Category Archives: one-pot

Smoky roasted butternut squash soup (Serves: 4/6 – Preparation time: +1hr)

Pumpkins and squashes come in all manner of shapes and sizes and in my opinion they are one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook with.  The good news is right now they are in season and fairly cheap to buy!  For today’s recipe I have decided to keep things simple and turn butternut squash into a wonderfully velvety soup which is perfect served in a mug for bonfire night or as a starter for a dinner party with crusty French bread on the side.

The vibrant orange colour of this soup is hugely inviting and has the effect of making you warmer simply by looking at it. However, it is the paprika in this recipe transforms this soup – turning it from the sweet delicate taste of the squash into a rich smoky flavour that makes you want to keep going back for more.

This is definitely a recipe to try this autumn/winter whilst butternut squash is in season and at its best.  The soup freezes well so can be made up in large quantities and squirrelled away until you need it.  Enjoy!

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Oxtail casserole (Serves: 4 – Preparation time: 3.5hrs)

As the dark evenings draw in and the temperature starts to drop off rich stews and casseroles come into their own.  The recipe below is a fine example of cooking ‘low and slow’ which results in the meat becoming mouth-wateringly tender and falls off the bone.

Whilst I was in France a couple of weeks ago with some of my school friends, a debate started over what is the difference between a stew and a casserole.  After a lengthy discussion and a bit of googling we learnt that stewing is done on the top of a cooker with heat being applied directly to the underneath of the pot; while casseroling takes place inside the oven with heat circulating all around the pot. In both cases the meat is cut up fairly small and cooked in a liquid (stock, wine, water, cider, etc).  So it transpires that I have been using the terminology wrongly for many years – whoops.

The recipe below is for oxtail casserole which uses Guinness as a substitute for tomatoes and stock on the basis that it has a lovely earthy and almost bitter flavour which combined with the red currant jelly becomes beautifully mellow.  Whilst I cooked this in a cast iron casserole dish this recipe would work really well in a slow cooker, however make sure that you cook it on a low setting for around 6-7 hours.

For presentation purposes I took the oxtail off the bone and served in a roasted squash, which looked lovely.  However I have a confession to make, after decanting the casserole into the squash is dawned on me that whilst pretty it was highly impractical, so I ended up tipping it back into the pot before serving and it saved me from one heck of a mess. In hindsight I should have served the oxtail on the bone (2 per person is about right) with wedges of roasted squash and green vegetables on the side.  As they say “you live and learn”…  Enjoy!

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Moroccan spiced shoulder of lamb with apricots (Serves: 4 – Preparation time: 1.5hrs)

One-pot cooking is incredibly convenient for washing up purposes but also in terms of ease.  The idea with this style of cooking is that you can throw everything into a casserole dish, cover and leave to bubble away in the oven without needing to think about it until it is time to serve.    The added bonus with this particular dish is longer you leave it the more succulent and tender the lamb becomes.

As this dish cooks, the juices from both the apricots and lamb seep into the sweet potato mixture turning it into a stuffing that is infused with all the flavours of the dish.  I would recommend serving this meal with simple accompaniments for example fluffy couscous and steamed green vegetables so that you can relish the taste of the lamb.  This recipe would be a good alternative to a traditional Sunday roast, or would make a great centrepiece for a dinner party. Enjoy!

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Prawn dhansak (serves: 5 – preparation time: 1.5hrs)

Mid-week entertaining can be a little bit tricky as you want to be able to talk to your guests instead of being tied to the kitchen.  For this reason when I have friends over in the middle of the week I tend only to cook meals that can bubble away gently in the slow cooker whilst I am at work, or that I can prepare in advance.  This week I had three friends over for supper on Wednesday, and knowing that time would not be on my side that evening I went for the prepare in advance option.

It was my housemate’s boyfriend that first got me into making Dhansak curry and I am delighted that he did!  Dhansak is a lentil based curry that is ever so slightly sweet and can be spiced up according to your own preference.  If prawns are not your thing, substitute with chicken thighs (de-skinned but preferably still on the bone to enhance the flavour) – just add them to the curry at the same time as the lentils and they will poach in the liquid.

One of the great advantages to this type of curry is that it all made in one pot, which saves on washing up – WIN!  I would strongly recommend giving this recipe a go as it is both hearty and fresh tasting, and dare I say it much tastier than a takeaway curry…  Enjoy!

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Chilli beef

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Is it wrong that I wish the weather at the moment was a little colder?  With the clocks having gone back almost a month ago I feel somewhat cheated that the weather hasn’t turned and started to get cooler.  London is decidedly grey at the moment giving the sense that winter is on its way but yet it is still warm outside which is mildly disconcerting.  I can’t wait until we start getting the frosty mornings with the brilliant clear blue skies that justify you making comfort food.

Perhaps it was wishful thinking when I got the stewing beef out of the freezer at the weekend with the view to making something both hearty and warming.  Well the balmy weather has certainly not deterred my plans for the stewing beef and last night I made Chilli Beef.  I suppose in reality Chilli Beef is really a play on Chilli Con Carne but in a stew format.  The combination of the spices and the tomatoes in this recipe create a wonderfully rich sauce.  For me though it is the smoked paprika in this recipe that makes this Chilli Beef something special as it adds a real depth of flavour that makes you want to go back for seconds.

