Author: MeatandOneVegBlog

Of Home Stays and Takeaways, Part 2

I ended part one of ‘Home Stays and Takeaways‘ by saying I’d see you all on the other side, and whilst we’re not quite there, now seems to be a good to touch base once again. The world seems to be waking again from its enforced hibernation, slowly opening its eyes underneath protective plastic visors to a new way of life. The panic which defined much of April is now seemingly a calmer, more resolute May, where we find ourselves queuing patiently in all weathers like this pandemic is a crap theme park. It appears that less of the public are shitting themselves, though this may be due to an overabundance of loo roll in the average home and less to do with rational thinking. Rational thinking appears to have deserted us in favour of blaming everything on everyone else.

I make no apologies for saying that thus far lockdown life hasn’t been bad for me, and that’s not purely because I ate a box of Miss Macaroon’s finest with my face on. I could succumb to the layers of pessimism that seem to dominate my timeline at present but I won’t. At the time of writing, and despite his best efforts, my pensioner Dad is in good health. The same for my close family, my girlfriend, and my friends. I don’t need to speculate whether I have had it because I haven’t been tested and my Instagram stories aren’t that desperate yet, but I know fit and healthy people who have been seriously ill because of it. It’s a horrible, awful thing that needs to end soon. A feeling I also had after two episodes of White Lines on Netflix. We’ve kept our heads low, drank way too much wine, and done our best to maintain a level of normality. Which, in our world, means eating other people’s food a lot.

We have a weekly date night. We put on clothes (remember them?), clear the dining table, put music on, and open the nice wine we said we’d never open. The weekend after the last post we took delivery of Ox and Origin. The showpiece was an entire Tarte Tatin to finish, all bronze topped like Dominic Cummings’s bald bonce after a spin up the A1 for a nice leisurely stroll in the sun. We ate it and forgot about the world outside ours for a couple of hours. The same goes for a £95 Carters at home package which fed us for the weekend. Friday night was a kind of pre-cooked chicken salad that not even I could fuck up, the following night a behemoth piece of dairy cow which I very much did. It appears that the difference in temperature between 52 and 59 is a big one when cooking steak. Claire still ate it whilst I drank heavily and stared angrily at the plate. We took consolation the following day by putting the Carters remaining cheese sauce, pickles, and hot sauce onto a Fat Snags hotdog. It was every bit as mega as it sounds.

Tom Shepherd proved that one star cooking is still achievable at home with a three course meal via Sauce Supper Club. Silky spiced carrot veloute and beef shin ravioli to start, a main of pork belly with black pudding and cauliflower, then white chocolate pannacotta with strawberries. Bosh. We went to Pulperia for a Sunday roast of your dreams that washed the walls of our home with scents of thyme, garlic, and rendered pig. These don’t come cheap (£75 for 2×3 courses from Sauce, £45 for two from Pulperia) but they are an investment in your happiness if you can afford it. If you can’t I’d suggest ordering the char sui pork belly from Baked in Brick that is close to that of Ynyshir in style and flavour. This regularly serves me until Ynyshir finally start sending food out.

What does one drink with this I hear none of you ask? Everything. Regular orders from Couch have kept us ticking over on the cocktails, which we’ve topped up with drinks from 40 St Paul’s, Ox and Origin, and 18/81. I’ve started to enjoy a voyage into natural wines thanks to a sale and some very personal service from Wine Freedom. If, like me, you know nothing about natural wines, email or message Sam and Taylor with what you like and they’ll match it up. You should probably stay clear of phrases such as ‘crushed grapes’ and ‘Blossom Hill’ though. And speaking of personal service, I ordered a bottle of the excellent Staffordshire Gin and received it same day, which could have been down to many factors that I have narrowed down to my charm and beautiful good looks. A second bottle order which took five days to arrive confirmed this.

The reality is this isn’t going away for a while so it’s great to see businesses adapt with a new way of thinking. I’ve queued at Digbeth Dining Club’s new click and collect site in the Jewellery Quarter for a burger from Flying Cows, and used my exercise allowance to pick up groceries from Caneat and Laghi’s Deli. We made the genius idea to get bulk orders from Buddha Belly, had Otto, Hen and Chickens and OPM delivered to our door by men watching from afar for us to retrieve it, and had Sunday lunch put into the boot of the car by the team at Backyard Cafe. Desserts came by the way Bournville Waffle Company and Urban Cheesecake because we have excellent taste.

The best takeaway we’ve had is hopefully the same as yours. It’s the sense of community which has shone brightly through the bleakness. The acceptance that we are all in this together. The zoom calls and the quizzes and the messages off friends who are checking up on you, to the neighbours you see for two minutes every Thursday at 8pm. The little touches that make us human. We had curry from Umami up the road and had George & Helens heal my hangover by bringing chips back down it. I’ve had wine from my friend Jo, chocolates from Ben, bread from Jamie, spirits from both Nathan and Leo, and cocktails and cookies from the batshit Luco who lives too close for comfort. None have anything to offer during this pandemic other than friendship, and that has proved way more important than any meal.

I’ll finish this by taking it full circle to where the first part started; a minute’s walk away at The Plough. Back on March 20th the pub became a shell, it’s only life a homage to the NHS from local children in its window. It’s slowly reopening, first as a click and collect service, now doing coffee and cake to go every day. Two weeks ago we sat down and had burgers in our dining room. The food itself the same ridiculously high quality as ever, eaten by two people who wish they could be sitting in that pub at that very moment. This weekend I have pizza ordered. It’s not the same but it will more than do for now. We’ll all get there soon, the good times are returning.

