Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thai chicken wraps

This is a quick and simple meal, something we made up, with no pretense at any cultural origins. In fact, it's a bit of a hodge-podge of influences :)

Breadcrumb (either fresh or Panko) some chicken pieces and fry until crisp and cooked through. We usually use boneless thighs rather than breast, because they have more flavor and moisture. If cooking whole, slice thinly once cooked.

Serve on flour tortillas with mayonnaise or sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and a good dash of Thai sweet chili sauce.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Chana Saag

A chick pea curry, one of our favorite side dishes.

Fry a chopped onion until golden. Add spices (curry paste, cumin, coriander) then a couple of chopped tomatoes and a drained can of chick peas. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for at least an hour. Stir occasionally - the tomatoes should provide enough liquid for the dish, but it can catch on the pan if you're not careful.

Once the tomatoes have mashed down, add a generous squirt of tomato ketchup for a bit of sweetness. Near the end, stir in a good handful of spinach leaves.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Shrimp salad

After enjoying this light and easy meal while we were away camping this summer, we had it again tonight. Just because ...  :)

Mix a good portion of cooked and peeled shrimp into a Marie Rose sauce (equal dollops of mayonnaise and tomato ketchup mixed together.

Serve with a generous mixed salad, and fries or buttered new potatoes.

For a fresher and lighter taste, serve the shrimp without the sauce on top of a mixed or Caesar salad.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lamb in redcurrant sauce

This used to be a regular favorite, until we found we could no longer find anywhere nearby that stocks jars of redcurrant sauce (the sauce, not the jelly). Oh well, trying this evening with red pepper sauce instead, and cherry sauce also works quite well.

Fry a sliced onion, then brown your lamb - chops, steaks, shanks, whatever takes your fancy. Add a measure of stock and a jar of sauce and simmer long and slow until the meat is tender.

Finish off by thickening the remaining sauce (it will probably have reduced during cooking) with a spoonful of corn starch.

Serve with potatoes and veggies of choice.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Orange chicken

This is another from a group of crockpot Chinese recipes, which we tried with great success.

The full recipe is here, but is very simple.

Blend 4 tablespoons of brown sugar, 3 of tomato ketchup, 6 oz of frozen orange juice concentrate, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt in the crockpot. Flour and fry chicken pieces and mix them into the sauce. Cook on low for about 6 hours. Serve with rice.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Chicken satay

A rich and tasty dish. Rich enough to be suited to small quantities, as a starter or side. Very easy though.

Fry a chopped onion, then chicken pieces until browned. Add a jar of satay sauce and simmer to let the flavors mingle. If you want extra richness, stir in a spoonful of peanut butter. If the sauce is smooth and you want a bit of crunch, crush a handful of roasted peanuts and add them in. Near the end, add some chopped red pepper.

Serve with rice or noodles.

Not for people with nut allergies!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tikka / tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala is reputed to be Britain's most popular dish, ousting such favorites as roast beef & Yorkshire pudding. I can't vouch for the authenticity of this particular recipe but the result is a rich and creamy dish well worth the effort.

The tikka part of the recipe is simple (and authentic). Blend together the following: a generous spoonful each of pulped ginger and pulped garlic, 1 or 2 teaspoons each of ground coriander, cumin, and chili powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt, 2 of lemon juice, and 1 of tomato puree. Add the meat - diced chicken or lamb - and leave to marinate for a few hours at least.

Place the mixture on a bed of sliced onion, drizzle with oil, and grill until cooked and browned.

This alone is great as a starter or side dish.

To "masala" the tikka, make up a separate sauce of fried onions, spices (a good spoon each of ground cumin, coriander, curry powder, turmeric, and a dash of curry paste). Cook the spices then stir in a cup of cream. Leave to stand (or on a very low heat) to let the flavors mingle.

When the meat and the sauce is ready, drain any excess liquid from the meat and decant into the sauce. Stir and heat through.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Pork & clams

This is an easy dish but needs a generous amount of time to prepare. It's something we enjoyed on a visit to a Portuguese restaurant many years ago, and did our best to reverse-engineer and recreate at home. Not sure how successful we were in recreating that restaurant dish, but nevertheless it's a tasy favorite for special occasions.

The recipe is over here ...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Banana bread

We had some bananas that had gone rather ripe for enjoyable eating. This recipe is a great way to use them up. The nuts give it crunch, while the sour cream makes it super moist.

See the link for full details, but here is a quick summary.

Melt 1/2 cup of butter, and mix in 1 cup of sugar then 2 eggs and a tsp of vanilla extract. Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt then stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Finally fold in 1/2 cup each of sour cream and chopped walnuts, and 2 mashed bananas. You should end up with a creamy batter. Pour into a baking tin and bake on 350F for about an hour.

Try to at least let it cool a bit before you scarf it all down.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Chicken jalfrezi

This is a recipe from the "food" website. Never tried it before, but it's definitely one to do again. It uses many of the same ingredients that I use in my regular curry, but in a different order. Most of the spices went in near the end which, I think, brought out a fresher flavor than usual. My only departure from the published recipe was to add some ground almonds at the end to thicken up the sauce.

