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Pork Shiso Parcels

2 Jun

Shiso or Perilla is a fragrant leafy herb commonly grown in East Asia and is used particularly in Japanese and Korean cooking. The leaves are large and make a wonderful material to use as a wrapping for delicate meats or vegetables. These are stuffed with a pork and rice mixture seasoned with Asian flavours of ginger, garlic, sesame and soy but you could use tofu as a vegetarian version.Pork wrapped in Shiso Leaves

Shiso LeavesIMGP1217

Filling

  • minced pork
  • cooked rice
  • egg
  • crushed garlic
  • grated ginger
  • green onion or chinese chives
  • a dash each of: sesame oil, soy sauce and fish sauce (optional).

Mix 2 parts pork to 1 part rice with a hint of garlic, ginger and green onion, add the wet ingredients and mix really well. Add a little beaten egg to bind. Take large shiso leaves one at a time, lay on a board with the pointed end away from you . Lay a small spoonful of mixture about 1/3 of the way in the thick part of the leaf. Fold in the sides then once over from the front then flip over onto the pointed end. Cook by frying in an oiled skillet or brush with oil and grill. They can also be cooked over a fire or barbecue.

Serve with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar, add a hint of chilli if you want some heat.

Garden Note   Perilla frutescens var crispa  A Tender Self-Seeding leafy herb also known as Shiso or beefsteak plant.  Perilla is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which includes many strong aromatic herbs including; mint, basil, rosemary, lavender, Melissa, marjoram and sage. This tender bushy herb is grown for its aromatic leaves, flower buds and seeds. Used extensively in East Asia as a vegetable and as a herb, most famously the red variety is used to colour pickled ginger. It makes a great addition to a kitchen or herb garden and when the leaves are large enough great as a wrapping for grilled or deep-fried foods.

Chickpea Pancake (Farinata)

14 Sep
This is an Italian street food I first tried in Liguria, close to the southern coast of France. A kind of savoury pancake made from ground chickpeas made into a batter with water and seasoned with olive oil, black pepper, salt and sometimes with rosemary. It is a brilliant snack food and perfect for those who have an allergy to gluten and cannot eat wheat, particularly in pasta-eating regions where avoiding gluten can be a real challenge.
Traditionally Farinata is cooked in a wide flat copper pan with a 4-5 cm lip in a hot wood fired oven. In Nice, just back across the border in France, a similar dish called socca is made with the same ingredients and cooked in an oven or in a skillet over flames. I’ve never tasted the French version but this is what the Ligurian one tastes like. I got the recipe from the back of a packet of chickpea flour i bought in Liguria and have tweaked it to taste more like the local vendors.
  • 250g chickpea flour (about 2 cups)
  • 750g water (about 3 cups)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt (1 tsp)
  • Cracked black pepper (1/2 tsp)
  • Rosemary minced (optional)

Put the ckickpea flour in a large bowl or jug, one with a spout if you can so it will make pouring easier, add the water beating as you go. Beat the mixture until you have a lovely smooth batter then add the salt & pepper and oil. Set aside for an hour or more to allow the batter to mature it can be left overnight. Heat the oven to very high and put a metal baking tray or a large paella pan into the oven to heat. If you have one, a paella pan is the nearest thing to the sort of pan used in Liguria.

When the pan is really hot lift out and drizzle with olive oil, to coat all over, then pour in enough batter to cover the surface of the pan in a thin layer, tipping side to side to ensure an even cover. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pop it straight back into the oven. Cook for 10-20 minutes, depending on how hot you can get your oven, until the edges and bottom are brown and crisp and the top is starting to take some colour. remove from the oven and tear or cut into pieces.

Sprinkle with a touch more of salt and pepper then serve with a glass of chilled wine or beer and you have a lovely start to the evening. If you have friends round you might want to put the next batch straight in the oven, this stuff disappears quickly. The quantity here makes enough batter for 4 batches cooked in a paella pan

Variation If you don’t want to use an oven it works fine on a stove top, i find using a heavy cast iron skillet works best. Once it is crisp on the bottom, turn it over and cook to just colouring on the other.

