Sunday Night Supper

DSCF2904

I have been thinking about food all day today and pairing off different ingredients in my head. This quickly thrown together supper is the result of my musings! The recipe takes three simple ingredients and jazzes them up with the kick of the harissa paste and the punch of the lemon juice. It is filling, tasty, and easy to knock together. I hope you enjoy it!

Harissa chicken, pinto bean and grilled courgette wraps (serves 2)

4 flour tortilla wraps

2 chicken breasts

400g pinto beans

1 medium sized courgette

1 onion

1 tbsp harissa paste

2 tsp vegetable oil

½ tsp olive oil

½ tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp fresh coriander (if you like it!)

Mayonnaise

Salt

Pepper

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and chop the chicken into small pieces (about 1cm cubes). Add the chicken to the pan and stir in the harissa paste, coating the chicken evenly. Chop the onion and add this to the chicken.
  2. Whilst the chicken is cooking, thinly slice the courgette lengthways and coat with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan and spread the courgette out over it. Turn the courgette regularly and cook until tender and grill marked.
  3. When the chicken is just cooked through, add the pinto beans to the pan and cook gently for a further 3 minutes. At the last minute, add a tablespoon of fresh coriander if desired.
  4. Lay out the tortilla wraps and spread a blob of mayonnaise on each. Next, share out the courgette between them and then the chicken and pinto bean mixture.

DSCF2894

DSCF2905

Serve with a side salad or potato wedges for a heartier supper!

A Dish of Duck

Duck is something I love to order in restaurants but rarely cook at home. When I do I tend to make duck pancakes with hoisin sauce. It is delicious but in all honesty, that’s all I have ever done. So, this evening I thought I would try something a little different. By mixing a few spices and adding a dash of fruity flavour, I ended up with a nice and tasty dish.

Seasoned Duck with Pomegranate and Beetroot Salad (serves 2)

2 duck legs

1 bag of mixed lettuce leaves (or equivalent)

1 pomegranate

2 cooked beetroot (pickled or not)

8 cherry tomatoes

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

½ tsp five spice

½ tsp cinnamon

Salt

Pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ᵒ/Gas mark 4. Prick the duck legs all over with a fork.
  2. In an oven proof dish, mix the vinegar, cinnamon, five spice powder, a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of pepper. Add the duck legs to the dish and rub all over with the sauce mixture. Once heated, put the dish of duck into the oven and set the timer for an hour and a half.
  3. After each half hour that passes, turn the duck and spoon the liquid back over the legs.
  4. When there is just 30 minutes to go on the cooking time prepare the salad. Divide the lettuce between two plates. Add the chopped beetroot and cherry tomatoes. Scoop the seeds out of the pomegranate and scatter these on top of each salad.
  5. Once the duck is cooked, place a leg on each of the plates of salad and serve. Drizzle over some olive oil or a salad dressing of your choice if preferred.

Try a little bulgar wheat…

This recipe started off as a ‘chuck it all in’ dinner that tasted good enough for me to write down what I had done and refine it for next time. It is great as a healthy lunch or supper just as it is, or as a side to something else tasty. I recently used the mixture to stuff peppers and grilled them on the bbq…

Feta and olive bulgar wheat salad (serves 1 or 2 as a side)

70g bulgar wheat

½ small onion

50g courgette

1 clove of garlic

½ tsp cumin

¾ tsp ground coriander

Sprinkle of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tomato (chopped)

8 green olives (pitted)

30g feta cheese (cubed)

Salt

  1. Bring a saucepan of hot water to the boil and add the bulgar wheat. Cook for 12-15 minutes on a gentle boil.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and fry the onion and courgette in a little oil. Once softened, add the garlic, tomato, ground coriander, cumin and tomato puree. Add as much cayenne pepper as you like, depending on how hot you like your food. I use a sprinkle to give the dish a gentle kick. Give the ingredients a good stir and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Once the bulgar wheat has been cooking for enough time. Turn off the hob and cover the saucepan for 10 minutes. After this time, drain the wheat and add it to the pan of vegetables which should still be on a low heat.
  4. Stir all the ingredients together and add in the olives and the feta.

This dish can be served hot or cold so serve when ready.

A super quick supper

Sometimes I get home in the evening and want something quick for dinner, but I don’t want to compromise on the standard of my food. Since having lived in Italy for a year, gnocchi has become one of my favourite hassle free meals and I love trying it with all sorts of different ingredients.

I often have a poached egg with gnocchi but this week I introduced artichokes. They gave the dish a real punch and I definitely recommend giving this recipe a try. It is so quick and effortless and you end up with something really quite nice.

Gnocchi with egg and artichokes (serves 2)

750g gnocchi

2 eggs

Artichoke hearts (in oil)

A handful of torn basil leaves

50g parmesan cheese (grated)

Olive oil

Pepper

Salt

  1. Bring two pans of water to the boil. In the first, poach the two eggs by whichever method you prefer.
  2. Add a pinch of salt to the second pan and cook the gnocchi for a few minutes until they rise to the surface. They can then be removed and drained.
  3. Return the empty gnocchi pan to the heat and add a generous helping of olive oil. Then add the drained gnocchi once again and shake the pan until all the gnocchi is coated in the oil. Don’t be afraid to add more oil if necessary.
  4. Season the gnocchi with salt and pepper and add the parmesan cheese and basil.
  5. Add as many pieces of artichoke as you fancy, straight from the jar. Artichokes have quite a strong flavour so don’t go overboard!
  6. Dish the gnocchi out in to bowls and top each portion with a poached egg.

Enjoy!