Pan-Demics: Aktar Islam, Opheem and Pulperia

Keralan Fish Stew

Ingredients

For the fish:

4 large fillets of seabass

Chilli powder

Tumeric

Rice flour

Salt

For the sauce:

1 ½ tbsps coconut oil

¼ tsp black mustard seeds

1 medium onion finely chopped

15 curry leaves

3 sun dried chillis

1 inch chopped ginger

10 okra, topped & tailed

8 indian aubergines

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp salt

400 ml coconut milk

100 ml water

1 small raw mango, finely diced

3 tbsps tamarind

Squeeze of lime

Method

1. Deep fry the aubergines for 2 minutes, add the okra for 30 seconds and set aside

2. Heat coconut oil in heavy based pan, add the mustard seeds and allow to pop

3. Add dried chillis, curry leaves, ginger and onion

4. Sprinkle with salt and allow the onions to soften and brown slightly

5. Add ground turmeric and chilli followed by a drop of water and cook out

6. Add raw mango, coconut milk and boil for one minute

7. Bring down to a fast simmer and add tamarind

8. Simmer for further 10 minutes then add the aubergine and okra. Simmer for further 5 minutes and set aside.

9. Add lime juice and adjust seasoning

10. Rub the seabass fillets with a sprinkling of turmeric and chilli powder, and dust with rice flour. Season with salt and pan fry in mustard oil.

11. Dry on kitchen towel and rest in sauce.

12. Serve with rice.

Pan-Demics: Jamie Desogus, Harborne Kitchen

Onion Broth

This is so simple but one of the most pleasing things coming out of our kitchen at HK, we like to keep things as simple as possible and not impart any unnecessary flavours so use water as our base. We have also made this with meat and vegetable stocks as the base which adds another dimension.

15 brown onions

10L water

Rapeseed oil

No that’s really it

(Roscoff’s makes the best broth but availability isn’t likely in supermarkets. Italian white onions are also good, but seriously this is delicious with a big standard brown or Spanish onion)

Peel and then half your onions, leaving the root on so they stay in halves, this is important.

Sear off the flat side of every onion in a deep stock/sauce pot with the rapeseed oil, you will not have enough room to do them all at once so work in batches and put to one side on kitchen towel to drain while finishing the other onions. You are looking for an extremely caramelised brown onion.

Once all onions are seared, wipe any excess oil from the pan, but leave the caramelisation from the onions in the pan.

Place the onions back into the pan and top up with water so all the onions are covered.

Bring to a simmer, and let simmer but not boiled for 40 minutes, then remove from the heat and let sit with a lid for 2 hours.

Top back up with water and bring back to a simmer for 20 minutes then again let sit with a lid for 2 hours.

Remove lid and skim any oil (if any) from the top of the liquid

Next remove all onions from the pan and discard, this may seem wasteful, and you can use the onions for a purée if wanted however they have lost all flavour to the stock and no longer have any value.

Pass the stock through a fine strainer and simply bring to the boil and reduce.

How far you reduce is up to you – keep it light and add to a gravy, reduce to a syrup and finish with pepper and cream for a steak sauce, or in between as we do in the restaurant.

We finish the broth with a minus 8 vinegar to add some balance and acidity.

Enjoy

Pan-Demics: Luke Tipping, Simpson’s Restaurant

Chicken Noodle Broth

Ingredients: Serves 4

1 Chicken Crown or 2 Legs

2 Carrots pealed and diced

2 Celery sticks diced

1 Leek diced

2 Bay leaves

1 Packet of egg noodles (broken into small pieces)

2 Chicken stock cubes

250g Shitake or Oyster mushrooms sliced

1 Bunch of Wild Garlic

Soya Sauce

Olive Oil

Method:

• Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, add a splash of Olive Oil

• Fry the leek, celery and carrots without colour for 2 mins

• Add the bay leaves, stock cubes and chicken crown

• Cover with cold water

• Bring to the boil and cover with a tight fitted lid, turn to a simmer and cook for 20 mins or until the chicken is cooked through

• When cooked remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once completely cool carefully remove the chicken from the stock with a slotted spoon. Remove all the chicken from the carcass and dice. Discard the carcass and skin.

• Bring the rest of the stock back to boil

• Add the egg noodles to the boiling stock and cook for 6 mins.

• Return the chopped chicken to the stock along with the mushrooms and heat through for 2 mins

• Add soya sauce to taste with chopped wild garlic leaves

• Serve

Pan-Demics: Lee Desanges, Baked in Brick.

JOSEPHS BAD BOY BROWNIE 

1 baking tray 30 cm x 30cm x 5cm lined with baking paper

375g Butter

375g Dark chocolate

95g Cocoa

200g Flour

7 eggs

650g granulated sugar

1. Melt the butter and chocolate together either in a ban maria or in a microwave, be careful not to burn the chocolate if using a microwave – leave to cool slightly

2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together for 8 mins using an electric whisk is best until very light and fluffy

3. Mix in the melted chocolate and butter mix

4. Fold in the cocoa and flour using a large metal spoon so you can cut through the mixture as you fold, we want to fold the fixture together but we don’t want to push out all the air and lift from the whisked egg and sugar mix, make sure all the flour is incorporated well or you will have little nuggets of flour in your brownie

5. Pour into a lined baking tray

6. Bake in the oven on 160 deg for 45 mins, the brownie needs to still be a bit wobbly in the centre so you may need to keep checking as lots of ovens are different.

7. Once baked take the brownie out of the oven, let the brownie cool a little first then put in the fridge, the slightly wobbly centre will set, once set turn out onto a chopping board, you should be able to get 12-15 good square portions….. just depends how greedy you are.

