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RECIPE: Vanilla Ice Cream (from scratch, simple & delicious)

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Hello everyone! Are you enjoying the sunshine? Yes? No? It is a little hot isn’t it.

Not that I am moaning about the heat, I am not. It is mainly joyful except from oh, 10am to 6am, when I drag myself around like a sloth, but this is not the fault of the heat. It is the fault of my rental apartment which has no air con. For when do we ever need it except for a week or so in the summer.

I need it now, and I don’t have it. I don’t even have a fan (I am working on that). So without all of this, what am I to do but to obsess on ice cream, icy drinks like granita and allow myself an occasional snooze, just so, you know, I can deal with it all.

Lets start with ice cream. Frozen custard, that is all it is. The custard is proper custard, home cooked, and not the Birds variety which as a child I used to adore (and is simply coloured and flavoured cornflour).

Real custard fills me with fear. Fear and dread and a mild panic. Why so? Well in school home economics it was communicated to me that it was very easy to screw up and curdle the eggs, and that it should be done slowly in a water bath and that it would take approximately a very long time. I remember stirring anxiously with a wooden spoon, terrified of a yellow fleck of curdled egg (my world was much smaller then). It was delicious but I vowed to never do it again and went back to Birds.

No more, the fear is gone (long gone, I have been making it happily for years now). It is a little painful in that you must take great care, but it is very do-able. The first ice cream I will share with you is one of Nigel Slater’s, his Vanilla Ice Cream, a classic egg custard with some lovely vanilla grinning through. The ice cream is perfect and as a classic vanilla ice cream should be, rich, cool, sweet and aromatic. I think it is the perfect start for a week of ice cream exploration.

I also have recipes of my own, several in my book, lots enriched with cream, some with no eggs at all. One with bacon and another with honeycomb, one with both. I will share a few more with you here this week. I will share the custard love. Bring on the granita and sprinkle the sorbet for summer here and it is freaking hot. So lets deal with it. Here we go.

Note: I use an ice cream machine for these recipes. A worthwhile indulgence if you are an ice cream fan. I use the Gaggia Gelateria because I can make ice cream without planning or without need to freeze the bowl. I have been using it for a few years now and, yes, it is £££ and large and a little noisy, but it is a great home machine and also, speedy. I recommend it.[Read more]

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PREVIEW: Grana Padano Week Menu at L’Anima (and a recipe for fabulous cheese puffs)

Davide Oldani & Francesco Mazzei at L'Anima in London

Davide Oldani & Francesco Mazzei at L’Anima in London

To celebrate Grana Padano week, Davide Oldani of michelin starred Restaurant D’O in Milan has teamed up with Francesco Mazzei of L’Anima in London. They are cooking a special menu featuring the three ages of grana padano cheese until just the 12th of July (which is tomorrow! Be quick).

Davide’s cooking is strictly seasonal, using simple and what were once regarded as peasant ingredients, which he raises to new heights. Francesco’s cooking is terrific, informed by his native Calabria, it is one of the finest Italian restaurants in London, so you shouldn’t need much of an excuse to get down there.

home cured hake with candied figs, tomato emulsion, grana  padano riserva crisps & tarragon £

Home cured hake with candied figs, tomato emulsion, grana
padano riserva crisps & tarragon – this was actually quite a dense dish, the tomato emulsion giving the hake a little brightness, it would be a great lunch on its own

roasted gnocchi with 18th months old grana padano sauce, romano lettuce & spicy sultanas

Roasted gnocchi with 18th months old grana padano sauce, romano lettuce & spicy sultanas – the gnocchi were so light, and crisped gently served with a really light sauce made from cheese and milk, roast lettuce and the sultanas were infused with some chilli, which gave the dish a little kick

charcoal diver scallops with n’duja, grana padano riserva & crispy senise peppers

Charcoal diver scallops with n’duja, grana padano riserva & crispy senise peppers – the scallops were very lightly cooked with n’duja salsa verde on top. Near perfection. I have asked for the recipe so fingers crossed. 

Not all of you are in London, so I am going to share one of Francesco’s terrific recipes with you too for Nutmeg & Grana Padano Cheese Puffs. They are super light and very cheesy (of course). The sweet nuttiness and richness of the mature grana padano is terrific in these. I think perfect for a Friday night at home in front of the TV with a glass (or two) of red wine.

Grana Padano and Nutmeg Cheese Puffs

Grana Padano and Nutmeg Cheese Puffs

RECIPE: Grana Padano and Nutmeg Cheese Puffs

Makes 100 (small) pieces (you may want to reduce it if you live alone!)

Ingredients

400g Milk
200g Unsalted butter
9g Salt (a generous pinch, if you don’t have a scale that measures this precisely, add to taste)
200g Flour
120g Grated Grana Padano, aged for 20 Months
350g Eggs
Black pepper
2g Nutmeg (if you don’t have a scale that measures this precisely, just grate it fresh to taste)
Sunflower Oil

Method:

Put the milk, butter, and salt into a pan.

Bring to boil until the butter is melted.

Add the flour and stir using a wooden spoon on a low heat until the mixture doesn’t stick on the bottom of the pan.

Add the Grana Padano and stir for one more minute. Remove from heat. Put the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the eggs (one by one) until the mixture is nice and smooth. Add the black pepper and nutmeg to taste. Let the mixture cool and form the dough into small round parcels.

Fry the parcels in hot sunflower oil (160/165°C) until they become golden in colour.

Dust with Grana Padano Cheese and serve.

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of grana padano, however, I have eaten at L’Anima many times, and wholeheartedly recommend it. Francesco is a terrific chef, I really don’t understand why Michelin have overlooked him.

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Recipe for Kroppkakor (Potato & Pork Dumplings) from Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

Kroppkakor at Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

Kroppkakor at Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

I am sitting here indoors looking out at the summer sun. It is gorgeous. The only mild frustration being an idiot wasp who keeps flying in through my window, only to get stuck and freak out, buzzing frantically for at least five minutes every time. Initially I was helping him out with paper, but I have given up now and am trying to tune him out.

My garden in the mornings is like the cast of Despicable Me. The squeaky over enthused baby birds chirping randomness into the air from way too early in the morning. But it is summer, and it is sunny, and I will forgive these creatures their annoying habits. I am sure I annoy them too with my open windows and untended garden. However, I must remind them that I am the one paying rent here.

