I’ve been meaning to post this recipe since before Christmas but I kept making it and then eating it all before I remembered to take a photo!
It’s one of those magical dishes which requires minimum preparation (if you can even call chucking all the ingredients into your slow cooker and giving them a quick stir, ‘preparation’) but which, when left for a few hours of gentle heating, transforms into something so special, so truly treatsome (yes, that’s a word!) that it both comforts and revives at the end of a wearisome day.
Imagine yourself outside your front door. It’s dark. It’s freezing. I mean freezing. You’ve been rushed off your feet all day and you think you can feel the first signs of a cold. What’s worse, you can’t find your keys. You’re scrabbling about in your bag but it’s too dark to see anything properly and your hands are so numb you can’t make your fingers work.
After what feels like about an hour of bag scrabbling, you finally find the elusive keys and put them triumphantly into the lock. One quick turn and you’re in.
Suddenly, the cold of the day is behind you. The warmth of your home greets you like the welcoming smile of an old friend and the smell? Well, the smell of tender beef, red wine and rosemary fills your nostrils and drives out the tiredness, the cold and the problems of the day.
All that’s left to do is to grab yourself a bowl and greedily ladle it in. Then settle into your favourite chair and with a big sigh, enjoy….
Try these for size…
I’ve always loved the Crispy Seaweed that you get at the Chinese. I think it’s the combination of sweet and salty along with that satisfying crunch – plus hey, it’s one of your five a day right? So when I recently discovered that, for the most part, it isn’t actually seaweed at all, but rather, cabbage or kale, I’ve got to say I felt a bit let down.
Once I got over my initial indignation, I realised that this could actually be a good thing! It meant I could recreate one of my favourite takeaway treats in my very own kitchen (without having to take a trip to the beach first…)
Now the good thing about this dish (other than the whole ‘no need for waders’ thing above and aside from the fact that it’s bloomin’ tasty) is that it’s unbelievably easy to make. You are no more than 10 minutes away from tucking into a mound of sweet and salty, crispy seaweed stylee kale and succulent, pink, salmon with just a hint of the orient. A Chinese whisper if you will…
For the fish, I use my George Foreman grill, thanks to my lovely Mother-in-Law who recently served us some perfectly cooked salmon using her’s and so inspired me to dig mine out of a cupboard and dust it off after months (ok, years…) of neglect. If you don’t have one, then a frying or griddle pan will do just fine.
This recipe is a slightly more grown-up, much tastier and healthier version of the kids classic, chicken nuggets and chips. It’s for those days when you yearn for childish food. You want something simple and comforting. Something that can be eaten with your fingers, dipped into your condiment of choice and happily scoffed with guilt-free abandon.
Pretty perfect as it is, but add the tiniest hint of rosemary and the occasional hit of chilli and suddenly this crispy baked chicken gets even more exciting. Oh, an one more thing. This is baked chicken so you get all of the crunch but none of the grease!
Fan of Crispy Chicken? Try this too…
Now as you know, I’m certainly not one to be bossy, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making this rather fabulous crispy chicken, then it seems a shame not to enjoy it with its natural bedfellow, the gorgeously gooey sweet potato fry (or rather, a whole bowl for them if possible).
You know that saying about how dogs start to look like their owners? Well, have you ever noticed that foods often tend to look like the seasons they belong to?
Not sure what I’m on about? Stay with me for a second… Think about the foods that you eat in summer. Vibrant, bright colours that match the world around them. Watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes…
See what I mean? Well in autumn, the season of golds, coppers and orange, the food very kindly obliges again. Butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin all reflecting this cold season of warm, burnished colours.
This recipe is a celebration of some of my favourite autumn foods. It’s actually inspired by Delia’s Special Cottage Pie from her Complete Cookery Course but with a few seasonal twists which add a subtle, but oh-so comforting sweetness.
You know that feeling when you’ve been out in the sunshine all day and you feel all glowing and full of life? It can be hard to recreate that at this time of year. The combination of grey skies, dark mornings and rainy days can leave you feeling pretty lack lustre and, if things get really bad, downright depressed.
