Thursday, 17 November 2011

Slow cooked herby lamb shoulder from This Morning

A lazy Sunday dish if ever there was one. After a little prep you pop this perfectly paired duo in the oven and forget about them until suppertime.  Serve this with the cabbage gratin from my accompaniments section.

I reckon this one is my most popular dish from This Morning and rightly so its unbelievably easy and tasty!

1kg (approx.) boned shoulder of lamb or mutton (it it's rolled, unroll it)
1 400g14oz tin of chopped tomatoes
Fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme
Fresh bay
1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled and bashed with a knife (to crush it but not chop it)
200ml6¾fl oz lamb stock
200ml6¾fl oz white wine
Salt and pepper
Olive or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.
Start with the lamb. Season it liberally with salt and pepper and a good lick of olive or vegetable oil.
Get an ovenproof, lidded pan (or casserole dish) smoking hot and seal the lamb on all sides.
Now add the bashed head of garlic (don’t worry about the skins), the herbs, wine, stock and bubble away for a minute on a high heat, it will smell fantastic!
Add the tomatoes, season liberally, put a lid on the pan and place in the preheated oven for three hours minimum. The lamb can stay in for up to seven hours so don’t worry about timings as long as it's in for at least three.

Sticky BBQ pork ribs with bean salad from This Morning

A good BBQ sauce recipe is golddust! Ive been using this one for years and it never fails!  It works just as well with any meat and is a perfect dipping sauce for nachos, corn on the cob and lots more BBQ favourites!

Serves 6
For the ribs:
3 racks (approx. 550g each) of pork spareribs (You want to serve around 3 ribs per person)

1 onion, finely diced
80g soft brown sugar
80ml dry sherry
1 inch piece of grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves crushed
200ml tomato ketchup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100ml soy sauce
1 pinch of chilli flakes
1tsp ground cumin

For the salad:
1 can of your favorite beans, i like butterbeans, drain and rinse them.
A handful of vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large courgette, diced  
1 small red onion , chopped very finely
Coriander and parsley , chopped or torn
The juice of 1 lemon
1 red chilli, seeds in if you can stand it, finely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1 tsp ground cumin


For the sauce heat a little oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion gently until its soft.  Add the garlic, cumin, chilli flakes and ginger and cook for 1 minute, still on low.
Turn the heat upto medium, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer uncovered on low heat for 15 minutes, until thick.  The marinade can be made in advance and keeps perfectly well in the fridge, covered or in Tupperware.

While this is doing put your ribs in a pan of boiling water and simmer for the same time it takes you to make the marinade (around 20 minutes)

Pat your ribs dry and brush generously with the marinade.

To cook the ribs, BBQ for 20 minutes over hot coals; or roast on an oven set to 220 (gas mark 7) for 40 minutes.

Whichever way you cook them brush them with more marinade and turn them as they cook, at least twice!

Making the salad couldn’t be simpler, gently fry the courgette until golden in a little oil and then add all the ingredients to a large bowl.

Toss everything to combine then taste the salad, does it need perking up with more lemon, salt or pepper? If so go for it.  You can make the salad in advance, its best served room temperature for the flavors to mingle so take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Serve the charred sticky ribs with the bean salad and an extra bowl of the marinade on the side for dipping.

Messy fingers ahoy – don’t forget the napkins!

Spiced red wine poached pears with shortbread

A fabulous end to any festive dinner party. This is so quick and simple to make especially if you have pre made the mulled wine.

Serves 4
1 quantity of mulled wine, see separate recipe here
4 firmish but ripe dessert pears (very ripe is no good)

For the shortbread:
100 g plain flour
50 g caster sugar
100 g butter
50 g semolina

Clotted cream ice cream to serve

Peel the pears and pop them in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice, this will stop them going brown.  When you are ready to use them cut the bottoms off so they stand up easily.
Put the pears in a deep saucepan and cover with the mulled wine. 
You can roll the pears on their sides which will make them easier to cover.
Turn the heat onto medium and when it’s simmering poach the pears for around 30 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the flesh.
You don’t want them too soft they should still have a little bite to them.

