Category Archives: Recipes

Favorite recipes I’ve found out and about or my own made up ones

Soda Bread – Easy Bread in an hour

“Easy, quick, tasty bread….anyone can do it”

I love bread, but the anti carb Gestapo tend to steer me away from it. It’s become a rare treat! Still every now and again I reach for this old favourite that I first saw Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall do on one of his River cottage programmes. This soda bread recipe is fail safe, always works and I vary it for good measure. The recipe makes a decent medium loaf which me and the flame can demolish over a weekend.

* 500g plain flour (I sometimes do 250g whole meal, 250g plain)

* 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

* 1 tsp fine sea salt * Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt (I just use Greek low fat yoghurt, seems to work!)

* A little milk, if necessary

For a variation, I add various type of seeds to the dry mix. A tsp of fennel gives good flavour, but don’t overdue it. I’ve even added dry herbs which doesn’t seem to upset things.

1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yoghurt, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough, just this side of sticky. It is quite claggy and sticks to your fingers.

Mixing the stuff
Mixing the stuff
Told you it was easy
Told you it was easy

2. Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer – you need to get it into the oven while the bicarb is still doing its stuff. You’re not looking for the kind of smooth, elastic dough you’d get with a yeast-based bread.

3. Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Put it in an oven preheated to 200oC/gas mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

The end result
The end result

4. Cool on a wire rack if you like a crunchy crust, or wrap in a clean tea towel if you prefer a soft crust. Soda bread is best eaten while still warm, spread with salty butter and/or a dollop of your favourite jam. But if you have some left over the next day, it makes great toast.

Variation: I add seeds to the dry mix. A suggestion is to mix together 2 tablespoons each of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy and linseeds, plus 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds; set aside. Follow the main recipe but use half white flour and half wholemeal flour. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the seeds to the dry ingredients before proceeding as above. After cutting a cross in the top of the loaf, brush it with a little buttermilk or ordinary milk and sprinkle with the remaining seeds. Bake at 200oC/gas mark 6 for 40–45 minutes.

The original recipe was taken from http://www.rivercottage.net

 

Grilled Marinated Hanger Steak

I am fortunate to live within a short stroll away from a superb local butcher. The thought of buying meat that has come from animals born and bred in my home town adds a proper meaning to the term ‘shop local’.

It was during one of my regular jaunts that I noticed a long streak of muscle nestling in a tray on the top shelf of The Red Bank Farm shop display. A short enquiry with the host revealed that this luvicious, pink lump to be what’s known as a ‘hanger’ steak. I was intrigued and so it was the work of a moment to thrash out the deal and bag me a pound of prime.

The raw hanger steak
The raw hanger steak

There is only one hanger steak per animal. As the name suggests it ‘hangs’ from the diaphragm and is attached to the spine and the last rib (sounds like you know what you’re on about! – Ed). It normally weighs between a pound and a pound and a half (450 to 675g). It’s reckoned it is the tenderest cut on an animal and is best marinated and cooked quickly over high heat and served rare or medium rare, to avoid toughness.

The recipe I have cadged here is by Anne Burrell who seemingly pops up on a show called ‘Secrets of a Restaurant Chef’. It’s quite simple really, the keys seems to be to marinate the meat overnight. The ingredients below are for 2 steaks which I reckon would feed 4. I actually cooked one for me and The Flame.

Marinating ingredients and then smeared in readiness
Marinating ingredients and then smeared in readiness

Ingredients
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
Pinch crushed pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, picked and finely chopped
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 (1 1/2-pound each) hanger steaks, trimmed, membrane removed and cut in half lengthwise
salt
Rapeseed oil

Directions
In a small bowl, combine the Dijon, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and zest, and crushed pepper. Smear the steaks with this deliciousness and let them hang out in the fridge overnight or up to 2 hours in the fridge.

You could grill the steaks on a barbecue or indoor grill. I did mine on the hob in my trusty grill pan. I seasoned the steaks with salt before setting on the hot, lightly oiled grill pan. I seared each side for about three minutes each and then rested for 5 – 10 minutes in a warm oven. You could cover with foil I reckon.

Grilling and resting
Grilling and resting

Alternatively using Anne’s recipe she does it on a flame grill. When the grill is hot, brush and oil the grill. When the flames have dissipated place the steaks on a hot spot on the grill. Brush with the excess marinade and move the steaks out of the flame if there is a flare up. Grill the steak for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove the steaks from the grill and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

One rested I sliced mine and served immediately with chips and salad. I have to say it was pretty good. The marinade really comes through and gives the meat plenty of flavour. I’d definitely do it again. And after all it is a fairly cheap cut.

