As the weather (sort of) gets warmer, it’s always nice to lighten up at meal times and embrace some lovely fresh ingredients. This is a simple but effective recipe that reminds me of a gorgeous holiday in Thailand where we ate fresh fish on the beach as much as possible. This isn’t strictly authentic but definitely brings it all back.
It was a fairly sunny Saturday and left a Tough Mudder widow (I honestly offered to go and watch), I decided to go and find somewhere new to get some treats. Brockley is about half an hour from me and I’d heard great things about the little food market, so off I went on the bike to have a look.
I love salmon with hollandaise, salmon hot smoked with dill dressing, salmon in pasta and creamy sauce, and probably one of my death-row meals; smoked salmon in a hot bagel with a huge wodge of full-fat cream cream cheese (diet products have no place on my favourites list) with lemon and pepper. On seeing huge, pink, juicy salmon fillets at A.M Fishmongers in Brixton, I fancied something a bit different – a bit spicy, fresh and preferably low-cal (yawn) due to impending holiday and wedding.
Continue reading Spicy sriracha salmon
I love a juicy display of gorgeous meat and couldn’t resist the enormous beef shanks on a recent wander through Brixton market. I also grabbed some cheap red wine, potatoes and veg to throw together into a rich, slow-cooked stew perfect for a cold Sunday. The shanks are big slabs of beef surrounding a section of the leg bone with all the lovely marrow still in, and these are from A.M Butchers on Atlantic Road.
Continue reading Slow cooked beef shanks
I love tapas and the general idea of having a big selection of dishes for everyone to dive into and share. Just as well really as you’ll come across this concept in a huge number of London restaurants at the moment. So for a little girly night last week, tapas was the theme (mainly as I’m going through a Cava phase) and I managed to throw together a feast with very little skill and hardly any time away from the ladies. *Disclaimer: this is probably not all completely authentic but all goes well together and tastes lovely! Also this is certainly not an innovative recipe or anything groundbreaking – just a bit of inspiration if you have people coming and not much time.
So for something similar, you should buy: roasted peppers in jars, fresh anchovies, fresh artichokes, Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and some decent chorizo. This is the assembly-job stuff.
You can also easily knock up: chilli and garlic prawns, a leek and potato Spanish tortilla, tomato garlic bread, grilled sardines and herby lamb chops. These things are relatively quick and not particularly difficult.
I started with parboiling some sliced new potatoes with half a leek for about 5 minutes, then spreading them in a frying pan with melted butter, salt and pepper. Pour over 8 whisked eggs and let it cook on a medium heat until it’s firm at the edges and wobbly in the middle. Then grate some cheese on (I used a mixture of chedder for flavour and gouda for stringiness) and put it under the grill until the cheese bubbles. Then set aside.
For the prawns just finely chop red chilli and garlic, gently fry for a couple of minutes in olive oil then add the prawns. Once they’re warmed through take off and put them in a bowl. The sardines and lamb are just griddled for a few minutes, a squeeze of lemon compliments the oily sardines perfectly, and lamb loves a sprinkling of oregano. Cook the chorizo in a pan for a few minutes until heated through and releasing the lovely red oils.
Then serve! Arrange all the pre-bought things in bowls and let everyone dig in. With the bread, have everyone grab a cut garlic clove and half a tomato and rub both onto the toast – you get the lovely flavours of the tomato and garlic and it’s fun to to. I also served a green salad to add colour and something light and fresh.
This is a great winter warmer with lots of protein from the pork, comfort-carbs (and more protein) from the chickpeas and a hit of vitamins from the kale – a simple, healthy dish that tastes great. I’ve added a few spices to up the warmth factor, which adds interest and makes it taste vaguely middle-Eastern.
You can buy pork mince or squeeze the meat out of a few sausages, but I got the lovely guys at Atlantic Meat Market in Brixton to mince some chops for me – if you do this tell them it’s for meatballs and they’ll include enough fat – essential for flavour!
