Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chunky Chilli Con Carne

When I first started cooking in 1995 I am pretty sure this is first dish I made. I had been watching Ready Steady Cook and they made a deconstructed Chilli Con Carne where the Tomato sauce element was served separately, it didn't work that well, I suppose some Chef was just trying to do something different just for the sake of it, never a good idea.

That recipe used mince beef but I find cubed Stewing Beef gives a far better result.
This is not a dish I make all that often, but it is just the ticket on a cold Rainy Day. Dust lightly your cubed beef in a little Flour and Chilli Powder, And Fry in a pot with Olive Oil to brown the Meat and reserve to one side. I do this in batches.

Add a chopped Onion to the same pot and two chopped Cloves of Garlic and cook until translucent not browned. I add three chopped Red Chillies two tsp of Oregano a tbsp of Chilli Powder or Chilli flakes a tbsp of Paprika Picante and tsp of Cumin seeds.

Let the spices cook through for about a minute stirring all the time so they don't burn. Add back the Beef, a pint of Veal or Beef Stock and two cans of Chopped Tomatoes bring to the boil put the lid on the pot and place in a preheated oven at 150c for around 3 hours.

Take it out the Oven remove the lid and taste. I Season with Salt and Pepper and cook on a low heat on the stove for another hour without the lid to let some of the Liquid evaporate and intensify the flavours adding a can of Red kidney Beans in the last half hour of cooking.

I serve with plain Rice, slices of Avocado and A plain Yogurt to which I have added a Squeeze of Lemon juice and some fresh chopped Coriander. It is an Old Fashioned Studenty sort of Dish but I just Love those Hot spicy Flavours.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chilli Chicken

 I am completely addicted to Chilli, This is one of those mid week specials that is simple and is boosted with the kick of Chilli. Simply marinate chicken breasts with Lemon juice a tablespoon of Chilli flakes 2 tsp of Paprika Picante a tsp of Cayenne Pepper a drizzle of Olive Oil and two halved lengthwise fresh Red Chillies.

Let it marinate about 12 hours and simply sear the Chicken on a scorching hot griddle pan couple of minutes each side place in a roasting tin with the marinade poured over and cook at 200c for 20 minutes.

I served with Chilli Chickpea Puree and some sauté Courgettes, Yummy

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicken Stock

I have been meaning to write a Post to Stocks for ages, They help to make a truly great dish into something altogether splendid, the difference is huge.
I would love to say that I always make my own stock, truth is in the fast world we live in there never seems to be the time and Bouillon Cubes are so easy, so what's the point?

Bouillon Cubes are a great invention and I use them a lot, adding water from boiled Potatoes or Vegetables to give a slightly more natural flavour, but they really do pale in comparison to making a proper Stock. They are full of additives, very salty and a poor imitation of the real thing.

Whenever I make a Sunday Roast of Chicken or Beef, I nearly always go to the trouble of making a fresh stock on Monday so that I can enjoy in the week, all those dishes that so depend on a quality stock like Risottos, Cannellini Beans, delicious Soups and in Sauces.

It freezes well, but I tend to use it all in a few days.

It is one thing you really do need to produce some stunning dishes, it is worth the effort and I urge you to try it.

Making Stock couldn't be simpler, For a Chicken Stock take a Chicken Carcass, fresh is best but the leftover Roast Chicken is Fine put it in a Stock pot along with some peppercorns a carrot, Celery Stick a Leek cut in Half, An Onion and some Fresh herbs whatever you happen to have. Add water so the Carcass is covered, bring to the Boil then reduce the heat to a very low simmer skimming off any impurities. It must be a low simmer, if it Boils it will go cloudy.

I usually simmer for around 5 hours then strain the stock through a fine sieve and let it cool then place in the fridge.

The fat will have formed on the surface so it is easy to take off, Bring to boil before using.

Monday, October 22, 2012

French Lemon & Thyme Roast Chicken

I first had this dish many years ago in a little Restaurant in Provence but this was the first time I have made it for Friends at Home, It was Gloriously easy and a delicious Sunday Lunch It made too.

