Tag Archives: Potato

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!


Aloo Gobi Kaddu – Potato, Cauliflower and Pumpkin Curry!

I love veggie curries. Even though I’m a meat eater I’ve always loved, and usually preferred, the veggie sides when it comes to Indian food. A few days ago when faced with a very empty fridge bar one huge cauliflower and half a pumpkin I thought I’d make a veggie curry.  Aloo Gobi, a curry of potatoes and cauliflower is one of my all time faves, a wonderfully comforting combo, and definitely my favourite way of eating cauliflower (even above cauliflower cheese which I adore!).  I thought I’d try it out with pumpkin too, Kaddu in Hindi, and it really was rather a delicious combo. I’m also happy to report that both the kids loved it too, in fact rather surprisingly after ten days of being a little ill and only picking at his food Jacques really tucked in….even with the addition of a couple of dried chilis!. I think it’s a good thing to get your kids eating a touch of chilli at an early age, then there’s no great surprises or aversions when they’re a bit more grown up. Mine definitely have a taste for a little heat and spice, but then they were weaned on lots of yummie lentil dahls.

You could either serve this as a meal in it’s own right, as I did, with some plained steamed basmati rice and chapatis on the side, or as a veggie side accompanying a larger meal.

Enough for a main meal for 4:

1 onion, halved and sliced

sunflower oil

2 small dried chilis, or 1 fresh, thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated

a large thumb size piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp medium curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp brown onion seeds

2 potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm chunks

3 heaped tbsps ground almonds

a handful of sultanas

350ml water

300g cauliflower, cut into florets

300g pumpkin or squash, peeled and diced into 2cm chunks

1 400g tin of coconut milk

juice of ½ lemon

a handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

salt

In a large saucepan heat a little sunflower oil and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent.

Add the chilli, garlic and ginger to the pan, along with the curry powder, turmeric and onion seeds. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Add the potatoes and ground almonds. Stir well. Add the sultanas and 350ml of water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, pumpkin and coconut milk. Continue to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes with the saucepan lid on, until the potatoes and veggies are all very tender.

Stir in the lemon juice and coriander. Taste and add salt to suit.


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!


Friday Night Fish & Chips, with homemade Tartare Sauce

Fish & Chips, now where do I start?  I LOVE FISH & CHIPS, if anyone asks me what’s the main thing I miss about living in the UK, the answer’s always Fish & Chips….family and friends aside it is in fact the only thing I truthfully miss!  F&Cs were our standard ‘too lazy too cook’ take away supper, usually on a Friday night, and even ranked above a curry!.

Obviously living in France you just don’t get F&Cs, these funny French people don’t know what they’re missing!. So I started to make my own…usually as a Friday or Saturday night treat for the family. Mine are way healthier as I don’t own a deep fat fryer. Nor do I ever want to, not for health and safety reasons you understand, but for the fact I know we would use it just a little too much!. My chips are oven baked and my fish breadcrumbed and fried in just a little oil. And do you know what, they’re really really good.  Not the same as battered and deep fried, but still really good.

To save on time you could always breadcrumb a large batch of fish fillets or fingers and freeze them, then bring out and use just as you would shop bought ones. For the breadcrumb outer layer I use  a 50/50 mix of breadcrumbs and polenta; the polenta adds a little extra crispy crunch.

And if you’re going to go to the trouble of making your own fish & chips, why not make some tartare sauce to have on the side?.  I’ve really got into making my own mayonnaise lately (which is the base for tartare), and as long as you make it in a food processor you’ll be amazed at just how quick it is….and how good!  Admittedly, the first time I attempted to make mayonnaise I did so by hand with a whisk, and whilst it tasted divine I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to be making any more! The recipe makes way too much for one meal, but keeps for up to a week in the fridge.  A great excuse for another fishy dinner.

Fish & Chips for a family of four:

400g sustainable white fish fillets

2 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten

a handful of white breadcrumbs

a handful of polenta

sunflower oil

800g Desiree or other floury potatoes (about 3 large), peeled

salt & pepper

some lemon slices

Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go  230 – 250°C/Gas 9.

