Chicken, apple and flageolet bean casserole

I made this this evening for Alberto and I. I’d had the day off and he’d been in London for a work meeting so I thought I’d do a nice casserole as it would be easy for him to re-heat if he got home late. As it was he was home before I even started cooking, but there you go!

I have to confess that I didn’t use flageolet beans simply because I couldn’t find any. Three likely shops let me down and so in the end I settled for cannellini beans. I also bunged in a sliced leek, as I do like a bit of leek.

Whilst I did add the sausages as suggested by the recipe I did not add them whole, but instead skinned them, broke each sausage up into five lumps and rolled them into sausagemeat meatballs.

Serves 4

250g of flageolet beans
Olive oil
8 chicken thighs
4 sausages
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2-3 dessert apples, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 leek, sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon of plain flour
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
3-4 bay leaves
500ml of chicken stock
50ml of crème fraîche
A splash of tarragon vinegar (I had none so I opted for sherry vinegar instead and that seemed to work well)
A bunch of tarragon, chopped

If you’re using dried beans then you’ll need to soak them in cold, salty water, for 8-10 hours. Oonce you’ve soaked them rinse them well and then simmer in plenty of water for 30 minutes or so, until nearly tender.

Preheat the oven to 180. (Now, I have to confess that I did this all on the hob, as I don’t have a suitable casserole dish that works both on the hob and in the oven. It works just as well The choice is yours.)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken and brown well on both sides. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.

Fry the sausages (or sausage balls!) in the same oil, until browned, then remove and set aside.

Add the onions (and leek) to the pan and fry until softened, then add the chunks of apple and continue cooking until softened but not coloured. Sprinkle on the flour to absorb the excess fat.

Add the rosemary and bay leaves and then gradually add the stock, stirring constantly.

Return the chicken and sausage to the pan and add the cooked beans. (or drained and rinsed beans if you had to use tinned beans like I did.)

Cook in the oven (or on the hob) with a lid on, for about 40-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. (You may want to add a little extra liquid during the cooking, so keep an eye on it. I did chuck in a splash of white wine.)

When the casserole is cooked, add the crème fraîche, tarragon vinegar and chopped tarragon and stir well to combine. Season and serve

Very tasty indeed. The rosemary and tarragon give the dish a distinctive flavour and work well with the chicken and the beans.

I served it with wasabi mash and steamed spring greens.


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Pumpkin korokke

Fig was over for our usual bout of Whoery on Tuesday (although, in the end, we went for some 1970s Whodunnit with Jon Pertwee, including one episode featuring Nick ‘The Brigadier’ Courtney as the murder victim.) Alberto was around as well so I decided to do a Japanese meal for the three of us. I chose brasied Chinese beef for the main course and opted for miso soup and these lovely pumpkin croquets as a starter.

They’re very tasty but really, really messy to make. The kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it once I’d finished! Still, they were nice though!

I made six, medium-sized croquets out of third of a butternut squash. I should have used a kabocha pumpkin, but you don’t get ’em in Sainsbury’s so butternut it was!

⅓ of a butternut squash or a kabocha pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks
500ml of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of butter
½ a brown onion, minced (or, at least, very finely chopped)
1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper
1 plate of flour
1 egg, beaten
1 plate of panko breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

Pop the chunks of pumpkin and the chicken sock in a saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes or so until the pumpkin is soft.

In a small frying pan, melt the butter and cook the onion over a medium heat, until translucent. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the pumpkin is cooked, drain well and then place in a bowl and,using a potato masher, mash until mostly smooth. (A few little chunks will give the korokke a more interesting texture.

Add the onion, soy sauce, mayonnaise and season well with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to cool a bit before shaping.

Dampen your hands with water and then take a golf-ball sized amount of mixture and shape into a flat croquet, about 1cm thick.

Spread out the flour on a plate, the beaten egg on another and the breadcrumbs on the third.

Dip each croquet in the flour, tap off the excess, then coat in the egg and finally in the panko breadcrumbs. This is very messy as the mixture is solid but sloppy and will shed bits into the flour and breadcrumbs, as well as sticking to your fingers. The panko breadcrumbs are also tricky to work with and you don’t get as complete-a coverage as you do with fine breadcrumbs.

Heat about 1cm of vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot enough, slip the croquets into the oil and fry until golden and crispy. Depending upon how many you’ve made you may need to cook them in batches.
Serve hot.

Whilst these are extremely messy to make they are delicious – crispy and slightly oily on the outside and creamy and sweet on the inside. Tasty tasty!


