McMeatballs

I like haggis. A lot. My other half, not so much, Mathew however loves it. So rather than cook two meals I did a bit of sniffing around on the internet and found a recipe for a 50/50 haggis and minced lamb meatball. I gave it a whirl and it went down a treat. Albeit rather a greasy one.

I’ve since made a few changes (swapped lamb for beef, added chives, served with pasta and sauce rather than tatties and neeps) and today it became the inaugural dish of Mathew’s cookery club. OK it’s just me and him, with guest appearances from mum, but it gets him more involved with the preparation of his food so hopefully he’ll become more adventurous at mealtimes.

Pasta sauce

Ingredients

  • 8 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp fresh thyme
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 birdseye chilli (whole)

Blanch, peel and deseed the tomatoes. This can be a bit of a faff but it beats having skin and seeds in your sauce. Blitz the tomatoes to a paste in a blender.

Blitz the shallots. Blitz the mushrooms, thyme and garlic together.

Melt butter and a dash of oil in a large saucepan. The oil helps to stop the butter from burning.

When the butter is foaming, add the shallots and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms, thyme and garlic. Cook for a further couple of minutes before adding the tomato, Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and white pepper. Mix it all together, pop in the whole chilli, cover and simmer for about 25 mins.

When cooked, discard the chilli and season to taste. Put aside (can be frozen) whilst making the meatballs!

Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 250g lean minced beef
  • 250g haggis
  • 1egg yolk (who knew it would take a 7yr old four attempts at separating an egg!)
  • 1tbsp chives
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Mix together all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This can be done in a food processor but half the fun is getting stuck in with your hands and getting all the ingredients mixed really well.

Once everything is combined, take a small amount in your hands and form into a ball. Continue with the rest of the mixture until there’s nothing left.

Preheat the oven to 200C and roast the meatballs for about 15-20 mins until they are cooked all the way through. Reheat the sauce. Cook some spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet.

Make a nest of pasta in a bowl, put meatballs on top and spoon over the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese if you like.

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The meatballs can be cooked then frozen once cold and reheated straight from the freezer as required.

 

 

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Spanish-style Chicken thighs

 

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thigh fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Air-dried ham (Iberico, Parma, Serrano)
  • Manchego cheese

Prep

Unroll each chicken thigh and envelop in a folded piece of cling film. Using a rolling pin, flatten the thighs out to about 3 mm thick.

Thinly slice the garlic and combine with the rosemary and olive oil in a large flat dish.

Place the flattened thighs in the dish ensuring each is coated in the oil. Cover, and leave in the fridge overnight for the flavours to infuse.

To serve

Gently cook each piece of chicken until browned on both sides and cooked through (about 5 mins each side).

Lay the chicken on a baking sheet and top with the ham and grated cheese. Place under a hot grill, or in a hot oven, until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with pepper and serve. Roast potatoes, asparagus, broccoli and French beans and a rich tomato sauce make ideal accompaniments as does a chilled white Rioja

Porky Al Forno

A slight variation on the caulifornication recipe making the al forno dish more of a side-dish.

  • 1x leek
  • 1x carrot
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1x clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 2x new potatoes
  • breadcrumb and parmesan mix

This first stage can be done in advance. The carrot and potato were left over but basically cook both until just on the soft side of al dente. Slice and boil the leek for three minutes then strain and cool with cold water. Once cold, pat dry. Slice the potato. Melt a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a frying pan. Chop the garlic and fry gently until soft. Do not allow to brown. Add the leeks, potato and carrot and fry for about five minutes. Add the cream and the mustard and stir well. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish, allow to cool if preparing in advance, and cover tightly with foil.

The veg was put in the fridge until needed the next day. I also prepared the pork chop as follows:

  • 1x pork chop (approx. 200g/ 1in thick, bone in)
  • 1x clove garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4tbsp light soy sauce
  • black pepper

Put all the ingredients into a re-sealable freezer bag. Score the pork chop in a diamond pattern and place in the bag with the marinade. Massage gently and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

When it’s tea time, preheat the oven to 200C and put the veg into the oven for 25 mins.

