Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Squid with pangrattato

This recipe is amazing. I can't really imagine getting more out of a squid. This gives all the savoury, oily comfort that deep fried calimari gives, but in a more interesting and slightly lighter dish. Its from Jamie's Italy. I've always had problems with this man but hot damn, I'm starting to come round.

The garlic, not being peeled, doesn't burn but can still be heated to a high temperature. The result is that the breadcrumbs pick up a great garlic flavour and a good piquancy from the chilli. The chilli's wholeness prevents it from frying as normal so you get a touch of roasted pepper coming through. Need I say more?


350g per person of baby squid
half a lemon

The pangrattato will serve about 4. Do the maths if you need more. For the pangrattato:

2 slices of bread crumbed in a food processor
6 cloves of garlic in the skin, squished a bit under a knife
2 large red chillis whole but pricked all over with a fork
a big handful of chopped parsley
olive oil, salt, pepper


Leave your squid whole but put them on some kitchen roll to drain the water. If possible, leave like this for an hour or so as you want to remove as much water as possible. If not, the squid will not colour and you'll miss out on the browned bit of squid. We wouldn't want that to happen would we?

Get a thick-based frying pan and warm a good (and I mean good) glug of oil (good I said) and add the chilli, garlic and breadcrumbs. Fry on a hot hob until the breadcrumbs start to toast. Season well and set aside. This will probably take 10-15 minutes so in the meantime, chop the parsley while you're salivating over the smell of bread and garlic cooking simultaneously.

You must be hungry by now. Once the pangrattato is done, remove it from the heat and stir in the parsley so that it gets a chance to wilt. Reheat the pan (medium-hot) with a small splash of oil and fry the squid and lemon together. The squid may release water. If so, keep draining it so that the pan is almost dry. This should allow some colour on the squid and lemon. If the pan is small, do this in batches - a full pan will inevitably stop the contents from colouring. You don't need to fry these for long. Get the pan hot and keep it dryish and it should be 6-8 minutes per batch to get a bit of colour. If the pan gets too dry, add more oil. Oil is fine but water is the enemy at this point.

Once the squid is done, put on plates and sprinkle pangrattato generously over it. Serve on hot plates with a light salad in side bowls. I like to combine them, but there are salad devotees who get upset by this so best to leave a choice.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Penne Con Sugo di Salsiccie


2 tablespoons olive oil
8 italian spiced fresh pork sausages meat removed from skins and crumbled
2 small red onions peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
2 smaii dried chillies crumbled
2 bay leaves
1/3 bottle red wine (preferably Chianti or Sangiovese)
1 x800g tin peeled plum tomatoes drained
1/2 nutmeg freshly grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
120g parmesan freshly grated
150ml double cream
250g penne rigate


Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the sausage meat stirring and breaking up the pieces. After the juice from the meat has evaporated and the fat begins to run add the onion, garlic, chill and bay leaves. Cook gently for almost 30 minutes until the onions are brown. Add the wine increase the heat and cook until the wine evaporates.

Now add the tomatoes lower the heat and simmer gently until you have a thick sauce about 45-60 minutes will do but 2 hours, with the occasional dribble of water will make for a richer creation. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper (add plenty of pepper if the sausages were not spicy) and add the parmesan and cream.

Cook the penne in a generous amount of boiling salted water then drain well. Add the penne to the sauce combine and serve.

Taken from the River Cafe Cookbook - Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Stuffed Lambs Hearts

I had never eaten heart until last night. Well, lets face it, I probably put away a good few in my student days in the guise of Iceland sausages, but I have never set out to eat heart. At a cooking demonstration I once heard Ray Smith wax lyrical about lamb's heart for a good 20 minutes. He spoke of it as if it were white truffle or beluga roe and ended the discussion by wrapping up said heart in a bag and presenting it to his favourite member of the audience. Enough.

6 lambs hearts (as un-butchered as possible)
18 rashers streaky bacon
1 litre good chicken stock

For the stuffing:
Duck fat or butter
4 red onions peeled and finely chopped
4 bulbs of garlic (I used only 2)
2 glasses of red wine
225g stale white bread
a couple of good sprigs of sage (leaves only, chopped)


First make the stuffing. In a pan with duck fat or butter cook your onions and garlic gently so that they do not colour but become soft and giving. Add the wine, let this reduce by half, then add the bread, season, and cook together gently for 15 minutes: if it appears too dry add a splash more wine. Cool then add the sage.

Meanwhile trim the hearts of any excess fat nodules at their openings and any obvious sinews, and the flap at the top. Finally, with your finger, scoop out any blood clots at the base of the ventricles. You are ready to stuff.

With your hand, press the stuffing into the heart, and level off the opening at the top. Then drape 3 rashers of bacon over the exposed stuffing in a star fashion forming a lid and secure with string.

Find an oven dish or deep roasting tray in which the hearts will fit snugly; stand them upright. Pour stock over - they do not need to be completely covered. Cover with tinfoil and place in a medium oven for 2.5 hours. When cooked remove and keep warm. Strain the juice and then reduce by half for a delicious sauce. Untie and serve with mashed swede.

