Sorry for the slight hiatus in blogging, Bird started a new job and it’s been pretty busy in the Fats and Bird world! But we have still, of course, been cooking loads and have so many recipes to share with you. This one was a find on the BBC Food website as we were looking for inspiration on how to use up half a tenderloin of pork. While this dinner was gorgeous we can only imagine how much better it would be if cooked on a barbecue… bring on summer!
About 150-200g pork tenderloin cut into 8 pieces
8 baby new potatoes, boiled in their skins until tender
8 thick slices of chorizo
Juice of half a lemon
1-2 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
About 200-300g broad beans (fresh or frozen, we always keep frozen broad beans in the house!)
3-5 mint leaves, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
About 75g feta cheese
To start with whack the grill on. This is a super quick recipe, it will be ready in less than 20 minutes excluding cooking the potatoes. Thread some skewers with the pork, chorizo and potato – we used four skewers for more even cooking.
Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary and some seasoning and brush it all over the kebabs and then pop them under the grill.
They will take about 7-8 minutes per side which leaves plenty of time to make the broad bean salad. Turn the kebabs over once halfway through, if yours are anything like ours they will refuse to stay the way you want them to so you may have to get creative with a knife to hold them in place. Let’s just say Fats’ engineering degree certainly wasn’t wasted!
Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the broad beans. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then drain and rinse under the cold tap to cool them down. Once cooled and drained toss the broad beans with the extra virgin olive oil, chopped mint and seasoning then divide between two plates and crumble the feta over the top. Delicately plonk the kebabs on top and tuck in!
Super, super quick and easy recipe tonight (it’s Monday – we’re tired, you’re tired and will probably be wanting quick mid-week meals!). Remember this jambalaya recipe that we posted a while back? With a few simple adaptations you can make this lighter and fresher, perfect for if this weather ever warms up properly!
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 green/red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
340g can chopped tomatoes
330ml chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
135g long grain rice
Raw king prawns, about 4-6 each depending on size
A generous handful of chopped fresh coriander
Start by cooking the onion in the oil in a wide pan for a few minutes before adding the garlic, red pepper and chilli and cooking for a further minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, rice and tomato purée along with the juice of half the lime. Stir, cover and cook for around 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. You might need to add a little more stock, and remember to stir every few minutes or you’ll end up with everything stuck and it’ll be a nightmare! Once the rice is cooked take the pan off the heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in half the coriander. Place the prawns on top and then pop the lid back on just for a minute or two until the prawns are pink. Serve with the rest of the coriander scattered on top and a quarter of lime each – we both love lime so probably use the lot!
You know we love our minicrumbles right? Quick, easy, delicious and perfect for a little naughtyness after dinner! This one is a very seasonal version with some beautiful pink rhubarb bought at the same time as the celeriac from this post.
To make two little ramekins of spring you’ll need:
1 long stick/2 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into roughly 2 inch pieces
Sugar, to taste
20g unsalted butter, cubed
30g plain flour
(optional: small handful of oats)
Pop the rhubarb in a small saucepan with a splash of water and add 1 tbsp of sugar to start with. Once it’s bubbling give it a taste and add as much sugar as you want, we think ours had about 2 tbsp of sugar in. Preheat the oven to 180°C while the rhubarb bubbles away for about 10 minutes.
To make the crumble topping rub the butter into the flour with about 1 tsp of sugar and add in the oats if using until you have a lumpy-sand texture. All that’s left to do is divide the rhubarb compote between two ramekins, top with the crumble and bake for about 15-20 minutes. We served ours with a little scoop of vanilla icecream on top for extra indulgence!
We’ve become a bit of a laughing stock among our friends for our soup obsession – they’re just so comforting, easy and good for you! They are also one of the most flexible meals out there, they can be light or hearty, winter-y or summer-y and can incorporate nearly any ingredients you have lying around. This one was partly inspired by the flavours in one of our favourite pasta dishes and partly by the fact that we bought 10 sausages when they were on offer and then divided them up and froze them, it’s been a sausage fest here lately *snigger*.
