The Mixing Bowl

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole, but this is no ordinary chicken casserole.  You might call it ‘Chicken Thighs Braised in Cider with Sweet Potatoes’ because that’s what it’s actually named by the chef Neven Maguire!
Chicken Casserole
I ran with my friend Deirdre this morning and we were blown to bits by the wind and came home absolutely saturated from the rain. I am well and truly demented with this weather. – forgive me, I’m Irish and it’s an obsession.  It’s mid April but it may as well be mid November and thus this type of comforting food is called for.  My kids and their cousin Kate all devoured this dish and have demanded that I make this again.  Neven is a chef and owner of a renowned restaurant however his recipes are always accessible. Granted I did not have redcurrant jelly (I could have easily bought some) but chose to use cranberry sauce instead as a half jar of it langours in the fridge waiting to be used up.
The recipe is one that Neven Maguire has contributed to ‘The Mixing Bowl – Second Helpings’ cookbook produced by ‘Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services.’  More than just a cookbook, each recipe gives a lovely snapshot or anecdote relating to the people who contributed recipes.  All these people are connected in one way or another by the services of ‘Our Lady’s Hospice’ and it is a beautifully varied collection.
The Mixing Bowl
Chicken Thighs in Cider
From Seafood Chowder, Buckwheat Galettes, Chinese Sweet Pork Chops to Kebabs Robana Bhorat, Fig Pudding and Granny’s Oat Cakes you can tell that this is not fixed into any one style or trend of cooking.  I’ve just flicked onto a page with a recipe called ’21st Century Bread and Butter Pudding’, replacing the bread with hot cross buns, panettone or brioche, this is a clever recipe to have on standby after Christmas or Easter when those baked goods are about to go past their best.
Perhaps if we get to bask in a few of the rays that have been promised by the Met Eireann weather service over the weekend I might have a go at the Parsley Lemonade Liquor for when I’m parched with the thirst but for now I’ll be turning the heat up and looking forward to ‘second helpings’ of Neven’s ‘Chicken Thighs Braised in Cider with Sweet Potatoes‘ (click the link for the recipe) or if you can please think about buying the book.  It would make a wonderful gift for someone and in a tremendously good cause. (again please click this link for details – The Mixing Bowl – Second Helpings Cookbook).
‘Til next time, Sheila.

quinoa

Quinoa with beetroot & feta

Quinoa with Beetroot & Feta.

Triple Quinoa is a mixture of white, red and black seeds that fluff up when cooked.  This salad can be served hot or cold and would be perfect with some chicken or lamb for a substantial meal. I cook the quinoa with some halved garlic cloves for flavour and never one to throw things away these get added to the salad too as a lurking surprise for the lucky recipient.
quinoa with feta and beetrootQuinoa with Beetroot & Feta.
You will need:
150g quinoa
500ml chicken stock
2 fat cloves garlic
Fistful pinenuts
1 lemon (juice of)
Rocket leaves
Block of feta
Cooked beetroot (i usually buy this vacuum packed)
Method:
Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a sieve and then place in a saucepan with 500ml chicken stock and two fat garlic cloves peeled and cut in half.  Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 mins.  Keep an eye on the liquid level and top up as needed.
Once cooked drain off excess liquid and set aside.
Dry fry the pinenuts until golden brown.
Cube or crumble the feta and cut beetroot into bitesize cubes.
Place the quinoa into a serving bowl and stir through the juice of a lemon then roughly chopped rocket leaves followed by the cubed beetroot and feta. Scatter the toasted pinenuts on top and serve.
Enjoy!
’til next time, Sheila.

Platter Black Eye Bean Meatballs

Black Eye Meatballs with loaded Spaghetti

Black Eye Bean Meatballs & Loaded Spaghetti

Platter Black Eye Bean Meatballs
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.

kale and brocoli
kale broccoli and lemon blitz

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 .
Bowl of Meatballs
Black Eye Bean Meatballs & Loaded Spaghetti
Serves 6.
(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
2 egg
1 red chilli (or use some dried chilli flakes)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 red onion
Spaghetti
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.
Enjoy!
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!

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Red Onion Relish – Recipe 10 of 12 from Enjoy!

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Simple to make.  Just add time!  As below in the picture you can see how a dollop of red onion relish can lift a simple crostini.  Great in any sandwich or even as a pizza topping and perfect on a cheese board, a jar of this would make a very welcome gift for the foodie in your life.

Caramelised Red Onion Relish
 You can store caramelised red onion relish in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks to use whatever way you fancy.
Makes 2 medium jars (2 x 350ml Kilner)
You will need:
6 medium red onions
2 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar (or any dark brown sugar)
Method:
Peel, halve and thinly slice the red onions. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low to medium heat and gently soften the sliced onions for 35 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar and muscovado sugar. Stir well and cook for 3–4 minutes, then set aside to cool before spooning into sterilised jars.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Cranberry Croque Monsieur – Recipe 9 of 12 from Enjoy!

Cranberry Croque Monsieur
Look at this for a beautiful image, I can’t believe that it was photographed in my home.  It really shows how something very simple can be spectacular.  There is a misconception that because I am a food blogger with 2 published recipe books that the food in my house is always amazing. It’s not!  There are days when I am so busy with work that I don’t have time to shop or cook and there is always a frozen pizza or two in my freezer.  I am not a purist food saint.  Food made from fresh ingredients will always taste better than frozen food though and on one of the busy days I would definitely opt for this glorious croque monsieur over a pizza.   This will be an excellent use of any left-over baked ham and cranberry sauce after Christmas and that cheese, there will definitely be left-over cheese.

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Cranberry Croque Monsieur
Serves 1
You will need:
2 slices of granary or multi-seed whole-wheat bread
Butter
Cranberry sauce
Cooked ham slices
Cheddar cheese slices
Rocket leaves
Red onion, thinly sliced
Method:
Heat the sandwich toaster. Butter both sides of the bread, then smear one side with a generous layer of cranberry sauce. Cover with slices of ham and cheese and a scattering of rocket leaves and sliced onion. Close the sandwich, toast until golden brown and enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.