Monday, December 26, 2011


For when we run out of ideas but are still staring at the meat...

for Boxing Day


serves 2-3

25g butter (extra for greasing)
1 large leek, finely sliced into rounds
1 medium sized carrot, roughly chopped
glug white wine
150ml fresh stock (turkey, ham or chicken)
50ml single cream
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
1tbsp Dijon mustard
100g leftover turkey, shredded
100g leftover ham, shredded
small bunch tarragon, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
100g block puff pastry, rolled thin and cut to fit the oven dish
1tbsp milk to brush pastry

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F.

Butter a medium-sized oven dish.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the leeks. Fry until soft and add the carrot. Now add the white wine and stock and turn up the heat so the alcohol in the wine burns off. Stir in the cream and the mustards. Allow to simmer for approx. 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced by 1/2.

Now add the shredded meats and warm through for a minute or two. Add the tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Be wary that the stock and meat will add their own saltiness. Pour the pie filling into the dish.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 3mm thick. Cut a little larger than the top of the oven dish and lightly place it on top of the filling. Lightly and evenly brush the pastry with milk and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. The pastry should be golden brown and puffy when you take it out.

Serve with blanched and buttered spring greens or leftover sprouts.

Boxing Day done.

Monday, December 19, 2011


There is very little I don't like about food. I eat most of it, grotty or not. But one thing that gets me goat is colourlessness; food which arrives monochrome on the plate. All that comes to cloud the mind is, well, beiiiige, and apart from last season's trench coat, it's not a colour which really lights me up.

Think of the joy when purple beetroot is layered with sweet potato in a gratin - it perks up the chicken rather a lot, don't you think? A bowl of porridge is just gruel to the beholder unless drizzled with a berry compote or a raisin or two. Brie is brie, but not with a dollop of quince jelly. I'm not saying chuck any old rainbow together - if the flavours work, it can make for instant brightness. Call it fussy...

So after all that, I seem to have called the kettle black with a recipe entirely made from beige. And even when - for my aesthetic OCD - I spooned a bit of red tomato jam next to it, I really wish I hadn't.

This is what I like to call the 'winter light box'. (Beige) Enoki mushrooms, (beige) jerusalem artichokes, (beige) fried shallots and(beige) puff pastry. There is no colour. But I love it.


serves 2


3 large new season jerusalem artichokes, finely sliced
1tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 sprigs thyme (plus more for last min seasoning)
salt and pepper (plus more for last min seasoning)
small block puff pastry
small knob salted butter
6 shallots, finely sliced
small bunch of enoki mushrooms (beautiful specimens)

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Scatter the artichoke slices in a roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil, the garlic, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes until the artichoke is soft and browning. When cooked, keep the oven on.

In a small saucepan, over a medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallots. Fry until soft and almost melting. Do not colour.

Scatter flour onto a surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick, in the shape of a rectangle. Score the pastry, an inch from the edge, so that you have an inner rectangle shape. Shift the pastry onto a lightly floured baking tray.

Layer the inner rectangle with the buttery shallots, the jerusalem artichokes and top with the enoki mushrooms. Season with salt and a final sprinkling of thyme. Place in the oven for approx. 10 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are puffed and golden.

Serve with its very beige self.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


For cold nights, tired heads, lazy bones and loved ones.


serves 4


2 tbsps sesame oil
4 small salmon fillets, skinned
generous pinch salt
4 handfuls flat rice noodles (roughly 75g each)
1 ltr chicken stock
3 tbsps fish sauce
3 tbsps light soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin rice wine
(keep bottles of sauce on standby just in case)
juice 1 lime
1 small red hot chilli, deseeded
thumb-size knob ginger, thinly sliced into batons
6 spring onions, sliced diagonally (extra for garnish optional)
small bunch sprouting broccoli, trimmed of leaves
large bunch pak choi, spinach or other greens
touch olive oil to fry salmon
bunch coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves left for garnish (optional)

In a bowl, coat the salmon fillets with sesame oil and a sprinkling of salt. Leave to sit for 20 minutes.

Rest the noodles in a bowl of boiling water and leave to soften for 30 minutes or as the packet suggests.

Heat the chicken stock in a large saucepan and bring up to a light simmer. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, mirin and lime juice and stir. Taste the broth, adding, if needed, more of each sauce. Fish for depth, soy for salt, mirin for sweetness and lime to cut through.

Add the chilli and ginger and simmer for a few minutes. Now add the greens - the onions, broccoli, pak choi and coriander stalks - and cook gently until the broccoli is just tender.

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and, when the oil starts to smoke slightly, add the salmon. Sear the salmon for 30 seconds on each side. Slice. The salmon should still be pink in the middle but warm.

Divide the noodles into deep bowls and ladle the soup over, dishing up equal portions of greens and chilli. Top with the seared salmon.

Garnish with the coriander leaves and the additional spring onion. For an extra bite beside the soup, or to start, serve with Bill's Thai fishcakes and sweet cucumber pickle.