Nothing But Onions

Nothing But Onions

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Blue Ginger

Blue Ginger

I have no recollection whatsoever of buying Blue Ginger, but I clearly did. Flicking through it, it’s easy to see why I picked it up – it’s packed full of delicious-sounding Asian-style recipes. Published in 2004, it’s sat forgotten on a bookshelf for many years…

Chicken with Miso, Ginger and Lime

Chicken with Miso, Ginger and Lime

Yotam Ottolenghi is well represented in my cookery library; I have a good few of his books. In fact I think I have all but one of them. For some reason I never got around to buying Plenty. I should probably do something about that.…

Wild Garlic and Cashew Pesto

Wild Garlic and Cashew Pesto

It’s wild garlic season – one of the most delicious free foods you could imagine. We’re lucky to have two decent sized patches of it in the garden, and so I love this time of year. I regularly pick the leaves and add them to various things – they’re delicious stirred into macaroni cheese, as a pizza topping, or just chopped up and sprinkled over pretty much anything.

This weekend, I harvested a bunch of leaves to make some pesto with. This recipe is just like a regular pesto but using wild garlic and cashews instead of the more traditional basil and pine nuts. It’s very versatile – you can stir it into pasta, add it to a stir fry, use it as a pizza topping, or just as a condiment with sausages or roast chicken. All in all, it’s delicious.

  • 100g wild garlic leaves, washed
  • 50g cashews
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Toast the cashews in a frying pan for a minute or two, then set them to one side to cool.

Blitz the garlic leaves in a food processor until they start to break down. Add the parmesan and keep blitzing until the leaves are fully chopped. Add the cashew nuts, and blitz once more until those too are chopped into small pieces.

Pour in some olive oil and mix until you get the consistency you desire – you can leave it as a stiff paste to spoon out onto a plate, or add more oil to make a more spreadable pesto. Remember, you can always add more oil later, but you can’t take it back out.

Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper to taste.

Wild garlic and cashew pesto
Lamb, spinach, chickpeas

Lamb, spinach, chickpeas

Hugh’s Three Good Things takes a very simple premise – make a dish using just three ingredients – and produces a large array of very tasty looking recipes. Of course, the three ingredients thing is a bit of a cheat – pretty much all the…

Chocolate Drops and Coconut Biscuits

Chocolate Drops and Coconut Biscuits

Sue wanted biscuits. In fact she demanded biscuits. She even went out as far as digging out the cookery book and leaving it open in the kitchen with a post-it note stuck on the page saying Make these with a large arrow pointing to the…

Piri Piri Chicken with Patatas Bravas

Piri Piri Chicken with Patatas Bravas

I was looking for a recipe to make use of some chicken I had. I found quite a few things that I liked the sound of, but there always seemed to be a key ingredient that I didn’t have to hand. Then I picked up Morito and found the perfect recipe. There were a couple things I didn’t have for the Piri Piri Chicken, but I had pretty good substitutes available, and the book also had a recipe for Patatas Bravas, which I though would make a good accompaniment.

Morito Book Cover

Morito is a restaurant owned by Sam and Sam Clarke, an offshoot of Moro. The Mediterranean menu features a selection of tapas and mezze-style dishes.

I bought this book in 2014 when it came out, and it’s definitely been much neglected. It’s packed full of delicious sounding recipes. Just leafing through it now, my mind is busy building a list of all the things I want to make. I have no idea why this book has been sitting unloved on my bookshelf for the past six years – it needs to be in my kitchen.

First, the ingredients for the piri piri chicken.

Peri Peri Chicken Ingredients

The recipe wants drumsticks, but I’ve got two legs, each divided into drumstick and thigh. It asks for two Romano peppers, which I don’t have. I do, however, have a jar of roasted peppers in oil, which I think will make a perfectly good substitute. I also don’t have the large red chillies listed, I have small bird’s eye instead. All in all, I think that’s a decent approximation.

So, on to the marinade.

  • 200ml white wine
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly ground coriander
  • 8 fresh bay leaves, finely chopped

I put these in a saucepan and simmer away until the liquid has reduced by about half, and then put to one side to let the flavours infuse.

Next I’m supposed to chargrill, peel and deseed the peppers and chillis. I skip the chargrilling and peeling bit – the jarred peppers clearly don’t need this. I put the peppers and chillis into a bowl together with the rest of the ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

and blitz until smooth with an immersion blender.

Peri Peri Sauce

I score the skin of the chicken pieces and coat with some of the marinade, keeping some back to use as a sauce. The chicken then goes into the fridge for about four hours.

Meanwhile, I start on the bravas sauce.

Patatas Bravas Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme, leaves chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 dried bird’s eye chillies, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp red wine
  • 400g tin plum tomatoes, blitzed in food processor
  • pinch of sugar
  • pinch smoked hot Spanish paprika
  • pinch smoked sweet Spanish paprika

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and chillies, cook gently until you can smell the fragrant herbs – this only takes a few seconds. Then add the wine, tomatoes, a little salt, sugar and the paprikas. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

The recipe calls for 2cm cubes of potato, mixed with some salt, and then left in a colander for 20 minutes. There’s no explanation as to why, but I guess it allows the salt to penetrate the potato a little and improve the flavour. The potatoes are then deep fried – essentially, they are cubic chunky chips. The recipe calls for a single fry at 200˚C. Now, I know my chips. I don’t think that’s the best way, so I’m going to do these my way. A double-fry, first one starting at 180˚C until the potatoes are cooked though and soft on the inside, followed by a second fry at about 190˚C to crisp and brown the outside. Aside from producing (in my opinion) superior chips, this method just makes getting everything together at the end so much easier. You can do the first cook, and then put the potatoes to one side whilst you get everything else together, and do the final fry right at the end before serving – they only need a minute or so.

I do the initial potato fry and put the chick on a rack in the oven to cook. While that cooks, I finish off the piri piri sauce by taking the leftover marinade and adding some reduced chicken stock. I actually managed to plan in advance a little here, and I’d taken some chicken stock that I had in the fridge, and reduced it the night before. Overnight, it had cooled and turned itself into a very firm jelly.

Reduced Chicken Stock

Once the chicken is cooked, I fry the potatoes for the second time and warm both the sauces through. I plate the chicken and potatoes, together with a small pot of piri piri sauce, and spoon some of the bravas sauce over the potatoes. The recipe calls for home-made alioli to be added, instead, I reach for the jar of Stoke’s garlic mayonnaise in the fridge and use that. For a final flourish, I sprinkle with a little chopped wild garlic from the garden.

Peri Peri chicken with Patatas Bravas

This is really good. Delicious flavours. The piri piri is hot, spicy and very tasty. The patatas bravas sauce is rich with tomatoes, and the garlic mayonnaise contrasts beautifully with the heat from the chillies. The potatoes work really well. I’ve made many variations of patatas bravas over the years, but I’ve never fried the potatoes before. I’m suddenly a convert.

All in all, a massive success. This book is most definitely not going straight back on to the shelf, it’s staying out for a little while to hang out in the kitchen for some quality time with me.



It’s a Bank Holiday weekend. We’re in lockdown. Some baking is in order. I scan the shelf for a suitable cook book. We need comfort food, and who better to provide that than Nigella. I pull out my copy of How to be a Domestic…

Beef Madras

Beef Madras

To kick off my journey through my cook book collection, I decided to start with an old favourite. The Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cook Book by Pat Chapman. This one was an early addition to my collection. First published in 1984, my copy dates from…