Ninnis

Kroppkakor at Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

Kroppkakor at Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

Kroppkakor at Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

This time last week I was in Öland, making midsummer head dresses and eating dumplings, washing it all down with aquavit. It was a gorgeous day and is now a lovely memory. The dumplings are particular to this part of the world and remind me a little of Acadian poutine râpée which I had in New Brunswick in Canada.

The wheat field next to Ninnis. The wheat swayed gently and hypnotically. So soothing.

The wheat field next to Ninnis in Öland, Sweden. The wheat swayed gently and hypnotically. So soothing.

Ninnis, where I had these, were kind enough to give me the recipe. You should be able to get most things easily. You can get potato flour relatively easily here, and you can certainly get it in Chinatown (it is sometimes called potato starch). For salted pork use uncooked ham, or treat yourself with a mix of (uncooked) ham and bacon. That is what I would do (and plan to).

Because these are boiled and the potatoes are starchy, they are a bit sticky but eased with a coating of cream and soothed with lingonberry jam. Very comforting, and very popular in Sweden. It is also common to eat them with butter, but this isn’t essential.

Kroppkakor at Ninnis

Kroppkakor at Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

RECIPE: Ninnis Kroppkakor from Öland, Sweden

Ingredients

5 kg raw potatoes
300 g boiled potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup potato flour

Filling

1 kg salted pork
3 onions
salt, finely grated allspice

Water and salt, to boil

Method

Peel and grate the potatoes. Squeeze them into a solid mass. Grate the boiled potatoes and mix the potatoes with salt and potato flour. If the paste is hard, dilute it with water until it is like a dough and easy to manage.

Cut the pork into small dice. Peel and mince the onion. Mix the small pork cubes and the minced onion. Season with salt and the ground allspice.

Shape the mixture into balls. Flatten and add a hefty spoonful of filling. Roll into round balls.

Place the dumplings in boiling water, it is really important that the water is boiling! Allow them to simmer, without a lid, for one hour.

Eat hot with fresh cream and lingonberries or lingonberry jam.

Kroppkakor at Ninnis

Kroppkakor at Ninnis

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RECIPE: Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole

I never even heard of toad in the hole as a child. I may have heard it referred to but I always thought that it referred to Toad of Toad Hall of The Wind in the Willows. I was quite surprised to discover it was a joyous and simple concoction of sausages roasted in Yorkshire batter. Delicious!

This is super easy to prepare at home and I am sharing the recipe with you today very quickly, because I really think you need to make it. I have also made this with the cocktail cooking chorizo sausages from Brindisa in a muffin tray. They were so cute I half wanted to tuck them up in bed instead of eating them.

For this, I used common or garden proper pork sausages. That taste of pork and just that. I am not liking the trend of sticking all types of things in sausages. Some things are best left simple (unless they are very good and then I am ok with that).

This makes enough for 2 with 2 sausages each. Or if cooking for 1 as I was, enough for 1 and a big Yorkshire pudding for later. I often cook for 1, and it upsets me that people think it is pointless to do so. We should all cook for ourselves and take pleasure in it.

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole

RECIPE: Toad in the Hole

serves 1

Ingredients

1 egg
50g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
150ml whole milk
2 sausages
one small tray that will accomodate two sausages and wiggle room
flavourless oil or – indulgently – duck fat

Method

Whisk together the salt, egg, milk and flour until there is no lumps and leave aside for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and lightly roast the sausages in a little oil / fat until they are starting to brown.

Remove the sausages and add more fat, it should cover the whole of the bottom of the pan (or you won’t get a nice crisp bottom). Heat in the oven then add the sausages and pour in the batter until it comes half way up the sausages. Put the leftover batter in another small tin with fat to cook a Yorkshire pudding. Or make a second one.

Roast for 20 minutes, in white time the pastry will puff up and crisp.

Eat with gravy and lots of it.

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Hunting Down the Waterford Blaa in Newfoundland (and a recipe for you to make it at home)

Waterford Lane, in St John's Newfoundland

Waterford Lane, in St John’s Newfoundland

Do I need to reintroduce you to the blaa? I probably do. The humble bread roll from Waterford, it is fluffy, square and white with a flour crust, and we are a little obsessed with it. It is thought that it came to Waterford with the Huguenots who called it blanc (because it was a simple white roll), but with our accent and a little time to erode it, it became a blaa.

It is a simple bread, slightly sweet with a little sugar and fluffy with a little butter. Allowed to rise slowly, it is the perfect vehicle for our traditional (and my favourite) chicken and stuffing sandwich. Also, for the occasional tayto (cheese & onion) crisp sandwich with butter to cushion the crisp.

Street art in St John's, Newfoundland, featuring fish (what we know as cod), a huge part of their culture

Street art in St John’s, Newfoundland, featuring fish (what we know as cod), a huge part of their culture

There used to be 60 bakeries in Waterford that baked the blaa, and it never really left it. You never used to see the blaa anywhere else. This has changed recently, in no small part due to the efforts of the remaining bakers, now only 4, who are trying to protect it and have applied for a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). To apply there needs to be at least 3 producers and we are getting low. As a result there has been some press, and I have seen the blaa pop up here and there a bit more.

St John's, Newfoundland. It was common to build houses on stilts, to cope with the dramatic surfaces of the land.

St John’s, Newfoundland. It was common to build houses on stilts, to cope with the dramatic surfaces of the land.

I used to make and sell them at my market stall in Covent Garden 4 years ago, where I made and sold my own food. Not content with doing anything that wouldn’t push me as far as possible and drive me (seemingly) close to deaths door, every day I would make a number of different dishes, always from scratch. Soups, stews, tarts, salads and sandwiches (and all on my own). I would get up at 5am and bake blaas fresh every morning, then serve them filled with overnight roast shoulder of pork and spiced apple relish, or spiced overnight roast shoulder of lamb, with aubergine and tomato relish. They were a hit and I always had a queue, so I ensured that these recipes made it into my cookbook, Comfort & Spice.

A house on the Battery in St John's, Newfoundland

A house on the Battery in St John’s, Newfoundland

I was speaking once with my father about Nova Scotia (as I have a good friend from there who I was visiting). He, previously a master cutter at Waterford Crystal, knew some ex colleagues who had moved to Nova Scotia to set up a crystal company there. And somewhere along the way, my father had discovered that they made the Waterford blaa in Newfoundland, and only there. That sounded familiar.

