Let’s Start Cooking!…
(All Recipes have Gluten-Free Options)
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 week – sign up at the bottom of this page to receive a weekly reminder!)
White Negroni Twist (Serves 1)
I recently discovered this cocktail whilst eating at my local Italian, Maremma (review here!). I’m not normally keen on the bitterness of a Negroni but this ‘White Negroni Twist’ has sweeter, subtler flavours. Apart from gin, it is made from Quaglia Liquore Chinotto which has a spicy sweet, sour flavour and Cocchi Americano which is an Italian aromatised wine (both can be bought at amazon.co.uk). It’s worth splashing out on these ingredients for a truly sophisticated cocktail!…
2 tablespoons gin
2 tablespoons Quaglia Liquore Chinotto
1½ tablespoons Cocchi Americano
A twist of orange (optional)
- Fill a glass with ice and pour over the ingredients, stir well, and top with a twist of orange peel to serve – how simple is that?!
‘Blast From the Past Recipe‘
Pot Roast Chicken with Figs (Serves 4-6)
This is the perfect autumnal roast, so I thought I should remind you of it – I first shared it in September 2020, so it may have slipped your mind!…
I love pot roasting chicken as once in the oven it just looks after itself. It is less fatty and messy to cook than a traditional roast, plus the juices caught in the bottom of the pot create a lovely sauce and the chicken comes out perfectly moist! This recipe with the figs is rather luxurious, and naturally very tasty. Any leftover figs are great the next day cold (and sticky!) with prosciutto or other cold meats – what a beautiful lunch!! I found this recipe in Diana Henry’s wonderful cookbook ‘A Bird in the Hand’, which concentrates purely on chicken recipes – it is a very comforting cookbook. I like to serve this dish with either Perfect Roast Potatoes or Concetta’s Potatoes (recipes here)
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Armagnac
125ml dry white wine
125ml chicken stock
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
12 -18 figs, stalks snipped, halved
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
20g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Sea salt and black pepper
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper, heat the oil in a large casserole dish (with a lid) and brown the chicken all over.
- Pour off most of the fat and fry the onion until soft and golden.
- Deglaze the pan with the Armagnac, scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove all the sticky bits, then add the wine, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Season with black pepper.
- Return the chicken and any juices that have run out of it. Cover, put in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 70 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for another 20 minutes. Baste every so often
- Remove the Chicken from the pan and keep warm. Skim off the fat from the cooking juices and strain into a frying pan. Boil to reduce them, until they become slightly syrupy.
- Reduce the heat and add the figs, vinegar and honey. Cook for about 4 minutes.
- Remove the figs with a slotted spoon and whisk in the cubed butter to make a rich and shiny sauce.
- Serve the Chicken, either whole or jointed, on a warm platter with the figs surrounding it and the sauce in a jug on the side
Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream (No-Churn)
I’ve been rather spoilt lately as whilst holidaying in Italy I’ve been enjoying the ‘gelato’ – probably a little too much! Back in the UK I find that the next best thing is homemade no-churn ice cream. This Salted Caramel Bourbon flavour is my new favourite – Nigella Lawson deserves a round of applause for this recipe! It really is one of the best flavours I’ve come across. The Bourbon not only gives it a wonderful taste but makes it incredibly soft. Meanwhile, by using ‘Carnation Caramel’ rather than natural condensed milk you get the additional flavour of caramel, plus there is that extra pinch of salt – all in all, it’s heavenly! And it’s so easy to make…what are you waiting for?!…
(Go to my Desserts Page for Salted Honey Ice Cream, Coffee & Cardamom Ice Cream and Strawberry Ice Cream – these are also easy, no-churn recipes!)
397g can of Carnation Caramel (or dulce de leche)
300ml double cream
1-2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2-3 tablespoons Bourbon
Pecan nuts, chopped to serve
- Scrape the caramel condensed milk into a large bowl, add the cream and 1 teaspoon salt. Using an electric hand whisk, whisk until it becomes thick.
- Taste to see if it needs more salt, I usually find 1 teaspoon is about right. Then gradually whisk in the Bourbon, taste again to check how much you want – I find 3 tablespoons is good. It will now be thick but floppy, rather like thick melted ice cream.
- Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container and to stop ice crystals forming, cover the mixture with a sheet of greaseproof paper before putting the lid on.
- Freeze for 6-8 hours or overnight. The ice cream will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Scoop to serve and sprinkle with some chopped pecan nuts.
Well, summer is coming to a close; I will be sorry to say goodbye to August as I’ve so very much enjoyed it! We’ve been holidaying in Italy and although I’ve been away from my kitchen I’ve still been thinking about food on a daily basis; we’ve been eating out a lot – when in Italy how can you not?! I’ve also been reading about food. I must admit to packing too many books in my suitcase, I did have every intention of reading them all, but, you know how it is, the sun makes it seem like such hard work! However, whilst relaxing on the beach I especially loved reading ‘Midnight Chicken & Other Recipes Worth Living For’, I really felt as if I was in the kitchen with its author, Ella Risbridger. It’s a terrific memoir/ recipe book, a rare find; not only does it tear at your heart but it also inspires you to cook – quite a feat. Risbridger reminds us of why we should cook and of the solace it can offer. She writes of her life and cooking exploits with warmth and humility; it made me appreciate the pleasures of cooking and how just the simplest of recipes can raise our spirits. In my mind, there is nothing more comforting than making something from scratch and then sitting down to eat your creation (it doesn’t have to be anything fancy!). With this in mind and also with the need for an uncomplicated life, September’s recipes have been chosen for their simplicity. What a great way for us to welcome in a new month…
Menu One is ‘Spicy Beef with Coriander Relish’, this recipe from chef Bill Granger has a tangy coriander relish which lifts the steak to higher realms. Menu Two is ‘Poussin with Leek, Roast Pear & Goats Cheese’, I adore the flavours of this recipe; the sweetness of the roast pear and the tangy freshness of the goat’s cheese complement the poussin beautifully. Of course, instead of poussin, you could use a spatchcock chicken. It’s so simple to make, just pop it in the oven for about 45mins with some quartered pears and leeks, and serve scattered with soft goats cheese – that’s about it! Menu Three is ‘Sea bream with Pistachio & Herb Crust’, it’s taken from Yasmin Khan’s cookbook ‘Ripe Figs’ which takes inspiration from Eastern Mediterranean cooking. It’s incredibly easy, just mix the herb-packed salsa ingredients and serve with fried fish for a quick, extremely tasty midweek meal. Finally, Menu Four is’ Spicy Prawn & Cherry Tomato Spaghetti’, it’s one of those simple pasta sauces which is instantly gratifying; its slightly piquant flavour is cut by the sweetness bursting from the cherry tomatoes – sublime!
Now, with those recipes shared, I’m off to buy Ella Risbridger’s second book ‘The Year of Miracles’. I’m sneaking off to Italy again next week, so this book will definitely be on my packing list! Unfortunately, that means Menu Mistress will also be away next week, we will be back Tuesday 13th September with a delicious treat!….
Click here to go straight to this weeks Recipes
Music 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!)
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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 all of my recipes have gluten-free options, 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 (I use Dove’s Free From range) 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.
Spicy Beef with Coriander Relish, Mangetout & Steamed Rice (Serves 4)
This is a wonderfully fresh recipe from chef Bill Granger, the tangy coriander relish lifts the steak to higher realms. Served with mangetout and rice it makes a light yet fulfilling supper.
For the Steaks:
4 x 200g sirloin steaks
80ml rice wine or dry sherry
60ml oyster sauce (gluten-free if required)
60ml light soy sauce (gluten-free if required)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the Coriander Relish:
50g coriander, chopped
60ml vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 large red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil in a large bowl, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the steaks, gently turning in the marinade, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours or more, bringing back to room temperature before cooking.
- Meanwhile prepare the coriander relish by simply placing the ingredients in a small bowl and stirring to combine.
- To prepare the mangetout blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then plunge into cold water and drain. Steam the rice according to the packet instructions.
- When you are ready to cook the steaks, heat a frying pan until very hot. Place the steaks in the pan and cook for about 1½ minutes of each side for rare or a little longer depending on your taste. I also like to turn the steaks on their ‘fat’ edge, for 30 seconds to crisp it up.
- Remove the steaks to a plate to rest for 5 minutes. Slice each steak into 1 cm slices, top with a little relish and serve with the mangetout, steamed rice and more coriander relish on the side.
