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LATEST RECIPES

Autumn Salad of Chicory, Apple, Celery, Walnuts & Bread

This Autumn Salad of chicory, apple, celery, walnuts & sourdough contains everything I like to see in a salad for this time of year –  Strong earthy and fruitful flavours with warming chunks of toasted sourdough bread and salty stilton. A sharp apple twang and acidity from the cider vinegar balances the bitter and peppery leaves making a comforting, flavoursome and well-rounded dish.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 1 apple – sliced
  • 1 head of chicory
  • 1 stick celery – sliced
  • Peppery salad leaves – rocket, mustard etc
  • 1 thick slice of stale sourdough bread – torn into chunks
  • Walnut pieces
  • 1tbsp of raisins
  • 100g Stilton broken into chunks.

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon clear honey
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • A splash of cider vinegar
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • Salt & black pepper.

Preheat your oven to 200c. Place the torn bread pieces onto a tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes and then add a handful of walnuts to the tray and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter half the stilton over the warm bread to allow it to melt a little.

Make the dressing – add all the dressing ingredients together in a jar or storage container – anything that can contain liquid with a lid will do. Shake for 10 seconds to form a smooth, glossy dressing. Check the seasoning – adjust as required.

If you want to, you can soak the raisins in boiling water for 10 minutes before serving to allow them to plump up.

Build the salad – arrange the chicory and celery in a bowl. Sprinkle over the raisins and remaining stilton. Now add the sliced apple and salad leaves and finish with the bread and walnuts.

Drizzle over the dressing.

I love salads like this – a mixture of flavours, a contrast of textures. All there. All good.

 

Beef Biryani

This beef biryani is an incredible mix of rich curry flavours and sweet, aromatic rice.

Ingredients for the Beef Biryani

  • 400g basmati rice
  • 500g cubed stewing beef
  • 8 Green cardamom pods
  • 3 black cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp coriander seed
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 3 tsp rose water
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Dried rose petals
  • Pistachio nuts, slightly crushed

For this Beef Biryani you will need – a large, heavy-based pan with a lid that can be used in the oven.

Method

Heat the oil and ghee in the pan and brown the beef in batches – keeping the browned beef to the side. Add all the whole spices to the oil and allow their flavours to release into the hot oil.

Add the onion, garlic and ginger and sweat down for a few minutes with the spices. Return the meat to the pan and mix well. Add the turmeric, chilli flakes and then the tomatoes. Season a little at this point, cover the pan and slowly simmer for an hour or until the meat is just starting to break apart – it’s really important the meat isn’t still tough to bite through.

While the meat is cooking, rinse the rice well and allow to soak in salted water for 30 minutes. Rinse the rice again until the water starts to run reasonably clear. The rices goes in a pan of water that covers the rice by 2cm. Add salt and slowly bring to a simmer. Do not stir the rice. As soon as the water has nearly evaporated and small holes appear in the surface of the rice, take off the heat and cover.

Heat your oven to 180c.

Pour 1/2 a cup of boiling water over the saffron and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Check the beef – if the sauce is a little to watery, cook for 1o minutes or so uncovered. Check the flavour of the beef and sauce and adjust seasoning. Add a little more chilli flake if you need more heat.

Carefully spoon the rice over the meat in the pan.

Heat half a tablespoon of ghee in a small pan and pour over the rice so some of the rice takes on a rich, golden colour.

Sprinkle the saffron water and rose water over the water.

Use a sheet of foil to create a tight seal between the pan and the lid.

Cook in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or so.

Remove the lid and allow steam to escape – you’ll know the rice is good as the grains should be standing to attention. Add a squeeze of lemon, the rose petals and the pistachio nuts.

The Beef Biryani is ready to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Paneer

Paneer really is as simple as a recipe can be but it can be used as the base for so many brilliant and vegetarian-friendly recipes.

Ingredients

  • 3 litres whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice.

Method

Bring the milk to a boil in a large pan – staring all the time and scraping the sides to prevent burning the milk. When the milk reaches a boil, lower the heat and add the lemon. Continue stirring until the milk has curdled.

Line a colander with muslin and strain the curds from the whey.

Pull the edges of the muslin together to form a bag and rinse under cold water.

