Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Christmas Samosas

These are really easy to make, they just require a bit of chopping and folding.

Ingredients:

  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 30g shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped
  • 60g dried cranberries
  • 175g sultanas
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • zest of 1 orange/li>
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cooking apple, peeled, core removed and finely chopped
  • juice from 1 orange
  • 75g butter, melted in a microwave in a cut
  • 270g pack of filo pastry (about 6 or 7 sheets)

Ingredients:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or 180 if it's a fan oven).
  2. Get the filo pastry out of the fridge and put it on the side.
  3. Combine the apricots, nuts, cranberries, sultanas, cinnamon, nutmeg, zest, brandy and honey in a large bowl.
  4. Add the chopped apple and pour the orange juice over it and mix well again.
  5. Leave to stand for at least twenty minutes.
  6. Cut the sheets of filo pastry length ways to make three long strips.
  7. Brush the top strips with the melted butter.
  8. Place a little under a tablespoon of the mincemeat at one end of each strip of filo.
  9. Fold over one corner of the pastry to make a triangle of filling, then fold it up over the perpendicular. You'll probably need to hold the mincemeat filling in with a carefully placed finger.
  10. Now fold it diagonally the other way, before making another perpendicular fold.
  11. Repeat this until you've got a neat pastry triangle.
  12. Place the triangle onto a baking tray and repeat the process for all the other strips, remembering to brush each new strip with butter before adding the filling and folding.
  13. Once all the triangles are on the baking sheet, brush them all with the remaining butter.
  14. Bake for 18 minutes or until nicely crisp and golden.
  15. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

Makes 18 to 20 samosas.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Shredded Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder

This gives you a wonderfully spiced and shreddy lamb that is great stuffed into pitta bread with some salad.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 800g lamb shoulder
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Mix the garlic, lemon, oil, cumin, paprika, sumac, cinnamon and salt in a bowl until it's a smooth paste.
  2. Use a sharp knife to score the outside of the lamb shoulder.
  3. Rub the paste over both sides of the lamb shoulder and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight.
  4. Put the chopped onion into the bottom of the slow cooker with 100ml of water. Rest the lamb shoulder on top.
  5. Cook on low for 10 hours.
  6. Carefully remove from the slow cooked and shred with a fork before serving.

Serves about 3.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

Manicotti are basically just large cannelloni. While hard to get in the UK, you can use rolled up lasagna sheets as a good replacement.

Ingredients:

  • 450g ricotta cheese
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small tin of tomato puree
  • 1 large tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 400g fresh lasagna sheets
  • 225g fresh spinach
  • 225g fresh rocket
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 350g grated mozzarella cheese
  • 120g finely grated parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
  2. Put several sheets of kitchen paper on a baking tray and spread the ricotta out over it.
  3. Fry the onion in the olive oil in a sauce pan for 5 minutes, or until it starts to soften.
  4. Add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes and reduce to a simmer. Leave this simmering with a lid on while you do the rest of the preparation.
  5. Put on a large pot of water to boil and salt it well.
  6. When the pot is boiling, slide the sheets of lasana into it, count to 30, and then remove them with tongs in the same order you added them.
  7. Spread the sheets out on many plates and or baking trays so that they don't stick together.
  8. Blanch the spinach and rocket in the pasta water for 20 seconds. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water and then spin dry in a salad spinner.
  9. Finely chop the dried spinach and rocket, add to a bowl with the egg, garlic, and half of both of the cheeses.
  10. Scrape the cheese off the kitchen towel into the same bowl as the spinach.
  11. Season well with salt and pepper and mix the contents of the bowl until it's all uniform.
  12. Put half the tomato sauce into the bottom of a large, high sided, oven proof dish.
  13. Take each sheet of lasagna, spoon two tablespoons of the spinach and ricotta mix into the middle.
  14. Roll up and place into the oven proof dish on top of the tomato mixture.
  15. Repeat for the remaining sheets (or until you run out of filling).
  16. Spread the rest of the tomato mixture over the top of the pasta and then top with the remaining cheese.
  17. Cover the dish with foil.
  18. If needed, you can leave this in the fridge for a day or two until you need to serve it.
  19. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the foil and then bake for another 15 minutes.
  20. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4 people.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Fig Brûlée

