Showcase ... 2013

Highlights - December 2013

Bullet Steak Supreme

Rediscovering a classic cut ... and making a meal of it!
Carne Asada

Simple grilled beef ...

Inspired by the classic French Canadian Poutine, here's presenting a fishy version!


... probably the last post of the year and we're having a late breakfast cum lunch: brunch, then. We're out later and will no doubt get to eat a little later than usual and there'll be a lot of drink, so wise to get our stomachs lined!

We're having a Poutine, of sorts.

Poutine is a French Canadian dish of fries, gravy and cheese curd. We have some smoked salmon left over from the Christmas period which needs using up and some cottage cheese which really wants eating. Potatoes, goose fat and a heavy based skillet ...

Presenting: the Pesce-Poutine!


If you were to have a go at this, you'll need:
  • Smoked salmon
  • Boiled egg
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Potatoes, goose fat and a skillet
  • Red cabbage and rocket leaves
  • Paprika and Tabasco
Peel and cut up the potatoes into chips, fries, frites, or whatever your language dictates, par boil for a few minutes and then fry off in a skillet in lots of goose fat. Lovely job!

Meanwhile, shred up some red cabbage and mix with rocket leaves.

Chips ready? Shove a handful in a bowl with the salad over, mounding cottage cheese over, smoked salmon on top and a boiled egg to crown.

Sprinkle a little paprika over the egg, splash a load of Tabasco all over it and season with a little black pepper and sea salt.

Sorted! Now, on with the New Year celebrations! Cheers, all ... Happy 2014.


White Fish Stew

Caught in that limbo between Christmas and New Year, not too excited about cooking, got a tonne of leftovers, worse, fresh food starting to turn ...

Make a Stew!

White Fish Stew

... just bung in courgette, aubergine, spinach, onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, sea salt, black pepper and a good blob of Shito (a Ghanaian shrimp and chilli paste) together into a pan with some olive oil. Simmer and drop in chunks of white fish to warm through before serving out with some rice noodles.

Done. It ain't complicated.


Fillet Steak

We don't eat meat often, but when we do ...

Fillet Steak

Fillet steak served rare, very rare, griddled on cast iron.

Sauce is simply green peppercorns and mushrooms in cream ... with a splash of whisky.

Superfluous greenage? Yeah, why not ... rocket.


Turkish-Style Döner Kebab

It's Friday! The Mrs is out at her work Christmas "do" ... and I'm hope alone with a few beers and I'm hungry ... Let's have some junk food!

I could slide up to the Take Away, or I could make my own ...

The Turkish Döner is a huge kebab of spiced lamb meat, shaved and served in a pitta with salad. Not wanting to make a half-tonne kebab, I made a small approximation from lamb mince.

Take a pound of lamb mince into a mixing bowl and sprinkle over ground coriander, ground cumin, black pepper and sea salt. Squish it together, giving it a really good squeeze through your fingers - you want the texture to be mush.

Take a large onion and a couple of cloves of garlic along with a chilli, or two. Blend the lot and sieve off the excess water.

Add the onion mix to the meat and work through again.

Now, collect up the meat mixture and spread it out into an ovenproof dish into a layer about an inch and a half thick. It will shrink during the cooking ...

... into the oven set to 200C (400F?) for maybe an hour. it will shrink, the top will colour up and the juices will flow out, so flip the cake over after about 45 minutes and then cook on.

Remove from the oven and ideally, allow to cool. In an imperfect world, just slice it through as thin as you can and carry on, but if you did let it cool a bit, now slice it through really thin and pop the slices under the grill to give the appearance of those proper shaved Döners.

You weren't just sitting around while the meat was cooking, were you? You did make up some salad - lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber and tomato; bowl of sheep or goat yoghurt; Tabasco sauces at the ready!

Turkish-Style Döner Kebab

You'll notice some pittas on the plate next to the meat ... yes, pittas!

