Tag Archives: Recipes

New Post, for New Site … Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli …

A beautiful recipe to introduce my new site … to read the whole post click here…

Just to polish off the fresh egg pasta thread, here’s the recipe for the ravioli filling.

When something works, why change it!? This recipe is a timeless combination of baby spinach, creamy ricotta and fresh herbs, all cradled in a springy homemade pasta and anointed with the majestic flavour of sage.

To read the full post click here…

As the credit-crunch bites, so do my posts … Fresh Egg Pasta recipe

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

With reference to my last post on thrift here’s the Egg Pasta recipe and a rather cringe-worthy ditty. All things taken into consideration, it is actually cheaper to buy fresh pasta but I haven’t come across any that are suitable for Ravioli. Once again, the ‘value’ of making your own pasta far outweighs the cost.

Ode al dente

My 3 free-range creamy yolks of embryo gone,
break forth unto ‘double-0’ and spill your song.

Enrich, elasticate and empower these humble milled means,
and let me fill your slippery skin with my wilted greens.

Apologies guys … definitely ‘barred’, rather than ‘The Bard’ …

… anyway that’s the ingredients in a nut-shell (egg-shell?).

This recipe makes about 250g of fresh egg pasta, enough for 12 large Ravioli and 1 large Lasagna (3 layers of pasta).

Equipment:
Pasta machine
Damp tea towels
Workspace

Ingredients:
250g ’00’ flour, plus extra for dusting
3 large free-range eggs (2 whole eggs and the yolk only of the third)
Pinch of salt
Water to keep your hands moist

Method:
Tip the flour onto a large clean work surface. Make a well in the middle and add the whole eggs and yolk into the middle making sure all the yolks are broken. Add a pinch of salt.

Using your finger tips, work the ingredients together by pulling the flour into the eggs in a circular motion. Start building up the mixture until completely combined.

Work the flour and eggs much like you would bread dough. Keep your hands moist to avoid the dough drying-out.

After about 5 minutes of work you should have a stiff yellowy ball of dough. Wrap the dough in a damp tea-towel and leave to rest for about an hour.

Once rested, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roughly flatten to about 2 cm thick with a rolling pin.

Set the pasta machine to it’s highest (or lowest?) setting. Basically the setting with the widest gap between the rollers. Run the dough through the machine a couple of times, and then knock the setting down (or up?) and repeat.

Work the ever lengthening pasta sheet all the way through the machine to it’s lowest (or highest?) setting until you have 1 long sheet about 1.5 mm thick.

Fold the sheet over on itself to the approximate width of the pasta machine and repeat the above steps but feed the pasta through width ways. This will help to strengthen the pasta.

Cut the pasta sheet into more manageable lengths if preferred. Dust each layer with a little flour and cover with a damp tea-towel. I would recommend using immediately however to avoid drying-out.

Jackson Pollock and Chips … (Beer Battered Fish and Chips Recipe)

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

As much as I’m keen on homegrown organic goodness, I’m not keen on eating goldfish. I’ve never tried goldfish I might add, and once again happy to be proven wrong.

(All goldfish recipes should be sent to the usual address: info@tomdowson.com.)

So for this piece it’s more a post on sustainability rather than unattainability.

Now we all know that ‘fish and chips’ constitutes all that that is good in this country.
Essentially … humble ingredients of good stock! But the boney truth of depleted fish stocks can leave a rather bitter taste in ones mouth, therefore in the interest of the Gadus genus at large I decided upon the much hyped pollock instead.

(A quick google search reveals that Jackson Pollock is still more talked about than his aquatic counterpart. I’d love to think this ironic but it’s not really is it!?)

I scrapped a Fish and Chips recipe hunt and reverted back to basics with a simple beer batter for the pollock, twice cooked maris piper chips and served the tag-team with a deliciously creamy, yet tart, tartar. All washed down with a pseudo-posh bottle of Cava in true Friday night style.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Ingredients (more than enough for 2 as a main):

For the fish:
2 x 200g pollock fillets, boned but with the skin left on
200g self-raising flour plus extra for dusting
250ml of cold English beer (I used Bombardier)
pinch of smoked paprika
freshly ground salt and pepper

For the chips:
5-6 medium sized maris piper potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chips
Maldon sea-salt or rock-salt

oil (sunflower or vegetable) for deep-frying

To serve:
salt and malt vinegar
homemade tartar sauce (recipe below)
newspaper
artistic license

Additional serving suggestions:
bread and butter
tomato ketchup
mushy peas

Method:
2/3 fill a large, high sided, heavy based pan with the oil and place over a high heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the beer and self-rasing flour into a batter with the consistency of thick double cream, making sure there are no lumps. Place the batter mix in the fridge.

Rinse the chips and throughly in cold water and dry on a kitchen towel. Toss the dried chips in a few pinches of salt.

When the oil has reached a sufficient temperature (a cube of bread should brown and crisp in approximately 5-7 seconds) add the chips to the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft but still pale in colour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chips and place on absorbed kitchen roll.

Remove the batter mix from the fridge.
Sift the reserved flour, season with freshly ground salt and pepper and add the pinch of smoked paprika. Turn the pollock fillets in the seasoned flour to thoroughly coat.

When the oil has once again reached the desired temperature, dip the pollock fillets in the batter mix and ensure there’s an even coating. Carefully place the fillets into the hot oil and cook until the batter crisps and turns a deep golden colour. Once cooked, remove the fillets and place on a wire wrack to rest.

Increase the heat on the oil and return the par-cooked chips to the pan. Once golden and crisp, remove the chips and immediately shovel onto yesterdays news.

Sprinkle liberally with salt and malt vinegar and top with the fish fillets. Ladle lashings of tartar sauce on the side and destroy while hot.

