Saturday, 20 November 2010

Cattle Decapitation

I seriously need to invest in a new camera.  Oh well, not long until Christmas I suppose.

Say what you like about British food, you can't knock our top quality beef, and everyone loves a good steak dinner.  Yes, I know you've heard this a thousand times before, but make sure you get a good quality steak from an independent butcher that's been hung for 21-28 days (the steak I mean, not the butcher, though that would be N3CR0 and Br00T@L).  This recipe will serve four people.


  • 4 awesome sirloin steaks
  • 4 medium-large old potatoes
  • 2 white onions
  • 225g butter (yes you read that correctly) plus a few knobs for basting
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 eggs
  • Some plain flour (doesn't need to be precise but you need a fair amount)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 4 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 4-8 garlic cloves (depending on the size), smashed
  • A handful of tarragon sprigs
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • Some vegetable oil
  • Salt and loads of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Stick the oven on at 210 degrees.
  2. Make the chips - clean your potatoes and cut them into eight wedges, leaving the skin on.  Put them in a saucepan full of cold, lightly salted water and bring them to the boil for a few minutes.  Drain the water, season them, sprinkle them with a little bit of flour, then shake them about in the saucepan.  Put them skin side down in roasting trays and drizzle them with vegetable oil, then roast them for 35 minutes until they're golden and crispy.
  3. Make the sauce - finely dice the shallots.  Remove the leaves from the tarragon sprigs and chop the stalks finely.  Heat 3 tbsps of the vinegar in a pan, add the shallots and parsley stalks and reduce by a third.  Beat the egg yolks in a bain marie and strain the vinegar reduction into them (that means "use a sieve so the herbs and shallot pieces don't go into the sauce" - you're just using them for flavour here), mixing it in.  Let it cool a little.  Melt the ridiculous amount of butter in a frying pan.  Put the bain marie over some simmering water (not too hot - you don't want scrambled eggs) and whisk the egg yolks vigorously until they've gone lighter and thicker, then *slowly* trickle the butter into the egg yolk mix as you're still whisking until you've got a nice thick sauce.  Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard and tarragon leaves and season to taste.
  4. Make the onion rings - heat some oil in a wok or deep fat fryer on a medium-high heat.  Peel the onions and slice them into rings.  Beat the eggs, add a drop of cold water and stir in some flour a little at a time until you have a nice thick batter, then season the mixture.  Put some more flour in a separate bowl.  Dip the onion rings in the flour and then the batter, making sure they're nicely covered, and deep fry them for a few minutes until they're golden brown - you may need to do this in batches.  Remove them to a plate and let the fat drain onto some kitchen paper.
  5. Cook your steaks - you want a couple of frying pans for this on a high heat - don't use more than two steaks per pan.  When it's very hot, add a little olive oil, season your steaks on one side with salt and plenty of pepper and put them in the pan, seasoned-side down.  They should sizzle vigorously on contact - if they don't, take them out immediately and wait for the oil to get hotter.  Season the other side of the steak just before turning - this method helps to keep the steak from drying out.  Cooking times vary according to the thickness of your steak - I did two minutes per side for mine for medium rare, so if you want it rare I'd do it for a minute-a minute and a half and if you want it well done I'd do it for three-four minutes per side - you can also prod it with your finger as well-done steaks will be quite firm to the touch.  You only want to turn the steaks once each.  About thirty seconds after you've flipped your steak, add some butter to the pan and the garlic cloves, and baste the steaks with the pan juices.
  6. Serve the dish - Take your steak out when it's done to your liking and wrap it in foil (repeat for the others obviously) so that it can rest for a couple of minutes - this relaxes the meat and makes it more tender to eat.  Add a drop of red wine vinegar to the pans you cooked the steaks in to de-glaze them and get all those lovely meaty juices.  Put your onion rings and chips on the plate, then carve the steak, put it on the plate, drizzle the pan juices over it and pour on a generous helping of your Bearnaise sauce.
Enjoy with a glass of red wine or good beer, and keep a crusty bread roll on hand to mop up the sauce!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Roast pork chop with spicy runner beans, tomatoes and creamy mustard sauce

Normally when I roast things I add lots of mashed/roasted potatoes, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with that way of cooking.

