The wind is just starting to calm down. Earlier it was howling around the outside of the house and the wind has a bitter chill to it. The weather is a little confusing somewhat at the moment as Spring is trying its best to break through. There’s even blossom on the trees already. Unless we are just left with bare branches from this storm!
Days like today need a bowl of comfort food for dinner and back in October last year I created this recipe that is perfect for today. I actually came up with it for my regular slot on BBC Radio Leicester for using up leftover Pumpkins but you could easily substitute it for Butternut squash. You will be able to knock this recipe up within 15 minutes. So stay warm and cozy away from Storm Gareth and I can guarantee you will be back for seconds.
- 2-3 tbsp rapeseed oil or oil of your choice
- 150g orzo pasta
- 1/4 medium sized pumpkin chopped into 1inch sized pieces
- 1 large red onion or 2 small red onions diced
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 slices of smoked bacon sliced
- A good sprig of fresh sage finely chopped
- 1/4 chicken gel stock pot
- 100 ml water roughly
- Handful of rocket chopped
- 50 g feta cheese crumbled
- handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- Preheat oven to 200 c fan. Place the pumpkin into a baking tray and drizzle with rapeseed oil. Cook for roughly 15 minutes or until starting to soften and sorting to brown around then edges.
- In a saucepan in water cook the Orzo to cooking instructions ( normally 10-15 mins)
- Then in a frying pan fry off in rapeseed oil the onion for about 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute or two.
- Add in your bacon and fry off until cooked and browned around the edges.
- By this time the pumpkin will be done so add to the frying pan the pumpkin and stir. Cook for a further minute. Add in your orzo pasta.
- Then add in your sage, chicken stock and water, stir and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Add in your feta, stir and then add in your rocket and parsley and you are ready to serve.
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?
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.
(Using leftover Roast Lamb)
Ingredients: (Serves 4 approximately )
- 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
- 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.
* Boil potatoes in a pan of boiling water until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes adding the ingredients to it. Set aside.
- 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.
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:
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
A few handfuls of Curly kale
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
sprinkle of sea salt to season and sugar
* 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.