Monday, 30 April 2012

Chinese Smoked Mackerel Pancake Canapes

I love drinks parties and I especially love food served at drinks parties.

Last weekend, my friend Andrea had a wonderful 30th birthday party in a wine bar in the newly refurbished St Pancras station, and laid on some delicious canapes brought over by white-aproned bar staff. There were cubes of succulent pork belly, salt cod fritters, goats cheese tartlets and roasted tomato bruschetta. Mrs Ribeye and I made utter pigs of ourselves.

This weekend, alas, no party. However, did that stop the missus and I eating canapes in the comfort of our own home? Oh no! Still in pyjamas at 5.30pm on a Sunday afternoon, I prepared our very own cocktail party for two at home, featuring my Chicken Liver Pate on crackers and these little pancake delights. The decadence!

The thing is, I had bought a large free range duck and fancied making crispy duck with all the Chinese accoutrements, but after making my Confit Duck the day before and my Seared Duck Breast with Roast Duck Wings (recipe to follow later this week) the day before that, I didn't fancy eating another meal featuring our webbed-footed friend - especially as we are still on our 'meat-in-moderation' schtick.

So, with the Chinese pancakes, sweet hoi sin sauce and spring onions burning a hole in my pocket, I had to come up with a solution: Smoked mackerel! Crispy duck is a bit smoky and oily like mackerel, isn't it? So I tried it, and I PROMISE you, it is better than crispy duck! Mrs Ribeye couldn't believe how delicious these pancakes were, washed down by some of her sickly sweet rose. I can't wait to try these out on some actual friends - even though these cocktail parties a deux are quite fun.

Try making these Chinese pancakes with smoked mackerel - they are lighter, tastier, less rich and healthier than duck, and a lot less bother. I just took the mackerel out of its vaccuum pack and wapped it straight in the pancake with the sauce and veg. Canapes in 2 minutes. Eaten in 2 seconds.

I buy the cheapest 'value' smoked mackerel in the supermarket, at £1.50 for four large fillets. The sauce and the pancakes come from my local Asian cash and carry. All-in, these canapes cost about 30p each.

Serves 2 (makes 10 pancakes)


10 Chinese pancakes
3-4 tablespoons of sweet hoi sin sauce
1 smoked mackerel fillet, flaked
Half a cucumber or yellow sweet pepper, sliced into 5mm strips
1 spring (salad) onion, sliced into 2mm strips

Spread a little hoi sin sauce onto a pancake, and top with the mackerel, cucumber or pepper and spring onion. Roll the pancake into a cone and serve immediately.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Bread

You gotta love irony. Drought warnings by the Environment Secretary, followed by the wettest April on record.

Does that mean that we will avoid a hosepipe ban this summer? Of course not. Water, like everything else at the moment is scarce - or that's what the Government likes you to believe. Me? I don't believe a word I hear in the papers, or by politicians on TV. Everyone has an agenda, mainly leading to the hardworking taxpayer working harder and paying more tax.

Let's start a new country like the guy a read about who owns an island in the Seychelles, called Moyenne. He paid £8000 for it in 1964 and now it's worth millions. Of course, if pirates tried to take it over he'd ask the mainland Police to intervene - which costs money, paid for out of taxes. Is there no end?

Anyway, I don't care about scarcity, because without it I couldn't validate my fabulous site offering meals for under £3 per serving. Long live austerity!!!

Today's recipe is a perfect example why the current system does not work. Regular supermarket bread is pappy, bland stodge. DON'T BUY IT!!! I started making my own bread a little while ago, and I haven't bought a loaf of medium-sliced since. Bread dough takes ten minutes to make, a half hour to cook and is a quarter of the price of shop-bought bread. Oh, and it tastes incredible. I bet you could make a loaf from scratch quicker than it would take you to go the shops and buy its inferior equivalent.

The sun-dried tomato pesto is so delicious and easy to make, that I keep a jar in the fridge to use in couscous or pasta dishes, or simply to use as a dip for crudites.

Cost? £1 per loaf, at the current rate of inflation.

Serves 4-6 (Makes a large 500g loaf)


50g sun-dried tomatoes, in 2 tablespoons of their marinating oil
1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
1 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano
1 clove of garlic
Pinches of salt and pepper
Half of my Easy Bread Dough Recipe, proved once only

In a blender, blitz the tomatoes, oil, cheese, pine nuts, garlic, herbs and seasonings until smooth, and set aside. On an oiled baking sheet, pound the dough into a rough oval, 5cm thick. Spread the dough with the sun-dried tomato pesto and allow the dough to rise for a second time. Preheat oven to 200c. After an hour or so of proving, bake in the oven until golden and crunchy and hollow on the bottom when tapped. Serve warm.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

My Mother-in-Law's Russian Salad 'Olivier'

Please welcome my mother-in-law to Potless!

Each year, Mrs Ribeye and I take a trip together to Syktyvkar in northern Russia to visit with the eastern wing of the family. We absolutely love it and I especially do, because it gives me a week-off from cooking and a chance to sample and learn to make for myself some authentic Russki cuisine from someone who has been cooking it for the best part of 50 years. I can't learn it from my wife - she hasn't cooked a dish in her entire 26 years. Bless.

Today's dish was invented 150 years ago by Lucien Olivier in the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow, and traditionally contained all sorts of decadent ingredients: Veal, caviar, duck, crayfish etc. These days, the salad is a mayonnaise-y delight featuring everyday stuff (the more humdrum the ingredients, the better and more authentic the dish - tinned peas are preferable to fresh etc), but is still utterly delicious and reminds me of family. I love it.

