Tag Archives: black pepper

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce – the 2014 edit

I’ve updated the original with my latest tweaks, and there’s still time to make this for Christmas.

A jar of Worcestershire Sauce steeping prior to being bottled.

I was quite surprised when I first found a recipe in one of Gary Rhodes’ books for Worcestershire Sauce, given that this is supposed to be one of world’s best kept secrets, the recipe only discussed by ‘those who know’ in the middle of a field. Anyway I made it as per Gary’s instructions for several years and it always went down very well with people who received it as a Christmas present – very good for cheese on toast apparently, as any Worcestershire Sauce worthy of the name should be. And then the there was the bombshell in 2009 of a Lee and Perrins employee apparently finding the original recipe in a skip! So much for the field, but frankly little we couldn’t have already deduced from the label, which brings me back to Mr Rhodes. Why, in his recipe, did he ignore so much of what the bottle already tells us about its contents? He includes no molasses or tamarind. I have added them back in, along with one or two touches of my own.

So whilst I don’t think Lea and Perrins should shut up shop just yet, if you fancy spicing up Christmas for your nearest and dearest you’ve still got time.

Should make a little over 1 litre

  • 1 litre malt vinegar
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 50g salted anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 birds-eye chilli, deseeded
  • 1 tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 3 tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 tsps tamarind paste
  • 10 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods, bruised with the back of a knife
  • 1 quarter tsp cinnamon and a piece of cinnamon or cassia bark
  • 1 third of a nutmeg [grated] and few blades of mace
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp good quality fish sauce [such as ‘Three Crabs’ brand]*

Place the vinegar, shallots and garlic into a pan and slowly bring to a simmer. Dribble in the treacle and stir well to dissolve, then allow to tremble gently for twenty minutes or so. Add all the other ingredients and stir well then cook for a couple of minutes more. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly as you warm a large glass jar in a low oven. Pour the warm mixture into the warmed jar and seal. This now needs to sit for a week, ten days, or even a fortnight, and should be shaken each time you pass the jar. Mine sits on the washing machine so that the spin cycle can shake it for me when I’m out.

When ready strain through a fine sieve, heat until just below simmering for two minutes, and when still warm decant into heated sterilised bottles. Never pour hot liquids into cold glass bottles, or cold liquids into hot ones – they should both be quite warm. Then seal and keep somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight until needed. There will be some sediment and you’ll need to shake the bottle before each use. I’d also keep the bottle in the fridge once opened.

Now then, who’s for cheese on toast and a Bloody Mary?

* If you saw my piece on Uyen Luu’s cooking class you’ll know about my conversion to proper, good quality fish sauce, and I wouldn’t dream of using cheap nam pla here.

Thyme and Tonka Bean Chicken

Tonka Beans, in a square white bowl, with shadow.

Did I mention already that I think the combination of thyme and tonka bean tastes like tarragon? Not exactly like tarragon – if that were the case it would be easier just to use tarragon! – but a grassier, less aniseedy version. They’re beautifully versatile little buggers these tonka beans, with a vanilla-like freshness that works just as well in sweet dishes [like my Christmas Pudding Ice Cream] as it does with chicken and fish. I swear I detected some yesterday too in the Pork Pibil which I had at Wahaca’s Southbank porta-cabin pop-up, though the recipes I’ve found online make no mention.

I’ve used the pairing here to update a recipe which I first shared in My St Margarets Magazine a couple of years ago. And I’ve changed the method too to produce an easy, prepare-ahead dish for summer entertaining, not least because I know the Lakeland Taxi Driver has a lunch party for twelve this Sunday! This version comfortably serves six, I’m sure you can do the maths. A recent road test played to rave reviews in a packed garden, hopefully your guests will feel the same.

For the chicken

  • A 1.5-1.7kg bird, and a lidded pot into which it fits snugly
  • A large bunch of thyme
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • 300ml white wine
  • 1/3 of a tonka bean, grated with a micro-plane or nutmeg grater
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the mayonnaise*

  • 1 large egg yolk, and 1 large whole egg
  • 350ml groundnut oil
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsps white wine vinegar

Prepare and cook the chicken as per my recipe for Pot Roast Chicken Veronique [ignore the bit about the Verjuice syrup for this recipe]. Don’t forget to season the bird well, inside and out. Grate the tonka bean over the chicken before you pour over the wine. When the chicken is cooked set it aside to cool. Strain the cooking juices and reduce to one third of their original volume. Let this cool too.

To make the mayonnaise blitz the egg, yolk, salt and mustard in a food processor. Then with the motor running start to add the oil – drop by drop to begin with, then in a thin stream, and then as the sauce emulsifies and begins to bulk up you can increase your rate of pouring. Add the vinegar to the finished mayonnaise with the motor still running. I’ve only just started making mayonnaise and now I can’t stop! It’s proper magical kitchen alchemy, and nowhere near as scary as everyone makes it out to be.

