Roast Onions & Mushrooms with Polenta

Adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe in the Christmas Chronicles

Serves 2 (generously)

For the onions and mushrooms
2 medium onions (red if possible)
30ml olive oil
25g butter
6 sprigs thyme, rinsed and dried
150g mushrooms (chestnut ideally), brushed clean, halved and sliced

For the polenta
75g fine polenta (NOT quick cook variety)
250ml water
250ml milk
2 large handfuls of greens (optional) such as spinach or kale, finely sliced and rinsed
2 tbs (heaped) cream cheese
2 tbs (heaped) Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 185C fan. Peel the onions, and quarter them. Put them into a small metal roasting tin. Drizzle with the olive oil, tuck in the sprigs of thyme and dot small bits of the butter over the top. Bake for 20 mins and then baste. Cook for another 20 mins but set the timer to remember to base every 5-6 mins.

While the onions are baking, cook the polenta. You need to be able to stand and stir like a risotto for 25 mins…

Pour the water and milk into a medium sized saucepan and warm it, but don’t allow to boil (number 6 should be fine). Add a generous pinch of salt and then add the polenta while stirring continuously. If it spits remove from the heat but keep stirring. Return to the heat and keep stirring for around 20 mins.

After 20 mins, take a small frying pan and warm a slug of olive oil on 6 and fry the onions – keep stirring the polenta though! Once the polenta is smooth and doesn’t have any graininess to the texture add the greens if using and stir through, once wilted add the cream cheese and parmesan, stir and then taste and season, it probably needs a generous seasoning. Remove from the heat.

Spoon the polenta into pasta bowls, top with the mushrooms and then add the roast onions on top. Add a final grate of parmesan if you like.

Grilled Aubergine with Lentils

Adapted from Nigel Slater in Christmas Chronicles

Serves 2

2 large aubergines
3 tbs olive oil
1 lemon
1 medium white onion
2 cloves garlic
4 large sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs rosemary
150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
150g puy lentils
2 large handfulls of spinach leaves, shredded and rinsed
2 tbs double cream
Fresh parsley (enough to make about 1 tbs chopped)
2 tbs grated Parmesan

Preheat the grill on high. Wash and dry the aubergines and slice in half lengthways. Score a tight lattice pattern into the flesh without piercing the skin. Put them onto a baking sheet cut side up and rub over enough of the olive oil to cover each side (generously) and season with salt and black pepper. Halve the lemon and squeeze over the juice. Put under the grill, not too close to the top and cook until golden brown. (check after 10 mins and if brown but not soft then cover with foil and switch the grill to oven 185C and finish for another 10-15 mins).

Rinse the lentils and check for stones, then put into a pan with enough cold water to come up about 1″ over the top. Bring to a boil, put a lid on top and reduce heat to 5 and simmer until cooked (min 20 mins) keeping an eye on the water level.

While the lentils are cooking put the green Le Creuset on 6 to warm. Peel and dice the onion, add the olive oil and diced onion to the warm pan with a generous pinch of salt and stir. Cook until soft and then grate in the garlic cloves. Rinse the thyme and rosemary and remove the leaves from the stalks, finely chop the rosemary and add both to the onion mix with the mushrooms. Add some more olive oil if the pan seems dry. Leave to soften, adding the lid after a few mins and reducing the heat to 4.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, check the lentils to be sure they are cooked, drain and add to the mushroom/onion mix. Stir in the chopped spinach, stir and add the lid for a couple of mins until the leaves have wilted. Add the cream and parmesan and stir then season generously and taste. Needs to be well peppered!

Put the lentils in a pasta bowl and serve with one half of the grilled aubergine on top.

 

Quorn & Spinach Casserole

350g Quorn pieces

1 large onion roughly chopped

2 large carrots cut into cubes

1 large glass of dry white wine

2 bay leaves

1 large potato cut into small pieces

300ml boiling water

2 Kallo chicken stockcubes (or veggie)

1 dessert spoon corn flour

6 leafy stems parsley

– stems finely chopped

– leaves roughly chopped

4 large handfuls of spinach leaves, finely chopped

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Heat a tbs of olive oil in a Le Creuset casserole pan on 7. Add the quorn and brown it off, stirring from time to time, add more oil if necessary. Once brown, reduce the heat to 5 add the onions and a large pinch of salt and cook until the onions are soft.

