Monday, 30 July 2012

Pan Fried Turkey Breast Fillet with Goose Fat Roasted Potatoes and Salsa

Floured and pan fried turkey breast fillet served with goose fat roasted potatoes and simple spicy salsa

Turkey continues to be something which many people associate only with Thanksgiving or Christmas. Available in most locales all year round, however, turkey - just like chicken - can be cooked up, served and enjoyed in any number of tasty ways, at any time of year. I was surprised, therefore, to discover recently that I haven't featured turkey at all on this blog since the lead up to Christmas 2011 and thought it was time I put that right with this basic but delicious creation.

Ingredients for simple salsa

Ingredients per Serving

6 baby new potatoes, skins on
1 tbsp goose or duck fat
3" piece of cucumber
1 medium tomato
1/4 medium red onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Splash of white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
4 to 6oz turkey breast fillet
1 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
Vegetable oil for frying
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish

De-seeding tomato and cucumber for salsa


The potatoes have to be boiled until cooked then cooled completely before they are roasted. Start therefore by adding them to a pot of salted water and bringing them to a simmer for about half an hour until softened. Drain, return to the pot, cover and leave to cool.

When the potatoes are on to cook, it is a good idea to prepare your salsa and simply refrigerate it until it is required. This gives the various flavours a chance to combine. Simply deseed and finely chop the tomato and cucumber, finely chop the onion and (peeled) garlic clove and combine in a glass or stone bowl with the extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl in the fridge.

Goose fat is added to ovenproof dish

The goose fat should be really hot before you add the potatoes. Spoon it in to an ovenproof dish and put the dish on a roasting tray (helps contain any splashes) and in to the oven to preheat to 450F/220C. While this is happening, peel the skins from the potatoes with your fingers.

Cooked and Cooled potatoes are peeled for roasting

Very carefully, lay the potatoes in the goose fat and stir them around. Put them in to the oven for twenty minutes.

Potatoes are added to very hot goose fat

Scatter the flour on a plate and season. Bring the vegetable oil up to a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Pat the turkey breast on both sides in the seasoned flour and fry for around three minutes each side until done. Do be sure it is fully and properly cooked by piercing it and ensuring the juices run clear.

Turkey breast fillet is seasoned and floured an pan fried in oil

Take the potatoes from the oven and use a metal slotted spoon to lift them on to some kitchen paper on a plate to drain.

Goose fat roasted potatoes are drained on kitchen paper

Sit the turkey fillet on your serving plate.

Pan fried turkey breast fillet is plated

Arrange the potatoes and salsa beside the turkey. Garnish the turkey and salsa with the chopped parsley, serve and enjoy your meal.

Roast potatoes and salsa are plated alongside the turkey fillet

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Easy Beef Chilli with Mexicana Cheese and Wheat, Spelt and Rye Toast

Beef chilli is garnished with coriander and Mexicana cheese and served with buttered wheat, spelt and rye toast

Chilli is something which is perhaps more recognisably served with rice, or even tortilla chips. Serving it with toast may seem a little strange but this delicious wheat, spelt and rye bread is not only delicious toasted and served with chilli, it makes for much quicker and easier preparation of your meal. The Mexicana cheese adds a final extra little something to set the dish off perfectly.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

3/4lb minced or ground beef
1/2 medium red onion, peeled and sliced
1 green bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced to half an inch
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
8oz can red kidney beans in water, drained and rinsed
14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2 tbsp tomato puree/paste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 1" thick slices of wheat, spelt and rye bread
Chopped coriander/cilantro to garnish
Butter for toast
3 small, triangular slices Mexicana cheese

Browning the beef for the chilli


Put the beef in a large, dry pot and brown over a medium heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. This should take two to three minutes.

Red onion is added to the browned beef

Add the onion and the garlic to the beef and stir fry for a further minute or two until the onion just starts to turn transluscent.

Green bell pepper is added to the beef and onion

Add the bell pepper to the pot, followed by the chilli flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and stir well.

Red kidney beans, spices and seasoning are added to the beef and vegetables

The red kidney beans should be added next, followed by the tomatoes and tomato puree/paste. Stir well and increase the heat to achieve a gentle simmer before reducing the heat to just maintain the simmer and no more.

