Tag Archives: Chilli

Chicken Satay Sticks

Chicken Satay

Jacques tucking into his ‘chicken lollipops’ with zeal

I’ve been meaning to make satay sticks for the kids for so long now, and it’s taken me to host the Four Seasons Food barbecue event to actually get around to it. And predictably they were a huge hit. With both the littlies and myself, plus some friends I also trialled them out on with an additional chilli kick. It’s funny how food on sticks is always so appealing? And now, predictably also, I’m wondering why oh why it took me so long! Prepped in minutes, left to marinade for a few hours then barbied or grilled in a flash.

PAC_Logo_L-300x300Having travelled extensively in SE Asia in my twenties I must have gobbled my way through an inordinate amount of pork and chicken satay sticks through Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, each with their national and regional twists. Always an exceptionally tasty, cheap and highly addictive street food snack on the hoof.

Pig A Chic @ FBC5

Pig A Chic @ FBC5

I was recently reminded and inspired of the wonders of satay by the highly authentic Pig A Chic who were dishing out Thai satay sticks and papaya salad (plus a range of hot sauces) a plenty to hungry delegates all weekend at Food Blogger Connect. If you get a chance to sample their food then you really MUST, please do check out their site at www.pigachic.com or follow them on Twitter @Pigachic.

Even Little Miss F LOVED them, devouring three!

Even Little Miss F LOVED them, devouring three!

Now on to my own considerably less authentic but nevertheless pretty tasty Satay Sticks. I made them first minus any chilli with the kids in mind and the ‘chicken lollipops’ proved very popular. I think Jacques managed five and Little Miss F three. And served with barbecued Halloumi & Roasted Veggie Kebabs and a Child-Friendly Salad that was an impressive eat. Yes, salad….I’ve FINALLY found a salad they’ll eat, but more on that in a later post. Whilst the chilli-less ones were fragrantly tasty I have to admit to personally preferring my grown-up version with a couple of finely minced hot chillies thrown into the marinade mix.

Naturally I shall be entering my post to this month’s Four Seasons fsf-summerFood, hosted by myself and with the seasonal theme of Barbecues and Barbecue Side DishesAnd if you have your own barbecue dish then please do join in, there’s even a prize this month of the Pitt Cue Co Cookbook.

Chicken Satay Sticks

Chicken Satay Sticks

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Appetisers, Starters, Mains, Barbecues (or Grilling)

Special Equipment: Pre-soaked bamboo skewers or metal skewers

Notes: How about substituting the chicken for pork or tofu?

3 free range chicken breasts

2 heaped tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

2 tablespoons thick coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 dessertspoon Thai fish sauce

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 heaped teaspoon soft brown sugar

1 – 2 hot chillies, finely minced (optional)

1. Flatten the chicken breasts a little. I usually bash mine with a rolling pin on a chopping board. Pretty therapeutic actually. Cut the flattened chicken into narrow long strips, about six per breast.

2. Combine all the other ingredients in a medium sized bowl to make the marinade.

3. Stir the chicken strips into the marinade. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two. Or even over night.

4. Cut in half and soak your bamboo skewers (if using) in water for 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook.

5. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers.

6. Heat up your barbecue or grill. When very hot cook the chicken on each side for 5 minutes until a little charred and cooked through. Serve immediately.

Chicken Satay Sticks

My grown-up chillied version served up as part of a Tapas night with the gals. Inclusive of sangria.

You might also like:

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Blue Cheese Burgers

Blue Cheese Barbecue Burgers

Advertisements

PSB Pasta!

PSB Pasta

Following on from the PSB Tart this is my go-to Mid-Week Supper. High on the flavour stakes, quick to put together, deeply satisfying and a great way to use up an umteen amount of PSB. And a dish I’ve been dreaming of all winter eagerly anticipating the glutinous arrival of my homegrown Purple Sprouting Broccoli!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The pairing of PSB and anchovies is a flavour combination I confess to having become more than a tad addicted to, but then I am a BIG anchovy fan and just don’t get people that aren’t. The duo here are also paired with an overtly generous amount of garlic, chilli and good olive oil, run through interesting egg pasta and topped with anchovy infused crunchy croutons and plenty of Parmesan. This is a dish that really gets my juices going, and certainly not one for the faint hearted!. Nor a dish for the littlies, sadly it’s way too salty and hot for little tums. But then it’s nice to have a grown up dinner sometimes isn’t it? If you’re wanting something more child-friendly then PSB works wonderfully in Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne – my kids adore this for their dinner.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Simple and in SeasonNow for the bloggie challenges!. First up Simple and in Season, this month hosted by Ren herself at Fabulicious Food, as without a doubt my PSB is in season. pasta pleaseSecondly to Pasta Please as this month’s theme so happens to be Chillies (I just hope I qualify with the anchovies?), the event is the baby of Jac of Tinned Tomatoes and is being hosted by Allotment to Kitchen this month. And finally as this is a pretty frugal munch Credit-Crunch-Munchto Credit Crunch Munch, an event co-hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and this month by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta Recipe

Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta

Great for Mid-Week Suppers, Bigger Kids and Grown Ups, Vegetarians (those that eat anchovies anyway!), Anchovy Obsessives

Serves 2:

For the Pasta:

160g of good quality Egg Pasta, dried or fresh

200g of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, washed

2 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

1 – 2 Red Chillies, depending on how much heat you like, finely sliced

6 Anchovy fillets (preserved in oil or salt)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Pepper

Parmesan to serve

For the Croutons:

50g of stale Bread, diced into 1cm cubes

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 Anchovy fillets

Pepper

Cook your pasta to packet instructions.

Meanwhile prep and steam the PSB. Slice the tougher ends into inch long strips, leaving a generous couple of inches for the delicate purple florets. Steam over boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until almost tender. Set aside.

Place the garlic, chilli, anchovy fillets, olive oil and a generous pinch or two of black pepper in a large saucepan. Heat on a low temperature, stirring often. Once the anchovies have disintegrated into the oil tip in the steamed PSB. Give everything a good stir and continue to cook on a gentle heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the PSB is fully tender.

Now for the croutons. Heat the oil with the anchovies and a generous pinch of pepper on a medium heat until the anchovies have disintegrated. Throw in the bread cubes and toss in the hot oil. Fry the bread on all sides until golden and crunchy.

Once everything’s cooked combine the PSB with the pasta and a couple of tablespoons of set aside pasta water. Serve in large bowls and scatter over the croutons. Liberally grate over some fresh Parmesan. Heaven.

You might also like:

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Spaghetti Puttanesca


A Couple of Winter Crostini – Lovely (Cannellini) Beans and Green Olive Tapenade

Winter Crostini

Now I’m a big fan of pre-dinner nibbles in the form of Bruschetta or Crostini or whatever you care to name them, but for some odd reason I tend to favour such appetisers more in the summer months. Eaten as the sun goes down alongside a glass or two of white . They’re usually assembled to use up an glut of tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines or peppers from the garden (my Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta being a bit of a favourite). Which got me thinking, there really must be some excellent store cupboard toppings that would be equally as fabulous in the depths of winter with a glass of red.

The Lovely (Cannellini) Beans topping I’ve made many a time before, but not for many years now. It’s simply a heady mix of Garlic, Fresh Chili, Fresh Rosemary and lots of good Olive Oil roughly mashed into canned or soaked and pre-cooked warm Cannellini Beans. Quick and easy, but very substantial in the flavour department!. A posh beans on toast. The Green Olive Tapenade is a newbie on me – I put it together to clear out the three half eaten tins of green olives that were lurking in my fridge – and part followed a multitude of internet recipes. And with pretty tasty and zingy results. An extremely flavourful mix of Green Olives, Olive Oil, Capers, Anchovies, Fresh Chili, Lemon Zest and Juice, Garlic and Fresh Parsley.

Both are great just on toast or pitta bread, ‘poshed up’ on Crostini or Bruschetta or served as a dip with raw veggies and breadsticks. The Tapenade is also sublime stirred through hot pasta or as a topping for tarts (see A Couple of Tomato Tarts) or pizza and even slathered onto bread for a sandwich. And probably lots more amazingly tasty treats that I haven’t thought of!.

herbsonsaturdaySince herbs feature fairly highly in both these toppings I’m entering my blog to Karen of Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday bloggie challenge. And also to Javelin Warriors Made with Love Mondays as both my Crostini toppings are made with lots of homemade love!

Made with Love Mondays

Lovely Cannellini Beans

Lovely (Cannellini) Beans!

