Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Spicy Cottage Pie with Nutmeg Brussels Sprouts

Spicy Cottage Pie with Nutmeg Brussels SproutsCottage Pie in its most basic form is of course minced or ground beef, topped with mashed potato. Usually, however, there will be some vegetables added to the beef. Carrots, peas and onions are popular additions of this type. This Cottage Pie is a little bit more spicy, however, designed to provide a little more heat on a cold Winter's night and I hope that it is something which you will be prepared to try. This is a recipe for two people.

Ingredients

1lb minced/ground beef
1 pint fresh beef stock
1/2lb potatoes
1 small carrot (diced)
1 small onion (very finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (very finely chopped)
1 small red chilli pepper (de-seeded and very finely chopped)
20 mini Brussels sprouts or ten larger ones
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Butter
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Method

The beef should be browned in a dry, non-stick pan, before the carrots, onions, garlic, chilli and heated beef stock are added. The mix should be seasoned to taste with salt and freshly black pepper. It should then be simmered for half an hour.

When the beef is simmering, the potatoes should be peeled and chopped and added to a pot of salted, boiling water and simmered for twenty to twenty-five minutes until soft. They should then be drained and mashed with a little butter.

The beef, vegetables and remaining stock should then be placed in to a casserole dish. The potato should first be spooned evenly on top and then smoothed out carefully with a knife. The Cottage Pie should then be placed in to the oven - pre-heated to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6 - for twenty-five to thirty minutes. It can be browned under the grill for a couple of minutes, prior to serving, if desired.

The small sprouts that I have used here should be simmered in salted water for around eight minutes. larger sprouts will take ten to twelve minutes. It is important not to overcook the sprouts, as this will cause them to turn mushy and most unappealing. They should then be drained and swirled in a little butter and the nutmeg before being served with a portion of Cottage Pie.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Pork and Leek Sausages with Garlic, Coriander and Sun Dried Tomato Mash

Pork and Leek Sausages on Garlic, Coriander and Sun Dried Tomato MashSausage and mash? Have I lost all my inventiveness? Am I now resorting to including on this blog blase meals from my childhood?

Hopefully you will see from the photograph to the right alone that this recipe is not just for any old bangers and mash! This is a recipe incorporating high quality, high meat content pork and leek sausages, with mash which has more than just a little bit of a twist and a lightly poached egg just to round it off. I very much hope that you will try it out - or at least a similar version of it - for yourself.

The recipe described below is for one person.

Ingredients

4 pork and leek sausages
2 large potatoes
1 egg
1 clove of garlic
4 pieces of sun dried tomato (about 2 tsp when chopped)
2 tsp freshly chopped coriander/cilantro (plus a little bit extra for garnish)
Sunflower oil
White wine vinegar
Pinch of paprika for garnish

Method

There is often much argument surrounding how best to cook sausages. The way I do it is to cook them in a little oil in a frying-pan on as low a heat as is possible. This will prevent them from bursting as you should never prick sausages prior to cooking them. This serves only to allow the juices (thus the flavour and moisture) to escape and for the sausages to be served like something akin to hot, dry, tasteless sawdust in dried out, wrinkled skins.

The sausages should therefore be the first item to be put on to cook. When they are gently sizzling in the pan - to be turned occasionally - the potatoes may be peeled, chopped and added to a pan of boiling, salted water to simmer for around twenty-five minutes until moderately soft.

A large pan of water with a little white wine vinegar in it should then be brought to the boil for poaching the egg. When the water has reached a rolling boil, it should be stirred carefully but firmly to create a whirlpool effect, in to the centre of which the raw egg should be carefully deposited to cook, before the heat is reduced and the potatoes are drained and mashed.

Garlic, Coriander and Sun Dried Tomato MashIt is important to drain and mash the potatoes before adding any of the other ingredients, except perhaps a little butter. This prevents the other ingredients becoming entangled in the potato masher. The sun dried tomatoes which I used in this recipe came in a glass jar, preserved in olive oil. The tomatoes must be dried thoroughly in paper kitchen towel prior to being chopped and added to the potatoes or the olive oil will spoil the overall effect.

The garlic, coriander and sun dried tomatoes may then be stirred in to the mash, which should be arranged on a circular plate as shown in the picture to the left. The sausages and the egg should then be added on top, with the coriander and paprika garnish sprinkled on last of all.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Beef Meatballs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Onion Ciabatta Roll

Although meatballs and tomato sauce are more popularly used to accompany a pasta such as spaghetti rather than served alone in this fashion, I decided one night recently to have them accompanied instead by a fresh, onion ciabatta roll. I was delighted with the results - and even found that I had sufficient tomato sauce left over to cool, refrigerate and re-heat to have with some pasta shells for the following day's lunch!

This recipe is for one person.

Ingredients

1/2lb minced/ground beef
1 garlic clove (crushed or grated)
Generous pinch of dried oregano
2 14oz tins of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion ciabatta roll

Method

Put the beef, garlic and oregano in to a large bowl or basin and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix very thoroughly by hand before taking parts of the mixture to shape it in to meatballs, each about the size of a golfball. The quantities given here should make seven or eight meatballs.

Add enough olive oil to a pot to cover the base of it and bring it up to a medium heat. Carefully place the meatballs in the pot and gently stir them around with a wooden spoon until they are browned, as shown in the photographs to the left. This process should take no longer than two to three minutes.

When the meatballs are evenly browned in this way, add the chopped tomatoes and turn the heat up until they begin to simmer. Reduce the heat to keep them at a gentle simmer and cook in this way for half an hour, stirring gently and occasionally.

The meatballs should then be added to a serving plate and the desired amount of tomato sauce spooned over the top. The onion ciabatta roll should be served on the side.

Remember to allow the remaining tomato sauce to cool before refrigerating and to use it up the following day.

Useful Associated Links

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce from the BBC

Spanish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Pasta with Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti

Organic Meatballs in Fennel and Tomato Sauce

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pork and Pineapple Stew with Garlic and Sage Roast Potatoes

Pineapple is of course very popular served with gammon steak but the fact is that it goes equally well with pork. This simple, one pot stew is delicious and very warming on a cold Winter's night and should adequately serve two people.

Ingredients

3/4lb diced leg of pork
2 pineapple rings (each cut in to 6 segments)
1 small onion (quartered)
1 pint of fresh chicken stock
2 large potatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
Pinch of dried sage
Salt and pepper
Corn oil

Method

Begin browning the pork in a dry pot over a gentle heat. You are only looking to seal the meat at this stage and constant stirring should prevent sticking. When the meat is browned, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer gently for half an hour.

When the pork has been simmering for about twenty-five minutes, put the chopped potatoes in to boiling, salted water and reduce to a gentle simmer. Put a deep baking tray - the base liberally covered with corn oil - in to the oven and the oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Add the pineapple and onion to the pork and bring back to a simmer.