I'm not on the Atkins diet or anything, but I do eat too many carbs so I thought this might be a nice way to spice up (no pun intended) my usual method with roast pork chops.  And it works - hooray!  I used some nice fresh runner beans from my local farm shop (I know, I'm middle class) but you could probably use tinned borlotti beans instead.  Plus you could always ask your Grandma, as people over 60 love growing runner beans.  Rare breed pork is the best, if you can get it.  The paprika and tomatoes make the runner beans more exciting and the tartness of the tomatoes goes very well with the rich pork.

  • 1 x good quality pork chop
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 3 x fresh sage leaves
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Handful of runner bean pods
  • 1 dessert spoon double cream
  • About 1 tbsp hot paprika (I'll let you be the judge)
  • Half a 400g tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp English mustard (wahey!)
  • 1-2 tbsps olive oil (I didn't really measure this, as you can tell)
  1. Get your pork chop out of the fridge at least half an hour before you start cooking so that it can adjust to room temperature.  Pre-heat the oven on full blast, which should be about 250 degrees.
  2. Put a whole garlic clove, unpeeled, in the centre of a little roasting dish.  Place the bay and sage leaves on top.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, carefully make incisions with about a centimetre and a half in between along the skin of the pork, but try not to penetrate into the flesh.  Rub a bit of salt into the skin, particularly in the incisions, and season the flesh with salt and plenty of pepper on both sides.
  4. Put the chop on top of the garlic and sage leaves.  Drizzle with a little olive oil (not too much or the skin won't go crispy - don't worry, there's plenty of fat inside the pork chop itself) and splash a little Worcestershire sauce on top, then put it in the oven.  After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 180 degrees and continue roasting for 20 minutes until the pork is cooked through.
  5. While the pork's cooking, heat some olive oil in a saucepan on a medium heat.  Top and tail the runner bean pods and cut them up into small pieces (cut them diagonally if you want to be cheffy).  Chuck them in the pan and saute them for a few minutes.  Add some grated garlic and paprika to taste - paprika can vary in terms of heat so if you like add it in little bits to see how much you like - then spoon in half a tin of chopped tomatoes.  Season it with salt and black pepper and stir it frequently so that it doesn't stick.  Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary.
  6. Using a ladle or similar large spoon, put the beans in the centre of the plate and sit the pork chop on top.  Put the roasting tin on the hob and heat it up quite high, then add a little hot water from the kettle to dislodge the sediment.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula and make sure you squash the garlic clove, then stir in the mustard and cream.  Strain the gravy into a jug and spoon it over your pork chop.
If you don't mind a few carbs with this meal, have a bit of nice crusty bread on the side to mop up the sauce.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The German Cabbage Experience (Part 1)

Examples of common household objects you can use.
You may be looking at this picture and thinking "roflcopter wot is he doing with those tinz lolz".  Well, I'll tell you - I'm making sauerkraut!

German cuisine may not be world-renowned (well, to be fair, nor is British) but that's not to say they don't have some good recipes.  Sauerkraut, for those of you who haven't had it, is basically pickled cabbage, and it goes very well with roast pork and sausages.  I had a bit of sausage when I went to Germany and it was exhilarating.

Get yourself a cabbage and chop it into quarters.  Shred it finely and put it in a mixing bowl, then add some apple slices and one and a half-two tablespoons of salt and mix it all up.  Cover it with a clean tea towel, then add a plate and weigh it down with some tins of tomato/baked beans/tuna.  Leave it to ferment for about a month (seriously - the salt draws the water out and preserves it) and change the tea towel every couple of days.  At least, that's my plan based on research I carried out on t3h internetz.

