Braised red cabbage

Okay, so this side dish is literally my favourite thing! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m proud of of making it, or the fact that it simply tastes delicious! I’m really quite torn.

I looked up a few recipes online (to accompany my chicken pie) and honestly couldn’t decide which one to go for, so I went for a simple combination. I more or less looked at what was already in the cupboard and sought out the closest, and cheapest, way to replicate and combine the recipes. I bought a couple of things from the shops, but didn’t go for the things I was least likely to use again – I like to buy things that are handy to have in the cupboard, not ones that could waste away (not cool).

You will need:

  1. red cabbage (I was feeding two so went for the smallest one – but again, left overs are never a bad thing)
  2. butter
  3. sugar (preferably brown, but don’t hurt yourself if you have white)
  4. 1/3 of a tall cup or glass of balsamic vinegar
  5. red red wine (also treat yourself to a glass or few)
  6. 1 or 2 red apples (I went for the pink lady variety to add some sweetness)
  7. garlic (but that’s just me)

Now, braised cabbage takes a little while, but for me this was perfect! Simply start with the red cabbage and then move onto the main event. For instance, when I make the chicken pie, I get the cabbage on first and then move onto the pie – it allows the cabbage to simmer, soften and get all the more flavoursome.

Lets go:

  1. chop the cabbage and garlic (or, crush the garlic, or not use it at all)
  2. add a knob of butter to a sauce pan and melt
  3. add the cabbage and garlic, covering in the butter and allow to fry for about 3 minutes
  4. while the cabbage is frying, peel, decore and grate the apple(s)
  5. once the cabbage has softened, get the apple and 1 & 1/2 tsp of sugar in there, mixing it in and allowing to fry for a further couple on minutes
  6. add the balsamic vinegar and stir
  7. add a few glugs or red wine – you don’t want to swamp the cabbage, so make sure it’s not completely covered
  8. stir it all together and put on a very low heat to simmer, covering with a lid – do check/stir occasionally and if the pan is looking a little dry get some more wine and a little balsamic vinegar in there
  9. when the rest of your meal is ready, the cabbage will be too, so serve alongside your main and enjoy!

Incase anyone is unsure, “braise” is a two-park cooking process which simply means to first lightly fry your food and then stew it – done.

You should be left with a really sweet, yet acidic, rich flavour – which is also lovely and soft with some crunch. It’s got something for everyone!

I first paired the cabbage with my chicken pie, but this will also be a great participant for a roast dinner. I also cannot stress the greatness of leftovers – I made pie, cabbage and mash for my partner and I, and this provided dinner for two nights (we may have given ourselves bigger portions than intended, but oh so tasty – I regret nothing).

Advertisements

Chicken Pie

Chicken pie recipe: Jamie’s 30 minute meals

Personally I love cooking, and my dad does too. But as with any typical parent the idea of coming home from a stressful day at work to then have to cook a family meal is quite distressing. So I opted for one of Jamie’s 30 minute meals to put it to the test.

**Guilty** I have a little more time on my hands these days as I have recently moved home, but I am trying to put all my unemployed energy into cooking – I like to think everybody benefits. But should finding a job fail, who wouldn’t want a domesticated goddess? Right…?

Moving on…

Now, I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of mushrooms and I struggle on a regular basis to find a chicken pie that is not accompanied by the buggers (not even Jamie’s). So I have exchanged mushrooms for carrots (just trust me).

