Lemony courgette tagliatelle with a crunchy breadcrumb topping

Serves 3 gluttons

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Tonnes of tagliatelle, pappardelle, linguine (by this stage in the game, everyone knows how much they like)

4 medium courgettes

1.5 tsp table salt

1 (or 1 and a half if you like spice) red chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 lemon (zest and juice)

2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed

100g butter

4 slices of crusty white bread (or sourdough, or a couple of rolls)

Olive oil

Tonnes of parmesan, grated, to serve

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  1. To make the pasta, we followed Nigel Slater’s recipe on the Guardian, which is here: Nige’s home-made pasta recipe . However, and I’m quite amazed by our gluttony here, but we did 1.5 times this recipe – which should have served 6, but, um, 3 of us ate it all up pretty bloody quickly. This pasta recipe will also obviously work with pasta that hasn’t been home-made (it IS worth it, but it does take a couple of hours, if you’re moving quite slowly and drinking quite a lot of wine at the same time especially) but in any case, get egg pasta – so much tastier. This is Seil, making the pasta
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  3. 40 mins before the pasta is ready, grate 4 courgettes on the large-holes of the grater into a sieve, pour 1.5 tsp table salt over and mix it up, then leave to drain over a large bowl. Every 5-10 minutes, squeeze the courgette out with a large spoon then mix to make sure it drains evenly.
  4. After 25-30 mins of the courgette draining, melt the (generous) amount of butter in a large frying pan, then add the grated courgette and spread out so that it cooks evenly.
  5. After 10 mins of cooking, add the chilli, garlic and lemon zest, stir well then add the lemon juice. Season well with pepper but be careful with the salt as some will remain from the draining process.
  6. Start cooking the pasta. When it’s cooked, drain it reserving a couple of ladlefuls of cooking water.
  7. While it cooks, whizz the bread into coarse breadcrumbs. Then, in another frying pan, heat a few tbsp olive oil (don’t be shy) on a medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs, and fry in the oil until golden brown then remove from the pan and put on kitchen roll.
  8. When the pasta is cooked, put the courgette mix in with a tbsp or two of cooking water, a small knob of butter and toss well with a noodle spoon if you have it – it’s quite hard to dissipate but persevere…
  9. Serve with the crispy breadcrumbs on top, then parmesan.

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NB: we didn’t quite finish the pasta on round one, so (a little drunk by this point), mixed any leftover with an egg, some grated cheddar cheese, rolled it into little nests, then fried it in some melted butter and it was the best drunk snack/pasta pudding ever.

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Lamb ragu with yoghurt topping

Somehow, I managed to lose the photo of this great dinner party dish and had completely forgotten about it ANYWAY thanks to my brilliant friend Hattie (of https://www.instagram.com/thetwohatties/ and this book Hattie’s book among other things) I have remembered it, because brilliantly she just asked me for the recipe, then said actually come and join the dinner party tonight and eat it with us, which is a brilliant turn of events.
lamb
Serves 5-6
1kg lamb shoulder, boned and diced
2 onions finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
Carrot and celery – maybe one or two sticks of each
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp sea salt (minimum)
1 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp/50 grinds black pepper
1 tsp chilli flakes
a large glass of red wine
1 litre chicken or veg stock
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar SORRY or honey or something
400g orzo pasta/any squiggly pasta if you can’t get it
most of a big pot of Greek yoghurt
Coriander
zest of a lemon (optional)
1. Heat a frying pan to super hot with plenty of olive oil, and season the lamb with salt and pepper then fry off the lamb in batches until browned on all sides. Don’t do it all at once or you’ll just stew the lamb and it won’t crisp – the browning is important because that’s where a lot of flavour comes in.
2. Then put some more olive oil into a big casserole dish, add the lamb, then the onions, carrot and celery and cook for another five minutes, stirring so that everything cooks evenly.
3. Add the garlic, cinnamon sticks, chilli flakes, black pepper, sea salt and herbes de provence and then cook for another minute or two.
4. Add the wine, and bubble down for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol, then add the chopped toms and half the stock and the honey. Bubble for 1.5 hours until the meat is super tender. Check it after half an hour,stir, then again 30 mins later and if it needs the other half of the stock, add it in then.
5. Heat the oven to 1800C. Take out the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, check the seasoning and add more salt if you need, then add the orzo. Stir well and cook it in the oven for 20 minutes. Then take the casserole out of the oven and turn it up to 200C. Spread the Greek yoghurt on top, and bake for 10 minutes.
6. Chop the coriander and sprinkle it on top, then zest the lemon and sprinkle that on too – it adds a lovely freshness. I have actually now thought of adding some lemon zest after removing the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, before adding the orzo… but having not tested it, I leave that up to you. Serve with a big green salad, maybe some green beans too if you’re feeling up to it.
UPDATE:. Hattie tried adding the lemon zest along with the pasta/orzo and it worked REALLY well so definitely do that.

Mozzarella parma ham and tomato hedgehog bread

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Now this looks good – but imagine how good it is when drizzled with olive oil and baked for 20 minutes until the cheese melts and the bread goes crispy…

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This melted cheese hedgehog is brilliant to have out if you’ve got people over for a couple of drinks at the weekend but don’t want to put on a proper meal; fantastic for a picnic (wrap it in foil to bake it, then when still hot wrap it in greaseproof paper then several layers of newspaper. I did this and 4 hours later it was still just warm and melted, and absolutely delicious on a sunny river bank with some white wine.

Ingredients

1 sourdough loaf

2 balls of mozzarella, sliced

5 large tomatoes, sliced

160g parma ham, torn

20-30 basil leaves

2 garlic cloves

Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Method

It couldn’t be simpler to make:

  1. Slice the bread into a hedgehog shape (see above), about halfway down the bread so that it doesn’t fall apart.
  2. First, cut the garlic cloves into tiny slivers and stuff them around the bread, rubbing the bread with the garlic cloves first if you like for extra flavour.
  3. Then stuff with the mozzarella slices, tomato, basil and parma ham torn into smaller pieces, along both the horizontal and vertical slices. Stuff loads in – you will never feel that you’ve got too much melted cheese, are you?
  4. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper along the stuffed cuts.
  5. Wrap it in foil, and when you’re ready, bake in the oven at 200C for 20-25 minutes.

