Thursday, 21 November 2013

Beetroot & Stilton Risotto and Bacon Wrapped Chicken - November 2013

I've been testing risotti for Essential Cuisine stocks, for their Facebook competition recently (did you enter it? Oh, you SHOULD they give amazing prizes you know....) and really liked one that I tested, so made a slightly different version for dinner.  Followed by chicken breast wrapped in fabulous Gourmet Bacon (which I bought at the Good Food Show on Friday) and baked in the oven, with a salad on the side.

Aren't the colours all lovely for a grey November day?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Flash Fried Pigeon Breasts with Quince & Blackberry Glaze - November 2013

Fabulous little things are pigeon breasts, they look so small but they are so meaty and flavoursome that two little breasts make a perfectly sufficient dinner portion.

I flash fried these - no more than 1 minute per side, so they stay nicely red inside, glazed with home made quince jelly and blackberry vinegar, then rested for another couple of minutes to let the heat even out inside.  I served these with a bulghar wheat pilaf made with chicken stock , seasoned with sumac and parsley, and then topped with seared red pepper strips, toasted pine nuts and raw pomegranate seeds. The sweetness of the little garnishes and glaze really goes well with the light gaminess of the pigeon, which is quite a sweet meat anyway.

Some broccoli to make sure I have something green and light, and a really toothsome dish.

Monday, 21 October 2013

oink oink... Pork Belly for Sunday - October 2013

There is nothing as delicious as a little bit of pork belly.. and this was a VERY little bit. A mini roast from my precious cheaps counter, just 200g of porkiness.  Now that small a joint can dry out easily, so I popped this in a deepish pan with quartered onions and turnips, drizzled with a little oil and half a bottle of cider (that had been in the fridge since cooking the rabbit.) , and a sprinkle of paprika and thyme.  The liquid keeps the meat from drying out, but lets me cook it for a good couple of hours to make certain it is good and tender.

Little chunky roast potatoes on the side.  Brussels. Gravy. Apple Sauce.

Porky goodness.. oink oink.

Iberican Style Hake with potatoes - October 2013

I love a piece of hake. Very soft and unappealing when it is raw, it stiffens when it cooks but always stays light and tender.

The Spanish love it too, and cook it in several ways. As do the Portuguese. This recipe is a blend of the two styles, hence the generic Iberican in the name rather than Spanish or Portuguese.  The coating in semolina and frying is Portuguese style, the potatoes and leeks cooked in fish stock (I used Essential Fish Stock) , and the topping with garlic and smoked paprika in hot oil is Galician - but there they usually poach the fish rather than fry it.

Add it together and it is simply delicious

Friday, 18 October 2013

Salt and Pepper Squid, the recipe - October 2013

Lots of requests for the recipe for Salt and Pepper Squid, so here you are.

Firstly, do not be put off by the frying. I don't have a deep fat fryer, and just used about an inch and a half (couple of centimetres) in a saucepan. No problem.

I used English squid, just a couple of them as a starter for two people. These were pre-prepared ones, so no tentacles. Shame as I like the tentacles. If you have them, then use them, there are lots of instructions for cleaning squid if you get them whole with the tentacles, like this one here 

Cut the hood down the side and then cut into rectangles about the size of a matchbox. (If you are using the tentacles, just make sure you have cut out the little mouth parts from the very centre, then leave them whole.) Score the inside of the flesh in a diamond pattern, give them a rinse and then pop into a mixture of milk and yoghurt to soak for 10 minutes or so.

Whilst the squid is soaking, make the dipping sauce by mixing equal quantities of mayonnaise and Greek Yoghurt (I like Total best, and use 0% for just about everything)  If you like you can add chopped dill, or chopped spring onions, maybe a little chili, what ever takes your fancy. I just had it plain!

In a small bowl mix one tablespoon of potato flour and one of cornflour (you can use all cornflour if you don't have any potato flour but it is good and crispy), and season with plenty of black pepper and salt.

