Food, glorious food... done my way. Pretence of perfection

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Been a while since my last post, lost of office parties and general merriment has been going on :-)

Anyway... last year I roasted a duck, this year I'm sitting back and watching (and maybe snapping pics!).

I'm off to Ireland to be with the family (90% Irish decent ;-)). I haven't asked but we're probably having Turkey, we've had goose and similar in the past. Our family lives in a tiny village in Co. Laois, right next to the farms of their friends, we've got some nice treats straight from the farms in the past :-D

So, baring a miracle this'll be my last post this side of the New Year, so have a happy Christmas to all who celebrate it, and a Happy New Year to everyone who's looked at a Gregorian calender this year!

PS this is what I want for Xmas

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chicken Sweetcorn Soup

What else to do with corn on the cob and organic chicken thighs...?

I browned 4 chicken thighs (with skins still on) in a little butter and olive oil, then added a couple of cloves of garlic and half an onion (halved with the skin still on). Lots of salt and pepper, then a litre of chicken stock is pored in... I also added a couple of dried birds-eye chillies for fun.

Once the stock was in I added the two ears of corn, halved, and let them boil in the soup. Once tender (about 8 mins) I withdrew them, ran them under cold water and "de-kerneled" them by slicing lengthways in about 4-5 strokes. I then took the chicken out and de-skinned and de-boned it, and shredded it. Whilst corn and chicken-less I cooked the rice noodles in the soup.

I strained the soup to extract the noodles and onion chunks (and removed the skins at this point [they add colour to the soup]). I put the noodles in a bowl and replaced the soup, chicken and corn into the pan to warm through again. Then served. Then said "yummy!".

Sunday, December 03, 2006

All Day English Breakfast Lasagne

Catchy title hey?

I promised Ivonne, of the Cream Puff variety, that I would make this dish one day. She might have dared me... who can remember?

I used chipolatas, Danish bacon, black pudding, boiled egg, mushrooms and tomatoes (well the sauce had them :-)) No beans though, I hope I don't loose any points. I precooked all the good stuff first, and most of it made it into the lasagne... I gave in to temptation... sue me :-P

Now I've never used this dish before for a lasagne, and since I don't measure anything it was all going to be fun getting it all in there.

As it turned out, the crispy bits were the best!

Mozzarella (left over from lunch) and parmegianno to top it off. It tasted goooooooooood, how else does lasagne taste?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Caesar Salad

I had some anchovies left over from the weekend, so I was thinking what I could use them for. In a flash of pure (what would eventually be recognised as) self-hate I thought Caesar salad!

I got this recipe from Gino from UKTVFOOD. The salad was the best I've ever had, though it means I'll have to eat salad for days because I made so much dressing! It's day two and it's getting a liiiiittle boring ;-)

I whacked it into my food processor and a minute (or two) later I had this:

It came out like (home made) mayonnaise, consistency-wise, and like Caesar dressing taste wise. Ok, I am lying here, I've never chosen to have Caesar salad in a restaurant so how would I know what it tastes like? I may have to compare now though... and have a massive steak to balance all those nasty salad leaves.

Along with some crispy fried bacon and a few croutons it was pretty darn good (the first day...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Quick lamb koftas with minty yoghurt

Another recipe hemmed in by TV programmes or a football match (we lost... Spanish refs are [censored for ridiculous accusations]).

First the onions were diced finely and fried in quite a dry pan until the edge was taken off, and they browned a little. They were dumped onto my chopping board and spread out thinly to cool.

I placed chopped basil and coriander into a bowl, along with organic minced lamb. The onions were added along with finely chopped garlic. To that I added freshly ground cumin, cayenne pepper, ground turmeric and paprika.

That was all mixed thoroughly by squeezing it together by hand (you might want a bowl of hot, soapy water nearby for afterwards :-)) (I didn't, D'oh!)

I made four patties from about 400g of mince. Two were left to mature over night in the fridge, two were fried then and there.

The yellow stuff you can see is turmeric coloured juice/fat (before you ask I had my cholesterol checked today and it was below the average for a Brit :-)) (which is not saying much! :-( )

I served the koftas on basmati with fresh coriander stirred through and chucked on top (presentation counts for nothing! The only reason you're seeing this recipe is that a Cream Puff nagged me :-P)

...and a minty yoghurt concoction. Greek yoghurt mixed with a dash of white wine vinegar, vanilla infused caster sugar and dried mint (they were out of the fresh stuff, and I used the last of mine on the rack of lamb at the weekend :-))

These are the babies I made yesterday and left to mature. They tasted pretty good for improvisation.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I C E & Pavlova's bitch

Shush! Don't mention the I-C-E.

