Moules marinière

Moules MariniereImage: bbc.co.uk/food
Moules Mariniere
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

Mussels are in season in any month that has an ‘R’ is the old British adage, and this classic French\Belgian recipe is a restaurant classic which is deceptively easy to replicate at home. Although I love the mussels, my favourite part of the dish is the creamy white wine sauce, mopped up with fresh crusty bread, like a home-made Irish Soda Bread.

Ingredients

  • 1.75kg fresh live mussels
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 15g butter
  • a bouquet garni of tied parsley stalks, thyme stems and bay leaves
  • 100ml dry white wine or cider
  • 120ml double cream
  • handful of parsley leaves, coarsley chopped

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Method

  1. Wash the mussels under plenty of cold, running water, discarding any open ones that won’t close when lightly squeezed ot tapped.
  2. Pull out the tough, fibrous beards protruding from between the tightly closed shells and then knock off any barnacles with the back of a large knife, giving the mussels another quick rinse to remove any little pieces of shell and beard.
  3. Soften the garlic and shallots in the butter with the bouquet garni, in a large pan big enough to take all the mussels (it should only be half full so that thay have enough space to steam).
  4. Add the mussels and wine or cider, turn up the heat, then cover and steam them open in their own juices for 3-4 minutes. 
  5. Give the pan a good shake every now and then.
  6. Remove the bouquet garni, add the cream and chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
  7. Spoon into four large warmed bowls (discarding any closed mussels)

Serve with lots of crusty bread (chose your favourtie Gluten free bread for a gluten free version), to mop up the creamy sauce.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Roasted Chicken and Chorizo

Roasted Chorizo and ChickenImage: bbc.co.uk/food
Roasted Chorizo and Chicken
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

This is one of my ‘One pot wonders’ a tasty chicken and chorizo roasted in the same tin. It infuses the great paprika and herb flavours into the chicken and veg, and saves on washing up.

Ingredients

500g new potatoes, such as Charlotte
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs (approximately 500g)
1 tsp smoked paprika
pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
pinch dried chillie flakes (optional)
handful fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tsp dried thyme
115g/4oz piece dried chorizo sausage
4 ripe tomatoes (or about 150g cherry tomatoes)
1 red or orange pepper, deseeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper for seasoning

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
  2. Halve or quarter the potatoes, depending on their size (to produce evenly sized chunks).
  3. Place in a large non-stick roasting tin and toss with two tablespoons of the oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, then put into the oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Cut the chicken thighs in half, add the smoked paprika along with the dried chillies and cinnamon, if using. Scatter with half the thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper, stir through and set aside.
  5. Make a nick in the skin of the chorizo then, peel away the papery skin and cut into chunks or rounds.
  6. When the potatoes have had 15 minutes roasting, give them a stir, then nestle the chicken and tomatoes into the pan.
  7. Scatter with the chorizo, garlic and the remaining thyme leaves, then season with salt and pepper.
  8. Drizzle the remaining oil all over, and return to the oven to roast for 20 minutes more, stirring half-way.
  9. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes and tomatoes are turning golden brown and crisp at the edges

Serve and enjoy….

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

 

 

Bara Brith

Bara BrithImage: bbc.co.uk/food
Bara Brith
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

Along with Welsh Cakes, I remember my Welsh paternal Grandmother Gwen making this wonderfully sticky cake. Although this tea-bread is made using yeast by commercial bakers, my grandmother’s recipe for Bara Brith or ‘Mottled Bread’ uses a standard quick mix method once you’ve soaked the dried fruit in tea.

Makes 1 cake

Ingredients

  • 450g dried mixed fruit
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 300ml warm black tea (standard english tea-bag)
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

Method

  1. In a large bowl soak the fruit and sugar in strained tea and leave overnight.
  2. Next day preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. 
  3. Line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
  4. Mix the remaining ingredients into the fruit mixture and beat well.
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake the oven and bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Serve, sliced thicky with plenty of butter.

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakesimage: bbc.co.uk/food
Welsh Cakes
image: bbc.co.uk/food

My Welsh grandmother, Gwen, always had a batch of these ready for when we went to see herwhen I was younger. So they still remind me of her. These griddle cakes are really quick ad easy to make and make a great tea time treat alongside with the other Welsh favourite; ‘Bara Brith‘.