You could replace the chickpeas with small pasta like orzo, and the kale with cavalo nero if you fancy mixing it up a bit.
(NB: the parmesan sounds odd but it’s really for seasoning rather than cheesiness)
For the meatballs:
- 500g pork mince
- 50g white breadcrumbs (stale bread is fine)
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 50g grated parmesan
- Sprig fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 10g butter
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
For the soup:
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock (homemade is ideal otherwise fresh not powdered)
- 1 x 400g can chickpeas
- 2-3 handfuls fresh kale
- 1 spring onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- handful fresh coriander, stalks reserved
- 1 green chilli (optional)
Put the chilled pork mince into a mixing bowl and add seasoning, parmesan, mustard, thyme and breadcrumbs. Shape into bite-sized balls and set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Fry the garlic and spring onion on low heat for a couple of minutes. Add the stock, chopped kale, chilli, chickpeas and the chopped stalks of the coriander (the leaves go in at the end). Let it bubble away gently while you brown the meatballs in the oil and butter. You just want to get a crust all the way round the outside, it doesn’t matter if they’re not cooked through.
Once they’re brown, place the balls into the soup (they should stay together because you chilled them), put the lid on and leave it to simmer for 15 minutes.
Serve with some of the coriander leaves to garnish.
The ingredients for this dish were all bought at independent shops in Brixton so don’t forget to add your signature to the petition to save the Arches to keep local shopping in Brixton.
*This post first appeared on the brilliant Brixton Blog
In my house bacon and eggs are more often than not a prerequisite for weekend breakfast, and why not indeed. Salty, crispy smoked bacon dipped in runny yolk, on a soft, chewy bagel or hot buttered toast – heaven. But the time does come to mix things up a bit, so on a raging hangover after my work Christmas party last weekend (weird I know but I work for a restaurant and we can’t close for a night in December, we’d all get shot) I decided it would be good to replace bread with sweet potato cake/rosti affair. Bit more nutritious, gluten-free if you’re into that sort of thing and just a bit of a change. Unfortunately my odd little shop didn’t have any sweet potatoes but had a shelf with about 400 butternut squashes, so there we go.
So for 2 people start with: 1 medium squash, 4/6 rashers decent smoked bacon, 2 large eggs plus another for the squash, olive oil, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and coriander (leaves picked) and an optional teaspoon of fresh red chilli – wakes you up a bit.
Peel the squash and grate it on the coarse side of the grater. Put it all in a sieve and push down with a spoon to drain a bit, you don’t want it too wet, then leave it until you’re ready.
Grill the bacon until it’s the desired level of crispy and keep it warm. Squeeze out the squash again and season with salt and pepper. Add a beaten egg, thyme, coriander and chillis at this point, finely chopped, and heat some oil in a frying pan on a high heat. Using your hands shape the squash into 4-6 patty shapes and put them in the pan, turning the temperature down to medium, otherwise they’ll be that not-so-great combination of black and raw.
Boil a pan of water for the eggs. Cook the potato cakes for 3-5 minutes on each side until they are golden and crispy on the outside. Prod with a knife to check they’re soft in the middle. Keep warm with the bacon and break the eggs into the boiling water – a dribble of vinegar is said to keep them together, I’ve never noticed a difference to be honest. Just use the freshest eggs you can. 3 minutes is fine for runny yolks, then get them out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll. And assemble! Rosti, bacon then poached egg, sprinkle with something green to make it look prettier and tuck in. I added a dressing of Greek yoghurt mixed with lemon juice, salt and pepper just to wet it a bit and allow for more dipping.
You can do this with sweet potatoes, swede, celeriac or any combination of root veg. Add herbs – parsley, sage, tarragon, coriander (goes especially well if you use chilli). It would also work with mackerel instead of bacon. It’s fun and easy and adds a bit of goodness and variety to your fry up. Winner!
So it appears it’s now January 4th, so I’m rather slow on the uptake here but happy new year! If you’re anything like me you’ll have now been stuffing yourself for about two weeks and may be in need of something a bit lighter (especially if you’ve been inhaling peanut butter jelly brownies) – this may be it.
