As a child I used to spend my summers in Newquay, eating huge Knickerbocker Glories, trying to learn to surf and coveting the latest ‘Fat Willy’ t-shirt (for those not familiar with this brand it’s best not to ask, or google it!). We stayed with the parents of my Mum’s bestfriend in a terraced house that to a seven year old seemed palatial. They had a strange oven in the corner of their dining room (an Aga) and cooked vegetables that they grew themselves; to someone familiar only with tinned sweetcorn and frozen peas this in itself was something to wonder at; I would look on in amazement as muddy carrots and potatoes just plucked from the earth were turned into my tea. My one distinct memory is of the little silver pot that always appeared on the table for lunch and dinner. It was filled with homegrown and homemade pickled beetroot and it was served with roast dinners, salads and even beans on toast. I devoured the little purple discs, watching the little rivers of deep red run around my plate forcing themselves on the other flavours and colours. I haven’t been to Cornwall for at least fifteen years but I still love beetroot, although the mess and fuss has led me to rely on the readymade pickled variety. But when I saw this recipe in all its glorious purpleness I just knew that I would have to get my hands dirty. The flavours are strong, the lamb competing with the pomegranate and the onions; but lurking in the background is the raw earthiness of the beetroot reminding me of summers spent building sandcastles and catching shrimps.
Serves 4 – 6
- 2 Lamb shanks
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 1.5l water
- 125g yellow split peas
- 2 raw beetroots – peeled and diced
- 100g rice
- 2 spring onions – chopped
- 2tbsp sugar
- 2tbsp lime juice
- 2tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2tbsp parsley – chopped
- 50g spinach
- 1tsp dried mint
- Salt and pepper to season
The day before soak the yellow split peas (or for at least 8 hours).
Put the water, onion, yellow split peas and lamb in a large pot, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour.
Add the beetroot and rice to the pot and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the pot, shred the meat off the bone, return the meat to the pot.
Add the spring onions, sugar, lime juice, pomegranate molasses and parsley to the pot, cook for five minutes.
Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve topped with the dried mint and accompanied by lots of bread and butter.
I have always enjoyed Japanese food, whether eating sushi in a restaurant or making my own restorative ramen dishes. But I have always thought of the food as an Anglicised version of the original so I decided to find a traditional recipe. The recipes I found for Nabe seemed to be quite flexible, adding different meats, vegetables and bases for the broth. The recipe I settled on turned out to be quite bland, the kombu broth did not add enough flavour for my liking. I tried it with some sliced chilli, as I would put in my own ramen dishes, but found that this overpowered the subtlety of the kombu. After trying a variety of versions I settled on the one below. The ginger adds some warmth and depth to the dish and complements the kombu rather than covering it up. This is a great meal to serve for friends as there is very little preparation and served at the table it makes an interesting talking point.
- 1 piece of dried kombu, or 1 litre chicken stock
- 1cm cube ginger, grated
- 6 boneless chicken thighs – cut into cubes
- 1 block of firm tofu cut into 1cm cubes
- 4 Savoy cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
- Carrot – very finely sliced
- a handful of spinach
- 1 pack of mixed mushrooms, including shitake and enoki
- 1 leek – thinly sliced
- 1 pack of fresh udon noodles
lemon or lime juice
Put the kombu in a pot and add 1 litre of water, leave to soak for 30 mins. Put on the hob and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, remove and finely slice, put to one side. (Or if using stock bring to the boil.) Add the ginger to the stock and continue to simmer.
Prepare all your ingredients. Add the chicken to the stock and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tofu and vegetables (leeks, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, kombu) and noodles. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface to keep the broth clear. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the noodles are soft.
Traditionally the nabe is served in the pot and the table and your guests help themselves, eating the meat, vegetables and noodles, then finishing off with the broth. If you have a tabletop cooker you can provide extra vegetables and meat at the table and add these throughout, like a Japanese fondue! Soy sauce and lemon or lime juice should be provided so your guests can season the nabe to their own taste.
So next on to Germany – and as you can see I’ve already given up on the alphabet! First a bit of a confession – I’m not a fan of German food and wine. I have been to Germany three times and have never had a great meal or experienced an incredible taste. And don’t get me started on their obsession with putting almonds in all their cakes. So with a feeling of dread in my stomach, I thought I would get Germany out of the way early and on a snowy winter’s night I decided to make some Gulaschsuppe – a dish somewhere between a soup and a stew. And it actually wasn’t bad. The soup is a thick mix of beef, potatoes and onion flavoured with paprika and caraway seeds and makes a wonderfully warming and filling meal when served with crusty bread. Enjoy!
- 500g beef cut in small cubes
- 2tbsp oil
- 3 onions chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1tbsp paprika
- ½ tsp caraway seeds
- 2tbsp tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- 750ml beef stock
- 125ml red wine
- 5 medium potatoes cubed
- Salt & pepper for seasoning
Put the oil in a large pot and add the meat to brown
Add the onions and garlic and fry until the onions are soft.
Add the paprika and caraway seeds, stir well to coat the meat. Add the bay leaf and stock. Bring to a boil, cover and then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes
Add the potatoes and simmer for a further 30 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and red wine; simmer for a further 15 minutes.
Season as required. Remove the bay leaf. Serve with crusty bread.