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.

Sunday, 1 July 2012


This is one of my favourite summer soups, its very simple, requires no cooking, and is probably the most healthy recipe I will ever put on this blog.

I have managed to convert a couple of people to Gazpacho, and I think it is important to think of this not as a cold tomato soup but a completely different dish altogether. A little nugget of Spanish sun.

Everything needs to be roughly chopped so that it can go in a blender, I have done this with my little hand blender but it is a bit easier with a big one.

Peppers – 1 red/1 green
1 onion
Half a cucumber
Couple of cloves of garlic – remember it will be raw so be careful if you are out on the prowl later.
1 Chilli – seeds in or out
10 tomatoes
A good glug of Extra virgin olive oil
Lots of salt and pepper
Handful of basil
Some bread for croutons

Blend up all the ingredients together into a soup-like consistency. It wont be completely smooth due to the skins from the vegetables you can sieve this but to be honest I don’t really bother. Put in the frezzer/fridge to chill.
Make some croutons by frying some bread in oil with garlic and rosemary. You can serve this with some finely chopped cucumber and peppers for some additional texture. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Roast rib of beef with red wine and onion gravy

Roast rib of beef - the king of meats, the Zeus of roasts, the Jupiter of sunday lunches. Call it what you want, it is a fantastic cut of meat which makes for the perfect roast. Have it on the bone from the butcher and a two rib joint will easily feed five pretty hungry people.
You shouldn't need to do too much with the beef but you can try a few things;
  • Rub the joint in english mustard (either the real stuff, or mustard powder) before putting in the oven.
  • Rub with Horseradish (not the creamed stuff - as that will just burn in the oven) before putting in the oven
  • Just season with some salt and pepper.
I rubbed mine with english mustard and some toasted and crushed mustard seeds, thanks to a recipe from one of my cooking mentors Louise Walker (Aga Roasts by Louise Walker).

The best thing about rib of beef is that it tastes perfect and is so tender however long you cook it for. 

Cooking times
Have the oven pre-heated to about 220 degrees

For a perfect (if you ask me) medium rare (mine is pictured below) use:
15mins per 500g + 15 mins

18 mins per 500g + 15mins

Remember you will need at least 20 minutes to rest the beef when it has finished.

A good gravy is essential to the perfect roast, and this gravy recipe is great as a accompaniment for beef or lamb.

1 onion - roughly chopped
A couple of cloves of smashed garlic
Half a bottle of red wine
1 carrot - roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of flour or cornflour
Pint glass of good beef stock
Beef juices
Dash of madeira (optional)

Once the beef is resting take the roasting tray and put on a hob, add the onions, garlic, carrot and herbs to the pan and soften them. Pour in the wine and let it bubble of a bit until it has reduced by half. Add the stock and allow to reduce a little more. Add the flour and allow the gravy to thicken. Don't worry about lumps as they can be sieved out. When everything is ready, sieve the gravy into a warmed container/pourer (no-one likes cold gravy). 

I hope you enjoy the pictures and i will certainly be back with some more recipes when i return from a holiday in France.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Jamaican Curry

A couple of years ago I spent 6 weeks in Kingston and travelling around the fabulous island that is Jamaica. I loved the country, and wasn't only taken aback by the incredible culture of music, dance, sport, art and a fair amount of marijuana, but also the tastes and smells of the country. Although not having a huge amount of variety on the menus in the shacks that line the roads, you could be guaranteed that what was on the blackboard that day would be something different and truly amazing.

I loved the Jamaican curries and this is just my interpretation of the flavours and smells i can remember. Allspice seems to be the taste of the Caribbean, so don't try and substitute it 

I decided to write this at this time to celebrate the West Indies cricket team in England, and England winning the recent test series.

Any meat (or a selection of decent root vegetables) would be fine in this , but i used some beef stewing steak (Jamaican's would use goat).

Jamaican Curry

1 Large knob of ginger - match-sticked
2-3 Scotch bonnet chillies - sliced
2-3 Cloves of garlic - smashed
2 Onions - chopped up
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
All spice - 2 heaped tablespoons
Cumin - 1 tablespoon
3 potatoes - large cubes
400g of stewing beef/lamb/mutton/pork/goat
Pint glass of beef/lamb stock
Half a tin of coconut milk

Again another fantastically simple dish to make.

In a very hot saucepan brown off the meat in some vegetable oil and then turn down the heat and add the onion, ginger, chillies, and garlic and cook until the onions are soft. Add the dried spices and tomato paste and cook for about 30sec to a minute.

