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October 21, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 2:16 am
Salmon in athai marinade

It’s been another busy week here. It is half term for the schools which means I’ve had a surge in requests for tutoring. The result of this is that many of my evenings have been spent with my A-level student doing exciting things like sketching graphs so I tend to get home late.

It was on my way back from one of these tutorials last night that I got a call from Goon. It seemed he was after my cooking that evening and was already wandering around Tesco looking for things he wanted to eat. I was seriously considering takeaway for the third time that week (yes, I know, I’m a bad, bad person) but since Goon has good (expensive) taste I could manage cooking if he was buying.

It seems that he must have been VERY hungry because, when I found Andy in the shop, this was thrust into my hands.

Whole side of Salmon!

A whole side of salmon. Over a kilo of fish. To me, this seemed rather a lot for two people but Goon wasn’t convinced. I tried to get him to put it back and buy two reasonably sized fillets (there is not enough room in either of our freezers for that thing) but he was VERY determined to keep it.

It was only five minutes until closing time so I had to think fast to figure out what to do with the salmon. I did a quick run around and picked up a load of thai ingredients as that was the first thing that came into my head.

I eventually convinced Goon that half the great slab of fish would feed us both and then chopped it up into four bits. I rubbed the two for that night with a mix of cumin and ground coriander seed and marinated it in coconut milk, lemon, crushed ginger, crushed garlic and fish sauce.

While it was marinating I made a sauce which was essentially a reduced Tom Kar. This has got to be one of my favourite types of soup. It is made of vegtable or chicken stock simmered with coriander, green chilli, lime leaves, lemon grass with coconut and fresh lime added at the end. Its lovely and creamy but refreshing from the flavours of lemon and lime.

I grilled the salmon until the skin was crispy then served it with some egg fried rice, (into which I’d thrown a lot of leftovers), the sauce and some spicy baby aubergines. The sauce was just perfect. The flavours in the rice were possibly a little strong for the salmon-some steamed jasmine rice or noodles may have been a better accompaniment- but the aubergines were great. These little ones have such a fantastic crunchy texture!

Here is the thai salmon recipe, and a basic egg fried rice recipe.

By the way, does anyone else like their salmon cooked ‘rare’, or is it just me? This, in my opinion, is the best way to have it. Just cooked all the way through but still dark pink in the middle.

October 17, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 2:26 pm

Pork belly, mustard mash, juniper braised cabbage, apple compote 

Remind me never to let Goon go shopping for me again. 

I’d decided to make this meal quite some time ago as I’d found two rather large pieces of pork belly in the Tesco bargain bin for 60p! :D   I’d never eaten pork belly before but I knew that losts of people absolutely love it and I’d heard it made pretty good crackling. So I thought a nice autumnal dish of crispy pork with an apple compote, juniper braised cabbage and mustard mash would go down well.

While I was heading over to Goon’s flat he rang me to see if he needed to buy anything. So I sent him to get two apples and a bottle of cider for the sauce plus some mashing potatoes. As soon as I got there I realised that the potatoes were, in fact, waxy and managed to borrow the correct version. Unfortunately I didn’t realise until much later that Goon had forgotten the apples.

So I had a choice of either: 

  1.  having no apple compote
  2. yelling at Goon for being a goon and sending him back to the shops.

Guess which one I went for. :twisted: Goon returned not long after with a bag of twenty apples. I fear I will be eating apples for a long time  :roll:  

The moral of this story is, when you need shopping done properly, do it yourself! Or at least avoid enlisting the help of someone incapable of memorizing a four item list. :roll: .

At least the cooking went without TOO many glitches (just one burnt finger). I prepared the pork belly by rubbing it all over with cinnamon and allspice then salting the skin and roasting it. I finished it off under the grill to get some nice crispy crackling. The apple compote was just caramelised apple stewed in cider, reduced till dry and broken up with a bit of honey and cinnamon. I served the pork with some mustard mashed potatoes and red cabbage braised with juniper.

I’m not sure why everyone raves so much about pork belly. I couldn’t help thinking of pork scratchings as I ate it. It was just a bit too fatty for my taste. I think I might try it braised at some point to see if that’s any better but, to be honest I think I prefer other more meaty joints.

Now, has anyone got any good ways to use up a lot of apples?

EDIT: Here’s what I did for the pork belly with apple compote.

October 16, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 3:30 pm

It seems that, to a lot of people nowadays, pigeon is a weird thing to eat. I certainly got a very funny look when MJ enquired about what I’d be cooking yesterday. But during Victorian times and before, this meat was very popular. It has a very intense game flavour and I would even say that it tastes a little bit like liver.

