Celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine has come up with a new way to eat and live sustainably.
She believes we can all enjoy a balanced diet that is seasonal, low in calories and will tackle the health of our country’s soil without having to go veggie or vegan.
Gizzi, who reveals exactly how you can do it in her new book Restore, says: “We are still very much living the capitalist dream of ‘consume, consume, consume’.
“I have a lot of opinions about this and with this book, I’m attempting to debunk these complex issues to help provide a down-to-earth guide to shopping, eating and cooking for now.”
Here, Gizzi shares four of her new recipes.
Pork and sage cannelloni
This might read as if it’s a heavy dish, but it’s actually very dainty. It may not be a classic cannelloni recipe, but you can’t deny its flavours are truly Italian.
Cannelloni is not simply an alternative to lasagne – it’s something pretty special, and it saddens me that it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
One of the dishes I grew up making was cannelloni stuffed with spinach, green chillies, lemon, nutmeg and ricotta. Try this if you want a veggie version, but I want to showcase the pork, mostly because it’s delicious, but also because it’s a good way to eat higher-welfare pork.
Start making this the day before you plan to eat it, as the pork filling ideally needs to be chilled overnight. The tomato sauce can also be made ahead of time.
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus overnight chilling time
Cooking time: 2 hours 15 minutes
10 lasagne sheets, ideally fresh but dried is fine
Parmesan, for grating (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE PORK FILLING
2 tbsp oil, plus extra for greasing 600g pork mince
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed,
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and finely chopped
375ml dry white wine
500ml fresh chicken stock
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Small bunch of sage, thinly sliced
300ml double cream
¾ tsp salt
A good grinding of black pepper
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE
3 tbsp olive oil
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
2kg tomatoes (a mixture of plum, vine and cherry),
blitzed to a puree
2 tbsp sherry vinegar, or red or white wine vinegar
Large bunch of basil leaves
FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE
500ml whole milk
1 bay leaf
Generous grating of nutmeg
50g plain flour
250-300g ball of mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
1. Heat the oil for the pork filling in a frying pan over a high heat, add the mince and brown it well. It’s important not to overcrowd the pan so do it in two batches. Once browned, put both batches of mince back in the pan, add the onions, fennel seeds and dried chilli flakes, and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and sweat for a further 10-15 minutes over a low heat or until the meat and onions look homogenised in colour. Add the wine and chicken stock and simmer for about 30 minutes until the liquid has almost evaporated. At this stage, mix in the lemon zest and juice, sliced sage leaves and double cream and cook until the cream has amalgamated into the sauce and the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, leave to cool, then chill in the fridge for a few hours, preferably overnight, so the mixture is firm enough to handle and shape to fill the cannelloni.
2. Next, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole dish over a medium-low heat, add the garlic and fry gently for about 10 minutes until softened. Pour the pureed tomatoes into the dish, season well, add the vinegar and cook slowly over a low heat for 1 hour 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced and developed a deep, concentrated flavour. Remove from the heat. I like to blitz the sauce once more to ensure it’s perfectly smooth, before tearing up the basil leaves and stirring through, but you can leave it as it is if you prefer.
3. To make the bechamel sauce, warm the milk, bay leaf and nutmeg in a pan (be careful not to let it boil). Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 10 minutes, then discard the bay leaf. Melt the butter in a separate pan, then whisk in the flour. Allow the flour to cook for a couple of minutes, then add the warm milk bit by bit, whisking as you go to achieve a smooth consistency. Continue until all the milk is combined and the sauce looks glossy. Bring the sauce to the boil slowly to reduce it, making sure you keep scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to stop any scorching. When it has a good thick viscosity, beat in the mozzarella until completely melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little more nutmeg.
4. When you’re ready to construct the dish, preheat the oven to 200°C/l80°C fan/ Gas Mark 6.
5. Cook 10 dried lasagne sheets in a pan of salted boiling water for 4-6 minutes until they become flexible enough to shape into cannelloni tubes, then refresh in ice-cold water. If you are using fresh pasta, reduce the boiling time to 1 minute. Cut each sheet of lasagne in half to form 2 x 10cm squares. Roll a small handful of the chilled pork filling into a sausage-shaped cylinder about 10cm long, then wrap it in the pasta to form a tube. Repeat this process until all the pork mince and pasta is used up.
