Archive for category Main Meal
Its been a long time since I was here! I took an unplanned summer break which carried on into autumn! I have been busy, posting here was beginning to feel a chore and I was fast running out of ideas. Truth is even though I have a food blog when life gets busy I tend to stick to the same handful of recipes. I am out of the house for 12, sometimes more, hours on a work day so I don’t always have time to think of new meals. What I do end up cooking is usually not the kind of thing that would make an interesting post! And actually this last few months has been anything but typical!
There has been a reason for my distraction. I am moving, in just under a week, to America! New Hampshire is where we are heading, to the White Mountains. I can hardly believe I’m saying that, even though suitcases are packed and so much has been donated, sold and rescued by kind friends! I’m excited, scared, sad to say goodbye but looking forward to our new start.
Throughout the summer we had a bountiful supply of green beans from the allotment which resulted in me making this green bean dish many times. It was hard to keep up with our bean supply this year and often when we went to pick them they were huge, luckily this recipe is not fussy as to the type of bean, the beans end up meltingly soft. We have it served with chicken but Id be happy eating a bowl of these beans with a chunk of bread.
So often the dishes that stay with me are the simplest ones and this is the case with this bean recipe, just a few ingredients cooked together in one pan makes for a delicious vegetable dish that even my husband will eat, in fact he loves this!
It will be a while before I post again as we leave in just a few days, I cant wait to share our new adventure here so watch this space!
ingredients (4 portions)
- 350 grams green/French beans, topped and tailed and cut into pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- water to cover the beans
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until softened.
- Add the garlic and fry for a minute while stirring.
- Add everything else, stir then add water, enough to just cover the beans.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for around 40 minutes. The beans will be very soft and the sauce reduced.
- Season with more salt and pepper if needed and serve.
I wouldn’t blame people visiting here to think all I make are soup, jam and cake! While its true that I find those the most interesting things to post I do also eat other things! Fish can be a take it or leave it dish for me, I try to eat more to be healthier but I rarely use a recipe, usually a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon, whatever herbs are available and pop it in the oven. Today however Id like to share my fish cake recipe, its been a work in progress for a little while but now I feel its ready to share.
These fish cakes are easy to make but you will need a food processor. To avoid the use of egg or bread as a binder the mixture must be really well combined, in a way that only a processor could do. They are fragile but with some good shaping and a spell in the fridge the fish cakes hold their shape really well.
I like to double the recipe and freeze a batch, nothing sweeter on a work night than having a meal ready made in the freezer! Use whatever white fish takes your fancy, pollock, cod, haddock.
Fish Cakes (Paleo friendly)
makes 4 fish cakes for a main course or shape them smaller to make 8 mini fish cakes for a starter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 stick celery
- 1/2 onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 red pepper
- 400 grams pollock, cod or any other white fish cut into chunks
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp fresh tarragon
- few dashes of tabasco or other hot sauce
- salt and pepper, approx 1/4 tsp each – less if you are watching your salt intake.
- oil for frying
- In a food processor finely chop the celery and onion.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the chopped celery and onion until translucent.
- Add the garlic, stir quickly and remove from the heat.
- Add the red pepper to the food processor and chop finely.
- Add the fish, herbs and spices, tabasco and cooked celery and onion to the peppers in the food processor. Add salt and pepper and pulse it all in the food processor until it’s all blended together. It does need to be mixed pretty well so that it will hold its shape when formed into patties.
- Form the mix into patties with your hands, (the mixture will be quite wet, that’s normal). Pay attention to the edges, making sure they are not ragged but smooth, this will avoid tearing when cooking. Put the patties on a plate, cover with cling film and chill for at least an hour so the fish cakes keep their shape and don’t break apart when cooking. If freezing, now is the time to wrap in foil with a little grease proof paper in between each fish cake.
- When ready to cook, heat some oil in a nonstick frying pan. If you don’t own a nonstick skillet – check out these non-stick cookware reviews, as nonstick cookware is essential for any budding chef. Add the fish patties to the oil and fry for 3-4 minute on each side until nicely browned and cooked through.
- Serve right away with salad or vegetables.