The Summer Scent of Lemon and Thyme filled the Kitchen, Whilst I chatted with friends drinking  Red Wine, We were all starving by the time our late Lunch was served, and it didn't disappoint. I will be making this more often.

I slow Roasted it, which I always do with Roasting Chickens, makes them infinitely more juicy. Start by washing out the cavity and dry with Kitchen Paper.
After a generous sprinkling of Salt into the cavity I Cut a Lemon into quarters and placed it in the cavity with 4 cloves of Garlic and a bunch of Fresh Thyme and a Bay Leaf

Then I made a Thyme Butter to stuff under the skin, to keep the bird moist.

In a bowl a put a drizzle of Olive Oil , the juice of a large Lemon a drop of Light Soy Sauce and a generous helping of Honey and mix them together, The fragrant bitterness of the Lemon is balanced with the sweetness of the Honey. With a sprig of Thyme as a brush, brush the marinade all over the bird reserving about a third of the mixture.
Put the Bird in a Roasting tin add a Glass of White Wine to the Tin and about half a pint of Chicken stock and place in a pre heated Oven at 90c for an hour and a half. then let it rest for 45 minutes turn the heat up to 210c brush on the remaining marinade Season with Salt and Pepper and return the Bird for a further 20 minutes.

The skin caramelises with the Honey and looks just sensational, rest the Bird for a further 15 minutes before serving.

I sieved the juices from the Roasting tin into a pan Whisked in some butter and served as a delicious Gravy, Try it, it really is very Good.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Merza Ghasemi with Pork Chops

When I say Merza Ghasemi I use that term loosely because that has beaten Eggs in at the end and doesn't have the Chilli Herbs and lashings of Lemon juice that I have used, However it is based and inspired by the recipe by It is a Persian dish and last night I found myself cooking just for me so I wanted something quick and easy but with bags of flavour and this is what I settled on.
I started off by putting an Aubergine in a roasting tray and dry roasted at 200c for an hour, Sabrina says  don't prick it, I did, just once as I had visions of it exploding in the Oven making a huge mess to clear up. I don't think it was needed but there you go.

Once it was cooked took it out the oven and scooped the flesh out of the skin which it did remarkably easily.

In a Skillet I added some Olive Oil and put to a medium heat and added a finely chopped clove of Garlic, The idea is to cook the garlic but not colour it, then I added a tsp of Turmeric and the flesh of a chopped Tomato, A tbsp of Tomato Puree a whole chopped fresh Chilli then put the Aubergine into the pan stirring everything together added a handful of Parsley and Mint and the juice of a whole Lemon. Season well.

It worked beautifully with the simple Griddled Pork Chops and had a fresh vibrant flavour, I will definitely make it again.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chorizo & Sausage Casserole

Now that Autumn is well and truly upon us we all crave those Comfort Hearty foods, This is a typically Andalusian Dish and a one pot wonder that is truly delicious.
Chorizo has become fashionable and every Restaurant in the world is serving it with just about everything. This dish uses four different kinds of Chorizo, but if you can only get one don't worry.

Start in a Casserole Pot by adding some Olive Oil and put it on a medium heat, and add Spanish White Sausages, if you can't get them Cumberland, Toulouse or Italian Sausage would work equally well, once they have taken some colour take them out and put to one side.
Add a little more Olive Oil to the Pot and add a sliced Onion, crush in one or two crushed cloves of Garlic and Stir with a wooden spoon. Once the Onions are translucent add slices of cooking Picante Chorizo and Slices of Dulce Chorizo, as they cook the Paprika Oils will come out it only takes couple of minutes.

Now add large chunks of chopped Carrot, some big chunks of Potato (about the size of Roast Potatoes) a jar of cooked Chickpeas and stir all together to coat in the Oil.

Turn up the heat and then add a glass of Manzanilla and let it reduce to burn off the Alcohol then a tin of chopped tomatoes and 3 or 4 fresh Tomatoes cut into quarters. Add a pint of Chicken stock. Return the White Sausages to the Pot add 1 tbsp Herb De Provence  and a couple of Bay Leaves and a whole dried Pimientos Dulce, Season well and bring to the Boil, then reduce to low and let it simmer for an hour.