6. Grease a large, deep ovenproof dish (or 2 gratin dishes) with a little oil to prevent the cannelloni from sticking. Arrange the cannelloni in an even layer across the base. Depending on the size of your dish, you will probably need to do this in two layers, so pour a thin layer of tomato sauce across the bottom layer of cannelloni before arranging the rest on top, then pour the rest of the tomato sauce over, followed by the bechamel. Finish with a grating of Parmesan across the top if you like. If you prepare it in two separate dishes, you could even bake half and freeze half.
7. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling on the sides and the surface is lovely and golden. Remove from
the oven and serve.
Roasted lamb belly and ribs
Lamb belly and ribs are so delicious and if you’ve not tried them yet, you must! Like pork belly, they have lots of layers of fat that melt away as they cook.
You can eat lamb belly in the same way too: a long, slow roast results in soft, yielding meat and ramping up the heat at the end crisps it up. You can also grill them over coals – lamb ribs from an ocakbasi (Turkish grill) are really something else.
This recipe shows how to prepare it crispy-duck style, with classic accompaniments, but it suits many other dishes. The meat is great for a lamb version of Mexican carnitas, and leftovers are superb in flatbreads as a kebab.
Traditional crispy duck contains MSG (monosodium glutamate). Often, it’s MSG-laced food that fixes my brain so I’ve included it here – but it can be left out.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours 30 minutes
1 whole lamb belly with ribs (about 1.2kg) – it will come in two parts
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
A decent grinding of black pepper
FOR THE 5-SPICE MIX
¼ tbsp 5-spice powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp salt
¼ tsp powderedMSG (optional)
6 spring onions, shredded
½ cucumber, deseeded, cut into matchsticks
Chinese pancakes (available from Chinese supermarkets)
Plum hoisin sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/l60°C fan/Gas Mark 4.
2. Rub the lamb belly and ribs with the oil and season with the salt and both peppers. The flavour of this is distinct in its purity, so don’t mess about trying to add flavours. Pop the seasoned lamb in a large roasting tray with the water and – this bit is critical – tightly wrap the whole tray in foil so it’s absolutely airtight. Bake in the oven for around 3 hours 30 minutes. After this time, have a peek. The meat should be falling off the bone and have shrunk a fair bit, and there may be a little sauce and a fair bit of fat. If it’s not ready, then tightly seal again and pop back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
3. When you’ve removed it from the oven, take off the foil, turn the oven as hot as it can go (about 260°C/240°C fan/Gas Mark 10) and, while you wait for the oven to heat up, drain off all the fat (keep it to cook with) and place the shredded spring onions and cucumber matchsticks in a bowl of ice-cold water. Mix together the 5-spice mix ingredients (and MSG, if using) and rub half of this mixture on to the lamb. Roast the meat, uncovered, for 15-25 minutes, or until it is super browned and crispy.
4. Get all your accompaniments ready. Steam the pancakes, remove the cucumber and spring onions from the water and drain on kitchen paper. Put hoisin and sriracha in bowls and the remaining 5-spice mix in a little bowl. Lay the crispy lamb belly on a serving plate and shred it like duck. I put a hot pancake in the palm of my hands, spread it with hoisin sauce, pop on some crispy lamb, sprinkle the remaining 5-spice mix on the lamb for a bit of extra POW, then top with the shredded greens and a drizzle of sriracha. But you can eat it however you like.
This might resemble the simple green salsa you get in burrito restaurants, but its heritage in Mexico is rich and varied. You can dress your tacos and dishes with a variety of salsas in Mexico and this one is prized for its clean green acidity.
Green salsas are usually made with tomatillos, which are a variety of the deadly nightshade plant family (like aubergines, peppers and tomatoes). They are green and unripe in flavour, and the green tomatoes that grow on our fair shores will do the job brilliantly. This recipe is smashing on so many things – it makes a terrific base for the Green Shakshuka.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
600g green tomatoes
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2-3 fresh green jalapenos, stalks removed and cut in half (seeds or no seeds, depending on your preference)
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
3 tbsp oil
Juice of 3 big juicy limes
1 tsp salt
Very large bunch of coriander, leaves picked
1. Put the green tomatoes, onion, jalapenos and garlic in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, pour in the tomato mixture and cook for 10 minutes, allowing it to reduce, then squeeze in the lime juice. Add the salt, then the coriander. Allow to cook for a further minute, return to the food processorand blitz again to achieve a really smooth sauce. Serve at room temperature.