Ingredients for 2 people:
1 tsp olive oil
1 small white onion, finely diced
1-2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
(optional: a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
1 tin of butter beans
1 tin/carton of chopped tomatoes
1 beef stock cube made up with about 200ml hot water
Start by taking the skins off the sausages, squidging all of the meat up and then rolling into small balls. Pop them in the fridge for later.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and celery together for about 5 minutes. Add in the fennel seeds (and chilli flakes if you’re using) and cook for a further minute until they smell beautifully aromatic.
Tip in the butter beans, the tomatoes and the beef stock, topping up with a little more water if necessary. Bring to the boil and cook for around 10 minutes, then drop in the sausage meat balls. Don’t stir for the first 5 minutes while the meat cooks or you’ll break them up. Cook for about 15 minutes then season to taste and serve. It’s extra good with some crusty homemade sourdough!
We’ve been pretty spoilt this year when it comes to sweet treats. After managing to eke out our Christmas haul all the way until the back end of February, we were ready to say “that’s enough – no treats for a while, let’s be good”. Fortunately, we were snapped out of this madness when we were given the chance to sample some lovely Lindt chocolates. We’re huge fans of Lindt, so we couldn’t turn down the chance to try something new. Fats in particular has fond recollections of Lindt – unfortunately there’s no big romantic story here, instead the memories were formed in the Lindt factory outlet store in Aachen, Germany, down the road from some offices he used to work in… he did bring Bird back one of these beauties for Valentine’s day – the gorgeous little tin is still used! If you fancy trying these out for yourself make sure you read to the bottom for a chance to win a box!
Lindt Creation Desserts are bite-sized chocolates, each one based on a well-known dessert. This is a great concept, and made for a rather obvious post inspiration – we were to chomp our way through the chocolates with the aim of deciding which one was our favourite, and we’d make the winner into a full-sized dessert and post the recipe on our blog. In fact, we decided to go one further and rank all of the chocolates. It’s a tough job, but we were definitely ready for this particular challenge…
So (in the style of BuzzFeed) here is the DEFINITIVE ranking of Lindt Creation Desserts!
At the centre of this chocolate was a thick layer of milk chocolate praline with a layer of white chocolate mousse. This was wrapped by lovely milk chocolate and topped with a thick layer of white chocolate dusted with cocoa powder. Although delicious in its own right, we felt it could have had a stronger coffee flavour.
A hard, white chocolate shell, covering a creamy white chocolate mousse dotted with tiny little bursts of crunchy meringue giving pops of texture. Really tasty, but white chocolate will always be second to milk really…
5. Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate chocolate chocolate! Thick milk chocolate shell with a rich, gooey centre. Really gooey, the kind of chocolate that sticks your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
A squishy texture with crunchy hazelnut pieces and a nutty, dark, almost burnt flavour. This was really indulgent – perfect with a mug of tea!
This was a lovely milk chocolate coating a rich praline, laced with specs of wafer, giving a great texture.
2. Creme Brulée
A milk chocolate cup containing a delicious white chocolate cream with a smooth milky flavour, topped with a crunchy layer of caramelised sugar that gave that lovely burnt flavour you associate with creme brulée – delicious!
1. Caramel Eclair
Our winner! Caramely and classic milk chocolate surrounding a gooey centre somewhere between caramel and fudge in texture, with a sweet but complex, coffee-like, slightly burnt taste. So good, we were inspired to make them for real!
We seriously enjoyed these desserts, and we reckon you will too – there’s definitely something for everyone in there. With two weeks to go until Mother’s Day, it would be a great gift too. Read on if you want to know how to make your very own eclairs, and to find out how to get hold of your very own box of delicious chocolates!
Salted Caramel and Coffee Eclairs
This recipe is a bit adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe that you can find on the BBC food website – we drew on some of the skills we learned at our Bordeaux Quay cookery school earlier in the year and changed the recipe a bit – we hope you like it!
For 4 eclairs (and a few profiteroles for good measure), you’ll need:
Before you start, pre-heat an oven to 190°C. Now, make the choux pastry. This is pretty scary if it’s your first time, but take it from us that it’s nowhere near as hard as it looks! Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat along with the salt, caster sugar and water. Once the butter has melted, bring it to the boil and immediately add the flour. Keep it on the heat for a few minutes (bit different from Hollywood here!) to cook some of the flour out, while stirring fairly vigorously to bring it all together. Once everything has come together, take it off the heat.
