Osso Buco – my way

Seeing as Jamie Oliver has pissed off the whole of West Africa with his take on jollof rice this week, I thought I’d have a go at rustling some feathers.
Osso Buco is slowly cooked veal shin in a wine based broth, originating in Italy.
If you showed my recipe to any Italian, they’d probably spit on it. Good. Recipes are there as guidelines, to guide you to a delicious meal. And it’s YOUR delicious meal, so why not make it how you want it? Not everyone likes the same things, so whenever you’re cooking, follow your tastes, don’t just blindly follow the recipe.
Osso Buco never has any beans in it, and is also always served with a risotto Milanese or wet palenta. There’s also argument over tomatoes and garlic and what herbs to use, but I just followed my tastebuds! Please feel free to do the same.
You may struggle to get/find veal shin near you, but if you can get your hands on it, it really is worth a go.

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As usual this recipe is enough to feed two greedy people, but you could definitely feed more out of the sauce.
25g butter
1 tbsp oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
2 350g piece veal shin, cut horizontally with bone in
20g flour
300ml white wine
300ml chicken stock
6 tomatoes
1 tin cannellini beans
A few sage leaves
1 lemon
A few cloves garlic
Small bunch of parsley
1 crusty loaf of bread
Parmesan

In a casserole dish, heat the oil till it is very hot. Meanwhile, dust your veal with seasoned flour. This will help you get a nice crust on your meat and also to give a bit of body to your sauce.
Place the meat in the pan and leave it to brown for several minutes on each side. Don’t move it, don’t shake the pan, just trust your instincts and let it brown for a while. If you’re not confident then lift them up to have a peak every now and again! Once browned, put aside on a plate.

Add the butter to the pan and melt, then throw in your miso frito or carrot, onion and celery to you and me, along with a bit pinch of salt. You’ll want to sweat these nice and slowly until they’re translucent.

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Throw in a few peelings of lemon rind, some smashed cloves of garlic, still in there skin and the sage leaves. Sweat these for a few minutes before wacking up the heat and chucking in your wine. Reduce this by more than half and then add your stock. Bring to the boil then add your tomatoes and meat back to the pan.
Stick a lid on, turn the heat right down and cook for 2 hours, turning the meat every 30 minutes.
Meanwhile make a little gremolata. This is absolutely vital to this dish. Simply grate, finely chop or crush half a clove of garlic, zest the rest of the lemon and finely chop your parsley and chuck it into a bowl with a splash of oil.
Half an hour before the end of the cooking time, throw in your beans and your pretty much there!
Serve with the gremolata, a sprinkling of Parmesan and a big hunk of crusty bread.
Make sure you get all of the bone marrow out of the middle of the bone. The best bit if you ask me!

Pancetta and cherry tomato pasta

This recipe is an absolute winner. Easy to cook, quick to prepare and if you’ve got a bottle of open white knocking about your house, then pretty cheap too.
For me this is the perfect meal for the first few days of the week. Quick and it uses up that bit of plonk from the fridge/buy a bottle and have a glass while you cook! The rest of it you can grab for the cupboards! Here it is in all it’s glory. Enjoy.

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Feeds 2 greedy pigs, as usual.

Ingredients:
200g of pancetta, diced
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tin of cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp chopped parsley
30g grated Parmesan
1 large glass of white wine
200g spaghetti

First things first, boil the kettle, I usually bloody forget to!
Fry your pancetta in a frying pan with just a splash of oil until it is a rich, dark golden colour. Really take your time with these, they are the base seasoning and umami flavour of the dish.

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Once your pancetta is brown get a big pinch of salt into your boiling water and chuck in your pasta.
Next throw in your thinly sliced onions and fry. Again get some colour on them, you need to cook them fairly quickly. Once their brown and cooked, add your garlic and chilli flakes and fry for a minute.
Now add your wine and boil it hard until it reduces by at least half. Make sure you stir well and get all of the coloured bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add your tinned cherry toms and tomato purée and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is a nice thick consistency.
Season lightly as the pancetta is highly seasoned, but I like loads of pepper!
After 8-9 minutes drain off your pasta and put it back into the same pan that you cooked it in and pour over the sauce. Toss it together and plate up. Garnish with grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Cheeky chicory and cherry tomato gratin

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This is actually an Ottlolenghi recipe with fennel, but I went to the supermarket and was told they had stopped buying it in. Apparently the people of Bethnal Green don’t eat fennel!
I thought I’d revert back to the French classic, and it was just as lovely as with fennel. If anything it was better. The sweet crumble and cherry tomatoes really worked well with the mouth smackingly bitter chicory.
I’ve also reigned in the crumble in this recipe. It’s so sweet that it’s verging on the dessert. There’s also so much of it that a lot of it remains sweet-sticky-floury pap, not the crunchy loveliness a crumble should be.
A proper autumn warmer this one.