For the shortbread mix together the butter sugar and flour in a food processor until a smooth dough is formed.  Don’t over work the mix or the shortbread won’t be short.  Just mix it until it comes together.
Roll or pat out and pop on a lightly greased baking sheet. 
Bake on 160 / gas mark 2 for 25 minutes
When the shortbread comes out of the oven it will be soft don’t worry it hardens on cooling. When its soft is the time to cut it into your desired shapes or do the traditional fork prick marks all over. 
Sprinkle with caster sugar and serve with the pears.
A little of the syrup drizzled over the pears always goes down a treat.

Image courtest of and i just LOVE it.

Traditional mulled wine

Everyones winter favourite and so simple to make, choose this on a winters evening, Christmas eve wrapping presents is my preferred time, or when your putting the tree up.

Serves 4-5
1 bottle of full bodied red wine
1 vanilla pod
75g of caster sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
4 cloves
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, peel only (use a potato peeler to remove thick strands of the peel)

Add a good glass full of the wine to a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
Boil viciously until the wine has reduced by half.  This is really important to infuse the wine with all the flavours.
Add the rest of the wine, turn the heat off and leave for an hour or so to fully infuse.
This method ensures only a small amount of the alcohol in the wine is burnt off (in the initial infusion)
To serve warm gently, never boil.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Trifle with a winterberry sorbet

Who doesn’t love a good trifle, its my favourite dessert of all time.  The textures in my version are to die for.  I make a the trifle every Christmas, it acts as a huge centre piece in my nanas old crystal bowl but it looks equally as good as individual portions at a dinner party in wine glasses.

If you think the sorbet is too much of a pain in the arse to make, and lets face it sometimes it is, just buy some or top the trifle with the berries.

makes 1 large or around 6 small

For the sponge:
1 shop bought Madeira cake
Seeded blackberry jam
50mls minature of sherry

For the custard:
3 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
150mls of double cream
150mls whole milk
30g cornflour

For the cream:
300mls whipping cream
50g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod

For the nuts:
100g Granulated sugar
Mixed nuts inclusing hazelnuts and whole almonds

For the sorbet:
100 g caster sugar
200 ml water
2 tsp glucose syrup
500g berries, (fresh or frozen)
squeeze of lemon juice

For the sorbet:

Put the sugar, 100ml of the water and the glucose in a saucepan. Dissolve the sugar over medium heat without stirring. Bring to the boil and simmer briskly for 5-7 minutes until the bubbles thicken and become syrupy. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
Put the blackberries in another pan. Squeeze some lemon juice over them and simmer over low heat for a minute or two until soft.
Put the blackberries in a blender and purée until smooth.
Push the purée through a fine sieve to remove all the seeds.
 Add the cooled syrup and remaining water to the purée and whisk together.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker. Process for about 20 minutes according to the manufacturer's instructions, then freeze.

For the custard:
Whisk the egg yolks, corn flour and sugar until light and mousse like.
In a saucepan warm the cream and milk with the split scraped vanilla pod.
Pour the warm mix over the egg mixture whisking constantly.  If you don’t whisk all the time the eggs will scramble.
Add everything back to the pan and warm very gently, stirring constantly over a medium heat.
The custard will thicken quite rapidly because the eggs are cooking.
Once its reached your desired thickness (and it really is upto you how you like it) turn the heat off, pass the custard through a sieve into a bowl and cover with clingfilm (this stops a skin forming)
Chill until you need it.  You can make the custard upto a day in advance.

For the nuts:
In a saucepan heat the sugar over a medium to high heat until its melted, do not stir the sugar, this is a vital stage of making caramel.
Once all the sugar is melted you can begin to swirl the pan and turning the heat down to low continue to swirl the pan until the caramel reaches a deep amber colour, you don’t want it to burn so be ready to take the pan off the heat at a seconds notice.
Once the colour is achieved pour the caramel out onto a stainless steel surface, or the back of a baking sheet thats been lightly greased.
Immediately add the nuts so they stick in the caramel.
Leave the mix to cool completely.
When its cool it should easily peel and break off the surface.
Snap shards and keep to one side until your ready to use them, that is if you can stop eating all of them! Very addictive..

Now you have all the components ready its a 5 minute job to assemble..

