Category Meat

Hoisin, Soy and Ginger Meatballs

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ntil this recipe, I’d really underestimated minced pork. I like pork. I appreciate a good sausage (…ahem..) and I would fight you greedily for the crackling on a hog roast but I rarely cook with it. However my love of Asian-fusion recipes, the need for a warming Autumnal meal and some timely inspiration resulted in this tasty, moreish and speedy meatball dish.

It was an intense weekend. In training for 15km run round Lake Garda in October, it was decided that a smaller practice run was on the Saturday morning agenda. Two hours of enthusiastic and competitive running later, we’d clocked up 13 miles, some sore joints and a feisty appetite. So Sunday welcomed warm showers, relaxation and calorie replacement. And this recipe did a fine job.

Warming, comforting, firey, hoisin-sweet and punching in flavour, it was like an Asian hug in a bowl after a hectic weekend. It also makes a super speedy mid week meal and fantastic leftovers. I’m eating them as I write and they are just as good the second time round on a bowl of vegetable stir fry or raw courgette.

Rice – serve on your rice of choice. I’d recommend a jasmine or a sticky rice to avoid too many flavours. I do however like to squeeze a generous lime into the rice once cooked to add some contrast to the sweet hoisin here.

Serve 4

Meatballs

  • 600g minced pork
  • 30 self raising flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic gloves, grated
  • 1 small red chilli (as hot as you like)

Sauce

  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 125ml chicken stock

To serve

  • Steamed pak choy, broccoli,/any green vege
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Steamed coconut/jasmine/brown/sticky rice (of choice)
  • 1 lime
  1. Start by combining all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Use your (clean) hands, combine the mixture together so that everything is mixed well. Don’t overwork and pound the meat or it’ll give you rubbery meatballs. Chill for about 15 minutes.
  2. Once a little chilled, heat your oven to 240°C.
  3. Start cooking your rice now.
  4. Roll your pork into meatballs – golf balls size (about 16)
  5. Get a large frying pan on a high heat and add a splash of sunflower oil. (I like to fry mine to give a crispy outside then finish them off in the oven. Alternatively you can avoid this step and jump straight to the oven). Flash fry your meatballs for a few minutes until they form a dark golden crust on the outside. Place into a lined baking dish and add to the oven for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.
  6. Meanwhile make your sauce. Add a splash more oil to your frying pan and fry the spring onions on a medium heat to soften slightly. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.
  7. Add the hoisin and the soy and stir well. Finally add the stock and simmer gently until the sauce thickens slightly.
  8. Remove your meatballs from the oven and add them to the frying pan and coat them liberally in the sauce.
  9. Add a good squeeze of lime to the cooked rice if appropriate and serve about 4 meatballs per person on top of this. Spoon over some of the excess sauce.
  10. Scatter with coriander and a squeeze of lime if needed.
  11. Serve alongside your fresh greens.

 

Duck & Watermelon Salad

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‘ve a list of recipes that just catch my eye for one reason or another that I immediately add to my ‘to cook’ list. Those reasons could be the choice of ingredients, the vibrant colours or just a mood and craving but all contribute to the creation of this list. Shamefully the list has been growing faster than it has even had a chance to be depleted this summer! However an easy Tuesday this week called for this vibrant and fuss free salad. Not much cooking here – just a lot of chopping and fancy scattering. Studded with pomegranate gems, hidden with crispy morsels of duck supported by a solid foundation of juicy watermelon bricks.

Having just this week returned from a bootcamp-esque paradise holiday in Greece filled with wake boarding, yoga, volleyball (I could go on), this recipe offered the perfect balance to continue the health kick while fantasising about being back in the turquoise oceans and white sands of my much beloved Greece.

It has been adapted by a recipe from ‘The Londoner’. Adapted with an alternate dressing more heavy on the lime and some extra hidden gems – roasted peanuts in any dish are rarely a bad thing. But what we do share is our appreciation for the hot duck – cold melon combo that is just so refreshing and de-wicious.

*[Alex and Alice – if you’re reading (which I hope you are), put this on your ‘to cook’ list too before summer is completely over!]

