Spicy meatballs in tomato sauce with dill and leek mash

In the proper Valentines Day tradition I made a nice dinner for myself this evening! 🙂

I was flicking around on the internet trying to find recipes to use up some fresh dill I had in the fridge and I came across a recipe for Swedish meatballs with dill mash which looked tasty. I decided to change the meatball recipe, but keep the dill mash, although I did amend it to add some fried leeks as well.

Anyway, I cobbled this all together, but it came out well. I’d certainly cook it again.

Serves 1 (generously!)

For the meatballs:

250g of beef mince
½ a red onion, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1½ teaspoons of rose harissa paste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ a tablespoon of olive oil, for frying

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon of olive oil
½ a red onion, chopped
½ a red pepper, sliced
200g of chopped tomatoes
A generous dash of red wine
A handful of basil leaves, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the mash:

1 large baking potato, peeled and quartered
1 leek, thinly sliced
A large knob of butter, for frying
A large handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
A tablespoon of crème fraiche
20g of butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fry the sliced leek gently in the butter, over a medium heat, until softened. Pour the cooked leeks, and as much of the cooking butter as possible, into a small bowl and set aside until needed.

To make the meatballs –

Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the finely chopped red onion, until starting to soften.

Whilst the onion is frying empty the mince in to a large bowl and add the harissa paste and the crushed garlic. Season well.

Once the onions are fried, add them to the mince and harissa in the bowl. Mix well, ideally with your hands, until thoroughly combined. (it’s a messy business, so have a bit of kitchen roll to hand!)

Shape the mixture into evenly sized balls, each about an inch across. I got 7 balls out of this mixture.

Pop in the fridge to chill for about half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 200

Pop the potatoes in boiling, lightly salted, water and cook until tender.

Place the meatballs on a pre-heated, lightly greased, baking try and put them in the oven.

Cook for 14 minutes, turning once, half-way through the cooking time.

To make the sauce –

In a medium-sized frying pan heat the olive oil and gently fry the onions for a few minutes, until softened. Add the sliced pepper, and cook for a few minutes more.

Add a generous glug of red wine, and then stir in the chopped tomatoes. Season well with salt and pepper, add the basil leaves and stir well to combine. Simmer for about 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens. Add a bit more red wine if the sauce looks like becoming too thick. Keep warm until the meatballs an cooked and the mash is ready.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or so. Then mash them. Add the cooked leeks and reserved cooking butter, salt, pepper, a generous dash of olive oil, a little more softened butter, the chopped dill and the crème fraiche. Still well until the mixture is creamy and smooth.

Serve the meatballs with the thickened sauce poured over them, and the dill and leek mash on the side.

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Spanish pork and vegetable stew (Guisado de Cerdo Estofado con Legumbres)

Last night I had the lovely Figgy over for our regular Tuesday evening dinner and Who shenanigans (we opted for Sarah’s first story – The Time Warrior!) and I decided to make his recipe, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. It’s from a book that Alberto bought me ages ago called The Food of Spain and I’ve only made it once before, long before I started this blog. I made it for Alberto and I but, at the time, he was so ill with flu that he couldn’t eat it, so I’ve never got his authentically Spanish opinion on it. Still, Fig thought it was, in his own words ’10 out of 10’, and even asked for seconds. I call that a success!

Serves 3

2 tablespoons of olive oil
600g of boneless pork shoulder, diced
4 large new potatoes, scrubbed (or peeled) and diced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
1 green pepper, de-seeded and diced
1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100g of jamon, torn
125g of chorizo, sliced
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
½ a bunch of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
100ml of white wine
250ml of chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 180.

In a large flame-proof casserole dish, heat the olive oil over a medium heat Add the pork, onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or so, until the onion is starting to soften and the pork is browned all over.

Add the peppers, jamon and chorizo. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, and then add the potatoes, wine, sherry, tomatoes, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Stir well to combine. Season well with salt and pepper.

Pop the lid on, transfer to the oven, and cook for 2 hours, until the meat is very tender and the liquid has thickened slightly.

Serve immediately.

Delicious! A hearty, robust stew – just the thing for a cold evening with a glass of rioja.

