Pork, fennel, sage and pear burger

I started making burgers with lean mince a while back. This can obviously make the burgers super dry, so i have resolutely avoided the popular ‘fat’ patty. These are totally fine when you have a great quality meat with plenty of fat running through it.

But if – like me – you are trying to make each meal just a touch healthier, then this approach is a good one. lean mince, thin patty and a short but hot cooking time.

The addition of sage and fennel makes it super fragrant and the pear gives you crisp texture and moisture.

Try the same thing with Turkey or chicken mince and mess around with the spices.

 

Serves 4 | time 20minutes

Prep 10 minutes | Cook 10 minutes

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Ingredients

  • 400-500g pork mince (the higher the fat content the tastier but as I said above its still good if you go lean)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 4 buns of your choosing
  • 1/2 pear, slices thin
  • 3 cms deep of lettuce
  • Cheese of your choice I went for American cheese

 

To serve

  • Sweet potato wedges

 

Method

Part one

  • Put a pan on mid to high heat and when hot toast the seeds and sage until fragrant then bash them in a pestle and mortar until a fine powder.

Part two

  • Mix the pork in with the powered spices and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Roll into a tube, then cut in half and half again and form thin patties.

Part three

  • Fry them on a medium high heat for 2 mins.
  • When you flip add a piece of cheese.
  • I like to add the buns onto the burger and put the kid on here so they get a big squidgy.

Part four

  • Layer the bottom bun with the cheese and burger stuck to it down. Add slices of pear and lettuce and any sauce you want onto the top bun before serving.

 

Slow cooked courgette and anchovy ‘pesto’  with wholewheat pasta

This is pretty easy and for the effort you put in the results are amazing. I tried this out because I had a load of courgettes and wanted something really comforting but punchy. I have called it ‘pesto’ as it has the ingredients of a pesto but in a slightly different order.
You can do steps one and two a few days before if you want, making this a really quick evening dinner. Also you can use half of the anchovies here if you don’t want it to taste fishy at all, but do put at least half a tin in the dish, it’ll pretty much dissolve and season the dish.
Serves 2 | time 55 minutes
Prep 5 minutes | Cook 50 minutes
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Ingredients
  • 3 courgettes, sliced really thin
  • 3 cloves of garlic , sliced really thin
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tin of anchovies
  • Good handful of pine nuts
  • Good handful of basil, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp creme freiche or Greek yoghurt (optional)
  • 2 handfuls spinach / kale / cavelo nero
  • Pasta (use whatever you like I used wholewheat fusilli)
To serve
  • 1 tbsp basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp capers
  • Parmesan (as much as you want)
  • Squeeze of lemon
 
Method
Part one
  • On a mid to low heat, cook the courgettes with the garlic and oil for 45 minutes
Part two
  • Put the basil, pine nuts and anchovy in a pestle and mortar and smash it up or put it in a food processor and mix
  • When this is done add it to the courgette and garlic and mix well
  • It should be a thick mush
Part three
  • Blanch your spinach, kale or cavelo nero and roughly chop
  • Cook your pasta as per the packet instructions but do not get rid of all the water
  • Put two tbsp of the starchy cooking water in a frying pan with the mush
  • heat the pasta, mush together and spinach, kale or cavelo nero until heated through
  • Stir through the creme freiche if using (this adds a rich decadence to the dish but isn’t necessary if you want something cleaner
 
Part four
  • Serve in a bowl and garnish with basil, capers, Parmesan and twist of pepper and a squeeze of lemon

Pulled Shawarma Lamb

I take no credit for this recipe its heavily bastardised from the brilliant Josh Katz of Berber & Q. I have been playing around with his recipes for a while and this was exceptional. An important thing to note – my wife cannot stand cardamon and clove so I omitted them from Josh’s recipe. I also couldn’t use a barbecue so I adapted the recipe for the oven and it came out very well.

Serves 6 | time 5 hours

Prep 30 minutes | Cook 4 hours + rest 30 minutes

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Ingredients

  • 1 lamb shoulder (2kg – 2.5kg)
  • 2 x good handfuls of parsley
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Third of a block of butter, mixed with a tbsp of Shawarma Rub

Shawarma rub

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Method

Part one

  • Put your oven on 170 degrees c or 150 if you have a fan oven.
  • Bring the Lamb up to room temperature, pat dry as much as possible and slash the skin all over with a sharp knife so there are lots of nooks and crannies to massage the rub into.
  • Get two big handfuls of rub and massage it into the skin. Working it into the rivets made by the knife. Do this all over until the whole thing is covered in rub.

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Part two

  • Leave this for at least half an hour while the oven preheats and you get out a tray with a roasting rack on top; a trivet made of carrots and onions would do the job if you don’t have a roasting rack, in essence all you are attempting to do is lift the meat off the tray so the air circulates around it and crisps everything up.
  • Before putting the meat in the oven, rub it all over with oil, season generously with salt and pepper and put on the bottom shelf.