Serves 2

  • 1/2 large watermelon, chopped into chunks
  • 2 duck legs
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • Bunch of mint, leaves picked and chopped
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Handful of salted, roasted peanuts
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 1-2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the duck and roast in a tray for an hour.
  2. While the duck is cooking, chop your watermelon into big chunks and add to a large salad bowl big enough to contain the whole salad.
  3. Add the chopped spring onions, red chilli and chopped herbs.
  4. Add the peanuts and pomegranate seeds (as many as you wish to balance the rest of the salad) and combine well.
  5. Combine the juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how juicy they are!) and the zest in a jam jar. Add almost the same measure of extra virgin olive oil, but a touch under so its more ‘limey’.
  6. Add the soy, sesame and some seasoning. Place the lid on the jam jar and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking. The last thing you want to do is add a bad dressing to your wonderful salad!
  7. When the duck is ready, quickly shred the meat and crispy skin. It cools quickly so in order to maintain the hot/cold vibe you’re trying to create here, pop it back in the oven for a final blast of heat to warm.
  8. Once hot, add the shredded duck quickly to the salad bowl and coat the salad and duck liberally in the dressing and combine well.
  9. Serve immediately!

I served mine with a nice fresh rocket and cucumber salad and some homemade coconut flatbreads. But this is still a good and healthy meal in itself. A few chunky roasted croutons would not go a miss here however. Just sayin.

Lahmacun Meatballs

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ahmacun is like a Turkish meat pizza which I’ve sampled in my many escapades to my favourite middle eastern restaurants and holiday destinations. Pizza you say? In a very loose sense. A thin dough topped with a layer of spiced minced meat and a scattering of tasty salad. However, I’ve been experimenting with textures and I decided to turn mine into meatballs – maintaining the spices and flavours of a traditional Lahmacun serving them on a warm pillowy nigella seed flecked flatbread and topped with a fresh crunchy raw salad.

This would make an excellent dinner party starter in a mini version or a light meal or lunch.

Serves 4 (Makes approx. 16 meatballs)

Meatballs

  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 1 small red chilli, diced
  • 1tsp (heaped) ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika
  • 50g toasted pine nuts (dry fry in a hot pan until beginning to turn golden and release a nutty aroma!)
  • Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Nigella Seed Flatbreads

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 150ml warm water
  • 1 1/2tbsp nigella seeds
  • Salt and pepper

Salad

  • 1 bag radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, cubed into 1cm dice
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
  • Small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 little gem lettuces, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Tahini

You’ll need 3 large bowl, one for each component to get yourself started. A large frying pan and preheat the oven to 180°C.

  1. Start by making the meatballs. Mix all the ingredients in your first large bowl and combine with your hands, squeezing the mixture together to ensure all the flavours are dispersed. Don’t overwork or pound the meat however. Season well. Taking golf ball sized chunks, roll into meatballs and place on a plate. Continue until you’ve used up all the meat and you have around 16 meatballs. Cover the plate and chill in the fridge until needed.
  2. Next, make the flatbread dough. Combine the flours, salt and pepper and seeds in your second bowl. Pour in the water and mix with a fork. As it comes together, get your hands in and combine into a dough. It shouldn’t be dry but nor should it be sticky. Depending on the texture, add a tough more water/flour to enable you to roll into a smooth ball. Knead for 2-3 minutes on a clean floured worktop. Set aside in a floured bowl and cover with cling film and leave to rest for  about 20 minutes or so.
  3. Assemble the salad. Combine all ingredients in your final bowl except the tahini and lemon. Season and then set aside until ready to serve.
  4. Begin the cooking – remove the meatballs from the fridge! Heat a splash of vegetable or light olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat and fry the meatballs on all sides until they are golden and a nice crust has formed on the outside. Line a baking tray with foil and add the meatballs (the rest of the cooking can be done in the oven). Scrunch up the foil around them to keep them sealed ask they cook and stay moist. Place int he oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, fry your flatbreads. Heat a dry frying pan over a high heat (you will likely need your extractor fan on here)  Take your dough, divide into 4 balls. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out into a small saucer size about the thickness of a 10p piece. When the pan is hot, add one flatbread at a time and fry on both sides, turning when beginning to brown and char in places. The dough will ideally bubble up and create air pockets but it doesn’t matter if not.
  6. As you fry and complete each one, wrap them in a pile in a clean tea towel to keep them warm and soft until needed.
  7. Once the flatbreads are toasted and the meatballs are ready, remove them from the oven.
  8. Dress the salad with the lemon juice and toss to combine.
  9. To serve, top each flatbread with 3-4 meatballs. Add a large handful or salad over the top and drizzle with the tahini if you like.