*If you don’t plan to make your own mayonnaise please use a decent ready made one – this really is no time for bog standard factory nonsense!

Roughly tear the flesh from the legs, breasts and back of the bird and scatter into a dish. Take a couple of small ladles of the reduced juices [about 60 ml] and mix into the mayonnaise, and taste. If you feel it needs more, add some. And perhaps add another small shaving of tonka bean, but do it with a light hand, if at all. The flavour could easily dominate, and will build as the dish rests.

Coat your chicken with the enriched mayonnaise, stir well, cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve give it half an hour or so out of the fridge, and decorate with some chopped parsley, a grind or two of black pepper, and some lemon slices – or some watercress, or perhaps pea shoots. It will need a little garnish as although it’s delicious it can look a tad monotone without. This deserves to take centre stage, so make sure it’s dressed to impress!

Last Days of Summer

As readers of My St Margarets Magazine will already know I’m about to welcome my first guest – Damon Hunt – who cooked the finest barbecue I have ever eaten earlier this summer. The man is a grilling hero. My barbecue is a feeble foldable affair like the one below, whilst Damon’s would require an extension to my garden. If you want to capture the last days of summer, get out in the garden and fire up your coals for his wonderful recipes…

Barbecue

Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto 

This all-time favourite can be pre-prepared and only takes minutes to cook.  It is a great starter whilst the steaks are cooking! Cooking time, just 3 to 4 minutes. Serves  4 to 6.

  • 16 fresh asparagus spears
  • 16 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Black pepper

Preheat the BBQ to medium-high heat. Trim the ends off of the asparagus. Take two asparagus spears and wrap them tightly in one slice of prosciutto around the middle. Brush lightly with the oil, minced garlic and black pepper mixture.  Place them onto the grill and cook them until the prosciutto goes crunchy.  Don’t overcook them or the asparagus will go limp!  Serve straight away. 

Grilled quail on a rocket salad 

Cooking quail on a BBQ can provide stunning results. They don’t take long to cook and only need a little extra bit of preparation to make sure the birds remain succulent. Serves 6.

  • 6 fresh, oven-ready quails
  • 1 litre of fresh chicken stock
  • Handful of thyme and rosemary sprigs
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 minced garlic cloves 

Truss the quails through their legs with a small bamboo skewer. Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the thyme.  Place 3 of the quails into the boiling stock and then reduce to a simmer.  Carefully remove the quails after 3 minutes. Bring the stock back to the boil and add the remaining quails.

Drain the quails in a colander and then pat dry with kitchen paper. Brush lightly with olive oil, salt, black pepper and garlic mix.  Insert the rosemary sprigs. Cook the quails on a hot BBQ for about 7-10 minutes.  Continue to baste and turn the quails whilst cooking until they are golden brown. Serve them on a rocket salad.

Smoked Mackerel Pate x 2

Smoked mackerel pate, topped with melted butter, parsley, capers and cayenne pepper

By slavishly following post heart attack dietary advice for over twenty years my late father ate so much smoked mackerel that he came to loath it with a passion. But then my parents always treated even the most casual advice from someone with a white coat and stethoscope as something not to be simply heeded, but rather carved in tablets of stone and set upon an altar. Ironic then that when the family recently gathered at the home the of my eldest brother, for the sole purpose of relocating our dear departed parents’ mortal remains to a dedicated area of woodland in the Lancashire hills, that I should be treated to a lunch of smoked mackerel pate.

The fraternal recipe, borrowed from a farmer neighbour, consisted of just smoked mackerel and cream cheese [with I suspect a fish to cheese ratio of c.2:1] simply blended together. And quite delicious it was too. If you want a more straightforward approach than what follows then I can highly recommend it.

For this version though I wanted to exploit the indulgent richness of the triple cream Delice de Bourgogne, and I couldn’t resist a bit more phaffing about too [as my dad would have called it!]. So the choice is yours, farmhouse or fancy. Either way it’s a piscine treat, just don’t eat it every day for decades if you don’t want to get bored…

Six to eight people will have more than enough

  • 280g smoked mackerel fillets, boned, skinned and roughly flaked
  • 140g Delice de Bourgogne [or similar such as Jean Grogne or Vignotte]
  • 2 tbsps creamed horseradish [as heaped as you like]
  • 3 tbsps soured cream
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • A good grind of black pepper

To finish [optional]

  • Melted butter
  • Flat leaf parsley, some chopped and a few whole leaves
  • A few capers or a few preserved green or pink peppercorns
  • A pinch more cayenne

Remove the delicate bloomy rind from the cheese carefully with a sharp knife so as to minimise any cheese loss. I’d never bother to do this if just eating the cheese but the flavour of the outer layer isn’t what you want here. Then just tip all the pate ingredients into a food processor and give it three or four good blitz pulses. The texture is up to you – for a coarser pate blitz less, for smoother blitz more. Check the seasoning and spoon into one big dish or a number of small ramekins. Chill.

