Weekly menu 11

I started out thinking that this week I was going to do good old British food… totally failed as you can see.  The piri-piri sauce recipe is a great one to try out a few times till you get it as you like it, especially when you break out the bbq for the summer, it’s a trusty marinade that you can also cook off in a pan and with a squirt of good old Tommy K (Ketchup), you’ve got a cracking tangy sauce as well.


Saturday: Piri-piri chicken ‘n’ rice
Sunday: Aubergine tagine w/ herb couscous
Monday: Rosemary lamb cutlets
Tuesday: Salad nicoise w/ a piggy twist
Wednesday: Quick Singapore style noodles
Thursday: Cauliflower cheese
Friday: Meaty nachos w/ guacamole

Piri-piri chicken ‘n’ rice

For the piri-piri marinade – large batch which can keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks or be frozen:
16 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp garlic powder
3 lemons, juice only
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp cider vinegar
12-18 Thai red chillies

4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks, skin on
 6 tbsp piri-piri marinade
1 tbsp sunflower oil
 1 red and 1 green pepper , deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 bunch spring onions , sliced, white and green parts separated
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
250 g cooked rice

To make the marinade, put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until you have a smooth sauce/marinade.  For those who want extra hot add more Thai chillies and those who want milder add less.

Heat oven to 200 C/gas 6. Slash each piece of chicken a few times, so the marinade can really flavour the meat. Pour over the sauce, give it a good mix with your hands (or a spoon is fine, just be very thorough), then leave in the fridge to marinate for at least a couple of hours. If  you don’t have time then just mix well and arrange, skin-side up, in a roasting tin. Cook for 30 mins, then increase heat to 220 C/gas 7 and cook for about 15 mins more until the skin is crispy and golden.

When the chicken is almost ready, heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook the peppers and white parts of the spring onions for 5 mins. Add the puree and paprika and a tsp (more if you like) of your piri-piri marinade (from the batch you made not what drained off the chicken).  Stir well and cook for about 30 seconds then add the rice, breaking up with a wooden spoon so it’s all well mixed. Use a high heat and scrape any that sticks off the bottom so you get some soft and some crispy parts. Heat until piping hot. Scatter the green parts of the spring onion on top and serve with the chicken, and some vegetables or salad, if you like.

Aubergine tagine w/ herb couscous
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50 g dates, finely chopped
2cm piece fresh ginger, grated
500 g (2 smallish) aubergines cut into 2cm cubes
600 g pumpkin or squash, deseeded and cut into 3cm cubes
2 x 400 g cans plum tomatoes
Handful each chopped fresh mint and coriander, plus extra coriander to garnish
Juice of 2 lemons

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add coriander, turmeric and cinnamon and toast spices for about 1 minute. Add the oil, onion, chilli, garlic, dates and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.

Add the aubergines, cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the pumpkin and coat in the spices. Add 100 ml water and the tomatoes, breaking them up into chunks, and simmer, stirring now and then, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the couscous into a bowl and season. Pour over 450 ml boiling water, add half the oil and stir once. Cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the couscous is tender. Fluff up with a fork.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until soft and golden. Stir into the couscous with the fresh herbs. Season to taste.

Stir the herbs and lemon juice into the tagine. Serve on top of the couscous.

Rosemary lamb cutlets
1 large bunch rosemary, leaves removed and roughly  chopped
1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and lightly squashed
2 tbsp olive oil
12 to 16 lamb cutlets

Using a pestle and mortar, grind the rosemary, garlic, olive oil and plenty of black pepper to a rough paste (you can also use a hand blender if you don’t have a pestle and mortar). Coat each lamb cutlet well in the marinade, place in a  non-metallic bowl and cover. Leave overnight in the fridge or for at least 6 hours.

After marinating, remove the cutlets from the bowl, shake off any excess and  sprinkle with salt. Heat the grill to medium-high and grill for  approximately 4 minutes on each side, depending on how large they are.  You could serve with a large green salad and  new potatoes roasted in olive oil and rosemary.

