Steak & Ale Pie

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Screenshot_2016-04-25-21-32-15-1[1] 26/04/2016

An unadulterated British classic! Pie and mash! The beef shin used in this recipe goes meltingly tender during it’s long stint in the oven and the ale and beef stock create a rich, deep flavoured gravy that clings to the smoky bacon and onions to deliver a huge flavour punch. Topped with buttery, crisp pastry, this is a pie to get you back on track in life and assure you everything will be alright – seriously.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 900g stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 3cm cubes
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 long shallots, quartered
  • 125g smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into 1cm strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • 330ml stout
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp cornflour, blended with 2 tbsp water to make a smooth paste
  • ½ puff pastry block

METHOD:

  1.  Season the beef cubes with salt and black pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large flameproof casserole dish and fry the meat over a high heat. Do this in several batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, transferring each batch of meat to a plate as it is browned. Set aside.
  2.  Add another tablespoon of oil to the casserole dish and cook the shallots for four to five minutes, then add the bacon and fry until slightly browned. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds, then tip the meat into the casserole dish and add the herbs. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C.
  3. Pour the stout into the pan and bring it to the boil, stirring to lift any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock. Put a lid on the casserole dish and place it in the oven for two hours, or until the beef is tender and the sauce has reduced.
  4.  Remove the casserole dish from the oven and skim off any surface fat. Taste the sauce and add seasoning if necessary, then stir in the cornflour paste.
  5.  Put the casserole dish on the hob and simmer the mixture for one to two minutes, stirring, until thickened. Transfer to a pie dish and leave to cool.
  6. Roll out the puff pastry to the size of your pie dish and lay it over the filling. Make a small hole in the centre for the steam to escape while cooking. Brush the pastry with a little milk.
  7. When ready, bake the pie in the oven for 30 minutes at 200C/fan 180C until the pastry is golden brown and the pie is bubbling hot.

Satay Chicken & Noodles

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Screenshot_2016-04-19-20-49-37-1[1] 19/04/2016

An extremely tasty, flavourful dish that is just as good cold as it is warm. If you like peanuts, this one is for you. The fresh ingredients deliver vibrant, aromatic depth which tastes great with the creamy nuttiness of peanuts and coconut. I have left the seeds of the chilli in and used medium curry powder for a little punch but feel free to remove them if you want it mild.

No oil is needed for frying. The vegetables are lightly blanched with the noodles and the chicken is grilled on skewers.

This recipe makes enough to serve 2 as a dinner but you could double the amount of chicken and the noodle ingredients as there is enough satay sauce to serve 4. I have suggested freezing half the satay for another time but why not double up and have extra for a proper tasty next day lunch?

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the satay:

  • small piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • zest and juice 1 lime
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp medium curry powder
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy)
  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
  • 40g creamed coconut, chopped finely
  • Hot water

For the noodles:

  • 1 ½ – 2 bunches dried rice noodles
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • ½ carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • Small handful mange tout
  • Fresh coriander and lime wedges, to serve

Method:

  1. Add the ginger, garlic, lime zest and juice into a bowl. Add the honey, soy, curry powder, chilli, creamed coconut and peanut butter. Give it a good mix, adding a small splash of water if it’s too stiff. (At this point, half the mix and freeze one half for another time). Spoon two-thirds of the remaining mix into a small pan. Set aside for Step 3.
  2. Cut the chicken into strips, tip it into the remaining third of the peanut-butter mix then stir well. Cover with cling film and chill until required.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, heat the satay sauce mix. The sauce needs to be heated gently and stirred. Add a little water to loosen if needed.
  4. Thread the chicken into ‘S’ shapes onto the skewers.
  5. Heat the grill to high and line a baking tray with foil. Line up the skewers on the tray. Grill the skewers for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until lightly charred. Remove from the skewers and set aside.
  6. While the chicken is grilling, break the rice noodles up into a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
  7. When the noodles are nearly cooked, add the carrots and mange tout to the bowl. Leave for 1 minute to warm through and soften slightly then drain and add back to the bowl along with the spring onions and coriander.
  8. Add the satay sauce to the noodles and mix thoroughly with two forks. Serve onto plates and top with the marinated, grilled chicken.