8. I like to put the brownie in the microwave for just 20 seconds so it goes a little gooey before I eat it.

Of Home Stays And Take Aways

The last time I sat down to eat anywhere other than my house was March 19th. It was in The Plough, the perfect neighbourhood pub which was a huge contributing factor in moving 60m away last November. Inside the mood was a sombre one: thirty or so people having lunch in a space usually occupied by several hundred, each practising a level of hygiene well above the norm; sanitising hands and cutlery and bottles of hot sauce in between slices of pizza and calzone. The Plough closed the following day, their spirit of community living on through the NHS rainbows which adorn the front windows, sent in by local families.

The elapsed time since then has been a blur of panic and confusion. Lockdown UK is a 24 hour assault of news and fear and graphs where everyone has an opinion and that opinion is lambasted across all forms of media without anyone really knowing what is going on, or any real proof to substantiate what is said. Where every picture of the outdoors comes with an immediate disclaimer that this is the one form of exercise for that day, self-policed in a world where everyone else’s movement is somehow more crucial than theirs to the planet’s survival. A crazy time that should be used for self-reflection, yet has become somehow about what we have or haven’t done to have contributed to this mess, splayed out across Facebook and Twitter for everyone to see.

It’s understandable to some extent. The majority of us have a lot of time on our hands to indulge in the voyeurism of the pile-up happening outside that heavily secured front door. In the last three weeks I’ve gone from petrified to scared to numb. From full time professional to full time house husband. My interactions with the outside world are few and far between; the make-shift gym in the spare room means that I have little reason to leave the house other than to buy food. And I miss it. I miss the bickering with my family. Miss seeing my friends and regretting the previous night’s actions the following day. Miss the faces of strangers, and the pubs, and the pub gardens, and the luxury of being able to sit in a restaurant eating nice food and drinking nice wine. I miss restaurants so very much.

I decided back at the start of quarantine that I would continue to pay for other people to cook me dinner as long as it was possible. The duty to support an industry that has been the backbone of this hobby is an important one for me. We started the Friday before the lockdown with a dinner from Harborne Kitchen that was a little out of the norm. I asked what I could do to help and they said I could purchase some ingredients to assemble at home. That night we sat down to liver parfait, then pork belly, finally washing down the apple tart with cocktails purchased from Couch the prior evening. It felt special, a little bit of our favourite places in the sanctuary of our own dining room/temporary office. It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said “only when it is dark enough can you see stars”, and I’m trying my hardest to follow that optimism, despite how bleak it looks outside.

Since then our dining table has hosted some of the stars of Birmingham: pizza from both Poli and Baked in Brick, and back to Baked in Brick for those bargain 10 quid Sunday roasts. I’ve answered the door to Dom from Caneat in nothing but a dressing gown before eating his obscene pork kimchi ragu pasta, waved at the guys from Baked as they dropped off cakes, and been accused of waiting in the window for my cheese and wine by Chris Connolly of Arch 13. Chris, it was my office, I promise. I’ve left cans of beer on the street for Rich from Fat Snags and then exchanged pictures later; him drinking Heineken in his garden, and me scorching the top of the cheesey spicy pasta he’s knocking out too cheaply. Forgive me, but you may have noticed that we’ve been throwing money primarily towards those we really like. Apart from Gabriel’s. That was just a really bad hangover.

The hard bits have been the least expected. I could have cried opening the door to Luca Laghi and not being able let him through to share a whisky as we did a few weeks before this started. I have so much admiration for that man, more so now that Laghi’s has now closed so that he can concentrate on his hospital work. The same for James Wong, a friend whose wedding I sabotaged long before this blog was ever considered. James will kill me for saying this but I’ve spoken to him enough over the phone to know the amount of burden he has placed on himself to help his community. We ordered to support that and he delivered it himself, dressed like a cheap backstreet surgeon with a grin that could be seen either side of his surgical mask. We’ve had excellent food from Royal Meal that turned up late because Cyd took a detour to pick me up a burger from OPM on the way. I asked if I could give Cyd the money for the burger and he told me to fuck off in his heavily accented voice. I took that as a no.

I keep telling myself that this will be quickly forgotten once the best times return. That the first lunch at Opheem is going to make it all flood back, and that by the time my mate comes for lunch at Harborne Kitchen the fear will be replaced with a newfound positivity. But right now that seems so far away. Earlier today I was asked to film a brief snippet for a friend who is keen to spread some positivity. I stuttered and stumbled my way through three awkward takes before delivering a mumbled message of stay home, stay safe and see you soon. It’s all you need to know. I’ll see you on the other side when the good times return.

Pan-Demics, part three

It’s day I dunno of however many days of quarantine. The days are now longer, which is great for an increased sense of panic from the 24 hour news vessels intent on spreading dread. My two outfits are on constant rotation and my face now resembles a wrinkled Michael J Fox in Teen Wolf. On the plus side I’m winning at Monopoly. I’m personally keeping away from the TV as much as possible, filling my time exercising, reading, writing, and cooking. If the latter is of interest to you, then I hope you enjoy part three, which features some great recipes from people within hospitality who have been very generous with their time

1) Meena Sharma of The Indian Streatery – Family Friendly Vegetable Kofta (GF)

Recipe: Combination of seasonal vegetable formed into balls, blended with herbs and home roasted spices in thick aromatic tomato gravy. Get the kids involved with the formation of the balls! It was a dish that our Mother (Head Chef) would make to disguise how much vegetables are in one meal! A cheeky way of getting us to eat all those vegetables we would normally run a mile from. A recipe made with love from The Indian Streatery x

Ingredients-serves 5-6 (12-15 balls):

Kofta (in tandem with method):

2 carrots

1 courgette

1⁄2 white cabbage

1 medium potato

Handful of shredded spinach

1⁄2 teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds

1⁄2 teaspoon of toasted crushed coriander seeds

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoons of gram flour

Sauce/Curry (in tandem with method):

2 tablespoons of oil

3 medium onions

1 teaspoon of garlic

2 fresh green chillies.

