Saturday, 25 October 2014

what do you call a Shepherd's Pie made with Pork?

Do you have any ideas? I can't get further than Piglet Pie ...

It's really hard to make anything made with mince look attractive on the plate. Green veggies help, but honestly, the colour is in your mouth not in your eyes!

I made this by frying pork mince and pancetta, with onions and celery, adding gravy made with fabulous Essential Cuisine veal stock powder and some white wine. Creamy buttery mashed potato finished it off.

My personal view is that any form of shepherd's/cottage/piglet pie must be cooked long enough, and in a hot enough oven for the gravy to bubble through and form a sticky mess on top of the potato at the edge. That bit is MY bit.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Rack of lamb... Sunday Dinner on a Thursday....

Delicious little rack of lamb, started in my black enamel pan that I bought in Spain many years ago. I love that pan for things like this, I can sear them all over on the hob, then move the whole thing into the oven to carry on cooking.  

A little rack of 7 bones will feed two, and takes 20 mins on highest heat after a good searing, so make sure that you have put the potatoes in to roast at least half an hour before that.  After the 20 minutes, take the rack out and rest it whilst you use the pan juices to make the gravy. It needs a nice 5-8 minutes sitting under a hat of foil to be gently pink inside.

If you like it pinker then either cook it on a lower heat or give it a little less, but not too much or you'll have raw lamb. Which is not nice.  And which will incur the wrath of any Masterchef judge. Obviously, if you like it very well done then give it a bit longer, and make sure you rest it well.

Back and eating chicken again......

I've been away for a bit, as summer eating was so often meat and salad and then more meat and salad, and it felt so boring to repeat myself all the time.

But autumn is here!!!  Hot food, and veggies and sauces and all kinds of things.

So we are off and at 'em again. And to start here is yesterday's  dinner, pan fried then roasted chicken thighs, with a sauce of sliced mushrooms and capers - basically, you fry mushrooms in the chicken pan, then make your normal chicken gravy in the same pan, and add in a couple of spoonfuls of capers.

Really delicious for very little effort.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Fish & Chips home style without a deep fat fryer...

Fish and chips is definitely do-able without a deep fat fryer. Yes, proper crunchy fluffy chips. Triple fried no less.  And lovely crunchy panko crumbed fish. But it is the chips that are the thing isn't it?

I did these in a wok. I blanched the chips in water first, let them drain thoroughly, then popped them in a wok just a third full of rape seed oil (lower burn point than olive oil, which I prefer for shallow frying) on one of the medium burners.

In go the nicely dry potatoes, and I turned them over and over until they were nicely cooked through though they weren't browning very quickly. Then I slid the wok onto the front fast burner (I am not really a fan of modern 4 burner gas cookers - I don't need that titchy little burner at the front, give me another fast one!! ) and let the oil heat up further.

Keep the chips moving until you can hear them rustling as you turn them around.

Look! Crunchy chips!! 

No fat fryer and not a lot of oil to boot.  Mayo and tomato ketchup and I am happy.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Put your dinner on a plate......!

I love cooking, but I'm not always in the mood to cook dinner.  Sometimes, all you want to do is slice a couple of things open a packet or two and put it on a plate. 

Oh, wait a minute....I hardboiled the eggs.

Which is cooking of course..

Smoked Haddock and parsley sauce... mmmmm fishy

Last time I had smoked haddock for breakfast, this piece we had it for dinner.  The Other Half likes his unadulterated, so he has it just poached in water with a little butter on top, but I like good old-fashioned parsley sauce with mine.

My parsley sauce is a straightforward bechamel or white sauce, equal parts - maybe an ounce or so for two people - of butter and flour melted together, and then whisk in  milk  - add a good cupful and whisk thoroughly as it comes to a boil to avoid any lumps, then you can thin the until the sauce to the thickness you like. Let it simmer very gently for a good few minutes to cook out the flour, and then season with salt, pepper and chopped parsley. My top tip - add a good squeeze of lemon juice to the sauce along with the parsley to liven up the flavour. This is a brilliant sauce for slices of gammon too btw.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Red Flannel Hash... so pretty in pink

We have had a LOT of salads recently, and I got a pash on for something more autumnal.  A wander round the fridge presented me with beetroots, potatoes, celery, a rather manky half an onion, a pack of chopped pancetta and some eggs. The freezer finished it off with a pack of back bacon.  A Red Flannel hash was beckoning.

