The Shed

If I can't eat it I don't want to know. Unless it gets me drunk.

Month: June, 2010

Slow roast, anchovy marinated lamb leg

A low risk, cook-it-for-ages-and-it’s-still-pink leg of lamb that offers big returns for little effort. The image above was taken about two thirds of the way through the cooking, so the finished result is a little more lip-stickingly caramelised and gooey on top. I use Marky Market for my lamb, and it’s second to none.

The night before

1 small tin of anchovies, complete with oil
2tbsp white wine vinegar
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs of rosemary, just the needles, finely chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
I leg of lamb, as good as you can afford.

Mix all of the ingredients together, and smush a bit to break up to anchovies and bruise some flavour out of the onion. Make some slits in the fat of the lamb, being careful not to damage the flesh, and rub all over with the marinade. It’s important not to use salt at this stage as it can toughen up the meat. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge overnight – you can do this in the baking tray, as it’s going straight into the oven.

One the day

Take the lamb out of the fridge an hour before cooking to get it up to room temperature, and heat the oven as high as it will go.

Being careful not to dislodge too much of the tasty marinate, cover the lamb with a good slug of olive oil and a generous amount of salt, and add a whole garlic bulb sliced in two lengthways to the baking tray, as a pungent little cushion to the meat. Put into the oven, and immediately turn the temperature down to gas mark 1.5.

After 40 minutes, pour a small glass of wine and a small glass of water over the lamb, being careful to baste the whole thing. Return to the oven for 3-4 hours, basting every 30-45 minutes. After your 3-4 hours is up, turn the temperature up to gas mark 3, sprinkle with a tbsp of sugar and cook for one final hour, basting half way through.

Wrap in foil and tea towels and rest for ONE WHOLE HOUR, while you prat about with your accompaniments and reduce the sauce. Slice and serve, covered in the tasty juices. It should be a very light pink throughout without any runny blood, and the outside should be sticky and amazing. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Perfect poached salmon

This is a great way of cooking salmon portions – as many as you like – and works EVERY time. It also gives you a great deal of ‘faff time’, which is exceedingly accomodating for a fish dish.

You need a cooking liquor made of 3 parts water and one part white wine, a handful of fresh tarragon/parsley/lemon thyme/all three, a finely chopped white onion and a finely chopped celery stick, loads of black pepper, a teaspoon of salt, and a couple of whole star anise.

You want enough of the above to generously cover your salmon portions (filleted, not steaks), of which you need one per person. Start heating the liquid over a medium heat, and as soon as it’s tepid, add the salmon portions skin side down. Put on a lid, and when the water starts to ripple – a minute or two before boiling point – turn off the heat and forget about it. THAT’S IT. It will take at least 15 minutes for the fish to finish cooking, but will remain eating temperature for around an hour, giving you plenty of time to faff about elsewhere. Easy peasy, and cooked to perfection.

Double whammy

Due to reasons [mainly] beyond my own control, I found myself lacking spending money for my imminent holiday. With the exception of my beloved pans and knives I have no possessions worth selling so we embarked on a small profit-making weekend in The Shed. Massive, huge thanks to everyone who came, I will think of you while I’m sipping prosecco and eating the finest of Sicilian seafood.

We started with watercress soup (not pictured; green, liquidy, you get the idea) and homemade soda bread, below. Tasty, and importantly not too filling; there was a lot of food to come.

Saturday’s main event was poached salmon, on Sunday succulent roast lamb; along with the tasty potatoes these were far and away the dishes that received the most praise, recipes to follow. Both came with crushed and roasted Anya potatoes, marsh samphire, honeyed carrots, and English asparagus. Sauces hollandaise with the salmon and béarnaise with the lamb. There was A LOT of whisking.

A good old-fashioned Eton Mess for pud – homemade meringue, vanilla cream, blueberries, strawbs and raspberries.
Aaaaand finally, a plate of Neal’s Yard Dairy’s finest; Kirkham’s Lancashire, Dorstone, and Colston Bassett Stilton. Served with Peter’s Yard crisp breads, oatcakes, chutney, grapes, Cotswolds honey.

We topped off each afternoon with Jasmine tea, proper coffee, macaroons and chocolates (bought…I’m not that good). It was great to see faces old and new, and we look forward to inviting you all back for a Sicilian inspired BBQ by way of thanks. The suggested donation was £17, though many kindly left a little extra.