1 teaspoon of salt

4 cloves

2 cardamom pods.

3 curry leaves

1 teaspoon of ginger

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

Small handful of fresh coriander.

1 can of pureed tomatoes

1 tablespoon of crème fraiche.

1⁄2 teaspoon of coriander & cumin powder.

1⁄2 teaspoon of masala.

Tablespoon of dried fenugreek

Method:

Start with the Kofta balls- grate the carrots/courgettes/cabbage/potato and add to a blender. Once blended- in a bowl mix the veg with the other ingredients- spinach/cumin/coriander and salt. Add the gram flour. The natural water from the veg should allow the ingredients to blend and form the balls. (If not add 2 tablespoons of water).

Form 12-15 medium size balls and fry (in rapeseed oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat) until golden brown. Place on baking paper to allow them to rest.

Now for the sauce- add the three tablespoons of oil to a pan. Add onions, garlic, chilli and salt. Once onions have browned slightly must add cardamoms, cloves curry leaves after 2 minutes. After another 2 minutes add ginger, turmeric, fresh coriander and tomatoes.

After 15 minutes add crème fraiche alongside fenugreek, masala and the coriander/cumin powders. Add the Kofta balls to the sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

And there you have it an Indian Streatery family favourite. Enjoy & please share any photos on social media. Spread the love. See you soon! Have fun cooking!

Tips:

Use any vegetables that are readily available around the house.

If you happen to think coriander ‘tastes like soap’ just take it out- don’t worry it is not essential for the recipe.

If no fresh chillies available, chilli flakes will also provide the same kick!

Have some fun; the balls don’t need to be perfectly round!

For the meat fanatics- use minced lamb (with same spices) instead of the vegetables.

Exclude the crème fraiche to create a vegan option.

Pairing suggestions- rice/roti/flatbreads/pitas/wraps with a large bowl of salad & yogurt on the side.

2) How to Make A Pizza from Otto

So before I give you our pizza recipe, I should probably say I don’t think it’s the best recipe for making pizza at home. It’s nice because it’s proved for a really long time and cooked really hot, neither of which are so practical for home.

Here’s a link to a website I use if I’m making pizza at home:

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/topics/meal/pizza

For regular, circular pizzeria style pizzas, both the ‘foolproof pan pizza’ recipe https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/01/foolproof-pan-pizza-recipe.html and the Jim Lahey no knead pizza recipes https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/03/jim-laheys-no-knead-pizza-dough-recipe.html are great. The Jim Lahey recipe page has a video on how to shape too.

I’ve had the best results at home by starting the dough in a hot, dry frying pan and then finishing the top under the grill on full power. I think that’s the best way to simulate a really screaming hot pizza oven. You might burn one a bit on the bottom on the pan, but once you get the pan temperature right, it’s a killer method. Pizza Pilgrims recommended it when they were selling their pizza kits.

The other great thing about serious eats is that they have a range of pan pizza recipes, all different and all great in their own way. They make an excellent family style meal and, being slightly enriched doughs, keep a lot better too so can be fridged and reheated nicely. Most of these doughs also work well un-topped as focaccia.

Anyway, if you want to give ours a try, the recipe is:

Makes about 5 10” pizzas, takes 2 days (you could do this all on the same day with more yeast, but it won’t taste as good)

500g water (room temperature to tepid)

750g strong white bread flour (we use pizza flour, but bread flour will be fine)

20g salt

3g instant yeast (or 7 if you’re doing it on the same day)

In a mixer:

Add 400g of the water and yeast, mix and leave to stand for a couple of minutes

Add half of the flour, mix until combined (a minute or so)

Stop the mixer, tip in the rest of the flour and the salt and leave to stand for 20mins

After 20mins, start the mixer again and pour the remaining water slowly around the edges. This will help to get all of the remaining dry flour incorporated and (hopefully) leave you with a clean bowl at the end.

Mix until fully combined, smooth and elastic. Probably no more than 3-5mins.

Transfer to a large bowl (at least double the size of the dough)

Cover the top of the bowl with cling film and leave for an hour at room temperature (doesn’t need to be a warm place, just not cold)

Check the dough – it should have grown, but not necessarily doubled. If it hasn’t grown much, leave it another 30mins.

Punch the dough back and put in the fridge overnight, or for a maximum of 3 days. Make sure it’s well covered by the cling film, or in an airtight container to stop it drying out.

If you’re doing this without the overnight rest in the fridge, punch back and divide into 5 equal sized balls. Leave for another hour and then skip to the shaping.

When you want to use it, remove from the fridge 2 hours before cooking and cut into 5 equal sized chunks. Roll these into balls, cover and leave for 2 hours.

In the meantime, get your ingredients together (sauce recipe below) and preheat the grill a little in advance of cooking so it’s really hot.

Shape the dough balls into pizzas – use plenty of flour to stop them sticking to the work surface, and to your fingers. I like to press the balls firmly from the middle to the edge, leaving a nice untouched crust around the edge of about 1-2cm thick. Imagine pressing down on bubble wrap to burst the bubbles, but leaving the bubbles around the edge intact. The finished pizzas may not be totally round, but should be something like 10”.