Tomatoes and tomato puree are added to the chilli

Put the lid on the pot and simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. If by any chance the combination becomes too dry, add a very little boiling water.

Chilli is gently simmered for twenty minutes

The bread should be toasted until golden on both sides, just before the chilli is ready to be served.

Wheat, spelt and rye bread for making toast

Lay the toast on the serving plates and add a little bit of butter to the centre of each slice. It will melt as you plate the remainder of the ingredients.

Wheat, spelt and rye toast is plated

Spoon the chilli alongside the toast and garnish with the coriander/cilantro.

Butter is added to the wheat, spelt and rye toast and the chilli is plated alongside

The Mexicana cheese should be arranged on top of the chilli immediately before service.

Mexicana cheese is arranged as a final garnish on the chilli

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Quick, Cheap and Easy Homemade Beef and Vegetable Pasty

Easy beef and vegetable pasty

Pasties are unquestionably every bit as versatile as pies, in terms of the different fillings you can incorporate. While Cornish pasties may be what most people automatically think of when they hear the word pasty, it is important to realise - if you are to truly get the greatest enjoyment from this delicious food creation - that a pasty is simply a filling of some type encased in folded pastry and baked in the oven. You can even make sweet pasties, as well as savoury. This really easy and cheap pasty idea is based on the Cornish pasty but the filling is minced beef rather than chopped steak and the vegetables are considerably more finely chopped for a smoother eating experience. Why not give this idea a go as a really inexpensive and simple to prepare dinner some night?
Principal ingredients for beef and vegetable pasty

Ingredients per Pasty

6oz minced or ground beef
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
1/2 medium parsnip, peeled and finely diced
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb premade puff pastry
Beaten egg for glazing
Butter for greasing baking tray

Finely diced vegetables for beef pasty


Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C.

Put the beef, vegetables and mustard in to a large bowl and season. Stir very well to combine. You can use a spoon here but you may find it easier to use your hand.

Pasty filling ingredients are mixed together in a bowl

Roll out the pastry on a dry, floured surface to a square of just over 13 inches. Use a 13" dinner plate to cut a circle in the pastry.

A large dinner plate is used as a template to cut the pastry for the pasty

It is virtually essential at this stage to use your hands to position and form the filling on the pastry. It should go on one half only, with a 1 inch border around the edge. Try to make the filling layer thickest towards the centre, slowly sloping down towards the edges.

Pasty filling is carefully shaped on rolled pastry

Glaze the border of the filled pastry half before folding the empty half carefully over the top and lightly pressing to seal.

Pasty is folded over
Crimp the pasty around the edges and lift it carefully on to a baking sheet or tray, lightly greased with butter.

Pasty is carefully crimped around the edges

Glaze the pasty well with more beaten egg and make a slit in the centre for steam to escape as it cooks. Put it on to the oven for thirty-five minutes until beautifully risen and golden in colour.

Prepared pasty is ready for the oven

When the pasty comes out of the oven, you should sit it aside to rest for ten to fifteen minutes.

Cooked and rested pasty is cut in half

Precisely how you serve the pasty is entirely up to you. It can be made to be a substantial meal for one person or form a meal for two with further accompaniments.

Below are just a couple of very simple serving accompaniments you may wish to consider...

Beef and vegetable pasty with baked beans

Beef and vegetable pasty with baked beans and tomato sauce

Monday, 23 July 2012

Classic French Onion Soup with Homemade Croutons (Easy Recipe)

French onion soup is topped with homemade croutons and garnished with chopped parsley

The idea of cooking a classic recipe is off-putting to many home cooks. For some reason, they expect it to be overly complicated and way beyond their modest culinary capabilities. Actually, in a great many instances, the opposite is true. Classic recipes from all over the world very often represent dishes which have been cooked for centuries, using ancient cooking techniques, from super fresh ingredients which have been locally sourced. French onion soup is one such recipe and this version is surely within the capabilities of just about anyone reading this article. This is quite a substantial soup and although it could be served as a starter or appetizer, it is equally perfect as a light dinner, served with fresh crusty bread.

