• cooking

    Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork

    This is a classic Chinese dish. When I was a boy, my mother used to make this with crispy fried noodles on top. In this version I use pork but you can also make it with chicken breast (recipe somewhere else on this site).

    – Fry some chopped onions in a wok.
    – Toss small pieces of chicken breast in cornflour and add to the wok. Add some chopped carrots and green pepper. Fry until the chicken starts to colour.
    – Add
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- pineapple chunks
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- pineapple juice
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- soy sauce
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- tomato purée
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- vinegar
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- a little sherry
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- honey (or sugar)
    – Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through and the sauce thickens
    – Service with rice or noodles.

  • cooking

    Pepper beef with Mediterranean vegetable gratin

    Further to my previous post, the Garonne burst it’s banks and Bossòst is flooded. Incredible photos and images on the news, 400 people or more evacuated and some dead. If we had gone through there one day later, we would have been underwater.

    The “merlan” is a long piece of tender beef from the top of the rump. It is called “merlan” because it looks like the fish of the same name (in French).

    First the vegetables:
    – grill thin slices of potato on the griddle, spray with a little oil
    – grill thin slices of aubergine and courgette on the griddle, spray with a little oil
    – make layers of cooked aubergine, potato, courgette and sliced tomato in an oven proof dish
    – add plenty of parsley, garlic and salt at each layer
    – cover with a mixture of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese
    – cook in a hot (210°) oven for 40 minutes.

    Now the beef:
    – Coat beef “merlan” in freshly ground pepper (lots)
    – Place on a very hot griddle, keep turning until cooked.
    – Slice thinly and place on dish.
    – Serve with vegetable gratin.

  • cooking

    El Portalet (yes, again)

    At last a photo of the best restaurant in the world, le Portalet in Bossòst, Catalunya.

    Sadly the restaurant was closed for a short but well deserved break before the summer rush.
    The weather has been fantastic and it has been so hot that the mountain glaciers are melting quickly and the rivers are almost flooding.
    More torrential rain is coming, so the situation will surely worsen later this week.
    The photo is a Catalan meatball with asparagus tempura. Mixed meat meatballs are a Catalan speciality – (see here).

  • cooking

    Crispy pork chops with oven chips

    This is a variation on my mother’s crispy pork chops recipe.
    I’ve actually tried this with both pork and lamb chops. Enjoy!

    – Heat some duck fat in an oven proof tray. When sizzling put in some potatoes cut into chip size pieces
    – Brush the chops with plenty of mild mustard
    – Grind a mixture of walnuts and a little breadcrumbs, add a little salt
    – Coat the mustardy chops with the nut mixture
    – When the oven chips are just starting to become golden you may need to turn them over from time to time), place the chops next to them in the oven tray or separately in a lightly greased oven proof dish
    – Cook in a hot oven until the chops become a nice golden color and the chips and nicely brown.

    I suppose you could call this recipe chips and chops!

  • humour


    By popular demand, the whole SauerKraut story is posted here.
    Use mouse to scroll along, click on photo to see enlargement and start slideshow

    Visit SauerKraut’s Facebook for more news, photos and videos

  • cooking

    Hot goat cheese and tomato starter

    This is a really simple goat’s cheese starter.

    – Use North African brick pastry sheets. If you can’t find them, filo pastry should also work.
    – Cut each round brick sheet in half and fold each half lengthwise to obtain a long strip. If you are using rectangular sheets of pastry, cut into strips.
    – There are many many techniques of folding samosa shaped triangles. The best technique I know of can be seen here on the right (thanks to youtube)
    – Place a thin slice of tomato and a slice of goats cheese into your pastry packet

    – Seal well with melted butter
    – Brush all over with more melted butter
    – Brown in a hot oven for ten minutes or fry with some oil in a pan. You can also deep fry these samosas, they only need a few minutes before turning a lovely golden brown colour.
    – Serve on top of a salad (I use roquette or young spinach leaves)
    – Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinaigrette

  • cooking

    Chilli Pie

    I obtained some chilli powder from Bolivia. I used it in this very interesting variation on Chilli Con Carne:
    – Fry a chopped onion
    – Brown some freshly minced beef
    – Add some chilli powder, some garlic and a little ground coriander
    – Add a large tin of peeled tomatoes (or some fresh chopped tomatoes) and one or two little squares of dark chocolate
    – Simmer until the sauce thickens
    – Add a tin of red beans
    – Boil some potatoes, carrots and sweet potato
    – When soft, drain and make a mash, add a little butter and some grated cheese
    – Place the chilli in an ovenproof dish
    – Place a sliced tomato on top
    – Cover with the mash and make some pretty patterns on top with a fork
    – Cook in a hot oven until nicely browned on top
    For those who are frightened of making a chilli that is too hot and spicy, you can substitute the chilli powder with sweet mild paprika. When serving put some tabasco or hot sauce on the table for those who like it “hot”, and some do…

