Home Cooking

These are synopses of my past postings on my traditional home cooking (as opposed to experimental cooking). Click on the links for the posts.

April 12, 2009Japanese Home Cooking - MisoshiruI've nearly devoured all of the contents of the food parcel from the Japan Centre that I received as a prize in the Menu for Hope raffle. One dish I simply had to make and photograph was misoshiru, because it's both a Japanese culinary classic and a dish of enormous cultural significance. I only hope the Japanese forgive me for what I did to their gastronomic treasure.
March 29, 2009Japanese Home Cooking - Tofu MakizushiBeing in-between jobs at the moment, my prize win in the Menu for Hope raffle of a food parcel from the Japan Centre in London came with perfect timing. The contents of my prize parcel brought a couple of classic Japanese meals immediately to mind and this was one of them - makizushi made with tofu and pickled ginger. With a makisu mat and a very sharp knife, not at all difficult to make at home.
March 03, 2009Perks Of The Job #6: Octopus Ink - Nature's Black Food ColouringIt's been a long time since I last posted some home cooking. Not because I haven't been doing any, of course, but I've been so busy at work lately that it's been difficult to get the strength to photograph my meal preparation and make notes. Last weekend I made a classical Spanish/Catalan dish - arroz negro with allioli. And when I say "made", I mean every bit of it - starting with the extraction of hundreds of ink sacks from baby octopi.
December 31, 2008A Christmas Feast To RememberThis year, with each member of my family living several hours' travel apart from the others, getting together for Christmas was especially important to us. With a little help from me, dad cooked a feast that started the day before Christmas Eve and continued for five days. Centrepiece was a local farm goose, roasted with Chinese five-spice. Click for food details and recipes.
September 22, 2008Perks Of The Job #5: SangríaA large external catering job the other week meant lots of leftovers in the production kitchen. Most of the unused food and drink went into dishes turned out by the service kitchen, but a few remained unused and were handed out as perks of the job. Including... three and a half litres of sangría made by Carles Abellan. I took some home to sample - purely in the interests of gastronomic research, you understand!
September 01, 2008Perks Of The Job #4: Homemade Mejillón MakiThis weekend I got the chance to make some of the restaurant's famous maki at home in the apartment. Mind you, I couldn't afford the wild lobster so I used some wonderful Galician mussels instead. In this post, I show you step by step how simple it can be to make a dish like this.
June 23, 2008Perks Of The Job #3: Thai White Asparagus Soup, Lobster & Curry SaltIt's been a while since I laid claim to leftovers from mis en place, but this week I managed to acquire a lobster tail from the maki and some Thai white asparagus from my dew dish Almejas Esparragos Bangkok. And I made myself a delicious Sunday night meal of Thai white asparagus soup with lobster and curry salt.
May 26, 2008Monday Market Meal #5: Sopa De Fideos Vegetales (En Casa)OK, so it might be stretching the point a bit to call this traditional or classical home cooking. Last Monday I went to the market and bought the ingredients necessary to reproduce one of our restaurant signature dishes at home in my apartment. Making this dish requires precision and patience, but it's not at all impossible to do at home.
April 30, 2008Butifarra Y Berberechos Con Patatas Bravas - As Spanish As It GetsA glance at the date of my last home cooking post shows just how difficult it is to find time to cook at home and document what you prepare, while working daily double-shifts as a professional chef. But last weekend I was inspired to create some truly Spanish home cooking to celebrate my love for Spanish food and the extent to which I've become a native after spending seven months in this great country.
February 09, 2008Perks Of The Job #2: Berberechos Con Amaretto Y Arroz De CocoDue to a slight misjudgement in food ordering, fellow chef Cynthia was left with half a bag of cockles when service finished last Saturday. I was quick to claim them, knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I made a more refined version of my dad's favourite seafood with Amaretto dish. Click to see my recipe for Cockles with Amaretto and Coconut Rice.
February 06, 2008Monday Market Meal #3: Bacallà And Jamón Pata Negra With Mandarina & AlbahacaThis dish was inspired by some wonderful bacallà (salt cod) I found in Santa Caterina market. I cooked it rolled with jamón pata negra de Bellota, with a mandarin and basil sauce. The combination of salty cod and jamón, sharp and sour mandarin and aromatic basil was a match made in heaven. Made with Catalan ingredients, but definitely not a Catalan meal!