(A lime and mint yoghurt would also go down well here instead of tahini if wanted)

Enjoy!

 

Sticky Asian Brisket (Coriander, Peanuts, Lime and Chilli)

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nly a true occasion calls for the level of commitment that cooking a dinner requiring 5-6 hours plus additional prep time and a huge amount of will power and patience. And that occasion was, you guessed it, a Birthday. My sister’s birthday to be precise. Its a running joke (which is also true…and very much not a joke) that her Birthday is an (on average) 2 week occasion spanning the initial pre-brithday drinks followed by the Birthday eve event, the actual Birthday, the post Birthday dinner, the family occasion and finally a get together for those unfortunate enough to miss all the above.

So it was the family occasion when this recipe was summoned for a Sunday dinner with a twist. Sticky, slow cooked spiced beef marinated in soy and lime and scattered with fresh coriander and crunchy peanuts. As a fan of beef, brisket is a deep and meaty flavour that adapts perfectly to the slow cook. That and the Asian influence that my family adore, this recipe was a hit! The reduced soy based sauce at the end is particularly punchy, salty, deep and sticky so it would suit a refreshing simple crunchy salad or lightly flavoured rice to accompany.

Followed by a ginger cake (see here) with candles, singing, some more cake, and some ice cream for good measure it was a culinary Birthday I’ll have to try and top next year…

Serves 6 (Adapted from Delicious Magazine recipe see here)

Ingredients

  • 400g shallots, quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 200ml runny honey
  • 2kg beef brisket
  • 250ml shaoxing rice wine (from the world food section of large supermarkets)
  • 70ml light soy sauce
  • 70ml dark soy sauce
  • 100g fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 large red chillies, halved

For serve

  • 150g unsalted peanuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 red chillies, sliced finely
  • Large bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 limes
  • Rice
  • Crunchy salad (Little gems, chicory, cucumber, spring onion, celery lemon juice etc)
  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C and get a deep roasting tray ready.
  2. Heat a splash of oil in a deep frying pan and add the quartered shallots and fry for about 5 minutes until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the beef stock and half the runny honey and stir and heat to combine.
  3. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, fresh ginger, five spice and red chills in a big jug.
  4. Lay the brisket in your deep roasting tin and pour over both the stock and shallot mixture and the sauce from the jug. Cover with a piece of parchment and then with a few layers of foil enough to cover the tray tightly folding the edges down. Place in the oven for 3 hours undisturbed.
  5. After this time, remove the foil and parchment and turn over the brisket and baste. Cover again and return to the oven for another 2 1/2 hours.
  6. After this time, remove from the oven and increase the heat to 220°C.
  7. Pour all the juices from the tray into a frying pan and set the brisket aside. Bubble the juices on a high heat on the hob for about 15 minutes to reduce the heat by about half. However check the seasoning as you do so. The soy is quite a salty mixture so if you reduce it too much it will be overpowering. Add a splash of boiling water if you do so. Season with pepper and salt if needed at the same time.
  8. Cover the brisket with just a few ladles of the sauce and then drizzle over the rest of the runny honey. Return to the hot oven for another 15 minutes to caramelise the brisket and crispy the outside.
  9. Once done, remove the brisket from the oven and serve on a large pre-warmed platter with any of the juices and shallots remaining from the tray. Scatter over the herbs, peanuts, chilli and squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
  10. Serve with the reduced sauce in a warmed jug on the side and a good juicy lime half for all your guests!
  11. Serve alongside rice, flatbreads, salad or any accompaniment you like.

 

‘Mini’ Chorizo Scotch Eggs

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call these ‘mini’ as when referencing a Scotch egg these quail egg equivalent would be considered small which made them the perfect canapé for our New Years Eve party! After a long festive week of cooking for the family and indulging in experimenting in our family kitchen and fully stocked fridge, I was pleased to know that the dinner party I was to be a guest at required me to put down the oven gloves and simply bring a bottle of fizz! However it wasn’t long before I was tasted with canapés! I usually don’t bother with the faff but not one to let a challenge go, I wanted something that would get the guests excited!