You don’t need to top this but it does look pretty and takes no time at all. Mix the chopped parsley into the melted butter and gently pour or spoon a thin layer over the pate. Add the capers or peppercorns, and press a few whole leaves of parsley artfully into the butter. Once the butter has begun to set [after just a minute or two in the fridge] sprinkle over a little more cayenne pepper. If you do this when the butter is too liquid the little red jewels will all disperse instead of sitting prettily on the top.

Serve with bread or toast, and few more capers or some cornichons or gherkins on the side.

#smokedmackerelpate   #WFTTD

Wal-Slaw and PFC

 A coleslaw salad including celery and apple

Whilst to some of my younger readers this will clearly mark me out as some sort of antediluvian anachronism, I can actually remember a Britain before McDonalds. The golden arches didn’t make it to our sceptred isle until 1974, fully 6 years after I first landed, and it would be many years more before Ronald showed his face in the provincial backwater that was my childhood home.

Colonel Sanders on the other hand was quicker off the mark and KFC opened its first UK outlet in Preston in 1965. I don’t think the one I remember, a roadhouse style takeaway on Preston New Road, was the ground-breaker but it seemed always to have been there. We didn’t use it often – it was enough of a drive for the food to get cold before we got home, and being ‘foreign’ was clearly not intended for everyday consumption – but it was my first real introduction to the then exotic world of the fast food takeaway.

Perhaps because of this childhood association fried chicken still holds a special place in my arteries, and is one of the few fast food staples that I might still crave before 2:00 a.m. and whilst stone cold sober. The colonel’s spice mix is of course as secret as the recipe for Coca Cola [apparently not even the factories who make it know the exact proportions, which I would have thought could prove to be a tad awkward, manufacturing-wise?] but it’s not actually that difficult to cook up a reasonable facsimile at home. Many of the myriad American recipes available online use frankly frightening amounts of MSG but even if this did figure in the Colonel’s own mysterious mix you don’t need it. Plenty of good old fashioned salt and pepper does the trick.

Of course you can’t have fried chicken without some sort of slaw. When making this I had crunchy celery and apple to hand [as in a Waldorf Salad] and hey presto, Wal-Slaw was born! The sweet-corn is another classic fried chicken accompaniment so into the salad it went. A buttered baked potato finished off the finger lickin’ feast.

Wal-Slaw

  • Half a small red cabbage, finely shredded
  • Half an apple, diced
  • A shallot, finely diced
  • One carrot, grated
  • A small tin of sweet-corn kernels (not Colonels!)
  • Two sticks of celery, finely sliced
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • A splash of malt vinegar
  • Sufficient mayonnaise to bind

First dice the apple and toss in the lemon juice and vinegar. Then just throw everything else in and stir in the mayonnaise to your liking. Season and chill.

Philip’s Fried Chicken [PFC]

  • 6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • 4 tbsps plain flour
  • 1 soupspoon cornflour [optional]
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 2 tsps ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 stick of celery broken into four [optional]
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Soak the chicken thighs in the beaten egg and allow them to wallow for a while. Place the flour [and cornflour if using], seasoning and spices into a zip-lock plastic bag and shake well to combine. Throw the chicken pieces into the spiced flour, zip up the bag and shake well to coat them evenly. Rest the whole lot in the fridge for a few minutes whilst you heat up the oil and shake again.

In a heavy, lidded skillet or frying pan heat about half an inch of vegetable oil. The depth needs to be such that once the chicken is in the oil will not reach higher than half way up the side of the pan. To see when the oil is hot enough for frying insert the handle of a wooden spoon – when the oil forms lively bubbles around the handle you’re ready to go [NB very vigorous bubbling means the oil is too hot, allow it to cool a little and try again]. Using tongs gently place the chicken pieces into the oil, skin side down, and add the celery pieces if using – it may be an old wives’ tale but this is supposed to help to crisp the chicken.

Cover and cook for nine to ten minutes, checking from time to time that the underside isn’t browning too quickly – if it is, lower the heat. Again using tongs turn the pieces and cook for another nine to ten minutes but this time without the lid. When all the chicken pieces are beautifully golden brown all over remove from the oil and drain. Some say this is best done on brown paper such as a grocer’s bag but kitchen roll will do too. Let the chicken cool for a few minutes before you dig in to avoid southern fried lips, a less appealing dish by far.

Sufficient Temptation

Sorry – couldn’t wait!