Add the potatoes and stir into all the flavour for a minute or two. Add the stock and cook for at least an hour on a low heat. When the meat is tender add the coconut milk and cook for another 20-30 minutes.

Serve with some Rice and pea's (which funnily enough actually contains, not peas, but kidney beans) and a refreshing glass of Ting, Ginger beer, Red stripe, or rum and any of the above.

Enjoy it.


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Puff Pastry Pizzas

I love a good Sunday roast as much as the next man, but to be honest sometimes on a sunday evening I fancy something a little lighter with limited amounts of prep and even less washing up. These tasty delights are perfect for those occasions when you fancy something comforting.

I am certainly not going to tell you how to make puff pastry, mainly cause I have no idea how to do it myself, and all the smug people on TV tell you that the shop bought stuff is just as good, so this uses a pre-rolled puff pastry (the non-rolled stuff is a little cheaper, so get it if on a budget, and the only thing i need add is... roll it out).

Also this is not really a recipe as who I am to tell you what to have on a pizza, so this is more of an idea.

Puff pastry Pizzas
Pre-rolled puff pastry (you will be able to get this from your 'local/metro/little' supermarket.
Tin of tomatoes/Passata
Clove of garlic (smashed)
Chilli - finely chopped
Ball of decent Mozzarella (buffalo would make it very special).

My favourite toppings:
Parma Ham
Red onion
An egg
Little balls of sausage

But to be honest have whatever you want.

Right pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Cut the puff pastry into the desired shape and size. Line a baking tray with some tin foil and sprinkle with flour.

Gently fry the garlic in some good olive oil in a frying pan and add the tin of tomatoes and chopped chilli, season and let the sauce bubble down for about 15 mins. When the sauce is done let it cool down a bit.

Place the pastry on the floured foil and put in the oven for 5 mins. Take it out and then start building your pizza. Sauce, mozzarella (slice or rip), toppings.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes and you will have a lovely teatime treat, small ones would be perfect for nibbles (my time in Liverpool has taught me that Canapés is not an acceptable word for small bits of food).

Be brave and crack an egg on top about ten minutes before finishing and you will not be disappointed.

Anyway i do think that this is a cracking light meal so please do give it a try, and any new topping ideas would be greatly appreciated.


Monday, 14 May 2012

Sausage and Leek Tartiflette.

Well I have been on a bit of a recipe sabbatical recently, but this simple hearty meal is me coming back with an alpine inspired bang.
I am a big fan of skiing and i love the big flavours and portions that are served to cold hungry skiers in the mountain restaurants, and this is a bit of tribute to that food philosophy, with a British twist.

Sausage and leek tartiflette. 

6-8 Potatoes (a good all-rounder) peeled and finely sliced.
2 leeks - finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic - 1 smashed, 1 chopped
6 good sausages - chopped up into relatively small pieces
Mug of double cream
1/2 a mug of semi-skimmed milk
Grated cheese - gruyere is best but a decent cheddar would be lovely too.
Pinch of fennel seed.

Gently fry off the leeks, fennel seed and smashed garlic in a pan with some oil. While that is softening, mix the cream and the milk together in a bowl with the chopped garlic. Layer half the sliced potatoes on the bottom of a greased ovenproof pan. 

When the leeks are soft take out the smashed garlic and put them aside. Fry the sausages for a small amount of time just to colour them a little. 

Place a layer of the leeks on top of the potatoes, and then the sausages, Pour over half the cream and milk mixture and sprinkle half the cheese over. Layer the remaining potatoes over the top and pour the rest of the cream mixture over the top. Finish off the with the remaining cheese and some pepper.

Place in an oven for at 160 to 180 for 1 hour.

You could chuck in some herbs into this at any point, typical potato herbs would be good. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, would all be equally as lovely.

I actually managed to split the cream on the first recipe i tried, so make sure you use double cream and i have halved the amount of milk on here. The more the fat the less likely to split.

Treat yourself on a tuesday night.

A hungry man.

Try this on a weekday evening and you wont be disappointed.