Whilst the bacon thawed out (with the help of the microwave - 20 mins on 10% power ) I popped the beets into the pressure cooker with half a pint of water. Brought to high pressure, cooked for 15 mins and then allowed to depressurise naturally - peel the beets while hot then allow to cool slightly and chop into half-inch cubes..

The potatoes meanwhile were chopped into half-inch cubes and boiled until tender, then drained and allowed to cool slightly.  The onion and celery were chopped mighty small and fried with the pancetta in a little olive oil then put into a large bowl to cool.

So now for assembly... the cubed potatoes and beetroot go into the bowl with the oniony mixture, and plentiful salt and pepper.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of garlic oil in a frying pan, and tip in the hash mixture.  Fry, turning over frequently, until it is nicely browned. 

Whilst the hash is cooking - probably a good 15 mins to get it nicely brown - fry a couple of eggs how you like them. I have mine turned over, Bob prefers his unturned and - to me at any rate - snotty on the top (ugh...) and grill some back bacon.

Decant the hash into a serving dish and put the eggs and bacon on top, then sprinkle with chopped parsley if you are in the mood for cheffing it up a bit.  Eat with horseradish cream on the side.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Fish for Friday - smoked haddock and grilled sole

Fish on a Friday. Such a tradition when I was little, we always had fish on a Friday, and never, ever on a Monday as my mum said that it was always stale on a Monday.

Well, I can't vouch for the spanking freshness of the fish we had this Friday, as both came from the cheaps counter. But they were very reasonably priced, and still tasted exceptionally good.

Breakfast was a low-carb delight. Smoked haddock simply poached in water, with lots of butter and black pepper. Followed by a large bowl of chopped summer fruit topped with Total Greek Yoghurt.

Dinner was the total luxury of Dover Sole. Far too expensive for my budget at a normal price, these were marked right down to £2.50 each.

People don't buy whole fish it would seem, these just needed skinning  before grilling. Skinning is really easy once you know how - the trick is to slit the skin across the tail on each side, then, working each side it turn,  ease the BLUNT side of a pointed knife under the skin along the side edges to loosen the skin there, use a teatowel to help grip the skin just above the tail, rip the skins up to the head from the tail and cut the head off with the skin.

Oil the fish on both sides and salt and pepper generously. Under a hot grill, baste them with butter frequently and cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side. Sole doesn't flake like cod and haddock, but if you can ease a fillet back from the middle you want to see the bones opaque in the middle when it is cooked through.  Don't overcook it, you will lose the succulence of this prince of fishes.

We ate these quite simply with boiled new potato slices in butter, and a green crunchy salad dressed with Crush Foods lemon dressing, perfect for the flavour of the sole without masking it at all.

 Fish should be eaten more often -  Meatless Monday must be joined by Fishy Friday!!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Pancetta lunch followed by pancetta dinner....

I found a pack of pancetta in the fridge whilst I was looking for bacon to have with avocado for a lunch time sandwich. It was ....ok... not anywhere as meaty and good as bacon, but it looked very pretty on the plate.

So now I had half a pack of pancetta that really did need using up. 

Today's roast chicken therefore became pancetta roast chicken. I took the skin off the thighs and wrapped each thigh in 3 strips of pancetta, and roasted for just under an hour until really crispy.  Roast potatoes for the same period of time, alongside the chicken.  Cut small and roasted with oregano flowers.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

fabulous @CookCarluccio 's Osso Buco in Bianco, with a rather murky risotto milanese..

Why is it when I make risotto milanese recently, no matter how long I infuse the saffron it never goes that lovely yellow colour you get in the photos, eh? I toast my little strands carefully, grind them in my little mortar, and pop them in my nice hot stock. And get a murky ochre colour. I reckon it must by my supermarket saffron. I must invest more money in this most expensive of spices it would seem ;(

But whatever, it tasted fab, topped with a thick veal steak cooked to Antonio Carluccio's classic recipe from  Two Greedy Italians , the book that went with the BBC series with Gennaro Contaldo.  This version cooks the veal in white wine with no tomatoes, which I prefer.

