Monthly Archives: November 2015

Chicken with Mushrooms and Soured Cream

I did this for friends who were coming to supper. The original plan was to have fish but their son, Ali (you know who you are!) doesn’t eat fish so our planned meal had to be quickly revised. I found this recipe and just wasn’t sure about the soy sauce and sherry thing going on – I couldn’t imagine how it was all going to taste. Persuaded by John and the fact that we had all the ingredients, I went ahead, somewhat apprehensively. Imagine my delight when it turned out simply wonderfully. My only problem that evening was that I hadn’t cooked enough – we all wanted seconds. Never one to be accused of small portions, the following recipe will feed four hungry people. Try it, love it and add it to your autumn and winter favourites list!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 1 large baking dish (mine is 30cm x 20cm x 7cm deep)

1 kg chicken thighs

2 teaspoons paprika

Splash rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons plain flour

500ml hot chicken stock (I dissolved 2 Knorr stock pots into 500ml water)

300g brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

150g wild mushrooms, rinsed

5 teaspoons sweet sherry

4 teaspoons soy sauce

125ml soured cream

 What to do…

Preheat oven to 170°c / 325°f/ gas 3.

Lightly butter (going off the word ‘grease’) your baking dish.

Sprinkle the paprika evenly over the chicken thighs.

Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan and fry the chicken on both sides until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove to the baking dish, fitting them in together snugly in a single layer. Season lightly.

To the frying pan juices, add the onion and garlic and sauté lightly. Tip in the flour and mix it in evenly. Slowly add the hot stock, stirring continuously. When thickened, remove from the heat and then add the mushrooms, sherry and soy sauce. Add the soured cream slowly (to avoid curdling).

Pour over the chicken and bake, uncovered, for 90 minutes or until the sauce is a lovely, thick and bronzed. It’s quite simply gorgeous!

Serving suggestion…

Chicken with mushrooms and soured cream goes really well with boiled, seasoned basmati and wild rice

 Inspired by…

Lynn Bedford Hall, New Creative Cuisine and Helen, who introduced me to this old but fabulous book.

 How easy…

Really, really easy with the added benefit that you can clear up the cooking pots whist it does it’s thing in the oven – very relaxed cooking for superb results.

Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding

This delightful bread and butter pudding is based on the classic version but all dressed up! A gorgeous crunchy, slightly zesty top contrasts wonderfully with the soft, fluffy inside of light custard-soaked bread. So simple and so spectacular – it should definitely be a regular on the winter menu.

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

18 x 23cm baking dish, about 5cm deep, lightly buttered

6 slices bread from a large loaf

50g softened butter

2 rounded tablespoons thick cut orange marmalade

60ml milk (or Oatly if you want to cut down on dairy)

60ml double cream

3 large eggs

75g sugar

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

25g candied peel, finely chopped

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 180°c / 350° f / gas 4.

Generously butter the bread slices on one side, then spread the marmalade over three of them and put the other three slices on top, effectively creating marmalade sandwiches. Spread the rest of the butter across the top slice of each sandwich and cut each one into quarters to make little triangles.

Arrange the sandwiches, butter side up, overlapping each other and almost standing upright in the baking dish.

Whisk the milk, cream, eggs and sugar together and pour the mixture over the bread, ensuring that all the bread is moistened. Scatter the candied peel over the top with demerara sugar. Pop in the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until it’s puffy and golden – the smell as it’s cooking is absolutely divine.

Serve your marmalade bread and butter pudding straight away, perhaps with a little double cream.

I then leave what’s left over on the worktop to cool down before it goes in the fridge for the next day. However, the fact that I leave a teaspoon in it as well means that very little actually makes it to the fridge – it’s just too tempting!

 Tip…

Try different breads, rather than just plain white, especially those with added fruit.

 Inspired by…

Delia Smith

 How easy…

It couldn’t be easier: make a few marmalade sandwiches, a bit of whisking, a smidge of scattering and the job’s done!

