Cabbage and Noodles

Cabbage and Noodles

Wotchers!

I have for you today a simple but ridiculously tasty dish that has become a firm favourite in this house, not least because it requires so little effort to make.

The combination of buttery, peppery, al-dente greens with buttery, peppery, differently-al-dente noodles is, as I have already mentioned, ridiculously tasty. Bonus is that it reheats well with a zap in the microwave, and so the initial chore of all the chopping is offset with easy side dishes/meain meals for several days.

It is based on the Eastern European dish Haluski. This version has been tweaked from the original and traditional method of making which was, if anything, even easier to prepare, involving just one pot to bring it all together. The original has everything fried in butter – delicious! – but a bit much for me, so I’ve opted for steaming the cabbage (to keep the glorious colour), cooking the noodles separately, and then just using a pan to mix.

This version is vegetarian, but it can easily be embellished into a simple main meal – although I can happily eat this as a meal just as is – with the addition of some protein: bits of bacon/ham seems to be the most popular, but chopped, cooked chicken, chorizo, hardboiled eggs are also simple to stir through the pan just before serving.

I have used white cabbage, savoy cabbage and brussels sprouts (because I love them) to add interest in both colour and texture, although using just one is fine. The noodles are actually fresh pasta ribbons: again, any shape is fine, and on reflection, smaller pasta shapes would make the dish easier to serve/eat.

Aside from my tweaks above, there seem to be a couple of other ‘rules’ when it comes to Haluski, which I can also vouch for with this version, viz.

  • Proportionally, have more cabbage than noodles.
  • When coating the greens with butter, have them ‘catch’ a little (brown at the edges) which will give a fantastic flavour boost to the dish.
  • Season generously with lots of black pepper.

Deviate from these at your peril!

Before we get to the recipe, a word or two about cooking cabbage – and indeed all brassicas.

  • Cook/steam for no longer than 4 minutes.

Yes, I agree, this does seem a ridiculously short amount of time, but it is genuinely all you need. Any longer, and you’re heading into the realms of school-dinner-boiled-cabbage-funk aroma that we all know, to our horror. The greens end up cooked, with a pleasant texture on the teeth,  and retain their glorious colour fantastically well.

Steaming is my preference, not only for the brightness of colour it is possible to retain, but it also prevents the vegetables from becoming waterlogged. Simply cut out any hard stalks (especially from kale, cavolo nero, Savoy) and shred the leaves finely, and halve or even quarter brussel sprouts.

Cabbage and Noodles

This is, essentially, a quantity-free recipe. Precise measurements are not required, and it will be all the more delicious – and quicker – without them.

1-2 onions
butter
cabbage/greens/sprouts
fresh egg noodles or egg pasta
black pepper
salt

  • Peel and chop the onions. You casn do this by hand and make the onion pieces similar in size to the greens, or you can thrown them into a food processor and blitz to a mush that will blend in with the rest of the ingredients. Both are fine.
  • Melt some butter in a large pan (because everything with end up being added to this pan) and fry the onions until softened and golden, but not crisp. Be generous with the butter, but don’t go overboard (some especially rich recipes I’ve read end up using 250g or more) – about 50g is plenty.
  • Prepare the greens by removing any hard stalks and shredding the leaves finely. Steam for 4 minutes and drain through a sieve.
  • Cook the noodles in boiling water according to instructions and drain through a sieve.
  • When the greens have drained, tip them into the butter and onions and toss gently to coat.
  • When the greens are evenly coated with the buttery onion mixture, add in the noodles and combine. Add more butter to taste. You want everything nicely coated, but not swimming in butter.
  • Season generously with black pepper and a little salt.
  • Serve at once.

The Week Long Chicken

Wotchers!

Here’s a little something I hope proves useful in these trying, lockdown times.

We get a lot of fast food leaflets through our door and I am always shocked, as I watch them tumble into the recycle bin, at the cost of the food they’re offering compared to the cost of the ingredients. Recently, I was very disconcerted to see that a single person southern fried meal cost more than an entire chicken at the supermarket.

I appreciate that the price includes wages/utilities on top of the cost, but it still seems very poor value for money, so I decided to see if I could present an alternative to demonstrate the versatility and frugality of cooking at home. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for a while: whether a whole supermarket chicken can be made to last a week.

This post is about the cooking of a large, standard, supermarket chicken – one chicken, seven meals. Great for the single person, but obviously, for even a small family, one chicken isn’t going to last a week. My hope is that one or two of these meal ideas might inspire you to make your chicken go just a little further than usual.

