Thursday, 30 May 2013


After an extended period away from the keyboard I thought I needed to return with a bang. Although the translation from plate to paper has not been happening, I can reassure you I have been eating, and eating well. This year along with many, many great recipes, reviews and thoughts on food, I promise to bring you bring you a website more useful than Wikipedia, more innovative than google, more informative than twitter, and with a greater procrastination potential than Facebook. 2013 will be forever remembered as the year of

So to kick off the year one of my favourites. 

Lasagne must be one of the greatest comfort dishes in the world, and here I have two amazing versions of this Italian staple. This week I give to you a traditional meat lasagne and then next week a delicious vegetarian alterative (which can be slightly meatafied).
Lasagne is simple really – meat, pasta, cheese, meat, pasta, cheese

500g Beef mince
1 onion - diced
3 cloves garlic – smashed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Half a glass of red wine
A good squirt of tomato puree
1 Mild red chilli – diced.
Salt and black pepper

A box of lasagne sheets will normally do two lasagnes for four.

Cheese (béchamel sauce)
1 Mug of plain flour
50g of butter
1 mug of milk
A decent amount of grated cheese (you can make it as cheesy as you like)

Firstly make the meat sauce.
1.     Sweat off the onions, garlic and chilli in a pan.
2.     Turn up the heat and sear the mince with a good amount of seasoning.
3.     When the meat is browned chuck in the wine and cook for 1 minute.
4.     Add tomato puree and cook for a minute or two, and then the chopped tomatoes.
5.     Allow the sauce to bubble down for a good 30 minutes to become lovely and rich.

The Cheese sauce.
1.     While the meat sauce is cooking, you can start melting the butter in a pan.
2.     When it has melted keep on a low heat and add the flour until a kind of doughy consistency has formed.
3.     Slowly add the milk until you have a white sauce.
4.     Add the grated cheese, and you have the cheese sauce.

The Assembly.
1.     Meat
2.     Pasta
3.     Cheese (sauce)
4.     Meat
5.     Pasta
6.     Cheese (sauce)
7.     Grated cheese

Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 30-40 mins. Put a knife in to make sure the pasta is nice and soft.

The final product.

Monday, 19 November 2012

A taste of Morocco

My recent jaunt to Morocco has inspired me to create a new, somewhat belated, entry to “ahungryman”. Those of you who have visited Morocco will know of its vibrant personality, influenced by the leisurely Mediterranean, bustling chaos of central Africa and the ardent Middle East; however unfortunately these personalities are not often reflected in the country’s cuisine. Most backpackers and travellers looking for the ‘Moroccan experience’ will succumb to cheap and cheerful “ ‘Meat’ tagine”, lamb/chicken kebab and couscous quaffed down with hot sweet mint tea. This breaks my heart. You need not venture far into the souks (markets) to find the spice shops and their veritable feast for all the senses. Most shop owners will be able to take you on a tour through the saffron scented plains, to smoky Saharan harissa, and back to the familiar kitchen essentials. My challenge today was to revamp the cuisine of Morocco without stripping it of it’s essential identity.
Beef kebabs with a fruity sauce and exciting couscous:
Beef kebabs:
Beef steak mince 500g
1 Tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1+1/2 tsp of Ras al Hanout
1 tsp chilli powder
1 chopped chilli
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 egg
Season generously with salt and pepper to taste
Garlic 1 clove chopped
1 heaped tsp Cinammon (ground)
1 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp cumin
Handful of fresh olives
1 tin chopped tomatoes
50g of dried apricots
handful of roasted almonds
Season accordingly
½ courgette chopped to 1cm pieces
½ yellow pepper chopped to 1cm pieces
1 tspn Cumin
½ Ginger
¼ All spice
¼ ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ cayenne pepper
Handful of sultanas
¼ orange zest
Juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp of fresh chopped mint leaves.
Hot chicken stock to soften couscous
1) Mix together all the kebab mix with hands and leave for at least 2 hours (preferably 12).
2) Form into balls or sausages and seal in an oven proof pan on a high heat.
3) For the sauce: fry off garlic and spices
4) Add the tomatoes and coriander and a handful of chopped olives
5) Chop the apricots into strips and add to the sauce
6) Once the tomatoes are cooked, add to the pan with the kebabs and finish in the oven for 15-20mins.
7) Garnish the sauce with crushed almonds and chopped coriander.
For the couscous, add all the ingredients to the bowl and just before serving add the hot chicken stock.
9) Pretty simple no?
Rich-o-meter- “A solid 9/10.”

