Chilli and lemongrass pork with fried rice

On Friday evening I fancied a quick and tasty stir fry, with plenty of lemongrass and ginger flavours. I found this recipe on the BBC website and decided to give it a go. I kept it more or less exactly as is, (apart from scaling it down a bit for just me) but I added some diced red and green pepper to the stir-fry as it felt a bit ‘veg light’. (And I had some in the fridge that needed using up!)

The end result is a tasty, and rather spicy, stir fry, with lots of lovely strong flavours.

Serves 4

2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce
350g of pork, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of curry powder
100ml of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of caster sugar

For the fried rice:

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
1” of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
150g of frozen peas
300g of cooked basmati rice
2 large eggs, beaten

Combine the lemongrass, chilli, garlic and fish sauce in a bowl and mix.

Put the pork in another bowl, add half the lemongrass mix and reserve the rest. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a wok or a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the reserved lemongrass mixture and curry powder, stir well to combine and stir-fry for about 1 minute until fragrant.

Add the marinated pork pieces and stir-fry for 4–5 minutes until the pieces are nicely browned all over.

Pour in the chicken stock and stir in the sugar. Simmer, over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes or so, until the stock has reduced and you are left with a thick sauce.

Whilst the sauce is thickening, prepare the rice. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Stir fry for a minute or so and then add the spring onions, and stir through the sesame oil and soy sauce. The add the peas and stir well to combines.

Once everything is well mixed, add the rice to the pan and mix well. Fry the rice over a medium heat for a minute or so.

Then, make a well in the centre and pour in the egg. Allow it to set briefly, then working quickly stir the egg and incorporate into the rice and vegetables until everything is well combined. Cook for 2 minutes.

Serve immediately


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Algerian Chicken Sautée

I had the lovely Douglas over on Saturday evening, for a spot of dinner and some old TV. (We watched 2 episodes of short-lived 60s espionage series The Corridor People, and one episode of a Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story) I found this recipe in a lovely little cookbook by John Leeson, the voice of K-9 from Doctor Who. The book, Dog’s Dinners, published by Fantom Publishing, contains lots of delicious recipes, well written and easy to follow, and often accompanied by wine recommendations from John too.

Serves 6

1 large chicken (I used a couple of chicken thighs each, as I was only cooking for two, and that seemed to work just fine.)
6fl oz of olive oil
A pinch of saffron
½ a teaspoon of cloves
1 teaspoon of cumin (the recipe doesn’t specify but I assume seeds, rather than ground cumin)
1 lemon
4 large onions, chopped
500g of ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large aubergines
2 red peppers, de-seeded and cut into strips
2 green peppers, de-seeded and cut into strips
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Cut the aubergines into bite-sized pieces, lay out on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture. (This should take about half an hour)

In a pestle and mortar, crush the cumin, cloves, garlic and saffron to a paste.

In a large saucepan, or flameproof casserole dish, heat about a third of the olive oil and sweat the onions until translucent. Then add the chicken (or chicken pieces) and the juice of a lemon. Turn down the heat and leave to cook gently.

Pat the aubergine pieces dry with kitchen paper and then roll them in the flour.

In another saucepan, heat about a third of the oil and add the floured aubergine pieces, cooking them until lightly browned on all sides. Then add the sliced peppers, chopped tomatoes and the spice paste, along with the final third of the oil. Stir well to combine and then cover and cook very gently for about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable mix to the chicken, stir and cook gently for an hour, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve garnished with the chopped parsley.

Very tasty – well done K-9!


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Split pea and ham soup

On Monday I had Phil over for some dinner and Doctor Who (The Pirate Planet, in case you were wondering!) and I made a lovely marmalade glazed gammon and squash recipe that I’ve blogged about before:  The recipe involes boiling the gammon joint for about an hour and a half before roasting, and so this time I decided to retain the cooking liquid and use it to make soup with.

The gammon joint that I used was also sufficiently large to leave me with about 300g of cooked gammon left over to put in the soup.

This is a recipe of my own devising so the amounts are a bit approximate, but if you follow it you should end up with a lovely, thick, flavoursome soup.

Makes enough for about 3-4 large bowlfuls

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
300g of split peas (these need to be soaked overnight before use, so the recipe needs a bit of planning)
800ml of stock (If you’ve not previously boiled a gammon joint then either ham or vegetable stock should be fine)
2 echalion shallots, peeled and finely sliced
1 leek, finely sliced
300g of cooked gammon, roughly cut into small pieces
Leaves from 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The night before making the soup, soak the split peas in cold water overnight. Drain and rinse the following day, before making the soup.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sliced shallots and leek and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until starting to soften.

