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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Oven roast coq au vin

I had a very busy, but very enjoyable day om Sunday, helping out at a Doctor Who convention in Epsom, where I had the pleasure of meeting two Doctors, two companions, Vila from Blake’s 7 and several actors who had appeared in various Doctor Who stories, including one who was also the voice of Hartley Hare in Pipkins. A great day! And I had the lovely David over for dinner in the evening so I needed something that was tasty and filling, but also quick and easy to do. I leafed through The Roasting Tin (again – I promise I’ll turn to another cookbook again soon!) and found this delicious recipe.

I like coq au vin, although I always substitute diced red pepper in for the (hated) mushrooms. This version is really easy to do but has all the flavours of a proper coq au vin. I added a dash of brandy along with the wine, to bring it into line with the more standard coq au vin recipe. The rosemary gives a slightly different flavour to the usual thyme, which is nice.

Serves 4

1.4kg of chicken thighs and drumsticks (I used 2 thighs per person for the two of us)
160 of pancetta, cubed
250g of large chestnut mushrooms (or 1-1½ red peppers, de-seeded, cored and diced)
5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and bashed
200g of shallots, peeled and halved
3 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
30g of butter
200ml of red wine
A dash of brandy
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160.

Place the chicken, pancetta, mushrooms (pepper), garlic, shallots, bay leaves and rosemary in a large roasting tin. Smear everything over with the butter. Season well with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes turn the heat up to 180 and cook for a further 40 minutes, until the chicken is golden.

Splash the wine and brandy into the tin and around the chicken and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Rest the chicken for 2 minutes before serving.

Serve with the red wine sauce, pancetta, garlic, shallots and mushrooms/peppers.

Delicious. Definitely one to do again.

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Roast lamb with apricots, pistachios, mint and pearly barley

This was the other contender for Sunday night’s dinner, but Neil didn’t really fancy it, so I made it for myself on Monday instead. It’s also from The Roasting Tin and is also delicious and easy to do. I did use lamb chops rather than the rump steaks that the recipe suggests. They worked just as well though. As I’d had pearl barely the night before I reduced the amount used in the recipe dramatically and substituted some tinned butter beans instead. I also added some chunks of butternut squash and some cherry tomatoes as well, along with some halved mangetout.

Serves 4

4 lamb rump steaks (or lamb chops)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of ras el hanout
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
250g of dried apricots
2 red onions, very thinly sliced
150g of pearl barley, rinsed
350ml of chicken stock
30g of pistachio nuts, chopped
A small handful of fresh mint, chopped
Juice of ½ a lemon

Preheat the oven to 150.

Rub the lamb steaks with the olive oil and ras el hanout, 1 teaspoon of salt and half the garlic.

Mix together the apricots, red onions, remaining garlic, pearl barley and chicken stock (as well as te butterbeans, squash, cherry tomatoes and mangetout, if using) in a roasting tin. Place the lamb steaks on top, cover the dish tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, mix together the pistachios and mint.

Once cooked, season the apricots, onions and pearl with sea salt, black pepper and lemon juice.

Scatter the pistachios and mint over the lamb steaks before serving.


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Spelt with chorizo, sweet potato, red onion and spinach

I cooked this for Neil and I last Sunday sorry it has taken me a while to write it up. Once again it’s from the Roasting Tin cookbook and is another tasty one. I love chorizo anyway, so any recipe using it is always going to get my vote. I had to make a couple of substitutions mind you – Sainsbury’s didn’t have any spelt, so I used pearl barley (which the recipe suggested as a substitute anyway.) and I had some butternut squash that needed using up, so I used that instead of sweet potato. It all came out ok though and was very tasty. The pearl barley in particular has an interesting, and pleasant texture which works well with the chorizo.

Serves 4

150 of spelt or pearl barley, rinsed
350ml of chicken stock
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks (or butternut squash)
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves of garlic, skin on
225g of chorizo, roughly cut into 2cm chunks
1 tablespoon of olive oil
300g of baby leaf spinach
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 160.

In a roasting tin, mix together the spelt or pearl barley, chicken stock, sweet potato (or squash), onion and garlic. Rub the chorizo with olive oil and scatter over the spelt mixture

Cover the dish tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and stir in the spinach. Stir in the lemon juice and then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve. I served this with steamed purple sprouting broccoli, roasted corn on the cob and vine cherry tomatoes.

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