Grilled miso salmon with rice noodles, spring onions and beansprouts (I substituted sugar-snap peas for the beansprouts)

I made this for myself on Wednesday evening, after my late night at work. It’s quick and easy to do, and the chilli, ginger and garlic mean that it’s tasty and full of flavours. I did some harissa-marinated asparagus and steamed pak choi to go with it, as it seemed a little ‘veg-lite’. Annoyingly the noodles went a little claggy in the wok, so it’s possible that I overcooked them a little, or didn’t separate them properly before putting them in the wok, which made it difficult to mix them in with the ginger, chillies, garlic and spring onions. I’ll do better next time!

Serves 4

4 x 150g salmon steaks
50ml of vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic, grated
20g of fresh ginger, grated
8 spring onions, sliced
1 medium red chilli, thinly sliced
200g of dried rice noodles, boiled for 3 minutes and then drained
100g of beansprouts (I’m not that keen on beansprouts, so I used sliced sugar-snap peas instead
A handful of coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (I completely forgot to add this, and the recipe didn’t seem to suffer)

For the miso glaze:

10g of red miso paste
2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of hot, smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of water


Mix together the ingredients for the miso glaze. Paint the salmon steaks with it and then lay them on a grill tray lined with foil.

Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onion for a couple of minutes. The add the boiled and drained noodles, beansprouts (or sugar-snaps) and chopped coriander.
(You may need to use a pasta fork to separate out the noodles otherwise they’ll clump together and won’t mix well with the garlic and so forth.)

Grill the salmon steaks for about 6-7 minutes, turning once.

Stir the fish sauce into the stir-fried vegetables. Then arrange the noodle/vegetable mix on serving plates and place the salmon steaks on top.

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Meringue gelato cake

I made this for dessert, to follow up the beef adobo on Friday. It’s a Nigella Lawson recipe and is tasty and easy to do. It needs to freeze for 8 hours though, so it’s not a last minute dessert! The original recipe says to serve it drizzled with chocolate sauce, but as Alberto isn’t really that much of a chocolate fan, and there’s already chocolate in the cake, I didn’t bother with that, and just served it with raspberries.

300ml of double cream
30g of dark chocolate, finely chopped into chocolate splinters
1 tablespoon of coffee liqueur – I opted for Kaluha as I happened to have some in the cupboard
1 packet of 8 meringue nests, approximately 100g

Raspberries to serve

Line a loaf tin (approximately 18cm x 12cm x 85 cm) with cling film, leaving enough cling film overhanging the top to fold back over.)

Whip the cream until thick, but still soft.

Fold the chocolate splinters and the coffee liqueur into the cream.

Crumble the meringue nests into the cream mixture and fold them in until evenly mixed through.

Pack the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, pressing down with a spatula as you go. Bring the cling film over to seal the top. Wrap more cling film around the whole tin. Place in the freezer and freeze until solid – this should take around 8 hours.

Once frozen unwrap the outer layer of cling film, then un-peel the top and use the bits of overhang to lift the cake out of the tin. Cut the cake into slabs to serve.

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Beef adobo

We had Alberto over on Friday night for a spot of dinner and the first two episodes of Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (we’re a bit behind!) and, as I had the day off, I decided to cook something from my new slow cooker cookbook. I’ve toyed with this recipe several times over the last couple of weeks, but haven’t got around to cooking it until now. It reminded Alberto and I of the fantastic animated comedy Rick and Steve (The Happiest Gay Couple in the World!) as Rick’s mother is always cooking adobo. It’s delicious. The soy sauce, lime juice and red wine vinegar make the cooking sauce very tasty and rich and give it a different flavour from a more standard beef stew. The slow cooking time means that the beef is extremely tender too. I added a finely chopped red chilli, and a diced orange pepper, which worked well, and served it with plain rice and some steamed broccoli.

Serves 4

850g of braising steak, diced
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
450ml of beef stock
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
1 orange pepper, de-seeded and diced
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

To garnish:

4 spring onions, shredded
1 carrot, cut into thin batons

In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium-high heat and fry the beef pieces, browning on all sides. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the crock pot of the slow cooker.

Pop the onion in the saucepan and fry for 5 minutes or so, until just starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and chilli (if using) and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Stir in the flour and then gradually mix in the stock.

Add the soy sauce and red wine vinegar, then the sugar and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.

Once the mixture is boiled, add to the slow cooker, cover with a lid and cook on high for four hours.

After four hours, turn down to low and cook for a further 3 hours. Stir occasionally.

1 hour from the end of the cooking time add the diced orange pepper to the mixture.

Just before serving, stir in the lime juice.

Serve with boiled rice and garnished with shredded spring onion, and batons of carrot.

