SCE: Tom Yum Paste
I adore this stuff. Its so easy to knock together a great Tom Yum which, with its citrus spiciness is perfect for when you feel a bit under the weather or cold.
I make a quick tom yum by adding three heaped tablespoons of this magic gelengal, chilli, lemongrass mixture to 500ml of boiling water and add the following ingredients, all raw, quartered mushrooms, halved tomatoes, slices of fresh lemon, raw prawns and lotus root if you have any.
Recipe: Filo Pie - another one for the veggies!
I recently had a very dear friend over for dinner and them being a vegetarian, I was keen to cook them something filling and delicious and extremely yummy and this is what I rolled out with. Deliciously crispy and savoury this pie is is definitely meant for seconds and keeps well for lunch the next day (if you have any left!).
Filo Pastry - I pack (around 10 sheets).
Chopped Spinach - 1 tin
Feta cheese - 1 standard packet roughly chopped.
Crème Fraiche - 200ml.
Roast Red Pepper - A handful chopped.
Sundried Tomatoes - A handful chopped.
Green Olives - A handful Mammoth Variety, chopped.
Melted Butter - about 100gm.
Olive Oil - About three tablespoons.
1. Oil a baking sheet and place the ring from a loose bottom cake tin on it and layer your first layer of filo pastry. This helps release from the baking tray, I tried it with the complete cake tin and it was very difficult to remove.
2. Mix up the melted butter and olive oil in a teacup and brush liberally on each layer of film pastry.
3. Place each layer at right angles to the last to build up a rough star shape.
4. Empty the can of spinach into a tea towel and squeeze the hell out of it in a clean tea towel or a sieve. I use a potato ricer which made it nice ‘n’ easy.
5. Add the 80% of the feta cheese and all the crème fraiche and stir, being careful not to break up the feta too much.
6. Add the beaten eggs and remaining ingredients and carefully fold through taking care not to break the pieces up. Season with Pepper only as the dish already is relatively salty.
7. Pour into the filo pastry and work around the pie pulling each corner of pastry in to the centre in sequence, brushing with the oil and butter mixture as you do.
8. Place pie in a preheated oven at 180c for around 20 minutes, with foil on top to prevent the delicate filo from burning.
9. After 20 minutes, remove foil and brush with more oil and butter if necessary and place back in the oven for another 5 - 10 minutes to get some golden colour on the filo pastry.
10. Remove from oven and let cool for around 20 minutes before serving to allow the filling to set.
Best served with an avocado salad and Dauphinois potato and an ice cold Rosé.
For the non veggies this recipe is also delicious with cooked chicken and mushrooms added to the filling.
SCE: Powdered Coconut Milk
If, like me, you cook a lot of Asian dishes, especially Thai, then this SCE is high up on that list of must have ingredients.
One box of powdered coconut milk equals roughly 6 - 8 cans of the wet stuff. The wonderful thing about the powdered stuff is that its very easy to control how coconutty you want your dish to be by add a few more teaspoons late in the cooking process of a dish. Opening another can for a small amount is soooo wasteful, which brings me to my second reason this is an SCE, its so much bloody cheaper!
Tinned coconut milk is around £1.50 per tin and the powdered stuff is around £2.80 working out at roughly the equivalent price of 35p for the same volume as the tinned stuff….. NICE!
It keeps for ages and is a secure and constant member of my culinary arsenal!
SCE: It’s Store Cupboard Essentials!
So there are many ingredients that can form the foundation of a gazillion delicious and easy recipes and SCE is going to accompany my WTF (What the F***!) posts in bringing to you the best acronym based food posts ever!
Brad’s Na na na na Naan Bread
Yummy Naan bread is so easy and cheap to make yourself and kinda fun too.
200g Plain Flour
50g Gram Flour (Chickpea Flour)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 small very finely chopped onion
Some nigella seeds and fresh coriander finely chopped to sprinkle.