Massive, biggest, most grateful thanks to the boy, who despite having his holiday dosh tucked safely away spent the weekend washing up so that I might earn a crust. You is the best.

Riverford’s magical travelling kitchen


If a relaxed, communal dinner in a beautiful yurt set within one of London’s lovely city farms is your idea of fun, book yourself a place at the Riverford Travelling Kitchen. Here’s how the evening went;


A starter of fantastic breads, dippy type bits, and super fresh crudités. The dips; one beetrooty, a sweet, Harissa-esque yoghurty concoction, and a hummus. The beetroot was my favourite – simple but uber delicious, and the harissa-yoghurty thing was also scrumptious. The hummus was okay but not as tasty as
my efforts earlier that day. Please note; I’m not in the throes of some 2-portions-a-day addiction, I just didn’t know hummus was going to be on the menu.


As you’d expect from meal at Riverford the highlights of the main course came from the vegetable dishes, but the lamb was tender and flavoursome, having been studded with herbs and garlic. Out of the vegetable dishes – see boards above for the full menu – the two that stood out for me were the tenderest broad beans nestling in a zingy salad, and some very fresh, perfectly cooked asparagus adorned simply with parmesan. Vegetables require an awful lot of respect and Jane Baxtor and her team have that in spades.


There was quite a selection of puds on offer and naturally I opted for the stodgiest, most fattening one with which custard was a must. A sweet-but-tart combo of rhubarb and plums, with a biscuity, oaty crumble; not quite the best I’ve ever had but pretty damn close. There was also a stunning blueberry pavlova on offer, a pear and almond tart, and a gooey, sticky chocolate brownie; something, I think you’ll agree, for everyone. Unless you don’t like puddings, in which case I have no time for you.
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All in all a lovely evening in beautiful surrounds. My only criticism is of their their wine list which contains nothing English; a crying shame given the (generally excellent) provenance of their produce. And the price tag; £25.50, plus (reasonably priced – if a little too well travelled) drinks. A bargain if you ask me.

Chorizo topped hummus

I recently cooked a tapas menu for a private party and thanks to my own scatterbrained demeanour now have a (big) surplus of cooking chorizo. This recipe is hardly splitting the atom, but it took me more attempts than I’m happy to admit to perfect my hummus so thought it might be worth sharing. I prefer a zingy, lemony hummus which makes a particularly good partner to the salty, savoury nuggets of chorizo. If anyone has any bright ideas for other chorizo recipes, please let me know!

Chorizo topped hummus, to serve 4 as a starter

1 can chickpeas, drained but with some liquid reserved
1-2 cloves garlic, depending on how stinky you like it
1tbsp tahini
2tbsp olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1tsp salt
200g cooking chorizo, sliced
Small handful fresh choped parsley

Whiz the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a blender until smooth, and taste. Add more of whatever you think it needs – if it’s very thick you might want to add a little bit of the chickpea liquid, or more olive oil.

Fry the chorizo in a dry pan until nice and crisp. Chuck the hummus on a plate, top with the chorizo and a good drizzle of its oil, sprinkle with chopped parsley and get dipping. Yum.

Spanish stew

Above are the remains of a tapas dinner, crammed into my lunch box. One of these days I’ll bother to take photos of the food looking all pretty, but I’ll still be using a camera phone so there’s not much point.

The brown, unappetising, indeterminate lumps were actually bloody delicious; here’s the recipe.

Chicken & Olive Stew

To serve 4-6 as a main course, 10-12 as part of a tapas feast.

Good slug of olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
8 boneless free range chicken thighs, trimmed of skin and particularly large bits of fat
2tsp smoked paprika
1-2 handfuls of green olives, depending on love of olives and size of hands

2 ladles of good chicken stock
S&P to taste

Heat oven to gas mark 7.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, and fry the onions and peppers with a bit of salt and pepper, over a medium heat. As they start to get quite soft, add the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Transfer to a wide baking dish. Fry the chicken in the same pan until slightly golden brown, and add to the baking dish along with the paprika, olives and stock. Cover with foil, and stick in the oven. After 20 minutes, give everything a stir, turn the oven down to gas mark 3, cover once more and leave to cook for around an hour. Adjust the seasoning as you see fit – go easy on the salt before tasting as the olives add quite a bit.