Serve with Fresh Parsley sprinkled over the top and some crusty Bread for mopping up all those lovely juices. This is such a wonderful easy meal in the week or on a colder dark evening, try it, the taste of Andalusia.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pea & Truffle Oil Soup

I probably get asked more often for the recipe for this Soup by Friends than probably any other dish I make. It is extraordinary how tweaking such a simple thing as Peas can give such an extraordinary flavour and result.
Best of all this is so easy to make, and for Parties can be made in advance.
Start by sweating some chopped Shallots in Butter with a drop of Olive Oil in a Pot, on medium heat. Once they are softened turn up the heat and add a glass of Manzanilla or Fino, and let it bubble up and reduce. Add Frozen Peas and Chicken Stock so that the Peas are Barely covered and let it simmer on a medium heat.
After 5 minutes or so add a couple of handfuls of Spinach take it off the heat, and let it cool. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste, then blitz the soup with a hand Blender.

To serve Ladle into Bowls drizzle over some truffle Oil and add a little Cream. I promise you will be amazed how the Truffle Oil, Sherry, Peas and Shallots come together to enhance the flavour, Whilst the Spinach helps to keep this vibrant Colour.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pollo Sopresa

Pollo Sopresa was my favourite dish many many years ago at Mario & Francos,  it is better known today as Chicken Kiev which Marks & Spencer made popular with a rather dreadful frozen version that had lost a lot of what this dish is about and tasted of just garlic.

The tricky part of this dish is to get a good enough covering so the butter doesn't burst out. There are some tricks I have learnt which will overcome this problem to give you a perfect result every time.

Start by mixing softened butter with a tsb of Tarragon and a tbsp of chopped Parsley, crush into the butter mixture a clove of Garlic and using grease proof paper, roll this into a sausage and put in the Freezer for around an hour.

Take your Chicken breasts and between two sheets of cling film beat it out flat being careful not to pierce the skin about 1cm thick is perfect. Season with Salt and Ground Black Pepper and Grate a little Lemon Zest onto it.

Now take the butter from the freezer and put some of the butter herb roll into the middle of the chicken breast and roll it up so no butter is visible and secure with a cocktail stick. Place the rolled chicken breasts into the Freezer for an Hour.

Get a dish with, ordinary Breadcrumbs and Panco Japanese Breadcrumbs and mix together. now in a separate bowl put some plain Flour and another a beaten Egg.

Take the stuffed chicken breasts out of the freezer, they should be firm but not solidly frozen and here is the trick,  cover with a thin coating of Mayonnaise, then dip in the Flour, then the beaten Egg and then the Breadcrumbs.

Shallow fry in Oil or Deep Fat fry until the take on Colour, drain on Kitchen Towel and put in a preheated Oven at 200c for 20 minutes. A truly Outstanding dish

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tortilla Espanola

This has to be the most popular dish in Spain and for good reason, it is filling flavoursome and cheap to make. I make a couple every week, they are delicious hot but I tend to put them in the fridge to have as a midnight snack, as Tapas or a slice between meals.
As in every dish you need very fresh ingredients so only the freshest eggs. The secret is to have lots of onions and potatoes and really very little egg.
Start in a non stick frying pan with about 1cm of Olive Oil on a medium heat add chopped onions and slices of potatoes and let them gently cook for around half an hour breaking the Potatoes with a wooden spoon. It won't look the most appetising as it will go a brownish colour and look a bit of a mush.
Take it off the heat and drain the mixture onto some kitchen paper and let it cool slightly.
In a bowl break a fresh egg and beat with a fork and season with Rock salt and Pepper, I add some chopped Parsley and Tarragon but that is not traditional.
Add the Potato and Onion Mixture to the bowl and mix together.
Take a small non stick frying pan, one with rounded edges add 1tsp of Olive Oil over a medium heat and add the mixture,takes about 2 minutes gently push the side of the Tortilla with a spatula to help round the edge.
Invert the Tortilla onto a plate, slide it back into the pan to cook the other side again around 2 minutes.
It should be runny in the middle. Eat straight away with some seasoning or put in the fridge and serve cold. Delicious.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Garlic Chicken

Garlic Chicken is as old as the hills and always a crowd pleaser. I marinate the Chicken Breasts in the juice of a Lemon and a good blog of Olive Oil five crushed Garlic Cloves and a tbsp of Dried Parsley for 24 hours.
All the cookbooks say two to three hours but the Chicken takes on a much stronger flavour with 24 hours and the Lemon juice acidity does break down the fibres to a greater degree.
The result is the most succulent Garlicy Chicken you have tasted. I simply sear on a scorching hot Griddle pan for a few minutes each side and put on a roasting tray spooning over the Marinade and place into a pre heated oven at 220c for 20 minutes.

