Recipes


Nuh uh, I don’t have a glut. We only have two courgette plants but together, they pump out enough courgettes to keep us feeling like we’re eating courgettes at every meal. Some days it’ll be a massive one the size of my forearm; other days I’ve got a handful of baby courgettes to use up. But a glut? Nah, surely that’s when you have more courgettes than you can use, right? Because we’re using up all our courgettes so far!

And anyway, they are succumbing to powdery mildew now and I’ll make a note that next year, I should stagger the plantings for a longer courgette season!

This recipe used up some courgettes and some of our chard as well; the latter is also pumping out leaves at a phenomenal rate! It’s a very versatile recipe – we ate it as it is or let it cool and mix with beaten eggs and turn it into a big omelette. Or even stir it through some pasta. It’s the garden in a pan!

Courgette and Rainbow Chard

Courgette and Chard Sauté
Serves 2

2 courgettes
A small bundle of chard
Olive oil
A handle of pine nuts
Shavings of pecorino Romano or some other hard cheese
Salt and freshly black pepper

Cut the courgettes and in a large sauté pan, cook them in a little olive oil over medium heat, stirring once in a while.

Meanwhile, clean your chard and separate stems from leaves. In a small pot of boiling water, blanch the stems and after a couple of minutes, add the leaves. Drain after a minute or two. Add the chard to the courgettes (which should be colouring by now) and stir.

Empty the small pot and put back over the heat. Add a little olive oil and toast the pine nuts, pulling them off the heat when they start to colour – the residual heat with continue to toast them.

Stir the courgettes and chard together and when all heated through, season. Stir through the pine nuts and plate, scattering the shaved cheese on top.

If you follow any of my other social media feeds, you can’t fail to notice that we’ve been consuming a lot of courgettes. Our two plants (one per person, based on advice I read online) having been pumping out the summer squashes and we can’t blink without another flower appearing. So far we haven’t got sick of them; this whole vegetable growing lark is still new and novel to me!

This recipe was initially going to be a courgette carbonara but I then thought I’d rather like to chuck in quite a bit of garlic and some chilli too. And I forgot I had some thyme outside and I reckon it would be quite good with that too. Apart from being quite tasty, it had the added benefit of coming together in about 15 minutes, perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Eggy Courgette Pasta

Courgette and Egg Spaghetti
serves 3 or 2 with leftovers for a lunch.

about 250-300g dried spaghetti
olive oil
3 small-medium courgettes
2 large cloves of garlic, fined minced
a couple of large pinches of dried chilli flakes
4 medium (or 3 large) eggs
about 30g of pecorino romano, finely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set of pot of water to boil. Salt it well and set the spaghetti to boil.

In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil over medium-low heat and add the minced garlic and chilli flakes. Let sizzle gently for a minute – you don’t want it to colour. Meanwhile, trim and grate the courgettes and then add all the gratings to the pan. Turn up the heat to medium and cook, stirring often.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs and pecorino with salt and lots of black pepper.

By the time the spaghetti has finished cooking, the courgette should be done. Turn off the heat for the courgettes in the sauté pan and add the drained spaghetti. Working quickly, pour over the eggs and then mix altogether well to get a creamy sauce. Serve.

The idea of using parathas instead of tortillas to make tacos came via a restaurant I passed while wandering around New York City. The place was called Goa Taco and the name was intriguing enough for me to note it down in my phone; however, it was only a couple weeks ago that I went through said notes and finally looked up their website. Yeah, there were tacos, but their shells were using flaky Indian flatbreads – parathas. Their fillings weren’t limited to Indian or Mexican ones either; anything went, really!

My thoughts turned to this idea on the weekend, when I needed to come up with some kind of brunch with what we had in our cupboards and fridge. It turns out sweet potatoes keep very well in my cupboards. While onions and regular potatoes tend to sprout faster than I can cook with them, the sweet potatoes are still firm and delicious; I now keep a few in my cupboards for days like this. And we always keep a packet of frozen parathas in the freezer. Oh yes, and that bottle of salsa verde (the Mexican kind made with tomatillos) needed using up. Yes, we had brunch!