The final result, sliced served with chips, sausage and salad
The final result, sliced served with chips, sausage and salad

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/marinated-grilled-hanger-steak-recipe.html

I got the hanger steak from
Red Bank Farm Shop, Winwick Road,
Newton Le Willows, Warrington, WA12 8DU
Tel: 07824 369174
http://www.farmshopnorthwest.co.uk

Braised Ox Cheeks – A Winter Stew

I’m not going to lie to you, a raw ox cheek does not scream eat me. When Nicola (my local butcher from Red Bank Farm) heaved an immense globule of fatty, car tyre from its display lair, I was tempted to suggest she lever it back into place. I’ve had pigs cheeks before, they were dainty ‘ovalettes’ of tender, meaty goodness, a stark contract to the wad of flesh that an ox chews it’s cud against. However, a strange curiosity made me keep up with the scheme and so a Sunday tea of ‘braised ox cheek’ was born.

The ox cheek before and after the marinating
The ox cheek before and after the marinating
A recipe was found courtesy of James Ramsden, foodie writer. I skirt through his method with my added pics and words. Hopefully they merely embellish an already glorious wordage. As many meat lovers may already know, fatty when slow cooked for a long time becomes spectacularly gelatinous, and (in James’s words) extraordinarily handsome. I do urge you to do this. The results are extraordinary. Ox cheek is wonderfully flavoursome, perfect for a winters eve. About 15 minutes prep is all that’s needed. The oven does the rest.

It can be done a day or two ahead if you like – the flavour will only improve – I served with greens and mustard mashed potato.

Browning, adding the veg and then shredding after the oven
Browning, adding the veg and then shredding after the oven
Braised Ox Cheeks
Serves 4-6

 

Ingredients

 

For the marinade

 

2 ox cheeks, 1.5-2kg
Half a bottle of red wine
A bay leaf
A few peppercorns
A garlic clove, squished
A dried red chilli

 

For the braise

 

50g butter
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
300ml beef or chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper
Oil

 

Method

 

Put the ox cheeks in a bowl with the other marinade ingredients and add a good pinch of salt. Leave for as long as you can – ideally in the fridge for a few days, (I left mine in the garage overnight!), but an hour is better than nothing

 

Preheat the oven to 160C. Remove cheeks from marinade and pat thoroughly dry. Heat a drop of oil (if using olive don’t use your best) in a frying pan over a strong flame and brown the cheeks thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Transfer to a large saucepan. I ended up using my beloved ‘Le Crueset’ roasting tin.

 

Lower the heat in the frying pan. Add the butter and melt, then add the vegetables and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Soften for a few minutes then add to the pan with the ox cheeks.

 

Tip the marinade into the frying pan along with the stock and bring to a simmer, scraping any sticky bits off the pan. Tip this into the saucepan, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook for 3-4 hours until tender.
Remove the cheeks from the braising liquor and rest in a bowl. Put the saucepan over a generous heat, add the tomato puree, and simmer to reduce by about a half.

Meanwhile shred the cheeks with a couple of forks. Return to the pan and stir through the reduced broth. Keep warm until ready to serve, or cool and refrigerate until whenever. I promise it will be spectacular!

The final result, rich and uncious
The final result, rich and uncious
Recipe by James Ramsden  @jteramsden http://www.greatbritishchefs.com

 

Ox cheeks by Red Bank Farm http://www.farmshopnorthwest.co.uk
Red Bank Farm Shop, Winwick Road,
Newton Le Willows, Warrington, WA12 8DU
Tel: 07824 369174

Seville Orange Maramalade by Nigel Slater

January and February herald many things, despair, desolation, cold, misery, darkness, bankruptcy, mumps, typhoid…..no I made some of that up, but generally it takes a bit to get the old fire stoked and get the year motoring up to speed. What it really means to some is Seville Oranges and that then means marmalade. Real, shiny, bitter, sweet, tangy, sumptuous, sticky marmalade.
I’ve never been a particular fan until one Christmas, The Flame floated a weighty tomb by Nigel Slater into my grubby mits. Entitled the 4th Kitchen Diaries it charts what grub is in and when throughout the year. February 4th the dashing, young, TV cook slots in some soupy words along with a recipe for ‘Seville Orange Marmalade’. A hip, arty shot enhances the already rampant taste buds. I’m hooked, within days an armful of the Spanish fruits are on the slab being dissecting and boiled. I supply below pics, ingredients and a method (roughly supplanted from Nigel’s sketch).