The bag goes into a colander. Place a plate with a weight (a jug of water) on top to flatten the cheese.

Leave to drain for 2 hours.

Once set, move to a fridge or use immediately.

Simple as that.

Potato & Dill

This is the ultimate Indian potato-based dish. The distinctive taste of dill adds a fragrant sweetness to the earthy turmeric-coated potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 medium potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 bunches of dill, stalks removed
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a pinch of black mustard seeds
  • 2 green chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • salt.

Method

Boil the potatoes in salted water just until the edges begin to scuff and break down but the potato is still firm. Drain and allow to dry for a few minutes.

Add oil to a hot pan and fry garlic, chilli, mustard seed and asafoetida for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric and then the potatoes – tossing in the spiced oil. Finely chop the dill and add to the potatoes making sure to coat the potatoes. Cover and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes allowing the dill to wilt.

Season well and serve.

Piedmontese peppers

Simple but utterly delicious. Served with a decent crusty bread, Piedmontese peppers are an incredibly easy way to turn some fairly basic ingredients into something wonderful.

Some versions of this recipe add the anchovy before the peppers go into the oven but I prefer them added to the peppers after you remove them from the oven – you get a nice hit of salty anchovy that way – still with a little substance.

Make sure you use a decent olive oil – nothing too acrid or overly peppery.

You’ll need the following

  • 1 or 2 red peppers per person
  • 1 medium tomato per pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Plenty of decent olive oil
  • 2 anchovies per pepper
  • Basil
  • Sea salt & black pepper.

Preheat your oven to 180c.

Slice each pepper lengthways making sure the stem is sliced in half. Cut out the base of the stem, the seeds and any white membrane from the inside of the pepper. Season the inside of each half with a little salt and pepper.

Blanch the tomatoes for 30-60 seconds in boiling water, drain and remove the skins. Slice each tomato in half.

Finely slice the garlic into thin slices.

Add 2 halves of tomato to each pepper and dot the garlic slices in between them. Pour enough olive oil into each pepper to half fill them.

Cook in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and immediately add 2 anchovies on the top of each pepper.

Allow to cool to room temperature.

Serve with a decent crusty bread and maybe with basil on top. Make sure you spoon the oil from the bottom of the roasting pan over the peppers when served.

Sea Bass & Orange Fennel With A Soy, Mirin & Citrus Sauce

Fish with fennel – I can’t get enough of it this week for some reason.

You’ve really got to give this a go. The sea bass is meaty enough to stand up to a fairly punchy soy and mirin sauce. The fennel and orange softens in flavour enough not to overpower the rest of the dish. It’s subtle enough to be refreshing but has a nice twang that is most pleasing. The sauce is kind of like a Ponzu sauce but  I made use of the stock created from cooking the fennel instead of dashi.

I’ll give the measurements per person for the fish so you can multiply out.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 1 sea bass fillet per person
  • 1 bulb of fennel per person – this is florence fennel, you will find it in the supermarket
  • 1 orange per person
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar per person

For the sauce (this will make enough for 2 – 3 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon mirrin
  • Half tablespoon soy sauce
  • A squeeze of lime
  • A splash of the fennel/orange stock (details below).

Slice the fennel as thin as you can – either with a very sharp knife (careful) or with a mandoline (careful). Squeeze the juice from the orange(s) over the fennel and sprinkle over the sugar. Bake, covered with foil, in a tray, in a hot oven (200c) for 20 minutes.

The sea bass, fennel & orange combination is a classic but some recipes call for the fish to be cooked stright away with the fennel but I don’t think you need to cook the fish that long and the fennel benefits from 30 minutes or so in the oven.

So – after 20 minutes, add the sea bass to the fennel in the tray – spoon over some of the cooking liquid.

Before you put the tray back in the oven, reserve a tablespoon or so of the fennel/orange cooking liquid. This will be used in the sauce.

The fish should cook in about 10 to 15 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, pour the reserved liquid into a pan and add the other sauce ingredients. Over a low heat reduce the sauce – don’t allow it to boil though.

Take the fish out of the oven and allow to rest on a warm plate.