Not too many leaves were required as they were mainly garnish in my first paratha taco! Definitely gonna blog this one soon.

Sweet Potato Paratha Tacos
serves 2 as a light brunch

2 small sweet potatoes or 1 large, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and smoked paprika
4 frozen roti paratha
Salsa verde
A handful of salad leaves
A large handful of grated cheese (I think mine was a Lancashire)
A handful of toasted seeds
A bit of fresh coriander

Fry the sweet potato slices with a little oil in a frying pan with a little heat. They should be soft in just a few minutes – let them colour a little. When they come out of the pan, dust them with a little salt and smoked paprika. In the same pan, cook the roti paratha according to package instructions. When they’re cooked, fold them in half and distribute the sweet potatoes between them. Dollop on the salsa verde and chuck in some salad leaves, grated cheese, toasted seeds and fresh coriander. Devour.

This was easy to put together last weekend thanks to the Taiwanese sandwich buns that are sold frozen in many Chinese shops. I bought mine at my local Wing Yip and I’ve found them online (for local delivery only) at Bristol’s Wai Yee Hong. They look petite when frozen but after their session in the streamer, they puff up and you quickly adjust your number of buns per person.

I filled mine with a very simple braised pork mixture that tastes fantastic in spite of its simplicity. It’s a bung it all into a pot and leave it deal. And I like to think that as I’m using pork shoulder instead of the usual fattier pork belly but really, that’s just me being a bit deluded. The work is really minimal and you’re rewarded with big puffy sandwiches filled with juicy meat.

Taiwanese Style Pulled Pork Buns

Taiwanese-Style Braised Pulled Pork

Pork shoulder, about 1.5 kg
Daikon radish, 1, peeled and cut into large slices
sunflower oil
100 ml light soy sauce
100 ml dark soy sauce
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 star anise
1/2 tsp five spice powder

Cut the pork shoulder into large chunks, trimming off the fat and skin. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add a little sunflower oil. Add the pork shoulder and brown on all sides. Cover with water and add the soy sauces, garlic cloves, star anise and five spice powder. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour. Skim if necessary. After an hour is up, add the daikon, adding more water if required and continue simmering for another hour. At this point, the daikon should be tender and the pork chunks falling apart at the prod of a fork.

Now to put together the sandwiches!

Taiwanese Pulled Pork Buns

Prepare the buns (my package said to steam for 15-20 minutes). Take a small handful of roasted peanuts and chop finely and mix with sugar. Chop some pickled mustard greens as well. Get some crispy fried shallots/onions. Clean a few sprigs of coriander.

Take a few pieces of braised pork and shred them using two forks, pulling the meat apart. Pile generously into the steamed buns. Add a slice of daikon if you wish. Top with some of the chopped pickles, peanuts, fried shallots and coriander. Eat.

I’m a huge fan of Cuban food. No, I’ve not been to Cuba; my only experiences have been in Florida and what I’ve had had been fantastic. I’ve been looking for Cuban food in London but most of the “Cuban” restaurants seem more focused on the vibe rather than the food. I’d have to figure out how to cook it at home.

Luckily, there are a lot of Cuban recipes online and many Cuban recipe blogs coming out of Florida. I recently learned of one classic French-inspired braised chicken dish called fricasé de pollo. One Saturday while working from home, I realised I had most of the ingredients to make this fricasé in my fridge. The recipe (I put together from various recipes on the internet) takes a little preparation beforehand in the form of marinading the chicken but as usual, it’s worth it. All the tomatoes and chicken and raisins give a richness and sweetness that’s perfectly balanced by the citrus juices and olives and capers.

Fricase de Pollo

Fricasé de Pollo
serves 3-4.

1 kg of chicken parts (I used drumsticks and thighs)
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 orange
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (I didn’t have this and left it out – it didn’t harm the dish)
2 bay leaves
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
1 scant teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup wine
about 200ml passata
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
a few teaspoons of capers
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsps roughly chopped parsley
3 small-medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

In a large non-reactive bowl, mix together the juices, the garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, a large pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Whisk this all together and then mix in the chicken parts, ensuring that all parts are evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight.

