Category Archives: Food

Prawn Cocktail – 20th Century Enigma

Prawn Cocktail Canapes
Prawn Cocktail Canapés

Back in the 1970s, the dawn of dining out, the prawn cocktail ruled supreme as the starter of choice and remained so well into the 1980s.  In terms of getting a meal off the ground (perhaps not a great analogy!) a well-presented prawn cocktail absolutely looked the part, and set the taste buds tingling in a way that few other starters did in readiness for the next course.

It was in the early 80s that I stated making my own cocktail  (or 1,000 Island?) sauce, and indeed made it so often that my little daughter referred to it (and still does, although not so little these days) simply as ‘Daddy’s Sauce’.  I recall one occasion discussing for ages with a colleague exactly how much lemon juice there should or should not be in it, such was its hold.  The prawn cocktail was a significant part of almost any dining experience, and indeed of life itself.

And then suddenly it wasn’t!  As dining out became something people did more regularly for leisure rather than to celebrate a special occasion, and many more restaurants opened offering what seemed like an infinity of clever dining ideas, so the prawn cocktail (along with the Black Forest Gateau, Steak Diane, etc.) started to feel very passée and old-fashioned.

Asking for one began to make one feel a bit oikish.  It may be that the people who used to enjoy them now hankered after more exotic foods like Thai, Cajun or Indian. I’m sure the PC remained on the menus of older establishments, but new, trendy restaurants wouldn’t be seen dead offering one.

But then in 1997 I came across this book

Prawn Cocktail Years

filled with recipes for all the old favourites, and I realised that I hadn’t had a prawn cocktail in nearly a decade and it was like rediscovering an old friend.  I updated my recipe  and started making them again (although seldom order one in a restaurant – mine are just so much better) and now, nearly 20 years later, they’re still a firm favourite . . . . .

. . .and so versatile.  Yes, you can still serve them individually as a starter, but the components served on a little gem lettuce leaf (as above) makes a terrific cocktail party canapé, or stick the whole lot in a big bowl for a wonderful summer salad.

The sauce recipe I use now is based on Delia Smith’s but the quantities vary from batch to batch making each one a new experience.  It’s also because of Delia that I include avocado and once you start doing that, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

It was my birthday yesterday and I could think of nothing I fancied more as a starter (home-made of course) than a mouth-wateringly marvellous prawn cocktail – the King of starters.

What is not cooked, but not raw either?

Tuesday 13 January 2016


just before Christmas we were going to a Gaucho restaurant for a family celebration and on looking at the menu online, a dish called Tuna Ceviche was spotted bringing the inevitable question, “What’s Ceviche?” (pronounced ceh-vee-chay – a bit like a sneeze!)

Now, having been to Panama on business on a number of occasions, I knew the answer to that question, which is that it’s a highly delicious way of preparing fish in South and Latin America.  but it’s slightly enigmatic in that the fish is neither cooked in any kind of real sense, nor raw like sushi/sashimi.

Instead, the fish is marinated in lime juice with some garlic, onion and chilli added and it ‘cooks’ in the acidity of the lime juice.  It’s a kind of South American smoked salmon but instead of smoking the raw fish,  it’s marinated.

But this ‘cooking’ process is where the similarity ends because while smoking also preserves the fish and gives it a longer life, albeit in the fridge, marinating in lime juice does not and so ceviche must be made fresh every time you want to use it and consumed within 24 hours of making.

Which means that if I make it tonight and leave it to marinate in the fridge overnight it’s OK to eat any time tomorrow, but not thereafter.  Leave it in the fridge for another day and you’ll be hard put to open your fridge door for the smell!

So, because I had had and liked ceviche, it had been on my cooking ‘hit-list’ for some time but I’d never quite got round to it, so it seemed to be a good time to try.

It is traditionally and classically made (in Panama, at any rate) with sea bass (‘corvina’ in Spanish) but can of course be made with any good quality fresh, raw fish as in the Tuna Ceviche at the Gaucho restaurant which started this whole thing off.

