corned beef

Corned / Salt Beef

Corned beef gets its unique flavour and texture by first soaking in a salt bath and then being gently poached. It’s terribly old fashioned, but this is a very good version.

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus soaking time
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves 6

1.5–2 kg piece corned or salt beef (silverside)
2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 carrots, cut into 5 cm pieces
2 bay leaves
1 stick celery
handful of parsley stalks
6–8 whole black peppercorns
1/2 star anise (optional, but good)

To serve
12 small carrots
12 small potatoes, scrubbed
1 small cabbage, halved, core removed and cut into 4 cm wedges
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
mustard-flavoured mayonnaise (see note below)

Soak the corned beef in a very large saucepan of cold water for 3–4 hours (or up to 12 hours). Drain, return the beef to the saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh cold water.

Add the onion, carrot, bay leaves, celery, parsley stalks, peppercorns and star anise, if using. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 2 1/2 hours. Check every now and then and skim the fat from the surface. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and discard. Leave the beef in the poaching liquid and chill until needed.

3 To serve, strain  the poaching liquid into a large saucepan or deep saute pan and bring to the boil. Add the carrots, potatoes and cabbage and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender. Slice the beef into 1 cm thick pieces and add to the liquid. Simmer until heated through.

4 Transfer the beef to large pasta bowls and surround with the vegetables. Ladle on a little hot poaching liquid and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with a dollop of mustard-flavoured mayonnaise.

Really useful …
To make mustard mayonnaise, stir 1–2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon lemon juice into 250 ml homemade or good-quality bought mayonnaise. Taste and add extra mustard to suit your taste.

Corned beef is easily reheated. Save some poaching liquid and simmer the beef in the liquid until warmed through. Cook any fresh vegetables in a separate pan of boiling salted water.

jap gyosa

Pork Gyoza

I recently spent a day in a Japanese kitchen. Aya, my teacher, made making the gyoza dumpling look effortless; my slow and steady process took twice the time, but still tasted ok. Aya’s mum always salts and rinses the cabbage before using, but we found it worked ok without this step.

Pork Gyoza

150g pork mince
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tsp sake
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Pinch of ground white pepper
24 gyoza or gowgee wrappers
2 tsp peanut oil
Japanese soy sauce, to serve

Combine the pork, cabbage, green onion, garlic, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, caster sugar and pepper in a medium bowl. Place a gyoza wrapper on a clean work surface. Spoon a heaped teaspoonful of pork mixture onto the centre of the wrapper. Brush the edge with a little water. Fold over to enclose the filling. Use your fingertips to pleat the edge 4- 5 times. Place on a plate. Repeat with remaining pork mixture and wrappers.
Heat the peanut oil in a large frying pan over high heat until just smoking. Remove from heat. Arrange dumplings over the base of the frying pan. Return to the heat and cook for 2 minutes or until the base of the dumplings are golden. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup water evenly over the gyozas. Cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes or until gyozas are cooked and the water evaporates. Serve with soy sauce. Makes 24

gyoza 2

Spicy Suppers

Hints of chilli, lime, lemon, garlic, ginger and curry add a punch of flavour to these autumn inspired dishes. Eating healthily never tasted so good!

Vietnamese fish curry

400g skinless white fish fillet, cut into big chunks
handful snow peas
1 large red chilli, finely sliced
2cm piece ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
pinch sugar
200ml chicken or fish stock
2 limes, 1 juiced, 1 halved
about 2 tbsp fish sauce, to season
150g rice vermicelli, cooked following pack instructions
coriander leaves
2 spring onions, sliced

Put the fish cubes with the snow peas, chilli, ginger and garlic in a large saucepan. Add the stock and a pinch of sugar and bring gently to a simmer then add the juice of 1 lime. As soon as the fish turn opaque, stir in the coriander and season with fish sauce. Spoon over bowls of rice noodles and serve extra lime to squeeze over. Serves 2

