Monday, 13 May 2013

Piri Piri Chicken Wings and Fries

Piri piri spiced roasted chicken wings with homemade fries

Classic comfort food dinners don't have to be bought in the form of TV dinners, microwaveable ready meals or ready to eat from a fast food outlet. There are so many ways in which these dishes can be prepared from scratch quickly and easily, offering a tastier and healthier alternative to their massed produced equivalents. This recipe for piri piri wings and homemade fries is a perfect example of the scenario.
Chicken wings are stirred in olive oil before piri piri spice is added

Ingredients (Serves Two)

2 large baking potatoes
8 large, whole chicken wings
2 tbsp olive oil
2oz pack piri piri spice rub
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish
Salt for the fries

Piri piri sauce is added to oiled chicken wings


Your oven needs to be preheated to 400F/200C.

Peel the potatoes and chop and slice in to fries. Submerge in a bowl of cold water for five minutes, while you prepare the wings. This helps to get rid of the excess starch.

Pour the olive oil in to a large bowl. Add the chicken wings and gently stir/fold them through the oil to ensure even coating. Scatter over the piri piri powder mix and stir again in a similar way to coat.

Oven ready piri piri spiced chicken wings

Put the wings in a single layer on a baking tray and in to the oven for half an hour.

Drain the fries well from the water and deep fry at 300F/150C for about four minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Cover.

Piri piri spiced chicken wings

Take the chicken wings from the oven and sit aside to rest for a few minutes.

Fry the fries a second time at 350F/170C for four to five minutes or until done to your liking. Drain again on kitchen paper.

Piri piri chicken wings are plated

Lay the wings on half of two deep serving plates and the fries on the other half. Season the fries and scatter the wings with the chopped parsley. Enjoy in front of the TV, without knives or forks, and save on the washing up.

Homemade fries are added to the serving plate with the piri piri wings

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Steak and Kidney Pasty, Chips and Beans

Homemade steak and kidney pasty with chips and baked beans in tomato sauce

Steak and kidney pie is one of my all time favourite dishes and has been since I was in my teens. It is of course a classic dish - though more specifically an English classic, rather than a British classic, with steak and sausage pie being infinitely more popular in Scotland. I don't like tampering too much with steak and kidney pie as improving on perfection is of course not easy but when I struck on the idea of a steak and kidney pasty, I had to give it a go and I absolutely loved it.

Note that the steak and kidney can be bought ready prepared from most supermarkets, in the UK at least. Alternatively, ask your butcher to prepare it for you .

Beef steak and kidney

Ingredients (Makes 4 pasties)

1lb stewing steak, cubed to 1"
½lb ox kidneys, cleaned and chopped to 1" pieces
Olive oil
½ small white onion, peeled and sliced
1 pint fresh beef stock
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and black pepper
1lb premade and rolled puff pastry
1 beaten egg

Homemade chips and 14oz can/tin baked beans in tomato sauce to serve

Sliced onion is added to browned steak and kidney


Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in to a large pot and gently heat. Add the steak and kidney and season with salt and pepper. Stir until sealed and evenly browned. Add the onion and stir for a further couple of minutes to soften the onion. Pour in the beef stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for one and a half hours, stirring occasionally and adding a little boiling water periodically, only if required.

Beef stock is added to steak, kidney and onions

When the steak is beautifully tender, turn off the heat, cover and leave to cool completely. If you want, you could at this point pour the mix in to a dish and refrigerate overnight, or for up to a couple of days. This means that you can do the lengthy prep for your pasties one night and make them for dinner the following night.

A plate is used as a template to cut the pastry disc for making the pasty

Use a 10" plate to cut four circles from your pre-rolled puff pastry. Take a quarter of your steak and kidney mix in each instance and add it to half the pastry disc, leaving a border of around an inch.

Cooled steak and kidney is spooned on to one half of the pastry disc

Moisten the border with beaten egg using a pastry brush, fold over the empty half of the pastry and crimp the edge.

Beaten egg is used to seal the edges of the steak and kidney pasty

Lightly oil a baking tray with olive oil and sit the pasties on it. Glaze with more beaten egg and make a slit in the top of each to serve as a steam vent.

Steak and kidney pasty is ready for the oven

Put the tray in to a preheated oven (400F/200C) for about half an hour until the pasties are beautifully golden.

Steak and kidney pasty is removed from the oven

Take the tray from the oven and allow the pasties to rest while you complete the preparation of your chips and gently heat the beans in a saucepan. HP Sauce is a strongly recommended accompaniment though it is of course entirely optional.

HP Sauce is the perfect condiment to add to steak and kidney pasty, chips and beans

Friday, 3 May 2013

Easy Roast Ham with Pineapple

Simple roast gammon joint with pineapple, roast potatoes and peas

A pre-packaged, supermarket gammon joint is not something I generally tend to buy. Unfortunately, these past few weeks, I have been travelling to various places for work and had so much on, I just haven't had the time to spend cooking for this blog that I normally have. This option therefore looked feasible and I was to be honest delighted with the results. The ultimate beauty is that the hands on cooking time is very short.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

20 small new potatoes
Sea salt
2lb boneless rolled gammon joint
Olive oil
Black pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 whole cloves of garlic
Frozen peas as required
8 rings of pineapple canned in own juice (not syrup)
Malt vinegar for seasoning peas

Supermarket gammon joint


The potatoes need to be boiled, drained and cooled before they can be roasted, so get them in to a big pot of cold, salted water and bring it to a simmer for half an hour. Drain, return the potatoes to the pot and cover.

Preparing gammon joint for roasting

The gammon joint actually came with the cooking instructions on the pack but they amount to twenty minutes per pound plus an extra twenty minutes.

Lightly oil a big sheet of tinfoil in the centre (I used olive oil) and make sure you have removed all types of packaging from the gammon before sitting it in place. Season with black pepper only. Put it in to the oven - preheated to 400F/200C - for the alloted cooking time. (You may want to uncover it for the final ten minutes' cooking time to let it colour up but this is optional).

Checking gammon joint for doneness

Ten minutes or so before the gammon is due to come out of the oven, carefully rub/peel the skins from the potatoes. This is a bit of a fiddly and annoying task but unfortunately, it needs to be done.

Roasted gammon joint ready for resting

Take the gammon from the oven and carefully open the foil package. Watch out for escaping steam which can burn! Pierce it with a skewer and you should feel only minimal resistance where it is fully cooked. The juices should also run clear. Lift it to a large, warmed plate with a carving fork and cover with fresh foil to rest.

Garlic and rosemary for roasting potatoes

Carefully pour the gammon cooking juices in to the roasting tray. Add the peeled potatoes. Break the rosemary sprigs in to a few pieces and scatter them over the potatoes. Lightly crush the garlic cloves but there's no need to peel them before they are added to the tray. Gently stir everything around with a wooden spoon.

Potatoes, rosemary and garlic ready for roasting

Turn the oven up to 450F/220C and cook the potatoes for twenty minutes or until crisp and golden.

Carving the roasted gammon joint

During the last five minutes of the potato roasting time, pour the peas in to a big pot of boiling water. SImmer for three minutes before draining through a colander. Season with malt vinegar and black pepper.

Lay the gammon joint on a chopping board and carefully slice/carve.

Plate the gammon slices and peas. Take the tray of potatoes from the oven and plate with a slotted spoon.

Finally, garnish each plate with two pineapple rings.

Roast gammon with roast potatoes and peas