What will happen to the sauerkraut?  Will it turn into the delicious German sausage adornment, or will it just become a rotting pile of green vegetables?  We'll see in about a month's time!

Ridiculously easy tandoori chicken

Full of chickeny goodness.
I'm of the opinion that the best recipes are often the simplest.  Overcomplicated cooking is like Shakespearean lesbian porn - it just doesn't work.

This recipe is a great opportunity to practice your chicken mutilation skills, though you can ask your butcher to joint the chicken for you.  By butchering your own chicken you save money and you get a carcass left over to make a nice stock with.  There are a few different methods that people use, but I'd recommend those methods that involve leaving the wings attached to the breasts as breast meat is nicer on the bone (in my opinion) and if you really want to take the wings off you can.  You can also do this with other birds.

As for the recipe itself, it's straightforward and designed to replicate the kind of food they eat in northern India, which involves breads like roti and naan rather than rice.

  • 1 x big free range chicken, jointed into six pieces (plus the carcass that you keep for later)
  • 4 x cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
  • 2 x green chillies, seeds in (\m/)
  • 3 x tbsps coriander powder
  • 2 x tsp ground cumin
  • 2 x tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 x tsp turmeric
  • 1 x tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bake your dried spices in a hot oven for about 10 seconds as this improves their flavour.  If you've got whole seeds, you can toast them whole in a dry frying pan and then crush them up to make the powder.  Mix them together with the lemon juice, the vegetable oil, the salt, the pepper, the finely chopped chilli and the grated ginger and garlic (preferably using a pestle and mortar) until you have an orangey red paste.
  2. Make a couple of cuts in each chicken piece using a sharp knife, then put it in a mixing bowl and smear the paste all over the chicken, making sure it gets into the cuts to really penetrate the flesh (we're all about penetration here at Heavy Metal Cooking).  Then do the same with the yoghurt and leave it to marinade for at least two hours or preferably overnight.
  3. Turn the oven on at full whack (which is probably about 250 degrees), and when it's come up to heat put the chicken on a baking tray and put it in the oven.  After about 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 190 and let it cook through for a further half hour (that way you get moist flesh but a crispy, charred skin).
  4. Serve with naan bread and enjoy!
It's a shame I missed barbecue season really as I think this recipe could have worked.  Ah well, life is full of disappointments (e.g. every Metallica album from the last 12 years).

Stay tuned as I will soon be uploading a very metal video demonstration of how to joint a chicken!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Now that the nights are drawing in quicker than Jodie Marsh finding a photo opportunity, and there's a wee nip in the air, the temptation for stodgy food increases.

But fear not, if you still want it healthy(ish). This recipe can incorporate many of your five a day, and doesn't have to be loaded with fat - it depends really on how much cheese you like!

I make burritos; the tortillas are wrapped into parcels. You can roll them instead to make enchilladas, but you don't get the nice alliterative title!

Start off by preparing the spice mix. I am a wuss when it comes to spicy food; this mix is on my limit, but hot food lovers will find it flavoursome rather than kicking. This recipe will give you enough filling for 6 burritos. I mix:

2 beef stock cubes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper - this is what gives the kick, so the braver among you may want to add more

I grind them all together in a pestle and mortar, but giving them a stir with a spoon in a bowl will do.

Put to one side, then finely chop:

1 onion
garlic (add as much or as little to taste)
1 deseeded pepper - ideally should be no bigger than the kidney beans you will add

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan, and soften the onions and garlic.

Take one small tin of kidney beans, open, and drain - leave to one side, to allow all the fluid to dry off.

Once the onions start to soften, add the peppers, and turn up the heat slightly, as the peppers will release moisture and you end up with a gloopy mess. Fry off for about 2-3 mins.

Add a 250g portion of beef mince. I use beef. You can use any other mince meat, if you wish. Hey, you can even use soya or quorn mince (heresy! - Tim) if you are a veggie/vegan, obviously missing out the stock cubes. Brown the mince (meat only); you may need to turn the heat up again, slightly.