For the most part, these are recipes without recipes, with a sprinkling of suggestions. If you need clarification, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment.

Sunday – Roast Chicken & Stock

Method 1 – Oven

  • If you can afford it, roast two chickens in the oven at the same time. It’s more economical and you’ll have more cooked chicken to use/freeze.
  • Put the chickens on a rack over a large roasting pan. Or use the solid shelves that come with your oven, and put the chickens on the rack oven shelf.
  • Add about 1 litre of water to the roasting tin. This will catch all the meat juices and stop them gumming up your pan over the long roasting time, and be the basis of your gravy. During the cooking, it will also keep your chickens moist as the oven heat turns to steam.
  • Put your pan into a cold oven and turn the heat to 140°C, 120°C Fan.
  • Cook your chickens for 4 hours. They will be basted to a delicious tenderness by their own fat, and the skin will crisp to parchment thinness.
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare your potatoes/stuffing/vegetables. Peel your potatoes and cut into even-sized pieces. Boil for 5 minutes, drain then allow to dry in the warm pan. When dried, shake the pan to roughen the edges, which will make for extra crispiness. Cauliflower and broccoli are simple to prepare and cook quickly and the combination of cauliflower and chicken gravy is sublime.
  • After 4 hours, remove from the oven, lift the rack off the tin and cover the chickens in foil. Cover the foil with a clean cloth. NB To keep the skin crisp, remove it and set aside before covering with foil. The chickens will stay hot for quite a while, certainly long enough to roast your potatoes/cook stuffing/steam vegetables.
  • Turn the oven up to 200°C, 180°C.
  • Put some lard or dripping in a roasting pan and put into the oven to melt/heat. Coat your roughened potatoes with the hot fat and roast for 45 minutes. Put your stuffing in at the same time.
  • Get a steamer pan ready for your vegetables.  Carrots can be peeled/cut into batons and cooked in the boiling water under the rest of the vegetables (give them a 5-minute head start, for 15 minutes total). French beans boil in 7 minutes/steam in 10. Broccoli and cauliflower also steam in 10 – put the cauliflower in the steamer pan under the broccoli.
  • Pour the water from the chicken pan into a saucepean, together with any bits that have fallen in. Taste  to see if it is flavoured well enough. If not, then add some bouillon or boil fast to evaporate some of the liquid. Serve as a jus or thicken with flour if preferred.

Method 2 – Slow Cooker

For one chicken

  • Get 1 large onion, 2 large carrots, 3 sticks of celery.
  • Peel the carrots and cut in half lengthways. Cut the celery in half across the width. Cut the onion in half, no need to remove the brown skin.
  • Arrange the vegetables on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add fresh herbs if liked.
  • Put the chicken on the top.
  • Put the lid on and cook on High for 4 hours, Low for 5 hours. No need to add any water. There’s enough moisture in the vegetables and chicken to keep it moist and make a very flavourful jus.
  • Finish as above.

Before bedtime, take a few moments to set up your stock so it can work it’s magic overnight.

Stock

chicken carcase(s)
1 onion
2 carrots
3 sticks celery
1tbs black peppercorns
2 bayleaves

  • Take off all the meat from the carcase(s) and set aside. Put everything else into a pan or slow cooker.
  • Chop the vegetables and put all the remaining ingredients into the pan.
  • Add sufficient water to just cover.
  • Cover and cook in the slow cooker overnight on Low, or cook on the hob on 1. The low heat will make for a clear, flavourful stock, and the brown onion skins will give it a great colour.
  • The next morning, switch off the heat and allow to cool until just warm.
  • Put a colander over a bowl and pour the contents of the pan through, to remove the bones and vegetables. It will need to drain for 15-20 minutes.
  • Repeat, this time using a fine sieve to remove smaller particles.
  • If you’re keen, repeat a third time, either lining the sieve with wet muslin, or using a coffee filter, to ensure your stock is crystal clear.
  • Allow the stock to cool completely, then chill in the fridge or freezer. When completely cold, remove the fat that will be resting on the top.
  • Portion out your stock and freeze. 500ml is a useful quantity to have to hand.

