Pork, pea and leek pie with tarragon, cream and wholegrain mustard

On Saturday evening I was only cooking for myself so I decided to use one of my lovely little individual pie dishes to make myself a pie. Rather than following a set recipe I decided to cobble something together from some complimentary ingredients.

Pork and leek go very well together, as do tarragon, cream and wholegrain mustard, so I figured that I couldn’t go wrong bunging them all together with a lovely puff pastry crust. So that’s what I did!

Makes 1 pie

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
250g of pork loin, trimmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large leek, sliced
100g of frozen petit pois
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh tarragon leaves, whole
250ml of vegetable stock
100ml of double cream
1-2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
Sufficient puff pastry for a lid (or a base and a lid if you prefer)
Flour for dusting
Salt and black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

In a frying pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and gently fry the leek and garlic until starting to soften.

Add the pork and increase the heat slightly, cooking until the pork is nicely browned all over.

Add the stock (I added 200ml at first so that the sauce would be slightly thicker) and then pour in the cream, stirring it well in. Then add the mustard, tarragon leaves and peas. Stir well to combine all of the ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the sauce has thickened but is still creamy, and the peas are cooked through. (you may need to fiddle with the levels of stock and cream – see how it goes.)

Once the sauce has thickened remove the pan from the heat and spoon the contents into the pie dish.

Roll out the pastry to approximately the right size, brush the edges of the pastry dish with a little milk and fit the lid, trimming off any excess. Press down the edges of the pastry with a fork and then brush the lid with milk. Finally make a couple of steam holes in the lid and pop in the oven.

Cook for 30 minutes, until the pastry lid is puffed up and golden.




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Stir-fried sweet potatoes with lamb and green beans

Last night I wasn’t seeing Fig as normal and so was only cooking for myself. I fancied a stir-fry and so footled around on the BBC website until I found this tasty little recipe. It would never have occurred to me to put slices of sweet potato in a stir-fry (although you can’t see them very clearly in the photo.) and the lamb works very well with the black bean sauce. Tasty and both quick and easy to do.

Serves 2

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, de-seeded and cut into strips
400g of sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, slices quartered
125g of green beans, topped and tailed, cut in half
225g of lamb leg steak, cut into thin strips
3 tablespoons of black bean sauce (from a jar)
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil

Pop a large wok over a high heat. Once the wok starts to smoke, add the sunflower oil and then toss in the ginger, garlic and chillies and stir-fry for 20-30 seconds.

Add the sweet potato and stir-fry briskly for 3-4 minutes.

Add the green beans and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender and the beans are nicely browned.

Remove all of the vegetables from the wok and place in a warm bowl. Return the wok to the heat, add a little more oil, and when it suitably hot, add the lamb and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until just cooked through.

Return the vegetables to the wok and mix them well with the lamb.

Add the black bean sauce, stir well to combine and then cook for a further 2-3 minutes

Add the sesame oil and stir well.

Serve immediately with either rice or noodles


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Saffron chicken and rice

Last night I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who and I fancied cooking something new. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a while now but thought it might take a while as there are a few processes so it needed to be a weekend evening really. As it was it was fairly easy to cook and was assembled and ready to pop in the over just before Doctor Who started. A delicious recipe with lots of lovely flavours. I added a bit more chilli than the recipe said as Phil likes a bit of spice.

Serves 4

1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
A few cardamom seeds
50g of butter
500g of basmati rice
650ml of chicken stock
100g of currants
2 tablespoons of olive oil
8 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
2-3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
3” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 chilli, thinly sliced
A good pinch of saffron
2 tablespoons of milk
An optional 200g (or so) of peas
2 tablespoons of chopped coriander, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180.

(The whole recipe talks about doing everything in a saucepan and then putting that in the oven. I don’t have an oven proof saucepan so I transferred everything to large, round casserole dish for the final cooking in the oven.)

In a large saucepan heat the butter, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds until fragrant.

Rinse the rice and drain well. Then add to the spices and butter and stir well to combine and cook for about 3 minutes. Add about 500ml of the chicken stock and continue to cook the rice, over a medium heat, until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and then stir in the currants. Remove the rice to a bowl, clean out the saucepan and then it’s ready to use to cook the chicken…

Heat some olive oil in the saucepan and start to cook the chicken thighs, skin-side down. Cook for a couple of minutes until the skin is nicely crisp. Whilst the skin is cooking season the fleshy side with salt and pepper and then turn the chicken over and cook the fleshy side until nicely browned. Then remove from the saucepan and place on a plate.

