Category Archives: Meaty

The Week, Enfield and Lasagne

We did it. We finally did it.
Kerin, Alex, Paul, Tim, Matt, Michael, Xandie, Paul, Harry, Jon, James, William, Carlos, Clare, Laura, pugpig and many others worked together for 5 months to develop something beautiful and truly unique. And so there we were at the launch party, glass of champagne in one hand, phone In the other, talking to Apple in the US and making the last few adjustments before Alex was able to hit the button, bringing our little baby, neither kicking nor screaming, into the app world. This was a good week indeed. If you have an iPad go and check it out. Download it. Read it. Rate it 5 stars on the App Store.

And now I sit here on a beautiful Saturday morning in Enfield and realise how much I love living here. It’s a little surprise in the North of London – with Tottenham and Edmonton on one side and the M25 on the other, you’d be forgiven for expecting it to resemble an inner city warzone packed with hooded youths stalking the streets (actually, one Sunday night a few months ago that’s exactly what it resembled). But in fact it’s rather leafy. Went for a run this morning and within a few minutes I found myself in the midst of fields and views of the London skyline – Hampstead eat your heart out…

Anyway, I suppose I better do something foodie. I took a photo of this a few days ago after cooking it for the shorts and thinking I’d add it to a post I had written earlier. As it turns out, I hadn’t written about it, so here goes:

Lasagne

I know it’s an easy one and everyone knows it well, but I’m going to quickly do this, just for the record. Please, please, please do not use Delia Smith’s recipe – if I remember correctly, for some bizarre reason she puts chicken livers and bacon in hers – nutter.

So there are two things to do – the ragu and the bechamel. Start with the ragu –
Take 500g of beef mince and fry in batches until it caramelises and then stick it in a large saucepan with a tin of chopped tomatoes (and a little extra water). Now gently fry a finely chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic in olive oil and again add to the saucepan. Deglaze the frying pan with a glass of red wine, and into the saucepan with it. Now season with salt and pepper and and a big handful of finely chopped fresh basil and/or oregano.

Now make the bechamel. in another saucepan melt a large knob of butter (25g) and add four tablespoons of plain flour, mixing it well, Gradually add milk constantly stirring until you have a thick smooth paste. Now, keeping it on the heat, add more milk and single cream until you have the consistency of thick double cream (as you cook it, it will get thicker). grate in a third of a nutmeg and again season with salt and pepper. The sauce should taste rich and creamy.

Now assemble the dish. Start with a very thin layer of ragu, then the bechamel, then a layer of lasagne sheets, then ragu, bechamel, lasagne, ragu, bechamel… you’re done. If you like, grate parmesan on the top.

You can now leave this as long as you like in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, stick it in the oven preheated to 180c, leave it for 40 mins, get it out and eat it…

What’s your beef?

I’m not an idiot. And I know that the vast majority of Hindus do not eat beef. I know that. And I can’t ever remember having beef curry anywhere outside South East Asia (or possibly, in the very distant past of 1970s Lytham St Annes, out of a tin), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not allowed. Or indeed that it, in fact, cannot be a tantalisingly delicious dish. Because, as it turns out, it can – here’s how –

Curry with Beef

Start by putting the following into a dry frying pan: two teaspoons of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon bark and a couple of cardamom pods and warm them up, then pound them with salt (not too much just yet – you don’t want to dry out the beef) and pepper corns and put them into a large casserole with a tin of chopped tomatoes and swoosh the tin out with a little water – into the casserole also.

Now cover about 500g of chunkily cut stewing steak with a little flour and seasoning and fry them in batches in the same frying pan until they are brown all over. Not to ‘seal’ them, but to caramelise the sugars in the beef thus bringing out more flavour (I mean really – what does sealing mean? Come on people – It’s time to destroy the fallacy of the scientific chef – do you honestly believe Heston Blumenthal got better than a C at O’ Level chemistry?)

Next, take four fresh red chillies, a large onion and 6 cloves of garlic, chop them all finely and fry them gently in oil and butter and add the spices. Next, into a liquidiser pour a big handful of raw cashews and enough milk to allow them to blend into something like a smoothie. blend them. Into something like a smoothie. Put it all in the casserole along with a handful of chopped fresh coriander and a tablespoon of turmeric, and put the casserole with its lid on in the oven at 150c for at least 2 hours.

