I’m not quite sure where this week has gone, but here we are at the start of another menu! I have snuck in a pie this week and a few other comfort food favorites. These dishes are not expensive to make and delicious and tasty and what’s more the leftovers are great to freeze for that homemade ready meals draw!
Saturday: Slow cooked beef short ribs
Sunday: Chipotle roast chicken dinner
Monday: Beetroot tartlets
Tuesday: Sole a la meuniere
Wednesday: Italian bean casserole
Thursday: Chicken and leek pie
Friday: West Indian veg curry
Slow cooked beef short ribs
1.8kg beef short ribs (Jacob’s Ladder), cut in half widthways – butcher can do this for you
50g dark brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 medium leeks, sliced and rinsed
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
850ml hot beef stock
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes with herbs
In a small bowl mix the seasoning, sugar, garlic, mustard, paprika and Worcestershire sauce together. Place the ribs in a shallow tray and coat with the spice mixture on both sides. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour, or overnight if time allows.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and brown the ribs in batches. Transfer to a 3.4 litre heatproof casserole dish with the marinade juices. Add the leeks, parsnips and bay leaves to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes then transfer to the casserole dish. Add the stock and tomatoes and, bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and cook in the oven for 3-3½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove the bay leaves, skim off any oil and serve with creamy mash and roasted vegetables.
Chipotle roast chicken dinner
10 g fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
100 g soft dark brown sugar
50 g granulated sugar
10 g garlic powder
100 g fine seasalt
15 g smoked paprika
30 g paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
For the chicken:
50 g chipotle chilli paste (you can make this yourself if you have the dried chipotle chillies)
50 g unsalted butter
50 ml maple syrup
50 g roasted garlic paste (again you can make this easily yourself by roasting the bulbs)
1.5 kg chicken
For the herb rub: Toast the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and coriander seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan, until the spices release an aroma. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool.
Blitz the toasted spices in a blender to a rough powder. Combine with the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
For the chicken: Blitz the chipotle chilli paste, butter, maple syrup, roasted garlic paste and 50g of the herb rub in a blender to a paste. Make slashes about 1cm deep in the thighs of the chicken with a sharp knife, then rub the chicken thoroughly inside and out with the paste, put it into a dish and leave overnight in the fridge.
Heat the oven to 150C/gas 3. Put the chicken, breast side up, into a roasting tray that will fit inside your oven and roast for 1½ hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 70C and the juices run clear when the chicken is pricked with a knife at the thickest point of the thigh area.
Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Deglaze the pan with water or stock (and wine if you like), and throw in a chopped up tomato. Simmer for 5 mins in the pan then pour through a strainer into a saucepan and simmer away again to reduce a little for a nice jus.
Serve the chicken smothered with jus alongside wild rice and an avocado salsa (normal salsa with a sliced up avocado thrown in!).
250g plain flour
125g butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 beaten egg
100ml cold water
8 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
3 boiled beetroots (vacuum packed), drained and sliced
3 large tomatoes, sliced
110g extra mature cheddar cheese, grated
Salad or steamed vegetables, to serve
To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and cold water together, then add just enough to the flour mixture to bring together to form a ball. Knead lightly, then cover and chill for 20-30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line 8x10cm (4 inch) individual flan tins. Chill for a further 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Spread 1 tbsp of mascarpone cheese over the base of each tartlet, then sprinkle with a little chopped mint. Place 3-4 slices of beetroot and 2 slices of tomato on top of each tartlet. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Place on baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Serve warm or cold, with salad or vegetables.
Sole a la meuniere
2 tbsp plain flour
2 skinned fillets of sole
50g softened honey butter, (bought or homemade)
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
Small squeeze of lemon juice
Sieve the flour onto a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Pat the fish fillets dry with kitchen paper and lay in the flour, dusting each side with a light coating. Spread half of the butter over the top of the fish.
Place a large frying pan on a medium heat, place the fish, buttered side down, into the pan and gently fry for 2-3 minutes until a nutty golden brown in colour. Carefully turn over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes on the other side.
Lift the fish out and place on warm serving plates. Add the remaining butter to the pan and, once melted and frothing, add the parsley, chives and lemon juice and stir everything together.
Cook for 10-15 seconds on a high heat, then spoon the sauce over the fish and serve immediately with boiled potatoes and a green salad.
Italian bean casserole
3 tbsp olive oil
4 celery sticks, roughly diced
4 medium carrots, roughly diced
3 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100ml white wine.
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
700ml vegetable stock, hot
410g can borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
410g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Small handful fresh oregano or fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped, plus extra whole leaves to garnish
Heat the oil in a large casserole or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring, for 7-8 minutes. Add the leeks, cook for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the garlic and wine. Let the wine cook out and reduce for a few minutes.
Tip in the tomatoes and lemon zest and season well. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer fairly rapidly for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the vegetables are just tender and the liquid has reduced and thickened.
Stir in the beans (add a dash of hot water, if necessary) and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the oregano or thyme and the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Spoon the casserole into bowls and garnish with fresh oregano or thyme leaves. Serve with some fresh bread to mop up the sauce or just as it is.
Chicken and leek pie
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 medium leeks, washed, trimmed and thickly sliced
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 garlic clove, crushed
150ml white wine
150ml hot chicken stock (I use Knorr stockpots)
142ml double cream
Sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves picked and roughly chopped
375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
1 medium egg
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.
Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring, for another 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, add the wine and bubble away until reduced by two-thirds. Pour in the stock and simmer until reduced by half. Add the cream and tarragon, bring to the boil, then simmer for 5-6 minutes until thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then spoon into a 2.5-litre pie dish (or 4 x 300ml ovenproof dishes). Set aside to cool.
Brush a little water along the edge of the pie dish or dishes. Unroll the pastry and cut out a piece large enough to cover the dish or dishes. Press down the edges and trim off the excess. Snip a small hole in the centre of the pastry to let the steam escape. Put on a baking tray and chill for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. Beat the egg with a little salt, then brush over the pastry. Bake for 40-45 minutes (20-25 minutes if you are making individual pies) until the pastry is golden. Serve with vegetables of your choice.
West Indian veg curry
Ingredients:1 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp Jamaican curry powder (or mild curry powder will also do)
500 g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and chopped into large chunks
400 g coconut milk
3 tbsp red lentils
300 ml vegetable stock
110 g cherry tomatoes
100 g spinach
1 lime, cut into wedges
small bunch coriander, chopped
Heat the coconut oil in a casserole dish and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the curry powder and continue cooking for a further minute.
Add all the remaining ingredients except the cherry tomatoes and spinach to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the butternut squash is fork tender and the lentils are soft. Add in the spinach and cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Scatter over some coriander and a wedge of lime then serve with plain boiled rice.
(Credits: Pitt Cue, Kate Wesson, Rachel Allen, Delicious Magazine, Simon Rimmer, JJMoola’s Kitchen)