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Showing posts from May, 2011

Tom Yum Soup with Mussels Recipe - Thailand (Gordon's Great Escapes)

Tom yum, that soup of wonders, that spicy restorative, that Thai dish which even gave its name to a Tony Jaa action film for reasons that still escape me (imagine if Mission Impossible 3 was renamed Mulligatawny).

There's a lot of controversy about what constitutes an authentic tom yum (sometimes spelt tom yam) - should it have tomatoes, what type of mushrooms if any, prawns or chicken - and it seems some recipes like to throw in everything but the proverbial kitchen sink.



I've even seen some people use coconut milk, which makes it too close to tom kha ghai for my liking, and any version with pineapple is going straight in the sin bin.

Anyway, I have to admit I used to err on the side of plenty, but I found it became too much of a jumble, so these days, I like to strip it down and use as few ingredients as possible. This gives a fresher, lighter, sharper taste - a broth that almost sparkles with clarity.

Here's my Channel 4 Food recipe for Fragrant Tom Yum Soup with Mussels to…

Speculoos Biscuits with Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream

I'd never heard of speculoos till Edd Kimber aka The Boy Who Bakes mentioned it to me. Speculoos (or speculaas) is a spiced, gingerbready biscuit from Belgium and the Netherlands, which also comes as a spread, brilliant for using in cakes and other desserts.

So when I came across packets of speculoos in the adorable little Wye Bakery run by Mary Braithwaite and Nigel Ings (who'd moved from France to the village of Wye in Kent), I scooped some up as a present for said Boy Who Bakes (they also sold us some Campteclaire and Peveloise - artisan French bread flour - and gave us gluten and yeast).



Then today I felt like a snack, so I raided my freezer to find some Prune and Armagnac ice cream I'd made (this David Leibovitz recipe).

I had a couple of bites, and sucking the spoon I suddenly thought, "Y'know, I bet those speculoos biscuits would be really nice with this".

And so I opened one of Edd's packets, and I slathered fat wodges of ice cream between some of tho…

Hog Roast at The Red Lion and Sun [Haiku Review]

Hog roast perfection.
Crackling divine, moistest meat,
Ludicrously cheap.


Look at that. Unlimited pork plus sides for £12. TWELVE POUNDS.


Droool.


This guy (Heath Ball aka @pubhobbit on Twitter) owns the pub. He looks justifiably happy.


A plate of sunshine.

The Red Lion and Sun
25 North Road
Highgate Village
N6 4BE
020 8340 1780

Parties of up to 100 people with a 80kg hog (Middle White or Gloucestershire Old Spot), or lamb roast or suckling pig roast for smaller parties (there were about 30 of us).

Summer only and booking essential - enquire on 0208 340 1780 or info@theredlionandsun.com


Laksa Lemak Recipe - Malaysia (Gordon's Great Escape)

The first time I had laksa was almost a decade ago in South Kensington, in the uninspiring environs of Oriental Canteen (which was dilapidated even then), due to a tip-off from AA Gill of all people.

Though a slightly lurid shade of orange, the laksa was fiery, delicious, and bursting with seafood, and I tipped the bright red bowl to get every last drop. I then went home and tried to recreate the dish, and have been honing it ever since, and you can now see my laksa recipe on the Channel 4 Food site for tonight's Gordon's Great Escape to Malaysia.

I'd demurred from trying laksa for ages, as I'd foolishly thought it was just a spin on my beloved ohn-no khao swè and, ostensibly at least, the two had similarities.

I then found out that, whilst the Burmese dish was fairly strict in terms of ingredients and style (suggest garnishing it with coriander, and meet fisticuffs in some parts of Burma), laksa seemed to have almost as many variations as there are stars in the sky.

These…

Truffle Infused Eggs - with the help of Mister Truffle

Some "luxury" foods have always been a bit out of my reach for reasons of penury. Caviar is one of them - I think I've tried it twice in my life (once at a tasting at Selfridges and the second time at Bob Bob Ricard).

The other that springs to mind is the truffle - your average specimen costs about £80. I've bought truffle oil before, and even preserved ones in a jar, but the only time I'd had fresh truffles was at my birthday meal at Launceston Place last year (oh, and there was this one dish I had from Dolada, but let's not go into that).

