Monday, 31 May 2010

Lasagne hammered down

Once again it's time for me to take a look at recipes you've sent in. This recipe is by Adam Rulewski from Lincolnshire, and he's 22 years old.

Adam was the guitarist in my ill-fated thrash band "Judgment Hammered Down" and like myself he enjoys cooking. We're so rock n' roll. Lasagne is a real classic and although I didn't get the chance to taste this one it looks and sounds great. For a heavy metal twist, he's used brie for the bechamel and a bit of paprika in the meat sauce. JHD!

  • 500g minced beef
  • 3 x shallots
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 1 x 400g tin of Italian tomatoes
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tbsps paprika
  • Splash of red wine
  • A few knobs of butter
  • 3 tbsps plain flour
  • 2-3 star anise, crushed
  • About 300ml milk (I'd guess)
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • Block of brie
  • Enough lasagne sheets for three layers
  1. Turn the oven on at 180 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and gently fry the shallots and garlic until the shallots are translusent. Add the tomatoes and season. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer gently.
  3. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in another pan on a high heat and add the paprika and star anise. Season the minced beef and add it to the pan, making sure the bottom is covered. Don't fuck about stirring it or the beef will stew rather than fry - do this in batches if necessary. Once it's brown, deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine, add the tomato sauce and let it simmer for about an hour and a half until the sauce has thickened and the meat is tender.
  4. In a non-stick saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour to create a roux, then pour in the milk. Let it simmer until it's reached a nice thick consistency. Voila - you have bechamel.
  5. Soak some dried pasta sheets in hot water for a few minutes, then put them on the bottom of a baking dish, cutting them to fit if necessary. Add a layer of meat sauce, then add another layer of pasta sheets, then another layer of meat sauce, then another pasta layer and finally the bechamel.
  6. Cook it in the oven for about half an hour until the top has gone golden brown.
  7. Serve with a side of steamed kale or spinach.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Red onion, parmesan and chive frittata

The humble omelette can be a very nice light lunch at this time of year. A frittata is basically just an omelette that's been put under the grill to let the cheese melt.

It has come to my attention that the melted parmesan on my frittata here looks a bit more like a certain other substance. I can assure you that it is indeed parmesan. Unfortunately, my grill is quite pathetic (that's not a euphemism).

  • 3 x medium free range eggs
  • Half a medium sized red onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A drop of milk (optional)
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • Handful of fresh chives
  • 1 x garlic clove
  • Freshly grated parmesan, to taste
  1. Heat a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the olive oil, dice the onions and add them, along with some chopped garlic, to the frying pan. Gently fry for a few minutes until the onions have softened. In the meantime, stick the grill on.
  2. Add the eggs, making sure the yolks break, and season them.
  3. Using a spatula or fish slice, flick the cooked bits round the outside towards the centre so that it all gets cooked. You see, making a frittata is a lot like making love to a very beautiful woman. You grab your tool, gently caress it towards the right spot, and hope that you don't just end up in a big splat on the hob.
  4. Once your frittata has taken shape, add some finely chopped chives and a liberal sprinkling of grated parmesan and stick it under the grill for a few minutes so that the cheese goes golden brown. Unlike my picture.
  5. If you've done it properly you should be able to take the frittata out of the pan in one piece.

Ron Burgundy would be proud (pan fried rump steak with whisky sauce)

A lot of people are a bit funny about eating beef when it's not well done. In my opinion these people are really missing out. The steak is just so much juicier when it's at least a little bit pink. Once I tried it I never went back.

Rump steaks are the cheapest frying steaks you can get, and while they're not the most tender they're very juicy and full of flavour, and this simple sauce makes use of the pan juices to full effect. This recipe is good if you fancy treating yourself one evening. However, do try to get a really good quality cut from your local butcher - I really can't emphasise this enough.