For evidence that it went down well:

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Guess whose party it was…

Super easy sausage rolls

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550g sausages (a pack of 6 plus 2 more)

1 pack puff pastry (ready rolled if you’re in a hurry)

1 tsp herbes de provence

2 tbsp ketchup

Maldon sea salt

40 grinds black pepper

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Take the sausages out of their skins and put the meat into a bowl.
  3. Add the ketchup, herbes de provence, chilli flakes, maldon and the black pepper
  4. Dust your surface or a chopping board with plain flour, then roll out the pastry to about the thickness of a one pound coin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a bottle of wine.
  5. Cut the pastry into two or three widthways (or really however you want – this bit isn’t complicated, you just need to roll sausage meat in pastry). Squidge sausage meat generously down the lengths then roll the pastry around it with about 2-3cm overlap. Do the same with the other bits until all the pastry and sausage has been used up. I made two big ones, and two mini ones with leftover bits and bobs. It looks fancier to make big ones, but it can be unwieldy when trying to maneouvre them.
  6. Put the rolls on greaseproof/baking paper on a pan with plenty of room around them for the puff pastry to expand
  7. Lightly beat the egg then paint it over the top of the pastry .
  8. Put the rolls into the preheated oven for 25 minutes. They should be golden by then but bigger rolls might have a soggy bottom, so flip your larger rolls upside down (leave smaller ones as is) and cook for another 10 minutes – 35 mins in total should do it.

I made these for an early evening prosecco party on Saturday … other (carb-heavy for soaking up the fizz) dishes coming in other posts…

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Cauliflower mash topped pie

Monday night, really blimming chilly, needed a warming restorative meal BUT still healthy. So I made a mash out of leeks and cauliflower which tasted amazingly like bechamel sauce. Some kind of weird alchemy – I don’t know – but it was delicious, and basically made a gorgeous pie, just out of vegetables and a tiny bit of butter and cheese. Tiny.

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Ingredients

1 aubergine, chopped into chunks

4 small courgettes/3 large courgettes chopped into chunks

2 red onions, chopped

2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped

1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp herbes de Provence/mixed herbs

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp brown sugar

Olive oil, sea salt and black pepper

For the topping:

2 leeks

2 small cauliflower/1 large cauliflower

25g butter

200ml water

100-200g parmesan/manchego (either/or, or whatever melting cheese you have in)

Method

  1. Heat a large casserole/massive pan on a low heat, with a large glug of olive oil. When hot, add the onions and turn up to a medium heat. When they start to soften, add the sliced/chopped red and green peppers, and stir well. After about 10 minutes, the peppers should be soft.
  2. Add the courgettes and aubergines. Stir well, and add another glug of olive oil if it seems to be sticking. Turn the heat up if you have the time and the inclination to stay stirring it.
  3. After 4-5 minutes, add the garlic cloves and tomato paste. Cook for another few minutes, stirring and tossing the veg so that everything cooks at the same time.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, stir well, and leave to reduce and cook through, as the courgettes and aubergines will still need at least 15 mins cooking. Add the brown sugar (chopped tomatoes always need a tiny bit of sugar, as they have a slight bitterness) or a bit of honey if you want to avoid sugar, plus the Herbes de Provence.
  5. Meanwhile, chop the leeks into slim slices (take off the outer layer first), wash them, then put in a pan with the cauliflower cut into small florets. Add a large dash of olive oil, 25g butter, and 200ml boiling water. Put the lid on, and steam for 15 minutes. If all the water has gone, add another large dash/50ml and steam for another 5-10mins. You want the cauliflower and leeks to be falling apart and really well done.
  6. When they are done, blitz them in a food processor with grated fresh nutmeg, generous amounts of sea salt and pepper, and a bit more butter if you wish. Blitz in batches so that it gets really smooth and pureed. I did mine in my nutribullet but as it was quite hot, I was a tiny bit concerned it would blow up – it was steaming more than I would have liked…
  7. Turn the oven on to 200C.
  8. When the ratatouille has cooked down, and is delicious, spread it into a large pie dish. Spread the ‘mash’ over the top, sprinkle the manchego/parmesan/cheddar/whatever hard melting cheese you have in, then put in the oven for 20 mins. Serve with green salad. GREAT for leftovers. IMG_6617

Roasted squash, chilli and coconut soup with turmeric

squash and coconut chilli soup

Last night I left work late (curse of Thursday – we go to press with Saturday Times Weekend on a Thursday night, so rarely leave before 8pm) and I was feeling a bit rotten and in need of a soup hug. So it was a cornershop supper… I got my hands on a couple of squash, some coconut milk, coriander, and winged the rest – and it was superb. Bonus points for winter because it had garlic, turmeric and ginger, all of which boost the immune system.  Here goes:

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 butternut squash

2 small red chillis (deseeded)

1.5 tsp cumin (ground)

0.5 tsp chilli flakes

0.5 tsp turmeric

Generous sprinkle of cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp)

3 inch piece ginger, peeled

2 x 400ml tins of coconut milk

400ml chicken stock (made with one of the Knorr jelly pots)

Small bunch coriander

4 garlic cloves

0.5 tsp fish sauce

Greek yoghurt, to serve

Olive oil

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Turn the oven on to 220C. Peel the squash, cut it in half, scoop out and discard the seeds. Chop the squash flesh into medium-sized chunks. Douse liberally in olive oil, sprinkle over the cumin, turmeric, chilli flakes and cinnamon, then get your hands in and toss it all in a massive baking tray. Chuck in the garlic cloves as is (i.e. without peeling, still whole and with skins on. They will go gorgeously sweet when roasted)
  2. Meanwhile, peel the ginger, make the stock etc. Do all the prep.
  3. When the squash is cooked (about 30 mins, but check after 15 mins), start building the soup. I made mine in a nutribullet which meant chucking in 1/4 of the squash mixture with a large dollop of coconut milk/stock, ginger, the garlic squeezed out of  its skins… As you go, pour each whizzed section into a large pan – at this stage it doesn’t matter how you whizz it up, as it’s all about to be adjusted. Do not include the coriander, yoghurt or chilli in the whizzing, and don’t put in all the coconut milk or stock as you will want to do that later, to taste. Alternatively, if you have a food processor, just whack the squash, ginger, a bit of coconut milk, garlic (without skin) and then continue to the next step.
  4. When all the veg is whizzed, now you can start to fiddle with the amount of coconut milk, stock etc. Bring the thick whizzed veg/soup mixture to the boil in a large pan. Add most of the coconut milk and most of the stock, and taste. Add a hefty pinch of Maldon sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and the fish sauce (it might sound like an odd addition, but fish sauce is used to give depth in Thai cooking and is a gentler way of salting the soup). Stir well, and taste.
  5. Keep tickling the soup until it tastes how you like it. If you like it thinner, add some hot water or more stock.
  6. When it’s tasting good, chop the coriander, chop the red chilli and heat some bowls. Spoon the soup into the bowls, and top with a large spoonful of yoghurt, some chilli and some coriander. The remainder (if you can stop yourself eating it all in one) will be great as a leftover the next day.

