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Hello and welcome to the second instalment in my week of guest blogs, today we have my favourite London raggapunk, Asher from the Spontaneous Operatic blog, here to share with you food he grew up with, and still makes regularly to this day!

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Groovin’ out on life: Jamaican Patties

Wow, would you look at that. You’ve just started reading a food blog written by a Northern punk with a palette for absolutely everything (except ready meals), and suddenly this other, completely unknown raggapunk urchin from the dirty South (… alright, London town) rocks up to spoil the party. My name’s Asher, and I’m black. I also like food. Confused yet? You shouldn’t be, really. I’m just guest-blogging as a means of doing something other than soul-destroying exams. Basically, I’m avoiding revision. Fun times.
Well, this week we have a sort of treat for you, I suppose. But it’s not really a treat, because you still have to make it yourself in order to eat it. But it’s quite easy, I mean… I can do it. And I can’t really do much of anything. This recipe is one from my childhood, I might have been born in London, but I’m more cultured than a rastaman wi’ dem drum ‘at inna’ yard drink a Guinness punch. If you didn’t understand that, basically, I can cook all the Jamaican food my mother used to make. And this week, I’ve made some Jamaican patties. Ease up now. Taken from a place even further south than me, Cornwall – the Cornish pasty – the Jamaican pattie is essentially a cross between the pastry Devon wishes it could make and the Caribbean equivalent of a burger. Only, it’s much tastier than both of these. Jamaican patties sell in Caribbean bakeries around the various “black” areas of London (such as Peckham, Brixton and Camberwell) for over £1 a pop. That’s a rip off, don’t pay those prices, you can make 20 or more, depending on how well you can roll the dough, for much less.
Ingredients :

For the pastry :
  • 450g Flour
  • 255g Butter
  • 6tbsp Water
  • 3tbsp Ground Turmeric/Haldi
  • 2tsp Salt
  • 1 egg or 100ml milk

For the filling :

  • 500g Mince (can be beef or lamb, I prefer lamb but I use beef because it doesn’t go stodgy and fatty when cold.)
  • 2 Pointed peppers (or several baby peppers – sweeter the better)
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli pepper (I sometimes use two, depends on how spicy you like it.)
  • 1 Large onion
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 3-4 Scallions (Spring Onions)
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Allspice/pimento seeds (I have them in a grinder)
  • Stock cube
  • 1 pint boiling water
  • Tomatoes
  • 3tbsp olive oil

Some things I add sometimes :

  • Grated root ginger
  • Jerk seasoning
  • Grated sweet potato

Method : (Delivered in Asher’s unique style!, Kris)

So, what you want to do after washing your hands is measure out your flour and add the turmeric and salt to it. Then sift it to get rid of the lumps. Leave the butter to rest on the side until it’s a bit softer, then cube it and add it to the flour mix. You can either work through it with your hands repeatedly (squeeze!) or you can be lazy and use a food processor. After I started making these at ridiculously industrial levels (I’m lying.. about 40 at a time), I started to favour the food processor, and it does get the pastry to a nice consistency. Once you’ve worked the flour and butter into breadcrumbs, add your water a bit at a time and knead it until it all sticks together. Or just add the water and blitz it in your food processor. Either way, if you find it’s too sticky, add some more flour, a bit at a time. If you find it’s not sticking together, slowly add some more water. Once it is ready, you’ll notice the ball of dough is a yellow colour. That’s the turmeric. It’s how people can tell you’ve made Jamaican patties, and not Cornish pasties. Racist? I think so. Wrap the dough up in clingfilm and put it in the fridge whilst you get on with this next bit.
This is how the pastry should look when rolled out

