Zoe Adjonyoh’s corned beef stew

22 Jun

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This recipe brings back so many memories of childhood. It’s such simple and economical fare and yet so good for the soul. Don’t be put off by the idea of using canned corned beef; you can buy corned beef from the butcher, but the canned variety is just so handy. My mum also loved this one because it was dinner done and dusted in 20 minutes.

(Serves 4)

For the chalé sauce
600g tinned chopped tomatoes or 375g fresh tomatoes
45g (3 tsp) tomato purée
1½ onions, roughly chopped
7½cm piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 or 2 red scotch bonnet chillis, deseeded
1½ tbsp dried chilli flakes
1½ tsp sea salt
4 garlic cloves (optional)

For the stew
2 tbsp rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp extra-hot chilli powder
1 tsp curry powder
350g tinned corned beef
2 carrots, peeled (if not organic) and diced
75g peas
4 soft-boiled eggs

Make the chalé sauce by putting ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until you have a smooth paste.

For the stew, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan, add the onion, chilli powder and curry powder, and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the chalé sauce.

Divide the corned beef into four equal pieces (which avoids arguments over portions later), or break it up into the sauce, then add the carrots and peas. Leave to simmer for 15–20 minutes. You may find that the sauce starts to dry out, so add a little water if necessary.

Peel the boiled eggs and slice in half, then add to the stew. Cook for a further five minutes.

Serve with boiled yams and plantain or rice – either way, it will vanish in no time.

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Six of the best rice bowl recipes

20 May

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For each recipe, you need 400g Japanese white rice, cooked by the absorption method: rinse the rice until the water runs clear, put in a saucepan with 520ml water, then cover with a lid and bring to a boil on a high heat. Listen to check that it’s boiling – do not remove the lid – then reduce the heat to low and simmer for five minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is up, gently stir up the rice and serve with your chosen recipe.

Beef, onion and sweet soy
Gyudon – a humble bowl of beef on rice – is a bit like Japan’s answer to a burger. Cooking off the onions releases an irresistible “hotdog stand” aroma, so it’s comforting even before you tuck in. Sweet and beefy and savoury and satisfying.

Prep 30 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 4

500g skirt, hanger or flank steak (or any other cheap and fairly lean cut)
2 tbsp oil
4 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2cm piece ginger, peeled and finely julienned
100ml soy sauce
100ml mirin
50g dark brown sugar
150ml beef stock
2 spring onions, sliced
40-50g red pickled ginger
Toasted sesame seeds

Put the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up, then cut against the grain into very thin strips.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame, then add the onions and sweat, stirring, until they are soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for a few minutes, to soften.

Add the soy, mirin, sugar and stock, and cook until the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency – about 10 minutes. Stir the beef through the sauce, and cook together for just a few more minutes, until the beef is no longer pink.

Scoop the rice into deep bowls, top with the beef mixture, and garnish with spring onions, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Chicken and egg
This comforting recipe has a name (oyakodon) that is kind of cute and kind of disturbing if you translate it directly: “parent-and-child” rice bowl. Which, I suppose, is a little more poetic than chicken and egg. Whatever you call it, it’s very delicious. This doesn’t traditionally contain butter or mushrooms, but I find the combination of butter, eggs, mushrooms and sweet soy irresistible.

Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4

80g butter
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 boned and skinned chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
100g shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and thinly sliced
200ml chicken stock
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
8 eggs
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 pinch chilli powder
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Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the onions and cook until they soften and brown – about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and mushrooms, and cook for another five to 10 minutes, until these brown as well.

Pour in the stock, soy, mirin and sugar, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the liquid reduces and coats the chicken.

Lower the heat and crack in the eggs. Break the yolks and stir gently. When cooked to a semi-scrambled consistency, take off the heat.

Scoop the rice into deep bowls, top with the chicken and egg mixture, and garnish with spring onions and chilli powder.

5 Delicious Valentine Cake Recipes To Impress Your Loved One

18 Apr

valentine-cakeIt’s the season to make merry again. This coming week, the world would be gearing up to celebrate the Valentine’s day. Valentine’s day is celebrated in honour of Saint Valentine, the Christian priest of 3rd century Rome, who played a major role in uniting lovers in his time. Movies, media and popular culture have made the day special for many couples of this generation who go an extra mile to let their loved one know of their deep affection. Cards, candlelight dinners, gifts and poetry; there are multiple ways in which you can express your love, but we believe there is nothing that can beat a valentine cake, baked with all the love and care. This Valentine’s day, surprise your partner by baking these delicious cakes and see them grin eye to eye.