Cut the potatoes into 1 cm thick slices lengthways, then each slice into 1cm thick chips.  Place in a large pan of boiling salted water and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the water and drain well.

Place the chips on a baking sheet or roasting pan, drizzle with a little sunflower oil, salt and pepper and mix well until all the chips are coated (there shouldn’t be any excess oil in the pan).

Place in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every few minutes to prevent burning.  They’re ready when golden and crisp.

Whilst the chips are in the oven, prepare your fish.  Check the fillets for bones and remove if you find any. Cut into two large grown up pieces and two smaller child size ones….or cut thin strips across the fish to make fish fingers (I make two per child).

Now assemble three large flat bottomed bowls or dishes.  In the first place the flour, the second the beaten egg and in the third the breadcrumbs/polenta. Dip each fish piece first in the flour and completely coat, then in the egg (again completely coat) then the breadcrumbs.

Heat 3 tbsps of sunflower oil in a large frying pan until very hot.  Add the fish pieces and fry for 5 to 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish fillet) turning once until golden brown and crisp.  Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve immediately with the chips, slice of lemon, peas and tartare sauce.

Here’s a pic of Jacques eating his first ever takeaway fish & chips, whilst at my mum and dads house in the UK this summer.  Needless to say he enjoyed them about as much as his mother!

 Tartare Sauce:

1 egg

½ level tsp salt

½ level tsp mustard powder

½ clove of garlic, peeled

100ml sunflower oil

75ml olive oil

pepper

1 dessertspoon lemon juice

1 tbsp flat leaved parsley

1 heaped tbsp rinsed capers

4 cornichons (baby gherkins)

Break the egg into your food processor and add the salt, mustard powder and garlic.  Whiz up a little.  Combine the two oils in a jug.  With the food processor whizzing, start to add the oil (through the processor feeding tube) in a very slow steady trickle, pouring as slowly as possible.  The mayo will seem very thin at first, don’t worry as the more oil you add the thicker it gets. Continue until all the oil has been incorporated.

Now add some pepper, the lemon juice, parsley, capers and cornichons to the processor and whiz again.  It’s ready when it’s as course or fine as you want it to be. Adjust the salt, pepper and lemon juice to suit. Et voila tartare sauce made in minutes!


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:


Kids Fish Pie!


Today I baked fish pie in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls, much to the delight of my kids! Their favourite dinner IN their favourite bowls, Jacques was literally climbing on the table to get his fingers in the pies! Oogaa produce fabulous feeding products for babies and young children, in gorgeous designs and colours that are fun and so adorable. We now have the range of colours and Francesca frustratingly will only eat out of a bowl that matches her outfit of the day (as girls do!). Jacques loves their squidgability (I think I just made up a word here!) and loves to chew and play with them after his dinner, or put them on his head. He also has a rather unnerving tendency of flinging his bowl as far and fast as he can once he’s finished eating so Mummy’s very happy to have silicone non-noisy non-breakable dinnerware!. Mummy’s also happy that they’re so incredibly useful, they can be baked in the oven, put in the microwave to warm up food, put through the dishwasher and even used to store food in the freezer. And being silicone, so wonderfully safe! For more information on Oogaa have a look at their lovely website: www.oogaa.com.

Although named Kid’s Fish Pie, it’s most certainly not just for kids, and can be very much enjoyed by grown ups too! I baked my pies individually in Oogaa bowls today (as well as a separate dish for my husband and I), but you could also use a large and deep ovenproof dish for everyone.

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

400g of sustainable white fish fillets (or combination of salmon and white fish)

500ml of full fat milk

1 bay leaf

salt & pepper

50g butter

40g plain flour

80g Cheddar cheese, grated

½ tsp of English mustard (optional)

2 eggs, hard boiled

80g frozen peas, cooked

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, washed and finely chopped, wilted

2 tbsps chopped fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

3 tsps of lemon juice

For the Potato Topping:

700g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

40g butter

3 tbsp milk

salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Place your fish in a saucepan and pour over the milk, a little seasoning (none or very little salt if you’re cooking for wee ones!) and the bay leaf. Slowly bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until the fish is cooked.

