Category Archives: Main Courses

It’s nearly Christmas : So here is the Perfect Christmas Dinner !


Well christmas dinner is different for everyone, but this is what we do every year. Now it may be a bit much, but my birthday is also on the same day as… yes you heard it Jesus Christ… so it is my favourite time or year, and yes I need me some delicious Christmas goodness to make up for the fact that I only get presents once a year ! I always serve my christmas dinner with bread sauce, cranberry sauce and of course gravy! Now I personally don’t make my own gravy, and I know it is a ridiculous reason, but I don’t like the idea of eating giblets… so I prefer the pre-bought version (Bisto). I’m also adding a christmas pudding recipe, but I hardly ever make it. I do however make mince pies, which may I say are very yummy!

The Roast Turkey

Step 1

Ingredients

  • 1 5 -7 kg turkey
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 bunch of sage, thyme and rosemary
  • 25 g butter, softened
  • 1/2 lemon or orange

Method

1. Remove the turkey from the fridge 2-3 hours before you want to cook it, to allow it to reach room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 (if oven is fan assisted, use 160C).

3. Place the onion and herbs into the body cavity. Squeeze the juice of lemon or orange over the bird and put the fruit into the cavity. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.

4. Smear the turkey skin with butter and then season with salt and pepper, starting with breast side up. Then flip the turkey and repeat on the underside.

5. In a large roasting pan, place the turkey ready to roast breast side down. This allows fat to trickle from the back down to the breast to keep it moist.

6. Roast the turkey upside down for the first 2 hours (or, slightly less for the smaller bird).

7. Remove the turkey from the oven. Now, turn the turkey right side up for the remaining cooking time (30 – 45 minutes). Protect your hands with thick towel or clean Marigolds. (You can wrap these in plastic bags to keep them clean.) Hold the drumsticks to turn the turkey.

8. Return turkey to oven for 30 – 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted. If the juices are pink, return the turkey to the oven and check again in 10 minutes. You don’t need to overcook the turkey as the internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise as the turkey rests. A dry turkey is often just overcooked!

9. Remove turkey from the oven. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 30 – 60 minutes so the juices settle into the meat.

10. Carve the turkey into the pan juices to keep mois

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Lardons

Step 2

Ingredients

  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 25 g vacuum-packed cooked and peeledchestnuts, chopped
  • 50g (or more if you like) of lardons
  • 300 g brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 Garlic cloves, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 chopped onions

Method

1. Drizzle the oil in  a frying pan and fry the garlic, lardons and onion.

2. Cook the Brussels sprouts in salted boiling water for 5-8 minutes, or until tender, then drain.

3. Then in the large frying pan, put the cooked brussels sprouts in and make sure they are cooked well.

4. Then put the chestnuts in. Leave to cook for a while. I like mine a bit mushy.

Goose Fat Roast Potatoes

Step 3

Ingredients

  • salt
  • 600 g potatoes, peeled and chopped into even-sized chunks
  • 150 g goose fat
  • Rosemary sprigs

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add in the potatoes. Once the water comes back to the boil parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes; drain and return to the pan. Shake the pan vigorously to roughen the potatoes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the goose fat to smoking point in a roasting tin. Add in the potatoes, using tongs to place them in the tin cut side down. Add the rosemary sprigs.

4. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning over twice during the roasting period.

Sticky Cumin and Apricot Roast Carrots and Parsnips

Step 4

Ingredients

  • 500 g small carrots
  • 500 g small parsnips, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

2. Place the carrots and parsnips in a large roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the cumin seeds, season with salt and pepper and toss everything together to coat evenly.

3. Roast in the oven for 40–45 minutes, tossing occasionally in the oil during cooking, until tender and golden.

4. Heat the apricot jam and lemon juice for a few minutes in a small saucepan, stirring until you have a smooth, runny sauce. Pour this over the carrots and parsnips for the last 10 minutes of cooking, tossing the vegetables in the sauce to coat evenly. Scatter with the coriander just before serving.