I adore Yotam Ottolenghi, I loved his recent Mediterranean series and I could eat most anything from his book Plenty. One dish I’ve made from that book several times is the Winter Cous Cous. Although perfect as it is I most often have to change the original recipe to suit my fridge contents! In fact I don’t think I’ve ever had all the ingredients for the original recipe and gradually I’ve changed it to this one which although a little different to the original it is, in my opinion, still delicious. Its full of some of my favourite things.
This makes a lovely meal in a bowl, real comfort food, perfect for this time of year. There is enough for 2 people or it’s also delicious cold if you have any left over.
Ottolenghi Inspired Cous Cous (inspired by the Winter Cous Cous Recipe in Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)
- 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
- 1 onion peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 small aubergine, cut into chunks
- 200 g pumpkin or squash, cut into chunks
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in 2
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can chickpeas
- 175 ml water
- 120 g cous cous
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 150 ml vegetable stock – boiling
- 1 tbsp butter
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
- Pre heat the oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6.
- Add the carrot, onion, aubergine, pumpkin, cinnamon stick and star anise and spices (first 9 ingredients) to a large roasting tray. Sprinkle with 2 of the 3 tbsp of olive oil and mix all the ingredients together. Roast for 40 minutes, lessen this time if the vegetables are cooking too quickly in an oven hotter than mine.
- Add the chickpeas and water to the roasting ingredients and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the chickpeas have heated through.
- Now make the cous cous by putting the cous cous into a heat proof bowl with 1/2 tsp salt and the last tbsp of olive oil. Pour over the boiling stock and cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film and leave for 10 minutes.
- Dot the butter over the cous cous and fluff it all up with a fork.
- To serve place some cous cous into a bowl and spoon over the roasted vegetables, remove the cinnamon and star anise first. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice and scatter with coriander leaves.
This year I’m not cooking for Thanksgiving as we are dining at a pub called the Mayflower. Apparently the Mayflower is the pub from where the original pilgrims set off on their journey to America! I only found out about it this year, even though it’s not far from me! The pub celebrates Thanksgiving so I’m looking forward to having a traditional Thanksgiving meal there this year.
I also wont be cooking at Christmas this year as we will be in the snowy mountains of Vermont! It seemed a shame to let all these lovely recipes go by so I thought I would round-up some of my favourites to save for myself for future celebratory meals and also to share, maybe inspire with some ideas for your Thanksgiving (or Christmas) cooking.
A must for me, after many years of experimenting I’ve settled on dry brining my turkey. I think it really does produce the most tasty, succulent turkey meat. The method I use for the dry brine is called the “Judy Bird” and is so simple but does require you to be organised as the recommended brining time is 3 days. I admit I usually only brine for 2 days and it turns out fabulously.
Vegetarian main course option
When I came across this Butternut Asparagus Crespelle it sounded so good it had to be included in my dream Thanksgiving recipe round-up, it sounds fabulous!
The last gravy I made for Thanksgiving was this make ahead gravy and I would definitely recommend it. Making the gravy ahead of time is the perfect solution to that last-minute stress when everything is ready at the same time but you have to stir the gravy!
I love stuffing but so often I’m left stuffingless after discovering the stuffing contains sausage. As someone who doesn’t eat much meat it’s so disappointing to look forward to the stuffing only to discover meat hidden in it. I like to have 2 different stuffings if feeding a crowd and think its nice to offer a meat free stuffing. I love cornbread stuffing like this one from Love and Lemons.
I recently heard the term “stufffins” and just love with the idea! Its stuffing cooked in a muffin tin for individual portions, or stuffing muffins, what a fabulous idea! These will definitely be featuring on my next Thanksgiving table, although I don’t think I will be able to wait and will have to try them much sooner than that!
These are possibly my favourite dishes at Thanksgiving, I can get carried away and end up choosing too many! Some side dish recipes to catch my eye this year are as follows.
I love the look of these lovely Green Beans with Crisp Shallots from Mark Bittman they look delicious but also seem quick to make which is exactly what you want when it comes to the vegetable dishes for Thanksgiving.
I have spent many years tweaking my Cranberry Sauce recipe and its the one I always use, for Thanksgiving, Christmas and to give away.
Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite things about a Thanksgiving meal, these Rosemary and Garlic Mashed Sweet potatoes with kale sound amazing!