Lamb shawarma

This spice mix can be rubbed onto any type of lamb. I tried it on lamb breast (one of the cheapest cuts available – this cost £3) for this recipe, but would probably not bother with breast in the future unless feeling particularly skint – I’d go for a leg or a shoulder instead. Anyway I’ve written it up as cooked here, as it was very tasty, and is convenient when there are only two or three of you as it tends to come in a small, boned, rolled breast.

Serves two, comfortably

For the spice mix:

2 tsp black peppercorns

4 cloves

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1/2 a cinnamon stick

1/2 mace (or nutmeg), grated

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tbsp sumac

1 tsp sea salt

For the lamb

1/2 lemon, zest and juice

3 garlic cloves, crushed

40ml olive oil

700g (or thereabouts) lamb breast

50 ml red wine

2 tbsp dry sherry

Groundnut oil

1/2 fennel bulbs, fronds discarded, white bulb chopped into 8

For the vegetables

1 parsnip, peeled

1 carrot, peeled

1 sweet potato, peeled

1/2 a celeriac, peeled

1/2 tsp sumac

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

Handful fresh parsley, chopped

Olive oil

Green beans or green salad, to serve

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  1. First, toast the spices in a pan for a couple of minutes. Then whizz them up in a spice grinder until they are a fine powder.
  2. Then, add the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice and mix well.
  3. Rub the marinade over the lamb, and really massage it into the fat/meat (don’t remove the string from the lamb). Leave for 2 hours at room temperature ideally, not in the fridge (unless it’s a hot day/room, in which case do put it in the fridge).
  4. When marinaded, heat the oven to 180C. Then heat a frying pan to hot, hot, hot. Splash in some groundnut oil and sear the lamb on all sides, until just brown.
  5. Then transfer the lamb to a casserole, heat it underneath, then add about 50ml red wine and the dry sherry to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Put it in the oven with a lid on for 30 mins.
  7. Take it out, check it, if it looks at all dry, add a splash of water then return for another 30 mins.
  8. Take it out, turn the oven down to 140C. Add the chopped fennel and a splash of water. Return to the oven with foil instead of a lid for 30 minutes, then check, and put back in without the lid for another 50 mins-an hour, checking halfway through. You want the lamb to be sitting in a couple of cm of water – the marinade will melt down to make the most delicious sauce.
  9. While the lamb was cooking, I did this which was pretty great (WAR AND PEACE NAMEDROP)
  10. IMG_6235
  11. 30-40 mins before the end of the lamb cooking time (bear in mind that it should rest for 10-15 mins too), start making the vegetables.
  12. Cut the vegetables into fat matchsticks. Toss them with the olive oil, cumin seeds and sumac then roast at 200C for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  13. When cooked, toss the vegetables with the sherry vinegar and parsley, and some sea salt and black pepper.
  14. Remove the lamb from the fennel and gravy, and set aside in a warm-ish spot covered in foil and with a teatowel on top to rest for 1o-15 mins while you finish the gravy and veg.
  15. Put the casserole with the fennel and shawarma gravy on the hob, and bubble down. Taste it – it may need a sharpness in which case add a dash of red wine or balsamic vinegar, then add Maldon sea salt and bubble down again. It shouldn’t need too much adjustment.
  16. Tear the lamb apart with two forks, then put in a warm serving dish with the fennel and pour the shawarma gravy on top. Serve with the veg and some green beans and/or green salad.
  17. shawarma

 

 

 

 

Vietnamese lemongrass beef and noodles

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This recipe went down extremely well but I would say, make it first for two people because it’s very easy but there are loads of stages and by the time we sat down it was past 9. I think that’s fine, some people don’t…

Serves 6

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE (nuoc cham)

I’d normally make double this so that I can drink it later – it’s that good

60ml fish sauce

60ml rice vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red birdseye chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp lime juice

 

FOR THE BEEF

4 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

800g minced beef (don’t get the low-fat/lean version)

Groundnut oil, for cooking

4 lemongrass stems, sliced lengthways into quarters

6 spring onions, white parts sliced (green parts discarded)

1 small onion, chopped

600g water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

FOR THE SALAD

300g dried rice vermicelli noodles

250g beansprouts

1 cucumber, cut into sticks

1 handful mint, leaves torn off stems

1 handful coriander, leaves torn off stems

150g iceberg lettuce, chopped

TO SERVE

150g peanuts

Fried shallots (available in Chinese supermarkets)