Take the fennel and place in the centre of a warmed dish. Spoon over a little of the cooking liquid and add some of the feathery leaves from the fennel bulb if you have some. Place the fish on top and spoon over a little of the soy/mirrin sauce. Spoon some more of the sauce around the fennel and add some more sprigs of fennel leaf.

Sea bass is brilliant if you’re cooking for people who don’t eat that much fish – it’s surprisingly meaty. It’s also strong enough in texture and flavour to stand up to stronger flavours.

This dish is reasonably flexible in terms of cooking for numbers – you could easily cook this on a larger scale in a large pan with loads of fennel, covered with sea bass – all served on a large serving plate with the sauce drizzled over.

This is a really pleasing dish to cook.

Chilli Sauce

This is a great chilli sauce to have prepared a day or 2 before you host a BBQ. You can make it as hot as you like. It’s great smeared on meat and acts as a brilliant mopping up sauce/dip for pretty much anything you cook.

The ingredients

  • 6 or 7 red bell-peppers
  • 3 or 4 red chilies – even more if you want hotter
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Sea-salt to taste.

Heat your oven to 180c.

Put the bell peppers and the chilies on a roasting tray and roast until they start to blacken – 30 to 40 minutes – keep an eye on them and turn them occasionally.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Remove the green stems – they should just pull out. Pour off any liquid that has been released during cooling.

Roughly chop the bell peppers and the chilies – you want to include the blackened skins and seeds.

Place the the chopped peppers into a pan with the maple syrup, cider vinegar and crushed garlic.

Simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes or so.

Blitz with a handheld food processor until you have a smooth-ish sauce. Season to taste with the sea-salt and adjust if you need additional maple syrup or vinegar.

And you’re done. It may seem pretty pokey when you first try it but if you use it smeared on meat, the heat does tend to mellow slightly (you might want to increase the number of chilies). This sauce works perfectly for hot-wings. Just smear your chicken wings with the sauce and cook in a hot oven until the sauce just starts to blacken slightly.

If you are cooking hot-wings, you can also try brining the wings for a couple of hours before you coat them in sauce and cook them. Use the same brine recipe I used in my salt beef.

My advice here is – cook about twenty times the amount of hot wings you think you’ll need to feed your guests.

They will all go.

wings

Kimchi

There are many different varieties of kimchi – Korea’s national dish. Recipes vary from region to region and preparation methods differ from family to family – so much so that you’re never going to really find one, true, authentic Kimchi recipe. Keeping that in mind I think the best you can do is make the stuff to suit your tastes. The ingredients you can actually get hold of will also dictate the direction your kimchi takes. That said, you’re going to need Korean red pepper powder (Gochugaru) at the very least so do your best to hunt some down. You can buy it online from Sous Chef, along with the anchovy sauce I use in my recipe.

The recipe I followed is taken heavily from the Momofuku kimchi recipe but I replace some ingredients with those that I was able to source.

My last batch is about a week old now and is really starting to hum. It’s incredible stuff – hot but nothing that’s going to leave you gasping for air. It’s more the fizz you get from the fermentation alongside the pungent, sweet garlic background and salty fish sauce. And – it’s versatile. You can eat it on its own, use it as an ingredient in other dishes or, as recommended by Hawksmoor, use it as an amazing relish for burgers.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 1 Chinese cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons sugar + another 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 whole bulbs of garlic, broken into cloves
  • 1 large piece of ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of Korean red pepper powder (Gochugaru)
  • 2 tablespoons of anchovy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 handful of sliced spring onion
  • 1 handful of shredded carrot.

Day 1

Cut the cabbage lengthways and then into 1 inch cross-sections. Place in a bowl and cover with 2 tablespoons of sugar and the salt – making sure all the pieces are coated. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

Day 2

Rinse the cabbage in cold, running water and allow to drain for a few minutes.

The  gochugaru, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, anchovy sauce, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar go into a bowl. Whizz them up with a hand-held mixer until you make a coarse paste – you will probably need to add a dash of water just to get things moving.

Add the drained cabbage, spring onion and carrot to the paste and coat well.

Store in sealed jars – pressing the mixture down to try to remove any air bubbles.

Leave it for a week at least – just to get things really moving.

