Jambalaya

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Jambalaya is a spicy Creole rice dish which makes the most of a range of ingredients from vegetables to chicken to prawns and back again. It can be adapted as much or as little in the way of meat as you like but is also delicious as a vegetarian option by loading up the veggies. I like to serve it in the middle of the table as it can look really quite impressive and that way everyone can help themselves- I can guarantee that there will be no leftovers!

 

Ingredients- serves 4
1 tbsp oil
2 chicken breasts- cut into chunks or strips
100g chorizo- cut into chunks
1 onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed or finely sliced
2 celery sticks- finely sliced
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper- sliced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
200g long grain rice
400ml chopped tinned tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
Small pack of raw king prawns- deveined
3 spring onions- finely sliced

1. Take a large non-stick frying pan and heat oil over a medium heat. When hot, add the chicken and chorizo and cook until the chicken is browned off and the chorizo is starting to turn golden and crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside but keep the delicious juices.

2. Add the onion, celery and pepper to the pan and fry until softened. Near the end add in the garlic cloves so they don’t catch. Stir through the mix of paprika, cayenne, oregano and thyme and cook for a further minute. Add the chicken and chorizo back to the pan and stir well to coat the meat with the spice mix.

3. Add the uncooked rice in and stir to combine with the rest of the ingredients. Add in the chopped tomatoes and half of the chicken stock next and bring the pan to a simmer. I also added a handful of halved cherry tomatoes for an extra sweetness against the spice but this is optional. Pour in the remaining stock gradually so the rice has time to absorb the stock and so it doesn’t start to dry out. This will need to simmer for 30-40 minutes until the rice is tender- some rice may take a bit longer than others so do keep checking and tasting as you go. If the jambalaya looks like it’s a little dry then add a bit more hot stock.

4. When the rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed, add in the raw prawns and spring onions and cook until the prawns are cooked through and tender. Serve the jambalaya in warmed bowls and dig in!

A spicy jambalaya- perfect for the ever-changing weather until we wait for the summer that we were promised!

Crunchy spiced fried chicken

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When you think of fried chicken there is a good chance that you conjure up an image of a bucketful of the stuff that smells appealing but is nothing more than a soggy disappointment when you bite into the seemingly crisp exterior. The chicken itself is not always much better, with the quality being substandard and decidedly dodgy! Well fear not- this chicken lives up to all expectations time and time again! Make a weekend feast of it by serving with corn on the cob that is dripping in a lime, chilli and smoked salt butter and a freshly made coleslaw.

Ingredients- serves 4
400g chicken breast mini fillets- cut into strips
150g plain flour
2 tbsp each of ground cumin, coriander and dried oregano
1 tbsp each of chilli and garlic powder
2 eggs- beaten
200g panko crumbs
Vegetable oil

1. Kick off by heating a good amount of oil in a wide non- stick frying pan over a medium heat; fill it so when the chicken is cooking it comes up halfway to each piece of chicken. As ever, keep a close eye on the oil.

2. Place the flour in one bowl, panko crumbs in another and the beaten egg in another. I crushed the crumbs a little more so some are more coarse and others are more fine to add a bit more interest to the texture of the coating. Add half of the spices and flavourings to the flour and then other half to the crumbs.

3. Take each piece of chicken, dunk to coat in the flour before transferring to the egg and then finally the crumbs. Continue until all the chicken is coated. Drop a crumb into the oil to check that it is ready to use; it’s ready if the crumb sinks before quickly returning to the surface. Fry in small batches whilst keeping an eye that the oil does not start to smoke. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side before using tongs to turn them over. When the chicken is golden and crisp, remove from the pan and rest on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Continue until all the chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Crunch spicy fried chicken- finger licking awesome!

Moroccan style lamb with spiced cous cous and glazed pistachios

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Lamb is a meat that if often underused in my household but in this recipe it is the star of the show so don’t just leave it for Easter- hit the shops and get cooking! This dish has the perfect balance of savoury vegetables to balance the spice of the harissa, the richness of the lamb, the sweetness of the pistachios and the savouriness of the feta. The lamb can be marinated in advance if you have the time but equally it will also be delicious if it is made just ahead of time. I also made extra yogurt marinade and added some chopped coriander to serve on the side of the finished dish.

