Saturday, 19 December 2015

A RIGHT ROYAL KOREAN FEAST

Friends coming over? No clue what to prepare food wise? So often, if friends or family are popping over for a feast or dinner party, it's so easy to stick to classics such as a Chilli Con Carne or Spag Bol, both of which are delicious in their own right, but don't push the boat out for creating a scrumptious feast that your guests have potentially never eaten.


As you're probably aware, street food has kicked-off over the last five years, especially in London, with more and more restaurants adopting a shabby chic vibe and a street food style menu. For that - we have to thank our overseas counterparts - with Asian countries in particular doing street food serious well.

For this meal, we're heading to Korea. I recently tried Bao buns from Yum Bun at a street food market and it was love at first bite. Pillow soft steams buns hug gloriously rich slow cooked meat (usually pork belly) covered in sauce and extra morsels (spring onions, peanuts, crispy onions).

For my Korean feast, the Bao bun or 'Hirata' bun takes centre stage. I've made these before myself and it takes a lot of effort, so instead, buy them from your local Chinese supermarket! You also need a steamer to cook them in, authentic bamboo steamers can be purchased from Ebay for about £10. Rather than pork belly, we're using slow cooked pork shoulder, which falls apart after 6-8 hours of cooking and lots of extras to make your buns super special. Chicken is on offer too, with the quickest marinade alongside home-made pickles and a delicious take on Nasi Goreng, using sweet potato noodles and friend crispy eggs.

It's easier than you think, I promise! Give it a go! The quantities below will be suitable for between 4-6 people to feast on.

FOR THE PORK 



Ingredients:
- 5kg pork shoulder 
- 400ml light soy sauce 
2 tbsp sesame oil
- 100 ml light soy sauce 
- 3 tbsp runny honey 
- 2 star anise 
- 1 cinnamon stick 
- 2 tbsp five space
- 300 ml chicken stock 

Method: 

- Place your pork into a slow cooker or casserole dish.
- Coat the pork in the honey and then the five spice. 
- Add the rest of the liquid ingredients and pop in the star anise and cinnamon
- The pork needs to be covered in liquid, if it isn't, add enough water to just cover the meat. 
- Cook in the oven for 5-7 hours at 130-140 degrees Celsius, depending on how hot your oven is. When the meat is ready, it will literally fall apart when a fork is pressed to it. Pull all the meet apart and drizzle some of the cooking liquor over it to keep it moist and most importantly, delicious. 

FOR THE CHICKEN 



Ingredients:
- 3 to 4 breasts depending on number of guests
- 4 tbsp onion granules 
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp runny honey 
-100 ml soy sauce 

Method:
-  Place the chicken in a freezer bag  and cover with a tea towel. Bash with a rolling pin to flatten and tenderise the meat. 
- Add all the ingredients to the bag and mix together to ensure the chicken is completely coated. 
- Mix together so the chicken is coated cook in an over at 180 degrees celcius for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. 
- Served chopped up finely, to fit into the buns well. 



FOR THE NOODLES 

Sweet potato noodles are actually made from the sweet potato starch. They have a very smooth texture and see through appearance. Buy them online or from your local Chinese supermarket. If you can't get hold of them, any fine noodles work well. 



Ingredients:
- 3 nests of noodles
- 100ml chicken stock
- 4 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 green chilli, roughly chopped
 - 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp of rice vinegar
-1 egg per person
- Siracha sauce (Korean chilli sauce)


- Cook your noodles for five minutes in boiling water. When soft, place in a bowl of cold water to remove excess starch.
- When cool, add all of the ingredients to the noodles, cover and let stand.
- Just before you serve your feast, the eggs need to be cooked. For that, heat some sesame oil in a pan, and crack in one egg at a time. They need to be cooked quickly, but on a hot heat to ensure that they become crispy but maintain a runny yolk.
- pour your noodles into a dish, placing the eggs on top. Drizzle over some chilli sauce and a sprinkle of coriander before serving.

FOR THE PICKLES 




Ingredients:
- Half a cucumber, chopped finely into half moon shapes
- One red onion, finely sliced
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Sugar

Method:
- Creating home made pickles could not be easier! Place your vegetables into separate bowls. Onto each add 3 tbsp on vinegar.
- for the onions, add 1 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of sugar to the cucumber.
- Finally add 1 tsp of sesame oil to each and let stand for around an hour. They are then ready!

