I genuinely love the book, right from the moment I first found it in TK Maxx in 2012. It’s so well presented, and inventive, and all the dishes look delicious. Other than an unsuccessful batch of scones I’ve never actually cooked anything, until now.
Wham! And the dinners cooked! It’s been a while since I stir-fried anything, despite getting my wok out all the time. We went off to a wedding at the weekend, and needed to have one last healthy meal so I could button my jacket! And no carbs so I was bound to loose 9 stone over night. The pictures are a bit blurry this time, I was a tiny bit drunk when I got round to cooking…
So this week when it came to choosing a new recipe to cook all my wild ideas of reaching for Madha Jaffery or the Wagamama’s book were hampered by my lover having a massive stomach ache, which was caused by lashings of gin. (more…)
You’re probably sick of turkey, after many many portions of it over the last month. I think we’re far enough passed twelfth night to be done with leftovers, even if you had a bird the size of a small car on the 25th. (more…)
Boxing day is always a day for leftovers. Even the poisoner has some spare after Christmas dinner. Rather than some charred bubble and squeak I thought this recipe from the Good Granny Cookbook might save the day. Gardener’s Pie was originally a wartime creation to help people stomach a load of veg, instead of the shepherd they’d usually cook under a layer of fluffy mash. Pretty Christmassy eh?
The recipe uses a load of spare raw veg, but I’d imagine it’d work just as well with cooked cold veg – I think you’d just have to cook it until it was hot, rather than until it was cooked; if that makes sense?
To make this for 6 you will need 1kg of mixed winter veg (I used a leek, an onion, a carrot, a parsnip, and half a small cabbage – but the recipe also suggests celery, swede, cauliflower and Jerusalem artichokes), olive oil, stock, salt & pepper, 900g floury potatoes, 50g butter, 400ml milk, and 115g grated cheese.
Set the oven at 200 and start boiling the potatoes, and in a wide shallow pan heat 2tbs of olive oil. Throw the veg in and turn them in the oil until they start to colour. Add enough stock/water to stop the veg sticking. If you’re using leftovers you can use less stock/water as you only need to warm the veg through rather than cook it from scratch.
Stir occasionally until the liquid has evaporated. The veg should be slightly crunchy (it won’t be if it’s leftover, unless you fried it for slightly longer… Oh I should have said that earlier) season with salt and pepper and pour the veg into your pie dish. It should seem a little dry, that’s ok though cos the moisture should come out of your veg in the oven.
I slightly disagree with the recipe for the potatoes, to my mind there’s far too much milk and it makes it more like a soup. Mash the potatoes with milk (to taste) butter (of course) and cheese (controversial, but since when did Boxing Day become a diet day?) I’d also add a teaspoon of mustard powder or a big slosh of Lea & Perrins. Plop the mash on top of the veg and scribe pretty/offensive patterns with a fork/dagger.
The recipe is rather vague when it comes to the oven bit, but vagues OK if you have a hangover like I usually do on boxing day. Basically, when you’ve finished sculpting the mash over the top of the veg pop it in the oven until the potato goes brown. In my oven this took about 15 minutes.
Serve with some leftover meat and some freshly cooked
stink bombs sprouts and enjoy before dozing off infront of a repeat on telly.
Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)
I know, I know, I know. It’s December, cook sommat festive you fool. I wish I had actually, cos here’s a thing Mr Oliver didn’t mention: Fenugreek stinks. And lingers. I’m not even being a bit precious for my tiny flat here, it’s been two nights since I made it and it still scrapes at my eyeballs in the style of a chemical attack when my cold and I came back to the flat tonight. And I had a massive dirty three-pan fry-up last night which I thought would’ve got rid of it…
The moral of this pre-christmas story is: if you can’t find fenugreek, don’t start pounding the leafy streets of West London to find a fenugreek tree to harvest; shrug and forget about it – this curry is delicious and probably won’t miss it.
So anyway, to make this for for you will need: an onion, a clove of garlic, a thumb sized piece of ginger, 2 fresh chillies, a red pepper (de-seeded), a bunch of coriander, rapeseed oil (I couldn’t find that so I used sunflower), fresh curry leaves (I used dry), 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1tsp mustard seeds, 300g dried red lentils, 1 400g tin coconut milk, 200g baby spinach, and 700ml boilingwater.
That’s just for the daal, for the salad you will need: 500g ripe mixed-colour tomatoes, a lemon, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp mustard seeds, and two cloves of garlic. Serve with naan bread and some yoghurt.
Somehow I managed to get this done in about 20-25 minutes, mostly by having a sous chef. It all took quite a while in the blender which definitely took me over the 15 minutes, I didn’t cut the bits up small enough.
Turn on a large casserole pan high and the oven on 130c. Chuck the onion (peeled and cut up a bit), the garlic and ginger, the chillies, pepper, corriander stalks, and after seasoning with some salt and pepper blitz it until it’s all chopped up small.
When that’s done put a tablespoon of oil into the pan with the curry leaves, turmeric, fenugreek (don’t) and mustard seeds. Stir it up, add the blitzed veg and fry for a couple of minutes then add the lentils, the tin of coconut milk, and 700ml boiling water. Bring to the boil and stir regularly.
Naans in the oven and put the frying pan on low. Halve all the tomatoes, thinly slice half of the lemon (including the skin), and crush 2 cloves of garlic if you don’t have one of those fancy garlic crushers. Add 1tbs oil, the chopped lemon slithers, 1tsp mustard seeds, the garlic and squeeze the other half of the lemon over the mix. Toss the tomatoes round the pan and serve in a posh bowl.
The daal should have thickened by now so add the spinach and stir until it’s wilted. Get yer naans out and plate up your daal.
I’m not entirely sure if I’d make it again, it was lovely but I hadn’t planned on it doubling as a chemical weapon – which has also given me a vicious pre-christmas cold. I wouldn’t make the tomatoey bit again, it was OK – good for a different texture, but I wasn’t a fan of the lemony bits.
So next week is Boxing Day – don’t even think about getting your bubble and squeak on until you’ve read new recipe night! Merry Christmas!!
Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver (Penguin 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15780-7)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)
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…
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.
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.
Cut off a slice or two and serve with potato salad. Then again cold the next day.
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.
The Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook Mums Still Know Best (by Si King & Dave Myres Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN: 978 1 4072 3380 2)
I remember being a schoolboy back in the 90s and pasta sauces were becoming a thing. My Mum (known as the poisoner), decided that we should have pasta with everything. Some nights it was with fish fingers (yep), some particularly terrible nights it was pasta and quorn escalopes (no sauce), and then she discovered Ragu.
I’ve been avoiding this recipe for the last year because to my poor scarred mind Ragu is slimey lukewarm tomatoish sauce over some slightly wet pasta. And to be honest, I would probably still be avoiding it if my lover hadn’t told me to make it. I still wasn’t everso keen on the idea until my lover said that Gino D’acampo was on the radio and said that you don’t need to eat Ragu with pasta, and it should be really meaty – so I was sold! Hurrah!
To make this for four you will need: garlic oil, 125g pancetta (cubed), 500g lamb mince, 75g caramelised onions, 80ml Marsala (I used some leftover white wine), 400g tin chopped tomatoes, 75g green lentils, and 50g grated Red Leicester cheese. Nigella recommends using caramelised onions from a jar, but I couldn’t find it and had to make my own by finely chopping an onion and slowly frying it with butter and a bit of sugar.
I’m going to track down a jar of these onions before I make it again, and also see if the lentils come in a jar like capers – just to cut down on waste.
Firstly heat 2 tablespoons of garlic oil in a medium saucepan (with lid) and fry the pancetta until it starts to go crispy, then add the lamb (break it up as you stir it around while it browns)
Add the caramelised onions, the Marsala, the tin of tomatoes, the lentils, and 125ml of water, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes then serve with grated cheese.
It was really tasty – good thing too cos half went in the freezer – next time I make it I’ll simmer it for slightly longer or at a slightly higher temperature so there’s less juice, but all in all I’d say Nigella’s Rapid Ragu was a success. Hurrah!
Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)
Gosh well there’s a flash name for ‘Chilli, Basil and Almond Sauce’ but if you can’t wave a bit of italian around the kitchen every now and again what can you do? This recipe is from my beloved Cupboard Love book, and Tom Norrington-Davies thinks Picci Pacci might mean something like ‘this and that’.
The recipe does indeed involve putting a bit of everything in, I saw that it had almonds in and was sold. I was hoping that it would be a quick after work pasta fest like the fishy pasta (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/week-9-linguine-with-sardines-anchovies-and-parsley/) or the tomato-ey pasta (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/week-35-spaghetti-and-tinned-plum-tomatoes/) but it wasn’t as such. The actual cooking is instant, but it needs time to steep for a couple of hours.
For two people you will need: 200g spaghetti/linguine, 50g blanched almonds, 400g tin peeled tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of chopped basil (or parsley, I used parsley), 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (I used balsamic) half teaspoon salt, pinch of sugar, half a teaspoon dried crushed chilli flakes.
To start drain the tinned tomatoes into a sieve or strainer and squeeze out all the juice, just like on the tomato-ey pasta. Put the pulp into a bowl with 3 tablespoons olive oil, the finely chopped garlic, the basil/parsley, vinegar, salt, sugar, and chilli flakes; stir it all together and leave to steep for an hour or two.
Heat the oven to a medium heat and toast the almonds for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then chop them up (50 grams looks a lot for two people, but I found I ate loads of them before they got anywhere near the table.
Cook the pasta as recommended on the packet (use good quality pasta) then drain it, return it to the pan and stir the sauce in straight away. Plate up and sprinkle the almonds over them.
While this has a total cooking time of about 20-25 minutes the steeping makes it a bit of an effort for a work night. I’m not sure how the sauce would cope steeping a whole day outside the fridge, and away in the fridge would make it too cold to stir into the pasta with being heated. But it is so delicious I would definitely make it on the weekend, and should you. YUM!
Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)