Parsley Sauce

Knock Knock
Who’s there!
Parsley!
Parsley who?
Parsley the sauce please!

Excuse this bad joke, but I just couldn’t resist..
I have to admit that not only have I never made parsley sauce, I never even tried it before.  One of my colleagues always says how much she loves it. I had to try it to see what it’s all about.

I see the appeal now,  it’s a really delicious, quick and no fuss sauce to make and can be used with ham, fishcakes, baked fish, or even vegetables. We had it simply with baked salmon and green beans.

CLASSIC PARSLEY SAUCE

(adapted from BBC Food)

Tip:  Make it just before you need to use it.

Ingredients:

25g butter

25g plain flour

400ml milk

a good handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.

  2. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, watch the heat to ensure sure the paste does not burn.

  3. Gradually stir in the milk to get a smooth sauce. I prefer to use a whisk for that, stirring all the time, bring to the boil.

  4. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, stir in chopped parsley, serve it straight away.

 

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Leftovers Cheesy Gratin

It’s not the most sophisticated dish, to be honest, but it works on so many levels. It helps to tidy up the loose ends from your fridge and takes minutes to assemble the dish, and goes so well on a midweek cold evening.

Leftovers Gratin

Leftovers cheesy gratin

LEFTOVERS CHEESY GRATIN

Ingredients:

50g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

50g flour

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

500ml milk

200g mature cheddar, grated

3 cooked potatoes, sliced

200g frozen peas

200g any cooked meat/ham (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion, cook until it’s soft and translucent. Then stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth with no lumps, (I prefer to use a whisk for that) keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and thickens to a creamy sauce. At this stage add the mustard and cheese, leaving a handful of grated cheese aside for the topping. Check for seasoning and remove from the heat.
  3. Place potatoes, peas and cooked meat or any other cooked vegetables you’d like to use up, in a deep oven proof dish. Pour over the cheese sauce, then sprinkle with remaining cheddar.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the topping is golden and crisp.

 

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew

It’s a really hearty, earthy, yet fruity light dish. I can’t say it’s the most presentable creation as the red cabbage lends a distinctive monotone colouring to the whole thing. However, if not made for dinner party, it will impress just as well as a mid week supper. This dish is a winner and a budget friendly one too. I served it with a yoghurt and tahini lemon drizzle to top, but it’s just as good on it’s own.

Moroccan Lamb and Lentil Stew

MOROCCAN LENTIL AND LAMB STEW

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves,  finely chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander

pinch ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon za’tar (optional)

350 g dried green lentil, rinsed

1.5 litre chicken stock

1/2 small red cabbage, finely shredded

400 g lamb leg steaks, diced

50 g dried apricots, chopped

50 g dried currants, chopped (optional)

1 lemon, for squeezing

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a large casserole heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the diced lamb and brown over a high heat until it just cooked. Set aside.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the casserole and gently cook the onion until softened. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the spices and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the lentil and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cabbage and cook, covered, for 30-35 minutes, until the lentil are tender.
  4. Stir in the apricots, currants and lamb for the final 10 minutes of cooking time.
  5. Check seasoning, squeeze some lemon juice, serve on its own or drizzle with Yoghurt & Tahini dressing.

Yoghurt & Tahini Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini paste, at room temperature

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups plain yogurt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Mix by hand or blend in a food processor everything up and drizzle on top.
  • The tahini sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew

Potato Pancakes

To celebrate The Pancake Day (yesterday) I chose a less conventional recipe for pancakes. Someone, probably, would debate even if you can call them ‘pancakes’, but that’s how we call them at home and I will continue to do so.

When we grew up, we didn’t really have any ‘take away’ places and the only ‘fast food’ we knew, it was the food made by our Mums and Babushkas. It was always the food with few ingredients, probably not always healthy (but what sort of  ‘fast food’ is?), but always comforting and delicious! These pancakes are in that ‘fast food’ range. And you don’t need to wait for Pancake Day to have it really, it’s perfect any time, when you crave for the comfort food.

Potato pancakes / Druniki

POTATO PANCAKES

Ingredients:

4 potatoes, peeled

4 tablespoons plain floor

2 eggs, lightly beaten

salt to taste

vegetable oil for frying

soured cream for serving

Method:

  1. You can grate finely, coarselyor mince the potatoes by hand, or you can simply put it in a food processor and blitz it until it becomes fine mass without any big pieces (imagine you blend the soup, so the consistency of the potatoes should be like that).
  2. Add the eggs, flour, salt and mix thoroughly to avoid lumps.
  3. In a pan pour oil, wait until its hot (but not burning!), put potato mixture with a spoon. Fry each side until brown, flip. The pancakes brown rather quickly, so do not walk away very far from the pan, keep an eye on them.
  4. When the pancakes are cooked put then on kitchen towel to drain the excess of the oil. Serve meanwhile they are hot, on its own or preferably with soured cream.