Spicy chickpeas and couscous

1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cups boiling water or stock
3tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
4 spring onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
3 zucchini, sliced
1 long red chilli, sliced
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place the couscous in a medium-sized heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water or stock. Add 1tbsp oil and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and stand for 5 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.
Meanwhile, fry the butternut squash, spring onions and garlic in the remaining oil for about 5 minutes, then add the zucchinis and chilli. Continue to fry for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Stir through the chickpeas, cumin and curry powder. Fold in the couscous and cook, stirring, until heated through. Stir in the parsleys and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Fluff with a fork to help separate the grains. Serves 4

Spiced Tuna with Rice

2tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tsp grated fresh ginger
1tbsp korma paste
A pinch dried chilli flakes
250g (1 1/4 cups) basmati rice
250ml (1 cup) hot vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
2 x 180g tins of tuna in oil

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, capsicum, garlic and ginger, and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and dried chilli. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes, until well coated. Add the stock and lemon juice and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 15 minutes, or until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
Stir though the spinach leaves and the tuna as well as its oil, then fluff the rice up with a fork. Serves 4

Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

pizza tom mozarella

You can make the pizza dough up to 12 hours before you want to make it and let it rise slowly in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook, punch the dough down to get rid of any air, then knead and roll it out into shape. The less topping you add, the crisper the pizza. Make sure the oven has reached the right temperature – the dough needs a blast of heat to set the crust.

Pizza base

350 g strong white bread flour
1 x 7 g sachet (two teaspoons) dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the flour, yeast, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, add oil and 210ml of just warm water and mix until a firm dough forms. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5–7 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can put all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat, using a dough hook for about 7 minutes, then knead for a minute or two.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 1–11/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch down the dough to release the air, divide into two or three equal portions and either roll out or stretch to a thickness of about 4 mm.

Mozzarella and tomato pizza

cornmeal or polenta, for sprinkling
1/2 quantity pizza dough
EV olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
250g mozzarella, sliced or torn into pieces
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
rocket or basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 220°C (Gas Mark 7). Lightly oil a metal pizza tray and sprinkle with a little cornmeal. Roll out or stretch the dough to a thickness of 4 mm and place on the tray.
Brush the pizza dough with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped garlic. Scatter the mozzarella and cherry tomatoes over the top and season well. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp. Top with a handful of lightly dressed salad leaves or basil leaves and serve immediately. Makes 1


Favourite Tomato Salad

Beg borrow or steal the best tomatoes you can find for this recipe and try to combine a few different varieties and colours. My grandmother taught me to place the sliced or cut tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. Mix well and leave them to drip off any excess liquid for about 30 minutes (all excess salt should drip off). Then use them in salads.

Favourite tomato salad

4 thick slices rustic Italian-style bread
1 clove garlic, flattened with a knife
750g (1½lb) ripe tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 long red chilli, deseeded and chopped (optional)
1tsp capers (optional, but good)
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tsp balsamic vinegar
basil leaves

Toast the bread, rub each slice with the crushed garlic clove and then break into bite-size pieces. Combine the tomatoes, chilli (if using), capers (if using), any remaining garlic and bread and place in a bowl.
Combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over the salad. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir well then leave the salad for 10-15 minutes. Serve scattered with basil leaves. Serves 4

asparagius 1

Roast Asparagus

One of the few vegetables we still eat more or less seasonally is asparagus. Fresh asparagus has firm, crunchy, vibrant spears. Hold the spear at either end and snap it; the break will take place where the tough part becomes tender. Discard the ends, as they will be often be too dry or tough to eat. I love it roasted as this slightly chars and caramelises the spears and brings out flavours you can lose by boiling it. I always pop some in the oven while a roast chicken or leg of lamb is resting. Use the thicker spears when roasting.

Olive oil
Garlic (optional)
Lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (optional)

Trim the asparagus. The easiest way is to hold the spear at either end and snap it; the break will take place where the tough part becomes tender. Lay the asparagus in a single layer in a roasting tin. Lightly drizzle or brush with some oil. Sprinkle with a little crushed garlic (optional) and season well with salt and pepper.