I’ve also never jumped on the ‘gooey-in-the-middle’ Scotch egg band wagon. These days you can’t call yourself a Gastropub without proudly and confidently sitting a gooey scotch egg at the top of your bar snacks menu. But since I wanted to make a little extra effort I thought I’d give them a go! I know you won’t believe me when I say it but they are actually really simple to make! They do require some effort but what else was I to do on New Years eve day when the dinner was being prepare elsewhere?

Three simple steps and you’re done. I also made cheese and pineapple on sticks. No recipe required, and no ‘steps’….but caused equal excitement. Who knew?

Makes 12

  • 12 quails eggs (at room temperature)
  • 6 chorizo sausages
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 handfuls plain flour
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • 1 litre vegetable oil.

Step 1 – Boil the eggs:

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Gently add the quails eggs and boil for exactly 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water immediately until the shells are cool to touch.
  2. Tap each egg to break the shell (you can be rougher than you think with these but don’t be too heavy handed) and remove the shell. This can be easier under running water. TIP – when you remove the shell, there is a thin clear membrane beneath the covers the white. If you can get under this, the shell can be removed much easier, sometimes in one go!

Step 2 – Coat the eggs:

  1. Remove the meat from the sausages skins and combine in a large bowl.
  2. Take golf ball sized portions (or divide your meat by 12) and flatten on the palm of your hand into a large disc about 6 cm wide. Place one of your eggs in the middle and wrap the meat around it. This can be fiddly but just ensure its covering the egg. Once wrapped around you can mould it in your hand.
  3. Repeat with all the eggs, setting aside on a plate when done.
  4. Place the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs each in their own bowl.
  5. One at a time, roll the eggs in flour then egg, and finally a good coating of breadcrumbs, moulding in your hand (you can be rougher here) until coated well.
  6. Repeat to finish and set aside on a plate and refrigerate until needed.

Step 3 – Cooking the Scotch eggs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Take a large saucepan and add the oil. Heat on a high heat until hot. Test it by adding a piece of cubed bread. If it sizzles and begins to turn golden, the oil is ready. You’re aiming for 180°C so if you have a thermometer use this. (Alternatively if you have a deep fat fryer, heat to 180)
  3. In bathes of 3-4 (depending on your pan size) lower the eggs into the oil and fry for about 4 minutes by which time your egg should be golden and cooked through. TIP: If you can’t gauge the temperature of your oil and they turn golden too fast before the meat is cooked (like mine) remove from the oil when golden and place in a baking tray and finsih cooking in the oven for about 15minutes.
  4. Drain each egg on kitchen towel to absorb any oil and leave to cool

When ready to serve, scatter with sea salt, slice in two if you wish or if you can manage, each whole dunking into some decedent lemon mayonnaise before hand!

 

 

Dahl, Roasted Curried Cauliflower, Shredded Duck in Lime

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower duck

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower

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ou won’t be surprised to hear it was another week of stressful and busy work so the long weekend glowed like a beacon on Friday evening with promises of yoga, long runs in the sun and some experimental time in the kitchen to blog and relax the mind. I woke to a beautiful sunny day and after a long run to clear the working cobwebs I was already on my way to some downtime. All that was required was some time in the kitchen.

With a stressful period at work keeping 90% of my mind on the task it was time to start planning my second supper club to focus and begin that excitement again! With the date confirmed and inked in the diary I was more than eager to start developing the menu! With just over 2 month before the (second) big day it might seem premature but to get the invites and advert out as soon as possible and the ticket confirmations rolling in the menu was vital. Starter done. Dessert done and obviously featuring ice cream the main needed some attention. With the somewhat limited kitchen facilities and equipment of my cosy, niche and atmospheric chosen venue the dish needed some attention. Ambition needs to be carefully managed and focussed int he right direction.