This is how the pastry should look when rolled out

You’ll wanna’ clean the side and dry it – it will need to dry completely whilst your dough is standing in the fridge so that none of it gets stuck when you’re rolling it later. Oh, I forgot everyone else has massive kitchens with more than one side to use. Nevermind. What you’ll want to do next is heat your oil in a pan (I prefer a proper saucepan, you can do it in a frying pan or wok, but if you’re anything like me, it will fall out over the sides later). Once it’s smokin’ a lickle bit, reduce the heat and break up your mince. Put it in the pan. Hear that sizzle? Cry as it spits at you, then turn the heat down some more because that means it’s too high. Break up the mince in the pan with a spatula, make sure none of it clumps together – rubbery mince is horrible. Brown the mince slowly, but whilst keeping a close eye on it, chop up the onion and put it in with the mince as it browns, You want to finely chop everything, this isn’t vegetable stew we’re making. Cut the top off the scotch bonnet and deseed it (don’t touch the seeds! If you get your fingers in your eyes they will burn you!) by poking or dragging them out into the bin with a small knife. Finely chop the scotch bonnet (proper finely – you don’t want a chunk of that bad boy turning up), and finely chop the other veggies except for the scallions. Put all of them in the pot with the thyme and the allspice and keep stirring it at a low heat.
Boil up a pint of water, add it to your stock cube. Use lamb stock or beef stock respective of your mince. Add the stock to the saucepan and stir it, wait for the stock to be absorbed before you stop stirring. Add about a cup more water and simmer it until the water has reduced down. Add the scallions and stir them in. Taste it to see if you like it. Cry if you don’t like it. Tell all your friends you have tasty food and they don’t if you do like it. Delight in their dismay. Tell your mum about it and be annoyed as she picks at it whilst you do the next step.
Filling for the patties, simmering away

Filling for the patties, simmering away

Leave the filling to cool down with a lid on it. That won’t stop your mum, but it keeps flies and whatever else out of it. Once it has cooled down, get your dough out of the fridge and unwrap it. Cut the ball of dough into four quarters. Roll one quarter in your hands for a bit until it’s a bit easier to manipulate, but don’t get it hot – hot dough doesn’t like you. Stop beating away your mum’s hand from the pot with your trusty rolling pin and use it to roll the dough with flour underneath and a bit on top of the dough to keep it from sticking. When you roll the dough, turn it around occasionally to stop it from sticking. Roll it to about the thickness of a pound coin. With a quarter of a ball, you should be able to get 5 rounds, but you might have to reroll the bits and bobs. Cut around a saucer with a knife to make a circle of dough. Cut many of these out and put them aside. Put some greaseproof paper onto a baking tray and preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. I’m not sure what this is in gas marks, because we bought a gas oven so we’d have gas marks, and for some reason, it uses temperatures in degrees. I think it might be gas mark six, but don’t quote me on that.
Put a generous dollop of mixture onto a round, just off-center, making sure it doesn’t touch the edge. Dip your fingers (after you’ve washed them, you filthy bastard) into some cold water, and run them around the edge of the round. Fold the round over, press it down a bit to form a seal, then use a fork to secure the seal and make a pattern around the edge. Then use the same fork to poke two holes in the top of the pattie for ventilation purposes. Fans of microwave dinners, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Just don’t stab the shit out of it.
Haha, shit stabber.
Once you’ve got a trayful of patties, get a small pastry brush and brush them with milk or egg. Or both. Just a bit though, you don’t want them being soggy. Slap them in the oven for 20 minutes. Make another trayful whilst you’re waiting. When the patties are cooked, they should be a shiny golden yellow colour. Take them out and they will harden once you leave them to cool down on a wire rack or something. Then eat them. Not all of them, leave some for mum. And that’s all there is to it!
Asher Baker, artisan baker

Asher Baker, artisan baker

Rolling the pastry was the hardest part for me, initially, getting it the right thickness and making sure it didn’t tear because it was too thin. If in doubt, make it a bit thicker than a pound coin to start with, you’ll soon get the hang of it. Remember to clean up once you’ve finished, or else mum will be cross with you. Then take the patties to a Sonic Boom Six gig, and feed them to Laila K to make her fat. The system works.
If you do make these patties, let me know! I would like to know if anyone has any alternative fillings they like to put in! Sometimes I like to use ackee and saltfish instead, but that’s a recipe for another day.
All fruits ripe, Punkchef. Bless.
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Well, after staying up till the small hours, following the election coverage, I’ve been shattered all day, yet, because I’m so nice, I’ve pushed myself to cook something tasty and then blog about it for you all. I’m generous like that. Yes, I’ll work myself into an early grave just so I can get another blog out. Such is my addiction to writing this blog!

