Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Plough - Ivy Hatch, Kent

On the pretence that I was up for a spot of post xmas sales shopping @ Bluewater, I managed to negotiate a 10 mile detour south to the tiny hamlet of Ivy Hatch to sample the delights of The Plough. http://www.theploughivyhatch.co.uk/  How many times have you walked into a pub to be met by the stench of a wall of chip fat? Well this was like entering your grannies cottage, warm, cosy and the waft of home cooked food. Like many gastropubs, the decor was a combination of old and new but everything was very homely, especially the beautiful fireplace and with the staff being so friendly I actually considered moving in.

The menu changes daily, hence is seasonal, mainly British and is well priced. The braised pigs cheeks starter was enough for two with the rich meat offset nicely by the sweet parsnip puree. After what seems like a life sentence of eating meat over xmas, the filo pastry basket filled with wild mushrooms, roasted beetroot, ricotta and spinach was a wise move. However, if you're like me and love a game bird, the confit leg and pan fried breast of pheasant with bubble & squeak, root veg and red wine jus simply kept the festive season rocking on. There was no room for dessert which was a shame as the pub also has a special pancake menu with several savoury and sweet offerings every day. With a couple of drinks each, approx £22 per head seemed very reasonable and it was good to see the pub using beer from the local Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewing Company.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Spicy Parsnip Soup

I love making my own soups particularly as you can control the flavouring, texture etc and each recipe is so adaptable. With it being the festive season, I thought I'd tinker with this one to make it more indulgent. The result being a dish that was described as liquid velvet! (Not by AA Gill, but they were right nonetheless) The recipe is for four people. The true star of the show is the cardamon.

Ingredients :  4 parsnips, chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 25g butter, 1tsp olive oil, 1tsp each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamon pods, tsp turmeric, 100ml double cream, red chilli, coriander, seasoning, 750ml chicken stock

1. Dry fry the aromatics for about a minute until fragrant. Then grind in a pestle and mortar.
2. Peel parsnips. Using vegetable peeler, make 8 strips to be used as a garnish and set aside.
3. Cut parsnips into bite size pieces.
4. Fry onion and garlic in the butter over a medium heat. Once soft, add the parsnips and then the spices.
5. Coat the parsnips in the spices and then add the stock. Cover with lid and simmer until veg are soft.
6. Meanwhile, toss the parsnip strips in a little olive oil, season and roast in an over 200/gas mark 6 for about 10 minutes.
7. Pour the soup into a liquidiser and blend thoroughly. The soup should be of a custard like consistency.
8. Pour back into saucepan and warm gently. Finally add the cream and half of the finely chopped chilli and coriander and stir in.
9. To serve, pour soup into bowls. Sprinkle the remaining coriander and chilli around the outside and then place 2 of the parsnip crisps in the middle. Instead of a crusty roll, why not serve with warmed naan bread.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Chicken with Puy Lentil Dahl

Some people might regard this dish as a chicken curry, however I think that it's a little more sophisticated than that. I have to confess that I'm a thigh man as opposed to breast (with regards to cuts of chicken) and the succulent meat sits perfectly here with the rich dahl. It's a really good dinner party dish as it can be partly cooked in advance and finished off after the guests arrive. The recipe is for four people and costs around £2.25 per head.

Ingredients : 8 large chicken thighs, 4 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1tsp coriander seeds, finely chopped onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, tbs grated fresh ginger, finely chopped red chili, tbs turmeric, 300g puy lentils, 100g passata, 800ml chicken stock, 150g natural yoghurt, bunch of coriander, seasoning

1. Heat oven to 200 / gas mark 6.
2. Roast off the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan for about a minute. Then grind down in a pestle and mortar.
3. Season the  thighs well with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in pan and cook chicken skin side down for 5 minutes on a medium heat or until brown. Transfer to a roasting tray and set aside.
3. Drain off some of the oil and gently fry the onion and garlic. Once soft, add the garlic, ginger and chili.
4. Add the turmeric and the grounded seeds and coat the onion mix. Cook out the turmeric, then add the washed lentils, passata and stock. Bring to boil (at this point, put the chicken into the oven) and then simmer for about 15-20 mins until lentils are al dente. 5. Once the dahl is cooked, remove from heat and stir in the yoghurt and half the coriander.
6. I like to serve this on one big plate and let people help themselves. Place the dahl on centre of plate and then top with the chicken and a sprinkling of coriander and some finely chopped chili.