FOR THE BUNS 
- Place your buns into a steamer for around 10 minutes.
- Serve when they are warm and fluffy!

EXTRA SERVING OPTIONS 



- I like to serve chopped spring onion, beansprouts and peanuts so that people can build their own buns alongside the pickles.
- Its also great to serve a sauce of mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha sauce and peanut butter mixed with soy sauce.

Give this hands on feast a go over the party season. I know there seems to be a lot of reading above, but honestly it is so worth it. The tastes are flavorsome, rich and delicious and there is nothing better than letting people build up their own meals, to suit their own taste buds. 







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Thursday, 10 December 2015

EASY, FRUGAL SUPPER - MAKING THE MOST OF HUMBLE BROAD BEANS

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With the festive season upon us, time is of the essence. Finding an hour to prepare dinner, keep healthy before the Christmas feasting and reduce your food bills so you can flourish your family with gifts can seem like a hard task. No fear, all you need is to utilise ingredients which are often neglected.

So for this recipe, all hail the broad bean! Firm in texture, super filling and the perfect balance of fibre and protein, they make an ideal base for a mid-week supper. Mildly sweet in flavour, they also carry stronger flavours well, just as your regular carby option might. We're also using a frozen bag of them, as if this recipe wasn't convenient enough!




This recipe is low carb, healthily balanced and quite frankly, delicious. Give it a go this week. 

Ingredients: 

1 large cup of  frozen broad beans 
1 clove garlic, chopped.
1/2 a courgette, sliced
1 tbsp Bouillon powder
2 eggs 
2 rashers of smoked bacon/pancetta, finely chopped
3 sundried tomatoes, chopped. 
40g of Stilton 
sprinkle of Parmesan
Squeeze of lemon juice 
Olive oil 

method:
1)  Bring a pan of water to the boil, and add the vegetable bouillon. When dissolved add your broad beans and let simmer for around five minutes.
2) Meanwhile, in a pan heat a table spoon of olive oil and add your chopped bacon. 
3) give it a couple of minutes to crisp before adding in your courgettes. When they start to soften, season and add the garlic to the pan, cooking for a further two minutes on a gentle heat. 
4) At this point you need to soft boil your eggs. Place both eggs in a pan of gently boiling water and cook for five minutes, to leave your yolk runny. When your five minutes is up, run under cold water before peeling. 
5) When your beans are done, add them to the pan with the bacon and courgettes and leave on the lowest heat, Drizzle over a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and squeeze of lemon juice. Mix together. 
6) Crumble in your Stilton so it melts and covers the beans. 
7) Place your beans on a plate and grate over a good nugget of Parmesan, 
8) Finally, peel your eggs, and place on top of your bean mixture, making a slice to let the yolk cover the beans. 
9) Enjoy with a big glass of fruity Sauvignon and an open fire to keep your tootsies toasty! 







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Monday, 23 November 2015

SPAG BOL? MAKE THE MOST OF A MID WEEK MEAL

Let's face it, the humble Spaghetti Bolognese is a true family favourite, go to mid-week meal and first time cooking venture when you're 17 and looking to win the affection of your crush. With 670 million portions being consumed in Britain each year, i'm looking to give you a few tried and tested tips that will make you create your tastiest Bolognese to date.



Admittedly, not all the additions below are truly authentic, for that you need to stick to a combination of veal and pork mince, chicken liver, red wine and passata, but what I can promise is that if you follow my tips, you won't be reverted to jarred Bolognese sauces any more. 
  •  Never use onion as the base alone. Finely chop and sweat off a combination of red onion, carrot celery and green pepper. The mix creates a sweet yet savory depth that you don't get with onion alone.
  • To the veg add smoked Pancetta, including fat. It creates superior flavour and adds moisture.
  • Combine beef and pork mince. Pork is fattier and softer than beef mince, the result is a melt in the mouth, pillowy texture.
  • Don't be shy of herbs - oregano, bay leaves and Thyme all go into mine. 
  • Use half a bottle of red wine, as well as your canned tomatoes/passata. The depth of flavour is undeniable. 
  • Add two teaspoons of sugar. You won't make a sweet sauce, but you will intensify the flavours by contradicting the sharpness of the wine and tomatoes. 
  • Add a tablesoon of smoked water. Yes I do mean smoked water! It's my favourite find of 2015, adds a rich savoury flavour to any dish and makes the meat feel like its been simmering for days. My go-to is Halen-Mon, the smokiest water I ever did smell. 

