Half-assed brisket

This is my favourite type of cooking. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good recipe and I love looking through our many, many recipe books to decide what we’re going to cook. Sometimes though, you’ve just got to make it up and go with it. Unfortunately (for me) that means I have to type out the ingredients, which I haven’t done recently, as it takes so long, but for you, our loyal blog followers, nothing is too much trouble.

So, brisket. Not something I knew too much about 8 years ago, but something which I now love. It does need a long time to cook and I think we may have blogged a slow cooker recipe a long time ago. It is, however, cheap. I used a 2kg ‘bone in’ brisket for this, which cost less than £8 and serves 4 people. 

If you aren’t confident in the kitchen, a roast dinner is a very good place to start. I grew up learning hints and tips from my mum (she has no idea and/or will never admit how much she taught me). A brisket joint was not one that she cooked. However, Liz’s Jewish grandmother was no stranger to it. Hence my introduction to a nice brisket. 

Once you can cook a simple roast, which is really all about timing, you can start to experiment. My inspirations in the kitchen have always been my mum and her mum (my gran) and I always wonder what I would have grown up eating if they had access to all the fantastic ingredients we take for granted today. This recipe reverts back to the very basics I grew up with ( and a few we take for granted, like chilli and garlic) and I hope you enjoy it.

2kg bone in brisket joint

5 red onions

6 shallots

2 green chillis

5 cloves of garlic

Bottle red wine

500ml bottle coke (full fat, leaded)

Couple sprigs thyme

Coupe sprigs Rosemary

Salt and pepper

Olive oil for browning

The idea was for a sweet sticky gravy to accompany a slow cooked, falling off the bone, beef joint. 

Preheat oven to 120C, 230F, gas mark ‘as low as you can get’.

Cut the onions and shallots into chunky slices. Cut the chillis by halving them lengthwise and then into large bits. (We kept the seeds in but you do what you like). Crush and roughly chop the garlic. Put all the above with the sprigs of thyme and rosemary into a large roasting tin and mix with your hands. 
Push the onions, etc, into a pile and then pour the coke and wine around the outside. Brown the joint by using a large pan with a little oil at as high a temperature as you can. This step is not essential but does help make the gravy browner. 

Place the joint on the pile of onions. Cover the roasting tin with foil and cook for 7-8 hours. Don’t check it. Don’t even look at it. It will be fine. The photo below was taken after 8 hours cooking. 

Remove the meat from the oven and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes. Pour the contents of the roasting tin through a sieve into a saucepan. Whisk in a dessert spoon of flour and continue to whisk over the heat to make the gravy. Season the gravy as desired. Remember you haven’t added an salt yet.  Serve with roast potatoes and peas. 

We used all the fat, the onions from the pan, any left over gravy, and the bones, to make beef stock for another dish. 

Published in: on May 1, 2016 at 8:44 pm  Comments (1)  
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Mexican feast with Tony and Eddie

Some days things go perfectly to plan. Other days…well…!  Let me clarify. The food today has been amazing but we ended with one of those absolute disasters, which if you cook, and try new things, you will hopefully be familiar with. Keep reading and all will be explained.

We started with fish tacos. I should have known that things were not going to go smoothly when I forgot to take any photos. Sorry! You’re going to have to take my word for it that marinaded cod, cooked and flaked, with vinegar soaked onions and a fresh salsa, wrapped in a tortilla, with a bit of sour cream, is delicious. And this was just the starter. The recipe was from epicurious.com.

The main course was a Christmas meatloaf. Meat wrapped around eggs. This recipe is called ‘pastel de carne navideno’ and was found on hispanickitchen.com. We left out the olives but it was delicious and we served it with a winter salad from the Wahaca cookbook. This part of the meal was a complete success.

And then we came to dessert.  We made churros…or we tried to. The recipe was to make 20 churros. We thought that was way too many so we halved the recipe. I’m not sure what quite went wrong but the mixture wasn’t thick enough. And then the oil wasn’t quite hot enough. And therefore the result did not look quite right. The chocolate sauce was fantastic. If you want to try this recipe from bbcgoodfood.com I’m sure you will have more success than we did. The result tasted good but you can judge the presentation for yourself. There is a reason we’re half-assed.

We had an amazing day cooking with great friends and that is much more important than sad looking churros. You need to google a picture of churros to see just how bad these are.


Published in: on March 12, 2016 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Coming next week

As usual, we go through phases of blogging and not blogging. We continue to cook new dishes between the blogs but life gets in the way of spending time writing about it.

However, next weekend, we have promised very good friends of ours that we will blog a meal we cook with them. We have shared very many amazing meals together over the past 8 years, some home cooked, and some in restaurants. On Saturday, 11th March, we will be cooking a Mexican feast together and blogging the results.

I warn you now, as we usually enjoy the odd beer or glass of wine as we cook, the blog posts may be less coherent than some but we will try our best.

Stay tuned!!!

Published in: on March 5, 2016 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Root vegetable pie

As Spring approaches and the weather reverts back to November temperatures, we get sunshine, hail, rain and sleet in one day. What better to cook on a cold miserable day than a great vegetable pie? ‘Well’, I hear you cry, ‘you could cook a meat pie’. You are right, of course. I would always be an advocate of meat over vegetarian but tomorrow, I’m making Tom Kerridge’s pork meatballs with gravy, so today, we have vegetable pie.

The recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty More’ book. It involves frying off caraway seeds with mustard seeds and curry powder before adding onions, garlic, carrots, parsnip and butternut squash at carefully measured stages, with stock added to ensure the vegetables cooked. We made pastry. We put pastry in a muffin tin, filled the pastry and then put a little pastry lid on and cooked it for about 30-35 minutes. 

As the pastry called for sour cream (don’t ask questions), we used the left over for garnish. I think the only thing that would have made this better was a small amount of chicken.


Published in: on March 5, 2016 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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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