Thursday, 17 August 2017

Emmental and Onion Rösti with Fried Egg and Crispy Bacon

In other words, this is basically the biggest and best hash brown you've ever eaten. A bit of a labour of love, save this recipe for a weekend when you have a bit more time and a bit more of an excuse to indulge in the joys of caramelised onions and gooey emmental cheese all encased in buttery, crispy potato.

I made this recently for brunch as we had guests over and the idea was to jazz up the traditional English breakfast. The reaction was great with clean plates and full bellies all round. I recommend you serve condiments alongside this dish as the rösti is great for dipping - tomato ketchup, English mustard or brown sauce all work well!

Emmental and Onion Rösti with Fried Egg and Crispy Bacon
Serves 4

4 medium waxy potatoes (about 650g) 
Olive oil for frying 
50g butter 
2 onions, sliced 
100g Emmental, grated 
200g smoked bacon lardons 
4 medium free-range eggs

Cook the potatoes (whole) in a pan of boiling water for 15 minutes until nearly tender, then put in cold water for 5 minutes to cool. Drain, pat dry with kitchen paper, then chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. 

In a small saucepan, heat a glug of oil and 30g butter. Add the onions and gently fry for 25-30 minutes until caramelised. Heat the oven to 120°C/100°C fan/gas ½. 

Grate the cooled potatoes into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Divide into 8 equal rounds. In a large frying pan, heat the remaining butter and a splash of oil. Put 4 of the potato rounds into the pan and use a spatula to flatten. Top each with equal amounts of the caramelised onion and grated emmental. Fry for 4-5 minutes, then top with the remaining 4 potato rounds to sandwich the filling. Flatten again, then carefully flip the röstis and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden and crisp and the cheese has melted. Put the röstis on a plate in the oven to keep warm. 

Turn up the heat on the pan and fry the lardons for 5-10 minutes until golden and crisp, stirring, then transfer to the rösti plate in the oven. 

Add more oil to the pan if needed. When hot, crack in 4 eggs and fry to your liking. Serve each rösti topped with a fried egg and the lardons on the side.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Spicy Butterbean, Chickpea and Butternut Squash Stew

With the British summer being its predictably unpredictable self, it can sometimes be difficult to decide what to eat... but fret no more! This dish has all the comfort, warmth and heartiness you need when the weather is a bit miserable but it also has freshness, spice and sweetness to keep you feeling summery.

I have this for lunch an awful lot but I also love it for dinner with a couple of slices of good bread and butter for dipping and soaking up all that lovely sauce. The recipe is really simple and you can have it ready in around half an hour so it's great to knock up midweek.

Spicy Butterbean, Chickpea and Butternut Squash Stew
Serves 4-6

1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 onion, diced
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 leek, thickly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil 
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika 
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes 
450ml vegetable stock 
400g tin butterbeans 
400g tin chickpeas 
large handful watercress
large handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When hot, add the onions, squash, leek, paprika, dried chilli flakes, garlic powder and cumin seeds then fry for 10 minutes or until the veg take on some colour. 

Add the chopped tomatoes and stock, then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Drain and rinse the butterbeans and chickpeas, then stir them through the stew along with the watercress. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more then add the parsley, stir and take off the heat. Taste and season liberally with salt and pepper, then serve.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Simple But Tasty Lemon, Honey and Thyme Chicken

I don't mean to blow my own trumpet but I honestly think this is the perfect midweek meal: it only uses one pan so minimal washing up, it takes seconds to prepare and cooks in forty minutes leaving you time to just chill out after work and it is incredibly delicious with the heavenly combination of crispy chicken skin, juicy meat, garlic, lemon, honey, thyme and a splash of wine wine!

I absolutely love chicken thighs. They're cheaper than breasts and yet they have more flavour, can be cooked on the bone and, most importantly, usually come with skin on for crisping up and devouring with joy! I like to serve this with a fresh green salad but it would work just as well with mashed or roast potatoes if you fancy something heartier.

Simple But Tasty Lemon, Honey and Thyme Chicken 
Serves 2

4 carrots, chopped diagonally into 5cm pieces 
4 free-range British chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on 
2 tbsp olive oil 
2 tbsp clear honey 
Finely grated zest and juice 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon, sliced 
1 red onion, cut into wedges 
1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally 
100ml white wine
4 fresh thyme sprigs

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Put the carrots and chicken thighs in a bowl, toss them with the olive oil, honey, lemon zest and juice, then season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer to a large baking tray, spread out in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes. 

After 20 minutes, add the red onions, garlic and wine to the tray, then cook for a further 20 minutes. Add the lemon slices and thyme for the final 10 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked throughout (the fibres should be set and clearly visible with no gelatinous patches) and the vegetables are tender. Serve with a crisp green salad.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Rhubarb and Orange Cake with Almonds

Rhubarb is very much in season at the moment and, with a few friends who grow their own, there's always plenty of it in the house at this time of year. Now I'm all for rhubarb in whatever form, sweet or savoury, but there is something particularly lovely about a good wedge of cake, slightly warm from the oven with a dollop of cream and a cup of tea.

This particular cake has the wonderful additions of both fresh, zesty orange and almonds, flaked and ground, which not only provide nuttiness but add to the texture of the cake whilst ensuring it remains moist. This cake is great as a naughty breakfast gift to yourself, on an afternoon treat with tea or even as a pudding after dinner with custard.

