Main Courses

Bacon and Black Pudding Pasta with Scrumptious Ginger, Palm Sugar and Cream Sauce

We eat A LOT of pasta, but when I dished this one up, our son, Connagh, declared it as the best pasta he had ever tasted (he’s a 19-year old foodie, so his gastronomic opinion counts). How to describe it…..the sauce has a delightful, tangy sweetness that works spectacularly well in contrast to the earthy richness of the black pudding. I think it might also be slightly addictive: once the first mouthful passes your lips, you simply yearn for more!!!! What more can I say: try it and let me know!!!!!

Serves 4

What you need…

2 baking trays, foil-lined

8 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon

200g black pudding, chunkily sliced

Your favourite shaped dried pasta

for the sauce

50g fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

75ml water

2 cloves

50g palm sugar

300ml double cream

200g baby spinach

What to do…

Starting with the sauce, pop the ginger into a large saucepan with the water and cloves. Bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove the cloves and add the sugar and dissolve. Tip into your food processor/blender and whizz until the ginger is reduced to small chunks.

Return the ginger mixture to the saucepan, pour in the cream, chuck in the spinach, whack on the lid and set aside.

Spread the bacon around on 1 baking tray and use the other for the black pudding. Pop the bacon in the oven and cook until crispy (15-20 minutes). Pop the black pudding in at the same time but cook for only 10 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes. Once cooked, remove both from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted boiling water, according to the packet instructions.

When your pasta is nearly cooked, break up the bacon into little pieces and likewise, cut the black pudding into chunks.

Heat your saucepan of sauce over a moderate-high heat and stir whilst the cream warms up and the spinach wilts. Transfer the pasta into the sauce, tip in the black pudding and mix gently but thoroughly together.

Serve in warmed bowls and scatter the crispy bacon over the top. Absolutely bloody gorgeous!

Inspired by…

Most of the essential ingredients were inspired by a James Martin scallops-led recipe! Needless to say, from that inspiration, there has been quite a bit of mental mucking about for me to come up with this! Some people dream of holidays and other grand schemes; me: I wake up with recipes dancing around my head!

How easy…

So very, very easy and so spectacularly gorgeous!

 

Winter Pasta Sauce of Chicken Livers and Bacon, Port and Red Wine

This gutsy version of the traditional ragu is a fabulous combination of a rich sweetness provided by the port, perfectly balancing the silky, complex, intense flavour of the rosy-pink chicken livers. A definite favourite in this house, it’s the type of comforting dish you want to come home to on a cold, blowy Winter’s day – delicious! Oh, and the photograph doesn’t do it justice!!!!

Serves 4 hungry people

What you need…

A splash of olive oil

5 rashers of streaky bacon, roughly chopped

150g onions, chopped

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

150g minced beef

1 tablespoon tomato paste

75ml port

75ml red wine

Sea salt and black pepper

Knob of butter

125g chicken livers, roughly chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Your favourite pasta (choose a shape that collects lots of sauce!)

What to do…

Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan over a high heat and tip in the bacon, cooking and occasionally stirring for a couple of minutes until golden and crispy.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to kitchen paper. Turn the oil in the pan down to moderate and add the onions, cooking and stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or so, until soft and only slightly golden.

Return the cooked bacon to the pan together with the bay leaves, garlic, minced beef, tomato paste, port and red wine. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Meanwhile, cook your favourite pasta, following the packet instructions.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat, add the chicken livers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-4 minutes or until they have browned but are still pink in the middle. Tip them into the mince mixture and cook for 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Splash in about 75ml of the pasta cooking water into the mince mixture and then drain the rest. Tip the drained pasta into your delectable, gutsy sauce and serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan over the top. A glass of red wine wouldn’t go amiss either – wonderful!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Very easy and so rewarding!

 

Miso-Marinated Cod with Stir-Fry

A great mid-week family supper that is super-quick to make and has stunning Umami-ish flavours – tangy, tantalising and tasty; it’s gently spicy rather than powerfully hot and so good that I’ve had it three times in two weeks!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with foil

4 x bamboo skewers

650g skinless cod/haddock fillets, cut into cubes

4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

4cm ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

1 teaspoon dried, crushed chillis

2 x 300g packs of your favourite vegetable stir-fry

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

2 tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

Sea salt and black pepper

Lime wedges, to serve (optional)

for the marinade

2 tablespoon miso paste

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons mirin

4 tablespoons light soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

What to do…

First to the marinade: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season with a little black pepper. Add the fish, then cover and chill for anything between 15 minutes and overnight (I did an hour).

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Thread the fish onto skewers, then arrange on your baking tray.

Drizzle a tablespoon of the remaining marinade over each skewer and pop into the oven until cooked though (10minutes) turning half way through cooking.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the spring onions, ginger and chilli and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Tip in the vegetables, hoisin and sweet chilli sauces and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes, or until just tender. Serve with the fish skewers and extra lime wedges for squeezing over. Absolutely delightful and prepared in minutes!

Inspired by…

Tesco.com

How easy…

Ridiculously!

Thai Inspired Cod and Prawns in Coconut Milk

So simple, so wonderfully and aromatically flavoursome and so very fast with practically no prep either. What’s not to like for a fabulous mid-week supper?!!!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 A splash of rapeseed oil

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced

1 stick lemon grass, bruised (bashed!), trimmed and finely sliced

4 kaffir lime leaves

½ teaspoon turmeric

400g can coconut milk

4 fillets of cod, chunked (pollack and hake work equally well)

225g raw, peeled prawns

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

A good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped (to garnish)

What to do…

Heat the oil and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric. Stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.

Tip in the coconut milk and gently add the fish fillets, simmering for 7-8 minutes, until the cod is just cooked through.

To finish, tip in the prawns, stir through the fish sauce, lemon juice and then season with salt and pepper. As soon as the prawns turn pink, remove the lime leaves and then gaily and abundantly garnish your dish with fresh coriander before serving with steamed or boiled rice – absolutely delightful!

Inspired by…

Jane Plant

How easy…

So easy, so fast and so very lovely.

 

 

Nasi Goreng

An Indonesian dish that translated, literally and rather humbly merely means ‘fried rice’. But it’s soooo much more than that! Wonderfully aromatic with a lovely eclectic fusion of different textures and gently spicy flavours that wake up your taste buds and leave them zinging! A great brunch if you want to kick start your weekend or an equally lovely supper offering. I suspect that it also might be quite healthy – just a little bonus!

Serves 4

What you need…

A splash of rapeseed oil

6 shallots, finely sliced

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon shrimp paste

2 teaspoons tamarind paste

½ – 1 teaspoon crushed dried chillies (depending on how much heat you like)

1 thumb of root ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, bashed and finely sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks

150g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and finely sliced

2 tablespoons kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or 2 tablespoons soy sauce plus 2 teaspoons soft brown sugar

900g basmati rice, cooked

6 spring onions, finely sliced

A large handful of coriander, roughly chopped

4 large, happy eggs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cucumber, sliced into batons

What to do….

Heat the oil over a moderate heat in a large saucepan, tip in the shallots and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and tip onto kitchen paper to cool and crisp up. Set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the garlic, shrimp paste, tamarind paste, crushed chillies, ginger and lemon grass and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and mushrooms and sauté for a further couple of minutes to soften.

Add the kecap manis/soy and sugar and stir in the rice until heated through. Chuck in the spring onions and coriander and stir through.

In a large frying pan over a hot heat, warm another splash of rapeseed oil and fry the eggs until just set (or in my case, get favourite son, Connagh, to fry the eggs whilst I finish off the main dish).

Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cucumber batons.

Serve this gorgeous rice dish in warmed bowls, topping the Nasi Goreng firstly with the crispy shallots and then a freshly fried egg – delicious!

How easy…

It’s not difficult at all but there’s a lot of prep here so my advice is to chop and slice everything in advance, set aside and then go and have a glass of wine – the actual cooking takes no time at all.

Inspired by…

Victoria Glass

 

 

 

Hazelnut and Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

Along the same lines as Chicken Kiev and Chicken Cordon Bleu, this absolutely delicious way of serving chicken is made fabulous by the ridiculous quantity of butter used to cook it! Ignoring any negative aspects of the butter mountain, it guarantees that this dish is truly scrumptious – perfect for perking up a mid-week supper.

Serves 4

What you need…

4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned

40g hazelnuts

25g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

2 lemons, zested, then quartered

2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

40g panko breadcrumbs

75g plain flour

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

250g unsalted butter!!!!!

What to do…

Put one chicken breast between two pieces of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin until about 1cm thick. Repeat with the other three chicken breasts.

Pop the hazelnuts, Parmesan, lemon zest and thyme in your food processor and whizz to fine crumbs. Tip in the breadcrumbs and pulse to combine. Tip the mixture into a wide, shallow bowl.

Tip the flour into a wide, shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Tip the beaten egg into a third wide, shallow bowl.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a high heat.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumb mixture and then put all four breasts into the hot butter and sauté until golden – about 5 minutes on each side – basting with the butter throughout.

Drain on kitchen paper and then serve, drizzling over the hot butter from the pan and squeezing over a little lemon juice – truly scrumptious!

Inspired by…

With that amount of butter it has to be James Martin.

How easy…

Dead easy and yummingly good!

 

 

 

Mary’s Kedgeree

So, I’ve made kedgeree before, albeit with hake because I couldn’t get hold of haddock (!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. But, when I saw ma’am making it as part of her current ‘Classic’ TV series, my interest was sufficiently piqued to give her version a go and….it is really, really good: rich and flavoursome – it tastes like an absolute treat and I’ll definitely be doing it again. Supposedly a recipe for an indulgent, leisurely breakfast, it works equally well as a lovely family supper (speaking from experience).

Serves 4

What you need…

A couple of splashes of rapeseed oil

3 onions: 2 thinly sliced and 1 finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

500g smoked haddock fillets (I used dyed but Mary specifies undyed)

100g smoked salmon

250g basmati rice

3 cardamom pods, split

3cm-long cinnamon stick

450ml cold water

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 large, happy eggs

30g butter

100ml single cream

2 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Juice of ½ lemon

What to do…

Heat your first splash of oil in a medium-sized frying pan over a moderate heat and sauté the two sliced onions gently, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are crisp and deep golden brown.

Season with salt and pepper, tip out on kitchen paper, and set aside in a warm place.

Put the haddock, skin-side down, in a large, deep-sided frying pan and pour over enough water to just cover. Simmer, covered, over a low heat for 5-8 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the heat. Lay the smoked salmon in the liquid, cover, and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain the fish, discard the skins and flake into large chunks. Set aside.

Wipe out your large frying pan with kitchen paper and then add your second splash of oil, warming over a moderate heat. Add the chopped onion, cardamom pods, and cinnamon and sauté about 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden-brown. Tip in the rice and stir through. Pour in the cold water and stir in the turmeric. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Take the rice off the heat and let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes before fluffing up the grains with a fork.

Meanwhile, boil your eggs. Pop them in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 6 minutes, a little longer if you like the yolks cooked more. Remove from the heat, drain then pour cold water over the eggs. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and quarter.

Remove the cinnamon stick from the rice and carefully stir in the butter, cream, coriander, fish, and eggs. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice. Heat thoughly over a low heat, stirring gently once or twice, making sure you don’t break up the fish.

Serve your stupendously yummy kedgeree topped with the warm crispy onion: enjoy!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Very easy and satisfying to make

 

Jambalaya

Honestly, the best way that I can describe this delightful supper dish is ‘a festival of fabulous flavours having a party with your taste buds!’ I was trying to describe it to my daughter, Maddie, who was not here to savour this latest culinary creation and said, ‘It’s a bit like paella but with more oomph!’ (Don’t get me wrong, I love paella and I personally think the two dishes should not compete with one another!) Anyway, then I googled it….see below. In the meantime, give it a go – flavour fiesta!

Serves 4

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 chicken breasts, sliced

400g chorizo, chopped

2 onions, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon mustard powder

A few grinds of black pepper

300g long grain rice

1 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes

300ml chicken stock

300g raw prawns

12 mussels

12 clams

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

5 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

What to do…

Use a heavy, high-sided frying pan to place over a moderate heat. Warm your oil and add the chicken breasts, cooking until they start to brown. Then add the chorizo and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until it starts to brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove both from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the onions, cooking until softened. Tip in the garlic, peppers, celery, thyme and oregano, stirring to evenly mix. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan together with the garlic salt, paprika, cayenne, mustard powder and black pepper. Stir well.

Then, tip in the rice, tomatoes and stock and give the whole lot a good stir. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. It’s probably worth checking every now and then just to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan. Add the prawns, mussels and clams and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the shells have opened and the prawns have turned pink.

Sprinkle with parsley and spring onions and serve. Party on!

Tip…

When I added the rice, I walked off and left it for a while, to enjoy wine-time with hubby, popping back firstly to check it hadn’t stuck and secondly to switch the hob off and add the seafood. I gave it a quick stir, rammed the lid back on and went off for another 15 minutes to enjoy wine and good company. Just before we sat down to eat, I turned the heat up high and just warmed everything through (the seafood had gently cooked in my absence!)

A bit about Jambalaya…

According to Google, Creole jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very easy. Get the prep done and then it takes barely any effort at all!

 

 

 

 

Super-Fast Sassy Salmon and Stir Fry Supper

Sooooo easy, soooooo fast and sooooo tasty: a perfect mid week family supper! I found this unusual marinade of maple syrup with wholegrain mustard at my friend, Denise’s house, while visiting her home in Abu Dhabi last November. We love this sassy version of salmon so much, we’ve had it practically once a week since we got back.

What you need…

1 x baking tray

4 chunky salmon fillets

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard

for the stir-fry

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped

Large knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

½ teaspoon dried crushed chilli

2 bags of ready-prepared stir fry veg – whichever mix takes your fancy

2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

A few spring onions, sliced, to garnish (optional)

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

In a cup, mix together 2 tablespoons maple syrup with the whole grain mustard. Pop your salmon fillets onto the baking tray and spoon over the syrup mix. Whop into the oven for 20 minutes.

Around 10 minutes into the salmon’s cooking time, take a wok or deep wide saucepan and warm your oil over a moderate-high heat and then toss in the garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.

Whop the heat up to high and chuck in the stir fry vegetables and cook according to the packet instructions (usually 6 minutes, stirring and tossing continuously). 2 minutes before the end, tip in the Chinese cooking wine, maple syrup and soy sauce – stir and toss. Scatter with spring onion slices, if using.

That’s it! Serve your delicious, sassy salmon with a heaped portion of equally fab stir fry and enjoy. So easy, so fast and I kid you not, so tasty – enjoy!!!!

Serving suggestion…

Serve the salmon with stir fry in the winter and a rocket-based salad in the summer. I bet it would go well barbecued as well….

Tip…

I’ve also used this glaze on chicken breasts and that’s pretty good too!

Inspired by…

My lovely but far-too-distant friend, Denise! And the stir-fry ingredients are adapted from a Ching He Huang recipe that I use.

How easy…

It couldn’t be any easier!

Pot-Roast Chicken Thighs with Parsnips

This dish may not look that great but boy, it’s packed with flavour! The meat is succulent, the parsnips somehow enhance in taste and the sauce is delicious and creamy. An absolutely perfect supper dish for a winter’s evening.

Serves 4

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

6 shallots, sliced in half

4 parsnips, peeled and chunked

8 garlic cloves, chopped

12-16 chicken thighs, filleted (quantity depends on your appetite!)

Black pepper and sea salt

500ml hot water from the kettle

1 chicken stock pot (I use Knorr)

12 sprigs thyme

20 juniper berries, lightly crushed

200ml double cream

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Use a balloon whisk to beat the stockpots into the hot water to create your chicken stock.

Over a moderate heat, warm the rapeseed oil in a casserole dish for which you have a lid. Toss in the shallots, parsnips and garlic and cook until lightly brown. Remove ingredients from pan with a slotted spoon.

Season the chicken with black pepper and then brown lightly in the oil. Remove, again using the slotted spoon.

Pour the chicken stock into the pan and bring to the boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in any delicious leftover morsels.

Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan, tuck in the thyme sprigs and season with a little salt and chuck in the juniper berries. When everything returns to the boil, pop on the lid and put the casserole into your oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces and wrap in foil to keep warm.

Turn the hob heat up high and reduce the liquid by half – it won’t thicken but will give you sweet, creamy juices. Stir in the cream and check the seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan and cook for a couple minutes more to make sure everything is thoroughly hot.

Serve in shallow bowls, maybe with some fresh doorsteps of bread on the side to dunk.

Inspired by…

Nigel Slater, although he used partridges rather than chicken thighs. I tried it with parsnips but found the wee birds a pain to pick the meat off. Filleted chicken thighs mean you can just tuck straight in.

How easy…

Very easy but it does take a little faffing about – well worth it though!

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