Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Chicken and potatoes with lemon and honey

This is just one of those great meals that takes five minutes to prepare, its all in one roasting tin and its perfect for warm Summer evenings. Chicken, lemon and honey is a winning combination. Mixed with the red onion and lemon wedges and roasted alongside the chicken and potatoes you end up with a lovely caramelised flavour and tartness of the lemons. I served mine with a green salad, but green vegetables would be a good accompaniment too. 

Serves 4
4 chicken breasts
new potatoes, approx 800g
2 lemons, quartered
2 red onions, quartered
olive oil
clear runny honey
salt and black pepper
Garlic cloves (optional)


Heat the oven to 190ºC

Cut the potatoes in half if they are on the large side. Place them in the roasting tray with the chicken breasts. Add the segments of lemon and onion, place randomly amongst the chicken and potatoes. Add garlic cloves in their skins if you want. Season well and drizzle with the olive oil. Be generous with the honey as this will give you the nice caramelised flavour. Cook until the potatoes and chicken are golden, and the chicken is cooked through. Serve with a nicely dressed green salad.  

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Lamb kofta with sweet and sour tomato sauce

Saturday night dinner was a new recipe from an old Olive magazine. Something that I had marked out to try ages ago. I enjoy cooking listening to the very entertaining Liza Tarbuck on radio 2, with a glass of wine to hand on a Saturday evening. Again it's a meal made in lots of stages, if you don't mind that give it a go. I bought the lamb mince from the local butcher, he minced a piece of lamb shoulder for me. It was full of flavour, although it did have quite a lot of fat to drain off. 
I love the photo of the meal that James took on his phone. Far superior quality to my phone, or is he just a better photographer? 


Serves 4
onion 1, finely chopped
ground cinnamon 2 tsp
ground cumin 1 tbsp
lamb mince 500g
pine nuts 3 tbsp
tomatoes 400g tin, roughly mashed
golden caster sugar 2 tsp
red wine vinegar 2 tsp
parsley chopped to make 1 tbsp

Fry the onion in a little oil until it’s soft and translucent, then add the cinnamon and cumin and stir for a minute. Cool and then add half of the mixture to the mince along with the 2 tbsp pine nuts and season well. Divide it into 24 and roll each lump into a neat ball between your hands. Fry them in a little oil until they brown all over (you might need to do this in batches). Lift them into a sieve while you make the sauce.

Put the rest of the onion mix into the frying pan (tip out any excess oil first), and add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Bubble the lot gently for 5 minutes, then add the kofta. Cook for 15 minutes, turning over the kofta half way. Make sure they are cooked through. Scatter on the remaining pine nuts and the parsley.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Spinach Pesto

I adore homemade pesto but rarely have basil in the quantity that you need to make a good batch. Last week I had a large bag of spinach in the fridge which was nearly past it's best and thought I would give spinach pesto a go. I have heard it made with Kale and wild garlic and I've made coriander pesto before so I thought it was worth a try. 

I used about 200g of spinach and blitzed it in my food processor with a handful of pine nuts. Once blitzed I added a good handful of Parmesan and the juice of a lemon. I then seasoned well, I didn't feel the need for garlic and then added a generous amount of olive oil. Stirred into some tagliatelle and sprinkled with Parmesan it was absolutely delicious and will become a regular meal on meat free Mondays. I'm sure I'll never waste spinach again. I may try it with alternative nuts, like walnuts, as pine nuts are quite a pricey ingredient.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Nigel Slater's Hot smoked fish and leek pie

This delicious fish pie was worthy of a return to blogging. It appears in Nigel Slater's "The Christmas Chronicles", and although I agree it's a fabulous and special dish for Christmas there is absolutely no reason to keep it for such festive occasions. I had a family meal last week and wanted to try something new. It's not difficult to make, just a little time consuming. But with time to spare and an accomplice in the kitchen it was an enjoyable experience making it. The flavours were wonderful, it looked very impressive and there was more than enough for 10 of us, with a couple of slices leftover for the next day. I used a little more fish than the recipes states to make it go a bit further and hence more cream. I also bought 2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry which were the perfect size as they were, without having to roll out and measure the pastry.

Serves 8

leeks 500g
butter 40g
plain flour 3 heaped tbsp
hot smoked salmon 250g
smoked mackerel 250g
double cream 500ml
new potatoes 300g
olive oil 4 tbsp
chopped parsley 3 tbsp
chopped tarragon 2 tbsp
puff pastry 375g
egg 1
nigella or sesame seeds 1 tbsp
You will need 2 large baking sheets and a piece of baking parchment.

