Gunpowder, treason and one pot

good books

I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion….Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market gardeners.

-George Orwell

The month of November annually bursts onto the scene with an explosion of colour, numerous ear-splitting bumps in the night and of course, an abundance of delicious treats! In the early nineties, at a time when I was knee high to a grass-hopper, my mother used to cook a memorable bonfire night feast consisting of piles of sausages, a mountain of mashed potato and a cauldron of beans. Yes, it was a simple meal but I still look upon those early November nights rather fondly. There is something so satisfying about feeding oneself, family and friends at this time of year. Nothing says “fill me with love and warmth” quite like a homemade pie or in my case, a one pot meal. I know a ‘one pot’ sounds a little lack lustre but honestly, after a day of work (or even slogging away in the library), the smell of some slow cooked meat warming over a hot stove is the cat’s pyjamas or something of that nature.

photo (2) photo

Evidence that cats really do wear pyjamas.

Evolutionized cats aside, this past week I have been trialling a fair few one pot meals that are both healthy and delicious. Suitable for little ones and big ones these simple yet flavoursome dishes are well worth sampling. Once the food is prepared and on the heat, all the dishes with the exception of the risotto can be left to cook slowly allowing you time to have a sit down, sip a glass of wine and relax.

meat

Homemade Spicy Meatballs

(serves 4-5)

500g of beef mince

Tbsp of chopped rosemary

Tbsp of oregano

Tsp of cinnamon

Two garlic cloves

Plain flour

One egg

Handful of breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl, break up the mince with your hands. Add the rosemary, oregano and cinnamon. Finely chop the garlic and add to the bowl along with the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Finally, add a little of the egg and try to bind the mixture. You may need more, sometimes you need less. The mince needs to be of a consistency whereby you can shape it into small ball-shape (no bigger than a golf ball should be your aim) without it being too sticky or two flimsy and dry. Place a large saucepan on a medium heat with a lug of oil and dust the meatballs in a little salt and peppered plain flour. Similar to dousing meat in flower before you make a casserole, the flour keeps in the flavour of the meat. Fry the balls in small number as they will cook better and faster this way. Overload the pan and they won’t cook properly and most likely, burn. Once they meatballs are brown on all sides and you can see that they are cooked all the way through, let them ‘rest’. Meaning, put them on a plate on the side. Cooking talk sounds quite fancy doesn’t it?! Onwards to the chili tomato sauce we go….

Meatball Sauce

Two big white onions

One red chilli (finely chopped)

One red pepper

One yellow pepper

Two tins of chopped tomatoes

Two cloves of garlic

Tsp dried chillies

Salt and pepper

Finely chop the onions and add to a pan with a glug of oil over a low heat. Move the onions about the pan with a wooden spoon and add the fresh chilli and press the garlic into the pot too. The smell should be wonderful! Once the onions become translucent, add the peppers and the chopped tomatoes. With one of the cans, fill half way with water and add to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper and taste. If you like spice add the dried chillies and then put the lid on the pot and let it simmer. After ten minutes or so, add the meatballs and cook for a further ten minutes. Serve with rice and enjoy!

chicken

Yoghurt Chicken

(serves 4-5)

One box of chicken thighs

One box of chicken breasts

300ml of natural yoghurt

100ml of double cream

50g of butter

Four shallots

300ml of chicken stock

Dried tarragon

Tsp of mustard

Salt and pepper

In a big pot, melt the butter on a low heat and add the chicken. The chicken will turn a lovely golden colour. Make sure to keep turning the chicken over, once cooked add the chopped shallots, salt and pepper and a tsp of tarragon. Let the mixture cook for ten minutes or so and then add the stock. Put the lid on, turn the heat down and leave to simmer for ten minutes. After the allotted time, pour the chicken mixture into an oven proof dish and add the natural yoghurt and double cream. Add a little more seasoning and place in the oven (180ºC) for ten minutes and then it’s ready to serve, ideally with rice and green vegetables.

risotto

Prawn and Pea Risotto

(serves 5)

Glug of oil

Three shallots

Two cloves of garlic

Tsp dried chillies

One bag of risotto rice

Glass of white wine

500ml of fish stock

Three handfuls of frozen peas

500g prawns

Parmesan

Finely chop the shallots and place them in a pan over a low heat with a glug of oil. Add the chillies and garlic and stir together. Once the shallots are translucent, add the risotto rice and stir quickly. After two minutes add a little of the stock and keep stirring. The key to this recipe is to simply stir constantly. Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, pour half of the glass in wine into the risotto and a little more stock. Keep up the process until you have a little stock left. Add the peas, the prawns and the final amount of stock. Season and grate a heavy dose of parmesan over the rice. Serve immediately, with extra cheese and a nice glass of wine.

