Tag Archives: Carrots

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?


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?


Beef in Guinness

This is about as winter warming and comforting as food can be, and just perfect for all the snowy weather we’re all getting at the minute! I made this last weekend when it was minus 9 outside and in the midst of a snow storm!. I didn’t actually set foot outside all day. We all tucked in and devoured it with fervour.

Strangely enough the first time I ever cooked beef in Guinness, or black beer, was in the semi tropics of Bolivia. Staying in a picturesque mountain side hut overlooking the Andies with my friend Enda we made the most of having our very own outdoor kitchen for a few days and cooked up some triumphs with great local produce from the village a steep 3km trek away. Not only did the village have fresh homemade pasta for sale (this is extremely rural South America, not Italy, we’re talking about!), but we managed to find some very novel in those parts black beer (and some pretty good local red plonk to boot too!). And as the beef looked particularly scraggy and distinctly unappetising I figured the best treatment for it was to stew it up for a few hours in the beer. And what a result, I remember it being the best meal we’d had in weeks. Admittedly not the best choice of dinner to be eating in 35 degrees of heat but nevertheless it tasted damned good at the time. Happy happy memories!

Our wonderful outdoor kitchen

The view from the upstairs sleep deck, that's the bottom of my sleeping bag!

Anyway, I digress! Here’s a considerably more refined recipe for Beef in Guinness cooked with winter veggies and pearl barley. I used some pumpkin in mine which melted beautifully into the gravy, but I’ve usually used swede or parsnips in the past, even some turnip, but more often than not a mixture of what I happen to have in. These root veggies hold their shape a good deal better than my pumpkin.

For a family of four:

800g of braising steak

2 tbsps of plain flour

salt & pepper

olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, sliced (a little thicker than a pound coin)

2 sticks of celery, sliced

500g of pumpkin/squash/swede/parsnips/turnips or a mix of a few of these. Peeled and cut into a 2 cm dice

2 tbsps of tomato puree

750ml of Guinness – equates to 1 and a half cans (some unfortunate person gets to finish the can!)

500ml of beef stock

4 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

125g of pearl barley

Place the 2 tablespoons of flour in a large bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Cut the beef into 3 to 4 cm chunks and roll around in the flour until evenly coated.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole or saucepan and brown the beef off on a medium heat. Turn the meat every few minutes until all sides are browned. Once browned remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Into the same pan add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. If there’s not much fat left from the beef add another tablespoon of olive oil. Continue to cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring everything regularly so nothing catches.

Add the browned beef to the pan along your chosen veggies and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree. Give everything a good stir then add the Guinness, beef stock, bay leaves and thyme. You can leave the thyme sprigs whole, and remove the empty stalks at the end of cooking just as you would the bay leaves (far less fiddly than removing the leaves I find). Last but not least stir in the pearl barley.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 2 hours with the lid on. Stir periodically so as to ensure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. The stew is ready when the beef is very very tender.

Serve with oodles of mash and the rest of the Guinness, or like myself a large glass of vin rouge.

Have you tried my other winter warming recipes? How about my Sausage & Bean Stew or Comfort Cottage Pie,


A Simple Chicken Stew

Hoping you all had a wonderful christmas with lots of tasty fodder, and wishing a very happy and prosperous 2012!. My apologies for over three weeks absence from the blog, but Chez Foti all went to England for Christmas and although it was my best of intentions to continue blogging, time was most definitely short….and the laptop I intended to use was festively soaked in rather too much vin rouge (luckily it’s now made a full and dried out recovery).

To kick off the New Year I’m blogging my very simple, and not to mention very healthy, Chicken Stew recipe. I tend to make this with the kids in mind, though more often than not it’s our family supper too. Any leftovers get put into small portion sized tupperware pots and frozen for a later convenience dinner for the wee ones.

You can add lots of different veggies to the stew, depending on what’s in season or what you have lurking. Today I used cauliflower, carrots, some pumpkin and a few green beans from the freezer. Peppers, squash, mushrooms, swede, parsnips, sweet potato, cabbage, peas, spinach etc are all great additions. This stew’s a lovely way to fill up those wee little tummies with an abundance of good veg.

Enough for 8 children’s portions or a family of 4:

3 whole chicken legs, skin removed

olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 sticks of celery, sliced

500g of other veggies, cut into appropriate sized pieces

a large glass of white wine (optional)

a heaped tbsp of tomato puree

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme (optional)

500ml of chicken stock

black pepper

Add a good glug of olive oil to a large saucepan or casserole and place on the heat. Add the chicken legs and fry on  both sides until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry for a few minutes until softened, adding a little extra olive oil if necessary. Now add the carrots and celery and all the other veggies, though if you’re using less robust veggies like cabbage, spinach or peas add these towards the end of the cooking process. Cook all the veggies for a few minutes, stirring regularly.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with the white wine if using, the tomato puree, the bay leaves and thyme (if using). Pour in the chicken stock and add a good grind of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and cover and simmer gently for one hour, until the chicken is falling off the bone and the veggies are very tender.