1tbsp Melted Butter
1. Sift all the dry ingredients together and in a jug mix the milk and oil together.
2. Make a volcano in the flour mixture and pour in a little of milk and oil and twist your hand as if holding an imaginary cricket ball, add the chopped onion.
3. Little by little add all of the milk and oil until the dough is smooth and soft.
4. Get the muscles out and imagine that this little ball of dough epitomises all that is evil in the world and need the **** out of it for at least 10 minutes - its hard work but you will end up with a very elastic dough through stretching all the gluten in the flour.
5. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or (handkerchief full of your tears through over exertion!) for 15 minutes.
6. Break up into around 5 little balls and flatten with your palm on oiled worktop or breadboard - try to get the traditional teardrop shape.
7. You can either dry fry them or my preferred method is to use un oiled up turned baking tray under a fiercely hot grill, flipping them over halfway through cooking.
8. Once cooked - brush with melted butter and add nigella seeds and finely chopped Coriander.
9. You don’t want too much colour as traditionally naan should be pale with patches of dark brown.
Stick it in your Aloo Gob-i!
Who doesn’t like a nice spicy lamb curry?
Vegetarians thats who!
So here is my favourite meat free Indian dish of slurpy tongue tingly loveliness that leaves any meat eater a fan of the humble cauliflower! My recipe deviates quite a bit from the traditional simple dish, but I wanted to make a vegetarian curry that wouldn’t leave you disappointed.
1 large Cauliflower.
1 large Onion - quartered.
1 large Onion - Finely Chopped
About 15 New Potatoes - the small variety.
1 large bunch of Coriander - coarsely chopped.
1 large Courgette - chopped into large pieces
1 bag of spinach.
1 Tin of Coconut Milk.
1/2 coconut tin full of water
The Spice Base
2 heaped tablespoons of Garam Masala Powder.
1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 teaspoon of minced ginger
1 green chilli -finely chopped (without seeds if your a wimp!).
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds.
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric.
A squirt of tomato puree.
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Although there are quite a few ingredients this one is easy-peasy.
1. First create your spice base by sweating off the finely chopped onion and adding all of the spice base ingredients listed above.
2. Be careful not to burn the spices as you will get a nasty, acrid, bitter flavour.
3. Add the water and then drop in the half the coriander to give a smokey flavour.
4. Drop in all the potatoes once you have chopped them and add a quarter of the cauliflower.
5. This cauliflower will cook down into mush but thickens the sauce really well.
6. Let this mixture cook slowly on a low heat until the potatoes are nearly done.
7. At this stage add the quartered onion, courgette and remaining cauliflower and let simmer for 5 minutes.
8. Finally add spinach and the tin of coconut milk and let the mixture reduce to the consistency of a thick soup then sprinkle on the remaining coriander to wilt in the steam.
9. Be careful when stirring not to knock the cauliflower apart as it is very fragile.
10. Serve with my Naan Bread (see separate post) Fragrant Basmati Rice - cooked with Cassia Bark or cinnamon and of course an ice cold beer to assist with the lip tingly chilli!
Recipe: Pork Meatballs in Sage Ragu
Now this a recipe for the lazy among us that want something nice and filling without too much effort. Tick and tick!
Meatballs are traditionally 70/30 Beef and Pork, but here its just pork sausagemeat, which produces a lighter texture and absorbs lots of flavour. There is a lot of sage in this recipe so if your not a sage fan, replace it with basil or another strongly aromatic herb.
Brad’s Pork Meatballs in Sage Ragu
1 pack of good quality sausage meat or 6 good sausages with skins removed.
Fresh Sage: About a handful finely chopped.
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley: a small handful finely chopped
Celery: Two sticks finely sliced.
Spring Onions: about 5 finely sliced
Mushrooms: About 6 - 10 small to medium mushrooms - not too fresh, slightly dryer older mushrooms are best as they soak up a lot of moisture.
