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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Caramelised Sweet Potato Wedges

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I like these because theyre incredibly simple, and their flavour is moresihly sweet even though its a savoury dish. Serves well as a side dish or as an accompaniment to a variety of oriental dishes. Theyre also good as finger food on small buffets or as an accompaniment for a main course. Be careful though or youll be coming back for more before you know it (he chuckles).

250g sweet potato cut into thin wedges
vegetable oil for deep frying
1 easpoon golden sryup
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp black sesame seeds

Perheat oil to 180C and add potato wedges for 30 seconds or until they begin to colour. remove and allow to rest for 10 mins or so, then return to the oil for 3-4 mins until cooked

Remove from the oil then garnish with lemon juice, sesame seeds and golden syrup.


Chicken Kara-Age

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Kara-age (Pronounced ka-ra-ar-gay) is a wonderful side dish often served in Japanese fast food settings, small hot buffets and other suitable occasions. Its wonderful also as a snack for when guests stop by as it can be cooked fairly quickly. Its perfect for this reason for the festive season, and works well also as a starter served with a noodle salad or some caremelised sweet potato wedges. (and a wedge of lime).

Traditionally deep fried, but this recipe uses a small amount of oil and finishes in the oven to keep the amount of oil used to a minimum. Youll also notice a difference in flavour too, as its cooked a bit longer.

You will need (per large serving)

275g boneless thigh meat
4 tablespoons of kara-age sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 beaten egg
vegetable oil

Marinate the chicken in a small bowl in the kara-age sauce for at least an hour, although overnight is better.

In a seperate bowl mix the herbs, egg and cornflour into a uniform paste. Coat the marinated chicken in the mix and then sear in a frying pan with a small amount of vetegable oil.

When the chicken is seared both sides, place on a greased baking tray in the oven at 200C until cooked (about 15 mins).
Serve with necessary accompaniments. If on its own a wedge of lime and a bowl of the kara-age sauce or even hoi sin will go well.


Kara-Age Sauce

This sauce is useful for a number of things - you can use it as a marinade for white meats or even as a glaze for noodles. You can also use in place of teriyake for a variation. The prime use for this sauce however is for marinading chicken for the use of the dish "kara-age" - a side dish which is a wonderful snack and can be eaten with various accompaniments such as noodles, steamed vegetables etc. It's also very good for small hot buffets.

(Makes a large batch so adjust accordingly)

1 in ginger root, peeled and grated
750ml (1.25 pints) light soy sauce
50ml Sake
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce

Combine all ingredients in a pan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool and store.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Cream of asparagus & watercress soup

Alright, ill openly admit its more of a late springtime dish., but im sure that by now, were aware of my love for asparagus, and also fond of the fact that it can be obtained year round from most supermarkets. I will maintian however, that its best in the late spring.

This recipe combines the use of standard larder ingredients and a means to make your asparagus go a bit further. if like me you buy about 4 bunches of asparagus per week, then youll notice that the woody end bits are also useful. I tend to store these bits in a tupperware in the freezer - they dont go off that way and any essential nutrients are still preserved quite well until you need them.

This is a wonderful soup for lunchtimes - and has a nice uplifting feel. Its also quite healthy too.

You will need:

Woody ends from about 4 bunches of asparagus
1/2 pint / 250 ml vegetable stock
Handful of fresh watercress
1/2 pint  bechamel  / white sauce

In one pan heat the bechamel gently, stirring occasionally. In a seperate pan combine your asparagus bits and the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 mins, then strain the stock into the bechamel.

Throw in your handful of watercress, then blend to a uniform consistency.

Garnish with parmesan shavings and / or lemon zest.


Bechamel is to the savoury world what creme patisserie is to the dessert world - a useful "mortar" that has oodles of applications in a multitude of dishes. It's a master sauce for the more lighter sauces we know such as onion sauce, parsley sauce, and other white sauce derivatives. It gives a wonderful medium for many soups also.

Ingredients (makes 1 pint of thick bechamel. Adjust butter flour / liquid levels for lighter versions)

1 pint whole milk
1/2 scored onion, studded with 3 cloves
2 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
pinch nutmeg
pinch mace
2tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp butter

In one pan combine milk, studded onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, mace and nutmeg. Heat gently but do not allow to boil. Continue to stir occasionally untl onion softens. At this point keep warm on a low heat

In a seperate pan melt the butter until bubbling, then fold in the flour, mixing to a uniform paste with a wooden spoon. Add the infused milk bit by bit, whisking together until in a uniform sauce.

Simmer and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes until flour has cooked out.

Use as a master sauce for veloutes, and other white sauce derivatives.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Fish Cakes

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The fish cake I suppose is a bit of a misnomer - no two are ever the same. Everyone has their own tweaks here and there as to their preferences of the fish cake, and everyone makes them differently. This recipe makes a large batch for an appetiser sized fishcake, or enough for a few larger ones for meals and main courses. (they're lovely with parsley sauce)

I've included this recipe with that in mind - you can shape and coat these fish cakes as big and small as you like - i like to do bitesize ones for warm nibbles for guests, or even as a starter - a pyramid of tiny fishcakes with a chilli jam dipping sauce always goes down well.

As a fish cake these can be done with any white fish meat such as crab, whiting, cod, etc. Whichever is cheapest will suffice. If you can get fish trimmings from the fishmonger even better. They'll be very cheap and perfect for these.

