COOK - BAKE - LEARN - SMILE

Chicken Yakitori


I am always making kebabs. I think the thing that most appeals is the simplicity and speed of cooking coupled with a never ending variation of flavours. For a weekday meal kebabs are perfect, as the preparation is rarely more than 10 minutes, and then you can walk away and get on with something else until ready to cook.

These kebabs are Japenese inspired Yakitori. The sweet sticky marinade keeps the chicken moist and delicious. The Asian Slaw served along side works fantastically well - with a real lift provided by the toasted sesame seeds.

The recipe would work very well cooked quickly on a BBQ.

The were extras left, so they made a delicious packed lunch the following day!

Chicken Yakitori : Another Close Up


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Asian Slaw


Tangy Asian inspired slaw to go with the
Chicken Yakitori.

Asian Slaw : Close Up


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Chicken Thai Green Curry


Hot chilli with a zingy tangy kick - that is how I like my Thai Green Curry.

I prefer to avoid the Western route of throwing lime juice into the curry, and prefer to get that citrus punch from the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves.

Although not essential, without the Thai Basil, I think the essence of this dish is lost. It really needs that subtle aniseed flavour which is not achieved with the dry equivalent. Thank you Waitrose for stocking it!

I always cut my chicken into large chunks and essentially steam / poach it in the sauce on a low heat. I prefer it this way, as it keeps it moist and tender.

Way better than my local restaurants, and vastly superior to any shop bought paste or curry.

Thai Green Curry : Thai Green Curry


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Thai Green Curry Paste


This recipe comes straight from my cooking notes from Thailand.

Fortunately these days I can purchase everything required to make an authentic tasting dish.

I admit the chillies are wrong - and our shallots do not have the sweetness of the Thai varieties.

This paste lasts yonks - store in an air tight jar, and cover with a little olive oil.

The roasted spices and fresh flavours mean this curry paste is head and shoulders above any shop bought alternative.

Traditionally you would make this with a mortar and pestle - but I prefer to add a little coconut milk and blitz with a hand blender.

Originally served as a
Chicken Thai Green Curry.

Thai Green Curry Paste : Fry when Ready


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Sizzling Beef Fajitas


I love eating Beef Fajitas. Whats not to love - sizzling beef with a good chilli kick!

They are quick and easy to make, and really show case a good quality, cheap cut of beef.

I like to use the griddle pan for this recipe, as it can get extremely hot, and replicates the chargrill of a barbecue.

I like to eat my fajitas with
Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, homemade flatbread topped with Manchego cheese and a little sour cream.

The marinade works just as well with pork and chicken.

Beef Fajitas : Close Up


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Pico de Gallo


Pico De Gallo is the traditional salad accompaniment served with Beef Fajitas.

The sweet and sharp tanginess of the salad works so well with the homemade Guacamole, sour cream and Beef Faijitas. I love to eat these in homemade
flatbread.

Super simple, but extremely tasty.

Pico de Gallo : Close Up


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Sweet and Spicy Prawns


It is great to have a couple of super quick recipes in your culinary arsenal.

This is one of my favourite - a chilli hot and sweet spicy tomato sauce, served on a bed of rice and topped with delicious marinaded tiger prawns. For this recipe, I used frozen raw prawns, meaning that the whole meal for two came in at less than £5.

The sugar in the sauce emphasises the tomato and brings out the natural sweetness of the prawns.

This sauce works equally well with chicken, but will take a little longer to cook than the prawns.

Definitely a mid week life saver recipe!

Sweet and Spicy Prawns : Close Up 2


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Macaroon Loaf


I was playing around in the kitchen yesterday afternoon, as the weather was rubbish - and I have ample time now that I am not copying and pasting 8 hours a day - trying to rebuild the website! Sad

I wanted to create a light sponge that had the sticky chewy texture of a macaroon.

I cooked the cake on a slightly higher heat than normal, so that the edges become chewy and delicious!

The cake really does take fantastic. You may omit the lemon sugar crust - but it definitely helps to liven up and round out the taste.

It amazes me how playing around with a sponge batter can create so many wonderful variations.

