Thursday, 29 September 2016

Green Bean Casserole

I think that this should, traditionally, use concentrated mushroom soup as the basis of the sauce, but as that's hard to get in the UK this recipe makes a flavoursome mushroom stock instead.

Ingredients:

  • 450g closed cup mushrooms, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 25g butter
  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 1 pot of chicken stock gel (or stock cube)
  • 300ml milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 650g frozen green beans

Method:

  1. Place the butter and closed cup mushrooms into a saucepan and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, or until the mushrooms really start to dry out and brown.
  2. Meanwhile, put the porcini mushrooms into the boiling water and leave them for at least 10 minutes to re-hydrate.
  3. After the procini mushrooms are nice and soft, remove them from the water (but keep the water) and finely chop them.
  4. When the closed cup mushrooms are done, add the porcini mushrooms, their water, the chicken stock gel/cube, the milk, salt and pepper and plain flour into the pan and mix well until all combined.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  6. In a large saucepan, heat the onions and sunflower oil over a medium heat until the onions are nice and soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Combine the mushroom liquid, half the fried onions (and all of the liquid from the onions) and the green beans together and pour into a large oven proof dish.
  8. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.
  9. Remove the foil, sprinkle the remaining fried onions over the top and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
  10. Serve with roasted or slow cooked meats such as beef or pork.

Serves 6 as a generous side dish.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Creamed Spinach

This is a straight forward side dish which goes well with steak or slow roasted beef.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 25g butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g frozen spinach
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the butter, onion and garlic in a saucepan over a medium heat until the onion starts to soften. This should be about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the frozen spinach and put a lid over the saucepan. Leave to heat through for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and stir well. Keep stirring every couple of minutes until most of the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  4. Right before you're ready to serve, add the cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.
  5. Leave to heat through and then pour into a pre-heated serving bowl.

Serves 4.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Spinach and Green Lentil Slow Cooker Stew

This is a simple but flavoursome stew that is easy to put on in the morning before work, all ready for the evening meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 160g bacon lardons
  • 250g dried green lentils
  • 425g frozen spinach
  • 600ml cold water
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pot of chicken stock gel (or a stock cube)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Put the sunflower oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat.
  2. Fry the bacon until it starts to brown, stirring frequently to get an even coat of colour.
  3. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, season generously with salt and pepper before giving it a good stir.
  4. Cook on low for 9 hours.
  5. Serve topped with a sprinkle of cheese.

Serves two as a main course.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Potato Salad

I prefer the dressing of potato salad to have a slight kick, which the Dijon mustard provides here perfectly

Ingredients:

  • about 900g of potatoes, a waxy type is best, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp of Dijon mustart
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 spring onions, ends removed and finely sliced

Method:

  1. Put the potatoes into a sauce pan and cover with fresh water.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, use a fork to check that the potatoes are starting to go slightly soft on the outside and aren't crunchy in the middle.
  3. While the potatoes cook, mix the mustard, mayonnaise and vinegar together in the bottom of a large bowl.
  4. Drain the potatoes and place in the large bowl.
  5. Mix well so that the potatoes are well coated with the dressing.
  6. Sprinkle the spring onions over the top of the potatoes before mixing them into the salad.
  7. Place in the fridge to cool until you are ready to eat it.

Makes about 4 side servings of potato salad.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Briam (Baked Potato and Courgette Stew)

This requires a few simple ingredients, but the long cooking time really brings out the flavour in them. This is probably a bit more tomato flavoured than a traditional briam, but I like it that way.

Ingredients:

  • 450g potatoes, sliced into 1/4 cm slices
  • 400g courgette (about 3 normal sized), sliced into 1/4 cm slices
  • 1 onion, peeled, quarter and cut into 1/4 cm slices
  • 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 35ml cold water
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 65 ml olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (or 180 degrees if a fan oven)
  2. Mix the potato, courgette and onion into a large baking dish or high walled roasting tin.
  3. Mix the tomatoes, water, puree, parsley, oil and salt and pepper in a jug until they are blended.
  4. Pour the tomato mixtue over the vegetables.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and fold it over the edges.
  6. Roast in the oven for about an hour before removing the foil and giving it a good stir.
  7. Return to the oven uncovered for a further 30 minutes, adding a dash of water if it's dried out.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving (or serve cold), possibly with a bit of feta cheese crumbled over the top.

Serves about 3 people as a main course, more as a side dish.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Fresh Pitta Bready

Making pitta bread at home leads to a wonderfully thick pocket and, once you ignore rising time, is surprisingly easy.

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1 sachet of fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 150ml of water

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and olive oil in a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and mix the dough together with your fingers.
  3. Flour takes a while to absorb the water, so you'll need to work it with your hands for a few minutes to get a smooth dough. If it looks a little too dry and cracks then add a bit more water, about a teaspoon at a time, kneading for about a minute before deciding if it's still too dry.
  4. Knead for a further 5 minutes, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about an hour.
  5. Place a pizza stone or the thickest baking tray you have into your oven and pre-heat to 250 degrees.
  6. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and fold it back in on itself until you've knocked the bubbles out of it.
  7. Divide into 6 evenly sized balls.
  8. Dust the surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll each ball out into an oval about half a cm thick.
  9. Remove the pizza stone from the oven and place the ovals on it before returning to the oven. Unless you have a huge pizza stone you'll have to do the cooking in two or three batches.
  10. Cook the pizza in the oven for about 5 minutes. They'll puff up into big domes and you want to remove them from the oven as soon as they start to colour.
  11. Cover the cooked pitta with a clean tea-towel and leave to cool before eating.

Makes 6 pitta bread.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Sous-vide Miso Glazed Courgette

Cooking vegetables sous-vide doesn't quite have the same impact as cooking meat in it, but it does lead to delightfully flavoured vegetables cooked to perfection with minimal effort or monitoring.

Ingredients:

  • 500g courgette (about 3 normal supermarket sized ones), sliced into long slices about 3/4 cm thick
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 2 tsp soy sauce

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the water bath to 83 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place the courgettes into a plastic zip-lock bag.
  3. Mix the garlic powder, miso paste and soy sauce into a smooth paste in a small bowl.
  4. Pour the mixture into the plastic bag and work it into the courgettes using your hands on the outside.
  5. Space the courgette slices evenly in the bag and then use the water submersion method to squeeze out the air before sealing the top just above the water line.
  6. Place in the sous-vide cooker for 40 to 60 minutes.
  7. When you're ready to serve, remove from the water bath and pour the liquid in the bag into a small sauce pan.
  8. Simmer the liquid for a couple of minutes while you plate up the slices of courgette.
  9. Use a brush to cover the slices with the cooking liquid once it has reduced down.

Serves 2.