This dessert takes less than 5 minutes, but is tasty and not too sweet. Ideal for the end of a heavy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 6 whole figs, sliced in half, stalks removed
  • 12 tsp of caster sugar
  • 3 generous scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream

Method:

  1. Remove the figs from the fridge at least an hour before serving.
  2. Place the fig halves, cut side up, on a flame proof surface and sprinkle each half with most of a tsp of sugar.
  3. Use a blow torch to carefully caramellize the sugar on top of each fig, working away from yourself from nearest to furthest.
  4. Place 4 halves on a chilled plate with a scoop of ice cream.
  5. Serve with a knife and fork to eat.

Serves 3.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Oven Roasted Broccoli

This cooks the broccoli so that it still has a nice crunch. If soggy vegetables are your thing then I suggest avoiding this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Three large stalks of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and ends removed
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. In a baking tray, mix the broccoli florets, oil, salt and pepper and garlic until well coated.
  3. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and then mix well.
  5. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Take out of the oven, sprinkle the lemon juice over the top.
  7. Serve as a side dish.

Serves 4.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Tarragon Mashed Potato

The addition of tarragon to this gives it an unusual flavour which goes well with chicken dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 10g fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 30ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes in a pan of water for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and return to the same pan.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mash until smooth.
  4. Serve immediately, but if you need to keep it around for a few minutes then return the lid to the pan.

Serves 4.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Sous-vide Chicken Thighs

Cooking these slowly really breaks down the toughness while preserving the flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs with skins still on and bones in
  • a generous seasoning of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the sous-vide machine to 74 degrees celsius.
  2. Lay the chicken thighs out on a large tray and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the thighs over and season the other side.
  4. Place two thighs each in smaller zip lock bags and seal using the submersion method.
  5. Cook for 4 hours in the water bath.
  6. Once the time is up, place into a large bowl of cold water or an ice bath and chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Place in the fridge until you want to serve them.
  8. When you want to serve them, heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan or skillet over a high heat.
  9. Take the fillets out of the bag, scrape off the congealed liquid (this makes great stock).
  10. Wipe the thigh dry with a piece of kitchen towel.
  11. Repeat for the remaining thighs.
  12. Place the thighs skin side down into the hot pan.
  13. Crisp up the skin for 4 to 5 minutes.
  14. Turn over and cook the underside for 2 minutes.
  15. Plate up on to pre-heated plates. Consider using any crispy bits or liquid in the pans to make a pan sauce.

Serves 4.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Egg and Potato Hash

This is a simple potato hash without any of the meat that traditionally goes into one. The capers act as little salty pieces in a similar way to bacon would in a non-vegetarian version.

Ingredients:

  • 200g of waxy potatoes, cut into pieces of about 2 cm
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp capers, drained
  • 5g fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil.
  2. Boil for 7 minutes and drain immediately.
  3. Put the sunflower oil in a large frying pan with high sides over a medium heat.
  4. Add the drained potatoes while still cold and when it starts to sizzle, give them a good stir.
  5. Stir every couple of minutes for another 5 minutes.
  6. Crack the eggs into a cup or measuring jug, whisk together with a fork and the pour into the hot frying pan, stirring immediately.
  7. Stir for about a minute, until the egg is cooked and remove from the heat.
  8. Sprinkle in the rest of the ingredients, mix well and serve.

Serves 1 as the whole meal or two as a side for a main meal.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Halloumi Pie

I came across this as a snack food on a trip to Cyprus. I tried to find a recipe in English when I came home, but failed to find anything similar to decided to make it myself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity of pizza dough made as in here
  • 200g block of halloumi, coarsely grated
  • 20g fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Make the pizza dough as described in the linked recipe.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  3. Mix the grated cheese and parsley together in a bowl.
  4. Split the dough into quarters.
  5. Take one of the quarters and roll it out on a well floured surface until it's about 10cm round.
  6. Put one quarter of the cheese and parsley mix into the centre of the disk of dough.
  7. Use a pastry brush to dampen about 1 cm of the edge of the dough.
  8. Fold opposite sides of the dough disk to each other in the centre and squeeze together.
  9. Work along the edges, squeezing them together until the whole thing is sealed.
  10. Place on an oiled baking tray.
  11. Repeat for the remaining quarters.
  12. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  13. Serve with some sort of sauce, such as tomato salsa or olive tapenade.

