Spicy Beef Noodle Salad

This is a really easy and healthy salad which will make you forget you are actually eating something healthy. The important thing here is the sauce. I mean you could do without the beef (but who would want to?!?) and change up the vegetables but the sauce really just brings everything together. For this amazing sauce you will need:

  • Ginger (minced)
  • Lemongrass (minced)
  • Soy Sauce (half cup)
  • Fish Sauce (one big tablespoon)
  • Sriracha Chilli Sauce or chillies (as much as you like)
  • The juice of one lime (and more if needed)
  • Garlic (minced)
Mix all the ingredients together and keep tasting until it feels right – it should be salty and tangy. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour to infuse all the flavours…The best is to do a big batch and use it throughout the week in different salads, it will keep well for at least five days.
For this salad you will need:
  • Beef, seared and then sliced finely
  • Red Peppers, chopped.
  • Spring Onions, chopped.
  • Noodles, cooked according to instructions, chilled (I used thai bean vermicelli, but this would be nice with some thicker thai noodles).
  • Coriander, chopped finely.

To prepare it..well it’s a salad! So just mix everything up, add as much sauce and you want go eat this amazing tangy,spicy, fake salad.

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Ugnsbakad falukorv (roasted falu sausage)

This dish is probably as far away as you can get from the New Nordic cuisine and the ideals of Rene Redzepi. But its loved all over Sweden, and despite the fact that it probably consists more of fat than meat and comes pre-cooked, roast falukov is really delicious. It comes from the arch-Swedish region Dalarna, and is spiced with onion, white pepper, ginger and nutmeg. In order for it to be called falukorv the meat content has to be over 40% (which, lets face it, hardly sounds a quality-stamp) and inside there can be a mix of beef, pork and veal, so you might not want to look too closely on the ingredient list. It was invented by copper miners trying to make German Lyoner sausages in the 17th century, looks like a giant Frankfurter, and tastes somewhat similar. It is often eaten raw (by impatient children), or grilled over fire in the forest, or fried in slices and eaten with stewed macaronis. Always with ketchup. But my favourite is the oven-baked kind, which is far superior to the other ones (although grilling sausage over fire has its own dimension which is hard to beat). For this you need:

  • 1/2 Falu sausage (can be bought frozen at IKEA, or at Scandinavian kitchen close to Oxford Circus tube)
  • 1 large apple, de-seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Grated cheese (cheddar is actually really nice for this, even if it’s not a Swedish cheese)
  • Potatoes for mashing (adding butter and milk, however you prefer your mash)
  • Nutmeg

You bake the whole (or half, in this case) sausage by slicing it (about 1 cm between each cut) and stuffing it with thinly sliced apple and onion, finishing with a layer of ketchup, mustard and cheese. Whatever apple and onion you can’t fit into the sausage you leave next to it in the pan. You can also add some extra veggies to bake with it, but key is onion and apple which melt together during cooking, creating a sweet puree at the bottom mixing with the juices from the sausage.


When done stuffing, bake it in the oven for about 40-50 minutes on 230 degrees. In the meantime, make your potatoes and mash them with butter and milk. It is important to spice the mash with a light dusting of nutmeg, because this is crucial in marrying the mash to the sausage. Serve together with the leftovers from the apple and onion (which you roast alongside the sausage in the pan). Delicious.


Lunchbox extravaganza pt. 5: cheddar, cream cheese and celery sandwich

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This week I’ve been skint and busy, so less time for cooking than normal. But such sad weeks can be saved by simple yet delicious lunchbox stuff like this saviour-sandwich. This humble creation is a admittedly not as healthy, thick and filling as the first lunchbox extravaganza sandwich, but the ingredients that go with it – cheddar, cream cheese, celery and newly milled pepper – get married in your mouth (as the Swedish saying goes). In other words, it is surprising how good this tastes. The combination is actually stolen from M&S, but I suppose theirs is a cheap bestseller for a reason. The cost of making it at home is difficult to calculate. It is very cheap. Making 10 of them would probably cost £5,50.
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This one is a quickie and you don’t need to prepare anything in advance.
You need:
  • Cream cheese
  • Strong cheddar (and preferably one of these to slice it with)
  • Generous amounts of newly milled pepper
  • Very thinly sliced celery
  • Crispy lettuce
  • Thick slices of bread (nice granary from the bakery section of your local supermarket, or an actual bakery, is the nicest, but granary slice works perfectly fine too)
  • Optional: you can go crazy and add all kinds of salad. I tend to make it when i’ve got nothing else at home, but I’m sure fresh spinach and crushed walnuts would sneak in very easily.