Perhaps this would be a way to introduce squeamish people to that kind of flavour without them being freaked out by eating organs!

Since the flavour of this meat is so gamey, when I decided to make a risotto with it I wanted other strong flavours too. I decided I’d have meaty porcini mushrooms, bacon, rosemary and a fruity Italian red wine.

Actually, the wine wasn’t Italian in the end. It was on the Italian shelf of Tesco’s wine section and half price so I picked it up without paying much attention to it. Yes, I know, I’m a cheapskate student.  I was rather suprised when I got home and found the wine was actually French. Luckily it still was quite fruity, so it turned out to be perfectly good for the risotto.  

Pigeon is one of those meats that tend to dry out quickly and so I cooked it by briefly searing thin slices of breast. Then I kept it warm, away from the hob, whilst I made the risotto and stirred the meat back in at the end.

It tasted delicious but the sad thing about this meal is that I can’t see how to present it well.

Pigeon Risotto

Cooked pigeon is kind of a grey-purple colour and the wine made the risotto a reddish brown. ot really an attractive colour combination. It’s a shame as the flavours in this dish are fantastic. Hmm… you can’t really see the pigeon in that picture so I better post this one too.

Pigeon on salad

So, now you can see it is a very dark meat- darker in fact than that photo really lets on. 

Despite the fact that it is in good supply and not that popular, pigeon is still very expensive! Each pigeon breast costs £1 and I think you’d need three to feed an average person. Damn me for being addicted to Borough Market. 

Here is the Wood Pigeon and Red Wine Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Bacon recipe

October 14, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 4:14 pm

Why is it that, even when I make myself a really simple dinner, I still end up going to bed after 2am! This didn’t bother me much a couple of months ago, but now I’m doing some heavy duty tutorial work which involves be being awake and vaguely competent early in the morning.

I am very, very tired indeed.

I hoped that food last night would be quick. To be honest it would have been fine if I hadn’t tried cooking at  the same time as my flatmate Ken. Its quite nice living with him and Mike. Even though we’re rarely in at the same time, we share a love of musical theatre and a large proportion of last night was spent listening to the soundtrack of Batboy, which is by far the best musical I’ve ever seen. The problem was that until the CD finished I was too busy singing along to cook. Then we realised it was 11pm.

So we both decided dinner was a good idea, but of course, with two of us cooking different things the whole process took twice as long! Hence I was washing up at 1am. :roll:

I was really craving pasta and also something with lemon. So I braised some chicken thighs in a mixture of lemon, chicken stock, crushed garlic, white wine and tarragon and reduced the braising liquid to make a sauce. Fortunately my angel hair pasta had returned from wherever it disappeared to last week, so I tossed this in finely chopped parsley, coated it in garlic infused oil and served my chicken thighs and sauce on top with a side salad of rocket dressed with pesto. 

Lemon tarragon chicken thighs

Ken had a very nice looking rump steak with couscous and brocolli 

I don’t understand why some people peel the skin off chicken thighs! If you crisp it up, it is really yummy. I love the combination of lemon, tarragon and wine- this dish really hit the spot. Next time I may make even more sauce!

EDIT: Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Tarragon recipe is now here.

October 12, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 2:07 pm

Since things are busy here, this is a good week for me to be borrowing ideas from other people so I don’t have to spend too much time thinking about dinner. So yesterday I thought I’d try out Lea’s pan seared duck breast with raspberry coulis.

Duck, chicory and rasperry coulis

I had everything I needed except the raspberries and the Chambord so I headed over to the big Tesco superstore to find some. That’s where I encountered a big problem. No Chambord. No Framboise. Nothing remotely useful in any sense. There were about 7 million different types of vodka (I hate vodka) but no bloody fruit liqueur anywhere!  Grr!

I got on the phone to goon to see if he could help. Goon said he’d go down to Threshers. They specialise  in selling wine and liqueur, so they should have this stuff, right? Yeah, fat chance. When I got back to goon’s flat he was there with a bottle of raspberry flavoured rum. Not quite what was required but I thought I’d improvise anyway.

So I followed Lea’s recipe adding about twice as many raspberries to account for the loss of liqueur. Amazingly, once all the alcohol had burned off the rum it tasted quite nicely of raspberry and wasn’t as synthetic as I had expected. Since it was a clear spirit the coulis ended up a VERY bright pink.