It proved remarkably simple using a very sharp knife to slice some fresh sea bass very thinly and we all liked it so much that we elevated it to our starter for Christmas Day.

On that occasion it was served with a really lovely salad/salsa made with finely diced avocado and cucumber, which, as it happens, makes a very good vegetarian alternative to the ceviche.  As it is also dressed with lime juice, it goes remarkably well with the ceviche.

Avocado cucumber salsa
Avocado and cucumber salsa

Nothing is ever more ‘over’ than Christmas

Friday 1 January 2016

Christmas Dinner 2015

Happy New Year to one and all!

Someone once said to me early one January many years ago, “There’s nothing ever more ‘over’ than Christmas,” and I know exactly what he meant.  We spend ages working up to it – partying, shopping, wrapping, decorating, writing cards and labels, preparing, cooking, partying again, and then suddenly on or about the second day of January, as we finish clearing up after New Year’s Eve and dismantle the tree, it’s all over with nothing left to remind us of it all but the next credit card statement, which is usually pretty painful.

Much as I love Christmas and everything associated with it,  my favourite part is the actual ‘Christmas Dinner’ – not necessarily the main meal on Christmas Day, but on whichever day, the meal we share with loved ones seated at a table groaning under the weight of food, and it has to be traditional, i.e. turkey or goose, served with ham, stuffing, roast potatoes, and a selection of vegetables, and followed with Christmas Pudding and lashings of gloriously unctuous double cream.

And the food has to be on the table and not plated up in the kitchen with the heavily laden plates delivered to the table for consumption feebly excused by ‘The table’s not big enough’ or ‘Dad’s not very good at carving’.  That’s not good enough – the table is always big enough (use smaller dinner plates if you have to as there’s always ‘seconds’) and if Dad can’t carve properly then he should learn, as that’s as much part of being a parent as changing nappies or reading bedtime stories.

Anyway, enough of my soapbox for now!

Croque Forestier
Croque Forestier

Just before Christmas we met up with some friends in a Paul Coffee Shop and had a gloriously luxurious snack with a coffee.  We are all familiar (aren’t we?) with the classic French toasted cheese and ham sandwich, the Croque Monsieur, which if topped with a fried egg becomes a Croque Madame.  Well this is a Vegetarian variant on that, but don’t be put off by the ‘V’ word.

With a bit of research it turns out to be not properly French at all but something created/invented/dreamed up in a French restaurant in, of all places, New York.  Well, to hell with authenticity, this sandwich is lovely – all rich and creamy. With the recipe in place, I can enjoy this any time I choose, and now so can you!

Once again, Happy New Year

Carry on Elvis

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Chinese Elvis
Did you realise that Elvis is an anagram of Lives?

One is always on the lookout for something special/different  to do on a loved one’s birthday – it doesn’t have to be vastly expensive or luxurious, just ‘different’ can be enough – and last year for her birthday I thought I’d take her to one of my favourite Chinese restaurants, Phoenix Palace near Baker Street, which I knew she had not tried.

I use to travel on business to Hong Kong regularly and liked the style of restaurant there, and the Phoenix Palace is as close to that ideal as I have ever found in the UK.

So when I went on to their website to check opening times, imagine my surprise to find they had an ‘event’ very close to Christine’s birthday and said event featured none other than someone called Chinese Elvis.

Now, if I said Christine is partial to a bit of Elvis (and I shan’t say which bit!), that would be understatement of the highest order.  So the combination of excellent food and wine against an Elvis backdrop seemed perfect, so off we went and had a wonderful evening.

This year, it seemed a bit of a no-brainer to try the same formula again and  Yes indeed, Chinese Elvis at Phoenix Palace 7 December – job done with a nice table for two booked.

Seated at our table, we opted to eat immediately so we could enjoy the show (while others chose to eat later).  We had also opted for the set menu (listed above on the advert) although  à la carte was also available as either an alternative or supplement to the set menu.  The food was, as always both excellent and plentiful.