Traditional Bread Sauce

Step 5

Ingredients

  • 300 ml milk
  • 150 ml single cream
  • 1 onions
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 25 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinches salt
  • 1 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 25 g butter

Method

1. Bring the milk and cream to a simmering boil in a saucepan. Add the onion, cloves and bay leaf.

2. Set aside to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain into a clean pan.

3. Add the breadcrumbs and simmer for 2 minutes until thickened. Season with the salt and cayenne pepper.

4. Remove from the heat, and melt the butter on top, which will form a seal until ready to serve.

5. When read to use, gently heat through, mix the butter in and serve.

Cranberry Sauce

Step 6

Ingredients

  • 170 g cranberries
  • sloe gin, to marinate
  • 150 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 2 pinches ground allspice
  • 1 pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinches ground cinnamon

Method

1. Leave the cranberries to marinate in a splash of sloe gin in a shallow non-reactive bowl.

2. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a separate bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Pour the orange-sugar mixture into a pan, add the marinated cranberries and spices and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed.

4. Leave to cool and serve with turkey. The sauce can be stored, covered, in the fridge for 2-3 days or frozen for up to a month.

Christmas Pudding

Step 7

Ingredients

  • 350 g sultanas
  • 350 g raisins, or currants
  • 150 g dried figs, chopped
  • 125 g mixed candied peel, chopped
  • 100 g dried apricots, chopped
  • 75 g dark glacé cherries, halved
  • 150 ml brandy, plus some for flaming
  • 2 apples, or quince
  • 2 oranges, juice and zest
  • 6 eggs
  • 250 g shredded suet
  • 350 g soft muscovado sugar
  • 250 g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

Method

1. You will need two 1.5 litre plastic pudding basins and lids, buttered, two old sixpences or two pound coins, scrupulously scrubbed, two circles of greaseproof paper, buttered, large enough to cover the top of each pudding, with a single pleat folded down the centre of each.

2. Soak the sultanas, raisins or currants, figs, candied peel, apricots and cherries in the brandy overnight. The liquid won’t cover the fruit but no matter; just give it a good stir now and again.

3. Mix the grated apples, orange juice and zest, beaten eggs, suet, sugar, crumbs and pour in a very large mixing bowl, then stir in the soaked fruit and the spice. Divide the mixture between the buttered pudding basins, tucking the coins in as you go. Cover with the greaseproof paper, folded with a pleat in the centre.

4. Pop the lids on and steam for three and a half hours. Allow the puddings to cool, then remove the greaseproof paper, cover tightly with cling ?lm and the plastic lid and store in a cool, dry place till Christmas.

5. To reheat: steam the puddings for a further three and a half hours. Turn out and flame with brandy.

 

 

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Filed under Christmas, Desserts, Family, Food & Cooking, Friends, Happiness, Holidays, Home, Love, Main Courses, Orgasm

Strömming : To Taste or not to Taste, That is the Question !


 

Stekt strömming

Many people have heard of this delicacy but many do not call it by name! Fear not! Because I and I alone have (and will again) face the devilishness that is “Strömming”!

This elusive product can only be found in Scandinavia (or is very strange and posh retail shops around the globe). You may ask why. Well it has ve deemed “illegal” to transport this product via airplane because it has been defined as a “risk”. True, it is less scary than a terrorist with a ten kilos of C4 strapped to his body but… the effect is nearly (and I stress nearly) the same!

Have I sparked your interest? Maybe I have and maybe I haven’t but he is what you have been (or not) dying to know. What is “Strömming”? It is by definition (and I quote the Swedish Tourist Board!) “…or fried Baltic herring is one of hundreds of recipes based on the smaller-sized eastern relative of the North Sea herring. Swedes often say that Baltic herring is better the fatter it is, but the truth is perhaps that all Baltic herring tastes good.”

