I have finally reached Z (and therefore the end of this blog). Don’t despair however, as I will be starting a new blog about cooking food that’s in season very soon, so stay tuned.
This week I decided to go all out and cook something I’d never eaten before: zebra steaks, which I found at The Exotic Meat Company in Borough Market. They source their zebra products from a managed ranch in South Africa. It was expensive (~£10 for two steaks), but as this isn’t an everyday meal and has been shipped in, the price is justifiable for a one-off meal.
The zebra steaks I bought were very lean and having done my research, zebra has a delicate flavour for red meat. Therefore I didn’t want to overpower the meat with other intense flavours too much, so I could enjoy it properly. I therefore decided to marinate the meat in a simple marinade, and serve with gnocchi and a crunchy, colourful salad.
The recipes below serve 2.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Half a bag of designer salad leaves (I used watercress, spinach and rocket);
Radicchio – finely shredded;
¼ fennel bulb – finely shredded;
1 stick of celery – finely cut;
2 spring onions – finely sliced;
1 tbsp white wine vinegar;
2 tbsp (extra virgin) olive oil;
a pinch of salt
a squirt of lemon juice
½ tsp Dijon mustard
500g gnocchi (homemade or straight from a packet is fine);
3 tbsp olive oil;
a pinch of salt;
2 twists of pepper;
1 tsp of rosemary – finely chopped;
2 x 150g zebra steaks;
4 tbsp olive oil;
2 tbsp lemon juice;
1 tbsp yuzu juice;
1 tsp salt
several twists of pepper
Firstly prepare all the ingredients for the salad and toss together in a bowl. Then make the salad dressing by combining the white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon, salt and mustard. The dressing should start to emulsify thanks to the mustard (as opposed to separating). Don’t pour the dressing over the salad until you’re ready to serve.
For the zebra steaks, put all the ingredients in a shallow bowl to make the marinade. Place the steaks in there and leave to stoop for about 5 minutes a side.
Put a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once it’s hot enough (the oil will start shimmering) tip in the gnocchi. They will take a couple of minutes to cook on either side. About halfway through the cooking, add the seasoning (salt, pepper and rosemary) and remember to toss / turn over so they get an even colour.
Whilst the gnocchi is on the go, put a griddle pan over a high heat and leave to hot up, then add the steaks. As always, I oil the steaks (via the marinade), not the pan to avoid the kitchen filling up with smoke. It takes 3-4 minutes to cook on each side if you like your steaks somewhere between medium and rare, although tailor the times to your preference.
Once cooked, take the steaks from the griddle and wrap in tin foil for 5 minutes. This resting time allows the steak juices to settle and makes the meat more tender.
In the meantime, dress the salad and serve up the gnocchi, salad and finally add the steaks to your plate and dribble over the juices.
I looooove quince so I snapped up a good bunch at the Old Trafford Amateur Gardeners Society last week. This recipe means you also get some jelly from the poaching liquid – a tasty addition to toast.
150g butter, softened, plus a little more for greasing 2 large-ish quinces (about 600g) 160g caster or vanilla sugar 160g runny honey 1 small thumb fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced Juice of ½ lemon 250g plain flour 2 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp baking powder Good pinch of salt 180g caster or vanilla sugar 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk 100g creme fraiche 1 tsp vanilla extract 3 balls stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped
For the topping 3 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar 3 tbsp quince poaching liquid 2 tbsp granulated sugar
Heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Grease a 23cm x 5cm round, spring-form cake tin, line the base…
I’ve been away on holiday for a while, so haven’t had the chance to post the latest blog, but here it is at last….my yuzu and prawn salad. With the temperature reaching the high-teens in the UK this weekend, it’s got me thinking about light and fresh summer food. I hope this dish is just that…it’s very low calories, low-fat but high in flavour and colour. This is a dish for one, but is easily multiplied up if you need to make it for two people.
Some of you may be wondering what a ‘yuzu’ is? Well, it’s a fruit used in east Asia that has a strong citrus flavour that is somewhere between a grapefruit and a lemon. I’ve used it in this dish as it’s a very fresh flavour and compliments the prawns.
I have used Cos (or Romaine) lettuce in this recipe as it is crunchy and will hold its shape under the prawns. You may of course use a softer leaf, but at your own peril.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
180g king prawns – uncooked, frozen or thawed;
1 thumb sized piece of ginger – peeled and finely diced;
1 tsp soy sauce;
1 tbsp yuzu juice (or yuzu seasoning);
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
2 spring onions;
zest of ½ lemon;
squirt of lemon juice;
zest of 1 lime;
½ Cos (Romaine) lettuce – torn into small pieces;
½ ripe mango – diced into 1cm pieces;
Pinch of salt.