Start heating some light vegetable oil (I use organic rape seed oil - not a cold pressed one, but I think the organic one is nicer in flavour than the ordinary rape seed/vegetable oil. And I dislike sunflower oil intensely as it lacquers my pans and is really hard to get off) in a saucepan until it shimmers. Don't let it smoke. I usually test with a little flour, if the flour just sinks to the bottom it isn't hot enough, if the flour fizzes it is about right.

When the oil is hot enough, scoop the squid out of the milk (discard the milk) and throw it into the seasoned flours, mix round until it forms a sort of batter on the outside of the squid and then pop each piece of squid into the oil, one by one. Don't throw them all in together they will lower the temperature of the oil too much and will stick together in one lump.

Squid takes hardly any time to cook so once it is golden brown in patches, lift it out and drain on some kitchen paper, then serve quickly with the dip.

I hope you enjoy this, let me know!

Thai Red Chicken Curry... October 2013

My very favourite Thai curry, chicken with red and green peppers.  Truly easy to make, and quick as anything.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Wild Rabbit with Cider and Prunes - October 2013

Delicious wild rabbit is perfect for autumn eating.  I am still playing with Californian Prunes, and decided to put a handful into this braise, with more baby onions, celery and turnips.  Dry Cider and some Essential Cuisine Veal Stock, and softly cooked for about 2 hours.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Salt & Pepper Squid to kick off, and Venison Sausages with prunes to finish off...October 2013

I love the days that Bob comes home with disparate packages from the cheaps counters for me to make dinner we have a small pack of squid and half a dozen venison sausages...

So, to start Squid in Salt and Pepper coating, with a dip of mayonnaise and Total 0% yoghurt and lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Then finishing off with braised venison sausages with Californian prunes (a re-discovery that I should never have left in the past) and baby onions.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Pear and Dolcelatte to start, with Roasted Veggies and Quinoa to follow ;) Sept 2013

We actually had some pears from our tree in the garden this year, not many, we never have many, which is sad as they are very nice flavoured Williams. Williams pears are tricky to bring to ripeness, they leap from being unripe, hard, unflavoured lumps to fluffy, nasty, slushy, unflavoured lumps in the space of a day at room temperature.

Usually I poach them in their unripe state, as then they are delicious.  But I had a few too many this year, and put the rest in the fridge. Well, what do you know! they ripened perfectly in there, and I managed to have a handful in their prime at the finest juicy non-fluffy ripe stage.

Some got cut up into my morning fruit salad, but I had two left and decided to make a starter of sliced pears, dolcelatte cheese, toasted walnuts and pine nuts, drizzled with Crush lemon dressing.


I followed this with a vegetarian main course, of quinoa, puy lentils and roasted vegetables, garnished with radishes and pomegranate seeds left from my Try Total Challenge harissa chicken the other day.

I used a pack of ready cooked  white and red quinoa from Quinola Mothergrain. I hadn't come across this company before seeing them at Speciality & Fine Food exhibition recently, when they kindly gave me a pack of Express Quinoa to try. It was so easy! I simply put it in a bowl with a drained tin of puy lentils and gave it 2 mins in the microwave. All done and ready to eat!

I mixed in some roasted peppers, courgettes and onions, together with some confit garlic and a little garlic oil, and garnished with sliced radishes and pomegranate seeds. Then sprinkled a little basil infused oil from Scarlett and Mustard - another fabulous find at Speciality & Fine Food - over the top together with a sprinkle of my famous blackberry vinegar, which lifted it all beautifully.

A really good, light yet filling dinner. I should eat like this more often!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

#TryTotal Harissa Roast Chicken - October 2013

This was really delicious and I can't recommend it enough! I was invited to join in the #TryTotal challenge with Total Greek Yoghurt, and chose to make the Harissa Chicken. Total Greek Yoghurt generously provided all the ingredients, and I followed the instructions here ALMOST to the letter (you know how hard that is for me..).  I added a teaspoon of oil onto the peppers, and some salt and pepper as there is no seasoning anyway. I can't cope with that level of blandness, but if salt isn't a bother to you, or you are trying to follow a low salt diet, then make it as per the original recipe.