Zilometer (without the splitting): 6.5/10

My lowest score yet.
Note to-self: Must please him more next time.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Apprentice's Balls

  • The Apprentice Made Me Do This

    On the Apprentice last week they had a food task, which is usually hilarious because the applicants are barely complete humans, let alone business people or chefs; thus cooking displays the flair and adaptability they all think they have, but display like Baldrick ( . Of course, being a student, I have roughly Baldrick’s cleanliness, but I am in far more debt than him. Anyhow, the team led by knuckle dragging, 70’s throwback (provided everyone was thick and sexist back then like I assume) Adam decided to make “gourmet” meatballs. Given a budget, can I beat their attempt? 96 pence per serving I think they reached (It was a week ago).

    Adam's Bargain Meaty Balls.

    Serves 2 -3

    One good quality sausage (40p or so)
    A pork loin steak (anywhere between 40p and 80p depending on where and how many)
    Tin of tomatoes (33p)
    An onion (Bag of cooking onions from Iceland, 75p, so 8p or so)
    An egg yoke (free range, 17p)
    Seasoning, see above but use what you have
    Spaghetti (for 3, 345g, 40p)
    End of bread loaf
    Garlic (25p – I use posh garlic)

    £2.03, give or take, which is 67pence a dish for 3 people.

    I had a sausage and a pork chop in my fridge, and I decided to see if I can make the two into a meatball to beat the horror of Adam’s team’s effort. So I chopped my pork fine, removing the fat before as it is harder to cut finely and needs more effort, but should be cut and added for flavour. By finely cut, it is really up to you, but I went for short slithers of cheap ham slice size. Cut the fat up separately, and as fine as you can be bothered. Put it in a bowl.

    The sausage was a “finest” quality one, with apple, but you can use others of course depending on budget and taste. However - complete skimping is highly discouraged in the sausage area. They are not that dear, can be frozen individually and the cheaper ones are made from pork sinew dust, ligament puree and rusk; those cheap ones will not work in this recipe, probably. Yuck. Open the skin to the sausage and remove the meat. Add it to the pork in the bowl.

    Add half an onion and one or two garlic cloves finely chopped.

    Blend a bread loaf end to dust, add half of that to the meatball mix.

    Add your herbs. For apple sausages I used a big pinch of Cinnamon, Italian seasoning, dried parmesan (two big pinches), pepper, and a tiny bit of green pesto. It was literally what I had lying about. I even scraped a bit of growth off the pesto, before adding it of course.

    If apple sausages and a fruitier feel doesn’t appeal, swap cinnamon for ground fennel seed and some dried chilli. And obviously don’t buy apple sausages.

    Add an egg yoke to this meat, bread and herb mix and gently massage them together. I only say gently because you can lose much to the floor with vigorous manipulation.

    Simmer some onion, chilli (I used two birds eye), garlic and red pepper (I chopped up a half reasonably small) over a medium heat until soft. When soft add a tin of chopped tomatoes, oregano and salt and pepper. At this point any wine you have comes into play, a half/ full glass of white or red depending on taste. I’d use white with these meatballs. I didn’t have any wine as I prefer to drink it, so I put a cap of white wine vinegar in. I also added a mug of boiling water and some chicken stock. Simmer this.

    Roll the meat into balls, size is really up to you but I did quite big ones, and got 7 of them, which isn’t the ideal amount for sharing I admit. Add some pepper to the remaining breadcrumbs and roll each meat ball in it before frying them over a medium heat in olive oil or butter until golden brown on each side. Then add them to the sauce which is still simmering.

    Leave the meat and sauce to simmer for a bit, with the lid on and stir every few minutes while you boil the pasta.

    Do I need to explain how to cook pasta? If you can’t cook pasta everything previously will have read like Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The only advice I’ll give is do lots of spaghetti, say 115g per person, the dish is fairly sauce-y and rich so bulk it out with pasta to soak the flavour up.

    Another Challenge to the readers
     - make a cheaper more delicious meal than this.

    Adam Laudus (@theLadHimself)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Poncey Pork and Cider Beans

This french/west-country coalition, has taken a couple of efforts for me to get right, and there have been a few near disasters, but i feel last night it was finally nailed. Do not be fearful of it though, the final product is simple, impressive, and bloody tasty.

 Therefore i give you:- Roquefort stuffed pork fillet, wrapped in pancetta on butter beans leeks and cider.

The butter bean recipe can be adapted and used as an accompaniment for any meat really or as a vegetarian option of its own.

