It was not a typical Monday, I had taken a random day off and headed off to Pollen Street Social for their set lunch menu (2 courses for £32), it was definitely worth it considering there were so many extra mini courses – in particular their Bakewell tart cake. I rounded the day off by visiting the London Tower Bridge which has a glass walkway, it’s surprising how being able to see the floor is so unnerving. At the same time, James headed into work all keen for the week ahead.
The night before we had prepare the bulgogi to marinade, this is ideal to maximise flavour.
450g beef, sliced thinly
½ cup of asian pear (puree)
¼ cup onion purée
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 chopped spring onion
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
a pinch of ground black pepper
1 tbs sesame oil
1 carrot (grated)
peppers (sliced and uncooked)
Put beef into the freezer for half an hour so that it is easier to cut finely.
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl (some will require blitzing in a food processor)
Add the sliced beef and mix well.
Keep in the fridge overnight.
Put rice into rice cooker
Prepare lettuce and peppers
Fry up, ideally we would bbq for the best flavour but this isn’t an option for us.
It was the eve of Halloween and James’ final day on call (meaning he can’t be more than 15 minutes away from a computer with internet access) so we decided to carve pumpkins and being one not to waste, use the flesh to make pumpkin soup.
The pumpkin carving was quite straight forward, James put a lot more effort into his into making it scary whilst I tried to make mine look friendly.
I sent James on an adventure to the Bake-haus and he purchased some of their delicious yoghurt bread although he only went and forgot to get a bloody stamp on the loyalty card. It made me a little sad but the tastiness of the bread quickly cheered me up.
Ingredients (serves 4)
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Onion – 1
Pumpkin flesh – 750g chopped
Vegetable stock – 550ml
Double creme – 100ml (although you can probably use creme fraiche instead)
Bacon lardons – 180g packet
Cumin and chilli powder to taste, potentially try nutmeg as well
Put olive oil into pot and add onions, cook for 5-10 mins on low heat until soft
Add half the bacon lardons to pot
Add pumpkin and cook for 5 mins
Add vegetable stock, cook with lid on for 10 mins
Add double creme
Add cumin and chill powder
Use a hand blender and puree the mixture
Pass through a sieve
Pour into bowls
Heat remaining half of lardons and top the soup with these
Today was a nice lazy day. The sun was shining for once and we decided to make some granola to top up our supplies. We find that a handful of fruit (raspberries for tomorrow but we will switch back to strawberries which are cheaper), a couple of dollops of yoghurt (we should use natural yoghurt but find it smells too sour so use Onken flavoured fruit stuff which I’m sure has too much sugar) and a scoop of the granola fills us both up until lunchtime with no snacking in between required.
Granola recipe (makes enough for over a weeks breakfast for two people)
3 cups – rolled oats
1 cup – puffed oats
1/4 cup – flax seeds
1/4 cup – sunflower seeds
1/4 cup – pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup – almonds
1/2 cup – walnuts
1/2 cup – brazil nuts
1/3 cup – olive oil
1/3 cup – honey
Heat oven to 150 °C
Add all dry ingredients into a large bowl
Then add the olive oil and honey, mix
Line 2 trays with parchment paper
Pour the mixture onto the trays
Bake for 35 minutes
It can be poured into a large tupperware container straight away to cool (it means it won’t stick to the parchment paper as it cools)
After the excitement of making granola, we decided to also take advantage of it being the weekend and therefore us having more time by making delicious char siu pork with pak choi. We even made enough for leftovers, James has already got a reputation for being a foodie and he has only been in his job for 2 weeks, I suspect when his colleagues see the char siu pork it will reconfirm their suspicions of his food snobbery.
Today was typically British in that it rained, the sun shone, it rained, more sunshine, you get the idea. It didn’t stop us from playing tennis outside though. We lost one of our tennis balls to a dog however we still all went home with the same number of balls that we started with.
James’ siblings are coming down tomorrow and we are cooking a roast to show off our kitchen skills. As this is an intense meal with multiple items being cooked at once and timing being key, we have decided to start doing as much prep the night before.
Ingredients (for 5 greedy people)
1 tsp plain flour
2 tsp mustard powder
olive oil (splash)
salt and pepper
250g-300g King Edward potatoes per person (can also use maris piper)
Salt and pepper
1 tsp plain flour
1 parsnip per person
1 carrot per person
Frozen peas (as many as required)
Devils on horseback
12 rashers streaky bacon
1 large tin prunes (410g in juice)
large knob of butter
3 tbsp plain flour
Yorkshire pudding batter (makes 12)
140g plain flour
sunflower oil for cooking
The night before
Draw up a gaant chart (likely to need to start at least 2.5 hours before serving on the day for 1kg beef)
Invite people 45 mins before serving food (an hour is too awkward)
Defrost meat (if frozen).
