Bolognese with Hidden Veg

1 May

Bolognese

I am 29-years-old and this is the first time I have ever cooked bolognese. Mince has always grossed me out. I never had it when I was little – it just wasn’t a staple in our house – which meant if someone’s mum announced we were having bolognese I would end up quite happy with a bowl of plain pasta in front of me instead.

But look at me now! I have grown as a person, I am wandering new pastures, staring straight into the unknown… And I liked it. I made this because the nine-year-old loves bolognese and I have watched him eat it countless times and order it in restaurants. And it was totally worth it: “This is the best bolognese I have ever eaten!” Awww. “I usually hate bolognese and never eat it.”

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Anyway. This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe but I ‘hid’ some extra veg in it because that’s what passive aggressive adults do in 2018 instead of shouting at the table about starving children. It makes a HUGE amount so make sure you have room in the freezer. We had linguine with ours rather than spaghetti because I find the latter slimy and horrid. I have no idea what you mean by ‘picky eater’.

  • 2 aubergines
  • 3 red peppers
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 rosemary sprigs finely chopped
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • Beef stock cube
  • 400ml boiling water
  • Tin of chopped tomators
  • Tomato purée
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 bay leaves, I used the dry ones as the boxes seem to breed in the cupboard

Unless you have a huge amount of patience or enough knife skills that you wouldn’t be reading this anyway, use a food processor to finely chop the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Finely slice the rosemary and the bacon with a sharp knife.

Add a little oil to a large pan on a low heat and chuck everything in. Soften it up and then raise the heat slightly to start it turning golden. Add the mince and whack up the heat. Keep stirring and cook until the meat is all browned and all the liquid has cooked away.

In go the tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato purée, the same of red wine vinegar, bay leaves, the stock cube, and the boiling water. Season well with salt and pepper, stir everything in and bring to the boil before reducing the heat. Simmer for about an hour giving it a stir now and then.

While your sauce is bubbling away prick the aubergines with a knife and put them and the red peppers on a tray lined with tinfoil. Pop them in the oven at 200°c/gas mark 6 for around 40 minutes and then leave to one side to cool. Once you can handle them peel the peppers and remove the seeds and scoop the flesh out of the aubergines. Pop them in a blender or food processor until smoothish. I used the NutriBullet because otherwise it only gets used for frozen margaritas.

Once the sauce has reduced and thickened add in your blended vegetables. Keep the lid off and cook for around 15 minutes until it’s a consistency you like, adding more water if it looks too dry.

Stir through pasta and eat with loads of Parmesan. The wine was grown-ups only.

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There is no nice way to photograph mince.

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Chilli and Homemade Tortilla Chips

17 Jan

I made a big batch of chilli on Sunday and decided to finish it off tonight while trying my hand at tortilla chips.

Every time I see someone (it’s always Jamie Oliver) make these I’m slightly sceptical because when it comes to anything like crisps, homemade just always flops miserably in comparison.

APART FROM… drumroll please… these.

They’re crispy, crunchy and just salty enough, though I will admit they definitely have that baked taste to them.

Heat the oven to 200°c and cut up plain old tortillas into quarters. Lightly brush both sides with sunflower oil or similar. Sprinkle over a small pinch of salt – do this from a height as it spreads more evenly.

Bake for around 10 minutes or until crisp, turning half way through.

I’m going to make them again soon and eat my body weight of guacamole before going into a shame spiral.

I called them nachos on Instagram but that’s because I’m an idiot. They aren’t, but you could make them for that, I’m just throwing ideas at you.

Pea and Mushroom Croquetas

23 Jul

Croquetas

These Spanish croquetas are a Jamie Oliver recipe from Jamie Does, but with the ham filling swapped out for peas and mushrooms because I used to LOVE these at Pizza East Portobello.

They take a little bit of time because you need to let the filling chill in the fridge for at least an hour, but they are worth it. I usually serve them as a starter for about four people, or you can go mad and just have them for lunch like I did the other day.

You need:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 75g flour, plus 100g extra for coating the croquetas
  • 300ml milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated nutmeg
  • 50g finely grated Manchego cheese
  • 2 – 3 mushrooms, chopped into chunks
  • ½ handful peas
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 1 – 2 eggs
  • Enough vegetable oil to fry with

Croquetas

First things first – you need to make a béchamel. Put the butter and the oil in a small pan on a very low heat. Once the butter has melted completely start adding in the 75g of flour, a spoonful at a time. After each one mix well and get rid of any lumps before adding the next one. Once you’ve got a paste add the milk in the same way, a splash at a time, stirring until everything is combined and it’s lump-free. I always find that I spend most of my time worrying that it’s all gone wrong, or is never going to work, and then the next thing I know the whole thing is done and looks great.