Meanwhile cook the potatoes for the topping in a pan of boiling water. If you haven’t already done so you can hard boil your eggs in the same pan (they take 8 minutes in boiling water). When the potatoes are cooked drain out the water, pouring the water over the fresh spinach as this will be enough to wilt it ready for the pie. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and a little seasoning.

Drain the fish from the milk, retaining the milk for the sauce. Check the fish for bones, roughly break into pieces and set aside.

Now to make the cheese sauce. Place the butter in a large saucepan and heat over a very gentle heat until melted. With the pan still on a little heat add the flour and stir quickly and vigorously with a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk until combined. Add a little milk and continue to stir or whisk vigorously, continue to add the milk in this way until you have incorporated it all. Don’t worry if you have a few lumps at this stage, they’ll eventually go. Continue to stir or whisk the sauce constantly over a gentle heat until it is fully thickened and starting to simmer, this will take a few minutes. When simmering, take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard (if using).

Now you can assemble your pie or pies. Place the fish pieces evenly in a large ovenproof dish or individual dishes or bowls. Roughly chop up the eggs and scatter on to the fish, along with the peas, spinach and chives (if using). Drizzle over a little lemon juice. Pour over the cheese sauce. Top with the mashed potato.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. For a crispy browned top place briefly under a hot grill.


Boulangére Potatoes

Whilst I absolutely adore Dauphinoise potatoes they aren’t exactly the healthiest of potato side dishes, especially with the amount of cream I love to add. Boulangére potatoes are however an extremely healthy alternative that are in my book equally as tasty.  Try them and you’ll be amazed! Interestingly named as in France they were originally given to the local boulangerie to slowly bake in their bread oven.

Great served with a sunday roast or a rich casserole or stew. You can make them plain or add plenty of fresh thyme or rosemary.  Yesterday I made mine with thyme and served with roast chicken, lovely!

Enough for 4:

750g Desirée or other floury potatoes, peeled and very finely sliced

1 very large or 2 small onions, peeled, cut in half and very finely sliced

a few springs of fresh rosemary or thyme (optional)

200ml vegetable or chicken stock

100ml milk

30g butter

salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 180°C / Gas Mark 4.

Very finely slice your potatoes and onions.  If using thyme strip the leaves from the stalks; if rosemary remove from the stalks and roughly chop.

Grease an ovenproof dish and start assembling with a layer of the potato slices, followed by some onion slices, a fine scattering of thyme or rosemary (if you’re using) and a little seasoning.  Continue layering in this way until all the potatoes and onions have been used (retaining a few of the herbs), finishing with a layer of slightly overlapping potatoes on top.

Mix the stock and milk together and pour over the potatoes.  Scatter over the remaining herbs (if using) and a little seasoning.

Cut the butter into small pieces and dot over the top of the potatoes.

Place in the oven and bake for an hour, until the potatoes are soft and cooked through, and the top layer is crisp and golden.


Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)

This was our Sunday lunch today!  We tend to have some sort of soup on Sundays for lunch (and Saturdays too for that matter!) followed by a proper ‘sunday lunch’ around 6ish.  Because the kids normally have a sleep at 12 for a couple of hours it’s too rushed trying to get lunch ready before then….nor do we have much of an appetite for a roast and pud at 11.30am! So today’s soup was this new-to-me gem of a recipe (although I’ve now made it three times in less than a week!), and the kids loved it too.

A big thank you to my friend Susie for emailing me it.  Susie and her partner Gary run a training retreat for cyclists and triathletes in the mountains of central Portugal (www.delucci.co.uk), and regularly cook up this fabulous soup for themselves and hungry guests, either as a filling starter or a light lunch or supper served up with a hunk of bread.

Very quick and easy to make, it’s filling, nutritious, warming and bursting with flavour.  You can use any greens in this recipe, I used savoy cabbage as it’s very much in season now (although admittedly I had to buy mine, as my Savoys are in very poor miniscule shape!) and it worked splendidly.  If you want to add less of the greens then do so to make a slightly thinner soup, add more to make it a heavier.