Cut the leeks into discs 1cm in width, wash thoroughly, then put them in a deep heavy-based pan with the butter over a moderate heat. Let the leeks cook for eight to 10 minutes, covered with a round piece of greaseproof paper and a lid, so they cook in their own steam and soften without browning.
Gently warm the double cream in a small pan and remove from the heat. Add the flour to the leeks, stir and leave to cook for a couple of minutes then break the salmon and mackerel into large flakes and gently stir in to the leeks. Pour over the warm double cream and leave to cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Slice the potatoes into thin coins, each about the thickness of a £1 piece. Warm the olive oil in a shallow pan then fry the potato slices on both sides over a moderate heat till golden. They should be soft inside. Fold the cooked potatoes into the fish and leek cream, season carefully with salt and black pepper, the chopped parsley and tarragon, transfer to a mixing bowl and leave to cool. Chill thoroughly in the fridge. (If you skip this step it is impossible to shape the pie.)
Set the oven at 200ºC. Place one of the baking sheets upside down in the oven. Line the other one with baking parchment. Cut the pastry in half then roll out each piece to a rectangle to a rectangle 32cm x 22cm. Place one rectangle on the lined baking sheet. Pile the cold filling on top of the pastry, leaving a border on all four sides of at least 2cm. Smooth the top of the filling so you have a deep rectangle of mixture. Beat the egg in a small bowl or cup and brush the bare edges of the pastry generously.
Place the second sheet of pastry over the filling then press the edges of the two pieces of pastry firmly together to seal. It is important that they are well sealed, otherwise your filling will leak. Brush the top layer of pastry all over with the beaten egg, scatter with the nigella or sesame seeds then pierce a small hole in the centre with knife or the handle of wooden spoon. Place in the oven, the baking sheet on top of the hot, upturned one, and bake for 40 minutes till golden brown.
Leave to settle for 5 minutes before sliding off the baking sheet onto a serving board or dish, and slicing.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Taking a break, literally

It hasn't been the best start to 2018. My husband Steve fell on the ice outside our house at the beginning of last week and has broken his hip, which has resulted in an operation to repair the fracture and a long healing and recovery process. He isn't in great health anyway due to a rare muscle condition so things are a bit more complicated than your average person. What a fright, I saw him fall and hit his head, lots of blood and groaning, it was awful. The NHS have been amazing, I have nothing but admiration for all the hardworking nurses and doctors, the care was incredible in both hospitals in all wards. Steve was even tucking into the hospital food with delight, so funny. 

So he's home now, with a house full of adaptations to see us through this tricky time, and I'm now the nurse, I've been very patient so far but it's only day two.

My blogging will have to be put on the back burner, not that I've been very productive at all recently. Keep looking and using the recipes, there's more than enough on here to keep you going.

My focus is to get Steve back to his previous health, with lots of good food, plenty of fruit and vegetables, vitamins and fluids to speed recovery. Something like this gives you a real shake and a realisation that you have to live life to the full as you just don't know what is round the corner, thankfully. 

I don't want to see the A and E department of a hospital for a very long time, those doctors and nurses deserve medals, and I won't be letting Steve ever go out again in snow or ice. Let's hope the warmer weather is on its way, the sun is shining in my room now so that's a good sign. 

The photo is of our Christmas lunch, pheasant with cream and calvados, minus some of the trimmings. If I had to choose my last suppper I think this might be it. It will certainly be the one I'm looking forward to cooking and enjoying with Steve when he's back to good health later in the year. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Chicken with a Dijon mustard sauce

We left the teenagers home alone last night. It’s something we are doing a little more often, not for long just yet, 2 nights at the most. So far we have been spared of unauthorised house parties, and any major mess and damage on return. Let's hope I'm not talking too soon. The temptation when away is to eat out,  but we had been out for a lovely meal the night before and didn’t really want to eat out two nights in a row. My intentions of losing weight by Christmas are becoming more unlikely by the day. A trip to the local Co op and a recipe in mind produced this really tasty, simple recipe. It’s a variation on a meal on the Delicious website. I didn’t really measure the ingredients, so the volume of stock on my recipe is a guess but you would be able to work out the volume of sauce you need by looking.  I cooked some new potaotes on the hob, finishing them off in the oven alongside the chicken just to give them a golden crunchiness. The meal was delicious and it’s one I’ll be cooking again soon. 
Hopefully over the festive period I'll get a chance to try some new recipes. I feel this year has been my weakest on my blog, with recipes few and far between. My sister in law and I have just bought ourselves Nigel Slater's 'Christmas Chronicles' as an early Christmas present to each other. Hopefully it will provide some inspiration for meals over the coming month, if nothing else he is a great writer. I do enjoy this time of year in the kitchen. It's a chance to be a bit more extravagant than usual, create a lovely Christmassy home and welcome friends and family to share the good food and wine.

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil for frying
4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of flour with seasoning 
A punnet of mushrooms, sliced 
1 onion sliced 
1 clove garlic' chopped 
A glug of white wine
300ml of stock
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard 
A dollop of double cream 
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 180c. 
Hear the oil in a frying pan, whilst coating the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour.
Fry the chicken breasts until nicely browned. 
Add the onion and cook until golden. Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry until cooked through. 
Pour in the wine and let it sizzle away.
Mix together the stock,  mustard and cream and pour into the pan mixing everything together. 
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof roasting dish and cook in the oven until the chicken is cooked through for approximately 25 mins. 
The sauce should be bubbling away with a lovely rich dark colour