That had my attention and it has been in my head ever since. Food is culture, it tells you a lot about where you come from and the land itself. Newfoundland has many Waterford connections, not least in their accent which can be very similar to my own. It turns out that this is for a strong reason, Waterford city used to be the headquarters of the seasonal cod fishery in Newfoundland dating back to the 16th century. Many people from Waterford and surrounds travelled to Newfoundland to work in the cod industry as seasonal workers (mainly between 1763 and 1830) and lots stayed on. Their mark is still there, there are many Powers, Barrys, Butlers, McCarthys, in fact there are over 1300 Irish names on Newfoundland now.

I was fascinated and determined to seek the blaa out. I was sure it must be there but my initial research proved fruitless. I contacted the tourism board and a local historian, both super helpful, they tried but could not find my blaa. I was sure it must be there, so I took a risk and thought, if I can find a baker, I will visit. I was sure that they were making them, and that they have just given them a different name.

On my first day in St John’s, I popped into a local pub for a bowl of chowder, and served next to it was what I would know as a blaa. AH-HA! I knew it! What is it? Just a bread roll. But it isn’t. Not to me and most of Waterford at least. The next day I was meeting Lori Butler, a local baker and chef with a passion for Newfoundland food and recipes. We had communicated over email, and Lori had said that she made a bread roll, but wasn’t sure if it was a blaa. I was now fairly certain that it was.

Lori and her mother in law Regina

Lori and her mother in law Regina

We started early, in Waterford Valley in St John’s. We got the dough ready and left it for a first rise. Like most home home cooks, Lori does things by eye and by feel, using recipes that have passed through the generations. We left the dough to double gently and then portioned it into 8, rolling it in flour and leaving it to rise, all cosy and cuddled together, as blaas are.

Proving the dough

Proving the dough

Proving the dough

Proving the dough

Dividing the dough into 8

Dividing the dough into 8

I was now fairly certain that we were making blaas and I was excited. We allowed it rise again, gently on the side and then dusted it with a final flour flourish. We baked it, we tore them apart and I had a bite. This is a blaa, I declared! I knew it! I have found it. It was a little bigger than normal, but it was the very same bread. I was even happier when I discovered the roast turkey and dressing sandwich, which is similar to our roast chicken and stuffing sandwich except that here they pour warm gravy on also. I am taking that back with me. (Dressing in Newfoundland is stuffing made with savoury, in place of our thyme). They drink steeped tea too, something I always associate with my childhood in Ireland.

Steeped tea

Steeped tea

Dusting the bread with extra flour

Dusting the bread with extra flour

 

Ready to taste

Ready to taste

I found them! Lori and her home baked blaas

I found them! Lori and her home baked blaas

Lori had learned her bread recipe from her mother who had learned it from her mother in turn. I brought some with me to give to some other Newfoundlanders who all agreed that they had remembered their mothers making them too.

Here is to history and culture, the kindness of strangers, the food that brings us all together, and a humble little bread that travelled to the other side of the Atlantic and stayed the course.

My Blaa Recipe

be sure to have it with roast chicken, stuffing and gravy – OR – and you have my permission, some tayto crisps and butter ;)

Makes 8 blaas
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A BBQ in Halifax & a Recipe for Foil Wrapped Halibut with Garlic, Oregano & Lemon

BBQ Halibut with Oregano, Lemon, Chilli & Garlic

BBQ Halibut with Oregano, Lemon, Chilli & Garlic

A quick post for you today with a few photos. I am in Halifax now, staying with a fond old friend. When we both lived in London we often met over food and wine. Things are not much different now. We had planned a large dinner with her family, lots of dishes using the best of local produce. I was going to make my bacon fudge. Five minutes into cooking the propane went out. We had no cooker and oven.

What to do? It became a BBQ. Not one dish that we had planned could be made on the BBQ so:

Cajun prawns with grits became lemon & chill prawn skewers. The grits can wait for another session.

Chilli & Lemon Prawn Skewers

Chilli & Lemon Prawn Skewers

Halibut with chorizo, breadcrumb and herb crust became two dishes. Chorizo (the soft fresh cooking kind), tomato & pecorino koftes perched like little spicy torpedoes on the edge of the grill. Oregano, garlic and lemon woke the halibut from its slumber. We portioned it and put put each in an individual foil parcel with a simple marinade. The halibut was local (and bought in the lovely Seaport market in Halifax mid tropical storm) and beautifully tender and sweet, 15 minutes later it was perfectly cooked and delicous.

Chorizo, tomato & pecorino koftes

Chorizo, tomato & pecorino koftes

Chorizo, tomato & pecorino koftes

Chorizo, tomato & pecorino koftes

Halibut with Lemon, Oregano, Garlic & Chilli

Halibut with Lemon, Oregano, Garlic & Chilli

Asparagus and ruby chard met over an open flame instead of in a pot, and I even managed to kinda candy bacon in maple syrup on the BBQ and we served that, chopped into small bite size bits, on top. With more space and the right pot it is of course possible to make fudge, at this point, I decided to leave it though.

Ruby chard with asparagus (which later met garlic, evoo, sea salt and lemon)

Ruby chard with asparagus (which later met garlic, evoo, sea salt and lemon)

Israeli cous cous was briefly sauteed in olive oil before the propane went out. I covered it in boiling water from the kettle in a shallow pan (to about an inch above it). It soaked it all up and then I quickly steamed off the excess water on the BBQ in a foil tray. It then became a salad with goats cheese, confit tomatoes, chorizo (sauteed in a foil tray on the BBQ), red onions and herbs (which I forgot to take a photo of but I was more interested in the wine at that point :)

Prawn skewers & chorizo torpedoes - ready to eat

Prawn skewers & chorizo torpedoes – ready to eat

Sometimes, with a twist of fate and some quick thinking, things just work out better. Enjoy.

RECIPE: BBQ Halibut with Lemon, Oregano, Chilli & Garlic

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes (depending on your BBQ)
Seres: 1 (obviously many more if you want to)
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Food Memories & a Recipe for Black Sticky Rice with Banana & Coconut Cream

Black Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut & Flaxseed

Black Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut & Flaxseed

My life is peppered with food memories, I suspect most of our lives are. From crisp potatoes, boiled, peeled and then deep fried before being eaten with a sprinkle of salt, that I used to love when I was a child.

Marietta biscuits with butter, two biscuits pressed together so that the butter would squirt out of the holes like hair. Homemade fudge, buttery rich. I always tried to make it but could never work it out (I didn’t know about thermometers then). Stewed rhubarb and stewed apples, big bowls full, supplied by fruit from the orchard nearby.

