Pork (or whatever is available) Sweet Chilli:

Pork (or whatever is available) Sweet Chilli:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main

Serves:        2

Rating:         3:  Moderate

The sweet chilli sauce that is available in a bottle in supermarkets can be used very effectively in making different dishes from the same basic ingredients.

Find:

  • Leftover pork from a roast, or sausages, or beef, or….
  • Peppers of some kind or another
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweetcorn
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Sweet Chilli sauce

Method:

  • Chop the onion and start to fry it up in whatever oil you prefer.
  • Cut up the leftover meat into bite-sized cubes and throw that into the pan as well.
  • Prepare the peppers by removing the seeds and chopping into large pieces and add to the pan, adding a couple of splashes of water.
  • Turn the heat right down and cover the pan.
  • Cook for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking.
  • Add the sliced tomatoes and the sweetcorn, pour in a slug of the chilli sauce and stir.
  • Replace the lid and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Adjust the sweet chilli sauce to your taste, give another quick stir and serve with Delia’s lovely white rice.

Pork’n’rasins with veg:

Pork’n’rasins with veg:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      1 hour.

Course:        Main

Serves:        2

Rating:         3:  Moderate

For two people, Find:

  • 2 cheap (value) pork chops
  • A few sultanas or raisins liberated from the back of the cupboard somewhere
  • Stock cube(s)
  • Seasoning
  • A little soy sauce – dark or light – what the hell

Method:

  • Put a couple of the cheap (supermarket ‘value’) pork chops into an oven dish, add a little light soy sauce and then pour on a mug of stock made from a chicken, veg or lamb stock cube – not beef – and a few raisins/sultanas – half a handful?, and add a good amount of ground black pepper or 5 baes (see Tricks’n’Tips).

Make sure that all of the dried fruit is immersed so that it doesn’t dry out.  Don’t use too much soy; it will taste ‘metallic’ if you do.  You can dilute dark soy if that’s all you have.

  • Cover it carefully with foil and shove it into an oven at around 170 degrees for about half an hour. Whatever veg you choose to do with this dish is fine.  Potatoes?  Boiled, steamed, roast…. Whatever you do will be ok.  The pork will emerge soft and succulent, and the sauce it has been sitting in (if you add it to a red onion fried for 10 minutes, perhaps with a clove of garlic) will add to the appeal.   It may not be rocket science, but it will be rather heavenly – and remember; you cooked it.  Well done!

Cheesy Turkey Burgers:

Cheesy Turkey Burgers: 

(This recipe may be made with any meat, but we’ll use turkey for now).

This recipe is flexible.  If you only have a little turkey left over it will feed less people than if a lot of meat is available.  Thus, you will need to vary the quantities as necessary. 

Use your brain – it will work, honest.  The recipe, that is; I don’t know about your brain!

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        See text

Rating:         2:  Easy

 

Find:

  • Left-over cooked turkey (or whatever meat you have)
  • Onion
  • Hard cheese (no, ol’ feller, that’s not a comment, it’s an ingredient),  grated
  • Worcester sauce, as you have cheese….
  • Garlic
  • An egg
  • A little flour (Flour, that is; not flowers!)
  • Seasoning
  • Optional – Whole grain mustard
  • Oil (Avoid Teak, Castor, Engine, Body, Baby……)
  • Burger Baps (bread rolls)
  • Tomatoes & Salad as required
  • A Wally (that’s a gherkin for those uninitiated in the fascinating world of the Wally)
  • Sauces; ketchup, mayo, brown sauce, mustard……..
  • Food processor
  • Frying pan

METHOD:

  • Put the onion (coarsely hacked just to give it a start) and the turkey into the food processor with the Worcester sauce, seasoning, egg, whole grain mustard and half of the cheese.
  • Process (blitz) the contents to a thick consistency.
  • Sprinkle a little flour onto a cleaned surface; take a handful of the paste, firstly making a ball and then pressing it into a burger shape (not too thick) on the floured surface.
  • Your aim is to make burger shapes (they can be square ones if you are using sandwich bread instead of rolls) of the paste, lightly dusted with flour. (Make ‘em elephant shape if you wish….. or if you have what we know as ‘bridge rolls’ around here, shape them in a penile fashion…..! )
  • Fry these in oil for 3 to 4 minutes each side then take them out, load them with the cheese (and more Worcester sauce), transferring them to the grill to have the cheese gooified (or just carefully return them to the pan, turned down to the lowest heat, if you haven’t a grill – or are just too lazy to put it on….).
  • Serve them in baps or bread with whatever salad, sauces, etc you would like.
  • Take that, Makkidoos! (coarse reference to a certain fast food chain….or even ALL fast…….)