Tips for best and most authentic results make sure that the oven is as hot as it will go, the pan you use is very hot and use plenty of olive oil and salt. My oven will only go to 240c but with fan assisted gets pretty hot, hot enough to get the farinata just right. For really crispy ones make the layer of batter as thin as you can.

Spiced Potato Burgers

10 Aug
Potato cakes or burgers like these are sometimes referred to as chops by Indian cooks and are one of the most popular chaat or snack foods of India where they are called Aloo Tiki, Tikkia, Tikiya or Tikya. I’ve done a fair bit of experimenting with the idea of these cakes and this is my version of them. They are pretty versatile and make a great snack, starter, lunchbox or finger food.
Makes 6 – 8 cakes
  • 3 large potatoes (cooked)
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch ground black peppercorns
  • pinch cumin seed (dry roasted & ground)
  • pinch ground chilli
  • 2 green chillis (de-seeded and minced)
  • small handful coriander leaves minced
  • 1 spring onion, minced or grated
  • grated ginger (optional)
  • oil for frying
  • fresh dried breadcrumbs to coat
Peel the potatoes and crush with your hands into a bowl, you don’t want a puree but a chunky mash. Season generously and to taste with salt, pepper, chilli and cumin, mix well then stir in the green chill, onion and coriander leaf and some ginger if using.
Divide the mixture into 6 to 8 portions depending on how large you want the cakes. Squash the mixture together and shape into balls. Flatten each ball of potato mixture into a cake the shape of a small burger. 
To cook 
There are four ways of cooking potato cakes like these:
  1. Shallow fry; in a frying pan or on a griddle with a little oil.
  2. Dip the cakes in beaten egg and shallow fry as above.
  3. Dip the cakes in beaten egg then coat in dried breadcrumbs and shallow fry as above.
  4. Dip the cakes in beaten egg then coat in breadcrumbs and deep fry.
Update Version 3 also works really well baked in an oven 180c for 15 minutes.
Personally I find the cakes dipped in egg then dried breadcrumbs and pan fried with a little oil are by far the best or as above baked, they hold their shape well and develop a lovely crisp outer shell which makes them more portable and suitable as snack, lunchbox, or finger food. The uncoated ones soak up too much oil, the egg coated ones make the cakes taste eggy and a bit soft and I try to avoid deep frying. I love fried food, so once I’ve got a pan of oil on the stove I am lost, I’d be eating fried food breakfast, lunch and dinner. It must be my Scottish upbringing that gives me the compulsion to deep fry everything.
I also like the cakes stuffed with a minty onion relish before being coated and fried. Choose your own method and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve sprinkled with a little chaat masala or with a tomato chutney or tamarind chutney and an onion relish.
Variations on spicing i sometimes add grated ginger when not stuffing and a pinch of garam masala for a warm zing. Although this is an Indian inspired recipe you can use any spices you like, they don’t have to be Indian flavours and you can use parsley or other fresh herbs with great results.
Gluten free version For those who cannot tolerate wheat instead of the breadcrumbs use crushed rice vermicelli noodles, put them in a bag to make it easy to crush, or use rice or chickpea flour to coat.
Cooks Tip this is a great recipe for using left over boiled or baked potatoes. If you are cooking the potatoes from scratch i think you get the best flavour out of them by boiling whole with the skins on, in salted water, then peeling when cooled. The potatoes will keep for several days in the fridge and the cakes seem to be better with potatoes kept for at least a day before using.

Spicy Chicken Wings (Thai)

7 Aug

Delicious wings marinated in coriander seed and leaf along with chilli, lemon, garlic and black pepper. Cook over coals or under a grill and cook until crisp. Serve as a main dish with rice or salad or one or two pieces as a starter.

