‘Remember, Remember the 5th of November’… Yes, it’s that time of year! Once again, like Halloween, I’m not sure how many celebrations will be going ahead this year with Covid, but I do hope that I get to see some fireworks, as although these days I don’t necessarily go to fireworks displays, I must admit that I do love watching them from our upstairs windows – our local park always has a fantastic display!
When I was a child, Guy Fawkes Night used to be one of my favourite events of the year. In those days Halloween wasn’t such a celebrated occasion as it is these days, so the autumn event was definitely ‘Firework Night’. We lived in the countryside, and I remember that the week before November 5th we would search our local newspaper (there was no internet then!), for the announcements of local firework displays. On the evening of the 5th, before we went off to the chosen venue, my mum would put jacket potatoes in the oven, so that when we returned we could have jacket potatoes with sausages and baked beans – a real ‘bonfire night treat”! These memories have, naturally, got me thinking about food and the menus for this week…Menu One is ‘Chicken, Sausage and Apple Cider Stew’ a one pot recipe, a great combination of ingredients, perfect for a cold (and wet?) Bonfire Night. To be honest, I don’t think it really needs any accompaniment but you could have some greens on the side if you want to be virtuous and, if you’re really hungry, a jacket potato! Continuing with the ‘Bonfire Night’ theme, Menu Two is a sausage tray bake, ‘Super Simple Sausages with Roasted Potato and Onion Wedges’, this is a great midweek ‘lazy dish’ as it is seriously easy. The key to this dish is to get really tasty sausages from your butcher. I normally serve it with some greens – usually tenderstem broccoli, but you could indulge yourself here and serve it with some baked beans – Heinz, of course! Finally, a little treat, something that we all need as the November evenings close in, ‘Proper Hot Chocolate,’ this really is the real deal, forget those mixes you get in a tin – even the ‘quality’ ones – this recipe is one you will return to again and again!…
…Plus, there’s a new review on my Eating Out page – last week we ate out, at our local restaurant, Franklins, London SE22. We have been eating at this restaurant since it first opened, around 20 years ago, so it must be doing something right!…
Chicken, Sausage and Apple Cider Stew (Serves 6)
This is a lovely, warming winter meal. It is also great reheated the next day for a quick lunch! You could serve this with potatoes, mashed or jackets, and some green beans (side dish recipes here).
8 chicken thighs, skinless & boneless, cut into large chunks
8 pork sausages
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks (about 700g)
1 large onion, chopped
20g sage leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon plain flour (gluten free is required)
500ml dry cider
200ml chicken stock
Sea salt and black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan/ casserole and brown the chicken pieces in batches, adding more oil if required.
- Set the chicken aside and brown the sausages in the same pan, and place aside with the chicken.
- If there is a lot of oil left in the pan, discard it, leaving about a tablespoon. Brown the butternut squash for about 2 minutes and set aside.
- Add a little more oil to the pan, add the onions and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
- Add half the sage and all of the fennel seeds, cook for a further 2 minutes and then add the flour stirring, cook for a further minute or so then add the cider and stock, whisking to prevent lumps. Bring to the boil.
- Return the chicken, sausages and butternut squash to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes until everything is cooked through.
- Finally stir in the remaining sage, and check the seasoning. This stew is a meal in itself, however if you’re really hungry it would be good served with potatoes, mashed or jackets and some green beans.
Super Simple Sausages with Roasted Potato & Onion Wedges (Serves 4)
This is a great midweek supper, it’s more or less a matter of putting the ingredients in a roasting pan and leaving the oven to do its work!
900g large potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 – 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 red onions, peeled and each cut into eight wedges
Sea salt and black pepper
- Put the potatoes in a roasting tin drizzle over the olive oil and turn to coat, seasoning with salt and pepper. Place the rosemary on top. Place in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 20 minutes.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven and add the onion wedges, toss with the potatoes so that they get a good coating of olive oil. Then put the sausages in between the potatoes and onions. Return to the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
- Serve with tenderstem broccoli or baked beans (Heinz!), and a dollop of tomato ketchup and mustard!
‘Proper’ Homemade Hot Chocolate (Serves 2)
This is seriously the best hot chocolate you will ever have – it is a ‘hug in a mug’!!…I warn you it is rich and indulgent, but hey, we all deserve a treat now and again. I would definitely serve it with a little whipped cream if you have some!
See the video of this Hot Chocolate being made here!
300ml full fat milk
125g dark chocolate (I use Lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate), roughly chopped
3 teaspoons good quality cocoa (I use Green & Blacks)
Pinch of salt
2 – 3 drops vanilla extract
Whipped cream to serve (optional)
- Put the milk in a saucepan and bring just to boiling point.
- Remove from the heat and stir in all the ingredients until melted.
- Return to the heat, whisk vigorously until it returns to a gentle simmer.
- Pour into mugs and if using add a dollop of whipped cream!