Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Spicy Orange Chicken Noodles

This is really very tasty and although it looks like a fairly substantial list of ingredients it’s quick to put together. You could even omit the marinating step altogether if you were really short of time.

I’ve used shirataki noodles: often heralded as wonder noodles due to the fact that they have virtually no calories (they are made from the root of an Asian plant called konjac so may also be called konjaku or konnyaku) they are in fact reasonably common in Japanese cuisine and although the chicken has more of a Sichuan Chinese flavour I thought they may go together quite well. You could however use egg noodles or serve this over rice.

If you do get hold of shirataki noodles it is likely they will be pre-packaged in liquid. The best way to prepare them, in my experience, is to rinse well under warm-hot water for a good 5 minutes, drain them well then dry roast by tipping them into a dry wok over a high heat and stirfry for a minute or two. You’ll know they’re ready when they seem to go a bit squeaky. Then simply set them aside until you’re ready to add them back into the stirfry.

Spicy Orange Chicken Noodles
Serves 2

275g chicken breast fillets, cut into ½ cm thick bite-sized slices
2 tbsp ginger, shredded
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tsp light soy sauce
1½ tsp potato flour (or corn flour)
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp toasted & ground Sichuan pepper
4 tbsp water or chicken or veg stock
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 small-medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
2 spring onions, finely sliced
zest of 1 orange (use a citrus zester rather than, say, a microplane)
1 tsp chili bean sauce
1 medium ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges
½ tsp salt
200g shirataki noodles

In a medium bowl mix together the chicken slices, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the potato flour, sugar, white pepper, ground Sichuan pepper, half the Shaoxing and half the ginger. Marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the water or stock, rice vinegar, the remaining 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing, and the remaining ½ teaspoon cornstarch.

Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the red pepper and carrots and stirfry for a few minutes until tender but still slightly crisp.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger & the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds, just until the ginger is fragrant.

Push the ginger, garlic, carrot and pepper to the sides of the wok. Carefully add the chicken, spreading it as evenly in one layer in the wok as possible, and allow it to sear for 1 minute without stirring.

Add the orange zest and chili bean sauce. Stir-fry for 1 minute, until the chicken is lightly brown but not yet cooked through.

Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for about 30 seconds more.

Throw in the noodles and mix in.

Give the rice vinegar mixture a stir and add it to the wok along with the salt and most of the spring onion (reserve a little). Stir-fry for another minute, or until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a plate and serve with the remaining spring onion sprinkled over.

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Friday, 19 December 2014

Jamaican Goat Curry

I’ve made a lamb Jamaican-style curry before, adapted from my Curry book but I’ve really wanted to give the real, goat-deal a try ever since I made that.

In Ludlow at a food festival with some friends earlier this year there was a stall selling packs of goat meat (and also the most amazing Goat Burgers - delicious) so naturally I grabbed a pack and stored it in the freezer until I could get hold of some Scotch Bonnets. In itself a bit of a mission until I had to make a trip to SW London.

Anyway, I’ve adapted from the recipe in Curry again with a few further changes inspired by ideas from other recipes read. Goat on the bone would have been better here but it took me so long to source some goat (admittedly in a fairly lazy way, a trip to Walworth Road or Peckham would almost certainly come up trumps a hell of a lot earlier) that I just went with what I had.

Serve with rice and peas (you could use this recipe). Fried plantain is traditional too if you’re able to get hold of some.

Jamaican Goat Curry
serves 3-4

500g diced goat
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 Scotch Bonnet chillies, 1 deseeded and chopped, the other left whole
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp ground allspice
½ small bunch of thyme, leaves picked & chopped
2 tbsp Caribbean curry powder
scant ¼ tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp corinader, finely chopped
½ tbsp grated ginger
½ tsp salt
200ml coconut milk

Rinse & pat dry the cubed goat and then mix it, in a bowl, with the chives, chopped chili, allspice, cumin, 1 tbsp of curry powder and half the thyme and garlic.

Leave to marinate overnight if possible, or at the least 4 hours.

Around 15-30 minutes before you are ready to cook, take the meat out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.

