You might be making this for one, as I did, but you may as well make enough of the lentils for four servings and refrigerate or freeze what you don't use immediately.I fell in love with Jules & Sharpie's Hot Pepper Jelly
a while back, but recently bought a jar of the equally delicious Chilli Yellow Pepper Jelly from Stokes
and it was the latter I used here. If you're using another make of jelly, add just one tablespoon at first then more as needed - yours might be hotter.
for the lentils (makes 4 servings):
200g puy lentils
½ onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 small stick celery, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 chorizo sausage (approx. 60g), skin removed, diced
100ml red wine
2 tbsps hot pepper jelly (see note above)
juice of half a lemon
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
for the trout:
1 trout fillet
salt + black pepper
a splash of olive oil
a handful of tiny croutons
Put the lentils in a pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain.
You can make the croutons while the lentils are simmering: coat a handful of diced bread with oil in a small roasting tray and place in a 200C/180C fan oven for about 5 minutes.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the onion, carrot and celery. Fry until softened, turn up the heat and add the garlic and chorizo. Fry, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it bubble away until reduced to a few spoonfuls. Add the hot pepper jelly and let it melt. Add the lentils and lemon juice and season with salt. Stir in the parsley, drizzle with more olive oil and set aside.
Heat a frying pan to fairly high. Add a good splash of oil and place the fish skin-side down, holding it down with a spatula so it doesn't arch up as the skin shrinks. Turn the fillet over after about 4 minutes and fry for one minute. Squeeze over the juice from the other lemon half and serve with a dollop of the lentils and a scattering of croutons.
Heap high the groaning platter with pink fillets, suckling pig and thick gammon, celestial chef. Be generous with the crackling. Let your hand slip with the gravy trough, dispensing plenty. - George Mann MacBeth
Gravy: surely one of the most memory-laden words in the English language; the nectar of the North. If someone says to you 'would you like sauce with that?' you'll answer 'what kind of sauce?'. But if someone asks ''would you like gravy with that' the only sane retort is 'too right, sunshine. Hi ye hence with a jug of said meaty essences forthwith.'.
Absent the sticky reductions of veal stock available to the professional chef, I'd guess most of us make gravy at home only when we've done a Sunday roast, availing ourselves of the juices and sticky bits in the roasting tray.
I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage. - Erma Bombeck
But what about during the week? What about if you're on your tod and can't be arsed making a roast? Well, here's a quick and delicious gravy for just such an occasion. For this particular one, I've used apple juice, because that's what was in the fridge, and also because I was serving it with a pork chop. But you can just as well use red or white wine, or cider. You could use madeira or marsala, but then I'd leave out the redcurrant jelly.
The only stock I tend make at home is chicken - great for soups, stews, risottos etc., but no good here. So I buy one of those vac-pacs of beef stock from the supermarket (£1.40 for 500 ml), use 125ml, and freeze the other three portions for later use.
a slice of butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
60 ml apple juice
125 ml beef stock
1 heaped tsp of dijon mustard
½ tsp redcurrant jelly
a handful of roughly torn up savoy cabbage leaves
a slice of butter
1 x pork chop, rind removed, at room temperature
½ dessert apple
salt + black pepper
In a small pan, melt a slice of butter over a low heat and gently fry the chopped shallot until it's a deep golden colour. Add the apple juice, stock, mustard and redcurrant jelly. Turn up the heat and boil until reduced by roughly a half. Strain into a bowl or jug and season with pepper; depending on the stock you're using, it may not need any salt.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and throw in the cabbage. Cook for a few minutes until softened. Rinse in cold water, drain dry and roughly chop.
Peel the apple half and slice into segments. Then griddle, or fry in a pan with a little butter, until caramelised.
All the above can, of course, be done well in advance.
When you're ready to eat, season the pork chop. Heat a frying pan to fairly high and add a splash of oil. Hold the chop fat side down in the oil for a minute or two, just to colour. Now fry for approximately 4-5 minutes each side.
While the chop is cooking, heat a pan and melt a slice of butter in it. Add the chopped cabbage, season and stir until heated through. Re-heat the gravy (I put the jug in the microwave on high for 1 minute).
Arrange the chop, cabbage and apple on a plate and serve with the jug of gravy on the side.