Monday, 17 September 2012

Rabbit with a Pea and Spinach Risotto

This was inspired by a random trip to a butchers in Chester, where I was sold a rabbit. Having never eaten a bunny before I decided that this would be a good challenge to pursue. Trying to think what to do with a rabbit i came up with some ideas, casseroles, rolled saddle etc, but I decided that I wanted to do a risotto with things that rabbits eat. I am pretty sure they must like spinach and peas, because if they don't they must be fools.

If you don't like the idea of tucking into Peter Rabbit then the risotto is very good on its own, and an easy vegetarian dinner.

Crispy Rabbit

1 Rabbit
2 Carrots - roughly chopped
1 onion - roughly chopped
3/4 cloves of garlic - smashed
Half a bottle of white wine
1 litre of stock
Olive oil

Get the butcher to joint your rabbit or have a go at hacking it up yourself, you don't have to be too precise as you will be taking it off the bones later. Brown the meat in a frying pan, and place into a large saucepan (or slow cooker if you have one). Pour in the wine and stock and cook the rabbit for about 2 hours on a low heat.

Once cooked take the rabbit out of the stock and take the meat of the bone. Break up the meat slightly season generously. Put some oil in an oven proof frying pan with a good amount of oil, and fry for about 5 minutes, make sure the oil is hot so that the rabbit crisps and doesn't just become oily. Put in the oven at about 180 degrees for about 30 minutes or until your desired level of crispyness.

Spinach and Pea Risotto

Arborio rice
1/2 an onion - very finely chopped
1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
1 large glass of white wine
Stock - you can use the rabbit stock if you cooked that, or just a veggie/chicken stock
Grated parmesan
Half a bag of Spinach
Mug of Peas
1 Lemon

I love risotto, it's the perfect midweek excuse to buy a bottle of wine 'for cooking', and tastes and looks great, and is very therapeutic to make.

Gently soften the onions and garlic in some butter and olive oil. When they are nice and soft add they rice and fry for a further minute or so before adding the wine. Let the alcohol burn off a little and then gradually add warm stock stirring now and again, not letting the rice get too dry. I normally reckon a big ladle of stock about every 4 minutes on a medium heat is best. Keep tasting and when the rice is almost done add the peas and spinach until they are both cooked. Add a decent amount of parmesan cheese a good knob of butter, and a squeeze of half a lemon and stir in.

I really do think a drizzle of olive oil and lemon and some parmesan on top elevates any risotto.

That is a basic risotto recipe so you can realistically add anything at the end (or beginning if it is meat).

If you have cooked the rabbit - just place the meat on top of the risotto to give a really nice gamey textural addition to this simple italian classic.

Zil very much enjoyed the texture combination and the new flavour of rabbit and gave this dish a Watership Up of 9/10 on the Zilometer.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Two simple pasta dishes.

Again I apologise for the little sabbatical i have been on, but the transfer from student to real working life has taking a hit on my writing. This rude interruption to my blog however does not mean i have stopped cooking, and this post is two quick pasta dishes I have whipped up over the course of the month.

It is also to try and follow the beautifully written restaurant reviews of one of my favourite chefs chain of restaurants, Carluccio's.

These are all very simple, and I am not trying to insult anyone's intelligence but they are just little ideas to create fantastic simple suppers.

Also I have said to use certain types of pasta, but obviously choose which ever one you like best. The best dried pasta is in my opinion De Cecco, it is a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it.

Slow roasted tomato and chilli Linguine.


Cherry tomatoes - About 300g
Red chillies - 2 relatively mild ones
Garlic - 2 cloves
Olive oil.