When you’re ready, put a large frying pan, 20-30cm on the hob at medium to high heat (no oil). When it’s hot enough, transfer one of the pizza bases (shaking gently first to remove excess flour) into the pan, pulling and pressing gently so that it fills the pan. Watch your fingers!

Cook in the pan for a minute or so, or until the crust has puffed up a little and the dough doesn’t look totally raw.

Spoon your sauce into the middle and spread, sprinkle your ingredients over the top. Less is more!

While you’re doing this, keep checking the bottom of the pizza. Some black spots are fine, we actually want a bit of char, but you don’t want to burn it. You’re just aiming for a crispy, cooked bottom here, a bit blistered like a naan bread or tortilla. The grill will do the rest. You’re not aiming to cook the toppings at this stage either.

Before the bottom becomes charcoal, transfer to under the grill. If your frying pan is safe for the oven (ie no plastic or rubber handle for example), put it straight under the grill, no more than a few cm from the element. Otherwise, you can slide the pizza out on to a tray and do it that way.

Keep an eye – it will go quickly – and remove when the cheese is melted and the crust takes on some colour. Again, it’ll get some black spots (mostly the bubbles will catch first) and this is fine. Just don’t let it totally burn. The absolute ideal is a speckled, leopard print looking crust, and the toppings JUST starting to catch a little on their edges – ham or salami should be just threatening to crisp up, and the cheese should be melted but not crispy or overly browned. But that’s just me!

Bear in mind that the first one is almost always a dud. Don’t use up all your favourite ingredients on the first one, save your truffles and caviar for later! Here’s where you want to adjust the temperature a bit if it’s burnt or underdone.

A few extra tips:

Fresh basil and dried oregano are pretty much essential, it’ll taste so much better. Finishing with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a bit of parmesan is great too.

Fresh mozzarella is really great for this (although you could use grated, or even other cheeses). If you use fresh mozzarella, cut into small strips or chunks and use sparingly.

Too many ingredients will ruin it – it’s so tempting to chuck all your favourite things on a pizza, but the best ones are not overladen. For one, it’ll make the pizza soggy and harder to cook. For another, you’ll taste everything so much better if you stick to maximum 3 ingredients.

On the subject of avoiding sogginess and overloading, most vegetables (especially ones containing lots of water, like peppers) really benefit from being roasted a little bit beforehand. You don’t need them browned – the grill will finish the job for you -just softened a bit. Otherwise, cut them really thinly and they won’t release all their water in a soupy mess on the pizza.

The sauce:

There’s a million ways of doing sauce. Cooked or uncooked, herby, garlicky, with or without sugar, oil, you can honestly do whatever you want.

I love a cooked sauce on deep pan pizzas, but I think if you’re making pizza this way in a hot pan and grill, you don’t need anything other than tinned tomatoes – one tin will be more than enough, blitzed until smooth (or even a little chunky), seasoned with a bit of salt and a pinch of oregano. Add a pinch of sugar if they’re really acidic. You can blitz your fresh basil into the sauce, but honestly I think it’s best to put whole leaves on the pizza where it’ll fry a little and be really fragrant.

Let me know how it goes!

3) 20hr Beef Lasagne by Angelino Adamo of Tutto Apasto

Ragu:

250g braising beef steaks, or brisket or even mince (whatever you can get your hands on)

2 sticks celery

2 carrots

100g mushrooms

1 large onion

Sprig of thyme

Tomato paste

Chopped tinned tomatoes

Half bottle of red wine

Beef or brown chicken stock cube

Salt

3 eggs

100g ricotta or mascarpone

100g wild garlic

Fresh Lasagne sheets or for the pasta :

3 eggs

400g oo flour

Salt

Saffron if you have it

Mornay:

100g butter

100g flour

500ml milk

Half an onion

Sprig of rosemary

Peppercorns

100g red leicester/ cheddar/ mozzarella, I use a mix of all three

100g parmesan

1 lemon

Tsp dijon

1 egg yolk

Tsp worcestershire sauce

1. For the ragu, I did this the day before in a slow cooker

2. Start by dicing the mirepoix (carrot, onion, celery) into small cubes and sweat off with a knob of butter

3. Put into a colander and set to one side

4. In the same pan fry off sliced mushrooms

5. You can put in some diced bacon too, but this is quite rich anyway, so ill leave it to you..

6. Dice all the beef if it’s not mince, coat in seasoned flour and fry it off giving it great colour

7. Add everything back into the pan

8. Add a table spoon of tomato paste and cook out

9. A dash of white wine vinegar, and some sugar

10. Reduce this until nothing

11. Then add half your bottle of red wine or enough to just cover everything in your pan

12. Reduce by half

13. Add a beef stock cube and a tin of chopped tomatoes

14. If youve got any leftover salad toms, chuck em in, it’ll only give it more flavour

15. Bring to the boil, season it, but be sure to not finish the seasoning as it’ll take more at the end

16. Stick it in your slow cooker and forget about it

17. Optional -Boil up three eggs and grate or chop (something they do in agrigento, a town in sicily where my parents are from)

18. If you’re making pasta, I use a food processor to start me off, saffron is just to get a golden colour but it’s not a big deal.

19. If your using fresh pasta sheets, i soaked them in water for 5 minutes, an old trick nonna taught me to get a real quick bake and ‘the crispy part of the lasagne’

20. For the mornay sauce, melt your butter and cook out your flour, infuse your milk with the half an onion, rosemary and peppercorns

21. Once hot, add your milk slowly and keep whisking, make a little wetter than usual

22. Add in your cheese and then season, as parmesan is quite salty

23. Squeeze a lemon in, your dijon, worcestershire sauce and i like to add an egg yolk off the heat  just to enrich it a bit more.

