I first made this a few years ago when we first got Jamie’s The Return of the Naked Chef cookbook but I haven’t cooked it in years. Ideally it should be made it with fresh peas which means the season for making it is quite short, (although it could be made with frozen peas). It is a perfect summer evening dinner as it tastes fresh. My elder son was due back from CCF camp this evening and I wanted something flavoursome for him after over a week of military rations and it wanted something that wouldn’t take too long to cook. It was the first time he’d had this risotto and he loved it. Unusually it is a risotto you could cook for people who are lactose intolerant (probably best using olive oil instead of butter to cook the peas). I must cook this sometime for Michele. For most other risotto’s use the basic risotto ingredients and instructions below, add extra ingredients to flavour the risotto and 100g grated parmesan cheese to the rice when it has cooked.
Prawn and Pea Risotto Ingredients
- 3 good handfuls peas, podded, (keep pods on one side)
- 1 cup stock or 1 cup water
- 1 basic risotto, recipe, (see recipe)
- 1 lb. raw prawn, peeled
- 1 handful basil, chopped
- 1/2 handful mint, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
Basic Risotto ingredients
- 2 pt stock, chicken, fish, or, vegetable, as appropriate
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 shallot or 2 medium onion, finely, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely, chopped
- 1/2 head celery, finely, chopped
- 400g/14 oz arborio rice
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 wine glasses dry white vermouth, (dry Martini or Nouilly Prat) or dry white wine
- 70g/2 1/2 oz butter
- Heat stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the shallots or onion, garlic and celery and slowly fry for about 3 minutes.
- When the vegetables have softened, add the rice, season with salt and pepper and turn up the heat.
- The rice will now begin to fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent having absorbed all the flavours from the vegetables.
- Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring – it will smell fantastic as it sizzles around the rice. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
- Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a highish simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside.
- Keep adding ladles of stock, stirring and allowing each ladle of liquid to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.
- Taste the rice – is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to carefully check the seasoning.
- Remove from the heat
Prawn and Pea Risotto Instructions
- Pod the peas (The pods can be placed in the stock after the peas are podded to infuse their fantastic delicate flavour. Use this stock as part of the stock/water for the risotto).
- Melt the butter in a pan add about 100ml stock. Cook half the peas until tender and mash
- When the basic risotto has been made add the prawns, raw peas and cooked peas and simmer for 2 minute as prawns take no time to cook.
I have to confess I didn’t actually make the lovely pie in the above picture, my sister-in-law Rachel did. She’s visiting England for a couple of weeks and staying with us. As with all the other pies I’ve tried so far from The Hairy Bikers’ Perfect Pies cookbook the pie was delicious. The sauce for the filling seemed a little wet but was absolutely fine. I filled the pie and was worried there was a little too much filling so I didn’t put quite all of it in but I realised after it would have been ok. I have to admit we didn’t faff about with two different types of pastry and used a 500g pack of bought puff pastry for both layers. When it came to decorating the top of the pie Rachel used small cookie cutters to cut out the shapes, I’d never thought of this before, I’ve always made a few leaf shapes freehand and marked leaf veins on because that’s what my mother always did. Using little cookie cutters is much more fun. We used my new Le Creuset Stoneware 24 cm Pie Dish. This produces good results every time. I greased and floured the base which worked fine. I don’t know if the pastry would have stuck without the flour.
- 50 grams butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 250 grams mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size (ideally chestnut mushrooms)
- 6 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs or breasts
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons freshly copped thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 200 milliliters just boiled water
- 50 grams plain flour
- 200 milliliters whole milk
- 4-5 tablespoons double or single cream
- 2-3 tablespoons dry white wine
- freshly ground black pepper
- SHORTCRUST PASTRY
- 200grams plain flour
- plus extra for rolling
- 125 grams cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- TOP CRUST
- 500 grams ready made puff pastry
To make shortcrust pastry, place flour and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the egg mixture for glazing and add the rest to the mixture until it starts to come together as a ball. remove and shape into a slightly flattened ball, wrap in cling film and let rest in a refrigerator for 15 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and line the pie dish.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a non stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and fry for 4-6 minutes, stirring often, until the onions and mushrooms are lightly browned. Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces, season with pepper and add to pan with bay leaf and thyme leaves. Cook everything for 4-5 minutes until meat is no longer pink, dissolve chicken stock cube in 200 milliliter boiling water.