4 spring onions, finely sliced

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  1. First, make the dipping sauce. Mix the rice wine vinegar in a small pan with the fish sauce, sugar and 100ml water in a small pan over medium heat and stir to combine. Heat the mixture to just below boiling, then take it off the heat. Add the chilli and garlic. When you’re about to serve and it’s cool, add the lime juice.
  2. Then, in a bowl, combine the fish sauce, sugar, a pinch of sea salt and loads of freshly ground pepper. Mix it well then add the beef and mix again so that beef is as coated as possible. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  3. Cook the vermicelli noodles as per the pack instructions and set aside tossed in a bit of sesame oil so that they don’t stick together, and cover with a damp tea towel until you need them.
  4. Heat a large splash of groundnut oil in a wok ideally, or a massive frying pan. Add the onion and lemongrass and cook over a medium heat, until the onion is soft and the lemongrass smells amazing. Then add the garlic and cook that for a minute. Whack up the heat, add the marinated beef, then stir fry, stirring well and breaking up the beef as you go, for 3-4 minutes until it’s all browned. Then take the beef mixture out of the pan, set aside, then immediately add a bit more groundnut oil, put the water chestnuts into the pan and fry them on a high heat for a few minutes, then season them with some Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. When cooked, toss together with the beef mixture.
  5. Chop the cucumber into little sticks, rip the mint leaves off the stems, and chop the iceberg lettuce into chunks or strips, as you wish.
  6. Put the peanuts into a pan on a medium heat, and cook them for a few minutes shaking the pan regularly until they are browned. They turn very quickly so be careful – don’t leave them alone. When toasted, chop them roughly. They’ll go crispy as they cool.
  7. Don’t clean the pan! When you’re ready to serve, make a salad base of the iceberg lettuce, some beansprouts, the cucumber sticks and some of the mint. Then heat up the pan again, put some more groundnut oil in, heat to high, add the beef and water chestnut mixture, fry it up for a minute, then add the noodles, fry them up, mix it all together then put on top of the salad mixture. Douse it in the dipping sauce, then top with the remaining torn mint leaves, toasted chopped peanuts, fried shallots and sliced spring onion.

 

 

Chicken, mushroom and tarragon pie

1 onion

1 large leek

200g pancetta cubes

2 large garlic cloves, crushed/minced

400g mushrooms (a chestnut and small button mix is good), chopped to the size of the smaller button mushrooms

1 chicken stock pot (these Knorr ones http://bit.ly/1P5ZFX9)

200ml double cream

The leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Jus-rol puff pastry in a roll

Olive oil

1 egg

  1. Fry the onion and 1 massive leek in lots of olive oil until soft. Then push them to the side of the pan and add the pancetta cubes.
  2. Add the garlic, and cook for two mins stirring regularly.
  3. Add the mushrooms and stir through. When they’re beginning to turn golden brown, take the mix out of the pan and set aside. Don’t worry if you miss a few bits. If you have a massive pan, just leave it in, but even my cast iron Le Creuset couldn’t take it all.. you don’t want it too squished or the chicken won’t cook.
  4. Put the chicken in the pan and cook until it’s just cooked and no longer pink in the middle (test one of the biggest chunks), then add the leek and mushroom mixture back in.
  5. Mix the stock jelly pot with 400ml boiling water then pour half of that in and bubble it down for a few minutes.
  6. Add the tarragon, 150ml of the double cream and bubble down again for 4-5 mins, stirring regularly. Add a LOT of freshly ground black pepper, it’ll need it. Taste, and add a pinch of Maldon sea salt, more if needs be. If it’s too rich, adjust with more stock, or just thin it with some hot water. If it’s not rich enough, add more cream. IMG_6090.JPG
  7. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  8. Roll out your puff pastry until it’s the thickness of a £1 coin. Any thinner and it won’t puff properly and that would be very sad.
  9. Put a black pie bird/pie funnel/egg cup in the centre of the pie, then lay out the puff pastry on top making sure that it goes over the side of all the edges. I like to leave the excess on, because it’s delicious to pick at.
  10. If you want, cut out some letters, leaves etc with any leftover pastry. I wrote YOLO and RAHA (the initials of everyone present-  Ru, Abi, Andreas and me, Harriet) because I was a bit drunk and thought it was funny.
  11. Put the pie in the oven for 18-20 mins until golden and puffed.
  12. Serve with sweet potato mash with a bit of butter and mustard, and green beans.IMG_6124IMG_6125IMG_6127

Vietnamese pho (pronounced fuuurrr)

Of course the best thing about making pho is how you pronounce it. It’s also absolutely delicious, healthy, warming, cheap and good to make for a couple of friends on a week night, particularly when they’re on January health kicks. It’s incredibly easy – the method may look long below but that’s only because I’ve over-explained it. The second time you do it, it’ll be ready in  20 mins max.

Serves 2, very generously (scales up easily, just double the recipe for 4)

Ingredients

100g tofu

Handful of coriander, taken off the stalks

1 red chilli, sliced

A small handful of peanuts  or cashew nuts (unsalted, unroasted – just plain)

2 jelly pots of chicken stock  (these things: http://bit.ly/1P5ZFX9)

2 courgettes, sliced with a peeler or done with a spiraliser if you have one

1 two-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and halved

1 star anise

2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed as you wish

5 spring onions, sliced into tiny rounds (not the tough green bit at the end – only do 2/3 of the onion)

100g bean sprouts

100g tenderstem broccoli, sliced in half if they have fat trunks

100g mushrooms – chestnut (sliced lengthways), or oyster (also sliced lengthways) if you can find them, or a mix of both

2-3 tsp tamari or dark soy sauce

Olive, groundnut or coconut oil

1 lime, cut into wedges to serve

  1. Prepare everything into tiny little dishes, like on Ready Steady Cook. The actual cooking of this is very quick, so you need to be ready.
  2. Toast the cashews or peanuts in a dry frying pan for 5-8 mins on a high heat, tossing/stirring all the time so that they go brown but don’t burn. Then take them out, and chop them with as big a knife as you have, until they’re quartered or more – a mix of size is good, texture-wise.
  3. Put the sliced chilli into one ramekin, the nuts into another, the lime into another, half the spring onions in one and the coriander (very roughly chopped) into another.
  4. Cut the tofu into 2cm x 2cm pieces and set aside.
  5. Heat the stock – 2 jelly pots with about 750ml boiling water, then set aside.
  6. In a large pan, add a big splash of olive oil, half the spring onions and the two garlic chunks (more if you’re feeling under the weather – it’s very good for the immune system). Soften them a bit on a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add one of the garlic cloves, and the mushrooms. You could mix a couple of different types of mushrooms. Then add the broccoli straight away. Toss it all together and cook for a couple of mins on a medium-high heat, stirring all the time so that it doesn’t catch.
  7. Add the star anise to that pan. Set aside if needs be while you do this next bit.
  8. In a frying pan, put the other chopped/crushed clove of garlic with a large splash (about 1 tbsp) olive oil or coconut oil. Fry it up for about 30 seconds then add the tofu and fry it in the garlic for 5 mins, tossing it regularly and making sure that every surface of the tofu square gets browned – that’s the only way to make sure tofu tastes good. If the garlic doesn’t attach itself to the tofu but instead begins to burn, just chuck it – it will have already done its job by flavouring the oil and tofu and burnt garlic tastes bitter and horrid.
  9. Then add the tamari or soy sauce to the pan with the tofu and toss it around loads so that it all soaks it up like a sponge.
  10. When you’ve given the tofu its first five minutes and added the soy/tamari, add the stock to the pan with all the veggies in it and put it back on the heat, add the courgetti/peeled courgette and simmer for five minutes, then take off the heat and take the star anise out.
  11. Once the tamari/soy has been added, the tofu needs to cook for another 5 minutes on medium-high. Again, toss it and make sure that every tofu side gets nice and crispy in the tamari/soy – it really will make all the difference. Tofu’s rubbish when it’s not fried in lovely salty soy flavours.
  12. Assemble! Ladle the stock and veggies into each bowl, then the tofu, then let the guests dig in and sprinkle over the chilli flakes, nuts, coriander, spring onions etc, as they munch through the bowl.

