Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Lamb with Port & Prunes

Hubby happened to have Monday off work, this meant he was running round doing a bit of shopping here, a few odd jobs there and unusually having dinner ready for my return from work.  The previous night we happened to catch one of Nigel Slater's 12 Tastes of Christmas and were both drooling over the Mulled Lamb he made.  It looked utterly scrumptious so Hubby decided that would be Monday's dinner.  He found the recipe on the BBC.co.uk/food site.

Mulled Lamb or
Lamb with Port & Prunes

Serves 4

1 tsp cardamom pods, seeds only
1 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp cinnamon - ground
3 tbsp groundnut oil
 600g lamb neck fillet, cut into chunks
12 baby shallots
1 tbsp flour
300ml port
800ml lamb or beef stock
300g dried prunes
1 cinnamon stick
Pomegranate seeds and mint leaves - We did not have

Preheat oven to 180oc/GM4
In a pestle & mortar grind the cumin and cardamom seeds, then add the ground cinnamon.
Mix the spices with the oil and rub the paste over the lamb chunks.
In a heavy bottomed casserole pan fry the lamb in more oil until browned, remove from the pan and put to one side.  Add the shallots to the pan and fry for 5 minutes until golden then return the lamb to the pan.
Stir in the flour and cook through.
Pour in the port and the stock, add the prunes and cinnamon stick.  Season well
Cover and bake for an hour or more
Serve with pomegranate seeds and mint.

This turned out to be a most unctuous, rich, glossy dish.  The spices and port were exotic yet comforting and the prunes added a lovely sweetness, the lamb was so tender just falling apart.  I served with cabbage, but next time would make a pile of cous cous to soak up the yummy sauce and make sure we have the pomegranate and mint as I think they would cut through the richness and give it a little more balance, but it was really so delicious that instead of saving two portions for later, we scoffed the lot!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Rabbit Ragu

To go along with our Game Terrine on our Game Night Part Deux, hubby and I decided on a rabbit dish.  A brief trundle along the internet brought up a Jamie Oliver recipe for 12 hour Rabbit Bolognase and as we have known from previous experience all Jamie Oliver's recipes "just bloody work", so of course we had to give it a go and let me tell you there is nothing but fun and enjoyment from this recipe!

Yes, it takes a long time, but for most of it you have to do bugger all, the oven takes the strain and you are left with a truly wonderful rich, unctuous ragu that really does serve 14 people as a little goes a long way so very cost efficient, it has left us with plenty to freeze.

Rabbit Ragu
Serves 14

Olive oil
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 whole rabbit, skinned but with offal
1 bulb of garlic, left whole
2 leeks, chunky chopped
2 carrots, chunky chopped
2 celery sticks, chunky chopped
2 red onions, halved
20g dried porcini mushrooms
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
500ml light beer, we used Pedigree
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 nutmeg for grating
Fresh thyme

Pre-heat oven to 110oc/ 1/4 GM.  In a large casserole pan heat the olive oil and add the bacon.  Cook until lightly golden then add the bay leaves, rosemary rabbit and offal.  Tip over the garlic, leek, carrot, celery, onions and dried mushrooms.  Pour over the tinned tomatoes, beer, tomato puree and just enough water to cover everything.  Bring to the boil and season well.  Grate over half the nutmeg and pop into the oven for 12 hours.  We did this just before going to bed and awoke to wonderful smells from the kitchen all night.

Fresh out of the oven after 12 hours.

The following morning we took the dish out of the oven and left to cool, then with a couple of mixing bowls at the ready went through the ragu a small handful at a time picking out the bunny bones and stalky bits of veg, the rest of the veg was squished and the rabbit flaked.  Go though this twice, because you will miss some of those tiny bones.  Pour everything back into the pan and when ready to serve, re-heat, check the seasoning, add the zest of a lemon and some thyme tips. 

Serve over 'big' pasta, like tagliatelle or penne, something that will really hold the sauce, grate over some Parmesan and om nom, nom
After being 'sieved' by hand and meat shredded.

