Simple Coq au Vin

It’s old-fashioned but it’s wet & windy and this went down a treat tonight. Easy, warming, delicious. Would feed about 4 hungry adults – 1 adult and 2 children failed to eat half of this, the left-overs are a freezer treat to come.

  • 1 medium or small chicken
  • 1 bottle of full-bodied red wine
  • 1 onion
  • 3 miserable carrots, chopped chunkily
  • a few manky bits of limp celery
  • 1 chicken stock cube or stockpot
  • some sprigs of thyme
  • 3 bay leaves – if you have three leaves left
  • a few chunks of celeriac (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • salt’n'pepa (push it)
  • 100g lardons/pancetta/bacon
  • 1 fat clove garlic

Put the oven on around 170C. In a casserole with a sploosh of olive oil fry the bacon chunks with the onion, carrots, celery, cleriac until soft. Remove them from the casserole and then brown the whole chicken (seasoned with salt’n'pepa mmm baby baby) all over. Remove the chicken and put the other ingredients back in the dish. Add the flour and stir as you gradually add the brandy, stock cube and the wine. A whole bottle. Do it. You will thank me.

When your mix is bubbling and getting a bit thick, chuck the chicken back in with the bay leaves and thyme. Cover and cook in the oven for an hour or two, turning the carcass twice during the process.

Remove the chicken and reduce the sauce on the hob for 10 minutes or so. Pull the chicken apart and serve with lashings of the rich red wine sauce, vegetables – and I made some small rosemary roast potatoes to go with this, which absorbed that delicious red wine sauce just beautfully.

Nigel Slater: you showed me what to do. You showed me what to do…

 

 

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Easy peasy quesadillas

Quesadillas are so easy to make, I can’t believe we’ve never tried them before – especially since we have Mexican food every couple of weeks. We made potato and chorizo ones, but I’ll outline a couple of possible alternatives at the end.

This is a simplified version of a recipe in Mexican Food by Wahaca-founder Thomasina Miers. Feeds 4.

  • 4 large, plain flour tortilla wraps
  • 200g chorizo – whole not sliced
  • 1 ball mozzarella cheese, torn into chunks
  • 4 large handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 500g potato
  • fresh thyme
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

Peel and cut the potato into 1cm cubes. Fry until soft, then set aside. In the same pan, fry the onion until soft, then add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Cut the chorizo into chunks, put the potato back in with the thyme and fry for several minutes until everything combined and the potatoes have taken on a glorious reddish hue.

Spread a quarter of the mix on half a wrap, and add the cheese. Fold it over and squish down flat so you have a semi-circle. Brush with olive oil and cook on a hot griddle for a minute or two, flipping over and cooking both sides until the cheese melts. They will have pleasing scorch lines on them from the griddle and be slightly crisp and crunchy. Cut the half moon in to 3 or 4 wedges and serve – we had them with salsa, slaw and guacamole.

We also made a pescatarian version with prawns, smoked paprika and a dollop of pibil chilli sauce. Plenty of scope for veggie alternatives too – I’d like to try making them with squeaky cheese (aka halloumi).

No photos as they didn’t hang around long enough to snap. Delicious, quick & easy!

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Christmassy red cabbage

I was trying to make Nigella’s red cabbage from her Christmas book, but I didn’t have the right spices and I mistook pomegranate juice for cranberry – it worked rather well, certainly much sweeter than my usual winter red cabbage.

  • 1 red cabbage
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • tsp sea salt
  • 2 eating apples
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • grated nutmeg
  • tiny bit of ground cinnamon
  • carton of cranberry juice drink

Cut the red onion into large, but quite thin, slices. In a thick-bottommed casserole or saucepan, fry the onion for 10 mins or so in the oil with the salt so they go soft but not brown. Add the diced apple, cook for a few more minutes. Add the spices, sugar and cabbage then cover with the cranberry juice drink and bring to the boil, then simmer, with the lid on, on a very low heat for a couple of hours – or put it in a very low oven.

This tastes better the longer you leave it. We had it with roast chicken and I froze the leftovers for Christmas day. Delicious!

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Bonne Dimanche breakfast toastie

Bonne Dimanche

Ok, this is about as French as cricket, but I was listening to fip as I was eating this, and the presenter wished her listeners a ‘bonne Dimanche’. Bonne Dimanche indeed.