Anyway, Mrs Ribeye also takes an annual Easter trip home, without me, to get some quality time with her parents without having to be chief translator, and on this year's trip, her mum made her her favourite Olivier salad - and the missus had to take a picture of it to make me all jealous.

We're both going to visit at the end of the year for Russian New Year (on 7th January - don't ask) and we'll sit down for something to eat at whatever time of day or night we arrive. It's always dinner time at the in-laws place - I am hoping for some Olivier salad, my favourite Seledka pod Shuboy, and some various Pirogi (recipe to follow soon).

Excuse the quality of the photo - it has been taken with an iPhone in Russia, emailed to my Blackberry in London and passed through a filter to make it the right size and give it the right border. That's a lot of technology! Oh, but check out the crockery and tablecloth patterns - how pretty and adorable are they?

Due to the recent Russian clamour for western capitalistic values, food in England is now a lot cheaper to buy than in Russia. £1.50 per serving is all it'll cost you in London. Twice that in Syktyvkar.

Serves 4


2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
200g cooked ham, cut into 1cm dice
1 small tin of peas, drained
2 hardboiled eggs, cut into 1cm dice
2 spring (salad) onions, chopped
100g mayonnaise
Pinches of salt and pepper

Crusty bread, to serve.

Combine the salad ingredients and chill for an hour or two to allow the flavours to intermingle and develop. Serve with the crusty bread.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Best Ever Cheese, Bacon, Mushroom ('Mac-Mac-Cheese') Gourmet Pasta Bake

I love macaroni cheese. Not the molten-Cheez-wizz-on-tiny-macaroni type of mac and cheese, but the type of macaroni cheese that by rights should be called a 'fusilli carbonara pasta bake', or something.

The reference in the title to 'Mac-Mac-Cheese' comes from my sister's son, my nephew, Rocky. It doesn't matter what I put in this dish, if it has pasta and cheese in it, he calls it a macaroni cheese (AKA 'mac-mac-cheese'). Even if it contains truffles or foie gras. Or bananas.

Oh, the other thing: It's not really a 'bake' - you just fold the sauce through the pasta and grill the top with a delicious breadcrumb and parmesan crust. Sorry, I don't make up the rules.

In today's recipe, the humble mac and cheese has evolved beyond convenience food to become a gourmet dinner party creation involving pancetta, mature cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, large field mushrooms, fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil. If it was up to Mrs Ribeye, we would eat this every week - but then she'd be married to a fatty, which she wouldn't like so much - so once a month it is, maximum.

To keep the cholesterol down to it's bare minimum, I make my cheese sauce with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, and all those good fatty acids help me feel less guilty about the mountain of cheese I add. Plus I find that it makes a smoother and more authentic Italian style sauce. It's so delicious, that you'll never want to use butter again.

Buy the best pancetta, cheese, olive oil and pasta that you can find, and this still comes in well under budget at £2 per serving.

Serve with a green salad tossed with a sharp vinaigrette dressing, to cut the richness of this deliciously cheesy dish.

Serves 4


500g dried rigatoni, fusilli or penne pasta
25g of salt
25ml of olive oil
200g pancetta or streaky bacon, cut into 1cm dice
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, cut into 2cm chunks
75ml extra virgin olive oil
75g plain flour
500ml milk
Pinches of salt and pepper
200g cheddar cheese, grated
50g breadcrumbs
50g parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta, with the 25g of salt, in plenty of water. While the pasta is cooking, fry the pancetta, onion, garlic and mushrooms with the 25ml of oil, on a moderate heat, until translucent. In a separate pan, on a moderate heat, cook the 75ml of oil with the flour until you have a smooth paste (approx 5 minutes). Add the milk in 50ml batches until you have incorporated all of the milk and you have a lump-free sauce. Add the salt and pepper and keep cooking until the sauce has slightly thickened (approx 15 minutes), stirring to prevent burning. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the cheese until it has melted and the sauce is thick. Add the pancetta mix to the sauce and fold through. Drain the pasta and add the sauce to the pasta pan. Fold the sauce through the pasta and transfer the mix to a roasting dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese over the surface. Place under a hot grill until the top is golden and crunchy (approx 5 minutes). Serve with a green salad.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

Mrs Ribeye has arrived back from her annual parent-fest in Russia and I though I would detox her from all of the Seledka pod Suboy and other Russian culinary delights by making her some of these glazed cinnamon buns for her first breakfast back in her adopted homeland of the UK.

These rolls are not exactly traditional British fare, but there is a cinnamon roll kiosk at the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street that has the most incredible aroma wafting out of it night and day, that I almost feel that the American/French/German/Who-Knows-Where smell has become as much of the authentic local landscape as my own wife.

These buns are so easy to make. I made the dough, using my No Fuss method, in ten minutes flat and then picked up Mrs Ribeye from Heathrow airport (in our lovely new car!!!!!!) while it was proving. By the time we got back, the dough was ready for flavouring and baking. Simple.

We managed to chomp four of them within five minutes of them coming out of the oven, and then ate the rest the next day split and toasted. I think they were even better as leftovers.

I have had another idea: These rolls would be great as the base for a delicious Bread and Butter Pudding - recipe to follow in the not-too-distant-future. One problem though, how am I going to make ANYTHING with the leftovers if we scoff these rolls before they've had a chance to make it into another dish? Er, make twice as many, silly! (Actually, I'm not 100% sure that that will work either).

