Monday 20 March 2017
Satay chicken noodles with shredded cavalo nero
This recipe is from the “everyday meals” section of the February 2017 Waitrose magazine. It was so badly written that I couldn’t bear the thought of putting it in my recipe files as-is, and vowed to re-write it. Come on Waitrose, who would weigh peanut butter?
Serves 2, generously.
The recipe claims 10 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to cook. My experience – at least double the prep time.
- 300g pack of Amoy straight to wok udon noodles. I’m sure other udon noodles are available, but these do nicely and are quick, which is ideal for a midweek meal. You’ll find them in black packets in the noodle aisle.
- 2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1cm slices (not too long slices either – you’ll want to pick them up with chopsticks).
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin.
- 3 dessertspoons crunchy peanut butter. The recipe calls for 75g, but I reckon three spoons is about right and a dessert spoon fits nicely in the jar. Make sure you have crunchy peanut butter – with nice chunks in it. Spend a few pennies and get some good quality stuff, like the Whole Earth one.
- generous pinch dried chilli flakes.
- vegetable oil for frying – a dash of sunflower oil is probably best.
- 1 large onion, cut into bite sized chunks. Red onion works best because the colour is pretty, but that isn’t essential. It took me a while to work out how best to cut this to get the right effect, but for an average sized red onion, if you cut it into six or eight radial segments after removing the skin, you will get pieces that are about right.
- about 2.5cm of fresh ginger, finely shredded. The recipe calls for 20g – again, who weighs ginger? I shred mine using a coarse cheese grater, which gets the right result. You can always increase or decrease the amount of ginger according to taste.
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced.
- 200g pack of cavalo nero, finely shredded. Waitrose offer cavalo nero in two forms – either whole leaves or chopped. The whole leaves are better, because you want to remove the midrib from the bottom part (bottom third?) of each leaf, as it is not tender enough to cook in the short time this stuff is going to be in the pan. Just slice the leaf crossways after removing the midrib to give thin slices no more than 1cm wide. I’m sure that you could use Savoy cabbage instead of cavalo nero – we also did it with pak choi, which was ok, but not quite as good.
- You will also need a large frying pan or wok, a microwave dish, two bowls, tongs and a little water just boiled in the kettle.
- You can dress the dish with sweet chilli sauce and/or toasted sesame seeds.
- This recipe is quick to cook, so make sure that you have done all the chopping first and have all ingredients at hand. Once you get started, you won’t have time to stop and slice an onion.
- Put the chicken in a bowl with 1tbsp soy sauce and 1tsp cumin. Stir so that the chicken is coated and leave to stand for a few minutes whilst you do the next steps.
- Heat the noodles in a microwave according to the pack instructions and set aside after giving them a little stir so they aren’t one big slab!
- In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp cumin with the peanut butter and chilli flakes. Add a few spoonfuls (about 5 tbsp) of freshly boiled water and stir to help you get a good sauce consistency.
- Heat a little oil in the pan/wok over a high heat. Fry the chicken until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Heat a little more oil in the pan, keeping the heat high. Fry the onion pieces for about 1 minute (don’t worry if they fall apart). Add the garlic and ginger and allow to sizzle for 15 seconds or so, then add the cavalo nero, chicken and noodles. Turn over a few times using the tongs – you want the cavalo nero to still have all its texture and not have gone soft/sloppy – really you’re just warming it through.
- Add the sauce to the pan, stir everything one more time and then serve, with your sweet chilli sauce and/or sesame seeds if you have them (not essential).
Eat with chopsticks for added sauce-on-shirt value.
Friday 1 April 2016
Two recipes for gingerbread from my mother’s archive
Dug out by Dad. I’m going to have to try them both and see which works best. I’ve preserved the Imperial measurements.
Ingredients for recipe 1:
- 8 oz self raising flour
- 4 oz black treacle
- 4 oz golden syrup
- 3 oz butter
- 2 oz demerara sugar
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 egg
- a pinch of salt
- 2.5 fl oz milk
Melt the butter, syrup, treacle and sugar together in a pan – not too hot.
Meanwhile, sieve the flour, ginger and salt together in a bowl. Beat the egg together with the milk in another bowl.
Combine all the ingredients and pour into a greased loaf tin.
Bake for 45 minutes at gas mark 3 on a low shelf (that’s 160C in a conventional oven, 140C in a fan oven).
Ingredients for recipe 2:
- 12 oz self raising flour
- 4 oz dripping (I wonder if butter could be used instead?)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 5 fl oz milk (that’s a quarter pint)
- 3 oz golden syrup
- 3 oz black treacle
- 7 oz granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
Grease a 8 inch square tin (Mum’s notes say “or round”, but I’m not sure how that would work).
Warm the syrup, treacle, fat and sugar together in a pan until it dissolves together. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, sieve the flour, bicarb and ginger together in a large bowl. Beat the egg and milk together in another bowl.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and carefully pour in the sugar/treacle mix. Then add the egg/milk mixture.
Beat the mixture until smooth and put into the tin.
Bake for 30 minutes at 325F (160 Celsius) and then reduce to 300F (150 Celsius) for a further 30 minutes.
Wednesday 15 April 2015
Sausages and lentils
Time for a recipe, inspired by Giorgio OnTheTelly. This is a tasty dish and also costs about 3p to make – rather fitting for our times.