Well that was our code to keep our "ickle" baby sister from hearing the 'must have' ice cream. Nowadays she's all grown up and has lost that craving for ice cream... HAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAHA

I used this recipe, from uktvfood again! Tamsin Day Lewis's recipe, who's a great cook of good, old fashioned, recipes. Even if I do find her hair disconcerting... anyway, that's enough about me!

This recipe calls for 4 egg yolks. Which means I have 4 egg whites to mess with. What better than Pavlova to go with my ice-cream. I used an average recipe again, but it still burnt! No idea what I'm doing wrong... though I suspect it's my gas oven... grrr

Still the top part could be salvaged! This is it sprinkled onto the I-C-E :-)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stir Fried Fusion

Again my choice of meal was governed by the time, I had 30 mins in between cookery shows :-D

I had a packet of assorted sea food, prawns, squid and muscles. They were fried in a little garlic oil and then drained (loads of water came out).

Rice noodles were boiled and drained.

The baby corn what quartered lengthways and fried in garlic and ginger. Then in went spring onions (scallions) and baby vine tomatoes.

To build the dish (:-)): Seafood, rice noodles, stir fried veg., rocket and fresh coriander. A little ground pepper and soy sauce and it was fit for a king.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Garlicy bread

This is "my" basic pizza dough with a few additions. I've added Gran Padano and dried oregano. And when I say my recipe, I mean Giorgio Locatelli's recipe of course :-)

I've described the pizza process before here. The topping consists of a few cloves of garlic, roughly bashed with a mortar and pestle, and then covered with some nice Greek olive oil I just bought from the market. A little on top, then some sea salt. I rolled this one quite thick to give it that nice doughy feel; with the oven on max and pizza stone nice an hot inside it was time to cook :-)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lacksa thing

If you've read the below fudge recipe you'll know I needed something basic and easy to put on while I fiddled with the unknown new recipe. I'd cooked this recently but not bothered to blog it since it was soooo simple and I'd done something like it before.

However, following recent feedback I thought I'd try informing readers a little more. So I showed some intermediate stages in the fudge recipe and added a few little helping "oh, my god should this really happen?!" hints. I don't know if is should happen, at least you know it happened here!

So, quick easy lacksa, I think I've spelt it wrong but Wikipedia is too.. far... away......

Onions, sliced and fried in oil/butter until brown.
In with garlic and ginger grated, dried chilli chopped.
Next, baby corn on the cob, roughly chopped, and chucky chopped mushrooms next.
After they'd fried a little, in went a blend of toasted cumin and coriander seeds, ground fenugreek, turmeric and cayenne pepper.
I waited til the spices had had a chance to cook off the raw feel to them, then I added coconut milk and chicken stock.
Then in with the sweet snap peas, I suppose they could have gone in much nearer the end (I left mine for 45-50 mins) but I had fudge to do!

To serve, rice noodles and fresh coriander.

Macadamia fudge

I added a tracker recently, at the time of writing I've had 120 visitors since last week. It's nice to know someone is actually reading this stuff, I hope it doesn't all go to my head... from all the cakes I've been baking lately it's more likely to my stomach (not hips, I am a man after all).

Anyway... Fudge. I was recently wandering through the Arndale Market and found a stall that sells nuts, nuts and chocolate covered things. Being a sucker for expensive things I bought some raw macadamia nuts (and some roasted and salted ones to eat while relaxing later on ;-)). I thought it would be nice to try a little kind of toffee thing, I've never done toffee or anything like it before. I trawled for recipes and decided on this one, because a) it was in British measures I could readily adapt and b) because it was the simplest I found. So after buying a thermometer yesterday I thought I'd give it a whirl tonight. I cooked a very simple Lacksa type thing so I could concentrate on this new recipe (see above).

Once I'd followed the recipe (wow, that was a LOT of sugar!) and it had finally reached soft ball (took ages!) I let it rest for a few minutes (in which time I ran for my camera)...

(looks yummy hey? ;-)) ...then stirred in the [saucepan] bashed, toasted nuts. Stirred until thickened and then poured it into a makeshift container: pyrex dish coated with a silicon baking sheet.
And viola: (this is when it's still pretty hot and molten. It solidifies pretty quick... if you leave a bit of a plate to test :-)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blueberry Brownies

Friends at work have been demanding blueberry muffins from me. They're not happy with chocolate fudge cake and chocolate cheesecake, ooooh no! It was even free! And yet they demand more. A lesser person would have given in, but I'm a bastion of pride (and hence numerous embarrassing falls) and elegance.