Marinade for about 600g of chicken.
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp pepper flakes
  • 1 tp coriander seeds, crushed
  • lemon zest & juice of half lemon
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • coriander leaf, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce (optional)

Preparation
Prick the chicken pieces with a knife or sharp fork to help get the flavours into the wings and lay in a dish. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the chicken and rub into each piece. Leave in a cool place to marinate over night or for at least 4 hours.
Cooking
  1. Barbecue When the barbecue coals or grill are good and hot, put the pieces over the hot coals.  Turn and brush with any remaining marinade until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crisp, about 10-15 mins depending on the size of the chicken pieces and heat of the coals.
  2. Grill Cook under a hot grill for 15-20mins, checking and turning, until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crisp.
  3. Oven Roast Put pieces on a rack over a baking tray and brush with marinade. Bake in a preheated oven 220c/Gas 6 for 15-20mins until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
Cooks Tip
Mix up the chicken and marinade in a plastic bag as it will make it easier to rub the marinade in and to carry it out to the barbecue.

Crispy Kelp Appetizer (Korean)

6 Aug

Kelp, also known as kombu, is the the wide flat type of seaweed that is commonly found around the sea shores of Europe.  It is used to make stocks and as a vegetable. Here i have deep fried dried pieces and seasoned it with a Korean inspired mixture of mild chilli powder, soft brown sugar and sesame seeds.  The salty seaweed balances the sugar and the chilli powder gives a lovely pungent warm tone and the sesame seeds a nutty.

Deep Fried Kelp with a Korean style seasoning

  • Dried Kelp seaweed cut into finger food size
  • pepper flakes
  • soft brown sugar
  • lightly toasted sesame seeds
Deep fry the seaweed in a small pan of hot vegetable oil in batches and drain on paper. Be careful not to burn the seaweed or it will taste bitter so stand over it and lift out with a slotted spoon as soon as it expands and crisps. Mix the remaining ingredients to taste, make sure there is a nice balance of heat and sweet and sprinkle over the hot seaweed, toss to coat well and serve with drinks.

Green Olive Tapenade (Italian)

29 Jun
Green olive pate is the perfect Mediterranean summer food, it does not spoil, travels well and tastes divine when its hot making it a great picnic or lunch item. Salty and sour with capers and anchovies ground to a paste with garlic and lemon juice, delicious! Serve on bread or crackers as an aperitif or snack.


Makes enough to fill a 1 pint (1 quart) kilner Jar. 

  • 500g green olives, pitted
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp pickled capers
  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 1/4 cup oilive oil
  • zest  and juice of half a lemon

Simply pound or grind all the ingredients together adding more or less of each ingredient to your own taste and to get a good consistency. Ready to eat immediately and will keep in the fridge for about 18 months.

Variations i sometimes add coriander leaf for a change and do not always add anchovies particularly when cooking for friends who are vegetarian.

Chickpea Spread [Hummus]

21 Sep
Hummus simply means chickpea in Arabic and that is the main ingredient in this delicious spread. A super fast nutritious food that is versatile and easy to make, particularly if you have a blender. 
Prep+Cook 10 mins
  • 300-500g cooked and cooled chickpeas or tinned chick peas
  • 2 fat cloves garlic crushed
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt

  • Paprika or cayenne pepper if you like it spicy.
  • Lemon zest

Drain and rinse the chickpeas if using tinned but keep the cooking liquid if you have freshly cooked chickpeas. Put everything into a blender and give it a wiz until you have a smooth paste, adding a little water or cooking liquor if necessary to get a good consistency. Pour into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a little more paprika on top and the grated zest of a lemon. Hummus will keep for about 1 week in the fridge.
Cook’s TIP To use dried chickpeas, which do taste better, soak in water overnight then simmer for about 1 hour until they are tender, use the cooking liquor to thin the hummus.
Variations you can add fresh coriander, crushed cumin, preserved lemon, tahini or sesame seeds to the blend for extra flavour or variation.
Nutrition Hummus is also high in fibre and said to help reduce cholesterol.
This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 15/6/2006, I’ve just harvested our first crop of chickpeas which remonded me to update this recipe with a new picture and text.

Potato Omelete (Spanish)

21 Sep
Tortilla de Patatas or Potato Omelete, spelled omelette in France, is simple uncluttered food that is so easy to make once you get the heat and timing right. This is one of my favourite lunches or snacks and is sold in almost every Tapas bar in Spain, often cut into small squares to accompany drinks.
Serves Cook 15-25min
  • 3 Potatoes, thinly sliced (raw) or parboiled into thicker slices.
  • 1 Onion, thinly sliced into half rings (optional)
  • 4-6 Eggs, beaten
  • crushed rock sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • perhaps some fresh herbs for variation if you have them handy
There are three ways of making a traditional Spanish Omelette. All three require a good frying pan that will not stick and has a tight fitting lid.