Here are 5 lip-smacking cake recipes for Valentine’s day 2018:

1. Chocolate Mug Cake
Don’t have the time to go through the entire baking drill? No worries, we’ve got you covered. This quick and decadent chocolate mug cake can be prepared in a microwave in just 5 minutes. This rich and lush chocolate valentine cake is one indulgent treat your partner is sure to love.

2. Eggless Date Cake
An unbelievably tender cake made with the goodness of dates, milk and almonds. Vegetarians take note as this culinary wonder is eggless too. Pair this special valentine cake with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy the day with your loved one.

3. Strawberry Cheesecake
Pureed strawberries and rich hung curd are a match made in heaven just like you and your partner. Whip up this velvety soft delight in the comforts of your kitchen with this simple recipe. The decadent delight is a treat to the eyes and the palate as well.

4. Coffee Walnut cake
The beautiful bitter essence of coffee teamed with the nutty goodness of walnuts makes for a sensational pair that has had us rooting for it, since time immemorial. The tempting treat also breaks the monotony of the regular sugary and chocolaty goods that do the rounds during the V-day
celebrations.

5. Eggless Truffle cake
This moist and spongy delight layered with creamy and lip-smacking chocolate ganache is a classic that can never go out of fashion. To this valentine’s day and many more to come, we are laying our bets on chocolate truffle cake as one of our favourite valentine cakes!

5 Foodie Valentine’s Day Gifts For Girlfriends and Boyfriends

16 Mar

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we are loving the love in the air. On this special day, that is celebrated in honor of Saint Valentine, we have the perfect suggestions for valentines day gifts for boyfriends and girlfriends. Valentine was a Catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd Century. According to some popular legends, St. Valentines played a crucial role in uniting many lovers in the 3rd century in Rome. He started marrying many Roman soldiers in secret ceremonies. It was the time when many Roman men were taking to Christianity which was seen as a crime by the Roman emperor Claudius II. When the king found out that St. Valentine was marrying these soldiers in secret Christian ceremonies, he was imprisoned. In the prison, he won the affection of all the prisoners with his kindness and particularly of the jailer’s blind daughter whom he supposedly cured. St. Valentine’s was executed on 14 February in the year 270.

Some historians also believe that the roots of Valentine’s day lie in the ancient Roman spring festival which was celebrated with much pomp and show on 15th February. With the coming of Christianity, the holiday was moved to 14th February and it was only with time that the festival got its romantic reputation.

On the special occasion of Valentine’s day, lovers take out time for their special ones and show them love and affection. Gestures in form of romantic letters, notes, flowers and gifts are also exchanged between the couple. And since we believe that there is no love greater than the love for food, we have compiled best gifts you can give to your foodie girlfriend and boyfriend. Make your Valentine’s Day even more special by gifting your loved one with these amazing foodie stuff. Have a look

5 Best Valentine’s Day Gifts For Girlfriends and Boyfriends
For Her:

1. Chocolate Hamper
One can get never enough of chocolates. And because it is valentine’s day, we can’t find a reason better enough for you and your partner to indulge to your heart’s content. This Valentine’s Day gift her a personalized chocolate hamper, combining all her favourite chocolates in a cutesy basket. When it comes to chocolate, one can never fall short of ideas. You can also throw in some cupcakes and chocolate spread in the middle.

2. Macaroons
They are delicious, they are pretty and spell love like no other dessert. Crispy from outside and chewy from the inside, this French dessert is a delight for all those who have a soft-spot for vibrant and gorgeous looking desserts. There are many special Valentine’s day macaroon gift boxes available at several chocolateries, patisseries and even on various websites.

3. Tea Box
A special Valentine’s gift for women who can’t live without their daily cup of chai. Gift them an assortment exotic teas. You can choose from a range of flavours and varieties like the good old masala tea, green tea, organic tea, fruity concoctions or herbal and floral teas as well.