You will need....

250g plain unseasoned mash potato
250g of Flaked Poached Salmon
75g of Smoked Salmon
30g of chopped dill
1 Lemons juiced
Pinch of Nutmeg
50g of crushed anchovy’s

The doing bit

Once all the ingredients are cold blend together, shape and coat them in crushed Jacobs cream crackers, crushed cornflakes, or seasoned breadcrumbs (sieved)

Fish related joke: "A man walked into a fish and chip shop with a salmon under his arm. He asks 'have you any fishcakes?' - the man behind the counter says 'sadly not, all gone today'. The man gestures towards the salmon and says 'awww! Its his birthday!'"

To cook, sear in a pan and leave to rest in a warm oven until warm throughout. Alternatively they can be deep fried.

Cumberland Sauce

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If theres one sauce i love, its cumberland sauce. It gives a wonderful sweet flavour which is ideal during the winter periods for alot of foods that require the sweetness that this sauce provides. You can have it as a sauce with meats and cheeses, or even with pates or terrines. Its also brilliant for accompanying all poultry and game, and even pork.

Its very easy to make and this batch should be sufficient for a family sized batch - give it a try with your xmas dinner, or other meal you're going to enjoy over the festive season. You will fall in love with it forever.

4 Oranges Zest and juiced
1 k of Redcurrant jelly
250ml of Medium sherry
½ a teaspoon of Nutmeg
½ teaspoon of Cinnamon
80g of Root ginger finely chopped

Melt the redcurrant jelly into the orange juice

Add remaining ingredients and reduce to a jam like consistence

Plum Relish

Given my recent love for plums i decided it would only be fair to provide a recipe for a plum relish - its especiallly nice with cheese and meats on a cold platter, or even as a dipping medium for finger food. You can even use it as a spicy start for a plum sauce if you're stuck for time. With this in mind it goes well with all kinds of poultry and most game. In fact it goes with pretty much anything, it plums are your thing. If like me you can get plums very cheaply (hello reduced shelf) then by all means make some of this, it keeps for quite a while when sealed and kept cool.

Makes a very big batch so adjust accordingly..

5 red onions thinly sliced
4 Garlics crushed
5 Red Chillies deseeded and finely sliced
500g of Soft brown sugar
250ml of Apple juice
8 Eating apples, peeled and cored then thinly sliced
30 plums stoned and quartered
Small thumb of ginger peeled and finely diced
Small punch of Allspice

Add all the ingredients into a thick bottom pan and bring to the boil

Simmer for about an hour and stir frequently or until the liquid has reduced to a syrup

Keep in sterilized kilner jar.

Chilli Jam

Chili jam is probably of my favourite larder items to make alongside red onion marmalade etc - its so useful. You can use it on sandwiches, as a dipping medium for breads and other finger food, can use it as a quick stir in for noodle dishes, and even as a shortcut for chilli dishes to name but a few applications. 

This recipe if for a simple chilli jam recipe - there are some elaborate ones out there, and they can be a bit overzealous with a plethora of ingredients. Give this one a try and see what you think - you may be pleasantly surprised.

2 Cloves of garlic, skinned and finely chopped
5cm Piece of root ginger, peeled and grated
3 to 4 chillies chopped roughly
225g of tomatoes, peeled deseeded and dice the flesh
50ml of cider vinegar
150g of soft brown sugar

Place the garlic, ginger, tomatoes and chillies into a blender. Reduce to a pulp

Place in pan add vinegar and brown sugar

Bring to the boil and simmer, stir occasionally for thirty minutes till thick

Allow to cool and put in a kilner jar. Should keep for up to two months in a fridge (if it lasts that long).

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Filo wrapped salmon with watercress sauce

image courtesy of delicious magazine

This recipe is a wonderful starter, or can be used as a main course in larger proportions. It has a wonderful non-offenisve flavour and is perfect for the festive season. The mild flavour of the watercress sauce with the vermouth provides a sweet enough edge to complement the salmon perfectly, and sits alongside the lemon edge of the salmon for a pleasing and clean overall flavour.

Ideal as an elegant edge to your Christmas dinner, or new years (if that's your thing). If you can get trout cheaply enough you can use this also in the place of salmon. It may work out cheaper depending on what's available.

For a vegetarian version replace the fish with feta cheese & spinach, or field mushrooms.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

500g Salmon filet skinned and pinned
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 lemon juiced and zested
100g of butter
1 shallot finely diced
200g filo pastry

Watercress sauce

170g of watercress
2 finley diced shallots
4 tablespoons of dry vermouth
300ml of crème fraiche

Cut the salmon into 5mm (1/2 cm) strips

Melt a little of the butter and sauté off the shallots until soft

Mix the lemon, lemon zest and olive oil and mix with the shallots then mix with the salmon

Melt the butter and brush a layer of filo pastry, repeat this three time layering the pastry upon each other

Place a little of the mix upon one edge then roll up with buttered edges

Brush with butter and bake for 15 minutes

The sauce
Strip the cress leaves from the stems
Saute the shallots until soft
Add the vermouth and reduce by half, add crème fraiche, reduce by 1/3
Add the watercress and once wilted, puree
Check the seasoning

Serve and devour. For a main meal version this mix should serve two, just be sure to make larger parcels. Serve with tenderstem or purple broccoli, crushed new potatoes, asparagus or even mange tout or sugar snap peas. Make it work for you.