Rick Stein’s India – Cooking the one pot wonder of Lamb Dopiaza

Rick Steins India

In common with many of you I was glued to Rick Stein‘s TV Series about India and took the first opportunity that I had to purchase a copy of the book that accompanied the series. Well when I say first opportunity, I waited until Asda (other supermarkets also discount) had it on special offer (Sorry Rick). A couple of years ago I spent quite a bit of time working and living in Hyderabad which is in Andra Pradesh and famed for biryani. Somehow I seemed to miss eating or even seeing all of this delicious food that Rick was getting his hands on, but I ate enough to pretty much stop my enjoyment of going to get an Indian meal in the UK as it just didn’t seem to be the same. Watching his show, however whet my appetite and reinvigorated my desires to get back into the kitchen to rustle up some Indian delights.

Lamb Dopiaza Rick Stein

The Lamb Dopiaza that he describes in his book (page 238 to be precise) is a true one pot wonder. Not only is it all cooked in just the one pot, but you just stick all the ingredients into that same pot at the start and cook slowly for 2 hours or so until it is ready. I am starting right at the end here by showing you the finished article on the plate and in the pot, but perhaps I should step back for a moment and just describe how easy it is to prepare this dish, and yes it is worth making it and reading on.

Lamb

The Lamb (about 500g) gets put into the pot, no browning just straight in there to wait for all of its friends from the Dopiaza party to join it. In India they probably would be doing this dish with goat, I was trying to get mutton, but we got this older lamb (perhaps on the verge of its mutton birthday) at the Covered market in Oxford.

A lot of onions

You need a whole lot of onions, it’s supposed to be a kilo but I just cut up everything that I had and it was about the same. Most of the time I would expect to be cooking these down a bit, perhaps until soft and lightly colored. No in this recipe you just throw them into the big pot.

Dopiaza Recipe Spices

Most of the preparation to create the flavor is basically a bit of chopping and a bit of measuring out from the pantry. On the board above we have 15g of chopped ginger, about 6-7 cloves of chopped garlic, salt, whole coriander seed, whole cumin seed, cloves, whole black pepper seed, cinnamon sticks, and some green cardomon pods. There is no grinding, no roasting to release the flavours, no softly cooking the garlic or ginger, nope in this recipe you just tip the whole lot into that big pot.

Ingredients

Curry at time minus 2 hours

Apart from all those bits and pieces, there was just some turmeric, natural yoghurt, Kashmiri chilli, some ghee (or butter) , and water to add to the pot. A big old mix up, then heat it up to the boil, reduce to a simmer, put a lid on and sit down to wait for a couple of hours. That is really all that there is too it. Sure you can fish out bits of uncooked lamb and onion on numerous occasions just to prove and clarify that it really does take 2 hours to cook, or you could make some naan or similar while you are waiting, I did both of those, but I spent most of the time feeling hungry and sniffing the aromatic air in the kitchen and all over the house, and probably up all the way up the avenue as well.

Rick Steins Dopiaza

It really is worth the wait, and the minimal efforts required to prepare it. It was nothing like any Dopiaza that I have had from any Indian Resturant in the UK. It was fairly hot from the Kashmiri chilli, but not too hot to distract you from the rest of the flavor. The onions which having been cooked slowly release a super sweetness into the dish, the yogurt added a nice sharp almost citric tartness. The lamb was just so tender it was falling apart. You don’t really need any rice, a naan or other Indian bread would suffice. I did add in a good pound of mushrooms with about an hour to go (that wasn’t in the recipe in the book) and they cooked down absorbing all the spice flavor as they did. If I was a vegetarian then I think I would be happy enough making a Mushroom Dopiaza instead. I am sure that you could make this with Chicken, but I think that the longer cooking time really gave time to let all the spices marry together and develop the sauce or gravy as they prefer to call it in India (yes Rick we were listening).

I am not going to reproduce Rick’s Recipe from the book (without permission) I have probably given enough away already. If you cant work it out from the pictures above, well you can always buy a copy I suppose or (not recommended) have a look at the book in the shop. It is available from all good stores and some not so good as well I imagine. He does give us a lot of the recipes from the book  on the BBC website so check those out.

my pantry

All I can say is that it was really easy, and I would say way better than any takeaway that you will buy. Ok you do need a good pantry, and it is worth building one up slowly as it opens up a whole world of flavor. Check more of Rick Stein’s recipes out on his website, and if you are passing my house and you smell something Indian in origin, well I am probably reading his book Rick Stein’s India which you can buy on his website

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Kerb at Kings Cross – ‘Spit and Roast’ Food Truck

Kerb at Kings Cross signSpit and Roast Van at Kerb Kings cross

Kerb at King’s Cross is a Street Food Market of mobile traders. It is located at the top of King’s Boulevard, N1C a couple of minutes walk from the King’ Cross Train station entrance. I had read about it prior to heading into London via St Pancreas (which is just over the road from Kings Cross) but I did not think I would be able to visit as it is open only between 11am and 2.30pm Tues to Friday and we were just going to be there for the weekend. Having said that our train was arriving just after 12pm so that was a chance if we planned well.