Makes 4 halloumi pies.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Halogen Oven Potato Slices

I've been experimenting with a halogen oven recently. It provides a very dry heat and gets to temperature quickly, so idea for when cooking for a couple of people.

Ingredients:

  • 400g waxy potatoes (about 4 or 5)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Chipotle chilli powder

Method:

  1. Slice the potatoes into 5mm slices and put into a bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with cold water and soak the potatoes for at least 30 minutes. This helps to remove some starch and stop the outside burning when cooking.
  3. Drain the potatoes and put in a new bowl.
  4. Toss the potato slices with the olive oil
  5. Sprinkle over the garlic powder and powdered pepper and toss until well mixed.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then place on the baking tray for your halogen oven.
  7. Place the tray in the oven on the high shelf.
  8. Turn on the halogen oven Cook for 22 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
  9. Serve with a cool tomato salsa and sour cream.
Serves 2 as a side dish.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Deep Fried Frozen Egg

By freezing the egg you can get the white to be cooked but the yolk to still be nice and runny. It's basically just a scotch egg without the sausage meat, but it's a fun recipe to play around with techniques.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 6 tbsp bread crumbs

Method:

  1. Place 2 eggs in a bag in the freezer for at least 6 hours.
  2. Remove the eggs from the freezer, warm briefly under a tap, crack off the shell, return to the bag and return to the freezer to re-chill.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in your deep fat fryer to 180 degrees Celsius.
  4. Whisk the remaining egg in a shallow bowl. Place the flour in another bowl and then the breadcrumbs in yet another.
  5. Take one of the frozen eggs out of the freezer and using your right hand, place it in the flour and coat well. Shake off any excess flour.
  6. Use your right hand to drop into the bowl with the whisked egg (but don't touch the liquid egg with your right hand).
  7. Use your left hand to coat the frozen egg with the liquid egg and then, still using the left hand, dropped the frozen egg into the breadcrumbs (but don't touch the crumbs with your left hand).
  8. Use your right hand to scoop up bread crumbs and dump on the egg. Once it's well coated, use your right hand to roll it around a bit more and then place carefully into the deep fat fryer.
  9. Repeat for the remaining egg.
  10. Deep fry for 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the fryer, leave to drain on kitchen towel for about 30 seconds and then serve.

Makes 2 deep fried eggs.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Sous-vide Caramelised Onions

There are a variety of recipes online for sous-vide caramelised onions, so when making these I experimented with adding butter and pre-cooking them. The addition of butter seemed to prevent them from developing as much flavour, but the pre-frying is essential to stop the bag ballooning with gas during the cooking and to reduce the crunch of the finished onions. They don't get as dark as caramelised onions in a pan, but the liquid with them is considerably more flavoursome. The bottom left onions in the photo below are the result of this recipe. The others, clockwise from top left, are no-butter without pre-frying, no pre-frying but with butter, pre-frying with butter and, finally, pre-frying without butter.

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the sous-vide water to 85 degrees Celsius.
  2. Fry the onions over a medium heat in a dry frying pan for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Use a thick plastic bag, or double bag it, to hold the part-cooked onions and use the submersion method to get all the air out. Some plastic bags don't have strong enough edges to not break during the long and hot cooking of this recipe.
  4. Cook the onions for 24 hours.
  5. Season with the salt, divide into portions and freeze until required to flavour a recipe.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Roast Potato Slices

This is a nice alternative to wedges with a good texture.

