My passion is for good, simple, frill free and wholesome food that tastes fantastic. It is borne out of the many times I have eaten in small village or road side restaurant in Britain, France, Spain or Italy, which look nothing from the outside, where the wall paper is peeling off the walls, where there is only one thing on the menu that day - and have ended up having something absolutely sensational to eat. I want to capture these dishes to share with people who want to recreate this experience
Great idea to plan this as part of a 3 day menu, where you have gammon on day 1, roast chicken dinner on day 2 and use the left overs to make this delicious pie on day 3. Failing that, boil 3 chicken breasts in chicken stock in a covered pan for 10 minutes and roast a joint of gammon and use what you need to for this recipe and keep the rest back for another day.
Approximately 300g of cooked chicken, skinned and cubed
Approximately 300g of cooked gammon, with surplus fat cut off and cut into cubes
2 Leeks cut into slices
1 Onion finely chopped
250ml of Chicken Stock
200ml of milk
150ml Double Cream
75g on Unsalted Butter
Half a Glass of White Wine
50g Grated Mild Cheddar
2 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed and Chopped
2 Table Spoons of Plain Flour
Puff pastry to cover the dish your pie is in
Lightly fry your leeks and onion on a low heat, using 25g of your butter. When softened, add your garlic and fry for a minute, then the wine. Increase the heat and reduce the wine down. Once the quantity of liquid has halved, reduce the heat, add the rest of the butter and once melted, add the flour. Keep stirring to form a goo, then gradually start adding and stirring in the milk a few drops at a time. Once all the milk has been added, continue to add the stock in the same way. Turn up the heat to allow to thicken. Finally add the cream and grated cheeses, stir it in then remove from the heat once the cheese has melted and let the mixture cool. When I do this, I usually do this preparation in the morning. Then I leave the mixture in the saucepan with a lid on through the day, until I am ready to do the final prep (below) before serving, as it only takes 30 minutes it can be done in tandem with mash and veg prep.
For the final stage, preheat an oven to 190 degrees C. Add the chicken, gammon and cooled mixture to an oven proof dish. Stir it all together. Cover with a puff pastry lid. Peirce with holes to let the steam out while cooking, and brush with a beaten egg to create a glaze. Place into the oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Grease the inside of an oven proof dish with a generous knob of butter, then follow up with 2 table spoons of the jam, spread all over. Butter the edges of the brioche fingers and arrange them in the dish, tightly packed together with the butter acting as a cement between each, and a sprinkling of cranberries between each layer. Sprinkle what's left over the top.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks together with the castor sugar. Once fully combined, add the milk, cream and Grand Marnier and whisk to a cream (by hand). Pour the mixture over the brioches. Press them down firmly to ensure they fully absorb it, and are submerged below the surface of it. Leave for 20 minutes to continue absorbing.
Place the dish inside a roasting tin, and pour water into the tin so it comes approximately 1/2 of the way up the sides of the dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place into an oven, preheated to 180 degrees C and bake for 45-50 minutes.
When you pull it out of the oven, glaze with the remaining apricot jam. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes.
Duck in Port and Berry Sauce with Pack Choi and Mash
Ingredients (to serve 4):
4 Greshingham Duck Breasts
70g of Dried Cherries and Berries
300ml of Port
200 ml of Chicken Stock
50g of Unsalted Butter Cut into Cubes and Softened
Small Handful of Fresh Thyme
2 Pack Choi
2 Garlic Cloves Crushed and Finely Chopped
3 Tea Spoons of Soy Sauce
4 Maris Piper Potatoes
50ml of Creme Fraiche
100ml of Milk
Before you start cooking, score slashes into the duck skin and sprinkle coarse sea salt over it and rub in. Leave to one side for 30 minutes. The pack choi will also need to be halved length ways (from top to bottom), laid in a bowl, sprinkled with the crushed garlic, the soy sauce and a drizzle of olive oil, and tossed so the whole of the greenery is covered in the garlicy, sticky mixture. Leave it to soak it up. You will also need to pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees C.
In a large pan, fry your duck breasts, skin side down over a medium heat for about 12-14 minutes. Once the fat from the skin has all rendered and the skin is left golden and crispy, turn them over to gently fry on the other side for about 2-3 minutes, then transfer into the oven for no more than 20 minutes. Unlike chicken, duck is meant to be served a bit pink in the middle so no need to leave any longer than this. Take 2 teaspoons of the duck fat and put in a separate pan to fry the Pack Choi in. Then disregard all bar 1 tablespoon full of fat which you will use to make the sauce. You don't need any more than that. In the interests of not blocking drains with fat or wasting good food in general, I recommend what you take out of the pan, you pour into a container and keep until the next time you want to make roast potatoes. Roasties cooked in duck fat are awesome!
