Friday, 24 November 2017

The BEST Slow Cooked Beef Stroganoff

The BEST Slow Cooked Beef Stroganoff
This is a beautiful melt-in-the mouth dish that tastes better if you cook it a day in advance!

Serves 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 ½ - 3 hours

4 tbsp olive oil
500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1.5kg stewing beef, cut into 3cm cubes
350ml beef stock
3 onions, peeled & sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
150ml dry white wine
100ml brandy
1tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tbsp paprika
Freshly ground salt & pepper
300ml double cream

For the buerre manié
3tbsp butter, softened
3tbsp plain flour

To serve
Basmati rice follow packet instructions


1.  Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C/Gas mark 3.

2.  In a large ovenproof casserole heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and lightly fry the mushrooms in batches until slightly golden.  Put on a plate and set aside.  Next brown the meat in batches and set aside, add more oil if necessary.

3.  Now fry the onions until softened and lightly golden, add the garlic towards the end adding more oil if necessary.  Add half of the beef stock and bring to the boil to deglaze the pan.  Return the meat and mushrooms to the pan and add the rest of the stock, wine and brandy.  Add the Dijon, paprika and season to taste, stir well and simmer.  Cover the pan and place in the oven and cook for 2 – 2 ½ hours until the meat is tender.

4.  Make the beurre manié by mixing the butter and flour to create a paste.  Set aside.

5.  Remove the dish from the oven and strain the liquid into a pan.  Keep the meat and mushrooms warm in a covered casserole.  Pour the cream into the pan with the liquid and boil, uncovered for a few minutes until the sauce has slightly reduced and has a good flavour.  Season to taste if required.

6.  Place the beurre manié into the boiling liquid, 1 tbsp at a time and whisk until the sauce thickens slightly.  Now pour the sauce over the meat and mushrooms and stir gently.  Keep warm until ready to serve with the rice.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Ham & Lentil Soup

Ham & Lentil Soup
The perfect soup for a chilly day, make the day before as it tastes even better the next day!

Serves 8-10 servings
Prep time:   15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 45 minutes

1 ham shank
2 bay leaves
4 litres water
50g butter
2 leeks, sliced
2 onions, peeled & chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
½ swede, peeled & chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled & chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
½ tbsp. medium curry powder
700g red lentils
A few drops of tabasco
Freshly ground salt & pepper

To serve
Crusty bread & lashings of butter


1.    Place the ham shank, bay leaves and water into a large pan.  Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 2 hours and the meat is falling off the bone.  Remove the ham from the stock and allow to cool.
2.    In a large frying pan melt the butter over a medium heat and gently fry the leeks, onions, carrots, swede, potatoes and garlic for 15 minutes until softened, not browned.  Sprinkle over the curry powder and stir through for a further minute. 
3.    Place the vegetables in the pan of stock, add the lentils, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.
4.    Remove the bay leaves and blend half of the soup and place it back with the remaining soup (I believe leaving some texture is best).
5.    Break or shred the ham into the soup and season to taste with the tabasco, salt & pepper. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Spaghetti with Green Olive Puttanesca

Spaghetti with Green Olive Puttanesca

This is a wonderfully tasty quick and easy mid-week meal. Chilli, Capers, Anchovies, Olives and Tomatoes - what a perfect combination!

Serves 4
Prep time:   5 -10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
1 small red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
10 anchovies from a jar, drained & finely chopped
115g green olives, pitted
2 tbsp capers, drained
400g tin of chopped tomatoes

To serve
400g dried spaghetti, cooked as per packet instructions
Freshly grated parmesan
Fresh parsley, chopped


1.  Place the oil in a large frying pan and heat, add the garlic and chilli and gently cook for 2 minutes.  Add the anchovies, olives, capers and tomatoes. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

2.  Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and toss until fully coated.

3.  Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and parmesan, enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The BEST Cottage Pie

This has to be comfort food at its best. A perfect family meal!

Serves 6-8
Prep time:  20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes


For the mince
2 tbsp olive oil
1kg lean minced beef
2 onions, finely chopped
2 celery sticks finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 parsnips, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
10 sprigs fresh thyme leaves only
2 tbsp tomato puree
350ml red wine
800ml beef stock
A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce
150g frozen peas
1 ½ tbsp cornflour
Salt & freshly ground pepper

For the mash
1.5kg King Edward potatoes, peeled & chopped
100g butter
150ml double cream
Salt & freshly ground pepper
75g mature cheddar, grated

1.  Heat a large frying pan and then add a tablespoon of olive oil, add the mince in small batches until browned all over and set aside.

