Monday, 22 December 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Curry

This is a quick and easy curry to make in a slow cooker. If you like a spicy curry then increase the number of chillis that you blend into the mixture.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 900g beef braising/stewing steak, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 chilli pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chilli pepper, whole but pricked all over with the tip of a knife
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 50g fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Brown the meat in a large frying pan with two tablespoons of oil. Turn it after a couple of minutes so that all sides are browned. Unless you have a crazily large frying pan, you'll need to do this in two or three batches. Put the meat straight into the slow cooker when it's done.
  2. Put the remaining oil, onions, garlic, one chilli pepper, root ginger, ground coriander, cumin and turmeric into a blender and blend into a smooth paste.
  3. Fry the onion paste in the same pan as the beef for 10 minutes, stirring well every couple of minutes.
  4. Place in the slow cooker and add the tins of tomatoes and the whole chilli pepper before mixing well.
  5. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  6. 30 minutes before the end, stir in the garam masala and yoghurt into the curry.
  7. Just before serving, stir in the fresh coriander and then serve with rice.

Serves six.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Cumin Rice

This blends a combination of traditional flavours in an accompaniment suitable for almost any curry.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 200g brown basmati rice
  • 660ml cold water

Method:

  1. Put the onion, oil, cumin and coriander seeds into a saucepan and fry over a medium heat until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the rice and cold water and put a lid on the pan.
  3. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a really low heat for twenty minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and serve as soon as possible, but it can keep warm for a few minutes if necessary.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Onion Bhaji

While I've done a recipe for bhajis before on this blog, this one uses gram flour, for that distinctive taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 120g gram flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam massala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100ml water
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil

Method:

  1. Fry the onions in the two tablespoons of oil until soft.
  2. Put the onions into a mixing bowl and add all the other dry ingredients.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Add the water and stir until it's a good sticky mixture.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  6. Split the onion mixture into sixths and drop into the hot oil.
  7. After a minute or so, press the onion bhajis into low disc shapes.
  8. Cook for 10 minutes, or until browned, and then turn over.
  9. Fry the other side until browned, about 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen towel for a couple of minutes before serving.

Makes 6 large bhajis.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Cauliflower Pizza

While you could easily tell the difference between this and a wheat flour based pizza, it makes a tasty alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower, peeled about 1.6kg
  • 300ml water
  • 1 egg, beaten in a cup
  • 80g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 100g tomato pureé
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 200g grated Mozzarella

Method:

  1. Blend the cauliflower to a paste in a blender. You'll need to do it in two or three batches.
  2. Put the cauliflower into a pan and add the water.
  3. Simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes. Stirring every 5 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for ten minutes.
  6. Use a muslin cloth or tea towel to squeeze as much water out of the cauliflower as possible.
  7. Mix the with egg and parmesan into the cauliflower.
  8. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a large baking tray.
  9. Use cling film to roll out the cauliflower mixture into a pizza shape.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes in the oven, or until it starts to brown.
  11. Mix the tomato with the oregano and garlic and then spread over the top of the baked pizza base.
  12. Top with the mozzarella cheese.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes.
  14. Serve with a leaf or potato salad, but delicious when cold.

Serves 4.

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.

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.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Banana Bread Cake

This is a great way to use up bananas that are so ripe that they have gone all black. You can also pretend that it's healthy as it has fruit in it.

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten in a cup
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed into a paste with a couple of drops of milk
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3 tsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees if using a fan oven).
  2. Line a suitable sized cake tin (20cm x 20cm or a 2lb loaf tin) with baking parchment and grease it with butter.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a bowl until they are a fluffy and smooth paste.
  4. Add half the beaten egg and mix well. Once it has all mixed add the remaining egg (doing it in two steps should stop it curdling).
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and banana paste to the bowl and mix well.
  6. Pour into the cake tin and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking when it is done by a skewer coming out clean.
  8. Leave to cool for 15 minutes then carefully remove from the tin.
  9. Once it is entirely cool, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice into a paste and drizzle over the cake.

Makes a 20cm x 20cm cake or a 2lb loaf.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Slow Cooked Sausage and Bean Casserole

This recipe has vegetarian sausages, but if you really need meat in every meal then you can simply substitute pork sausages in their place.

Ingredients:

  • 12 vegetarian sausages
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 aubergines, ends removed and cut into half inch (1.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 400g tin of haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 150ml water
  • 150ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp Henderson's Relish (or Worcestershire sauce if you really can't get Henderson's)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Put the sausages and oil into a large frying pan and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Turn the sausages so that another side of them can be browned and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Once again turn the sausages but this time add the onion and mix well before frying for a further 5 to 10 minutes. If you have a lid for your frying pan then use it to speed up the cooking time.
  4. When the onion is soft transfer everything to your slow cooker.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir it all about halfway through to make sure the aubergine is evenly cooked.
  7. Serve with slices of crusty white bread to dip.

Serves 4 to 5.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Slow Cooked Chicken Carnitas

This shredded meat goes really well as the filling for a tortilla when combined with salsa, guacamole, chopped coriander and finely diced red onion.

Ingredients:

  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 50ml lime juice
  • 100ml chicken stock or hot water with a generous pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 large chicken breasts (650g)

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken breasts from the slow cooker, taking care that they don't fall apart too much, and place on a baking tray with sides.
  4. Preheat a grill on medium-high.
  5. Use two forks to shred the chicken breasts into thin strips.
  6. Pour 80ml of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker over the chicken and mix well.
  7. Put under the grill for 5 or 6 minutes, or until it starts to look well browned in parts.
  8. Add another 80ml of the cooking fluid and stir the meat around on the baking tray, trying to get all the non-browned pieces to be on top.
  9. Grill for a further 5 or 6 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a bowl from the baking tray and serve.

Serves 3 or 4, depending on what else you serve with the meat.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies

The recipe for these is a family recipe based on a cookbook got from the Centre for Alternative Technology which dates back to the year I was born. They are a nice change from your usual day-to-day biscuits.

Ingredients:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g margarine or butter (margarine is better, but make sure it's about 60% fat)
  • 100g crunchy peanut butter (smooth works, but I prefer the texture from crunchy)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • about 50g of granulated light brown sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (180 degrees if it's a fan oven).
  2. Put a greased baking sheet on a large baking tray.
  3. Mix all the ingredients apart from the light brown sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Stir with a wooden spoon until a consistent dough forms.
  5. Take walnut-sized balls of the dough, roll them in the light brown sugar before placing on the baking sheet.
  6. Use a fork to gently press the cookies down to a flatter shape. Be sure to leave a centimetre or two between them.
  7. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, or until they go slightly darker.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Makes 12 to 14 cookies.