Fry a chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add the chicken, a pinch of turmeric, and a teaspoon each of salt and chili powder. Fry until browned. Add a good quantity of chopped tomatoes - almost as much by weight as the chicken, and cook covered until the chicken is cooked through. Uncover and continue cooking to reduce the sauce. 5 to 10 minutes before serving, add a teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander, and 2 tablespoons each of grated ginger and chopped fresh coriander.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Paella

I won't pretend this is in any way authentic, but we like it :)

Fry a chopped onion - you need a pan that you can cover for this dish. When the onion is soft, add a teaspoon of turmeric, then some rice and a teaspoon of salt. Stir it around then add stock or water. As with my usual rice recipe you want about 1 1/2 times as much water by volume as rice.

Bring to the boil. Add some diced white fish (we use cod fillets) and a cup or two of shrimp. Cover the pan and turn the heat down very low to cook for about 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, fry either some diced chicken or sliced Hungarian sausage and set to one side. Fry a sliced red pepper, leaving it with some crunch. Stir these in just before serving.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mince'n'onions

Another filling British dish for the "meat & two veg" brigade :)

This is something we hadn't done for years, thinking the kids would likely turn their noses up at it, but it turned out to be a hit!

Fry a chopped onion until soft. Add ground beef or turkey and cook until browned. Make up a couple of cups of beef stock, laced with good squirts of tomato ketchup and HP sauce and stir into the meat. Leave to simmer until the liquid has reduced to a thick gravy.

Serve with mashed potatoes and assorted veg.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Balti

This recipe follows the general guidelines in my general curry recipe, which you can find here.

In this case, I use onion, garlic, and a generous spoonful of chopped ginger, then my usual range of spices (a small amount of curry paste, dried coriander, curry powder, turmeric, and a generous amount of cumin. Add the meat, either chicken or lamb, then a couple of chopped tomatoes.

The special ingredient is a portion of Balti paste. You can get Balti sauce in jars, but I find it worth looking for the more concentrated paste, which gives a much better flavor. Follow the directions on the jar for quantity.

Stir in the paste, then add a drained can of chick peas, and simmer for about an hour.

Towards the end of cooking, stir in a dash of cream.

Serve with rice and Naan.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Seafood oggies

This is a recipe we plagiarized from a pub near Bristol. An oggie is a kind of pasty, but our version uses puff pastry for a lighter finish than the traditional shortcrust pastry. We also cheat, and buy frozen blocks of pastry. A block of approx. 400g makes 4 individual parcels.

Make a thick Roux sauce (melt butter, stir in and cook flour, then whisk in milk until you reach the desired consistency). Add a spoonful of concentrated chicken stock for flavor. While the sauce is cooking, add what you want in the way of fish and seafood. We usually keep it simple, with some diced cod steaks and peeled shrimp, but you can add things like squid and scallops if you want. You should end up with a thick sauce loaded with fish & seafood.

Cut the pastry into blocks - about 4oz/100g per person - and roll out into rectangles. Brush milk onto the edges of each rectangle, spoon the seafood mix onto one half, and fold the other half over. Use a fork to seal the edges, and brush the top with milk.

Pop into the oven on a baking tray and cook at a medium/high heat until puffed and browned - about 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with veg or salad.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Spaghetti & meatballs

This is my wife's special meatball recipe ... listen very carefully, I will say this only once ...

Mix together a finely-chopped onion, ground beef or turkey, a teaspoon each of garlic salt, chili powder, Italian seasoning, steak seasoning, and a good tablespoon of cumin. Add an egg, and enough breadcrumbs to mix to a moist but workable consistency.

Form into balls and fry in a little olive oil. When the meatballs are browned, add some tomato pasta sauce and leave to simmer.

Meanwhile bring a pan of salted water up to the boil and cook the pasta. Drain, and serve with the meatballs.

This same mixture also makes amazing burgers, if we ever get a summer this year :(



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mongolian beef

Another crock pot recipe from this site.

Mix the following ingredients into a slow cooker: 1/2 cup each of brown sugar, water, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce, a finely sliced onion, some green onions chopped, and a few cloves of garlic and a small cube of root ginger finely chopped.

Coat some bite-sized slices of beef in cornstarch, and fry briefly to brown. Add to the pot. Cook on low for about 4 hours.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tagliatelle & tuna

A very quick & easy pasta dish, when you want something a little different.

Get your pasta cooking - fresh or dried tagliatelle in a large pan of salted water.

Meanwhile, make a Roux sauce (melt butter, add flour and fry a little, then slowly stir in milk, whisking to remove lumps). When you have a thick sauce, mix in a couple of cans of drained flaked tuna. You don't want the sauce too thin before mixing in the tuna because there will likely be some liquid with the fish. Once it's mixed in, thin down if necessary, and season with a pinch of garlic salt and black pepper.

Drain the pasta, serve with the sauce.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sausage & chips (or mash)

A simple and filling British staple.

Sausages - either fry or cook in the oven until browned.

Chips - these days we use a fryer that uses only a spoonful of oil. Chipped or diced potatoes come out dry and crispy.

