Barbecue Beef Mince

Serve this in warmed buns like a sloppy joe, in tortillas with shredded cheddar on in jacket potatoes.

1 celery stalk, cut into chunks
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled
5 rashers bacon
2 tbs. vegetable oil
3 tbs. dark brown sugar
pinch ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 lb. ground beef
1 x 14oz. can chopped tomatoes
3 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. bourbon
2 tbs. tomato paste

Tip the celery, onions, carrots, garlic and bacon into a food processor and blitz to a nubbly paste. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and add the veg. Cook for 15-20 minutes over a low heat. Stir in 1 tbs. of the brown sugar, cloves and allspice. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon as you go. Season well and tip in the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, bourbon, tomato paste and remaining 2 tbs. brown sugar. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, adding a bit more water is needed.

Serves 4

 

Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Yet another use for rotisserie chicken!

1 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
4 slices bacon
1/2 iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 small avocados, scooped into chunks
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
pepper to taste
splash more olive oil, if needed
1 tbs. chopped chives, to serve

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to cool, then crumble. Do do throw out the oil in the pan.

Put the lettuce, chicken, avocado and bacon in a large bowl. Add the mustard and vinegar along with a good grinding of pepper to the skillet and whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and toss to dress. Drizzle in more olive oil, if needed. Sprinkle with the chives, to serve.

Serves 3-4

Pantry Paella

This is a wonderful way to use up any pork leftovers.

pinch saffron threads
1/2 cup sherry
2 tbs. regular olive oil
3 scallions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups paella or risotto rice
2 cups chicken stock
8 oz. raw shrimp (defrosted if frozen)
1 cup squid tubes, sliced (defrost if frozen)
1 1/2 cups diced, cooked pork
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to serve
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Drop the saffron threads into a small saucepan and add the sherry. Place over a low heat and warm, not letting it come to a boil. Leave to cool.

Heat the oil in a large, wide pan and cook the scallions for a few minutes.  Stir in the garlic and the rice. Pour in the chicken stock and the saffron-infused sherry. Stir gently to mix, then leave to simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp, squid, pork and peas. Season well and continue to simmer until the shrimp and squid are cooked and the rice is tender.

Serve sprinkled with cilantro with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 4

 

Jumbo Chili Sauce

This savory sauce is good with so many things, but it is especially delicious with roasted duck.

12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
3 red or green chilies, deseeded
1 garlic clove, peeled
zest and juice of lime
3 1/2 cups (lightly packed) cilantro leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil

Tip the peppers, chilies, garlic, lime zest and juice, cilantro leaves and salt in a small food processor. Blitz, then pour in the oil with the motor running to make a thick sauce. The sauce can be keep chilled for up to a week.

 

Chicken Fajitas

Delicious, Dazzlingly Easy and Do It Yourself!

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 tbs. garlic flavored olive oil
2 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs. vegetable oil
2 small onions, peeled and cut into thin half moons
3 bell peppers (orange, yellow and/or red), deseeded and cut into
strips
8 soft flour tortillas, warmed, to serve

Optional accompaniments:

grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream
corn kernels
avocado
iceberg lettuce, shredded
fresh cilantro
hot chili sauce

Over a shallow bowl, cut the chicken into strips with a pair of scissors. Toss in the oregano, cumin, salt, olive oil and lime juice. Leave to marinate.

Warm the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok and cook the onions over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Tip in the bell peppers and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until everything is softened.

Add the chicken with the marinade and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with warmed tortilla and the accompaniments of your choice.

Serves 4

Golden Sole with Tarted-Up Tarter Sauce

Here is a simple seafood supper with just the right amount of crunch and a piquant sauce for the side.

1 egg
dash garlic-infused olive oil
sprinkling of salt and good grinding of pepper
1 cup instant polenta
4 sole fillets
vegetable oil, for frying

For the Tarter Sauce:
scant 1/2 cup creme fraiche, sour cream or plain yogurt
2 tsp. baby capers, drained
1 dill pickle or 5 cornichons, chopped
3 rings jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt

Beat the egg with the olive oil, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Put the polenta in another shallow dish. Dip each fillet into the egg, then coat with the polenta. Place on a wire rack to dry a bit and repeat with the remaining fillets.

For the sauce, stir together all the ingredients.

Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the fish for 2-3 minutes per side, or until cooked through and crunchy on the outside. Serve with the tarter sauce.

Risotto Bolognase

Rich, meaty bolognase sauce is a natural fit for this creamy and delicious risotto.

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery stalk, halved
1 garlic clove, peeled
handful fresh parsley
6 slices bacon
4 anchovy fillets
3 tbs. butter, plus 1 extra, to serve
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup Marsala
14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbs. tomato paste
2 tbs. whole milk
8 cups veal stock
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra, to serve

Heat the oven to 300°F. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovies in a food processor and blitz to a paste.

Heat the 3 tbs. butter and oil in a heavy Dutch oven and cook the paste for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the meat and cook until brown. Add the Marsala. Process the tomatoes until smooth and pour in along with the tomato paste, milk and bay leaves. Add 2 cups of the stock, clamp on a lid and put in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and discard to bay leaves. Heat the remaining stock to a simmer in a saucepan.

Stir the rice into the sauce. Add a ladleful of the stock and stir until it is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock until the rice is tender. This should take about 18 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and remaining butter. Serve sprinkled with more cheese.

 

Cheesy Chili

Serve this chili with cornbread and a tossed green salad.

2 chorizo sausages, cut into fat coins and halved
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 x 14oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water, to rinse out the tomato can
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 x 15oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
handful of cilantro, leaves chopped

Heat a heavy-based saucepan that comes with a lid and add the chorizo. Cook just long enough for the juices to start running, then stir in the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When the beef has cooked, add the cocoa powder, oregano and tomato paste. Give it a good stir, then add the tomatoes, water, Worcestershire sauce and beans.

Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bubble until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Serves 6

Spring Chicken

Fresh and flavorful, this has all the lovely elements for a Springtime supper.

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup cubed pancetta or lardons of bacon
12 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
1 leek, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding black pepper
1 cup dry hard cider or white vermouth
2 cups frozen peas
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
large handful shredded romaine or arugula
2 tbs. chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Heat the oil in a large, wide Dutch oven that comes with a lid. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until they begin to color. Add the chicken and brown for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Turn them over and tip in the leeks, celery, garlic, dried tarragon, salt, pepper and cider or vermouth. Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the peas and bubble 10 minutes more. Add the mustard, romaine or arugula and the fresh tarragon, if using.

Serves 6

Slut’s Spaghetti

This deeply flavored dish is known as Pasta Puttanesca in Italy but as “Whore’s Spaghetti” in England. Too funny!

3 tbs. olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes or 1 red or jalapeño chili, deseeded and minced
1 lb. spaghetti
1 x 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups drained black olives
2 tbs. drained capers, rinsed
2-3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Tip the oil into a wide, shallow skillet over a medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook for 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon until they have melted into the oil. Add the garlic and chili flakes or chili and cook for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, olives and capers and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions in boiling, well salted water. Remove a cup of water from the pasta, then drain it and add it to the skillet. Toss well and add more pasta water if necessary. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Serves

4 – 6