Let’s Start Cooking!…
Welcome to Menu Mistress…
I love cookbooks and have an extensive collection! The idea of Menu Mistress is to share recipes from these books, that I have tried and tested. All you have to do is add the ingredients to your shopping list and follow the recipes, thus injecting some fresh flavours into your home cooking. This blog is essentially for people who love food but don’t have the time, energy or patience to find that winning recipe – that’s the job of Menu Mistress!…
(Recipes are updated every two weeks on a Wednesday, with an extra ‘Tuesday Treat’ on alternate weeks – sign up at the bottom of the page to receive a weekly reminder!)
Week Forty Nine: Wednesday 13th October 2021
Although the clocks don’t go back until the end of the month, it does feel as if the nights are drawing in and despite the unseasonably mild weather we’re enjoying this week I think that the autumnal chill is heading our way! On the upside we can start getting cosy, I’m already enjoying rediscovering my winter wardrobe (plus buying a few new things to update it!) and, of course, I’ve been enjoying planning some comforting dishes for MenuMistress. One dish I have been thinking of is chilli, what better dish to warm us up on an autumnal evening than a comforting bowl of chilli? Excuse the pun, but this dish is without doubt designed to chase away any ‘chills’! I wanted to share a ‘proper’ American style chilli – the kind you can imagine cowboys eating around a campfire on a cold night under the stars – so I returned to a favourite American cookbook of mine, ‘Five Marys’ Ranch Raised’ by Mary Heffernan. Her ‘Cowboy Chilli’ is the real deal, particularly when served with cornbread. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it makes a large portion (enough for 6-8), so there are leftovers which can be frozen for another day or, even better, used to make another authentic American recipe – ‘Chilli Mac & Cheese’. So, unusually this week, both Menu One, ‘Cowboy Chilli with Cornbread & Honey Butter’ and Menu Two, ‘Leftover Chilli Mac & Cheese’, are from the same cookbook. As both of these menus are rather meaty and on the heavy side, I thought that I would also share a vegetarian recipe. Menu Three is ‘New Potato, Chard and Coconut Curry’, the potatoes in this curry make it a substantial midweek meal, and of course, the spices make it very tasty and warming!…
Hopefully, these recipes will bring some warmth to your week, and help make you and your family feel a little ‘cosier’!…See you next week for my ‘Tuesday Treat’…
Also…I’ve been settling into the autumn with some old, favourite tunes; Music to Cook to…MenuMusic Fifteen is a mix of retro funk. When I was a ‘young, bright thing’ back in the 90’s these were some of my favourite tracks, they still sound fresh today and are perfect to cook along to!…(Listen to them here!)
Click here to go straight to this weeks Recipes
Tunes to Cook to….what I’ve been listening to in my kitchen!….Click on this link to listen to my playlists (listen without judgement – it’s just a bit of fun!)
Any feedback, or recipe ideas? Feel free to contact me!…or leave your comments at the very bottom of this page.
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A little bit of housekeeping…
To find all the recipes from my blogs go to the Recipes page, where there is a link to print them off.
Oven Settings – All my recipes presume that you are cooking with a fan oven, increase the temperature by 20’c for conventional ovens without a fan.
‘Staple Side Dishes’ – when you see this beside a recipe, it indicates that I have previously published this side dish on Menu Mistress. I have re-published it so that you don’t have to trawl through my old recipe blogs to find it – Menu Mistress is about making your life in the kitchen easier!
Gluten Free – I am gluten free, so most of my recipes are gluten free, although I must stress that if you have an allergy please double check all ingredients. If flour is used you can substitute it with gluten free flour and likewise with other ingredients such as pasta or soy sauce, you can use gluten free options.
Most of the recipes on Menu Mistress are courtesy of the creativity of cookery book writers, old and new. The recipes are an ‘amuse-bouche’ for those available in the books. Please go to my Cookbooks page for more information.
Cowboy Chilli (Serves 6-8)
This Chilli is the real deal, a proper American chilli from a favourite cookbook of mine, ‘Five Marys Ranch Raised’ by Mary Heffernan. I recommend you serve it with ‘Cornbread & Honey Butter’ (recipe below) plus toppings of sour cream, grated cheddar and sliced spring onions…and perhaps some guacamole! The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it makes a large portion (enough for 6-8), so there are leftovers which can be frozen for another day or, even better, used to make another authentic American recipe – ‘Chilli Mac and Cheese’ (recipe below!)…
(I use a mild chilli powder as I prefer a milder flavour, but if you like more heat use a hotter chilli powder!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
900g beef mince
25g chilli powder (see note above)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne
400g tin pinto beans, rinsed and drained
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Sea salt and black pepper
Mild cheddar cheese, grated
A few spring onions, sliced
Cornbread with Honey Butter (recipe below)
Guacamole (recipe below)
- In a large casserole pot heat the oil. Add the onion, peppers and a pinch of salt, cook over a medium heat, stirring until the vegetables soften and start to brown – about 8 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, add the beef and cook stirring until it is just browned – about 5 minutes.