That’s when I turn to food for a spot of comfort. I’m not talking cakes and chocolate here (although I certainly wouldn’t discount them!) No, instead, why not try to replace what’s missing in sunshine and vitamin D with food that fills you with goodness and warmth on the inside?
This Chicken and Vegetable Broth is full to the brim with wholesome comfort and goodness. A steaming bowlful slurped with a hunk of crusty bread, a good book and if possible, some sort of roaring fire, cannot fail to give you that glow of satisfaction that’s so often missing around this time of year.
For more words of wisdom regarding comfort food try this…
PS – I’m currently lucky enough to be on hols in the very lovely village of Ringstead in Norfolk and can confirm that a brisk walk along the beach is another great way to get a healthy, happy glow. Said walk, followed by this Broth is pretty close to perfect.
When life gets tough, it’s all too tempting to turn to comfort food to see you through. The problem is, comfort food doesn’t tend to be particularly healthy food, so although it feels pretty amazing while you’re sitting stuffing your face with pepperoni pizza, topped with macaroni cheese with a side of mashed potato and finished off with crumble and custard, about five minutes later, the sluggishness sets in, closely followed by the sleepiness…
Too many days of this and you just feel constantly tired, your waistband feels tighter, your skin feels pallid and all in all, you feel in need of something fresh and nutritious.
Fan of meatless curries? Why not try my Chickpea Curry?
So you tuck into salads, smoothies and skimmed everything. Then, after a few days of eating nothing but virtuous wholemeal this and superfood that, you start to crave something a little richer and more satisfying.
Well, before you reach for the donuts in despair (reach for them by all means – just not in despair!), I have the answer to this seemingly unsolvable riddle. I’m not going to leave you in suspense – in fact, I rather suspect you’ve already guessed the solution…my post title was hardly subtle…
Not convinced that a humble bowl of veggie curry could be the answer to all your prayers? Let me explain…
For me maximum flavour equals maximum satisfaction and this curry is so full of flavour it’s had to rent out a loft to make room for it all… Onions spiced with mellow turmeric, earthy cumin and fiery chilli. Trusty tinned tomatoes add depth and coconut milk takes it to another level. You could eat this sauce as a soup without even adding more ingredients.
We’re not doing that though – we’re going for full on comfort and for that, we need our old chum the butternut squash. It ticks so many comfort food boxes – sweetness, starchiness, gooiness… Now imagine that, swimming in the curry sauce and soaking up all of its flavours…
Supremely satisfying! Also, pretty virtuous – a few of your five a day in there already. How about we chuck in a few more? This is the other winning element of the recipe, because you really can add any other veggies you like. I particularly love to add cauliflower and broccoli and I’m afraid I must insist that you add peas, but other than that, the world is your oyster.. ahem…carrot..green bean….spinach
Lamb; at its most flavourful after feasting on the lush grass of summer. Just pink, like rosy cheeks, coming back from the park on cool Saturday mornings as August fades to Autumn.
Sun Dried Tomato; Summer’s ripeness now gone, but its sweetness still preserved and with it, a last echo of sunshine
Black Olives; bringing a taste of Mediterranean warmth, the last hints of a summer now past, but whose dark earthiness also bring to mind those clear crisp September walks in the woods. Not cold enough for a big coat yet, but you wish you’d worn a thicker jumper.
Breadcrumbs; fried till golden and crisp. Each bite, a crunch of freshly fallen autumn leaves.
See? The coming of Autumn doesn’t have to be so bad. Still don’t believe me? Gobble up a plateful of these and you’ll feel better – I promise.
I started to write this post right at the start of BBQ season, and have only just got around to finishing it! Sadly, the time for BBQ’s is nearly at an end for another year (at least for us folk in the UK), but I urge you to sneak at least one more in, just so you can eat these burgers at their very best. They’re fab done in a frying pan or a griddle pan, but ALL burgers were meant to be cooked over an open flame. FACT.
