Best Beef Rendang

Who doesn’t love a good curry?  But rather than the classic kormas and tame tikkas, have a bash at a simple but rewarding rendang, slow cooked to perfection.

A little bit of love is needed with this one but I promise it is absolutely worth the effort.

Beef Rendang

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 10 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 cardamon pods
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chillis, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • Thumb size piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 200g roughly chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 kg beef chuck, cut into big chunks
  • Ground nut oil for frying
  • 2 tins coconut milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Palm sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Chopped coriander leaves to serve
  • Good quality salt flakes


  1. Heat a wok over a medium heat and toast the desiccated coconut until golden and fragrant before setting aside for serving.
  2. Toast the cloves, cardamon pods, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and star anise until popping, before grinding down with a generous pinch of sea salt to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
  3. Blitz up the garlic, chilli, ginger, red onion, tumeric and lemongrass with a splash of water to create your rendang paste.
  4. Season up the beef chuck generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat up your wok nice and high with some ground nut oil and fry off the beef (in batches if necessary) until there is nice caramelised colour on all the pieces.
  6. Pour in your paste and stir really well for a minute to coat everything.
  7. Sprinkle over the ground spices and stir again really well for a minute or two.
  8. Add both cans of coconut milk and de-glaze the pan before lowering the heat.
  9. Add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of palm sugar.
  10. Let the curry gently bubble away for over an hour, stirring every so often. Consistency is to everyone’s taste, some like this curry dry and concentrated, some prefer a good thick sauce. It is up to you! I would recommend taking this to the brink of being dry over about 90 minutes, so it becomes rich and concentrated.
  11. Squeeze in the lime juice (you can use tamarind but limes are a bit more flexible and won’t go to waste). Combine and cook out until the consistency is as desired.
  12. You can mix in your desiccated coconut now or leave to garnish alongside the coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve with steamed rice and some Indian spiced stir fried vegetables.

Heatwave BBQ with a twist


Paella on hot coals..

A bit of a recipe this week – but not as I would normally post with the finest of details and ingredients.  That is because I would love my readers to go and experiment with this one.

It’s beautiful BBQ weather in the UK at the moment with temperatures reaching 31 Celsius here today in Bournemouth.  If you’re aiming to feed 6 or so with your BBQ, it’s all too tempting to play it safe with burgers, sausages and co – but why not create a one-pan masterpiece with your own signature paella.

A meal all in one pan, and if you don’t have a paella pan then any all metal pan (no plastic handles) with a reasonably large flat surface area to work with will do.  There is no harm in doing this on the hob either if you fancy.  I cannot recommend enough getting yourself a paella pan from Amazon though.

Now here is where you’re expecting the recipe to start, but to keep you creative I’ll give you the key ratios for a 6-8 person paella:-

  • 500g paella rice (handy as you can buy a packet this size)
  • 200ml white wine (you may just have to drink the rest)
  • 1 litre chicken/veg/fish stock (infuse with saffron if you’ve got some)
  • 400g fresh or tinned tomatoes, chopped

The rest is as flexible as you like.  Start by frying off any combination of onions (red/white/spring), peppers, celery, garlic, chilli, chorizo, chicken or even the traditional rabbit before stirring in your rice for a few minutes.  Pour in the wine and once evaporated, add the stock and tomatoes and simmer away for ten minutes.  You can then finish with any combination of your favourite seafood.  Chunks of haddock or cod, tiger prawns, squid, mussels, cockles – it’s up to you!  Choose what you like and make it your own.

We always finish with lashings of lemon juice, peas and plenty of black pepper.  If you take off the heat and cover with foil for 10 minutes before serving, you’ll have the perfect paella to impress your guests with.

Happy BBQing!

Pan seared sea bass, lemongrass risotto

A classic risotto is a wonderful thing, but with a Thai twist, you can be far more creative and drop a lovely fresh piece of pan fried fish on top.  A can of coconut milk is the perfect substitute for stock, when serving 2 people.