Roast in a preheated 200C oven for about 15 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus spears are, until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a sharp knilfe. Drizzle with a little fresh lemon juice or balsamic before serving, if desired.

tomato asparagus salad

Roasted asparagus with mozzarella

2 bunches asparagus (thick stemmed if you can find it), trimmed
1 baby cos lettuce or little gem
4 medium sized mozzarella balls (buffalo if possible)
250g Cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Lemon zest

Brush the asparagus with a little olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes in preheated 200C oven, until tender and slightly charred.

Meanwhile, place the mozzarella and cherry tomatoes into a bowl and pour over the 2 tbsp olive oil 2 tsp balsamic vinegar and the finely grated zest of half a lemon. Mix well and set aside. Separate the lettuce leaves.
Divide the lettuce leaves between four plates. Top with the warm asparagus and then top with the mozzarella, breaking them slightly into pieces, the tomatoes and the juices. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 as a light meal or entree.

grilled asparagus salad

Roasted Asparagus and Tabbouleh

150g bulgar wheat
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint
200g cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 spring onions, chopped
The juice of 1 lemon
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
100 feta, crumbled, to serve

Place the bulgar wheat in a bowl and cover with 450ml boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes then drain and squeeze out excess water by placing the drained bulgar in a clean cloth and squeeze tightly. Combine the bulgar wheat, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, spring onions and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brush the asparagus with a little olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes in preheated 200C oven, until tender and slightly charred.
When ready to serve, pour over the remaining olive oil over the salad and toss well. Divide the salad between four plates, top with the grilled asparagus and sprinkle with feta. The salad may be made and left to let the flavours develop for up to an hour before you add the oil and feta. Serves 4

Spicy garlic prawns

2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 long fresh red chillies, chopped, seeds removed
1kg large uncooked prawns, unpeeled
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
grated rind 1 lemon
2 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the prawns cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until the prawns are just cooked through.

Add the lemon juice, lemon rind and parsley to the prawn mixture and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide the prawns among serving plates and serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4

carrot soup

Easy Carrot Soup

A simple yet luxurious carrot soup recipe topped with fresh chives that takes just 10 minutes to prepare. Go on, let your hob do all the work tonight…

2tbsp olive oil
600g carrots, chopped or grated
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 1/2l chicken stock
100ml whipping cream
Chives, snipped, to serve
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the carrots, onions and celery, and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently Remove the soup from the heat and leave to cool slightly before blending until smooth.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Ladle the hot soup into teacups and spoon 1 tbsp whipped cream on each. As the soup heats the cream, it will smooth out on the top. Sprinkle with snipped chives and celery salt. Serves 4

Top tips
The soup can be made up to 2 days in advance. Serve topped with freshly whipped cream.

Leg of Lamb Recipes

A leg of lamb is a perfect for feasting; I especially love the ceremony of presenting and carving a roasted leg of lamb at the table. Many people find carving a leg of lamb a bit daunting, but it need not be. There are no hard and fast rules. To start, turn the meatiest side of the joint upwards (the bone will be on the underside). The first cut should be made across the leg at its thickest part, make a cut downwards to the bone. Remove two slices, about 5mm thick, from the centre of the leg, cutting to the bone. Continue slicing from both sides of the first cut, gradually angling the knife to obtain longer slices. Then carve the underside. To do this, turn the joint over, remove any unwanted fat and carve in long horizontal slices.

Pot roasted leg of lamb

About 1.75kg leg of lamb
olive oil
6 sprigs rosemary
1 lemon, halved
1 whole head garlic, halved
roasted vegetables, to serve

Preheat oven to 170C. Score the lamb and rub with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place the rosemary, lemon halves and garlic in the base of a roasting tin or large lidded casserole. Add the lamb on top. Add enough beef stock (or water) to a depth of 1.5cm. Cover with foil or a lid and roast for about 11/2 hours (uncover for the last 20 minutes. Add more liquid if needed.