Part three

  • Every so often (I did it every hour), take the meat out and brush with the mix of butter and rub.
  • Also check the meat, you should see it start to pull away from the bones, leaving large bits of clean bone exposed. It should break apart when you pinch it – when its like this its done. Don’t stress about the time too much you can leave it in anger or take it out before, its not a hard and fast rule, just check the meat isn’t burning – which it shouldn’t at this temperature.

Part four

  • After 4 hours – or when you are ready to take it out – brush any remaining butter over and leave to rest for at least half an hour but longer won’t hurt. This will also give you time to prep any last bits and / or set the table.
  • When you are ready to serve, take the whole thing to the table and shred the meat in front of your guests for a bit of theatre.
  • Serve with salt (iceberg and some pickled red cabbage would go great), flatbreads or pitta, chilli sauce, garlic sauce, chimmichurri would work well, as would salsa verde.

Find the original recipe for the Pulled Shawarma Lamb and loads of other brilliant recipes in this book.

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Chicken Shish Kebab

I can’t get enough of Turkish food at the moment, it’s healthy, always tasty and is top notch sharing food. This dish is no different, serve with plenty of bread, salads and sauces.

Serves 8 | time 30 minutes (plus marinating time)

Prep 20 minutes | Cook 10-12 minutes + at least 6 hours marinating, preferably overnight

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Ingredients

  • 100g Boneless chicken thigh, chopped into chunks
  • 3-5 bell peppers (the more colours the better), chopped into chunks
  • 2 red onions, chopped into chunks
  • 1 handful of parsley, chopped

 

Marinade

I’ll be really honest here, if you want to increase or decrease anything just do it and taste it before you put the chicken in. I never do this the same way twice.

  • 5 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 an onion grated
  • Zest and juice of 1 Lemon
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flake
  • 1/1 tsp liquid smoke (only use if not barbecuing)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

 

Method

Part one

  • Ideally the night before you feast – but at least 6 hours before – whack all your marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Taste and play around with the flavours here. Increase the heat, the sour notes or the salt. It should be quite punchy as the flavour will be diluted once cooked on the chicken.
  • Mix your chicken well in the marinade, cover and pop in the fridge. I put everything in sandwich bags.

Part two

  • At least an hour before you are going to eat, take the chicken out of the fridge.
  • If using wooden skewers soak them for half an hour first so they don’t burn when on the grill.
  • Start threading pieces of red onion and pepper on skewers then add on the chicken. Make sure if there is any dangling bits, you fold them up and thread them on.
  • In order for them to get cooked evenly, I lay the skewers on a dish so that they are raised off the bottom of the pan. This makes them easier to turn and means that they don’t stick.

Part three

  • When your grill is medium to hot place them under the grill.
  • You can also barbecue them fast and hot on medium hot embers.
  • Cook for around ten mins or until they go golden brown and slightly char

Part four

  • When done, leave to rest for a few minutes and load up a bowl with the hot meat.
  • Serve with flatbreads or pittas, sauces and salads.

 

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Cheerio milk panna cotta, whipped crème fraîche with a salt and honey glazed cheerio crumb

Whatever you do, do not use leftover Cheerio milk – its gross. This way its definitely not.

Serves 8 | time 40 minutes (plus setting time )

Prep 10 minutes | cook 30 minutes | set 3 hours – overnight

Ingredients

Panna Cotta

  • 150g Cheerios
  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 6.5 silver-strength gelatine leaves

Whipped crème fraîche

  • 200g crème fraîche

Honey cheerio crumb

  • 2 good handfuls of Cheerios
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt

Method

Part one

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C,
  • Place the Cheerios in a baking tray in a single layer and bake for 20minutes until a darker brown
  • Pour them in a large bowl and pour the milk on top and leave to steep for 30minutes

Part two

  • Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minute to soften
  • When the milk has soaked up enough of the cheerio flavour, strain into a clean bowl and push as much of the liquid out of the cereal as you can
  • Heat a small amount of milk in a pan on low
  • Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and place in the bowl
  • Add the rest of the milk and heat through

Part three

  • Pour the milk into small serving glass tumblers (I used whisky glasses) making sure there is plenty of room for the crème fraîche
  • Put them in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight
  • For the crumb put your Cheerios in the oven and pour over a drizzle of honey and sprinkle salt on top
  • Cook for 30 minutes until Cheerios are dark, sticky and crumbly
  • Store in a jar or airtight container (this will keep for a week or so)

Part four

  • Whip the crème fraîche until thick and creamy (ideally so peaks start to form)
  • Spoon the crème fraîche into the glasses and sprinkle over the crumb before serving

Crispy roast duck with pancakes & dipping sauce

Fancy a roast dinner? Switch it up and roast a duck.

