Red Snapper

Not, I must admit, the fish. The drink.

I have long held it an unassailable truth that the greatest drink in the world is the Bloody Mary. I have strong views on how it should be made (chiefly: no horseradish, no stick of celery).

But after reading The MEATLiquor Chronicles, that has all changed. I discovered the unholy / holy marriage that occurs when you swap the vodka for gin and add a dash of absinthe. This drink is just indescribably, insanely great. It’s as different from a Bloody Mary as Dr Pepper is from vintage champagne.

They are quite firm in the MEATLiquor book on not over-spicing. Now I agree, but I think even their recipe is a bit over-generous on the Tabasco. So here’s my take. Serves 1 (rather than the 8 given in the book. Though I could probably drink 8).

  • 12 cm high glass
  • ice
  • 5 ml absinthe (or more – I think more)
  • tomato juice (unspiced)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 scant tsp Tabasco sauce (or less)
  • 1 tsp dill pickle juice
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • shake of celery salt
  • shake of cayenne pepper
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • shake of smoked paprika
  • half a teaspoon icing sugar
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • GIN!

Fill your glass with ice cubes. Pour in and swill round the absinthe. Three-quarter fill the glass with tomato juice. Add all the other ingredients and stir/shake vigorously. DRINK.

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Spicy red cabbage

The smell of this filling the house on Christmas morning is divine…

  • Half a red cabbage
  • small onion, cut in quarters
  • 5 cloves
  • tsp mixed spice
  • 1 large apple
  • tablespoon dark sugar
  • glass of red wine
  • vegetable stock
  • butter

Heat the pan and melt the butter. Add the onion and sliced cabbage. Fry until soft, then add the spices, apple, wine and stock. Bring to the boil, put a lid on and simmer on a very low heat for an hour or two. Heavenly.

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Breakfast Burritos

SonA wanted one of these monsters with custom bacon tortillas for Christmas Eve breakfast. I didn’t quite have the time (or the stomach) for that, so I simplified…

Makes 3 burritos.


  • 1 huge potato (or 3 small ones)
  • 1 medium or small onion
  • some fresh chillis
  • half a red pepper, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 sausages of choice
  • 5 rashers of bacon
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil
  • smoked paprika
  • chilli sauces of choice
  • 200g grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 tortillas / wraps

Put the grill on, grill the sausages and bacon. Remove the bacon when crispy.

Peel and grate the potato and onion – I used a food processor and picked the gratings out by hand to leave the juice out. Fry the potato and onion in a big pan. If it sticks and goes brown in places, so much the better. Add the diced red pepper, fresh chilli, salt, pepper, some smoked paprika. After about 10 minutes, chop the crispy bacon into chunks and add to the pan, stir. Crack in 3 eggs and mix, stirring until the egg is cooked. Then add the cheese and stir until melted.

Now get your 3 tortillas and place a cooked sausage in the middle of each. Surround the sausage with the mixture from the pan, and add your chilli sauce of choice at this point (we like the Wahaca ones). Fold your burrito and quickly grill them in the same tray you cooked the bacon and sausage in.

I’d have taken a better photo, but they didn’t hang around long enough. Not quite as epic as Epic Meal Time’s, but a whole lot quicker and easier. And so, so tasty. We could all have eaten another one…

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RoxBurger review

A welcome addition to Lee High Road in Lewisham, London SE13: a new upmarket burger place called RoxBurger.

It’s small but nicely-decorated inside, with a ‘lounge’ upstairs that you can use for larger groups. The menu is pretty short, but shakes and puddings are on their way, as is an alcohol licence in a couple of weeks.

We had 2 RoxClassic burgers and a Veggie Burger. All were very good. You have a choice of chicken or beef for the meat burgers – we had beef – and we were asked how we wanted them cooked, opting for medium-rare. The bun was a thick, soft, sweet brioche one and the filling was topped off with creamy avocado. The burgers were served in baskets wrapped in plain greaseproof paper for easy eating, with cutlery, ketchup & mustard on the tables – not that I needed either. The burger was not quite as awesome as a Dead Hippy from MeatMarket, but darn close. And RoxBurger has the advantage of being on our doorstep.

Drinks were served in matching tall jars (shades of MeatLiquor), Cokes from bottles with ice & lime. Unlike MeatLiquor, being in a shop with large windows I didn’t need to use my phone’s torch to read the menu. The regular fries were quite skinny and skin-on, and tasty. The ‘Rox Fries’ (seasoned with dried oregano and parmesan cheese) were a bit too heavy on the oregano for my taste – I’ll stick with the regular ones next time.

£11 a head wasn’t the cheapest burger & fries I’ve ever had, but it was delicious, filling food – more than we could eat. We won’t be needing supper. And we’ll be back.

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Spicy pork goulash

This was perfect meal for a wet and not-at-all warm half term supper. Adapted from Jamie at Home.

Serves 4 hungry young hippos.

  • 1kg pork shoulder, skin-on, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 1 or 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • some fresh chillies
  • 2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 tsp dried oregano and/or marjoram
  • 2 red, orange or yellow peppers
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • rice, soured cream, wraps to serve

Heat the oven to 180C. Fry the pork, fat-side down, in some olive oil in an 0ven-proof casserole for about 15 minutes. When the fat has rendered a bit, put the pork to one side and fry the onions, chilli, paprika, fennel seeds, herbs and peppers for about 10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, red wine vinegar and pop the pork back in. Top up with water and put in the oven for an hour or two, until the pork is cooked and pulls apart in tender strands.

