Monday, 10 November 2014

Lemon pilau rice

Tim Rice, as part of the award-winning writing team with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was the one that didn't resemble Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars and the least tax-averse and also the one that wrote the words. He wrote lyrics for Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar. He's got fuck all to do with this recipe, other than being called Rice.

Cooking rice can be a regal pain in the arse to get right. You can use loads of water and drain it, but lose all the flavour of the tasty things you put in. The better way is to use just the right amount of water that gets soaked up and keeps all the tasty stuff on the rice, but it's hard to get the balance right between over-cooking and under-cooking.The proportion of water and rice in this recipe just about hits the right balance, though rice does vary, depending on the type and even between different batches of the same type.

INGREDIENTS
1 mug* of basmati rice
1 1/3 mugs of water 
juice and zest of 1 lemon
5 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1 bay leaf
5cm stick of cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 star of anise
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
Yeah, yeah. It's another picture of some spices. It's quite pretty. Get the fuck over it
From the top: lemon zest, bay leaf, fennel seeds, cinnamon, tumeric, star anise, cardamoms, cloves and salt in the middle

*The volume of water you need depends on the volume of rice you're using so it's easier to use the same container to measure both instead of weighing the rice

RECIPE
First it's a good idea to wash the rice to make it less stodgy when it's finished. Pour the rice into a big pan and fill the pan with water. Give it a swirl and drain out the water. Do this three more times, pouring the rice out into a sieve the final time.

Pour the oil into a heavy based pan and heat. Add the lemon zest and the spices and gently fry for a minute. Add the rinsed rice and stir until the all the rice grains look yellow. Add the water plus the lemon juice.

Heat gently until it boils then immediately turn down the heat as low as possible and cover tightly with the lid. Leave it for 20 minutes then turn off the heat completely.

When ready to serve, fluff up the rice. Before you do that though, it's not a bad idea to get rid of the whole spices that have floated to the top of the cooking rice. Nothing spoils a good curry more than lacerating the inside of your cheek on a sharp piece of cinnamon bark.

It depends on how big the mug is, but this makes plenty for two adults.


Yes, it's another blurred picture. I've got a crap phone but the rice does look nice and golden

NOTES

If you've done this right, the rice should be nice and fluffy and neither a sloppy, stodgy mess (overcooked) or like small pieces of grit (undercooked). If there is any left, it can be stored in the fridge for a day or frozen for longer, once it's cooled. When you do reheat it, make sure it's hotter than a bombardier beetle's arse after participating in a chilli eating competition the day before to kill off any nasty bugs. If it is a sloppy mess, it will be even worse the next day so better to throw it out, as nobody likes sloppy seconds.

Admit it, you never get phrases like "sloppy seconds" in any of Rick Stein's programmes

Monday, 3 November 2014

Butternut squash curry

Despite resembling a large, cream-coloured sex toy, the butternut squash is one of the most delicious vegetables you can get and it makes fucking great curries. This also means that, yes, I'm doing another vegetable dish. The Indian subcontinent provides some of the absolute best vegetarian cuisine in the world, which isn't too surprising given it's the place that Buddhism started. If there was stuff like this to eat all the time I could happily remain vegetarian for the rest of my life. Well, almost, until I start jonesing for pork scratchings, a juicy steak or even just some roast chicken flavoured crisps because sometimes a tub of fucking dhal just won't cut it.

INGREDIENTS

Spices for the curry
Clockwise from the leaf: Bay, cloves, cardamom, onion seeds, black pepper, coriander, mustard seed, salt, cinnamon and star anise in the middle

2 tbsp vegetables oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 star of whole anise
1 piece of cinnamon, about 4 cm
4 green cardamon pods
4 cloves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp onion seeds
1 bayleaf
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
half a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into big (2-4 cm) chunks
1 green pepper, in 1-2 cm dice
150 ml water
2tsp tomato puree

RECIPE
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and spices and stir fry until the onion is soft (5-10 minutes). Throw in the pepper and squash and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the water and tomato puree, cover and leave the curry to stew for 30-60 minutes, whenever the squash is tender.

This makes enough for two adults as an accompaniment, leaving enough for a lunch the next day. Serve it with rice and/or Indian bread, on its own or with other curries (like my profanity-laced chicken tikka curry)

Nothing says dinner like a pan full of curry, even a crap, blurred picture of one

NOTES
I did the recipe with butternut squash, but any other pumpkin-like vegetables will work, including pumpkin itself. Just the thing if you get pissed off with the enormous fucking mountain of pumpkin flesh you end up with at Hallowe'en when carving a lantern.

You would be right to anticipate that a recipe I do sometime following Hallowe'en will be some shit with pumpkin in it for this exact reason. Hey, this is Sweary Chef, not Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith or Genghis fucking Ramsay. I do the recipes I have the ingredients for at the time, take shit pictures on my phone then write them up, usually libelling, or else being generally unpleasant about other, more accomplished people in the process. I'm basically Fanny Cradock with a penis.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Sweary chicken tikka curry

Curry really is such a fucking woolly name for a dish. What does it actually mean? For example, you have your Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani from curry houses all over the UK which have become so very much part of the fabric of the UK that chicken tikka masala is, for all intents and purposes, our national dish. So much so, in fact, that former BNP leader and hypothyroid guppy-faced, racist cockwomble, Nick Griffin, apparently insists that his favourite food is actually that self same dish. Of course, most of us probably wouldn't have exactly the same culinary experience of dining in Indian restaurants that you might imagine Mr Griffin would get:

"Abdul, guess who'd just ordered chicken tikka masala!"
"Who?
"Only that twat from the BNP, Nick Griffin!"
"You'd better pass me my copy of Penthouse, then. We're all out of 'special sauce'"

The thing about South Asian curries is that they're all about dried spices. In contrast you  have Thai curries, which use fresh, aromatic flavours from herbs like lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves plus lots and lots of chilli. Then there are "curries" from other countries in SE Asia, from Japan, from parts of Africa, from the Caribbean. Yet the tagine I posted in this blog earlier on isn't a curry, though it has a lot of the same spice flavours. So, what about the celebrity chefs? Jamie Oliver, on the pay roll of Sainsbury's a few years ago, did an ad for the supermarket where he declared he was making a "Ruby" for his mates,before hopping onto his scooter to pick up the ingredients, the mockney wanker.

This recipe requires a lot of effort and takes frigging ages, but it is worth it.

INGREDIENTS
Chicken tikka
150g plain natural yoghurt
Piece of ginger (about the size of your thumb) coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
 Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp tandoori spice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1 green chilli, finely chopped
400g chicken, cubed

Curry sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 cm ginger (about a thumbsworth), finely chopped
4 green cardamom pods
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
stick of cinnamon (about 5cm)
2 or 3 fresh chillies
grate of nutmeg
2 tsp whole cumin
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp paprika
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tin of tomatoes
1 green pepper
2 tsp garam masala

RECIPE
First you need to prepare the chicken tikka marinade. Put the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar and pound them into a paste. Put the paste plus all the other ingredients, minus the chicken, into a dish and mix well. Add the chicken and make sure all the pieces are well covered by the marinade mixture. Cover, put the bowl in the fridge and leave it for at least three hours.

Marination

Have a beer or two while you wait, watch a film or do something else like have sex (with someone else or on your own, just don't forget to wash your hands afterwards).