Everything good or significant that I have eaten, I can remember. For my confirmation lunch, I remember the vegetable soup, and my shock as I watched my grandfather add white pepper to it. My first slice of pizza in Rome when I was 19, with potatoes and taleggio, I remember how bright it was outside the big window as I sat down and ate it. I remember how delicious it was, every last bite. I remember my first proper ice cream, and my childhood ice cream treat sliced and served with wafers.

I gather these memories all the time. They are scattered all over the world now and I fantasise about jetting back to Beijing for peking duck and egg yolk dim sum, to Hong Kong for delicate, gorgeous xiao long bao, to Bangkok for crisp divine chicken wings and to Seville for some jamon iberico.

Lots are restaurant based and one recent one that resurfaced was a black rice breakfast dish from Nopi (Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant). I craved it, and even more so as I worked on my Thai coconut sticky rice and mango dish. I couldn’t get it out of my head. So, off I went to Chinatown, and purchased a bag of black sticky rice for £2. I was set.

This is another terrific breakfast dish, like porridge but with more texture, reams of flavour, creamy and flaxseed provides a lovely texture contrast, as well as being absurdly good for you.

I can’t stop eating it. It felt only right to share.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Black Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut &  Flaxseed
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Recipe: Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

This dessert was one of the best things that I ate in Thailand. Not the most complex by any means, or in any way challenging. For comfort, straight forward deliciousness and a dish that makes you feel brighter about life as you leave an empty plate behind, look no further.

I ate it many times in Thailand. I couldn’t resist it. However, I usually had to order it holding my nose with a lemon sucking face while trying not not barf, for it was almost always served from stalls that sold its vicious smelly neighbour durian.

DURIAN. Does anything smell more foul? Yes, rotten meat, cadavers and sewers but durian smells of all three. It is like a demon that has digested them and is burping it for your displeasure.

Walking down the streets of Bangkok admiring beautiful colours, delicious smelling street food, watching passing monks gilded in orange robes, I would suddenly feel squeamish and sure enough shortly after I would see a durian stand. Spiky green fruit, bloated and proud. If they were a cartoon character they would have an ill fitting suit with buttons popping from their shirts.

Now, I know you will say – BUT THE TASTE! And yes, I hear the taste is amazing, but I have a fierce sense of smell and even the mango sitting nearby has a lingering taste of durian. So I could not do it. Next time, I will force myself. With a clothes peg on my nose and a doggy bag.

I have gone off track. Back to sublime mango. Cheerful, bright and sweet. Coconut sticky rice is sold as a dessert in Thailand but for me, it makes a sublime breakfast. This really is best if you can soak the sticky rice overnight but don’t worry if not, it is still worth making it. Get a rich ripe mango dripping with syrupy sticky sweetness. Alphonso mangoes are in season, and are in the shops in Tooting now, that is what I am using.

Enjoy!

Note on the recipe: all ingredients are available in Thai shops, Chinatown in London (specifically New Loon Moon which also sells fresh young coconuts and every Thai ingredient I have ever needed for Thai cooking incl recent recipes). I also spied Thai sticky rice and palm sugar in my local Waitrose. It is best to make this when you are going to eat it as the rice is best just after it is cooked. It can soak up the coconut milk and get soggy over time too.

RECIPE: Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
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Rhubarb Cordial
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Recipe: Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

There is a lot to be said for the sunshine and a big bright sky. It brings cheer after a long harsh winter – and I know I haven’t experienced most of it – but London has become a dour place, and it seems as though as a city, it has been suffering from a severe Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So, what joy the sun brought with its big sky and warm sunshine. Everyone was cheerful and the parks were full. I was inspired to cook something bright and joyful. I wanted fruit and I wanted a refreshing non alcoholic drink. My mind turned to rhubarb cordial.

I love homemade cordials, I have one in my book and make many at home all the time. I finish them off with sparkling water and ice and sip as I work. After work, they sometimes end up in a cocktail.

The cordial I made is a fresh version to be consumed within the week. If you want to preserve it so that it lasts a few months, use citrate (also called citric acid) in place of the lemon (1 teaspoon for the recipe quantity below). Citrate is available in pharmacies generally although no longer in the UK, you can however order it online.

I used bright English rhubarb, not forced rhubarb but normal stuff. It was a lovely bright pink, if broader and tougher than its slender cousin. After a brief period of cooking, the cordial mixture is allowed to strain gently through a fine mesh sieve (or some muslin), releasing the bright pink cordial and leaving the darker fruit fibre behind. This incidentally, is great mixed in with yogurt for breakfast.

This recipe also works really well when you combine it with blood orange or rose extract when you are cooking the rhubarb. I make both, and adore them.

Enjoy! This is so easy and is really so delicious. The vibrant flavour and colour are something that you don’t get in the shop bought stuff, unless you are buying an artisanal one (which is also homemade, just not in your home :)

RECIPE: Rhubarb Cordial
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Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung (a vibrant and delicious Thai soup)

IMG_5331

Pichit and the Prawn Tom Yum Kung that he taught me to make

I have returned to London for a short stretch, and minutes off the plane it seems, I have contracted the brutal head and chest cold that has been taking London down. I was doing so well, I have not had one cold this winter.

For relief and to fight it, I need something simple, firey and potent to blast the germs out. I also need something cheerful and bright. My life is full of lemon, honey & gingers. I now also need to introduce Prawn Tom Yum Kung soup.

IMG_4808

Ingredients for Prawn Tom Yum Kung

This recipe is another from Thailand from my class at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. This is an authentic recipe and is full of flavour. I think it is also the perfect thing for a cold. There are two ways of making it, one is clear and one is milk with some more firey heat. In Thailand they use tinned milk which is quite sweet and lighter than coconut milk.

IMG_4799

Thai blue river prawns

I am going to work on a coconut milk version, and for now share the recipe for the clear soup, which is adapted from the recipe taught to me by Pichit (in the photographs). I had to change the recipe a little to adapt to the size of our prawns and the availability of ingredients, but the taste is very similar to what I had in Bangkok and still very good.

Note on the recipe: we used giant blue Thai river prawns. I would suggest the best raw prawns that you can find. Cooked prawns will just cook further in the broth and become leathery.

You might also like to check out my recipe for Thai Seafood Green Curry from the same class.