All I can say… is mmm yeah right! Now true true I am biased in this situation because I hate fish and all things fish-related. That said I hurled myself head forward and tasted and prepared this very dish myself. (I will supply the recipe at the end, for all those who are of an enquiring nature).

You are probably asking yourself what this big furore is about. Well it’s all about the smell. Or should I say stink! It is also known known colloquially as Scandinavian rotten fish, is a northern Swedish dish consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Any of this tempting you yet? If so, then good for you! I applaud you! For the rest of you (including myself) I have resigned myself to the following : Strömming doesn’t taste that great, and nor does it taste amazing either BUT it is an important part of Swedish culture and, like Reindeer steak… should be tasted!

I do recommend however opening the can of herrings under water, such as in a bucket… and outside. The smell is lessened this way, thank god!). Strömming doesn’t look that appealing either (are you surprised?) You can buy it at a small place in Gamla Stan too.

However, I fear I have not given you enough incentive to eat it and truthfully I can’t… the only thing I could say is that you should do it out of curiosity and out of courage!

Stekt strömming – The Recipe

 

Ingredients

4–6 servings

1 kg (2¼ lb) Baltic herring filet
coarse rye flour
salt, white pepper
butter

Marinade:
350 g (12 oz) sugar
300 ml (1½ cup) distilled white vinegar (12% alcohol)
600 ml (3 cups) water
2 tbs whole allspice
2–4 bay leaves
2 red onions

Preparation

Place the Baltic herring filets skin side down on a cutting board or similar surface. Salt them and give them a few turns from the white pepper mill, then put together the filets in pairs. Roll the filets in coarse rye flour and fry them in butter until golden brown on both sides. Eat them right away with potatoes and lingonberries, as in the photo, or make a marinated version as follows.

Marinated fried Baltic herring:
Mix all the marinade ingredients and boil for a few minutes in a pot. Place the finished fried Baltic herring filets, while still warm, on top of each other in a deep bowl or dish. Pour the warm marinade over them. Let stand until cool. Peel the red onion, divide it in two, slice it thin and sprinkle on top.

 

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Filed under Europe, Food & Cooking, Hate!, LOL, Main Courses, Politics, Sweden, Travel

Easy, Peasy, Lemon Squeezy Recipes!


Someone who shall remind nameless complained that my recipes were far to complicated for him and he wanted a dish in less than five ingredients! So as I like a challange I have some delicious yet easy recipes for the… unskilled cook! Hope it helps! (First a nice starter, or (main course if you eat more than one bowl) then a couple of main courses and some very yummy desserts!)

Potato and Thyme Soup

A Delicious and Filling Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • olive oil, for frying and drizzling
  • 600 g potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock

Method

1. In a large saucepan, fry the onion in the butter and olive oil until softened but not browned.

2. Add the potatoes and most of the thyme and cook until the potatoes turn translucent. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. Cover with the chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

4. Let the soup cool slightly before puréeing it with a hand-blender – leave a few lumps if you prefer a rustic-style soup.

5. Reheat if necessary then serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and the remaining thyme leaves scattered on top.

Chicken with Lemon, Honey and Rosemary

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 8 chicken pieces (8 chicken pieces (breasts, legs or thighs)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp honey, warmed
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, or 6 sprigs of thyme

Chicken!

For the salad

  • 150 g goats’ cheese
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 01 lemon, juice only
  • 6-8 tbsp olive oil

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.

2. Place the chicken pieces in a large baking dish, skin side up (they can be skinned if you prefer but the chicken will be more moist with the skin on). In a small bowl mix the juice of the lemons with the warm honey, then pour this over the chicken pieces. Place the empty lemon halves in the dish between the chicken pieces for extra flavour, along with the sprigs of rosemary or thyme. Season with sea salt and pepper.

3. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the skin is golden. Remove from the oven and discard the lemon halves.

4. Pour the juices from the dish into a saucepan and boil, uncovered, for about 5 minutes until the juices have thickened slightly. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

5. Add the salad ingredients to a bowl, combine the lemon juice and olive oil and season well. Pour over the salad just before serving.