This really is all you need for this. Put the tomatoes into a low oven whole for a good hour (you can do this before hand and just heat them later). While they are cooking, finely chop or grate the garlic, and slice the chillies.

Boil a big pan of water with lots of salt (this raises the boiling point) until it is in a rolling boil and add the linguine. 

Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic. Add the chillies and slow roasted tomatoes to this and gently heat. 

When the pasta is cooked drain, and add to the tomatoes and chillies. Mix well. This shouldn't really be a sauce, but a mixture of the olive oil and the sweet juices of the tomatoes should provide a lovely covering.

Obviously season well, and cover in parmesan. A drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice adds a bit of depth and also looks good.

Zil is unfortunate enough not to have tried this yet, so a Zilometer score has not been applied.

Spinach, pine nut and ricotta penne.

I am obviously not going to claim responsibility for this combination, as it is age old, but this pasta dish is very definitely, awesome.

Pine Nuts - as many as you want
Spinach - about half a big bag
Ricotta cheese - About half a small pot
Sea salt

Get your big pan of water on the boil, and add you pasta.

Pan fry your nuts in a dry pan. Beware these will turn very quickly so don't burn them. Put them to the side and when your pasta is cooked drain and it to the pan with a couple of spoons of their cooking water and a small knob of butter. 
Add your spinach and ricotta and stir in the frying pan until the ricotta has melted and toss in the pine nuts.
You will need to season this one well as spinach and ricotta love salt and pepper.

Zilometer: A rather harsh 7.5/10 for this dish from Zil, was made up for by an admission later that his postprandial satisfaction was a heart-warming 9/10

I hope you enjoy these lovely pasta dishes, they really are piss easy and really tasty. I do realise they are both vegetarian so my next post (post payday) is going to be a feast of meat, and i promise pictures.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Urban Umbria: Carluccio's Restaurant

In this city, whatever the weather, we complain about the weather. What I enjoy is the complaining about the complaining. Complaining twice removed. We’ve complained about the rain. Now, we complain about the heat. Then, we complain about the complaining. “When do we not complain?” the British complain. “We always complain. We’re British”, the British explain. I did not intend to mention the complaining or the complainers. Oh...

I did intend to mention this wonderfully weird weather. There is no such thing as bad weather. There is only an attitude. As with all aspects of life, attitude will dictate whether something is good or bad. Each and every second, our opinionated minds get their opportunity to etch an attitude upon the blank, virgin canvas of experience. Therefore, in my opinion, weather, even British weather, is always subjective.  

Objectively, it has been hot. It is thirty degrees this evening in Hyde Park. Summer hangs thick in the air. Knightsbridge feels even more Qatari than ever. People drifting strolling, heavily and lazily, uncomfortably, this way and that, fanning, sweating thickly. That burqa looks a bit of a ball ache. It looks bloody boiling under there. Or, at least it looks more boiling than if you were to wear the same piece of material as one of these cool maxi dresses that Poppy is wearing.

We’re reclining. Not uncomfortably, very pleasantly actually in a relatively quiet corner of one of the busiest parks on the planet. We are reclining because we have just had a late lunch with drink at Carluccio's in South Kensington. A holiday day in London meant a lie in and a museum. It was OK but warm. I remember dinosaurs being cooler. By the time we'd learnt of the death of the dodo we were in danger of learning of the death of a group of children and their sweating mothers. It was time to leave the education and go in search of rehydration before I extinct-uished one of the adorable children. Combine London with heat and you often get sweat and stress.

We lolled as slowly as possible past the excellent early morning Pain Quotidian and the fun late night Brindisa. I had my mind and stomach set on something light and chilled that I knew a fat, sweaty, Italian man could provide.

I’m a fan of Mr Carluccio and Carluccio’s. In spite of the ever expanding waistline and empire, he and it have never let me down for quality and value. The restaurant chain is how Italian should be in a very London way. Clean. Cheap. Quick. Slick. Smart yet very relaxed. And it can also be used at absolutely any time of day. So, at tea time, it was more than happy to accommodate us for a coffee, an ice cream or a plate of pasta. We had all three.

