Salt Beef
Salt Beef

A small collection of village folk arrived at the residence today for a luncheon. Well, in my own way, I felt this mostly Christian band could do with some good and honest Jewish sustenance, so Salt Beef would be the main event.

Where I was brought up many of our neighbours were Jewish, mostly from families who had emigrated to this country arriving in the East End of London.  Salt Beef was very much a part of their culture and when I visited with my friends, it seemed to be a regular event at lunch.

Now, I have to admit that I did not do the brining myself this time round as our butchers, Parrott Bros in Whitchurch, Bucks have a briner and were happy to do the job. They are also the proud owners of the famous, award winning Beechmoor Herd of Aberdeen Angus, so their beef is well worth trying.

However, I thoroughly recommend you do brine your own – it really is pretty easy and there are recipes everywhere.

So, onto the lunch.

Cooking Salt Beef
Cooking Salt Beef

I picked up the beef from its three week soak in the briner at the weekend, and at eight this morning, started cooking it in a large pot, completely covered with water and with added carrots, celery, a whole head of garlic, tablespoon of pepper corns, a teaspoon of nutmeg, some coriander seeds, an onion, and 3 red beetroot.

That lot cooked for four hours at a gently rolling simmer. I served it up hot together with Rye bread I made yesterday and pickled cucumber that we made a couple of months ago – a really, fresh tasting pickle with lots of spices in it.

It went down well, even if the genteel village folk insisted in eating it with a knife and fork. Well, except the one lady from Ohio, who took one look at the fare and shoved a huge pile of beef between two slices of rye, complete with mustard and pickle and sat there happily munching through the lot. Now, that was a lady who knows her salt beef!

Picled Girkins
Pickled Girkins

But however you eat it, do eat it! In the UK we have mangled the wonderful salt beef into tins of less than interesting corned beef and seemed to have forgotten this low cost but truly wonderful meal made from brisket. It doesn’t even need to be the best beef around! This will make a meal out of just about anything.

So, don’t let the trendy London media types in Soho be the only ones to eat great hot piles of beef and mustard, go buy a brisket and get brining! You will love it.

Smoked Haddock and Cabbage
Smoked Haddock and Cabbage

This is a gentle but warming dish for those who do not want to get stuffed, but want a rich taste to last the evening. It only takes about ten minutes to prepare and 20 to 30 minutes to cook and so is ideal for a working day.

You can vary the ingredients, to be honest, even moving it away from the East Asian influence I have here. The most important idea is that this is fish steamed in the oven over stock and served on a bed of cooked cabbage.

Ingredients for two people

  • 2 fillets of fresh smoked haddock
  • 400 mil fish stock
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stick lemon grass
  • 1 thumb size of fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1/4 bulb of fennel
  • 2 lime leaves
  • big handful green cabbage
  • small handful french beans
  • ground nut oil
  • Fist of coriander
  • 2 eggs
  • Good chilli powder

How to do it

The haddock will be steamed in an oven. So, take a small roasting tin or pan and cover it with thickly sliced fennel bulb and the carrots. Slice up the lemon grass very thinly and scatter over the top. Chop up the ginger and 2 of the garlic cloves and scatter this over too.  Finely chop up the stalks of the coriander, keeping the leaf for later, and scatter this over. Tear up the lime leaves and add them. Add the coconut cream and the stock.

Stir it all up and then gather the carrot and fennel in the middle. Lay the fillets of haddock on top and then cook in an oven for around 20-30 minutes at 200 degrees C.

While that is cooking, finely chop the cabbage, the other cloves of garlic and the spring onions. Stir fry them with the beans in a little ground nut oil, salting to taste and adding chilli powder so it has a gentle heat.  Do not cook this too hot or the cabbage will catch and it will be inedible! Just get a little toastiness to it.

In a separate saucepan, poach a couple of eggs.

To Serve

Pile the cabbage in the middle of two large bows. Place the carrots and fennel on top and then the fish. Ladle the stock out round the edge. Top with an egg and chopped coriander.

And that is your lot. Quick, easy, warming and delicious. Healthy too!

Well! What a pretty loaf!

Oat, seed, rye and bran
Oat, seed, rye and bran

Today I decided to have a little bit of cupboard fun with my regular loaf. I am now baking every time we need bread so it has completely dropped off the shopping list to be replaced by flour.

