Saturday, April 28

Spring Vegetable Salad, Herbed Ricotta & Pecorino, Candied Lemon

I am aware that I have posted several asparagus recipes recently, but I remain unapologetic. It is such a beautiful and versatile vegetable, so symbolic of the end of winter foods. English peas have just started to appear on the scene but I am sure these will be products of a poly-tunnel.....I'm not sure if this is cheating or not. Wait a few more weeks and broad beans will start to be about.

I'm really rather pleased with this salad, there is a lot of complimentary flavours going on, but it is the lemon that takes the dish to another level. We used to use candied peel at Harvey Nichols in Bristol - it may well be on the menu right now. It works with all sorts of citrus fruits and can work as well on a savoury dish as a sweet. The blanching removes the bitterness and the lemon will keep happily in the syrup for weeks.

Fresh ricotta - 100g
Chives, fresh mint and dill - a handful of mixed leaves, finely chopped
Broad beans - 200g podded weight
Asparagus - 1 bunch, trimmed
Fresh peas - 100g podded weight
Pecorino - 100g, shaved
Lemon - 2
Sugar - 2 tbsp

With a potato peeler, peel the lemon zest from the lemons leaving behind as much of the white pith as possible. Boil the kettle and put a small pan on the stove. With a sharp chefs knife finely slice the lemon peel into thin strips or 'julienne' as it's called in the trade. Fill the small pan with an inch of boiling water, return to a rolling boil and blanch the lemon peel for 10 seconds. Drain in a sieve, refill the pan and blanch again. Drain and repeat the process one more time. In the same and now empty pan, add the juice of one of the lemons, a pinch of salt and the sugar. Boil and reduce by half then take off the heat. Add the blanched lemon julienne and allow to marinade until required.

Mix the ricotta with the herbs and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Blanch the broad beans until just soft and refresh in iced water to preserve their green colour. Slip the leathery skins off any really large broad beans but if they are small or very young, don't bother. Next blanch the asparagus and toss in the peas for the last 30 seconds of cooking, then refresh in iced water. Toss all the green veg in a little of the lemon syrup, the olive oil and seasoning.

To plate, pile the ricotta into the centre of a large bowl, throw over the green vegetables, the pecorino and finish with the candies lemon.

Thursday, April 26

A 'One Pot Wonder' of Cod, Chorizo, Chickpea & Kale

It has been ages since I have seen my best mate Tony and his lovely Missus in Brighton. Whilst his Missus is a dab hand in the kitchen, it is fair to say that Tony is last meal cooked by him was breaded fish nuggets and tinned mushy peas. They both work long hours and were arriving home late so I wanted to make our visit for supper as stress free as possible. 

This dish is a true one pot wonder, full of veg, pulses, protein and flavour. I made the sauce base and placed the raw fish on top before wrapping and transporting to our friends' house. 20- 30 mins in the oven to reheat, some hot crusty bread.....magic. Easily feeds four, possibly six.

Onion - 1 large, peeled and finely chopped
Garlic - 5 fat cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil - 100ml
Smoked paprika - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Crushed red chilli flakes - 1/2 tsp
Red wine vinegar - a few splashes
Sugar - a few good pinches
Quality cooking chorizo such as Brindisa brand - 400g
Chickpeas, 2x400g tins, drained
Chopped tomatoes - 2x400g tins
Skinless boneless cod loin - 800g
Kale - 2 heads, stalks removed and discarded

In a large deep pan, gently fry the onion, garlic, chilli and cumin seeds in the oil until soft and slightly coloured. Add the paprika and fry a little longer to cook out the spice. Peel the papery skin off the chorizo and chop into chunks. Add to the pot along with the tomatoes, chickpeas and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Add just enough red wine vinegar and sugar to give the sauce a slightly sweet sour taste then simmer for 20 mins. Add the kale and check the seasoning again adding more sugar and vinegar if you think it needs it. Add the kale, mix well and transfer to a baking dish. Cut your cod into nice chunks and push into the sauce. Drizzle with olive oil then bake for 20 to 30 mins at 200c until bubbling hot and the cod is cooked through.