After fifteen minutes, the oven should be heated. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain them well. Return them to the empty pot and shake the pot carefully to fluff up the outsides. This will help them to crisp up in the oven. Add them to the hot tray and again shake carefully to ensure even coating in the corn oil.

When the potatoes have been in the oven for around twenty minutes, add the crushed garlic and dried sage to a large bowl. Remove the potatoes from the oven and carefully tip them in to the bowl. Stir carefully but well to coat them in the garlic and sage before returning them to the tray and the oven for another couple of minutes only.

Useful Associated Links

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Pork Fillets with Pineapple

Spiced Pineapple Pork Recipe

Ken Hom's Pork with Pineapple Recipe

Cuban Pork with Pineapple Recipe

Friday, 4 December 2009

Lamb Steak and Kidney Pie with Savoy Cabbage and Onion

Although steak and kidney pie is a very popular dish in the UK, the most common steak and kidney included in the pie are of the beef variety. Traditional steak and kidney pie is one of my all time favourite dishes but in this instance I decided to experiment a little and see how the recipe turned out with leg of lamb steak and lamb kidney. I was delighted with the results.

The following recipe is designed for two people:

Ingredients

1/2lb leg of lamb steak (chopped)
3 lamb kidneys, cleaned and chopped (see instructions below)
1 pint fresh lamb or chicken stock
6oz puff pastry
1/4 large Savoy cabbage (de-cored and sliced)
1 small onion (thinly sliced)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt and pepper

Method

The lamb steak and kidney should be rapidly browned in a large, dry pot and the heated stock added once this has been achieved. The stock should be brought back to the boil and then the heat turned down until a gentle simmer is achieved, for around half an hour. The meat can thereafter be used immediately to make the pie or allowed to cool.

The puff pastry should be rolled out to a sze where it is capable of covering a 10" by 5" ashet pie dish. The meat and stock should then be added to the dish, the edges lightly greased with a little butter and the pastry placed on top, firming it down around the greased rim. The top of the pie should be glazed with a little milk or egg wash and a "+" made in the centre to allow steam to escape during the cooking process.

The pie should be placed in the oven, pre-heated to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6 for thirty minutes.

Approximately ten minutes before the pie is due to be ready, the sunflower oil should be added to a large pot and brought up to a medium heat. The cabbage, onion and garlic should then be added, stirred thoroughly and again at frequent intervals for ten minutes. Please note that no water or any other liquid is required.

This delicious meal is then ready to be served.

How to Clean and Prepare Kidneys

The easiest option is of course to have your butcher clean and prepare the kidneys for you, or to simply buy them pre-packed in this way from the supermarket. It is not difficult, however, to clean and prepare kidneys, provided one knows what to do.

The first step is simply to cut each kidney in half, down through the centre length-wise. It will then be possible to clearly see the white, fatty substance in the centre of the kidney which should carefully be cut out and discarded. The remaining meat can then be chopped to size as desired.

Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Healthy Lamb Recipes

New Zealand Lamb Recipes

Simple Healthy Recipes (Lamb)

Low Fat Lamb Recipes

Lamb Recipe's on Australia's Cuisine.com

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner for One? Turkey, Sprouts and Sweet Potato Alternative

I am of course aware that Thanksgiving in the USA - and some weeks earlier in Canada - is a time for family get-togethers and celebrations with a large roasted turkey and assorted accoutrements. Equally, as many of us should be aware, not everyone is in the position of having a family with whom to gather and some may actually spend the day alone or simply as part of a couple. In such circumstances, the purchase of a whole turkey is not really practical but this in no way means that turkey, sweet potatoes, et al, need be off the menu altogether. It is entirely possible to buy fresh turkey in portions and this turkey and Brussels sprouts stir fry, served on a bed of cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes, could be just the job in such a situation.

Ingredients (per Person)

1/2lb diced turkey thigh
5 or 6 small Brussels sprouts
1/2 small onion (very roughly chopped)
1 medium to large sweet potato
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Corn or sunflower oil for frying

Method

Peel and chop the sweet potato and add the pieces to boiling, salted water. They will take around twenty minutes to soften.

Bring a wok up to a high heat and add around a tbsp of oil. Stir fry the turkey pieces until they are just sealed and have turned off-white. Remove them from the wok to a plate. There is no need to keep them warm.

Chop off the surplus stalk on the sprouts but be sure to leave enough that the leaves remain held together. Do not put a "+" in the bottom of them as all this achieves is to cause them to fall apart during cooking. Remove any dead outer leaves and wash and dry thoroughly.

Add more oil to the wok if required and stir fry the sprouts only for about five minutes. Keep them moving around the pan and don't allow them to burn. As I like Brussels sprouts crunchy, this is the way I cook them but if you like them a little softer, cut them in half down through the centre prior to frying them.

Next, add the onions and the garlic and stir fry for about another minute before re-adding the turkey to complete its cooking process, along with the soy sauce. This should take no more than another minute or two.

Drain the sweet potatoes and mash them well in a pot or bowl before adding and stirring through the cinnamon. Serve the sweet potatoes on a dinner plate as shown, with the turkey and Brussels sprouts stir fry served on top.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

How to Make Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelette)

A Tortilla Espanola is simply a Spanish style omelette. It is far more substantial than the French style omelette and includes in the ingredients slices of potato and onion. This version of Tortilla Espanola is my own interpretation of the techniques and I hope that you enjoy this slightly different from the conventional dish.

This recipe should be sufficient to serve two people.

Ingredients

4 large eggs
2 small new potatoes (whole and unpeeled)
1/2 medium sized Spanish onion (thinly sliced)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

The first step is to put the potatoes in to some boiling water and simmer them for around twenty-five to thirty minutes until cooked. Drain them well and set them aside to cool a little until they can safely be handled.

Break the eggs in to a bowl and beat thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to a 10", non-stick frying pan and heat gently, adding the butter to melt as the oil begins to heat up. When the butter has melted, add the sliced onions and cook gently for a few minutes until they take on that luminous sheen.

Chop the potatoes in to 1/2" cubes (skin can either be left on or discarded) and add them to the pan with the onions, stirring well to let them heat through only. Add the egg and turn the heat up to medium to high and cook for around three or four minutes until it can be seen that the egg is almost completely set.

It is normal practise at this stage to turn the Tortilla at least once to cook it on the top side but I prefer simply to place the pan under a hot grill and allow it to finish cooking in this fashion, before serving immediately. Note that I only get away with grilling at this stage as this recipe makes a fairly thin Tortilla.

In Spain, Tortilla are very often served with homemade tomato sauce. If you wish to serve it in this fashion as I have done, here is the recipe for my Spanish tomato sauce. Again, this is my interpretation of Spanish tomato sauce and is a little bit different from that generally served in SPain. (Note that it will be necessary to start preparing the tomato sauce once the potatoes have been put on to simmer.)

Ingredients

1 14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
Salt to taste

Method

Put the olive oil in to a small, non-stick saucepan and gently heat. Add the garlic and stir around for a minute to cook it but not brown it. Add the tomatoes, paprika and salt and simmer as gently as possible - stirring frequently - for around thirty to forty minutes until a lush sauce is formed.

