Crystal Palace Food Market: hanging in for a WIN…

I love Crystal Palace market but work Saturdays so can’t get there very often. This reminds me what I am missing. #yummers

Toast & Butter


Credit: Chareon Tapaneyasastr

Kids in Market

Credit: Laura Marchant-Short

My Saturdays are never truly complete without a morning visit to Crystal Palace Food Market. Even though trying to leave the house with two small kids and all the crap that they need is a heart-attack-inducing experience, we are always glad to have made the short trek up the hill. Even though at times it feels like climbing Everest with two midget drunkards flopping about demonstrating wildly fluctuating moodswings. I can feel my pulse rate begin to slow down to near-normal the moment I have some of Chas & Momo’s excellent baked goods in my shopping bag, and then I can heave a sigh of relief: the weekend will be ok, we have wonderful bread!!! Which, as some of  you might know, is precisely what I live for.

The market boasts a whole heap of stalls selling delicious things, from shellfish to Russian…

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Murgh makhani with pheasant

Pheasant curry….

Occasionally if I’m lucky a friend who shoots game in the autumn will land me a couple of pheasants.
It’s a doubled edged sword in that I love the idea of wild sustainable meat but dread the plucking and drawing it takes to get them oven ready.
I remember as a boy my mother bringing some home and my father being confined to a garden room to pluck them.
He couldn’t bring himself to eat them with any appetite and so I also feel so the prepared birds often end up in the freezer.
As more birds are likely on the horizon I decided to make space in my freezer and looked for a recipe which might offer something other than delicious but traditional game chips and bread sauce.
This curry is great because by roasting on the bone you pick up extra flavour and is similar in style to traditional Indian food.
Rich and spice filled.
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall writing in the garden offered a version of this recipe, I’ve simply reduced the quantities.
It’s delicious and warming but worth noting you need to marinade overnight for best flavours.

2 pheasants, jointed (breasts off, legs and wings separated, discard carcass)

For the tikka marinade
One tsp salt
Two tbsp thick yoghurt
Juice of one lime
One tbsp garam masala
Two tsp chilli powder
Two tsp ground coriander
Two tsp ground mixed spice
Two tsp ground fenugreek
One golf ball-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Four large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped, or more if they are small
Two tbsp of oil for roasting, left over frying oil fine or sunflower or groundnut
Three or four green chillies (depending on size and heat), finely chopped
For the tomato sauce
400g tin chopped tomatoes
small nugget fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
One small green chillies, depending on heat, finely chopped
Five cloves
One tsp salt
100ml water

To finish
60g butter
One tsp ground cumin
One tsp tomato purée
Two tsp honey
100ml double cream
One tbsp fenugreek
One tbsp lime juice
Half tsp freshly ground black pepper
Coriander leaves, to garnish (optional)


1)In a large bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients, add the pheasant joints, with your hands ensure they’re well coated, and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.

2)Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a large pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until nicely thickened. Rub through a sieve or liquidise and set to one side.

3)Heat the oven to 230C. Transfer the pheasant legs to a roasting tin, along with some of the marinade, cover with a piece of buttered foil and roast for 15 minutes. Add the breasts to the tin, give everything a good stir, lower the heat to 200C and cook for 20 minutes.

4)To complete the sauce, melt the butter in a large pan, add the ground cumin and sizzle gently for a minute. Add the tomato sauce, bring back to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Add the tomato purée, honey, cream, fenugreek, lime juice and black pepper, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until the sauce is thick, rich and creamy. Finally, add the pheasant, mix well and warm through, simmering gently for five minutes. Serve with basmati rice and scatter with coriander leaves, if using.





Most British food lovers of a certain age will recall the tag line “don’t say vinegar say Sarsons” and I am among them.
Dripped over fish and chips still in their paper there is surely no better use for the brown malt liquor.
And as any allotment holder will tell you it is a vital preservative in making chutney and pickling onions, beetroot and other root vegetables.
Generations have used it to store fresh produce over the winter months – including eggs (many will have seen the giant jar of other worldly looking hard boiled eggs swimming in vinegar perched on a fish and chip shop counter).
But as with everything food it often falls to fashion to dictate the contents of our larder and after a few years as a preserve (pun intended) of the older generation pickles have become cool again.
In attempt to latch on to the trend Sarsons invited a group of journalists and bloggers to Rita’s for a brief lesson in pickling.
With a pickled ginger cocktail in hand it was soon clear how easy it is to get yourself if not into then in possession of a pickle.

The expert in charge was archaeological expert and food enthusiast Peter Ginn, last seen on the BBC series Victorian Farm, and he explained the word vinegar comes from the French vinaigre meaning soured wine and that is exactly what it is.
Originally a way of storing a glut of fresh produce over winter in the same way salting, smoking, potting, canning and drying does it was the refrigerator which saw it fall out of fashion.
It’s coming back now though and places like Rita’s do their own sauerkraut and kimchi and it’s a nice way to express a love of home cooking craft.
Pickling is actually shocking simple, you need your vinegar, which must have a minimum of 5% acidity, your vegetables or fruit and a sterilised container like a kilner jar or old jam jar and lid.
You can sterilise by boiling in water or in a hot oven.
Then it’s easy, grab some of favourite herbs and spices add to the jar.
In our lesson there was red, black and white peppercorns, a variety of dried chillies, coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, dill, rosemary, tarragon and sage.
Next you fill with what you want to pickle (you’ll need to blanch onions or shallots and hard boil eggs) before pouring over enough vinegar to cover them trying not to let any poke above the liquid line.
You can try carrots, onions, eggs, mooli (japanese radish), cucumber, lemons, plums or anything your imagination allows.
Seal your jar and leave for three or four weeks and enjoy on their own or with cold meat and cheeses.
I’m very excited to see how mine turn out and am interested to try a more exotic pickle.
One Peter said he wants to try is so-called English bamboo – alder!
Apparently there is a recipe in the 200 year old cookbook A New System of Domestic Cookery – one for a dedicated pickle fan.


