Tagliata di manzo

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A Cut Above

Steak Frites is of course a Belgian institution, arguably the national dish along with Moules Frites. It is certainly a well established Friday night tradition in our household, not every week, but maybe once or twice a month as a treat. Fortuitously our local butchers have a Friday special – two huge steaks for £15 from a choice of Sirloin, Rump, Fillet or our cut of choice – Rib Eye.

My walk home from work takes me straight past the butchers door and it is now almost hard wired into my subconscious to pop in on a Friday to pick up a couple of steaks. It wasn’t until I got home this week that I realised that, dare I say it, I was a little bored of Steak Frites. Yes it is a wondrous dish, but like anything you indulge in too often, the magic wears off. So it was that I turned instead to our regular summer steak alternative – Tagliata di manzoContinue reading

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Gentse Waterzooi

Waterzooi

A traditional Flemish Chicken stew

I haven’t added a Belgian recipe for a while, so I thought it was high time to cook one of the classics – Waterzooi. It’s a nice recipe for this time of year when the weather is a little unpredictable, a comforting dish but surprisingly delicate and relatively light – delicious rain or shine.

Waterzooi originates from Ghent in Flanders and would have traditionally been made with fresh water fish, but this variation containing chicken is now more common and is a great example of the sociology of food – the change in recipe indirectly caused by one of the first recorded acts of industrial espionage.  Continue reading

Chili con Carne y Frijoles

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With apologies to Texas

You may suspect, by now, that the chief ingredients of all chili are fiery envy, scalding jealousy, scorching contempt and sizzling scorn. ” – H. Allen Smith

There are so many brilliant quotes about Chili con Carne, the one above comes from maybe not the definitive, but certainly one of the funniest articles ever written on the subject. Another favourite is “”In Texas, four things temporal are held inviolate — women, states’ rights, a cattle brand, and chili.” – Joe Cooper

(A quick note on the language used below – when I say Chili I am referring to the dish Chili con Carne, when I say Chilli I am referring to the fruit, and yes they are a fruit not a vegetable!)

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Butterflied leg of Lamb, Herb Potato Salad and Summer Vegetable Ragout

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An early showing for a summer staple

It’s not summer yet, with snow this week I’m beginning to doubt whether it is even spring , but I couldn’t wait to cook this any longer. If forced to choose a favourite roast a butterflied leg of lamb would be near the top of the list – especially when cooked on a BBQ.

It’s still a little too chilly and the weather too unpredictable to break out the BBQ just yet, but briefly roasting a butterflied leg of lamb in a conventional oven, finished with a short blast under a hot grill still produces wonderful results. The key with the lamb to my mind is a nice long marinade, a hefty slug of seasoning, a brisk roast at a high heat followed by a good rest. Continue reading

Roast Spatchcock Chicken & Chickpeas

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A Moroccan inspired Sunday Roast

The roast dinner is of course a British Institution, who doesn’t love a traditional Sunday lunch with all the trimmings? The French call us Les Rosbifs with good reason.

Whilst I will readily admit to enjoying a classic roast – especially Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Roast Forerib of Beef, there is no denying it can be time consuming and a bit of a faff, the washing up alone is enough to put me off – who wants to spend their final precious hours of weekend freedom doing the dishes?  Continue reading

Polpette al sugo di pomodoro

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A good, basic meatball recipe

Meatballs are a ubiquitous staple of the global menu, be it Turkish Koftas or Spanish Albóndigas they feature in some guise in the cuisine of practically every country, even a trip to Ikea can’t be considered a success without having tasted some Swedish Köttbullar!

The universal popularity of the meatball is easy to understand, they are economical, versatile, incredibly easy to make and yes, delicious!
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Fish Pie Marinière

Fish Pie

Making the most of Moules

A great fish pie is a thing of beauty, and I humbly submit this to be a great fish pie, a perfect blend of hearty British comfort food and Gallic flair. This is the kind of dish where you need to make double quantities as you know people will keep going back for “just one more spoon”.

To my mind any fish pie worthy of the name must contain, at a bare minimum, three varieties of fish – white, smoked and oily. Prawns are another non-negotiable addition in this household for their flavour, colour and textural contrast. It is a sad fish pie indeed that denies the diner the quiet joy of unearthing a plump prawn or two. Continue reading