Linguine with sausage meatballs and chard

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This seasonal pasta dish will be on the table in under 20 mins. A great dish for this weekend if you have guests coming over. It has a velvety sauce that will wow your guests but it’s not too filling. It’s also great for a quick midweek meal when you have a couple of sausages left in the fridge.

It can be adapted if you can’t get the lovely seasonal chard either to spring greens or cavolo nero ( dark kale ). Maybe a friend who has an allotment or veggie patch will gladly give you some.

I think sometimes chard can be pushed aside slightly. Many people I speak to shy away from it as they aren’t sure how to use it. It sometimes can confuse people with its large leaves and stems. I personally love the veg and feel it should be showcased more. It’s beautiful colours are a delight to look at. Especially as we are in Autumn now. Mine are still growing well in the kitchen garden, some have bolted as I want them to go to seed but the others are fine.

I may even grow some more over the coming months.

Listen here where you can hear me cooking this super simple, quick and inexpensive recipe for Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester.

 

Linguine with sausage meatballs and chard:

 

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Ingredients:

(Serves 2)

Sausage Meatballs:

  • 3-4 pork sausages ( Meat taken out of the skins )
  • A small handful of fennel fronds/tops chopped
  • A sprig of sage chopped ( 4 leaves )
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season

Pasta:

  • 200g, linguine ( I used dry )
  • Good glug of Rapeseed oil ( I use cold pressed )
  • 1 medium sized red onion diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic chopped, use 2 if very small
  • 4-5 chestnut mushrooms sliced
  • A good pinch of chilli flakes or you can use fresh.
  • 2 large handfuls chard chopped roughly, stalks a little smaller. If you can’t get chard, use spring greens or cavolo nero.
  • 1/4 gel pot of chicken stock
  • 2 ladles hot water from the pasta
  • Slug double cream
  • fresh parmesan grated

 

 

Method: 

  • Cook linguine to packet instructions
  • Mix together the sausage meat, herbs and seasoning and create small meatballs. This will make roughly 16 small sized ones.
  • Whilst that is cooking, fry of the onion in rapeseed oil on a medium heat for a minute, then add in the mushrooms. You may need to add a little more rapeseed oil.
  • After a couple of minutes bring your mixture to the sides of the frying pan.
  • Add in your meatballs into the middle and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring as you go.
  • After a couple of minutes, add in the garlic and toss all together.

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  • When the meatballs are starting to brown slightly, pop in the chard.
  • As it cooks down, add in your chilli flakes and chicken stock.
  • Add in the water from the pasta and reduce down for a minute or two.

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  • Drain off your pasta, keep some water if you feel you need to add a little more.
  • Add a slug of double cream and a little grated parmesan

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  • Add your pasta to the sauce using tongs or a spaghetti spoon so you don’t add too much at once. Fold the velvety sauce through the pasta.
  • Serve into large pasta bowls and add a sprinkle of grated fresh parmesan.

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Warm pearl barley salad with courgettes, leeks, herbs and chicken.

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Even though Autumn has now arrived and we saw the equinox appear on Friday, we are still in that “in-between stage” as I call it certainly food wise.

I cooked this recipe on my regular BBC Radio Leicester slot with Ben Jackson a couple of weeks ago. I came up with the recipe because we are still having lovely bouts of sunshine and like in my garden, I am still harvesting the last of the summer vegetables. I still have Courgettes, baby leeks, carrots, beans, lots of herbs and many more to list. Great for me to create even more recipes with in the next few weeks.

I feel at this time of year we are in the middle of wanting comfort food but maybe somedays you still want food that is quick to prepare, healthy and feels light when eating.

This is a great recipe also for using up leftover Roast chicken. So if you usually have chicken for a Sunday Roast, or in midweek then this is a perfect meal to come up with after. I also wanted to showcase how to use pearl barley in a different way rather that just in stews/casseroles and highlight the lovely herbs in this dish. Pearl barley is inexpensive and you don’t need to use a lot of it.

 

Click here to hear me with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester showing you just how quick and simple this meal is to prepare.

 

 

Warm pearl barley salad with courgettes, leeks and chicken. 

 

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Ingredients:

  • 75g of cooked pearl barley , I cooked mine in a little chicken stock and seasoned with cracked black pepper and sea salt once cooked.
  • 2 tbsps of rapeseed Oil.
  • 2 knobs of unsalted butter.
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Courgettes sliced to the thickness of a one pound coin.
  • 2 baby leeks or 1 small leek finely sliced.
  • 1 large spring onions or 2 small sized ones finely sliced.
  • 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped .
  • Approximately 100g of leftover roast chicken, shredded. ( I used chicken thighs and cooked mine in rapeseed oil with garlic, lemon thyme, oregano, sage, dill and fennel. Plus seasoned. I also added a few slices of lemon.)
  • A good handful of fresh herbs such as dill, fennel fronds, fennel pollen and mint finely chopped.
  •   A few Squeezes of fresh lemon.
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to season.
  • If you want to keep this recipe vegetarian then simply leave out the chicken and chicken stock.

