Yakisoba (Japanese fried noodles)

This evening I decided to make something new from the Tokyo cookbook that Alberto bought me for Christmas. It’s full of lovely, tasty little Japanese dishes and I thought that this one looked suitably interesting. I decided to go ‘all Japanese’ and so also picked up some Japanese beer and some little pork gyoza from a nearby Japanese supermarket – I really ought to try making them myself sometime!

I did have to look around town a bit for the aonori* and I also found a source of tonkatsu sauce that I needed for the tonkatsu pork that I made the other week. The end result was very nice and I would certainly make it again.

(*aonori is a dried seaweed powder used for seasoning)

Serves 4

4 packets of dried ramen noodles (1 pack per person)
3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 onion, cut into 5mm slices
200-300g of belly pork, thinly sliced
1-2 leaves of white cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons of tonkatsu sauce
1½ tablespoons of oyster sauce
1 teaspoon of fish sauce
4 eggs
A few pinches of aonori

Cook the dried noodles according to the instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over a medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent and then add the pork and cook for 2-3 minutes until cooked through and nicely browned. Add the cabbage and sauté for another minute. Remove the pork and vegetable mix from the wok and set aside.

Clean the wok and heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Sauté the noodles for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to ensure that they don’t stick. Once the noodles are nice and glossy add the pork and vegetables. Then add the tonkatsu sauce, oyster sauce and fish sauce and stir well to ensure that the sauces, pork and vegetables and noodles are well mixed together.

Divide between the individual plates. Fry four eggs and place one on top of each plate. Sprinkle a pinch of aonori over each plate and serve.





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Pork goulash with fried gnocchi

On Saturday evening I had Douglas and Matt over for a spot of dinner and a post-Christmas catch up. I fancied cooking some sort of stew as it was a cold, wet day, and after flicking through the Great British Bake Off Winter Cookbook I came across this recipe. I love a bit of goulash, but it’s usually a beef dish rather than a pork one, so I thought that this variation would be interesting to try.

Serves 4

1kg of pork shoulder, diced into 2-3cm pieces
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons of sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons of hot smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
½ a teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 400ml tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
100ml of soured cream
A small bunch of parsley leaves, freshly chopped

400g of gnocchi

Pre-heat the oven to 150.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole, and brown the pork, in batches if necessary. Once nicely browned remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and fry for 5-10 minutes over a medium heat until softened and golden brown.

Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further minute.

Return the pork to the pan, and stir in the two different types of paprika, along with the caraway seeds and cumin seeds. Season and then stir well to combine.

Add the tomatoes, stock and tomato purée, stir well and bring to a simmer.

Then transfer to a casserole dish if you are not already using a flameproof one on the hob, cover and pop in the oven.

Cook for two hours, until the pork is very tender.

Stir in the soured cream and parsley and serve. (I left the cream on one side so that people could put in as much or as little as they liked.)

I served this with gnocchi fried in butter with garlic until crispy.

Very tasty – lighter than the usual beef goulash but still with all the goulash-y flavours.


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Tonkatsu (Crumbed pork)

I made this for Alberto and I on Monday evening. It’s from the new cookbook – ‘Tokyo – Cult Recipes’ that Alberto got me for Christmas. It’s a tasty little recipe, a bit like chicken katsu, but not hugely filling so I did some stir-fried vegetables in teriyaki sauce, to accompany the dish, as well as some miso soup as Alberto and I really like it.

The recipe required tonkatsu sauce, which I was, unfortunately, unable to find. Fortunately however, the recipe does tell you how you can make your own. I’ll keep looking for it in town though, and hopefully I’ll track it down eventually.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
50-100g of panko breadcrumbs
4 slices of pork neck about 2cm thick
Tonkatsu sauce (if you can’t find this you can make it yourself. See below)
Vegetable oil for frying

For home made Tonkatsu sauce:

3 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
Set out one plate of flour, one of beaten egg and one of panko breadcrumbs. Dip each slice of pork first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs, pushing down well to ensure that the pork is well coated.

Heat vegetable oil, to about 5mm depth, in a large frying pan. Once the oil is hot, place the breadcumbed steaks into the hot oil and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

Once cooked remove from the hot oil, drain on kitchen paper and cut into strips.

Serve, drizzled with the tonkatsu sauce.

For the tonkatsu sauce mix together all of the ingredients until smooth. (Alberto and I found it a bit too tomatoey – I think that next time I’ll only use two tablespoons of ketchup.)



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Lamb shanks with white wine and gremolata

I had Phil over yesterday evening for a spot of dinner and Doctor Who (we opted for episodes 1-3 of The Sea Devils, with episodes 4-6 to follow next week.) and so I flicked, once again, through the Great British Bake Off Winter Cookbook and found this recipe, It’s surprisingly flavoursome given how simple the ingredients are and the long cooking time means that the meat is so tender that it practically melts in the mouth.

