Recipe of the Week – 5th December 2016 – Tamale Pie


This recipe is a Mexican staple and is the ultimate comfort food for the cold evenings here on the run-up to Christmas. I really liked the cornmeal topping, which made a nice change from covering a pie with mashed potato or veggie suet. I played around with a few recipes to get this one, and some have more chillis and other peppers in them if you like your pies more fiery!

Serves 6

Ingredients 

4 tbs sunflower oil

2 large onions, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped

300g sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

200g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

100g frozen peas

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbs lemon juice

For the topping;

2 tbs vegetable oil

150g cornmeal (I grated a block of polenta, which worked really well)

100g cheese, grated

80g frozen sweetcorn

2 medium free range eggs

100ml milk

2 tbs plain white flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs chopped fresh coriander

Method

1. Add the oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the onions, chilli and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, potatoes and cumin, and 400ml water. Stir well, bring to the boil, and simmer covered for 25 minutes. Add the frozen peas and lemon juice and mix well. When cooked pour the vegetables in a large casserole dish.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C.

3. In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs, vegetable oil and milk together and season.

4. In a large mixing bowl mix all of the remaining topping ingredients together, with the exception of the grated cheese. Add the egg mixture and stir to combine.

5. Cover the vegetables in the dish with the grated cheese and then cover with the topping mixture.

6. Cook for 25 minutes until golden.

7. Serve immediately with fresh bread or a green salad.


Recipe of the Week – 28th November 2016 – Baked Eggs in Corn Sauce


This is a bit of a radical departure for me, in a way, as I have never tried anything like this before, but I will definitely be doing it again! This recipe originates from Chile, and is actually very simple to make with few ingredients, but the end result is very satisfying. I would even consider this for breakfast!

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large free range eggs

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tbs butter

400g frozen or fresh sweetcorn

350ml milk

2 tbs chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and gently sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the sweetcorn and milk, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.

3. When the mixture is beginning to thicken (approx. 10 minutes), add the basil and season. Add the mixture to a large greased oven-proof dish (or individual bowls if you prefer). Make 4 indentations in the mixture and carefully crack an egg in each. Add a few small dots of butter to the top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the eggs white is set but the yolks are still runny.

4. Serve immediately with fresh bread (I also did some paprika-coated baked aubergine slices which went very well with it).

Recipe of the Week – 14th November 2016 – Cajun Bean Suet Casserole

This recipe is a bit of an experiment for me – I fancied doing some weekday comfort food, but with a twist, so the bean casserole I had planned sort of mutated a bit, and this is the result. It’s a combination of a Cajun bean gumbo and a traditional British suet pie. Even though I say so myself, this certainly hit the spot after a cold school-run!

Serves 6

Ingredients 

4 tbs olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 chipotle chilli, pierced (chopped if you want more heat!)

2 courgettes, diced

1 large aubergine, sliced

1 red pepper, diced

100g mushrooms, sliced

1 x 400g can of good quality chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g can each of kidney beans, pinto beans and borlotti beans

1 tbs Cajun spice

200ml vegetable stock from good quality bouillon

1 tbs sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp Demerara sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

50g grated cheddar cheese to top

To make the suet topping;

100g vegetable suet

200g Self Raising flour

Pinch of salt

50g grated cheddar cheese

Method

1. Add the oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 10 minutes then add the chilli, vegetables, stock, spices and tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C.

3. Add the beans and sugar, mix well and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, mix all of the pastry ingredients together, with 10 tbs cold water, knead and roll out to approx 30cm x 15cm.

5. Put the bean mixture in a large casserole dish, top with the pastry and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

6. Serve immediately with potatoes or steamed spinach.

Recipe of the Week – 31st October 2016 (Part 2!) – Alfie’s Roasted Pumpkin Soup


Yes, I know, my blog posts are like buses – nothing for ages then two come along at once! I couldn’t resist putting this recipe on though, and it is timely as it’s Halloween tomorrow. My son Alfie has been growing this pumpkin all Summer and we thought that we would give it a fitting send-off. This soup is a mixture of a number of different recipes, but I think it captures the right blend of texture, spiceness and warmth needed in a pumpkin soup.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 medium pumpkin (roughly 1 kg, and ideally home-grown!), peeled, deseeded and chopped into wedges

1 large onion, peeled and roughly diced

2 clove of garlic, crushed 

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 stick of celery, diced

200g red split lentils

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 tsp sea salt

1200ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

Grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. 

