Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Slow Roasted Whole Chicken

This gives beautifully succulent meat which just falls off the bones. It's great meat to come home to after a day at work. You'll need quite a large slow cooker, at least 4.7L.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 sticks of celery, washed and cut into pieces about an inch in length
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces about an inch long
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 whole chicken, about 1.6 kg
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters

Method:

  1. Mix the salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Place the celery and carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Crush the garlic with a garlic crusher and rub it over the outside of the chicken.
  4. Rub the salt and paprika mixture over the outside of the chicken.
  5. Place the lemon quarters inside the chicken, removing any bags of jiblets if present!
  6. Place the chicken into the slow cooker and make sure the lid still fits over the pot.
  7. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  8. Heat the grill (or broiler) on a medium heat.
  9. Very carefully lift the chicken out of the slow cooker into an oven proof dish. Don't worry if it falls apart, just lift all the pieces into the dish.
  10. Brown the meat under the grill for about 10 minutes or until nice and crisp.
  11. While the meat is grilling, strain the carrots and celery from the cooking liquid (which makes a great stock) and place the vegetables onto the plate.
  12. Once the chicken is browned, carve and serve onto the plates.

Serves 4 to 5 with potatoes on the side.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Roasted New Potatoes

This is nice and easy to make ahead of time and then just pop in the oven and leave it to cook so you can focus on your main course. If your oven has a timer function then you can even use that to have these ready when you get back from a day at work.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg new potatoes, washed and dried
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees for a fan oven).
  2. Put the potatoes into a large roasting tin.
  3. Drizzle the oil over the potatoes and toss them around until they are evenly coated.
  4. Sprinkle the dried herbs over the potatoes and mix well.
  5. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes.
  6. Serve, possibly sprinkled with a little sea salt.

Serves 4 to 5 as a side dish.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Vegetarian Escalopes

I first had these at a friend's house for a Christmas dinner and they were so tasty that even the meat eaters asked for them the next year. They can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a couple of days, but don't cover them in the egg, flour and breadcrumbs until you're just about to put them into the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 500g dry puy lentils
  • 250g chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 small handful of parsley, chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery, washed and finely chopped
  • 150g dolcelatte or other creamy blue cheese
  • 230g breadcrumbs
  • 100g of vegetarian hard cheese, similar to Parmesan, finely grated
  • 5 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp flour

Method:

  1. Put the lentils into a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer the lentils for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  4. Place the chestnuts, onions, parsley, celery, dolcelatte, hard cheese and 150g of the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl and stir well.
  5. When the lentils are done, strain them and add them into the large mixing bowl. Mix everything together.
  6. Beat two of the eggs together in a cup and then add to the mixing bowl. Mix the whole thing together with a spoon and then with your hands. It'll take a few minutes but it should start to form a solid paste.
  7. Divide the paste into 8 pieces, roll each piece into a ball and then gently press into a wide circle.
  8. Get three bowls and beat the remaining 3 eggs in one of the bowls. Add the flour to another and then the rest of the breadcrumbs (80g) to the last one.
  9. Take one of the eight flattened circles and gently place it in the flour bowl. Brush off any excess flour and then add to the egg bowl, getting it well covered.
  10. Lastly place the egg covered escalope into the breadcrumb bowl and then place on a greased baking tray.
  11. Repeat for the remaining seven.
  12. Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. If you made them ahead of time and they have come out of the fridge then cook for 25 minutes.
  13. Serve with some steamed vegetables and some boulangere potatoes.

Makes 8 escalopes, enough for 4 people.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Potatoes Boulangere

This is a tasty side dish which can be made the day before and stored in the fridge, so ideal for dinner parties. If you do take it out of the fridge then it'll need another 15 or 20 minutes in the oven, but to stop the top burning, cover with foil for the first 30 minutes if you're doing it from the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 1.1kg of potatoes, peeled
  • 2 onions, peeled
  • 300ml hot water
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 125ml milk
  • 50g butter, at fridge temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Slice the potatoes and onions as thinly as possible. If you have a mandolin slicer then use that.
  3. Grease a large and deep oven proof dish.
  4. Place a third of the potatoes into the oven proof dish, then half the onions.
  5. Cover with another third of the potatoes, the remaining onions and then finally the last of the potatoes.
  6. Dissolve the stock cube in the hot water and then pour the stock and milk over the potato and onions.
  7. Dot the top with thin slices of the butter (it's easier to slice if it's from the fridge).
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the top is nice and browned.

Makes enough for a generous four portions.

Friday, 24 October 2014

One Pot Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder

This is a really quick one pot dish which you can put on before you head to work and come back home to lovely tender meat.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 12 to 16 small new potatoes
  • 1 lamb boneless shoulder joint (about 750g)
  • 1 lamb stock cube
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 300ml red wine, such as a Chianti
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, cut in half
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Put the carrots and potatoes into the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Place the lamb joints, with string removed, on top of the vegetables.
  3. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water.
  4. Add the stock and wine into the slow cooker.
  5. Place the rosemary into the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on slow for 8 hours.
  7. Serve onto plates.
  8. The liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker can be made into a gravy by adding a couple of tablespoons of plain flour to the bottom of a pan, mix into a paste with a couple of spoons of the liquid and then add about half a pint of the liquid. Simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes enough for four people.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Slow Cooked Pea and Ham Soup

When I first tried this I was aiming for a stew, but got a very tasty soup instead. I've since decided that it's best as a soup anyway.

Ingredients:

  • One onion, finely chopped
  • Two carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500g dried split green peas
  • 1kg gammon joint, a smoked sweet cure is best
  • 20g fresh mint

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients apart from the gammon and the mint into the slow cooker.
  2. Cover with boiling water and mix well.
  3. Place the gammon on top of the mixture, fat side up and top up the water so that it is mostly covered.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Remove the gammon from the slow cooker and trim the fat off it.
  6. Use forks to rip the gammon into small strips and return these to the slow cooker and mix well.
  7. Finely chop the fresh mint with a knife.
  8. Serve into bowls, garnishing each bowl with a sprinkle of the mint and an optional spoonful of cremé fraiche if you have some to hand.

Serves 5 to 6 people.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Creamy Courgette Pasta

This is a quick and simple pasta dish that is a great way to use up some spare courgettes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 courgettes, about 500g, coarsely grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 225g dried spaghetti
  • 150ml cremé fraiche

Method:

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large and deep frying or sauté pan.
  3. Once the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta to it and let it simmer for 12 minutes.
  4. While it is simmering, throw the courgette and garlic into the frying pan and stir every few minutes.
  5. When the pasta only has a couple of minutes left, add the cremé fraiche to the frying pan, season well with salt and pepper and then stir it until well mixed.
  6. Drain the pasta and then add it to the courgette mixture, and stir well.
  7. Server immediately while the sauce is still hot.

Serves 2.