Risotto with roast butternut squash, serrano ham, Parmiggiano cheese and white wine

I made this for myself for dinner this evening. I’ve been thinking about doing a risotto for a while and today was the day. It’s mostly a Gino D’Acampo recipe from his book Buonissimo, but I’ve added a few things to it.

The amounts given here are to serve one person. Some of the measurements are a bit approximate as I was scaling it down from a recipe for four. Risotto takes a while and you have to be patient, and quite attentive, whilst gradually adding the stock, but the end result is worth it. This is lovely and creamy, and very tasty with the onions, leeks and wine. The chillies on the butternut squash add a little heat and the squash itself provides a pleasant texture.

4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
400ml of chicken stock
100g of arborio rice
200ml of dry white wine
¼ of a large butternut squash, (or as much as you like, really) peeled and cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
Leaves from 2-3 sprigs of thyme
A generous knob of salted butter
2 slices of serrano ham, roughly torn into strips
2 tablespoons of finely grated Parmiggiano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Pop the chunks of squash on a baking tray, sprinkle with the dried chillies and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so until tender.

Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes or so, until soft and starting to colour, then add the leek and continue cooking for a further 3-5 minutes or so.

Add the rice to the pan and stir well to ensure that the rice is well coated with the oil. Add 150ml of wine to the rice and cook for 3-4 minutes until almost all of the wine has been absorbed.

Start to add the hot stock, a ladle-full at a time, only adding a fresh ladle-full when the last has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock, stirring frequently, until you only have about two ladle-fulls left to add.

Add in the roasted squash chunks, thyme leaves, and serrano ham, stir well to combine and add the penultimate ladle-full of stock. Once the final bit of stock is added and has been almost completely absorbed, remove the pan from the heat.

Add the remaining wine and stir it in. Then add in the butter and cheese stirring until the risotto has a creamy texture, and season well.

Serve immediately. Very tasty!


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Chorizo, morcilla, pork and lentils

Wednesday night’s dinner was this lovely little recipe from the aforementioned book, Tapas. It’s a delicious stew, full of tasty and distinct flavours. The recipe calls for black pudding, which I’ve only ever eaten once before. The recipe says to cut it into small pieces, so, during the stewing process, the black pudding mostly disintegrates and suffuses itself through the sauce. Alberto tells me that proper morcilla (the Spanish version of black pudding) has slightly different ingredients and so a somewhat different consistency. However, as I was unable to get hold of any of the proper stuff I made do with normal black pudding. I also had a bit of a trek to find yellow lentils, as Sainsbury’s only had the more usual red, green and puy. I found them in a handy little Turkish shop nearby, however, whilst picking up a fallen packet from the floor I was smacked on the back of the head by two more falling packets. Oh how I suffer for my culinary art! ;)

I’m afraid that the photo doesn’t really do this one justice as it’s a lovely, tasty dish, but the picture makes it look like a reddy-brown sludge. Hey ho. The lentils give it a pleasant texture and the paprika, chorizo and black pudding mean that it’s full of interesting flavours.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
150g of chorizo, chopped
300g of pork fillet, chopped into bite-sized pieces
225g of black pudding, cut into small pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped (I used a leek as Alberto and I dislike celery)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of tomato pureé
1 litre of chicken stock
4 tomatoes, chopped
300g of yellow lentils
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

Add the paprika, onion and garlic and cook for 45 seconds before adding the chorizo, pork and black pudding. Cook until the pork is browned and the chorizo starting to sizzle, then add the carrots and celery (leek) and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Blend the tomato pureé with the chicken stock and then pour into the saucepan. Stir well then add the tomatoes and lentils.

Bring to the boil and then cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally and adding more water if it looks like drying out.

Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.



