Here we go with the first weekly menu, unless otherwise stated these are dinners, I leave lunch up to you although for week day work lunches whipping up a batch of soup whilst you’re doing the Sunday dinner is pretty easy or of course leftovers (which is the favorite in our house). I hope you like the sound of at least one of these dinners, at first glance it may look like a lot of cooking but trust me it isn’t. I get home at 7pm and dinner is usually on the table by 8.15 at the latest (providing no kitchen meltdowns!). Anything which takes a bit more time I do at the weekend.
Saturday: Paella with chicken and chorizo
Sunday: Late Lunch or early Dinner – Roast chicken with pan-fried crushed potatoes, glazed carrots and peas
Monday: Butterbean casserole
Tuesday: Tuna pasta bake
Wednesday: Couscous w/ left over roast chicken, red onion, roasted peppers and olives (optional)
Thursday: Onion soup
Friday: Fishcakes w/ green beans and sweetcorn
Chicken & Chorizo Paella recipe, serves 4-6
6 Chicken thighs, keep the bone in but remove the skin
4 chorizo sausages (mild or spicy your choice) chopped
50 g pancetta or lardons
500 g Paella Rice
1 medium to large onion finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic chopped
2 handfuls peas
1.5-1.75 ltrs chicken stock, either home-made or bought is fine
1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 large pinches of saffron
Handful of fresh parsley finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Heat a little olive oil in a paella pan or large heavy frying pan. Put the chicken pieces in and brown off, then transfer to a roasting tray cover with foil and put in the oven for about 30 mins until cooked through.
Put the paella or frying pan back on the heat and add the chopped chorizo and pancetta to the pan and fry off until you have good colour on the chorizo. Then add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft. Make up the chicken stock in 2 batches and add the saffron to 1 ltr of it. now add the rice to the pan along with the smoked paprika and stir well to coat the grains with all the lovely chorizo oil. Now add the infused chicken stock and stir well, then leave to simmer away and let the rice absorb the stock. Keep an eye on it and top up with a little more chicken stock as the rice cooks, you want the grains to be nice and soft which will probably take about 20 mins.
Finally add your roasted chicken pieces, more stock and the peas, you can cover the pot at this point if you have a big enough lid or foil will also do the job. You need to use a little judgement with the stock. The first time I made it I used about 1.75 ltrs of stock, the next time only 1.5ltrs because I wanted a dryer end result and for the bottom to get a little crunchy so it’s up to you. You don’t want it to be too wet so add a little at a time. Finish off with the chopped parsley
Roast chicken with pan fried crushed potatoes, glazed carrots and peas
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped tsp paprika or cayenne pepper
1 large clove garlic sliced
1 small lemon quartered
1 pkt thyme
1 onion sliced
500 ml chicken stock
Baby New potatoes – however many you and your family
1 pk baby carrots
30 g unsalted butter
Frozen peas – up to you how much and I’m sure you know how to cook these!
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Rub the skin of the chicken with a little butter or olive oil if you prefer, then mix together your cumin and paprika and sprinkle this all over the bird and rub it in well. Make some slits in the flesh on the breasts and the legs and stuff each slit with a slice of garlic. Put the quartered lemon inside the bird along with some sprigs of thyme. Lay your sliced onions into the base of a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil, add some sprigs of thyme. Sit your bird on top of the onions and put in to the oven. You are probably looking at around 1 hour to roast the bird, you can check to see if its cooked by piercing the flesh and seeing if the juices that flow out are clear, if there is any blood in the juices it’s not done yet and should go back in for a little longer. If the bird is getting too brown on top you can cover it in foil. Once the bird is roasted, remove it from the roasting tray and leave to rest covered in foil. Put your roasting tray on the hob and add about 500 ml of chicken stock and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce, as the liquid bubbles stir the pan to get all the lovely caramalised bits on the bottom of the roasting tray, then empty all of this into a small saucepan. If you have a gravy separator then you can put the gravy into the first to remove the oil, otherwise just leave it cool slightly in the saucepan and skim off the oil from the surface. You can remove the onions before putting it into the pan if you want but I like them. Simmer the gravy for a few minutes and taste to check seasoning. If you like a thicker gravy, you can add 1/2 a teaspoon of cornflour dissolved in cold water to the gravy and then simmer until it starts to thicken and gets how you like it.