  • cooking

    Thai Green Curry

    I’m sure I have posted this recipe somewhere here already. This version was especially tasty:
    – Fry a chopped onion
    – Make green curry paste in a blender using the following ingredients:
    – a large bunch on fresh coriander (leaves and stalks)
    – one or two fresh chillies (depending on how hot they are)
    – one clove of garlic
    – about 2cms of fresh ginger
    – a teaspoon of Thai shrimp paste (sometimes called Trassi or Kapi – you can buy it in most oriental stores)
    – A little oil, sesame oil is good for a nutty flavour
    – Add the curry paste to the onions
    – Add coconut milk
    – Add a tin of peas, or fresh peas, or even frozen ones
    – Cook on a gentle heat
    – Add fresh peeled shrimp and cook through (if you are using cooked shrimps do not cook for so long, just heat them sufficiently)
    I serve this with rice and fresh basil.

  • travel

    The tweets are back, and the woodpecker pecks

    A woodpecker has been pecking on the beams on the outside of my office wall. He’s driving le crazy and making huge holes in the beautiful facade of our house.
    To add to the woodpecking noise, the red tailed birds have come back for the sixth or seventh year running and built their nest on the beams above our terrace. The chicks are very hungry and tweet endlessly as the parents go back and forth collecting food.

  • cooking

    Barbecue Sauce

    This sauce has a lot of ingredients. It’s better if you cook it a few hours in advance or even the day before to allow the deep flavors to merge and mingle.
    – Fry a chopped onion in a little oil.
    – Add a tin of peeled tomatoes
    – Add the following ingredients:
    2 cloves chopped garlic, teaspoon ground coriander, teaspoon ground cumin, two big spoons tomato ketchup, lemon (or lime) juice, tablespoon dark brown sugar, big teaspoon molasses, two or three tablespoons red wine vinegar, a chopped chilli pepper (or two depending on how hot they are), two big spoons of mango chutney, two teaspoons honey, glass of orange juice, big dash of Worcester sauce, two tablespoons of soy sauce, 2cms of chopped fresh ginger (or teaspoon ground ginger), big teaspoon of mustard, a little water, salt to taste (just a little, the soy sauce usually makes it salty enough).

    – simmer on a low heat for 35-45 minutes, add some more water if the mixture starts getting too thick
    – I add an optional ingredient at the end which is “liquid smoke”, you can buy this if you live in the US, otherwise it can be ordered on the internet at myamericanmarket.com. It gives a wonderful smoky taste.
    – I cook spare ribs for 45 minutes in the oven and baste regularly both sides with this sauce. Then finish them off on the barbecue. You can use it with practically any barbecue recipes. Heat some sauce and put on the table for dipping.
    The photo on the left shows my barbecue ribs served with Mille Feuilles of Boulgur and Quinoa (see recipe here above)

  • cooking

    Salmon and Leek pie

    My mother used to make fish pie regularly, this recipe brought back childhood memories similar to that wonderful scene with the food critic in the movie Ratatouille.
    – Chop two leeks and gently fry in some olive oil with a chopped onion.
    – Peel and boil some potatoes and carrots, you can also add a turnip, a swede, or a sweet potato.
    – Add a little water to the leeks if they start to stick to the pan
    – When the leeks are soft add a large knob of butter to the pan.
    – Sprinkle with flour and mix well. When all the lumps of flour are dissolved, add some milk and keep stirring until the sauce starts to thicken. Add plenty of nutmeg.
    – If the leek/béchamel sauce is too thick add some more milk or a little cream.
    – De-bone some fillets of fresh salmon and remove the skin. Actually any other fish would also be good.
    – Place the fish in a deep baking dish, add pepper and sprinkle a little white wine over it, for added flavour.
    – Pour over your leek/béchamel mixture.
    – Mash the potatoes (and other vegetables if used) with a little butter.
    – Spread the mash over the top of the fish and leeks. Make pretty patterns on the top with a fork.
    – Bake in the oven at 200° for 25-30 minutes by which time the mash topping should have started to brown.

    For me the best condiment to go with this fish pie is a generous dose of hot tabasco.

