Category Archives: tomato

bbt tortilla

bacon broccoli tomato tortilla

What a great year it’s been for tomatoes. The plants in my garden have been raving with fruit, and they’ve been bursting with sweetness. A really bumper crop. Most of them have ended up in pasta sauce and pizza topping but these ones were deserving of a little more.

And so I happened across a recipe for a “BLT tortilla” in the SORTED cookbook but didn’t fancy rocket in mine, so some frozen broccoli jumped in instead. Coupled with refreshing, sweet tomatoes what you get is a portable and tasty lunch that’d be great in a picnic or easily upgraded to main meal status with a decent salad.

BBT tortilla (serves 4 – 6):

6 rashers smoked bacon, diced

About 12 frozen broccoli florets

8 eggs

A couple of handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

A handful of grated parmesan

  1. Get a frying pan over a high heat and preheat the oven to 180°C. Add a dash of oil to the pan and fry the bacon briskly until coloured, and then add the broccoli. Stir fry until the broccoli has started to soften.
  2. Mix the eggs in a bowl with the parmesan, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour this and the tomatoes into the pan, and take this opportunity to space the veg around the pan evenly. When that’s done transfer to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the wobble has just gone. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out and serving.

beef madras

beef madras curry from sorted food

YouTube is quickly giving rise to a whole new breed of superstar; the self-made vlogger. From NineBrassMonkeys to Periodic Videos, if you’ve got something to say there’s a place for your voice. And if people like you, you’ll build a following (a quick shout out to my great mate MeganIsSleeping – go watch, subscribe and like!). This of course allows room for all hobbies, including food and cooking. I’ve given it a try myself but struggle to make it work. Some people that have found the magic formula are Sorted Food. With nearly half a million subscribers and over 35 million combined views, they’re clearly doing something right.

I was sent a printed copy of Sorted Food’s Food with Friends. On first pass everything reads a little ordinary, but looking again there’s surprising time-saving ingenuity at play – tapenade as a duxelle substitute in a Wellington, tinned oysters in a gratin, BLT in tortilla form. In terms of writing all the instructions are bold and brash with laddish overtones, featuring plenty of SQUEEZE this and SPLASH that. There’s definitely a debt to Jamie Oliver in the style, but it may put some off.

As a fan of the channel, Spud Jr took over this one. We left this simmering for 90 minutes but there was definitely something missing from the flavour, it lacked depth. I had to tone down the chilli content for the family so the tomato was the dominant flavour. It took a little boost from powdered coconut to add a rich sweetness (I love  this stuff from Maggi’s and have always got a box handy for coconut rice, Thai dishes or cake mixes). The instructions are slightly off on this recipe, referencing a paste which you may not realise you’ve just created in previous steps. My beef also wasn’t tender in 90 minutes, so this recipe would need someone confident dealing with casseroling meat to know it may take longer. I reckon with patience 4 hours would make this melting and delicious.

This are nitpicks really, from someone who’s spent a long time in the kitchen. If you’re looking for a great core of recipes you’re likely to actually want to make in an accessible style, this would be a good start. With recipes at the more humble end of budgets and a focus on fast food (the good kind!), this would be a great book to slide into a student’s bag before they head off to Uni (or gift them the Kindle version).

If you want to give it a try, The Ultimate Barbie from the Sorted crew is free to download for Kindle. Thanks to Penguin for the book.

Beef madras (serves 4):

2 onions, peeled

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon chilli powder

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lemon

800g diced beef

4 tablespoons tomato puree

200ml beef stock

1 tin tomatoes

2 tablespoons powdered coconut

For the leek garnish:

½ a leek

1 tablespoon cornflour

  1. Get a large lidded casserole on the hob over a high heat. Season the beef and fry all over until browned.
  2. While the beef browns, in a food processor blitz the onion, garlic and ginger to a paste. Add the salt and some pepper, the chilli, coriander, lemon and fennel and whizz for a second or two to recombine. Add this to the browned beef and continue to fry until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes and stock, stir well to combine and then cover. SImmer on a low heat for 60 minutes and stir in the coconut. After 90 minutes check to see if the beef is tender.
  4. For the leek garnish, slice the leek into fine strips and dust with cornflour. In a generous amount of oil fry the leek strips for a minute on each side then drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt and scatter over the curry. Serve with creme fraiche and basmati rice.

open raviolo with mushrooms


I’ve revived an old habit of mine: devouring biographies. My local library has seen a lot of me lately, as I’ve read stories from all walks of life, Ken Livingstone to Steve-o, Chris Evans to Keith Floyd.

One that’s stayed with me is Antonio Carluccio – A Recipe for Life. I picked it up as a fan of his food and TV programmes. I wasn’t prepared for the vast scope of his life, from growing up the station master’s son, to travelling Europe in all sorts of jobs, to being driven to several suicide attempts due to crippling depression. You would expect the avuncular TV host’s story to be whimsical and giddy, but it is weighed down by a man who seems profoundly lonely. Even his now-beloved Gennaro betrays him and further fuels his sadness.