Red Onion: One large Onion sliced into thin strips
1 Green Pepper: Diced
1 Yellow Pepper: Diced
10 Cherry Tomatoes: Quartered
1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
Balsamic Vinegar: A good glug or two
Anchovies: One small tin of fillets half finely chopped the other half left whole.
Pecorino: Cheese to top
Any good Pasta
1. Add the celery, onion and sage to a well oiled frying pan and soften.
2. Break of rough pieces of sausage meat about the size of a conker and add to the hot frying pan, allowing to brown on all sides. They will pick up the sage flavour really well.
3. In another pan, add a little olive oil and soften the yellow and green peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and spring onion.
4. Once all the vegetables have softened add a glug or two of the balsamic vinegar.
5. Add the chopped anchovies, Chopped Parsley and tin of chopped tomatoes and cook to reduce the liquid slightly.
6. By now the pork meatballs should be sealed and browned on the outside but still need some cooking, so transfer the meatballs and celery with onion into a baking dish and pour over the vegetable and tomato mixture and finally add the remaining whole anchovy fillets.
7. Place in a pre-heated oven at around 180℃ for about 25 minutes
8. Boil some good pasta to al dente, drain and give a good slosh of a very good olive oil.
9. Plate up and shave some good ol pecorino over the top for a very yummy meal indeed.
Recipe: Brad’s Lemon Carbonara
This recipe is very quick and very, very delicious. It may seem a little student-y, but don’t let the bung-it-all-in fashion put you off. This lemony, zesty pasta is perfect for this time of year as we leave the dark months and say goodbye to stews and hearty food and say hello to lighter, fresher meals.
That being said, this isn’t a particularly curve reducing dish and should be enjoyed every now and then as opposed to three times a week ;).
Most people use white sauce when making a carbonara, but traditionally all the creaminess just comes from eggs added to steaming pasta.
Heres a bit on the word Carbonara…
As the name is derived from carbonaro (the Italian word for charcoal burner), some believe that the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. The etymology gave rise to the term “coal miner’s spaghetti”, which is used to refer to spaghetti alla carbonara in parts of the United States. It has even been suggested that it was created by, or as a tribute to, the Carbonari (“charcoalmen”), a secret society prominent in the unification of Italy.
The dish is not present in Ada Boni’s 1927 classic La Cucina Romana, and is unrecorded before the Second World War. It was first recorded after the war as a Roman dish, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States. More recently, a restaurant in Riminihas claimed the original recipe was born during WWII. Powdered eggs and milk, and bacon were standard issue for the American troops and were widely used for bartering with the population. Italians would use those ingredients and pepper to make a nutritious and savoury pasta sauce.
The recipe was included in Elizabeth David's 1954 cookbook published in Great Britain. The dish became popular among American troops stationed in Italy; upon their return home, they popularized spaghetti alla carbonara in North America
Brad’s Lemony Carbonara
Pasta: A good 3 servings of any long pasta, I have used spinach and garlic linguini.
2 egg yolks and 1 egg white
Pecorino Cheese: Parmesan or any other hard cheese is also fine.
A small Lemon: All the zest and a squeeze of juice.
Butter: 3 heaped teaspoons
1 Clove Garlic: Minced
Black Pepper: be very liberal with the freshly ground.
Garalic Sausage: or any other cured sausage
Salami: Thinly sliced and then shredded - or - pancetta
1. Cook the pasta al dente ( soft enough to stick to a wall if thrown but not so soft that the water goes starchy).
2. In a frying pan, add a little oil and toss the sliced sausage and salami until begins to crisp, add the garlic and fry until softened. Put aside.
3. Beat egg yolks, a good large handful of pecorino, black pepper, and softened butter altogether in a small pan and hold over the cooking pasta pot to slightly warm. Mix with a rubber spatula if you have one to avoid the egg cooking, you just want a gloss and a slight thickening. If it begins to thicken too much add a splash of milk.
4. Add the lemon zest and juice to the sauce and incorporate.
5. Drain the pasta and chuck in the cooked meats and the sauce and stir immediately, enough to coat the pasta but not to much that you start to break it up. The steam from the pasta will further cook the eggs so they wont actually be raw.
