Friday, 28 November 2014

Smoky Bacon & Wild Garlic Udon

This is adapted from a recipe I saw on Guardian’s recipe swap feature online - as chance would have it, at the time, I actually worked with MiMi who has a secret life (well not) as a food blogger: a rather more professional one than me of course with a good-looking site and a published book.

Anyway I’ve adapted the original on the Guardian site a bit - I’ve used wild garlic instead of watercress, added some bamboo shoot strips and lightly fried oyster mushrooms and cut down the sugar a bit as well as mixing some red pepper flakes in with the paprika. Actually now that I think about it I did quite a lot different

Unfortunately my wild garlic was looking a bit sad - I’d bought it the week before at the market (convincing myself that they wouldn’t have it the next time I went) and I’d kind of messed up my weeks recipe plannage a bit somehow. But heyho - stirred into the soup it still tasted fine anyway even if it does look a bit limp.

Oh and by the way - red wine vinegar in pic - I actually used rice wine vinegar: only realised had put the wrong one out afterwards

Smoky Bacon & Wild Garlic Udon
serves 2

6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
800ml chicken or vegetable stock
½ tbsp caster sugar
200g fresh udon noodles
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tbsp black vinegar
2 spring onion, finely sliced
large handful wild garlic, trimmed & roughly chopped, stems kept separate
75g bamboo shoot strips
75-100g oyster & shiitake mushrooms, sliced
pinch of sweet smoked paprika mixed with pinch red pepper flakes, to serve

In a large saucepan bring the stock, bacon and sugar to the boil then down to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Fish out the bacon and slice into bite sized strips.

Add the soy sauces and wine vinegar to the stock and simmer for a few minutes more before adding the bamboo shoots and noodles.

Let the noodles cook in the stock for about 5 minutes - add the garlic stems a couple of minutes in.

Meanwhile heat a little sesame or garlic oil in a non stick pan and quickly fry the bacon pieces so they start to brown just a little at the edges.

Push the bacon to one side and add the mushrooms, again frying lightly until they start to colour slightly.

By now the noodles should be ready so divide them between 2 bowls and then pour the soup over.

Top with the bacon, wild garlic, mushrooms and spring onion and sprinkle over some of the paprika / pepper flakes mix.

Serve immediately with chilli oil on the side for those who want it (me).

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Beef Braised with Daikon

I’d searched high and low for the daikon that I originally used for the Korean Ramyun: it was massive, nearly 2 foot long, so I was damned if I was going to waste the rest of it after all that palaver.

A few internet searches came up with this Cantonese dish - it should be made with “chou hou sauce” which is a braising sauce made from soybeans, garlic and ginger and sometimes sesame too. My generously stocked Asian cupboard (yes I have one) doesn’t include any of this sauce but apparently hoisin is similar so my intention was to use that instead as well as to add a star anise to help replicate chou hou’s slightly sweet, anise-y taste. And some added sesame oil hopefully takes care of that side of things too

As it turns out I couldn’t find my hoisin sauce (unfortunately I wasn’t actually looking hard enough as I have packets of the stuff brought back from China) so used oyster sauce instead. As I was tasting during the cooking process it occurred to me that chou hou is supposed to be slightly spicy, made from soybeans and with a slight aniseed flavour. A bit like gochujang then so after about an hour (when this occurred to me) I stirred in a teaspoon of it.

Slow cooking will give you melt-in-the-mouth beef and tender daikon infused with a delicious and rich meaty flavour plus a gorgeous sauce that is terrific over plain white rice.

Braised Beef and Daikon
serves 3 with rice.

500g stewing beef, cut into large chunks
1 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
3 thick slices ginger
2 large garlic cloves, bashed
1-2 dried red chilli, left whole
60ml Shaoxing wine
1½ tbsp oyster sauce
½ -1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ - 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
½ heaped tsp miso paste
1 star anise
1 small stick cassia bark
small pinch of white pepper
½ tsp palm sugar
200ml chicken stock
250-300g daikon, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tbsp potato starch or corn flour
3-4 spring onion, green parts only, finely sliced
2 tsp sesame oil, to finish

Blanch the beef in boiling water in a medium pan for 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Wipe the pan then heat the oil in it over a medium heat. Brown the beef on all sides in batches. Put all the beef back in the pan then add the ginger, chillies, star anise, cassia, garlic, soy & oyster sauces, miso, Shaoxing, pepper and sugar. Stir for a minute or two until aromatic.

