My Bolognaise sauce

Serves 4 Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Ready in: 40 minutes
I was making lasagna the other day and wanted to refresh my memory so I went to my “Cookery book for my Mother” just to check if I had everything needed to make a bolognaise sauce, and realised I had never actually written how to make this sauce. I know, it’s just something that happens and it was taught to me by both my mother and my Italian grandmother, who would turn in her grave seeing this recipe. She would insist that the sauce should simmer for between 10 and 12 hours. Sorry grandma, we don’t have the time nowadays.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable/olive/rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 500g minced beef
  • 1½ tin (600g) chopped tomatoes (maybe blended)
  •       or 500g pure “Tomato Passata”
  • ½ tube of Tomato Purée
  • 200ml chicken stock
  •      (or 1 crushed stock cube dissolved in 100ml boiling water)
  • 1 tsp of mixed herbs –
  • or pinch of: sweet paprika powder, oregano, basil, thyme & rosemary
  • 1 pinch of salt & black pepper

Optional ingredients:

  • 1 pinch fresh grated nutmeg or powder
  • 1-2 carrots, roughly grated
  • 1 celery stick finely chopped
  • 1 small glass sherry/brandy/wine

Method:

  1. Add the onions and garlic to a frying pan (or wok) with the oil.
    Fry until the onions are slightly tranluscent.
  2. Add the mince to the frying pan until all of the meat is brown –
    but only just brown as you don’t want your meat burnt.
  3. Once the meat is slightly brown, add the tinned tomatoes (blended – if you want),
    tomato purée, chicken stock and mixed herbs, paprika, salt and pepper if you want.
  4. Cover the pan (or wok) with an anti-splatter lid, lower the heat to just less than half
    and let the sauce simmer for 15-20 min. stirring now and again
  • Serve with pasta or use in a lasagna.

Tip

  • A small glass of sherry/brandy/wine added to the simmering sauce will enhance the taste. Keep the sauce in fridge for 2-3 days or freeze and keep for up 3 months. If frozen: thaw in fridge overnight. Don’t use from frozen.
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Courgette and Pecorino Fritters.

Serves 3-4       preparation time 15 minutes       baking time 20-22 minutes
Turn your bumper courgette crop into satisfying snacks, delicious hot and/or cold.

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Courgette and Pecorino Fritters (3)

  • 250g courgette; shredded
  • 1 large egg
  • 70-100g grated pecorino (an Italian cheese made from ewes’ milk)
  • 100g Panko (or 80g polenta for gluten free)
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed with press)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, for greasing the baking sheet
  1. Toss courgette and salt together in a large colander and place in sink to drain for 10 minutes. Then Squeeze to drain even further.
  2. Mix pecorino, panko, crushed garlic, the egg and pepper in a large bowl; and stir in the drained shredded courgette.
  3. Scoop a table spoon of ‘dough’ and drop onto a large greased baking sheet, roughly shaping each into a log.
  4. Bake in a 200°C oven for 20-22 minutes, turning halfway through.
  • Dipping Sauce:
    • Stir chopped chives and basil into sour cream.

Homemade Potato Wedges

I need something more for a dinner party and didn’t want to have just boiled potatoes, I thought of wedges and checked my freezer if I happen to have some frozen wedges; but alas I didn’t. Now that the thought was implanted in my head I looked around on the net and found that making and cooking wedges wasn’t that difficult; so here is what I did.

Prep time max 5 minutes unattended cooking (baking) time 35 minutes
Serves 2-4
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  • 2-3 potatoes per person, I used new small potatoes
  • 1 tsp each of Salt, Pepper, Onion-salt, Garlic-salt, fresh Thyme … and whatever you fancy like: ginger paprika, curry …
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (or sunflower/rape seed)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC. Line a baking tray with foil (saves washing up).
  2. Cut the potatoes in half; then cut 3 wedges from each half. Place the wedges I a bow full of cold water for about 5 minutes.
  3. Put the oil in a small plastic bag; Drain and dry the wedges and place them in the bag. Close the bag with a peg so that it doesn’t leak. Then shake the bag making sure all the wedges are coated in oil.
  4. Place all your herbs in another plastic bag; and move the wedges into this bag; again close the bag and shake. Once all your herbs are used tip the wedges out into your baking tray, spread evenly and place in oven.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes – and that’s it. Serve and enjoy.

