Zebra steak with gnocchi and salad

Z is for Zebra steak

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 Exotic Meat Company

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

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 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

Salad with Safari servers

Gnocchi

  • 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;

Gnocchi - fried

Zebra steak

  • 2 x 150g zebra steaks;
  • 4 tbsp olive oil;
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice;
  • 1 tbsp yuzu juice;
  • 1 tsp salt
  • several twists of pepper

Zebra meat - defrosted

Zebra steak on the griddle

Recipe:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Zebra steak with gnocchi and salad

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Yuzu and prawn salad

Y is for Yuzu and king prawn salad

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.

Yuzu and prawn salad - ingredients

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Recipe:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve immediately, as although the Cos lettuce is crunchy, it will become soggy if left in the dressing.

Yuzu and prawn salad

Veal served with gnocchi

V is for… Veal with fried gnocchi

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.

Veal in marinade

 

Veal in griddle

Preparation time: 2 – 6 hours (for the meat to marinate)

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 300g veal escalopes;
  • 500g gnocchi
  • 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

Recipe:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Veal served with gnocchi

Roasted tomatoes

So firstly apologies as this was meant to be halibut based recipe rather than a haddock one, but I couldn’t get hold of any in time for this blog, so I had to make do with my local supermarket offering of haddock. Either fish will work!
 Haddock, shrimp and scallop linguine
The tomato sauce can be prepared up to a day in advance and stored in a sealed container in the fridge. It just needs reheating when you’re cooking the fish.
Tomatoes ready to be roasted
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 325g Haddock (or halibut) – skinless, boneless and cut into pieces
  • 150g Shrimps or prawns (cooked)
  • 175g Scallops
  • 1 lemon
  • 500g fresh linguine
  • 15 ripe tomatoes (feel free to use a mixture of varieties, which will enhance the flavour)
  • 1 tbsp Tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Handful of freshly chopped parsley
  • Handful of freshly grated Parmesan
Recipe:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with tin foil. Cut the tomatoes in half and place on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven to roast for 30-40minutes.
  2. Spoon the roasted tomatoes (and all the juices that will have leaked out) into a food blender with the tomato purée, basil and blitz until it has turned into a paste (but still with a few bits – you don’t want to make soup!)
  3. Put the linguine in a large pan of boiling salted water and leave to bubble away.
  4. Meanwhile chop the halibut (or haddock) into pieces and fry for 3-4 minutes in a drizzle of olive oil. Then add the scallops and shrimps (or prawns) with the juice of half of the lemon and continue to fry for another couple of minutes until the fish is cooked. This will not take long and you don’t want to overlook the fish.
  5. By this point both fish and pasta should be cooked, so drain the pasta (reserving about a cupful of the pasta water in the large pan with the pasta). Add the fish, tomato sauce, and 2/3 of the chopped parsley then gently combine until everything is well coated in the tomato sauce.
  6. Top each serving with the remaining chopping parsley, Parmesan and a wedge of lemon.

Tomato sauce - frying onions

Roasted tomatoes

Gnocchi with spinach and pancetta

G is for Gnocchi with spinach and pancetta

This dish is superbly simple to make, tasty and very rewarding with a glass (or several) of a dry white after a long day at the office.
 I do enjoy making my own gnocchi, which isn’t that difficult but time consuming enough to be left to the weekend, so it’s out of a packet in this recipe but there’s nothing wrong with that!
Gnocchi with spinach and pancetta
Ingredients:
This makes enough for 2
  • 500g fresh gnocchi
  • 206g cubed pancetta
  • 260g young spinach leaves
  • 100ml single cream
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • A squirt of lemon juice
Recipe:
  1. In a large frying pan tip all the pancetta cubes and fry on a high heat until starting to turn golden and crisp. You won’t need to add any oil, as there is plenty of fat in the pancetta itself.
  2. Once golden, remove the pancetta and place on kitchen paper to mop up any excess fat.
  3. In the frying pan pour away about half the remaining fat and top up with a dribble of olive oil (not extra virgin, regular will is fine). Add the garlic and fry on a medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile salt a large pan of boiling water and toss in the gnocchi. It should sink to the bottom, and after about 5minutes will raise to the top of the pan – indicating it’s cooked.
  5. Turn the heat down under the frying pan as low as it will go and toss in the spinach.
  6. Stir the spinach around until its coated in the garlic-y oil and has nearly all wilted.
  7. Then add the cream, a spritz of lemon and a couple of turns of pepper and turn up the heat, letting the cream bubble away for a few minutes.
  8. By this point the gnocchi should be cooked, so turn the heat off both pans. Add the pancetta back to the frying pan, drain the gnocchi and add that too.
  9. With a wooden spoon gently fold everything together so the gnocchi is coated in the creamy sauce and serve immediately.
Roast Duck - serving

D – mid-week roast Duck

It is true, roasting meat does take a long time to do, but I promise this dish takes literally minutes of preparation and then you can leave it to do its thing until it’s ready to eat (if you don’t mind the waiting). I had a couple of friends (“handy volunteers” as they called themselves) round for dinner mid-week. They normally finish work slightly later than me, so this was perfect.