My next problem came from the chicory. The shit student fridge in goons flat had frozen it. It still tasted fine but had lost some of its firmness. So it was soft chicory instead of crunchy. :roll:

Despite the setbacks it was a nice meal. The chicory and raspberry worked particularly well together. I served it all with some rosemary new potatoes.

Duck breast, sliced


October 11, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 6:40 pm

 Ostrich fillet in plum sauce

After the success of the last chinese style ostrich fillet I made, I decided to try a similar thing again with a different sauce. Months ago, I remember buying a jar of Tesco Finest plum sauce and not being too impressed. Since plums are in season, I thought it was about time I had a go myself.

It seems that the supermarkets only stock plums that “ripen at home” and most of the packs looked like they’d be spending a good four or five days doing that. Grrr!  I had to hunt around for a pack which looked dark enough for my sauce and even then I was a bit worried they’s be a bit tangy. They were fine in the end, although I think a bit of extra sugar in the sauce may have helped.

I used the same trick as before to cook the ostrich, cutting it into inch thick slices and searing on a high heat for about 45s on each side, then stirring it into the hot sauce at the end. I made the sauce by simmering the chopped plums  with sugar in just enough water to cover them until they disintegrate into mush. Then I added crushed ginger, freshly ground cinnamon, light soy, dry sherry and a touch of honey at the end. When all the liquid had simmered away, I strained the sauce and thickened it with a bit of corn starch before adding the ostrich.

At the same time, I had another go at making crispy seaweed by deep frying fresh greens. This was successful apart from the moment when the oil bubbled over the entire hob. I was actually quite scared I was going to set the flat on fire! A word of warning to all of you -USE A DEEP PAN TO MAKE CRISPY SEAWEED.  The water from the cabbage reacts violently with the hot oil and it bubbles everywhere!

Once I’d saved the hob from a fiery end, I had my ostrich and plum sauce with egg fried rice and the crispy seaweed of doom.


Ostrich, egg fried rice, crispy seaweed

Yes, that is far too much egg fried rice. My arteries will be totally clogged up by the time I’m thirty but at least I’ll be able to say I had some damn good dinners. ;)

Here is the crispy seaweed recipe, the egg fried rice recipe and the ostrich with plum and ginger sauce recipe.

October 10, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:41 pm

Well, sort of simple. You know that when a food blogger says “simple” it is a very relative term!

The Imperial College undergraduates have returned to University which means three things.

  1. The Union Bar is a lot more crowded
  2. I have to go to various fresher welcome events (damn me for being on society comittees).
  3. I have to get up before 9am for a change so that I can get there in time to teach.

Well, maybe four things. The college smells a lot more. This what happens when 18 yr old mommy’s boys are left to fend for themselves. They forget about things like washing and changing clothes. 

Points 2 and 3 together have meant I’ve had a few days where I had really late nights and fairly early mornings so I couldn’t do my usual three hour marathon cooking. So instead I had to have relatively simple meals. This one impressed me the most.

  Honey and mustard chicken thighs

These are some honey and mustard chicken thighs. They’re easy to make, pretty cheap and very tasty. The marinade is just honey, Dijon mustard and English mustard mixed together. The chicken can be left in the oven for 40 minutes while you do other stuff and after that it’s just a case of crisping up the skin and maybe adding a bit of cream to the marinade to make it into a sauce. I had these with some string beans and crisped new potatoes.

The recipe was so cheap and easy that I’ll have to budget it and put it on the student recipe page.

MY other meal of the week was properly simple! This is griddled lamb steak with roasted mediterranean vegetable couscous. It also was suprisingly cheap because the lamb leg steaks were half price. :D

Lamb with vegetable couscous

All I did was marinate the leg steaks in harissa while I went out, then came back and griddled them for a few minutes either side. The cous-cous took about 20 minutes to make. I shoved the vegetables in the oven with olive oil and garlic for 10 minutes till they were tender then mixed with the couscous, some coriander and toasted pine nuts.