For the Pork
1 pork tenderloin fillet (this is the cut that looks suspiciously like Red Rum's pride and joy).
Roquefort (or dolcelatte cheese)
Pancetta (or smoked streaky bacon)
Sage (you shouldn't need to much as it has a very strong flavour)

Take the pork fillet, and remove the small bit of connective tissue (this is just the long white strand that will shrink when the pork cooks, so removing it will stop the fillet shrivelling up). 
With a small sharp knife make a slice down the length of the fillet and open up the fillet. Crumble a small amount of the blue cheese into the opened fillet. Lay on a couple of sage leaves (you could also use spinach) and reclose. 

Lay out the bacon on a chopping board so it covers the board. Close the pork fillet back up and roll it up in the bacon. Seal off the bacon covered fillet in a hot pan and place in an oven at about 180 for 10-15 mins.
Allow 2-3 minute to rest.

For the Beans
1 tin of butter beans (will do 2 people)
1 diced leek
1 clove of garlic diced
1 glass of dry cider or white wine.
Creme fraiche
Some diced pancetta (optional)

In a frying pan or sauce pan, soften off the leeks garlic and pancetta and plenty of black pepper. Once soft drain half the liquid from the butter beans then add them and the rest of the liquid. Add the alcohol and let it all cook down for about 10 mins on a medium heat. When the butter beans are nice and soft, and just before serving add a couple of tablespoons of the creme fraiche. The beans should have a decent amount of sauce to go with the pork so a separate sauce is not really needed.

Slice the whole pork fillet at an angle and place on top of the beans to serve.

N.B Be careful when seasoning this meal as there are some fairly salty ingredients (cheese/bacon) so season near the end.

Enjoy, and as always any picture of your inventions are most welcome. 
Once i have a decent camera on a phone that is able to do more than text, call and play Snake i will provide you with some pictures of my own (however much i hate amateur food porn).

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A hungry man's burger

After reading the wonderfully composed review of Byron and their burgers, I wanted to give you some lovely burger recipes to have a go at yourself.

I have always been a fan of the versatility of mince, and making great home made burgers is an easy, cheap, and fun alternative to the usual chilli con carne or spag bol.

In this post i will show you my own basic burger recipe, and then also some little variations i like to do occasionally to really mix things up.

500g of beef mince (normally a large pack) the better the meat, the better the burger.
Half an Onion - as finely chopped as possible
1 clove of finely chopped or garlic
1 egg
1 tablespoon of mustard
Lots of salt and black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture is combined. To taste fry a small amount of the mixture in a hot pan. Adjust if needed, and then make the remaining mixture into burgers. I like quite thick burgers to get a slightly pink centre, but if you don't like that then make the patties a bit thinner. This will allow full cooking without burning the outside. If you have enough time, try and leave them in the fridge for an hour or so before cooking.
Cook on a BBQ/griddle/dry pan. Make sure these are all smoking hot before putting the burgers on to ensure the caramelisation of the meat. They will probably take about 5 mins on each side (for a thick burger).

Ahungryman's Burger Variations 

  1. Italian Burgers:
    1. Add some sliced and diced olives and sun-dried tomatoes a drop of olive oil and some freshly chopped basil to the mixture.
    2. It is possible to take a small bit of mozzarella and stuff it into the middle of the burger so you end up with a burger with a melting middle.
  2. Thai Burger
    1. Add a couple of teaspoons of thai green curry paste, and some chopped coriander to the mix.
  3. Moroccan Burger
    1. Substitute the beef mince for lamb.
    2. Throw in a handful of finely chopped mint and a tablespoon of cumin 

To be fair though the best thing about making burgers for me is the freedom to do whatever you want with them. Try ingredients that you like, leave out ones that you don't.
Can you create the ultimate burger? Challenge on.

If you think you have created the perfect burger send in a recipe and/or a picture to share the meaty love.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Byron Burger (various outlets) Review

"Pleasure is a sin, and sometimes sin is a pleasure."

Lord Byron said that. I'm sure you food fiends agree. However, now, nowadays, I find pleasure to be underrated, often undercooked, and sin to be overrated, overdone, perhaps. That's an unnatural balance. For, with lessening personal pleasure, a life of sin leads to others being the beneficiaries of your sinful pleasures. You're left with the shell, the wrapper, the guilt, the sin. How was your dinner out last night? It was ok. Ok but was it worth it? I suppose, yes. Yes but did you really enjoy it? I know who did: the celebrity chef whose name adorns the foot of your foot long receipt. Fair play to them. It’s your loss.