 

Method:

  • Fry off your courgettes for a couple of minutes in rapeseed oil.
  •  Add in your garlic and stir. Then pop in your leeks and cook for a further minute. Again stirring or tossing around the pan allowing your garlic not to stick or burn.
  • Add the white parts of your spring onion, stir and then add in your butter. Cook for a further minute.
  • By now the courgettes will be cooked and glossy with the butter. Season with cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt .
  • Add to this mixture your green part of the spring onions and take off the heat.
  • Sprinkle in your fresh herbs but save some dill and fennel fronds for serving.
  • Pour your mixture into a bowl, add to this then your shredded chicken and pearl barley, Squeeze a little fresh lemon into the mix and give it a good stir.
  • Serve into large bowls, add the remaining dill and fennel on top and a little extra squeeze of lemon ( if you like it extra zingy ).
  • You can serve this on its own or with some toasted bread ( a batard type ).  Use the same frying pan to lightly toast your bread if you do and it will give it wonderful flavour.

 

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Cauliflower, leek and chorizo gratin with a parmesan crumb topping.

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So, this is my new blog. What do you think?

I thought what a better way to kick start it off but with a recipe that went out on last Friday for one of my regular shows I do for BBC Radio Leicester, “Food Friday” which I have done for a few years now. It’s on my friends show, that of course is the lovely Mr Ben Jackson. I love cooking on “Food Friday” as I love being able to help people think of ideas for the weekend. I normally do something seasonal, inexpensive, fridge raids/leftovers and family friendly recipes. You get the gist.

This dish is a simple recipe for a family of four all put together in one dish.It’s using seasonal ingredients at its best with a little something extra.

You could also have this as a side dish or starter in smaller sized dishes (how I have shown on the pictures). It’s a dish you really don’t need to be accurate with ingredients. You can play around with it a little, i.e if you don’t want to have the chorizo in it, its also great as that lovely parmesan crumb on top gives a special crunch. It would make a great dinner party dish that doesn’t have you slaving in the kitchen too.

It really is a super, simple supper that is inexpensive to make.

Click on this link to hear to me showing Ben and our listeners just how fabulous and easy it is to make.  

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Half way point!

Ingredients:

Depending on how big your dish is, this is based on serving 4 people in a 25cm gratin dish.

Gratin mix:

  •  1 whole head of cauliflower including using some of the leaves. Florets broken apart and sliced downwards to the stalks.
  • 1 leek sliced thinly
  • 1/2 chorizo ring ( approximately 100g ) chopped into smaller cubes
  • cheddar cheese grated, I used a mature British ( approximately 60-70g )
  • A sprig of thyme, if the leaves are quite large, chop them finely. My herbs are from my garden so I didn’t need to and just stripped off the leaves.
  • 300g carton of double cream ( you may not need to use it all, don’t cover the gratin mix with it )
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • A few knobs of Unsalted butter
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season

Crumb topping:

  •  2 slices of bread ( a few days old ) I used wholemeal which gives more flavour
  • 2 spring onions chopped roughly
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • 2-3 tbsp Parmesan ( Parmigiana reggiano ) grated some in the crumb mix and some for on top

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At the finish, bubbling away nicely

 

Method:

  •  Preheat your oven to 180c fan.

 

  •  Blanch off your cauliflower until just starting to soften.

 

  • In the meantime, in a blender/processor blitz together the ingredients for your topping.

 

  • In your chosen dish place a layer of cauliflower at the bottom. Then layer up with your leeks, chorizo, garlic, cheese and thyme. Then finish with cauliflower again on top.

 

  • Pour over your double cream and place your knobs of butter on top. Pop in the oven for 15 mins until things are starting to bubble and brown. Take out and put your crumb topping on. Place back in the oven for another 10 mins.

 

  • When golden brown onto, serve with perhaps some crusty bread, a nice salad and a lovely red wine.

 

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Diving in!

 

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Wheres that red wine and crusty bread?

Pork and prawn crispy spring rolls

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It’s Chinese New year this weekend, the year of the Rooster and what better way to celebrate the coming of a new Spring with these lovely Spring rolls. They also are meant to represent wealth by looking like “Gold bars”.

I started to create these recipes by using one wrapper per spring roll which they do work like that, however will either break or go a little soggy after a short period of time. So because I have done smaller sized ones, I simply doubled up on the wrappers and they work wonders!