In the bottom of your trifle dish add a nice thick slice of the Madeira cake which has been spread with the jam.
Drizzle the sherry over the cake.
Add the custard and smooth out.
Lightly whip the cream until billowey and unctuous.  Add a little sugar as it thickens fort sweetness.
Add the cream on top of the custard upto the top of the dish and smooth out completely flat, i think it looks better like this for presentation.
Add a quinellle of the sorbet and top with the shards of brittle.
Eat enjoy and never serve a small portion!

5 spice duck with crunchy noodle salad and homemade sweet chilli sauce

This is my taste of the orient.  So fresh and tasty.  Duck is such a seasonal treat, readily available from September to January.  The richness of the meat compliments the sharpness of the sauce and the freshness of the salad.

serves 2
For the duck:
2 duck breasts
Salt and pepper
4tsp 5 spice powder

For the salad:
1 carrot
½ small white cabbage
A small handful of sugar snap peas
A small handful of beansprouts
1 sheet of medium egg noodles
2tsp Sesame oil
2tsp Sesame seeds
1tsp honey
2tsp soy sauce

For the sauce:
225g caster sugar
150ml water
1 red chilli and 1 green, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed
1inch piece of ginger grated
1 stalk lemon grass
2tbsp fish sauce
1 lime, juice only
1 small spring onion finely chopped
1 very small bunch of corriander, finely chopped

Begin with the sauce as it can be made well in advance.

To make the sauce:
Place the sugar and water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes a syrup. 
Remove from the heat, strain to remove all the bits and add the fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice.
Leave to cool, then stir in the spring onions and very finely diced coriander and refrigerate until required.  You can add more chilli for colour if you want but i like it clear.

For the duck:
Pre heat the oven to 200 / gas mark 6.

Score the skin of the duck to help render the fat.

Season the duck with the salt and pepper and the five spice powder on the skin and flesh.

In a COLD frying pan place the duck skin side down and then the heat on.

Set a timer for 3 minutes and cook the duck without touching it.

All the fat will render out of the skin slowly giving you a delicious crisp edible skin.

after 3 minutes flip the duck and fry for 1 minute on the other side.

After 1 minute transfer the duck to the hot oven and cook for 3 minutes in which time you can prepare the salad.

When the duck is cooked its ESSENTIAL you leave it to rest for at least 5 minutes to help the meat relax to make it really juicy and tender.

For the salad:
Cook the egg noodles as per the packet instructions, its usually simmer for 10 minutes until tender.

Cut the carrots into quarters lengthways then using a sharp knife, a food processor attachment or a mandolin slice the carrot as thinly as possible, so you have long thin slivers of carrot.  Do the same with the cabbage. 

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

For more flavour gently toast your sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat until they are golden.  This releases lots more flavour than adding them un toasted.

Serve the salad drizzled with some of the prepared sauce with the duck sliced on the side and an extra little dish of dipping sauce on the side.  Totally food heaven!  Leave the duck out for a packed lunch staple!

Risotto with pan fried scallop, black pudding and poached duck egg

This is a delicious dinner party dish or a simple evening supper, its one of the dishes i do most at cooking shows because it shows a lot of technique and gives loads of tips.  Scallops arenyt as expensive as people seem to think either. i reckon around 80p for a good king scallop is a bargain.

Leave out the scallops for a simple supper or maybe substitute with some nice haddock or mackerel?

serves 2
1tsp butter and 1tsp olive oil
1 shallot finely diced
1 clove of garlic crushed
700mls fish stock
100g black pudding
50g Butter
50g of grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
200g risotto rice
100mls white wine

1 fresh duck egg. (no more than 2 weeks old)
1tbsp of white wine vinegar

2/3 king scallops per person, cleaned without roe

You want your risotto to be smooth and ozzy not stodgy and dry. 

Heat the stock in one pan.
In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the shallot and garlic, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. (this is commonly referred to as ‘sweating’.)

When the shallot and garlic have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it.

After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic.

Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

Once the wine has cooked into the rice and reduced by half, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside.

Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.

Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite.

Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well.
Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be.

Working quickly cook the egg and scallops as below.

