I really do enjoy roasted vegetables either as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment to another dish.
On this platter I have roasted squash, red onions, red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine, parsnips and sweet potato.
The method I used for this was in the roasting pan I placed the squash, the parsnips, red onion and sweet potato with a good splash of olive oil. This was then roasted in the oven for about 15 minutes. I then added the mushrooms, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette, red pepper and another splash of the olive oil. This was then roasted for about 15-20 minutes.
A traditional English breakfast usually consists of bacon and eggs with sausages, beans, fried bread and maybe a portion of tinned tomatoes. Obviously there are other things you can add such as grilled kidneys, black pudding, mushrooms, hash browns.
Actually the more you think about it, a cooked breakfast can be quite diverse and much more than just bacon and eggs. Eat a little later and it turns into Brunch.
I quite like a cooked breakfast now and again, but very rarely go down the traditional route. This was the basis of a recent breakfast and consisted of grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and onions.
I took some cherry tomatoes and halved them. If you halve them with the stalk point at the top then they will always look nice. If you slice them through the stalk point then they may (well usually) don’t look as nice. I splashed a little olive oil on them and some torn basil leaves.
For the mushrooms I trim the stalks and then spread a small knob of butter on them and some freshly ground black pepper.
For the onions I just again splashed a little olive oil and more black pepper.
These were all then roasted in a hot oven for about 10-15 minutes.
Most Sundays we have a traditional roast dinner. This week I only had skinless chicken breasts in the fridge and I have always found roasting chicken breasts usually results in dry tough chicken. If using chicken portions, my preference is to use chicken thighs and legs.
So, in the end I sliced into the chicken, added a stuffing consisting of onion, mushrooms and basil. This I then wrapped in foil before poaching for twenty minutes. After cooking, I let them rest for at least five minutes before opening the foil parcels and slicing them.
With them I did some roast potatoes. Firstly you need to use the right kind of potatoes. It’s not as simple as buying any kind, the cheapest or whatever. This time I went with King Edward (as that was all that was available in the shop, well there were other varieties, but no Maris Piper.
After peeling and cutting into chunks the potatoes are blanched in boiling water for about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. Now the size if dependent on how you like your roast poatoes and how long you have to cook them. Obviously smaller chunks means a shorter cooking time, whilst larger chunks though take longer are preferred by some people.
While the potatoes are blanched, place the roasting tray into the oven, with a good splash of olive oil and one of sunflower oil. The key here is to heat the pan and the oil. I put the pan into the hot oven (with the oil added) for at least five minutes, not too long though.
After blanching the potatoes, drain and the key here is to let the heat dry the potatoes. If they go into the pan “wet” they won’t crisp up well. The next stage is to slightly “bash” the potatoes by shaking the colander or sieve, this will aid the crisping process too. Then remove the roasting pan from the oven and add the potatoes, turning them and maybe a little more “bashing”.
You should also ensure that the potatoes are not too crowded, in other words they need air to be crisp.
Cooked for thirty to forty minutes (larger potatoes take longer). It is a good idea to turn the potatoes half way through to ensure a more even crispness. The end result should be tasty, crisp potatoes with a fluffy centre.
I also roasted some parsnips, carrots and onions. These I just cut into chunks. Place in a bowl, add some olive oil, mix to ensure the vegetables are well coated before placing in a hot oven for about twenty to thirty minutes.
In addition in another roasting pan, I took some diced onion, sliced courgette, mushrooms and halved cherry tomatoes, these I roasted with a good dash of olive oil for ten minutes before adding some cubes of bread that soak up the juices and crisp up. Usually I will add these ingredients to the roasting tray I have roasted the meat in. However as I was poaching I just used a plain tray.
For gravy I made my own with a roux of butter, oil and flour to which I add stock and some red wine. Cook for at least five minutes.
To add colour and freshness I steamed some carrots, green beans and broccoli to serve with the meal.
In the dark and distant past the only mushrooms I bought were those white ones and on the odd special occasion I would get little white button mushrooms. More often used as texture rather than flavour for most dishes I would cook.