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Aubergines stuffed with spiced pork

I made this for myself on Sunday evening. (Well, originally I made it for Abigail and I on Saturday evening but we ran out of time and had to go out before we could eat it, so Alberto and Jim reaped the benefit) It’s a tasty recipe and, I imagine, could probably stand a great deal of tinkering – different herbs and spices to create different flavours, according to taste. It’s from the book Dinner by Domini Kemp

This recipe serves 3-4, although I found that 1 aubergine stuffed with an appropriately scaled down amount of mince mixture fed me nicely

There is one slight oddity with the recipe – it tells you to mix some breadcrumbs with some milk, in a small bowl… and then never mentions them again, or tells you what to do with them! I made an educated guess and shoved ’em in when I was frying the aubergine pulp and onions. Odd though.

2-3 aubergines
150ml (approx) of olive oil
Salt and pepper
100g of breadcrumbs
80ml of milk
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
250g of minced pork
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ a teaspoon of ground cumin
1 dessert spoon of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
50g of Parmesan
1 egg, beaten
120g of grated cheddar
Chopped parsley to serve

Preheat the oven to 180.

Cut the aubergines in half, lengthways, score the flesh with a sharp knife, place on a baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 125-20 minutes.

Once cooked allow to cool until you can handle them and then scoop the flesh out into a bowl, taking care not to damage the skin.

Now the recipe says “Mix the breadcrumbs and milk together” This is the last time that they will be mentioned. There’s no clue as to what you’re actually supposed to do with them! I stuck ’em in the frying pan with the onions, aubergine flesh and mince.

In a large frying pan heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sweat the chopped onion. Add the aubergine flesh, and the minced pork. I put the milk-soaked-breadcrumbs in here too. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a few minutes. Season well and then add the vinegar and tomato.

Stir well and continue to cook until the mixture becomes quite dry and the vinegar and the juices from the tomato are mostly absorbed.

Once the meat is cooked through remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Then add the Parmesan and beaten egg and mix well. (I didn’t bother with the egg to be honest, it all seemed to bind together perfectly well without.)

Spoon the mixture into the aubergine skins and scatter over the grated cheddar. Drizzle with olive oil, season and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Garnish with chopped parsley.

Tasty tasty!


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Baked beans with chorizo, egg and feta

On Saturday evening Abigail and I were off out to see a pop up cinema screening of The Princess Bride at the local historic house Preston Manor. It was simply inconceivable that we could go out without eating something, so I flicked through Dinner and found this. It says that it serves 4 but I used the amounts as listed and it nicely served two of us. Make of that what you will…

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, diced
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
4-5 sprigs of thyme or rosemary (I opted for thyme)
80ml of red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons of tomato pureé
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 large eggs (I only used 2 for the two of us.)
200f pack of feta, crumbled
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the chorizo until it starts to release lovely orange fat. (I also added some smoked pancetta, as I happened to have some in the fridge) You may want to drain off some of the excess fat – depends how virtuous you’re feeling.

Add the onions and continue to cook until just starting to colour. Add the garlic, herbs, red wine vinegar, tomato pureé and 3 tablespoons of water. Mix well, season and cook for another few minutes.

When everything is well blended mix in the cannellini beans and stir well.

Transfer to a gratin dish of some sort. Make four (or two) wells and crack and egg in each/ Drizzle with a little more olive oil and then crumble the feta over the top. (trying not to cover the eggs)

Season with black pepper and then back in the oven for 15 minutes or so, until the eggs are cooked.

Serve hot with either some salad for extra greenery or crusty bread.


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Savoury soda bread muffins

I was flicking through the book Bread Revolution this morning looking for an interesting bread roll recipe to try and I came across this recipe and decided to make these instead. I didn’t have any beetroot though, and I was making them before Sainsbury’s opened, so I substituted some cooked, diced yellow pepper instead and that seemed to work nicely. I halved the mixture to make 6 rather than the suggested 12.

500g of plain flour
5g of fine sea salt
15g of bicarbonate of soda
125g of feta
5 teaspoons of olive oil
3 teaspoons of honey
5 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
300ml of water
150g of cooked beetroot, diced. (or 150g of yellow pepper, de-seeded, diced and lightly fried)
100g of cherry tomatoes, halved
Melted butter for greasing

Combine the flour, salt and bicarb in a bowl. Crumble in the feta and then add the oil, honey, vinegar and water and mix everything together into a dough, using a wooden spoon or spatula.

Gently work in the beetroot(pepper).

Preheat the oven to 200 and grease a muffin tray.

Take a slightly-larger-than-golfball-sized amount of mixture, and press 2 or 3 halved tomatoes into it. Form into a rough ball and place in the muffin tray. Do this until the mixture is used up.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until risen and golden.

Tasty tasty – although be wary of eating them when they’re too hot or you may suffer a mouth-burning explosion of cherry tomato!



