Sunday, 18 December 2011


On Friday I received my first ever delivery from the East London Steak Company – what a wonderful bunch! Free delivery for orders over £25 (and that’s not hard), a text ten minutes before they get to you, friendly drivers and the meat….oh, the meat. I ordered 2kg of short ribs, 2 rib eye steaks and 2kg ox cheeks. The meat is cut to order the day you receive it, and you get a little card with the provenance – the breed of beef, the farm and the owner of the farm.  I will no doubt report back on the cheeks and steak in future posts but I am concentrating on the short ribs for this one. 

I must admit I hadn’t had short ribs before but Mr Redding and I took Dad to the Bull’s Head at Strand on the Green, Chiswick for lunch a couple of weeks ago. It’s a Chef and Brewer Pub, so we were expecting competent but not outstanding food but we were pleasantly surprised. Dad’s pork belly was unctuous with great crackling and my short ribs were a revelation and I was determined to recreate it for Sunday lunch. 

Short ribs are a classic slow cooking cut where all the connective tissue melts into gorgeousness.  The recipe is simple, and it looks after itself.  So grab yourself some ribs and get cooking…. 

Serves 4 hungry people 

2kg beef short ribs, separated
1tblsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, finely sliced in half moons
2 large carrots finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Can of chopped tomatoes
250ml beef stock
250ml red wine
Couple of sprigs of thyme
Teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C 

Season the ribs with black pepper. Heat the oil in a large deepish roasting tray on the hob then brown the ribs on all sides. Add the vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, wine, beef stock, thyme and sugar, snuggle everything in together then pop in the oven and leave for three hours, when the meat should be falling off the bone. 

Remove the ribs to a large warmed serving dish and gently mash the vegetables down into the sauce. Add a little boiling water if it’s too thick. Taste and season as necessary. Pour sauce over the ribs, sprinkle over the parsley and serve. I served mine with mashed potato with a little wholegrain mustard stirred in and spring greens, finely shredded and very briefly boiled.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


You must have realised by now that I am rather partial to pig cheeks. I love the way that the muscle and gristle melt into a lovely gelatinous nugget after long slow cooking, and the rich flavour of the pork can cope with all kinds of additional flavours.  There is a huge interest in Spanish cooking at the moment, heightened by the excitement of the lovely Jose Pizarro opening his first ‘proper’ restaurant in Bermondsey Street. I went to Andalucia several years ago and was bowled over by the food – tapas in bars in Seville, wandering from one to another…tiny deep fried octopi, melting jamon, unctuous crocqettas…and then there were the main courses. At one meal I had half a roast milk fed lamb. I should have felt guilty, as the kidney was the size of a teaspoon, but the flesh was incredibly tender and flavoursome. I ate it all. 

So, what to do with a pack of pig cheeks in my freezer?  I also had some cooking chorizo knocking about so it seemed obvious. The result was served with some long stem broccoli and a bit of bread to clean the dish – it was all very flavoursome…

Serves 2

1 tblsp. olive oil
I onion, finely sliced in half moons
Clove garlic crushed
500g pig cheeks, silvery sinew removed, cut into three
150g cooking chorizo, cut into chunks
1 tin butter beans, drained
500ml chicken stock
Splash of wine
Chopped parsley 

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, add the garlic and onions and cook gently until golden. Add the pig cheeks, turn up the heat slightly and brown them off. They don’t have to be too brown, just have a little colour.  Add the chorizo and continue cooking until the chunks are a little crisp round the edges. 

Add the beans, chicken stock and wine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 hours.  You may need to remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to reduce the sauce down a little, and you can also crush a couple of beans into the sauce if you need to thicken it more. 

Spoon into 2 bowls, sprinkle over the parsley, serve with a green vegetable and some bread.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


I don’t usually blog about restaurants – for a start I can’t afford to eat out a lot and so don’t feel particularly qualified to comment as I can’t compare Heston’s latest offering with Roganic.  But occasionally Mr Redding and I find ourselves desperate for something to eat and need it NOW rather than wait to get home and either cook something or order a carry out. So, we found ourselves at Camberwell Green at 9.15 in the evening, hungry and craving Indian food. I had noticed Safa a couple of times on my way to the Crooked Well or Stormbird, and we pushed open the door....
Safa is a bright, modern, smart restaurant, all wood, green and black leather. The staff are elegantly dressed in black with toning green ties and are effortlessly attentive and charming.  The wine list is small but beautifully marked and we ordered a bottle of Chardonnay with a hint of Gewurtztraminer. Poppadoms arrived and that’s when we started thinking Safa might be a bit of a find. A tray of four obviously homemade chutneys came with them – yoghurt flavoured with green chilli and coriander; tamarind; tomato and red chilli and a hot mango chutney. All delicious.
Starters were mixed vegetable pakora and Amritsai fish – chunks of cod and cauliflower, potato, aubergine and onion all deep fried in a spiced batter and served with a mint and lime sauce and a red chilli sauce. All delicious – mmm....
Then came the main course. Methi Gosht was full of fresh fenugreek and very tender lamb with just enough fat to really accentuate the flavour. I think it was neck fillet, one of my favourite cuts. Chicken Xiacutti was truly mouthwatering – chicken cooked in traditional Goan style with pickling spices. Tarka dall was tempered with red chilli, garlic and cumin seeds and the naan bread was light and plentiful.
Along with a bowl of pilao rice the bill came to exactly £40. The reason it is so reasonably priced whilst delivering a very high quality product is primarily because the portions aren’t huge. The starters are more like appetisers and the main courses would not satisfy someone looking for a post pub curry blowout. If you’re really hungry you would probably order 3 main courses between 2. But it hit the spot for us and we both felt it was one of the best Indian meals we had experienced – and between us we’ve had quite a few, from Chutney Mary and Ma Goa to the cheap and not so cheerful.
So if you’re stuck in Camberwell Green looking for a bite of something pop in and see the lovely people at Safa – they will make you feel very welcome and I am sure you will love the food.