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though my toddler Jacques adores these beans on toast!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians

2 tablespoons of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus a little more for drizzling)

½ to 1 Red Chili, finely sliced (use less or none at all if you’re heat adverse)

2 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

a 400g tin of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed OR the equivalent in soaked and home-cooked beans (I tend to cook up large batches and use them in various recipes)

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh Rosemary leaves

1 – 2 teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the garlic and chili and fry for a few moments. Once you get a garlic aroma (but before it browns) quickly stir in your beans and rosemary together with a teaspoon of the red wine vinegar and very generous pinches each of coarsely ground black pepper and salt.

Keep the pan on the heat and allow the beans to warm through and the flavours to infuse. Once hot, remove from the hob and mash the beans a potato masher. I like a fairly rustic texture so don’t go too wild on the mashing, a few whole beans here and there are perfect.

Have a taste, adding more salt, pepper and red wine vinegar to suit. I don’t normally advise this but you may need to add a fair whack of salt to do the beans justice.

Serve warm on Crostini or Bruschetta with a naughty additional drizzle of olive oil. With a glass of red. Obviously.

Green Olive Tapenade

Green Olive Tapenade

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians (if they eat anchovies that is)

200g of pitted Green Olives

a heaped dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

3 Anchovy Fillets (canned in oil)

½ a Red Chili, sliced

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh Parsley

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

Zest of ½ a Lemon plus a couple of generous squeezes of Juice

a generously large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

50 ml of Olive Oil

No cooking required here. Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have your desired texture. Again, I quite like a fairly rustic texture here so don’t go too crazy on the blitzing. Or you could whiz with a stick blender in a deep sided dish. Taste and add more lemon and pepper if you wish; it’s unlikely you’ll need any salt.

Crostini

For the Crostini

These really are a cinch to make and well worth the effort if you have friends over for a nibble, especially as they can handily be made a few hours in advance.

a Baguette, or part of a Baguette, preferably stale

Olive Oil

a clove or two of Garlic, peeled and halved, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Simply slice a baguette, stale if possible, into thinnish rounds of ½ to ¾cm thickness. Slice across the baguette for smaller and more delicate crostini or diagonally for a more generous two to three bite-fulls – my personal preference! Cut as many slices as you think you may need, plus a few more just in case.

Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, rubbing one side with the cut side of half a garlic clove. I sometimes rub garlic in, sometimes I don’t, depending on how much the toppings already have in (and mine invariably have quite a bit in!). Place on a baking tray.

Place in the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes, turning half way through. They should be golden and crispy when done. How long they take will depend on their thickness and how stale the bread was to start with – stale obviously being quicker to ‘crisp’ up.

Set aside to cool. They can be made a few hours in advance. Top with either of the above toppings, or anything else you so care to eat!.

You might also like: 

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!

The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!


Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

We do eat quite a few pizzas at Chez Foti, probably too many. Well about once a week if the truth be known. But in my defense they are always homemade. And I’m not being a ponsey foodie by saying that. Believe me I’ve absolutely nothing against good quality take away pizza, but we do live in distinctly rural SW France and without wanting to be too rude, the quality of the take away pizzas in these parts is considerably below par. Bordering inedible. Which is a shame as the only two fast food joints in a 25 km radius both happen to be pizza take aways!. And once or twice bitten I won’t be going back. Just don’t get me started on the supermarket offerings either. Think 80s Britain, say no more. Hence I’ve become a bit of geek at homemade pizza ….. and homemade Thai/Chinese/Indian to boot!. And we do happen to have an original bread oven in our lounge that bakes the most perfect pizzas.

I love playing around with inventing toppings and this recipe so happens to be one of my favourites of the moment. Think Puttanesca Sauce but on a pizza. Puttanesca, in case you didn’t know, is a tomato based sauce revved up with oodles of garlic, anchovies, capers, chilli and olives. And it’s sublime on a pizza with the addition of Mozzarella and a little Parmesan. Pizza simplicity at it’s best.

Pizza Puttanesca

Made with Love Mondays

I’m also delighted to be entering, for the first ever time, my Pizza Puttanesca to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays, a weekly series promoting, sharing and celebrating foods made entirely from scratch. Foods without any of the nasties and all the good stuff!.