Serve with rice and / or wraps and soured cream. Delicious.

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Middle Eastern medley

Just made the most delicious chicken to go with a small Middle Eastern medley… made with some spices from Jerusalem.

Serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 or 3 tsp of zatar (a mix of thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp seasalt
  • 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cranberry jelly (don’t ask why – it just worked!)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar, or other sweetening agent
  • 1/4 onion

Pound the garlic and salt into a paste and add all the other ingredients. Mush up into a thick gloopy paste, which you then smother over the chicken meat. Leave it marinade for as long as you can, then fry in olive oil on a high heat to begin with with a quarter onion cut into thick slices. Reduce the heat and turn the chicken to ensure it is cooked all the way through.

We had this with warmed pitta bread, salad, couscous, home-made hummus and falafels. Utterly divine.

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Goan fish curry

This is adapted from a recipe in Rick Stein’s Fruits of the Sea – only we didn’t have conger eel or tamarind – though if Waitrose do a line of ‘ESSENTIAL conger eel’, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. This is a delicious, quick, easy, economical meal that helps keep hunger at bay and the wolf from the door.

Serves 2.


  • 2 Sainsbury’s Basics frozen white fish fillets, defrosted and chopped into large chunks
  • Optional: handful of defrosted frozen prawns
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 fresh chillies
  • small (160ml Waitrose Essentials) tin of coconut cream
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • tin or carton of Basics chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • small handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


To make the paste, whizz up in a blender the chillies, ground coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric & garlic.

Fry the onions and red peppers in some oil, add the paste – fry for a bit more so the spices seep into the oil, then add the tomatoes and coconut cream. Bring to the boil, add the fish and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Add some chopped fresh coriander at the end, and serve with boiled basmati rice. Delicious and warming on a dark and stormy winter’s night waiting for Sherlock to come on TV.

I’d have taken a photo, but it didn’t hang around long enough.


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Turkish lamb wraps

Adapted from Quick & Healthy Dinners Guardian leaflet by Marcus Wareing.

  • lamb, cut into 2cm chunks, fat trimmed off
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • garlic clove, crushed & chopped
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • veg oil
  • mixed salad leaves
  • 200g yoghurt
  • chopped mint
  • half a cucumber, peeled & grated
  • salt & pepper
  • plain tortilla wraps or flat breads

Marinade the lamb chunks in the soy sauce, cumin, garlic, golden syrup & rosemary. Mix yoghurt with mint & cucumber – the original recipe says to de-seed the cucumber, but by the time you’ve peeled, de-seeded and grated a cucumber, you’re frankly not left with much. Life’s too short to de-seed cucumbers. What was it Dr Johnson said…?

Fry the lamb chunks in vegetable oil until cooked – 10 minutes perhaps. Set aside, clean the pan with a chunk of bread. Eat the bread. Nom. Then warm some tortilla wraps or flatbreads in the pan, fill with lamb, salad & yoghurt dressing. Simple and delicious.

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Summertime suppertime


It feels like summer is almost here, so while I was tidying up the garden I got a lamb stew on the go. It’s a bit like this one that I made a while back, with a few twists.

For the stew:

  • 500g lamb
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • harissa paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6 – 10 dried apricots
  • salt & pepper
  • half an onion
  • a few garlic cloves
  • 4 small carrots
  • water

Put the oven on at about 170C. Cut the lamb into big chunks – about the size of a piece of meat that you’d say ‘ooh lovely’ if it was served to you in a posh restaurant, but secretly you’d be disappointed. Rub a couple of tabelspoons of harissa paste, salt & pepper all over the meat and leave to marinate at room temperature for an hour or so.

In a casserole dish, quickly brown the meat, add the onion thickly sliced, garlic and whole carrots. When it’s looking brown all over, add the tomatoes and a can and a half of water. Add the apricots, halved, and bay leaves. Put in the low oven for a couple of hours, topping up the water after an hour if required.

For the cous cous:

  • 250g cous cous
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • dash olive oil
  • half a teaspoon of sumac

Cover all the ingredients with boiling hot water, stir & leave until cooked.

For the roast veg:

  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • sliced butternut squash, skin-on
  • 1 aubergine, diced

Coat the veg in olive oil, salt & pepper and roast along with the stew – keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t catch.

This was lovely in the garden with a glass of cold Riesling, with fish for the pescatarians. The lamb was sweet & spicy & melty. Delicious.

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Chicken escalope

I’ve never made chicken escalope before – I’ve hardly ever eaten one, except once or twice when I ended up in Bush & Fields (the sandwich bar that used to be in the Bush House arcade) and was so hungry I could eat… a squashed chicken breast.

quick exit

Only 2 of us for supper in the ever-diminishing household tonight – I had a chicken breast and a couple of steaks. I know my daughter often finds steak a bit tough, and a grilled chicken breast sounded boring, so I thought I’d have a go. I didn’t look it up, I just made it up as I went along. Serves two. If you have two chicken breasts.

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • some polenta – 6 tablespoons perhaps
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika (not smoked)
  • 1 egg

Bash the chicken breasts flat with the end of a rolling pin. I ended up with something covering about twice the area of the original chicken breast.

Mix the polenta, herbs, salt, pepper & paprika well on a plate. One a separate plate, whisk the egg. Coat each flattened chicken breast with egg, and then cover really well in the polenta mix. Fry each escalope on a fairly high heat until crisp & golden. Delicious and very child-friendly.

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