Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cauliflower Cheese

I think it was Rick Stein who said that Cauliflower Cheese is one of the dishes that gave British food a bad name, and he is right, so often it is overcooked with a dreadful sauce. Cooked properly so that it is slightly al dente with some Green leaves and a splendid Cheddar Cheese sauce it is what can be brilliant about British Food.
Nursery food, filled with childhood memories it is delicious I had this as a Supper dish last night, the rest I will use with Sunday Lunch.

Start by buying a large Cauliflower as fresh as you can get with white florets and beautiful green leaves

Take out the core and cut into rough quarters, then break them down a little more but please use the leaves too. Simply bring a pot of salted water to the boil, place the cauliflower in and cook for exactly 8 minutes with the lid on and add to a dish.

I had made beforehand the Cheese Sauce, take half an Onion stud it with cloves and a Bay leaf and some peppercorns and about a pint of full fat Milk, bring it to the boil take it off the heat and let the flavours infuse for about twenty minutes. Pour into a jug through a sieve and discard Onion bay and peppercorn, grate a little nutmeg into it

In a saucepan add a large knob of butter gently melt it and add a tbsp of plain Flour and a Teaspoon of Mustard powder and cook it gently into a roux.

Add the milk a little at a time using a pointed spoon, then a whisk. Add some grated Cheddar Cheese about a good handful and stir it in.

Now pour over your Cauliflower top with a little extra grated Cheese and put under the hottest Grill for a few minutes until it is bubbling and browned on top. Truly Delicious

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Grog Tray

Gin O'clock as they say on twitter, I have always enjoyed a drink, Spirits, Sherry, Liqueurs, Wines, Champagne, Beers whatever, one of lifes little pleasures. Never trusted someone who doesn't drink, or Vegetarians why would I flawed characters depriving themselves of pleasure, simply not for me.

When I was young after Dinner Liqueurs or Cognacs were a fitting end to every Dinner in Restaurants, and at Home. I guess with drink driving and so on it has become a much rarer occurrence in Restaurants today and must have hit their profitability very hard. As for Cigars, extinct with the no Smoking laws, I wonder what on earth became of all those beautiful Humidors that took pride of place in virtually every Restaurant?

I have always maintained a Grog tray at home, can't imagine not, the exotic bottles sparkle and scream out to me to indulge in their delights. A refreshing Gin and Tonic with Ice and a wedge of Lime, a bed time Baileys, there is something very comforting about the allure of all those bottles sitting there, little treats and temptations of unadulterated pleasure.

Perhaps I am a dying breed. I have lots of Chums who hide the bottles away in cupboards as if they are a sinful indulgence, something that should be kept out of sight, something naughty.

I read an article the other day purporting that the drinks we drink put us into social or class categories. Utter nonsense I thought, lets face it we drink what we like, not because it would put us in some social set or category. Can't imagine judging anyone by what they drank
I know a titled Aristocrat who adores drinking Babychamp, he likes it, and if you like it, you should have it.

Rather a ramble this post but I assure you written sober, The Grog tray plays an important part in my life and perhaps yours too, so well worth a post, Cheers and to your very good health!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken Romano

I know traditionally this dish is covered in Breadcrumbs, but I thought it didn't need it! It never ceases to amaze me just how many different ways and recipes there are for Chicken Breasts and this is one of the easiest.
Simply cut with a sharp knife an incision into the side of the Chicken to make a little pocket. I then stuff with Chopped Basil Sun dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil and Mozzarella Cheese. Put it on a Roasting tray,  add some Sliced fresh tomatoes to the side, Glug of Olive Oil and some dried Oregano and Parsley on top of the Chicken and Tomatoes and put it in a preheated oven at 220c for half an hour.
I made a simple salsa of Chilli Fresh Basil Parsley and Spinach added Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and blitzed in the Blender and a simple Chickpea Puree.

When I took the Chicken out the oven I seasoned well and let it rest for about ten minutes. This is an easy tasty little dish when you are in a hurry. I had a bottle or two of ice cold Orvieto which was light and crisp and went very well with the dish.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

French Style Peas

Who doesn't like Peas must be the most popular vegetable, and the one when frozen that still tastes sweet and delicious. The French prefer tinned Peas, I from time to time get some fresh peas love them but time consuming podding them all, but Boy Oh Boy worth it.