Spicy Sausage Calzones

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IMG_20160414_224340[1] 15/04/2016

Make a batch of clever, cook-from-frozen calzones to pull out of the freezer anytime and have a house filled with fresh doughy aromas and an amazing dinner with no fuss.

Oozing, gooey cheese mixed with subtly spiced chorizo and comforting tomato sauce is encased in crunchy, fresh pizza dough that will easily beat any take-out favourites!

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Use full-fat mozzarella. The high water content in the low-fat versions leaks out when cooking and leaves you with a soggy calzone. No one likes a soggy calzone.

Ingredients:

  • Your favourite pizza dough recipe or 500g ciabatta bread mix
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150g cooking chorizo, diced
  • 1 red chilli, sliced and deseeded if a milder flavour is desired
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 4-500ml passata
  • A small bunch of basil, chopped
  • 150-200g mozzarella block, cut into large cubes
  • Fine semolina or plain flour, for dusting

Method:

  1. Make a batch of your pizza dough (see my pizza dough recipe-I’d love to provide a link but haven’t got a clue how to do it). Alternatively, make the bread mix following packet instructions. I always add 1 tsp of dried herbs and some garlic powder for added flavour. Leave it to rise while you make the filling.
  2. Dry fry the chorizo chunks in a frying pan until they begin to brown and release oil. Drain half of the oil and set the chorizo aside. Fry the onion in the remaining oil until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Return the chorizo to the pan with the paprika, chilli and passata. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced. Stir in the basil and season well. Allow to cool a little
  3. Cut the mozzarella block into large cubes. If you can’t find the hard mozzarella blocks, you can use the ball but drain really well in a sieve before using.
  4. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces on a work surface dusted with fine semolina or flour. Roll each piece out to make ½ cm thick rounds about 20cm wide. Put a generous spoonful of the sauce onto each base and spread over half the dough leaving a 3cm border around the edge. Scatter a few chunks of mozzarella on top.

IMG_20160414_223859[1]       5. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the sides together making sure to seal the whole edge. Fold the sealed dough over and crimp to make sure no sauce leaks out when cooking. Make a steam whole in the top of each. Carefully transfer the calzones to a baking paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid then individually wrap in cling film.

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6. To serve, heat the oven to 200C. Unwrap the frozen calzones, put onto a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes or until the dough is puffed and golden. Stick a metal skewer into the steam hole to check the filling is piping hot before serving.

Serve with salad and your favourite sauce to dunk the crunchy, doughy crust into.

Meatball & Mozzarella Bake

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IMG_20160409_130649[1] 09/04/2016

You can’t plate this up politely. The cheesy topping goes deliciously gooey and stringy so just put it in the middle of the table with a salad and loads of crusty garlic bread and let everyone wrestle out a portion.

The sauce is delicately flavoured with paprika and the tiniest bit of chilli heat which mellows as it bakes to give a wonderful depth of flavour. Teamed with oozing cheese and chunky veg, this is a real luxurious meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 250g lean beef mince
  • 250g lean pork mince
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Milk

For the sauce:

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 200g mozzarella (Block form), grated
  • 100g mascarpone
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:

  1. For the meatballs: Put the onion, beef and pork mince, breadcrumbs, fennel, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic and plenty of seasoning into a bowl. Add a splash of milk to soak up the breadcrumbs and combine. Shape into 20 meatballs. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches. Once browned, set aside on a plate.
  2. For the sauce: Add the chopped onions to the pan with another Tbsp oil. Fry gently until soft then add the garlic, pepper and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the passata, smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble gently for 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  4. Add the meatballs back to the sauce.
  5. Mix 150g of the grated mozzarella with the mascarpone and a little seasoning. Spoon the cheesy mix over the meatballs in dollops and scatter over the remaining mozzarella.
  6. Heat the oven to 190C. Bake for 30 minutes until the meatballs are piping hot and cooked through and the cheesy top is golden and bubbling. Let the dish cool for 5 minutes before spooning into nice large bowls and diving in with some crusty garlic bread.

