Nigel Slater’s orecchiette, salsa verde and parmesan crisps recipe

16 Oct

The recipe

Warm a nonstick frying pan over a moderate heat. Finely grate 12 tbsp (about 40g) of parmesan. Place the cheese in six piles in the warm pan, smoothing each one out into a disc about the size of a digestive biscuit. Watch carefully as the cheese melts. It will take about 2 minutes. As soon as it turns pale gold turn off the heat, but leave the cheese in place. Put a deep pan of water on to boil for the pasta. When it comes to the boil, salt it generously.

Cut 250g of broccoli into very small florets, much smaller than you would to serve it as an accompanying vegetable. Dunk the florets into the pasta water and let them cook for 3 minutes, till tender and bright. Remove them with a draining spoon or metal spider and refresh under cold running water to keep their crispness and colour.

Let the water return to the boil, then add 125g of orecchiette or other small pasta, stirring as it goes in to prevent it from sticking. Cook at a rolling boil for 9 minutes or until tender but with a little bite left.

While the pasta cooks, put the ingredients for the sauce into the blender: 20g of parsley, 20g of basil, 12 large mint leaves and the juice of a lemon. Now blend in 8 tbsp of olive oil and a little salt. You should have a thick green dressing.

Drain the pasta and toss with the broccoli and dressing. Lift the cheese discs from the pan and break into pieces over the pasta and vegetables.

The trick

Don’t let the pan for the crisps get too hot – just hot enough to melt the cheese. As soon as the cheese colours lightly, turn off the heat as they will continue cooking in the residual heat. Slide a palette knife under the warm crisps to remove Don’t let them cool before removing.

The twist

Instead of broccoli, you could use brussels sprouts (halved) or long-stemmed broccoli cut into short lengths. You could introduce anchovies into the sauce (you need 6 fillets for this recipe). The idea works with boiled, thickly sliced potatoes instead of pasta, dressing them while they are warm and freshly sliced.


Chocolate Fruit And Nut Slice Recipes

29 Sep

The sweetness of the rose petals and crystallised fruits means a dark chocolate is more appropriate here than a sweet, creamy milk version. It is, of course, up to you.

hazelnuts 100g, skinned
dark chocolate 400g, 70%
mixed crystallised fruits pears, citrons, clementines 400g in total
sugared rose petals a few
sea salt flakes 1 tsp

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer, then bake for 15-20 minutes, removing them when they are thoroughly brown. Put a pan of water on to boil, with a heatproof glass bowl resting snugly on top. The bottom of the pan shouldn’t quite touch the water. Break the chocolate into pieces and let it melt in the bowl. It will melt more smoothly if you don’t stir it, just leave it to melt, occasionally pushing any unmelted pieces under the surface.

Line a 22x32cm tray with baking parchment. Pour the melted chocolate into the tray, and shake firmly to spread over the surface. Chop the crystallised fruits into small wedges or dice. I think a mixture of sizes looks best. Scatter the fruits over the chocolate. Break the rose petals into small pieces and distribute them between the fruits. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and scatter them over the chocolate. Lastly, add the sea salt flakes and leave in a cool place to set. The fridge is ideal for a short time, but don’t leave the chocolate in there longer than an hour. Snap into jagged pieces. Serves 10.

Rowley Leigh’s final meal: ‘I never cook just for myself’

12 Sep

ratatouille-chicken-french-meal1I love cooking: it keeps me from doing the washing up. For that reason, I’d cook this meal myself, with my family, and my son-in-law in particular – he’s a very good cook. I love how much pleasure cooking brings people. That’s why I do it. I never cook for myself – I’m not interested. When I’m by myself I just stick to cheese on bread.

We’d be at a farmhouse that we rent quite often in Umbria, and this would be a late summer lunch. We first went to Umbria about 15 years ago, it’s a completely unspoilt, untouristy part of Italy. Unbelievably quiet, green and lush, even in August, with lovely flowers in the meadows. The house suits us, because it’s not overly done up, it has a barn opposite the kitchen across the lawn; which is open on one side, you can seat 16 and there’s a fireplace where I usually cook. There’s also a wood oven.

It’s so different from our life in London, and that’s what we love about going there. No internet, no noise … The first few days, the younger members of the party rebel, but then they open things like books. We don’t take much with us apart from books and a few DVDs. Once I get up to speed, I’m reading a book a day.