Start adding the eggs, a little bit at a time, and stir to incorporate into the rest of the mixture. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come together immediately, you really need to put some effort in! Hollywood reckons 2 eggs for twice this mixture, but we got nearly 2 eggs in – what you’re looking for is a really shiny, silky texture that isn’t runny but will be easy to pipe.
Once the choux mixture is done, put it in a piping bag with a 1 cm nozzle (we used disposable bags and cut a 1 cm nozzle), trying to make sure there are no air bubbles. Pipe out four 12cm-long eclairs onto a pre-prepared baking sheet lined with baking paper, and as many profiteroles as you can get out of the rest of the mixture – we managed 4 fairly large ones (about 3 cm across).
Dab down any spikes of choux with a wet finger, and whack in the oven. Bake until a light golden-brown colour – this should be about 30 minutes. As soon as they come out, put a small hole in each one with the tip of a knife, to let any steam out – otherwise they’ll go a bit soggy, and no-one wants soggy choux.
Now for the cream filling. Beat the marscapone in a bowl until smooth, and then add the coffee and icing sugar and mix in. Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks and then fold into the rest of the mixture. Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and pipe into the eclairs and profiteroles. This is another step that’s a bit scary if you haven’t done it before! Just stick the nozzle into the hole that you made and squeeze (making sure that the cream is going to come out of the right end of the piping bag!). The eclairs will hold a surprising amount of cream, inside they’re nothing but air. They’ll be pretty weighty when you’re done!
For the icing, heat the sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan. Don’t stir initially – give it the odd shake around though. When everything is melted and a bit smoother, add the milk and bring to the boil. Keep it boiling for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take it off the heat and sift in the icing sugar. You’ll need to be quick now, the icing will harden surprisingly fast! Slather over your eclairs, and dip the profiteroles in to get a little cap of icing.
For a last extra-special touch, sprinkle over a little sea salt and gently press into the top of the icing. This lovely burst of flavour and texture just puts the icing on the cake… or should that be the salt on the icing?
Now – eat them! We have to say thanks to Lindt for this, not only for the lovely chocolates, but for inspiring us to get in our kitchen to cook up this quite frankly incredible dessert.
We also have an exciting announcement – head over to our twitter feed for a chance to win a box of your very own Lindt Creation Desserts. A perfect gift just in time for Mother’s Day (or a treat to scoff yourself!). UK only, competition closes 21/03/2014, one box available and winner is chosen at random from followers who have retweeted – retweet and follow us on Twitter for a chance to win!
*Lindt Creation Desserts were sent to us free of charge by 4Ps Marketing. You can buy them at the lindt shop
This dinner was stumbled upon by chance, completely inspired by the lovely ingredients we picked up on our local high street. We’d gone for a walk on one of the first sunny Saturdays of spring with the intention of dropping by the greengrocers and the butchers to pick up a couple of bits for the coming week. In the greengrocers we nabbed a celeriac and some rhubarb (bang in season, and more to come on that later!) and in the butchers we picked up some beautiful Gloucester Old Spot boneless pork chops. Back at home we started to plan our meals for the week and realised we had a beautiful dinner sat right in front of us! Neither of us fancied a creamy gratin so we went with a boulangère potatoes-inspired dish, finely sliced celeriac layered with softened onions and apple slices to complement the pork.
This was really easy to prepare but felt pretty fancy, you could definitely wow a few people coming round for an alternative roast. It would be delicious with our roast pork belly recipe too!
Boneless pork chops, 2 per person
2 tsp olive oil
1 celeriac, sliced into 2-3mm slices
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 dessert/eating apple, peeled, halved, cored and sliced thinly
About 10 sage leaves, half finely sliced and half left whole
About 1/4 pint of chicken stock
2 tsp butter
Greens to serve – we had sautéed leeks with cabbage
The slicing is by far the most tedious bit about this dish, once you’ve got all that done it’s just layering!
Start by frying the onions in half the butter and oil with the chopped sage. Cook for around 10-15 minutes until they’re nice and soft. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Start layering up your gratin in an oven-proof dish, we did celeriac-onions-apple finishing with a final layer of celeriac. Make sure you season well with salt and pepper on each layer too.