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and add the marinated chicken. Fry it gently for 15-20 minutes until it's cooked. You could do this on a griddle pan, under a grill or even on a barbecue if you can be truly arsed. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep on the side on a plate


Spices
(from the leaf: bay, red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, cardamom pods, tumeric, cloves, fennel, black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon in the middle)
For the curry sauce, heat 2 tbsp oil in a nice, solid pan, and add the sliced onion, garlic and ginger. Fry them gently for a couple of minutes then add all the spices (and I know, there are shitloads), and fry for another 5-7 minutes while the onion gets nice and soft. Pour the tinned tomatoes into a blender then add the onion/spice mixture from the pan and liquidise to give a nice, smooth sauce.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan, add the chunky onion and fry for 7 minutes. Add the pepper and fry for another 5 minutes. Return the chicken (including any liquid that might have seeped out of the chicken) to the pan and mix well. Add the sauce from the blender. It might be pretty thick, so add a splash of water to the blender jug to get all the mixture into the pan.

Leave the curry to simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes then add the garam masala. Mix well and serve.

Apologies for the crap photo, but that's the curry with rice and squash curry
This makes plenty for two adults and is great with Indian bread, like naan, and/or rice (like my pilau to be posted soon) plus a vegetable accompaniment like the squash curry, also to be posted soon.

NOTES
As I said, this is quite a laboured task to do all the way through. You can cut the time down by doing away with the chicken tikka marination palava and frying up some chopped ginger and garlic with the tandoori spice and cooking the chicken in that as the first stage. To be honest, this is the way I usually cook this dish when I'm not pursuing my mission to bring the best recipes with the foulest language to the fucking masses.

It's a little known fact that the aforementioned guppy-faced racist cockwomble, Nick Griffin, actually has tried his hand at a cookery video blog of his own. I resent this, since I feel it's challenging my crown to be the most offensive food blog on the web. And no, I'm not posting a link to it and giving old endocrinologically-challenged-goldfish chops more traffic.

As I said above, this dish has more spices in it than you can shake a shitty stick at. You could buy branded spices in tiny jars by companies like Schwarz if you really like. However, they cost a fucking fortune. One alternative is supermarket own brand jars which are a lot cheaper. Better still, get spices from an Asian grocer or supermarket. They cost a lot less and come in much bigger packets. On the down side you need to get airtight containers to put them in.

This version wasn't especially hot with chilli, though it really needs a kick like a mule with a urinary tract infection to enjoy it's full potential.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Pineapple fried rice

Fucking grass! It's everywhere. You get it growing up through the cracks in your drive, sprouting in your flower beds and you keep having to mow the fucker every few days in the summer. Fucking annoying. On the other had, grass also provides most of the bulk calorific content for the diet of the majority of the human race. Wheat, barley, maize, oats, rye and especially rice all come from types of grass. Some people even drink grass juice, but they are fucking idiots falling for psuedoscientific bullshit. Well, that, or they are channeling Ermintrude from the Magic Roundabout.

Rice has been the major food source of a huge proportion of the world's population over the last few thousands of years. However, in the 1970s, rice in the house I grew up in was always bland American long grain rice from some company like Uncle Ben or Bachelors. By God, it was dull, tasteless and generally quit shit. It was akin to eating oily polystyrene chips. However, trust my parents to make a bland thing truly bad, they developed a concoction (I hesitate to call it a recipe) that had crap like chopped spam in it which tasted like death probably feels. I last had it maybe 35 years ago but it took until about 2006 until it stopped repeating on me whenever I burped. This almost put me off rice for ever. Then, later in life, I tried new varieties of rice. Rice that had taste and texture and was made into recipes containing any meat that you needed a tin opener to access. Pilau rice in Indian restaurants, egg fried rice in Chinese. Later on it was risotto, pilaf and paella. Truth be told, rice is a fantastic accompaniment to the right dish, as long as it's a decent quality rice used to start with. This means basmati for a curry or Thai jasmine rice for anything east of India.

Now, anyone reading my blog may have realised that I'm not especially arsed about how a dish looks. However, this recipe looks fucking great, served up in half a pineapple.

INGREDIENTS

200g rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil (not olive, it's too strongly flavoured)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 spring onions
5 large, raw prawns, chopped
1 pineapple, halved and flesh scooped out and chopped finely
1 egg, beaten
black pepper
splash of light soy sauce

RECIPE
Put the rice in a pan of water and bring it to the boil. Boil it for about 12-15 minutes (it needs to e firm or, if you're a foodie wanker, al dente). Drain it in a sieve and keep it on the side.

Add the oil to a wok (or frying pan if you prefer, it tastes the same). Put on the heat and once the oil is hot add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the prawns and the spring onion for about another minute (the raw prawn should change colour to a nice pink). Add the chopped pineapple then throw in the egg and stir it around so it makes a sort of scrambled mess with the other ingredients. Return the rice to the pan and stir it all up so everything gets mixed. Add the black pepper and the soy sauce and continue to mix until it's a consistent colour. Take the rice out of the pan and onto a plate it's almost time to serve it.

A few minutes before you want to serve dinner, put the oven on at 170°. When it's warm, remove the rice from the pan and pile it into the empty half pineapple. Cover the rice with foil and put the whole lot in the oven in an oven-proof dish. Heat it for 10-15 minutes.Take it out, remove the foil and serve.
This is a fantastic accompaniment to my baked fish recipe or anything vaguely East/southeast Asian.


NOTES
This is about as fucking close as you will get to a wanky dinner party dish in this blog. To be fair, if you made it this far, you probably realise that isn't really my style. Even I, though, have to admit that this does look quite impressive brought to the table in the pineapple. In fact you might find that your guests apparently gasp at the spectacle, but you can guarantee they are thinking "You pretentious fucking twat!". However, if they aren't, and they actually are genuinely impressed by some rice in half a pineapple you need to get new friends since, if you're like me, you're only serving it like that because it saves on the washing up.

Rice is a great foodstuff: cheap, fairly easy to cook and quick to prepare. However, as a rule of thumb, avoid buying the shit they sell in the supermarket in 500g or 1kg packets. Either it's going to be cheap, which will mean it's of crap quality (see above about American long grain rice), or else it's grossly overpriced. The best place to buy rice is a Chinese or other Asian supermarket, and in as big a pack as you can afford/store. It costs more to buy the pack but per kg it's much cheaper. Also, it lasts for ages. I am a bit of a foodie wanker, but I buy Thai fragrant rice by the 5kg sack. It's better quality, costs about a third of the price per kg as a small pack in Tesco's and lasts for literally months. Having said this, the local demographic in your area may dictate that your local supermarket does stock decent Asian rice in big quantities, so have a look.

Tim Rice, you got away without being in the blog... this time

Baked sea bream with chilli, lime, ginger and spring onion with pineapple sambal


The career of Richard Curtis has covered writing Blackadder, Mr Bean and any unfunny "rom-com" starring Hugh Grant made over what seems like the last couple of hundred pissing years. He has truly covered the gamut from the the sublime to the ridiculous followed by the bag of utter shite. In addition to this, or perhaps as a result of it, a few years ago he decided he'd not made quite enough money, so was taken on by the new owners of the Oxo brand (at that time, Campbell's) to write their adverts. One of the TV ads he was supposedly involved in the writing of had the mother of the now postmodern (and post-Lynda Bellingham "classic") Oxo family telling her soon-to-be wedded daughter to crumble a chicken Oxo cube over a chicken before putting it in the oven because "it makes it taste really chickeny". Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but doesn't something become chickeny when it tastes of chicken? I mean, a chicken can't actually taste any more "chickeny" than it already is since it is literally already as chickeny as anything can be, given the fact that it's actually made of fucking chicken. Frigging genius! Until a few years ago I would have said it was a more ridiculous premise than upper class twit, Hugh fucking Grant, being the British PM. This was before 2010, though, when David cunting Cameron managed to scrape his way into power showing truth is in fact just as fucked up as fiction.

