Quite Possibly the tastiest Little patties.

2017 has kicked off and one is really trying to be healthier this year.  I am power walking, Swimming and Dog walking which is blowing away the cobwebs and having an über positive impact.   I’m chuffed to report back in week one I’ve lost three and a half pounds. I decided to make some super healthy burgers and chips for Supper last night.  I have to say the Burgers were the best I’ve tasted. I gave them a Middle Eastern twist and served them with a lovely lemony and olive oil dressed salad, potato wedges Yoghurt , Garlic, cucumber and mint dip, Hummus and whole meal Pitta.  

In a bowl I combined 200 gms of minced lamb and 200 gms of mincedbeef.  I added in one really finely chopped onion, one egg, a teaspoon of Sumac, a chopped handful of Coriander, the juice and grated zest of one lime and sea flakes and black pepper.  I mixed this thoroughly with my hands, formed a large mound of meatiness and broke off 10 equal balls rolled them and flattened them.  I then grabbed a large non-stick frying pan, heated some Olive oil and pan fried my patties for around 3 minutes on each side. I gave them a good squeeze of lemon, sprinkled more coriander and Hey presto.  The wedges take around 35 minutes to cook on 180 degrees centigrade so had poppped them in 20 minutes earlier. To keep up the lightness of the dish, I popped the cork on a delightful Gavi from Waitrose priced at £11.99 and worth every penny.

Sunday leftover Roast chicken and Chestnut mushroom Risotto.

Some think that Risottos are scary and problematic.  For me, I’ve always been able to knock out a good one.  Maybe it’s my knack, I feel I can inject passion into risottos and pastas, so potentially my calling.  On Monday, I endured as many do a pretty arduous day at work.  Things are not particularly great work wise at the moment.  Think it’s Brexit waves that are causing unease in my particular case.  I arrived home however in a good mood, this is due to the fact that I have now taken up swimming every morning before work in the intention that I will be less stressed and moody.  This has been working well until I pulled up in front of my house.  I glanced up at my bedroom window, the light was on so knew the husband was home and probably watching TV.  I don’t have a problem with the husband watching his favourite shows.  I do have a rule though that whoever is first home should make a little effort on the aesthetics of the domestic dwelling.  I sadly wasn’t feeling the domestic vibe, as the way the curtains and blinds were arranged was a dead give away of what was to come.  I looked at Jenny’s house next door, spotless curtain arrangement as always, and walked slowly to my front door.  It didn’t get any better.  The washing up was still there from the previous evening, plus extra.  The dog had displayed his affection in the liquid form despite the french doors being open so he may come and go as he pleases to the garden.  I decided a little vino would be appropriate at this point, the husband popped his head into the kitchen and asked why I was drinking.  I noticed he had a funny hat and glasses on and wondered if I’d missed something or was this a vague attempt to cheer me up or was this now his new look.

I told him to leave me alone to get back control of the kitchen and my inner peace, tidied up whilst mumbling and cracked on with supper.

  • I grabbed a large pan, glugged a generous amount of olive oil into it, chopped a large onion finely, two garlic cloves and fried gently for 2 minutes.  I added 3 teacups of Arborio rice and coated it so it reached the translucent stage.  I then added in half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms, a glass of dry white wine and a pint of chicken stock.  The next 18 minutes of your life is crucial to your Risotto’s success.  I like a wet risotto with a bit of Al dentiness, so took to my stirring a nurturing. This is the stress reliever bit, and does wonders for me.  After 13 ish minutes I added my chopped leftover chicken ( around a breast and a half), stirred for a further 3 minutes, then finished with some chopped Tarragon, a good knob of butter, lashings of Parmesan and some black pepper.  I was ready to be nice, so called the hubby from wherever he had scurried off to….

Spanish chicken & NZ vino… Why not?!

It’s Bank holiday, it’s sunny so I feel obligated to indulge in some Rosé. I spied The Ned Rosé in Majestic wine when I bought some of my much loved Pinot Grigio,  (see earlier post) and felt that one should crack it open.  I really love the freshness of all of these wines from Marisco wine makers in the glorious Waihopai Valley in New Zealand.  This fine specimen was bottled last year, worth its £10.99 in my opinion and can be drunk with a nice light dish such as my Spanish Chicken with Mediterranean flavours or just by itself.  The colour is vibrantly gorgeous, creamy with depth and bursting with cherries and raspberries whilst still remaining quite dry.  I am such a wannabe ambassador for The Ned Vinos and if asked would of course make myself fully available for jaunts to New Zealand for research purposes naturally.

 To accompany this vibrant vino, my well worn recipe of Spanish chicken is perfect.  (Serves 4-5).