 

Add the white wine and bay leaves, using a spoon to scape the bottom of the pan and reduce by half. Add the carrots and potato, the stock cubes and boiling water and the parsley stalks. Reduce the heat to 4, add some black pepper and cook with the lid off stirring from time to time until the potato is cooked (about 30 mins).

Mix the corn flour with a little cold water so it is runny. Pour in half to the casserole and stir well, if it is still not thick enough add the rest and stir again. Add the parsley and stir.

Add the spinach on top and cover for a couple of minutes until wilted. Stir well and check the seasoning and serve.

Goes well with roast turnips and some green veg.

Aloo Gobi – Cauliflower & Potato Curry with Chickpea Flour Pancake

Serves 4 for large mains or 8 as a side

For the curry

1 large onion roughly chopped

1 heaped tsp grated ginger 

2 cloves garlic roughly chopped

1 green chilli roughly chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes 

1 small cauliflower cut into bite size pieces

2 medium potatoes cut into small dice (bite size)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 tbs sunflower or coconut oil

1/2 tsp turmeric (or haldi)

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp garam masala

Salt and pepper

Water

Half bunch chopped coriander and yoghurt to serve

Chickpea Pancake

Serves 2 as a main

1/2 cup chickpea flour

Sunflower oil

Water

Salt and pepper

Heaped tbs chopped coriander

Method

Cook the potatoes until just tender, just before they are ready add the cauliflower for the last couple of minutes, they should be pretty crunchy still. Drain and set aside.

Heat a Le Creuset on number 6. Meanwhile put the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli in a jug and use the stick blender to make a paste or chuck it in the food processor in the smallest part and blitz. 

Add the oil to the pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds and fry until popping a little, then add the onion paste and fry for a few mins. Add the tinned tomatoes, and the powdered cumin, curry and garam masala and stir well, cook for a few mins stirring regularly. Add some water to slacken off the paste and add the potato and cauliflower to the pan. Stir and turn the heat down to 4 maybe 3, it should just be gently cooking, not boiling.

Heat a large black frying pan on 7. Put the chickpea flour in a medium bowl and add about 1/4 cup water and stir well with a fork to make a smooth paste. Then add some more water you want the mix to be about the consistency of single cream/pancake batter. Add the coriander and season well. 

Add some oil to the frying pan (about 1/2 tbs) and swish around. Add the pancake mix and turn the pan so it is well distributed. Leave until you can see bubbles forming and bursting and that the bottom is brown (it will be about 4-5 mins) then flip over with a fish knife. You might need to add a little more oil…

Check the seasoning of the curry and add more garam masala if needed and some more water if it is too thick. 

Serve with the pancake cut into triangles and some yoghurt and fresh coriander on top. 

Lentil Cottage Pie

Serves 8-10

Olive oil

2 diced onions

2 carrots diced into small cubes

2 sticks celery diced into small cubes

250g dried red lentils

1 tin tomatoes or 2/3 jar passata

1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste

500ml stock (veg or chicken)

Salt and black pepper

6-8 tbs frozen peas

1Kg floury potatoes cut into roast potato size pieces

500g sweet potatoes cut into roast potato size pieces

Skimmed milk

Grated hard cheese like cheddar (optional)

Warm the olive oil in the green Le Creuset on 6 and add the onion, carrot and celery with a large pinch of salt and fry until soft. Once soft add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes (or passata) and stir well and then add the stock and lentils and stir again, turn the heat down to 5 and add the lid. Keep checking every few minutes and add more water if necessary (it can get dry).

Preheat the oven to 185C (fan) if cooking immediately.

Boil the potatoes while the sauce is cooking and drain and allow the steam to evaporate. Mash well with enough milk to make a smooth mash and season well with salt and pepper.

Check the lentils are cooked, add the frozen peas and season the mix well then smooth down. Ideally allow to cool so it forms a hard base for the mash but not essential.