As with most bread-y treats, these rolls are not only easy to make, but cheap too. Only 15p per roll - making the £2 per roll that the kiosk charges in Oxford Street seem like a joke, actually.

PS. Another happy 30th birthday wish to Andrea, from Mrs Ribeye and I. Your party last night was fab!

Makes 8 Cinnamon Rolls


Half of my Bread Dough Recipe, proved once only
50g butter or margarine, melted
100g granulated or caster sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
50ml water

Roll out the dough to an area of 30x15cm, with a uniform 3cm thickness, and allow it to prove for a second time. After about an hour of proving, spread the dough with the butter, half of the sugar and all of the cinnamon and roll it up across the width until you have a long sausage. Cut the sausage into 8 rolls and place them cut sides up in a high-sided baking tray (see pic below). Preheat the oven to 200c. Bake the rolls for 40-45 minutes, until golden on top (if you like, you can turn the whole bunch of rolls over and leave them in the cooling oven to crisp up the bases). Mix the the remaining half of the sugar with the water and microwave it for 30 seconds to create a syrup. Glaze the rolls. Serve warm.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Zucchini Fritti with Garlic and Mint Yoghurt Dip

Courgettes are so versatile. Sometimes I want to eat them all soft and velvety in my Ratatouille, sometimes I want them to be smoothly blended in a soup, and often I add them to a frittata. However, when the day is as miserable outside as it it is today in London, the only thing for it is fried food.

For some reason, frying courgettes in breadcrumbs feels more virtuous than frying, say, French fries, but I don't see why. Courgettes and potatoes are both vegetables (actually the potato is a tuber, but who's counting?), so there should be no hierarchy of virtuousness (virtue? virtuosity? virtuositousness?) between those two dishes.

Anyway, this dish is so easy to do, that it seems a shame to reserve making it for special occasions. I made this batch in ten minutes flat , from chopping the veg, to sitting down to dip the finished article in this delicious yoghurt dip. That's another thing - yoghurt instead of mayonnaise. What a healthy(ish) treat!

When you cook the courgettes, don't fry them to death. They are much nicer with a small amount of bite left in the centre, and with the breadcrumbs a light, rather than a darkly caramelised, colour.

Cost-wise, these fritti are certainly as cheap as chips: £1 per serving, including the dip.

N.B. They are also fabulous served with my Courgette Soup.

Serves 2 (as a side dish)

Zuchini Fritti


1 large courgette, cut into 1cm dice
1 tablespoon of flour
1 egg, beaten
50g breadcrumbs
Pinches of salt and pepper
Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

Dip the courgette chunks into the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden and crunchy on the outside (2-3 minutes approx). Season with the salt and pepper. Serve with the Garlic and Mint Yoghurt Dip.


Garlic and Mint Yoghurt Dip


100ml plain yoghurt
Half a clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of dried mint
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients together and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavours mingle, and the dip to chill.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Anchovy, Marinated Artichoke, Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Mrs Ribeye is away visiting her folks in Russia for her annual Easter trip home. Unfortunately, that means that left to my own devices, I cannot be bothered to cook a proper meal for myself.

Today, I have made my Courgette Soup and will be eating it with this delicious bruschetta.

I know that this might sound a bit like a proper meal, but the truth is, I made the soup a few days ago in anticipation of not feeling particularly inspired to create a sumptuous meal for one in the coming few days, and let's face it, the bruschetta cannot justifiably be called 'cooking'.

Another reason to pair these two dishes together is that I am quite loving the 'eating meat in moderation' schtick, which we started a couple of weeks ago. I know it probably won't last, but I will keep it going for as long as I can.

Use plum tomatoes, if you can, for the bruschetta. I don't know why, but plum tomatoes remind me of Italy in a way that the bog standard packs of supermarket light red tomatoes never do - and this dish is Italian after all, so authenticity will elevate this dish beyond a mere open sandwich. For this reason, I'm calling my courgette soup 'zucchini soup' for today, and I'm going to eat this meal while watching The Godfather. Any excuse...

You can buy jars of ready-marinated artichoke hearts in  most supermarkets (life is way too short to marinate your own artichokes, surely?), which are great with this bruschetta, and also an essential ingredient on my Quattro Stagioni Pizza.

These bruschetti (excellent use of Italian pluralisation here - I hope I've got it right) would also be great with cubed mozzarella, shaved parmesan, goats cheese, or other marinated vegetables, like sweet red peppers. This combination here will set you back £1.50 per generous serving.

You could also make these bruschetti in a smaller size for a summery drinks party.

Serves 2 (2 large bruschetti each)


4 large plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped into 1cm dice
12 pieces of marinated artichoke hearts, cut into 1cm dice
2 tablespoons of olive oil (or the oil from the jar of marinated artichokes)
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Pinches of salt and pepper
1 ciabatta
4 anchovy fillets
4-5 basil leaves, torn

Mix the tomato, artichokes, oil, oregano and seasoning in a bowl and refrigerate to allow the flavours to mingle. In the meantime, split and toast the ciabatta. Spread the tomato and artichoke mix onto the bread and lay the anchovy fillets over. Sprinkle with the torn basil leaves immediately before serving.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Home-Made Whopper with Onion Rings

Hello, my name is Reggie, and I'm a recreate-my-own-fast-food-at-home-aholic.