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Albondigas y patatas bravas (meatballs and spicy potatoes)

Last Monday evening I made another dish from the Tapas cookbook. (Sorry it has taken me so long to update this – busy week!) Well, the recipe for the meatballs is certainly from there. For the patatas I had two recipes – one from Tapas and one from the BBC Good Food website. The Good Food one suggested roasting the potatoes in the oven, whereas the Tapas one calls for steaming and shallow frying. Alberto offered the third option of deep frying. I didn’t have enough oil for the deep frying option, and roasting didn’t appeal, so I opted for steaming and shallow frying. The end result wasn’t especially satisfactory I’m afraid. Maybe I steamed them for too long beforehand. Next time I shall follow Alberto’s advice and deep fry them! He knows best!

Serves 4

450 of pork mince
1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley
3-4 tablespoons of fresh, white breadcrumbs
1 medium egg, beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of plain flour, for coating
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil for frying

For the sauce:

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley
1-2 teaspoons of paprika
300g of cored and chopped tomatoes
¼ of a teaspoon of saffron strands
125g of frozen peas

Place all the ingredients for the meatballs, including salt and pepper to taste, in a bowl and mix together with your hands. As ever, the smaller you can make the pieces of onion, the easier it will be to form your balls. And all the squeezing can be quite therapeutic!

Once the mixture is well combined shape it into small balls. Dust with a little flour.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan or frying pan and gently fry the meatballs, turning to seal on all sides, until cooked through and golden.

Set the meatballs aside and start to make the sauce.

Fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until the onions are soft. Add the parsley, paprika, tomatoes and saffron and pour in 300ml of water. Stir well to combine and brign to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the sauce starts to thicken. Season to taste and then add the meatballs and peas to the sauce

Simmer for 10 minutes or so, to warm through, and then serve.

For the patatas

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 red chilli, chopped
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch smoked paprika
400g can chopped tomatoes
1kg new potatoes, halved or quartered
250g small cooking chorizo

Heat a little oil in a pan, fry the onion, garlic and chilli until the onion softens.

Add the cayenne and paprika and stir well to combine the spices with the onions. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes until you have a thick paste. Season well. (If you prefer a smooth sauce, blitz it with a hand blender.)

Meanwhile, steam the potatoes for 10 minutes.

Put the chorizo in a frying pan to slowly cook and release some of its oil. Tip off the excess red oil and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the potatoes and fry everything together, turning the heat up as you go so both the potatoes and chorizo brown in patches.

Tip into a bowl. Season the sauce and then spoon over the potatoes and chorizo to serve.



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Spanish garlic chicken

Last night I had the lovely Mr Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who (We opted for The Android Invasion, just in case you were wondering.) and whilst I was flicking through cookbooks looking for a nice recipe and happened upon this one in a book called Tapas – loads of interesting and tasty in recipes in there – and it looked like a good one to go for. It’s also a relatively low maintenance dish – once it’s in the oven you only have to baste it a couple of times and it’s quite happy bubbling away on it’s own.

One slight oddity of the recipe though – it tells you that you need 300ml of white wine and 300ml of chicken stock for the dish It then tells you to blend 125ml of each into a cooking liquid, with which you’ll be basting the chicken, leaving you with 185ml of each liquid left over, and which the recipe never mentions again! It’d possible that the extra liquid is there just in case you need to top up the liquid in the roasting dish during cooking, however if that is the case it is never alluded to. And I found that the 250ml already in the dish was sufficient anyway. Still,better to be safe than sorry I guess.

I served this with wasabi mash, roasted corn on the cob and a French bean, feta and red onion salad.

Serves 4

1 whole roasting chicken, jointed and cut into even pieces. (or just use chicken thighs and drumsticks – much more convenient.)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
300ml of Spanish dry white wine
300ml of chicken stock
Sea salt
A few fresh sprigs of rosemary to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Rub the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place in a roasting dish.

Place the garlic cloves, 125ml of the white wine and sea salt to taste, in a food processor and blend.

Add 125ml of stock and blend again until thorough mixed.

Pour the liquid over the chicken pieces and pop in another couple of unpeeled garlic cloves, tucking them into the chicken pieces. Cover with a lid (or tin foil, as I did) and pop in the oven.

