One pot: Part one – Sausages

I realise I have been fairly quiet for a few weeks but I hope you will agree, for good reason, as I have been developing some new recipes for the blog. As I mentioned in an earlier post I received a cast iron pot for Christmas from my future in-laws, and thought as I seem to be using it a hell of a lot that I should share some of the things that are coming out of it.

So this will be a series of three recipes all in made in under an hour in one pot, keeping the washing up down and keeping the whole family happy… I’m struggling to see a downside on this one! Unless you don’t like sausage. Then that’s a big downside.

Ingredients:

  • 8 good quality, pork sausages. (95% pork or more)
  • 1 can of Butterbeans
  •  2 red peppers, finely sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • sliced button mushrooms
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp. Worcester sauce
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • A little water (about a 1/4 of a cup)

Method:

  1. Start by putting the pot on a medium heat and adding the oil.
  2. Add the sausages in and cook for 5 minutes until browned.
  3. Remove the sausages and add the onion, garlic, peppers, sage, mushrooms, worcs. sauce and tomato puree, season well with the salt and pepper (to taste) and keep on a low heat for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the water, reintroduce the sausages and pop the butter beans in. Stir well.
  5. Put the lid on and leave to simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes. Check the pot every now and then and stir to stop any sticking or burning. Add a splash more water if really needed. (Be careful not to over do it)
  6. Serve with brown rice or potatoes and dig in!

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As you can see it is superbly easy and it is honestly really good, hearty food. One down, two more to come. The next recipe is a chilli that is packed full of veg and has heaps of everything good to keep you ticking over nicely as we start to creep towards the slightly warmer, brighter, spring months.

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Penne in smoked salmon and saffron sauce

As promised this weekend on the Facebook page, here is the rather luxurious recipe for making penne something to right home about. I am aware that penne has become something of a boring choice nowadays when you look at the volume of types of pasta that is now filling the isles of the supermarkets. I do adore this in one respect as I love Italian food, so more choice within everybody’s grasp is great. These days I tend to go for wholemeal pasta’s too as I always make sure that we are eating well throughout the week, with the exception of the odd treat. This is one of those treats.

I will admit its not one for the budget cookbook. Saffron and Smoked salmon are both not cheap ingredients, but it is well worth it!

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What you’ll need:

  • A small pinch of saffron
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150ml white wine
  • 100g smoked salmon, sliced into tiny strips.
  • 250g penne pasta (Cooked to packet instructions, retaining a little of the cooking water)
  • 50g cherry Tomatoes
  • Handful of Spinach
  • 50ml water
  • 50g butter

Method:

  1. Get the water in a glass, and sprinkle in your bit of saffron to the water. Wait for the water to turn golden.
  2. Pour the wine into a pan and simmer on a medium heat. Reduce it right down.
  3. Add the butter and tomatoes to the pan.
  4. Pour in the double cream and add the salmon. Then a quick sprinkle of salt and the saffron/water to the pan, Leaving no saffron strands behind!
  5. Continue to simmer on a medium heat and stir. The sauce will thicken and turn a golden, buttery yellow. This will become more intense as you cook it.
  6. Add the pasta and the spinach and keep on a low heat, stirring to wilt the spinach and get the pasta to bond with the sauce.

Serve with some garlic bread and make sure you serve enough for everybody. Its tempting to keep it all to yourself!

Throwback Thursday: The chilli pepper.

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The Trinidad scorpion pepper, this one is a mean customer

This is an old post from the previous blog that was very popular when I first wrote it. Thought some people might find it useful or interesting… plus its very much in the spirit of ‘#tbt’

So, the chilli pepper. One of my favourite natural ingredients (garlic being another) and usually ends up in my sauces, salads, chopped up in wraps or sandwiches or scattered over the molten cheese of a pizza. I’m getting hungry just writing this! Here’s some interesting facts about the chilli.

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  • The chili has been used in the Americas since around about 7500 BC and one of the first Europeans to experience the fiery kick of a chilli was actually Christopher Columbus.
  • They were used for medicinal purposes in Spain after they were brought back by a member of Columbus’s crew.
  • They were traded with the Portuguese and spread through colonies throughout Asia, including their introduction into Indian cuisine.
  • New variations of chilli are still being created today.

What can I do with them though?

Everybody knows you can cut them up and put them in chilli’s or curries, that’s a great application for them as they have become a staple in the countries of those dishes origin. But how about getting a little more creative with it? Try these quick little ideas sometime or simply use them to inspire your own creations. these are just a few of my favourites.

Devils grilled cheese on toast

ingredients:

  • 2 thick slices of good quality bread. (bloomer/tiger bread is good cut into slices around 2cm thick)
  • 60g strong cheddar cheese
  • 60g red Leicester cheese
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
  • 1 tea spoon of mild chilli powder
  • 2 jalapeno chilli peppers, finely chopped (keep the seeds!)
  1. Preheat the grill at a medium to high heat.
  2. Mix the tomato puree, Worcester sauce and the chilli powder well.
  3. put the bread under the grill until it starts to brown on the one side.
  4. remove the bread from the grill and evenly spread the spicy puree evenly over both slices
  5. scatter all the cheese and chopped peppers over the untoasted side of the bread, return to grill and toast until melted, then remove and enjoy!.

