Thursday, 26 April 2012

Emergency Broad Bean Dip

Excellent green mush
God bless the freezer. Where would we be without it? There would be no little parcels of bolognese to save us when we stagger home far too late on a school night. No Tupperware boxes of delight waiting for us when we just can't be arsed to cook. And no-where for me to store the copious red-stickered packets of meat that were so barginous the Boyfriend just couldn't resist (20p off, you only saved 20p!!!). The freezer also creates a home for frozen peas and broad beans. I've never been a fan of any other frozen veg, I think they taste funny and it's hardly difficult to hack up a few bits of broccoli is it? Anywaaay it is these frozen peas and beans which I so often turn to, when I am in need of a quick pre-dinner nibble. I overdosed on home made hummus last year and now am overdosing on this, broad bean and pea dip.

Feeds as many as you like, quantities are very vague. Taste as you go, there are no real rules. This is a rebellious canape.

Boil a couple of handfuls of broad beans and peas, or one or the other, for a few minutes. Drain, and put in the wizzer with a handful of grated Parmesan (feta also works well), juice of a lemon, some mint (basil also works), a clove or two of garlic, some chillie, a very big glug of extra virgin olive oil, and season. Wizz up, it should be a smoothish bright green paste, perfect for dipping. You can also smear it on bruschetta or stir it into pasta. Clever. We had it the other day as part of an Italian type spread. Laaarvely.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Curry goat, definitely NOT goat curry

I'm not sure how many people squeal with delight when they see their on line meat people have started supplying goat, but I was definitely one of them. Because it meant I could cook curry goat. Exciting times. You can use lamb or mutton but it won't be the same, still nice though. You've got to love Caribbean flavours, scotch bonnet heat, but also immense fragrance from cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and tang from tomatoes and the all important HP sauce (authentic according to Hugh F-W who I know isn't exactly Mr Reggae Reggae sauce but I threw it in anyway (this is based on his recipe). You need time and love to make this, time to let it marinade for 24 hours (you are allowed to peek at the pretty bowl of explosive flavour every now and again but do let it marinade properly). You need love to grind the spices, time consuming but oh so worth it. This is worth doing in large batches, not really extra work and like all curries it's great re-heated. You end up making more spice mix than needed but keep and use another time, would be an awesome rub for the barbie.

Good things come to those who wait
Feeds 5-6. Before you get meaty, make the Jamaican curry blend by dry roasting 12 cardamon pods, 1tbsp coriander seeds, 1tbsp black peppercorns, 1tbsp fenugreek seeds and a cinnamon stick, then pulverise in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder (that's the hard bit). Mix with 1tbsp each of ground ginger and turmeric. 

Cut 2kg goat into big chunks, bone allowing, and remove any big fatty bits (goat is reaaaally fatty). Take a big bowl, put in 2 big tbsp of the spice mix, 3 large chopped tomatoes, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 chopped onions and 1 or 2 scotch bonnet chillies, a tablespoon of thyme leaves, a big squirt of HP sauce and the chopped stalks of a biggish bunch of coriander (save leaves for later). Mix well and combine with the goat. Really rub it in to the meat, using gloves, if like me, you wear contact lenses, as it ain't fun when you come to take them out...Leave to marinade in the fridge, ideally overnight but at least 6 hours.

Time to cook. Brown the meat in a big casserole, in batches, knocking off extra marinade bits.Set aside. Now throw in the remaining chopped onion and tomato left over in the bowl and cook for a bit until softened. The smell should be making you behave very oddly by now. Add the meat, juices, a pinch of salt and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil and then put in the oven, at 130c (you can cook gently on the hob if you like). Give it 2.5 to 3 hours. Serve with plain rice (I love rice and peas but I would find it a bit rich with this) and sprinkle with lots of coriander.

Throw the bones in a bowl in the middle of the table as you go, with a carnivorous flourish and marvel at how melty and full of flavour  Billy Goat Gruff can be.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Chicken Avgolemono (looks like rice pudding, tastes like heaven)

Definitely not rice pudding.
This meal is so good for so many reasons. I shall proceed to list a few: it is terrifically thrifty, using the stock and left over chicken from Sunday's roast, and that dried up end of loaf (which I was sure I would find something useful to do with, a week after the rest of the bread was demolished). This makes me happy. I am far from tight fisted but I do like a bit of old fashioned prudence. Another great reason to love this, is that it looks like rice pudding, like it might be a bit stodgy and heavy. Surprise! It's beautifully light and scented with a heavenly mixture of lemon, parsley and a hint of garlic. It is also incredibly simple, cheap and easy, and I have a funny feeling it might make an excellent hangover cure. I had heard about this dish from the mother of The Boyfriend and weirdly the same day found a recipe for it in a magazine and then stupidly waited two years before cooking it. Don't worry about measurements too much, it will turn out slightly different each time, no problem there, it will always taste great. I used the leftover chicken from a smallish roast chicken devoured by The Boyfriend and I, and the stock from said chicken. Waste not, want not.