After 25 mins, heat up some butter and oil in a pan and seal the pork chop on all sides. Transfer to an oven tray and place in the oven for 10 mins. Take the veg out and uncover. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese and put back into the oven for about 5 mins until the top is browned and the cheese has melted.

Check the chop is cooked through and serve

Caulifornication

Please excuse the pun. I’m tired and I can’t think of anything else right now.

I was looking for an accompaniment to some plain old roast chicken and had a cauliflower and a leek in the cupboard so I adapted a potato and leek al forno recipe. The resulting dish, however would probably serve as a main dish on it’s own (vegetarian if you omit the lardons)

  • Half a cauliflower, broken up into florets
  • 1x leek
  • 2tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 rashers of thick cut smoky bacon (optional if vegetarian)
  • 500ml double cream
  • 2 slices stale bread
  • grated parmesan

I blanched the cauliflower florets in boiling water and turmeric for about 5 mins then cooled them rapidly under the cold tap. When cooled, slice thickly.  The leek was sliced, blanched for 3 mins and drained.

Meanwhile the anchovy fillets and the garlic were chopped and heated in the pan until the garlic had softened. Then add the bacon chopped into small pieces if using. Cook until the lardons are starting to get a bit crispy then add the leeks and sliced cauliflower florets. Cook covered for a further 5 mins on a medium heat. Add the creams, stir, and cover tightly with foil. Place in a hot oven (200C) for 30 mins.

After half an hour, remove from the oven, uncover and sprinkle the parmesan and the bread (crumbed in the food processor) over the top. Return to the oven for 10 mins or until the top is browned.

I served it up with roast chicken and pickled carrots. The carrots were dead easy and took about 5 mins to prepare: Add 1 cup of white or apple cider vinegar, one cup of water, 1 tsp salt and 3 tsps. sugar to a pan. Bring to boil so salt and sugar are dissolved. Using a peeler, cut a couple of carrots into ribbons and place in a bowl with dill and garlic. Pour the vinegar over the carrots and allow to cool. When cold, discard the liquor, dill and garlic and serve.

Pork’n’Beans

 

Usually pork’n’beans is a throw-together, last minute sort of a meal. Due to some sort of a mix up with the shopping we had a surfeit of baby plum tomatoes so I looked in the cupboard to see what was lurking in there that could be used with the tomatoes as I was getting a bit bored of salad. And salsa.

In the back of the cupboard was a tin of cannellini beans so, along with a few other bits and pieces, I had a go at baked beans.

For the beans

  • 1x 250g punnet of baby plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3x cloves garlic
  • bunch of spring onions
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1x 400g cannellini beans

Chop the onion and quarter all the tomatoes. Finely chop the garlic and soften the onion and garlic in a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a saucepan. Add the paprika after 5 mins and continue to cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes (skin, pips and all) and the tomato puree. Bring to the boil, cover and cook on a low heat for about an hour. Rinse the beans well and add them to the sauce and set aside.

Pork’n’beans

The beans were allowed to cool overnight. Two rashers of belly pork were put in an earthenware dish, seasoned and covered. They were slow cooked at 160C for three hours or until most of the fat has rendered down and the skin has crisped up (you may wish to uncover the chops for the last half hour and cook at 200C). The pork was drained and patted dry. In another dish, the cold beans were spread over the bottom and the pork placed on top. This was then put into the oven at 200C for as long as it takes to make a rich buttery mashed potato. About 25 mins.

I didn’t bother (I was too hungry to wait any longer) but you could serve with cabbage, or broccoli. I just served the pork’n’beans with mash. There were no leftovers.

Chicken Espagnolish

Home alone this weekend so after chores and shopping I set about getting dinner ready.

Three skin-on, bone in chicken thighs were dusted with Ras El Hanout and roasted at 190C for 25 mins and allowed to drain and cool.

I quartered about 10cm of chorizo and sliced it up along with two onions, a clove of garlic and four plum tomatoes.

When the chicken had cooled I boned and chopped it up. Then set about the rest of the chores.

