For the past three years, I have always shopped at supermarkets. In the area where I was based, there wasn’t really a nearby opportunity to buy fresh stuff – no butcher, no market, mainly just quick stop stores and superstores. Which was perfectly fine at the time. Standard Friday night dinner was usually pasta, frozen pizza or, my guilty pleasure, canned chicken korma.
Nowadays though, with the lovely kitchen and all, that’s no longer the norm. (Well, I’m not going to lie, there’s nothing wrong with a quick supper every now and then.) But when I can, I prefer spending some quality time in the kitchen, and ever since I did a little discovering in my new area, I’ve had some very pleasant suprises coming my way.
I discovered the six-day fruit and veg market that functions just two tram stops away from me, where I can get a massive bunch of coriander for 50p, or a bunch of asparagus for only a pound, and where they sell things that often I can’t even identify. And just near the market is the local butcher, where a bunch of jolly men, for some reason, tend do give me big smiles every time I walk by; and right next to that, the fishmonger, which is the shop that provided the base for this here blog post.
I bought this beautiful lemon sole for the low price of £5 (would have been more than £10 presumably, had I gone to Waitrose), and they cleaned the skin and removed the head for me. It was fresh, very tender and it deserved good treatment – hence why I decided to cook it as a classic sole meuniere (or almost).
For sole meuniere, one needs:
1 lemon sole (whole in restaurants, filleted otherwise)
Lots of butter
Yep, c’est tout. Rachel Khoo had the lovely idea though of adding capers to the sauce, so I got a little jar of that too. This time I also decided to invest in butter that costs a little more than normal (in my defense, it was reduced) because this recipe really deserves it. Here’s what I used:
Basically, the method goes: coat the sole in flour and fry in a pan with oil and butter, about a minute on each side. Now, me being me, I completely forgot the coating part; so I kind of just went with the flow and after more or less successfully deboning my first sole, I fried the fillets.
After frying, wipe out the pan and melt a generous nob or two of butter. This needs to be cooked until it turns nutty brown, then it has to be immediately removed from heat. I was too scared of this, so I don’t think I cooked my butter long enough – but butter is always delicious, no matter what the colour.
Away from the heat, whisk in a couple of table spoons of lemon juice and you are ready to serve! I also added my capers at this point and it made a delicious, savoury and sour sauce that was heavenly with the fish. I served the sole with buttered parsley potatoes (so much butter!) and it certainly made a fantastic dinner.
Despite its big reputation, this dish isn’t super complicated or expensive. Now, of course, I would have loved to fry the fish in whole and then have a French waiter bone it for my whilst I watch and sip my white wine, as they do in France… but if you’re a “servantless American cook” like me (minus the American part), this is a good method too.
I love Asian food. I love the taste, the fragrance, the texture, the versatility – I could honestly live on it. And by Asian food I do indeed mean everything from Indian to sushi. But I especially love it when some cuisines coincide and mix, because that’s when all kinds of magic is born.
This dish, as seen on Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course, is probably one of his best in the show. Not only does it look incredibly impressive, it smells and tastes fantastic, and the dipping sauce really is something else. It is not perfect, for sure – but it is really worth a shot. Not to mention it will make you feel like an Asian chef, even though you’re just chopping and frying.
In his original recipe, Gordon uses beef mince mixed with pork mince – but if you’re on a budget like me, one of them will do just fine. The mince turned out rather dry for me and not at all crispy – I’m not sure if the added pork would help that. Then again, it seems to me that crispy texture creation and me are just at constant war. I love eating it – cannot recreate it.
Here’s what you need:
For the beef:
1 pack of mince beef
1-2 red chillies, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 lime, zest and juice
1-2 gem lettuce
For the dipping sauce:
Sesame seed oil
Bunch of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1 chilli, deseeded (unless you like your food super hot) and roughly chopped
So to start off, heat your pan until it’s almost smoking. With a dash of olive oil, fry the mince until crispy (well, if you can – I can’t). Remove and drain in a sieve.
