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.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Courgette Fritters

These can make a quick and simple snack on their own or can be combined with some other vegetables for a fuller meal.

Ingredients:

  • 3 courgettes, about 500g, coarsely grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp self raising flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Mix the courgettes, garlic and flour in a large bowl until it's all the same texture.
  2. Season the mixture well.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat.
  4. When the oil stars to smoke, take the courgette mixture a tablespoon at a time and drop it into the pan before pressing it down flat into a patty shape.
  5. Cook for 5 minutes on each side until nice and crispy.
  6. Remove from the frying pan and leave to cool on some kitchen paper while you cook the other fritters.
  7. Serve with cremé fraiche, mustard or a tomato salsa.

Serves about 2.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blackberry Whisky

I'd never heard of this until I recently made a batch. It's a brilliant combination of flavours and a great reminder of summer in the depths of winter.

Ingredients:

  • Enough blackberries to fill a jar with a tight fitting lid
  • Some caster sugar
  • A bottle of cheap blended whisky

Method:

  1. Wash the blackberries and make sure that any bugs or green bits of plant are removed.
  2. Dry the blackberries with a paper towel and place two thirds of them into the jar.
  3. Pour caster sugar over the blackberries in the jar until they are mostly covered.
  4. Shake the jar a bit and then place in the remaining blackberries.
  5. Fill the jar to the top with whisky.
  6. Place a lid on the jar and shake well.
  7. Shake the jar every morning until all the sugar has dissolved.
  8. Place in the back of a dark cupboard and leave for 6 months.
  9. Use to warm yourself on a cold February night.