Nice buns

Like most things in life, burgers and sliders come in all shapes and sizes. They can be large, small, round, sausage shaped, wrapped in a tortilla or a flatbread. They can be made up of meat, fish or veggies, rice, lentils or pulses. What they do all have in common though is some sort of bread based food stuff in which we can encase them. This allows us to eat them hot, in our hands, without getting burnt or overly messy (a little mess when eating a burger, is in my opinion, a very good reason to eat one).

That aside they really can be flavoured with just about anything you like. Here are some of my favourite combinations all stuffed into some sort of bun.

Hawaiian teriyaki pork burger with pineapple

Hawiian teriyaki pork burger copy 2.jpg

Serves: 4

Hawaiian food takes its inspiration from many different cuisines including Japanese, Mexican and American and these flavours combine beautifully in this colourful burger.

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon sake

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tsp caster sugar

15g butter

1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves

500g pork mince

4 sesame seed burger rolls

50g salad leaves

Pineapple salsa

1 small pineapple

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon agave syrup

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Avocado mayonnaise

1 avocado, peeled and stoned

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon wasabi paste

juice ½ lime

salt and pepper

Make the burgers. Place the soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes until reduced by half and sticky. Let cool. Combine the pork mince with 11/2 tablespoons of the soy mixture and work together to form a sticky mixture. Shape into 4 patties, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the pineapple. Peel the skin from the pineapple and cut into 5mm thick slices and using a small pastry cutter cut out the center core. Combine the oil, the agave syrup and a pinch salt and brush over the pineapple rings. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the rings for 2 minutes each side until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and add the vinegar and cinnamon, stir well and set aside.

Make the avocado mayonnaise. Dice the avocado flesh and place in a blender with the mayonnaise, wasabi and lime juice and puree until really smooth. Season to taste.

Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Brush the patties with a little oil and griddle for 5 minutes each side until charred and cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the burgers, lettuce, pineapple rings, avocado mayonnaise and the remaining teriyaki sauce mixture, warming it through again, if necessary.

Malaysian prawn sambal sliders

Malaysian prawn slider copy 2.jpg

Serves: 4

Malaysian sambals, or sauces are a blend of Asian and Indian flavours and it is the turmeric that gives this one its distinctive colour and flavour. With the charred limes and a hint of lime, these sambals are delicious.

16 large raw prawns

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 lime

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

8 mini brioche rolls

50g Asian salad leaves

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

a few coriander leaves


2 large shallots, chopped

2 Thai red chillies, seeded and chopped

2 large garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons coconut cream

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 large tomato, diced

salt and pepper

16 bamboo skewers

Soak the bamboo skewers for 20 minutes in cold water. Drain and pat dry.

Make the sambal. Place the shallots, chillies, garlic, turmeric and a pinch salt in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of water and blend until smooth. Heat the oil in a small wok or frying pan and gently fry the paste for 5 minutes over a very low heat until fragrant. Stir in the coconut cream, tamarind paste, soy sauce and sugar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute and then add the tomato. Simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Leave to cool.

Peel the prawns and pull out the intestinal tract. Wash and dry well. Place in a shallow dish and add the oil, lime zest, sugar and salt. Thread the prawns lengthways onto the bamboo skewers to keep them as flat as you can and marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and cook the prawns for 1-2 minutes each side until charred and cook through. Remove from the heat and dress with the lime juice. Rest for 3 minutes.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the salad leaves, sambal, prawns, mayonnaise and coriander.

Super greens zucchini sliders whipped feta and kale crisps

Super greens zucchini sliders copy 2.jpg

Makes: 8

Lovely vibrant green sliders served with crispy kale chips, perfect for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. You will need thick curly kale for the chips as it is more robust than baby kale leaves.

