Bugger Off, Period, I’m Eating Kale

chickpeas and kale

chickpeas and kaleAll the ladies in the house, I have a question for you… do you crave things when you’re surfing the crimson wave? 

My sister does.  She likes a maize snack when auntie flo comes to visit.  I like takeaways (come on, who doesn’t like food delivered when your womb is raging?) and things with a lot of iron in.  So tonight I made this chickpea and kale concoction, basically out of things I had knocking about in the fridge and it turned out really well.  It felt healthy and nutritious, and I’ll be adding it to my repertoire, at least monthly. 

Here is how I made my chickpea and kale mash-up, and the next time you feel like something healthy and super yum, you should make this, too.

For two hungry people, you’ll need:

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Cooking with Kids: Easy Chocolate Dipped Easter Biscuits

chocolate dipped easter biscuits

chocolate dipped easter biscuitsWe are big fans of biscuits in this house.  Really, the amount of shortbread fingers we get through weekly is almost shameful.

I said almost. 

Both Roo and Elliot are keen little soux chefs, so one afternoon, we got to work making chocolate dipped Easter biscuits, so called purely because of the Eastery addition of crushed up Mini Eggs.  You could, in fact, adapt this to suit any occasion, or just make them for the fun of it.  And why not?  They take less than an hour all in, and are delicious. 

 

To make Chocolate Dipped Easter Biscuits, you will need:

  • A basic biscuit dough recipe.  I use this one.  The biscuits are quite short, and very very naughty because of all the butter.  Which automatically makes them appeal to me. 
  • A huge bar of chocolate for melting.  I used Cadbury Dairy Milk.
  • A bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs.  Don’t be stingy with these.
  • A cutter of your choice.  I experimented with a bunny shaped cutter, but the biscuits were so short the ears fell off, so I ended up going with a pretty heart shaped cutter. 

 chocolate dipped easter biscuits 3

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c.  Make up the dough as per the recipe I linked to above.  The recipe is so incredibly simple that Elliot had no trouble whatsoever making the dough himself, with only a little help from me.  Elliot is three. 
  2. Flour a worktop, and your rolling pin, and roll the dough out to 5mm.  The recipe makes quite a lot of dough, so we did this in batches, by cutting the dough into quarters. 
  3. Use your cutter of choice to stamp out the biscuits and cook for 8 minutes in the preheated oven.  It helps if you line a tray with greaseproof paper.  The biscuits will be floppy when they are straight out of the oven, but leave them to cool on a rack and they will soon harden up. 
  4. Whilst your biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or simply in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  If you have got the knack of melting chocolate in the microwave down, then you could do that, too.  I, however, have never mastered that art, and generally end up with a burnt, grainy mess, and a stab of disappointment in my heart.  Whilst the chocolate is melting, bash up the Mini Eggs.  I used a mezzaluna, because I am a sucker for fancy kitchen gadgets, but if not I am sure a sharp knife would work just as well.  I like my mini egg chunks nice and big, but again, this is your call. 
  5. When the cookies are cool, dip in to the chocolate, and then sprinkle over a few shards of the Mini Eggs.  Place back on a greaseproof paper lined baking tray and pop in the fridge to harden. 
  6. Put them in your belly with a nice cuppa, and don’t worry too much about the calories, of which there are undoubtedly many.

chocolate dipped easter biscuits

Sausage and Fennel Risotto with Lemon and Pecorino

sausage and fennel risotto

You know when you just have a hankering for something, and nothing else will quite do until you have given in to that craving?  That was me yesterday morning.  The first thing I thought about was risotto, and so it had to be done.  I often make butternut squash risotto, but I’d used our squash up this week in a pasta sauce, and we had sausages in, so I figured I’d make a sausage and fennel risotto. 

sausage and fennel risotto

My word. 

My WORD.  New favourite meal. 

Sausage and fennel risotto (with lemon and pecorino) pisses all over my other fennel-based risotto, which is fennel and pancetta.  Don’t get me wrong, pancetta and fennel is delicious as well, but sausage and fennel risotto is just better. 

Here is how to make sausage and fennel risotto

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Sticky Barbecue Ribs with Apple and Celeriac Slaw

sticky barbecue ribs

sticky barbecue ribsI love a rib. I really really love a rib.  I love chicken wings as well, especially when they are smothered in blue cheese dip.  But they are definitely second to ribs. 

My favourite ribs of all time are from Bodeans, in Soho.  They are cooked long and low, and the meat just falls off the bone.  So this week, when I picked up a packet of pork ribs in Saino’s, I knew exactly what I’d be doing with them. 

We ate our sticky barbecue ribs this evening with buttery new potatoes, salad and apple and celeriac coleslaw.  There was instagramming. The hashtag #getinmybelly *may* have been used. 

 

Here is how you make sticky barbecue ribs

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Love Your Leftovers – Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

slow cooker pulled pork.jpg

slow cooker pulled pork.jpgI know! I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s true, we did indeed have some leftovers after our pulled pork dinner last night.  And we had lettuce (a humble round lettuce, nothing fancy required), avocado, creme fraiche and hot sauce, and taco shells. 

And so, pulled pork tacos were constructed, and devoured, in a matter of mere moments. 

I’ve blogged about pulled pork before (really, hasn’t everyone? It’s rife on Pinterest.  That’s not a topic I’m ever going to get high on Google rankings.) but this time I cooked it a little differently as I did it in my slow cooker instead of in the oven on low. 