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Chicken tagine with olives, preserved lemons and butternut squash

Neil and I had the lovely Alberto over on Saturday evening for dinner, (late) Christmas presents, and the first two episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 4. (my, but Gia Gunn is annoying! When’s she going to sashay away?) It was the first time I’d seen Alberto this year and it was lovely to have a catch up and a good laugh!

I fancied a tagine for dinner, so flicked through a few relevant cookbooks until I found this one in Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. (actually, I found about four different recipes, and only eventually decided which one to go for whilst wandering around Sainsbury’s!) It’s lovely and simple to do, with lots of delicious flavours. The recipe says to cook it on the hob, but after adding the water, I transferred everything to my tagine and cooked it in the oven. I also added some diced butternut squash, partly to increase the veg content a bit, but mostly because I had some that needed using up.

Serves 3

2 large chicken thighs per person
2 large brown onions, peeled and diced
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil
50g of butter
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
A pinch of saffron threads
2 teaspoons of boiling water
½ a medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
150g of pitted green olives, halved
3 preserved lemons, halved
A large handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180

Heat the butter, and a good drizzle of olive oil, in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes, until slightly softened, then add the garlic slices, and cook for a further minute. Then add the dry spices and stir well to combine.

Add the chicken thighs and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until sealed and starting to brown.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, grind the saffron threads in a pestle and mortar. The pour over the boiling water and allow the ground threads to steep for a couple of minutes.

Add the saffron water to the saucepan and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the chunks of butternut squash.

Pour in just enough water to cover the chicken thighs. Bring to the boil.

Then transfer everything to the tagine, pop the lid on and then place in the oven and cook for an hour and a half.

After an hour and a half add the olives and the preserved lemons to the tagine, put the lid back on and return to the oven to cook for a further 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, stir in the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Creamy bacon and squash, with tagliatelle

Last night I wanted to whip up something quick and tasty before going to Abigail’s. I also wanted to use up some of the fresh tagliatelle that I bought earlier in the week, as well as some of the squash that I’ve got. I cobbled this together and, if I do say so myself, the end result was delicious!

Serves 1

Olive oil
4 rashers of unsmoked back bacon, cut into strips
1 leek, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
80g petit pois
80-100g of butternut squash, peeled and diced
100ml of double cream
50ml of white wine
½ a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh tagliatelle for one

Preheat the oven to 200

Dice the squash into 1-1½ cm cubes. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside. (You can turn off the oven now – you won’t need it again.)

In a large frying pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat.

Add the leek to the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring continually, until it starts to soften. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further minute.

Toss in the bacon strips and fry for a couple of minutes until browned.

Add the wine, increase the heat slightly and bubble away until reduced by half.

Stir in the cream, squash, peas, dried chilli flakes and salt and pepper, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes or so, until thickened. (If it looks like thickening up too much, add another dash of white wine.)

Whilst the sauce is cooking, cook the tagliatelle in boiling water for 4 minutes, until al dente.

Drain the pasta and place in a serving bowl. Top with the creamy sauce and serve immediately.

Tasty and creamy, with just a touch of heat from the dried chillies.

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Tagliatelle with puttanesca sauce and chicken and peppers

Last night I made a roast chicken for Neil and I. The recipe I usually follow involves finely chopped anchovy fillets, mixed with butter and other things, shoved under the skin. This meant that I had some leftover anchovy fillets to use up, and so I decided to use them tonight to do a sort of puttanesca sauce for dinner. It’s not quite the proper puttanesca as I don’t really like olives, so I left them out.

I cobbled together the sauce from a couple of recipes that I found online, and then added shredded roast chicken from the remains of the previous day’s roast, and some thinly sliced red pepper. The end result came out rather well, rich, spicy and full of flavours. As I was throwing it together the measurements are a little imprecise, but you can always adjust it according to need as you’re going.

Serves 1

1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
1 teaspoon of capers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300ml of chopped tomatoes
A dash of red wine
A (large) pinch of dried chillies
Zest of ½ a lemon
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
A tablespoon of parsley leaves, freshly chopped

Fresh tagliatelle for 1 person
Shredded roast chicken
½ a red pepper, thinly sliced

Grated Parmigiano to serve

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium heat, and gently fry the garlic and chillies for a couple of minutes.

Then add the capers, anchovies and tomatoes. Stir well to combine, and then add a dash of red wine.