In due course, at the appointed hour, our entertainer made his entrance to a great Elvisian fanfare and rapturous applause.  Before he began his performance, he went round the room introducing a few celebrities who were present.  These were, in the main, Chinese film actresses but to our intense surprise, we found that we were seated right next to the table of none other than the Grande Dame of both the ‘Carry On’ films and ‘Eastenders’, Barbara Windsor, who stood, like her Chinese counterparts before her, to take a little bow.

Chinese Elvis ran through his repertoire of ballads in the first half of the show, as he said, to let people eat their meal in peace, and then departed to get himself ready for the second half/finale.  At this point, Christine turned round and spoke to Miss Windsor who was seated right behind her, whereupon said lady got up from her seat and, to my amazement and delight, came and sat next to me.  We chatted for a good ten minutes about the Carry On films (a personal favourite of mine) and the actors who featured in them, after which Barbara went to meet the rest of her waiting public.

Ken & Barbie
Ken and Barbie!

Chinese Elvis then strutted his stuff again, this time with some of the meatier Elvis hits which induced a number of guests to dance in the aisles.  As he himself readily admits in his act, he’s far from the greatest Elvis impersonator (and as he quips, “The more you drink, the better I get!”) but he is a terrific entertainer who knows well how to involve an audience.

So between us, we had a wonderful evening and not surprisingly, find ourselves very much looking forward to next year.


Meeting my Waterloo?

Sunday 6 December 2015

Wellington Sandwich
Wellington Sandwich

Apologies to those who’ve noticed that I have neglected this blog for a week or two  but life is strange.

I am fortunate in enjoying what is often referred to as ‘rude’ health’.  What this means is that in general terms and other than the odd seasonal ailment, I am in good health to the point where it is taken for granted.

But back in the summer I suddenly became aware of a tingling in my lower left leg.  This was not by any means unpleasant but clearly not normal.  I did the usual homework on the internet and what emerged was that this is not uncommon with a number of possible causes, none of which was life-threatening, but if it persisted, a visit to the doctor was recommended.

So, after a few weeks, I saw my doctor who recommended a blood test to try to ascertain a cause.  What emerged appeared to be little more than a vitamin D deficiency, something that affects a large portion of the population of this sun-starved island.  The recommended remedy was a course of a Vitamin D3 supplement.

Being somewhat drug-averse, I opted for a ‘natural’ brand from a health food shop and started taking the pills daily.  After a week or two I became conscious that the tingling had indeed stopped, but equally conscious that it had been replaced with an itch in the centre of my left shin.

I was careful only to rub rather than scratch the itch but nonetheless, after another week or two it had erupted into an open sore.  At about the same time I became aware that my right leg itched in exactly the same place.

This situation continued for a few weeks and then suddenly out of the blue I noticed half a dozen tiny spots on the underside of my right forearm.  Over the next week I became aware of tiny insect bite-type sores on my arms and legs.  At this point I decided I should go back to the doctor.  By the time of my appointment just under a week later, my arms and legs were covered in spots/sores.

By this time I had concluded that it was highly likely that I was having some kind of allergic reaction to the vitamin D3 pills and stopped taking them.  A quick check on the internet revealed that this condition while not common, is certainly by no means unknown and the symptoms are those that I was currently displaying.

The doctor had no instant answer but also thought it likely that I had a D3 allergy.  She told me to stop bathing with soap and recommended using a liquid paraffin preparation which cleanses and softens the skin.  She prescribed some antihistamine and an antiseptic cream to use on the open sores and told me to use a moisturiser on my arms and legs.

In addition she prescribed a lotion to rub all over my body from the neck down but did not actually tell me what this would for.  I was somewhat surprised to find that this was an insecticide used to get rid of pests like scabies mites, head lice, etc.

While such a condition could certainly not be ruled out, the pattern of my sores did not seem to be the same as might be expected with scabies so I opted not to use it.

She told me that if there was no improvement within a couple of weeks I should come back to see her.