January 17, 2008Pa Amb Tomàquet The "Proper" Way (Apparently)Catalunya's undisputed national dish is a simple bruschetta-style combination of white bread, tomato, olive oil and salt known locally as pa amb tomàquet. It looks easy, but when I first knocked some up for the staff's evening bocatas, Head Chef was definitely not amused. Since then I've learnt how to do it "properly", in the exact and precise way that so characterises Catalan cuisine.
January 14, 2008Monday Market Meal #2: Fried Bream, Cassava Mash And Sweet & Sour SyrupJust because I'm now a working professional in a Michelin-starred kitchen doesn't mean that I don't still screw up my home cooking sometimes like everyone else. This was a classic example. What was supposed to be kumquat jam nearly burnt the apartment down as I stood chatting on the phone. But the story had a happy ending. Click to find out.
November 19, 2007Perks Of The JobOne of the best things about working in a great restaurant kitchen is being offered mis en place to take home at the end of the working week. Here at C24 we're very strict about food not going to waste. So with the restaurant closed Sundays and Mondays, we put Saturday's leftovers to good use by eating them. The other week I got to take home arroz negro and arroz de pato.
November 14, 2007Starting A Tradition: Monday Market Meal #1I'm starting to make a regular habit of visiting the Barcelona food markets on my Monday mornings off work and making something special on Monday night with the spoils. Last week I found a good-looking piece of juicy rump steak and the most amazing rovellones de país (country mushrooms). Cooking my Catalan dinner, I got quite into an Italian "Sopranos" mood!
October 22, 2007To The Bitter EndThere's not a lot that I can't eat and, given an ingredient, I can generally cook something edible, with or without a recipe. But my attempt to cook stuffed karela (bitter melon) was hopeless. I tried to counterbalance the intense bitterness of the vegetable with sour, pungent, umami and sweet flavours. In theory, it should have been great. In practice, it ended up in the bin.
September 17, 2007Quinoa TaboulehTabouleh is a Lebanese salad dish made from bulgar wheat. What not everyone knows is that you can make a really good gluten-free version using quinoa - a Peruvian plant seed that was once unheard of in the UK but can now be found in many shops and supermarkets. We had our quinoa with rolled loin of lamb and the following day with sardines. Both meals were really excellent.
September 13, 2007Lunch In La Grande-PlaceMoules frites - the national dish of Belgium - is much simpler to make than it might appear. Cleaning the shellfish is the only job that takes any serious amount of time and effort. Otherwise it's just minutes to prepare a delicious meal of steaming mussels in onions and white wine with herbs and pepper, coriander and cream. No wonder the businessmen seated around La Grande-Place tend to carry some excess weight!
September 11, 2007Atlas Mountain Soup À La HackneyNo, it wasn't Atlas Mountain soup because we couldn't find the recipe for this fantastic Moroccan dish, no matter how hard we searched. But dad had a pretty good idea how it was made and he created an Atlas Mountain stew instead, using minced lamb, tangerines, apricots, greengages, bell peppers and ras el hanout spice mixture. It was a little too sweet and not quite bitter enough, but a very creditable attempt.
September 03, 2007Praline, PralineThese pralines (pronounced "prawleenes") came about when I bought some cobnuts and then wondered what to do with them. Making these sweets is relatively easy, so long as you hold your nerve while heating the sugar and milk mixture and don't allow it to burn. But beware - the end result may be delicious, but it is very calorific.
August 29, 2007Satisfying A CravingThis instant dinner, aimed at satisfying a craving for cheese and bacon, was inspired by a stuffed squash recipe posted by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once. Unsmoked best back bacon, chorizo, Boursin, Blue Shropshire cheese and sour cream blended into a delicious filling for roast butternut squash. Absolutely fabulous.
August 24, 2007I Found My Thrill......on a hill of blueberry pana cotta, made with goat's milk. This dessert was in commemoration of all those who lost their lives exactly two years ago in Hurricane Katrina and a celebration of those who were feared dead but survived the disaster, including the great Fats Domino.