Serve with veg, or baked beans, or salad.

Alternatively do mashed potatoes for that great comfort dish bangers'n'mash. If doing that, it's good to fry the sausages along with a sliced onion, then near the end add stock and gravy mixture to make an onion gravy.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Stir fried beansprouts

We often use this as an easy accompaniment to a stir fry.

Fry a sliced onion until it starts to turn golden. Throw in a handful of fresh beansprouts and a dash of soy sauce. Toss briefly until heated through and serve immediately.

If you want a bit of color, you can add some shredded carrot or other vegetables to the mix.

General Tso's Chicken

This recipe came from a collection of crock pot recipes, and I was impressed with how it turned out.

Mix the following into your crock pot: 1/2 cup each of sugar, soy sauce, and pineapple juice, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, a few cloves of minced garlic, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and dried ginger.

Season a generous spoonful of cornstarch with salt and pepper, and coat chopped up pieces of chicken. Fry the chicken over a medium/high heat until browned and add to the crock pot.

Cook on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. When done, the sauce should be thick. If not, thicken with a bit of cornstarch mixed with water.

When I cooked this, I had no dried ginger so I substituted a spoonful of pickled ginger finely chopped. I was also fairly generous with the cayenne. The result had quite a zing to it, OK for me but you may want to take it easy if you're not used to spicy food.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Chicken Teryaki pittas

Chop some chicken into small pieces and marinate in a Teryaki sauce. Fry until cooked through. Serve in pitta pockets with mayonnaise and filling of choice such as rice, shredded lettuce, and chopped tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Broccoli soup

Chop up a crown of broccoli into fine pieces. Cook until tender but not too soft - either in a pan of salted water, or a few minutes in the microwave.

Meanwhile, make up a Roux sauce (butter, flour, whisk in milk until fairly thin). You need a generous quantity when making soup. When the Roux is cooked, stir in a spoonful of concentrated chicken stock, then add in the cooked broccoli. Heat gently and stir occasionally to let the flavors infuse.

Serve, topped with fried bacon pieces, and garlic toast.

Quesadillas

Another entry from our Mexican stable. In whatever form, wraps make a good alternative to the "meat & two veg" routine.

Chop some chicken into bite-sized pieces and fry until cooked.

Place a flour tortilla in a heated frying pan (non stick) and sprinkle on a few spoonfuls of chicken. Load it up with whatever veggies you want to include: finely-diced tomatoes, olives, green onions, diced pepper ... finish off with a generous handful of grated cheese and top with a second tortilla.

Cook on a moderate heat for a few minutes, until the bottom is nicely toasted, then flip the whole lot over. This is where you find out if you gave the cheese enough time to melt and glue everything together :)

When both sides are browned, slide out onto a plate, cut into wedges, and serve with sour cream.

It doesn't look much, but it's surprisingly filling!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pulled pork

This is a dish we had never encountered until we moved from Britain to Canada, but it is certainly one of our slow cooker favorites. Very easy to prepare, very tasty results.

We follow the recipe here on Chowhound.

Basically, put a layer of sliced onions and garlic in the bottom of the crock pot, and add a cup of stock. Pat the pork dry and rub all over with a mix of spices: a tablespoon each of dark brown sugar, chili powder and salt, and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and cinnamon. The amount of spice looks scary when you prepare it, but you want the pork to have a good coating and it works out OK. Place into the crock pot and cook long and slow (8 to 10 hours on low).

When cooked, remove the pork and pull apart. Drain off (but keep) the liquid and return the onions and the pork to the pot. Mix in with a good dollop of barbecue sauce to taste, and enough of the saved liquid to make the dish moist. Serve on buns with salad or coleslaw.

This is a good dish for pot lucks. If you're taking it with you to a party and reheating it there, pour some of the stock into a jar or bottle and take it with you so you can adjust the moisture at the last minute.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spaghetti carbonara

A quick and easy dish, and also our traditional first dinner whenever we go camping.

Cook the spaghetti in a pan of salted water.

Meanwhile, cut up some bacon into fine pieces and fry in a little olive oil. When turning crisp, add some cream, bring to the boil, and add some grated or diced cheddar. Turn the heat low and allow the cheese to melt into the cream.

In a separate bowl whisk 2 or 3 eggs with some more cream.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pan. Stir in the eggs and cream. The egg will cook in the heat of the pan. Stir in the bacon/cream/cheese mixture and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fish & chips

A great British tradition. Home-cooked, you can make it as plain or as fancy as you like.

We buy packets of frozen battered fish that you can pop in the oven. Or you can make your own batter. A good alternative is to breadcrumb some cod pieces. Beat a couple of eggs in a shallow bowl, and prepare a bowl or plate each of plain flour, and breadcrumbs. dip the fish pieces in the egg first, then the flour to coat, then the egg again and finally the breadcrumbs. Fry until golden.

Serve with chips - again there's lots of ways to do this. Traditional in a deep pan of oil, or these days we use a shallow fryer that tosses the chips in nothing more than a couple of spoonfuls of oil.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Barbecued ribs

We like crock pot meals from time to time. Usually easy to prepare and you can come home from work to a cooked meal. This one is not a complete meal in itself but is very easy to prepare.