I used (dried) sour cherries in my cheesecake lately, and on inspection of the same isle of the local supermarket I found similar dried fruits, yes, you guessed it, blueberries. Now, Marks and Spencers like to import their "fresh" blueberries from somewhere suitably far away (and hence pumping: ozone eating chemicals into the air (hence the greenhouse effect accelerating); and at the same time particulates which block the suns rays from the earth (hence, paradoxically, negating the said heating effect)) I thought it would be better to get the dried ones... that, er, i didn't check where they came from... er, so yeah, ignore my previous rant...

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book The River Cottage Year, or some such, has a recipe for brownies and cherry sauce. While I used the recipe for the brownies, I decided to chop up the blueberries and chuck them straight into the mix.

You can see the results here... if you look very closely you can hear me salivating :-D

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Swirly Cheesecake

Yes, more cheesecake! Got a problem there...? No? Good :-)

I used this recipe on this occasion, again from UKTVFood. I hope they don't charge :-S

I made some adjustments to the recipe as it was set out, most were on purpose (D'Oh!), I didn't put the sugar in the choc, but put it all in the general mix. What difference that make nobody will ever know... or more importantly, care. :-)

The other thing I added, this time on purpose!, was chopped dried cherries. Why not? The texture of my other cakes was lovely and smoothe, this will be as smooth apart from the chewy bits :-) I could have soaked them in a liquer or something, but I don't have any cheap stuff and I'm not going to put in £40 whisky/brandy in there, I'd prefer to drink it thanks!

This next pic shows the huge chasm I put into it... *ahem*

Well the deli I was in earlier had one so... :-) Gotta fly Nanny McPhee is... er, Die Hard is just starting!!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Choccy Cake

Ivonne made her pound cake and it inspired me. I've adapted that recipe and merged it with this one from UKTVFood. Mine's not as well finished as Cream P's but when is it ever? :-)

I don't have a round thingie, so I just used a normal cake time, and instead of making two thinner ones I made one large one. This was due to the fact that I'm lazy, there's less washing up and I only have one this size :-) That pic is of the botton, I flipped it so it is easier to spread the choccy onto.

My topping was a bit like Ivonne's, it's just cream and chocolate... oh, and a bit too much Couvoisier Brandy. Oh well, what's wrong with a little kick in your cake?

The result was a lovely moist choc cake, with a "subtle" brandy twist... I enjoyed mine with lots of cream :-)

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I got a little tipsy on Friday after work, which isn't a bad thing, until you wake up with the vague image of you at a supermarket checkout...

Luckily I did buy some real food and not just chips and dip! But since I wasn't planning on buying ribs I didn't really have a recipe on my mind. As fate would have it Catesa logged on as I was recipe hunting and she was nice enough to confide in me her family recipe. Not the secret sauce of course but at least I had a model to follow.

I par-boiled the sweet little things in salted water for about 10 minutes, then removed them and let them cool a little. In the meantime, I mixed some organic ketchup with Worcestershire sauce, oregano, some of the boiling liquid, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper.

I left the ribs in the "barbecue" sauce overnight, then roasted them in the oven for 30 minutes.

Eat with gusto and lots of wipes :-)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cold salmon fajitas

Looking quite yummy no? They tasty very yummy.

I bought honey smoked salmon chuncks (not a can in sight!) to go into this little dish (inspired by the one and only Catesa [she eats her weight in salmon every day, true fact!]). I had some creme fraiche left over from my previously blogged dishes, so I mixed a couple of spoon fulls with diced cucumber, thyme, parsley and the salmon chunks.

The I pressed my torti... ok, you got me... I opened a packet of mini tortillas and wrapped them up.

Simple. An lovely too.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Salchicha al vino with creme fraiche

Again I've nicked this from Nigel Slater, though I've adapted it somewhat to fit what I had in the "magic" fridge.

I used Toulouse sausages, which have a high herb content, but use what you have to hand (that's Nazca's motto I think :-)).

First I sweated/fried off an onion, and a sliced stick of celery in a saucepan. When nice and see-through I added the de-skinned sausage lumps and browned them off. The sausage should stick to the pan (mine doesn't have a non-stick surface) which creates lovely crusty/caramelised bits of sausage. At this point I threw in garlic, dried chili, 1/2 red pepper and sliced chestnut mushrooms. Once they'd had a chance to warm through I chucked in the white wine (before the bits stuck to the pan burnt, but after the mushrooms had visibly started to cook), I used enough to just cover the contents of the pan.

At this point I also added thyme (because I have a huge wad of it) and parsley (because I had a huge wad of it). But oregano would be nice too. S*d it, just whack any herbs in, how bad can it be?

