Red pepper and nduja baked eggs

Bakes eggs are such a fabulous way to kick start the day when you have a few minutes to spare. They are also a great way to line the stomach before Christmas festivities take over and the booze starts to flow freely! Use this recipe as a basis and tweak by adding extras if you like. Baked eggs are forgiving and most things will work. I have used red pepper paired with red onion, garlic and nduja to spice things up. I often include a bit of greenery such as spinach and this is also delicious. Ingredients such as chorizo, kale and feta also work really well so get experimenting.

You can bake these in individual ceramic dishes or one larger one so everyone can dig in!. I like to serve my eggs with fresh sourdough bread so read on and get cooking!

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Ingredients- serves 2 hungry people
Glug of oil
1-2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 ready roasted bell pepper- sliced
1 tbsp nduja
1 tsp oregano
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper to season
2 large eggs

1.Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170 fan ready for the eggs in a short while. In the meantime, get going with the sauce. Take a saucepan and heat a glug of oil over a medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes until softening nicely. Pop in the pepper, nduja and oregano and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add in the tomatoes and season well. Simmer for a few minutes before placing the sauce into one or two ovenproof ceramic dishes, depending on if you want to make individual portions or one sharing dish. Crack the eggs into the middle of the dishes and cook for around 10 minutes until the egg white is set and the yolk is soft. Serve with lightly toasted sourdough and get dipping!

Spicy baked eggs- perfect for a little festive indulgence!

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Veal, porcini and cavolo nero ragu

This veal, porcini and cavolo nero cannelloni was inspired by a recent trip to a local Italian restaurant where I had order envy! One of my fellow diners ordered a sumptuous veal cannelloni so I thought, ‘why not make a classic even more special?’. Veal mince is more widely available now and gives a lighter flavour but is still delicious. You will see that I have given you the recipes for the ragu and béchamel sauce but the photo is for the veal ragu served with spaghetti- ‘why?’ I hear you cry! Simple as this: time was short and hunger was high! We all get impatient from time to time but really do try it as a cannelloni!

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the filling
Olive oil
400g veal mince
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed or finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml white wine
25g dried porcini mushrooms- rehydrated
Fresh thyme
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
300ml beef stock
100g cavolo nero
Dried or fresh lasagne sheets
Freshly grated parmesan

For the béchamel sauce
500ml milk
1 onion- halved
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
50g butter
50g plain flour

1. I make the veal sauce in advance so it has plenty of time for the flavours to develop. Take a large pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium/ high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the veal mince. You may need to do this in two batches so the meat browns nicely. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. If the veal has released a fair bit of natural fat then drain a little away. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and carrot for until softening but not so the onions are catching too much colour. Add the tomato puree and stir so it is well combined before cooking for a minute or two before adding the porcini mushrooms and thyme.

3. I have chosen to use a dry white wine in this recipe to keep it lighter but feel free to use red if you would like. Add the wine to the pan and heat until reduced by half; this will deglaze the pan as well as adding flavour. Pour in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally. After the hour is up I then add the cavolo nero before giving it another half an hour or so. Season well.

4. Whilst the sauce is simmering away, you need to make the béchamel sauce which is going to top the cannelloni. For the sauce, secure the bay leaves to the onion halves using the cloves- this way you don’t have to go fishing around the saucepan to find the cloves later on! Add the milk to a small pan and bring to a boil before removing from the heat and allowing the flavours from the bay and clove to infuse for around 20 minutes.

5.Take another pan and melt the butter and flour together until a paste, or roux, is formed. Remove the onion, clove and bay from the pan containing the milk and slowly add the milk to the pan with the roux. Keep stirring so lumps don’t form! Simmer and stir until it thickens before removing it from the heat ready to pour over the cannelloni.

6. When the veal sauce is thick and reduced, you can get going on forming the cannelloni. Take the lasagne sheets and cook for a couple of minutes, drain and allow to cool until you can handle them. Each pasta will vary in time slightly so do refer to the packet instructions. Place a line of the veal sauce to one end of the lasagne sheet (not right on the end, leave a small gap) and roll. Place the pasta tube, seal side down, into a baking dish and repeat the process until the veal sauce has been used. Tuck each tube in snuggly. Pour over the béchamel sauce and grate over a little fresh parmesan. Bake in a 200c/ 180fan preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Veal, porcini and cavolo nero ragu which is fit for a king- a twist on an Italian classic!

 

 

Garlic, lemon and herb slow roasted lamb

If you think that slow roasting meat means having to be tied to the oven all day then think again! Lamb shoulder is the perfect cut to pop in the oven whilst you carry on about your daily business before coming back to it later when it’s tender and succulent. Slow roasting brings out the best of the flavour whilst keeping ingredients simple and fresh.

I used half a lamb shoulder which will comfortably feed four but if you have more people to serve than buy a whole shoulder and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Remember that lamb tastes better if you have time to marinade it in advance but also don’t keep it in the fridge up until the minute you want to cook it- let it rest at room temperature for about an hour.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Half a lamb shoulder
1 lemon
4 cloves of garlic (or more if you are a garlic fiend!)
Fresh thyme and oregano- dried will work too
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to season
200ml dry white wine

1.Start the day before if you can so the flavours of the marinade get plenty of time to work their magic. Peel the garlic cloves and cut into halves or thirds, depending on their size. Make incisions into the lamb and slide a piece of garlic into each one. Rub the herbs, oil and seasoning into the lamb all over. I then pared some lemon zest and scattered it all around the lamb before squeezing over a little of the juice. Cover the lamb and pop in the oven to do its thing!