Serves 4 | time 4 hours

Prep 30 minutes | Cook 3 hours + rest 30 minutes

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Ingredients

  • 1 duck (1kg – 1.5kg)
  • 2 x good handfuls of coriander
  • 3 heaped tbsp of Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 cm chunk of ginger, crushed lightly in a pestle and mortar
  • 3 cloves fo garlic. crushed lightly in a pestle and mortar with the ginger
  • 6 spring onions, one roughly chopped and the rest sliced thinly (or julienne)
  • 1 Cucumber, sliced thinly (or julienne)
  • Chinese pancakes -easily found in Chinese supermarkets and some bigger supermarkets

Hoisin

  • 3 tbsp of Lao Gan Ma chilli oil with Black Bean  (the brand is also known as The Godmother or Angry Lady)
  • 1 tbsp of rice vinegar or Mirin (I have used white wine vinegar before and it works fine)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2cm chunk of ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp runny honey

 

Method

Part one – Duck

  • Preheat your oven to 170c.
  • Dry your duck with kitchen paper (I sometimes get a hairdryer out if I’m feeling particularly dramatic) and dry the duck well – inside and out.
  • Cut off the flap of fat that hangs over the the cavity, then season the duck generously with salt, pepper and five spice powder. Really work it into the skin.
  • Pop spring onions, garlic, ginger and star anise in the city and place on a roasting rack.
  • It’s really important that the duck is not on the bottom of the pan, so either use a roasting rack (which sits on a tray), a trivet (using carrots and/or onions) or, as I do, a cake cooling rack sat on top off a roasting tin.
  • Cook in the oven for 1 hour at 170c then turn down to 140c for 2 hours.
  • You have a choice here – the Thomas Keller school of thought on crispy skin is that the less you open the oven the better, however the duck will produce a lot of fat which is great for flavour – so you can either leave the door shut and not baste or you can open the oven every 45 minutes and spoon that delicious fat all over the skin. I personally would go for the latter.

Part two – Sauce

  • Heat a small saucepan on a gentle heat. Crush the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar and work it hard until you’ve created a kind of paste. Add in the black beans and smush them together.
  • Put that in the pan until fragrant, then add soy sauce, vinegar and honey. Stir well and taste. You should get a sour salty note up-front, then heavy sweetness and lastly a slight heat from the beans. Remember that this will be diluted a great deal by the veg, duck and pancakes so it should be pretty punchy.
  • Bring it to the boil then, switch off the heat. If the sauce is very thin – you want it to coat the back of a spoon – then pop it on a low simmer for a few minutes. Don’t leave it – stay close and look after it.
  • Check the duck and baste if you have chosen to to do that.

 

Part three – Pancakes

  • Put a pan on to boil and either hook up a Chinese style steamer or a conventional western one and cook the pancakes in their packets as per the instructions. Then take the steamer off the heat – but keep them inside the steamer until you serve so they stay hot.
  • Now I am sure that you may be asking why not make these yourself, you absolutely can have a crack at it. Here is a recipe from The Guardian that should help you out. The reason I don’t is that they are loads of faff and they are never better than the packet ones. Another reason why the packet ones are great is that they are just like the ones you get from a takeaway and this is basically what we are trying to replicate isn’t it.

 

Part four – serve

  • Take the duck out and leave to rest for at least 30 mins – leave it on its rack so air gets around it and it doesn’t sweat. For this reason try to avoid covering it tightly with foil. Just leave it somewhere warm.
  • Pop everything on the table, gently re-heating your sauce if necessary, sprinkle some coriander on the duck from a height (this allows the herbs to fall naturally) then bring the meat out and shred at the table for a bit of theatre.

Open minded, tomato, cous cous and leftovers thing

Serves 4-6 | time 30 minutes

Prep 15 minutes | Cook 15 minutes

Please note that this recipe is supposed to be for whatever leftovers, bits, bobs and curious beasts you have in your fridge and/or cupboard. So don’t stress about the measurements. It’ll taste good regardless. The recipe below is just what I happened to use this time (including beetroot, which is why is that colour) – I’ve never made this guy the same way twice. I have italicised the ingredients you definitely need everything else is optional.

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Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 courgette, cut into chunks
  • 1 roasted beetroot, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsps preserved lemon, diced
  • Third of a bottle of red wine (if you don’t have wine add more stock)
  • 1 pint of stock
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 cup ish of cous cous
  • 2 x good handfuls of whatever herbs are about – stalks reserved
  • 1 handfuls of olives, chopped
  • 3 handfuls of spinach

 

Method

Part one

  • Sweat the onions gently over a medium heat until translucent, then add garlic, courgette, beetroot, lemon and oregano, cook for a minute or two.

Part two

  • Turn up the heat and add a tiny bit of stock so the veg doesn’t burn. When the pan is hot, add red wine and let the alcohol burn off, then add tomatoes and the rest of the stock. Give it a good stir, bring to the boil and let is reduce slightly.

Part three

  • Turn the heat off, add the stalks of the herbs, the olives and then the cous cous. Stir well, then place the spinach on top and leave covered for at least 5 minutes but up to 10.

Part four

  • Reveal your one pot wonder. The cous cous should have soaked up all the liquid by now (if it hasn’t pop the lid back on and leave it – if there is loads of liquid add a bit more cous cous and stir).
  • Stir in the spinach, which should have wilted, season with salt and pepper, garnish with the remaining herbs and pour a little olive oil over for a bit of decadence.