  • NEVER cook for any less than two and a half hours. Let that meat soak up all those flavours. Treat it like a slow cooked stew. The best Bolognese sauces cook for 4-5 hours on a very low heat. 
  • Finally, add a tablesoon of olive oil and a shed load of black pepper to your spaghetti, for silky smoothness and authentic Italian flavour. 
  • ENJOY! With a glass of red, crusty bread rubbed with fresh garlic and drizzled with olive oil, slippers and a roaring fire, (optional, yet pivotal). 
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Friday, 6 November 2015

Dinner Post #5 Italian Herby Pork Meatballs with Tomato and Red Wine Sauce

It is no secret that Italian food is my ultimate love. It's delicious, and when cooked properly, Italian recipes can really provide a healthy and wholesome meal, with undeniable flavour. There is no denying that spaghetti and meatballs is a traditional staple of Italian cooking, though traditionally beef or veal is used, or more typically of northern Italian cooking, a mixture of both pork and beef. Through experimentation, I have tested turkey, beef, pork and a mixture of both pork and beef. The pig comes out on top. Why? Because it carries herby flavours so well and has enough fat content to create tender melt in the mouth delights.

 Turkey, for me, is at the bottom of the table. Dieters and health advisors love it, because it is virtually fat free and full of protein. That is all well and good, BUT why are we all so terrified of fat? In a non complex explanation, fat is INCREDIBLE at filling you up.

 It increases and maintains satiety levels more efficiently than carbohydrates, keeping you fuller for longer. It is also fantastic for increasing metabolism. Humans require fat in their diet to survive, and therefore when a fat free diet is implemented, the metabolism slows down because you haven't given it enough to work off. Humans have always consumed animal fat, and our bodies are wired to accept that fat content. Obviously eating copious amounts of saturated fats, and processed fats can be dangerous to health, but it is not unhealthy to consume fats in moderation.

All hail the lard! Don't be scared of fats, ironically, in moderation, they won't make you fat.

So, back to the balls. I have used pork mince because it makes the softest, crumbliest balls you could hope for.

Ingredients makes (6-8 balls)

for the meatballs:

1 pack of pork mince 
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed 
1 tbsp smoked paprika 
1 tbsp tomato ketchup 
1 tbsp oregano 
6 sprigs of rosemary, 3 with leaves removed and finely chopped, and 3 broken in half 
salt and pepper 
2 large handfuls of breadcrumbs 
1 egg yolk 
2 tsp dried, mixed herbs 

for the tomato sauce:

1 tin chopped tomatoes 
120ml red wine 
1 onion, finely chopped
handful of fresh basil, chopped 
2 tsp of oregano
200 ml red wine 
2 coves of garlic, peeled and chopped 
2 tsp sugar 
1 tbsp tomato puree
50ml water 

Method:

For the meatballs:

1) Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Grease a baking tray with olive oil.
2) In a bowl add all of the ingredients, apart from the rosemary which is left as sprigs. 
3) Mix everything together thoroughly with your hands until combined. Add salt and pepper.
4) Roll the mince into balls, there should be between 6 and 8 depending on how big you want them, and place on the baking tray. 
5) Using the remaining sprigs of rosemary, spike each of the meatballs with a rosemary, as shown in the photo above. 
7) Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are golden.




For the sauce:

1) Whilst the meatballs are in the oven, heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
2) Add the onion and sweat for a couple of minutes until soft. 
3) Pour in the wine, and allow to reduce for round 2 minutes. Once the wine has reduced, add the rest of the ingredients other than the basil. Add salt and pepper and stir together.
4) Let the sauce simmer, until the meatballs are cooked. 
5) When the meatballs are ready, carefully add them into the same pan as the tomato sauce, and let everything cook together for 5 minutes. Add in the basil a the last minute and stir through the sauce. 
6) Serve the meatballs with good quality spaghetti or linguine and a sprinkling of Parmesan if you wish. 












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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Foodie Fun Post #1 Lewisham Model Market

Do you love a night of combining concoctions of exciting food and drink along with music? Let's face it who wouldn't. In that case - get to a model market.