There’s nothing better than the smell of your food as it cooks over hot coals – and there’s nothing worse than smelling it when it’s coming from someone else’s grill!
Growing up, we never had burgers at our family BBQ’s and I never questioned it. In fact I never really realised there was anything unusual in a burger-less BBQ. Only when I left home and started to go to other people’s BBQ’s did I realise that the burger is pretty much a staple . I must confess, that I’d still go for a good snorker over a burger any day, but I have recently realised the endless variety of burgers that are possible and that rather ignited (pardon the pun) a passion in the experimental cook in me!
These particular burgers were inspired by Mary Berry’s Chilli Burgers from her latest book Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites. She adds chilli and Thai red curry paste to her minced beef (with wonderful results I might add!) and it occurred to me, that I could do something similar to put a new twist on one of my all-time BBQ faves – Tandoori Chicken.
The results, despite a shaky start where I processed chicken breasts to create my own mince (not the right texture at all), were a triumph! Think all the great flavours of tandoori chicken, with a minty raita – but in burger form!
In that case, come with me. Kick off your shoes and slip on your sandals. Loosen your tie and grab your favourite holiday play list (which I hope has at least a few Gypsy Kings songs in there..) and let’s go to Portugal…
Have you seen those big Mediterranean family meals that often appear on films or cooking shows? You know the ones I mean – a long, rustic, wooden table groaning with dishes of wonderful looking food, boards of cheese, crusty bread, bottles of wine scattered here and there… All under the shelter of a pergola covered in beautiful flowers or vines. Family and friends gathered to enjoy the home cooked food as well as each others company and lively conversation…
Well pack your bags because that’s where I’m taking you with this recipe! Feijoada, a traditional Portuguese dish, is perfect for such an occasion. It’s absolutely bursting with flavour, but instead of you toiling for hours in the kitchen, the ingredients do all the hard graft for you – giving you more time to sit outside, letting the warm breeze soothe your weary brow and sipping red wine till the worries of the week just drift away…aaaah….
You will need:
1 tbs olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cooking chorizo (the long, thin kind)
400 g diced pork (from leg)
2 bay leaves
1 x 400g tin borlotti beans in water
1 x 400g tin pinto beans in water
1 x 400g tin mixed beans in water
The recipe itself has been a family favourite ever since it was passed on by a great family friend from Madeira. It works brilliantly in summer, served with crusty bread and a simply dressed salad but its robust flavours are also wonderful in winter. A steaming bowl of this with some rice, greens and a big glass of red will bring you deep comfort on those chilly winter days.
So, call your nearest and dearest, grab your biggest pan and crack open a bottle or 2 of red! You’ve got a Mediterranean feast to attend.
I didn’t either, until I was recently asked to contribute a recipe as part of a World Hunger Day campaign called ‘Come Dine Below the Line‘ which is being run by The Hunger Project and MyVoucherCodes.
The idea is, that the recipe should be below the poverty line and cost no more than 33p per head. It’s not easy, let me tell you!
This recipe comes from my Mother-in-law and has been a firm favourite for many years now. If I’m honest, it hadn’t actually occurred to me how cheap it is to make – that’s really just an added bonus. The reason it’s so popular in my home, is that it’s warming, comforting and absolutely delicious! It doesn’t hurt that it’s super easy to make either…
I’ve based my costings on ingredients from Sainsbury’s, for no other reason than the fact that it’s my local supermarket and where I do my grocery shopping.
You will need:
1 tbs Sunflower oil (2p)
1 onion, chopped (6p)
8 x Basics Pork Sausages (85p)
1 x 400g tin Basics Peeled Plum Tomatoes (35p)
1 large potato (25p)
1 oz Basics Strong Cheddar (12p)
If you’ve got a bag of peas in the freezer then these make a great accompaniment – or to keep the cost down even more, any veggies that you grow in your garden!
I’m glad you asked! Here are all the details you need to start fundraising for World Hunger Day