Harissa Paste

HarissaHarissa is a popular North African hot chilli paste generally made from a mix of smoky, roasted red peppers, hot chilli peppers, garlic, spices such as coriander and caraway seeds and olive oil. Variations can be found in the cuisine of Libya, Algeria, Morocco and particularly Tunisia and may contain onions, tomato puree, lemon juice, saffron and even rose water. Harissa can be used as a condiment or as a rub for meat, in meat, poultry and fish stews, in soups and as a flavouring for couscous.

 

Harissa Paste

2 Red Peppers

1 medium White Onion, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped

3 hot Red Chillies

4 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

Juice of a freshly squeezed Lemon

1 teaspoon Coriander Seeds

1 teaspoon Caraway Seeds

½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds

½  teaspoon Sea Salt

Place the peppers under a very hot grill and roast turning occasionally until the skin is blackened on the outside and the pepper completely soft. Transfer to a small glass bowl, and cover with cling film, and allow to cool completely. Carefully peel the peppers and discard its skin and seeds.

Using a heavy-bottomed frying pan lightly toast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds for a couple of minutes over a low heat. Place them in a spice blender or a mortar and pestle and grind to a powder. Heat the olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat, and sauté the onion until it starts to caramelise, then and the garlic and chillies and cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Remove from the heat and allow to thoroughly cool then using a blender or a food processor blitz all of the ingredients until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed. Store in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce is a fermented liquid condiment created in 1837 by two English chemists. It is used in lots of home cooking, burgers, soups, stews and casseroles, principally because of its savoury flavours and as a source of umami. Specifically, Worcestershire Sauce is a principal ingredient in Welsh Rarebit, Caesar Dressing, and the Bloody Mary Cocktail.

Worcestershire Sauce

The first Worcestershire Sauce was made by a couple of chemists called Lea & Perrin who were commissioned to manufacture an Indian style sauce for a returning member of the British Raj. The sauce was a mix of malt vinegar, molasses, anchovies*, sugar, salt, onions, garlic, lemons, tamarind paste, and spices including cloves, chilli and pepper. According to folklore the resulting sauce was unusable and was left in a barrel, after some time one of the pair tasted the sauce again. Because of fermentation, the sauce had mellowed and was close to what we now use today.

*Anchovy sauces in Europe can be traced back to the 17th century. In Roman times the food was seasoned with a fermented fish sauce called Garum and a recipe for it is included in Apicius, a famous Roman culinary record. Because of the anchovies, Worcestershire sauce is unsuitable for people allergic to fish, vegans, and vegetarians.

The best way of letting your Worcestershire Sauce develop its particular flavour is to bottle it in old sterilised disused beer bottles and then pasteurise the contents and leave to mature.

Worcestershire Sauce                                              about 1 litre

2 tablespoons good quality Olive Oil

2 large sweet Onions, peeled and chopped

2 large cooking Apples, peeled and chopped

400 ml Malt Vinegar

300 ml Golden Syrup

300 ml Beer

150 ml Orange Juice

150 ml  Tamarind paste

6 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped

6 centimetre piece of Ginger, peeled and grated

2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeds removed and minced

200 gr tinned Anchovies, chopped

150 ml  Tamarind paste

150 ml Tomato paste

1 tablespoon freshly cracked Black Pepper

2 whole Cloves

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté the chopped onion over a medium heat until soft, but without too much colouring. Add the tamarind paste, garlic, ginger, and Jalapenos. Reduce the heat and very gently cook for another ten minutes, stirring continuously taking care not to burn the ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Strain Worcestershire sauce into sterilised glass bottles or jars and store in a cool dark cupboard.

 

 

 

Nam prik pao or Thai Chilli Paste

Commercial Thai Chilli Paste
Thai Chilli paste

The base of a good Thai Tom yam soup is a paste called Nam prik pao  or Thai Chilli paste made from roasted garlic, chillies, shallots and as with many Thai base recipes dried shrimp. A commercially made paste is available and perfectly acceptable but I think for the most vibrant authentic taste it is best made fresh ingredients.

Homemade Thai Chilli Paste

 Nam prik pao 

10 large Red Thai Chillies, de-seeded and membranes removed

10 cloves of Garlic, peeled

8 large Banana Shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

200 gr Galangal, peeled and sliced

100 gr Dried Shrimps, soaked overnight in a little water

50 gr Light Brown Sugar

8 Lemongrass, peeled and chopped

6 tablespoons Tamarind Paste

4 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

400 ml Water

Heat the oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas mark 5. Place the shallots, galangal, garlic and chillies on a tray and drizzle with the oil, place in the oven and roast for forty-five minutes until soft and caramelised. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and place in a food processor. Drain the shrimp and add along with the lemongrass to the roasted shallots and spices. Blitz to make a paste. Place the paste, sugar, water, tamarind paste and vinegar in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to the gentlest

simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning, and reduce the mixture until it becomes smooth and thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container or sterilised jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

If you really like heat do not remove the seeds or any membranes from the chillies.

