Friday, 4 March 2016

Vietnamese Beef and Lemongrass


This particular dish has served me well on many occasions, not least because it involves a little prep and lot of sitting in the oven whilst you do whatever it is you do whilst you’re whiling away an afternoon

Vietnamese, if I’m honest is not a cuisine I’m overly familiar with, having only been to one Vietnamese restaurant on the edge of London’s china town, which wasn’t all that really
The flavours meld beautify together and reminds me of Thai Chilli beef with basil only different, if that makes sense



The lemongrass lends that slightly citrusy note and marries perfectly with the aniseed given off by the Star Anise. Chilli, Lime and Fish sauce are distinctly Thai, hence the previous comment that it tastes similar to a well visited Thai dish I often cook
But the beef, oh the beef! Braising steak when cooked slowly retains its texture but it really does fall apart and when combined with the aromatic flavours on offer paired with simple steamed rice is a delight


Braising steak 600g , diced

shallots 4 finely sliced
lemongrass 3 stalks  finely chop two of these removing the tough outer leaves
garlic 2 cloves  crushed
red chillies 2 chopped
kaffir lime leaves 3
star anise 2
vegetable stock 400ml
fish sauce 1 tbsp
lime 1 Juiced


    



Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
In a large flameproof casserole dish (needs a lid as well for later on in the process) , brown the steak in a little oil, in batches as you need it to brown not stew, remove each batch as its browned. Try adding a little black pepper to each batch as you go, it adds a level of flavour.
Fry the shallots, garlic, chopped lemon grass and chilli for a minute or two, this will produce quite a pungent and eye watering odour so don’t stand over the dish for too long


Add the lime leaves, star anise and return the beef, finally add the stock and fish sauce.
Cover with a lid and place in the oven 1.5 to 2 hours, come back every 30 mins or so to check the liquid if its too dry add enough water to loosen it . If you do have to add water keep coming back every 15 mins or so to check the liquid level. Really, when finished you should have some liquid left to act as a sauce.



Before you’re ready to serve stir through the lime juice and taste, it should be fragrant, slightly sour and spicy.


You can also chuck loads of coriander at it if all the diners like it, if not just plonk a bowl full on the table
Serve with steamed rice and off you go.




Sunday, 9 August 2015

Harissa Humus




There’s not much to say about humus really, a staple of many many parts of the world as wide a mix as there are recipes for the stuff. So why am I posting a recipe then? Well firstly, I really like this one, the harissa adds the right amount of spice and with a good extra virgin olive oil it produces something simple yet extremely more-ish . Secondly and much like yesterday’s post humus if one of those things most people buy in a little pot from the supermarket and again, is much better when it’s made fresh.


I go so far as to say that Humus is even easier to make than pesto also, like the pesto this recipe relies on a food processor. I use canned chickpeas but you can make this even cheaper by buying dried, soaking overnight and then cooking, really don’t have the time for that honestly



Ingredients
1 Can of Chickpeas
1 clove of garlic pressed
2 tablespoons of harissa paste
3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
A Squeeze of Lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
Sprinkle of Paprika

Put all of the ingredients except the paprika into a food processor and pulse until blended. Next taste, add more seasoning or lemon if it’s not right add more oil if it’s too thick for your preference. Erm that’s it really, dust with paprika and then serve it how you like it, in this case some veg and flatbreads.

Couldn't be simpler eh? No reason not to really !






Saturday, 8 August 2015

Pesto




Pesto is one of those things that can be a bit insipid, perhaps uninspired even and it’s rarely chosen from an Italian menu when much more mouth-watering offerings jostle for attention on the menu. The thing is, a good pesto, whilst really simple can pack a flavour punch to suit the most adventurous of plates.
The readymade stuff is on, but when its home made with fresh basil, well, it just tastes of Italy.
The recipe here, after a bit of research appears to be the norm, what you do with it really is up to you, a myriad of possibilities await.
In this case, simple penne with a few sweet cherry tomatoes, do it justice. I mean come on, Basil and Tomato, everyone knows the two were made for each other, you do know this don’t you? If you don’t you should

The ingredients should not be taken as strict instruction, it really depends on your taste and taste, as ever is important. My advice, try with the measurements shown, then have a little taste and if it’s not quite right try , a little at a time, adding more. What you add more of is again up to you, basil gives it that deep metallic taste, parmesan adds that tangy salty not. You might want it runnier, then add more oil, lacking a bit of zest then add a touch more Lemon.
How you make it is also a choice of preference, purists will tell you only and pestle and mortar will do, I don’t really have the time for that so a food processor works just fine, either a full on multi-function device or one of the smaller hand held ones, just like this one, will suffice.


