Thursday, 12 October 2017

Honey Mustard Chicken with New Potatoes, Parsnips and Tenderstem Broccoli

As regular readers will know, I love myself a traybake - hardly any washing up, hardly any effort but you always end up with a tasty dish with all the wonderful flavours mingling deliciously together as it cooks.

Honey and mustard is a classic combination and when you pair it with juicy chicken thighs topped with gorgeous crispy skin, sweet parsnips, tangy lemon and crunchy yet fluffy new potatoes, the result is an epic midweek meal sensation! 

Honey Mustard Chicken with New Potatoes, Parsnips and Tenderstem Broccoli
Serves 2

Olive oil 
2 parsnips, cut into battons
6-8 new potatoes
1 tbsp mustard 
Juice 1 lemon
2 tbsp clear honey 
4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked 
4 skin-on free-range chicken thighs 
100g tenderstem broccoli

Heat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas 6 and oil a large baking tin. Mix the wholegrain mustard, lemon juice, honey, thyme and plenty of salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss the chicken, potatoes and parsnips through the marinade, then spread out on the tray, making sure to give everything plenty of space, then bake for 30 minutes. 

Drizzle the tenderstem broccoli with a little olive oil and add to the trays, tossing everything so the pieces all brown evenly. Cook for another 15 minutes until the chicken thighs, potatoes and parsnips are slightly blackened and caramelised, and everything is cooked through. Serve immediately with the juice from the tin.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Steamed White Fish with Rice, Black Olive Tapenade, Basil and Tomatoes

Any meal that can be cooked in one pan is a winner for me because, honestly, who likes washing up? But aside from the practicality, there's something wonderful about all the flavours in a recipe all mixing together in one pan and then presenting that pan to the table for everyone to dig into. The recipe below is to serve two people but it is easily doubled or even tripled to create a fantastic family dish.

The flavours here are simple, indeed there are only a handful of ingredients, and the taste is certainly Mediterranean with salty black olives, fresh, ripe tomatoes and fragrant basil as well as rich olive oil and tangy red wine vinegar. Perfectly balanced and quick to make, this is the ideal midweek meal.

Steamed White Fish with Rice, Black Olive Tapenade, Basil and Tomatoes
Serves 2

150g basmati rice 
2 heaped teaspoons black olive tapenade 
200g ripe cherry tomatoes 
½ a bunch of fresh basil, (10g) 
½ tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
2 white fish fillets, such as haddock, skin off, pin-boned, from sustainable sources

In a large shallow casserole pan on a high heat, mix the rice with the tapenade, then pour over 300ml of water. Put the lid on and let it come to the boil while you halve the tomatoes and, in a bowl, mix them with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Taste, season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper, and tear in the basil leaves. 

Place the fish in the pan, pushing the fillets into the rice. Scatter over the dressed tomatoes. Put the lid back on and boil for 10 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through, then remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated. Serve in shallow bowls with a good glass of wine.

Aunty Joanne's Slow-Cooked Chilli

Ladies and gentlemen, you are in for a real treat today… This is my Aunty Joanne's famous slow-cooked chilli and when I say it is one of my all-time favourite dishes on this planet, I really mean it.

A good chilli is one of life's greatest joys and this is the best chilli you'll ever eat so be prepared to rejoice! Instead of the commonplace minced beef, this uses chunks of steak, slowly cooked down until you can literally break it apart with a spoon. The sauce is deep and rich and full of flavour with robust red wine, sweet yet tangy tomatoes and, of course, the all-important chilli heat. I truly cannot express how much I love this dish – make it and see how delicious it is for yourself!

Aunty Joanne's Slow-Cooked Chilli
Serves 4-62 tbsp oil

600g stewing or braising beef, cut into bite-sized chunks
250ml decent red wine
100ml good-quality beef stock
1 large red onion, finely sliced
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into large chunks
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
325g tin of sweetcorn, drained
2 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
75ml Worchestershire sauce
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-4 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In the slow-cooker:

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Season the beef well and then, working in batches, sear it on all sides until well browned all over. Use another tablespoon of oil between batches if necessary. Spoon the browned beef into the slow cooker as you go.

Once all the meat is browned, deglaze the pan with the wine and stock, scraping up all the good stuff from the bottom of the pan as it bubbles away for a couple of minutes. Pour this into the slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients along with a decent amount of salt and pepper. Put the lid on and leave to cook on low for approx. 8 hours.

In the oven:

Preheat the oven to 150C. Sear the meat as above, transferring the browned meat to a plate. Fry the onion for 5-6 minutes on a medium heat until softened, and then add the garlic for 1 minute. Add the spices and toast for 1-2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and add the wine. Increase the heat and let the wine bubble down for 3-4 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients, pop lid on and cook in the oven for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally, until rich and thickened and the meat is tender.

Serve with rice or a baked potato and plenty of grated cheese.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Sirloin Steaks in a 'Pizza' Sauce with a Jazzy Grain Salad

Everything about this dish is a winner. Perfectly cooked, juicy steaks covered in a sauce made from tomatoes, garlic and oregano (just like a pizza!) and a fresh, light, vibrant 'salad' with lots of lemon and parsley to really perk up the tastebuds.