Rhubarb and Orange Cake with Almonds

400g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces 
200g golden caster sugar 
150g butter, softened 
2 medium eggs 
75g self-raising flour 
½ tsp baking powder 
100g ground almonds 
Grated zest and juice of 1 small orange
25g flaked almonds 

Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Grease a round 23cm springform cake tin and line its base with baking parchment. Place the rhubarb in a bowl and cover with 50g of the sugar. Leave for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the cake. 

With an electric whisk, beat together the remaining sugar and the butter, then whisk in the eggs one at a time making sure to mix thoroughly between each addition. Using a metal spoon, gently fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds, then stir in the orange zest and juice. 

Stir the rhubarb and its sugary juices into the cake mixture and spoon into the prepared tin. Place on a baking tray, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180°C, gas mark 4 and cook for a further 20-25 minutes, or until firm. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold, with softly whipped cream or custard.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Lemon and Thyme Pork Chops with Lentils

The simplest things in life are often the best and this deliciously simple recipe is a perfect example of just that. There are few ingredients and little effort required to make this dish but the flavours pack a real punch.

Pork chops and lentils are probably not on the top of everyone's favourite ingredients list but when cooked well and paired with fresh flavours like lemon and thyme, they can actually feel like a real treat. 

Lemon and Thyme Pork Chops with Lentils
Serves 2

100g natural yogurt 
7 thyme sprigs, roughly chopped 
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
A pinch of salt and pepper 
2 British free-range bone-in pork chops 
Olive oil 
1 celery stick, finely chopped 
2 shallots, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
400g tinned, drained and rinsed puy lentils 
100ml chicken stock

In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt with the roughly chopped leaves from 4 thyme sprigs and the finely grated lemon zest with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the pork chops and coat well. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat, shake the excess marinade off the pork, then cook for 3 minutes on each side. Put in a roasting dish, then roast for 5 minutes. Leave to rest, covered with foil, for 5 minutes more. 

Heat a glug of olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the celery and shallots for 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs, roughly chopped, then fry for 1 minute. Stir in the puy lentils, chicken stock and a pinch of salt and pepper, then warm through for 3-4 minutes. Serve with the chops and some broccoli, if you like.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Fantastic Fish Soup with Peppers, Leeks and Chilli

Having recently moved next door to a wonderful indoor market, I'm lucky enough to have a great fishmonger right on my doorstep. Fish and seafood in this country is spectacular and I feel strongly that we should celebrate it.

This is one of those recipes that you will go back to again and again because not only is it incredibly simple to make but the flavours are so deep and so scrumptious that you won't be able to resist them. I love to eat this on its own for lunch as it's light yet satisfying or at dinner time with either some rice or a hunk of bread for soaking up the sauce.

Fantastic Fish Soup with Peppers, Leeks and Chilli 
Serves 6

3 tbsp oil 
1 medium chopped onion 
2 medium leeks, chopped 
2 red peppers, diced 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1 tsp dried chilli flakes 
1 fresh bay leaf 
1 tsp dried mixed herbs 
400g can chopped tomatoes 
240ml dry white wine 
250g carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks 
450ml vegetable stock 
750g mixed skinless fish fillets (such as hake, haddock, cod), cut into to chunks 
120ml double cream 
Large bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a medium-heat. Add the onion and sweat for 10-12 minutes until translucent. 

Add the leek, red pepper, garlic and chilli flakes. Cook for 1 minute, then add the bay leaf and mixed herbs. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the tomatoes, cook for 1 minute, then add the wine and carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Add the stock and fish and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream, bring to a boil, then take it immediately off the heat. Stir through the parsley, season to taste and serve in bowls with crusty bread and butter for dipping, if you like.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

500th BLOG POST: Roast Chicken Thighs with Peppers, Butter Beans, Tomatoes and Chilli

Quite unbelievably today marks the 500th post I've written on my little blog and it felt right that this dish be the one to share with you today... Recently I moved out of my childhood home and into a flat with my boyfriend and whilst there are many changes that come along with that, the change of kitchen and my new proximity to a huge market mean that what I cook (and therefore what I post) is likely to undergo somewhat of a transformation...

This is the first dish I cooked in the new home with thighs from my new butcher, peppers, garlic, watercress, tomatoes and lemons from my new greengrocer and a stunning loaf of bread from my new baker. I love food like this - a big roasting tin full of goodies (great for saving on washing up!), a fresh salad and chunks of good bread covered in good butter - what more do you need?

Roast Chicken Thighs with Peppers, Butter Beans, Tomatoes and Chilli
Serves 4

3 garlic cloves, sliced 
2 peppers, sliced 
Olive oil for drizzling 
8 free-range chicken thighs, trimmed 
400g tin chopped tomatoes 
200ml dry white wine 
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained 
1 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
Watercress and sliced tomatoes
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Crusty bread

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C/gas 6. Toss the sliced garlic and peppers in a roasting tin with a drizzle of oil. Nestle the chicken on top and pour the tomatoes, wine and vinegar around, making sure not to cover the skin of the chicken. Season and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. 

After 30 minutes of the cooking time has passed, stir the beans and chilli flakes into the sauce, then return to the oven for the remaining time. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over, a fresh watercress and tomato salad and crusty bread to mop up the sauce.