In a small bowl, make the yuzu dressing by adding the yuzu juice, olive oil, salt, lemon zest and juice and spring onions – finely chopped and give a little stir then set aside.
Put a dribble of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and tip in the prawns. Prawns can be cooked from thawed or frozen, but will just take a couple more minutes if being cooked from frozen. Stir round and as soon as the prawns begin to change from a dull grey to their coral pink colour, add the ginger and lime zest. Keep moving round the pan until the prawns are completely pink and then tip in the soy sauce.
On a large plate (or shallow bowl depending on how much of a messy eater you are – bowl in my case), pile up the lettuce and mango pieces. Then tip over the cooked prawns and drizzle over the yuzu seasoning.
Serve immediately, as although the Cos lettuce is crunchy, it will become soggy if left in the dressing.
This week’s recipe take’s it inspiration from India and delivers some real spice flavours as well as a big chilli hit! It uses a really healthy ingredient as it’s base, chickpeas, which are low in fat, high in fibre, protein and are even one of your 5-a-day. The inspiration came from Anjum Anand, so if you’re intrigued by Indian food and want to learn to cook it authentically, check her out.
As this week is X, I’ve used eXtra chilli in the recipe and in the chicken I served with this, but if you’re not a heat fan, feel free to reduce the chilli quantity. There are so many other spices in this dish that you won’t miss the chilli hit if it’s not your thing.
I’ve served my curry with chilli-basted chicken, but if you want to make the recipe completely vegetarian, chickpeas go really well with wholemeal pitta breads and a slather of butter.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Add a tablespoon of oil to half of the chopped chillies and rub over the chicken breast, then place in a small baking dish. Put in the oven and leave to bake for 40 minutes whilst you’re completing the rest of the recipe.
Put the garlic, tomatoes (chopped into quarters) and ginger into a mini-blender with a tablespoon of water and blitz into a paste.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a high heat. Once the surface begins to the shimmer it will be hot enough (this does not take that long, so keen an eye on it!) Add the cloves, cardamon pods, cinnamon and half the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle away for a couple of minutes and allow their aromas to fill the kitchen. Add the chopped chillies, onions and leave to fry until the onion starts to go brown.
Then add the blitzed tomato paste, turmeric, ground coriander, chilli powder and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium and leave to cook for 4-5 minutes.
Tip in the chickpeas, 500ml of water, garam masala, tamarind paste and remaining cumin seeds. Allow to come to a boil and leave to simmer away for 15 minutes until the liquid has halved in volume.
Once the chicken is cooked (give a small stab to make sure the juices run clear), serve the chickpea curry with it and a sprinkling of chopped, fresh coriander.
This is a very simple dessert, that looks “posh” i.e. looks like it took a lot more effort than it really did. You could serve this at a dinner party or perhaps even for Valentines day (or any other cosy night in for that matter).
I’ve used a sweet Moscato rosé wine from Barefoot Wines, which is perfect for this kind of fruit dessert. I served mine with vanilla ice-cream, which I think is best with pears, but if you’ve got your own flavour combination (e.g. crème fraîche, chocolate ice cream) don’t let me stand in the way.
The recipe is for 2 people, but can easily be multiplied up for more.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 semi-ripe pears;
2 tbsp honey;
4 sprigs of thyme;
250ml rosé wine;
1 large knob of butter
Peel the pears, then half and core.
Put a frying/skillet pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Once it starts foaming add the thyme sprigs and the pear halves cut-side down. Fry for about 3-4 minutes until the cut-side has taken a bit of colour.
Remove the pears from the frying pan and put on a plate whilst you make the poaching liquid.
Add the wine and honey to the pan and turn the heat up high, all the while giving a good stir to bring up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan (as they have the most flavour). Cook down until the liquid has halved in volume.
Take the ice cream out of the freezer at this point so it has time to soften before serving.
Turn the temperature down to a low-medium heat then add the pears (cut-side up this time) to the pan. Spoon a bit of the liquid over the pears then put a lid over the pan and leave to simmer/poach for 10-12 minutes until the pears have softened. The majority of the liquid would have cooked away/been absorbed.
Serve two pear halves with a drizzle of the poaching juices, a fresh sprig of thyme and vanilla ice cream.
Firstly apologies for the long gap in the blog. I decided as part of a health kick to do ‘dry January’, which unfortunately meant that I could trust myself to cook my remaining (alcoholic) recipes, so I had to wait until wet February to continue the blog, when dry January was well and truly over.