Simmer for five minutes or so, to slightly reduce and thicken the sauce. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice and (nearly all the) parsley. Season well with salt and pepper.

Add the shredded chicken and sliced peppers and cook for a further five minutes.

Whilst the sauce is cooking, cook the tagliatelle in boiling water for four minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Place the cooked tagliatelle in a bowl, top with the cooked chicken and sauce, garnish with grated Parmigiano and remaining parsley, and serve immediately.


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Chicken Makhani

Last night I had the lovely Fig over for our first dinner and Doctor Who session of 2019. (Time Flight, if you’re interested!) Due to Christmas and illness it’s nearly a month since I saw him last.

I’d found this recipe a while back on the BBC Good Food website and been meaning to give it a go for a while. It’s described as a “cheat’s” butter chicken recipe, as the use of pre-cooked chicken tikka fillets makes for a much shorter cooking time than normal.

I did bulk it out a little, as I had a couple of small chicken thigh fillets that needed using up, so I marinated them for a bit in tikka masala curry paste, before slicing them and lightly frying them before I cooked the dish. Then I just added them to the curry when I added the pre-cooked chicken.

I also added some pepper and mange tout to increase the veg content a bit.

Serves 2

1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
½ a red onion, peeled and finely chopped
250g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon of tomato puree
2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 or 3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
200ml of chicken stock
15g of ground almonds
1 teaspoon of caster sugar
1 x 200g pack of cooked chicken tikka fillets
1 tablespoon of reduced fat butter
1 teaspoon of garam masala
bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
80-100g of mange tout, cut in half

Heat a large wok over a medium heat and add the oil.

Gently fry the onion for a couple of minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and chicken stock and simmer fairly briskly, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and reduced.

Stir in the sliced pepper and mangetout, ground almonds, sugar and chicken pieces, and continue to cook, over a medium heat, for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving, stir in the butter, garam masala and coriander.


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Speedy sausage gnocchi gratin

Neil and I had the lovely Vanessa down from London for the weekend and so I needed something to cook us for dinner on Saturday evening. I was flicking around through some cookbooks and on the internet and I found this, lovely recipe on the Sainsbury’s website.

It’s definitely one I’ll do again – it’s tasty, full of flavour and wonderfully comforting with it’s sausage, tomatoey loveliness. It’s also quick and easy and can be done in 20 minutes.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 x 400g pack of good-quality sausages (I used Cumberland as I like them.)
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
A pinch of caster sugar
250g of frozen peas
1 x 500g pack of fresh gnocchi
1 x 125g ball of mozzarella, drained and torn into bits
25g of finely grated Parmesan or Parmiggiano
A dash of red wine

Heat the grill to high. (or pre-heat the oven to 200)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and squeeze the sausages out of their skins into the pan. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Fry over a high heat for about 5 minutes until starting to brown. (You might need a dash of red wine to deglaze the pan if some of the sausage meet sticks to the bottom of the pan.)

While the sausages are cooking, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

Add the chilli flakes and garlic to the sausage meat, stirring for about 1 minute until fragrant, then stir in the tomatoes, sugar and some seasoning. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the frozen peas to the boiling water and return to the boil. When the water is boiling again, tip in the gnocchi. Once it comes back to the boil again, the gnocchi will be ready.

Tip the gnocchi and peas into the sausage mixture. Add a dash of red wine to loosen the sauce.

Mix well, then scatter the mozzarella and Parmesan on top. Grill for 2-3 minutes until bubbling and golden. (I actually transferred it to a ceramic dish and cooked it in the oven for 10 minutes, rather than grilling it.)

Serve with a salad or some garlic bread. Or both.

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Korean pork Bulgogi stir-fry

Fig wasn’t feeling very well on Tuesday, so I had the lovely Phil over for dinner and Doctor Who instead. (Earthshock, from the lovely, shiny, new Season 19 Blu-Ray boxed set!)
I was thinking about what to cook, when I remembered that I had an unopened bottle of Bulgogi marinade in the cupboard that I had never tried, so I decided to give it a go.

I footled around online to find a recipe, and most of them spent a lot of time telling you how to make the bulgogi marinade from scratch – obviously I had no need of that part, and so I cobbled together a recipe from bits and pieces of the recipes I found.

