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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Barbecued provencal mussels

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There’s nothing more I like that cooking outdoors. Wherever I can do it, I will. Yesterday was in my lovely little garden which is great as I can pick whatever herbs, fruit and vegetables I want. I get really bored of typical bbq food, i.e. burgers, hot dogs, sausages etc…that a lot of us Brits do. So if you are like me and want to cook something easy but a little more adventurous then this recipe will be for you. Especially if you like seafood!

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The only thing I would stress is that cooking outdoors, some bbq’s, fire pits, outdoor ovens with have different strengths to how hot they are and how quick things will cook. It also will change in time to how much other ingredients you put in there along with the mussels.

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Ingredients:

( Serves two as a main course portion )

  • A 1kg bag of fresh Mussels ( Mine were Scottish )
  • half an onion diced finely
  • 1 small courgette diced finely
  • A good handful of tomatoes. Sliced in half. I used my own homegrown ones which were golden ones and some piccolo red ones.
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • A few slices of a funnel bulb diced finely and also a few fronds
  • A handful of parsley ripped roughly
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • A good splash of white wine. I used Sauvignon blanc. Plus a good splash for yourself!
  • 2 knobs of unsalted butter
  • Also I used a branch of bay, thyme and Rosemary to smoke underneath the embers. The smell is amazing!

 

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Method:

  • De-beard and clean your mussels including taking off any barnacles. Rinse them under cold water.
  • Make a bag/parcel with foil and place in your Mussels plus all other vegetables and herbs. Add your wine and place the butter over everything.
  • Close up your foil parcel and place onto your bbq.
  • This will Cook for roughly 12-15 minutes ( Times may vary ) If you are cooking with just the mussels, it will take less time.
  • After half way through take off and check how far it is cooking. Stir will a spoon and place back on the bbq.
  • When everything is cooked through, take off, pour into large bowls and serve with some crusty buttered bread.

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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?

Singapore stir-fried noodles with king prawns

I have a couple of Dishes that I always cook for myself be it every week or at least every other week and this recipe is one of them. I love eating all types of Asian cuisine but this is a great one to do if you don’t want to break the bank balance and order a takeaway.

  You may not have all the store cupboard ingredients in at first, but once you do have them in, you can use them for other recipes I will be doing or have already created, so they won’t go to waste and will last for a long time.

  This dish can be cooked in 10 minutes (15 if you include the prep), it’s a super quick, simple recipe that has lots of flavour in there of you. 
 If you are one of these people that when you order a Chinese takeaway you choose a chow mien dish and then put curry sauce on top of it, well this is the one for you! 

  This recipe can be cooked at any time of year and also is so great for using up any odd bits of vegetables you have in the fridge. Perfect for a Friday or Saturday before you do a shop for the next week ahead. 
 A Frugal takeaway made at home… A “Fake-away” 



Singapore stir-fried noodles with King Prawns:






Ingredients:
( Serves 2 approximately)
  •    A good handful of king prawns ( I normally would say at least 8 per person but I love Prawns!) I tend to buy a 225g frozen packet of raw or cooked ones as they are more economical. Just defrost thoroughly first.
  •  1/2 250g pack of  Singapore noodles ( thin type )( I buy mine from Wang Fung Hong in Leicester)
  •  2 tbsp Rapeseed oil or groundnut oil
  •  2 Cloves of garlic chopped finely
  •  Thumbsize nail amount of fresh Ginger grated or chopped fine
  •  half a red chilli chopped finely
  •  1 small onion sliced
  •  2-3 Chestnut mushrooms or shitake sliced
  •  1 small carrot sliced thinly
  •  1/2 red pepper sliced lengthways 
  •  1/2 yellow pepper sliced lengthways
  •  1/4 celery stick sliced thinly on an angle 
  •  2-3 Chinese leaves sliced or you could use pak choi or even both( Again mine are from Wang Fung Hong in Leicester)
  •  A good handful of Bean sprouts ( Wang Fung Hong as they are in bigger packs )
  •  2-3 spring onions sliced diagonally 
  •  small handful of chopped coriander to finish
(Stir fry sauce):
1 tbsp light soy sauce ( Wang Fung Hong )
1 tbsp oyster sauce ( Wang Fung Hong )
1/4 chicken stock pot
1 tbsp Chinese hot and spicy curry sauce concentrated paste ( Mine was from Wang Fung Hong ) you can use a mild or medium curry powder if you can’t find
pinch of caster sugar 
150 ml of water
Method:
*  Cook noodles to packet instructions and rinse under cold water to cool, if you don’t, they stick.
  •  In a wok add your oil and start to fry off your sliced onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms for a minute or two until starting to colour and soften.
  •  Add your Garlic, ginger and chilli but be careful not to burn, stir and then add in  the sliced peppers, and stir for about another minute.
  •  Then add in your prawns, chinese leaves or pak choi or both and continue to toss the ingredients around the wok.
  •  Start to add in your sauces i.e. soy, oyster, chicken stock and just make a little area by moving the veg away in the wok and pop in your curry paste, using a spoon stirr in the paste, add water and start to coat all the veg.
*  Add in your noodles, stir, add then spring onions and coriander plus if it needs a little extra of any sauces. Serve in a bowl and enjoy.