The way I cook is the way I think: lots of things are happening at once. My inspiration comes mostly from people and travel – I love to learn about the old ways in order to create something new. The pork dish here has its roots in Greek tradition, reminiscent of souvlaki, but elevated by artichokes and fenugreek for a Turkish edge. The apple fritters, meanwhile, draw on the sweet, deep-fried puffs I grew up on, but using apple for a flavour of the British autumn.
Grilled pork fillet with spicy feta, artichoke and fenugreek pot (pictured above)
I could eat artichokes every day, especially alongside warm, sweet, fenugreek-spiced feta, peppers and tomatoes to complement some grilled pork.
Prep 30 min
Rest 1 hr 10 min
Cook 45 min
1 pork fillet (about 400g)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp smoked paprika
For the spicy feta pot
3 large globe artichokes (about 400g each)
Juice of ½ lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
250g red peppers, cut into ½cm strips
300g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, very finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground fenugreek
150ml white wine
Chopped parsley, to serve
Rub the spices into the pork fillet, transfer to the fridge and leave to rest for an hour. Prepare the artichokes by cutting off and discarding the tough stems and any outer or green leaves. When you reach the light, tender leaves, stop. Cut the artichokes in half lengthways and pull away the inedible purple leaves and hairy parts inside: you’ll be left with the tender heart and pale leaves. Cut each half-artichoke lengthways into four, put in a bowl of water with the lemon juice and set aside.
Put a saucepan over a medium heat, add the oil and garlic, and cook, stirring, until the garlic turns golden. Add the peppers, cook until they soften, then add the tomatoes, chilli, oregano, fenugreek, drained artichokes and wine to the pot, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, by which time the sauce should have come together and the artichokes should be tender. Add the feta, give everything a final stir, turn off the heat and season to taste.
If you have a charcoal grill, cook the pork fillet over a medium heat (without too much rotation, which will cause it to lose its juices). I like mine slightly pink in the middle and evenly charred on the outside – but make sure charred areas don’t become burnt. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing. If you are using an oven grill, put a rack in the middle of the oven (to avoid burning the pork on the outside, while undercooking in the middle). Lay the fillet on an oven tray lined with baking paper and cook for 10-15 minutes, rotating it a few times, for an even char. It should feel firm when touched, with a slight bounceback. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Spoon some of the feta mix on to a plate and lay the sliced pork on top. Dress with good olive oil and parsley, and serve with fresh bread and lemon wedges.
Apple fritters with thyme honey
Light and crisp with a soft, apple centre, these make a delectable breakfast snack. They are a bit like the loukoumades – deep-fried, airy dough drenched in syrup – from my hometown of Chania, Crete.
Prep 10 min
Rest 30 min
Cook 15 min
2 large, sharp apples (about 400g), peeled, cored and cut into ½cm wedges
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Juice of ½ lemon
200g plain flour (organic for preference)
50g caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
About 500ml vegetable oil, for frying
2 tbsp thyme honey, or other good-quality honey
Put the apple wedges in a bowl, toss with the cinnamon and lemon juice, and set aside.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and add enough lukewarm water to make a very thick batter – 200ml is usually about the right amount, but start with less and add it gradually (the type of flour you use will determine the amount of water you need). Whisk for a couple of minutes, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Put the oil in a medium saucepan, making sure it does not come more than halfway up the sides. Test the oil is hot enough for frying by dropping in a small bit of batter – if it bubbles and rises to the surface quickly, the oil is ready.
Dip a few apple wedges into the batter, coating them all over, then carefully drop into the hot oil. Once they are golden and floating, lift out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel, to absorb the excess oil. You will need to cook the apples in batches, because you want them to move freely in the oil and not stick to each other – this will ensure they are golden all over. Repeat until you have used all the wedges.
Plate up, drizzle with as much or as little honey as you like, and eat immediately.