On reflection, this is good gastropub food, not the sort of dish that you have after 14 pints of lager on a friday night!

Monday, 19 December 2011

A weekend in Germany

A few thoughts on Germany. The people are very pleasant, everywhere is very clean, everything is very efficient and the food although fairly basic is very good. Oh, and the war finished 66 years ago in case any of you are still harbouring a grudge! This was about my 8th trip to Germany, the 2nd to include the famous xmas markets. The country offers great value and is full of amazing history, architecture, scenery and pork!

Anyway, this is a food blog not a travel journal so let's get down to what Hannover / Germany has to offer. Most of the dishes are meat orientated with pork dominant. There are no fancy sauces, jus or emulsions nor any timbales, paves or confits. What you get is good, solid home cooked food and plenty of it. A main course is usually enough to feed an army (don't mention the war). Pork is served a million different ways, so if you're a vegetarian, jewish, muslim etc, maybe try France! A couple of classics are Schnitzel, pork escalopes that fill the plate coated in breadcrumbs with various toppings and the knuckle of pork (see below) which makes Mike Tyson's fists look small.


The meat is never dry, exudes flavour and is usually served with the infamous sauerkraut but also delicious saute potatoes, fried with onions and bacon. Another winner is the suckling pig served in a dark beer sauce. For a real cosy meal in a typical German setting, check this place out.   http://www.broyhanhaus.de/broy_englisch/ Of course the beer is good too, I'm not a lager drinker by trade but the firewater here is pure, not full of fizzy chemicals and tastes great.

The other thing that the Germans love is kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake). The average bakery is strasses, sorry I mean streets above the English ones, everything is fresh and the choices are endless. The more salubrious places are full of style, mouthwatering gateaux and all sorts of coffees / hot chocolate drinks, invariably laced with alcohol. This little offering below is a gooseberry cake whereby the fruit is caramelized and sandwiched between a soft biscuit base and sponge and topped off with sweet meringue which perfectly offsets the sharpness of the berries.


Apart from the array of cafes and restaurants, the Xmas markets present an abundance of food stalls. Ok, it's not quite Borough Market but it's far from Romford Market too. The bratwurst (hot dog) which are almost a foot long are meaty and taste like how sausages should. The soups are thick and hearty and the hams/fish are smoked perfectly. To finish things off, there are waffles, crepes, gingerbread, fruit dipped in chocolate and barrels of gluhwein to wash it all down. So leave the diet at home, sample what a traditional Christmas feels like and give Germany a try one year.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Apple Tarte Tatin

One of my favourite all time desserts is the French classic Tarte Tatin. I love the story how it came about too. Apparently Stephanie Tatin, one half of the Tatin sisters who ran the Tatin hotel made a culinary faux pas one day in the kitchen when she burnt the caramelized apples in the pan. To literally cover up her mistake, she placed the pastry over the top and put the pie in the oven. After turning the dish over and presenting to her guests to much acclaim, a classic was born.

There are lots of variations about today whereby chefs add all sorts of booze, spices etc. I tend to lean towards the standard recipe, however the dish works very well with pears, apricots and I've even had an endive one served with duck in the excellent Foliage restaurant before Heston Blumenthal took over! One tip, buy a proper tarte tatin dish. You can get them online for about £12 and you cook the whole dish in it. I also use shop bought pastry (shock, horror) for convenience.

Ingredients - Sheet of puff pastry, 150g caster sugar, 25g butter, 6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and quartered, Cinnamon bark

1. Heat oven to 200 / gas mark 6.
2. Roll out pastry and using dish as a guide, cut out a circle that is slightly wider.
3. Put the sugar into the dish and heat gently. Do not stir. Once it has turned brown, remove from heat and stir in the butter and some finely grated cinnamon.
4. Carefully line the dish with the apple quarters, so that they interlock into a pattern.
5. Cover the apples with the pastry and tuck the edges down the side of the dish.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and brown.
7. Invert the tart onto a plate. Take care as the caramel will be very hot
8. Serve with either cream or vanilla ice cream

The smell and the taste is so evocative of France. It also exemplifies the fact that some of the best dishes are the simple ones. This recipe will serve 6 people, so works well for a dinner party. Bon appetit

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Afternoon Tea @ Palm Court, The Langham Hotel, London

Afternoon Tea is one of the few things that makes me proud to be British. We invented it and are still very good at it. The Palm Court is where it all began 140 years ago and thankfully the Scones are still fresh. If Michelin stars were awarded for such afternoon delicacies, this venue would have about 5 by now!!