British rose veal is still rather expensive I think, but deliciously tender and flavoursome, and well worth pushing the boat out for a change.  You need one nice steak of veal shin, cut across the bone (the osso buco or hollow bone of the title of the dish) per person.  As ever, my recipe will feed two people, but this can be multiplied up easily.

2 x 5cm-thick slices veal shin
Plain flour, to coat
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, very finely chopped
2 celery stalks, very finely chopped
4 bay leaves
100ml dry white wine + half a glass of marsala (the marsala isn't in Antonio's recipe but I love the slight sweetness it gives)
500ml  stock - Antonio uses beef or chicken stock, but I used Essential Cuisine's delicious veal stock.
4 sage leaves
1 rosemary sprig
Grated zest of 1 small orange

for gremolata: chopped parsley, lemon zest and fresh garlic mixed together.
  1. Coat the meat in flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole, add the veal and fry until browned all over. Set aside.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaves to the same pan and fry, stirring, for about 8 minutes or until the onion is softened. Pour in wine and Marsala, allow to reduce slightly, then add the meat, stock, sage, rosemary and orange zest. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for about 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Add a little more stock if it is getting too dry. I like to serve this with a sprinkling of gremolata and the risotto of course. 
My best recipe for risotto milanese is on my Greedy Piglet blog - lovely slumpy syrupy rice. along with a recipe for the tomato version of Osso buco. Apparently mashed potato also goes well with this. But I think I like the classic way better :)

Butterflied Lamb with Cucumber Melon Bulghur Wheat salad - thank you @LondonProduceSh ow and @WestlandsWow

I found this picture of this amazingly delicious dinner tucked away in my photo gallery and realised I hadn't told you about these amazing little fruit/veggies that I found at the London Produce Show recently. I've now seen them at my local farmer's market on the Wild Country Organics stand

Cucamelons... they are each only the size of a cherry tomato. They taste of cucumber with a touch of sourness. Are they cute or what?

and baby cucumbers complete with flowers.... and micro herbs like fennel and red basil. And so many more fabulous things. (Westlands won the award at the London Produce Show for the best stand, lots of amazing pictures on their FB page )

I made this with boned out shoulder of lamb, butterflied out (you make cuts on the inside of the piece of meat so that the heat can penetrate through easily) and rubbed with salt, pepper, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil. The same seasonings that I use on my kebabs, and really my favourites for lamb.

Whilst the seasonings settle onto the meat (about an hour or so) make the salad. This is a simple tabbouleh salad but with extra crunch from various vegetables and herbs. 

Into a bowl, put your cracked bulghur wheat (you can get it in different grades from an International supermarket, or just use the one from the supermarket, it is perfectly fine) and cover with cold water, leave for at least half an hour, more if you have time (even overnight), drain and add the juice of a lemon, salt and pepper to taste.  For a basic tabbouleh you then add chopped onions, tomatoes, parsley and mint.  That makes a delicious accompaniment to any grilled meats. I wanted more crunch in this salad, so I used the cucamelons, some of the little cucumbers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, red onions, sliced radishes, chopped fennel leaves, mint and parsley.

Heat a ridged grill pan until really hot, and drop the lamb onto it uncut side down first. Let it sit for around 10 minutes and then turn over. Cook it to your taste, some people like their lamb quite rare, some more well cooked. Check it by cutting a little slice into the middle. Once it is your preferred shade of pink (don't cook it until it is really grey, it will carry on cooking as you rest it) move it to a board and let it rest for 5 minutes or so, then slice and serve alongside the tabbouleh.

Eating things with salad.....

Mostly we have still been having  cold meat, grilled meat or fish with salad. I can't bring myself to bore you with recipes for these. You know how to make it. You put fish or meat on a plate, and you put salad next to it...

You can have a couple of pictures though just to keep you comfy until I eat something more interesting... (which I did recently, but you have to wait until I write it up.)

Salami, mortadella and cold sausages:

Grilled cod with mixed herbs:

Cheats cod and chips.... all from the freezer cabinet (except the salad and the coleslaw of course)

Lasagne (and a whole tomato...what?? )

Thursday, 17 July 2014

15 minute cod....