Start with a large knob of Butter in a skillet and just cook off a finely chopped Shallot until it is translucent. I also sometimes use thinly chopped Spring Onion, add a tbsp of Plain Flour and stir, a dash of White wine or Noilly Prat stir all together add your Peas and two cups of Chicken stock.
Cut a gem Lettuce length wise into quarters and add to the pan with some fresh Mint and Parsley, serve straight away, you want to keep some firmness to the lettuce.

It's delicious, you can of course add Leeks or Carrots too.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Boulangere Potatoes

Another French classic that I cook a lot, couldn't be simpler and couldn't be more flavoursome. Boulangere Potatoes take their name from the days when people would take their pots of Potatoes to the bakers to cook in the bakers ovens.
Slice very thinly Potatoes then slice equally thinly Onion and in a buttered dish layer Potatoes then Onions then Potatoes and so on, I added some dried Parsley and Fresh Rosemary seasoning each Layer, Now add lots of knobs of Butter on the top and add Chicken stock halfway up the dish, Then some Milk until it is three quarters full. Place in a preheated Oven for around an Hour until the surface is crisp and golden the underneath is tender and creamy. It is delicious the Potatoes soak up all the stock and herb flavours.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Boeuf a La Bourguigonne

I absolutely Love the classic French dishes made popular by Elizabeth David and Julia Child in the 1960's, The dishes I knew growing up in every French Bistro with Menus written on blackboards and wine by the Carafe and above all inexpensive, they are long gone, along with the typewriter.

I lived in France for a while and people talk about authentic French food, such nonsense these dishes are as old as the Hills and everyone cooks them differently, lets face it, these were peasant country dishes people who use what they have. This is my version which I learnt whilst living in France from Madame Duroc a wonderful farmers wife who cooked the best food I have ever tasted.
I start by taking the chopped shin of Beef  in cubes out the fridge an hour before I intend to cook. Seasoned well with Pepper not Salt and sprinkled with plain Four about a tbsp, and fry in a casserole dish at high heat in Olive Oil to Sear the meat adding colour, then take out and reserve on a plate.

Now add a chopped onion and fry, Stirring all the time as this softens add some large chunks of Carrot, and some smoked Bacon Lardons, keep stirring,as this begins to take on colour add the browned Meat and half a bottle of Red Wine, I used a Hermitage, marvellous, but any good Red will do preferably French. Now add enough Beef Stock, I made a proper Beef Stock with the Bones, to top up so everything is covered, I add a Bouquet Garni of Thyme , Rosemary and Bay tied with some string. bring to a boil, place the lid on top, and place in the Oven at 140c for 3 and a half hours.

After 3 and a quarter hours add some Shallots and button Onions to a pan of hot Oil and Butter and Brown shaking the pan constantly. Put them with the meat and give it a good stir.

About ten minutes later fry some Button Mushrooms and if you have them, Porcini in butter to give them colour Flambe in Brandy and pour the Mushrooms and residual sauce into the Casserole dish.

Give it another fifteen minutes take the casserole out the oven, season Generously with Rock Salt and sprinkle with fresh Parsley.

What a fabulous Rich dish, I served with Boulangere Potatoes and French Style Peas, Excellent.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Arroz con Pollo San Pedro

I first had this dish years ago on holiday in Mallorca, but it is in fact an Andalusian dish. Its very much like Paella only with more "soup" but I prefer it all those delicious juices to mop up with Crusty bread and a great dish to make for a lot of people.

Traditionally made in a terracota pot, but I used a skillet. Add a generous glug of Olive Oil to a hot pan, add cubed chicken breast, you could add Quail and Rabbit too, I just didn't have any to hand, brown slightly the meat and add a finely chopped Onion, keep stirring after a few minutes add chopped Red and Green Pepper, cook those out for a few minutes then add about a cup of Cigala Paella Rice and stir it around. Add some Paprika Picante and Oregano and some diced cured Chorizo. I also add some chopped Potato but it is not necessary
Pour two glasses of a decent dry White Wine, pour one in the pot the other in the Tradition of all good cooking, drink yourself!

