Slow cooked oxtail with chicken livers and red wine

I had the lovely Phil over for dinner and Doctor Who on Friday – we opted for the wonderfully dark Vengeance on Varos – and, as it was a cold and distinctly wintery evening, I decided to cook this lovely, tasty stew recipe that I saw in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago.

It’s an enjoyable dish, full of lovely flavours, although with a three hour cooking time, it’s not a recipe that you can knock off spontanously. The chicken livers give the dish a tasty extra flavour, we well as an interesting texture/.

Serves 4

1.5kg of oxtail, a mixture of meaty bits and bony bits
2 onions, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
½ a teaspoon of sea salt
½ a teaspoon of black pepper
½ a bottle of red wine
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
200g of chicken livers
2 aubergines
3 large tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

In a large saucepan heat some olive oil and then brown the pieces of oxtail, turning regularly to ensure even browning. Once browned remove them from the dish and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the saucepan and add the onions and garlic, seasoning well with the salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat until browned.

Return the meat to the dish. Add the tomatoes and stir well to combine.

Finely chop the chicken livers and add them to the dish. Pour over the wine, stir, and then cover and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Peel the aubergines, and then chop them into spears, about as long as your thumb, but slightly thicker.

After two hours add the aubergine spears to the dish, re-cover and cook for a further hour.

Just before serving stir in the yoghurt and mustard. At the end of the cooking the aubergines will have virtually disintegrated and soaked up the juices, and the meat will be falling off the bone.

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Chicken and butternut squash stew

I had the lovely Fig over for dinner, and The Satanic Rites of Dracula, last night and so I decided to cook this for the two of us, and Neil. It’s a tasty recipe that Abigail cooked for me last Friday. The recipe is originally for a slow cooker, but I don’t have one so, as per the suggestion at the bottom of the recipe, I simply cooked it for an hour on the hob instead.

Lovely and tasty, and appropriate for a cold winter night.

100g of plain flour
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
500g of boneless, skinless chicken thigh, chopped into 1” pieces
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 chillies, finely chopped
175ml of white wine
½ a butternut squash, peeled, chopped into 1” pieces
300ml of chicken stock
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
4 tablespoons of crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A small handful chopped fresh parsley

Sprinkle the flour onto a plate and dredge the chicken pieces in the flour.

Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken pieces for 4-5 minutes, or until browned all over.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

(You may need to clean out the saucepan if the excess flour from the chicken pieces has made a mess in the pan.)

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for five minutes. Then add the garlic and chilli and fry for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the wine and continue to cook for another few minutes, or until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half.

Return the chicken to the saucepan. Then add the butternut squash, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves to the pan. Stir well to combine and ensure that everything is covered by the liquid.

Cover and cook for 45-50 minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally top prevent sticking.

After 50 minutes stir in the crème fraîche and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a further 10 minutes, then serve, garnished with the parsley.

Tasty. Can be accompanied by either rice or mash.

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Ginger biscuit sandwiches

I came across this tasty little recipe on Facebook and so I decided to make some on Friday to take to my friend Abigail’s for us to nibble. I was making them in a bit of a hurry and accidentally forgot to put any sugar in, although with the syrup and the very sweet lemon icing, it didn’t actually matter too much and the biscuits were tasty without.

I made a second batch for my colleagues on Sunday and I did add sugar to those, although I did reduce the amount somewhat, seeing as the first batch had been fine without.

Makes about 50 biscuits, or 25 sandwiches

For the biscuits:

350g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
½ a teaspoon of mixed spice
100g of unsalted butter
175g of light brown sugar
3 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 large egg, beaten

For the icing:

225g of icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
125g of unsalted butter, softened
½-1 teaspoon of Sicilian lemon extract


Preheat the oven to 190°C

Line 2-3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper

Sift the flour, bicarb, ginger and mixed spice into a bowl. Then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, and make a well in the centre.

Add the syrup and egg and carefully combine the wet and dry ingredients together until well mixed.

Bring the mixture together to form a firm dough.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable.

Roll out the dough to a thickness no greater than 5mm.

Using a 5.5cm diameter circular cutter – cut out approximately 50 biscuits, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

Place on the baking trays and prick lightly with a fork.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and firm. Allow to cool

To make the buttercream, place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until soft. Gradually sieve in the icing sugar, beating well after each addition, to make a smooth, spreadable icing. Add the lemon extract and mix well.

