Sunday, 6 January 2013

Chicken Dismemberment

This week, in my second video, I'll show you how to joint a chicken and how to make a delicious hearty stew!


  • 1 x 1.5kg chicken, jointed
  • 500ml good quality dry cider
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 6 x rashers streaky bacon
  • Handful of closed-cap mushrooms
  • A few thyme springs
  • 4 x bay leaves
  • 4 x garlic cloves
  • 1 x large onion, diced into large cubes (like in the last video!)
  • 1 x large carrot, diced into large cubes
  • Half a leek, finely sliced into half moons
  • A few knobs of butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sunday, 30 December 2012

How to chop an onion like a boss

Right, here we go with my first "how to" guide!  As you will see, I'm still not quite sure how to use my new camera properly, but here goes...

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Pastries of Death Part 5: Morbid Mince Pies

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without mince pies.  They're right up there with pretending to believe in Jesus and the classic familial arguments over whether to watch Ben Hur or Hook.  And, thanks to my indomitable Christmas spirit, here is a recipe that you still have time to make before the big day!

"Mincemeat" in mince pies is so called because of the use of beef suet, not because they actually contain minced meat.  However, you can get vegetarian suet these days, so it's all good.

Nothing fancy here - just some easy home-baked goodies that everyone can enjoy.  Some people use sweetened pastry but I think normal shortcrust is fine, especially since you're going to dust them with sugar anyway.  Enjoy them hot or cold and add some whipped cream if your waistline doesn't bother you - to be honest you were probably pretty far gone by this point anyway.

Ingredients (to make 20 pies)

  • 500g shortcrust pastry (see here for a recipe:
  • Juice and grated zest of one orange
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g suet
  • 100g sultanas
  • 100g dried apricots, shredded
  • 100g Muscovado sugar (bit of a pattern forming here isn't there)
  • One Braeburn apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • Cheeky splash of brandy
  • Caster sugar, to dust
  • Splash of milk, to glaze
  • Vegetable oil to line the tin
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Mix everything apart from the pastry (duh) and caster sugar together in a bowl.
  3. Roll out your pastry thinly and cut little rounds using ether a cookie cutter or an upturned cup (if you're too poor to buy the former).  You want some excess to make inverted pentagram lids.
  4. Using a screwed up piece of kitchen roll, smear a little bit of vegetable oil around the bases of your bun tins, then arrange your rounds in the tins.  Fill the bases with the mincemeat mixture, then cut little straight bits of pastry and arrange awesome pentagram patterns on top of the pies. Give them a glaze of milky glaziness using a pastry brush, sprinkle caster sugar over the top and put them in the oven for 15-18 minutes until they're golden brown.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Pennoni with Pork Ragú

You know, you've got to love a bit of sausage. Sausages are cheap and versatile ingredients.  Here, I've squeezed them out and used them as a cheap alternative to your standard beef Bolognaise sauce for delicious Italian eats on a budget.

Pasta is a brilliant but somewhat misunderstood ingredient.  Often, when we Brits eat a pasta dish, we think of the pasta as a side dish to a gargantuan portion of meat, much as we would use potatoes.  Really, the pasta is supposed to be the main event, and if you include meat it's supposed to be a sauce to lightly coat it.  This is why you get different pasta shapes - it's not purely cosmetic, it's designed to hold a certain type of sauce, and with short tubular pasta like pennoni or macaroni the meat sauce will get caught in the recesses.

I'm also going to take a rebellious break from the usual format of my recipes.  I recommend making a large quantity of sauce that you can slow cook and then keep in the fridge so that you can make quick but tasty meals later in the week.  Traditionally a ragú would use red wine rather than stock, but this cheaper alternative works fine and I think it's silly to spend more money on expensive wine for what is supposed to be a peasant dish.

  • 12 x good quality pork sausages
  • 2 x 400g tins Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 4 x garlic cloves
  • 4 x bay leaves
  • 1 x level tbsp dried oregano or basil
  • 1 x tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 x large white onion
  • 1 x large carrot
  • 2 x sticks of celery
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 100g pennoni (for each individual serving)
  • 2 x tbsps olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan on a medium-high heat.
  2. Finely dice your carrot, onion and celery.  Heat some olive oil in the pan and sweat the vegetables and garlic cloves off with a bit of salt.  When the vegetables are transluscent,  stir in the oregano until it's fragrant, then add the squeeze the meat out of the sausages and into the pan, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon.
  3. Once the sausages have browned, create a well in the centre of the pan and add your tomato purée to it.  Cook it out for a few minutes to take the edge off it a bit, then mix it into your meat sauce.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, season the sauce with salt and pepper, throw in the bay leaves and add just enough chicken stock to cover.  Bring it to the boil, then let it simmer gently for about two hours, stirring occasionally, and check the seasoning (it shouldn't need too much as the sausages are already seasoned).  If you're not going to eat it right now, let it cool completely before storing it in the fridge in a clean airtight container.
  5. When cooking the pennoni, you want to use 1 litre of water for every 100g of pasta.  Add a bit of salt and bring it to the boil.  Add the pennoni and give it a good stir to prevent sticking - don't waste olive oil, your pasta won't stick.
  6. Give the pennoni about ten minutes to cook.  If you've made a large quantity of the ragú, reheat some in a non-stick saucepan.  Taste it to check that the pennoni is al denté, add a bit of water to the sauce to loosen it, drain the pennoni and stir it into the ragú, making sure it gets nicely coated, and serve immediately.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Broccoli Soup with Stilton and Bacon

I've got a bit of man flu going on at the moment, so I thought a nice hearty, healthy bowl of soup would be just what the doctor ordered.  Then I threw a load of cheese and bacon into it.