It is both a Summer and Winter dish, I served just with Rocket and Tomatoes but equally great with Potatoes and Vegtables.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fegato alla Toscana

I have always been a big fan of Offal, Kidneys, Hearts and Liver all very under rated in my view and much more popular in Europe than in England.

Calves Liver is one of my favourites, banish memories of School Dinners from your mind, that was ghastly overcooked pigs Liver tough and very strong in taste. Calves Liver is altogether a different kettle of fish it is Fillet Steak as opposed to stewing steak, The flavour is far lighter it has a delicious richness and is so tender and soft.
I got some beautiful thin strips of Liver, my butcher had done a great job in ensuring it was properly trimmed. With great ingredients the simpler they are cooked the better in my view. I simply seasoned and seared on both sides not much more than 30 seconds either side maybe a little more Calves Liver should always be served Pink. In a skillet I fried in Oliver Oil some Sage Leaves squeezed in some Lemon Juice and a drop of Balsamic Vinegar and spooned a few drops over the Liver outstanding little dish cooked in minutes a real weekday treat.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Asian Bream with Spiced Sweet Potatoes

One of my all time favourite dishes in Chinese Restaurants is the Sea Bass with Spring Onion and Ginger and this dish is inspired from that but with more punch in the flavours.

With any Fish dish you have to have really fresh fish, the eyes are clear, look under the gills and the fish is firm with no smell other than the aroma of the Sea.
Wash your fish out and pat dry with some Kitchen Roll, now make three cuts deep into the flesh of the fish on both sides, I stuff the cavity with Lime Coriander and chopped Red Chilli, then add Chinese Five spice to the flesh and some ground Ginger and rub it well into the cuts you have made in the fish on both sides.

A generous glug of light Soy sauce, Black pepper, a drizzle of Olive or Sunflower Oil, and then add around half a glass of Sake and a squeeze of fresh Lime
Put it in a pre heated oven at 200C for 35 minutes to cook now prepare the Sweet Potato.

I put two large sweet Potatoes, stabbed  them with a knife, and placed them in a microwave safe bowl covered with cling film and cooked in the Microwave at full power for twelve minutes.
Whilst they are cooking take a wooden board, chop some Coriander a fresh Red Chilli add 2 tbsp of Mango Chutney a good swig of Soy Sauce a touch of Olive Oil and when the potatoes are done add them to the board skins as well, and chop with a knife mixing everything together, a squeeze of fresh Lime and place the fish on top. The Sweet Potato dish is from Jamie Oliver it's amazing all the flavours explode in your mouth, perfect with this Fish, it has a real vibrancy. I garnished with a few sprigs of Coriander Leaves and wedges of Lemon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chicken Wellington

 Jamie Oliver has long been a favourite of mine and is the modern day Delia. He has probably done more in getting a young generation to cook than anyone else. This is his recipe from "Happy Days with the Naked Chef" I have had this book years always loved the photo of the dish but never got round to making it. Anyway this Sunday I decided to give it a go for Lunch, and what a great dish it is.
Preheat the Oven to 200c and chop up the Mushrooms most very finely the rest in halves and quarters and sauté in Olive Oil with a little Garlic and chopped Parsley for around ten minutes season well, I had some Mushroom flavoured Salt flakes and some Mushroom flavoured Oil so i added a drop of the Oil half way through to give a more intense flavour, you don't have to, it isn't in the original recipe.