Slice up your bread, spread on a layer of cream cheese on each side and mill lots of pepper on both sides too (it’s important to get the pepper in at this point as it flavours are drawn out in the cream cheese a little, especially if it will be sitting in your bag for lunch, and that tastes very nice). Add a generous layer of celery on one side, put your cheese on top and finish off with crunchy salad. Since there aren’t many ingredients for this one, the key is to think generously for all of them. Press together, slice up to a door stop (or whatever shape you prefer) and pack up in your lunchbox. Easy as that. Enjoy!


Pork Loin Tacos with Black Beans and Leftovers Healthy Salad

I will start by saying that this recipe is AMAZING and that you need to go and do it now and that the photo really does not do it justice… Also I understand that for students pork loin comes a bit on the pricey side, but you can easily substitute it for pork shoulder or pork belly and just cook it slower. Anyway what’s important here is the marinade! Spicy, sweet, smoky and tangy all at the same time. For a medium size pork loin, you will need:

  • 3 chipotle chillies in adobo, with two teaspoons of adobo ‘sauce’ that comes with them. You can buy these at Whole Foods, Borough Market, Cool Chile and other shops/supermarkets that sell Mexican products. These chillies are incredible: not too spicy and very smoky. Once you try them you’ll want to put them in everything you cook… which I do!
  • 3 tablespoons of your favourite bbq sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon of ketchup.
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed.
  • enough salt to season your piece of meat (not much needed if you are using pork belly or shoulder)
  • half a lemon’s juice.

Put all of this in a ziplock bag, get your pork loin in there and chill in the fridge for a few hours. Now on to the black beans! You will need (for a generous serving):

  • 2 cups of uncooked black beans which you will soak overnight (or buy some canned black beans, but it’s definitely not as good. If you are using canned beans skip to step 2.).
  • 2 bacon rashers or pancetta, sliced finely (you can also use spanish spicy chorizo, tastes great!).
  • half an onion, finely chopped.
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced.
  • one chipotle chili (see here they are again!) finely chopped.
  • salt and pepper for seasoning.
  1. Start by cooking the soaked black beans in their soaking water (adding more if needed) on a medium heat until they are fully cooked. Take them from the stove and reserve (you can do this hours in advance and then start from step one just before you want to eat your beans).
  2. Now heat some oil in a heavy pan and fry the bacon for a few minutes until it starts to render fat. Add the onions and garlic and fry for a bit until they become soft. 
  3. Add the chilli and the beans and cook on a very slow heat, adding water if needed. The beans should be getting soft and soupy. 
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. There you go, ready for your tacos!
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Now it’s time to go back to that amazing marinade:

  1. While the beans are simmering away take the pork loin from the bag and brown it on both sides, until it’s quite dark. Move it to an oven-proof dish, along with the marinade, cover it with foil and cook it for 30-35 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees. 
  2. After the pork has been cooked, leave it to rest on a cutting board and take out the marinade into a blender. Add some more lemon juice, some coriander and blend it into a sauce. 
  3. Slice the pork into thin slices and serve with the beans, coriander and your preferred salsa on corn tortillas (the best are from Cool Chile – no they don’t endorse me in any way… but if they want to, I’m more than happy with that!)
  4. Now eat those amazing tacos and curse the time when you didn’t know about chipotle chillies or this marinade!
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Now if you weren’t greedy enough last night and there are still some slices of pork loin around and some of that spicy sauce, it is a good idea to turn them into a salad. For that you will need: 
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  • A mix of cooked grains and pulses (I used quinoa, bulghur, red rice and Puy lentils).
  • Two handfuls of salad leaves per person.
  • A mix of crunchy vegetables (all I had were spring onions and celery…).
  • Some chopped herbs (here I used coriander).

Mix all the ingredients together, incorporate the spicy sauce so that it’s coating everything and add the cooked pork loin on top.


