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Super Quick Chicken Bake

This meal was a store cupboard inspiration. It is cheap to make if you stick to using up leftovers!

I had a load of bits and bobs in the fridge, including half a roast chicken.

I had very little desire to cook, and the condensed soup was surprisingly tasty.

A great little recipe for when you need to be doing other things!

Quick Chicken Bake : Last One

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Lancashire Hotpot

Following on with my theme of autumnal dishes and making meals for during the week, I decided it was high time to make a Lancashire Hotpot.

The beauty of this dish, is that there is no cooking. Just add all the ingredients to a large casserole dish and throw it in the oven.

The lamb is wonderfully tender and melt in the mouth with the stock turning into a delicious thick gravy.

I ate this again on Tuesday night and it was 100 times better - the flavours had deepened and the potato had taken on a delicious
Dauphinoise consistency.

Lancashire Hotpot : And Another

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Toad in the Hole

One of my all time favourite comfort foods. Ideal for this autumnal weather.

Toad in the hole is a British classic, using good quality sausages served in a Yorkshire pudding batter.

I keep this 100% traditional, serving with a delicious home made onion gravy and green peas.

There is nothing complex to this recipe. The gravy, sausages and batter can be prepared earlier, meaning that you only need to get the lard up to temperature when ready to cook.

Toad in the Hole : Last one

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Beef and Ale Stew

With the dreary weather in the UK seemingly here forever, there was only one dish on my mind to cook last Sunday. Beef and Ale Stew!

I like to use beef shin, as it is a cheap and flavoursome cut that is particularly well suited to stews.

Stew is extremely easy to make with very little effort - only requiring one large pot. I like to cook all the ingredients separately in order to provide extra textures and enhance the flavours.

Beef and Ale stew is a fantastic winter warmer. The shin after the cooking process melts in the mouth whilst still holding its shape. I cook the bones and bone marrow in the same way I cook the shin. The marrow melts into the stew adding delicious flavour and helps to thicken the liquor.

I add Pancetta to my stew to add a subtle smokiness and background saltiness.

Feel free to add other vegetables to the stew recipe, such as swede, parsnip and potatoes. Personally I like to keep it pretty traditional with shallots, carrots and mushrooms.

The beauty of this dish is that it is impossible to make a small amount so there are always left overs for another meal. It also freezes extremely well and is great to pull out when you cannot face cooking!

The flavour of the stew only gets better a couple of days later! We got 4 servings out of the stew, before using up the remainder in a divine beef and ale pie! Nom nom nom!

Beef and Ale Stew : Close Up

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Breaded Fish and Chips

Is there anything more traditional than fish on a Friday?

Not being a big fan of deep fried food, I opted to bread the fish fillets and cook in the oven.

The fish comes out beautifully flaky, with the crispy breaded exterior forming a seal around the fish and keeping it very moist.

I served the fish with buttered and minted peas along with some oven roasted chips.

A British favourite, and for a good reason - you simply cannot beat fish and chips!

Breaded Fish and Chips : Close Up

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Crispy Chicken Goujons with Spicy Salsa

This is one of these mid week meals which takes moments to prepare, but rewards with delicious crispy chicken and tangy salsa flavours.

I wanted to keep this healthy so I oven roasted the chicken goujons instead of the usual deep fried affair. This keeps the dish much lighter but the chicken remains mouth wateringly tender and crispy.

I made a salsa as I wanted to use up the evenings harvest of heritage tomatoes and Numex Twilight and Birdseye chillies. The salsa and plain rice turned the dish from finger food into a full meal.

This was a household hit and I will definitely be making this again.

When coating chicken or any other meat in breadcrumbs I find it best to use one hand for the egg and the other hand for the dry bowls. I do each piece one at a time so that every last bit has a generous and even coating.

Roast Chicken Crispy Goujons : Last One

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Rib of Beef

Whilst digging through my photos, I found this delicious Rib of Beef with Yorkshire Puddings and Roast Potatoes.

I made this the weekend before my Australia and China trip. Unfortunately I do not have every photo, but it is a fantastically simple dish to make. Again, I use a meat thermometer to ensure that I get the perfect medium rare temperature.

The rib was delicious, with a crusty salty outside with melt in the mouth medium rare inside. Accompanied with buttered seasonal vegetables, crunchy roast potatoes and light and fluffy puds, there is no better Sunday dinner.

Normally, I would make gravy, but in this instance I settled with horseradish sauce.

Rib of Beef : Serve with horseradish

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Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Chicken and Mushroom Pie has to be one of the all time great comfort foods.

Here in London, it is cold damp and windy. Not pleasant at all - especially with it being dark going and returning from work.

This is where comfort food excels and one reason why I love the Autumn/Winter seasons. Out with the salads and in with the hearty stews, pies and puss! The kitchen comes alive with mouth watering smells.