To feed one person you will need:

  • 2 slices off a large white crusty loaf of bread
  • 1 rasher of bacon
  • A sausage opened out, or a sausage-amount of sausage meat
  • A slice of cheese (I used Emmental)
  • Condiments of choice

Put the grill on! On some foil, flatten out the sausage meat so it’s the same shape and size as your bread. The idea here is that it cooks much more quickly than a normal sausage. Put it under a medium-high grill with the bacon.

When the bacon and sausage are looking cooked on one side, flip them and put the bread under the grill. Keep an eye on it.

When the bread is toasted on one side, flip it over, put the sausage meat on one slice and add the cheese on top. Keep under the grill for a minute or two until all the meat is cooked and cheese melted.

Assemble and eat with condiments like tomato ketchup or American mustard.

SonA had a fried egg in his as well, but I think that’s de trop.

Bonne Dimanche

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Pea, prawn & mint risotto

Dead quick and easy risotto. This was utterly delicious. Serves 2 very hungry people, or 3 normal people.

You will need:

  • 200g risotto rice
  • a large mug full of frozen peas
  • half a large onion or 1 small onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 glass of dry white Vermouth
  • optional: a thimbleful of pastis / Pernod
  • optional: a homeopathic quantity of shrimp paste
  • a large mug full of prawns – I used frozen cooked ones, just use whatever your budget allows
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, washed
  • a few dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 Sainsbury’s Basics chicken stock cube (or veg stock if you must)
  • parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, olive oil, water
  • half a lemon

This is what you do:

In a small saucepan, simmer the stock cube, frozen peas, porcini, shrimp paste (and prawns if they are frozen) with half a litre or so of water. Chop half the mint and add to the stock.

Finely chop the onion, garlic and celery. In a large frying pan with a lid, fry in olive oil on a low heat until soft & translucent.

Chuck in the risotto rice and turn the heat up. When the rice is starting to go translucent, but before it burns, throw in the vermouth. Inhale deeply. Life doesn’t get better than this.

Add the pastis at this point if you have some. Turn the heat down and stir. You’ve gotta keep stirring. As the liquid gets incorporated, add stock a ladleful at a time. If a few peas, mushrooms or prawns get in, no matter. Keep stirring. I know the phone’s ringing. Ignore it. Keep stirring.

When you run out of stock and added all the prawns & peas, taste the risotto. Adjust seasoning with some sea salt and plenty of pepper. If the rice isn’t cooked, add a bit of boiling water from the kettle. Keep stirring. You want the rice and celery to have a little bit of crunch left.

When it’s cooked, add big shavings of parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler. Stir. Put the lid on and leave for 5 minutes.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and the rest of the mint leaves, whilst listening to fip and drinking cold white wine. Then watch Jules et Jim.

 

 

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Chipotle baked beans

This is the easiest thing in the world. And we love easy at Suppertime!

breakfast

You will need

  • 1 tin of Heinz baked beans
  • half tsp of cumin
  • half tsp ground coriander
  • half tsp smoked paprika (or less – this makes it really spicy)
  • one small dried chipotle, crumbled

Put the beans in a pan on the hob, add the spices and simmer slowly for at least half an hour. Even tastier for breakfast the next day on toasted left-over soda bread (pictured here mixed with some left-over French tinned cassoulet).

breakfast

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Fusion Chilli

I love chilli. I love filling, meaty feasts like Jamie Oliver’s brisket chilli. I also love the fast-food flavours of Meat Liquor’s genius layover chilli, as used to great effect in their Chilli Cheese Fries. Tonight I combined the two.

  • 800g beef brisket
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • half tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 fresh red chillis
  • 1 beef stock cube or pot
  • 1 can of cooking beer
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp French’s American mustard
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Put the oven on at 200 C. Cut deep slices into the brisket. Rub the spices with salt & pepper into the meat. In a casserole fry the chopped onion until translucent, then add the garlic and sliced peppers and thinly sliced red chillis. Cook for a bit longer on a low heat, then whack the heat up and fry the brisket. Then add the tinned tomatoes, beer, beef stock, ketchup, tomato puree, mustard and bring to the boil. If needed, top up with water. Put a lid on, turn the over down low (I went down to 100C) and leave in there for 3 or 4 hours.

