King prawn and chilli frittata

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This is a great take on the recipe I gave you on the 15th February. For this version – which I made for lunch today – and omg it was fabulous – I added 125 gm king prawns as the fish and 1 chopped red chilli along with 6 finely sliced shallots instead of the red onion. My herb of choice was coriander leaf this time. If you use these substitutes the rest of the recipe was the same. Just remember to use good eggs!

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Chicken in Mascarpone Sauce…

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Petti di Pollo con Salsa al Mascarpone

This is a supper dish that is satisfying on so many levels – its sheer simplicity, its warmth of flavours, its alluring aroma and its rich autumnal colours.

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For 6

1 onion peeled and chopped roughly

6 tbsps chilli oil

2 x 400gm tins of tomatoes

1tsp salt 

1tsp sugar

250 gm mascarpone cheese

About 10 basil leaves roughly torn

A boneless chicken breast with skin on, or thigh, skin on and boned, per person

Preheat your oven to 180c. In a medium saucepan, fry the onion for 5 minutes in 4 tbsps of the chilli oil. Pour in the tomatoes with the salt and the sugar, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes with the lid off then 10 minutes with the lid off. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Take the saucepan off the heat and pouter into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the mascarpone and the basil leaves. Season the chicken pieces with salt and black pepper. Heat the remaining oil in a large sauté pan or frying pan and fry the chicken on a highish heat on both sides – skin side first – until golden brown. Pour the sauce into an oven proof dish and then arrange the chicken pieces on top. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes. I served it with tiny roasted apache potatoes in olive oil, rosemary and rock salt with steamed purple broccoli on the side.

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This is another one of the mighty Gino’s recipes and I have merely adapted it a tad. I really, really enjoyed cooking it and those round my table who ate it said it was a terrific new flavour to revel in. Make it soon! P.S. I have a really good recipe coming soon for any left over sauce!

A Meaty Chilli Thriller!

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Beef Pork and Chorizo Chilli

Chilli is an evocative word – just like this painting of Bonnie Lalley‘s – it conjures up warmth, spice, something primeval and yet oddly comforting – a little like watching a horror movie – you know you shouldn’t watch but you do – it is a no holds barred experience – a recipe not to undercut or do on the cheap, a no corner cutter – you need to take the cushion away from your face and go in eyes wide open – there may be scary moments ahead – especially if you are free and easy with the chillies – but hang on in there – the ride will be worth it.

I have put this out there before – but I want to remind you all once again that this is a serious dish – to treat with respect and to meet the meat head on.

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I saw Bonnie’s painting and I knew I had to return again to the thriller that is the Full Meat Chilli Chiller!

INGREDIENTS FOR 8-10 PEOPLE – OR 4 VERY VERY HUNGRY FOLK

1kg minced beef
500 gm diced shoulder pork
250 gm chorizo sliced into chunks
500 gm borlotti beans or kidney beans or a mix of both
Olive oil
2 large onions chopped
3 green chillies deseeded and chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsps dark brown sugar
2 400gm tins of good chopped tomatoes
250 ml beef stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
Some dried oregano and thyme
3 tbsp of hot chilli powder
Black pepper
Fresh coriander

Soured cream to serve

Heat oil in large pan. Brown all meats in batches. Transfer to a large stock pot or casserole dish. Add more oil. Sweat onions on a slightly lower heat until a little brown. Add to meat along with all other ingredients except the beans and coriander.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently. Cook for at least an hour – I usually leave it for at least an hour and a half. No lid!

Add the beans for last twenty minutes. Taste – adjust seasoning – maybe just black pepper – I have never had to add salt. Add the roughly chopped coriander just before serving and stir through.

Serve with rice – I put a little turmeric in mine. And a pot of soured cream. Or you could serve with naan bread or tacos or crusty bread – or even a baked potato.

This is a demon of a dish – a veritable feast of flavours. Not for the faint hearted. 

One for the connoisseur of heat and meat.

 

Morcilla Puttanesca…hot stuff

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Morcilla Puttanesca...hot stuff

Tonight was a time for a store cupboard piece of magic. And it happened. We all fancied something with bite, something with a kick…but the cupboards seemed bare. So…imagination kicked in…ingenuity….and I came up with this dish…which I will definitely make again.

For 4

Half a black pudding
400gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
Pinch of dried chilli seeds
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 red pepper cut into strips
2 slices smoked bacon cut into small pieces
Small bunch of coriander chopped
Mix of borlotti beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans
Olive oil

In a wok, heat the olive oil and add the red pepper and garlic. Fry for about 2 minutes then add the red chilli, chill seeds and the bacon. Fry for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans and coriander. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick. Pan fry separately the black pudding and then crumble into the sauce.

Serve with steamed saffron rice. This is a winner of a dish. Simple, fragrant, tasty and rich. And cheap too!

Winter’s warming glory…

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Winter's warming glory...

Often the simplest things in life are the most beautiful. The things we take for granted – golden leaves, a sparrow’s song, ripening berries peeping through hedgerows , snow drops peeking out from under the soil where they have slept peacefully during the dark drear months of winter.

