Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Spicy Sausage and Tomato Pitta Pockets

Chopped sausage in a spicy tomato paste is served in a pitta bread pocket

Pitta bread pockets are a fabulously adaptable concept. There really is no limit to what we can fill them with, just like any form of what, loosely speaking, is a sandwich. This was an idea I came up with last night and although I only prepared one to start with, I immediately prepared a second as soon as I'd finished. I hope you like the idea and will give it a try.

Starting to gently fry sausages

Ingredients Per Serving

2 good quality pork sausages
Vegetable oil or similar for frying
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon medium curry powder
1 teaspoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, plus a little extra to garnish
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 button mushrooms, halved
1 pitta bread

Combining ingredients for spicy tomato paste


The sausages should be fried over as gentle a heat as possible until done. This will take up to twenty minutes. Do not prick the sausages, as this simply allows the juices and flavours to escape to the pan. Decent quality sausages cooked slowly over a very low heat will not burst.

Spicy tomato paste

As soon as the sausages are in the frying pan, combine the tomato ketchup, curry powder and coriander in a bowl. You can vary this sauce any way you wish, particularly in the spice(s) which you use.

Onion and button mushrooms added to frying sausages

When the sausages are almost ready, add the mushrooms and onion to the pan to fry for the last two to three minutes.

Cooked sausages are roughly chopped

Lift the sausages from the pan with cooking tongs to a plate. Chop in to small bite sized pieces.

Sausage, tomato and mushroom added to spicy tomato sauce

Add the sausage pieces to the sauce, along with the mushrooms and onions. Stir carefully but well.

Pitta bread is cut open to form a pocket

Heat the pitta bread per the instructions on the pack and cut it open along one long side with a very sharp knife to form a pocket.

Spoon the spicy sausage mix in to the pitta pocket and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Spicy sausage mix is spooned in to pitta pocket

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Griddled Tuna Steak on Roasted Veg

Griddled tuna steak on roasted mixed Mediterranean vegetables

Mediterranean style food has long since become my favourite type of food in all the world. The fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic, pasta, seafood and much more is not only largely incredibly healthy, it is also absolutely delicious. This summer themed dish affords the taste of the Mediterranean but is perfectly suited to cooking at home, virtually wherever you have access to the ingredients, both easily and quickly.

Ready to roast pack of mixed vegetables

Ingredients (Serves One)

12 ounce pack mixed Mediterranean style roasting vegetables
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounce tuna loin steak
Rapeseed or sunflower oil for oiling steak (never use olive oil for this purpose)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, plus extra to garnish
1 large garlic clove

Vegetables are carefully stirred half way through cooking


The vegetables take about half an hour to roast in a very hot oven, so start by getting your oven on to preheat to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8. While the oven is heating, drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and stir carefully but well with a wooden spoon. Put the vegetables in to the hot oven for half an hour, removing briefly to stir half way through cooking.

Fresh coriander and garlic

When the vegetables are just about ready, get your griddle pan on to reach a smoking hot heat. Be aware that this can take up to about four or five minutes.

Chop the coriander and peel the garlic clove.

Fresh tuna loin steak

Lightly oil the tuna steak on both sides with the rapeseed or sunflower oil and season with salt and pepper.

Coriander and garlic are added to roasted vegetables

Take the vegetables from the oven. Scatter with the coriander and grate the peeled garlic clove over the top with a small hand grater. Stir carefully again with a wooden spoon.

Starting to griddle tuna steak

Lay the tuna steak carefully in to the hot griddle pan. Note that this three-quarter inch thick steak takes only one minute per side to cook, no longer . Tuna should always be served that little bit pink in the middle or it will be incredibly dry and possibly even tough.

Roasted vegetables are spooned in to serving dish

Spoon the vegetables in to an appropriate serving dish where they can serve as a bed for the tuna.

Tuna loin steak is turned to fry on second side

Turn the tuna with cooking tongs after a carefully timed one minute. After a second minute cooking, lift on to the vegetable bed.

Griddled tuna is laid on roasted vegetables

Scatter the tuna with the remaining coriander to garnish.

Perfectly cooked tuna is still nicely pink in the middle

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Chicken Chilli with Herb Rice

Chicken breast chilli is served on a bed of herb rice

Chilli or chili is of course a dish normally made with beef. There is nothing to stop us, however, making chilli with a wide variety of different types of meat and I have experimented in the past with meats ranging from lamb, to turkey, to ostrich. Strangely enough, however, I realised recently that I don't think I have ever before made chilli with probably the most popular meat eaten on the planet, chicken. I decided to put that right. This version is very mild but you can easily spice it up by using a stronger chilli or even by adding some chilli powder.

