About Cooking At Zero Degrees

This is a blog (it also works on an ipad and now has a Facebook page) about what we eat at home. Starters, mains, sauces, side dishes, cocktails and links to local shops. It’s all here. Food is fun, it should be fun to make and fun to eat. For some people making a meal is a chore. If it is then don’t do it; but please, it’s better to eat something, anything, that you make at home from scratch, because prepared, packaged supermarket dinners and food have about as much flavour as the plastic or cardboard package they come in. Food cultivation and husbandry is not just a moral argument. Eggs that don’t come from battery hens do taste better, cattle properly reared have more flavour - and just think about it: at its most simple, if they’re not being pumped full of chemicals then you’re not being pumped full of chemicals. How good is that? If you can buy local, use your neighbourhood shops, you will miss them when they are gone. Most of all, have fun making a meal of it! Oh, and why at zero degrees? Because that’s where we live – in Greenwich, London.

Lemon Sole with Oyster Sauce


Ok, this really is something you do on a Saturday or when you have the time. I did this midweek, after work. It was a stretch then for an evening dinner, but it was sunny and I wanted to try it. In the original recipe at Great British Chefs (do go to the site it really is wonderful) it does take a few days, for mine (given the time) it was a bit quicker as is the method set out below.

Whatever, the result was lovely. The saltiness of the oysters and cucumber sauce lifts a lovely piece of fish to a delicate place. It really is worth the effort.



  • lemon sole fillets, large
  • 200ml of vegetable oil
  • 40g of tarragon
  • large leeks
  • cucumber, roughly chopped
  • shallot, roughly chopped
  • 50g of horseradish cream
  • 50ml of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of caster sugar
  • egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • oysters, shucked
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 300ml of vegetable oil
  • 10 spring onions
  • 120g of flour
  • 120g of Panko breadcrumbs
  • oil, for deep-frying
  • salt



  1. Tarragon Sauce: The day before (but I actually did it on the day) add the tarragon and oil to a blender and blitz until smooth. Transfer the oil to a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin or a coffee filter. Set over a container to collect the oil that drips through and leave in the fridge overnight – the oil should be bright green and crystal clear.
  2. Slice the leeks into rounds and blanch in salted boiling water for a few minutes. Refresh in iced water.
  3. To make the oyster sauce: add the cucumber, shallots, horseradish cream, vinegar and sugar to a blender. Blitz until smooth for 3 minutes. Tip the liquid into a fine sieve and allow to strain through to remove the pulp. Set the strained liquid aside.
  4. Add the egg yolks, lemon juice and oysters to a blender and blitz until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream to emulsify
  5. Scrape down the sides of the blender. Turn on the blender again and slowly add back the cucumber stock until you reach the desired consistency and flavour.
  6. Blanch the spring onions in salted boiling water then refresh in iced water. Drain and set aside.
  7. Preheat a deep-fryer to 190°C. Dip each oyster first in the flour, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. Fry in the hot oil for 2 minutes until crisp and golden, then drain on kitchen paper and season with salt.
  8. Heat a griddle pan, brush the blanched spring onions with oil and cook until lightly charred.
  9. To cook the lemon sole: brush each fillet with a little oil, season with salt and grill under a hot grill for around 2 minutes, until just cooked through.
  10. To serve: sit the slices of leek in the centre of each plate. Pour the sauce around the leeks and drizzle over the tarragon oil. Place a lemon sole fillet on top of the leeks, arrange the spring onion on the plate and top with a crispy oyster. Serve immediately

Tarte Au Citron


I wanted a pudding. I wanted something sharp rather than sweet – but then other people become involved and they want sweet over sharp, and so it goes on. There is a balance to be struck and it’s with a lovely tarte au citron. My local farmers shop has some wonderfully large, ripe and juicy lemons that were crying out for use and so they came to the rescue. Here it is, a tart for the close of summer; one to use before the darker night and heavier puddings of autumn arrive.

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Spiced Christmas Ham

Cooking At Zero Degrees

This is a real festive treat. I was never one for thick cuts of ham, it just didn’t seem right. Then I discovered a Christmas-time recipe that I now make every year; and every year it is the one thing people want more of  and never tire of eating. A boneless mild cure gammon, soaked in the flavours of fennel, anise, coriander and cloves. The whole lot is then glazed in cinnamon and smoked paprika. Not only does it taste wonderful, but the house smells even more of the Christmas cheer. I have put this on now so that you can do it if you want. When mine is done, a picture will follow.

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Not So Traditional Christmas Dundee Cake

dundeeHands up, I don’t like Christmas Cake. I don’t apologise. It seems forced, overly fruity, almond pasted, icing sugared overload. It’s not for me. I am partial to a slice of Dundee cake. The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn’t always come up to what you Christmas cake fiends demand. So there is something to find in the middle. I think this is it – it has the fruit, and some alcoholic richness; but it pushes back the icing for a glaze and blanched almonds (so much better than the paste). It being Christmas time, the cake is fed – with the tipple of your choice –  so that it keeps moist and tastes wonderful with a great glassful of sherry. Nuts, fruit, eggs, alcohol, and in this cake a little mixed spice and cinnamon (hence not so traditional). Don’t complain, it’s not Dundee cake, I know, it’s a Dundee Christmas Cake.

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Hot Smoked Salmon and Couscous


So sometimes something cold, even at this time of year, can be very rewarding. A dish that has about it something of the Mediterranean with the couscous, dill, olive oil and lemon mix  – but that smell and flavour of chunks of smoked salmon just scream out more a summer time plate.  I love this, it easily feeds two very well or four with a few side dishes. You can mix it up – add cucumber, other peppers, pitta bread even – but really you don’t need much on the side, this dish pretty much does it all.

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In Season – October



This is only a guide to seasonal fruit and vegetables generally available.

Of course, many are available all the time because of imports, and some are now grown for most of the year and they are included on these lists. Supporting local farmers and producers is by far the best way of eating good food, and helping local agriculture or fishermen; but the best person to ask what is in season is your greengrocer, fishmonger or butcher.





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Chinese Chicken Curry

There is something wonderful about Chinese chicken curry with rice. I suppose it takes me back to my childhood. Of course I suppose there is nothing authentic about it, but that yellowish creamy sauce, with onions and mushrooms makes it my favourite. You can add what you want to make it vegetarian and substitute the stock for water, personally if I want it veggie I just leave out the chicken. This really is made quicker than waiting for the order to arrive, and it is so simple it can be done after the pub! Feeds two.

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Pie and Mash


I am going through a thing at the moment for food I had as a child (and crave right now). It started when I thought about Chinese chicken curry, and turned very easily to pie and mash. There is something wholesome and deeply fulfilling when you are faced with a pie with a crisp top and suet base, filled with mincemeat. Aside that, comes the mash, and poured over the top the parsley liquor (and a generous amount of vinegar). It is isn’t rocket science, and I can manage to eat two pies even in  the summer. This really works.  Feeds four.

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flatbreadHappily locked away in Cornwall, it’s a wine and ‘pick and lick’ menu at lunchtime. For my contribution at the table it needs something easily made (I am on holiday), and great for dipping or holding food that someone else expertly prepares: in this case spicy chicken, dips, sausages and a varied amount of food that tastes great and makes the lunch. So here was my contribution, a classic Middle Eastern flatbread, with a dough spread with homemade za’atar – herbs and sesame seeds. It really is quick to make with a crusty top with soft dough inside. This makes three breads, or break into smaller amounts if you want more individual sizes.

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