 

Epic Hot Chocolate

I saw Jamie do this on television and was truly inspired – it tastes absolutely incredible – like the hot chocolate you hear about in the very best fairy tales! The recipe is for a large jar of the mix – I have no idea how many glorious mugs it will make, but it’s so easy to make, you can simply and quickly top it up if it’s running low, something that I think may happen quite regularly!

What you need for the mix…

1 x preserving/Kilner clip top glass jar

2 tablespoons Horlicks

2 tablespoons cornflour

3 tablespoons icing sugar

4 tablespoons quality cocoa

100g 70% dark chocolate, finely grated

1 pinch cinnamon

for two mugs…

1 pint milk or Oatly if you’re keeping your dairy intake low

What to do…

Pour milk into a large saucepan and bring almost to the boil on a medium heat.

Meanwhile, take a large jar and chuck in all the chocolate mix ingredients, clip on the lid and give the mix a really good shake – that’s it job done! For two gloriously, silky rich mugs of hot chocolate, tip 4 heaped tablespoons of the mix into the hot milk and use a balloon whisk and incorporate all the ingredients. Bring your epic hot chocolate gently to the boil and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, whisking all the time – it will get naughtily gloopy in a really, really good way.

Pour into two mugs, sit back with your feet up and enjoy – a few cookies on the side wouldn’t go amiss (these ones are Cranberry and White Chocolate – will post recipe in a couple of days).

Alternative serving suggestions…

This hot chocolate is excellent for the purpose of dunking cookies!

It is VERY rich, silky and thick so another lovely option is to serve your epic hot chocolate in little espresso cups

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How Easy…

Insanely

 

 

Light and Zesty Lemon Tart

A really light, creamy yet zesty, fresh version of this classic dessert, this lemon tart is quite simply, delightful. Seconds all round, please.

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x 23cm/9in shallow tart tin, with a removable base

1 x flat baking sheet

for the pastry

175g flour

Pinch of salt

100g butter, straight from the fridge

25g caster sugar

1 egg, separated: yolk in one cup and white in another

2 dessertspoons water

for the filling

3 eggs

125g granulated sugar

Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons

100ml double cream

What to do…

Grease your tart tin.

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour until the mixture is like crumbs. Add the sugar and gently mix in with a spatula. Beat the egg yolk and then tip into the mixture, stirring until the mixture sticks together. At this point add the water, one teaspoon at a time until the mixture comes together – you may not need the whole 2 dessertspoons.

Cover your working surface with cling film and then flour lightly. Roll out your pastry on the cling film until about 5mm thick, creating a circle as best you can. Cover with another piece of cling film and then slide a flat baking sheet underneath the whole lot to lift it and pop in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas 5.

Remove pastry from fridge and, keeping the pastry between the two pieces of cling film, gently roll it out until it’s about 3mm thick and large enough to line the bottom and sides of the prepared tart tin.

Remove the top piece of cling film and gently place the pastry upside down (cling film facing up) into the tin. Gently press into the edges and using your thumb, break off the pastry of the top edge of the tin to give a neat finish. Remove the cling film and pop the pastry into the freezer for 10 minutes.

The pasty needs to be blind-baked now so line it roughly with parchment paper, making sure the sides are also covered with the paper. Chuck in a load of baking beans (or dried pulses which can be used many times over) and blind-bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry feels dry.

Remove the paper and beans. Lightly beat your egg white and use it to brush over the pastry. Pop the pastry back in the oven for two minutes.

Take out of the oven and put to one side until you are ready to make your filling (this could be immediately, later on in the day or even the next day).

Set the oven to 120°c / 250°f / gas ½.

In a food processor, pop your eggs and sugar and whizz for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the lemon juice and zest and process for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and whizz for another 5 minutes.

Pour into the pastry case and pop it straight in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling has just set in the centre.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before taking the tart out of its tin and transferring to a pretty plate or cake stand. When it’s completely cool, dredge icing sugar over the top. Slice and serve your light and zesty lemon tart – it’s fresh and zingy, light and frankly, delightful!

