Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes

Ever wanted some inspiration of what to do with all those Sunday dinner leftovers? How about throwing them all together, forming into little patties, coating with egg and breadcrumbs and frying them up? And then serving with any leftover gravy. I would love to take the credit for these tasty cakes of loveliness but I can’t, they were thought up by the ingenious husband of a friend of mine. You know who you are and I thank you! We’ve made them on many a Monday, and I’d go as far to say my kids actually prefer them to their Sunday dinners.

This recipe uses leftovers from a roast pork Sunday lunch and combines diced roast pork (obviously!), apple sauce, mashed potatoes and lots of veggie leftovers (I used carrots, peas and courgettes). They’re equally, if not more delish made with leftover roast beef and a desertspoon of creamed horseradish, or lamb and a little mint sauce…. just throw in whatever you have leftovers off…they’ll undoubtedly be good.

For the coating I used Panko for the first ever time. They’re Japanese breadcrumbs that are particularly light and crispy and make for a wonderfully crunchy coating, available at most Asian stores and bigger supermarkets. If you can’t source use ordinary breadcrumbs (either packet or homemade) or polenta or a 50/50 mixture of the two.

This recipe makes 8 cakes, but make as many as you have leftovers for. They freeze well.

Enough for a family of four:

140g cold roast pork, finely diced

120g cold leftover veggies, finely diced

320g cold leftover potato mash

a tablespoon of apple purée or sauce

black pepper

a heaped tablespoon of plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

4 heaped tablespoons of Panko, breadcrumbs or polenta (or a combination of any of these)

sunflower oil for frying

leftover gravy and apple sauce to serve

Place the diced pork, veggies, mashed potato, apple purée and a grinding of black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly with a spoon. Divide into 8 equal pieces and shape each into a flattened round patty.

Get three flat bottomed bowls. Place the flour in the first, the beaten eggs in the second and the Panko, breadcrumbs or polenta in the third. Now cover each patty first with the flour, then with the egg and finally with the Panko, ensuring that each are evenly coated in them all. This is quite a delicate operation so be gentle or they’ll easily fall apart.

Place in the fridge until you’re ready to use, ideally for at least 30 minutes to give them a chance to firm up a little more.

When you’re ready to cook them pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan to cover it’s base and heat for a few minutes on a medium heat. Carefully place the patties in the pan and fry until golden brown. Turn over and fry the other sides until golden too. This should only take about 5 minutes in total. You may need to do a couple of batches.

Serve immediately with re-heated leftover gravy and some more apple sauce/puree. The wee ones like theirs with baked beans, peas or sweetcorn. Grown ups with a salad.

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Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

My version of Chicken Fried Rice contains eggs and lots of veggies and is a very firm favourite in our house, especially with the wee ones. It’s definitely Jacques’ absolute toptastic favourite dinner, he rarely misses out on a third helping! In fact the first time I made it for him when he was just under a year old I wasn’t sure he was ever going to stop eating. Feel free to omit the chicken and turn this into a tasty veggie dinner, just up the eggs and veggies.

The classic recipe for CFR only includes rice, chicken, egg, onions and peas, but like most things I substantially veg mine up adding pretty much anything that I happen to have in. Today I used half a red pepper, a carrot, a handful of green beans from the freezer and a quarter of a head of broccoli. Peas, courgette, leek, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, sweetcorn, beansproats, mushrooms, spinach, chard and cabbage all work really well too. Cut your veggies to a size appropriate to the smallest eater. I tend to dice mine fairly small as my children are still pretty little, and a small dice also has the added benefit of a perfect disguise for fussy eaters (as my daughter most definitely can be at times!). If you’re cooking for adults or older children cut everything to a much larger grown up size and cook for a few minutes longer.

Classic recipes also only include the flavour addition of soy sauce, but I like to add a little less soy and a large piece of grated ginger and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice (one of my favourite flavours ever). It’s always good to get your kids used to eating different flavours from a young age, I’m sure it helps to make them less fussy later on.