Enough for 4:

1 very large or 2 small onions, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

olive oil

150g chorizo, sliced and each slice cut into 6/8 small pieces

600g potatoes (about 4 large ones), peeled and diced into 1cm chunks

700ml of chicken stock

300ml of water

2 bay leaves

salt & pepper

400g savoy cabbage or other greens, very finely shredded

Saute the onions and garlic with a glug of olive oil in a very large saucepan.  Cook until soft and translucent.

Now add the chorizo pieces to the onion and continue to saute for a few more minutes. Add the diced potatoes and stir well.

Pour in the stock and water to the onions and potatoes along with plenty of black pepper (you can add salt if you wish but the Chorizo and stock both contain plenty).  Simmer until the potatoes are soft and cooked through. Mash the potatoes into the stock (by using a potato masher).

Add your finely shredded greens to the soup.  If you want a heavy soup add as much as the soup will take!  If you want it lighter add less than my suggested 400g.

Simmer until the greens are cooked.

Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately with a large hunk of bread.


Salmon Fishcakes with Herby Garlicky Mayo


Yesterday we all greedily tucked into a baked salmon for our sunday dinner (baked in foil in the oven), along with a garlicky herby mayo, the last of the new potatoes, and lots of steamed veggies.  It was an absolutely delicious treat, but left us with lots of fishy leftovers…..so today it was salmon fishcakes for tea!  They were a huge success, Jacques ate two (he’ll be 18 months this month!) Luckily for us both our children love fish, but if yours don’t how about trying some homemade fishcakes as the buttery potato inner and the crunchy breadcrumbed outer go a long way to disguise the fishiness.  And you can even further disguise by serving them with something dippy, like my herby garlicky mayo, a classic tartare, or just a squirt of good old Heinz Tommie K.
I tend to make my own breadcrumbs from leftover bits of white bread that we always seem to have lying around, and store them in the freezer.  Mixing breadcrumbs with polenta makes for an extra crispy crumb.

Makes about 8 fishcakes:
about 400g cold mashed potato (mashed with plenty of butter, but no milk)
418g tin of salmon, or about the same of home cooked leftovers
a heaped tbsp creme fraiche
1 egg, beaten
zest of a lemon
salt and pepper

For the crunchy outer fishcake layer:
2 eggs, beaten
fine breadcrumbs, or mix of breadcrumbs and polenta
sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl mix all the fishcake ingredients, preferably by hand.  Shape into little rounded flat patties and place on a layer of cling film on a baking sheet.  Cool them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the outer layer, place the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in two shallow bowls.  Dip each fishcake in the egg, ensuring it gets a good coating, then the breadcrumbs.

Place enough oil in a frying pan to just cover the base, and heat.  Place the fishcakes in the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides.  Serve immediately.

For the kids I served these up with some baked beans and a few steamed veg.  For us with slices of lemon, lots of herby mayo (recipe below) and a rocket (straight from the garden) salad.  Yum.

For the Herby Garlicky Mayonnaise
You really can use any herbs here, depending on personal preference or like me use whatever you happen to have an abundance of.  Tarragon, basil, parsley and chives however work particularly well, either use individually or a mixture as I’ve done.  For a super quick result, add some finely chopped herbs to shop bought mayo

1 egg
1 tsp of mustard powder
½ clove garlic, chopped
¼ pint sunflower oil
1 tbsp of cider or white wine vinegar
a large bunch of flat leaved parsley, leaves removed and roughly chopped
a few sprigs of tarragon, leaves removed and roughly chopped
a bunch of chopped chives
a little lemon juice
salt and pepper

Place the egg, mustard powder, garlic and a good pinch of salt in a food processor and whiz a little.  Whilst the processor is whizzing drop by drop start to add the oil through the funnel at the top, ensuring you don’t add too much too soon (as the mix will curdle), as the mixture thickens you can add the oil in a steady stream.  Once all the oil is in, add the vinegar and all your herbs and continue to whiz until the herbs look well incorporated.  Add a little lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

For a printable recipe, please click the following link  Salmon Fishcakes with Herby Garlicky Mayo


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