Even in the rain there can be no better sight that that sign for some food truck action, especially if you have just stepped off a 2 hour train journey. I suppose it might have been more sensible to have gone to the hotel to drop our bags off, but I knew that Kerb would only be there for another couple of hours and since the rain was really pouring I was worried that there would be no-one hanging around there for much longer if no food punters turned up.

Spit and Roast Menu optionsSlow Roast Pork Cob at Kerb

The day that we were there the truck that caught our eye amongst the rain drops was that of Spit and Roast

Their online menu lists the following possibilities;

“Spit roast Suffolk free range chicken, garlic & herb potatoes, gravy”
“Roast pork loin & stuffing bap”
“Buttermilk fried chicken, cornbread muffin, chicken gravy”
“Buttermilk fried chicken bap, apple & celeriac slaw, hot sauce”

The one that we got however was the one on the chalkboard that day which was the “Slow Roast Pork Belly Bap”. It was a very welcome introduction to the start of our London Food Hunting trip. Knowing full well that we could not afford to overdo it on the food consumption front we just had one to share. It really hit the spot, If anything the pouring rain made it even better as it was quite warming to the heart of my stomach. There was plenty of juicy pork meat, and a nice bit of gravy juice adding moistness to the bun. If I had any criticism it would be that the bun was too soft for the sandwich and once filled with juice it fell apart in my hands. I didn’t really care though as it was the meat that I was interested in and I would have been quite happy with just a tray of slow roast pork belly.

I am a little envious of all those of you who can lunch at Kerb more regularly. There are plenty of those trucks that I would like to eat from especially “Tongue ‘n’ Cheek” for their offal inspired burgers, “The Bowler” for their meatballs, I have the book and have tried many of the recipes, but I would like to try the ones they have made to see how much better they are. I also feel the extreme need to have one of Mother Flippers’ ‘Double Candy Bacon Flipper’ – a double stack with maple fried bacon and american cheese! OK I have to stop looking at the Kerbster’s Bios on the Kerb site now before I faint with food envy of the Capital Dwellers.

If you step off the train at Kings Cross or St Pancreas or are just in the area at lunchtime then Kerb could be the place to be

To find, locate and eat from the Spit and Roast Food Truck I suggest following them on Twitter

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Anna Mae’s Mac ‘N’ Cheese at the Southbank

Ana Mae's Mac and CheeseAna Mae's Board

I developed a real love for Mac N Cheese while I was living over in the States. Not quite an obsessive love, but the sort that prevents the ability to walk past a stall selling the stuff when I have reached that point where I am way past full already. Obsession or Gluttony? Probably both but I refuse counseling!

Anna Maes Mac and Cheese

In amongst a whole strip of street food purveyors on the Southbank of the Thames I stumbled across Anna Mae selling her Mac N Cheese. The food is described as “Southern-style Mac N Cheese”. There were plenty of good options on the board but I went simple to test out the base product and ordered a bowl of “The Annie Mac” which is described as ‘our classic – elbow macaroni in a three cheese sauce’. To be honest I only wanted a small bowl, but they only had one size which was a big pot for £5.

Annie Mae's Stall

It was a good creamy bowlful, the elbow macaroni (almost too soft) was mixed with three cheeses; Sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella. The cheese flavor was well developed with a creaminess on the first mouthful then a good sharp tang as you dug deeper into the pot. You know really we were so full I had only really bought this expecting to eat about a third but it was so good that we almost managed to get to the bottom of the pot. It was a good honest Mac N Cheese rendition pretty close to the stuff I got in the States and judging by the state of that pot when I walked back past the stall later it seemed that the masses on the Southbank agreed with me.

I was lucky enough to chance upon Anna Mae on the Southbank, but you can follow her on Twitter and Check them on Facebook to locate them on a particular day

The Menu

Anna Maes Chalkboard Menu

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Real Food Market at the Southbank

Real food Market at teh Southbank

The Real Food Market is held every week on Friday to Sunday from January to December on the Southbank Centre Square, behind the Royal Festival Hall. I was down here for the bank holiday weekend and had heard about the market via Twitter but had not realized until I got back and read their website that it was such a regular event. There were not as many vendors as I was expecting but it was still crowded and there was plenty of things to buy and eat. There was too much to be honest, and it will be a struggle to condense this post down without writing all night.

12.15am

Free RangeHog Roast Sign Hog Roast at the Southbank

The first stall that caught my eye was the Hog Roast or was actually it caught my nose as I tracked it out following that roasting pig aroma through hungry hoards and milling throng. It was just too hard to resist buying one of their hog roast sandwiches, even harder when they were handing out little samples of delicious juicy pork as you passed by. Later on in the day I turned around and thought that I had lost my companion in the crowd. What had actually happened was that we were passing their stall again and she had popped in for another sample.

Half a Hog Roast at the Southbank

As I knew that there would be many more mouthfuls of food to be eaten on this day we just bought one sandwich and got them to cut it in half so we could share. I don’t know why they are always surprised when you ask them to do this, do they not realize we are going to eat more than one thing? To be honest and I will not be the first to say this I am sure, “Why don’t they serve tasting portions?” I would be more likely to visit 6 stalls and have 6 small plates as opposed to just eating 1 big plateful. Anyway about this sandwich, yes it is as good as it looks, sadly there is no aroma function on the computer just yet, but believe me it was damn good. The sandwich was filled with plenty of soft juicy, tender meat,and a little bit of green stuff to add some crunch, and the bread was fresh and soft (bonus). A pretty good start to the market munch session.

