Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Brussel Sprouts with Garner's Pickled Cabbage - A Christmas side dish

I love Christmas and the festive season. The colour, the joy, even the anticipation all more than make up for some of the stress and inconvenience of the preparations for the big day. 

Just today I was on the bus to Lewisham to get a last minute.... correction: last second present for Him Indoors. Sadly, the strain of the season has become all a bit too much for two Catfordites. They were screaming and shouting various profanities and telling each other to "shut up". The exasperated driver, after putting up with nearly 5 minutes of this nonsense, told them he'd taken enough and that they should both shut up. The nice lady who had moved seats to let me sit down shook her head gently, softly saying "What part of this was necessary? It's Christmas Eve. It's all supposed to be about having fun." Wise word indeed, which I took with me on my last smash and grab mission of advent. I remained Zen for the whole trip.

One thing I don't like about Christmas, however, has always been Brussels sprouts. It's the horrid school dinner way they get cooked. You know, cross in the bottom, to completely ensure total overcooking.... sprouts emerging from green boiling water, looking as grey as my oldest pair of M&S knickers (which once were white). The kitchen smelling strangely of old damp socks.... it's all too much!

But Brussels sprouts are part of the Great British Christmas, aren't they? They're not negotiable. A Crimbo quid pro quo, if you will. So, for years I compromised. I would have a single sprout "because it's Christmas". In amongst all the other treats and goodies, the single sprout was something I could put up with. 

This year, however, it was time for things to change. Many of the food fans and cooking experts I follow on twitter extol the virtues of the little green mini-cabbage. They told me that I didn't need to have soggy sprouts. There was life beyond the grey squelchy mush. 

I was recently sent some pickled goods by the people at Garner's. They make hand packed jars of pickles in Scotland. Pickled onions, that great Christmas staple, pickled shallots and spiced pickled cabbage. 

I got to think, if I don't mind cabbage, as long as it isn't overcooked, why not treat sprouts the same way?

Here, therefore is my idea for a vegetable side dish for your Christmas dinner. Chances are you have most of the ingredients at home already if you've done your food shop. If not, there aren't many ingredients,  so you can grab them in your own last second dash around. 

Happy Christmas!
My jar of spiced pickled cabbage

I drained and rinsed the cabbage before using as I thought the vinegar might overly sour the whole dish:

Brussels sprouts stir fry with Garner's spiced pickled cabbage, chestnuts and bacon

Serves 3-4 as a side dish for a main meal
Serves 4-6 as a second veg dish as part of a roast


32 brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthways
1/2 red onion, cut into thin chunks
1 sprig rosemary, stems removed and roughly chopped
4 tbsp Garners pickled spiced cabbage, drained and rinsed
75g smoked lardons
1-2 tbsp olive oil
14 cooked chestnuts, halved
I used tinned chestnuts

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry your onions for 3-5 minutes so that they start to soften.

Meanwhile, put a steamer on the hob, with a little water. Get to the boil. Steam the Brussels sprouts for 2 minutes. (Or steam in the microwave)

Add the lardons and rosemary, fry for another 3 minutes.

Take your sprouts off the heat, and away from the boiling water. Remove the lid so that they don't continue cooking.

Now add the cabbage, sprouts and chestnuts. Stir fry, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes. Try the sprouts to make sure they get to the texture you like them at. We liked ours "al dente".

Serve with your Christmas dinner, or as we did, as a side dish to some lovely lamb cutlets.

Thanks to the people at Garner's for sending me a sample. I have not been paid or sponsored to write this post.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

December 2013 Favourites List


December is always dominated by thoughts of Christmas and planning for the big day. I have to say, I love it! The big push for my students and I to the end of term was hectic and a little stressful, but we have all made it. My glittery Santa hat and Christmas earrings all got their annual outing in the final classes of 2013.

Now I’m enjoying indulgent mince pie breakfasts and planning out the food for what will be a day of hopeless food and drink hedonism.

Whatever you are doing, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

This month's pictures are from XFm’s charity Winter Wonderland concert at the Brixton Academy. We saw so many talented people, who all gave their time to raise money for War Child.


Blogs Worth Following:

Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry


A British classic updated, ham hock, mint and peas used to make Pea and Ham soup. http://metro.co.uk/2013/11/26/how-to-make-the-ultimate-pea-and-ham-soup-4201457/

Roasted aubergine with feta dressing, as served at Yotam Ottolenghi's Nopi: http://editer.com/food-drink/ottolenghi/ 

Authentically Vietnamese grilled Salmon salad by Luke Nguyen (NB - need to start 3 days ahead to pickle veggies and overnight marinading required!!): http://www.selectormagazine.com.au/Food/Recipes/Spring/Char-grilled-salmon-salad

Dakos (or a bread and tomato salad you can make with Krisprolls): http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/04/dakos-onepot-chicken-recipes-ottolenghi

Venison sausage and quinoa one pot supper: http://www.getmecooking.com/recipe/sausage-and-quinoa

Minced beef casserole for chilly Winter days by Lavender & Lovage's Karen Burns Booth: http://www.getmecooking.com/recipe/harvest-festival-minced-beef-and-vegetable-casserole

For those of you suffering a cold, Leon's Coldbuster: http://emmamakesitup.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/who-you-gonna-call.html

Miles Kane
Lamb shank and herb stew, an Iranian recipe for cold Winter nights:  http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/2013/04/herbs-stew-khoresh-e-qormeh-sabzi/

Spatzle/Spaetzle is a kind of German pasta. Here is a cheesy bake made with it, from Su-Lin of Tamarind and Thyme.