Over the next few days, the condition became progressively worse and in addition to my arms an legs, sores started to appear on the backs of my hands.

At the end of the first week, both of my upperarms were suppurating badly and so, after a 111 call, I saw an out-of-hours GP very late the same night.  She said my arms were infected and prescribed antibiotics to start taking immediately.

With no improvement (rather a worsening) the next day I went back to see my GP who, in addition to the antibiotics, antihistamine, liquid paraffin, and moisturiser, prescribed a course of steroids.  After a week of this new regime, it is finally starting to clear up and I can see the possibility of an end to the problem.

He also set the wheels in motion for me to see a skin specialist which I hope can cast some light on the cause of this problem, albeit with his hands somewhat tied behind his back, as by the time I see him, I’m hoping all trace of the rash will have gone.

It is pretty scary that something as simple and innocent as starting a course of a vitamin supplement can have such a dramatic and deleterious effect.

What is bizarre, and lends support to the premise that this is indeed a vitamin D3 allergy, is that at its worst, I looked like I had been in the sun with a tee-shirt on since I had no rash or colouring on the tops of my arms, shoulders, chest and upper back but appeared bright red down my arms, legs and around my waist at the back, as if the parts of me that do not normally get any sun couldn’t care  less, but the bits that are exposed had somehow protested at the D3 supplement!

Now, you may be wondering what all this has to do with the Wellington sandwich pictured at the top of the page, but that is an overlapping story

A couple of weeks ago just as the rash was getting into its stride and when I might reasonably have been expected to write the next part of my blog, I drove to Waterloo (in Belgium, not South London).  I had read that the famous battlefield had had a makeover for its 200th anniversary and I thought it would be interesting to see what had been done.

Waterloo lies about 20 km south of Brussels and is about 2 hours drive from Calais.  Almost shockingly at the top of the motorway exit ramp one is greeted by the centre of the battlefield, so no problem finding it!

This is evidenced by a monstrous mound with a statue of a lion on top, actually built to commemorate the death of the Prince of Orange who died there.  It is is visible for miles around.

La Belle Alliance (4)
The Mound and Panorama

It is indeed fortunate that they did not build something similar in memory of everyone who died at the battle!  I am reminded of Prince Charles’ description of some not very nice building as ‘a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a well-loved uncle’.

In 1815 there was little else there but a crossroads and a tree and in creating this humungous mound, vast areas of the battlefield were excavated, utterly destroying its very nature.  Next, in the 1840s a large building was constructed adjacent to the mound to house a vast panorama of the battle.  Since then a visitor centre and a hotel/restaurant had been built.  They now call it the ‘Hameau de la Butte’ or Mound Hamlet – and all where there was nothing at all at the time of the battle.

For the 200th anniversary, a new underground Memorial/Museum has been built.  The existing buildings (all now closed but for the panorama and the restaurant part of the hotel, now named simply the Brasserie RN) are apparently to be demolished thus reopening much of the area.  It would have seemed clever to demolish them for the 200th anniversary but it was not to be.

The sad part for me is that with the new Memorial has come a new commercialisation.  Last time I was there I freely ascended the 200-odd steps to the top of the mound to survey the field.  Now one has to buy the €19 entrance ticket for the Memorial to enjoy this.

However, first things first, and having arrived hotfoot from Calais without having had my customary breakfast on the P&O ferry (as I came via the Channel Tunnel on this occasion) I was hungry so thought I would have a little ‘je ne sais quoi’ in this Brasserie RN.

As I only wanted something light like a sandwich, my choices were limited and it was either that French classic, a Croque Monsieur, or the Wellington sandwich featured here.  I ordered the Wellington, determined not to like it on principle.  Either of the sandwiches came with an optional cup of soup for another €2 so I ordered this.

Despite my misgivings, the sandwich was lovely, comprising a heap of beautifully, nay, perfectly rare roast beef atop a slice of black bread covered in piccalilli (unlike my copy in the picture above which is made with thin slices of ribeye steak – easier to come by in small quantities than rare roast beef!).  Both the salad and the soup were also most enjoyable.