Taken from Nose To Tail Eating - Fergus Henderson

Piedmontese Peppers

I nearly had an accident when Jean was describing this one to me. I think Delia did it originally but it may have been altered since then as I received it in a frantic email. You can't really believe the amount of juice that will come out of these puppies. You end up with half a delicately balanced pepper almost full with sweet, sugary juice. I served it as a starter, thinking we'd have half each, but we couldn't stop there and had 2 halves each.

4 large red peppers (green are not suitable) - 1 per person
4 plum tomatoes
8 tinned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic
8 dessertspoons Italian extra virgin olive oil
freshly milled black pepper

To serve:
small bunch fresh basil leaves

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350?F (180?C).

For this it is essential to use a good, solid, shallow roasting tray, 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm). If the sides are too deep, the roasted vegetables won't get those lovely, nutty, toasted edges.

Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (they're not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape). Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place two quarters in each pepper half.

After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them thinly and divide the slices equally among the tomatoes and anchovies. Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of olive oil into each pepper, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a few scattered basil leaves. These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are sublime - focaccia would be perfect.

Taken from Delia Smith's Summer Collection

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Beef Hash

Yes yes. I had beef last night and since myself and Fanoo Flipper couldn't eat 2kg (it was close), I had the pleasure of a beef hash. Mmmmm, worth doing extra for.


Quantities are hard to specify here as you are unlikely to have the same amount of leftovers as I had. I think 500g of leftover meat will feed 3-4.

Leftover beef - shredded
Some pre-boiled potatoes - chopped
An onion or two
Plum tomatoes
Sprig of thyme
Salt & pepper


Soften the onions in olive oil and set them aside. Now get the pan really hot, add a bit more oil and fry the beef, potatoes and thyme together seasoning them as you go. When they have developed a good colour, add back in the onions, some chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat until the tomatoes reduce down to moisten the meat and potatoes.

Serve topped with 2 poached eggs per person. Fergus' recipe says fried eggs but since this is already a full blown fry-up, and buy the egg point I've probably got through 200ml of olive oil, I think poached add a welcome bit of lightness.

This dinner will restore any broken mind or body.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Pot Roast Rib Roast Of Beef

Serves 6 to 8, depending on side dishes


2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 onions, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
2 whole heads of garlic, skin on (I peeled them, slap my wrist)
Bundle of fresh herbs (I used flat leaf parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary
10 black peppercorns
2kg piece of beef brisket or rib roast - as it comes off the animal, unboned, unrolled
1 litre unsalted chicken stock
2 glasses red wine


This is seriously low maintenance. Add the veg, herbs and everything but the meat, wine and stock to a high sided roasting dish or pot in which the meat fits fairly snuggly. I used a Creuset casserole. Make a nice flavoursome bed for the beef then nessle her in there free from the base and sides of the dish/tray. Add the wine and stock. It should come about four fifths of the way up the side of the joint.

Cover and cook in a medium/low oven for three hours. It should be simmering, so check it throughout to check there's no raging boil happening.

Serve with a ladlefull of juice. Thicken it if you like or serve with mash to soak it up. The remaining juice can be strained to make a great soup base. As there's a sealing layer of fat on it, it also keeps well in the fridge. I chucked in some watercress and something else that escapes me now and it was a great Sunday night restorative soup.

Adapted from Nose To Tail Eating - Fergus Henderson

Monday, 1 January 2007

Slow Cooked Beef Shin

I cooked this for 30 friends on New Years Eve. I had huge marrow bones for the stock which cooked for a day or so before the casserole was started. The casserole cooked for about 8 hours in a very low oven. I've adaped the recipe here for a kilo of beef. It's probably more use that way.

Feeds 5 hungry folk


1kg beef in large chunks (I use shin)
2 tablespoons seasoned plain flour
2 sticks celery
2 large carrots
1 litre good beef stock
1/2 bottle wine
olive oil to fry
2 bay leaves
tablespoon chopped thyme


Finely chop and fry the onions, carrot and celery (together) till they are well softened. Stir in the flour and set aside. Get a pan really hot and brown the meat in batches and add to the veg mix. Try to slightly burn it all. The flavour seeps through the stew in the slow cooking. If you use a non-non-stick pan, and its a mess by the end of this, you're in luck because you can deglaze the pan with some wine and the dark burnt bits make a lovely stock. I use a le creuset if possible. However burnt it gets at the start, the bottom is always free after the long cooking.

Once all the meat and veg are done, put them in a casserole and stir in the stock and wine. Bring to the boil on the hob then put in the oven at about 140 for 3 hours. Alternatively, stick it in a slow cooker for 12 hours or more. The flavour just keeps concentrating throughout the cooking, especially if the meat is really well browned.

Taken from my own imagination and love of all things hearty.

Why all this blogging?

I need targets. Whether it is to better myself or just to prevent laziness, I find that setting myself challenges helps me to get more done, have more fun and yes, to eat more. I am a creature of habit and cook the same trusted recipes over and over. I do love my favourites but I know there's more out there. So my resolution for 2007 is to cook two recipes from each food book I own. My library currently stands at 33 but I think its going to be a good year for my library.

My name is Stuart Palmer and I am a glutton.