Wipe the pan with a piece of kitchen towel. In a dash of sesame oil, fry the garlic, the ginger and the chillies for a minute or two. Add a spoonful of brown sugar to caramelise, then add your mince back to the pan.
To the mix, add your lime zest and a generous squeeze of juice. Ramsay also suggests spring onions, added at the last minute for some crunch, but I didn’t have any this time.
Mix your dipping sauce in a separate bowl and serve your mince in gem lettuce leaves to impress anyone.
Now smell your kitchen… That’s something, isn’t it?
Note about the dipping sauce: it doesn’t taste anything like I imagined. But don’t let that discourage: it is actually very nice with the beef. I served the dish as a main course, but when you have guests over, this could pass as a lovely party nibble as well as a starter. Attention: it is super spicy, so if you don’t like it hot like some, cut back on either the chilli or the ginger.
Love the texture of the dish, and I highly recommend it to anyone with a taste for the exotic :) Just try and keep your beef moist!
I hardly ever eat chocolate, and that is the truth. The reason behind it is usually I’d feel very gulity if I bought chocolate in a store, just like that, to eat. But a few weeks back I decided to go against myself and I bought an amazing dark chocolate bar seasoned with sea salt and it was so good that I only allowed myself a cube per day, so as to keep it going for as long as possible.
That little purchase opened a door though – at least temporarily – and so the second thing I decided to cook from Gordon’s new book ended up being a lime-flavoured white chocolate mousse, and oh boy.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – that’s not lime zest. No, I’m not senile, I just ran out of lime zest by the end of the show, and so I went with a lemon decoration.
Anyway, for those not friendly with mousse, it is basically the same process as if you were making a soufflée. (So helpful, I know.) To clarify: the mousse is made so soft because of egg whites, whipped until stiff peaks are formed. So if you have an electric beater, this recipe really shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes – but seeing as I am still set on whisking by hand and buliding incredible muscles only in my right arm, it took me about half an hour. Totally worth it though.
For four portions of this deliciousness, here’s what you need:
(Once again, I’m just passing on this recipe, credit goes to Mr Ramsay)
3 large eggs (white only)
100g white chocolate
300ml double cream
1 lime, zest only
To start, break up your white chocolate into little pieces and put it into a heatproof bowl. Next, pour half your cream into a saucepan and heat until it begins to boil. (Don’t keep it on the stove after that, otherwise it will thicken and you don’t really want that.) So as soon as it’s bubbling away, pour the cream over the white chocolate and mix with a spatula until the mix is completely smooth.
Now comes the harder part that I always mess up: whisking cream. You need to whip the other half of the cream in a separate bowl along with the lime zest until soft peaks are formed. I think I may have whipped it a bit too long though, and so from time to time, whilst eating the mousse, one could feel little lumps of double cream. It’s annoying, but it’s not a catastrophe – but you might as well just learn from my mistake and stop whipping a bit earlier.
Add your whipped cream to the chocolate mixture, folding one into the other, then set aside.
Finally, whip your egg whites until they form soft peaks. This is so much fun. I love watching the consistency of that slimy, disgusting-looking liquid turn into bigger and bigger foam until suddenly it looks like a liquid meringue.
When you have soft peaks, start adding your sugar, bit by bit, and keep whisking until you have stiff peaks. (I like doing this – you can’t over-beat.) Once all the sugar is incorporated, fold your whites into the chocolate mixture gently, and you are ready to portion!
In the original recipe, Gordon puts some crashed raspberries into the bottom of the glass, but I didn’t have any, so I just took four glasses and portioned the mousse evenly between them. After a tiny bit of decorating, let chill for at least two hours, but more is always better, and voilá – dessert is served!