Now, when you want to eat, make some of this brilliant rice (you can follow the same recipe but only cook for 15 mins if you prefer, the 40 mins is only if you want a crunchy bottom).

5 minutes before the rice is ready, take the casserole out, pour in 150-200ml of double cream and another handful of chopped fresh coriander into it and put it back in the oven.

That’s it. really really good. And even better on day two…

Leftovers don’t get better than this…

Question – What’s the best thing about cooking for friends?

Catching up on all their news, hearing about their work and their kids? Being gently tickled by their dazzling repartee? Sharing memories and nostalgia of years gone by? Perhaps just enjoying the presence of people who you care about? Or (more likely) getting a little kick out of the fact that you cook better than they do?

No, no, no, no and no.

The fact of the matter is that the best thing about cooking for friends, by far, is the chance to cook too much food and eat it all over again the next night (or the next two nights if you’re really lucky. or single).

And here I am with what are, without a shadow of a doubt, the best leftovers you could ever, ever eat:

Dauphinoise potatoes – infinitely better the day after you cooked them
Red cabbage – barely getting going until day two, let’s be honest
Confit of duck leg – not even worth eating until at least a month after it was so lovingly poached in its own fat

That’s it – put the three together and you have heaven on a plate. Stick a glass of bordeaux next to it and you may as well just kill yourself there and then, because it’s never going to get any better. Try it. And then try telling me I’m wrong (if you’re still alive that is…)

Confit of duck, red cabbage and dauphinoise potatoes

The confit is easy – have a look here to see how it’s done.

For the red cabbage, take a whole small red cabbage, cut it finely and put it in a large pan with a small jar of redcurrant jelly (or something similar), and couple of peeled and chopped apples, a finely sliced onion, a large knob of butter and plenty of seasoning. Add 100ml of water, put the lid on and cook it on a low low heat for an hour or two, stirring every 10 mins or so.

For the spuds, get out the mandoline and finely slice a couple of handfuls of waxy potatoes and put them into a shallow over proof dish (preferably standing on edge – you’ll get more in and they will cook so much better) with half a pint of cream mixed with a quarter of a pint of milk (enough to ensure the spuds are almost completely submerged, and few cloves of finely chopped garlic, plenty of little knobs of butter and season it well. Cook it in a low oven (150-160c) for about an hour.

Now, get your friends over for dinner (preferably ones who don’t like eating too much), serve them a tiny portion of your feast, have a quick chat, get rid of them as quickly as you can and then wait…with all the patience you can muster…

Vitello tonnato

This is a lovely dish even if it looks reminiscent of something you may have deposited in a back street after a big night on the town. Besides, there are plenty of things in life that look awful but taste great and I urge you to give this a go – it really is beautiful, and it is (at least in its original form) an Italian classic.

Vitello Tonnato (DATW style)

The classic recipe requires you to used veal poached in a herby broth as the basis for this dish, but I used seared beef carpaccio instead which I think works really well.

To make the sauce, you need to put the following in a blender and give it a good whizz – a tin of really good tuna in oil and a tin of anchovies in oil (after having drained the oil), two hard boiled egg yolks, a tablespoon of capers, the juice of a lemon and a good glug of good olive oil. Once blended, season with black pepper and salt (carefully – you don’t need much salt).

For the beef, use my carpaccio recipe – take a piece of really good beef fillet and roll it in a dry rub of herbs and spices that you’ve pounded with a pestle and mortar. My favourites are finely chopped thyme and rosemary with cumin and corainder seeds and lots of maldon sea salt and black pepper (Note – whenever I refer to salt in here, just assume it’s maldon sea salt…). Then sear the beef all over in a very hot frying pan with a little oil and leave it rest for ten minutes. If there are any lovely juices at this point, add them to the sauce.