  1. Fry onions in olive oil then take the onions out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil and fry the sliced raw potatoes over a very low heat (10 minutes) until almost cooked. Remove from heat stir in the eggs and cooked onions, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set and without letting the bottom burn.
  2. Fry onions in olive oil add parboiled potatoes stir to coat in oil. Remove from heat, stir in the eggs making sure all the potato pieces are coated in egg pushing any protruding pieces of potato down under the egg, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set.
  3. Fry the peeled and roughly sliced potatoes, with a little onion if using, in lots of olive oil covered to stew in the oil and steam. When cooked removed from the heat and stir into a bowl of beaten eggs. Season and return the mixture to the pan that has been cleaned and oiled or seasoned with lard. Cook gently until the egg sets.
Serve as a light lunch with salad or as canapés cut into bite size squares.
Cooks TIP if you have trouble getting the egg to set without burning the bottom finish off under a grill or turn the tortilla using a plate.

Onion Fritters [Bhaji]

26 Aug
I love onion bhaji’s and I’ve tried a lot of recipes but what mostly comes out are heavy stodgy lumps. What I want are the bhaji’s I used to eat as a student in Glasgow,  light, crisp and spicy morsels full of onions. This is them, mostly onion with just enough spicy coating to keep the sliced onion together while it fries. Delicious with a cooling yogurt sauce or spicy chilli sauce.
  • 1 kg onions
  • 2  heaped tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed, ground
  • 1 tsp garam masala recipe I
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
  • small handful coriander leaf, chopped
  • 1-3 green chilli, minced
  • salt
  • oil for deep frying
Slice the onions and put then into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with the spices and herbs and stir well to coat. Set a pan of vegetable oil to heat. Meanwhile sprinkle the chickpea flour, a little at a time, into the bowl of onions and really stir well to coat. Just use enough to coat the onions or if you want a more solid bhaji add a little more chickpea flour. When the the oil is hot drop in small spoonfulls of the mixture. Fry until golden, drain and serve with tamarind chutney, a sweet mint yogurt or chilli sauce.
Variation
Onion and Fenugreek Pakoras
I grow fenugreek and love using the fresh leaves in pakoras. I use the same method as above and add about a cupfull of fresh leaves a little more chickpea flour and make pakoras.

Salted Radish Preserves

15 Oct

Salted radishes are commonly found in East Asian cuisine and would normally be made with mooli, the long tapering white root also called chinese radish, but it can also be made with French breakfast radishes, white turnip, black winter radish or regular red radishes. Serve as a side pickle, as an appetiser or use as an ingredient in soups or noodle dishes such as Pad Thai

*Radishes
*Salt

Quick Salted Pickle
Simply wash (peel if necessary) and remove the top leaves. Slice the roots thinly put into a bowl and sprinkle with salt, toss with your hands to coat and leave to mature for an hour or two for a quick salted radish or 1 – 4 days for more robust flavour. It will keep well for a couple of weeks in the fridge. I haven’t experimented yet with preserving for longer as we tend to eat the salted radishes too quickly but the process would be the same as for other lactic preserves.


Lactic Fermented
Prepare the radishes as above and on the 4th day, once the initial salting is over, pack into sterilised jars, cover with a brine solution (1 tbsp of salt per litre of spring water brought to the boil and left to cool) and seal. Store in a cool dark place and will be ready to eat in about 1 month.

Lactic Fermentation II 
Wash the radishes and slice lengthwise into chunks. Pack into a sterilised jar, weight down with a clean stone and cover with brine (2 tbsp of salt to 1 litre of spring water brought to the boil then cooled). Seal the jar and keep in a cool dark place for 1 month when it will be ready to start eating. Remove small amounts from the jar and top up with brine if necessary to keep the radishes covered.

Variations If serving as an appetiser with drinks, sprinkle with a little rice vinegar or other sour agent such as lemon or lime juice, verjus, or cider vinegar before serving on the end of a cocktail stick.