Marinate a rack of ribs in a mixture of Thai sweet chili sauce, honey, and tomato ketchup (in roughly equal measures). This can be done the night before. Place the ribs and the marinade into a slow cooker and cook on low through the day.

Serve with salad and carbs of choice.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sprouts with mushrooms and almonds

Everyone loves sprouts. Don't they? LOL. The vegetable everyone loves to hate, but I suspect part of that is rooted in being served sprouts badly cooked. Soggy? Ugh!

This simple twist won't guarantee perfectly cooked veg - the timing is still in your hands - but it's a great enhancement on the plain old boiled variety to accompany chicken or turkey.

Peel and prepare sprouts as normal. It's important to cut a cross fairly deep into the base to allow them to cook in the middle without the outside going mushy. Boil in salted water for about 5 minutes. A bit of crunch is fine, but overcooking is not good.

Meanwhile cut some button mushrooms into halves or quarters depending on size. You want pieces similar size to the sprouts and about the same quantity overall. Fry them in butter until starting to brown. Throw in a handful of flaked almonds. Drain and add the sprouts to the pan. Toss everything in the butter for a few more minutes, then serve.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Barbecued pork tenderloin

This is a favorite specialty of ours, especially when the outdoor barbecue weather comes around but honestly it's good any time of year.

Marinade your pork tenderloins in a mixture of maple syrup and mustard. For enough pork for the family we use approx. 1 cup of maple syrup to 1/2 cup of either Dijon or mild yellow mustard (the kind that goes on hot dogs, not the sharper British variety). Add a sliced red onion and a few cloves of sliced garlic to the marinade and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

Heat a heavy based grill pan, remove the pork from the marinade and sear it all round. Set the pork aside and add the marinade (including onions and garlic) to the pan. Cook for a few minutes then pour the marinade out. Put the pork back in the pan and pour the marinade over the top. Sorry about all the swapping around, but you want the pork underneath all that aromatic goodness.

Cover the pan and put it in the oven to bake on a moderate heat (380F) until the pork is cooked through and the liquid has reduced and caramelized. Should be about an hour to 90 minutes. Remove the pork and cut into slices to serve. If necessary, finish the caramelization off on top of the stove. Spoon the reduced marinade over the top of the pork when you serve it up.

Great with fries and a salad and a crisp white wine.

Ravioli

This meal is a real cheat, all from pre-made ingredients, for when we need a quick meal that needs no preparation. We buy packets of fresh-made filled pasta.

Boil the pasta until cooked. Drain. Add a jar of sauce and return to the heat for a few minutes to heat the sauce through. Serve with grated Parmesan.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Chicken chasseur

This is our simple take on a famous dish.

Fry a chopped onion until soft, then brown some chicken pieces - breasts or thighs either on or off the bone, whatever takes your fancy. Fry some mushrooms - either whole if they're small, or cut into quarters. Place everything into a casserole dish along with some diced carrots and a drained can of Romano or white kidney beans. Pour in some stock - or we use a sachet of mushroom gravy for added flavor. Cover and put in the oven for an hour or so. This is a dish you can prepare and leave to cook long and slow.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cauliflower cheese

A great side dish to go with a roast, when you're feeling in the mood for something a little more special than plain veggies.

Make a Roux sauce (small knob of butter melted in a saucepan, a spoonful of flour mixed in and cooked briefly, then milk whisked in to make a thick sauce) and melt in a few slices of cheese.

Meanwhile, briefly cook cauliflower florets - only a few minutes, you don't want them going soggy. Drain and tip into a casserole dish. Pour over the cheese sauce, then sprinkle a 50/50 mix of grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Either fresh breadcrumbs or something like Panko. Pop in the oven for 1/2 hour to brown and crisp the topping.

As an alternative to cauliflower, you can use broccoli or some similar variant. In this case we used broccoflower. 


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Carrot & ginger soup

Soups are great additions to the weekly menu and very simple to prepare.

Peel and chop enough carrots - one or two per person - and place in a pan of salted water. There should be enough water to easily cover the carrots, but don't overdo it - you'll see why later :)

Peel and finely chop a piece of ginger - about 1" cubed gives enough for flavor - and add to the pan.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the carrots are soft (about 1/2 hour). Set aside and leave to cool.

In a large saucepan, make a Roux sauce: Melt a generous knob of butter - an ounce or two, add flour to make a crumbly consistency and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking to remove lumps, until you have a thick sauce. Bring to the boil and cook gently for a few minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn't catch on the pan.

Pour the carrot & ginger plus the liquid (this is why you don't want the carrots swimming) into a blender and blend until fairly smooth. Mix into the Roux sauce. Add more milk if the soup needs thinning.

Serve topped with fried bacon pieces and heaps of fresh bread or toast.

Tacos

Another quick & simple light meal.

Fry some onion and ground beef or turkey until browned. Add a little water and stir in a packet of taco seasoning. Cook until the liquid has reduced.