Peppers and garlic for chicken chilli

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 large skinless chicken breast fillet, roughly chopped
1 medium strength red chilli, seeded and finely diced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely diced
Small pack or generous handful mixed sliced bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons rapeseed, vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and pepper
14 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
8 ounce canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
5 ounces basmati or long grain rice
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, plus a little extra to garnish

Chilli pepper, garlic and cumin are gently sauteed in rapeseed oil


Pour the oil in to a lagre pot or saucepan and very gently heat. Add the chilli, garlic and cumin seeds and very gently sautee, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about a minute.

Diced chicken breast is added to pot to be sealed

Add the chicken pieces to the pot and keep stirring for about a further minute or so until the chicken pieces are evenly sealed and opaque.

Bell pepper slices are stirred in to sealed chicken

Stir the bell pepper slices in to the chicken.

Canned tomatoes are added to chicken and peppers

Pour the tomatoes in to the pot, stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for fifteen minutes.

Red kidney beans are added to chicken chilli

After fifteen minutes, wash the rice through a sieve under running cold water before adding it to a pot of boiling, salted water. Simmer for ten minutes. Add the red kidney beans to the chicken chilli, stir well and bring back to a simmer - uncovered this time - for ten more minutes, stirring frequently.

Chopped coriander/cilantro is added to chicken chilli

Add one tablespoon of the coriander to the chicken chilli and stir well. Taste and season as required with salt and pepper.

Chopped coriander is added to drained rice

Drain the rice and let it steam off for a couple of minutes. Return to the pot and stir through the second tablespoon of coriander.

Herb rice bed for chicken chilli

Divide the rice between two deep serving plates and flatten as beds for the chicken chilli. Spoon the chilli on to the rice beds and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Chicken chilli is spooned on to herb rice bed

Friday, 26 June 2015

Sausages, Snails and Sauerkraut

A Franco-German Feast for the Women's World Cup Match

German bratwurst sausages and sauerkraut with French garlic snails and bread

I know this dish looks and particularly sounds a little bit unusual at best but the different flavours actually worked very well together. I came up with the idea when I spotted the garlic butter snails in a local supermarket yesterday and created the dish as a prelude to the Germany v France match tonight in the Women's World Cup. If you prefer, you could split this dish to make the snails and bread your starter/appetizer before enjoying the bratwurst and sauerkraut afterwards as your main course.

Garlic snails ready for reheating

Ingredients per Person

6 to 8 garlic butter snails
3 bratwurst sausages
A little vegetable oil for frying
2 tablespoon sauerkraut or as desired
3 slices from French bread stick

Bratwurst sausages


The snails were frozen and the pack instructions were to cook them straight from the freezer. They required 10 minutes in the oven, preheated to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Gently reheating bratwurst sausages

These bratwurst were precooked but the pack contained no reheating instructions. What I did was add them to a pan with a little bit of vegetable oil and heated them on the lowest possible heat for the full ten minutes the snails were in the oven, turning them frequently with cooking tongs. This procedure worked very well.
Large jar of sauerkraut

The sauerkraut I used came in a large glass jar but you can buy any type you wish.

Slices cut from French bread stick

I was glad I only plated three thin slices of French bread as the bratwurst were surprisingly filling.

Sauerkraut and French stick slices

While the bratwurst are frying and the snails are in the oven, arrange the sauerkraut and bread on a serving plate.

Lobster pick, knife and fork

I served this meal not only with a knife and fork but also with a lobster pick, which is excellent for plucking the snails from their shells. Alternatively, you can very effectively use a cocktail stick or toothpick.

Snails are carefully plated open sides uppermost

Plate the snails alongside the bread and the bratwurst on top of the sauerkraut.

Enjoying sausages, snails and sauerkraut

Friday, 19 June 2015

Griddled Wild Boar Steak Biryani para Sue

Succulent and Spicy Wild Boar Steaks on Vegetable Biryani Bed

Biryani spiced wil boar steak served on bed of vegetable biryani

Biryani is comprised of rice and spices, as well as a wide variety of potential meat and vegetable enhancements. In UK Indian restaurants and takeaways, popular biryani types include chicken, lamb, prawn, as well as various vegetarian options. It will perhaps most often be prepared by frying precooked and cooled rice with the meat/vegetables and spices. As always, I hope the purists will forgive me as - being me - I have in this recipe taken a few liberties with established preparation techniques...

There is a second and much more important circumstance which led to me coming up with this particular recipe today of all days - and the clue is in the latter part of the title. A couple of weeks back, I was talking online to a friend in Spain and she happened to mention that she had a birthday coming up. I decided therefore that as an unusual form of gift, it would be fun to create a dish incorporating some of her favourite ingredients to mark the occasion. I'm delighted to say that she gave me a very wide and generous remit, requesting something spicy (but not too spicy!) with perhaps a Chinese, Indian or Thai influence.

