Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mayonnaise - the tipping point

My early attempts at mayonnaise never failed. Then a few batches went wrong: I had got complacent. I had to relearn the tyro’s caution. One must add the oil very carefully at first, just a few drops at a time, and whisk vigorously to amalgamate it, before adding the next.

Pouring 150mls (1 egg) or 300mls (2 eggs) of oil at this rate would be very tedious. You do not have to. There comes a point at which you can be much more liberal. It is when the sauce stiffens: you can feel this process, and see it, because the sauce starts clinging to the whisk. Now, you can pour in generous glugs of oil before each whisking, and you are very unlikely to split the mixture.


Mayonnaise recipe
Split mayonnaise, and what to do with it

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pork stew with vinegar

This stew could not be simpler. The meat and onions caramelise in the pan (because they’re not submerged in liquid), and the vinegar loses some of its astringency through evaporation.

The only issue is the oven temperature, which depends on how long you’ve got, how heavy your casserole is (they can take a good while to warm up), and how warm your oven is (your gas mark S may be very different from mine).

You could stir in black olives at the end. You might also want to include herbs such as thyme or rosemary.

Serves 2

2 or 3 slices of belly pork, cut into fork-sized pieces
2 red onions, roughly chopped
6 whole cloves of garlic
150ml vinegar
Salt, pepper


Mix all the ingredients in a heavy casserole, with seasoning to taste.

I cooked my stew for 30 minutes at gas mark 6/200C, stirred it, gave it a further 30 minutes at gas mark 4/180C, stirred it again, and gave it a further 60 minutes at gas mark S/130C.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Chickpea dip with olives

Returning home with a tin of chickpeas and a lemon, and with the intention of making hummus, I discovered that I didn’t have any tahini in the house. But I did have some black olives. So I tried this. It turned out to be delicious.

1 tin chickpeas
Juice of half a lemon
Large handful of black olives, stoned
1 clove garlic, chopped
Black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
A little salt
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Put all the ingredients except the oil into the bowl of a food processor, and whizz. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each burst of the machine.

Stir through the olive oil. (It loses its fruitiness if subjected to the harsh treatment of the blades.)

Monday, June 09, 2014

Lamb boulangere 2

I see that my technique for cooking lamb boulangère has not changed very much since I last wrote about it, seven years ago. The chief difference is that yesterday I covered the roasting tin with foil, having learned that the lowest temperature of my oven – 130C-plus – is higher than the temperature inside a covered receptacle.

I smeared a little oil over a whole shoulder of lamb, seasoned it, and laid it on a bed of two sliced onions, the unpeeled cloves from a head of garlic, and two sprigs of rosemary. I covered the roasting tin with foil, and put it into the centre of a gas mark 1/140C oven, at 8am. (It’s a good idea to check on progress after the first hour, and regularly thereafter, adjusting the heat if necessary. I can never be confident about how my oven will behave.)

At 11am, I scraped and sliced new potatoes, dropping them into a pan of cold water. I brought the pan to the boil, and allowed it to boil vigorously for one minute before draining. (The idea is to get rid of some of the surface starch – potatoes cooked around meat are particularly liable to stick, because of the caramelised juices.)

By this time, there was a good amount of sauce surrounding the lamb. I removed the meat to a board, discarded the onions, squeezed the garlic out of its skins into the sauce, tipped in the potatoes and stirred them, and put back the meat on top.

I returned the tin, covered again, to the oven, turning up the dial to gas mark 4/180C. (I checked after half an hour, and discovered that this setting was high enough but not too fierce. The extra ingredients appeared to have moderated the temperature.)

At 1.30pm, I removed the joint to a large plate, covering it with the foil. I returned the potatoes to the top of the oven, now at its highest setting, to brown – about 20 minutes. (Be careful that they do not stick and burn.)

The meat fell away from the bone. I cut it up in the kitchen, and poured the small amount of sauce that the potatoes had not absorbed on top.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fried chicken with paprika and cayenne


If you use egg as the adhesive when frying chicken, the coating may become claggy. A good many recipes recommend buttermilk; but, having no further use for buttermilk, I would have to throw a good deal of it away. So I tried an egg and milk mixture, which worked well. Gluten-free flour works well, too – it’s less stodgy than wheat flour.

I like chicken to be well cooked, so I poach the drumsticks first. You can keep the stock for another recipe.

Season the flour liberally. The amount of flour that will end up as coating is quite small.

Serves 2.

6 chicken drumsticks
1 egg, beaten
100ml milk
Gluten-free flour
1tbsp paprika
1/2tsp cayenne pepper
Salt, pepper
Sunflower oil


Cover the drumsticks with water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 45-60 minutes. Take out the drumsticks and keep the stock for another recipe.

In a wide bowl, beat the egg with the milk.

Cover a plate with flour, and season it with the peppers and salt.

Dip the drumsticks in the egg mixture, and roll them in the flour.

Put sunflower oil into a heavy, 28cm frying pan to a depth of about half a cm. Place the pan over a medium heat, until a small piece of bread sizzles in the oil. Fry the drumsticks until crispy on each side – about 10 to 15 minutes.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Falafels - der Haroutunian 2

I wrote an entry about this recipe, and then realised that I had covered it before, six years ago (here).

The main difference, when I made falafels this lunchtime, was that I used der Haroutunian’s quantities with 1 drained tin of chickpeas. I whizzed in the food processor all the ingredients except 1tbsp of gluten-free flour – which I used as a binding agent instead of breadcrumbs, because of the gluten-intolerant member of our household. I transferred the mixture to a bowl, and then stirred in the flour.

I rolled small pieces of the mixture gently between my palms to create falafels the size of golf balls. (The drawback of turmeric among ingredients you have to manipulate is that it stains – be careful.)

This time, I used a heavy, 28cm frying pan, large enough to fry all the falafels in one batch.


The recipe comes from Arto der Haroutunian's Vegetarian Dishes of the Middle East (Grub Street).

Monday, April 28, 2014

Stewed cannellini beans with lemon and garlic

I got the idea of using lemon zest from Nigel Slater, I think. The zest enlivens the bland, mealy quality of the beans, as do the garlic and the pepper.

For more about cooking dried beans, see here.

Serves 2, as a generous side portion.

150g cannellini beans
3 garlic cloves, 1 of them peeled and chopped
2tbsp olive oil
1dstsp tomato puree or tomato ketchup
1/3tsp lemon zest
Salt, pepper


Soak the beans in filtered water. They may take about eight hours to hydrate (see the entry to which I’ve linked above).

Drain them, cover with fresh filtered water, throw in the whole and unpeeled garlic cloves, bring to the boil, and simmer. Cooking times vary wildly, in my experience: from 1 to 3 hours, in part depending on how thoroughly the beans have been soaked.

Drain the beans, but retain the water in a jug. Extract the garlic, and remove the flesh from the skins.

Warm the oil in a small saucepan, and add both the cooked and uncooked garlic, stirring the cooked flesh to encourage it to melt. After a minute or so, tip the beans into the pan.

Pour the bean water into another jug until you have just the sludgy stuff at the bottom. Pour enough of this into the beans to create a moist but not runny texture. Add the tomato (ketchup is fine, and may even be nicer), lemon zest, salt to taste, and plenty of pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.