Tortillas are also often eaten cold in Spain. This can either be in the form of slices as with a pie, or even on a bread roll with perhaps a little tomato chutney or relish, as I have prepared it in the photograph above.

Whichever way you choose to eat your Tortilla Espanola, I very much hope that you enjoy this authentic taste of Spain and the Mediterranean as much as I did.



Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Spanish Omelette Recipe

How to make Tortilla Espanola on About.com

Tortillas as a Traditional Cuban Breakfast

Video of How to Make a Spanish Omelette

Spanish Tapas Recipes Made Easy

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ham and Egg Fried Rice

Fried rice is usually thought of in the Western world as simply being an accompaniment to a main meal. The reality is, however, that in many Asian countries, fried rice with certain additives represents the entire content of the meal. This delicious recipe for ham and egg fried rice can either therefore be used in smaller quantities as a meal accompaniment or very successfully enjoyed as a meal in itself for two people.

Ingredients

6oz basmati or long grain rice
2 medium free range, organic eggs
4 rashers of bacon
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp corn oil for frying
A little butter

Method

The first step is to cook the rice by boiling it. Put the rice in to a very fine sieve and wash it thoroughly under running cold water. Put it in to a pan of boiling, salted water and simmer for around twelve minutes. Drain it well through the same sieve, cover it and set it aside to cool.

Break the eggs in to a bowl and whisk with a fork until they begin to froth. Melt a little butter in a small, non-stick frying pan and add the egg mixture. Turn up the heat to medium to high and gently move the egg mixture from around the edge of the pan towards the centre with a plastic spatula until the eggs begin to set. When the eggs are almost completely set, turn the omelette over for the top to finish cooking. We are not making the omelette to eat as an omelette so it is important that all the egg mixture is fully cooked. Remove the omelette from the pan on to a plate, cover and leave it to cool.

The rashers of bacon should be grilled under a medium grill until cooked and then added to the plate with the omelette.

When the omelette is cold, carefully roll it up as tightly as you can in to a cylindrical shape and then slice it as finely as possible. This will produce long, narrow strands of cooked egg. Place the bacon rashers one on top of the other and slice equally finely.

Bring a wok up to a very high heat before adding the corn oil. Allow the oil to heat up before adding the cold rice and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the egg, bacon and soy sauce and fry for about another minute for everything to heat through.

Season to taste (though be careful, as a lot of salt will be obtained from the bacon and soy sauce) and serve immediately.

Do You Have a Proper Chinese Wok?

A Chinese wok is a fantastic addition to the appliance range in any kitchen. A wok is essential in order to cook Chinese and other Asian style food at its very best. Here are a couple of excellent deals on woks currently available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk for you to consider.



Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

How to Make Biryani

Egg Fried Rice Recipe

The Easiest Way to Cook Basmati Rice

Easy Fried Rice and Chicken Chow Mein Recipes

Easy Thai Fried Rice

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A Scottish Mother's Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

There is clearly a bit of a story attached to this recipe which it is better to relate before I proceed with the recipe itself. This recipe differs from any other that I have included on this blog - or anywhere else, for that matter - in that it is not one which I created or at least adapted. No, I am not committing plagiarism, nor have I been chatting up any elderly ladies of Italian descent: the recipe is actually my mother's.

This is a recipe which I vividly remember my mother (who has no Italian links) preparing from my earliest childhood but - even as a food writer and editor - I have strangely enough never asked her how she actually makes it until very recently. This is especially surprising, given the fact that it is so good. I therefore deemed to put that fact right and share it with the wider world at large. My mother (a vegetarian!) devised the recipe through trial and error, without clearly ever tasting it herself. I was certainly surprised myself both by certain inclusions and omissions from this recipe but please try it out for yourself before judging it.

The quantities in this recipe provide for two people.

Ingredients

1/2lb minced/ground steak (or beef)
2 small carrots (scraped and diced)
1 medium white onion (moderately finely chopped)
2 large closed cup mushrooms (moderately finely chopped)
8oz tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
A little boiling water

Method

Brown the minced/ground steak in a large pot. Ensure that it doesn't burn. Add the carrots and the onion then enough boiling water to ensure that everything is submerged. Simmer gently for ten to fifteen minutes.

Add the mushrooms, followed by the tomato puree and ketchup. Stir very well and leave to simmer gently while the accompanying spaghetti is prepared according to the instructions on the packet.

Drain the spaghetti and arrange on the serving plates, prior to spooning the bolognese sauce on top. Freshly grated parmesan cheese can be added if and as required.

Footnote: I have to admit that there is one thing I always add to this recipe and that is salt. That again, however, is a matter of personal taste.

Bonus Recipe Today! - Bolognese Sauce with Cheese on Toast

I couldn't bring myself to publish this post with my own sole contribution to the recipe being the addition of some salt, so I decided to share with you a way in which I love to eat any leftover bolognese sauce.

Ingredients

2 tbsp Bolognese sauce
1oz grated/shredded cheddar or other hard cheese
1 slice of bread
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

The first step is simply to re-heat the Bolognese sauce. Toast the bread thereafter on one side and turn it over before spooning on and smoothing out the Bolognese sauce. Sprinkle the cheese carefully on top and grind the pepper liberally on top of the cheese. Place back under the hot grill until the cheese has melted and begins to bubble furiously.

This makes a great lunch idea for the day after the Spaghetti Bolognese has been served but remember to ensure that the sauce is refrigerated if being left overnight and very thoroughly re-heated prior to use.

Yet Another Bonus Today

Do you ever have a problem judging how much spaghetti to make per person? I know that it used to be a common problem for me! Not long ago, however, I found this clever little tool on Amazon. You simply determine how many people you are cooking for and use the appropriate hole to determine how much spaghetti to cook. Obviously, it is not foolproof, as peoples' appetites vary, but it should at least significantly reduce the amount of unrequired and cooked spaghetti you are forced to discard - or even worse, the number of occasions upon which you come up short!

Click on either the Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk panel below to go a long way to ensuring that your cooked spaghetti is of the right quantity in future.



Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Tomato and Basil Pasta Recipe

Healthy Beef Recipes

How to Easily Make your own Homemade Pasta

Quick, Delicious, Homemade Pasta Dishes

A Pasta Guide from A-Z

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Poached King Scallops with Parsley Mashed Potatoes and Cream and White Wine Sauce

The process of how to cook scallops requires above all that considerable attention be paid to the concept of ensuring that the scallops not be over-cooked. If scallops are in any way over-cooked, they will acquire an extremely unpleasant texture, as well as losing much of their delicate flavour, and prove to provide a decidedly unpleasant eating experience. This recipe for scallops poached in milk provides for a very defined cooking method and virtually ensures that the scallops may be enjoyed at their very best. Please note also that the orange, "Roe," or, "Coral," as it is more properly called is entirely edible and should be left attached where possible.

