Orzo with Pumpkin, feta and bacon.

IMG_2328

 

 

The wind is just starting to calm down. Earlier it was howling around the outside of the house and the wind has a bitter chill to it. The weather is a little confusing somewhat at the moment as Spring is trying its best to break through. There’s even blossom on the trees already. Unless we are just left with bare branches from this storm!

Days like today need a bowl of comfort food for dinner and back in October last year I created this recipe that is perfect for today. I actually came up with it for my regular slot on BBC Radio Leicester for using up leftover Pumpkins but you could easily substitute it for Butternut squash. You will be able to knock this recipe up within 15 minutes. So stay warm and cozy away from Storm Gareth and I can guarantee you will be back for seconds.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp rapeseed oil or oil of your choice
  • 150g orzo pasta
  • 1/4 medium sized pumpkin chopped into 1inch sized pieces
  • 1 large red onion or 2 small red onions diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 slices of smoked bacon sliced
  • A good sprig of fresh sage finely chopped
  • 1/4 chicken gel stock pot
  • 100 ml water roughly
  • Handful of rocket chopped
  • 50 g feta cheese crumbled
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

IMG_2323

 

Method:-

  • Preheat oven to 200 c fan. Place the pumpkin into a baking tray and drizzle with rapeseed oil. Cook for roughly 15 minutes or until starting to soften and sorting to brown around then edges.
  • In a saucepan in water cook the Orzo to cooking instructions ( normally 10-15 mins)
  • Then in a frying pan fry off in rapeseed oil the onion for about 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute or two.
  • Add in your bacon and fry off until cooked and browned around the edges.
  • By this time the pumpkin will be done so add to the frying pan the pumpkin and stir. Cook for a further minute. Add in your orzo pasta.
  • Then add in your sage,  chicken stock and water, stir and cook for a further 2-3  minutes.
  • Add in your feta, stir and then add in your rocket and parsley and you are ready to serve.

Festive scallops

At Christmas time, scallops always make their way into my Kitchen. I don’t get chance to eat them very often because of their cost so they become an indulgent treat at Christmas. 
  I have done many starter recipes with scallops so I thought I would share one of my festive ones with you. 

 Scallops are a great starter for Christmas Day or anytime really over the festive period as they are so quick to cook plus they only need a few ingredients alongside as you don’t want to overpower their sweet subtle taste. Personally I find if you buy large scallops, 3 can be ample for each person but thats your choice. 

  This recipe you will be able to knock up in 15 minutes to impress your guests.  A festive, seafood, showstopper that really is simple to do.

My Festive Scallops:




Ingredients:
serves 4
  • 1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • a couple of knobs of unsalted butter
  • 12 Large scallops
  • 3 rashers of Smoked bacon trim most of the rind off but leave a little fat to give flavour
  • 150g frozen petit pois defrosted
  • 3 clementines segmented keep the rest for juice later.
  • small handful fresh mint chopped
  • a good splash of Prosecco or fruity sauvignon blanc
Method:
  • Chop your bacon into very small squares. Fry in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes, just until starting to colour. Pop aside on a plate leaving the fat in the pan.
  • Pop some boiling water into a saucepan and empty in your peas. Boil for no more than 2 minutes as you want to keep their colour. Drain, add a knob of butter and your chopped mint, shake and cover with a lid. Set aside.
  • To cook the scallops, add a knob of butter and a splash of rapeseed oil to the frying pan and heat until hot but allowing not to burn. Place your scallops in the pan and cook for roughly 2 minutes, do not turn until caramelised on each side. Then do the other side.
  • Set your scallops aside onto a warm plate and then add your bacon back into the frying pan, deglaze with your wine and reduce down for about a minute. Add in your clementine segments and a little spritz of the juice. Once reduced to a syrup texture you are ready to plate up. 

*  Place pea mixture onto the plate, top with your scallops and pour over your bacon and clementine syrup.





Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale



 

An Autumnal risotto that is a lovely alternative recipe for when you want to do something a little more sophisticated but yet its still a great frugal “fridge raid” recipe.
 Risottos are a great way of using up what veg you need to. Plus with this dish you are using up any Pumpkin you may still have lying around as many just get thrown away or not bought at all throughout their season. Many just used for decoration. 
  You can even get the children involved in helping squeezing out all the orange coloured flesh.
 Use the Seeds by roasting them in the oven as a tasty snack and if you have any Risotto leftover, make Arancini the next day.
  Leeks and Kale are also in season at this time of year so if you like to cook along with them like me, this is the perfect dish for you.

 I did this recipe first for BBC Radio Leicester on my regular cooking slot for Ben Jackson’s show.  However this time, Ed Stagg was filling in for him. You can hear me showing Ed here how to make it.

 It was so popular, I decided to then do it for my weekly column.




Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale:







Ingredients:


1-2 tbsp Rapeseed oil

2-3 handfuls of Carnaroli risotto rice
a good splash of dry white wine
a handful of pearl barley cooked in a little chicken stock 
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 medium sized onion diced finely
1/4 leek sliced
1/4 small farmed pumpkin peeled and diced. Plus use some of the flesh inside to squeeze out the orange juice. ( I bought mine from a local Farm called Cattow’s Farm)
800ml homemade chicken stock or 1 gel pot chicken stock to 800ml water, can use veg stock if keeping vegetarian
2 rashers of smoked bacon sliced
Few gratings of parmesan cheese ( parmigiano reggiano )
handful of unsalted butter cold and diced
cracked black pepper to season 

Crispy Kale: 


A few handfuls of Curly kale

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
sprinkle of sea salt to season and sugar


Method:



*  Cook off pearl barley to packet instructions.


*  Sweat off chopped onion in a pan and cook until starting to go translucent 


*  Add garlic, stir and then pop in your rice. Stir but not too much.Then de glaze your pan with wine.Cook until starting to reduce.


*  Add in hot Chicken stock then ladle by ladle for about 10 minutes, not allowing to stick, but not string too much as this will make the rice glutinous


*  pop in your Kale in the oven on 200c or 190 fan for 5 minutes.


*  Add in your chopped pumpkin to the risotto and cook for further 5 minutes, then add your leek and cook for a further 3 minutes.


*  Fry off your bacon in a separate pan till it goes crispy on the edges


*  Then add in your cooked pearl barley and stir only a little. Here you can squeeze the inside bright coloured flesh into the risotto to make an orange colour

*  Add your butter to the risotto, plus a little parmesan and cracked black pepper,  turn the heat off and cover with a lid.



*  Serve in large bowls, top with the bacon, then kale and a snow of parmesan.









Orzo with bacon, broad beans and peas


I actually wrote this Recipe for my column ” Quick bite” in the Leicester mercury about 6 weeks ago when Broad Beans and peas were at the peak of their season but Ive decided to share this now still as I love this dish and regular make it. 

  Peas are still around at the moment ( August ) and you should still find some Broad beans as they sometimes can go on till September. If for some reason you can’t get them now, Courgettes will be a good substitute.


 Here is what I wrote before:

Broad beans and Peas are in the height of their season at the moment so I wanted to show you a different way of cooking these lovely pulses.
  Broad beans and peas as baby first pickings, like I had, should be enjoyed for their flavour so you shouldn’t by any means over cook them. Im growing both in my kitchen Garden, so if you are too, this is even more fantastic.
  Ive teamed them up in this recipe with Orzo which is a great little pasta shape, sometimes confused for being a grain almost like rice.  I use this quite a lot in cooking as its light, very quick to prepare and most things will go with it. Plus, it’s great to have as a salad the next day for lunch. 
  Ive also teamed these seasonal beauties with some added bacon, one for colour and the saltiness it gives will bounce off the sweetness of the peas.
  I also find that this dish is very refreshing so you won’t feel heavy after it.
  So if you’re unsure of a way to cook broad beans and you’re not quite sure wether you like them, have an abundance of fresh peas or even if you have a packet of orzo in your cupboard gathering dust, do this recipe now.