When cooked, remove from the oven, cover and let it rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes. While it is resting, strain the juices through a sieve, discarding the lemon and garlic. Using a spoon, remove any fat from the top of the liquid and reheat just before serving. Serve the lamb with the strained pan juices. Accompany with roast vegetables. Serves 6

‘French style’ Leg of lamb with potatoes

6-8 large Desiree potatoes, scrubbed
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary, roughly chopped
30g butter
1 leg of lamb 1.6-2kg
400ml beef or chicken stock
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C. Slice the potatoes thinly (about 4mm). Layer the potatoes, onion and crushed garlic (seasoning as you go) to a depth of about 3-4cm in a lightly oiled roasting tin just large enough to hold the leg of lamb. Scatter with the rosemary and add a couple of knobs of butter.

Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and pour in enough stock to come about 3/4 of the way of the depth of the potatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes then turn the heat down to 170C for a further 60 minutes (for medium).

Remove the lamb to a warm place to rest for about ten minutes. While the lamb is resting increase the oven to 200C, then brush the potatoes with a little olive oil and put them back in the oven to crisp up. Serve the lamb with the potatoes and green vegetables. Serves 6-8

Really useful stuff

How pink do you like your leg of lamb?

Everyone has his or her own preference on how well they like their lamb cooked. More and more of us are appreciating the flavour and texture of lamb that is cooked pink rather than grey looking overcooked meat. The timings above will give you lamb cooked to medium, but if you prefer your meat a little more well done, just put it in the oven for a further 20-30 minutes.

To calculate the cooking time, weigh your lamb. Roast in a 200C oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C and allow 15 minutes for every 500g.

If you are unsure of how well the leg is cooked you can use a meat thermometer (inserted into the thickest part of the leg) to test how hot the meat is inside. As a guideline, temperature for a leg of lamb would be

Rare 45C – 50C

Medium Rare 55C – 60C

Medium 60C – 65C

Well Done 75C – 80C

photo by Nato Welton

Steak with herb butter

150g unsalted butter, diced and softened
1 small French shallot (eschallot), finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 steaks

Make the flavoured butter by placing the butter, shallot, parsley, chives, capers, mustard, lemon rind, Worcestershire sauce, salt and a good grinding of freshly ground black pepper into a small bowl. Using a fork or wooden spoon, beat the mixture until the ingredients are combined. Slowly add the lemon juice, beating as you go, until combined.

Place on a sheet of non-stick baking paper and then roll and shape the butter into a log about 4cm in diameter, twisting the ends like a cracker. Chill for about 1 hour; store any unused butter in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Place a grill pan or heavy frying pan over a high heat. Cook the steaks in the hot pan until to your liking. Place two 1cm slices of the chilled butter on each steak and pop under a hot grill until starting to melt. Serve immediately. Serves 2

" To cook the perfect steak I like to use a heavy, ribbed, grill pan, heavy frying pan or barbecue. The pan needs to be placed over a high heat and be almost smoking before the steak is added. Brushing the steak with a little olive oil (rather than brushing the pan) helps prevent smoking. Once the steak has cooked for a minute or two and nicely coloured, reduce the temperature of the pan to finish the cooking. For an average steak of about 2cm thick, for rare cook 2 minutes each side, for medium cook 3 minutes each side and for well done cook for 5-6 minutes each side. It is important to rest the meat before serving. Don’t be afraid of meat that is flecked or marbled with fat; remember fat equals flavour! "

Spice-rub steak

Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp each black peppercorns, fennel seeds, dried oregano and cayenne pepper
2 sirloin steaks
Ripe tomatoes, to serve

Using a pestle and mortar, grind the lemon rind with the garlic, peppercorns and fennel seeds until well blended. Add the oregano and cayenne and a good pinch of salt and grind together.

Lightly brush the steak with oil and rub the spice mixture on both sides. Set aside to marinate if desired. Cook in a hot pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until browned with a slight crusty coating. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for a few minutes. Serve with a tomato salad.


Tagliata with rocket and parmesan

For an average steak of about 2cm thick, for rare cook 2 minutes each side, for medium cook 3 minutes each side and for well done cook for 5-6 minutes each side. It is important to rest the meat before serving. Don’t be afraid of meat that is flecked or marbled with fat; remember fat equals flavour!

