Potato and cheese dumpling topping

Potato_Dumplings.

If you’re after comfort food in this cold weather, here’s a quick recipe for topping a casserole or even a couple of tins of baked beans. My casserole was made from onions, garlic, chilli, celery, carrots, butternut squash and tinned tomatoes. But this would also suit a beef stew. I think chicken might be better without the cheese – in that case, I’d leave out the cheese and substitute double cream for the milk (to maintain the fat content), or use soft cheese instead of grated cheddar (and initially add less milk, so that the mixture is not too wet). Enough for 3 people:

  • 250g mashed potato made with 30g of butter
  • 120g wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 60g finely grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 90ml milk

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the grated cheese and parsley. Mix in the mashed potato using a fork until it is well integrated.

Heat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4). Your casserole or beans etc needs to be hot so heat on the hob or in the microwave if cold.

Mix the milk into the dumpling mixture, and using your hands, place golf ball sized pieces of dough on top of the casserole.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the dumplings are risen and starting to brown.

Serve as it is – nothing more is required!

Pork meatballs

Enough for 4 people. I froze half of mine for a later meal.

  • 1 large slice of stale bread;Pork_meatballs
  • 1 large portobello mushroom;
  • 1 medium sized onion;
  • 1 clove garlic;
  • 1 small red chilli deseeded;
  • Small bunch of mixed herbs (eg parsley, rosemary & thyme);
  • 500g pork mince;
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup;
  • 3 ‘shakes’ of Worcester Sauce;
  • Black pepper;
  • 3 tsp tahini;
  • Oil;
  • Plain flour.

Finely chop the bread, mushroom, onion, garlic, chilli and herbs (I used my Cuisinart Mini-Processor).

Thoroughly mix the chopped ingredients with the pork in a large bowl. Mix in the ketchup, Worcester Sauce and black pepper.

In small bowl, gradually combine a small quantity of cold water with the tahini, until it becomes slightly runny. Thoroughly mix this into the pork mixture.

Using a plate of flour, take ping-pong ball sized piece of the mixture in your floured hands, and roll in the flour until ball shaped. Place on a flour tray. I made made 24 meatballs from this mixture.

Oil a baking sheet and place the balls on it, brushing or spraying them with more oil.

Bake at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for about 20 minutes, until they begin to brown.

I served twelve of my meatballs in a pasta bake, made with penne (3 ‘handfuls’ of dried penne (cooked)), 1 quantity of Tomato Sauce, topped with grated cheddar, and cooked in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4). This will feed 2-3 people.

Pork and lentils

This is adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe (from Real Food). Great to eat on a cold day. Enough for 2 people:

  • 3 rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon (cut into short, thin strips)NS_Pork&Sausage
  • 250g pork belly (cut into 2 cm cubes)
  • 3 spicy pork sausages
  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 300ml chicken stock (made with a 1/2 stock cube)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 100g green lentils
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Chopped parsley

Gently cook the bacon in a large saucepan or cast iron casserole. When the fat begins to run, increase the heat and add the pork, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown. Remove the meat, leaving any fat behind (you may need to cook the pork in batches).

Add the sausages to the pan, brown them lightly and remove.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook very gently for about 10 or more minutes, until they are soft and golden.

Add the sausages, bacon and pork to the pan, together with the stock, the (whole) sprigs of thyme and the bayleaf. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the lentils and simmer for a further 40 minutes, or until both the lentils and pork are cooked.

Season with black pepper and lemon juice and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Barley risotto with pistachios and raisins

Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!

This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)Barley_pistachio&raisin_risotto
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 200g pot barley
  • 1000ml vegi stock
  • Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • Black pepper to taste

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
  • 60g yogurt
  • A pinch of sumac
  • ½ tsp harissa

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).

No-meatballs with green couscous

This recipe is adapted from a Turkey Meatball recipe in Waitrose Kitchen magazine January 2015. Enough for 2:

No-meatballs_couscous

  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (more for finally baking the ‘no-meatballs’)
  • 1 clove of garlic (chopped/crushed)
  • 1 courgette (grated)
  • 1/2 400g tin of cannellini beans (drained (the other half was used in Sausage and white bean stew) and mashed)
  • 1 tsp allspice (ground)
  • 50g feta (crumbled)
  • Small bunch of parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tsp tahini mixed with 2 tsp water
  • Black pepper
  • 120g wholemeal couscous
  • 130ml boiling water
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 4 sprigs of mint (chopped)
  • Small bunch of coriander (chopped)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 50g rocket

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, and gently cook the onion for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Meanwhile grate the courgette and squeeze as much excess liquid as possible from it. Mix together the onion, garlic, courgette, beans, allspice, feta, half the parsley, black pepper to taste, and the tahini/water mix.

Form into 10 balls. Roll each in oil and bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 20 minutes, until browned.

Put the couscous into a bowl and mix in the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, and then the boiling water. Cover and stand for 6 minutes. Cook the peas as indicated on the packet. Mix the peas, the remaining herbs and the lemon juice, into the couscous. If necessary, keep warm until the balls are cooked, adding the rocket immediately before serving.

I did find that the balls did not hold their shape very well, despite the binding effect of the tahini/water mix. If I make this again, I think that I will try adding some fresh breadcrumbs.

 

Sausage and white bean stew

Sausage_Bean_Stew

This recipe is based on one in this month’s Waitrose Kitchen. Enough for two:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)
  • 1 small red chilli (cored, deseeded and chopped)
  • 1 largish carrot (diced)
  • 3 spicy pork sausages (sliced (3cm thickness))
  • 350mls meat stock (about 1/3rd of a beef stock cube is fine)
  • 1/2 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 400g tin of cannellini beans (drained)
  • 100g cavolo nero (roughly chopped, with thick stalks removed)
  • A small bunch of parsley
  • Seasoning (black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice)

Heat the oil in a large pan. Stir in the onions and gently cook for 3 minutes. The stir in the garlic, chilli and the carrots, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sausage slices and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The add the stock, tomatoes and beans. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Then turn up the heat and stir in the cavolo nero, add more water (if necessary), and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the parsley and add seasoning to taste.

Serve.

Onion focaccia

FocacciaTileThis is based on a recipe in ‘Muffins scones and breads’ in the Austrailan Women’s Weekly cookbook series. There is enough for 6 as an accompaniment to soup or salad. It’s fairly quick to make as it requires only one rising.

  • 1&1/2  tsp dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 220ml warm (blood heat) water
  • 150g strong plain flour
  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 35g Italian hard cheese (this is the ‘cheap version‘ of parmesan), finely grated
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion (finely sliced)
  • Sea salt

Mix the yeast and sugar with 100ml of the warm water. Cover, and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until it starts to ferment.

Meanwhile sift the flours together into a large mixing bowl. When the yeast is ready, warm the flour briefly in the microwave (say, 20 seconds on high).

Mix the cheese and herbs into the flour, add the yeast mixture and 2 tbsp of the olive oil, and a further 100g of the water. Mix to a soft, but manageable, dough. If too dry add further water (if too wet, knead in some more flour). Knead for about 5 minutes.

Roll out the dough and place it so that it covers a baking tray (I used one 30cm square). Cover and leave in a warm place to rise (until it has doubled in depth).

Heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 8). Spread the onion slices over the top, and sprinkle with sea salt and the remaining olive oil.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Pleace on a wire rack to cool.