My Chicken Pie, is a little bit of a faff, what with cooking the ingredients separately, however, it is well worth the effort. I like my pie to come complete with the vegetables, so I parboil the broccoli, add sweetcorn and delicious butter fried golden chestnut mushrooms. The leeks, shallot and garlic add a lovely depth. The tarragon and white wine give subtle complexity to the filling.

I reckon this pie takes a good 60 minutes of preparation, so generally better for a weekend.

Saying that, I made this on a Tuesday night for my sister-in-law. I confess I was sweating by the end of it, but got it in the oven in under half an hour! Happy

This tastes even better for left overs. I personally like to serve this with homemade piccalilli.

Chicken and Mushroom Pie : And another

Chicken and Mushroom Pie : Delicious chicken mushroom pie

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Herb Crust Rack of Lamb

It may be miserable and autumnal outside, but there is something comforting about having a spring dish for dinner.

The combination of the cheesy aubergine and delicious crusty lamb followed by a blast of mouth watering and delicious salsa verde is amazing.

I like my lamb a nice medium rare, but adjust the cooking times accordingly.

I served this dish to guests, half a rack per person.

I also served a bowl of steamed new potatoes, sprinkled with mint, along with the remaining salsa verde and a quick mint sauce.

Herb crusted rack of lamb : Close up

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Smoked Mackerel Salad with Horseradish Yoghurt Dressing

I was going through my phone when I came across this recipe from the summer.

If I recall correctly, I served the smoked mackerel salad during my house move - as it required little preparation.

The fishmonger recommended the hot smoked mackerel, saying it would make a great change - he sure was right!

The mustardy radishes compliment the smoked fish and hot horseradish giving a big mouthful of flavour!!

I whole heartedly recommend trying this recipe.

Smoked Mackerel Salad with Horseradish Yoghurt : Finished

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Classic Beef Wellington

I was asked to make the main course at a family gathering for 10.

What to cook? What to cook?

I decided it had to be a bit of a show stopper - but without insane effort - after all this was a gathering and I did not want to be isolated in the kitchen.

Beef Wellington is not a recipe to rush however and I would set aside a good 3-4 hours to do the dish justice.

The bulk of the effort is making the Duxelle filling. Once made, it is just the case of rolling up the fillet of beef and cooking it in the oven. Traditionally, Beef Wellington has crepes between the pastry and the meat. However, I find this makes the dish stodgy and instead prefer to use a layer of fresh spinach leaves.

Cooking for 10, I was privileged to be given a whole fillet of beef. I was planning on cooking the whole fillet as one - but realised quickly that it would not fit in the oven!

I have to say I was nervous that I would over cook the beef and ruin it. However, I should not have feared - my trusty meat thermometer came to the rescue and enabled me to get the meat perfect.

I strongly advise that you use a thermometer as you cannot touch the beef to determine if it is done.


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Naga Chilli Chicken : Not for the faint hearted

I was challenged to come up with a seriously chilli hot recipe for the Dropzone.

Being a chilli-head, this was not something to be shied away from!

A quick peek on the internet and I got myself a bag of Naga Ghost Chillies. These chillies should come with a health and safety warning as they are off the scale in terms of heat. (1.4 million Scoville, where as a scotch bonnet is 400,000 Scoville).

Believe it or not, I thought I would add some herbs and seasoning to make the kebabs as delicious and tasty as possible.

Frankly, after the first 3 seconds, which I have to say were flavoursome and fruity, the rest became a blur. The heat was mind numbing causing waterfalls of sweat to explode from every part of my body.

I did finish a kebab, but I really would not recommend this recipe, at this chilli heat.

I will make it again, but will use 1/3 of a naga chilli. I will post back with the more palatable results!

Naga Chilli Chicken Kebabs : Naga Chillies

Naga Chilli Chicken Kebabs : Naga Chilli Chicken Kebabs Served

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Sweet and Spicy Prawns

It is great to have a couple of super quick recipes in your culinary arsenal.

This is one of my favourite - a chilli hot and sweet spicy tomato sauce, served on a bed of rice and topped with delicious marinaded tiger prawns. For this recipe, I used frozen raw prawns, meaning that the whole meal for two came in at less than £5.

The sugar in the sauce emphasises the tomato and brings out the natural sweetness of the prawns.

This sauce works equally well with chicken, but will take a little longer to cook than the prawns.

Definitely a mid week life saver recipe!

Sweet and Spicy Prawns : Close Up 2

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Roast Beef with Yorkshire Puddings

Is there a meal more comforting and homely than Sunday Roast? Whether, chicken, beef, lamb or pork, the smells that emanate from the kitchen and take over the house are to die for.

Sunday roasts are not tricky, they just require a little organisation. Preparation is the key.

I normally use the top oven as well for this meal - so that I can keep a better control on the potatoes. It also means I can get the Yorkshire puddings into the oven just prior to the beef coming out.

I always prepare the meal the same way; prepare the veg, parboil the potatoes, prepare the batter, make the trivet, sear the beef, and place in the oven. Place the potatoes in the top oven, and cook the swede. This will leave you free to make the puddings and gravy at the end, whilst wilting the broccoli, cooking the carrots and finishing the swede! It sounds daunting, but really isn’t.