Monday, April 23

Hot Smoked Cornish Trout, Pink Grapefruit, Radish & Coriander

Under normal circumstances I am a chef who prefers the gutsy and robust to the froth and fancy of haute cuisine. However sometimes I do like to get in touch with my feminine side and produce something pretty and delicate to showcase amazing produce. I came across the Atlantis Smokery in Cornwall purely by chance ( and they hot smoke these lovely local trout. The sweet pink grapefruit and coriander leaf take this salad in a citrus direction to cut through the richness of the smoked fish - a great little starter. For two:

Hot smoked trout - 3 fillets, skinned
Radishes - 4
Red onion - 1/2 a small one, peeled
Pink grapefruit - 1, the sweetest you can find
Coriander -  1 small bunch, leaves picked
Honey - 1 tbsp
Best extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp
Salt and ground white pepper

Peel and segment the grapefruit like this:  My wife proof-read this blog and became confused as the YouTube video shows an orange being segmented - I promise this method works for all citrus fruits. Divide each segment into three and place in a sieve above a small bowl. Squeeze any juicy pithy bits of grapefruit over the sieve to get the last of the juice out then discard the rest. Pour the juice into a small pan, add the honey and a light seasoning of salt and pepper. Boil and reduce by 2/3 to make a syrup the consistency of warm honey. 

Slice the radish and onion as thin as you can - I like to use a Japanese mandolin. In a bowl toss the onion, coriander, half the radish and the grapefruit together. Cut two nice pieces of trout from the centre of the fillets and set aside. Flake the rest of the trout into the bowl with the vegetables. Dress the contents of the bowl with half the olive oil, a light seasoning and half the grapefruit syrup.  Mix well but try not to mash everything together.

Arrange a nice ring of radish slivers on a serving plate, top with the dressed salad then the trout portions you reserved from earlier. Drizzle the plate with the remaining grapefruit syrup and more olive oil.

Thursday, April 19

Duck Egg & Native Breeds Morcilla 'En Cocotte'

On our drive to Cornwall we made a welcome pit-stop for lunch at the Exeter Food Festival ( Lots of money changed hands for a load of really interesting and beautiful produce. One supplier that caught my eye was Native Breeds ( who were selling a range of artisan cured meats and sausages. Their chorizo was fantastic in Hobbs house bread, grilled by the sandwich masters 'Chandos Deli' ( But it was the black pudding that got my creative juices flowing, and in particular their spiced morcilla. Full of smoked paprika and just like a good chorizo, the black sausage oozes aromatic smoky red oil when cooked - pretty damn sexy for a full bore black pudding addict like me. I am sure there is some garlic, cinnamon and clove in the mix as well - it is bloody delicious and as good as my previous favourite from Trealy Farm (

This recipe is really easy and is supremely adaptable. Try fried mushrooms and tarragon, chorizo, blue cheese, salami, wild garlic etc, etc, etc. However this dish is so simple that only top class ingredients will do, don't even think of using cheap imitations - go seek them out. For two:

Free range (preferably organic) duck eggs - 2 large
Organic double cream - 100ml
Quality black pudding - 150g
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Quality smoked paprika - a few pinches
Really good bread and butter for toast - I like Netherend Farm salted butter from Waitrose.

Heat your oven to 200c and put a thick baking tray in the oven to heat up. Pick out a couple of ramekins or bowls that will hold a broken egg, and still be more than half empty. Skin and roughly break up the black pudding and fry gently in a little butter with a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper. Fill each ramekins with half the black pudding and sprinkle with a little seasoning and paprika. Make a well in the middle and break an egg into each ramekin, top with half the cream, a little more paprika and a good seasoning of salt and pepper.  

Bake for approx 6 to 10 mins until the whites are just cooked but the yolks warm but liquid. Serve with hot buttered sourdough toast.