Feeds two. Bring approximately 1.5-2 litres of home made chicken stock (don't bother with a stock cube, the stock is the base of the soup and it needs to be the proper stuff) to the boil and add a couple of good handfuls of rice (all depends on how hungry you are, as much or as little as you like). Let that simmer away while you fry two stale slices of ciabatta, cubed,  in a splash of extra virgin olive oil. When golden, rub one side of each crouton with a cut clove of garlic, get the garlicky goodness right in there, a bit faffy but worth it. When the rice is just about cooked, add some cooked shredded chicken and stir in, warming it through. Remove from the heat. In a cup, mix a beaten egg or two with the juice of a lemon and trickle this into the soup, stirring gently, until combined. Season really well, plop the soup into two bowls, garnish with the croutons (you will probably have eaten half by now) and some chopped flat leaf parsley. 

Cook it now, you can thank me later.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Beef Shin with Ginger & Soy

Every now and again I get one of those recipe chain email thingys asking me to cut and paste the instructions and then send a recipe to the person at the top and then forward to 20 friends. 20?! I definitely have 20 friends but not 20 who would oblige with the email, thus dooming me to a life of bad luck and bad food or something. Anyway, I got one the other day and probably forwarded to about 10 friends with no faith that I'd get anything back, but I did. It seems my sister's friends are all very good at this kind of thing, and I got this awesome recipe from my sister's friend Daisy. It was good for two reasons, one is it involved slow cooked beef shin, and the other was that it required lots of ginger (I still have some in the fridge from my Dad's Saturday market ginger binge, he gave me an actual bag full). I changed her recipe slightly, not to improve it but to suit me and the fridge contents and it was divine. Thanks weird email chain.

Feeds 4-6. Pre-heat the oven to 130c. Take approx 1.5kg beef shin chopped into large chunks (this is off the bone, if on the bone allow for extra weight), season, then in some hot groundnut oil, brown in a big casserole, do this in batches if needed. Set the meat aside and now gently fry 6 chopped cloves of garlic and 2 thumb sized bits of ginger, chopped, adding more oil if you need to. Stir about until softened but don't burn the garlic. Add 3tbsp of tart fruit jam or jelly such as redcurrant, plum or crab apple and 150ml soy sauce. Return the meat to the pan and add enough apple juice (I used dry cider) to just cover the meat. Add 2 tbsp cider vinegar and a couple of hot red chillies, chopped up, or whole. Stir well, cover and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is really soft. This is so delicious served up simple on some steamed rice, with a healthy serving of wilted greens on the side.

What on earth am I going to do with the rest of this bloody ginger??!!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Friday Night Rabbit Rave

Run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run...
Having made arrangements to hook up with my friend Sophie in the nearest watering hole to both our offices on Friday night, I was forced to change plans and request that she came over for supper instead, as I had some rabbit I had to cook that night. Rock and roll is basically my middle name. Binning un-cooked slightly off rabbit on Saturday just didn't enter the equation, we would still drink to celebrate Friday, but we would also dine on Flopsy Rabbit. There were no complaints from her, perfect. This fairly rustic recipe for what is essentially a tomatoey rabbit casserole is a favourite of mine; many rabbit recipes involve tomatoes, but instead of going down the typical addition of black olives, here there are crushed coriander seeds, adding a teeny bit of exoticism while still keeping it simple and warming.

Feeds 3-ish (four if you include a hammered boyfriend coming home, having one bite before tipping it all over the table in an attempt to fill his belly). Take one quartered rabbit, sprinkle in seasoned flour and brown on all sides in hot olive oil in a casserole dish. Once browned, set the rabbit aside and in the same pot, gently fry a sliced onion, adding more oil if you need to, 4 fat cloves chopped garlic and a chopped chilli. Once softened a bit, add a small handful of chopped Serrano ham (all I had this time was pancetta which was fine), a few springs of thyme and oregano, a tbsp smoked paprika, a tin of chopped tomatoes and 1/2 a tbsp crushed coriander seeds. Stir well and let it bubble for five minutes or so. Put the rabbit back in the pan with enough water to nearly cover the meat, season, cover and simmer for about one hour, until the meat is very tender and comes away from the bone easily. If you need to, reduce the sauce just before serving by increasing the heat for 5 minutes or so, letting it bubble more ferociously and thicken. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley or coriander with rice, potatoes or flat breads. 

Cue Sophie's boyfriend banging on the door, refusing food, and playing every CD in our collection at an enthusiastic volume, and after dinner round the coffee table dancing enjoyed by all. You don't want to know what happened when my boyfriend somehow made it home from the pub...