Cut your baby potatoes in half then par boil them until they are just done, but not too soft. Once boiled tip them into a frying pan with some butter or olive oil and gently squash them with a fork – you don’t want to mash them more like breaking the skin and squashing them down a little. Season with salt and pepper and keep them on a medium to high heat, as you want the potatoes to get a good brown colour on them, and you might get a few crunchy bits too!
Boil or steam your baby carrots until they are just done, about 7-9 minutes boiling. Tip into a saute pan with melted butter and add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Toss around in the butter until the carrots are lovely and glossy, then they are ready to serve.
2 cans butterbeans
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 medium onions finely chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 courgette thickly sliced
1 -2 tsp dried mixed herbs (depending on how much you like)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parlsey
Worcestershire sauce – couple of splashes
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Take a large pan and heat a little olive oil in the bottom then add the chopped onion and cook until soft, then add all the other ingredients and simmer covered on a medium heat for around 45 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly. You can simmer uncovered if you want a thicker sauce. This is great with fresh bread or flat bread.
Tuna pasta bake
1 tin of tuna, preferably in spring water or brine
1 medium onion chopped
1 small jar or carton of passata
1 small handful of basil leave chopped
1-2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs (depending on how much you like)
1 clove garlic grushed
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
250 g pasta, either penne or twists
Grated parmesan and/or cheddar
Boil pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until it nearly cooked, must have some “bite” left in it and not be soft. Depending on the pasta you use check the instructions on the back of the packet. Then drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. In a saute or frying pan, heat a little olive oil then add the onions and garlic and soften. Then add all the other ingredients and cook for around 10 mins on a medium heat to get them all nicely merged together. Taste to ensure the seasoning is right, if not enough salt then add a little more soy sauce and as much freshly ground black pepper as you like. Once cooked add the pasta and mix thoroughly then tip into an oven proof dish, cover with grated cheese, I use a combination of both but that’s up to you. Then pop in the oven for around 30 minutes until the top is lovely and melted and browned. Serve with a green salad or on its own if you’re feeling lazy!
Couscous w/ left over roast chicken, red onion, roasted peppers and olives (optional)
150 g couscous
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1/2 jar roasted red peppers, chopped
handful of olives (if using), sliced in half
handful fresh coriander, chopped
Any leftover roast chicken from Sunday roast or you can roast off a couple of large skinless chicken breasts if you don’t have any leftovers.
Firstly shred or chop into bite size pieces your leftover roast chicken then set aside. If you are roasting fresh breasts then put into a hot oven for around 20 minutes, check the juices are clear by piercing the flesh and pressing lightly to see if it’s cooked.
Tip the couscous into a bowl and add water so it just covers the couscous and leave aside for 10 minutes. Once the water is all absorbed fluff up the couscous and add the a little olive oil and all other ingredients and stir thoroughly. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
1 kg white onions sliced
1 ltr chicken stock
120 g butter
1-2 tsp red chilli flakes
Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan with a lid, then add the onions and cover and sweat them down on a low heat until they are soft and silky. Add the chilli flakes, stock and season with salt and black pepper, depending on how much you like. Bring to a simmer then take off the heat and blitz either with a hand blender or you can pour the whole lot into a liquidiser, you want to get it really smooth and creamy. Then pour back into the pan to warm through and serve with a little fresh parsley scattered on top and if you like it a shaving of parmesan. This is great with garlic bread.
Fishcakes w/ green beans and sweetcorn
2 slices of crusty or slightly stale bread
2 salmon fillets approx 400 g in total, skinless and boned
1 haddock fillet approx 400 g, skinless and boned
1 clove of garlic
handful of fresh parsley chopped
Green beans and sweetcorn
Using a food processor, whiz up the bread into breadcrumbs then spread out on a baking tray or large piece of foil and set aside. Add all the fish to the food processor, the zest of the lemon, the parsley and the garlic and then pulse until coarsely chopped, don’t over blitz it. Tip the fish mixture into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs, then scrunch together with your hands and form into 4 round cakes. Then coat them in the remaining breadcrumbs, pushing the crumbs into each cake. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and add a good couple of splashes of olive oil. Carefully put the fishcakes into the pan and cook for 6-7 minutes until they are golden brown then using a fish slice turn gently turn over and cook for another 6-7 minutes until the other side is lovely and golden brown too. Meanwhile steam or boil your green beans and sweetcorn as per the packet instructions. Then serve alongside your fishcakes.
(Credits: Jamie Oliver, Brian Turner, JJMoola’s Kitchen)