Tag Archives: Recipe

Sausages in Onion and Tomato Sauce

Sausages in Onion and Tomato Sauce

Sausages in Onion and Tomato Sauce:

This follows on from my last blog post in that I love to eat garlic spinach with these sausages.  This is a very simple recipe that uses store cupboard ingredients so you should be able to make it (or a version of it) without too much forward planning.  I make this a lot for friends when they come round as I know that everybody loves a sausage especially when paired with classic favourite flavours and some fresh vegetables and a few potatoes.  Home cooking at its best.

Oh, I use my home made ketchup to make this:  Homemade Chunky Tomato Ketchup

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves 4
1 x tbsp olive oil
600 to 800gr / 1.3 to 1.7 lb sausages.  I like to use plain pork, something like bratwurst or a breakfast sausage.
2 x large onions sliced into thin rings
3 x large cloves of garlic chopped finely
6 x medium sized ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly
3 x tbsps tomato ketchup
2 x tsps English mustard
1 x tbsp tomato purée
100ml / 4 fl. oz. red wine
100ml / 4 fl. oz.  water
1 x tbsp of fresh thyme leaves chopped finely
1 x tbsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Sausages in Onion and Tomato Sauce

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan then place the sausages in it, turning them to brown. Leave them on each side a couple of minutes to do this.  Make sure your pan is on a relatively high heat so that you get colour.
  2. Add the onions and garlic, allow to brown and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the wine and water to deglaze the pan, stir through.
  4. Add the tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, tomato purée, thyme, honey and a little salt and pepper. Stir through and bring to the boil.  Set the heat to a gentle simmer, cover with a close fitting lid and let the sausages cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are cooked through.
  5. Check for seasoning and serve.

Tips and Variations

  • The sausages don’t have to be completely covered by the sauce during cooking, about half way up is fine.
  • When the sausages are cooked you can reduce the sauce if you want by turning up the heat, taking the lid off and allowing to cook until you get a thicker more concentrated sauce.
  • I like to serve these sausages with some boiled potatoes and garlic spinach.

  Sausages with Onion and Tomato Sauce

Spinach and Garlic

Tapioca Pudding with Pineapple and Coconut

Tapioca Pudding with Pineapple and Coconut

This recipe for tapioca pudding with pineapple and coconut started as a bit of a food shock.

About a month ago I heard myself saying words I never ever thought I’d utter. “I’m going gluten free.” It was a shock I can tell you. As somebody who has eaten everything and anything all my life, this would be a huge change for me, or so I thought. The reason for my decision was that I had been having some niggling symptoms, nothing serious, more annoying than anything. After taking some medical advice, this seemed like the right way to go. Before I go any further I think it is important to tell you that I am not allergic, luckily, I seem to be able to take gluten, but this was more of a personal experiment to see if it would help me.

So, I decided to give it a try, see how it went, I had nothing to lose after all – except bread. Oh no, bread! What would I do without it? I came out to some friends and family with the news and set about my task. My first strategy was to scour the organic supermarkets for gluten free products. I came home, laden with quinoa, gluten free bread, crackers and pasta. Over the course of the first week I gave them a try. I replaced cous cous and bulgar wheat with quinoa, and used the bread and pasta. I have a confession, I hate quinoa. As much as I want to like it, I just don’t. Then the pasta and crackers, well, they were ok. The very worst was the bread, yuck! Gluten free bread is nothing short of awful. The texture is weird, dry and cardboard like, it’s dusty, as if somebody has wiped each slice over the sawmill floor before packaging. I needed new plan. Then I realised. What am I doing? I’m a cook for goodness sake. I shouldn’t be using these inferior overpriced replacements, I should use what I already have. What I already know. Since then I haven’t looked back. I’ve got back into using lots of grains and pulses instead of cous cous and the like, I buy spelt bread, and I use more rice now. That’s how this recipe came about. As a child I loved tapioca pudding. I haven’t made it for years – I forgot about tapioca. One day browsing through a list of gluten free food, I saw it, and I thought what a great excuse to re-create a childhood favourite. I have to say, I had to make the tapioca pudding twice, I ate the first batch, every time I passed the fridge, I couldn’t stop myself taking just one more spoonful.

So, what have I learnt? Well my personal taste lends itself to these foods anyway, so I reckon my body knew all along what it needed. And, best of all, if you can cook you are not forced to spend hours reading food labels in the supermarket, because you already know what you put in your food. Once you have a basic grasp of real foods that contain gluten, the only thing holding you back is your imagination.

Now, more than a month on, the niggling symptoms have all but gone. I haven’t missed gluten and I intend to carry on with a relatively low gluten diet.

Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Chilling Time: 3 hours

Serves 4 to 6

For the Tapioca
65gr / 2.3 oz. of pearl tapioca (the smaller pearls)
250ml / 8.5 fl oz. full milk
1 x vanilla pod
200ml / 6.8 fl oz. coconut milk
A pinch of salt
2 x large egg yolks
1 x heaped tbsp sugar

For the Pineapple
250gr / 8.8 oz. of diced pineapple
2 x tsp honey (or to taste)
Juice and zest of one lime

Method

  1. The place to start is with the tapioca, the pudding is a custard. So, in a heavy bottomed saucepan add the full milk, salt, tapioca the seeds from the vanilla pod and the empty vanilla pod. Bring this mix to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally. Do this until the tapioca is translucent and tender, this takes about 20 minutes. When cooked, stir in the coconut milk.
  2. While the tapioca mix is cooking you can whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl – quite big as it has to hold half of your tapioca mix too. Mix the egg and sugar together until the colour lightens.
  3. Taking your cooked tapioca mix from the heat, pour half of it into the bowl with the eggs and sugar, whisk together using a metal hand whisk. Then pour this back into the pan and place on a medium heat.
  4. On a medium heat keep whisking until the mix thickens, this takes about 5 minutes or so. It is important not to use too high a heat as the eggs will scramble. The mix will not become really thick, the chilling process with thicken it further. I like to check the sweetness level at this stage, you can add a little more sugar if you wish, but if you do, stir it through until it dissolves. Put your tapioca pudding in a clean, cool bowl, remove the vanilla bean and set aside to cool. When it has cooled, cover with cling film and put in the fridge.
  5. Now for the pineapple. Combine the fruit with the honey, lime juice and most of the zest. Keep back a little lime zest to dress.
  6. Place half of the mix in a food processor and whizz up until smooth. Transfer this back into the bowl with the rest of the pineapple and stir together – check the flavour and add more honey or lime if you wish.
  7. Once your tapioca has chilled, place some of the pineapple mix in the bottom of your serving dishes, then add the tapioca and top with a little pineapple and some lime zest to finish.

Tips and Variations 

  • Try with other exotic fruit like mango. I really like a mix of mango and passion fruit. In this version I don’t purée the passion fruit.
  • I like to make the component parts in advance and then construct the dessert when it is time to serve, but you can construct it a few hours before hand if you prefer.
  • There have been times when I need to make the custard a couple of days in advance, in this case I use pasteurized egg yolks and not fresh.
  • This is a great dessert if you are looking for a gluten free pudding.
  • I like to use goat’s milk instead of cow’s, I think it gives a fuller flavour, but that’s just a personal preference as I really love goat’s milk.

Tapioca Pudding with Pineapple and Coconut

Spicy Cucumber Side Salad

spicy cucmber side salad

There’s nothing complicated about this recipe for spicy cucumber side salad.  It is my absolute favourite go to recipe to accompany spicy dishes.

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes 

Ingredients for 4 servings a side salad
For the Salad
One medium cucumber sliced very thinly
300gr / 10.5 oz. of radishes, washed, topped and tailed, and sliced thinly

For the Dressing
2 x shallots sliced very finely
1 x red chili de-seeded and sliced very finely
Juice of 2 limes (about 2 x tbsp.)
Zest of 2 limes
3 x tbsp of honey
2 x tbsp of Thai fish sauce
1 x tbsp of sesame oil
Optional – some mint and toasted chopped peanuts (or sesame seeds) to dress

Method

  1. Mix the Dressing ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved – adjust to your taste if you wish
  2. Mix the Cucumber and Radishes together in a bowl, add the dressing and mix through. 

Tips and Variations

  • Best Served immediately, although you can make the dressing in advance (just don’t add mint in advance as it may discolour)
  • To get those super thin sliced vegetables I like to use a cheese slice, vegetable peeler or mandolin
  • Adjust the vegetables, bean sprouts and mange tout work really well also, as well as some spring onions.
  •  Try this with my spicy braised pork recipe.

Spicy Cucumber Side Salad

Roast Chicken 2.0 : Chicken Stock

VegStock copy

Chicken Stock

 

I feel I am on a mission.  After somebody telling me not to post about roast chicken – how dare they.   Well I posted my favourite ‘how to’ roast a chicken yesterday and I feel it is my duty to follow up.  What better way than with a recipe for chicken stock.

Stock is one of those things that people tend to think is only for the cook with either too much time or lots of skill.  Ok, it takes time to make stock, but not ‘active’ time.  And skill?  Well, if you can fill a pa with vegetables, chicken and water, then you have enough skill to make stock.  It only takes you 10 minutes to set the stock going in a pan and then that’s it.  Since I have started making my own stock (I do mostly chicken and vegetable), I can honestly say I’ve never looked back.  I used to rely on those horrible little cubes (you know the ones) to add flavour to my soups, stews and broths, but no more, and what a difference.  I think my personal light bulb moment came when I read the ingredients on the side of those mass produced stocks and it really put me off.  They are basically little pellets of salt and transfats – could there be a worse combination? Yeah, maybe, I once ate a so-called dessert of marshmallows melted in the microwave poured over the ice-cream.   Somebody gave it to me at a dinner party – what do you do?  Anyway, chicken stock.