Tagliata with rocket and parmesan

2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large T bone steak or 2 rib eye or sirloin steaks
2 handfuls rocket
Shaved parmesan, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

Pound the garlic, oil and black pepper in a pestle and mortar (or mash in a bowl with back of fork) to form paste. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Rub garlic paste over both sides of steak. Cover and set aside in a cool place for 30 minutes. Wipe off the garlic paste and brush with a little extra oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook steak on a barbecue or in a ribbed frying pan over a high heat for about 3 minutes per side (depending on how you like them cooked). Transfer the steak to a plate to rest for 5 minutes.

To serve cut steak on slight angle into 1.5 cm thick slices. Arrange the rocket on a platter, then top with the slices of meat and pour over any juice from the plate.

Serve with shaved parmesan and lemon wedges. Serves 2

" As a general observation about all ingredients, but particularly chicken, you really do get what you pay for. The success of the pot roast chicken recipe depends on the quality of the ingredients used. Buy a nice large free-range or organic chicken if you can find one. "

pot roast chicken

Pot Roast Chicken

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 rashers streaky unsmoked bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, washed and sliced into rounds
2kg chicken
300ml chicken stock
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaves
8 small carrots, scrubbed

Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). Heat the oil in a large, heatproof casserole dish over medium heat and cook the bacon, garlic and leeks, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until the leeks has softened.

Add the chicken to the casserole, breast-side up, and pour in the stock to a depth of 2cm . Tuck in the thyme, bay leaf and  season the chicken with a little salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil or with a lid, and cook in the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Remove the lid add the carrots and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken and vegetables to a warm dish. Skim any fat off the pan juices. Remove the thyme and bay leaves and transfer the sauce to a jug. Serve the chicken and vegetables with the sauce. Serves 4-6

courgettes 1

Beetroot and zucchini (courgette) burgers

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 raw beetroot, grated
2 courgettes, grated
1 large carrot, grated
100g (about 4 slices) wholemeal bread, crusts removed
400g tin chickpeas, drained
3tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat about 1tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the grated vegetables and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until wilted, then drain off any liquid.

Place the bread, chickpeas, peanut butter and egg yolks in a food processor and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir through the grated vegetables and parsley, and season generously.

Form the mixture into 8 patties and chill for about 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours). Heat the remaining oil in a non-3 minutes each side until golden. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4

" The sausage roast comes from my friend Xanthe Clay and is simply a case of putting everything in one roasting tin, popping it in the oven and sitting back to relax. Within the hour you'll have a tasty, comforting midweek meal. "

roast pumpkin and sausages trimmed

Pumpkin and sausage roast

This sausage roast comes from my friend Xanthe Clay and is simply a case of putting everything in one roasting tin, popping it in the oven and sitting back to relax. Within the hour you’ll have a tasty, comforting midweek meal.

1kg pumpkin
8 large good quality sausages
2 red capsicums, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs rosemary
2-3tbsp olive oil

Peel and halve the pumpkin and discard the seeds and fibres. Cut the flesh into 2cm chunks. Put the sausages, capsicums, red onions and butternut in a large roasting tin.Scatter over the rosemary and season with salt. Drizzle with olive oil and stir the sausages and vegetables until coated.

Roast for about 40 minutes, shaking the tin occasionally, until the sausages are cooked through, and the vegetables are tender and browned. Serves 4

Easy Pea Soup

pea soup 1

Easy pea soup

preparation time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 15 minutes
serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 leek, washed and sliced into rings
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

600g fresh or frozen peas
2 tablespoons chopped mint, plus extra to serve
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, celery and leek and cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are soft, but not coloured. Add the stock, peas and mint and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Purée the soup in batches (if needed), in a blender or with a stick blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Return to the heat and serve hot, garnishised with a little extra mint.