6. Serve on a big plate with a splash of good olive oil and some freshly shaved pecorino (and of course the customary glass of Rosé)
This dish contains lightly cooked eggs and those who are sensitive should exercise caution when cooking with eggs. Bear in mind, however, that eggs bearing the red lion (british) are generally agreed to be free from Salmonella and safe to eat. Hasn’t done gazillions of Italians harm. Its up to you! ;)
Recipe: Massaman Curry
If you are only going to ever try one of my recipes do try this one.
Massaman, Matsaman or Muslim Curry is perhaps one of the most delicious curries you will ever taste. It is my personal favourite and is one serious comfort food.
Massaman curry is very unusual in that its a South East Asian curry hailing from Thailand that uses many spices and ingredients more typical to South India.
The result is a warm and savoury curry that is close to being a stew or casserole as it has a sweet and meaty sauce like a spicy gravy. The ingredients are really earthy and sweet.
The paste contains the following ingredients : Shallots, Chilli, Lemon Grass, Tamarind, Coriander Leaf, Cumin, Galangal, Coriander, Shrimp, Cardamom, Cloves, Cinnamon, Mace.
If you feel up to it you can make the paste yourself or just buy the bart jar which is actually quite good.
Massaman curry can be made with chicken but the more often used ingredient is beef. I personally thing that the cheaper and tougher the beef the better as it cooks for a fairly long time and needs robust meat.
In this recipe I used Ox Cheeks, part of the forgotten cuts range at Waitrose. Ox cheeks are remarkably cheap and despite appearing quite tough, if cooked correctly, are delicious and tender.
Recipe: Massaman Curry
Beef: About 500g large pieces of cubed beef, preferably stewing or casserole beef.
Coconut Milk: One tin of Coconut milk (you can use reduced fat version if you like)
Bart Massaman Curry Paste: 4 heaped teaspoons. You can get this at Waitrose.
Garlic Cloves: two large cloves minced.
Spanish Onion: One of these large sweet onions quartered.
Small Strong Onion: Finely chopped
Medium/Hot Curry Powder
New Potatoes: About 500g of unpeeled new potatoes.
Butternut Squash: About 500g/half a squash cubed
Sweet Potato: About 500g/ One large Sweet Potato
Whole Chestnut Mushrooms: (optional)
Tomato Pureé: About one tablespoon
Suga: One flat tablespoon
1. At least two hours before but preferbly overnight, place the beef in a bowl and add three to four tablespoons of the curry powder to the bowl and about a teaspoon of oil and rub into the beef. Cover and leave for as long as you can in the fridge.
2. Once marinated, brown the beef in a frying pan to add some colour (resist the temptation to cook the beef all the way through as it will be cooked a lot more later)
3. Remove the beef to a casserole dish with a lid (I always use my trusty pyrex casserole as you can see through the sides and check the colour of the sauce as it cooks) and fry off the finely chopped strong onion with a little oil and two of the four teaspoons of massaman curry paste and a teaspoon of curry powder and add to the beef in the dish.
4. Add the sugar, remaining two teaspoons of curry paste and the tablespoon of tomato pureé to the beef. Stir and coat the beef thoroughly before adding a the whole can of coconut milk, a few dashes of the soy sauce and also some water used to swill out the coconut milk can.
5. Add the chunky onion, potatoes, sweet potato and butternut squash and some (optional) whole mushrooms if you have any and stir in the mixture. Add a sprinkle of cashews.
6. Pop on the lid or some kitchen foil and place in a preheated oven at 250c for the first 30 mins.
7. After 30 mins remove and stir the mix making sure any browning bits at the top are submerged again.
8. Replace in oven and turn down to 180c for a further hour.
9. Remove lid (or foil) from the dish and place back in the oven for a further 30 mins to let the sauce reduce.
10. Remove from oven and service with some sweet jasmine rice (cooked with star anise and cassia bark or cinnamon).
Don’t forget the cold beer!