Jamie’s/my ingredients for le pie:

  1. 720g free-range, boneless chicken breasts
  2. handful of spring onions
  3. 3 large carrots (grated)
  4. garlic (always garlic)
  5. 1tsp plain flour
  6. 300ml chicken stock
  7. ground nutmeg
  8. puff pastry (I use Jus Rol Puff Pastry Ready Rolled 320g)
  9. 1 small egg (for glazing)
  10. mustard (optional – I’ve made one with and one without)
  11. creme fraiche
  12. fresh thyme

NextGET COOKING WITH JAMIE

A few things of my own:

  1. put some of the garlic in with the spring onions, then feel free to add some more with the stock
  2. after the springs onions, add in the grated carrots instead of the mushroom.
  3. I used a large steel frying pan and then transferred everything into an oven dish.
  4. I left everything to sit and simmer for a little while longer on a very low heat (this enabled me to get my sides in check, and let the mixture get more flavoursome).
  5. I used Jamie’s other recommendation and went for a chicken stock cube.
  6. For the puff pastry (not mentioned in the video), allow it to match the size of your pie dish – this usually leaves an inch to cut off for a decorative piece on top (quite pleased with my leaves).
  7. braised red cabbage on the side.
  8. mash potato on the side.

Also, never feel bad about using puff pastry! If you have the time, by all means, crack on with your own! For this particular recipe and quick-cook ethos, puff pastry’s the one!

I’ve only tried the one, but after this success (it tasted amazing by the way) I will definitely be having a look at Jamie’s other 30 minute meals! And I would definitely recommend this one (but my one without the mushrooms)!

You should check out my recipe for braised red cabbage! It accompanies the pie so beautifully and adds some sweetness and acidity.

 

 

 

Homemade Chicken Kiev

For some reason I’ve always thought that making a chicken kiev was going to be way too complicated and time consuming. I was wrong.

I had store-bought kievs quite a lot growing up and I absolutely loved them. Needless to say, this led me to finally getting my act together and making my own.

My dad had an old recipe (when once upon a time he made his own) so I followed the guidelines.

Ingredients:

  1. 200g of butter, softened (I needed less)
  2. garlic cloves (I always use more than stated)
  3. free-range, boneless chicken breasts (I used 4)
  4. 100g plain flour
  5. 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  6. fresh chopped parsley  & tarragon (or dried)
  7. 100g dried breadcrumbs (or make your own)
  8. salt and pepper
  9. paprika
  10. 2-3 tsp olive oil
  11. garlic granules (I found in the cupboard)
  12. mixed herbs (also found in the cupboard)

Side:

  1. Approximately 4 large white potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1/4. They will take roughly 40 mins to boil, and then drain, mash with butter and milk until soft (I use more milk than butter)
  2. 1 large broccoli, cut and placed in pan to boil. This will take roughly 20 mins. Just make sure they have a nice crunch

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  2. The butter: soften (which takes a lot of elbow grease – essentially beating it until soft), add the seasoning and mix in together. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use
  3. The chicken breasts: use a small sharp knife to make a slit from top to bottom creating a pocket (slightly slanted) to insert the butter
  4. Put the butter into a piping bag (or make one from a freezer bag) and pipe into the pockets made in the chicken breasts. I’m not going to lie, fingers will need to be used.
  5. Mix the flour and more of the seasoning in a shallow bowl. Tip the beaten eggs into another shallow bowl, and the same with the breadcrumbs.
  6. The system: toss the the chicken into the flour first to coat, shake off the excess, then slide into the egg and turn until covered. Finally dip into the breadcrumbs until covered, and shake off any excess. Do this to each individual chicken breast
  7. Place chicken breasts on a plate, slit side down, and chill in the fridge to help firm the crumb coating
  8. While the chicken’s in the fridge, this is where you get your sides on (unless you’re a champ multi-tasker, but as this was my first time, I tackled it step by step). For a casual mid-week meal I’ve gone for mash potato and broccoli. Whatever you fancy! The chicken in the oven takes around 15 minutes, so time accordingly.
  9. Next, pour the oil into a frying pan. When it’s getting hot add the chicken breasts, cooking on each side until lightly golden brown. Now place the chicken on a tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes, but basically until they’re cooked all the way through.
  10. To serve, plate up the mash onto the plates. Place the broccoli and kiev alongside and pour over any garlic butter left in the pan over the dish.
  11. Add any additional seasoning, like salt and pepper and enjoy your better-than-store-bought kiev!