In this recipe for Roast duck with thyme, I use duck legs (including the thigh). This does not compromise on flavour (compared with duck breast) and is cheaper too. You can of course use duck breasts if you wish, just make sure they have the skin on too. You won’t need any extra fat/oil in this meal, as there’s already plenty in the duck, which oozes out, permeating the potatoes and makes everything golden crisp.

Roast Duck - serving

 

 

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 1.5 – 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • duck thighs – one per person
  • baking potatoes – one per person
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salad leaves
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil (for the salad dressing)
  • 1 tbsp Cider vinegar
  • A spritz of lemon juice
  • Salt
  • A few turns of pepper

Roast duck - prepped for the oven

 

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Put the duck thighs in a large roast dish – you’ll need one with nigh sides as lots of duck fat will ooze out. If you don’t have a large enough dish, split over two.
  2. Chop the baking potatoes (skins left on, but given a quick wash) into 2cm squares and scatter around the legs, so they’re a snug fit.
  3. Sprinkle over a large pinch of salt and coupe of turns of freshly ground pepper. Top with a few sprigs of fresh thyme and put in the oven and leave to cook.
  4. After an hour of cooking, I usually take it out for a minute and turn the roasting potatoes around to ensure they’re evenly coated in the duck fat and juices. I also put the oven up to 200° C for the last half and hour of cooking to ensure everything is extra crispy. If it needs a little bit longer, leave it in the oven until it’s crisp enough for you.

Roast duck - fresh from the oven

 

I served my duck and potatoes with some shop-bought salad leaves (mid-week time saving). In a small bowl I make a dressing, by whisking together olive oil, cider vinegar, a spritz of lemon and a small pinch of salt.

This could not be easier to make, and I’ve yet to find anyone who can resist duck!

Making the salad dressing

B is also for Beef Wellington

To salivate the taste buds this weekend in preparation for the previously blogged Brownies, I invited a couple of friends round for Sunday dinner, where we indulged (even if I do say so myself) in individual Beef Wellingtons with porcini mushroom sauce and roasted new potatoes.

The mushrooms can be prepared in advance, so if you’re cooking for others, you just need to fry the beef and then it’s a quick assembly job before leaving to cook in the oven.

Beef Wellington - prepped for the oven

Beef Wellington – prepped for the oven

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 500g puff pastry (and plain flour for dusting)
  • 4 x 180-200g fillets of beef
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 500g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 large onion (or 4 small shallots)
  • 300ml double cream
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Oil (anything flavourless in which to fry the meat)
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil
  • A good pinch of salt
  • A few twists of freshly ground pepper
Porcini mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms

Recipe:

These steps are for the mushroom mixture and can be prepared in advance:

  1. I prepare the pastry first, by cutting the block of defrosted puff pastry into 4 equal squares and then rolling out into equal-sized squares about 15cm x 15cm. Dust with a bit of flour and place on a tray and leave in the fridge.
  2. Place the porcinis in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. They take about 20 minutes to soften properly. Whilst they are softening, finely chop the onion (or shallots) and lightly fry in a large frying pan.
  3. Chop the chestnut mushrooms as small as you can and add to the onions. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of thyme.
  4. Drain the porcinis (keep the liquid as a stock for another dish later on), chop finely and add to the onions and other mushrooms.
  5. Add a big knob of butter and fry until nearly all the moisture has disappeared.
Mushrooms and onions

Mushrooms and onions

When you’re ready to cook the main dish, the following steps remain:

  1. An hour before you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut up the new potatoes, put in a baking tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Drizzle over 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Approximately 30 minutes later, turn the oven up to 200°C. Put a griddle pan on a high heat. Whilst it’s getting warm, get the beef fillets out their packaging and rub all over with the oil. You oil the meat rather than the pan to stop it smoking too much.
  3. Fry the beef for about 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Whilst the meat is cooking, take the pre-cut pastry out the fridge, and place a large spoonful of the (now cooled) mushroom mix in the middle of each square.
  5. Once the beef is cooked, put each fillet on top of the mushroom mix on each pastry square. Fold each corner of the pastry into the centre, then the next fold in the newly formed corners again to seal the package. Flip over and place on a baking tray.
  6. Lightly beat the egg and brush over each beef wellington package. Add some artistic slashes into the top of each Beef Wellington and put into the oven for 15-20minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Roasted new potatoes, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme

Roasted new potatoes, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme

Beef Wellington - frying the fillets

Beef Wellington – frying the fillets

Beef Wellington - assembly

Beef Wellington – assembly

Beef Wellington - prepped for the oven

Beef Wellington – prepped for the oven

Whilst the Beef Wellingtons are in the oven, reheat the remaining mushroom mix, and add the double cream. Leave to bubble away until the sauce is slightly thicker and it’s ready to serve alongside the Beef Wellingtons.

Once the Beef Wellingtons and roast potatoes are ready (which should be the same time), take the out of the oven and serve up with steamed green beans.

Beef Wellington with porcini sauce and roasted new potatoes

Beef Wellington with porcini sauce and roasted new potatoes