The room is beautiful, however as I'm not Mr LLewelyn Bowen, I won't try and describe the furnishings, instead here's a pic.


The tea list was longer and more impressive than some restaurant's wine lists, they even have a tea sommelier! We opted for Earl Grey, Jasmine with Rose and Vanilla. All had very distinctive notes and just danced around your mouth.

The current offerings include a Christmas inspired selection of sandwiches and cakes as well the Stephen Webster designed bijoux tea which for an extra £7 is well worth sampling. Fillings such as foie gras and apple, duck egg mayonnaise with caviar and native lobster with piquillo peppers and flying fish roe were served up as well as some more traditional flavours. Here's the link to the site and menu anyway.  http://london.langhamhotels.co.uk/restaurants/palm_court.htm

The scones were still warm and were so light, I was forced to have two, accompanied by lashings of strawberry jam and clotted cream of course. Meanwhile, the tea flowed and the pianist alternated between Rachmaninoff and Jonah Lewie!!

The cakes were amazing and looked liked they had been created by Willy Wonka. Each one was a kaleidoscope of colour, texture and flavour. The jasmine mousse with apricot was divine and the roasted pistachio chantilly topped sponge cake just took things to an even higher level.




Such decadence comes at a price, about £50 a head. Some may think that obscene for a few sarnies and a bit of cake! This is about the whole experience though, the setting, the ambiance, the service and the amazing creativity and expertise of the pastry chef. You won't come out hungry and what you can't eat, the staff box up for you in a dainty little doggy bag.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Sausages with Lentils

As an alternative to the old classic Sausage and Mash, I often do a type of lentil dal. The dal is seasoned and spiced according to the type of sausages being used, although I do tend to use a spicy banger ie Cumberland, Toulouse, Merguez. The following recipe is very simple, very filling, very cheap and above all very tasty. This dish uses cumberland however if I were using merguez, I would probably add some chili, paprika and finish with a squeeze of lemon

Ingredients (for 2) : 6 sausages, onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 large carrot, 2 sticks of celery, 100g green lentils, chicken stock, thyme, olive oil, ex v olive oil

1. Dice the veg into equal size pieces. Rinse the lentils in a sieve.
2. On a medium to high heat, sweat the veg and the crushed garlic for 5 mins.
3. Add the lentils and thyme and stir.
4. Add the stock, stir and reduce to a medium heat. Cover pot and cook for 20 mins or until lentils are cooked but still retain a slight bite. Check seasoning and adjust where necessary.
5. Meanwhile, cook the sausages on a griddle pan
6. To serve, place a pile of the dal into the centre of a warm place. Arrange sausages on top and drizzle some ex virgin oil oil over the top.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

"May I join you for lunch?"

It wasn't my intention to use this blog to promote the business, but I thought that this little story was funny. On Thursday the CM had a job at a local training facility. It was just to provide lunch for fifteen officers, so we did baked ham, pasta with roasted veg, pomegranate salad (below), hotslaw (below), bread basket and a fruit basket. On laying up, I noticed the sumptuous fayre on offer in the adjacent room, obviously courtesy of the local council's catering arm. There was a lovely array of sandwiches, goujons, balls and anything else you can oven cook from frozen. All served on those lovely plastic trays. This made my food look like Michelin 3 star haute cuisine! Who says that you have to pay for advertising?


The feedback on the event was excellent with all of the food being mullered. Apparently one guy from next door smelt the CM food and asked if he could join the group for lunch as he wasn't impressed with what he'd paid for. Anyway he helped himself, took a business card so its CM 1 The Council 0 !!!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Is this what you call fusion cusine?

When an Indian invites you over for dinner, you immediately think of home made curries, dals, breads and the smell of Brick Lane. On arrival I must have immediately contracted my friend's husband's man flu as I couldn't smell anything even remotely spicy. Instead I was told that I would be taken on a gastronomic cruise along the Mediterranean, although in what direction I still haven't quite fathomed out.

Canapes were Piquante peppers stuffed with Feta, a pleasant South African / Greek combination and Italian Bread sticks! The presentation was akin to exhibits in the Tate Modern which we are also led to believe are priceless exhibits.