I have always known this as a recipe for Jansonn’s Temptation, a dish so delicious as to have allegedly made the eponymous Mr Jansonn renounce his vow to give up earthly pleasures, hence the name. But it would seem not. My research tells me that the Swedish original is not made with anchovies [as here] but with pickled sprats, and apparently the genuine article has a crunchy breadcrumb topping, which this doesn’t.

No matter. Whatever this is it is certainly tempting enough for me – as you can see I couldn’t even wait for my camera to recharge before digging in. It eats beautifully with lamb, but this one partnered first some pan fried rainbow trout fillets and then some braised duck legs the next day. And in the absence of any of the above I’d happily eat it on its own, on my own, with the lights off.

A simple recipe like this is just the sort of thing to tempt me to tinker and tweak – some garlic perhaps, or maybe a bit of grated gruyere? Take it from me, I have tried, and there is no need. There’s a beauty in the simplicity which does not need to compete with extraneous embellishments.

And in the unlikely event that you find me on the verge of renouncing earthly pleasures, do me a favour and rustle up a batch will you?

Whilst this could probably feed two to four as a side dish you may well begrudge sharing it with anyone else

  • 500g waxy potatoes cut into fine juliennes [see below]
  • A 50g tin of anchovies in olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 150ml double cream

First peel the potatoes and cut into fine matchsticks about 2 or 3mm square. A mandolin with the right attachments will help but do be careful with your fingers and use a guard – you will have noticed that chef’s blood is not listed in the ingredients above and in almost all cases it is an unwelcome addition to a dish. Leave your matchstick juliennes to soak in cold water.

Drain the oil from the anchovies into a pan, place on a medium heat and soften the onions in the oil. Chop / mince the anchovies and add to the onions – they will disappear into mix as they cook. Drain the potatoes and add to the pan, giving them a stir for  a couple minutes to warm, soften slightly and absorb the flavours going on around them. Pour in the cream and do the same.

Tip all into a gratin dish, season with black pepper and pop into a 180˚C oven for half an hour. Check from time to time and if burning on top cover with foil. If after thirty minutes the potatoes don’t yield to a sharp knife give it a few minutes extra. The top should be browned and slightly crispy, the innards soft, moist and frankly heavenly.

Mushroom and Raisin Risotto

Dried Porcini mushrooms soaking to produce the stock

Firstly, a very happy new year to all my readers. For my first post of 2011 I’d like to share a favourite recipe which would be ideal for a twelfth night supper – an antidote to too many treatments of left-over turkey, but still with hints of Christmas from the sherry and the fruit. And the whole thing is oven baked like a Ligurian Arrosto so you won’t need to spend forever stirring at the stove. Perfect for chilly early January.

What began as an old friend from Delia Smith’s winter collection took a new twist one day when I was looking at the photo in the book and thought I saw raisins. Hang on, I thought, why not? The dish is rich with the forest floor earthiness of the mushrooms, salty and savoury with Parmesan, and warmed by the booze – why not add some sweet pearls of fruitiness? Trust me on this one, you’ll be back for more.

For two hungry people

  • 50g raisins
  • 180ml Oloroso sherry [or Amontillado if you prefer]
  • 20g dried porcini
  • 250g chestnut or portobello mushrooms cut into 1 cm dice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 175g canaroli or arborio rice
  • 70g butter
  • At least 150g grated parmesan, plus more to finish if you wish [grated or shaved]*
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

First pour 570ml of boiling water over the dried porcini and leave for a couple of hours. The soaking liquor will provide your stock, so don’t rush it as the longer it soaks the richer it will be. At the same time soak the raisins in the sherry.

Melt the butter and sauté the onions for a few minutes, then add the diced mushrooms. Drain the porcini [reserving the stock liquor], chop, and add to the pan along with the garlic. Allow this mixture to sweat on a low heat for another fifteen minutes, stirring from time to time. As the mushrooms sweat heat the oven to 150˚C and set a shallow dish to warm.

Turn up the heat under the pan, add the rice and stir well to coat with the buttery mushroom juices. After a minute or so pour in the sherry from the raisins and stir for another thirty seconds. Pour in the mushroom stock, the raisins, the salt and pepper and stir thoroughly. Tip everything into the warmed dish and give it twenty minutes in the oven.

Remove from the oven and gently turn everything over with a slotted spoon whilst also incorporating the grated parmesan. Back in the oven for another fifteen minutes, and it’s done. The finished dish will sit happily under a tea towel for a couple of minutes whilst you warm a couple of serving bowls. Top with more parmesan before serving.

*For a strictly vegetarian version try replacing the parmesan with Old Winchester, a British hard cheese from Lyburn Dairy made with vegetarian rennet. Find out more about Lyburn and Old Winchester in my article here.