Ready, Steady, Cook

Posted in dinners, mastery of cooking on March 9th, 2016 by Kevin – 1 Comment

When leaving the last Sunday session of the Mastery of Cooking programme, each participant was handed a bag of ingredients, and instructed by Jean Torn√© to plan and create a meal based on these elements, in an exercise which recalled the popular TV series ‘Ready, Steady, Cook.’

‘A few peas, some watercress, 2 potatoes, 1 avocado or half a zucchini, one leek, some herbs, an orange, a piece of fennel. Create a dish from these ingredients. Cook it. Serve it to your partner or family or to one another and ask them how they received it.’

The invitation was to take part in this process, to observe one’s own participation, to assess (and be assessed) on the results.

And so, I made a ‘Rock pool’ style clear broth soup, inspired by a soup we cooked during an earlier session. The base was a vegetable stock I’d made earlier, which I infused with the Kombu and fresh herbs. (Thyme, Bay Leaf, Rosemary). I cut the Cauliflower into small florets, cubed the Potatoes, and carefully cut the Leek Whites into strips. I blanched all these ingredients separately. I made a Pesto¬† with Watercress, Basil, Coriander and Pine Nuts (left over from a previous cooking session). I served the soup in a shallow bowl with a few Watercress leaves on top, and some dabs of pesto. I made a pressed fennel salad with Pear and dill, served with an Orange Vinaigrette on a bed of sliced Avocado. This was plated up with some Short Grain Brown Rice, and some Tofu chips marinaded with Sweet white Miso, Rice Vinegar, then pan-fried.

As for the assessment: (I ate the meal alone) I was pleased with the soup. Initially the broth had a strong taste of Rosemary (probably a bit much to use as an infused herb) but the whole dish was balanced out when I added the veg, the pesto, and the watercress leaves. It was a little cold by the time I ate it. I liked the ‘half submerged veg’ presentation but it didn’t make for a particularly large dish – more of a starter. The pesto was a real winner, and helped to balance the flavour of the soup, as well as adding a touch of intrigue to the dish. A suitable ‘Algal’ accompaniment to the Rock Pool.

I was really happy with the pressed Fennel Salad, in combination with the avocado. I added the dill leaves far too early so they became a bit wilted and lost their vibrant colour. In future, I would add these right at the last minute, as a garnish. The marinaded tofu was delicious. Again, this was a small dish, more of a starter. But it worked well in combination with the short grain rice.

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Penang market cooking

Posted in dinners, farmers markets, fish, soups on January 11th, 2016 by Kevin – 1 Comment



An early morning visit to a Penang market during our Christmas trip, where we bought some freshly made fish balls and fried tofu. This all ended up in a Hearty Noodle broth, together with Choi Sum-like greens from the market, Shiitake Mushrooms, Onions and Carrots.

Panfried Mullet with Bulghur Wheat Salad

Posted in dinners, fish, summer on May 19th, 2014 by Kevin – 1 Comment

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A fruitful visit to Stoke Newington Farmers Market, leading to a simple but delicious evening meal: I bought some fresh Grey Mullet which I filleted then skinned, dusted in Rice Flour and panfried. I cooked some Bulghur wheat, then mixed this with some chopped toasted almonds, chopped Parsley and some soaked raisins. I roasted some Cherry Tomatoes with Olive Oil, a pinch of salt and some Balsamic Vinegar. Fresh Sorrel leaves from the market are dressed with a Lemon Vinaigrette.

Spur-of-the-moment Curry

Posted in dinners on April 1st, 2014 by Kevin – 3 Comments


After cooking a big batch of Chickpeas, I stopped off at a local Londis store, where the owners had a range of homemade chutneys on sale. This inspired the creation of a simple, tasty Chickpea Curry with Onions, Aubergines, Tomato Paste, Garlic, Cumin and Garam Masala. Served here with Steamed Rice, Blanched Kale, Yoghurt and Fresh Coriander; and a dollop of two chutneys I bought from the store: Yoghurt, Garlic, Chilli and Coriander; Coriander, Chilli and Garlic.

BBQ season!

Posted in dinners, summer on June 3rd, 2013 by Kevin – Be the first to comment

Betraying my antipodean roots, most probably… But a house is not truly a home, and the summer has not yet begun, until a BBQ has been set up, and ‘fired up’ for the first time. So, Saturday was a momentous occasion. The newly delivered B&Q barbecue was assembled earlier in the week ready for a test run on Saturday night, when Nicky and I and our special guest put together a smorgasbord of BBQ treats:

Chargrilled Squid with Olive Oil, Salt, Garlic and Lime Juice.

