• Category Archives Side dishes
  • Stuffed Baked Potatoes

    Now after deciding I was going to cook steak for the crowd appearing at my son’s while I was on holiday, the next issue was what to cook as a side dish that was easy to prepare ahead of time and really yummy and filling! Voila! Stuffed baked potatoes came to mind. Me and my mini assistant were doing another batch of the Guinness brownies for her Daddy and some Ginger Molasses cookies for Mommy so the oven was going to be on anyway and it made sense to use it to our advantage!

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    I judged it on one potato per person…1/2 for mini folk and light eaters as they are quite filling!

    So the ingredients are

    potatoes (as above)
    spring onions/green onions (depends on country)
    bacon bits/panchetta something small and tasty from the pig family 🙂
    sour cream/creme fraiche (depending on country)
    cheese…I used a medium cheddar but you could use sharp or mild or blue cheese or whatever cheese takes your fancy!

    Scrub potatoes, prick with a fork, wrap in foil and pop in the oven until soft in the middle. I used an oven at 180c and put them in for about an hour. The cooking time depends on the size of the spud and the heat of the oven. If you can stab it with a pointy knife and it goes in easily it’s ready. Take them out of the oven with oven mitts or asbestos hands unwrap them and pop them onto a cooling rack to cool. When cool cut them in half and scoop out the middles leaving about 1/2 cm of flesh around the edge or the skins will fall apart. Put the innards into a big bowl and either mash them with a potato masher or if you are posh like us…use a potato ricer. Add milk, butter and sour cream/creme fraiche and seasoning as though you are making mashed potatoes. When the potatoes are thoroughly mashed and are lovely and creamy, taste them and season appropriately. Then add as much or as little bacon, cheese and green onion as you’d like. Scoop this mixture into the shells and then sprinkle more cheese over the top. Pop them back into a 180c oven for about 20-25 minutes so that they are heated through and the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown! Never got a chance to take a photo of these when they were cooked as they vanished in a whirlwind of hands! Maybe next time!

  • Mustard and Tarragon Hollandaise

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    This recipe is adapted from the Riverford Farm Cookbook

    250g butter
    3 egg yolks
    juice of 1 lemon
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    2 t wholegrain mustard
    1/2 t dried tarragon
    salt and pepper to taste

    Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan and remove from heat. Get a medium saucepan and get the water simmering, pop a glass bowl on top and make sure the bottom doesn’t touch the hot water. Put the egg yolks, cayenne pepper and lemon juice into the bowl. Using a whisk, whisk this mix until it starts to thicken. Once it gets to this stage take it off the heat and slowly whisk in the melted butter a bit at a time until it’s all incorporated and a lovely thick gooey glossy sauce. Mix in the mustard, tarragon. Taste and season as appropriate. Now use it with whatever you fancy….broccoli, salmon, make eggs benny (I’d leave out the wholegrain mustard if you were doing eggs benny!) We had it with a Pork, Apple and Fennel mix…it was pretty damn good!

  • Summery Salad

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    So I found a cool shop in Chichester, Sussex called Zest for Taste…it has a VAST array of oils and vinegars that you can try and buy as well of lots of cool kitchen stuff and dips, jams and just foodie stuff….if you get the chance then check it out. They are also on Facebook and online at www.zestfortaste.co.uk

    Anyhoo…I purchased a bottle of Pomegranate Balsamic vinegar…oh my…it’s smells like I could drink it from the bottle! so on my day off…the veg delivery came and some large red tomatoes screamed make a salad and try that damn vinegar.

    This salad is one where I’m not going to give you specific quantities…salads are truly a wing it thing.

    In mine I put some shredded romaine lettuce, rocket, celery, goat’s cheese, ramiro peppers, salad tomatoes (organic…not the tasteless ones from the supermarket!) sea salt croutons for some crunch and texture! And then I lovingly drizzled 2 capfuls of this amazing vinegar over it and zing….summer in a bowl….well as close as you get for a wednesday in Manchester in March!

  • Individual Beef Wellington

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    Now this is one tasty dish! Here’s a chance to big up a local supplier… we’ve discovered Hazeldine’s Butchers in Hazel Grove and they were doing a deal for valentine’s week that screamed MAKE BEEF WELLINGTON! 5 fillet steaks for £20!!! So off I trot and pick up a pack.

    So for ease I prepared these the day before and popped them on the baking sheet covered in the fridge. Makes for less faffing about on the night!

    This recipe will make 4 individual Wellingtons

    4 individual beef fillets about 115 g (4oz)
    1 pack Puff pastry (defrosted if frozen)
    1 portion Mushroom Duxelle
    1 pkg of Pate of your liking we used Brussels Pate with Garlic

    So…this is a little time consuming to make but worth every minute!

    Take the fillet out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature. I’ve learnt that letting the meat warm up gives a nicer texture and helps the meat cook more evenly.

    Chop up all that needs chopping…I used my mini food processor to get this chopped faster and with less blood loss on my part as my knife skills aren’t that swift!

    Heat up a fry pan and pop a bit of oil in ( I used about 1 tbsp of sunflower oil) get the oil popping hot and then sear the fillets on all sides…make sure they have a full blown tan on all sides and then put to one side to cool.

