We came up with this jerk seasoning recipe the year we lived in Brixton. Before that we had never really tried jerk seasoning unless it came out of a Dunn’s River jar (which we aren’t shirking: it is delicious and can definitely be a good substitute for the burger recipe below).
Away from the chic new restaurants of Brixton Village, you can walk into some of the most interesting and unassuming shops cooking the best jerk chicken imaginable.
As part of a christmas present and the reflect the area that we lived in we did some research into what made the best jerk seasoning recipe, taking inspiration from other blogs and websites.
The seasoning we have ended up with goes perfectly coating a succulent chicken breast or salmon fillet, as well as burgers (recipe below). As in a pervious post about spices we suggest going to Aziz Cash and Carry on Electric Avenue for all the ingredients you might need.
Warning – Don’t sniff this seasoning when it is done: dried scotch bonnet powder up your nose is not something you will forgot easily!
(make one large jar)
2 Tbsp dried thyme
2 cinnamon sticks milled or 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
2 Tbsp died coriander leaves
1 Tsp crushed coriander seeds
2 Tbsp crushed black peppercorn
1 Tsp ground nutmeg
3 Tsp allspice
1 Tbsp dried garlic flakes (available in Aziz)
4 Dried scotch bonnets
half a thumb of dried ginger
dried zest of two limes (zest and leave on a plate for a couple of days to dry)
First, to dry the scotch bonnets and ginger, preheat the oven to 175C. Slice the ginger thinly as possible and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chop scotch bonnets into 1cm square chunks and deseed, place cut side down on the greaseproof paper and cook both for 6-8 hours till dried.
Mix all ingredients together a large bowl or a blender. Mix or whiz them together making sure that the mix is evenly combined and of the same consistency.
Pour into a clean dry jar and you can keep this for up to 6 months.
Jerk Burgers with caramelised red onions and simple green salad.
Add the mince, chopped onion, jerk seasoning and egg to a bowl and combine. Leave to the side whilst you prep the onions.
Half and slice the onions and add to a saucepan on a low heat with 1tbsp olive oil; cook slowly for 15-20 minutes.
Returning to the burger, shape the mixture into 4-6 patties (depending on how chunky you want them). Lightly oil a frying pan with sunflower oil and place on a medium heat. Cook the burgers for 5 minutes on each side till brown and caramelised.
Whilst the burgers are cooking add the sugar and vinegar to the onions and continue to cook for another 5 – 1o mins.
To build the burgers simply add the patties to the buns with slice of fresh tomatoes and a spoon full of caramelised onions and any other condiments you like.
Spring-time is well and truly here and as food magazines start to push their fanciest of salads for you to spend hours chopping and garnishing, we have a few low-maintenance ways of injecting big flavours into your food. As well as a recipe or two for you to bring to work or serve as an accompaniment to a main meal, we have our one piece of killer advice if you want to keep up with food trends of 2016…
Unrefined Sunflower Oil
Sounds new-age? ‘Unrefined’ already making you pat your wallet in fear? While this could be a scary prospect even for the most regular customers at Whole Foods, unrefined sunflower oil is a deliciously nutty ingredient for dressing your salad. Not to be confused with its refined brother that frequents the fast-food chains of the world, it is painfully healthy containing a mixture of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats high in omega-6. We first tried this when tasting Olia Hercules‘ Chilli and Garlic Cucumber salad in her debut cook book, Mamushka (worth buying for a number of reasons but this recipe is certainly one of them). Since then this oil has become a staple for us in a very simple dressing salad combination which anyone can try.
Simple salad and dressing:
3 parts unrefined sunflower oil
1 part balsamic vinegar
1 part soy sauce
A mixture of salad leaves (rocket, watercress and pea-shoots work well)
Pour the ingredients for the dressing into a jam jar or other sealable container. Shake the dressing mixture vigorously for a few moments until it is fully combined. Taste and season with black pepper if desired.
Wash the mixed salad leaves and toss till dry. Place the leaves into a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss thoroughly again to ensure that the dressing is mixed together with the leaves throughout. Serve immediately.
Hearty couscous salad:
Lumpy. Stodgy. Unsettlingly glutinous. Couscous can be done in all the wrong ways. If you’ve had a bad brush with it in the past though, it is time to forget it and embrace this recipe. Aromatic, herby and with a few pomegranate kernels sprinkled on top for pallet punching sharpness, our couscous will definitely get your lunchtime mojo going or compliment some lovely köfte (turkish meatballs) and Babaganoush (recipe below) for a Middle-East feast. It also contains celery leaves, a recognised ‘sirt’ food for those of you interested in losing a little weight. If this is the case you may want to replace the sunflower oil with olive oil, another recognised ‘sirt’ ingredient.
3 tbsp unrefined sunflower oil
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
190 g couscous
2 tsps cinnamon
a generous pinch of salt
1/2 medium sized red cabbage, chopped into strips 3cm x 0.5cm
6 sprigs of mint, roughly chopped
2 handfuls of celery leaves, roughly chopped
a handful of pomegranate kernels to serve (optional)
Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and sprinkle over the cinnamon and salt, making sure they are both evenly distributed throughout. Pour over boiling water, enough just to cover the couscous. Put this to one side and leave it to absorb. This should take about 20 – 25 minutes.