12.30pm

Borough Market Cheese Company sign Borough market Cheese Borough Market Cheese

The next stop was at the Borough Cheese Company stand. We had already sampled some of their excellent cheeses without buying any the Borough market earlier,  so we took our chance to make up for that lost opportunity and made a small purchase. There were two cheeses on offer a 24 months old and a 17 month old Comtè. This cheese is made in Eastern France “in the cooperative dairies, named “fruitières,” of the Jura Mountains and aged in the renowned caves of Marcel Petite Fort St. Antoine. Comtè is a hard, pressed, cooked, cow’s milk cheese made using raw cow’s milk made from the Montbéliarde breed. It has similarities to Gruyere, with very deep, complex, long lasting flavor; always creamy, buttery, with notes of hazelnut”. We tried both the 24 month and 17 month and ended up with a small(ish) slice of the 17 month which was a bit firmer and a little less powerfully flavoured.

As well as finding them at the Real Food market, you can locate them at the Borough Market (Thursday 11-5pm, Friday 12-6pm, Saturday 8-5pm) at Venn Street Market in Clapham (Sat 10am -4pm),  and Partridges Food Market in Chelsea (Saturday 10-5pm). You can also get the cheeses at Neil’s Yard Dairy (Borough Market and Covent garden)

12.40pm

Flour Station Bread Stall at Real Food Market Potato Bread from Flour Station

Now we needed some nice bread to eat that cheese with and quite handily The Flour Station had a stall within staggering distance. The Flour Station story started in 2002 in the kitchen of the award-winning Fifteen restaurant in London. Then in 2004 they launched The Flour Station at Borough Market. You can read all about their story and where they sell their breads on their website and follow the ongoing story on  twitter and facebook. We bought one of their Tortano crowns which is made ‘with potato flour made from freshly baked ground potatoes and honey’. It went well with that cheese we bought, but it has quite a chewy crust and gets a bot hard quite quickly so be warned if you have weak teeth.

12.55pm

Arancini  Brothers Risotto Balls Aramcini Brothers Menu Board Arancini Brothers Snack box offer

Ok so after a little moment of food retail it was time to hunt out another snack. Arancini Brothers had a stall cooking and selling their ‘hand rolled risotto balls’. These are also gluten-free and vegetarian, but I will try not to let that influence my enjoyment of them.

Arancini Brothers Risotto Balls Arancini Brothers Sauce Arancini Brothers Snack box

I had not had a risotto ball before so was intrigued to try and not only that they were selling a small portion in a schnack box  for just 3. The only minor problem was that you just got 5 balls so not ideal for sharing, you could buy another ball for 50p more (we just cut the fifth in half). There was an option to have them with some of their tomato sauce or ‘naked’. I got ours ‘naked’ with garlic mayo. They were quite interesting, sort of like a little ball of Italian stuffing made with risotto rice. Not sure if I would rush to try them again, as there is so much else on offer, but I am glad I did try them out. Other traders should note that we tried them as they had a ‘small taste sized portion’!

1.15pm

Artisan Ice Kitchen  Artisan Ice Lolly Options

Would I have been so keen to have an ice lolly if I had not seen the Ice Kitchen people on the One Show on BBC1? Probably not. The young man on this cart was not exactly forcing them down our throats, but the telly appearance had clearly been good free advertising as most of the people standing in our queue were commenting that they were just trying them out because they had seen them on TV.

Orange and Mango Ice Lolly

I had one of their Orange and Lemon flavoured lollies for 2.50. It was surprisingly good, really sharp citrus flavours that were both refreshing and mouth watering at the same time. It was very full of Orange juiciness and had a sharp lemon tang as well. It was a pretty solid lolly and it managed not to melt before I ate it, or was it the case that I just did not give it a chance to melt? I am not saying which one it was. They had quite a lot of other equally tempting options available on the day and even more listed on their website. They have some new combinations coming soon as well. I would be interested to know what will be in ‘The London Lolly’ and the ‘New York Black and White’. Perhaps they will be available next time I visit the market. If you are interested to find out more then you may Follow the Ice Kitchen on Twitter and visit them on Facebook

1.40pm

Beer at the Soutbank

There were way too many stalls at the Real Food Market to sample something from all of them. So I think I will just have to take a pause with a non-artisan plastic pint of beer at the Southbank while you take a look at some of the other places in the gallery below.