Add the gammon pieces and quickly fry for a minute or so. Add the split pea and the stock. Stir well to combine. Season and add the thyme leaves.

Bring to the boil, and then turn the heat down and simmer for about an hour and a half, stirring regularly. You may need to add a little more stock, or water, so keep an eye on the liquid levels.

The peas will eventually break down to a thick liquid. You may want to give it a quick blast with a hand blender, just to further break down the peas – not too much though as you don’t want to break up the pieces of meat.

The end result is a nice, thick soup with satisfying chunks of gammon and occasional al dente pieces of split pea.


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Beef bourguignon

On Tuesday evening, in the absence of my usual visit from Fig, I decided to cook a casserole that would serve for both Tuesday evening and as something for me to re-heat on Wednesday evening after my late finish. Fortunately this lovely recipe turned up in the back pages of the new Radio Times so I decided to give it a go. It’s a Mary Berry recipe and I kept it mostly as is, although I did substitute diced red pepper for the mushrooms listed in the recipe. It worked well and the resultant dish, rich and tender after two hours cooking time, was delicious.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of oil
900g of stewing or braising steak, diced
175g of smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large brown onion, peeled and thickly sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
450ml of red wine
40g of plain flour
4 tablespoons of brandy
600ml of beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
175g of chestnut mushrooms (or, if like me you hate mushrooms, 1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced)
A knob of butter
12 small raw pickling onions (I couldn’t find these in Sainsbury’s, so I popped in 4 peeled whole shallots instead)
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley (I completely forgot to add this! Ah well!)

Pre-heat the oven to 160.

In a small saucepan heat the wine over a medium heat and boil until reduced by half. Set aside.

In a large saucepan heat the oil over a high heat and brown the beef (in batches if necessary) until nicely browned all over. (the recipe says to do this in a flameproof casserole dish, but I prefer to do it in a saucepan and then transfer it into a casserole dish to go in the oven)

Remove the beef from the pan. Add the onion, garlic and bacon to the pan and fry until the bacon is starting to brown.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and bacon and then pour over the reduced wine, brandy and half of the stock. Stir well to combine and cook until thickened. Bring to the boil.

Add the remaining stock, return the meat to the pan. Season well with salt and pepper and add the thyme. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1½ -2 hours.

After 1 hour, add the peeled pickling onions/shallots. (The original recipe says to fry the mushrooms and pickling onions in butter and then add them, together, after an hour)

Half an hour before the end of the cooking time, add the diced red pepper.

Once the cooking time is up serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped parsley.


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Crispy duck and cashew noodle stir-fry

Last night I was off over to Abigail’s at 9 for a spot of Doctor Who, so I needed something that could be cooked quickly and easily. I fancied a stir-fry and was in the mood for duck and so I pottered about on the BBC Food website until I found this tasty little recipe. It was extremely easy to do (in fact it almost seems redundant actually typing it up – it was so simple!) and the end result was full of flavour with the various fruit juices working well with the soy, chilli and duck.

There were no edamame beans that I could find in Sainsbury’s so instead I opted for half a red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced, and I also bunged in a couple of asparagus tips that I had which needed using up. I also used dried noodles rather than fresh, as that’s what I had to hand.

Serves 1

A dash groundnut oil
1 duck breast, cut into strips
¼ of a red onion, sliced
1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
2 tablespoons of chopped cashews
1 orange, zest and juice only
1 lemon, zest and juice only
1 lime, zest and juice only
A splash of soy sauce
150g of fresh egg noodles
2 tablespoons of edamame beans
Heat the oil in a wok, add the duck strips and fry over a high heat for 5-6 minutes.

Add the onion and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Once the onions start to soften, add the chilli, cashews, fruit juices and zests, soy and edamame beans. (or pepper and asparagus!) Stir well to combine and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. (If using fresh noodles, also add them at this point. If, like me, you’re using dried noodles, then cook in boiling water as per the instructions on the packet.)



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Tile-maker’s stew

On Tuesday I had Fig over for a post-Christmas catch up and a resumption of our stagger through the zombie-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland of The Walking Dead. As I had Monday off I thought I’d take the opportunity to cook something that took a bit longer on the Monday and then re-heat it on Tuesday. Flicking through my books I found this recipe in Dinner by Domini Kemp and thought I’d try it. It’s easy to do and tasty, with a lovely peppery flavour, but it does take a couple of hours.