Navarine of Lamb:

Navarine of Lamb:

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      3 hours in two sessions (2+1), ideally with an overnight rest between.

Course:        Main

Serves:        8

Rating:         3:  Moderate, but well worth the effort and time put in, as this version is a twice-cooked dish; cooked one day, left overnight to cool and then heated through again the following day.

Navarine is a low-cost but absolutely delicious French lamb stew with various root vegetables and button onions cooked in a two-session format.

It’s called Navarine because of the turnips (Turnip = Navet in French).  Make your own decisions as to what veg should be put into it.  Turnips are not actually compulsory, even though the name might suggest so.

For 8 people, find:

  • 2 kg of some sort of cheap, boneless stewing lamb (probably boned-out neck).
  • Root veg – carrots, turnips, potatoes
  • Celery
  • Button onions – the cheapest ones from the supermarket
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • A good dollop/squeeze of tomato puree
  • A dollop (that is ‘a dollop’, not ‘a good dollop……’) of whole grain mustard.  Yeah, right….whatever!  Face…bovvered….?
  • Left-over red wine (A friend of mine has to ask…. “Is there such a thing as LEFT-OVER wine?”)
  • Two mugs of stock (see Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Some fresh thyme – if fresh is not available, use dried
  • Fresh chopped parsley if you can get hold of it – a hefty handful
  • Four tablespoons of flour of some sort
  • A large saucepan that will also go into the oven (cast iron le Creusot?) or a large oven dish and a saucepan.

Method:

  • If the meat is not already cubed, cut to 1” cubes on a chopping board. If it’s already cubed, just trim off any really large lumps of fat.  Don’t be over-fussy with trimming as the long, slow cooking will melt away most of the now-grotty-looking bits – that’s one of the beauties of this dish, it makes beautiful food from relatively cheap cuts of meat.
  • Put some olive oil and butter into the saucepan, allow it to melt and mingle, and then introduce the lamb….Lamb, this is butter and oil….Butter and oil this is Lamb……
  • Turn the heat up to high. There needs to be space in the pan for the lamb to brown.  If the lamb is too crowded in the pan, it will start to sweat, lose moisture and refuse to brown.  We want the surface to brown, to enhance the lamb flavours – give it space.  You may have to do this in several batches, adding further oil/butter as necessary, to get it all browned properly.  The browning process intensifies the wonderful taste of the relatively cheaper cut of lamb so do not miss this out!
  • Put all the lamb back into the saucepan when browned, and bung in the flour.
  • Stir it all in with the oil, butter, juices, etc so that they are all really well absorbed.
  • Put the wine into frying pan to ‘de-glaze’ it and stir/scrape all the sticky bits into the heating wine. It will SHUSH dramatically….. just pretend you’re a chef.  If using two pans, pour the contents of the (now cleaner) frying pan into the saucepan.
  • Add the stock. Boil up.
  • Add the root veg, onions, garlic and everything else except the parsley.  If the saucepan is suitable for the oven, put on the lid and pop into the oven at gas mk 2 for a couple of hours.
  • Check after an hour to ensure it is not drying out. Add more stock (or wine) if necessary.
  • If the pan is not suitable for use in the oven, tip all the contents into an oven dish and cover with foil or a lid.
  • After the two hours, check it for liquid and leave it in the now switched-off oven – overnight if possible.

It really is worth doing this dish over two days.  Honest.

  • The following day, with a fish slice or spatula or something wide and flat, carefully lift off as much of the fat layer that has now formed on the top of the stew into a cup and deal with it appropriately (see Tricks’n’Tips – dealing with fats). This makes it much nicer and, of course, lower fat!  If it was oven cooked in an oven dish, put it all now into a large saucepan – if necessary, borrow one from the rather pretty little miss that you spotted down the road the other day…. then you can ask her to dinner as repayment…..
  • Put the pan over a medium heat and bring to simmering, then turn down to the lowest heat possible. Try not to disturb the pan too much as the meat should be nice’n’tender by now….we don’t want a mushy mess.
  • Cover and leave to simmer really gently over the lowest heat possible for an hour.
  • Put in the chopped parsley but don’t stir. It is now ready.
  • Serve with Dauphinoise potatoes, French beans, Chantenay carrots and a great big smile on your smug face.

You’ll never taste lamb like it again – until you cook Navarine of Lamb again – which you most certainly will want to do. (Ideally, in a smaller batch, for you and that rather pretty little miss ….)