Sandwich the biscuits together with the lemon buttercream. Dust with icing sugar before serving if desired.

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Beef, chickpea and sweet potato tagine, with oxtail

I fancied a Friday evening tagine and so I cobbled this together out of some suitably tagine-y ingredients.

Serves 2

3 teaspoons of ghee
400-450g of braising steak, diced
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1cm of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 small-ish pieces of oxtail on the bone
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
225g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
350ml of beef stock
1 tablespoon of honey
2 teaspoons of ras-el-hanout
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180

In a large saucepan, heat the ghee over a medium-high heat until melted.

Add the ginger, crushed garlic and chopped onion, and fry until the onion starts to soften.

Add the beef, and pieces of oxtail and cook until browned.

Once browned, add the dried spices and stir well to combine so that all the meat is well covered.

Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, cinnamon stick and halved cherry tomatoes and stir well. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Transfer the meat and sauce to the tagine, pop the lid on and cook in the oven for an hour.

After an hour, add the honey, diced sweet potato and chick peas. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Ensure that the sweet potato chunks are submerged in the sauce and then pop the lid back on. (add the little more stock, or some water, if it looks to be drying out too much.)

Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes

Serve immediately, with cous cous if required.

Rather tasty, if I do say so myself! A little bit spicy, but not too hot and the oxtail adds an extra depth to the flavour.


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Salmon a la pesto with giant cous cous, watercress and lemon

I made this for myself on Saturday evening as I fancied something quick, tasty and easy to do. Once again it’s from the Roasting Tin cookbook and is an easy all in one dish. The only slight problem that I had was that Sainsbury’s didn’t actually have any giant cous cous so I used a mixture of ordinary cous cous, quinoa and a small amount of pearl barley. It came out ok though.

Serves 2

2 salmon fillets
200g of giant cous cous
400ml of vegetable stock
2 lemons, zest and juice
2 tablespoons of green pesto
20g of pine nuts, roughly chopped
100g of watercress, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180.

Place the giant cous cous into a roasting tin along with the vegetable stock and lemon zest.

Place the salmon fillets on top of the cous cous and then spread the pesto over the two fillets.

Press the chopped pine nuts into the pesto. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the salmon fillets from the roasting tin and stir the watercress into the cous cous.

Season to taste and then stir through the lemon juice. Serve with the salmon.

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Chicken and pea traybake

On Tuesday evening I didn’t have the lovely Figgy over for Doctor Who as normal and so I decided to make this for myself. It’s a Nigella Lawson recipe that my lovely friend Craig passed on to me. It’s incredibly simple and easy to do but with some delicious flavours.

Serves 4

750g of petit pois
60ml of dry white vermouth
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pack of dill, finely chopped
300g of leeks, cut into 1” chunks
8 bone-in chicken thighs

Pre-heat the oven to 200

In a large roasting tin, mix the peas, chopped dill, crushed garlic, and vermouth. Scatter over the chunks of leek and push them into the layer of peas.

Place the chicken thighs on top, season well with salt and pepper and then drizzle everything with the olive oil.

Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes re-mix the veg, as the leeks might be starting to burn, to tuck the leeks under the peas. Return to the oven a cook for a further 30 minutes.

Serve immediately. Delicious.

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Persian saffron, chicken, fennel and barberry stew

On Monday evening I had the lovely Douglas over for a spot of dinner and some old TV. In this instance we opted for Stand Up Nigel Barton, which was interesting, very entertaining, and a bit theatrical in places.

I’ve had my eye on this little recipe, from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, for a while now, but couldn’t find any dried barberries. I eventually found some in a spice shop in town and so thought I’d cook it for Douglas. Tasty, the combination of spices and orange juice are great, and the barberries are a lovely, tart addition to the flavour. Worth giving it a go.

Serves 4

2 chicken thighs per person
2 large brown onions, roughly diced
Olive oil
A generous pinch of saffron threads
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
¼ of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Juice of 2 oranges
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons of clear honey
2 large handfuls of dried barberries
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan heat a couple of good glugs of olive oil over a medium heat. And fry the onions until translucent and starting to go brown around the edges.

Add the chicken thighs and coat them in the onions to seal in the flavour. Cook them untl they start to colour.

Grind the saffron in a pestle and mortar and then sprinkle over the chicken and onions. Stir well to ensure that the chicken is well coated in the onion and saffron.