Game Terrine

I recently went to a Game Demo & Dine Evening, run by the wonderful Seasoned Cookery, with whom I had done a couple of their cookery courses and found them most enlightening and enjoyable.  This evening was no exception.  We were greeted with a glass of wine and canapes, were given a talk by the owner of Catton Hall which supplied the game, watched a demonstration on how to produce Game Terrine and Partridge served two ways then ate the aforementioned Terrine and Partridge dishes, they were delicious and a great evening was had by all.  So much so Hubby and I decided to replicate the Terrine later in the week:

Game Terrine
Serves 8-10

1 tbsp olive oil
225g partridge breast, cut into slices
160g pheasant breast, cut into slices
320g duck breast, cut into slices (our original recipe called for pigeon, but we would net get hold of any)
250g rindless dry cure streaky bacon
450g sausage meat.  I used good quality pork sausages and removed the skins
250g chicken livers
3 bay leaves
100g white bread, crusts removed
2 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh parsley (which I forgot to add!!)
6 juniper berries, crushed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp Marsala

Pre-heat oven to 170oc.  Heat oil in a pan and fry the breasts for 2-3 minutes to seal the meat.  Season and put to one side to cool.
Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with 4 sheets of clingfilm, so it overhangs.  Place the bay leaves in the bottom.
Stretch the bacon with the back of a knife and line the tin, leaving a little overhanging, reserve 3 rashers for the top of the terrine.
Put the bread, sage, parsley, juniper and garlic into a food processor and blitz to fine breadcrumb.
Add the sausage meat and chicken livers, blitz again
Add egg and Marsala, season well and blitz once more to bring it all together.

Add a layer of the sausage meat mix to the base of the tin, then press in the a layer of game breasts.
A further layer of sausage meat and continue layering, making sure the final layer is sausage meat.
Fold over the bacon, adding the reserved rashers. Wrap over the cling film and cover with foil.
Place the tin inside a roasting tray and fill the tray have full with boiling water.  Cook in oven for 90 to 120 minutes until the juices run clear.
Remove from the oven and weigh down the terrine with a house brick wrapped in foil of some other heavy weight.
Leave the terrine to cool and then place in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill and set.

Once chilled, turn out and slice.  I served with a shop bought spiced plum chutney, that I heated in a pan and added a dash of cranberry balsamic vinegar, and a toasted slice of Hubby's sourdough bread.

 A very tasty, rich dish, that is easy enough to prepare, just a little time consuming, but made the day before your meal take the pain out of it.  Does make a stunning starter.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Squash & Turkey Bake

Having a pack of turkey mince in the fridge and none of my usual turkey mince recipes hitting my gastric juices I went in search of something a bit more 'punchy'.  This search led me to the BBC.co.uk/Food website and a recipe from the delightful Nigel Slater.  A recipe that take the humble if not a little bland but oh so good for you if you are watching your weight turkey mince and turns it into a flavour packed and colourful baked dish, perfect for dreary, dark and cold Autumn evenings.

Squash & Turkey Bake
Serves 4  Est WW Pro Points per Serving 9

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
500g turkey mince
1 tbsp flour
400ml red wine
splash Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp butter
a scratch of orange zest

Preheat oven to 200oc/GM6.  Steam the butternut squash until soft about 25mins.
Heat half the oil of a large pan and gently soften the onion and garlic, then add in the mushrooms and thyme, fry until soft then transfer to a mixing bowl.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the turkey mince, season with S&P and stir in the flour.  Cook for a couple of minutes then pour in the red wine and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, stir and then bring to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes to reduce slightly.  Tip the onions and mushrooms back in and cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn out in to your baking dish.

Mash the butternut squash and stir through the butter and a little grating of orange zest, Season to taste then pile the mash on top of the turkey mixture.  Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes.

I served with sprouts and a spiced red cabbage and it certainly made a punchy colourful meal.  Perfect for cheering up these dark nights.  Plus the left over wine was a perfect accompaniment.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

Another little recipe, packed full of flavour from Weight Watchers.

