Every now and then when we ask the kids what they want for tea they answer with something that strikes fear into me!
Gnocchi is one of them!
They love potato gnocchi and indeed so do I, however, making gnocchi for six hungry people, it’s one of the more… shall we say… time consuming dishes!
However sometimes you just have to and for all the time it takes and mess it causes the end result is always worth it.
Of course you can always cheat and get your gnocchi ready made from the supermarket!
I have to say that I’m not keen on gnocchi when it’s boiled and served in a sauce… it just doesn’t do it for me. However we do love it when it’s gently poached and then fried in butter so it’s nicely caramelised and slightly crispy. It makes an Epic! (Kids description!) side dish when served like this.
I had bought some nice Tuna steaks that had been on special offer and as we don’t have Tuna very often I thought they deserved something a bit special. It was decided that we have them with gnocchi and some chick peas tossed in a nice lemon, butter sauce flavoured with just a touch of cumin.
When I make gnocchi I have to say I normally just wing it! I add flour, egg and a touch of baking powder to some mash potato (usually leftovers!) and hope for the best!
However here is a recipe for those that don’t want to take the risk!
6 large potatoes peeled and cut into four
1 medium egg
3 handfuls plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt and pepper
Place the potatoes in a pan and just cover with salted water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
Drain the potatoes well and put back in the pan, leave for a couple of minutes for the potatoes to dry out a little then mash or put through a potato ricer.
In a large bowl whisk the egg and add the seasoning and a splash of water. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix together until you have a soft dough. If it’s too wet add a little more flour, if it’s too dry add a splash more water.
Divide the dough into four. Take one piece of dough and on a floured board roll into a long sausage shape. Use a blunt knife to cut the dough making little pillow shapes. place the dough pieces on a floured tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Once all the dough has been used up, place the tray with the cut dough on it in the fridge for ten minutes or so to firm up.
To cook the gnocchi bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Carefully drop the gnocchi in and bring back to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for a couple minutes or until the gnocchi floats on the surface of the water.
Once cooked the gnocchi can be drained and either tossed in a sauce or coated in a little oil to either serve later (just drop into boiling water to warm up or heat in a sauce) or be fried. To fry the gnocchi melt some butter in a frying pan and when sizzling drop in the gnocchi, keep turning until the gnocchi are nicely coloured and golden.
We had our gnocchi this time with a nice seared tuna steak and a simple sauce consisting of a little onion and garlic sautéed in butter with chicken stock, a splash of white wine, zest and juice of a lemon, cooked chick peas, ground cumin and finished with yet more butter!
A simple salad of chunky tomato, cucumber and onion drizzled with a little vinegar and a pinch of sugar and seasoning is all that was needed for a superb tasting, Mediterranean style dish.
Sometimes, not very often but sometimes we have a meal which is quite simple and not spicy. Well, not that spicy!
Shepherds pie is one of those dishes. We don’t have it that often at all, so when we do it’s a real treat.
It’s one of those really comforting foods. Perfect for when the weather turns a bit cooler… like it did… in August!
Oh and it has to be lamb. None of this using minced beef and passing it off as shepherds pie, that’s Cottage Pie!
This recipe is a very basic recipe for Shepherds Pie. Proper Shepherds Pie. Like your Mum used to make but better! Not curried Keema Shepherds pie. Not Clapshot Pie and not Shepherds pie where you’ve ponced about slow roasting a leg of lamb, used the juices to make the gravy and with anchovies in etc. Plain and simple Shepherds Pie.
This recipe will give six to eight portions so you could halve it if you don’t want to make so much. Or why not get some foil containers so you can do some individual portions which can be put in the freezer for another day.
1.2 Kilo minced lamb
2 medium onions diced
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
4 medium sized carrots diced
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce (dark)
2 tablespoon plain flour
2 litre of hot stock (chicken or beef)
For the mash
2.5 Kilo potatoes (I find red are good for mash, or Maris Piper)
1 large egg
25 gram butter
1 tablespoon milk
To make the filling heat a little oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and add the onion, garlic and carrot. Fry for a couple of minutes until the onion is translucent and beginning to colour. Add the minced beef, stir to break it up add the seasoning and spices and fry until the meat has browned. Add the soy sauce and stir. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Put back on the heat and add the stock a little at a time stirring all the time until the mixture comes to a simmer. This now needs to cook for at least 45 minutes. Don’t worry if it looks a lot of liquid. You strain the meat to go in your pie dish so you are left with a lovely gravy to accompany your meal.