In a large and deep saute pan, heat a little olive oil over medium high heat. Dab each chicken piece dry with some kitchen paper (reserving the marinade in the bowl) and brown in batches. Set the chicken aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add a little more olive oil if required. Saute the onion and green pepper (if using) until translucent. Add the oregano, cumin and bay leaves and fry for another minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring up any chicken bits. Stir in the passata and place the chicken pieces back into the pan in one layer. Add just enough water to cover the chicken pieces. Add the reserved marinade, olives, capers, raisins, parsley, and potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cover.

When the potatoes and chicken are cooked through (mine were after about 30 minutes), serve. This is perfect over white rice and black beans if you have any.

I’ve been wanting to cook this Japanese dish for a long time. I say Japanese but to be more specific, taco rice originated in Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan and where the US military has a presence. I guess it’s no surprise then that this mishmash of Tex-Mex and Japanese cuisines developed there! There’s no carnitas or barbacoa here – we’re getting down and homey with seasoned minced beef. And the toppings are just as you’d find them at any proper Tex-Mex joint – shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes. And all of it on rice.

Taco Rice!

The dish is supremely comforting and I reckon we’re going to have it often. There’s the contrast of the hot rice and beef with the cold toppings and dare I say it? – I think it’s all even better on rice than on a tortilla!

Taco Rice
serves 2.

250g minced beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder/cayenne pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsps ketchup
100ml water
hot sauce to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
cooked white Japanese rice
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
chopped avocado
sour cream or Greek yoghurt
salsa

This recipe makes quite a mild taco beef mixture; increase the chilli powder and hot sauce for more heat. In a hot frying pan, heat the olive oil and fry the minced beef, breaking it up as you go along. When the beef has browned, add the cumin and chilli powder and continue frying for a bit. Add the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, water and hot sauce to taste and let it all bubble together slowly until you get a generally dry yet moist mixture. You’ll just know. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place some rice into a bowl or onto a plate. Top with the taco beef mixture and then some shredded cheese. Top with the rest of the ingredients as you desire and serve.

Winter time means soup time! It’s certainly chilly here in London and my frosty lawn is testament to that but I still find myself living vicariously through the east coast of North America and their snowmageddon (I miss the snow – c’mon, London, just one little dusting…). While I continue on in hope that snowflakes will come sometime this year, I’m making lots of soup in my kitchen.

This sweet potato soup was inspired by something very similar we had for lunch a while ago in Bistroy Les Papilles in Paris. It’s very simple too, with the main ingredients being just an onion and the sweet potatoes, of course. And I served it poured over a few ingredients placed at the bottom of the soup bowl. The only addition that is mandatory is the Greek yoghurt/creme fraiche – its tang is required to cut through the sweetness of the tubers. The rest is a bonus!

Greek Yoghurt, Croutons, Chorizo, Parsley

Sweet Potato Soup

Leftovers were even better – this bowl below was thinned a bit more and topped with just a few toasted seeds, a little black pepper and a blob of Greek yoghurt. And now I need to make more!

Leftover Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Soup
serves 4.

olive oil
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
6 small or 2 large sweet potatoes
a little bit of vegetable or chicken bouillon
salt and white pepper

To serve:
Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche (not optional!)
Parsley (optional)
Chorizo (optional)
Croutons (optional)
Toasted seeds (optional)

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and set aside.

Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Peel and chop the onion and cook in the pan until golden brown. Chop the garlic roughly and add it to the pan to colour a little. Add the sweet potatoes, the bouillon (I just chucked in a teaspoon of whatever I had) and add water to cover everything. Raise the heat to a boil, then reduce it and let it all simmer away until everything is soft.

Puree the soup using a hand blender or in a normal blender or if you don’t have that, mashing it all up works too. Or just leave it chunky – no one’s going to check! If it’s too thick, add water and ensure that it’s all heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, chop up some eating chorizo, make your croutons and chop your parsley. Either (a) place a quenelle of Greek yoghurt at the bottom of your soup bowl, scatter with the toppings and then ladle the soup in at the table, or (b) ladle the soup into the bowls, add a blob of yoghurt and scatter over the toppings. Serve.

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