Having had lunch, I went in search of some of the other famous buildings that made up the patchwork of the battle.  The whole field is enormous, as it would have to be to accommodate armies of approaching 100,000 on either side.

The town of Waterloo, little  more than a village in 1815 has sprawled massively, merging seemingly seamlessly with the smaller Braine L’Alleud such that the two are effectively now one and a veritable maze of housing estates.  Much as I criticise the Lion Mound, I was grateful for its presence on a couple of occasions while trying to find my way back to it from Braine L’Alleud, as it is pretty hard to miss in that flat landscape.

Hougoumont (3)

So I first drove to the farm/chateau of Hougoumont, a couple of kilometres away, which saw the opening action on the day.  Last time I was there, I recall it looking a bit sorry for itself and it appeared to be still a working farm.  It has now been considerably restored back to its 1815 condition and is now part of the Memorial Museum complex.   Vivid images remain of British foot guards trying desperately on the inside to push shut that gate against a crowd of assaulting French infantry.

Mont St. Jean

On the other side of the Lion Mound from Hougoumont and lying along the main road from Brussels/Waterloo to Charleroi, lies the farm of Mont St. Jean (interestingly the name used by Napoleon to refer to the battle), which was used as a field hospital for the allies.  This had fallen into rather sad disrepair over the years but following a long rebuilding project has been extensively restored to its former glory.

But equally sadly it is now used as a brewery and houses a restaurant and beer-shop, not exactly in the best of taste.

The car park at Mont St. Jean

Further south along the Waterloo/Charleroi road on the other side of the road lies what is probably my favourite building at Waterloo, the farm of La Haie Sainte, broadly similar in appearance to Mont St. Jean.

La Haie Sainte (8)
La Haie Sainte

This farm was the nearest building to the French lines and was held by the King’s German Legion (part of the British army but made up of Germans from the original territories of the English King George).  It was defended gallantly against repeated attacks  by the French, desperate to capture it because of its close proximity to their own lines.  It looks stately and dignified and much as it has always been depicted.

Just a hop and a skip and a jump south of La Haie Sainte in what would have been the centre of the French lines, lies La Belle alliance, the  appropriately named inn where Wellington met up with Marshall Blücher at the close of the battle, the two men meeting then for the very first time.

La Belle Alliance (2)
La Belle Alliance

It is in exceptional condition for its age and now renamed Le Rétro, is, of all things, a disco/nightclub.  If the Great duke, Marshall  Blücher or Napoléon knew, I’m sure each would turn in their respective graves.

A recent TV program compared Napoléon and Wellington, looking at their individual achievements, and about Wellington, it may be said that he defeated Napoléon at the Battle of Waterloo, while Napoléon on the other hand conquered half of Europe, made himself Emperor of France, introduced the Code Napoléon, the French legal system still in use today, and basically sowed the seeds of what we now recognise as modern Europe.

It is not for nothing that those wars are known as the Napoleonic Wars!

What does Mme DuBarry have in common with a cauliflower? *

Creme DuBarry
Crème DuBarry

Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse (known as Madame) DuBarry was a French courtesan (posh name for prostitute) and mistress of King Louis XV.  She died on the guillotine in 1793 during the Reign of Terror.

Apart from that little historical note, she was known to be inordinately fond of cauliflower and would consume it with every meal if possible.  She would only eat one soup (guess which one!) and became quite irascible if a meal did not start with it.

I came across this soup in one of the ‘Supersizer’ programs featuring Giles Coren and Sue Perkins in which they examined the food and eating habits of the French Revolution.  Other programs in the series have featured roman Times, Medieval and Tudor England, the Restoration, Regency and Victorian Times, as well as the 20s, 50s, 70s and 80s.    Apart from being enormously informative, the programs are also very funny.

As soon as I saw this sleek, velvety, creamy soup being served up at one of the meals in the program, I knew I would have to have a go at it, and, remarkably, it proved to be incredibly simple with only a few ingredients.  What I like about it is that it achieves the heavenly consistency of a potato-based soup without a spud in sight, meaning (I presume) far fewer carbohydrates.