- 4 sausages. You want good meaty sausages to get the best outcome for this recipe, but we found it worked just fine with supermarket own brand ones. (If you want to cook with six, then just increase all the other ingredients by 50%).
- 1 smallish carrot – chopped reasonably finely.
- 2 smallish red onions – also chopped. You can use white onion if you like – we just like the colour.
- 1 celery stick – chopped as well.
- 170g lentils – you can use fancy pants lentils if you want, we used standard supermarket own brand jobs.
- 350ml passata – normally I object to using passata and would get a (cheaper) tin of tomatoes and mush them up, but for this recipe it is worth spending the extra pennies on passata.
- 500ml vegetable stock – make your own or use a cube, whatever.
- fresh sage and fresh rosemary – from your garden, of course. Don’t be stingy with this – you want enough to taste it.
- a little olive oil for frying (or you can use butter if you like); salt, pepper.
In a casserole, heat the oil/butter over a medium high heat and fry one chopped onion (not the other one – keep that aside for a moment) with the carrot and celery until a little browned.
Then add the lentils and the stock and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Whilst that is going on, fry the sausages in a pan until brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Fry the rest of the onion until golden in a little more oil/butter. Add the passata to the onion until warmed through. Return the sausages to the pan with the herbs and cook gently for 15 minutes.
Then, add the sausage/passata mixture to the lentil/vegetable mixture in the casserole and stir.
Serve with some crusty bread. You’ll find this remarkably filling.
Tuesday 4 February 2014
A recipe – spiced turkey-stuffed aubergines
Lifted shamelessly from the Waitrose magazine.
This makes enough for four people – or, as we tend to do, enough for two meals for two people (they keep in the fridge for a couple of days and re-heat nicely).
Per portion: 251 calories, plus the rice or couscous. It’s also low in saturated fat.
- 2 aubergines
- 250g turkey breast mince (they sell this in Waitrose. They also do thigh mince, which is cheaper but has more calories)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp harissa paste (again, Waitrose – get yourself a loyalty card and have a free coffee whilst you are there)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g soft dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- Half lemon, zest and juice
- 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt (we use low fat Greek yogurt – it’s thicker)
- A little olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
- Halve the aubergines lengthways. Score a 0.5cm border around the edge of each half and scoop out the flesh. Finely dice the flesh and set aside.
- Brush the insides of the aubergine shells with a little olive oil, place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat half a tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the turkey for 5 minutes.
- Then add the onion, garlic and diced aubergine and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Stir in the harissa paste, cinnamon and apricots and cook for a further minute.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and half the parsley. Taste and season if necessary.
- Fill the aubergine shells with the turkey mixture – there will be plenty to fill them quite generously.
- Return the shells to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- Spoon half a tbsp of yogurt onto each one and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.
- Serve with rice or couscous. And possibly a glass of wine, although that rather ruins the virtuous qualities of this dish.
Friday 13 May 2011
By popular request, here is the recipe that I use for producing delicious home-made crème brûlée, lifted wholesale from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. Seriously, if you haven’t already got this book on your kitchen shelf, you need to get it. Now. It totally encompasses my approach to the kitchen – big flavours, big foods, big cookery, big swearing and big drinking – and is the most-used cookbook on our shelf. This dish, by the way, scores 10 on the impress-your-guests scale, as do many in the book. Most of the recipes are easy or require only moderate skills, but quite a few of them require a fair bit of time.
- 900ml double cream (we’re not calorie counting here, ok?)
- 1 vanilla pod, whole (no vanilla essence, or else you’ll be shot)
- 170g granulated sugar
- 10 egg yolks
- 85g brown sugar
You will also need 6 or 8 ramekins, a big deep baking pan (or some other ovenproof dish that is at least an inch deep – you’re going to make a bain-marie) and a propane torch. You’ll need an electric whisk, large mixing bowl, sharp knife and a saucepan. Pre-heat your oven to 150 Celsius/300F/gas mark a-bit-less-than-half-way.
First, put the cream into a large saucepan on the hob. Split the vanilla pod along its length using a very sharp knife. Scrape the insides of the pod into the cream and then dump the pod itself in as well. Add half the granulated sugar to the cream, stir thoroughly and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
Whilst your mixture comes to the boil, place the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the remaining granulated sugar. Keep whisking until the mixture is pale yellow and slightly foamy.
Fish the vanilla pod out of the cream and throw the pod away. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and slowly, gradually whisk it into the yolk mixture. You must do it slowly and whisk constantly, otherwise the mixture will curdle.
Place the ramekins in the baking pan and fill the pan with cold water so that it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins. Divide the custard mixture evenly between the ramekins.
Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes (I sometimes find it takes a little longer – depends on your oven), until the top is set but still “jiggly”.
Remove the whole thing from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature (take the ramekins out of the bain-marie as soon as they are cool enough to handle). You can store them easily at this stage – I’ve found that, once cooled and covered in cling film, they keep in the fridge for a couple of days. If you are planning a dinner party, be canny and do everything up to this stage the day before.
Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of brown sugar over the top of each custard. Carefully run the propane torch flame over the top of each one, just enough to caramelize the sugar (I like to leave a little sugar un-torched around the edge). Allow to sit for a moment so that the sugar sets into a crunchy shell coating across the top and then serve to applause and hooplas from your guests.
Now, what do you do with ten egg whites?