While flavour is key here using wholesome ingredients cooked from scratch I wanted a menu that would make my potential guests salivate on reading and be booking tickets on autopilot before they could say ‘Deliveroo’! Flavour vital but practicality is also a contender here when cooking solo for 30 paying guests. And in addition economics, aesthetics and style are also important. Factoring all these competing aspects and a love of all things spice this punchy dish was created. I won’t give anything away but the next supper club main with feature something along these lines…

Serves 4

  • 4 duck legs
  • 1 x speedy dahl recipe (see here) with juice of 1/2 lime added at the end.
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp of black mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  • 3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
  • Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large lime
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the duck legs and roast for about 40 minutes in the oven.
  2. Scatter the cauliflower florets in a large baking tray and drizzle with a good glut of olive oil.
  3. Toss in the curry powder, turmeric cumin and mustard seeds and stir to coat. Add some seasoning.Jess - Curried Cauliflower2Jess - Curried Cauliflower
  4. After the duck has had 20 minutes of roasting add the cauliflower to the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile make the dahl and set aside to keep warm.
  6. Once the duck and cauliflower are ready remove from the oven. leave the duck to rest for a few minutes before shredding the meat into a warm bowl with two forks and quickly squeezing over the juice of the fresh lime.
  7. Toss the warm cauliflower in the spring onions and herbs.
  8. To plate up, ensure you have warm shallow serving bowls or plates and spoon a generous spoonful of dahl onto the bottom and let it ooz out onto the plate. Top with a handful of the cauliflower before finally topping with a quarter of the shredded duck
  9. Serve immediately while still warm and devour! Serve with warm homemade flatbreads or roti if needed.

WINE: This would be great with an aromatic white such as a Riesling or a Gervertz to balance the spice.

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower2

Turkish Spiced Meatballs

Jess - Meatballs3

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hilst the weather today has been glorious and sunny its still felt a little chilly around the ankles and certainly not the April weather I was hoping for! But as long as it isn’t April showers and May holds more promise then I can cope with that. So a Sunday evening after a long and satisfying gym session, run and ahem…jacuzzi session….a home comfort was required to replenish the nutrients and fuel me for another challenging week at work. But nothing on ‘forage in the pantry’ can be complete without the odd scattering of spice, dusting of chopped herbs or middle Eastern influence. So with Istanbul on the mind as the new top draw on my prized ‘must visit’ list, Turkish meatballs sprang to hungry mind and it wasn’t long before I was enjoying a satisfied hunger.

Serves 2

Meatballs

  • 450g minced lamb
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Pinch smoked paprika
  • Pinch ground cumin
  • Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Sauce

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seed, crushed
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50g pearl barley/100g giant cous cous
  • Large handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  1. Start by combining the meatball ingredients in a large bowl with some seasoning. Shape into 8 large golf ball sized meatballs and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Simmer the pearl barley/giant cous cous in boiling water until cooked according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside to keep warm.
  3. Preheat the over to 170°C and remove the meatballs from the fridge. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  4. Fry the meatballs to seal and brown for 2-3 minutes. Once well browned on the outside, wrap in some foil and place in the low oven to bake slowly while you prepare the sauce.
  5. Fry the chopped onion in the leftover lamb juices in the same frying pan adding a little more oil if needed. Soften for 5 minutes until translucent and beginning to brown. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Add the ground spices and mix to coat the onion.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and a little hot water to thin the sauce to the desired consistency and add some salt and pepper.
  8. Simmer for 5 minutes before adding the vinegar, the drained barely and all but a handful of the parsley. Taste and adjust accordingly. Add a little more water if needed.
  9. Remove the meatballs from the over and add, with any juices from the foil, to the pan. Simmer for a few minutes to heat through.
  10. Serve in deep warmed bowls topped with a scattering of the remaining parsley.

Jess - Meatballs4Jess - Meatballs

Crispy Asian Beef

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f you’re intending on sticking to or continuing to stick to a healthy diet this month after the indulgences of Christmas then I recommend Asian food as a good go to. It packs a reliant punch on flavour without compromising on health and nutrition. Not to mention that this is a really quick recipe and can be served out in about 20 minutes.