It is like eating silk, velvet or some indefinable combination of the two.  Enjoy it on its own or garnish with some reserved cauliflower florets, crispy fried chorizo, or sautéed prawns/crayfish.  Yum!

  • Both have heads that are easily removed with a sharp knife

Dips, so many, ah!

Monday 9 November 2015

Artichoke dip
Artichoke Dip

As the festive season approaches, one can never have too many good, quick and easy dip recipes so here are three of my favourites, each so different from the others that they can be served on the same table.

Many years ago I was in Texas at a little soirée given by some friends and dipped a little cracker into a bowl of what turned out to be a warm and absolutely gorgeous concoction.  It was divine – possibly, I felt, the best and most flavoursome dip I had ever tasted.

I asked the hostess what it was and she assured me it was incredibly easy to make and told me what went into it.  I have since made it many times and it always seems to elicit the same reaction from people who try it.

Curiously enough, this recipe for Artichoke Dip turned up in a book of Tapas dishes I acquired a couple of years ago so it may in he end prove to be Spanish in origin, but it really doesn’t matter whence it comes, because it is truly divine to eat, and definitely worth the bother.

Chilli Philli
Chilli Philli

This is also simplicity itself to make but again incredibly effective.  A friend introduced me to this some years back and it has been part of the repertoire ever since.  Again not sure of its origin – could be oriental with the sweet chilli sauce and chopped coriander, but not sure how a tub of Philadelphia fits with that, but again, it doesn’t really matter since it is so good, and so quick.


Tzadziki is the cornerstone of many a Greek meal.  It can be served on its own with bread or crackers or served as a sauce with grilled meat.

A dip ‘staple’, Tzadziki is so easy to make that one wonders why anyone would buy it from a shop, particularly if a large quantity is needed for, say, a party.

Requiring little more than a tub of thick yogurt, some cucumber, garlic and mint, it’s a matter of minutes to produce it.  The quantities of everything can be varied to suit individual taste and it’s hard to see how anyone could get it wrong as it’s so forgiving.

Life too short to stuff a mushroom? Never!

Monday 2 November 2015

Chorizo-stuffed mushrooms
Chorizo-stuffed mushrooms

Whoever said ‘Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom” had obviously never tried stuffing them this way.

The Spanish have many ways of preparing mushrooms but this has to be one of the best, not to mention easiest.  Serve them as part of a tapas meal, as a starter, or as a canapé at a party, or just sit and munch them with a glass of wine, but make lots as they rapidly become addictive.

Be careful as you bite into them though – if you’ve drizzled olive oil over them properly, there’s likely to be an explosion of deliciously oily juices which just might leave your shirt/top heading for the washing basket.  But don’t NOT eat them because of that – just do it carefully in the knowledge that it may very well happen, so don’t sink your teeth into them until they are well and truly  ensconced inside your mouth.

Life may well be too short for some things but never for stuffing mushrooms this way!

No (more) bones about it!

Sunday 25 October 2015

Chicken Shawarma
Chicken Shawarma

I saw Chicken Shawarma being made on a TV program a couple of years ago and ‘stockpiled’ it for future use, as I thought it looked very interesting, very tempting and very ME.

Finally got round to making it a couple of weeks ago but forgot to take photos!  A friend was having a party last night and a Chicken Shawarma seemed to fit the bill so had another go.

Chicken Shawarma is, dare I say it, a bit like a chicken-based Doner Kebab – the reason I say it in that way is that for some people, the mere mention of the word ‘Doner’ would be a total turn-off.  Well, please don’t let it as this chicken variant is absolutely delicious and light years away from most people’s idea of the fatty, sloppy mess that is the average Doner.

First of all, it’s only similar to a Doner in that while it is made horizontally, it is cut vertically (or even made vertically and cut horizontally!).  Secondly, it is made with lean chicken so not really possible for over much fat to get into it, and thirdly – actually I can’t think of a third thing but may do at some point in the future!

