Friday, 30 September 2016

Sous-vide Beef Brisket

The long cook on this brisket really breaks down the collagen while still making it keep together enough to slice.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg beef brisket, bones removed and rolled with string
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 carrot, sliced into 4mm slices
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 10g butter

Method:

  1. Heat the sous-vide to 68 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cut the brisket in half (unless you have very large ziplock bags) and each piece in a bag that you've rolled over the top on (to prevent the upper edge getting contaminated).
  3. Split the carrot, liquid smoke and bay leaves between the two bags. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Seal the bags with the submersion method and place in the sous-vide for 36 hours. You'll probably need to place a plate on-top to make sure it stays fully submerged.
  5. Remove from the sous-vide and remove the brisket from the bags. Save the cooking liquid to make a pan sauce (just add to the cooking pan after browning the meat and reduce it down) or gravy.
  6. Pat the meat dry with some kitchen towel.
  7. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan, over a high heat. Once it is hot, add the meat and butter. Sear all the sides of the meat until they have a nice dark colour, using a blow torch on the top of the meat while the bottom browns will speed this up.
  8. Slice and serve with suitable accompaniments.

Serves 5 to 6 people.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Green Bean Casserole

I think that this should, traditionally, use concentrated mushroom soup as the basis of the sauce, but as that's hard to get in the UK this recipe makes a flavoursome mushroom stock instead.

Ingredients:

  • 450g closed cup mushrooms, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 25g butter
  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 1 pot of chicken stock gel (or stock cube)
  • 300ml milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 650g frozen green beans

Method:

  1. Place the butter and closed cup mushrooms into a saucepan and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, or until the mushrooms really start to dry out and brown.
  2. Meanwhile, put the porcini mushrooms into the boiling water and leave them for at least 10 minutes to re-hydrate.
  3. After the procini mushrooms are nice and soft, remove them from the water (but keep the water) and finely chop them.
  4. When the closed cup mushrooms are done, add the porcini mushrooms, their water, the chicken stock gel/cube, the milk, salt and pepper and plain flour into the pan and mix well until all combined.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  6. In a large saucepan, heat the onions and sunflower oil over a medium heat until the onions are nice and soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Combine the mushroom liquid, half the fried onions (and all of the liquid from the onions) and the green beans together and pour into a large oven proof dish.
  8. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.
  9. Remove the foil, sprinkle the remaining fried onions over the top and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
  10. Serve with roasted or slow cooked meats such as beef or pork.

Serves 6 as a generous side dish.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Creamed Spinach

This is a straight forward side dish which goes well with steak or slow roasted beef.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 25g butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g frozen spinach
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the butter, onion and garlic in a saucepan over a medium heat until the onion starts to soften. This should be about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the frozen spinach and put a lid over the saucepan. Leave to heat through for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and stir well. Keep stirring every couple of minutes until most of the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  4. Right before you're ready to serve, add the cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.
  5. Leave to heat through and then pour into a pre-heated serving bowl.

Serves 4.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Spinach and Green Lentil Slow Cooker Stew

This is a simple but flavoursome stew that is easy to put on in the morning before work, all ready for the evening meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 160g bacon lardons
  • 250g dried green lentils
  • 425g frozen spinach
  • 600ml cold water
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pot of chicken stock gel (or a stock cube)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Put the sunflower oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat.
  2. Fry the bacon until it starts to brown, stirring frequently to get an even coat of colour.
  3. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, season generously with salt and pepper before giving it a good stir.
  4. Cook on low for 9 hours.
  5. Serve topped with a sprinkle of cheese.

Serves two as a main course.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Potato Salad

I prefer the dressing of potato salad to have a slight kick, which the Dijon mustard provides here perfectly

Ingredients:

  • about 900g of potatoes, a waxy type is best, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp of Dijon mustart
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 spring onions, ends removed and finely sliced

Method:

  1. Put the potatoes into a sauce pan and cover with fresh water.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, use a fork to check that the potatoes are starting to go slightly soft on the outside and aren't crunchy in the middle.
  3. While the potatoes cook, mix the mustard, mayonnaise and vinegar together in the bottom of a large bowl.
  4. Drain the potatoes and place in the large bowl.
  5. Mix well so that the potatoes are well coated with the dressing.
  6. Sprinkle the spring onions over the top of the potatoes before mixing them into the salad.
  7. Place in the fridge to cool until you are ready to eat it.