The fact that Mrs Ribeye and I have broken our meat-free week today has spurred me on even more to crave a hamburger - and what better way to eat a hamburger than with Burger King's signature dish? The thing is, I cannot bring myself to take a short walk to my local branch in Marylebone station - it's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I only reserve eating in fast food restaurants for when I'm drunk and/or have lost all powers of reason.

I'm not saying that BK, KFC, McD or any of the other chains sell unhealthy food, but... oh, who am I kidding? Of course they do! Their food is most probably choc-full of fat, refined sugars and a million other nasties that started life in a test tube.

So, I make my own burgers at home and stick as closely as I can to the fast food chain's recipe, but use healthier stuff instead. Instead of mayo, I use light mayo. Instead of 80/20 chuck steak, I use 6% fat. Instead of onion rings, I use... no I still use shop-bought breaded onion rings - they're way better than making your own. As far as the famous flame-grilling aspect of the burger is concerned, I use a ridged grill pan with a fierce heat underneath to simulate the bars of a barbecue. Excellent.

At some point I will aim to make McDonald's special sauce, so that I can recreate my own Big Mac, but I am full of trepidation. A couple of years ago, I went online to see whether I could make my own Subway Southwest Sauce. Some guy from Montana or somewhere, suggested mixing mayonnaise with lime juice and chipotle chillies in adobo. I shopped online to buy the chipotles and awaited eagerly for the jar to arrive from the Mexican grocer. When it finally came, I carefully mixed it with the mayo and the lime juice in the specified proportions, and tasted a big spoonful. I was horrified! Not only did it taste nothing like Subway's famous sauce, it actually tasted like body odour. On a hot day. In a taxi. On a leatherette seat.

Completely and utterly repugnant. The chipotles on their own were fine though, so all was not lost, but I need to get over the experience for another year or two before I trust anyone enough to offer me their take on their Big Mac sauce recipe. Or invite me into a taxi.

Anyway, today's dish uses no such special ingredients - just good beef, good bread, good veg and a couple of store-bought sauces. I checked exactly how they make Whoppers in Burger King, including the proportions of each ingredient, and I can assure you that the method I am showing you is absolutely authentic.

Oh the other thing, is that BK is pretty expensive these days - unlike this burger and onion rings, which will only set you back £2.50 per serving.

Serves 1


150g ground steak
1 large sesame seeded white bun
2 slices of mild white onion
2 slices of tomato
2 slices of pickled gherkin
1 iceberg lettuce leaf, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise

Breaded onion rings, to serve

In a blisteringly hot ridged grill pan, fry the burger on both sides until well done. Split and toast the sesame seeded bun and spread the top half with the mayonnaise. Place the cooked burger patty on the lower bun and spread with the ketchup. Place the onion and gherkin slices on the burger, and the lettuce and tomato slices on the top half of the bun. Place the two halves of the burger together and serve with the onion rings.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Middle Eastern Vegetarian Meze Platter

I would never have believed that refraining from eating meat would be this easy.

Mrs Ribeye and I have not allowed a morsel of land-dwelling animal near us since Sunday, and quite frankly, it's been a breeze. If I didn't love the taste of flesh quite so much, I may even consider going veggie full-time.

Whoaah! No way! I LOVE meat! There's absolutely no way I want to join the ranks of hemp cloth-wearing, yurt-owning, sandal-wearing veggies (although, in fairness, I have longish hair, love camping, wear Birkenstocks from May thru' October, and own a poncho which was hand-made in Nepal - but I promise, I am NOT a hippy).

No, I can't wait to sink my teeth into a hamburger - a treat that I have promised myself for Saturday lunch, Hooray! - but until then, it has been no hardship to eat the type of dish which I present to you today.

As you may know, I live but a short walk away from Marble Arch in central London, a major hub of Middle Eastern life and culture. Along the Edgware Road are dozens of delis, restaurants and grocers heaving with Middle Eastern delights, and there's nothing I like doing more than collecting a few of these things together on one plate and serving it as a sort of meze.

If you buy ready-made hummus (life is too short to make your own, surely?), you can jazz it up as I have here with sunflower seeds, olive oil, paprika and fresh chillies, and use it as a centrepiece dip for all sorts of delicious things.

Falafels are deep fried spicy chickpea fritters which can be bought from almost all supermarkets these days. One day, I may post a recipe for these (and for hummus, maybe), but until then buy them ready-made. As for anything else, let your tastebuds be your guide - there are no rules. I have chosen roasted and raw vegetables and, of course, flatbreads to mop it all up. Go Middle Eastern crazy!

My combination of ingredients set me back £2.50 per serving, but you could 'luxe' it up a bit with seafood or lamb - but then you would be lying if you called it a 'Middle Eastern Vegetarian Meze Platter'. So call it a 'Middle Eastern Meze Platter' instead.

Serves 4


1 large aubergine, cut into long strips
2 courgettes, cut into long strips
1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, ground coriander, cumin, salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
300g hummus, ready-made
1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds or pine nuts
1 teaspoon of paprika
2 red chillies, cut into fine rings
12-16 falafel balls, baked or fried
100g mixed olives
1 large red pepper, sliced into thin strips
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
12 flatbreads, toasted and cut into wide strips

Preheat oven to 200c. Mix the aubergine and courgette strips in the garlic powder, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper and half of the olive oil, and spread them out, skin sides down, on a baking sheet, and roast for an hour. In the meantime, On a large serving platter, spread the hummus in the middle, in a thick layer with an indentation in the centre. In the indentation, pour the other half of the olive oil, followed by the sunflower seeds, paprika and chilli rings. Surround the hummus with the roasted vegetables, falafels, olives, pepper strips, cherry tomatoes and flatbreads.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Carb-Crazy, Breaded Fish Burger with Mini Rosti Potatoes

What a convoluted way this recipe came to be developed.