 

 

 

Christmas leftovers pie

I was at home for Christmas at my parents in the Lakes, which is the most gorgeous place to spend any time. Family, fire, dogs, and a fridge filled with amazing food. There are also 3 kitchens – not because of greed, but because my parents run weddings at their house which is a National Trust property, and do all the catering themselves. My Dad has a utilitarian kitchen for the savoury food (which has an incredible walk-in chill room), my Mum’s is the sort of thing you’d see in House and Garden (aga and all), from where she does the canapes and puddings. Both kitchens are obviously jampacked with amazing ingredients.

In my Dad’s kitchen, to the untrained eye would be pans and pans of slightly suspect looking jellies and liquids in varying shades of brown. I know them to be carefully tended stocks from the bones of various different animals, most of which will have been reared in the Lake District and sold either by Lake District Farmers, or from Booths (the Waitrose of the north). Either way, the quality of the meat is phenomenal, and my Dad spends days, weeks, months, even years cultivating the most beautiful big pots of stock.

That means that when it comes to throwing together a leftovers pie (which is so, so much more delicious than Christmas dinner itself I think), I have pick of the stocks. I understand that not everyone has this; and I certainly don’t have it in my London flat (I mean – the bath is half the length of a normal one; there is absolutely no way I have a chill room). However, one of the greatest lessons that I’ve learnt is that stock is a continuous process. Every time you have a chicken, boil up your old chicken stock and put the new chicken bones into it, with fresh carrots, bay leaves, onions… whatever veg you have around, plus enough water to just cover it. If you can cut the bones so that you need to add less water, it’ll be even richer and more delicious. Sometimes I even just drink a mug of it. Very good for the skin, apparently. Do the same with lamb, or beef. Every single time you have a bone, boil it up again and add the bones and it will turn into the most beautiful unctuous rich delicious stock which will make every meal better, and every gravy into something magical. I’m not just using every adjective I can find – it really is that good (and easy to make something normal taste incredible).

In lieu of my having remembered to take a picture, here is a Christmassy picture. It’s Tamara Ecclestone’s Christmas card and it is glorious and hilarious in equal measure. I think she may have actually set up a fake chalet in her 57-room house just for this picture. (Sent to my Editor at The Times, not me…)

So the first thing I did, before assembling the pie, was to cut the goose carcass down into manageable size bits of bone. I put it in a pan, covered it with water,  a few carrots, onions, bay leaves, some fennel fronds I think…. Basically whatever I could find. I brought it to the boil then took it out which made it much easier to pick all the remaining goose meat off the bones (with washing up gloves on so I didn’t burn my fingers) and put it aside for the pie. I then put the goose bones back into the stock, added some chicken stock I found and let it all simmer away for a few hours before straining it through a fine stock sieve (something like this http://bit.ly/204zraY).

We had goose on Christmas Day, so what I found in the kitchen was the following:

A goose carcass, still with a good 3-400g of goose left on the bone

4 chicken breasts, sliced into slivers or cubes, as you wish – I like slivers

2 fennel bulbs (chop off the fennel’s bottom, and the top legs, then chop into halves, quarters then 8ths)

Some leftover roast carrots and parsnips

Puff pastry (in a 500g block like this http://www.jusrol.co.uk/products/puff-pastry-block/)

A large amount of stock

Leftover gravy

Onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Leftover raw bacon, if you have it

Leftover pigs in blankets

A generous pour of double cream. Probably about 100ml but do as you wish

A large bag of leftover brussels sprouts

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Some nutmeg, freshly ground from the nut of the meg if possible