IMG_5328

A slightly blurry photo of the finished soup in Bangkok – it was insanely hot and steamy there and I was just about holding it together towards the end :)

Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung Soup [Read more]

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Recipe: Siri’s Thai Seafood Green Curry Recipe Step by Step with Photos

Seafood Thai Green Curry ingredients

Seafood Thai Green Curry ingredients

Green curry is misunderstood in many places outside of Thailand. Often perceived as a mild curry that you would give most chilli phobics (certainly in the UK and Ireland), it is often bland and dull, full of green peppers and mushrooms and to my mind, unless you are somewhere very good, not very interesting.

In Thailand, green curry is hot. Very hot and aromatic. Packed with flavour (which is the signature for most Thai food in my experience), you can choose the heat level you want if you make it yourself, so when we made this at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market, we went for a compromise medium heat which was just perfect and not medium for our palates at all. Hot, so fresh and really delicious.

Several things make this recipe flavourful: fresh homemade coconut milk and cream, fresh pounded curry paste (you must – so much better than shop bought), the wonderful herbs and aromatics, the fish pounded to a paste with fish sauce (which Thais use instead of salt on the table) and lots of chilli.

It won’t be possible to replicate this entirely outside of Thailand but I will suggest where you can make substitutions as you go. As long as you make the paste from scratch – this is key – you will have a great dish. Everything else is a bonus.

Enjoy – it is a fantastic curry. I have adapted this recipe, but it comes from Siri, so thank you, Siri!

Note: if I don’t suggest an alternative, the ingredient is relatively easy to source via Asian supermarkets – some are online too.

Recipe: Siri’s Thai Seafood Green Curry [Read more]

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One Heartbreaking Failure (maybe 6) and a Cracking Caramel Recipe (Candied Bacon Salted Caramel to be precise)

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

What exactly is that? A slightly odd looking chocolate egg in the foreground with just a touch of bling (to cover its issues), some really odd looking hens eggs covered in chocolate behind, and a jar of goo?

That, dear readers, is one day of my life, the next morning very early, and a ridiculous eggy photoshoot before I journeyed to Heathrow to get my morning flight yesterday am. My annoyance is conveyed perfectly through the crap photo, I think.

I know. I need to get a grip sometimes.

Worth it though, these are like a pimped and slightly filthy version of Paul A Youngs amazing salted caramel filled chocolate egg, which I had for Easter last year. I have been playing around with bacon A LOT. You know this. This was one of the recipes that I had fun with, then hated, then abandoned, and then gave in. Being a perfectionist leads to a path littered with imperfection as you strive to reach your final goal. It is painful and tortuous, but when you hit it, it is worth it every time.

This wasn’t that.

Let me tell you what I did though. I painfully pierced both ends of eight hens eggs. Then made the hole larger in the broader end before piercing the yolk with a skewer and blowing the content out into a bowl. Then I cleaned and sterilised the eggs by boiling in water and vinegar before drying them for ten further minutes in the oven.

So far so good.

Next I tempered some chocolate the cheats way by melting 800g of dark chocolate, then adding another 250g of unmelted chocolate, and letting it mingle in until the temperature got down to 31 / 32 deg C. Then I filled the eggs with it. After 10 minutes I teased some of the chocolate out and left them cool. What I was left with was a couple of perfect chocolate egg shaped shells, and six mucky deformed ones. I also rammed some egg shell right under my fingernail. Yikes, even I cringe when I remember. It still stings.

But the candied bacon salted caramel that I filled them with? The first time I didn’t quite bring it to temperature. I was lazily using a light brown sugar and misjudged the point where it became caramel, so that the results where a chalky grainy sauce when it cooled down. My second attempt was much more successful, I used white sugar and my thermapen and when the caramel hit over 160 deg C I knew I was home safe. Butter and cream rounded it out, and I used this to fill my perfect egg.

So, have a lovely Easter, and here is my candied bacon salted caramel recipe for you, should you fancy porking it up a bit.

Enjoy!

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Recipe: Candied Bacon Salted Caramel

Ingredients

8 slices of streaky bacon
8 heaped tbsp light brown sugar
500g white sugar
200ml water
225ml cream
175g butter
1 heaped tsp sea salt

a thermometer for perfect results

Method

Start by candying your bacon. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and put one heaped tbsp of sugar on each bacon slice rubbing it in on each side with your fingers. Lay out flat and cook for 10 minutes, turn and lay flat and cook for 10 more minutes. Take each slice out and lay on a buttered plate or greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Chop finely when cold. It is important that you remove it from the oven tray, or it will stick there.

Get cracking on your caramel. Add the white sugar and the water to a pan. Bring to the boil and watch for when the sugar begins to turn golden. You want it when it becomes amber, just before it goes too far. The easiest most painless way is to watch the temperature with a precise thermometer like a thermapen. Once it gets over 160 deg C, you are done.

Whisk in the butter quickly and when assimilated add the cream, the chopped bacon and one heaped teaspoon of sea salt. The bacon will be salty already but depending on how salty it is, you may want to add more (or less).

Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge. I love it on toast or in my Easter egg.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles

Bourbon bacon chocolate truffles

Bourbon bacon chocolate truffles

I have been withholding most of my bacon recipes from you, and for a very good reason which will be revealed in a bit. I am sharing one today though, it was published on Stylist recently for Bacon Connoisseurs Week, and I am sharing it here now so that you can do something delicious for Easter. Here you go: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles.

What madness is this? What deliciousness lies within? Let me tell you people, these little truffles, balls of intense flavourful delight, will win you friends and appease your enemies.

Candied bacon

Candied bacon

When thinking of bacon in sweets, remember how you first felt when you heard about salted caramel. Right? This is just as good, I say even better.

Bacon and sugar love each other and so they should. Combined in an oven and candied, bacon becomes arnished with a sugar toffee that will snap, and that is the secret ingredient in these truffles.

Bacon bourbon chocolate truffles

Bacon bourbon chocolate truffles

Bourbon has to be invited to the party, mainly because it will be upset if not, its rumbly alcoholic tones complete the trinity.

Have fun, try to share and don’t eat them all at once.

RECIPE: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

6 slices of streaky bacon
6 heaped tbsp brown sugar
250 ml cream
250g dark chocolate
25ml bourbon
100g cocoa

Method

Start by candying your bacon. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and put one heaped tbsp of sugar on each bacon slice rubbing it in on each side with your fingers. Lay out flat and cook for 10 minutes, turn and lay flat and cook for 10 more minutes. Take each slice out and lay on a buttered plate or greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Chop finely when cold. It is important that you remove it from the oven tray, or it will stick there.

