Orzo with Pumpkin, feta and bacon.

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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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

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Method:-

  • 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.

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?

Sausage, vegetable and apple traybake

This oven-roasted meal really is incredibly easy to make. Not to mention how inexpensive it is also.
 After a long day the last thing you need is to be slaving over the oven or even waiting a long time for something to cook. Plus, now that Autumn is making more of an appearance and becoming darker in the evenings this is the perfect comfort, pick me up food and with a little cheekiness from the cider I’ve popped in there.
 Ive used apples in this recipe as it just adds an extra burst of sweetness against the sausages and sage in there. Plus lots of people are giving them away due to bumper crops this year. 
  If you have a family get-together coming up or you just want to do a Sunday lunch thats a little easier, this is a perfect choice for that. Leftovers can be chopped up and put into a spicy tomato pasta bake.
 With the lovely colours it gives off, it truly is Autumn in one dish really.




Sausage, vegetable and apple traybake:






Ingredients:
(Serves 2)
–    1-2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 6 British sausages ( I used a Pork and chive variety)
  • 2 red onions sliced into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed and roughly chopped
  • 1 chicken stock cube crumbled over or half a gel pot
  • 1-2 parsnips roughly diced
  • 1 red pepper roughly diced
  • 1 orange pepper or yellow diced roughly
  • 2 apples, something like a British cox 
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and chopped into inch size chunks
  • a good sprig of thyme
  • a few fresh sage leaves
  • 200ml Apple cider
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey 
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season
  •  
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 190c. In a frying pan, brown off the sausages.
  • Coat all vegetables in oil, ( not the peppers or apples yet )and pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
  •   After 15 minutes coat the vegetables with the honey and mustard, add the peppers, thyme, garlic, stock and seasoning.
  • Place the sausages in between the veg and pour into your frying pan the cider to get all the sticky juice from the sausages.then pour that into your traybake.

*  Pop back into the oven for a further 15 minutes. After that put your apples and sage in-between the sausages and veg and pop back into the oven for approximately another 15 minutes or when all golden and cooked.



I couldn’t help diving in with a knife and fork before even serving it up, it was THAT nice!