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Minted lamb (shank) with couscous

I made this for myself yesterday in the slow cooker. It’s another recipe from the slow cooking cookbook that Vanessa gave to me the other weekend. It’s supposed to serve 4 with a lamb shoulder joint, but as I was cooking just for myself I got a lamb shank from Sainsbury’s. The lamb and cooking sauce were delicious, although the beetroot couscous was a bit less successful – I think that I left it to stand for a bit too long as it was cold by the time I came to eat it. (making it in a plastic bowl, rather than a metal saucepan, like I normally do, probably didn’t help, either.) Also, the beetroot dice were a bit too big too – I think next time I might grate it instead.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon of olive oil
900g of lamb shoulder joint
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of plain flour
3 tablespoons of mint jelly
150ml of red wine
300ml of lamb stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the couscous:

200g of couscous
150g of cooked beetroot, peeled and diced
400ml of boiling water
Grated zest and juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
A small bunch of mint, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the lamb on all sides. Remove from the saucepan and place in the slow cooker.

Add the sliced onion to the saucepan and fry, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes or so, until golden.

Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Then stir in the flour and mix well. Add the mint jelly and the wine and stir until smooth.

Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and then bring to the boil, stirring frequently.

Once boiled, pour it over the lamb in the slow cooker. Pop the lid on and cook on for four hours on high, turning the meat occasionally. After four hours turn the heat down to low for a further four hours. Once cooked the meat should be very tender and almost falling off the bone.

To make the couscous, place the couscous and beetroot in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and then add the lemon zest and juice. Cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped herbs to the couscous and fluff up with a fork.

Serve the lamb with the couscous and a generous helping of the cooking sauce.

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Thai fishcakes

I do love a little Thai fishcake and I’ve been meaning to try and make some for myself for ages. There are loads of recipes on the internet and after a bit of surfing around I opted for this one. They’re quite easy to do, although a bit messy. The resulting cakes didn’t have quite the same internal consistency of shop-bought fishcakes, but they were very good, and with the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli, they’re full of lovely flavours. I might try a different recipe next time, just for the variety.

Makes 6 cakes

250g of white fish fillets (I used cod loin), roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
5cm of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and white part roughly chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
3 teaspoon of fish sauce
Half a teaspoon of salt
Zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
Groundnut oil for frying

Place the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, spring onion, chilli, coriander and a tablespoon of groundnut oil into a food processor and pulse until it is well chopped up.

Add the fish, fish sauce, salt, lime zest, sugar and egg and blend until it forms a smooth paste.

Remove from the food processor and place in a bowl. Using your hands, pick up the mixture and repeatedly throw it against the side of the bowl. Do this for 3-4 minutes as this thickens and aerates the mixture.

Chill the mixture for 15 minutes.

Shape into little patties and shallow fry, over a medium-high heat, for a few minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

Delicious, and a bit spicy!

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Mustard chicken and bacon

Yesterday afternoon Abigail and I went out to the cinema to see Ghost Stories (it’s very good – do go and see it, but avoid spoilers!) and so I wanted to pop something in the slow cooker for the evening. I flicked through the cookbook that Vanessa gave me last weekend and found this recipe. It’s very tasty and easy to do. I added some red pepper to the stew, just for a bit of extra veg and it came out well. I served it with a mustard and cheese mash.

Serves 4

15g of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 chicken thighs per person
4 rashers of smoked back bacon, sliced (I also bunged in some smoked pancetta lardons that I happened to have in the fridge)
400g of leeks, thinly sliced. (Keep the white and green parts separate)
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons of plain flour
600ml of chicken stock
3 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken pieces over a high heat, until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and place in the crock pot of the slow cooker.

Add the bacon, garlic and the white parts of the leek to the saucepan and fry, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or so, until just starting to turn golden.

Stir in the flour and then gradually add the stock, mustard and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.

Then pour over the chicken in the slow cooker. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 5 hours.

After 5 hours increase the heat to high and cook for a further hour.

After an hour, add the green parts of the leek, and the diced red pepper and cook for one more hour.

Serve with the mash.

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Yakitori chicken skewers

I made these for myself yesterday as I’ve been meaning to make them for ages. I love a nice yakitori chicken skewer. They’re very easy to make and tasty. I only made two, for myself, and I used shop bought yakitori sauce rather than making my own. I did find a recipe online for making your own yakitori sauce so I’ll outline that here, although I didn’t actually do it myself.

Makes 2 skewers

2 chicken thigh fillets, diced into 1cm chunks
3 fat spring onions, cut into 1.5cm lengths
100ml (approx) of yakitori sauce
2 bamboo skewers

Soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for about 20 minutes or so.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.

Line the grill pan with tin foil – the yakitori sauce will drip a lot, so it’s good to have something to catch the drips. Cuts down on the washing up a bit too.

Thread the chicken pieces on to the skewers, alternating, as much as possible, with the spring onion pieces. (you’ll probably have more chicken pieces than onion pieces, so you won’t be able to always alternate them evenly.)

Place on the grill rack. Brush the top side of each skewer generously with the yakitori sauce. Grill for four minutes or so.