Chicken Cacciatore
Serve 2 11 Pro Points per serving

One cal spray
1 tbs parsley-chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, diced
125g mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
ground pepper
150g pasta, dried weight
300g chicken breast, cut into chunks
400g can chopped tomatoes

Cook pasta and keep warm.
Spray saucepan with one cal and heat up to a medium temp, add onion, garlic, pepper and mushrooms, saute for 4 mins until tender.  Add chicken and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add basil, curry S&P.

Pour in tomatoes, I also added a handful of frozen peas at this point, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 mins, partially covered with a lid. Stir in parsley.  Spoon over the pasta and serve.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Very Slow Cooked Maple & Mustard Pulled Pork

This recipe takes an age, but it is so very worth it.  It is taken from the November editon of Good Food Magazine and takes slow roasting to a new level, but the results are spectacular.

Maple & Mustard Pulled Pork
Serves 6 or more or less depending how greedy you are.
Cooking: Takes 8 hours give or take

2kg pork shoulder
200g sea salt
300g light muscavado sugar
100g maple syrup
100g wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp English mustard powder

Take one pork shoulder, I had bone in with skin on.  I thought I would make a passing nod to my diet, so I got hubby to cut away the rind and some of the fat (have kept it in case I want crackling further down the line ;))

Mix the salt and 200g of sugar then rub all over the pork,place in a dish, cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge overnight.

The next day wipe down the pork with kitchen roll to remove the salt and sugar mixture, you will see a change in the colour and texture of the pork.

Heat the oven to 140oc/120oc fan/GM1.  Mix up the remaining sugar, maple syrup, mustard and mustard powder and some ground pepper. Rub half of the mixture over the pork.  Place the pork on a rack in a roasting tin and roast uncovered for 6 hours.

Spoon the rest of the mixture over the pork and roast for a further hour.

Remove the meat from the tin and rest, covered loosely with foil.

I turned the sauce in the bottom of the tin into a sweet, tasty gravy by placing over heat and bringing to the boil, scooping off the bits of sugar that clumped together, sprinkle in some flour and add stock, stirring all the time and reduce.

The meat is tender enough to pull apart, which would be great for popping straight into bread rolls and served with a tangy red cabbage as the original recipe called for, but as I was cooking this for a Sunday lunch (and had been up at 6am to put the joint in the oven) we carved the meat (well, carved the meat that was not picked at as soon as it came out of the oven, as the gannets clamoured for the sweet, crispy end bits)

The recipe was so delicious, neither the maple or the mustard too overpowering, certainly one to do again as it was a bit of a showstopper without taking up too much of your own time as the oven does all the work.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Aubergine Curry

Looking for a light non-meat dish I came across this from Allrecipes.co.uk.

It was super quick and easy to make and was wonderfully spiced.  The recipe serves 4 as an accompaniment, but I used it to serve two as a main.

Aubergine Curry
Serves 2, 13 WW Pro Points per serving, inc rice

1 large aubergine
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp grated ginger root
1/2 tbsp grated garlic
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tomatoes diced
110g low fat plain yoghurt
1 green chilli chopped
1 tsp salt
finely chopped fresh coriander to garnish
150g brown rice (dried weight) cooked and kept warm

Preheat the oven to 220oc GM8, place the aubergine on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until tender, remove, cool and then peel and chop.

Heat oil in a pan, over a medium heat mix in the cumin and onion, fry until the onion is tender.  Stir in the ginger, garlic, curry powder and tomato, cook for a minute and stir in the yoghurt aubergine and chilli.  Season then cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove cover and reduce heat but continue cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Serve over the rice and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Lamb Tagine

This is another wonderful Hairy Biker's inspired diet recipe.  As with the previous recipe in their book it is for 5 people, I have re-worked it for 2 people. A wonderfully spiced dish, which I would think could work very well in a slow cooker.

Lamb Tagine
Serves 2, 17 WW Pro Points per serving

300g lean lamb leg steak, trimmed of fat and cubed, season with S&P
2 tbsp dried fruit (HB's called for apricots, but I only had a raisin, sultana & cherry mix)
1 can chick peas, drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp oil
1 onion, halved and sliced
100g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2.5cm chunks
2 garlic cloves, chopped
200ml water
Lamb stock cube

Set oven for 180oc/Fan GM4. Heat oil in a casserole dish, add the seasoned lamb, onion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.  Sprinkle over the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chili, cook for a further 2 minutes, remove from heat before the spices burn.