As a passionate cook and appreciator of food I have always been the type to savour my meals either for flavour or appreciation for the time and effort spent creating it – either by myself or more importantly a fellow cook. However, I can’t help but notice that many of us eat too fast. Not only does this encourage us to be unappreciative of the food, time and effort that has gone into making it but you cannot appreciate and savour the flavours. Sticking to the topic of nutrition and health this month, on a nutritional side the faster you eat the more chance you have of overeating. Eating slowly allows your stomach to register satiety at the right time. It also helps improve your digestion. Hand in hand with this I also recommend chewing your mouthfuls more to aid speed and digestion. Just putting down your fork (or chopsticks) after eat mouthful to enjoy, talk to your dinner friends and take your time is such a great habit to get into.

That said, a great way to get into this habit if using chopsticks! Not only is it fun and authentic but if you’re anything like me and still learning you can’t help but eat slowly…if at all. So obviously have a fork ready to hand to prevent starvation.

NOTE: Quite without meaning to I’ve created a gluten free meal using my stash of ‘Clearspring Gluten Free Brown Rice Noodles’. Asain food is a great go-to is your are gluten free. As I say, it packs a punch on flavour without compromising nutritional requirements.

Serves 2

  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 thumb size knob ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli (hotter the better here)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp fish sauce
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Bunch basil, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 100g ‘Clear Spring’ ‘Gluten free brown rice noodles’
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice 1 lime
  • Serve: I recommend a nice lime juice covered fresh crispy salad e.g. Cos lettuce, grated carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber etc
  1. Submerge and soak the noodles in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside kept warm until ready to serve.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok on a high heat. Add the beef mince and use a spatula to break up the pieces into chunks. then add the star anise. Fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to brown well and crisp up. Keep an eye on it moving the mince around continuously.
  3. After about 5 minutes when well browned add in the ginger, garlic and red chilli and continue to fry on a high heat until the meat is really browned and crispy as below.
  4. After about 5-10 minutes add the soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce and stir to combine. Cook until really dark and crispy to your liking.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped spring onions, coriander and basil
  6. Drain the noodles and squeeze over the lime juice and add the sesame oil
  7. Serve the noodles in warm bowls and top with your crispy beef piece and a lovely crunchy fresh salad.
  8. Jess - Crispy Asaian Beef 2

 

Beef Rendang

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‘ve been looking for a cold carefree weekend to indulge in this slow cooked curry for ages but with long busy working days, midweek life hasn’t obliged. I love any form of slow cooking and coupled with my more recent love and commitment to the Asian flavours of the East they are combined lovingly here in a comforting wintery curry that while warming the heart will also transport you to the sunny climates of Malaysia….of Bruges!?

Bruges might not seem like the most logical inspiration but a quick hop skip and jump over to Belgium for the evening promoted this weeks blog post! The cold chilly weather, the (sadly) persistent rain and the festive Chrismassy lights was cue for something warming on return to the UK. But my main incentive starts with beer.

Histroical, medical and romantic, Bruges is a small and compact little city. But it has without a doubt the highest concentration of chocolate shops and beer merchants littered on every corner! Belfry view done and canals walked it was time for the brewery tour!

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ne of the oldest breweries left in Bruges, De Halve Maan promised history and charm and certainly delivered. We began in the brewing room before winding our way romantically around the high beams and rafters of the old listed building from cold cellar to the top of the roof before ending up in the restaurant bar, rewarding beer in hand, leather sofas and a warming fire to dry our wet feet. With Belgium beer on tap we drank away the rainy afternoon with a platter of meat and cheese and long outstayed our welcome.

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o on return home and that carefree Sunday afternoon to indulge, we drank our loot with this warming curry.

Serves 3

  • 500g braising steak, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped (a hot as you dare!)
  • 2 inch large piece ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 lemongrass, bashed roughly
  • 15 g tamarind paste (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Large pinch ground coriander and cumin
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 350ml coconut milk
  • Rice, lime and coriander to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Start by making the paste. Place the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, tamarind and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until you have a fine paste.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a large ovenproof saucepan/casserole dish over a medium heat. Cook out the paste for about 5 minutes but don’t burn or let it catch. Next add the lime leaves, cardamon, star anise and cinnamon stick.
  4. Add the chopped beef and cook for 10 minutes on a medium high heat until starting to colour and brown.
  5. Meanwhile, dry toast the coconut in a hot frying pan until golden brown and toasted (careful not to burn). Set aside.
  6. Next add the ground spices and the coconut milk to the beef.
  7. Bring to the simmer and mix well. Add the coconut. Place in the oven with a lid for 1 1/2 hours .
  8. During this time, check and stir occasionally. After this time, check the thickness of the sauce. If it needs to be reduced, remove the lid and placed back in the oven for 5 minutes or so or reduce on the hob. Add a splash more coconut milk if it looks too dry.
  9. Serve on warm rice dressed in lime juice and scattered with coriander.