And this is what I did with it

  1. In a big pan, in lots of olive oil, fry up the fennel pieces on a medium heat, stirring regularly until they are translucent and starting to look like softened onions.
  2. When they’re nearly done, add the onions and do the same – soften them until translucent. If you have any bacon lying around, add that now for extra flavour (chopped up into little pieces), fry until the fat is going golden brown.
  3. When THEY are nearly done, add the chopped chicken, turn up the heat a bit to medium-high and stir through the fennel/onion/oil mix, tossing and stirring regularly for a few minutes until they are just cooked. When cooked, they will be white all the way through – no raw pink middle. After about 4-5 mins of cooking and stirring, take a larger piece out and check it. Turn the oven onto 200C.
  4. When you think the chicken is just done, or nearly done, crush the garlic into the pan and making sure that you stir it pretty much constantly, cook the garlic in with the fennel and onion until it smells deliciously garlicky and is going ever so slightly golden but no further.
  5. If you are drinking white wine, put a large splash of it in now. Stir stir stir, and let it bubble and reduce a bit. Not too much – just a minute or so.
  6. Add the goose meat and stir well until it’s fully heated through. Add the pigs in blankets too, either chopped up or whole, as you wish…
  7. Add a few ladles of the MAGIC STOCK so that the mix looks nicely juicy (strain the rest of it, leave it to cool, skim off the fat then cool the rest of it and throw away the fat). Then add a bit more, add in the leftover roast carrots and parsnips (any earlier and they’ll turn to mush) an enormous splash of double cream (I’d use 50-100ml probably) and bubble down on a medium heat for a couple of minutes to cook and reduce a bit.
  8. While it’s reducing, sprinkle some plain flour out onto a flat surface, chop the pastry block in half and roll it out so that it’s slightly thinner than a pound coin, picking it up off the surface or board every roll and flipping it, with more flour if you need to stop it sticking. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a wine bottle.
  9. Find an egg cup.
  10. Check the mix – does it look nicely liquid, creamy and thick and delicious? Add an enormous pinch of maldon sea salt, lots of freshly ground pepper, some freshly grated nutmeg (or from a jar if you must). Taste it. If it’s not quite right, it probably needs more sea salt.
  11. Of course I expect you to be gloriously tipsy by now, because sober pies are pants, and cooking’s so much  more fun with wine, especially if you’re doing something like this which is more about the assembly than bothering to weigh anything.
  12. Put the egg cup (or a pie funnel if you have it) in the middle of the pie dish. Put the mix around it.
  13. Carefully place the rolled out puff pastry over the pie. The funnel is there to let steam escape, so cut a hole in the pastry so that the pie funnel will poke out in the middle – otherwise the pastry will get soggy and floppy in the middle and not rise up like you hope it will.
  14. Put it in the preheated oven for 20-30 mins, checking after 20 but NO EARLIER or your pastry will be flat and sad. You want it to be puffed and golden.
  15. 10 mins before the pie was cooked I cut the bottoms of the sprouts off, cut them in half (raymond blanc said to me DO NOT CRISS CROSS THEM ‘ARRIET, YOU ‘AVE BETTER ZINGS TO DO LIKE DRINK WINE WIZ YOUR FAMILEE) and then heated some oil to very hot in a big frying pan, fried them up, then added some butter and fried some more, then added some Maldon sea salt at the end and they were delicious. I may have also made mashed potato, that feels like something I probably would have done…
  16. When the pie is puffed up and golden, take it out and serve it in the middle of the table. Delicious. Serve it with redcurrant jelly too.

Easy Sri Lankan chicken curry

I made this on Wednesday night for a dinner party after work. I did something which I never normally do (but will now ALWAYS do), which is do loads of prep the night before. I had seen a recipe in the Sunday Times Mag for an Easy Sri Lankan Chicken Curry which looked delicious. It didn’t only sound delicious, it was super tasty – the (very discerning) guests have already asked for the recipe which is an excellent sign.

The ingredients list for the roasted curry powder is LONG. But it’s worth it, and then you’ll have them for next time. Also this is the bit you can do in advance the night before. Just plan ahead, ideally go to a great corner shop/vegetable shop (easier if you live in London) or massive supermarket where they’ll be about a quid each.

The only slightly strange thing about the recipe was that it involved almost no liquid, yet the picture looks juicy and saucy. As I didn’t want a dry curry, we were slightly liberal with the amounts (added loads more than suggested – see my annotated italic notes below). I also served it with wild rice (from M&S, which my Mum always gives me when I go home to the Lakes, in my ‘back to school’ Red Cross parcels) rather than steamed white rice because then it actually tastes of something, plus is good (ish) for you. Recipe is below the curry – it’s really very easy not to eff up rice, I promise – just follow my Dad’s rules as below.

Easy Sri Lankan chicken curry

This is a basic Sri Lankan curry. You can buy Sri Lankan roasted curry powder online or make it yourself. The harder spices will take longer to toast than the more delicate ones.

Serves 3-4

For the roasted curry powder
½ tbsp uncooked rice
A 2.5cm piece of cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods, seeds removed
½ tsp black peppercorns
2 cloves
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
A 5cm piece of pandan leaf (optional)
1 curry leaf
For the curry
1kg jointed chicken
1 tsp red chilli powder
1½ tbsp coconut (or cider) vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
A knob of ginger, chopped
A sprig of curry leaves
A 5cm stalk of lemon grass
3 cardamom pods
3 cloves
A 2.5cm piece of cinnamon stick
25ml coconut milk
1 tbsp black mustard seeds

To make the roasted curry powder, toast the rice, cinnamon, cardamom seeds, peppercorns and cloves in a large dry frying pan for 30 seconds, stirring often. Add the fennel and cumin seeds, then toast for another 15 seconds. Add the remaining spices and toast until lightly browned and aromatic. Remove from the heat, cool and grind until smooth in a coffee grinder or mini processor. You may need to remove the cinnamon stick if it is too hard. (Nutribullets are REALLY good for whizzing up spices with the two-prong whizzer- including the cinnamon stick)

In a large bowl, marinate the chicken pieces in 3 tbsp roasted curry powder, the chilli powder and 1 tbsp of the vinegar for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, lemon grass, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Fry until the onions are golden.Add the marinated chicken and fry until brown all over. Add 2 tbsp water to the bowl that contained the chicken, then add the liquid to the pan with the chicken. Add loads more water at this point – probably about half a pint, if not a bit more… Cover and cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk (loads more than they said – I added about 3/4 of a tin), season with salt, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Grind the mustard seeds with the remaining vinegar and add to the pan. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

HOW NOT TO MESS UP RICE

I always use wild rice (M&S is best)

  1. Chop up an onion into small pieces. Boil a massive kettle of water at the same time.
  2. Rinse the rice in a sieve to remove the starch. I always used to skip this stage for laziness but honestly, it is worth it. Shake it to dry as much as possible.
  3. Heat a large saucepan and put an enormous, long glug of olive oil in it. Heat it, add the onion, soften the onion gently until it’s translucent and yellow but not brown around the edges (if it goes brown, the pan is too hot)
  4. Add the rice to the onion, stir it around well so that it mixes with the onion and the oil. Keep stirring, over a medium heat – don’t let it stick. In a couple of minutes, it will start to sizzle.
  5. When it starts sizzling, pour in the boiling water. I aim for 1:2 (one third water in the pan, two thirds water). Sometimes, I put a bit more water in and it’s delicious and sticky. Sometimes I put a bit less in, and it’s more textured and al dente. Both are tasty. Make sure the heat under the pan is such that the water is just bubbling. Add an enormous, over-generous pinch of sea salt (Maldon is best) then give it a big stir, then bugger off and leave it alone.
  6. Put a pinger on for 15 minutes. It’ll take 18 mins probably, but check that it’s ok for water after 15.
  7. It shouldn’t need to be strained – the rice should have eaten all the water, and it should be perfect. Give it a big stir and serve.