Add all the other ingredients up to, but not including, the daikon and stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so that everything is just at a simmer. Half cover the pot and let it do its thing for about 1½ to 2 hours.

After 1½ hours check that the beef is getting tender then add the daikon for the final 40 minutes or so. 

Mix up a cornstarch slurry by combining the cornstarch with cold water and then stir as much as you desire into the sauce to thicken it to your liking.

Serve with rice scattered over with spring onion greens and sprinkled with the sesame oil before serving.

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Chilli Cheeseburger Pasta

In devising this recipe I turned to my Pinterest pasta inspiration board - at the time, months ago, I was a bit hungover so the ones that stood out the most were those that were, shall we say, a bit on the dirty side.

All of these featured beef mince with cheese sauce as well as pasta: usually macaroni and most it seems based on that - would you believe - stalwart of American mid-week cooking, Hamburger (or Cheeseburger I guess) Helper. I don’t think we can buy it here: unless in the specialist food aisles of say, Selfridge, or one of the online speciality shops. Both of which meaning that you would pay a fortune for something that is the essence of convenience food.

But I digress slightly. I’ve put a kind of Mexican-inspired spin on this by spicing it up with salsa, jalapenos & spicy cheese for the sauce - at the time of cooking it was after all Cinco de Mayo. Yes, really!

But anyway, there is no denying that it is dirty, not particularly good for you, not very pretty to look at and, really, I’m unsure if worthy of a recipe. But do you know what? It tasted good and I’m sure at some point in the future in an hour of hungover need I will turn to it again and as this blog is at the least a record of my meals here it is.

Perhaps if and when I do try this again in a state of hungoverness (or perhaps I am being optimistic on that front given my current bun-in-oven-ness) I’ll endeavour to make it a one pan dish simply by foregoing the cheese sauce and just stirring in some cheese at end.

Cheeseburger Pasta
Serves 3-4

1 tsp olive oil
500g beef mince
30g taco &/or chilli seasoning
sml tin chopped tomatoes
250g salsa
2 tbsp jarred jalapenos, roughly chopped
500ml (approx) of beef stock
150g fusilli or other short pasta
For cheese sauce
30g butter
2 tablespoons flour
180ml milk
125g grated or finely chopped cheese (I used “Mexican” cheese & gruyere)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Brown the mince well in the oil, draining off any excess liquid if necessary when you are done.

Stir in the taco seasoning, salsa, tomatoes, jalapenos, and pasta. 

Stir together well then add about 400ml of stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover pan. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until pasta is tender - check about halfway through and if you think it needs more liquid add the rest of the stock.

While the pasta is cooking make the cheese sauce.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan then whisk in the flour and cook, whisking for 4-5 minutes until it becomes fragrant and starts to turn a light brown color. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil.

Continue to whisk until smooth and the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. 

Add a good grind each of salt and pepper to the cheese sauce then when the pasta is cooked pour it over the meaty pasta mixture. 

Stir gently to combine.

Serve immediately with a little extra cheese and perhaps some parsley scattered over.

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Osso Buco & Risotto Milanese

Osso buco means "bones with holes” or “hollow bones" and probably why it is never translated as such on even the most anglified of menus. It could be argued that slow-braised veal would certainly sound more appetising and perhaps even more accurate but the fact is that the bones , full of rich, delicious marrow rather than actually being hollow are the dish's crowning glory. And if you don’t fancy just gulping that marrow down solo then mix it in with the sauce and/or rice: you won’t get squeamed out but you will get the deliciousness.

The best-known version of course hails from Milan, where it is generally served with a vivid yellow saffron risotto Milanese. Most of the recipes I look at claim to be for 'ossibuchi alla milanese', yet seem to vary hugely. But I think this, using the most-oft cited ingredients and techniques is pretty traditional.

The risotto milanese, if perfectly traditional would also have bone marrow cooked into it but the richness of the osso bucco with the marrow from the shin bones is probably enough

I’ve wanted to make osso busso for ever. Well at least since I ate a plate of it in a ridiculously half kitsch, half grungy trattoria type place in otherwise swish Milan. I nearly swooned at the first mouthful and have thought of it often. I’ve been braving Borough Market more frequently recently and so thought I would finally buy some veal shins and cook this as soon as possible. So here it is.