- Add all the spices, plus a teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and stir until well combined.
- Add the beans, passata and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then reduce the temperature to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the chilli is thick and rich – about 1 hour (if it gets too thick you can add a little water).
- Serve bowlfuls of chilli topped with sour cream, grated cheddar and spring onions plus cornbread and/or guacamole on the side (recipes below).
Cornbread with Honey Butter
This is the best!… It is great served with ‘Cowboy Chilli’ (recipe above), but in all honesty it’s a good stand-alone dish…cornbread with honey butter for breakfast is a great start to the day – believe me!…
For the Honey Butter
110g unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the Cornbread
110g plain flour (gluten free if required)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
200ml whole milk
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
*9-10 inch round baking dish/tin, greased.
- To make the honey butter, put the butter, honey and salt in a small bowl and smash together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for a least 30 minutes before using.
- To make the cornbread, in a large bowl, mix together the polenta, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter, add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Stir until just combined and pour into the prepared tin.
- Bake the cornbread in a preheated oven, 220’c fan, until the top is lightly golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean – about 17 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving with the honey butter.
‘Staple Side Dish’ – Guacamole
I’ve tried a few recipes for guacamole over the years, some have the addition of garlic and tomatoes, but I always return to this easy recipe from Sally Clarke – the flavours are simple so don’t overpower the avocado.
3 ripe avocados, peeled
Juice of 3 large limes
1-2 small chillies, very finely chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves
- With a fork, mash the avocados in a bowl until almost smooth – a few lumps are fine.
- Stir in the lime juice and add the chillies and salt. Stir in the coriander and adjust to taste by adding more chillies, lime juice or salt.
Leftover Chilli Mac & Cheese (Serves 4-6)
Another favourite recipe from Mary Heffernan’s cookbook ‘Five Mary’s Ranch Raised’. It’s worth making the ‘Cowboy Chilli’ (recipe above) just so that you have the leftovers to make this recipe! It’s a real crowd-pleaser, feel free to add some sautéed mushrooms, peas or blanched broccoli into the mac and cheese before baking if you want a more veggie-based version.
450g macaroni or penne pasta (gluten free if required)
75g unsalted butter
40g plain flour (gluten free if required)
700ml whole milk
225g mild cheddar
About 900g leftover ‘Cowboy Chilli’, warmed (recipe above)
Sea salt and black pepper
*9×13 inch (or similar size) baking dish, greased
- Cook the macaroni or penne according to the packet instructions until just al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven, so it is best to have it slightly underdone). Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over a medium-low heat. Sprinkle over the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes until it is slightly thickened, then slowly add the cheese, whisking until smooth. Season with salt and pepper
- Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce, stir until well combined.
- Spread the warm chilli in an even layer over the baking dish, then top with the mac and cheese. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for about 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned around the edges. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.
New Potato, Chard & Coconut Curry (Serves 4)
This curry has a lovely soothing, spiced coconut sauce – it’s a real comfort food dish, a perfect dish to restore you and yours midweek! The recipe is from Meera Sodha’s fantastic cookbook ‘East’.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic
2.5cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
30g desiccated coconut
400ml tin coconut milk
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
600g new potatoes, halved lengthways (there is no need to peel them)
1½ teaspoons garam marsala
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
200g rainbow chard, stems chopped and leaves shredded
250g frozen peas, defrosted
Basmati rice and chutneys to serve.
- Put the cumin, garlic, ginger, chillies and desiccated coconut in a blender with just enough coconut milk to blitz everything to a smooth paste. Then add the rest of the coconut milk, mix gently to form a sauce like consistency – only lightly pulse the mixture otherwise is might split!
- In a frying pan with a lid, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the potatoes cut side down and fry for around 15 minutes until they are lightly golden brown and the onions are soft, dark and sticky.
- Stir in the garam marsala, turmeric and salt, then add the coconut sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chard stems, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Finally add the chard leaves and peas, cover again and cook for 5-10 minutes until the chard stems, peas and potatoes are tender and the leaves have wilted.
- Serve with basmati rice and some chutneys on the side.
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