In a large cast iron casserole heat the oil and add the remaining garlic, thyme, the onion and ginger. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is softened and starting to turn golden.

Mix the remaining curry powder with 2 tbsp water to make a loose paste and add that to the pot. Cook, stirring all the time, until the liquid has evaporated.

Add the goat a few pieces at a time stirring between each batch to ensure that everything is coated with the curry mixture in the pan and then cook for five minutes until the meat is browned all over. You’ll need to stir fairly constantly to ensure it doesn’t stick.

Cover the pan and let simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally then remove the lid and turn up the heat as we’ll want the natural juices that were released as it simmered to be evaporated off.

Now add the salt & whole Scotch Bonnet as well as the coriander, coconut milk and about 125ml water (swirl the water around in the bowl that had the meat marinating).

Bring to the boil before turning back down to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the meat fall-apart tender. Serve with rice and peas.

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Tagliatelle with Prawns in a Sweet Tomato Sauce

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I have been adapting from a Sunday supplement pullout for many years (but I think it is from Jamie’s Kitchen or you can find it on his website) and really a rather good one at that.

With this one you should try and get hold of small (and therefore it seems by necessity cooked) shrimp or prawns as they will be that little bit sweeter and I think their small size just goes better with this recipe than, say, tiger prawns or large uncooked prawns. As they are pre-cooked of course you will need to make sure that you don’t then overcook them in the sauce. You want to make sure that they are heated through but haven’t gone tough and rubbery.

Tagliatelle with Prawns in a Sweet Tomato Sauce
serves 2

4 ripe tomatoes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
190 g small peeled prawns or shrimps
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
zest and juice of ½ lemon
1 shot of Cognac
75 ml single cream
200 g dried tagliatelle
1 small handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
30g ricotta (or feta)

Blanch and skin the tomatoes, then halve and chop pretty finely.

Put a pan of salted water on to heat for the pasta. Put a glug or so of olive oil in a second pan, and fry the prawns, garlic, lemon zest and tomatoes for a couple of minutes. Add the cognac and flame if you like: it will only do so for about 20 seconds.

Add the cream, allow to simmer gently for a couple more minutes and then remove the pan from the heat. Season the sauce carefully with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Meanwhile cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions and if your sauce will have cooled by the time the pasta is cooked, reheat it. Take this opportunity to check the seasoning carefully too.

Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and then throw back in the pan and toss with the parsley in the pan in which it was cooked. Divide the pasta between plates and top with the shrimp sauce. Crumble over a little ricotta or feta.

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bourbon Basted Pork Chops

I made the marinade for this in the morning and let the chops sit in it all day - this will of course increase the depth of flavour but in all honesty it is not strictly necessary and this could just as easily be whipped up after work and let sit for 30 mins or so

Summer, at the time, was here so we chucked them on the BBQ (the bf is an Aussie after all) but you could cook them however you want. Just remember that if you use bone-in they will need a longer cooking time, unless you’re using Iberico pork or something which is OK a little pink. And if you are, lucky you.

Some lovely Jersey Royals would go perfectly with this but unfortunately for me that wasn’t to be so instead we had some honey carrots and parmentier potatoes.

Bourbon Basted Pork Chops
serves 2

1½ tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp bourbon
½ tbsp grated shallot (about 1 small banana shallot)
¼ tsp hot sauce
¼ tsp pepper
2 pork loin chops

In a small saucepan mix together all of the ingredients except the pork and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Reserve half of the sauce.

Pour half of the sauce over the pork chops and marinate 30 minutes to overnight.

Grill the chops (in my case on a pre-heated BBQ) for 6 minutes and then flip and grill for a further 5 minutes on the other side, basting often with the reserved sauce. Make sure the chops are cooked through and then serve with your choice of sides.

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Sichuan-Style Braised Tofu with Mushrooms

This is a pretty quick meal to whip up when you’re short of time and fancy something without meat (note - to be truly veggie, substitute the chicken stock for vegetable or just water). Plus it is pretty versatile as you can use the tofu of your choice (I would have preferred silken but could only get firm), ditto mushrooms. You could even make it with chicken instead of tofu if you wanted a non veggie version.