I served it with the paprika and onion roast potatoes, which I’ve blogged before, and black cabbage.

(I have noticed that a lot of the dishes that I blog are, essentially, a sort of reddy-brown. I must try and do things that are different colours!)

Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons of olive oil
1kg of braising steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 onions, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
250ml of red wine (when reheating the following day I added about 50ml of extra wine)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tube of tomato purée
(I also added a handful of chopped fresh cherry tomatoes as well)

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and brown the beef on all sides.

Season with plenty of salt and then add the onions, garlic and peppercorns and cook, over a medium heat, for a further 5-10 minutes, until the onions have softened.

Add the crushed pepper, red wine, tomatoes, bay leaves and tomato purée, Stir well to combine, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook very gently, over a low heat, for 2 hours or so, stirring every 20 minutes to avoid sticking. The sauce should be fairly thick, but you may want to add a little extra water if it looks like drying out too much.

Serve immediately.


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I had my friend Neil over last night for a New Year’s Eve soirée and I rather over-catered, with a variety of snacks – mini-Cornish pasties, mini-quiches, mini-Scotch eggs, and these little beauties. They’re from a cookbook called The Little Tapas Book and are very similar to something that Lourdes usually brings along to our Eurovision parties so I knew that they’d be tasty. They’re easy to do, albeit a bit sticky, and you can vary the ingredients – the recipe includes mushrooms but I decided to substitute chopped red pepper instead as I can’t stand mushrooms.

The recipe makes about 20 (depending upon how big you make them) but I halved it to just make 10.

90g of butter
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
115g of red pepper, de-seeded and cut into small dice
125g of plain flour
250ml of milk
185ml of chicken stock
115g of serrano ham or prosciutto, finely chopped
60g of plain flour for dusting
2 eggs, lightly beaten
50g of breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for deep frying

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or so, until translucent.

Add the pepper and cook, still over a low heat, for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Add the larger amount of flour and stir over a medium heat for 1 minute, until the mixture is dry and crumbly and starts to change its colour. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the stock and then return to the heat.

Stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the ham and season with black pepper, then transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours, until cool.

After the mixture is cool roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into croquette shapes about 2 inches long.

Put the extra flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls. Toss the croquettes first in the flour, then dip in egg and finally coat in the breadcrumbs. Place on a baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (I didn’t bother with this bit and it didn’t seem to make much difference.)

Fill a deep saucepan with vegetable oil until one-third full, and heat to 170. Add the croquettes, in batches, and deep fry for 3 minutes each, turning regularly, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

Delicious, hot or cold.



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Cottage pie with cinnamon and mace and a buttermilk cobbler top.

On Saturday evening, freshly back from Christmas in Devon I had Abigail over for some dinner and Doctor Who and a post-Christmas catch up. (We opted for The Android Invasion, to satisfy Abigail’s Harry Sullivan craving!)

I flicked through my cookbooks and found this tasty recipe in The Great British Bake-Off Winter Cookbook and thought I’d give it a go. I tend to make Shepherd’s Pie rather than Cottage Pie, so I thought it would make a nice change. The cobbler topping make the recipe interesting too. One slight problem is that the cooking time was slightly too long, and so the cobbler topping was a bit too browned and a little dry on top. Well, to be honest, I think it was a case of the oven being a bit too hot. Still, next time, I will cook it for 25 minutes, rather than the suggested 35.

Serves 6 (I scaled it right down to serve 2 and still had enough left over to make some mini-Cornish pasties for New Year’s Eve!)

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
1kg of beef mince
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 blades of mace (I used a teaspoon of ground mace, as I couldn’t find the un-ground stuff. That seemed to work.)
200g of chopped tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons of tomato purée
2 teaspoons of caster sugar
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
200ml of beef stock
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of fresh coriander
Salt and black pepper

For the Cobbler topping:

250g of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 medium eggs, beaten
200ml of buttermilk

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the onions start to colour and soften. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the minced beef, increase the heat, and stir until browned all over, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.

Add the cinnamon, mace, tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar, vinegar and stock. Season well with salt and pepper and stir well to combine.

Simmer, over a medium heat, for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Whilst the meat mixture is cooking, make the cobbler topping. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl to make a soft dough, season well with salt and pepper, and leave to one side until needed.

Remove the cinnamon stick, and the whole mace (if using) from the cooked meat mixture and then transfer to an ovenproof dish. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander.

