Week Fifty One

With the arrival of November, there can be no denying that we are in the midst of autumn. Although the mornings and evenings are darker, I think most of us appreciate the clear, bright skies we often get at this time of year, which along with the beautiful gold and red of the leaves falling from the trees make it a rather special time of year. I have been trying to embrace this autumnal beauty, but unfortunately, with the drop in temperature, it seems that the ‘common cold’, is doing the rounds in my area, so I’ve also been busy fending it off (and doing lateral flow tests!). We’ve all been there…that horrible feeling of the beginning of a cold – an itchy nose, dry throat and that general malaise when all we want to do is snuggle up on the sofa with either a good book or a film, but then there’s dinner to cook! So, with this in mind, I thought that this week I would share some recipes which are not only comforting and warming but also super quick and easy, so if you do have that ‘coldy’ feeling, you’ll have a quick dinner option and still have time to snuggle up on the sofa!… Menu One is ‘Chicken Open-Pot Roast’, it’s one of those recipes that I turn to time and time again when I want a quick, hands-free supper. You don’t need any accompaniments – it’s all in the pot! Menu Two is ‘Casserole of Lamb & Pomegranate Molasses’, the secret to the wonderful flavour of this casserole is the addition of the pomegranate molasses, their tangy sweetness really adds incredible depth to the dish – it’s the perfect meal when you’re feeling under the weather! Finally, Menu Three is ‘Garlic Mushroom Linguine’, there’s not much to this recipe, yet it always pleases, what’s not to like – mushrooms and garlic are a match made in heaven and it will be on the table in 15 minutes!…

To suit my mood, the music in my kitchen has been pretty relaxed. One of my favourite albums of all time is Carol King’s ‘Tapestry’, it always lifts my spirits and I often turn to it when I’m feeling under the weather. So, my newest playlist features a few tracks from this album; ‘Music to Cook to….MenuMusic Sixteen’ starts with some upbeat songs then slips into some mellower music – it’s a little like my energy levels at the moment!…listen to it here – Enjoy!

Have a good week, see you next week for my Tuesday Treat!…

Menu One

Chicken Open-Pot Roast (Serves 4)

This is one of those recipes that I turn to time and time again when I want a quick, hands-free supper. You don’t need any accompaniments – it’s all in the pot! By keeping the lid off the pot the skin of the chicken becomes beautifully crisp and golden. This recipe is taken from Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Easy Meals’!

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 chicken jointed or 6-8 chicken thighs with skin

450g new potatoes, unpeeled, halved if large

2 small leeks or 1 large leek, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths

250ml chicken stock

1 sprig of tarragon, plus 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Put the olive oil in a casserole over a high heat, then season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place skin side down in the hot oil. Cook for about 5 minutes or so until a deep golden brown (you may find it easier to do this in batches). Flip over and quickly sear the underside before removing to a plate.
  2. Add the potatoes and leeks to the casserole, stir around in the hot fat for a couple of minutes before returning the chicken, skin side up.
  3. Pour in the stock and add the sprig of tarragon. Bring to the boil, then place the casserole, uncovered, in a preheated oven, 200’c fan. Cook for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.
  4. Remove from the oven and stir in the chopped tarragon, Dijon mustard and lemon juice (to taste) and serve immediately.

Menu Two

Casserole of Lamb & Pomegranate Molasses (Serves 4)

This is my new favourite casserole, taken from my new favourite cookbook (yes, another!!), ‘French Countryside Cooking’ by Daniel Galmiche. The secret to the wonderful flavour of this casserole is the addition of the pomegranate molasses, their tangy sweetness really adds incredible depth to the dish. This recipe is quick enough to cook midweek for the family but special enough to serve to guests – a great dish to have up your sleeve! It is delicious served with ‘Creamy Garlic Mashed Potato’ (recipe below).

20g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 kg boneless shoulder or neck of lamb cut into large cubes

500ml lamb or chicken stock

1 sprig of rosemary

1 handful of good-quality stoned black olives

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5-8 minutes until soft but not coloured.
  2. Turn up the heat to high, add the lamb and sauté for 12-15 minutes until golden brown on all sides. Add the stock and rosemary and bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid without closing it completely (a little gap will allow the condensation to escape so that not too much liquid is produced) and simmer over a gentle heat for 1¾ hours, making sure that the liquid is barely simmering rather than bubbling.
  3. Check that the lamb is tender and that the liquid is reduced by half, no more, (if not continue to cook for a further 15 minutes). Add the olives and pomegranate molasses and cook gently for a further 10 minutes until the sauce is lovely and shiny. Finally, add the lemon zest to taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with ‘Creamy Garlic Mashed Potato’ (recipe below).

‘Staple Side Dish’ – Creamy Garlic Mashed Potato (Serves 4)

In this recipe, I have simply added an extra garlic clove to my ‘Favourite’ Mashed Potato recipe to enhance the flavour of the garlic

1kg potatoes (floury, such as Maris Piper)

100ml full-fat milk

100ml double cream

3 garlic cloves, sliced

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into even sized chunks. Steam until completely cooked through.
  2. Put the milk, cream and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat.
  3. Mash the potatoes, adding the milk mixture a little at a time. Season well with salt and pepper.

Menu Three

Garlic Mushroom Linguine (Serves 4)

There’s not much to this recipe, yet it always pleases, what’s not to like – mushrooms and garlic are a match made in heaven!…I particularly like this recipe with chopped tarragon, but if you can’t get hold of it, chopped parsley also works well.

400g linguine or spaghetti (gluten free if required)

50g butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

500g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced

Juice of ½ lemon

20g fresh tarragon (or parsley), chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic for a minute or so. Add the mushrooms with the lemon juice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice until tender. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the drained pasta to the pan with the mushrooms, adding the chopped tarragon (or parsley), toss well and serve with the grated Parmesan.

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