Remove the chicken from the bone and return the meat to the stew.

Serve with a big pile of fluffy buttery mash.


Sausage & Bean Stew

It’s been a bit cold here as winter finally settles in, and I’ve had my usual annual hankering for warming stews and casseroles. With only a few sausages in the fridge a couple of days ago and fancying something substantial and flavoursome I put together this sausage and bean stew, and it really was lovely. In fact one of the tastiest dinners I’ve had in a while! And so very easy and quick to put together. Fresh rosemary aside (though I’m lucky enough to have it growing in abundance at Chez Foti), it’s made from standard store cupboard ingredients. You could obviously use dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked for an hour and a half, but as this was a fairly last minute dinner I used a few trusty tins.

A hearty and on the whole pretty healthy dinner for the whole family, but if your wee ones don’t like any heat omit the chilli flakes.

Enough for 4 hungry grown ups:

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

a pinch of dried chilli flakes

6 – 8 Toulouse Sausages, each cut into 4 pieces

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

3 x 400g tins of Cannellini beans, drained

2 very large handfuls of spinach/chard/savoy cabbage, washed and finely shredded

salt & pepper

Heat a glug of olive oil in casserole or very large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until softened a little. Add the chilli flakes, sausages and rosemary and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and a little seasoning. Bring to a simmer and gently cook for 20 minutes. Now add the beans and spinach/chard/cabbage to the party and cook for a further 20 minutes with the lid on.

Adjust the seasoning to suit. And it really is as easy as that! Serve in a bowl with a large hunk of bread.


My Great-Granny’s Christmas Pudding!

Yipppppeeee!  It’s the second day of December, the advent calendars are up (and choccies gobbled), decs soon to be up, the kids are excited beyond belief, and father christmas will be coming down that chimney before I can even spare a thought for sending my chrissie cards…as usual!

And it’s time to get cracking with the christmas puds. If you’ve never made one before I urge you to, they really are very easy. And this recipe, that’s been passed through several generations of my mum’s family, is honestly the best christmas pudding I have ever EVER eaten. We’re not sure quite how old it is, but it was certainly the recipe that my Granny and Great-Granny always used, albeit with a little tweaking here and there over the years. My mum’s highly successful tweaking omitted the suet, nor indeed any fat at all, and the result is a much lighter and less cloying, though somehow more delicious pud. And the secret un-tweaked ingredients that make this pud so extra special? Carrots and potatoes! Would you believe? But it really really works!

In writing this post I am also entering the ‘Christmas Carrot Competition’ organised by lovethegarden.com and the brilliant award winning food blogger eatlikeagirl.com to find the most creative and scrumptious carrot recipe. I think you’ll agree you can’t get much more creative with a carrot than the traditional Christmas pudding, my Great-Granny should be proud of herself!

To make 2 medium sized puddings (2 x 2 pint basins, each serving 6 people):

225g mixed dried fruit

225g sultanas

225g potato, finely grated

225g carrots, finely grated

225g breadcrumbs

225g soft brown sugar

115g currants

115g dried apricots, chopped

85g glace cherries, quartered

55g almonds, chopped

a little grated nutmeg

½tsp cinnamon

Place all of the ingredients in a very large bowl and mix thoroughly. The best way to do this is to get right in there and mix with your hands.

Butter your pudding basins and add the mixture evenly. Press it down a little, the puddings should come to about ½ inch from the top of the basin. Place a circle of greaseproof paper on top of the mixture within the basin.  Cover the entire basin and part way down the sides with a couple of layers of foil, tie some string tightly around the sides of the basin to secure in place.

Place each pudding in a large saucepan (you must have a lid for it). The pudding should NOT be tight fitting and there should be ample space around the sides. Poor in boiling water until the level reaches ¾ of the height of the basin. Place on the hob with the lid on and bring back to the boil and simmer gently for 5 hours. As the water level in the pan drops top up with boiling water, you will probably have to do this 3 or 4 times. After 5 hours take off the heat and leave to cool in the pan.

The pudding will now keep for up to a month in the fridge or a year in the freezer. Please note that these puddings don’t keep for lengthy periods in the fridge in the same way as puddings that contain preserving suet do.

When you want to eat your pud, boil for one hour in the same way as above. Turn out of the basin and serve!


