Main Courses

Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Lattice Pie

I would put this under the heading of ‘comfort food’. If you’re in the right mood, making the lattice pastry lid is quite relaxing and the actual pie itself is delicious. Despite the amount of cream in it, it is neither too heavy or rich but just rather cheering on a cold, grey evening.

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

1 x baking dish, (something like 26 x 18 x 5cms for these quantities of ingredients)

2 x 375g packs ready-rolled puff pastry

Splash olive oil

450g roasted chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 large leek, washed, trimmed and sliced

150g chestnut mushrooms, washed and chunkily sliced

200ml water

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

200ml white wine

300ml double cream

1 tablespoon tarragon, leaves torn from the stems and chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

1 egg, beaten

What to do…

To make the pastry topping: unroll both sheets of pastry so that they are lying flat. The ready-rolled puff pastry comes on baking paper so there’s no need to prepare your work surface. Cut each piece into long 3cm-wide ribbons (being a little on the OCD side I did actually use a ruler for this bit to ensure accuracy!) If your baking dish is rectangular like mine, one sheet of pastry needs to be cut long-ways and the other width-ways (see pictures). Weave the pastry ribbons together (again see pictures) until you have a pastry top that is large enough to cover your pie. Make sure there are no gaps in between the ribbons or your sauce will bubble through during cooking (mine did!) Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge to firm up whilst you cook the pie filling.

pastry a w Pastry b w pastry c w

 

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

In a jug, dissolve the stockpot into the water, using a small balloon whisk, creating your chicken stock.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a moderate heat. Add the leeks and cook for 1 minute. Chuck in the mushrooms and cook for a further minute. Add the stock, wine and double cream. Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid until it thickens slightly.

Add the chicken pieces and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix together thoroughly.

Once the chicken has warmed through, remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into your baking dish.

Brush the rim of your baking dish with egg and then flip the lid on top, so that the paper it came on is now facing upwards. Remove the paper and then press down over the rim to seal. Trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife. Brush the pastry lid with egg and then pop your pie in the oven for 30 minutes, until the filling is piping hot and the pastry is gorgeously puffy and golden brown. Serve straight away – a lovely comforting treat and quite delicious!

Tip…

Your baking dish needs to be full to the brim with the filling otherwise the puff pastry lid will sink into it. Mine did but that said, the puffiness largely covered this mistake once the pie was cooked.

Inspired by…

The lattice pastry lid was demonstrated by Mary Berry. The filling was based on but tweaked from a recipe by Shaun Rankin, www.greatbritishchefs.com.

How easy…

The lattice pastry lid isn’t difficult but takes time, so you have to be in the right mood – if you’re in a mad hurry, this is not a good idea! That said, the rest of the dish is incredibly quick to prepare and then finishes up in the oven, allowing you to tidy up and cook a bit of greenery to go with it.

Also, the necessary roasted chicken was also immediately available to me, being left over from the 2 John cooked for our Sunday Roast.

Pizza!

I know that loads of people make their own pizza and I certainly should have adopted this notion given the amount that goes down in this house, but I waited until I’d been on the planet 52 years before giving it a go! I was somewhat nervous about the whole dough-making process, which flour (00 vs. strong white bread flour) and the use of yeast (and all the different types you can get). Then the advice: James Martin advocated leaving his dough overnight, Jamie Oliver said 15 minutes, Google searches came back with anything from 30 minutes to a couple of hours! So, in the end, I cobbled this recipe together and….it’s great! I’ll be doing it again but will roll out the dough a little thinner next time. This recipe is quick, easy and as ever, homemade knocks shop-bought or even delivered into touch – give it a go!

 Makes 6 – 8 medium-sized pizzas

 What you need…

 800g ‘00’ flour (I think strong white bread flour would work just as well)

200g semolina

1 level tablespoon fine sea salt

2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast

1 tablespoon caster sugar

650ml lukewarm water

for the tomato sauce

2 tins Italian chopped tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried oregano

for the toppings

Go mad – put whatever you fancy on! Our choices are below

What to do…

Whop all the tomato sauce ingredients into a blender and whizz to mix together. Set aside until ready to top your pizza bases.

