Cauliflower and broccoli gratin

This gratinated cauliflower and broccoli is a wonderful and tasty side to any dish. It’s not difficult to make either, which makes it a great staple accompliment to any dinner table.


1/2 cauliflower
1/2 broccoli
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50g butter
4 tbsp plain wheat flour
500ml milk
200ml grated cheddar cheese
2 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 225°C (fan) / 435°F. Cut the cauliflower and broccoli to florets. Place in a pot, and boil until just about cooked throug, but still firm (around 10 minutes).

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2. Melt the butter in a pot. Once melted, remove from the heat. Mix in the flour, and once the butter and flour are properly mixed, add the milk, stirring.

3. Place the pot back on the hob, and cook the mixture on a low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring the whole time. Use of a whisk may help you to get a smooth sauce.

4. Remove the pot from the heat again. Add most of the cheese (just save a little to sprinkle on top). Once the cheese has melted, add the egg yolk, stirring well.

5. Place the pot back on the hob once more for a couple of minutes, stirring, however don’t let the mixture boil. Stir the remaining spices into the sauce.

6. Place the broccoli and cauliflower florets on an ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce the vegetables, and sprinkle with the remaning cheese. Place in the oven, bake until hot and the food starts getting a nice colour on top.

 

 

 

Southern pulled pork

I don’t think I know anyone who wouldn’t like this comfort food of pulled pork. You can eat it in various different ways, hot or cold. You also get a lot from one piece of meat, and it can easily be frozen for those laze days when you don’t feel like cooking.

~2kg boneless piece of pork shoulder

Marinade:
150g dark muscovado sugar
2 large onions, chopped
16 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp tabasco
1 tsp coriander seeds
4 tbsp english mustard powder
4 tsp paprika powder
200ml tomato ketchup
2 tbsp Worchester sauce
4 tbsp treacle
2 tbsp sea salt

1. Blend all marinade ingredients together into a paste.

2. Pour the marinade paste over the pork shoulder and massage onto the pork, making sure all of it is coated. Marinade in the fridge for at leat 2 hours.

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3. Place in a pot. Add water so that it just about covers the meat. The meat normally comes with the skin, I tend to cook it with the skin on, and remove it after the cooking. Cover the pan with a lid. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat pulls apart.

4. I like to spoon some of the marinade / cooking liquid over the meat for some extra flavour. On this occasion I served my pulled pork in a homemade pitta bread (click here for recipe) with some lettuce, tomato and gherkins.

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Oven baked creamy salmon and vegetables

Salmon is a great versatile, tasty and meaty fish that can be cooked in many different ways. It is also very healthy, and in particular is rich in Omega 3.

Serves 2
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/2 courgette (zucchini)
2 small turnips
100g green beans
~6 florets of broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
2 salmon fillets
200ml cream
salt
white pepper
cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 360°F. Peel and chop the turnips into bite size chunks. Chop the courgette, green beans and broccoli also into bite size pieces. Place the spinach at the bottom of an oven dish, followed by the other vegetables. Squeeze the garlic on top. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.img_1537

2. Place the salmon on top of everything, pour the cream over, and season the salmon with some salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

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3. Place in the preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes. If you don’t like your vegetables crunchy, you might want to bake the vegetables on their own first for 5-10 minutes, before adding the salmon and cream.

Grilled tuna steak

Fresh, proper piece of tuna steak is very different from the tinned version most are used to. It is meaty, and flavoursome, which can also be enhanced by marinating. To cook, I just popped it under the grill in the oven this time, which was very easy and hassle free.

Serves 2

two tuna steaks

Marinade
1 small green chilli
1 garlic clove
1 piece of
root ginger, about the size of half a thumb, peeled
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
handful of parsley (a few stalks)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Finely chop chilli, ginger and parsley. Peel and squeeze the garlic clove. Mix all marinade ingredients together. Place the tuna pieces in a container in the fridge. 8 hours marinating time would be ideal, if this is not possible try to do at least 2 hours.

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2. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Place the tuna pieces under the grill, and cook for about 12-14 minutes, turning once half way through the cooking.

Rack of lamb with garlic mashed potatoes

Rack of lamb is quite a simple Sunday lunch food to cook, and a nice cut of meat. The longer you have the marinade on, the better the result will be. I would try to have the meat marinating for at least four hours, but overnight would be ideal. In terms of the cooking time, I like mine medium (pink), and the cooking times on here provide exactly that.