 

The ingredients are simplicity itself – Seville Oranges 1.3kg (about 15), Lemons 2 off and Golden granulated sugar 2.6kg. You’ll also need 2.5 litres of water.
In total this little lot set me back about £7.50, the sugar really costing the most. It tipped up about 10 jars of the golden juice. You will need to put away a few hours of your life. It is time you will never get back so you must enjoy it!! It is worth it though, trust me.
The prep in pictures!
The prep in pictures!
1) First up is to remove the peel and pith from the oranges and lemons. Nigel prescribes a cracking way here. Take a very sharp knife and score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting it into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel without going into the fruit. The peel is then easy to remove by hand.
2) Cut the peel into fine shreds (or to a size you want them if you like a chunkier texture) and put them into a large bowl. This is good training for your knife skills!
3) Squeeze all the juice from the oranges and lemons into the bowl, but catching the pips and keeping them to one side. I found my ‘Joseph Joseph’ hand juicer balanced over a sieve, over the bowl, made this fairly fiddly task go by with minimum fuss. (I’m afraid the kitchen diaries took a bit of a dousing with squeezed orange at this point!). Chop the pulp up and put that in with the juice.
4) Add the 2.5 litres of cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. Tie the reserved orange and lemon pips in a muslin bag and push into the peel and juice. Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.
The pips, the sugar, the boil and rest.
The pips, the sugar, the boil and rest.
5) The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enamelled pan (or a preserving pan for those lucky enough to have one) and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel. (I left mine a good hour and a half to be sure, and the peel was then soft and the pith translucent).
6) Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Start adding the sugar to the peel and juice then turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil.
7) Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don’t your preserve will be cloudy.) Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes. Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10 to 15 minutes. Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.
8) Mine did work after 15 minutes. After turning the heat off I got my assortment of jars soaking in water with sterilising tablets. I then ladled the hot, burnt orange juice into the sterilised pots and sealed immediately.
The final result
The final result
Suffice to say I now have a veritable phalanx of sweet, bitter preserve to lash on to the bun, the toast, the crumpet and last but not least the cinnamon bagel. Enjoy.

 

Thanks to Nigel Slater and the 4th Edition of the Kitchen Diaries. Well worth a purchase from all good book shops and inter web portals.
Catch Nigel on twitter @NigelSlater where he provides a cordial and helpful repartee in 140 characters!

The Perfect Duck Breast !

The perfect duck breast has proven a little illusive for me but I’ve just tried this one out. It was by A McKenna (@goosnargh_duck) who specialise in raising corn fed chickens and goosnargh ducks. I managed to bag a couple of plump, Goosnargh duck breasts from them at the Artisan food market in Wilmslow, Cheshire. The flame and I are quite partial to a plump breast and it’s always a help when said proprietor hands over a neat, witty cooking instruction to help you on the way.

photo 1
The finished dish on puy lentils

I have replicated the text almost word for word. There might be the odd gag thrown in!

Serves 4

1-  Take four duck breasts, don’t trim them (I always used to!), lay them flesh side down on a board.
2 – Get a sharp knife and score the skin all the way through to the flesh, don’t cut the flesh, just let the blade touch the flesh. The big thing here is to make sure you score all the way to the edge of the breast so that as the skin shrinks during cooking it doesn’t pull the flesh and make it tough.
3 – Season the skin (only the skin side it says here) with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4 – Take a solid, heavy frying pan and turn the heat to three quarters on your hob to get it going. Lay the duck skin side down in the cold pan, put the pan on the heat and turn down to about half. I have an induction hob so I did on 6 (out of 9).

photo 2
Scored, skin side down, turned over and rest

5 – Now it says, “Do Not Touch Anything, do not move the pan, don’t even think about it”. Apparently what is going to happen over the next ten minutes is that the fat under the skin will slowly melt and the skin will go brown and crispy.
6 – when the skin starts to colour around the outside you are ready to move on. This should take about 7 minutes. The pan will have a good 1cm of duck fat in it and all of the duck fat will have melted.
7 – now season the flesh side (not before it insists), then turn the duck breasts over and cook for two minutes. Then increase the temperature to full for a further 1 minute.
8 – take the pan off the heat and leave the breasts in the pan for 5 minutes while you prepare your side dishes.
9 – then slice. It will then be very sexy indeed. See pics for proof!!