When you’ve made it once and given it a good try, you’ll always want to have some handy. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

Farro, Roast Squash, Chicory, Pomegranate & Goat Cheese

You might not find farro in your local supermarket but it’s worth hunting down if you can. I bought mine from Sous Chef – a site worth bookmarking. They stock  a wide variety of ingredients and equipment that aren’t always that easy to source and delivery was quick (and free for larger orders) so I’m sure I’ll be using them again.

Farro is nutty in flavour and chewy in texture so it stands up to some fairly bold flavours. It lends itself to roast veg and then contrasts nicely with sweeter, fruity flavours and a tangy, creamy cheese.

This is one of those recipes you can immediately adapt to your own preferences so no need to follow to the letter.

What you’ll need to feed 4 people:

  • 250g farro
  • Half a large butternut squash – peeled and cubed
  • Half a red onion – sliced
  • A couple of sprigs of thyme
  • 1 head of chicory
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 1 small block goat cheese
  • A handful of hazelnuts
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • A squeeze of lemon.

Get your oven on – up to 200c.

Soak the farro in cold water for 20 minutes. While the farro is soaking, roast the squash and onion, along with some thyme and oil, in the oven until cooked and starting to colour slightly.

Rinse the faro, cover with clean, cold water and bring to a rolling boil. It will take 15 – 20 minutes to cook. You’re looking for a little bite in the grain but not completely underdone – it should have a nice springy texture to it.

The chicory can go onto a very hot griddle for a few minutes – just to scorch the surface slightly.

Drain the farro well and mix in a bowl with the roast veg – add some seasoning and a decent splash of olive oil.

Arrange the mixture on a serving plate with the pomegranate seed, goat cheese and chicory. Add a handful of hazelnuts and maybe another drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon (don’t overdo it on the lemon though).

This is a really nice mixture of textures and flavours – one of those dishes that makes perfect sense when you get stuck into it.

 

 

Tomato Sauce – Back To Basics

If you’ve spent any time cooking you’ll probably have made a tomato sauce at some point – it’s one of the most basic sauces you can make. There are however a couple of considerations that make the difference between an average sauce and something really special.

Leave the onions out of it

You may well disagree with me on this one. To be fair, there’s many an established Italian cook who would rely on onions as the cornerstone of a good tomato sauce but it’s just not for me. I want my tomato sauce to be all about the tomatoes with a lightness and freshness that onions can detract from. That acidity you’re trying to balance with the sweetness of slow-cooked onions can be balanced just as well with a little sugar and, more importantly, good quality tomatoes.

The Tomatoes

For this sauce I use tinned tomatoes – they add a wonderful silkiness to the sauce. Get the best you can – you’re looking for flavour – sweetness and acidity balanced well. I use San Marzano canned tomatoes – they have a natural sweetness that means I only need a pinch of sugar to round the sauce off and not use onions. I buy mine in bulk to save money and time from these guys. Any good quality plum tomato will do the job though if you’re unable to source this particular variety.

Garlic + Chilli

I don’t like to overpower my sauce with garlic and might even leave it out but, if I do fancy a garlicy hit, I’ll add a small amount into the tomato as it cooks. I’d avoid frying the garlic first as you’re only going to add a bitterness to the sauce which is never a good thing.

If you fancy a back-note of heat to your sauce then a twist of chilli flake is the way to go.

Olive Oil

Get a good quality extra-virgin olive oil to finish the sauce off. Something with a decent peppery twang. I don’t like to add too much ground pepper to my sauce – the olive oil should do the work here.

The recipe

This should make sauce to coat enough pasta for 4 people.

  • 2 cans good quality plum tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (optional) finely chopped
  • Chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Fresh basil – sliced into a thin chiffonade
  • Good quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Add the tomatoes to a heavy bottomed pan – I use the Saucier Pan from Falk Culinair – it cooks completely evenly and the rounded sides means there are no corners for the sauce to get stuck in. Put the pan over a low heat and bring to a very low simmer – barely bubbling away.

If you’re adding garlic or chilli, add it now.

Add the sugar.

Don’t break the tomatoes up yet – they’ll gradually break up during the cooking process.