 

Monday – Cold chicken salad with baked potato

Chicken Salad with Baked Potato
This meal harps back to my childhood. We always had a Sunday Roast – chicken, beef, pork, lamb in rotation – and Monday was always washing day. This was back in the days before modern, front-loading machines, when the best we had was what was known as a Twin Tub. Bedding had to be soaked in a barrel, then thrashed about with a copper washing dolly, or what we used to call an ‘umpy-tump’ – because that was the sound it made splooshing up and down on the sheets. These were then rinsed and finally passed through the mangle. All of which is a huge digression, but my point, my POINT is…..Mondays were a bit busy, so there was little time for cooking meals. The quickest and simplest was to have cold slices of meat from the roast and a baked potato. Salad scattered with some chopped mint from the garden and a splurt of mayonnaise, and it was ready in no-time. Choose whatever part of the chicken you like, but the pale breast does both look and taste delicious.

 

Tuesday – Chicken and Veg Pie with crunchy stuffing

All the flavour of Sunday Roast Chicken – inna pie! Using the leftover vegetables and gravy means it comes together in minutes and the crunchy stuffing ‘crumble’ sets it off beautifully. Can be made without pastry as a ‘bake.’

cooked chicken – a mix of light & dark
chicken gravy
cooked vegetables from the Sunday roast such as carrots, french beans, etc.
frozen peas
leftover stuffing
baked shortcrust pastry tart shell(s)

  • Chop the chicken and vegetables into 1cm  dice.
  • Moisten with the gravy.
  • Freshen things up with a handful of frozen peas – no need to cook first.
  • Spoon the mixture into the pastry shell(s).
  • Blitz the stuffing in the food processor or chop coarsely.
  • Sprinkle over the top of the pie to give a savoury crumble topping.
  • Put pie(s) into the oven and turn the heat to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until thoroughly heated through and the topping is crisped and browned.

Wednesday – Chicken Sandwich

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a bit of a cop-out ‘recipe’ – A recipe for a chicken sandwich? I hear you exclaim. Well yes and no. On the one hand, no-one needs a recipe for a sandwich – bread, butter, filling, bish-bash-bosh, job done! But here I’d like to offer a few suggestions to take your chicken sandwich game up a notch or two, without having to resort to fancy-schmancy breads, etc.

  • Bread – Whatever you fancy. I’d like to suggest that you toast it, but only one side. I’ve opted for wholemeal brown and you can see from the picture that just the outside is toasted. This is to give crunch texture, something I’ve come to value more and more in recent years. It will also give a great contrast to the soft, creamy filling.
  • Butter – Actually, no. Better in this context to go with mayonnaise. I alternate between a low-fat mayonnaise, and making a dressing comprised of half mayo, half plain yogurt, with coarse-ground black pepper and a dash of lemon juice to add a little zing. Use either of these instead of butter on the untoasted side of the bread. Then, on each slice, add a light dusting of finely ground white pepper and a scattering of a pinch – literally between index finger and thumb – of salt.
  • Filling – again, choose whatever part of the chicken you like. I’ve gone for thinly (5mm) sliced chicken breast. You don’t need much to make a decent sandwich. Arrange the slices on one piece of bread and press the other slice lightly on top. Cut into quarters.
  • Put together a little salad and arrange on a plate alongside the cut sandwich and enjoy.
  • If you’re in need of something more substantial, try pairing your sammich with some Leek and Potato soup, made with your delicious stock.

 

Thursday – Chicken Tetrazzini

A bowl of Chicken Tetrazzini

Recipe can be found here.

If your supply of chicken is dwindling, add more chestnut mushrooms, whose meaty texture goes so well with the sauce. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, make a full batch of the sauce, because it is fabulous, and portion/freeze it for a quick meal later.

Friday – Berbere Chicken

Berbere Chicken

Here’s something a bit different. Berbere is a fabulous aromatic Ethiopian spice mix. It is available both in shops (Bart do a tin) and online and you can even mix up a batch yourself and have it be tailored to your own personal taste. If you can’t find any berbere, you can substitute your favourite curry powder or garam masala.

3tbs ghee
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
3 plum tomatoes
3tbs tomato paste
2tbs berbere
500ml chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste

cooked chicken

  • Peel the onion and chop finely.
  • Melt the ghee in a pan and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion has softened and is starting to brown.
  • While the onion is cooking, chop finely (in a food processor if liked) the garlic and tomatoes.
  • Add 1tbs of berbere to the cooked onions and stir for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped garlic and tomatoes, tomato paste and stock.
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Use a stick blender or liquidiser to puree the sauce smooth.
  • Taste and add more berbere, salt and pepper if liked.
  • Add the cooked chicken and heat through. Serve with noodles and rice or mujaddara.
  • Extra sauce can be refrigerated/frozen for use another time.

Saturday – Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

As the end of the week approaches, you might be down to your last few shreds of chicken, so a great way to make them stretch is to make a soup. There is a very basic version, and then a list of additions which you can add according to taste/necessity.

