Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Leeks: Riverford Rarebit




LEEKS are in season at the moment and my brother dropped by to give me half a dozen.  I was delighted and set about making a big saucepan of Leek, Potato and Bacon Soup. This is a real winter warmer - tasty, substantial and filling.
I still had some leeks left over so for a delicious lunch the next day I rustled up Riverford Rarebit, one of my favourite dishes, the recipe for which I found on the Riverford Organic Farms website. Take a look - there are lots of wonderful recipes there.
Riverford Rarebit
Ingredients
A little oil for frying, e.g. vegetable or sunflower
3 leeks, finely chopped
2 skinless chorizo sausages, diced (the skins will peel off if you dip the sausage in cold water)
4 slices of sourdough, workers white, or malted bloomer bread
Method
In a frying pan with a little oil (you won’t need much as the chorizo will provide some fat) sauté the finely chopped leeks and a couple of diced skinless chorizo.
Toast four slices of workers white, malted bloomer or, even better, sourdough and place on a baking tray. Cover with finely sliced strong, dry cheddar. Slicing seems to work better than grating.
Put in a hot oven or under a not too fierce grill until the cheese has melted.
Spread on the leek and chorizo combo and grill/bake for another five minutes.

If you are the proud owner of anything akin to a George Foreman Grill you can scoop some of the crumb out of a bap and replace with the mix. Give it five minutes with the lid down for a crunchy panini/toastie.




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Monday, 3 February 2020

Quick And Easy Flatbreads




This has got to be one of the quickest and easiest "bread" recipes there is! It has only two ingredients (plus a little oil) and, if you are organised and speedy, can be done in just 15 minutes or so (not including 20 minutes resting time). Add a teaspoon of garlic powder if I want a more "zingy" bread.

Flatbreads
 

 Makes 8

Ingredients
250g plain full fat Greek yogurt
250g self raising flour
Oil for rolling out

Method
1 Mix the Greek yogurt and flour together in a large bowl, then leave to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.
2 Divide the dough into 8 and roll into 8 balls.
3 Heat a small non-stick frying pan over a high heat and roll out your first flatbread to about the side of a side plate – use a little oil on the work surface to stop the dough sticking.
4 When the pan is really hot, lay the flatbread in the pan and cook for 20 seconds, or until the flatbread is covered in brown spots.
5 Flip the flatbread over and cook on the other side for a further 20 seconds, or until covered in brown spots and cooked through.
6 While one flatbread is cooking, roll out the next flatbread so it is ready.


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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Beef Stew And Dumplings




There can be few more heart-warming dishes than beef stew and dumplings on a chilly day. I often use this James Martin recipe which is a real crowd-pleaser. It's simple to cook and absolutely delicious.

Beef Stew And Dumplings

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the beef stew
2 tbsp olive oil
25g/1oz butter
750g/1lb 10oz beef stewing steak, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp plain flour
2 garlic cloves, crushed
175g/6oz baby onions, peeled
150g/5oz celery, cut into large chunks
150g/5oz carrots, cut into large chunks
2 leeks, roughly chopped
200g/7oz swede, cut into large chunks
150ml/5fl oz red wine
500ml/18fl oz beef stock
2 fresh bay leaves
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dumplings
125g/4½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
60g/2½oz suet
water, to make a dough

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

For the beef stew, heat the oil and butter in an ovenproof casserole and fry the beef until browned on all sides. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and all the vegetables and fry for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the wine, stock and herbs, saving a little parsley for later, then add the Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar, to taste. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for about two hours, or until the meat is tender.

For the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the suet and enough water to form a thick dough. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the dough into small balls.

After two hours, remove the lid from the stew and place the balls on top of the stew. Cover, return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the dumplings have swollen and are tender. (If you prefer your dumplings with a golden top, leave the lid off when returning to the oven.

To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley.


If you need a hob to oven casserole pan, this one is perfect. It even has a self-basting lid. Casserole Pan.

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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Autumn Salad With Butternut Squash and Beetroot



Salad's aren't just for summer. I made this delicious autumn salad for lunch the other day. It's from the Waitrose recipes website where I often get inspiration for what to cook.


Autumn Salad


Serves: 3

Ingredients

350g butternut squash, cut into 0.5cm slices
2 raw beetroot, peeled and cut into 0.5cm rounds
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground paprika
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
Pinch ground allspice
250g pack ready-cooked quinoa
3 tbsp (45g) toasted flaked almonds
Large handful wild rocket
1 essential British Apple

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C, gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment; arrange the squash on one side, with the beetroot on the other. Sprinkle each with ¼ tbsp oil and season, then scatter the paprika over the squash; roast for 25 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through.
2. Mix the remaining 1½ tbsp oil with the vinegar, maple syrup and allspice; season. Prepare the quinoa according to pack instructions, then place in a bowl and toss through ½ the dressing and 2 tbsp almonds. Toss through the rocket leaves, then spoon onto a large serving plate.
3. Arrange the roasted squash and the beetroot over the quinoa. Halve, core and finely slice the apple just before serving, then scatter over the salad. Spoon over the remaining dressing and scatter with the remaining almonds to finish. Serve immediately.
If you want a really unusual salad bowl in which to serve it, take a look at this!
 