Pizza Puttanesca

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I usually stick to this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

a Red Chili (or go wild with 2 if you like your heat), finely sliced

4 Anchovy Fillets in oil

a 400g can of good quality Chopped Tomatoes or 450g of ripe and flavoursome Fresh Tomatoes (I’m still using up my frozen stock from The Great Chez Foti Tomato Harvest!)

a very large pinch of Black Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

a dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

40g of stoned Black Olives, halved

80g of Mozzarella cheese, finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a few moments  until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a very generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

The sauce is ready when it’s considerably thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the puttanesca sauce evenly over the base. Place the halved olives and slices of mozzarella. Scatter over the parmesan or grana padano.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

Pizza Puttanesca

You might also like: 

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza            Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Jacques mushroom picking

 


Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Unfortunately there’s been a distinct lack of blogging action of late and way too many nasty germs floating around at Chez Foti. Viruses, bugs and colds a plenty but I’m keeping everything crossed the family’s all better by the end of the weekend. Even Dotty the pup was rushed to the emergency vets with a life threatening tick bite. Yes really!. Without the hefty injection and drugs he gave her she wouldn’t have made it much more than another 12 hours apparently. Luckily I myself have managed to escape the worst of all this sickness, bar the usual night nurse sleep deprivation and requirement to watch round the clock CBeebies anyway.

This was our first stew of the winter. A gloriously warming, boldly flavoured and slightly sticky stew of Chicken, Pumpkin and Borlotti Beans. The ingredients are loosely based on a Leon recipe I made a few times last year, but I’ve chopped and changed everything around quite a bit from the original here. The kids both loved it, and as Jacques’s going through a particularly fussy stage these days I was delighted that he devoured his bowl. Flavoured with plenty of rosemary, red wine vinegar, a little chilli, garlic and honey, what’s not to like?

Move over Ratatouille!

My official wee taste tester, move over Ratatouille!

I used my homegrown borlotti for the first time in the stew and was very happy with the results. Whilst the yield from the plants was more than a little disappointing the small harvest I have will allow for three or four more hearty family meals over the winter. I think I’m going to give them another whirl next year, even for the gorgeous pods alone:

My ever-so-pretty Borlotti Beans, when fresh the pods look like the beautiful one on the right, when dried out and ready to pick like the one on the left

Try to marinade the chicken the night before, or at least a few hours, to boost the wonderful flavours. I served it for the kids with mash as they love their mash, and for us with couscous. The latter being a little hit and miss with the littlies these days and thus unworthy of the rejection risk!.

If you don’t have any flavoursome pumpkin it can happily be substituted with a tasty squash.

I’m entering this blog to November’s Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday recipe challenge, this month hosted by Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes.

herbsonsaturday

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Just Grown Ups

Serves 4

For the Marinade:

2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard

a tablespoon of honey

a tablespoon of olive oil

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

a fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced (less for kids or those adverse, if they don’t like a little heat)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a generous pinch of black pepper

4 free range chicken thighs, skin removed

For the Stew:

a large onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

500g of flavoursome pumpkin or squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks

400g can of chopped tomatoes

400g can of borlotti beans, drained, or 125g of soaked and pre-cooked dried beans

500ml of chicken stock

Place all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and combine, then thoroughly rub into the chicken thighs. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Once marinated remove the chicken from the bowl and set aside the lovely marinade which you’ll use later. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large casserole or heavy based pan. Fry the chicken until golden on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the same pan. Fry for 5 minutes before adding the carrots and pumpkin. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes before throwing in the rest of the marinade, chicken thighs, chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans and stock.

Give everything a good stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to slowly simmer for an hour. Et voila, one big pot of healthy loveliness!. Taste and season to suit and serve.

You might also like:

Chicken & Apricot Tagine: Boeuf en Daube

Chicken & Apricot Tagine with CouscousBeef in Daube recipe


Spaghetti alla Puttanesca with fresh Tomatoes

Ordinarily this a wintry mid-week supper favourite at Chez Foti; a handy and quick store-cupboard dinner using tinned tomatoes. But with so many fresh tommies to hand it’s been made numerous times over the summer in my efforts to use up some of the glut. And it’s good, so much the better to be made with perfectly ripe, flavoursome, sweet and in-season tomatoes. You won’t be disappointed.

A bit of an Italian classic, Puttanesca is a heady mix of tomatoes, anchovies, capers, garlic, chili and olives. In Italian it literally translates as ‘whore’s spaghetti! Lovely. And it is. If you’ve never tried or made it you should. Deliciously simple.

I have no problem with using the tomato skin or seeds in recipes like this, but purists would balk. It’s up to you. If you want to remove the skins immerse the tommies in boiling water for 30 to 40 seconds then in a bowl of really cold water, they’ll then slip off easily. I use my plum tomatoes (which are the best for cooking with) for this sauce, but any very ripe, sweet tomatoes will be wonderful.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca 

Enough for 2 grown up folk (with hearty appetites!):

2 tablespoons of olive oil

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

a red chili, finely chopped (or less if you’re adverse to too much heat!)

