Wednesday, March 23, 2011


This was truly delicious! 
If like me you would murder for a good bit of guacamole then you'll love this. It's a recipe I knicked off of Thomasina Miers (Original Master chef UK winner). She has a book on Mexican food that I'm in LOVE with at the moment.

I've always had a soft spot for a burrito or two but I could never really make great guacamole. Now I can!!! The key to this is to make a fine paste with your onion and chillies first and then to add mountains of lime juice and coriander....No problem!

I used mine on a chicken club sandwich I made for lunch and then kept the rest for chips and dip with Pino later that night. It didn't last very long but it was well worth it. 

2 ripe havas avocado
1 lime,  juice (and a bit of zest)
1 small red onion
2 red chillies
1 small bunch of coriander
salt and pepper to taste.

The how to bit.....
Finely dice half of the red onion and one red chilli. Place them into the pastel and mortar with some salt and bash into a  smooth paste. Once you have your paste, mash in the avocados and mix in the rest of the finely dice onions and chillies.
Squeeze the lime juice on top, add some chopped coriander and mix it all together.
Chilli and onion paste
I like mine a bit on the chunky side so I tend not to over mash the avocados.

So once again sorry for the quick and cheeky blog but I'm still very much trying to get myself settled after the move. Also it seems that I bought all of IKEA last week and now have a mountain of things that need assembling. Anyone want to help?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Paella of deliciousness (and tomato salad)

The main event
This is a bit less seasonal than I'd normally like to post about. I'm in the middle of moving apartments so I had to dig through my photo library to see what pictures I had to scrape a blog together with.

Last summer in London was a scorcher! My cravings like everyones (I assume) changes with the weather. So because the weather was heating up I started having real cravings for "summer" food. Stuff like seafood, tomatoes, lemon, can probably see where I'm going with this. Paella combines all of these things and more!

I spent more than I should on some amazing chorizo in borough market so I needed to make it stretch. Hence the starter of tomato and chorizo salad. Also Pella like risotto is one of those things best cooked and served straight away so the tomato salad buys you some time in the kitchen! Also it's upsettingly simple to put together.

Scary looking? Or tasty Looking? 

150g Chroizo (Not cured)
250g king prawns (2-3 per person)
300g Squid
500g of Mussels
150-200g peas
4 large tomatoes
1 large white onion
1 Yellow pepper
4 cloves of garlic
3 red chilies
3 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp pd saffron strands
1 lemon
2-3 Sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 glass of dry white wine
400g of short grain rice (paella rice)
800mls of stock (fish, vegetable or chicken)
Boiling water (enough to top up later)

The how to bit....
Heat some olive oil in a pan and soften the onion, garlic, pepper, red chilies and thyme. After a minutes or two add the chorizo and paprika and cook on a high heat until you see the chorizo start to ooze a beautiful golden oil. Now dump in the rice and mix it around really well so all the rice is coated in the oil. Now add the wine and let it cook off. Add the stock and bring to a boil but don't let it boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer. This is a good point to stir in the saffron.

 Heads on the prawns = Tasty deliciousness! 
The thing with paella is you need to resist stirring it too much as that woud release too much starch and we're not making risotto here! Let the rice simmer for 15 minutes then add in the prawns and muselles. You want to make sure they are totally submerged in the stock/rice (if not, top it up with some boiling water). Cook them for 4-5 minutes, when the prawns turn pink and the muselles open they're ready! Throw in the squid and peas now, again cover them in the rice and let cook for no more than 2 minutes. Take off the heat, cover the pan with foil and let stand for 5 minutes (season to taste). Arrange some lemon slices on the top and serve with some crusty bread. Yum!!

Tomato Salad:
Tomatoes roughly chopped
Chorizo (Cooked in olive oil, keep for dressing)
Red onion finely sliced
Fresh basil

There's no need for me to list how to put this salad together. There is no right way or wrong way just bang all the ingredients together and drizzle with the cooking oil. Salt and peper to taste and a splash of balsamic vinger never goes astray.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lasagna, plain and simple.

OK I know everyone has their own version of lasagna and this isn't a ground breaking, michelin star winning, deconstructed, evolved attempt or anything like that. It's just my lasagna.

However, this is one of my go to dishes when I'm feeling like I need a bit of comfort food. It's easy to put together when you have big group coming over and it's always a crowd pleaser.

Just by serving it with a simple rocket salad you can feed a lot of people for not a lot of money. Also it keeps/freezes very well.

Ingredients for Ragú (serves 8-10)
500g Minced beef
500g Minced pork
2 cans of plum tomatoes
1 large handful of Basil
Nutmeg (freshly grated, 10-12 shavings)
Chicken stock (500-600mls)
Red wine (1/2 a glass)
Red Onion finely diced
2 sticks of celery
2 cloves of garlic
Tomato purée (1 Tbs)
Lemon (Juice of one and half the zest)
Honey (1 Tbs)
Mushrooms (250g)
Chilli (finely diced, seeds and all)
2 Carrots sliced
Salt & Pepper
Oregano 2 tsp

The how too bit...
Soften the onion, celery, garlic (with salt) in some olive oil for 5min on a medium heat.Turn the heat up, add the red wine and let cook off. Turn heat back down to medium and add the meat. Brown the meat fully and let the fat cook off. Now add the tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, puree, chilli and mix around for a min or two. 
Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, zest and honey. Let this come to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Grate in the nutmeg (about 1/4 of a whole one) and add half the basil. Leave it to thicken and adjust the seasoning. This can take up to an hour. Make sure to keep an eye on it and stir it often.

While the ragú is thickening I normally make my béchamel sauce. For this you'll need, 

500mls of Milk 
Half an onion 
1 bay leaf 
7-8 whole peppercorns 
Fresh parsley 
40g of butter
40g of flour 

Warm your milk with the onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, nutmeg and parsley in it. Let this infuse for 10min. While this is happening melt your butter in a sauce pan, before it browns sift in the flour and mix to make a roux. Once you've cooked the roux for a min begin to slowly add your flavoured milk. Keep stirring while you pour. Simmer and reduce the béchamel sauce until it's as thick as you like it. 

Once you have all your sauces ready it's a simple layering procedure. I only make my own pasta on special occasions I find the fresh pasta sheets available in most shops now is good enough for this.