BBQ Grilled Rib of Beef and Butter Beans

Rib of beef & butter beans

I think it’s fair to say that for meat lovers, there’s very little more rewarding that a decent piece of steak on the BBQ. It’s just the perfect paring, as is a nice beer, which I’m also very partial to.

I was in town a couple of weekends back and came across the Northumberland Sausage Company in the Fenwicks store, a good local company. They do all sorts but I couldn’t resist the rib of beef and so ordered  a piece one rib thick from the neck end. Enough for two, just, I figured 😉

Wouldn’t you know it but the sun shone the next day. Crazy, I know. Immediately then, the population were out en-mass soaking up the rays. If anyone has read my ‘About‘ page they will see that I don’t shy away from a BBQ opportunity and so in the blink of an eye the cover was off and the neighbours were scrambling to get their washing in as the smoke poured out. Sorry guys.

Nothing complicated here – I simply rubbed the meat with salt, black pepper, some chilli flakes and a little oil to get things going.

Rib of beef

To accompany it, I made a quick medley of butter beans, finely chopped onion, courgette/zucchini and peppers with creme fraiche. I’m quite into beans and pulses at the moment. I’m sure there’s a French term for this kind of thing, but it eluded a Google search…

Lastly, and because I like it, I made a quick rocket and parmesan salad for a bit of peppery bite.

Serves 2, I guess…

  • 1 850g/30oz peice of beef rib, bone in.
  • Chili flakes, sea salt, ground black pepper and oil
  • 400g/14oz butter beans cooked (see below)
  • 1 small courgette or zucchini, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on.
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • about 4 tbsp creme fraiche
  • English mustard and salt to taste.
  • Some chopped dill – would have been great, but I didn’t have any. Sigh.

For the rocket salad:

  • 4 handfuls rocket
  • Parmesan shavings
  • Good drizzle of decent olive oil
  • Black pepper & salt.
  • Balsamic vinegar (if you want)

The butter beans can be from a can, but I had dried ones, which I’d soaked over night and boiled for about 30 minutes. Just don’t salt the pan, they’ll turn to bullets as I found out in the past…

Rub the meat with the seasonings on both sides. Get the grill on with the lid down and once the smoke starts billowing out, put the rib of beef on.

Close the lid and open a beer.

Go back in and in a heavy pan, fry the onions and garlic gently until soft and caramelised. About ten minutes.

In between, pop out to the garden and turn the beef. Have a swig of beer.

Add and fry the vegetables for a couple more minutes and stir in the beans. Combine, then add the creme fraiche – heat through. Add English mustard (about a tsp) and salt to taste. Leave in the pan whilst you finish the beef, if it’s a good heavy pan, it’ll stay warm

Butter beans and creme fraiche

The beef should be done in about twenty minutes with plenty of turning if you like it rare. This is with the BBQ internal temperature at about 160°C. I used a probe though to ensure the middle of the meat was at 55ºC/130ºF. Perfect. Get it up to nearer 60ºC/140ºF if you prefer medium rare. Leave to rest in a warm oven (or on the grill with the gas turned off)IMG_9080-impIMG_9094-imp

Make up the rocket salad. Slice the beef and serve it up with a decent glass of red. Or another beer….



Indian Stir Fry


Necessity is the mother of invention it’s often been said, but for me it’s when it’s just me for dinner.

I often use it as an excuse to try out something different, safe in the knowledge that if it turns out like pig-swill, it’s only my dinner I’ve ruined. And, let me say, I’ve ruined many a dinner.

But undeterred, I was a bit stuck the other evening. After a long day in the office I think my brain was sick of making decisions and so I stood staring into the fridge like a comatosed zombie.

Chinese or Indian, I pondered….Chinese or Ind……wait a minute – CHINDIAN food!  *fanfare plays*

A stir fried Indian dish? Why not. I’ve always got a cupboard full of spices, and normally, some fresh coriander, rapidly threatening to spoil.

This was simplicity itself really, and is a great opportunity to use up some of the aging veg in the fridge. Cauliflower, broccoli, chickpeas – all would have worked well.

