When we go to the library (sometimes we get into a routine of going once a week, sometimes it’s more sporadic) the small child chooses his books and toys extremely quickly. Books in particular. Super quick. No browsing here.
But that means there’s no tolerance for my own browsing and so I end up letting him choose a cookbook. So it was that we ended up coming up with the AWW Barbecues & Grills when the weather at the time was far from suggestive of barbecues.
Obviously, a grill or a griddle pan does a perfect approximation of a bbq for indoor purposes but I think it’s also true that you feel a bit less like summery grilled foods with salads in the middle of winter. This made choosing a dish from this out of season book somewhat tricky … but I settled finally on an easy grilled squid dish. In the book it is served with an apple and celery coleslaw but we choose noodles with stir fried Asian greens.
Like many of the dishes in the book (and, perhaps, like many of the best BBQ dishes) this is extremely simple. I bought whole squid which we then had to clean and chop but it would work perfectly with squid rings. And if cephalopods aren’t your thing then the marinade would work well with barbecued or grilled chicken, pork or even some meatier fish.
This cook book is actually one I would seek out to add to my collection. From a design point of view, the recipes are laid out with plenty of space, there are beautiful pictures and the recipes themselves are easy to follow with step by step instructions. Yes, some things are a little basic if you spend any time in the kitchen – Cajun chicken burgers, for example, is basically a case of take chicken breast and rub with Cajun seasoning – but the recipes are a good spread from the very basic and quick through to more novel and labour intensive ideas. And quite a few of the accompaniments or side dishes do put a new twist on things. While this book won’t turn you into a Michelin starred chef, it will enable everyone to put something tasty and quick on the barbecue and give you few new ideas as a bonus.
- squid hoods (or rings, or perhaps sliced chicken or pork) enough for two
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 generous tsp grated ginger
- sambal oelek to taste (anywhere up to and beyond 2 tsp!)
- Create the marinade by mixing the sesame oil, grated ginger and sambal oelek.
- Prep your meat - if using the squid hoods, score them and chop into generous bite size pieces. Slice finely pork or chicken.
- Combine the meat with the marinade and set aside for a little. This is not a dish which needs a long marinade.
- Heat your cooking surface to a good high temperature. Cook the squid until just opaque - you will most likely need to do this in small batches and use tongs to turn the pieces. Don't overcook the squid!
- Serve immediately as a starter with an apple and celery coleslaw (that's the book's suggestion) or with stir fried Asian greens and noodles.
Last Friday the small child and I were heading out for an afternoon play date so I decided that we should make something to take along. As there was no way I was going to the shops in the morning (in my defence, we’d been shopping on Thursday afternoon) I had to make do with what was in the house. So what follows is a genuine store cupboard recipe.
I first made Cornish fairings a few years ago but never blogged the recipe and, of course, couldn’t for the life of me remember which one I’d used. However, Mary Berry’s 100 Cakes and Bakes offered a recipe and one for which I had all the ingredients. I was a bit concerned because her biscuits looked nothing like Cornish fairings (in my opinion) should.
However, you can never really go wrong with a ginger biscuit, can you?
My biscuits turned out looking exactly like Berry’s, so a big tick there. However, I’ve done some research and have some ideas what needs to be done differently to get a much more distinctive cracking pattern on the biscuits. Disappointing, because last time I made them they were picture perfect … but it’s provided me with an excuse to make more.
These biscuits are full of ginger spice and are hard and crunchy, so they’re perfect for dunking. A big hit at home, with the small child demanding a biscuit for breakfast on Saturday.
Rest assured, he didn’t get it!
Mary Berry’s Cornish Fairings
- 100g plain flour
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50g butter (I used salted as that's what I had)
- 50g caster sugar
- 75g (roughly 2 generous tablespoons) golden syrup
- Preheat oven to 160°C fan.
- Mix the dry ingredients with the butter until crumbly. Add the golden syrup (warmed, if it is very cold weather) and mix to a soft dough.
- Either divide into 24 or, using a teaspoon, scoop out small walnut sized portions, roll and gently flatten on a baking sheet (lined with baking paper).
- Cook for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, remove and tap the tray firmly on the bench before returning to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- The biscuits should be golden.
- Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. They will easily last 3-4 days.
For Christmas Andy gave me a very cool book called The Flavour Thesaurus. The book goes through almost every ingredient you could imagine and covers obvious and less obvious food pairings.
I’ve read through it but haven’t had the time or opportunity to play around with some of the ideas. However, with half a butternut squash to turn into soup I turned to The Flavour Thesaurus in the hope that it would provide me with a more interesting idea than just chilli. And while I don’t think that pumpkin and ginger is exactly an out there or novel combination this was still a good way to do something I wouldn’t have normally.
Of course, it turns out I really can’t do anything without chilli, so we finished the soup with chilli oil which added a good kick and, surprisingly, the sesame oil added to the spice warmth of the dish. However, the following day (when I was eating leftovers for lunch) I added a teaspoon of sambal oelek – which was an even better idea!
As with all soups, this is ludicrously simple and quick. Serve hot, with crumpets.
- 1 onion, chopped
- quarter of butternut squash (or pumpkin) ~ 300 g - peeled, seeded, diced
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 500mL water
- ½ pot of stock concentrate (vegetable or chicken)
- (or ~ 500mL of stock)
- chilli oil (to serve)
- Heat some oil in a large saucepan and sweat down onion.
- When onion is soft, add pumpkin, potato and ginger, and cover with water or stock.
- Cook until the pumpkin and potato are soft.
- Blitz with stab mixer until smooth and adjust seasoning.
- Serve piping hot, topped with a little chilli oil if desired.