Restaurant: The Chippy - Best Chippy in London!
Who doesn’t like a decent fish and chips now and then?
Living or working in Central London, however, makes it very difficult to get a fix of fresh fish and chips that isn’t either from frozen or from a kebab shop masquerading as a fish and chip shop.
So sad that its gone :(
Before it was demolished, Dionysus at Tottenham Court Road was my favourite (although remarkably also a kebab shop but fish and chips were awesome). Now dust and rubble, making way for cross rail, where can central London revellers go to get their chippy fix?
Well my new favourite and actually somewhat surpassing Dionysus for quality is none other than “The Chippy”.
Formerly the Golden Union, “The Chippy” is a well deserved name (emphasis on the THE!), because once you have eaten here you won’t consider anywhere else for good ol fish and chips!
Firstly the Restaurant itself is a brilliant model on a 50’s style chippy but without the the grubbyness! Clean and neat glossy tiles with kitsch melamine tables, sitting in for your fish and chips is really rather pleasant and the atmosphere is usually quite buzzy.
As with most central London eateries, The Chippy, does have quiet times when it can seem a bit too empty, but this is nothing unusual with many of the clientele consisting of workers from local business’s (such as me!).
The staff that work there are extremely pleasant and surpass in leaps and bounds the normal grunts and gafaws that you get from your average fast food place. They are chatty, friendly and very welcoming.
Always a smile to greet you
I have taken my Sister and Brother in law and my nieces there a couple of times and they proved to be really family friendly. Firstly I have one niece who doesn’t like potatoes (I know!!!), and they had absolutely no issue with my sister popping to M&S and bringing in a fruit salad to eat!
My Niece and Sister
Aint she cute!
They were also really engaging with my nieces and acknowledged them. One of my pet hates in restaurants is when the younger members at the table are completely ignored by the service staff. Here they were attended to as much if not more so than the grown ups!
I’m not sure if I have received better service from any restaurant in London, let alone a chippy!
On to the food!
So obviously the main contender here is the food, and although the above photo is taken from their website, trust me, it always looks like that. The fish is always cooked to order and from fresh. The chips are cooked to perfection every time (nothing worse than a hurried under done chip).
Another key point is that they know how to fry. When deep frying, it really isn’t easy to achieve results that aren’t greasy and a bit flaccid! Its all in the temperature of the oil and knowing when to plunge!
These guys get it right every time. The chips are not covered in oil and the fish batter is crisp and light and not like a sponge dipped in crisp’n’dry! (that oddly is neither crisp or dry!). Such is the nature of frying that believe it or not there is even a degree available in the art of fish and chips!
The menu here is quite simple, which is exactly what you want from a chippy. Nonetheless there’s always a bit of errrrmmmms when ordering as all of the dishes are yummy.
You can tell, however, that this is not your average chippy by the inclusion of dishes like battered King Prawns and their homemade pies which are scrumptious.
One of my main attractions to the place, however, is that their main special is Coley and chips. Im pretty much averse to eating Cod (and have been for a few years) whilst the EU fisheries policy is as ridiculous as it is (see Hugh’s Fish Fight on 4OD).
Although it is unreasonable to expect a chippy to drop Cod altogether, “The Chippy” do a great job of showcasing Coley, using it as one of their main specials.
I, and now my family, prefer Coley to Cod anyway, more flavour, flakier and firmer, taking better to deep frying and great for Asian cuisine too.
The icing on the cake is, that all of their sides (Tartare, Mushy Peas and Curry Sauce) are homemade and absolutely delicious.
Who can resist a “Wally”?
And if all of that wasn’t reason enough to go there, they are also fully licensed, so perfect for after work munchies! Nom Nom indeed!
All my faves, although hold the becks :)
Their website is still http://www.goldenunion.co.uk at the moment which is their old name but the information seems up to date.
The Chippy -
38 Poland Street