If you have a standalone mixer with a dough hook on it, chuck everything else in the bowl and let it do its stuff for about 5 minutes, until you can see the dough coming together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface.

If you don’t possess one of these lovely machines, heap the flours and salt onto a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Tip the yeast, sugar and water into the well and, using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix. Keep doing this – it will go through a ‘stodgy porridge’ stage but will then start coming together as a dough.

Whichever route you took to get to this stage, now knead the dough quite assertively until you have a smooth springy soft dough – this will take about 5 minutes if you used the mixer to start with and maybe 10 minutes if you’ve done it all by hand.

Flour the top of your dough and pop it into a large, roomy bowl (I used the cleaned out mixer bowl), cover with cling film and pop it somewhere warm (I stood mine just under the radiator). Leave for 1 hour.

Dust your work surface with flour and/or semolina and then cut your dough into 6 or 8 pieces depending on whether you want medium or slightly larger pizzas. Squidge each piece into a ball and then roll out into rough circles until they are about ½ cm thick. Tear off a piece of foil slightly larger than the pizza base and spread over a little oil and then dust with flour and/or semolina. Pop the pizza base onto the foil.

Do this for each pizza base, stacking them on top of one another, each separated by an oiled and floured piece of foil. You could now cling film them and pop them in the fridge until you are ready.

When you are ready, pop a heavy baking tray on the lowest shelf of your oven and heat your oven to 250°c / 500°f / gas 9.

Apply your toppings of choice and then put the pizza in, one at a time, still on their foil, on top of the piping hot baking tray. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes until the pizza is golden and crispy (and the inevitable mozzarella is melted and bubbling).

Then, remove the pizza from the oven, leaving the baking tray in there ready to receive the next one. Your pizza will be firm so this won’t be difficult. Slide your pizza off the foil and dig in – the base will be lovely and crispy and the topping will be according to your individual taste!

What we had…

The point is, you can put whatever you fancy on, so I rummaged through the fridge and took out just about anything that I thought might work and that at least one of us liked. The joy of it then was that we built our own. Whilst the first one was cooking, the second one was being created and so on. We each created pizza specifically to appeal to our own tastes – marvellous!

I also made a garlic pizzetta to share so, in my blender I whizzed a couple of cloves of chopped garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of dried garlic pizzetta wrosemary. Then I just brushed the oil over the top and wodged in rosemary sprigs – it was bloody lovely!

Mine: tomato sauce, mozzarella slices, a few baby spinach leaves (I would have used basil, but didn’t have any), a few slices prosciutto and a couple of chopped up sundried tomatoes. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Gorgeous!

John: tomato sauce and then what looked like a fridge-raid: chopped up chicken, prosciutto, loadsa mozzarella slices, pepperoni, chopped up sundried tomatoes.

Connagh: tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, prosciutto, pepperoni.

Other topping suggestions, chopped ham, chorizo, sliced peppers and red onions, chillies, courgettes, anchovies, thyme…and so it goes on….

Inspired by…

James Martin initially, then Jamie Oliver and then, the yeast packet and lastly, the fridge!

How easy…

Dead easy and great fun!

Grilled Plaice with Mustard and Tarragon Sauce, Asparagus and Peas

This is a really lovely, delicate and light fish supper. The sauce is quite piquant and, when tasted on its own, really rather strong. But, take a forkful that includes a little fish, greenery and sauce and the combination is fabulous: the sauce is the perfect foil for the delicate fish – it just all works brilliantly. And – bonus – you can make the sauce ahead, leaving just a few minutes cooking of the fish and vegetables just before you want to eat. It’s on the ‘favourites’ list for me!

Serves 4

What you need…

500g asparagus, trimmed

100g frozen peas

1.5kg plaice, filleted and cut into portions

Splash rapeseed oil

1 baby gem lettuce, shredded

Small knob of butter

Sea salt and black pepper, for seasoning

Olive oil to drizzle

for the sauce

100ml water

½ fish stockpot (I use Knorr)

Splash rapeseed oil

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

4 tablespoons cider vinegar

100ml dry, still cider

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

100ml double cream

4 teaspoons chopped tarragon, stalks reserved

2 teaspoons capers

What to do…

First, blanch the asparagus. Pop in a deep frying pan of boiling, salted water and simmer vigorously for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Dry the frying pan – you’ll be using it again later.