Cherry Coconut Loaf : Cross Section

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Clam Linguine


Phew! It is great to be back and to be able to update the website again. Alas, my web solution could not handle the photo content adequately, so I have had to upload and rewrite the entire recipe blog to Flickr. I hope moving forward this a robust and scalable solution - as it has taken me 8 days to relink 1300 photos!

So, I am going in time order, catching up with recipes. To kick off the new and improved blog, a delicious Clam Linguine.

This is one of the ultimate quick and easy meals. The entire dish is cooked in less time that it takes for the Linguine to be ready.

The delicious ozone sea smells and taste combined with a subtle chilli kick, make this one of my all time favourite dished.

Although it should not be necessary to de-grit the clams - the bag that I purchased had obviously not been properly cleaned, as the water went cloudy within 10 minutes of the clams being added. If this happens, keep replacing the salted water with a fresh batch.

Clam Vongole : Close Up


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Beef Carpaccio


We were having a little celebration, (hence the Roederer Champagne) at home and wanted a simple but impressive starter.

Beef carpaccio barely registers as cooking, but tastes oh so divine. I love the contrasting flavours and textures of the ultra thin bashed fillet steak just slightly cooked by the lime juice and topped with salty parmesan and peppery rocket leaves.

I asked the butcher to prepare the fillets for me, saving me the bulk of work!

Enjoy with a decent crusty loaf or home made bread.

Beef Carpaccio : Celebrations



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Chicken Shish Taouk


Chicken Shish Taouk was one of the few dishes I would order from a takeaway.

Alas, Elias our local Lebanese shut down, and so I was forced to try and recreate the dish at home.

I love the moist chicken combined with the garlic humus. The yoghurt helps to protect the chicken and keep it succulent.

The key is to keep basting the kebabs as much as possible.

If they are looking dry - place them in a large pot and cover for 6-10 minutes - to allow the steam to moisten them up.

This is delicious as a wrap with Greek Salad and humus.

Even better on a charcoal barbecue!

Chicken Taouk : Taouk CloseUp” width=

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Humus


Humus is a great side dish for BBQs, buffets or just served on its own with some delicious homemade flatbread.

This is a very quick recipe, dispensing with the need to soak chickpeas 24 hours before you want to eat them. Occasionally, I have been known to be sufficiently organised to plan ahead and get the preparation done. However, it is rare, so I fallback on cooked, canned chickpeas.

I think this recipe tastes pretty damn good - definitely better than the bland supermarket versions. (I concede that there are some fabulous delicatessen variations of humus about these days that are extremely good.)

The humus was originally served with Chicken Shish Taouk. The garlicky humus worked beautifully with the zingy moist coated chicken.

Humus : Close Up”><br /></a></span><span style=

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Pancetta Red Onion Frittata


I was coming home quite late, and needed to come up with a quick and wholesome meal for the household.

A quick trip to the local convenience supermarket, I grabbed some eggs and a packet of Pancetta, and headed home to crack on.

Frittata is an omelette by any other name. I was in a rush, so I cooked the Pancetta, red onion and par boiled potatoes all in one go. I am sure you could get even better effects by cooking the individual ingredients. However, my hash mix tasted delicious nonetheless. I opted to use a separate frying pan to cook the frittata as I did not have faith that it would come out in one go otherwise.

The meal was delicious, chunks of salty pancetta mixed with golden potato chunks and cheese.

I added the salad on top so that everything could be served together. Visually I think it makes the dish look a lot more appetising.

An extremely cheap, tasty and healthy mid week meal, that take minutes to make.

The leftovers were used for packed lunch the next day, and by all accounts was equally good cold.

Pancetta Frittata : Close Up” width=

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Pork Souvlaki, Roasted Peppers, Tzatziki wrapped in Flatbread


I was flicking through the most recent edition of the Waitrose magazine when I saw a recipe for Pork Souvlaki. Now, I did not fancy pork mince, and so have gone off and done my own thing, using a nice lean cut of pork chump, chopped into nice large chunks. Chump is a delicate, non working piece of the pork, so needs to be cooked quickly, as there is so little fat.

Souvlaki is a fast food that can be purchased all over Greece. I became particularly enamoured by the chicken Souvlaki and pork versions, especially after a couple of drinks, celebrating a hard day sailing


These, I am sure would be even more fantastic on the BBQ. However, this is the UK, and a BBQ is a rare and special occasion - especially when you are away every weekend skydiving!