Granola

Granola is an increasingly popular breakfast cereal made from baked oats with honey and sugar.  Manufactured Granola can be quite expensive and yet very easy to make at home. It is delicious mixed with dried fruits and nuts such as flaked almonds, apricots, raisins and sultanas or eaten with creamy, natural yoghurt, sliced banana and sprinkled with Blueberries.

Homemade Crunchy Granola
Homemade Crunchy Granola

Granola was invented and trademarked in America by a contemporary of John Harvey Kellogg as a baked breakfast cereal at a similar time to muesli, which is also made from oats although neither sweetened or cooked. With the addition of nuts and dried fruits Granola is often marketed as a ‘healthy option’ however it does contain a lot of sugar. Granola or pressed Granola bars ( similar to Flapjack ) are a good source of energy and is often carried by long-distance hikers. Granola can also be used in making and garnishing desserts.

Breakfast Granola
Granola with Yoghurt, Bananas, and Blueberries

Homemade Crunchy Granola

300 gr Rolled Oats

120 gr Honey

60 ml Vegetable Oil

3 tablespoons packed light Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon Natural Vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon

¼ teaspoon Salt

Extras

100 gr dried fruit; Raisins, Sultanas, small diced dried Apricots, freeze dried Strawberries

50 gr toasted flaked Almond Nuts or flaked Coconut

Heat the oven to 300°F / 150 C / Gas mark 2. Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine and set aside. Place the honey, oil, and vanilla into a jug and mix thoroughly. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for fifteen minutes, then stir, breaking up any large clusters and continue baking until the granola is a very light golden brown, for between five and ten more minutes.

 

Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the granola to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It will harden as it cools. You can add the dried fruit and nuts or seeds to the Granola when it is thoroughly cooled down and toss to combine together. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Tomato concassé

Tomato concassé is the flesh from fresh tomatoes that have been peeled, de-seeded and chopped into a dice. It is a staple of many professional kitchens used in sauces, omelettes, with olive oil, garlic, and basil as a topping for bruschetta and when added to Béarnaise sauce to make Choron sauce, served with fish and seafood. We remove tomato seeds and skin from Tomato concassé as in large quantities they can be tough, do not soften during cooking and leave a bitter flavour. If you can get hold of a moderate amount of ice it is very useful when cooling off the blanched tomatoes. Use fully ripe but firm tomatoes for the best results. The process may seem to be quite an effort but the end results for Tomato concassé are very pleasing and worthwhile.

To make tomato concassé

Bring a large pot of water, deep enough to generously cover your tomatoes, to a rolling boil.Take each tomato and using the tip of a small sharp knife or paring knife ( see picture ) remove the pith or tough part of the tomato where the stem used to be cutting out a circular hole.

Turn the tomato over and on the other end mark a small cross in the skin with the knife.

When all your tomatoes are prepared, place a four or five at a time into the pan the boiling water. As soon as the water returns to a boil cook for one-minute longer and then remove them using a slotted spoon or spider.

Immediately plunge the blanched tomatoes into a large bowl of very cold water to arrest the cooking process. If you have ice, use iced water. The cooking process depends on the size of tomatoes you are using, small tomatoes may only require thirty seconds simmering. A good rule of thumb is if you see the tomato skin beginning to peel off then take out and cool.

The next step will take a little practice. Drain the blanched tomatoes then using the sharp knife again gentle tease and peel off the skin. Start by slowly sliding the tip of the knife under the cross you made in the skin earlier and work down. When peeled quarter the tomatoes and remove the seed with a small spoon or the back of the knife. Chop the quartered tomatoes into large or small dice as required.

Amuse-bouche

An amuse-bouche or more correctly in France an amuse-gueule is literally translated as “mouth amuser”. They became popular in restaurants in the nineteen eighties as a showcase of the chef’s skills. Normally a small intensely flavoured dish presented to all diners before their ordered dishes. In high-end classic restaurants such as those with Michelin, stars amuse-bouche are now an integral part of the meal.

Gazpacho Shots

At home, an amuse-bouche or amuse-gueule does not have to be an elaborate creation it can be some delicious marinated Spanish olives, a tasty, freshly made dip with breadsticks or a Gazpacho Shot.