2. When you are ready to cook, bring the lamb up to room temperature and preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. This may seem like a high oven but this is only for the first stage of cooking so don’t despair! Transfer the lamb to a roasting tray with its lemon and all and place on parchment paper. Bring the sides of the paper up before sloshing in a glass of white wine (you could also use water) and wrap loosely. Cook at 200c/ 180fan for 10 minutes before lowering the oven to 150c/ 130fan. Check the timings on the lamb you buy but for half a shoulder you are looking at around 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Some recipes will tell you uncover the lamb for the last hour of cooking but I don’t find this is necessary and I prefer to keep it covered to look in all the flavour.

When the lamb is ready the juices will run clear. Allow to rest before carving and enjoy with roasted potatoes and vegetables. Keep an eye out for little slivers of beautifully sweet roasted garlic- don’t waste them!

Slow roasted lamb with garlic, lemon and herbs- a perfect recipe for a lazy Sunday afternoon!

 

Herb and chilli baked feta

Herb and chilli baked feta has to be one of the speediest starters around! We all know and love baked cheeses like camembert but this gives a Greek twist. Feta is the perfect baking cheese as it heats well and keeps its shape whilst retaining it beautiful saltiness so get reading and get cooking. You may also like to try using flavoured oils for this too such as garlic or lemon and thyme.

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Ingredients
1 block of feta approx. 250g
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Place the feta block in a small ovenproof baking dish or alternatively place on a piece of foil with the sides lifted to contain the oil. Combine the oil, chilli and herb and pour over the feta. Bake for around 15minutes until the feta is warmed through. Spread on fresh bread and enjoy!

Herb and chilli baked feta- so easy you can cook this in your sleep!

Garithes youvetsi- Greek baked prawns with tomato and feta

Garithes youvetsi is a typical Greek dish which is quick, easy and is perfect for entertaining or for a quiet night in. I can hear you thinking that the salty feta surely doesn’t go with delicate, sweet prawns but think again! With the careful balance of prawn to feta you can’t go wrong! I have used raw peeled king prawns for ease and to avoid having to cover myself in tomato sauce when trying to remove the shell but it’s up to you. Find a good quality feta that is both sharp and salty; avoid so called salad cheese at all costs! Feel free to pop in a couple of extra ingredients such as some baby spinach leaves or roasted red pepper for an added twist.

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Ingredients- serves 2
350g raw king prawns- deveined
Olive oil
1 onion- finely chopped
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
6 fresh vine tomatoes or a tin of chopped tomatoes
Fresh oregano and parsley
100ml dry white wine
100g feta

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160fan ready to receive the prawns later on. Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a saucepan and warm over a low heat. Cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they soften and release their flavour. Stir through the cumin and cook for a further minute.

2. Next up goes the tomatoes. If you’re using fresh tomatoes then dice them; you can remove the seeds and skin if you like. Add the wine and away it goes! Most recipes that call for wine put it in the base of the recipe but many Greek dishes add it into the sauce directly; of course, if you’re feeling daring then you can add a splash of ouzo! Turn the heat up to medium and simmer until most of the liquid has reduced. Add in the oregano and half of the parsley and season to taste. If you wanted to add in a little spinach or red pepper then this would be the time to add it in.

3. Take two ovenproof baking dishes to each person has their own to dig into. Place the prawns at the bottom of the dishes before dividing the tomato sauce between the dishes and placing over the prawns. Crumble the feta over the top and bake for around 10-13 minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Sprinkle the remaining parsley to serve and you may also like to serve with a side salad or some hunks of bread.

Garithes youvetsi- a taste of Greece in the comfort of your own home!

 

Rib eye with punchy chimichurri and roasted vegetables

Think of beef and you think of Argentina- the spiritual home of all things meaty! Chimichurri is a classic accompaniment to a good steak. Its fresh and punchy flavours bring out the best of a rib eye so read on and get cooking. I bought smoked sea salt from the lovely people at www.thespiceshop.co.uk.

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the chimichurri
Small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 shallot
1 tsp fresh red chilli
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp red wine vinegar

For the vegetables
400g new potatoes
Smoked sea salt (or regular)
2 bell peppers- red and yellow work well
1 courgette
2 red onions
2 tsp oregano- dried or fresh
Olive oil
Few garlic cloves- unpeeled

4 rib eye steaks

1. You can start in advance by prepping the chimichurri. Simply roughly chop the ingredients and add to the wet ingredients and give a quick blitz in a food processor. You are after a saucy consistency. Alternatively finely chop the ingredients and give it all a good bashing in a mortar and pestle! Cover and set aside until you need it.

2. For the vegetables, cut the peppers and courgettes into chunks and the red onions into wedges and toss with a good drizzle of oil. I nestle a few whole garlic cloves in amongst the vegetables before seasoning well, popping the oregano in and off you go! Roast in a preheated oven for around 20 minutes at 180c/ 160fan until tender.

3. I like to serve this with simply roasted new potatoes. Start by parboiling the potatoes for a few minutes before draining well. Pop them in a baking tray with another good glug of oil and sprinkle over some smoked salt. I love the edge that this salt gives and it goes with the steak perfectly. Roast in the oven next to the vegetables for around 30 minutes until golden.

4. When the potatoes have around ten minutes left, prepare the steak. I like a beautiful rib eye but anything robust works well here- maybe save the fillet for another day though… Season the meat well and rub a little oil over it before cooking in a hot pan/ griddle. For an average rib eye I like to give it two minutes on each side for a rare finish but cook according to your preference so long as it’s not well done! There is more flavour from boot leather!

5. Rest the rib eye whilst you take the roasted vegetables and potatoes from the oven. Either divide the veggies between four plates or serve on a large platter with slices of the steak over the top and finished with a drizzle of the chimichurri so everyone can help themselves.

Rib eye, roasted vegetables and smoked salt potatoes with a classic chimichurri- you’ll love it!