Gallery of Misses Food Opportunities

Hazeldene Farm Chalkboard Hazeldene Sausage Rolls Hazeldene Farm at the Southbank Real Food Market

Hazeldene Farm – Those sausage rolls were looking good, but they had sold out of the Scotch Eggs which I really wanted

“Rare Breeds Farm. Farm Shop selling home reared beef, lamb and free range pork and eggs, organic veg, tea rooms with homemade cakes open weekends” Follow on Twitter

Woodwards Farm Chalkboard Woodward Farm Burgers at RealFood Market

Woodwards Farm – Almost tempted to try one of their burgers but I was too full. Locate their market visits here

Karantania Deli at Southbank Karantania Deli at Soutbank Real Food Market

Karantania Delicatessen – I was quite intrigued by these ‘pasta muffins’ – not enough to try one though

Hansen and Lyderson Sign Hansen and Lyderson Samples at Southbank

Hansen and Lydersen – I love a bit of smoked salmon

Tarts at Popina Popina Signage

Popina – These tomato covered tarts looked really delicious

Grilled Iberico Chalkboard Chorizo at Grilled Iberico

Grilled Iberico – If I had not already bought several links of Chorizo at the Borough Market I would have had some of these

Horn OK Indian Food Menu Horn OK Indian Street Food

Horn OK Please – This stall smelt great but it was too sunny for a curry today

____________

There were lots more vendors at the Real Food Market. They have a good list of who is often there on their website.

The Real Food Market runs every weekend, throughout the year from Friday-Sunday on Southbank Centre Square.

Friday 12.00 – 20.00
Saturday 11.00 – 20.00
Sunday 12.00 – 18.00
Categories: London | Tags: | 1 Comment

Jamie Oliver’s Diner Pop-up in London

Jamies Diner

Jamie Oliver’s Diner is on the corner at 23a Shaftsbury Avenue. Before we get going with this post lets be honest we are not supposed to take this as a serious fine dining experience it is just supposed to be a bit of fun. Since visiting I have seen a few somewhat cynical or perhaps not so heartfelt blog posts and reviews about this place declaring it to be some sort of sell out, or Jamie jumping on some imaginary diner band wagon. Perhaps he is, but I treat these sorts of places as Disney-style food emporiums. I get a bit tired reading all the vitriol aimed at any celebrity opening these sorts of places. I saw the same thing when Guy Fieri opened up his ‘American Kitchen and Bar’ in Times Square, I went there because I enjoy his TV shows, in fact I am watching him on ‘Diner’s Drive-ins and Dives’ as I type this. We all secretly know at the start that it may be all slightly tongue in cheek and perhaps slightly overpriced, we know he is probably not going to be in the kitchen, and that this is really a bit of a cash cow, but honestly, I don’t care I am standing in the queue with my fistful of dollars all ready and no-one else in that queue cared either I didn’t see anyone waiting to eat ironically or just so that they could ‘not’ enjoy themselves. Jamie does plenty of good work elsewhere so lets just let him have this one and enjoy it for what it is. If you don’t like him or have a problem with him making some money on the back of his fame then you are in the wrong place then you probably need to go somewhere else.

Burger Menu options

The menu had one or two items that really were not dineresque at all, untraditional would be the best description, but I chose to ignore that for the moment as I had already decided that I was having some sort of Burger. Well to be honest when I am testing out the burger cooking skills of the chef, or rather when I am choosing the burger toppings that I really like then I am increasingly a man of habit. Today as with many days in personal burger history I was having a Beef Burger topped with the smoked streaky bacon, Westcombe cheddar, and a fried egg.

Burger info Jamie's DinerDSC07669

The sunny side up fried egg topping my slightly pink beef burger was dominating the view of my burger sandwich stack. This was a good start as the egg was looking good. The cheese was quite a nice cheddar and the bacon had some decent flavour even though it had been crispy once, mine seemed to have become a little soggy. Hopefully it had not been sitting around too long. When it comes to burgers in a diner everything should be scratched cooked. The meat patty was decent, it was still juicy with a good charred taste. Not fantastic by any means but a pretty good effort.

Burger at Jamies Diner Another Jamie Burger

Taking the burger as a whole, it would not jump into my top ten all time burgers, but it might get an honorable mention in the Celebrity Burger league. You could do a lot worse, but at the price you might want to consider your options. I did not mind paying £8.50 for the burger, but adding another £1 for each of the three toppings and another £3 for fries was pushing it a little bit.

I know that Shake Shack and Five Guys are moving into the London Burger scene and some comparisons are already being made suggesting that you might be better off eating at one of those places rather than at Jamie’s. If I was you I would wait and see if either of those two places manage to make the transatlantic leap successfully before jumping to such bold statements. I have eaten at both on a semi regular basis when I was living in the states so I am also awaiting with interest.

Jamie Oliver Diner SignJamie Oliver Pop Up signPlastic Dinosaur jamie olivers diner

Jamie Oliver’s Diner is supposed to be a Pop-up restaurant but I understand that it is supposed to be there for the next two years so quite a long pop. Although it was a bit pricy, I suppose it is in Central London and you kind of expect that. I didn’t mention that they are a lot of plastic dinosaurs in the place, I really don’t know why I can only suppose it is a bad Diner Dino type of pun connection.

The other thing missing from a decent diner experience was a side or bowl of Macaroni Cheese. I did mention it to the staff so hope that they add that to the menu in future.

Jamie Oliver's Diner on Urbanspoon

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Italian Nose to Tail Eating with Adalberto Battaglia at Brick Lane Market

The Italian Gnocci Specialist stallAdalberto Battaglia at Brick Lane

In the Old Truman Brewery building, on Brick Lane in Shoreditch, Adalberto Battaglia was serving up Italian Nose to Tail Eating at his Quinto / Quarto food stall stand. He is here every Saturday & Sunday from 11am till 4pm.