I’m a big believer in making a little more than you should. For instance, make one or two more kievs than necessary, and boom, whack them in the freezer and you have another day’s meal sorted.

As I mentioned earlier, I needed less butter than the original recipe stated, but that’s fine! In one of my older blogs A simple, and very effective, bolognese, I have a recipe for a, yes, bolognese and I simply used the remains of my garlic butter to make my own garlic bread to go on the side. Problem solved!

Leek, potato & red onion soup

Vegetable soups are one of my favourite things to cook, particularly at this time of year. I find the process very therapeutic, especially when I’m feeling a bit worse for wear – so I surround myself with amazing fresh veg as my brain screams “I need a bowl of health!”

I used to live in Kingston-Upon-Thames and loved wondering round the market deciding what I was going to go for. I love the atmosphere of a food market, it’s so much better value for your money, and you’re supporting local businesses.

One of the things I love about soups is that you can make them from pretty much anything! This was great for me and my housemates during university when we were low on money. We’d pull what we had from our own cupboards and bung it all together in a pan.

For this soup I was in a similar situation to the latter. I went for: what I had in the cupboard…

What I found in the cupboard (this fed 3):

  1. 2 white potatoes
  2. 1 red onion
  3. 2 leeks
  4. garlic
  5. milk (I went for skimmed)
  6. dried parsley
  7. mixed dried herbs
  8. bouillon
  9. salt and pepper
  10. butter

What you need to do:

  1. chop the potatoes, onion, leeks and garlic (or crush the garlic)
  2. add a knob of butter to a saucepan and melt
  3. add all the chopped veg to the pan, making sure to cover them in the butter, then add the seasoning (trust your judgement and your palate)
  4. turn the heat on low, put a lid on the pan and allow veg to sweat for at least 15 minutes – occasionally give a stir and add a little more butter if the veg starts to stick to the bottom
  5. add boiling water (making sure it covers the contents and then at least an inch more) and 1tsp & 1/2 of bouillon
  6. keep on a low heat and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes
  7. add some glugs of milk (it depends how creamy you want it, and milk will help thicken) – I personally only use a little. Then stir
  8. allow to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes
  9. I have a hand-held processor, so I simply blend everything until it is nice and smooth
  10. serve, enjoy!

What you should be left with is a creamy consistency, with a slight acidity from the red onions and plenty or flavour! Tasty, and healthy, meals don’t have to be expensive or complicated to be amazing!

If your soup is thicker than you’d like, simply add some more water to the pan and give it another stir before serving. I personally like a thicker soup, particularly during the winter – it feels that bit more substantial and warming. But do blend to the consistency you prefer!

 

 

 

 

 

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Over time, and I give myself credit where it’s due, I have managed to conquer eggs at breakfast; fried; boiled; poached; and scrambled. Now, it sounds easy but I’m not talking about the cheeky tricks, I’m talking about back to basics with egg and pan.

The eggs I’ve been making most recently are scrambled, but with some extra flavour. I was literally playing around one morning wondering how to make my breakfast more interesting – I had eggs, spinach, garlic and seasoning. Voila!

For one person:

  • 1 or 2 eggs, beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of paprika
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • bread (if you want it on toast – I like brown)
  • butter or olive oil

Easy:

  1. heat up the butter, or oil, in frying pan
  2. chop and gently fry the garlic for about 3 minutes
  3. add the spinach and mix in allowing it to wilt
  4. turn the heat right down on low then add the eggs
  5. get your toast on
  6. keeping the heat on low, stir the eggs as they begin to cook and then scramble
  7. add the pepper, salt and paprika
  8. when toast is ready, get your spread on. I go for butter – classic
  9. the eggs are ready when they look fluffy and still a bit moist – if they’re flaking and crumbling, they’ve been done for too long – and then put them on the toast
  10. feel free to add more seasoning if you so wish and enjoy!

The important thing with scrambled eggs is to keep the eggs on that low heat so it results with them being light and soft. One could argue that this makes a signature quick dish a little more complex, but I beg to differ. While the eggs are chillin’ out in the pan, this allows you to get everything else in check – everything in good time!