This recipe can be made in advance and reheated when you need it which makes it a good option for when you have friends coming around for supper during the week.  I would recommend serving the Chilli Beef with something simple like boiled rice and a green vegetable of your choice.  Bon appétit!

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Chilli Beef

Ingredients:

400 g stewing beef
salt and pepper
2 onions sliced finely
3 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 beef stock cube
Water to deglaze the pan
½ a fresh chilli chopped finely
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 to 2 tbsp of honey to sweeten
1 tin of kidney beans (400g)

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (Fan)
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, add the beef to the mixture and stir until the beef is well coated.
  1. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan on a high heat. Add the beef and any remaining dry mix to the pan stirring from time to time until the beef has browned off.
  1. Turn the heat down and add the onions and garlic to the pan. Continue to cook until the onions have softened stirring as required.
  2. Whilst the onions are cooking, dissolve the beef stock cube in a little boiling water and use the liquid to deglaze the pan. It is best to use a wooden spoon to do this so that you do not scratch the bottom of your pan.
  1. Next add the tomatoes, fresh chilli, tomato purée and honey to the pan and stir well.
  1. Cover the pan with the lid and place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes before adding the kidney beans. Return the pan to the oven and cook for a further 1hr 20mins.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is a French classic originating in the French region of Burgundy.  It is therefore not altogether surprising that is traditionally made using a red Burgundy.  This is my take on the dish, using local/home-grown ingredients.  This dish needs very slow cooking at a low temperature.  I tend to cook mine it two stages – I cook it in the morning for 3 hours at 140C fan , I then leave it to sit in the oven until the evening when I cook it for a second time for 1 ½ hours at 160C fan, as I find this helps the flavours to mature.

As with all slow cooking, meat becomes beautifully tender and falls apart.  One word of advice when making this dish – don’t cut your vegetables too small as they can fall apart, and half the beauty of a meal like this is finding a lovely piece of mushroom or carrot.  My tendency is to serve it in a large bowl so that none of the sauce falls off a plate.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1 – 1.25kg stewing beef (gristle and excess fat removed cut into manageable chunks)
  • 750ml red wine (I used a local wine called Coteaux du Quercy but any full-bodied, fruity red wine will do)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 handfuls plain flour
  • 150g lardons
  • 1 red onion (thickly sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves ( minced)
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 6-8 carrots (cut into large chunks)
  • 6-8 small onions (cut in half)
  • 6 mushrooms (cut into large chunks)
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Put the beef, wine, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns into a large bowl and leave to marinate for as long as possible – preferably overnight.

2.  Once marinated, remove the beef from the red wine marinade (keep the marinade as you will need it later) and place it in a bowl with the flour and some seasoning.  Make sure it is well coated.

3.  Heat some oil in a large casserole dish, brown off the beef in batches.

4.  Remove the beef from the casserole dish and set to one side whilst you cook the red onion and lardons for 4-5 minutes.  Once cooked, add the beef and stir well.

5.  Add the marinade, stock, garlic, onions, and carrots and cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes.

6.  Cover the casserole dish and place in the oven at 140C fan for 3 hours.

7.  After 3 hours add the mushrooms, stir well and if possible let it sit for a while before cooking for a further 1 ½ hours at the higher temperature of 160C fan.

8.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with French bread or a jacket potato and the vegetables of your choice.

Lamb and Bean Casserole

As the winter months are starting to set in, it is worthwhile having a couple of casserole recipes at your fingertips.  Casseroles in my opinion are wonderful because you can leave them to cook away in the oven at a low temperature and know that after 2-3 hours you will have an amazingly tender meat and vegetable casserole ready to eat.  The other major benefit to a casserole is that there is really no need to serve anything with them other than some French bread – this is because the casserole contains all the carbohydrates and vegetables to make it a well-rounded meal.

A casserole dish is an invaluable piece of kit to have in your kitchen; however if you don’t have one then you could always use a deep oven-proof dish that you cover with a double layer of tin foil.  If you do this you will need to make sure that the tin foil is on very tight so that the steam stays inside the dish whilst it is cooking.

 

Lamb and Bean Casserole

Ingredients:

  • shoulder of lamb
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 2 carrots (diced)
  • 3 celery stalks (diced)
  • a small bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • tin of tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½pt vegetable stock
  • a tin of Cannellini white beans (800g)
  • 2 glasses of red wine
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.

2.  Place Lamb in a large casserole dish with a little oil and cook for 5 minutes allowing the meat to brown off a little.

3.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, pepper, seasoning and paprika and mix well.

4.  Finally add all the other ingredients, cook for 10 minutes to allow it to come up to heat before placing in the oven and cooking for 2 – 2½ hours until the meat is meltingly tender and falls off the bone.

5.  Remove from the oven.  Take the shoulder out of the casserole and strip off any meat that may still be attached to the bones.  Cut the meat into bite sized chunks before returning the meat to the casserole dish; stir the well before serving with a slice of French bread.