Well, I thought about it a bit and remembered the two wild boar steaks I had in the freezer. I believe wild boar is fairly popular in Spain so this may be described as a biryani with a little bit of a Spanish twist. (I did of course defrost these steaks in the bottom of the fridge overnight) So, Happy Birthday Sue for today, Friday 19th! I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating and enjoy reading about what I've created in this post to help mark the occasion. Maybe you'll even try making it some time!

Note that although I have used wild boar leg steaks here, you could easily substitute more conventional pork leg steaks. Do be sure though to use leg meat and not the likes of shoulder because it would not work cooked in this fashion. Alternatively, you could use chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, or the meat of your choice, remembering of course to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Wild boar leg steaks

Ingredients (Serves Two)

2 wild boar leg steaks (about 6 ounces each in weight)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon medium strength chilli powder
2 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus extra for oiling steaks
5 ounces basmati or long grain rice
1/2 small white onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely diced
1/2 small head of cauliflower, broken in to florets
1 to 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 pint fresh chicken stock (British pint, 20 fluid ounces = 1 and 1/4 US pints - it's important to get this right)
Salt and pepper
1 small tomato, cut in to six wedges
3 moderately thick cucumber slices (1/2 inch or so), cut in half in to crescents
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander leaf/cilantro, plus extra to garnish

Biryani spices


The first step is to combine your spice mix ingredients. Half the spice mix is going to be used as a dry marinade for the wild boar steaks and the other half will be used later as an ingredient in the vegetable/rice part of the dish. Simply measure the four spice ingredients out in to a small bowl and stir well to fully combine.

Wild boar steaks left to dry marinade in biryani spices

Lay the wild boar steaks on a large dinner plate and use half the spice mix to scatter over them on both sides. Use your hands to very gently rub the spice in to the meat. Cover and leave to marinate for one hour. Do not put them in the fridge as the steaks need to be cooked from room temperature.

Rice is carefully washed through fine sieve

When the steaks have been marinating for approaching an hour, pour the measured out rice in to a fine sieve and wash thoroughly under running cold water. Set aside on your draining board to drain off until required.

Half onion and large garlic clove

Prepare the onion and garlic and gently bring a couple of tablespoons of sunflower (or vegetable) oil up to a moderate heat in a large pot.

Starting to sautee spices, onion and garlic

Add the spices, onion and garlic to the warmed oil and sautee for a minute or so, stirring with a wooden spoon, just until the onion is softened. Be careful here as you don't want to burn the spices. This would cause them to turn bitter.

Cauliflower florets and cinnamon stick

Try to break/cut the cauliflower florets in to fairly even sizes of around maybe an inch across. This not only makes for even cooking but easier eating.

Cauliflower and rice added to onion and spices

Add the rice and the cauliflower to the onion and spice mix. Stir carefully but well with a wooden spoon.

Stock and cinnamon stick is added to vegetable biryani pot

Pour the chicken stock in to the pot and add the cinnamon stick. Turn up the heat just until the liquid begins to simmer.

Start your griddle pan heating on maximum heat as it will take a few minutes to reach the smoking hot heat you need.

When the chicken stock starts to simmer, reduce the heat to maintain a moderate simmer (uncovered) for ten to twelve minutes until the liquid is almost but not quite completely absorbed, stirring occasionally. Do not overcook or you will not only find it sticking to the pot, the rice will become mushy.

Marinated wild boar steaks are oiled for griddling

When the griddle pan is smoking hot, carefully oil the marinated steaks and lay them in the pan with cooking tongs. Be careful of sputtering.

Starting to griddle wild boar steaks

The steaks will take around five minutes each side to cook, depending of course upon thickness. They should be turned only once.

Wild boar steaks are turned in griddle

While the steaks are griddling, prepare your tomato, cucumber and coriander leaf/cilantro.

Tomato, cucumber and corainder

Ideally, the steaks should be ready just before the liquid has all but disappeared in your rice dish. Lift them to a plate, cover with tinfoil and give them five minutes' resting time. This is essential as the meat has to relax to become moist and tender after its time on the hot griddle.

Griddled wild boar steaks are rested

Add the tomato, cucumber and coriander to the rice pot. Stir fold carefully with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat.

Tomato, cucumber and coriander is added to vegetable biryani

Taste and season the rice as required with salt and pepper.

Vegetable biryani is ready to serve

Divide the rice between two serving plates to serve as a bed for the wild boar.

Vegetable biryani is plated

Slice each wild boar steak on a chopping board across the grain in to four or five pieces and lay on the rice beds. Scatter with the extra coriander as a serving garnish.

Sliced wild boar steak is laid on vegetable biryani