The pea soup is good smooth or left a little more textured, if desired.

beef goulash paprika

Beef Goulash

It is the special flavour of paprika that sets aside a proper goulash. Paprika is made by drying and grinding the sweet and hot peppers grown around Hungary. It’s much milder than cayenne pepper and has a characteristic sweetness. Its flavour varies from mild to pretty robust; its main purpose is to add flavour and colour, more than heat. Look for paprika that is labelled ‘noble sweet’.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 11/4 hours
Serves 4

3 tablespoons plain flour
1 kg rump or chuck steak or lean beef, cut into 2 cm cubes
2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries, crushed
500 ml beef or chicken stock (or 500 ml water and 1 stock cube)
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Tabasco sauce
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
sour cream, to serve

Place the flour in a clean plastic bag. Shake a few pieces of meat in the bag until lightly dusted. Repeat until all the pieces of meat are coated.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the beef in batches until browned, adding a little extra oil if needed. Be careful not to overcrowd the frying pan, as the meat will then steam rather than sear. Transfer to a large casserole dish or lidded saucepan.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary and cook the onion over low heat until tender. Add the onion, paprika, bay leaf and allspice to the casserole and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.

Mix the cornflour with 50 ml cold water and add to the casserole with the tomato paste and a dash or two of Tabasco sauce. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until it thickened slightly. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with sour cream.


Boiled egg noodles dressed with a little butter, chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper make a tasty accompaniment to goulash.

Feature on thai food, prawn salad

Thai Prawn Salad

thai prawn salad 2


The best Thai salads are combinations of opposing tastes and textures. The flavour should be a balance of hot, sweet, sour and salty. Get the balance of these flavours right and you can create authentic Thai dishes at home. Use the recipes as guides – the intensity of the ingredients can vary and only your tongue can tell you how much more of something you need to add.

This Thai prawn salad is one of my favourite dishes and is adapted from a recipe by David Thompson.


Thai Prawn Salad

 20 large cooked prawns
2 red eshallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp finely sliced lemongrass
4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1-2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
large handful of mixed mint and coriander leaves

For the dressing

2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce

Peel the prawns and remove their heads and any veins, then thinly slice them.
Combine the dressing by shaking in a screw top jar until well mixed.
Mix the dressing  and sliced prawn together then  add remaining ingredients and mix gently to combine.
Season to taste. Serves 4

‘Pulled’ Lamb and ‘Pulled’ Pork

image Martin Poole

These delicious recipes work really well with the cheaper, awkward cuts like shoulder (or hand of pork). The slow cooking leaves you with meltingly tender meat that is then ‘pulled’ off the bone (or shredded) with forks.

‘Pulled’ Shoulder of Lamb (pictured)

2tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 tsp Cumin seed
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
About 1.5-2kg lamb shoulder on the bone

To serve
1/2 cup chopped fresh Flat leaf parsley and fresh mint
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
4 Anchovy fillets chopped
2 tsp Capers
Finely grated zest 1 lemon

Combine the olive oil, spices, 1 tsp sea salt and rosemary.
Trim any excess fat from the lamb and rub the spice mixture into the
meat. Marinate for up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 140C. Place the lamb in a roasting tray. Put about
1cm boiling water in the bottom of the tray and cover with foil (or a lid).
Roast for about 5 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Check every
hour and top up the water when needed.

Rest the meat then shred or pull the meat off the bone.
Stir the chopped parsley, mint, garlic, anchovy, capers and lemon zest
through the shredded meat and serve immediately. Serves 6

Chinese-style ‘Pulled Pork’

1.5 – 2kg shoulder of pork
125ml (1/2 cup) hoisin sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
2 tbsp runny honey
1/2 tsp ground five spice
1 tsp ground fresh ginger
3 spring onions. sliced

Combine the hoisin, soy sauce, shaoxing honey, five spice and ginger.
Brush the mixture over the shoulder. Marinate for up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 140C. Place the pork in a roasting tray.
Put about 1cm boiling water in the bottom of the tray and cover with
foil (or a lid). Roast for about 5 hours, or until the meat is very
tender. Check every hour and top up the water when needed.

Rest the meat then shred or pull the meat off the bone.
Stir through the spring onion and serve immediately. Serves 6

" keep it simple, use seasonal, local and organic ingredients where possible, be inspired by restaurant food, but don’t try to cook it at home. Eat meals at a table, not in front of the telly, and don’t rush it; celebrate food... "- David Herbert