Dollop the cobbler mixture all over the top. Place in the oven for cook for 30-35 minutes, until bubbling hot and the cobbler is golden brown.



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Spicy sausage and bean casserole

I had Phil over for dinner and Doctor Who on Saturday evening and I found this lovely little recipe in the book The Great British Bake-Off Winter Cookbook and decided to give it a go. It’s a really tasty one and the addition of the chipotle chilli paste gives it a distinct, slightly smoky flavour. Tasty, warming and comforting on a winter’s evening. I served it with wasabi mash and cheesy Brussel’s sprouts.

Serves 6

75ml of olive oil
2 banana shallots, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 x 400g of chopped tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons of chipotle chilli paste (to taste)
200ml of red wine
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
A good pinch of castor sugar. (Actually I used soft dark brown sugar, which worked well)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Good quality pork sausages, 2-3 per person, depending upon how greedy you are! 😀 ) (I used Cumberland, as they are my favourite)
1 x 400g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
A handful of chopped, fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 170.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, (It says flameproof casserole dish, but I don’t have one, so I start it in a large saucepan and then transfer it to a casserole dish for cooking in the oven.) over a medium heat and gently fry the shallots for 5-10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and chillies and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, chipotle paste, red wine, red wine vinegar, caster sugar, and rosemary, along with half a tomato tin of water. Season well with salt and pepper and simmer, then (transfer to the casserole dish and) cover and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or so.

(I actually browned the sausages first, and transferred them to the casserole dish, added the sauce, and then cooked the whole lot in the oven for 40 minutes, rather than the 20 mins without the sausages and then 20 with that the recipe suggested.)
Whilst the sauce is in the oven, heat some more olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the sausages until browned all over.

Remove the casserole from the oven, stir in the drained and rinsed beans and add the sausages. Re-cover and return to the oven and cook for a further 20.

Once ready, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.

Delicious, with a smoky, chipotle heat.


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Beef casserole with herby dumplings

I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who on Tuesday evening as Figgy is unwell. (We opted for Terror of the Autons – and excellent it was too!) I decided I wanted something warming and stew-y, and so after looking at a few recipes online I threw this together. It came out rather well, if I do say so myself! Because I cobbled it together rather than following a set recipe some of the amounts are a bit approximate, but you can always add more or less, as you prefer.

Serves 2

For the stew:

4 tablespoons of olive oil
500g of braising steak, diced
2 brown onions, peeled and sliced
1-2 large carrots, peeled, sliced and quartered
1 leek, thickly sliced
6 medium-sized, new potatoes, peeled and diced
150g of smoked pancetta lardons
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
500ml of hot beef stock (as I was serving this with Brussel’s sprouts, I par boiled the sprouts and used the cooking water to make the stock, thus retaining the vit’mins!)
200ml of red wine
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
4-5 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dumplings:
(makes 6)

125g of self-raising flour
65g of shredded beef suet
Salt and pepper to taste
Leaves from 3 stalks of thyme
Water to bind (you’ll have to judge it as you go along.)

Pre-heat the oven to 180

In a large saucepan heat half the olive oil over a medium heat and then fry the beef until browned all over. Remove from the saucepan and set aside. Pour away the oil.

Return the pan to the heat, put the remaining oil in and fry the onions for 4-5 minutes, over a medium heat until softened and starting to colour. Add the sliced garlic and leek and cook for a further minute or so.

Then add the pancetta lardons and cook for a couple of minutes until they start to go crispy.

Add the red wine and use it to deglaze the bottom of the pan – scraping up any meaty bits. Then return the beef to the pan and add the stock, carrots, diced potatoes, thyme, bay leaves and tomato purée. Stir well to combine.

Season, then bring to the boil.

Take the pan off the heat and transfer to entire contents to a casserole dish. Pop a lid on and place in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Whilst the casserole is in the oven, make the dumplings.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, suet, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Slowly add the water, a little at a time, stirring to bind everything together. (NB: you don’t want your dumplings to be too wet, otherwise they won’t rise properly. If you add to much water, then just add more flour to compensate!)

Once you have a suitable dough, that is not too wet, then divide it into 6 even pieces and shape them into balls. Set aside until required.

Once the casserole has been in the oven for an hour and 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and gently place the dumplings on the top of the stew. Leave the lid off and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the dumplings have risen and are golden brown.

A delicious stew, if I do say so myself. I served it with cheesy Brussel’s sprouts and sautéed black cabbage.



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