What do you want to eat? Maybe the question should be what do you want to cook? At this time of year with the seasons changing and a chill sometimes seeping in through any gap it can find, you may be looking for comfort in a bowl. This particular bowl of comfort also has the added benefits of being quick, simple and cheap. The latter of course depending on how in-season broccoli is for you, whether your pesto and parmesan are gourmet or own-brand and yes the humble rasher of bacon too could veer towards expensive if you are wont to artisanal produce. Well each to their own on that front, only a food snob would judge you by your choice of ingredients and boy do they exist. Regardless of provenance I guarantee that the end result will be delicious. (Perfect for any students of any age in your life.)
Spaghetti with Pesto, Bacon and Broccoli
You will need: (serves 4–5) 400g broccoli (1 small head)
2 garlic cloves
300g cherry tomatoes
400g dried spaghetti
10 rashers (approximately 300g)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp basil pesto (see next page for home-made recipe)
Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish Method: Fill up a large saucepan with boiling water and bring it back to the boil.
Prepare the broccoli by giving it a quick rinse and breaking it up into florets and set aside.
Peel and crush the garlic and set aside.
Rinse and slice the cherry tomatoes in half and set aside.
Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water for 6* minutes, while gently frying the rashers in a frying pan in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Occasionally stir the spaghetti so that it does not stick together.
After 6* minutes, add the broccoli florets to the spaghetti and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the rashers and add in the crushed garlic and halved cherry tomatoes.
After a total cooking time of 8* minutes drain the spaghetti and broccoli, retaining about a half a cup of the cooking water.
Roughly chop the rashers in the pan and then stir the rashers, garlic and cherry tomato mix into the spaghetti and broccoli.
Stir in the pesto and enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten.
Serve hot with some extra pesto and grated Parmesan.
*you may need to adjust the cooking time depending on cooking time of your spaghetti so check the pack
I love food. That’s a given. This is one of the best things that I have ever cooked. What that means is that this is a really good dish. REALLY GOOD! Okay, you get it, I like this Chicken Biryani. Let me count the ways though : It is easy. It is relatively quick. It is a crowd pleaser. It will feed a crowd (yes, these are two different points). It cooks in one pot. It is delicious. I like it. 7. There are 7 reasons why this is a really good dish! And you don’t care, you just want the recipe so move along there Sheila and share…
Couple of notes, if you are finding your way with cooking and exploring new things you may yet have come to use cardamom. Don’t be put off by ingredients that may be unknown to you. You will find cardamom pods easily in the super market and you will bash the outer husks using a pestle and mortar or a rolling pin to release the inner seeds. Another note I like to share is about fresh ginger. Keep it in the freezer and grate what you need straight from frozen using a microplane grater, there is no need to peel ginger.
Chicken Biryani Recipe Feeds 6 easily. You will need : 250g frozen peas
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion chopped finely
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp Garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
8 cardomon pods seeded
Half teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tsp cumin
Chicken breast 500g
2 tbsp tomatoes purée
2 cups quick cook rice = approx. 350g
Tin coconut milk
2 cup veg stock = approx. 250ml
Flaked almonds to toast
Fresh Coriander to serve Method:
Place 250g frozen peas in jug of boiling hot water and set aside
Finely chop the onion, grate the ginger, crack open the cardamom pods to release the seeds
Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in large pan over medium heat
Gently fry the onion for 5 mins.
Stir in the following spices :
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp Garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
8 cardomon pods seeded
Half teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tsp cumin
Cook spices couple minutes stirring through the onion.
Add chopped chicken 500g and 2 tbsp tomatoes purée, mix to coat chicken with spice
Add the drained peas stir through
Add 2 cups rice stir through
Pour in Can of coconut milk and the 2 cups veg stock
Raise the heat until just begging to bubble, stir well reduce the heat to medium and cover with lid for 10 mins
(Check every so often with wooden spoon that nothing is sticking to bottom of pan if it is give it a stir and turn down the heat a little.)
Toast the flaked almonds in a frying pan
Chop the fresh coriander
Once the Chicken Biryani has simmered for 10 minutes remove the lid and test to see if rice cooked, if not simmer a little longer covered and add more liquid if any danger of sticking.Turn the heat up for a few minutes more until just bubbling again.
