Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cooking the Xmas books (again) Diana Henry - Simple

I was given the book Simple by Diana Henry by Martha for Xmas. I think it is going to be a really well used book. We had this recipe last night as a side dish but to be honest it would be pretty nice as a main dish alongside some salad.
This might be a response to the onslaught of eating and drinking over the holidays (45 covers in 3 days!) or because of my new cholesterol lowering campaign for 2017. However I think it is mainly because most of the recipes in the book do what it says on the cover, they are 'Simple' to execute but still have something interesting going on. In this case it is the coriander and yoghurt dressing that deliver,. Give it a whirl, you wont regret it.
Happy new year!


·       2tbs plus 4tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
·       ½ tablespoon honey
·        Juice of 2 limes
·        Kosher salt, to taste
·        Black pepper, to taste
·       1kg sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch wedges
·       ½ bunch coriander, leaves only (1/2 ounce)
·       2 green chillies, seeded and chopped
·       2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
·       2 tablespoons sliced blanched almonds
·       1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
·       Greek yogurt


1.    Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.    In a large bowl, combine 2tbs oil, the honey, juice from 1 lime, a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and toss with potato wedges. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, bake until tender and lightly browned in spots, 40 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt to taste.
3.    Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse to combine 4tbs oil, the coriander, chillies, garlic, almonds, juice from remaining lime, vinegar and a large pinch of salt, until it forms a chunky purée. Taste and add more salt if needed.
4.    Spoon the sauce over the potatoes, dollop with some yogurt, drizzle with oil, and serve with any remaining yogurt on the side.

Monday, December 5, 2016

OK, so It's not authentic, but I like it. April Bloomfield's lamb curry

This is now officially my go-to lamb curry. In her book ' A girl and her pig' April Bloomfield admits that it isn't exactly an authentic recipe, but I can assure you it's absolutely delicious and really makes the most of one of my favourite cuts of meat; shoulder of lamb.
There are a few surprising ingredients like pineapple juice but go with the flow it all really works brilliantly in the end. I really like the way Bloomfield, one of Birmingham's finest exports, cooks and, having been to a couple of her New York restaurants you can see why her her inventive but laid back cooking has taken the city by storm.

We made this for the return of the prodigal daughter from Uni. She had asked for something with flavour ... this definitely delivers on that.

The only significant thing I did do was to cut back on the heart attack inducing two tablespoons of Maldon salt that are added half way through, It just seems crazily too much to me. I put two heaped teaspoons in, I think it worked well and allowed me to season to taste at the end .... but if you're feeling bold, go for it!

I also didn't think my meat needed 10-12 mins to brown so I took it out when I felt it was sufficiently coloured all over which was about 6-8 mins. Again, go for the full 10 if you want to be accurate.Who knows it might taste even better?

I also got the butcher to bone the shoulder and leave it in one piece so I could make sure I chopped it into nice big 5cm pieces as I think that is key to any of these slow cooked recipe. And yes I did measure one piece out as a template #sadoldocdcook

I made the sauce bit on a Saturday night and finished it off on Sunday afternoon. This is one of those recipes that you could definitely make in advance.


  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds, toasted (to toast these three, just add them to a dry skillet, turn up the heat and toss around until fragrant)
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled dried pequin chilies or red pepper flakes .. (I used chilli flakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for lamb)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced shallots (or yellow onions, if that’s easier)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small cinnamon stick
  • 75g finely chopped fresh ginger 
  • 2 x 400g chopped canned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Maldon or another flaky sea salt
  • 8 coriander roots with 2 inches of stem attached, washed well and finely chopped (save the leaves for garnish)
  • A 5-inch strip of orange peel, any white pith cut away
  • A 5-inch strip of lemon peel, any white pith cut away
  • 4tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 300ml pineapple juice (fresh, bottled, or canned)
  • 1.8kg boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 5cm pieces ( make sure they are not smaller than this)
  1. Make the curry first by combining the toasted spices, cloves, star anise, cardamom, lime leaves, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and turmeric in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, and grind them until you have a very fine powder.
  1. Heat a large Le creuset pan or other heavy ovenproof pot over medium high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they’re deep brown, about 10 minutes. Add the ground spice mixture, cinnamon stick, and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and salt (I didn’t add all 2 tablespoons I added two heaped teaspoons) stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture looks quite dry, about 15 minutes.
  1. Stir in the coriander, citrus peel and juice, and pineapple juice, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until smoking; meanwhile, season the lamb with lots of salt. In batches, brown the meat all over, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. As the pieces finish browning, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the le creuest with the curry mixture. Brown the following batches in all the nice fat remaining in the pan, transferring the pieces to the Casserole as they are done, and then discard the fat.
  1. Give the lamb pieces a good stir to coat them in the curry mixture, cover the pot, and put it in the oven. Cook the lamb 1 1/2 hours, stirring now and then.
  1. Reduce the heat to 130c and let it go until the lamb is fork tender but not totally falling apart, another hour or so. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro leaves, if you like.