Bob doesn't like fennel, so his was made with celery instead, which he said was very good too.

Look, isn't it beautiful! Thanks so much Total, this is definitely something to make again.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Pork Hocks with roast potatoes, red cabbage and peas..and NO PICTURE! :( Sept 23rd 2013

Dinner was all set, neatly arranged on the plate, and the camera said "please replace the battery".

No time to ruin my dinner looking for another camera, so you have no picture of the delicious slow roast Gloucester Old Spot pork hock bought from Picks Farm at my local Walthamstow farmer's Market . So you will have to imagine.

But it looked very like this one from Donald Russell


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Dexter Beef Brisket with red cabbage - Sept 22nd 2013

I've been giving the pressure cooker a real outing this week, nearly every meal has been cooked in it, and tonight's was no exception. A nice little piece of Dexter beef brisket from the farmer's market took my eye, and I pot roasted it in the pressure cooker with carrots, onions and celery, with Essential Cuisine beef stock and a good slug of Lea and Perrins.   It still takes a surprisingly long time to be really tender, even in the pressure cooker, I had to give it a good hour in there.

Roast potatoes, the pot roast moved to the oven for the last 10 minutes, enough time to cook the red cabbage in the pressure cooker (using Catherine Phipps' fab recipe from her Pressure Cooking book)

Most excellent.

Beef Stew with fregola - Sept 21st 2013

It's very hard to make a beef stew look appetising in a photograph.  Not as hard as making a plate of mince look good, but it's up there....

So you will have to take my word that this stew of braising steak with fresh plum tomatoes and fregola thrown in at the end to soak up some of the juices was delicious.   The veg were supposed to have been roasted, but I ran out of time, and so just sautéed them - there is red pepper, courgettes, onion and patty pan squash in there.  Very yum if less pretty :)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Italianesque mince - day two - the Pastore Pie Sept 2013

Left over from day one of the Italianesque mince,  an easy peasy dinner tonight. I popped the sauce in nice flat individual dishes, topped with mashed potato, some butter flakes and grated cheese.  In a hot oven for half an hour to heat through thoroughly and brown the potato topping, and served with carrots and cauliflower.


p.s. Pastore is Italian for shepherd... get it now?

Italianesque mince... day one.... the pasta. Sept 2013

Sorting out the freezer (use it all up time...) I found a pack of mince loitering near the bottom. In the fridge, I found a solitary cooked chicken thigh, and a quarter pack of sausage meat from sausage patties earlier in the week.  All to be used up in a sorta Italiana sauce thing.  A slosh of Marsala (this makes everything good..) finely chopped onions, a can of tomatoes, some Italian herbs (aha!! there is another Italian bit) and spices (a teaspoon of  Urban Spice Man's 5P seasoning and a teaspoon of ground allspice), salt and a pinch of sugar.  And a long long simmer...

Fat shells of pasta. A sprinkle of basil leaves


Bunny Stew with leeks and fregola - Sept 2013

I love a little bunny.

This was a lovely little bunny, a youngster from the new season, and as tender as anything. Braised in a pressure cooker, with pancetta, carrots, onions, celery, Marsala wine and Essential Cuisine veal stock,  it only took 20 minutes.

Plenty enough time to cook the leeks and the fregola to serve with it.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

It's September, back to school and back to blogging...

Now I haven't totally lost it, I do remember that I don't have any children of school age.  But it is that time of year for all things to start again.

Including blogs.

So I hope you had a lovely summer of salads and picnics. Autumn has started and I am starting to cook properly again, rather than just assembling cold food, so will be kicking off my dinner diary again.