Tip in the tomatoes and water, honey and chickpeas.  Crumble to stock cube over the top and stir well.  Bring to a simmer then cover and cook in oven for 45 minutes.  Stir in the sweet potato and dried fruit/apricots and return to the oven for a further 45 mins or until the lamb is tender.

Serve with some chopped parsley and a little grated lemon zest and a side of green beans.

Chicken Paprikash

This is another of the Hairy Bikers Diet recipes.  In their cook book it is for 6 people, but I reduced it down to two people as follows.  A great dish which is perfect for my seeming addiction for chicken and tomato dishes!

Paprika Chicken
Serves 2, 13 WW pro points per serving

200g chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
1 tsp cornflour, heaped, made up with a little water
2 tsp olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp plain or smoked paprika
200ml chicken stock
bay leaf
2 peppers one red, one green
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
To serve
300g potatoes boiled and crushed
2 tbs half fat creme fraich

Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions until softened and slightly coloured, cut the chicken into nice bite sized pieces season with pepper and add to the pan.

Cook for 5 minutes until lightly coloured add the garlic and paprika, cook for a further minute.  Pour in the tomatoes and stock, add bay leaf and dried herbs.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Take the peppers deseed and cut into chunky pieces, add to the chicken and continue cooking for a further 20 mins.

Mix up the cornflour and add to the pan, stir until thickened.

Serve with crushed potatoes and a tablespoon on half fat creme fraiche.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Chicken Jafrezi

I love the Hairy Bikers shows, they way they cram flavour into food and totally love the excess they pack into their recipes and how they obviously love food, so I was rather surprised when their latest venture was The Hairy Dieters - How To Love Food and Lose Weight. Selection of recipes HERE 

Having watched the show and seen that they lost several stone between them and as I was a little impasse with my own diet I rushed out to get their latest cook book.  It was out of stock and remained so for a couple of weeks, even on amazon!  When I finally did get my grubby little fingers on a copy I was amazed, they have managed to pack so much flavour into their recipes and reduce the calories.  A cook fest ensued.

This is the first recipe I tried, I halved the quantities to suit two people and it worked out about 18 WW pro points per serving including 75g dry weight of rice.

Chicken Jalfrezi
Serves 4, 270 calories per portion (exclusive of rice)

6 long green chillies
4 skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp Maldon salt
200ml cold water
2 tbsp low fat plain yoghurt
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tomatoes quartered
2 tsp cornflour, made up with 1 tbsp water

Chop 4 of the chilies, deseed a couple of them first if you don't want it too hot. Split the other two base to stalk.  Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan.  Add the garlic, chopped chillies, chopped tomatoes, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, sugar & salt, fry until soft, but don't burn the spices.

Add the chicken and whole chillies and cook for a few minutes turning the chicken frequently.  Pour over the 200ml water and stir in the yoghurt, reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, heat the remainder of the oil in a frying pan and stir fry the onion and pepper over high heat until lightly browned.  Add the quartered tomatoes and fry for a further 2 minutes

Mix up the cornflour and water.  Once the chicken is cooked stir in the cornflour mix and simmer for a few seconds, stirring until the sauce thickens.  Remove from the heat and then add the stir fried vegetables.  Mix together and serve over rice and revel in just how damn good this is.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chicken Teriyaki and Broccoli

Really, the Weight Watchers recipes have saved me so many times, they are all super easy and well balanced.  This is another one from their website.

Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli
Serves 4 Pro Points per serving 7

450g Chicken breast, cut into cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 spring onions, sliced
120ml chicken stock from cube
2 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce
320g boiled rice
350g broccoli, cut into florets
100g green beans sliced
one cal spray

Spray a non stick pan and fry the garlic.  Add the chicken and cook until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Add the spring onions, stock and teriyaki sauce and simmer until the chicken is cooked and sauce reduced again about 5 minutes.