I spent ages mooching around Preston today, looking in the market, at all the stalls, had a couple of oysters at one of the stalls, that was lovely. I gave in, went to the library to look through some cookbooks to try and inspire me, went out with no inspiration, and inspiration finally struck when I was stood at a greengrocers, next to a butchers. The two things I saw at the same time, leek and chicken. So it was decided, Chicken and Leek Pie should be my tea tonight!

I know people will complain, just like when I made the Cheese and Onion Pie, but I didn’t make the pastry from scratch. I’m far too tired to much about with all that effort. I just got shortcrust pastry mince from the weigh and save shop in Preston. Nice guy, but tried to get me to buy carrot cake mix. I know it’s kinda hypocritical from someone using instant pastry mix, but I’ll not buy instant cake mix to which I only have to add water. He said that if I made it, I would just have to invite a girl round for the carrot cake, and she’d be mine… so if any girls fancy some carrot cake, leave a comment! 😉

Chicken and Leek Pie

Ingredients :

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 pint of milk
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • bay leaf
  • sprigs of thyme
  • sprigs of marjoram
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 20g butter
  • 20g plain flour
  • shortcrust pastry (either home made, ready made, or instant pastry mix)
  • 1 egg

Method :

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a pan, with the onion, bay leaf, thyme, and marjoram. Cover with a pint of milk, and simmer for an hour on the lowest light possible (to avoid the milk catching) with a lid on.
  2. Whilst the chicken thighs are poaching, slice and sweat the leeks in a little oil and butter. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. Once sweated, drain from the oil and butter, and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Remove the chicken thighs from the poaching milk, and shred, discarding the skin.
  4. Strain the herbs and onion from the poaching milk into a jug, skim as much of the fat which will settle at the top as possible.
  5. Make a roux, by gently melting the butter, and then adding the flour, beating vigorously to cook out the flour.
  6. Gradually add the poaching milk to the roux, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Check for seasoning, chicken and leek go well with a good bit of black pepper. Add some more marjoram.
  7. Line a pie dish with the shortcrust pastry, and add the chicken and leek filling. Then pour over the white sauce.
  8. Add a pastry lid, slash so that the steam can escape.
  9. Whisk an egg , and then use to glaze the pastry.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 200 degrees celsius/gas mark 4.

I’m having mine with chips, if I was feeling less tired, I’d probably make some mash and serve it with some asparagus… infact, when I made the cheese and onion pie, I was tired then, too! Hmm, I keep doing this to myself.

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I think it’s only fair that I take a break once in a while, even though this month long (almost) break wasn’t planned, I feel like I’ve earned it. It’s not as if I’ve been resting on my laurels during this break, my dad went into hospital (nothing serious, don’t worry!) so I’ve spent the past fortnight looking after him, as he had tonsils out, I was cooking, but I was cooking mush,  nothing exciting enough to blog about that. So yeah, even though I’ve enjoyed not worrying about cooking something to blog about, it’s nice to be back with a blog!

