Friday, 27 August 2010

Buttery Golden Northern Cornbread

Thicker, lighter and a little sweeter than its traditional Southern counterpart (where adding flour and sugar is considered blasphemous), this super easy Northern cornbread recipe produces a moist and hearty accompaniment to American soul food classics like barbecued meat, chilli con carne, hot soups and jambalaya.

If your preference is for the richer Southern version, use all cornmeal instead of flour and bake in a well-greased cast iron skillet- only bacon fat will do if you want to be REALLY authentic. For a deeper flavour try toasting the cornmeal before using or sprinkling cornmeal on the pan for a crunchier crust.

Buttery Golden Northern Cornbread
Makes one 12" x 9" pan

Combine all in a large bowl:
100g butter, melted then cooled
2 eggs, beaten
480ml milk

Fold in:
375g plain flour
225g finely ground cornmeal/polenta
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
100g sugar (or for a bit of variety try some honey or maple syrup)

Stir in a small tin of sweetcorn kernels or whatever else you want- jalapeno peppers, chillies, onions, cheese, fried bacon bits, some coarse cornmeal for texture, sage, roasted tomatoes...

Grease the pan with butter (or line with baking paper if you prefer) and pour the batter in. Bake for 20 mins at 200 C (180C fan-assisted) or until golden and springy.

Allow to cool a bit before cutting. If having with a barbecue, pop briefly on the grill and toast each side until browned before eating. Serve warm with slatherings of extra butter.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Rich Chicken and Bacon Cacciatore with Buttered Couscous

By no means an authentic version of the Italian classic (of which a million variations exist anyway), this impromptu version of pollo alla cacciatore or "Hunter's chicken" was something I quickly whipped up using leftover ingredients for a warming lunch earlier today.

Chopped bacon gives the rich tomato gravy an added intensity and smoky flavour that really elevates it in my opinion- feel free to go the more traditional route with wine, olives, mushrooms and peppers, or splash in some balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce if desired.

Serve with lots of gravy alongside buttered couscous (recipe below-by far the fastest easiest thing to cook ever!), rice, rustic bread or pasta.

Rich Chicken and Bacon Cacciatore
Serves 2-3

Cut up about 250g cooking bacon (or use pancetta/any other fatty bacon you prefer) into small cubes. Dry fry without oil (both the bacon and chicken will be oily enough) over high heat in a large pot, stirring constantly until the fat starts to render and the cubes begin to go golden.

Turn the heat down to medium and add:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large cooking onion, cut into thin strips
A few bay leaves

Stir and allow to cook in the bacon fat (sinful I know!) until fragrant. Don't worry if at this point things stick to the pan- the addition of chopped tomatoes and water later will deglaze everything nicely.

Throw in 1 kg skin-on chicken thighs/ drumsticks and brown for about 5 mins on both sides, then add:

1 can (400ml) peeled plum tomatoes (bash them a bit to break up the whole pieces). If preferred, regular chopped tomatoes or sieved tomato passata works great too
1 tbsp tomato puree (I used double concentrated)
A bit of water
Good sprinkle of dried mixed herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sliced carrots (or whatever vegetables/beans you desire)

Cover and simmer on low heat, stirring occassionally for 15-20 mins or until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is thickened to a deep rich red.

Serve hot with plenty of gravy alongside buttered couscous (below) or your carb of choice :)

Buttered Couscous with Herbs and Raisins
Serves 2-3

Stir together in a small pot:
About 150g dried couscous (roughly 50-80g per person)
Sprinkling of dried mixed herbs
1 bay leaf
Small handful of raisins
Salt and pepper

Pour in enough boiling water to cover the entire mixture (water level should be about 1 cm above the surface of the couscous), then cover and leave to stand for about 3 mins until all liquid is absorbed.

Add a knob of butter (which will melt in nicely as you stir) and fluff up the couscous grains with a fork. Done!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Catering for Student Film "Y3llow"

SAM TAN'S KITCHEN HAS MOVED! Please visit the new website/online store at for all catering enquiries. You can also follow Sam on InstagramFacebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Sam Tan's Kitchen caters home-cooked food made from scratch for just about anything, from intimate romantic dinners to low-budget film shoots to canapĂ©-style receptions. If you are a filmmaker looking to inspire your crew through their stomachs, please get in touch at (and drop a comment here in cast it goes to Spam). 

A well-fed film crew is a happy, efficient, productive film crew. Whilst most student, indie and low-budget films don't provide anything more than a measly sandwich to see you through your 12-hour day, my belief is that good food provides good motivation for good work, particularly when the crew are working on an expenses-only or low-paid basis.

Thank you to Yee Sien from the University of Westminster for hiring me to feed her cast and crew throughout the 5 days that she shot her graduation short "Y3llow"- it's been a pleasure and I am thrilled that your team found my food a suitable reward for their hard work! :)

Catering on "Y3llow"- The Menu


Buttered herby couscous

Dessert of the day- chunky chocolate brownies

Breakfast (on-the-go):
Egg, bacon and tomato roll
Vegetarian option- Egg and tomato roll
Orange and apple juice

Lunch (packed):
Grilled honey lemon marinated chicken chunks
V option- Roasted butternut squash, courgette and mushrooms
Buttered herby couscous
Crisp leaf salad with dressing

Selection of finger sandwiches (egg mayo, tuna and ham)
Mixed crisps

*Hot tea/coffee, bottled water and mixed biscuits supplied throughout the day


Beef ragu lasagne- forgot to photograph it on the day so here's one made previously!

Hot dessert- bread and butter pudding

Breakfast (hot):
Bakes beans
White and wholemeal toast with butter
Scrambled eggs
Orange and apple juice

Beef ragu lasagne
V option- vegetarian lasagne

Garlic bread
Crisp leaf salad with dressing

Dessert- Hot bread and butter pudding

*Hot tea/coffee and bottled water supplied throughout the day


Crunchy strawberry granola
Baked beans
White and wholemeal toast with butter
Buttered hot cross buns
Egg and tomato baps

Chicken and bacon casserole with olive oil, potatoes and mushrooms
V option- Quorn sausage casserole with courgettes, potatoes and mushrooms

Bruschetta salad (grilled bread chunks, tomato salsa and tender lettuce)
Mixed crisps

Dessert- Sponge cake

Cheeseburgers with tomato and lettuce
V option- Quorn cheeseburgers with tomato and lettuce
Finger sandwiches
Mixed crisps

*Hot tea/coffee, bottled water and mixed biscuits supplied throughout the day

Crunchy strawberry granola
Baked beans
White and wholemeal toast with butter
Orange and apple juice


Lincolnshire sausage tomato stew with bacon and mushroom
V option- Quorn sausage tomato stew with onions and mushroom

Buttered herb couscous with raisins
Mixed crisps

Mini scones with strawberry jam and vanilla cream
Selection of finger sandwiches- egg mayo, tuna sweetcorn and ham
Mixed crisps

*Hot tea/coffee, bottled water and Coke supplied throughout the day

Breakfast (on-the-go):
Egg mayo and bacon toasted rolls
V option- egg mayo with shredded carrot toasted roll

Lunch (on-the-go):

Sandwiches with shredded ham and spring onion, egg mayo with bacon bits, tomato, lettuce and cucumber
V option- Sandwich with sliced Quorn sausage, egg mayo, tomato, lettuce and cucumber
Shredded ham and spring onion salad filling

The sandwich assembly line

Mini pizza toasts with roasted pepper, tomato puree and cheese
Iced finger buns
Mixed crisps

*Hot tea/coffee and bottled water supplied throughout the day

The director eating her lunch- thanks Yee Sien!:)