Saturday, 17 December 2011

Braised Oxtail With Baby Vegetables

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Oxtail is one of those cuts of beef that is overlooked, but can be remarkably cheap if courced cleverly, and its perfect braising meat for winter. With the marbling effect that runs through the meat and the added ail bone marrow, the flavour of oxtail is rather hearty and fulfilling to say the least. This recipe uses that and has contributed elements to complement and harmonise the earthy flavours and overtones applicable.

This batch serves 10, so adjust accordingly. It is however freezeable if you wish to eat half and freeze half. It also cuts down the labour as youve then only to heat it up afterwards.

You will need (serves 10)

5 Kilo of fresh Oxtails
250g of smoked bacon
500g of carrots
6 Onions
500g of Celery
1 Head of Garlic
165g Tomato Puree
250g of Plain Flour
5 Liters of Veal or Beef Stock
2 Liters of Red Wine


3 Bay Leaf
6 Sprigs of Thyme
16 Sprigs of Parsley


Baby Carrots
Baby Leeks
Baby Turnips
Baby Fennel


Sweet Potato

Cut the vegetables ( carrots, onions and celery ) into rough large pieces

Bone the oxtail and cut into large pieces and to the vegetables

Add stock, bouquet garni , tomato paste and the garlic

Place in a fridge and marinade for 48 hours

Drain off the marinade and reserve, remove the oxtail and dry them
Season and brown the oxtail in a sauté pan

In a deep braising pan brown vegetables from the marinade with the smoked bacon

Add the oxtail

Lightly toast the flour in a oven and carefully stir into the marinade then cover the oxtail

Cover the pan with a lid and braise in a slow oven for 3 hours

Prepare the baby vegetables cook separately in salt water until tender and refresh

After the braising remove the oxtail from the cooking stock

Reduce the burgundy by half and add to the stock

Strain off the vegetables

Reduce the cooking stock reduce by half

Correct the seasoning

Reheat the oxtail with the cooked vegetables with the jus lie

Serve with the baby vegetables and creamed potatoes

Sunday, 11 December 2011


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This is a dish I've always liked - combining several of my favourite things - a wet(ish) rice dish, seafood, meat and a warming spicy element. Its kinda like paella but the other way around. This recipe I suppose is quite generic, but it provides a means to start from and to add or deplete whatever you like to suit your palate. Its also very hearty and warming - which I think is perfect for this time of year.

Posted specially for Trudy who has struggled to find a good jambalaya recipe - may this be a good starting point on your palates journey.

You will need:

tbsp vegetable oil
3 rashers smoked bacon (copped into 1cm pieces)
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 large red onion chopped to 1cm dice
2 celery storks chopped to 1cm dice
350g long grain rice soaked in cold water for 30 mins, and drained
300ml good quality chicken stoc
300ml good quality fish stock
glass dry white vermouth or white wine
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
tsp paprika
tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 large pepper, chopped to 1cm dice
1 can / carton chopped tomatoes
125g cooked ham, chopped
125g prawns (raw) (king or tiger preferred)
125g cooked chicken, chopped
tsp chopped parsley
tsp chopped chives

The doing bit

Heat the oil in a pan and add the bacon, celery, peppers, garlic and onions. Cook until soft. add the cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin. Cook out for a further 2/3 minutes. Add the rice until the rice is coated in the oil, then add the wine, and then the stock and the bay leaf. Bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 mins. Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil again, then reduce to a simmer and cover for a further 5 minutes.

Stir in the ham, chicken and prawns and recover the pan. cook for a further five mins (or until the meat and prawns are cooked through).

Transfer the mixture to a serving pot, and garnish with the herbs. Serve immediately.

Optional: Finish also with lemon or vanilla butter you'll find it a wonderful variation.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Pork Cobbler

image courtesy of

For me cobbler dishes are the epitomy of winter food - the provide a very hearty meal experience, whilst also giving a comfort element. In particular this recipe provides maximum flavour through marinade and slow cooking, to give comforting texture and fully developed tones to leave you feeling comforted and fulfilled.