6. Serve the chicken and sauce with the salad.

10 Minute Salmon with Spring Onion Sauce

If you like fish…

Ingredients

  • 450 g wild salmon fillet
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 570 ml water
  • 6 tbsp coursley chopped spring onions
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp low salt soy sauce

Method

1. Rub the salmon fillets with the pepper.

2. Bring the water to the simmer in the wok. Add the salmon, simmer for 2-3 minutes, cover tightly and turn off the heat. Allow to stand for 4 minutes.

3. Combine the spring onions and ginger together in a small bowl.

4. In a small wok or pan combine the sunflower and sesame oils and bring it to the smoking point.

5. Remove the salmon from the water and arrange on a platter. Scatter the spring onion and ginger mixture on top and pour the hot oils over it. Then pour the soy sauce over the salmon and serve at once.

Chocolate, coffee and cardamom mousse

Chocolate…

Ingredients

  • 130 g dark chocolate, plus extra for grating
  • 85 ml coldstrong black coffee, (espresso is great)
  • 2 cardamom pods, husks discarded and seeds lightly crushed
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • crème fraîche, and grated chocolate, to serve

Method

1. Place 4 x 120ml ramekins or serving glasses in the fridge; this will help the mousses to set quickly.

2. Break the chocolate into chunks, then put in a large heatproof bowl with the coffee and cardamom seeds. Set over a pan of simmering water for about 3 minutes until the chocolate has melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and making sure that the bowl is not touching the hot water. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

3. Once the chocolate has cooled for a few minutes, beat in the egg yolks one at a time, using a wooden spoon. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and, using a balloon whisk or an electric beater, whisk to soft peaks. Tip the sugar into the stiff whites and continue to whisk until the mixture is glossy and meringue-like.

4. Stir a spoonful of the whites into the melted chocolate – this helps to loosen the mixture – then carefully and lightly fold in the rest of the meringue. Spoon the mixture into the chilled ramekins or glasses and chill for at least 40 minutes (or up to 2 hours if time allows). Serve on plates with a good dollop of crème fraîche topped with a little grated chocolate, if liked.

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Filed under Desserts, Food & Cooking, Main Courses, Starters

The Perfect Three Course Meal (Well at Least ONE of them!)


Here is a perfectly balanced and tasty meal that I though I would share with you all! Enjoy!

Fig and orange salad with melting shropshire blue

Starter

Ingredients

  • 3 oranges
  • 4 fresh figs
  • 150 g toasted walnuts
  • 150 g red cabbage, shredded finely
  • 175 g rocket

For the dressing

  • 150 g Shropshire Blue cheese
  • 200 ml crème fraîche

Method

1. Slice the top and bottom off each orange and peel down the sides with a sharp knife. Cut between each membrane to remove the orange segments. Put into a bowl with any juices.

2. Wipe and quarter the figs and add to the orange segments with the toasted pecans, shredded red cabbage and rocket leaves. Toss together well and divide between 4 serving plates.

3. For the dressing: crumble the Shropshire Blue into a small heavy-based pan and cook, stirring, over a gentle heat until cheese melts. Whisk in the crème fraîche and heat gently (don’t allow mixture to bubble) until you have a smooth creamy dressing.

4. Drizzle over each plate of salad and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Duck breasts with broccoli and peperoncino

Main Course

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 4 duck breast
  • olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ small fresh red chillies, seeds removed, thickly sliced
  • 200 ml white wine
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 9.

2. Prepare the broccoli by peeling the central stalk and dividing the whole into florets – make sure you keep the stalks attached and keep them long.

3. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the broccoli and blanch for a couple of minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

4. Cut the duck breasts into three, and score the skin with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Preheat a large frying pan, add ½ tablespoon of oil and sear the duck breasts skin-side down over medium-high heat. When the skin is brown, turn and sear the other side. Reserve the pan juices.

