I wanted comfort food, something to keep my stomach happy and full but I also wanted something seasonal. This year I haven’t started growing any fruits or vegetables and have barely used any wild food as well, basically, I’m moving house in three weeks…
There’s no time to grow any vegetables, it’s time to start ending the old things, throwing away what I don’t need, reassessing what I do need, saying goodbyes. Anyway, I wanted something comforting and fairly simple but I also wanted to use something that I had grown myself or at least picked myself… and we have a front garden full of delicious wild garlic leaves. I’d also been thinking about things we will leave behind, and this probably shows that my gastric tract does more of my thinking than my brain because I will really miss the pork and sun-dried tomato sausages from the local butcher, they are some of the best I have ever had. So here is a homage to both of those ingredients.
- Recipe -
12 Sausages //100g Green Lentils // 1 large Onion // 3 sticks of Celery // 1 Leek // 1 Red Pepper // 1 teaspoon of fresh Thyme (leaves only) // 2 bay Leaves // 1 teaspoon of Smoked Paprika // 400g tin of Plum Tomatoes // 2-4 cups of Cider // 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce // 1 tablespoon Cider Vinegar // 1 teaspoon Hot Sauce // 2 tablespoons Tomato Purée // 200g fresh Wild Garlic leaves
- Boil the Lentils in a pan of water for 20 minutes while grilling the Sausages until browned all over.
- When the sausages are ready let them cool for a while and then drain the cooked lentils.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 (220°C, 425°F).
- Chop the Onion into quarters and being to fry with a tablespoon of Butter in a thick bottomed saucepan.
- Roughly chop and add the Celery, Leek and Red Pepper, fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the Thyme and Bay Leaves; then briefly take the saucepan off the heat to add the Paprika. Add in the Sausages and Lentils and then mix in the Tomatoes, Cider (so that the solids are just covered over), Worcestershire Sauce, Cider Vinegar, Hot Sauce and Tomato Purée.
- Bring to the boil, place a lid on the pan and put it in the oven for 30 minutes, taking it out to stir once or twice.
- Chop the Wild Garlic leaves into ribbons and stir them through the casserole immediately before serving.
Serve with Mustard Mashed Potatoes and Enjoy!
This particular recipe got my parent’s approval, which in curry terms is like finding the holy grail. It didn’t beat roast chicken (her all time favourite food) to the top spot, but you can be assured that the day she chooses any food over roast chicken will be the day that the stars explode and the earth crashes into the sun! The depth of flavour is something that I really love about this style of curry: sweet, sour, spicy, bitter and fresh flavours all meld into something incredible satisfying and moreish.
To get a bit snobby, the end result has a better texture if you grind it up with a pestle and mortar, it’s the difference between cutting something and crushing it. If you have the time and you want to wow people with the food you are making, that bit of extra effort makes for a meal that comes out that little bit better. But if you don’t have time, of course just blend the paste ingredients and save your arms a 15 minute workout ( even I do sometimes!).
- Recipe -
2 cloves of Garlic // 2 Shallots, // 3-8 de-seeded long Red Chillis // 2 Lemongrass Stalks // 1 bunched handfull Coriander Stalks // 1 tsp Turmeric Powder // 1 knob fresh Ginger // 1 tsp Tamarind paste // Groundnut Oil
- Roughly cut up the ingredients for the paste and begin to grind the Garlic, Ginger and Shallots in small batches with a little salt.
- Grind up the Coriander Stalks and Ginger and then mix it all in with the pastes and powders, use a little oil to lubricate the mixing slightly.
Coconut Cream or Groundnut Oil // 1 large Onion // the meat from 4 Chicken Drumsticks (de-boned and cut into cubes) // 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar // 300-400ml Coconut Milk // 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce // 2 tablespoons Fish Sauce // 2 Star Anise // 1 Cinnamon Stick // 1 Green Pepper // 100g Green Beans // 1 handful of Spinach // 1 handful of Thai Basil Leaves and torn Kaffir Lime Leaves
- De-bone your Chicken, finely chop the Onion, cut the Pepper into squares and top and tail the Green Beans.