Anyway, there is relevance to this preamble. The point is that, although "chickeny" is a good thing if it's describing how your chicken tastes, "fishy" is not necessarily a good thing to describe the taste and smell of fish. Fishiness in fish generally means it's not fresh and that you're fishmonger is taking the piss. Actually, taking the piss is quite appropriate because fishiness in fish arises through degradation of urea, the major nitrogenous component of urine in mammals, which is taste- and odourless until it's acted upon by bacteria when fish goes off.

Of course, being an island nation with our proud maritime history, we Brits love our fish. As long as the fucker is cod or haddock, comes coated in fucking batter and is served with fucking chips. In fairness, fish and chips is a wonderful dish, especially with curry sauce, mushy peas and plenty of salt, vinegar and ketchup, but then we're back to the British obsession with fucking chips (see previous blog entry on potato wedges).

The thing is, despite being surrounded by water, it seems like we can't get decent fish easily. That, and the fact that again, a lot of people say they don't like fish ("eurrgh, it's fishy!"). But, a trip to any decent sized supermarket will reveal a fish counter with some decent offerings. Just make sure they're fresh. Not wanting to sound like regular blog guest star, Rick fucking Stein, but they should have clear eyes and smell of the sea, not of "fish".

This way of cooking fish is easy and tastes great. It keeps the subtle flavour and ensures the fish stays moist. It's based on south east Asian  recipes from places like Indonesia, Malaysia and Hunan in S China. The sambal goes really well with it (riding rough-shod over my previous rant about how fruit doesn't belong in savoury dishes).


INGREDIENTS
For the fish
1 decent-sized, whole sea bream (about 300-400g was enough for two)
Splash of olive or other vegetable oil
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 piece of fresh ginger, about 2cm cubed in size, chopped into fine matchstick-sized pieces
Zest of 1 lime plus half of its juice
Black pepper
Salt

For the sambal

1/2 medium sized onion, coarsely chopped
2 cm piece of ginger, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
The other half of the juice of the lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
flesh of half a pineapple chopped into smallish chunks
1 spring onion, coarsely chopped


Makes enough for two people. Serve it with rice, especially my recipe for pineapple rice which is the next entry of this blog, which it goes with especially well.

RECIPE
For the fish
Pre-heat the oven to 180. Take a piece of foil about three times the length of the fish (enough to put the fish on and fold over to make a cavity with plenty of space for the flavours to mingle). Smear the area you're going to put the fish on with oil. Dry the fish with kitchen roll, inside and out, and place it on the oiled part. Make three deep cuts into the body of the fish.  Mix the other ingredients for the fish in a bowl and scatter them over the top and into the cavity.

California breamingReady to go in the oven
Pour on the lime juice then fold over the foil and scrunch it up to seal it, leaving plenty of space for steam to surround the fish. Place it on a baking sheet and put it into the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.



For the sambal
Put the onion, ginger and garlic into a mortar and pound it to a fine paste with the pestle.  Heat the oil in a pan and add the paste. Fry it until it's cooked and add the chilli, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. Once it's bubbling, add the pineapple and the spring onion and allow it to warm through.

Pineapple sambal

Serve the fish whole so people can get freaked out by their dinner looking at them.



NOTES
A sambal is the Indonesian equivalent of a salsa.

The fish ought to come prepared (ie be gutted and cleaned). If it isn't, you could do it yourself, but that is a bit of a pain in the arse. so ask the person behind the counter what the fuck they think they are doing for a living and get them to do it for you. Following that, feel free to walk away from the fish counter mumbling how you can't get the fucking staff these days and how they will be bally well horsewhipped when you become prime minister

I did this with sea bream, which is a fantastic fish, but sea bass would also work as would snapper or tilapia. One of the best things about a whole fish is the fun in dissecting it to get every last morsel of flesh, including around the head where some of the sweetest meat actually is. It also really grosses out some people. Fish head curry is actually a well known (and fucking delicious) dish in Singapore.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Pollo Español (Spanish chicken)

There is a long relationship between Britain and Spain. However, the traditional British image of Spain is quite lopsided and very different to the reality. It's Manuel from Fawlty Towers (as portrayed by a Jewish Englishman). It's colonies of retired middle-Englanders who want warm weather, bingo and the Daily Mail. It's holidays on the Med. It's places you can get egg and chips and a pot of sodding Tetley's or a pint of pissing Tetley's any time of day, where you can buy a souvenir straw donkey that disintegrates into razor-sharp fragments that are just the right size to lodge in a toddler's windpipe as soon as it encounters the British climate. It's Torremo-fucking-linos, Costa del-shitting Sol, Beni-cunting-dorm.Yes, this is a seriously fucking skewed image of what is actually a magnificent and varied country.

Salvador Dali's The Great Masturbator
Well, this is a blog written by a massive pretentious wanker

OK, from that opening paragraph, two things are plainly obvious. 1: I'm an insufferable snobby and arrogant prick as far as travel is concerned and 2: I absolutely fucking love Spain. I love the food, the wine, the people, the lifestyle, the climate, even the language. Their beer's not all that, but, hey, nowhere's perfect. Besides, since this is also the place that gave the world Velazquez, Dali, Picasso, Miro, Gaudi, Cervantes, Almodavar I can let them off that. Anyway, since this is a food blog, let's concentrate on that aspect of Spanish life. Spanish food is hugely varied from region to region but is crystallised in one thing: tapas. Plates of food you get in a bar when you order drinks. Often they're even fucking free! And it's not even crap food, either. It's usually things like jamon iberico, chorizo, seafood morsels, portions of hearty stew, paella. FREE! And the ingredients are so fucking fresh. It's all about meat with real flavour and vibrant vegetables. You can actually taste the sun in this food. It's like felching a star. Seriously, what's not to love about a country who approaches food like that?

That brings me onto this recipe. It's yet another quick and cheap meal that tastes frigging great. In reality it's a pretty pale imitation of a genuine Spanish stew like carcamusas*. For a start it's got tinned tomatoes, the peppers are most likely to be from Holland or Morocco, the onion is British. The chorizo is probably Spanish, mind. On the other hand, while it's a diluted version, it still tastes very much of Spain though.

TIMING
Preparation: 10-15 minutes
Cooking: around 90 minutes in total

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
500g chicken fillet, cubed
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
100g chorizo, chopped
1 sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow), chopped
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch dried thyme
Black pepper to taste.
150 ml dry sherry
juice of half a lemon (or 1tbsp of bottled stuff)
1 tsp sugar

RECIPE

Onions, garlic, pepper and chorizo frying in olive oil

Heat the oil and add the chicken to seal and gain a little colour.

After about 5 minutes, remove it with a slotted spoon and add the onion and garlic to the remaining oil and fry gently for 5-7 minutes until the onion is softened.