Serves 2
Lamb rack

25g butter for searing
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Marinade
2 cloves of garlic
leaves from 3 rosemary sprigs
leaves from 4 thyme sprigs
6 black peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
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Garlic mashed potatoes
5 large potatoes (about 800g)
50g butter
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
100ml milk
50ml – 100ml double cream
5 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp sea salt (or standard table salt)

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together. I tend to crush them together with a pestle and mortar.

2. Clean the rack bones with a sharp knife, to remove the sinew. It won’t however be a problem if you don’t, this is only done for aesthetic reasons, and won’t affect on the cooking of the meat.

3. Rub the marinade mixture all over the meat, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for four hours, or overnight.

4. Peel and quarter the potatoes, place in a pot with four out of the five garlic cloves, rosemary and salt. Cover with water, bring to boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. Once cooked, pour the water off, and remove the garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs / leaves. Mash the potatoes, and add the butter, milk, cream and salt. Finally, peel and crush the remaining garlic clove into the mash.

5. Heat oven to 200°C (fan) / 430°F. Melt the butter in a frying pan suitable for oven. Place the rack in the pan fat side down, and brown for a few minutes. Then sear both ends of the rack. Sear the remaining side, leaving the rack on the frying pan fat side up. For aesthetic reasons, you can cover the bones with foil, so that they won’t colour too much in the oven.

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6. Place the frying pan and the lamb rack in the preheated oven. For medium (pink) meat, cook for 20 minutes.

7. After the cooking time has passed, remove from oven. Cover the meat with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.

 

Roasted butternut squash soup

This soup is super tasty, and also pretty easy to make. Even though a couple of chillies are used, it’s not at all spicy. Butternut squash gives the soup a wonderful, sweet taste. This velvety soup is perfect for the approaching winter.

1 butternut squash
2 onions
1 garlic clove
2 chillies (I use green chillies)
900ml vegetable stock (I use Bouillon powder)
100ml double cream
2 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
black pepper and salt to taste

1. Peel and chop the butternut squash, and discard the seeds. Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F). Place the pieces in an oven dish, and sprinkle half of the oil on the pieces. Roast for 30 minutes. Half way through, turn the pieces.

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2. While the squash is in the oven, put the rest of the oil and the butter in a pot. Peel and chop the onions to large pieces. Cut the chillies in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds and the pith. Finely chop the chillies and peeled garlic. Place onions, garlic and chilli in the pot, and fry on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring, until the onions are soft and translucent.

 

3. Once the butternut squash pieces are done in the oven, add them to the pot, together with the hot vegetable stock. Let cool for a while, before whizzing into purée.

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4. Pour back into the pot, reheat, add the cream and season to taste.

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Scandinavian pickled cucumber

Scandinavian pickling is sweeter than what you would normally expect from pickled vegetables elsewhere, but nevertheless very tasty. You can of course pickle a variety of vegetables, rather than just cucumbers. I often make cucumbers and radishes. They are also ready within a couple of hours so even if you haven’t been very organised with the planning, can easily make them for your meal. This recipe is for light pickling solution, meaning delicate vegetables requiring short pickling time, for example vegetables with higher water content. Good general rule is vegetables you would eat raw.

125ml apple cider vinegar
125ml water
75g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 juniper berries (dried is fine)
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
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1/2-1 cucumber
4-6 radishes

1. Boil all solution ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved (couple of minutes), then let cool.

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2. Thinly slice the vegetables. For this kind of slicing, I tend to use mandoline, as it will give you equally thin slices. On my mandoline I used level 0.5 for the radish, and 1.5  for the cucumber.

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3. Place the vegetables in a ceramic or glass bowl (metallic one can affect the flavour). Pour the cooled solution over the vegetables, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

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Apple pie

There are probably as many apple pie recipes, or variations of recipes, for this favourite dessert of many nations, than there are chefs and home cooks. The below recipe is one I like. Some people prefer more filling to pastry, some like more pastry. I think this recipe gives you enough of both.

Pastry
225g butter, room temperature

50g caster sugar, plus a little bit extra for sprinkling on top
2 eggs
350g plain flour
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Filling

1 kg Bramley apples
150g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp plain flour

1. Prepare the pastry first. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until mixed. Add one whole egg, and one yolk, and save the remaining egg white for later. Beat together for one minute.The mixture will look a little bit like scrambed eggs at this point. Then add the flour little by little. Tip the dough onto floured surface, and finish working the dough by hand. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 45 minutes.

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2. Whilst the dough is in the fridge, prepare the apple filling. Quarter, core, peel and slice the apples. You want the slices to be quite thin, about 5mm thickness. Lay on a baking paper, and cover with paper towels. Let dry for about 30 minutes.

3. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and flour for the filling. Use big enough bowl, to be able to fit the apple slices later.