Serving suggestion…

A little splash of double cream works wonderfully and this is a great dessert to serve with a ‘sticky’ dessert wine.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Well, at the time of first making this, I had never made my own pastry but I nervously followed that element of the recipe to the letter and ….it was too ‘short’. The second time, I adapted it and added more water and it was absolutely delightful. The lemon filling is quite heavenly and a dead easy – just a case of processing.

I do love this recipe, because the ‘tricky’ bit, i.e. the pastry, can be done in advance and the filling is dead easy.

Steak au Poivre

A classic I know but, oh how wonderful and totally indulgent – a real treat. I don’t eat steak much and have a growing concern about the amount of hormones pumped into livestock, so when we do occasionally have fillet (2 or 3 times a year, I feel the need to stress) we bypass the supermarket and visit butchers whose meat we know to be as happy and healthy as possible. The sensation as this fabulous meat alights your tongue – ahhh, worth a celebration all by itself!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 gorgeous fillet steaks, about 4cms thick

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

Splash of olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

Beef stock made from 1 stockpot (I use Knorr) dissolved into 400ml boiling water

1 tablespoon brandy/cognac

150ml soured cream

Salt for seasoning

What to do…

Prepare your steaks waaaaaay ahead of time if you want to optimise the flavours and textures. Start by crushing your peppercorns. You can use a pestle and mortar to do this or put them between 2 A4-sized pieces of cling film (on a board) and bash them with either a rolling pin or meat tenderiser).

Fillet doesn’t need tenderising. Instead, put a teaspoon of olive oil onto one side of each steak, spreading it evening over and then, using the heel of your hand, massage the steak – it needs no more than this. Then sprinkle over the crushed peppercorns, pressing them into the meat, saving just 2 teaspoons for use in the sauce. Flip the steaks over and repeat the process on the other side. Cover the steaks with cling film and set aside for several hours.

When you are ready to cook the steaks, get the sauce in order! Using a medium-sized saucepan, pour in your oil and add the shallots and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until they begin to brown. Add the beef stock and saved peppercorns. Add the brandy/cognac and continue simmering until the sauce is reduced by half – 4 – 5 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then, gradually add the soured cream, stirring continuously – if you add too much, too fast it will curdle so take your time. Once it’s all in, check the taste and season with salt; then put the sauce back on a low heat, whilst you cook the steaks.

For the steaks, take a heavy frying pan and pop it onto a very high heat. Dry fry them (remember, you’ve already rubbed oil into them) quickly for about 1 minute on each side, then lower the heat and cook them how you want them – rare, medium rare, well done etc. Lots of recipes quote timings on this but I’ve found that with steaks this thick, it’s easier to take a sharp knife and cut into the middle of the steaks whilst they are in the frying pan and just check them out!

When they are about there, spoon any cooking juices into the sauce and then serve these mouthwatering steaks immediately with their delicious sauce.

Serving Suggestion…

We like Steak au Poivre with mushrooms that have been cleaned and sliced and then fried in a combination of butter, truffle oil and salt. Potato Dauphinoise works spectacularly well with the peppercorn sauce and the wilted spinach is the token healthy green on the plate! Just yum, yum, yum!

Inspired by…

Well, Delia is partly responsible, as is saveur.com, the online version of the New York Times and my take on all of that…but also our local butcher, who explained to me how to treat the fillet steak with respect: massage only!

How easy…

It’s really very easy. The key is in having the time to do it in a relaxed fashion, which lets face it, is the only way – this meat is expensive and deserves time and respect to properly enjoy the well-earned results. Just find an excuse to indulge!

 

 

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta

Seafood with loadsa garlic in a rich tomatoey sauce with a distinctive fishy edge provided by lovely anchovies – a really wonderful autumn treat

Serves 4

What you need…

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon red chilli, chopped

A handful basil, shredded

3-4 anchovies

4 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 big glass white wine

Salt and black pepper

150-200g salmon fillet, cut into 2cm squares

A handful of each of the following cooked seafood (scallops, clams, prawns, squid, mussels)

180g raw prawns

Pasta shapes of your choice

What to do…

In a large saucepan, heat salted water to boiling point (for the pasta, in a little while).

