Monday, 20 July 2015

Korean Bone Broth

Bone brooth - a super cliche if you read the Guardian, the stock you've been making from carcasses for years if you don't. One of the good things about bone broth is that you eek out all the tasty goodness from bones so you can make the most of the animal who a) gave its life for you and / or b) you paid for. Honour and frugality, the cornerstone of any good woman cook*.

Here are some of the good things bone broth does according to the internet ('Wellness Mama' to be precise): a source of minerals / good for the immune system / improve digestion / high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus / high collagen content / apparently it can even eliminate cellulite! I'm not a nutritionist, so I'm not sure where the truth lies in that, but I do know that this is tasty and hearty and I do know that if it's been a long day then this will make you feel better.

This simple broth takes inspiration from a small Korean cook book which features basic Korean recipes and bad food photography. You're working with four main taste-makers: garlic (lots of garlic, a whole clove), ginger, chilli (or gochujang) and soy sauce.

Here's what I used:

Beef ribs
Stock veg - onion, celery, carrot (plus bay leaves and peppercorns)
Garlic (minced)
Ginger (peeled and grated)
Gochujang (a Korean sauce which is like super hot turbo ketchup, supposedly its as ubiquitous as ketchup is to us Brits in Korea) use chillies otherwise, but if you can get Gochu from an Asian supermarket then you should grab it.
Soy sauce
Thick slooply udon noodles
Spring onions

Here's what I did:

The cooking liquor of the meat is your soup. So I covered the ribs in water and added peppercorns, a carrot, a peeled onion and bay leaves, and boiled them for about 3 hours. When the meat was falling off the bone, I added sieved the liquor, removed the veg and other bits and pulled the meat off the bones in chunks using a fork.

In a separate saucepan, fry your garlic and ginger in sunflower or vegetable oil to take the raw edge off, and add your gochujang, followed by the soysauce, then add your stock / broth back and at this point you could add some chopped carrots and celery - perhaps also some mushrooms and cook for about 20 minutes. A little while before the end, you will need to add your noodles to cook through (packet instructions), and you will need to add the meat to heat back up. Garish with LOTS of coriander and spring onions.

Serve and slurp.

*Joking - dark ages.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Mary Berry's Bara Brith

Last week I was away on a gorgeous trip to North Wales. Having not had a distinct break from work since Christmas, this trip was just the tonic. We stayed in a beautiful house, right on the beach and went for wild walks and ate lovely food, and above all it was nice to be reminded to slow down and enjoy the view and the mountain flowers.

As an ode to Wales and a reminder to slow down once in a while, my boyfriend and I made a Bara Brith on Sunday. When coming back from a holiday on a trip, cooking something reminiscent of the trip can make the holiday seem to last so much longer.

The epitome of slow baking, the recipe we used (Mary Berry's, naturally) suggested that the currants and sultanas be soaked in tea overnight so that they go all fat and juicy. Waiting all night for the soaking really takes the impatience out of baking, you can relax for the evening; have a beer, and luxuriate in the fact that your hands will tied on the baking front until the next day. 

The baking itself is a doddle. You mix the fruit, flour, sugar, mixed spice and two eggs (yes, that's it), and bake for a really long time. We sat back and watched the tennis whilst the scent of the bara permeated the house. We ate ours in slices with a little butter and dreamed we were still kicking back on the Neolithic Coast of Anglesey, and not under the Heathrow flight path.

Queen Mary Berry's recipe was found here:

Lovely Rhosneigr - the view from our garden *sigh*
And some thoughts on eating in Rhosneigr: We were staying in a beautiful house with a well-equipped kitchen, so most of the eating was done at home. However we did treat ourselves to a few lunches and dinners out. And the best treat of all was the Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr. This was restaurant was a hop across the sand-dunes from where we were staying. The restaurant is elevated so you can see out across the Llyn Maelog lake. The food is very nice - I had a 'smoked fish platter' which was listed as a starter, and chips. They source the fish locally, which would be a crime not to when you're within 5 minutes of both the sea and a lake. The puddings were also good - Most notably the rice pudding, controversial choice from James - but the right one - the creamiest rice pudding I have ever tasted. As we were treating ourselves, we also had coffee - making for a very pleasant lunch all-in-all. One of the nicest things about the restaurant is the ethos behind it - it's a chef academy where young locals can fulfil their dreams of becoming a chef, and as it's a social enterprise, all their profits go back into training their staff. The prices are approaching London prices, and we did chalk up a £50 bill for lunch - but hey, a treat is well-deserved and the service, ambience and food were worth it.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Ottolenghi's Aubergine Risotto

Ottolenghi's aubergine risotto. Smokey, seductive and sharp.

Yes, I know - another Ottolenghi recipe. But, if you need to make something which will make people say 'did you really make this', or 'what's in this - it's delicious', then follow an Ottolenghi recipe carefully and await the praise to roll in.

I made this risotto for my boyfriend on a dark night around the start of January when we were cocooned in my kitchen waiting for Spring. He was impressed; and thus, this simple, wonderful, dish foretold the fact that my frost bitten kitchen of the drear month is now 'our kitchen'.

The recipe can be found here on The Guardian website. And, as I said - follow to the letter. Otto is a genius and must be obeyed. 

Now, go forth and charm everyone you know with this knock-out risotto.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A Big Fat Frittata

Remember a few years back there was an advertising campaign for eggs? The slogan was 'eggs: fast food and good for you', I remember thinking 'yeah, who doesn't know that', but in reality, I often forget that if I'm short on inspiration, time or energy then a frittata makes for a immensely satisfying supper. This one in particular, taken to delicious heights with chilli and chorizo.