I served it with basmati rice and some shredded, sautéed pak choi.

It’s certainly a tasty sauce, and quite spicy. I’ll definitely be giving it a go again. Next time I might even make it from scratch, which will give me an excuse to blog it a second time!

Serves 2

2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
350g of pork tenderloin fillet, sliced into 5mm slices
200ml (approx.) of Bulgogi sauce
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
100g of mangetout, cut in half
4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
A dash of dark soy sauce (optional)
Sesame seeds for garnish

At least an hour before cooking, place the sliced pork in a bowl, cover with the Bulgogi sauce (stirring well to combine) and cover with cling film. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, longer if possible.

Heat the groundnut oil in a wok over a medium heat.

Add the pork slices and fry, stirring continually, until browned.

Add the pepper and mangetout and stir well so that the vegetables are well covered in the marinade. Add a little more marinade if necessary.

Cook for 4 minutes or so, until the pork and vegetables are cooked though and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Serve garnished with sliced spring onions and sesame seeds.

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Sausage, pumpkin and sage casserole

I made this for me and Neil last night to eat whilst watching The Greatest Showman last night. (Good film, but Neil still has the tunes in his head this morning, so be warned – they’re ear-wormy!) I fancied some sort of sausage casserole, so I footled about and found this on the BBC website – tasty, warming and wintery – lovely. Accompanied by some cheesy mash and cavolo nero.

50g of butter
6 good-quality sausages, pricked several times with a fork (I used Cumberlands, as they are a favourite)
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage
1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and diced (I used a ¼ of a large butternut squash)
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of dark muscovado sugar
200g of canned chopped tomatoes (I actually used 400g of tomatoes and 200g of beans)
400g of canned cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
500ml of chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh flatleaf parsley, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C

Heat half the butter in a large ovenproof casserole over a medium heat and fry the sausages for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown all over.

Add the remaining butter, onion and shallots and fry for three minutes, or so, until softened.

Add the garlic and sage leaves, stir well to combine, and cook for a further three minutes.

Add the pumpkin and stir the mixture until the pumpkin pieces are well mixed in with the onions and shallots

Increase the heat to high and add the white wine vinegar. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add the stock, tomatoes, cannellini beans and sugar. Stir well to combine and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring the mixture to the boil, then pop the lid on and place in the over for one hour, or until the sausages are cooked through and the pumpkin is tender.

Serve sprinkled with the chopped flatleaf parsley.


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Oxtail with cider, prunes and beans

A bit of a delayed one here – I actually made this for myself on the 15th, and what with the rush on the run up to Christmas and everything, completely forgot about blogging it until now.

It’s a lovely, tasty recipe, but it does take a while as the oxtail needs to be slow-cooked. Worth the wait though – absolutely delicious. Be careful of biting into the juniper berries when eating though – sometimes the flavour can overwhelm everything else!

The recipe as listed here serves 6 – I cooked it just for myself, as Neil doesn’t like oxtail, but it’s easy to scale down, or up, as required. I kept the amounts of liquid the same, and so there was enough cooking ‘sauce’ left over to turn into a portion of soup the following day.

It’s another recipe from Orchards in the Oasis by Josceline Dimbleby.

Serves 6

3 large onions
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
Approximately 1kg of oxtail pieces
100g of pitted prunes
450ml of dry cider
Juice and coarsely grated rind of 1 large orange
1 teaspoon of juniper berries
3-4 large cloves of garlic
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
400g tin of haricot beans, drained
10 sage leaves
Sea salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 230

Peel and halve the onions and then slice. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat and fry the oxtail pieces, in batches if necessary, until well browned. Remove from the dish and set aside.

Add the onions to the casserole dish and fry until soft and browned.

Cut the prunes in half and add them to the casserole dish, along with the cider, grated orange rind, orange juice, and juniper berries. Return the oxtail pieces to the casserole and season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Pop the lid on and place the casserole in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or so, until the liquid is bubbling. After 20 minutes, lower the heat to 140 and cook for a further 2½ hours, until the meat is tender and falling away form the bone

Peel the garlic and slice thinly. Add to the casserole, along with the chopped tomatoes, haricot beans and whole sage leaves.

Return to the oven and cook for a further 45-50 minutes. Serve.

Delicious. I served it with sautéed black cabbage.

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