Remove the frozen peas from the freezer and tip them out onto a plate to start defrosting.

In a jug, create some fish stock by pouring in 100ml water from your kettle and dissolving the fish stockpot, using a small balloon whisk. Set aside.

Now to the sauce: heat a splash of rapeseed oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cider vinegar and bring to the boil. Pour in the cider and fish stock and bubble furiously until the stock is reduced by half. Add the mustard, cream and tarragon stalks and simmer, reducing and thickening the sauce so that it coats the back of a spoon. Remove the tarragon stalks and discard. Stir in the capers and chopped tarragon. Set aside.

When you’re about ready to eat, preheat your grill to medium and either oil a baking tray or line it with Bake O Glide. Sprinkle salt all over the tray and lay your fish fillets on top, skin side up. Place under the grill and cook for 6 minutes, checking the last minute or two to avoid overcooking.

Meanwhile, put your sauce back on a very gentle heat, just to keep it warm.

Return to your frying pan and splash in the rapeseed oil. When hot, add the lettuce and wilt for 1 minute. Add the asparagus and peas with the knob of butter and warm through for a couple of minutes. Season to taste.

Remove the fish from the grill and leave to rest for a couple of minutes.

To serve, arrange the greenery on warmed plates and place the fish on top, skin side up. Drizzle with a little olive oil and then spoon the sauce around the fish. Don’t attack – it’s to be savoured but remember to get a little bit of everything on each forkful and enjoy the combined flavours – simply lovely!

Tips…

Instead of all that peeling and chopping, I buy Cooks’ Ingredients frozen chopped shallots and frozen chopped garlic from Waitrose – lovely and fresh and saves a lot of faffing about.

Inspired by…

Chef, Nathan Outlaw and my bro, who insisted that I couldn’t do this blog without this Nathan Outlaw book in my collection – good call, Martin!

How easy…

Really, really easy and a pleasure to make!

Chicken Supremes with Wild Mushrooms and Tarragon Sauce

A lovely supper dish this one, in which the sauce is the absolute star of the show. Having tasted it, I am sure that you could also use this sauce to accompany veal or pork as alternatives to the chicken that I have used here. Essentially, the creamy yet vibrant sauce adds a real zing to fairly plainly roasted or dry-fried meat. A real winner!

What you need…

1 x baking dish (mine is 26 x 18 x 7cms deep) lightly buttered

Good glug and then a splash of rapeseed oil

6 chicken supremes (breasts with the fillet and wing bone attached) with skin on

2 knobs butter

3 shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

500ml water

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

200ml dry white wine

150ml double cream

250g wild or chestnut mushrooms

Handful tarragon sprigs, leaves picked

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Squeeze lemon juice

What to do…

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

Heat your glug of oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and cook the chicken, skin-sides down, for 3-4 minutes until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange snugly, skin-sides up, in your baking dish, cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes or until they are cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. First of all, dissolve the chicken stockpot into a jug containing the 500ml boiling water (from the kettle) – a small balloon whisk is ideal for the job. Set aside.

In your frying pan, add a knob of butter to the remaining chicken juices and melt over a low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and white wine, turn up the heat to high and cook for 15 minutes, reducing the liquid and cooking off the alcohol. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In another pan, melt your second knob of butter with a splash of oil over a high heat. Tip in the mushrooms and cook over a high heat, stirring, until they are golden.

Return to your sauce and very gradually, stir in the cream. Then, chuck in the cooked mushrooms, tarragon, mustard and lemon juice. Mix together. Taste. Season. Taste. Put the pan back on a very low heat to keep warm, until you are ready to serve.

Pour the sauce all over the cooked chicken breasts and pop your casserole dish in the middle of the table and request that everyone ‘digs in’. Enjoy your delightful chicken supremes with wild mushrooms and tarragon sauce perhaps with a lovely glass of white burgundy – a very nice pairing indeed! Cheers!