Once browned, add the beans, turn the heat back down to medium.

Add the spice mix, and stir well.

Add half a tin of chopped tomatoes to the filling.

Leave to simmer for 10-15 mins, if you have time. At this point you can add other veg to the filling. I like sweetcorn, and some chopped fresh tomatoes, but you may want to experiment with something else. Hell you could add some mushrooms, but as a hater of fungi, I wouldn't ruin the dish ;-)

Leave the mixture to cool before making the burritos. It has a better consistency, and it also makes wrapping the tortillas easier. The easiest thing to do is to spread the tortillas onto a clean surface and then equally divide the filling among them. As I wrote earlier, I make 6 burritos but if you're brave/skilled, you could get 4 bigguns. Make the parcel by folding the bottom over the filling, fold in the sides, then fold over the top.

Place the burritos into an oven proof dish. Spoon the remainder of the chopped tomato over the top; you can add some of the spice mix to this, or you can stir in some tabasco sauce, if you really do like a kick. Sprinkle over some grated cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 mins, or until everything looks golden. Mine look darker as I used wholemeal wraps and Red Leicester cheese. The burritos can be served as a meal in itself, with a token salad (a la my creation), or with rice/chips/wedges if you are feeding more than two.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Master of Pickles


I thought I'd have a shot at pickling. Me and Tim have a (currently on indefinite hiatus, in traditional heavy metal band style) plan to sell pickles and preserves. Nothing has come of it yet, but I thought I'd try my hand at it whilst I'm in employment limbo.

This was quite a simple recipe. I didn't want to do normal pickled onions, I wanted something with a kick! So, inspired by the pickles my wonderful girlfriend has courtesy of her parents, I went about creating my own concoction.

Step 1: Brine the Veg!
I don't know why you have to do this do, apparently. In a bowl, I threw in all of my ingedients and covered them in a healthy dose of salt (quite a lot of it) and left it overnight. The effect was that the water was drawn out of the veg and they created their own brine mixture. The veg I used were:

  • Shallots (top & tail then blanch them for a minute, the skins'll come off much easier!)
  • Cauliflower
  • Red Peppers
  • Olives
  • Turnips
  • Couple of HOT chilli peppers. I prefer Scotch Bonnet but all they had were Birds Eye.

When you've done that, go onto.....

Step 2 - The Vinegar
How much vinegar you need depends on how much you're making, so you'll have to be the judge of that. One of those big jars of pickling vinegar from the supermarket should do you fine for a good few jars of pickles.

Boil the vinegar and add to it pickling spices, which you can buy pre-mixed, or you can make your own. I boiled it for 5 minutes using the following:

  • Chilli Pepper
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • Ground Black Pepper
Then put it aside to cool. Make sure you do it in a stainless steel saucepan or, if you don't have one, a non stick saucepan. DO NOT USE ALUMINIUM PANS, it'll react with the vinegar.

Step 3 - Bring it all together baby!
Once your veg has brined overnight, it's time to bring it altogether. You'll need some airtight jars, and you'll need to sterilise them. I used some of Granny's old Kilner Jars which she kindly lent me. I think they're from WWII era, judging... :D

To sterilise them you need to heat them, and their lids, in the oven at Gas Mark 1/4 (1 quarter) for around about ten minutes. Then, take them out (careful, hot!) and fill them immediately with your pickle mix. Make sure you wash and drain the pickle mix thoroughly, otherwise your pickles may end up being too salty!

Then, pour the pickling vinegar over the top. Seal them.

Keep them in a cool, dark place for two weeks to a month before eating.

I currently have no idea what they taste like. >_>


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Curried War Ensemble

When cooking for friends or family it's often a good idea to make some big dishes that everyone can help themselves to.  This is because you can make sure you get more than everyone else without arousing suspicion.

