Cook Something Bold Day

Are you a lover of spice or do you prefer your food mild? With Cook Something Bold Day, you are encouraged to leave your comfort zone, reach out to stranger tides and create something a bit more adventurous for your dinner! If you tend to get stuck in a rut with your meals and use the same old recipes every week then this could be the perfect excuse to get out of bed, get wild in the kitchen and try something new…

Cooking something bold doesn’t have to mean making the most awe-inspiring, ridiculous, affront to the senses you can find (though it is encouraged!). It can be as simple as trying a new spice you have not used before or meat or fish you have never had. Be careful though, as some different spices can be detrimental to sleep and others are an aid for dropping off!

What culinary delights could you try to break the monotony of your usual evening fare? If you’re a meat lover, you may want to start simple and try a cut of meat you may not have tried; why not pork cheeks with barley and fennel risotto? Cooking pork cheeks makes good use of part of the pig that may not otherwise be used, so it’s good to save that going to waste – and it is therefore very cheap to buy! Additionally, fennel is quite an overlooked herb with an anise-like flavour. This different but delicious dish could take the place of your usual Sunday roast or wow your guests at a dinner party! As the pork cheek is marbled with fat, you should not eat this too late in the evening as it is digested slowly and can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Perhaps invite people to your home earlier and suggest to your guests you all take a stroll after dinner to aid digestion? On the flip side, fennel is actually very beneficial to the sleep process, so make sure you load up on this helpful herb rather than helping yourself to seconds of pork.

If you are a soup lover and find it a wonderful way of getting your veggie count in, the popular Eastern European dish borscht is something you shouldn’t miss! Made from the humble beetroot (not pickled), this hearty soup has a really punchy flavour and looks fantastic. With its deep red colour, it is something to behold, made from very cheap ingredients and served with slices of tender beef, sour cream and fresh dill. This age-old dish is sure to make its mark on your taste buds and with a low content of fat and carbohydrates, this is probably the best meal to eat late in the day as it should not hinder your drifting off.

Those of you with a taste for all things spicy may already be more familiar with more exotic dishes, so we have been searching hard to find something interesting for you to try. Many people are not hugely aware of Korean food as yet but it is certainly making its way over to us and impressing us at every turn. The recipe we have for you is a slightly odd creation called tteokbokki. This interesting and explosive dish is very popular street food in Korea. With just a handful of ingredients (most easy to find) this meal is very easy to make. Hopefully you will be up to the challenge and will find a new favourite to go with a beer or a small glass of Soju. Be aware, these rice cakes are going to be like nothing you’ve ever had before! While chilli has a great effect on your metabolism, it may not be great to eat just before bed as – particularly if you’re not used to it – it has a chance of giving you heartburn or possibly indigestion, which may keep you up.

Perhaps you have a sweet tooth and really want to show off? The humble jelly could be your answer! It has become increasingly popular, particularly in Asia, for people to make extravagant jelly-layered marvels. Because of the simple nature of the jelly, the only issue you have to face is in the actual cooking time. It can take some time because of the setting, but the end result really pays off so you can make a splash with your starring dessert. Be careful though, as this will be a sweet dish made from not only the jelly and flavourings but you may also be adding fruit, nuts or perhaps ice cream to this. Be mindful of when you will be serving your dessert as eating sugar before bedtime can cause you to have problems with all that extra energy! Sugar that is not burnt off will also then sit idle and be absorbed by the body where it will then turn into fat.

So whatever you decide to choose to wow your friends or family with this ‘Cook Something Bold Day’, make sure it doesn’t keep you up all night – and let us know what you are trying to make!

Sleep well!


Borscht: 

1tbsp vegetable oil or 15g (½oz) butter
3 medium-sized beetroot (about 450g/1lb, unpeeled weight), diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 large waxy potato, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ltr (2¾pt) stock of your choice (most traditional is beef or fish)
½ a green cabbage, finely shredded
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 2tbsp canned tomatoes
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
300g (10½oz) sirloin steak (or meat/meat substitute of your choice)
Soured cream or crème fraîche (optional)
1tbsp fresh dill

  • Heat your oil/butter in a large saucepan and add the beetroot, celery, carrot, onion, potato and garlic. Sauté for a couple of minutes until everything is well mixed and covered in fat.
  • Add the stock and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for around 15 minutes then add the cabbage and tomatoes and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
  • Taste and add any extra seasoning if necessary.
  • Trim the fat from the steak and cook it on a smoking griddle pan for just a couple of minutes, then let it rest before slicing it thinly and adding the juices to the soup.
  • Divide the steak strips between the bowls and add the soup on the top.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill on each bowl.