We had it with a cucumber raitha and some naan 
Preparation time: 20 - 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 3 hour(s) 

Number of servings  4 - 5

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cooking with Skye on a wet Saturday afternoon. Monkfish curry with coconut, lime and curry leaves.

We love the Petersham Café. Aside from being a unique space and the rather compelling fact that its a mere ten minute drive away, we have also had some pretty good meals there.
We particularly liked it during Skye Gyngell's time there.her approach to cooking is, like Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey, one of simplicity and good ingredients. Her books are also really good. This recipe is from my favourite ingredients’ I made it on a very wet Saturday afternoon for Lisa and I to have for dinner.
I couldn't get any monkfish so used a combination of cod and halibut, which seemed to work perfectly ok. This would be a great recipe to make for a crowd because you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and just finish it off at the last minute.
I think you could also dial up the heat to suit your particular taste. I kept it fairly mild to suit Lisa. so chose two small birds eye chillies and deseeded one of them.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
large bunch of coriander, stems chopped and leaves reserved
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a pinch of salt
2 red chillies, chopped (seeds kept)
10 fresh curry leaves
2 kaffir lime leaves
juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp palm sugar
2 x 340g tinned plum tomatoes
800g monkfish fillet
400ml tin coconut milk
In a heavy based saucepan, over a medium-low heat, add the butter and once this melts, add the onions. Cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes.
In a separate small frying pan, toast the mustard, fennel and coriander seeds over a medium head till they release a slight aroma. Check to make sure that you do not over roast otherwise this will give the curry a bitter taste. Remove from heat, and while still warm, grind to a rough powder in a mortar and pestle.
Add the spices to the cooked, sweet onions along with the chopped coriander root and stems, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Tear the kaffir lime leaves into rough pieces and add to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar, stir once or twice and turn up the heat a little. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste for flavouring: the curry base should be warm, slightly sweet but also sour. Add more lime or fish sauce to adjust to taste.

To finish, add the coconut milk and then add the monkfish. Bring to the boil, cook for 3-4 minutes until the fish is just cooked (if it feels firm to the touch it is done). Scatter the coriander leaves and serve in bowls with rice or flat breads.

Monday, August 8, 2016

ottolenghi grilled sweetcorn slaw

I made this yesterday.
It sounds a bit of a faff but it is very easy and tastes pretty damn fine.
It also keeps really well in the fridge.
I like the combination of the grilled and slightly blackened corn with the herbs and cabbage which are definitely improved by the 'brining' process.


100ml white-wine vinegar
200ml water
¼ white cabbage, shredded (300g net)
3 carrots, julienned (175g net)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (140g net)
4 corn cobs, lightly brushed with olive oil (600g gross)
2 red chillies, finely chopped
20g picked coriander leaves
20g picked mint leaves
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper

50g mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1½ tsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

Serves six.

Place the vinegar and water in a small saucepan along with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Place the cabbage and carrot in a bowl, pour over two-thirds of the salty liquid and set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Pour the remaining liquid over the onion and, again, set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the vegetables and onion well, pat dry, place together in a large bowl and set aside.

Place a ridged chargrill pan on a high heat and, when it starts to smoke, lay the corn over it. Chargrill for 10-12 minutes, turning so that all sides get some colour (this will create quite a lot of smoke). Remove from the heat and, when cool enough to handle, use a large knife to shave off the corn in clumps and add to the salad bowl.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and stir gently. Add the chilli, coriander and mint, along with a grind of black pepper, give everything another gentle stir and serve.