What about these Kale Stuffing Butternut Squash Stacks from Food to Glow?
Of course, my favourite part of a meal! The usual pumpkin pie doesn’t go down so well here but I like to keep the pumpkin theme and have had my eye on these Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifles for some time! This Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie is a fabulous alternative for the pumpkin haters!
And there you have it, my dream Thanksgiving spread! Wherever you are and whatever you do I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!
Some time this month is/was national kale day and as I’m in my first week of doing my 4th October Unprocessed it seems only fitting to celebrate such a healthy day! This post was meant to be timed with that day but sometimes life gets in the way of such plans.
I have been trying to think of ways to use up kale as my crop keeps coming from the allotment! I’ve had lots of kale salads and one of my favourite quick dinners is stir fried kale with fried eggs. One of the pod casts I enjoy listening to is the Splendid Table and while perusing their website I came across a recipe for Kale and Sweet Potato soup. I happened to have both sweet potatoes and kale so set about making this soup for a healthy lunch. I wondered why there was no picture of the soup on their website, strange not to have a picture with a recipe especially on a food site. Well once I made the soup and took approximately 60 pictures trying to get the soup to look like anything other than bile I understood why they decided not to include a picture! The soup certainly does taste nicer than it looks, but don’t let its vivid green appearance put you off! Unfortunately that did happen to my husband, I couldn’t help but laugh hearing his worried shout up the stairs “this soup isn’t for me is it?” No, he could not be persuaded to share any!
I really like this soup, the sweet potatoes lend their typical sweet tones and the toasty cumin and heat from the chilli combine to make a very tasty, warming soup. It’s quick to make and good for you too with both kale and sweet potatoes been high in vitamins, fibre and iron. To avoid the bright green colour you could blend the soup a little less or adjust the sweet potato/kale ratio.
Kale and Sweet Potato Soup (inspired from this recipe)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet potato, approx 350 grams
- 225 grams kale, I used curly kale but any is fine. Remove tough stems and roughly chop leaves
- 750 ml vegetable stock plus a little more to thin soup at the end
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chilli pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add the oil to a large saucepan and sauté the onion and sweet potato over a medium heat until the onion is softened.
- Add the stock to the potatoes and onions and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the cumin and chilli , stir to combine then add the kale and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the kale cooked through. The kale will sit right on top of the soup, if you put a lid on the pan the kale on top will steam.
- Carefully pour the contents of the pan into a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached. If necessary add a little more stock if a thinner soup is preferred.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This post is because of my husband. My husband is not straight forward to cook for, when I first met him he ate no vegetables at all, sorry a slight exaggeration, he ate peas, but the peas had to be from a can and called mushy! Can that be called a vegetable? Id say no so return to the statement that my husband ate no vegetables. This wasn’t such a problem when we were young and didn’t worry about health concerns, I just left any vegetables off of his plate. I tried over the years to sneak healthier things into my husbands food, lots of times very successfully although there were times after he learned to be suspicious when I got caught out! In more recent years, tastes and health have changed and including vegetables is now not so difficult, although that does not include any kind of brassica!
I look after and cook for children so often times if I make something that turns out to be popular with all 3 children (a very rare event!) I will try it out at home on my husband! This pie is one such thing, thumbs up from the kids and my husband! In the beginning my husband would pick out the carrots but now he eats it all! Pie is a favourite of my husbands, he says he particularly likes mine and was concerned one day that if anything happened to me he may never get to have that pie again! It’s true that a lot of what I cook is made up at the time and no recipe is followed, luckily I have a food blog to record these things! I have been meaning to get this recipe written down for a long time so just for my lovely husband here it is!
I do tend to use store-bought pastry but get the all-butter kind so no other weirdly named ingredients are added. This recipe works just as well with puff or shortbread pastry. I don’t have pastry on the bottom as I can’t face the worry of soggy bottoms and it cuts down on the calories.
Despite many attempts taking a pretty picture of a pie proved impossible!
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 tbsp oil
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced
- 1 sheet of ready to roll short crust or puff pastry
for the sauce
- 225 ml milk plus a little extra for brushing the pastry
- 20 grams plain flour
- 20 grams butter
- 1/2 heaped teaspoon dried tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6.