Oh and whatever you do , don’t use that horrible dried parmesan in a tub, that smells like feet and tastes little better.


Whatever your preferences, if you’ve not made your own pesto before, then try it at least once you might well wonder why you didn’t try it before



2 Handfuls of fresh basil leaves
1 handful of Pine nuts toasted
1 handful of grated parmesan
1 Garlic clove roughly chopped
Squeeze of Lemon juice
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper



Start by putting all of the ingredients except for the lemon and olive oil into your food processor and pulse until it forms a sort of paste, next pour in a little olive oil and pulse briefly again. If the sauce is not runny enough add a little more oil and repeat. Now add the lemon and after a brief pulse, have a quick taste if it’s not right add little more of what you like. That’s it really simple eh.

Here I just used some penne and when it was cooked, drained the pasta and stirred through a couple of tablespoons of the pesto.










Thursday, 6 August 2015

Smokey Pulled Pork




Pulled pork is pretty much everywhere these days, from On-trend US inspired eateries, restaurants, pubs even fast food joints are doing it, so safe to say it must be pretty tasty right. Too right it is and I love the stuff, I've made it a few times now and over time I have developed this recipe
The great thing is, pork shoulder being a tough old joint, it’s fairly cheap but as with all cheaper cuts, the right cooking method combined with spices and assorted flavourings can be a thing of joy.


This recipe in particular gives you soft, meltingly tender meat, that is, Smokey hot from the chipotle and sweet yet sharp, almost the perfect combination
You can serve it with a salad, potatoes of some sort, or like this in a bun with coleslaw.
I have in the past made coleslaw which goes perfectly but short of time used shop bought.
The buns are important and if bread weren't my nemesis I would have made some, if you don’t want to make bread then the best I've found are M&S ultimate burger buns, any other relish, well that’s up to you really
Finally you’ll need to plan as the best results are found if you apply the rub and leave overnight. Plus the oven time is 7 hours, seems a lot but really once it’s in you don’t need to do much,


Ingredients
1Kg Pork Shoulder
1 Red onion peeled and halved
1 Bay leaf

Rub
2 Chipotle Chillies
2 Teaspoons Cumin Seeds
2 Teaspoons Peppercorns
2 Tablespoons Paprika
2 Tablespoons of caster Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Soft Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Salt

Sauce
750 Ml Chicken stock
3 Tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup
About 100ml of Coke
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar


Large Freezer Bag
Middle sized oven dish with Lid



Right then, the night before you want to eat, take the chillies, cumin seeds and peppercorns and using a pestle and mortar or a grinder if you have one, grind to a powder, then tip into the freezer bag, add to this the sugars, salt and Paprika, grab the bag at the top and shake well, so that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Remove any packaging from the pork and with a sharp knife stab all over, then place the meat into the bag. With the bag sealed gently rub the mixture into the meat, place in the fridge overnight
Next day, take the bag from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature, heat the oven to 120 degrees, place the onion halves cut side down in the base of the oven dish, along with the bayleaf. 




Remove the meat from the bag and spoon out any of the rub onto a small plate or bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to the stock and stir well. Pour the stock over the onions, place the meat on top. Put the lid on the dish and place in the oven. 


Cook for 7 hours, returning to baste every 30-40 mins, if the liquid looks like its running dry, top up with water from the kettle.
After 7 hours the meat should be cooked, lift out the meat and place on a plate and cover with foil, leave to rest for about 15-20 mins. Meanwhile remove the onion and bayleaf from the sauce that’s left in the pan. Add to the sauce the ketchup, coke and vinegar, if you pan is heat proof place on the stove, if it’s not transfer the contents to a reasonable sized saucepan.