Add the mash in dollops to the top and carefully smooth down and then fork over. If using the grated cheese sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 30 mins until the top is golden and allow to stand for 5 mins before serving with any green veg.

Chilli non Carne (can be made meat too)

700g Quorn mince (or 500g beef and 500g pork mince)

3 red onions (or 2 large) finely diced

2 medium carrots finely diced

2 sticks of celery finely diced

4 cloves of garlic grated/mashed

Olive oil

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground allspice

1 cinnamon stick or 1 flat tsp ground cinnamon

3 bay leaves

2 birds eye chillies finely chopped

2 dried chipotle chillies (rehydrated in some boiling water for 10 mins and finely chopped)

3 tbs cider vinegar

2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes

2 tbs ketchup

1 heaped tbs dark brown sugar

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans

To serve

Chopped fresh coriander

Finely sliced radishes 

Creme fraiche

Rice/jacket potato/cauliflower rice/roast squash

Hydrate the chipotle and set aside. Fry the Quorn on medium/high heat (6-7) until browned in a good slug of olive oil in a Le Creuset pan. Add the onion, celery and carrot and a pinch of salt and some more oil if needed and fry until soft then add the garlic, spices, and  chillies and stir and cook for a couple of mins. 

Add the tomatoes and swill out each tin filled with about 1/3 cold water into the chilli. Add all the other ingredients EXCEPT the kidney beans and cook on a low heat for a couple of hours ideally. If in a rush go number 5 for 30 mins, stirring regularly, add more water if necessary. Add the kidney beans about half an hour before you want to eat. 

Serve with the fresh coriander, radish and creme fraiche on top.

Kale Pesto

2.5 cups of kale (no stalks)

0.5 cup olive oil (good quality)

0.25 cup either toasted pine nuts or almonds

juice one large lemon

1 tsp Maldon salt

Put everything except the nuts in the food processor and blitz, scrape down the sides and repeat. Add the nuts and blits until broken up but not totally smooth. 

Check the salt.

Done

Roast Chicken with Feta, Olives & Vegetables

Serves 4

750g new potatoes

2 tbs olive oil

4 chicken breasts or 8 chicken thighs

350g cherry tomatoes

1 red onion cut into thin wedges

100g back olives, stones removed

1 tbs chopped fresh oregano 

200g of feta 

2 tbs red wine vinegar

Get the oven heated to 185C fan. Cut the potatoes into thick slices lengthways and put in a large roasting dish (the biggest Le Creuset is best) with half the olive oil and toss until coated. If using thighs put these on top and put in the oven and roast for 30 mins, wait if using breasts and just roast the potatoes.  

Add the onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, oregano and feta and toss. Put the chicken breasts on top (or put the thighs back on top) and drizzle with remaining olive oil and the red wine vinegar. 

Cook for 20-25 minutes and check the chicken is cooked through before serving. 

Turnip & Kidney Bean Curry

2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 12 wedges each

1 medium red onion, finely diced

2 gloves of garlic (minced or grated in when directed)

Thumb sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tin of good quality chopped tomatoes, juice drained and kept for something else

1 tin of kidney beans

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp ground turmeric 

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp paprika or dried chilli flakes

1/2 tsp garam masala

1tbs chopped coriander

Cook the turnips in boiling water until soft, about 5 mins. Once cooked add the kidney beans and boil for a minute and then turn off the heat.

Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a wide frying pan on #6 (green Le Creuset is best) and fry the spices (except the garam masala) for a minute or until they start smelling (good not burned!). Add the onion and a pinch of Maldon and cook until soft/golden brown. Add the fresh ginger and garlic and fry for a minute and then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes on a medium heat (it shouldn’t boil too hard).

Drain the turnips and beans but keep the cooking water. Add the veg to the tomato spice paste and add a few spoons of the retained water. Simmer for 10 mins. If it goes too thick add a little more water but not too much as should be quite a thick curry. Add the garam masala and coriander and check the seasoning just before serving.

Serve with cauliflower or normal rice with a spoon of thick natural yoghurt on top.