Sunday, 24 July 2011

What's cooking now

Right now, I am making Beef Oxford.

Here it is!

This is a brisket joint, not stewing steak, however.

Saturday night's Middle Eastern inspired dinner

I realised we had a couple of stray aubergines lurking sadly in the bottom of the fridge and had a notion to make some baba ganoush. Except I don't really know how to make it, and all the recipes I could find online seemed to differ, so I just made one up. We'll call it Gill's Aubergine Dip.

To go with the dip, we had roast vegetables, cous cous, and chicken. Here we go.

For the aubergine dip:
2 smallish aubergines
5 cloves of garlic
Big tablespoon tahini
Juice of half a lemon

For the chicken:
Chicken thighs, chopped and marinated in:
Chopped garlic (to taste)
Bit of olive oil
Some Cinnabar Smoke Blend rub, from the Spice and Tea Exchange

For the cous cous (serves 2-4 depending on what else is on the table)

200g cous cous
450ml chicken stock (ish)
5-6 dried apricots, chopped
small handful of sultanas
small handful toasted pine nuts
chopped parsley

For the roast vegetables:
Red onions
Garlic cloves (whole, but in skin)
Anything else you like!
Olive oil (either a spray or a drizzle, however it comes)
Some Lebanese 7-Spice, to taste

First of all, put the chicken to marinate. I did mine in the morning; we ate this at dinnertime.

Next, make the aubergine dip. Crank your grill up to hottest and put the aubergines under the grill, turning every ten minutes or so. They need to go squidgy; the skin will go all charred and wrinkly. When they are squidgy, remove and let them cool. When they are cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh into a bowl, add all the other ingredients, and have at it with a stick blender (not a dodgy euphemism). Season to taste. Add chili if you like; however you want it :)

Then put the vegetables in - they'll take about half an hour to forty minutes depending on what you're roasting, how much, etc. Just remember to turn them! While the veg are doing, fry off the chicken in a pan til it's golden brown.

Finally, make up the cous cous - it will just take five minutes when you add the stock (and I'll be honest, I just used a boullion cube, it's really not worth the hassle!) and cover the bowl with a tea towel. When the cous cous has sucked up all the liquid, give it a bit of a fluff with a fork.

Serve everything with a salad and, if you need to make things go further, some flatbreads for scooping the dip up with.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Gill's Amazing Mexican Friday Night Feast

First of all...I did not manage to take a photo of this, largely because everyone was so excited that we grabbed everything and put it on the table and ate it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't the nicest thing I've put in my mouth this week, so I shall tell you what we had.

I have a serious thing for Mexican food. I'm going to see friends tomorrow and when asked what we wanted to eat, I said Mexican for that, too. I could literally eat it every day. Anyway yesterday I came across this recipe for black beans on Stephanie O'Dea's website and it made the Mexican lightbulb in my head go off. I ferreted through the cupboard for the bag of dried black beans I had been keeping for emergency and stuck them on to soak. Last night before we went to bed I stuck everything into the slow cooker as per her recipe, with the intention that this morning we would have huevos ranchos with the black beans and a fried egg, but fortunately for us it made a WHOLE lot of beans, so that led to this evening's meal.

I've also been reading Thomasina Miers' Mexican Food Made Easy, which had a recipe for black bean and sweetcorn relish in it, which I didn't have all the ingredients for but which I made a cobbled together version of and which came out amazing.

Finally, I had some amazing barbecue rub from the Spice and Tea Exchange that I bought in Florida, so that was definitely going to get involved somewhere.

I should say that I MADE all this food. I did not EAT it all. There are a lot of leftovers!!

For the chicken:
1 smallish roasting chicken, no giblets
2 tsp Smoked BBQ Rub
Drizzle of olive oil (to help you rub the, er, the rub in)
1 bulb of garlic, sliced through the middle so all the cloves are in half, if that makes sense
1 lemon, sliced in half

For the black beans in the slow cooker:
1 500g bag of dried black beans, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1.5 litres chicken stock
1 can/carton chopped tomatoes

For the rice:
200g basmati rice
450ml chicken stock
1 can kidney beans, drained
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
4-5 spring onions, chopped finely
1 tsp chipotle powder
Any juices from the roast chicken, if you're feeling frisky

For the sweetcorn and black bean relish:
1 large can of sweetcorn - I use the no added sugar/salt variety
1 carton cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
7-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
Sweet hot jalapenos, the kind in the jar, with some of the spicy sweet vinegar
6-7 spring onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, grated
Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

The chicken part is dead easy. Put the oven on 190 degrees, Gas 5. Make a paste with the bbq rub and olive oil, just in the palm of your hands, and rub it all over the chicken, bottom and top. Shove the lemon and garlic up its bum, skewer the spare skin together, and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes per 500g, plus an extra 20, or just until the juices run clear. I like to keep mine covered in foil til the last 15-20 minutes or so.