Habanero hot sauce

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white rice vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 habanero peppers, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • Pinch of white pepper
  1. Add the water and vinegar to a saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat.
  2. Add the sugar, garlic, peppers, ginger, paprika, white pepper and ketchup.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Strain into a serving dish to serve.

This works great for a BBQ or even a dip for a Saturday night in watching a movie or some really bad TV. Very warming on a winters eve but equally inviting in the heat of summer. perfect.

Are they good for me?

Red chilies contain large amounts of vitamin C and small amounts of carotene. Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a lower amount of both. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins. So in short, yes. they are. They are also said to kick start your metabolic rate, which could help fat burning.

Hottest chilli out there?

They’re measured by something called the scoville scale. check it out below

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Now that’s a little snippet of what the chilli is all about and how you can use it, next time you get chance jump in your kitchen and use it in something new. Throw them in an omelette or through some noodles or salad. They’re really versatile, and add a third dimension to many a dish. Don’t be scared, get cooking!

Phil

Chorizo and red wine pasta sauce

I’ve always loved a bit of pasta. It can be an easy but satisfying option on a cold winters day or a bright summers evening, whether it be for a quick dinner for one or entertaining guests, you can impress with a good, homely bowl of fussili covered in an alluring, rosy red tomato sauce with some basil leaves and a grating of parmesan. It’s heaven.

This recipe takes a basic tomato sauce and gives it a little bit of a spruce up to create something a little more warming and give you something to get your senses tingling with some great flavours and to give your insides a hug! The combination of the spicy, strong garlic punch of the chorizo and the sweetness of the wine elevate the tomatoes to another new level, providing the perfect accompaniment for a dish of pasta, gnocchi or even spread over meat or fish. I made it with some left over ingredients from the wild boar stew earlier this week.

 

So to start us off you will need;

  • 1/2 a med chorizo sausage. Diced
  • 2 sticks of celery. finely chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 of a cup red wine
  • 1 tspn  garlic granules
  • 1 tspn butter (unsalted)
  • handful of sliced black olives
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (Basil infused preferably)
  • large pinch sea salt
  • large pinch cracked black pepper
  • 200-300g pasta. I used some great little tortellini with spinach and ricotta.
  1. Boil the pasta in salted water to the pack instructions. Remove the pasta a minute or so before the instructed cooking time to maintain its al dente bite. Retain 1/4 a cup pasta cooking water.
  2. In a frying pan on a medium heat add the oil, celery and chorizo. Gently fry until the chorizo starts to go crispy.
  3. Pour in the wine and keep on the heat until it reduces by around half.
  4. Add the whole tin of tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to the pan and stir well.
  5. Still on the medium heat, cook for 4-5 minutes until the sauce emulsifies thoroughly, stirring regularly.
  6. Stir through the olives and add the butter, pasta and the reserved cooking water.
  7. Turn the heat up slightly and continue to stir the pasta into the sauce for a minute or so until the pasta is well glazed in the sauce.
  8. Serve and enjoy. Great for winter nights this one!

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Winter warmer – Wild boar sausage casserole

I tend to eat relatively healthy for the most part of the year, but when the winter slowly slides its cold, harsh, grasp around us I do crave something that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love a good soup or stew, especially when it’s on a lazy snowy weekend and its left in the slow cooker or the hob bobbing away like a tasty molten treasure chest waiting for me to discover it in all its bubbling loveliness. This time I’m using a different kind of meat, in the form of wild boar sausage, to give it a little bit of something different.

There are nearly an endless amount of possibilities when it comes down to stews and soups, you can put anything in them! Any vegetable you can think of can be paired with all sorts of meats and pulses that can create some really hearty, cockle warming fare to keep your lunches interesting throughout the week or feed the whole family on a chilly December night.

This week as always I’m bringing you a recipe that can be cooked and enjoyed by anybody. The essence of real home cooking is keeping it simple, enjoying what you’re doing and being happy with the end result when you create something fantastic! The recipe is adaptable enough, so if you fancy giving it an extra dimension drop some chopped chillies in there or add some diced chorizo for a little Spanish flare, but here’s the recipe for my ideal winter sausage casserole.

Ingredients:

  • 6 wild boar and apple sausages or good quality sausage of your choice                                                           (Try www.supremesausages.co.uk they are amazing!)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml good chicken stock
  • 150g butter beans
  • 2 medium sticks of celery (finely chopped)
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon (cut into small chunks)
  • 200g diced butternut squash
  • 1 whole diced white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp. red wine
  • 3 tbsp. Worcester sauce
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. rape seed oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp. brown sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Method:

In a large saucepan add the rapeseed oil on a medium heat and add the sausages.

Lightly fry the sausages until browned on all sides, remove the sausage and add the garlic, bacon and onions, fry until it softens, around 2-3 minutes.