I didn’t actually expect to be back today, no. Until earlier I had no money, and no food in the house. But my dad decided to bugger off for a bit, and gave me some money to get some food, I hopped into Kirkham, and found there was a farmers and craft market in the square, and had a look around. It was pretty good, a bunch of hippy crap such as dream catchers, and joss sticks, and other crap to make people more spiritual (Ok, I’m a ruddy sceptic, get over it. But joss sticks won’t make you more spiritual, they’ll make your front room smell a bit pleasant after cooking something smelly, but that’s it)

One of the stalls was a greengrocers, a bit of a Del Boy, he bought gold for cash, heh. But on his stall he had 2 things which inspired my recipe tonight, wild garlic, and fresh beetroot! Now then, wild garlic, GET IT WHILST YOU CAN! It only has a season of about 6 weeks, and we’re currently in the 3rd week of the season! So get it whilst you can! It’s not cheap, but if you can forage it, it’s free.

So now I’ve walked the 3 mile hike up and down hills, come home, cooked my tea, and before I settle down to watch Doctor Who, I’ll share my risotto with you!

Beetroot and Wild Garlic Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 4 raw beetroots
  • Handful (6 leaves) of wild garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 250g Risotto rice
  • Splash of white wine, or dry vermouth
  • Chicken or Vegetable stock, kept warm
  • 50g Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 5 Sprigs of Thyme
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil

Method:

  1. Finely slice the onions, and gently sweat in a mixture of butter and olive oil.
  2. Add the thyme and continue to sweat down.
  3. Peel the beetroots, and dice into small cubes. Add the diced beetroot to the pan, and continue to sweat for a further 10 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the rice, and stir and gently fry for a few minutes with the onion and beetroot.
  5. Add a splash of white wine into the pan, at this point the kitchen will smell beautiful. I guarantee it.
  6. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, and slowly add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring constantly, adding a ladle when the stock has been absorbed.
  7. When all the stock has been added to the risotto, the rice is tender, and the beetroot slightly al denté, shred the wild garlic and stir through the risotto.
  8. Grate about 30g of the Parmesan cheese and stir into the risotto.
  9. Serve with an extra grating of Parmesan on the top.

One thing I forgot to get was Lancashire Crumbly Cheese, which is brilliant, crumbled on the top of a beetroot risotto, if slightly unconventional!

Hooray for pink food!

Hooray for pink food!

Nom

Nom

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Yeah, puns are absolutely hillarious. Got to love them.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted up a blog, and I’m sorry, that is incredibly rude of me, and I do apologise. My only excuse is that I’ve been rather pre-occupied with various other projects as of late, and I apologise profusely!!

Right then, I’ll upload a few new recipes over the next few days, I’m still sans-camera, so you’ll have to imagine what the food looks like yourself, but trust me, I won’t post anything on here if it’s not delicious!

A few weeks ago I nipped down to my local Morrissons with £2 to get something to eat for my tea, expecting to maybe pick up a pack of pasta and some sauce, or something equally uninspiring, imagine the surprise when I saw in the reduced section of the supermarket diced venison for only 99p. I rubbed my eyes and looked again, it was still 99p. It still had a week and a half before it reached it’s used by date too!! As you can imagine, I snapped it up, and picked up a leek and some mushrooms whilst I was at it… I had the rest of the ingredients I would need for a delicious Venison and Red Pepper Stew at home! Here we go then!!

Venison and Red Pepper Stew

(Serves 2 as a main meal)

Ingredients:

  • 300g diced venison
  • 2tbsp flour
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 leek
  • 2 large field mushrooms
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 250ml red wine
  • Sprig of thyme

Method:

  1. Pat diced venison dry with kitchen paper and toss with flour.
  2. Heat olive oil in a casserole dish and quickly brown the venison all over.
  3. Add sliced onion and crushed garlic clove until golden.
  4. Add finely sliced red pepper, sliced leek and sliced field mushrooms, and cook until vegetables start to soften.
  5. Pour in the beef stock and red wine, bring to the boil, cover and then leave to simmer gently for about 2 hours, or until the venison is tender.
  6. Alternatively simmer in the oven at 160C/Gas Mark 3 for the same amount of time.
  7. Top up with extra stock or water as necessary.
  8. Serve with mash and steamed brocolli.

I’d recommend drinking this with the same wine that you put in, or a nice ruby ale!

  • 1 leek

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