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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Half way point!
Depending on how big your dish is, this is based on serving 4 people in a 25cm gratin dish.
- 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
- 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
At the finish, bubbling away nicely
- 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.
Wheres that red wine and crusty bread?
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:
– 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.
- 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.
I actually did this recipe back in June this year for my column but I thought it would be perfect to share now as a nice meal change in-between all that Christmas shopping.
These fishcakes are a great alternative for a fish Friday supper. The green bean salsa gives it more of a lighter feel but will still fill you up.
So I wanted to show you how easy making fishcakes can be, as having no egg and breadcrumbs to this recipe, it takes less time. Also this version is healthier than the usual mashed potato used with butter and cream.
I have added the peas into the fishcakes as it’s a great way of getting vegetables into your children’s diet.
You can use other strong fish in this recipe but I prefer the mackerel and its great for budget shopping.
This dish will be a perfect, lighter alternative for you before all that meat is consumed over Christmas.
Oh and a little tip from me also…they are great eaten cold the day after.
Smoked mackerel and pea fishcakes with a green bean salsa:
- 2 tbsp of Rapeseed oil for frying
- handful of plain flour to dust the fishcakes
- 4 skinned Fresh Smoked mackerel fillets
- 2 Spring onions chopped
- 500g bag of Jersey Royal potatoes or any other New potatoes halved
- A good Handful of petit pops defrosted and drained
- fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- A good squeeze of lemon
- Salt and cracked black pepper to season
Green bean salsa
- Fine green beans blanched for 3 minutes and halved
- 2 large tomatoes chopped roughly
- 1 medium red onion diced finely
- small handful of baby capers chopped
- half a 180g tin of sweetcorn drained
- Fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste as above
- Boil your potatoes until just starting to break/soften
- Blanch your green beans for about 3 minutes as they still need a “bite” to them then place into ice cold water
- When your potatoes are done crush them using a potato masher, leaving them still with chunks and add a little seasoning to them.
- Take a bowl, pop in your crushed potatoes, flake in your smoked mackerel but also leave chunky.
- Add spring onions, peas, lemon and seasoning and mix together with your hands.
- Start to form in your hand a ball like shape and flatten to form a fishcake. dust in flour and place on a plate.
- Continue with the rest of the mixture.
* If you aren’t using them all, you can freeze at this stage.
- Once all formed, in a frying pan heat a little oil and start to fry. Turning every couple of minutes. Once golden brown after approximately 5-6 minutes, they will be done.
- Place all fishcakes onto Kitchen paper to drain the oil.
* Put all your salsa ingredients together in a bowl and serve.
There is something I find quite comforting with a fried rice dish. In British takeaways or restaurants we tend to order it as a side dish but I find it a great supper in-itself.
I feel sometimes people are a little unsure and daren’t try to cook Chinese favourites at home but they really are easy to do.
The key to a successful fried rice is to always make sure your rice is cooked and cooled down to cold before frying it in the wok, else hot rice to a hot pan just will stick together. My recipe is done from scratch or you could cook your rice the day before.
I have used King Prawns but you could substitute to Chicken, turkey or Pork.
This is a delicious meal that only takes 15 minutes to do, so is perfect when you need to get food on the table fast. Just don’t forget the chopsticks!
Easy king prawn and egg fried rice:
- 250g Long grain rice
- 2-3 tbsp Rapeseed oil ( can burn quickly, just be careful ) or use vegetable, or groundnut oil
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- A thumbnail size of fresh Ginger grated
- 2 eggs
- 2-3 Spring onions chopped (save some for on top at the end)
- a few leaves of green pak choi chopped
- tbsp of light soy sauce or superior light ( found in Chinese supermarkets. Mine was from Wang Fung Hong in Leicester )
- tbsp of Oyster sauce ( Wang Fung Hong )
- cracked black pepper to season
- Cook rice to packet instructions. In a sieve or fine colander under cold water rinse the rice until all cold, not sticky and no water at all. Pop aside.
- Heat a little oil in your wok and once hot pop in your scrambled eggs, just folding in the wok until almost cooked, do not scramble vigorously.Then place aside in a bowl.
- Place some oil in your wok again and start to fry off some of your spring onions, pak choi, stir, then add in garlic and ginger for only about 30 seconds.
- Pop in your sauces to your veg, stirring, then add in your Rice, stir or toss all around the wok allowing the sauce to coat your rice. Add in your prawns and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Then stir in your cooked eggs from before, stir and add some pepper to season.
– Once all is perfectly hot, serve into bowls and place on some finely chopped spring onion.