Tag Archives: comfort food

Cooking for 6 at £5 per head – Blue Cheese Soufflé, Chorizo and Butterbean Stew and Waitrose Fool Desserts

 

Not so long ago I headed down to my local Waitrose with £30 in my wallet. Optimistically I was looking to cook a homemade supper for 6. With this budget I honestly thought I was going to end up serving crisps and dips for starters, microwaving ready meals for mains and serving bland unhealthy choc ices for dessert. But, after some research on the internet, perusing the Waitrose website and flicking through my compilation of cookery books I was positive that I had found the deal and recipes for a delicious dinner.

Feeling a bit fancy and showy-offy I was very much taken with a goat’s cheese soufflé recipe, I also decided that because it was around St. Patrick’s Day I should swap the goat’s cheese with an Irish Cashel Blue: a salty but delicious offering from the Emerald Isle. Heading a bit further South into Europe I discovered a Spanish offering of chorizo and butterbean stew, a great dish to share with friends over a bottle of plonk. I also wanted something I could use a freshly baked baguette from Waitrose to mop up the juices with. Pudding I felt was going to make me go over budget, but upon arrival at the dessert aisle I found an epic deal for Waitrose’s own brand fruit fools – the kitchen gods must have been smiling on me.

Having a keen eye for bargains and being a bit Yorkshire (North Yorkshire – the nice part) I was more than pleased to see the cost came to a credit crunch busting £29.83. Therefore I not only managed to stretch my pennies and stay under budget, but I also served up a great meal for equally great friends.

Blue Cheese Soufflé

Serves 6

You will need:

50g butter

50g plain flour

300ml milk

150g blue cheese

pinch of cayenne pepper

pinch of white pepper

6 free range eggs (separated)

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease eight ramekins. Melt butter in a small saucepan, stir in flour and cook for a dew seconds.
  2. Remove from heat, gradually stir in milk, return to heat and cook. Stir constantly until thickened
  3. Crumble cheese into sauce, stir until cheese has melted. Season with cayenne pepper and white pepper (you will not need salt as the cheese will have enough already). Remove from heat and beat in egg yolks one at a time
  4. Whisk egg whites until standing in soft peaks. Whisks one or two spoonfuls into the sauce. Once mixed, carefully fold in the remaining egg whites (make sure you do this the moment before the next step, not before, or they will not rise)
  5. Spoon into ramekins and bake for 20 – 25 mins till risen and golden. Serve immediately.

Chorizo and butter bean stew with garlic and thyme

Serves 6 

You will need:

700g of dried butter beans

450g of chorizo

90ml of olive oil

10 garlic cloves (roughly sliced)

1 medium onion (finely chopped)

350ml of red wine

800g chopped tomatoes

2tbsp thyme leaves

4tbsp flat leaf parsley

sea salt

To serve:

Sliced baguette

Chunks of butter

  1. Simmer butter beans for 1 ½ hours. Drain and set aside
  2. Cut chorizo into thin slices. Put olive oil and garlic into a large pan and heat on a medium-high heat until the garlic starts to sizzle. Add the chorizos and cook until slightly browned on both sides. Add onion and cook until softened
  3. Add red wine, cook to reduce until almost nothing. Add tomatoes, thyme, butter beans and ½ teaspoon of salt
  4. Simmer for 15 mins
  5. Spoon into large bowls, scatter over some parsley. Serve with bread and butter.

Waitrose Apricot, Raspberry and Rhubarb fools

Serves 6

You will need: 

  1. Go to the a Waitrose supermarket
  2. Buy two of each flavour from the dessert aisle
  3. Serve after dinner with some spoons

 

Leave a comment

Filed under food, Food Blog, london, london food blog, recipes

Savoy Tartiflette with Reblechon and Goat’s Cheese

Last week I returned triumphantly from an amazing ski holiday in the French Alps with the lovely people below.

 

I was definitely a little bit more tanned, a lot happier, certainly more relaxed, and incredibly knackered. I was also sporting an extra half stone in weight. Of this ‘surplus baggage’ I do not mind. I earned it in the easiest and most fun way possible: skiing, drinking and eating (and lots of it!). 

You see, eating in a European ski resort is rarely healthy, particularly when you are in the heart of the French Savoy region. Be it in resort or on the mountain, the menus are dominated with big hearty promises of butter, bread, cakes, cheese, cheeses, more cheese, chocolate, cream, crepes, fondues, half roast chickens, pasta, potatoes, soups, sausages, steak haché, an innumerate amount of dried meats and almost everything comes with the option of ‘avec frites’. I even had a Savoy Pizza topped with crème fraiche, bacon and potatoes. To help wash everything down there was a heavy consumption of beer, wine, genepy and toffee vodka. I was in holiday heaven and more than happy to consume my fair share of it all. 