As you may know, Mrs Ribeye and I are on a 'meat-free' week. As you also may know, I am a bit of a fast food fan. Put these two things together and you can count the six degrees of separation that resulted in the best dinner I have eaten in a while:

1. I love McDonald's hamburgers.
2. I like to make my own version of McDonald's hamburgers at home - they are cheaper and better for you.
3. The easiest burger to copy at home is the McChicken Sandwich, because it doesn't use any specialist ingredients or sauces - just bun, breaded chicken, iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise.
4. I am on a meat-free week, so I can't make my own version of a chicken sandwich, but I have allowed myself to eat fish.
5. I hate McDonalds' Fillet o' Fish with a passion - the cheese and tartare sauce in it is truly disgusting together - so I won't be copying THAT recipe.
6. But, I can substitute the breaded chicken in the McChicken Sandwich for breaded fish and make my own McFish Sandwich!

Ta DAAA!!! And that's all there is to it.

Plus, because I'm on a meat free-week, I am wasting away - so I need to replace those delicious meaty calories with carbs, and this is the perfect solution: Breaded fish in a bread roll, with potatoes. I would eat rice and pasta with it too if I wasn't afraid that Mrs Ribeye would leave me.

I use haddock in my burger, but you could use any white fish or salmon fillet. Cost-wise, this is dearer than a Happy Meal, but still under your Potless budget at £3 per serving.

Serves 2

Breaded Fish Burger


2 x 150g haddock fillets
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Pinches of salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
100g breadcrumbs
Sunflower or vegetable for frying
2 ciabatta rolls
6 leaves of iceberg lettuce
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Dust the haddock fillets in seasoned flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, and set aside until needed. Heat the oil in a pan until moderately hot. Fry the fish on both sides until golden and crunchy. Split and toast the ciabatta rolls and spread the upper half with mayonnaise. Place the haddock fillet on the lower bun and top with three leaves of iceberg lettuce, then add the top bun. Serve with the mini rosti potatoes.


Mini Rosti Potatoes


2 potatoes, peeled and grated
1 onion, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons of flour
1 egg, beaten
Pinches of salt and pepper
Sunflower or vegetable for frying

Mix the potatoes, onion, flour, egg and seasoning in a bowl and refrigerate to firm up. In the meantime, heat up the oil in a large pan or wok until moderately hot. After an hour, form the mixture into small rostis and deep fry in the oil until golden and crunchy (10 minutes approx).

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Gefilte Fish with Chrain (Horseradish and Beetroot Sauce)

So so so happy that my 'meat-free' week has fallen on Passover - because it means that I am going to overdose on gefilte fish. I don't follow the Jewish religion at all - I just love the food.

Gefilte fish originated in eastern Europe at a time when fresh fish was expensive and scarce, and so a recipe needed to be created to stretch a meagre fish ration to breaking point. And here it is - a sort of boiled fish sausage or dumpling, with a light texture and a fresh flavour and adorned with a carrot on its head. It must be eaten with chrain - a fiery relish made from horseradish and beetroot. Totally delish.

In theory, I could eat gefilte fish all year round, but for some reason, it only feels right to eat it at Passover. A lot of the reason is that shop-bought gefilte fish is foul, in a cat-food kind of a way, and my mum only cooks it at Passover - which means that I am confined to an annual seven day gefilte season.

If you ask my mum, Mrs Ribeye Sr., how she makes her gefilte fish ten different times, she'll give you ten different recipes. It's not that she's secretive or mentally challenged (that we know of), it's just that she cooks by touch, never writes anything down and therefore never remembers from one year to the next what the recipe should be (although amazingly her gefilte fish tastes the same every single year). She sort of knows, but would need to actually be in the process of making it before she recalls all of the steps.

So, this year, I decided to have a lengthy chat with her about the recipe and finally got what I was looking for - a definitive list of ingredients... to make enough gefilte fish for a hundred people. So, after cutting down the volumes to allow me to make this dish for, say, only four people, I now finally have the perfect recipe to make the perfect amount of gefilte fish. Phew.

You can use any sort of white fish for this dish. A hundred years ago, the authentic recipe probably called for ornamental carp stolen from the town square pond, or your next-door-neighbours son's pet goldfish, but these days, a mixture of haddock, halibut, plaice or bream would be great. Tailor-make your recipe to suit your budget. Because I like value for money, I use whatever the cheapest white fish on offer is - whole pouting or coley at £3.50 per kilo is perfect.

As befitting a century-old thrifty recipe, this dish comes in really cheap. £1.50 per serving, including the chraine, is all.

Serves 4 (Makes 16 Gefilte Fish)

Gefilte Fish


1 kg whole white mixed fish (including the heads, skin, fins and bones)
2 large carrots, peeled
1 large whole onion, peeled
2 sticks of celery
2 tablespoons of salt
100g medium matzo meal or white breadcrumbs
100g ground almonds
1 large white onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of sugar

Fillet and skin the fish, and pulse blend until you have a coarse paste. Take the fish heads, skin, fins and bones and place into a pan with a 1.5 litres of water and the carrots, celery, whole onion and half of the salt. Boil the stock for three hours on a low simmer and discard the flavouring ingredients, but reserve the carrots for later. In the meantime, mix the minced fish, matzo meal, ground almonds, grated onion, egg, sugar and the other half of the salt in a mixing bowl and refrigerate to allow it to firm up. After an hour, form the mix into 16 fish balls and plop them into the stock. Poach for 30 minutes and remove to a serving dish. Slice the reserved carrots into thick slices and top each gefilte fish with a slice. Chill before serving. Serve the gefilte fish with the reduced stock as a kind of thin gravy, together with the chrain.