It’s pretty much a few cupboard bits whizzed up and spread on toast – simple and delicious. I started with a tin of cannellini beans, olive oil, garlic, rosemary and a ciabatta loaf.
Put about 100ml olive oil into a pan on a low heat, and add 4 peeled cloves of garlic and a couple of sprigs of rosemary. Let it infuse for about 10 minutes until there are small bubbles at the edges but don’t let it boil – I have a real phobia of boiling oil, so take it off the heat when the small bubbles rise and leave it until you need it.
Put the cannellini beans into a food processor with salt and pepper, and pour in the infused oil bit by bit until it’s smooth and blended. Then cut the ciabatta diagonally into thin slices and place on a hot griddle until you have the charred lines that add flavour and make it look pretty. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite be bothered to find the griddle pan, so held the bread slices over the gas flame with some tongs. Still good!
Then you just spread the bean puree thickly over the bread, squeeze a bit of lemon over it and that’s it! You could top it with bacon, chorizo, smoked mackerel or anything you have, this is super-flexible and meant for easy making. I’ve also made the puree with butter beans and gorgonzola, with a bit of sour cream – it’s richer but totally delicious.
We had some fabulous jerk-marinated ham that we made at my mum’s on Christmas eve, so a few strips of that on top added a lovely salty sweetness and the meaty hit that most of my meals are required to have. If you’re low-carbing the puree is also lovely as a dip for fresh, crunchy celery. A perfect light dinner, and it keeps in the fridge for a few days.
Let’s get the credit out of the way so I can move on to waxing lyrical about the result – these beauties feature in the best food porn collection of 2014, aka Jamie’s Comfort Food, and were pretty much the first thing I wanted to make on opening it on a very happy birthday earlier in the year. I’m a huge fan of this book (first few triumphs here) and this recipe is the icing on the sticky, rich, chocolatey cake.
I love peanut butter, especially with jam – it’s a weird, gorgeous combination that should be embraced a lot more in this country. This dish involves making a peanut butter custard, which even without the rest of the recipe is bloody lovely.
So once that’s done (just egg yolks, milk, vanilla pod, sugar and peanut butter heated gently and whisked) you whip up Jamie’s brownie mix – decent dark chocolate, butter (about half a ton), eggs, sugar and a bit of flour. Brownie mix into a lined tray, then the fun bit – you pour blobs of the custard on top and swirl it with a knife to make the pattern, then drop spoonfuls of jam on and poke the raspberries in. I spent longer doing this than everything else combined because I was having such a nice time.
In the oven for 25 minutes – take it out before you think it’s done to keep them squidgy in the middle and that’s it! It would be interesting to compare it to one using homemade jam and peanut butter, but I’m not sure that’s the point – it couldn’t taste any more indulgent, or have a more delicious combination of creamy custard, rich, moist cake and tangy fruit.
I’ll be trying it with crunchy peanut butter next time for a bit of texture, and maybe cherry/blackberry jam – happily the possibilities are limitless.
I saw a version of this on Eat Like A Girl (one of my favourite blogs) a few weeks ago and realised 1. it looked quite easy and 2. it might make a cheap Christmas present that had the ‘made with love’ factor that mums and suchlike enjoy. So three days before the big day, here we go!
I needed four or five jars of caramel so started with 500g white granulated sugar, 100g butter and 150ml single cream. That’s it! (Although had to do a couple of batches). You slowly melt the sugar in a shallow pan over medium heat, being careful as it burns really easily which tastes horrible. When it’s caramel-coloured add in the butter and cream and stir it until it’s all combined.
To make it salted just add however much sea salt you like and keep tasting it, start with a teaspoon (best to let it cool though, I still can’t talk properly from severe tongue burns – it really does get stupidly hot). Then pour into jars and voila! So easy. (But made with love, if my mum or any other recipients happen to be reading..)