Serve on either hard corn taco shells or flour tortillas, with your choice of sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomato, olives, grated cheese.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stir fried rice

A special twist on rice to accompany any Chinese style dishes.

Cook plain long-grained white rice as per normal instructions. If we're having rice with something else, we'll sometimes do extra and set aside for a stir-fry later on in the week.

Crack open and lightly beat three or four eggs. Pour the eggs into a large frying pan with a little oil. Stir gently, spreading the eggs thinly over the pan until they start to cook. Allow them to cook in a thin sheet, then scrape up into  bowl and set aside. This is basically scrambled eggs, but rather than scrambling them to a light and fluffy mass, you want to end up with thin layers.

Prepare whatever "extras" you want to add to the rice. If you're cooking anything, like finely-diced pork, do this now in the same pan. We usually go for a handful each of shrimp, peas, and sweetcorn which only needs defrosting rather than actual cooking.

Add the rice to the pan and heat through. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the toppings and stir in, breaking up the eggs into smallish pieces.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Beef stroganoff

Although many of the recipes here mention beef, many of them involve ground beef and in practice we often substitute turkey. In a typical week we eat far more poultry and fish and very little red meat. However, this is one tasty meal we do enjoy that is unashamedly red and carnivorous!

Fry a chopped onion in a large saucepan. Add sliced steak - a reasonably good cut to make it tender, or just simmer for longer if using a cheaper cut. Once the meat is browned, add a spoonful of beef stock, a generous sprinkle of paprika, a squirt of tomato ketchup, and a good dash of brandy. Mix well and simmer for about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the mix doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan. Near the end of the cooking time, stir in a dash of cream and continue cooking to thicken.

Separately, fry a sliced red pepper and some sliced mushrooms. You can add these in to the pan early on instead, but we like to do these separately and mix in at the last minute. They hold their individual crunch and flavor better that way.

Serve with rice and a nice Chianti  :)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fish cakes

There's a bit more preparation for this dish that makes it more suitable for when you have a bit of time and patience, but home-made fish cakes are delicious any time of year.

Quantities (as always) depend on how many people you want to feed, but I reckon on using two small tins of salmon (200g/8oz size) to feed four people. You then want enough potatoes to end up with somewhere between two and three times the amount of potato to salmon.

Boil the potatoes until mashable, and mash with an egg and a knob of butter. You want the mash to be fairly dry at this stage because it will get liquid from the fish, and you don't want it ending up sloppy.

Drain the salmon and remove any bones. Mash into the potatoes.

Where you go from here depends on taste. You can make the cakes plain (just potato and salmon) but we zing it up with the following: A bunch of spring onions (salad onions/green onions), a bunch of coriander (cilantro) and we used to include a couple of red chilis but nowadays found a tablespoon of pickled ginger instead adds a wonderful flavor. Chop everything very finely and mix in.

Form the mixture into patties, flour, and fry until the outside turns golden. This is where you don't want the mixture too moist or the cakes will collapse when you try to turn them in the pan!

Serve with salad and relish.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hot dogs

This is hardly a recipe, more like a simple menu idea when you want something light and easy.

We like to "gourmet" our hot dogs by frying Bratwurst sausages and putting them in fresh sub buns rather than standard wieners and hot dog buns. Slap on some fried onions, mustard, relish etc. and serve with coleslaw.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Couscous

A great alternative to rice or potatoes with many dishes and salads.

In butter, fry a small very finely-chopped onion and a handful of flaked almonds. Keep to one side.

Measure out the required amount of couscous and keep to one side - I usually use about 2oz per person.

Measure the same amount of water into a saucepan. I don't often bother with measurements, but the ratio of couscous to liquid is moderately important or it will either not cook properly or come out mushy. There is some leeway though. Whether you measure by volume or weight doesn't matter too much.

Add to the water a spoonful of chicken stock (dry or paste, or you can simply use liquid stock or broth instead of water), a spoonful of dark soy sauce, and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Bring the liquid to the boil, add the couscous, stir, cover, and remove from the heat.

Leave to stand for 5 to 10 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed and the mix not too dry. Add a knob of butter and stir in, breaking up any lumps. Put back on the heat, stirring in the onions and almonds.

Serve warm or cold.


Moroccan lamb

This lamb curry follows the general instructions for Whatever You Want Curry

The specifics for this variety are as follows:

Use lamb pieces for the meat. When adding spices, be especially generous with the cumin - a couple of table spoons. I find that lamb tends to tone down the spices so you can afford to be generous to avoid the dish ending up bland. Once the onions are soft, the spices are in and the lamb pieces are nicely browned, add a couple of large chopped tomatoes. These should provide plenty of liquid to cook the dish.

Cover and simmer on a very low heat for at least an hour.

Add a generous handful of green beans, and stir in a cup or so of cream. Continue cooking for another half an hour. Long and slow is the trick with this dish.

A few minutes before serving, thicken the sauce with ground almonds.

Serve with couscous.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Seafood pasta

Quick and simple.