The result was pretty good with this version though, for which I used onion and peppers. Bags of flavour.

Serves 1 sad & lonely husband

  • 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced.
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 a red and green onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 and onion, thinly slices
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped chili
  • 1 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 10 small curry leaves
  • Salt

To serve

  • 1 handful chopped coriander
  • 1 handful sliced almonds
  • Sprinkle of garam masala.

50g basmati cooked with turmeric, cloves, bay leaves and salt.

Start the rice. Boil a kettle and add the rice to a shallow pan with the spices and salt (about 1tsp). Pour over enough water to cover the rice and the same amount again. Bring to a boil then put a lid on and turn down to the lowest setting to slowly absorb the water.

Once the rice is done, in a deep frying pan (I used a skillet) or wok, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds  until they begin to pop. Add the curry leaves, chilli, garlic and ginger and stir for a few seconds. Tip in the chicken and stir briskly until coloured, being careful not to burn the garlic.


Next add the onions and peppers and fry until softened, adding a little water if it starts to ‘catch’ on the pan. Stir in some of the coriander leaf right at the end.

Season to taste. Serve with a sprinkling of a little more coriander leaf, almonds and garam masala, and the rice. I thank you.

Indian stir fried chicken and peppers

Asparagus, Parmesan Custard and Anchovy Croutons

Asparagus Parmesan Custard Anchovy Croutons

And so once again it’s asparagus season. That’s very much a good thing as far as I’m concerned, being a Worcestershire lad. For a few fleeting months, we can get these quality shoots before we’re back to the pencil thick imports from God knows where. I try and avoid these.

They’re brilliantly adaptable, whether steamed, grilled, roasted, thinly sliced in a salad etc etc. Best of all it’s very good for you, being packed with antioxidants and vitamins B & K apparently.

*closes wikipedia*

The only downside of course, and I know I putting myself out there, but I’m one of those people with the apparent genetic predisposition to notice the, err, after-affects. I’ll say no more it’s a food blog after all 😉

Of course asparagus is classically paired with egg and/or hollandaise, and this recipe isn’t a million miles away in terms of ingredients.

The Parmesan custard, though prepared differently, is based on a starter I used to like in an Italian recipe. That was thick like crème pâtissière, but this has been prepared thinner, more like a crème anglaise. Or custard as we call it here. I finished it off with some anchovy infused croutons.

The asparagus was prepared my favourite way – chargrilled. But then I prefer most things chargrilled.

Massive umami flavours result of course and although this would make a nice lunch or starter by itself, I added some roast chicken and a little side salad to make it a bit more substantial for dinner.

Serves 2

For the asparagus

  • 8 lovely large, fresh asparagus spears!
  • 1 lug of garlic oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the parmesan custard

  • 350ml whole milk – cold or room temperature (if you have time – infused with 1 tbsp black peppers and 1 bay leaf  – cooled)
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 2 egg yolks (room temp)
  • Salt to taste

For the anchovy croutons

  • 1 large or 2 small slices of stale bread – cubed
  • 3-4 anchovy filets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

You don’t have to do this , skip to the end if you prefer! Start with the milk. Heat it in a pan to a simmer with the bay leaf and peppercorns to infuse the flavour. Take off the heat, strain and leave to cool in a bowl.

For the asparagus: drizzle and roll in the garlic oil. Season well with salt and pepper.


Get an iron griddle screaming hot and char them all over until cooked. Press them and they’ll give a little when done, but not overdone.

Remove and keep warm.

At the same time, heat the oil in a smallish pan and fry the anchovy fillet until they dissolve into the oil. Fry the bread in the delicious oil until brown and crispy. Take off the heat and keep warm

Finally, do the parmesan custard – it needs your attention so do it last. Pour the milk (infused or not) into the a cold milk pan and add the egg yolks and Parmesan. Whisk thoroughly.  On your smallest hob, heat gently stirring continuously until it’s thickened. When stirring, make sure you get into the edges of the pan or it’ll curdle the egg – I use a silicon spatular. Reduce until it becomes a nice thick sauce. Taste and season.