24. When about to assemble- after the 20 hrs of cooking, your ragu should be falling apart and awesome, add your roughly torn up or chopped wild garlic to your ragu. If you don’t have wild garlic, grate a garlic clove in when your sweating off your mirepoix

25. Assemble any way you want, I normally go, ragu, pasta, boiled eggs, dollops of ricotta or mascarpone, extra grated parmesan, mornay sauce, ragu, pasta… and so on. The top layer of pasta, just cover with mornay and a mix of cheddar and parmesan

26. Bake and 190 for 25-30 mins depending on how large/deep your tray is.

4) Max’s Caldo Verde by Cliche Guevara

This is possibly the most simple recipe that I could do but it’s a dish I cook at home at least once a week because it’s ingredients we always have in the house. Serve it with a big chunk of crusty bread and you’re good to go!

Ingredients

1 onion slices

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

200g chorizo diced

1 kilo potatoes peeled and diced 2cm

1.5 litre chicken stock

250g Cavolo Nero stalks removed and thinly sliced.

Olive oil

Fry the onion and garlic until then add the chorizo and cook until everything starts to brown and the oil is released from the chorizo.

Add the potatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes to allow them to absorb that beautiful chorizo oil.

Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are just cooked.

Add the sliced Cavolo Nero and cook for a further 5 minutes and check seasoning. The potatoes should be breaking up a little bit giving the soup a nice thick consistency but not gloopy. It’s now ready to serve, just finish with some nice olive oil on the top because us chefs like to be all fancy and that.

5) Paneer saag by Breaking Bread Podcast

This curry is super simple to make and is based on a healthy Tom Kerridge recipe. If you’re not fussed about being healthy then you can swap the fry light for butter and the light single cream for full-fat single cream. I like my curries hot! If you do not, don’t add the chilli or add to suit your own taste.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

250g paneer cubed

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp salt

Fry light

1 white onion diced

1 tsp cumin seeds

795g can of spinach puree (I use KTC)

200ml veg stock

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

2.5cm ginger finely grated

3 long green chillies sliced down the middle from half way down

1/3 tsp garam masala

50ml light single cream

200g tomatoes diced

Salt and pepper

1. Toss paneer in the turmeric and a pinch of salt

2. In large pan (I use a wok) put on high heat, spray some frylight and fry paneer till golden brown on all sides, then remove from pan a put to one side. 4-5min

3. More fry light to pan and add onion and cumin seeds. Cook for 5 min or until light brown.

4. Add garlic, ginger, chilli and garam masala and stir for 2 min.

5. Add spinach, paneer, tomatoes, stock and cream. Bring to simmer and cook for 5 min.

6. Season with salt and pepper and serve with what you want.  I serve with rice and chapattis

Gusteau’s, Paris

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.

Last night I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.”But I realize only now do I truly understand what he meant.

Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more. It was a great night. The happiest of my life. But the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.

Pan-Demics, Part Deux

One of the only positives to come from this is the sense of community. Aside from those panic buying pricks, we are starting to look out for another: there are street WhatsApp groups and people prepared to put themselves at risk outdoors for the protection of others. This is a battle, and a big one at that, and I’m personally taking comfort in knowing we are capable of being less selfish as a race when the chips are down. So here, without any more babble from me, is the second instalment of recipes from chefs and bloggers who are way more talented in the kitchen than I will ever be. Apart from Rob, who I beat in a recent cookery competition. Hopefully you’ll find them useful over the long days ahead, there are five absolute crackers here.

1) Luke Tipping of Simpson’s Restaurant – Chicken Noodle Broth

Ingredients: Serves 4

1 Chicken Crown or 2 Legs

2 Carrots pealed and diced

2 Celery sticks diced

1 Leek diced

2 Bay leaves

1 Packet of egg noodles (broken into small pieces)

2 Chicken stock cubes

250g Shitake or Oyster mushrooms sliced

1 Bunch of Wild Garlic

Soya Sauce

Olive Oil

Method:

• Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, add a splash of Olive Oil

• Fry the leek, celery and carrots without colour for 2 mins

• Add the bay leaves, stock cubes and chicken crown

• Cover with cold water

• Bring to the boil and cover with a tight fitted lid, turn to a simmer and cook for 20 mins or until the chicken is cooked through

• When cooked remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once completely cool carefully remove the chicken from the stock with a slotted spoon. Remove all the chicken from the carcass and dice. Discard the carcass and skin.

• Bring the rest of the stock back to boil

• Add the egg noodles to the boiling stock and cook for 6 mins.

• Return the chopped chicken to the stock along with the mushrooms and heat through for 2 mins

• Add soya sauce to taste with chopped wild garlic leaves

• Serve

2) Si Toft of The Dining Room – Store Cupboard Sausage and Egg McMuffin

To be clear, I’m definitely in the “wait in the car until 11 for the proper stuff“ squad, but I appreciate that some weirdos are struggling without McDonalds breakfasts so as a man of the people….

Sausage & Egg McMuffin

100g Pork Mince

Dried Sage

Dried Thyme

Ground White Pepper

Salt

1 Egg

1 English Muffin

1 Cheapest Cheese Slice Available

For the sausage(burger), combine the pork mince with a pinch of dried sage, thyme, salt and ground pepper and form into a round patty(burger) about the size of the muffin, rest in the fridge until service (it’s definitely still called service). Should add for anyone that struggles with these complicated recipes, Pale Hall’s Gareth Stevenson heartily recommends Aldi’s frozen breakfast sausage patty(burger).

At around 10.57, heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add your sausage(burger) and fry gently until golden, carefully turn the sausage(burger), add a knob of butter and leave to cook through. In the same pan gently drop an egg into one of those egg ring things that your aunt definitely gave you one Christmas.