Gaucho Coffee-Chocolate Chilli

D

espite my healthy lifestyle the last few weeks have been fairly boozy. What with dinner parties, celebrations and an invitation to Kensington Palace (don’t ask), heading home to the Wiltshire countryside for some fresh air couldn’t have been a better cure this weekend. Warming crowd pleasing comfort food, dog walks and long girly catchups over coffee. Saturday evening, with the ‘forage in the pantry’ kitchen all to myself it was time to get cooking these crowd pleasers. And what could be more warming and enticingly friendly than a big bowl of chilli. Whether you eat it solo, topped with guacamole and soured cream or cheese. On mash, rice, nachos, cornbread or puffing pillowing flatbreads I’ve never met a chilli hater.

I’ve religiously used the same go-to recipe for years for my chilli (see here). With such a delicious recipe to hand I’ve never felt the need to deviate? However, with an urge to avoid the booze I decided to replace the wine with coffee. Hear me out.  And some chocolate. Please hear me out. Chocolate and coffee clearly are not a sweetener here but a subtle, earthy dark and meaningful background flavour to the slow roasted beef. If I’m honest, my true inspiration for this recipe was the newly released Doble & Bignal coffee infused dark chocolate bar. Having used this delicious chocolate in my recipes before I’m well aware of its flavour. So naturally it seemed like the perfect ingredient here. Delicious and dark. Puerto Cabello and Johe cocoa beans infused with Kilimanjaro Machare and Brazilian Rainforest coffee.

So….while my usual chilli recipe is a regular go to, this is a little deviation. No wine, slow cooked using chunks or melting beef its a lovely alternative. Oh and did I mention the chocolate!?

A variation on my all time favourite chilli recipe (see here)

Serves 4

  • 500-700g diced beef (brisket works well)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 heaped tsp each- ground cumin, coriander, chilli powder, smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 dried ancho chilli (or feel free to use poblano or chilpotle)
  • 1 tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 250ml hot strong coffee
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans, beans
  • 20g dark chocolate, grated. I used Doble & Bignall’s Coffee Infused Dark Chocolate (Must be 70% plus cocoa)
  • To serve (some suggestions)- soured cream, guacamole, cornbread, rice, grated cheese, baked potatoes, nachos, flatbreads…
  1. Start by heating a large heavy based casserole dish with a splash of oil and preheat the oven to 160°C
  2. Soak the dried chilli in the hot coffee to rehydrate.
  3. Soften the onion and pepper for 10 minutes in the casserole dish and oil. Once softened add the garlic, chopped chilli, bay leaves and the ground spices. Cook out for a few more minutes. You may need to add a touch more oil if it gets too dry.
  4. Once the dried chilli is rehydrated, remove from the coffee and chop. Add to the casserole dish with a splash of the coffee and give everything a good stir. Season well.
  5. Add the rest of the coffee, the sugar and the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the diced meat and I’ve everything a good stir. Ensure the meat is fully submerged. If not, add a touch more coffee or hot water.
  6. Bring to the simmer on the hot. Once hot, put a lid on the dish and place in the oven for 3 hours in total.
  7. After the first hour, give everything a good stir. After 2 hours, stir in the kidney beans and return to the oven. If the chilli is looking too watery remove the lid. If too thick, add a splash more water.
  8. After 3 hours remove from the oven. Use a few forks to lightly pull apart any large chunks of meat which should now be very tender. Add the grated chocolate and check the taste and seasoning. At this point the chilli can be simmered for longer on the hob or int he oven to thicken and reduce the liquid or kept warm until ready to serve with whatever side you like.

Jess - Coffee, chocolate chilli con carne