Saturday, 23 November 2013

Chicken like my Papa makes it.

You know those adverts that stereotype family gatherings and the idea of coming home to a certain brand or meal? Think Richmond sausages (ew) or Clover (Lurpak all the way, sorry) - if I could make an advert on this theme about my family this chicken is what I would have to deck out in lights.

I'm not entirely sure how to give the legend that is my father's fried chicken full justice in a blog post in all honesty. Seriously. I'm pretty sure my Dad has cooked this on at least 4 different continents, in hundreds of different kitchens, on holiday, at friend's, actually anywhere I've ever called home, even in a caravan with one hob and no oven (madman). Basically it would terrify me to try and count the amount of times I have eaten this. We have had gluten free varieties, veggie varieties, and have probably tried every different type of breadcrumb from fresh to dried to Panko to mixed with herbs and Parmesan.

This is a recipe very close to my heart and I do not share it with the world lightly therefore the instructions here are minimal and leave space for you to find your favourite breadcrumb texture or extra seasonings. I call it a recipe but really its more a series of processes but it is so worth the effort. I mean, who doesn't love fried chicken?

1. Ready your troops (rolling pin, flour, beaten egg, breadcrumbs and chicken)

2. Between to sheets of baking parchment, bash the chicken out thin

3. Dip into seasoned plain flour

4. Egg

5. Crumb. (Really bash the breadcrumbs in so they're compact. The more you can get stuck on the better.)

6. If you don't end up with flour-egg-crumb balls of glue on the end of your fingers you're doing it wrong.

7. Shallow fry on a medium heat in olive oil until golden on both sides - because the chicken is beaten out thin that should be sufficient time to cook it though.

In other news - I went to the Good Food Show last Sunday (Happy early Christmas to ME) and saw these chaps.

Hollllaaaaa Greg/John. *Ticks life accomplishment box*

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Freakin' love me a farmers market.

It has been 6 months. 6 months of London life; a move, a new neighborhood and culinary experiences that have ranged from the informal drunken joy of discovering the new local chicken shop to culinary-gasiming over the raspberry souffle cloud of dreams in high heels courtesy of Micheal Roux at the Langham.

A few weeks ago I had the joy and merriment of discovering my new local farmers market in Queens Park. (I now live in Queens Park. Or alternatively I say Kilburn. It depends on how fancy vs 'urban' I feel that day.) This pretty much involved my flat mate and I running around eating every cheese sample available and spending far too much money on purple cauliflowers.

We were keen on something Thai for dinner but didn't fancy the usual chicken or prawn vibe so decided to go a little left field and bought some duck from a raather nice man at the farmers market. To accompany it I made a thai green curry vegetable broth. It was a real Sunday treat and serving the duck as such ensures you get the rendered down crispy duck skin vibes everyone loves.

Serves 2 with leftover paste.

2 duck breasts, skin scored and seasoned
1 tbsp flavourless oil

For the curry paste:
2 lemongrass stalks
2 kaffir lime leaves
stalks of a bunch of coriander
3 fat garlic cloves
2 inch piece of ginger or galangal
zest of 1 lime
2-3 hot thai chilles
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 red onion

An assortment of vegetables , I used aubergine, cavolo nero and cauliflower
Tin of coconut milk
1 chicken stock cube
500 ml water
palm (or brown) sugar
lime juice
the leaves from the bunch of coriander, chopped
2 more lime leaves finely shredded
fish sauce

Steamed rice

Pre heat oven to 200˚C

Blitz all the ingredients for the paste in a processor or bash it up in pestle and mortar.

Now get the duck on. Place it skin side down on a medium heat in a frying pan for 6-8 minutes until golden brown, pour off the fat regularly and then seal the other side for 30 seconds.

Now on a rack in a roasting tin in the middle of the oven roast the breasts for 8 -12 minutes (8 for rare, 12 for medium, cook it anymore and you don't deserve to eat it because your a bad person)

While the duck roasts take two table spoons of the paste and sweat in the oil until fragrant. Add the cubed aubergine, stock cube, water, coconut milk and shredded lime leaves then leave to simmer until the aubergine is nearly cooked through and the sauce has reduced by about a 3rd. Now throw in the cauliflower, broken into florets and the cavolo nero shredded for the last 5 minutes.

The duck should be about done now, whip it out and leave to rest for 10 mins.

When the veg is cooked balance the sauce. Taste it, think about it and then pimp it with the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and coriander and even freshly sliced chilli if required until you have a salty/sweet/spicy/sour dreamy harmony.

Serve the veg and sauce on a bed of steamed rice and top with the sliced duck breast.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Ain't no party like an S Club party.

So last weekend hailed the mark of my 22nd year on this earth. 

Coincidentally April is also turning out to be the month of my Dad moving house - as a consequence I felt it would be appropriate to wave a fond farewell to my childhood home with a (dinner) party. 

