Harissa salmon with wild garlic & herb couscous and roasted veg.

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Wild garlic is at is peak now for foraging and should be in most places over the UK in flower. I Love wild garlic and this year I have been experimenting more with it. I think people who come into my kitchen recently must be sick of smelling it, or even on me for that matter! ( Never thought about that until now! ) Also what is coming up great in my kitchen garden are the herbs. My fennel has lasted all through winter and is still going strong.

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One recipe that really stood out through developing was this one on how quick it takes to prepare and cook. Plus it is super healthy.

I don’t usually buy salmon purely on its cost and sustainability but I couldn’t get Loch trout which I would have used instead. I managed to find some Scottish salmon that was MSC certified which had a lovely taste.

Combining the lovely subtle fresh flavours of the wild garlic and herbs in the couscous makes this dish so light. I didn’t overpower the salmon either, just gives it a little gentle heat against everything else. This dish is perfect for lots of occasions and especially with Easter coming up it’s a lovely alternative if you don’t want to have Lamb or any other meats. One key factor to remember…Do not overcook the Salmon then it will keep it’s lovely flavour and just flake away nicely.

I paired this up with some lovely British tomatoes that look fantastic on the dish but if Im completely honest I don’t think they go with the rest of the dish. They have a beautiful taste roasted though. So that’s your choice on whether you put them on the dish or not.

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Ingredients:

(Serves 2)

Salmon:

  • 2 responsilbly sourced Salmon fillets ( I used Scottish )
  • 1 tsp of dry Harissa spice mix/rub ( I use Spice Kitchen )
  • 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil
  • Sprinkle of sea salt to season. I use pink himalayan salt on mine but any good quality will do.

Wild garlic and herb Couscous:

  • 150g of Couscous ( you might even have more left over for Lunch the next day )
  • 250ml of vegetable stock ( boiling water )or enough to just cover the Couscous
  • a handful of freshly picked wild garlic leaves, stalks off, washed and finely chopped ( Chiffonade )
  • A good handful of fresh herbs finely chopped such as: Chives, mint, green fennel or fronds of, chervil and parsley. If you can’t get the fennel or chervil use a little tarragon or dill.
  • A little salt and cracked black pepper to season if needed.

Roasted vegetables:

  • 1 small red onion roughly diced
  • 1 small red pepper diced roughly
  • 1 small yellow pepper roughly diced
  • 1 stick of celery chopped roughly
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Small handful of lemon thyme, (if you can’t get this use normal thyme and a little lemon zest at the end of roasting)
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season.
  • British Vittoria tomatoes on the side ( optional )

 

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Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180c fan.
  • Place vegetables in a roasting tin/dish with the lemon thyme and place in oven for 5 minutes.
  • Place Salmon after 5 minutes in a roasting dish, smother the harissa and oil over it, season and place in the oven also for approximately 12-15 mins or when salmon is cooked.

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  • Continue cooking the vegetables also.
  • Whilst these are in the oven together Pop your dry couscous into a bowl, cover with the vegetable stock and cover with cling film for 10 minutes. Leave aside.
  • At this point pop your tomatoes in the oven if you want to use them.
  • Then when all is ready in the oven, flake your couscous with a fork and will be fluffy at this point. Then add in your herbs and wild garlic, stir and leave to stand until all dished up together.
  • Serve altogether and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken, red wine casserole with parmentier potatoes and local king cabbage

 

 

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Even with how many recipes I develop on a day to day basis, it still begins to amaze me when a dish turns out fantastically especially when you were just using the odd thing up in your cupboards and fridge.

It was last month on a Sunday and I said to my partner I was going to do a bit of a fridge/cupboard raid for dinner. I called it a chasseur at the time just because it was cooked in red wine but I’ve decided to call it a casserole as it was cooked the same way.

This recipe blew my mind with how the red wine tasted in it. The wine I use isn’t too expensive but one of which we love in our house. A South African Stellenbosch.