Add the chorizo and fry for another of couple of minutes.

Throw in the pepper and fry up for another two minutes before adding the tomatoes.

Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the tomato puree, paprika, thyme and pepper.

Leave to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Add the sherry and lemon juice and stew for 30-60 minutes, at least until the chicken is cooked. Taste and add the sugar if necessary (it's to offset the sourness of the lemon juice).

Add salt if required.

Works well with fresh bread and sauté potatoes, especially if you tart them up with a bit of rosemary and salt.

The stew ready to serve

NOTES
*Carcamusas is a stew of pork in tomatoes which is from the city of Toledo. That's a sweary blog to come.

By sherry I mean a manzanillo or fino. It has to be dry and pale. Not QC, not "medium" and definitely not Harvey's fucking Bristol cream. This is not the same drink associated with the WI. Real sherry is a wonderful, crisp drink that is a great aperitif or actually goes well with the dish instead of a regular white wine.

For something that's essentially just a fancy sausage, chorizo is one of the most fantastic ingredients in savoury cooking. It makes almost anything taste fucking great.

While the recipe above works all year round, you could make it that much more authentic at the height of summer with ripe, fresh tomatoes, fresh thyme and better quality peppers.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pasta Arrabiata

There are few dishes that are truly as easy to make, as cheap or as utterly fucking delicious as this little gem. You could buy a jar of factory-made pasta sauce, but you'd be frigging stupid when this will take probably just as long and tastes infinitely better. It's really like the difference between Corn Flakes from Kellogg's and corn flakes from a chiropodist.

In our house we call this recipe "bacony thing" for some historic reason we can't remember. It is probably the stupidest name for a meal there has ever been, but it's ours. This is especially the case because, in many restaurants, arrabiata is made as just a spicy tomato sauce without the bacon (or in some cases the bacon is replaced by salami or even chorizo). There would be other differences between "bacony thing" and "arrabiata" on a menu, most obviously about ten quid a fucking portion as a second language supplement, because anything in a foreign language costs more.

Naming issues aside, I started making this many years ago when I was a student. A wanky, pretentious student with a foul mouth so, obviously, I've changed in the intervening time: I'm no longer a student. Yet, I still come back to this fantastic dish. It's a family staple which we have every week. It's usually the first thing we make when we have our first dinner after coming back from holiday. I got the idea of this from a recipe book I purloined from my Dad before I went to university. That recipe is called penne arrabiata, meaning angry (pasta) quills.

Funnily enough, in Italian, spelling penne with one fewer "n" apparently means penis. Pene arrabiata is therefore "angry penis". This makes me think of Noel Edmonds getting upset and stamping on the pavement after receiving a parking ticket. Why is he called "Noel"? Because there's no "L" in "smug, hideous shirt-wearing, bearded prick"

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed (or more, you can't put too much garlic in this dish)
220g smoked bacon, finely chopped (an odd quantity, I admit, but that's how they package it)
1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
1 tin tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
Black pepper
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 tsp mixed herbs (dried work, but fresh are better if they are available)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Bacony ingredients
The bacon, finely chopped along with the fresh vegetables. Note the fresh thyme on the plate

RECIPE
Pour the oil in a pan and heat before adding the onion and garlic. Fry for 5 minutes until translucent then add the bacon and continue to fry until that's cooked. Throw in the pepper and fry for another minute or so. Pour in the tomatoes, add the puree and stir well. Grind in plenty of black pepper, add the chilli, the herbs and bay leaf then pour in the balsamic vinegar and stir well. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 30-60 minutes. You may need to reduce the liquid in the pan if it's especially runny.
Bacony thing in pan 1
How it looks when it's finished
Note bay leaf

 Serve it over pasta with bread on the side to mop up the sauce

NOTES
The recipe I developed this from didn't have red pepper in it but it bulks out the dish and works well. It needs to be fairly finely chopped like the other ingredients to make a smoother pasta sauce.

As I mentioned above, this recipe can be made without bacon for an even cheaper, vegetarian/vegan version which is still better than some ready-made crap you can buy in a jar.

Unlike most of my previous entries, whilst containing chilli, it's only there to add a slight kick. It does need shitloads of garlic though. It can't really have too much garlic.

While the original recipe was penne, virtually any type of pasta would do: spaghetti, fusilli,even tagliatelli. You'd probably be best drawing the line at tinned ravioli, mind.

Steak night! Peppered steak, potato wedges and the trimmings



Vegetarians might be advised to skip over this entry, though the wedges will go with anything.

Former Smiths front-man, longstanding vegetarian and twat*, Morrissey, stopped a festival show at Coachella, California in 2009 because he said "the smell of burning flesh is making me sick". Personally, I find the smell of burning flesh generally makes me feel fucking hungry rather than nauseous and it doesn't get any more orexigenic than the smell of searing steak. A good piece of steak really doesn't need much more than seasoning to make it fantastic. However, thanks to the queen of TV chefs and the GILF of modern cuisine, Delia Smith, this recipe makes a good thing great. Of course, this recipe was taken from a more innocent time when when the fondu set was the height of sophistication, Vesta curries were regarded as exotic food/foreign muck (depending on your POV) and Delia herself was such a young slip of a girl, she was a merely a MILF (do I need to put a link in for this, after the one for GILF? Isn't it fucking obvious?) and I have updated it a little. It was also before this happened:



Fucking chips! As Kevin Kline's character said in A Fish Called Wanda: "the English contribution to world cuisine: the chip". Go to any regular/"family" pub and whatever you order will be served with fucking chips. You can have shepherd's pie which is generously topped with mashed potato and they still serve that with fucking chips. Even, in the north of England, if you sample some of the delights of exotic oriental cuisine you get them with fucking chips. Lamb shish kebab WITH FUCKING CHIPS! Chicken tikka masala WITH FUCKING CHIPS! Sweet and sour fucking chicken WITH FUCKING CHIPS! The humble and overworked chip does have a time and a place, however. There is little better than enjoying good fish and chips on a windy seafront, or a tray of chips slathered in gravy as you walk down the street. More relevantly, a great steak is so much better when it's got a side order of chips. As anyone will tell you, real chips are hand cut and deep fried which is a bit awkward since deep frying is a regal pain in the arse. Also, as much as I loath to bring healthy eating into this blog, real chips are relatively high in fat. A great alternative is this recipe for potato wedges which are baked with a generous covering of oil and turn out like a cross between baked potatoes and deep-fried chunky chips.

*Just to be clear, these two qualities are not in any way related. I have many family members and friends that I love dearly who are vegetarian - indeed, I was vegetarian myself for a short while as a student - and many meat eaters who are such twats I wouldn't waste a full bladder on in the vanishingly remote possibility that it might prevent their nasty and painful death from spontaneous human combustion.

INGREDIENTS
Steak
2 steaks (personally I like ribeye or sirloin, but rump is also great)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp black pepper corns
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
Dash Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp English mustard
Salt
Half a glass of red wine (about 100ml)

Wedges
500g potatoes, washed but not peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch mixed herbs
A good pinch of salt (to taste)
Lots of black pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Trimmings
2 big portobello mushrooms, whole (you could use big field mushrooms or a few regular small mushrooms)
1 onion, sliced

Tomatoes (depends on size, but 1 medium one each or more if they are smaller)

RECIPE
Crack the black peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Alternatively, if you're not as big of a foodie wanker as me, you can put them in a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin for the same effect. Add these to a large, flat dish (big enough to lay both steaks down flat) and pour in the olive oil, garlic, Tabasco and mustard then mix. Place the steaks into the mixture and turn them over in order to give both a nice coating of pepper. Repeat a few times until they are both well studded with the peppercorn fragments. Cover the dish with clingfilm and leave on the side for at least an hour or two before you want to cook them. It is important that they are left at room temperature.