Tteokbokki (Hot and spicy rice cakes): 

1 pound of cylinder shaped rice cake, bought or homemade. (Use a little more if you’re not adding hard boiled eggs and fish cakes)
4 cups of water
7 large size dried anchovies, with heads and innards removed
6 x 8 inch pieces of dried kelp
⅓ cup hot pepper paste (Gochujang)
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
3 spring onions, cut into 3 inch long pieces
2 hard boiled eggs, shelled (optional)
½ pound fish cakes (optional)

  • Add the water, anchovies and kelp to a shallow pot or pan.
    Boil for 15 minutes over a medium high heat (lid not required).
  • Combine hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, and sugar in a small bowl.
  • Remove the anchovies and kelp from the pot (the stock should have reduced down to about 2 ½ cups) and add the rice cake, chilli mixture, spring onion and the fish cakes and hard boiled eggs (if using).
  • Stir gently when it starts to boil and keep stirring until the rice cake softens and the sauce thickens and looks shiny, which should take about 10 -15 minutes.
  • If the rice cake is not soft enough, add more water and continue stirring until they are soft (this will take less time if homemade rice cakes are used).
  • If you use frozen rice cakes, thaw them out and soak in cold water to soften before cooking.
  • Remove from the heat and serve piping hot

Pork cheeks and fennel risotto:

500-600g pork cheeks, cut into 4-5cm chunks or left whole if small
60g butter
1tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, peeled, halved and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g flour, plus some for dusting
500ml dry cider or white wine
1ltr chicken stock
½ bulb of fennel simmered gently until tender in 1ltr of chicken stock (reserve the chicken stock)
½tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil

½ bulb of fennel, finely diced
80g butter
60g pearl barley, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
The chicken stock from the cooked fennel

  • Season and lightly dust the pork cheeks with flour
  • Heat 1tbsp of oil in a large frying pan and brown the cheeks on all sides for a few minutes and set them aside for later.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook until soft (around 2-3 minutes)
  • Add the flour and cook on low for around a minute, then gradually add the cider/wine and stock.
  • Bring to the boil and add the pork cheeks, add further seasoning and simmer until the cheeks are tender (about 1-1½ hours)
  • While the meat is cooking, melt some butter in a large saucepan and cook the fennel gently for a few minutes (make sure they do not brown). Stir in the pearl barley and gradually add the stock from the cooking of the fennel. Stir every now and again until the barley is cooked (around 20 minutes). Add more seasoning and remove from heat then add the rest of the butter.
  • While you are cooking the risotto cut the fennel into 4 wedges and fry on both sides until lightly coloured.
  • The sauce at this stage should have reduced (if it hasn’t, just remove the cheeks and simmer until it has and return the cheeks).
  • Make sure everything is heated through (add more stock to the risotto if needed) and spoon the risotto onto warmed plates, placing the cheeks, fennel and sauce into the centre. 

Layered Jelly Dessert: 

For the coconut layers:
10g Agar Agar Powder (found in all good asian supermarkets, you can also use alsa gulaman and just cook as per the recipe below)
800ml Water
200g Sugar
200g Coconut Milk
2 Pandan Leaves

For the coloured layers:
10g Agar Agar Powder
1L Water
200g Sugar
2 Pandan Leaves or a few drops pandan extract
Food Colourings , violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red

  • Coconut layer: Place water, sugar, pandan leaves and agar agar powder in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat off and stir in coconut milk. Remove pandan leaves. Set aside to cool slightly (but not set).
  • Coloured layers: Repeat instructions the same as the coconut layer (aside from the addition of the coconut milk). Set aside to cool a little, again without setting and separate into 6 small cups, adding the different food colourings into each cup.
  • Spoon the jelly into cups, alternating between the coloured and the coconut layers. Wait for each layer to set enough to support the next before adding the following layer.
  • Chill and serve.
  • Note: You can use ordinary jelly instead of the agar agar if you prefer, using any different colours/flavours you would like.
Rosie Laughton-Paxton

Rosie Laughton-Paxton

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