Espagnole

Classic Espagnole or Brown sauce is a dark, flour-based sauce with a strong taste and is now replaced in many recipes by a well-reduced beef or roast veal bone stock, traditionally it was a Master Sauce serving as the starting point for many derivative sauces, of which there are hundreds in the French repertoire. As Espagnole is the French word for Spanish it was long thought that the sauce was a creation of a chef to one of the two countries royal courts following a diplomatic marriage between the French and Spanish thrones, similarly, Espagnole was a rich marriage of Spanish tomatoes to a traditional French brown meat sauce. However, according to Alan Davidson, in The Oxford Companion to Food, “The name has nothing to do with Spain, any more than the counterpart term allemande has anything to do with Germany. It is generally believed that the terms were chosen because in French eyes Germans are blond and Spaniards are brown.”

Espangole is made from a dark roux, a Mirepoix of root vegetables and tomatoes, veal or beef stock and aromatics. The sauce is very gently simmered over a low heat and skimmed regularly. Espangole was one of the five mother sauces of the French cuisine of Escoffier and was traditionally used to make Demi-glace which is used in turn to make hundreds of secondary sauces. In the modern kitchen, these sauces are made using a reduced stock and a list can be found under the Demi-glace entry.

A Classic Espangole Recipe

As Espangole was a staple of the large classical kitchen the ingredient list includes parsley stems and mushroom trimmings left over from the preparation of garnishes, these are optional or simply replace with a couple of sprigs of parsley and a few mushrooms.

50 gr Butter or Lard

50 gr Fat Bacon

100 gr Plain Flour

2 large Carrots, peeled and sliced

1 large Onion, peeled and chopped

2 sticks of Celery, washed and chopped

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

1 Pigs Trotter

500 gr Shin of beef, with the bone

1 generous sprig of fresh Thyme

1 sprig Rosemary

2 Bay Leaves

A small handful of Parsley stems

A small handful of mushroom peelings and stems

6 Black Peppercorns

1 1/2 ltrs of Beef or roasted Veal Stock

440 gr  tin chopped Tomatoes

150 ml quality Red Wine


Roast the trotter and beef shin in a very hot oven for twenty minutes until brown. In a very large, heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and fry the bacon, add the mirepoix of root vegetables and cook slowly. Brown the vegetables so the natural sugars caramelise to add flavour and colour to the sauce. Add the flour and cook for at least another five minutes to develop the colour.

Slowly add a quarter of the stock stirring all the time then add the remaining stock, trotter, beef shin and the rest of the ingredients. Bring up to the gentlest of simmers and cook for at least three hours. Skim regularly to remove any impurities and excess fat from the sauce which if let to boil into the sauce will result in a cloudy finish. Remove from heat, allow to cool and pass through a chinois or fine sieve.

Ghee

Ghee is a south Asian pure butterfat used for frying and flavouring similar to clarified butter. The production of ghee results in the elimination of any milk solids which prevents the ghee from oxidising, consequently ghee has a long shelf life and does not require refrigeration. Ghee is commonly used in Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese and Pakistani cooking. In Indian cookery, ghee is used in the preparation of dishes such as biryanis, daals, parathas and curries resulting in a rich flavour and texture and is brushed on roasting Naan breads. The word ghee comes from Sanskrit.
Commercially prepared ghee is made by first melting the butter, as it does the milk solids and buttermilk form a white froth on top. This is removed and the butterfat is then simmered, stirring occasionally, as it is cooked on low heat it turns a dark golden colour. Any remaining residue settles at the bottom and the ghee, which is now clear, aromatic and golden is ready to be filtered. The ghee solidifies as it cools. The texture, colour, and taste of ghee is altered by the length of the cooking process and from the milk which made the butter.
Ghee is an ideal medium for deep fat frying because the smoke point (where it begins to break down) is 250 °C / 482 °F, which is well above typical cooking temperatures for most foods around 200 °C / 392 °F and above that of most vegetable oils. Several other cuisines produce similar products to Ghee. In North Africa, the Berber tribes add spices and age their refined butter. In other parts of Africa purified butterfat is used for frying and in Germany Schnitzels are traditionally fried in Butterschmalz a type of clarified butter.

Melba Toast

Melba toast is completely dry, crisp, thinly sliced, toasted bread and most often served with soup or pâté. History has it that the name was given to the toast by the world’s most famous hotel manager César Ritz. Melba toast was created by his equally famous chef Auguste Escoffier for the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, around 1897. During a stay in London, the singer was taken ill and when she requested something light to eat Escoffier delivered Melba toast.

Melba Toast

Melba toast is available commercially but is not difficult to make and a great way to use up excess sliced bread and you will find the results much better. It can be made up to a couple of days before you need it and stored it in an airtight container, then crisp it up for a short time in the oven.

Melba Toast

Sliced white or brown bread as required

Preheat the grill to high and toast the bread lightly on both sides. Cut off the crusts, then holding the toast flat, slide the knife between the toasted edges to split the bread.