Steaks marinating



For the wedges, cut the potatoes lengthwise into thick chunks, or wedges, and dry them with kitchen roll. Throw them into a roasting dish and sprinkle on the rest of the ingredients. Toss the wedges so they all get an even coating of the mixture. Preheat an oven to 180 and put the wedges in for 45 minutes, turning them half way through. At the same time as putting the wedges in the oven, put the tomatoes in a shallow ovenproof dish and put them in the oven at the same time. As an alternative, you could actually just griddle the tomatoes at the same time as the steak but roasted tomatoes have so much more intense and concentrated flavour.

Potato wedges before cooking

Potato wedges cooked and ready to serve

Add a little oil to a frying or a griddle pan and fry the onions, long and slow, (OK, 5-10 minutes, so not that slow) on a fairly low heat. If they get too dry, add a splash of water to keep them moist. Add the mushrooms and fry them gently on either side along with the onion. When they're done, remove them and keep them on the side.

A good couple of minutes before it's time to cook the steaks, stick the same pan on to heat. Once it's nice and hot, throw on one of the slabs of meat. There is no need to add oil to the pan because the steaks are already oiled from the marination. Obviously, cooking steak depends a lot on how you like them between rare to crucified (and if it has to be very well done you have no business reading a food blog you fucking philistine), and how thick they are, so this step is about trial an error. Pressing the steak will give you an idea: the softer, the less done. As a rough guide 2-3 minutes per side will make it rare, 5 minutes for medium. Any more than that and I'll deal with you later, see below.

When cooked to your required level of doneness, put the steaks on their serving plates and leave to rest for a few minutes, adding a little salt to both after a minute or two. Meanwhile, turn down the heat on the hob and return the mushrooms and onions to the pan for a minute or two then throw in the red wine to wash out the pan. plate up the mushroom and pour the rest of the pan's contents onto the steaks. Serve up the wedges and tomatoes and eat, washed down with the rest of the red wine.


Steak night! All ready to eat

NOTES
Steak is truly wonderful, but only if it's not overcooked. Personally, my instructions for a perfectly done steak are "wipe its arse and walk it onto the plate", or "blue" if I'm in a restaurant amongst polite company. However, if the steak is taken out of the fridge just before it's cooked, rather than being cooked from room temperature, a blue steak will be cold in the middle (hence the point of stating the marinating steaks are not put back in the fridge). The steak must be at least as warm as it was when the animal was slaughtered, in my opinion. However, blue isn't for everyone but it should be at least pink in the middle (little more than medium-rare). If you like your steak well done, remember that a cow died to give you this piece of itself. It deserves to be treated properly. It needs to be trans-substantiated so it can gambol on your tongue for one last time in the succulent juices of your steak. If there are no juices this isn't going to happen and that herbivore will have chewed it's last cud in vain. Worse still, it will probably be tough as shoe leather and taste like shite.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Orange-fragranced couscous

Couscous is the New York of starchy meal bulkers: so good they named it twice. Before the British public became all up to date on their international foods, if you asked the man in the street what it was, he might have thought couscous was some horrendous tropical disease, up there with dengue, ebola or gonorrhoea contracted from a kathoey you picked up in a bar in Pattaya. Now, of course, it's common knowledge that it's the stuff that's a bit like rice that they have in Morocco. It's the height of sophistication, Mockney wanker Jamie Oliver uses it because it's "pukka" (whatever the fuck that means). It's made of wheat. If you were a foodie wanker, in fact, you could say couscous was deconstructed pasta or pasta not yet constructed. It's so fucking exotic! It's semolina made from durum wheat. Hang on a minute, but isn't semolina that gruel-like stuff they used to serve for dessert in school dinners in that dazzlingly day-glo pink sauce? Oh, yeah. So it is. Shows you, repackage any old bollocks and you can make a fortune.

Anyway, that reminds me of a joke. What is the Pink Panther's favourite type of wheat? Durum, Durum, Durum-Durum-Durum-Durum. OK, that works better if you say it out loud and you know this tune

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
5 cherry tomatoes (or about 100g regular sized), skinned and chopped
handful of green olives, sliced
pinch of saffron
pepper
salt
1 mug of dry couscous (see instructions, but should be about 125g for two people)
1 mug of boiling water

RECIPE
In a shallow pan, heat the oil and fry up the onion and garlic on a medium to low heat until soft.

Add the celery and pepper and continue to fry for another couple of minutes until they are also soft.

For the saffron and orange zest, put it in a cup and add about a tablespoon of boiling water and let it steep for a couple of minutes.

Add this to the pan along with salt and pepper to taste.

Throw in the chopped olives, tomatoes and pour in the couscous.

Stir well so all the grains of couscous get a good coating of oil. Pour this mixture into an oven or microwave-proof dish.

Next add the boiling water and orange juice. The total volume you add needs to be the same as the volume of the couscous added, so add the orange juice to a cup then makeup the volume with the boiling water.

Mix well, cover as tightly as possible and put in an oven for 5-10 minutes if you happen to have something in it (such as the previously posted recipe of lamb tagine) or else, stick it in the microwave for about a minute then leave to stand for another two or three.

NOTES
This dish is a great accompaniment to Moroccan food such as my lamb tagine, but it can work as a meal in its own right, especially if you add a few more vegetables. Also, it's got no meat in it

There's none of this "boiling for a few minutes" bollocks with your couscous. Oh no. Just add boiling water, let it soak in and it's pretty much cooked.


I said it above and I'll say it again. It's made of wheat. There's a big, faddy movement against wheat in some circles, especially in the fitness business. Wheat is often portrayed as the most evil foodstuff in the larder, responsible for many of the dietary ills of modern life. Probably the most vocal of these critics are those selling the Paleolithic Diet. Proponents of the Paleo diet believe that we should be eating only food that cave-people ate before the dawn of organised agriculture because it is is what we evolved to eat. This is the cuisine of Luddites. These people really are drawing the fun out of food. They are the Jimmy Savile presenting a really good episode of Top of the Pops 2 of the food world. No pasta, no couscous, no bread, no beer and absolutely no scientific basis for the whole Paleo dietary movement. If, however, you do want to make a Paleo version of this dish, simply substitute the couscous for shredded sabretooth tiger.

Sorry for no pictures in this recipe. I shall take some next time I do this recipe and post them as an update.

Lamb Tagine


Eat tagine and you too could look like this.
Morocco Mole, popular sidekick of Secret Squirrel and also the first indication you've got malignant melanoma after spending too long in the sun in Marrakech

You can't do any recipe of North Africa or the Eastern Mediterranean without mentioning the name of arguably the most trendy cook of the moment, Yotam Ottolenghi. He has a reputation for delicious food which is simple and rustic. However, he also has a tendency to use authentic ingredients in his recipes which, although they may be common in a souk in Tripoli, are not so easy to come by in the UK outside of a few small, wanky, over-priced delis in Notting Hill. For example, you have more likelihood finding a 70s male celebrity without a sex-pest-shaped skeleton in his closet than finding freeze-dried organic gerbil spleens down your local Co-Op. Anyway, I've mentioned him now, so onto my own recipe for lamb tagine.