The inspiration for these recipes came from the assortment of ingredients I had in my fridge at the time.  I had some spinach that needed to be used up and some minced beef, so I raided my spice collection.  That's the great thing about having a spice rack - it's an extremely inexpensive way of making a meal exciting (compared to, say, buying a bottle of red wine to make coq au vin).  I made the saag aloo (potato and spinach curry) for my mum as she's vegetarian but I had a little bit myself on the side of the mince curry, and it goes very well.

I'm no expert on Indian cooking but these spice combinations generally work well for me.  I will describe these recipes as if you are making all of them so that, if you are minded to do that, you have an idea about time management.

Ingredients (to serve four):

For the curried mince:
  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 x large onion
  • Generous, roughly thumb-sized piece of root ginger
  • 3 x large garlic cloves
  • 2 x green chillis
  • About 500ml good beef stock
  • 1 x 400g tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsps ground coriander
  • 8 x cloves
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • 1 x star anise
  • 2 x tbsps vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the saag aloo:
  •  A few handfuls of baby spinach, washed
  • 500g new potatoes
  • 1 x large onion
  • Generous, roughly thumb-sized piece of root ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsps ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp whole fennel seeds
  • A couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 x tbsps vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the basmati rice:
  • 300g basmati rice (my secret ingredient - don't tell anyone)
  1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Add a pinch of salt, bring them to the boil and boil them for about 15 minutes until they're cooked through, then drain them.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a large, non-stick frying pan on a pretty high heat and add the oil when it's hot.  Season your beef, making sure you use plenty of pepper, and brown it in the pan in batches so that it caramelises and doesn't leak proteins and other crap, thus ensuring a nice juicy meat finish.  If you're unsure, throw in one piece of beef as a sacrifice to the God of Curry to check that the oil is hot enough.  Remove each batch to a plate when done.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and take it off the heat if necessary so that you don't burn things.  Dice your onion.  Peel and grate the garlic and ginger and finely chop the chillis.  Add the garlic, ginger and chillis to the pan along with the cloves, star anise and bay leaves.  When they're fragrant, add the onions and soften them for about 10 minutes, then stir in the whole spices.  When they're fragrant as well, add the beef back in along with the tomatoes.  Bring it to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes.  Finally, add enough beef stock to almost cover the mixture and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat has absorbed almost all of the sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, put your rice in to soak.  When you've measured the amount of rice, pour it into a jug to see how much space it takes up, then put it in the saucepan.  Add 1.5 times as much cold water to the rice and let it soak for at least 20 minutes.  Bring it to the boil, stir it, reduce it to a VERY low simmer and cover it with a lid.  When the rice has absorbed all of the water, which should take about ten minutes, stir it again and fluff if up, then let it rest for another 20 while you concentrate on the potato curry.
  5. Make the saag aloo.  Heat some oil in a pan on a medium heat.  Dice the onion and grate the ginger and garlic.  Add them to the pan as before, then add the fennel seeds and powdered spices, followed by the potatoes.  Slice the tomatoes in half then add them as well.  Stir it all together, making sure everything is nicely coated, and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking/burning.  Add the spinach leaves at the last minute as you only want to wilt them, not stew them!
  6. Enjoy your curried War Ensemble! \m/

Friday, 3 September 2010

Easy-peasy Choccy Fudge Cake

I thought I'd celebrate my invitation to join this blog with cake. Choccy cake. Nay, choccy fudge cake. Oh yes.

This cake couldn't be simpler to make. You will need:

175g Self Raising Flour
2 TBSP cocoa
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
150ml sunflower (or other vegetable) oil
150ml milk, semi-skimmed is fine (not that it matters...)
2 TBSP golden syrup

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
Line your cake tin(s) - I give you the option of two sandwich tins, or one large cake tin
Sieve the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl
Make a well, and add the wet ingredients to the dry
Beat until you get a nice smooth mixture; it doesn't take that long at all by hand, so using an electric whisk must be a dream!
Pour the mixture into your tin(s); it is very runny, trust me, it will bake.
Bake the smaller tins for 25-30 minutes; the large single cake tin takes 45 minutes. When it's done, the cake is very springy, and if you use a cocktail stick to test, it should come out dry and clean.
Leave to cool in the tin.