2tbs butter
1 onion – finely chopped
2tbs plain flour
250ml milk
250ml chicken stock
1 tin sweetcorn – drained
cooked chicken – chopped small.

Optional Additions
bell peppers – seeded and diced
cooked potatoes – cubed
garlic – to taste, finely chopped, or garlic powder
ham/bacon – to taste
spring onions – sliced
fresh parsley – chopped
croutons
cooked vegetables – whatever you have to hand
celery

  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped onion. Cook until softened and translucent.
  • Add the flour and cook, stirring, until it thickens into a roux.
  • Add the milk and stock and continue stirring over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of cream.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes to cook out the flour. Taste, and if it tastes floury, simmer a little longer.
  • This is the soup base. If you like a smooth soup, you could puree it now, either in a liquidiser or using a stick blender.
  • Add the rest of your ingredients according to taste and simmer gently until heated through.

Turkey Chorizo Spirals

Turkey Chorizo Spirals

Wotchers!

It struck me that I haven’t done a main meal in quite some time, and being in a bit of a minimalist mood, here is a family favourite in this house, not least with the cook (yours truly), which has just three ingredients: turkey, pesto, chorizo.

It does require a little bit of preparation in making the rolls, but after that, it’s a less than 10-minute cook for a speedy and ridiculously tasty weeknight meal. The spicing in the pesto and the chorizo do all the work for you, so I usually don’t even bother with salt and pepper.

Over the years I’ve tried various shapes – rolling everything up like a swiss roll, a ‘sandwich’ of pesto and chorizo between slices of turkey – but this form is the most successful.

Serve with Noodles and Rice and some steamed veggies and it’s a taste sensation!

Turkey Chorizo Spirals

Serves 4

4 Turkey breast steaks
1 jar tomato pesto
About 20 thin slices of chorizo

wooden cocktail sticks

  • Flatten the turkey steaks by pounding them with a meat hammer or a wooden rolling-pin. Cover them with a double layer of cling film in order to prevent any bits flying off.
  • Spread a layer of red pesto over each steak.
  • Place a layer of chorizo slices over the pesto.
  • Roll up the turkey around the filling, and pin securely by pushing wooden cocktail sticks all the way through the roll. Three is about the right number, depending how large your turkey slices are: one through the middle and one at each end.
  • Place the rolls on a dish, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until required.
  • When ready to cook, place a lidded non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
  • Remove the turkey from the fridge and cut into slices. With a sharp knife, cut between the cocktail sticks to make three spiral slices per roll, with the cocktail stick keeping the meat secured in a spiral.
  • Put the slices in the pan and cook for two minutes. There’s sufficient oil in the chorizo and pesto to lubricate the pan.
  • Turn the slices over and cook for another two minutes.
  • Add 100ml water, cover and allow the turkey to cook/poach for about 5 more minutes, or until cooked through.
  • Remove from the pan and gently take out the cocktail sticks. The cooked turkey will now hold it’s shape.
  • Transfer to a warmed serving dish, spoon over the remaining cooking liquid and serve.

In case you missed it: Over on DejaFood.uk this week it’s Lancashire Butter Pie.


Beef and Parsnip Pie

Beef and Parsnip Pie

Wotchers!

This is one of my very favourite winter dishes. So much so, that I frequently make it at other times of the year also. I love it because of the combination of ordinary ingredients which come together in a gloriously rich and flavourful meal-in-a-dish. Which is another reason to love it – zero effort in the evening when you’re tired, cold and hungry. If you make this in individual ceramic dishes like in the top left of the picture, you can freeze them and just pull one out in the morning before work. At night you can heat it up in the microwave and toast the top under the grill and be sitting down to dine in less than 10 minutes. Beautiful.

I can’t even put my finger on precisely what makes this such an enjoyable meal. I think perhaps it’s just the combination of the brightness of fresh tomato with the beef in combination with the carrots and the buttery parsnip: rich, sweet and as comforting a Cottage Pie, but with a savoury twist.

Mighty Mince cookbook

This is an adaptation of a recipe in Mighty Mince (1980) by Jane Todd. It is packed with terrific recipes like this once for every kind dish, both British and from further afield, using beef, lamb, pork and veal mince. I would even go so far as to deem it Invaluable™. It turns up with surprising regularity in my local charity shops and car boot sales and I always buy every copy I come across and pass them on to friends and family, because it’s such a joy to have on the shelf.