Once the wine had reduced to about half (but more importantly, the rice had cooked) I put a spoon full of creme fraiche into the mix and stirred it in... 30 secs later it was ready to serve.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Puff of inspiration

I wasn't going to have Chilli this weekend, until I saw a certain blog. I haven't had chilli for ages I thought.

So a tub of creme fraiche, and some steak mince later... viola as they say in Peckham (Only Fools and Horses joke there).

Onions, garlic, dried chilli, Farmers' Market steak mince, paprika, cayenne pepper, tins of italian tomatoes and a touch of water. Oh... creme fraiche and crispy pitta. Sorted. You'll have to imagine the chives.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chicken in pesto soup

For this recipe you need lots of spring onions and basil that is getting older than the use by date. My usual scatter-gun approach to shopping went awry again, but from mistakes usually come strokes of genius... but er, I think time will have to tell on this one I think.

To use up my basil I made a quick pesto with the basil, spring onions and garlic. I drizzled in the olive oil while it was being blended. I put that in the fridge over night as I cooked the stir fry that night... hence the monge tout and baby corn you can see above :-)

I browned two big chicken legs in a sauce pan, and added chicken stock once the pieces had had a chance to work off the fat from the skin. After about 30-45 minutes (I was watching football and reading a book so lost track of the time), I removed the chicken and turned up the heat. In went a bottle of Riesling (minus a glass ;-)) and I left it to reduce to about 2/3.

I separated the chicken pieces whilst the "pesto" was added along with the left over monge tout and baby corn. I also had some left-over rice* and decided to add that with the chicken seconds before serving.

It turned out quite nice, though it was missing that je nais se quois to properly cap it off I think. There again, maybe it was just too much fusion cooking, it is after all two left-over meals and chicken pieces. A dish too far maybe.

There was certainly nothing at the bottom of my bowl though :-)

*from the day before stir fry (salmon steak with vegetable rice [fired onions, peppers, garlic etc and then rice and water, you get the idea])

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Duck Soup

What do you mean you can't see the duck?! Oh yeah, it was a duck cured sausage that I used. Did I not mention that?

I diced a red onion and fried in a little bit of butter... ok, a good wedge. Once they'd started to caramelise I added large chunks of the duck sausage and a couple of cloves of roughly sliced garlic. Once they'd had a few minutes to start the fat melting I added a large carrot (quartered length-ways) and about a litre of chicken bouillon.

I had soaked a mix of dried lentils, peas and other assorted "healthy" bits in water over-night, they went in next; along with some dried porcini mushrooms. To be honest I think the mushrooms didn't taste of much in the end, I think they must have surrendered their flavour to the wonderful background taste though.

After exactly 45 minutes (i.e. the first have of West Ham V Aston Villa) I removed the large chunks of sausage and chopped them up a little and mixed them back in.

The first serving was much broth-ier than the encore I took the picture of above.

Like me, what it lacks in looks it makes up for in outrageous talent... ha... I, er, mean... taste.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pockets of goodness

I was watching Nigel Slater the other day and he came up with this really simple recipe involving goats cheese, pesto and puff pastry.

We had a French market in Manchester this weekend, I went down on friday and picked up some gorgeous blue brie and a nice lump of goats cheese. The blue brie was harvested for dinner on friday night (I even bought some fancy crackers: rosmary, wheat and, cheese and walnut). There's not much of that left now :-)

For the pocket you place the goats cheese in the centre of a square of puff pastry, dollop on a spoon of pesto (Giovenese in my case [bought at an extortionate price from Marks and Spencers; it was only quite average too!]). Egg wash the outer sides and fold towards the middle, then egg wash the outer side.

As you can see I had some pastry left over (it was store bought). Luckily I had picked up some fine pork sausages at the farmers' market and I had one left over from breakfast (which was accompanied by black pudding and fried eggs :-))

So a quick sausage roll was produced. Still more pastry left over: so the smaller of the parcels is just pesto and parmegianno regianno rolled into a sausage.

20 mins at ~210C yielded what you can see here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Er, yeah... oranges and just more oranges. Six to be exact, I hand... used my processor to squeeze them. The green bits are little slices of fresh mint, the deeper orange bits are orange peel.

It's definitely the healthiest thing that pint glass has ever seen, I can guarantee that!!!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

BBQ and other stuff

I've been off on holiday really and not really taking care to blog.

I was traveling through France with my parents, a very businesslike road trip. Above is the BBQ I had at my bro's place on the way to France. I bought loads of sausages at the farmers' market and took them down; Toulouse sausage, pheasant and venison, Angus beef sausages, and some rare breed pork sausages. We bought a disposable BBQ and along with a few bottles of red had a great time. They even convinced me to whip up some burgers, they didn't have to lobby too hard!