Tips…

The sauce can be made in advance and kept chilled until needed. When you reheat it though, do so gently – overheat it and it will go thin (as experience has shown me).

Rather than using fresh garlic and shallots, I replace them with Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients frozen versions – a quick shake of roughly the right amount into the pan is so much easier than all that peeling and chopping!

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine

How easy…

Very easy, especially as the sauce can be made in advance and the associated cooking pots, washed and put away.

 

 

Just Gorgeous Beef Casserole with Red Wine and Cinnamon

 

I’ve had this recipe in my ‘to do’ file for years but every time I’ve flicked through, I’ve seen the words ‘prunes’ and ‘cinnamon’ in the ingredients list, hesitated and then….moved on. However, I finally decided to try it and, as a woman who has cooked hundreds of beef casseroles, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest! The eclectic mix of ingredients make for a fabulously rich sauce with beautifully intensified, silky flavours – everyone around the table was agreed – this is the best of all that we’ve tried: why did we wait so long? Try it, you’ll love it!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x ovenproof casserole

600ml boiling water from kettle

2 beef stockpots

1kg braising steak, diced

600ml robust red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon works well)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 cinnamon sticks

12 bay leaves

8 slices good quality streaky bacon, chopped

Knob of butter

12 small shallots, chopped

24 baby carrots

16 soft dried prunes

2 tablespoons plain flour

What to do…

The night before! Put the meat, wine, garlic, cinnamon and bay leaves into a large bowl, give them a quick stir and pop in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavours to develop.

The next day, preheat the oven to 150° / 300°f / gas 2.

In a small jug, dissolve the stockpots into the boiling water from the kettle (a small balloon whisk works really well). Set aside.

Drain the meat, reserving the marinade. Then dry the meat on kitchen roll.

Fry the streaky bacon in a large saucepan over a moderate heat until it starts to brown. Add the knob of butter and then the shallots, carrots, prunes and reserved cinnamon and bay leaves. Sauté until the shallots and carrots start to brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ingredients to your casserole dish.

To the pan, add the meat and brown. Tip in the flour, stir well and then reintroduce the shallots mixture. Whack up the heat to high and add the stock and the marinade. Bring it to the boil and then tip the whole lot back into the casserole dish, pop on the lid and then stick it in the oven. Cook in the oven for 2½ hours. The smell, as it’s cooking will be amazing! Take the casserole out and check that the meat is succulent by retrieving one piece and trying it – if it’s not quite falling apart in your mouth, pop it back in for another 15 minutes, but it should be done by now.

Once removed from the oven, leave to rest for 15 minutes and then serve with really lovely buttery mashed potato (naughty) or baked potatoes (good) as well as either boiled broccoli or a steamed leek and cabbage mix. Take your first forkful, and sit back and smile – the flavours really are sublime and frankly, you just want to keep eating more!

Inspired by…

Waitrose Food Illustrated from several years ago!

How easy…

Really easy and so worth it!

 

 

Tiger Prawn Stir Fry

A fabulous little supper dish that you can knock up in no time, this tiger prawn stir fry is really tasty, light and spicy (think gentle tingling lips and tongue, and zinging taste buds). Made it up but got the recipe down. Definitely doing this again!

Serves 2

What you need…

150g medium egg noodles

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Splash of groundnut oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced lengthways

100g wild/speciality mushrooms

Handful mange tout

2 pak choi, leaves torn

300g raw tiger prawns

1 dessertspoon dark brown sugar

1 dessertspoon tamari/soy sauce

Handful coriander, chopped (optional, to garnish)

What to do…

Pop the egg noodles into a saucepan of boiling water and cook as per the packet instructions – mine took 4 minutes. Drain and then toss noodles in sesame oil and set aside.

Heat the groundnut oil in your wok on a high setting. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and spring onions and cook for about 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add the mushrooms and mange tout and stir fry for a further minute. Add the pak choi and prawns and stir fry for 2 minutes or until the prawns have just turned pink. Tip in the sugar and tamari/soy sauce and the noodles. Stir fry, tossing all the ingredients together until they are evenly mixed. Garnish with coriander, if liked. Serve and enjoy this really easy, lovely supper dish!