Gnocci with OxtailGnocci wth Pork Cheeks

Here at his Quinto Quarto stall, Adalberto Battaglia is essentially indulging us all with a masterclass 101 in eating nose to tail. If you are a little unsure of trying some of those less popular parts of the animal, then these dishes are the perfect way for you to try them out. Trust me you get all of the wonderful flavours in the dish without seeing the ‘bits’ in their original form. It is not that long ago that people were umming and erring about eating some of the more unusual meats, then some bright sparks thought about putting them into sausages and burgers, and now more people are buying venison, ostrich, buffalo, bison, kangaroo etc. The same is true almost of offal as people are being more adventurous largely due to its demystification and more common use by many of our celebrated chefs and consumption by the foodie community. Yes I know that my gran and grandad were eating it before it became back in vogue, but that was mostly because they had to.

Gnocci with pork cheekGnocci wth Pork CheeksGnocci with Oxtail

The menu offerings at Quinto Quarto are

Gnocchi w/ pork cheeks Pizzaiola (garlic, capers, olives, oregano & tomato sauce)

Gnocchi w/ Roman style ox-tail ragu and cocoa powder

Gnocchi w/ slowly braised veal cheeks and Marsala wine sauce

Gnocchi w/ pancetta, pig’s ears and beetroots

Small £5.00  Large £6.00

 

There was also a vegetarian option as well, you can check out the full range on the website.

Gnocci with Oxtail

I wanted to try everything but ended up going somewhere in the middle of the nose to tail options after toying with having pork cheeks or the veal cheeks I ended up getting the Gnocci with Oxtail which was the “Gnocchi w/ Roman style ox-tail ragu and cocoa powder”.

To be honest every pot that was on the stall looked very tempting, but I was drawn towards the Oxtail on this occasion. We got a small bowlful for £3.75, only because this was going to be a long day eating through the various markets and so we were being sensible.

The Oxtail meat was shredded in amongst the rich meaty sauce and there was a lot of gnocci in there as well, all topped with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and some grated cheese. I found this to be a good hearty dish but it was not too filling. The cocoa powder was an interesting addition, I found it better to mix mine in alongside the cheese into the bowlful to spread and tame the slightly bitter flavor amongst the rest of the dish. I really enjoyed eating my bowl of gnocci with oxtail out in the Boiler House courtyard in the sunshine. There were plenty of people who admired the bowl and asked which stall it came from. I hope that they went inside and found Adalberto.

On his website Adalberto describes the preparation of this signature dishes a ragu with ox-tail, informing us that “I always follow the orthodox preparation of its classic roman recipe “La Coda alla Vaccinara” (translated in English as Ox-tail Roman Style)“. It makes good reading and he gives details of the recipe there as well. Not only that he does offer cooking classes if you want to delve further into this style of cooking.

DSC07741Quinto / Quarto sign

As I was taking picture of the stall and all the food Adalberto encouraged me to tweet it out, I was then sitting looking through the website to follow him on Twitter then funnily enough found that we were both already following each other. It’s a small world sometimes. I prefer eating from and meeting with my fellow foodie twitter companions rather than just clicking on that follow button🙂

Adalberto Battaglia and his Quinto Quarto street food stall is located at 152 Brick Lane (at the corner with Buxton Street) in the Old Truman Brewery’s Boiler House, Brick Lane Market, use the Shoreditch High Street Tube Station. Pay him a visit and try this great food Just to help track him down, you can follow him on Twitter also

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Getting my “Mincespiration!” with Dean Edwards

Dean Edwards Mincespiration

I could not resist buying the new cookbook ‘Mincespiration’ from Dean Edwards. I almost did but then I started to flick through it in Asda and several recipes jumped out off the pages and cried out to my stomach “Try me!” Then my brain got involved and pointed out that ‘you do seem to buy a lot of mince and perhaps you could try using it for something else instead of making bolognaise’. I thought that was a tad unfair as I have been making a lot of meatballs recently, but I quickly remembered that it is inadvisable to argue with oneself in full view of the general public. So I closed the pages of the book, dropped it in my trolley and that pretty much is the start of this love affair or is it just a flirtation with this cook book. Next week someone elses prose and recipe offerings may grab my attention, but this last week Mr Edward’s Mincespiration I have been all yours. I started off easy with the Beef Ragu Pasta then I moved on to the Moroccan Meatball Tagine.

Beef Ragu Pasta

Beef Ragu Pasta

My standard Friday night meal (if I am not going out on a myfoodhunt session) tends to be that old classic Spaghetti Bolognese. In Dean’s book he has his version which is Beef Ragu Pasta. It was quite different from my version, he cooks his mince then adds onions, garlic, and pancetta. I normally do it the other way round, frying off my onion and garlic first, then some oregano, but no pancetta. After that point his recipe deviated well away from mine. He then adds red wine, cooks it down until reduced by half before adding tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano and beef stock and leaves to cook slowly for 1 and a 1/2 hours. In the book he says it is worth the wait. I have to agree that it was worth it. A very different taste, nice and juicy but still a thick tomato gravy. It was a little bit tangy, not too sharp, but it did benefit from the addition of some quality parmesan. Although there was plenty of tomato added to the pot it somehow was not too much.  I would have liked crispy pancetta, but mine ended up being soft and melty, quite different texturally yet it worked well. I was getting a mouthful of mince and bacon together and I liked it. The meat had cooked into the sauce and as a result it ends up being quite a thick meaty gravy. It was much better than my recipe, but then again I am conditioned into liking mine after 20 years of cooking it the same way. I might try this recipe of Dean’s again, only with some cubed beef instead of the mince. I am not going to post the full recipe here, it’s in the book and basically you just mix up the items I listed and it won’t be far off.

