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?
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
There is something I find quite comforting with a fried rice dish. In British takeaways or restaurants we tend to order it as a side dish but I find it a great supper in-itself.
I feel sometimes people are a little unsure and daren’t try to cook Chinese favourites at home but they really are easy to do.
The key to a successful fried rice is to always make sure your rice is cooked and cooled down to cold before frying it in the wok, else hot rice to a hot pan just will stick together. My recipe is done from scratch or you could cook your rice the day before.
I have used King Prawns but you could substitute to Chicken, turkey or Pork.
This is a delicious meal that only takes 15 minutes to do, so is perfect when you need to get food on the table fast. Just don’t forget the chopsticks!
Easy king prawn and egg fried rice:
- 250g Long grain rice
- 2-3 tbsp Rapeseed oil ( can burn quickly, just be careful ) or use vegetable, or groundnut oil
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- A thumbnail size of fresh Ginger grated
- 2 eggs
- 2-3 Spring onions chopped (save some for on top at the end)
- a few leaves of green pak choi chopped
- tbsp of light soy sauce or superior light ( found in Chinese supermarkets. Mine was from Wang Fung Hong in Leicester )
- tbsp of Oyster sauce ( Wang Fung Hong )
- cracked black pepper to season
- Cook rice to packet instructions. In a sieve or fine colander under cold water rinse the rice until all cold, not sticky and no water at all. Pop aside.
- Heat a little oil in your wok and once hot pop in your scrambled eggs, just folding in the wok until almost cooked, do not scramble vigorously.Then place aside in a bowl.
- Place some oil in your wok again and start to fry off some of your spring onions, pak choi, stir, then add in garlic and ginger for only about 30 seconds.
- Pop in your sauces to your veg, stirring, then add in your Rice, stir or toss all around the wok allowing the sauce to coat your rice. Add in your prawns and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Then stir in your cooked eggs from before, stir and add some pepper to season.
– Once all is perfectly hot, serve into bowls and place on some finely chopped spring onion.
I have found myself baking a lot of these style of tarts over the last couple of months, as It’s that time of year when a lot of British produce is in abundance and the weather is starting to warm up. So we find ourselves entertaining a lot more outside and wanting lighter meals. If I’m invited to somewhere such as a garden party or a BBQ this is a great alternative to turn up with.
This style of tart is also very easy to swap your ingredients around. I, in fact did a tomato and aubergine one with lots of herbs on the other week and it went down a storm. However this one I feel is much better for this time of year as our peas are in season now so you can even pod them yourself for it. Also with the added pea shoots on top, there’s an extra burst of sweetness.
If you are growing your own vegetables like me and you’ve got a row of Peas, maybe not quite as many as you hoped for, then do this recipe.
This is quick and simple to make, great for using up odd potatoes that you have and possibly that Packet of Pastry that’s in the freezer. A dish that shows Seasonality at its best.
Potato and pea tart
Small handful of plain Flour for sprinkling
– Half a block of ready to roll Puff Pastry ( 250g)
– A handful of New potatoes or 4 medium sized Potatoes sliced very thinly
– 2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
– 2 Spring onions chopped finely
– 1 finely chopped garlic clove
– A good handful of British podding peas blanched for a minute or 2 or you can use
Petit pois defrosted and drained
– Sea Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
– Handful of grated mozzarella to sprinkle on top
– Handful of pea shoots to finish with
* Preheat Oven to 200c
* In salted boiling water blanch your potato slices for only 2-3 minutes, drain and run cold water over them to allow to cool
* Half your 500g black of pastry, Roll out half on a floured work surface with a rolling pin until about 3-4 ml thick.
* Place some baking parchment on a baking tray and pop your pastry on top
* About a cm 1/2 in make a border around the edges with a knife but only slightly ( not all the way through) and then prick your tart within those boundaries with a fork
* Place your sliced potatoes on top some salt and pepper and brush with a little rapeseed oil. Pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes (once the potatoes start to brown around the edges)
* Then pop on your Garlic, spring onion and cheese and cook for a further 5 minutes. If you feel your pastry is cooking too quickly then turn the oven down slightly to 190c.