Makes about 4 side servings of potato salad.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Briam (Baked Potato and Courgette Stew)

This requires a few simple ingredients, but the long cooking time really brings out the flavour in them. This is probably a bit more tomato flavoured than a traditional briam, but I like it that way.

Ingredients:

  • 450g potatoes, sliced into 1/4 cm slices
  • 400g courgette (about 3 normal sized), sliced into 1/4 cm slices
  • 1 onion, peeled, quarter and cut into 1/4 cm slices
  • 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 35ml cold water
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 65 ml olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (or 180 degrees if a fan oven)
  2. Mix the potato, courgette and onion into a large baking dish or high walled roasting tin.
  3. Mix the tomatoes, water, puree, parsley, oil and salt and pepper in a jug until they are blended.
  4. Pour the tomato mixtue over the vegetables.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and fold it over the edges.
  6. Roast in the oven for about an hour before removing the foil and giving it a good stir.
  7. Return to the oven uncovered for a further 30 minutes, adding a dash of water if it's dried out.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving (or serve cold), possibly with a bit of feta cheese crumbled over the top.

Serves about 3 people as a main course, more as a side dish.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Fresh Pitta Bread

Making pitta bread at home leads to a wonderfully thick pocket and, once you ignore rising time, is surprisingly easy. You can also put all the ingredients in a bread maker on a pizza dough setting to get the same result.

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1 sachet of fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 150ml of water

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and olive oil in a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and mix the dough together with your fingers.
  3. Flour takes a while to absorb the water, so you'll need to work it with your hands for a few minutes to get a smooth dough. If it looks a little too dry and cracks then add a bit more water, about a teaspoon at a time, kneading for about a minute before deciding if it's still too dry.
  4. Knead for a further 5 minutes, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about an hour.
  5. Place a pizza stone or the thickest baking tray you have into your oven and pre-heat to 250 degrees.
  6. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and fold it back in on itself until you've knocked the bubbles out of it.
  7. Divide into 6 evenly sized balls.
  8. Dust the surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll each ball out into an oval about half a cm thick.
  9. Remove the pizza stone from the oven and place the ovals on it before returning to the oven. Unless you have a huge pizza stone you'll have to do the cooking in two or three batches.
  10. Cook the pitta in the oven for about 5 minutes. They'll puff up into big domes and you want to remove them from the oven as soon as they start to colour.
  11. Cover the cooked pitta with a clean tea-towel and leave to cool before eating.

Makes 6 pitta bread.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sous-vide Miso Glazed Courgette

Cooking vegetables sous-vide doesn't quite have the same impact as cooking meat in it, but it does lead to delightfully flavoured vegetables cooked to perfection with minimal effort or monitoring.

Ingredients:

  • 500g courgette (about 3 normal supermarket sized ones), sliced into long slices about 3/4 cm thick
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 2 tsp soy sauce

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the water bath to 83 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place the courgettes into a plastic zip-lock bag.
  3. Mix the garlic powder, miso paste and soy sauce into a smooth paste in a small bowl.
  4. Pour the mixture into the plastic bag and work it into the courgettes using your hands on the outside.
  5. Space the courgette slices evenly in the bag and then use the water submersion method to squeeze out the air before sealing the top just above the water line.
  6. Place in the sous-vide cooker for 40 to 60 minutes.
  7. When you're ready to serve, remove from the water bath and pour the liquid in the bag into a small sauce pan.
  8. Simmer the liquid for a couple of minutes while you plate up the slices of courgette.
  9. Use a brush to cover the slices with the cooking liquid once it has reduced down.

Serves 2.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Mustard Mashed Potato

Using wholegrain mustard in the mash provides a subtle kick to it over the usual lighter flavour of mashed potato.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes, a floury type is best, peeled and cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 25g butter

Method:

  1. Place the potato pieces into a saucepan and cover with fresh water.
  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potato pieces are nice and soft.
  3. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan.
  4. Add the mustard, milk and butter on top of the potatoes before mashing them all together with a potato masher.
  5. Serve while still hot.