Once they are cooked put to one side to let them cool. Pull back the Chicken Fillets and make an incision and stuff the mushrooms into the cavity. Put any leftover Mushrooms on one side to serve later.
Dust a board with Flour and roll out some Puff pastry to around 18 inches/45cms in length Slice into 4 pieces lengthwise and wrap around the Chicken Breast. Brush the Pastry with a little Egg and cook in the oven for 35 minutes. Put some buttered Greaseproof paper in the tin to prevent them from sticking.

Whilst the Chicken is cooking make the sauce. Put a tsp of Dijon Grain Mustard in a pan, and add a wine glass of Dry white wine turn to full heat and reduce to burn off the alcohol, turn the heat down add 140ml of Double Cream and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon  take off the heat and season to taste.

Slice each Chicken breast into 3 and serve with a bit of sauce some of the reserved Mushrooms and a little drizzle of Olive Oil.

It really is easy, and delicious would make a lovely Dinner Party Dish served with just Spinach, or Courgette Fritta

If I was making it again I would tweak it slightly, I think I would flambé the mushrooms in Brandy to give a richer Flavour and add some wilted Spinach to the Mushroom Mix.

Brilliant Dish, Thank you Jamie!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ricotta stuffed Chicken wrapped in Serrano Ham

There is a little shop in Marbella that sells whole legs of Black foot Serrano Ham, they only sell the very finest which for reasons unbeknown to me are rated in Acorns, 5 Acorns are the Aston Martins of Serrano Ham and let me tell you they are out of this world.

I dearly want to buy a whole leg with the stand and a special knife for carving but can't quite bring myself to part with the £600 or so it will cost to do so, but I guess in time I will succumb. So in the meantime I buy slices of it to take home.
This dish uses my beloved Ham, It is very simple and Delicious the Saltiness of the Ham seasons the Chicken whilst it cooks. I make an incision and cut a pocket into the Chicken Breast and stuff the cavity with Ricotta and some jarred Sun dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, a twist of freshly ground black Pepper and wrap around the Ham.

Put it in the oven at 210c for around 25 minutes and serve. I made tray baked sliced Potato Courgette and Tomato oven roasted to accompany and a spoon of Guacamole. You really do have to try this, its to die for.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fish and Chips

The classic double act like Laurel and Hardy a British National treasure of a dish that has fed millions of memories. Winston Churchill called them "The good companions" and they are thought of as the quintessentially English dish, but it's origins are probably from France or Spain brought by Jewish immigrants to England in the 1830's.
Moist white fish in my case Cod fillet with a crisp crunchy golden batter. The batter is simple, sieve two cups of plain flour into a bowl, add 1 tsp of baking powder, a teaspoon of Salt and an egg.

Now slowly adding a bottle of very cold Brown Beer whilst whisking the mixture together so you have the constancy of half whipped cream, quite thick. Let this rest in the fridge for ten minutes.

Get your Deep fat fryer hot to 180c. Dust your Cod fillet in plain seasoned flour and then dip into the Batter mixture until it is properly covered, Remove the basket from the Fryer or the batter can stick to the basket as I learnt years ago from bitter experience! and gently lower the fish into the fryer, use a slotted spoon if you are nervous.

It takes about 3 to 4 minutes to cook until it's taken on this golden colour. Don't cook more than 2 at once and keep warm in a pre heated Oven whilst you cook the Chips.

Delicious I served with some Mushy Peas and lashings of Salt and Vinegar. Amazing!

Friday, October 5, 2012


I love Avocado and especially love Guacamole as a dip or a side dish. I use it a lot with Grilled Chicken and Meats as well as in wraps with Tacos or in Venezuelan style blitzed with Vinegar to make a sauce.

Guacamole originates from the Aztecs in Mexico, the secret is really ripe smooth creamy Avocados, to help ripen them wrap them in newspaper, for some reason it speeds up the ripening process no idea why but it works.

I simply add chopped Avocado to a bowl add the juice of a Lime and blitz with a hand blender, and a pinch of Salt, a finely chopped Chilli, splash of Tobasco, a crushed clove of Garlic some razor thin slices of Red Onion , Chopped Coriander and a chopped Tomato without its seeds.
Sometimes I pimp it up with a drop of Tequila.Mix all the ingredients together add a splash of Chilli Oil and the juice of half a Lime. Delicious

Thursday, October 4, 2012


  I pretty much thought Salt was Salt was Salt, well Ok I use Rock Sea Salt rather than common table Salt and I have Flavoured Salt with herbs in the past, which are fabulous, but thats as far as it went.