Before we start, a vast, unending, tear-soaked avalanche of gratitude to all those of you kind enough to have voted this site as the Best Food Blog in this year's Observer Food Monthly Awards. I'm not going to even try
to pretend I'm cool about this. I am absolutely thrilled and astounded. You can all take yesterday off. Now back to the food:This was an immensely satisfying and comforting plateful
and just about exactly what I'm looking for in a home-cooked meal: a few ingredients, a simple recipe and outstanding taste.The great Marcella Hazan passed away last month, sad to say, aged 89. When I heard the news, I immediately reached for my battered copy of The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
(one of my all-time favourite cookbooks) and I've been dipping into it most evenings since. Her influence cannot be overestimated. To quote The Telegraph's obituary: 'Chain smoking, impatient and famously brusque, she introduced recipes that were traditional, tasty and ruthlessly pared-down: her famous tomato sauce contained only a tin of peeled plum tomatoes, five tablespoons of unsalted butter, one small white onion and salt'
. Ah yes, that
sauce. Have you ever made it? If not, it's all over the internet, but here's her son Giuliano's description
. Make it as soon as you possibly can.Actually, quoting from The Telegraph's obituary column has reminded me of another of my favourite books, their Book of Obituaries: A Celebration of Eccentric Lives.
A glorious read. Here's a sample:'Denisa Lady Newborough, who has died aged 79, was many things: wire-walker, nightclub girl, nude dancer, airpilot. She only refused to be two things - a whore and a spy - "and there were attempts to make me both", she once wrote.
She was also a milliner, a perfumier and an antiques dealer; but her real metier, in early life at least, was what she called "profitable romance". Her opinions on the subject of presents from gentlemen would have done credit to the pen of Anita Loos: "I have never believed that jewels, any more than motor cars, can be called vulgar just because they are gigantic".
Anyway, there's a recipe in Essentials for Braised Leeks with Parmesan, made with, again, just five ingredients: leeks, butter, salt, parmesan and water. I've used chicken stock and added parsley. And serrano. And an egg.A stock cube won't do here; as you're reducing the stock to nothing, the end product would be overwhelmingly salty
approx 275g leeks (after trimming and discarding of tough outer leaves))
25g butter, cubed
250ml home-made chicken stock
2 tbsps grated parmesan
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 slices of serrano or prosciutto (approx. 50g)
1 fresh egg
salt + black pepper
Bring a pan of water to barely simmering and have a bowl of ice cold water ready. Crack the egg into a small cup or ramekin. Whisk the water into a whirlpool effect and carefully lower the egg into the centre. When set, after about 2-3 minutes, lift out the egg and slide into the bowl of icy water. Cut the leeks in half lengthways and wash under running water, and then cut them widthways into approximately 120mm pieces. Put them into a pan in which they'll all fit snugly in a single layer.
Dot the cubes of butter over and pour in the chicken stock. Add a pinch of salt and grind in some black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat a bit, cover and cook for about ten minutes, turning a couple of times. Remove the cover and turn the heat up to full.
Let the stock bubble way to nothing, stirring the leeks a few times. This might take another ten minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up a pan of water (for re-heating the egg) and grill the serrano slices.
When the leeks are just starting to stick to the base of the pan, remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and parsley. Put the egg into the pan of simmering water to re-heat.
Spoon the leeks onto a dinner plate and arrange the serrano on top. Remove the egg from the pan of water, drain, and place on top of the serrano.
Smoked salmon, for obvious reasons, isn't something that tends to find its way onto my weekly shopping list. Smoked salmon trimmings, however, well that's a different story. They're ideal for a Sunday breakfast with scrambled eggs or for a mid-week sandwich. I also like to stir them into a simple salad of new potatoes, spring onions, parsley and mayonnaise.
Not too long ago I could buy 120g of own-brand stuff for 90p from Morrison's. They don't seem to stock that anymore; instead they're selling 'posh cuts' from the Harbour Salmon Co at (I think) £1.49 for 90g. Still, you can get a 120g packet from Tesco for £1.50. Which works out at £5 a kilo cheaper than their cheapest packet of slices. So the 30g of trimmings in the pasta recipe below costs only 37.5p.