Remove the skin from the chicken and discard. (Be careful, the chicken is still pretty much raw so wash your hands carefully after handling.)

The chicken will have released a fair bit of fat whilst cooking – do not discard this but use it to cook the onions. Once the onions have started to colour and soften add the garlic, chillies and ginger and cook for a few more minutes.

Once the onions are cooked remove them from the saucepan.

In either the saucepan or a casserole dish assemble the dish. Place the chicken on the bottom and pour over 150ml of chicken stock. Then top with the onions and finally with the spiced rice.

Mix the saffron with the milk and then pour over the top.

Cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes.

Allow the dish to settle for 10 minutes or so, then fluff up the rice and serve. The recipe says to flake the cooked meat off the bone before serving, however, I didn’t bother and Phil and I just flaked the chicken off as we were eating.

Very tasty and substantial.


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Asparagus with miso butter

I was in on my own on Friday night and I fancied some lamb chops. I was aware that I hadn’t blogged anything for a while so I thought that I’d flick through one of my cookbooks and look for an interesting side to go with them. I stumbled across this one and thought that it looked rather tasty so I’d give it a go. Delicious and easy to do – a new way to cook asparagus!

Serves 4 as a side.

100g of miso paste
200g of butter
A splash of sherry vinegar
2 bunches of asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Olive oil
Sea salt

Make the butter by mixing the miso paste, butter and vinegar together in a food processor. (Well, that’s what the recipe said but I mashed it all together with the back of a wooden spoon.) You can wrap it in clingfilm and freeze it for later use if you want.

The recipe ten says to either fry or roast the asparagus with the miso buter. (I never said that it was a complicated recipe!) I opted for rubbing the asparagus with olive oil and sea salt and then frying it in a griddle pan with the miso butter until nicely charred on all sides. Alternatively you could roast it in the oven with the butter.

Very tasty.

I had this with Indian spiced lamb chops, onion and rocket salad and chips. Lovely.


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Pepper pot stew

I had the lovely Phil over on Friday night for some dinner and Doctor Who (episodes 1-3 of Invasion of the Dinosaurs. We’re reconvening on Thursday for the final three episodes. KKLAK!!) and so, as Phil likes things spicy, I flicked through the book Spice Up Your Life (not a Spice Girls cookbook!) and found this tasty recipe. It takes a couple of hours, but, apart from occasional stirring, and maybe topping up the liquid levels, it’s fairly low maintenance. Nice flavours, a good bit of spice (which you can vary according to taste) and a delicious, thick gravy. I shall certainly make this one again.

Serves 4

500g of stewing steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
1½ tablespoons of plain flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 leeks, sliced (the recipe says celery, but that’s a no-no in this house.)
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon of ground allspice
1-2 teaspoons of hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
600ml of beef stock
225g of deseeded and peeled squash, cut into small chunks
1 large red pepper, deseeded and chopped
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
115g of okra, trimmed and halved.

Trim and dice the steal. Toss in the flour until well coated. Reserve any unused flour.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and cook the onion, garlic, chilli and leek (celery) with the cloves and allspice, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or so, until softened.

Add the beef and cook over a high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and sealed on all sides.

Sprinkle in the reserved flour, stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the hot pepper sauce, then gradually stir in the stock. Return to the heat, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 1½ hours. (Keep an eye on it – you don’t want the beef to stick or the sauce to dry out too much. You may need to add extra stock.)

After 1½ hours, add the squash and red pepper, stir in well and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and okra and simmer for a further 15 minutes, until all is cooked through and the beef is tender.

Serve immediately. I served it with wasabi mash.

Delicious – you can easily make it more or less spicy by varying the amount of hot pepper sauce.


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Risotto with roast butternut squash, serrano ham, Parmiggiano cheese and white wine

I made this for myself for dinner this evening. I’ve been thinking about doing a risotto for a while and today was the day. It’s mostly a Gino D’Acampo recipe from his book Buonissimo, but I’ve added a few things to it.

The amounts given here are to serve one person. Some of the measurements are a bit approximate as I was scaling it down from a recipe for four. Risotto takes a while and you have to be patient, and quite attentive, whilst gradually adding the stock, but the end result is worth it. This is lovely and creamy, and very tasty with the onions, leeks and wine. The chillies on the butternut squash add a little heat and the squash itself provides a pleasant texture.