  • cooking

    Mille Feuilles of Boulgur and Quinoa

    I purchased some cooking rings. They are really useful for making individual gratin portions (“rostis”), perfectly round fried eggs, and for making very pretty presentations on a plate. You can find them in most supermarkets now or buy them online at places like Tescos or even Amazon. They are very cheap. I am told you can also cut an opened tin can in half, but this sounds dangerous, beware of cutting yourself.
    I have always like cooking with cereals, rice and couscous of course but also Bulgur, Quinoa, Barley and Millet. I made these little cereal and tomato moulds to accompany my chicken breasts stuffed with horn of plenty mushrooms with blueberry sauce
    – Fry a chopped onion in a little oil.
    – Add a mixture of quinoa and bulgur, salt, pepper and some stock to just cover
    – Cook for about 10-15 minutes adding more stock if necessary. This method is identical to making a risotto. Different grains are available in different countries and require varying cooking times. You need to stop cooking when the cereals have absorbed all the liquid but are still a little “al dente”.
    – Allow the cereals to cool a little and add a lot of chopped parsley, or better, some chopped basil.
    – Slice a large tomato, I used Coeur de Boeuf or “BeefHeart” tomatoes. Using your chef’s cooking rings, cut out a circle from each tomato slice just the size to fit inside the rings.
    – Grate some cheese, I used a mixture of freshly grated parmesan and goat’s cheese but emmenthal or cheddar will also work.
    – Add one or two eggs (depending on how many rings you are making) to the cooled quinoa/bulgur/parsley (or basil) mixture.
    – Assemble your rings with a layer of cereals, a layer of grated cheese, a slice of tomato, a layer of cereals, a layer of grated cheese and topped with a tomato ring. Add any leftover grated cheese on top.
    – Bake in a medium oven for 12-15 minutes.
    – Place the rings on a plate and carefully lift them off. The eggs and melted cheese should have set the little “towers” which look just spectacular.

  • cooking

    Christmas Pudding Roll

    They say that your can keep Christmas pudding indefinitely in a plastic container in the fridge. I guess this is because the amount of alcohol that goes into it, a very long shelf life is assured.
    You can see my Christmas Dinner Leftovers recipes on my 26th December post.
    You can imagine that I was a little reluctant about making a dessert from the leftover Christmas pudding in early May (ie 6 months old) but as this was a homemade pudding based upon the wonderful Good Housekeeping recipe, it did smell ok, and the archeological effort of re-discovering it and getting it out of the deepest depths of the fridge sort of justified doing something with it.
    In fact, after months of marinating, it was just delicious, better than at Christmas.
    – Roll out several layers of fill pastry, brush each side with melted butter and lay on top of each other.
    – Grate an apple (or two). Add some cinnamon and nutmeg.
    – Spread the grated apple and left over Christmas Pudding onto the layers of filo pastry. Moisten with a little rum or brandy if the mixture seems too dry.
    – Roll up the pastry into a roll and brush all over with more melted butter.
    – Bake in a hot oven until golden brown.
    – Slice and serve with cream, ice cream or even some bandy or bum rutter.

  • cooking

    Beef stir fry

    – Chop an onion. Cut two or three carrots into matchstick sized bits. Fry the onions and carrots in a wok using sesame oil.
    – When the carrots start to soften after a few minutes, add some chopped steak.
    – Fry on a very high heat for a few minutes until browned. Add a little chopped garlic.
    – Add some ground szechuan spice. You can find this is most oriental food stores, it’s main ingredient is szechuan pepper.
    – Add some soy sauce, a little HoiSin sauce (you can also find this is most oriental food stores), some sugar and a dash of sherry.
    – Cook through until the sauce thickens a little.
    – Serve with rice.

  • cooking

    Bread and Butter Pudding

    An old favorite, my mother used to make this. It’s a sort of merger between French toast and clafouti.
    – Butter some slices of bread and cut into triangles. In the photo I used Italian Panettone cake which gives this dish a lot of flavour. If you are using plain bread, you should also spread some jam or marmalade onto the bread.
    – Lay the triangles in a baking dish
    – Sprinkle with raisons, sultanas and cinnamon
    – Heat 350ml of milk and 50ml of cream to boiling point (just scald, don’t boil), you may need to increase these proportionally for a larger dish
    – Whisk two eggs with three tablespoons of brown sugar
    – Slowly pour in the hot milk stirring all the time
    – Pour the custard mixture over the bread and allow to rest for a while so that the bread soaks up some of the liquid.
    – Sprinkle with ground nutmeg and demerara sugar
    – Bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes until the custard is cooked and brown on top.