January 2013: This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh. Please check out all the other wonderful entries on the BritMums blog. Although I wrote this post over ten months ago it’s still my two little monsters’ absolute  favourite dinner guaranteed to be gobbled up!

Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

Enough for a hungry family of 4:


220g white rice, preferably jasmine
2 tablespoons of groundnut or sunflower oil
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
a small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
a carrot, diced
1/4 broccoli, cut into small florets (and any larger stem sections diced)
a handful of green beans, sliced
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
a little water
2 free range chicken breasts, cut to a small dice
a teaspoon of Chinese five spice
a teaspoon of sunflower oil
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Start with cooking your rice, cook to packet instructions. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wok or a large deep sided frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and carrot (and any other root or slow to cook veggies that you may be using). Cook for 5 minutes on a very high heat, stirring and turning continuously.

Now add the broccoli, beans, pepper and other veggies that you’ve chosen to use. Also stir in the soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of water. Continue to cook on a high heat for a further five minutes. Keep adding a splash of water when the the liquid evaporates.

Finally add the diced chicken and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice. Stir and cook for a final 5 minutes.

While the chicken’s cooking make your omelette. Heat a teaspoon of sunflower oil in another frying pan. Whisk up the eggs and season with a little salt and pepper. When the pan is hot pour in the eggs, stir a little then leave to firm up on a medium heat. Once the egg is fully cooked through remove the omelette from the pan and cut into small bite sized strips.

Thoroughly mix the chicken and veggies, rice and eggy strips together and serve immediately. Grown up folk might like to add a little extra soy sauce. I’ve served mine today in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls. Oogaa design and sell fabulous and safe feeding products for babies and young children in fun designs and colours. For more information check out the Oogaa website, www.oogaa.com.

How about trying some of my other child friendly recipes? Kid’s Bolognese, Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara, Salmon Fishcakes, Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry or Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese?


My First Feature!


My first ever professional mention comes from the wonderful US parenting site Modern Day Moms who featured my Kids Bolognese recipe I blogged a few weeks ago. Thanks so much!

And thanks too to Sam @ Oogaa for her gorgeous Oogaa bowls and spoons. Oogaa design and sell fabulously fun, safe and colourful silicone baby and young children feeding products. They’re currently on sale in the US and should be hitting UK stores soon too.

Click here to read the Modern Day Mom’s article


Braised Venison in Red Wine & Brandy

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Last week we were very kindly given a couple of haunches of venison from the local chasse (hunters).Talk about local, they might even have been living in our garden. We see them quite often here but only for a split second before they shyly scarper away. Wild deer are extremely timid creatures.

Venison is such a wonderfully lean and incredibly flavoursome meat, I love it. With haunch number one I removed most of the fabulous meat, cut it into 4 cm cubes and left it to marinade for a couple of nights in red wine, brandy, juniper, bay, thyme and plenty of black pepper, before slowly braising in the marinade with carrots, onions, garlic, celery and lardons. The remaining scrags of meat and bone were braised in more red wine and veggies and greedily enjoyed that evening with a pile of buttery mash. Haunch number two is in the freezer awaiting inspiration.

I often use juniper berries as a flavouring with game. For this dish I use them loose as part of the marinade then tie them in a piece of muslin for the cooking, so as to extract maximum flavour without the risk of accidentally eating one which is not a particularly pleasant experience.

Enough for 4 grown ups, or a family of 4 with a few leftovers:
a kilo of venison shoulder, haunch or leg meat, cut into 4cm cubes
400ml of red wine
3 tablespoons of brandy
10 juniper berries
4 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
a large pinch of sea salt
a teaspoon of roughly ground black pepper
a tablespoon of plain flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
200g of lardons or streaky bacon
an onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
400ml of good quality beef stock
a little chopped fresh parsley to serve

Firstly marinade your meat, at least overnight, maybe for two nights if you have the time. Place the venison pieces in a large bowl with the red wine, brandy, juniper berries, thyme (leave the sprigs whole), bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir everything around a little, cover and place in the fridge to marinade.

