I’m the first just to chuck a few ingredients into a pan for fast midweek meals, but at weekends I like to take time over my cooking and have a bit of fun. The mayo with today’s fried chicken is a case in point: since I found out that the flavourings and emulsifiers in some commercial sauces and mayos inhibit the growth of good gut bacteria, I have been less delighted about my children eating them – even more reason to make my own when I have the time. The cajeta, or Mexican-style toffee sauce, in today’s second recipe takes a while, so make sure you’ve other things to do in the kitchen at the same time – or cheat and buy off-the-shelf dulce de leche.
Chicken karaage tacos with sriracha mayo and radish salad
Karaage is a Japanese take on fried chicken. The crisp, light radish salad makes a healthy, refreshing and pretty side – if you can’t get mooli, use more red radish and some white cabbage instead. Serves four to six.
8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1½ tbsp soy sauce
1 litre vegetable oil, for frying
50g corn flour
35g plain flour
For the salad
1 mooli (winter radish)
10 pink radishes
1 watermelon radish (optional)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
1 small bunch curly-leafed parsley, finely chopped (optional)
For the mayonnaise
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp white-wine vinegar
175ml extra-virgin olive oil
175ml sunflower or groundnut oil
3-4 tbsp sriracha chilli sauce (or your favourite brand)
Tortillas and/or baby gem lettuce leaves
For the mayo, put the egg yolks, garlic, mustard and vinegar in a china or glass bowl (or the bowl of a food processor) and whisk briskly (or turn on the motor). Still whisking, incorporate the oil drop by drop, then slowly graduate to adding it in a thin, steady stream. Once both lots of oil are incorporated, stir in the chilli sauce. If the mayo is too thick, thin it with a tablespoon or two of water. If it splits, whisk a third yolk in a clean bowl, then slowly whisk in the split mayo until it comes together again.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, toss in a bowl with the ginger, garlic and soy, cover and marinate for a few hours, or overnight.
Shortly before you want to eat, cut the mooli into fine ribbons (I use a vegetable peeler); cut the inner core into slivers. Finely slice the radishes – the thinner they are, the lighter the salad, so use a mandoline if you have one. Toss the veg in the lemon juice, zest and parsley, if using.
Fill a deep saucepan with oil and heat to 180C (or until a piece of bread browns in 40 seconds). Sift the flours into a bowl, season generously, then add the chicken in batches and toss to coat. Deep-fry the chicken pieces, again in batches, scooping them out of the hot fat with a slotted spoon once crisp and golden – about six minutes. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen towel, and keep warm while you cook the remaining chicken.
Serve in warmed tortillas or baby gem lettuce leaves with the salad, mayo and lemon wedges.
Banoffee pie with goat’s milk toffee
Thomasina Miers’ banoffee pie with goat’s milk toffee. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
If you want to avoid cow’s milk, use oil in the base and coconut or goats’ yoghurt in the topping.
200g ginger biscuits
75g butter, melted
2 medium bananas
½ lemon, juiced
30-40g 70% solids dark chocolate
150ml double cream
3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
For the cajeta, or toffee
2 litres goat’s milk
450g muscovado sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 tbsp dark rum
First make the cajeta. Put the milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large casserole, bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then simmer briskly for an hour, to reduce. Dissolve the bicarb in a few tablespoons of cold water, then turn down the heat and stir into the pot: the sauce will bubble up furiously, so stir like crazy until it dies down.
Turn up the heat a little and simmer briskly for one to two hours more, stirring occasionally and watching that it doesn’t boil over, until the mix thickens to the consistency of double cream. Turn down the heat, add the rum and continue to reduce, stirring often, until a droplet of the caramel falls intact to the bottom of a glass of cold water. Take off the heat and leave to cool. The toffee will thicken as it cools, so if it gets too thick, thin with a tablespoon or two of water.
Meanwhile, crush the biscuits to a fine crumb with a rolling pin, stir in the melted butter and press into a greased 23cm, loose-bottomed pie or cake tin, making sure it covers the base and comes up the sides. Refrigerate for half an hour, to set.
Once the cajeta has cooled, spread a generous layer over the cake base (you will have lots left over: store the excess in a sterilised jar, and it will keep in the fridge for a few months) and refrigerate again.
To serve, slice the bananas and toss in a teaspoon or two of lemon juice. Arrange the fruit on top of the cajeta and finely grate over half the chocolate. Softly whip the cream, fold in the yoghurt and spread over the bananas. Grate the rest of the chocolate on top and serve.
And for the rest of the week…
The mayonnaise keeps for a fortnight in the fridge, and will transform sandwiches and snacks: I especially like it as a dip for crunchy raw vegetables. Pickle excess radishes by tossing them in equal quantities of sugar and vinegar, then storing them in a clean jar for a few days. Leftover cajeta is sensational on ice-cream, churros and much more.