2 zucchini (about 500g)

1 lemon

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 small poppy seed rolls

Kale crisps

100g kale, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Rocket pesto

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

60g rocket leaves

1 garlic clove, chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Whipped feta

100g feta

25g creme fraiche

Trim the zucchini and cut lengthways into 3mm thick slices. Grate the lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Add the oil and some salt and pepper. Place the zucchini slices in a shallow dish, pour over the dressing and stir well to coat. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Make kale crisps. Preheat the oven to 150c/300f/gas mark 3 and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Shred the kale into bite size pieces, discarding the thick stalk and place in a bowl, combine with the oil and caress until the leaves are well coated. Scatter over the prepared tray and roast for 18-20 minutes until crisp. Season with salt and pepper and scatter with the sesame seeds.

Make pesto. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden. Cool and place in a food processor with the rocket, garlic, oil and a little salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Make the whipped feta. Place the ingredients in a blender and puree until really smooth.

To serve, heat a griddle pan until hot and cook the zucchini slices for 2-3 minutes each side until charred and tender. Cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill the rolls with the zucchini slices, whipped feta, pesto and some of the kale crisps. Serve with the remaining kale crisps on the side.

 Vietnamese sesame tofu banh mi burger with pickled vegetables

jpeg 1.jpg

Serves: 4

The tofu is marinated in a char sui sauce before being grilled and served in rolls with pickled vegetables, chillies, salad leaves and fresh herbs making this a delicious veggie alternative to the classic Vietnamese BBQ pork rolls, or ban mi.

300g firm tofu

80ml hoisin sauce

4 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons Shoaxing wine

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

1 French baguette

50g salad leaves

2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds

a few fresh coriander, mint and basil leaves

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

Pickled vegetables

1 small carrot

½ cucumber

½ small red onion

50ml rice wine vinegar

50g caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon salt

a few sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

Make the pickled vegetables. Thinly slice the carrot lengthways and then cut into long thin strips. Deseed and cut the cucumber into long thin strips. Thinly slice the onion and combine the vegetables in a bowl. Place the vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and then pour over the vegetables. Stir well and set aside until cold. 

Cut the tofu into 8 thick slices and place in a bowl. Combine the hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil and Chinese 5 spice. Pour over the tofu, turning to coat thoroughly and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and fry the marinated tofu slices in batches for 2 minutes each side until charred.

To serve, cut the baguette into 10cm lengths and then cut each one almost in half. Fill each one with the salad leaves, fresh herbs, fried tofu and pickles and drizzle over the mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce. Top with the sesame seeds.

Chinese crispy duck sliders with hoisin sauce and spring onions

jpeg 2.jpg

Makes: 8

What could be more delicious than peking duck burgers! These are lovely especially with the brioche rolls as an alternative to Chinese steamed buns - although you could substitute with boa buns if you want.

2 x 450g duck leg confit, at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons hoisin sauce, plus extra to serve

1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

50g plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

75g dried breadcrumbs

4 bunch spring onions

1 small cucumber (½ large)

8 oval or round brioche rolls

sunflower oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5 and line a tray with baking paper. Set 1 tablespoon of fat from the duck confit aside and reserve for later, discard the remaining fat. Place the legs in the prepared tin. Combine the honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce in a bowl and add ¼ tsp salt. Brush all over the legs and roast for 15 minutes, brushing with the glaze in the pan halfway through until golden. Let cool.

Roughly tear the skin and flesh into small pieces and place in a food processor with the reserved fat and the Chinese 5 spice, a little salt and pepper and pulse briefly until the mixture just comes together.

Divide the duck mixture into 8 small patties and dip each one into the flour, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs, turning over until evenly coated with crumbs. Chill for 30 minutes.

Heat about 2 cm sunflower oil in a large frying pan and fry the patties in batches for 2 minutes each side until golden. Transfer to a clean baking tray and bake for a further 5 minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile, cut the spring onions into 5cm lengths and then into thin strips. Deseed and cut the cucumber into similar size batons.

