Category Archives: Easy

Meat Fruit Loaf (Chicken Liver Parfait with Clementine Jelly)

Heston Blumental meets Jamie Oliver in a strictly practical, less indulgent but still exquisite take on the iconic Meat Fruit from Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental. No fiddly individual fruits here – just an ineffably smooth and deeply savoury chicken liver parfait, topped with a fresh clementine jelly rather than the traditional clarified butter.


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Penang Char Kway Teow 

…or, fried flat noodles with prawns and eggs.


The photo doesn’t do it justice, but this is one of my favourite things to eat – probably top 5, maybe top 3. It’s a speciality in Malaysia, where half of my family is from, and where my mum learned how to make it by carefully watching (and interrogating) the specialists, who cook nothing else on fiery hot woks in hawker centres and coffee shops.

My mother’s is just as good (or better) and that isn’t some kind of fluffy emotional bias talking (we’re really not that kind of family, by which I mean, we’re Asian. “I won a maths prize Mummy!” “Hmmm.”) it’s cold objective analysis. I always request char kway teow when I go home, and order it pretty much whenever it’s on the menu. But I’ve been watching carefully too, and even without a wok, managed to make it at home on my own.

I sent her this photo and asked “Mummy are you proud??”


And she replied “Looks really authentic and I am thinking ,tastes really good too.  Well done you.”

…which would have been the sweetest taste of all!! except that after I’d sent the photo I realised it was underseasoned. But a few more iterations later and I’m ready to write down the recipe, something neither my mother nor her hawker gurus have done, as far as I know. So here goes:

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Indoor “Barbecued” Beef Ribs

Ribs are my favourite cut of beef, for roasting (US prime rib, UK standing rib/forerib), seared and juicy steaks (ribeye), braising (short rib/thin rib – although I’m also partial to shin and oxtail) and for low-and-slow smoked barbecue, narrowly beating brisket.

Until very recently, the best barbecue in London was available down the road for very reasonable prices at The Horatia, where Texas Joe’s had their residency. Their smoked brisket was a thing of wonder – tender and perfectly pink, with a smoky bark and a richly marbled interior. I can’t pass by the pub without thinking about it. Unfortunately, it’s on my commute, so this occurs at least twice a day.

How to cope, then, with the long winter of our barbecue withdrawal? It is still far too cold to barbecue outside and Joe’s haven’t yet announced their new location.

Like this:

 

 

Marinated ribs cooked low-and-slow, glazed and grilled to finish

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Healthy Cauliflower Cheese

…or rather, Cheese Cauliflower – because we invert the elements of this classic winter comfort food to make it feel-good in both senses of the word.

Classically, the essential comfort components of this dish are the bechamel sauce and the bubbling melted cheesy top, luxuriously blanketing the cauliflower itself. Here, we replace the fat and starch of the bechamel with a velvety cauliflower puree, and the layer of cheese with a few cubes of burnished halloumi, which have a much stronger presence and so we don’t need as much to make the same impact.

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Poached-Roasted Quince (bonus: Quince Gin!)

The stalls along Seven Sisters Road sell £1 bowls of fruit and vegetables all year round. During the winter, they sell root vegetables, imported citrus fruits and bananas – but last weekend the first indicators of seasonal change arrived in the form of rosy pomegranates at one stall, enormous fragrant strawberries at another, and, almost glowing in their stainless steel bowl, bulging golden quince. I buy them every year from the local Turkish shops, but normally they are closer to a pound apiece than £1 for five, which is what I bought one Saturday a few weeks ago.

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Raw quince – golden

Poached quince, photographed through glass

Poached quince, photographed through glass

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Easy Beef Pho (more “Faux” than authentic “Pho”)

This is a cheap, comforting-but-healthy bowl of tender rib meat and bone broth. And it’s super-easy to make – the passage of time does all the work for you. It’s hands-off pho, as 1. apart from roughly chopping some aromatics and slipping the tender meat off the bones at the end of cooking, you really don’t do much, and 2. it also stands for “Hands off my pho!” because once I’ve got my slurp on with a bowl of this umami sensation, I’m not prepared to share! Vietnamese Beef Pho Continue reading

Short Rib Bourguignon

As I write this, my husband and I are sharing a Fray Bentos pie, passing the tin (balanced on a plate) between us and sharing the same fork. I tell you this not because I’m proud of us – I’m really not – but just to demonstrate that I am both lazy and economical (he bought the pies upon finding them on sale at Morrison’s for a pound each, bearing them home in triumph. I let him enjoy it for approximately two seconds  before observing that they are always available at Poundland). Anyway, this meal easy, inexpensive and gloriously delicious – it’s honestly once of the nicest dishes I can make. We made it recently for dining club with my siblings and my brother has asked me for the recipe almost daily ever since.

Short Rib Bourgignon

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