When ready to ice, you will need:

75g butter, softened
175g icing sugar
3 TBSP cocoa

The butter needs to be soft, but not quite melted
Add the icing sugar and cocoa, sifted, a bit at a time, and beat the mixture until smooth
It will be very stiff, so add small amounts of milk until you get a spreadable consistency

If you were clever enough to make two halves separately, put some of the icing in the middle of the sandwiches, then cover the top of the cake
If, like me, you don't have two sandwich tins, carefully cut the cake in half and add the filling before covering with the remainder of the icing

Sit back, and enjoy your handiwork with a glass of something chilled and not too sweet!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Who remembers Live and Kicking?

Once again it's time for a recipe that one of you have sent in - here's my friend Lisa's classic carrot and coriander soup!  Hell yeah!

LISA: This is a quick and easy recipe, which shouldn't cost more than £1 to make, as long as you have a well stocked store of staples and you grow your own coriander. The recipe claims to serve 4, but I could easily get 6 servings of this soup (or 2 if you were serving me - Tim).

You will need:

450g/1lb carrots, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
3tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1.2l/2 pints vegetable stock
Few sprigs of fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large pan. Keep it on a medium heat, and add the carrot and onions.
Make sure everything gets a coating of the oil, and then leave on the heat for the onions to start to soften (it begins to look clear when it's ready). Stir occasionally.
Add the ground coriander and stir. Add seasoning, if required.
Add the stock, then leave to simmer for 15-25 minutes, until the carrots have softened.
Take off the heat, and use a blender to purée the soup.
Finely chop the fresh coriander, and add to the soup.
Voila, there you have it - homemade carrot and coriander soup!!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Crumble of Filth

Here at Heavy Metal Cooking, we're all about the classics, and they don't come much more classic than this.

Any English people reading this have probably eaten this about 240563986 (approximately) times in their lives. Crumble is a very easy way of making a delicious dessert using only a few basic ingredients - flour, sugar, butter and some nice fruit. I've embellished on it a bit here but really that's all you need. For this crumble, I thought the walnuts went really well with the pears, and the sprinkling of oats made a nice crunchy surface. Other fruits that go well with this include apple (obviously), rhubarb (add lots of sugar though), blackberries or a combination thereof. Just don't put raisins in or your crumble will be crap and I will be forced to slap you.

NOTE: I've used two types of sugar here - I used demarara for the crumble because it's crunchy, but I used soft brown sugar to caramelise the pears and give them a nice flavour. It's just a poncey little thing I did, feel free to just use one type.


  • 225g plain flour
  • 150g butter
  • 110g demarara sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 x conference pears
  • 2 tbsps cinnamon
  • 3 tbsps (I guess?) soft brown sugar e.g. muscovado
  • Enough porridge oats to sprinkle over the top
  • A few walnuts

  1. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.
  2. Sieve the flour into a big bowl.
  3. Mix a pinch of salt into the flour and rub in 110g of the butter with your fingertips until you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs (you may find this easier if you get the butter out of the fridge in advance so that it softens). Then mix in the demarara sugar. NOTE: this is basically a pastry mix without the water, so if you wanted to make a pie instead of a crumble you could just add a little bit of very cold water so that it sticks together - however if you do that you should let the pastry sit in the fridge for at least half an hour, or perhaps read a different recipe, e.g. a pie/tart recipe.
  4. Peel and core your pears and mix them in with the soft brown sugar. I'm not sure exactly how much I used but you want a decent covering. Add some cinnamon according to taste - I like quite a lot but it's up to you.
  5. Get a baking dish like the sexy pyrex one in the picture and rub some butter round the edge, then put the pear mixture in. Dot a few little lumps of butter around to aid the caramelisation process, then add the crumbly goodness, making sure the pears are all completely covered. Sprinkle some porridge oats on top and finally scatter a few walnuts over.
  6. Bake it in the oven for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown, and serve with a generous blob of vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