A typical "top end" London dining experience is filled with sin; primarily envy, greed and gluttony. The dish your partner ordered that you’d rather, an eye wateringly extortionate half-pound steak, the butter-duck-drip-fat-sugar-salt-fat-fat spoonfuls you shovel in to and around your sweating mouth: eating out in London is often a sin. And, like all sinful acts, it will likely leave you disappointed, self loathing, repentant. Sinning whilst dining isn't winning.

So, it is with some relish, that one occasionally discovers a dining experience that manages to successfully walk the taut rope between sin and pleasure. For if a sin retains its pleasure it is easier for it to be forgiven. With pleasure, one can repent. Forgive me. It was worth it.

Byron is one such experience. It is simple, clean, fun, friendly value. It is healthy (for human beings who like to eat food). It is almost everything that eating out should be. It is not many things that eating out often is. It is always good.

Vitally, for what is a burger vendor at heart, it is also versatile. I hungrily happened upon the Earl's Court branch in a hurry one Wednesday evening pre sport match. Twenty minutes and pounds later I was firmly fed and well watered. I've slothed away Sunday afternoon milkshaking in a Byron booth on High Street Ken. I've got on it before going out-out in South Ken with cold Peroni in colder plastic pitchers being endured/ enjoyed post burger. Whatever you want, whatever you like, take your choice, pay your money and Byron brings it. 

I have the Byron Burger but all the meat burgers are excellent and I'd recommend the quality Scottish sourced red meats over the leaner, drier chicken. The formula is simple with quality potato sides, the macaroni is decent and the salads are salads. You have to have a milkshake and Peroni is preferentially priced if it's that sort of siduation. If it's date night, drink good value wine for it does what wine should. Burgers and wine; she's feeling fine...

Happily, I have always been serviced by the friendliest of professionals. Think pre-brainwash prettier Pret people. It can be fast food or slow food. If you want it quick, they give it you quick with no fuss. If you want it slow, they'll happily take their time for you. Just ask, smile, they smile back and get on with it. Service isn’t included so tip tidily at the till.

Therefore, with pleasure, my Byron vibe is positively positive. Byron seems to want to be good at what it does. It wants to please, to provide, for all sorts of happy, hungry customers. They also show an interest and promotion for charitable activity around their operation. In this vice fuelled, sin ridden world that is no bad thing. Being good whilst eating good is good.

A concern would be that as the successful chain continues to expand the quality of their product inversely heads south. When I see evidence of this I’ll let you know. Until then, the point is moot. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy guilt free, great value Byron burgers. If eating out at Byron is a sin I will continue, with pleasure, to repent. Amen.


Monday, 16 April 2012

No-rice chorizo and pea risotto with crispy leeks

I am afraid you are going to have to trust me, but this is a cracking recipe and pretty impressive looking as well.

So this is made just like you would make a risotto but instead of rice, i use finely diced potatoes.

This will serve at least four more if you doing it as a starter.

Chorizo - diced in to1cm cubed squares
2 Leeks - both finely sliced
Glass of white wine
8 potatoes - peeled and diced into 1 cm cubes
Saucepan of good chicken/vegatable stock
1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
1 mug of frozen peas
1/4 of a mug of cream
Olive oil

Take the chorizo and fry until crispy in some olive oil. Remove the chorizo from the pan keeping as much as the oil as possible. Let the oil cool down a little bit before placing back on a medium heat and soften half the leeks and the garlic and either of the herbs (choose which-ever you prefer).

Once soft add the potatoes and stir. Cook for about 7 minutes until slightly translucent. Add the glass of wine. Now treat it just like a risotto add warm stock gradually until the potatoes are soft but still holding their shape) and the consistency is silky (this will take 20-30 mins). Add the chorizo, peas, and then when the peas are ready, just before serving add the cream and a knob of butter and stir in. Taste and season,

For the crispy leeks - take the rest of the finely sliced leeks. Place in a bowl and cover with cornflour and some salt (plain flour would work as well). Heat up a decent amount of vegetable oil in a frying pan and when hot add the leeks. (you can tell if its hot by adding one and seeing if it fizzles). Once they are crispy remove the leeks and place on a piece of kitchen towel.

Sprinkle the crispy leeks over the no-sotto and tuck in.

