Rhubarb crumble

Rhubarb is in season and we love rhubarb so I had to make crumble. I boiled the rhubarb with sugar to taste and then put it in ramekins to cool. The crumble today was equal weights of butter, flour, porridge oats and Demerara sugar. Feel free to add chopped nuts, cinnamon or whatever else you think will add to the flavour. 

Sprinkle on top of the rhubarb and cook for 25 minutes at 180C, gas mark 4, 350F. The perfect complimentary dessert to pork belly. 


Published in: on May 17, 2015 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aromatic pork belly hot pot

This recipe is from The River Cottage Meat book and was extraordinarily easy. The pork belly was cut into large chunks and then boiled for 5 minutes. The meat was drained and put back in the pan, covered with stock and then spring onions, soy sauce, rice wine, rice wine vinegar, sugar, star anise, ginger and chilli flakes were added.

The lid goes on the pan and it simmers for 2 hours. The house smells fantastic, the meat is removed and the sauce reduced. The meat is put back in the sauce to warm through and then it is served over noodles and sprinkled with spring onions.

Looks fancy and tastes delicious with very little effort.


Published in: on May 17, 2015 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cottage pie with blue cheese mash

This was another Tom Kerridge recipe from the Best Ever Dishes book. I know what you’re thinking…cottage pie…too easy…mince in pan with some veg, mashed potato on top, and bake. Essentially, you’re not wrong but this took me 8 hours. That is not a typo…eight, 8 hours. And was it worth it? Well, actually, yes it was. If you have 2 Michelin stars and this is your best ever dish, it won’t be that easy.

I’ve been on a bit of a Tom Kerridge kick lately. I got this book for Christmas and a meal at his 2 Michelin star rated pub for my birthday. If you watch his shows, he talks about simple cooking with added love. That love is actually just time…a lot of time. But I hadn’t much else to do today anyway.

In essence, this recipe goes like this;

Brown stewing steak in a frying pan and then add to a casserole dish. Deglaze pan with ale and stock and add to casserole dish with a cinnamon stick and two star anise. Cover casserole and braise in oven for 3 hours. (Are you starting to understand the love). Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove beef with slotted spoon and put in fridge. Reserve cooking juice. (The cooking juice at this stage smelt so good, I almost drank it for lunch). 

Put casserole dish on hob and cook beef mince, then drain the mince in a colander. Cook onions, celery and carrots in the casserole, then add the drained mince and the reserved cooking juice, bring to the boil and simmer until thick (about another hour). Add Worcestershire sauce and season. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Stir in the beef chunks from the fridge and put the mixture into a pie dish. (At this stage I separated the recipe into 3 dishes as we had no need for a meal for 6). Put the pie dish(es) in the fridge for at least an hour. Make mashed potato (this was fancier than it sounds) and mix in some mustard. Put on top of the meat (Tom suggests piping it on but we’re still half-assed). Sprinkle over some blue cheese and paprika and cook in the oven for 25 minutes.

As you would expect, this was the best cottage pie I’ve ever had. Two of them have been frozen for future use.


Published in: on May 10, 2015 at 7:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Skate wings with crunchy chickpeas

The recipe for this is in Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes book and it spans two pages so I’m sorry I’m not typing it all. Future blogs may be shorter and advise on which recipe books you should buy or which website to look at.

The chickpeas are covered in cumin, chilli powder and cayenne, and roasted in the oven to make them crunchy. The chilli sauce is made. The skate is cooked. The skate is removed from the pan and butter and lemon juice is then added to the pan. Once it melts, the lemon butter is poured over the skate. 
The chickpeas then go back in the pan with some tomatoes, the chilli sauce and mint.

The skate is put on a plate and the sauce poured over. Spicy, delicious and not for a beginner cook but if you’ve a little experience, follow the steps in the book to the letter and you’ll produce an amazing meal. 


Published in: on May 9, 2015 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chicken, bacon and pistachio pie

Once again, 3 months have passed since our last blog. We have been cooking up a storm but not taken time to let you know and for that, we can only apologise. Sometimes life just gets busy and typing a recipe seems less important than consuming the finished product. I digress.

For Christmas, I asked for and received ‘Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes’ and this recipe is based on the one in the book with a few ‘half-assed’ adjustments.

The book says this is ‘very easy’. I wouldn’t go that far but if you follow the steps, you can’t go too far wrong. The results are well worth the effort and this is probably the best pie I have ever made myself. We made a few adjustments from the book recipe which are highlighted in the ingredients.