Heat the cream until it just shivers, if you boil it it will change the taste and be too hot for the chocolate. Add the chocolate off the heat and stir in to melt until it becomes all glossy, then and add the bourbon and the finely chopped candied bacon. Stir in and leave to chill in the fridge for 2 hours until solid.

Put the cocoa on a plate and scoop out your truffles with a teaspoon, or for a perfect round with a melon baller. I like them to be rough and ready as a bacon truffle would demand. Roll them in the cocoa and then they are ready.

Time to eat them!

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Recipe: Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber

Tagliatelle

Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber

It is St Patrick’s Day and I know I should be blogging something *Irish* but here you go, there is some green in here at least. I really should be showing you a proper Irish stew, bacon and cabbage or crubeens (Irish for trotters) but when I arrived in Amsterdam, I was shattered, covered in mosquito bites and craving comfort. So, I made this.

Pasta is one of my favourite quick fixes. Once you buy a good one, or take the time to make some yourself, the rest is easy, and soon after you can find yourself eating something soothing and delicious. This is a mixture of the random ingredients that I have been collecting on my trips: some speck from Berlin, some pul biber from Istanbul (a fantastic firey, rich and deep flaked pepper) and the rest from the local shop in Amsterdam, around the corner from my apartment.

The result was perfect, almost medicinal. The soft goat’s cheese with some pasta cooking water serves as the soothing part of the sauce, the sweet squash was tender and spiked with pul biber, all wrapped in spinach sheets. Pine nuts provide an extra layer of flavour and a nice textural contrast.

Check Turkish shops for pul biber, or look online. It is worth the effort. Omit the speck if you want to do a vegetarian version, the pul biber will provide enough depth.

Enjoy! Let me know how you like it.

Recipe: Tagliatelle with Squash, Spinach, Goat’s Cheese & Pul Biber
[Read more]

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Recipe: Banana, Coconut & Lime Bread

Banana, Coconut & Lime Bread

Banana, Coconut & Lime Bread

As with most children, I was a fan of cake. All kinds of cake, except coffee cake. That, to me, was a filthy abomination. I mean WHY would anyone put coffee in a cake, especially for children? I couldn’t understand it. Cake was a place for jam, cream, ice cream, lemon curd, chocolate, lots of things, but definitely not for coffee. (I get it now before you try to persuade me I should try it :)

When I heard that we would be making banana bread in school, I thought that we were progressing down a similar path. We had cooked mackerel, and I was starting to become suspicious that perhaps Home Economics would not be fun after all. Despite growing up almost on the Atlantic shore, as a child I hated fish. Or, at least I thought I did. So, mackerel, then banana bread, I was losing faith.

What does banana bread even mean anyway? It isn’t really a bread, there is no yeast or rising process, but then there isn’t for soda bread either. It is made with baking powder, sugar, eggs, bananas, flour. Doesn’t that sound like a cake? But it really isn’t one is it? It can be light or heavy, depending on personal preference, but it is sweet and fruity. I was converted immediately. For me, banana bread is a delicious confusion, and I think I have improved it a step here with my twist.

Stepping back a little bit again – I should explain that I have been travelling for over 24 hours and am writing my mini banana bread missive from Kyoto so forgive me when I inevitably ramble, as I am – banana bread was brought back to the forefront of my consciousness when I visited Vancouver. It was everywhere, and in many variations. They love it.

Then more recently, in the Caribbean, I started thinking about the versatility of banana as an ingredient, and I have quite a few new recipes for you now that I developed last week, although I will spread them out over the next few months for I have no desire for this to become a banana blog, that would be a different thing altogether. I could call it bananas for bananas or something similar, but I won’t.

Back to my banana bread. I love coconut as an ingredient too. Occasionally fresh when I have the patience, and maybe a hammer, more often I use coconut milk or coconut cream, and occasionally dessicated coconut. Coconut oil is a great cooking oil which I use a lot too, and it is a decent substitute for butter in baking when you are cooking for somebody that can’t eat it. I have a curd recipe which includes it, I really must blog it here. Lime goes especially well with it, as does banana. It was a no brainer really.

I used a punchy little wrinkly lime from my local Indian shop. It had such sweet strong perfume, if you are in London, seek them out. If you can’t get them, don’t worry, a normal lime will do, just be sure to get a good one, as you don’t want waxed rind in your lovely bread. Dessicated coconut gives extra coconut flavour and texture and also lightens the crumb.

I hope you like it as much as I do. It is nice and light and zingy. I realised after I made it that it is dairy free too (my first draft said vegan, jet lag is a beast! Thanks to those who commented to correct me :)

Enjoy!

Banana, Coconut & Lime Bread

Banana, Coconut & Lime Bread

Recipe: Banana, Coconut & Lime Bread

Ingredients

400g ripe bananas (over ripe work very well too)
juice and zest of 1 lime
160ml coconut cream (the small tins not the solid block, alternatively use the thickest part of a tin of coconut milk that has been allowed to separate by not agitating it)
100g dessicated coconut
200g flour
3 tsp baking powder
175g light brown sugar
generous pinch of sea salt
3 large eggs

loaf tin or cake tin (I used an 8 inch sandwich tin), buttered (or oiled)

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 deg C.
Whisk the eggs and sugar until they increase in volume and get a little creamier and thicker.
Sift the flour and baking powder. Mash the banana and mix with the flour, baking powder, and all remaining ingredients.
Pour into your prepared tin and bake until a skewer or knife comes out dry when pierced through. This will depend on whether you bake a shallow or deep cake but will take 55 – 60 minutes.

Bajan Pepper Sauce
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Recipe: Bajan Pepper Sauce

Denise with our finished pepper sauce

Denise with our finished pepper sauce

Greetings from London, I am back. The first day of Spring (really?!), in Ireland, Earrach (Ar-ock) and the 1st is St Brigid’s Day, where we traditionally made the St Brigid’s crosses. I wonder if kids still do that now?

Everyone was secretly hoping I would be miserable, I think (you were!) but, I love London, and the weather doesn’t really bother me, mainly as I have been away from it for a bit. Plus it is not long until I go away again so I want to soak London up. There is so much to write about Barbados though, and there are those recipes too, so it will live on here for a few more days at least.