Bring the sauce to the boil. Now for tasting, it should sweet, tangy and hot. If it’s lacking flavour completely, add some more of the mixture you spooned from the bag, if its lacking sweetness try a bit more coke and/or ketchup, if it’s not sharp enough add a little more vinegar, it shouldn't need more salt or pepper. When the sauce is to your liking leave to simmer


Put the pork on a chopping board, use a knife to remove the top, thick layer of fat. Now with two forks begin to pull apart the pork into string like strands, when complete add to the sauce and stir well, leave to very gently simmer. Keep an eye on it and again if its dry add a little water, the flavours already there can take a little extra water
Almost there, prepare whatever accompaniments you want. In this case lightly toast the buns, lather the pork on top with some of the sauce, dollop on the coleslaw, and dig in. Oh and you’ll definitely need a napkin.





Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Goat Ragu in Open Ravioli



Goat meat was, until recently, new to me. If I’m honest it’s not something I’d considered really, I don’t know why, it was just something I didn’t really understand and therefore trust. A sort of UKIP approach to cooking, this of course is not good.
It took in fact, the gift of a goat leg from my daughter’s boyfriend, Will, to get me to try it.
I would like to point out at this juncture that it’s not a local custom for a potential suitor to offer his beloveds father sacrificial offerings to receive his blessing. However it can’t hinder his prospects so far be it from me to dissuade him
Right then goat, now I’ve tried it, it is, taste wise, somewhere between Lamb and Mutton, in fact I had cook it like mutton i.e. slowly to get it meltingly tender.
Using white wine as opposed to red, made the dish lighter and as whole the it was slightly sweeter than my usual beef and pork ragu
I used the open ravioli for aesthetic purposes plus it gave me a chance to improve my pasta making skills. I have had the ragu with spaghetti and it tastes just as good.
The ricotta adds smooth creaminess to the dish that goes very well, its worth though, serving this on the side as you might want experience the true goatyness of the dish first



Ragu
Goat Meat 500g, Trimmed and cut into chunks
One onion diced
3 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped
2 Carrots diced
1 Stick of Celery finely chopped
4 or 5 Stems of Thyme
2 Bay leaves
1 400g tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp of tomato pure
200 ml of dry white wine
260g cubetti di pancetta or unsmoked streaky bacon
750 ml of chicken stock

Ravioli
Pasta Sheets
Ricotta cheese
Butter
A Few sage leaves
A few small thyme leaves


In a large saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil and fry the pancetta for 5 mins until browned.
Remove the pancetta and fry the goat in batches until brown
Remove all the goat and tip in the onions, fry gently until soft, stirring well to avoid sticking and so that onions pick up all of the meaty flavours
Now add the carrots and celery , and fry for a couple of mins
Make a well in the centre of the veg mix, add the tomato puree and cook it out for about 2 mins
Add the garlic, stir well and cook for another min
Throw in the Thyme and Bay stir again
Add the wine and reduce slightly
Now add the tomatoes and stock, stir and bring to the boil
Add the browned goat and pancetta back to pan, reduce to a simmer, partially cover and simmer for 4 hours or longer if you want. Keep an eye on the simmer make sure its not bubbling too much and monitor the liquid levels.
What you’re looking for is a rich sauce where the meat falls apart

At this point you could just cook up some spaghetti and you’d be good to go


To make the open ravioli cook your pasta sheets as per instruction until they’re soft but not mushy
In the meantime, heat a decent amount of butter with a little olive oil in a large frying pan, then as its bubbling fry the sage leaves until crispy, remove the leaves and reduce the heat to barely a simmer.
When the pasta is cooked, using tongs remove from the water and to the pan with butter, gently cook for a further minute
Plate up alternative layers of buttered pasta, ragu and if you want it dabs of ricotta.

Finish with a top layer of pasta, a drizzle of butter from the pan, thyme leaves, crispy sage leaves and more dabs of ricotta


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Warm Beef and Cannellini Bean Salad





Sometimes you know, simplicity makes for the perfect meal, especially when the sun is out and filling yet light meal is all you require. This is perfect for sitting outside on a summers evening as the heat beginnings to cool and your shiny forehead (unless you’re follicley blessed) glows red as if in competition with the setting sun. Add in some acceptable company a glass of your favourite tipple and perfection is pretty much there


One of the great things about this dish is the use of beef fillet tails. If you’re not sure what this is, it’s basically the end pieces of the beef fillet that don’t look as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the cut. That’s where the differences stop, as a fillet tail is just as tender and succulent as it’s easier on the eye brother. If you can find yourself a good butcher, which I have with H.H Jackson, always helpful and will try and order for you what they don't normally stock