This loaf used more or less my normal quantities, but I dug around in the cupboard to see what else I could throw in. So, ingredients wise, I ended up with this (more or less)

  • 450 grams strong white flour
  • 50 grams rye flour
  • fist full of bran
  • palm full of mixed seeds (sunflower and so on)
  • big fist full of oats
  • 1 tsp salt

I then mixed up 2 tsp dried active yeast into 350 mil of warm water and 50 mil of milk

Once that had got going and had a good froth on it, I added it to the above ingredients in my Kenwood Chef Major Titanium Stand Mixer, added a small glug of Mosto Naturale Extra Virgin Olive Oil and set it to mix with the dough hook for about 7 minutes.

Depending on how absorbent your flour is, you might need to add a little more flour as it mixes, but the dough should definitely be on the wet side.

Once done, leave it to rise till it has doubled in size. That could be anything between 1 hour in a warm room to two or three hours in a cold one. You could even leave it all night in the fridge!

Once risen, knock back gently on a counter that has been lightly oiled and put in a baking tin. Again let it double in size, but definitely no further!

Bake it in a pre-heated oven at 200 Celsius for about 30 minutes and then tip it out onto a rack to cool.

Bolt the door of the kitchen so you still have bread waiting when you come back!

What does it taste like?

Don’t know yet ….

Another view
Another view
Definitely worth three pics
Definitely worth three pics
Lentil and Vegetable Soup
Warm, spicy and filling

There is something gratifying about returning home on a blustery autumnal day and warming up your tunny with a big bowl of thick, spicy soup. The only let down is that this is still August and it is not meant to be autumnal at all!

But, through fair weather and foul, as they say….

This is an easy dish and low priced so there is precious little excuse. I have made this with red lentils since that was what was in the cupboard. Likewise, the vegetables chosen are what happened to be in the fridge. So, this is very much a larder recipe – vary it according to what you have in stock.

 Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground nut oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 small lump ginger
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock if you prefer)
  • 1 chili
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup chopped coriander
  • Salt and black pepper

Cook it!

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil and gently fry the spices. Make sure they do not burn!

Add finely chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chili and cook till the onion is just turning colour – do not brown it too much as that wont work as well.

Stir in the lentils, carrots, celery and stock. Bring to the boil and turn down to simmer till the lentils are properly cooked. You might need to add more stock if it is too thick.

Add the peas and the coriander and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

If you want it spicier, increase the spice levels and you might want to drizzel some chili oil over the bowls of soup.

This east Asian inspired dish was inspired by people on TV complaining that Seven a Day was unaffordable and impossible to do. It is simple, tasty and does not take too long to cook. Here is a walk-through recipe:

Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with chopped vegetable broth

Summary: Roast marinated pork tenderloin served on a bed of root vegetables and a rich stock soup

Ingredients

  • One tenderloin
  • 300 grams swede
  • 150 grams celeriac
  • 150 grams carrot
  • 750ml pork stock (cubes is fine)
  • 1 – 2 pak choi
  • Mangetout
  • 3 lime leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 stick fresh lemon grass
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon five spice
  • 2 table spoons of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy
  • 1 tablespoon light soy
  • 20 thin slices mooli (chinese radish)

Instructions

  1. Smother the pork with the dark soy and five spice and set aside to marinate for a while – heat the oven to 200c
  2. Peel and dice the swede, celeriac and carrot and boil till just tender
  3. Bring the stock to the boil and add ginger, lime leaves, garlic, lemon grass, fennel, light sow and fish sauce. Boil to reduce slightly and you are happy with the taste. Keep on a simmer.
  4. Put the pork in the oven and roast till it is just cooked through – about 65 degrees celcius internal temperature which should take about 25 minutes. Once roasted, set aside somewhere warm.
  5. Boil some water and quickly cook chopped pak choi and the mangetout.
  6. In a large bowl, put a pile of the cubed veg in the middle. Surround with a couple of generous ladles of the stock, or more if you wish. Put a pile of the green veg on top of the cubed veg. Slice the pork and lay a portion on top. Decorate with thin slices of fresh, raw mooli and chopped coriander.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Diet tags: Low calorie

Number of servings (yield): 3

Calories: 300 per portion

Use very ripe tomatoes
Use very ripe tomatoes

I make passata when the tomatoes are exceptional; anything less and I might as well buy it, to be honest.

But when the tomatoes are as they have been this long and fine summer, I would be a fool to do anything other than spend an hour or so slicing through the lush red flesh of the best of Italian Pomodoro, warming them gently with home grown basil, no salt or sugar, crushing them sensitively with my passata machine from Seeds of Italy, and sieving them to leave the thick, wonderful flesh.

Am I overdoing it? Of course not!