Time is doing two things at the moment, I find. On the one hand, we have much more of it: the time saved by not commuting, say, and by not going ou
Time is doing two things at the moment, I find. On the one hand, we have much more of it: the time saved by not commuting, say, and by not going out; in fact, not doing anything at all, really. On the other hand, I often get to the end of a day at home and wonder where it’s gone. Beyond going through the motions of family life – cook, eat, teach, star jumps. Cook, eat, teach, star jumps. On repeat – I’m almost impressed by how little else I achieve. The way to deal with this contradiction, in the kitchen at least, is to embrace slow-cooking: things that take a long time to cook, but don’t require much of yours to do so.
Lime-leaf-cured ‘gravadlax’ (pictured above)
This twist on the classic replaces the traditional dill with fragrant lime leaf, coriander and lime zest. Enjoy it as you would regular gravadlax, on toast or blinis, or with eggs. Any thinner parts of the salmon will probably be too salty to eat, so cut them off and cook them with hot water and vegetable scraps to make a quick fish stock, or blitz them up with some cream cheese and herbs to make a fish pate. Once cured, the gravadlax will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Prep 10 min
Cure 4 days
1 side salmon (about 900g), skin on
For the cure
60g flaked sea salt
70g caster sugar
About 4 tbsp (15g) fresh coriander, stalks and all
4 spring onions – you need just the green ends here (about 40g), so save the whites for another recipe
20 (10g) fresh makrut lime leaves
1 green chilli, roughly chopped
4 tsp lime zest
2 tsp green (or black) peppercorns, roughly crushed in a mortar
To serve (optional)
Rye bread, toasted
Put all the ingredients for the cure in a food processor and pulse to a coarse green paste.
Pat dry the salmon fillet and lay it skin side down on a rack set over a tray that will fit in your fridge. Cover the exposed flesh side of the fish with the paste, packing it on well, then cover with greaseproof paper. Wrap the whole side of salmon – I use reusable food wrap – then return to the rack on the tray and put in the fridge. Lay a second tray on top of the salmon and place some weights in the tray, then leave untouched to cure for four days.
After four days, scrape off and discard most of the cure, thinly slice the fish and serve on toasted rye bread with creme fraiche and a squeeze of lime alongside, if you wish. Store any leftover fish in a sealed container in the fridge, where it will keep for up to a week.
Pulled lamb with orange and spices
Serve this with soft corn tortillas or rice, or use it as the base for a spiced shepherd’s pie.
Prep 20 min
Cook 3 hr 10 min
2 red peppers, quartered and deseeded (360g net weight)
2 red chillies, stalks removed (pith and seeds removed, too, if you prefer less heat)
1 garlic bulb, cut in half widthways
800g piece boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 5 equal pieces
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp ground cumin
1¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tbsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
4 bay leaves
500ml chicken stock
1½ tbsp lime juice
1½ tbsp (5g) roughly chopped fresh coriander
1½ tbsp maple syrup
8 soft corn tortillas, to serve, warmed through (optional)
2 spring onions, trimmed and cut into fine julienne strips
Heat the oven grill to its highest setting. Lay the peppers, chillies and garlic halves cut side up on a tray and grill near the top of the oven, turning occasionally, for about 12 minutes, until nicely charred in places.
Meanwhile, put a large, heavy-based pan for which you have a lid on a high heat. Mix the lamb and oil in a bowl with a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Lay the meat in the hot pan, spacing it all apart, and sear, turning once halfway, for eight to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add the tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, coriander seeds and bay leaves, and stir to coat the lamb.
Add the orange half (skin and all), and the charred peppers and chillies to the lamb pan, then squeeze in the flesh from the garlic cloves and discard their papery skins. Pour over the stock, season with a half-teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper, push the meat below the surface of the liquid and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for two and a half hours, or until the lamb is very soft and can be easily pulled apart.
Remove the lid, take out the orange, scoop the flesh back into the pan and discard the skin. Turn up the heat to medium-high and leave to bubble, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until the liquid has reduced significantly. Stir in the lime juice, coriander and maple syrup, then set aside to rest.
Use two forks to pull apart the meat into strips – I prefer larger, chunkier ones to shreds here – then stir back into the sauce. Serve on toasted soft corn tortillas and topped with shredded spring onions, if you like.
Saffron and cardamom celebration brioche cake
Good things come to those who wait – or at least they do here. This takes a lot of time, but much of that is entirely hands off, while the dough is mixing or rising. I love the combination of saffron and cardamom in this cake – they give it a really distinct flavour – but the recipe also works without them, if you want to omit either or both.
Prep 15 min
Prove 18 hr+
Cook 1 hr
For the brioche dough
1 tsp active dry yeast
¼ tsp saffron
2 tbsp warm milk
250g strong bread flour
50g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten (180g weighed)
125g fridge-cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
For the glaze
90g cream cheese
90g icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp milk
16 green cardamom pods, cracked to release the seeds, pods discarded and the seeds finely crushed mortar – this will give you 1 tsp in total, half of which goes into the glaze and the rest into the filling (see below)
30g shelled pistachios (or green Iranian pistachios, if you can find them), very finely chopped
For the filling
270g cream cheese
180g icing sugar, sieved
½ tsp freshly ground cardamom powder (see glaze above)
150g fresh raspberries
In a small bowl, mix the yeast and saffron with the warm milk and set aside for 10 minutes, until the yeast dissolves.
Mix the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the yeast mixture and the eggs, then mix on a medium-high speed until they’re all incorporated. Slowly add the butter piece by piece, and continue mixing for 15 minutes, until all the butter has been mixed into the dough. The long mixing time gives the dough a good texture, so don’t be tempted to increase the speed or reduce the time – for the best results, this needs to be a slow and steady process.
Cover the bowl – I use reusable wrap – put it in a warm spot and leave the dough to rise for three hours. When it has doubled in size, leave it covered and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 12 hours; it will carry on proving in the fridge.
Line and grease a 22cm springform cake tin. Take the dough out of the fridge and, with it still in the bowl, press down with your hands to force out all the air. Scoop out the dough with your hands and gently place in the prepared tin. Spread the dough evenly in the tin, pushing it out to the sides. Cover the tin tightly and leave to rise for two or three hours, until the dough has again doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown – when done, the dough should spring back when pressed. Unmould the brioche as soon as the tin is cool enough to handle, then put on a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the glaze and the filling. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with the icing sugar, milk and a half-teaspoon of cardamom powder, until smooth, then set aside. In a second bowl, mix the cream cheese with the icing sugar and the remaining half-teaspoon of cardamom powder, and set aside.
When the brioche is completely cool, cut it in half horizontally with a bread knife so you end up with two equal halves. Spread three-quarters of the filling on to the lower half of the brioche and top neatly with the raspberries. Spread the remaining filling on the cut side of the top half of the brioche, then place it filling side down on top of the raspberries. Spread the glaze all over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides, then sprinkle the pistachios evenly over the top.
Transfer the cake to a cake stand, if you have one, or a large platter, and serve.