Vegetable-based soups are incredibly cheap and easy, and they taste so much better than anything you can buy out of a tin.  They're also a good way of introducing children/fussy eaters to vegetables.

Use the freshest broccoli you can get, as that way it compliments the cheese and thus creates a smoother flavour.  Omit the bacon if you're vegetarian, obviously.

Ingredients (to serve four):
  • Two large heads of broccoli
  • A small knob of butter
  • Water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Two good quality streaky bacon rashers
  • Small slice/chunk of Stilton
  • Extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
  1. Chop the florets off the broccoli, making sure none of them are too big (so that they cook evenly) and leave them in a colander to one side.
  2. Chop the stalks up into small chunks and fry them in butter in a large saucepan for a few minutes until they've started to turn golden.  Add enough cold water to cover them, put the lid on and simmer for about 30 minutes.  This will make a very simple broccoli stock.
  3. For a few minutes towards the end of the stock cooking time, place the colander on top of the saucepan, cover the florets with tin foil and then stick a lid on top.  Let them steam until you can slide a knife right through them.
  4. Meanwhile, put your bacon rashers into a cold frying pan and turn the heat up to about medium-hot.  Turn the rashers once and drain them on some kitchen paper to help them go crispy.
  5. Strain your stock into a heavy-based saucepan, reintroduce the florets and add your salt and pepper.  You will probably have to dilute the stock a little with boiling water, but add it only a little bit at a time as you (obviously) don't want to make the soup watery.  Using a hand blender, blitz it in between each addition of water and check that it's at a consistency you like; personally, I recommend you leave it on the thick side so that you have a nice concentration of broccoli flavour.  Season to taste.
  6. When you serve the soup, crumble a little Stilton and crispy bacon in and give it a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to finish.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Heavy Metal Cooking vs Your Takeaway Part 2: Flying Spaghetti Monster

This is one of those recipes that everyone should have in their arsenal, ready to unleash at a moment's notice, like a ninja.

If you want, you can use fresh basil rather than dried for this recipe; if so, rip it up roughly and chuck it in towards the end as it's quite delicate.  Dried is fine, however, and this recipe is predicated on the assumption that you've just got in from work, your boss may have been sexually harassing you, and you just want to throw something together with what's in your cupboard.  Buy good quality spaghetti - it's still pretty cheap and you get a much better flavour and texture for just a few more pence per meal, whereas crap pasta loses its bite and releases all of its starch into the water to make it look like your saucepan has rabies.  I've also used tinned tomatoes as they are the better option for those of us who don't live in the Med.

Although this recipe is very quick and easy (it takes about ten minutes), use it as an opportunity to get the small things right e.g. pan temperature control and seasoning.  If you want to elaborate on this recipe, try adding chilli, capers and/or anchovy fillets.

Ingredients (to serve one):
  • 100g good quality dried spaghetti
  • 10g salt
  • 1 litre water (1 litre of water per 100g pasta is the proper ratio)
  • Half a red onion
  • Half a tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried basil or oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve
  1. Get your pan up to a medium heat and put the water on to boil in a separate saucepan  (well, duh) with a bit of salt.
  2. Finely dice your onion.  Add the oil to the pan and gently saute the onions until they're soft and starting to go transluscent.
  3. At this point the water will probably be at a rolling boil, so chuck in your spaghetti so that it's all submerged and doesn't stick.  Bring it back up to the boil for six minutes (no, I don't care what your packet instructions say).
  4. The onions are probably done by now, so throw in the garlic, herbs and seasoning.  When it's fragrant, throw in the tomatoes and ramp up the heat.  Break the tomatoes up so that your sauce doesn't go too lumpy.
  5. When the spaghetti is done, add a little splash of the water to the sauce to help loosen it up a bit, drain it, then add it to the pan and stir it in well for about two minutes, making sure you get a nice coat of sauce all over.
  6. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Rime of the Ancient Marinated Anchovies

Here's a quick little recipe that I like to use for pizza toppings. I've been making my own pizza a lot recently and discovered this quick, simple trick for making anchovies that little bit more interesting. All you need are the following:

  1. Tin of anchovies or, if you can get them, high quality fillets of anchovies
  2. Juice of half a lemon
  3. Olive oil
  4. Chilli peppers of choice (I used a scotch bonnet, for added attitude)
  5. Salt, pepper, sugar

Squeeze half the lemon into a small bowl, and make up the rest of the marinate with 2-3 times as much olive oil. Mix it well till it forms an emulsion. A small whisk does wonders here. Then, chop your chilli pepper. For my scotch bonnet, I diced it. If you're using a regular green chilli or red chilli then just slice it so that it keeps it's cross-section shape (purely for aesthetic). 

Then, place the anchovies and chilli into the marinade and add a generous pinch of sugar, then grind in pepper and salt if required. Then, just leave it till it's ready. The longer you leave it, the more the flavours will infuse and the hotter and spicier it'll taste.

Then, you can add the chillis and anchovies onto your pizza, draining off any excess liquid before adding it to the topping. 

The leftover marinade can then be used to drizzle the pizza if you like, or you can use it as a spicy salad dressing, or as a dip. It taste so good that it's a waste to throw it away. Have an experiment and you'll be able to find something to use it with.