Feb 10, 2018

Smoky cider-cured beef short ribs

Smoky cider-cured beef short ribs

One of the keys to success with any kind of smoking is ensuring that the meat is completely dry after it is cured. A pellicle forms on the surface as it dries; this is a thin layer of protein that the smoke adheres to - if there's any moisture present the smoke won’t flavour as well. Slow and low is the way to go with short ribs...

2.5Kg Beef short ribs
1.5 Litres Cider
1.5 Litres Water
750g Salt
750g Light brown sugar
1Tsp Black
peppercorns
4 Star anise, broken into bits
About 6 Bay leaves, roughly torn
Apple wood chips

1 Bring the cider, water, salt, sugar, bay and peppercorns to a simmer in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat once the salt and sugar have dissolved, then leave to cool completely.
2 Slip a knife underneath the white membrane attached to the bone on the underside of the ribs - remove it; this makes it easier for the brine to penetrate the meat. Sit the ribs bone-side-up in a deep, food-grade container and pour over the cooled brine. Cover the meat with a couple of sheets of cling film and leave in the fridge to cure for 24 hours.
3 Remove the ribs from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper. Sit a cooling rack on a large baking tray and rest the ribs on top. Air-dry the meat in the fridge for 24 hours.
4 Hot-smoke the ribs for 2 hours – try to ensure that the temperature inside the chamber doesn’t rise above 120C during this period.
5 Heat the oven to 160C/ 14Oc fan/ Gas 3. Place the ribs in a roasting tray, cover with foil and roast for 3 hours.

Feb 6, 2018

Blood orange, cardamom & rose cake

Blood orange, cardamom & rose cake

For the cake:
225g Butter, at room temperature
225g Caster sugar
4 Eggs
225g Self-raising flour
5 Blood oranges, peel and pith trimmed away then cut into thick slices
Finely chopped zest and juice of 1 large orange
½Tsp Freshly ground cardamom seeds

For the drizzle:
75g Caster sugar
Juice of 1 large orange
1Tbsp Honey
1Tsp Dried rose petals

1 Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Beat the butter caster sugar together until pale and creamy, then gradually whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Sift in the flour, add the orange zest, juice and cardamom then mix until well combined.
2 Grease and line a round, 23cm cake tin. Arrange the blood orange slices across the bottom of the tin – cut a few in half to fill any large spaces but don’t worry if there are a few gaps. Spoon over the cake mix, level with the back of a spoon then bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out cleanly.
3 Heat the orange juice, sugar and honey together in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the cake out onto a plate and drizzle with orange syrup – finish with a sprinkle of dried rose petals.

Feb 5, 2018

Beetroot, apple & horseradish soup

Beetroot, apple & horseradish soup

A pop of fresh horseradish gives a little kick to this vibrant, magenta-hued soup. Lemon juice always goes in before seasoning; it’s easy to be misled into thinking that a dish is under-seasoned, when what’s missing is acidity. This soup is just as good served chilled on a hot summer’s evening, with a few ice cubes dropped into the bowl just before serving.

Serves 4

800g Beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Bramley apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, grated
1/2Tsp Fennel seeds
1.5 Litres Vegetable stock
A thumb-sized piece of fresh horseradish, grated
Juice of ½ a lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

To serve:
4Tbsp crème fraiche
1 Dessert apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
Crusty bread

1 Warm a splash of oil in a large saucepan, then stir in the onion, garlic and fennel seeds. Soften for 5-10 minutes, then add the beetroot, apple and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the beetroot is soft.
2 Stir in the horseradish, then whizz with a hand blender until the soup is smooth. Squeeze in the lemon juice, season, then serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, apple matchsticks and crusty bread.

Jul 16, 2013

Gooseberry and elderflower pies

I love the ease of a free-form fruit pie. No need for a tin or dish; just gather up the sides of the pastry and carefully press around the filling. You've essentially created a scruffy-looking pastry bowl; one that looks all the better for it's irregularity and absence of uniformity. Gooseberries are at their best right now; there's a wonderful Pick Your Own just down the road from us, and these little jade marvels were half the price of the Strawberries a few rows down - always a bonus. Makes 4 small pies.

