Category Archives: Recipes

Slutty lunch/Simple lunch

Some time ago I wrote about the fridge slut, a dish concocted from the odds and ends in the fridge. It’s a dish that, I reckon, has a 50/50 chance of going well. There is always the very real possibility that your speculative marriage of maple syrup and spring onions is going to end in tears. But then it’s just as possible that your fridge sluttery will end in triumph.

Yesterday, buried under an avalanche of deadlines, I couldn’t face going to the shops. I boiled a potato. I fried some bacon and onion with a little thyme. I made an eye-watering dressing with English mustard and cider vinegar, then put my face in the fridge. Chives! Radishes! Salad leaves! All the above made a happy union on my plate.

But something was missing. I fried an egg. I bunged it on top then ate the whole slutty mess in one go. While watching Made In Chelsea. Ha!

*****

Today’s lunch was more civilised. Fat English asparagus boiled for a couple of minutes, tossed in melted butter and served on garlicky toast with hot smoked trout and horseradish. Somehow the slut was better.

If you were to make a fridge slut now, what would it consist of?

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Recipe | Fried goose egg with asparagus

Well, hardly a recipe. The title just about gives it away and I’m sure you could work out the rest. But the first asparagus of the year needs celebrating and celebrate I shall. Peruvian imposters had long been hogging the shelves, but as soon as that little union jack appeared on the green shoots I pounced.

Joy upon joys, I had a perfect goose egg sitting at home; rich as Mark Zuckerberg but not nearly as emetic, it just so happened that fried in butter over a medium heat it took exactly the same length of time to cook as the asparagus – about two minutes, that is, in boiling salted water. I put a lid over the frying pan for all of 30 seconds at the end, just to nudge the yolk along, and finished the asparagus with a little EVOO, salt and pepper, but this was a simple lunch that was ready in less than 5 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread, maybe a few shavings of parmesan if you fancy.

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Recipe | A punchy chicken curry

As is often the case after a week in another country, on return from Australia all I wanted to eat was something comforting and familiar. Curry it was, and it was good. Just hot enough to for the body to respond with sweat and serotonin, without you having to bury your face in the freezer.

Serves 4
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves
10 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp mustard seed
A few curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2 dried red chillies
1 tsp onion seeds

1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tin coconut milk
1 tbsp tomato puree
4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
A couple of large handfuls of spinach

– Start by toasting the whole spices (cumin, coriander, cloves) in a dry frying pan until their scent tickles your nostrils. Some recommend toasting separately but life’s too short. Tip them into a pestle and mortar and grind with the cardamom.

– Heat a little oil in a saucepan over a medium flame. Add the mustard seeds and, once they start to pop, chuck in the curry leaves, asafoetida, dried red chillies and onion seeds. Keep stirring until the chillies char and wilt, then throw in the onion and garlic. Lower the heat and soften for 10 minutes before banging it back up and stir-frying with the ground spices, chilli powder and turmeric.

– Add the coconut milk and tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes until thickened, then add the chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in the spinach. Cook until wilted and serve with rice and a handful of coriander.

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Recipe | Wild garlic and chicken liver sauce

Get hold of some wild garlic, roast a chicken, and make this sauce. It rocks. Actually it would go terrifically well with most things, particularly a steak, being (if I say so myself) miles better than the ‘secret’ recipe at Le Relais de Venise.

And don’t be put off by the chicken liver part – it’s not at all offally, this sauce, but the liver adds richness and depth and general meatiness. By all means leave it out if liver ain’t your bag.

Makes enough for 4

50g butter
A shallot, peeled and finely chopped
A chicken liver
A big handful of wild garlic, washed and roughly chopped
Roasting juices from a chicken or steak or just a splash of white wine
A small handful of chervil, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon

–  Melt the butter and add the shallots, gently frying with salt and pepper until softened. Bung in the chicken livers and cook for 4-5 minutes before mashing thoroughly.

– Add the roasting juices, white wine or whatever, and simmer for a couple of minutes until thickened. Now add the wild garlic and chervil, stirring until wilted. Squeeze over half a lemon and serve over the meat. If you’d like to refine the sauce then whiz it up and pass it through a sieve, but who wants refinement on a Sunday night?

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Recipe | Gammon steak with colcannon and Irish whiskey sauce

Being boring and teetotal and everything at the moment, there is only so much I can do to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Though the temptation to swallow the entire Liffey’s worth of Guinness is almost overwhelming, the marathon looms and I must look after myself. That said, I hope that you, dear reader, will be celebrating properly tomorrow. You might start with this. I really wanted to do a bacon chop but was unable to dig one out, so a gammon steak had to suffice, and suffice it did.

Colcannon is traditionally made using kale, I believe, but I’m a slut for spring greens at the moment so used those. You could really fling whatever you fancy – peas, spring onion, parsley, whatevs.

Serves 2
A few spuds
A head of spring greens, trimmed and finely shredded
A knob of butter
Milk, a splash
2 gammon steaks
2 tbsp caster sugar
50ml water
50ml Irish whiskey
Salt, pepper, oil

–  Peel and chop the potatoes and put them in a pan of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Meanwhile wash the greens. When easily skewered, drain the spuds and leave in the colander while you melt the butter in the same pan. Toss in the greens, cover and wilt over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and mash with a splash of milk. Season with pepper and keep warm over a gentle flame.

– Trim the rind from the gammon and fry in a little oil for 2-3 minutes on each side. Meanwhile put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve. Boil for 4 minutes until chestnut-coloured and add the whiskey, swirling the pan to combine – don’t stir. Add a little hot water if it’s looking a bit dry.