My children would be with us, and one or two friends – we usually have friends staying. It’s part of what makes the holidays special.

For starters, we’d have braised octopus with borlotti beans – gently stewed with a little chilli. Then hot roast grouse with bread sauce and not much else: I love game birds and grouse is my favourite. I’d wrap it in lardo and roast it over the spit, with a sprig of rosemary under the thigh.

To drink we’d have a really lovely Brunello di Montalcino – a generous, rich, ripe red, open and fresh.

I love cheese: British, French, Northern Italian … Montgomery’s cheddar, cheshire and particularly brie, which I think is terribly underrated… I might have to smuggle some into Italy. If that didn’t work, we’d just have to nibble on a bit of parmesan.

In August, there are some lovely little plums, although for dessert I’d probably just have a very large cigar.

After the meal I would hide away and have a snooze. One of the nice things about this house is that there are lots of places to hide.

I’m a terrible dancer; nevertheless, there’d be dancing. My wife, Katy, won’t dance with me – but I love it. We quarrel all the time over the music; I’d put on some country or soul, and then the kids would try to get a hold of the player to put on something modern.

Stinky Tofu in Seattle: Why You Should Try This Strange Snack

1 Sep

Learn more about stinky tofu, a smelly yet beloved staple of Taiwanese cuisine.

Stinky tofu, also known as chou dofu, is fermented tofu. As its name suggests, stinky tofu, well, stinks. Some say it smells like dirty socks, while others say its stench is akin to that of rotting cheese, dirty garbage, or manure. Despite its strong and foul odor, stinky tofu is a popular snack in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, where it is typically sold at night markets or roadside stands. Stinky tofu is also served as a side dish at lunch bars. If you want to try stinky tofu in Seattle, it’s best to eat it a restaurant, unless you don’t mind stinking up your house and feeling the wrath of your neighbors.

Stinky Tofu

Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu is popular among tourists and locals alike in Taiwan. There are often long lines of people waiting at stinky tofu stalls. All you have to do to find stinky tofu when visiting Taiwan is follow your nose. Although stinky tofu smells bad, it has a delicious taste. Stinky tofu fans claim that the more stinky the tofu, the tastier it is. Many stinky tofu vendors build their reputation by offering the smelliest tofu on the block. The taste of stinky tofu is a lot less pungent than its smell. Biting into stinky tofu is a lot like biting into soft cheese.

Stinky tofu can be steamed, barbecued, deep-fried, or stewed with spices. The most popular way to eat stinky tofu is deep fried with pickled cabbage and chili sauce. The vendor makes a hole at the top of each cube of stinky tofu with chopsticks or tongs in order to let the toppings penetrate. Deep-fried stinky tofu is typically dripping with grease. It is crispy on the outside and soft and extremely hot on the inside. Deep-fried stinky tofu doesn’t have as strong of a smell as other varieties. Most tourists prefer to eat their stinky tofu with a generous squirt of sauce for flavor.

How Stinky Tofu Is Made

Stinky tofu is produced in a variety of ways. Traditionally, stinky tofu is prepared in brine made of vegetables, meat, and fermented milk in an earthenware jar. It can take up to several months for the brine to ferment. Sometimes, the brine may include cabbage, Chinese herbs, bamboo shoots, mustard greens, dried shrimp, or amaranth greens. Stinky tofu vendors tend to be very protective of their brine recipes. Stinky tofu is said to contain beneficial bacteria, similar to that of yogurt.

Today, modern factories use quick methods to mass-produce stinky tofu. They marinate fresh tofu in fermented brine for just one to two days so that it develops the signature stinky tofu odor without fermenting completely. This short fermentation process leads to a blander flavor.

Although some people are initially appalled at the smell of stinky tofu, they often find that they can’t get enough of it after tasting it. Stinky tofu is said to have its roots in the southeastern maritime areas of China. According to legend, a tofu vendor named Wang Zhi He invented stinky tofu during the Qing dynasty. He had a lot of unsold tofu, so he cut it into small cubes and put it in a jar for several days. The tofu fermented and turned a greenish color. He tried the smelly tofu and found that it tasted delicious, so he decided to start selling it at his store.

Try Stinky Tofu in Seattle at Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen

Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen is a leading Taiwanese restaurant with locations in Seattle, Washington and Tempe, Arizona. Get your stinky tofu fix and sample other authentic Taiwanese dishes at Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen!