700g Gooseberries
100g Granulated sugar
A generous splash of Elderflower cordial
600g Shortcrust pastry

1 Egg, beaten

Demerara sugar

1 Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Simmer the gooseberries on a low heat with the sugar and elderflower cordial for about 5 minutes; the berries need to soften slightly but still retain their shape. 2 Roll the pastry out on a floured surface until approximately 3mm thick. Place a dinner plate onto the pastry before trimming to leave a circular disc of pastry. Gently position a smaller, saucer-sized plate in the centre of the disc, then use the blunt back edge of a knife to lightly score an inner circle. 3 Spoon gooseberries into the inner circle, taking care not to go over the score line. Bring the pastry sides up around the sides of the filling, then shape around the fruit. If the filling sits a bit low in the pie once the sides have been brought up, spoon in a few more gooseberries. Brush the pastry with beaten egg, then sprinkle with Demerara sugar. 4 Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crumbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whatever takes your fancy.

Apr 24, 2013

Mussels steamed in cider with hop shoots

This is our first spring in the new house. The garden cautiously brushes colour onto the bare branches and weather-beaten soil; previously concealed Primroses, Crab apple blossom and Sweet violets emerge in a gentle April flourish. Part of the joy of being new to the area is discovering what the nearby hedgerows have to offer; this morning Amelie and I found an expanse of hop shoots growing just yards from our front door; hence their inclusion in this quick mussel recipe...

1.5kg Fresh mussels, rinsed and de-bearded
A good handful of fresh Hop shoots
2 Banana shallots, finely chopped
A wine glass of dry cider
Olive oil
Finely chopped Ramsons to serve (optional)


In a large pan, soften the shallots in a little olive oil for about five minutes, then stir in the hop shoots for a further three. Tip in the mussels, pour over the cider and then pop the lid on the pan. Cook for about six minutes, until all of the mussels have opened. Serve with a sprinkle of finely chopped Ramsons and crusty bread. 

Feb 1, 2013

Roast tomato and broccoli fusilli

6 large tomatoes, cut in half
2 Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
A couple of fresh Rosemary sprigs
Olive oil
400g Cooked Fusilli pasta
1 Red chilli, chopped
2 large Shallots, thinly sliced
A large handful of Purple sprouting broccoli florets
2Tbsp Raisins
1Tsp Capers
Salt and pepper
Brocolli flowers, to serve (optional)

1 Place the tomatoes in an oven proof dish with the rosemary. Season, drizzle with oil and then roast in a low oven for 30-40 minutes.
2 Soften the chilli, garlic and shallots in a pan. Add the broccoli, then stir in the roasted tomatoes, capers and raisins (along with a small splash of water). Stir in the Fusilli, season and serve. A scattering of broccoli flowers adds a nice bit of colour if you can get your hands on them.

Jan 3, 2013

Morel risotto with buttery hop shoots

The Hop shoots are going wild in my neck of the woods. Thin green tendrils snake through the hedgerows, twisting upwards towards the sky in a flourish of Spring exuberance. It took me minutes to pinch off a large bowful this morning. I quite like crunching on them raw, but they're equally tasty quickly cooked through with a little butter.

FOR THE RISOTTO
2 Large garlic gloves, finely chopped
8 Shallots, finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
A good splash of white wine
8 Large Fresh or dried Morels, chopped (if dried, keep the water that you've soaked the mushrooms in, to add to your stock)
300g Arborio risotto rice
1 - 1.5 Litres hot Chicken or vegetable stock (kept hot of the hob)
75g Hard goat's cheese, grated
25g Unsalted butter
FOR THE BUTTERY HOP SHOOTS
A large handful of Hop shoots
 25g Unsalted butter
Salt and pepper


1 Melt a knob of butter in a pan and soften the garlic and shallots in a splash of olive on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the rice, bay and mushrooms, then continue stirring until the rice grains start to look transparent. Pour in the wine, leave for a few minutes, then begin to gradually add the stock. Add it slowly, a ladle at a time and only add more when the liquid has been absorbed. After about 25 minutes the risotto should look rich and creamy, and the rice should be cooked (while still retaining a bit of bite). Season to taste. Just before serving stir in 25g of the goat's cheese and a good-sized knob of butter, to add an additional sheen of glossy richness.
2 For the buttery hop shoots, simply melt 25g of butter in a pan, then flash the shoots in the heat for 3-5 minutes. Season, then spoon on top of the risotto, with an extra grating of cheese for good measure.