- Begin to heat a wok, then open your can of Coconut Milk, shaking it as little as possible, and spoon the thick Coconut Cream from the top of the Coconut Milk into the pan.
- Fry the Cream for a few minutes on a high heat until the Oils separate out (if you don’t have any Coconut Cream add a tablespoon of Groundnut Oil at this point).
- Fry the Paste in the wok with the Oil for a few minutes until pungent, mix in the Onions and fry until soft.
- Sprinkle the Brown Sugar around the edges of the paste and let it caramelize slightly before mixing in with it and then add in the Chicken cubes and cook until they have just turned white all over.
- Pour in the Coconut Milk, Soy, Fish Sauce, Star Anise and Cinnamon. Season, tun the heat down and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the Green Pepper and Beans, and then cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the Spinach and cook until just wilted and then garnish with Thai Basil and torn Kaffir Lime Leaves.
- Serve immediately with Coconut Rice.
This recipe is simple to make, and also pretty delicious. An English audience might be put off by not being able to acquire tinned Pumpkin Puree, but it’s so easy to make your own that it shouldn’t be a worry. I shall post the recipe shortly after this one.
Also, the Pie Crust is just a simple Shortcrust Pastry, it only takes 15 minutes to make your own, and it has so few ingredients that it is next to impossible to get it wrong, so have a try!
The recipe uses silly North American volume measurements rather than weight, who knows how much a cup is? I don’t! I just use a teacup for it… and hope it is about right.
- Recipe -
1 unbaked deep dish pie crust // 1 cup of brown sugar // 2 tablespoons of molasses // 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon // 1 teaspoon of ground ginger // 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves // 3 eggs (beaten slightly) // 1 can (15 oz) of pumpkin puree (I’m not sure where you can find it but Libby’s is best) // 1 can (12 oz) of evaporated milk
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7 (425°F, 218°C).
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
- Mix the Eggs and Milk together and then add in the Molasses and Pumpkin Puree.
- Add everything together and mix well.
- Pour into the pie shell and bake for about 40 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean).
- Serve with something nice like Cream or Ice Cream.
Beef Shin (Foreshank to Americans) is not often used in modern cooking, it is a slightly daunting cut of meat if you are accustomed to pan frying supermarket steaks. Shin is marbled with well used sinews and deeply flavored connective tissues. When cooked properly Beef Shin releases seriously delicious deep beefy flavors and textures that other stewing cuts like Chuck, Flank or Brisket don’t quite match. But at the same time the trade off is that although Chuck Steak takes an hour to tenderize, Shin takes three!
This is a great dish if you are cooking for big groups of people, it’s very economical, fairly easy to prepare and also, to let my readers (if any exist, haha!) in on a secret… this dish much like Lasagne or Chili con Carne is actually best eaten after being left to cool for a day, the flavors blend and intensify, sauces thicken and you end up with a meal that will have people saying wow! So prepare it the day before a party and you get both convenience and an even tastier meal!
- Recipe -
1 kg of Beef Shin // 2 tablespoons of Plain Flour // 1 teaspoon of Thyme // 2 large handfuls of dried Wild Mushrooms (Horn of Plenty, Chanterelle or Porcini) // 3 medium Onions, quartered // 2 sticks of Celery // 8-12 Baby Carrots, the larger ones halved // 1 heaped tablespoon of Dijon Mustard // 1 heaped tablespoon of Horseradish Sauce // 3/4 of a bottle of medium Red Wine // 4 Bay Leaves //
- Chop the Beef Shin into large cubes, leave the fat on, heavily Salt and Pepper it, add the Thyme and then mix the Flour in. Fry the Beef Cubes in Butter on a high heat until very browned on each side, pat dry with paper towels.
- Put the Wild Mushrooms to soak in a cup of warm Water.