- Add the stock to a sauce pan and add the sliced carrots, briefly cook for a few minutes until jut softened. Turn off the heat and set aside, keep the stock as you made need some to thin the sauce later.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the chicken pieces, stir to coat in oil until chicken begins to colour. Add the leeks and fry gently until leeks are softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the sauce add the milk, flour and butter to a saucepan, heat over a medium heat whisking constantly until mixture comes to the boil and has thickened. When this happens remove from the heat and add the tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and leeks and also add the carrots, stir together. If you would like a thinner sauce use some of the reserved stock from the carrots to thin to the consistency you like. Tip into a pie dish.
- With a piece of paper towel wipe the edge of the pie dish with a little milk so the pastry will stick.
- Put the prepared pastry sheet over the pie dish and press firmly around the edge of the pastry so it sticks to the dish and seals all the way around it then trim any excess pastry away with a knife.
- Brush the pie with a little milk and bake for 25 minutes.
I’m dragging myself kicking and screaming onto the healthy train this new year! I’m finding it hard to get out of bad habits left over from the holiday season, possibly the very cold weather we have had recently is making it harder. However I’m trying to get back into healthier habits. One thing we will be having for dinner this week is watercress soup. I first tried this soup in France, in a supermarket of all places! We were given a sample while shopping, if I had made that soup for my husband he wouldn’t have even tried it but in a French supermarket it was somehow appealing to him and not only did he try but he liked it! Always delighted to find a healthier meal for that my husband will have too, I recreated it when we got back. It’s very simple and quick to make. Watercress is high in antioxidants and it’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, helping to boost the immune system which is good for this time of the year. It’s also very low in calories which is always good news.
This is a very mild tasting soup, the watercress adds some peppery tones but it is overall a simple clean tasting soup, I will be having it accompanied with a salad but some crusty bread would be fabulous served with this soup. Be careful not to blend for too long or the potatoes go gloopy.
- 400 grams potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- A splash of olive oil
- 250 mls vegetable stock (homemade if you have it otherwise try to find a stock that is lower sodium and doesn’t contain msg)
- 2 x 75 gram bags of watercress
- Add the olive oil to a large saucepan, when heated add the onions and potatoes. Stir to coat in the oil then turn the heat down, cover and leave to sweat for about 5 minutes, this will soften the onion and potato without browning.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, the potatoes should be almost ready.
- Add all the watercress, leave it resting on top and put the lid back on so the watercress can steam. Cook for 5 minutes, check to see that the potatoes are soft and the watercress wilted.
- Blend to your preferred smoothness. My husband likes no lumps at all so I use a blender but a more chunky finish with a stick blender is also nice.
- Serve immediately. This soup freezes well.
Time off work resulting in clearing out kitchen cupboards and finding some long-lost quinoa paired with a glut of broad beans concluded in this salad. I love quinoa, you know when you love something but completely forget to make it? That’s what happened to my long-lost quinoa, found behind 4 kinds of lentils and 3 kinds of rice, no mention will be made of how many bean varieties! I’m one of those shoppers that has to try everything! I have grown to love broad beans, growing up I hated them, they were invariably overcooked, grey and tough. Its only in the last couple of years since my Mother in law has started growing them that I’ve learned to appreciate them. When you look at them they are one of nature’s marvels, with that fuzzy, cosy pod protecting each bean. It was also a revelation when I thought to peel off the skin of each bean revealing a much brighter more tender green bean! The things you learn when you grow up!
This salad is quick to make and healthy too, quinoa is gluten-free and a good source of calcium and fibre. It’s great as a main dish, going well with grilled fish or meat. This is enough for 2 servings but if made in larger quantities it would also be a good make ahead take to work lunch, maybe add some feta – yum!
I used broad beans but edamame would make a great substitute.
Quinoa Salad with Broad beans
- 200 gram dried quinoa
- 100 gram broad beans
- 2 spring onions (scallions) thinly sliced
- few cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
- handful of spinach leaves, washed
- lime zest to taste
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp. rice mirin
- Cook the quinoa according to pack instructions. When cooked drain and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile pod the broad beans and blanch in boiling water for a minute. Remove from the boiling water, drain and cover with ice-cold water to avoid further cooking. Slip each broad bean from its skin (I know this is tiresome but broad beans are so much nicer without that tough skin). Place the broad beans into a medium-sized bowl, large enough to fit the rest of the salad ingredients.
