Sherry-braised pork with walnuts

You start the first stew recipe after the clocks go back with something gushing about earthy flavours and warmth and the nights drawing in, right? I’m not sure – it’s been a while. Anyway, this is a one of those.

It’s an off-the-cuff pork stew that was really more about the desire to drop a whole bottle of sherry over some gooey pork belly than any especial chunky-knitwear tweeness.

I’d argue it succeeds. The nutty-sweet sherry comes together with the actual nuts and fruit sweetness of the dates, and the fat and rind of the pork go beautifully sticky in the long braise.

I only made this the once, so the quantities are a bit seat of the pants, but you’ll get the overall idea.

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Scott’s All Day – more brunch on Mill Rd

If you wanted to make a glib joke about Mill Road and gentrification, it might go something like an anecdote about a beloved curry house closing, being replaced by an absurdly niche-concept wine bar, and finally ending up as an all-day brunch joint that thinks a heap of kale is a fry-up.

Yeah well, it’s 2019. Irony is dead, the arctic is on fire, and the kale brunch is delicious.

Of course it comes with smashed avocado.

Scott’s All Day sits on the old site of The Golden Curry (and latterly Ony’s), and the Scott in question is Scott Holden, formerly of Fitzbillies. There are some lovely photos of the refit on Tim Hayward’s Instagram, and it’s a background that gives a bit of confidence that this incarnation of the site will fare a little better.

We first caught them on day two of opening, then again two weeks later. And while it’s safe to say they’ve had some teething troubles (two people down for lunch service today, poor sods!) it’s pretty promising so far.

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Ittou – Cambridge finally gets a ramen place

…and it’s ok!

Ramen – specifically tonkotsu ramen – is pretty great. Noodles in a rich broth, usually topped with chashu pork, spring onions, kombu, and a soft-boiled egg. It’s that particular kind of over-architected fast food where you’re taking twenty four hours and as many ingredients to make a pot noodle with delusions of grandeur, and I bloody love it.

As top-tier fancied up junk, I’ve been hoping for years that ramen shops would roll into town and pull Cambridge out from the burger event horizon.

Oh well, we’ve got one now.

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Brisket stuffed with peppers and za’atar

You know what’s great? Porcehtta. Now, what if porchetta but beef…

Cool – many of you can now skip the recipe entirely.

What? Nigel Slater got a 400-page book out of one-liners and faint gestures. At least I’m going to give an ingredients list below the fold… sheesh. (Eat is actually great though, worth your time as an idea-sparker)

This is a thing that happened when I wanted to make porchetta, but couldn’t find pork belly without walking across town. It doesn’t have the zingy brightness of a herb-stuffed pork roast, and brisket won’t give you the gooey richness either, but it’s big satisfying flavours and it’s fall-apart soft. Other cuts may push you more in that unctuous direction (looking at you, beef shin) but they’ll be fiddlier to slice and stuff.

The nice thing about this is that it’s front-loaded. Twenty minutes of faffing, then three hours of ignoring it in a low oven and you’ve got an amazing sandwich filling (fresh rolls or pita) or an unusual roast.

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Gammon and cider stew with apple cardamom dumplings

This is a medium-weight stew. A spring or autumn affair like an earth-tone cardigan for your mouth. The pork and apples are brighter than, say, beef and ale, and the spices keep it light while the dumplings add some satisfying heft.

I was talking about it to friends the other night, and I was sure I’d posted it already. Apparently not. I only had the recipe as a scrappy handwritten scrawl in an old notebook. So if I’m writing it up, you might as well all have it too.

It’s reasonably easy, and uses meat you don’t see super often outside roasts. While little seems likely to cure our national gammon we can at least reclaim this retro carvery favourite while there’s still food on the shelves, eh?

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Atithi – a promising new curry house for Mill Rd

Have you ever read a review so bad you just had to visit the restaurant?

Chettinad Chicken Curry

After seeing this trickle of journalistic bin juice I felt that good or bad (it’s good) Atithi deserves better than a glib summary of their menu by someone who reads like they haven’t walked down Mill Road in a decade.

Happily, the food had significantly more depth than the puff piece.

Atithi offers thoughtful updates to curry house classics, with modern presentation and some interesting tasting and sharing menu options.

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Leftovers idea: sag aloo frittata

Since a minor revelation last year, I’ve been finding Spanish omelettes much more satisfying, but they’re still a bit of a faff.

Now, given 70% of that faff is procuring a heap of tasty, well-cooked potato, and sag aloo is, largely a heap of tasty, well-cooked potato, this seemed like an obvious leftovers brunch.

Yeah, it works.

In fact, I’m totally making double the quantity next time I do sag aloo, or tacking on an extra portion next time I get takeout. It’s worth it.

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Three cup aubergines

Just before Christmas, a friend asked me for this recipe, and I realised I’d never actually posted it.

This was a bit of a surprise, as it’s something I’ve been making for years. I had to send him the draft, and it was, let’s say, a little rough…

I’ve tidied it up now.

So, what exactly is “three cup aubergines”? It looks pretty questionable if you try to express it in emoji, but it’s just a veggie take on a Chinese classic: Three Cup Chicken.

I don’t think there’s a recipe in Every Grain of Rice– which has become my go-to for Chinese food – but that Serious Eats one is decent, and it’s pretty simple in any case.

The three cups in question are, historically, one each of soy, rice wine, and sesame oil, all cooked down to a sticky sauce. Although if you actually use three cups of each you’ll need to serve it with a generous side of blood pressure meds.

Both the aubergine and chicken versions are quick to make, succulent, and incredibly comforting served with a bowl of rice and some simple greens.

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Learning to make xiaolongbao at Janncy’s Kitchen, London

Earlier this year, the boyfriend and I had an amazing time in Hong Kong. That’s a whole separate post, and one where I get over-excited about architecture before complaining about the air quality and the financial inequality.

But the food was amazing.

Particularly amazing were the xiaolong bao we had at Din Tai Fung. If you’ve not had xiaolong bao before (and I hadn’t), they’re these little steamed dumplings, usually filled with minced meat, various aromatics, and – crucially, deliciously – soup.

I know, right? Soup. Turns out the answer is “gelatine”, but we’ll get to that.

xiaolong bao

Recalling how much we’d enjoyed them, and being non-trivially wonderful, as a Christmas gift, Kit got us both a class learning to make them. It was an oddly serene way to spend a January morning, and thoroughly enjoyable

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Spanish omelette

A couple of weeks ago, I realised I had been making Spanish omelettes wrong (or at least badly) for years. This mini epiphany came when playing Codenames (it’s brilliant, you need it) with a friend whose Spanish boyfriend had heard I liked food. He waxed lyrical about tortilla de patatas the way his gran showed him to make, and then proceeded to show us how it’s done.

The key revelation was small but delicious: about a pint of olive oil.

Yep, it’s basically potato confit. Which, I’m sure is old news to most of you. But (light your pitchforks!) I’d been boiling them first, or occasionally frying them to an exterior crisp. No wonder I could never get that gooey unctuous texture in the middle. Thanks David! You and your gran have massively upped my omelette game.

Spanish Omelette

After tweeting about this over the long weekend, a few folks asked for my Spanish omelette recipe. “Oh, I checked and it’s basically just the Felicity Cloake one”, I said. But y’all wouldn’t be told, and now here I am making another of these. An omelette surplus – how ever will I cope.

So, just for you, Twitter Omelette Fans, just for you, here goes.

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