A couple of things to note: firstly beware saffron bought in say, Morocco, that you presume to be real. Saffron should make the risotto milanese a vivid yellow, not the weird orangey pink as can be seen here. And do make the effort to whip up a little gremolata if you can to sprinkle over the finished dish. It will really make the flavours sing.

Osso Buco
serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
2 thick slices of veal shin, including the bone
20g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled & deseeded & finely chopped
1 strip lemon zest
100ml white wine
200ml chicken stock
sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
15g flour
grated nutmeg
salt & pepper
For the gremolata (serves 4)
½ unwaxed lemon, zest finely grated
1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
pinch of sea salt

Mix the nutmeg and salt & pepper into the flour and dust over the veal shins on both sides.

Heat the oil in a heavy based casserole over a medium heat and then fry the shins until golden on both sides.Remove and set aside.

Reduce the heat to low, add the butter to the pan and lightly fry the onion, garlic, celery and carrot with a small pinch of salt until softened but not coloured. Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute or so more.

Pour in the wine and deglaze the casserole, making sure to scrape up all struck on bits.

Reduce the wine by about half and then put the veal back in the pan along with the herbs and lemon rind and enough stock to just cover the meat.

Cover the pan with a lid and simmer gently for 1½-2 hours until very tender, turning the meat every half hour or so. Keep an eye on the stock level as you will want a thick but abundant sauce so add a little more stock as necessary.

Gently brush most of the vegetable bits off the shanks and with a flat spatula or fish slice carefully transfer the veal shanks to a dish. Strain the pan juices through a medium-mesh sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard on the solids with a spatula to extract as much sauce as you can.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and if necessary add a little cornflour mixed with a splash of water to thicken.

Serve the veal shins over some risotto milanese with the sauce poured over and some gremolata sprinkled over eveything.

Risotto Milanese
serves 2

40g butter
600ml hot chicken stock
1 small onion or a banana shallot, finely chopped
120g arborio rice
75ml white wine
1 tsp saffron
30g parmesan

Melt half the butter in a sauce pan then gently cook the onion over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until very soft but not coloured.

Turn the heat up a little and add the rice. Stir around for a minute or so until the rice is lightly toasted and coated with buttery onion then tip in the wine. Let this bubble up and absorb and reduce then crumble in the saffron.

Add the stock a ladleful at a time stirring often. Let each ladleful of stock get soaked up by the rice before adding the next.

This should take about 20 minutes: you want tender rice with the faintest amount of bite. Stir in the remaining butter and check for seasoning before stirring in the parmesan. You want the risotto to be quite oozy.

Let sit covered and off the heat for a few minutes before serving with the osso buco and gremolata.

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Quiche Lorraine

When I cooked this it was late spring. Now I’ve mentioned before that I have no problem myself with cooking and eating things “out of season”, by which I mean stews in summer and salads in winter sort of thing. But I appreciate that there may be some people that think my recipe posting rotation a little, well, odd. I’m very much trying to get back on track at the moment but sometimes life intervenes and, in all honesty, it will probably only get worse. We will have a new arrival in February and I’ll be concentrating more on cleaning up poo than anything else. I should imagine.

But anyway, I love a good quiche. Who doesn’t? Real men do, as we all know. I really should have made my own pastry for this, and one day I will but for now shop-bought pastry is perfectly OK. I did have a little leakage where I had rolled the pastry a little too thin and managed to split it when trimming off the pastry overhang but the taste wasn’t affected at all. This is really, really delicious and the photos (who knew it was so hard to get a good snap of quiche?!) really don’t do it justice.

Quiche Lorraine
serves 4

ready made shortcrust pastry, chilled
4 eggs: 2 whole + 2 yolk only, beaten
250ml double cream
200ml ½ fat crème fraîche
210g pancetta, cubed
1 tsp olive oil
100g gruyère, finely grated

Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 20p piece and line a nine inch quiche or loose bottomed tart tin. Leave the pastry overhang and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190C.

Fry the pancetta in the oil in a non-stick pan until cooked and crispy and set aside on some kitchen paper to drain.

Beat together the eggs & yolks, cream and crème fraîche and season.

Take the pastry tin out of the fridge and line with baking paper. Fill with baking beans (if you don’t have any dried chickpeas or beans will work just as well) and “bake blind” for 15 minutes. 

Remove the beans and baking paper and brush lightly with a little beaten egg (or spray with commercial egg glaze) before returning to the oven for 5 minutes. The egg glaze will help form a moisture-proof seal.

Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 160C.