I love recipes like this on nights where I want something tasty and special but without much effort or time spent in the kitchen. This is a real midweek staple in my house at the moment and, when a meal tastes as good as this one, I'm sure it will be a regular on your table too!

Sirloin Steaks in a 'Pizza' Sauce with a Jazzy Grain Salad
Serves 4

For the steak
4 x/150g sirloin steaks
3 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce:
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
2 tbsp dried oregano

For the grain salad:
200g couscous/rice/quinoa
1 red pepper, finely chopped
½ red onion, very finely chopped
1 lemon, juice only
2 tbsp fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat a frying pan until hot, add the olive oil and steaks and fry on each side until golden-brown. Remove the steaks and set aside on a plate.

In the same pan, add the garlic, anchovies, capers and parsley and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and oregano and cook for one minute over a high heat, stirring well. Lower the heat and return the steaks and any juices collected on the plate to the pan and stir to make sure they are covered with the sauce. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the steaks are tender and cooked to your liking.

For the grain salad, cook your chosen grain to packet instructions. Stir well with a fork and then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

To serve, spoon equal amounts of the grain salad onto each plate. Place a steak onto each portion of couscous and spoon the sauce over.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Spinach Pesto Risotto with Bacon and Goat's Cheese

There's something uniquely comforting about a risotto and with those cold nights starting to draw in you simply can't beat the warm hug a good bowlful gives you.

The addition of crispy bacon, crumbled goat's cheese and a zesty pesto made with spinach, anchovies, lemon and garlic takes this risotto to stratospheric flavour levels. This is perfect as a dinner party dish as it really does give the wow factor but if I'm honest I like to make it midweek and have a massive bowlful all to myself!

Spinach Pesto Risotto with Bacon and Goat's Cheese
Serves 4

100g spinach
2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
Grated zest and juice ½ lemon 
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
200g streaky bacon, chopped into small chunks 
1 large red onion, finely chopped 
300g arborio rice 
200ml dry white wine 
1 litre chicken stock, hot 
70g soft goat’s cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the spinach, anchovy, garlic and lemon zest and juice in a small food processor and whizz to a paste. Add the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then whizz again to make a coarse spinach pesto. Set aside. 

In a dry medium saucepan, fry the bacon on a medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes until crisp, then using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan. 

Add the onion to the saucepan with a splash of oil and fry for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the rice and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and bubble for 2 minutes or until reduced by three quarters. 

Add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, adding the next ladle only when the previous one has been absorbed. Stir every few minutes until all the stock has been added and the rice is tender with some bite. This will take around 25-30 minutes. 

Stir in the spinach pesto and crispy bacon, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with blobs of goat’s cheese.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Lentil, Spinach and Cumin Soup with Caramelised Onions

Autumn is certainly here and, for me, that signals a change in my culinary mood as I want more comfort food, more warming and hearty food like stews and pies and lovely soups like this one.

This is a real store cupboard recipe as I had all of these ingredients already in the kitchen at home and I imagine you'll have most of them too. In terms of texture, you blend half the soup until smooth before mixing it with the rest of the cooked ingredients for a combination that's both silky and chunky - the best of both worlds. The flavour of the soup is rich with earthy lentils and spicy with cumin and paprika yet light and fresh with the addition of lemon and spinach. It's the perfect dish to bring you out of summer and into autumn...

Lentil, Spinach and Cumin Soup with Caramelised Onions
Serves 4-6

2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
2 onions, sliced 
4 garlic cloves, sliced 
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds 
150g brown or green lentils 
1.2 litres vegetable stock 
200g spinach 
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook, covered, for 8-10 minutes until softened. Remove half the onions and set aside. 

Continue to cook the onions left in the pan for 10-15 minutes until deep brown, sweet and caramelised. Remove and set aside for the garnish. 

Return the softened onions to the pan, add the garlic, paprika, cumin seeds and lentils, then stir for 1-2 minutes until well coated in oil. Add more oil if necessary. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, uncovered, until the lentils are soft. 

Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Transfer half the soup to a blender and liquidise to make a purée. Stir this back into the soup. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and ground black pepper. 

Divide the soup equally among bowls and scatter the fried onions over the top. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Harissa Lamb Burgers

As recipes go, this is up there with the easiest - simply mix together a handful of tasty ingredients, squish them into burgers and voilà, dinner is served!

I love the complexity and vibrance of harissa, a beautiful spice mix from the Middle East that is packed full of delicious and tastebud-tingling flavours which really set these burgers alight. It matches perfectly with sweet, juicy lamb and when you fancy something quick and easy but satisfying and incredibly tasty, this is the recipe for you!

Harissa Lamb Burgers
Serves 4

500g lamb mince
1 tbsp harissa
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, lightly beaten
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
brioche buns
sweet potato wedges
caramelised onions or chutney

Mix all the burger ingredients, apart from the oil, together in a large bowl with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Be sure to really squidge the meat with your hands as this will make it extra tender. Form the mixture into four equal sized patties and set a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.

Drizzle a touch of oil into the pan and then cook the burgers for around 6-7 minutes on each side, or until cooked to your liking. Serve in brioche buns with lettuce and caramelised onions and sweet potato wedges on the side.