Not paleo, not primal, not ancestral, absolutely neolithic, but ... first, it's Friday and who cares? Life really is too short. Secondly, I do have a sensitivity to gluten and will be belching up nuclear heartburn within the hour after eatnig bread. Curiously, none of these flat breads do that to me - not wraps, tortilla, Swedish flatbreads, pitta, none of them. n=1?

I'm not saying it's right, just not absolutely wrong. YMMV, naturally.

So, my Döner ...

Open up a pitta, push in some salad, some meat, some yoghurt and a damn good splash of Tabasco. Eat greedily, noisily, hungrily and enjoy the hell out of it! Down your beer, burp, smile, live ...


Sea Bass, Beetroot, Cottage Cheese & Samphire

Continuing a theme ...

Sea Bass, Beetroot, Cottage Cheese & Samphire

Tail end fillets of sea bass, roasted beetroot, cottage cheese, carrot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and samphire.

It's a rather effortless mid-week meal, which begins with the beetroot - simply wash, wrap in kitchen foil and commit to the oven set to 200C for 30-60 minutes depending upon size. Mine were large, so 60 minutes. Test that they're ready by inserting a knife - it should be easy to do.

You've been off doing other things, right?

So, back after an hour, put the beets aside just to cool slightly ...

Prepare some veggies. I went with carrot, boiled, Brussels sprouts added after a few minutes, then broccoli towards the end. Samphire in last, just for a few seconds.

Meanwhile, just before you drain the veggies, soften some butter in a skillet and on a good heat, place the fish fillets in, skin side down. Two to three minutes and the translucent flesh should be just turning opaque. Flip them over, turn the heat off and let them finish off in the residual heat.

Aside form the hour roasting the beetroot, cook time for the veggies and the fish is less than 10 minutes.

Peel the beetroot, cut into eighths, drain the veggies and plate up ...

Make a stripe of Cottage Cheese (single ingredient, please - Cottage Cheese is made from milk and that's all you should see on the ingredients and dot the veggies over, laying the sea bass on top, scattered with samphire. Wedge of lemon, and we're done!

What a great set of combinations ... from the fattiness in the fish, gorgeous crispy skin, sweet beets, perfect carrot, sour cheese, green punch of goodness from the broccoli and sprouts, and salty tang from the samphire.

You can always tell a great meal by whether the glass of wine is touched during eating ... this was one such meal and so, afterwards, I enjoyed my glass of Merlot with a Black Forest fruit jelly - simply, frozen Black Forest berries and red wine, set with gelatine.


Octopus Salad

Lunchtime! Octopus tentacles take a little preparation, but not much ...

Octopus Salad

... the previous evening, marinate the tentacles in olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper; an hour will do. Then, in a skillet or on a grill, just flash them through on a hot hot hot heat!

Slice on the bias and allow to cool ...

Inspired by simple Galician cuisine, the salad is simply lettuce, tomato, olives, soft sheep cheese, hard goat cheese, salad cream, the octopus and then some capers and black pepper.

Smashing salad! Now, back to work ...


Salmon Supreme

In essence, the seafood version of the Bullet Steak Supreme I made the other day ...

Sunday, and after a fantastic walk around our valley, we're hungry, but not so hungry we can't wait for dinner to be well presented.

Salmon Supreme

Tonight, salmon steak, prawns, crab velouté, mashed potato, broccoli, asparagus, samphire and radicchio.


Velouté is simply a sauce made from stock and thickened with a roux. As ancestral eaters, we don't eat wheat flour and sadly, starch flours can become unappealing when heavily thickened. I'm going to use a double cream reduction to thicken my stock sauce.

First, the stock. I was preparing some crab for lunch tomorrow and so had all the leftover bits, shell and so on, which when boiled, smashed up and sieved produces a fantastic stock! Alternatively, buy in a fish stock or perhaps even a cube.