Arriving at 16:30 we had ordered drinks by 16:31 and we were drinking cold Peroni and cold, cold water by 16:32. The Menu Fisso is such good value that to order it alongside the top quality Antipasto provides a mighty meal at an exceptionally good price. I had the pâté followed by the ravioli which were both exactly what I expected and wanted. The pasta at Carluccio’s is always very, very good. It is better than most more authentic Italians. I assume that quality of pasta should be a yardstick (breadstick?) by which an Italian restaurant is measured seeing as they, the Italians, as a nation, are quite keen on it. If you agree, then go to Carluccio’s and eat pasta. Poppy had bruschetta and a penne dish which, again, was exactly what was wanted and they were very good. No frills, no thrills but quality and exactly how good value Italian should be.

Cold sorbets, cooled coffees and £45 later we were both revived and refreshed and ready to face the steamy Arabian eve once again. I can recommend better Italian restaurants. It wouldn’t cater for my last meal. However, if forced to choose my keeper from all of the high-end high-street restaurant chains, it might just be the one that I would save. It is great value, always. It is great quality, always. And, thankfully, it is always perfectly chilled.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

One-Pan Seared Tuna with Rice Noodles

A few years ago, after a life-time of being allergic to all types of fish except tinned tuna. I discovered that i could also manage to consume fresh tuna steaks without imminently looking like bubble wrap, and sounding like a wheezy Kelly Jones. This was a revelation to me (albeit an expensive one), and tuna has now taken its place as one of my favourite things to cook.

Tuna steaks are suited perfectly to asian cooking due to their delicate texture and flavour and also the fact that they can be cooked very rare allowing the lovely variations in colour and texture that is so famed in the far east. This is my take on an asian style tuna steak with a light rice noodle salad, I am afraid it is probably pan-asian rather than local to a specific country but still it is bang-tidy.

Tuna Marinade
Soy sauce - a good couple of glugs
Oil - 2-3 tablespoons of oil (use vegetable/rapeseed/sesame/anything but olive)
Knob of ginger - grated
Chilli - 1 birdseye
Lime - juice and zest of 1
Star anise (optional) - 1
Few drops of tabasco

Take all these ingredients and mix them together, cover the fish in the marinade, cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Once the tuna has marinaded for enough time, heat a pan (to very hot), and sear the tuna (with all the juices) for about 90 seconds on each side.

Remove and leave to rest before carving. (Tip - for carving fish, try and use the best knife you have, and just let the knife do the work, don't saw the fish as it will tear apart very easily)

Noodle salad
Pre-cooked rice noodles
Smashed peanuts
Lime juice
Soy sauce
Some chopped ginger and chilli

As soon as you have taken the tuna off the heat, add a drop more oil to the pan and stir fry all these ingredients quickly together, if the pan is nice and hot this should only take a couple of seconds. Squeeze over some more lime add a drizzle of soy sauce and tuck-in.

Have included a couple of pictures of this, which i know is some hardcore food porn, so please excuse me for that. But i am trying to improve so thoughts are always appreciated.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Rhubarb Gin

This is an other guest post from one of the best mixologists in Wales, and what a recipe it is. As the weather is so awful why not sit down in front of the tennis with a refreshing rhubarb gin and tonic.

Give it a try and remember folks, always drink responsibly, or have someone responsible to look after you.

Rhubarb Gin
This is a merge of several recipes I have discovered whilst on a mission to kill brain cells in new and exciting ways. 

Cut up a shit loads of rhubarb into 1 inch lengths and score with a knife

Fry in a frying pan with a drop of water and some sugar, for couple of minutes, just to soften the rhubarb slightly. 

Add to a saucepan and add a bottle of gin put on a low heat until you can smell the alcohol burning off. Remove immediately, and cover with cling film and then again with foil. Replace the lid and leave for 3 days. 

Sieve and bottle.

Best served long with with tonic, ice and a slice.

Enjoy watching Andy Murray winning Wimbledon or Mo Farra winning gold for GB this summer. 

Thanks to Rich Cannon for this Liver melting recipe.