Ingredients (Per Person)

5 King Scallops (Coral attached)
Approximately half a pint of milk
2 large maris piper potatoes
1 tbsp double (heavy) cream
1 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley plus a small sprig for garnish

Method

The first step is to peel the potatoes and chop them in to approximately one inch cubes. Put them in to a pan of boiling, salted water and simmer for twenty to twenty-five minutes, until soft. When the potatoes are almost ready, put the scallops in to a small pot and add enough cold milk to ensure they are fully covered. Put them on a moderate heat and simply leave them until the milk just begins to simmer. At this stage, the scallops are cooked and should be removed from the milk with a slotted spoon.

Drain the potatoes well and return them to the empty pot. Add about a tablespoonful of the warm scallop poaching milk (more can be added if and when required) and mash them thoroughly. Reserve a generous pinch of the chopped parsley for the sauce and add the remainder to the potatoes, stirring it through well.

The sauce will only take seconds to make. Add the wine to a very small saucepan and bring it up to a simmer. Add the cream and stir it in gently until the sauce returns to a simmer. Stir in the parsley and the sauce is ready to serve.

Spoon the mashed potatoes on to a plate and arrange in a flat disc. Add the scallops on top before pouring over the sauce. Garnish with the remaining sprig of parsley and serve immediately.

Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Healthy Fish Recipes

Healthy Shrimp and Cashew Nuts Recipe

Causes and Symptoms of a Shellfish Allergy

How to Cook Mussels

Seafood Dinner Ideas and Recipes

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Easy Vegetable Stir Fry with Fried Rice

A vegetable stir fry is probably one of the easiest and quickest stir fries of all to prepare and as it has been some time since I have included a vegetarian option on this blog, I decided that this easy vegetable stir fry served with simple fried rice was one of the best ways to put that right.

Ingredients (Serves One)

1 red bell pepper (deseeded and sliced in to half inch wide strips)
1 small onion (peeled and quartered)
6 cobs of baby corn
Handful of mangetout
6 button mushrooms
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbsp corn oil for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp light soy sauce (optional)

Fried rice

Method

Prepare the fried rice first as instructed via the link above and keep warm in a serving dish while you stir fry the vegetables.

Bring the wok up to a fairly high heat and add the corn oil. When the oil is equally hot, add the onion, followed by the pepper and then the baby corn. Stir fry for about thirty seconds before adding the remainder of the vegetables one at a time. Stir fry for about another minute before adding the soy sauce (if desired) and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Ensure that the seasoning is well mixed through the ingredients before turning off the heat and serving immediately on a bed of fried rice.

Relevant Associated Links for your Further Information

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes

Alternatives to Soy for Vegetarians

Vegetarian Christmas Recipes

Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking Tips

Healthy Vegetarian Recipes

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Braised Scottish Venison with Red Wine and Red Pepper Reduction

Venison is a meat which is used in a lot of traditional Scottish recipes. Although this method of cooking venison could hardly be classed as a traditional Scottish recipe - with the inclusion of red wine and red pepper - this method of cooking quality Scottish venison makes for a hearty, warming and delicious meal.

Ingredients (Serves One)

6oz Scottish venison (diced)
1 red bell pepper (deseeded and cut in to 1/2" strips)
1 small onion (finely sliced)
2 cloves of garlic (crushed or very finely chopped)
1/2 pint red wine
1/2 pint fresh beef stock
2 tbsp plain or all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2oz basmati rice
1 tsp freshly chopped parsley and small sprig of same for garnish

Method

Put the sunflower oil in to a large pot and bring it up to a medium to high heat. Put the flour in to a bowl and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the venison pieces and stir them around well in the seasoned flour. Shake the excess flour off each piece of venison and add them to the hot oil. Stir them around in the oil with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes until they have completely browned and sealed. Add the onion, red pepper and garlic and stir in this way for another minute or so before adding the red wine and fresh beef stock. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer as gently as possible for at least two hours, until the venison is tender, stirring occasionally and well. Note that it is possible that a little more stock or wine will be required towards the end of the cooking time.

Around fifteen minutes before the venison is due to be ready, wash the rice thoroughly in running cold water through a sieve and add it to a pan of boiling, salted water. Cook for twelve minutes before draining well. Line a small ramekin with clingfilm that the film overhangs by at least an inch and pack the rice tightly inside, filled level with the top of the ramekin. Place the serving plate on top of the ramekin and carefully turn them over that the plate is now on the bottom. Gently hold the edges of the clingfilm and lift the ramekin away before carefully peeling the clingfilm away to leave the rice ready to serve as shown in the photograph.

Spoon the braised venison and red wine and red pepper reduction around the rice and garnish with the freshly chopped parsley.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Fried Chicken Livers and Onions with New Potatoes in Garlic Butter

Chicken livers are probably not as popular as such as ox liver or lamb's liver. They are obviously considerably smaller in size and even more delicate in texture and in flavour, however they serve very well as the principal ingredient in many good recipes. This recipe for chicken liver and onions with new potatoes in garlic butter is not only delicious, it is incredibly simple to make.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1/2lb chicken livers
2 tbsp plain or all purpose flour
1 large onion (halved then sliced)
Generous pinch of dried sage
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp sunflower oil
12 new potatoes
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1/2oz Butter

Method

Put the potatoes in to a pot, season with salt and cover with boiling water. Simmer for twenty-five to thirty-minutes.

Put the flour in to a bowl and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir well. Just over ten minutes before the potatoes should be ready, put the sunlflower oil in to a large non-stick frying-pan and bring it up to a medium to high heat. Add the chicken livers to the bowl of flour and stir them around well to evenly coat them in flour. Pick the pieces out one by one, shake them free of excess flour and add them to the frying-pan.

Fry the livers for around three minutes each side before adding in the onions and sage and stirring well. Fry for another couple of minutes before adding the balsamic vinegar for the last two minutes of cooking time, continuing to stir frequently.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the empty pot. Add the butter and the garlic and swirl around well to ensure good and even coating.

Serve the livers and potatoes immediately.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Whiting Fillet in Fresh Breadcrumbs with Garlic Herb Potatoes and Coleslaw

Whiting is one of my favourite types of fish. Its clean, fresh, delicate flavour is beyond the compare of many and provided it is not over-cooked it will provide for a delicious and healthy meal. When preparing any type of fish in breadcrumbs, however, many people make the mistake of using packaged breadcrumbs or fish dressing from supermarkets, when nothing can beat the fresh breadcrumbs simply prepared at home.

Ingredients (Per Person)

1 fresh fillet of whiting
2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
3 or 4 new potatoes (or as desired)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 egg
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt

Method

If using the larger new potatoes as I have done, they will require a total of forty minutes' cooking time. Smaller new potatoes will require only thirty minutes. In either case, they should first be boiled - unpeeled - for half the alloted time in salted water prior to being very well drained. One tablespoon of sunflower oil should then be added to a large bowl along with the sage and some more salt. This mixture should be stirred, prior to adding the potatoes and carefully stirring them around to coat them all in the seasoned oil. The potatoes should then be poured on to a pre-heated baking sheet and placed in the oven - pre-heated to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6 - for the second half of their cooking time. The bowl should be left unwashed and set aside for later use.

