Category Archives: Recipes

Strawberry Rollups

My take on making strawberry rollups, for which there seem to be millions of recipes already online.  Most just do strawberry plus sugar, but I think it’s more interesting to use more complex combinations.

Ingredients

– Strawberries

– Sugar to taste

– Apple juice

– Black pepper

Method

1. Blend all ingredients

2. Spread on baking paper and cook on a baking tray in an oven at 80 degrees C until dehydrated

3. Cut into strips and roll up

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Penne on fire

A quick penne pasta in spicy tomato and bacon sauce.  I stole this from my mother who in turn stole the recipe from an Italian.  I’m not entirely sure it really qualifies as proper Italian food, and for years we named the dish incorrectly – I’ve titled this as what we thought it translated to, not the “original” Italian.  If anybody is reading this and recognises it as a named dish, I’d like to know what it should be called correctly.

Ingredients

– Olive oil

– 12 slices smoked Bacon, cut into small pieces

– 1 onion, chopped

– 2 cans chopped tomato

– tomato puree

– Chilli to taste (dried or fresh)

– Garlic

– Seasoning (I’m lazy and use pre-prepared Italian seasoning)

– Penne pasta

– Grated cheese

Method

– Fry the bacon and onion in LOTS of olive oil until soft.  The olive oil adds flavour, so use more than you’d normally use for frying

– Add the other ingredients except the pasta, and simmer for 15-20 minutes

– Cook pasta separately.  To serve, mix drained pasta with sauce and put grated cheese on top

Any left over sauce will freeze and reheat easily.

Turkey Butter

Nobody likes their turkey to be dry – this method and recipe virtually guarantees that this won’t happen using sous vide, and the butter it’s cooked in gives a nice Christmassy flavour.

Ingredients

– 250g butter

– 2 tbsp cranberry sauce

– 1 orange zest and juice

– 1tsp salt

– 200g pureed chestnuts

Method

– Melt butter in a pan, mix in cranberry sauce, orange zest, orange juice, salt and pureed chestnuts.  Pass through a fine sieve to help ensure the mixture is smooth.  The first time I tried this, I used whole chestnuts and mashed them with a fork, but the texture ended up not very good, so I switched to using pre-pureed chestnuts from a packet.

– Cook the turkey sous vide in bags with the butter mixture (you can allow the mixture to solidify first in the freezer for easier vacuum sealing).

Turkey sous vide times and temperatures are similar to those of chicken – my suggestion is 64 degrees C for 2-4 hours for breast.  It’s better without skin (it gets soggy and can be roasted separately), so this recipe works particularly well with pieces the butcher has pre-rolled.

Sous Vide Mauritian-style Curry

Disclaimer: sous vide isn’t really a technique I’m aware of being used in Mauritius (maybe in hotels and restaurants but not in home cooking).  I took the basic recipe from a French trained Mauritian chef, then modified it to do sous vide because that’s how I like to cook.  The original recipe uses a pan on a stove for a long time, but a slow cooker is also a good alternative.  I’ve also tried pressure cooking this, but the result tends to be too liquid.

I don’t claim to be an expert in Mauritian cooking, but if you want to learn more about it (and you should), this blog is excellent: https://inspiredtobake.wordpress.com/category/cultural/mauritian/

Ingredients

  • 1 tomato (for moistness)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • Pureed garlic.  Do not use fresh.
  • Crushed ginger
  • 4 Skinless chicken thighs

Method

  1. Fry everything except chicken together to soften
  2. Place all ingredients including chicken into a vaccuum bag and seal (it may help to freeze then seal)
  3. Cook at 80C for 4-8 hours (+30 minutes extra if from frozen – so minimum time 4.30)
  4. Serve with rice

This gets good results every time, and while the actual cooking time is loooong, the prep time is about 10 minutes.

Salmon Wrapped Egg Sous Vide – FAIL

WARNING: This recipe did NOT work, try it at your own risk.

Jamie Oliver had a TV show where he wraps eggs with salmon or various herbs in Clingfilm, then poaches them.  I tried it, and it’s pretty good tasting, but I struggled to get the texture correct.  I ended up with one with a runny white, and one with a hard crumbly yolk.

In an attempt to fix this I thought the way forward would be to be more precise about temperatures and timings, so I turned to the sous vide.  What follows is a set of steps that did NOT work, so don’t try to follow this recipe unless you can see a way to fix my mistakes (in which case please tell me how you did it).