Pour over the stock – it should come about 3/4 of the way up your dish. On the top layer of celeriac take a couple of minutes to make it look pretty-ish (not really our strong point!) and then dot with the remaining butter and the remaining sage. Pop in the preheated oven – it should take about 45 minutes to cook perfectly!
Our pork chops took about 20 minutes in total to cook, so roughly halfway through the gratin cooking time start these off. Coat with the remaining olive oil and heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Render the fat off the chops by standing them upright in the pan for about 5 minutes until the fat has turned golden on the outside.
We then poured a lot of fat out of the pan as they were in danger of deep frying! Cook them on each side for a couple of minutes and then pop into the oven either in the pan if it’s oven-proof or transfer to a dish and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Serve with some greens and enjoy. We love shopping local, there are some brilliant places and you end up inspired to cook dishes you might never have thought of otherwise!
When we were planning our weekly meals we decided to have some smoked haddock fishcakes just like these ones we made a while ago – they make a perfect light meal that feels a little bit special. But Sainsburys didn’t have any undyed smoked haddock for offer online so we had to change plans, and we’re so glad we did because it gave us the chance to come up with these little beauties! These don’t come with a sauce unlike the smoked haddock ones so are even lighter and would make a great spring or summer dish – give them a try as the weather warms up.
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 tsp butter
1 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard
2 spring onions, finely diced
A small bundle of chives, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers, roughly chopped (optional)
60g/1 small pack of smoked salmon, chopped/torn into bitesize pieces
Start by boiling the potato until tender and then drain. Mash this with the butter and mustard – give it a really good mashing so it’s nice and smooth. Then just mix in the rest of the ingredients and season! We only used a tiny bit of salt as the salmon is salty but put plenty of black pepper.
Shape the mixture into little patties (we did 2 per person) and pop into the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes.
As everything in the cakes is cooked they just need to get a nice golden colour so coat lightly in flour and shallow fry for a couple of minutes per side – try not to turn them too much as they are quite delicate. Serve as we did, we wilted spinach and a wedge of lemon or with a simple green salad.
We’re avid fans of the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live (isn’t James Martin such a pro?) and have been loving the re-runs of Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang’s Exploring China recently – we missed it the first time around. They’re such an enthusiastic pair, and so passionate about Chinese cuisine – its impossible for their excitement not to rub off on you. So we were delighted when we stumbled across Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easybook in a North Street charity shop for £3 (plus another book free!). We snapped it up and this was the first recipe we made from it.
We love duck, though don’t cook with it very often as it can be quite expensive. Fats’ parents are lucky enough, living out in the country, to have neighbours occasionally drop by with a freshly killed duck or too – though his mum doesn’t always see it that way when the garage is full of them… This recipe makes a little go a long way, as the breast is sliced really thinly – in fact we adapted the recipe so it only uses one breast. We’ve also replaced a few of the harder-to-find ingredients with stuff that you can pick up in a supermarket (you should be able to find the rest in a Chinese food store, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby). The result is still pretty authentic!
So for 2 people, you’ll need:
For the duck and marinade:
1 duck breast fillet, skin on
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
For the soup:
1 litre chicken stock
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
80 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
100 g cabbage, sliced
200 g cooked noodles (we used udon, our favourite!)
1 spring onion, chopped diagonally
40 g bean sprouts
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and place in a plastic food bag with the duck breast and seal. Wiggle it around so that it all gets covered, and put it in the fridge for anything between 20 minutes and overnight – as always with marinades, the longer the better.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Remove the duck from its bag and pat it dry with some kitchen roll. Heat a pan over a high heat, and when it is scorching hot place the duck breast in the pan, skin side down, and cook for 1 minute. Turn it over and cook on the other side for a little longer – the breast should turn a nice golden brown – and then transfer to a baking tray, skin side up, and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
To make the soup, heat the chicken stock, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a pan. Add the mushroom and cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes, before adding the noodles to cook for a minute, and finally the spring onion, bean sprouts and chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, your duck should have finished in the oven – remove it and rest for a minute, to let it suck up all its juices. Carve into slices as thin you can – you should be able to get plenty of slices to feed 2 out of a decent-sized duck breast.
Place the duck on top of the soup and sprinkle over a few coriander sprigs before serving.
