I’m fairly sure as I look out of my window in the office that the scene of darkness and rain before me is winter, proper winter, can someone please tell me where in the heck Autumn has gone?? In addition to the dreadful weather I also have a cold so this weeks menu is heavily influenced by these factors….. bring on the comfort food!
Saturday: Basque chicken pie
Sunday: slow cooked spicy lamb shanks
Monday: Scandinavian fish soup
Tuesday: Onion and cheese tart
Wednesday: Portuguese Chicken with Tomato Sauce and chips
Thursday: Mushroom stroganoff
Friday: Sausage and baked bean hotpot
Basque chicken pie
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into 12 wedges
1 green pepper, halved, seeded and sliced
1 red pepper, halved, seeded and sliced
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
150g chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into thin slices
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 large ripe tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
2 tbsp flour
For the pastry
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
75g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 medium egg yolk
4–5 tbsp cold water
1 egg, beaten, or full-fat milk, to glaze
Put the chicken pieces in a bowl and sprinkle over the paprika, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Rub the seasoning into the meat and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions and peppers with the thyme and bay leaves for 3 minutes, while stirring. Add the chicken and seasoning and cook for another 3 minutes, turning the chicken regularly until it is starting to colour. Add the chorizo and garlic and fry for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or until they are softened and juicy, stirring regularly. Tilt the pan so that the liquid runs to one side and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, chicken and chorizo. Stir it in quickly, then set the pan level and stir the cooking liquor into the flour. Doing it this way should prevent little clumps of flour – but don’t worry if you do have a few, no-one will notice. Add more salt and pepper if necessary and continue to cook for one minute, stirring until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and tip everything into a roasting tin or ovenproof dish, measuring about 25x30cm and at least 4cm deep. Leave to cool.
For the pastry, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, butter and egg yolk in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in the water with the motor running, blending until the mixture just comes together as a dough (you may not need to use all of the water). Form the dough into a ball.
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Roll the pastry out into a rectangle about the same size as the tin. Place it over the pie filling and tuck the sides of the pastry down around the filling. Brush with beaten egg or milk to glaze.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is hot. Serve immediately with any veg you like.
Slow cooked spicy lamb shanks
4 lamb shanks
Olive oil, for frying
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
750ml red wine
500ml chicken stock
Small handful of mint leaves, to garnish
For the marinade:
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced, to taste
1-2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced, to taste
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half
3 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped and crushed
Prepare the marinade. Mix the chillies (use only one of each if you don’t like hot dishes), smoked paprika, oregano, cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, garlic, 1 tbsp. of olive oil and some seasoning together. Rub the mixture into the lamb so that it is well flavoured. You can cook the lamb straight away, but if you have time, cover and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour, or even overnight..
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Heat a large casserole dish on the hob and add a couple of tbsp of olive oil. Brown the lamb in it for about 6 minutes until coloured on all sides, then add the chillies and cinnamon from the marinade. Add the carrots, onion and bay leaves to the casserole and brown for a minute or two. Lift the lamb so that it is resting on top of the onions and carrots. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom, then bring to the boil and cook for 7-8 minutes to reduce the liquid by half. Add the chicken stock; bring to the boil, then transfer, uncovered, to the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours until the meat is really tender and the sauce reduced. If the tops of the shanks look like they might be drying out, just baste and occasionally turn them.
Remove the cooked meat from the oven and serve garnished with torn mint leaves and the cooking juices spooned on top alongside creamy mash.
Scandinavian fish soup
For the stock
1kg Salt cod that has been soaked for 24 hours
1.8 ltr boiling water
1 medium sprig rosemary
15 mustard seeds
5 white peppercorns
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small leek, finely shredded
1 onion, sliced
3 carrots, shredded or sliced
To finish the soup
100 g butter
700 ml milk
700 ml soured cream
Rosemary sprigs, to garnish
Add all the stock ingredients to a pan and let simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, reserving the fish meat, carrots, onions and garlic but discarding everything else.
