Month: November 2014

Week 60: Chorizo and Chickpea Stew

It was definitely the week for stew, I don’t think it stopped raining, and we wanted something hearty… We had Nigella out on the side and my lover picked this, and chickpeas are kind of hearty?

To make this for four you will need: 50g vermicelli, 500g bulgar wheat, teaspoon of cinnamon, sea salt, bay leaves, 350g chorizo, amontillado sherry, 100g soft dried apricots, 2 400g tins of chickpeas, 2 400g tins cherry tomatoes, pepper, and coriander (which I missed off)

If you use the full amount of bulgar wheat you’ll be able to feed an army, I used half the amount just for me and him and there was enough left over to feed four more.

This is really quick to make, which is most unlike a stew.  Start by warming 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a thick bottomed pan, when it’s warmed to about medium throw in the pasta and fry until they look like little bits of slightly scorched straw.

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Add the bulgar wheat and stir for two minutes then add the cinnamon, 2tsp of salt, a litre of water and two bay leaves. Bring to the boil then turn it down to the lowest heat and leave (lidded) to absorb for about 15 minutes.

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Cut the chorizo into coins and then cut them in half.  Heat a second heavy bottom pan and fry the chorizo until the orange juice runs out. Add 4 tablespoons of the sherry and let it bubble for a minute or two.  Wash the chickpeas and cut up the apricots and throw them in with the canned tomatoes, half fill each tomato tin with water, swill it round then pour it in to the pan. Turn the heat up high and bubble for 5 minutes.  I completely forgot about the water, but i don’t think it affected it much.

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By now the bulgar wheat should be done, so turn the gas off and give it a fork around to loosen it up, then serve with the stew and an artistic sprinkling of corriander.

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I’m not entirely sure what was wrong with it, but it just didn’t quite work in my mouth. I don’t like baked beans (never have, I know weird right?) and the tomatoes and chickpeas tasted a bit baked-bean-y for me. Also, it was a bit sweet for my sour tooth (I think next time I’d leave out the apricots) and I had to slum it with posh chorizo from Waitrose and they went really rubbery, and I’ve decided that I don’t like cinnamon in bulgar wheat… So it wasn’t the most successful meal I’ve ever made… But I’m sure you’ll love it!

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I thought I’d pop it in for this weeks Fiesta Friday – just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not great for a cosy winter ‘do’. Chin chin!

 

Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2010, ISBN 9780701184605)

Nigella Kitchen

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Week 59: Chicken, Tomatoes, Tarragon

Did I mention that the weather had turned? It has, it’s gone really nippy round our way. This week I was instructed to make something meaty and cosy.  I don’t think I’ve used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things on a Plate for a few months, after the beany-kale thing, but the funny smell cleared and for some reason the ‘meat and two veg’ chapter appealed to me…

This is a dish that could feed the masses, it calls for a full chicken, but I wasn’t sure about eating it for a full week when I didn’t know if I liked tarragon. I reckon I could joint the chicken though if I were to cook this for 6-8; I saw Fanny Craddock do it with a pair of secateurs.

To serve 6-8 you will need: a chicken (1.8kg-ish jointed into 8 pieces, skin and bone on), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 glass of white wine, juice of half a lemon, 500g ripe tomatoes and a bunch of tarragon. Unfortunately I had a slight chicken fail, I couldn’t get hold of any chicken pieces with the skin and bones on, so I got a pack of thighs instead.  Ho hum.

Turn the oven on to 190/gas 6 and heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan to a medium-high-ish heat.  While these are heating up rub salt and pepper into the chicken pieces.  Sear the chicken pieces in the frying pan until they are golden brown all over, then put them in an oven dish.  While these are browning squeeze the juice out of the half lemon.

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Pour half a glass of white wine into the pan, giving it all a good scrape around the bottom to loosen any chicken from the bottom. Pour into the chicken dish, then add the lemon juice and some more salt and pepper. Foil over the dish and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

If you’re having this with mash then you’ll need to prepare the potatoes before the thirty minutes is up (and if you’re having it with brown rice you should probably have put the rice on this morning sometime). Also, you’ll need to quarter the tomatoes.

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When the 30 minutes is up take the dish from the oven, remove the foil and add the tomatoes (cut side up, snuggling with the chicken pieces) and put them back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes (uncovered)

Check the chicken pieces are cooked and then scatter the chopped up tarragon leaves over the top.  Toss everything around to mix in the tarragon and then leave it to stand for a few minutes while the flavours infuse together. Serve.

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I would definitely make this again, and I would even make it for other people. I was a little worried about the tarragon because I don’t like aniseed, but it wasn’t strong so I really liked it! I’m not very good with  portion control, I accidentally made more than would usually be seen in an episode of Bodger & Badger and I was a little worried that the plates wouldn’t make it to the table… But they did! Hurrah!