You can keep the rendered duck fat for cooking roasties. Four duck breasts will produce about 200ml of fat.
I served my duck on a bed of mustard flavoured puy lentils.

Thanks to A McKenna of Goosnargh Duck twitter @goosnargh_duck
The artisan market operates in Cheshire most Sundays through the year visit http://www.theartisanmarket.co.uk

Mussels – Collecting, Cooking and Eating

I remember watching a programme on telly, can’t remember what but basically this rather well spoken cove was cruising down the Menai straits off Anglesey dredging for mussels. He pointed out to the cameras that Anglesey is the home of mussels. They are shipped all over the world, everywhere but here in the UK! A year or two later The Flame and I spent New Year in a cottage just off the beach in Red Wharf Bay. I asked our landlord where I could buy Anglesey mussels? He simply said “if you wait a couple of hours, I get mine from those rocks over there”. Well that was me sorted, the tide went down and there they where, great clumps of plump, purple mussels clinging gamely to rocks, glistening in the sun. I was in heaven.

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As it was December the time was ripe to pick. Apparently, you only collect mussels when there is an ‘r’ in the month (i.e. not in May, June, July or August). By picking outside the summer months you give them a chance to breed. It’s also better for us ‘chompers’ because there’s likely to be less bacteria present in cooler waters. As this was a nice beach, it was unlikely that there was many toxins knocking about. Mussels are filter feeders, if they are eating in nasty places, near sewage outlets etc, there’s a chance they’ll be pretty nasty to eat. Pregnant young ladies should avoid eating mussels full stop!
 I pitched onto the beach with a bucket. I looked out for larger mussels, as these are likely to have had a chance to have their leg over and get some younger ones on the go. After all sustainability is what we should all be about as well! I wouldn’t go for massive mussels as some reckon the meat is not as tasty.
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I soaked my mussels overnight after scrubbing all the barnacles off with a the back of a knife and ripping off their ‘beards’ (byssus threads). All this after rinsing well. Very important, any that are open after this little prewash I discarded. Of course, once they’re cooked, I discard any that are closed. If you do want to purge them, however, to get out grit and sand, place the mussels in a bowl of salted cold water overnight, and they will ‘filter’ themselves clean.
There are loads of ways to enjoy mussels. Apparently, you could grill or barbeque them for a delicious smoky flavour, but I always do the traditional French Moules marinières. Here’s the recipe I used.
Moules marinières
Ingredients (serves two or three, as a starter, depending how hungry everyone is)
About 60 (foraged) mussels
1 small red onion (I didn’t have a shallot) peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced or finely diced
1 glass white wine
3–5 sprigs of thyme
1 small carton single cream (or crème fraîche)
Knob of butter and a glug of olive oil (1 tbsp)
Salt and pepper (might not need the salt)
Technique
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan (which has a lid) over a medium heat.
Add the onion and soften.
Add the garlic a few minutes later, so you don’t burn it, then the mussels, wine and thyme.
Pop the lid on and leave to simmer, keeping an eye on the mussels to see when they start to open. This will take around 10–15 minutes.
Remove the lid and taste the juice to see if it needs seasoning or not, then add the cream or crème fraîche, just heating through but not cooking. Remember to discard any mussels which are still closed at the end. I had one when I did it.
Pour into a big dish, put in the centre of the table and serve with a crusty baguette for dipping into the white wine and garlic broth that will be left when you’ve plundered the mussels.
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Give it a go. Obviously take care if you are foraging them. Otherwise just get from your fishmonger or at a pinch your local supermarket!
Enjoy!

Crumpets – A Recipe by Paul Hollywood

I don’t know what it is ever since watching Paul Hollywood make crumpets from scratch on telly I’ve always wanted to give It a go. I had never realised to be honest that you could make them, believing they were some mythical, hot, carrier of butter concocted in a secret den in the North by Warburtons. However at a loose end one Saturday afternoon I decided to give them a crack. The recipe below is by Paul Hollywood and makes about 10 crumpets. It pretty much worked. Greasing the rings is important as they can be a pain to get out, especially as the rings are hot. Mine seemed to come out a bit too thick but still tasted great and had a nice light fluffy texture inside. I served mine with some hot buttered, Morecambe bay shrimps slaverred on top, but ‘The Flame’ had scrambled eggs on hers and loved them as well.

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Preparation time: 15 minutes plus resting time
Cooking time: 10 minutes each. If you have enough rings you could do about four at a time in a big frying pan.
 