4 anchovy fillets

450g of fresh chopped tomatoes or a 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes

a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of sugar

60g of stoned black olives

a dessertspoon of capers, rinsed

250g of spaghetti

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a couple of minutes until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti to packet instructions.

The sauce is ready when it’s thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the olives and capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies and capers so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Run the sauce through the spaghetti and serve immediately.

Here’s some other quickie mid-week supper ideas: Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Garden Pasta, Cheese, Courgette & Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding, One Pot Ratatouille, Tomato Tarts, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow, Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto, Noodles with Pork & Veggies


Super Vegged-Up Chilli

Toddlers & Young Children, Big Kids, Grown Ups.

I haven’t made a Chilli con Carne in ages and thought it was about time. I usually make mine with big chunks of braising beef marinaded in cumin, coriander, chilli and cinnamon following one of my favourite ever Leon recipes (The Best Chilli con Carne ever!). But this time I thought I’d go a bit more 80s retro and make something more suitable for the wee ones using good quality mince but with a super-vegging Chez Foti overthrow!. These days I seem unable to make too much without throwing in a barrage of veg, as you’ve probably noticed. As my son becomes increasingly fussy about eating his plain veggies I’m becoming increasingly cunning in my vegged up disguises! Ha, you will eat your 5-a-day my boy.

As for your choice of veggies, you can pretty much add anything you happen to have in, though I like to go with tradition on the carrots and pepper. I threw in some frozen chopped french beans (I’m trying to clear out the freezer before this year’s glut starts) and a couple of large handfuls of swiss chard from the garden. If cooking for kids go easy on the chilli. I use just ½ a teaspoon of hot chilli powder, though personally I’d like a little more heat so feel free to bump it up if you’re a chilli fiend.

Use good quality lean beef mince here, preferably some that you’ve seen the butcher mince in front of you. It really does make a difference.

This makes quite a vat of chilli, but keeps very well in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen. The first night we ate it with rice and the second in wraps with grated cheese, sour cream, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and avocados (again very 80s retro tex-mex, but nevertheless pretty darned tasty!).

Enough for 4 to 6 grown up folk, depending on greed!. Or two family dinners. 

3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

2 onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely diced

a red pepper, diced

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

a heaped teaspoon of cinnamon

a pinch of salt

a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

½ to 2 teaspoons of hot chilli powder (depending on who you’re cooking for!)

500g of good quality lean minced beef

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons of cocoa powder

a handful of french beans or any other veg you so happen to have in

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

a couple of very large handfuls of spinach or chard, finely shredded

Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Throw in the onions, garlic, carrots and pepper (or any other hard veg you want to use) and cook for about ten minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, chilli powder, salt & pepper and cook for a couple of minutes whilst continuously stirring. Add the beef and allow to brown, stirring every now and again.

Once the beef’s browned stir in the chopped tomatoes, cocoa powder and any softer veggies you’re using, in my case the french beans (but not the spinach or chard which is added later).

Cover and allow to gently bubble away on a very low heat for at least an hour adding a little water if it looks like it’s drying out. Now throw in the final ingredients of the kidney beans and spinach or chard and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit (though no additional salt if making for littlies).

How about trying some of my other super vegged-up recipes? Kid’s Bolognese, Lou’s Chicken Fried Rice, Noodles with Pork & Veggies, Cream of Veggie Super Soup or my Chicken & Apricot Tagine

Ha, the boy happily eating his veggies!


Jamie’s Empire Roast Chicken, Bombay Potatoes & Gravy

A grown up dinner today, although without the chilli (or just the merest touch) I’m sure little ones might enjoy this too. But for us it was the perfect excuse to have a late evening Sunday supper on our own, cooking in the original wood burning bread oven that’s in our lounge. I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s latest series Great Britain these last few weeks, and just how excellent was it?! His midlands show had this recipe for Empire Roast Chicken served with Bombay Potatoes and Gravy that literally had me dribbling and I just had to make it. He used a wood fired oven on the show and totally inspired me to try it in ours. It was great to put it to use for something other than pizza. And what a fantastic success, although a tad on the hot side. I will definitely be experimenting a little bit more with cooking in ours. Obviously if you don’t have a wood oven you can use a conventional gas or electric one!

Our 1788 original bread oven!

