Sausage, veg & mashed potato bake

 

 

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Crispy mash top

 

I have just come in from being in the garden ( yes, sowing already )!  And even though we had glorious sunshine this morning in Leicestershire, it now has turned somewhat dull, and cloudy with a nip in the air still, due to the changing of seasons.

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Looking “Spring – like” in my garden. That is my rocket that has gone to flower in the background.

 

I’m starting off the week with a recipe that I have made twice now in our household and both times we have gone back for seconds, in fact one house guest actually had thirds!

We had this yesterday for our Sunday dinner as I had currently bought some reduced pork sausages and my leeks were only 21p too, bargain. The first time I made it was on a Friday night when a friend of ours stayed for the weekend. I wouldn’t have normally cooked something like this on a Friday but I’m glad I didn’t do my first choice, which was a fish pie…as it turns out, he wasn’t keen on fish! I was meant to write about it then, but it went down so good that muggins here forgot to take photographs.

This dish is great for a family midweek meal. By all means, if you don’t want the wine in it, take it out. It’s such a frugal recipe that will stretch far for portions and has lots of hidden veg inside too. I have used frozen peas and sweetcorn in this so for families who have the frozen mixture with carrots in also, use that if you like.

What a  great way to make sausage and mash that little bit more special. A real, rustic bake that you will have your family wanting more.

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Not the greatest photo, I admit, but I can assure you, this is comfort at its best.

Ingredients:

( Serves up to 6 people or 4 very generous portions )

  •  1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  •  1 pack of 8 British pork sausages ( not with a lot of herbs )
  •  2 onions sliced
  •  1 leek sliced
  •  A good splash of red wine ( I used a French full bodied ) about 125ml * Optional *
  •  1 tbsp tomato puree
  •  dash of Worcester sauce
  •  1/2 tbsp of Damson jam or any thing such as red current jelly to a similar taste
  •  Fresh herbs ( small sprig of each ) rosemary, thyme and sage
  •  handful of frozen peas and sweetcorn ( defrosted and drained )
  •  1/2 pork stock cube
  •  2 tbsp of chicken gravy or pork ( good quality )
  •  Salt and cracked black pepper to season ( may not need salt )

Mashed potato topping 

  • 8 good sized potatoes ( I use Marfona from a local farm )
  •  2 good knobs of unsalted butter
  •  1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  •  dash of double cream ( 100 ml )
  •  Salt and cracked black pepper to season if needed.

 

Method:

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Pretty self explanatory really…some sausages cut up!

 

  •  Boil your potatoes. Mash with the other ingredients or use a potato ricer like I did, then add in the ingredients.

 

  • Preheat your oven to 180c

 

  • Fry off your sausages until starting to turn golden brown.

 

  • Cut your sausages into 3 and place into your chosen oven proof dish.

 

  • Fry your onion until starting to soften and turn colour. Add in the red wine, tomato puree, Worcester sauce, Jam or jelly, stock and gravy and stir together. Add 300ml of water or until consistency is correct for a thick sauce. Taste to see if you need anything else more.

 

  • Add in your leeks and herbs. Cook for about 5 more minutes. Adding water if need be. Pour the gravy mixture over the sausages.

 

  • Scatter your peas and sweetcorn over. Cover with the mash and fork the top to create lots of crispy bits.

 

  • Pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve with green veg such as cabbage, Spring greens or broccoli.

 

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Layering up

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That crispy top again. You’ll fight for this corner/ end bits! 

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.

Shepherds Pie




Nowadays we use mince in our shepherds pies, however back in Victorian times they would always use up their leftover roast meat as a frugal way of living. It must have been some treat back then as it still has a certain endurance about it every time I eat it. The same with a cottage pie also, which if some of you aren’t aware, that is used with beef mince or in this case would have been leftover from your roast the previous day.
 I love doing this and creating different recipes with the leftover meat than just putting it cold into a sandwich for lunch the next day. 
  This way definitely gives more flavour I feel to the dish, a deeper earthier taste. Plus it brings a coarse texture that can be more appealing to others also. Plus it’s less fatty. 
This meat was taken from just a fore leg of Lamb, a bit like a large shank that I managed to buy and I got two huge parts of the leg for only £8! Down from £21! What a bargain!
  So you see my readers, not always is a roast an expensive dinner, it’s looking for that bargain first and it’s also what you manage to get out of it. 


Shepherds pie

(Using leftover Roast Lamb)





Ingredients: (Serves 4 approximately )
Mash: 
  • Roughly 6 floury potatoes such as Maris piper, wilma or marfona peeled and cut into even size chunks.
  • 100 ml double cream 
  • a good size knob of unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to season
Meat mixture:
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • approximately 400g leftover Roast Lamb meat coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1/2 leek sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1/2 celery stick finely chopped 
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • a small sprig of thyme
  • Any gravy/juices/stock saved from the joint, use for a sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • a good splash of red wine such as a cabernet sauvignon/merlot or Cotes du Rhone
  • a few splashes of Worcester sauce
  • a few grinds of cracked black pepper
  • Salt if needed or if too strong tasting, use a pinch of caster sugar to even out.

Method:
 * Boil potatoes in a pan of boiling water until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes adding the ingredients to it. Set aside.
  • preheat oven to 190c 
  • In a hot frying pan pop in your rapeseed oil and fry off your onion for about 2-3 minutes. Then add your celery and carrot and fry off for another minute.
  • Add in your leeks to the mixture, fry of for a further minute and then add in your garlic and thyme.
  • Add your chopped meat, gravy/juices,tomato puree, Worcester sauce, wine, pepper stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Taste as you go along and you can add more wine or water as you wish if it becomes dry.
  • When the mixture is reduced down to a gravy like sauce and the meat is tender again pop into a pie dish, top with your mash and roughen the mash with a fork.
  • Then place into the oven for another 20 minutes or when the topping is golden brown and bubbling at the edges. 

*  Serve on its own or with some green vegetables and a glass of red. 







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.