- Quickly wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and then add in another tablespoon of Butter. When the pan is hot brown the sides of the Onion quarters until soft and brown. Add in the Celery, turn the heat down slightly, and cook it for another few minutes until soft.
- Add the Carrots into the pan with the Beef, stir in the Mustard and Horseradish. Mix in the Wild Mushrooms and soaking liquid, and then add most of the Wine (reserve a little) with the Bay Leaves, season with Salt and Pepper.
- Place everything into a deep casserole dish. Use the reserved Wine to de-glaze the pan and add it to the casserole too.
- Cook uncovered in the oven at gas mark 8 (230 C,450F) for 30 minutes and then cover and turn the heat down to gas mark 4 (180 C,350F) and cook for between 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
- Serve with Mashed Potatoes or a mix of Basmati and Wild Rice.
This is a really simple recipe and a very delicious one. Mexican beans is the sort of meal that really grows on you, at first bite it doesn’t seem amazing, at the second it seems good but so so, after your first bowl you will find cravings start to happen, your mouth begins to water at the thought of them, you have dreams of Beans, strange things begin to happen, and then you know you are hooked.
If Beans give you stomach problems, try putting in a few sprigs of Epazote towards the end. This strange herb gives a completely unique taste to the Beans and also helps to fight certain….erm…. bad effects that beans can cause.
- Frijoles de Olla -
Feeds 3-5 as a side
500g Beans (preferably Pinto Beans or Borlotti) // 2 teaspoons of Salt // 1 litre of Water // 1 Jalapeño Pepper // 2 teaspoons of Oil
- Soak the beans over night, changing the water several times.
- Drain them and then cover over with the litre of Water and simmer until soft, roughly 1 to 1 and a half hours for Pinto Beans. Check them every so often to make sure that there is still enough Water in the pot. This process will be much faster in a pressure cooker, but the flavour will be less developed.
- Secret Tip - When the Beans are soft place 2 teaspoons of Oil into a hot pan and score three diagonal slashes into a Jalapeño Pepper. Turn the heat down a little and fry the Jalapeño for 5 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add two cups of Beans (without the broth) and use a potato masher to mash them with the Jalapeño. Mix this into the pot.
- Serve in bowls with Salsa Bandera mixed in and also optionally things like Totopos (Tortillas fried in Oil).
- Salsa Bandera -
1/2 a White Onion // 2 large firm Tomato / 1-3 Jalapeño Peppers
- Chop the Tomato in half, scoop out the seeds, peel the Onion and remove the Jalapeño seeds/veins.
- Chop all of the ingredients into small cubes, add a tiny bit of of Lime Juice and some chopped Coriander if you like.
First things first, my picture is fairly crappy, I was serving it as a starter and was in a rush to get the food out, eat it and get to the bbq grill again while it was hot enough to cook the carne asada for the mains. My idea was I wanted to get the pepper exactly half covered in sauce, I probably could have done this by dipping it, but it was pretty much impossible to do on such a knobbly surface by pouring like I attempted. That’s my lesson learned for next time, either half dip it or completely cover the whole pepper in sauce and use some Parsley to add the much needed green, why is green needed? Well…
… This is meant to be a nationalistic Mexican dish, it gets eaten around this time of year when Pomegranates come into season and more importantly, when Mexico celebrates it’s independence, September 16th. The green of the pepper, white of the Walnut Sauce and red of the Pomegranate form the colours of their flag in a similar fashion to other patriotic foods like Salsa Bandera (Flag Salsa). Enough rambling for now, here’s the recipe:
- Recipe -
Feeds 3 as a starter
- The stuffing (Picadillo) -
3 Poblano Chilli Peppers (you could substitute with Bell or Sweet Peppers if you are desperate) // 300g Ground Beef (or a Beef and Pork mix) // 2 Bay Leaves // 1 diced clove of Garlic //3/4 of a large Onion, diced // Parsley // 1 seeded Tomato, diced // a mix of Almonds, Peanuts, Walnuts, Pine Nuts // Dried Fruit such as Raisins, Apple, Apricot, Pineapple
- The Sauce/Garnish -
400ml Sour Cream // a large handful of Walnuts // a pinch of Black Pepper // a pinch of Cinnamon // arils (the fleshy fruit) from half a Pomegranate // extra Parsley to garnish
- Start off by cooking the Peppers over a flame, turning regularly, until the skins are wrinkled and blackened.