Ingredients- serves 4
For the lamb
8 lamb cutlets- trimmed
200ml natural yogurt
2 tbsp harissa paste

For the cous cous
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 courgette
1 aubergine
200g cous cous
400ml hot vegetable stock
1 tbsp harissa paste
100g feta
Fresh coriander
Salt and pepper

For the pistachios
2 handfuls of shelled pistachios
Knob of butter
2 tbsp sugar

1. Start off the lamb so then you have time to make the rest of the meal as it is marinating. Simply combine the yogurt and harissa in a bowl that is large enough to fit all the lamb cutlets. Season the yogurt to taste and coat the lamb cutlets well. Cover and chill until you need them.

2. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Prepare all the vegetables for roasting by chopping into small pieces that can then be tossed through the cous cous. Place on a large baking tray, drizzle with oil, season and roast until tender.

3. Take a large bowl and place the dried cous cous into it. Cover the cous cous with the hot stock and allow it to be absorbed. Use a fork and fluff the cous cous before stirring through the harissa. Before starting the lamb, make the glazed pistachios. Take a small non- stick pan. Melt the knob of unsalted butter and dissolve the sugar into it and wait for it to start to bubble. Add the pistachios and cook until glazed and sticky. Leave the cool and move onto the next step.

4. When you are ready to cook the lamb, remove it from the fridge and heat a frying pan or griddle pan to a medium heat. Cook the cutlets for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are lightly golden.

5. To serve, choose a serving plate or platter that is large enough to hold all the lamb and cous cous. Add crumbled feta to the warm cous cous and sprinkle through some freshly chopped coriander to taste before arranging on the platter. Add the glazed pistachios and arrange the lamb cutlets on top. Finish with a little more coriander if you like and serve.

Moroccan lamb cutlets with spiced cous cous and glazed pistachios- bringing a splash of colour and oddles of taste to your dinner table via the Middle East!

Nduja, red pepper and feta baked brunch eggs

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I’m just going to come out and say it… I love baked eggs! They are the perfect weekend breakfast or brunch that’s quick and easy so you still have plenty of time to read the papers and keep the tea and coffee coming. You can also use this recipe as a base recipe for tweaking as you go. I often add fresh baby spinach or kale and red onion is also delicious but the key is to keep it as light as possible.

Ingredients- serves 2
2 garlic cloves- finely sliced
1/2 tbsp nduja
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 jarred roasted red peppers
Dried oregano, salt and pepper
50g feta
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take a small overproof frying pan or ceramic dish that is big enough to fi the tomatoes into. Add a small glug of oil over a medium heat; fry the garlic for a minute before adding the nduja to melt into the mix. Sprinkle in the oregano, add the tomatoes and peppers. Season to taste, Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until thickened slightly.

2. Crumble over the feta. Make two slight hollows in the tomato mix and crack the eggs into it. Finish off in the oven until the egg white is set. Serve immediately with plenty of fresh sourdough.

Nduja, red pepper and feta baked brunch eggs- grab your bread and dip until your heart and stomach’s content!

Chorizo, manchego and pepper muffin tin fritattas

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Muffin tin fritattas are as the name suggests- mini fritattas that are made in muffin tins! They are great for picnics, lunchboxes for work or school and even breakfast. Fritattas are an ideal go to spring or summer recipe and they can be useful to use up any vegetables or cheese that is in the fridge but has started to see better days. For this recipe I used a combination of chorizo, manchego and roasted red pepper so pack them with flavour but also to give them appealing colour. They are delicious warm from the oven or at room temperature. They can keep in a well sealed container in the fridge for a couple of days- if they’re not all devoured before then!

Ingredients- makes 12 fritattas
7 large free range eggs
1 large red onion
100g chorizo
2 large jarred roasted red peppers- chopped
130g manchego cheese
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170 fan. Prepare the muffin tin by lightly brushing each hole with vegetable oil using a pastry brush.

2. Peel and slice the chorizo into slices and then quarter each slice. Heat a dry frying pan and fry over a medium- high heat; fry the chorizo until golden and remove from the pan. Add the red onion in and fry until it has softened. Set aside and allow to cool.

3. Take a large bowl and crack all the eggs into it. Lightly beat them with a fork. Add the sliced red pepper and grate 100g of the manchego into the egg. Tear in some fresh basil and add the onion and chorizo. Season well with pepper and a small amount of salt.