If you are celebrating the Chinese new year or want to be involved these are incredibly so simple to make.

If you wanted to do a vegetarian version, simply leave out the prawns and pork (obviously) and then add in maybe some beansprouts and chestnut mushrooms.

I don’t normally deep fry a lot of food so this recipe is a true treat. It makes a great starter to a meal or just simply a great snack for other times of the year.

Here is a link where you can hear me on BBC Radio Leicester with Ben Jackson and simply going through how to make them for you! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04qz7r3

Ingredients:

( Serves approximately 24 spring rolls )

Filling:

  • 250g Pork Mince chopped/bashed down again with a meat cleaver or strong knife.
  • Half a bag of 225g Frozen king prawns ( defrosted ) and then chopped as fine as you can get them. – These are still great flavour to fresh but cheaper in price.
  • 1/2 227g tin of water chestnuts chopped
  • 1-2 carrots depending on size, into strips using a veg peeler.
  • 2-3 leaves of Chinese cabbage/lettuce or you could use pak choi shredded.
  • 2-3 spring onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 thumbnail size amounts of fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tsp of Chinese five spice ( I used Spice Kitchen’s blend )
  • a handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • a good pinch of caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce.

– 1 packet of spring roll wrappers/pastry, defrosted. ( I used 250g weight ones but any other size, you can cut them down.

– 1ltr bottle of vegetable oil or groundnut oil.

– 2 tbsp of cornflour mixed with a little water for your “Glue”

– A wok to deep fry in!

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Method:

  • Place a damp towel over your spring roll pastry to keep them moist.
  • Put all ingredients for the filling into a mixing bowl and mix through.
  • Heat your oil in the wok. Pop in a piece of bread to see when it is ready for deep frying.
  • Onto a plate take two of your wrappers and place the square into a diamond shape, so as a corner is facing you.
  • Take a tablespoon of your mixture and place it in the centre of your parcel, making a rectangular shape.
  • Fold the corner into the middle which is nearest to you, then fold in the outer corners to the centre of the spring roll. A bit like an envelope.Tuck in and roll to the centre. Place some of your cornflour mixture around the top corner to form a ” glue” and roll into your spring roll.
  • Pop into hot oil and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Take out with a slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen paper.
  • Simply serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

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Double cheddar cheese and chive quiche with chive flowers

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Pies, tart’s and quiches are never perfect looking when I make them. I like the rustic look when I make them for the household, cliche I know but it looks homemade then.

The thing is I am not actually a great quiche lover, well I have to say, I don’t really like most shop bought ones, they have to be really good quality and then you find that the price is quite shocking for a small pastry case filled with egg. So believe it or not, when it comes to this time of year through the asparagus season and just before Wimbledon, I always fancy a quiche!
They are quite good when you think about it as you can use produce up including eggs, milk, cream. Any veg you have or when you come to the end of a packet of bacon or sliced ham and not quite sure what to do with that last slice. However for this recipe I had an abundance of beautiful chives that had flowered and I wanted to showcase how tasty eating the flowers are. What a perfect recipe to do for my regular slot on BBC radio Leicester with Ben Jackson. You can hear the recording of myself and Ben HERE
Whatever occasion you may have coming up wether it be a friend coming round for a cuppa, an alternative tea or even a picnic. A quiche can be a winner.

National picnic week falls from the 11th-19th June 2016, one of my favourite National weeks.

 

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Ingredients:

Pastry:

250g plain flour
150g Stork margarine chopped into cubes
a good pinch of sea salt
a pinch of caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp cold milk

Filling:

4 eggs
125ml double cream
100ml milk
a handful of chives chopped into 1.5cm length
sea salt and cracked black pepper to season
75g welsh slate cheddar grated
75g mature cheddar grated
( You can use any cheddar you like as long as they are different to each other but give a bit of a punch in flavour)

Method:

Place the flour in a heap onto your work surface and make a well. Add in your butter, pop an egg on top, add your salt and sugar and then start to mix in together with your fingertips.

 

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Once the dough starts coming together add your milk. Bring the pastry together to form a ball, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until using.

 

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Preheat your oven to 190c. On a floured surface.Roll out your pastry to 2mm thickness. Line your chosen tin with the pastry and then with baking parchment and “Blind bake” with baking beans/lentils or rice for 15 mins.

After 15 minutes reduce take out your baking beans and then cook for a further 5 minutes.

Whisk your eggs, cream, milk and seasoning together in a jug. Add a layer of cheese, then custard mix, then chives, repeat again to fill your pastry case.

 

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Place in the oven for 30-40 mins.

 

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* Once cooked all the way through and golden on top, add your picked chive flowers, place on a cooling wrack to cool before slicing. Or as I did, place in the fridge overnight, then eat.

 

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