Croquetas

Keep it on the heat, stirring a bit, until the mixture becomes really, really thick. It’s one of those things when you’ll just know when it’s done. Season with the salt, pepper, and a decent pinch of nutmeg. Stir through the cheese, peas and mushrooms and leave to cool before popping in the fridge for an hour minimum.

When you’re ready to cook you’ll need to set up a production line: One plate of flour, one of beaten egg, one of breadcrumbs (I pop mine through the food processor to get them as fine as I can).

Take a tablespoon of your mixture and shape into a little barrel. Gently roll in the flour, then in a light coating of egg, and then the breadcrumbs.

Croquetas

Once you’ve finished you’re mixture you’re ready to fry! Add about half an inch of vegetable oil to a frying pan, get it nice and hot, and brown the croquetas all over.

Pop them on a plate, scrunch over some good sea salt, add some lemon wedges to squeeze over and you’re done!

Croquetas

Cheat’s Thai Red Curry

9 Jun

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I’m not a huge fan of Thai food in general, but I bloody love a good red curry. I also love being able to make something tasty in under 20 minutes and not have to faff about, and that’s where the cheating comes in…

This is made with shop-bought curry paste. From a jar. GASP!

So, to make enough for two, you need:

  • A jar of red curry paste (I like Waitrose’s own-brand one best)
  • One or two red chillies
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Just under an inch of ginger
  • Three spring onions
  • A can of coconut milk
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • Teaspoon of fish sauce
  • Two chicken breasts
  • A handful of green beans, the same of baby corn, and again of broccoli (you can use frozen veg too). Really, you can add any veg you like. I’m not the boss of you.

Peel the garlic and ginger and finely chop both. Cut the spring onion and the chilli into thin rounds and very gently fry it all in some vegetable oil in a deep pan.

Add two or three tablespoons of the curry paste and let that fry for a minute or two.

Pour in the can of coconut milk, add the chicken stock and your fish sauce, and after a good stir let it come to a gentle boil.

Chop your chicken and veg into manageable chunks and once the pot is bubbling tip it all in and let it simmer for around ten minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve it with sticky rice, a scattering of fresh chilli, and something rubbish on Netflix.

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Guinness lamb shanks 

20 May


I stole this recipe off Jamie Oliver (with a few changes) because I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a recipe of his that’s gone wrong.

I made this for my boyfriend and his son, who, just so you know, gave every bit 10 out of 10 and I’m smug about it. Also I went all the way to sodding Croydon to my storage unit just for some kitchen equipment so I had to actually use it.

This takes some time but is gorgeous. Rich and hearty.

Ingredients: (for two):

  • Two lamb shanks
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon marmalade
  • Half a tablespoon of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worscestershire sauce
  • 170ml Guinnness
  • 5 sprigs of rosemary, leaves off the woody bits and finely chopped
  • 500ml chicken stock

In a casserole (or in pans and then bung it all together like I do) on a medium heat with a bit of vegetable oil cook the onions – Jamie says until they caramelise but this is bollocks. That takes forever. Literally an hour minimum. Just cook them gently until they start to brown without crisping up.

Stir in the marmalade, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and a good bit of salt and pepper. It’ll go lovely and gooey and nice. Then chuck in the rosemary.


Add the Guinness and keep everything very gently simmering on a low heat.

Brown the lamb shanks in vegetable oil until they’ve got a good colour all over.

Pour the chicken stock into the Guinness and onions and stir. Add the lamb shanks, put the lid on and bung in the oven at 160°c/gas mark 3.

Cook for two and a half hours, then turn the meat.


Cook for another two and a half hours or until the lamb is falling off the bone.

Remove the meat and stick it back in the oven for ten minutes uncovered.

While you do this whizz the liquid and onions etc up in a blender (thank you Croydon) and then put on a medium/high heat on the stove to reduce until thick.


After the ten minutes in the oven take the lamb out to rest under tinfoil for at least another ten minutes. While you do this your gravy will become unctuous. I just really wanted to use that word.

Plate up, pour over the sauce. Serve with all butter mash, because what other mash is there? and lots of greens you have to force boys big and small to eat.