Green lamb:

Green lamb:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        2

Rating:         4:  Tricky

Find:

  • A full rack of lamb or a lamb fillet
  • Bunch of fresh flat-leaved parsley
  • Some fresh rosemary leaves, avoiding the hard brown bits on the ends – yeah, I know it’s a phaph to trim them….but go on…. Indulge me on this occasion…. How many?  You’re cooking the friggin dish!
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped) or more
  • 250g white breadcrumbs, ideally half dried, half fresh but you do what you think
  • 50g butter
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Oven preheated to gas mk 9/240 oC
  • Food processor?
  • Roasting tin
  • Frying pan.griddle

 

METHOD:

  • Blitz (in a food processor) all herbs, garlic & breadcrumbs, progressively, to give a fine mixture.
  • Season the lamb well, gently heat the butter in a pan until foaming.
  • Brown the lamb for 5 minutes over a medium heat without blackening the butter.
  • Remove & rest for at least 10 minutes.
  • Brush lamb with the whole grain mustard & roll in the breadcrumb mix to liberally coat it evenly. Load the top with more mixture to give a good layer.  Dribble (that’s an anti-posh way of drizzling) the rest of the butter onto the coating….probably adding a bit more for good measure.
  • Place the loaded lamb in a well-oiled roasting tin & put into the oven (pre-heated to 240 degs C) for 6 minutes.
  • Remove & leave to rest in its tin and under foil for 5 minutes before slicing it almost through, between each rib, with a sharp knife. That period of resting is important.  The lamb should be nice’n’pink when sliced.

Bacon wrapped asparagus bunches:

Photo:  Chris Wiles Photgraphy

Bacon wrapped asparagus bunches:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Starter or side dish

Serves:        6

Rating:         3:  Moderate

 

Well, on the surface, quite basically, it’s just asparagus wrapped in bacon – or so it may seem……….  but let me just tell you a little story before telling you how to cook it….

As a young but fully qualified (and probably fairly arrogant and know-it-all) Motor Vehicle Technician, back in the early 70’s, I was called to a rather posh broken-down car in a rich Leicestershire village early one morning.  The starter motor ‘bendix drive’ had stuck, as they did quite often in those days.  All I needed to do to get the car going and let the customer get to work was to smartly clout the starter motor with a copper mallet – a standard trade trick of the time.  It usually worked a treat.  Instant success.  However, on this occasion the owner didn’t want to pay the bill as he said that he had done that before calling me out, and so he’d probably loosened it.  My reply was quite considered, (actually very well-rehearsed) and quite succinct.

“It’s not just ‘hitting the starter with a hammer’ that does the trick, Sir.  It’s knowing where to strike it, with which implement, in which direction and how hard “. 

He begrudgingly paid up.  It was a stock answer to a stock situation, even then, he still reported me for being gobby.   Well, I suppose I was.   Ne’mind!

Yes, you guessed it – I got a rocketing from my Service Manager – and then a knowing wink.

So, likewise, it’s not just wrapping the asparagus in bacon that will ensure your success as a flash git, it’s how you wrap it, what you wrap it around and what you use to wrap it, etc.

And so to the chase……

What you’ll need (as a posh starter) for 6 people:

  • A bunch of asparagus – fairly obvious really, but for this, you’ll need quite robust asparagus. Thin local-grown English asparagus is great for quick butter sautéing (cor, does the really fresh local English produce taste so nice) or for asparagus spear tarts, but for this flash git version you’ll ideally need the thicker stuff.  Late season English; or even better, the South American – probably Peruvian – asparagus works best.  Allocate three or four fat spears per person for a starter.
  • 250g Streaky bacon – smoked or ‘green’ (unsmoked); no matter, whichever you prefer. This should be in long strips, so that it can be wound around the asparagus.
  • Butter – perhaps a little garlic butter left over from doing garlic bread? – see Tricks’n’Tips.

Method:

  • Asparagus is easy to prepare. Don’t cut it; break it.
  • Feel your way along the stem between the finger and thumb of both hands, bending each spear carefully to discover where it naturally snaps. You will, of course, want to retain as much of the expensive vegetable as possible, so start at the cut end and find out where it snaps.  This way you’ll get the best of the spear and avoid the stringy bit – but don’t bin the end that you cut off; keep it by for now.  You can make soup from it using the blanching water and the peelings as well.  You may be a flash git in the making, but you can also be an economical and, if necessary, quite frugal (in other words, tight as a duck’s arse) flash git.
  • If the spears are thick enough, carefully peel (with a potato peeler, not a knife) the very outer skin from the lower stems, below the knobbly bits, retaining the peelings for soup/stock, as above.
  • Wipe the spears dry with kitchen roll and smear them with the butter or garlic butter.
  • Bunch two or three spears together and start winding on the bacon from just below the knobbly bits, down to the broken ends, avoiding any further overlap if possible on the way down, covering the stem without gaps. It may take two strips, depending on length of asparagus and/or bacon strips.
  • Lay them onto a plate or into a container for cooking just before needed. Keep the prepared spears cool – and don’t let anyone see them as they’ll be SUCH a surprise when you bring them out looking gorgeous.  Yo, man.
  • When almost time to consume your prized items, gently sauté (yes, that does mean gently fry) these beauties, keeping them moving, as you now well know) in very little oil, as the bacon has a fat content and you also have the butter to consider. Be really careful to keep the cooking long and low if you used garlic butter, as you don’t want the garlic to burn and go bitter.
  • Turn them carefully so that they don’t unwrap, they’ll take about 5 to 10 minutes – or maybe longer, depending on the bottom heat used – or until the bacon has properly crisped up – cos they’re nicer that way.
  • Present them on a slice or a chunk of brown/wholemeal bread, criss-crossed in a pretty pattern. This will absorb the excess fats and leave the spears (and the bread) just scrummy.

Cor, you sure is lucky to have this little booky. (Well…… blog thingy anyway).

Pâté – various versions

Pâté – various versions

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Starter or snack

Serves:        8 to 10

Rating:         3:  Moderate (well, it’s actually more fiddly than difficult – but well worth it).

One really good thing about living in France for part of the year is that I get to use all manner of different ingredients.  If I see something interesting that might be good in a dish, I get it and experiment with it.  Normally it works well and makes a great version of whatever it was I was making.  Sometimes it doesn’t work, and then it’s just put down to experience.  Today I have just made a superb version of a basic pâté, using chicken livers (tasty but a bit boring) and duck hearts.

 “WHOA!” I hear you say.  “HEARTS?” 

Yes, duck hearts.  I was dead chuffed to find these little gems on special offer.  Don’t be squeamish; they’re lovely.  Heart is a good meat. (I draw the line at tripes or brains, but heart is a good meat from just about any animal). You don’t NEED to use heart in this recipe; don’t fret yourself!

The method I’ll describe is a basic method for pâtés of all sorts, but I’ll give you variations as we go along.

Find; to make enough for 8-10 people to have a starter:

  • 2 large red onions (or could be white, yellow…..blue?) chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 250g butter
  • 500g – 800g meat content – pig’s liver, lamb’s liver, chicken livers, duck hearts or whatever you wish to use…… you don’t have to use duck hearts… or a mixture of any of them
  • Sea salt & ground black pepper (preferably both coarsely ground)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (an’ ‘arf a bottle for the chef….)
  • You can also add mushrooms, crushed/chopped pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts etc, to alter the flavour and texture, should you wish.
  • Other flavourings (perhaps closely pared orange zest to give a zing of citrus, or ‘ambiance’ if yer wanna be posh).
  • Frying pan, mixing bowl (just any bowl large enough to take it all), food processor (if y’ain’t got one, borrow one. If y’don’t, you’ll be there for a fortnight choppin’!), ceramic dish large enough to take the mixture – or just use the mixing bowl!

Method:

  • Peel and roughly chop the onions. Don’t be too fussy when chopping as everything will be put through the food processor anyway – just don’t chop y’fingers (unless you can stand a funny-coloured finished product).
  • Melt about 50g of the butter in a frying pan and add the onions, heating them very gently to soften them rather than frying them off. After about 5 mins, add lots of ground black pepper and a little salt.  Remember that you can re-balance the seasoning later, but you can’t reduce salt content.
  • Peel and chop the garlic (see Tricks’n’Tips for the easy way to peel garlic) and add it to the onions in the pan. You MUST NOT overheat the garlic.  If it colours up, it’ll become bitter an’ knackered (like me).  You could even turn the heat off when the garlic goes in; that’d do it.
  • Put the now heated/softened onion mixture aside in a bowl.
  • Meat content: You could use all chicken liver or pig’s liver, beef or lamb’s liver or combinations of liver & heart of just about anything, I suppose.  I used chicken livers and some rather delicious duck heart for mine, about 50/50.
  • Trim the livers/hearts/kidneys of the fatty/sinewy bits. Cut ‘em away using scissors rather than a knife, it’s much easier.

(Fry up the trimmings for your dog/cat – he/she will love ‘em cold, sprinkled on top of the normal dog/cat food.  Try to use everything that you’ve bought – you’ve paid for it all, so use it all, even if it is just for the benefit of resident mutt or mog.  Reserve the juices from the cooking of them.  (Not the juices from the mutt or mog.)