Ingredients:

  • 500g of potatoes (about 4 medium sized) washed and sliced into 5mm slices
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Toss the potato slices with the garlic powder and paprika.
  3. Add the oil and mix until the potato slices are well coated.
  4. Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet or two and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Serves 2.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Prawn Saganaki

The combination of spicy tomato, sweet peppers and prawns works really well in this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Romano peppers (the red long thin sweet peppers)
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 spicy red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 390g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 600g tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 150ml white wine
  • 50g parsley, finely chopped
  • 180g cooked king prawns with shells on
  • 125g feta cheese, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Use a blow torch, grill on high or gas hob to blacken the outside of the peppers and place in a sealed plastic bag to steam in their warmth.
  2. Put the onion and oil in a large pan and soften over a low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Place the garlic, spicy pepper, tinned tomatoes, white wine and chopped tomatoes into the pan containing the onions.
  4. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes.
  5. Peel the blackened skin off the peppers and chop into 1cm pieces before adding to the tomato mixture.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Add half the parsley, stir and then scatter the prawns over the top and place a lid over it.
  8. Leave to heat for 2 minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat, garnish with the rest of the parsley and the feta cheese and serve immediately.
  10. Provide some white and crusty bread on the side to mop up the juices.

Serves 2.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Quick Potato Dauphinoise

Cooking the potatoes in a saucepan before placing them in the oven means that this whole dish takes well under an hour: a considerably improvement over the usual dauphinoise which takes about an hour and a half in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of potatoes, sliced into 1/4 cm slices
  • 700ml milk
  • 1 onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 pot of chicken stock gel (or a stock cube)
  • 50ml double cream or 35g butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (180 degrees for a fan oven)
  2. Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan and stir while brining to a simmer.
  3. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes (if the potatoes start to get soft then move on to putting them in the oven straight away).
  4. Pour into a wide, high sided dish and place in the oven.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Low-carb Courgette Pizza

The vegetable base of this pizza is good if you're wanting to avoid carbs and, while nothing like wheat dough, is very tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red pepper, whole
  • a 390g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g of courgettes (about 4 normal sized), coarsely grated
  • 1 tsp finely ground salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 60g mild cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 80g feta, crumbled
  • 1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 8 black olives, sliced

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  2. Use a blowtorch, gas hob or grill to burn the pepper all over. You want the skin to be utterly black. Place in a plastic bag while still hot and steal in the steam. This will make it easier to peel.
  3. Place the chopped tomatoes in a sieve placed over a bowl and leave for the juice to drain out.
  4. Mix the grated courgette with the salt and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
  5. Use a muslin or cheese cloth to squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the grated courgette.
  6. Mix the courgette, egg, cheddar cheese and mixed herbs together in a bowl.
  7. Place a sheet of grease proof paper on a baking tray and spread out the courgette mixture into a circle about 4 mm thick.
  8. Place in the oven for 12 minutes, or until it starts to brown at the edges.
  9. While it's cooking in the oven, use your fingers to rub the burnt skin off the pepper while running it under a cold tap.
  10. Slice the skin of the pepper into bite size pieces.
  11. Remove the pizza base from the oven and top with the chopped tomatoes, followed by the feta and then the red onion, black olives and skinned pepper. You won't need to use all the ingredients as toppings unless you really like your pizzas with lots of toppings.
  12. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  13. Carefully slide the grease proof paper from under the pizza or serve it directly from the paper. Trim any burnt liquid from the edges before cutting into slices and serving.

Serves 2.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Sous-vide Beef Brisket

The long cook on this brisket really breaks down the collagen while still making it keep together enough to slice.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg beef brisket, bones removed and rolled with string
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 carrot, sliced into 4mm slices
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 10g butter

Method:

  1. Heat the sous-vide to 68 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cut the brisket in half (unless you have very large ziplock bags) and each piece in a bag that you've rolled over the top on (to prevent the upper edge getting contaminated).
  3. Split the carrot, liquid smoke and bay leaves between the two bags. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Seal the bags with the submersion method and place in the sous-vide for 36 hours. You'll probably need to place a plate on-top to make sure it stays fully submerged.
  5. Remove from the sous-vide and remove the brisket from the bags. Save the cooking liquid to make a pan sauce (just add to the cooking pan after browning the meat and reduce it down) or gravy.
  6. Pat the meat dry with some kitchen towel.
  7. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan, over a high heat. Once it is hot, add the meat and butter. Sear all the sides of the meat until they have a nice dark colour, using a blow torch on the top of the meat while the bottom browns will speed this up.
  8. Slice and serve with suitable accompaniments.

Serves 5 to 6 people.

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.