Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

Ham Hock Terrine

Thursday, November 29th, 2012


Everyone loves a good terrine, right? That’s what I thought. That’s why I put this scrumptious little number as part of the starter for my supper club back in October. I put the terrine in an espresso cup, served it with some squash, orange and ginger soup and mini Yorkshire puddings and that was it- Bob’s your Uncle and a thank-you very much. The terrine is a bit of a faff, so save it for something special, but it definitely stays within the £20 a week budget, as ham hock is the knuckle of the pig, so it’s one of the cheapest bits you can buy. 2kg shouldn’t cost more than a fiver from a good butcher.

A terrine is really just a coarse pâté so you don’t have to be too neat or exact with the measurements, but I would say go easy on the star anise. I’m a big fan and so was a bit heavy handed and it did taste a little too perfumed for my liking, but each to their own. Also, don’t be freaked out by using gelatine, it’s way easier than you think and there’s quite a lot of natural gelatine from the hock anyway.

I adapted this recipe from the BBC website, it makes a loaf tin sized amount.



2 largish Ham hocks weighing between 1.5-2kg together, smoked if you desire

3 small onions

2 large carrots

2 sticks of celery inc. leaves (be careful, over celerying is easy because you’re reluctant to put it in anything else, don’t be tempted to use more, I just fill the other sticks with peanut butter and feed to house-mates)

500ml dry cider, such as Henney’s

1 tspn Bouillon powder

2 large bay leaves (or 3 smaller ones)

2 star anise

10 black peppercorns

3 cloves

¼ tspn sea salt

Good handful fresh thyme

1 ½ tbspn wholegrain mustard

Lots of flat leaf parsley roughly chopped

Capers, to serve (optional)


  • Put your hocks in one of the largest pans you can find and add all the other ingredients with the exception of the mustard and the parsley. Feel free to vary the quantities based on your personal preference, but these are reliable guidelines.
  • Poke everything a bit so it’s nice and snug and top up with boiling water so everything is covered.
  • Put a lid on the pan, turn up the heat so it’s boiling and bubbling and you’re salivating from the smell.
  • Then turn down the heat, keeping the lid on, and leave for 2 ½ hours. This is really important.
  • Keep an eye on it and maybe poke a bit more every so often, to make sure everything is in order.
  • When the time is up, fish out the hocks and put to one side to cool down. Then strain the rest of this amazing stock, putting the liquid back in the pan and you can do what you like with the veg (I roasted them a bit and served them as an accompaniment to a Sunday Roast, after getting rid of the whole spices)
  • Now get down and dirty. Not like that! Please. I meant strip the hocks and separate the sinew and fat from the salty, flaky meaty bits.
  •  Put what’s edible in a big bowl, add the mustard and parsley and stir to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
  • Reduce the stock and soak 4 leaves of gelatine in cold water.
  • Whilst this is happening, line a loaf tine with cling film, leaving excess round the edges so that you can fold it over the top easily.
  • Put the hammustardparsley mix in the tin and compact lightly.
  • Measure out around 400ml of stock in a jug, squeeze excess water from the gelatine leaves and dissolve them in the stock by stirring until all remnants are gone.
  • Pour into the loaf tin, but you probably won’t need all of it, just pour in enough so it is level with the meat but not covering completely.
  • Fold the cling film over and refrigerate for about eight hours or overnight.
  • This is great on stale toast with even more mustard and crisp glass of white.


It’s Grrreat

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Oft have I been outraged by the extortionate price of good cereal and oh my does woe betide me when I resort to masticating the cardboard that most supermarkets pass off as fast-breaking material. I struggle to get out of bed in the morning when I know the only sustenance available is a fibrous mulch so similar to grout I might as well be eating…grout.

There is, however, one benefit of this pre-noon endurance challenge that comes in the form of a little something we often take for granted: perspective. If sub-standard bran flakes are one of my biggest concerns, then I’m a pretty fortunate lady .

What I mean to say is I’ve toyed with Leon’s recipe for granola and I now wake up looking forward to a bountiful crunch in the morning, which sets me up nicely and is a long way from the over-priced tree bark I’ve become accustomed to. For now, I can concentrate on my other dilemmas, which could prove to be somewhat more difficult than roasting some oats.


