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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.





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.