One pots aside, there are even greater wintry dishes to be enjoyed this November. It is commonly known that the Germans celebrate Christmas with an undeniable flair and so, we move towards a delicious and in fact, a fairly nutritious desert, the classic strudel. I’m sure a fair few of you have seen Tarentino’s epic film Inglorious Basterds? Well, I haven’t been able to forget that terrifying scene with Shosanna, (the jewish girl that manages to run away in the gestapo in the first scene), and Hans Landa nicknamed the Jew Hunter, when they share a strudel together over an interrogation. Lovely. Electrifying cinema aside, the strudel looked sublime. Last week a friend of mine (an actual circus runaway who is taking some Shakespeare to Europe on a bike! Click the handlebards link below!), asked if we could make a strudel and so, behold our little flaky pastry goodness. I chose a Caluccio recipe and the orange flavour is gorgeous. Servings wise I suggest cream. Yes, cream is good. Stay tuned for further strudel delights next week as I spotted a chocolate and raspberry version online. Ohhhh…

strudel

As previously mentioned, the winter nights require a certain type of food. I am aware that the word ‘stodge’ sends people running in the opposite direction however, a certain amount of calories are needed to keep up your energy levels and as I like to say, keep the Christmas pouch in play. Rather than running to a bar of chocolate, it’s much better for you to have a piece of homemade cake. Less bad sugar and just as satisfying. I recommend my apple and caramel cake to fill that 4pm sugar void.

apple cake

Apple and Caramel Cake

Five apples, peeled and finely sliced

Tsp of cinnamon

250g of caster sugar

Tsp of bicarbonate of soda

150ml of double cream

200g self-raising flour

200g unsalted butter

4 eggs

Place 25g of caster sugar over a low heat. Stir the mixture by shaking the pan and remember to NOT stir with a spoon. To make a caramel you must never stir the sugar otherwise it turns to toffee. Once the sugar has melted, add the further 25g and let it melt again. Add the double cream and mix together by stirring the pan with the handle. Add the apples and set to the side. Next, in another bowl cream the remaining sugar (200g) with the butter. Add the remaining ingredients; eggs, flour, cinnamon and soda. Mix together well. Take the baking tin, butter it and pour into the bottom the apple caramel. Finally, pour the cake mix on top of the caramel and place in an oven at 180ºC for about half an hour. To check if the cake is ready, if you press the sponge and it bounces back, it is good to go. Serve by tipping the cake upside down onto a plate (while hot) and eat instantly. Yum!

And finally, ladies and gentlemen, we reach the climax of our culinary spectacular. Today I leave you with something particularly naughty and excessively indulgent; one could almost argue that it’s Nigella in a bowl. What a thought!? This little treat should be consumed on a sofa, surrounded by blankets, while watching some Monty Python…

ice 2

White Chocolate and Raspberry Ice Cream

200g of raspberries

6 egg yolks

100g caster sugar

300ml full fat milk

300ml double cream

125g of white chocolate

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (glass bowl over a pan of boiling water) and while it is melting prepare the custard. Beat together the sugar and the egg yolks and place the milk on a low heat until it starts bubble. Without letting the milk boil, take it off the heat and combine with the yolks and sugar. Once mixed in, put the mixture back on a low heat and add the cream. After a few minutes the custard will thicken. Take the custard off  the heat once again and add the now, melted chocolate and all the raspberries torn up. Pour it all into an ice cream maker and leave for an hour and a half. Finally, put the frozen mixture in a box and place in the freezer. It should be ready within 6-7 hours. If you don’t have a machine, pour into a plastic box and put into the freezer. For the next three hours take the box out on the hour, and bash up the crystals.

ice

I hope these recipes will suffice for now. I have lots of ideas coming your way so, do keep checking my blog regularly. Next week prepare yourselves for homemade spiced cordials to warm your cockles, maybe some actual cockles too and oh, some lovely pistachio biscuits…..

Until next week!

E. Wells

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