Pan seared sea bass, lemongrass risotto

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bashed and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped & separated
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp thai fish sauce
  • 160g frozen petit pois/garden peas
  • Cornish sea salt
  • Pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Lemon wedges to serve


  1. Start your risotto in the normal way by choosing your best non-stick pan and gently sweat the onion and celery in the olive oil with a pinch of good quality sea salt for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, lemongrass, chilli and coriander stalks, continuing to fry gently for 2 more minutes until fragrant.
  3. Pour in your risotto rice, stirring continually to coat the rice until it becomes translucent.
  4. Zest the lemon into the pan and continue stirring as you add the coconut milk little by little as the rice absorbs all the liquid.  Juice the lemon and add alongside the fish sauce and some crushed pink peppercorns.
  5. When the rice is nearly cooked, stir in the peas for 2 minutes before folding in the chopped coriander leaves.
  6. Season to taste, take off the heat, cover.
  7. Take your sea bass fillets and score the skin as pictured with a sharp knife. This will prevent the skin curling up in the pan and increase your chances of a crispy skin and soft flesh.  Season the skin with sea salt, getting in between those grooves you have scored.
  8. Bring a non-stick frying pan up to a medium-high heat and add a splash of olive oil, placing the sea bass fillets skin side down.
  9. Cook skin side down for 2-3 minutes, be confident!  You need to do 85% of the cooking on this side.  You will start to see the flesh turning bright white.  Season the fish on the flesh side whilst cooking.  Flip and cook for 1 minute further.
  10. Dish up your risotto, serving the fish on top and adding some lemon wedges and coriander leaves to serve.

Smoked Mackerel Tartare with Cucumber Ketchup

A stunning but simple starter to impress your dinner party guests.

I put this together for Christmas 2016, as a starter to blow away any prawn cocktail…but despite its wonderful colourful presentation – anyone can throw this together in a matter of minutes.  The smoky, rich tartare compliments the sweet beetroot and sharp but refreshing ketchup.

Smoked Mackerel Tartare with Cucumber ketchup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 peppered smoked mackerel fillets
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 2 pickled gherkins
  • 4 tbsp homemade or good quality mayonnaise (I like rapeseed oil mayo)
  • chopped dill
  • juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon to your taste
  • 4 Sourdough crispbread
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum
  • 2-3 cooked beetroots in their own juice (not pickled)
  • radish slices
  • microherbs or salad cress for garnish
  • good quality salt flakes


  1. Make the cucumber ketchup ahead of time by roughly chopping the cucumber. Heat the vinegar and sugar together in a pan until the sugar dissolves.  When cooled, add alongside the cucumber to a blender and blitz until smooth, seasoning with salt.  Turn the blender back on and add the xanthan gum, mixing well.  The mixture will now be gelatinous and ready to put in a squeezy bottle for the final presentation.  Pop in the fridge until you are ready to assemble.
  2. Skin the mackerel fillets and roughly chop on a large board.
  3. Quarter your boiled eggs and add to the board.
  4. Slice the gherkins and add to the board.
  5. Chop the dill finely and sprinkle over the mixture on the board.
  6. Dollop over the mayonnaise and start bringing together the mixture with a spoon.
  7. Using a large kitchen knife, chop through the mixture continually for as long as it takes to bring together a fine mixture that resembles a sandwich filler consistency.
  8. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season with salt to taste.  Refrigerate in a container until you are ready to assemble.
  9. Cube the cooked beetroots.
  10. To assemble, stick each crispbread to a plate with a dollop of your favourite homemade fish pate – I have a very simple smoked mackerel recipe that works wonderfully with this dish.  Use a cooking/presentation ring to layer up the smoked mackerel tartare and then beetroot cubes.  Lift off the cooking rings before adding small blobs of your ketchup, radish slices and the garnish of your choice.

Stilton, mango and honey ciabatta with a king prawn salad

This perfect, posh cheese on toast goes hand in hand with a fresh prawn salad

This perfect, posh cheese on toast goes hand in hand with a fresh prawn salad

This recipe is inspired by one of my father’s many kitchen creations, adapted into a light, fuss-free Summer supper. A posh cheese on toast!

