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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Harissa salmon with wild garlic & herb couscous and roasted veg.

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Wild garlic is at is peak now for foraging and should be in most places over the UK in flower. I Love wild garlic and this year I have been experimenting more with it. I think people who come into my kitchen recently must be sick of smelling it, or even on me for that matter! ( Never thought about that until now! ) Also what is coming up great in my kitchen garden are the herbs. My fennel has lasted all through winter and is still going strong.

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One recipe that really stood out through developing was this one on how quick it takes to prepare and cook. Plus it is super healthy.

I don’t usually buy salmon purely on its cost and sustainability but I couldn’t get Loch trout which I would have used instead. I managed to find some Scottish salmon that was MSC certified which had a lovely taste.

Combining the lovely subtle fresh flavours of the wild garlic and herbs in the couscous makes this dish so light. I didn’t overpower the salmon either, just gives it a little gentle heat against everything else. This dish is perfect for lots of occasions and especially with Easter coming up it’s a lovely alternative if you don’t want to have Lamb or any other meats. One key factor to remember…Do not overcook the Salmon then it will keep it’s lovely flavour and just flake away nicely.

I paired this up with some lovely British tomatoes that look fantastic on the dish but if Im completely honest I don’t think they go with the rest of the dish. They have a beautiful taste roasted though. So that’s your choice on whether you put them on the dish or not.

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Ingredients:

(Serves 2)

Salmon:

  • 2 responsilbly sourced Salmon fillets ( I used Scottish )
  • 1 tsp of dry Harissa spice mix/rub ( I use Spice Kitchen )
  • 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil
  • Sprinkle of sea salt to season. I use pink himalayan salt on mine but any good quality will do.

Wild garlic and herb Couscous:

  • 150g of Couscous ( you might even have more left over for Lunch the next day )
  • 250ml of vegetable stock ( boiling water )or enough to just cover the Couscous
  • a handful of freshly picked wild garlic leaves, stalks off, washed and finely chopped ( Chiffonade )
  • A good handful of fresh herbs finely chopped such as: Chives, mint, green fennel or fronds of, chervil and parsley. If you can’t get the fennel or chervil use a little tarragon or dill.
  • A little salt and cracked black pepper to season if needed.

Roasted vegetables:

  • 1 small red onion roughly diced
  • 1 small red pepper diced roughly
  • 1 small yellow pepper roughly diced
  • 1 stick of celery chopped roughly
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Small handful of lemon thyme, (if you can’t get this use normal thyme and a little lemon zest at the end of roasting)
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season.
  • British Vittoria tomatoes on the side ( optional )

 

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Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180c fan.
  • Place vegetables in a roasting tin/dish with the lemon thyme and place in oven for 5 minutes.
  • Place Salmon after 5 minutes in a roasting dish, smother the harissa and oil over it, season and place in the oven also for approximately 12-15 mins or when salmon is cooked.

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  • Continue cooking the vegetables also.
  • Whilst these are in the oven together Pop your dry couscous into a bowl, cover with the vegetable stock and cover with cling film for 10 minutes. Leave aside.
  • At this point pop your tomatoes in the oven if you want to use them.
  • Then when all is ready in the oven, flake your couscous with a fork and will be fluffy at this point. Then add in your herbs and wild garlic, stir and leave to stand until all dished up together.
  • Serve altogether and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Spring Lamb chops with a wild garlic and herb butter, butterbean mash and a medley of veg:



Spring is underway now, tulips are in full bloom in gardens, birds are busy making nests and the weather is…well not the great today. However we have had some glorious days which means a certain Springtime ingredient is at it’s best now and that is wild garlic. I cannot get enough of this stuff every year and try and conserve it in ways I can enjoy it throughout the year. In this recipe, a butter. Once made and popped into the freezer, you certainly won’t be buying shop-bought Garlic bread anymore thats for sure!

This recipe is a quick way of turning some lamb chops into something a little bit more special using Spring’s seasonal ingredients. 
 The wild garlic butter gives colour and full flavour but still allowing the taste of lamb to come through.
 The butterbean mash gives an alternative to potatoes giving it a lighter feel and also being a little more frugal.
Finally, the medley of veg “ Petit pois a la Francais” is a lovely alternative to do as a side dish for this recipe, fish and chicken.



Here is the recording when I cooked this on BBC Radio Leicester with Ben Jackson showing just how simple, quick yet so effective this recipe can be :- LISTEN HERE




Spring Lamb chops with a wild garlic and herb butter, butterbean mash and a medley of veg:








Ingredients:
(serves 2)

  • 2-3 Spring lamb chops each depending on how big they are
  • 1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Sea salt ( I use pink himalayan but any will do ) and cracked black pepper to season

Wild garlic butter:

(Make this before hand and pop into the freezer)

  • A block of unsalted butter
  • a good handful of wild garlic ( if you haven’t got it, use normal garlic )
  • a handful of fresh herbs chopped- flat leaf parsley, basil, I had. You could use Rosemary instead if you wanted to.
  • 1/4-1/2 a lemon zest
  • season if you wish

Butterbean Mash:

  • 1 tin of Butterbeans drained and rinsed
  • a drizzle of rapeseed oil
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to season


Medley of Veg:

  • 6-7 lettuce leaves such as romaine, little gem or the innards of a round lettuce
  • a few handfuls of frozen peas ( roughly 150g ) petit pois or garden peas defrosted and drained.
  • 3-4 spring onions or baby leeks cut into 3 including the green ends
  • 1/4 gel pot of chicken stock
  • knob of butter
  • a couple of sprigs of garden mint chopped finely
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to season 




Method:

  • Just cover your butterbeans in a saucepan with water, bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • In the meantime oil your lamb…not your pan and heat up your frying pan. Cook your Lamb for about 4 minutes each side for rare, more time for more well done.
  • Drain your butterbeans and crush/mash with a masher only slightly, drizzle with oil and season. Keep warm.

  • Rest your Lamb for about 5 minutes.

  •   Whilst this is resting bring to the boil your stock in 200ml of water and a knob of butter. Also season.

  • Add in your Spring onions and cook for a minute, then add in your lettuce and peas, cover and cook for a further minute.

  • Drain most of the liquid, add in a little more butter. Season if needed more, Pop in your chopped mint and stir.

–  Melt your Wild garlic butter.


–  Everything is now ready to serve.