6. Place the duck in a small roasting pan and roast for 7 minutes if you like your duck rare, or 10 minutes for well done. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest in a warm place.

7. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in another frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute until the garlic is just coloured. Toss the broccoli florets in the pan and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

8. To make a sauce for the duck, warm the reserved duck juices over medium heat. Add the white wine and simmer until reduced.

9. Add a little olive oil – this will make the sauce separate slightly – then add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and let it warm through gently.

10. Serve the duck with the broccoli and drizzle with the sauce.

Blackberry and apple crumble

Dessert

Ingredients

  • 4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into big chunks
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 225 g fresh or frozen blackberries, or mixed berries

For the crumble:

  • 170 g plain flour
  • 75 g butter
  • 75 g demerara sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

Put the apple chunks, water and sugar into a saucepan over a lowish heat and cook until the apples are soft and mushy; this should take about 10 minutes. While cooking, stir it every minute or so to prevent sticking. Taste and add more sugar if it needs it.

Transfer the apple pulp into individual bowls or one big pie dish and allow to cool slightly. Stir the berries into the apples.

To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles very coarse breadcrumbs. However, if you rub it too much the crumble will not be crunchy. Combine with the sugar. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the slightly cooled apple and bake for 15 mins for small crumbles or 30-45 mins for larger crumbles. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Filed under Desserts, Food & Cooking, Love, Main Courses, Starters

Two of the Best Salads this side of Paradise!


We all try and eat healthy… and salads are now found everywhere, from health food shops to burger joints (yes McDonalds I’m looking at you!) but it’s had to know what salads actually taste nice! I hate seeing on the designer salads and thinking “argh crap, I don’t even recognize some of these leaves!” Well, here are some truly delicious salads. Pleasing to the eyes and to your stomach (and your taste-buds!).

Warm Bacon, Potato and Chicken Salad 

Chicken...

Ingredients

  • 350g new potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 5tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 200g Waitrose Danish Smoked Bacon Lardons
  • 200g Waitrose British Chicken Mini Fillets, finely sliced
  • 1x50g packet Waitrose Rocket
  • 3tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

Method

  1. Place the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender, drain and keep warm.
  2. To make the dressing, mix together 4tbsp of the oil, the vinegar and shallot, season to taste and leave to one side.
  3. In a large frying pan, cook the lardons until crisp and golden, drain on kitchen paper and add to the cooked potatoes and keep warm. In the same frying pan heat the remaining olive oil, add the sliced chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.
  4. Place the cooked chicken into a large bowl with the potato and the bacon, add the dressing and rocket, then toss gently.
  5. Divide the mixture between two plates, top with the Parmesan and drizzle any remaining dressing over the salad and around the plate. Serve with warm Waitrose Rustic Bread.

 

Caesar Salad 

and more Chicken...

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise

For the croutons:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white baguette, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed

For the salad:

  • 2 Romaine lettuce hearts, rinsed and dried
  • 100g Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated
  • ½ x 100g jar of La Monegasque Anchovy Fillets with Capers and Hot Peppers in Olive Oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. For the croutons, toss the bread in a mixture of the olive oil and crushed garlic and spread over a baking sheet. Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp. Leave to cool.
  2. Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place in a salad bowl. To make the dressing, whisk the lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce with the garlic, mustard and seasoning. Whisk in the mayonnaise, then gradually whisk in the oil until the dressing is thick and creamy.
  3. Add the dressing to the lettuce and toss. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, anchovies and croutons and toss lightly. Serve immediately.

 

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Golden Oldies : Shepherd’s Pie, Lasagne & Chocolate Cake


This is just a couple of golden favourite recipes. They never go old and always taste good.

Shepherd’s Pie 

 

Mmm delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp bacon, fat (or dripping, or 1 tbsp sunflower oil and 1 tbsp butter)
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 675 g minced lamb, (or beef for a cottage pie)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinches black pepper

For the topping:

  • 900 g potatoes, cooked in their skins
  • 60 g butter
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 pinches nutmeg, freshly grated

Method

1. Take a large, deep frying pan and heat half the fat in it. Add the vegetables, and fry gently, until patched with brown. Scoop them out onto a plate.