You will need
175g strong white bread flour
175g plain white flour
14g fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
350ml warm milk
150–200ml tepid water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
Sunflower oil for cooking
At least four 7-8cm metal rings

 

Method
1. Put both flours into a large bowl and mix in the yeast. In a jug, dissolve the sugar in the warm milk, then pour onto the flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until you have a smooth batter. This will take three to four minutes and is hard work (he’s right here, it is hard work!) because the mixture is stiff, but it is essential to develop the protein strength in the batter and will ensure the crumpets develop their characteristic holes as they cook.

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2. Cover the bowl with cling film or a tea towel and leave to stand for about an hour. The mixture will rise and then begin to fall – you will see marks on the side of the bowl where the batter reached before it dropped. This indicates that the yeast has created its carbon dioxide and is now exhausted. The gluten will now have developed sufficiently to give the crumpets structure and enable them to rise and hold their shape.
3. In a jug, mix 150 millilitres of the tepid water with the bicarbonate of soda and salt. Stir this liquid into the batter until evenly combined, then gradually stir in as much of the remaining water as you need to get a thick dropping consistency. Cover the bowl and leave the batter to rest for about 20 minutes. Little holes will appear on the surface and the batter will become a bit sticky.
4. Heat a flat griddle or heavy-based frying pan on a medium-low heat. Lightly but thoroughly grease the inside of at least four seven to eight centimeter metal crumpet rings (ideally non-stick). Lightly grease the griddle or pan, using a crumpled piece of kitchen paper dipped in oil.
It’s a good idea to start with a trial crumpet. The first one is never the best, like the first pancake.
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5. Put a greased crumpet ring on the griddle. Ladle enough batter into the ring to come just below the rim; it should be about three centimetres deep. The temperature of the pan is important: it is better to cook the crumpet lower and slower than hot and fast. After six to eight minutes, the bottom of the crumpet should be browned and the rest almost cooked through. You’ll know when it is nearly ready once the top looks almost set and most of the bubbles that have formed on the surface have burst. You can slightly speed up the cooking by popping these bubbles as they appear, using the sharp tip of a knife. When the crumpet is ready, the bubbles will stay open rather than fill up with liquid batter. Turn the crumpet over carefully, using two kitchen tools, such as a spatula and a palette knife. Leave the crumpet to cook for another minute or two, then lift it off the griddle onto a wire rack. Remove the ring (if it sticks, run a small, sharp knife around the outside of the crumpet to loosen it). Now that you have fine-tuned the time and temperature needed for your batter, you are ready to cook the rest of the crumpets in batches. Serve the crumpets straight away, split or whole, with plenty of butter. Alternatively, leave them to cool on the wire rack and toast them before enjoying with butter.

Healthy Salad in a Black+Blum ‘Box Appetit’ Lunch Box

What? A blog about the Black+Blum ‘Box Appetit’ Lunch box? Yep, it’s worth it, bare with me!

How do you get yourself a filling, healthy lunch when you have a long day at work?
Well my way is to bag yourself a load of salad and a fancy lunch box. The ‘Box Appetit’ lunch box by designers Black+Blum, is a rather trendy looking, square, plastic box with the natty idea of having two triangular nesting boxes within. The whole ensemble is then trapped in a see through lid that clamps to the box creating a air and water tight seal. The whole thing then slips into a brief case, laptop bag or whatever you take on the haul into work (or relaxing picnic!!)
Below is a sequence that I go through each night to prepare my lunch for the following day. It keeps overnight in the fridge, no problem at all. And it all slips silently into an 8 propoint meal! If you are married to a weight watcher leader!

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Typical Ingredients that serves 2
Half a red onion (finely chopped)
Two hands of salad leaves (bagged or lettuce and rocket – chopped)
Stick of celery (finely chopped)
25g salad cheese (cubed)
Dozen black olives (chopped)
10 cherry tomatoes
One pepper (finely sliced)
4 mushrooms (finely chopped)
Tablespoon chick peas (or sweetcorn, butter beans)
Boiled egg (sliced)
75g Boiled ham (sliced)
2 teaspoons of dressing or chutney or piccalilli
Pinch of salt and pepper

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Basically I put all the salad ingredients in a big bowl, finely chopped. I then slice the protein (egg and ham) and put into the large triangular box and seal with the lid. I put the dressing or relish in the small triangular tub. The trick then is to pour all the salad into the centre. By chopping finely you can pour in and force it all down and pile up to overflowing. Clamp on the top and store for use.