To make the mash. Peel the potatoes and 1/2 or 1/4 them depending on size. The bigger the size the fluffier your mash will be. Put in a pan and just cover with cold, salted water then put on to boil. Once up to the boil your potatoes should take 30 – 45 minutes to cook. Once cooked drain and put back in the pan. Give the potatoes a quick blast of heat from the hob and then leave them until the steam reduces to nearly nothing at which point you potatoes should be nice and dry. Throw in the butter and then mash your potatoes once broken up add the milk, beaten egg and seasoning and mash until smooth. Don’t overdo the potatoes otherwise you will end up with something resembling wall paper paste!
Now to assemble the finished dish. Strain the filling from the gravy using a slotted spoon, small sieve or colander into a deep baking dish or two. Reserve the leftover sauce to use as a flavour filled gravy to go with your pie. Don’t leave it next to the sink though or your better half may think you don’t want it and throw it down it! Once you have strained all the meat and veg into your dish carefully place the mash potato on top of the meat and gently spread out with the back of a spoon. Use a fork to put some ridges in the topping and if you want put a little sliced tomato on top.
To cook put in a pre-heated oven at 190°C or 170°C for fan assisted for around 50 minutes or until the topping is nicely browned.
Serve with the reserved gravy and whatever veg you fancy (peas go great!)
Mike, our butcher, had got a couple of Ox Cheeks in. I’ve never had them before but I thought I’d give them a go.
I’d read about them and understood that they needed a nice slow cook. Apparently they make an absolutely wicked chilli, or should that be cheeky chilli!
I think the bit of Irish in me had attuned to the fact that St Patricks day was approaching so I decided to cook these cheeky chappies in Guinness (other stouts are available…)with a few flat mushrooms, carrots and onions and serve them with a good dollop of Champ, that comforting dish of mashed potato with spring onions and lots of butter!
I have to say that I was not disappointed with the results. After quite a few hours of cooking I had a gorgeous dark gravy and the cheeks were moist and succulent and had a lovely beefy flavour that reminded me of a cross between beef shin and Ox tail.
The Cheeks went a long way too. They are quite rich due to the gelatinous nature of them so a little seems to go a long way. You shouldn’t pay a lot for them either which makes them a real bargain.
With the leftover meat, champ and gravy I made some potato cakes with the meat in the middle, baked them in the oven and served them with some peas and the leftover gravy… I’ll tell you something, leftovers don’t get much better!
I would recommend anyone to give Ox cheeks a go. They are a very forgiving meat to cook as long as they are cooked for plenty of time, they are cheap and extremely tasty. Don’t be put off by the look of them or the part of the animal they are from. They really are delicious which is probably why all the celebrity chefs are coming out with recipes for them… lets hope they don’t succeed in pushing up the price of these cheeky little morsels!
Recipe (to serve 8 adults)
2 Ox Cheeks (about 900g – 1 Kilo
1 large or two medium onions chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
4 large carrots cubed/sliced
8 – 12 flat mushrooms sliced
Plain flour (some)
About 400ml beef stock
2 x 500ml bottles of Guinness
1 or two star anise
1 Tablespoon muscavado sugar or other dark sugar
Pinch of thyme
Good pinch of salt to taste and a really good grind of black pepper
For the Champ
2 kilo peeled potatoes
2 bunch spring onions (12-16)
50 gram butter
When we had this we prepared it the day before we were going to have it so that it could be put straight in the oven to be ready for teatime. It’s a good idea to do if you have a busy day.
First off dice your onions and finely chop your garlic and fry gently in a large oven proof pan. Add the carrot, thickly sliced and continue to gently fry.
Prepare your Ox Cheek by taking off the outer thick bits of fat and any thick bits of membrane. Don’t worry too much about the state of your cheeks being perfect, after a long slow cook they’ll be fine.
Once the onion has softened and the carrot is stating too take on a bit of colour add your cheeks to brown.
Heat your stock ready to go in the pan.
Once your cheeks are nice and brown sprinkle over some flour to roughly coat everything in the pan. Continue to cook gently for a couple more minutes.