Serve the Parmesan custard over the asparagus with the croutons on top and with the roasted chicken/side salad if you like.

Asparagus Parmesan Custard

Pork Cheeks, Spinach and Champ

Pork Cheek, Spinach and Champ

Helen and I have a shared calendar which appears on both our phones. It makes for amusing moments when I get an alert that I have a hair appointment on Friday evening or that I have drinks with ‘the girls’ on Wednesday night…

Even with our synchronised diaries (although I should point out it’s mostly me trying to keep up with her more sociable lifestyle) I constantly get surprised.

And so, I lovingly made this dish last week, starting the cooking the night before only for my phone calendar to remind me she was having dinner with a friend that night. Worse, the venue was the sort of place with more microwaves than hob rings. Humph.

Undeterred I made this anyway and I’m glad I did, as was Helen when she returned having only eaten half her nuked dinner 😉

Pork cheeks are another one of those slow cooked, cheap-as-chips cuts that deliver massively on flavour. I really should have learned from Conor’s advice about publicising this sort of thing for economic reasons though.

I braised the cheeks in cider and stock in a casserole pot on a low heat the previous evening and warmed them back through the day I served them. Most of the cooking liquor had concentrated up nicely and they were naturally melt-in-the-mouth tender.

Champ is an Irish recipe for mashed potato, using butter, milk and spring onions. Strangely, I’d only recently come across it and I’m glad I did. I did a little research and cobbled this together from a few sources. I hope it’s fairly authentic…

Serves 2

  • 500g pork cheeks, trimmed and sinews removed
  • 1 bottle (500ml) good dry cider
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • A medium carrot, 1 stick of celery (snap in two)  and half an onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Pepper
  • A little oil
  • 4 large handfuls of spinach

For the Champ:

  • 2 large floury potatoes, peeled
  • 3 spring onions/scallions finely chopped
  • About 50ml whole milk, warmed
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Spring Onions

Start by frying the pork cheeks in an ovenproof pan or casserole pot until well coloured. Deglaze with a little cider and add the vegetables. Add the rest of the cider and stock and place in an oven at about 140°C/275ºF for 5 hours at least. Leave to rest overnight.

Pork Cheeks

The next day, reheat the pork cheeks on the hob. Reduce the liquor down if needed with the lid off, until the flavours concentrate – taste as you do. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid as a nice gravy and keep warm. A knob of butter stirred in at this stage is a delicious, if unhealthy addition 😉

Quarter and boil the potatoes (15min). Then, drain and mash, using a potato ricer if possible, melt in the butter and then the warmed milk, until smooth but not too ‘wet’. Finally, stir in the spring onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.


Lastly, wilt the spinach in a large shallow pan with a little boiling water for a couple of minutes. Remove and squeeze the excess water out using a sieve and the back of a large spoon (or in your hands).

Serve it all up and enjoy.


Lamb Kebabs with Greek Style Brown Rice Salad

Lamb kebabs and brown rice salad

Firstly, an apology! I’ve recently realised that email subscribers get a full copy of my posts as they are published. The problem is, time being tight as it often is, I usually publish first and make any corrections later so as it doesn’t go out too late at night. This means some rather ‘rushed’ copy goes out there initially. I’m not a very accurate typist, so I’ll bear this in mind in future *slaps wrist*.

So anyway – food. The sun’s out and the cover is off the barbecue. Happy days!

Instinctively then, I started thinking of Mediterranean type dishes of late and I was also inspired by a local sandwich shop/takeaway.

I pass this place most days coming back from work and stopped there the other afternoon as I was in the area. I got chatting to the owner who’s keen to make his menu as healthy as possible, being based around wholewheat wraps, brown rice and salad. It tasted good too and whilst I’m sure there are plenty of these places in the trendier parts of London, it is a bit unique round my way – I hope he does well.

And so having some minced lamb in the fridge, I made these kebabs with a brown rice Greek style salad and a quick Tzatziki.