Tip…

As well as the tiger prawns, you could add scallops and/or squid for further variety.

Inspired by…

Seeing loads of recipes on the TV referencing Chinese New Year and then being unable to order a Chinese take-away because they were all off celebrating!

How easy…

Ridiculously!

 

Seared Tuna with Chilli and Coriander Dressing

The first trip to the newly discovered fishmongers in Windsor (O’Driscolls) netted the bounty of fresh tuna steaks. They looked pretty good before I did anything to them but this easy, fast recipe really emphasises the natural flavours of the tuna and then jazzes them up with a zingy, fresh combination brought about by the wonderful combination of chillies, lime and coriander. Great dish for supper or lunch and I do believe it’s healthy too!

Serves 4

What you need…

A good handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Pinch salt

Grated zest of 4 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 x 150g fresh tuna loin steaks (about 1½ cms thick)

for the dressing

6cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Juice from the 4 limes

4 tablespoons olive oil

Another good handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

To make the dressing, put the ginger, chillies and garlic into a bowl and mash into a pulp – if you have a pestle and mortar, that’s perfect; if not, use the end of a rolling pin to bash your ingredients. Add the lime juice and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then the coriander together with salt and pepper. Mix together and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse.

In a separate bowl, mix together the coriander, salt, lime zest and oil to create a loose paste. Brush one side of each tuna steak with the paste.

In a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil over a high heat. Add the tuna steaks, paste-side down and fry for 1 minute. Brush the remaining paste on the tops of the steaks and then flip them, cooking them for a further minute – the tuna will still be rare inside – cooked any more than this and it will lose its flavour and become dry and chewy.

Serve two tuna steaks per person and pour over a tablespoon of the dressing onto each serving. Pour the remaining dressing onto a salad of mixed leaves (iceberg lettuce, chicory, baby spinach and coriander work well).

Enjoy your tasty, zesty seared tuna with chilli and coriander dressing and feel ALIVE!

Inspired by…

No idea! The original recipe was torn from a magazine years ago but my version actually bears very little resemblance anyway.

How easy…

Really, really easy. The key to success is great, fresh tuna.

 

 

Venison and Mushroom Suet Pudding

Serves 6 – 8

An alternative to our traditional Sunday Roast, we haven’t had a suet pudding for years and I have to wonder why. The pastry is light but absorbs the flavours of the filling, which in this case was a wonderfully rich mix of venison, mushrooms and port. I loved the theatrical presentation associated with turning it out of its cooking bowl as well – will it, won’t it, will it, won’t it and then almost a sigh as the pudding parted ways with the bowl and plopped onto the plate, to be quickly followed by a rush of wonderful, rich gravy. A proper winter dish this – who cares if it’s cold and windy outside?!

What you need…

1 x 1.5 litre pudding basin, lightly buttered

1 x steamer, saucepan and lid

for the filling

1 beef stock pot (I use Knorr)

300ml boiling water (from the kettle)

300ml port

2 tablespoons well-seasoned self-raising flour

750g venison, diced

2 shallots, chopped

1 leek, trimmed, cut lengthways and then sliced

250g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and chunkily sliced

Handful thyme sprigs, leaves picked

Sea salt and black pepper

for the pastry

350g self-raising flour

175g shredded beef suet

Sea salt and black pepper

Cold water to mix

What to do…

In a jug dissolve the stock pot into the boiling water. Top up with the port. Set aside.

In a roomy bowl, tip in the seasoned flour. Add the venison and toss around in the flour so that the meat is thoroughly covered. Chuck in the shallots, leek, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the suet pastry, sift the flour into another large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the suet and mix the ingredients together using a spatula. When blended, add a few drops of cold water and mix in using the spatula. Keep adding the water a few drops at a time, mixing all the while, until the pastry is claggy and sticky. Either carry on with the spatula or go in with your hands, working the mix together until it is a smooth, elastic dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean.

Separate ¼ of the dough from the rest and set aside for the lid of your pudding. On a lightly floured work surface, give the remaining dough a quick knead to create a ball and then roll it out to create a circle of about 32cm diameter. Line the bowl with the pastry, gently pressing it into place and leaving some pastry hanging over the lip of the bowl.