This recipe, is a bit of a cheat meal…it’s like combing your baguette sandwich and glass of wine all in one and baked, full of cheesy goodness. I call it my wine-boosted baguette, or simply the Boozy Baguette. The wine I used in this recipe was a sweet Moscato from BareFoot wines (because I had a particular sweet-tooth moment), but any grape variety will work.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients (per person):
1 glass of white wine;
3 slices of ham (try to get it from the butcher rather than the pre-packed stuff) cut into bite-size pieces;
one handful of grated gruyère cheese
smooth Dijon mustard
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Slice the baguette into 2-inch slices and place cut side down into a baking dish. Pour over the glass of wine so a little seeps into each piece of baguette.
Spread a small amount of mustard on each slice. Then sprinkle over the ham and top with the grated cheese.
Put in the oven for 25 minutes or until crispy and golden on top. Serve with the rest of wine.
Firstly apologies for such a long gap between the previous post and this one, I was very busy in December with quite a few Christmas parties and then the festive period itself; however I had not forgotten the blog, so here is the next instalment.
I know veal can be a somewhat contentious issue, but this is not the forum to discuss ethics. I enjoy all food and believe it should all be cooked well. This is a simple recipe, which allows you to appreciate the meat itself. I’ve served mine with fried gnocchi, but if you want to be healthier, it could equally be served with boiled new potatoes.
The recipe serves 2 greedy people comfortably.
Preparation time: 2 – 6 hours (for the meat to marinate)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
300g veal escalopes;
5 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juice of
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
knob of butter
2 handfuls of green beans
100g tender stem broccoli
In a shallow dish (or food-proof, sealable plastic bag) place the veal and pour in 3 tbsp of olive oil, the lemon juice, rosemary and chill flakes. Give a stir around until the meat is completely covered then cover (or seal in a bag) and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.
When you’re ready to cook, you’ll need a griddle, a large frying pan and a small saucepan on the go at once. In the large frying pan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and a knob of butter over a medium heat. As soon as the butter is foaming, add the gnocchi, string occasionally.
Meanwhile put the griddle pan over a high heat. No oil is needed in the pan as the veal is already coated in oil. Once hot, take out the veal from the marinade (the remainder of which can now be discarded) and place on the griddle. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side, then wrap in tin foil to rest whilst you are finishing the other dishes. The meat will keep warm and continue to cook slowly in it’s own heat.
In a saucepan add the green beans and broccoli, a good pinch of salt and an inch or two of boiling water. Cook over a high-heat for a couple of minutes with the lid on , which will allow the veg to part boil and part steam. Give a stir round to make sure everything is tender, and it should only take a couple of minutes.
Once the gnocchi are golden brown all over (which should take no more than 10 minutes), you’re ready to plate up. Any juices that have oozed out from the veal can be poured back over the meat on the plate – you don’t want to waste flavour!
After the last few weeks of splurging (is that a real word? well…over indulging in any case) I attempted a healthier tack this week, hence the asian themed food, which, by default is usually a low-fat starting point for supper. I say attempted, as I decided the keep the fat on the pork belly so that I could get some crispy skin…well it is the tastiest part after all!
If you’re more restrained than me, you can always cut away the fat from the pork belly before you start….or not, it’s up to you. This dish is deeply warming and delicious either way, with layers of flavour and surprisingly filling.
The slow-roast pork belly can be prepared earlier (even the day before and kept wrapped up in the fridge) to be re-heated in the oven before you assemble the soup.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours for the pork + 15 minutes for the soup itself
For the slow roast pork belly
700g joint of pork belly (I use about 175g per serving of soup)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 spring onions
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1-2 tsp dried crushed chillies
1 inch of ginger, cut into fine sticks
120ml low-salt soy sauce
For the udon noodle soup
1 packet of udon noodles (inside the packet they are separated into individual portions)
1 portion of slow roasted pork belly (as per the below recipe)
liquid reserved from slow roasted pork belly
600ml chicken stock
2 medium carrots – cut into fine match sticks
1 red pepper – cut into fine match sticks
1 handful green beans (optional)
2 spring onions
handful of fresh coriander – chopped.
For the slow roast pork belly
Pre-heat the over to 200°C
Drizzle a little sesame oil in a frying pan, then over a medium heat brown the pork joint on all sides to seal in the flavour. I leave the skin side down for an extra minute to ensure it goes as crispy as possible without letting it burn.
Whilst you’re browning the joint, put all the other ingredients for the pork belly in a bowl and mix together.