Now add half a tin of crushed Tomatoes, I used a whole tin by mistake, but half would be better and around a pint of Chicken Stock infused with Saffron. Let the whole dish Simmer gently on low heat for twenty minutes to half an hour. Season generously

Before serving add some Green Olives with Pimenton, Serve with fresh chopped Parsley. For this dish to be very good it is essential you use the freshest Peppers or it simply won't work. Cheers enjoy

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chorizo And Cannellini Beans

Temperatures have fallen in Andalusia after a Scorching hot and humid Summer, The skies have at last clouded over and there is a strong breeze blowing across from the Atlas Mountains. Autumn is here and very welcome it is to.

This dish is so simple but so hearty one of the first dishes I had in Spain years ago. It is Cannellini Beans cooked in stock, see my previous post , simply topped with some sliced Picante Chorizo fried with a little Oil, and pour the oil from the pan over the dish and top with Chopped Parsley.

It is so good, far better than you would imagine served with some crusty bread and a bottle of Rioja.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I adore Lasagne, well my Lasagne, not at all keen on those rather dry stiff efforts you get in Restaurants, I think it works best with a lot of sauce.

I start by making a basic Ragu, fry onions and some crushed Garlic in an Olive Oil until softened but not browned then I add Beef mince and stir until it looks cooked I add a tin of Tomatoes Oregano Thyme Rosemary and Bay and cook it on a simmer adding a glass of Red Wine. This will take about 30 minutes at a low heat.

Now make your Bechamel Sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan and add an equal amount of Plain Flour and stir together to make a Roux, Now add scalding hot Milk , (Full Fat) and whisk into a sauce, At this stage I add a little tsp of Tomato Puree.

Take a dish rub it with Olive Oil and place in your sheets of Pasta add a layer of the Ragu a Layer of Bechemal in Equal quantities then Grate in fresh Parmesan and start again with another layer of Ragu and Bechemal. At the end pour on top what remains of the Bechemal and add generously Grated Parmesan and put the dish in a pre heated oven for twenty minutes.

Grate some more Parmesan before serving, Enjoy.

Liebster Blog Award

I have only been blogging for a couple of months, so you can imagine I am completely chuffed to have been given this Liebster Blog Award from Nicole at Thank you Nicole very much indeed, I have never won anything much more than an egg and spoon race so how surprised and delighted I am to win this.

So what is a Liebster Blog Award? It's an award that recognises up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. There's a few simple rules to award as follows:-

*Link back to the person who gave you the award and Thank them.

*Post the award to your blog

*Give the award to five bloggers with less than 200 followers (Don't be offended I am giving this award because I love reading your blog and want to encourage others to read it.

*Let the award Winners Know.

I read so many really great Food blogs so was a very difficult choice, The Award goes to

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beef Carpaccio

This was my Lunch today, Simplicity on a plate very quick and light. The dish was supposedly invented in Harrys Bar in Venice, I think that is probably true, a simpler Italian version of Beef tartare.

I used a beef Tenderloin, and Froze it slightly as it makes it so much easier to carve,I carved slightly thicker slices but I think that worked well and made a simple dressing of Lemon juice Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper, topped with some Rocket and, shaved some Fresh Parmesan, Delicious

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Poulet Au Pot

Poulet Au Pot Henry 1V famous dish for every Frenchman to be able to afford to eat on a Sunday. In mainland France it is still as popular on a Sunday as Bouillabaisse is in Marseille.

What a dish, a one pot wonder bags of flavour and so simple. I have been eating this for years from my happy days living in France so many moons ago when I couldn't cook.

Start by peeling Button Onions and Carrots which I do in two batches , whole Carrots and chopped Carrots. Peel some Potato and cut into various shapes
I put the Carrots and Potatoes in a pot with cold water only to keep their colour. Now make a Bouquet Garni with Fresh Thyme, a sprig of Rosemary some Parsley Stalks and Bay leaves. Tie with string and make 500mls of Chicken stock.
Chop diagonally some fresh Leeks and reserve for later. Now place your Chicken in the Casserole Pot with hot Olive Oil and Brown each side, it's not really traditional but I like it, then reserve on one side add your Button Onions and the large Carrots and Brown.