August 20, 2007Not Completely SalsafiedInspired by a post from Acme Instant Food, I set out the other day to make a watermelon salsa to accompany my chicken breast for lunch. Technically, the recipe worked well and the textures were great. But the flavour disappointed. Click to find out why and what I propose to do about it next time.
August 15, 2007Soup For Overgrown ChildrenThis is a pasta broth that I made frequently for lunch. It's a million miles from a classic, Italian soup - made using a dozen or more ingredients sourced from four different continents. I've included a video showing me making this dish, so you can give it a go. But don't just follow the recipe. Use your instincts and your palate to make one that satisfies your own taste.
August 05, 2007Blowing Hot And Cold - Roast Lamb With Cherry SorbetIt wasn't my decision to emulate Joan Roca and Ferran Adrià and cook a dinner of hot meat with iced fruit sorbet that was so unusual. After all, I get more into experimentation with every day I spend in a kitchen. It was the fact that the roast lamb and cherry sorbet was my dad's suggestion that was the real surprise. Click to discover how I made it and how it went down.
July 23, 2007A Very Special DinnerNot long ago I cooked a very special dinner for a very special person. She was my first serious relationship, but two years ago I was stupid enough to lose her. Recently our paths crossed again and we have started to see each other again. It adds something extra to my home cooking, knowing I'm preparing food for someone very special.
July 20, 2007Bangers & Mash, Gourmet-StyleI haven't had much time for good old-fashioned home comfort cooking lately. Until the other night, when I made bangers, mash and gravy. Tuscan sausages, braised in a home-made onion and red wine stock, served with Japanese kabocha mashed with potato and finished with double cream and a drizzle of chilli-infused olive oil. Comforting Franco-Italian-Japanese British grub.
July 15, 2007Sauces For CoursesI'm always reluctant to criticise other people, but I must admit that I am constantly surprised at the conservatism of many of the chefs and trainees I meet. A few weeks ago my fellow students were given the opportunity to create a tasting menu and opted for a meat and two veg solution. Determined to be more original, when I got home I created a sauce that went perfectly with both a beef entrée and with a meringue and ice cream dessert.
July 02, 2007Mélange ViandeWhen I came across a scruffy little bag labelled "mélange viande", I was quite unprepared for the glories that awaited my discovery when I opened it. This is an extraordinary spice mixture, redolent of flowery French country roads and looking like the mélange de voitures in Jean-Luc Godard's film "Weekend". I used it to cook slow-braised neck of lamb and the result was wonderful.
June 24, 2007A Feast For 99pEven after my enjoyable trip to St. John's in Smithfield, I'm still not into offal. But I helped dad to cook this dish the other night when he decided to try a "surf and turf" dinner of chicken livers with oyster sauce and nam pla. Based on the Thai recipe Pad Kueng Niey Gay, it turned out really well and dad pigged himself on it and couldn't move for hours afterwards.
May 23, 2007A Tale Of Three GoulashesInspired by a posting from Karen of Rambling Spoon in which she published two recipes for goulash, I set out to cook one of the recipes in three portions, using three different paprikas. To discover which paprika won hands down, read my article.
May 16, 2007Food In The Garden - Another VisitI've got really into discovering food in the garden. It started with picking leaves and moved on to collecting snails. But this time I graduated into big game hunting in the garden. Click on this link to see what monsters I found on my hunting expedition and how I cooked them.
May 14, 2007Lamb ConFusionThe other night I made a truly fusion dinner - English lamb marinated in South American papaya, Mediterranean fennel, garlic and sambuca and Bengali mustard oil, accompanied by Japanese kabocha with Bengali panch phoron. Based on a recipe by Atul Kochhar, but with my own stamp on it. My dad said it was the best meal he'd eaten all year.
April 30, 2007I've Gone All GirlyThis unusual and extraordinary dessert started life as two sets of leftovers. The initial experiment was so successful that I repeated it a few days later. Combining hot apple sauce and cold rhubarb compote with sour cream leads to an elegant balance of temperatures, textures and flavours.