4. Carefully use a ladle and divide the mixture between the 12 muffin tin holes. Do not fill them to the brim as they will naturally rise during cooking. Grate a little more manchego on the top of each hole and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the egg has set and the fritattas are golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool remove the fritattas from the tin; you may need to loosen them a little by carefully running the blade of a small, flexible knife around the edge of the tin holes. Serve by themselves or with a simple salad.

Muffin tin fritattas- your answer to breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Mee hoon goreng

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Mee hoon goring may not be a dish you’ve heard of before but, once acquainted, it is certainly a dish you want time and time again. It comes from Malaysia and is a super savoury noodle recipe. As it is so versatile you can play around with the main ingredients, be it pork, prawn or chicken to satisfy everyone but making it vegetarian by adding in even more vegetables is equally delicious so there really is no excuse for not making it. Mee hoon goring calls for a base paste that can be made in larger quantity and then kept in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or so. To add another layer of flavour and texture you can serve the noodles topped with crispy shallot ring; simply shallow fry sliced shallot in oil until golden and arrange on top.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the paste
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
2-3 dried Kashmiri chillies(or similar)
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely chopped
Salt

For the rest
Vegetable oil
3 slices of pork belly- cut into bite sized pieces
3tbsp dark soy
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp honey
2 nests of vermicelli rice noodles
Half a pointed cabbage- finely shredded
Carrot- grated
3 spring onions- finely chopped
Kecap manis
Oyster sauce

1. Start off by making the paste. Simply combine all the paste ingredients plus a pinch of salt in a small blender or pestle and mortar and blend (or bash!) to a coarse paste. Add a splash of water to loosen it and set it aside.

2. Take a large pan and fill with boiling water. Add the chunks of pork belly and boil for 2 minutes to remove any impurities; remove carefully using a slotted spoon. Rinse the pan out, add a splash of oil and heat to medium- high. Add the pork belly to the pan and fry until golden. Remove and set aside.

3. Next up, make the sauce for the pork belly by combining the dark soy, rice wine vinegar and honey in a small non- stick pan. Simmer until reduced and thickened and add to the pork belly. Continue to cook on a lower heat until the pork is caramelised and sticky.

4. Meanwhile you can make the base of the noodles. Soak the noodles in hot water according to the packet instructions before draining well. Heat a glug of oil in the wok and fry off a generous tablespoon of the paste you have already made. Fry until fragrant but keep it moving so it does not catch on the bottom of the wok. Add the cabbage and carrot and fry until starting to soften. Add a tablespoon each of kecap manis, oyster sauce and a splash of water, stir well to combine. Making sure the noodles are well separated and add to the pan along with the pork belly which is now nice and sticky; cover the pan and cook until warmed through. Towards the end of cooking sprinkle in the spring onions so they retain some crunch. Serve immediately.

 

Mee hoon goring- a new noodle dish to add to your repertoire!

 

 

Ultimate summertime salad

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The weather is starting to hot up and thoughts start turning to lighter meals to enjoy al fresco (well, hopefully if this lasts!). If a Greek salad and Italian panzanella had a lovechild then this salad would be the result. It packs a punch and combines savoury, crunchy and satisfying ingredients to create a healthy but filling salad. To be honest this is a great meal to use up whatever salad vegetables may be lurking in the fridge as you can’t really go wrong. This salad is ideal to take on a picnic as you can make the main elements and then assemble it at the last minute to avoid soggy bread disasters or make a big bowl of it to serve at a BBQ to eat with grilled meats or fish.

Ingredients- serves 3-4
150g sourdough bread- cut into bite sized cubed
1 red onion- finely sliced
350g assorted vine tomatoes
Half a cucumber- deseeded and sliced
200g feta
1 tbsp oregano
100g pitted mixed olives
2 tbsp.red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Freshly chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 150c/ 130 fan. Place the chunks of bread on a baking tray so they are arranged in a single layer. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake until slightly golden and crisp around the edges. Remove and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes. Cut them into a combination of halves and quarters and place in a bowl. Add the sliced onion along with 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil. Season well and  set aside to infuse.

3. In another bowl, combine the cucumber, feta, olives and oregano along with a good crack of black pepper and another tablespoon of oil.

4. Choose a suitable bowl in which to serve the salad and add half of the bread into it before adding the tomato mixture, cucumber mixture and tossing well. Add the remaining bread. Serve with an additional sprinkling of parsley and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving so the brad can soak up the juices from the tomatoes.

Ultimate summertime salad- I promise you you’ll be making this time and time again!