2. Raise the heat under the pan and add half the mince. Pat it down flat and leave to fry without disturbing for several minutes until the underneath has browned properly. Then break it all up, turning it over. Repeat the browning process, and then lift the mince out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining mince.

3. Drain off excess fat and return the mince and vegetables to the pan. Sprinkle over the flour and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the herbs (tie bay leaf and thyme in a bundle for easy retrieval at the end of the cooking time), enough water to cover, the tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Simmer for about 45 minutes – adding a little more water if it is drying out. By the time it is cooked, the mince should be succulent and thickened. Adjust seasoning, then tip into a pie dish and leave to cool.

5. While the mince is cooking, heat the oven to 220C/gas 7 and bake the whole potatoes in the oven until tender. Turn the heat down to 190C/gas 5.

6. Scoop the potato flesh out of the skins, and mash with 45g of the measured butter and enough hot milk to give a mash which is fairly soft, but still hold its shape.

7. Dollop the mashed potato over the mince, then spread down lightly in an even layer. Use the prongs of a fork to make patterns on the surface. Dot with the remaining butter.

8. Bake for around 30 minutes until the top is browned and the juices from the meat are bubbling up round the edge.

Lasagna  

 

Yummyness!

Ingredients

  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 100 g salami, or bacon, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 kg minced beef
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 x 400 g cans plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 150 ml beef stock
  • 60 g butter
  • 70 g plain flour
  • 600 ml full-fat milk
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 250 g no-cook lasagne sheets
  • 1 block parmesan
  • 100 g mozzarella, grated

Method

1. There are two sauces and some layering up to be done, so get everything ready and then you can assemble. You’ll need a 20cm x 30cm shallow baking dish (or similar), inside lightly greased with oil.

2. To make the ragù sauce, gently fry the onion and garlic in a wide pan in 2 tbsp oil until soft but not coloured. Tip the salami or bacon in along with the minced beef and stir though, breaking up any clumps of mince. If you’ve bought a pack of supermarket mince, watch you don’t tip the blotting-paper-like wadding attached to the mince’s underside into the pan. (How many times have I done that?) Let it fry, moving it around from time to time, for about 4 minutes or until it’s faintly browned all over – it will, however, look more an unfortunate grey than brown. Next, season it, then add the tomato purée, oregano, chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring to a good bubble, and let it gently cook for about 20 minutes. It should be thick, gorgeously red, and not watery.

3. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and let it foam a bit, then slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. Keep stirring over a gentle heat until it thickens and bubbles. Grate in a good shower of nutmeg, add some salt and pepper and stir it through, then remove from the heat.

4. To assemble and bake, spread about a quarter of the meat sauce across the base of the prepared dish, then cover this with a layer of lasagne sheets. Spread this with the thinnest layer of white sauce and grate over some parmesan. Cover this with more pasta, and do the same again with white sauce and parmesan. Now, go back to the meat, and spoon in and spread out evenly another quarter of it. Top again with three layers of pasta, white sauce and parmesan. Continue to the top until everything is used up, finishing with a thicker layer of white sauce and then scatter the grated mozzarella all over the top. Slide the dish on the top shelf of a 190C/gas 5 oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the pasta inside is cooked and the top molten and golden. Eat with a green salad.

Chocolate Cake

 

Drop Dead Delicious!

 

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 175 g butter, softened
  • 40 g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 4 tbsp boiling water

For the icing:

  • 150 ml double cream
  • 150 g dark chocolate, (such as Bournville), broken in pieces
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

2. Place the eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

3. Mix together the cocoa powder and boiling water to form a paste. Mix the cocoa paste into the egg mixture.
4. Divide the mixture among two greased, lined 18cm sandwich cake tins, levelling the top.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cakes feel springy to the touch and shrink away from the sides of their tins.