The mousse is light and delicious – and the zest just takes it to a whole new level. While it may sound like it’s time consuming and difficult, I promise you that it’s not. I mean, I was even surprised to look at the clock afterwards and see that I only worked for half an hour. It’s impressive and super good – have fun trying it out!
For a while now I felt like I have ran out of inspiration in the kitchen. I mean, it has been chicken and potatoes for quite some time, and I started missing the challenge and the new in dinners. The best thing to do in such a situation for me is to buy a new cook book. And of course, what better way to refresh my love for cooking if not through Gordon Ramsay’s most recent, Ultimate Home Cooking?
While I hate watching the TV show because of all the forced camera happiness in the Ramsay family, the recipes are naturally mouth-watering. I’ve also had a serious vegetable craving for the past few weeks (I mean I am constantly munching on cherry tomatoes!). And since my boyfriend, who is probably the most anti-vegetable person I know, is working late this week, I decided to go with this delicious mix of vegetables and halloumi to catch up on my crunchies.
(Recipe taken from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking, edited to what I did and used)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 courgette, grated
250 g halloumi, grated
Bucnh of fresh coriander leaves
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Put the grated courgette and carrots into a colander, season with salt generously and let drip for a while. The salt helps to get rid of the liquid – which you will definitely definitely need. Try and squeeze out all the liquid to make your patties stick together more.
Put your vegetables into a bowl. Add your grated cheese, shredded coriander and season well with pepper (don’t add too much salt as the cheese is very savoury anyway). Note: Gordon also uses some fresh mint in this recipe, but I’m not a fan. Add your eggs and mix well; finally, add the two tablespoons of breadcrumbs and mix again. The mix should now form into patties easily (squeeze out the remaining liquid whilst you do that). Place them on a plate and cool for 20 minutes until they firm up a bit.
Shallow-fry the patties until the two sides are lightly browned and they are warm thoughout… and you are ready to serve!
I had these with a bit of watercress, dressed with a honey and grainy mustard dressing which went perfectly with the salty patties.
These are so fun to do (or is it weird that I like grating?) and are so good to get some vitamins in. I mean, the weather is getting colder and all that…
I’ve always, always preferred Gordon Ramsay over Jamie Oliver. I mean, you just have to take sides in the epic chef-off when you live in England, don’t you? Ramsay is, no doubt, the god of cooking for me. Well, the side of him you don’t see on Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares, but the one you see on his Ultimate Cookery Course for example.
On the other hand, having watched a whole minute of Jamie, I decided I didn’t like him. After Gordon’s dead-serious, prof cooking, you’ve got this ligh-hearted, easy come easy go guy with his simple omelettes and his 30 minute meals… I wasn’t used to this kind of slacking off.
But now that I have a TV licence and I get to see his shows from time to time, I have to admit, Jamie kind of grew on me. Also, a friend of mine got me a Jamie cookbook for my birthday, which was kind of like getting someone a mug (no idea what they like but good intentions) – and having flicked through time and time again, last week was the first time I found something I wanted to try.
This chicken and chorizo paella is a sweetly simplified and cheaper version of the true Spanish dish – but when you don’t want to spend too much and feel like cooking something out of the ordinary, this is perfectly satisfying. (By the way, I call the little afro-man Louie, and he is a washing up sponge officially. I think he looks better just standing there though, next to the red microwave.)
Since the recipe isn’t mine, you can view it Here. Honestly though, give it a try – it doesn’t take much skill and it is so delicious.
Something I don’t usually do is take photos of the mise en place, but this recipe was so pretty to prepare that I decided to take a quick picture.
The only thing to remember about this dish is A, season very well, because I swear, no amount of salt and pepper is enough; and B, use a big, shallow dish. I used my Le Creuset casserole since that’s my only dish that seemed suitable for this recipe – but alas, the lowest layer of rice still burned, no matter how hard I kept stirring. It burned so bad and left such a black grease layer that I had to soak the poor thing for 3 days, and even then I had to do some serious scraping to get all of it out from the bottom.