When it’s time to braise, drain the meat from the marinade, making sure you retain all the lovely liquor. Set aside the marinade and dry the venison on some kitchen roll. Coat the meat in the tablespoon of plain flour. Tie the juniper berries in a small square of muslin if you have any.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish until very hot. Add the meat to the pan and brown on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Once browned remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Lower the heat and add the lardons or streaky bacon, diced onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the same pan. Add a dash more olive oil if there wasn’t much left after cooking the meat. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reintroduce the venison to the pan, along with marinade liquor, herbs and muslin juniper parcel. Bring to a simmer before pouring in the stock.

Bring back to a simmer and allow to cook on a very gentle heat for two to two and a half hours, until the meat is extremely tender. Have a final taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and juniper bundle (if used).

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley over the top. Braised venison is particularly great served with my Boulangere Potatoes (made with thyme) and a simple steamed green veggie.

If you liked this, have you tried my Beef in Guinness, Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce, The Best Chilli on Carne ever, or Coq au Vin recipes?


Moules Frites, Mussels Marinieres & Chips

Mussels are a real treat in our house, though being as cheap as chips and abundant as they are there’s no real reason for this. They also happen to be my husband Philipe’s absolutely most favourite dinner, but only with a simple Mariniere sauce and served with a mound of chips and plenty of fresh bread on the side to soak up all the lovely broth. Plus a little bowl of homemade mayonnaise. Whilst I’m sure our kids would love Moules Frites too, they’re a grown up late night treat in our house to messily and greedily tuck in to when the kids are safely tucked away in bed.

The fiddliest bit of cooking mussels is in preparatory cleaning and de-bearding. It really is worth taking the time to thoroughly clean each individual shell and pull off any hairy ‘beards’, at least if you want to up your chances of avoiding poorly tummies. In doing so discard any broken or open shells. Once this fiddly task is done they’re unbelievably easy and quick to cook.

Traditionally Marinieres sauce is made with shallots, garlic, fresh herbs and white wine. I tend to add a little creme fraiche or double cream to mine, but feel free to omit if you don’t do cream sauces. I love using tarragon with it’s slight note of aniseed, but if you don’t have any to hand it’s just as nice with only parsley.

I cook my own chips to serve with mussels, but as I don’t have a deep fat fryer mine are more healthily baked in the oven. And they really don’t take long to cook either, parboiled for 4 minutes then roasted in a little sunflower oil in a very hot oven for a further 15 to 20.  Barely longer than shop bought oven chips yet so much better, they really are surprisingly good.

Enough for two hungry big people:

For the Moules Mariniere:
a kilo to a kilo and a half of fresh mussels
15g of butter
a tablespoon of olive oil
a shallot, finely chopped
a large clove of garlic, or two small, finely diced
a large glass of white wine
a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
a tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
salt & pepper
4 tablespoons of creme fraiche or double cream

For the Frites:
2 large potatoes, Desiree or other floury ones, peeled
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
salt & pepper

Start with thoroughly cleaning all your mussels, scrubbing the shells and removing their hairy beards. Discard any with broken or open shells. Set aside until you’re ready to cook them.

Preheat your oven to 230°C, or as hot as it will go.

Peel and slice the potatoes into chips, cutting first lengthways into 1cm slices, then into 1cm thick chips. Unfortunately any thinner and they’re a bit too tricky to oven cook. Place the chips in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 4 minutes. Drain well and leave to steam for a couple of minutes.

Carefully empty the parboiled chips out onto a large baking tray and coat them evenly in 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil and a little salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning at least a couple of times during the cooking time. They’re ready when they’re golden and crisp.

About half way through the chip’s cooking time start the Moules Mariniere. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan (one big enough to easily hold all the mussels, and one that has a lid) and gently fry the finely chopped shallot and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly. Add the wine and herbs and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream or creme fraiche (if using) and bring back to a simmer. Tip in the mussels, shake around in the sauce a little and put the lid on. Steam the mussels on a medium heat until most of the shells are open, this should be only about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve the mussels and chips immediately with a pot of mayonnaise and plenty of fresh bread on the side.