Comfort Cottage Pie

The weather’s suddenly turning a little colder here, you can see the snow on the Pyrenees and we’re lighting fires most days – no central heating @ Chez Foti:-(. So it’s time to bring on the cold weather food. Yipppppeeee.  It’s a close call but I’m reckoning I love all those winter warming slow cooked stews, casseroles, roasts and pies more than summer food.  They reach out and give you a big foodie hug just when you need one. And rich comforting cottage pie, done right with a bit of care and attention, is my winter food heaven.  Love it, the kids love it, everyone loves it don’t they?

Normally when I’m making meaty sauces or bases I bulk out the meat with lots of veggies, but there’s something about keeping a cottage pie intensely beefy and simple, refraining to mess too much. My one veggie addition though is the humble parsnip. Added to the potato topping with a little horseradish, you get a little sweet kick, that’s oh so lovely against the beef.  And horseradish and beef are obviously a match made in foodie heaven!

Enough for 4 adults, (or like us, enough for a family of 4, with portions left over for the kids to eat the next day):

olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 small carrots, finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

600g good quality lean beef mince (preferably from a butcher who can mince the meat in front of you)

1 heaped tbsp plain flour

1 large glass of red wine

1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree

500ml beef stock

1 tsp of worcester sauce

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs of thyme

salt & pepper

For the topping:

620g potatoes, peeled and chopped

350g parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 tsp cream horseradish

70g butter

50ml milk

salt & pepper

In a large saucepan heat a good glug of olive oil and add the onion, carrots and celery.  Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring regularly.

Turn up the heat and add the beef.  Cook for about 5 minutes until browned.

Add the red wine, turn down the heat a little and cook until the wine has nearly all evaporated. Add the flour, stir briskly then immediately add the tomato puree, beef stock, bay leaves, thyme, worcester sauce and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6, and make your potato topping.

In a large pan of boiling water boil the potatoes and parsnips until soft. Drain and allow them to steam  and dry out for a few minutes. Mash with the butter, milk and horseradish.  Season to taste.

Place the beef in an openproof dish (remembering to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs).  Spoon on the mash. I like to shape my mash with the back of a fork, as that’s what my mum’s always done.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden on the top (and if it’s not you can always pop it under the grill for a few minutes).

Serve piping hot with a nice green veg on the side.  We had ours with steamed home grown broccoli. Enjoy your winter warming food hug!  Here’s Jacques getting down to a bit of serious eating with his Oogaa bowl and train spoon:


Coq au Vin

I thought it was about time I actually put a French recipe on here and you can’t get much more peasant classic French than good old Coq au Vin. Absolutely divine and divinely easy to make.  It’s one of my standard dinners when we have lots of people staying, as it’s easy to make in large quantities and can be made in advance and re-heated when needed. In fact it’s even better made a day or two before.  With two small children I simply don’t have the time to be preparing dinner late afternoon or early evening and instead rely on cooking in their post-lunch nap time or once they’ve gone to bed after about 7 or 8.  Which is obviously fairly limiting on a number of lovely dinners I could be making, but makes anything stewed, slow cooked or casseroled my best friend these days.

I use pretty rough, and cheap, red wine for this as it does call for quite a lot. Here in France I use the wine I buy for a Euro a litre from the local market (which is surprisingly very quaffable). I rarely use anything too special in cooking as I personally can’t tell the difference.

For 4 adults:

4 whole chicken legs, skin on, preferably free range

1 litre of red wine

4 sprigs of thyme

4 bay leaves

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely diced

2 stick of celery, finely sliced

180g lardons or streaky bacon (if bacon, cut into small pieces)

250g mushrooms, preferably smallish ones left whole – if large halved or quartered

10 shallots, peeled and cut into half

500 ml chicken stock

Firstly marinade your chicken by placing the chicken legs, wine, bay leaves, thyme and some salt and pepper in a non-metalic bowl. Preferably leave to marinade overnight, or at least for a few hours, in the fridge.

Once marinaded, take out the chicken and dry on some kitchen paper, reserving the marinade for later use.  Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole and fry the chicken on both sides until slightly golden. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Now add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan.  Cook for about 10 minutes on a gentle heat until softened slightly .  Add the chicken to the pan again, along with wine marinade.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or so without a lid, until the wine is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add the lardons or bacon, mushrooms and shallots.  Fry for about 10 minutes until the onions and mushrooms are softened and the lardons slightly browned.

Once the wine has reduced add the cooked lardons, mushrooms and shallots to the chicken pan, along with the stock. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 30 to 40 minutes with the lid on.  The chicken should be falling off the bone.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

This is lovely served with a mound of buttery mashed potato and a nice steamed green vegetable, plus a hunk of bread to soak up the lovely juices. And it should go without saying a large glass of vin rouge!

Enjoy!


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