Prior to this cook the rice and steam the broccoli and green beans.
Put the rice into bowls with the broccoli and beans and spoon over the chicken and sauce.

Simple and tasty.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Chorizo, Bulgar & Spinach Salad

A quick and easy, lets use whatever I find in the fridge dish, concocted over the weekend.  I call it salad for want of another name.

Chorizo, Bulgar and Spinach Salad
Serves 1 Approx WW Pro Points: 10 points

50g Chorizo, sliced
50g dried bulgar wheat made up in 200ml stock
1 small courgette chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
Handful mushrooms, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 portion spinach
2 tsp Harissa paste.

Make up the bulgar wheat as per packet instructions.

Pan fry the chorizo, I do not use any oil as the chorizo releases so much. Toss in the onion, garlic and soften.  Then add the courgette, pepper and mushrooms, stir in the Harissa and cook until tender. Add the spinach and wilt for 1 minute then mix in the bulgar wheat.  Serve.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Slow Roast Lamb with Fennel, Chilli & Oregano

Coming back from holiday, leaving the hot sunny days in Mallorca, back to the grey, overcast and cool days of England will make everyone feel the Post Summer Holiday Blues.  To cheer ourselves up I decided on a slow roast half shoulder of lamb, as well you know a favourite of mine.  This time I tried something a little different.

Slow Roast Lamb with Fennel, Chilli and Oregano

1 x half shoulder lamb
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 can chopped tomatoes
2 or more sprigs fresh oregano
2 tsp oil

Put the garlic, fennel, Chilli and part of the oregano into a pestle & mortar and bash about a bit. Mix with the oil the rub over the lamb, leave for a hour.

Put the lamb into a roasting tin and pour over the chopped tomatoes add seasoning and mix everything together, add the rest of the oregano.  Cover with foil and place into the over set at 160oc fan/150oc and leave to cook for 3 hours or so.  Turn the lamb halfway through so all sides get a chance to soak in the yummy sauce.

Remove the foil 30 mins from end of cooking time to crisp up slightly. Drain off some of the fat, the meat will just fall apart, serve with green beans and crushed potatoes.

The spices are delicate but very flavoursome, tinker around with the quantities to find what suits you.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Chicken, Leek & Tarragon Mini Pies

Still struggling with the rotation of iphone pictures, sometimes it works, sometimes not ... today is a not day!

Recently Hubby and I met up with family for a little picnic.  Once of our contributions were these lovely little mini pies.  A little preparation is required, but they were certainly worth it as the taste was fantastic and they were received very well indeed.

Chicken, Leek & Tarragon Mini Pies
Makes approx 12 if using deep muffin pan or 18 if using standard pie tray

500g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
1 medium egg, beaten

1.3kg FR chicken
1 stick of celery, rough chopped
1 large carrot, rough chopped
6 black peppercorns
Large bunch of fresh tarragon, chopped, leaving 3 sprigs for stock
Knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
100ml double cream

Put the chicken in a large pan of water, add the celery, carrot, pepper and tarragon sprigs.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 mins.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.  Strain the stock, then put back onto boil and redice for 10 mins.  Leave to cool.

Make the pastry, sift the flour and salt and mix, add the butter rub together till you have a breadcrumb consistency, then add 6-7 tbsp water and mix together into a ball.  Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth, form into a ball cover in clingfilm and place in fridge for 30 mins.

Heat the knob of butter in a frying pan and soften the onion and leek gently for 10 mins, stir in the flour and then cool.

Take the skin off the chicken and discard.  Gently shred the chicken, take 300g (saving the rest for other dishes) and add the chopped tarragon and the leek mixture, stir in the cream and 100ml of the reserved stock.  Season.

Pre-heat the oven to 220oc/200oc fan/GM7.  Take the pastry and divide off one third, set aside.  roll out remainder to about 3mm thick and cut out using approx 9cm dia form (11cm if using the deep muffin tin) place in the tin and spoon filling int the moulds.

