Archive for the 'recipes' Category

Tom Clancy mushroom book recycling

Monday, July 7th, 2014


I feel this is for the better really. It stops someone else reading this rubbish.

Rustic Mushroom Co book recycling kit

Making Nigel Slater’s 20 frozen lasagnes

Sunday, December 29th, 2013


That’s a lot of ingredients! The recipe is this one from Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen.

Making the ragu:


To give you an idea of the quantity of meat sauce, it only just fits in my second-largest pan:


The recipe is for 20 takeaway portions, so I’m using 18 trays plus a bowl for me to eat tonight.


I feel like I’m working in a frozen lasagne factory.

Here’s what they look like after assembly. Note the “breadcrumbs” are 1 packet of Blue Dragon Japanese panko from Waitrose:


All packets ready to go in the freezer:


The final taste was pretty good. It’s been a very long time since I’ve eaten a frozen lasagne from a supermarket, but this was far better than any I remember.

Some observations about this mega-recipe:

  1. It took me most of the afternoon to make (2pm-7pm, not full time). It would have been even longer if I’d decided to make the pasta from scratch too.
  2. There is surely far too much liquid in the original recipe; I used only 2 pints of stock (instead of 4 pints in the recipe), and even that was almost too much.
  3. I nearly ran out of meat sauce, but I guess that’s because I’m making > 20 tray-sized portions, since my meal for tonight is probably bigger than two trays.
  4. I don’t think the basil oil is necessary, but you could use fresh basil shredded up (added just before packing).

Still, it was pretty interesting mass-producing food like this, and the contents of the tray do look quite a lot like the frozen lasagne that you get in the supermarket (prior to cooking).

Austerity Britain bean burger

Saturday, April 27th, 2013


From this recipe as featured on the BBC today. The picture is not great but it was really delicious.

Potato and celery soup

Sunday, January 20th, 2013


Onion potato celery white wine sour cream. Served with onion bread. Excellent for snowy evenings.

Snails 2

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

After feeding them on lettuce for 3 weeks I starved them in the refrigerator for a couple of days:


Plunged into boiling salty water, for 12 minutes:

Sushi, playing with a stick. It’s her favourite toy now:

Garlic and parsley:


After boiling them, I drained them and extracted them from their shells:

Fried in garlic and butter:

The result, with a bit of parsley:

We all agreed they tasted a little bit like slimy mushrooms. An enjoyable day was had by all in the garden.

Thanks to P-p for taking the photos.

Curry bread

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Bread with cumin, coriander seeds and turmeric. The dough was made for naanbreads originally, and the bread was made with the leftovers.

Haddock and bacon chowder

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The recipe was from here. Easy and delicious.

Pork and pears

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Roast pork belly and pears recipe from the Times.

In case the Times decide to put it behind a paywall, here is this recipe:

2kg pork belly, bone in, skin scored by the butcher into 1cm strips
Cider vinegar
3 plump cloves of garlic
Fine salt and freshly ground pepper
8 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
4 red onions, peeled and quartered through the root
4 pears
125ml dry cider
200ml chicken stock

Eight hours before you want to eat, place the pork, skin side up, on an oven rack in the sink and pour over freshly boiled water. This helps open up the fat to create good crackling. Dry the skin thoroughly, then brush with cider vinegar. Place uncovered in the fridge for at least four hours, ideally overnight. If you don’t have time, dry thoroughly with kitchen towel.

Mash the garlic cloves with a pinch of salt. Strip the leaves from 4 of the thyme sprigs and add to the garlic. Stir in the olive oil.

Place the pork, skin side down, in a large roasting tin. Season the flesh generously, then poke a few shallow holes between the bones with the point of a knife. Massage the garlic mixture into the meat. Turn skin side up, tucking the bay leaf underneath, and leave at room temperature for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Dry the pork skin again, then scatter with a good tbsp of salt and massage in well. Place in the oven, skin side up, and cook for 1 hour. Add the onion quarters and stir until coated with the fat. Return to the oven for 30 minutes.

Turn the onions, then halve the pears and add to the roasting tin, cut side down. Scatter with the remaining thyme. After 15 minutes, turn the pears and increase the oven temperature to 240C/475F/Gas Mark 9. Cook for another 20-25 minutes or until the skin is puffed and crisp. The meat should be juicy but cooked through, the onions caramelised and soft, the pears on the verge of collapse. Transfer everything to a serving dish and keep warm.

Tip off most of the fat from the pan, leaving behind the meaty juices. Place on the hob, pour in the cider and allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes – scrape all the caramelised bits off the bottom. Pour in the stock and bubble for a few minutes more. Taste and season.

Carve the pork at the table, cutting between the bones into rustic ribs.

Courgette soup

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

This recipe along with 2 lbs of our own courgettes, our own basil, and our own chives, was very delicious.

Raw avocado soup

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I really need to try this raw food recipe by Ani Phyo:

Banana “ice cream”

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Everyone is talking about how you can freeze bananas, blitz them, and you end up with “ice cream”.

I made it. It takes a bit like a frozen smoothie:

Potted fish

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Potted shrimp and potted mackerel.

This was very simple to make:

  1. Take a whole pack of butter [makes two ramekins as shown], and melt on a low heat. Add garlic.
  2. Grill the fish, or use a pre-cooked or smoked fish.
  3. Clarify the butter (filter out all the “bits” in it).
  4. Then put the clarified butter back on the heat and add chilli / cayenne pepper / paprika / thyme / rosemary to taste.
  5. Put the fish into the ramekins and cover with the hot butterfat.
  6. Place in the fridge overnight.

You can “pot” just about any meat or fish.

Fat Rascals

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Fat Rascals are a type of fruit scone traditionally made in York and Harrogate (particularly at Betty’s of York Tea Rooms). This recipe is a simple one from the Waitrose web site. The cherries are from Netherbury’s cherry liqueur.

Inside, it’s lemony:

My nikujaga

Friday, May 28th, 2010

This was the recipe I used and the result this time wasn’t too bad, although I found it a little bit too watery compared to the “real thing”.

How to make Japanese curry powder from scratch

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I need to try this …

How to caramelize onions

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Orwell on Tea

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

(From an article George Orwell wrote for the Evening Standard in 1946, hence the references to rationing)

If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

Making soap

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Monty Don’s guide to making soap

  1. Soap is simpler to make than you might have thought. You’ll need olive oil, organic palm or coconut oil, and beeswax pellets.
  2. Heat the ingredients together on the stove to about 54 degrees centigrade stirring regularly.
  3. Now for the tricky bit. Soap is produced when the oils which are acidic are mixed with lye.
  4. Lye is sodium hydroxide or caustic soda, a powerful alkali. When powdered lye is added to water it heats up, add the hot lye water to the melted oils, taking great care to avoid splashes as these will burn, and stir until the mixture thickens.

  5. After this is done, you can add any colourings, fragrance and softening oils – for example, honey and sweet almond oil.
  6. Pour the raw soap into a mould for setting and curing which is a maturing process needed before the soap is ready and safe to use.
  7. Finally turn the soap out of the mould and cut to the desired shape.

Bubble and squeak

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

This is ridiculously easy to make, and very tasty. It’s a kind of English okonomiyaki. Just mash up yesterday’s roast potatoes and veg and mix with lots of eggs.

Here is the Wikipedia page on bubble and squeak.

Japanese stollen recipe

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Apparently a better stollen recipe (English translation).