A tagine is the name of the cooking pot which is essentially a glorified casserole dish with a lid shaped like a slightly squashed witch's hat. The dishes that take their name from the pot are usually mildly spiced stews that are cooked long and slow. This is actually doing an entire cuisine a huge disservice since, if cooked well, Moroccan food is fucking fantastic.

As well as being famous for its subtle, aromatic, spicy flavours, Moroccan food also uses a lot of dried fruit. Now, forgive me for riding rough-shod over centuries of culinary culture, but I largely think that dried fruit has as much place in a savoury dish as Clostridium botulinum. This goes doubly for dried apricots which, though commonly used in Morrocan tagines, are the dessicated haemorrhoids excised from the infernal arseholes of the devil's own herd of Apocalyptic wombats, in my opinion. I mean, if you want to add fruit, why not go the whole hog and stick in a packet of Fruit Pastels while you're at it and maybe serve it up with custard?

Anyway, the upshot of this preamble of dissing the Yot and admitting how much I despise dried fruit in main courses means this recipe is about as authentically Moroccan as a fez made from polyvinylchloride in Taiwan and purchased on Blackpool seafront. You want authenticity, piss off to Agadir and eat there. Meanwhile, this recipe tastes fucking great and it's well worth the time and effort to make it.

INGREDIENTS
2tbsp olive oil
500g cubed lamb
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
100g mushrooms sliced
2 preserved lemons,
150g fresh tomatoes, peeled then halved
2tsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
10cm cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
pinch of saffron
vegetable stock cube
500ml water
1 red pepper chopped into sticks
1 courgette cut into sticks

Spice: the final frontier

RECIPE
Heat the olive oil in a hob- and oven-proof casserole dish and fry the meat to seal it. Remove it with a slotted spoon and add the onions to remaining oil to soften. Add the spices and garlic for about a minute, mixing to make sure they don't stick to the dish. Throw in the mushrooms and fry for another couple of minutes.

Add a little of the water to a cup and mix up the stock cube.

For the preserved lemons, cut them in two and scoop out the middle with a spoon. Discard the flesh and finely chop the skins.

Return the lamb to the dish and add the preserved lemons, tomatoes, water and the stock cube mix. Bring to the boil, mix well then layer the pepper and courgette on top of the rest of the stew. This means that the vegetables steam rather than boil and totally disintegrate over the long, slow cook.

Cover and put into the oven at 145°C for 2-3 hours



Tagine ready to go in the oven
Note the vegetables layered on the stew. Also note this is a Pyrex casserole dish and not an actual tagine pot. I'm not that much of a foodie wanker

This serves two people easily. Dish it up with rice, bread or couscous, like the recipe I'm writing next  for orange couscous.


NOTES
Preserved lemons are available from supermarkets. They are not the same as fresh lemons. They look like this:



You could put any combination of vegetables in this. Well, OK, not any combination. Lettuce would be a mistake, for example and cabbage would be a bad idea (cabbage is actually generally a bad idea in any situation, to be fair). However, carrots work well, as does aubergine, green beans or squash.

In best Rick Stein style, I could twat on about how I tasted something like this recipe, as cooked over a bottled gas stove in individual pots, in some street-side cafe in Marrakech a few years back. A place which had a spice shop round the back where I bought a large bag of saffron at a really good price, but that's really not the fucking point of this blog, is it?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Shepherd's Pie with garlic and rosemary mash topping


To paraphrase erstwhile football hooligan and current market gardener-cum-podgy, cheekie-chappy-apples-and-fackin'-pears Masterchef judge, Greg Wallace, "food don't come any more rustic than this!". I mean, how could it? It's named after someone who raises sheep for a living; who smells of lanolin and moss on a daily basis and for whom ticks are sexually transmitted.

Of course, the dish is also a British classic and piece of piss to make, as well as being cheap. That's probably why it's popular in pubs because they're often too tight to invest in the pricier ingredients needed to make better quality food and or invest in culinary training of their staff. Of course, in most good old British pubs, it's often a second rate version of the dish, as cooked on an industrial scale by some big catering multinational. The meat will be mechanically recovered; comprised mainly of lips and assholes; and probably not entirely ovine in origin, such that it could legitimately be called "jockey's pie". Saying that, industrially-produced shepherd's pie is an ideal accompaniment for that great British beer, Carlsberg, as brewed under licence in the UK in some massive industrial scale plant in the middle of fucking Wales. Food don't come any less rustic than that.

This version is easy and so much better than some crap from the freezer or chiller counter at your local supermarket.
Serve with vegetables and you can feed four adults

500g minced lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1stick of celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
250g mushrooms, chopped
half a tin of tomatoes
200ml water
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 bay leaf
sprig of fresh thyme
1tsp mint sauce
black pepper
1 tbsp Worcester sauce

500g potatoes. peeled and cut into chunks
Leaves of a sprig of fresh rosemary,finely chopped (around 1-2 tsp)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Splash of milk
ground paprika

Fry the mince in a pan, pour it into a sieve and drain off the fat. Lamb really is fatty so there will be shitloads of grease in the sink. Add oil to the pan and add onion and garlic. After a couple of minutes, when the onion starts to go translucent, add the celery and carrot. Sweat for 10 minutes then add the mushrooms. Continue to fry (or sauté if you prefer foodie wanker terminology).
for another couple of minutes then add the tomatoes and water. Crumble in the stock cube and add the tomato puree. Add the thyme (strip the leaves into the pot), bay leaf, pepper, mint sauce and Worcester sauce. Stir well and leave the lot to stew for an hour.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes for 20 minutes or so. While these are boiling, fry up the garlic and rosemary in a couple of teaspoons of the olive oil. Drain the spuds and put them back in the pan. Start mashing them. Add milk and olive oil, salt, pepper and the rosemary and garlic and continue to mash. If you're feeling energetic, use a whisk as the texture gets smoother to get rid of lumps.

Add the mince mixture to a casserole dish and spoon on the mash so you cover the top of the meat. A this stage some of the TV chefs would probably tell you to pipe the mash onto the meat because it looks nice. Personally I'd say fuck that for a game of soldiers as it all goes down the same way. Just smooth it so it makes a single layer without any gaps. If you want to be vaguely poncey you can do that fork thing to make little peaks and sprinkle on a bit paprika to make it look poncier still. Bake in the oven at 160 for 45 minutes so you get a nice crispy skin on the mash.

Pie ready to go in the oven.
Calpol is optional


NOTES
As I mentioned for other recipes, replacing the water with red wine makes the meal tastier. This is all well and good, but if I open a bottle of wine I want to drink it and not put it in my dinner.

Like most good cookery pundits, no recipe would be complete without some advice on what to ask from your butcher. Ask you butcher to ask the abattoir worker to give the sheep that is to become your mince a damn good shagging because it really makes the meat tender. Actually, that's not strictly true, since mince doesn't need tenderising, but it's nice to try to brighten the day of someone who kills animals for a living.



Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Courgette in tomato

What can you say about courgettes? They're green and phallic, like a verdant winky, disembodied from its Martian owner in some horrendous intergalactic Bobbit incident. They're small marrows with a French name, except in the USA and Italy where they call them zucchinis. They are also quite tasty.



After an opening salvo of dishes which are New World, in-your-face, chilli-laced and full of dead animals to start the blog, this is a simple, fresh, vegetarian dish that works as a side dish as one of the two veg of a Sunday roast dinner or on its own as a pasta sauce. It's the sort of recipe that Rick Stein would twat on about in a flowery manner, relating how he had seen it made from vegetables fresh from Monet's garden by some elderly matriarch in Provence one year when he was a student. It's at  that stage in his programme when you're screaming at the telly "Just shut up and cook the fucking recipe, you pretentious prick!". I got my courgettes from Sainsbury's.

INGREDIENTS
1 medium courgette: topped, tailed and sliced
Half a red onion, finely choppped
Two cloves of garlic, crushed
Half a tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp or more olive oil*
Pinch of Salt
Black pepper
Small bunch of fresh oregano, finely chopped (or a pinch of dried)

RECIPE
Pour the oil in a pan and heat. Fry (or sautee if you're of the foody wanker persuasion) the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent, about a couple of minutes.

Throw in the courgette and fry for another 10 minutes until they start to get tender.

Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano and salt and pepper.

Let it stew for 30 minutes or so, until the courgettes are cooked, and serve.

NOTES
You could pep up the dish by adding a splash of lemon juice but taste before serving as it might need some sugar to offset the tartness. Also, like any dish, this would be improved by a good slug of white wine.

Herbs
Oregano goes well with tomato, but you could use thyme. 

*This is what Nigel Slater might call "a glug". Now, I'm not aware in which system of mensuration (no, not that)  the "glug" is a unit. Presumably it's from the same descriptive system as "a tit of milk", "a turd of mashed potato" and "a fart of lettuce". Whatever, it's definitely not an SI unit. This is in contrast to the "slug", as mentioned for wine above, which is (SI standing for "Sweary Implementation" in this case).

Monday, 25 August 2014

Mince Wonder 1: Chilli con Motherfucking Carne

You've never had chilli like this.

The name literally means "chilli with meat" which sounds about as appealing as sex with William Hague while your Mum watches. On the other hand, put an exotic spin on the most mundane dish and it will sound so much more vibrant. Carne y dos verduras sounds a lot more interesting than meat and two veg, alternative name for male genitalia not withstanding. You could say, maintaining the same comparison and in keeping with the Latino theme, "chilli con carne" sounds as appealing as sex with Jennifer Lopez. Anyway, literal meaning aside, my version of chilli con carne has grown and evolved over years to become the masterpiece it is now and would be my signature dish if I were running a restaurant.

It's a little known fact that chilli con carne isn't actually a true Mexican dish, but Tex-Mex, which is a bastardised version or, as some twatty restuarants bill themselves, a "fusion" (to-MAY-to/to-MAR-to) of Mexican food with that from north of the Rio Grande. This is because it contains meat and a significant tendency to increase your BMI to morbid obesity levels. Your average Mexican peasant couldn't afford meat and carrying an additional few stone of adipose tissue doesn't help with tilling the fields. It also generally contains fewer pulses so is also less likely to have the effect of making your friends avoid standing downwind or sharing a lift with you after a meal of this cuisine, though not so much in this instance. Since this is a bastardised cuisine I don't see any need to stick to authentically New World ingredients so this recipe includes Bisto, British beer, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.


This is enough to make 4 or 5 adult-sized portions

INGREDIENTS
500g beef mince (low fat if you're a ponce like me)
1 tin of tomatoes
250 ml beer (good, dark British ale. Not pissy lager, not even Mexican)
1 tbsp Bisto powder or similar (see notes)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1tbsp tomato puree
2 big tsp whole cumin seeds
2 big tsp oregano
2 big tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
½ tbsp tomato ketchup
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
One large red and one large green pepper, or combination of colours if they're smaller chopped chunkily (yeah, I just made that word up, but you know what it means so get over it or fuck off)
2 or more fresh chillies (see later), finely chopped including seeds
Tin of kidney beans (See notes below)
Balsamic vinegar
Dark soy sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
A small piece of your immortal soul (optional, but don't expect your chilli to be truly great without it)

TIMING
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: Upwards of 2 hours


RECIPE
Brown your meat. No, that's not a euphemism, I mean stick the mince in a pan on the hob and heat it until it's cooked. Drain off the fat in a sieve. Tip it back in the pan and add the tomatoes plus half the beer and bring to a gentle boil.

Mix up the Bisto in a cup with a little remaining beer to make a slurry and pour it in and stir well. Add the onion (uncooked) and stir in the tomato puree. Add the spices and the stock cube and mix in well, adding the rest of the beer.


 The spices
From 11 o'clock: cumin seeds, coriander, smoked paprika and oregano

In a separate pan, fry the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or so and stir into the mixture. Add the peppers, chillies, beans and two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, then let it stew on a low heat for at least an hour and a half, enough time for the onion to become transparent and peppers to become tender.

Taste it (the chilli, not the vinegar, you fuckwit). It should have a good balance of sweetness and tang so you can add a drop more balsamic or Worcester if necessary. Also, if it seems a bit wishy-washy (similar, I would imagine, to the aforementioned sex with William Hague, though far less unarousing) add a splash of soy sauce to give the whole stew more umami, the meaty flavour that is the recently discovered companion to salt, sweet, sour and bitter sensing tastebuds on the tongue.

You may need to boil off some of the liquid as it starts closer to soup than a stew, but also this helps concentrate the flavour. It should still be quite runny. Before serving add the spoonful of ground cumin.

In da pan

This makes easily enough for four people with some left over for lunch the next day. It serves well with  plain boiled rice or baked potatoes.


NOTES
Chillies
The clue's in the name: chilli with meat. This recipe needs to be hot, as hot as you can stand it. If you have a bowl of this and aren't sweating like an art dealer trying to shift the last few Rolf Harris pieces in his inventory on the day of the verdict, you've made it wrong. You may experience what feels like actual hellfire spewing from your arse the next day, this means you've done it right. The depth and complexity of the chilli heat and flavour increases if you use different types of chilli: fresh ones of different types (jalapeno, bullets, fingers, birds eye), dried (chilli powder, cayenne, chilli flakes, dried chipotle), chilli sauces (for example Tabasco, Cholula, Encona Hot Pepper sauce) or pickled chillies like jalapenos. Obviously, you need to make it as hot as the person with the lowest chilli tolerance you're feeding. For example, I need to tone down my preparation to accommodate my wife and toddler son and add more chilli to my own portion. On the other hand, if I was making it for myself it would have enough chilli to register the next day on the Beaufort, the Richter and the Bristol Stool scales as well as having a shit-load of zeros on the Scoville scale when you're actually eating it. Science fact: heat of chillies is due to a compound called capsaicin which is actually neurotoxic.

Oh, and also, remember not to touch your genitals for any reason after you've been chopping chillies unless you think thrush just isn't painful enough

Beer
It has got to be a dark, British ale because it needs the richness this comes with. If you use lager in it, you might as well piss in the pan. Cheap supermarket own brand bitter in cans does the trick but if I want to make it that bit more special I add Shepherd Neame Bishop's Finger.