The other thing about stock is that it appeals to my frugal food nature – I hate to throw food away.  I get a very satisfied feeling (smug actually) when I use every bit of my chicken before discarding the bones.

So, on the next rainy Sunday afternoon, put the stock on to simmer gently, get the newspapers out and kick back.

Chicken Stock Recipe
Ingredients for about 30 frozen ice-cubed sized blocks or soup, stew, or broth for about 15 to 20 portions

Carcass of one chicken (all bones and skin)
1 x large onion, quartered and studded with 5 x cloves
1 x leek cleaned well and cut into 4 pieces
2 x large garlic cloves, crushed with skin
3 x celery stalks (or celery heart) chopped in 3 parts
2 x large carrot chopped in 3 large pieces
3 x bay leaves
1 x handful of thyme
4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary
1 x small handful of black peppercorns
2 x tsps of salt
If you have roasted a chicken on top of onion or other vegetables and herbs, put this all into your stock pan too.

Method

  1. Place all the above ingredients in your biggest pan, and cover with water from a recently boiled kettle.
  2. Bring to the boil and then turn to a gentle simmer for at least 2 hours.
  3. Squeeze and mash the stock with a potato masher a few times, just to release as much flavour as possible.
  4. Strain the mixture, making sure it is clear, place it back in the pan and boil until it reduces to about a third of its original volume. The amount you reduce kind of depends on how you are going to store it. If you want to make iced cubes as this recipe suggests, you can reduce further, but you may wish to use it straight away for soup or another recipe in which case I usually go by taste. When the reduction has reached the concentration off taste that I want, I stop there.
  5. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but if you want to keep it, portion it out and freeze it.

Tips and Variations

  • My stock actually starts when I am roasting a chicken. Underneath the chicken in the oven, I place thickly sliced, one onion, maybe a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Then I cover the bottom of the roasting tin with water, so that this chicken is on top of the onion, and not in the water.
  • Use other parts of vegetables to create this stock. For example, I often use broccoli stalks. They are packed with flavour, and it’s better than throwing them away. Basically any leftover vegetables, or vegetables that are not looking their best are great.
  • When reducing, to decide on the amount, I usually think about what I want to use it for, how concentrated I want the flavour and also how much space I have in the freezer. I find the best way is to reduce until it fills an ice-cube tray (or two) this gives me handy little blocks of flavour that I can drop into any soups or stews.       Once frozen, I empty the cubes into freezer bags.
  • If you reduce it too much by volume, it won’t freeze properly – I think because of fat content.
  • I sometimes skip the freezing in ice-cube containers and just pour (once cooled) a little stock into freezer bags and place those directly in the freezer or small Tupperware containers.

 

 

2014 Top Ten Recipes

I was scrolling through my 2014 blog posts, not for any particular reason, and it jumped out at me.  There were a few posts that had been visited literally thousands of times.  I decided to pay attention.  There were quite a few that surprised me in those top posts, although thinking back, they were the ones I got the most comments, feedback and questions about, and were the most popular with clients in cooking lessons. So I suppose that makes sense.  I thought, why not compile a list, you know, so that I can try and work out what the ‘X’ factor is in these popular recipes.  If I could see that then it would help me decide on recipes to create for next year.  I’ve been staring at them for some time now and have to say, there’s nothing that jumps out at me, maybe you can help to see the pattern?

Here we go, in reverse order of course, coming in at:

Number 10Date and Walnut Tray Bake

TrayBakeDateWalnutEar1l

Very closely followed by Number 9: Minestrone Soup

MinestronSoupBowl

Personally, I thought this’d be higher given the amount of emails I got about it, telling me how much people loved it. Number 8: Sweet and Sour Shrimp

SweetSourShrimp2

Then it’s an Italian classic Number 7: Puttanesca Cod

PuttanescaCod1

And another Italian, Number 6: Crespelle

Crespelle

A winter favourite at Number 5: Slow beer braised oxtail

OxtailPlate1

Everybody loves pasta, or was it the sausage that made this so popular Number 4: Strotzaprezzi with Sausage and Fennel

SausageFennelPlate2

Another entry for shrimp, this time at Number 3: Garlic Shrimp

PrawnsPlate1

I never thought that this was so internationally popular, I got emails from all over the USA and South America, even Africa about various versions of Number 2: Chicken Piri Piri

PiriPiriWholeChick

Then, who would have guessed this, far and away the most popular recipe of 2014 was……  Number 1: Baked Salmon with Parsely Sauce!!

SalmonParsleyPlate2 So that’s it, a little compilation of 2014 favourites.  Hope you enjoy them (again!).