Serve with….whatever you fancy. Crusty bread, veggie paella, chips; it’s all good.

Pork Scratchings


As a little present in a recent order, my friendly neighbourhood meat-n-fish home delivery man (Marky Market) gave me a giant piece of pig skin. I don’t know what you can do with pig skin except make pork scratchings, but let’s be honest; they’re so delicious you wouldn’t want to do anything else anyway.
So easy, but so bad for you – don’t try this at home too often.

Cut your pig skin into wide, short strips, salt both sides and leave in the fridge for a few days.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Lay the strips side by side on a rack above a baking tray, add more salt, and cook in the hot oven for 30 minutes. Pour away the excess fat (or keep for frying), and turn the oven down to 160 degrees for another 30 minutes cooking. Pour off the fat once more, reduce the temperature to around 120 degrees, and cook for a further hour. They should be crisp, very crunchy, and not in the slightest bit chewy. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a bit more salt (soooooooo bad for you), and leave to cool completely. They’re delicious as they are, but you could add a bit of paprika, fenugreek and chilli for an exotic twist.

And here they are, in the shape of a gun. Magic.

Summer Rolls!

I was lucky recently to be joined in the kitchen by Su Lin Lewis, a Latitudinal Cuisine pro with some serious knowledge of all things south east Asian under her belt. On the day we were blessed with beautiful sunshine adding an extra layer of pleasure and authenticity to our summer rolls – here’s the menu.
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Prawn Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce & Crispy ‘Seaweed’
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Singapore Yu Sheng / Raw Fish Salad
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Thai Red Prawn Curry with Red Rice
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Coconut Panacotta with Lime & Lemongrass Syrup
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Homemade Lime-ade
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£11 a head
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I urge EVERYONE to have a go at making their own summer rolls for they are deceptively easy and even better than the ones you get on Kingsland Road. All you need is rice papers (from any oriental supermarket), cooked prawns, vermicelli noodles, and all or a selection of the following, nicely shredded; spring onion, carrot, cucumber, holy basil, coriander, mint, bean sprouts, iceberg lettuce. METHOD Soak a rice paper in luke warm water, brush off the excess then put a neat pile of your filling in the middle. Fold in the sides, then roll the whole thing up from bottom to top. See below for an approximation of Su Lin’s fantastic, addictive dipping sauce – you’ll have to wait until she writes her book for the real deal.
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Yu Sheng is a dish most commonly served to celebrate Chinese New Year in Singapore. The components – raw salmon, raddish, carrot, cucumber, various nuts, seeds, and herbs – are placed into a large bowl, but not mixed together. The bowl is presented to the table, and everyone must get their chop sticks in the bowl and mix while a tangy dressing is poured in, and chant Lo Hei which means good luck and prosperity. Fresh and zingy, this was perfect for the summery afternoon.
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Though I have eaten many, I had never before made a panna cotta, and they are so spectacularly simple that I’m tempted to make them for every dessert from this moment on, for ever and ever and ever. For the sauce I used Violet’s Curds’ Lemongrass and Lime curd as a base, which I simply lengthened with a bit more lime juice and a smidge of water.
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Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, enough for 4-6
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Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli
1/2 jar crunchy peanut butter
2-3 tbsp hoisin sauce
3tbsp tamarind water
4tbsp vegetable or chicken stock
Squeeze of lime
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Fry the garlic and chilli in some oil until it starts to soften, then add the remaining ingredients and let it all bubble for a few minutes. Taste, and add a little more of what you fancy.
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Coconut Panna Cotta – makes 4-6
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400ml double cream
250ml full fat coconut milk
Sugar, to taste
5 leaves of gelatine
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Soak the gelatine leaves in a couple of tablespoons of cold water.
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Heat the cream and milk until simmering point, then add sugar to taste – the finished pud will taste pretty much as it does now once set, though if ummming and ahhhing about whether it’s sweet enough, add a touch more sugar as it’s slightly less so once chilled. Add the gelatine mixture to the hot cream and mik, whisk vigorously, then pour into individual moulds – proper dariole moulds are best if you want to turn the panna cotta onto plates. Chill for at least 6 hours.
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To serve; dip the moulds into hot water for 3 seconds – no longer – and invert your pud onto a plate. Devour!