Tag Archives: Recipe

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.


– 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


– 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.


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/


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


  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.


– 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)


– 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.

Ox Cheek, Mushroom and Onion Pie

This is a recipe for quite a rich beef pie.  I based this on a jus recipe in Modernist Cuisine, but with adjusted quantities and some added ingredients to make it more suitable for use in a pie.  With the quantities here, I think the gravy is about the right water content, but doesn’t cling to the beef as well as I’d like – in future experiments I might see if I can use some sort of thickening agent to fix this, but in this version I’ve avoided use of corn flour or similar to keep the flavours strong


– Ox Cheek 500g, chopped into stewing size pieces.  I’ve also used beef shin for this, but it ended up quite fatty.  If you can’t get the right cut, use another cut with good flavour (tough cuts work well)

– 1 large onion, finely chopped

– 300g closed cup white mushrooms, sliced

– 12 rashers thin sliced smoked bacon (optional)

– 50g unsalted butter

– 4 carrots, peeled and cubed

– 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

– Brown rice miso, 2 tbsp

– Chardonnay 100ml

– Sherry 100ml

– Water 100ml

– Sherry vinegar

– Soy Sauce


1. Sous vide cook the beef for 12 hours at 80 degrees C (refer to sous vide cooking instructions)

2. In a pressure cooker, sauté onion and mushrooms and bacon in the butter until softened, about 10 minutes

3. Add water, sherry, chardonnay to onions and mushrooms then pressure cook for 25 minutes

4. In a separate pan, boil potatoes and carrots for about 10 minutes to soften, then drain

5. Rapidly depressurise the pressure cooker (use a damp towel or follow instructions for the pressure cooker)

6. Add potatoes, carrots, beef, miso, sherry vinegar, soy sauce to the pressure cooker

7. Cook on low temperature for 20 minutes – add water if the mixture is too thick, reduce if too thin

8. Add salt to taste

9. Bake in oven with pastry lid (I’m lazy enough to use shop bought)