Meatball, chorizo, tomato and white bean stew

The lovely Vanessa was down for the weekend and so I cooked dinner for the four of us on Saturday evening. I was in a meatbally mood and so had a flick around on the BBC website and found this little gem. I excluded the head of fennel, as I’m not that keen on the flavour, but retained the crushed fennel seeds in the meatball mix so that some of the flavour remained.

It turned out rather well. I was concerned that the recipe wanted you to reduce the liquid rather too much. I always think that a stew should have a certain amount of ‘sauce’ with it. So I didn’t reduce it quite as much as suggested. I also used a bit more red wine and a good dash of red wine vinegar to bring out the flavour of the chorizo even more. I also used half fresh tomatoes and fresh chopped plum tomatoes which worked rather well.

For the tomato sauce:
1kg of ripe tomatoes, skinned, chopped and seeds discarded (I used 500g og fresh tomatoes and a 440g van of chopped plum tomatoes.)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Leaves from a sprig of fresh

For the stew:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 head of fennel, chopped (I omitted this)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
A generous pinch of dried chilli flakes
175ml of red wine (I used more like 225ml)
1½ teaspoons of smoked paprika
300g of chorizo, chopped
1 x 400g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed

For the meatballs:
750g of pork mince
1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds
2 teaspoon of ground cumin

For the tomato sauce, chop the tomatoes to pulp and discard the seeds.

Heat half of the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallots, thyme leaves and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.

Add the remaining olive oil and the chopped tomato pulp, and canned tomatoes, if using, then stir well to combine.

Cut a disc of greaseproof paper 1cm smaller than the diameter of your saucepan. Cover the surface of the tomato sauce with the greaseproof paper disc. This will prevent the sauce from drying out as it reduces and cooks. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cook gently for at 40 minutes to an hour, until the sauce has thickened to your liking.

When the mixture has cooked and thickened, set aside.

For the stew, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a casserole over a medium heat. Add the fennel, carrots, red pepper, garlic, onion and dried chilli and fry, stirring regularly, for 5-6 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.

Add the red wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the tomato sauce and the smoked paprika and return the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit.

In a bowl, mix together the pork mince, crushed fennel seeds and ground cumin, using your hands. Mix well and then shape into ping-pong ball sized spheres. (I managed to make 16 meatballs from this recipe.)

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs, in batches, and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning regularly, until browned all over. Repeat until all the meatballs are browned.

Add the browned meatballs and the chopped chorizo to the tomato stew mixture. Stir well to combine and then continue to simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

Stir in the butter beans and heat through for a further 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately. I served this with wasabi mash and steamed spring greens.



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Pork, chorizo and butter bean stew

I fancied something stew-y last night and I had a bit of leftover pork shoulder from the previous night’s dinner so I cobbled this together from a couple of recipes I found on the BBC website. It came out rather well and was tasty and filling.

2 tablespoons of olive oil
600g of pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
150g of chorizo, chopped
50g of smoked pancette
1 medium red onion, sliced
I large leek, sliced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
300ml of dry cider
A dash of white wine
400g of tinned tomatoes, chopped
200g of canned butter beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200

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

Add the pork pieces and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Rremove from the pan and set aside to rest on a warm plate.

Add the chorizo and pancetta to the pan the pork was fried in and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Remove from the pan and set aside with the pork.

Add the onion, garlic, leek and chilli to the same pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.

Gradually add the cider to the pan, stirring continuously. Then bring the mixture to a simmer, and summer for 2-3 minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced slightly.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the butter beans, then return the cooked pork, pancetta and chorizo to the pan and stir well. Season well with salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat, transfer to a casserole dish, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 45-minutes to an hour.

Check occasionally – if it looks like it is drying out too much add a dash of white wine. The sauce should thicken but not be dry.

Just before serving, sprinkle over the parsley.

I served this with wasabi mash and steamed spring greens.


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Lamb with black bean sauce

Last night I fancied a quick stir fry and had a quick flick through my Big Book of Wok and Stir-Fry cookbook and came across this, which looked tasty. So I thought I’d give it a go. It’s a nice little recipe which is tasty and quick to do. Oddly it makes a big thing about frying the coated lamb until it is crispy, however as soon as the black bean sauce is added it starts to breakdown the crispiness of the lamb. Hey ho – it’s still tasty!