Moroccan Meatball Tagine

Morrocan Meatball Tagine in Dean Richard's Mincespiration

When I was flicking through the pages of the book, it was the two page picture spread of the Moroccan Meatball Tagine that really caught my eye and basically sold the purchase to me of ‘another‘ cookbook. I do like a good meatball and these did look good in the pictures so this was my next venture into the leaves of the book.

meatball mix before mixingmorrocan meatball mixedmorrocan meatballs

First off it was a case of getting these meatballs made and into the fridge to chill for a bit. The mix was basically lamb mince, finely chopped onion, crushed chopped garlic cloves, harissa paste, fresh breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, plus salt and pepper. You just mix them all up, roll them into even sized balls of meat, and put in the fridge. Then you have the fun of trying to wash the harissa stain off your hands before you carry on making the sauce.

onion, apricots, crushed coriander seedspaprika, cinnamon,

For the sauce you fry up onion, garlic and ginger until soft, and then add in some paprika, ground cinnamon, and crushed coriander seeds (I ground them in a pestle). You get some great aroma’s floating around the kitchen while you did this bit. First that sweet garlic and fragrant ginger smell, then the perfume of the cinnamon hits as you add it and it starts to cook and release. This combined with the spicy paprika and the coriander starts to turn the air in the kitchen into the inside of a spice bazaar. I can imagine it filled with vendors grinding up their spices and throwing them into sizzling, bubbling, and steaming pots. Well maybe it was not quite like that, but you know, it certainly creates a great smell that tickled those taste buds in a cheeky almost over familiar fashion.

onions, garlic, gingeradding spices paprika, cinnamon, corianderadd the apricotsadd the tomatoes

For a brief moment it all started to settle down, but once I threw some chopped apricots and tomatoes into the party well then everything kicks off again. It does not help at all that your senses are getting a double hit as you start to fry those meatballs in an adjacent pan. Look will everyone on the stove just start behaving yourselves? You are all just showing off now aren’t you?

Meatballs in the sauce

The last act in the dance before you get near the end is to add some stock and the meatballs and cover. This should put the aromas to bed for a bit, but they just sit there quietly under the glass lid abiding their time and waiting for their moment on the plate. Toward the end you add a bit of honey and some seasoning, but to be honest by this time, if you are like me you have probably joined in the party spooning bits out of the bowl, while pretending to check for seasoning. If you are not, well there must be something wrong with you.

DSC07164

Well now, after all that excitement it was time to eat the final dish and there might be a concern that it was going to be hard to put on a good show after all those antics in the green room. It was not a concern, considering the relative simplicity of the cast list, this recipe produced a really quite impressive mid week meal. The combinations of spices, well they seemed to be just perfect, there were sweet bits of apricot, spicy tangs all over (some even on the taste buds), the meatballs were soft inside, crisp on the outside, both spicy and sweet. So maybe there are not the subtle layers that you might expect from a restaurant dish, but there was enough in-your-face flavour on this plate to meet the expectations of any guest at my kitchen table.

If you think back to that the tagline on the front cover of Dean’s Book is ‘Over 100 budget friendly, quick and easy family meals with mince’ then you might be forgiven on tasting this dish that I had actually used a different book. I didn’t though, this little tasty beauty came from the pages of “Mincespiration”. I was pretty chuffed with the meal, I have not been to Morocco and I am no expert in cooking with that style, but I think I could get away with a whole heap of brownie points by producing this dish in polite company, or even by feeding it to my friends.

Is it even worth putting out a verdict at this point on Dean Edward’s Mincespiration? Well if you just skipped to this last section then I suppose that I should. Actually no! I wont just read it and the answer will be clear. I am just going to carry on cooking from it. I just read a recipe for Lamb and Mushroom Pilaf so I know what is coming for the next meal.

All I can say at this point is that I most definitely have my ‘Mincespiration’ now. It stands on its own as a cookbook and I managed to get all this way without mentioning that Dean was a finalist on Masterchef in 2006 and a resident Chef’s for ITV’s This Morning. You don’t need to know that you just need to know that your bags of mince are safe if you marry them up with one of the recipes in this book.