Really Great Granola (makes lots and lots)

150g runny honey

75ml sunflower oil

250g oats

100g bran

100g wheatgerm

150g sunflower seeds

150g pumpkin seeds

75g sesame seeds

100g sultanas

100g other dried fruit e.g. apricots, pineapple, cranberries


Typing this out made me realise that there really isn’t a strict recipe for this. I’m not a very nutty person but I know a lot of people would appreciate the addition of some hazelnuts or pecans. Dates are also great but as they are very high GI, I’ve left them out. Also, we have bran and wheatgerm lying around as it goes in our bread, but if you’re struggling to find some then Planet Organic or The Grocery do good affordable ones. Sorry that’s for Londoners only.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • On a low heat, in a small saucepan, melt the oil and honey together so it’s super runny.
  • Lay the oats, bran and seeds out on the biggest baking tray you have, potentially across two.
  • Then pour the oily honey over your oat/bran/seed combo and mix well. It will still be quite dry but that’s fine.
  • Bake for 20 mins, mixing halfway through.
  • Leave in the tray to cool.
  • Chop additional fruit and nuts if need be.
  • Mix everything together and store in an airtight jar.
  • Greet the day with some of your granola, yoghurt and fruit for something to keep you going for aaaaggeessss. Or at least until lunch.

The Secret Ingredient

Saturday, January 21st, 2012


I feel a bit naughty writing about the same recipe in two places but this one is just too good not to! I’ve started a new column in The London Student about ingredients that are a little bit out of the ordinary, or at least not in keeping with the meat-and-two-veg ethic. Here is what I had to say about wasabi:

I’m sure you’ve smeared it on your sashimi or nigiri, but have you ever wondered how this peculiar green paste got to sit alongside your pickled ginger and fish-shaped sachet of soy sauce?

Although wasabi is most commonly compared to horseradish, it is in fact not related. It is a small plant that grows in rural Japan, hence its literal translation ‘mountain hollyhock’. It takes several years to mature naturally although it can be cultivated in a man-made environment, where special attention has to be paid as it can only grow in temperatures of between 11-14°C. So it’s just as well you only need a smidgen to make a difference to your dish. The paste we most commonly come across is made from the root of the plant, but the leaves, stalks and flowers can also be used to make a pickle to accompany Japanese curries if you’re lucky enough to discover the entire plant in an Asian supermarket.

As it is normally included in savoury dishes, I thought I would mix things up a little bit and combine it with chocolate for a cupcake with a kick and a punch. I know you’re thinking, ‘Holy Katsu!’, but bear with me. The bitterness of the chocolate and the warmth of the wasabi work in harmony rather than competing to make a beautiful little number. Here is how to do it:

Chocolate and Wasabi Cupcakes (makes 16)



For the cakes:

100g good dark chocolate (at least 70%)

100g butter

175g golden caster sugar

1 tspn vanilla extract

3 large eggs

100g self-raising flour

½ tspn baking powder

¼ tspn salt

1 generous tbspn wasabi paste (Don’t be scared! It loses some of its potency in cooking)


For the icing:

50g softened butter

100g full-fat cream cheese

250g icing sugar

1 tspn vanilla extract

½ tspn ground ginger


To decorate:

Crushed wasabi peanuts

Stem ginger

  • On a very low heat in a large saucepan melt the chocolate and butter together and when they are smooth, add the sugar. Mix well, but don’t worry, the sugar is not supposed to dissolve so the mixture will be a bit grainy.
  • Leave to cool for 10-15 mins.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Then, sift in the dry ingredients and finally thoroughly work in the wasabi.
  • Scoop a good dessertspoon into each paper case and bake for 15-20 mins, depending on your oven. To test, insert a thin knife or skewer and if it comes out clean then they are done, but if it has some goo on it then they need a little more time.
  • While they are in the oven, make the icing. Blend the butter and cream cheese together with a wooden spoon.
  • Gradually sift in the icing sugar and when all is well blended, add the ginger and vanilla.
  • When the cakes have cooled, slice the tops to give a flat surface for the icing. Smear a good teaspoon of the icing on top and decorate with the crushed wasabi peanuts and finely chopped ginger as you see fit.
  •  Tuck in!