Cheese and fruit are a well known combination, but there are so many mis-guided concoctions on our supermarket shelves. For me, the sight of overly sweet dried cranberries, hammered into the side of a lovely mature piece of cheese is a crime against good food! Despite that, the sweet but tangy mango and lemon in this recipe works perfectly with the power of any blue cheese, finished beautifully with a drizzle of runny honey.

To make the dish fit for a simple homemade main course, I’ve chosen to add a really quick dressed salad with cooked king prawns.

Stilton and mango, the Wisdom family hereby patents the combination!

Stilton, mango and honey ciabatta with a king prawn salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 long white ciabatta rolls
  • 1 lump mature stilton
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 2 handfuls pine nuts
  • 24 cooked king prawns
  • runny honey for drizzling
  • mixed leaf salad of choice
  • 1 lemon
  • balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning


  1. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half lengthwise and arrange evenly on tin foil ready for the grill.
  2. Season the ciabatta rolls with coarse rock salt, cracked black pepper, drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little grated lemon rind.
  3. Slice the stilton and arrange on top of the ciabatta rolls before placing under a pre-heated grill until the stilton is melted and nicely browned, the ciabatta toasted. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in small dry frying pan over a moderate heat until gently browned.
  4. Peel and slice the mango into chunky strips, laying them over the top of the stilton.
  5. Scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top of the stilton and mango ciabatta.
  6. Drizzle the honey lightly over the dish.
  7. Dress a mixed leaf salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and cracked black pepper.
  8. Place a small salad portion each side of the ciabatta and top with three king prawns each side.
  9. Finish the dish with a little drizzle of lemon juice and a good helping of cracked black pepper.

Beetroot cured Salmon Gravlax

Beetroot cured salmon gravlax is an impressive homemade alternative to smoked salmon and combines beautifully with scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast

Beetroot cured salmon gravlax is an impressive homemade alternative to smoked salmon and combines beautifully with scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast

My first blog recipe is a new favourite of mine, inspired by my recent visit to ‘Charlotte’s Place,’ Ealing, and adapted from an 80s Swedish classic.

Gravlax, Scandinavian for ‘grave’ is a dill, salt and sugar cured salmon that historically found itself wrapped in bark, weighed down with bricks and buried six feet under. The beetroot, horseradish, lemon and peach schnapps are my modern twists to bring this classic to life with a colourful, spicy and fruity tang.

The quantities in this dish really are rough and it’s very much down to your personal taste. A trial and error exercise that you can keep your own secret version of locked away!

I choose to use this colourful cured salmon as an alternative to smoked salmon and the flavours combine nicely with creamy scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast.

Beetroot cured Salmon Gravlax

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 medium sized salmon side fillet, skin on, pin-bones removed
  • 3-4 tbsps coarse rock salt
  • 1-2 tbsps demerara sugar
  • 1 fresh beetroot, peeled, finely grated
  • 2-3 tsps fresh horseradish, peeled, finely grated
  • 25 ml peach schnapps
  • 1 lemon
  • large bunch of dill, coarsely chopped


  1. Place the salmon fillet skin side down on a deep enough tray to hold the moisture extracted from the fish during the curing process.
  2. Evenly spoon over the coarse rock salt and demerara sugar until the salmon fillet is covered.
  3. Spread the beetroot and horseradish across the salmon fillet, ensuring the beetroot is covering all of the flesh to allow for maximum colour penetration.
  4. Drizzle over the peach schnapps and evenly scatter over the dill.
  5. Grate over the lemon, before pouring over the squeezed juice.
  6. Pat down all of the ingredients on top of the salmon to allow for an even distribution of flavour.
  7. Cover the salmon tightly with cling film, weigh down with bottled water or large fruit juice cartons and refrigerate for 48 hours.
  8. After 48 hours, remove the tray from the fridge and gently scrape away the remaining topping from the salmon.
  9. Separate the skin from the fillet by carefully running a sharp knife underneath the salmon, angled towards the skin.
  10. Slice thinly across the top of the salmon into long strips, ready to arrange on your dish of choice.
  11. The remaining salmon can be covered with cling film and kept in the fridge for 4-5 days.
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