Prepare roast potatoes
Peel then quarter (cut in half and for the second half cut diagonally to increase surface area)
Put into large pot of cold water (we use one for pasta that has an in built collinder), wait until boiling water, then par boil for 5 minutes
Add salt, pepper and some plain flour (1 tsp)
Leave to dry in same pot overnight (we leave on the surface and don’t bother fridging)
Make yorkshire pudding batter.
Put flour into a bowl
Beat in eggs until smooth.
Gradually add milk and carry on beating until the mix is completely lump-free
Season with salt and pepper
Pour the batter into a jug and store in fridge overnight
Today was the end of a 4 day Easter weekend. The weather was rainy and we wanted something delicious to cheer us up. More importantly, I wanted leftovers to take into work the next day. We defrosted a piece of pork loin we previously purchased (with a yellow sticker i.e. reduced). James figured that by having me present when cooking, it would make the char siu pork more authentic. This recipe is relatively easy and the taste pay off to effort is high.
Ingredients (4 portions)
500 g tenderloin pork
1 tbsp brown sugar
0.5 tsp five spice powder
0.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp rice wine (we used cooking sake as we didn’t have this to hand)
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oil
0.5 tsp sesame oil
0.5 tsp worcester sauce
1.5 tbsp hoi sin sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp honey
few drops red food colouring
Put the all ingredients except pork in a saucepan and bring to simmer for a minute, set aside and let it cool.
Place the pork and marinade in a tupperware and place in the fridge a few hours, preferably overnight.
Take the pork out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with foil and place a rack on top (rack is recommended but not critical).
Remove pork from the marinade (save the marinade for basting).
Place the pork on the rack and tuck the thin end of the the tenderloin underneath so the whole piece is roughly the same thickness.
Roast for 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 – 160F/ 65 – 70C. Around halfway through roasting, baste with the marinade.
When the pork is cooked, baste it by pouring on the marinade and use a blow torch to get a charred and caramelised effect. Do this on side of the pork quite a few times then turn around and do on the other side.
Another weekend, another lazy day. It started off well as James decided to make crepes for breakfast although we didn’t have any lemon juice so it was plain sugar crepes for me. Later on, we got to enjoy some matcha with a nice sweet from Minato Kitchen that we had brought the previous day, these sweets are small for £1.50 however they taste amazing and the fruit flavour doesn’t taste artificial at all.
To continue the food trend, we decided to make meatballs as we have none left in the freezer. We took a trip to Tesco’s and were ready to make a big batch.
Ingredients (makes 60 small meatballs)
3 small onions
6-8 cloves garlic (we like it very garlicky)
Bottle of red wine (essential and even we don’t cheap out on this)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
Beef stock (2 cubes)
Basil (a few generous teaspoons)
Oregano (also a few generous teaspoons)
Carrots (5-6 sticks, grated)
3 tbsp fine white breadcrumbs
Milk (enough to fully soak breadcrumbs)
Garlic (a few cloves)
500 g minced beef (15% fat)
500 g minced pork (5% fat)
Garlic powder (1 tsp)
Onion powder (1 tsp)
Paprika (1 tbsp)
Parsley (a few generous teaspoons)
Parmesan (to taste)
Flour, to dust
Put breadcrumbs into a bowl, pour just enough milk to cover and leave to soak.
To make the tomato sauce, heat oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and chilli until soft.
Splosh in a fair amount of the wine, then add all the tomatoes along with the basil, oregano, carrots and some seasoning. Let the sauce simmer to reduce and thicken and then add beef stock.
While the tomato sauce is cooking, prepare the meatballs. Put the minced beef and pork into a large bowl and add the garlic, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and parmesan. Squeeze the breadcrumbs to remove excess milk, then add to the bowl. Mix well, using your hands, and season with salt and pepper. (Don’t scrunch it up too much or you will lose the texture and the meatballs will be too dense.)
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Shape the mixture into balls, the size of a thumb (James’ thumb), and dust in flour. Use the first one as a standard measure (i.e. make sure all others are vaguely the same size as it).
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. When hot, fry the meatballs, in batches, until golden.
Deglaze using the remaining wine.
Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce . Bake in the oven for an hour or so.