It’s a sobering read, but well worth tracking down.

On a more upbeat note, Antonio was on Saturday Kitchen this weekend and served up this delightfully simple dish that speaks to his core food philosophy: mof-mof, or “minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour”. Only an Italian could come up with that credo!

It’s a delicious pasta dish, and if I could’ve laid my hands on parsley like the original recipe asks it would’ve been perfect. I embellished mine with truffle salt, a birthday present which just happened to be Carluccio’s branded too. It’s so quick to cook, and delicious.

Open raviolo with mushrooms (serves 2):

30g butter

1 garlic clove, crushed

300g chestnut mushrooms, quartered

1 tablespoon tomato puree

Truffle salt

70ml white wine

4 fresh lasagne sheets

Freshly grated parmesan

  1. Get a frying pan on a medium-low heat and some salted water on to boil in a saucepan. Add a little oil to the saucepan to prevent the sheets from sticking.
  2. Melt the butter in the frying pan and add the garlic. Before it browns add the mushrooms and gently fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and season with truffle salt and black pepper. Cook for another minute before adding the wine and bringing to the boil to reduce.
  3. Pop the lasagne in the water to cook – this should only take 1 – 2 minutes. Put them to one side when done.
  4. When the wine has reduced to a thick orangey sauce, assemble the dish by alternating pasta sheets with the mushroom mixture. Top with parmesan before serving.

pollock with jollof-style masala rice

jollof masala rice pollock

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with quite a few people of Nigerian descent; without fail every one of them at some point has brought in jollof rice from home for lunch. This is a slight play on it. Usually the rice is simmered in tomatoes but this can be time consuming so I kept the parts separate until the last minute. I blended it with a gift from a colleague, a coriander-heavy blend of garam masala that he likes. The result is a spicy-sweet rich dish, topped with some aniseedy pollock. Satisfying, homely stuff and it’s easy to see why jollof is a Nigerian family staple.

Pollock with jollof-style masala rice (serves 1 but would be great in bulk):

1 pollock fillet

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 handful chopped onion (I like to use frozen for convenience)

1 cinnamon stick (I like Cinnamon Hill)

2 cloves

1 star anise

1 handful basmati rice

2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon garam masala

Lemon slices, to garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Get a saucepan and a frying pan over medium heats.
  2. Lay the fish on a piece of tin foil, drizzle over a little oil, salt pepper and the fennel seeds. Wrap up and bake for 15 – 18 mins until cooked through.
  3. Heat a little oil in the saucepan and add the onion, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. After they’ve had a minute add the onion and stir fry until softened.
  4. Meanwhile add the tomatoes and garam masala to the frying pan and bring to a simmer,
  5. Back at the onion, crank up the heat and add the rice with a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat in the aromatic oil, and then cover with boiling water to twice the level of the rice. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the rice is done, then turn off the heat and cover while you finish everything else.
  6. Check the tomatoes – they may need a little more salt or sugar to balance everything out. When ready, stir into the rice, top with the fish and drizzle with lemon.

keema chana curry

keema chana curry

This was completely inspired to the ideas I’d been absorbing from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. Keeping a few pans on the go, everything cooked separately and brought together, powerful spices to give the flavours a kick… It’s exactly in keeping with the way some of the Jamie recipes work.

I do have one ingredient in there I’m not convinced Jamie would approve of… frozen mince and onion. But I can’t ignore the time-saving this offers me.

If’ I’d have had coriander leaf to scatter on top, it would’ve been perfect. But I was happy enough.

Keema chana curry (serves 2):

250g frozen mince and onion

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tin tomatoes

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tin chickpeas, drained

2 sweetcorn cob halves

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

  1. Get two frying pans and a saucepan on pretty hot. Get the kettle on to boil.

  2. Add a dash of oil to one of the pans and add the cumin seeds and turmeric. After a minute add the mince and onion and stir often.

  3. Get your blender ready, and whizz up the onion, garlic, tomatoes, nigella and garam masala with a pinch of salt until liquid. Add to the other pan and allow to bubble. After a couple of minutes add the chickpeas.

  4. Fill the sauce pan with boiling water and add the sweetcorn. Simmer for 10 minutes until tender, then drain. Return to the pan and add a knob of butter, a pinch of smoked sea salt and paprika. Pop the lid on and toss well.

  5. Serve the mince on top of the tomatoey chickpeas with the sweetcorn on the side.

15 minute chilli con carne meatballs

jamie oliver's 15 minute chilli con carne meatballs

Jamie Oliver thunders on with another lightning-quick meal, this time turning his attention to chilli con carne. I’m no stranger to rapid chilli but this is a more hearty and balanced version than mine. This chilli dinner is from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals.


The genius here is to disassemble chilli con carne’s parts (spiced meat, cumin, beans, tomatoey sauce) and cook each part separately. This way you get a “best of” chilli with all the things you love but in a fraction of the time.