If you're like me and always throw in random amounts of spices while cooking, this dish can turn out to be your Life of Agony. However, I ask you to take a leap of food and let me guide you through the bliss Asian cuisine can provide. As a student I used to cook together with an Indonesian friend making food his mother did bother to teach him, as opposed to mine. Armed with this experience I recently took up the challenge of getting the typical American-Asian take-away dish called 'Beef & Broccoli with Oyster sauce' the way I like it. For the uninitiated, some ingredients can seem a bit odd, but I'll give some tips on what to buy and how to preserve them. I've chosen for fried rice (nasi goreng), but plain ol' white rice is perfect too.

Ingredients (serves 2 ppl):

· Beef, about 200 g a person. Tim's has been rambling on endlessly in this blog about the virtues of buying proper beef. He's right.

· Broccoloid. A single trunk feeds about 2 persons

· Red pepper (fresh or fresh ones stored frozen whole. Hey, this means you can have fresh peppers all year round? What an excellent idea!)

· Oyster sauce

· Soy sauce (the dark stuff)

· Ginger (freshly grated or in a glass jar stored in oil or mashed with some citric acid, store in fridge)

· Garlic (fresh or in a glass jar stored in oil or lightly pickled, store in fridge)

· Lemon grass (fresh or, you guessed it right, in a glass jar in oil, store in fridge)

· Ground dried coriander seeds

· Ground dried cumin seeds (djintan)

· Shrimp paste (trassi)

· Sambal (hot chilli based sauce used in Indonesia. Comes in lots of varieties, I love the sambal trassi one which has shrimp paste for cooking and the regular fried sambal badjak to spice up food as a table condiment)

· White rice (basmati has an awesome flavor, pandan is great too but sticks a bit more which is less suitable for frying)

· Wok oil (peanut/arachis oil or mild olive oil suitable for high temperature cooking, i.e. *not* extra virgin)


1. Start with boiling the rice until done, remove the hot water and let it cool by spreading it out on a plate and put it in your fridge. Never eat cooked rice that has been between 60 degrees and RT for more than a few hours, as heat-stable, extra-ribosomally produced Bacillus cereus toxins will have your bowels turned inside out!

2. While the rice is cooling, chop the beef into strips or cubes of a few centimeters. Marinate the beef in 1 tbps oyster sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 thinly chopped garlic glove, and 1 thinly chopped red pepper in a bowl for about 15 minutes (no fridge, keep the beef at RT!)

3. Put your wok on the fire, add oil until its almost smoking. Then quickly add 1 tsp shrimp paste, 1 tbsp sambal, 1 tsp lemon grass (or one piece of grass, remove after cooking), 1 tsp ginger. Stir for about 10 seconds, this will release an aroma that instantly kills Chris Barnes so I recommend opening up a window and remove all children and other innocent animals. Then add the rice and stir it while on full heat until golden brown (I always wanted to write that in a recipe!). Add coriander and cumin to taste. If you like bonus veggies, this is the moment you can add tauge (bean sprouts), chopped carrots, chinese cabbage, whatever you fancy, but don't worry, there'll be broccoloids acomin'! Remove from wok and keep hot.

4. Clean and chop up the broccoloid trunk, larger pieces in fours, and smaller ones in halves, remove most of the common stem. Now's the time where tr00 wok sk1llz0rs need to be mastered. Heat a wok with plenty of oil until it’s extremely hot and smoking. Depending on the material, weight and size of your wok, add the broccoloids in several portions. The wok needs to be as hot as possible throughout cooking. Wok every portion for about 3-4 minutes, stir like hell. For every burned broccoloid, chances will reduce the broccoloid queen will let you sleep with her hot broccoloid daughters! Put aside finished portions on a plate.

5. Now apply the newly acquired wok skills on the marinated beef, cook for 1-2 minutes, and then add the broccoloids until everything's hot but not longer than a few more minutes.