Provided specially for a Michael a good friend of mine, who will adore this recipe again and again.

Ingredients (serves 5)

For the marinade

4 Teaspoon of Crushed Black Peppercorns
1 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon of dried Oregano
1 Teaspoon of dried thyme
7 Cloves of garlic halved
5 Tablespoon of soft brown sugar
2 Table spoon of olive oil
1.5 table spoon of white wine vinegar

Combine dry ingredients in a blender. Add the oil and vinegar gradually, once the other ingredients are combined

1k Diced Pork
100g of pitted olives
10 Sage leaves
15 prunes pitted
75g of unsalted butter
3 Large onions finely chopped
3 Large carrots diced
300ml of stout or guiness
450ml of chicken stock
200ml of double cream
150g of dried apricots soaked

For the Cobbler crust

200g self-raising flour
85g shredded suet
50g butter
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
beaten egg , to glaze

The doing bit

Coat the pork in the marinade and leave overnight

Remove the meat from the marinade and dry

Sauté off the onions, once coloured remove from the pan, then seal off the meat

Place the onions and meat in a large oven tray together with the stock, stout, carrots, prunes, sage and olives.

Braise for two hours

In the meantime prepare the cobbler crust:

sift the flour and season. Combine the suet, butter and parsley and lightly mix together. Make a well in the middle of the mix, then add the lemon zest and juice and gently bring together to make a soft dough. If it is too dry, add a little cold water or milk, but don't knead the dough or it will become tough.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4in thickness. cut the dough into pieces the size of your dishes and set to one side,

Remove meat and most of the vegetables, blend the juices and strain add cream to the juices

Reduce the liquor by a third check the seasoning, glaze with butter

Combine with the meat and vegetables to this add the apricots  

Divide the mix into 5 pie dishes (or 4 if more appropriate). Top the dishes with the cobbler dough and brush with egg and milk mix. Return to oven at 180C until tops are golden brown and pork mix is piping hot.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Chilli Con Carne (with attitude)

Sure we all know how to make chilli, for most of us its a bit of a no brainer. That said different people have different preferences as to what they want out of a chilli. For me, its a dish that is hearty, has a certain level of sweetness and heat, but not overly enough to negate its enjoyment. At a party last night I was asked about making chilli, and the best way to get it as hot as possible.  The key thinking here is indeed which chillies you are going to use, as some are hotter than others as we know. This recipe uses a couple of neat tricks to elevate the heat of a chilli without going overboard with it with the use of ginger. Here's the science bit: The perfumery note of ginger is alot higher than chilli, and will t herefore make the palate think its more acidic (hence more spicy). It also gives a nice clean edge to the dish. The use of chocolate also adds a smooth texture in its finish. You wont be dissapointed.

This recipe is dedicated to Marc & Brad, who requested this recipe. May it serve you well. Feel free to add any mushrooms or other ingredients you wish to add to a chilli - i know everyone has their own favourites. This recipe is just for the basic chilli (with a few tweaks).

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 red onions finely chopped
4 cloves crushed garlic
500g beef / lamb / mutton mince. The choice is up to you, but youll get the most out of this if you use mutton or lamb
4 chopped red chillies (jalapeno will be fine). Keep seeds in for more heat
2 green chillies
1/2 a thumb of grated fresh ginger, or a tablspoon of ginger paste
2 tbsp tomato puree.
can or carton of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Can red kidney beans (you can save time by using the canned ones as theyre already soaked and cooked)
tsp rock salt
4 tsp grated dark chocolate.

The doing bit

In a large pan saute the onions and mince together until coloured. Add the chillies and garlic and continue cooking until chillies begin to soften. add the ginger and kidney beans, then cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the salt and stir in, along with the balsamic vinegar. When the liqour has reduced by about half and beings to almost froth, add the tomato puree and mix well. Cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes then add the tomatoes and bring the mix to a boil, then simmer stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about a third.

