It’s very easy to grab our favourite comfort foods at this time of year as the weather starts to change but we need to also keep eating something thats going to be good for us. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to be having soups and stews but we still require something light.
This Autumnal warm salad will boost that vitamin c needed. It is super easy and looks great and colourful. You can also put some squashes in there including using up Pumpkin if you like, which is perfect for this time of year.
Those earthy flavours just burst out into this salad pairing perfectly with the honey, fennel and goats cheese. This mixture could even go onto a puff pastry tart or a great pizza topping.
This recipe is for my regular cooking slot on BBC Radio Leicester. Ady Dayman filled in for Ben Jackson who I usually do the show with. I have to admit though, I have felt shocking over the past couple of days. I have been really ill, even as I write this so the recording isn’t usually as thorough as it normally is. I do apologise! However I could’nt let my listeners down and plodded on through as I enjoy doing the show much. More reason why I did this dish really so I could try and boost my immune system!
Click here to hear the recording.
Roast Autumnal salad of beetroot, carrots, goats cheese, honey and fennel:
- Roughly 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil.
- A good handful of fresh beetroot 3-4 good size peeled and chopped into chunks ready for roasting.
- 3 good size carrots peeled and sliced into chunks for roasting also.
- 2 red onions chopped into chunks.
- Sprinkle of salt and cracked black pepper to season.
- 1 tbsp honey ( I used local Leicestershire honey )
- a good sprig of lemon thyme, thyme and oregano ( If you can’t get lemon thyme, use a little lemon in there )
At the end of roasting add :
- Handful of fennel fronds/tops chopped loosely
- chopped chives
- 2 handfuls of your choice of greens for the salad. I used mizuna in mine, but you can use any peppery salad such as rocket, watercress or even Spinach.
- 100-150 grams of goats cheese crumbled
- Any oil and honey left in the roasting dish. Use to drizzle over the salad.
- Preheat oven to 180c.
- Par boil carrots for 5 minutes, just to soften them slightly.
- Roast Beetroot for 10- 15 minutes in Rapeseed oil
- Then add in your carrots and roast for a further 5-10 minutes.
- Then pop in your Red onion and herbs. At this point add more oil if needed and coat all vegetables in honey.
- Place back into the oven and roast for a further 10 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. I like to have my beetroot still having a little bite as it tastes more earthy.
- Once out of the oven , add fennel and chives to the mixture. Sprinkle in the goats cheese.
- Place on top of your leaves or toss together. Add any oil and honey from the roasting tin and more goats cheese if you wish.
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?
It’s Chinese New year this weekend, the year of the Rooster and what better way to celebrate the coming of a new Spring with these lovely Spring rolls. They also are meant to represent wealth by looking like “Gold bars”.
I started to create these recipes by using one wrapper per spring roll which they do work like that, however will either break or go a little soggy after a short period of time. So because I have done smaller sized ones, I simply doubled up on the wrappers and they work wonders!
If you are celebrating the Chinese new year or want to be involved these are incredibly so simple to make.
If you wanted to do a vegetarian version, simply leave out the prawns and pork (obviously) and then add in maybe some beansprouts and chestnut mushrooms.
I don’t normally deep fry a lot of food so this recipe is a true treat. It makes a great starter to a meal or just simply a great snack for other times of the year.
Here is a link where you can hear me on BBC Radio Leicester with Ben Jackson and simply going through how to make them for you! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04qz7r3
( Serves approximately 24 spring rolls )
- 250g Pork Mince chopped/bashed down again with a meat cleaver or strong knife.
- Half a bag of 225g Frozen king prawns ( defrosted ) and then chopped as fine as you can get them. – These are still great flavour to fresh but cheaper in price.
- 1/2 227g tin of water chestnuts chopped
- 1-2 carrots depending on size, into strips using a veg peeler.
- 2-3 leaves of Chinese cabbage/lettuce or you could use pak choi shredded.
- 2-3 spring onions finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 thumbnail size amounts of fresh ginger grated
- 1 tsp of Chinese five spice ( I used Spice Kitchen’s blend )
- a handful of fresh coriander chopped
- a good pinch of caster sugar
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce.
– 1 packet of spring roll wrappers/pastry, defrosted. ( I used 250g weight ones but any other size, you can cut them down.
– 1ltr bottle of vegetable oil or groundnut oil.
– 2 tbsp of cornflour mixed with a little water for your “Glue”
– A wok to deep fry in!
- Place a damp towel over your spring roll pastry to keep them moist.
- Put all ingredients for the filling into a mixing bowl and mix through.
- Heat your oil in the wok. Pop in a piece of bread to see when it is ready for deep frying.
- Onto a plate take two of your wrappers and place the square into a diamond shape, so as a corner is facing you.