Pancake party

Every year, it is Pancake Day. Every half year, there therefore needs to be a practice pancake party so as not to lose one’s touch. Seil and I are co-chefs. We used to be co-hosts, back in our flat-sharing days, but these days the numbers of Pancake Day attendees are so high (the largest was 15. That is a LOT of pancakes) that we’ve had to outsource the hosting elsewhere. That, and Seil’s ceilings aren’t high enough, and I don’t have enough chairs for all the pancake-hungry bottoms.

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So this year, we borrowed Alice and Chris’ house. That’s Seil, in Alice and Chris’ excellent house with its brilliant massive table but very low ceilings. Not quite high enough for good tossing, but we gave it a damn good go.

What we do on Pancake Day, is do lots of preparation the night before. I was on onion caramelising patrol,  Seil was making pancake batter and cooking apples (for the deconstructed apple crumble pancakes), I was roasting tiny little potato cubes (for tartiflette pancakes… TARTICREPES!!!!!) and making jars full of salted caramel.

The menu looked like this:

TARTICREPE: Lardons with crispy onions/reblochon/creme fraiche/mini roasted potatoes, rocket

THE CLASSIC – Cheddar cheese, ham, mushrooms and eggs

THE POSHER CLASSIC Spinach, blue cheese and caramelised red onions with creme fraiche

Sweet toppings station

Lemons and sugar

Salted caramel, apple and crumble; ice cream and cream

Banana and nutella

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THE PANCAKE RECIPE

A cup of flour, a cup of milk, and an egg. Multiply by loads, depending on how many people are coming. Roughly speaking, that’ll make about 8 pancakes. If you want to be slightly more precise, go with 50g plain flour, 1 egg and 150ml semi-skimmed milk. I also like to melt butter and put that in the batter for extra special crepes – also helps to stop them sticking to the pan. Whisk the egg and the milk gently into the flour (make a well in the middle to pour it into), then whisk it up until smooth and there are no lumps. You can then put it in a glass bottle and keep it in the fridge overnight and it makes it easier to pour out the next day too. Or, just in a big bowl and get the ladle ready.

We always make loads and loads and loads – 3 per person – before they get there, so that they’re all in a big stack but crucially EVER so slightly undercooked on one side so that when it’s time, can melt a bit of butter, pop them back in the pan and then melt cheese on them or whatever we so decide.

The classic: pancake in pan, grated cheddar on the bottom, then some chopped cooked honey-roast ham, some wilted spinach, then separate an egg, put the white in a well in the middle of the grated cheese heap and let that cook, then put the egg yolk in the middle, fold the pancake up in a square around it, then flip it over and cook the sunny side. The yolk almost always bursts but it’s completely delicious.

The posh classic: any variation on blue cheese on the bottom, then a bit of creme fraiche to help the cheese melt, then either some crispy lardons or wilted spinach or mushrooms cooked up in butter with garlic, or parma ham…

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Thanks to Ru, for his lovely pancake rolling skillz.

The tarticrepe: cut loads of peeled potatoes into tiny little cubes, parboil them in a big pan of rolling boiling water, then roast them in the oven at 200C for about 30 minutes until they are golden and crispy. They’ll need to be tossed regularly as they’re only little. Then in the pancake: roasted potatoes, crispy lardons, softened onions, a dollop of creme fraiche and some rocket lettuce to slightly balance out the heaviness of the rest of it. Delish.

The apple crumble: Stew some apples (no sugar needed), cook a tray of crumble separately (I can’t share mine because it’s my Mum’s and I’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement but I bet Nigella’s is good: 100g plain flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 50 g cold butter in small cubes, and 3 tbsp demerera sugar, all mixed up together). I serve it with Nigella’s salted caramel too which is fantastically easy and SO impressive. I mean, I don’t want to make a massive deal out of this but the deconstructed apple crumble pancake is possible the best creation I  have ever, ever come up with. Pancake, apple, toasted crumble, all wrapped up, then topped with salted caramel sauce and a big dollop of ice cream or creme fraiche (slightly cuts through the sweetness…)

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This year’s Pancake attendees: going around the table left to right starting on the left with beardy Duncan in a white shirt, then Ru, Max, Abi, Gaby, Liv, ME standing up, Lizzie, Will, Seil standing up with a pan in her hand, Sarah Li, Kieran, then Chris all on his own at the front. It’s very weirdly bad quality. Probably because of all the wine.

Tartiflette

I went skiing a few weeks ago in Tignes with a bunch of friends and my old flatmate Seil and I were in charge of cooking. We did some absolute feasts but the one that went down an absolute treat was tartiflette.

This is the ski crew in our chalet:

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(L-R we’ve got Kieran, Micky, Tom, Lizzie, then Seil who is hiding behind Will)

And this is me skiing uphill

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This is the tartiflette we made which now that I look at the picture, looks rather odd, but I can assure you that it was absolutely superb.

So last night we made tartiflette again with all the people from the ski trip, because that’s what you do on lovely hot summer nights – sit inside eating hot cheese and potatoes. Reblochon, it turns out, is quite hard to track down,  but Waitrose will order it in for you and you can pick it up from your local branch. I’m sure all the other supermarkets would do that too… apart from Tesco, who would almost certainly NEVER do that because they don’t care enough.

We consulted Felicity Cloake’s How to make the perfect… first, and she said don’t put mustard in because it will overpower the cheese so we took her advice, and it was cracking. The measurements here are quite loose because really, it doesn’t need to be precise. With the rough measurements below we served 8 quite small portions – but it’s so rich that it’s best to do that with a massive pimped up salad too, otherwise you’ll be in a cheese coma. A cheese coma looks like this:

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Recipe:

Loads of potatoes, peeled (probably 1-1.5kg)

3 reblochon wheels (or 5-6 of the half wheels that they sell in supermarkets normally)

2 packets of bacon (10 rashers in each)

Loads of butter (half a pack, probably)

2 x 300ml pots of creme fraiche

A garlic clove

2 white onions

Large splash of white wine

An enormous green mixed salad. We pimped ours with toasted seeds, walnuts and a dressing of mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and agave syrup.