We thought this meal was pretty awesome – we’ve dabbled in Chinese food before but generally have stuck more with Thai flavours. Needless to say we can’t wait to get stuck in with the rest of Ching-He’s book!
We’ve been crazy for seafood recently! We can’t stop cooking up great fish recipes. We’re also really into South American flavours – lime, coriander and tomatoes are some of our favourites – and this dish brings them all together. This recipe for Brazilian seafood stew – or Moqueca – is taken from Allegra McEvedy’s Around The World In 120 Recipes – we can really recommend it, it’s got tons of amazing and varied recipes – we cook from it all the time! The recipe has a lot going on, but it’s pretty relaxed – the first part of it can be prepared well in advance, and there’s no need to rush at all. We’re cooking it with haddock fillets instead of halibut steaks, they’re a bit easier to come by in Bristol…
Ingredients for 2 people:
2 haddock fillets
2 large cloves garlic, crushed with a good pinch of salt
A handful of coriander
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion
1/2 tbsp tomato purée
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 green pepper, sliced
1/2 tin (200ml) coconut milk
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
6 raw peeled king prawns
White rice, to serve
Salt and pepper
The first thing to do is to marinate the fish – put your fillets into a bowl or other container with the garlic, the juice of the lime, most of the coriander and some salt and pepper, and leave for an hour (or longer) in the fridge.
Put half of both types of oil into a pan and fry two-thirds of the onion slices – you want them to slightly caramelize but not burn, so don’t have the heat higher than medium. This should take around 10 minutes, after which point you can add half of the tomatoes and half the peppers and leave these to soften up for a few more minutes.
Stir in the tomato purée so that everything is coated, and follow up with half the coconut milk. Simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes or so, then blitz to form a nice creamy sauce – we used a stick blender, but you could use a food processor (we have one but don’t agree with washing up).
Now put the rice on to cook, and heat up the rest of the oils in a wide saucepan on a high heat. Cover the fish fillets in the seasoned flour (we find it easiest to sift the flour with some salt and pepper onto a plate) and fry for 2-3 minutes each side – fillets will take a little less time to cook than thick steaks. Put these aside, and add the rest of the onions, peppers and tomatoes. Cook this lot for 5 minutes or so, before adding the pre-prepared blitzed mixture and the rest of the coconut milk.
Add the fish fillets back to the pan, cover and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the prawns and a load of chopped coriander and cooking for another minute or so (we don’t think prawns need very much time at all to cook!).
Serve on a hearty bed of rice, topped with chopped coriander and served alongside a good wedge of lime – a perfect, comforting yet fresh meal.
You can find a video of Allegra herself cooking this meal on lovefood.com – check it out!
Please, please would someone open a great fishmongers in central/south Bristol?? The two high streets near us have 5 butchers between them and zero fishmongers. And we’re really not that far from the sea! Anyway, these lovely sardines were picked up at the supermarket which is convenient, but we would love to be able to shop local and get an expert’s advice every now and then. This would have come in really handy when we got home and discovered that we had to gut the fish at which point Bird walked away and made herself very busy chopping tomatoes. Fats did a fab job though and they were soon cleaned up with minimal swearing.
Oily fish like sardines are great with really strong flavours like in our recipe with harissa and orange, but they also shine when cooked simply and served with some classic flavours. We grilled ours with just salt and pepper and served with thyme-roasted tomatoes, steamed broccoli and some freshly baked sourdough.
2-3 sardines per person
2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes
Several sprigs of thyme
Salt & pepper
Green vegetables and bread to serve
To start with get the tomatoes roasting, these will cook on low for about 45 minutes until slightly dried out and the flavours have really intensified. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a roasting dish with 1 tbsp of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and then lay the thyme over the top. Place in the oven and leave for 45 minutes. Our grill is combined with our oven so when the time came to cook the fish we took the tomatoes out and left on the side – they kept really warm. Obviously if yours is separate then you can time it slightly differently so that they finish cooking while the fish grills.
Make three deep slashes in each side of the fish and then rub all over with olive oil and plenty of seasoning. Place them on a baking tray covered with foil for an easier clean up. Pop under a preheated grill – they should take about 5-8 minutes per side, when they have been bubbling and spitting away for a while they should be ready to flip over.
Serve with bread and green veg (or salad) and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over – so simple and delicious!