Now, take a skillet, some butter and tarragon. Tarragon has a lovely aniseed flavour which works very nicely with seafood, and cream. Shred some leek and gently let that lot infuse on a low heat before adding in the stock, raising the heat to reduce.

Towards the end, we'll cook our prawns in this and pour in some double cream and reduce quickly. So, in preparation, sieve the stock and set aside in the skillet for later ...


Take a couple of inch and a half thick steaks, skin and bone (if necessary).

Being the posh version, I cut these into smaller cubes to place in and amongst the vegetables. Leave the steak whole if you're doing the mid-week version.

Poaching is simply a case of holding the steaks in hot water for around a quarter of an hour until they're cooked through. I am partial to salmon only just poached, the middles still being pink, but cooked. Sous Vide is the obvious method, but a quick and ditry poaching method I've found is simply to pour boiling water over and set aside for 15-20 minutes.


Simply par-boil the broccoli, drop the asparagus in for a few seconds, drain and set aside in a skillet along with some samphire and a knob of butter for later on when we'll just warm them through.

While the salmon is poaching, we can boil our potatoes ... 15-20 minutes.


So, salmon poached, potato boiled, velouté ready to reduce and veggies to warm through, we're ready to assemble the dish ...

Drop some prawns into the seafood stock and pour some double cream in. Raise the heat to cook the prawns through and reduce the velouté. This will take a mere couple of minutes.

Mash the potato with a generous knob of butter. Once mashed, whip with a spatula until a really smooth mash is achieved.

Retrieve the salmon from the poaching liquid, reserving the stock for another meal, and dry off on a piece of kitchen towel.

Flick the heat on under the green veggies to warm through.

Plate up with the velouté and prawns down in a stripe along the plate and proceed to arrange the salmon, green veggies and quenelles of mashed potato in and amongst each other along the stripe, garnishing with some shredded radicchio.

Voilà! Presenting ... Salmon Supreme.


Carne Asada

Carne Asada
Nothing magical or exotic, Carne Asada is a Mexican preparation of simple marinated and grilled meat.

Carne Asada can be put into tacos or burritos, or simply as is, as I'll be doing ...

The meat is rump steak, about two thirds of an inch thick.

The marinade is simply lime juice, sea salt and black pepper and the meat wants little more than, say, quarter of an hour to bathe in these flavours. Worcestershire Sauce might be a good addition, but don't think about Tabasco or chilli powder - once on the grill, your steak will turn into a chemical weapon!

Alongside, I'm going to have a simple salad of shredded crisp lettuce with radicchio. Red and green, crunchy and bitter. I'm also going to have a Pico de Gallo of tomato, cucumber and olives.

So, ready to eat?

Pre-heat your griddle pan until smoking hot, drop the meat on, turn when ready and set aside to rest for a couple of minutes before slicing through.

Serve on a large plate, meat in the middle, salads alongside, sliced avocado over, perhaps a splash of Tabasco over the meat ... and dig in!



Bullet Steak Supreme

Browsing through the meats at my local farm shop, I happened upon a cut called a 'Bullet Steak'. I asked about it and got the Butchers' answer - for real people, it's a traditional cut which Butchers are bringing back into popularity. It's from the flank, a thin-ish steak and works best as black and blue.

But first, our starter ...

I have egg whites surplus to requirement from something I'll be doing as part of our main, so I based a fun entrée around gently fried egg whites covered with pickled herring, pickled beetroot, tomato, leaves, cottage cheese and Yorkshire mayonnaise, a yellow mayo from rapeseed, white wine vinegar, egg yolk and mustard; so, more egg white.

Pickled Herring Salad

... and the main:

Bullet Steak Supreme

Bullet steak, cooked black and blue, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, peas, samphire, potato and beetroot over mushroom velouté with leaves, crowned with a poached egg yolk.

Putting this together is simply a case of having everything reading up front and assembling onto warm plates while the steak flashes in a pan.