Orzo with bacon, broad beans and peas:
Ingredients:
(Serves 2 approximately for a light lunch)
  • 3 handfuls of Orzo ( you won’t need a lot, it goes a long way )
  •   2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  •   2 rashers of bacon thinly sliced
  •   2-3 spring onions chopped
  •   8-10 seasonal (British) Broad beans podded (I double podded half )
  •   A good handful of seasonal (British) fresh peas podded
  •   Small amount of Chicken stock (100-150ml) just to taste
  •   Small handful of flat leaf parsley chopped
  •   Pea shoots to finish if you have them and even you can use Broad bean shoots in this too
  •   A good few turns on the pepper mill for some Cracked Black pepper to season
Method:
  • Cook Orzo to packet instructions ( normally only takes 5-6 minutes )
  • Fry off the Bacon for a couple of minutes till its starts to crisp and turn a golden colour.
  • Add your Garlic and Spring onions, cook and stir for about another minute.
  • Pop in your fresh broad beans and peas and cook for a bout a minute or two, not allowing your garlic to burn.
  • Add your chicken stock, stir, reduce down after a minute or two and then add your parsley and seasoning.


*  Make a final stir, taste, add your shoots if you have them, serve and dive in there.

BBQ roast chicken pizza

IMG_5646

 

 

Pizza is one thing in our household that we make every couple of weeks. Reason why? Its cheap, you can use things up in your fridge and you feel like you’re having a takeaway but with better benefits.  Its very, very tasty and ultimately satisfying when you make your own.

I have so many families that have said to me in the past that they don’t have the time to do this, but I beg to differ…

Firstly the dough takes 5 minutes maximum to make, 30 minutes to rise and yes then putting on a topping and baking…another 18 minutes (approximately)  Not long hey? Surely that is the time it takes for a family to decide firstly what cuisine they are having? Who the takeaway is going to be, ordering and then waiting? Thing is…the great thing is, YOU and your FAMILY have made it and put on exactly what you want on it!

That’s really what I wanted to show you in this write up and when I went on my regular slot with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester a couple of weeks ago. It’s a great recipe to do together as a family and more to the point, the one we did here cost roughly around 85p-£1 per pizza! Bearing in mind my plain flour only cost me 45p for 1.5kg bag!

So imagine if it was just cheese and tomato, or another vegetarian option? Would be a lot more cheaper too! This week is half term, so why not have a go at making them or even on a weekend sometime.

Here I am showing Ben Just how super easy and cheap it is to make these tasty pizzas at home:

Roast BBQ Chicken Pizza:

IMG_5642

Ingredients  ( Makes two large pizzas)

Dough

 –  500g Plain flour

–  Good Pinch of Salt

–  A drizzle of Rapeseed Oil or Extra virgin Olive Oil

–  1 Sachet of fast action dried yeast

–  350ml of warm water added a bit at a time

 

Topping:

 

–  Roughly 1/2 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes (400g tin)

–  1 heaped Tbsp Tomato Puree

–  A few Herbs such as Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary etc chopped

–  BBQ Sauce

–  Leftover Roast Chicken

–  Bag of Grated Mozzarella (250g)

–  1 Sliced Green Pepper

–  2 rashers Chopped cooked Bacon

–  1  Red Onion sliced

 

Method:

IMG_5553

*  Get a Large mixing bowl and add all dry ingredients into your bowl. Pop in a drizzle of your Oil and then start to add in your warm water bit by bit.

 

*  With a Wooden Spoon, use the Handle to mix, not the spoon end as this is much easier, trust me!

 

 

*  Start to mix your Dough together, you’ll feel it starting to Gel. Keep adding your water until you have a nice dough texture. Too wet, you need to add a little dusting of flour.

 

*  On a floured work surface, just bring the dough together with your hands, kneading only slightly.

 

*  Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a warm, damp tea towel and place in a warm place. I put mine in the Airing cupboard. Leave for about 30-45 mins to rise.

 

*  Bash together with a fork in a bowl or in a Food Processor your Tomato Puree, Tomatoes and herbs.

 

*  Preheat oven to 200c

 

*  Once the Dough is ready, Sprinkle some flour onto a work surface and shape the dough out flat using your fingers as thin as you can. You can put onto a tray first if easier.

 

*  Add the Tomato paste allowing to leave an inch all around the Pizza. Add on top the bbq sauce, not too wet though.

 

*  Pop on a little cheese, then veg, meat and cheese again. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until pizza is done.

IMG_5640