2.  Now a tablespoon of olive oil to the frying pan and gently fry the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips, garlic and thyme for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the tomato puree fry for one minute and then add the mince.

3.  Deglaze the frying pan which you cooked the mince in with red wine, cook for 3-4 minutes until it has reduced by half.

4.  Add the stock to the pan and let simmer for 45 minutes.  Place the cornflour in a small bowl and add 2 tbsp liquid from the pan and mix through.  Add to the pan with a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce and the frozen peas.  Season to taste.

5.  Preheat the oven at 200°C/180°C/Gas mark 6.

6. For the mash, place the potatoes in a pan of salted water bring to the boil and then simmer for 12-15 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and the mash with a potato masher or ricer.  Add the cream and butter and mix well until you have a smooth mash.

7.  Put the mince into a baking dish and top with the mash and sprinkle over the grated cheese.  Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the mash is golden brown.  Serve by itself or with your favourite vegetables, enjoy!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Beef & Ale Casserole with Horseradish & Stilton Dumplings

An extremely simple to make beef and ale casserole which is full of flavour!  The dumplings make this dish... this is a definite must try!

Serves 4
Preparation time:  15 minutes
Cooking time:  2 hours 15 minutes


For the casserole:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, thickly sliced
750g braising steak, cut into 2-3cm cubes
3 tbsp plain flour
Freshly ground pepper & salt
2 large carrots, peeled & sliced
2 tbsp demerara sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree
550ml bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale

For the Dumplings:
200g self-raising flour
100g vegetable or beef suet
½ tsp salt
75g Stilton, crumbled
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp hot horseradish (from a jar)
150ml water

To serve:
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Steamed green vegetables

Preparation method

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 3.

2.  Heat the oil in a large casserole and add the onions, cook until they start to colour.  

3.  In a large bowl toss the beef in the flour and season well.  Add to the casserole (there is no need to brown the meat).  Now add all the remaining casserole ingredients and bring to the boil.  Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 1 ½ hours.

4.  In the meantime, make the dumplings.  In a large bowl, mix together the flour, suet and salt using your fingertips to break up the suet.  Now add the Stilton and the parsley.

5.  Combine the horseradish and the water together then place in the bowl.  Bring the mixture together with your hands until you have a dough consistency.  Then, using your hands roll the dough into 8-10 balls and set aside and cover.

6.  When the beef is soft and tender, season to taste.  Now drop the dumplings on top, cover with the lid and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

7.  Now that the dumplings have puffed up, remove the lid and raise the temperature to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 4.  Cook until the dumplings have developed a crust.  Scatter with parsley and serve on warm plates with steamed green vegetable, enjoy!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Curried Scotch Eggs

The spiced sausage meat is a welcome addition to this classic snack!  They taste absolutely delicious – maybe the best I’ve ever tasted!

Serves 6
Prep time:  15 minutes (plus 20 minutes chill time)
Cooking time:  15 minutes

25g butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g good quality sausage meat
Small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp mild curry powder
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
6 eggs
50g plain flour
2 large eggs, beaten
100g panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep-frying

Preparation method

1.  Melt the butter in a frying pan and gently fry the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened. 

2.  Add the shallots to a bowl with the sausage meat, parsley, sage and curry powder.  Mix through and season to taste.

3.  Meanwhile soft boil the eggs placing them in a pan of boiling water and cooking them for 6 minutes.  Cool them in cold water and peel them under the water.

4.  To assemble, place a sheet of cling film on a board, put a ball of sausage meat on top and flatten enough to cover the whole egg.  Place an egg in the middle, then draw up the ends of the cling film and massage the sausage meat to cover the egg evenly.  Repeat this with the rest of the eggs.

5.  Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs on three separate plates.  One at a time roll each Scotch egg in the flour, then dip into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs to cover.  Repeat this with the rest of the eggs.  Now place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

6.  In a deep-fryer heat the oil to 170°C, test the oil is ready by dropping in a piece of bread.  If the oil sizzles and the bread turns golden in less than a minute the oil is ready.  Place the Scotch eggs into the oil and fry for 5-6 minutes or until evenly browned.  Fry in batches and keep them warm in a low oven.

7.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Sausages braised with Cider & Smoky Bacon

A very simple but very delicious dish to make – pork and cider were made for each other!  This dish is best served with a hearty pile of mash!