It isn't really Christmas without the Great British Mince Pie! http://metro.co.uk/2013/12/10/how-to-bake-the-ultimate-mince-pie-4224002/

I really don't like Brussels sprouts. Apparently this is a recipe to change my mind: Brussels sprouts, toasted hazelnuts and American-style candied bacon. (Video recipe)

Articles/Know How:

We're Jamming! Jam making explained from start to finish: http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2013/oct/03/science-magic-jam-making

For anyone who wants something "medicinal" for Christmas, but doesn't like beer or wine.

White Lies

A very interesting selection of the best food books of the year - covers baking, cooking, international flavours, veggie, vegan, food ethics, food & travel, food history. 

Red wines for Christmas/Holiday season: http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/a201312111.html

Justin Hayward-Young of The Vaccines


Only God Forgives



Educating Yorkshire At Christmas


Tori Amos - Midwinter Graces

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Arctic Monkeys - AM

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas starter with a difference - Inamo's Salmon and Avocado Ceviche

Inamo reached their 5th Anniversary this year and were able to celebrate well deserved success. Now operating at two sites, in Wardour Street and Lower Regent Street, they are bringing their fresh approach to oriental fusion food to the people of London. Of course, part of the appeal is their funky and colourful interactive tables, allowing you to preview what your food will look like on a plate, or watch food being prepared via the kitchen cam, you can check train times or simply change the background of your dining area. It's a fun and original approach to the restaurant experience.

I have written about the Sushi and sake masterclass I attended at Inamo earlier this year here: http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/sushi-sake-masterclass-inamo-st-james.html And to coincide with their 5th anniversary, Inamo held their innovative "Inamostagram" photography competition, which I wrote about here: http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/inamostagram-competition-prizegiving.html

Those nice people at Inamo have been kind enough to share one of their recipes with you and I, dear readers. This is a recipe for a Salmon and Avocado Ceviche by Sean Marshall that I think will make an excellent and original starter for Christmas day, instead of the "been there, done that" old staple of smoked salmon.

Sean Marshall is Inamo's executive chef. He joined Inamo in Summer 2012. A noted chef for more than 25 years, he has worked at Mint Leaf, McQueen, Kettners, Absolut Below Zero, Hilton Hotels, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Liberty. He has also been personal chef to famous boxer Nigel Benn. 

Sean Marshall, Executive Chef, Inamo

Sean loves using the freshest ingredients, particularly the zingiest and spiciest he can find. He likes to let them do the talking, and strives to keep his food simple, clean and honest.  Since his arrival, he has introduced dishes such as tuna tartar, sea bass  and green mango sashimi, salmon sashimi roll, black cod tartar, rojak chicken and Chinese style pork and scallop broth. 

I am delighted to bring you Sean's Salmon and Avocado Ceviche. Some of the ingredients are unusual, but should not be too difficult to obtain if you live in a decent size town or city. None of the preparation techniques are difficult.


It is only the dressing which is left overnight. This is to allow the flavours to intensify. The salmon is dressed with the sauce just before serving. If you were to marinate the fish overnight, the dressing would overcook it, spoiling your ceviche.

The red shiso leaf (also known as perilla) can be found at some of the larger oriental supermarkets. Wing Yip certainly sells shiso. You may also be able to find it in Vietnamese shops as it is used in Vietnamese cooking.

Yuzu is an east Asian citrus fruit which looks like a small grapefruit. It is very sour with slight flavour of mandarin oranges. You can buy the juice ready squeezed. The Japan Centre sells bottles in 100ml size.  

The recipe is designed for 4 people, but the ceviche sauce is enough for 10 portions. It would be impractical to try to reduce the quantities for 4. I don't think this is a problem, since frequently at Christmas you find that you have unexpected guests. So all you have to do is ensure you have some spare salmon and avocado and you can serve everyone. Obviously, the ceviche ingredients could easily be doubled to serve 8.


(Serves 4)


For the ceviche sauce (to be prepared 1 day in advance):

This will prepare 100ml of ceviche sauce (enough for 10 portions of ceviche). The sauce will keep in the fridge for 3 – 5 days. 

It would not freeze well due to the herbs within it, they will spoil.                                         


½ Bunch fresh soft Thyme

½ Bunch fresh Coriander

½ Bunch fresh Parsley

25g x Fresh Garlic

25ml x Yuzu juice (alternatively use a good quality lime or lemon juice)

20ml x Rice Vinegar

2.5g x Red Chilli

2.5g x Green Chilli

For 4 portions of ceviche:

200g x Avocado                                                                       

280g x Fresh Salmon                                                                       

4 x Red Shiso Leaf                                                                                     

4g x Shiso Cress                                                                                  

2 x Fresh limes                                                                                       

40ml x Ceviche sauce (see above)                                                                                     

8g x Julienne Red Chilli

8g x Finely Diced Shallots

8g x Chopped Coriander                                                                      


The ceviche sauce has to be made first, a day in advance. 

1.            Pick and wash the herbs, then allow to dry on a clean cloth.

2.            De-seed and roughly chop the chilli.

3.            Add all the ingredients together with the vinegar and yuzu juice, put into a blender and blitz to a very fine puree.

4.            Chill in the fridge overnight.

To make the ceviche on the day:

1.            Dice the salmon into 1.5 cm pieces.

2.            Dice the avocado into 1.5 cm pieces and coat with the juice from 1 lime.

3.            In a large salad bowl, mix the avocado, coriander, shallot and chilli with the salmon and ceviche sauce.

4.            Check for seasoning and arrange salad in a bowl.


Assembly/Presentation of the ceviche

Present in a bowl. 

Here is how the ceviche is presented at Inamo: 

Garnish with shiso leaf, shiso cress, and a ¼ wedge of lime.