- Take a tablespoon of your mixture and place it in the centre of your parcel, making a rectangular shape.
- Fold the corner into the middle which is nearest to you, then fold in the outer corners to the centre of the spring roll. A bit like an envelope.Tuck in and roll to the centre. Place some of your cornflour mixture around the top corner to form a ” glue” and roll into your spring roll.
- Pop into hot oil and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
- Take out with a slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen paper.
- Simply serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.
At Christmas time, scallops always make their way into my Kitchen. I don’t get chance to eat them very often because of their cost so they become an indulgent treat at Christmas.
I have done many starter recipes with scallops so I thought I would share one of my festive ones with you.
Scallops are a great starter for Christmas Day or anytime really over the festive period as they are so quick to cook plus they only need a few ingredients alongside as you don’t want to overpower their sweet subtle taste. Personally I find if you buy large scallops, 3 can be ample for each person but thats your choice.
This recipe you will be able to knock up in 15 minutes to impress your guests. A festive, seafood, showstopper that really is simple to do.
My Festive Scallops:
- 1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
- a couple of knobs of unsalted butter
- 12 Large scallops
- 3 rashers of Smoked bacon trim most of the rind off but leave a little fat to give flavour
- 150g frozen petit pois defrosted
- 3 clementines segmented keep the rest for juice later.
- small handful fresh mint chopped
- a good splash of Prosecco or fruity sauvignon blanc
- Chop your bacon into very small squares. Fry in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes, just until starting to colour. Pop aside on a plate leaving the fat in the pan.
- Pop some boiling water into a saucepan and empty in your peas. Boil for no more than 2 minutes as you want to keep their colour. Drain, add a knob of butter and your chopped mint, shake and cover with a lid. Set aside.
- To cook the scallops, add a knob of butter and a splash of rapeseed oil to the frying pan and heat until hot but allowing not to burn. Place your scallops in the pan and cook for roughly 2 minutes, do not turn until caramelised on each side. Then do the other side.
- Set your scallops aside onto a warm plate and then add your bacon back into the frying pan, deglaze with your wine and reduce down for about a minute. Add in your clementine segments and a little spritz of the juice. Once reduced to a syrup texture you are ready to plate up.
* Place pea mixture onto the plate, top with your scallops and pour over your bacon and clementine syrup.
I thought I’d share with you another recipe from my column that I did a couple of months back. This dish has been in my life for a long time and I always make these for many different occasions. I even make them for just a snack, they are that moorish!
So, I think the earliest memory of me having a version of this dish, must have been when I was only about 4 years old. But back then, they would wrap it all up in a large lettuce leaf. It is quite a retro dish for these days but I have come up with a version that I feel never dates or fails.
The sauce is something I have been having for years with these, noodle soups and Chinese dumplings so I thought I’d share that with you too. When you drizzle that sauce on top, it will give it a real kick.
I love serving these little cups when entertaining, they always look great served up on trays for people and they always seem to get an “ooh” when they come round. You can also use this recipe for a starter one night, a light Lunch or even on a Chinese banquet as my “Chinese nights” always seem to end up as!
They are very quick to prepare and they don’t break the bank to buy the ingredients either.
Lately I’ve being seeing a lot of Pork mince reduced so if you aren’t sure what to do with it, buy it and fear no longer.
Chinese pork lettuce cups:
– 1 tbsp of Rapeseed oil or you can use, sunflower or groundnut oil
- Pork mince 35og will make about 12 cups
- Half a green chilli chopped finely
- 4 Spring onions, half of pork mix, half for garnishing
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice blend ( I use Spice Kitchen )
- 1 tbsp of Light soy sauce ( Mine is from Wang Fung Hong in Leicester )
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- small grating of fresh Ginger (about a small thumbnail amount)
- 2 Little Gem lettuces
- For the garnish: Thinly sliced cucumber
Thinly sliced Spring onion
Thinly sliced carrot (julienned)
Handful of fresh chopped coriander
Red chilli chopped finely
- 2 tbsp of Sriracha sauce ( Mine is from Wang Fung Hong)
- 1 tbsp of malt vinegar
- 1 tbsp Tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- sprinkle of chilli flakes ( put more if you want it hotter )
- sprinkle of caster sugar
N.B If you find the sauce is too tangy, sometimes I add 1/2 tbsp Oyster sauce to this also.
- In a wok or a frying pan start to fry off the spring onion, garlic, chilli and ginger for only a minute.
- Add your pork mince and stir for a couple of minutes breaking up all clumps of the meat.
- As your pork mince is starting to turn brown, add in your Chinese five spice and again, stir for a couple of minutes
- Add in your soy sauce, stir and when your Pork is cooked, turn your heat down just to keep warm.
* Assemble your Pork mince into the lettuce cups, garnish and serve with your sauce.