Salad nicoise w/ a piggy twist
 Small ciabatta loaf, torn into pieces
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
25 g fresh Parmesan, grated
6 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
100 g trimmed fine green beans
1 cos lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
Large handful of pitted black olives
4 eggs, hard-boiled
French dressing, to serve

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7. Put the ciabatta into a roasting tin, add the oil and turn to coat. Scatter over the cheese, season with pepper and mix. Stir in the bacon. Cook for 15 minutes, turning halfway, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Meanwhile, add the beans to a saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain and put straight into a bowl of ice cold water to cool. Drain again and set aside.

Divide the lettuce between 4 plates. Top with the green beans, tomato wedges, olives and cheesy ciabatta croutons and bacon and season. Peel and cut the eggs into wedges and scatter over the salad. Drizzle with some French dressing (home-made or bought up to you) to serve.

Quick Singapore style noodles
340 g rice noodles
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 raw tiger prawns, peeled and each cut into 3 pieces
1 chicken breast, cut into thin slices
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 slices smoked bacon, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ½ tbsp curry powder
5 tbsp chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 spring onions, sliced
2 big handfuls of beansprouts
1 red pepper thinly sliced
Pinch of sesame seeds to serve

Soak noodles in boiling water for 8 minutes then drain thoroughly and rinse in cold water (if using the straight to wok variety you don’t need to do this). Heat the oil in a wok. When it just starts smoking throw in the chicken and prawns and cook for 1 minute or until they are golden and just cooked. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add onions, bacon and garlic and stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes. Add salt and curry powder, and stir-fry for a further minute. Add stock and soy sauce then stir and bring to a simmer. Add the noodles and stir well to coat with the sauce.

Finally add the beansprouts and spring onions, turn the heat up high and stir-fry all the ingredients together for just over a minute. Add the prawns and chicken back to the pan and combine. Serve straight away sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Cauliflower cheese
1 large cauliflower, divided into florets
3 tbsp butter

For the cheese sauce:
1 cloves
1 bay leaves
1 small onion
600 ml milk
25 g butter
25 g plain flour
200 ml single cream
1 tsp English mustard
250 g mature cheddar cheese
Pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and lightly cook the cauliflower florets, then drain and set aside.

Next make the sauce.  Stud the clove through the bay leaf and into the onion and place in a saucepan with the milk. Warm the milk slowly to infuse milk.

Preheat the oven to 200°/gas 6.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, and whisk in the flour. Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring with the whisk constantly. Add the simmering milk (without the onion) gradually, whisking all the time, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the cream. Stir in the mustard and 200 g of the grated cheese. Season to taste (lots of black pepper) and add the nutmeg.

Warm 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan then add the cauliflower florets. Roll them in the butter, without allowing them to colour, and then season.

Spoon a little cheese sauce into an ovenproof dish; arrange the cauliflower on top and coat with more of the sauce. Sprinkle the last of the grated cheddar on top and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden.  Serve on its own or with a fresh salad

Meaty nachos w/ guacamole
500 g lean beef mince
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp tomato puree
 1 small  can refried beans
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Squirt Ketchup
1 packet tortilla chips/nachos
Grated cheddar
Sour cream (optional)

For the guacamole:
1–3 fresh chillies, depending on heat, and your taste, finely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
3 ripe avocados
1 ripe medium tomato, finely diced
Juice of 1 lime

Put the onion and garlic into a pan on a medium heat and fry until soft (about 8 minutes).  Then add the mince, increase the heat a little and cook until the meat is well browned, maybe even a little crunchy.  Then add the vinegar, tomatoes, tomato puree, chilli sauce and Worcestershire sauce, dried spices and season well.  Add the refried beans and the water and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 mins.  Keep checking it and give it a stir now and then, also taste it and add more seasoning/spices according to how you like it.

Make the guacamole by scooping out the avocado and chopping it up into bite sized chunks.  Put everything into a bowl and mix well with a fork, squashing up the avocados as you go.  You don’t want a total paste, so some larger chunks of avocado are fine to leave if you like it that way. It’s up to you.  Taste and adjust seasoning, and you might need to add a little more lime juice to give it a good bite.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/gas 4

Finally spread your tortilla chips onto an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the grated cheese on top, then put into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the chips are toasted.  Take out and spoon over your mince mixture and then add dollops of guacamole and if using, sour cream (you can also serve the guacamole and sour cream on the side in a little bowls if you prefer).  Serve immediately.

(Good Food magazine, Delicious Magazine, Cook Yourself Thin, James Martin, JJMoola’s Kitchen)


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