The Souvlaki are served on homemade flatbreads, with Tzatziki, Roasted Peppers, Diced Vegetable Salad and Plain Steam Rice. A true Greek feast!

The great thing about this dish is that it can all be prepared in advance, with only the kebabs needing attention when you are ready to serve.

A healthy, cheap and delicious dinner. We had left overs that were used for pack lunch the next day. By all accounts the flavours were even better cold! *Yum*

Pork Souvlaki : Close Up” width=

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Roasted Romana Pepper Salad


The sweet roast pepper flavour coupled with a delicate hint of fresh herbs and olive oil never fails to impress guests, whenever I serve this as an accompaniment. It particularly works well with Lamb Koftas, as well the Pork Souvlaki.

I prefer to blacken the pepper in the oven as opposed to using the direct flame from the hob. This is mainly because, the last time I used the hob, the pepper got super hot and exploded! It literally splattered every wall in the kitchen!! As such, I prefer to use the oven!!

Roasted Romano Pepper Salad : Mix Well

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Tzatziki


Tzatziki is an easy accompaniment to make, tastes delicious and goes with so many different main dishes, from burgers to shoulder of lamb. Always a popular side dish at any BBQ.

Even those that cannot cook, can make this side - as frankly, it invokes no cooking. If you can operate a grater; you can make this.

The Tzatziki will happily last for a day or two, cling filmed in the fridge.

Any lefts overs, normally gets eaten the next day with vegetable crudités and strips of flatbread.

Originally served with
Pork Souvlaki.

Tzatiki : Greek Feast” width=

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How to Make : Chicken Stock


I prefer to buy a whole chicken as opposed to breasts or thighs. See the chicken butchery guide here : coming soon.

Not only are the individual portions cheaper by butchering the chicken yourself, but you also get the carcass.

Whether you roast the chicken for Sunday roast, or simply butcher it for its component pieces, ensure that you save the carcass.

Chicken stock is so simple to make and costs next to nothing - except time. So many recipes require a little stock - and it is so convenient to pull out a couple of frozen ice cubes. (My ice cubes are about 25 ml, defrosted - helps to know!! Happy).

Time and again in my recipes you will see floating frozen chicken stock. It melts perfectly and adds just the same punch as the fresh stock.

Infinitely better than any cube. So much nicer than the wishy washy supermarket imitations.

If you wish for a clear stock, then do not roast the chicken bones - otherwise the same method needs to be followed.

Vary the herbs depending on what is in season / have in larder.

Chicken Stock : Decant” width=

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Pork Penang Curry and Sticky Jasmine Rice


Penang curry is not quite as well renowned as its counterparts, the Red / Green Thai Curry.

However, in my opinion, is as equally good - if not better. Penang curry is traditionally not a chilli hot curry, instead being fragrant and more subtle. Controversially, I add a tablespoon of Mae Pra Nom chilli paste. Personally, I like a little more, but not crazy amount of heat - and really love the injection of red colour to the finished dish.

The secret to this dish, and the main differentiation is that the coconut milk is fried in the oil to increase the depth of flavour.

This dish needs to be served with the
Sticky Jasmine Rice in order to give it that authentic finish.

The
Thai Spicy Peanuts are delicious, and provide explosions of crunch and sweet/saltiness. Highly recommend.

Penang curry is traditionally a beef curry, cooked over a longer period, using a hard working cut of beef such as shin.

I opted for Pork chump this time round. Being a very lean cut, I kept the chunks large and cooked very gently, to keep the meat moist.

If you wish for a longer and slower cooked version, try and get hold of pork fore leg.

Pork Penang Curry : Garnish with Coriander and Peanuts

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Thai Spicy Peanuts


Spicy, sweet and salty . Thai Spicy Peanuts are a perfect garnish and accompaniment to most Thai dishes and even more so, Thai salads.

The explosion of flavour and crunch of the peanuts provide a wonderful tastebud treat.

The topping works equally well as nibbles; and I can tell you - are incredibly addictive. At first you think they are too spicy, but you just cannot help yourself, coming back for a couple more and a couple more!

Originally served with
Pork Penang Curry.