So, here is how to make slow cooker pulled pork:

First things first, make up a fairly standard barbecue sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of tomato ketchup (I use cup measurements for condiments when I am using more than a tablespoon of the stuff.  Confusing? Moi?)
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar (packed or not, depending on how sweet you like it).  For a sweeter sauce, use light brown sugar, for a more treacly sauce, use dark brown sugar.
  • 1 tsp each of garlic powder or granules, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
  • 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce and mustard.

Then slice up a nice large onion and pop it into the slow cooker with a splash of water.  

On top of the onions goes a boneless pork shoulder joint.  Mine weighed just under 2lbs, so not a massive joint by anyone’s standards, but good enough for the four of us.  You don’t need to spend a fortune on this since you’ll be cooking it til it falls apart anyway (If I recall, the meat was only about a fiver from Sainsbury’s). 

Spread half the barbecue sauce over the meat, and cook on high (or auto) until you can easily shred it with a couple of forks.  This does take around 8 hours – there is no getting around that.  It’s ok, just go about your day and don’t peek at it too often.  By the time it’s ready to pull, the onions will be soft and the whole thing will be swimming in the barbecue sauce and the pork and onion juices. 

Discard the flabby fatty skin.  No one wants to eat that, and then fork that pork.

Thats what I said.  Fork it real good.  Make sure you keep it in the slow cooker pan whilst you get your shred on. 

Once pulled, mix in the rest of the barbecue sauce, and turn the heat down to low for an hour or so.  You don’t HAVE to do this, but it’s much much better if you do.  

We had ours in soft white rolls with coleslaw, lettuce and tomato.  Standard. 

slow cooker pulled pork

And here is how to make slow cooker pulled pork tacos with the leftovers:

You’ll need:

  • Taco shells, or soft tortillas.  I’d usually go for the soft tortillas, but Saino’s were all out, so taco shells it was. 
  • The leftover pulled pork
  • Lettuce, shredded.
  • A couple of avocados (why not make guacamole?)
  • Creme fraiche or soured cream and hot pepper sauce, if you like.  We like.  
  • Cheese, if you like. Again, we like. 

Tacos are really a do-as-you-like kind of meal.  I like to put the meat in first and then a little shredded lettuce, guacamole, a dollop of creme fraiche and hot sauce, and then a sprinkling of cheese.  The kids just pile it all on in whatever haphazard fashion they please, and Ross likes a lot of meat, a little salad, and liberal quantities of cheese.  Really, anything goes.  It’s just a tasty way of using up leftovers that everyone enjoys!

Best enjoyed with a nice cold beer.  

slow cooker pulled pork

Love Your Leftovers: Gammon, Mushroom and Pea Pie

gammon pie 1.jpg

gammon pie 1.jpgWe quite often have a nice smoked gammon for Sunday lunch.  I just boil it til it’s done, sometimes with some cloves and bay leaves in the water, and we eat it with butter slathered baked potatoes and vegetables.  On Boxing Day, or if I am feeling like I can be bothered, we eat it with braised red cabbage and onion sauce.

It’s a beautifully simple, and beautifully delicious meal. 

The leftovers are easy to get shot of, as well.  I make gammon pie with mine.

 

gammon pie 3.jpg

 

To make gammon pie, you’ll need:

 

  • Leftover gammon, diced into bite sized pieces. 
  • Around 200g mushrooms.  I tend to use chestnut mushrooms, but use what you like, in whatever quantity you fancy.  
  • Frozen peas or petit pois – a good handful at least.
  • 1 white onion – peeled, quartered and sliced, so you end up with little arcs of onion.
  • 2-3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • Milk and water (or veg stock)
  • Seasoning (salt, pepper, nutmeg and a teaspoon or two of Dijon or wholegrain mustard)
  • Puff pastry, shop bought is fine.

 

  1. In a frying pan, gently fry the mushrooms in butter until they are cooked through, but not mushed down.  Add the gammon and warm through.  Decant to your pie dish and set aside. 
  2. Next, make the onion sauce.  In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter and add a splash of olive oil and gently fry the onions on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until softened but not coloured. 
  3. Add your flour to the onions in the pan.  You’ll find the whole lot bunches together, and this is okay.  Allow the flour to cook out for a few seconds, whilst all the time moving it around the pan.  You’ve just made a roux. 
  4. Slowly add milk, a splash at a time.  The first few splashes will absorb immediately, but slowly this will turn into a paste, and then a thick sauce.  It’s really important to keep stirring at this point or you risk the flour clumping together and you’ll end up with a lumpy sauce.  No one likes a lumpy sauce. 
  5. Keep adding milk and water until you have the quantity of sauce you’re happy with.  You can make a sauce using just milk, and that is fine, but I find it to be on the heavy side, so I use a rough ratio of 2:1 milk to water.  Season your sauce to your taste and pour over the gammon and mushrooms.
  6. Next, tip over the peas.  No need to thaw them – who needs the extra work of defrosting peas that are going to heat up in the oven? Mix everything together. 
  7. Cut your shop bought cheat’s pastry to size and lay over the mixture.  Crimp it like a boss to seal and brush over with milk or egg wash.  Poke a little hole in the top to let the steam out.
  8. Bake at 180c for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the sauce is bubbling. 
  9. Pat yourself on the back, you just made an epic gammon pie. 

 

gammon pie 4.jpg

 

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