Chrain (Horseradish and Beetroot Sauce)


200g jar of pickled beetroots
10cm length of horseradish, peeled
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
Pinch of salt

Blend all of the ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Salmon Fritters

As a kid, salmon cutlets were always my mum's surefire way to get me to eat fish.

Not only were they fried (excuse me, which food ISN'T enhanced by a dip in boiling oil?), but also they weren't particularly fishy. My mum's cutlet mixture used a 60/40 ratio of tinned fish to other ingredients - which I found to be a perfectly acceptable dilution.

However, on a trip to visit the Russian in-laws last summer, I thought I would impress them with a dish which was not a million miles away from traditional Russian fish 'kotleti' - and I set about making my mum's salmon cutlet recipe. I totally messed it up. I used one 400g can of salmon and I ended up making about twenty cutlets. I don't know what went wrong, but the mixture seemed to just keep getting bigger and bigger, as I absent-mindedly added more and more eggs, flour and potato. Whatever I added, the mix was way moister than my mum's recipe. 

In the spirit of 'doing my best' and not wanting to add even more bloody flour to the mix, I heated up a pan of oil and spooned the batter into it to cook. Surprisingly, although the cutlets resembled fritters instead of cutlets, they did not fall apart in the pan. I finished cooking them all and they turned out fantastically. Nothing like a salmon cutlet, but in some ways better - lighter, and more authentic to the thrifty recipe that they were designed to be. The ratio of fish in my fritters was about 30/70 to the other ingredients, but I didn't care. The in-laws loved them, and my reputation as a buffoon remained nicely hidden from them for a bit longer.

Now I don't cook my cutlets fritters any other way. When I have kids (hopefully in the not-too-distant future), they will probably love the 30/70 ratio, but will probably make salmon 'muffins' for THEIR kids, with a 10/90 mixture. No doubt, my grandchildren's salmon fritter recipe will omit the fish entirely.

Thanks to my unintentional thriftiness, this recipe is cheap - £1.50 per generous serving of four fritters.

Serves 2 (Makes 8 Fritters)

1 x 200g tin of salmon
3 small potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of flour
1 egg
Pinches of salt and pepper

Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

Mix the ingredients together (not the oil, obviously) well, and refrigerate to allow the mixture to firm up. Heat the oil until moderately hot. Using two dessert spoons, form the mixture into fritters and plop them into the hot oil. Fry the fritters in batches until golden and crunchy, and drain onto kitchen paper.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Cauliflower Cheese

Mrs Ribeye and I eat WAY too much meat.

This morning we made a deal to eat no meat this entire week, and then I served us my Sunday Antipasti Platter for lunch, without it even registering that the ham and salami on it signified a very early (it was only 20 minutes after we made the deal, in fact) break in our pact.

The main problem is that to us, ham and salami are not really meat - they are just a normal accompaniment to lunch, which is why we know we have to cut down. For something to be called 'meat' in our house, it has to be roast lamb, beef or pork. Even chicken is considered a vegetable in certain dishes. This is a BIG problem, and something has to change.

So, starting from ...NOW, we will confine all foods (until Saturday) to vegetables and fish. Tonight, I'm making cauliflower cheese as a main course, rather than as a side dish to Marinated Bavette Steak or Beef Wellington, like I normally do. When I was eleven years old, I went to my friend Benjamin's house for dinner and his mum served us cauliflower cheese as a main course. How we all laughed when I got home and told my family that I was expecting some type of meat main dish to arrive at the table, then realised it wasn't, and then I hoped for a shepherd's pie for dessert.

Well, Benjy's family probably had it right, all those years ago. While I wouldn't make it a regular habit of omitting meat from my diet, I think some serious moderation is in order. I'm aiming for fish twice a week, meat twice, chicken twice and vegetables once, as the star of our evening meals in future. Who knows? We may even grow to like it.

Anyway, tomorrow night, I will be making my Vegetable Curry with Rainbow Raita with Onion Bhajis as a side dish. I really fancy some Mushroom Bhajis too, so I'll post the recipe very soon - we're only cutting down on meat - I didn't say we were on a low-calorie diet, for crissake.

A large cauliflower will serve two of us as a main course, and it cost me £1 at my local supermarket, which means that this dish costs only £1.25 per serving to produce. Veggie cooking is cheap!

Serves 2


1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 tablespoons of plain flour
50ml olive oil
300ml milk
150g mature cheddar cheese, grated, plus 50g reserved for the topping
Pinches of salt and pepper
100g breadcrumbs

Simmer the cauliflower florets in boiling water in a large saucepan for 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix the flour and oil in a small saucepan and cook on a moderate heat for 5 minutes. Slowly add the milk until you have a thick sauce, and keep stirring it to avoid lumps. Take the sauce off the heat, add the cheese and salt and pepper and stir the sauce until the cheese has melted. Preheat the oven to 200c. Take the cauliflower out of the pan and transfer it to a roasting dish. Pour the sauce on top of the cauliflower and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and the reserved cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden and crunchy.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) Tray Pizza

There is no such thing as a traditional Italian quattro stagioni pizza.

When I was seventeen, I went on my first 'laahds' holiday to Rimini, on the Italian Adriatic coast. Twenty of us stayed at the 'Hotel Jumbo' - which was actually a lot nicer than it sounds (don't forget that this was 1989, before cheap lads holidays were in vogue, The Inbetweeners cast were still only mere glints in their fathers' eyes and well before hotels all started to be called 'Holiday Inn, Barbados' or 'Ramada, Hong Kong').

Anyway, within ten minutes of arriving at our hotel, my mates and I went out on our first huge piss-up at a place called 'Tube Bar' (actually not a gay bar, despite the name - however, the doorman looked and dressed like a muscly George Michael, and we didn't think that that was silly or weird or gay at all either), and decided to line our stomachs first at the nearest pizzeria. We sat down, failed to understand a word of the Italian-only menu and asked the waiter for a four seasons pizza. Blank stare. 'Umm, a kwat-row stajee-oney pizza, purr favooray?' Nothing.

So we pointed at the word 'Pizza' on the menu and we were brought a wooden board with a tomato and garlic sauce-topped 18 inch pizza, with a couple of small blobs of mozzarella cheese and a few basil leaves torn over it. It was heavenly, and only cost us a two or three pounds each in today's money (ah, listen to me sounding all old). We ate there every night.

I have discovered that Italian food is so much simpler in Italy than in England, as Chinese food is in China and as Thai food is in Thailand. I'm sure it's the same story in India, Mexico and Mars - three places I'm looking forward to visiting soon. Why is it that here in the UK we have to caricaturise all of our foreign food? Er, maybe because it's delicious, that's why.

I just love a quat stag, as I love sweet and sour pork and 'festival nachos'. I don't expect to eat those dishes abroad, but then I don't mind people in an English-style pub in Florida thinking we in England eat fillet steak and kidney pie, or battered mahi mahi with chips. It's not authentic, but who cares?

Excuse me for posting so many bread-based recipes lately - I made some Dough a couple of days ago and froze it, thinking it would last me a while - wrong. I got so excited about it, that I made Foccacia yesterday and pizza today. There's only one more portion of dough left in the freezer, so I'll probably post one more bready delight soon before I make another batch. Watch this space.

The cost of the dough is 25p per pizza, and the toppings can be as luxurious or basic as you like - this particular combination comes in at a total £2 per serving.

Makes one 30x15cm Tray Pizza (Serves 2)


A quarter of my Bread Dough Recipe, proved once only
3 tablespoons of sundried tomato paste
4 mushrooms, finely sliced
8 slices pepperoni
4 slices air cured ham, cut into 2cm pieces
8 pieces of marinated artichokes
8 black olives
1 ball of mozzarella, cut into 8 pieces
8 basil leaves
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 200c. On a well-oiled 30x15cm baking tray, stretch the once-risen dough by hand until it covers the whole surface - it doesn't seem like it will fit at first, but it will. Spread the tomato paste over the base, leaving a 2cm exposed edge. Arrange the mushrooms on a quarter of the sauce, pepperoni on another, ham on another and artichokes on the last quarter. Sprinkle the olives, mozzarella and basil over all of the toppings, and olive oil over the exposed edges of the base. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until risen and the exposed edges are golden and crunchy. Allow to cool a bit before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Five Minute Foccacia

I lie occasionally. See, there's another one. I lie a tiddly bit more than occasionally. Mostly it's to get out of doing something I don't feel like doing, or to save hurting someone's feelings (aaand, there's another one).

For example, it would be uncool to tell your friend that they've 'chubbed-up a bit', for instance - although I do give the odd reproving glance at my once-svelte friend's third reach for a doughnut - but only if I feel I am safe from receiving one back, for similar reasons.

But the biggest reason for regular porky-pie telling is that I love to exaggerate. I exaggerate a bazillion times a day. I do it to make a point, emphasise a point, make something banal into something funny, or to brag to my friends about the size of my... I'm kidding, I don't need to brag - mine is huge (well, what size of car did you think I owned?).

Today's recipe is a bit of a whopper actually. You can't actually make foccacia in five minutes from scratch. The dough takes an hour or so to make and the cooking time is about twenty minutes, but the forming and flavouring bit in between those stages is only about one minute in length (oh yeah I forgot, the second rising after the forming stage takes thirty minutes). Er, so in fairness, if you average out these times, then this is a five minute(ish) recipe. I call this 'rationalising' - all liars do it.

But why bother lying at all? Well, I needed to distinguish this recipe from my all-singing-all-dancing, takes-ages-to-make, Foccacia Recipe I posted a while back. This quicker one is such an amazing recipe, that really does only take minutes to prepare, that I didn't want you to think it would be so much work that you couldn't be bothered.

Make some Dough and freeze it and then when its defrosted you can spend literally seconds making this bread. If you eat it raw, then this recipe should really be called 'One Minute Foccacia'. I call this 'joking' - all liars use this as a defence.

I served this with my Sunday Night Antipasti Platter - delicious. But you could cut this bread into strips and serve it with drinks, without any accompaniment at all.

This bread might be quick, but it's also also very cheap. 75p per bread is all. This is not a lie. I Promise.

Makes one 30x15cm Foccacia (Serves 2-4)


A quarter of my Bread Dough recipe, proved once only
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon each of garlic powder, dried rosemary and black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 200c. On a well-oiled 30x15cm baking tray, stretch the once-risen dough by hand until it covers the whole surface - it doesn't seem like it will fit at first, but it will. Make dents all over the dough with your fingertips and pour the olive oil all over the surface. Sprinkle the garlic powder, rosemary, black pepper and salt evenly over the dough and allow it to rise for a second and final time. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until risen and all golden and crunchy. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

'Victims Of Their Own Success' #3 (in a series): Coronation Chicken

The buffet.

Not sure how I feel about a buffet. On the one hand, there is the argument that a table groaning with platters of tasty, attractively laid-out delights is a feast for the eyes and an unrivalled chance to scoff a wide range of things - which you wouldn't normally get to do with a stuffy sit-down meal.

On the other hand, the buffet can also be a selection of same-same salads and cold cuts, which, although exciting for the first minute you lay your eyes on it, really is less than the sum of its parts. ie a load of food which you wouldn't want to eat at any other time anyway, and which has been hanging around unrefrigerated for an hour longer than is good for it.

My old man, Mr Ribeye Sr., LOVES a buffet - I'll bet he never sits down to a meal at home. He's such a picker - constantly eating but doesn't ever have a plate in his hand (or a fork.Yuck). But who can blame him? As soon as you pile stuff onto your own individual plate, it looks terrible. Why would you want to eat chicken, salmon, salami, pasta salad, bread and cheese on one plate, all piled up like a Dali-esque, surrealist, mayonnaise-coated sculpture?

The only buffet I actually adore is the rubbish salad bar at crappy restaurant chains, like Pizza Hut or the Harvester. I have no idea why I get so irrationally excited about covering a load of iceberg lettuce and cherry tomatoes in Thousand Island dressing and soya bacon bits, because I'd never normally buy any of these ingredients for consumption at home (actually, that probably is the reason). Crazy.

My wife, Mrs Ribeye, loves carvery restaurants - you know the ones, with a fat jolly chef behind a counter cutting up a turkey the size of a Volkswagen, and a dessert menu featuring 'bottomless custard'. To be honest, I don't think she likes carveries, because she never really eats much of a main course. She just likes custard.

Anyway, why bang on about buffets? Well, the buffet is the battle scene for a true 'victims of their own success' dish: Coronation chicken. No right-minded 1970's buffet table would be complete without a tureen of good old cozza chicken. In fact, 1970's buffet tables normally contained at least six curry-flavoured mayonnaise dishes - remember curried eggs, with the piped yolks etc?

Anyway, thanks to its popularity all over middle class England, the supermarket buyers latched onto the phenomenon to create those disgusting pots of deli sandwich fillers (don't get me started again) in the noble name of 'coronation chicken'. Don't buy them - they're fowl.

For my recipe, I combined a few bits from that other 70's classic, the Waldorf salad, and the result is brilliant. For a true retro-style treat, pile the chicken up on a melba toast cracker and top with a half moon of cucumber (see my pic at the top - that is my very own hand by the way, not a stuntman's) and serve with drinks. I eat mine while dancing to the Bee Gees.

I use free range chicken thighs at £2 for four, which makes this dish a 1970's priced bargain at 20p per melba toast canape.

Makes enough for 20 canapes


4 large chicken thighs
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
25g sultanas
25g pine nuts
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of mango chutney
100ml mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of mild curry powder

Melba toast crackers, to serve
Cucumber, sliced into fine half moons, to serve

Cook the chicken thighs in boiling water until cooked (30-45 minutes approx) and remove the skin and bones. Break the chicken up into small pieces and place in a bowl to cool to room temperature. Mix the chicken with the rest of the ingredients and chill. To serve, pile some chicken onto a melba toast cracker and top with a half slice of cucumber.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Sunday Night in with a DVD, Antipasti Platter

What a delightful weekend. Friday night's two parties were excellent. Happy birthday to Sandy, again, and bon voyage to Magda, again.

Saturday and Sunday were far more relaxed affairs, with the weekend culminating in me making a delicious Sunday night dinner for me and the missus, while watching Meet the Parents for the squillionth time on DVD. I made some Bread Dough on Friday and froze most of it, ready to make my quick foccacia recipe, to serve with this dish, a completely inauthentic (you know I don't play by anyone else's rules, baby) antipasti platter.

I piled coleslaw in the centre of a large serving plate and basically surrounded it with everything I love to eat. I had Black Forest ham and salami from Germany, Pecorino cheese and marinated artichokes from Italy, olives from Greece, coleslaw from who-knows-where (with bacon bits from nowhere at all), and my own foccacia from Marylebone in London. A European Union(ish) of flavours!

I know that antipasti, strictly translated means 'appetiser', but you won't want to eat anything else after this beast. Even Mrs Ribeye got well beat - and she's a 6 foot Russian.

As you can see from the picture, the platter makes an attractive, easy to prepare feast (the plate above is a single serving- don't judge).

As for my Five Minute Focaccia recipe, I'll post the recipe very soon. It's a winner. It's now posted - just click on the link!

Cost-wise, this dish is right on budget at £3 per serving.

Serves 2


200g coleslaw with 50g bacon bits on top
100g Black Forest ham, thinly sliced
100g German salami, thinly sliced
150g marinated artichoke hearts
100g Pecorino cheese
100g stuffed olives
4 pieces of home-made Five Minute Focaccia

Place the coleslaw in the middle of a large plate and sprinkle the bacon bits on top. Arrange the other ingredients attractively around the sides of the plate and serve.