Fry a small onion very finely chopped. Add some diced white fish and a chopped tomato. Add a generous quantity of cream and a dash of tomato ketchup. Bring to the boil and simmer to cook the fish and thicken the cream. Add some peeled shrimp.

Separately, fry some finely-cut slivers of bacon until crisp, and cook your pasta of choice (penne, fusilli, linguine, macaroni ...).

Serve the seafood sauce and bacon over the pasta.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Yorkshire pudding

A traditional British accompaniment to roast beef.

The trick with these treats is to have a very hot oven. This can cause logistical problems if you only have the one oven and it's already in use at a lower temperature for the rest of the meal. In this situation, timing is everything. You can get meat and potatoes pretty much cooked and then crank up the temperature. Put the puddings in and take the other things out to carve and keep warm and start serving. If you're a slow worker like me, the puddings should be risen and ready to serve last minute. If you have the luxury of separate ovens then it's a lot easier.

Put about a cup of plain flour in a mixing bowl, and add a teaspoon of salt. Break three eggs in and mix into the flour. It will be too thick at this stage to mix properly - don't panic! Slowly start mixing in a 50/50 mixture of milk and water, whisking out any lumps. Add enough liquid to make a thin batter.

Add a small knob of lard to each well in a cookie tray - depending on how many puddings you plan to make. This approach makes muffin-sized individual puds. Alternatively you can drop a spoonful of lard into a small baking dish and make one large pudding.

Put the tray into a hot oven (approx. 430F) until the lard is melted. Pour the batter into the dish. Put back in the oven and leave to rise, usually about 20 minutes.

If you need to open the oven door while cooking, do so very gently. Any influx of cold air will cause the puddings to collapse. If you have a glass-fronted door to monitor progress without opening the door, so much the better. When the puddings have risen and browned on top, take them out and serve immediately.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pork with apple and ginger

This is a dish we haven't done in a while. It used to be a regular before the kids came along, but not so much in recent years. Definitely something to do more often, because this evening it got scarfed down with relish!

Fry a finely-chopped onion. Add in a good measure of grated or finely-chopped ginger (anything up to 1" cubed, depending on how you like your ginger). Once the onion and ginger are softened, add a clove or two of chopped garlic and some pork loin chops. Turn them over until browned. Add a peeled and chopped apple, and enough apple juice to cover the ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer until the meat is tender. A few minutes before serving, thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch.

Serve with rice, fries, or mashed potatoes, and veg or salad.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Burritos

A quick meal, with a bit more oomph to it than sibling dishes like tacos and fajitas.

Fry a chopped onion, then some ground beef or turkey. Once the meat is cooked and thoroughly broken up, stir in a can of refried beans, a packet of burrito seasoning, and a dash of water. Cook until the mix is thickened.

Serve on flour tortillas with your choice of toppings - sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, grated cheese ...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chicken noodle soup

A very easy yet satisfying recipe.

Fry a finely-chopped onion until soft, then finely-diced chicken until browned. Add some finely-diced carrots and 2 or 3 sticks of chopped celery. Add chicken stock and salt and top up with water so the ingredients are well covered. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1/2 hour, so the veggies are cooked.

About 5 minutes before serving, throw in a couple of handfuls of Chinese style steam fried noodles (the ones that look like short pieces of curly spaghetti) and if necessary add more liquid so that everything is covered. The noodles will soak up some liquid so you need plenty.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cajun chicken salad

A tasty spicy treat, especially for summer (which this isn't) or to serve as a starter.

Sprinkle some chicken pieces with Cajun spice mix and fry in olive oil & butter until cooked.

Make up your salad of choice. It's good to include some sweet ingredients such as dried cranberries or diced apple to offset the spice, and some slices of red onion also go well. A cool creamy dressing such as Ranch or Caesar is a good choice.

As a main course, serve with either potatoes - e.g. baked or fries - or rice or couscous.

Tuna pasta bake

Cook some macaroni until just about ready to eat.

Briefly boil some finely chopped broccoli - just a couple of minutes.

Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan. Add some very finely chopped garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Add flour to make a dry paste and cook for another couple of minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking to remove lumps until you have a Roux sauce of pouring consistency. Drain a couple of cans of tuna and mix into the sauce.

Place the pasta and broccoli into a casserole dish. Pour the sauce over. Top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan. Bake in the oven until the topping is crunchy.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Stuffing

Either used to stuff chicken or turkey, or to accompany pork.

Rough quantities to stuff a small chicken. Scale up as needed.

1/2 small onion, very finely chopped.
1 cup breadcrumbs.
1/2 cup sausage meat.
Chopped herbs (e.g. sage, thyme, garlic) and salt & pepper to season.
1 egg.

Mix all the dry ingredients then mix in the egg to bind. If the mix is too dry to hold together, you can add in a dash of olive oil.

Tip: We save crusts or leftovers of bread, whiz them through a blender to make breadcrumbs, then store in a ziplok bag in the freezer to take out as needed.

Roast

Nothing quite beats a traditional Sunday roast. You need time for cooking, but it is a very easy meal to prepare.