Review – The Roebuck

Yesterday I ventured south of the river for a few drinks with my friend Nelson and stumbled across this little gem. We were originally set to go to Elephant & Castle but I failed to meet Nelson’s challenge of finding a nice after-work place to eat and drink there – is there not much in Elephant & Castle or does someone know of some diamonds in the rough? Recommendations are appreciated (especially by Nelson who lives there). Either way we went to Borough instead, and found the Roebuck.

The Roebuck is a lovely little pub with airy rooms and a chilled out atmosphere. They have a very thoughtful selection of flowery British ales and wheat beers on tap, sourcing from local breweries such as Meantime in Greenwich and Sambrook’s in Battersea (on a related note, pardon the blurry photos…). Their food is excellent too. Nelson who is veggie had the Celeriac rösti burger with kidney bean salsa and sour cream. Having been a veggie all his life, he said the burger in itself was an 8.5, as the flavours were lovingly planned and it was freshly prepared from scratch. If anything it was a little too rich in the cheese, but given the fact that it was a veggie burger, I can’t seriously take the “too rich” as a problem. The portion of chips was in the smallest category, sadly, as this would otherwise had been quite a bargain at £7.75.

Happy Nelson and his celeriac burger

I had an absolutely delicious pan fried coley (a regional white fish which happens to be a sustainable alternative to the over-fished cod) with cauliflower puree and courgette batons with garlic butter sauce (pictured at the top). The skin was crisp and packed full of flavour, and melted incredibly well with the tender fish and subtle cauliflower puree. The garlic butter sauce felt lush and a bit lavish, and was lovely. I often complain over England not being fish-loving enough (in comparison to my fish and seafood-obsessed Swedes), but this little revelation will certainly make me try fish in gastropubs more often. The coley at the Roebuck holds gastropub standards, and at £11.50 I thought that was rather cheap – but then again, the portion was quite small, so it’s more of a tasty treat than a filling main for a starving person.

Helpful restroom signs

All in all, the Roebuck is a very nice little pub. A real effort has clearly been put into creating interesting, locally sourced and freshly prepared food, and the ale selection is very satisfying. Go for a mid-week treat when you want to chill and have some good food, as the atmosphere seems a bit south of the river too – not too stressful, never packed, but very friendly and relaxed. If the portions had been of slightly bigger size me and Nelson would have given it 8 meatballs out of 10, but we settled for 7.5/10.

The Roebuck, 50 Great Dover Street, SE1 4YG

On the meatball and salted cod map:


Review – Indian YMCA

Indian YMCA is a new meatball and salted cod favourite find. Situated in the slightly unlikely neighbourhood of Fitzrovia, it is super-cheap, friendly and very unpretentious. The atmosphere is nice, especially if you like talkative neighbours. It’s a bit like a school canteen – if only canteen food had ever been delicious and the food ladies were nice old Indian chefs instead of intimidating force feeders.

On the day we went, we had a good meaty mutton curry (long cooking made it taste very rich and full of lamb, but given the price one shouldn’t expect too much from the meat), a tarka dhal which was smoky and delicious, and a tangy and spicy Goan fish masala, which made the Salted Cod recollect Portuguese fish stew (stemming from historical links between Goa and Portugal). To this we had rice, chapatis and popadoms, which were fine, really tangy mango pickle, cooling yoghurt (needed for the fish!), wonderful herby raita, and onion bhajis which were nice but not freshly made (the only thing that suffered for not coming straight from the fry).

We had lots to eat, beside which there is also a chicken curry, vegetable lentils, chickpea curry, mango chutney, mixed salad and mango lassi to choose from.

If you go two of you, pick random curries and condiments and make your own little thali at the table. But if you are on your own you are still in good company: there are lots of lone-eaters here  and going on your own would not feel awkward. There is probably higher likelihood someone tries to start conversation with you, though. The chefs behind the food counter are helpful, and you just pick and mix whatever dishes you like (they are already dished up in small bowls, but it’s all newly made and given the lively queue it is doubtful much of it stands for long). Water is free and already placed at the table. We paid 11.50 for both of us, were very satisfied and absolutely stuffed leaving the place. In fact, we couldn’t finish it all.

Given the home-cooked flavours and the friendly atmosphere coupled with the incredibly good-values price, we award it 8 meatballs out of 10. As usual, you can find this place through the Meatball and Salted cod map of London here.

(photo borrowed from Indian YMCA’s Website)