Slice the muffin in half and brush with clarified butter, toast to golden then set aside to go cold before topping with the cheese slice(no idea why it doesn’t go on earlier so it melts but I’m trying to be authentic here)(Also no idea why they’re allowed to call it cheese), add the sausage(burger) and egg, but inexplicably no sauce.

Wrap in grease proof paper to serve.

Wine: I never really bought into breakfast wines having to be white but with a Sausage & Egg McMuffin I always go with a chilled sauvignon blanc that can cut through the stodginess of a cold muffin without overpowering the egg. Nothing fizzy though, this isn’t Riviera.

3) Rob Newsome of Foodie Boys. Pasta Amatriciana

I used to spend quite a bit of time in Italy on business, yes that is correct, business. In between ‘going forward’ and ‘blue sky thinking‘ I ate some of their food – making something of an expert on the subject.

When someone says “Italian food” to you, you probably conjure up images of pizza and pasta because that’s all you know. Well, let me set the record straight, there is so much more than just pizza and pasta – but there’s no time for that.

Here’s a recipe for pasta Amatriciana.

First off, let’s talk pig. Being a successful businessman and award winning food critic means I’m able to acquire chunks of guanciale (cured pork cheek). I appreciate many of you won’t have access to this, so simply use pancetta – but do remember it’s not what you’re supposed to be using and try harder in future.

Next you’ll want some cheese – you’re supposed to use pecorino but you’ll probably use Parmesan because you’re a peasant.

Other ingredients, not necessarily how ‘mama used to make’ but screw your mama.

Shallots, garlic, bit of chilli, red wine, tomatoes, pasta – use bucatini if you have any respect for yourself.

How to cook amatriciana

1 Cook guanciale until the fat renders.

2 Chuck in some shallots and cook them in the pork fat.

3 Add some garlic and a few chilli flakes.

4 Chuck in some red wine and burn off the alcohol.

5 Add a tin of chopped tomatoes.

6 Boil the pasta. Keep it al dente – you’re not a toddler.

7 Remove pasta (keep some of the water to bathe in later, and some for the sauce).

8 Toss pasta in the tomato sauce.

9 Add a bit of the pasta water.

10 Shave some pecorino on top.

11 Eat.

4) Mark Walsh of The Forest Hotel – Onion Bhaji Scotch Egg with Mango Raita

2 red onions

3 cloves of garlic

20g ginger

½ tspn turmeric

¼ tspn chilli powder

¼ tspn ground coriander

¼ tspn ground cumin

3 tbspn gram flour

500g sausage meat

6 eggs

Raita

200g Yoghurt

1 lemon

¼ bunch mint

sugar

salt

2 mangoes

Boil the eggs in water and vinegar for 6.5 mins chill, peel and store in the water.

Slice the onions and sprinkle with salt and allow to stand and bleed out excess liquid

Toast the spices lightly then allow to chill.

Mix the spices in to the crushed garlic and ginger.

Add to the sliced onions and mix in with the spices and the gram flour then add to the sausage meat leave to rest for about 5-10 mins and check the mix it shouldn’t be too tacky and you should be able to roll into 90g balls with moist hands then wrap round the floured egg

Making sure there is no gaps

Then roll in some breadcrumbs and deep fry for 8 mins at 160oc allow to sit and rest for 1mins then cut

Mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice sugar and salt and fold in the peeled diced mango

5) Ben Charlton-Grey of every-bloody-where – Banana bread

This isn’t really a banana bread. Banana bread is typically loaf shaped, and needs either toasting or topping to make remotely enjoyable. Selon moi.

This banana bread/ cake recipe is genuinely unlike any I’ve tried before. It has an almost sticky-toffee like texture, with a great balance of sweetness thanks the the salt and yogurt.

I bake a 10- inch square. Anything with the same surface area will work, too.

150g unsalted butter, soft

400g dark brown sugar

180g natural yoghurt

4 eggs

3.5 tbsp dark rum. I use Brugal.

300g plain flour

2 tsp bicarb of soda (not the same as baking powder)

1 tsp fine sea salt

5 small or 4 large super ripe bananas

Wack the oven on 180 c.

Cream the butter, sugar and yogurt until light in texture and pale in colour. 4 mins in a stand mixer, 6 mins by hand.

Add eggs one at a time, beating between until fully incorporated.

Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.

Mash bananas with potato masher. You can blend them for a smoother texture but I like it left a little chunky.

Add the flour mixture, bananas and rum to the creamed mixture.

Fold until combined.

Line your tin of choice with greaseproof paper, or foil greased with butter.

Pour in the mix and bake. Check after 30 mins, but will probably take more like 40. It’s ready when you can gently press the centre and it slightly springs back.

Let it cool completely in the tin, then portion.

This will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Pan-Demics, part 1

Now would probably be a good time to disclose that I have had anxiety issues for twenty years. Like my girlfriends they tend to come and go in waves, and like my girlfriends the worst ones bring an overwhelming sense of dread, headaches, nausea, and heartache. I joke, because that’s how I deal with these things, but it’s not nice. Over the last two decades I’ve tried CBT, medication, and paid for shrinks. It works. Sometimes. Other times I’m the same pent-up arsehole. The last month or so hasn’t been nice; the media is awash with bad news, keen to tell us the latest death numbers, projected death rates, what isn’t stocked in supermarkets, symptoms, possible symptoms, the latter an issue that anyone with anxiety will tell you is a problem. When the worry takes over the brain you get sweaty and hot and the chest tightens to the point you can’t breath and you feel like you have to cough, even though you know inside you don’t. And if you have just read that last bit thinking the same is happening to you, please message me for my number. I’m here to talk.