Get a saucepan of water boiling with the vinegar added and also get a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil in it smoking hot (good idea to get these on a few minutes before so your ready to go as soon as the rice is done)

Crack the egg into a small cup and gently tip it into the pan of water and vinegar. Se the timer for 2 minutes to give you a nice soft poached egg.

While your egg is poaching, lighly season the scallops and add them to the hot pan along with the sliced black pudding, count to 1 and a half minutes then flip the scallops. 

Immediately turn the heat off, add a knob of butter, and baste the scallops for one final minute. 

This will give you perfectly cooked scallops every time.  Adjust the timings if the scallops are quite thin.

Serve the creamy ozzy risotto in a bowl with the scallops and black pudding on top and crown each plate with a soft poached egg and maybe a drizzle of the butter from the scallops pan.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Do i look like Tina Turner?

The wig debate rages on, so ive done a video of me taking my beehive out to show its not a wig.

here it is, enjoy, im just off to iron my "I told you so t.shirt".

Heres a little image montage of the beehive coming out with some step by step tips to how i got it in.

Before i begin heres a few tunes i can not stop spinning at the minute.

And my new sunglasses - ive been after a pair for years, im so fussy when it comes to shades, its probably because i think ive got a funny shaped heed.

So the hair, its 34 inches, all my own, straight no layers, never get it cut, dont even wash it if im honest.  When i do though i like to use Kerestase Bain de Force, it keeps my locks in tip top condition.  I use three of the range, the shampoo, conditioner and this heat activted serum for before i blow dry. 

Right boring bit over.

So to begin, the hair goes up into a top ponytail.

A donut is slipped over the ponytail - available from Boots etc for about two quid, they are fab and allow me to stick grips into my head at random and i know they will be fixed to something.

The second stage is to take sections of my ponytail and backcomb pulling them around in a bun.  I try to backcomb each section as 'fat' as possible. pulling the strands of hair to create a 'wall' of hair.

After all of my ponytail is backcombed, which usually takes around 5 minutes, its time to smooth everything out and tuck the ends in, pretty self explanitory.

its finished with a million haircrips and a good whack of hairspray.  I use a tailcomb to tidy any little bits and im good to go.  A pair of clean knickers over my head if i want to sleep with it in and thats about it.  No wig, no conspiracy, no Marge Simpson competition.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

EAT Festival Newcastle

This weekend is the return of the EAT Festival Newcastle.

IM doing various bits across the weekend including manning a chilli stall, where i'll be selling my homemade chuck steak chilli with nachos, salad and sour cream.

Next i'll have a stall just on the bottom of Northumberland St selling goods from the Beehive Bakery, expect cupcakes and brownies in all flavours.  Last year i sold out in 2 hours so im going well prepared.

Finally i'll be doing a demonstration in the chefs theatre, 2pm, im cooking an easy supper dish made from leftovers you might find in your fridge.  Come along and ask questions, put me on the spot and watch me burn myself as usual in soectacular fashion.

Either way you'll catch me sometime over the weekend im sure!

Im also planning on making little tajines of rosewater jellies for my customers to eat while perusing! YUM.

Theres more info about the EAT Festival here.

Cod and chorizo risotto

Cod and chorizo are culinary best friends, this is a really quick delicious supper, ready in under 30 minutes, give it a go with salmon or another fish, or leave the fish out completely, whatever you like!

If you want to splash out on your chorizo, check the Bath Pig, they are proper safe, best ive ever tasted, and they mail order.

1 tbsp olive oil
25g/1oz butter
1 onion or shallot, peeled, very  finely chopped
350g/12oz risotto rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli
150ml/5fl oz white wine
1 litre/1¾ pints chicken stock, hot (keep it hot in a pan on the hob)
75g/3oz parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g/7oz  chorizo, diced
2x 125g/4½oz fillets of cod
chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chorizo and fry until golden and its released its paprika juices.
Turn the heat right down and add the onion, stir to coat it in the fat, then sweat very gently for 8-10 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking, until the onions are softened but not coloured.
Add the rice and stir for 1-2 minutes, turn the heat up then pour in the wine.
The wine whould bubble and boil, thats exactly what your after.
Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the wine has been absorbed by the rice.
Add a ladleful of the hot stock to the rice and bring to a simmer. Stir regularly until all of the stock has been absorbed. Repeat this process until all of the stock has been used up and the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy. This should take 20-25 minutes.
Stir in the cheese, reserving a little for serving. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a knob of butter for flavour.
While the risotto is cooking, heat a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper and add the cod skin side down  and fry on a high heat for 3 minutes, don’t touch the fillet, just leave it skin side down.
Flip the fillets, turn the heat off and again set the timer for 3 minutes.  The fillets will cook in the residual heat of the pan.
The skin should be really crisp, sprinkle with a little salt and serve along side the risotto sprinkled with the chopped parsley.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Because its nice to be nice