This is a bit of a lazy blog today, as it’s entirely not my recipe AND I’m not even going to write it out. To read Jamie’s recipe click on the link below. I can honestly say I didn’t change anything at all, nor would I want to….it was perfect.  It’s a fantastic recipe, please try it, I know you won’t be disappointed. A great dinner if you have friends over, or just an indulgent night in for two. If I had to make one suggestion though, bump up the amount of Bombay Potatoes if you’re cooking for four or more people. Somehow or other Phil and I managed to chomp our way through the lot when there was supposed to be enough to feed four to six. But then we are rather greedy and couldn’t actually move afterwards. They were way too good to leave.

The recipe:
Jamie’s Roast Chicken & Bombay Potatoes Recipe

Thanks so much Mr Oliver!


The Best Chilli con Carne ever!

This is a truly great recipe for chilli that I’ve adapted slightly from Allegra McEvedy’s Leon cookbook. Bursting with flavour and stuffed full of spices (and not just the normal chilli) it’s a real winter warming dinner.  Although it’s not particularly hot, if you don’t like much heat to your food tone down the chilli a little or omit altogether, which is something I often do so the kids can enjoy it with us too.

Using braising beef rather than mince also make this extra special; not only tastier and healthier, it’s great to know exactly what meat you’re eating!  I used pumpkin instead of carrots, which happily added a lovely sweet note to the chilli.

Please beware, this is not a quick chilli to make!.  It requires marinading the beef, preferably overnight, and a good few hours of cooking. So well worth it though!

Enough for 4-6 (depending on how greedy you want to be!)

1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes

2½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cinnamon

5 sprigs of thyme

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

500g braising beef, cut into 2cm chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tsp coriander seeds

½ red chilli, thinly sliced

2 large onions, diced

2 carrots or equivalent of squash or pumpkin, diced

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans

salt & pepper

Firstly you need to marinade your meat for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.  Into a large bowl put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and a couple of the sliced garlic cloves.  Mix together and add the beef.  Using your hands rub the spices into the beef and leave to marinade in the fridge.

Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan or casserole.  Add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook on a gentle heat until you can smell the spices. Add the marinaded beef and thyme to the pan turning every few minutes. Fry until the beef has browned on all sides.

Add a little salt to the pan, as well as the fresh chilli, remaining three sliced garlic cloves, onions and carrots (or squash or pumpkin).  Stirring often continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cook for a further 10 minutes.  Now add the kidney beans. Pour in enough water to just cover and gently simmer for an hour with the lid on.

Take off the lid and simmer for up to another hour.  The chilli is ready when the beef is completely tender and sauce nicely thickened.  If the sauce becomes too dry add a little more water.

Once finished adjust the seasoning to taste.

Great served with rice and a big dollop of sour cream on top of the chilli. Divine.


Jamie’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

A lovely pasta bake that according to Mr Jamie Oliver is the most standard school dinner that exists in Italy.  Taken from his Italy book, this is a winner in our house, and so very very easy to assemble.  I’d happily eat school dinners if they were this good, interestingly it’s Italian law that it only be made with organic pasta and extra virgin olive oil! English schools take note!

Apart from the Mozzarella it can be made from standard store cupboard stuff, which is precisely why I came to make it last night as we desperately need a big shop, though I do sneakily keep Mozzarella in the freezer incase an impromptu pizza night comes about.  I used penne pasta and Grana Padano cheese rather than Parmesan.

Enough for 4 very hungry grown ups:

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

1 or 2 dried red chillies, crumbled

3 x 400g tins of good quality plum tomatoes, chopped

a large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

optional: 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

400g/14oz dried orecchiette pasta

4 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 x 150g balls of Mozzarella, sliced

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Add a couple of tbsp of olive oil to a large high sided saucepan and place on the heat, add the onion, garlic and chilli. Fry for a few minutes on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, until the onion is softened.  Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, allow to simmer gently for about 20 minutes.  Blend the sauce with a stick blender or place in a food processor.

Add your basil to the sauce as well as the red wine vinegar (if using), and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook your pasta according to packet instruction in a saucepan of boiling salted water.  Once cooked drain and stir in half the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan.

Into a large baking tray or earthenware dish place about a third of the pasta.  On top of this add some tomato sauce, a handful of Parmesan, and one of the sliced up Mozzarella balls.  Repeat these layers twice, ending up with a lovely cheesy layer on top.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or so.

Lovely served with a nice crisp green salad and a hunk of bread.


%d bloggers like this: