Steak and ale pie

15 May


Hi there, don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s mid-May! You can tell by the grey sky, sheeting rain and the fact I am regretting taking my coat to my mum’s to make more room in my wardrobe.

Basically, it’s comfort food weather. Sod your bikini body salads, it’s best to keep that little sleeping bag of going-up-a-size on until it warms up. I made this pie before spring sprang and then promptly dropped dead, but forgot to blog about it, so thanks to the shitty weather you’re getting it now. It’ll help, I promise.

I used the Grauniad’s How to cook the perfect… for this so it’s almost an exact copy based on it.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t want to hear your whinging about how this is a casserole in a hat, I get enough of this at home. Christ.

You need:

  • 800g of ox cheek – I did puppy eyes in Waitrose so the man at the meat counter cut it into chunks for me. A butcher will do this, or you’ll need a super sharp knife
  • 15g plain flour
  • 200g lardons
  • 250g chopped white onion
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 400ml Fullers Golden Pride ale
  • Four or five sprigs of thyme, leaves off the stems
  • Two sprigs of rosemary, leaves off the stems
  • A bay leaf. Just one. Then you’ll realise you already have three boxes of them in the cupboard
  • 1 tablespoon of dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
  • Ready-made shortcrust or puff pastry
  • A marrow bone for a funnel if you’re feeling proper fancy

Season the flour and coat your ox cheek in it, I find it easiest to do this with my hands. It’ll help the meat brown beautifully, but if you don’t have any don’t panic. Brown it off in a frying pan on the stove on a high heat using vegetable or rapeseed oil (or anything tasteless), but don’t bung it all in the pan or you’ll overcrowd it. Once it’s done chuck it in a large casserole dish.

Throw the lardons in the pan, turn down the heat and add the onions. Once they start to brown they all go into the casserole with the beef.

Pour over your ale and the stock (hot, please!), then in go the herbs, sugar, vinega and cocoa. Give it all a nice stir and then get it up to a simmer. If, like me, your casserole dish won’t go on the stove, just bung it in the oven with the lid on now, at 150°c/gas mark 2. It’s a pie. It’ll be fine.


I cooked this for about six hours, stirring when I remembered, so the beef was incredibly tender. For the last hour or so I took the lid off the dish to let the liquid reduce – I stirred it more at this point to stop the top bits from crisping up too much.

I used a little blackbird pie funnel for this, but you don’t need to worry too much if you don’t have one. If you want to show off, which I usually do, use a marrow bone instead. As it cooks the marrow will melt into your pie filling and be delish.

Egg wash the lip of the dish and place your pastry over the top, crimping the edges with a fork. Brush egg over the pastry, add on any decoration and egg wash those too. This will make it shiny and lovely and make you look like you know what you’re doing.


I made this for my boyfriend which is why it is so romantic 

This then goes in the oven at 180°c/gas mark 4 for around 50 minutes. I served it with LOADS of all-butter mash, broccoli and red wine. We’ll pretend we ate all the broccoli.


1 Oct

Puttanesca is one of my favourite easy suppers. It’s usually made with spaghetti, but I always find that a bit slimy so use linguini, or fusilli to really mop up all the sauce.

The name comes from the Italian for prostitute, puttana, and basically means whore’s pasta. There’re lots of arguments about why, but rather than a load of working girls knocking something up for clients (do you pay extra for dinner?) I see it in more of a Godfrey Bloom sense: you’ve been far too sluttish to do any shopping, never mind clean behind the fridge, and this is the ultimate bare-cupboard recipe.

Serves four or two carb lovers

  • Pasta, obvs, of your choice
  • Half a white onion, finely chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Two anchovies, chopped up
  • A tin of chopped tomatoes or around 300ml of passata
  • Tablespoon of tomato purée if you have it
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes depending on how much heat you want
  • A small handful of black olives, halved

Chuck a spoonful of capers in if you like them, and if you have any dried basil or oregano a sprinkling of those.

For anchovy haters like me PLEASE don’t miss these out. You absolutely won’t taste them but they add a perfect bit of salt and non-fish flavour.

Gently heat a glug of good olive oil in a large pan and add the anchovies for a minute then sweat off the onions and garlic until the former have gone slightly translucent.

Throw in the chilli and give it a good stir before throwing everything else into the pan. Let it simmer while your pasta cooks and then stir through with a tiny bit of the starchy pasta water – it helps the sauce stick. Top with LOADS of Parmesan and some torn basil if you’ve got some handy.

Eat with a bucket of red wine and a hot date, just make sure they leave a tip on the nightstand.

Lemon Drizzle 

14 Sep



I used to be quite good at cakes, then suddenly, like some sort of biblical curse, every cake I touched curdled.

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t left staring at a big, grainy mess in the bowl in front of me. At first I thought it might be because my kitchen was so cold, but now I’ve moved back to my mum’s with her fancy show-off central heating and proper insulation and I’ve still got the same problem.

I know all the tricks, putting in a tablespoon of flour before you start mixing the wet ingredients, everything you’re cooking with being room temp, but no luck. The worst bit is I don’t even really know what curdling is, or why it matters. Everything seems to turn out all right in the end anyway. There’s probably a life lesson there, but who really cares?


  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • Skewer


  • Juice of 1 and a ½ lemons
  • 100g icing sugar


  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 150g icing sugar

Grease and line a standard-size loaf tin or loose-bottom cake tin – I know this is a faff and boring and every time I see it in a recipe it makes me clench my fists and breathe really hard through my nose, but you’ll thank me later. Heat the oven to 180ºc/gas mark 4.

Cream together the butter and sugar until doubled in size and light and fluffy. Add the zest of one of the lemons, and the eggs. Gently whisk in.

Fold in the flour and salt, at which point it’ll all seem too thick and dry and you’ll start to get that hollow feeling of failure in your throat. Oh you. Stir in the milk and it’ll all be fine. If you’re me it will have curdled by now anyway. (I usually chuck a tablespoon of poppy seeds in with the flour, but had run out and am disorganised so… didn’t.)

Pour into your cake tin (if you’re feeling fancy you could put some lemon curd in the middle and leave off the syrup later) and pop it in the oven for around 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Just before you take the cake out make the syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice together until dissolved.

While the cake is still hot poke some holes into it and pour over the warm syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Make the icing by mixing together the icing sugar and lemon juice. That’s it. Don’t use all the juice at once, just get it to a thick consistency where it will pour off a spoon, but still set.



Lazy Posh Bolognese 

13 Sep

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Ragu. Cheese, because duh.

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As we all know – and by that I mean you avidly read here and remember everything I say – I hate mince. This means I’ve never got on with bolognese. Also growing up with a vegetarian mother meant it was never really a staple. TLDR; I’m not a bolognese fan.

Then I made this, and I love it. It’s fancy in its own way, easy as falling over, but makes me look good. And those things are quite important to me. The ingredients list seems long but really apart from the meat it’s a cupboard recipe.

SO. You need:

  • 500g stewing beef – go to the butcher, it’s much better than a packet
  • OR a kilo of oxtail. This seems stupid amount-wise, but I’m badly estimating taking bone into account. I make mine with the beef and a few oxtails thrown in
  • One white onion, finely chopped
  • Two carrots, very finely chopped
  • One stick of celery, finely chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Herbs: I’m so basic bitch with this I’ve been using Bart’s Mediterranean herb mix, about a tablespoon. But go mad and use what you like.
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Same amount of water
  • Beef stock cube
  • VERY LARGE glass of good red – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it
  • Time.
  • Pappardelle or tageatelle

First of you need to make a sofrito: take your onions, celery, and carrots and chop them into tiny little cubes. This is ballache unless you have a food processor. If you do, use that. Mine is currently in storage in Croydon so instead I spent some time listening to the Archers and chopping things very small. It should look something like this. But probably better.

Chuck it in with some rapeseed or other flavourless oil plus the garlic too and sweat everything on a very low heat forever until it’s all soft. Once that’s happened throw in your meat and brown it off.


Add the tomatoes, water, wine, stock cube, herbs and stir.

Stick the lid on, put the heat down as low as it will go and cook for at least four hours, probably about six, stirring once in a while.

The meat will pull itself the slower it cooks, if you use oxtail you may need to pull the meat off the bone but I found the bones just came out clean. Reduce it right down until it’s in a thick gravy.

Stir through fresh pasta or reheat and do the same. Eat with lots of fresh Parmesan and red wine. Ignore the prosseco below…

Rik’s Butter Chicken

12 Sep

A few weeks ago I headed to my friends’ for a dinner party. Jess and Rik are both big foodies, which is always a good sign when someone is cooking for you.

They’d knocked up (read: lovingly prepared) a huge butter chicken for us and it was, hand on heart, the best curry I’ve ever eaten. I genuinely got a bit teary thinking about it the next day, and it wasn’t even the hangover.

Rik has very, very kindly sent me the recipe so I can cook it and ruin it and you lot can cook it and enjoy it. So I’ll hand you over to the master…

(Wait wait don’t leave me just yet! If you’re funny about using chicken thighs, which I am, don’t be. I honestly thought I was eating breast and am now converted. Okay, back to Rik 🙄)


This is what Indian people order at Indian restaurants in India. So basically, this is THE curry.

Two parts to this. The chicken and the curry are cooked separately and brought together at the very end.

1. Marinate the chicken

Chicken- I used 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks. You could use boneless thigh fillets but On the bone is MUCH better. If you use breast, we can’t be friends.

  • Greek yoghurt – 3/4 Tbsp or enough to coat all the chicken.
  • Red chilli powder -1tsp
  • Garam masala- 2 tsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 1tsp of each
  • Generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Score the skin if using on the bone. Throw all of the marinade ingredients over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Now leave it for a good few hours. Ideally overnight in the fridge. When ready, cook at 180 for 40-45 minutes in the oven or till the skin is crispy and charred in places. This is essentially a basic chicken tikka. Stop here and call it a starter if you want!

2. The curry

  • Good quality salted butter- loads!
  • 1 red onion chopped finely
  • 1 can of chopped toms
  • Red chilli powder -1tsp (optional)
  • Garam masala- 2 tsp
  • Dried & crushed fenugreek leaves – 3 heaped Tbsp
  • Sugar – 1.5 Tbsp
  • Big clove of garlic, chopped
  • Handful of cashew nuts, crushed
  • Half a cup of water
  • Double cream – 2 tbsp
  • Generous pinch of salt

In a big pan or casserole dish fry the onions in butter till they start going translucent. Add the chilli powder, Garam masala, garlic and cashew nuts and cook out the spices. Should take 4/5 mins.

Add the toms, water, sugar and salt and cook for another 10 minutes till it’s nice and mushy and then take off the heat. Blend this mixture and then pass through a sieve back into the pan. <— this is very important.

3. Bring it together

Reheat the tomato sauce on a low heat. Add a large knob of butter (at least 50 grams) and let it melt and emulsify into the curry. Add the cream and the fenugreek at this point. Add a bit more butter if it’s not a shiny orange colour*. Introduce the chicken to the curry at this stage. Fold through and taste. Take off the heat and garnish with fresh coriander and a drizzle of cream.

SERVE IMMEDIATELY. Butter Naan and plain rice are best friends with this dish.

*taste at this point and if it tastes like tomato soup it means you didn’t put enough sugar in. You can add more but it may not melt through evenly so I would add some honey. It also means you need more fenugreek leaves. A tbsp of honey and a tbsp of fenugreek should rescue the situation. Oh and throw more butter in as well.

Spicy Pulled Pork

20 Mar


Alright, lads? Long time no see. Thought I’d pop in, check how things were, then probably head off with promises that’ll see you again soon. But I don’t really mean it, just like your dad when he popped out for some fags all those years ago.

Anyway. Here’s some good Mexicanny pulled pork. It goes well with enough frozen margaritas to knock out a chupacabra.




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M. E. A. T. 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷

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You’ll need:

  • 2kg shoulder of pork – it seems like a lot, it isn’t. Feeds three drunk people EASY. I usually use 3/4kg and rarely have leftovers
  • Bottle of Sol or Corona or similar
  • One of those little jars of chipotle paste, about 100g
  • Big heaped tablespoon of SMOKED paprika, don’t fuck about
  • Tablespoon of dried oregano
  • Half a tablespoon of cumin
  • Four to six cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the flat of a knife

I serve mine with wraps or buns, cos lettuce leaves and posho supermarket coleslaw because like I have time to be chopping cabbage in my busy and interesting life.

This takes a bit of time, about 10 hours on low in a slow cooker. If you don’t have one, a big casserole in a low oven would do it, but then you have the ballache of not being able to leave the house.

Cut as much of the fat off the pork as possible with a very sharp knife. You don’t have to waste it: my friend George made this and turned it into some epic crackling. He may even give you the recipe for if you ask nicely enough.

Pop everything else in the slow cooker, give it a stir to mix it all up, put your pork in and, well, you may as well make a start on the tequila, you don’t have to do anything else.

After around eight or nine hours give it a stir and break the meat up. If it is still very wet then whack up the temperature and leave the lid off until it’s less of a stew.

Eat very neatly if you are my best friend Charlotte:


Or like a total mess if you are me:



Proper Pizza

20 Jul

Right. Yes. I am awful. This is exactly the same recipe as I put up in 2013, but it is brilliant, and my boyfriend has been away so I’ve basically been living off defrosted pizza dough because I can’t be arsed to make anything.

I’ve always thought I’d be great at living alone, but in fact I just pace around, sloshing glasses of red wine everywhere and desperately trying to talk to people. I ambushed our upstairs neighbour as she had a fag outside just to interact with an actual human. Poor woman.

Anyway. Pizza. This makes about six to eight portions, I tend to make a batch and then, as I said, freeze a load of it. It defrosts very quickly so it’s a good school night dinner, and who doesn’t love cold pizza for breakfast?

For the dough you need:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 330ml tepid water – stick your finger in it and it shouldn’t feel hot or cold
  •  7g yeast (one sachet or measure it out)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Half a tablespoon of brown sugar or honey

Mix the yeast into the water and then stir in the honey or sugar and oil. Give it a good stir.

Combine the flour and salt and pour in your wet ingredients. Mix well with a metal spoon until you’ve got a dough. It’ll be quite wet, but don’t worry.

Turn it out onto a well floured surface and start to knead. You need (HAHAHAHA) to do this for at least ten minutes. You’ll know when it’s done when you’ve got an elastic dough that’s easy to form into a springy ball.

Wipe a large bowl with olive oil and pop the dough in. Cover it with clingfilm making sure it’s air tight. Leave it somewhere warm for an hour or so until it has doubled in size. Here’s a photo from my first post (like I said, I am the worst). But do the clingfilm better:

So a generous one person pizza is a bit of that dough about the size of your fist. If you’re freezing it portion it off and stick each bit in a sandwich bag and chuck it in to sit until you need it.

Heat the oven as hot as it will go with an oven tray in there. Knead the dough you’re using, or the stuff you’ve defrosted, for a few minutes on yet another well floured surface. Roll it out as thin as possible and pop onto a lightly floured bit of tin foil.

Add your toppings, and carefully place the foil onto the oven tray. Cook for around ten to 12 minutes, until the cheese is nice and gooey.

(If you like your base crispy, stick it in the oven for a few minutes until it has started to brown very slightly. You might need to stick a fork in any bubbles that spring up.)

CHEESE ADVICE: The best cheese to use is the blocks of sort of dry mozzarella which you can get almost anywhere. It’s usually got a big thing saying PIZZA! on them. Normal mozzarella is totally fine to use, but you might find a lot of liquid comes out of it while cooking. The grated stuff is great, but it doesn’t melt and spread out as well

I like a bit of rocket on mine to pretend I’m healthy. Plus a load of chilli oil.

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