  1. When the garlic becomes aromatic and the bacon starts to brown (don’t let the garlic brown, keep it moving), add the red wine, Worcester sauce, tomatoes, tomato puree, paprika, brown sugar, beans, celery, squash, seasoning and the stock and stir well.
  2. Slice the sausage into even chunks and stir back into the mixture, keep the pan on the heat and partially cover. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes stirring regularly.
  3. Serve in a bowl with some toasted crusty bread, and a good helping of rice or pasta, topped with a few sliced black olives to make this crowd pleasing dish even more pleasing. Its good for the soul in these winter months to feed yourself some simple, fantastic food that makes you smile, with minimal effort to keep you in front of the TV watching your greys anatomy box set, sitting near the fire with the dog at your feet and the rain lashing the windows outside of your house. Whether your life runs at 500 miles per hour or you just want a quick fix, the recipe is perfect for you. Hope you enjoy it!

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Changing of the seasons

It has been a while since my last proper article and I am very sorry!. Preparation for the trip to London took over my schedule in between work.

Normal service will now be resumed with plenty of things in store in the coming weeks to get your taste buds squeaking with excitement and your empty belly impatiently grumbling for your next feed. Today had a very Autumnal nip to the air and it really started to hit home that summer is fizzling out quicker than anybody would like to admit. The abrupt change in the weather shifts my focus from the bright and colourful al fresco lunches in the garden to hearty, warming soups and huge roasts with beautiful crisp root vegetables and thick, rich gravy. The conkers are preparing to drop and the leaves are slowly making the transformation from their emerald green to their rustic, golden brown and that means a change in direction for everybody interested in seasonal culinary adventure. Put the kettle on and dust off your casserole dishes. Its going to be good!.

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Autumn is a great time to break out your crock pots or slow cooker. As I always say, never be afraid to try new things, and now is as good a time as any to make a change. A great suggestion for a seasonal alternative to the norm is rabbit. There are over 40 million rabbits in United Kingdom and we seldom use them in our modern day cooking, Which is a shame as now is the perfect time to get them. It’s just after mating season has passed giving them chance to feed and recharge so they are back in prime condition around now. Don’t let the image of them being a pet put you off, they were once a staple in this country and usually at under £5 for a whole rabbit, it can really save you some money too. Ill be developing a rabbit stew recipe for you very soon.

What’s new?

This coming month (October) will be Burger month on Gecko, celebrating my amazing experience with the www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk battle of the burgers competition where, even though I didn’t win, I felt I did myself and the blog justice in showing the passion I have for cooking and food in general. It was an amazing experience where I met some incredible people and also learned a few things too from some talented cooks. I will be writing a full run down in the next 24 hours about my experience but thank you to everybody who made my presence there possible and supported me along the way.

So I hope everybody is still enjoying the last of their summer creations and prepared for all of the delights that the transformation into easily my second favourite season of the year.

Phil

Self grown greenery: A brief look.

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Lately, I have started taking an interest in the difference between eating shop bought produce and doing it at home.  My father has been doing a small scale grow every year in a greenhouse at the bottom of the garden, growing tomatoes and cucumbers mainly but sometimes making a foray into other areas like red and green chili peppers.

The cucumbers are sometimes a little hit and miss but you cant beat a tomato straight off the vine, whether it be cut up into a salad or turned into a sauce. Now this little taste of it has given me inspiration to take a lot more of an interest in the next mini crop at the end of the garden. Were in August now and coming up to the end of the summer, the tomatoes we have are about to start the end cycle of their growth and the cucumbers are nearly ready to be pulled off, so I will be planting some  late in the year seeds once the next harvest has finished. I can see a big opportunity to grow some really great herbs and veg. Garlic is something I am certainly going to try to produce as I tend to use a truck load of it, same goes for basil and coriander.

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Now why would you want to?

In the current financial climate that is referred to over and over in modern media ( I guess I’m part of that now too) its more important than ever that some people look after the money they earn each week or every first of the month. While it seems like a lot of bother to grow anything yourself it can be really rewarding and can save you money if you put it into perspective. For example; in my local supermarket a bunch of Basil is priced at around 80p, whereas a potted basil plant is £1.85. So by buying the plant (or two, like id advise and keep them in rotation) can over time, if you look after it properly, produce a constant conveyor belt of beautiful, fragrant basil for you to toss into your salads or use in your next pasta dish sitting on the windowsill in your kitchen.

Here in Britain we can never rely on the elements to help us, sometimes even our summers can be cold. Don’t leave it to chance, grab yourself a greenhouse and even heat it if your aiming for something a little more tropical. Otherwise just do your research and move with the seasons. Our green house was second hand and apart from the elbow grease to put it up and prep the area where it was going, only cost us what the seeds were to buy as we tend to move with the seasons. After the initial graft, its only a few months of care and attention and it can save you a whole heap of money. Here are just a few options of what you can use a green house to grow; Tomatoes, cucumber, oregano, basil, parsley, aubergines, chillies, various varieties of pepper, beans, peas or courgettes. And that’s just a small amount of the possibilities.

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They say food tastes better when its free, I think it tastes better when you create it yourself.