4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
400ml of chicken stock
100g of arborio rice
200ml of dry white wine
¼ of a large butternut squash, (or as much as you like, really) peeled and cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
Leaves from 2-3 sprigs of thyme
A generous knob of salted butter
2 slices of serrano ham, roughly torn into strips
2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmiggiano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Pop the chunks of squash on a baking tray, sprinkle with the dried chillies and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so until tender.

Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes or so, until soft and starting to colour, then add the leek and continue cooking for a further 3-5 minutes or so.

Add the rice to the pan and stir well to ensure that the rice is well coated with the oil. Add 150ml of wine to the rice and cook for 3-4 minutes until almost all of the wine has been absorbed.

Start to add the hot stock, a ladle-full at a time, only adding a fresh ladle-full when the last has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock, stirring frequently, until you only have about two ladle-fulls left to add.

Add in the roasted squash chunks, thyme leaves, and serrano ham, stir well to combine and add the penultimate ladle-full of stock. Once the final bit of stock is added and has been almost completely absorbed, remove the pan from the heat.

Add the remaining wine and stir it in. Then add in the butter and cheese stirring until the risotto has a creamy texture, and season well.

Serve immediately. Very tasty!


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Chorizo, morcilla, pork and lentils

Wednesday night’s dinner was this lovely little recipe from the aforementioned book, Tapas. It’s a delicious stew, full of tasty and distinct flavours. The recipe calls for black pudding, which I’ve only ever eaten once before. The recipe says to cut it into small pieces, so, during the stewing process, the black pudding mostly disintegrates and suffuses itself through the sauce. Alberto tells me that proper morcilla (the Spanish version of black pudding) has slightly different ingredients and so a somewhat different consistency. However, as I was unable to get hold of any of the proper stuff I made do with normal black pudding. I also had a bit of a trek to find yellow lentils, as Sainsbury’s only had the more usual red, green and puy. I found them in a handy little Turkish shop nearby, however, whilst picking up a fallen packet from the floor I was smacked on the back of the head by two more falling packets. Oh how I suffer for my culinary art! ;)

I’m afraid that the photo doesn’t really do this one justice as it’s a lovely, tasty dish, but the picture makes it look like a reddy-brown sludge. Hey ho. The lentils give it a pleasant texture and the paprika, chorizo and black pudding mean that it’s full of interesting flavours.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
150g of chorizo, chopped
300g of pork fillet, chopped into bite-sized pieces
225g of black pudding, cut into small pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped (I used a leek as Alberto and I dislike celery)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of tomato pureé
1 litre of chicken stock
4 tomatoes, chopped
300g of yellow lentils
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the paprika, onion and garlic and cook for 45 seconds before adding the chorizo, pork and black pudding. Cook until the pork is browned and the chorizo starting to sizzle, then add the carrots and celery (leek) and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Blend the tomato pureé with the chicken stock and then pour into the saucepan. Stir well then add the tomatoes and lentils.

Bring to the boil and then cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if it looks like drying out.

Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.



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Albondigas y patatas bravas (meatballs and spicy potatoes)

Last Monday evening I made another dish from the Tapas cookbook. (Sorry it has taken me so long to update this – busy week!) Well, the recipe for the meatballs is certainly from there. For the patatas I had two recipes – one from Tapas and one from the BBC Good Food website. The Good Food one suggested roasting the potatoes in the oven, whereas the Tapas one calls for steaming and shallow frying. Alberto offered the third option of deep frying. I didn’t have enough oil for the deep frying option, and roasting didn’t appeal, so I opted for steaming and shallow frying. The end result wasn’t especially satisfactory I’m afraid. Maybe I steamed them for too long beforehand. Next time I shall follow Alberto’s advice and deep fry them! He knows best!

Serves 4

450 of pork mince
1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley
3-4 tablespoons of fresh, white breadcrumbs
1 medium egg, beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of plain flour, for coating
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil for frying

For the sauce:

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley
1-2 teaspoons of paprika
300g of cored and chopped tomatoes
¼ of a teaspoon of saffron strands
125g of frozen peas

Place all the ingredients for the meatballs, including salt and pepper to taste, in a bowl and mix together with your hands. As ever, the smaller you can make the pieces of onion, the easier it will be to form your balls. And all the squeezing can be quite therapeutic!

Once the mixture is well combined shape it into small balls. Dust with a little flour.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan or frying pan and gently fry the meatballs, turning to seal on all sides, until cooked through and golden.

Set the meatballs aside and start to make the sauce.

Fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until the onions are soft. Add the parsley, paprika, tomatoes and saffron and pour in 300ml of water. Stir well to combine and brign to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the sauce starts to thicken. Season to taste and then add the meatballs and peas to the sauce

Simmer for 10 minutes or so, to warm through, and then serve.