I departed from Jamie’s recipe slightly – he used bulgar wheat where I went for regular basmati rice but the effect and timing is the same. I also didn’t have a lemon to hand so used a little more lime in the rice. He also grilled some chilli peppers as a garnish but they’re really not my thing so left them out. Other than that it’s exactly as is, and it’s extremely tasty. At 14 minutes to crank out it wasn’t too demanding on my time either! I’m especially a fan of blitzing a jar of peppers with passata to make a sauce base which I’m definitely going to repurpose in other recipes for a quick fix.

Chilli con carne meatballs (serves 4):

For the rice:

1 mug basmati rice

1 lime

1 cinnamon stick

For the meatballs:

400g beef mince

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 small jar peppers

4 spring onions

Bunch of coriander

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

700g passata

1 tin kidney beans

1 pinch cumin seeds

  1. For the rice, put the basmati rice with twice the quantity of boiling water into a lidded saucepan over a medium heat, along with half the lime and the cinnamon. Stir often while you get on with everything else.
  2. Combine the mince and garam masala with some salt and pepper and divide into 16 meatballs. Get them into a frying pan over a hot heat with a little oil, tossing regularly.
  3. Get another frying pan super-hot. In a liquidizer blitz the peppers, half the spring onions, paprika, half the coriander and passata to a smooth sauce and add this to the pan.
  4. Add the kidney beans and cumin seeds to the meatball pan. Once the meatballs are browned on all sides remove while you continue to heat the beans. Once the rice is cooked plate with the meatballs, sauce and beans, and garnish with the remaining coriander and sliced spring onions. Serve with creme fraiche or natural yoghurt if you like, and the lime wedges on the side.

Gary Fennon

rustica pizza

chicken, bacon, spinach and tomato pizza on a naan bread base

I seem to be writing about nothing but pizzas at the moment. I don’t know what it is but I can’t stop craving that perfect mix of bread, cheese and tomato.

What luck then, that Domino’s invited me to try their Gourmet range of take away pizza. I’m so-so on Domino’s pizzas usually, I find their bases a bit blandy and bready, instead of puffy and yeasty as I like them. The base can be so easily overlooked but it for me it should definitely be the star of a pizza. But if they’re paying I’ll give it a go.

Armed with a group of friends, we tried out their Firenze and Rustica pizzas, and a bunch of sides. The ordering system is inventive, with an online order tracker with automatic post-back (one for the jQuery fans) that updates onscreen as to what your pizza is up to at any time. This probably works really well when you’re having a delivery, but if you’re collecting there is nowhere to be told when you should turn up for it. We just pot-lucked it in the end; had we not we’d probably still be staring at the screen.

dominos rustica and firenze pizzasThe Firenze is topped with salami, pepperoni and peppers, upon which my chum demanded extra chillies. I ordered the Rustica for me which boasts chicken, bacon, spinach and SunBlush tomatoes. The spicy pizza went down with my friends really well, just what they were after. The Rustica was perfectly OK, just a very ordinary takeaway pizza. The base was certainly a lot better than I remember, with a bit of stretch to it, and the spinach was a nice touch. As for the sides, the garlic mozzarella sticks were great (they’re fried cheese; how can you go wrong?) but the chicken wings were abysmal: little sweaty things that tasted only of that chemical heat you get that flashes hot then disappears immediately.

Furthermore it cost a small fortune. One of these Gourmet pizzas costs £16.99 which is no small figure for something which has a relatively tiny base cost. I haven’t a clue where your money is going.

I was inspired to beat them at their own game. I had one of Warburton’s square naans to hand and they are sensational on their own; mildly spiced, excellent texture and just enough crunch (Atul Kocchar loves them!). However they also work fantastically well as a pizza base, so topped with roast chicken, smoked bacon and a splash of spinach to convince you it’s a balanced meal you have a superb pizza. A fraction of the cost and I can have it ready before the guy on the moped arrives.

Rustica pizza (serves 2):

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

½ tin of tomatoes

Balsamic vinegar

1 Warburton’s naan

1 ball of mozzarella, dried well and grated

1 roasted chicken breast, diced

2 slices of smoked bacon, cut into lardons

Small handful of fresh spinach leaves

  1. Get the oven on as hot as you can. Pop the halved tomatoes in a baking tray and shove them in while you get on with everything else.
  2. Get a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the bacon for a couple of minutes, tossing occasionally until starting to colour (you will finish them off in the oven). Tip the bacon on to some kitchen roll to drain and add the tinned tomatoes, turning the heat up high. Add a dash of vinegar along with a pinch of salt and sugar and allow it to bubble furiously for 4 – 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and gloopy. Tip this into a sieve over a bowl and mash well to squeeze all the juice out (you can discard the pulp).
  3. Lay the naan on the baking tray and smooth over the tomato sauce. Top with the meats, cheese and spinach and pop in the hot oven for 7 – 8 minutes until the spinach has wilted and the cheese melted. Take the pizza and the tomatoes out of the oven and dot the surface of the pizzas with the now-concentrated tomatoes.