Ive been lucky enough to have been sent a few items lately so its only fair they get a mention and a review.

First up i was sent a pot of Thai Taste Red Curry Paste.  I usually make my own paste however used this one as a quick tea fix, the paste was punchy and easy tyo use with plenty of flavour.  I sweated some onions in a pan then added a few tablespoons along with some chicken and a little coconut milk and simmered for around an hour, serving the finished dish with sticky rice.  When ive used pre bought pastes in the past ive had to top up the ginger/garlic/chilli to give a round flavour however this was spot on and made a perfect quick tea.

Next up we have Bottle Green cordial, you can find the brand in all good supermarkets, ive been a fan for ages, their winter spiced cordial which i served with hot water is out of this world, kind of like a none alcoholic mulled wine.  I drank buckets of the stuff over Winter.

I was sent a bottle of their new pomegranate cordial to try and it was beautiful, the kind of thing you would imagine drinking at Wimbledon.  Its light and super refreshing   Whatsmore the brand is doing its bit for charity.  The new range, featuring super stylish bottles are actually in support of Breast Cancer, check the web for more details or go buy a bottle and do your bit!

My final and favourite is Fancies cupcakes in Sheffield.  I was given a box after a recent visit and they were awesome, big enough to share, their buttercream is unreal, really light and creamy, almost like an Italian meringue.  If your in Sheffield check them out, they've got shops all over the city.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The softest confit of belly pork with skin roasted potatoes

This is one of those dishes where the quality of the ingredient speaks louder than anything! Which i LOVE as it yields absolute maximum flavour and minimum effort. I usually serve this with one of the following or sometimes a few of the following: mushroom fricasse, apple and onion veloute, cabbage and bacon, kentish apple tart, maderia roasting jus etc etc. Most of the recipes can be found under the acompaniments section however feel free to ask if theres something you cant find.   Below ive taken a pic of the potatoes i simply roasted to serve with the pork.  They were tossed in salt and pepper and olive oil with a little garlic and rosemary. Beautiful.

Serves 4
1kg belly pork
1 star anise
1teaspoon of corriander seeds
1 teaspoon if sea salt
Sprig of rosemary
½ teaspoon of whole black pepper corns
2 pints of duck or goosefat, if you dont have 2 pints use what you have and top the rest of the liquid up with vegetable oil.

Pre heat oven to gas mark 2
In a pestle and mortar grind the star anise, corriander seeds, salt and pepper into a fine dust.
Lay the pork skin side down and rub half of the mixture into the flesh.
Turn the pork over and rub the other half on the skin.
Place the pork in a roasting tin.
Warm the duck fat/oil mixture in a pan until its just simmering.
Pour over the pork (dont score the skin)
Submerge the rosemary sprig in the oil.
Cover the baking tin with foil and add to the oven for 3 hours undisturbed.
When the 3 hours are up remove the pork from the liquid and pat dry on both sides.
Score the skin in diamond patterns with a sharp knife.
Heat a frying pan and add a little of the oil leftover from the roasting tin.
When its smoking hot add the pork skin side down for 3-5 minutes to let the skin crackle. Dont move the pork just leave it.
If the skin isnt crackled enougth for your liking simple add the pork to a roasting tin, skin side up and roast for 15 minutes on gas mark 8.
Allow the meat to rest before carving. The skin will crispen a little more as its cooling down.
And thats it! SO simple but my god so delicious!

You can prepare this dish upto a day in advance. Simply re heat in a hot oven for 20 minutes, skin side up.