Like the prices, the food, drink and the restaurant experiences vary widely. Some restaurants like La Galette (Meribel) served great fondue and raclette but disappointed with some sub standard service whilst La Bergerie in Courchevel offered some above average and fairly overpriced fare, but their waiters impressed and scored perfect marks for their professionalism, friendliness and entertainment value. We certainly left that place satisfied and inebriated. As for après ski, the establishments of note are the Folie Douce (Val Thorens), Aux Petit Oignons (Meribel) and the ever reliable Rond Point (Meribel) – a dangerously short ski from bar to chalet. Also, I must not forget to mention our chalet hosts: the Twins – Rish and Raj. They were brilliant; they worked wonders with their paltry food budgets and supplied us every afternoon with fresh cakes and biscuits. They even managed to please the most demanding member of our party by making sure he got his bacon sandwich every morning. 

My only issue with the holiday was that it did not last long enough and I still want to be there. Being back at work, if only for four days, has only helped but enhance my holiday blues. So in the spirit of positive reinforcement and not wanting to let go of my holiday just yet, I decided to cook a tartiflette for myself and my housemate. 

The tartiflette is a typical dish found all over the Savoy region and is a wonderful unification of cheese, bacon and potatoes. Unsurprisingly there are 101 recipes available on the internet. I have amalgamated three I found online. The only reason I used two cheeses was that my cheese man only had one wheel of reblechon left and suggested I used a standard, but French, goat’s cheese. It was a pleasant surprise and, in my opinion, enhanced the dish wonderfully. Give it a go and tell me what you think! 

PS – I hope you are all having a great Easter and like me, do not want it to end. 

Savoy Tartiflette with Reblechon and Goat’s Cheese 

Serves 4 

You will need: 

1 kg of potatoes (unpeeled) 

250g of Reblechon Cheese (crust removed and sliced evenly) 

300g of Goat’s Cheese (crust removed and sliced evenly) 

200g of smoked bacon 

1 Onion (finely chopped) 

200 ml crème fraiche 

50g butter 

lots of pepper for seasoning 

1 clove of garlic (halved) 

1 knob of butter…for buttering 

To serve: 

Some green salad 

  1. Wash the unpeeled potatoes. Boil for 15 mins. Drain. Once cooled enough to handle you should be able to hand peel the skins off. Set aside. During this rub the garlic halves around your casserole dish and repeat with the knob of butter. Place in fridge till needed.
  2. Remove the rind from the bacon. Slice into lardoons. Put in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Pat dry and put to one side.
  3. On a low heat melt the butter, once melted, sauté the onions and lardons for about 15 mins. Remove before being browned but do not brown. Pre-heat oven to 210 degrees Celsius
  4. Chop potatoes into slices. Place a layer on the base of your buttered casserole dish. Season with pepper. Pour on onion mix and cover with remaining potatoes.
  5. Heat the crème fraiche on a low heat for about thirty seconds and season with pepper. Once heated pour evenly over potatoes and onions. Layer cheese slices on top and season again. Place in oven for approx 20 – 30 until browned and bubbling. Serve with green salad and a liberal helping of white wine.   

 

We tucked in and enjoyed!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under food, Food Blog, recipes

Pork Belly stuffed with Apples, Sage and Sausages

If you had to eat only one meat for the rest of your life, what would that be? This question is often put forward to me by housemate, the Brat. Obviously a debate ensues and every week I seem to have changed my mind and argue the case for something else. On the other hand the Brat is staunch in her believe that it would be pork, most notably pork belly.

I also wonder if gelatine, in particular gummy bears, can count as a meat. I doubt it. 

Anyway, listening to the Brat’s gesticulations I decided to cook some pork belly for a dinner party I held for some old school friends last month. 

There a multitude of recipes for pork belly but I find the simplest ones are always the best. I found this one amidst the mountain of newspaper cuttings that adorn my bedroom floor; I believe it was from last October’s Observer Food Monthly

Referring back to the question posed earlier, I like to think the following recipe puts forward the case for pork. You, as the jury, can make up your own minds. 