Skinny Chinese Pan-Fried Fish

17 Aug

This is an unknown dish for most readers outside China. I have not heard of it until I met my husband and his family. In Chinese, we name it as 糍粑鱼, with the English translation glutinous rice cake fish. Surely we will fail to find any glutinous rice cake in the dish. We use this term to describe that similar pan-frying process.

I am using a grass carp, which is the most popular and inexpensive edible fish in China. This dish is originated from Chinese Hubei province. I get the recipe from my mother in law. You can replace it with other fishes, just choose fat ones.

Hubei province is known as Chinese fish and rice fields. Fat grass carps are harvested every year. It is a custom for people to dry some grass carps naturally to enjoy in cold winter days. Traditionally, this recipes calls for dried fish. I find out a easy version by using it, you can make yummy, skinny pan-fried fish with marinated fresh fish chunks.

Fried Fish

Fried Fish

Skinny Chinese Pan-Fried Fish
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Skinny Chinese Pan-fried fish


One grass carp around 1000g, remove head and tail (you can ask your batcher to help)
4 dried chili pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk scallion, minced
1/4 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon sugar
Marinating sauce
2 tablespoons cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorn seeds (optional)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 stalks scallion, minced
1 thumb ginger, minced

Cut the fish into large chunks around 3-4 cm thick. And then add all the marinating sauce. Mix well and then transfer to an airtight bag, refrigerate for around 2 days.
Transfer the fish out. Remove the ginger and scallion attached; drain the fish chunks with kitchen paper.
Heat up cooking oil in a pan, place the fish chunks in. Do not turn them over at the beginning, turn over to fry the next side one side becomes slightly golden brown.
Add garlic, dried pepper, scallion and garlic. Fry for another half minute until fragrance. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and white sesame seeds. Mix well and enjoy, possibly with a cup of beer.

How to make easy crispy duck – recipe

23 Jul
 Easy crispy duck, from Homemade Takeaways by Rob Allison. Photograph: Kris Kirkham

Easy crispy duck, from Homemade Takeaways by Rob Allison. Photograph: Kris Kirkham

This recipe, from Homemade Takeaways by Rob Allison, is a cheat’s version of a dish that is incredibly quick and easy to make. The most important part of this recipe is cooking the duck breast from cold, which helps render the fat (melt and release it from the breast), creating a lovely crisp skin.

(serves 2)

2 duck breasts, patted dry

1 tsp five spice powder

2 tsp fine salt

1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

½ cucumber, deseeded and chopped into batons

5 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

hoisin sauce, to serve

Chinese pancakes, to serve

Put the duck breasts skin-side down into a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat. As the pan heats, the fat will begin to melt and collect – tip out the excess fat as it forms. Leave the breasts to cook for 8–10 minutes, by which time they should be deeply golden and crisp, so flip them over. If the skin is not crisp, continue cooking until it is.

When you are happy with the duck breasts, remove them from the pan and carefully wipe the pan clean with some kitchen paper. Mix the five spice powder and salt and use to season the duck breasts all over.

Heat the oil in the frying pan over a medium-high heat, then return the duck to the pan, flesh-side down. Fry the breasts for a further 4 minutes, before flipping them on to the skin side again and cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove the breasts from the pan, and leave to rest for at least 4 minutes.

While the duck is resting, set out all the garnishes – cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce – and warm your pancakes. I find the best way to do this is in the microwave, but if you don’t have one you can gently steam them wrapped in baking parchment and then in tin foil. When ready to serve, cut the duck breasts into thin slices, and serve to your nearest and dearest.

Nigel Slater’s jelly recipes

13 Jul
Soft on fruit: Nigel Slater’s apricot jelly recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Soft on fruit: Nigel Slater’s apricot jelly recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

A hectic week, with a little too much on my plate and the feeling that everything was in danger of spinning out of control. I decided to make jelly. There is something entirely frivolous about the idea of setting fruit juice so that it wobbles on your spoon. No one needs jelly. It is there simply to amuse and delight. Making jelly is escapist cooking. Like trifles, whim-whams and blancmanges, they are there simply for fun.