It is made with boned chicken thighs.  It could be made with chicken breasts  but they just don’t work as well as thighs.  Thighs actually have more flavour and in fact, once boned and cooked, it would be difficult to tell them from breast.

One can buy boned thighs but they cost about twice as much as unboned thighs so there is a good cost justification for doing it oneself.  What I like to use for this are the ‘Jumbo Thighs’ available in Asda – not sure what size of chickens they come from but I wouldn’t want to meet one on a dark night!

Boning chicken thighs is not difficult – just a routine chore that needs to be done.  It gets quicker with practice so that in time each thigh will only take a couple of minutes.  Most of the time I keep the bones and ‘bits’ to boil for stock as I don’t like waste.

First prerequisite as with all such jobs is a sharp, smooth-bladed knife.  If you are the type who regularly hacks at meat with a blunt bread-knife, then this is not for you.  Using sharp knives is so much safer – you use a lot less force and it is more controllable: downside is of course that if you are unfortunate to cut yourself, it’s going to be bad!

I sometimes wear rubber gloves to do this as the hands will get covered in raw chicken  and will need to be washed thoroughly afterwards before touching anything else, particularly if it is not to be cooked (like a salad).  The hands must be washed even if using rubber gloves but not such an issue as when no gloves used.

Chicken Thigh 1

Lay the chicken thigh as shown with the cut bone nearest to you and the rounded one away,

Chicken Thigh 2

Squeeze your fingers under the skin and separate it from the flesh.  When the skin is released take hold of it and pull so that it comes away completely.  Cut away any residual strips of fat.

Chicken Thigh 3

Stick the point of the short, sharp, thin-bladed knife into the meat along the line of the bone near the exposed, rounded end.  Slit the flesh down along the line of the bone.

Cut round the bone in one direction and then in the other.  Use the tip of the knife to cut round the back of the bone so it is completely detached from the flesh.

Chicken Thigh 4

Again use the tip of the knife to cut the rounded end away from the flesh so that the bone is only attached at the bottom (cut) end

Chicken Thigh 5

Again use the tip of the knife to cut round the remaining bit of bone, taking care to also detach and remove the white kneecap-like part with all its various attached tendons/ligaments, etc.

Chicken Thigh 6

Job done!

Follow the recipe for Chicken Shawarma and I promise that you will not be disappointed







Why the Devil not?

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Devilled mushrooms
Devilled mushrooms

Something I’m very partial to for breakfast is devilled kidneys.  Now kidneys are a marmitey  sort of food in that one either loves them or hates them!

However, much as it feels good to evangelise about things one eats that are not universally popular, one has to exercise care because in some cases, e.g. with, say, kidneys, success might turn a cheap delicacy into an expensive one if  demand rose significantly, so I am very happy for lots of people to turn their noses up at kidneys because that makes them eminently affordable for me!

The term ‘devilled’ is used for recipes where normally ‘tame’ ingredients are given a spicy kick, with the addition of mustard or hot sauce or, at times, both.

Quite apart from my predilection for kidneys, I am also passionate about the sauce that causes them to be called ‘devilled’ and a couple of weeks ago while indulging this passion at breakfast one morning, I suddenly thought it would be fun to try to prepare something else in the same way, and as I looked at the little rounded kidney morsels sitting on the toast on my plate, I was somehow reminded of mushrooms and then thought that they would lend themselves to this style of cooking very well.

A few days later, I served devilled mushrooms as a starter at a dinner party to universal acclaim with instant demands for the recipe. so job done, I guess.

Try this with mushrooms – and you need reasonably sized ones since, as I’m sure you will know, they can shrink considerably on cooking.  You need to end up with about half a dozen mushrooms per person.

But once you’ve decided that you like this dish, try adding the extra ‘frisson’ of making it with kidneys, which somewhat intensify the flavour.

Actually, on second thoughts, don’t bother because I’d rather keep kidneys cheap!