After 4 minutes, turn the skewers and brush the other side with the sauce. Return to the grill for a further 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes turn the skewers again and brush with sauce again. Grill for a further 4 minutes.

Turn one final time, brush with sauce again and grill for a final 4 minutes.

To make your own yakitori sauce:

3 tablespoons of mirin
3 tablespoons of Japanese soy sauce
3 tablespoons of sake
1 teaspoon of sugar

Mix together the mirin, soy, rice wine and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, gently, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick. Allow to cook slightly, before using.

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Pork scratchings

I made these on Saturday evening from the thick skin that I cut off the pork shoulder joint that I used for Saturday night’s dinner. They’re fairly straight-forward to do and very tasty.

Pre-heat the oven to 150

Pat the skin dry and then liberally scatter with freshly ground sea salt. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes brush the salt off and pat the skin dry.

Cut the skin into strips, roughly 1cm across and then liberally salt them again.

Arrange on a baking try and place in the middle of the oven.

Cook on 150 for 30 minutes, then turn the oven up to 220 and cook for a further half an hour. By this time they should be cooked and nicely crackly and crisp.

Place on a wire rack to cool.


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Cidered pork with sage dumplings

The lovely Vanessa is down from London for the weekend and as well as bringing me down a plethora of alcohols, some chocolate, some books , some candles, and a frankly horrifyingly twee unicorn calendar, she also brought me down a book of 200 slow cooker recipes. So, I flicked through and found this tasty recipe to cook for us for dinner yesterday.

It’s a lovely dish – pork, cider and leeks all go well together – was easy to do and was deliciously comforting on a cold evening. As an added bonus the pork shoulder joint that I bought for the purpose had a large amount of skin on for crackling, and so I was able to remove that and turn it into home-made pork scratchings!

Serves 4

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
750g pork shoulder, diced
1 leek, thinly sliced, white and green parts kept separate
2 tablespoons of plain flour
300ml of dry cider
300ml of chicken stock
200g of carrot, peeled and diced
1 dessert apple, cored and diced
2-3 stems of sage
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dumplings:

150g of self raising flour
75g of suet
1 tablespoon of chopped sage
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Water to mix

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the pork pieces, in batches if necessary, over a medium high heat until browned all over. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in the crock pot of the slow cooker.

Add the white parts of the leek to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the flour and then gradually add in the cider and stock, stirring constantly.

Add the carrot, apple and sage and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil and then add the mixture to the slow cooker. Stir well, pop the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours. (I found that 5 hours on low and 2 hours on high worked perfectly.)

To make the dumplings mix together the flour, suet and herbs in a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Gradually stir in enough water to make a dough that is soft but not sticky. Cut this into 12 pieces and roll then into balls.

An hour before the end of the cooking time, stir the green pieces of the leek into the casserole and then arrange the dumplings on top. Recover and cook for a further hour, until the dumplings are well risen.

Serve with steamed greens


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Cod with Puy lentils and red wine sauce

Another one from the new Rick Stein cookbook from Alberto. Absolutely delicious. Not very filling though – I did some sautéed black cabbage to go with and was still scoffing crackers and cheese two hours later. Really tasty though with piquant flavours

Serves 4

75g of unsalted butter
4 x 175g pieces of thick skin-on cod fillet
50g of onion, finely chopped
50g of carrot, finely chopped
50g of celery, finely chopped (as ever, I substituted leek for The Devil’s Vegetable)
A small pinch of ground allspice
A small pinch of ground cloves
A small pinch of grated nutmeg
A large pinch of curry powder
600ml of chicken stock
600ml of red wine
1 teaspoon of sugar
¼ of a teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the lentils:

50g of dried Puy lentils (I’d be inclined to do a bit more for 4 people – I had 25g for just me and it still wasn’t much)
300ml of fish stock
1 clove
1 bay leaf
2 slices of peeled onion
½ a teaspoon of salt

Put all of the ingredients for the lentils in a pan and simmer until tender. Drain then cover and keep warm.

Melt 50g of the butter in a medium pan and then brush a little of it over both sides of each cod fillet. Season the fist and then place on a grill pan, skin-side up.

Pre-heat the grill to high.

For the sauce, add the chopped onion, carrot, celery/leek and the spices to the melted butter in the pan and fry over a medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Add the red wine, stock, sugar and salt and bring to the boil. Boil until the sauce is reduced by three quarters and the flavours have concentrated.

Strain into a clean pan and keep warm.

Grill the cod for 8 minutes until the skin is well browned and the cod is cooked through.
Melt the remaining 25g of butter and mix with the flour to make a smooth paste. (This is a beurre manié, apparently)

Bring the sauce to the boil and then whisk in the paste, a little at a time, until the sauce is thickened and smooth.

To serve, spoon the lentils on to four warmed plates, and place the cod on top. Spoon the sauce around the edge.

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