When the potatoes are in the oven, a slice of semi-stale bread should be grated or shredded to make the breadcrumbs. If the bread is fresh, it should be sat on a vacant shelf in the oven for a minute or two to dry out a bit. The breadcrumbs should then be spread evenly on a dinner plate. The egg should be placed in a small soup plate or similar, seasoned with a little salt and beaten thoroughly.

Ten minutes before the potatoes are due to be ready, put the remaining tablespoon of sunflower oil in to a non-stick frying-pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Draw the whiting fillet through the egg-wash, ensuring all parts of the fillet are coated prior to patting it down in the breadcrumbs on both sides. The fillet should then be gently fried for about four minutes on each side.

Five minutes before the end of the scheduled cooking time for the potatoes, add the crushed garlic to the bowl used earlier. Remove the potatoes from the oven, tip them in to the bowl and stir them around in the oil residue and garlic. Return them to the baking sheet and the oven for the final five minutes.

The fish and the potatoes may then carefully be plated up and a spoonful of coleslaw added as a final accompaniment.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Lambs' Liver, Bacon and Onion Casserole with Roasted Potato Slices

Liver and onions is a popular combination but they are most often cooked together in a frying-pan. This recipe is a little bit different in that although the cooking process begins with the frying-pan, it is mostly undertaken in the form of oven casseroling.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

4 slices of lambs' liver
1 large onion (sliced)
4 rashers of bacon
1 pint of fresh chicken stock
2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp sunflower oil
4 large roasting or baking potatoes
Salt and pepper

Method

Put your oven on to preheat to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4. Pour one tablespoon of sunflower oil in to a frying-pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the onions and bacon and fry for a couple of minutes before removing to the casserole dish.

Put the flour on a plate and season well before drawing each slice of liver through it to evenly coat both sides. Fry the liver for about a minute each side to seal and add it to the casserole dish. Pour the warm chicken stock over the meat and cover the dish before putting it in to the oven for forty-five minutes.

I prefer not to peel the potatoes but this is a matter of personal preference. Peeled or unpeeled, therefore, cut them in to quarter-inch thick slices. Add the remaining two tablespoons of sunflower oil to a large basin or bowl and season well with salt. Put the potato slices in to the bowl and stir very carefully but thoroughly to coat each of them in oil. Place the slices on a warmed baking sheet and in to the oven for the final thirty minutes of the casserole's cooking time. Turn them after fifteen minutes.

Arrange the cooked potato slices in a circle around the edge of a large plate. Add some of the bacon and onions to the centre of the plate and serve the slice of liver on top.

Looking for more delicious lamb's liver recipes? Check out the link below!

Lamb's Liver Recipes

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Tender Fillet of Veal in Breadcrumbs with Herb Roast Potatoes and Red Cabbage Salad

Veal can of course be a very expensive meat to buy but it is so delicious if prepared correctly that the outlay is more than worth it every so often. This tender fillet of veal just melted in the mouth and went very well with the accompanying herb roast potatoes and red cabbage salad. This recipe is for two people.

Ingredients

2 fillets of veal
12 (approx.) baby new potatoes (unpeeled)
1/2 small red cabbage
1 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro in USA)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 eggs
5 to 6 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the potatoes in to a large pan of boiling, salted water to parboil for fifteen minutes and the oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6, a flat baking tray inside to also heat.

Chop/shred the red cabbage with a sharp knife and put it in a fairly large bowl. Add the coriander and white wine vinegar and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir very well and cover until required.

Put one tablespoon of sunflower in to a large mixing bowl and add the herbs, seasoning with salt. Stir well. Once the potatoes have boiled for fifteen minutes, drain them well before adding them also to the bowl and swirling them around until they are evenly coated in the herb and oil mixture. Put them on to the baking tray and in to the heated oven for another fifteen minutes.

Break the eggs in to a shallow but wide dish and beat with a fork. Place the breadcrumbs on a large dinner plate and evenly spread them out. Add a tablespoon of sunflower oil to a large non-stick frying pan and bring up to a medium heat. Dip each fillet of veal in turn firstly in to the egg then pat both sides in the breadcrumbs and repeat before placing them carefully in to the warmed pan. Fry for ten minutes, turning them over carefully after five minutes, then turn off the frying pan and leave them to rest for the final few minutes of the potatoes' cooking time.

Plate up your meal and enjoy your dinner.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Pork Fillet on Red Cabbage and Pear

I love red cabbage, especially when prepared with pears as in this recipe. When I prepared pork with pear sauce for this blog a week or so ago, I determined to prepare a pork fillet with red cabbage and pear in the very near future. I have now done so.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

2 leg of pork fillets
Half a red cabbage (shredded)
1 ripe pear (thinly sliced)
2 cloves of garlic (crushed or very finely chopped)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

Method

Put a little vegetable oil in to a frying pan and bring up to a medium heat. Add the two pork fillets and fry for around ten minutes each side on the same medium heat. Ensure that the pork is fully cooked throughout by checking that the juices run clear.

After turning the pork half-way through cooking, in a large pot, pour around two tablespoons of vegetable oil and gently heat. Add the garlic cloves and stir for a minute or so to infuse the oil with their flavour before adding the red cabbage and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to heat at medium, stirring occasionally and well.

When the pork is done, push the pan off the heat and leave it to rest for a few minutes. Add the pear slices to the cabbage and cook for another three or four minutes and this delicious and attractive meal is ready to serve.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Simple Lamb Curry: Lamb Rogan Josh

When deciding what to have for dinner last night, I realised that I hadn't had lamb for an unusually long period of time. I dredged through my memory therefore for the details of this simple lamb curry recipe, my version of Lamb Rogan Josh, and decided that this - accompanied by a naan bread - was just that for which I was in the mood.

The quantites used in this simple recipe are for one hungry person.

Ingredients

1/2lb diced leg of lamb
1 large onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 14oz can of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt
1 tsp powdered coriander seed
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin seed
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander (known by its Spanish name, "Cilantro," in the USA)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp sunflower or corn oil

Method

Add the oil to a fairly large pot and bring it up to a medium heat before adding the onions and the garlic. Stir fry these ingredients with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes until the onions begin to take on a transluscent quality. Add the four spices and fry for another minute or so, stirring continually.

Add the diced leg of lamb and turn up the heat, stirring to brown the lamb evenly. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and the natural yoghurt and bring to a boil.

When the mixture is boiling, turn down the heat to the abolute minimum and simmer as gently as possible for one and a half hours, stirring occasionally. Note here that I have in the past sometimes found that the liquid has almost fully evaporated before the rogan josh is ready. If this should be the case, simply add a little boiling water as required.

When the lamb rogan josh is ready, season to taste with salt, stir in the chopped coriander and serve with a warm naan bread.