Leave to simmer for at least 1 hour. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Remove from the heat and add the basil and a twist of salt. Then add a generous splash of olive oil.

Check the seasoning and you’re done.

Ready to coat your pasta/pizza or it can be stored in a jar for an easy meal in the middle of the week.

 

 

 

Perfect Plan-Ahead Christmas Sous Vide Roast Potatoes

Forget the goose vs turkey debate, it’s the roast potato that is the real star of a Christmas Dinner. Get your spuds wrong and it just isn’t a proper festive feast.

The secret

Plan ahead, cook ahead and then freeze. If you can avoid making roast potatoes on the big day with a perfectly made batch ready to go, you leave nothing to chance and guarantee you’ll have perfect roast potatoes served on time. Freezing your potatoes allows you to finish the cooking process on the big day knowing they’re already perfectly cooked.

If you do have a water bath and vacuum sealer, this process will be made even more foolproof. If you don’t, par-boiling your potatoes will still give you brilliant results.

 

The potato & the oil

You need a floury potato – a King Edward or Maris Piper is perfect. The oil is really a matter of taste. I’m a fan of olive oil for roast potatoes and then maybe goose fat at Christmas or beef dripping if you’re having a rib of beef instead of a bird. For this recipe I’m going to use olive oil and nothing else – the lightness and peppery flavour works well with all the fat of a Christmas dinner.

You will need

  • Potatoes – Calculate how many potatoes you’ll need to feed your guests then double that amount. They will all go.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar (the sugar helps bring out more of the potato flavour).
  • Thyme
  • Water

 

The process

  1. Mix 500ml of water with 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes into evenly sized pieces.
  3. Place potatoes in a vacuum bag, add enough of the salt/sugar solution to cover and add a few sprigs of thyme.Perfect Roast Potatoes
  4. Cook at 90c in a water bath for 1 hour (or boil in water until tender).
  5. Drain and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  6. Scuff the surface of the potatoes by running a fork across them.
  7. Place in a pan with 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot oil on the hob for 5 minutes. Don’t use too much oil as you’ll use more later on and don’t crowd the pan with too many potatoes – you can work in batches for larger numbers.
  8. Turn once, coating in hot oil and place in an oven at 200c for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and freeze. Try to make sure none of the potatoes are touching when you freeze them. Once frozen, they can then be placed in freezer bags – they shouldn’t stick together after they’ve been frozen. They will keep in a freezer for up to a month although best if frozen 1 week before Christmas.
  10. On Christmas day when you’ve removed your meat from the oven for resting, turn your oven to 200c. Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the frozen potatoes and roast for 20 minutes turning once.
  11. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sea-salt flakes.

This method guarantees perfect roast potatoes every time and requires minimal effort on Christmas day.

Enjoy.

 

A Source for Quality Italian Ingredients – Italiaregina.it

I love finding new food suppliers – especially Italian. Quality ingredients are always important but with Italian food it is the quality of the ingredient that makes the dish – buy good ingredients and keep the dish simple.

I’ve been tasting olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Italiaregina.it – an Italian food and  ingredients supplier. There were 3 flavours to test – their Extra Virgin Olive Oil, their Chili Pepper Oil and their Balsamic Vinegar.

I’m quite particular about extra virgin olive oil – there’s a huge variation in quality and a bad oil can ruin a dish. Extra virgin olive oil is generally going to be used uncooked – if you need oil to cook with use a normal olive oil and save the extra-virgin for tasting and finishing dishes off. However – some extra virgin olive oils can be very strong – almost acrid and can completely overpower a dish, especially something like a salad.

The extra virgin olive oil from Italiaregina.it is produced by Casa Rinaldi, a company formed in 1979 originally producing balsamic vinegar of Modena. After producing award-winning vinegars, the company now makes other ingredients including extra virgin olive oil.

The oil I sampled was pleasingly well balanced – Quite mellow but still had enough peppery twang to add a complexity without being overpowering. This really is an oil you could use in dressings, for dipping and for finishing off dishes to add a silky, slightly sweet but peppery finish. A perfect example of letting the ingredient speak for itself.

