Saturday, 26 April 2014

Meatballs with roasted potato wedges, green peppers. Greek yoghurt and Tahini drizzle... mmmmm

Just before Easter I had the pleasure to meet the girls from Total Yoghurt along with Tonia Buxton (the gorgeous Greek cook from off the telly...) for a Greek Easter cookery masterclass.  One of the brilliant things we made (and ate) were lamb meatballs, cooked together with potatoes and courgettes in the oven.

It inspired my look into the fridge, and I found :

Beef mince
Green Peppers
Charlotte potatoes
Greek Yoghurt..

So roughly following Tonia's recipe (that I've copied here for you..) I ended up with these:

  • Greek Lamb Pattie Tray Bake
Serves: 4

100g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
100g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
400g lamb mince
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cumin
4 red onions (2 finely chopped, 2 cut into wedges)
Large handful mint, chopped
4 waxy new potatoes, ie charlottes cut into wedges
4 courgettes, halved & quartered lengthways
250g pack midi tomatoes on the vine
2 unwaxed lemons cut into 6 wedges each
4 tbsp olive oil
100g feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Heat the oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Put the breadcrumbs, the lamb mince, egg, plenty of seasoning and cumin in a bowl.
  3. Add the chopped onion and sprinkle in half the chopped mint. Give everything a good mix and shape into 8 patties.
  4. Lightly oil a large, shallow roasting tray and add the patties.
  5. Place the onion wedges on the tray around the lamb patties with the potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake for around 40 minutes, turning & basting everything once halfway, until the lamb is cooked though and the vegetables are tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the feta and remaining mint.
  6. Serve with a yoghurt and tahini sauce.

Thank you Tonia and Total for an amazing masterclass, and a fab idea for a quick easy dinner :) 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Sunday Beef with Yorkshire Puddings ...the Paschal Bull ...

Typically, it should be the Paschal Lamb on Easter Sunday. But I didn't have lamb, I had a rib of beef ....

Which meant we got to have yorkshire puddings. Oh I love yorkshire puddings. But only with beef. You can't have yorkshire with lamb or pork. It isn't right.

Yorkshire pudding isn't difficult, you just need to be careful about a few things. I use a pretty standard recipe:

115g plain flour
2 eggs
pinch of salt
150g (or 150ml if you prefer to use a measuring jug - I tend to weigh my liquids these days) skimmed milk (or whole or semiskimmed partly diluted slightly with water)
splash of water

here are my tips:  

1. make sure your oven is as hot as it will go before you put the yorkies in. They will take about 20 minutes and you will need to rest the beef at least this time, so take it out and move the potatoes around so you have room at the top for the yorkies.
2. use fairly strong flour - OO pasta flour or half and half with bread flour works well.
3. beat the hell out of the flour, salt, eggs and half the milk to strengthen the gluten.  Then mix in the rest of the milk and rest for around an hour or longer.
4. put your tin on the hob and bring to a smoking heat before adding oil or dripping. Don't use olive oil, it burns at too low a temperature. Use groundnut or rape oil. Beef dripping is also very good.  
4. stir a splash of water into the batter just before pouring it into the tin whilst it is still on the hob. You should see the batter go all frilly round the edge when it hits the hot oil.
5. Straight into your very hot oven, and turn the heat down to c. Gas mark 7.  Cook for 20 minutes. They should be really puffed and crunchy.

Easy isn't it!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Seared Lamb Rump Steaks with Plum Vinegar glaze

Easy again, as ever!

Little lamb rump steaks, seared on a fiercely hot griddle, and served with hot potato salad and lots of  salad - mushrooms, radishes, cucumber, rocket, lamb's lettuce.

What makes it so very delicious is :

a) good seasoning of the meat before cooking, salt, pepper, some ground cardamom (my fave extra seasoning at the moment) and a good rub of oil on the meat, not on the pan.

b) really searing the edges of the lamb steaks before you do that flat surfaces. Hold the meat with tongs and push down hard onto the metal ridges to make the fat crisp and unflabby. Unlike cooking chops under the grill, you won't get nice edges unless you do that. Then move onto the each of the sides until nicely cooked to your taste.

c) keep the heat nice and high to caramelise all the juices.

d) REST the meat for a good few minutes whilst you make the glaze. 

And the glaze? Easy (of course! ) Keep the heat high, and deglaze the pan with a slug of fruit vinegar - I used Plum but Blackberry is lovely as well - and a little water. Griddle pans aren't easy to scrape to get the caramel off the bottom, so use the fierce heat of the metal to madly boil the liquid and melt all the juices. Once the bubbling has settled and you can see how much liquid you have, either add a little more water if it has nearly all evaporated, or boil a little longer until you have just a few spoonsfuls of thick, glossy sauce to pour over the lamb when it is on the plate.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

More chicken! With tarragon velouté sauce

More chicken thigh goodness.... an all in one tray bake with wedged King Edward potatoes - blanched, tossed in olive oil, a few bay leaves and rosemary sprigs tossed on. The chicken lightly oiled, sprinkled with salt, pepper and ground cardamom. 

Into a good hot oven, and bake for an hour.   I served this with boiled carrots, celery and green beans.