I was chatting with Claudia at Oleoteca in Marbella where I get my Extra Virgin Olive Oil and she introduced to their pure Salts and flavoured Salts in flake form crystals, I have never seen or even come across them before.

The characteristic of this Salt is its naturalness, it's obtained in the traditional way evaporating sea water.

This Salt doesn't contain any additives, unlike common table Salt. In its composition you can find all the elements the human body needs, it contains trace elements responsible for the immune system like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potasium, Iodine.. Yes this is Salt we are talking about!

It has an intense flavour, so you only need to use a very small amount. The Crystals are fragile, you can see the Porcini flavoured Salt I am using, it is easily crushed between your finger tips, it dissolves really easily, just magic on Grilled Meats, Fish etc put on at the end of cooking.

Claudia is doing four different kinds of flavoured Salts in addition to 3 or 4 Sea Salts. Chilli, Five Peppers, Smoked Paprika and the one I am using Porcini Mushroom.

They are really fragrant, everyone knows that Salt is a flavour enhancer, but in my view these take it to a different level, It's not expensive, costs less than Maldon Salt and complements just about everything. If you can get it try it, you won't be disappointed. Claudia's email is I should add this is not a sponsored post, I just love great ingredients and thought I would share it with you. In my view we need these specialist little shops there aren't many and I like to give my support.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pork Chops in Calvados Creamed Mustard Sauce

Pork Chops are not my favourite, but these little Baby chops cooked in a Cream and Calvados are something else, very quick, and very easy.

In a hot skillet add a drop of Olive Oil and a good knob of butter then put in your chops, at this size they take not much more than a minute each side, you want them to take on some colour. Then add around half a glass of Calvados and flambé.
Once the flames have died down add a ladle of Chicken Stock and a teaspoon of Grain Dijon Mustard.
Stir it in with a wooden spoon and take off the heat before adding a glug of Single Cream and stir that in.

Serve on a plate with a scattering of chopped fresh Parsley. The mustard creamy sauce compliments the Pork beautifully. I served with a Potato and Vegetable bake, really Delicious brings your Pork Chops to life. If you haven't got Calvados, Cider or White wine would suffice.
Sometimes I make some sliced Caramelised Apples along with the Pork, This time just didn't have an Apple left. I served with a Cold Soave White wine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

French Herbed Mushroom Omelette

An Omelette cooked beautifully is a joy to behold and a good test of your cooking skills. Many Michelin star restaurants use it as a test for young Chefs applying for a job.

This is the French version, to mind the best, there are in fact two French versions one a "Country Omelette which is browned and stirred less the other a Classic which doesn't take any colour at all they both have one thing in common a Baveuse, meaning they are both runny in the middle. Essential to my mind as opposed to the rather rubbery attempts we see in England.
Fresh quality free range Eggs , I use 3 per portion, beaten with a fork, a pinch of Salt and Pepper a handful of Chopped fresh parsley and a good pinch of dried Tarragon a magic ingredient that in small quantities adds a freshness to the Omelette.

Don't add cream or Milk, let the Eggs speak for themselves. In a non stick Omelette pan heated to Medium heat, you don't ever want to cook eggs at high heat, add a knob of Butter and a drop of Oil let it bubble and add the Egg mixture, shaking the pan. Gradually with the back of a fork stir the eggs in the pan lifting the silky strips of egg, it helps sometimes to take the pan on and off the heat.

I added some ceps and halved woodland Mushrooms. I had cooked in a separate pan slowly with Butter then handful of  Spinach which wilts into the mushrooms, Seasoned and then added a drop of Oleoteca's Boletus, a Mushroom infused Olive Oil which intensifies the Mushroom flavour.
Added with a slotted spoon to the Omelette. With the fork tipping the pan away from myself  I fold the omelette onto itself, tap the handle to help it.

I served on a plate with some French fries. The perfect Omelette Soft on the inside and Baveuse in the middle.