April 28, 2007A Portuguese Bacalhau In LondonThis week, with four young visitors from Laúndos in northern Portugal staying in my house, it was a great opportunity to cook a Portuguese classic. We made bacalhau à braz, or cod with scrambled egg and fried potatoes. After a shaky start, our cooking turned into a triumph. It was an excellent dinner!
April 23, 2007Call For St. George!There's been some stabbing, gashing and inflagration in my kitchen. Was I attacked by a dragon? No, there's no need to send for St. George. It was just me, stabbing and gashing some chicken and then flambéeing it as part of a recipe for two-day marinaded brown stew chicken and wild rice.
April 13, 2007So What Do We Eat The Other Three Days Of The Week?According to a recent survey, the Brits tend to cook just four meals, of which spaghetti Bolognese is one. My dad cooks this typically British version of the classic Italian dish Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. It's nothing at all like the real thing, but nice British comfort food all the same.
April 04, 2007Hangover GrubIt's always hard to cook breakfast the morning after a hard night. But when you crash out at the house of a mate who's really into food, it helps a lot. A couple of weeks ago I found myself at Alex's house and we made poached egg with smoked salmon, mustard fromage frais and sautéed cherry tomatoes on toasted olive bread. Inspirational hangover food.
March 30, 2007He's Right, You KnowAidan gave me a right of reply to his earlier posting, but I can't argue with what he says. A key moment in my conversion was when he showed me how to wilt fresh spinach. Now I cook many dishes that I never ate in my life before. Like the ostrich burger on Savoy cabbage sautéed in sesame oil and soy sauce that I cooked the other day. Mike.
March 30, 2007The Times They Are A-Changin'My dad's been cooking for over half a century and still has many kitchen habits than can be traced back to Fanny Craddock. But recently he has started to become much more adventurous with produce, spices and oils. I was amazed at the number of flavoursome ingredients he put into a simple cheese and ham omelette and salad.
March 25, 2007Coquille Saint-PatriceNot the sort of dish one makes at home often, but what I cooked last Saturday night. Time to exercise some of the skills I've learned in fine dining. So I rejuvenated the leftover broth from St. Patrick's Day and made seared Loch Fyne scallops with a creamy seafood, caramel and Guinness foam. Small, but perfectly formed and delicious!
March 21, 2007Mother's Day PelauSince the book "The Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago & the Caribbean" arrived two weeks ago I've been promising to cook a meal from this culinary treasure house. And as last Sunday was Mothers' Day, I cooked Trinidad's signature dish, pelau, for my mum. She loved it.
March 17, 2007(As Opposed To The Mussels From Brussels)Saturday was St. Patrick's Day and I decided to cook something special on Friday night to celebrate Irish food. So I cooked live mussels in a Guinness, garlic and cream sauce. Believe me, it made a great improvement on plain old moules marinière.
March 06, 2007Brown Is The New PurpleI like naturally purple food such as kohlrabi, aubergine and plum, but I also like to make my own purple fish by poaching it in mulled red wine. This works fine for swordfish, but a flaky fish like cod cooks before it absorbs enough wine and ends up brown rather than purple. Still, it tasted great on lemon scented steamed asparagus and creamy spinach with nam pla.
March 02, 2007Get Stuffed Big BrotherNo, it's not Lou Macari but lumaconi. It's the big brother of lumache, or "snails" pasta, itself the big brother of conchiglioni, or "conch shells" pasta. So it's a very big brother. It just cries out to get stuffed. I made a sauce of shallot, passata, red wine and crème fraîche, topped off with Red Leicester.
February 26, 2007Pork Pas À L'OrangeAs every kid knows, yellow plus red equals orange. I never set out to make an orange meal - it just happened. Medallions of pork served with a sauce made by sweating off a julienne of red capsicum, and then adding diced pineapple, crushed ginger, finely chopped jalapeño pepper, cinnamon and white wine and reducing down. Accompanied by bubble & squeak made with Russian kale.
February 25, 2007What's Orange, But Isn't Orange..?Back in April 2005, the food blog meme "Is My Blog Burning?" featured meals and dishes celebrating the colour orange. Today I created my orange offering. Here's a photo from today's lunch. Answers on a comment please, before I reveal all and publish my lunch recipe tomorrow night.