We were staying in Canterbury after that, before going through the Channel Tunnel to France. Above is Canterbury cathedral as seen through one of it's streets and behind the main(?) gate. We had a terrific roast buffet near there, turkey, ham, beef... and all you can eat veg. :-)

Then it was onto France, we stopped the first night in Chartres. Nice little town - I've done this all before, France I mean, but about 20 years ago! I don't remember much. That night I had fish soup, wonderful. And tasted my dad's onion soup (we're in France so I won't call it French onion soup :-)). I had the roast duck with pomme frites. These guys know how to make frites. I'm not sure what I prefer more, the great British chip, or the French Fry (not the American version obviously). Oh, it has a cathedral too:

That second pic is stitched, that's why it looks a little funny aspect wise :-)

Lunch was my favourite time, we'd pull into a supermarket and pick up some salami or other meats, and a few tomatoes n' olives. Maybe a little cheese too. On the motorway we'd pull into a picnic site and break the baguette up and just lunch away. Simplicity is best :-)

We came into Toulouse then, we stayed on the outskirts and ate in the hotel for ease. I had what looked like (and tasted) like a blood sausage. It was OK, but coming from Lancashire it wasn't a patch on what I could get back home. Still the salad buffet was nice, mmm prawns.

Then it was on to Madrid, a nice little trip through and over the Pyrenees.

Once in Madrid we went out looking for somewhere to eat, luckily there was a nice Gallegan restaurant next to the hotel. We had a starter of pate (of some sort), Chanterelles in garlic, stuffed peppers and tomato bread/toast. Very very nice. And we finished of with steaks. It was a long hard journey just sitting in the back of the car being driven around. ;-)

Needless to say I felt a little heavy after the week of debauchery (I haven't mentioned the brandy, wine and whisky!), so I was a little uncertain when I saw the small passenger jet that was to take me home, luckily I made it back to tell my story.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Chicken... thing

Bear in mind that what you see in these photos is a dish after I'd already partly tucked into. I was hungry I only remebered after a while :-)

Organic chicken legs dipped in a mixture of flour, paprika, cumin and cayenne (S&P too). I would have put in other spices, dried chilli for example, but I was between TV shows so I was rushing (hence the ripped parsley for the potatoes :-)). I dusted it off and roasted it for 40 mins.

The ickle potatoes I simply boiled in salted water and smothered them (after crushing) in butter and parsley.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Potato Gratin Dauphinoise

I had lots of potatoes left over from the roast rib eye at the weekend. I like to kill as many birds with as few stones usually, so I decided to whack the remaining spuds into one big glorious dish. I also had some cream left unused from said steak bonanza; just in case I wanted a nice creamy sauce for my meat.
I decided on dolphin potatoes because it's rich, creamy and, as Nigella would say, soul food. My soul is perfect at the moment, but you never know when it might need a top up so I decided to practice... just in case.

Plus I have a new toy, food processor, and this dish involved lots of thin chopping. Perfick. After saving hours on the chopping of potatoes I made it all back on the washing up. Hey ho.

The red/purple bits you may be able to pick out are red onion slices. What you won't see is the garlic and large amount of black pepper (and salt). I'm not one for bland food.

I buttered the ceramic dish and pre-heated the oven to 180C. I packed in the potato slices, onion and garlic nice and tight.

In a saucepan I heated a mix of cream and milk until simmering point. There might have been more cream than milk... :-) This gets poured onto the potato mix slowly until it just reaches the upper layer. You want a few bits of potato sticking out to crisp up. (I think I had just enough to cover the mix too much, hence no (too) crunchy bits, but also no waste).

Then added some dolcelatte (birds/stones again) and butter blobs onto the top then slammed it in the oven. I was gonna leave it for about an hour... but checked it 10 mins before and it was done. Christmas come early!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Got an eye for a good piece of meat

Had a long day yesterday, music festival, night on the dancefloor (and yes, Naz is cringeworthy while struting his stuff) and then I came home and sat through Utd's game against Ajax (I'd recorded while I was out). We won btw :-)

When I woke up this afternoon I took this beauty out of the fridge and let it warm up. It was about 3-4 inches thick I guess. To go with it I put a simple marinade together. I bashed some rosemary in a mortar and pestle (with salt) then added a little olive oil. I pan fried the Rib Eye joint quickly to get the cooking process going (it helps break the fat down [it doesn't "seal" the meat, that's a myth]). I covered the joint in dijon mustard, pepper and the rosemary mix and bunged it in the oven for a few hours. Served with roast taters and digest for a week!

Sunday, July 30, 2006