And so it is with food – often food stuffs we overlook or turn our nose up at can provide delectable surprises. Inexpensive and warming when the wet weather whirls its way through our world.

Take the humble tin of corned beef. I loathed it as a child – all my sandwiches on school trips seemed to contain nothing else but slabs of it  and I found it hard to swallow. I remember my Granddad telling me tales of WW1 and life in the trenches when frequently the only dish on offer was tinned ‘bully beef’ as he called it. Sounded grim!

The stuff sold in cans gets its name from the corns, or grains of salt, that are used to preserve it. The beef is chopped up and preserved with salt – sometimes it was brine – and canned with beef fat and jelly. When I was young there seemed to be too much of the jelly for my liking! Today most of the corned beef in cans  comes from Uruguay or Brazil.

It was first mentioned in 1621 in a recipe of one Robert Burton in his ‘Anatomy of Melancholy‘ -clearly he too had been getting corned beef sandwiches too often in his packed lunch!

Anyway, he writes ‘ Beef…corned, young of an Ox.’ He also mentions that you could get corned pork . Corned beef in many parts of the world refers to salt beef – a wonderful cut from the brisket – we used to eat a lot of it when we lived in New Zealand. Corned beef in the UK means the stuff that comes in those trade mark rectangular cans with the pesky winding key opener.

The Irish eat a lot of it apparently, especially on St Patrick’s Day – a combination of corned beef heated through with cooked cabbage. And of course there is the traditional corned beef hash which improved my opinion of the stuff when my folks made this stew in my early teens. Great with lashings of brown sauce. Corned beef also gets used in lots of pasties sold in the chains of high street bakers.

But, my favourite way of eating it – and I have made this for many a long year, going back to my thrifty student days, is a Corned Beef Chilli.

I cannot explain how good this dish is – and I know some folk out there will be grimacing or even switching to another blog at this point – which is a pity – because, as I said to begin with – the simplest and often the cheapest dishes are the best. Right, assuming you are all still with me….! The recipe!

For 4

1 can of corned beef chopped into chunks.
1 red onion chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
3 chillies deseeded and chopped – I use 2 red and 1 green
2 x 400gm chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
A bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)

500 gm rigatoni pasta (for some odd reason, it goes far better with pasta than rice – believe me.

In a frying pan, heat some olive oil and pan fry the onions, garlic, chillies, and cumin seeds.

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Let the onions soften, then add the tinned tomatoes and bring to a good simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes on a low heat.

Then add the corned beef and stir around gently. Now add three quarters of the bunch of coriander chopped. Stir again. Let it simmer whilst you cook your pasta. It can happily sit there for another 40 minutes or so, getting thicker and hotter.

Serve the pasta in bowls and spoon over the corned beef chilli. Add a sprinkle of chopped coriander to each bowl.

It is like no other chilli you will have tasted and everyone for whom I have cooked it has been amazed at the flavour and deliciousness of this dish.

Thanks, Bonnie, for the inspiration. A wonderful painting to go with a wonderful winter warmer of a meal!

Feta accompli…!

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Feta accompli...!

Last Wednesday my kids fancied jacket potatoes – they wanted the ones I do with parmesan and butter. But I had other ideas…..and I had a block of feta! So once the jacket spuds were cooked- olive oil rubbed and salted, I let them cool and split them. Then into a bowl I added the feta, cubed small ( do not forget to rinse your feta first to desalt it ) , 5 spring onions chopped, a red chilli deseeded and chopped, a generous knob of butter and a little pepper and a grind – only a grind mind – of rock salt.

Then once the potato flesh had cooled, I scooped it out and added it to the bowl, taking care not to split the silken crispen skins.

Then after a hearty mix to melt the butter and break down the feta, I restuffed the skins – this amount was more than enough for 8 halves. Then pop them back into the oven at 160c for 10 minutes.

I served these tuberous gems with rocket salad and bresaola.

A simple yet phenomenally taste bud tingling supper – perfect for warming one up in sub zero temperatures. Or simply dispelling the damp January blues that pervade my corner of Hampshire at present.

Patatas bravas…be bold my friends…be bold…

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Patatas bravas...be bold my friends...be bold...

Two of my favourite tapas that I make at home are tortilla and patatas bravas. The latter is often not done properly in some of the more touristy areas, where it can just be virtually chips with mayonnaise and a spicy ketchup.

This may be ok, but it ain’t patatas bravas, amigo!

Here is a very good version that produces a fairly authentic taste. To make the perfect patatas bravas, I roast the potatoes instead of frying them, which gives a less greasy, but equally crisp result (and is also considerably easier in most kitchens).

The creamy, unashamedly garlicky alioli-style sauce completes the dish perfectly – the Spanish equivalent of many students kebab van favourite, chips with ketchup and garlic sauce! Paired with a chilled Spanish beer, this is is just one of those unbeatable late night snacks.Can be a side dish, a tapa or an accompaniment. Whatever rocks your socks.