Likewise, the black beans are dead easy too - just dump everything into the slow cooker and set it to low-medium for about 8 hours. Mind you I did give mine a quick blast on the hob at the end as I like mine really sort of squidgy, but that's a personal preference. They taste great cold as well as hot. Brilliant, we'll be making them again and again.

The rice is a 15-minute job, if that. Just pop everything in together, bring up to the boil, drop down to a simmer and stick the lid on. Keep an eye on things but basically once the rice has sucked up the stock, it's done. If you're not quite ready for the rice, just put a folded clean tea towel over the pot and put the lid back on. Voila, fluffy rice!

Finally, the relish is the easiest of all. Chop it all up, stick in a bowl, mix and eat. Brilliant.

We also had some ready-made super hot salsa, some Cholula sauce and some cottage cheese on the table for dipping, as well as some leafy salad.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Cowboy Stew (inspired by Stephanie O'Dea)

I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but my life is CHAOS. As a result I rely on our slow cooker a lot during the week and have been very much inspired by the lovely Stephanie O'Dea at Crockpot 365, her fab blog which inspired her Make It Fast, Cook It Slow books. One of his favourites has been her Cowboy Stew, which I have had to adapt because of not being able to get all the ingredients here (for example, using regular Heinz baked beans and a package of spicy barbecue seasoning in place of ranch beans, and I still can't bring myself to use canned potatoes - it just freaks me out - so we use fresh ones which steam in the slow cooker).

Anyway this morning for once I've had chance to actually cook it from scratch, so here we go. It's a dish you've probably got MOST of the ingredientsfor in the cupboard or fridge, and it's very forgiving however you cook it. This is my recipe that I followed this morning, cooking it on the hob.

You need

Extra lean turkey breast mince
A couple of slices of smoked bacon, trimmed well
Garlic (just a bit)
1 green chili
2-3 sticks celery
1 can tomatoes
1 can baked beans
1 BIG can sweetcorn
1 package of barbecue seasoning (I admit it: I use Old El Paso, and it does the job FINE)
Courgettes, chopped
Red/orange bell peppers, chopped
Potatoes, cut into bite size pieced. The potatoes, if you are doing this on the hob, you could just boil separately and stir in, or parboil and add to finish them off. It's up to you.

Makes one pot-ful, which for us is enough for dinner x 2 and generous leftovers, so good for lunch the next day or the midnight meal on a night shift..

Very easy, this:

Frazzle the bacon (as much as is possible with no fat, ha ha) and then add the turkey breast, breaking it up as it cooks, and allowing everything to brown thoroughly.

Add the green chili, onion, garlic and celery, cover and allow to sweat down and soften.

Add the bell pepper and courgettes and allow to cook for a few minutes before finally adding the sweetcorn, baked beans, tomatoes and barbecue seasoning. Allow to cook slowly together for as long as you need them to.

Finally, add the potatoes - either cooked, or partially cooked, and allow them to finish in the pot. Serve and enjoy. I like some extra jalapenos or hot sauce on mine.

Look, a rubbish photo!! Ha. It looks very potato heavy but it's because I had cut them up into very small pieces and had just stirred it so they were all on top, so don't be afraid!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Wednesday Night Pasta, with chicken and olives

Chicken thighs
3-4 slices of bacon, all fat removed
1 large onion
3 fat cloves of garlic
1 chili
Green pepper
Courgette(s), depending on size
Canned tomatoes
Tomato puree (don't forget this bit!)
Black olives, chopped
Chicken stock cube
Pinch of oregano

First, add the chopped up bacon into the pan and cook hard, until it's frazzled and crispy. Add the chicken at this point and continue to cook until the chicken is browned all over. While that's doing, prepare your veg. When the chicken is browned, add the garlic and onions and allow to soften before adding the olives and chili. Give it all about five minutes before adding the mushrooms, courgettes and pepper; put the lid on and allow everything to cook down. Finally, add the tomato, tomato puree, black pepper, stock cube, basil and oregano, turn it down and let it cook gently.

Serve with pasta and a salad!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Bacon and egg fried rice (a la my mom)

You will need:

Cooked, cold rice
Eggs, beaten
Bacon, chopped up small
Spring onions, sliced
Soy sauce
Big handful of frozen peas

In a non-stick pan, using a bit of oil, frazzle the bacon til it's crispy. Add the eggs and cook until they're almost set, and then add the rice, moving it around constantly so it doesn't stick. Add the frozen peas, onion and soy sauce to taste, ensure that everything is heated through properly, and eat!

You can add whatever vegetables you like in; it's good with mushrooms.