Now take the beef and slice it thinly onto a plate, covering the surface (and again adding any juices to the sauce). Spoon over the tuna sauce and sprinkle over a little chopped parsley and capers. As always, serve with really good bread and a bottle of crisp white wine or a bottle of Bandol rose if the sun is shining…

Vegas and carbonara

(or strippers and pasta)

The two are entirely unrelated except for the fact that the day I got back from Las Vegas earlier this week, all I had the energy to cook was a carbonara – and that’s really the point – it’s a perfect quick and simple, yet amazingly tasty meal.

So what to say about Vegas? Not everything, is the first thought that springs to mind. Each of us who goes there experiences at least one incident (from a simple indiscreet glance, to a chemical-fuelled, alcohol-enhanced Romanesque orgy) that we are unable to bring home with us except in the form of a fond, guilty or terrifying memory, depending on situation and disposition.

As it turns out, I was there to work and as such, didn’t even register a blip on the hedonist’s wallchart of excess, but it was a blast nonetheless. There’s no denying that it is an ultimately shallow, plastic, materialistic and boob-crazed environment, but that’s probably why we love it.

Remember those old mechanical slot machines that would play out a little scene every time you shoved in a coin? Well that pretty much perfectly sums up Las Vegas. Pop in a coin and it dances for you. Once the money has run out, there’s nothing left.

And if you do go, just be careful who you buy breakfast for…

Carbonara

Fill a saucepan with boiling water, a dash of salt and a little oil. Pop in as much spaghetti or linguine as you feel you can handle.

Next, finely chop an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a little red chilli if you fancy and four or five strips of streaky smoked bacon. Start by frying the bacon in a little olive oil – I like to get some colour in there – and then add the onion, garlic and chilli and fry gently – you don’t want to burn the onion…

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add the mixture from the frying pan. Every little bit of it. Now crack an egg into the pasta and stir vigorously allowing the egg to cook slightly from the residual heat of the pasta. Season to taste and serve with generous sprinklings of parmesan.

As ever, make sure you have some good bread and wine to go with it…

Thai chick

OK – the prophecy has been fulfilled and the house is a bomb site. Smashed glasses, marbles in every corner of the room (don’t give your five year old access to kerplunk unless you want to be picking little glass balls out of every orifice for the next week) and yes I am in the corner, not weeping, but trembling – they know exactly which buttons to push…

We ate well though – two dishes for the record, neither of which I can take credit for – both of these came from Nigel Slater, who may be a little annoying on the tv but he is a great writer and his food is always brilliant (if you buy any cookery book, buy Good Food – you’ll thank me for it)

Thai Chicken Wings

Easy one this and the best chicken wings I’ve made for a while. Take the wings and put them in a freezer bag with a few finely chopped cloves of garlic, a few seeded red chillies, a few tablespoons of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce) and of sesame oil, the juice of a lime and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Give it a good jiggle about and leave it for as long as you can (an hour is enough, but a few hours is better).

Heat the oven to about 200 c and roast the wings on a baking tray for about 35 minutes, turning once or twice throughout.

When you take them out, sprinkle them with some fresh coriander and serve with a chilli dipping sauce, made with a simple mix of rice wine vinegar, lime juice, dark soy sauce, sugar, finely chopped red chillies (again seeded) and fresh coriander…

Thai Green Curry

I think this one is probably more strenuous to write than to cook, so here goes…

You start by making the curry paste. Take a blender and put the following in it, all roughly chopped: four seeded green chillies, three cloves of garlic, two lemongrass stems, a big thumb of ginger, two small onions or shallots and a handful of fresh coriander. Then get a pestle and mortar and grind a teaspoon each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns. pop them in the mixer along with the zest and juice of a lime and a glug of Nam Pla. Blend it. That’s it.

You will only need about four tablespoons of this for the curry so you’ll probably have some spare. In order to keep the vibrant green colour, put the remainder in an ice cube mould and freeze – you can then store in the freezer for ages…

Now, about half an hour before you want to eat, take a saucepan and pour into it a 400ml can of coconut milk, half a pint of chicken stock, 8 lime leaves, more Nam Pla, a tablespoon of green peppercorns and a handful of chopped coriander. At this point, I also added the leftover dipping sauce from the wings (which really worked – so if you haven’t done the wings, just add a nice glug of rice wine vinegar – adds a lovely sourness to the dish).