Add the cumin, cinnamon and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper and give everything a good stir.

Pour in just enough boiling water to cover the chicken and then add the fennel and honey.

Cover with a lid, or foil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour, stirring ever 20 minutes or so to prevent sticking.

After an hour add the barberries, stir gently and then re-cover and cook for another hour, stirring occasionally.

After an hour, check the ingredients, stir, re-cover and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice.

Very tasty!


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Five-spice duck with wild rice, kale and ginger

Once Vanessa had gone on Sunday evening I needed something for myself that was tasty, but quick and easy to do. I love a bit of duck so I’ve had my eye on this one from The Roasting Tin for some time. I did make a couple of changes though – I already had some black rice in the cupboard so I used that instead of wild rice and likewise I had some black cabbage cavolo nero, that I used instead of the kale. It all seemed to work fine though.

Serves 2

200og of wild rice and basmati rice, mixed
350ml of water
2 whole cloves of garlic
5cm of ginger, peeled and grated
2 teapsoons of sea salt
1 star anise
100g of kale
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 duck breasts
2 teaspoons of Chinese Five-Spice
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 160.

In a medium roasting tin, mix the rices, water, ginger, garlic and 1 teaspoon of sea salt and throw in the star anise.

Mix the kale with the sesame oil and then scatter it over the rice mix.

Slash the skin on the duck breasts with a sharp knife and then rub them all over with a mixture of the Chinese five-spice and the remaining sea salt.

Place the breasts on top of the kale, cover the tin tightly with tin foil and then roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes to allow the kale to crisp up.

Allow the duck to rest for 5 minutes or so then thinly slice it and return it to te roasting tin. Scatter over the spring onions and red chilli and serve.


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Smoky sausage, sweet potato and red onion traybake

I had the lovely Vanessa down for the weekend and so I decided to do something from the The Roasting Tin cookbook that she gave me. It’s a tasty little recipe and anything with sausages is always a winner. There’s a shop in the North Laine called The Sausage Shop, which as well as doing various cheeses and some excellent sausage rolls, also sells a variety of interesting and delicious sausages. I decided, for this recipe, to get lots of different types of pork sausages, so I got two pork and leek, two pork and apple and two pork, thyme and caramelised red onion. I was tempted by the pork and stilton but Vanessa didn’t seem to keen, so I just got one of those, didn’t add it to the recipe and we tried it the following morning – very tasty! Even Vanessa like it.

Serves 4

8-12 good quality pork sausages
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunky wedges
2 red onions, cut into eighths
6 cloves of garlic
4 teaspooons of smoked paprika
A generous splash of olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180

In a large roasting tin toss together the sausages, sweet potatoes, red onions, garlic and smoked .
paprika and drizzle with the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper

Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked through and the sausages are sticky and slightly burnt.

Serve immediately.

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Roast chicken with fennel, lemon, shallots, garlic and mustard mayo

On Tuesday I had the lovely Fig over for our usual Tuesday evening televisual shennaigans – this time we opted for Shock Treatment, the sort-of-sequel to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and great fun it was too!

I’ve had my eye on this little reipe for a while and decided that Tuesday was the perfect opportunity to cook it. It’s tasty and easy to do, although we didn’t really use much of the mustard mayo as the dish was sufficiently tasty without it.

I substituted skin-on chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts as Sainsbury’s didn’t have any skin-on breasts. I also bunged in some roughly chopped chorizo, because, hey – chorizo!

Serves 4

300g of fennel, thinly sliced
12 shallots, peeled and quartered
1 lemon, sliced into half moons. (I used half a lemon and a couple of quartered preserved lemons, instead of a whole lemon.)
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and bashed
A few sprigs of thyme
4 skin-on chicken breasts (or two thighs per person)
Sea salt and freshly gound black pepper
Olive oil

For the mustard mayo:

4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoonss of mustard
2 teaspoons of honey

Preheat the oven to 180

Place the fennel, shallots, lemon, garlic and thyme in a large roasting tin and place the chicken breasts on top. Season well with salt and pepper and then drizzle generously with oilive oil.

Mix well, so that everything is coated in oil, and then roast in the oven for 30 minutes. (40 if using chicken thighs rather than breasts.)

Meanwhile mix together the ingredients for the mayonnaise and set aside.

Allow the chicken to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Serve hot.

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