In another saucepan, gently heat the oil with the garlic, chilli and anchovies and bring slowly to the boil, mashing up the anchovies as they heat up. Turn down to a low heat and add the tomatoes. When softened, season and then tip in the white wine, bring to the boil and simmer to cook off the alcohol.

At this point, pop your pasta into the boiling water – I use dried gluten-free (lighter on the digestive system) – it normally takes about 12 minutes to cook through.

Add the salmon fillet to your herbs and tomatoes and when cooked, chuck in the seafood and raw prawns. Cook on a gentle heat until the raw prawns have turned pink, the seafood is warm and, in the other pan, the pasta is cooked. Throw in the basil, stirring into the sauce so it’s evenly dispersed.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Mix the whole lot together and add more seasoning if necessary. Serve your lovely, garlicky-fragrant comfort scrumptious seafood pasta straight way and enjoy. It’s not a dish to eat quietly – a noisy family or slightly riotous friends are ideal.

Tip…

The quantities of seafood and salmon are vague because a lot has to do with personal taste – you may prefer more fish and less seafood or vice versa. Alternatively, you may not like mussels (my husband doesn’t) so the quantity of those needs to be reduced. Basically, pop in what you’re going to love eating!

I keep a selection of frozen chopped herbs in my freezer – Cooks Ingredients from Waitrose – makes cooking soooo easy: a shake of fresh herbs from the foil bag rather than teaspoons of this and that! In this recipe, the garlic, chilli and basil all come from those lovely foil bags!

Inspired by…

I kinda made this one up, but can promise you that it’s lovely.

How easy…

Simples!

Breakfast Boudins

Thank you Sue K. for sharing this recipe that appeared on the ‘buzzfeedtasty’ page on Facebook. These little breakfast lovelies are such treats and just a bit different. They were certainly a lovely start to our Sunday.

Makes 6

What you need…

Muffin tin, greased

Cookie cutter

3 slices bread

3 teaspoons Parmesan or Cheddar cheese, grated

6 rashers back bacon

6 eggs

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180°c / 350° f / gas 4.

Choose a cookie cutter that is the same size as the bottom of your muffin tin holes and cut six circles from your bread slices, nestling them snugly into the bottom of six of the holes.

Sprinkle a teaspoon of cheese into each one.

Dry-fry the bacon so that it’s only just cooked and remove from the pan, setting aside until it’s cool enough to handle. Wrap each rasher around the edge of each muffin hole and then break an egg into each one.

Season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.

Transfer your breakfast boudins to warm plates and take to your kitchen table, already laden with knives and forks, freshly squeezed orange juice, steaming coffee and the weekend newspapers. Bliss!

Inspired by…

www.facebook.com/buzzfeedtasty

How Easy…

Really easy – great for whipping up on a Saturday or Sunday morning whilst the coffee brews

Asparagus Tart with Brie and Capers Dressing

This is a lovely tart, ideal for sharing with friends as a starter or as a light but delicious lunch

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

1 baking sheet

500g ready-made puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

500g asparagus

250g Brie, sliced

Sea salt and black pepper

for the dressing

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons olive oil

A squeeze fresh lemon juice

What to do…

Roll out the pastry to a large rectangle, around 23cm x 30cm. Using a knife, score another rectangle 2.5cm inside the edge, without cutting right through the pastry. Brush the 2.5cm ‘frame’ with the beaten egg and place on a baking sheet. Chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Trim the asparagus to fit across the inside of the frame. Blanch for 3 minutes in boiling, salted water then, drain in a colander and ‘refresh’ with cold water. Set aside the asparagus in the colander.

Bake the pastry in the oven until lightly browned. Remove and then discard the top couple of layers of the inner (scored) rectangle to prevent having a ‘soggy bottom’ underneath the asparagus.

Arrange the asparagus inside the pastry frame, top with the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is gorgeously browned and the cheese has melted.

Mix together the dressing and drizzle over the tart.

That’s it – serve your asparagus tart with brie and capers dressing straight away and enjoy. A glass of crisp, dry white wine wouldn’t go amiss!

A Quick Aside…

The image shows the tart made for just two people, using half the ingredients – a lovely little mid-afternoon snack!

Inspired By…

Woman and Home magazine (torn out several years ago!)

How Easy…

Really very easy, especially as it looks and tastes so yummy!

 

Monkfish Roasted with Parma Ham and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A lovely dish that is easy to make, very easy on the eye and great tasting.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil

2 large handfuls of fresh basil

Olive oil

16-20 slices of Parma ham

4 x 200g/7oz monkfish tail fillets, trimmed

Sea salt and black pepper

Balsamic vinegar and rocket (optional, to serve)

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 200c/400f/gas 6. Place sun-dried tomatoes and half their flavoursome preserving oil in a food processor with all the basil and blend until smooth. While blending, add the remaining preserving oil to the paste until it’s nice and spreadable.

Take four A4-sized pieces of greaseproof paper. Rub some olive oil over each piece and lay about 4 slices of Parma ham snugly next to each other, on each piece of paper. Divide your paste into 4, smearing each quarter evenly over the ham. Then, place your monkfish fillets at one end, season, and, using the greaseproof paper as an aid to wrap the monkfish firmly in the Parma ham, fold and roll up. Slide the Parma ham-wrapped monkfish off the greaseproof paper onto an oiled baking tray (with sides as liquid will escape during cooking and make a right mess of the oven – been there, done that!). Roast for 15-20 minutes.

To serve your monkfish roasted with Parma ham and sun-dried tomatoes, either slice up or serve each portion whole, ideally with really buttery mashed potato. Garnish with drizzled balsamic vinegar over the fish and scattered rocket over the whole plate.

It’s quick, gorgeous and looks like it’s taken hours of slaving. Ideal for a dinner party as it can be prepared in advance, kept covered and refrigerated until you are ready to pop it in the oven; or for a family supper when you fancy something a little different.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How Easy…

Very easy and hardly any clearing up!

Warm Summer Fruits Pudding with Almonds

This is a proper winter-warming pudding, even though the first ingredient is summer fruits! It’s the perfect conclusion to a long, lingering Sunday Lunch and is immensely satisfying – only the Sunday papers and a doze needs follow…

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x pretty (because its for a pud) oven-proof dish, greased (mine is 20cms diameter and 10cms deep)

500g summer fruits (I buy frozen and let them defrost overnight)

175g caster sugar, plus ½ tablespoon

175g butter, room temperature

175g ground almonds

85g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 pears, unpeeled, cored and sliced

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 170°c / 325°f /gas 3

Tip your defrosted fruit into the ovenproof bowl and stir in the ½ tablespoon of caster sugar.

Tip all the other ingredients except the pears into a food processor and process until thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture over the fruit and smooth over. Arrange the slices of pear on the top, ideally in an overlapping fan.

Bake in the oven for 2 hours!

Check that it is cooked all the way through by poking in a kebab stick – it should come out dry.

Serve straight away, either with warm custard or cold double cream – either way this warm summer fruits pudding with almonds is absolutely delicious.

Tip…

Assemble the fruits in the bowl, cover and pop in the fridge, prepare the pears, cover and pop in the fridge; and then chuck the rest of the ingredients into the processor. You can now leave everything until you’re ready to put them all in the oven – perfect if you’re entertaining. It takes less than five minutes to complete the preparation when you are ready.

Inspired by…

Can’t remember where I plucked this recipe from but I’ve been doing it for years!

How Easy…

Ridiculously! Remember though – 2 hours cooking time (the cooking smell is heavenly!)