Pork Belly stuffed with Apples, Sage and Sausages 

Serves 6 

You will need

pork belly (1.5kg)

5 sausages (I procured some epic Lincolnshire bangers from my local Sainsbury’s)

1 large apple

6 small sage leaves

a small bottle of cider

a little bit of oil or if you are super keen, some pork dripping

salt and pepper 

  1. Set the oven to 220 degrees celcius/gas mark 8.
  2. Score the skin of the pork belly then lay it flat on the chopping board.
  3. Remove skin from the sausages and place filling in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add a little salt and pepper.
  5. Peel, core and chop the apple into small chunks.
  6. Mix apple chunks and sage leaves into sausage filling (you can remove the leaves once the belly is cooked and you are carving into it).
  7. Place the sausagemeat down the centre of the pork.
  8. Roll up the pork into a cylinder and tie with kitchen string (I used the string that came with pork). This will ensure the stuffing does not fall out whilst roasting.
  9. Lightly oil the base of a roasting tin and place in the rolled pork.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Roast the pork for 20 minutes then for 40-50mins on a lowered heat of 200 degrees celcius/gas mark 6.
  12. Once juices are running clear, remove the pork from the tin and keep warm.
  13. Remove as much of the fat as possible from the remaining juices in the tin.
  14. Place the tin over a moderate heat. Pour in cider. Stir until all pan stickings are dissolved.
  15. Carve meat and pour on the pan juices when plating up.  

I served this with some cabbage fried in butter and milk & mustard mash potatoes.

Pork-a-licious!

Before...

...and after

1 Comment

Filed under food, Food Blog, london food blog, recipes

Croquetas de Pollo

The feedback on my opening post, you could say my amuse-bouche, has been incredible. Understandably the majority of responses have been from people I know, but what has been really encouraging are the comments I get from those I do not. In particular a lovely sounding lady called Hilary. Finding the courage and self-belief to write a food blog, especially an interesting one, has been an arduous process. I have been taking the plunge one toe at a time.  

So to you all, Thank you very much! 

Without a doubt, there have been some changes. Most notably the picture of myself in the About section. I have been told I look like a right chinless wonder and that nobody wants to see me in my morning suit quaffing an apple flavoured martini (my fav!). Therefore I have replaced it with a photo of me perusing a menu in a restaurant, or should I now pronounce it res-tor-raun? You know, the way some foodies do. 

To keep the ball rolling I have decided to submit my first recipe – croquetas de pollo! (Hopefully the exclamation mark will encourage you to strike the pose of a bull fighter shouting ‘Ole!’…or is that just me?). 

I first heard about this recipe whilst working at a well known chain of Spanish restaurants during my last year at university. I use the adjective “Spanish” very loosely; it was about as Spanish as my post A-Levels holiday to Magaluf. The exchange students who worked there were the only element of Iberian authenticity to the whole establishment. It was understandable that they held the food they served in contempt, in particular Rafa, a Mallorcan, from where this dish hails. 

He must have really complained to his mother as she actually mailed him a hamper, and snuggled amongst the chorizo, jamón Serrano, manchego cheese, tortas de aceite and turrón was where I found this tupperware-ensconced delicacy. I was enamoured at first bite. 

Today I rely on it as a starter, a moreish snack and believe it to be one of the ultimate comfort foods (a much healthier and less post-devourement-guilt-inducing alternative to a chicken nugget). 

Whilst I have compiled many recipes for this particular dish, I have found the best offering has come from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage cookbook

Croquetas de Pollo 

Makes about 20 

You will need

350 ml of full cream milk

50g of butter

50g of plain flour

1 small onion (finely chopped)

1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)

250g poached chicken breast

2 eggs (beaten)

1 tbsp of parsley

75g of breadcrumbs (I recommend fine blending some olive oil toasted baguette laced with ground nutmeg)

Couple of glugs of Olive Oil

Groundnut Oil (will be used for frying, so make sure you have enough)

Salt and Pepper

1 Gem Lettuce

Juice of half a lemon 

  1. Heat the milk in a sauce pan (do not boil).
  2. In a heavy frying pan melt the butter then add the flour. Stir into a fine roux.
  3. Bit by bit add the warm milk (remember not to boil).
  4. Stir continuously for two minutes then remove from heat.
  5. You should now have a lovely béchamel sauce to put aside.
  6. Sweat the garlic and onion in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Once sweated, place garlic and onions and the poached chicken into your blender.
  8. Blend.
  9. With a wooden spoon fold the béchamel sauce and herbs into the blended mixture.
  10. Spoon the mixture into a container…cover and place in fridge to cool (this is very important as the cooled mixture will allow you to successfully mould the croquetas).
  11. One cooled (to avoid sticky fingers, dust your hands in flour) mould the mixture into any shape you want. I normally try to shape small circular spheres of chickeny goodness and end up with small patty-like creations. Whatever the case they will taste wonderful.
  12. Each croquetas should be coated in flour, rolled in the beaten eggs and blanketed in the breadcrumbs.
  13. Heat some groundnut oil in a frying pan.
  14. Fry each of the croquetas for approximately 2 to 2 ½ minutes on both sides until brown (remember to place on some kitchen roll to soak up the last vestiges of excess oil).
  15. Serve on a bed of finely chopped lettuce, drizzled in lemon and possibly with a sauce for dipping. I recommend a sweet chilli sauce.

Please do tell me what you think.

3 Comments

Filed under food, Food Blog, london, london food blog, recipes