Sunday, 30 September 2012


 How to Make Njera
Start with some teff, a tiny Ethiopian grain and pound it furiously in a stone mortar until you have flour. Or you can buy teff flour. Any good health food store will have both. Put about a cup of the flour in a bowl and add water until you have a smooth batter. Cover with a towel. The next day add a little more teff flour and water. Continue for one week adding more each morning. It will be sour and smell funky. Next heat a very large non stick skillet and generously daub with butter. Make sure your batter is quite thin, add a pinch of salt too. Pour in about a cup of batter and swirl around so the entire pan is evenly covered. It will hiss and sizzle and little holes will appear. Cover the pan briefly to steam through. You don't need to turn it over or flip, just carefully remove with a spaluta and set aside on a platter. It will be nice and tart and chewy. On top you put little piles of stewed lentils, spicy stewed chicken (doro wat) and cauliflower or okra. Anything. You eat by tearing off little bits of the njera and picking up mouthfuls of the food.

SPRING into action with our yummy desserts, you may be familiar with these recipes but we have added a little food dept twist! Enjoy!

Strawberry tart with black pepper pastry
Serves 8

• 1 cup (250ml) milk
• 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
• 3 egg yolks
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons plain flour
½ cup (125ml) double thick cream, whipped
• 500g strawberries, hulled, halved
• 1 tablespoon vino cotto
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Black pepper pastry
• 1 ⅔ cups (250g) plain flour, sifted
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
• 175g chilled unsalted butter, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
• 1 egg, lightly beaten

1. For the pastry, whiz flour, sugar, butter and pepper in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until pastry comes together in a ball. Enclose pastry in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, place milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan over low heat and bring to just below boiling point.
3. Combine yolks, caster sugar and flour in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then strain into a clean saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until a very thick custard. Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with baking paper and chill for 30 minutes.

4. Fold through the cream and chill until ready to serve.
5. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to 5mm thick, then use it to
line a greased 35cm x 11cm rectangular tart pan. Prick the base with a fork and chill for a further 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and weights and return the pastry to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until pastry is golden and dry.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.
7. Place the strawberries, vino cotto and brown sugar in a bowl and toss gently to combine. Spread the custard in the cooled pastry case, top with the strawberries and serve immediately.

food dept fact: Vino cotto, an Italian condiment made from cooked grape must or figs,
adds a sour element to sweet dishes, while delicate orange blossom water enhances citrus flavours. Look for both at gourmet food shops.


Blood orange margarita ice blocks with lime salt
Makes 10

You will need ice-block moulds and paddlepop sticks for this recipe. Be creative and make use different shaped moulds for some kitsch fun.

¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
• 2 cups (500ml) blood orange
• mineral water (such as Schweppes Agrum Blood Orange)
• 2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
¼ cup (60ml) tequila
• Finely grated zest of 1 lime, plus
¼ cup
• (60ml) lime juice and wedges to serve
• 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes

1. Combine sugar and
¼ cup (60ml) water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring for 2-3 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and simmer for 1-2 minutes until slightly syrupy. Transfer the syrup to a large heatproof bowl and allow to cool.
2. Place the blood orange mineral water in a large bowl and lightly whisk to
remove the bubbles. Stir into the cooled sugar syrup with the Cointreau, tequila and lime juice. Transfer mixture to a jug.
3. Carefully pour mixture into the ice block moulds, leaving 1cm at the top to allow for the ice block to expand as it freezes. Freeze for 8 hours or overnight.
4. To serve, combine the salt flakes and lime zest in a small bowl. Run the moulds
under water to release the ice blocks, then serve with the lime salt and lime wedges.


Grapefruit posset
Makes 4
Here's our twist on the old English dessert lemon posset, the grapefruit adds a slightly tart taste which cuts through the thick cream. With only 4 ingredients, it couldn't be easier.

• 1 ruby grapefruit, plus wedges to garnish
• 450ml double thick cream
cup (150g) caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• Shortbread, to serve

1. Finely grate the grapefruit zest, then halve and juice (you’ll need 100ml). Heat
the cream, sugar and grapefruit zest in a saucepan over low heat for 2-3 minutes,
stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly
for 1-2 minutes.