However, if this were a Sherlock Holmes case it would have to be called The Case of the Misplaced Parsley. I needed parsley for the gremolata, I picked up parsley, I paid for parsley and then I lost parsley. I either left it at the supermarket or I’ve put it somewhere so remarkably obscure when I got home that I may not find it for weeks. So, in short, there was no gremolata to garnish the lamb with. Hey ho – not the end of the world. Wasabi mash and steamed spring greens complimented the dish well.

Serves 6 (when scaling it down I simply reduced the number of shanks I used, but kept all the other amounts the same.)

Olive oil for frying
6 lamb shanks (1 per person)
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 leek, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
500ml of white wine
300ml of hot lamb stock
2 fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs of rosemary
A knob of salted butter
Salt and black pepper

For the Gremolata:

A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Finely grated zest of one lemon
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil, to bind
Pre-heat the oven to 160

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large, flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, then add them to the casserole and brown them on both sides. Remove and set aside.

Heat a little more oil in the casserole and fry the onion and leek over a gentle heat for 5 minutes or so until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a furter minute.

Return the lamb shanks to the pot and pour in the wine and stock. Season well with salt and pepper and add the bay leaves and rosemary.

Bring to the boil and then cover with the lid and then place in the oven for 2½-3 hours until the meat is falling from the bone.

Remove the lamb shanks from the casserole and set aside, covered loosely with foil to keep it warm.

Discard the bay leaves and rosemary stalks from the liquid and bring the sauce to the boil on the hob. Reduce it by half, until it’s nice and glossy and then whisk in the butter.

To make the gremolata mix together the parsley, lemon zest, garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the lamb topped with the onions from the casserole and with the sauce poured over. Then, as a final garnish then scatter the gremolata over the lamb.



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Spanish pot-roast chicken

Last night I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner, Doctor Who and a post-Christmas catch-up. On the Who front we opted for Four to Doomsday, to follow on from last week’s Castrovalva, and on the food front I opted for this rather tasty little number from the Great British Bake Off Winter Cookbook. I made a couple of changes, mostly due to scaling it down from serving 6 to only serving the 2 of us. I also only had 50ml of sherry, so I made up the other 100ml with white wine but that didn’t seem to affect the flavour unduly. I also omitted the ground almonds, as I don’t like them.

It’s a tasty little recipe and I shall certainly be cooking it again. I’m not quite sure what, apart from the smoked paprika, makes it particularly ‘Spanish’ but it was tasty, nonetheless. I served it with crispy, cheesy butternut squash wedges, which I liberally scattered with chunks of chopped chorizo, to emphasise the Spanishness, and steamed spring greens.

60g of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
25g of ground almonds
1 x 1.8kg chicken (I opted for 2 chicken thighs per person)
1 lemon, halved
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon of plain flour
150ml of medium dry sherry
500ml of hot chicken stock
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 red peppers, de-seeded and sliced (I only used two peppers, one red and one green for variety)
1 x 400g tin of butterbeans
100ml of double cream
A handful of fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200.

Mix the butter with paprika and then push it under the skin of the chicken, spreading it over the meat.

(If you are using a whole chicken then you’ll need to tie the legs together after applying the butter, to ensure that they don’t splay open during cooking.)

Season the chicken and then squeeze the juice from the lemon over and inside the chicken and then place the two halves in the cavity.

In a large flameproof casserole heat the oil over a medium-high heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes or so, until softened. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further minute.

Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds or so, and then add in the sherry, stirring continually, until smooth. Bubble for a couple of minutes, until reduced a little, and then add the stock, thyme and sliced peppers.

Place the chicken in the pot and bring the liquid to the boil.
Cover the casserole and place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes.

Uncover the casserole and stir in the beans. Return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for a further 25 minutes until the chicken is golden and cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a serving dish and cover loosely with foil while you make the sauce.

Return the casserole to the hob. Skim off any fat from the surface and bubble the liquid for 5 minutes to reduce it a little. Stir in the cream and tarragon and season.

Spoon the beans, pepper and sauce around the chicken and serve.




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Crema di Limoncello (Creamy Limoncello)

After I made some clear limoncello for Alberto a couple of years ago for Christmas, and gave Mum and Dad a taste of the leftover, they’ve got quite into it. They’re particularly taken with the creamy version and so I decided to make some of that for them for Christmas this year. I found a recipe online and it was simple to do – to my surprise the creamy element was just sugary milk – no actual cream at all.

1 litre of unflavoured vodka
Zest of 15 lemons
1 pint of whole milk
500g of caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence

Bottles, a kilner jar, a lemon zester, coffee filters, a funnel

As with the clear limoncello recipe I detailed a couple of years ago, the first part of the process takes 2-3 weeks and involved getting the lemon-y flavour into the vodka.