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Saturday, 19 September 2009

Leftover Stir Fried Pork with Fried Rice

Last night, I found myself wondering, "What should I have for dinner tonight when firstly I forgot to eat lunch and secondly I forgot to go to the supermarket?" Yes, it was a long, hard day at the PC and my concentration was absolute, so when my stomach started to growl around 8pm, I faced a bit of a dilemma.

I soon remembered, however, the leftover pork from the previous night which I had intended having on sandwiches for lunch and decided to get the wok out and create a leftover stir fried pork recipe. As the rice has to first be boiled and cooled, however, last night's was a very late dinner!

Ingredients

2 thick slices of leftover roast pork
1 onion (quartered and separated from layers)
Pinch of Chinese five spice
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 oz basmati or long grained rice
Corn oil for stir frying

Method

The first step is to boil the rice as one normally would - per the instructions on the packet - and leave it to cool completely. I like to assist this process by running it under some cold water when I'm in a hurry.

When the rice is cool, add around one tablespoon of corn oil to a hot wok and subsequently the rice. Stir fry for two to three minutes until the rice just begins to take on a little colour. Transfer the rice to a warmed holding dish while you prepare the stir fried pork.

Add some more oil to the wok and then the chopped onion. Stir fry until the onion begins to colour, then add the pork until it too takes on a dark, roasted colour. Add the Chinese five spice and the dark soy sauce and stir fry for another thirty seconds to a minute before plating the rice and the leftover stir fried pork on top. Garnish if desired with such as a chopped tomato or some fresh herbs.

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Friday, 18 September 2009

Roast Pork with Pear Sauce and Roast Potatoes

Roast Pork is a traditional family favourite but is of course more commonly served with apple sauce, rather than pear sauce. This was a recipe idea which actually occurred to me in the supermarket last night when I was unable to get one of the ingredients for the dish I intended to make. I am quite happy, however, to leave that dish for another time and share here my idea for Roast Pork with Pear Sauce and Roast Potatoes.

Ingredients

1 joint of pork, suitable for roasting
(Remaining ingredients are per person)
6 or 7 baby new potatoes
1 tbsp frozen peas
1/2 pear
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Small pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Cold water
Salt

Method

The first step is clearly to roast the pork. Place the pork either on a baking tray and cover it with aluminium foil or in a roasting tin. Put it in to the oven, pre-heated to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5, for 35 minutes per pound and a half hour over and above this time. Uncover the pork for the last half hour of the cooking time to let the crackling crisp up.

Fifteen minutes before the pork is ready, place the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, in to some boiling salted water to parboil. Peel and chop the pear in to small cubes, discarding the skin and the core. Put the pear in to a small saucepan with the sugar, nutmeg and lemon juice and enough cold water to just cover the pears. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until all other items are ready, stirring occasionally.

When the pork is ready, check that it is indeed cooked all the way through by ensuring the juices run clear and then sit it aside to rest while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.

Drain the potatoes well and add them to the roasting tin or tray along with the still hot pork juices. Gently tilt the tray backwards and forwards to ensure the potatoes are evenly covered in the juices and put back in to the oven for fifteen minutes. When the potatoes are done, sit them on some kitchen paper to drain and cook the frozen peas in boiling water for three minutes.

It remains then only to plate up your meal. Note that the cooking time in this recipe will leave the pear sauce fairly chunky, but a longer cooking time will result in a smoother finish.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Pork and Apple Shortcrust Pie

Pork Pies are normally thought of in terms of the Melton Mowbray variety. As pork of course goes very well with apples, however, I decided to come up with a pork pie recipe which is just a little different. This generously portioned pork and apple shortcrust pie will serve four to six people.

Ingredients

1lb minced or ground pork
1lb shortcrust pastry
1/2 Granny Smith apple
1 small carrot
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 egg
2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
Salt
Butter for greasing
Milk for glazing

Method

Put the oven on to pre-heat to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4. Finely dice the half apple and carrot, half then finely slice the onion and crush or finely chop the gralic cloves. Add them all to a large mixing bowl, along with the pork, egg, breadcrumbs and sage. Season with salt and mix thoroughly by hand.

Roll out three quarters of the pastry until it is big enough to line a medium sized casserole dish (which should be greased with butter) with about an extra half inch protruding above the rim. Spoon in the pork mixture and press down evenly and well. Roll out the remainder of the pastry as the lid and use the protruding edges to roll in to a crust for the pie. Make three diagonal scores in the pie lid of about one inch in length for steam and juices to escape and glaze lightly with milk. Put in to the oven for one hour.

About half way through the cooking time, juices will start to escape from the slits in the top of the pie. It is not necessary, but I like to mop the excess off with some dry kitchen towel at this stage.

When the pie is ready, very carefully turn it out of the dish using two plates and leave it somewhere to cool, before serving with accompaniments of choice.

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Monday, 14 September 2009

Turkey, White Wine and Mushroom Pie with Garlic and Mint Mashed Potatoes

It is very common of course to hear of Chicken and Mushroom Pies but probably less so to hear of Turkey and Mushroom Pies. As I have invested a fair bit of time recently in preparing Healthy Turkey Recipes which can be enjoyed all year round - as opposed to simply at Thanksgiving or Christmas - I decided to give this idea a try. I have to say that I was more than delighted with the result.

Ingredients

1/2lb diced turkey breast
6 closed cup mushrooms (halved)
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1/2 pint fresh chicken stock
1/2 pint cheap non-sparkling white wine
2 cloves of garlic
1lb potatoes (I used maris pipers)
2 tsp freshly chopped mint leaves
Salt
A little olive oil for frying

Method

Pour a little olive oil in to a large pot and bring up to a medium heat. Add the diced turkey and cook until the meat is sealed, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add one of the garlic colves (finely chopped) along with the mushrooms and fry off for another couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and the wine and bring up to a simmer before turning off the heat, covering the pot and leaving it to cool for one to two hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Put the turkey and mushrooms in to a pie dish about six to eight inches long with enough of the stock to submerge the solids (will take most of it.) Grease the edges of the dish with a little butter. Roll out the pastry until it is large enough to cover the dish and place carefully on top, pressing down around the edges to seal before trimming. Make a small hole in the centre of the pie for steam to escape and glaze lightly with cold milk. Put the pie in to the oven for twenty-five minutes.

When the pie is in the oven, peel and chop the potatoes and add them to some boiling, salted water. Simmer for thirty minutes.

When the pie is ready, remove from the oven and sit it aside to rest for ten minutes or so, while the potatoes finish cooking. When the potatoes are done, drain them well before returning them to the pot and mashing with a little butter. Add the mint and the remaining garlic clove (crushed) and stir well.

Plate up you meal, serve and enjoy!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Chicken and Pineapple Egg Fried Rice

There are a great many misconceptions surrounding the process of how to make egg fried rice. The procedure is not a difficult one, however, and if the necessary steps are taken in the correct order, the result can easily rival that purchased from any restaurant.