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When at work simply tip everything into the large bowl and mix the relish and the protein ingredients together and start chomping. It makes a filling, healthy, tasty treat, or with minimum fuss.
Any weight watchers out there? This little lot would set you back 8 propoints, but if you take out the cheese, olives and supplement with more salad you could whittle down to 5. You can of course mix this around. Sometimes I put a tin of sardines as the protein or chicken or whatever you have. Obviously you can change the salad stuff as well. The key really is to finely chop so you can squeeze more in. Shredded carrot works well in there as well.
Box Appetit is available at a lot of good cook shops. They cost about £16. They are often found in trendy designer shops but if all else fails go to http://www.black-blum.com

Cauliflower Rice – A no carb, no points accompiament

It might be difficult to believe but maintaining the cook twit’s svelte like figure takes some doing. A couple of back to back restaurant reviews can easily add serious poundage to the cook twit frame. I have to let you into a secret. Erstwhile cohort ‘the flame’ doubles up through the week as a weight watcher leader. This means that through the week serious effort is made in ensuring we enjoy a guilt free weekend. Anyone who has attempted to lose weight will have heard the mantra. Eat more calories than you burn off, you put on weight. Eat a balanced diet, plenty of veg and fruit, less sugar, less fat, we’ve all heard it. The ideal weight watcher food = zero propoints. 

Well here we have it, welcome to ‘zeropoints’ Cauliflower Rice.
I wouldn’t say it was an outright replacement for rice. It’s not quite as forgiving with very wet sauces, I’m sure it would ‘mush up’ a bit but generally this is a no carb, no fat replacement.
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1) Firstly take the humble cauliflower. I used a medium sized one here. Chop in half, half again and discard the centre stalk or core. Basically you want the florets.  
2) add the florets into a food processor and blitz for about 10 seconds. This will reduce the florets to rice sized grains. I dare say you could use a hand grater at this stage but it would take a lot longer.
3) collect in a large bowl. A medium cauliflower produces about 300g of ‘rice’. I used 75g per person in the photo. If you have any over, put in a bag or container and freeze.
4) to cook, I dry fried 150g of the grains in a non stick frying pan on a medium heat. I added a pinch of salt, some pepper and a few shakes of paella seasoning. I reckon you could add herbs, or other fine spices at this stage for a bit of flavour.
5) dry fry for a few minutes stirring occasionally. The grains have moisture and so by the time they have warmed through they will have dried out as well leaving a real ‘rice’ like texture.
6) I served with a chilli con carne, but I reckon you could add a curry or any other dish you might consider with rice. 
Its a great way of getting through what is often considered a boring, but nonetheless good for you vegetable.
As I said, no carb, no points, no fat, low GI food that fills you up with goodness. Give it a try. 

 

Nigel Slater’s Pork Rib Ragu with Papperdelle Pasta

Pork seems to having a bit of a renaissance. Since the pulled pork explosion hit the trendy food scene it seems there are lots of cooks looking to add it tot he menu. I’ve always loved a bit of pork. Luckily I live close to Red Bank Farm in Newton le Willows (one of my food heroes! @RedBankFarmShop). They grow pork and sell it.
Nigel Slater, celebrated tv food writer and cook showed on his quick suppers show how to create an unctuous ragu using pork ribs and some good honest british veg. it takes a bit of cooking time but it is simple to construct and well worth doing. I made my own pasta but you can always buy your own if mixing flour and egg seems a bit of a chore!

To feed six you would need

2 sheets of ribs, cut down into three ribs wide
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
500g mushrooms, finely chopped
Olive oil
1 litre of stock

1) in a big pan with a lid brown the ribs in a bit of oil. Once all browned remove and put to one side
2) in the remaining oil sweat the onions, carrots and celery until starting to soften
3) add the mushrooms for a few minutes, then add the stock.
4) add the ribs and any juice, make sure they are covered.
5) bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with the lid and leave for at least 3 hours.
6) after 3 hours you should find that you can reach in with a pair of tongs and grab the end of a rib bone and pull it out leaving the meat in the stew. If you can do that it is done.

If its a bit watery take the lid off for a bit to reduce. If your feeling really cheffy you can chop a big hand of parsley in now as well! You may need to add some freshly ground black pepper and season with a few pinches of salt.
I served it in a bowl on pappardelle pasta with some Parmesan grated over the top.
I’ve got to say it was flippin awesome. Great for an autumn supper!
Thanks to Nigel Slater for this. It is in his Kitchen Diaries 2 book. He’s a good follow on Twitter as well. @NigelSlater