Potato Pancakes

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

Here is the one of many versions of the traditional dish from your local Chinese takeaway. Chicken breasts are coated in a light batter, then fried along with any vegetables of your choice, before being served with a tangy lemon sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

LEMON CHICKEN STIR-FRY

Ingredients:

1 lemon

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon groundnut oil

2 skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces

 1 cup fresh or frozen sweetcorn

1 yellow pepper, diced or sliced

3-4 spring onions, chopped

sesame oil, for drizzling over (optional)

Method:

  1. In a bowl zest 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice the lemon and whisk 3-4 tablespoons of the juice with water, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sliced pepper, cook for another 3 minutes, add sweetcorn, continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
  3.  Whisk the sauce mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spring onion at the end of cooking and serve with rice or noodles.

Lemon Chicken Stir-fry

Happy Chinese New Year 2016 to everyone who celebrates! Best wishes to all!

Spiced Lamb and Aubergine Pilaf

I love this kind of dish. It can be made well in advance and with a basic selection of spices from you cupboard i.e. cumin, cinnamon, chilli, coriander, you can transform other plainer ingredients like rice and aubergines into an exotic, budget-friendly dish. This is most definitely a real crowd pleaser. Also by using lamb mince instead of cuts of lamb, the whole process even easier.

Spiced Lamb & Aubergine Pilaf

SPICED LAMB AND AUBERGINE PILAF

(Original recipe by Sophie Wright)

Ingredients:

2–3 medium aubergines, cut into 2cm pieces
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g lamb mince
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
75g chopped dried apricots (raisins or dates also work really well)
200g chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
250g white rice (I like basmati but any will do)
600ml lamb or chicken stock
75g toasted pine nuts, flaked almonds (optional)
10–15 fresh mint leaves, shredded (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Place the prepared aubergine onto a baking tray (you may need two), drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through. Ensure the aubergine pieces on the outsides of the tray don’t burn.
  2. While the aubergine is cooking, place a large casserole dish on the stove and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, season and cook for around 10 minutes on a low heat until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Now add the lamb, increase the heat and seal for 5 minutes. You want the lamb mince to have a little colour. Now add the spices, the cooked aubergine, the sultanas and the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Cook for 8–10 minutes to allow the spices to properly cook out. Season again.
  4. Now add the rice. Coat it well in all the spices and pan juices before adding the stock. Put on the lid and bring to the boil, then transfer the casserole dish to the oven and cook for 35–40 minutes. Check it once whilst cooking – if it looks like it needs a little more stock, now is a good time to add it.
  5. You may want to add some toasted nuts and freshly shredded mint before taking the dish to the table. You can have this with griddled flatbreads and some Greek yoghurt. However, we had it simply with fresh cucumber, radishes and yoghurt salad on the side.

Spiced Lamb & Aubergine Pilaf

Pepperpot Beef with Kidney Beans

IMG_4901

I got a book by Sophie Wright for Christmas this year and this was the first recipe I saw in it. It took me a while to come around to make it 🙂 but it was on my mind ever since. I have to admit, I am not a big beef eater but lately I had a weird craving for it, so I did experiment with few ways of cooking it and this recipe was one of them. Perfect for a cosy night in without any fuss!

PEPPERPOT BEEF WITH KIDNEY BEANS

(Original recipe by Sophie Wright)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
500g diced beef (use shin, brisket, chuck or braising steak)
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
100mls water or beef stock
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon chilli powder or paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or any sugar)
2 tablespoons red or green chillies, chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (white wine or cider vinegar will also work)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC if oven cooking. Place a heavy-based casserole dish on the stove and add the oil.

2. While the pan is heating up over a high heat, put the diced beef into a bowl with the flour and coat it well in the flour. Gently lay the meat into the hot oil and fry in batches until all the meat is golden brown.  4 minutes per side should do it.  If cooking in batches, remove the first lot before doing the next.

3. Turn down the heat to medium and add all the meat back into the pan and add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Coat the onion in all the juices in the bottom of your pan and add 100mls of water or beef stock.  Scrape the bottom of the pan as the water boils to try to release some of that lovely flavour from sealing the meat.

4. Now add the ginger and chilli powder or paprika, season with salt and pepper, then add the peppers, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar,chopped chillies, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and vinegar. Bring the stew to the boil, place on a lid and cook in the preheated oven for 1 & 1/2 hours. (You can also cook it on the top of the stove over a very low heat which will take around about the same time, just make sure you stir it every half an hour or so to prevent it from burning.

5. Add a little more water if you think its getting a bit dry.  The beef should be seriously tender when the stew is ready and the sauce will be thick and sticky.
Serve with rice, mashed potato or a crispy-skinned jacket potato and lots of sour cream.