Carefully trim off the excess pastry from around the edge with a sharp knife.

Layer handfuls of pancetta and cheese into the pastry case, keeping back a small handful of cheese.

Pour over the egg mix. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and the middle is just set. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to come down to room temperature.

If you have used a loose bottom tin, you can remove it from the tin by placing it in on an upturned jar, which will allow you to ease the sides away. Then, using a palette knife or a fish slice, slide it underneath and ease the tart carefully on to a plate or board, ready to serve.

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Friday, 21 November 2014

Spicy Korean Short Rib Ramyun

This is basically a Korean version of Japanese Ramen soup noodles and in fact “Shin Ramyun” are a popular Korean brand of dried instant noodles (and my preferred brand regardless of what sort of ramen I make).

I am a bit of a ramen obsessive truth be told: I have it frequently for lunch and dream of the day when I make my own tonkotsu ramen. For now I make do with this sort of thing instead. But anyway, the point being, as a massive ramen fan when I saw this recipe on Serious Eats while browsing through the “Food Lab” I knew that I absolutely had to try it.

The original recipe called for a jar of cabbage kimchi, with its juices but I had neither the time nor inclination (I don’t like kimchi) to make the trip to buy some, so noticing a packet of kimchi flavour instant noodles in the supermarket bought them to use the flavouring sachet. I decided a bit of acidic fermentation juices were probably also in order though and so also added a little of the pickling vinegar from my jar of preserved lemons.

Do feel free to leave either of these out - obviously it would be best to leave kimchi in altogether (so again, if you like it, feel free to actually use it) as this is after all supposed to be Korean, but there you go. Oh, and by the way, this is absolutely amazing.

Spicy Korean Short Rib Ramyun
serves 2-3 (actually - lets face it, 2)

1 (3-inch) piece kombu (dried kelp)
30g katsuobushi (shaved smoked dried bonito)
4 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp groundnut oil
500-600g beef short ribs
1 small onion, cut in half
1 (2-inch) knob ginger, cut into three slices
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Korean gochujang, plus more to taste
½ tbsp Sichuan bean paste (doubanjiang)
850ml chicken stock
150g daikon, cut into rounds
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic
½ tbsp Korean red pepper flakes (kochukaru), plus more to taste
1 kimchi seasoning sachet from a packet of instant noodles (see note)
1 tsp pickling vinegar (see note above)
½ tbsp soy sauce
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2-3 servings ramen-style noodles
2 soft boiled eggs

Cover the kombu with 600ml cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as it starts to boil, immediately reduce the heat to low and add the katsuobushi.

Let steep for 15 minutes (making sure it doesn’t boil), then drain the broth into a jug and discard the solids.

Heat ½ tbsp oil in a cast iron casserole over a medium-high heat until lightly smoking then add the short ribs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. 

You may have to do this in batches - just don’t crowd the pan else they’ll steam and not brown. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the onion (cut side down) and ginger to the pot and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside with the ribs.

Add 3 cloves garlic and the roughly chopped spring onions and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Return the short ribs, onion and ginger to the pot along with the gochujang and doubanjiang.

Stir to coat the vegetables and beef in the spice mixture.

Add the strained kombu broth as well as the chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Bring to a boil then reduce to the lightest of simmers, partially covered until the beef easily separates from the bones, about 4 hours.

About 30-60 minutes before the cooking time is up add the daikon and continue to simmer.

For best results, remove from the heat after 4 hours, allow to cool and then transfer the pot to the fridge overnight.

When ready to continue, strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer (if it had been in the fridge overnight you’ll probably have to reheat it slightly until it liquefies) and transfer the liquid to a medium pot and skim off any excess fat. Pick out the short ribs and daikon (probably you’ll be picking out meat and bones separately - discard the bones and transfer the meat to a chopping board). Discard the remaining solids (or eat all bar the ginger slices as we did).

Roughly chop the meat and set aside.

Add the kochukaru, kimchi seasoning and pickling juice to the soup and then finely grate a garlic clove into it. Add soy sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper but also extra kochukaru and gochujang if you like. Bring to a simmer and keep warm.

Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil in a medium frying or sauté pan over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. 

Add the chopped short rib and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisped in spots and well browned, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the ramen noodles according to package instructions and divide these between individual pre-heated serving bowls. Top with the broth, followed by the crisped beef and mushrooms, sliced spring onions, daikon, and a soft boiled egg split in half. Serve immediately.

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