The night ended up being a culmination of Mexican food, beer pong, my somewhat legendary 90s playlist and far far too much tequila. I was pretty much still feeling worse for wear 3 days later.
Now to the food. I went long with three varieties of chilli (hot, not and veggie), rice, nachos, sour cream and an industrial amount of guacamole. Apart from the positively stupid amount of rice I cooked and minus the odd doggy bag I packed up for a few drunkards to take home in the wee hours, amazingly,  it all got demolished. 

Sadly a few tequilas down I was more interested in eating the food than taking pictures of it meaning that there isn't much photographic evidence of the meal - however the recipe I adopted was the Jamie Oliver cowboy chilli from Jamie's America. The combination of smoked, dried and fresh chilli along with the use of coffee instead of stock is inspired and generates an insane depth of meaty flavor. Personally I opted for a pulled pork version rather than beef but either would work a treat. 

Shout out to Maddy the megababe for the most ridonculous cake a girl could ask for and to Abbie the sly Cinderella sister cleaning up in the wings. 

Love and thanks also to everyone who came from near, far and for all the amazing presents, cards and flowers. You all rock my 90s kid socks.

Serves 8-10

2 kg Pork shoulder, trimmed, cleaned and cubed 
3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, diced
10 cloves of garlic, crushed
3tsp ground cumin
3tsp smoked paprika
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp brown sugar
1tsp dried oregano
500 ml coffee
1 dried chipotle chilli
2 fresh chillies, chopped 
2 Tins chopped tomatoes
2 tins, drained kidney beans
Salt & pepper

Firstly make your coffee and drop in the dried chilli to rehydrate a bit and infuse.

While that is happening, sweat your onions until soft in the oil and then add the garlic, fresh chilli and spices. Sweat for a further few minutes until fragrant.

Add the pork and stir to coat in the spice mix and add your coffee, sugar and the dried chilli chopped up.  Then throw in your tinned tomatoes and season liberally.

Cover and cook on a low heat for as long as you can afford (min 4 hours). Personally I simmered mine for about 5 or 6 and then left in the fridge over night to mature. 

An hour or two before game time shred the meat, I personally fished it all out the sauce, shredded it and put it back in. This also gave me the opportunity to fish out the various cinnamon sticks and bay leaves on the assumption that a dunk person may end up chewing on them.

When the pork is shredded and back in the pot throw in your beans, check the seasoning and bring up to the heat to simmer without a lid on to thicken and reduce for a further half an hour.

Serve with your favorite Mexican condiments, I'd recommend fresh guacamole, sour cream and lime (and tequila).

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Noodle Soup (Again).

Living with my Dad is acting like culinary kryptonite at the moment. Most people laugh at me when they learn that my average day involves my Dad and I pinging each other emails across London with subject lines such as 'yummy' and 'lets make this' followed by an evening of cooking and watching  the Good Food channel, all the time discussing how friggin' awesome what we've cooked that day is. If I say so myself we are probably the best fed pair of workers in SW London - at the moment Monday seems to be the day for our version of the Olympics.

There are a fair amount of noodle soup recipes on this blog. This is something I refuse to apologise for because, you know what? There is about to be another. This one sits somewhere between Vietnamese, Thai and Schezuan (I think) and was the product of one of mine and my fathers rather elaborate Monday evenings. It is a feast of textures and layers of flavor and is yours to do what you will with, whether you want it more lime-y or chilli hot etc.

Serves 2

For the Chicken:
4 x Chicken thighs, skinned, boned and blitzed in the food processor
2 tbsp flavorless oil
a good handful of sesame seeds
1 tbsp of runny honey

For The Paste:
1 stick of lemongrass, outer woody leaves removed
thumb sized piece of ginger
2 fat garlic cloves
1 hot red chili

For the noodle soup:
1/2 tin of coconut milk
500ml good chicken stock
juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp soy sauce
bunch of mint finely chopped
a few spring onions shredded
2 bok choy
1/2 a red pepper in slices
rice noodles for two

Firstly get a frying pan on to heat to get screaming hot  - while you wait blitz the ingredients for the spice paste in a processor.

When the frying pan is hot fry the chicken in the oil, smashing it up into the consistency of a course mince. Keep frying and tossing until it goes golden and crunchy.

Add the sesame seeds to toast off and then for the last 30 second stir in the honey ensuring it coats the chicken. Turn out onto some kitchen paper to drain off any excess fat.

Now in a big pan or wok in a little more oil sweat off the spice paste and when fragrant add all the liquids and the noodles. When the noodles are nearly done add the other veg to lightly soften.

Ladle into big bowls and top with the chicken, mint and spring onions.

Monday, 4 February 2013

'Whatever I had in my fridge' Calzone.

Today I got home from work, opened the fridge and let my culinary instinct take over.

It pretty much went like this: *sees left over pizza dough* - "hmm don't fancy pizza. What could I do instead? Flat breads? Nah. Hmm. Not sure. Err…CALZONE." (yes I talk to my fridge).