Provide two generous servings.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Stuffed Courgette Flowers

If you have a courgette plant in your garden then you want to pick the flowers in the morning as they close in the early afternoon. Cut them from the stem just below the bottom of the flower and place in a bag in the fridge until you're ready to cook them that evening. There are two types of flowers, the male ones are the ones pictured here and the female ones have a small courgette looking like bit attached to the base. I prefer to stuff the male flours so that the female ones can develop into full sized courgettes, but they both work equally well.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tsp pine nuts
  • 4 tsp sultanas
  • 4 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 4 tsp grated Grana Padano cheese
  • 4 courgette flowers
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 egg, well beaten in a wide but shallow bowl
  • 4 tbsp plain flour, in a separate wide but shallow bowl

Method:

  1. Put the pine nuts into a small frying pan and heat over a medium heat for a few minutes, until they start to brown. Make sure to toss the pan every minute or so to allow them to move around a bit and toast different sides.
  2. While waiting for the nuts to toast, place the sultanas in a small bowl and cover with water to re-hydrate them a little.
  3. Finely chop the toasted pine nuts and then add to a medium sized bowl.
  4. Drain the sultanas and roughly chop them before adding them to the pine nuts.
  5. Add both the cheeses to the nuts and sultanas, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  6. Take each courgette flower carefully in hand and pinch out part in the very centre which, in the case of male flowers, is covered in pollen.
  7. Fill each flower with a generous tablespoon of the cheese mixture and carefully close the top over them.
  8. At this point you can put the stuffed flowers on a plate and place in the fridge for a few hours until you are ready to cook them.
  9. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat.
  10. Hold each flower by the stem and carefully coat it first in the beaten egg and then the flour before gently resting it in the frying pan.
  11. After about a minute or two on each side, turn the flowers in the pan until all the sides are a golden brown colour. The timing of this works out such that when doing four flowers, by the time you've coated the last one and placed it in the pan, the first one should be about ready to turn.
  12. Serve immediately.

Serves two people.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Courgette Cake

The courgette in this are like the carrots in carrot cake: they keep the cake nice and moist while adding a slight sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • 350g courgette (about 2 normal supermarket courgettes), coarsely grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 90g unrefined caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 85g walnuts, finely chopped
  • 150g sultanas
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (or 160 degrees if using a fan oven, but try to avoid it).
  2. Place a baking parchment liner in a 2 lb loaf tin.
  3. In a large bowl, place the courgette, eggs, vegetable oil and sugar.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients well.
  5. Pour the flour over the wet mixture in the bowl, and make a small well in the centre before adding the baking powder and bicarbonate (you don't want it to get wet before the flour).
  6. Add the walnuts and sultanas to the side, along with the grated nutmeg and vanilla extract.
  7. Mix well with a wooden spoon until all combined.
  8. Pour into the pre-lined tin and bake in the oven for 60 to 70 minutes.
  9. Check that it is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre: when it's cooked all the way through the skewer will come out clean.

Makes a 2 lb cake.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Anglo-Kimchi

This is an approximation to kimchi, using ingredients which are easier to find in an English supermarket. It tastes a bit different, but is just as tasty. It's best attempted with latex gloves to stop the fish sauce or chilli from staining your hands.

Ingredients:

  • 4 sweetheart cabbages, cut into quarters, cores removed and then sliced into inch slices
  • 300g salt
  • 4 tbsp dried chilli flakes
  • 6 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper or smoked paprika
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 4 spring onions, ends removed and finely sliced
  • 1 turnip, peeled and finely chopped

Method:

  1. Break up the cabbage with your hands so that all the layers are separated from the slices
  2. Toss the cabbage in a couple of large bowls with the salt, use your hands to make sure the salt is evenly coating the cabbage
  3. Add just enough water to each bowl so that the level is almost above the cabbage, place a couple of plates on the top to press the cabbage down and leave for a couple of hours
  4. Drain the cabbage and rinse it under running water to wash off the salt
  5. In a small bowl mix the chilli flakes, fish sauce, pepper, garlic, sugar and ginger into a paste
  6. Mix the paste with the cabbage so that it's evenly distributed, you'll probably need to use your hands to get it evenly coated
  7. Add the spring onions and turnip into the bowls and mix
  8. Push the completed mixture into jars, being sure to press down firmly to get it as packed as possible
  9. Leave a couple of cm of air at the top of the jars to allow for any bubbling without overflow
  10. Place lids on the jars, stand in a baking tray with sides (to catch any overflow) and leave on the side for 4 days
  11. About once a day, open each jar to let out the pressure and press down the cabbage
  12. After the fermentation has completed, place the jars in the fridge and leave for about a week before eating

Makes about 3 litres of kimchi.