Stir in the flour into the chicken mixture and cook for a few minutes, slowly add the milk, gradually stir in the stock, bringing the mixture to a gentle simmer, cook for 2 minutes until sauce is thick and smooth. Season, remove from heat, add the cream and wine. Cover pan with cling film and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 190°C/ Fan 170°C.
Spoon the cooled chicken mixture into the dish, brush the edges with some of the reserved egg, roll out the puff pastry, and cover the pie, trim of the excess with a sharp knife, brush top with egg, bake for 40-45 minutes until crust is puffed up and golden brown.
We used to use The Return of the Naked Chef cookbook a lot when we bought it originally. But I haven’t used it much lately and I hadn’t tried this recipe before. I couldn’t get wild mushrooms so used a combination of chestnut mushrooms and oyster mushrooms, I also used some porcini olive oil that I had in the cupboard. For sausages I used a full pack of Waitrose 6 British chorizo pork sausages which was 400g. This was about the right amount of sausage meat, so I’ve adjusted the quantities as Jamie had specified 225g. I didn’t have any pappardelle pasta so i used rigatoni.
This took about 10 -15 minutes to cook and was very tasty. A good weekday dinner.
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 400g of the best spicy sausage you can find, meat removed from skin
- olive oil
- 2 good handfuls of fresh thyme, leaves picked
- 1-2 small dried red chilies, crumbled, to taste
- 400g/14oz mixed wild mushrooms (girolles, chanterelles, ceps or blewits, oyster and shitake), torn
- fresh pappardelle: 1 x pasta recipe (page 98)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 good knobs of butter
- 1 handful of parsley, chopped
- 1 handful of grated parmesan cheese
- Fry the onion, garlic and sausage meat in a little olive oil until lightly golden.
- Add the thyme, chilies and mushrooms.
- Cook the pappardelle in salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve a little cooking water.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, season to taste and loosen with 3 knobs of butter and a little cooking water from the pasta.
- Toss the drained pasta with the mushrooms and serve sprinkled with lots of parsley and some grated parmesan.
So many people look at the Avoca carrot cake recipe I decided it was time I tried another carrot cake. I like some dried fruit in my carrot cake although I realise many people don’t. Rachel Allen’s recipe from her Bake cookbook has sultana’s in it. The cake was lovely and moist, and kept for several days but the icing was too soft and looked a bit unappetising (I think my butter was a bit too soft). There was about twice as much icing as I wanted although that was probably because it was too soft to spread thickly (and Jon always has a grumble about icing being too sweet so I tend to be nervous about applying it thickly).
- 2 eggs
- 140ml (5fl oz) vegetable oil
- 200g (7oz) soft light brown sugar
- 300g (11oz) grated carrot (weight when grated)
- 100g (3 ½ oz) raisins
- 75g (3oz) pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 180g (6 ½ oz) self-raising flour
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp mixed spice
For the orange cream cheese icing
- 250g (9oz) cream cheese (straight from the fridge)
- 50g (2oz) butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 275g (10oz) icing sugar, sifted
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- Preheat the oven to 150oC (300oF), Gas mark 2.
- Oil and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the oil, brown sugar, grated carrot, raisins and chopped nuts.
