Oven

Week 83: Egg Stuffed Tomatoes

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.

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Week 64: Gardeners Pie

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.

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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.

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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.

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Serve with some leftover meat and some freshly cooked stink bombs sprouts and enjoy before dozing off infront of a repeat on telly.

 

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Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)

good granny

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 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

Week 26: Merzuez with Halloumi and Flame-Roasted Peppers

Here is a recipe that takes longer to say the title than it does to prepare.

This is a very simple recipe from Nigella Express, the page before my favourite Curry in a Hurry (from Week 8 http://wp.me/p42Dr4-O). To make this for four you will need 8 Merguez (or spicy sausages 340g-ish) 250g block halloumi cheese, 220g jarred flame-roasted peppers, 1 tablespoon of garlic oil.

I had  bit of a mission trying to find the ingredients; it was Monday and my usual butcher was shut.  Off to the big Sainsbury’s I went like a fool.  Sainsbury’s in Chiswick don’t sell Merguez sausages, but they sold spicy pork sausages.  I picked up a pack and went to the butcher’s counter and asked if they were like Merguez – a simple enough question – and the butcher looked at the pack and said:

“I don’t know sir, I’m not a sausage expert”

Off I went to my back-up butcher (who opens when mine is shut) and they had proper lamb Merguez, although they were quite small so I bought six… can’t have enough sausage haha!  I also had a little trouble finding garlic oil – after coming up blank in Sainsbury’s, I googled how to make my own and up popped Nigella’s website which told me that making your own garlic infused Olive Oil was actually a Botulism risk.  So I used olive oil instead.

Enough waffle!  To make this dish start off by turning your oven on to 220c/gas 7 (alter if you have a fan oven) and dust off your low-sided roasting tin.  Put the sausages in the tin:

Cut up the halloumi into 5mm slices and put them in the pan, then cut up the peppers and throw them in too.

Drizzle with oil (I only put a little on, the peppers are pretty oily) and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

While its cooking I would recommend preparing some sort of rocketty salad, or come cous cous to soak up the oil.  I forgot, but my friend made it with salad and really liked it.

When its done in the oven the halloumi should have coloured in places – my ovens pretty fierce so it burned a little, but I think that added to the flavour!

I like this, and I really liked how simple it was to make, but my lover isn’t keen on halloumi so I’m not allowed to make it again!  Can’t win them all.

 

Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

Week 21: Aubergine, tomatoes, chickpeas

This is a dish that has completely exposed my lack of culinary knowledge.

In my mind I skipped into the kitchen to create a magical roast aubergine on a tomato-y, chickpea-y bed of loveliness.  Actually, it made a slightly spicy version of ratatouille; I had completely skimmed over the line “Like many dishes of its kind (ratatouille, for one)…” and kept the vision of the big meaty spatchcocked aubergine in my mind.

Somehow I held on to my mental image long after I cubed the aubergine… The recipe is another from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls: Three Good Things on a Plate.  I was hoping it would be as tasty as Lentils, spinach, potato (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/week-20-lentils-spinach-potato/) without stinking my house out.

To go with the 650-700g of aubergines (egg plants), the recipe calls for sunflower/rapeseed/olive oil, a cinnamon stick, 350g cherry tomatoes, pinch of chilli flakes, a tin of chickpeas (400g drained and rinsed), 2 garlic cloves and the finely grated zest of one lemon.  As usual, I completely forgot to buy basil or mint leaves.

One thing I didn’t notice when I started cooking this at 7pm was that in total this dish takes over an hour in the oven (200c/gas 6), plus another fifteen minutes cooling time.  My lover’s force ten hunger nearly caused a disturbance to passing aircraft, and I ended up lobbing biscuits at him for the last half hour of cooking.

To start off, heat the oil and then toss the seasoned ( salt and pepper) aubergine chunks into the oil with the cinnamon stick, and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Add the cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes, and roast for another 20 minutes.  Drain the chickpeas and chop the garlic up small and put it back in the oven for the final 10 minutes.

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Grate the lemon zest and stir it in and leave to cool for 15 minutes.  I served on warm pittas but Hugh also recommends rice and green salad (which I also forgot to buy)

I can’t tell if it was the hanger talking, but halfway through his plate of aubergine-y ratatouille my lover turned to me and said “don’t make this again.”  A bit harsh I think… it was ok, I wasn’t crazy about it, but maybe with a nice steak or some chicken/duck and a peppery salad it would be lovely.  If I make it again it will either be for my mother  or if I ever do a hot buffet.  Sorry Hugh.

