Well, four more weeks of lockdown food. I am getting so used to this, I think I have developed ‘Lockdown Syndrome’. I’m quite happy to stay indoors, do a little work, do a little cooking, wipe surfaces, even ironing! Then perhaps go into the garden for about ten minutes, but generally be very lazy.
The only thing that has really changed this last week is that our lovely local pub, the Red Lion in Manningtree, have started making pizzas in their old stables, so we ordered one each this last Saturday. And wow, they were good. So tasty and spicy!
I am trying out a few new recipes, but also keeping to old favourites. I like making chicken or pulse kebabs.
CHICKEN OR PULSE KEBABS SERVED WITH PITTA BREAD, TORTILLAS, OR PIADINE
Make a marinade in a large bowl. Add dash of olive oil to spices such as cumin, coriander, cayenne, paprika, oregano, black pepper. Then add some chopped garlic, onion, and lemon juice. (And optional chopped cashew nuts.)
Mix everything together. Add the chicken strips or pulses such as black beans, borlotti beans or chick peas and strips of red pepper, and leave to marinate in the fridge for one hour.
Cook mixture gently in a pan until ingredients are ready.
Serve with pitta bread, tortillas or piadine (Italian equivalent) and either raw sliced white or red cabbage and onion and/or or slices of lettuce, cucumber and tomato.
Lightly toast pitta bread or similar if you wish.
Stuff each pitta with a handful of cabbage/lettuce and so on, then the chicken pieces or pulses, both with the red pepper. Dress with lemon slices, chilli sauce or yoghurt and optional pickled chilli.
GUINEA FOWL WITH RHUBARB AND GINGER SAUCE
1 guinea fowl
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
100g cup sugar
2 cm piece root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
250g rhubarb, cut into bite-sized pieces or 1 stalk
Heat oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6.
Butter a roasting tin and put in guinea fowl. Season with salt, pepper, a spring of rosemary and sprinkle with olive oil or knobs of butter. You can cover with foil if you wish. Depending on weight of fowl it shouldn’t take much more than an hour.
I boiled some new potatoes this time, but you can roast some potatoes and/or onions in oven at the same time. I always cut my potatoes into quite small chunks so that they cook more quickly. (One thing I hate about English pub food is those huge potatoes you get!)
For the sauce:
Put sugar, ginger and 200ml of water in a large saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to as low as possible and add the rhubarb. Cook for 10-12 minutes until tender. Do not boil as the rhubarb will break up.
Serve with more vegetables if you wish.
Another old favourite is baked pasta with aubergine, tomato and mozzarella. If you fancy something different to standard pasta or can’t be bothered to make lasagne, this is a good compromise:
BAKED PASTA WITH AUBERGINE, TOMATOES AND MOZZARELLA
1 small tin of tomatoes or half a big one
Tomato purée (around 1 desert spoon)
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
Smoked paprika – pinch
1 red chilli (optional)
Oregano – pinch
Dash of water, sherry, Marsala, white wine or red wine
Mozzarella (buffalo if possible), sliced
Parmesan – grated
Cut the aubergine in half, baste with oil or butter, put on foil or baking paper on oven tray and bake for around 30 minutes. When it nice and soft, cool slightly and slice horizontally.
Alternatively chop it into small pieces and fry in olive oil in warm pan. Add tomatoes and a little tomato puree. Mix together and add garlic, paprika, chilli and oregano. Add liquid of your choice to keep the sauce quite runny.
In meantime turn on oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6. Cook pasta according to instructions. When ready, drain and mix well with sauce in pan. Transfer to a butted oven dish, top with the sliced mozzarella and optional grated parmesan. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until mozzarella has melted.
Take out of oven and decorate with basil leaves.
If you are feeling extra lazy or if you don’t have much time – always keep some filled pasta like ravioli and tortelloni, or tagliatelle in the freezer.