It's not just Jamie Oliver that can make a meal in 15 mins...this was only around 10 minutes from when the water boiled for the potatoes.

The main cooking time is for the potatoes.  As new potatoes can go into salted boiling water, (old ones should be put into cold water) boil the water in the kettle a la Jamie, then they need about 10 minutes, drain and dress with a little butter.  Meanwhile, chop up your tomatoes and cucumbers (lovely ridge cucumbers are fresher and crisper than long cucumbers, but they need peeling) slice some radishes, mix them up and season with a little salt. Put the grill on to heat up.

The cod fillets I brushed with melted butter, and sprinkled with salt, pepper and mixed Italian herbs. Under the grill for 5 minutes, or until the flakes show opaque right through when you lift them with the blade of a knife, so put them under when the potatoes have had about 5 minutes.

Onto a plate... Dinner!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Portuguese Roast Pork with bulghur wheat pilaff

We have had a lot of very simple salads with grilled meat recently, nothing very exciting to tell you about at all.  However, last week, I made this, and it is really very tasty indeed.

I make Portuguese style roast pork using a loin of pork with this marinade, and it worked brilliantly with a midweek pork chop. It is simple to do but somehow the flavour is quite different to anything else.

Take your pork chops and put them in a small roasting dish, just big enough to hold them. Over the top squeeze a fresh orange and a fresh lemon, and scatter a crushed clove of garlic over. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a glass of white wine (or sherry is fine) and a couple of tablespoons of red wine vinegar.  Cover with clingfilm and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours, anything up to overnight is fine.

When you are ready to cook them, top with an ounce or two of butter and a chopped fresh tomato, and cook for around 35 minutes at a moderate temperature, basting occasionally. Do not cover the pan.

In the meantime, you can make a bulghur pilaff using the same cracked wheat that makes perfect tabouleh salad.  Fry a finely chopped onion until soft and golden in olive oil, then add one cup of bulghur wheat, half a teaspoonful of stock powder, and a sprinkling of your favourite herb (I like thyme) and 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil with a lid on, then turn the heat down and cook for around 10-15 mins until nearly all the stock is absorbed.  Turn the heat off and allow the wheat to sit until all the liquid has gone, and the wheat is fluffy.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Pasta with Tenderstem® broccoli, garlic and anchovies

It has suddenly turned hot. Long, slow-cooked meaty dinners don't seem right at the moment, so this plate really hits the spot. It is quick, light and very very tasty. So long as you like anchovies :)

First put the pasta on, any you like, penne is good, but I prefer spaghetti for this.  Roughly 250 g for two people.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, about 5 minutes before it will be finishied, put a thin layer of olive oil in a frying pan, and gently soften a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic (or the cheat's way, one of those little frozen icecube sizes ready chopped garlic you can get. Or a teaspoon of one of the bottled chopped garlics. All are fine) and then mash in 4 or 5 anchovy fillets. You want the anchovies to start to melt down into the oil. 

Flake or grate some parmesan and put it to one side.

Chop up a pack of Tenderstem® broccoli ( or ordinary calabrese if you prefer, but I do like the long stems - they keep more of a bite), keeping the stems separate from the florets. Add the chopped stems to the pan, and add half a coffee cup of water from the pasta. Let that simmer for a couple more minutes, and then add the florets - by now it should be about 2 or 3 minutes before the pasta should be cooked, when most of the liquid will have been absorbed.

Before you drain the pasta, add about a coffee cup of the pasta water to your broccoli frying pan, and shake the pan to mix with the oil to make a sauce. Check for salt, but with the salty water from the pasta, and the salty anchovies I doubt you will need any.

Drain the pasta, and add to the frying pan. Toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.  Split into two dishes and sprinkle the parmesan over the top.

Nice with a rocket and romaine lettuce salad on the side.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Fregola salad with chicken

Did you miss me?

I have been busy having 2 operations one after the other, but I am well now, so back to the dinner suggestions for you...

This is a lovely summery plate. Fregola is an Italian (Sardinian actually) pasta that looks like couscous but is toasted and in my view tastier.  You simply cook it in vegetable stock for around 10-12 minutes until nice and tender, and then you can either serve it hot, or drain it and toss with vinaigrette and vegetables for a fabulous salad.