- Thinly slice the spring onions, chop the cherry tomatoes in half and place both in the bowl with the broad beans.
- When the quinoa is around room temperature or just a little warmer add to the bowl with the broad beans, onion and tomatoes.
- To make the dressing whisk all the ingredients together and immediately pour over the quinoa. Stir to combine.
- Add the spinach leaves and zest a lime directly over the salad, just a couple of scrapes with the zester will be enough. Give another quick mix.
- Best served at room temperature.
Panzanella is such a classic summer dish, making use of all the lovely tomatoes that the summer heat brings. I believe it was once considered a peasants dish, using up stale bread but its a trendy dish now and there are dozens of variations. While its true that tomatoes here in the UK sadly don’t compare with those in Tuscany, where Panzanella originates, if you choose the ripest tomatoes you can find and use them at room temperature you can make a delicious Panzanella here too. I love it and think I could eat it most days during the summer. My husband is not a fan of cucumbers, so this Panzanella does not include them, although they are easily added in if you prefer.
Having just enjoyed a week in the sun I am still in holiday mode and this shows in the meals I want to prepare at the moment, it may not be very summery here but nonetheless its summer on our plates! I included scallops and mozzarella pearls in our latest Panzanella and it was delicious! It’s rare that I am organised enough to have good tomatoes and stale bread in the house without planning so I often lightly toast the bread which works just fine.
- 4 slices of sourdough bread or any sturdy country type bread
- 4 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthways
- Few sprigs of fresh basil, leaves removed from stems
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more to cook the scallops
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Mozzarella pearls, my pot weighed 125 grams, if you can’t find pearls a ball of mozzarella torn into pieces would be fine
- Scallops, about 8 large scallops (or if sadly like the day I wanted them they only have small ones in a pack that will also be fine)
- Cut the tomatoes into large chunks, the onions into rings and place into a large bowl.
- Lightly toast the sourdough bread.
- Rub each piece of bread lightly, on both sides with the cut pieces of garlic. Cut each piece of bread into large cubes and put in the bowl with the onions and tomatoes.
- Roughly cut up the basil leaves and add to the bowl.
- Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Mix together well and leave to sit for a while allowing the bread to soak up the dressing and the flavours to combine.
- Brush each scallop with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a griddle or frying pan and place the scallops in the hot pan, cook for about a minute on each side.
- Add the mozzarella to the salad. Mix ingredients again and serve.
- Place the scallops onto the prepared Panzanella and enjoy.
Lovely tomatoes on holiday
Chermoula is one of my favourite marinades, it’s a blend of coriander (cilantro), garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and spices. A very popular seasoning for grilled meat or fish in Morocco, it’s incredibly flavourful and zingy. Your taste buds will get such a blast! I use it most weeks through the summer as a marinade for white fish. It couldn’t be easier to make, all of the ingredients go into a food processor and get blitzed together to form a slack paste which can be spread onto chicken or fish.
There are many versions of Chermoula, some with onions, some containing harissa or smoked paprika but this I think is the simplest version and I love it! It is so easy to make and use. I usually make it at the weekend and store it in a Tupperware to make a fast dinner during the week. The Chermoulah can also be used as a marinade but I usually just spread it on just before the end of the cooking time to save a little time.
With recent issues about blogging others recipes I must declare that I do not know the origination of this! I have a folder full of recipes torn from magazines, many are years old and its impossible to know where they came from. I have adapted the original recipe but can not give credit to the recipe creator. I will just have to hope you believe me when I say I have no wish to cause offense to anyone when posting a recipe!
- A large bunch of Coriander, rinsed and chopped roughly in half
- Approximately 2 tbsp Flat leaf Parsley, rinsed
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled, chopped in halves
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder (this is quite a hot version, do use less chilli powder for less heat)
- 1tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp ground Cumin
- 1/4 cup, 60 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the processor a couple of times to incorporate all of the ingredients.
- To use, pan fry or grill your fish, firm fish portions are best to avoid breaking up. When the fish is almost cooked spread on the Chermoulah and finish cooking.