Large white onions for French onion soup

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1lb white onions, peeled and sliced
2oz butter
1 tsp dried sage
2 to 3 tbsp French white wine
1 pint fresh beef stock
1 thick slice farmhouse bread
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

Chopped onions and sage are added to melted butter

Put the butter in a large pot and gently melt. Add the sliced onions and the sage. Stir well and cook on the lowest possible heat for fifteen minutes, stirring every few minutes. You just want to let the onions sweat down. You will see them slowly become transluscent.
Onions have gently been sweated off in the butter

After fifteen minutes, the onions should have reduced considerably. Increase the heat slightly and cook for a further fifteen minutes to caramelise the onions. You will need to watch them carefully at this stage, stirring frequently. Note also that the fresher your onions, the more beautiful brown colour you will achieve. This is simply due to the presence of a higher level of natural sugars.

Heat has been increased to caramelise onions

Add the white wine to the browned onions and simmer for two to three minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the stock, bring back to a simmer, stir well and cook for ten more minutes.

White wine and stock has been added to the browned onions

Cut the crusts off your slice of farmhouse bread and chop to one inch cubes. Bring the olive oil up to a high heat in a small frying pan. If you add the bread to cold oil, it will soak up the oil rather than immediately start to crisp and your croutons will be soggy.

Crust is cut off bread to make croutons

Add the croutons to the hot oil and season lightly with salt. Turn regularly for a few minutes to brown and crisp.

Bread cubes are added to very hot olive oil

Remove the croutons from the pan with a slotted spoon to a plate covered with kitchen paper. Allow them a couple of minutes to drain.

Croutons are drained on kitchen paper

Use a ladle to divide the French onion soup between two serving plates.

French onion soup is plated

Lay the croutons on top of the soup and garnish with the chopped parsley.


Croutons are laid on French onion soup

Monday, 16 July 2012

Curry Spiced Mackerel Fillet on Turmeric and Garlic Rice

Curry spiced mackerel fillet is pan fried and served on a bed of turmeric, garlic and coriander rice

I've been doing a lot more fishing this year than I have done in a great many years. Although my fortunes have been varied, at least I have had a few trips where the mackerel (if not always anything else) have been caught aplenty. I was on just one such trip yesterday, to St Catherines on Loch Fyne, from where I returned with a good bag of mackerel for the pot. As mackerel is like most types of fish in that it does not freeze well, I have been eating little but mackerel for the past couple of days, experimenting as I go with the huge number of potential mackerel recipes it is possible to come up with if you give it but a little thought. I hope you like this idea and give it a try if you have access to fresh mackerel.

Rice should always be washed before it is cooked

Ingredients per Person

3oz basmati rice
1 tsp ground turmeric
Sea salt
1 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
1 tsp medium curry powder
1 large mackerel side fillet, boned but not skinned
Vegetable oil for frying
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander leaf/cilantro (plus extra to garnish)
1 clove of garlic

Turmeric and salt are added to the uncooked rice


Begin by washing the rice in a sieve under running cold water. Add it to a pot with the turmeric and some salt. Pour enough boiling water in to the pot to comfortably cover the rice, bring back to a simmer and leave to cook for ten minutes.

Curry powder and salt are added to the flour for dusting the mackerel

Put the flour and curry powder on a large plate, season with salt and gently shake to combine. Put the oil in to a frying pan and bring up to a moderate to high heat.

Mackerel is patted in the curry powder and flour on its skin side only

Pat the mackerel on its skin side only in the curried flour before laying it skin side down in the hot pan. Season the flesh side with salt and a little more curry powder and leave it to fry for two or three minutes while you drain and finishing preparing the rice.

Pan frying the curry spiced mackerel fillet

Drain the rice at your sink through a sieve and return it to the empty pot. Add the chopped coriander, peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the pot. Stir carefully to combine before laying the rice as a bed for the mackerel in the bottom of your serving plate.

Coriander (cilantro) and garlic are added to the drained rice

Turmeric and garlic rice bed

When you can see the mackerel is cooked most of the way through, reduce the heat under the pan to as low as possible before turning the fillet on to its flesh side. Half a minute or so will allow it to complete cooking. It may then be lifted on to the rice bed with a spatula and garnished with the remaining coriander prior to service.

Curry spiced mackerel fillet is laid on bed of turmeric and garlic rice