To make the sauce, add the port to the hot duck fat on a medium heat and stir with a whisk until it deglazes. Add your thyme, cherries and berries and chicken stock, turn the heat up to bring to a bubble, stirring all the while. Once it starts bubbling add half your butter cubes (25g) and continue to stir in. When the sauce has reached it optimum temperature, it will start to thicken. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, retrieve your duck breasts and add them flesh side down, to the pan with the sauce in it. Pour any juices in there as well.
Make you mash by peeling and slicing your potatoes and boiling them in a pan with half water and half milk in it and a dash of salt. After 15-20 minutes or so, the potatoes should be soft enough for you to push a fork through without much effort. At this point, drain and mash. Add the rest of your butter, your cream and your milk and with a whisk, stir into a light, fluffy puree. Season generously with black pepper and salt.
Finally, take your marinated pack choi and fry for 2 minutes each side in the duck fat you set aside in a separate pan. Once it has started to wilt it is ready to serve up.
Make a bed with the mash, lay your duck breasts on top and a pack choi half next to it on each plate. Strain your sauce from the pan into a jug or grave boat. Finishing touch, spoon a coupe of cherries and berries onto your duck and serve. Good dinner party staple this. Simple to do but looks impressive and tastes supreme.
1 Table spoon of mild curry powder
1 Tea spoon of chili flakes
1.3 Litres of vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 Tea spoon of cumin
A pinch of paprika
A dollop of creme fraiche
Salt & pepper to season
Melt the butter in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and lightly fry for 5 minutes. Add the potato, parsnips, curry powder, cumin and chili flakes, stirring so all the vegetables are coated. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes. 5 minutes before the end seasons well. Then Blitz in a blender until smooth.
Serve with a powdering of paprika and a dollop of creme fraiche with some rustic, crusty bread. Possibly the best tasting soup in the world. It also works with pumpkin flesh if you want to substitue the parsnip. You will need about 150g of it.
Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Caramelised Red Onion Chutney
Ingredients (serves 2):
4 big, flat mushroom (preferably Portabello)
200g of Blue Cheese cut into small cubes (St Agur or Roquefort are best but I used Stilton in this one as I had some left over from Christmas)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
25g unsalted butter
20ml of cold water
1 tablespoon of crushed walnuts
2 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley
A jar of good, caramelised, red onion chutney
A salad to accompany (I used dandelion leaves, rocket, olives and capers drizzled with balsamic vinegar)
Cut your butter up into chunks (so it melts quicker), and place in a large pan (which has a lid). Turn on a medium heat. Pour in your water, and add the thyme. Place your mushrooms in flat side up (so the cup cooks first) and cook with the lid on the pan for about 10 minutes. Season well. Once they are softened and browned, turn the mushrooms over and cook (with the lid on again) for a further 2 minutes while you cut your blue cheese into chunks. Sprinkle the chunks of blue cheese into the upturned cup of the mushrooms and cover and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts (or if you prefer, you can place under a grill). Sprinkle with crushed walnuts, finely chopped parsley and a big dollop of caramelised red onion chutney. Not forgetting some of the juice from the pan.
My "Granny Caerphilly" was a prolific soup maker. And the concept of a "recipe" would have had her scratching her head, as she just used what ever was hanging around in the fridge/larder. So in other words, if there is anything in this you don't like, just substitute it for something else you do. And it'll be fine! Also, this recipe makes 3 Litres of soup. enough for 10 servings. Obviously if you don't want that much soup, reduce ingredients proportionately. However, it keeps for up to a week in the fridge and you can freeze it.
1 Carrot, peeled and sliced
1 Leek, Sliced
1 Turnip, peeled and sliced
2 Celery Stalks sliced
1 Onion, peeled and sliced
(All the above vegetables should add up to about 1kg)
1kg of Potatoes, Peeled and Sliced (or the same weight of potatoes as you have veg)
3 Litres of Vegetable or Chicken Stock
3 Bay Leaves finely chopped
The leaves from a sprig of Thyme
1/2 a handful of Parsley, finely chopped
4 Basil Leaves, finely chopped
After you've done all your peeling, slicing and chopping, put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the bottom of a pot big enough to take all this lot. Then add your vegetables and potatoes and fry them over a medium heat, stirring as you go. Once it has started to brown and soften add the 3 litres of stock (if you are using stock cubes/pots that equates to 4 dissolved in 3 Litres of boiling water) along with your fresh, chopped herbs. Cover it with a lid and bring to the boil. Then let it simmer for 20 minutes. 5 minutes before the end, season with freshly ground salt and black pepper. Finally, blitz it in a blender to your desired consistency (I like it really smooth, some prefer it more chunky - follow your preference on amount of blitzing).
Serve up with a dolop of creme fraiche and some freshly torn parsley leaves.
This is a very simple and quick recipe that makes delicious soup. It is also incredibly good for you. It contains 5 portions of veg, it is very low in both calories and fat and (thanks to the spuds) is also filling.