Thai Spicy Peanuts : Leave to Cool


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Sticky Jasmine Rice


One of my favourite Thai rice accompaniments is Sticky Jasmine rice.

It is ridiculously easy to make, and tastes delicious.

Why spend so much money on dull takeaway equivalents when you can make this at home in 20 minutes.

This brings back fond memories of sitting on the beach in Hua Hin, eating delicious fresh caught fish wrapped in banana leaves served along side this delicious sticky rice.

Originally served with
Pork Penang Curry.

Sticky Jasmine Rice : Served with Penang Curry

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Penang Curry Paste


I love Thai / Malaysian Penang Curry.

Penang curry is a milder, drier and more fragrant curry compared to a Red Thai Curry.

I learned how to make this dish whilst in Thailand. Apart from being unwilling to unearth my coriander plant for its roots, all the other ingredients are easy to get hold off locally.

Controversially, I added a tablespoon of Mae Pra Nom chilli paste. This is not authentic at all, but I prefer a little more heat in my curry, and also love the beautiful red hue that the paste injects.

Penang curry paste is traditionally cooked with beef, but works equally well with duck, chicken, seafood.

I originally served this as a
Pork Penang Curry.

If you wish to make the paste in bulk, and use at a later date - then store in a screw cap jar and cover with oil. Will happily sit in the fridge for a week or two.

If you love Thai food, then I strongly recommend you give this a go.

Penang Curry Paste : Finished Dish

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Pizza Pasta Bake


Sometimes you just want to eat simple comfort food.

It was a Tuesday evening, and I had come in from the gym, and wanted something quick, wholesome and tasty.

The great thing about this dish is that you can cook the pasta, pancetta and tomato sauce all at the same time - meaning that preparation time is vastly reduced. Once it is in the oven you can crack on with your evening.

I based the pasta bake on pizza flavours. So I added mozzarella, smoky pancetta and oregano as my base flavours. The sour bread crumbs on top give a great crunch and textural difference. The mozzarella in the middle remains melted and gooey, whilst that on top goes golden and crispy.
(I was wanting to top this with strips of anchovy - but was told this was a step too far - I might try it one day smiley_wink)

I served this with a simple fresh salad and a quick mustard dressing.

Pizza Pasta Bake : Close Up

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Sole Meuniere


There is a rule in skydiving, that whenever you experience a first or even mutter the word; whether a new canopy, new aeroplane, new discipline of jump - then you must buy a case of beer at the end of the day.

I really like this rule, as it brings people of different levels and groups together at the end of a fun packed day to chat and relax over a drink or two. It also marks a stepping stone in your skydiving career.

You may wonder what relevance this has to Sole Meuniere. Well, all I can says is parallel’s exist - let me explain. My “first” experience of this dish was as a young teenager on holiday in France with my family. As I have mentioned previously, every summer we would go away for 2-3 weeks doing the Eurocamp thing - OK, I am probably showing my age!

Anyway, I digress. Like the first time I ordered Trout Almodine (Trout with Almonds) or Les Ailes de Raie (Skate Wings), I can still recall with vivid recollection the first mouthful of each dish and exact ambience and setting within the restaurant. It is like being back in the old ramparts of Marseilles, Leon, Reimes experiencing the dish for the first time. (Eating out was a rare and memorable occasion). What is similar between the two events is the way it sticks in the mind, the passing of an event - first time eating a flat fish, first wing suit jump etc. All shine as moments in life that we never forget. To this day, I remember my Mother explaining how there were four fillets, and to work from the centre out. (Needless to say, I still recall a mouth full of bones as I scavenged every last morsel of fish from the slightly mangled remains!).

I love the lemon zingy, salty, nutty buerre noisette sauce that harmonises so well with the delicate flavours of the lemon sole.

I served this with some simple wilted spinach and some lightly crushed new potatoes. A wonderful spring/summer evening dish.

Being a gym freak, the quantity of butter in this dish is quite breathtaking. However, once in a while, a few extra hours in the gym are totally worthwhile! It would be criminal to not pamper such a delicious fish!

Those who are observant will see *blush* I slightly burned the shallot - watch out for the residual heat of the pan when you add them!

Sole Meuniere : Close Up

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Spicy Thai Leftover Roast Beef Salad


Inevitably, after having Sunday Roast, there is always a little left overs.