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Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken wrapped in Parma Ham

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IMG_20160406_183022[1] 08/04/2016

What’s not to like about that title? This isn’t really a recipe, more of a ‘what I had in the fridge for dinner’. It is very simple and you can swap out the fillings for whatever you have to hand. It doesn’t take too long to prepare and can even be done in advance if you’re organised. I didn’t make mine in advance :p

The spinach & feta combo is a bit of a favourite of mine at the moment. I eat it wrapped in filo parcels, spread over toasted pittas and stuffed into various meat and vegetables. It’s definitely worth buying a decent feta cheese with a nice tang. The saltiness goes really nicely with the silky wilted spinach.

For one

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1-2 slices parma ham
  • A generous handful of spinach
  • 15-20g feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Score the chicken breast (but not all the way through) to open it out. Cover with cling film and gently bash with a rolling pin to open out further and tenderise.
  2. For the spinach and feta filling: boil 1cm of water in a pan and add the spinach until just wilted (20-30 seconds). Remove from the heat, drain and squeeze out the excess water with your hands. I find wearing rubber gloves helps for this bit.
  3. Roughly chop the wilted spinach and add to a bowl along with the crumbled feta, seasoning and nutmeg. Mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Stuff the mix into the chicken breast and roll the chicken up to enclose it. Wrap in parma ham to secure further and add more flavour.
  5. Rub the chicken breast with a tiny bit of oil and season. Place on a foil lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30-35 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast. Check that the juices run clear before serving.

I served my chicken with whole-wheat pasta tossed through some of the chicken juices and steamed tender stem broccoli.

Shredded Chicken Burritos

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IMG_20160406_081801[1] 06/04/2016

Crispy burritos filled with juicy Mexican shredded chicken with a rich sauce, Mexican red rice and cheese. These are MADE for freezing – a perfect standby meal! If you aren’t freezing the burritos, feel free to add other things inside such as avocado, fresh salsa, pico de gallo, lettuce and tomato! (These are not suitable for freezing which is why I have served them on the side).

Ingredients:

Chicken & Sauce:

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless boneless
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp chipotle chilli paste
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, ground cumin, smoked paprika and garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Mexican rice:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper / capsicum, diced
  • ½ cup tinned black beans
  • ½ cup tinned corn kernels
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 4 tbsp pasatta or chopped tomatoes (from the chicken recipe)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper

Guacamole:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Zest and juice of ½ a lime
  • Chopped coriander (optional)

Extras:

  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh coriander
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Salad

 

Method:

For the shredded chicken:

  1. Place the chicken & sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan. Simmer covered on medium low for 20 – 30 minutes, turning chicken occasionally, until chicken can be shredded with 2 forks.
  2. Shred the chicken using 2 forks and set aside. Keep fairly chunky for some nice texture.
  3. At this point, you can blend the remaining sauce to be really smooth but I like mine a bit chunky.
  4. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the shredded chicken in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When starting to brown and crisp slightly, add the sauce a bit at a time until a nice thick shredded chicken sauce is achieved. Add chopped coriander and lime and set aside.

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For the rice:

  1. Combine the Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Add garlic and cook for 10 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onion becomes translucent – about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the black beans and corn. Cook for 1 minute just to heat through.
  5. Add the rice and sauce and stir quickly to coat the rice evenly.
  6. Season with black pepper. Set aside.

For the guacamole:

  1. Remove the avocado flesh from the skin. Chop then mash to a lumpy paste. Add all the other ingredients and mix to combine.