With Easter just around the corner…

Hot cross buns are one of those things that I have always fancied making but have never got round to… until now. Last month, I bought a Waitrose magazine and was unable to resist giving the sticky, sweet buns a try (well done Mr. photographer, you managed to make them look irresistable). So, how did they go? Well, they were pretty great! Making your own hot cross buns does require a bit of time but I was so excited with the result I will be making them again and again.

Hot Cross Buns

(Recipe by Edd Kimber)

450g strong white bread flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

50g caster sugar

7g sachet dried yeast

250ml whole milk

30g unsalted butter

1 orange zest

120g raisins

1 large egg

Olive oil

50g plain flour

2 tbsp golden syrup

  1. Mix the bread flour, salt, spices, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Then melt the butter in a pan with the milk over a low heat and add the orange zest and raisins. Leave this to cool for a couple of minutes before mixing in the beaten egg.
  2. Make a small well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Stir until it comes together in a dough.
  3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for at least 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Then put the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with clingfilm. Leave the dough to rise for about an hour in a warm place.
  4. Once risen, place the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten by knocking out some of the air. Now divide the dough into however many balls you want: the recipe recommends 9 but this produces quite large buns so I would opt for 10-12.
  5. Place the buns on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and make sure they are about about 2cm apart before covering them with greased clingfilm and leaving them to rise again for about 40 minutes. During this time you should preheat your oven to 200ᵒC/gas mark 6 for however long it normally takes.
  6. After the second proof, uncover the buns (they should have now doubled in size- woohoo!) and mix the flour with 5tbsp water to make a thick paste. Use this paste to make the crosses for your buns by spooning it into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle (I just use a plastic bag with the corner cut off) and pipe them on.
  7. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until golden in colour. When they have cooled slightly, melt the golden syrup in a pan and then brush it over the buns to give them a sweet, sticky shine.

These hot cross buns are delicious so why not make them for Easter day breakfast? They are best served warm with butter. Mmmmm….

Good Pub Grub

It was my birthday this week and what better way to mark it than to share food with family and friends? Although I realise that not everyone gets quite as excited by eating as I do, finding a good restaurant in which to relax, eat and drink will certainly put everyone in a celebratory mood! This week I dined out twice, in two different parts of the country, so here’s what I thought…

Sunday 4th March- The Egypt Mill, Nailsworth

The Egypt Mill is a picturesque little hotel that sits on the edge of the River Frome in Gloucestershire. Its quirky decor compliments its history as an old corn mill and there are even two working water wheels to be seen.

To start, my family and I ordered the Mixed Platter to Share which comprised of a typical Mediterranean selection of olives, cured meats, various breads and baby sweet poponcini peppers. It was lovely and certainly got our taste buds ready for what was to come. For our main course, four out of six of us were tempted by the Piri Piri-Style Red Mullet with Chorizo Potatoes and Paprika Green Beans. This was just simply delicious! The mullet was full of tangy flavours that were superbly matched by a side of crushed potatoes and oily chorizo.  The beans in truth did not taste particularly of paprika but it worked really well altogether and the presentation was beautiful. The portions were not particularly big, which sometimes I can struggle to accept, but after tasting the fish, I couldn’t really complain.

We were all successfully enticed by the sweet menu for which the highlight seemed to be a generous helping of sticky toffee pudding and the selection of taster desserts which included a small portion of a dessert and a coffee. These were enjoyed by all and we went away feeling happy and well fed.

I would definitely recommend the restaurant. It provided us with a lovely environment to catch up and enjoy a birthday meal together.

Monday 5th March- The Broad Face, Abingdon

On Monday evening, I ate out again with some friends at The Broad Face in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. When we arrived it just happened to be Steak Night so you guessed it, we went for it!

Our steaks came from the Black Rock Grill menu meaning that they were served on a black rock, heated to 440ᵒc and sizzling. As they arrived in a flurry of smoke, my senses took over, my eyes widened and my mouth was watering. The meat did not disappoint. It was absolutely, mouth-wateringly succulent and I enjoyed every mouthful. I would not hesitate to go to The Broad Face again. The restaurant was a little quiet and the service was a bit slow but with the company and the food that was presented to us, I would not be deterred from returning.  If you are planning a trip to eat out in Abingdon, why not wait until a Monday night when you will find the steak menu discounted? My sirloin steak was priced at £13.

A savoury snack

This Christmas Santa brought me Muffins Galore, a recipe collection by Catherine Atkinson that is full of fresh ideas and experimental ingredients. I don’t usually bake all that much, but this book definitely provides an incentive! I decided to use it for the first time this weekend… from Chocolate Chip Crumble, to Cinnamon-Spiced Courgette and Special Diet muffins, there were so many options to choose from. Feeling in a savoury mood I opted for Sausage & Cheese and they were really quite satisfying!

Sausage and cheese muffins (makes 12)

225g good-quality pork sausagemeat

1 small onion, grated

300g plain flour

2 tbsp caster caster sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

175ml milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

50g melted butter

50g grated cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ᵒ/Gas mark 5 and grease a muffin tin or line it with paper muffin cases.
  2. Fry the sausagemeat over a high heat for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. As you cook it use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into crumbs.
  3. Once cooked, remove the sausagemeat from the pan and fry the onion until softened in the same pan.
  4. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in one bowl and in another mix the milk, egg and melted butter.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients along with the fried sausagemeat, onions and grated cheese into the bowl of dry ingredients and gently bind together. Only stir the mixture until it has all been incorporated as over mixing may give your muffins unwanted air pockets. (It will probably be quite a sticky and stringy mixture.)
  6. Share the batter between the muffin cups and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Why not make a batch of these muffins next weekend to enjoy at work as a savoury snack? Muffins freeze well so you can put them away and take one out each day or whenever you fancy.