Zilometer - 9/10

Monday, 9 April 2012


Good day readers,
I have been asked by a certain “hungry man” to be a guest fish writer in this blog (because the primary author has allergies to all the best things in life; fish and shellfish).
After a rather hearty Easter, filled with Spring lamb, beef on the bone and robust wine, I thought it might be nice to take things down a notch or two and celebrate the “fruits de mer”. Thus I present a recipe for your culinary pleasure- my take on French mussels.
Many people fear buying mussels in the shops for two reasons- 1. The preparation is extensive compared to other meats. 2. Everyone is concerned about feeding people bad mussels. However if you follow a few simple rules, you cannot go wrong.

1) Preparation- The tools you require are running cold water (never soak your mussels in water- they will lose their lovely sea-salty flavour and then eventually die) and a blunt knife.
2) Tip all mussels into a bowl/colander and immediately discard any with broken shells. Keep any tightly closed mussels. Any mussels that are open, give them a firm tap on the work top; if they close they are keepers. Any mussels that remain open must be thrown away.

3) To de-beard the mussels you should grip the beard between thumb and blunt edge of the knife and pull gently but firmly away from the mussels hinge. If they have barnacles, do not scrape them with the knife (this will result in a black jus later on) instead just brush them with a soft sponge. If they don’t come off with a sponge, they won’t come off when you cook them.
4) Mussels do not keep! Aim to cook them on the day you buy them.
5) Everyone prepares their mussels in different ways, find the way you find most efficient and stick to it.
French mussels-(starter)
1 knob of Butter
Garlic 2 finely chopped cloves
2 glasses white wine (Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink, I like chardonnay for this recipe)
Mussels for 4 people
4 shallots
1 bundle of 4 bay leaves and 6 sprigs of thyme. (you don’t have to bundle them, I just find it easier to extract them for presentation)

3 to 4 tbsps of fresh chopped parsley (traditionally flat leaf but curly leaf would work too).
3 to 4 tbspns of whipping cream/double cream (single cream is too thin and will split)
Some good stiff French baguette bread

Heat a saucepan, and pour in the white wine and boil off the alcohol (only needs 45 seconds). Heat up a large saucepan and add the large knob of butter, shallots, garlic and the bundle of herbs. Stir until shallots are soft. Add wine and cover with the lid. When it looks to be getting all hot and steamy in there, it’s time to add the prepared mussels, recover with the lid and cook for 3 minutes only (any longer and the mussels will be rubbery and unappealing). Next add the cream and chopped parsley together, replace the lid, and give the pan a jolly good shake up, to make sure all the mussels are covered in the sauce.

This is a great way to impress friends and family as many people fear making mussels, when actually it’s not hard at all.
For variations, try mixing up ingredients from different continents. Let your instincts guide you and soon shallots can become lemon grass, pepper can become chilli, parsley can become coriander, double cream can become coconut milk.
Every seaside fishing town across the world has its own version of this very basic recipe, so come on, the world is your oyst........ mussel.

Next up... I got sole, but I'm not a soldier.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I am a big fan of soup. They are easy to prepare, and you can make bucket loads and freeze it. This one is slightly more time consuming than some simpler soups but still easy enough. It should have an lovely silky texture.

1 Butternut squash halved vertically
1 Onion - chopped
1 clove of Garlic - smashed
Chilli flakes - 1 tablespoon
Cumin - 1 teaspoon
Chicken (or vegetable) stock
Milk or cream

Having halved the squash in its skin, remove the pips and score the squash. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the chilli flakes and cumin over each half and drizzle with oil. Place on a baking tray and put in the oven for about 45 mins at 180 degrees. (Make sure the squash is soft before taking it out).

The squash should now be easy to peel so just pull of the skin.

In a large saucepan gently fry the onion and garlic in a mix of butter and oil (the oil stops the butter burning) until soft. Add the squash to the pan and stir so the squash soaks up the goodness. Add enough stock so that it just covers the squash. Leave for a few minutes and then using some form of blender blend the soup. Add a small amount of cream or milk about a shot glass. Season and serve. Boom

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Slow Roast North African Lamb

This is a dish i tried the other day having seen lots of slow roasts recently. It seems a very 'in' thing to do these days, as the days of having all meat blood red seem to be fading. It does require time in the oven but the prep time is nothing. The recipe is the spices i used but this is just a basis, it is up to you to choose what spices you like.
I used a leg of lamb for this but i actually think a shoulder would be as good if not better.