– Remove the gammon to a serving plate. Take the frying pan from the heat and tip in the whiskey sauce, swirling again to combine with the meat juices. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve with the colcannon.

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Guest Post: Victoria’s Sponge

This week’s recipe comes from the lovely Victoria of I Love Meal Plans.

Here is my version of a Victoria sponge; I find the key to making this cake magical is the way you combine the ingredients, so follow the instructions carefully! This cake was for my husband’s 30th birthday and so to feed all our guests I made a 10oz sponge. I would normally make a smaller cake, so the recipe below is for a 4oz cake. The measurements of this recipe are easy to increase or decrease as necessary. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 oz softened unsalted butter
4 0z sifted caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
4 0z sifted self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk (approx)

•••••••
Method:
1. Line two round sponge tins with baking paper and grease them with alittle butter.

2. Pre-heat the over to 180°c.

3. Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.

4. Add one egg and mix well, add half the flour and mix again.

5. Add the second egg and the rest of the flour, baking powder and vanilla essence, combine into a smooth mixture.

6. Pour a little of the milk into the mixture, you need the mixture to be ‘droppable’, this means it should fall slowly from your spoon. If the mixture is too thick and sticks to the spoon add more milk, if the mixture is too runny then add a spoonful or two of more flour.

7. Gently pour the mixture evenly into each sponge tin, make sure that the tins are not filled more than halfway (or it will overflow as it rises and end up on the bottom of the oven floor!).

8. Use a palette knife to spread the mixture across the sponge tin to give it a flat surface.

9.Cook in the middle of the oven for 20 mins. Test the cake is cooked by touching the top of the cake, it should spring back up and not leave an indentation. If the cake is ready gently remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack. If the cake needs longer leave for a few minutes inthe oven and test again.

10.Sprinkle the hot cakes with caster sugar, this gives a nice topping to thecake, but if you want to decorate your cake like I did use the icing recipe below.

Icing:
Ingredients:
40z softened unsalted butter
8 oz sifted icing sugar
2 drops vanilla essence
Strawberry jam

••••
Method:
1. Beat butter and icing sugar together until smooth, add vanilla and blend.

2. Spoon icing onto cake and smooth with a palette knife.

3 . Sandwich the cakes together with butter icing and plenty of strawberry jam.

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How To Bone A Chicken

Oliver Thring, food writer par excellence, human dictionary, and encyclopaedic when it comes to fascinating internet tidbits, recently tweeted a video of Jacques Pepin deboning a whole chicken. It was totally mesmerising. No bells and whistles, no fade ins or fade outs, no sexy, coquettish pouts at the camera (well, maybe a couple), just 10 minutes of pure, brilliant cookery viewing. I went straight out for a chicken and had a go myself. The video proper is at the bottom, but hopefully I can add a couple of useful hints to fellow amateurs that perhaps the great man doesn’t mention. Apologies for the increasingly blurry snaps. Not sure if they are a result of excitement or me having given up booze.

1) Get hold of a big knife and a smaller boning knife. You’ll barely need to use them but make sure they’re sharp. Pull out the wings and cut through the first joint out from the shoulder. Hold the wing tip in a teatowel with the ‘elbow’ facing down. You’ll need the teatowel for grip, just clean it afterwards. With the tip pointing towards you, snap the joint upwards as you push the tip away from you. The two bones should pop out the end of the meatier piece. Cut through the joint and discard one of the bones and the wing tip (save for stock). Pull the meat inside out on the remaining bone so that you’re left with a lollipop, and repeat on the other side.

2) Remove the wishbone by lifting the flap of skin at the neck and cutting an upside down ‘V’ round the cavity. Dig your fingers in and pluck out the wishbone. This is worth doing even when you roast a chicken, as it makes carving easier.

3) Turn the bird on its front and cut straight down the back. Feel for the shoulder joints and cut just through the bone. Take care not to go any further once you’re through, otherwise all hell will break loose. Or something.

4) Sit the chook on its ass and get your thumb where you’ve cut under its shoulders. Pull outwards and down so that the meat comes away like some sweaty sock. Go down as far as the ‘oyster’ (the little nugget of meat at the thigh joint) and repeat on t’other side. Pull the breast forward and further down, leaving the fillets on the carcass.

5) Turn the bird on its side and break the ball and socket joint where the thigh meats the back, and cut through the joint, taking care to take the oyster with you. Same on other side, obviously. Pull the meat away from the carcass entirely. You should now have a piece of what looks like roadkill that still contains leg and thigh bones, and upper arms, as it were. Get your thumb under the fillets on the carcass and pull them off. Remove the white sinew by holding it with a teatowel and pushing the meat away with the flat of a knife.

6) Now the fun part. Cut around the top of the thigh bone (you see the little fella poking out?) and hold it tight while you scrape the meat from the bone with your knife (see Pepin for more detail). When you get to the ‘knee’ cut around that and continue scraping down until you’ve taken all the meat off the bone. Roll it back over the bone and give it a massive thwack on the ankle with the back of a large knife. The bone should now pull out cleanly and most satisfyingly. You can trim its feet off after cooking.

7) Finally remove the wing bones by sitting them upright on the board, cutting around the bone, and pushing the meat down. The bone should slide out. And there you have it. A boned chicken. Now you can stuff the shit out of it, roll it up and cook it like some giant chickeny sausage.

Pepin reckons you should be able to do this in a minute. It took me about 15, though I reckon I could get it down to 5. Perhaps I’ll do a video. Or, even better, why don’t you do a video and send it to me? Happy boning.

For an altogether more elegant version of this shaky how-to guide, see the master at work:

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