  • Chop the firmer meat more than the soft chicken livers (chucky livers only need to be rinsed, patted dry on kitchen roll and halved, really) and gently fry them all in more butter. You’ll need to retain about 50g of melted butter to cover the paté for later, so keep that by for now.
  • The meat content will need about 10 mins of slow, low-heat cooking. When the chicken livers are just slightly pink in the middle, they’re ready – the duck hearts need a little further time.
  • Pour the contents of the pan into the bowl with the onions and mix ‘em all up nicely.
  • Use a food processor for long enough to give a velvety smooth texture. With mine, I processed the duck heart separately and for much less time to achieve a coarser texture, and then mixed that into the smooth chicken liver & onion mix to produce a smooth pâté with coarse duck heart pieces suspended within it, as a highlight.  Posh, eh?
  • Put it all back into the bowl and mix for the last time. Now check for seasoning/flavours and adjust as necessary – do it now.
  • Then add a couple of tablespoons of brandy – to the bowl, not to you. Aw, go on then – but only one small swig……

You must get the seasoning right before adding the brandy because the spirit, in its raw-straight-from-the-bottle form, will kill any flavours in the paté for a while.  The paté will need to mature before it’s consumed, you see.  Sorry, but there it is.  You should have made it earlier then!

  • Pour it all into the final container, preferably ceramic (but there’s nothing wrong with using a small loaf tin or plastic container from your Chinese/Indian take-away, if that’s all you have).
  • If you’ve used orange/lemon/lime juice/zest as flavouring, cut a couple of pretty slices of fruit and lay those either in the bottom of the container if you intend to turn it out to look good, or on the top if you can’t be bothered to turn it out.
  • Or if it’s quite herby, like mine, lay a sprig of herb on the top (or under) – mine has rosemary. Just make it look a bit pretty.
  • Gently melt the rest of the butter and pour it all over the top of everything, sealing it all in, including the herb/fruit/whatever. Now leave it until cool enough to go into the fridge.
  • Keep it there for at least 48 hours; preferably longer as the tastes & flavours will improve as time rolls on – I left mine for a week.
  • Turn it out onto a plate…..or not.
  • Cut slices of the pâté and serve it with slices of seeded bread or toast. It will be delicious either with or without butter.  And you’ll look ruddy heroic when you say “It’s just a little paté I knocked up the other day……..”
  • Don’t tell ‘em about the duck hearts until they’ve told you that it was a friggin’ triumph!

Cheesy Turkey Burgers:

Cheesy Turkey Burgers: 

(This recipe may be made with any meat, but we’ll use turkey for now).

This recipe is flexible.  If you only have a little turkey left over it will feed less people than if a lot of meat is available.  Thus, you will need to vary the quantities as necessary.   Or just ‘make it stretch’.

Use your brain – it will work, honest.  The recipe, that is; I don’t know about your brain!

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        See text

Rating:         2:  Easy

             Find:

  • Left-over cooked turkey (or whatever meat you have)
  • Onion
  • Hard cheese (no, ol’ feller, that’s not a comment, it’s an ingredient) that has been grated
  • Worcester sauce, as you have cheese….
  • Garlic
  • An egg
  • A little flour (Flour, that is; not flowers!)
  • Seasoning
  • Optional – Whole grain mustard
  • Oil
  • Burger Baps (bread rolls)
  • Tomatoes & Salad as required
  • A Wally (that’s a gherkin for those uninitiated in the fascinating world of the Wally)
  • Sauces; ketchup, mayo, brown sauce, mustard……..
  • Food processor
  • Frying pan

METHOD:

  • Put the onion (coarsely hacked just to give it a start) and the turkey into the food processor with the Worcester sauce, seasoning, egg, whole grain mustard and half of the cheese.
  • Process (blitz) the contents to a thick consistency.
  • Sprinkle a little flour onto a cleaned surface; take a handful of the paste, firstly making a ball and then pressing it into a burger shape (not too thick) on the floured surface.
  • Your aim is to make burger shapes (they can be square ones if you are using sandwich bread instead of rolls) of the paste, lightly dusted with flour. (Make ‘em elephant shape if you wish….. or if you have what we know as ‘bridge rolls’ around here, shape them in a penile fashion…..! )
  • Fry these in oil for 3 to 4 minutes each side then take them out, load them with the cheese (and more Worcester sauce), transferring them to the grill to have the cheese gooified (or just carefully return them to the pan, turned down to the lowest heat, if you haven’t a grill – or are just too lazy to put it on….).
  • Serve them in baps or bread with whatever salad, sauces, etc you would like.
  • Take that, Makkidoos! (coarse reference to a certain fast food chain….or even ALL fast food chains!)