2. Gently stir the grapefruit and lemon juice into the cream mixture, then divide
among four ½ cup (125ml) serving glasses. Chill for 4 hours or overnight until set.
3. Garnish the possets with grapefruit wedges and serve with shortbread.

Lemon curd, mascarpone & almond layer cake 

Serves 8
We know you all love this recipe, as so many have baked and sent us pics of this gorgeous sunny cake. The trick with layer cakes is to put the cooled cakes in the freezer for 40 minutes and then cut each in half. It makes it much easier to handle and you won't have too many crumbs.

• 1 cup (150g) plain flour
• 1 tbs cornflour
cup (80g) almond meal
• 8 eggs, separated
• ¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
• 200ml thickened cream
¼tsp vanilla extract
• 250g mascarpone
• 1 cup lemon curd (recipe follows) or use good-quality store-bought lemon curd
Lemon syrup
• 400g caster sugar
• 2 lemons, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line two round 20cm cake pans with baking paper.
2. Sift the flours and almond meal into a bowl, then sift again. In a separate bowl, beat yolks and 80g sugar with electric beaters until thick and pale. Set aside.
3. In a clean bowl, whisk eggwhites until soft peaks form. Whisk in remaining 85g sugar, then continue to whisk until glossy peaks form. Fold eggwhite mixture into yolk mixture. Working in 3 batches, fold in flour mixture until just combined.

4. Pour batter into cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until pale golden and the
tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. For the syrup, heat sugar and 400ml water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring
until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium, then add lemon. Cover the surface with baking paper and simmer for 30 minutes or until the syrup has thickened and lemon is translucent. Set aside.
6. Lightly whip cream and vanilla with electric beaters, then add the mascarpone
and beat on low speed until combined.
7. To assemble, cut each cake in half horizontally. Place 1 layer on a plate and brush liberally with lemon syrup. Spread with one-third of the curd and top with one-third of the cream. Repeat layers 2 more times, then top with a final layer of cake. Drizzle top with remaining syrup and decorate with the candied lemon slices. 


Lemon curd
Makes 1 cup
 These little jars of golden lemon curd make beautiful thank you gifts or look for decorative jars and sell them at your next local fete.

½ cup (110g) castor sugar
• Finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
• 3 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
• 100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1. Place sugar, zest and juice in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add eggs, stirring to combine.
Return the pan to low heat and add the butter, a piece at a time, whisking constantly for 8-10 minutes until thickened.
2. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, cover surface with baking paper and chill lemon curd until ready to serve or pour into sterilized jars. Use as required.

Ricotta doughnuts with orange blossom glaze and white chocolate dipping sauce
Makes 24 doughnuts

You will need a kitchen thermometer, from kitchenware shops, for this recipe and great restraint. These doughnuts are irrestistably delicious, bouncy morsels of soft dough, a citrus kick and wonderful then oozy white chocolate dipping sauce..... We dare you to stop at one.

• 1
½ cups (225g) plain flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 2 tbs caster sugar
• 1 cup (240g) ricotta
• 2 eggs
3/4 cup (185ml) milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 200g white chocolate, chopped
½ cup (125ml) thickened cream
• Sunflower oil, to deep-fry

Orange blossom & honey glaze
½ cup (180g) runny honey
• 1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Finely pared zest of 1 orange.

1. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat the ricotta in an electric mixer for 1 minute or until almost smooth. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute until well combined. Add milk and vanilla, then beat for a further 1 minute. Beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Set aside.
3. To make the white chocolate dipping sauce, place chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water), stirring until melted. Set aside.
4. For the glaze, combine honey, orange blossom water, orange zest and
¼cup (60ml) water in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside.
5. Half fill a wok or large saucepan with oil and bring to 160°C over medium heat (oil
should be hot enough for batter to sizzle and rise to the surface). In batches, drop heaped teaspoons batter into the oil and fry, turning, for 4-5 minutes until golden.
Drain on paper towel.