Velouté is simply a sauce made from stock and thickened with a roux. As ancestral eaters, we don't eat wheat flour and sadly, starch flours can become unappealing when heavily thickened. I'm going to use a double cream reduction to thicken my stock sauce.

Dice up some mushrooms, oyster in my case, shredded leek, a dash of white pepper and cook through in butter in a skillet.

Add some beef stock, blend well, passing through a sieve back into the skillet to reduce. Stir in some cream, or soured cream as I did, and reduce further.

Set aside just to warm through at the end.


Boil your beetroots and cut up. Set aside.

Soften the oyster mushrooms in butter, in a skillet. We'll be adding the other veggies in at the end to warm through, so pick a skillet of sufficient size.

Boil your potatoes. Drain and set aside.

Par boil the asparagus and peas, immersing the samphire in at the very end. Drain and add to the skillet with your oyster mushrooms. Add the potatoes in.

Set the skillet aside.


Have your leaves ready to scatter over.

I also shredded some radicchio to provide a bitter base over the creamy velouté.

Egg Yolk

We'll be crowning this dish with a poached egg yolk, so have a yolk per person ready and waiting in a ramekin and pan of boiled water just simmering.


When you're ready to eat, pre-heat a skillet while you just warm through the veggies and sauce, flash fry the steak while you assemble the dish ...


Take a plate and make a slide of velouté down the centre over which shredded radicchio is scattered.

Arrange a few potatoes and beetroots to form the structure of the dish.

Retrieve the steaks, rest very briefly and cut through into a number of pieces showing off the rare centre. Mingle in and amongst the roots.

Immerse the egg yolks into the pan of water - you want 60 seconds. No more ... no less.

Arrange the asparagus, samphire and peas in and amongst the meat and roots.

Retrieve the egg, gently, and rest on some kitchen paper to dry off.

Scatter some leaves over, black pepper and a little interesting salt - I used Icelandic Ash Salt.

Crown with the egg yolk.

Voilà! Presenting ... Bullet Steak Supreme.

Yes, this episode of 'Living in the Ice Age' was inspired by watching Master Chef at dinner time. Who needs a Michelin Star, eh?


Tuna & Potato, Samphire & Radicchio Salad

Tuna & Potato, Samphire & Radicchio Salad
Very quick and very easy ...

I'm doing a lot of really what is very simple cooking at the moment. Take a fish, take some veggies, put them together, eat and enjoy.

I don't really have a lot to write about this, other than to say what a wonderful combination this arrangement of food was: waxy potatoes, salty samphire, bitter radicchio and sumptuous, meaty tuna.

The veggies must have covered all manner of awesome micronutrients, while the fish filled in the protein. Butter in the potatoes for fat along with the olive oil in the Sauce Vierge over the fish.

What a meal!


Corned Beef & Plantain Hash

Corned Beef & Plantain Hash
On Sunday, we had a simple Beef Shin stew; the beef stewed for several hours before root veggies were added, cooked through and served with cabbage and kale.

Leftovers ...

Left over was a gelatinous gravy with just a few pieces of potato, squash and carrot, and some meat pieces. I retrieved the meat pieces, shredded them up and blended the remaining gravy and veggies which formed the stock for my Corned Beef Hash.

Corned Beef in the UK is hallowed. We love the stuff. I think folks the other side of the pond might know it as Bully Beef, but it's essentially the same thing.

So, into the stock went some chopped plantains, beef stock, tomato purée, paprika, chillies, onion, garlic, radishes and the leftover meat, shredded.

Simmered on until the plantains were softened and the stock reduced, then cubed corned beef and tomatoes cut into eighths, a few more minutes and we're done.

Fold through and serve ...

It's a comfort meal.

To be absolutely frank the plantains didn't quite work out. The brought a dry, almost powdery sensation to the dish. I rather wish I had pre-fried them in a lot of butter and added at the end. No drama, it was a good meal, filling and satiating; nice and quick for a Monday night.