Makes 8-10

Ingredients

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 110g salted butter, diced
  • 85g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • handful of sultanas
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • milk, if needed
  • extra butter, for greasing

Method

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the diced butter.
  2. Rub with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.(You can pusle in a food processor if you’re feeling lazy)
  3. Add the sugar, sultanas and beaten egg and mix well to form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.
  4. Roll the dough out on a floured board to a thickness of about 5mm.
  5. Cut into rounds with a 7.5–10cm plain cutter.
  6. Rub a heavy iron griddle or pan with butter, wipe away the excess and place on the hob until it is heated through.
  7. Cook the Welsh cakes a few at a time for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown.
  8. Remove from the griddle and dust with caster sugar while still warm.

They can be eaten warm or stored in an airtight container for a week

Pea and Ham Soup

Pea & Ham SoupImage: bbc.co.uk/food
Pea & Ham Soup
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

This is one of those soups that bring memories of childhood in the cold British winter streaming back. It’s one of those warming comfort foods that my Mum used to cook to drive the cold from my little brother’s and my bones after playing outside. This Pea and ham soup is a really satisfying dinner, ready in 15 minutes, using simple ingredients you probably already have in the cupboard.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or butter if you prefer
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large potato (about 250g), peeled, cut into small cubes
  • 300g frozen petits pois or garden peas
  • 400ml chicken stock (use a gluten free option for a gluten free recipe)
  • 200ml semi-skimmed or whole milk
  • 100g thick cut, good quality ham (Smoked ham adds to the flavour)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 2 – 4 – Gluten Free*

Method

  1. Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan on low or medium heat, then add the onion and potato.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to coat the vegetables in the oil.
  3. Take a piece of baking paper large enough to cover the top of the pan, scrunch it up, wet it then unfold it. Lay the paper over the surface of the vegetables, sealing them in right to the edges of the pan (this helps cook the vegetables more quickly).
  4. Put a lid on the pan, cook on a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the onions are soft and translucent.
  5. Remove the paper and add the peas and stock to the pan, then bring to the boil.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes until all of the peas have floated to the top of the stock and are tender and bright.
  7. Take the pan off the heat. Using an immersion blender, process the peas until very smooth.
  8. Add the milk (or, if preferred, use more stock, water or cream).
  9. Tear in most of the ham.
  10. Bring the soup back to a simmer, then season to taste with salt and pepper, remembering that the ham is fairly salty.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls then scatter with the rest of the ham.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Whisky Cream Sauce

Whisky Cream Sauce
Whisky Cream Sauce

This rich sauce, made with cream and Scotch Whisky is the prefect companion to Haggis and Clapshot on Burns Night. The subtle smoky notes from the Whisky are perfect with the richness of Haggis.

Serves 4 – 6 Gluten Free*

Ingredients

  • 500ml/17fl oz double cream
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp whisky
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • ½ lemon, juice only

Method

  1. Heat the double cream in a pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the wholegrain mustard, Dijon mustard and whisky and stir to combine.
  3. Increase the heat until the mixture is simmering and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
  5. Stir in the tablespoon of chives, then whisk in the lemon juice.

Serve drizzled over slices of Haggis, with a mound of Orkney Clapshot for that perfect Burns Night meal on the 25th January

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Orkney Clapshot

Orkney Clapshot
Orkney Clapshot

Burns night is fast approaching and thoughts turn to Haggis. Although the regular accompaniment to this is ‘tatties and neeps’ I prefer Calpshot. I was introduced to this during a visit to the cafe at the top of Cairngorm Mountain a good few years ago. The chef was from the Orkney’s and this was was their staple addition to the Burns Night Meal.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients

  • 400g floury white potatoes such as Maris Piper, peeled and diced
  • 400g carrots, diced
  • 400g swede (The Scots know this as yellow turnip)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 50g butter
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Method

  1. Put the potatoes, swede, carrot and onion into a pan of boiling water and cook until tender.
  2. Drain and mash
  3. Stir in the butter and cream along with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Serve, with Haggis and a splash of whisky cream sauce.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Moro’s Arroz a la marinera

Moro’s Arroz a la Marinera

My current fascination seems to be with food from the Moorish influenced regions of Europe and the Mediterranean. This wonderful Spanish fish and rice stew (paella) recipe is taken from the menu at Sam & Sam Clark’s Moro, a southern Mediterranean restaurant based in London’s vibrant East End.