- Sift in the dry ingredients and bring the mixture together using a wooden spoon or large metal spoon.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 1-1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
- To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until combined. Add the vanilla extract, icing sugar and finely grated orange zest and mix to combine. The icing sugar should be smooth and quite thick. Using a palette knife, spread the icing evenly over the cooled cake,
I bought the Great British Bake Off cookbook on the strength of this recipe for salmon and pak choi quiche. The lovely Jason White made it and won the bake-off that week. (Jason blogs as Chef Jae @ http://preheattheoven.wordpress.com/ ). However it has taken me a while to get around to using the book (I did try the honeycomb with mixed results). I realised after I bought the book and started to browse that the recipes developed by the contestants would, of course be more challenging as they were aiming to show off their skill. This means it is a book for when you can take your time to bake and not when you’re trying to do something in a hurry or for the first time when entertaining. The instructions were very easy to follow, be aware there’s two periods of chilling pastry, plus blind baking the case so it’s a time consuming recipe to make up but much of the time you’re just waiting. I got on with making a cucumber salad and stir frying veg to have alongside.
I should have covered the quiche halfway through baking as it did get quite browned (as can be seen in the photo) but it looked better in reality than the photo indicates. The quiche looked appetising and tasted great, more delicate than expected despite putting soy sauce on the salmon. (I think I might put the soy on the salmon as part of the seasoning before cooking next time). The pastry was perfect, definitely no soggy bottoms.
I used a 23cm loose bottomed flan dish as recommended but I had enough pastry to also line a 10cm loose bottomed tartlet dish and since I had three pak choi I made up a little quiche as well. This was very pretty, it is going in Aidan’s packed lunch tomorrow, I’ll have to ask him how it worked cold. These would make lovely starters for a dinner party.
For the pastry
- 250g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 150g softened butter
- 2 free range eggs
For the Filling
- 400g salmon fillets
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 free range eggs
- 300ml double cream
- 2 pak choi
- To make the pastry, mix the flour, salt and sesame seeds in a medium bowl and make a well in the centre. Beat together the butter and 1 of the beaten eggs in a small bowl and gradually mix into the flour mixture to make a soft dough. Lightly knead the dough on a floured board until smooth then wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- To make the filling, season the salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until just cooked through. Allow the fish to cool a little then flake the flesh into small pieces.
- Trim the pak choi and cut in half. If necessary slice a little off the curved side to allow the pak choi halves to sit steady.
- Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board and line a greased 23cm/9in loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 minutes then prick the base with a fork, line with aluminium foil and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes at 190 C.
- Brush the base of the tart case with the remaining beaten egg from the pastry ingredients and bake for five more minutes. Remove the tin from the oven and turn the temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- Arrange the salmon over the base of the pastry case and drizzle over the soy sauce.
- Mix the eggs with the cream in a jug, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then pour three quarters of the mixture over the salmon. Arrange the pak choi on top, cut side up, and pour over the remaining egg mixture. Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and just set.
Tonight I made the Trapani-style Rigatoni, Griddled Chiccory Salad, Rock & Parmesan Salad and Limoncello Trifle from Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals. The top picture is the pasta, followed by the rocket salad then the griddled chicory salad.
We had a friend dropping by for dinner plus three teens so 6 for dinner. I doubled up on the quantities for the limoncello trifle so made 2 dishes of the size pictured below.
Trapani pasta is traditionally made with busiate, an long oddly shaped pasta from the town of Trapani in Sicily. The almonds in the traditional recipes are usually toasted which I may try next time I make this pasta. The pasta sauce has a robust and fresh flavour with a lovely texture.
- 400 gr dried rigatoni (Jamie suggests 500g but this is too much)
- 40 gr parmesan cheese
- 100 gr whole blanched almonds
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1-2 fresh red chili peppers (our supermarket was out of the chili’s so I used chilipepper puree which you can buy in a bottle here. That worked fine!)
- 2 large bunches of basil
- 4 anchovy fillets in oil
- 450 gr cherry tomatoes
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
- While the pasta is cooking, place the Parmesan, almonds, garlic and chillies into a food processor or blender. Process for a minute to combine the ingredients.
- Add around two thirds of the tomatoes to the food processor along with the anchovies, one and a half handfuls of basil and a little olive oil. Process until the ingredients turn into a paste.
- Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper.
- Reserve some of the water the pasta has cooked in then drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan. Stir in the paste until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Add a little of the reserved water to loosen the pasta if necessary.
- Transfer to bowls and top with the remaining cherry tomatoes (halved) and basil leaves.