This has some similarities with, and is partially inspired by, a kind of mapo tofu that I have blogged previously (I’m actually amazed that I haven’t posted a proper mapo tofu as it is one of my favourite things in the world. Will have to remedy that soon) but just about different enough to warrant it’s own inclusion.

Sichuan style Braised Tofu with Mushrooms
Serves 3-4

2 tbsp cooking oil
2 inch knob of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 skinny spring onions, cut into 1 inch sections on an angle
2 tbsp chilli bean paste
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine (optional)
1 block of tofu, cut into bite size pieces
20g dried wood ear mushroom, or black fungus, soaked & thinly sliced
100g shiitake mushroom (fresh), thinly sliced
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
200-300ml weak chicken stock
½ tbsp potato flour, mixed with 1 tbsp water
small handful coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp ground roasted Sichuan pepper

Steep the tofu pieces in very hot, lightly salted water and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat and swirl it around to coat the sides. Turn the heat down a little and sauté the ginger, garlic, and spring onions until fragrant. About 3 minutes.

Add the chili bean paste and stir around for a further minute or so. Splash in the cooking wine if using.

Remove the tofu from the hot water with a slotted spoon and add to the wok along with the mushrooms. Add the soy sauce, sugar and white pepper and stir everything together carefully so it is mixed well.

Pour in the stock, stir, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Add a little of the flour and water mixture, stirring carefully to thicken the sauce. Add more as needed but be careful to not add more than you need - you want it slightly thickened rather than gloopy.

Serve immediately over steamed white rice, sprinkle with the ground Sichuan pepper and coriander.

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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Cauliflower Puttanesca

There isn’t a huge amount to say about this dish really. Ultimately I love the punchy & rugged flavours of puttanesca: salty olives, piquant capers, tangy tomatoes and whereas my usual (and much loved) version of this has tuna, on this occasion i wanted something vegetarian. Of course I do have a bit of a soft spot for cauliflower as well so I thought this may fit the bill quite nicely. And it did.

Cauliflower “Puttanesca”
serves 2

175g pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
½ head cauliflower, cut into small florets
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
150g tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp sun-dried tomato paste
60g black olives, pitted & roughly chopped
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Parmesan, grated, to serve

Cook the pasta according to the package directions

Meanwhile, heat the oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook tossing occasionally for about 5 minutes, until golden.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute until fragrant. 

Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, tomato paste and crushed red pepper.

Cook stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is tender and the tomatoes are breaking down. About 10 minutes more.

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water and toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a little of the drained water to loosen.

Serve topped with the parsley and Parmesan.

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Grilled Chicken with Nectarine Salsa & Truffle Fries

It may now be winter, Christmas is approaching after all but here is a nice and pretty simple dish that should easily transport you back to the height of summer. Well, perhaps.

I think the piece de resistance here is the nectarine salsa - a really juicy, zesty relish that will go with all sorts of grilled white meats or fish. Peach is, naturally, a good alternative.

Obviously my choice was to serve it with marinated (in Old Bay seasoning, garlic olive oil and lime juice) chicken that we grilled on the BBQ (in winter perhaps use a griddle pan). The truffle fries are pretty genius too actually and this was altogether a really lovely meal.

Nectarine Salsa
serves 2 as a relish very generously

2 nectarines, stoned and diced (leave the skins on)
¼ small red onion, finely chopped
½ tbsp chopped mint
½ tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of ½ lime
½ mild to medium green chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp agave nectar (or honey)
½ tsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

Mix the vinegar, agave nectar and lime juice in a small bowl and stir together until well combined.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, pour over the vinegar / lime juice mixture and combine carefully.

Season to taste with a little salt & pepper.

Truffle Fries
serves 2

2 maris piper potatoes, cut into fries
1 tbsp truffle flavored extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese, finely grated, to taste
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 220C

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and then place the fries onto the sheet. Drizzle over the truffle oil and a little salt and pepper and gently toss to combine.

Place into oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Grate over some Parmesan, give another little shake then put back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

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