In the last 5 minutes or so, when you have the water from the vegetables handy, make the sauce. Make a loose blonde roux - i.e. slightly more butter than flour (roughly a tablespoon and a half of butter and a tablespoon of flour for two people, more for a family of course) melted in a saucepan and cooked until it is pale straw coloured. Add in hot water from boiling vegetables gradually, about half a pint I guess for two, (don't waste all that veggie goodness.) , whisk and boil furiously until it is a nice sauce consistency. Check the seasoning, and add roughly half a teaspoon of chicken stock powder (less if you put lots of salt in your vegetables, so do check first) and a good shake of dried tarragon or about 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh if you have it handy. At the last, a slug of double cream (or milk if you haven't got any). 

Very tasty.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Lasagne with Ellie

My stepson Paul and his family came for lunch before setting off to see Rang's mum in Thailand for an extended holiday - he used to live there and met Rang there, and whilst she is happy here in England, it is always a joy for her to go home to see her family. And Ellie, their daughter, is of an age to really enjoy herself there.

Not sure of how the timings would go, I made lasagne and salad, so very easy tempered, as it is better made the day before and reheated for an hour before serving.

Certainly it went down well.. here is Ellie on her second plateful!

Chicken Spezzatino with vinegar, garlic and anchovies.

This is a spring time staple for when the English sprouting broccoli comes into the shops in February or March.  Anchovies and garlic and broccoli are made for each other.  The vinegar softens right down in the cooking, but still adds a lovely bite.

Last year I cooked it in February, so I am late this year!

The recipe is on last year's post so click through to find it. Only difference this time is that I cut the chicken thighs into smaller chunks so that they cooked faster, and served it with mashed potatoes rather than roast. So today it was on the table in 20 minutes rather than about an hour... go chicken, go!

Thai Red Curry with chicken and LOTS of vegetables

Thai curries are so lovely and quick and simple, they fit really well into a half an hour tops fast dinner schedule. Once the sauce is made, then I just poach the chicken and red peppers in the sauce, and then add the mange tout for the last 5 minutes to steam on the top. All done in the time it takes to cook the rice!

Here is how I make my red Thai curry. Don't forget, Thai curries are much wetter than Indian ones, (although you can't see the sauce in the photo for all the vegetables!) so serve it in a bowl rather than a plate.

Firstly, gently fry an onion and some garlic in a slug of oil until soft.  Raise the heat slightly, and add a carton of Coconut cream, fry this until it starts to separate and look curdled. Add a tablespoon (or to taste) of Thai Red Curry Paste - you can make your own of course, but to be honest, I find the bought ones perfectly good. Fry for a moment.

Add 2 cups of chicken stock, two tablespoons of fish sauce, a teaspoon of sugar, some chopped lime leaves and a finely chopped stem of lemongrass.  Simmer and taste. Adjust the balance of the sauce (it may want a little more fish sauce or sugar) until it is to your taste.

Add two skinned boned chicken thighs or breasts cut into chunks and a red pepper in strips. Simmer gently for around 10 minutes until cooked through. Add a pack of mange tout to the surface and cover the pan so that they steam for a couple of minutes only.  Balance the sauce with some fresh lime juice.  Dish up into bowls with plain boiled rice and add some chopped coriander.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Lamb kebabs with Mexican sour cream and tomatillo salsa

Wonderful lamb kebabs, marinated with lemon juice and oregano, with red peppers and onions on the skewers so it all goes charred round the edges and smokey flavoured. A permanent favourite here.

I added in some extra Mexican flavours with my new favourite tajin seasoning, delicious green tomatillo salsa from La Costena, and fabulous cultured sour cream (easily made with double cream and greek yoghurt in equal quantities, left at room temperature for a couple of hours to thicken and sour).

To finish, little roast cubes of potato with rosemary.

Potato and Other Things Omelette with Bean Salad

Some days, it is all too much effort to think of something interesting for dinner. Those are the days I reach for pasta or eggs.  Today was an egg day. I hesitate to call this a tortilla, as it has ingredients that wouldn't go into a proper Spanish tortilla, although it is cooked in a similar way (i.e. the added things are put in the eggs, rather than the eggs being tipped over them like a frittata).

This one has sliced boiled new potatoes, sautéed onions and green peppers, a good handful of grated Emmental cheese and slices of chorizo added to the lightly beaten eggs, then tipped into a lightly oiled frying pan and cooked over a medium heat until three quarters done, then I put it under the grill to finish off as I am a wimp about turning it over.

A can of cannelini beans with cooked and cooled green beans, red onions, red peppers and some coriander. A slug of Maille vinaigrette, and a slice of homemade oatmeal bread.

Light, delicious. 15 minutes.

Chicken Mole with Mango Salsa

Fabulous salsa with mango and cucumber and sweet white onions, coriander and a good spritz of lime juice. Sprinkled with the amazing Mexican chili lime seasoning I have discovered from +La Costena and which is my current favourite seasoning. It is chili powder, lime powder and salt, called Tajin after the company that markets it as a complete seasoning, and Mexicans use it on fruit and fresh vegetables all the time. I just love it..

La Costena have been so generous in sending me Mexican spices and sauces to try, and among the ready made sauces they sent was Mole which is made from chilies and chocolate.  Intriguing, and perhaps a bit too sweet for my liking, so I added a little extra chicken stock powder to soften the sweetness.  I roasted the chicken thighs and just topped with mole sauce, rather than cooking them in the sauce, in case we didn't like it at all.

I don't know that I would wrestle anyone to the ground to try it again, but it is interesting, and works very well with the salsa and home made sour cream (equal parts of double cream and Total yoghurt, with a sprinkling of Tajin on the top.