Vegetable oil, for cooking (we used olive oil)
250g smoked or unsmoked bacon
400g minced chicken, leg only if possible (we phoned our butcher so he could prepare this for us)
2 onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
200g button mushrooms (we have an allergy issue with button mushrooms so used fancy ones)
500ml chicken stock
1 tbsp brined green peppercorns (we couldn’t find any today so used 1 1/2 tbsp capers and a 1/2 tsp chilli flakes)
100g pistachios, roughly chopped (we used salted)
2 tbsp chopped oregano (couldn’t find fresh today so used 1tbsp dried)
1 x 250g packet of filo pastry
150g butter, melted
2 tbsp dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (we didn’t use a lot of salt due to the salted pistachios but make sure you taste test)

Heat a saucepan over medium heat and drizzle a little oil. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to brown. Add the minced chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until it’s golden brown.

Place a colander over a bowl and drain the meat, reserving the fat (I’m not saying our butcher is amazing (he is) but we didn’t have a lot of fat and had to add more.) pour the fat back into the pan and put over a medium low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Tip in the mushrooms and cooked meat. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens (10-15 minutes). Turn off the heat and add the peppercorns and most of the chopped pistachios (keep some for garnish). Add the fresh oregano and season (it is really important to taste at this stage). Leave aside to cool.

Take a sheet of filo and brush with butter (don’t be shy with the butter), sprinkle with some dried oregano and put another sheet on top. Brush with butter and sprinkle with oregano. Repeat until you have 6-7 layers. Work quickly so the filo doesn’t dry up. (The jus-roll pastry we bought had 6 layers which I cut in half so I stuck to the 6 layer rule).

Pre-heat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6, 400F. Grease a 20cm diameter cast iron dish or heavy, ovenproof frying pan with some of the melted butter and then press in the layered filo. Spoon in the chicken mixture, pushing it right into the edges. Bring the edges of the filo up over the top of the filling.

Take another sheet of filo, brush with butter and sprinkle with dried oregano. Push it down on top of the filling. Repeat with another 5 layers but place on top of each other with a few creases to add texture. Brush the top layer with butter and sprinkle on the remaining pistachios. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the top is golden and the middle is hot. Serve immediately.

(We served with a very simple salad)




Optional kitchen porn:
80 yr old cast iron skillet (thanks Liz’s grandma)

Published in: on January 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Indonesian Beggar’s Chicken Brick

Let’s be honest! You can never have too many variations on roast chicken in your repertoire. This recipe is another chicken brick dish from the book, ‘The Best of Clay Pot Cooking’. I’m sure it would work well as a normal roast too but adjust timings appropriately. Chicken bricks always start from a cold oven.

1 chicken
1 medium onion
2 tbsp fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 chilli (or 2), seeded if you like it less spicy
1 anchovy fillet (or 1 tbsp fish sauce)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Blend all the ingredients (except the chicken) to a paste. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Put the chicken on a plate and smear the inside with 1/3 of the paste. Smear the outside with the rest of the paste, cover loosely with cling film and leave in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Transfer to a soaked chicken brick and place in a cold oven. Turn on the oven to 230C, 450F, gas mark 8 and cook for 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove the chicken and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Pour the juices into a bowl. Just before serving, skim off any fat that has risen to the top, carve the chicken and pour over the remaining pan juices.

We served with roast potatoes and carrots, along with some broccoli which was steamed with chilli and seasoned with soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil.




Optional kitchen porn:
Chicken brick

Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Along with the molecular gastronomy experiment (see previous post), we needed to cook some actual food. We decided to use a recipe from Ottolenghi’s book, ‘Plenty’. While the book is all vegetarian recipes, we used the tempura batter for chicken, prawns, sweet potatoes, aubergine (eggplant), parsnip, carrots and broccoli.

80g cornflour
80g self-raising flour
210g sparkling water
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1/4 tsp salt
Nigella seeds and chilli flakes to taste

It couldn’t get any easier than this; add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to a smooth runny batter.

Put more cornflour on a plate and coat the veg, chicken, prawns (or whatever else you decide to cook) with cornflour before dipping in the batter and then into hot sunflower oil.

This is a light batter and as we don’t have a deep fat fryer, we use our wok to deep fry. I can’t emphasise enough that hot oil is dangerous and should not be left unattended at any time. It is burny to the touch and fingers should never be put into the oil to see if it has reached cooking temperature.

Please be careful and don’t be an idiot.

If you follow the instructions, you should end up with some delicious lightly battered food. We served ours with soy sauce foam but you don’t have to be that fancy (I’d recommend you aren’t). We also cooked some sushi rice which went very well.


