Friday, 27 January 2012

Creamy Tomato and Chicken Stew

Another recent "freezer food" dish we have made a couple of times since the new addition to our family is the Creamy Tomato and Chicken Stew from the fantastic Soups Stews and Mash book.
Grandma actually introduced us to this dish when she brought round a meal for us in the first week that Olivia was home. She had modified the recipe slightly with the addition of potatoes and peas so that we wouldn't have to cook accompaniments. We have since made this recipe a couple of times, and it does freeze well and is delicious.

A quick word about the book: It was Grandma who introduced us to this book a while ago and we've since blogged the Beef and Peppercorn Stew. This book is fantastic. It has the look of an old-fashioned book, but it was actually published in 2000. It also seems that it is no longer available (on amazon anyway), but we managed to get hold of a second hand copy via ebay. Some of the recipes are quite adventurous, using different ingredients, and combinations that are not automatically thought of. The mash section is particularly inspiring. Instead of either plain mash, or sweet potato mash, there are recipes for pumpkin and white bean puree, swede and orange mash to name a couple. There is also a section of different breads to compliment the soup section.

Anyway, on to the recipe - taken straight from the book.

4 rashers bacon
2 tbsp oil
50g butter
300g small button mushrooms, halved
1.5kg chicken pieces
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g can tomatoes
1 cup/250ml chicken stock
1 cup/250ml cream
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp lemon thyme leaves

1. Chop the bacon into large pieces. Place a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Brown the bacon, then remove and set aside on paper towels.
2. Heat half the oil and a third of the butter in the pan until foaming, then stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened and golden brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pan with a little more butter. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken pieces in batches over a high heat until the skin is golden all over and a little crisp. Remove from the pan.
4. Heat the remaining butter in the pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Pour in the tomatoes, stock and cream. Return the bacon, mushrooms and chicken pieces to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Stir in the herbs, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving.

We generally use boneless and skinless chicken thighs rather than chicken pieces, and use either a mixture of herbs (dried or fresh) or normal thyme from the garden. The potatoes and peas (or any other beg you like really) can be added along with returning the mushrooms, chicken and bacon to the pan.
We do this that the way the recipe instructions read is a little faffy. Why does everything need to be cooked separately and removed from the pan. For time purposes it is much easier to cook the chicken separately, then cook the veg and bacon together, it might take a little longer but allows us to nip out of the kitchen. Not actually sure if the way the method suggests adds anything to the flavour, but it could well do?
And we've eaten this just by itself with a spoon to slurp us the delicious sauce, or it could be served with an exciting mash, or crusty bread.
This recipe was even appreciated by Nana, who is well-known within the family for not liking things with too much spice, herb, garlic, onion, pepper, or translated as "flavour"!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Lamb and Mint Casserole

This Lamb and Mint Casserole is another one pot meal of recent times. Again made in bulk with some left over to freeze for another time.
It is based on a pub meal I had some time ago, and the flavours stuck with me.
The dish is relatively inexpensive, if you can fnd lamb at a reasonable price. We actually asked the butcher for "enough for 4 people" which was about 500g, and he cubed up some lamb leg for us, but since this is slow-cooked a cheaper cut could be used.
The quantities can be adjusted to suit your liking. I personally like it a little more minty, but for the general population, I'd stick to just a couple of spoonfuls of mint sauce. Plus this time, we'd only got a glass of red wine to go in, so I upped the amount of stock to a pint, and used 2 stock cubes (and no extra seasoning).
This could probably be done in the slow cooker, with an adjustment to the liquid, but working out the quantities would require a little more brain power than we have at the moment!
I hadn't made this casserole for a while, but will do it more often now, since it was met with the exclamation "This is well nice!"

500g diced lamb
1 small bottle red wine
3/4 pint lam stock
250g mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 desert spoons mint sauce
olive oil

1. Fry the onion and mushrooms with a little olive oil in a large oven proof pan/casserole until softened.
2. Coat the lamb in flour and add this to the pan. Fry for a little while to colour.
3. Add the wine, stock and mint sauce to the pan and stir well.
4. Cover, and cook at about 160C for 2 - 2.5 hours, stirring every so often. I uncovered the casserole for the last half hour to thicken the sauce. Serve with mash or crusty bread and veg. (or like us, mashed veg - yum!)

Friday, 6 January 2012

New Year, New Family

Happy New Year - a little late!

We've had an exciting and busy 2011, a house move, threat of redundancy, and most importantly the arrival of Olivia Rachel.

We've also eaten some notable dishes, from our first try of haggis on a camping holiday to Scotland to our discovery of the lemon chilli chicken served at the excellent Mozaic Cafe, and a fantastic meal at the Lamb Inn, as well as a couple of outings to one of our favourite restaurants: Kantipur.We've also cooked some favourites this year including Carbonara (which I can now have again since having to give up undercooked eggs!), various curries from the excellent Curry Secret book and revived the old recipes of our grandmothers of raspberry buns and cornflake cakes. We've even experimented with homemade preserves as gifts this Christmas - more about those to come.

Our predictions for 2012, food-wise, are less of the "Eat Out" and more of the "Eat In" and more one-pot dishes that can be frozen, or re-heated easily. And much greater use of the slow cooker. Also at some point over the next year our kitchen will no doubt be full of various purees all ready for a little mouth!

Our New Years Eve was a quiet one. We all stayed up to see the new year in, but I guess Olivia thought it was just a normal day/night! We ate a rather lovely baked Camembert with garlic, thyme and white wine (baked in our new cheese baker which was a Christmas present), along with a rather special bottle of Camel Valley sparkling pinot noir which we had been saving for a special occasion. What better way to see out what was perhaps the most memorable and special years of our lives.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Pork with Paprika and Olives

For those of you who know us, you'll know that we received a special delivery on 26th of November 2011. The arrival of Olivia Rachel is the main reason why we haven't been posting for a while.
We've changed the way we're eating over the past month, depending a lot on one pot meals that can be prepared quickly, slow cooker meals or casseroles or things that will freeze well. The next few posts will be of the meals we've cooked that seem to freeze well, and are easy to prepare, the first of which is Pork with Paprika and Olives.

We spotted this recipe in the January edition of Good Food magazine and was an advertisement feature for Magners.

Recipe (taken straight from Good Food magazine) (as is the picture, due to my camera being police evidence following a break in, but that's another story)
Serves 4

500g/1lb 2oz diced pork leg or shoulder
1 red onion cut into thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g/4oz chorizo, cut into chunks
1 tsp smoked paprika
400g can chopped tomatoes
300ml/half pint chicken stock
400g can chickpeas
100g/4oz green olives, drained and rinsed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
small bunch parsley, chopped
crusty bread to serve

1. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Season pork. heat a little olive oil in a large flameproof dish. add the pork and brown all over. Remove from dish and set aside. dd the onion and garlic to the dish, and cook until softened. Add the chorizo and paprika, and cook for 2 mins, then add the tomatoes and stock, along with the pork.
2. Cover with a lid, put in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Add the chickpeas and olives, and cook for 1 hour more. Stir in the lemon and parsley, and serve with crusty bread.

This dish is one of our current favourites. The flavour is rich with the tomatoes and chorizo, yet fresh and zingy with the addition of the olives and lemon. Plus being pork, it offers excellent value for money, especially when supermarkets have different offers on meat over the holidays! We serve it with a little rice, and sometimes a bit of green veg. We have found that is does freeze well, but don't really know how long it will keep in the freezer, as once we know it is in there, it doesn't stay there for long!