a Recipe for Salmon Tacos

It won’t surprise you, but I don’t do dry January. Nor do I do diets. I reign myself in, become a little more pragmatic and try and restore balance by eating a little lighter but still in normal amounts. Or rather, I start eating normal amounts. Replacing sour cream with yogurt. Eating more fish and less meat. A bit more salad. Lots of avocados. Frying less, although still a little. Lighter Brighter cooking is what I shall call it. It is all about being aware that every little bit makes a difference but not killing the enjoyment of it. Food is sustenance and a source of great pleasure. The key to health is home cooking, moderation and exercise. And good sleep. With diets, I think a lot of people feel better not because they have cut out a food group (don’t get me started), but because they have started paying attention to what they eat, and what they cook. One very big thing is cutting out processed food. Some go from not cooking at all …

Duck Confit Hash for Sunday Breakfast [Recipe]

Two favourite things, no three. Lazy Sunday mornings with a big pot of coffee, the Sunday paper and an indulgent breakfast, trips to Paris and the duck confit that I bring home. Every time I go to Paris, I visit G Detou and buy several things, two of which are a tin of duck confit from Les Landes and a tin of pork sausages, confit in goose fat. Lets start with the duck confit. An essential cupboard staple, I save mine for evenings where I am tired and in need of comfort. I open the tin, prise out a leg, and crisp it in the oven until the duck, tender under its canopy of bronze crisp skin is ready to be devoured. The skin too of course, it is the very best bit. Perfect with buttered greens and crisp potatoes, on Friday I had it with an intensely gratifying mash, where potatoes tenderly mixed with slow cooked leeks and some truffle mustard (from Maille, available on tap at the Maille shop in London, and it …

Raised Waffles with Beef Shin and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Do you like this? Huh? You do, don’t you? And it is a little confusing, isn’t it? Is that breakfast colliding with dinner? Just a bit, but as a flavour and texture combination, it is sensational. Let me tell you how to spend a glorious weekend afternoon. Maybe one with the rain dragging outside, better again, a day with that horizontal rain that drives into your face and makes the outdoors utterly inhospitable. One of those days that is best approached in pyjamas and a big jumper, slippers and no desire to do anything but stay inside. A day, like this one, is a day for ragu.

Crisp and Fluffy Raised Waffles [Recipe]

So hopefully you have all got your waffle irons right now, and are ready for some waffle slinging action. I have another waffle recipe and it is a cracker. The US and Europe have distinct culinary influences. I never heard of Julia Child until I was obsessed with cookbooks, well into adulthood, and foraging for inspiration amongst culinary bookshelves. I grew up with Darina Allen, and later other grand dames like Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey and Elizabeth David. In the US, Julia Child was the first port of culinary call for most, and similarly their different cultural influences point to different everyday recipes, which brings me neatly to the raised waffle, or waffle at all, in fact. 

Spelt & Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta & Maple Syrup

Well, that was a mouthful wasn’t it? But a very tasty one, so I am ok with that. Welcome to the good ship waffle, folks. I am obsessed. I cannot get enough of them and instead of the usual 3 recipe tests, I find myself doing 5 or 6. It is my 800th post today. That is 800 times over the last 6.5 years where I have sat down and written a missive, where I have planned a meal around it, photographed it, tried to find the best light in the room, wandered outside with my lunch and photographed it in the winter cold in the garden, rushed back in to eat it still warm, travelled to another country to write about it, hunted down something random in London because I needed it or because I needed you to try it. 800 moments of distraction, and joy. I am so happy that I decided to start this blog of mine, and that you like to read it makes me happier still. Every time. Getting a …

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Roast Pork Belly with Apples, Cavolo Nero & Marcona Almonds

I am up to my oxters in bacon and pork belly, testing recipes and cures for my next book, Project: BACON, and making bacon boxes to send to people who subscribed for them. Something had to give, and today, it was me. I stole 1kg of the pork belly earmarked for a cure that would transform it into chilli bacon, and roasted it instead. I needed it. I had too much wine last night and I am pretty fragile (er, maybe hungover) today. It is a typical routine really: work hard, play hard, fall over, roast some pork belly. I love the stuff and it is so comforting. I have two pork belly recipes in Comfort & Spice, and one is a slow roast over 6 hours, but at 11am I decided that I wanted it and I wanted it NOW so this is the quicker version which results in a firmer meat, and not a tender yielding meat that results from the slow roast. A few years ago I was going through a pretty …

Chicken Soup with Garlic Butter Toasts

Chicken Soup to Soothe all Ills with Garlic Butter Toasts

Good Monday morning, folks. Where was that storm they promised us? I only wanted something small, that wouldn’t cause too much damage or hurt anyone, but that would clear the air and bring on Autumn properly. Those unseasonal 18 degree C days last week were a bit odd, weren’t they? I didn’t like them at all and could never seem to dress appropriately. My red wool coat and knee high boots were like lead weights and I felt miserable. This morning, as I peered out the window, I saw only a tree with a few less leaves and a slight limp drizzle. It felt more like an Irish summer than a storm to end all days. (We can get some grim ones). I still remember the tail of Hurricane Charley as it swept through Ireland in my childhood. Terrifying and magical, as it came in, we were rounded up and brought indoors. I remember looking for my 5 year old brother as the winds continued to rise and the rain pelted down. The wind was …