■ The salsa will keep for up to 2-3 days in the fridge.
I developed this recipe in the early days of Filth, with Rosemary Ferguson. Our mission was to get extra nutrition into everyday dishes. We wanted to make a healthy breakfast, both loved shakshuka and huevos rancheros, and thought we could somehow merge them. That week, I’d made a huge vat of green tomato salsa that ended up being the base of this dish.
We fried some cumin seeds in oil then added the salsa, before blending it with fresh spinach to an even more nutritious, virtually Hulk-green sauce, got some roasted green peppers into the dish and baked the eggs in this sauce instead of the usual red one.
We finished it with a combination of Middle Eastern and Mexican toppings and served it with flatbreads or grilled Turkish breads with some good extra-virgin olive oil.
It’s a superb healthy weekend brunch dish and pretty fancy-pants in the impressiveness stakes, too.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
400g green tomato salsa (see above)
1 tsp ground coriander
85g fresh spinach, washed, wilted in a pan for a minute and drained
80g green peppers, roasted and sliced
4 free-range eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good handful of coriander leaves, chopped
A few dill fronds
A few mint leaves, shredded
2 tbsp sour cream
300g Queso Fresco
3 tbsp toasted mixed seeds mixed with ½ tsp za’atar
Freshly made flatbreads or grilled Turkish bread
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
You will need 2 individual 22-25cm baking or gratin dishes.
1. Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/
Gas Mark 9.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the cumin seeds and fry for a minute or two until toasted. Add the green tomato salsa, coriander and spinach and cook for a minute. Season with salt and pepper if necessary, then remove from the heat and blitz until smooth.
3. Divide the blitzed sauce between two individual (22-25cm) ovenproof baking or gratin dishes. Split the green peppers between the two dishes, then simply make two little holes in the top of the sauce in each dish and break an egg into each hole. Season each
egg with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the egg whites are cooked through, but the eggs still have runny yolks.
4. Remove from the oven and top the two shakshukas with the chopped coriander, dill, mint, sour cream, Queso Fresco and seeds, and serve with toasted or warmed bread, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
Clams are my favourite food. Some people can sit and eat ridiculous volumes of oysters but I feel the same about clams.
Winey, garlicky clams with buttery bread to mop up the juices in a hot country like Spain is one of the biggest eating pleasures of all.
But in Italy you get to have it with spaghetti.
I use four techniques to ensure maximum flavour.
First, I open the clams early in too much wine, second, I use waaaaay too much garlic (trust me), third, I don’t cook the pasta fully, so it finishes cooking in the sauce, and fourth, I use the starchy pasta water to emulsify the sauce.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
1kg clams, cleaned and rinsed for about 10 minutes in cold water
300ml white wine
80ml olive oil
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
2 dried chillies, crushed
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
Bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Juice of lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pan of heavily salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for a minute or two less than the suggested time on the packet so it’s al dente. Get the clams on while the spaghetti is cooking and when you drain the pasta, be sure to save 2-3 ladles of the cooking water for later.
2. Put a large, dry saucepan over a high heat and let it get really hot. Throw in the clams with the wine and quickly cover to steam the clams for 1-2 minutes, until they have opened. Strain the clams through a sieve (discarding any that remain closed, just as you do with mussels), reserving the liquid in a bowl underneath. Pick the clam meat out of about 80 per cent of the shells, and save the other 20 per cent to serve.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat, add the sliced garlic and crushed chillies and fry for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a few minutes until they start to break down into the oil. Now pour in the winey clam stock, being careful not to pour in the last bit at the bottom as this can often be a bit gritty. Whack the heat right up and allow it to reduce to a soupy sauce, then add the spaghetti, the reserved pasta cooking water, the picked clams and the clams still in their shells.
Stir through the parsley and lemon juice and allow the whole lot to boil for 1-2 minutes to finish cooking the pasta and allow it to absorb the sauce. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and serve immediately.
- Restore by Gizzi Erskine is out on November 26 (£25, HQ).