So when I found out about Mister Truffle, a business that imports the best seasonal truffles and sells them by the GRAM, I thought, "Oooooh".



Because it meant I could even afford to cook with truffles myself - to make that silky truffled pasta, to shave wispy slices over my scrambled eggs, to pimp my steak sauce - bringing a taste of luxury to my home without having to mortgage my house in the process.

But before I c…

Pho Noodle Soup Recipe - Vietnam (Gordon's Great Escapes)

Saturday evening, I'm at a family wedding, full of cake and gazing happily at the flickering tealights dotted around on my table. My 10 year old niece comes up to me and opens her hand and says, "What are these, Daw Daw?" Her palm is full of star anise taken from the table centrepieces. I say to her, "Smell one" and she does, and she says it smells spicy and faintly sweet.

I then take one pod and wave it through a flame and say, "Smell it again", and her eyes light up and she says it smells wonderful. I tell her that it's a spice used in Asian cookery and she runs off to gather more, and then insists I give them all the same treatment.

As I singe the anise pods one by one, she gets one of the wedding favours, a gauzy reticule full of sugared almonds, up-ends the sweets inside, and replaces them with the charred anise. She then reties the satin ribbon carefully and sniffs the newly-stuffed little pouch appreciatively.

That scent of charred star anise,…

Pork Belly Midnight Snacks and Pork Off 2011 - Deadline Extended to June

Sometimes, at night, I get cravings for something savoury to nibble on. A packet of Salt 'n' Shake crisps will usually do the trick but sometimes, more drastic measures are needed.

Times like these, I'll crack out a piece of pork belly from the fridge (yes, I do always have one in there) and I'll roast it using the method in my recipe here.

I'll change the seasoning depending on my fancy and what's in my cupboard - caraway and thyme, maple syrup and paprika, pomegranate molasses and ras el hanout, miso and shiso sprinkles, honey and black pepper, or just soy, ginger and garlic.

And then I'll chop the crisp yet wibbly pork belly into fat chunks, fling them into a bowl and chomp away on the piggy morsels as if they were popcorn or peanuts, but oh so much better.

Making it takes a little while, but it's worth the wait. Pork heaven. Pork bliss.



Talking of pork bliss, I'm one of the judges for Pork Off 2011. "What's that?" I hear you cry.

Pork Of…

Fish Amok Recipe - Cambodia (Gordon's Great Escapes)

A new series of Gordon's Great Escapes hosted by Gordon Ramsay starts tonight (Monday 9 May) on Channel 4.

In the last series, Ramsay explored India, but this time round he's taking on four countries. The focus is South East Asia, and so he's travelling to Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand to taste and to have a go at cooking the local cuisines.

I'm delighted to say that some of my own recipes are being featured on the Channel 4 website which accompanies Ramsay's new series.

Gordon's first stop is Cambodia, so here's my recipe for Amok Trei or Fish Amok - a Cambodian aka Khmer fish curry.

Amok is a coconut curry steamed gently in banana leaves (the Thais call their version "haw mok") and is considered by many to be the national dish of Cambodia. It's usually made with fish, but chicken, tofu and even snails are also used as the main protein.

The curry base of amok is a deeply fragrant paste known as kroeung, and it comprises a mix of fresh l…

MasterChef Final 2011 (TV Recap)

2011 saw a brave new world as MasterChef (aka MehsterChef) copied its Australian counterpart by installing a fancy piece of topiary and dragging out the already interminable extravaganza by showing us the previously untelevised audition stages.

Hopefuls prepared their top dish to win a place in the final 20 (twenty!), but the series began with a whimper as the best part of the show - the Invention Test - seemed to have been consigned to history. Where's the fun in watching people make the one dish they know by heart? Where's the creativity, the ingenuity?


Worse was the bizarrely humiliating format, as they were forced to wheel a tea-trolley of comestibles onto a stage and turn tricks for the gurning Gregg Wallace and John Torode. Hopes crushed, unsuccessful contenders wheeled their trolleys back off again under the eyes of their disappointed loved ones.

After two episodes of X-FactorChef, I got fed up and turned off - even the gruesome twosome blind-folding contestants and making…