The smell was great on the grill outside….

Makes 4 kebabs:

  • 500g minced lamb, no too lean or it’ll be dry
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • Salt about a pinch per person (so – 4)

Just a quick tip, but I tend to mix everything, going easy on the ingredients, and fry a small bit first to taste.

For the Greek style brown rice (serves 4)

  • 200g brown rice
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced. Red onion would have been better.
  • 1/2 a red pepper, diced
  • A handful of chopped coriander
  • 100g of goats cheese (Feta works well)
  • Juice of the other 1/2 of lemon
  • Green and/or black olives.
  • 4 good tomatoes, quartered.
  • Extra virgin olive oil

For the Tzatsiki – I used this recipe at the BBC. Nice.

Cook the brown rice first, it takes a little while longer than white rice.

Meanwhile, mix the kebab ingredients. By hand works better. Roll into sausage shapes and thread onto some wooden skewers. If using a charcoal BBQ, probably best to soak the skewers first.


Cook until done and keep warm – they don’t take long with the lid on. 10 minutes or so.


Finally, tip the cooked rice into a bowl and mix in all the ingredient for the salad. Serve it up with the kebabs on top, a big side of Tzatsiki and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Summer on a plate!



Lemon Sole and Triple Cooked Chips

Lemon Sole and Triple Cooked Chips


My name is Phil and I’ve had a problem for about 8 years now (no, it’s not that).  It’s that I’m English (no, not that either) and I hate chips.

Actually… that’s not entirely true, I like chips a lot. What I mean is normally, if I’m out in a restaurant I avoid them, mainly because they’re invariably bad, but also because there’s so much more choice now out there in terms sides dishes. I feel like I’m copping-out.

Since Heston Blumenthal made his way onto our screens though, dry-icing cream, morphing meat and triple cooking his chips, I’ve noticed a bit of a renaissance. In fact ‘proper’ or ‘hand-cut’ chips are increasingly being highlighted as selling points on the typical gastro-pub menu. That’s good then I suppose but also, it isn’t, as making chips from scratch is hardly a Michelin starred pursuit in the first place. How low had we gone in culinary terms that we had to, and still do, buy them pre-made and frozen?

Of course I’m not talking about the good old British Fish ‘n’ Chip shop, keep up the good work fellas…

And so, I thought I’d give Heston’s triple cooked chips a go in pursuit of bettering my culinary knowledge. This is a shortened version as to be honest, his recipe calls for a process taking around 3 hours all in all. I don’t like chips that much….

The result was actually very good I’m pleased to say – they had a nice crunch

For this Helen managed to get hold of some freshly caught lemon sole (one of my favourites) and  I did very little to this as it doesn’t need it. To counter the oil – a nice bean salad, same as I did for the mackerel. I had a lot left….

Lemon Sole

Serves 2

  • 2 lemon sole fillets
  • flour for dusting
  • 3 or 4 Maris Piper potatoes.
  • Oil – enough for deep frying
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A side salad of your choice

Start by making the chips. Peel the potatoes and slice into 3/4 inch or 2cm square batons. Try to trim the potatoes into nice square shapes first to keep them all even sized (you can cook the off cuts – I hate waste too!) Rinse very well to remove the excess starch.

Place in a pan of cold water and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes (Heston says 20-30, but I’m not that brave). They should be soft, almost breaking, but keeping their shape.

IMG_8405 (1)

Drain and leave to cool completely by an open window on a plate in a single layer.

Make up the side salad and pour some flour onto a plate for dusting the fish later – season well.

Heat the oil to 130°C/270°F and add the cold chips. Fry gently for about 5-10 minutes, until just about cooked on the outside. Remove and again, leave to cool by the window, same as before.

Finally heat the oil to 180°C/360°F and finish the chips off until nice and golden.

Just as they go back in, dust the fish in seasoned flour and fry in a little oil, mostly on the skin side, until just done. Take out the pan and keep warm. Serve them all together, with a little extra salt and vinegar. Lovely.