There was also a chili pepper oil – their extra virgin olive oil with a whole chili submerged in the oil. This chill oil wasn’t overly hot or spicy which was a relief because it means you can be generous with your portions without making your food too hot to eat. The obvious use for this would be drizzled over pizza but I think this would really come into its own with something like a ribollita adding a silky finish with a nice little hit of chilli.

And finally – the balsamic vinegar. This is quite a sweet balsamic vinegar but not artificially sweet like many of the shop-bought vinegars. Again, like the oil, there was a mellowness that made the ingredient incredibly versatile but really this balsamic vinegar suits being used on its own or mixed with the oil to make the perfect dipping ingredient for freshly made Italian breads.

I can’t fault these ingredients and will be interested to see what else their website can offer – http://Italiaregina.it

Beef Short Rib Beer Chili

The trick with this Beef Short Rib Beer Chili is to roast the short rib and make the sauce separately. Roasting the short rib allows you to control the amount of fat you use and avoids having to skim fat from the dish as you cook. It also allows greater control over the doneness of the meat and the flavour and consistency of the sauce.

Beef short rib is the ultimate meat for chili  – cheap to buy and spectacularly tasty after a long, slow cook. Make this dish a day in advance and reheat if you can. It allows the flavours to really mix and mature.

Ingredients for 4 – 6 people

  • 1.5kg beef short rib
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil.

For the sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bottle of porter
  • 1 pint beef stock
  • 3 dried ancho chiles – soaked in just-boiled water for 10 minutes, stems removed and then sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle paste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee (leftover cafetiere coffee is ideal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 2 cans of black beans (or use dried beans following the pack instructions to cook)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper.

To finish

  • Garlic chives
  • Golden marjoram
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges

Preheat your oven to 220c.

Place the short ribs in a pan, drizzle with oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes to brown the meat. Cover with tinfoil tightly sealed around the pan, reduce the oven temperature to 140c and cook for 6 hours. Alternatively, cook at 100c overnight.

The meat is ready when the bones easily slide out when pulled. If the meat still feels firm, cook for another hour or so.

Make the sauce

Fry the onion and garlic gently for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it making sure it doesn’t brown too much. Add the bottle of porter, bring to a simmer and allow to reduce for 10 minutes.

Add the beef stock, bring to a simmer and then add the remainder of the sauce ingredients apart from the black beans, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.

Allow to very gently simmer uncovered for 1 hour then add the cumin and paprika and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Using a hand blender, blitz the sauce to a smooth consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.

At this point you need to taste the sauce. If it needs sweetening (slightly) add some more maple syrup. If it needs more of a twang, add some more vinegar.

Finishing

When the beef is done, remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly. Cut away any remaining fat or connective tissue. Cut the beef into 1 inch chunks and add to the sauce along with the black beans.

Cook the beef in the sauce for a further 30 minutes. As the meat cooks, check that it breaks apart easily but hasn’t disintegrated. During this process the meat should be cooked enough to allow the sauce to penetrate the meat.

Serve in warmed bowls with the marjoram and a dollop of sour cream with garlic chives on top. A squeeze of lime finishes it off perfectly.

Goes well with a cornbread muffin on the side.

 

 

 

Tefal Secure 5 Neo – 6 Litre Pressure Cooker

A pressure cooker is an essential piece of kit – not just for your gadget-loving home-cook but for anyone looking to save time and money in the kitchen while producing great meals. Multiple safety features and modern build quality mean the days of worrying about exploding pressure cookers are long gone (whether this actually ever happened I couldn’t say but it’s certainly a fear we can leave in the last century).

The principle is simple – by cooking your food in a sealed environment, steam builds up – increasing pressure inside the pot which, in turn, increases the boiling point of water meaning you can cook at a higher temperature. This reduces cooking time dramatically but also helps force liquid into your food meaning tougher ingredients e.g. meat becomes tender more quickly.

The Tefal Secure 5 Neo is a neatly built, well proportioned 6 litre pressure cooker. It is built with 5 safety features (hence the name) and is constructed from solid stainless steel. The handle and locking mechanism snap into place reassuringly meaning there’s no guesswork as to whether the lid is lined up/sealed properly. There’s also a red safety pin that indicates the lid is sealed.

Tefal secure 5 Neo

The locking latch and valve system are nice and chunky and finished in a slick lime-green – setting off a very smart piece of kitchen equipment.