Kidney beans
You can use fresh beans, though I've never bothered. The reason is because if you don't prepare them properly you will be ill, and not in the good "Oooh, that chilli last night was bloody hot!" way. They've got a poison in them that is related to ricin, as favoured by eastern bloc spies, would-be terrorists and Walter White Sr. It's kind of ricin-lite

Bisto
A British staple of many a kitchen, the original Bisto gravy powder makes great gravy with meat juices if you do a roast, but adds some well needed richness and helps thicken up the sauce in this chilli. This is what I'm talking about:


Supermarkets will also do their own version. If all else fails, improvise with some cornflour, more soy and even some Marmite or similar yeast extract.

DO NOT PUT CHOCOLATE IN THIS RECIPE!
Is it called chilli con carne y chocolate? No it's not. Neither is it mole and it's definitely not a fucking dessert. Leave the cocoa for the nighttime drink of nursing home residents. If you do put chocolate in this dish, I will find you and I will kill you.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Pulled pork

Not that long ago if you threw a shitty stick down the magazine aisle in Smith's you'd render at least three different magazines containing a recipe for pulled pork unsalable due to contamination with faecal matter. The recipes were everywhere. It's probably less popular now but I thought I'd give it a go because a: I've tried it in a restaurant and the way it melted in my mouth was like pig-flavoured chocolate and b: the name gives the potential to make more double entendres than you can shake the aforementioned shitty stick at, which is ideal for a blog such as this. Combining this with elements of the dish conchinita pibil (slow-roasted pork in banana leaves with orange), originating from the Yucatan in Mexico, and it is potentially a great way to do pork. This was one of my favourite dishes while we were on holiday there.
I fused a recipe from Simon Rimmer (another great opportunity for double entendres) and one for conchinita pibil to produce my version.

INGREDIENTS
Pork rub (ooer, matron)
1-1.5 kg pork shoulder (boneless, rolled. Needs to have plenty of fat in order to keep the meat moist)
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp chiptole paste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of half a lime
1tbsp olive oil

Cooking liquid
2 medium onions, thickly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 large orange, juiced and husks retained
200ml cider
50ml white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

RECIPE
Dry off the pork joint with kitchen roll. You could use a hair dryer if torrential diarrhoea is your thing, but I'll stick to the paper towels personally.

Mix together the coriander, cumin. oregano, smoked paprika, garlic, chipotle and lime juice to make a paste and rub it into the pork.

Rubbed and ready for the fridge

Cover and put in the fridge and leave it overnight if possible, or for at least a couple of hours.

Put it in a roasting tin with the onions, the rest of the garlic and the orange husks.

Mix together the cider, orange juice, vinegar and Worcester sauce.

Pour the liquid over the meat, cover the tin tightly with foil and replace to the fridge for another hour or two

Remove from the fridge and put it into the oven at 140 to 150°C.

Roast for at least 3 hours like this.

Under the foil, 3 hours in

Remove the foil and turn the oven up to 220° for 15 minutes to finish the meat off.

Take out of the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes

I admit this recipe takes a frigging long time, but that's the idea: cook it long and slow so the meat stays moist and tender.

Serve the meat by tearing it apart with two forks in the cooking liquid so it stays moist and bathed in the unctuous, tangy cooking liquor.


You could serve this as a twist to the pork in a Sunday roast, but it really  as something a bit more exotic with buns and coleslaw.

Ready to serve on a bun
(with homemade coleslaw and potato wedges)

NOTES
As I mention, you serve the pork by shredding it with a pair of forks. This is the somewhat disappointing reason it's called "pulled", because you pull it apart, and not because of some revolutionary cooking technique like "jerking", or even an obscene reference to Rebecca Loos. Anyway, the point is there's no need for any of that carving shit. In fact, I do wonder if the dish originated as something to cook for people who weren't allowed to have knives. I served it up with roasted butternut squash and  sweet potato wedges which meant the whole meal had a similar colour to Dale Winton (I believe the Dulux colour chart calls it "Genial Host Orange"), not that this ought to put you off.

One further tip: feel free to take the words "cumin", "paprika", "pulled", "pork" and "Rimmer" and you too can make your own schoolboy-humour cookery blog.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Chicken fajitas with salsa roja ¡Ay Caramba!


The fun thing about fajitas is that the name sounds vaguely rude if you don't pronounce it right. Of course, you could buy a sachet of pre-prepared powdered rubbish to make fajitas but they fall into the category of over-priced shite. I know it takes longer, but this is so much better. It's the difference between kissing a cat's arse and rimming an angel. 
I'll add some pictures next time I do this recipe
 
INGREDIENTS
For the chicken
 400g chicken (I used thigh fillets, but it could be breast fillet) cut into bite-sized strips
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 or more green chillies, finely chopped* (with seeds unless you're a fucking lightweight)
Good grind of black pepper
Pinch of salt
Olive oil
25ml tequila (or rum at a pinch. Definitely not vodka, Sambuca or Dubonnet fucking Red)
Juice of one lime
1 green pepper and 1 red pepper sliced into strips
1 medium sized onion, sliced
Bottle of lager

For the salsa
70g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped (you can use bigger tomatoes but cherry ones have more flavour and are sweeter) 
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp whole cumin
1 red chilli, finely chopped, including seeds*
Black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (no, you can't use Sarson's malt, you fucking pleb!)

*Avoid touching your genitals by hand until you've washed them thoroughly, unless you're in training for a sponsored urinary tract infection marathon and want to get accustomed to the feeling

RECIPE
Combine the spices, oregano and garlic together with the oil and add the tequila and half of the lime juice.

Mix well to make a paste in a bowl then add the chicken.

Stir to coat the chicken thoroughly, cover and let it marinate like a fat bloke wallowing in Radox. A couple of hours does a reasonable job, but overnight is better.

Prepare the salsa by combining all the ingredients in a dish and mixing well before covering and putting in the fridge. This can be done any time but the longer it's left the better as it helps take the sharpness from the onion.

About half an hour before dinner time, heat up a frying pan or (if you're a pretentious foodie prick like me) a griddle pan, nice and hot.

Add a splash of olive oil and chuck in the chicken plus any remaining marinade.

Fry it up until it's cooked through, about 10 minutes or so.

Throw in the peppers and onions and fry them for a few minutes until the are tender.

Keep the mixture moist by adding the limejuice plus the odd splash of lager.This washes the marinade from the pan, helping to coat the vegetables with it with the added bonus that it tastes of beer.

Drink the rest of the lager, obviously.

The tortilla wraps take about 10s each in the microwave to warm, one at a time, or you can warm all of them in about 30 seconds, covering them with a couple of sheets of kitchen roll.

Roll a fat one in a wrap with the cooked chicken and some salsa.

Add sour cream, guacamole if you're a fussy twat.

Drink more lager with it, or margaritas.

NOTES

I know people into wine have a tendency to twat on about terroir and shit like that when talking about wine, and it's mostly bollocks. However, in terms of a drink to go with a meal, there is something to be said of choosing something that originates from the same part of the world. In the case of these fajitas, it really needs to be Mexican. Corona is best, in my sweary fucking opinion, but Sol (which is way more bland) still works. Carling, Fosters or Stella don't work so don't bother

If you do the Mexican lager thing with lime slice in the neck of the bottle, don't be a cock and leave it sicking out. Squeeze the juice into the bottle and push the wedge right in so you can actually taste the fucker.