Meat of choice - beef, lamb, pork, chicken, or on special occasions - turkey. The basic approach is the same. Place the meat in a roasting dish in about 1/2 inch of water. We use water rather than fat because it's healthier, preserves the flavor of the meat, and keeps it moist. Cover and cook in the oven for roughly 2 hours.

Timing depends on size. If cooking a turkey we use the "1/4 hour per pound plus 1/4 hour" rule of thumb as a rough guide, but nothing beats experience and occasional checks on the roast.

Potatoes: Boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. The outsides should be going soft but nowhere near ready to mash. Drain and place in a baking dish and drizzle a small amount of oil over the top. They should need no more than a spoonful per piece. Cook in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, until the outsides are crisp and golden.

When the meat is ready to carve, lift from the roasting dish. Keep the liquid for gravy. If your dish can go on the hob you can make gravy right there, otherwise decant into a saucepan. Mix a spoonful each of cornstarch and gravy browning (we use Bisto) with cold water to make a thin paste. Pour slowly into the stock whisking to ensure it doesn't go lumpy. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you need more liquid, drain some off from whatever veggies you're cooking alongside.

Vegetables: Whatever you want. For simple meals we boil carrots, beans, peas, corn. They should only cook for a few minutes - nothing ruins a roast more easily than soggy veg!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ratatouille

A great accompaniment to steak.

In a saucepan, fry a finely-chopped onion until soft. Add diced courgette, pepper, and tomatoes. Stir in a spoonful of Italian seasoning and tomato ketchup. Simmer gently for about 1/2 hour until the courgettes are cooked. Timing depends on whether you like them crisp or soft.

Steak & mushrooms

One of our occasional luxuries. This is hardly a recipe, more like a recommendation (for meat lovers, anyway)

Go for the best quality steak you can get hold of. If you can find a good supply it's worth it, because the results at home can easily rival or beat most restaurant experiences.

Sear the steak in a grill pan until done to your liking. I can't tell you how to do that, you know your own tastes :)  but if you've got a decent steak please don't commit the sacrilege of over-cooking it. It should be at least pink in the middle, if not red.

Meanwhile, fry up some mushrooms in a dash of butter, stir in some cream. Bring to the boil and simmer to thicken.

Serve the steak and pour the mushrooms and cream over the top. Serve with fries, saute potatoes, or rice, and salad or veg of choice.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cottage pie

One of our regular favorites:

Boil some potatoes until soft enough to mash. Mash them with a knob of butter, an egg, and add enough cream to produce a soft consistency.

Meanwhile, fry a chopped onion and ground meat - either beef, turkey, or lamb. Once the meat is cooked, add a can of baked beans, a couple of finely-diced carrots, and optionally a spoonful of beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, and either brown sauce or tomato ketchup for flavor and body.

Decant the meat sauce into a casserole dish, spread the mashed potatoes over the top, sprinkle with grated cheese and pop under the grill until the cheese is melted and browned.

Barbecued chicken wings

Nowadays this is a popular accompaniment to pizza, but also great with a salad or just as a snack.

We used to buy ready-coated chicken wings, but these days I buy raw chicken wings and make up my own sauce.

Sauce is equal quantities (about a tablespoon each) of honey, Hoi Sin sauce, and Thai chilli sauce. Mix and coat the chicken. Spread out on a baking tray and bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked.

Pizza

Another quick & easy meal to plan into the menu whenever we know we're going to be busy with other things. Also our son's absolute favorite. No need to ask what he wants when we plan the weekly menu - it's pizza!

Either ready made frozen (just follow the instructions) or home baked on store-bought pizza shells.

Just spread the tomato sauce over the base, add toppings of choice, finish off with grated mozarella and cheddar, and bake in the oven until the base is cooked.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spaghetti bolognese

A very quick and simple dish when you're in a hurry...

Fry a chopped onion, then ground beef (we often substitute turkey for beef in many recipes) until browned. Add a jar of tomato pasta sauce and simmer until the meat is cooked thoroughly.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add spaghetti. Cook until soft. If you have problems with the pasta sticking you can add a spoonful of olive oil to the water.

Drain the pasta and serve with the sauce, and grated Parmesan.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lamb hotpot

A good heartwarming dish for a chilly evening.

Fry a chopped onion. When it starts to soften, add some lamb pieces and fry until browned. Place the lamb and onions into a casserole dish, add some chopped carrots and optionally a drained can of white kidney beans or Romano beans. Add enough gravy to cover the mixture - I use a packet of mushroom gravy mix for flavor. Top with sliced potatoes, cover and bake for an hour or so, until the potatoes are cooked through. Sprinkle with grated cheese and continue cooking with the lid off until the cheese has browned.

With only about 20 minutes preparation time, this dish can also be done in a slow cooker, so you come home to a complete ready-made meal.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fajitas

This is a dish that's quick & easy to prepare and a favorite with the kids.

Fry up a chopped onion until soft. Add some finely-diced chicken and fry until browned. Add a jar of salsa, and a thinly-sliced pepper.

Spoon onto flour tortillas along with a spoonful of sour cream.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Pilau rice

A rice dish to accompany curry.

