Friday, 16 December 2011

New Favourite Weekend Breakfast - Eggs in Filo

New number one
I got stuck in the breakfast rut AGAIN, cereal is just a plain no no at the weekends, so boring and weekday-ish. I eventually remembered a few torn out recipes I had dribbled over reading the paper on the way to work. The one I really wanted to try was something to do with eggs in filo type pastry, fried into a tasty little breakfast friendly parcel. If you manage to fold the pastry up quick enough, what you get is a package of crispy filo, and inside a perfectly cooked egg, yolk all runny, and set white which has managed to ooze into every corner, filling the parcel out perfectly. You do have to work fast and a few imperfect efforts are forgivable, it all tastes good and that's the whole point. I revved mine up a bit, wandering slightly from the recipe adding fried chorizo (pancetta or sliced bacon would be just as good) and a good sprinkling of parsley.
Flipping fast...

Feeds two. Fry a handful of chopped chorizo or pancetta in a large frying pan until crispy, and set aside. Break an egg into a small glass and warm the oven. Heat a glug of olive oil in the bacon pan. Very quickly,  lay a sheet of filo pastry inside the pan (I accidentally found these awesome round sheets in Waitrose) and pour the egg in the middle. Now using fingers or a spatula, fold it up to make a little parcel, ensuring there are no holes for the egg to escape out of. Don't stress too much about it being perfect because once it's all fried up it will be great. Fry for a minute and then do the other side, you want it golden, put on a plate covered with kitchen roll and keep in the oven while you repeat the process three more times. When all ready, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with a blob of harissa. Any spicy sauce would be excellent with this, and a few slices of grilled streaky bacon don't taste too shabby on the side either.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Chorizo & Cod Stew - a kind of Surf & Turf if you like

And the food stylist award 2011 goes to...
It might look a bit of a mess from the photo, sorry, no food stylist of the year awards here! However, the combination of paprika spiked chorizo, with soft flakey cod, all wrapped up in a tomatoey stew is warming and comforting beyond belief, and a favourite of mine. There is nearly always a supply of chorizo in my fridge and a lonely fillet of cod was languishing in the freezer, so what to cook wasn't a hard decision.

Feeds two. Fry a finely chopped onion and clove of garlic in a splash of olive oil in a deep frying pan/normal saucepan. When softened add a handful of chopped chorizo and continue frying until you get the paprika oozing out and the chorizo crisps a little bit. Throw in a tin of chopped tomatoes, a couple of potatoes cut into small chunks, 150ml water, stir well and season, and simmer until the spuds are nearly cooked, about 10 minutes. Add two fillets of any white fish, chopped into bite size chunks, stir well and let it simmer for no longer than 10 minutes until the fish is cooked. Scatter with chopped parsley at the last minute and serve either on it's own or with some nice crusty bread. 

Get a napkin ready, because when you lick the plate the red sauce goes everywhere. What??!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Pheasant Ragu

A pan full of lush
A spare brace of pheasant? Yes please! A kind friend delivered the promised goods, and I promptly hung them up in the garage, vowing not to forget about them. A few days later I decided it was now or never, rolled my sleeves up and skinned and gutted them, ready for the pot. I sat at the garden table, constantly looking over my shoulder for naughty foxes (Surbiton foxes are alarmingly bold) and dealt with the pheasants with my usual, slightly clumsy method, head, wings and legs off, then off with it's pyjamas and yank, out come the sausages, or something like that. Anyway, I eventually got them oven ready and proceeded to scare small boys playing in the street as, with bloodied hands I threw a heavy bag of pheasant parts in the dustbin. Mwahaha. Mr Pheasant was destined for ragu, and Mrs Pheasant awaits her fate in the freezer.

Pheasant makes a lovely ragu, much lighter than beef but just as, if not more tasty. Like all these slow cook jobs, it's easy as pie and cheap. No complaints there.

Makes enough ragu for 4 fatties. Add a generous glug of olive oil to a large casserole dish and add a couple of chopped carrots, a chopped onion, two sticks chopped celery and a few cloves of garlic, you guessed it, chopped. Let this soften gently, don't burn it or let it colour too much. Add a whole skinned pheasant to the pan and let it brown all over. Add a couple of bay leaves, pour over 1/3 of a bottle of red wine, a tin of tomatoes and season. The bird wants to be mostly covered by liquid at this point so top up with water if needs be. Season well, bring to the boil and then let it simmer, covered for about an hour. At this point give it a stir, turn the pheasant over and give it at least another half hour, leaving the lid half off to allow it to reduce a bit. The meat is cooked when it the legs come away from the body with a gentle nudge. Turn the heat off, remove the pheasant and shred the meat, and put it back in the pot. When all the meat is back in, check for seasoning. When I did this it was lacking a bit of oomph so I grated in some of that awesome 100% cacau chocolate and a few sploshes of Worcester sauce. It worked a treat and was perfectly oomphy after that. If the ragu still looks a bit wet, give it a blast to reduce further, otherwise simply serve on top of pasta, not forgetting a good grating of Parmesan.

Just what you need on a chilly winter's evening, now I need to find something yummy for Mrs Pheasant...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What to Cook for Sick People - Poulet au Pot

Food to fix you up
'Don't worry, we still need to eat...fix us with  your food please.' was the response I got when I queried whether or not two snivelling friends were still coming over for supper. I thought they might have changed their minds but Hannah and Tash wanted to come and eat, and probably share a few germs. Poulet au pot is one of those gentle, soothing dishes, for when  you really aren't feeling great. Spicy noodle soups are great for chasing a hangover away but when you are actually bug ridden and fragile for reasons not involving too much grog, a softer approach is sometimes needed. What you get with this recipe is soft juicy chicken, poached in a light fragrant broth flavoured by the poulet and the herbs, and equally flavoursome and comforting veg.

Feeds four (with left over chicken and stock): You do need a massive casserole dish for this, one big enough to take a whole chicken and then some. Put a whole chicken in the pot. Rub the insides with 1tbsp each of pounded peppercorns and juniper berries and stuff it with a few sprigs of parsley and thyme and a few slices of ginger. You could get fancy and tie up the herbs in a bouquet garnis but I didn't have any proper string and didn't want a Bridget Jones style blue soup moment. Cover with water, properly submerging the chook. Add two leeks, trimmed and halved length ways (keep the root intact). Put the lid on and bring to the boil. After about 20 minutes add to the stock two large peeled and quartered potatoes, a peeled and chopped (big chunks) swede and a big handful of baby turnips. Keep bubbling away for another 20 minutes and then add some carrots, halved and sliced length-ways. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix 3 very finely chopped shallots, 2 tbsp chopped tarragon, 2 tsp white wine vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil and seasoning. Check it for tang. By now the chicken and veg should all be cooked. Pull out the chicken and joint it (should pretty much fall apart on the chopping board). Peel away all the gross pale limp skin, if it's not crispy and brown I'm not interested. Stick all the veg on a platter, add the chicken, ladle a healthy amount of broth into bowls and let the invalids* help themselves to the meat and veg. Dribble the vinaigrette over the top and HALLELUJA! You are healed, my child!

*By no means deny yourself this dish when not feeling poorly, it's just a good one to pull out when you are.