Autumnal soup

I have been mushroom hunting over the last couple of days as the weather has turned recently, producing “perfect” mushroom growing conditions – so I have been told.  This is the first year that I have turned my hand to this local sport as the land surrounding where we live is meant to be very rich for mushrooms.  In the spring I collected St George mushrooms (that were delicious in a rabbit pie) and Girolles which I used in an array of sauces.  However, I have only ever found three Cepes which are meant to be the most common mushroom in our area.  Earlier in the year I asked a local family who are members of the hunt whether they felt it was a good or bad year for mushrooms.  After much conferring they announced that it was a very poor year as they had only been able to find 20 kilos of Cepes in three hours!  This made me think that I am clearly doing something wrong, or I am not getting to the mushrooms before the other mushroom hunters.

So, now that the conditions are right I have decided to give mushroom hunting another try and recently I have come across several different types.  This has been great though the next problem has been that I have been unable to identify them bar one, a rather unattractive mushroom called ‘Langue de Boeuf’ (Beef Tongue).  A few days ago I went to the local pharmacy as they are supposed to be trained to identify mushrooms – however, unfortunately the man who would normally be able to help was away.

 

Today, one of our workmen with a great knowledge of all things to do with nature was on site, so I consulted him even though the mushrooms were a couple of days old.  He took a good look at them and said the following wise words, “as I do not know exactly what they are, you need to apply the number 1 rule of mushroom hunting, if you are even the slightest bit unsure what type they are NEVER eat them!”  He then regaled a story of one of his friends, who went mushroom collecting one day and came back with some mushrooms he thought he recognised, he ate some of them but as they didn’t taste particularly nice so he fed the rest to his dog.  That night the man was terribly ill, to such an extent he was admitted to hospital the following day but fortunately he recovered, the dog however sadly did not, and died.  Taking both this story and the number one rule of mushroom hunting into account I decided the best approach was to place the mushrooms in the bin.  (If anyone does have an idea what type of mushrooms these could be please do let me know.)

After my failed attempt at mushroom hunting I headed in the direction of our vegetable garden and decided to see if there was anything that was ready to be picked.  I found some baby turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, a diminutive pumpkin and a Praying Mantis.  I felt the best way to enjoy them (the vegetables not the Praying Mantis) was to put them into a chunky autumnal soup.  I decided to not to blend the soup because I wanted to keep the flavours separate as Jerusalem artichokes can overpower the other flavours when everything is all blending together.

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Carrot and red lentil soup

Each week we buy a 2kg bag of carrots which disappear fairly rapidly.  You might think that this is because we, as a family absolutely adore carrots and can’t get enough of them – but this is not the case.  The truth is, there is a lot of competition for carrots in our house from our four legged friends, in the form of our two donkeys (Sampson & Delilah) and two dogs (Shadow and Biggles).  I suspect you might be thinking -donkeys and carrots sure, but dogs – really?!   When we got the donkeys five years ago the standard form of bribery treat was carrot – the dogs quickly cottoned on to this and started to lurk around the donkeys whilst the carrot was being given and in an attempt to not show an form of favouritism the dogs were duly given a bit of carrot.

Sampson (right) and Delilah (left)

Over the years “CARROT” has become one of the few words that the dogs respond to.  Shadow who is a 12½ year old Belgian Shepherd will now only go outside in the evenings if someone goes to the fridge and gets out a piece of carrot (I think our dogs have us all figured out).   I wish I could also say that I was joking when I tell you that Biggles our 8 year old Springer Spaniel comes rushing into the kitchen when he hears a vegetable peeler being taken out of the drawer and will sit by me until he receives the carrot peelings (he always looks so disappointed when it turns out I am peeling potatoes instead).

Today, I decided it was our turn to enjoy the carrots rather than giving them to the animals.  I’d made some stock the other day and I wanted to use it in a soup.  So, this morning I set to work and made a Carrot and Red Lentil Soup.


Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 200g Red Lentils
  • 4 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds (crushed)
  • 1 litre stock
  • Seasoning
  • Oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

  1. Prepare the lentils by soaking them in water for 30-45 minutes, then drain.
  2. Place the onions and garlic in a large saucepan with a little oil and some sugar.  Cook on a low heat until soft.
  3. Add the cumin, coriander and carrots and cook stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes, before adding the stock and the lentils.
  4.  Cook on a medium heat for 20-30 minutes or until the carrots are cooked.
  5. Season according to your tastes and then liquidise the soup, before serving with a little cream or crème fraiche.

Stuffed red peppers

Due to the nature of the food that is available in the local markets and supermarkets around us the majority of the food I make is seasonal.  At the moment I am having to find inventive ways to cook peppers, courgettes, aubergines as they are just so cheap.  I love these types of vegetables in curries or just simply roasted, however, it is just too hot for that type of food at the moment.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been making stuffed peppers as they are a little bit different and look very pretty on a plate with some salad.  I find stuffed peppers are relatively simple to make and the other joy with them is you can  turn them into a great vegetarian option by simply removing the meat from the recipe and they are just as tasty.  I tend to use blue cheese as I just love its taste, however mozzarella works very nicely as well.

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