Using the final third pastry roll out the lids and cut, using a smaller form.  Brush the edges with egg place on top, crimp together, brush lid with egg, cut a little cross on top.

Place in oven for 25mins.  Remove and cool slightly before transferring pies onto wire rack.  Eat!

Turkey Burgers

My new found love for turkey mince continues.  Honestly it is such a great replacement for mince beef and pork as long as it is spiced up well, it really lightens dishes points/calorie wise.  This receipe is another one from Weight Watchers and certainly satisfies those junk food cravings.

Turkey Burgers in Buns
4 servings Pro Points per serving 8

450g lean turkey mince
1 onion finely chopped
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp chilli flakes
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 medium buns at 50g each
sliced tomato
lettuce leaves
sliced pickles

Mix together the turkey mince, onion, herbs, chilli and Worcestershire sauce, season and form into 4 patties.

The WW receipe calls for grilling the burgers for 10 mins turning once, but I used one cal spray and pan fried them.

Lightly toast the split buns fill with burger, lettuce, tomato and pickle and yum-up.  As an extra at zero points I added some sliced mushrooms to the frying pan when cooking the burgers and popped them on top.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Turkey Lasagne

After months of near constant rain, that dragging feeling of a summer lost hit and I knew that a salad would not cut it last night, we needed comfort food.  In the past comfort food would have consisted of a 3" deep beef lasagne smothered in three types of cheese, oozing oil, but a year into Weight Watchers and 4 stone down, I could not bear the thought of undoing all my good work so I thought of a lighter variation, which I think worked rather well and gives you a very generous portion so you feel like you are being naughty when really you are not.

Turkey Lasagne
Serves 2 Approx WW Pro Points per serving 15

500g turkey mince
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 courgette, chunky chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chunky chopped
3 sheets dried lasagne pasta
One cal oil spray
1 tsp mixed herbs, dried
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
Squirt of tomato puree
Squirt HP brown sauce

White sauce
30g light soft cheese
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp corn flour, made up with a drop of water
100ml skimmed milk

Heat a pan and spritz in the oil, slow fry the onion, celery and carrot until soft, add the turkey mince and cook until coloured.  add the garlic, courgette, pepper, herbs, chopped tomatoes, puree and HP and seasoning.  Simmer away for an hour.

To make the white sauce put the soft cheese and milk into a small saucepan and whisk over heat. Add the cornflour mix and keep whisking until thickened, stir in the mustard and half of the Parmesan, add more milk if it gets too thick.

Heat the oven to 190oc.  Take an oven dish and spoon half of the turkey mixture in, pour over half the white sauce.  Lay on the three pasta sheets and top with the rest of the turkey and finish with the white sauce, sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan.  Pop into the oven for 30 minutes.  Serve.

Hearty, warming, decadent and utterly scrumptious.  Going heavy on the herbs and seasoning and by adding a dash of tangy HP really helps pack a punch and liven up boring old turkey.  Just enough pasta to not load up with carbs but feel like you are not missing out and jam packed with veg, next time I would probably reduce the amount of turkey mince used and toss in some quartered mushrooms.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Kidney in Red Wine with Chorizo

After hubby's last sortie to the kitchen, resulting in the Steak & Kidney Pudding, I was left with several unused lamb kidneys.  Unsure of what exactly to do with them and a bit loath to just chuck them out I consulted the Sainted Delia and came away with my version of this recipe.

Kidney in Red Wine with Chorizo
Serves 2 Est WW Points 10 per serving

6 Lamb kidneys, halved and with the core cut out
Large handful of mushrooms halved
1 glass red wine
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

40g chorizo
20g butter - naughty but nice
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp fresh thyme chopped

Melt the butter and gently soften the onions and garlic.  Add the chorizo and mushrooms and cook slowly for 10 mins. 
Add the prepared kidneys and cook them until they have a little colour. 
Sprinkle on the flour and stir in to soak up all the juices, pour in the wine and add the thyme and S&P.
Stir and bring up to a simmer.  Cover with a lid and leave to blip away for 15 mins, then remove lid and simmer for a further 10 mins.

I served with boiled new potatoes and cabbage and for an afterthought of a dish it turned out very well indeed.  A seemingly decadent dish that is rich on taste and low on cost.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Steak & Kidney Pudding

Hubby had another success in the kitchen at the weekend and managed to pull of THIS receipe from the Hairy Bikers.  It was truly scrumptious.  Again it was not a thing I would have attempted myself as I have an aversion to fiddly cooking and as I thought also to kidneys, but as it turned out it was a) not very fiddly, just time consuming b) I may have mentioned this already, was truly scrumptious! and c) I like kidneys

Hubby halved the recipe and used a .75ltr pudding basin which turned out perfectly for 3 people or two if you happen to be greedy (we were the latter).  He also added lots of fresh thyme to the suet pastry which not only smelt fantastic added a lovely zing to the dish.

He did have a little mental abberation when it came to the stock and added 4 times the amount of stock to the volume of liquid required, to me it just made the dish extra unctious and rich, but he was concerned that it was too strong, (I think it was perfect).

Served up with new potatoes and cubed swede, mmmm will have to encourage him to make this one again.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Hubby's little baking escapades are continuing with great results.  This easy slab of Focaccia came from the Hairy Bikers Big Book of Baking and was exceptionally tasty.

1 loaf

500g strong white flour
7g fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Maldon salt
1 tsp black pepper, course ground
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chilli flakes

Put flour, yeast sugar and salt into a bowl, mix oil with water and pour into mixture, mix together to form a rough ball.

Lightly flour a work surface and turn out the dough, knead for 5 mins to make smooth and soft. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour until twice the size.

Lightly oil a large baking tray.  Turn the dough out onto the floured surface, knock it back with your knuckles, then press into the baking tray pushing the dough to the edges.

Cover again with clingfilm and leave for a further 30 mins to prove.

Preheat the oven to 220oc/200oc fan.  The dough should now look rather puffed up and spongy.  Use your finger to poke dimples in the dough.  Drizzle the oil over the dough, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper rosemary and optional chili flakes.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

Monday, 18 June 2012

Pastitsio (or Beef Mac & Cheese)

Thinking back to our lovely summer holiday last year to the Greek Island of Kephalonia bought back memories of the great food to be had there, stifado, kleftico, baklava and so on.  So I rootled through my Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes cook book and found a hearty and naughty Greek dish to try, Pastitsio, which looks just a minced beef macaroni cheese, but tastes 10 times better with quite complex herbs and spices and gutsy red wine thrown into the mix.

Serves 8

500g Rigatoni or large tube pasta, dried
2 eggs, beaten
50g Parmesan grated or Greek Kefalotiri
10g fresh breadcrumbs

For white sauce
115g butter
115g plain flour
1.2 ltr milk - recipe called for full cream, I used semi skimmed
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg.

For meat sauce
4 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1kg minced beef, lean
200ml red wine
400g chopped tomatoes
2 tbs tomato puree
1 cinnamon stick
1/4tsp ground cloves - I used Allspice instead
1 tbs dried oregano
2 tbs fresh oregano, chopped - I did not have fresh, but it probably would have lifted the dish slightly.
3 bay leaves

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add garlic, celery & onion and fry until turning golden.  Add beef and fry over high heat until browned.  Add the red wine, tomatoes, puree, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, bay leaves along with 100ml water and S&P.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally.  Sauce should thicken slightly.  Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon and bay leaves.

Cook in boiling water the pasta, leaving it slightly al dente, drain and cool slightly.

For the white sauce, melt the butter in a pan and the flour and stir over heat for a minute, with a balloon whisk, beat in the milk and bring to the boil, if you have lumps keep whisking.  Season with nutmeg and S&P.

Preheat oven to 180oc.  Stir 250ml of the white sauce into the pasta with the beaten eggs and half the cheese.  In a large shallow ovenproof dish spread one third of the pasts and cover with half the meat sauce.  Add another third of pasta and the rest of the meat, finish with the final third of pasta and pour over the remaining white sauce. Sprinkling the top with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs.  Bake in oven for 40 minutes.

Serve with a green salad and plenty of gutsy red wine.