Take a few breasts of chicken cut into thin strips and fry them until golden brown in small batches in a wok, and them pop them into the saucepan. Do the same with  a couple of handfuls of chestnuts mushrooms.

Now cook it all together for about 10 minutes and you’re done…

You can serve this with rice (see the Iranian rice recipe in my archives – I know, I should have done sticky fragrant Thai rice, but I didn’t so you’ll have to make do. Or go to a proper food blog and get the recipe there…). Alternatively, do what I did and serve with rice noodles, boiled and then fried in the wok you used for the chicken and mushrooms, with a little butter and sesame oil.

Oh, and chuck another handful of chopped coriander over the lot just before serving.

A chicken in the oven

Going to get the shorts later so I’m preparing myself for another weekend of mayhem. The house is in perfect order and quaking in its boots because it knows that it’s only going to last a few more hours before it’s systematically taken apart piece by piece. I’m going to sound ocd here but it’s an unshakable fact that tidiness and order are the first (and most badly injured) casualties of parenthood. I’m trying to think of a good image here – I’m picturing hyenas ripping apart the carcass of a barely breathing and once majestic zebra, or better, crazed looters storming through a post-apocalytic Selfridges, the hitherto paragon of order and style now reduced to a crumbling wreck with ripped-apart agent provocateur undies, butchered chloe bags, smashed bottles of italian black truffle oil and shredded prada strewn about the place and, in the corner, a small perfectly-clad shop assistant hunched up and quietly weeping behind her counter…
I’m the shop assistant I think. Well, a male version of her. It’s not making huge sense really, but hopefully you get the idea..

Anyway, on to food. This is an old one that I just saw a picture of and it’s a good crowd pleaser – especially for the house wrecking entourage. It’s also really easy to do, so well worth a try…

Roast chicken, in a casserole dish, with some onions and garlic.

Start with a whole chicken (splash out and get a decent one – it makes a big difference especially with this recipe) and cut it into pieces (wings, breasts, legs and thighs), putting them all in the dish with the skin facing up. Next, take some small onions or shallots, peel and cut in half, and a few bulbs of garlic also cut in half. Now pour over half a bottle of half decent white wine (with a large spoonful of wholegrain mustard) and some good olive oil –  covering the onions, chicken and garlic. Season it very well with lots of salt and pepper and loads of tarragon.



Shove it in a hot (220 degrees) oven for 40 minutes and you’re done (for the avoidance of doubt this is before it went into the oven…)

In the meantime make whatever veg you like – this time I made mash (with milk and cream and wholegrain mustard), and steamed green beans tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and chopped garlic – my favourite…

Actually, you can see a mushroom in the pic (you can’t any more because I removed the picture from the post) – I must have added a few half way through the cooking – makes sense – give it a try…

As I think about it, I really need to get some decent lighting for these photos. And a decent camera. And maybe some photography lessons, because they really are quite crap…


A Spanish sausage…

The shorts are baying for food and I have to appease them. We’ve been playing with Garage Band all morning – I even managed to get up into the attic and fish out an old microphone which never quite saw the action it was destined for – but now they’re hanging off my arms begging for snacks. Unperturbed, I drag them to the shops to go a find something a little more nutritionally acceptable than the cheese strings they have just seen flashed on the TV and are now shouting for. On the way out I notice a Moro cookbook which I have never graced with my attention. Here’s its big chance –

Chorizo with beans and tomatoes

Take a tin of butter beans, drain it and pop into a saucepan with a large handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half. Season and add lots of good olive oil.

In the meantime, cut the chorizo into healthy slices, and put in a hot frying pan. Finely chop a clove of garlic and just before the chorizo is lovely and crispy on the outside (should only take a couple of minutes) add the garlic into the pan. After another thirty seconds, tip all the contents of the frying pan into the now bubbling bean and tomato mixture and take it off the heat and tip into a serving bowl.

Finely chop a small red onion and a handful of parsley/thyme/basil/whatever you prefer.

Serve with bread and maybe even a dollop of soured cream if you’re feeling adventurous (or Polish)

Chorizo with beans and tomatoes