* After 5 minutes pop on your peas and pop back into the oven for approximately another 5 minutes or until your pastry is nice and golden brown and cooked in the middle.
* Sprinkle with your pea shoots and you’re done!
Last thing you need on a Sunday is to have yourself slaving over a Hot Stove cooking a Large Roast Dinner. Especially now the weather is beginning to become slightly warmer.
In this recipe, yes it does take some time, however, it is all in one pot as you can leave it to carry on with your Planned activities. Of course, it isn’t just a recipe specifically for Sunday’s but I chose this as an easier option for you.
This Recipe is Light, Fresh and Easy to do. You don’t want to overpower this either with bold flavours as you want to capture that Lovely Spring taste of the Lamb, the Sweetness of those Peas popping away in your mouth and a favourite of mine…The Pearl Barley being velvety along the stew’s juices.
I have used stewing Lamb in this as the bones will give the extra flavour you need. I personally like to pick up the Bones with my Hands and get every last Morsel I can Find.
A dish like this is always a great winner for me when you can pop it down as a talking point on the dinner table, tuck in and not to forget, there is a MUST for some Crispy Bread to mop up those last bits that have been sitting patiently at the bottom of your bowl.
This Recipe capture’s seasonality at its best, It can be done quite inexpensively and will have you craving for more.
Spring Lamb Stew with Vegetables and Pearl Barley:
(Serves 4-6 people depending on size of Lamb pieces you buy)
– 1 Kg Of British Stewing Lamb (approximately 8 pieces) You could use Neck of Lamb also
– 1 Tbsp of Rapeseed Oil
– A Splash of Dry White Wine
– 2 Onions Roughly Chopped
– 2 Large Garlic Cloves finely Diced
– 3 Tbsp’s Tomato Puree
– Homemade Chicken stock or 1 Stock pot (Knorr) to every 4 pieces of Lamb you have
– A good handful of Chantennay Carrots ( 200g roughly) Halved lengthways
– 100g Pearl Barley cooked before hand in a little Chicken stock
– 4 medium potatoes diced into cubes of 6. I used Shannon but any will do.Could even use new season Baby ones.
– 1 Large Leek sliced a centimetre thick.
– 5-6 Spring onions Sliced into 4
– Small Sprig of Rosemary chopped finely
– 100g of Petit Pois
– A few sprigs of Fresh Mint chopped finely
– A couple of Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley chopped finely
– Salt and Pepper to season
* Take your Lamb Pieces and pat dry with Kitchen Paper. Season Your Lamb with Salt and pepper if required.
* In a Heavy bottomed Casserole Dish/Large Saucepan heat up the Rapeseed oil and start to sear of the Lamb just till browned on the outside. Placing each pieces of Lamb into a separate dish once browned on the outside.
* Fry off your Chopped Onions for a minute or two.
* Add your splash of White wine to de glaze your large saucepan( allow juices to come away) Add Your Lamb, Chicken Stock and 2 Tbsp’s of Tomato puree. Cover with water covering everything.
* Simmer away for 1/1/2 – 2 hrs adding water when needed.
* Cook your Pearl Barley to packet instructions with a little chicken stock added and leave to one side.
* After 2 hours or when the Lamb is starting to soften and theres about 30 mins to go. Then add your Carrots, Garlic and Rosemary.
* Then pop in your potatoes after another 5 minutes.
* When your carrots are starting to soften, add your Leeks, rest of your tomato puree and the Cooked Pearl Barley.
* After another 5 minutes add your Spring Onions and Petit Pois. Only cook for a further 2-3 minutes
* By now the lamb should be falling off the bones and the veg all cooked. Now Finish with your Chopped Fresh Mint and Parsley
* Finally, Serve into Bowls with Crusty Bread