Chop and prepare all the ingredients for the salad and place in a large bowl in which you want to serve the couscous salad.
Once the couscous has absorbed the water, run your hands through it making sure that it is not too hot or that you will burn yourself. Using both hands, pick up small amounts of the couscous and rub between your fingers in a backwards and forwards motion letting them be ‘fluffed up’ and separated. Once they are thoroughly fluffed and cool enough, add them to the rest of the salad and mix together.
Combine the oil and molasses to make the dressing. Pour over the top of the combined couscous salad and stir to mix through. Scattering a handful of pomegranate kernels over the top serve straight away.
Smoky and sharp but mellow and light, some might not think of this as a salad and more of a dip, but it still makes a good accompaniment to a main meal or as an extra vegetable boost to bring into the office. Be warned – for this recipe you will require a gas cooker, or alternatively, you can use the flames of a barbecue if you feel in a more summery mood.
2 medium sized aubergine
Salt and pepper to season
a handful of chopped coriander
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Turn on one of the gas hobs and lie the aubergines in the flame, charring the skin. You will need to leave them to char gently but keep a watchful eye to make sure they do not become too burnt. Turn them periodically to make sure they are charred all over. 5 minutes of this should be sufficient but you can extend the charring time if you want an especially smokey dip.
Place the aubergines in a baking dish and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Check after 10 minutes as you may need to extend baking time depending on how big a baking dish you have used. When it is soft enough to pull apart with a pair of spoons, scoop out the insides leaving behind the charred skin and put into a food processor. Add the juice of half a lemon and a glug of olive oil, as well as salt and pepper to season the dip. Blend the aubergine thoroughly and taste to check seasoning. Add some chopped coriander and serve still warm or save for later in a sealable container, allowing it to cool before placing in the fridge.
On the easyjet London Gatwick – Amsterdam flight, with an assortment of stag-dos in costumes ranging between Dutch milk maids in drag and two opposing teams of table football players, one might get the impression this was a poorly timed trip. While the double bank-holiday may bring many of our countrymen – and women – to the Netherlands in search of booze and the ‘high’ life, we feel it’s a shame that this city retains its misleading reputation. In fairness, all the stereotypes were there: the gang of giggly blondes waving obscenely turgid dildos; young men smelling so strongly of weed you feel you might get stoned from the smell of them; the awkward German family who were genuinely looking for just a coffee. And all this before we reached our rented houseboat!
We have both been travelling to Amsterdam for years and it is arguably our favourite city in Europe. While there will be a number of winks and nudges as to why that may be, it is genuinely one of the most civilised cultures we have experienced and most beautiful in terms of buildings, art, and, above all, food. Our Easter Saturday visit to Noordmarkt on Prinsengracht and Westerstraat is enough to prove this to anyone. In the 3 minutes it took for us to walk around before rushing off to buy more serious provisions for the holiday, we must have walked past (and tasted samples from) half-a-dozen cheese stalls, a number of fine bakery stalls and an oyster seller whose key customer was one busily slurping 3-year-old boy.
The cheese samples, in particular a lemony-sweet goat’s cheese covered in cornflowers was a highlight, as well as the oysters which, served with a tiny quarter-slice of lemon, were a perfect perk to the morning. On the day we visited the market, lunch consisted of the same goat’s cheese, a springy sourdough cob and some goudsalami; in other words, all you could ask for from a good couple hours of hunter-gathering to eat sat in a secluded harbour. While this was a great moment for us, what makes Amsterdam great is that all the lunches that we had out while wondering around the city were delicious. Whether it wasa bagel shop by the Rijksmuseum, with it fantastic collections of art from the Dutch ‘Golden Age’, or our toasty and beer sat at Cafe Heuvel watching the world pass by we were stumped to find a duff meal.
Which brings us onto another important point – beer. While Dutch beers may have attracted world attention through sponsorship of any number of sporting events, few drink it the same way – in dinky half-pints. Lager is infinitely fresher drunk this way and sinks down nicely. Undoubtedly, this is helped along by the fact that the brewery is only a short walk away, as in the case of Heineken.
In terms of evening dining, one of our long term favourites is Red, a surf and turf restaurant located on Keizergracht. As a place to eat it has an almost womb-like comfort to it, if you can imagine a womb dominated by vibrant green upholstery and a red haired woman with an apple in her mouth gazing down on your dinner. Surreal? Maybe, but the steak (our recommendation) is excellent and would be a serious contender for any top restaurant in London. Importantly it is also reasonably priced for such a good dinner; we probably escaped for about £80 for two with a bottle of wine and a glass of prossecco each to start.
Amsterdam is a city of contradictions in many ways. While the night life has limited its reputation in some quarters, it is also worth a visit for so many other reasons than just what the red-light district has to offer and food is definitely one of them. So next time you go on a stag-do or even think of planning a civilised weekend away, give Amsterdam some serious thought and remember to take in as many of the pots you possibly can and not just the one you want to roll up.
howellandharte.com is the joint brainchild of Will Howell and Conor Harte. Both have learnt to cook from a young age, but started to explore the best ways to create simple and cheap dishes at university. Along with a number of cooking courses along the way, the two continue to explore ways to eat well for less.