Earlier on in the day we had been to our local garden centre to actually look for another blueberry plant to help with pollination. We did get one. However when we first turned up, they had these huge King cabbages for sale at only 40p! As you can see by the picture below, it had these vivid green and purple tones that were just mesmerising. I knew it would taste nice and would stretch to lots of meals for us.

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This was the sort of meal that for an occasion, date night maybe or a Sunday that you are fed up of the same roast, this a great alternative and so easy to cook. It somehow feels a little extra special but still comforting and warming at its best.

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts ( Or 1 per person )
  • 4-5 chestnut mushrooms sliced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1-2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
  • a knob of unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped/sliced however you like
  • 1 large leek sliced
  • 1/2 celery stick chopped
  • 3/4 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a sprig of thyme
  • a good handful of chervil, if you can’t get use a little parsley and tarragon
  • 250ml red wine ( I used a South African Stellenbosch )
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree, may need to use a little more
  • Chicken stock, Use a 1/4 gel pot or homemade. You need enough to create a lovely sauce. I used about 300ml of water. Add more if need be.
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season

Parmentier Potatoes:

  • 6/7 medium sized potatoes, I use marfona Peeled and chopped into squares
  • A handful of rosemary
  • 3-4 garlic cloves crushed
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • 1-2 tbsp of rapeseed oil

 

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Method:

  •  Preheat your oven to 190c

 

  • In a heavy bottomed casserole dish, seal off the chicken breasts in some rapeseed oil.

 

  •  Take out your chicken once starting to colour and pop aside. Then in the same pan add a little more oil and a knob of unsalted butter and fry off your onions until starting to soften.

 

  •  Add in your carrots and celery and stir. Then add all other ingredients . Pop the lid on and place in the oven for about 45 mins-hour.

 

  • In the mean time you can prepare and cook your potatoes. Blanch the potatoes in boiling water for 3-4 mins.

 

  •  Drain and sprinkle your flour over the potatoes coating them.

 

  •  Place a baking/roasting tray in the oven with a little rapeseed oil in it. Once hot pop the potatoes onto it ( it should sizzle ) with the herbs and garlic and place in the oven for about 15 minutes or when crispy, golden brown.

 

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  • Once the casserole and potatoes are done. Best way to cook this cabbage is boil your water first and then once rapidly boiling plunge into the hot water. It will only need about 4-5 minutes cooking maximum and will stay vivid green.

 

  •  Once the cabbage is cooked, serve all together and enjoy.

 

 

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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?

Herby chicken casserole with winter veg and pearl barley


A couple of weeks back, we had the first fluttering of snow this year and temperatures  dropped to actually what it should be in January now… 0 degrees. Hurrah! Finally! 
 My woolies came out and winter is finally here! I do love winter. I do! I love the snow. Also, putting on those oversized coats that you always say you are going to fit into, snuggling in a huge knitted scarf and wearing a pom pom hat. But simply taking yourself out for a crisp, cold winter’s walk and trying to catch what birds and wildlife you can spot. How lovely?



Here is a photo I took on that Sunday of a beautiful wintery scene in Leicestershire:








We stopped at a lovely area we know where you can just sit and watch the birds feeding. We were thrilled to see a great spotted woodpecker, he was a grand little thing. Neither of us were quick enough to take a picture! We also saw a Jay which was beautiful with his flash of bright blue on him.



But thats just me, I love that. More to the point, the food that you can pair with all this winter bliss is wonderful.

   In this weather I crave for hearty stews and soups. Don’t we all surely? Dunking that crusty bread in there is food heaven. But do we all feel they are complicated to make? Or time consuming without a slow cooker? 
  Well, I thought I would show you a very simple way of doing a casserole. I did it after that winter outing but actually came up with the recipe last year and forgot to write about it! I also shared this recipe with my readers of my weekly column in the Leicester Mercury.

  Not all stews and casseroles take forever.  With this recipe it’s all in the prep, then into the oven and it does all the work for you, so you can sit back with a large glass of wine in front of the fire.

  This is simple, affordable food that will blow the cold socks off your friends and family. 
  I actually created another recipe from the last bits of veg and juice that were left so I will post that shortly too for you too.