After maybe five minutes add 280mls of White Wine, let it reduce and pour a glass for yourself, I always have a drink whilst I cook! Then add the Chicken stock add the Large Carrots and Onions and Bring to the boil adding the Bouquet Garni. Obviously return the Chicken to the pot

Once its brought to the Boil add to a pre heated Oven with a little foil to cover the Breast a couple of Black Peppercorns and an extra Bay Leaf, cook at 200c
Traditionally you stuff the cavity with breadcrumbs beaten Egg and Parsley to make a sort of Dumpling, tell you the truth it's fairly horrid so I miss it out.

Keep basting ever so often, after 30 minutes take off the foil and add the chopped Carrots and Leeks and return to the Oven for another 30 minutes.
Let it rest and serve on a plate with the Vegetables I serve the stock in a bowl and sprinkle with chopped Parsley and Serve with Crunchy bread. In France the stock is served as a Soup, and jolly good it is too, On this occasion I didn't
Is it as good as Roast Beef... well No, not to my mind but once in a while this Old healthy dish is a stunner especially washed down as I did with a few bottles of Corton Charlemagne Montrachet served Ice Cold. Lovely Lunch I thoroughly recommend you try it at least once in a while you won't be disappointed

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chorizo Criollo con Pommes Puree

Autumn is here and I am truly enjoying comfort food again. This is really a Mediterranean version of the classic English Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy. I won't say it's better, but it is infinitely more flavoursome.

I use a Chorizo Criollo Sausage which is not like typical Spanish Chorizo, it has no Paprika, It's more like Italian or Polish Sausage, bags of flavour.
Start by softening some onions in a skillet for around 5 minutes, add some fresh slices of Red Pepper a little crushed Garlic, continue to cook another 5 minutes now add a tbsp of plain Flour stir it in and cook out for a minute.

Now the best bit add a glass of Red wine to the pan with the heat turned up and stir, Pour yourself a glass or two at the same time, after it's reduced by a third add 3 cups of good Beef Stock and add a sprig of Fresh Rosemary and some dried Parsley.

Now tip this into a Terracotta dish and put in a preheated oven at 200C whilst in a separate pan you fry off the sausages to give them some colour.

Once they have taken colour add them to the Dish along with a chopped fresh Tomato and leave to cook for around twenty minutes.

Serve with a bottle of decent Red wine and some Pomme Puree. Delicious.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chicken Mashed Potato and Mixed Vegetables in Wine and Stock

I have had a craving all Summer for mashed potatoes, I just love them, comfort food at it's best, Creamy buttery light fluffy mashed Potatoes with grilled then oven roasted Chicken, you know it makes sense. Chicken and Mash are simply the very best of friends and as a gesture to health settled on some mixed vegetables sautéed in a little Olive oil with white wine and a little stock. Which made a super little Gravy
I know it's perhaps not the prettiest plate of food, It's so unchallenging to cook it doesn't need a recipe, But you could have offered me Caviar and Lobster, I would still have gone for this naughty little dish. Comfort food at its very best.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Woodland Mushrooms

I had the day from Hell yesterday, perfectly horrid and miserable, it seemed nothing was going well at work and I really just couldn't be bothered to cook but for the thought of some ghastly congealed Chinese takeaway would be a step to far.

I opened the fridge and these gorgeous Woodland Mushrooms screamed out to me. They are very much the taste of Autumn and the meat in the vegetable world. My mind was made up simple Mushrooms on toast, I had some dried Porcini to mix in with them, sautéd them in butter and a little Oil and flavoured the Oil with a little Garlic.
To finish just some chopped Parsley a drizzle of Oleoteca's Boletus flavoured Oil, and sat down with a bottle of Ice cold crisp Pinot Grigio, as if by magic the horrors of the day seemed to simply float away.Absolutely Delicious.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Polpette Alla Siciliana

This dish takes me back, My old chum Gianni had a little Italian Restaurant in Soho, London on Great Windmill Street, This is his dish we had unforgettable times there and more often than not I came out from Lunch at 9.00am the next morning.

