Main Courses

Venison with Red Wine & Chocolate Sauce (oh yeah!) with Celeriac & Apple Purée

The first of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my recipe book, I re-read this recipe and started salivating (sorry, not an attractive notion) to the point that we are having this again this weekend!!!!

O M G! This is so very, very special! Delectable, delicious, de-lovely – absolutely incredible! OK, enough adjectives! This is a dish worth celebrating – venison can be dear (or deer – see what I did there!!). I paid £17 for 600g which serves 4 so that’s £4.25 each which I didn’t think was too bad given the ‘off-the-scale’ enjoyment that was registered: the meat is so succulent and very flavoursome without being ‘gamey’. Paired with the rich red wine and chocolate sauce and complemented by the sweet, crisp celeriac and apple purée: a better trio I cannot imagine! An ideal dinner party dish, this is so good and not at all difficult (especially if you prepare the sauce and purée in advance); you simply must give it a go!!!! (Don’t let the long ingredients list put you off – it’s sooooo worth it!)

Serves 4

What you need…

600g venison loin

Rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed

2 thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, chopped

50g unsalted butter

Sea salt and black pepper

for the sauce

Rapeseed oil

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

300ml robust red wine

200ml water from the kettle

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

50g dark chocolate, grated

25g cold unsalted butter, chunked

Pinch of salt

for the purée

1 celeriac head, peeled and chunked

500ml semi skimmed milk

500ml water

2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 tablespoon caster sugar

25g unsalted butter

Pepper (white’s better as it blends in but I only had black, which I think works brilliantly)

What to do…

So, we’re going to turn the ingredients list all around: first making the chocolate sauce and then the purée, both of which can then be popped in the fridge for use later in the day or even the following day.

To the sauce:heat a splash of oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, until they start to caramelise.

Add the herbs, juniper berries and peppercorns and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by two-thirds. Meanwhile, make a strong chicken stock by using a balloon whisk to dilute your chicken stockpot into the hot water. Add the stock to the pan, bring back to the boil and then simmer until reduced by half.

Into a jug, tip the grated chocolate. Strain the sauce into the jug and then plop in chunks of butter. Use your balloon whisk again dissolve both the chocolate and butter into the sauce. Season with a pinch of salt. Taste, say ‘wow’ and vow to leave the sauce alone until it’s on your plate with the venison! Cover with cling film and set aside until needed.

Next the purée:pop the celeriac into a large saucepan with the milk and water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the celeriac is soft. Into your blender pour a couple of ladles of the cooking liquid and then, using a slotted spoon, add the celeriac chunks. Set aside. Pour the remaining cooking liquid into a jug and set aside.

Wipe out your pan and pop it back onto the heat with a splash of water, the apple and sugar. Simmer gently until the apple is soft and beginning to break apart. Use a spatula to scrape the lot into the blender with the celeriac. Whizz until smooth, adding more cooking liquid if needed.  Add the butter, season, whizz, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside until needed.

That’s most of the ‘work’ and mess done. At this stage you could cool both the sauce and purée and pop them in the fridge until tomorrow if you were preparing in advance for a dinner party. I made mine in the morning and then just left them on the worktop side until I was ready to cook dinner in the evening.

To the main event: preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Rub the venison loin with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Also, rub in the juniper berries all over the meat. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan over a high heat, add the venison and sear on all sides for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add the thyme, garlic and butter to the pan and baste the venison for 2 minutes. Cover the meat with foil and then transfer the pan to the oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and rest, still covered by the foil, on a warmed plate for 10 minutes.

Whilst all that is going on, have your sauce and purée and sauce in separate saucepans over a low heat just to warm through.

Carve the venison into thick slices; try not to dribble in anticipation. Onto each diner’s plate, plop or swirl some purée, arrange a few venison slices on the top and then drizzle with the sauce. Enjoy with a simple green vegetable and a lovely glass or two of red wine. Consider for a moment how wonderful life can be! Enjoy!

Tip…

I found the size of the venison too ungainly to deal with as one piece so chopped it in half….worked for me!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Really easy. And if you prep the sauce and purée in advance, the actual cooking of the venison takes no time at all and is a sinch!

Baked Glazed Gammon

Serves 8 with left overs

For many years now, we have reserved the baked gammon for Christmas Eve. When the present-wrapping is all done and all the preparation is finished for the big day, it’s time to sit down for hot gammon sandwiches in squishy, chunky fresh bread, washed down with a glass of fizz. The aroma of this wonderful dish cooking in its final stages is something I will always associate with Christmas but we do sneak it in a couple of other times throughout the year. The spirit of Christmas should be with us all year around, after all!

What you need…

1 x unsmoked gammon joint, weighing about 4 kg

1 carrot, cut in half

1 onion, cut in half at root

1 celery stick

1 bay leaf

10 peppercorns

for the glaze

8 tablespoons good quality marmalade

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

2 tablespoons black treacle

A handful of cloves

What to do…

Soak the gammon overnight if you’re having it for lunch or all day if you are having it in the evening. Discard the soaking water before starting.

Put the gammon in a large saucepan, cover with water and add the carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, cover and then turn down the heat to a low simmer for 2¾.

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

When the gammon is cooked, remove from the cooking water and set aside to drain.

Make the glaze by mixing all of the ingredients (except the cloves) together in a bowl.

Cut the rind off the gammon, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat diagonally in a criss-cross pattern and then stud with cloves all over. Put the gammon in a roasting tin, brush/spoon over the glaze and bake for about 30 minutes until sticky and golden. The smell will make you swoon! Serve your baked, glazed gammon with warm gorgeous doorstep bread and salted butter. Yummy!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

The easiest baked gammon recipe I have tried and soooooo delicious!

 

 

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!