 

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

Week 6: Toad in the Hole

I would just like to say that before I made Toad in the Hole for the sixth New Recipe Night, I had never eaten it before and didn’t know what it should look like.  Like most Beano reading children of the 80s, I had heard of it – I had just assumed it was made with actual toad.

The idea for making it wasn’t mine – my Lover decided he wanted something more traditional after choking back the gorgonzola pasta in week five.  I had to dig deep into my stock of cookery books to find a recipe for Toad in the Hole – and I found one in Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “Good Granny Cookbook”

good granny

I’ve moved house with this book so many times, and I couldn’t remember for the life of me when or where I’d bought it… it just seems to be a book that appeared from nowhere.  Like the title suggests, it’s a book of traditional meals that every schoolboy (now in his 60s) grew up eating in pre-spaghetti Britain.  Many of the meals even I had not eaten since primary school!

Now I’ve christened the book I think I should make a few more.

The first thing I learned about Toad in the Hole is that it does not contain toads.  I’d imagine the die hard foodie could source sausages made from toads, but I just got good quality pork ones from the butchers.  I halved the recipe and just followed the instructions as written.

To make for 4 you will need: 8 sausages, 2 tablespoons of oil (sunflower/vegetable oil) 125g plain flour, 3 whole eggs and 1 egg white, 300ml milk, and salt and pepper.

Like with pancakes you need to make the batter mix about half an hour before you need it.  Put the flour, eggs and milk into a bowl and whisk – get lots of bubbles into it, then season and whisk a bit more.

Turn the oven on to 220c (200 fan) and put the oil into a baking tin – obviously not a loose bottomed one – I use one of those enameled tins that I butter up the sides.  Put the tin of oil on a tray and put it into the oven – and make sure your oven shelves are set so there is space for the Toad in the Hole to rise.

The only criticism I have is that one of the key instructions is a little vague.  It says “Add the sausages and cook for a few minutes or more until the fat runs and they are lightly browned.” I’m not a good enough cook to realise that this means to make sure the sausages are pretty well cooked – which in my case was about 20 minutes.

To speed things up I start the sausages up in a frying pan and then put them in the oil in the oven for about 10 minutes until the sausage juice starts to run.  Then pour the batter in and put back in the oven for 20 minutes.

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Serve before it deflates!

My first ever Toad in the Hole came out surprisingly well.  I made it a second time with Merguez Sausages – but it was much nicer with traditional British Butcher’s Bangers.

I will make it again, but before I do I want to get a non stick pan – because while my pie tin is about the right size for two portions; it’s such a fight to get the hole off that it sinks by the time it reaches the plate.

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Served with a blob of Sainsbury’s ketchup.  Yum!

Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)

Week 2. Spanish-Style Chicken Bake

In a fat moment I bought the Hairy Dieters book.

I don’t know why, I was stopping at my parents’ and my dad’s a fussy eater and won’t eat spicy food, so I couldn’t make any of the recipes while I was there.  So it went into a book box.

Hairy Dieters

My cousin recommended that I try this recipe, she said it was one of her regulars, so after a few trips gathering ingredients and braving the butcher’s shop (and asking the hot butcher if he’d mind boning my thighs.  We both blushed), I gave it a go.

I had to do a spot of maths to halve the recipe (to serve two) because I wasn’t sure if I’d be OK reheating the chicken.  Because of this I used one red onion instead of half a red and half a normal onion. I think I also used the whole pepper rather than have half sitting around my tiny fridge.

It takes an hour in the oven, so if you’re not usually home until seven it may be best to make this at the weekend.  I’d never had to spoon hot juices back over food I’ve been cooking, and I was a bit apprehensive that I was going to pour it all over my wrist. Also my Cath Kidston oven gloves aren’t actually heatproof.

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It was nice, and as it contains potatoes and veg you don’t need to make any other things to go with it.  The book says its only 370 calories per portion – which I guess varies slightly depending on the size of your thighs…

I’ve not made it since, but I will – it just takes a lot of ingredients and time to make.  The chicken was lovely from the butcher’s, but I’m not sure how it would taste with supermarket chicken (probably the same)

The Hairy Dieters by Dave Myers and Si King (Weidenfield & Nicholson/Orion 2012 ISBN: 978 0 297 86905 4)