Taste, and season accordingly. You may wish to add more ginger for more heat if required. If you are happy with it and are ready to serve, fold in the chocolate and cook for a further 3 minutes.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Roast Loin of Venison with curly kale, & caramelised fig tartlet

Image courtesy of cheshire wildlife trust

Venison is a wonderful meat, and using the loin here shows respect to its wonderful texture and flavour. I have kept the construction of each component seperate so that you cam omit and replace other things if you wish. The whole dish however provides wonderful flavours and textures, coupled with all the expected luxury elements used with the festive season. Its an ideal alternative to Christmas, boxing day or new years dinners, and will delight the palates of your guests. Its also quite aromatic and can be a good introduction to palates not yet graced in the wonderful ways of the venison.

You will need (Serves 4)

(For the kale) You can substitue savoy cabbage here, or even spinach. Adjust cooking times accordingly.

450g of Curly Kale

Steam the Kale or 5 minutes, then glaze with butter, seasoning and nutmeg

4 x trimmed 200g of venison loin possible barrelled rolled
2 Rasher smoked bacon (per serving)

Wtap Loin barrels in bacon, and seal in a hot pan, season once coloured on all sides roast for 12 minutes for medium 20 for well done. Be sure to let the meat rest before serving.

For the Sauce

50g of finely diced shallots
8 crushed black pepper corns
300ml of high quality veal or chicken stock
Grated zest and the juice of an orange
Teaspoon of grated dark chocolate
Tsp demerera sugar

Saute pepeprcorns and shallots together giving a little colour (until soft). Add brandy & flame, then add orange juice, sugar and zest when flames have subsided. Allow syrup to form then add stock and reduce by half. Fold in chocolate
just before serving.

For the fig tarts

200g of Puff Pastry
Flour for dusting
6 Figs cut in half lengthways
50g of Butter
2 tablespoon of nut oil/ olive
1 beaten egg
6 teaspoon of Demerara sugar
Cracked black pepper
Pinch of sea salt

Roll out the puff pastry and cut out 4 rectangles about 10cm by 7 cm

Place the pastries on a slip mat, and prick them lightly with a fork now chill for 30 minutes
Pan fry the figs cut side down in hot oil and butter till coloured
Place three of the fig halves on each, with the open side up.
On top of each of the figs put some butter, sugar, black pepper and a little sea salt

Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200C

Plate and serve. Devour.

Thai Green Chicken & Banana Curry

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You can't beat a good hearty curry especially during the colder months. It gives a wonderful full feeling when eaten and the spiciness of the dish leaves a tingling sensation to the palate. It also a very warming and hearty dish that's ideal for sharing. This recipe is very well suited to a slow cooker also, so for a preparation no brainer it can be prepared int he morning and left to fettle of its own accord until dinnertime.

Yesterday I went to visit an old friend and head chef Ian, who I hadn't seen for a year or so. Catching up is always a refreshing experience, and although my visit was business in part (he needed help setting up some things online), it was incredibly nice to once again chew the cud and wish each other well for the festive season and the new year ahead.

Amongst the many palate hugging delights i was compelled to taste during my visit, (the home made mince pies, and vegetable broth for lunch with home made bread were a triumph), after we had sorted out our online business I was treated to dinner - which consisted of this wonderful curry with banana.  The presence of the banana wasn't announced, and tucking in I discovered it much to my delight. "ooh banana"Ii exclaimed with delight. Ian chuckled to himself, realising his own secret victory. Rice pudding was offered for dessert, which i had to decline. I was well and truly full.

This recipe serves a large batch, but don't feel obliged to eat it all in one go. If you are serving the larger family there should be enough here for seconds (or even thirds). Any leftovers are easily frozen and can be reheated for those who require a quick lunch or dinner etc. If like me you do this and take leftovers to work, the enjoyment will carry on  for much longer after. The resonant vapours may also tease your fellow workmates. If this is the case, feel free to share this recipe.

