Tag Archives: winterwarmers

Chilli con carne, jacket potato and coleslaw!

Everyone has their own ‘go to’ comfort food and I think that chilli con carne is in my top five.  What I like about this dish is that the chilli offers warmth and a little bit of spice whilst the coleslaw counteracts some of that spice and provides certain freshness and a pleasant crunch. Finally, a jacket potato with its crispy skin and wonderfully soft middle fills you up and soaks up all the other flavours on the plate.  Perfect comfort food!

I recently entered a competition for comfort food with my lemon drizzle cake with raspberry sauce.  It did quite well and was selected as one of the top 10 recipes. However, sadly it did not win.  Since entering the competition I have been thinking about comfort food and how what food I go to for comfort changes during the course of the year.  For example, in the summer, my preferred comfort food is the aforementioned cake because it is so light and refreshing and gives you a brilliant sugar rush but on the whole doesn’t make you feel that guilty…  Whereas, in the autumn months, chilli con carne and lasagne are two of my favourites, particularly when the cold wet weather and short days are getting me down.

Chilli con carne

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 300g mince
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • seasoning
  • oil

Steps:

1.  Place the onion, garlic, sugar and a little oil in a pan – cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.

2.  Add the mince and spices and cook until the meat has browned off.

3.  Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and season well, cook on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

4.  Finally add the kidney beans and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

Salted Jacket Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (ideally Maris Piper, King Edward or Mona Lisa)
  • Salt

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 200C fan

2.  Wash the potatoes well removing any bruises, eyes and bad bits.

3.  Sprinkle salt all over the potatoes.

4.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.  To see if the potatoes are cooked either see if a knife goes through easily or, preferably, give the potatoes a squeeze to check if the middle is soft enough.

5.  Serve with a little butter.

Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 400g white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp mayonnaise

Steps:

1.  Grate the cabbage, onion, apple and carrots using either a manual grater or a food processor.  (Personally I prefer it when the vegetables are coarsely grated).

2.  Place the grated fruit and vegetables into a bowl, add the mayonnaise and mix well.  Serve.

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.

Curry Night – A rich tomato based lamb curry

You can’t beat a good curry!  If I was getting a takeaway 90% of the time I would go for a curry.   When I was younger I used to really enjoy the coconut based curries like Korma, however over the years I have started prefer slightly spicier tomato based curries.  The curry I probably order the most is a Rogan Josh closely followed by a Bhuna.  It is fairly hard to come by a good curry out in France so I have had to try to make my own.  I am not a huge fan of shop bought sauces because quite a few of them leave an aniseed after-taste in your mouth.  That being said, they are very useful when you are in a rush and want to have a curry quickly.

By contrast, the type of curry I have been making is a very slow cooked lamb curry, whilst it uses a lot of spices it is very simple to make.  The joy of this curry is that once it is cooked the meat falls of the bone and is beautifully tender.  The spices I use give the curry a gentle warmth and would probably be best described as a medium spiced curry.  For my friends who struggle with its heat I serve a yoghurt dip (a combination of yoghurt, lemon zest and cucumber) and sliced banana which counters all of the spice.  Whilst I prefer this curry to be made with lamb I have in the past made it with rabbit and chicken which worked equally as well.

Below is a picture of my spice line up –

 

A rich tomato based lamb curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 cardamom pods (shells removed)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  •  2 onions (sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 heap tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes
  • ½ pint stock
  • 750g – 1kg lamb (cut into chunks)
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.
  2. Place spices in a pestle and mortar and grind together.
  3. Place the garlic, onions, spices and oil in a large casserole pot (with a lid) and leave to cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.
  4. Add the lamb and leave to brown for roughly 5 minutes.
  5. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the casserole pot, give it a good stir before covering with the lid and placing in the oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours.
  6. Serve with rice and mango chutney.