For Him:

1. Energy Bars
If he is into fitness, you can gift him a box of delicious energy bars. Made with nutrient-dense ingredients like whole grains, nuts or seeds, these protein bars are packed with good quality fiber and proteins. This gifting option is the best for those who love to be in shape yet can’t compromise on their love for sweets. There are many flavours to pick and choose from: like chocolate, hazelnut, peanut butter etc.

2. Personalised Food Coasters
This Valentine’s day, let it just be the love that spills and not the drink in his glass. Gift him customised food coasters with your special message and make the day memorable for both of you.

Ants in your pans – can I get the bug for eating insects

15 Feb

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Shortly before his Super Bowl performance on Sunday, Justin Timberlake held a listening party for Man of the Woods, his new forest-themed album. As journalists listened to songs about flannel, they were served woodsy canapes, including grasshoppers and fried ants. The caterer was Noma founder René Redzepi, king of the weird and foraged, who had been hauled out of his kitchen – Noma 2 opens this month in Copenhagen – to frighten the music industry.

Does the return of Noma suggest that edible ants are back? Promoted as part of the sustainable-food drive, insects are often discussed, but rarely eaten. Ants suffer particularly short shrift, probably because they are small, bitter and viewed as a novelty for events such as expensive album launches. They contain protein, but in the meritocracy of sustainability they pale in comparison to the I’m a Celebrity classic, the witchetty grub, which is high in protein and vitamin C and tastes like almonds.

The main issue with eating insects has been marketing – a problem that is coupled with a misguided ethnocentric feeling of revulsion at eating something we usually associate with filth and decay. But the idea of eating these leaf-dwellers shouldn’t gross us out – 2 billion people around the world regularly eat insects. So, should I join them?

I ordered a bag of wild black ants from the internet, and got stuck in, first following a cheese biscuit recipe from the website Crunchy Critters, and then adding them to a gin and tonic, as suggested by the chefs at Noma. The bitter, vaguely acrid flavour of the ants took me back to the late 1980s and the construction of my first ant tower. It was a considerable feat of engineering, given that I was four, but one that quickly descended into genocide when I decided to eat the ants. Then, as now, my main takeaways were that ants are sharp and lemony, something that owes, perhaps, to the varying levels of formic acid they contain.

For domestic consumption, you can simply hoover them up from your ruined picnic using a clean car hoover, freeze them, pick out unwanted twigs and dry them on a low heat in the oven. Dried ants are best served dipped in melted chocolate.

Redzepi did not invent the ant-as-snack, but through Noma they have enjoyed a robust if niche success as a garnish. Noma popups from London to Japan have seen ants sprinkled atop creme fraiche, placed on lettuce leaves and seasoning still-moving prawns.

At the listening party, they came doused with a blend of black garlic, rose oil and Timberlake lumbersexuality. Alas, this multisensory experience went largely undocumented, as everyone’s phone had been confiscated.

Already a place for chefs, bloggers and blaggers

24 Jan

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On entering Roganic, it was clear I needed a new false name for booking tables. “Mitford”, after my beloved Nancy (not her Hitler-loving fruitcake sister Unity) had lasted exactly four critical ambushes before being sussed and spread across hospitality’s intelligence network. Actually, that makes the chef grapevine sound far too chic and diligent. In reality, it’s just chefs lying about at 3am in mildewed underpants screaming, “That bitch!” into WhatsApp group chats.

But I live for this mayhem. I pitched up at Roganic on a Saturday night to find the staff suspiciously alert, with several of them huddled behind reception like the cast of Meerkat Manor sensing a Kalahari thunderstorm. Well played: it’s their job to find stuff like this out, after all. This restaurant, which is both the Second Coming of a much rhapsodised former pop-up and a spin-off of Michelin-bestowed Cumbrian mecca L’Enclume, opened just a month ago. Due to chef/owner Simon Rogan’s rep as a scene leader and striver for high standards, it’s already one of those places that chefs, writers, bloggers, blaggers and miscellaneous food chunterers are expressing vocal intention to visit in 2018. They yearn, they’ll tell you, to experience Rogan’s seaweed custard with caviar, his millet pudding laced with Stichelton and his scallop with gooseberry.

Well, that’s what they’ll say. My industry, like this column, thrives on hot air. My experience of reviewing ornate, long-haul, multi-course, Michelin-teasing, 50 Best-flirting dining is that few people truly want to spend their free time in them. Oh, they claim to, but that’s a lie. It’s not uncommon in any 14-course tasting journey to glance at the gargantuan task ahead and feel a bit like Terry Waite during his extended Lebanese sojourn: your captors are treating you reasonably, but you’d rather be home with a pleasant stew.