The marrow after the courgette before … Stuffed Courgette Flower Recipe

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

Before the battering ... fershly picked courgette floweres

Before the battering ... freshly picked courgette flowers

I think, without naming names, that for the majority of my tender years I’ve been misled into chomping marrows rather than courgettes.

Now I’m sure that a marrow’s pure economies of scale justifies over boiling, steaming and/or over processing this off-white, green skinned vegetable and passing it off as “courgette” to unsuspecting school children, nieces/nephews and grandchildren but enough is enough. Through pure coincidence I’ve now had two tastes of zucchini zeitgeist and suspect that I (would have) always (given the chance) loved courgettes but I still rather dislike marrow (I’m happy to stand corrected on my current false-economies-of-marrows view point. All marrow recipes will be gratefully received info@tomdowson.com.

My recent mid-summer encounter with, what I was told were, lightly charred sliced baby courgettes, tossed in fruity olive oil, with toasted pinenuts, sultanas and plump shredded mint stirred through was the first welcome revelation. The simple dish giving an awesome prelude to the second and to my first forray into the rather strange courgette flowers.

Because of my initial distaste towards the “courgarrows” that I’ve been fed over the years, I’ve always chosen to ignore these alien spore like flowers as nothing more than chefy non-entical foodstuffs. How wrong could I have been!

I’ll set the scene … see post: Provenance, Perseverance, Preserves …

… so anyway the afore mentioned PYO centre had healthy crops of … yes your guessed it … courgettes! Still with slight scepticism I picked fruit plus flower with caution. The last thing I wanted to discover was that the wool had been pulled yet again and I’m back in courgarrow purgatory. I was confident that I could do justice to the mainstay of the vegetable using the recipe above, but the recipe below was one of the most triumphant cooking moments that I’ve ever had to date.

Like a mulberry hand-bag (so I’ve been told), you can dress a courgette flower up or down (in this case a simple batter), and whatever you put in (ricotta), the contents are invariably going to be given auto kudos because of what they’re housed in. Essentially both are simply great taste!

I don’t want to say anything more on the subject (nor on my handbag fetish) the recipe and result do more than enough talking, other than to: proclaim my undying love for courgettes, insist that you must try the recipe and emphasise my utter remorse that I may have to wait until next season to produce the same again!

Stuffed Courgette Flowers


Ingredients (enough 2 as a large starter):

7-8 fresh courgette flowers (carefully washed if necessary)

For the filling:
200g ricotta cheese
75g Parmesan cheese
1tsp fresh shredded basil
1tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2tsp of lemon zest
freshly ground salt and pepper

For the batter:

100g plain flour mixed
110ml ice-cold water
extra lightly seasoned plain flour for dusting

For deep frying:
750ml sunflower oil

To serve:
homemade Balsamic vinegar reduction or shop bought version
whole basil leaves and thyme sprigs

Method:

If necessary wash the courgette flowers carefully, lightly dry and set aside.
Pour the sunflower oil into a large pan and set over a medium heat.

Mix all of the filling ingredients together and carefully spoon into the courgette flowers. Twist the tips of the flowers to enclose the filling.

When the oil has reached a sufficient temperature (a cube of bread should brown and crisp in approximately 5-7 seconds), lightly roll the flowers in the seasoned flour and then holding the flower by the tips, dip into the batter mix and then straight into the hot oil. Fry in 2 batches.

When golden and crisp remove the flowers with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll.

Drop the basil leaves and thyme sprigs into the oil for literally 10 seconds to crisp and remove.

While still hot and crisp, plate up the courgette flowers, drizzle over the Balsamic reduction and top with the deep-fried herbs. Devour, making as many ridiculous breathy vocal sounds as possible when you inadvertently burn your mouth on the filling.

26 years in the making but such simple ingredients …

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

Well it’s an ice-breaker of sorts!

A well developed crop I think you’ll agree? … the hair! (I’ll talk about the courgettes later).

It’s rather difficult to start this post, especially with a mandatory introduction.

Hopefully once this initial post has been created, I can kick back and let the food do the talking? … as if!

Without trying to create a needless manifesto, I do feel a need to justify my blogging-clogging and hopefully substantiate my presence on these pages.

Well here we go …

In a nutshell it’s “food” and I’m reckoning that these rambling posts will be some sanctuary for myself, friends and family, who, I hope, enjoy the food I create, but would rather not have the reasoning, provenance and historical importance of the various ingredients rammed down their throats.

At least now they’ll have the option of engaging me in my culinary pursuits and I’ll be able to vent my enthusiasm in a documented medium with a wistful and romantic notion that somebody out there might actually be interested in the fact I made a pot of jam (to come).

Even if only for the sustanence of life, I think we all share an affiliation and passion for food. I know for me it’s been nurtured from very much home grown roots (no pun intended).

I was born into an environment where food was currency. My old dear, confidant and walking/talking reference library, runs a catering business in my hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne. She is undoubtedly my biggest culinary sensei and the cause for the purgatory that finds me consumed with the subject.

Having been brought-up on the delectable scraps of jobs well passed and through the sheer lack of my mother’s time and patience to produce the food requested on the whimsical wants of a Geordie teenager, I’ve actually had the opportunity to witness and taste mini food revolutions on a daily basis.

For approximately 24 years I was an innocent bystander to food. Although for most of them I’ve cooked with vigor and a passion, I think it’s only been recently that I’ve begun to understand, or at least want to understand food.

And so I find myself here … 26 and teetering on the edge of a stock pot abyss not knowing which way to stir the spoon …

This blog is intended to do nothing more than chart this journey and/or free fall.

And for anyone who gives a hoot, I’ll post the vital stats in a bit 😉

Down to business!