February 21, 2007Can You Guess What It Is Yet?My first attempt at this dessert proved difficult, with the result not looking nearly good enough for the blog. On Monday I baked a wattleseed and lemon myrtle rolled Pavlova again and this time it was received with acclaim by my family and neighbours. I may make another one and ship it to the Australian one day cricket squad to cheer them up.
February 19, 2007Latkes Through The GenerationsLatkes have a very special meaning in my family. My great grandmother was a Jewish refugee from Poland for whom latkes would have been a Hanukkah treat. My parents were passionate about the latkes served at The Falafel House restaurant in Haverstock Hill. And now, for the first time, I've made my own latkes - with apple sauce and soured cream.
February 17, 2007Retail Therapy And Retro FoodToday my dad engaged in retail therapy and returned with a new food processor, promoted by Antony Worral Thompson. It's a blender, smoothie maker, mayonnaise maker, batter maker, fruit puréer, citrus press, dough kneader, slicer, chopper and whisk. We can use it to make some of the retro food that AWT says is currently undergoing a huge revival in his restaurants.
February 13, 2007East-West SoupI made this special soup using a leftover hoisin broth that I had used to cook duck legs in the day before. To the Chinese broth I added Spanish chorizo, fine egg noodles and a dash of chilli-infused olive oil. The result was a rich and delicious fusion of eastern and western cooking influences.
February 06, 2007One Step Gourmet - Two Steps Retro
For someone who's just started a week as a fine dining Head Chef, I’ve been very retro lately when it comes to cooking at home. At lunchtime I'm supervising the preparation of black and green olive crusted, roasted salmon fillet with a basil emulsion and freshwater crayfish jus, but at night it's been baked ziti and my latest triumph - partly gluten-free fish pie.
February 09, 2007A Busman's HolidayOn my day off from college I decided to do some serious cooking, using up some produce and other ingredients around the house. The outcome was chorizo roasted breast and Chinese five-spiced leg of duck with yam and broccoli, followed by an Australian wattleseed and lemon myrtle Pavlova with a blueberry compote.
January 25, 2007Hey Paisan - Are You Lookin' At My Ziti?This is my tribute to "The Sopranos", one of my favourite TV series of all time. I cooked baked ziti, based on a supposed recipe by Carmela Soprano, with a few little adjustments of my own. This dish is as Italian as any plate of food could possibly be. And eating it is a "family" affair!
January 17, 2007A Dish Is Born (And Eaten)I bought some galangal a while back and kept it tucked away waiting for an opportunity to use it. And last night was the opportunity. I made a South East Asian/Australasian fusion dish - Australian rainforest rub crusted swordfish steak on a bed of lime pickle and galangale rice.
January 11, 2007Voulez-Vous Manger Avec Moi (Ce Soir)?Sales of marmalade in Britain have plummeted, because kids today lack their parents' taste for the sophisticated bitter-sweet flavour. I used it today to cook breast of mallard stuffed with red cabbage, ginger and marmalade, served with a sweet potato mash.
January 08, 2007Winter Fondly Remembers SummerI've been posting too much winter comfort food lately and not enough light and healthy summer food. So yesterday I made something quick but different. Steak, but no chips, wilted spinach or greasy fried eggs. Sirloin with pomodoro vine tomatoes, potato salad and sun blush tomato.
December 29, 2006Playing With FireMany chefs flambée pancakes, crêpes or other desserts in amaretto, but try doing the same with mixed seafood. I tossed a mixture of cooked prawns, mussels, cockles, scallops, crab or lobster, squid and raw seafish in garlic butter with plenty of black pepper. Flambéed in amaretto and the pan deglazed with cream, it's a dish that truly delights.
December 28, 2006Let Them Eat...Let them eat cake! This is the gluten-free Christmas cake my mum makes my coeliac dad each year, from an ancient M&S recipe. The cake is full of fruit and nuts and is bound with eggs and condensed milk. It's not at all sickly sweet - it's soft, crumbly, mouth-watering and perfectly balanced.