6. Toss the warm doughnuts with the glaze and serve with the dipping sauce. 

Pistachio ice cream with praline
Makes 1 litre

cup (100g) pistachio kernels
• 2 tablespoons glucose syrup

• 8 egg yolks
• ¾
cup (185g) caster sugar
• 600ml thickened cream
• 400ml milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pistachio praline
cup (100g) pistachio kernels
• 1 cup (220g) caster sugar

1. Pulse pistachios in a food processor until fine. Mix glucose and
¼ cup (60ml) boiling
water in a bowl. Add to the pistachio and whiz for 3-4 minutes until a fine paste.
2. Beat yolks, sugar and pistachio paste in a bowl with electric beaters until thick and pale.
3. In a saucepan over low heat, bring cream, milk and vanilla to just below boiling point, then whisk into egg mixture. Strain into a clean saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring,
for 3-4 minutes until thickened and smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover surface with baking paper and chill until cool.
4. Churn in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions, then freeze for 4 hours or overnight. 

5. For the praline, grease and line a baking tray. Place pistachios on tray. Stir sugar
¼ cup (60ml) water in a pan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and cook for 3-4 minutes until a golden caramel. Pour over nuts and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour or until firm. Break into shards.
Serve the pistachio ice cream sprinkled with the praline shards.

food dept fact: Glucose syrup is available from the supermarket baking aisle. To hand-churn ice cream, pour the cooled custard into a shallow container and freeze for 2 hours or until frozen at the edges. Beat with electric beaters, then return to the container and refreeze. Repeat 3 times.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Blood, Sweat and Ears

I don't need to show you what this actually looks like in the flesh, but it is a chili, based on blood, pig ears, pork belly, onions and other odds and ends. I was fully prepared to make a raw vegan chili. (YES! Just for the challenge!) And then I found it already made and my kitchen preoccupied all morning. SO what can I do but go the utter opposite direction? It's for a chili contest tonight.

The cover parodied here is a post BS&T era album of recovered recordings. I dare you to listen to some of their best songs, absolutely fantastic. And after tasting this chili just now, this is too. Tastes like chocolate, which is SO weird because there is none in it. Just smooth, really dark, a little bitter, some sweetness, iron, spice. And nibblie bits of ear. Wonder if I could make this into a candy bar? Notice the blood stain on the poster too!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Dried Pulse Conspiracy

Manufacturers and marketeers of dried pulses, beans, peas and other desiccated legumes have been having us consumers over the barrel for years. These high-fibre, natural, healthy goods, which are normally purchased after a pique of soul searching, mirror staring and finger prodding, play an integral part in the ‘whole food’ machine. And whilst on the outside they seem to offer a route to a new lifestyle, new diet, new you; on the inside, dried pulses are inherently deceptive and evil. And why? Well it comes down to the simple fact that according to instructions on the packet, you have to ‘soak’ the bloody things.
This is my theory.

Some days you can find yourself in a supermarket, wandering around, feeling lethargic, turgid and morose and you happen to chance upon the whole food section. Beaming out towards you is a myriad of bags and sacks containing fanciful, colourful, strangely shaped nuggets of life-affirming joy; life-affirming because all the shelves and labelling is in green and there are pictures of wheat and corn and Gethin Jones everywhere. As the smarmy twat stares back at you, all fresh faced and vigorous, you think to yourself, ‘My God, this is just what I need, this will make me feel better.’ And so you scoop up an armful of mung beans, lentils and chickpeas and skip merrily to the checkout.

However, when you get home, full of ideas to whack on a casserole of hip thrusting goodness or to make a curry of fist pumping, hot, crazy, spunkiness, you read the back of the pack and crestfallen, you discover that soaking ‘for 8-12 hours or overnight’ is required. So everything gets packed onto the top shelf of the cupboard and whilst leaning against the side, you ruminate that you will cook up something simply gorgeous next week instead. And then you open the fridge to tuck into a pork pie.

Time goes by but every now and then, the inspiration returns. “It’s a cold day; let’s get the muthafrickin pearl barley out! You know, I feel all Spanishy today, fetch me the butter beans! We are poor and have no money till pay day; the kids are starving, what the frack is left in the cupboard? Dried kidney beans!!”

And yet bang, time after time, you get hit by the ‘soaking rule’ and with sad faces all round you say,“Sorry children, no kidney beans tonight, we'll have to do with some manky onions and an egg instead”. And back into the cupboard it goes, to accumulate dust and melancholy.