Optional kitchen porn:
Deep fat fryer or wok

Published in: on August 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Molecular Gastronomy with Jody and Gary

I’m not quite sure where to go with this. We have cooked many things in many different ways. We have tried new things and as the blog says, ‘we’ll cook anything once’. We’ve cooked with Jody and Gary on a few occasions and we always have a good time. The drink and conversation flows freely and we work we’ll together in the kitchen. We will definitely cook with them again.

That said, I think I can honestly say that we won’t be rushing back to molecular gastronomy. My sister bought me a kit over a year ago and it has taken until now to open it. It came with all the required chemicals and pipettes, syringes and slotted spoon. A lovely idea and we were looking forward to the experience.

Usually we will give you the recipes we use so you can try them yourself but unless you have agar-agar, calcium lactate, sodium alginate and soy lecithin in your pantry, it would be completely pointless. If you do, please feel free to get in touch and I’ll happily send you the recipes. Instead, please see pictures of what we made and don’t concern yourself with the unending faffery that went into the end product.

Having said all that, it was great fun and not an experience we will forget. We started with some tomatoes stuffed with red wine vinegar pearls and goats cheese. These were delicious.


After a complete mojito bubble failure, we made spherical tzatziki. These were not a failure but were slimey and disgusting and ruined some great tzatziki which Jody had made.


We made tempura and served it with soy sauce foam (I’ll blog this next with the tempura recipe) and then finished off with some yoghurt served with fruit spaghetti. Again, this was delicious but it took us over 15 minutes to make 6 spaghetti strings.


Overall, an enjoyable time never to be repeated.

Non-optional kitchen porn:
Molecular gastronomy kit

Published in: on August 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Steve’s Chilli & Jack Daniels Marinated Steak

This is so easy, I’m almost embarrassed to post it. It does help that we have a local producer who makes amazing chilli jam but any chilli jam will probably do.

1kg slice rump steak (halved)
1 tbsp chilli jam
50-100ml Jack Daniels (or whatever you have…don’t be fussy)
Lots of fresh ground pepper

Put chilli jam and pepper in a freezer bag. Add alcoholic drink of choice. Mix well so chilli jam is no longer jam like and a smooth marinade is made. If it is still too thick, add more of your alcoholic beverage of choice and repeat. If it is too thin, add more alcoholic beverage of choice and repeat. It can’t be too thin and what harm can it do.

Add steak and mix well so meat is completely covered in marinade. Leave at room temperature for a few hours, turning the steaks at regular intervals. For best results, cook on a barbecue or grill (all meat tastes better cooked outside). Serve with whatever you like. We had asparagus.




Optional kitchen porn:

Published in: on June 14, 2014 at 7:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An Indian cooking lesson with Sheel

Today we spent the whole afternoon cooking an Indian meal with the beautiful, talented, Sheel Patel. I couldn’t possibly put the recipes up in full for two different reasons. One, the recipes include secret ingredients for garam masala which even Sheel doesn’t have access to (it was mixed in India and brought back by Sheel’s mum). Second, nothing is measured and everything is done by look and then taste. We made three different dishes, all of which included a home made adhu murju (combination of chilli, garlic and ginger). 20140531-203707-74227194.jpg Lamb kebabs were first. This was made with lamb mince, adhu murju, salt, cumin, coriander and a small onion (blitzed), garam masala, red chilli powder, an egg and turmeric. Mixed together, rolled into kebabs and cooked on the barbecue. Served with raita. 20140531-204424-74664401.jpg 20140531-204424-74664244.jpg We then made jeera chicken. Jeera is Indian for cumin. We used 8 chicken drumsticks (slashed) with 2 chicken breasts (in small cubes) which was marinaded for a few hours in a mixture of adhu murju, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cumin powder, salt, small onion, rapeseed oil and lemon juice added at the end. After marinating, this was cooked in a wok over a fairly low heat, moving it continuously until the chicken was cooked. Served over rice cooked with a small bit of butter and cumin seeds. 20140531-205133-75093029.jpg 20140531-205133-75093191.jpg 20140531-205133-75093352.jpg The last dish was dahl. This is Indian lentils (which according to Sheel are actually mung beans), onion, tomato, adhu murju, curry leaves, cumin seeds and turmeric. The lentils were cooked in a lot of water with a sprinkling of turmeric for about 40-45 minutes until they split. Then, in a separate pan, the onions were fried, then the adhu murju, curry leaves, tomatoes and cumin seeds were added and cooked for a couple of minutes. This mix was then stirred into the cooked lentil and water mix. Served in a bowl (like a thick soup) as a side dish. 20140531-210324-75804583.jpg Optional kitchen porn: Sheel bought us a spice tin (dabbau) which is very cool. 20140531-210441-75881279.jpg

Published in: on May 31, 2014 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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