Back to the recipe – it’s a root vegetable feast. Which means you can also play fast and loose with which ones you use. As already mentioned the carrot and parsnip are a particularly fine pairing, but don’t forget about swede, turnip, beetroot and celeriac. I’ve only tweaked this slightly – adding in some Worcestershire Sauce and sprinkling the topping directly onto the beef filling.

It’s especially popular with the young, with even my reluctant vegetable consumer daughter recently declaring  (despite having eaten it many times in the past) “It’s a lot better than I thought it was going to be.”

And if that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is!

Beef and Parsnip Pie

500g beef mince
1 onion chopped fine
2 medium carrots, chopped small – I se a mandolin
2 tomatoes – peeled and chopped
150ml beef stock
2tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1kg parsnips
50g butter
2tbs milk.
2 slices of bread made into breadcrumbs
3tbs grated cheese

  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add the beef mince.
  • Stir until the beef has browned and is starting to caramelise in places.
  • Lift out the meat and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
  • Add the onion and stir gently for 5 minutes until softened.
  • Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Return the meat to the pan and add the tomatoes and stock.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Peel the parsnips (or not as you like), cut in thick slices and add to a saucepan.
  • Cover with cold water an bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minute until tender.
  • Drain the parsnips and mash until smooth, together with the butter and milk. Season to taste with black pepper.
  • Taste the beef mixture and adjust the seasoning if required.
  • Lightly butter an oven-proof dish (or dishes) and spread the parsnip over the bottom and sides as if it were pastry.
  • Spoon the beef mixture on top and smooth over.
  • Mix the cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top.
  • If you’re making this for the freezer then allow to cool, cover, label and freeze.
  • To bake immediately, preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan and bake for 30-35 minutes for a large pie, 20 minutes if small.

Guinness and Chocolate Chilli

Guinness Chocolate Chilli
Wotchers!

So, my oven died. The main one. I have two, but the top one is even deader. After that went, I was able to limp along for a few weeks making toast with only one of the grill elements working, but then that conked out. With the main oven now gone, I am oven-less. On the plus side, I now have somewhere to dry metalware without it cluttering up the worktop.

Replacing the oven was more challenging than kitchen appliance websites wold have you believe.

Next day delivery? Sure! Not a problem. Relax. We can have your new oven with you tomorrow – just pick a delivery slot.

Oh, you want it connected? *sharp intake of breath*

Wellllll…….that’s going to be a while.

I was initially fretting over what was going to happen with the blog, with no oven. Then I reminded myself that Stuff™ happens and it’s not the end of the world. I have a working ( for now) gas hob, so rather than do the whole wailing/gnashing of teeth/rending of clothes at our oven-less-ness, for the forseeable future we’re going to be looking at stove-top recipes instead.

With all the frosty weather of late, this chilli is as fine a place to start as any.

It’s a bit of a deviation from the traditional, but in a very delicious way. I found a recipe that sounded nice, I decided to make it, I didn’t have several of the ingredients so I improvised with what I did have, and Voila, Chilli!

Guinness & Chocolate Chilli

This makes a large batch. Depending on your appetite, probably 6-8 adult portions. This recipe has no beans, but you can always add some to make it stretch further, or even just because you like them. I suggest freezing it without the beans and adding them only when preparing it for a meal.

For minimal washing up, choose a pan large enough to accommodate all the ingredents and it’ll be the only one you need.

250g smoked bacon – diced small
600g good quality pork sausages – I used Black Farmer – skins removed.
700g lean cubed beef
3 onions – peeled and roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic – peeled
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2tsp ground cumin
1tbs ground coriander
2tsp hot, smoked paprika
2 x 330ml bottles Guinness
400ml carton of pureed tomatoes
400ml tin of chopped tomatoes
2tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1 x Knorr beef stock pot ‘blob’
75g plain, dark chocolate – 60% cocoa

  • Fry the bacon in a hot, dry casserole or large frying pan until the edges start to brown. No additional fat is necessary.
  • Lift out the cooked bacon and set aside.
  • Cook the sausagemeat in the same pan.  Break it up into smaller pieces and stir briskly until it is browned.
  • Lift out the cooked sausagemeat and set aside.
  • Cook the beef in the same pan until browned on all sides.
  • Blitz the garlic and onions in a food processor and add to the pan with the beef.
  • Cook the onion mixture with the beef until the onion becomes translucent.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and the cooked bacon and sausage.
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cook until the beef is tender – 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Taste, and season to your own liking.
  • Enjoy over rice with a blob of sour cream.
  • Portion out and freeze remainders.