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Lemon spiced chicken with chickpeas

On Tuesday evening Figgy was over for some Who (Silver Nemesis with the commentary on, for anyone interested) and so I needed something light and summery, but tasty, that Alberto could easily re-heat when he got in later. I spotted his recipe in the cookbook ‘Dinner, and thought I’d give it a go. The lemon zest and juice gives it a more summery flavour for a stew, and it works really well with some new potatoes. I also roasted a bit of asparagus to go with.

Serves 4

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized chunks
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of two lemons
400g of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
300ml of chicken stock
50ml of white wine
250g back of baby leaf spinach

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until soft over a medium heat.

Add the chicken, season well, turn up the heat and cook until brown, stirring frequently. Add the spices, including the cinnamon stick, and cook for a further couple of minutes, stirring so that the chicken and onions are well coated in the spices.

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute, stirring to de-glaze the pan. Then add the lemon zest and juice.

Add the chickpeas and stock, mix well and the pop the lid on and simmer gently, over a medium heat, for about 20-25 minutes. In the last couple of minutes taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and the add the spinach. Stir the spinach in until it wilts. Serve.

Delicious. The lemon and the spices make for a tasty, summery flavour. I’ll make this one again!


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Pork and spring onions in Hoisin sauce

I made this quick and tasty stir-fry for myself on Thursday evening prior to popping out to see Abigail. It’s easy to do but full of flavour and you can augment the dish with any stir-fry appropriate vegetables of your choice. I opted for some sliced red pepper, tenderstem broccoli and fine green beans. I served it with rice, although it would work just as well with medium egg noodles.

Serves 1

1 pork shoulder steak, diced
1-2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
A 1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 sprinkling of dried chilli flakes
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced into 5mm slices
½ a red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
A few heads of tenderstem broccoli, trimmed
A handful of green beans, cut in two
1-2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
1-2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
A dash of fish sauce
A dash of dark soy sauce
A good pinch of sugar
A good pinch of salt
A sprinkling of sesame seeds to garnish
Plain rice to serve

Heat the groundnut oil in a wok and add the garlic, ginger and half of the spring onions and stir fry for a minute or two over a medium heat.

Add the pork and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until nicely browned. Once cooked, remove from the heat.

If necessary, add a little more oil to the wok and then add the pepper, beans and broccoli and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, then add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and sugar and stir well to combine.

Cook for a couple of minutes and then return the cooked pork, ginger, garlic and spring onions to the wok, along with the remaining half of the spring onions.

Cook for another couple of minutes, (you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water if it looks like drying out too much. Not too much though as you want the sauce to be fairly thick.) then serve, sprinkled with sesame seeds.



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Beef Rendang

On Thursday evening Alberto was getting back from Spain late, and I was cleaning the oven, so I needed something that could be done on the hob and with very little preparation, and which could be easily re-heated. Flicking through Dinner, I came across this recipe – it looked full of flavour and easy to do, and I do love a tasty curry, so I thought I’d plunge in. It takes a couple of hours so it’s not a quick meal but it is fairly straightforward and, once it is all in the saucepan and simmering nicely it only really needs stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking. (So I could get on with cleaning the oven. Oh the glamour!)

Serves 6-8

1-1.5kg of braising steak, diced
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
A good pinch of dried chillies
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2-3 good glugs of olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
3” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 sticks of lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
800ml of coconut milk
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish
1 red pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped (optional) (This was my own addition as I felt that the curry was a little bit lacking in actual vegetables.)

Serve with Basmati rice

Put all of the spices in a large saucepan and gently heat to roast the spices. Remove from the heat and crush the spices. (I poured the warm spices into a pestle and mortar which was a bit of a mistake as the warm turmeric adhered to the rough stone of the bowl and I probably lost about a quarter of it. On reflection I should have used the end of a rolling pin to crush the spices in the saucepan. Whichever way I do it I never seem to grind the coriander seeds quite finely enough and they add a husk-y texture to the finished dish. Ah well, I’ll try better next time!)

Add the olive oil to the crushed spices in the saucepan. Then add in the garlic, onion, ginger and lemongrass and sweat for a few minutes until starting to soften.

Add the meat to the pan and mix so that it is well coated with the spices, season well with salt and pepper and then sprinkle over the sugar. Turn up the heat a little so that the meat browns but make sure that the spices don’t burn.

Add the coconut milk, stir well and bring to a simmer. After a couple of minutes turn the heat down to low and cook for at least two hours. I left it uncovered for the first hour, so that the sauce would reduce a bit, but then covered it for the second hour so that it didn’t reduce too much. Stir regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

If, like me, you’re adding some diced red pepper, stir it in when there is about half an hour of cooking time left to go.

After two hours the meat should be nice and tender and the sauce thick.

Serve garnished with coriander leaves.