4 chicory bulbs, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp thyme and a few sprigs
250ml double cream
300g cherry tomatoes on the vine
100g Parmesan, grated
150g plain flour
50g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 200°C
Mix the cream, garlic, thyme and some seasoning and pour over the quartered chicory in an ovenproof dish.
Mix the flour, sugar and cubed, cold butter in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until there are no lumps of butter. Stir through the Parmesan.
Chuck over the crumble mix, chuck on a few sprigs of thyme, cover with tin foil and bang it in oven for 45 minutes.
Once the time is up, remove the tin foil and place the cherry tomatoes on top.
Roast for another 45 minutes until the skin has split on the tomatoes and the crumble is golden and crisp.
Eat!

Delia’s (sort of) Thai curry and the secret to perfect rice

My old dear’s been cooking this Thai curry for as long as I can remember. Probably not the most authentic but bloody lovely all the same. Was trying to pin down when the recipe will be from, but it can’t be that old as ‘nam pla’ or fish sauce haven’t been that readily available to supermarket shoppers for that long.
I’ll also let you in on the secret to perfect rice, also curtesy of my old girl. Once you’ve got it nailed, you’ll never look back.
This dinner is perfect for a widweek ‘tea’ as it has been for many years in my house, and this recipe serves 2 greedy beggars.

What you’ll need:

2 chicken breasts
1 lime
2 tbsp veg oil
Half a pack of spring onions
Half a small pack of supermarket coriander
1 green chilli
2-3 tbsp fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
150g basmati rice

First cut your chicken breasts into nice bite size pieces and place in a bowl with the juice and zest of the lime. Leave to marinate for 1 hour, it shouldn’t need much longer, as in that time the lime juice and zest will have done their job.
Cut the spring onions in half and then cut these pieces into quarters lengthways, so you have 3 inch(ish) delicate pieces, and all the layers should slip away. Set aside one quarter of this spring onion for garnish. Also finely shop your chilli. I leave the seeds in, but that’s just me. It’s your tea, so make it as spicy as you want!
After the chicken is marinated, heat a wok or large frying pan with the oil until it’s really hot. Now chuck the chicken in with all the juice and zest, but stand back! Putting liquid into hot oil means it’s likely to spit a bit. Now reduce this juice down till the chicken starts frying and browning. These crusty brown bits are what will give you a lovely depth of flavour and colour to your sauce.
Once the chicken is lightly browned, throw in the green chilli and fry lightly for a minute. I usually have to open the windows at this point, you’ll have everyone coughing and tearing up!
Turn the heat down and add your coconut milk. It is vital to scrape the bottom of the pan and up the sides to get all of those nice crusty bits – you’ll watch your sauce transform from pale to a lovely deep colour.
Roughly chop 3/4 of your coriander and add this to the pan with the spring onions. These are effectively the veg for this curry.
Once the sauce is a nice rich consistency, add the fish sauce. Start slowly with this, it’s very strong and salty. Taste as you go! It is a wonderful seasoning, but add too much and you’ll wake up tasting it the next morning!
Now just garnish with the reserved spring onions and coriander and your ready to get stuck in!!

Now for the rice!
You’ll need about 75g of uncooked basmati rice per person for this recipe and cooking it couldn’t be simpler. My mum would tell you to wash your rice, but I never have, so chuck it in a saucepan so that it gives you a nice centimetre(ish) covering over the bottom of the pan. Now simply top up the pan with cold water, so that there is an inch covering over the surface of the rice.
Now for the cooking. Bring it up to the boil and boil rapidly for 1 minute uncovered. Now put the rice on the smallest ring, on the smallest setting with a tin-foil lined lid for 9 minutes. You’ll need this tight seal on the lid to ensure no steam escapes. Once this is done simply turn the heat off and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Don’t take the lid off for a peak!
Once you pull the lid off after the 10 minutes standing time you’ll see perfectly cooked rice – fluffy and clag free. Easy!

This dinner was an absolute favourite for me growing up. When my mum told me I was having this for tea I’d absolutely leg it home from school. Once you cook it once you won’t look back.

I enjoyed it so much that I scoffed it without taking a picture, so you can’t see how bloody lovely it looked too!