The FAILED Method:

1. Put Clingfilm into a cup.  Line the inside of the Clingfilm with salmon, then crack an egg into it, and tie it off to create a pouch for the egg.  Note: Normally you’d not crack an egg for sous vide poaching, but in this method you need to because you want it to absorb/fuse with the salmon flavour.

2. Suspend the Clingfilm bag in the freezer.  Laying it down flat results in a flattened shape egg, but by hanging the bag off something, it should freeze more spherical, which will look nicer once served.

3. Once frozen, remove the egg and vacuum seal in a sous vide bag.

Step 3 is where things start to go wrong.  Here, I have two options – leave it in the Clingfilm so that it can’t run and lose it’s shape as it cooks, or to remove the Clingfilm and just seal the frozen egg.  I opt for Clingfilm to help keep the shape.  Now, as the egg cooks in the vacuum bag, it’s still going to deform, so ideally I want a circular seal around the egg, which my vacuum sealer does not do.  I tried to use a soldering iron to draw a seal line around the egg, and while initial experiments in this worked ok, sometimes the soldering iron burns through the plastic rather than just sealing it.  Eventually I did manage to do a bad job of sealing the bags by making lots of individual seals with the vacuum sealer, but it was a long way from the ideal shape.

4. Cook the bags sous vide.  Timing and temperature not yet worked out.

The next problem is that eggs and salmon cook at very different temperatures – salmon is low, eggs are relatively high.  I went for a mid point temperature and time so as to cook the eggs without over cooking the salmon, but again my eggs came out too runny.  With enough experiments, this might be a solvable problem (maybe some longer time at a lower temperature?) but given that I can’t manage a neat seal I gave up here.  I also can’t afford the huge amounts of salmon I’d need to try every temperature and time combination I can think of.

A potential fix for the method is to do away with the vacuum bag and just sous vide cook the eggs in their Clingfilm, but once frozen and thawed I’m not entirely convinced that the Clingfilm will always stay in one piece, which could mean I end up with an egg coated sous vide machine.

Anybody willing to try some experiments to work out how to fix this recipe to become idiot proof?

Christmas Carrots

Tom Kerridge has, in my opinion, one of the best carrot recipes for Christmas: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmas_carrots_90489

I saw this on TV, and what isn’t mentioned on the BBC food website is that Tom made some comment to the effect of “this isn’t exactly what we do in the restaurant, it’s simplified”.  I’ve often wondered what he might do differently in his pub.

Here’s my take on how his recipe might be enhanced – use Carotene Butter instead of normal butter.

For what it’s worth, I also can’t be bothered using a scourer, but I do think using whole baby carrots makes for a nice looking dish, but this is optional.  You might also consider chopping the carrots up into batons and removing the cores as they’re slightly more bitter than the rest of the carrot, and this recipe lends itself to a sweeter carrot.

Ingredients

– 9 medium carrots, may be peeled, scoured, topped and tailed, cut into batons etc

– 250g unsalted butter (ChefSteps.com suggest using clarified butter, but I find it works ok without if I’m being lazy)

– 250g Carrot juice

– Sugar to taste (The original recipe calls for 150g, which I find quite a lot)

– Salt

– 2 or 3 star anise

– 400ml water (I’ve also tried 400ml veg stock, but it doesn’t seem to improve things much)

Method

– Heat half the carrot juice with the butter until melted.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

– Remove from the heat and add the other half of the carrot juice (this accelerates cooling of the liquid).  Refrigerate a few hours until the butter rises to the top.

– Skim the butter off the top of the liquid.  (You can use the remaining carrot juice for things like soup – I’ve thought about using a small quantity of it to make up part of my 400ml liquid, but not yet tried this)

– Cook the butter with all the other ingredients in a pan for 45 minutes until the carrots are soft.

Haggis Sandwiches

Possibly the best toasted sandwich ever?

Ingredients

– Bread

– Small amount of haggis (chop one up, the rest will freeze if needed)

– Sliced cheese, suitable for melting

– Bacon

Method

– Grill the bacon until crispy

– Pre-cook the haggis in the microwave.  Note: I find microwave to be the best way to cook haggis.  It gets the fat nice and hot to cook through, and dehydrates it very slightly – traditional boiling in the skin retains more moisture, and I prefer it slightly drier, especially for sandwiches.

– Toast some bread

– Butter the bread on the outside of the sandwich, and fill with the other ingredients before finishing in a sandwich toaster.