Pour the vodka into a 1ltr kilner jar and then zest 10 lemons directly into the vodka. You need to ensure that you only get the zest from the lemon, not any of the white pith which can make the resulting drink bitter.

Once you have zested the lemons, seal the jar, give it a good shake and allow to stand for two weeks, shaking daily.

After two weeks, filter out the zest, discard and then zest a further 5 lemons into the vodka (which will now have a lovely light yellow tinge), shake, and leave for a further week, once again, shaking daily.

Once a week has passed, filter out and discard all of the lemon zest.

To make the cream place the whole milk in a saucepan, along with the vanilla essence. Gently heat and slowly add the sugar, stirring constantly until all of the sugar is completely dissolved. (Do not allow the milk to boil – gentle heating is the key!) Once all the sugar is dissolved remove from the heat and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.

Once the sugary milk is cool slowly add it to the lemon vodka, tasting regularly until the correct flavour is achieved. (I didn’t actually use all of the sugary milk, but I probably only had about 50ml left over.)

Bottle. Refrigerate. Drink. Enjoy!


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Pork shoulder with lemon and garlic

On Tuesday evening, according to tradition, I had the lovely Figgy over for dinner and Doctor Who, (although we actually watched the first two episodes of the latest series of Jonathan Creek) and Alberto was working late, and so I cooked dinner for the three of us. I flicked through The Great British Bake Off Winter Cookbook, looking for something stew-ish and I found this lovely little recipe. It takes a little time but it’s worth the effort, and as I’m off work for Christmas I have the time.

I served the dish with a cheesy mash and some steamed broccoli. Very tasty indeed.

Serves 6 (although, obviously I scaled it down for just the three of us.)

1 tablespoon of olive oil
A knob of unsalted butter
2 red onions, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
20 fresh sage leaves
2.5kg boned and rolled pork shoulder joint
1 bulb of garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled
400ml of dry cider
300ml of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
A generous splash of double cream
Salt and black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 220.

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions until slightly softened. Add the thinly pared zest of 1 lemon and half the sage leaves and cook for a further minute.

Unroll the pork joint, season well with salt and pepper and place the remaining sage leaves on the meat. Re-roll the joint and tie up.

Place the pork in a large casserole dish and pour over the fried onions, sage and lemon zest.

Roast, uncovered, in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 160. Thickly slice the remaining lemon and add it to the casserole, along with the garlic cloves, cider and stock. Season well, cover with a lid or foil and return to the oven for a further 2-3 hours (depending upon the size of your joint), basting the pork regularly with the liquid from the pork.

Lift the pork out of the casserole, place on a plate and cover with foil, allowing the meat to rest. Skim any fat from the liquid and transfer it to a frying pan, filtering out the onions and lemon zest.

Add the mustard and cream, a squeeze of lemon juice and season well. Bring to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce a little.

Slice the pork thickly and serve, topped with some of the cooked onions and with the creamy mustard sauce poured over the top.


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Persian dried lime, lamb and split pea stew (Khoresh-e-Gheymeh)

I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and Doctor Who last Friday. (We watched Castrovalva, as the end of our viewing of Season 18) I fancied something Middle Eastern and so I flicked through the wonderful Persiana cookbook by Sabrina Ghayour and found this lovely little recipe. Well, more accurately I remembered it – I’d seen it a while ago and bought the dried limes in preparation, but never actually got ’round to cooking it. Now was the time!

The recipe suggests serving this dish with fried slices of either potato or aubergine and so I opted for the latter and lightly fried some thick aubergine slices in olive oil until they were lightly browned on both sides. I accompanied the dish with lemon couscous and some garlic flatbread.

Rather than cooking it on the hob like the recipe suggested I started it all off in a large saucepan on the hob but then transferred it to a tagine, and into the oven, for the main cooking time. It all turned out nicely, although I think I may had added a little too much water near the end of the cooking time, as I was worried about it drying out, and thus thinned the sauce out a little too much. Still, I’ll know for next time.

Serves 4-6 (needless to say, I scaled it down for just the two of us. And still had plenty left over for the following day.)

3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and roughly diced
1kg of boneless lamb neck, diced into 1” pieces
2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 generous pinches of saffon
150g of tomato purée
8 Persian dried whole limes (these never soften into edibility, but impart a lovely tart, limey note to the finished dish. Hoof ’em out before serving though.)
200g of split yellow peas
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

(If you’re using a tagine, pre-heat the oven to 200)

Heat the olive oil in large saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions until softened.

Increase the temperature and add the lamb pieces and fry for about five minutes, until the pieces are browned all over, stirring constantly to avoid the meat stewing.