“Mincespiration!” by Dean Edwards published by Bantam Press

“Available in all good bookstores and probably those that are rubbish as well”

Categories: Cookbook | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Pieminister in Oxford at the Covered market

pieminister sign OxfordPieminister in Oxford Covered Market

The Oxford Branch of Pieminister is located in amongst good foodie company inside the Covered Market in Oxford. There are not that many Pieminister locations, others are in Bristol, Stoke, London and in Amsterdam (surprising one that) but they do sell their pies to other outlets and pubs so you may get them elsewhere. This branch in the covered market was heaving on the Saturday lunchtime, in fact there was a queue out of the door waiting to get in. I looked through  the window at the plates of the lucky diners and could see that many of them were going for the full pie experience getting plates of pie, mash, and peas. I was almost tempted to stand in line to have “The Mothership” which is a pie with ‘mash, minted mushy peas, grated cheese, crispy shallots and gravy‘ for £7.95, but I had other plans so it was going to be takeaway pies for me on this occasion.

Pieminister Takeaway Pies selection 1Pieminister Takeaway Selection 2

At the Takeaway counter you can see all of the pies in the Pieminister range. It was a little bit  too tempting and to be honest I would have liked to have reached in and had one of each. I have already had the ‘shamrock pie’, the ‘chicken of aragon pie’, and the ‘matador pie’ more details of those below. If I have the eating time and spare pie money I would also like to try the ‘big cheese pie’ with “West Country Cheddar, garlic cream & buttered onions” and the ‘deerstalker pie’ with “British venison, dry cured bacon with red wine and puy lentils”. Too much choice to be honest, but then again plenty of variety to make you come back time and time again.

Pieminister Pie Options on the Menu

There are really too many pies to eat on one occasion, but luckily you can buy them and freeze them, and there are plenty of places across the country where you can buy them as well. In my current home town of Nottingham you can get them at the Canalhouse Bar on Canal Street. Just lookout for them as you wander about your own towns.

Shamrock Pie PieministerShamrock Pie Pieminister Sliced

One of the pies that we brought back was the ‘Shamrock Pie’. This is a pie filled with “British beef steak in a rich gravy with Irish stout“, when you cut into it you can instantly see that deep dark rich gravy that is enveloping the soft yet thick chunks of beef. The pastry is pretty solid and a bit crunchy, but there was just about enough gravy to soak into the pastry casing. I did make a bit of extra gravy to go with the pie, and instead of the peas and mash sides that you can get if you choose to eat in the Pieminister restaurant, I added some new potatoes with butter and some purple sprouting broccoli. These pies are well worth getting hold of for an easy evening meal.

Matador Pie from PieministerPieminister Chalk Board

We also have bought a couple of the matador pies which have been eaten and are delicious. They contain “British beef steak, chorizo, olives, sherry & butter beans” many many of my favourite fillings. I make a mean chorizo and butter bean stew and I am sorely tempted now to try putting that into one of my own pie creations. Another pie that has been sampled in the MyFoodHunt household is the “Chicken of aragon pie”, this one has “Free range British chicken, smoked bacon & tarragon” and is also a dang good pie.

As I wrote earlier a lot of choices to be made in the Pieminister pie eating and buying world! This particular branch in Oxford was at the covered market 56-58. You can find the other locations on their website here.  You can also follow them on Twitter and find them on Facebook

Pieminister leaflets

Pieministe Leaflet Menu options

Pieminister Leaflets Locations

Categories: Oxford, Oxfordshire | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Atomic Burger in Oxford

Atomic Burger Oxford

Atomic Burger in Oxford is one of two Atomic Burger joints, (the other one is in Bristol). On their home page they tell us that ‘Atomic burger might just be the best blinking burger joint you will ever visit’ so I suppose we should just give them a whirl then. The Oxford joint is on Cowley Rod which was about a 10 minute walk away from the main bit of Oxford where all the tourist buses and guides were fighting for attention and business. I guess that all those people were in town touring the colleges, I doubt that their browsing history was like mine which was something along the lines of “best burger in Oxford” or “Oxford burger”. Whatever it was that I typed into my browser ‘Atomic Burger’ kept appearing, so it was almost inevitable that it was to be featuring in my life around lunchtime.

Atomic Burger Menu CoverSection of Atomic Burger Menu

We squeezed ourselves into the last remaining table and settled down to peruse the menu. The first thing that I read made me very happy “Our burgers are cooked medium, a little bit pink“. Excellent news, that is how I like mine done so that they don’t dry out and so that I can still taste the meat. It is also a pretty good indicator that the patties are fresh and not frozen. Backed up by the next thing I read “All our burgers are hand formed by us to our mad scientist secret recipe

I really wanted to take the menu home so that I could make the cover into a poster, but I resisted mild larceany and took a picture instead. All of the burgers have quite random names, usually when I have seen this before I can work out the link between the name and the burger combination. I couldn’t quite manage that here, and to be honest, I am sure that they were just messing with me so that I had to shout out across the table that “I wanted an Audrey Hepburn!” That was going to be a burger topped with a fried egg, bacon, and an onion ring. My partner in ‘burger’ crime on this occasion was ordering up a ‘Dr Zachery Smith’ which was a burger topped with Swiss Cheese & mushrooms. I can see a tenuous link between the Swiss of the cheese name, and that of the character from Lost in Space or was it supposed to be the Swiss Family Robinson? “Does it matter? stop overthinking it” I cry out somewhere deep inside.