What you need:
A little olive oil (for frying)
Around 100g (or more) chorizo
1 garlic clove (pressed)
1 green chilli finely sliced (seeds removed)
4 Eggs
1 handful of parsley
Salt and pepper
100g (or there abouts) strong grated cheddar

What you do:
Cut the chorizo into rounds and fry in the olive oil until it releases it's own orange juice oils. Add the garlic and fry it for a little bit. Add the chilli for mere moments to suck up some juice.

Break the eggs and whisk them in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper, and add most of the parsley, (keep a little parsley back for a pretty garnish). Tip into the pan with the chorizo and give it a jiggle. Put the grated cheese on top and cook the frittata away until it starts to set. Then move it to the grill and continue cooking. Transfer to a plate and top with the remaining parsley. Eat with bread and butter, maybe.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

One delicious breakfast: Chorizo and Avocado on Toast

Thank you world - the Easter bank holidays could not come a moment too soon. One thing which really is great about the back-to-back 4 days off is that there is time for a proper breakfasts. And a proper breakfast this is - salty spicy chorizo, satisfying avocado and chewy soughdough toast.

This will really set you up for the day, eat in the morning and you'll be so ready for that long refreshing walk you had planned to take (or watch re-runs of How I Met Your Mother on the sofa under a blanket - this is also a great hangover breakfast).

Here's what you do:

Thickly slice slithers of chorizo and fry them with a tiny of touch of olive oil so they go crisply.
Toast some soughdough bread, and yes, the quality of the bread is non-negotiable - you deserve it.
Drizzle the residual orange oil from the chorizo cooking pan over the toasted bread.
Pile the avocado and chorizo onto the bread. Add parsley and a squeeze of lemon (or lime). Eat whilst sitting next to a vase of fresh daffodils. Good morning.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Marzipan Crumble

Some evenings in January just demand it - a delicious fruit crumble.

My house-mate Clare came up with genius idea of adding a little marzipan to the crumble, so every few bites you get a delicious sticky, sweet, almond-y mouthful which might just cure your possible vitamin D deficiency when eaten on these long winter nights.*

There are no rules about making a crumble. This is home cooking at its best.

I chop up a selection of fruit (whatever I have lying around, on this occasion it was apples and plums), into equal sized small-ish pieces, and simmer them for about 15 minutes in a touch of water and some sugar. I don't tend to measure the sugar, you can taste if you need to add more once the fruit has cooked down.

Crumble - nowadays I estimate the amounts for the most part, once you've made a few crumbles you really get a feel for it, and in any case, it's very difficult to mess this up; just don't forget the sugar!

More or less: 100g butter, 100g flour, 50g oats, 50g sugar. Rub the oats, flour and butter between your fingers. Stir in the sugar. I feel my way around this more often than not, adding more oats, flour or sugar as I see fit.

Put the stewed fruits in the bottom of a baking dish. Then (here is the best part) cut your marzipan into little cubes and scatter over the fruit. Add your crumble topping and cook in a hot oven at 180 degrees or so for about 20 minutes. Serve in your prettiest china and with lots of cream.

Eat it, and go to bed dreaming of home...

* Not true.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

New Year health stuff

I know we call ourselves 'Girls who like to Gorge' - and I know we're also all sick of hearing about gluten free, chia seed-packed, no fat, no fun, healthy eating (or maybe that's just me) - but there is something about the New Year that makes me want to cut out the rubbish and ramp up the old fruit and veg intake. Lately I've made a habit of occasionally treating myself to a Wagamamas after the gym - usually I get out quite late, don't want to cook, and crave something fast that's not totally going to wipe out my exercising efforts.

My most recent discovery has been their donburi dishes - big bowls of rice, meat and veg. I chose brown rice because I actually prefer it to the sticky white option; I also ordered a massive clean green juice. What am I becoming? Anyway, it was totally delicious. What you're seeing here is the restaurant's beautifully presented version, but I did try and recreate it at home using long grain rice, chicken breast with a plum sauce, fresh grated carrot and a sprinkling of coriander and sesame seeds. Yum.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Ottolenghi Aubergine pahi

OK - so picture this, it's the first Sunday of the new year. It's cold and dark outside, you don't want to go back to work after the Christmas holidays. You need something delicious, satisfying and comforting which doesn't weigh you down. You know it has to be from a bowl so that you can cradle it whilst watching repeats of Miranda on your sofa.... This Ottolenghi aubergine and red pepper Sri Lankan dry curry type thing is just the ticket. It's hot and sour and really packs a punch, the aubergine goes all silky and unctuous, and suddenly you remember: life is awesome. So. Awesome.

Ottolenghi's recipe can be handily found here: on the guardian website.  There are a lot of steps, the frying and the salting - worth it? Yes. You will be handsomely rewarded for following the steps to the letter. Do you really need to use all that oil? Yes. I used cold pressed rapeseed - very nice, and apparently it's reasonably healthy.

Here are some cheats: I used dry curry leaves, still good. I made the spice paste without the use of a blender, just a good old garlic press and a grater for the ginger. Blender = so much fiddling and tricky washing up!

This is most wholesome and delicious served at room temperature and with brown rice. Also, wonderful eaten cold the next day for lunch with a little pitta bread - take that Monday blues!

This curry really is just the tonic - so ready to kick January in the ass now*!

* Partly true. Mostly I will be lounging in my pjs with my new Ottolenghi.