The main course and dessert were based on two recipes from Lorraine Pascal's excellent book. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Cooking-Made-Lorraine-Pascale/dp/0007275927/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

Cod baked with chorizo, tomatoes and lemon was something that the Moors would have been proud to eat. Everything is cooked together in the roasting tray which allows all of the aromatics to combine beautifully. Served with roasted herb potatoes and char grilled asparagus, this is a simple but tasty supper dish.

Dessert took us further East where we had poached pears in Sauternes with mascarpone, honey and toasted hazelnuts. If you can imagine the smell of Christmas with a touch of North Africa thrown in, this was it.

Whilst down that part of the med, some home made Turkish Mint tea was served up, a bit different to after dinner liqueurs but actually very refreshing on the palate. So overall, a very impressive meal despite the notable absence of any poppadoms!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Butternut squash ravioli with sage and pine nut butter

Like all foodies, you can never have enough gadgets in the kitchen. (Unless your Mr Blumenthal) So when a good friend bought me a pasta machine for my birthday I was chuffed. Today I thought that I'd test drive it and I'm happy to report that it passed with flying colours of green and orange. Ok, if you're Mr or Mrs Bizzy Whizzy, making you're own pasta may not be on the agenda, but if you have time and a machine give it a go. It's most satisfying and in the case of ravioli you can make your own filling rather that the shop bought ones that mainly taste of very little. I borrowed the recipe from Rachel Allen by the way. http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/629530

The ravioli taste ok on their own, but the sauce really lifts them and the rocket and pine nuts add a few dimensions to the textures too. I actually tinkered with the size of the ravioli as I quite like 4 or 5 large ones rather that lots of little ones. In order to enhance the flavour, next time I think I'll roast the squash off with garlic and sage as I do for a risotto and then mash into a pulp.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

An Essex day out

A couple of questions. How does a foodie get to stuff their face with delicious food and not look like Billy Bunter? How does a foodie achieve this in Essex? The answer is actually quite simple, take a trip up the A12 to Constable country, walk 7 miles and check out a quaint little tea shop in the beautiful village of Dedham and then have a late lunch in a much acclaimed gastropub in the remote outpost of Mistley.

This so called "Essex" image is confined to a very small cesspit full of chavs, spivs and divs. Trust me, the county has many stunning places to visit and produced one of the country's best ever artists in John Constable. Dedham is a picture postcard of a village as you can see.



Anyway, down to the important part. The chosen pit stop was the Essex Rose Tea House http://www.trooms.com/index_essex.html It's very homely inside and so are the cakes. The offerings are traditional but if you want to really indulge, ask for the hot chocolate with cream, flakes and a couple of can can girls! You actually get served a jug which makes about three mugs and should see even the most ardent of chocoholics through to tea time!

I'd be a liar if I said I've even heard of Mistley before today. It's actually a very interesting village, full of history, architecture and swans. The chosen pub, despite strolling in at 4.30pm were happy to provide a very late lunch from their set menu, £11.95 for 2 courses which in terms of value defies belief. http://www.mistleythorn.co.uk/  The celeriac soup with truffle oil was well balanced and the perfect way to tickle the autumnal taste buds. The pan fried gurnard with new potatoes and tapenade was well cooked and despite utilising only a few ingredients was incredibly moreish. The Pork in cider and mustard sauce unfortunately didn't live up to the rest of the dishes. The sauce was too sweet which in turn infiltrated the mash. The meat was succulent though and was all washed down with some excellent Adnams Bitter. The pub is basically a hotel/restaurant and has received rave reviews from many of the country's leading food critics. As a fan of the Essex/Suffolk border area, I may make a return next year to sample the dinner menu.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Homemade Burger and Chips

I admit, as a child I though McD's was the DB's. I can't remember however the last time that I bought one of those things that look like someone has trodden on, which they pass off as a burger. Nevertheless, I still love the flavour and texture of biting into one and see no reason why kids shouldn't do the same. Making you're own Burger and Chips is so easy and tastes so much better. For a family of four, the cost of the following comes to about £1.50 per person. Please try it and compare to the commercial offerings. I often make these for my kids group and everyone agrees that the homemade version is much better. Instead of normal potatoes I like to make sweet potato wedges which I feel taste and look better and being roasted in the oven are healthier than fries. This
recipe will make 4 Quarter pounders.