Tefal Secure 5 Neo

Read any pressure cooker cookbook and you’ll quickly learn that pressure cooking is carried out at 2 different levels of pressure. Low pressure for more delicate ingredients – vegetables, fish etc and then a higher pressure for tougher ingredients. I’ve used other pressure cookers before and I’ve always had to watch a pressure gauge to make sure the correct pressure was maintained while cooking. The Tefal cooker comes with a switch for those 2 levels of pressure –  meaning, again, less guesswork when cooking your food.

You also get a steaming basket which raises ingredients away from the base of the pan – this is useful for more delicate ingredients that you don’t want in contact with the base of the pan.

Tefal Secure 5 Neo

 

Overall I’m really impressed with the build-quality, ease of use and design of the Tefal Pressure cooker. I’m a big fan of good-looking kitchen equipment – obviously quality and how well it actually cooks food are important but it’s the little finishing touches that I think can make the difference. For me, this pressure cooker ticks all the boxes. It leaves nothing to chance – the design is simple and using it is straight forward.

If you haven’t tried using a pressure cooker before, I really recommend you give it a go. You could, for example, cook a chilli con carne or a Bolognese sauce in around 10-15 minutes. And by cook, I mean properly cook – those meals require a long, slow cook in a conventional pan but a pressure cooker reduces that time massively but you still achieve ultimately tasty food. The pressure cooker seems to pull flavour out and enhance everything you put in it.

If you’re into cooking stocks I’d say a pressure cooker is an essential thing – imagine being able to cook beef bones, veg etc. and within half an hour or so you have a proper stock which hasn’t lost any of the flavours of your stock ingredients.

It’s also worth pointing out the efficiency of a pressure cooker and the money you will save over time. Very little heat loss means you don’t need to use so much fuel and you don’t need to cook for so long either. When you cook in the summer you’ll also find that your kitchen doesn’t become unbearably hot from your stove bubbling away.

I’ll be posting a few recipes using the Tefal Secure 5 Neo over the next few weeks demonstrating just how versatile these things are. And – keeping versatility in mind – if you go camping you’ll find a pressure cooker on a camping stove allows you to cook incredible meals while you’re out in the open in very little time. That, for me, is reason enough to own one.

Keep an eye out for upcoming pressure cooker recipes.

 

Caldeirada

A beautiful Portuguese fish stew, Caldeirada is made using whatever fish you have to hand. Some recipes call for a 50/50 mix of oily and white fish but I think the beauty of this dish is that it allows you to use whatever fish you have available. In this recipe I use monkfish and prawns but you could also try clams, squid, swordfish, cod, hake… Whatever suits your tastes.

Green peppers are slightly more authentic in this recipe but I prefer the sweetness and more mature flavour of a developed red pepper.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large onion – halved and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into cross-sections 1cm thick
  • 6 large plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 large glass of white wine
  • fish stock (just buy fish stock gels and dilute in hot water)
  • Fish of your choice – I use 500g monkfish tail (membrane removed) and a handful of raw, kingsize prawns
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Flat-leaf parsley.

Slowly sweat the onions, garlic, bay leaf and the peppers off in a thick bottomed pan in a decent glug of olive oil. This should take about 10 minutes. Add a layer of potatoes and then a layer of the sliced tomatoes. Repeat if you have any potatoes or tomatoes left. Add the wine, tomato puree, saffron, paprika and allow to cook down for a minute or two. Now add enough fish stock to cover the potatoes. Add a twist of salt and pepper to help it on its way, cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Prepare your fish – slice into 3 cm thick chunks. Season with salt and pepper and place on top of the stew. Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. If you’re cooking prawns they won’t take as long so add them with a few minutes of cooking time left.

Finish with chopped parsley, a final glug of olive oil on top and check the seasoning – adjust if necessary.

Serve with warm crusty bread.

 

12 Hour Brisket

This 12 Hour, Slow-Cooked Beef Brisket is the perfect way to turn a tough cut of meat into something that just melts in the mouth. It requires cooking for a long time – more to the point it will take cooking for a long time – you don’t need to be too delicate with a decent piece of brisket.

