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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Burger-style bacon sarnie

Bit of a happy experiment – lacking the peanut butter required for a Dead Elvis (Nigella has a healthy version here – healthier than the MEATLiquor book one, at any rate), I decided to make a burger-style bacon sandwich instead. Fry the bacon until it’s cripsy, once flipped add a slice of the cheapest, most-processed cheese you can find to the top of the bacon and leave in the pan until it melts. Place between two slices of thick white bread garnished with Heinz ketchup, French’s American mustard, shredded lettuce plus possibly mayo, sliced tomato and a dill pickle. EAT.

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Red Snapper

Not, I must admit, the fish. The drink.

I have long held it an unassailable truth that the greatest drink in the world is the Bloody Mary. I have strong views on how it should be made (chiefly: no horseradish, no stick of celery).

But after reading The MEATLiquor Chronicles, that has all changed. I discovered the unholy / holy marriage that occurs when you swap the vodka for gin and add a dash of absinthe. This drink is just indescribably, insanely great. It’s as different from a Bloody Mary as Dr Pepper is from vintage champagne.

They are quite firm in the MEATLiquor book on not over-spicing. Now I agree, but I think even their recipe is a bit over-generous on the Tabasco. So here’s my take. Serves 1 (rather than the 8 given in the book. Though I could probably drink 8).

  • 12 cm high glass
  • ice
  • 5 ml absinthe (or more – I think more)
  • tomato juice (unspiced)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 scant tsp Tabasco sauce (or less)
  • 1 tsp dill pickle juice
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • shake of celery salt
  • shake of cayenne pepper
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • shake of smoked paprika
  • half a teaspoon icing sugar
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • GIN!

Fill your glass with ice cubes. Pour in and swill round the absinthe. Three-quarter fill the glass with tomato juice. Add all the other ingredients and stir/shake vigorously. DRINK.

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Spicy red cabbage

The smell of this filling the house on Christmas morning is divine…

  • Half a red cabbage
  • small onion, cut in quarters
  • 5 cloves
  • tsp mixed spice
  • 1 large apple
  • tablespoon dark sugar
  • glass of red wine
  • vegetable stock
  • butter

Heat the pan and melt the butter. Add the onion and sliced cabbage. Fry until soft, then add the spices, apple, wine and stock. Bring to the boil, put a lid on and simmer on a very low heat for an hour or two. Heavenly.

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Breakfast Burritos

SonA wanted one of these monsters with custom bacon tortillas for Christmas Eve breakfast. I didn’t quite have the time (or the stomach) for that, so I simplified…

Makes 3 burritos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 huge potato (or 3 small ones)
  • 1 medium or small onion
  • some fresh chillis
  • half a red pepper, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 sausages of choice
  • 5 rashers of bacon
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil
  • smoked paprika
  • chilli sauces of choice
  • 200g grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 tortillas / wraps

Put the grill on, grill the sausages and bacon. Remove the bacon when crispy.

Peel and grate the potato and onion – I used a food processor and picked the gratings out by hand to leave the juice out. Fry the potato and onion in a big pan. If it sticks and goes brown in places, so much the better. Add the diced red pepper, fresh chilli, salt, pepper, some smoked paprika. After about 10 minutes, chop the crispy bacon into chunks and add to the pan, stir. Crack in 3 eggs and mix, stirring until the egg is cooked. Then add the cheese and stir until melted.

Now get your 3 tortillas and place a cooked sausage in the middle of each. Surround the sausage with the mixture from the pan, and add your chilli sauce of choice at this point (we like the Wahaca ones). Fold your burrito and quickly grill them in the same tray you cooked the bacon and sausage in.

I’d have taken a better photo, but they didn’t hang around long enough. Not quite as epic as Epic Meal Time’s, but a whole lot quicker and easier. And so, so tasty. We could all have eaten another one…

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