If garlic is a little much for you at breakfast, this dish also makes a great lunch – but I do insist you give it ago!

 

Thought of the day: the weatherman

Climate change has always been an issue, but apparently it’s under the radar as long as it does not cause too much destruction.

I live in the UK and like most I have been following the coverage on hurricane Desmond – his lasted attack was in Cumbria. Now, I live roughly 4 hours away from Cumbria, and to think that I am safe and unaffected by this would be incredibly ignorant, as would it be for anyone else.

When I was younger I remember watching news reports about hurricanes in America, and shamefully being thankful thinking that the UK does not suffer from such catastrophes. Now, the fact that we’re already on hurricane Desmond is extremely alarming – but we should have addressed this a long time ago.

What can we do? My issue is that I feel as though we are being warned about rising temperatures and flooding rivers but are not being equipped with the right information as to how we, as a nation, can help prevent the consequences. Do not get me wrong, the information is there, just not on a large enough scale as to advocate changes in peoples’ lifestyle.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes tragedies to happen close to home for people to take action. I wish this weren’t true as the UK watches Cumbria evacuating homes; businesses going under; lives that families built being washed away.

My thought of the day:

during the weather programme after the news, the presenter notifies the ways in which the public can do little things to contribute to the prevention of climate change. This can be simple and accessible tasks such as turning off lights in rooms, sourcing food locally, or taking shorter showers. Now, I appreciate that ‘we already know this’, but are we actually doing anything? My thought here is that by consistently reinforcing  this information, change and progress will be made.

Climate change is not a county issue, nor a national or european one. Climate change is a world-wide crisis.

A simple, and very effective, bolognese

Homemade bolognese has always been a favourite of mine, and yet very underestimated by many. As a well known dish it is an easy-to-please signature meal which accommodates families; picky children; and those who couldn’t fathom cooking as a skill.

Bolognese is not only easy to conjure up, it is also financially friendly. There are 3 primary ways that bolognese helps you save the pennies:

  1. in one shop you’ve started, or bulked up, your herb and spice rack (and these purchases will last you a while)
  2. any excess products not put in the dish can be used for another meal
  3. by cooking a little more than you need to, you’ve got dinner two nights in a row by whacking it in the fridge, or a cheeky reheated meal saved away in the freezer that’s not from a box

When I make bolognese I usually use beef, but to add a little extra I often include bacon or chorizo. Alternatively when hosting for vegetarians, quorn mince works equally well.

For the/my basic foundation:

  1. minced beef
  2. 1 large white onion, chopped
  3. 2 tins of chopped tomatoes (for a larger meal)
  4. 1 pepper, chopped (I tend to sway red, but that’s your call)
  5. mushrooms, sliced into quarters (I dislike mushrooms, but the majority don’t)
  6. bacon or chorizo (not necessities)
  7. garlic bread for the side (if you so wish)
  8. olive/extra virgin oil
  9. dry or fresh spaghetti (add salt and a little oil)

For all the flavour:

  1. garlic (all the garlic)
  2. basil, ALWAYS FRESH basil
  3. salt and ground pepper
  4. beef stock (I sometimes also use gravy for thickening)
  5. dry oregano
  6. fennel seeds (personally, a very small amount)
  7. paprika
  8. red wine (a glass for bolognese, and a glass, or few, for you)
  9. worcester sauce
  10. instant coffee (depending how rich I want it)
  11. cheese for topping (parmigiano-reggiano or a cheddar – again, not a necessity)

I won’t drag on with the step-by-step process. Also, flavour quantity is always up to the chef. What I essentially wish to divulge is the cheap and easy way to up the game on your standard bolognese. The trick: simmer and stew! Allow all the flavours to mingle, because small talk never really goes that far. Once everything is in the pot, and depending on how hungry the mob is, allow to simmer away on a low heat for at least 30-40 minutes.

Bon appétit!