To serve, cut the brioche rolls in half and toast the cut sides, fill with the duck fritters, spring onions, cucumber and some extra hoisin sauce.

Sticky sweet chilli halloumi sliders with crispy onions

Sticky sweet chilli halloumi copy 2.jpg

Serves: 4

I didn’t think haloumi could get any better but adding a little sweet chilli jam is a knock out. You can temper the heat of the chilli sauce by using large mild chillies if preferred.

250g halloumi

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 small wholemeal baps

50g rocket leaves

8 baby tomatoes, halved

Sweet chilli jam

6 large red chillies, seeded and chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon grated root ginger

1 teaspoon salt

100ml rice wine vinegar

100ml granulated sugar

Onion rings

125g plain flour

30g cornflour

250ml sparkling water

1 onion, sliced

Sunflower oil, for deep frying

Heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Make the sweet chilli jam. Place the chillies, garlic, ginger and salt in a food processor, blend to a rough paste and transfer to a saucepan. Add the vinegar and sugar, bring to the boil and simmer gently, partially covered for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes a quite thick and sticky. Cool completely, bottle and store in the ‘fridge. Use as required.

Make onion rings. Sift the flours into a bowl, add the salt and then gradually whisk in the water to make a smooth batter. Let sit for 10 minutes. Fill a wok or old saucepan with 5cm sunflower oil and heat until a cube of bread, added to the pan crisps immediately. Whisk the batter again and dip the onion rings in a few at a time and deep fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden. Keep warm in the oven while cooking the haloumi.

Cut the halloumi into 3 mm thick slice. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat and fry the halloumi slices for 30 seconds each side until starting to brown. Brush with a little of the chilli jam and cook for a further 30 seconds each side until golden and sticky.

Cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the haloumi, rocket, tomato halves and the crispy onions and serve with a little extra chilli jam.

Aubergine sliders with tahini sauce

Aubergine sliders copy 2.jpg

Serves: 4

Lovely rich flavours combine in this Middle Eastern-style burger with preserved lemon, pomegranate, tahini and ras al hanout - a classic spice mix.

100g semi-dried tomatoes, sliced

½ preserved lemon, flesh discarded and skin diced

4 tablespoons pine nuts (35g)

4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (50g)

4 tablespoons parsley leaves

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 large aubergine (about 450g)

1 teaspoon ras al hanout

8 small ciabatta rolls

50g salad leaves

salt and pepper

Tahini sauce

100g Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons tahini paste

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine the semi-dried tomatoes, preserved lemon, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the honey and some salt and pepper. In a bowl and set aside.

Cut the aubergine width-ways into 8 thick slices. Combine 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil with the ras al hanout and some salt and pepper and brush over the slices. Heat a griddle pan until hot and griddle the aubergine for 4-5 minutes each side until well charred and softened.

Meanwhile, beat together the yogurt, tahini, garlic and lemon juice and season to taste.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with the aubergine slices, tomato mixture, tahini yogurt and salad leaves.

Japanese salmon katsu sliders

Japanese salmon katsu sliders copy 2.jpg

Serves: 4

Small salmon patties coated in breadcrumbs and serve with a katsu sauce make really tasty fish sliders. Add some wasabi for optional heat!

1 teaspoon sunflower oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated root ginger

400g skinless salmon fillets

2 teaspoons miso paste

50g panko crumbs

8 mixed mini rolls

50g salad leaves

3 tablespoons pickled ginger

a little wasabi paste (optional)

salt and pepper

Katsu sauce

4 tablespoons tomato ketchup

2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

4 teaspoons caster sugar

sunflower oil, for cooking

Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Heat the sunflower oil and sesame oil in frying pan and gently fry the shallots and ginger for 5 minutes until soft. Let cool. Combine 300g of the salmon with the shallot mixture, miso paste, a little salt and pepper and puree in a food processor until fairly smooth. Finely dice the remaining salmon and stir through the minced mixture. Shape the mixture into 8 small patties and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the katsu sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

Place the panko crumbs in a shallow bowl and dip in the patties, pressing the crumbs over the surface to completely coat them.