Any good butcher will sell brisket and the larger the piece you can get, the better – it gives you more room for manoeuvre when cooking. Most recipes, including mine, will use a rub or a marinade or both to help it on its way but remember – this cut of beef tastes like beef should taste – you’re complimenting the flavour of the meat, not trying to inject flavour into a flavourless cut.

My approach was to cook the meat covered for most of the cooking in a basting stock and then reduce towards the end. The stock you can fine tune to your liking – I wanted something with both sweet and salty flavours with a touch of smokey spiciness but you could go more oriental or texan etc..

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 1 piece of brisket – as big as you can get. Mine was 3.5kg – this is excessive and you don’t it that big but it does feed plenty of people and make the cooking easier

For the basting stock:

  • 300ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (brisket has a strong beef taste so no need to go with a beef stock, in my opinion)
  • To taste – Dark soy sauce (or light soy sauce if you prefer – I don’t use any salt in this so the soy will be replacing the salt)
  • To taste – Worcestershire sauce
  • Half tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Large onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of runny honey
  • 2 teaspoons demerara sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 taspoon dried oregano (oregano is the only herb I’d really go for dried – the dried version has an intensified flavour which you need here)
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon smokey paprika

You need approximately 12 hours to cook a piece of meat this size. I have the advantage of having 2 young children who, on a Sunday, will wake up before 6 in the morning meaning I’m wide awake and raring to go first thing…

To make the stock, fry the onion and garlic over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add to a bowl with the other stock ingredients.

Give it a good mix and taste it. Now you need to fine-tune to your taste – the stock should be a fully rounded taste, deep and sweet with a decent twang – maybe add a squeeze of lime.

Once you’re happy with the stock, move onto the meat.

You need to brown the meat in the pan you’re going to cook it in. The piece I had was rather large and presented certain logistical problems when searing the sides. I decided to leave the joint rolled for the first part of cooking to make it easier to handle – the meat will shrink slightly in cooking so I can untie it later.

Once the meat is browned all over, add the stock and cover the pan with silver foil. Keep the foil as tight and neat as you can. For most of the cooking, this foil will be covering the meat.

Place into a preheated oven at around 120c.

You need to allocate a day for this (as the title would suggest). Check the meat at least every hour and spoon the stock over the meat. If the stock runs dry you can add more water but it really shouldn’t – the foil should be sealed tight.

About 6 hours in the meat had shrunk enough for me to be able to cut the string and open the brisket out fully (you may not need to do this with smaller cuts).

At about 10 to 11 hours you need to check the stock levels – the aim is for the stock to be reduced to a syrup by the time you serve it so it may well be the case that you need to remove some of the stock. This isn’t a bad thing – this will give you plenty of the stock in reserve to spoon back over the meat when you serve it.

Keep an eye on the meat -you want the stock to reduce and thicken and for the meat to darken on the outside. If you think the meat is burning, you’re on the right track – it’s those ‘burnt-ends’ that are going to turn this meat into magic.

At about an hour left I remove the silver foil – this is going to help darken the outside and reduce the stock but also gives me a chance to further enhance the flavour – I added a tray of beechwood chippings into the oven to allow them to smoke and flavour the meat further.

If you were cooking this outside you could smoke it for the whole cooking process but I was inside so had to keep the smoking to a bearable level.

As you approach 12 hours, test the meat – it should still have substance but will fall apart easily enough and should be incredibly moist.

Take the pan out of the oven, cover and allow to rest a while – resting isn’t as important here as you’ve cooked it at a lower temperature but it does give you a chance to warm a serving plate.

Place the meat onto a warmed serving plate, cut into chunks and then shred further with a fork. Pour over any remaining stock you have.

I served this with soft milk rolls and a sweet red chilli slaw.

With regards to the economy of this meal – this was a huge cut of meat, it was from a good-quality butchers, the meat was matured and tied well. I paid £20 for it. That’s approximately the cost of a leg of lamb. Nothing wrong with a leg of lamb but it wont feed as many people as this – this piece of meat could easily feed 10 people or, in my case, 6 people and then 4 people for left-overs on Monday.

The only problem with this dish? Once you’ve cooked it, you’ll want to cook it every weekend.

It’s that good.