Slicing Toast

Place the toast cut side down onto a food preparation board and gently rub it over the board surface. This removes any loose crumbs and snags of dough which will burn when you toast the underside and produces a professional finish.

Melba Toast Tray

Place on a baking tray untoasted sides uppermost, then toast under a moderate grill until golden and the edges curl.

When required crisp for a short time in the oven at 170 °C / 325 °F / Gas 3 before serving.

Mirepoix

Mirepoix, a trio of aromatic vegetables, became popular in 19thcentury French cooking and is named, in the fashion of so many French culinary terms, after a Duke who was a regarded as a pretty incompetent Field Marshall and Ambassador, and who owed much to Louis XV affections towards his wife. Mirepoix is a small, fine dice normally of onions, carrots, and celery roughly in the proportions 2:1:1. It is the base flavour of many classic sauces and stocks and slow-cooked casseroles and stews. Mirepoix can vary from recipe to recipe and region to region and include garlic, leeks, mushroom stalks and tomatoes.

Mirepoix

Mirepoix au gras has the addition of finely diced ham or streaky bacon. Similar base vegetable mixes are to be found in German cooking called suppengrün or soup greens. There is also the holy trinity of Creole cooking; onions, green bell peppers and celery and soffritto an Italian soup and sauce base of vegetables, garlic and parsley stewed in olive oil.

Matignon is traditionally a finer dice of aromatic vegetables including onions, carrots, celery, and leeks which are sautéed in butter and flavoured with a pinch of thyme and perhaps some crushed garlic. It is usually finished with salt, sugar if required and a splash of Madeira wine. The result can be used as a stuffing or a base to present poultry and meat on.

Réchauffé

Individual Shepherd's Pie

réchauffé dish is a reheated dish made from leftovers from previously cooked food. Classic examples are Cottage and Shepherd’s Pies where minced cooked meat would be cooked with onions, carrots, and gravy, topped with mashed potatoes and baked. It is thought that the origins of the popularity of American-Chinese Chow Mein was as a way of using up precooked meats and noodles.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a dark, thick, sweet Chinese condiment used in recipes such as stir-fries, brushed on to meats before roasting, or as a dip. It is made from toasted pureed soy beans with fennel seeds, red chillies ( although Hoisin is not normally spicy and hot ), vinegar, garlic and Chinese Five Spice. Hoisin translates as ‘seafood’ but does not contain any seafood as an ingredient.

Crispy Spring Rolls
Spring Rolls and Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is used in Cantonese food in dishes such as Char sui pork and as a dip for spring rolls and in the world-famous Peking Duck from the capital of China Beijing. In Vietnamese cooking, Hoisin sauce is a common accompaniment at the table alongside Sriracha for bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup or phở.

Wok hei

Cast Iron Wok
A cast iron seasoned Wok

Wok hei, means ‘the breath of the wok,’ it is the smoky flavours, aroma and texture the dish picks up whilst being stir-fried in a hot wok. It is particularly prevalent in Cantonese cooking. To impart wok hei the traditional way, the food is cooked in a seasoned traditional cast iron wok over a very high flame while being stirred and tossed quickly. The heat needs to be extremely high to stop the food being boiling in its own juices and being stewed. When you see professional Chinese chefs cooking over gas stoves or an open flame, they toss the food at an angle allowing for the splattering of fine oil particles to catch the flame into the wok adding more Wok hei.

Cloves

“Nutmeg must be able to smell the sea but cloves must see it”

Cloves are a spice that come from the flower buds of a tree originally from Indonesia and are a common ingredient in savoury and sweet recipes in Asian, African and Middle Eastern cuisines. The unopened flower buds are harvested twice a year and then they are dried in the sun. Cloves have a warm, pungent aroma which many people associate with Mulled Wine and Christmas with notes of camphor and pepper. Cloves have a strong, pungent, flavour, and too many can be overpowering. Cloves can sometimes leave a numbing feeling in the mouth due to the active ingredient eugenol and are why people use oil of cloves if they have a toothache.

Whole dried cloves
Whole Cloves

Cloves were only grown in Indonesia until the eighteenth century when Frenchman, Pierre Poivre, carried seedlings to Mauritius where the seedlings flourished.  The plants were then introduced into the East African coast, which is now the largest producer of cloves. The saying “Nutmeg must be able to smell the sea but cloves must see it” is because cloves grow best on islands or near the sea. Cloves can be used either whole or ground in Chinese cooking, apple recipes, traditional baked ham, and pairs well other spices like allspice, bay, cardamom, cinnamon, chillies, fennel, ginger, and nutmeg. Cloves are one of the spices in Garam masala and Chinese five spice.