 

Chicken, Leek & Rice Pot

Prep 5-10 mins   –    Serves 2-4 unattended cooking 30-35 mins

Chicken-Leek-Rice Pot 5

  • 4-6 Chicken Thighs
  • 2 medium Leeks
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock pot
  • 100g Basmati Rice
  • 10g Butter
  • 400-500 ml boiling water
  • Salt, Pepper
    (Onion salt, Garlic powder, mixed herbs)
  1. Season the thighs to taste.
  2. Heat a wok, when it’s hot add the butter; when this is melted add the thighs skin side up, make sure they don’t overlap, when sealed turn over (approx. 2min per side).
  3. In the meantime finely chop the leeks (cut once length wise and finely slice cross ways); halve the cherry tomatoes; boil the water.
  4. Dissolve the stock pot in the hot water in a bowl/jar.
  5. When the thighs are sealed, evenly add the tomatoes; then the leeks.
  6. Add the dissolved stock, use a little extra water to rinse the bowl/jar and add that to the wok.
  7. Stir a little, making sure all is covered with the liquid. Cover with a lid and leave simmering for 10 mins.
  8. Add the basmati rice, stir making sure the rice is evenly spread and covered with liquid.
  9. Cover again and let simmer for 16-18 mins depending on the rice (if you use brown & white mixed basmati rice cook for 20-22 mins).

Mushroom Gravy with Port and Cranberry

Serves 4 – Preparation time less than 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • 200g Chestnut Mushrooms
  • 1tsp duck fat or olive oil
  • 10g butter
  • 1 chicken stock pot/cube
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 1 ice-cube of frozen ducks stock (optional)
  • 25-50ml port
  • 2 tsp cranberry jelly
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp corn/potato flour
  1. De-stalk and peel the mushrooms; cut (like a cake) into 8 wedges.
  2. Heat a frying pan with the duck fat and butter; add the mushrooms and sauté until translucent, stirring now and again.
  3. In the meantime dissolve the chicken stock and the ice-cube in the water.
  4. Add the stock to the frying pan
  5. Add the port and the cranberry jelly.
  6. Lower the heat and let simmer for 10-20 mins.
  7. Add some freshly ground pepper (to taste).
  8. Dissolve the cornflour in a little cold water and add to the frying pan, stir constantly.
  9. If the gravy is too thick; add a little extra water.

If you like your gravy a little more creamy; add 100-150g crème fraîche.

Chicken Liver Pâté

I just didn’t believe I had not published my special Chicken Liver Pâté, so her it is.
Preparation and Cooking time: max 10 minutes

  • 50g Goose Fat (or butter)
  • 400-450g Chicken Liver (trimmed and sinew removed)
  • 1 large Spring Onion (approx 2cm) finely chopped
  • 1 large clove Garlic (finely chopped)
  • Salt and black Pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme (leaves only)
  • * The following are optional
  • 75-100ml Red Wine (or 75-100ml Chicken Stock)
  • 1-2 tbsp Brandy
  • 1-2 Bay Leaves (for decoration)
  • Some fresh Cranberries (for decoration)
  1. Remove the sinew from the chicken liver and halve the larger pieces
  2. In a mortar add the salt and cut the thymes into 2-3cm length, grind this and the salt will help removing the leaves of the thyme. Don’t overdo it. Then remove all the stalks and add the pepper.
  3. I prefer to use a wok as the heat surface is smaller but the cooking is easier to deal with
  4. Melt the goose fat in a pan over a medium heat; add the onion and the garlic; fry until softened, but not coloured.
  5. Add the herbs and fry for ½ minute
  6. Add the chicken liver and ensure it has been sealed all over, fry for 1-2 minutes constantly turning the liver so that it does not get brown.
  7. Now stir in the alcohol (or the chicken stock) and let it cook vigorously for 3-4 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated/boiled away.
  8. Place everything in the food processor and blend until smooth.
  9. Transfer the pâté into a serving ramekin or small dish and cover with cling film.
  10. Keep the pâté refrigerated
  11. Decorate with a couple of cranberries and a bay leaf when serving.

Raw Courgette Salad

Preparation time about 5 minutes
Serves 2 people

Courgette

  • 1 Courgette pealed and finely julienned
  • Dressing:
    • 2 spoons mayonnaise
    • 2 spoons natural Yogurt
    • 1 spoon extra virgin Olive oil
    • ½ Spoon sweet vinegar
    • Salt & freshly ground Pepper
    • Some chopped Parsley
  1. Mix the dressing using all ingredients.
  2. Add the julienned courgette.
  3. Gently toss the salad making sure all courgette is covered.
  4. Let it rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature before serving.