You could argue that I cheat, using a digital thermometer - however, it really does make cooking the beef to perfection a whole lot easier! I like my beef just on the under side of medium rare, a nice pink colour. As such, I really do think the searing off first is vital, so that you achieve a decent texture on the outside.

If you are not up for the hassle of searing off the beef first, they add the beef to a preheat oven at gas mark 6. Cook for 20 minutes, drop the heat to gas mark 4, and then cook 15 minutes per 450 g for rare - add 15 minutes for medium rare.

There is no substitute to a home made Sunday Roast and Trimmings. I have yet to eat a decent version in a restaurant or gastro pub - till this date.

Roast Beef : Sunday Roast and all the Trimmings

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Chicken Kiev, Oven Chips and Crunchy Vegetables

I have very fond memories of Chicken Kiev from my childhood.

I remember my mother sewing up chicken breasts with needle and thread for dinner parties. Not being much cop at sewing, nor having the patience required to thread a needle - I can assure you, my recipe is a lot less faff! This recipe involves wrapping flattened chicken around a large ball of cold
herby butter. The shape and the butter filling is held inside by freezing the breasts prior to bread crumbing and cooking.

Every time I cut into a chicken Kiev, the sense of anticipation whether the garlic butter will ooze out is almost unbearable.

Fresh, light, zingy and tasty - a wonderful through-back to an 1970’s favourite.

I served this with
oven chips and some very lightly cooked julienned seasonal vegetables.

Chicken Kiev : Close Up

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Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad

The weather was warm on Friday and what with a demand for fish for dinner, from the household - this absolutely hit the brief.

I love the zingy tasty dressing, the wonderful pick’ n’mix from the salad and the gorgeous just cooked and firm Tuna fillet.

I worked in Paris for three years, and the Nicoise was frequently served with canned haricot verte. They add a unique nutty flavour and bizarrely a crunchy texture and I think add something to the salad.

This is one of those dishes that you eat and each mouthful is unique but very very satisfying.

I cannot express how much you should cook this dish!

Tuna Niscoise

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Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Fishcakes with a Beetroot and Leaf Salad and Lemon Dressing

Picking up smoked salmon trimmings mean that these fish cakes costs significantly less than you would expect. The horseradish compliments the salmon wonderfully and the crunchy polenta and breadcrumb topping is fabulous.

I like to serve the fishcakes on a bed of fresh salad leaves drizzled over with a lemon and mustard dressing.

An awesome mid week meal.

Fishcakes : Side shot

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Succulent Stuffed Spring Welsh Lamb, Roasted Vegetables and Roasting Juices

With all the lamb I was given from the butcher’s course, it was inevitable that I would use some of the boned lamb shoulder for a Sunday Roast. I cut about 900 grams off the boned shoulder of lamb and marinaded in a plastic bag for 24hr in rosemary, garlic and lemon.

Afterwards, it was stuffed with onion, toasted breadcrumbs, toasted pine nuts, anchovies, rosemary, Parmesan and parsley. Served simply with roasted vegetables and topped with the red wine cooking juices and fresh mint sauce on the side.

A gorgeous spring, light and fresh Sunday dinner.

Lamb Shoulder : Finished dish

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Chilli Venison Sausages with a Red Wine and Onion Sauce, Mustard Mash and Herby Broccoli

Middle of the week, and only twenty minutes to prepare a meal.

I found the sausages in the freezer, and adapted the menu from store cupboard ingredients.

Chilli Venison Sausages with Red Onion and Wine Gravy, Mustard Mash and Herby Tender-stem Broccoli Side View

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Monkfish and Chorizo kebabs with Roasted Vegetable Couscous, Topped with a Salsa Verde

Picked up a wonderful piece of Monkfish from Alan, at
Chiswick’s Food Market. The couscous was left-overs from Sunday’s dinner - a slow roasted butterflied lamb shoulder, marinated in rosemary, garlic and lemon. The flavours in the couscous had intensified overnight and were brought to life by the zingy salsa verde.

A great Monday night meal, no faff, just a couple of kebabs to make!

Monkfish and chorizo kebabs

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Grilled Mackerel, Pancetta Salad with a Fiery Horseradish Dressing

It is warm and sunny outside. So definitely time for a salad. You cannot beat these flavours - one of my favourite dishes to eat.

warm mackerel salad with poached egg and horseradish dressing

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Tom Kerridge's Fried Chicken in a Basket, 'slaw, Jerked Sweetcorn and Stuffed Potatoes

A whopping 36 hours to prepare the chicken. However, it was worth every minute. The chicken melted off the bone, and the crispy coating was divine.
It seemed strange to almost confit the chicken — but it most definitely worked! The meal was scrumptious but not quick and easy for a week night.

Crispy Chicken Meal

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Braised Rabbit Legs with Puy Lentils

A hearty, seasonal and cheap Sunday dinner.

Braised Rabbit Legs with Put Lentils

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