Serve with the toasted almonds and fresh coriander.}
Lemon & Parmesan Chicken
Here’s a really easy way to get some vegetables into you and perhaps coax them into a cranky child. I’ve taken to blitzing greens lately, in particular kale and broccoli and I just blanch them with hot water for speedy cooking.
You might notice that I’m using a glass baking dish in the pictures here and that’s a change that I’ve made lately too. I was fed up of going at my rusting baking trays with ‘steel wool’ in efforts to scrape the burned on bits off and they just never felt really clean after the first use, whereas the glass ones clean beautifully in the dishwasher.
I’ve also pulled out my spaghetti measure in an effort to not end up with a mountain of left-over pasta.
There’s a video that accompanies this recipe over on my instagram and facebook pages if you’d like to see as well as read. Lemon & Parmesan Chicken
You will need:
4 chicken breasts
3 fat garlic cloves
250g cherry tomatoes
300ml chicken stock
tub creme fraiche – 200ml or 250g approx
1 lemon (using zest & juice)
150g washed and roughly chopped/shredded kale
Small handful pinenuts
Small handful grated parmesan
(Note: Boil the kettle and have the food processor out for blitzing kale. You also need a colander set over a large saucepan)
Heat the fan oven to 200
Peel and slice the fat garlic cloves in half
Slice the chicken breasts in half
Place the cut garlic, chicken and the whole cherry tomatoes into a baking dish / tray and drizzle with some oil, mix well to coat everything and place in oven to partially cook for 10 mins.
Meanwhile get on with some of the prep. : blitz the kale using a food processor and add in the zest of a lemon and set aside.
Juice the lemon and set aside.
Grate the parmesan and set aside.
Once the chicken has had 10 minutes of cooking time add in the chicken stock and return to cook in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Finish off the rest of the prep while the chicken finishes cooking :
Dry fry the pine-nuts until golden brown and set aside.
Cook the spaghetti.
Place the blitzed kale and zested lemon in a colander placed over a large saucepan and pour over a kettle full of boiling water pressing the water through the colander with a spatula so that the kale is blanched but not soggy.
Remove the chicken from the oven, take out the chicken pieces and set aside. Add the creme fraiche and lemon zest into the chicken stock and mix with a whisk to form a sauce. Add in the cooked spaghetti and the blanched kale and mix well.
Place the chicken back on top. Grate parmesan all over and top with toasted pine-nuts.
‘Til next time, Sheila
We’ve gotten over the holidays but still have a bit to go to see the other side of Winter which is hard. Unless of course you live in Australia or other sunny climes. Comfort food is a natural requirement in the cold but when you’ve had wall to wall chocolate for 2 weeks most of us are contemplating getting our jaws wired.
This recipe is a healthier version of spaghetti meatballs that will still satisfy even without the grease or the heavy sauce. The sauce is ultra-lightweight and the meatballs leave much of their meat fat behind in the baking tray rendering them more healthy than usual. I’ve used black eye beans for added non-meat protein. The tins of beans I buy are pre-cooked and called black eye beans, on the tin it says they’re also known as black eye peas but I’m no expert!
The spaghetti gets ‘loaded’ up with extra nutrients in the form of blitzed and blanched kale and broccoli. I’m loving my food processor lately and using it to speed up the cooking process of whatever I can. Cooking the veggies in this way means minimal loss of nutrients as they are quickly blanched and ready to serve . Black Eye Bean Meatballs & Loaded Spaghetti
(leftovers reheat well in the microwave.) You will need:
2 x 400g packs round steak beef mince (800g total)
2 x 400g tin black eye beans
1 red chilli (or use some dried chilli flakes)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 red onion
200ml creme fraiche
zest & juice 1 lemon
Handful Flaked Almond
Grated parmesan and lemon slices to serve Method:
Pre-heat a fan oven to 200C
Use a food processor to blitz the red onion and red chilli then blitz in the eggs.
Place the minced meat and drained black eye beans in a large bowl.