However it is now much easier to get a wider choice of mushrooms in your local supermarket. You can even get wild mushrooms in some.
For chinese cooking I do like using Oyster and Shitake. They are very different to your traditional closed and chestnut mushrooms so add an exoticness to any chinese cooking.
For all other times I use mushrooms my preference is for the Chestnut, mainly for flavour, but also for texture. I either use them as part of a recipe or cook them on their own. I do like to roast them with other vegetables to accompany a roast dinner. To cook them on their own I like to use a really hot pan and a little butter. On a low heat they will become soggy, on a higher heat they will shrink and the flavour will be really enhanced.
This is quite a quick meal and can be served with steamed vegetables and crispy potatoes.
I normally prefer ribeye cut of steak these days, with sirloin as second choice, as I prefer the flavour of ribeye. Rump, though cheaper, is often tougher than either ribeye or sirloin. I find fillet, not just more expensive, but often lacks flavour. Though in this dish it would work as the peppercorns and the pancetta add a striking flavour to the dish.
I prepare the steak by rubbing in some olive oil. Then in a plain unoiled hot pan I cook the steak. About half way through cooking I added some black peppercorns.
In order to save time, in a seperate pan I cooked off some pancetta and once they were nearly cooked added the mushrooms.
Removing the steak from the pan, once cooked, I added the pancetta and mushrooms and added half a tub of creme frache, which I let heat through.
I sliced the steak, put on the plate, poured over the sauce and served with steamed vegetables and crispy potatoes. It would also work well with plain rice.
The other week I was lucky enough to have dinner at the Mustard Seed Restaurant in Inverness. For my starter I had had the crayfish and salmon salad. For my main course I had the pan fried rump steak served with roasted fine diced black pudding and potatoes with parsley and garlic crème fraîche.
This was really really nice.
The steak was a rump steak, and I have found at many restaurants that rump steak can be quite tough, this one though was cooked to perfection and was very tender. I did ask for it to be cooked medium rare and I think that helped. The black pudding and potatoes were done well and really enhanced the steak. It was all complemented with the parsley and garlic crème fraîche, which had a subtle garlic flavour and the freshness worked well in opposition to the strong spiced flavour of the black pudding. Across those flavours you could still certainly taste the flavour of the beef.
Overall a really nice combination of ingredients, that was cooked well and was as a result delicious.
This is my simple and quick way of cooking a wonderful French peasant style dish of chicken, pork, sausage and lentils.
Place some chicken thighs and drumsticks in a roasting pan, add some chunks of pork belly. You could use a jointed chicken if you wanted. Drizzle with olive oil and place in a hot oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes.
Cook some large pork sausages in the oven, as these take less time, put them in a little later.
In a large pan, soften some pancetta, diced onions and peppers. Once soft, add a knob of butter and some flour, stir well. Now add herbs, wine and stock. Cook for about ten minutes.
In a hot frying pan, cook some chopped mushrooms.
Prepare the dish.
Take the cooked liquid, add the roast chicken and pork. Slice the sauages and add them and the mushrooms to the pan. I used tinned Puy Lentils, but you could use cooked lentils or a tin of another kind. Mix well and heat through.
For the grilled chicken, take a chicken breast, I used a free range corn fed chicken breast which I flattened with my hand (though you could take a rolling pin to it). I seasoned the chicken with seasoning and olive oil before placing under a hot grill for 15-20 minutes.
For the lentils eat a frying pan and add some chopped pancetta. There is no need to add any extra oil as there is usually sufficient fat in the pancetta.
Finely chop an onion. Add the onion to the frying pan with the pancetta.
I softened in a frying pan, the finely chopped onion with the pancetta. When the onion was nicely soft I then added some red wine and beef stock before simmering it down.
I use beef stock over chicken stock just because of the colour rather than flavour. I then reduced and reduced this.
Then add some sliced mushrooms.
I then added the green lentils, I used a tin, for convenience and speed. Once the lentils had heated through I then plated up.
On go the lentils and then slice the grilled chicken and place on top.