    Mushroom Duxelle:
    1 T butter
    1 T olive oil
    1 medium onion (chopped into teeny tiny pieces)
    1 clove garlic (chopped into teeny tiny pieces)
    225 g mushrooms (chopped into teeny tiny pieces) I used Forestiere Mushrooms but Button or Chestnut all are fine..it’s whatever floats your boat!
    75 ml red wine
    75 ml double cream
    1 t chopped fresh Thyme
    salt and pepper to season

    Turn the heat down on the pan to about medium and chuck in about 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil….get it all lovely and bubbly. Saute the onion in the oil until golden. Once the onion is translucent (check out my vocabulary…lol) Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until they are nice and tender. Pop the garlic in and give it a good mix up. This is the point where you’ve done your quality control on the wine….hopefully leaving enough for the Duxelle 🙂 put in the wine and cook until reduced by about half…add the cream and do the same…add the thyme…now taste it and season with salt and pepper. Put this to one side to cool.

    Finally when all is cool…assembly!

    Roll out the puff pastry until its a couple of mm thick…not too thick or your pastry will be claggy and yukky and we don’t want that! Do we? Now I cut the pastry into squares and spread a lick of Pate onto them but not to the edge….don’t put too much on as you want to accentuate the beef not overpower it…next a teaspoon of Duxelle and then pop the fillet on top. Now make a lovely little package wrapping the fillet up tightly with the pastry and then if you turn it over and pop it onto an oiled baking tray. Now I got all romantical and cut out little pastry hearts out of the off cuts to make it look all pretty…you can make any shapes you want or nothing at all…your choice 🙂

    I popped these in the fridge overnight and then brought them out onto the counter to warm up to room temperature before cooking them the next day.

    Heat the oven up to about 180c and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until lovely and puffy and golden!

    I served these with New Potatoes that I had boiled drained and then let butter melt on them in the pan and then tossed in rosemary, thyme salt and pepper. Easy peasy and tasty!

    For the green veg (fine green beans and asparagus) I threw these in a large pot of boiling water…for about 3 minutes, drained them and let them dry on some paper towel then fired up my griddle pan and grilled these babies…when hot I grated a bit of fresh parmesan on top for extra flair!

    The Wellington was accompanied by a lovely red wine reduction that I had bubbling for a while on the hob…just teasing the partner in crime’s taste buds!

    I took about:
    200 ml Red wine
    100 ml water
    1 Beef Oxo cube
    a sprig of fresh Thyme
    a sprig of fresh Rosemary
    1 t black Peppercorns
    1 t chopped Garlic

    Chuck it all in a pan and let it bubble away over a low heat…taste regularly and add water, wine and spices to taste…it’s not an exact recipe but a base to use and tweak to your liking! Strain into a jug and pour generously all over your Wellington!

    Bon Appetit!!!

  • Courgette Sticks with Lemon Dill Dip

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    Now a little prep needs to be done so the flavours can take hold!
    To make the dip take 1 cup of Greek Yogurt and squeeeeeezzzzeee the juice of 1/2 a lemon into it…don’t forget to take the pips out…nothing more romantic than cracking a tooth on a pip! I bought a package of fresh dill from Tesco and chopped aobut 1/4 of the pack into itty bitty bits and then mixed it all throughly and chucked it in the fridge to fill with flavour overnight!

    Take 1 courgette per person wash it and pat it dry and cut it into stick sized bits…I cut ours in half and then into 4 so we got 8 manageable size pieces each.

    Get 2 eggs and beat them into a bowl that is big enough to dip the courgette. Get another bowl and fill with Panko breadcrumbs. Dip the courgette into the egg then into the breadcrumbs and put to one side.

    While all the dipping is going on fire up your deep fryer to about 180 c ready to give these babies a hot oil bath!

    You might find the bread crumbs aren’t sticking all that well..just give em a squeeze and there will be enough stuck to it to taste yummy! For a bit of variety you can grate some Parmesan into the Panko 🙂

    Now gently….ever so gently…pop the courgette into to bubbling oil and watch them get a lovely golden brown. Gently scoop them out and let them drain on a paper towel until they are all done and ready for dipping.

    Pop em on a plate and either divvy up dip between eaters or just have one free for all bowl!

    Dip away!!!

  • Rip Roasting Vegetables

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    Now this is a highly technical recipe….get a bunch of vegetables…cut em up and put them on a tray…drizzle with olive oil and throw in the oven at 200 c for about 40 minutes!

    Ok…we used…carrots, swede, jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, beets, celeriac.

    Easy peasy lemon squeezy! You can add onions, red and/or white, sweet potatoes,normal potatoes, squash, courgettes…whatever takes your fancy.

  • Creamed Spinach

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    Now I know that creamed spinach sounds pretty damn gross and the photo really doesn’t show off how tasty this is.

    200g of washed spinach…organic is best…posh I know
    25 g butter
    1/2 small white onion chopped really finely
    1 tbsp plain flour
    100 ml whole milk…gotta be whole milk…remember this is a decadent meal…screw the fat content!
    50 ml…ish of double cream…told ya…screw the calories!
    1 tsp chopped garlic
    1/2 tsp nutmeg…freshly ground if possible…yes it does come in a whole form not just in a powder in a jar!

    Ok….get a saucepan and melt the butter, saute the onions until soft…takes about 5 minutes…be patient…its worth holding on until they are nice and soft!
    Stir in the flour until well mixed and the onions are evenly coated. Then slowly, gently carefully whisk in the milk and cook until it thickens. When thickened add the garlic and mix thoroughly. While this is cooking take a large collander and pour boiling water over the spinach. The spinach will wilt and shrink. Now…this is where I learned my lesson…the recipe tells you to put the spinach in a clean tea towel and squeeze all the water out…don’t do this without rinsing the spinach in cold water. If you don’t rinse it in cold water you try to do it…burn yourself and jump around the kitchen swearing a blue streak!
    Roughly chop and mix into the sauce, mix in the double cream heat through on a low heat and pop the nutmeg in. Taste and add seasoning as desired!