Tag Archives: seasonalfood

A winter coleslaw with red cabbage

This side dish incorporates seasonal ingredients in a delightfully sharp and crunchy salad.  It’s sharpness and acidity comes from the lemon juice and endive (chicory) but there are elements of sweetness that come through the apple and sultanas.  If you prefer a slightly sweeter salad, simply replace the lemon juice with quince or redcurrant jelly as this will give both sweetness and a slight tanginess that will complement the coleslaw nicely.

I would strongly suggest that you resist the temptation to put the ingredients in a food processor – whilst it may be more convenient, the vegetables can become a little watery and the red cabbage has a tendency to turn things purple. So, my advice would be, take a bit more time and slice the fruit and vegetables by hand.

I served this coleslaw with my classic lasagne but it would be a good accompaniment to my chicken in breadcrumbs or just as side salad for other dishes.  Enjoy!

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Winter Coleslaw

Ingredients:  (Serves 3-4)

  • 400g red cabbage (finely sliced)
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  • 1 apple (finely sliced)
  • 1 endive (finely sliced)
  • Small handful of walnuts
  • Small handful of sultanas (or dried cranberries)
  • 2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ a lemon (or if you prefer a sweeter coleslaw 2tsp of quince or redcurrant jelly)

Steps:DSC_0549 (3)

  1. Combine the red cabbage, apple, endive, walnut and sultanas in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the mayonnaise and the lemon juice stir well, before adding to the other ingredients and stirring in well so that there is an even covering.

Venison and Black Sheep Ale

I made this meal a couple of weeks ago using some of venison that we were given by the local hunt.  When I was last in England I brought back a selection of ciders and ales that I had wanted to try cooking with in various meals and venison cooked slowly in ale was one of the things I had wanted to try.

The venison became beautifully tender and the ale gave the dish a slightly sweet taste.  The one mistake I made when I cooked this dish was that I cut the pieces of potato and Jerusalem artichokes too small, so they broke up during cooking process – in future I will leave the artichokes whole and cut the potatoes into much larger pieces.

 

Venison and Black Sheep Ale

Ingredients:

  • 700g venison (cut into bite sized chunks)
  • 500ml Black Sheep Ale (or equivalent)
  • 3-4 carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 2 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large chunks)
  • 8 small Jerusalem artichokes
  • 3-4 baby onions (quartered)
  • 4-5 shallots
  • 6-7 garlic cloves
  • handful of flour
  • beef stock cube
  • sprig of thyme
  • 2oz butter
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2tbsp redcurrant jelly (as needed)

Steps:

1.  Place the sugar, butter, thyme, onions, shallots and garlic in a casserole dish – cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.

2.  Flour and season the venison, then add to the casserole dish cook for 3-5 minutes on a high heat.

   

3. Add all the other ingredients, except the redcurrant jelly to the casserole dish, stir well and add a little water if necessary to ensure that the meat and vegetables are covered.

4.  Place in the oven and cook at 160C fan for 2-2½hours.

5.  Once cooked remove from the oven, taste and add a little redcurrant jelly as needed.  Enjoy with vegetables of your choice!

Chestnut Cupcakes

A couple of days ago I tried out another idea I had for using fresh chestnuts since we had some sitting in a fruit bowl waiting to be used.  I had been wondering for the last couple of days how they would work in a cake.  So, after preparing my chestnuts, I gave it a go.  The resultant cake was delightfully crumbly and light.  It was much sweeter than I thought it would turn out but was just what I needed after an afternoon spent painting.

The one thing I would say if you do make these cupcakes is make sure there is no husk left on any of the chestnuts before you grind them up as it can make the cupcakes have a slightly gritty texture.  If you can’t find fresh chestnuts then using tinned or vacuum packed chestnuts would be fine.

 

Chestnut Cupcakes

Ingredients: (makes 12)

For the cake:

  • 4oz chestnuts (ground finely – see chestnut preparation)
  • 5oz caster sugar
  • 5oz butter
  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For the frosting:

  • 2oz chestnuts (finely ground)
  • 2oz butter
  • ½tsp salt
  • 6-7oz icing sugar

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 170C fan.

2.  Grease and flour a muffin tin or cupcake tin.

3.  Place all of the ingredients for the cake together in a bowl, beat together using an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes.

4.  Spoon the cake batter into the muffin tin.  Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (or until a skewer comes out of the cupcakes cleanly).


    

5.  Run a knife carefully around the sides of the cupcakes then tip them out onto a cooling rack.

6.  Whilst the cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting.  Combine the butter, chestnuts and salt in a bowl.  Gradually add in the icing sugar stirring continuously until you have a fairly stiff frosting.

7.  Spoon a little of the frosting onto each of the cupcakes and smooth it over using the back of the spoon.  Serve with a cup of tea or coffee.  Enjoy!


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.

A hearty chestnut soup

Given that chestnuts are very much in season at the moment I thought I would share another recipe in quick succession.  We ate this today for lunch and it was ideal after a long morning of painting.  I did all the preparation for the soup first thing so that I could literally throw everything in a saucepan and cook it when I came back into the house for lunch.

The soup is a wonderful combination of flavours, the carrots and chestnuts provide a certain sweetness, whilst the lardons add the right amount of salt to give it balance. The soup was fresh and filling and I am fairly sure we will be enjoying another batch of this again next week!

 

A hearty chestnut soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 2 baby/small leeks (sliced)
  • 12-15 chestnuts (see chestnut preparation)
  • 100g lardons
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 litre of good stock
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1.  Place the lardons in a saucepan with a little oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on a high heat.