My partner and I went to one in Lewisham on a Friday night, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

The model market consists of a variety of different micro diners in an abandoned outdoor market, all selling exciting street food, and dangerously delicious cocktails (pardon my alliteration, but it's true). If that isn't enough to persuade you that the street feast model market is the place to be, let me tell you about the atmosphere. People turn up in their drones, and it really is a diverse mix of people. From Shoreditch 'trendies' to 50 year old hippies, everyone is out for a good time. Music plays all night, and as it gets dark the whole place is lit up. It feels almost as though you're abroad, with dim lighting flooding the nooks and crannies of quirky food diners and bars. 






If you really wanted a good night, you could sample food from each of the following stalls Breddos Tacos, Cheeky Italian, Dogtown Hotdogs, Hank’s Po’ Boys, Killer Tomato, Mama’s Jerk, Rola Wala, Sambal Shiok, SE Brownie Bar, SmokeStak BBQ and Yum Bun. For drinks there is Rotary Cocktail, Craft Beer Bar, Slushy Bar, Rum Shack and Winyl. When we went however, we stuck to Yum Bun, Cheeky Italian, SE Brownie Bar and Rola Wala. Pictures and descriptions below, but I urge you to give it a go! 


YUM BUN.




Sticky pork belly, spring onion and cucumber with hoi sin sauce, and tempura king prawns with coriander salsa verde and yuzu mayonnaise, all encased in super soft dim sum style buns. 
The prawn was my preference, but perhaps that is due to my biased obsession with seafood! 

CHEEKY ITALIAN. 

I think if I ultimately had to chose, Italian would be my favourite type of food. I love it when it's really authentic, I can't stand Italian American food. To my sheer delight, the model market had a brilliant, authentic Italian. There were huge pork loins slow roasting until the meat just fell apart, Italian sausages, cured meats, cheeses, anti pasti and a variety of other treats. Following much deliberation, I opted for a huge slab of rosemary focaccia stuffed to the brim with slow roasted porchetta, caramelised onions, and rocket. The meat was the most delicious pork i've eaten. In fact the whole thing was pretty special. Can't wait to go back and sample some more of their delights. 




ROLA WALA.

Fantastic Indian street food. Rola Wala provided mini naan breads topped with yummy spiced delights both meat friends and veggie friendly. Each topping was as delicious as the last, and it was the sort of food you feel sad about when it comes to a devastating end. I'll let the pictures do the talking, the flavours were as vibrant as the colours. 



GO TO THE MODEL MARKET! GO! It's brilliant, exciting and delicious, and only a fiver to get in. Winner winner chicken dinner (or whatever dinner, because the choice is multiple) 

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Thursday, 3 September 2015

Dinner Post #4 Pan Fried Cod, Braised Red Cabbage, Rosemary and Parmesan Polenta Chips.

Howdy Hi. Here is another, nutritious, delicious and low cost meal which is set to wow. I cooked this for my other half for mid-week supper, post circuit training and he loved it. I must say, it's delicious and using polenta instead of potatoes is an interesting twist!

You could say, it's a posh fish and chips, minus the batter, mushy peas, and deep fried potato chips (so hardly traditional) instead using braised red cabbage, polenta and fresh cod fillets. It doesn't take a lot of time to concoct, however the Polenta needs 2-3 hours to set, and the cabbage needs about an hour to braise.

The quantities below suit 2 people, so treat your significant other to a fabulous meal this weekend, and bring the restaurant home in order to save those all important pennies.

 PLUS for those who are watching the waist line, or trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, Polenta is a fantastic choice. A texture which is just as luxurious as the potato, but far lower in Carbs, rich in Vitamin A and C, and only 73 Kcals per half a cup serving.


Ingredients:
2 Cod Fillets 
1/2 Red Cabbage 
1/2 cup of Quick Cup Polenta/Corn Meal (plus extra for coating) 
1/2 Glass Red Wine 
2 Table Spoons Worcester Sauce 
Handful of Fresh, chopped, Rosemary 
70-100g of Grated  Parmesan (depending on how cheesy you want your chips) 
Clove of Garlic (minced)
Olive Oil 
Knob of Butter 

Method:

1)First, the Polenta. Add your half a cup of Polenta to a pan, and pop it onto a medium heat. Boil a kettle of Water and add a little bit of water every few seconds, ensuring you whisk or beat the Polenta continuously. This prevents a lumpy consistency. You need to keep adding water for about 2 minutes and cook for about 4 minutes, until the consistency is that of thick gloopy mashed Potato, and bubbles are forming at the edges. 
2) Take the Polenta off the heat, and add your Cheese and Rosemary. 
3.) Line a square baking tray with Olive Oil, and pour your Polenta mix in. Flatten it down, so it's smooth, and about an inch thick, (as below). 