Roasted peppers


I recently visited (Coppa a rooftop bar near London Fields in East London, where I had a rather disappointing roasted pepper bruschetta among other much more delicious dishes.
It got me thinking about how to improve on the flavourless peppers and I found a Nigel Slater recipe which I’ve tinkered with and I have to say was delicious.
The quantities are pretty vague so please have a play around, I tossed some freshly cooked pasta through my finished dish but it would work equally well on toasted ciabatta or as a side dish for BBQ chicken.

Mixed peppers, long ones and round ones and different colours (whatever is cheap)
1x onion
Garlic – I would suggest a clove for every three peppers but add more if you like
2x table spoons creme fraiche
Parmigiano Reggiano, two handfuls finely grated
Salt and cracked pepper
Small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped and reserved.
Two red chillies with or without seeds
Olive oil, as good as you can afford

1)Preheat oven to 180C
2)Deseed peppers and place in casserole dish and add some glugs of olive oil and a decent pinch of salt
3)Roast in middle of oven for 30 minutes
4)Meanwhile in a food mixer chop onion, garlic and chilli.
5)Add to peppers and toss to coat with juices in dish and return to oven for 25minutes.
6)Add parsley stalks and handful of cheese and return to oven for five minutes
7)Remove from oven, stir in creme fraiche and remaining cheese, check seasoning and serve. It is here that you can stir in your cooked pasta with a couple of table spoons of cooking water to keep the mixture loose.


Cavolo Nero pasta


I am in the process of sorting out my allotment for this year and had some rather leggy cavolo nero.
Usually I serve it on the side of a roast with a light anchovy butter sauce stirred through it.

I decided to dig it out and put some new seed in but it left me with a bag of the winter cabbage so I decided to try something different.
In this recipe it replaces the basil usually used in pesto to make a rich dark green glossy sauce.
It’s delicious and a lovely alternative to pesto.
I’m looking forward to a new crop.

Ingredients (for two portions)

150g of cavolo nero (stalks removed)
2x garlic clove peeled
2x handfuls of grated Parmesan
A few decent glugs of your best olive oil
2x tbsp of toasted pine nuts

200g of pasta – flat like parpadelle is best


1) Add the cavolo nero and garlic to large pan of boiling salted water for 5-10mins until tender
2) Meanwhile cook pasta until pack instructions reserving half a cup of cooking water
3) Add cooked cavolo nero and garlic to food processor with pine nuts and blend until smooth
4) Add cheese, oil and water and blend again until glossy, add more oil if you need.
5) Stir sauce through pasta and finish with a grating of cheese.


Healthy Chicken Korma


One of the Christmas presents I got this year was a cookery book called GQ Eats which is full of beautiful pictures of delicious looking recipes.
The food is selected by some of food’s biggest names and has a foreword from Heston.
Whenever I get a new cook book I always try to cook at least one recipe from it as soon as I can or before you know it I’ve slipped it into the book shelf and forgotten about it.
I’m steering clear of baked goods at the moment and loved the idea of cooking this korma for lunch as it’s quite healthy with no cream or ghee.
It went down very well, lots of clean fresh flavours from the spices and ginger with a citrus undertone.
Give it a whirl and simply adjust the quantities to serve more people, it’s Atul Kochhar’s recipe.

Ingredients (for one)
One chicken breast, fat removed and diced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Five onions, sliced
Tw garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
10cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and cut to julienne
Five green cardamom pods
Half tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
Two cinnamon sticks
One star anise
100ml low fat yoghurt
400ml coconut milk
Four Jersey potatoes washed and cut in half
One tsp lemon juice


1) Heat oil and sauté garlic but do not colour.
2) Add whole spices and when they start to crackle add onions.
3) Cook onions for five minutes and then add other spices and cook for a minute or two mixing well.
4) Add potatoes, stir, then half the coconut milk and 200ml of water, simmer until potatoes are cooked.
5) Add chicken pieces and cook for 20 mins or until just done.
6) Whisk remaining coconut milk with yoghurt and add to pan, stir, add ginger and lemon juice and cook for two minutes.
7) Serve with steamed brown rice.

Stilton, pear and walnut salad

Like most people at Christmas I ended up over ordering on cheese and was left with a block of lovely Stilton.
This is a great winter salad which works well as a starter or light supper and helps use up left over blue cheese.

Ingredients (main for one)

Two handfuls of mixed leaves, ideally rocket, watercress and spinach
One ripe pear, peeled and sliced
Handful of walnut pieces
Piece of Stilton, about 75grams

For dressing
Tsp of Dijon mustard
Tsp of honey
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of balsamic or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1)Heat oven to 200c and place pear slices and walnuts on baking tray and cook for five minutes before removing.
2)Mix dressing ingredients by shaking together in an empty jam jar.
3)Toss leaves in half dressing
4)Place dressed leaves in serving bowl and scatter over pear and walnut pieces.
5)Crumble over Stilton and finish with drizzle of the remaining dressing

Nb: this recipe also works well with chicory