When it was time to cook I heated a frying pan and heated the chorizo to release the oil. The chorizo was removed and the onions and garlic softened in the oil for about 20mins. I then added the tomatoes and the chorizo to the pan and cooked them gently until the tomatoes disintegrated. Finally the chicken was stirred in and heated through (about 10mins).

Served with plain brown rice and a good rioja!

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Needed chopped parsley

Curried Veggies with Paneer

We’re off on holiday to France on Saturday so this week is a week of using up the odds and sods in the fridge.

I had a few pints of milk in the fridge so last night I made fresh paneer.

Here you go:

  • 4 red onions (sliced)
  • 4 mushrooms (rough chopped)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1tsp chopped garlic
  • 1tsp chopped ginger

All of the above are cooked together for about 10 mins.

  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2tsp turmeric
  • 1/2tsp ground coriander
  • 250g cubed paneer

Add the spices and cook for a minute.


Then add the cheese.

  • Spinach
  • 1/4tsp garam masala
  • 1/4tsp ground fenugreek
  • 150ml double cream

Add the above and pop a lid on until the spinach has wilted. The spinach puts a fair bit of liquid into the sauce so you may want to cook it separately and add it in at the end.


Served with brown rice steamed in lime juice. Also great in a pitta/flatbread with fresh coriander and yoghurt.

Chickeny Tomatoey Thingummy

Not really sure what dish this is but it’s damn tasty. At the weekend the freezer went on the fritz so I was left with a load of chicken thighs that needed cooking. Grabbing what was to hand I had the following:

  • 6 boned and skinned chicken thighs 
  • An onion
  • A red pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1tsp dried tarragon
  • Oil

The onion and garlic were chopped and fried until soft. I added the diced pepper and the chicken and put a lid on the pan. After about 20mins I added the chopped tomatoes and the tarragon, replaced the lid and cooked the ‘stew’ for about 10 mins then took the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid. 

Before serving I added a tablespoon of butter to thicken the sauce and added a few twists of salt and pepper to taste. The tomatoey chicken was served with roast potatoes 

Flemish Fromage

Chicory, or endive, why did I buy it? Oh yeah, it was reduced because it was close to it’s ‘Best Before’ date. That was 2 weeks ago. I found 4 stems in the salad drawer in the bottom of the fridge. After a few discarded outer leaves and 10 mins in iced water, they were fine.

Serves 2, generously
  • 4 chicory (endive) heads
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 150ml fromage frais
  • 150g grated cheese

I quartered the chicory lengthways and sat them in two dishes on sliced red onions, garlic and fresh thyme. I poured over half a pint of chicken stock and put a tight fitting foil lid on. They were braised for about 40 mins at 190C. After draining and patting dry they were put back into the dishes with the onions and garlic, covered with ham and blanketed in a cheese sauce. The sauce was 150g of cream cheese, 150ml of fromage frais and a splash of milk beaten to a smooth consistency. 150g of grated cheddar and gouda was sprinkled on top and they were both grilled for about 15mins until golden and bubbling. Served up with crusty bread. Next time I’ll try with Little Gem lettuce

Aromatic Yoghurt and Chicken

I wasn’t sure what to have for dinner tonight so last night I cobbled a marinade together and left it to develop overnight whilst some chicken thighs were defrosting.

To make the marinade I took 2tsp coriander seeds, 2tsp fennel seeds, 2tsp cumin seeds and 2tsp black peppercorns. I toasted them in a dry pan before grinding them to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar. Then I took a green chilli snd a couple of garlic cloves and a good pinch of salt. These were puréed in the mortar and added to the ground spices. This mix was storred into sbout 250ml of plain yoghurt and left overnight in yhe fridge.

This morning I added the chicken thighs and left them in the fridge all day.

This evening I put 2 onions, sliced thickly, and about s dozen cherry tomatoes in a casserole. The yoghurty chicken was put on top, the lid put on and placed into an oven at 180C for about an hour.

Whilst it was in the oven I boiled some Basmati rice and fried a bunch of spring onions to use as a garnish. I also roasted a squash and a red and a yellow pepper to have as a side vegetable.

+++ UPDATE +++

Although the finished plate of food tasted delicious, it needed something else. Something green. Spinach perhaps.