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‘Miscellany’ Category

  1. Enchilada sauce take 2

    February 23, 2014 by Lisa

    I don’t always follow my own recipes and do a lot of ad hoc cooking, so last night I did chicken enchiladas, and loved the sauce so much, I want to try to repeat it. Not sure if it was the quality of the peppers, or simply the simplicity of the recipe. You can find the original recipe here, but I like this one much better:

    4 Ramiro (large long red) Peppers
    1 tblsp Ground Cumin
    1 cup Chicken stock + some reserved chicken grease from cooking the chicken thighs as per the previous recipe
    2 tablespoons flour mixed in water to make a paste

    Slice the peppers and remove the seeds and tops. Roast in a 200C oven until fragrant and slightly blistered. Remove and let cool. Put the peppers in a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend well. Pour into a largish saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened.

    If you like your sauce hotter, roast a few red chilis with the peppers and add them too.

  2. Perfectly Simple Hollandaise for Two

    December 25, 2013 by Lisa

    Whenever I make hollandaise sauce, I find that I make way too much. I’ve also messed it up a few times as it’s a bit of a pfaff. This recipe is apparently from McGees on Cooking and is as easy as it gets.


    • 2 egg yolks
    • 125g cold butter
    • 1/8 of a lemon
    • 1 tablespoon water

    Place the egg yolks, water and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and whisk constantly. Don’t let up or leave it. When the butter is melted, turn the heat up to medium and continue to whisk until thickened, squeeze in lemon to taste and add some salt and white pepper (black pepper is just as tasty, but less traditional and not quite as pretty). Serve immediately or keep warm in a thermos.

    Job done. Perfectly silky, delicious and just the right amount for two eggs Benedict or two generous portions of asparagus.

  3. fast day foods

    June 28, 2013 by Lisa

    Until about 2 years ago, I never dieted a day in my life. I was one of those people whose metabolism just seemed to keep me at one weight consistently. I only lost weight if I was ill, but never gained anything more than I was when I was 18. Sadly, this is no longer true. So, a few months ago I tried to shift those extra pounds by restricting my calorie intake to 1200 per day and getting a bit more exercise.

    But I found it was shockingly hard to do. I could stay under once or twice, but generally I’d go over. Sometimes by a hundred or so, but often by several hundred. It only took a pint of Guinness.

    Recently I read about intermittent fasting via the 5:2 Fast Diet. With this you eat normally 5 days a week, but for 2 days, you restrict your calories to a measly 500 (600 for men). I won’t go on about it – go to the website, read the book, do a search online. It’s a good idea, based on good science and I’m just starting to try it now. I’m only on Fast Day 4, but I’ve seen good results already. The fast days are pretty easy and my “feast days” are actually less calorie filled than normal. I’ve lost 3 pounds in a week and a half and already feel better. I’ve also given up bread for the most part (OK, not entirely).

    Eating only 500 calories a day means making those calories count and I’m also enjoying the challenge of coming up with tasty, filling and healthy meals. When I come up with something new, I’ll post it here, along with calorie counts. The other 5 days a week, I’ll be pulling from my other calorie-filled recipes without guilt or calorie counting.

    Wish me luck and hope you enjoy the recipes!

  4. Mushroom butter and red wine sauce

    March 23, 2012 by Lisa

    A very nice steak sauce and a good way to use the butter that a side of mushrooms are cooked in.


    • Sliced or button mushrooms
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 2 tbsp plain flour
    • 1/2 glass red wine
    • 1 beef bullion cube dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water (or 1/2 cup reduced beef stock)
    • Salt
    • A generous amount of freshly ground pepper

    Sauté the mushrooms in the butter over a low heat until browned. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Add the red wine and cook for 5 minutes until the alcohol is cooked off. Whisk in the flour one tablespoon at a time until smooth. Slowly add the beef stock.

    Enough for two steaks.

  5. Mexican Chorizo

    March 2, 2012 by Lisa

    I get confused looks in the UK when I wax lyrical about Mexican Chorizo and its uniquely greasy properties. Unlike Spanish Chorizo, the Mexican sort is a fresh sausage that’s rarely eaten in sauasage form (at least I’ve never eaten that way, though a friend mentioned barbequing them). Of course there’s nothing like it available here, so I have to make it myself.

    Previous versions have had neither the colour, flavour nor requisite greasiness for me and this one isn’t quite right either so check back for improvements. This version uses dried Guajillo chilis, but you can just as easily use Anchos. Try the Cool Chili Company for mail order or you can pop into¬†Taqueria, their little restaurant in Notting Hill.

    You could use pre-ground pork, but I like the way the ingredients grind together when done this way. You also have more control of the quality of the meat and the amount of fat you use. By all means, use less fat, but it won’t be as good!


    • 750g fresh pork, heavy on the fat – about 20%
    • 4 dried Guajillo Chilis
    • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 small onion, chopped finely
    • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
    • 1 tablespoon Habanero Tabasco
    • 2 teaspoons salt

    Make sure all your ingredients, bowls and blades are cold before starting – this will help prevent your grinder from clogging up. Chop the pork into 1 inch cubes and lay on a tray and freeze until very cold, but not rock hard or it’ll never go through the grinder.

    Soak the dried chilis in hot water until soft and remove the seeds and stems. Place them, the vinegar and the other spices in a blender or food processor and combine until they form a thick red paste. Chill the mixture as well.

    Spread the spice mixture on the pork and grind together. Refrigerate for an hour or longer (the longer you leave it, the more intense the flavours.

    Fry with egg and serve wrapped in a flour tortilla. Traditionally accompanied by skillet fried potatoes, but I also like it with Mexican rice.

  6. Steak Sauce

    January 24, 2006 by Lisa

    Particularly nice on filet steak with a potato rosti. These are measurements in the ‘guesstimate’ style.

    • 1 cup beef stock
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup canned chopped tomatoes or tomato puree
    • 1/2 glass red wine
    • 2 cloves garlic – chopped or pressed
    • generous shake of chili flakes, salt and fresh ground pepper

    Cook the steaks a couple minutes on each side for rare/medium rare and remove them to a medium oven to keep warm.

    Add the beef stock, wine, vinegar and tomatoes to the pan and cook 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and boil hard until the sauce becomes syrupy. If you used the chopped tomatoes (or there are big chunks of garlic), you may wish to strain the sauce before pouring over the steaks.

  7. Brilliant Cough Remedy

    January 9, 2006 by Lisa

    You know those nasty coughs you get at the end of a cold? The ones that are worse at night or when laying down and won’t let you sleep? I hate those.

    Here’s a brilliant remedy that works in seconds and lasts all night (well, nearly).

    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or a couple of drops of tabasco – I was out of cayenne)
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tbsp honey (I use the manuka honey as it’s supposed to have extra antibacterial properties – worth a shot, hey?)
    • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp boiling water

    Mix well and take 3 teaspoons to calm the cough. Keep the rest by the bed just in case. Amazing.

  8. Pico de Gallo / Guacamole

    January 2, 2005 by Lisa

    Two simple fresh garnishs for all sorts of Mexican dishes.

    Pico de Gallo:

    • 2 or 3 chopped ripe tomatoes
    • 1/2 diced red or white onion
    • 1 or 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
    • handful of chopped fresh cilantro
    • a few splashes of tabasco or a chopped red chili pepper to taste
    • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

    Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least an hour.


    Same as above, but stir in two mashed avocados and the juice of half a lime (prevents avocados from going brown – for a while, at least).