And whilst I write up my first dinner for Autumn, a reminder for you to visit my other blogs:

A Greedy Piglet -  the first blog that I wrote exclusively about food, and still the place  to go to for lengthier posts on experimental cooking and good recipes.

This has a little sister blog A Greedy Piglet - Just the Bare Minimum , short snippets, reviews and events and food festivals are all here.

Do have a little look around - they will be getting injections of new writing too, but in the meantime there is still lots of good stuff there. Let me know what you think, yes?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Osso buco alla Milanese - Saturday August 17th 2013

As I am sure you will have heard, since I have been hammering on about it, I have been asked to help judge the Essential Stock risotto competition held through Facebook and Twitter. I am rather flattered indeed,  since I am a strong fan of Essential Stock dehydrated stocks and use them in preference to any other stocks now (not including home made, but that doesn't happen very often in this house). The judging will mean cooking some of the finalist recipes to see how they come out in practice, in a real home. Because these are Real Cookery competitions, I am pleased to say, rather than giveaways.

So, in preparation, I thought that my risotto making skills should be honed.  I have blogged about my risotto views before on A Greedy Piglet, about the importance of the rice, and the end texture. This will be VERY important in my view. If I can't make the recipe to the right texture, I won't be able to judge the flavours properly. So a bit of extra practice is needed I think.

I will pop the full recipe over on A Greedy Piglet, but for now just admire the silken slump of this bit of ricey deliciousness.


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Wild Rabbit with carrots and turnips - Tuesday August 13th 2013

Fabulous Wild Rabbit, now coming back into its prime. I bought three leg joints for about £3 at Walthamstow Farmers Market on Sunday, and braised them with white wine, Essential Cuisine chicken stock, carrots, celery and turnips, and served it with plainly boiled new potatoes.  Simple and delicious.

Grilled Gilt Headed Bream with home made pitta bread: Sunday August 11th 2013

I always mean to make something fancy schmancy and elaborate with a whole fish. But in the end can you beat just grilling it with a bit of oil and seasoning?

No, I don't think so either.

Oh, it has salad on it too... shhhhhhhhhhh we are not mentioning salad....

yawn... so much salad... yawn.....

Sorry, I've been very quiet.. most days have just been salad. And more salad. And I think you may be bored of seeing that. So I shan't be mentioning any salad+bits from the fridge any more unless you specifically want me to.....

I shan't hold my breath waiting for you to rush and say "OH yes! more salad photos! We don't know how to make a salad! "

Last salad....

Friday, 9 August 2013

Back to salad...Thursday August 8th 2013

Back to salad... egg, salami, new potato salad. Fat tomatoes and ridge cucumbers.

(I am trusting you to say nothing about my overcooked HB eggs... I put them in cold water to cool, but it got hot again! They needed less time and then they wouldn't have that dark line round the yolk. Oops! )

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Pork Chop with sauce charcutiere - Wednesday August 8th 2013

I love a nice pork chop.

I usually either grill or oven bake them, but I was watching Raymond Blanc on catchup the other day, frying his pork chop in butter. Oh it looked good.

So copying him, I fried my chops in plenty of unsalted butter, around 5 minutes each side, then rested for 5 minutes whilst I fried the sausage meatballs and made the charcutiere sauce.  Which is the best sauce for pork chops.

I dredged the butter in the pan with plain flour, and whisked to make a light roux, then splashed in some of the cooking water from the potatoes (which also had the carrots and peas cooking all in together to save on energy), whisking to incorporate all the sticky juices from the bottom of the pan. This rich sauce was further enriched with some veal glaze from Essential Cuisine (a little sample I had sent with my pie competition winnings) and a slug of home made blackberry vinegar, so act as a fillip to the flavour. Added to this a handful of chopped cornichons and some capers. And the little sausage meatballs.

Truly scrumptious.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Round Up The Week... chicken and frittata and salad and aubergines and sausages.. August 1-7th 2013

Gosh its been a busy week!! no time!! no time!!