Serves 4 or 2 if you like big portions
Preparation time:  5-10 minutes
Cooking time:  45 minutes

1 tbsp olive oil
8 good quality pork sausages
6 rashers of streaky smoked bacon
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
450ml cider
1 tsp Dijon mustard
a handful parsley, chopped
mashed potato, to serve

Preparation method

1. In a large frying pan heat the olive oil.  Add the sausages and cook until they are browned all over and set aside.

2. Add the bacon and onion the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, stir occasionally until golden.  Now add the flour and cook for a further minute, then stir in the cider.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 minutes, stir in the mustard.

3. Return the sausages back to the pan.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve with mash.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Spiced Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Soup

Spiced Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Soup
This soup is really hearty and filling - perfect for a chilly day!

Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
3 large carrots, peel & dice
3 large parsnips, peel & dice
2 medium sweet potatoes, peel & dice
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
150g red lentils
400 ml can coconut milk
750 ml vegetable stock
couple of sprigs fresh thyme
small handful fresh coriander
Freshly ground salt & pepper
Your favourite bread, to serve


1.    Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for about five minutes until the onion has softened.
2.    Add the garlic and the rest of the vegetables to the pan along with the spices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another five minutes.
3.    Rinse the red lentils and add to the pan along with the coconut milk and stock.
4.    Bring up to the boil then turn down to a simmer and leave to cook, stirring every now and again, for 20-30 minutes until all of the vegetables and the lentils are soft.
5.    Remove from the heat. Strip the leaves from the thyme and roughly chop the coriander, add to the pan and season to taste.
6.    Use a stick blender to blend the soup until it is completely smooth then serve with your favourite bread, enjoy!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Cheese & Marmite Scones

Cheese & Marmite Scones
The best way to eat these is to warm them up and add lashings of butter.

Serves 8-10
Prep time:  10 minutes
Cooking time:  10-12 minutes

280g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
50g cold butter, cut into cubes
75g mature cheddar, grated (plus 50g extra for topping)
1 egg
1 ½ tbsp Marmite
5 tbsp milk, plus extra to glaze

Preparation method

1.    Heat oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7. Mix the flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl with the salt. Add the butter and rub with your fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (or use a food processor). Stir in 75g of the cheese and make a well in the centre.
2.    Whisk the egg, marmite and milk together and pour into the well and bring the mixture together to make a soft, but not sticky dough. Add a little more milk if the dough is too dry.
3.    Turn onto a floured surface, then roll out to about 2cm thick. Stamp out 4 scones using a round cutter, then gather the trimmings and repeat until all the dough has been used. Put on a baking sheet, brush with milk and scatter over the remaining 50g of cheese. Bake for 10-12 mins until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
4.    Serve with lashings of butter, enjoy!

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Best Chicken Enchiladas

The Best Chicken Enchiladas
These have to be the best chicken enchiladas that I have ever tasted!  They are quite spicy so if you don’t like a dish to be too hot reduce the amount of chilli powder and chillies.  This dish can be prepared in advance and placed in the oven when your guests arrive.

Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

900ml chicken stock
4 chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
½ tbsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp hot chilli powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
Freshly ground salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g passatta
3 green chillies, deseeded & finely chopped
150g mature cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp sour cream
8 flour tortillas
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Enchilada Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp hot chilli powder
400g/14 oz passatta
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
Freshly ground salt & pepper

To serve
Sour cream
Small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped


1.  In a large pan bring the chicken stock to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Place the chicken breasts in the pan, cover with the lid and let poach for 10 minutes.  Take off the heat and leave in the pan for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the chicken, shred and set aside.

2.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cook until softened.  Add the herbs, spices, salt, pepper and garlic. 

3.  Add the passata and chillies, bring to the boil then add the shredded chicken.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, add a splash of water if the mixture becomes to dry.

4.  Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

5.  For the Enchilada sauce, heat the oil in a pan and then add the flour and chilli powder.  Stir over a medium to low heat for 2 minutes.  Slowly add the passata stirring continuously to make sure you have a smooth consistency.  Add the garlic and cumin and a dash of water if the sauce is too thick.  Keep stirring and let simmer until it reduces to a thick tomato sauce, season to taste.

6.  When the chicken mixture is ready add 1/3 of the grated cheese, sour cream and coriander, mix until the cheese has melted.

7.   Lightly oil an oven proof dish, take a flour tortilla and place a 1/8 of the mixture inside and roll it.  Place in the dish and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

8.  Pour the Enchilada sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.  Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese begins to turn golden.

9.  To serve, divide between serving plates and top with sour cream and a sprinkling of coriander, enjoy!