The Chicory was griddled then sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The rocket salad had parmesan on top and a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. Jamie suggested a loaf of ciabatta, I did a tomato and mozarella salad instead.
I’ve made this a few times now, getting quicker but still wouldn’t be able to make it in 30mins.
Potato Farls are an essential component of an Ulster fry (cooked breakfast) and for many many years they were the only way I would eat potatoes (I have a bit of a food phobia about potatoes especially mashed potatoes, no idea why and it was a bit of a problem growing up in an Irish family). But I love these little potato pancakes, and I used to make them a lot in my first year at university.
The word farl originates from the Gaelic word fardel meaning four parts and the pancake would have filled the frying pan and split into four quarters. I prefer to make these as small pancakes. I made 30 pancakes using the quantities below for 8 people for brunch. This included 3 teen boys. Everyone thought I’d made too many but I only just managed to save 3 to reheat for breakfast tomorrow (I was aiming to save 4).
- 1kg peeled floury potatoes
- 500g self raising flour (or 500g plain and 2 tsps baking powder)
- 100g butter (50g melted into the potatoes and 50g for frying)
- Boil potatoes until a knife goes in cleanly, drain and leave with lid off for the steam to escape.
- Mash potatoes thoroughly and add 50g of the butter.
- Mix the baking powder into the flour if using plain flour.
- Gradually mix in the flour to form a dough.
- If making large farls put dough on a floured board and knead the dough before rolling out into rounds about the size of your frying pan.
- If making small farls get about 50g in your hand and knead before flattening out in your palm to about 5mm thick.
- Heat some of the remaining butter in a frypan (medium to high heat) and add as many pancakes as you can easily fit into the pan (I usually manage 5).
- Fry for a few minute on one side then flip over
- Cooked farls can be kept warm in the oven until they are all ready.
My favourite way of eating the farls is with a runny fried egg on top. Your eggs should be as freshly laid as possible. We keep 6 chickens in the back garden so our eggs are very fresh.
Jamie’s America is another cookbook I bought because (a) it was Jamie and I like his books, and (b) it looked to have a really interesting selection of recipes, but somehow I just never managed to use it. Since I was making a range of different salads and this was near the beginning of the book I decided to make it. To be honest it was a bit of a disappointment, it was pleasant but nothing special (whereas Jamies cucumber salad in my previous post was really tasty). Maybe it would work better with frisee ? I’d used romaine lettuce which may not have had a strong enough flavour. This book gets great reviews and Jamie is normally very good on salads so I’m not too sure what happened here.
Note as I entered the ingredients and instructions I realised I’d forgotten to add the blue cheese. I’ll try again with frisee and all his ingredients next time!
- 4 large handfuls of salad greens (eg. fresee, romaine, arugula, watercress, baby spinach)
- 2 large handfuls of seedless green or red grapes, halved
- 3 medium celery stalks, trimmed
- 2 large handfuls of walnuts (approx 100g), roughly chopped
- Small bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 1 red apple
- 150g blue cheese (dolcelatte)
for the dressing
- 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 heaped tbsp natural yogurt
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Toss together salad greens and grapes. Peel outer layer from celery. Slice at an angle then add to greens and grapes.
- Toast walnuts in a dry frying pan, shaking every 25 seconds. Watch them closely to make sure they don’t burn.
- Cut off tough ends of parsley stems and discard. Finely chop remaining stems and save them for the dressing. Chop the leaves and add to the salad greens. Add chopped parsley to rest of dressing ingredients — add enough olive oil to equal about three times the amount of the combined mustard and vinegar (in other words the acidic part of the dressing). Add the yogurt, salt and pepper and either whisk together the dressing or put everything in a jar and shake it up until the dressing has emulsified.
- Drizzle dressing over salad leaves. Slice apple into matchsticks (or thin slices, which is what I did) and scatter over the salad. Add toasted walnuts and use hands or tongs to mix everything together.
- Transfer salad to platter, piling grapes and walnuts on top. Scatter bits of blue cheese over everything. Finish with a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.