PATATAS BRAVAS

Serves 4-6
500g waxy potatoes
300ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 red chillis, finely chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Tsp sugar
Tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 egg
1 clove garlic, crushed

Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel the potatoes and cut into rough 2cm chunks. Put a roasting tray with 2 tbsp olive oil into the oven and leave to heat for 5 minutes, then take out, toss the potatoes in the hot oil, and bake for about 45 minutes until crisp and golden.

Meanwhile, make the sauces. Put 2 tbsp oil into a heavy-bottomed pan on a medium heat, and
cook the onion for about seven minutes until golden and soft. Add the chilli, and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar, salt and smoked paprika and stir well.

Bring to the boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until thick and dark. Take off the heat, add 1 tbsp sherry vinegar, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

To make the alioli, put the egg in the small bowl of a food processor along with the garlic and 1tbsp sherry vinegar. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and whizz until incorporated, then drizzle in the rest of the olive oil with the motor running, until you have creamy mayonnaise-style sauce.

Season to taste. (You can also use a hand blender, but it’s harder to drizzle and beat at the same time.) Take the potatoes out of the oven and sprinkle with a little salt.

Spread the tomato sauce on to the plates, put the potatoes on top, then serve with a small bowl of  alioli on the side and serve immediately.

The whole point of these is the ‘bravas’ part. If it ain’t a heat challenge then there is no bravado! Be bloody, bold and resolute!

Tonight I served mine with some meanly pan fried belly pork – the flavours were fixatingly stunning.

Vegetarians turn away now…! A full meat chilli!

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Vegetarians turn away now...! A full meat chilli!

I have dabbled with different chilli recipes for many many moons – and have tried many many varieties. Everyone has their own version and each time folk make them they get a different twist – it’s what makes this dish so exciting and so cook friendly. The recipe I now base my current version on is Hugh Fearneley-Whittingstall’s from his magnificent book simply entitled – Meat. It is a stonker. A no nonsense meat feast of a dish that gets up and bites back.

INGREDIENTS FOR 8-10 PEOPLE – OR 4 VERY VERY HUNGRY FOLK

1kg minced beef
500 gm diced shoulder pork
250 gm chorizo sliced into chunks
500 gm borlotti beans or kidney beans or a mix of both
Olive oil
2 large onions chopped
3 green chillies deseeded and chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsps dark brown sugar
2 400gm tins of good chopped tomatoes
250 ml beef stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
Some dried oregano and thyme
3 tbsp of hot chilli powder
Black pepper
Fresh coriander

Soured cream to serve

Heat oil in large pan. Brown all meats in batches. Transfer to a large stock pot or casserole dish. Add more oil. Sweat onions on a slightly lower heat until a little brown. Add to meat along with all other ingredients except the beans and coriander.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently. Cook for at least an hour – I usually leave it for at least an hour and a half. No lid! Add beans for last twenty minutes. Taste – adjust seasoning – maybe just black pepper – I have never had to add salt. Add the roughly chopped coriander just before serving and stir through.

Serve with rice – I put a little turmeric in mine – cos it looks nice! And a pot of soured cream. Or you could serve with naan bread or tacos or crusty bread – or even a baked potato.

This is a demon of a dish – a veritable feast of flavours. So much more than some of the limp versions you see in pubs.

Enjoy.

Khao Man Ghai Sunday….

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Ok , where were we…time to catch up after a fabulous Sunday. I promised Kay, a fellow blogger – find her at @whatscookingmum  – this recipe. Here it is – a version of a Rick Stein recipe I saw years ago Khao Man Ghai…..that is…basically….poached chicken…but hey…what a poached chicken!

1.5kg free-range chicken / Freshly ground black pepper /  3 sticks of lemon grass, split / 5 garlic cloves a red chilli pierced /  Small piece of ginger peeled / tablespoon of cumin seeds / 6 spring onions, trimmed or 4 small shallots finely chopped / Handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander.

Pop the chicken in a large pan – I use a pasta pan. Pop half the coriander, half the onions, half the garlic and a stick of the lemon grass in the cavity. Then add the ginger, chilli, cumin seeds and the rest of the garlic, lemon grass, coriander and  onions to the pan. Grind over lots of black pepper and a sprinkle or two of rock salt. Top up the pan carefully with cold water until it is completely immersed. Pop a lid on – bring to the boil..then turn down the heat very low and leave for an hour.

When you take it out, be careful as you could end up with poultry carnage as the carcass will be close to falling apart. Transfer to a plate and skin. All of the meat will easily drop off the bone. This is a very, very economical dish as nothing is wasted. The stock can be used for a soup the next day. I served it with a saffron flavoured basmati rice and lightly stir fried choi sum in sesame seed oil…oh….and lots of different sauces e.g sweet chilli, plum. barbecue, hot chilli etc etc. After you have piled some chicken on the rice, ladle over a spoon or two of the wondrous stock. 

You get the general drift. It is an absolute winner of a dish – a real gem. All the plates were cleaned within an inch of their pattern! Beware!

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