Lamb joint (with bone in) - 1kg will feed about 4 big eaters.
Mix of spices: cumin (seed or power), cinnamon, garam masala, cayenne pepper, dried chilli flakes - 2 teaspoons of each should be fine (as i said you can try any mix)
Lime - juice and zest
Tomato puree -  1 table spoon
Olive oil - 3 tablespoons
Garlic - Sliced
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients into a bowl (apart from the lamb). Stab the lamb with a knife in a few places and push some slices of garlic into each hole. Rub the mix over the lamb (getting in real deep boy), and, if possible leave for about 30 mins.

Place the lamb in a roasting tray, cover in foil and place in the oven for at least 3 hours at 140 degrees. Check about every 30 mins and if it begins to look dry baste and put some oil/water/wine over the meat. After 3 hrs take the foil off and cook for another 1hr.

After cooking remove the lamb from the oven and leave covered in foil for about 15 mins to rest. The joint shouldn't need carving just tearing with a couple of forks. Cover in chopped coriander and squeeze a lime over the top.

You can serve this with anything but some simple couscous and some yoghurt is perfect.

Zilometer - 8/10

Sunday, 1 April 2012

French Meal for 2 for under 20 quid

Well this is my first request on this blog, and a great challenge it is too. A french meal for 2 with wine and cheese for under 20 quid.
I am going to assume a few "store-cuboard" staples (*) so i apologise if you do not have these items in the house. 

OK so a Brief overview of the Menu - I will provide a link to a Tesco shop i have done to show the cost of this meal.

Caramelised red onion and goats cheese tart

Slow roast duck legs with dauphinoise potatoes

Poached Pears with Chantilly Cream


2 red onions  - Finely sliced
2 Cloves of garlic - Smashed*
3-5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar*
2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar*
Salt and pepper*
Ready rolled puff pastry
Decent knob of butter*
Goats cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions and the garlic and gently soften the onions for about 10-15 minutes. Once they are soft add the sugar to the onions and then the balsamic vinegar and thyme and let cook until sharp and sticky. Season and taste, if you think the onions need more sweetness or vinegar then add a little extra. Remove the garlic.

Lay out the pastry and give it 5 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees. After 5 mins remove from the oven and put the onions on the pastry, crumble the goats cheese over the top and place back in the oven for 15-20 mins until the pastry is puffy and crispy.

n.b, The pastry onions and goats cheese can all be pre-pared then popped in the oven 15 mins before serving.

I hate it when people tell you how to serve things so i will let you be the judge of that.


Duck and Sauce
2 Duck legs - skin on
1 Orange
Beef/lamb stock
1 clove of Garlic - smashed

Double cream - 250ml
Milk* - 250ml

Take your duck legs and season them with salt and pepper, place them in a roasting tray and cover with foil and place in the oven at about 140 degrees for 1hr 30 mins. Remove the foil and any excess fat, turn up the oven to 220 and cook for another 25 mins. The meat should fall of the bone and the skin should be lovely and crispy. 

For the potatoes - peel them and then slice them as finely as possible (like a crisp) sometimes the long slot on the grater works well. Rub garlic over an ovenproof dish (individual ramekins are nice too) and place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Having mixed the cream and milk poor over the potatoes continue to do this layering techniques until the dish is full. Place in the oven at 180-200 for at least an hour. See if a knife goes through the potatoes easily and if not place back in the oven. Different thickness of potatoes will take different amounts of time to cook.

For the Sauce - Take a smashed clove of garlic and soften in the pan. Add a glass of red wine and the juice of an orange with half the zest and a couple of twigs of thyme, add 100 mls of stock and let it reduce down to a sticky sauce.

Poached Pears With Chantilly Cream

A lovely light dessert after a relatively heavy first 2 courses.

2 Pears peeled but whole - (comice are probably the best)
Water - 1L
Caster Sugar* - 300g
Cinnamon Sitck*
Knob of ginger

Whipping Cream 
Icing Sugar*

In a sauce pan boil the water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved, add the spices and pears and cook for 30 minutes, or until the pears are soft and cooked through.
Let the pears cool in the liquid.

Chantilly cream - Whip up some cream add icing sugar until it is sweet enough for your taste, add vanilla extract/pod if you have any in.

Recommended Wine
Wine on a budget means only 1 thing for me. AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ. Any will do it has big flavours (and big alcohol content) and should stand up well with all these courses. I have included a McGuigan GOLD Shiraz at 7.99 which is very nice and will certainly do the trick. But to be honest with Shiraz you don't even have to pay this much.

And that will go perfectly with any remaining Goats cheese you have left.

Total Price: 18.39

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