Add the turmeric and stir well to ensure that the meat is completely coated. Do the same with the saffron and cinnamon. Then add the tomato purée and season well with salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Prick the limes with a fork. (This can be tricky – they’re tough buggers!)

Add them to the stew and then add enough water to just cover the meat and limes. Stir well, bring to a light boil and then turn the heat down low and cook for 1½ hours. (At this point I transferred the whole concoction to my tagine and slipped it into the oven for the requisite 1½ hours.)

After 1½ hours add the yellow split peas, stir in well, and cook for a further hour.


Very tasty!



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Sausage and ale casserole

Fig was over on Tuesday evening for our usual weekly entertainment. (No Doctor Who this week – we’re watching The Walking Dead at mine as his partner won’t watch it with him!) Alberto was also in for I cooked for the three of us. I fancied some sort of stew or casserole and, after flicking around on the BBC website I decided on this sausage recipe. It’s a tasty one. The butter beans are my own addition, and I omitted the celery that the original recipe suggested as neither Alberto nor I like it. As I was cooking for 3 I used all 8 sausage. With two sausages per person and the remaining two skinned and divided into small, sausage meat balls.

I served it with wasabi mash and steamed spring greens.

Serves 3 (or 4)

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
8 good-quality pork sausages
2 medium onions, chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
500ml of India pale ale
½ a beef stock cube
100-150ml of water (I put in 100ml to start with and kept the other 50ml in reserve, in case the stew started to dry out too much.)
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
1 tablespoon of light muscovado sugar (the original recipe said 2, but that seemed like a lot to me so I cut it down a bit.)
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
400ml tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
A generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of ground sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and fry the sausages (and sausage meat balls) over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turning regularly until nicely browned all over. Remove from the pan and set aside (The meatballs stuck a little so I also added a generous splash of white wine to deglaze the pan before frying the onions so that added to the flavour too.)

Add the onions, leek and carrots to the pan, season well and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring regularly, for five minutes or until beginning to soften and lightly colour.

Slowly add the ale to the casserole. Then crumble the stock cube over the top and add 100ml of water.

Stir in the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, sugar, bay leaves and a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the butter beans and heat through for a further five minutes. The sauce should be thick but not too dry.

Serve immediately.



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Meatball, chorizo, tomato and white bean stew

The lovely Vanessa was down for the weekend and so I cooked dinner for the four of us on Saturday evening. I was in a meatbally mood and so had a flick around on the BBC website and found this little gem. I excluded the head of fennel, as I’m not that keen on the flavour, but retained the crushed fennel seeds in the meatball mix so that some of the flavour remained.

It turned out rather well. I was concerned that the recipe wanted you to reduce the liquid rather too much. I always think that a stew should have a certain amount of ‘sauce’ with it. So I didn’t reduce it quite as much as suggested. I also used a bit more red wine and a good dash of red wine vinegar to bring out the flavour of the chorizo even more. I also used half fresh tomatoes and fresh chopped plum tomatoes which worked rather well.

For the tomato sauce:
1kg of ripe tomatoes, skinned, chopped and seeds discarded (I used 500g og fresh tomatoes and a 440g van of chopped plum tomatoes.)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Leaves from a sprig of fresh

For the stew:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 head of fennel, chopped (I omitted this)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
A generous pinch of dried chilli flakes
175ml of red wine (I used more like 225ml)
1½ teaspoons of smoked paprika
300g of chorizo, chopped
1 x 400g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed

For the meatballs:
750g of pork mince
1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds
2 teaspoon of ground cumin

For the tomato sauce, chop the tomatoes to pulp and discard the seeds.

Heat half of the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallots, thyme leaves and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.

Add the remaining olive oil and the chopped tomato pulp, and canned tomatoes, if using, then stir well to combine.

Cut a disc of greaseproof paper 1cm smaller than the diameter of your saucepan. Cover the surface of the tomato sauce with the greaseproof paper disc. This will prevent the sauce from drying out as it reduces and cooks. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook gently for at 40 minutes to an hour, until the sauce has thickened to your liking.

When the mixture has cooked and thickened, set aside.

For the stew, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a casserole over a medium heat. Add the fennel, carrots, red pepper, garlic, onion and dried chilli and fry, stirring regularly, for 5-6 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.

Add the red wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the tomato sauce and the smoked paprika and return the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit.

In a bowl, mix together the pork mince, crushed fennel seeds and ground cumin, using your hands. Mix well and then shape into ping-pong ball sized spheres. (I managed to make 16 meatballs from this recipe.)

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs, in batches, and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning regularly, until browned all over. Repeat until all the meatballs are browned.

Add the browned meatballs and the chopped chorizo to the tomato stew mixture. Stir well to combine and then continue to simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

Stir in the butter beans and heat through for a further 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately. I served this with wasabi mash and steamed spring greens.



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