Anyway, here's five suggestions for meals to make with the trimmings:
Oh, the wonderful world of ready-made puff pastry. Buy a 500g block, cut it into six pieces*, and freeze them. They take no time at all to defrost and are perfect as the basis for a simple mid-week dinner. Roll a piece out to your desired thickness and make the shape you require - a rectangle, square or round. Add your chosen toppings, bung in the oven for 20 minutes or so and serve with a crisp, green salad and maybe some sautéed potatoes or a hunk of good bread. There's already a few ideas in the recipe section:* Unwrap the pastry block and divide in half lengthways. Cut each half into three equal-sized pieces. Wrap each piece in cling-film and freeze.
And here's a recipe for a mushroom tart I made last night:
You know what the filling for these tiny, pop-in-your-mouth delights - a simple mixture of mascarpone, condensed milk and vanilla - tasted like to me? The Mr Whippy ice creams of my childhood summers. But without all the thickeners, stabilisers, emulsifiers, and E numbers.
You can buy ready-made sweet shortcrust pastry (Jus-Roll for example), but I've never seen it in any of my local supermarkets.
You'll need a non-stick mini-muffin tray like this one
I imagine the manager of our local Lidl, when the early morning delivery arrives, as a kind of Alan Arkin-like figure, just this side of hysteria, gobbling Diazepams like they're Smarties, as the truck door opens to reveal a bewildering mix of moose steaks, scuba gear, whole lobsters, car batteries, sauerkraut and bicycle repair kits. What the fuck have those nutters sent me this time?!?!
Because, as I'm sure you all know, Lidl is bat-shit crazy.
I was in there the other week, buying a wedge of 24 month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano for £14.45/kg (which is a few quid cheaper than I can find elsewhere) and, while there, also picked up a kilo bag of frozen Alaskan pollock for £3.99. Which equalled (at least in the bag I bought) eleven fillets. Pollock is what the recipe term 'or use any firm white-fleshed fish' was invented for, a great substitute for cod. I bought it, initially, to use in this stew
; but it makes for an excellent fish cake - especially if you poach it with a few aromatics. I've used bay, peppercorns, parsley stalks and vinegar here, but use whatever is handy.
The other night I made a dill and mustard sauce to go with this, because I can get a bunch of dill from Khan's for 69p. Tonight, though, I'm nestling the fish cakes in a bowl of this lentil stew
Support your local butchers. For the sake of the community, and your taste buds too. - Tom Parker Bowles
We need to cherish the excellent traditional butchers who have kept going valiantly in the teeth of the supermarket takeover of our food chain. As the Meat Crusade puts it, if one in 10 of us returned to our local butcher that would be make a real difference. And if one in five of us did so, even once a week, it could start a revolution. - Joanna Blythman
How do you measure the well-being of your local area? Certainly not by economic factors alone: my manor, Peckham, may have high levels of poverty and unemployment but by God it is gloriously, vibrantly alive
. After 6pm, when many other high streets across the land have shut up shop, the Rye Lane area south of the train station is abuzz. Because of the fantastic variety of shops - and not only those selling food. If the number of nail salons per capita were an indicator (and I'm not sure it shouldn't be) we'd be top of the wellbeing league table.
Do you know of the Five Ways to Well-being
project? It identified these simple activities that individuals can do in their everyday lives to improve and maintain their well-being: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
And one of the most important ways we can connect with our community, thinks I, is by using and supporting our local, independent shops. However convenient supermarkets may be, you can't connect with the soulless buggers.So more power to John Penny, the wholesale butchers, and their Meat Crusade
- a campaign to champion local butchers across Britain. Put simply: use them or lose them, people.And, for when you do, below are ten recipes utilising some of the cheaper cuts of meat.
There are those who think that one tin of tomatoes is much like any other and that there's no need, therefore, to pay any more than the 31p or so that you'll get a can for in a supermarket's budget range. I am not one of those people. There's a difference between something being expensive and something being value for money. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the humble tin of tomatoes. And especially so when you can get a tin of D.O.P. certified Pomodoro S. Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino
beauties from Tesco for 50p a shot.
I love it when this happens: it's the end of the week; dinner's sorted but you haven't got a scooby what to make for lunch and can't be arsed (or don't have the dosh) to make a trip to the shops. But a quick sort-out of the fridge reveals a bowl of leftover buttery mash, a bit of ham (not enough to make a sandwich), a plastic pot with three olives in it, a tiny piece of pecorino and two spring onions and a handful of mixed leaves in the salad drawer. The result? A surprisingly delicious plate of food.