Heat 2 cm of sunflower oil in a large frying pan and cook the patties for 1 minute each side over a medium heat. Transfer to the prepared tray and bake for 3 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill with burgers, salad leaves, pickled ginger, wasabi (if using) and katsu sauce.

© Recipes Louise Pickford

© Photographs Ian Wallace & Ryland, Peters & Small Publishers




















A Very Spanish Cook Club

Saturday's Spanish cook club was a great success, where we cooked up some really interesting dishes including this amazing looking Arroz Negro (black rice) .


This unctuous looking rice dish originally from Valencia and the Catalan region of Spain is made with cuttlefish and their black ink. Although made in a similar manner to paella, it isn't classified as such and tends to be wetter and more creamy than Spain's most famous rice dish. I for one prefer the texture as it quite closely resembles an Italian risotto (well to me anyway). 

The inky black colour can be off putting to some  - in fact one of my students remarked "I think it would taste even better if it was white" although it is this rather unusual colour that I find so attractive and enticing. 

Arroz Negro

Serves: 2

You can use either squid (calamari) or cuttlefish for this recipe and ask your fishmonger for the small packets of prepared squid ink. You will need 2 small packs or 1 heaped teaspoon. Double the quantities, as required, for more people – this recipe serves 2.

350 g prepared small squid or cuttlefish (you can use the pre-cleaned squid)

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 small red pepper, seeded and diced

1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoons saffron strands, ground (see page 00 - introduction)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons squid ink

500 ml hot fish or chicken stock *

150 g Bomba, Calasperra or Arborio rice

salt and pepper

Roughly chop the prepared squid. Heat the oil in a 25 cm frying pan or shallow flameproof casserole and quickly stir-fry the squid for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add the garlic and pepper to the pan with a little salt and fry gently for 10 minutes until softened. Add the tomato, paprika, saffron and parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes until the mixture is quite dry.

Place the squid ink in a bowl and stir in a little of the hot stock. Add the rice to the casserole, stir well and then add the squid pieces and inky stock. Stir once and then simmer gently for 20 minutes until the rice is al dente and the stock is creamy and quite sticky. Serve at once.

* Tip: to make fish stock, place fish trimmings and prawn shells etc into a pan with some chopped celery, leek, parsley, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Add 1.5 litres of cold water and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve stock.

We also prepared a small selection of simple tapas, salted some cod and cooked it in a stew with chorizo and potatoes and finished the morning off with some fabulously light and fluffy churros served with a rich chocolate sauce spiked with Pedro Ximenez sherry.

Churros finished shot 2.jpg

Churros with Pedro Ximenez Chocolate Sauce

Serves: 6

250 ml water

120 g butter

180 g plain flour, twice sifted

pinch salt

3 medium eggs (size 3)

75 g caster sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

chocolate sauce with Pedro Ximenez

125 g dark chocolate

100 ml single cream

2 tbsp Pedro Ximenez sherry

vegetable oil for frying

Heat the water and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter melts. Tip in the flour and salt and beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the pan edges (this will be almost immediate). Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Using an electric whisk beat the eggs into the dough one at a time until smooth and slightly glossy. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle.

Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan to a depth of 7 cm until it reaches 170c/330f on a sugar thermometer (or until a small amount of the dough sizzles as soon as it is dropped into the oil). Carefully pipe approximately 15 cm lengths of the dough straight into the hot oil, using a knife to cut the dough off at the nozzle. Fry 3 at a time for 3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through using metal tongs. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm in a moderate oven while cooking the rest.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon on a plate and roll the churros in the mixture until coated.

Meanwhile, heat the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the sherry. Arrange the churros on a platter and serve with the chocolate sauce for dipping.