Ingredients

3oz basmati or long grained rice
2 eggs
2oz cooked chicken
1 ring of pineapple
1 clove of garlic
1 small red chilli pepper
2 large basil leaves
1 tbsp corn oil for frying
Salt to taste

Method

The first step is to boil the rice. Fried rice is made with rice which has already been cooked and not raw rice. Boil it therefore per the instructions on the packet. Drain it well when cooked then run it under cold water for a minute in a sieve to enhance the cooling process. Put it in a bowl and cover to allow it to cool completely.

The egg for making egg fried rice is usually deep fried in a wok prior to making the dish to form something akin to an omelette. I prefer, however, to make instead a traditional French style omelette. This involves melting a little butter in a non-stick frying pan and pouring in the beaten eggs, cooking over a medium heat. Use a spatula to draw the egg mixture from the edge of the pan in towards the centre until the eggs begin to set. When the eggs begin to set, simply leave them until the process is complete and then remove the omelette on to a plate.

Finely chop the garlic and de-seed and finely chop the chilli pepper. The chicken and pineapple should be roughly chopped.

Put the wok on at maximum heat until it is smoking hot. Add the corn oil and heat through. Add the garlic, followed by the chilli and fry off for a minute, remembering to stir constantly. Add the chicken to fry, followed shortly after by the pineapple.

I like to roll up the omelette I have made and roughly chop it but it should be chopped to the size of personal preference. Add the rice and stir fry, then finally the chopped egg.

When done, season to taste and mix through the torn basil leaves before serving with the garnish or accompaniment of choice.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Smoked Mackerel on Spicy Potato Salad

Every so often, I like to experiment not only with the dishes which I create but with the combination of food items which I include as a meal. Where I got the idea for this smoked mackerel on spicy potato salad recipe, even I don't know; all I know is that although it may not sound like the most appetising of dinner dishes, the combination worked very well and it was absolutely delicious!

Ingredients (Serves Four)

4 large smoked mackerel fillets
1 1/2lb potatoes
1 fresh cob of sweetcorn
2 cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli
1 small green chilli
2 tsp fresh, chopped mint leaves
3 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
4 small cherry tomatoes for garnish (if desired)
Salt to taste

Method

Peel the potatoes and slice and chop them in to approximately 1/2" cubes. Put them in to a large pan of boiling, salted water and simmer for twenty minutes.

When the potatoes are done, drain them well and set them aside to at least begin to cool while you prepare the remainder of the salad ingredients.

Strip the leaves and fibres from the cob of corn and break off any remaining part of the stem. Sit the cob on its broad end on a chopping board and very carefully slice off the corn kernels with ideally a Chinese style cleaver but, failing that, a very sharp knife. Put the corn kernels in to a large bowl and discard the cob.

Peel the garlic cloves and crush them in to the bowl. De-seed the chillis, finely chop them and add them also, along with the mint, before adding the potatoes and stirring well. The mayonnaise should be added last of all along with salt to taste and the whole mixture stirred thoroughly, though carefully so as not to break up the potatoes.

It is possible to serve the salad immediately but I much prefer to let it cool completely before spooning it on to plates, breaking up the smoked mackerel fillets in to large flakes and serving with a cherry tomato as the final garnish.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Steak and Ale Pie

There are several steak pie recipes which I prepare regularly but this steak and ale pie recipe has got to rate as one of my favourites. The brown ale lends a delicious extra flavour to the beef and the overall effect is truly out of this world.

Ingredients

1lb Aberdeen Angus stewing steak
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 pint brown ale (I use Newcastle Brown Ale)
1 pint fresh beef stock (please - no stock cubes!)
1/2lb puff pastry
Freshly ground black pepper
A little milk for glazing

Method

Put the beef in to a large pot and brown it over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. This will take a few minutes to do it properly and it is important to ensure that all the pieces of beef are properly sealed in this way.

Add the beef stock and brown ale to the pot and season well with freshly ground black pepper. Turn the heat up until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce the heat to very low, so that the liquid is just simmering, and continue to simmer for two and a half hours, stirring occasionally. Note that in the first few minutes of simmering, the brown ale is likely to cause the liquid to froth up but stirring well will negate this effect.

Ten minutes before the two and a half hours are up, put the oven on to pre-heat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Peel and quarter the onion and scrape and slice the carrot in to discs and add them to the beef mixture for the last few minutes of simmering.

Remove the beef and vegetables from the stock with a slotted spoon and place in to a rectangular pie dish, approximately 10" by 5". Pour in enough of the remaining stock to ensure the solids are covered.

Roll out the pastry on a floured board. Grease the edges of the pie dish with a little butter and sit the pastry on top, pressing down firmly around the edges. Cut a "+" shaped cross in the centre of the pastry with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape during baking and glaze lightly with some milk. Place the pie on a baking sheet and in to the oven for 30 minutes.

I like to leave the pie to rest for about ten minutes after taking it from the oven, in a similar sense as to how I would rest a beef steak for a few minutes prior to serving. After this time, cut the pie and serve with chosen accompaniments.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Three Fish Pie with Carrots and Peas

Fish Pie - often called Ocean Pie - is one of my favourite dishes. I do vary the recipe quite considerably but this version is the one which I prepare most often. The combination of these three different types of fish and the use of basil instead of the more commonly used parsley gives the dish a very special and unique flavour.

Ingredients (Serves Two to Four People)

1/2lb salmon fillet
1/4lb cod fillet
1/4lb undyed smoked haddock fillet
1lb potatoes
1 pint of milk
3oz butter
3oz plain flour
10 to 12 basil leaves
1 bay leaf
1 celery stalk
1 small carrot per person
1 tbsp frozen peas per person
Salt

Method

Peel and chop the potatoes and put them in to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Simmer for half an hour.

When the potatoes are on, chop the fish fillets in to bite-sized pieces and place them in to a separate large pot. Pour in the pint of milk, add the chopped celery stalk and the bay leaf and heat until the milk just reaches a simmer. Turn the heat off, cover the pot and set it aside until the potatoes are ready. The heat already present in the milk will cook the fish.

When the potatoes are done, drain them well and return them to the pot. Add about two tablespoons of milk from the fish and mash well. Put the oven on to pre-heat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.

Drain the fish from the milk (reserving the milk!) and remove and discard the celery and the bay leaf. Melt the butter gently in a large saucepan and add the sieved flour to form a roux. Cook the roux for two or three minutes before adding the warm milk in three distinct stages to form a lush sauce. Add the fish pieces and the chopped or torn basil leaves and stir well - but carefully, so as not to break up the fish too much.

Put the fish and sauce mixture in to a casserole dish and very carefully spoon the potato on top, spreading it out as evenly as possible. I always put the dish on a baking tray or sheet before putting it in to the oven, as very often the sauce will overflow around the edges and the baking sheet is far easier to clean than the oven!

Bake the pie for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the potato begins to brown on the top.