The stone fruits – particularly peaches, nectarines and apricots – are in fine fettle at the moment. I bought flat white peaches this week that smelled like roses, and apricots that had an almost wine-like scent. The peaches ended up in a softly set jelly of elderflower cordial; the apricots were warmed with a splash of orange, then crushed and embedded in juice set with very little gelatine. A grown-up version of the much-loved mandarin-orange jelly of my childhood.

Take it easy on the sugar and pick your fruits wisely – redcurrants or blackcurrants, stone fruits, rhubarb or oranges – and you get an extraordinary clarity of colour and vibrancy of flavour. (The acidity in currants can affect the set, so a few more sheets of gelatine are required.) Leaf or sheet gelatine, the sort that comes in paper envelopes rather than as fine powder in sachets, is the sort I prefer. It is a doddle to use. Just soak the leaves in cold water for five minutes until they have collapsed and softened, then lift the result out of the water and stir it into warm juice or a mixture of juice and wine. It really couldn’t be easier.

I make mine the day I intend to eat them, giving them a maximum of six hours in the fridge. Any longer, even overnight, and they firm up just a little too much. In my book, a jelly should quiver rather than bounce.

Apricot jelly

Ripeness is all with this fruit, but if you are working with less than perfect specimens, as is sometimes the case, cook them for a few minutes longer than in the recipe below, sweetening them with a tablespoon or so of caster sugar.

Serves 4
apricots 500g
orange juice 500ml (6 medium oranges)
leaf gelatine 12g (6 sheets)
caster sugar 1 tbsp
double cream 250ml
rose petals (optional)

Finely grate the zest of one of the oranges on to a plate and set aside.

Cut each apricot in half, discard the stone, then put the fruit in a medium-sized saucepan. Pour in 4 tbsp of the orange juice and let the apricots cook, partially covered with a lid, for 10 minutes or until they are vivid in colour and soft enough to pureé.

Crush the apricots with a fork, so they are part way between chopped fruit and purée. Spoon the fruit into a shallow serving dish, about 22-24cm in diameter.

Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water, pushing the leaves under the water one at the time to prevent them from sticking.

 ‘Pick your fruits wisely and you get an extraordinary clarity of colour and vibrancy of flavour,’ says Nigel Slater. Above: his white peach and elderflower jellies recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/Observer

‘Pick your fruits wisely and you get an extraordinary clarity of colour and vibrancy of flavour,’ says Nigel Slater. Above: his white peach and elderflower jellies recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/Observer

Warm the orange juice in a saucepan, but do not let it boil. Remove the gelatine from the water – it should be a squishy lump – and stir it into the hot orange juice. When the gelatine has completely dissolved, pour over the crushed apricots and allow to cool. Transfer to the fridge and leave for a couple of hours to set.

Put the grated orange and the sugar into a food processor and blitz for a few seconds, until the sugar has turned a pale-orange colour. Alternatively crush the sugar and orange zest together using a pestle and mortar. Stop when the zest has lightly coloured and perfumed the sugar.

To serve, softly whip the cream (not so stiff it can stand in peaks) and place in spoonfuls around the edge of the dish. Decorate with the orange-scented sugar and, if you wish, a few rose petals.

White peach and elderflower jellies

Nectarines make a beautiful substitute if you can’t find white peaches. They are less fragrant, but their colour makes up for it. I have included a spoonful of sugar in this recipe as I feel that, despite the sweetness of the elderflower cordial, the jelly benefits from it. Leave it out if you prefer.

Makes 4
For the peaches:
white peaches 125g
lemon juice of ½

For the jelly:
leaf gelatine 10g (6 small sheets)
elderflower cordial 100ml
white wine 350ml
caster sugar 1 tbsp (optional)

Half-fill a mixing bowl with cold water then add the sheets of gelatine. If you do this one at a time, it will prevent them from sticking together. Leave the gelatine to soften for 10 minutes, in which time it becomes a clear, spongy mass.

Pour the elderflower cordial and white wine into a medium-sized saucepan, add the sugar (or not, if you prefer a sharper jelly) and warm over a moderate heat. Don’t let the mixture boil, which would affect the gelatine’s setting qualities.

Cut the peaches in half then into thin slices, discarding the stone as you go, then toss them gently in the lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Divide the peaches among four small serving dishes.

Lower the softened gelatine into the warmed cordial and wine, then stir until it has dissolved. It should disappear almost instantly. Pour into a jug then into the dishes to cover the peaches, then refrigerate for about four hours, until lightly set.