The first thing I will share is the recipe for Denise’s Pepper Sauce. For the uninitiated, Bajan pepper sauce is delicious and is served with everything. Recipes and preferences vary but, generally, it is quite spicy (for the UK palate at least) but some are very hot and some a bit cooler. I like mine in the middle somewhere. This one, that I am sharing now, is HOT but, really delicious.

The interesting thing for me is how much turmeric went in it. I love fresh tumreric and use it over dried a lot. It requires prep though so I sometimes opt for powder when pressed for time. Bright yellow, a rhizome like ginger, it stains fiercely, be warned. I have had yellow hands that looked like I was an incredibly clumsy smoker for days after using it the first time. I now use gloves. It is worth seeking out as it is quite different to dried, with beautiful aromas, almost floral. Turmeric is terrifically healthy with anti inflammatory and anti oxidant properties too, it is also said to help prevent cancer and recent studies indicate it may help with lipid metabolism and weight loss.

Denise, a chef at The Club in Barbados where I stayed, shared her mother Thelma’s recipe with me, which I am so grateful for. This is the one I am sharing her with you now. Her mother passed away 2 years ago, and her recipes were her legacy to Denise. She still makes her Bajan seasonings, pepper sauce etc. Her pepper sauce recipe is traditional, and basically is composed of turmeric for colour (it also adds a lovely aromatic quality), chillies for heat, onions for consistency, vinegar thins it out and preserves it, mustard gives it an extra bass note and helps with the consistency too. A pinch of brown sugar balances it.

I took notes as we went, Denise adds as she goes and knows what she is looking for. It is a terrific and quite hot sauce. If you want it milder, add more vinegar and mustard (they use a mild American style mustard), or stretch it with some conrnflour & water. This is what they do for commercial pepper sauces. Personally, I think it takes from the flavour but if you want to reduce the heat, this is one approach you can use.

I have some recipes coming up that use this as an ingredients. Both Bajan recipes, and recipes of my own that use it as an ingredient, including a twist on Sunday roast chicken, which I am very excited about.

Whole turmeric

Whole turmeric

Peeled and chopped turmeric

Peeled and chopped turmeric

Note on the recipe: fresh turmeric is widely available in London in Asian shops and Chinese shops. It looks like skinny small ginger. Fiddly but worth it. I have also seen it in Asda too, so keep an eye out for it. If you can’t get it, don’t worry. I will be publishing my own recipe soon once I have played around a bit, and I will make a version without fresh turmeric.

Turmeric

Turmeric

Adding the peppers. PHWOAR!

Adding the peppers. PHWOAR!

Pepper sauce before vinegar and mustard

Pepper sauce before vinegar, sugar and mustard

Finished pepper sauce

Finished pepper sauce

Recipe: Bajan Pepper Sauce
[Read more]

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Recipe: Chef Baka’s Banana Fritter Recipe (from Palm Island)

Chef Baka's Banana Fritters

Chef Baka’s Banana Fritters

Every morning on Palm Island, I would ask what the local breakfast was, and almost always order it. I love Caribbean breakfasts.

On my first morning, the local breakfast was banana fritters. Well, yes please. The bananas here are fantastic, rich and sweet, almost like they have been soaked in a rich banana syrup. I made banana fritters in school at Home Economics and was quite taken with them. These, however, were different.

My school banana fritters were slices of banana, fried in batter. Just that and for a 13 year old Irish cailín a revelation. These Caribbean banana fritters are more of an intense banana American pancake with some gentle spicing. Fluffy, light and like a morning banana tickle. Except that sounds quite rude. It isn’t!

Like banana bread, they are made with bananas just on the right side of brown – speckled skin with some yellow bits – mashed until soft (do you remember banana sandwiches?! I used to love them) and then added to the fritter mixture. Perfect for bananas that have gone too far to eat. Frugal & a wee bit healthy too.

I loved those banana fritters and I ordered them regularly, so I asked Chef Baka for the recipe. He went one better and showed me how to make them. He does weekly cooking demos on Palm Island so he did this one for me.

Cooking Banana Fritters with Chef Baka

Cooking Banana Fritters with Chef Baka

So, here it is. Enjoy! Do let me know how you like it.

Note on the recipe: the recipe is in American cups which I have converted to mls / g. I have included both. Our bananas are not as sweet as the ones here, so it may be wise to add the sugar if not completely ripe, or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Enjoy!

RECIPE: Chef Baka’s Banana Fritters

Ingredients

3 big ripe bananas, mashed
1 & 2/3 cups / 250g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg (more if you like it – I do!)
1 tsp Cinnamon
2/3 cup / 160ml milk
1 egg
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
Oil or butter (for frying)

Method

Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar in a bowl.
Beat egg well, then combine mashed banana and milk.
Add dry ingredients and stir with a fork until the batter is smooth.
Heat a frying pan to medium-hot and add enough oil to coat the flat area.
Scoop a tablespoon of the batter onto the pan when the oil is heated to medium hot.
Fry on one side until small bubbles start to come through the batter, you will know then that that side is done.
Flip over and flatten the batter slightly.
Fry for a couple of minutes until medium brown.
Place cooked fritters on a few layers of paper towels to absorb excess oil. Best served warm but cooled is good, too.

Further info on Palm Island, and on Tropical Sky’s package to Palm Island.

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Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Carrot Salad

Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Wraps

Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Wraps

The inspiration for these patties comes from fond memory of a lovely trip to Sydney some years ago, pre blogging, so I have never written about it here. Particularly, of an evening in a Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown. Now, brace yourselves. At the time, I didn’t eat meat. It is ok really – calm down – it really is ok.

I ordered a prawn on sugar cane dish. I asked what was in it, was there any meat? No just prawns, don’t worry. Any meat at all, any pork? (I expected there would be). No, no! Just garlic! The waitress looked at me, suddenly worried and said: do you have a problem with garlic?

No, no I don’t. Bring it on.

I took a bite. SAUSAGE. Pork sausage with a lick of the sea. It was lovely and I couldn’t resist it. I conferred with the waitress who said, why yes, there is pork in there! Of course there is.

I ate every bit, it was delicious. And that taste memory, and the recall of a lovely dinner with an old friend, is what inspires this recipe today.

These patties are super speedy, packed with flavour and versatile. I have been eating them all week in different guises. As sandwich fillings, as meatballs in a beautiful aromatic home made chicken broth made from raw chicken carcasses and lots of veg, served with noodles, bean sprouts, pak choi and fresh herbs. That should keep any illness at bay.