Ingredients

500g lean beef mince, beaten egg, 1 chopped onion, tomato ketchup, salt & pepper, optional - horseradish, stilton, burger baps, 2 large sweet potatoes cut into wedges, olive oil

1. Heat oven to 220 / gas mark 7.
2. Cut potatoes into thick wedges, longways, leaving skin on. Toss in olive oil and season. Lay on Baking sheet.
3. Combine mince, onion, egg, seasoning and a good dash of ketchup. This is the base mixture. You can experiment with all sorts of additional flavourings. I like horseradish or a cube of stilton that I wrap the mince around. You could also use chili, coriander etc.
4. Wet your hands to avoid sticking and mould into burgers. I like to chill them for around 20 minutes in the fridge.
5. Meanwhile put the wedges in the oven. They should take 30-40 minutes
6. Heat a griddle until hot and cook burgers for 2 or 3 minutes on either side

That's about it. It's so simple, I feel like I'm insulting people's intelligence, but I guarantee they taste better than anything bought from a shop.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Cock - Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire

The journey from London to the East Midlands via the M11/A14 is not one that I would compare to Highway 1 down the west coast of America or even The Amalfi Coast in Italy. Its flat, boring and full of juggernauts cutting you up every 5 seconds. Alas, today I discovered a quintessential little English village with a beautiful pub to note, which is well worth paying a visit and only a mile off of the main road.

The village is basically one long street with a few little roads darting off. Towards one end is the Great Ouse River where one can walk the toe path. There's a gorgeous view of the church from this corner and the surrounding countryside. Anyway, to the pub. Apart from a dog being a man's best friend, The Good Pub Guide runs a very close second. Rarely does it fail me and today was no exception. This is the hostelry...
http://www.thecockhemingford.co.uk/

There were 4 real ales on, all from local breweries.The Autumn Gold by Oldershaw Brewery packed a hoppy punch whilst the Great Oakley's Wagtail was a more floral and fruity blend. We opted for the set lunch menu, 2 course @ £12, 3 @ £16 which is extremely good value. The Lamb hot pot was proper autumnal fayre. Tender meat, intensely flavoured with stock and veg and served with greens. The Butter Bean and Truffle Risotto was perfectly cooked, whereby the truffles in no way overpowered the delicate beans. Similarly, the Grand Marnier in the Orange creme brulee enhanced the dish in a beautifully subtle way. The Marmalade glazed bread and butter pudding unfortunately didn't live up to the standards of the other dishes. A tad stodgy and lacking in flavour. Nevertheless, for £30 including a couple of pints, a very pleasant lunch.




Saturday, 19 November 2011

Sweet Potato & Salmon Fish Cakes

There are some dishes that appear on menus or that I see in supermarkets that despite my fondness for, never seem to satisfy me. Fishcakes is a prime example. Ive had wet ones, dry ones, ones where its debatable whether any fish actually went into its creation and ones where the texture has been more akin to baby food. With Lorraine Pascal currently capturing my culinary heart, I thought that I'd entrust her to provide dinner tonight. Unfortunately she couldn't make it, so I had to use one of her recipes instead from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Cooking-Made-Lorraine-Pascale/dp/0007275927/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321740260&sr=1-1. It's very easy, tastes great and has the right combination of textures what with the crisp and crunchy coating and the comforting filling. Basically you poach the salmon and sweet potato in some fish stock until tender. Drain and then mash with paprika, lime juice, chives, seasoning and a beaten egg. This is then rolled in egg and breadcrumbs and in my case baked in the oven. This can be served in a bap with a crunchy lettuce based salad for texture or just some leaves. To add some zing, I made a lemon, pepper and dill mayonnaise. For around £3 per person, this is a great little no nonsense comfort dish that knocks spots off of all of the shop bought fish cakes I have bought in the past.

A Vegetarian Extravaganza!

I decided that my Saturday kids group would become vegetarians for the day. I often give them at least one veggy dish or a funky salad, however today they're going to get their 'five a day' all in one hit. One of the problems getting kids to eat veg is that people present them in an unappetising way which means that they don't want to taste them. I therefore try to incorporate the green veg into something more inspiring, whilst retaining the healthy aspect and of course delivering on flavour and texture.

