As we approach Christmas I am reviewing my processes and recipes for Christmas dinner.
For Christmas lunch this year I am planning to make some festive red cabbage.
knob of butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced or chopped
1 x 500g (or half a) red cabbage, shredded finely using a food processor (white core discarded) or with a knife.
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
splash of Port
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tsp redcurrant
2 tsp cranberry sauce
Heat the butter and oil in a large lidded saucepan. When hot, add the onion and fry gently until softened. Stir in the spices and season. Add the cabbage and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until glossy. Stir in the sugar, apples and Balsamic vinegar, add a splash of port. Cover with a lid and let it cook gently for 30 minutes.
At this point I set it aside while I cooked the rest of the lunch. Ten minutes before I served lunch, I put it back on the heat and stirred.
Stir in the redcurrant and cranberry sauce (you don’t need to use both, you could use one or none) and cook for a further 10 minutes. If you aren’t using the sauce, taste the cabbage and add a little more sugar if it’s too tart for your taste.
This is my recipe for making Bolognese sauce for serving with spaghetti or other pasta.
500g minced beef, I try and get 5% or 10% fat mince, otherwise the end result can be a bit greasy
Splash of olive oil
One onion, diced
One carrot, finely diced. The carrot is there to add some veg to the dish as well as flavour
One red pepper, diced
Handful of mushrooms, chopped
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Knorr beef stockpot
Dried Italian herbs
Tin of tomatoes
I usually use a big pan for cooking this dish. I heat the pan add the olive oil and then brown off the mince until it is all done. If you have excess fat in the pan then drain the cooked mince and discard the excess oil and fat.
Add the onion, carrot and pepper. You can add extra vegetables at this point, or extra pepper. After a few minutes add the mushrooms.
Once the onion is soft and cooked, add the tin of tomatoes, the herbs, the tomato purée and the balsamic vinegar.
Cook for at least 20 minutes on a low heat, though longer would ensure that the beef is tender.
Serve with spaghetti or a pasta of your choice. Add freshly grated Parmesan to taste.
I often make pancakes for breakfast on aregular basis.
Cup of gluten free plain flour
Cup of semi-skimmed milk
Spoonful of sugar.
Whisk the ingredients together. I do find that with gluten free flour there isn’t any benefit to which order you add the ingredients, but I generally do the flour first, then add the milk, then the sugar vanilla essence and the egg.
The key is to have a batter that will coat the back of the spoon.
Gluten free batter doesn’t need to be left to stand (as some recipes for normal pancakes call for). When I started cooked gluten free pancakes, I use to make normal pancakes as well using wheat flour. However after tasting both, I realised that there was very little if any difference. So now, and it avoids the risk of cross-contamination, I only cook gluten free pancakes.
I have often heard that the first pancake cooked will not work and therefore should be thrown away. My experience is that the reason the first pancake doesn’t work, is mainly down to the fact that the pan isn’t hot enough. I put my pancake pan on the heat and then make the batter, that way it is hot enough when I am ready to start cooking the pancakes.
I brush the pan with some sunflower oil. Add a spoonful of batter and then swirl the pan so that the batter coats the entire base of the pan. I say spoonful of batter as I usually use a bowl with a lip so I can put the batter direct onto the pancake pan. You can see the batter cooking and once it is cooked, flip the pancake over. Yes you can toss it, but I usually use a fish slice to flip the pancake over.
This recipe for a cauliflower salad was inspired by a dish I once had in a cafe in Wapping Wharf (sadly now closed).
Take some fresh cauliflower and cut it into thin slices, I usually use about a third of the cauliflower when making the dish.
In a bowl add some mayonnaise, a splash of olive oil and half a teaspoon of curry powder. The olive oil thins out the mayonnaise making it easier to coat the cauliflower slices. The curry powder adds spice and warmth to the dish.
Stir and coat the cauliflower slices with the mayonnaise mix, do this gently so you don’t break the cauliflower too much. I also add some unsalted cashew nuts as well to the salad. Season with salt and pepper.
Looking for gluten free versions of wheat based dishes was always challenging, but becoming less so.
We have always enjoyed the prepared salads from M&S, but alas most of them contain gluten.
I had been looking for a pack of gluten free couscous for a while, so when I saw a pack of Clearspring Organic Corn Couscous this looked like a solution.
It was really easy to prepare I added 100ml of stock to 65g of the dried couscous and left for five minutes. I then used a fork to fluff the couscous. I added some diced cooked Mediterranean vegetables and seasoned with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
I was really impressed, it had the texture of couscous and worked really well.
I cooked a Keralan Coconut Vegetable Curry that I cooked. I cheated a little by using a curry kit from The Spice Tailor.
A delicately balanced, mellow coconut curry from Kerala. Its gentle spicing and layers of flavours makes this a go-to for those who love milder Indian flavours.
I have been using this curry kit for some time now.
I prepared the vegetables, this time I used red onion, brown onion, butternut squash, sweet potato, baby sweetcorn, red pepper, green beans and cauliflower florets.
I add oil to a large frying pan and then add the spices from the curry kit. I then added the prepared vegetables. This is cooked until softened. I then add the sauce mix from the curry kit, a little water and stir it into the vegetables. I cook it for five more minutes, I then added some fresh young spinach, before covering and cooking for another five minutes or so. I then did a final stirring the curry.
This is quick and easy recipe that results in delicious, moist, sticky chewy flapjacks.
150g unsalted butter
75g brown sugar
75g golden syrup
200g of oats
In a pan melt the butter, sugar and syrup together. I find the easiest way to measure the golden syrup is to put the pan on the scales, zero the scales and then add the syrup.
Once the sugar, butter and syrup are bubbling take it off the heat and stir in the oats.
My preferred oats are the Mornflake Whole Jumbo Oats.
Place the mixture into a greased tin (or lined using baking parchment) and bake in a 180ºC (160ºC fan) oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges are browned and the mix is bubbling. If you cook for too long the flapjacks will be harder and not chewy.
I cool the flapjacks on a wire rack.
I quite like chocolate flapjack, so sometimes I melt a bar of chocolate and cover the flapjack.