QUICK TAGLIATELLE or FILLED PASTA IN MUSHROOM, GARLIC AND CREME FRAICHE
Make a quick sauce by sautéing some mushrooms and chopped garlic and adding some crème fraiche or sour cream. If you are really pushed for time, you can make a very quick sauce with either olive oil or butter, chopped garlic and whole sage leaves.
Then the following week (as every Friday – having been brought up to be a good Catholic girl) we had my take on fish and chips.
FISH AND CHIPS MY WAY
I bake everything in the oven. The knack is to use baking paper to make your chips.
Fish – such as salmon, trout, sea bass, haddock, or tuna fillets
Potatoes – one or two depending on size
For the fish:
Lemon juice, soy sauce, white wine or balsamic vinegar
Herbs of your choosing
Capers and/or cornichons – optional
Butter or olive oil
Mayonnaise (ready made!)
Capers and/or cornichons chopped finely – optional
Heat oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6.
Peel potatoes and cut into chip shapes. Line oven tray with baking paper and place chips evenly around whole tray. Sprinkle a little olive oil all over potatoes. I actually use the spray variety Shake pan so that all the chips are covered in some oil. Add an optional sprinkling of salt and/or chilli flakes. Bake in oven for 40 to 60 minutes depending on type of oven. They should come out looking pretty authentic!
In meantime, butter an oven dish. Pat dry fish fillets and add to dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice or other liquid of your choice so that bottom of dish is covered. Add herbs and seasoning and a knob of butter on top of each fillet. Bake for 15-20 minutes so that fish will be ready at same time as chips!
Serve with salad or any vegetable of your choice.
CHICKEN BREASTS OR THIGHS IN SHERRY SAUCE
(This is adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe but I still found it rather too rich – possibly because I served it with celeriac mash and curried cauliflower.)
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive oil
100ml sherry, or white wine, or vermouth or Marsala
125g crème fraîche
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1 tbsp smooth Dijon
2 tsp of small capers or a few sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp of chopped parsley or tarragon leaves
Warm oil in a shallow pan, add the chicken and cook over low heat. Baste regularly and turn the pieces over until golden. Cover with a lid if chicken appears to be cooking too quickly. Cook for 10-20 minutes (depending on if using breasts or thighs) until done.
Remove them from the pan and keep warm under foil or an upturned bowl.
Pour sherry into the pan and turn up the heat. Let the wine bubble and reduce, then stir in the crème fraîche. As the mixture bubbles, stir in grainy mustard and Dijon. Add capers or mushrooms to the pan. Stir in parsley or tarragon. Add in a squeeze of lemon juice then return the chicken breasts to the pan, stirring in the sauce and serve with salad.
HARISSA-COATED MACKEREL WITH ORANGE AND OLIVE RELISH
(This is adapted from a Thomasina Miers’ recipe. The filleting can take some time, even if you buy so-called ‘filleted’ mackerel. I use a fish-shaped pair of tweezers which are very handy!)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 mackerel, cleaned and filleted
1 tsp harissa
1/2 cup couscous
1/2 cup boiling water
For the relish:
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
6 olives, de-stoned and chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed with a little salt
bunch coriander or parsley roughly chopped
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6.
Make the relish first.
Put onion in a bowl. Add the zest of the whole orange and then the juice. Leave to macerate for a few minutes. Add the remaining relish ingredients, season to taste and put to one side.
Line an oven tray with baking paper and grease with a teaspoon or two of oil. Rub the flesh side of the mackerel with the harissa, then lay them skin-side up on the tray. Season the skin, then roast for eight to 10 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the fish is cooked through.
While the fish is in the oven, boil the kettle. Pour the couscous into a bowl, add the remaining olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt. Fill the empty cup with boiling water, pour this over the couscous, stir once, then cover tightly for five minutes. Remove the lid and check the couscous, adding a little more boiling water, if needed. Once it is cooked, use a fork to fluff up the grains.
Dish this out on to plates, pop the fillets on top and spoon over the relish.
THIS IS MY LAST FOOD BLOG. I MIGHT ADD ANOTHER ONE ABOUT WINE AT SOME POINT.
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