Ingredients (for one):
  • 1 x good quality rump steak
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • Half a medium-sized red onion
  • 2 tbsps double cream
  • Shot of Scotch whisky (generous as you like)
  • A few thyme sprigs
  • 3 x chestnut mushrooms
  • Half tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground (or cracked) black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A few knobs of butter
  1. Get the steak out of the fridge to let it adjust to room temperature about half an hour before you want to cook it. If you're serving it with boiled potatoes, as per the picture, you should get the potatoes in a pan of cold water first and boil them for about 15 minutes until tender so that you can concentrate on the steak; you can heat the potatoes up later with olive oil and also add English mustard for extra flavour.
  2. Heat a frying pan to room temperature.
  3. Smash and peel the garlic cloves, slice the mushrooms and chop the onion into half moons or rings while the pan is heating up so that it's all ready to go when the steak is done.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan. It should be literally smoking hot as you want to sear the outside of the steak. If you're doing more than one steak I suggest using a separate pan for each, if possible, as the oil will cool down too much if you overcrowd the pan and the steaks will start to stew rather than sear.
  5. Season the steaks one one side with the salt and pepper - don't skimp on the pepper, it's brilliant with beef. Lay it seasoned-side down in the pan and it should sizzle vigorously on contact - if it doesn't, take it out and wait for the oil to heat up more.
  6. Once the steak is in the pan, LEAVE IT until you're ready to turn it over. Cooking steak is an art, not a science, so the cooking time will depend on how how your pan is and how thick the steak is, but for a steak about 1 inch thick I recommend doing it for 1-2 minutes per side for rare, 2-2.5 minutes for medium rare, 3 minutes for medium, 4 minutes for medium to well and 4.5 minutes for well done.
  7. Season the other side of the steak just before you flip it over using a fish slice. While the other side is cooking, add the butter, thyme and garlic and baste the steak with the pan juices, but again try not to touch the steak.
  8. When it's done to your liking, leave it to rest in a warm place while you get on with the sauce. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle with sugar to help them caramelise, but keep stirring them so that they don't stick and burn. Tilt the pan away from you for safety and add the Scotch to the pan. NOTE FOR CHEFS: if it catches fire when it hits the pan, this means you have a bigger cock. Then stir in the cream and you're done.
  9. Carve the steak and put it on a hot plate with whatever accompanying veg you fancy. Discard the thyme sprig and garlic cloves and spoon a liberal helping of the sauce over the steak.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Alright my lover (Somerset chicken casserole with steamed curly kale and warm potato salad)

There's more to cider than 14 year olds sitting in a park.

Cider, even the good stuff, is cheaper than wine, and it's nice to cook with. I've already extolled the virtues of pork and cider, but it also goes well with poultry, making this dish a nice alternative to coq au vin. Braising chicken in it also helps to keep the breasts moist. The curly kale has a really fresh, peppery flavour that cuts through the rich sauce, and the Jersey Royal potatoes are a nice light alternative to mash. My mate Adam Rulewski joined me for this one and he gave me the tip of adding the star anise, which enhances the meaty flavour. This recipe should serve four people.

Ingredients (casserole):
  • 1 whole chicken, 1.5kg, jointed - you can ask your butcher to do this for you but make sure the breast meat is still on the bone.
  • 2-3 red onions (depending on the size)
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 2 440ml cans of Magner's Irish Cider (any decent cider will do, don't use Strongbow etc)
  • About 300ml chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 4 streaky bacon rashers
  • 4 thyme sprigs (I didn't use 4 but I would if I had them available :P)
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled but left whole
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Small bowlful of flour
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
And for the accompaniments:
  • 4 generous handfuls each of curly kale and Jersey Royal potatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • A handful of chives
  • 4 knobs of butter
  1. Pre-heat a large casserole on a high heat and put the potatoes in a saucepan with some salted cold water.
  2. Season the flour well and coat the chicken pieces in it. When the pan has heated up, add some olive oil. You want it to have started smoking. Add the chicken pieces in batches as you don't want to stew them; they should sizzle vigorously on contact. If they don't, remove them immediately and let the pan get hotter before reintroducing them. Brown them for 2-3 minutes on all sides so that they go a nice golden brown colour, then remove them to a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the bacon into lardons and slice the onions into half-moons. When the chicken has all been browned, lower the heat to medium (if you're using an electric hob it might be easier to take it off the heat for a bit to help the temperature reduce quickly), add the bacon lardons to the pan, then add the onions, garlic and herbs and salt and pepper.
  4. Fry it all in the pan for about 15 minutes until the onions have softened, then put the chicken back in and add the cider. Boil it until it's reduced by about one third, then add enough chicken stock to almost cover the chicken. Bring it to the boil again, then reduce it to a simmer, add the star anise, cover the pan and let it heat through for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once this is going on you might want to think about starting the boiling process for your potatoes if you're using an electric hob. You want to boil them for about 15 minutes until they're tender. To steam the curly kale, put a metal colander on top of the potato saucepan, add the kale and then cover it with kitchen foil; you only want to steam the kale for about 5 minutes so that it retains its texture and flavour.
  6. When the potatoes are cooked, turn the heat off/down to very low (for electric/gas hobs respectively) and let the water evaporate for about a minute, jiggling the pan around a bit to stop them from sticking, then add some butter and crush them lightly with a fork - don't mash them. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, add some finely chopped chives and mix it all up.
  7. When you dish up, serve generous portions, and scoop up the bacon and onions from the bottom of the casserole when adding the gravy. I recommend a nice cold glass of cider with the casserole.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Every time Adam Naylor sings, God kills a partridge

Regular viewers of my blog (I know you're out there somewhere) may remember my "Rich Man's Chicken Kiev" recipe, the pheasant breast for which was provided by my mate Adam Naylor who shot the bastard. This week he's donated a recipe of his own for roast partridge. He even provided the photo. This is weird actually; it feels like that bit from kids' saturday morning TV shows in the 90s where they showed the crap drawings the kids had sent in.