  • cooking

    Prawn curry and chapatis

    – Mix a smooth bread dough with flour, salt, oil, a little yeast, and sugar. Let it rest for a while, this makes it more elastic and easier to roll out thinly.
    – Fry a chopped onion in some ghee.
    – Add some cubed courgettes and a chopped banana and continue frying for a few minutes.
    – Add some curry powder or, better, curry paste. You can make this yourself in a small blender by adding freshly ground dry spices (coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds) and fresh chillies, ginger and a little oil. You can find various posts in this blog about making fresh curry paste, basically use the spices you like best and experiment with the proportions.
    – Mix the spice mixture into the pan and add some lemon juice, and coconut milk.
    – Cook on a low heat until the courgettes are cooked through and the sauce is creamy.
    – Add some peeled cooked prawns, just heat through and serve.
    – You can also use uncooked prawns (also peeled), in which case put on a high heat and cook for a little longer until the prawns are cooked through.
    – Roll out small balls of the chapati dough until they are very thin. Cook on a very hot flat griddle or a heavy based frying pan. They need only one minute per side providing the pan is hot enough.

  • cooking

    Curried Meatball Koftas

    – Fry an onion in a wok using ghee (clarified butter available in dairy or vegetarian form in all Indian shops).
    – Add some Indian curry powder (see elsewhere on this website) and fry for one minute until the aromas are released.
    – Add two chopped tomatoes, some tomato paste and a little water, simmer gently.
    – Mince some lamb.
    – Blend one or two green chilli peppers, some curry powder, chopped garlic and ginger. Add a little tomato paste.
    – Mix the spice paste with the lamb and some chopped coriander.
    – Now put your hot tomato curry sauce into the blender and liquidize. Pour back into the wok and add some water.
    – Using your fingers, form some small golf ball sized meatballs with the stick lamb mixture.
    – Place the meatball into the tomato sauce and gently cook for about 30 minutes. Add more water if the sauce becomes too thick.
    – Serve with rice sprinkled with grilled sesame seeds.
    – Decorate meatballs with some more chopped coriander and some plain yoghurt.

  • cooking


    I’m back to making bread every day with organic spelt flour.

    Take about one pound of regular flour in a bowl. I actually use a little more than one pound because my bread tin is quite long and holds more than a pound. I also mix wholemeal and white flour, about half and half. Use instant yeast from Knights supermarket or similar outlets. You can also use any other dried yeast or fresh yeast dissolved in a little warm water with some sugar For just over a pound of flour I would use about two tablespoons of yeast, here you can see the approximate amount in a yoghurt pot. You can also follow instructions on the side of the yeast packet Add yeast, two tablespoons of cooking oil, a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of sugar. You can also add oats, linseeds, raisons, whatever you like to give more flavour. Mix well.
    Add warm (not hot) water and knead until the dough is soft and flexible but not sticky Roll out the dough on a floured board and then place in a buttered baking tin Cut some incisions into the top of the loaf which helps it rise evenly and make it look pretty. You can also brush with a little egg and decorate the top with oats, sesame seeds, cornmeal, poppy seeds, whatever. Cover with a tea towel and leave it to rise (about 30mins to one hour or more depending on the weather) Leave it until the dough has risen over the top of the bread pan and put into a very hot pre-heated oven. After 6-7 minutes bring the heat down to 190° degrees C and cook for a further 20 minutes (total baking time 27-28 minutes).
    Basically you need to take the bread out of the oven when its a nice golden colour and it sounds “hollow” when you tap it with a wooden spoon.
  • cooking

    Smoked Salmon Mousse starter

    – Put some leaves of gelatine to soak in cold water or, if using powdered gelatine or veggie jelly (various brands out there), follow instructions on the packet.
    – Finely slice a carrot and boil for a few minutes (the carrots should still be a little crunchy).
    – Make some mayonnaise (or use some ready-made) and mix it with a little tomato ketchup and a little horseradish sauce (or tabasco if you want more of a kick).
    – Melt the gelatine in a small amount of hot water, allow to cool a little.
    – Add the cooled gelatin mixture to the pink mayonnaise and add some fromage blanc (you could also use cream). Line the bottom of some ramekin moulds with a little of the mixture.
    – Assemble the ramekins in layers of smoked salmon, cooked carrots, and mayonnaise mixture.
    – Place in the fridge to set.
    – To serve, place the ramekins into a little hot water to slightly melt the set gelatine and then turn out onto the plates.
    You could also use cucumber slices in this recipe.

  • cooking

    Griddled Chicken

    This was an improvised dish made on the plancha griddle, it turned out to be very tasty.
    – Cover some chicken breast with cling film and bash them out flat with a rolling pin.
    – Place the chicken in a marinade of lime juice, olive oil, honey, soy sauce, crushed peppercorns and crushed coriander seeds.
    – Marinated for an hour or two, more if you want.
    – Heat the griddle until it’s really hot.
    – Grill the chicken breasts twisting once (to give them a pretty criss-cross pattern and turning once. Baste with the marinade from time to time.
    – Gently heat any remaining marinade separately in a small saucepan to pour over the chicken when serving.
    – To accompany, I grilled some quartered mushrooms on the side of the plancha (see photo).
    I served with mashed potato and cherry tomatoes.