So another round up I am afraid...

Thursday: Chicken spezzatino with new potatoes and salad

I described how to make this back in February:

Friday:  Gammon, potato and onion frittata with watercress

Simple frittata with sliced new potatoes and chopped end of the gammon from earlier in the week.

Saturday:    Aubergine gratin with fregola pasta and watercress

Fried aubergine slices, in a caponata sauce (tomato sauce made slight sweet and sour with sugar and vinegar, with added celery slices, capers and onion) topped with a moussaka topping (white sauce with lots of nutmeg and an egg added in at the end) and grated parmesan. Very yummy.

Sunday:   More aubergine gratin ( I made two small oval dishes full, one fed two easily) more fregola (because it is delicious! ) and with some sausage patties alongside.

Monday:   I got some amazingly good tomatoes and ridge cucumbers at Walthamstow Farmers Market on Sunday, so first course of a simple tomato and cucumber salad with a little red onion.

Followed with some more sausage patties, with hot new potatoes and runner beans tossed in butter. 

Tuesday : Hog board at The Bell before the Quiz. (we won! Hurray!) No pics of that though... too hungry!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Orzo pasta with runner beans and peas.. Wednesday July 31st 2013

Hmmmm wrong filter on the camera, but you get the gist of it...

Orzo pasta cooked with fresh peas and English runner beans (all in the one pan, they all take about the same time, 8 minutes) , with crispy onions and chopped mint added at the end with lots of salty butter.  With the last slices of the cold pork and a green salad.  15 minutes including the chopping and podding :)


Monday, 29 July 2013

Gnocchi with peas and ham - Monday July 29th 2013

No, honestly, it was nice. Really. I know it looks a bit sludgy, but it was NICE. Honestly....

It was a day for standing in front of the fridge and pulling things out at random until an idea took root.  And then hoping for the best. And thankfully getting a tasty result.

So first out of freezer, potato gnocchi (they can be cooked straight from frozen). Then in the fridge a pot of ready made Italian cheese sauce, some cooked gammon, fresh peas just needing podding, a fresh red pointy pepper.

Chop, pod and slice as required. Blanch peas and throw into re-heated cheese sauce with gammon and red peppers pieces, cook gnocchi and then throw them into the cheese sauce too.  Serve in a bowl with slices of cooked pork loin.

Saturday and Sunday - the twins... July 27-28th 2013

Easy does it salad again on Saturday, cold roast pork, cold gammon, watercress, coleslaw and homemade brown bread. 

And OH out on Sunday, so exactly the same thing again!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

all this week....Monday-Friday July 22-26 2013

Gosh it's been a busy old week let me tell you. With LOTS of fab eating out hence very little on here for you. And it has been very very hot so all meals have been quite light.

So shall I summarise?

Monday - Peruvian Avocado Masterclass at Ceviche in Frith Street, in London's West End. We made stunning salads with quinoa and avocado, and lots of tasters of ceviche. And Pisco Sours. Oh yes, let's not forget the Pisco Sour ;) (lots more about the masterclass and about amazing Peruvian Avocados soon over on A Greedy Piglet)

Tuesday - Quiz night at the Bell. Salt and Pepper Squid. with garlic mayo. And chips.

Wednesday - I made the quinoa and avocado salad again to see if I could. Yes I can , although I only had red quinoa (Merchant Gourmet ready cooked) and no butter beans...and no physallis to make the coulis so I used a little Womersley Golden Raspberry vinegar instead for the bit of sweetness it needed.

And to follow that we had a very light salad with Polish sausage and Italian blue cheese.

Thursday - A joint of gammon in the fridge needed cooking, so I pressure cooked it and we had it cold with salads.