The veg aren't that important, use whatever you fancy, or have around - you want something nice and crunchy to balance the softness of the pasta, and something with a little sweetness is good too.  I used:

Shredded carrot
Defrosted frozen peas - not cooked, just defrosted. They are blanched before freezing so cooked just enough like that.
Sliced radishes
Chopped red onion
Snipped spring onions
Sliced green olives 

On a bed of romaine lettuce, with a little bit of proteinous crunchy skinned roast chicken thigh to the side.

The salad will keep for several days so make sure to make enough for very easy dinners.

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.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Chinesed up leftover Portuguese Pork

There is no way to give this a definitive name... it is simply a delicious, fast recipe to use up the other half of the Portuguese Roast Pork - or any other left over roast meat. 

I sliced up the pork, and popped it in a bowl with some sliced garlic and a couple of slugs of hoisin sauce. Then stirfried some sliced carrots , sliced celery, slivered sweet onions, slivered fresh ginger  and sliced red peppers, added some ready cooked udon noodles and oyster sauce. That topped some boiled rice, and then the pork was heated up in the same wok until it was hot and sizzly. Pour it over the top of the veggies,  add some coriander and then straight down my throat....dinner in the time it took the rice to cook.

Portuguese Style Roast Pork with a Citrus Marinade

Such a long time since I cooked this, but it is so good cold as well as hot, perfect now the days are getting warmer and we will be eating more salads.

The recipe for this comes from a brilliant book of Portuguese Homestyle Cooking by Ana Patuleia Ortins that I have had for a long time, this and some other pork and beef roast recipes are delicious in their use of citrus juice, wine and vinegar as a marinade.

For this, I took the rind of a small pork loin joint, popped it fat side down in a small roasting tray, and rubbed it all over with garlic paste and a little salt - either ready made or just pound a couple of cloves with salt in a mortar and use the resulting paste. Then pour over the juice of an orange and a lemon, about half a wine glass of wine or sherry and a good glug of wine vinegar. Put this in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours.

When it is ready to cook, top with a chopped tomato (or several cherry tomatoes, whatever you have to hand) and dot all over with butter.

Roast in a hot oven for normal pork cooking time of 25 mins per pound or until juices run pale pink or clear with you test it with a skewer.  Let it rest for a few minutes whilst you deglaze the pan with a little water (I used some of the water from cooking the rice), and then serve cut in thick slices with rice and a salad.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Quesadilla for a quick lunch..

One left over tortilla. A spoonful of leftover peppers and onions from the fajitas. Same amount of guacamole.  Nice sprinkle of Emmental cheese. Bit of home made ricotta. Slurp of yoghurt soured cream..

Quesadilla para el almuerzo :) 

Texicana week! Chicken Fajitas and Chile con Carne

I was so lucky to have some samples of proper Mexican spices, sauces and chili powders sent to me from La Costeña

but I realised I hadn't cooked TexMex for a long long time, let alone proper Mexican dishes -- they are different in lots of ways, most of the things we think of as Mexican (unless from a proper Mexican restaurant) are really TexMex.

So I kicked off the Texicana with chicken fajitas - which would properly be made with steak I believe - and an old favourite chili con carne. (Recipes on the way on A Greedy Piglet. Link should be live in a day or so )

Chicken Fajitas:


Open so you can see what is in there..... LOTS of stuff! There's chicken, and sweet peppers, and onions, and guacamole, and freshly soured cream, and home made ricotta and tomatillo salsa... oh it is good....

Chili con carne:

Now to a true Texas chilihead, this is doubtless a travesty... it transgresses most (if not all) of the rules for a proper Texican Chili Cook Off... in particular, it has beans and it has minced beef. The tomatoes are controversial too. in fact, there is a HUGE amount of nitpicking about chili.. or chile... or chilli ... this will give you a taste of what I mean.

But come on, if you were a student from about 1970 on, this is going to be so familiar... and it still tastes as delicious now as it did then.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Beef and Paprika Stew with more of Those Dumplings...

Lovely lovely dumplings.. winter food do you say?  Not for a lovely Spring evening like yesterday?

Oh go on... you know you want to......