Serves 4

450g of lamb shoulder or leg fillet
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons of cornflour
1 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice
3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced (I opted for just red and yellow as I was only cooking for me.)
5 tablespoons of black bean sauce
Freshly cooked noodles to serve

Slice the lamb into thin strips

Mix together the egg white, cornflour and five-spice in a bowl until well combined. Toss in the lamb and mix well until evenly coated.

Heat the wok over a high heat, then add the oil. Stir-fry the lamb for five minutes or so, until crispy around the edges.

Add the onion and peppers and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

Stir in the black bean sauce, mix well and heat through.

Serve immediately with the freshly cooked noodles.


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Sausage and chorizo goulash

On Thursday evening I was popping out to see my friend Abigail at about 9, but I fancied cooking dinner for Alberto and I first. I was in the mood for something stew-ish and so I footled around on the BBC website and found this lovely little recipe.

We’d both had both chicken and lamb earlier in the week so a recipe with both beef and pork was a good option. And a version of goulash that only took about 40 minutes was a godsend. It normally takes about 2½ hours! I was worried that the flavours wouldn’t come through properly with such a comparatively short cooking time but the end result was very tasty.

I served it with fried gnocchi and garlic bread.

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
A knob of butter
700g of beef sausages, chopped
300g of chorizo, chopped
2 onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped.
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
250ml of beef stock
2-3 tablespoons of soured cream
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 150C

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan and fry the beef sausages and chorizo for 5-7 minutes, or until browned all over.

Remove the sausages and chorizo from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Fry the onions and garlic in the same pan for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Then stir in the flour and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add the paprika, chillies and sliced pepper and stir until well combined.

Pour in the beef stock, return the beef sausage and chorizo to the pan and then transfer to an overn-proof casserole dishc.

Loosely cover with foil and cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

Remove the lid from the casserole and stir in the soured cream and parsley until well combined.


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Beef and apple tagine

Last night I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who (The Mind Robber, in case you were wondering!) and I was in the mood for a tagine. Rather than looking through my cookbooks before work, I had a flick through the BBC website during my coffee break. I found this lovely recipe by The Hairy Bikers and thought that I’d give it a go.

It’s a tasty little recipe and the chopped apple gives a lovely sweet flavour to the tagine and works well with the beef and sweet potato. The garnish of fried apple slices is a unique touch and finished the dish off nicely.

750g of braising steak (I used shin of beef, which worked well)
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 onions, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of hot chilli powder
400g can of chopped tomatoes
400g of can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of clear honey
1 beef stock cube
1 cinnamon stick
1 medium sweet potato
2 large eating apples
25g bunch of fresh coriander
75g of ready-to-eat prunes, halved
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the garnish:
1 large red-skinned eating apple
15g of butter
1 tablespoon of clear honey

Preheat the oven to 180C

Trim the beef of any fat and cut into roughly 3cm chunks. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and fry the beef (in batches if necessary) over a high heat until lightly browned on all sides.

Transfer each batch to a large flameproof casserole once browned. (I don’t like using my tagine on the hob so I continued in the large saucepan until it was ready to go in the oven, at which point I transferred it to the tagine.)

Reduce the heat and add two tablespoons more oil to the saucepan. Fry the onions for five minutes, or until softened and lightly coloured, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and sprinkle with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Tip the onions and spices into the casserole with the beef. (I carried on with the saucepan until it was time to put everything in the oven.)

Add 450ml of water, the tomatoes and the chickpeas to the saucepan/casserole and stir in the honey.

Crumble the stock cube over the top, add the cinnamon stick and stir well. Bring to the boil, stirring a couple of times. Then cover the dish with a lid, and transfer to the oven and cook for 1¼ hours. (at this point I transferred everything from the saucepan to the tagine and then placed that in the oven.)

Peel the sweet potato and cut into roughly 2½cm chunks. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 2cm chunks. Roughly chop the coriander.

Remove the tagine from the oven and stir in the sweet potato, apples, prunes and chopped coriander.

Replace the lid and return to the oven. Cook for a further 45-60 minutes, until the beef is very tender.

To make the garnish, cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each apple quarter lengthways into five. Season with ground black pepper. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the apple slices over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with the honey and toss lightly.

Scatter the fried apples and chopped coriander over the dish and serve.


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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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