If you like this have you tried any of my other fishy recipes, Salmon Fishcakes with Herby Garlicky Mayo, Fish & Chips with Homemade Mayo, Kid’s Fish Pie or Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne?


February in the Garden

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Well we’re now well into March and I’ve just remembered my February update, so here it is. The beginning of February was very cold here, and I mean VERY cold, the coldest the locals have known it! We had lots of snow and ice and the warmest it got at one point for several days was minus 5, with night time temperatures down to minus 16. Now that’s cold. Luckily myself and the ankle biters happened to be in the relative warmer climes of the UK for the worst of it.

My poor veggie patch was a frozen white abyss for most of the month, though luckily thanks to our destroyer chickens, there wasn’t much out there to worry about. Though my broad bean plants seem to be on their way out, they’re a mottling of brown (dead) and green (hope), so we’ll have to see.

At the end of the month when the weather warmed up a good deal, Gilles our trusty neighbour, friend, mayor and tractor owner came along to start rotavating the plot, it’s going to be considerably bigger than last year. He’s coming back again next week to finely rotavate it ready for use. I’m very excited!

Last week I was busy sowing lots of seeds, tomatoes (three sorts, cherry, plum and beef), celery (hoping I have more germination success than last year which was a dissappointing zero), peppers, aubergines, thyme and basil.

 

Philipe bought me a book this week, a guide to planting by the moon, or biodynamics as its known in England. Biodynamics is huge in France and this is the top selling book. In theory I’m going to give it a good go, but I know in practice my time for sowing and planting is limited to any precious snippets I can possibly find, and it won’t always be possible to wait for the moon.

 

That’s it for my Feb round up, not a huge amount of action I’m afraid but March will be a good deal busier. So excited that’s it’s gardening time again!

Until next month,

Louisa

 


Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara

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We seem to eat carbonara way too often in our house these days, it’s my staple no brainer meal-in minutes-supper that we all adore and we’ve almost always got the ingredients in for, especially now we’ve got a ready and usually very abundant supply of eggs!. And what’s not to like about this killer simple combo of pasta, eggs, bacon and cheese?! In an effort to vary our regular dinner I’ve been experimenting with tradition a little lately, by ‘healthying’ up our carbonara’s with various veggies. Mushrooms, courgettes, broccoli, roasted squash and pumpkin all work great. I went one step further this week and bravely ditched the bacon and replaced it with some very good quality toulouse sausage, and together with courgettes we had one very very tasty carbonara variation which I can thoroughly recommend.

I tend not to add any cream to my carbonara, especially since I’ve been using our own deliciously creamy eggs, but feel free to add a little to your eggs if you feel you should. Most dried pasta works well with carbonara but for some reason I usually use penne or fusilli, though I’m sure it’s more traditionally made with spaghetti or tagliatelle.

For a family of four:
a tablespoon of olive oil
300g of good quality sausages
2 courgettes
a large clove of garlic, finely sliced
240g dried pasta
3 free range eggs
3 heaped tablespoons of grated Parmesan plus a little extra for sprinkling
salt and pepper

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan and heat. Cut the sausages into small bite size pieces and place in the pan. Quarter the courgettes lengthways then thinly slice, add to the pan too along with the chopped garlic. Cook on a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches. The sausage should be cooked through and a little browned and courgettes soft.

Meanwhile cook your pasta to packet instructions. Try to time it so your pasta is cooked and ready at exactly the same time as the courgettes and sausages.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and lightly whisk, stir in the cheese, plenty of freshly ground back pepper and a touch of salt.

As soon as the pasta and sausages/courgettes are cooked and still piping hot throw into one pan and immediately add the eggy mix. Stir everything around really well. Don’t put the pan back onto the heat or you’ll have pasta with scrambled eggs, what you’re after is a glossy eggy coating. Taste and add further salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve immediately with a further sprinkling of parmesan.

If you like this how about trying my Pasta & Meatballs, Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne, Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese or Roasted Veggie Lasagne recipes?


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