Potato and goats cheese tart

16 May

 

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Aaaarrrrrgh I love this. SO many carbs. All the carbs. And cheese. Cut me open and I’m basically a breathing Breville.

This is a really simple lunch or supper, great served with a big green salad. Imagine I’ve added it into the photo on MS Paint.

Ingredients:

  • Pre-made puff pastry because let’s be honest who can be buggered otherwise
  • A large red onion
  • Three potatoes
  • A log of goats cheese (without the rind probably better melty-wise)
  • A few springs of fresh thyme
  • Fresh black pepper

Peel and boil your potatoes. I know this is super complicated but I have faith in you.

Slice your onions into thick half rounds and in a frying pan on a very low heat gently cook them in a little olive oil until they start to caramelise. Though this seems to take about eighty years usually so just sweat them until they start to brown unless you’re really relaxed and have time.

Score a box about two centimetres in from the edge of your pastry. Lightly oil some grease-proof paper and pop it on top on an oven tray. Cut your potatoes nice and thin and then layer them over. Just look at that. Carb city.

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Sprinkle (dollop) your onions over the top and add slices of goats cheese. Take the leaves off the thyme and scatter over the top, with a good scrunch of black pepper and drizzle over a tiny bit of olive oil. You don’t need any salt because of the cheese. I added salt when I ate it because I’d bought some sort of organic bullshit and it was sad.

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Pop it into the oven at 180°c/gas mark 4 for about 15 minutes, or until everything is golden and yummy. It also makes fantastic leftovers.

You can thank me later. I accept cash and travellers cheques.

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Steak and ale pie

15 May

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Hi there, don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s mid-May! You can tell by the grey sky, sheeting rain and the fact I am regretting taking my coat to my mum’s to make more room in my wardrobe.

Basically, it’s comfort food weather. Sod your bikini body salads, it’s best to keep that little sleeping bag of going-up-a-size on until it warms up. I made this pie before spring sprang and then promptly dropped dead, but forgot to blog about it, so thanks to the shitty weather you’re getting it now. It’ll help, I promise.

I used the Grauniad’s How to cook the perfect… for this so it’s almost an exact copy based on it.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t want to hear your whinging about how this is a casserole in a hat, I get enough of this at home. Christ.

You need:

  • 800g of ox cheek – I did puppy eyes in Waitrose so the man at the meat counter cut it into chunks for me. A butcher will do this, or you’ll need a super sharp knife
  • 15g plain flour
  • 200g lardons
  • 250g chopped white onion
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 400ml Fullers Golden Pride ale
  • Four or five sprigs of thyme, leaves off the stems
  • Two sprigs of rosemary, leaves off the stems
  • A bay leaf. Just one. Then you’ll realise you already have three boxes of them in the cupboard
  • 1 tablespoon of dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
  • Ready-made shortcrust or puff pastry
  • A marrow bone for a funnel if you’re feeling proper fancy

Season the flour and coat your ox cheek in it, I find it easiest to do this with my hands. It’ll help the meat brown beautifully, but if you don’t have any don’t panic. Brown it off in a frying pan on the stove on a high heat using vegetable or rapeseed oil (or anything tasteless), but don’t bung it all in the pan or you’ll overcrowd it. Once it’s done chuck it in a large casserole dish.

Throw the lardons in the pan, turn down the heat and add the onions. Once they start to brown they all go into the casserole with the beef.

Pour over your ale and the stock (hot, please!), then in go the herbs, sugar, vinega and cocoa. Give it all a nice stir and then get it up to a simmer. If, like me, your casserole dish won’t go on the stove, just bung it in the oven with the lid on now, at 150°c/gas mark 2. It’s a pie. It’ll be fine.

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I cooked this for about six hours, stirring when I remembered, so the beef was incredibly tender. For the last hour or so I took the lid off the dish to let the liquid reduce – I stirred it more at this point to stop the top bits from crisping up too much.

I used a little blackbird pie funnel for this, but you don’t need to worry too much if you don’t have one. If you want to show off, which I usually do, use a marrow bone instead. As it cooks the marrow will melt into your pie filling and be delish.

Egg wash the lip of the dish and place your pastry over the top, crimping the edges with a fork. Brush egg over the pastry, add on any decoration and egg wash those too. This will make it shiny and lovely and make you look like you know what you’re doing.

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I made this for my boyfriend which is why it is so romantic 

This then goes in the oven at 180°c/gas mark 4 for around 50 minutes. I served it with LOADS of all-butter mash, broccoli and red wine. We’ll pretend we ate all the broccoli.

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