Sides

Sweet Apple Relish

This delightful slightly tart yet sweet relish is a perfect accompaniment to my ‘New Favourite Chicken Liver Paté’ but would also work brilliantly with a game terrine or pie, spicy sausages or adorning a fabulous cheeseboard (one of my favourite meals all by itself!). It’s easy to make and will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Makes 250ml

What you need…

25g butter

2 eating apples, peeled cored and diced (5mm)

50g caster sugar

25ml sherry vinegar

75ml red wine

Pinch of salt

What to do…

Melt the butter over a moderate heat. When it begins to foam, tip in the apples and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to turn golden around the edges.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes until reduced and jam-like with the apples cooked through but not mushy.

Allow to cool before serving or decanting into a sterilised jar and popping in the fridge, awaiting an opportunity to indulge! (I will make some at the beginning of December for all those casual dates with cheese that we have planned!)

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

No effort at all

 

 

A Little Aside: Creamed Leeks with Chestnut and Thyme Crumble

Rich and comforting, this is a lovely alternative to the traditional vegetables that we usually have with our Sunday roast. I think you get to this time of year and, as much as the Sunday roast is a fabulous treat, a little variety is called for when we’ve been enjoying the meal most weekends since October! Also, joy of joys, most of the prep on this can be done in advance – always good news when a Sunday Roast is involved!

Serves 6 as a side dish

What you need…

for the crumble topping

100g butter, softened

150g plain flour

50g ground almonds

30g suet

1 happy egg yolk

50g cooked chestnuts, chopped (vacuum-packed or frozen work well)

5 tablespoons thyme, leaves picked

Sea salt and black pepper

for the leeks

1kg leeks, trimmed and chunked

100g butter

Sea salt and black pepper

200ml double cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

What to do…

First, to the crumble: tip the butter and flour into your food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Remove the mixing blade and stir through the ground almonds and suet until evenly incorporated. Likewise, the egg yolk and finally add the chestnuts, thyme, salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Turning to the leeks: melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and gently cook the leeks with a little salt and pepper until softened. Pour in the cream and reduce until thickened. Tip into an ovenproof dish and allow to cool.

20 minutes before you’re due to serve your lunch, top leeks with the crumble and scatter over the nutmeg. Bake in a preheated oven at 160˚c / 325˚f / gas 3 for 15 – 20 minutes until crunchy and golden brown – absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

Lee Bennett, crafthouse-restaurant.com and published by theguardian.com

How easy…

Very and I love that it can be prepared largely in advance.

 

A Little Aside: Parsnips in Creamy Juniper Sauce

This is a truly delicious way to serve parsnips and makes a great, slightly luxurious, change from the various roasted versions that we frequent. For some reason, the natural flavour of the parsnips is accentuated – not sure why but they are gorgeous. We’ve indulged in them with the ‘venison with red wine and chocolate sauce’ recipe: the combination was fabulous. They would also go down really well with a nice bit of steak I reckon. Whatever: enjoy!

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need…

250ml hot water from the kettle

1 chicken stock pot (I use Knorr)

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 shallots, peeled and halved

3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into wine cork-sized chunks

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

15 juniper berries, lightly crushed

Sea salt and black pepper

125ml double cream

What to do…

Make some chicken stock by dissolving the chicken stock pot into the hot water, using a balloon whisk to help things along.

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

Warm the oil over a moderate heat in a casserole for which you have a snugly fitting lid. Chuck in the shallots, parsnips and garlic and sauté until lightly golden. Pour in the stock and stir, ensuring that any deliciousness stuck to the bottom of the pan is reincorporated.

Tip in the thyme and the juniper berries and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whop up the heat and bring the sauce to the boil. Cover with the lid and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.

Place your casserole back on the hob on a high heat and reduce the liquid by half. Stir in the cream, check the seasoning and make sure it’s thoroughly hot before serving – quite simply delicious – I have been tempted to eat just a bowl of these rather than making them merely a little aside!

Inspired by…

The sauce was originally part of a pot-roasted partridge recipe, courtesy of Nigel Slater. I adapted that one, swapping finicky partridge for plump chicken thighs and then thought we’d let the parsnips have an exclusive moment wallowing in the delicious sauce – good call if I do say so myself!

How easy…

Very easy: hob, oven and then a bit of last minute hob that needs little attention!

Scrumptious Christmas Stuffing (revisited and tweaked)

Honestly, if you make this, you’ll never revert to the packet stuff again!!!! And, there’s still plenty of time – I made mine this morning. I know it works because I’ve done it for the last two years and I would urge you to give it a go: it’s sooooo very yummy: juicy and succulent inside; crispy on the outside; delicious throughout! And it has two further benefits: 1) it can be made in advanced and frozen raw, simply to be defrosted and popped in the oven on Christmas day and 2) it’s festively easy – there’s literally just a little whizzing in the processor and then diving into a bowl to mix with your hands (deeply satisfying). Merry Christmas!