Lamb and Mint Sausages, Marinaded Chicken Legs (Lemon Juice, Garlic, Sage & Oregano).

Par Boiled Sweetcorn and Oven baked Sweet Potato.

The (first) plate: BBQ treats combined with a Roast Vegetable and Chickpea Couscous; Green Salad with Vinaigrette; Guacamole and Greek Yoghurt dressing with Garlic, Coriander and Lemon juice.

Red Kite Organic B&B

Posted in breakfast, dinners on January 28th, 2013 by Kevin – Be the first to comment

I recently spent a weekend agreeably snowbound at The Red Kite: a friends’ B&B located a short drive from Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh borders in Herefordshire. The Red Kite is run by Juliette Fernandes and Neal Smith, and offers an idyllic retreat in the Welsh countryside, combining a taste of luxury with a good dash of genuine home comfort, accompanied by heartfelt organic cooking. Juliette’s a naturally gifted and highly trained wholefood cook who can cater for all dietary requirements. I had a chance to sample a few of their breakfast menu dishes, as well as a couple evening meals and tasty snacks which emerged from the Aga. (Slow cooked Lamb Shanks or Roast Organic Chicken anyone?)

And as for the setting… it’s spectacular. The Red Kite is nestled on the brow of a hill, which (I’m assured) offers breathtaking views of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. While I was there, the views were obscured by low cloud and snow, but I was still blessed to experience an extraordinary Welsh winter snowscape, and enjoyed walks on the hills and farmland nearby which included encounters with wild horses that roam the hills.

If you’re looking for an extremely nourishing break away in the Welsh countryside, look on further. For more information, check out their website, or contact Juliette & Neal by email.



Nicky Clinch Home Cooking

Posted in dinners, winter on January 28th, 2013 by Kevin – Be the first to comment

Dish 1: Shiitake Miso Broth with Udon Noodles, baked Mugwort Mochi croutons & shredded courgette. Black sesame seeds for garnish.

Dish 2: Butterbean Puree, Leeks cooked in Ume paste, Sweetcorn & Red Pepper Fritters & an Arame Seeweed salad with creamy mustard dressing.
Specifically good for relaxing the stomach and solar plexus and create a softer, relaxed feel in the body and emotions.

Dish 3: Creamy Cauliflower Soup served with a baked Mochi Crouton. Fried rice with Arame & Tempeh, Pickled Carrot & Daikon Salad, Blanched cabbage with an Ume dressing.

Christmas family lunch

Posted in dinners, farmers markets, lunches, winter on December 28th, 2012 by Kevin – Be the first to comment

This year, we were joined by my sister, her husband and family for a few days, to enjoy a pre-Christmas, Christmas meal together. This year, we cooked a goose, which proved to be exceptionally popular this year in the UK. Our organically reared goose was supplied by Iain and the boys at Stock’s Farm who run the butchers stall at the Stoke Newington Farmers Market. The goose was cooked with a Dried Apricot and Orange Stuffing and served with Roast Potatoes; Honey Roasted Carrots and Swedes; Red Cabbage with Apple and Sultanas and Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts.

A taste of home

Posted in dinners on September 7th, 2012 by Kevin – Be the first to comment

The story behind the creation of this Chinese dish ‘Char Siu Fan.’ It began with a barbecue at home, where people were invited to bring a dish to contribute. My friend Mona Cheng brought a container of Pork, marinading in an exotic mix of ingredients. We didn’t end up cooking this on the day (there wasn’t much space left after the lunch spread), but popped it in the freezer to await another time. Nicky completed the dish the other night, baking the pork for 20 mins (covered) then 20 (uncovered) and serving it with White Rice, Green Beans and sliced Cucumbers. An object lesson in how the cooking and sharing of food connects us with a type of nourishment which goes beyond nutritional value, to our home and family roots.

Miso Broth with Cucumber and Tempeh

Posted in dinners, soups on September 4th, 2012 by Kevin – Be the first to comment

A quick, nourishing and hearty meal created by Nicky Clinch. A Miso Broth with Vegetables, sliced Cucumbers, Toasted Sesame Seeds and Deep fried Tempeh chunks.