The real kick in the nuts comes when you actually remember to take the damned pulses out of the cupboard the night before and after gleefully snipping the plastic, pouring the contents into a bowl and some on the floor, you suddenly spot it:

Best Before: Jan 1997

And this is my point. They know this. Holland and Barrett et al, will happily continue to pimp their bags of dry, musty seed, knowing that we, the people, frail and susceptible, will always buy their horrible, flatulent inducing beans, go to use and cook, get scuppered by the 'soaking' rule; and then forget about them. And then go out to buy some more. Go to use and cook. Get scuppered by the 'soaking' rule. And then forget about them. And then go out to buy some more. Go to use and cook. Get scuppered by the 'soaking' rule. And then forget about them. Ad infinitum.

We are talking about food waste on a grotesque, criminal scale here. And somewhere, in some anonymous warehouse, sitting on a mountain of puy, is this Mr Burns figure. And he is laughing, throwing lentils into the air, imagining each tiny green speck as a shiny gold coin. 
And this is all down to the ‘soaking’ rule.

It makes me feel sick.

But, after some investigation yesterday, I took the plunge on the advice from some more enlightened individuals and this is what I have learned.


In fact, all you need to do, is to give whatever dried pulses you have to hand a bloody good boiling for a few minutes, wash off the scum and then soak for just a couple of hours more before cooking. Which is much more amenable. If you have a pressure cooker, you don’t even have to soak at all, which is even better. I don't have a pressure cooker, yet.

I did not know this and I don’t think many others know this either. So I want to spread the word and smash the system; smash it till this ‘overnight soaking’ message is gone, smashed out of existence. In its place I just want smashed chickpeas, unadulterated and pure. 

Because I am quite fond of hummous.

What say ye? Are you with me? Can we do without soaking our pulses people? 

Or am I wrong, Mr Burns?

From to this
To this
 To this
To finally this, without having to soak overnight.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Schmaltzerdoodles: Duck Fat Onion Cookies

Begin by finely dicing one small onion and brown very gently in duck or chicken fat with a good pinch each of salt and thyme. Let cook about 30 minutes on the lowest heat possible, stirring often. Then place in a separate small bowl and chill thoroughly in the freezer, at least 20 minutes.

Take one cup of well chilled solid duck or chicken fat and cream in one cup of coarse grained unrefined sugar. Add one egg, a capful of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Add in the chilled onions, a handful of crushed walnuts and enough flour to make a dough you can roll into balls. The more flour you add, the more cakey they will be. The less you add, the crisper. Roll out small balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. They will look and have the texture of Mexican wedding cookies, so sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like.

Makes 28-30 cookies. Serve with good bourbon, sit on the porch and enjoy at about 5:00 on a Sunday afternoon on the first day of fall.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ooh You Are Offal (But I Like You)

Once upon a time, two guys, bespectacled and besmirched with balding bonces, sat in a pub and over a pint or two (or was it five?) scribbled down a menu on the back of a beer mat. This menu was to be an unusual one, an impassioned ode to the pluck, the innards and the gizzards of beasts, birds and swine. Or in other words, a menu based around offal.

Deliriously happy with themselves, they then set upon testing some of these ideas. One glorious fun filled Sunday in particular comes to mind. Liver was thinly sliced and delicately wrapped with sage and streaky bacon around wooden skewers and then flash fried. The crispy outer skin combined with yielding, tender liver inside and a smidgen of melodious salvia was an instant hit; around 20 liver lollipops were tested and consumed that afternoon.

The innovation of a meat pie based solely around organs was more of a roller-coaster affair. Expectations of a heart, liver and kidney combo were high and the first emanating smells from the oven certainly had promise. But after a tasting, the textures weren't quite right; these organs, organs that once upon a time, worked in perfect symphony didn't quite work together in the afterlife. So the said gentlemen retreated to the garden to sit, pause and think, with bits of puff pastry stuck to their faces. Children were around also that day and a peculiar game of 'throw pastry around the kitchen' evolved out of nowhere. 

Suddenly, the taller, skinnier baldy of the two, had a Eureka moment.

"Let's just pimp up the classic steak and kidney," he exclaimed. "Let's get some onglet which has a great offal flavour. And some shin and some kidney and create a tongue-in-cheek homage to magnificent Pukka Pie! But ours will be much, much better."