The simplest and quickest way was a fresh light lunch of these patties in lettuce leaf wraps with a light carrot, coriander and red onion salad. I made a big batch of the paste and stored it in the fridge, using it as I fancied over the course of 3 days.

I will post the recipe for the soup soon too. For now, enjoy these wraps.

Carrot, coriander and red onion salad

Carrot, coriander and red onion salad

Note on the recipe: a food processor is best for this, if you have one. I have been asked if it is possible to substitute chicken for pork. I will work out the recipe for this too and post it. You can half the recipe too, obviously, if you are making for one or two.

Recipe: Prawn & Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Carrot Salad

Makes approx 10 patties

Ingredients

Patties:
600g minced pork – avoid lean, fat gives moisture and flavour, I used 8% fat
400g raw shelled and deveined prawns
2 red chillies (to taste – I like heat)
1 stick of lemongrass, outer layer peeled and bottom removed
1 inch of ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 spring onions, trimmed with green tops
handful of coriander leaves
juice of a fresh lime
sea salt

a couple of heads of gem lettuce

Carrot salad:
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
a handful of fresh coriander
juice of a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced and crisped for about 30 seconds on each side

light oil for frying

Method

Soak the red onion for the salad in the lemon juice, while you make the patties, so that the sharpness of the raw onion mellows out.

Put all of the ingredients for the patties, except the pork and prawns, in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Add the pork and prawns. Blitz until thoroughly mixed and a paste. Season with sea salt and fry a small bit to taste. Adjust and repeat if necessary.

Divide the patties into 10 pieces and fry for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until brown and cooked through. Don’t overcook or they will become dry.

Add the carrot and the coriander to the onion and lemon juice and mix. Serve each patty in a lettuce leaf with the salad on the side and the crisped garlic on top.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Quail Eggs Diablo with Chorizo

image

Brunch! Quail Eggs Diablo with Chorizo

January demands delicious comfort. More than any other time of the year. It is so grim. All your money is gone, you have just seen all of your friends and now everyone is hiding at home. A spring clean no doubt looms after the Christmas chaos. I hate spring cleaning.

It just sucks, doesn’t it?

So why then, would you deprive yourself of the only nice things available to you? Nice food and drink?

Well that is my theory anyway. January should be a fun month. A month to evade the low grey sky hanging so gloomily over our heads and brighten things up a bit. Red tights with black dresses, yellow umbrellas. Whatever you can do to add a bit of sparkle, just do it.

I have been kick starting my 2013 mornings with firey brunches. Chorizo has been my best friend, and I have been combining it with all sorts of things, always eggs, sometimes braised lettuce, often smoked garlic. This morning I loved my brunch so much, I thought that even though I just have a photo on my phone, I must share it.

Picture the scene. Slothful in the flat in a giant pink dressing gown (think a pink Bear in the Big Blue House, it is a BIG dressing gown). Almost out of coffee but there is just enough. There is chorizo, but I am out of normal eggs. But I have quail eggs.

They will do. In fact this is better as the ratio of yolk to white is higher and I get 4 delicious yolks to dip my chorizo in.

I finely slice a small red onion and fry it gently for maybe 10 minutes, until it starts to crisp. I then add the chorizo, 75g, sliced in half and then sliced small. Slowly cooked for about 5 minutes. 1 tsp of a firey Mexican smoked chilli paste which I have come to use lots, Gran Luchito, is added and stirred through.

The bass notes are sorted so to lift this, I add a sprig of fresh rosemary, pines removed from the branch and finely chopped, and a finely chopped clove of smoked garlic. Then while this is cooking slowly, I gently crack the shells of four quail eggs with a sharp knife, and slide each egg slowly into a ramekin. I don’t want to break those precious yolks.

I stir the chorizo mixture one last time and make a hole in the middle (I use a small frying pan which is best for my brunches for one). Then in with the eggs, and on with the lid. These cooking gently for 2 minutes or so until the white is set and the yolk still fluid.

Handsome and delicious. I loved this spiky colourful brunch.

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Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Red Eye Ribs

Smokin' Hot Red Eye Ribs

Now I loved that bacon jam. And it opened my eyes to using coffee in a marinade. Why not? It worked so well there it was bound to be a winner. Then a friend told me about red eye gravy, a coffee gravy served over ham in the American deep South. Coffee and pork are two of my favourite things in this world. The die was cast.

Pork ribs are a much under valued and underused cut of meat. So cheap, so full of flavour, I expect it must be because people don’t know what to do with them. (fyi – in response to a comment below – I am of course referring to the UK & Ireland here. I know they eat lots of them elsewhere). Marinaded ribs are wonderful on the BBQ but also great cooked low and slow in the oven until the meat teases slowly from the bone. Then, and only then, are they are ready to eat.

Smokin' Hot Red Eye Ribs

The secret to all marinaded meat recipes is time, so make sure you marinade them for long enough. Aim for a minimum 2 hours, overnight is best. I used chipotle in adobo again in these, it is one of my favourite things to use at the moment. So versatile with a rich smoky heat. You can get it online quite easily if you are not an urbanite like myself. Otherwise substitute with your favourite chilli, or chipotle chilles (dried or fresh).

Now when choosing pork ribs you have two options: baby back ribs or spare ribs. I love both and on this occasion had some pork spare ribs to try from the London Fine Meat Company, an online butchers based in London. The ribs were big and meaty and delivered at £4.70 a pack (approx 12 big ribs in each). I will use them again, time is such a precious commodity these days.

I made these for friends and they loved them, hope you enjoy them too. These ribs were big so 3 per person was perfect. You may choose to make more, and why not when you are roasting them for so long. You might as well make the most of the oven. Shredded leftovers would make a great sandwich filling or Asian noodle salad.

Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Red Eye Ribs

Serves 2

6 pork spare ribs

Marinade:

500ml fresh brewed coffee
3 chipotles & 3 teaspoons of the adobo sauce (or substitute with chilli), finely chopped
80 ml cider vinegar
4 tbsp rich brown sugar like molasses sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
generous pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients for the marinade and massage ito the ribs. Cover and refrigerate for minimmum 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150 deg C.
Put the ribs and marinade in a high sided tin and cover with foil.
Roast gently for 2.5 – 3 hours until the meat pulls off the bone, basting with the juices every half an hour.
Rest the ribs for 5 minutes under foil before serving. If the marinade hasn’t reduced to a sticky sauce (it should haev), reduce gebntly over a medium heat in a saucepan and serve poured on top of the ribs.
Eat with your fingers! It’s wrong not to.