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I think I could have put a little more wine and lemon juice in because there wasn’t much sauce, maybe a smaller dish would have kept the moisture in?  Yum!

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Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 58: Aglio Dorato – Garlic & Tomato Sauce

So here’s a turn up for the books – this week I had my 5000th viewer – which is pretty darn impressive for a year of slightly burned food and bad smells. So thank you for visiting, and coming back for more, it’s great – and to celebrate I will tell you all about the really horrible  meal I cooked at the weekend…

I was pretty intrigued by the concept of a ‘jazzed-up tomato sauce’, I’ve almost made this recipe before, but it takes a bit too long to make after work so it’s waited until now.  I liked the idea of being able to keep the sauce for a few weeks in the fridge, which would be ideal for later work nights.

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To feed two people you will need: 200g spaghetti, 250ml olive oil (yes really) 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes (squash them in a colander until you’ve just got pulp – like in the tomatoey pasta), 10 cloves of garlic (peeled but left whole), and salt and pepper to season.

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Gently heat the oil in a small pan for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic when the oil is warm.  The book says to keep the heat low so that the oil doesn’t spoil. I’m not entirely sure that this isn’t where I went wrong; my hob is a bit of a flamethrower!  After 20 minutes check the garlic cloves are really tender (give them another 10 minutes if they’re not) and then carefully add the squashed up tomatoes. Turn up the heat slightly and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Take the pan off the heat and cool for about 10 minutes.  Transfer the mix to your trusty  food processor and blend into a smooth emulsion.  It’s a little tricky because I found that almost immediately the sauce separated into oil and not-oil which turned out to be a nuisance when it came to the next bit.  Cook the pasta like how it says on the packet, and then drain it really briefly so it’s still a little dampened return it to the cooking pan and add 4-5 table spoons of the sauce and give it a toss.

Serve with Parmesan, and pour the rest of the sauce into a thingie and put it in the fridge.

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I wasn’t entirely sure what to think about this, I thought the garlic seemed very subtle, maybe too subtle for my bawdy palette – and then my lover put his fork down and said “it’s just a load of tasteless oil”

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That was me told. It wasn’t very nice, and even the next day when I poured off a bit of the oil and it was more tomatoey it just tasted a bit ‘crisp-n-dry-ish’. Also, I was slightly worried about Botulism from the garlicky oil, but it’s been a few days and nothing’s developed.

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There could have been loads of things I did wrong, like not using good enough oil or not garlicky enough garlic, or it might have been too hot, but it wasn’t very tasty so I don’t think I’ll make it again.  Oh well!

 

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

cupboard love

Week 57: Hockey Puck Meatloaf

Its been a while since I started a post saying how I’d never had suchandsuch, and now I’m saying it again – until I made this I had never had meatloaf. Sometimes when I was growing up my mum would open a tin of corned beef and call it meatloaf, but we weren’t convinced.

The weather has finally turned autumnal here in London; I think it was the threat of one last salad finally made the temperatures plunge. And the meatloaf was pretty perfect for a cold November evening.  This is the first time I’ve used this book, it had been on the coffee table for ages and I’d assumed it was from the library. It’s not, my lover bought it cheap in Smiths.  It’s the second edition of the Hairy Bikers Mums Know Best book, the first edition served me well for many years (mostly to lean on and stuff)

To make a loaf big enough for 4-6 you will need 1kg of mince, a large red onion, 2 slices of bread, 3tbsp of tomato ketchup, 1 egg, 2 tbsp brown sauce, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 50g grated Parmesan, 1 tbsp chopped oregano, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp milk, salt & pepper.  The book also gives a recipe for potato salad to go with it, but my lover looked at it and said he’d make his babushka’s. If I knew the recipe I couldn’t tell you, it’s a secret and my lover would have kill us all…

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Its the easiest recipe to make. Put the oven on to 180c (gas 4), chop the onion and the parsley, and blitz the bread in to crumbs. In a bowl mix all the ingredients together, if it’s a bit wet add more crumbs.

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Line a loaf tin with some greaseproof and lob it in the oven for 50-60 minutes (slightly less if you halved the mix like I do) the centre should be firm when it comes out the oven.

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Cut off a slice or two and serve with potato salad. Then again cold the next day.

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My first meatloaf experience was actually pretty delicious – sort of like a beefy sausage roll with no pastry or nostrils.  It was great with the potato salad, but I guess I could be virtuous and have it with a spot of veg.  I was more puck-like cold, but some how nicer for that – it felt healthier because the fat had cooled, but I was slightly worried it would crack the plates!  This is definitely one to make again.

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The Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook Mums Still Know Best (by Si King & Dave Myres Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN: 978 1 4072 3380 2)

mums still know best