Not that Roganic’s staff are not joyous; in fact, they’re so affable, I’d let several of them move into my house. Or that the opening canape of a teensy preserved raspberry tart was not utterly gorgeous: it tasted just like a Robertson’s jam tart. A small, croquettish bundle of pork with eel blobbed with sweet hay cream was a delight, similar to a bunny rabbit version at Fera, Rogan’s previous joint in the capital. That was followed by a neat, palm-sized parcel of pickled kohlrabi stuffed with raw mackerel and wreathed with lovage. All faultless.

Still, after an hour, we still had 10 courses ahead, a task that felt all the more arduous because Blandford Street attracts some of the biggest tosspots in London. It has gorgeous restaurants – Jikoni, Carousel, Trishna and so on – but terrible people painted into a corner of blandness by their own spare cash. This isn’t the eccentric opulence of Chelsea, geed up by Russian and old British money, or Shoreditch, still riding on lost 1990s notions of hipness. This is Marylebone, where rich Harley Street neurologists eat dinner like Trappist monks, then go home to buy Mark Knopfler tickets.

Dinner has highs and lows, but then Rogan’s food is always a deeply subjective experience. It excites and then, minutes later, repulses. Perhaps that’s the point. A ramekin filled with an inch of cold, set seaweed custard appears. What fresh hell? But then a plate of salt-baked celeriac with spindly enoki mushrooms in puddles of whey is fantastic. (I spend the next day researching enoki, and conclude that celeriac with enoki should be on every vegan menu by 2019.) A porridge of millet thick with blue cheese and a clump of bone marrow comes in a mercifully tiny portion. But a small plate of butter-poached halibut with brassicas turns out to be quite wonderful.

Oddly for someone who lacks a sweet tooth, puddings were the stars of the show for me. A mini caramelised douglas fir tarte tatin was a bewildering work of apple architecture: what felt like a million tiny, dainty slivers somehow arranged into a coherent, edible artwork. A notably unpretty gathering of burnt milk ice-cream with a jus of blackcurrant resembled something unsightly that you might find on a pavement, but had us in raptures over its depth of fruity sweetness. It felt churlish to eat it, rather than put it in a glass box and charge a fee to behold it.

Can I cook like … Henry VIII

20 Dec

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Act like a king, get treated like a king: that’s one of the eyebrow-raising claims made in Robert Greene’s 1998 self-help book, The 48 Laws of Power. I’ve got my eyes on a pay rise, so I thought that eating like a king might help. And who could be more kingly than Henry VIII?

In the Tudor era, high society ate a great deal of meat – game, for the most part – and fruit. I hit two immediate snags: the first, as anyone reading this with even a basic knowledge of where their food comes from could tell me, is that there is a game season and February doesn’t fall in it. (Apparently, you have to give the pheasants a break from being shot at, so they can go away, get counseling and have babies for you to shoot at next year.)
Can I cook like … Andy Warhol?
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Henry VIII got around this by having vast storerooms in which they hung meat in the winter months. I have a freezer but – while I have a surprisingly large number of strange things in there that I have either forgotten to label or that I have given labels so broad as to be useless (“leftovers” is the helpful message on one container) – there is no game. Fortunately, my local butcher procures me a pheasant.

But then I hit another roadblock: the bottom drawer of my oven commits suicide, leaving me with only the small top drawer. This, again, wasn’t a problem that Henry had to grapple with, because he had a number of roaring fireplaces to choose from and the actual cooking was someone else’s problem.

I invent a new dish: squashed roast pheasant. What you do is you take a pheasant that is slightly too large for your only working oven and, after drenching it in fizzy wine and butter to prevent it drying out, press it flat until it fits. Take it out every half- hour or so to apply more wine and keep it moist. I serve mine with fruit and grapes, Tudor-style, avoiding vegetables, because Tudor nobles regarded them as incredibly lower-class and also because my oven is broken.

The resulting meal is not at all bad, but I cannot imagine being willing to go to that much effort when a simple joint of roast beef is just as good and a hell of a lot easier. The problem with eating like a king, I realise, is that you have to be willing to cook like a serf.