Go back to your filling and with your hands, mix everything together so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Tip the whole lot into the pastry-lined bowl.

Pour in the stock and port and add more seasoning.

Roll out the pastry lid. Wet the top edges of pudding pastry and pop the lid on, pressing down all around the edges to seal. Trim off the excess pastry.

Cover with a double sheet of foil, pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure it with string and then place in a steamer over a saucepan of boiling water. Pop a lid on and then turn the heat down so that the water is simmering. Steam for 5 hours, checking the water level every now and then (I have ruined many a pan steaming Christmas puddings and letting the water run dry – it doesn’t go down well with the husband!)

Now to serve it! You could play safe and serve it straight from the bowl but where’s the fun in that?! Instead, slide a palette knife around the edge and then put your serving plate over the top of the pudding bowl. Tip the whole lot upside down (or in my case, ask John to) so that the plate is now on your work top and the pudding bowl is inverted. Wait, holding your breath, until the pudding gives a sigh and plops onto the plate. Breathe. Rush excitedly to the table with a large serving spoon and dig in. Thoroughly enjoy your Venison and Mushroom Suet Pudding!

Tip…

Instead of peeling and cutting up shallots, try Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients, frozen, chopped shallots – a quick shake and the job’s done!

Inspired by…

I used Delia Smith’s recipe for the suet pastry and then threw caution to the wind and put in the pudding whatever I fancied – it worked though!

How easy…

It takes minutes to assemble, there’s no pastry-resting business going on and then you just leave it to cook itself so it’s really very easy. It’s not a last minute option though – 5 hours cooking time does require a bit of organisation.

Red Pepper and Herb Salmon Fillets with Spiralized Vegetables

We eat a lot of salmon and I have a variety of different approaches to cooking it, all of which we love. But when I saw this dish being prepared on Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking first episode, I thought that it would make an interesting change. She served hers with spiralized vegetables, which also fired my imagination, and the necessary spiralizer was duly ordered that night! The vegetables are a nice change (and might make for easier persuasion with little ones given their presentation) and the fish was quite delicious and stupendously easy – a great family supper.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

140g full fat cream cheese

20g Parmesan, finely grated

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 heaped tablespoon chives, chopped

4 chunky salmon fillets

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 roasted red pepper from a jar, finely sliced

Sea salt and black pepper

for the spiralized vegetables

1 x spiralizer (I bought my online for £13)

2 large courgettes, topped and tailed

3 large carrots, topped, tailed and peeled

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

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

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chives, salt and pepper.

Pop the salmon fillets onto your baking tray and then season with salt and pepper. Spread over the cream cheese mixture equally over each fillet.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon zest and parsley and then sprinkle over the fillets. Arrange the red pepper slices in an ‘X’ over the top of the salmon fillets.

Pop in the oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through. Put one fillet on each serving plate.

Meanwhile, feed each of your vegetables through the spiralizer, adopting a ‘pencil-sharpening’ action to produce long spaghetti-like strands.

Pour the oil into a wok or deep frying pan on a moderate heat. Tip in your vegetable strands, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and parsley and divide onto each serving plate with the fish.

Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and vegetables and serve your red pepper and herb salmon fillets with spiralized vegetables: light, delightful and quite a different turn on cooking salmon. Enjoy!

Tips…

I use Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients frozen, chopped garlic and just shake in a rough amount rather than peeling and chopping garlic cloves – it’s the little things that make life easier!

I’m rubbish at chopping herbs, so instead use a clean pair of sharp kitchen scissors – works a treat.