Take 10 chicken thighs and place in a large dish.  Add 2 roughly chopped onions, one garlic bulb sliced in half.  To this add juice of 2 lemons, then chuck in the lemon skin. Slice up 200gms chorizo,  cut in half 400 grams of New potatoes add both in with a good dollop of Olive oil, and season.  For colour towards the end of cooking add some on vine cherry tomatoes.  The best thing about this dish is that it’s so low maintenance.  Put in the oven for 45 minutes on 170 degrees centigrade.  Serve with a nice green salad and some good bread to mop up the delicious chorizo and lemon juices. Enjoy!

Chicken Boulangère with Cabbage,lardons and cream.

This dish sits firmly on my top five favourite and non stressful dishes to make.  One can use chicken or lamb, the lamb version takes much longer to produce falling off the bones lamb ( suggested 5-6 hours at 140 degrees centigrade).  The chicken version is still just as tasty and only takes around 2.5 hours in the oven plus 25 minutes prepping time.

This dish is an ambassador for slow comfort cooking as you can quite literally put it in the oven, go for a long walk, go to the pub or if with friends have drinks and nibbles before enjoying it later.  It’s a real hearty dish and the aromas are sublime.

This makes enough for for 6 hearty portions….

Take 4 kilos of potatoes, slice and line the base of a large relatively deep pan.  Add 3 sliced onions, mix with the potatoes, sprig some herbs, Tarragon, Thyme and Rosemary work well.  Place 2 medium chickens on top, drizzle with olive oil, season well with salt and black pepper and add 2.5 pints of heavy chicken stock.  Basically leave in the oven for 2.5 hours on 150 degrees centigrade and chillax.

Once cooked, take out of the oven for 20 mins to rest, in this time you can make your cabbage.  This cabbage dish is my daughter’s favourite thing in the world as its fabulously comforting and deliciously moorish.

Take 2.5 cabbages of your choice, shred finely and put into a deep pan with a generous dollop of olive oil.  Add 200gms of Olive oil and sauté for five minutes.  Add 200 grams of Bacon lardons and cook for a further 6 minutes or until cooked with a little bit of colour.  Turn the heat down, and add in 300 mls of double cream, simmer and season with some black pepper.  Finally stir in two tablespoons of whole grain mustard.

Enjoy with some crusty bread to mop up the sublime juices and of course a nice rustic glass of vin rouge..

   
 

Ribollita 

  • So basically my restaurant reviewing is a little on the slow side, mainly due to the fact it’s an expensive old hobby.  The intention is still there so stick with me, there’s definitely more to come. I thought I could write about other things that delight me also, and of course being a really keen rustic cook, recipes and wine deliriously tick the delighting boxes.  My plan is to post a few of my adored recipes which are so easy to produce and tasty and are normally influenced by the continent and Middle East.  I used to spend many a day with my  Italian Grandmother who I am so alike, watching her produce rustic dishes galore, and am reminiscent of her kitchen as a warm and happy place full if heavenly aromas.  I have never found or tasted a Ragu as good as hers in the time since she last cooked for me which is over 20 years ago. I have also been really fortunate to have spent a lot of time in France, a country that I adore and having a father who will not set foot on a plane, our Summers before I flew the nest comprised of 3 day journeys by car and boat down to Provence for which unraveled 3 weeks of idyllic.  What about the Middle East I hear you ask, well my Lebanese surname speaks for itself.  You do the math!
  • When my husband called to ask what was for Dinner last night, he did not sound overly impressed when I said soup.  I have made this recipe for years, the husband associates Saturdays with red meat but Ribollita is so easy to make, is undeniably delicious, filling, healthy and very low in fat. My recipe makes enough for six hearty bowls.  Ribollita itself stems from Tuscany and there are many versions and tweaks to it that one can make.  The most important ingredients to define it however are the chunks of stale country bread, Cannellini beans and Tomatoes.
  • Combine one diced onion 2 chopped celery sticks, two garlic cloves in a large pan in a good dollop of Olive oil.  Sweat gently for a minute before adding 2 tins of Cannellini beans 450 grams in total and cook for another minute. Add 200gms of greens or chard, 150grams of chopped french beans, 5 diced and peeled potatoes, 2 tins of tinned, chopped tomatoes, one and a half litres of chicken or vegetable stock, a sprinkle of Sage (fresh or dried) and simmer for 40 minutes. Finally add two generous handfuls of stale chopped bread and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Finish with some ground salt, black pepper and Parmesan.     Dish up with some good bread, a glass of Chianti maybe some cheese to graze on and enjoy your Italian inspired supper or Lunch-Buon Appetito!