Wow, I haven’t add anything for ages. Here is one of my favourites. This humble recipe of lentils, onion and pasta has been in my family for many generations. It is an odd combination, normally you would associate pasta with Italians, however this has Lebanese origins. However even amongst the Lebanese you will find it having rice, instead of pasta.
Exactly how this combination came about I am not sure. What follows is a somewhat modernised version (the original, although somewhat tastier involves several fiddly steps, I only make it occasionally)
1. Get 250g of green lentils on the boil with plenty of water. Do not add salt.
2. Slowly fry four large onions until caramelized, salt them once done.
3. Just as the lentils are about done add a few handfuls of broken tagliatelle, add salt at this stage.
4. Drain and combine with onion. (keep some onion to garnish) Season.
Variations: Try with a bit of garlic and cumin. If possible, fry extra onion, let people add to their own dish.
I decided to revisit my beef bourguignon. After a bit of research I made a few adjustments:
1. I finely chopped the onion so that it melted into the sauce.
2. I seperated the ingredients, the bacon, mushrooms and carrot were cooked individually at the end.
3. I used corn starch instead of flour to thicken the sauce.
The outcome was a more refined dish. A bit more work, but a good way to wile away a lazy Sunday.
I love squid. However I must admit I’ve always been a bit afraid of prepping and cooking them – there seemed to be too many things that could go wrong.
I decided it was time to man up!
I followed the basic rule of prepping the squid by taking out all inner bits and stripping it of any membranes. I then scored the flesh and put it in a marinade of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
A quick flash fry, a dash of lemon and it was done. All in all, a bit of concentration was needed, but repeatable.
Without doubt China Town is one of my favourite places in London. This weekend I went on a little went on a little raid. I came up with burdock root. It is almost a metre in length, has a nutty taste and the texture of carrot.
Kinpira Gobo is classic Japanese recipe for the root:
1. Peel and matchstick the burdock
2. Get it into a bowl of water with a tablespoon of vinegar added as soon as possible or it will discolour (like potatoe)
3. Do the same for the carrot.
4. Stirfry, add a dash of soy sauce (go easy on the soy, you don’t want to overpower the burdock) sesame seeds and sugar.
5. Splash a bit of water in to help it cook, serve it while still crunchy. Can also be eaten cold.
This makes good drinking food, so don’t forget an ice cold Kirin.
I’m a coffee drinker. However once in a while I like to drink a cup of tea for a good cause. There is currently a plan in action to build a high speed rail through the Chilterns. This is crazy. People have been walking the Ridgeway (a path along the top of the hills) for literally thousands of years.
For a forager it’s a packed larder cupboard. Better still, you know that people have probably been foraging along that route for countless generations. Once its gone, it’s gone!
Right now rose hips are in season. Being full of vitamen C, it is said they ward off winter colds. Slightly tart, but with a whiff of turkish delight these red berries are all over the Chiltern Hills. For a taste of the Neolithic Chilterns:
1. Roughly chop a small handful of fresh rose hips
2. Steep in hot water
3. Strain and sweeten with honey
Save the Chilterns!
I have a confession to make. I am a Jamie Oliver fan. The easy going non-measureing approach of his is just up my street. As a teacher I’m a big fan of his healthy eating campaigns in schools.
His latest publication “15 Minute Meals” has seen loads of people attempt to do a sub-15 minute. The consensus seems to be that he’s a bit optimistic about the timings.
But could I do a sub-15?
I attempted to make his Thai inspired beef salad with noodles. Well, not exactly, I don’t have the actual recipe, I’m basing it on a picture in the Metro.
I had to replace a few items like the rice noodles as I wanted to use up some cupboard ingredients. Also I don’t own a food processor, so a bit of a handicap to play.
1. Get your pan hot and your water on the boil.
2. Cook the noodles (chinese egg noodles)
3. Grate carrot, finely chop spring onion.
4. Put the steak on (spice it up with 5-spice, salt and pepper)
5. You need to drain the noodles, and flush with a bit of water to reduce the heat.
6. Slice the radish
7. Turn your steak
8. Fix the broken tap – I kid you not, I heard some choice words emanating from the bathroom courtesy of Mrs G.
9. Once number 8 is repaired, take steak off the heat. Slice.
10. Prepare the dressing: chop pickled ginger and chilli, mix with soy, lime juice, chilli sauce and sesame oil.
Plate up with pine nuts.
Did I make it under 15 minutes? Yes, even without a food processor and the plumbing interlude. My time was just under minutes. The key is to follow the steps, although I can definately do some tweeking.
I’ve recently been watching Ken Hom’s cooking tour of China. It’s really inspired me to revisit Chinese cooking. The last week or so I’ve made crispy pork belly with pancakes, lemon chicken, french bean stir fry, egg fried rice and steamed vegetable wanton. (I cheated a bit here and used the Italian tortalinni folding technique, simply because I know it well.)
Of course if you’re going to cook Chinese you need a wok. So out came my old school cheap Chinatown wok (£6). I think its a fun tool and it somehow enhances the flavour of food. Maybe its the seasoning process, because I’ve noticed modern teflon coated woks aren’t as good.