I stuck it in Google for inspiration and ended up taking Jamie Oliver's advice that anything could go in one very seriously. This is literally a once around my fridge concoction.

If your not a ridiculous food enthusiast and don't have a bread maker a pizza dough recipe can be found here -

Makes 4 Calzone.

1 Pizza Dough recipe
Either shop bought or homemade tomato sauce
1/2 a butternut squash, cubed
1 bulb of fennel
4 rashers of bacon
2 cloves of garlic
small bunch of parsley
1/2 a red chill
1/2 a bag of rocket
pinch of dried oregano
Cream Cheese

In a deep frying pan fry off the bacon and then throw in the squash.

After another few minutes sweat the garlic, oregano and chill in until fragrant, add the tomato sauce and a good glug of water.

While the squash softens roll out balls of dough into circles and spread the cream cheese on the dough leaving a 2 cm cheese free zone around the perimeter.

When the squash is soft  and the water has evaporated in the pan add the fennel (added late to retain crunch) parsley, rocket and season. Let the rocket wilt and then allow the mixture to cool.

 Spoon the mixture into your rolled out circles of dough and top with a healthy dose of Parmesan. Try and resist the temptation to over fill them.

Fold the dough over into semi circles and then crimp the edges (probably with more talent than I demonstrate here), sprinkle with Parmesan again and bake until golden and crisp (about 15 minutes). 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Salted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am one of those people who has a real thing for salt and sweet flavour combinations. Whether it is cheese and fruit, honey and soy, or my personal favourite guilty pleasure; salted popcorn with a packet of minstrels at the cinema, I'm pretty much a mega fan. I'm aware of the fact that when you are already indulging in something which perhaps isn't the healthiest it makes little sense to pair it with something else that doesn't do your body any good. However, I'm of the opinion that if your going to eat something bad you might as well eat something really bad to make it worth while.

I must say, it does seem these types of flavour combinations are becoming rather trendy at the moment, the various chocolate brands creating salted varieties of their milk chocolate and Heston Blumenthal's Salted caramel popcorn Ice cream to name a few examples.

If you are similarly partial to this idea I implore you to bake these cookies. The brown sugar in them gives them that classic American Cookie style bendy/gooey factor and since making them between my Dad, Sister and Colleagues I think they get mentioned at least once a week making me feel they are definitely worth undertaking again and again.


Makes 36-40 Depending on Size.

225g butter
200g soft brown sugar
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250g chocolate chips
sea salt flakes.

Preheat Oven to 180 Degrees.

Cream the butter, add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg a bit at a time and the vanilla extract.

Mix in the dry ingredients together and fold them in, finally adding the chocolate chips.

Divide mixture into balls on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper allowing plenty of space for spreading.

Bake for 4 minutes, sprinkle with the sea salt and bake for a further 4-6 minutes.

You want to finish cooking them before they colour too much, they might seem too gooey but once the sugars in them have cooled down they will firm up at which point you can transfer them from the baking tray. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Spicy Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup.

For once I actually have a genuine excuse for my absence from this little Blog. 

I got robbed. Literally. 

Two weeks ago, two young scallywags broke into the house, smashing far more windows that was really necessary to get in and swiped various things in the house including my laptop, iPod and all my car keys, making blogging a bit tricky. The crowning glory moment within this farce was probably having to pay to have my own car clamped so it couldn’t be driven away in the middle of the night.

On a more culinary note, I’m really into noodle soup at the moment. When I have my one treat-eat-out-at-work lunch of the week I have been experimenting with the various noodle soups on offer near my office, I can safely say the superfood sobas at Pod are superior to many out there.

This recipe lies somewhere between a tribute to my favourite Kare Lomen at Wagamama and the Vietnamese Pho noodle soup. It has real depth of flavour and is thoroughly heart warming especially given the arctic weather at the moment. Of course due to my chilli addiction mine was practically lava it was so spicy but the fragrance of the lemongrass and galangal along with the creamy luxury of the coconut milk turns this dish into a real, quick, easy week night treat.

Serves 2-3

For The Paste:
2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed, bruised and roughly chopped
2.5 cm piece galangal root, peeled & roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
2 onions, peeled & roughly chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded & roughly chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 hot red chili, chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp curry powder
1 tsp shrimp paste 

1 tbsp vegetable oil
Enough noodles of your choice cooked to packet instructions
1 Can of coconut milk
Juice of 1 or 2 limes (depending how juicy they are)
2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
½ pint chicken stock

For Garnish:
2 handfuls of beansprouts
Finely shredded cucumber and spring onion
Fresh coriander finely chopped
Roasted sesame seeds for garnish

In a food processor blitz all the ingredients for the paste until smooth. Add a touch of water to help it blend if necessary.

Sweat the paste in the oil and when fragrant throw in the chicken strips. When they have sealed add the liquids and noodles and bring to a simmer. 

When the chicken is cooked through ladle into deep bowls and serve with the various garnishes.