Weekly menu 31

Week 31 – where is this year going? Saturday’s dinner was inspired by a friend, Sam Phoenix (who incidentally makes exceedingly yummy cakes! – https://twitter.com/huffingtoncakes) – Butternut squash lasagne.  As I wasn’t really watching what she was doing I apologise Sam if I dishonour what was a delicious dinner!  Thursday’s cauli cheese is one of my favorites and if you want you can add pancetta or chopped up bacon bits, either way it makes for a delicious, quick supper when you really can’t be bothered to do a lot of cooking!

Thanks so much for following my blog, I love doing it and for those who send me little messages or leave comments about the meals they have tried – thank you! I did my first restaurant review this week, when I started this blog I said I wasn’t really a writer and it has taken me this long to pluck up the courage to give it a go! And that’s not all, there will be a few more interesting developments for JJMoola’s Kitchen this year so do stick with me!

Enjoy 🙂

Saturday: Butternut squash lasagne
Sunday: Lamb in white wine and paprika sauce w/ asaparagus pilaf
Monday: Lentil Soup
Tuesday: Chicken and couscous tagine
Wednesday: Asian style sea bass and greens
Thursday: Quick cauliflower cheese
Friday: Duck legs in red wine with caramelised eschalots – needs to marinade overnight

Butternut squash lasagne

1 medium butternut squash (approximately 1kg), peeled, seeds removed and chopped in to smallish cubes
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small bunch of fresh basil
1 small onion finely chopped
2 peppers any colour you like, chopped into cubes similar to the squash ones
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
200g baby spinach
Thyme, dried
Oregano, dried
Dried chilli flakes (optional)
250g dry lasagne sheets
White sauce (jar or homemade up to you)
1 x 125g ball of mozzarella
100g Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Put the chopped squash, peppers into a roasting tray and drizzle over some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and some dried thyme and oregano. Mix it all up to get all the veg coated in the oil and herbs. Dot over some butter and put into the oven for about 1 hour or until the veg is soft and cooked through.

Meanwhile, put some more olive oil into a pan, add the crushed garlic, onion and basil leaves and gentle cook for a few minutes over a low to medium heat until the onion soften a little. Then add the tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper and 1 tsp of oregano. Stir well and allow to cook over a medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Once the squash is fully cooked add the tomato sauce to it and stir well. Taste to check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Add chilli flakes at this stage is using, 1-2 tsp depending on your taste.

Take a large ovenproof dish and add a third of the sauce to the bottom of the dish. Cover with lasagne sheets and then pour over some white sauce. Repeat process for 2 more layers finishing with white sauce. Finally tear up the mozzarella and scatter over the top of the dish, followed by the finely grated parmesan.

Pop into the oven at 190C/gas 5 until bubbling and golden on top – about 40-50 minutes depending on the speed of your oven. Serve immediately with garlic bread and a crisp salad.

Lamb with white wine and paprika sauce w/ asparagus pilaf

2.5 kg lamb shoulder, cut into chunky pieces (shank will also do)
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
150ml olive oil
6 cloves garlic chopped
3 brown onions finely diced
6 bay leaves
7 red capsicums, seed, membrane removed and finely chopped
8 large tomatoes. peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

500g basmati rice soaked in water for an hour or 2 (the longer you soak the less cooking time required)
75g unsalted butter
2 brown onions finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 bunches asparagus, cut off tips and cut stems cut into 1cm rounds
700ml hot vegetable stock

For the lamb: Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in large heavy based saucepan over medium heat and sauté garlic, bay leaves and onion until soft. Reduce heat to low. Add capsicums, cover and cook stirring occasionally for 30 minute or until well softened. Add tomatoes, cover and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add white wine, and cook 10 minutes. Add 5 and a half cups of hot water and increase heat to high. Once the water is boiling add the paprika, reduce water to low and continue cooking the sauce gently for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 160C/gas 3. Trim lamb of any excess fat and put in a roasting tin. Pour in the sauce to just cover the top of the meat (you will have left over sauce). Cook in the oven for about 2½ hours until meat comes easily off bone. As the lamb cooks, some of the sauce will evaporate, allowing the top of the meat to brown.

For the pilaf: Heat butter in a medium saucepan with the cinnamon and allspice until it foams. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes until the onion is soft and caramelised. Drain rice and add to pan. Stir to coat in butter. Add the asparagus and stock. Cover with a circle of grease proof paper and place lid on saucepan. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving alongside the lamb.

Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
225 g red lentils, washed and drained
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1.25 ltr vegetable or chicken stock

Gently heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the onions and leeks and let them cook gently until they’re transparent. Add the garlic and bacon and cook on a medium heat for another 3-4 minutes. Stir in the carrots and celery and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir in the lentils and add the nutmeg and turmeric.

Pour in the stock and bring the soup to the boil. Simmer with the lid on for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, then blitz in a liquidiser until smooth (remember to do this in batches so it doesn’t over flow). Serve with any bread you like!

Chicken and couscous tagine
110 g shelled whole almonds, chopped
100 ml olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2cm chunks
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 x 5 cm cinnamon sticks
Good pinch saffron
1.3 ltr chicken stock
2 tbsp runny honey
400g couscous

Place the almonds in a large casserole dish or saucepan with a lid on a high heat and cook, tossing frequently, for 2–3 minutes or until they are lightly browned (taking care not to let them burn), then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the dish or pan, still on a high heat, then season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the hot oil. Fry, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until browned all over. Reduce the heat to medium–low and add the remaining olive oil, followed by the onions, garlic and cinnamon stick. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring, for 6–8 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly browned.

Add the saffron to the dish or pan, along with the stock, and stir in the honey. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the couscous, cover again and cook for a further 3 minutes or just until the couscous is soft, then stir in the toasted almonds, taste for seasoning and serve in warmed bowls.

Asian style sea bass and greens

6 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp agave syrup
3 tsp rice vinegar
1½ tsp cornflour
4 fillets sea bass, approximately 150g each

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cm piece off resh ginger
1 garlic clove
250 g mixed greens, (bok choy, sprouting broccoli and kale)
2 tbsp vegetable stock, or water
sesame oil, for drizzling
soy sauce, for drizzling

For the glaze: Mix soy sauce, agave nectar and rice vinegar in a small saucepan. Mix 1½ tablespoons of water with the corn flour in small bowl until smooth and add to soy sauce mixture. Stir mixture over medium heat until the glaze boils and thickens slightly about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 220C/gas 7. Arrange the fish on a small non-stick baking sheet then brush with some of glaze. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until opaque in the centre.

For the greens: Heat a little oil in a wok or large frying pan, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the thicker stemmed greens and cook for a minute, add the rest of the greens and the stock and put a lid on. Cook for 2 minutes or until tender then take off the lid and add a splash each of sesame oil and soy sauce.

When the fish is cooked, bring the remaining glaze to a boil and then spoon over the fish. Serve with the Asian greens.

Quick cauliflower cheese

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp caster sugar
250 g creme fraiche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100 g gruyère
1 tbsp parmesan, grated
Handful chives, chopped for garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Toss the cauliflower in the oil and sugar, season well and roast on a baking tray for 20 minutes, or until just cooked, then empty into a bowl.

Increase the oven temperature to 200C/gas 6. Mix the crème fraîche with the mustard and half the gruyère and season. Mix in the cauliflower until coated and transfer to an ovenproof serving dish. Sprinkle with the rest of the gruyère and the parmesan and bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes until golden. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Duck legs braised in red wine with caramelised eschalots

1/2 onion roughly chopped
1 carrot roughly chopped
1 celery stalk roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 cup red wine (suggested pinot)
150 ml port
zest and juice 2 oranges
2 bay leaves
4 duck legs (attached to thigh)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon red currant jelly
8 banana shallots peeled
20g unsalted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar

Place onion, carrot, celery and garlic in heavy based saucepan with wine, port, orange zest and juice and bay leaves. Bring to the biol, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. Pour over duck legs in a bowl and leave in fridge overnight.

Preheat oven to 150C/gas2. Drain duck legs. Reserve marinade and vegetables. Pat duck dry. Heat oil in large oven proof frypan- fry legs until golden. Remove duck and drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from pan.

Place reserved vegetables in fry pan and cook 5-10minutes until golden. Add reserved marinade and stock and bring to the boil. Add duck legs and cover with round piece of baking paper then cover with lid or foil. Place in oven and cook for 2 hours until duck is tender. Remove from pan and strain cooking liquid through a sieve into saucepan. Place liquid over medium heat and simmer until mixture has reduced to a thick sauce. Add redcurrant jelly to taste.

Cook shallots in saucepan of salted water over medium heat until tender. Drain and pat dry. Heat butter in saucepan, add eschalots and swirl to coat in butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cook 3-5 minutes until golden. Serve with the duck and sweet potato mash.

(Credits: MoVida cookbook, Scrambling Eggs blog, Sam Phoenix, Leon cookbook, Rachel Allen, Jane Baxter, The Groovy Food Company, JJMoola’s kitchen)


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