Week Twenty Nine

Happy New Year and a very warm welcome to 2021!…

Are we all stuffed with food from our festive treats?!…I know I am, although I fear that I may have stretched my stomach, as I am still feeling hungry!..

Well, with the arrival of the new year I have been thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I must admit I’m not really one to make resolutions, but this year I have a definite plan…

Before Christmas I watched David Attenborough’s ‘A Life On Our Planet’(on Netflix), I must say that it had quite an effect on me. I am, like all of us, aware of our need to be more environmentally friendly, but I will be the first to admit that sometimes I am not quite as good as I could be. However, this new programme by David Attenborough really shook me as it visually showed how, if we don’t try and change our ways, we could get to the point of no return. I must admit that it was not an easy programme to watch, but thankfully, at the end of it, Mr Attenborough did demonstrate what can be done to help our planet and its future. After watching it, there are definitely things that I will be taking even more seriously than before. One will be my use of palm oil – I have consciously started to take notice of listed ingredients to ensure that it is not included, I am also more acutely aware of the importance to put pressure on world powers to support sustained fishing and greener energy. The programme also highlighted the dangers of factory farming, I am fortunate that I can afford to buy organic produce which is sustainably produced, and so I can award myself ‘brownie points’ on this front. However, I am acutely aware that I probably eat too much meat…which brings me to my New Year’s resolution!…

Although I always buy my meat from a local butcher that prides itself on selling sustainable produce from farms which rear free-range animals, I think that I should still cut back a little on my meat consumption – my little gift to the universe(!). So, I have decided to eat at least two vegetarian meals a week – OK, I admit, it’s not a groundbreaking change, but for me, someone who is an all-out meat lover, it is a significant start! Alongside my little mission, I will also start to share a vegetarian recipe every time I post new recipes on Menu Mistress. I know that this will please a lot of you who are already very partial to vegetarian meals!

Therefore, naturally, this week, one of the recipes I am sharing is a vegetarian dish…Menu One is ‘Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Crispy Sage’, it is a very delicious recipe; the sweetness of the butternut squash is wonderfully cut with the addition of crispy, fried sage leaves and chopped hazelnuts. Menu Two is ‘Pea and Ham Soup’, a lovely light supper dish which I think most of us will welcome after the rich festive menus which we have enjoyed recently (and it’s super quick!). Menu Three is another refreshing dish, a very delicately spiced curry, ‘Home Style Chicken’.

Also this week…

Menu Music… I’ve been welcoming the new year into my kitchen with a new playlist, a chilled feel-good mix, including tracks from John Legend, Stevie Wonder and Mary J.BligeMusic to Cook To…MenuMusic Seven… Bring a bit of ‘new year’ life to your kitchen with these tunes!

Also, check out my Eating Out page!…As you may remember, before Christmas, I managed to get away for a few days to the Yorkshire Dales, in addition to some beautiful walks I enjoyed eating out at some great restaurants –  I have just added a new review of the Blue Lion, East Whitton.

Finally, a note to you all about a small change at Menu Mistress…

Since I started Menu Mistress six months ago, I have been posting three or four recipes every week. I now feel that I have created an extensive library of recipes, so rather than swamping you with too many recipes, I have decided to post two or three savoury dishes every two weeks on a Wednesday, and then, on the alternate Tuesday, I will post a dessert or cake recipe – a ‘Tuesday Treat’. Those of you who are already signed up to receive notifications of new posts will continue to get them – if you haven’t already signed up for them, you can do so on the link at the bottom of this page – just scroll down – in this way you’ll never miss a new recipe!!…

Menu One

Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Crispy Sage (Serves 4)

This is a relatively quick pasta dish, comforting and tasty. The crispy sage leaves really lift the dish. This recipe is from Marcus Wareing’s Cookbook, ‘New Classics’.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 600g)

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

½ nutmeg, grated

75g butter

80g blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped

20 sage leaves

350g tagliatelle pasta

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Put the diced butternut squash in a saucepan and cover with cold water, add a generous pinch of salt, the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender. Strain off the water and remove the herbs.
  2. Add the nutmeg and 25g of the butter and lightly mash the squash, seasoning to taste.
  3. Heat the remaining 50g of butter in a large frying pan. When foaming add the hazelnuts and sage. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5-8 minutes until golden and crispy, and the butter has browned.
  4. Cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and mix with most of the hazelnut and sage butter.
  5. Gently stir through the mashed squash and serve, topped with the remaining hazelnut and sage butter.

Menu Two

Pea and Ham Soup (Serves 4)

This is a recipe from Simon Hopkinson’s wonderful cookbook, ‘Roast Chicken and Other Stories: Second Helpings’. It’s name caught my eye – ‘Almost Instant Pea and Ham Soup’ – yes, those words, ‘almost instant’, perfect for a midweek meal!…So, I had to try it to see if it could pass the taste test, and indeed it did – it really is very flavoursome! Served with some warm crusty bread or gluten free Oat Bread (recipe here), it really makes a comforting midweek supper.

1 large onion, chopped

75g butter

2 Little Gem lettuces, shredded

2 cans, average size 350g, of quality French peas (look for ‘à l’étuvée’ on the label)

750ml chicken stock

Several mint and tarragon leaves

150ml whipping cream

5-6 slices of prosciutto

Sea salt and pepper

  1. First put your prosciutto slices on a baking tray and bake in the oven, 160’c,  for about 20 minutes (keep an eye on them!).
  2. Meanwhile melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onion until softened. Add the lettuce, stir, then add the peas with their juice and then add the stock. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that comes to the surface.
  3. Season lightly and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Liquidise with the mint and tarragon leaves until smooth, you could use a food processor or handheld blender for this.
  5. Pass through a sieve.
  6. Reheat, stirring in the cream. Check the seasoning.
  7. Serve with the bits of prosciutto broken up over the surface.

Menu Three

Home-Style Chicken Curry (Serves 4)

This is a simple, very mild, curry recipe which is quite dry in consistency but very tasty – adding ginger at the end of cooking really lifts the flavour. I found this recipe in the cookbook, ‘Cook; A Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, this particular recipe is from Michelin starred Indian chef Atul Kochhar. I have been making it for years – it’s an easy midweek meal which also reheats well. Serve with plain white rice.

For the Pounded Spices:

4 green cardamom pods

2.5 cm cinnamon stick

10-12 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 cloves

Other Ingredients:

3 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 bay leaf

250g onions, sliced

½ teaspoon garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt to taste

100g tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon tomato purée

600g chicken breast, cut into 2.5cm dice

½ teaspoon garam marsala

2 teaspoons coriander leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped

  1. First of all pound the ‘pounded spices’ together in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the pounded spices and the bay leaf, stirring until the spices crackle and start to change colour.
  3. Add the onions and sauté until they are golden brown, then add the crushed garlic. Stir continuously, continue to cook for about 30 seconds and then add the red chilli, coriander and turmeric powders. Mix quickly without letting the spices burn. Add the salt, tomatoes and tomato purée and cook over a low heat, stirring.
  4. When the tomatoes are starting to melt to form a sauce add the chicken and cook over a low heat for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked. Sprinkle over the garam marsala and simmer to finish cooking.
  5. Finally add the coriander and sprinkle over the ginger.
  6. Serve with white rice.

2 thoughts on “Week Twenty Nine

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