Everyone in London has their favourite falafel spot. For me, it’s an unobtrusive stand in Whitecross Market, where they cook the outside of the falafel nice and crunchy and make the inside surprisingly sweet. Serve these up with as many pickles as you can stomach.
Time to Cook
1 cup dry chickpeas
1 cup broad beans
1 tsp baking soda
1 medium-sized shallot
1/2 cup parsley
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sugar
Oil, for frying
- Soak your chickpeas and broad beans overnight. It’s important you use dried beans: tinned ones will turn to mush and won’t work properly.
2. Blend them up with your other ingredients (shallot, parsley, spices and baking powder) until it’s coarse. I use a hand blender — my Nutribullet isn’t a friend for this recipe.
3. Mould them into little balls then squish them up so they look like thick, half-inch pancakes
4. Drop them in the sizzling oil. I use a deep fat fryer, because I’m northern. You can use oil in a pan if you don’t have one — just make sure it’s super hot.
5. The baking powder will make them puff up in the heat. Cook them for a few minutes, turning them over if you need to, to ensure they’re completely browned.
6. Take them out and eat!
There are many lessons I learned from dating Italian and Spanish men. One of them, is the importance of good-quality tomato sauce. It’s super easy to make — and tastes great on pasta! No need to over complicate this hearty, Italian dish. When cooked properly, the ingredients speak for themselves.
Time to Cook
6 fresh tomatoes (the redder, the better)
1 clove of garlic
Lots of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Salt & pepper
- Blend your six tomatoes into a paste. I’m lazy and do it with the skins on as they lose their texture when cooked up — but if you’re cooking for super-sensitive kids, drop them in boiling water for a minute first then peel off the skins before blending them up. Or another trick would be to just chop them in half and grate all the lovely, tomato juice and seeds into a bowl then toss away the skins.
2. Fry the garlic in your olive oil (sorry, Italians — I know it’s a crime to fry with it). Don’t let it burn: 30-seconds is fine. Pour the tomato into your pot, drop in your half a teaspoon of sugar, and give it a stir. Put the lid on and let it bubble away for 15-minutes until it’s turned from a pink, frothy colour into a dark, red paste.
3. Boil your pasta in lots of water. The more water, the better. When it’s al-dente, drain it and pour it into the pan of tomato sauce.
4. Give everything a stir and season it with salt, black pepper and fresh basil. Drench it in as much olive oil as you want (who’s judging?) and plate it up.
5. Finish with some extra basil, olive oil and pepper.
I’ll never forget the first time I tried agedashi tofu for the first time. I was at Bone Daddies, in High Street Kensington. Once I tried them, I couldn’t get them out of my head! If you’re tired of tofu tasting like chewy clumps of water, give these a try. You’ll be eating them all day long.
Time to Cook
One block of firm tofu
One tablespoon of cornflour
Fresh red chilli
Lots of oil
1/2 cup dashi
2 tbsp soy sauce
- Wrap your tofu in a tea towel and put something heavy on top of it to drain out the excess water. I tend to use a pan full of water! Make sure you put the wrapped block on a plate, to stop any excess water flooding your worktop. Leave it to drain for around 15-minutes.
- While the tofu is draining, it’s time to make your broth. In a pan, mix the dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and bring it to a heat. I like my broth super vinergary (because I’m northern). Give yours a taste, and add a splash of rice vinegar if you want more of a tang.
- When your tofu is drained, cut it into inch cubes. Pop them in a carrier bag and drop in the table spoon of cornstarch. Wrap the bag tight, keeping the air inside, and shake it all around to get that cornstarch all over the chunks. Or, if you want to be lazy, just stir it round in a bowl. This way’s more fun though.
- Heat up your oil in a pan – or a fat fryer, if you’ve got one. When it’s sizzling, drop the coated tofu into the pan and let it sizzle for a few minutes. The cornstarch will develop a nice, crunchy batter.
- While it’s cooking, it’s time to quickly chop your veg! Cut your chilli and spring onion into thin slices. Keep it to the side for a second: you’ll be using it next.
- Put your fried tofu cubes on a piece of kitchen paper to drain off the excess oil if you’re healthy. Or, if you’re like me, put them straight in the bowl. The oil’s tasty and will just float around the top!
- Pour your lovely broth over the cubes, so they’ve got a nice soup around the base. Don’t submerge them!
- Sprinkle them with the chopped chilli and spring onion and eat to your heart’s content!