After 15 minutes baste the chicken pieces with the cooking liquid. Recover and cook for a further 15 minutes. Baste again and then cook for a further 30 minutes, basting once more during the cooking period. Top up the liquid if necessary. (I didn’t find it necessary but you’ve got plenty of both liquids left over if you do.)

Serve garnish with fresh herbs and with the cooking liquor as a sauce.

Lovely garlic and tangy wine flavours. Delicious.


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Beef carbonnade

Sainsbury’s provided me with bargain braising steak, and plenty of it, so I decided to make this tasty-looking recipe. It takes about two and a half hours so it’s not a quick meal, but it’s not particularly high maintenance – once it’s in the oven you don’t even need to look at it for the best part of two hours. Like the pork chops with calvados it comes from the book The Food of France.

Serves 4

30g butter
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1kg of braising steak, cubed
4 onions, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of plain flour
500ml of beer
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme

For the crutons:
6-8 slices of French bread
Dijon mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 150.

Melt the butter in a large pan, along with a tablespoon of oil and brown the meat over a high heat. (You may need to do this in batches – it depends how big your pan is.) Lift the meat out of the pan and pop on a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onions. Cook over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes and then add the sugar and garlic (add a little more oil if necessary) and cook for a furter 5 minutes.

Remove the onion from the pan and place on another plate.

Reduce the heat to low and pour in any juices that have drained from the browned meat, the stir in the flour.

Remove from the heat and stir in the beer, a little at a time to prevent it from foaming up too much.

Return to the heat and gently simmer to thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Layer the meat and onion in a casserole dish, tucking the bay leaves and thyme sprigs between the layers and seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.

Pour the liquid over the meat, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2½ hours.

To make the croutons lightly toast the slices of bread and spread on one side with mustard.

Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the lid from the casserole dish, arrange the croutons on top, mustard side up and cook, uncovered, for the final 10 minutes.

I served this with a lightly cheesy mash and steamed spring greens.

No photos of this one as I accidentally deleted them from my camera! D’oh!

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Pork chops with brandy/calvados

Alberto and I were both back to work yesterday after the exhausting excitement and fun of Brighton Pride so I thought I’d cook this tasty little recipe for us in the evening. The recipe, as written, uses Calvados to flambé the chops, but I used ordinary brandy, rather than shell out for a bottle of Calvados, just for two tablespoons worth. It worked just as well and was just as tasty. And I managed to light it without taking my eyebrows off, which is always a bonus! The recipe is from the book The Food of France.

I opted for two chops per person as we were both quite hungry and kept all of the other proportions the same. I did over-reduce the sauce slightly but it was still tasty.

Serves 4

2oz of butter
2 dessert apples, cored and cut into wedges
½ a teaspoon of sugar
4 x 200g pork chops
2 tablespoons of Calvados or brandy
2 shallots, finely chopped (the recipe said French shallots (I suppose a French cook book would!) but the only options available at Sainsbury’s were round shallots and banana shallots, so I opted for the round ones.)
250ml of dry cider
125ml of chicken stock
150ml of double cream (cream and booze – two sure signs that a recipe is French!!)

Melt half the butter in a small frying pan, add the apple wedges and sprinkle over the sugar. Cook on a low heat, turning occasionally until tender and glazed.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the pork chops until cooked through, turning once.

Pour the excess fat from the pan, add the Calvados and flambé by lighting the pan with a long match. (Be careful!! Have a pan lid to hand, just in case!) Once the flame is out, transfer the pork to another plate and keep warm. (I popped them on the bottom shelf of the over, which I was using to roast the accompanying asparagus. I covered them with tin foil so that they wouldn’t dry out.)

Add the remaining butter to the pan and cook the shallots until soft but not coloured. Add the cider, stock, cream and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Season the sauce, add the pork and simmer for 3 minutes to heat through. Serve with the apple.


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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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