Herby Chicken casserole with winter veg and pearl barley:




Ingredients:
–   1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • Chicken thighs (1-2 per person)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery sliced
  • 2 carrots diced into chunks ( Veg all the same size )
  • 1 large parsnip diced into chunks
  • 1/4 Swede diced into chunks
 –   1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
  •   Chicken stock ( 1 gel pot ) to roughly 1 litre of water
  •   A tied mixture of herbs of Sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme and bayleaf 
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • a good splash of dry white wine
  • a handful of pearl barley
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 3-4 chestnut mushrooms sliced
  • If you want to thicken the sauce slightly at the end, add in a tbsp of chicken gravy granules. 
Method:




  • Cook the pearl barley to packet instructions, drain and set aside to pop in later.
*  Preheat oven to 190c.
  • Fry off your Chicken thighs just to colour. Pop onto a plate aside. Then in the same fat, fry off your onion, carrots, parsnip, swede and celery for a couple of minutes just to coat.
  • Add your garlic into the casserole pot, stir and add the chicken back in with the  tomatoes, wine, stock and herbs. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes depending on how many you are feeding for.
  • After 30-40 minutes check on the Casserole to see if veg is cooking well or may need a little water etc.
  • At this same point add in your leeks, mushrooms and pearl barley Pop back into the oven for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes if you would like your sauce thicker, add in 1 tbsp of chicken gravy granules.Pop back in the oven for 5  minutes.



* After this point, check if it needs seasoning and then you are ready to serve. I served mine with Mustard mashed potato by adding dijon mustard to how you would normally do your mash.

Tomato, Barley and vegetable soup

This recipe sent me back thinking to my childhood, not because it was something we always ate, but because it reflected on something that happens all over our country at this time of year, in Churches, schools, Farm shops and that is of course…The Harvest festival. 
   
  Farmers and vegetable growers of all levels gather their crops in Autumn as a celebration to show the general public where their food comes from and also it’s a chance to raise money for Charity. 
  Last Saturday was also the start of British food Fortnight, (19th Sep-4th Oct 2015) so the two fit perfectly together.

  This soup is packed full of most vegetables that are being harvested now and they certainly were from my little Kitchen garden that Im so very proud of. 


   Soup always makes me feel good inside and warm,when Ive had it. Maybe after a long day or when a cold is drawing near. With this recipe, Im sure it will give you quite an amount of your Five-a day.

  This is a one pot dish that is so economical but with the added pearl barley and lots of vegetables it will keep you feeling full –  Fit for the Harvest festival! 








Tomato Barley and vegetable soup:
Ingredients:
( Serves 4 approximately)
  •   1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil 
  •   a couple of handfuls of pearl barley
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1  Large carrot finely diced
  • 1  large celery stick finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp of tomato puree
  •   Pinch of sugar
  • 1 leek  finely sliced 
  • 1 gel pot of vegetable stock or Chicken stock
  • handful of fresh herbs : Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary finely chopped
  • 1-2 runner beans sliced
  • 1 courgette chopped finely
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh basil to finish
Method
  • Cook Pearl barley to packet instructions but add in some stock to your water, whichever you are using.
  •   Sweat off your carrot and celery with your rapeseed oil in a pan for a minute or two, then add in your onions. Cook until starting to soften.
  •   Then add in your sliced leek, stir and sweat down for about 2 minutes. Add in your Garlic and stir again.
  •   Pop in your chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and sugar and turn down the heat slightly. Stir in your stock and add about 1/2 litre of water. (I prefer to add as I go) 
  •   Leave this now to simmer away for about 15-20 minutes allowing your veg to soften. Keep checking and if it needs more water, add a little more.
  • After this point, add in your courgettes and runner beans and cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Then add in your cooked pearl barley and herbs, stir, add more water if it needs it and cook until your beans and courgettes are softened.
  • Taste and see if it requires seasoning or sometimes a little sugar if tart.

–   Serve into bowls, sprinkle on the basil and dive in with some crusty bread.