What you need…

50g stale bread, roughly chunked

2 large red onions, peeled and quartered

200g vac-packed chestnuts

1 kg shoulder of pork, trimmed and chunked

A large handful of sage, leaves picked

3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

1 whole nutmeg, freshly grated

Zest of ½ lemon

Zest of ¼ orange

What to do…

If you’re preparing the stuffing to cook the same day, preheat your oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas 5.

Tip the bread into your food processor (with the blade fitted) and whizz to create breadcrumbs. Tip them out of the food processor and into a large mixing bowl.

Tip the onions into your food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add them to the bowl.

Tip the chestnuts into the food processor and whizz into little chunks. You guessed it: add them to the bowl.

Into your food processor now add the pork, sage, bacon and season well with the salt and pepper. Add in the nutmeg as well as the lemon and orange zest and pulse the whole lot until you have some chunky stuffing and some mushy – it doesn’t take long.

Tip the pork mixture into the bowl with the other ingredients. With your hands, scrunch the whole lot together to make sure that all the ingredients are well mixed.

Divide into 2: half for inside your bird and the other half to be cooked in an oven-to-tableware baking dish. Wodge the stuffing firmly into the dish and then pop in the oven to cook for 50 minutes or so until bubbling and crispy.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

A festive whizz I’d say!!!

A Little Aside: Crushed Garlicky Potatoes

Ooooooh, so lovely, these potatoes are just so scrumptious, I can eat them all by themselves. Infused with loads of garlic and olive oil with just a smattering of parsley to garnish – they are fab and really dress up the humble new potato, especially as they are coming to the end of their season.

What you need…

250g new potatoes

3 garlic cloves, chopped

100ml milk

100ml olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

What to do…

Pop the potatoes into a heavy based sauce pan with the garlic, milk and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place over a moderate heat and bring to the boil, cooking for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the liquid is largely absorbed.

Use a fork to roughly mash up – you’re not looking for smooth mash but more a rustic chunky affair. Squeeze in the lemon juice, tip in the parsley, stir together and then serve. Marvel that rarely before have potatoes been this wonderful and ever so slightly addictive! Yum!!!

Tip…

This recipe works equally well with other potatoes: you just need to peel them first.

Inspired by…

John Torode

How Easy…

Well, it’s not hard is it?

A Little Aside: Roasted Romano Peppers

Perfect as alternatives or additions to the salad accompanying your summer BBQ or roasted meats and fish, these gloriously sweet peppers are simply embellished with a few cherry tomatoes, some herbs, a drizzle and a dash to create a lovely, easy bit on the side!!!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray

6 romano peppers, halved lengthways and deseeded

24-ish cherry tomatoes, halved

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon capers

A dash of red wine vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

A good drizzle of olive oil

12 thyme sprigs

What to do…

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

Place the peppers onto your baking tray. (I line my tray with foil which is discarded after cooking, leaving a clean baking tray – saves on the washing up!) You may need to balance the peppers against one another to keep them upright.

Into each of the peppers, wodge in as many cherry tomato halves as you fancy. Sprinkle over with garlic and capers and then around ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar per pepper. Season with salt and pepper and then drizzle with olive oil. Share the thyme evenly between the peppers and then pop your oven for about 30 minutes or until just starting to char at the edges.

Serve these effortless, tasty little morsels and marvel at the simplicity of something so tasty!

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Literally a few minutes to prep before the oven takes over – couldn’t be easier!

A Little Aside: Tenderstem Broccoli Gratin

When the kids were growing up, pretty much the only vege that they would eat was broccoli. So, on that basis we ate a lot of it; and I mean A LOT. Obviously, it gets boring consuming mountains of boiled broccoli and steamed broccoli so we’ve also had brocolli that’s been finished off with sautéed garlic and bacon; with garlic and anchovies; or par-boiled and then roasted in the oven with olive oil and garlic. As much as they were all lovely, it’s still broccoli at the end of the day. This recipe however takes it to a different level – the mini trees became mightily interesting, nestling is a smooth, creamy rich gratin – easy to make and lovely to enjoy, as a side or on its own.

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need…

375g tenderstem broccoli

2 happy eggs, lightly beaten

220ml double cream

Splash of milk

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

75g Gruyère, finely grated

A handful of Panko breadcrumbs

What to do…

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

Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 3 – 4 minutes, until just tender. Drain in a colander and run under a cold tap. Tip into an ovenproof dish.

In a jug, mix together the eggs, cream and milk. Pour over the broccoli then toss to coat. Mix the lemon zest, Gruyère and breadcrumbs and then scatter over the broccoli. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and set. Serve piping hot and enjoy.

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Really easy and beautifully different.