6. Cool in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to become totally cold.

7. To make the icing, place the cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Carefully melt suspended over a pan of simmering water or very gently in the microwave.

8. Set aside to cool slightly.

9. Spread the apricot jam finely and evenly over the top of both chocolate cakes.

10. Use a third of the icing to spread over one of the apricot jam-topped cakes.

11. Sandwich the two cakes together, so that the icing is sandwiched in the middle.

12. Spread the remaining icing over the top of the chocolate cake in a swirl pattern.

13. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

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Filed under Desserts, Food & Cooking, Main Courses

Italian Meatballs in Pasta : Just Like I Love Them!


What is there to say? Who doesn’t like Italian meatballs? I love this dish. It is maybe a bit time consuming, but that doesn’t mean the result isn’t worth it! Make and enjoy!

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 250 g pork, minced
  • 250 g beef, minced
  • 1 eggs
  • 2 tbsp parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 tbsp semolina, or breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinches pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 onions
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, (not extra-virgin)
  • 700 g tomato passata
  • 1 pinches sugar
  • 1 pinches salt and black pepper
  • 100 ml full-fat milk

For the pasta

  • 400 g ’00’ flour
  • 1 pinches salt
  • 4 eggs

 

Method

1. To make the meatballs, just put everything in a large bowl, and then, using your hands, mix to combine, before shaping into small balls.

2. Place the meatballs on baking sheets or plates that you have lined with clingfilm, and put in the fridge as you finish them.

3. To make the tomato sauce, put the onion, garlic and oregano into the process and blitz to a pulp.

4. Heat the butter and oil in a deep wide pan, then scrape the onion-garlic mix into it and cook over a low-medium for about 10 minutes. Don’t let the mixture catch, just let it become soft.

5. Add the bottle of passata and then fill the empty bottle half full with cold water. Add this to the pan with the pinch of sugar, some salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes. The tomato sauce will appear thin at this stage, but don’t worry as it will thicken a little later.

6. Stir in the milk, and then drop the meatballs in one by one. Don’t stir the pan until the meatballs have turned from pink to brown as you don’t want to break them up.

7. Cook everything for about 20 minutes, with the lid only partially covering it. At the end of cooking time, check the seasoning as you may want more salt and a grind or two more of pepper.

8. To make the pasta, either put the flour (with the salt) in a bowl and crack the eggs into it, or make a mound of flour on a worktop and add the eggs to that. I don’t bother to beat them before adding them to the flour, but if you prefer to, then add them gradually, do. Just find the way that you prefer.

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

9. All you do is mix the flour and eggs together, and then knead the mixture until it all comes together in a satiny mass. Kneading involves no more than pushing the mixture away from you with the heels of your hands and then bringing it back towards you. If you’ve got an electric mixer with a dough hook, then do use that, but for some reason I don’t find it makes the pasta cohere any sooner. And you don’t get the relaxing satisfaction of making it by hand.

10. When the pasta is silky and smooth, form into a ball, cover with a cloth and leave for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

11. Get out your pasta machine, read the instructions and away you go. Two tips first: cut each slice you want to feed through the pasta machine as you go, and put through the no1 press quite a few times, folding the strip in half and pushing it through again after each time. When the pasta dough’s been fed a few times through the no1 slot, pass it through the remaining numbers on the gauge, before pushing it through the tagliatelle-cutters. And I find that the pasta strips cut into tagliatelle better if you leave them hanging over the table or wherever to dry a little first (10 minutes is enough).

12. When you cook the pasta, make sure you’ve got plenty of boiling salted water and start tasting immediately the water comes back to the boil after you’ve put the pasta in. Use about a third of the meatballs in their sauce to toss the cooked, drained pasta in and then pour the rest of them over the scantly sauced ribbons in the bowl. This is ambrosia: food to get you through the winter happily.

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Filed under Europe, Food & Cooking, Italy, Main Courses