Poussin with Leek, Roast Pear & Goats Cheese (Serves 4)
I adore the flavours of this recipe, the sweetness of the roast pear and the tangy freshness of the goats cheese complement the poussin beautifully. Of course, instead of poussin you could use a spatchcock chicken – it may need 5-10 minutes more in the oven, but the leeks and pears will be fine. This recipe is taken from ‘Leiths How to Cook’ – a classic cookbook!
If you get your poussin from your butcher, ask him to spatchcock them for you, alternatively it is very easy to do yourself…
How to Spatchcock a Poussin or Chicken:
On the backside of the poussin/chicken, using a pair of strong kitchen scissors, cut along either side of the back bone to remove it, then flip the poussin/ chicken over and press down very firmly on its breast bones, it will give a satisfying crack as it flattens!
Click here to watch the video on me spatchcocking a chicken on my Instagram Page!
For the Chicken:
2 poussin, spatchcocked (or 1 small spatchcocked chicken – see note above)
3 firm pears
2 small leeks
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons white wine
100g soft goats cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Place the poussin (or chicken) in a shallow roasting tin.
- Quarter and core the pears, there is no need to peel them. Wash and trim the leeks and cut on the diagonal into 2cm slices. Place the pears and leeks around the poussin. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and scatter over the garlic, mustard seeds and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 35-40 minutes, turning the pears and leeks from time to time to ensure even browning, until the poussin are cooked and the pears and leeks are caramelised and tender.
- Place the watercress in a bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle over with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to mix, then arrange on plates.
- Once the poussin are cooked transfer to a plate with the pears and leeks to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile pour off any fat from the juices in the roasting tin, add the wine and some salt and pepper, and bring quickly to the boil.
- Carve the poussin, place on the plates with the watercress and the pears and leeks. Dress with the pan juices. Pull the goats cheese into pieces and scatter over to serve.
Sea Bream with Pistachio & Herb Crust (Serves 4)
In her cookbook ‘Ripe Figs’, Yasmin Khan shares recipes from the Eastern Mediterranean; I particularly like this Turkish recipe for sea bream. It’s incredibly easy to make the herb-packed salsa for a quick, but incredibly tasty midweek meal. Simply serve with a good green salad and steamed new potatoes.
For the Salsa:
60g shelled, unsalted pistachios
4 handfuls parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 handfuls dill, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
4 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons small capers, drained and rinsed
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
For the Fish:
4 -6 sea bream fillets (depending on the size of the fish)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons plain flour (gluten-free if required)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Use a mortar and pestle to pound the pistachios until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Transfer the pistachios to a small bowl and add the remaining salsa ingredients with ¼ teaspoon salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well to ensure the herbs and nuts are evenly coated with the dressing, then set aside for the flavours to infuse.
- Pat the sea bream dry on kitchen paper, season with salt and pepper before rubbing the cumin lightly into the fish’s flesh. Dust the fish with flour, evenly coating it on both sides.
- Cook the sea bream in batches; heat some of the vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, when the oil is hot place the sea bream, skin side down in the pan. Fry for 4 minutes then flip it over and cook for a further 30 seconds. Transfer to kitchen paper to soak up the oil. Repeat adding more vegetable oil to the pan when needed.
- Serve the sea bream topped with the pistachio salsa.
Spicy Prawn & Cherry Tomato Spaghetti (Serves 4)
This is one of those easy pasta sauces which is instantly gratifying; its slightly piquant flavour is cut by the sweetness bursting from the cherry tomatoes – sublime!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
400g peeled raw king prawns, defrosted if frozen
800g cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
100ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
400g spaghetti (gluten-free if required)
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Pat the prawns dry on kitchen roll and season with salt. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Remove the prawns to a plate and set aside.
- Tip the tomatoes, garlic and chilli into the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until the tomatoes are lightly charred and beginning to burst. Pour in the wine and cook for a further minute.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, cook the pasta until al dente, according to the packet instructions. Drain, saving a tablespoon or so of the cooking water.
- Tip the pasta into the frying pan with the tomatoes. Add the cooked prawns and toss well to combine over the heat. Add a little of the reserved cooking water and continue turning the pasta in the sauce until well coated. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.
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