Add the blitzed onion mix to the meat and beans along with the spices (cumin & coriander) and mix well, season with salt and pepper.
Shape into golf-ball sized meatballs placing them onto a baking tray (bit bigger than golfball!). You should get around 24.
Put these in the oven at 200C for 15 mins and then reduce heat to 180C for 10 mins.
Meanwhile roughly chop the broccoli and blitz in food processor. Place in large colander.
Blitz the kale and add into the broccoli and mix well, add in the zest of the lemon and mix through.
Boil a kettle of water and with the colander positioned over a large saucepan pour boiling water over the broccoli and kale to blanch it. Press it with a spatula to squeeze out excess water and set aside.
Toast / dry-fry the flaked almonds and set aside.
Whisk together the juice of the lemon and the tub of creme fraiche in a jug and set aside.
Keep an eye on the meatball cooking time and at around 20 mins go ahead and cook the spaghetti.
When everything is ready, strain the spaghetti and reserve a cupful of the cooking water.
Put the spaghetti into a large platter, mix through the blanched kale and broccoli and the creme fraiche sauce with enough cooking water to coat everything well.
Place the meatballs on top, scattering over the flaked almonds.
Serve with grated parmesan and sliced lemons.
Til next time, Sheila
p.s. I’ll be posting a video on my instagram and facebook pages over the coming days so check that out if you like!
Ta Dah! Recipe 12 of 12. So I set myself the task of sharing 12 recipes from ‘Enjoy!’ over 12 weeks until Christmas and here we are!!!! It really does just sneak up in the end. I love it. I love the lights. I love the buzz. I love the frenzy in town and even the panicky feeling that you’ve forgotten something. I did tweet during the week about something that bugs me though, the idea of the ‘PERFECT’ Christmas, that’s absurd. We’re being sold perfection as something achievable and desirable and if it does exist then it would imply that there is just one version, the ‘perfect’ version of Christmas. But Christmas is a unique experience to us all, the things that make us buzz, the movies that we want to watch, the rituals of gift-opening etc.. they vary in every household. I’m wishing you all a unique and real Christmas.
In light of uniqueness here’s a recipe for a Biscuit Cake instead of traditional fruit Christmas Cake. There’s still plenty of time and if you’ve kids they’ll love getting involved in the decoration. Note:
A ‘springform tin’ is one used for cheesecakes that has a spring release on the side so that you can remove it easily.
White Christmas Biscuit Cake You will need: For the biscuit cake: 110g unsalted butter, softened
110g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
110g caster sugar
225g McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits
Assortment of finger biscuits and sweets, to decorate For the topping: 5 x 58g Mars bars
3 x 100g bars of white chocolate Method: Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper . Place the ring of a springform tin on the paper – you aren’t using a cake tin, just the ring with the base removed to shape the cake.
Beat the butter until it’s smooth, then beat in the caster sugar.
In a separate bowl, break the biscuits into almond-sized pieces.
Melt the dark chocolate (I use the microwave) and gradually beat it into the butter mixture until smooth. Add the broken biscuits and stir well to cover with the cake mix.
Spoon the chocolate biscuit mix into the cake ring. Press it down and out to the sides with the back of the spoon until it’s even. Place the cake in the fridge to set overnight.
The next day, remove the cake ring from the set cake. Turn the biscuit cake upside down and place it on a wire rack – the bottom will be smoother, and it will now be the top. Put some parchment paper underneath the wire rack to catch the drips from the melted chocolate.
Cut the Mars bars into small pieces and melt them in a saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of water, mixing well to form a smooth topping. Pour the melted Mars bar topping onto the biscuit cake and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour. You can keep the piece of parchment paper to use it again for the next layer of melted chocolate.
Break the white chocolate bars into small pieces and melt them in a bowl in the microwave. Remove the cake from the fridge and set the rack back over the piece of parchment paper. Pour the melted white chocolate over the chilled biscuit cake, then carefully transfer the cake from the wire rack onto a cake stand or serving plate.
Have fun decorating with Christmas-themed sweets on top and white chocolate finger biscuits around the side.
& Have a wonderfully unique Christmas!! Sheila.