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  1. Fry up the onions in some olive oil, gently over a low-medium heat, until they are softened. Add a large splash of white wine – a good long glug, probably about half a glass or a small nutella-glass-ish-size-full. Bubble that down till it’s all nearly gone.

  2. Chop the bacon into little lardons, then in a separate pan, fry it up in olive oil until crispy, then add it into the onion pan. Don’t wash the bacon pan up yet as you can use it for the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 200C.

  3. Chop the potatoes into cubes of about 1.5cm x 1.5cm. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add lots of salt to it, then add the cubed potatoes. Parboil them for about 8-10 minutes; they should be just cooked.

  4. Then drain the potatoes in a colander. Add a massive nob of butter to the bacon pan, melt it down then add the potatoes and toss them around in the butter then leave them sizzling away in the pan so that they form a delicious crispy crust – about 3-4 minutes, then you can start tossing them around, adding more butter if you think it needs it (which it almost certainly does), leaving them to form crusts then tossing again etc… until they’re all brown and crispy and look like tasty little roasties.

  5. Add the creme fraiche to the bacon and onion mixture, stir it in, season it with some freshly grated nutmeg, maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bubble it down a bit so that all the flavours seep into each other and it thickens a bit.

  6. It’s very important to drink lots of wine before, during and after your tartiflette supper because otherwise the cheese will solidify in your tummy, so make sure you’re a well-doused chef.

  7. Cut the cheese in half horizontally then into half-moon shapes. At one point, Seil and I thought we’d have a restaurant called ‘Foods that are shaped like the moon’ (crepes, eggs, cheese wheels) but it hasn’t happened yet. Still hopeful, though.

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  1. Peel the garlic clove, cut it in half then rub it all over the sides and base of your baking dish. I’d use one like this because it looks so lovely on the table, but do use any large baking dish that you have. Metal, enamel, ceramic – they all work very well.

  2. Stir the cream mix into the potatoes. You’re now ready to assemble…

  3. Put half the potato and cream mixture in the bottom of the dish. Then spread out the reblochons with the rind side up, saving half of the cheese to go on the top of the dish.

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  1. Put the rest of the potato and cream mix into the dish, then top with the remaining reblochon, skin side up so that it goes deliciously crispy.

  2. Put it in the preheated oven, set the timer for 20 minutes and have some more wine.

  3. Check it after 20 mins, it might need to be turned round and put in again for another 10 minutes until it’s really golden and crisped up. Serve immediately with salad with a nice tangy dressing on it to cut through the cheese, and of course bucketloads of wine.

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(Clockwise starting with the big face in the bottom left that’s Lizzie, me, Andreas, Micky, Will, Seil, Tom and part of Kieran. Sorry for the blurriness – maybe a little too much wine after all)

Spicy sausage, aubergine and egg

Spicy sausage, aubergine and eggs. And yoghurt. And coriander. And sumac. And ALL THE GOOD THINGS.Soutsaki sausages and sumac yoghurt and poached eggleThis recipe was inspired by one on the brilliant The Editer blog.

Ingredients for 2 people, with some aubergine dip left over:

2 large aubergines  (the softer the riper, squishy is too far)

3/4/5 big meaty sausages (as many as you can eat). If you can get Soutsaki sausages or chorizo, then do them. Alternatively, get normal sausages (high-percentage pork), and sprinkle a bugger load of smoked paprika, chilli flakes and cayenne on the sausages, and smoosh it all over with some olive oil.

1 large/2 small cloves garlic

1 lemon

50g tahini

40ml olive oil (good quality – Locatelli’s is the best I’ve found)

100g Greek yoghurt

Half a bunch of coriander

4 eggs (2 each)

2 tsp sumac

Toast – sourdough, or any other fancy loaf

Oodles of butter

  1. Prick the aubergines and put them in a hot oven – 220degrees – for about half an hour until they go soft all the way through and collapse (stab a knife through to check)

  2. When you’ve put the aubergines in, do the sausages. Put a load of smoked paprika, chilli flakes, cayenne pepper and olive oil over the sausages in a baking tray, roll them all around in it, and put in the oven for 30 mins-ish until cooked.

  3. Meanwhile, put the tahini paste, lemon zest, olive oil, half of the Greek yoghurt and some sea salt and ground black pepper, and 1 tsp of sumac into a bowl and mix well.

  4. When the aubergines are done, take them out of the oven, cut in half, scrape out the cooked flesh and put it on a board/bowl and leave to cool. When it’s cool, put it in the bowl with the tahini, lemon, oil, yoghurt etc. Plates in the oven.

  5. If you’re  hungry and can’t wait, sprinkle some sea salt on the aubergine skins and gobble up.

  6. Sausages should be ready. Turn the oven off and leave to rest.

  7. Poach your eggs. Boil water in a pan to a rolling boil, then turn it down to really, really low. Make a mega-whirlpool, then drop the first egg into the middle. Quick sharp, drop the others in as close to the middle of the whirlpool as possible – you should be able to do 4 in a pan.

  8. If the whirlpool doesn’t work for you, do the magic trick. Put all the eggs, in their shells, into a pan of water on a rolling boil (BIG bubbles). Count to 20 quick seconds, not mississippis. Take them out, put them onto a teatowel for a second while you turn the heat down to very very low. The lowest. Carefully crack the egg in from a low height just above the water line – the shape of the white should have set in the eggshell just enough to be retained when it flops into the water, making perfect eggs.

  9. Put the bread in the toaster, and slather in butter when its out.

  10. Take the eggs out. Chop coriander.

  11. Build it. A base of yoghurty aubergine mix, then the sausages, then two eggs on top, then a big spoonful of Greek yoghurt (I’m all for the low-fat but not here. Here you need the good stuff), then liberally sprinkle on cayenne pepper, sumac, coriander.

  12. Cut into the eggs and see the yolk go whooooshhhh all over everything. At this stage, I like to throw a bit more cayenne, sumac, coriander, sea salt etc on into the yolky bit, just for good measure…

  13. Stick the buttery bread in wherever needs mopping.

  14. Oh just LOOK at it. So good that I’m going to have to put the picture up again, just to encourage you to go away and make it.

Soutsaki sausages and sumac yoghurt and poached eggle