I haven't actually tried this recipe myself yet but it looks very nice and it follows the golden rule of game which is to add plenty of fat to keep it moist. Perhaps I'll give him a guest column.

  • 1 partridge
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 100ml red wine
  • A generous amount of streaky bacon to cover the bird
  • A few sprigs of rosemary
  • Butter
  • A quarter of an onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Turn the oven on at 200 degrees.
  2. Prepare the partridge for roasting. Chop up the onion roughly, season the cavity and add butter and a few rosemary sprigs in there. Put a bit of onion and butter in the neck cavity too. Season the skin well and smear a LOT of butter over the bird, particularly on the breasts. Wrap the partridge with the bacon completely (as per the photo below), pinning the rashers into place with some rosemary sprigs.
  3. Roast the bird for about 40 minutes. Adam notes that you should keep an eye on it as it may dry out; I'd suggest basting it once halfway through. As with other poultry, you know it's cooked if the leg juices run clear (though if you're really worried you can use a meat thermometer).
  4. When the bird is cooked, let it rest in a warm place covered with tin foil. I'm going to ad lib here and recommend that you turn it upside down as it rests so that the juices run back down into the breast.
  5. Make the gravy. Put the roasting tin on the hob with the rosemary sprigs, bring it to a high heat and add a splash of red wine. Deglaze the bottom of the pan by bringing it to the boil and stir in the redcurrant jelly. Let it continue to boil until it's reduced to a consistency you like.
  6. As you can see in the picture, Adam served his bird with peas and mashed potatoes.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


I recently had a bit of a mad rush on my course, but now I've hit a bit of a lull - so naturally I had to make some kind of bread. So here's my Scottish oatmeal bread recipe.

I'd heard the Scottish chef Nick Nairn talking about oatmeal bread and I thought "hmm, that's not a bad idea actually" so I thought I'd give it a go. Freshly baked bread is fantastic and it fills the house with a great aroma. This bread is so nice it almost makes you able to forgive Scotland for Travis. If you want to make normal brown bread, simply omit the oats.

N.B. I have no idea if Scottish oatmeal bread is actually anything like this.


500g strong wholemeal bread flour, plus extra for dusting
* 150g porridge oats
* 25g butter
* 1.5 tsps fast yeast
* 1 tsp sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* About 300ml warm water

  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl, discarding the crap. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips, stir in the yeast, porridge oats, salt and sugar and slowly add the water while mixing, a little bit at a time as you don't want the dough to get sloppy. Add more water or flour as necessary - if it's sticking together OK you don't need any more water.
  2. Dust some flour onto a CLEAN work surface and gently knead the bread. for about ten minutes. A lot of people get stuck in with their foreknuckles and really punch the shit out of the bread, but this isn't the UFC - gently press the dough using your palm heels so that you get a nice spongy dough.
  3. Put the dough into a greased bread tin, or into some other weird shape if that's what you want. Cover it with a damp tea towel and put it in a warm place for one and a half to two hours until it's roughly doubled in size.
  4. Scatter a handful of porridge oats over the top and gently press them in - this will make a nice crunchy crust. Put it in an oven preheated to 220 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. When the bread is done it should have a nice brown crust around the outside and the bottom should sound hollow when you tap it.
  5. I found this bread was very nice with some proper butter, some mature cheddar cheese and a cup of tea (interestingly, you can see my cup of tea in the picture).

Rainbow in the Dark (foil-baked rainbow trout with lemon, dill and butter)

Rainbow trout is brilliant. It's cheap, widely available, tasty, healthy and easy to cook. You can get a whole fish, which will serve up to two people depending on the size, for just a couple of quid, and the delicate flesh just melts in your mouth.

If you prefer you can use olive oil instead of butter, but personally I think you can't beat that luxurious buttery taste. This recipe is extremely easy, but because it's fish people will still think you've done something clever, which as we all know is the most important thing when cooking for others. Don't be confused by the apparent length of this recipe, it's actually very quick and easy to do.


