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Monday, 5 March 2012

Glazed Vegetables

This is very slight variation of Thomas Keller’s approach to vegetables in the stunning French Laundry Cookbook (if you don’t have it, you really, really should get it).

It’s a great method of prepping veg ahead of a dinner party as well as being a luxuriant finish to braises and stews (as per Keller’s advice, I tend to discard vegetables used in the braising process as their flavour has been extracted and they get a bit too “mushy”). Use whatever vegetables you like/want for your dish.


Take your largest pan and fill it up, almost to the top, bring to the boil and add a decent amount of salt.

Add the vegetables in batches (peas on their own, then carrots, then parsnips etc.) and cook ‘till they’re 80% done, remove and plunge into an ice bath. Allow a few minutes between the batches for the water to come back up to a vigorous boil.

Drain the cooled vegetables and keep covered until needed.

At service, place a small amount of butter in a pan (woks work quite well here) with a similar amount of water, warm and whisk ‘till it forms an emulsion, add more water/butter in equal quantities and whisk to keep emulsified, season with salt and sugar. Increase the heat.

Place the now mixed vegetables in this pan and as they finish cooking they’ll take on a wonderfully rich, sweet and savoury glaze.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

I'm in the paper...

The Edinburgh Evening News recently interviewed me about my MasterChef adventure, the article can be read here and the picture they refused to photoshop to make me slimmer is below.

Thanks to Mark Greenaway for letting me borrow his kitchen.

Masterchef contestant Ross Boyce. Picture: GARETH EASTON

Food Geeks retox

 Here's a copy of my recent post for the Total Food Geeks about "retoxing" in February:

Retox, it’s an interesting concept and one that’s dangerous in my view; think about it, an indulgent December followed by an abstemious January makes my body go into shock – and then, once your body has just about adjusted to the age of austerity that is a January detox, it gets shocked again by the sudden onslaught of salt, fat and alcohol. Far safer just forgetting the “detox” in the first place, it can only be bad for your health.

However, if you want to treat yourself, following a period of diet or not, I give you the best, most indulgent, fat and flavour laden meat imaginable – Pork Belly.

A staple on gastropub menus the country wide, pork belly is something that's easy to get wrong, cook it for too short a time or at too high a temperature and you can end up with variously a hard, dry or fatty puck of protein that’s an insult to the noble beast who originated it; but treated with care – lightly cured with salt and sugar before some long and slow cooking in an oven (or waterbath) produces the food of the Gods. The fats render through the meat, basting it from the inside, almost confiting it, the collagen transmutes into gelatine and the skin dries preparing the most wonderfully tender and succulent meat and crisp crackling; I roast mine on a bed of apple, onion, cider, garlic, sage and thyme (which also steam the pork with the aromats and prepares the start of an awesome gravy). Serve this with a simple mash, roasties, sweetpotato rosti, ratatouille – there’s nothing Pork Belly doesn’t go with, but make sure you cook more than you think you’ll need because then you have – leftovers.

And leftovers are almost the best bit; the following day when you’re feeling kinda good but kinda guilty about all the fatty pork you scarfed (kinda like a one night stand), you can look forward to a cleansing Pho:

Riff on a Porky Pho
  • Leftover pork belly
  • Pork or chicken stock (or a mixture)
  • Noodles
  • Spring Onions
  • Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Chilli (or sriracha)
  • Suger
  • Lime
  • Coriander

Start by building the broth of your Pho, warm the stock and add sliced ginger and garlic to taste (I like mine aggressively garlicky and gingery) – to save waste and build flavour, I often use the left over gravy as well. Then add sliced chilli (Sriracha works well here too), a healthy glug of fish sauce, a good lot of lime juice and some sugar. Stir and taste, play about with the seasonings ‘till you really like it. 

Shred the leftover pork belly into bite-sized chunks and add into the broth, then add noodles (I like Udon) and julienned spring onions and red peppers (you can also add other veg, carrot, radish, anything else you fancy) and simmer for 10 minutes. Yes, I know there's no quantities here, play about with it and have fun.

Serve in big bowls with a healthy amount of the broth and coriander scattered on top.

Easy, healthy and most of all – tasty.