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4. Heat the oven to 170°C / 340°F. Cut 2/3 of the dough for the base, leaving the remaining third for the lid wrapped. Roll the base out, to be big enough to cover the pie tin, with a slight overhang. It may be a good idea to place the dough between two non-stick baking paper sheets when rolling it. Place into the tin, and roll out the lid.

5. Pat the apples dry, and put into the bowl with the sugar – cinnamon mix, and mix together well, so that all the apple slices are coated with the mixture. Tip it all onto the pie tin. Wet the pastry rim with water, using your fingers. This will help the lid to stick. Place the lid over the apples, and press edges together with the base. Stab 5 slashed with a sharp knife, and brush with beaten egg white. Sprinle with some more sugar, and bake for about 45 minutes.

6. Once baked and golden brown, let rest for about 10 minutes.

 

 

Scones

Scones are very British, and traditionally eaten with afternoon tea. Go anywhere for your high tea, scones will be served after your finger sandwiches, before the cakes. You will usually have a selections of ones without raisins, and ones with them. I personally tend to prefer the ones without. I’m a big fan of using buttermilk in baking, and I do use them for scones as well. Scones are traditionally served with some jam and clotted cream (I normally prefer whipped cream). There is a long standing debate about whether the jam goes on first, followed by the cream, or vice versa. One thing is for sure: they are indeed very easy to make, and you will be wondering why you never made them yourself in the past!

makes about 10-12

350g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter, cut into small pieces
180ml buttermilk
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clotted / whipped cream
jam

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F (fan).

2. Measure together the flour and sugar, and mix. Add the butter pieces. Rub together, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the buttermilk, and mix together into a dough.

3. Place the dough on a floured surface. I tend to cut the dough into half, to make it easier to handle the dough when making the scones. Shape it into a ball, and flatten with your hand. Finish flattening with a rollin pin, until about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick. Cut out the scones. I use a glass that is about the size I want the scones to be, about 5cm (2 inches) in diameter. Repeat with all the leftover dough, to use it all.

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4. Place on a non stick baking paper and baking tray, and bake for about 12 minutes. After the time has passed, you can check they are cooked through by piercing one with a metal pin. If nothing sticks to the pin, they are cooked.

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5. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut in half and fill with jam and cream.

Butternut squash tortellini

I don’t often cook full vegetarian meals (I should try to do it more), but at the end of the day, as long as the food delivers on flavour, it doesn’t really matter what it is. These vegetarian  tortellinis filled with butternut squash definitely do just that.

Serves 4
1 butternut squash
250g fine white wheat flour (00 grade is best)
2 large eggs
3 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 onion
50ml double cream
50ml pine nuts
1tbsp olive oil
salt
black pepper

1. Peel and cut the butternut squash into cubes. Place half in a pot with two cloves of garlic and the thyme sprigs. Cover with a lid, bring to boil and simmer until soft (around 20-30 minutes), drain the liquid in another pan, saving it for later.

2. Peel and chop the onion, and place in the same pot the squash was cooked in, together with the olive oil. Heat and fry the onion for a few minutes. Squeeze one clove of garlic in, and fry for another minute or so. Remove the thyme sprigs and whole garlic cloves from the cooked butternut squash pieces, and add the butternut squash to the pan. Stir together, and set aside to cool.

3. Bake the remaining half of the squash pieces in a preheated oven 180°C/355°F for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.

4. Prepare the pasta.  Measure the pasta flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs in. Then, starting with a fork, break the eggs and little by little mix the eggs with the surrounding flour. Once the dough gets firmer, move onto kneading by hand.

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5. Once cooled, prepare the filling. Put the boiled squash pieces,  fried onion and garlic in a blender. Add half the cream and half the pine nuts, then blitz together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Cut the dough into four pieces. Repeat the next stages with all pieces. Roll the piece to a cigar shape, then flatten the piece with your hands, and roll through the pasta machine, on the widest setting. Fold the dough over in half, and roll through the same setting again. Then reduce the setting to the next, and roll through. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved. I would say from 7 down to 2 should be fine.

7.  Cut your pasta. Brush half of the pasta round with egg, and add the filling (make sure it’s cooled). Fold the other half of the pasta over, and close with your fingers, pressing the pasta firmly together. Make sure you don’t leave air in.

8. Boil a large pan of water, with a generous amount of salt. Add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.

9. Bring the saved cooking water of the butternut squash to boil in a separate pot. Reduce to about half. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add 25ml double cream. Mix the oven roasted squash pieces into the sauce.

10. Serve the tortellini and the sauce together with the rest of the pine nuts sprinkled on top, and with some pea shoots and grated parmesan cheese.

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