When you choose your carrots and courgettes, make sure they are big, fat ones – they work much better with the spiralizer.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry, Foolproof Cooking

How easy…

Really simple and hardly any clearing up

 

 

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Whisky Sauce and Asparagus Parcels

Burns Night Supper! Over the years, we’ve been to many a Burns night bash and the food has ranged from appalling to mediocre – rarely better than that. And until this evening, I always thought that whisky was harsh and horrible: a horror that needed to be dispensed with in the name of tradition as fast as possible. Tonight however, we stayed in and did this fabulous take on the Burns Night fare. The haggis dish was waaaaaaay better than I could possibly have hoped for and met with considerable enthusiasm all around the table. We are DEFINITELY having this again – I would recommend it highly, Burns Night or not. And then there was the whisky. I unearthed a bottle that has remained untouched since John’s 60th birthday and WOW! sheer nectar. That said, it was a Knockando Single Malt, aged 12 years. It was a gift – I’m not looking up the cost but it finished off this delightful meal perfectly!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the asparagus parcels

One flat baking tray, lightly oiled

8 asparagus spears, trimmed

2 slices prosciutto di parma

Sea salt and black Pepper

Just a little Parmesan cheese, grated

for the whisky sauce

Knob butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons whisky (any old blended, not the Knockando!!!)

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

200ml water

1 beef stock pot (I use Knorr)

80ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

for the haggis

1 x cookie cutter (slightly larger than the diametre of the haggis) lightly oiled

1 Haggis (I love the ‘Simon Howie, the Scottish Butcher’, it’s slightly spicy and very yummy).

8 potatoes, peeled and halved

125g butter

Splash milk

4 turnips, peeled and halved

6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

What to do…

To prepare the asparagus parcels, poach the asparagus in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool to the point that they are easy to handle.

Lay out one slice of Parma ham. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan and then cut in half lengthways.

Using one ‘half slice’ of Parma ham, place two asparagus spears at one end and roll up so the Parma ham is the wrapping around your asparagus. Place on your baking tray. Repeat with the remaining asparagus and Parma ham so that you have four asparagus bundles – one each – they’re just a garnish, really.

Pop them in the fridge until you are nearly ready to serve.

You can also pre-prepare the sauce. Using a balloon whisk dissolve the stock pot into the water. Set aside. Melt the butter over a moderate heat and gently fry the shallots for 10 minutes. Add the wholegrain mustard and mix in well. Pour in the beef stock and bring to the boil. Add the whisky, boil for another minute to remove the alcohol and then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then gradually stir in the cream. Set aside until nearly ready to serve.

To cook the haggis, follow the boiling instruction that comes with it. In my case, it is simply to pop the haggis into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 45 minutes – couldn’t be easier.

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

In one saucepan, bring your potatoes to the boil in salted water and then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft. Likewise, in another saucepan, bring your turnips and carrots to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.

To the potatoes, add 75g butter and the splash of milk and either mash or use a handheld electric whisk to cream the potatoes. Taste and season until it suits you. Pop the lid on to keep warm.

To the turnips and carrot, add 50g butter and similarly, mash or cream with a whisk. Taste and season until it suits you. Pop the lid on to keep warm.

Pop your asparagus in the oven for 4-5 minutes whilst you assemble the dish.

Put your whisky sauce on a moderate heat to warm through.

Drain the haggis and cut it into nice chunky slices.

For each serving, place your cookie cutter, in the centre of the plate and squash into it the creamed potato, filling the cookie cutter two thirds of the way up. Top up with the turnip and carrot mixture. Gently lift the cookie cutter away, wipe over with kitchen roll and run olive oil around the inside again with your finger and repeat the process for each of the other servings. Top your stacks with a chunky slice of haggis and then an asparagus parcel.

Pour the sauce into a jug and serve at the table. Enjoy this wonderful dish of haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky sauce and asparagus parcels with or without any of the other traditions. We just needed an excuse to find a great haggis recipe – enjoy!

Tip…

Rather than finely chopping shallots, I use Cooks’ Ingredients Handful of Chopped Shallots. Frozen and in a foil bag, I just shake into the saucepan roughly the right quantity – dead easy!

Inspired by…

Well…. a bit of a collection of ideas thrown together. I saw an image of one version of the ‘stack’ on the Ocado website and that was enough to get me going. I already had the recipe for the asparagus parcels (previously blogged as a canapé) and the sauce is my own – made up on the spur of the moment and I have to say, rather lovely!

How easy…

Very easy! All the elements kinda cook themselves. I like that the prep on the asparagus and sauce can be done in advance so you’re not juggling like crazy at the end.

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