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To assemble:

  1. Microwave the tortillas very briefly to warm them up (15 seconds or so). This ensures they don’t crack when you roll them.
  2. Place 1 tortilla on a workbench – cover the rest with a tea towel to keep them warm.
  3. Place cheese down the middle of the tortilla, then top with 2 generous spoons of rice and then 2 generous spoons of chicken.
  4. Roll the burrito up by tucking in two ends then rolling. Wrap in foil to hold it together.
  5. If you are serving it immediately, heat a dry frying pan over medium heat. Cook the burritos for around 4 to 5 minutes on each side to make the tortilla brown and heat the inside through.
  6. Serve with the guacamole and fresh salad.
  7. If freezing, place in the freezer. To reheat, you can either bake from frozen (with foil on) at 180C for about 40 to 45 minutes, or thaw and cook in the skillet per above. You could microwave it (remove the foil) but I like my burritos a bit crispy!

Sri Lankan pork kalu pol curry

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IMG_20160401_211717[1] 01/04/2016

I have recently been travelling around Sri Lanka hence my lack of blogging and extreme over-dosing of all things curry.  In Sri Lanka, there are many types of curry available but it is common to ask for ‘rice and curry’ when eating out and you are presented with whatever the holding decides to cook up on that day. It is also good practice to order a couple of hours before you want to eat as spice blends are ground from scratch. They take time but man, are they worth it?!?! This particular recipe pays testament to that. Kalu pol means ‘black coconut’ and refers to a special spice powder of dark roasted coconut, dried chillies, rice and fennel, cumin and mustard seeds, which is used to thicken curries. This curry also uses the dark-roasted Sri Lankan curry powder, giving the finished curry its traditional ‘black’ colour. If you are not lucky enough to have travelled there yourself and bought some ready grinded spice blend, I have included the recipe to make your own. This dish is traditionally served with red rice or coconut rice (kiribath). I have also served it with paratha and salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsps vegetable oil
  • 10cm cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
  • 6 x 2.5cm pieces pandan leaf (optional)
  • 24 curry leaves
  • 250g onions, finely chopped
  • 25g garlic, grated
  • 65g ginger, grated
  • 2 fat lemongrass stalks, core thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 ½ Tbsps Roasted Sri Lankan curry powder (see note)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 5kg boned shoulder of pork, cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the kalu pol:

  • 2 tsp uncooked white rice
  • 15g dried red Kashmiri chillies (cut dramatically for a milder curry)
  • 1 Tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 50g fresh coconut, finely grated
  • 2 Tbsp tamarind paste (or lemon juice)

Method:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the cinnamon, pandan and curry leaves and leave them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add the onion and fry for 6 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass and fry for 2 minutes more. Add the chilli powder, curry powder and turmeric and fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add the vinegar and let it bubble away for a minute then add the tomatoes, pork, black pepper, 750ml water and 1-2tsp salt. Bring to a simmer. Part cover and cook for 1 hour or until the pork is almost tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, for the kalu pol, heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the rice and shake it around for about 3 minutes until richly golden. Tip into a bowl, add the chillies to the pan and shake around for another 3 minutes until they darken slightly, taking care not to let them burn. Add to the bowl with the rice. Now add the mustard, fennel and cumin seeds to the pan. Stir them around constantly for 3 minutes until richly browned and add to the bowl. Put the coconut into the pan and stir it around constantly for 5 minutes until richly golden. Tip everything into a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder. Do this in batches if necessary. Stir in the tamarind paste and enough additional water to form a smooth paste.
  5. Add the kalu pol to the curry and leave to simmer, uncovered, for a further 10-15 minutes until the pork is very tender and sauce has reduced and thickened.

Note:

One of the characteristics of Sri Lankan cuisine is their preference for freshly prepared curry powders rather than pastes. The roasted curry powder is predominantly used in meat and fish dishes.

  • 1 Tbsp uncooked white rice
  • 50g coriander seeds
  • 25g cumin seeds
  • 25g fennel seeds
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds (from about 10 green pods)
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 dried red Kashmiri chillies

Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the rice ad shake the grains around for about 3 minutes until medium brown in colour. Tip the rice into a bowl and leave to cool while you do the same to the spices and then to the dried chillies. Mix the rice, spice and chillies together and grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Store in a screw top jar and use within 3 months.