For the patatas

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 red chilli, chopped
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch smoked paprika
400g can chopped tomatoes
1kg new potatoes, halved or quartered
250g small cooking chorizo

Heat a little oil in a pan, fry the onion, garlic and chilli until the onion softens.

Add the cayenne and paprika and stir well to combine the spices with the onions. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes until you have a thick paste. Season well. (If you prefer a smooth sauce, blitz it with a hand blender.)

Meanwhile, steam the potatoes for 10 minutes.

Put the chorizo in a frying pan to slowly cook and release some of its oil. Tip off the excess red oil and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the potatoes and fry everything together, turning the heat up as you go so both the potatoes and chorizo brown in patches.

Tip into a bowl. Season the sauce and then spoon over the potatoes and chorizo to serve.



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Spanish garlic chicken

Last night I had the lovely Mr Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who (We opted for The Android Invasion, just in case you were wondering.) and whilst I was flicking through cookbooks looking for a nice recipe and happened upon this one in a book called Tapas – loads of interesting and tasty in recipes in there – and it looked like a good one to go for. It’s also a relatively low maintenance dish – once it’s in the oven you only have to baste it a couple of times and it’s quite happy bubbling away on it’s own.

One slight oddity of the recipe though – it tells you that you need 300ml of white wine and 300ml of chicken stock for the dish It then tells you to blend 125ml of each into a cooking liquid, with which you’ll be basting the chicken, leaving you with 185ml of each liquid left over, and which the recipe never mentions again! It’d possible that the extra liquid is there just in case you need to top up the liquid in the roasting dish during cooking, however if that is the case it is never alluded to. And I found that the 250ml already in the dish was sufficient anyway. Still,better to be safe than sorry I guess.

I served this with wasabi mash, roasted corn on the cob and a French bean, feta and red onion salad.

Serves 4

1 whole roasting chicken, jointed and cut into even pieces. (or just use chicken thighs and drumsticks – much more convenient.)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
300ml of Spanish dry white wine
300ml of chicken stock
Sea salt
A few fresh sprigs of rosemary to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Rub the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place in a roasting dish.

Place the garlic cloves, 125ml of the white wine and sea salt to taste, in a food processor and blend.

Add 125ml of stock and blend again until thorough mixed.

Pour the liquid over the chicken pieces and pop in another couple of unpeeled garlic cloves, tucking them into the chicken pieces. Cover with a lid (or tin foil, as I did) and pop in the oven.

After 15 minutes baste the chicken pieces with the cooking liquid. Recover and cook for a further 15 minutes. Baste again and then cook for a further 30 minutes, basting once more during the cooking period. Top up the liquid if necessary. (I didn’t find it necessary but you’ve got plenty of both liquids left over if you do.)

Serve garnish with fresh herbs and with the cooking liquor as a sauce.

Lovely garlic and tangy wine flavours. Delicious.


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Beef carbonnade

Sainsbury’s provided me with bargain braising steak, and plenty of it, so I decided to make this tasty-looking recipe. It takes about two and a half hours so it’s not a quick meal, but it’s not particularly high maintenance – once it’s in the oven you don’t even need to look at it for the best part of two hours. Like the pork chops with calvados it comes from the book The Food of France.

Serves 4

30g butter
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1kg of braising steak, cubed
4 onions, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of plain flour
500ml of beer
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme

For the crutons:
6-8 slices of French bread
Dijon mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 150.

Melt the butter in a large pan, along with a tablespoon of oil and brown the meat over a high heat. (You may need to do this in batches – it depends how big your pan is.) Lift the meat out of the pan and pop on a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onions. Cook over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes and then add the sugar and garlic (add a little more oil if necessary) and cook for a furter 5 minutes.

Remove the onion from the pan and place on another plate.

Reduce the heat to low and pour in any juices that have drained from the browned meat, the stir in the flour.

Remove from the heat and stir in the beer, a little at a time to prevent it from foaming up too much.

Return to the heat and gently simmer to thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Layer the meat and onion in a casserole dish, tucking the bay leaves and thyme sprigs between the layers and seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.

Pour the liquid over the meat, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2½ hours.

To make the croutons lightly toast the slices of bread and spread on one side with mustard.

Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the lid from the casserole dish, arrange the croutons on top, mustard side up and cook, uncovered, for the final 10 minutes.

I served this with a lightly cheesy mash and steamed spring greens.

No photos of this one as I accidentally deleted them from my camera! D’oh!

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