Friday - My wedding anniversary - 33 years - yes, it is amazing. Thank you, no I don't look old enough do I...  We went out for lunch at our favourite fine dining restaurant, L'Autre Pied , and I had delicious beetroot to start, then hake with parmesan and truffles, and a cherry and apricot dessert. With lots of wine. Oh, and I nearly forgot... a Whisky Sour to start (I see this sour cocktail lark could be a habit..)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Layer Marney Lamb and Roast Med Veggies - Sunday July 21st 2013

Gosh this is a great cut of lamb, the chump end. Cheap as chips, a bit of bone in it but that just makes for highly pleasurable gnawing, and as tender as the rest of the chump.  I marinated both the lamb and the veggies in lemon juice, olive oil and oregano, grilled the lamb and oven roasted the vegetables.

The lamb was bought at Essex Food Festival on Saturday, and came from Essex lamb farmers Layer Marney Lamb, this was oh so delicious. The Mediterranean vegetables were roasted earlier and allowed to cool, and with a crunchy salad were just right for this most Mediterranean of summers we are having.

Salad again... End of Last Week July 18/19/20 2013

It is still Scorchio as The Sun always used to put it.. hottest summer for 7 years apparently.  Takes a person's appetite away, so we are just eating salad variations.  I am sure you can put a lot of raw veg in a bowl, toss them in dressing, and add something proteinous without me telling you how to. But here are a couple for you:

Polish sausage, feta and olives

Bray's Cottage Pork Pies.. the larger is a naked one, and the small a Wiverton - a summer limited edition with lemon and garlic, yummy!!

(In the background there are the last couple of squares of The Finalist Bread from Essex Food Festival... )

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Odds and Sods Salad Wednesday July 17th 2013

Still rather on the warm side.... 30 degrees in the shade... salad again then. I had a lovely pack of mixed grains from Merchant Gourmet to test (still in test stage, so can't say what is in it, but it is VERY good. Very wholegrain and very healthy). I mixed this with some lemony vinaigrette, sumac, chopped parsley and coriander, chopped red onion and red pepper, and some chopped roasted hazelnuts. Very good and filling.

And the protein was just ... stuff. Odds and ends in the fridge that needed using up. A kofte or two, a bit of ham, some hummus, that kind of thing. Easy "I can't really face hot stove" type food.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Chargriddled Lamb Kofte, Bulgar wheat pilaf & Salad Monday July 15th 2013

The top bit of the lamb shoulder was left, the bit round the shank, not really suitable for plain grilling, so I popped it in the food processor with some onion, breadcrumbs, sumac, allspice, salt and lots of parsley. Sausage shaped, and chargrilled them.  Then rested in the oven whilst I deglazed the pan and added some fresh tomatoes to cook down into a little sauce.

Meanwhile bulgur pilaf with lamb stock, some Urban SpiceMan Yo Momma spice blend (lots of sumac in there plus other secret things..) and parsley and roasted chopped hazelnuts added at the end.

Salad. Total Greek yoghurt. Home made pita breads.Crispy fried onions over the top.

Nice, eh?

Monday, 15 July 2013

More sunshine... more griddled lamb.... more yum....Sunday July 14th 2013

Lamb. That is all there is to say. More. Lamb.

Or you can add in a yum or an mmmmm should you so choose...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Chargrilled Lamb & salad Saturday July 13th 2013

Oof it has turned rather warm this week!! I am not likely to be playing with fancy schmancy stuff whilst this heat is about, lots of salad, and simply grilled or cold meat. That's the ticket for me.

I found a reduced price lamb shoulder again, and snapped it up. Cut flat pieces from the blade end and chargrilled them using a Le Creuset ridged pan to get the fat lovely and crispy.

In fact this was so successful, Bob has voted for this tomorrow as well :)

What you can't see (I hadn't decided to add it on when I took the picture)  is the hummus I smothered the lamb with as I ate it... oh yum.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Take Your Pick Salad... Friday 11th July 2013

You make lots of salads, stick them on the table, and nibble as you feel like it...

Just a little snack really....