I’ve made a recent decision to not mention either of the C words online. In these torrid times you can be part of the panic or part of the positivity, and I know which one I want to choose. So I give to you ‘Pan-Demics’, a likely short series of easy recipes from chefs and bloggers which use (mostly) stuff you’ll (likely) have at home. First four are below, please let me know if you try them at home and how they end up.

1) Jamie Desogus of Harborne Kitchen. Onion Broth

This is so simple but one of the most pleasing things coming out of our kitchen at HK, we like to keep things as simple as possible and not impart any unnecessary flavours so use water as our base. We have also made this with meat and vegetable stocks as the base which adds another dimension.

15 brown onions

10L water

Rapeseed oil

No that’s really it

(Roscoff’s makes the best broth but availability isn’t likely in supermarkets. Italian white onions are also good, but seriously this is delicious with a big standard brown or Spanish onion)

Peel and then half your onions, leaving the root on so they stay in halves, this is important.

Sear off the flat side of every onion in a deep stock/sauce pot with the rapeseed oil, you will not have enough room to do them all at once so work in batches and put to one side on kitchen towel to drain while finishing the other onions. You are looking for an extremely caramelised brown onion.

Once all onions are seared, wipe any excess oil from the pan, but leave the caramelisation from the onions in the pan.

Place the onions back into the pan and top up with water so all the onions are covered.

Bring to a simmer, and let simmer but not boiled for 40 minutes, then remove from the heat and let sit with a lid for 2 hours.

Top back up with water and bring back to a simmer for 20 minutes then again let sit with a lid for 2 hours.

Remove lid and skim any oil (if any) from the top of the liquid

Next remove all onions from the pan and discard, this may seem wasteful, and you can use the onions for a purée if wanted however they have lost all flavour to the stock and no longer have any value.

Pass the stock through a fine strainer and simply bring to the boil and reduce.

How far you reduce is up to you – keep it light and add to a gravy, reduce to a syrup and finish with pepper and cream for a steak sauce, or in between as we do in the restaurant.

We finish the broth with a minus 8 vinegar to add some balance and acidity.

Enjoy

2) Nathan Eades of The Wild Rabbit. Potato, leek, and wild garlic soup.

I collect wild garlic on my daily walk. It can be found alongside most riverbanks. This is a simple recipe, but remember to integrate waste: use the leftovers in other meals and put the potato skins in the compost bin.

1/2 potato

1 leek (washed)

1/4 onion

300ml veg stock (branded is fine)

150g of wild garlic

Start by separating the leek top and saving it for later. Slice the onion and leeks into the same size, use a peeler to slice the potato. This will mean they all cook at the same time. In the largest pan you have sweat the veg in 1 tablespoon of veg oil. If you have bay leaf and/or thyme add them at this stage. Add a generous pinch of salt and sweat for five minutes, until the veg starts to cling to the pan. Add the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the veg is tender. Add the wild garlic, cook for 20 seconds. Blend. Eat with crusty bread. Tres Bon.

3) Jonathan Swain of Plate Licked Clean. Tuna spaghetti

This recipe isn’t fancy or intricate or even- brace yourselves- ‘Instagrammable’, but it is easy, quick, tasty and strangely comforting.

Spaghetti (other pastas are available, but this works best with a long thin shape)

Two tins of tuna in oil

Garlic (3 cloves for me, but however much you and your fellow isolationists can bear. Besides, garlic kills C***D I saw it on Facebook. And that’s SCIENCE.)

Chicken stock (warm, ¾ pint)

Dried parsley

Black pepper

Get your pan of heavily salted water on to boil. Heat a little of the tuna can oil – you’ll fry your garlic in this. Give the rest to the cat. Have the drained tuna ready to go. Slice your garlic. Not Goodfellas prison-style thin, you don’t want it to burn. Fry your garlic on a medium heat until it starts to soften. Add the tuna. Stir. Throw in a good scattering of the dried parsley and a few hefty grinds of the black pepper. Raise the heat and gradually add the warmed chicken stock, stirring, so that the mixture stays bubbling away. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and reserve a few tablespoons of the starchy water. Add it to the tuna mixture. Add the spaghetti to the sauce (not the other way round) and toss over a low heat for 30 seconds. Another grind of black pepper won’t hurt about now. Enjoy. It’s great the next day, too.

4) Chris Wiggin of Canoodle. Wild Garlic and Porcini Polenta

3 cups of polenta

3 teaspoons sea salt crystals

100g Unsalted butter, diced

Coarse ground black pepper

Handful of fresh wild garlic leaves

1 cup dried porcini

Extra butter and olive oil for re-heating

Bring 3 litres of water and salt to the boil. Gradually pour in polenta whilst whisking. Lower heat and continue whisking whilst adding the diced butter. When polenta becomes to thick to whisk, transfer to wooden spoon. Continue cooking for about twelve minutes, stirring frequently unless all the polenta grains are soft. Meanwhile, trim wild garlic of stalks, wash thoroughly and finely chop. Place dried porcini in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to rehydrate for a few minutes until soft. Pour porcini stock into polenta and finely chop porcini. Add a good grind of coarse black pepper and adjust salt if needed. Add wild garlic and porcini and stir thoroughly. Pour in a non-stick 12 x 8-inch baking tin and allow to cool completely. Once cold turn out onto a board and slice into 16 2”x1” portions. To serve heat some extra butter with a tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and cook the polenta slice on all sides for about five minutes until heated through. Note, this makes enough polenta for an Italian family, but you can of course reduce the quantities.