It's a contemporary rustic wooden serving or display bowl carved from the roots of a giant teak tree, sold by Farm and Garden. Get it here: Rustic Bowl

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Friday, 20 September 2019

Vegetable Soup With Cheesy Croutons






Autumn is just around the corner and after a lovely summer there's now a decided nip in the air. Time to curl up with a big bowl of warming soup! Here's a lovely recipe from BBC Good Food made with autumn vegetables. The cheesy croutons are well worth the effort but this soup is delicious on its own if you are short of time.

Vegetable Soup With Cheesy Croutons

1 leek, chopped quite small
2 carrots, chopped quite small
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 potato, chopped quite small
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp sugar
410g can chickpea, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 x 400g cans chopped Italian tomato
425ml/¾ pint vegetable stock
For the toasts
8 slices of baguette, cut on the diagonal
1 garlic clove, cut in half
50g edam, finely grated

Put the vegetables into a large saucepan with the garlic, rosemary, stock and sugar. Season well, stir, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.

Preheat the grill to high. Whizz the tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth, then tip into the vegetables with the chickpeas and parsley. Gently heat through, stirring now and then.

For the toasts: rub both sides of the bread with the garlic. Grill on one side until golden, turn the bread over, cover with edam and grill until it’s bubbling. Serve at once with the piping hot soup.


If you want to make the creation of soup even easier, take a look at these soup-makers. Here's a 1-litre version, plenty for two or three people  and this one is a family size 1.6 litre. Happy soup-making!


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Friday, 9 August 2019

Ratatouille à la Nicoise



I'm not a vegetarian but I often eat a vegetarian meal. This recipe is one I come back to again and again. It's from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. Jane, to my mind, is unsurpassed when it comes to the cooking of vegetables. This is a lovely recipe but I don't always keep strictly to it. You can adapt according to the vegetables you have available. It can be eaten hot or cold.  

Ratatouille à la Nicoise 

Serves 8-10

Ingredients
500g aubergines
500g courgettes
500g
salt
500g tomatoes, skinned
2-3 sweet peppers 2-3
2-3 onions large, sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
pepper, sugar, vinegar to taste
¼ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
fresh basil or parsley leaves

Method
Slice the aubergines and courgettes. Put them in a colander, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and leave for an hour to drain. Pat them dry with kitchen paper. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Remove the stalks and seeds from the peppers and cut them into strips.

Cook the onion slowly, without browning it, in the olive oil with the garlic. As it softens, add the aubergines and peppers. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Put in the tomatoes and courgettes. Season with salt, pepper, and a little sugar and vinegar if the tomatoes lack flavour as they often do. Cook steadily without covering the pan until all wateriness has disappeared – about 50 minutes. Ten minutes before the end, add the coriander. The vegetables should retain a certain identity, so do not crush them to a puree, although they should be stirred vigorously from time to time. Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with basil or parsley.

Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book

 The Daily Mail described this book as, 'A reference bible...inspirational in the way that it opens up new possibilities for vegetables.'

It is the definitive guide to the selection, preparation and cooking of vegetables - from the common potato to the exotic Chinese artichoke. Jane gives tempting, stimulating ideas for side dishes, main courses and even the odd dessert. This marvellous book has become a classic work of reference for good cooks everywhere.

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Thursday, 11 July 2019

Scotch Eggs




With the summer holidays here, many of us will be packing up a picnic and heading for the beach or countryside. For a special touch, try making these absolutely delicious scotch eggs.

The scotch egg - created by Fortnum and Mason of Piccadilly in 1738 - is ideal picnic or salad  fare - or with chips and mushy peas if you're staying at home! Homemade scotch eggs are far superior to those rubbery items offered up by the supermarkets and they aren't difficult to make.

Here's a Delia Smith recipe.

Scotch Eggs

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 small egg, beaten
8 ounces top quality sausage meat
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 teaspoons snipped chives
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 pinch mace (optional)
seasoned flour, for dusting and coating
toasted breadcrumb
oil, for frying
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Hard-boil the eggs by covering them in cold water, bringing it to the boil, simmering gently for 9 minutes and cooling them under cold running water.

Next, mix the sausage meat with the spring onions and herbs and season well. Then shell the cooled eggs and coat each one with some seasoned flour.

Divide the sausage meat into four portions and pat each piece out on a floured surface to a shape of roughly 5 x 3 inches (13 x 7.5 cm). Now place an egg in the centre of each piece and carefully gather up the sausage meat to cover the egg completely. Seal the joins well, and smooth and pat into shape all over.

Next, coat them one by one, first in beaten egg and then thoroughly and evenly in the breadcrumbs.
Now heat 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) of oil in a deep frying pan up to a temperature of 350-375 degrees F (180-190 degrees C). (If you don't have a thermometer, you can easily test the temperature by frying a small cube of bread - if it turns golden brown within a minute, the oil is hot enough). Put the eggs into the oil and fry for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently until they have turned a nice brown colour. Drain on crumpled silicone paper (parchment), or paper towels.
Serve warm or cold.

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