Thursday, April 12

Asparagus, Saute Potato & Tomato Salad, Balsamic Glaze

How time flies. It has been 10 days since my last blog and now I find myself off to Cornwall for a weeks holiday. The fridge needed to be emptied and three new potatoes, an over ripe tomato and some local asparagus yielded this salad. I'm rather pleased with the result. A few shavings of Parmesan or a crumbling of goats cheese would really lift the dish.......but i didn't have any!

A little tip, if you reduce cheap balsamic vinegar to a syrup, the flavour is much improved and the harsh acidity is vented to the atmosphere. Drizzle it over salads, braised lamb, strawberries etc....and it makes a great salad dressing. For one:

Some asparagus
3 new potatoes
1 small shallot
1 ripe tomato
Basic olive oil for frying
Your best extra virgin olive oil for dressing
Cheap balsamic - 50ml
Salt and freshly crushed black pepper

Gently boil away the balsamic by 2/3 until syrupy. Microwave the new potatoes until just soft. Slice, season and slowly fry in the olive oil until golden and crisp on both sides. Finely slice  the tomato and very finely slice the peeled shallot - I used a Japanese mandolin. On a large serving plate, scatter the tomato slices about and place a wafer thin slice of shallot on top of each. Season the tomato with salt and pepper, drizzle with balsamic reduction and your best olive oil. 

Blanch the asparagus until just cooked, drain and drizzle with best olive oil and toss about a bit to glaze the spears. Artfully arrange the sauté potatoes on the serving plate, then the asparagus. Drizzle with more balsamic syrup if you think it needs it.

Sunday, April 1

Lahmacun - Spicy Turkish Lamb Flatbreads

Having read Dan's blog about his recent visit to Istanbul (, I was inspired to cook these meaty spicy flat breads. I guess these are the Turkish equivalent of a pizza.......I don't know why I made that association as actually they can stand alone and deserve wider recognition. Listen up kebab shop owners, we want some of these bad boys and not the old 'sliced elephants foot' in a cheap pitta bread!

Now I like to make big flat breads so I could only cook one at a time in my oven, I guess you could make smaller versions, but I prefer to serve one person and make the rest wait in anticipation for theirs to be cooked. 

Eat them straight from the oven. Don't try and be elegant, roll them up with a salad filling like a hot kebab wrap and enjoy the warm spicy lamb fat dribbling down your chin.....pretty classy!! Makes four:

Good quality ground minced lamb - 300g
1 small onion, finely chopped
Garlic, 1 fat clove, finely chopped
Tomato paste, 1 tbsp
Ground coriander - 1 tbsp
Ground cumin - 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper or chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Fresh coriander - a big bunch, leaves removed from stems, both reserved.
Beef tomato - 2, seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely sliced
Cucumber - 1/2, seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 lemon
Strained greek yoghurt - use the 'Total' full fat brand
White bread flour - 500g
Dried yeast - 1x7g sachet
Tepid water - 365g
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First make your bread dough. Mix the yeast, flour and 10g salt with the tepid water. Knead for a bit, cover with cling film and let it prove in a warm place until doubled in size.

Next make the lamb paste. Fry the onion and garlic gently in lots of olive oil until soft and lightly golden. Add the tomato paste, spices, finely chopped coriander stems and a good season of salt and pepper. Fry for a few minutes more until the spices smell fragrant. Transfer the onion and spice mix to the bowl of a food processor with the raw lamb mince. Blitz to a smoothish paste.

Heat your oven to its hottest setting and place a large heavy baking tray upside down on the shelf to get really hot. Knock back your bread dough and divide into 4. Roll 1 piece at a time into a large flat bread about the size of a dinner plate. Place on a silicone baking mat and then spread 1/4 of the meat mixture on top - I use the back of a rubber spatula. Drizzle with olive oil then holding the edges of the baking mat, dump the whole lot on the hot baking tray and bake for 5 to 8 mins until the edges of the flat bread are golden and crisp. 

With your first hot flat bread, top with yoghurt, more olive oil, and a rough salad made from the cucumber, tomato, chopped coriander leaves and red onion dressed with lemon juice and salt. Now crack on with the other three flatbreads, as chef your should be the last one so make it a good'un!