5 Tablespoons of green curry paste (Home made is preferable)
100ml of olive oil
6 Cloves garlic, crushed
2 Stem of lemon grass, tender part only chopped finely
5 Lime leaves, shredded
8 Tablespoons of ground coriander
1600ml of coconut milk
20 chicken thighs, skin removed
6 Green chillies
50g of Torn basil
4 Table spoons of Nam Pla sauce
3 Tablespoons of Lime juice

Fry off the garlic and curry paste in the oil

After about three minutes, add the lemon grass; lime leaves and half the coconut milk, until the sauce splits

Add coriander, chicken, banana and chillies and simmer for 15 minutes

Add remainder of the coconut milk and cook for a further five minutes

Just before serving fold in the basil, fish sauce and lime juice

Serve with sweet potato wedges and or coconut rice. Enjoy!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Christmas Turkey Pie (for Beau)

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I've always been fond of turkey as a rule. I hear so many people whinge and complain that they aren't much for it because it's dry - to be honest i think they must be doing something wrong as i've always found turkey to be quite succulent. I suppose the key to this is keeping it covered, moist and well basted during cooking. Nobody wants a dry turkey.

This recipe is posted at the request of Beau - who desires a "family sized, festive Christmas Turkey Pie". I agree with him - there are too many turkey and leek pies out there, and granted they may be nice - they're not impressive and don't entirely fit the festive periods ideal.

This recipe can work for you in a variety of ways, giving scope to use up any leftover turkey from festive dinners, or you can calso buy cheap cuts of turkey from a supermarket that are ready year round. You can also make this in advance and freeze it in readiness for baking at a later point, providing adequate convenience to suit your busy schedules.


(makes a family sized pie serving roughly 4)

500g Shortcrust pastry (recipe can be found here) (you may want to double the amounts though)
2 or 3 Turkey legs
200g is bacon cut into 1/2 cm pieces
1 large onion (1/2 scored and studded with 3 cloves, other half chopped finely)
3 bay leaves
1 stalk celery chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped finely
1 leek chopped finely
100g chestnut mushrooms. Use porcini if feeling extra festive.
Handful fresh cranberries or redcurrants.
tbsp raisins
Pinch nutmeg and cinnamon
Zest 1 orange
2 cloves garlic crushed
200ml whole milk
200 ml chicken or turkey or game stock
1 and 1/2tbsp plain flour
tbsp butter
tbsp Fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
tbsp fresh tarragon
100ml white wine or dry martini
50 ml sherry

Roll out the pastry and line a suitable dish for cooking our pie. Reserve enough of the pastry for the lid

Preparation: Strip the meat from the turkey legs, be sure to discard any of the small bones. keep the skin if you can. Cut the meat into equal sized pieces (about 3/4 inch should do it). Set to one side.

In a pan saute the 1/2 onion first until soft then add the carrot, celery garlic and mushrooms. Allow to colour and soften then add the turkey meat and herbs. when the turkey meat has coloured nicely, set to one side and cover the pan to keep it warm.

While the main flavours are cooking in a seperate pan infuse the milk with the studded onion and bay leaves. Bring up to temperature but do not allow to boil. Cook for about 15 mins at this heat.

In a seperate pan heat up the butter and add the flour bit by bit. When all the flour is added, strain the milk and add to the flour and butter mix until all liquid is added and the mixture is uniform. You should have a thick white sauce at this point. Keep it moving on a low heat and add the wine, then add the stock. Allow to simmer and reduce until roughly 1/3 of the original volume has evaporated.  This should take about 30 mins or so. Stir occasionally. When done, add the sherry combine this liquid with the turkey mix and if thick enough add to the pie dish (already lined with pastry).