Marmite Affair

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Something I thought I’d miss is Marmite. However, contrary to Marmite’s key marketing slogan, I’m indifferent to it. It’s too salty for first thing in the morning (I’m one for the marmalade tang) and past breakfast, I’ve forgotten about it.

However, this is not the way Marmite wants you to feel about it. It saaays it wants you to ‘love it’ OR ‘hate it’ but really Marmite longs for you to have a Latino love/hate relationship, dynamic and passionate, like something with Antonio Banderas. But I’m sorry (I think I’m apologising to an inanimate jar of yeast extract- things are not good) I just don’t feel that way.

Marmite wants you to have a terrible and disgusting affair. To love and make love to it, ok, maybe not the latter, but it definitely wants you to hate it and throw it on the walls in a rage. Again, I’m sorry (twice in one post, geez…) but I’d quite like the deposit back on my flat and I think I’d have problems explaining to my German landlord that the stains were a result of an argument I was having with a common British spread.

I stand my ground, I wouldn’t say I miss it much but I can’t deny I am looking forward to a hot piece of toast, dripping in butter and marmite, spread messily so you get a yeasty burst as you bite…ok, you win, it’s late, I’m tired…maybe I’m missing it more than I thought.

Devilled Eggs

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

You may call me unimaginative. I know, so far I have covered a Devil’s Food Cake and an eggy dish so  therefore amalgamating the two…it would seem fair to suggest a certain lack of adventurousness. However, when I woke up this morning I was still buzzing from a great dinner I shared with my parents yesterday evening. On the last night of their visit to Berlin, we celebrated by dining in the oh so trendy, Volt Restaurant, another treat along Paul-Lincke-Ufer. Here is their website, pretty snazzy.

We had the surprise menu and sure enough we were pleasantly surprised. Highlights included coffee and pig cheek amuse bouche as well as angler fish which, when alive, is so ugly it’s even uglier that this thing my friend and I drew when we tried to draw the ugliest thing imaginable, have a look. The Greek basil garnish on my elderflower torte rounded everything of wonderfully. Lovely.

So this morning, feeling foodie, I thrust open the fridge door only to find that after a weekend of wonderful culinary experiences the only edible possibilities were three rather old eggs. Hmmm, no oysters? No avocado or fresh juniper berries? Shame.

So here are some instructions so you can make something delicious should you ever find yourself in the same anticlimactic position I did:


3 eggs

Squirt of mayonnaise

1 tspn olive oil

2 tspn capers

Handful fresh basil leaves

½ tspn wholegrain mustard

Mini clove garlic

Salt and pepper

Paprika (for dusting)

  1. Hard boil your eggs (I knows you knows but here I goes:  cover room-temperature eggs with about an inch of cold water. Salt. Bring to the boil. Cover and take off the heat. Leave for six mins for soft boiled, eight for firm and eleven for hard)
  2. Whilst that’s happening, fry up the capers in the olive oil. About three minutes, or until they pop. Put to one side so they’re nice and crispy; don’t let them sit in the oil. Otherwise they’ll get a bit like bogies.
  3. Very finely chop up the garlic, basil and cooked capers. BUT leave a few for a nice garnish.
  4. When your eggs are done, peel them, cut them in half horizontally and then cut a tincy bit off the top and bottom so they sit up nicely.
  5. Put the yolks in a bowl and mash up with your basil, garlic and caper mix along with a good squirt of good mayonnaise, the mustard and generous seasoning.
  6. Roll the filling into little balls and pop into the whites.
  7. Garnish with the remaining capers, a small basil leaf and a sprinkling of paprika or cayenne pepper.
  8. See who is the best at fitting it in their mouth all in one go.
  9. Draw up a scoreboard.
  10. Challenge each other at rematches using similarly textured foods.

I know they look like seventies’ canapés, but at least they’re not covered in aspic and they taste better than Abba. Trust.