4. Put the Polenta in the fridge to set. Now for the Cabbage. Shred your cabbage, whilst heating some olive oil in a pan. Add your cabbage and soften for 10 minutes. Then, add the Wine, Worcester Sauce and Garlic to the pan, along with a dash of water, salt and pepper. Place a lid on top, and let it simmer away on a low heat for around an hour, or until soft. It can sit there and be re-heated later when you're ready to eat, the flavours just get better with time.
5) When the time comes to actually prepare your meal, take the set Polenta out of the fridge and turn it out onto a board. Slice it into fat chunky chip shapes. Set the oven at 190 degrees C/Gas Mark 5. 
6) Whilst the oven heats up, brush Olive Oil over your polenta chips and coat them in a dusting of uncooked Polenta, to give a crispy crunchy coasting. Place them onto a greased baking tray, and bake for around 30 mins, ensuring you turn them over half way through, for even crunch!
7) The fish takes minutes to cook, so you want to be cooking the fish in the last 10 minutes before your Polenta Chips are ready. Season both sides of the Cod, and heat a pan with a generous glug of Olive Oil.
8) Place your fish, skin side down and cook for 4 minutes. After around 2 minutes add a large knob of Butter to the pan, and begin basting the fleshy side of the cod.
9) After 4 minutes, the skin should be crispy and coloured, so turn the fish over so it's flesh side down, and cook for a further 3 minutes in the butter and oil. It should be golden, but moist in the middle, and the flesh should flake away in easy chunks. 
10) Re-heat your cabbage for a minute or so and use that as a base for the dish, piling your fish and Polenta chips on top! Delish! 

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Monday, 10 August 2015

Dinner Post #3 Slovenian Grandads' Anti-Oxidant Curry.

My Grandad used to cook this for my mum and her siblings when they were younger, and we have been fed it ever since. This recipe is based on my mums' adaptation, but I've added a few cheeky extras to up the taste factor. 

I highly doubt you will find another recipe similar to this, and maybe it seems unusual to have a curry which consists of pork mince, but it is absolutely delicious!I wouldn't say this is strictly typical Slovenian food, as it uses Indian spices, but they do often use Pork Mince in stews and casseroles unlike us British. 

Not only this, but I think people forget the powerful  health properties which are benefactors of spices. They are absolute jam packed full of anti-oxidants, and this recipe contains Beta-Carotene, Selenium and vitamins A and C and E. Recent research is also focusing on whether or not spices withhold metabolism boosting properties, which can aid weight loss. This is due to Capsaicin from peppers boosting metabolism. 

If it's good enough for Jennifer Aniston who vows to have chilli on her eggs each morning, it's good enough for us. 

Spices could be helping burn off fat at an increased rate, so in the words of the Spice Girls 'spice up your life'. This recipe also contains plenty of garlic, and Vitamin C packed Vegetables, so if you feel a cold coming, get this bubbling away on the stove! An ode to my wonderful Grandad Borzo Borstnik. Serve with fluffy rice or Quinoa. 



Ingredients (serves 5-6) 

750g Lean Pork Mince 
1 Red Pepper 
3 Carrots, grated. 
2 handfuls Red Split Lentils
2 Onions 
2 Table Spoons Madras Curry Powder
1 Table Spoon Coriander Powder 
2 Tea Spoons Garam Masala 
3 Cloves Garlic 
3 Table Spoons Tomato Puree 
Chicken Stock pot/cube 
Table Spoon Tomato Ketchup.



Method
1.Heat Olive Oil in a pan and sweat finely chopped onions until soft. Season the onions well, as this will stop them from colouring and going too brown. Then finely chop your pepper and sweat that for a couple of minutes with the onions. 
2. Add the mince, season well with salt and plenty of pepper, and wait until it cooks through. 
3. Now add all of the spices along with the tomato purée. Let the meat and spices fry away for around 5 minutes before adding any other ingredients. 
4. Grate the carrots, and add those, along with the lentils to the pan. 
5. Squash your garlic into the pan, with the Tomato Ketchup. 
6. Now for some liquid! Add enough water to make the meat really saucy, and then plop your stock in. Give it a final season, and mix together. Cover up and let it simmer away for 45 mins to an hour, or until the sauce has reduced, and it looks glorious!




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