Add the cranberries or redcurrants (or both) with the raisins and the orange zest. Sprinkle with pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Lid the pie and pinch the edges - make an air hole in the top. Brush the pie lid with milk then bake in the oven at 180C for about an hour, (longer may be required). Glaze with eggwash (1 egg and butter mixed) every 30 mins for extra shine.


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Pan seared chicken with red wine & mushrooms

Image courtesy of

A very simple dish that focuses primarily on flavour from our sauce which is made primarily from mushroom and red wine reduction. It does take a bit of time to make the sauce, but ideally no longer than the chicken takes to cook, so it can be preapred all in one go.

I've left accompaniments absent as its quite a generic dish you can serve pretty much what you like with it. I would however reccomend mash or champ potatoes, and some root vegetables such as carrots, celeriac etc.

This recipe concentrates on doing the chicken in one pan and cooking in the oven, and using a seperate pan for the sauce. There is however nothing stopping you from doing it all in the one pan and not using the oven at all. Its up to you really. If you have a big enough pan, then go for it.

(serves 2)

2 Chicken breasts (skin on with wing bone) or 4 chicken thighs (deboned and skin on)
3 rashers smoked bacon (2 intact one chopped to 1cm square)
150g chopped muchrooms. (Ill leave the choice up to you but a mix of wild and closed cup works for me.)
6 shallots or 2 small onions (chopped to a 1cm dice)
Tsp tomato puree (optional)
Red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (3 tbsp)
Glass and a half of red wine or port
250ml chicken stock
3 cloves crushed garlic
Generous handful of rosemary & thyme
tsp demerera sugar
Salt & pepper
tbsp butter

250 ml chicken stock


Place one rasher of bacon under the skin of each chicken breast or 1.2 of a rasher under the skin of each thigh. Add some of the herbs int he same fashion (when stripped from the stem).

Sear the chicken in a pan skin side down. When coloured flip over and repeat for underside, then put on tray or in pan in the oven at 170C until cooked. This should give you enough time to cook the sauce.

For the sauce

In a saucepan saute onions / shallots,  chopped bacon and mushrooms until coloured, then add garlic. When they all begin to soften, Add the herbs, then add the vinegar and sugar until a syrup forms, (you can add the optional tomato puree at this point) then add the wine and reduce by half. Add the stock and reduce by half once again. When the sauce has reduced enough that it tastes to yourliking, fold in a little bit of butterand keep it moving to finish the sauce.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Garlic buttered chicken kiev with almond roast potatoes, mushroom fricasse & mangetout

Usually we would serve kiev as a late summer dish with roated tomatoes saute potatoes etc. But this late autumn dish incorporates a more earthy and hearty approach. The garlic providing a wondeful savoury tone, sweetness from the almond roasted poatoes, a creamy texture and earthy flavour from the mushroom fricasse, and definite crunch and bite from the mangetout.

Its quite filling, but will leave you wonderfully satisfied and with room for a dessert if you wish.

I cooked this a couple of weeks ago and it went down a storm :)


For the kiev

(makes 1)

tsp garlic butter
1 chicken fillet with small underside fillet still attached
soft white breadcrumbs
flour and beaten egg (for breading)
mixed herbs & salt & pepper

For the roast potatoes (serves 4)

4 large baking poatoes peeled and chopped into same sizes (for roasting)
flour & beaten egg (use above from chicken if need be)
ground or flaked almonds (ground are better but its up to you)
olive oil & salt & pepper

for the mushroom fricasse (serves 4)

150g Large Onion, finely chopped
150g of Wild Mushrooms, trimmed
150g of Button Mushrooms
100ml of White Wine
125ml of Double Cream
125ml of Dry Sherry Reduced by 2/3
10g of Chopped Tarragon
Parmesan shavings to taste



add salt & pepper ans herbs to breadcrumbs and set aside.

Trim off the underside fillet from the breast and flatten out with a tenderiser or rolling pin. wrap the garlic butter in the small flattened piece. cut a pocket in the underside of the breast and tuck in the parcel. Coat breast in flour, then egg then seasoned breadcrumbs. Reapeat as necessary for other breasts then lightly oil a frying pan and sear both sides of kiev until coloured. Place on baking tray then add to preheated oven at 200C until cooked.


Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until potatoes begin to soften. Remove from heat, strain and allow to cool slightly.Preheat oven to 200C then coat with oil,flour then egg, then the ground almonds and set in an oiled oven tray for roasting. lPace in oven and turn regularly for even cooking.


Sauté off the onion with the mushrooms till tender, add the wine and cream and reduce till thick add the sherry and reduce till a thick coating consistency. Finish with tarragon and parmesan shavings.


Drop into salted boiling water 2 mins before serving.

Assemble in the following order: fricasse, potatoes on the oustide spaced evenly, mangetout on fricasse, kiev on top.

Serve & devour.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Spiced Plum Chicken

This recipe combines oriental flavours and sweetness with a hearty rich approach for autumn and winter or even late spring. Considering my current love for all things sweet and spicy, I've included this dish as a pneumonicYou can substitute the noodles for rice or pasta if you wish, along with broccoli, asparagus, or chicory for the pak choi. Feel free to include mushroom,s bamboo shoots or water chesnuts for further enjoyment. Make it work for you.

(Serves 10 so divide by two for a family sized batch)
10 Chicken Supremes
4 Tablespoons of Chinese Five Spice
Olive Oil
1.25 Plum Victoria
Freshly grated nutmeg
100g of Caster sugar
400ml of Dry fino sherry
400ml of Chicken stock
Honey to taste

Mix together the five spice and some olive oil, this is to be rubbed on to the chicken breast prior to the chicken been sautéed. About 2 hours should be allowed for the marinade. Although the general rule is, the longer the better.

The sauce
Stone the plums then divide the plums into two lots, one half to be roast in a hot oven for 15 minutes in a deep roasting tray

Then add the stock and sherry and cook for a further 30 minutes check that the sauce is not getting to dry

Blend the sauce using a stick blender or food processor.

The other half of the plums, on a baking tray which has been pre oiled, season the plums with little sugar and nutmeg, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes

Serve with steamed pak choi and egg noodles

Let put this together

In a pasta bowl place in the centre the well drained noodles and on one half the steamed pak choi

Carve the chicken breast into a fan, place on top and to one side of the noodles

Run the sauce around the noodle at its base

Garnish with three roast plum halves. Devour.


Pan seared chicken with mixed bean cassoulet

Image courtesy of

This recipe is wonderful and hearty, and can be served year round for a filling dish. I do however favour eating this in the late autumn through spring. It is ideal for those cold days when you want to come home to a hearty warm and filling dish. It does take a bit of time, but you can make the cassoulet and freeze it in portions for later reheating. The rest is pretty much plain sailing. With this in mind you can have this ready inside 20 minutes, if the cassoulet is ready to go.

Posted at the request for James Crown, who required a hearty cassoulet dish.I hope it fits the bill :).

(serves 2-4)
150g OF Haricot beans
150g of Red Kidney beans
150g of Black eye beans
150g of Butter beans

All these to be soaked for 2 hours before cooking, drained then covered in fresh water seasoned cook for about 5 minutes then allowed to stand in this water for 30 minutes, then drain.

100g of smoked bacon or pancetta bacon
1 onion scored and studded with cloves (about 3)
1 Carrots diced
1/2 stick of celery stringed and diced
5 peppercorns tied in muslin
Fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic
1L  or roughly 2 pints of chicken stock
100g of chorizo sausage
Tomato puree to thicken

Place all the above ingredients into a pan omitting the chorizo sausage and simmer for about 11/2 hours.

Once cooked remove the onions and the peppercorns

For 1 serving:

Season the chicken and seal in a hot pan and finish in the oven

Reheat the cassoulet and add the chorizo sausage.

Serve in a pasta bowl with the chicken on top,

Finish with potato dish of choice