In the next few days I’ll devote a few hours to catching up recipes. Blame the Civil Engineering students for me getting behind! If they didn’t get so many questions wrong I’d have finished marking their work hours ago! ;)

And now we have the baked honey and mustard chicken thigh recipe.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:18 pm

I’ve been so ridiculously busy this week that now I’m having to do a load of really quick posts just so I can keep up with my food. I’ll start with the easy ones -that is the ones that didn’t come from my own recipes so there’s not much for me to say about them! ;)  

I’ve decided to forgive Gordon Ramsay for knocking me over the other day. His recipe for salmon with a red wine and crispy bacon sauce is so totally delicious that I have to. It comes from his book, Secrets, which I can’t recommend highly enough, even if he won’t sign it without me buying his autobiography. :roll:

salmon with red wine and bacon sauce

This was Friday night’s dinner and was served with crispy new potatoes and the sad remains of a savoy cabbage. Well, I had to use it up sometime I guess. Of course, I can’t reproduce the recipe for this. For people wanting to have a go at making their own version up, it’s not too hard. Essentially the sauce is reduced red wine with a touch of port with onion, bacon, thyme and rosemary.

Make sure you get the skin nice and crispy! I find the easiest way to do this is to rub a little salt on the salmon skin and then grill it on a medium heat setting. Keep a close eye on it and when the skin has browned slightly, take it away from the heat. I find this gives a nice moist salmon steak with a great crisp skin.

On Sunday I tried out Lea’s recipe for chicken piccata. I thoroughly recommend this! It’s really good. I had to adapt it slightly because I had mini-fillets instead of chicken breasts and I ended up accidentally doubling the sauce quantities. This didn’t bother me as I like sauce but the end product looked very different to Lea’s.


Chicken Piccata


It was totally delicious though! My angel hair pasta has gone walk about, so I had to settle for linguine. Ah, well.

Saturday deserved a bit more attention and so the post detailing it is below. I cooked this kangaroo dish for myself and Andy, who has decided to finance my taste for strange game in return for it being ’skillfully’ (ahem) prepared by me. It appears MJ is freaked out by people eating strange animals. Yay! That’s two people freaked out in one week. I’m getting good at this! :twisted:

October 8, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 6:54 pm

Well, if I’m going to serve this to all the food bloggers, I should give it a dummy run!

If I was serving it to anyone else it wouldn’t be quite that rare. Unless they were like me and wanted it like that, of course!

I’ve done all the individual elements of this meal before but I’d never combined them until this weekend. I’ve made a red wine and bitter chocolate sauce twice before, both times with venison. The first time I used a recipe on the BBC food website which had WAY too much chocolate in. Yes, believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much chocolate.

This time the sauce was just right. I used a fairly chocolately shiraz-cabernet to base it on. This isn’t necessary but I would make sure to use a wine that wasn’t too tart. Richness and mellowness are what you need for this sauce.

I marinated my kangaroo steak in port, minced onion and chopped rosemary before coating it with oil and cooking it rare. I’ve found that kangaroo needs to be cooked on a lower heat than beef steak as the outside will dry out a bit otherwise. To compensate for this it needs slightly longer cooking. My small steak needed about 4 1/2 minutes per side on this medium/high setting. 

I love the way dauphinoise potatoes are so easy to cook but still taste great. I don’t want to think about how bad for you they are! If you haven’t come across them before, dauphinoise potatoes are thinly sliced waxy potatoes layered with garlic and pepper and cooked in cream. Truly artery clogging but still delicious.

So all this was served together with red cabbage braised with juniper and sugar. It was a very warming dish indeed! I’ll put up recipes soon. I am a few days behind on the posting now.

EDIT: And finally here is the Kangaroo with Red Wine and Chocolate Sauce Recipe

October 5, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:18 pm

Or should I say, he just bumped into me?

For the last couple of weeks, the Waterstones in Kensington has been advertising a book signing for Gordon’s new autobiography, ‘Humble Pie’. I don’t particularly want a signed copy of this book. What I DID fancy was a signed copy of his recipe book, ‘Passion for Flavour,’

So I wandered over to the High Street Ken. store to see what was happening. There was already quite a queue but if I joined right then I thought there wouldn’t be much of a problem. I talked to the staff and they said that, since Mr Ramsay was there to promote his autobiography, I could only get another book signed if I also bought that.

It would cost e an extra £12.99. F*ck that. I mean, I think Gordon’s cool but not THAT cool.

Since I was there, I popped upstairs to the cookbook section to have a browse. On my way down, I saw a sudden flurry of activity at the door and about ten people were moving rapidly in my direction. The line barged past me at quite a rate. As I looked around to see why they were in such a hurry I caught a glimpse of the man in the centre of the line.

Yes, it was indeed Gordon, being ushered up the stairs by the shop staff and some other people, who I assume were his publishing team.

So there you go. That’s my excitement for the day. I nearly got knocked over by Gordon Ramsay.

I love the celebrity hole that is London! :D

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