With the beef, beautifully medium rare, what better way to serve up a tasty and mouth watering lunch?

Making this took no longer than ten minutes and tasted fantastic.

It is cheap, healthy and incredibly addictive with the chilli kick.

I had it for lunch Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!

It travels really well, with the flavours developing in the fridge overnight.

A great excuse to make Roast Beef and Yorkshire puddings!
Happy

Spicy Thai Beef Salad

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Roast Beef with Yorkshire Puddings


Is there a meal more comforting and homely than Sunday Roast? Whether, chicken, beef, lamb or pork, the smells that emanate from the kitchen and take over the house are to die for.

Sunday roasts are not tricky, they just require a little organisation. Preparation is the key.

I normally use the top oven as well for this meal - so that I can keep a better control on the potatoes. It also means I can get the Yorkshire puddings into the oven just prior to the beef coming out.

I always prepare the meal the same way; prepare the veg, parboil the potatoes, prepare the batter, make the trivet, sear the beef, and place in the oven. Place the potatoes in the top oven, and cook the swede. This will leave you free to make the puddings and gravy at the end, whilst wilting the broccoli, cooking the carrots and finishing the swede! It sounds daunting, but really isn’t.

You could argue that I cheat, using a digital thermometer - however, it really does make cooking the beef to perfection a whole lot easier! I like my beef just on the under side of medium rare, a nice pink colour. As such, I really do think the searing off first is vital, so that you achieve a decent texture on the outside.

If you are not up for the hassle of searing off the beef first, they add the beef to a preheat oven at gas mark 6. Cook for 20 minutes, drop the heat to gas mark 4, and then cook 15 minutes per 450 g for rare - add 15 minutes for medium rare.

There is no substitute to a home made Sunday Roast and Trimmings. I have yet to eat a decent version in a restaurant or gastro pub - till this date.

Roast Beef : Sunday Roast and all the Trimmings

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Yorkshire Puddings


If you are having a traditional
Sunday Roast with Beef, then you really must have Yorkshire puddings.

Light, fluffy and crispy - that is the only way they should be served.

They are really easy to make. I have tried numerous recipes, and this is by far my favourite - it never fails. There is no need to have the batter standing around - equally it will sit in a warm kitchen for an hour or two no problems
(Just give it a good whisk before ladling in to the tray).

Where people go wrong and why they end up with biscuits is as a result of not adding the batter to smoking fat. Lard, having a high burning point really is ideal for the perfect puddings.

This recipe scales up really well for Toad in the Hole - an easy mid week supper.
(If I triple the batter quantities, I will and an addition egg).

Yorkshire Puddings : Roast Beef with all the Trimmings

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How to make Crispy Roast Potatoes


Roast potatoes are a mandatory accompaniment to any
Sunday Roast. They provide a crisp texture that is so essential in balancing the whole meal.

Good potato choice is important, as you want a potato that remains firm on the outside, whilst being melt in the mouth fluffy in the middle.

There is nothing more disappointing in this world than soggy, hard roast potatoes dripping in fat!

The way I make my potatoes, is not dissimilar to the way I make chips. I don’t get into the faff of heating oil in a baking tray prior to cooking. The essential technique is to catch the parboiled potatoes just right - too soft and they will break up, too hard and they will not break off little bits from the corners - just like Goldilocks - you got to get it just right.

The little bits that break of the potatoes are what makes the potatoes crispy. They make a nice sticky coating that crisps up brilliantly. It is for this reason that you need a good floury potato.

Follow this method, and you will never go wrong again!


Roast Potatoes : Roast Beef and Trimmings

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How to make Gravy


If you are having a
Sunday Roast of any description, you really need a good, deep flavoured gravy to go with the meat.

I always make gravy the same way, regardless of the choice of meat. The trivet that the meat cooks on, is the key in my opinion. All the flavours from the vegetables and herbs mingle with the cooking juices from the meat, making a pretty much ready to go jus.

I normally add a glass of wine, red or white to the baking tray, as the meat goes into the oven. This helps to keep everything moist and give the vegetables a good starting point.

To avoid a lumpy gravy, make sure that all the flour has been incorporated into the juices, and no lumps are visible, before you strain in.


How to make Gravy : Beef Roast and Gravy

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