"Yes," replied the shorter, wider but curiously more handsome baldy. "Or even better than that, let's get some Fray Bentos pies and cook the pies in the empty tins. That would be a sweet touch, ironic even. I bet you if I get in touch with their PR and ask for them to send us a load of their pies, we can just ditch the shit stuff and put our delicious stuff in instead!”

“Are you going to explain this to the PR?”

“Er, yes?”

“Let’s just go with my Pukka Pie idea.”

More testing and conversation has taken place since that fateful day and after one last, shexy* Skyping session last night, these two epicurean adventurers nailed down the final elements of what will be a truly fantastic supper club night. Which will take place in just under a fortnight on Saturday 29th September, at Food Urchin mansions in Upminster.

I am of course the shorter, wider baldy from the tale; the taller, skinnier one, is none other than the mighty Paul Hart, who writes the no-nonsense How Not To Do A Food Blog blog.

And here is our menu:

Liver Lollipops and Crispy Skin Snacks

Lamb Tongue Terrine with Green Sauce

The Fabulous Furchsense Offal Pie with Champ and Selected Allotment Veg

Pear Sorbet

Spotted Dick and Custard

All this for the very reasonable donation of 25 English Pounds (including the ubiquitous home-made bread and free tap water)

Unfortunately, we cannot cater for vegetarians on this evening. Unless you would like us to serve up a plate of artichoke hearts!

There are currently 10 spaces left so if you would like to reserve a place please contact me at

*Shexy because Paul and I always Skype in just our pants.
Early Liver Lollipop prototype
Paul sports a syrup fig fashioned from puff pastry (made the kids laugh).

Monday, 17 September 2012

Another interview for RTV

HOT – EXTRA HEAT – A delicious little salad on the side

Make your own salad dressing
Salad dressing can be a daunting task for some of us, but follow some basic guidelines and you can make any dressing. When making vinaigrette the base is a combination of oil and acid, which can be in the form of lemon or lime juice or vinegar.
The general rule is 1 part acid to 3 parts oil; you can use all oils from mild nut oil to a pungent extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes you may want the acid to cut through a bit more so reduce the oil and increase the acid, try 1 part acid to 2 parts oil.  From there you can season the dressing to suit the salad you are making - adding mustard, sugar or honey, herbs and of course season it with salt and pepper.
This particular dressing, pictured below is a Thai style that actually doesn’t use any oil but has quite a high proportion of sugar to balance the acidity from the lime juice, it has heat from the sweet chilli and ginger sauce and fresh chilli and the saltiness comes from the fish sauce.

Green papaya salad with spicy lime dressing 
This beautiful fresh salad has a wonderful zingy dressing that combines hot sour, salty and sweet flavours. Make a meal of this salad by adding grilled green prawns. 
Serves 2–4

• vegetable oil, for frying
• 3 purple shallots, finely sliced
• ½ green papaya, shredded
• 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
• ½ cup coriander leaves
• ½ cup mint leaves
• ½ cup roasted peanuts
• 1 quantity Spicy lime dressing

1. Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the shallot until golden brown, drain on paper towel and set aside to cool.
2. Arrange the papaya and carrot on a serving plate and top with the herbs, sprinkle over the fried shallots and peanuts.
3. Just before serving drizzle over the dressing. Serve immediately.

Spicy lime dressing

Makes ¾ cup

• ⅓ cup lime juice
• ⅓ cup Sweet chilli and ginger sauce
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 2 tablespoons shaved palm sugar
• 1 small Thai chilli finely sliced

1. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. Use as required. This dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Beef Middles

I forgot what a delight it is to use beef middles to make salami. It's been more than a year. They're maybe 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and you can simply place the chopped meat inside by hand and squeeze it down hard, because they don't break. These are pork on the periphery, some with fennel, some with chili pepper. In the center are beef and in the back left a pair of lomo, i.e. cured pork loin, which is actually very tricky to stuff. And to cure, it needs to soak with salt and spices a week or so in the fridge first. So how nice is having a cave stuffed with salami? About 20 pounds, in a few hours, without a single machine. A WHOLE lot of fun. Whatever works best I'll bring to the party for The Lost Arts in SF next month. So my recommendation: forget about small diamater beef rounds. Not worth the effort and they dry out way too much before the meat has a chance to cure and get a good sour bite. And Pig Middles, work fine, but they sure do stink! These barely smell at all.