Ingredients

  • 300g North Atlantic prawns preferably in their shells
  • 1l fish stock (use a gluten free stock for a gluten free version of the recipe)
  • 1 small pinch of saffron (about 20 threads)
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ large spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 dried ñoras peppers , seeds and stalks removed, broken into small pieces and covered with boiling water, or 1 tsp sweet paprika.
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 250g Calasparra rice. (If you can’t get Calasparra, then Bomba will do in it’s place, which Waitrose stock under their own brand which is also Gluten free)
  • 75ml white wine
  • 300g monkfish fillets, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 squid the size of your hand, cleaned and scored
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Serves 4 – 6 – Gluten Free*

Method

  1. Peel the prawns and put in the fridge.
  2. Transfer the shells to a large saucepan over a high heat and add the fish stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes so that the flavour infuses the stock.
  3. Remove from the heat, strain the stock and add the saffron. Set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-to-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the onion and both the green and ñoras peppers and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring every so often.
  6. Now stir in the chopped garlic and fennel seeds and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the garlic and the onions have some colour and are sweet.
  7. Add the rice to the pan and stir for 1 minute to coat with the oil. (Up to this point everything can be cooked in advance.
  8. The next stage should be started about 20 minutes before you wish to eat.
  9. When you are ready to cook the rice, bring the stock to the boil.
  10. Remove and keep aside. Place the paella pan (or large heavy based pan) over a medium-high heat and add the wine, followed by the hot stock, and season.
  11. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking, then add the pieces of monkfish and squid and turn the heat down to medium- low.
  12. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the prawns, turn off the heat and cover. Let the rice sit for 3-5 minutes, then check the seasoning. (The rice should be tender and surrounded by a soupy sauce.)

Serve with parsley sprinkled over and lemon wedges.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Jewelled Pumpkin Rice

Jewelled Pumpkin Rice
Jewelled Pumpkin Rice

We were sorting through the freezer this weekend working out what was stored in there and doing a bit of a rationalisation. I saw a bag of raw Pumpkin that had been saved this years Halloween ‘Jack O Lantern’. and wondered what I could do with it, maybe a Spiced Pumpkin soup or something more exotic. Sam and Sam Clarke at Moro, a Southern Mediterranean restaurant in London’s East End had a recipe for Jewelled Pumpkin Rice in their Moro East Cookbook, which looked stunning and defiantly one to try. The muted golds and yellow with the warming middle eastern spices are evocative of holidays in the North African side of the Med.

Serves 4 – 6 Gluten Free*

Ingredients

  • 500g peeled and seeded Pumpkin, butternut, or other winter squash, cut into dice
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • big pinch of saffron (about 50 strands)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • cinnamon stick about 5 cms long
  • 4 allspice berries, crushed
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 15g dried barberrys (or currants)
  • 50g shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (freshly podded and ground if possible)
  • 300g basmati rice, soaked in tepid, salted water for 1 hour
  • 450ml vegetable/bouillon stock (use a Gluten Free stock for a Gluten Free recipe)

Method

Preheat the oven to 230 degrees centigrade/Gas 8. Toss the squash with half of the salt and the olive oil. Spread in a baking tray, and roast for 30 minutes. Mix the saffron with 3 tbsp boiling water, and add 25g of the butter. Set aside.

Heat the remaining butter in a medium pan with the cinnamon and allspice until it foams, then add the onion and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to colour. Add the barberries (or currants), pistachios, and cardamom, and cook for 10 minutes more, until the onion is golden and sweet.

Drain the rice and add it to the pan, stirring for a minute or two before pouring in the stock. Taste for seasoning, scatter with the roasted squash, cover with greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid, and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Remove the lid and greaseproof paper, and drizzle with the buttery saffron water. Replace the lid and leave to rest, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes.

 

It can be served as a vegetarian main or as a spiced side dish to a Tagine.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list 
are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change 
their base ingredients frequently.

 

Oil Infusions

During a quiet moment, which a few and far between during the holiday break, I had a chance to look for new foodie ideas and recipes. This one reminded me that I should get as batch of flavoured oils on the go again, The Rosemary and Garlic infused oil is a brilliant variation that I haven’t thought of, along with the Thai infusion!
Not That Mr T

Homemade With Mess

Flavoured oils are one of my kitchen essentials. If you go to any farmers market there is almost always a flavoured olive oil stand, and they are usually crazily expensive! What is great though is these are so cheap and easy to do yourself. Simply get yourself some oil bottles, fill them with whatever takes your fancy and then top up with oil. These can also be re used again and again, just make sure you sterilise them between each use otherwise the insides will not stay so pretty. Leave them to fuse for a week or so and they are ready to go. Below are just a few suggestions of flavour combinations.

y 007

Hot and Spicy

Simply fill with chilli’s and some dried chilli flakes and then top up with olive oil. If the chilli’s are quite fat then just chop them in half.

This is great to add to…

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