* Garlic clove, smashed but unpeeled
* 2 x iceberg lettuce leaves
* 1 x large rainbow trout
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* A few generous knobs of butter
* Half a lemon, cut into slices as per the picture
* 4 x spring onions
* Handful of dill, or parsley if you prefer (or even both together - go on, you crazy fool!)

  1. Turn the oven on at 190 degrees.
  2. Get a fairly big sheet of kitchen foil, at least A 3 size, and lay the fish on top of it in the centre. Make sure you've got enough foil to wrap the fish fully.
  3. Having got your fishmonger to gut and scale the fish, chop the annoying fins off and make small slits about 1.5cm apart on the skin on each side of the fish - don't cut right through though. You'll want an extremely sharp knife for this otherwise you'll just start hacking into the flesh with a sawing motion, which will rip the flesh up. It's probably not a good idea to listen to Raining Blood while you do this.
  4. Chop the spring onions finely. Season the fish inside the cavity and on each side, letting the salt and pepper get into the slits. Stuff the cavity with herbs, garlic, lemon slices (as many as will comfortably fit) and spring onions. Lay the remaining lemon slices on top of the fish and scatter some more dill over, then strategically place a few knobs of butter on top. Carefully wrap the fish until you have something that looks like a shiny cornish pasty, making sure that none of the liquid inside can escape. Put the parcel onto a baking tray and then into the oven for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.
  5. Wash and shred some iceberg lettuce leaves - I think they go well with the soft fish because they're nice and crispy, which provides a nice contrast in texture. Make a little "bed" for the fish on a plate.
  6. When the fish is cooked, unwrap the foil and gently peel the skin back using a spoon - this should be easy. You should notice a line going along the centre of the flesh. Now it's time for an all-out spoonfest - get a big spoon and a teaspoon. Insert the teaspoon on the aforementioned line and gently slide the flesh off the bones and onto the big spoon, then transfer the flesh to the lettuce bed. The flesh above the line should lift off very easily. There may be one or two stray bones here and there but nothing to lose sleep over.
  7. Pour the lemony buttery goodness from inside the foil over the dish. If you're a tart like me you can serve the lemon slices as a garnish.

Lamb of God

Lamb is awesome. That is all.

On the eighth day, God created roast lamb. It's tender, juicy and flavoursome - hats off to my butcher once again. Mint and lamb are one of those flavour combinations that can be just thrown together without you having to put too much thought or effort into the dish. This recipe will serve one.


* 2 x best end of lamb chops
* About 6 asparagus spears, depending on the thickness
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* A splash of port or madeira wine
* Clove of garlic, smashed, skin on
* Handful of fresh mint leaves (or rosemary sprigs, if you prefer)
* Olive oil
* 2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 tbsp plain flour

  1. Turn the oven on at 190 degrees, pre-heat a saucepan to a medium heat and pre-heat a roasting tin or ovenproof frying pan on the hob at quite a high heat.
  2. Break the woody bottom ends of the asparagus off and peel the spears. Trim the excess fat off the lamb chops, but leave a little bit on.
  3. Add a little bit of olive oil to the saucepan, then add the lamb fat trimmings and let them render down. Add the garlic, bay leaves, mint and asparagus trimmings and saute for a few minutes, then cover with water, season it and bring it to the boil. Boil and reduce the mixture for about half an hour - this will make a nice stock that you will use for the gravy later.
  4. Meanwhile, season the lamb chops well on both sides and drizzle with a little Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. Put them into whatever roasting vessel you've chosen to use - they should sizzle vigorously on contact, if they don't take them out. Add a little more olive oil if it's really necessary, but use any additional fat sparingly as lamb is quite fatty anyway and quite a lot will have rendered down when you turn the chops over, plus a slight bit of charring actually makes the lamb taste better in my opinion. Turn them over once the underside has browned, which should take a couple of minutes, and let them brown on that side too, then add a splash of port and put them in the oven for about 15 minutes if you still want them to be a bit pink inside.
  5. Take the lamb out of the oven and let it rest on a plate (preferably in a warm place) while you make the mint gravy. Put the roasting vessel on the hob and turn the heat up to full, stir a little flour into the juices and then add the asparagus and mint stock. Bring to the boil and reduce, then strain into a jug or gravy boat (if you're posh) and skim any fat off the surface.
  6. To cook the asparagus spears, blanch them in boiling water for about three-four minutes until they're tender - don't overdo it though. I used the water from the boiled potatoes I served with the lamb.
  7. Serve with boiled or sauteed potatoes and drizzle with a generous amount of the gravy.