Add your stock a little at a time while giving everything a bit of a stir. You should end up with a thick paste. If it’s a little lumpy don’t worry as after a long cook it should cook out.
Now pour in your two bottles of Guinness. Remember to do a quality control taste on each bottle before adding!
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.
Once the liquid has come to the simmer you can either take off the heat, cool and refrigerate to cook the next day or it can be put in the oven to finish off.
The Stew can be cooked,covered, on 165°C for three hours or 150°C for about six hours. We put our stew straight in the oven from the fridge. We put it in a cold oven set to 150°c where it stayed for three hours and then we turned it up to 160°c for another three hours, after which it was cooked perfectly. The cheeks were lifted out of the gravy to rest while the gravy was put in the oven uncovered to reduce slightly.
As for the champ, well thats dead easy. Peel and cut your potatoes into approximately 1 1/2’’ chunks. Plonk into a pan and just cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes and put on a very low heat until the steam almost stops (meaning all the excess water has evaporated and you’ll have nice fluffy potatoes).
While your potatoes are finishing, put the onions, milk, butter and seasoning in a pan and warm gently allowing all the flavours to infuse.
When your potatoes are ready give them a good mashing and then fold the milk, butter and onion mixture into the potatoes.
Once your ready to plate up the Ox cheeks can be sliced or pulled apart with a fork. Simply put a dollop of Champ into a dish, place some Ox cheek on top then ladle some gravy over the top. We finished our dish off with a little purple sprouting broccoli.
A nice cheap meal that really tasted like something you should be paying a lot of money for in a trendy ‘Gastro’ pub.
Happy St Patricks Day everybody… enjoy your Guinness, in moderation… of course!
Here’s a traditional English dish given an ‘Ome Made twist, to be fair it was Kits idea. I was just going to do the plain English dish of lamb shoulder baked on top of layers of potato and onion, which in it’s own right is delicious. Add some spice, herbs and a curry sauce though and it takes the dish to a completely different level… This really was scrumptious! This is a fantastic dish to prepare the day before so that you can bang it in the oven the next day, forget about it and get on with all those things you need to catch up on, take the kids out or… go to the pub!
It really is simple. You will need a full or 1/2 shoulder of lamb. Some White potatoes, onions and garlic. I also used some dried mint, fresh coriander and some red chillies.
First of all slice some potatoes (skin on) thinly and some onions. These need to be layered in a deep buttered baking dish. I did about four layers adding seasoning as I went along. On the middle layer I put a heap of chopped fresh coriander, a couple of chopped red chillies and some dried mint. On the top layer I sprinkled some more mint and some black cumin seeds.
I then fried some mild curry masala in a little oil and added some chicken stock and let this cook for twenty minutes or so. Next prepare the lamb. With a sharp knife make a few slits in the meat and push in some pieces of garlic. Now rub the lamb all over with some Kashmiri Chilli powder and some ground cumin. Sit the lamb on top of the layered potatoes and onions and give it a good grind of black pepper and a good sprinkling of salt. Pour your curry sauce into the corners of the baking dish. You want enough so that it comes about 1/2 way up your potato and onion layer. Now cover the whole baking dish with a double layer of foil, creating a tight seal. When your ready to cook pre heat your oven to 200°c. Put the lamb in the oven and then turn the temperature down to 165°c Which means the lamb will be ready after about four hours (but should be fine up to six). If you want to cook it for longer (or your having a really long session in the pub!) then you can cook the lamb on 145°c. The lamb will then be ready after six hours but be even better after around eight hours. To finish the dish off, remove the baking dish from the oven. Carefully remove the lamb to a warmed plate or dish. The meat should be falling off the bone. The layered potatoes then need to go back in a hot oven to brown and start to crisp up. If the liquid is above the potatoes just spoon some off ’till you can see the top layer. Put the baking dish back in the oven for about twenty minutes.
To serve, pull apart the lamb, spoon out some potato into a dish and place the lamb on top, spoon a bit more of the curry sauce over. A nice dollop of natural yoghurt goes nicely with the dish but that’s all it really needs. A tasty, warming and comforting dish for a lovely lazy Sunday. Give it a go!