6. Re-fry the fried rice to heat it up if necessary. Serve the beef&broccoloids with the fried rice. You can add a lime wedge or some nice Asian condiments like fried onions (bawang goreng), seroendeng (a mixture of grated coconut, peanuts, onions and spices) and of course more sambal to the table to finish it off!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Hammer Smashed Pudding

The blob you can see to your right is the classic English bread and butter pudding!

This is the first time I've made the classic bread and butter pudding so I was glad to see that it turned out OK. Instead of following one recipe verbatim I got ideas from seeing how other people had done it. Some people use poncey expensive bread like brioche but I don't see the point. This is a basic tr00 version. I opted to use raspberry jam with this because it's absolutely gorgeous when it's hot, but feel free to use other types of jam and marmalade - whatever you like, really. Like many of the best things, it's brilliantly simple.

  • About two thirds of a loaf of sliced white bread
  • A jar of raspberry jam (use as much of it as you like)
  • Butter for the bread slices
  • A handful of sultanas
  • 600ml milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsps soft brown sugar
  1. Turn the oven on at 180 degrees.
  2. Deliberately let your bread go stale as it will soak up more awesomeness that way, then cut the crusts off and cut them into triangles. Spread some butter and raspberry jam on each slice and arrange them standing up diagonally in a baking tin (such as the pyrex one in the picture), then scatter some sultanas on top. N.B: if, for some reason, you don't have loads of stale bread hanging around, you can bake the bread slices, covered with foil, in the oven for a minute or two so that they dry out. No longer than that, though.
  3. Make the custard. Bring some milk to the boil and then reduce it to a very gentle simmer - if you're using an electric hob, take it off the heat completely as it's best to err on the side of not making the custard curdle. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla extract and mix it into the milk mixture. Keep stirring for a few minutes until it's thickened, then pour the whole lot over the pudding.
  4. Bake the whole thing in the oven for about 35 minutes until the peaks have gone golden brown. Serve hot with blobs of vanilla ice cream!

Pork ballotine with invisible sauce

Anyone seen that episode of the IT Crowd where they go to Heston Blumenthal's restaurant and eat invisible food? Well, this is a bit like that. Yep.

What actually happened was that I misjudged the amount of juice I was going to get from the ballotine, and as such it was nice but it was missing something. Therefore, I'm going to describe this recipe as if it has apple sauce with it, as it's a classic combination with pork.

  • 4 x pork steaks
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 12 x new potatoes
  • Handful of thyme sprigs
  • 2-3 tbsps olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 15 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 8 x sage leaves
  • 1 x large bramley apple
  • About 2 tbsps soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. Tenderise a pork steak, i.e. bash it flat using a rolling pin or tenderiser (this is a special hammer you can buy from cooking shops). When it's roughly doubled in size, put a couple of sage leaves in the middle along with half a clove of grated nutmeg. Season it lightly with some pepper, but NOT salt.
  2. Put a layer of streaky bacon rashers on the sheet of cling film. Put the pork steak on top and roll it all up very tightly so that you have something that looks like a sausage. Fasten each end with sellotape and chill it in the fridge for half an hour. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for your other torpedoes. The reason you didn't add salt is that the bacon already has a lot of salt in it anyway.
  3. Poach the ballotines in simmering water for about half an hour. Make sure you sealed them tightly.
  4. Peel some new potatoes and cut them into slices. Pour some butter into a frying pan with some olive oil on a medium-high heat. Season the potato slices and fry them for a few minutes on each side until they're golden and cooked through.
  5. Melt some butter in another pan. Peel the apple and cut it into slices, then gently fry them in the butter with some sugar so that the apples melt.
  6. When the pork is done, take it out of the packet and get a pan very hot. Add a smidgen of olive oil to said pan and sear it on all sides so that it goes crispy.
  7. Carve it into slices and serve with the potatoes and invisible apple sauce.