The first dish was the Lazy Pasta recipe as described earlier in the week. The vibrant colours of the roasted peppers and sun dried tomatoes hid the fact that I had put some rocket and spinach through it and this went in a flash.

I then made a roasted butternut squash soup courtesy of Lorraine Pascal's excellent recipe book. http://coconutmonkeycatering.blogspot.com/2011/11/whats-it-all-about-alfie.html Again the rich golden colour was appealing to the kids and the sweetness of the roasted squash maybe masked the fact that they were eating a veg not a fruit. It's hard to emphasise enough how much better than tinned soup a homemade version is.

Finally, I made a slightly more time consuming dish, but if anyone ever doubted how flavoursome vegetarian food can be, this will tantalise your taste buds no end. The book I 'borrowed' this one from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ottolenghi-Cookbook-Sami-Tamimi/dp/0091922348/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1321738646&sr=8-2 is amazing and calls it Chickpeas and Spinach with honeyed sweet potato. It's somewhere between a tagine and a curry but the flavours just seem to be more vibrant. You basically poach the potato in water and honey and then add to a fragrant tomato sauce infused with cumin and finished off with chickpeas and spinach. To cut through the richness and acidity of the tomato you also make a cheeky little yoghurt dip with garlic, mint and lemon. Again the kids loved it and in many cases tried things for the first but hopefully not the last time. Anyway, the good news is that 35 hungry mouths have been fed including a selection of fresh fruit and all for around £30!!! The bad news is that it's only 1pm and I've still got to cook dinner tonight.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Lazy but Tasty Pasta

There are some days even for me when I just can't be arsed to spend hours and hours in the kitchen, yet still refuse to eat junk. Hence tonight I will be having the easiest pasta dish in the universe. All you need is some linguine, rocket and a fresh pot of antipasti. I usually get a small pot from Tesco which is enough for two. I cram it full with globe artichokes, roasted red and yellow peppers, sun dried tomatoes etc. So, boil the pasta as per normal. Meanwhile chop any large pieces of veg, I like a combo of sizes. Whilst draining the pasta, place veg and all the lovely flavoured olive oil into a pan and warm gently. Return pasta to pan and mix. If sauce is a tad dry you can add a little more olive oil and a squeeze of tomato sauce. Finally, add rocket, toss and serve. There maybe an odd cheat or two here, but it still tastes miles better than some of the shop bought sauces. Cost for two, approx £2 per head.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic

I'm currently going through my Middle Eastern / North African phase. Having purchased both of Yotam Ottolenghi's books recently I find myself on a mission to tick off every recipe before Christmas. I love the simplicity of the recipes which still generate immense flavour and are largely fairly healthy. In his restaurant, one of the signature dishes is Broccoli. Not exactly something that normally carries a wow factor, but this recipe is inspired. To compliment the veg, I marinated some chicken thighs in a moroccan rub that a friend brought back from Marrakesh and served with some lemon and chili infused cous cous. For two people the cost was around a fiver.

Ingredients

400g broccoli, 60ml olive oil, 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced, red chilli thinly sliced, salt & pepper, thin slices of lemon.

1. Blanch the florets of broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl full of ice-cold water. Once cool, drain and pat dry with kitchen roll. Add to mixing bowl and toss in 20ml of the oil and the seasoning.
2. Heat a griddle pan for 5 mins until very hot. Cook the broccoli for approx 5 minutes until charred on each side.
3. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a small pan and add the garlic and chili. Cook until garlic starts to turn golden.
4. Pour the infused oil over the broccoli, toss and dress with very thin slices of lemon.
If this offering wets your appetite, check out the book
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0091922348/?tag=googhydr-21&hvadid=6605479865&ref=pd_sl_8agwl8gpra_b

Introduction

Let's just get one thing straight. I have been clinically diagnosed with Gastromania. No, I'm not on fifty Imodium a day and permanently wearing bicycle clips, I am merely obsessed with food. However, rather than seek a cure god forbid I have chosen to share my thoughts, recipes, restaurant reviews etc in the hope that I can find solace in other similarly infected Gastronauts out there. Please note that the recipes provided are my adaptations of the published ones.

Having a catering company, ooh time for a plug. http://www.thecoconutmonkey.co.uk/ ,cooking most days of the week and eating out the rest just isn't enough. I plan holidays around food, days out around food and if I have to go and buy a shirt or pair of jeans, it'll be near a restaurant, gastopub or market that I fancy checking out.