Soup… We absolutely love it in our house. Not the tinned variety of course. It has to be ‘Ome-made! And it’s so easy to make. You take your favourite ingredients sweat them off in some butter add some stock, cook for a bit and then blitz. Not leek and potato soup though, that can’t be blitzed. That’s completely breaking the rules, that has to be… ‘lumpy’.
If you make your own stock it’s even better. Even if it’s chucking the bones from the leftover roast chicken in a pot and boiling for an hour, you will be left with a nice base for a soup. Of course if your one of those non-meat eating types you can make a stock from those manky left over carrots at the back of the fridge any veg trimmings and some onion. If you roast the veg for 20 minutes or so you’ll get more flavour and a deeper colour to your stock too.
So heres a recipe for a soup I made the other day along with a recipe for some cumin, ginger and garlic croutons. If you don’t have the croutons with this soup I suggest putting the spices used to flavour them in the soup. Although this recipe has chillies and spices in it it is no way spicy. If you prefer it spicier just up the amount of red chili in the recipe.
Sweet Potato & Red Chili Soup
1 medium onion roughly sliced
2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
200g (a large baker) potato cubed
700g sweet potatoes (4 small or 3 medium)cubed
1 large carrot diced
1 teaspoon ground white pepper (or extra black if you haven’t)
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon mild curry massala (or curry powder)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 litre of stock
2 medium sized red chillies deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
Ground black pepper and salt to taste
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes.
Add both types of potato and carrot to the pan along with the white pepper, salt, curry massala, allspice and thyme. Gently sweat all the veg off for a further 10 minutes stirring so the spices don’t stick and burn.
Add your stock which should just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately forty minutes or until all the veg is cooked through and soft. Take off the heat and carefully blitz with a hand blender, blender or food processor.
Put back on the heat and add the remaining ingredients. The soup will be ready after 20 minutes.
Cumin Ginger & Garlic Croutons
8 slices white bread
2 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and black pepper
Cut the bread into cubes and put in a shallow roasting/baking tin.
Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the garlic, cumin and ginger. Give the croutons a good toss and then sprinkle a little more olive oil on them and toss them again.
Put in an oven preheated to 165°C on fan setting (185°C for conventional)the croutons will take 30 – 40 minutes but you need to regularly check on them and give them a shake or turn every 10 minutes or so.
Once the croutons are cooked they can be used straight away. Once the croutons are completely cool they can be put in a sealed container where they should be good for up to five days.
Happy soup making!
So Kit has to go to the emergency eye clinic, turns out she has got viral conjunctivitis, not nice.
Hmmm, was going to be chicken & mushroom lasagne for tea, made with some ‘Ome smoked chicken (done at the same time as the lamb for Easter).Thinking about it though seems as our house is ‘house of the lurg’ at the moment maybe a nice warming smoked chicken & sweetcorn chowder might be in order. There is nothing like a soup made with real chicken stock to kick those pesky virus and bacteria into touch!
Chicken & Sweetcorn Chowder (Serves 4-6)
You will need:
Leftover roast chicken (approximately 300g or two good handfuls, it doesn’t have to be smoked!)
Chicken stock (Boil up the bones from the roast chicken if you’ve had time. You want about a pint)
Milk or cream
sweetcorn (frozen or tinned)
Cooked potato (either leftover new potatoes or dice up a large baker and boil for 20 minutes)
Melt some butter, about 125g, in a pan. Add some chopped garlic (1 or 2 cloves) and some onion (1 medium sized). Fry gently for a couple minutes.
Add a tablespoon of flour to the pan and stir for a minute to help cook the flour out.
Add some stock (if it’s hot it will blend with the flour better and you will void lumps), a bit at a time and keep stirring to make a smooth paste. Once you’re at this stage you should be able to add the rest of the stock with no problems. Keep stirring until the sauce comes to a simmer (if it does go lumpy you can always get the hand blender in there or put in a liquidizer).
Add your chicken and potato and let that heat through for 10 minutes. You can then add the sweet corn and either a couple tablespoons of cream or about 1/4 pint of milk. The soup should be a nice thick consistency, if it’s too thick thin with a bit more stock or milk.
Season with pepper (ground white works best) and salt to taste. I also add a generous pinch of paprika (you could use smoked).
You can add some finely chopped fresh parsley or chervil if you have any.
After ten minutes the Chowder will be ready.
Serve with some nice crusty bread for a lovely comforting meal.