Once browned, transfer the meat to a baking dish and pour the marinade over the top. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes to allow the skin to crisp up even more. Then turn the temperature down to 150°C, cover the dish with tin foil and allow to cook slowly for another 2½ hours.
After cooking, the meat should have taken on some of the flavours of the marinade and be really tender and ready to eat (but not yet). Remove the meat from the marinade, wrapping in tin foil and keeping both for the soup below.
(cooking enough pork belly for 2)
For the udon noodle soup
This soup is more of an assembly job. Start by boiling the Udon noodles in boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Whilst you’re doing this, pour the left over pork marinade in a saucepan with the chicken stock and boil on a high heat until slightly reduced, adding the carrots, peppers, spring onions and green beans if using for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Drain the Udon once cooked, and transfer to a soup bowl. Pour over the liquid and vegetables, and cut the pork belly into ½cm slices and add to the bowl. Garnish with fresh coriander and you’re ready to serve.
You can also soft boil an egg and add this now as is traditional in many asian soups, but having had enough protein today I decided to leave the egg out this time.
As a fan of both pastry and crumbles, I hate being in a restaurant and having to choose between desserts, so in today’s blog I’ve used a recipe that will turn anyone’s eyes bigger than their stomach.
The recipe for toffee is conveniently on my previous blog entry, and you’ll be pleased to know this recipe only uses a small amount of it, so there’ll be plenty of toffee left to devour in your own time.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
1 pre-rolled sheet of shortcrust pastry;
For the filling:
100g caster sugar;
the zest of 1 orange;
4 Bramley apples (peeled, cored and cubed);
4 Braeburn apples (peeled, cored and cubed);
1 cinnamon stick
a large handful of small toffee pieces from my previous recipe
For the crumble:
200g plain flour;
100g caster sugar;
35g ground almonds;
10g flaked almonds;
Pre-heat the oven at 150°C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 0.5cm thick so that the pastry is big enough to fit inside a spring-form baking tin and goes up the sides. Gently push into the base of dish. Tear off a large square of baking parchment, crunch up and then unfold and place over the pastry, then pour in ceramic baking beans. Leave to bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
For the filling, add the butter, sugar and orange zest to a medium-sized pan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chopped Bramley cooking apples and cinnamon and cook until the apples are very soft. Then add the chopped Braeburn apples and cook for another 2-3 minutes only, then turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick and set aside. This will ensure there are different textures in the crumble filling.
For the crumble, add butter, sugar, flour and ground almonds to a bowl. Rub the mixture between the pads of your fingers and thumbs until it is like coarse sand. Then add the flaked almonds and tip into a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the mixture around every 5 minutes so that it cooks evenly.
To assemble the pie-crumble, pour the apple mixture into the pre-cooked pastry and push in a handful of small toffee pieces around the mixture. Then pour the crumble on top. Add small pieces of toffee on top of the crumble and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a couple of minutes then gently ease away the sides of the spring-form tin. Cut up and serve with ice cream or cream.
This week I couldn’t choose between recipes or the type of dessert I wanted to cook, so I combined all of them. This first ‘T is for…’ recipe is for toffee, which, if you make, will come in very handy for the second ‘T is for…’ recipe, which will be the blog entry following this one.
You will need a sugar/jam thermometer for this recipe – the mixture needs to be cooked to a specific temperature and if it’s not reached, the treacle will not set properly. You can get one for about £10 and will mean you can cook up jams, fudge and toffee sweets whenever you want (so well worth the investment in my opinion).
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients (all from the baking aisle in the supermarket):
450g dark brown sugar;
100g golden syrup
150g black treacle
5g cream of tartar
a dribble of oil for greasing
In a large pan, over a medium heat, add the water and brown sugar and leave to boil until the sugar is dissolved. You need to use the biggest pan you can as the mixture will bubble up to about 4 times its volume later.
When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and add the cream of tartar, golden syrup and black treacle. Then place back on a medium-high heat and attach your sugar thermometer.
Boil until the mixture reaches 140°C – this can take a bit of time, but don’t take your eyes off it, as it can burn easily. Whilst you’re waiting, line a baking tray with silicon paper lightly greased with oil.
As soon as the toffee reaches 140°C remove from the heat and pour into the pre-lined baking tray and leave to cool. Once cool to touch pop in the fridge. It shouldn’t take more than an hour to harden. Then when the toffee is solid, cover with another sheet of baking paper/tin foil (to stop toffee shattering everywhere) and smash it into small pieces with a hammer or the end of a rolling-pin.