Crumble the reserved fish into small pieces. Divide into portions of about 50 grams per person, and keep separate.
Add the remaining soup ingredients (butter, milk and sour cream) and simmer for 20 minutes. If you feel the soup is too thin, you can thicken with cornflour but this is usually not necessary.When the broth is suitably thick, add the reserved carrots, onions and garlic.
To serve, divide the broth between the bowls, add a portion of crumbled fish to each bowl and decorate with a sprig of rosemary. Serve with bread
Onion and cheese tart
6 onions, sweet white or red onions, or leeks
4 tbsp butter, approximate quantity
250 g puff pastry
100 g taleggio cheese, fontina, or similar semi-soft cheese
2 sprigs thyme, or enough leaves to make a little pile in your palm
Peel the onions; cut them in half from stem to root, then into thick segments. Put them into a shallow pan with the butter and leave over a moderate to low heat until they are soft. Let them take their time. They need to be translucent, golden, and sticky expect them to take a good 30 minutes.
Set the oven at 225°C/gas 7. If you are using a sheet of ready-rolled pastry, simply unroll it onto a lightly floured baking sheet. If you are using a block of pastry, roll it out into a rectangle (or square or round) no thicker than a coin. Score a border 2cm in from each edge and prick all over with a fork.
Tip the onions onto the pastry, pushing them almost, but not quite, to the border. Brush the rim with some of the onion butter. Slice the cheese thinly, then break it up into small pieces, tucking it in among the onions. Scatter the thyme over. Bake until the pastry is golden and puffed and the onions are browning– 15-20 minutes.
Serve with a baby herb salad or some steamed veg.
Portuguese Chicken with Tomato Sauce
4 Chicken breasts
2 Cloves Garlic chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1 can tomatoes and 4 fresh tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped basil
Cut chicken breasts in cubes. Place olive oil, chopped garlic, onions in sauce pan.Saute until golden. Add cubed chicken and saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes.
Scatter with chopped basil and serve with thin cut chips or rice if you prefer.
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300 g mixed mushrooms, chopped
150 ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp half-fat soured cream
Small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
Cooked wild rice to serve
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and soften the onion for about 5 mins. Add the garlic and paprika, then cook for 1 min more. Add mushrooms and cook on a high heat, stirring often, for about 5 mins.
Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, bubble for about 5 mins until the sauce thickens, then turn off the heat and stir through the soured cream and most of the parsley. Make sure the pan is not on the heat or the sauce may split.
Serve alongside your wild rice and garnish with remaining parsley.
Sausage and baked bean hotpot
8-10 good quality sausages (any you like, I used 2 different types)
1 large onion, chopped into chunks
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
2 x tins baked beans
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Marmite
300 ml water
Pre-heat an oven to 200C/gas 6. Put your sausages in a roasting pan with a drizzle of olive or rapeseed oil and put into the oven for brown nicely. Give them a shake every now and then, will probably take about 30 mins.
In the meantime, put a large casserole dish on the hob with a splash of olive or rapeseed oil (I used basil infused rapeseed), and add your onions to soften gently over a medium heat for about 5 mins. Then add your carrots, pepper and garlic and stir well cooking for about 8 minutes. Next add all the other ingredients to the pot and after stirring well, simmer on a low heat until the sausages are done. Don’t cover the pot as you want the sauce to thicken up nicely.
When the sausages are done, add them to your casserole pot (you can cut them in half if you want or leave the whole). Give the whole thing a really good stir and taste to check the seasoning. Adjust salt/pepper at this point (I added a little chilli sauce and a little wholegrain mustard), then put the whole thing into the oven (reduce the temperature to 180C/gas 4), for about 25 minutes.
Serve with garlic bread or chunky pieces of any bread you like to mop up all that lovely gravy.
(Credits: Hairy Bikers, Nigel Slater, Gordon Ramsey, JJMoola’s Kitchen)