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Roast chicken with fennel, marmalade and mustard

Last night I had Figgy over for our usual Tuesday evening bout of wine drinking and Who Watching. It was a bit of a Dalek-y evening as we’d started the William Hartnell 6-parter The Dalek Invasion of Earth last week and so we finished that off… and then decided to watch the Peter Cushing movie version to compare and contrast. Fun fun! :D (Fig loves Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD as his home town appears on screen, albeit only on Doctor Who’s map.)

Anyway, with Fig coming over I decided to cook this, once again from the new Domini Kemp book, Dinner. I’d been a little wary of it as I’m not that keen on the aniseed-y flavour of fennel but I figured (hoped) that the flavours of the mustard and marmalade would take the edge off it. The resulting dish was, in fact, delicious. In fact Fig said that it was, and I quote, ‘One of the nicest things I’ve ever tasted.’ So there you go – praise indeed! :D

The recipe says that it serves 4-6 but as you can easily add, or subtract, chicken pieces, you can easily scale it up, or down, as required.

10-12 pieces of chicken – drumsticks or thighs. I opted for two thighs per person
100ml of white wine
4 table4spoons of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
3 fennel bulbs cut into half-inch slices (It doesn’t say whether the bulbs should be sliced lengthways or crosswise – so I opted for one each. (I only used two fennel bulbs.))
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 head of garlic, left whole
1 orange, cut into rounds and then those round sliced into half-moons
1 tablespoon of thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
2 tablespoons of marmalade
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.

Pre-heat the oven to 190. (The recipe says 170 and I normally cook chicken at 200, so I compromised…)

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix really well so that everything is coated in the sauce.

You can cover this with cling film and leave to refrigerate until you’re ready to start cooking.

Place the ingredients in a single layer of a gratin dish (or two gratin dishes, if there’s too much stuff for just one.)

Season well, loosely cover with foil and roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the chicken is well cooked. Take the foil off for the last 20 minutes of cooking time so that the orange can caramelise a bit.

I served this with new potatoes and steamed spring greens. Very nice and much tastier than I was expecting.


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White pizza

Friday night is usually pizza night for Alberto and I and even though he was out for dinner this evening I saw no reason to abandon the tradition. I spotted this recipe whilst flicking through the lovely Dinner by Domini Kemp and was intrigued by it. The idea of a pizza with honey in the base dough and crème fraîche on top was interesting but I worried that it would be too sweet. Still, I was willing to give it a try.

I’ve only done one main recipe from this book so far and found that one easy to follow. This one, however, is frustratingly vague on a couple of points and seemingly contradictory in a couple of places. For example, the author talks about the dough being a thin one, but then recommends allowing 30 minutes for it to rise! (actually this dough comes out really well, especially with the aid of my pizza stone, as it is crisp on the bottom and fluffy on top.) Also the recipe says that it serves 2-4, but the description says that it will serve two people for a ‘light meal’, or one hungry person! Which is it? 1? 2? or 4? The recipe says to use 500g of flour to make two bases, whereas I normally use about 250g to make two thin bases. Hey ho – I went with the proportions as listed in the book, and which I will list here, but halved to only make one base.

I have to say, despite my initial reservations that the resulting pizza might be a bit bland and sweet it was, in fact, delicious. The crème fraîche topping isn’t sweet at all, the base is lovely and fluffy, and the salami and Gruyère are nicely tangy, along with the light sharpness of the rosemary. Definitely one to make again!

Serves 2-4 (or 2) (or 1)

For the dough:

500g of strong white bread flour
7g of dried yeast
150ml of warm water
1 tablespoon of clear honey
3 tablespoons of olive oil
A good pinch of of salt
Up to 100ml of additional water (you may not need this – see how it goes.)

For the topping:

200g of crème fraîche, approx
50-100g of sliced German salami
Leaves from a few sprigs of rosemary, oregano of thyme (I opted for rosemary, thyme and basil and that worked really well)
100g of Gruyère, grated
Salt and pepper
Olive oil to drizzle

Mix the flour, yeast, honey, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Gradually add the warm water, mixing well to form a soft dough. You may need to use some additional water, but I didn’t find it necessary.

Once the dough as formed turn it out on to a floured surface and knead for a minute or so until smooth.

Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 3 hours, until doubled in size. (3 hours!! I only leave bread flour to rise for 2 hours. Still, I ended up leaving it for well over 2 hours, due to being busy doing other things.)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 and warm through your pizza stone for at least 40 minutes.

Cut the dough into two and roll out into two, broadly rectangular pizza bases. The dough should be quite elastic so it may spring back a bit, but roll it out as thin as you can. Lay out on greaseproof paper and allow to sit for 30 minutes to rise slightly.

When the pizza stone is hot sprinkle it lightly with flour, then place the dough on the stone and start to top your pizza.

Top with a generous layer of crème fraîche, sprinkle with the herbs then add the salami (I popped on some diced smoked pancetta as well.) and scatter over the Gruyère. Season with salt and pepper.

Place in the hot oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Absolutely delicious!


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