A Little Aside: Rosemary and Garlic Parmentier Potatoes

I have been making these gutsy little potatoes, served as a side dish, for years and have been asked several times why they have not been blogged so, here they are…..! They are a delight to make (translate to ‘dead easy’) and even more lovely to enjoy: cooked so that they’re like the crispiest triple-cooked chips you’ve ever had but flavoured with the bliss that is the combination of garlic and rosemary. Just yummy!!!!! (Also, they get on with cooking themselves whilst you do other things).

What you need…

2 largish red potatoes, chunked

1½ tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

Sea salt to season to your taste

What to do…

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

Tip all the ingredients into an ovenproof dish and toss around so that all the potatoes are evenly covered in the other ingredients.

Pop in the oven to cook for 40 minutes, removing half way through to shove the potatoes around a bit so that they don’t stick to the dish and cook evenly.

Remove your crisp, fragrant and ever so tasty potatoes from the oven and serve as an accompaniment to fish or meat (kitchen prepared or on the barbie) or in bowl as naughty finger food!

Inspired by…

Delia does a version with fresh rosemary so I guess it was her. I’ve been doing these for so long, I can’t remember.

How easy…

An absolute doddle to prepare and then they cook themselves whilst you’re dealing with the main event.

John’s Yorkshire Puddings Revisited

Inspired by last night’s GBBO and because the season of Sunday roast dinners is nearly upon us, I’ve decided to re-blog not one of my tweaked recipes but that of John’s Yorkshire Puddings! They’re not filled like those on telly last night but they are legendary! Family and friends get REALLY excited when they come to us for John’s Sunday Roast. Every element of the meal is wonderful, however the Yorkshires and his gravy steal the show! I’ve met many people who reckon they can’t make decent Yorkshire Puddings so I’d again urge trying this recipe – it will transform your Sunday Lunch!

This recipe makes one large Yorkshire Pudding and 12 tiddlers. I can’t tell you how many they serve – they get demolished whether there’s 6 of us, 8 or 10!!!

What you need…

1 x 20cm round baking tin and 1 x 12-hole muffin tin

Fat from top of gravy stock from the previous week’s Roast Dinner or goose fat or lard

270g plain flour

4 large eggs

275ml full fat milk and 200ml water (in the same jug)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 heaped tablespoons suet

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7. I have assumed you are using the same oven to roast your meat (we have 2 chickens).

Ideally, you will have a jug of stock from the previous week’s roast dinner and topping this will be a layer of fat. Scoop off the fat and put half a teaspoon in the bottom of the individual moulds and two dessertspoons into the ‘family-sized’ tin. (The remaining stock should be used as the base for this week’s gravy, excluding any remaining fat).

If you’re starting from scratch, do the same with either goose fat or lard.

Sift the flour into the bowl of a standalone electric mixer. (If you don’t have one, use a roomy bowl with an electric handheld whisk). Make a well and break in the eggs. Whisk slowly. Whilst whisking, gradually pour in the milk and water. Turn the speed up to medium and whisk for 2 minutes. Switch the mixer off. Using a spatula, loosen any stuck flour from the sides or bottom. Season to taste. Mix at medium speed for a further two minutes. Leave to rest until cooking time.

Pop your baking tray and muffin tin into the oven and heat until the fat is smokin’ hot!

Sprinkle the suet into the batter and give it a quick mix to evenly incorporate. Ladle the mixture into the your hot baking tin and muffin tin. Pop them both into the oven and cook for around 20 minutes or until golden brown. Watch those babies rise!!!!!!

Serve with your roast dinner – we don’t follow convention – Yorkshire Puddings are served with chicken, beef, suet puddings……pretty much everything!

johns-yorkshires-1-w

Inspired by…

John, who in turn, tweaked Delia Smith’s recipe

How easy…

They are easy so don’t be hesitant – give them a go!

 

 

 

Unexpectedly Lovely Broccoli Salad!

I’ve never thought about including broccoli in a salad and when I saw this salad, I was a little dubious. However, having tried it, I’m an absolute fan! The broccoli brings crunch and substance to the salad and tastes super-healthy. A perfect foil is provided by both the apple and red pepper, which also deliver a gentle sweetness; and the pine nuts just finish it off beautifully. It’s vibrant, fresh, unusual and really tasty. It’s also really fast and stupidly easy!

Serves 4 – 6 as a side dish

What you need…

300g broccoli, chopped very small

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped very small

1 apple, cored and chopped very small

30g pine nuts

for the dressing

30ml olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon runny honey

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Tip all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar and shake like mad. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

In your salad bowl, pop the rest of the ingredients.

Tip over the salad dressing, toss all the ingredients together so that they are evenly mixed. Serve! Yep, that’s it! And it’s really great!

In the Thermomix…

If you’re lucky enough to have one of these machines, just chuck all ingredients into the bowl and hit 5 seconds at speed 4. The broccoli, pepper and apple only need to be cut into rough chunks, as the machine does the rest!

Inspired by…

Thermomix: The Basic Cook Book

How easy…

Whichever way: stupidly easy!