You can use other cuts of beef or even a steak from the middle of the fillet, the idea here is that you make an expensive ingredient go a long way , whilst maintaining the fantastic beefy taste and complementing it with other ingredients that give the dish a marvellous balance of flavours. This also works well with Rib eye steak as you get almost the same tenderness
As there’s little fat on the beef and it’s used sparingly, this is pretty healthy considering the red meat content



Serves 2
One Beef Fillet tail – Single Rib eye steak will do (basically just use a steak the size you would normally use for one person)
Handful of plain black pitted olives
2 Medium size tomatoes
1 400g tin of Cannellini beans
4 Tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon of Red Wine vinegar
1 Clove of Garlic
Half of a Heart or Romaine Lettuce
Half a red onion
20 or so Basil leaves
Parmesan Cheese

Begin by taking the steak out of the fridge, cover and allow it to come to room temperature
Drain the beans in a colander or sieve and wash thoroughly under cold running water, allow to drain.
Finely chop the red onion and place into a wide salad bowl
Cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the seeds, juice and core, slice into strips and add to the Onion
Quarter the olives and add to the Salad Bowl
To prepare the steak season well with Salt and Pepper, add a small amount of cooking oil and rub all over the steak and set to one side
In a small bowl, add the vinegar and olive oil
Crush the garlic clove add this to the oil and vinegar along with a twist of salt and pepper plus a dash of lemon juice, whisk until thick and combined. Then taste, if its not to your liking, add a little at a time what you think it needs more of. I can’t be more precise than this as I have no idea what you like


Place a frying pan on the hob and heat until very hot
Now place your steak into the pan and cook to your preference, in this case more rare than medium.
Once cooked place the steak on a plate and cover with foil and leave to rest for around 10 mins


Put the pan back on the heat and until hot, pour in half a glass of water, careful is this will boil madly. Then using a wooden spatula scrape of the bits of meat stuck to the pan. Reduce the liquid to about a tablespoon and add to the dressing, whisk again
Whilst the beef is still resting, slice the lettuce into strips, tear the basil leaves and add both to the salad bowl. At this point get your hands in and combine well
Take the beef from the plate, pouring any remaining juices into the dressing
Slice thinly at an angle, add the beef to the salad, mix again
Give the dressing a last good whisk and taste, then pour onto the salad. Mix well again with your hands, this will get messy.


Four a flourish place shaved (using a potato peeler) parmesan on top.

Dig in








Saturday, 15 March 2014

Brunch Burger




Of all the places to be inspired by, McDonalds would not be my first thought but it was Maccy D’s where I first experienced this meat, cheese and egg delight. Admittedly it was early morning and I was somewhat hung-over but from thereon in I was hooked.

I’d had this in mind for quite a while now and two things prompted me into action. A Nigel Slater book for Christmas which had almost this exact recipe and a special nod to Caroline Taylor who blogged about this a few months ago.



So, Sausage, egg, bacon and cheese inside a toasted muffin, drooling yet?

By using quality sausages and bacon you’ll get a robust and meaty flavour, the cheap n cheerful burger cheese adds that dairy hit and finally the runny yolk completes the picture. It’s worth seeking out a good muffin as well and Sainsbury’s Cheese and black pepper ones work wonderfully



Perfect for Dinner (lunch) Breakfast or after the pub, If you like the odd McMuffin but feel somewhat unclean eating breakfast at McDonalds then give this a go.

Makes 5 Burgers
4 Good quality pork Sausages
5 Rashers of Smokey Bacon, chopped
5 Eggs
5 Muffins
5 slices of burger cheese (Cheese slices) you can try cheddar or anything you want really



Using a knife, slit each of the sausages, remove the skin and place the meat in a bowl with the bacon
Season with a few twists of salt and pepper
Mix together well , then, using your hands shape into 5 even size balls, making sure they are tight and compact
Using your fingers gently shape each ball into a flat burger shaped Patty

Halve each muffin and toast until golden brown under the grill

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan

Place the patties gently into the oil and fry, turning frequently until each side has a colour akin to marmite.





Place a slice of cheese onto each burger and melt under the grill



Fry your eggs as you like them, its worth it trying to time these to cook as the burgers are going under the grill

Put the burger on one half of the muffin, place the egg on top , top with the final half and your ready to enjoy your meaty, cheesy runny yolked delight.



Serve with a cup of Builders Tea