Heat a spoonful of oil in a saucepan. Fry a few whole black peppercorns, cloves, and some slices of onion until the onion is golden. Stir in a teaspoon of turmeric, followed by basmati rice. Cook for a few seconds, and then add salt and water. In my experience you want roughly one-and-a-half times as much water as rice.

Bring to the boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Leave for 1/2 hour, then it is ready to serve.

This assumes cooking on an electric hob. Leave the pan on the ring after turning off the heat and there will be enough residual heat to steam the rice. If cooking on gas, once it's up to the boil turn the gas down low for 15 minutes then switch off for the remaining time. Do not lift the lid while cooking to keep the steam in. Just trust that the rice will come out perfectly cooked every time.

Dhal

A tasty side dish to accompany curry, courtesy of Jamie Oliver.

Basic tarka dhal recipe

Curry

My wife and I are both curry fanatics. Here is a versatile curry recipe posted on my main blog a while ago. With variations in meat, spices, and liquids it yields a multitude of flavors.

Whatever you want curry
 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Salmon & rice

A really easy and tasty dish.

Place a layer of salmon fillets in a baking dish.
Mix equal measures of mayonnaise and tomato ketchup and spread over the salmon.
Bake at 380F for approx. 1/2 hour, until the salmon is cooked.

Serve with rice (or saute potatoes) and veg or salad.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Stir fry

Quick and easy, with flavor.

Fry up:
   Onions
   Meat of choice - usually chicken or prawns, maybe pork
   Finely-sliced veggies of choice - carrots, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, baby corn, pineapple
If using chicken or pork, make sure it's cooked through. If using prawns, leave them until last as they only take seconds.
Stir in a jar of sauce - sweet & sour, or ginger.

Serve with fried rice or noodles.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Chili

A warming, spicy dish!

Fry up a finely-chopped onion. Add in ground meat (traditionally beef, but we often use turkey instead) and fry until browned. Add a very generous (i.e. a tablespoon or so) heap of cumin, a spoon of chili powder, a dash of hot chili sauce and a generous squirt of tomato ketchup. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add a couple of chopped tomatoes and a drained can of red kidney beans. Leave to simmer for an hour or so.

Serve with rice, and bread or corn tortillas.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fish pie

No list of ingredients today, just directions. This is supposed to be a quick & easy reference, after all.

Make a roux sauce (melt butter, add flour to make a thick paste, cook for a few minutes over a low heat then slowly add milk whisking out any lumps to make a thick sauce). Optionally add a spoonful of chicken stock paste and a pinch of garlic powder to add flavor. Add in diced pieces of white fish, shrimp, and any other seafood you fancy (scallops, squid...) and stir them in to cook.

Boil and mash potatoes with an egg, a knob of butter, and cream or milk.

Pour the fish sauce into a baking dish and spoon the mashed potatoes over the top. The sauce needs to be thick enough to allow you to spread the mash over the top - too thin and dollops of potato will sink and float around like icebergs :)

If you want to get fancy, you can use a fork to make pretty patterns on the top.

Sprinkle grated cheese over the top and pop into the oven until the topping is nicely browned.

Serve with veg or salad, and lashings of chilled white wine.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lasagna

A family favourite!

Ingredients:

Meat sauce -
   Olive oil
   Onion, finely chopped
   Ground beef (or turkey)
   Pasta sauce

Cheese sauce -
   Butter
   Flour
   Milk
   Cheese

Lasagna sheets

Method:

Meat sauce: Fry the onions in a dash of oil until golden. Stir in the meat until browned, break up the pieces as fine as possible. Stir in the pasta sauce.

Cheese sauce: Melt the butter. Stir in the flour to make a thick paste and cook gently for a few minutes. Stir in the milk a bit at a time, whisking out any lumps. Add enough milk to thin down to a good coating consistency. Melt in the cheese.

In a baking dish, layer the sauces and pasta sheets. Start with 1/3 of the meat sauce on the bottom, then pasta, then 1/3 of the cheese sauce, pasta, meat sauce etc. Finish off with cheese sauce. Place in a moderate oven (350F) for about an hour or until the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbling.

I hear a glass of red wine calling ...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Thai curry

Something to tingle the tastebuds. All sorts of variations are possible depending on the mood and what's in the larder ...

Ingredients:

Onion - finely chopped
Meat of choice - usually chicken or prawns
Veggies of choice - thinly-sliced carrot, sliced pepper
Sauce of choice - yes, we cheat and buy a cooking sauce, usually a Red Thai sauce, maybe satay

Method:

Fry the onions
Fry the meat - unless it's prawns, in which case you want to keep these out until the last 5 minutes to avoid overcooking - and any "hard" veg such as carrots
Stir in the sauce and simmer
Add any "soft" veg that you just want to heat through

Serve with any kind of noodles or rice


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Beef & barley

A tasty and hearty soup for a winter's evening.

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 to 2lb steak - cubed
1 cup pearl barley
1 pint beef stock
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Generous squirt of tomato ketchup

Method:

Fry the onions in a large pan until soft.
Add the steak and fry until browned.
Add the stock and the barley, simmer for an hour or two.
Stir in the sauces.