It was a very old school place, small, loads of photographs on the wall I distinctly remember an Italian poster for the Godfather film "Il Padrino". The tables had checked red and white tablecloths and every table had an old bottle with a candle, covered in wax.It was dark and old fashioned,  Frank Sinatra music playing and mixture from Aristocracy to East End Gangsters and the odd B list celebrity. Key was Gianni had to like you. and he loved everyone.
They were great days. It was after an all night party one Saturday night at his Restaurant that on the Sunday morning old Gianni taught me this dish, whenever I eat it I think of him and the times we had there. I even had my own key to the restaurant in case I wanted a late night drink, can you imagine that now. It's long since gone and is now some chain restaurant or another. Bless him Lovely man, they were great days and only twenty or so years ago.

Start with a proper Tomato sauce, Sauté some crushed garlic in Olive Oil add some chopped Basil stalks and a couple of Anchovy fillets. After a minute or two add some Cherry Tomatoes some whole some in halves,let them cook on high heat couple of minutes. Now add a good glass of White wine let it reduce for a minute or so, then add a tin of chopped Tomatoes. Reduce the heat add a tsp Dried Oregano and half teaspoon of Rosemary. A tablespoon or two of dried Parsley a cup of Chicken Stock and let it simmer.

Now start your Meatballs. Only use Ground Beef,add two or three tablespoons of breadcrumbs, The zest of a lemon a tablespoon of dried Oregano the same of Parsley a glug of Olive Oil and mix with your hands to make golfball sized Meatballs.

Place on a parchment lined baking tray and put in the fridge.
After half an hour or so take them out the fridge and dust in Flour. You will during this time have constantly stirred the Tomato sauce and consumed a bottle of Wine,
essential by all accounts.
The Tomato Sauce will be rich, taste it, and Season generously, it may need a swig of Olive Oil or squeeze of Lemon juice adjust the seasoning to your taste
Now in a scorching hot Skillet add some Olive Oil and add the Meatballs,keep shaking the pan to stop them burning and then turn the heat down to medium. Keep shaking and turning the meatballs in all, not much longer than four minutes tops.

Now Ladle the sauce on the plate, and add your Meatballs scatter some baby Basil and Parsley leaves, grate some Parmesan Cheese on top and serve. Thank you Gianni, It's your dish, I miss those care free decadent days. I miss old Gianni. God Bless

Salsa Verde and Tomato Salad

September in Andalusia are the closing weeks of what has been a very hot Summer. The Restaurants and Bars have quietened down most of the tourists have gone and Restaurant Managers are pleased to see you again.

Autumn in Spain is my favourite time of year, Spain is ours again and the Sun still shines the skies are blue, but temperatures are gently warm not hot.

Salsa Verde is one of my favourites I make it far more often than Pesto, it's lighter and brings out the flavour of whatever you put it on. I made this Tomato Salad as a side dish to our Dinner on Sunday, but I often use it on Grilled meats, Fish Vegetables and to die for with Pasta

The secret is the freshness of the herbs and the quality of your Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Don't be scared to vary the herbs, On this occasion I used Basil and Parsley with Olive Oil, Lemon juice and a squirt of White Wine Vinegar and Season to taste and Blitz together with a blender.

With fish I add capers with meat some Dijon mustard. It's vibrant and versatile you could add Garlic, but it can overwhelm the Salsa. The colour is bright and appetising with the Lemony herbs. Give it a try

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lebanese Aubergine and Tomato

My chums Jasmine and Bob were coming for Dinner, Jasmine is Syrian and not a big meat eater so I wanted a Middle Eastern style Vegetarian dish to go with Za'atar Roast Chicken and I concocted this and I have to say it really was quite good.
Start by cutting your Aubergines in half lengthwise and criss cross the flesh with a sharp knife salt and leave in a colander flesh side down.

Now finely chop an Onion and sauté to soften in Olive Oil, I added a clove of garlic to flavour the Oil which I later discarded.

Add some ground cumin to the onions and two chopped chills, seeds and all. Now add a tin of chopped Tomato a cup of chicken stock and a handful of pre cooked Chickpeas and Simmer.
After five minutes tip the whole lot into a roasting tray place your Aubergines on top add a generous glug of Olive Oil to the Aubergines and put in a preheated oven at 200C for an hour.

When you take them out the Oven add some chopped Parsley and Mint, the juice of a lemon on top of the Aubergine take to the table and serve.