- Place the Peppers into a plastic bag and seal it, let them sit for 10 minutes and then peel all of the skin off, leaving the dark green flesh .
- Slice them down one side and then de-seed and de-vein then through the hole, try to be neat, but don’t worry too much if you rip them a little. Put to one side
- Begin to fry the Ground Meat in a little Oil, mix in the Bay, Garlic and Onion.
- Then when the Meat is close to being cooked through start mixing in the Tomatoes, Parsley, Nuts and Fruits, incorporate it so it is roughly half Meat and half the rest.
- Blend the Sour Cream, Cinnamon, Pepper and Walnuts into a very smooth paste and then simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- Stuff the Peppers with the meat mixture, dip in/pour on the Sauce and then garnish with Pomegranate and some Parsley Sprigs, serve hot.
A penpal sent me this recipe a couple of days ago, I haven’t tried making it yet, but I have been promised Sonoran style is the best tasting Carne Asada in Mexico! So as a Carne Asada fan I have very high hopes for this recipe! I spent most of the afternoon translating it so I hope the translation is up to standard! Also, check out the amazing looking Sonoran beach, I know I am envious.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
- Recipe -
The portion is for 1 person ( for 4-5 people buy 1kg)
- Ingredients -
For the Meat:
250g roasting beef (we use a part called diezmillo (chuck steak), but you can use meat that has a bit of fat, as it gives the best flavour // Salt to Taste // 1/4 of a cup of Beer // 1/4 of an Onion
The accompanying Salsa:
2 Tomatoes // 2 Chilli Peppers (you can use Jalapeño Chillies, preferably fresh, not pickled) // 1/4 of a White Onion // Salt and Pepper
1 Avocado // half a cup of Cream // 1 Jalapeño Chilli // Coriander to taste // Salt and Pepper to taste
Refried Beans // Tortillas made of Flour or Corn (the typical recipe uses regional Flour Tortillas, hope you can get something similar // chopped White Cabbage // Fried Onion
- Preparation -
For the Meat:
- Rub the Fillets with Salt and Pepper. Place a griddle or Skillet directly on the hob. Before frying, take 1/4 of an Onion and rub it around the pan, this stops the meat from sticking.
- Place the fillets on the pan and pour the Beer around the meat (you can use less Beer if you prefer). It’s not necessary to add Oil as the Onion and the natural Fats from the Meat will prevent sticking.
- Cook the meat to personal taste, I prefer well done, but it can be medium.
- Cut the meat into squares or strips as you prefer, or present the Fillets whole.
For the Salsa:
- Wash Tomatoes and Chilli Peppers. Fry in a pan until they are soft and well roasted.
- Add them to the blender with the Salt, Pepper and Onion.
- If you want you can grind them with a fork, potato masher or if you have a pestle and mortar that is best.
For the Guacamole:
- Here you have two options; first, take all the ingredients and blend them, this way you get a smoother Guacamole, a bit more liquid.
- The second option is to grind (crush) the Avocados with a fork and add the cream, chopped jalapeño chilli, a bit of Coriander, Salt and Pepper and then stir with a spoon.
- In the second version you can add some chopped Tomatoes if you like, and then use it as a dip to accompany fries.
- The Meat is most commonly served in the form of Tacos, in a Flour Tortilla with Refried Beans and the Meat on top. You then add the Cabbage, the Salsa and the Guacamole. Accompanying it with the Fried Onions.
- A tip for preparing the Onions, cut a very large Onion into 4 and wrap each part in a little tin foil and fry in a pan. It’s a great accompaniment.
Hope that you enjoy the recipe, it’s very easy to prepare and hopefully even if you cant get all the ingredients you can get something similar.