We ordered the burgers and settled down to wait hungrily

The Audrey HepburnAudrey Hepburn Burger

The ‘Audrey Hepburn’ burger, despite being unusually named, was topped with most of my favorite burger sandwich items, namely a fried egg, slices of bacon, and sliced fried onion.I just had to add some additional cheese to the standard offering to make sure that I was getting all 5 of my “burger 5 a day”. I tackled the burger head on (no cutting it in half for me) and grasped it firmly in both hands to take a bite. “Flavor-town!” This was a good combination, but then again how can you go wrong with the all day breakfast combination of bacon and eggs on a burger. (Hold on a minute is that where the name connection comes from matching the breakfast content with one of Hepburn’s iconic films- ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’? have I just been quite dim?). Back to the burger, the meat patty itself had a really good beefy, almost steak like, flavor and since it was cooked perfectly pink you still got some meat juice running into the burger sandwich to add more flavor. The texture of the crisp fried onion lying on top of the burger was a good contrast to the bite. The bacon was also nice and crisp and added a little bit of a salty taste to the party. The fried egg added a creamy and soft dimension to the sandwich, it would have been perfect if the yolk had still been runny. I always love it when it is as you then get that rich creamy sauce oozing through the bun, but I suppose you cannot have everything. There was a little bit of a surprise with a small veneer of lettuce, tomato and mayo layered onto the bottom slice of bun. They hadn’t been mentioned anywhere but they worked well, I do prefer it when burger salad component is restricted to a minor supporting role, something along the lines of the lettuce should be ‘seen and not heard’ it should not get in the way unless it is a BLT topped burger of course.

I guess I imagine that you are thinking I might have quite enjoyed this burger? Yep I did!

The Dr Zachery Smith burge with fries

The other plateful that hit the table was the Zachary Smith burger which was topped with mushrooms and Swiss Cheese, so basically a Mushroom Swiss burger. I did not eat it but from where I was sitting, it looked to be just as tasty, and judging from the sighs of contentment from the other side of the table I believe that it was equally as appreciated.

Atomic Burger Sign Atomic Burger Joint Oxford

This was a very successful MyFoodHunt trip, I was glad that the food research of Oxford paid off and I now have another good UK based burger joint to add too the list of places worth visiting.

On the Atomic Burger website they make the somewhat bold statement “We don’t go on about them but trust us, once tried then you are gonna struggle to ever eat anyone elses.”. You know what guys, you might just have been able to back that up. The only thing is that I ain’t driving all the way down to Oxford whenever I need a burger in the UK so I will be eating someone elses, but rest assured I shall think fondly of your burger as I do so.

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Matlock Bath – Promenade and Fish and Chips

Matlock Bath

Over many bank holiday weekends we have driven through Matlock Bath and seen the hoards of bikers parked up outside one or more of its many Fish and Chip shops. I have often been tempted to stop and join in, but there has never been anywhere to park. So this last Easter weekend we decided to follow the route of all those old Victorian travellers to the spa town and make our way here by railway. Much easier! If you have never been to Matlock Bath then I can best describe it to you as almost like a seaside promenade by the river. The main road through it, is lined with Fish and Chip shops, ice cream parlours, B&B’s and small hotels, together with an assortment of gift and craft shops. There are people strolling up and down, a mix of  leather clad bikers and young families with prams, on occasion both. The only things missing from the sea front experience is the smell or taste of salt spray in the air, the squawk of sea gulls and the sand in your ice cream or sandwiches. There probably are still quite a lot of those ‘land’ gulls swooping around, the sort that moved to the country from the coast to get up the pecking order and in search of a better standard of crust. ‘Rats with wings’ I believe is one of the more common and less endearing terms.

Matlock Bath Road Riverside Fish and Chips

When you walk along the promenade you are greeted by an almost ridiculous number of Fish and Chip shops. Not including the different pubs and hotels that had boards advertising the dish, we must have counted 9-10 just selling portions of Fish and Chips. In the end though as it was a bit chilly (well lets call it like it was, it was freezing) we chose the place that had the most seats inside. That turned out to be the Riverside Fish and Chips restaurant which is on the river side of the road. It had places outside to sit, but most of those were still covered with small piles of ice and snow. It probably was not the most traditional, famous, best of those on offer, but as I said it was inside and warm.

Haddock and Chips

I was not expecting too much so I just got a tray of haddock and chips which was £5.50. The fish was a bit thin and the batter was a bit crispy not dry but a bit too chewy for my tastes. The fish that was inside was actually OK there were nice soft and juicy flakes of haddock which I enjoyed, the only thing was that there was not too much of them and the ends of the fish was just a chewy crispy bite. Having said all of that, it was proper fish and not a frozen fillet. The chips were not too bad either although I did soak mine with vinegar, not always recommended but I quite like the smell of wet tramp in the morning. Well I don’t really but I suspect that is one some people may think of us vinegar dousing fools as they deem us. If I was here again on a warmer day I might try one of the other chip shops, but I don’t think that you would go that far wrong which ever one you choose.

The Riverside Fish and Chip shop is at 196 South Parade, Matlock Bath, it is about 10 minutes walk up the promenade from the Matlock Bath train station and on the main road that you drive through. You cannot miss it, and you cannot miss any of the other fish and chip options, the chances are that you may struggle to park at the weekends.

Categories: Derbyshire, Matlock Bath | Tags: | Leave a comment

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