Then remove the meat, put the sauce on the stove and simmer vigorously to thicken, adding the vinegar and chopped coriander. Pull the beef apart with a couple of forks, and re-immerse in the liquid.

Serve in wraps, with rice, grated cheese and sour cream. Delicious!

Whilst cooking this, I also invented Tequila Rice. I can confirm that tequila does not add enough flavour to rice to warrant flambé-ing half your hair off.

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Kut-price kurrywurst

Okay, I’m not proud of this. In fact, I’m quite ashamed. I wasn’t even full of Kölsch as an excuse. I can merely blame the Meat Liquor cookbook and Son A for making me make Currywurst.

Serves 4. You will need:

  • 1 packet of Lidl bratwurst.
  • 1 jar of Sainsbury’s Basics Curry Sauce
  • Heinz ketchup
  • skinny oven fries

Sainsbury’s Basics curry sauce is currently on sale for THIRTY PENCE for a large jar, same size as their ‘Chinese Chip Shop Curry Sauce’ which is around FIVE TIMES more expensive. The cheaper sauce has less salt, less fat and fits the bill perfectly.

I fried the bratwurst, but next time I’ll grill them and I grilled the skinny oven fries. I heated the curry sauce in a small saucepan with a very large squirt of ketchup.

When the fried are crispy, serve with the sausages and douse in curry sauce / ketchup mix. EAT. And feel very, very guilty.

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Boy vs Food: the Brunch Wrap Supreme

My boys are big fans of Man vs Food and Epic Meal Time, and Son B (he’s the happy chappy in our banner, but 12 years old now) decided to have a go at making the latter’s Brunch Wrap Supreme. We’re British, so we’ve cut it down a bit…

Feeds 3.

  • 6 tortilla wraps
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 sausages
  • 3 rashers of bacon
  • splash of milk
  • butter & vegetable oil
  • half tsp vanilla extract
  • half tsp ground cinnamon
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 slices processed cheese (the more artificial the better)

Put the grill on, and cook the sausages and bacon. Use 3 eggs to make 1 plain batch of scrambled eggs. Place 1 slice of cheese on each of the 3 wraps and divide eggs equally among 3 wraps. Slice the cooked bacon & sausages and do the same, piling everything up in the middle. Trim 3 wraps so they are slightly smaller, place on top of each wrap, and fold the bottom over to make a tight package.

Now we did the next bit different ways.

You can fry this wrap on both sides until golden brown and serve with scrambled eggs made with cinnamon and vanilla, or you can fry the wrap quickly on both sides, dip in the vanilla / cinnamon scrambled egg mix and fry again. I actually preferred the first way. EAT.

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Quick, amazing meatballs with pasta

We all love Ikea meatballs, right? Tonight I decided to skip the mash, gravy and lingonberry jam, and go with pasta instead. But what sauce to make..? I made this up (with a smidge of MEATLiquor-inspiration) and it was plate-licking good.

Serves 1 adult, 2 teenagers & 1 child.

Ingredients:

  • 400g good quality pasta (I used De Cecco miniature penne)
  • 23 frozen Ikea meatballs
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
  • half an onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 fat clove of garlic
  • heaped teaspoon of sugar
  • squirt of Heinz tomato ketchup
  • half a bottle of red wine
  • half a Knorr beef stockpot thingy
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flour
  • half teaspoon each of chilli powder, dried oregano, dried thyme
  • salt, pepper
  • some fresh basil & parmesan to garnish

Put the oven on – 225 degrees C – for the meatballs.

Finely chop the onion and fry on a low heat in the oil. As it starts to colour, add the garlic, chilli powder, thyme and oregano. Fry for another minute or so, taking care the garlic doesn’t burn. Slowly add the wine and then the beef stock cube. Add a can of tomatoes and a can of water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 or 1o minutes and add the Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, small amount of salt, pepper, sugar. Then add the sieved flour, and when you are happy everything is  cooked, blitz with a hand-blender. Check the seasoning, add ketchup to taste. Simmer and reduce for 15 minutes or so while you cook the pasta on the stove and meatballs in the oven.

You should end up with a thick, rich sauce. When the meatballs are cooked, plop them in the sauce pan (hey, I wonder if that’s where the name comes from…) so they soak up that umami-rich loveliness. Dish up a portion of pasta on each plate, add meatballs & sauce on top, garnish with shaved parmesan and fresh basil. EAT.

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