December 26, 2006If You Can Meet With...Christmas dinner, cooked by me. Abroath smokie on oatmeal bread with home-made Dijon crème fraîche. Scallops with poached duck egg, and field mushroom pâté. Roast venison with sweet and black truffle potato mash, honey-cured squash and red onion and cabbage marmalade. Persimmon with açai berry & mascarpone ice cream. It wasn't all perfect, but it wasn't bad at all. Everyone enjoyed themselves!
December 21, 2006Christmas At Trig's PlaceEarly on Christmas morning I'll be in the kitchen working on the festive lunch. It's a small family group this year - myself, mum, dad, brother Joel and Aliyyah. I'm head chef and everyone else will be my obedient commis chefs.
December 19, 2006It Ain't Heavy - It's My DinnerI'm officially in the festive mood, and what better way to warm my cockles on a cold December eve than to cook a big bowl of steaming hot risotto. Today I made a shiitake and saffron risotto, with crème fraîche and a little grated haloumi. Mmmmm!
December 15, 2006The Goose Is Getting Fat......and I'm planning to use that fat to cook my Christmas roast potatoes. Yes, it's that time of year again. Food shopping for Christmas. Orders at Steve Hatt's fishmonger and game merchant, followed by a shopping trip to Borough Market with the camera.
December 11, 2006Spicing Up A Winter EveningTonight's meal was the very simple but quite wonderful Tuscan spicy sausages with leek & onion. The pure meat sausages are seared and then braised in beer, with leek and onions introduced in batches to give a gradation in texture from lightly to thoroughly cooked. Served with dry mashed potato, mashed in its skins. And tons of black pepper throughout!
November 14, 2006Quick And Easy Duck A L'OrangeYou could spend ages preparing this classic dish, but I have a simple recipe that allows it to be made it not much more than an hour and with very little attention. You reduce the orange sauce while the duck is roasting. I served mine with roast potatoes and wilted spinach.
November 05, 2006The Last Supper
Work placement at Boxwood Café starts tomorrow, so to get myself in the mood I made a Caribbean-style guinea fowl supreme, caramelised and then roasted. Served with a sauce of pure lemon oil, fish sauce, dark soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, thickened with double cream. Served on a bed of egg noodles boiled in beef stock.
October 17, 2006Steak Au PoivreTonight's dinner was sirloin steak with a pepper sauce, on a bed of mashed potato and sweet potato with wilted spinach. Just 30 minutes to cook from start to finish and a few seconds to photograph, using my new Nikon D70 camera. At last I can start to generate photo recipes.
October 09, 2006Trinidad Stew ChickenThis is the recipe for the Trinidad Stew Chicken I cooked the other day. The chicken is marinated in green seasoning prior to cooking. The recipe is from "The Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago", published by Naparima Girls' High School. Formerly out of print, this has now been republished and is fast becoming famous world-wide as the definitive record of Trinidadian cuisine.
October 06, 2006A Picture Is Worth A Thousand RecipesThe fish I installed on my blog banner yesterday is one of the greats of maritime food - European sea bass. I poached bass fillets in red wine with mashed oranges, grated nutmeg and black peppercorns and served the deep purple fillets with pesto mashed sweet potato and lightly steamed broccoli.
September 17, 2006Saturday KitchenFor my surprise dessert last night I made Monty Python Cheesecake - an elderberry cheesecake from crushed gluten-free raspberry shortbread biscuits with mascarpone and chantilly cream. The correct Latin is "Romani Ite Domum". Write it out 100 times in chocolate piping.
September 16, 2006Dinner Party TonightTonight I'm cooking for a family dinner party. I plan to use fenugreek leaves to decorate starters of Israeli Medjool dates, halved and stuffed with goat's cheese. This will be followed by a dish of Hungarian paprika chicken with braised pilaf rice. And something special for dessert.
August 20, 2006A Party SaladI went to a party in Islington last night and made a salad, using a Peter Gordon recipe including a mixture of green and red leaves, with chèvre blanc, Medjool dates, sliced grapes, Romalina tomatoes, spring onions and bacon lardons. My host Jane Lewis barbecued some wonderful marinated sardines.
August 19, 2006Butternuts SquashedOn Wednesday I used up some leftover butternut squash, making butternut soup with marinated shiitake mushrooms. It was loosely based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe for swede and cardamom soup.