After the pie has been on for about 10 minutes, chop the carrots in to 1/2" thick discs and add them to boiling, salted water. Cook for 15 minutes. Cook the peas per the instructions on the packet to be ready at the same time as the rest of your meal, plate up and enjoy!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Beef and Tomato Pasta Shells

Pasta is a very common and healthy food item but is of course extremely bland without an accompanying and appropriate sauce. I prepared this beef and tomato pasta recipe for my dinner last night and found it to be absolutely delicious.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1/2lb minced or ground beef
1 7oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2 garlic cloves (crushed or very finely chopped)
2 cups of pasta shells
5 or 6 basil leaves (chopped) plus one extra to garnish
2 tsp grated or shredded cheddar or other hard cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Put the minced or ground beef in to a pot and brown it completely over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. This process should take two or three minutes. Add the garlic and the chopped tomatoes, bring up to the boil then turn the heat down until the sauce is at a low simmer. Cover and leave to cook, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Turn the heat down until the water is but simmering and cook for the period of time stipulated on the packet, stirring occasionally. Please note that it is a myth that adding oil to the water will prevent the pasta shells or any other type of pasta from sticking together. As most schoolchildren know, oil and water do not mix and the oil will simply form in a layer on top of the water. All this will achieve is to waste some perhaps very expensive oil!

A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, stir the basil in to the sauce and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

When the pasta is ready, drain it well and put it on to two plates. Spoon the sauce on top and garnish with the cheese and remaining basil.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Bacon and Egg? - for Dinner???

Bacon and egg is of course a very popular combination. It is eaten frequently for breakfast, brunch, or even lunch - but how often do you have bacon and egg for dinner? Not very often? Never, more likely!

As you will see, however, the bacon and egg combination here is a little bit different from the normal breakfast serving method and I can assure you does provide a very tasty and satisfying evening meal.

Ingredients

4 rashers of bacon
3 eggs
1 small tomato (de-seeded and roughly chopped)
1 cherry tomato for garnish
1oz cheddar or other hard cheese (grated or shredded)
3 medium sized basil leaves (roughly chopped) plus one small one for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Small knob of butter for frying

Method

Break the three eggs in to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and beat or whisk moderately well. Melt the butter gently in a small, non-stick frying pan and add the egg mixture, turning the heat up to medium. As soon as the eggs are in the pan, put the bacon under the grill to cook.

In the early stages of the eggs cooking, use a spatula to draw the mix in from the edges towards the centre all the way around. Desist from this process once the eggs begin to set, or scrambled eggs will be the result.

Once the eggs can be seen to be almost fully set, turn the bacon under the grill then carefully add the filling to the omelette, on one half only as shown in the picture. Add the tomato, followed by the cheese and finally the basil.

Very carefully, fold the untopped half of the omelette over on top of the half containing the filling and plate up your meal.

NB There are a couple of points I should perhaps mention with regards to this recipe.

1) It is of course down to personal preference but I have found that there is no form of cooking oil which is a worthwhile substitute for butter when making an omelette. Please also never consider using oil-based spreads instead of butter. These spreads are not designed for cooking with.

2) You may notice something strange about the cherry tomato I have used in this recipe. It is of a little known variety called black tomatoes. They are not widely available - but fortunately I simply took one off the vine in the greenhouse!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Leg of Lamb Steak on Potato and Onion Swirl with Garlic and Mint Soured Cream

This is a recipe which can be a little bit awkward in the preparation. It is very important therefore for me to point out from the outset that not too much should be made of attempting to arrange the raw potato and onion slices in a swirl on the baking tray in the first instance. When they are cooked and are softer and more malleable, it will be very simple to arrange them effectively on the plate in the desired fashion.

It is of course not entirely necessary to arrange them as shown on the baking tray and they can equally well be laid out flat and separately, turned once half-way through cooking. I believe, however, that arranging them as shown in the first instance allows the flavour of the onions to permeate in to the potatoes and makes for a much tastier final result.

Ingredients

1 leg of lamb steak or fillet
1 medium sized potato (unpeeled, sliced to one-eighth inch thick)
1 small onion (peeled, sliced to one-eight inch thick)
1 tbsp low fat soured cream
6 fresh mint leaves (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
Sunflower oil
Salt
Small knob of butter

Method

The first step is to prepare the soured cream garnish. This is simply a matter of combining the soured cream, mint and garlic in a small bowl, stirring well and covering with clingfilm, before refrigerating it until required.

Put the oven on to pre-heat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Add about a tablespoon of sunflower oil to a large bowl and season it well with salt. Place six potato slices in to the bowl and stir them around carefully but well to ensure even coating in the oil and salt.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with a little bit of butter and arrange the potato slices and six onion slices as shown. Remember not to be too particular as they can and will be tidied up at the time of service. Place the baking tray in to the oven for twenty-five minutes.

The leg of lamb steak will take about six minutes to cook on each side, if of the thickness (about half an inch) of the one shown. When the potato and onion swirl has been in the oven for about ten minutes, therefore, heat a little sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the steak gently, turning half way through the cooking time. This will have it ready a few minutes before the potatoes and allow it to be pushed to the side to rest.

Cook the frozen peas as described on the packet. This usually entails putting them in to boiling water for two to three minutes. Drain them well when done.

Take the potato and onion swirl from the oven and carefully transfer it to a plate with a large spatula. Tidy up the construction as required. Sit the lamb steak on top, spoon the peas around it and top off with the soured cream.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Cheesey Pork Fillet with Garlic Roast Potatoes

The most important thing to remember when cooking pork is that it must never be underdone. Just like chicken and unlike such as beef, pork must be cooked all the way through to eliminate the risk of food poisoning. This recipe includes first cooking the pork and then adding a delicious cheese and sage topping as a finishing touch.

Ingredients

1 pork leg fillet
1 large potato (unpeeled and chopped)
1 tbsp frozen peas
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1oz cheddar (or other hard) cheese (grated or shredded)
Pinch of dried sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sunflower oil and a little more for frying

Method

Place a baking tray in to the oven and put the oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Chop the potato in to bite-sized portions and put them in a large bowl with the sunflower oil and some salt. Swirl them around to ensure even coating with the oil and salt. Tip the potatoes on to the preheated baking tray and put them in to the oven for a total of thirty minutes, taking them out to give them a gentle shake and ensure even cooking every ten minutes. Set the bowl aside (unwashed) for later use.

When the potatoes have been on for ten minutes, put a little sunflower in a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Fry the pork fillet gently for ten minutes each side or until done. Set aside to rest.

When the fillet is cooked, the potatoes should have about five minutes to go. Add the garlic to the unwashed bowl then remove the potatoes from the oven and add them also to the bowl. Swirl or stir them in the garlic mix to cover them, then return to the tray and the oven for five more minutes. Adding the garlic at this late stage prevents it from becoming over-cooked and tasting bitter.

Mix the cheese with the sage and some freshly ground black pepper. Carefully press the mix down on top of the pork fillet and place the fillet on to a grill pan and under a hot grill until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.

The frozen peas should be cooked per the instructions on the packet, usually by boiling them in water for two to three minutes.

Plate up your meal as shown and serve immediately.

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