2.  Add the carrots and potatoes, stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

3.  Add the stock, leeks, thyme and seasoning, stir and cook for 10 minutes.

4.  Finally add the chestnuts and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Serve.

Seasonal quiche with chestnuts

I got a little bit excited when I went to the market on Monday because chestnuts were being sold in abundance.  When I see chestnuts being sold I always think of Christmas.  Chestnuts roasted over a fire, served with a little butter is my idea of heaven.  Chestnuts add a creamy sweetness to dishes making a very pleasant addition.

They do require a little bit of effort in their preparation, however it is worth taking the time and effort.   Below is a brief description of how I prepare my chestnuts before using them in a range of other dishes.

Preparation of Chestnuts:

  • Cut the chestnuts in half using a sharp knife (be careful as they can be fairly tough and the knife can slip). Discard any that are discoloured in the middle.
  • Place the chestnuts in a pan of boiling water and a little salt.
  • Bring back up to the up to the boil and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Drain the water off and then wash the chestnuts in cold water.
  • With any luck the chestnuts will have popped out of their shells however, if they haven’t, peel the shells off and use a knife to get rid of any of the husk.
  • Place the chestnuts in cold water until you need them.

The recipe below uses a number of seasonal ingredients which means the quiche is packed full of flavour.  The only sadness I had when making the quiche was the colour of the eggs. Sadly our chickens are off-lay as they are moulting at the moment, consequently we had to use shop bought eggs instead, which I always find a little bit disappointing as they are just not the same…

 

Seasonal quiche with chestnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 100g lardons
  • 12-15 chestnuts (prepared as above)
  • ½ a sweet bell pepper (finely sliced)
  • 1 mushroom (diced)
  • 1 baby/small leek (finely sliced)
  • 1tsp thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  • Seasoning
  • hard cheese (for grating over the quiche)

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 190C fan.

2.  Place the lardons and thyme in a frying pan with a little oil and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the leeks, peppers, mushrooms and chestnuts to the pan, stir together and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

4.  Whisk the eggs, milk, crème fraiche and seasoning together in a bowl. 

   

5.  Place the pastry in a flan dish, spoon over the bacon and vegetables, pour over the egg mix, then grate over some cheese.

6.  Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

7.  Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before eating.

 

Venison pasty

This weekend a member of the hunt came over bearing a side of roe deer as a thank you for allowing them to shoot on our land; so on Monday it needed to be butchered into manageable pieces.  After about an hour and a lot of knife sharpening I had a huge leg, a long slab of fillet, a kidney and about 2 ½ kilos of stewing meat packed away in freezer bags.  You might be wondering where the shoulder went – as the deer was shot just behind the foreleg it meant there were bits of bone fragment and shot around the shoulder.  Consequently, it was easier to clean and remove the bits of bone fragment from the shoulder by cutting it into stewing meat.

In France they do not tend to hang meat (in general) for very long – in this instance the deer had not been hung at all!   Therefore I was interested to see how it would affect the tenderness of the meat given that I was not going to be slow cooking it before putting it in the pastry.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the deer was not at all tough.  What I must stress however, is that it is incredibly important to try and remove as much of the sinew, veins and membrane as you can before you cook the meat.  This can be very time consuming, but it is worthwhile as it stops the meat becoming chewy or tough.

I decided to make some pasties using a little of the stewing meat and the kidney.  Last year I did a sailing course in Falmouth and it was there I discovered how comforting a good pasty can be – particularly after you had spent the entire day getting cold and wet on a boat.  The thing that I noticed when I had tried them was the importance of good seasoning, as it can make or break a pasty, so don’t be shy about using a healthy amount of salt and pepper.  The recipe below would work well with beef or chicken if you can’t get your hands on some venison.  If you fancy making it completely vegetarian just add some other vegetables in the place of the meat, for example carrots, spinach, butternut squash, Jerusalem artichokes, etc..

 

 

Venison Pasty

Ingredients: (makes 3 large pasties)

For the pastry:

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 2oz chilled butter
  • 2oz chilled hard margarine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp water (to bind)
  • 1 beaten egg (for glazing)

For the filling:

  • 400g venison (any sinew and membrane removed and chopped into chunks)
  • 1 kidney (de-veined and chopped into chunks)
  • 1 medium potato (peeled and diced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 baby turnips (peeled and diced)
  • 2-3tbsp red wine
  • sprinkling thyme
  • seasoning

Steps:

1. Firstly make the pastry – place the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the butter and margarine into cubes, add to the dry mix.

2. Using your fingers crumb together the mixture (don’t worry if you have a few small bits of butter that haven’t broken down).

3. Then add the water (a little bit at a time) until the pastry comes together and you can make a ball.  Wrap the pastry in some cling-film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

4. Whilst the pastry is chilling prepare you’re your filling, by mixing all of the ingredients together in a bowl, cover with cling film and set to one side until you are ready to use it.

   

5.Once the pastry has been chilled, remove from the fridge cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll out each ball on a floured surface to your preferred thickness, then using a bowl/plate as a template cut out a circle roughly 20cm in diameter.

6. Divide the filling equally between each of the pastry circles.  

   

7. Using a pastry brush, gently brush some of the beaten egg around the edge of the pastry to help it seal when you fold it over into a “D” shape.

8. Seal the pastry together first using your fingers and then take a fork and gently press down on the edges to form a crimped edge.

9. Finally, place the pasties on an oven tray that you have lined with greaseproof paper, brush the outside of the pasties with some of the egg wash and using a knife pierce the top of the pasties twice (this will allow the steam to escape whilst it is cooking).

10. Place the pasties in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan for 40-45 minutes. Serve.