2. In a pestle and mortar, grind the coriander seeds, chilli flakes and sea salt. Add the chopped pumpkin wedges to a large baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, coat with the ground spices, and season. Place in the oven for 50 minutes until lightly brown.

3. Meanwhile, add 3 tbs of the olive oil to a large saucepan and gently saute the celery, carrot, onion and garlic for 10 minutes until soft.

4. In a separate saucepan add the lentils and half the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until soft.

5. Add the cooked pumpkin to the onion mixture along with the cooked lentils and the remaining stock and mix well before blending smooth in a food processor.

6. Serve immediately with a liberal grating of nutmeg and toasted retained pumpkin seeds and basil leaves if desired.

Recipe of the Week – 31st October 2016 – Red Lentil Dhal with Pan-Fried Kale


This recipe is a fantastically warming and satisfying meal now that the evenings are getting colder and darker. This also works really well as a comforting soup, which I have been known to have straight out of a mug!

Serves 6

Ingredients

700g red split lentils, rinsed

4 tbs sunflower oil

2 large onions, sliced

5 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced

300g kale, roughly chopped

3 tbs lemon juice

1 large bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 litre good quality vegetable stock from bouillon 

1 x 400ml can of coconut milk

1 tsp ground turmeric

3 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. In a large saucepan, add the stock to the lentils and bring to the boil before simmering for 20 minutes.

2. In a smaller saucepan gently dry fry the spices for 1 minute before adding the oil, garlic and onions. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the onion mixture to the lentils, stir well, then add the chopped carrots and coconut milk.

4. Meanwhile place the chopped kale in a roasting tray and cook in a preheated oven at 200c for 10 minutes before adding to the dhal mixture.

5. Simmer the mixture for a further 10 minutes. Take off the heat, add the lemon juice and coriander and serve immediately with rice or naan.

Recipe of the Week – 10th October 2016 – Turkish Stuffed Aubergines (Imam Bayildi)


This surprisingly easy recipe is one that I go back to time and again as there is something really satisfying in the combination of sweet and spicy flavours mixed in the peppers and the juicy aubergines themselves. I have refined my previous recipe a little as I’ve found a new mixture of flavours that I like even more.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

3 large aubergines

200 ml extra virgin olive oil

4 large red onions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, sliced

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

3 tbs sugar

3 tsp ground coriander

1 tbs ras-el-hanout

Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Salt and Pepper to season

Method

1. Halve the aubergines then score diagonally 4 or 5 times inside before sprinkling generously with salt. Place aubergines in a colander for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile heat half of the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions, peppers and garlic for 10 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, sugar and spices and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add half of the chopped coriander, stir, season and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190C.

3. Rinse the aubergine halves and place cut side down in a large heavy based frying pan with the remaining olive oil. Fry gently for 5 minutes until golden brown.

4. Place the aubergine halves in a casserole dish and top liberally with the tomato mixture. Cover with tin foil then place in the oven for 30 minutes.

5. Chill for 1 hour before serving, topping with the remaining fresh coriander. Serve with a fresh green salad or rice.

Recipe of the Week – 26th September 2016 – Easy Cheese and Bean Wraps


This is a great recipe for an alternative to sandwiches as a picnic or quick light lunch option. Any beans or different grated vegetables can be used, and I have also tried a vegan variation with grated tofu. My children really like them with a pink mixture of mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce inside, but that’s not for the faint-hearted!

Makes 12

Ingredients

6 large wheat tortilla wraps

100g mature cheddar cheese, grated

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

1 large courgette, grated

1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbs mayonnaise

Small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Large bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and drained

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. In a large bowl, mixture all of the ingredients together (except the spinach leaves). Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to roughly break down the beans. Season to taste.

2. Microwave the wraps together for 1 minute to soften, turning once.

3. Lay a thick sausage of the mixture in each wrap, followed by a scattering of the spinach leaves.

4. Carefully roll each wrap up and halve with a sharp knife.

5. That’s it!