Category / Mains

Mains

Stir-fried Ginger Chicken

This morning we have agreed with my husband for a deal. I will do the shopping and the cooking while he will be taking care of other household duties. While still discussing about the lunch menu however my telephone began to ring and I was gone for a few minutes giving a carrier advice to a good friend of mine. Focusing on the telephone conversation I have been observing my husband starting to browse through our family cook book library looking for inspiration. He left a book open wide and with a gentle kiss was off to follow his fitness routine. What has he found out for me? When the conversation was finally over, I have glanced through the open pages to see a Mary Berry recipe for an easy stir-fried ginger chicken. Why not, indeed?

It is amazing how quickly this dish could be ready, and how fragrant and fresh the ingredients seem booked in a stir-fry way. I am completely in love with the simplicity and the richness of the final dish and its zinging flavour combinations.

{Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Cookery Course Book.}

 

Ingredients

  • 6 spring onions, trimmed
  • 2.5 cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 1 red pepper, cored and deseeded
  • 1 yellow pepper, cored and deseeded
  • 350 g skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 250 g dried medium Chinese e noodles
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

 

Method

1. Slice the spring onions on the diagonal into short lengths. Cut the ginger into matchsticks. Cut the carrots and peppers into thin sticks no more than five millimetres thick and five centimetres long. Slice the chicken into thin strips across the grain. Soak and drain the noodles to soften.

2. Place a wok over a high heat for one to two minutes until very hot. Add the oil and heat until it just begins to smoke. Drop the pieces of spring onion and ginger into the hot oil. Stir them around vigorously for about one minute, tossing to coat them in the oil.

3. Push the spring onion and ginger to one side. Add the carrots and peppers and stir-fry in the same way for one to two minutes, then stir the spring onion and ginger back in.

4. Push the vegetables aside and add the chicken a little at a time. Sizzle the chicken briefly on each side before tossing with the other ingredients for a further one to two minutes.

5. Pour in the rice wine or sherry and allow it to bubble briefly. Add the soy sauce and stir to mix with the chicken and vegetables.

6. Add the noodles to the wok and toss to mix. Taste and add more soy sauce if you like. Serve immediately, garnished with coriander.

 

Mains

Mushroom Ravioli

Making home made ravioli sounds scarier than it really is, and it is without any doubt most definitely worth the effort. Just imagining that this has been for centuries the every day activity for thousands of warmhearted Italian Mamas, makes me already feel encouraged to roll my sleeves and give it a try. What could be that difficult?

Making the pasta dough, is no issue at all. Soft and silky, it is indeed prepared for less then 15 minutes and is no challenge at all. Rolling the pasta tough however, without a special equipment could be posing more of a difficulty as its elasticity is making the dough shrink back in after every rolling attempt to keep it stretched to paper thin proportions. Once this has been mastered, the remaining steps of the ravioli making processes are extremely easy to follow.

Home made pasta takes loving care and inevitably good will and time, but nothing compares to the variety of delicious dishes and flavours that could be combined together as a result. Like these shiitake mushroom ravioli served with fresh parsley mushroom broth and drizzled with truffle oil – beautiful, earthy-rich, mouth-watering dish ready to be served in snowy winter nights, seated close to the cracking warm fire.

 

Ingredients

For the ravioli filling
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 200g minced meat
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely shopped fresh thyme, rosmarin and parsley
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • salt and pepper
For the shiitake mushroom parsley broth
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • salt and pepper
For the ravioli
  • 3 eggs
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil

 

Method

1. To make the ravioli dough: Sift the flour in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the truffle oil. By hand, make a well in the center of the flour mix and dump the egg mixture. Working from the outside in with your hands or a large spoon, gather the flour over the eggs and work your way in until all the flour mix and liquids are mixed in. Gather the dough into a ball and use right away or keep well wrapped in the fridge until ready.

2. To make the ravioli feeling: In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion, carrot and celery stirring for about five minutes until softened. Add the minced meat and continue stirring for 8-10 minutes until the pink meat and changed colour and has become dark. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for additional three to five minutes, seasoning with salt and paper and adding the beef stock and fresh herbs. Once cooked, take the pan from the heat and let it cool before filling in the ravioli.

3. To make the shiitake mushroom parsley broth: In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and saute the shiitake and garlic for a couple of minutes, add the parsley and the stock. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep warm or reheat when ready to serve.

4. To make the ravioli: Cut the ravioli dough into two pieces, placing one piece over floured working surface, and keeping the other wrapped in the cling film. If you are making the dough by hand, roll each ball as thin as you can in between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Cut the rolled out pasta into disks using cookie cutters. Add about 2 teaspoons of the meat filling in the middle. Brush the edge of the disk with a little water and place another disk right on top, press down and drimp the edges with a fork. Place the ravioli over a floured surface and cover with damp tea towel to keep the pasta from drying until ready for boiling. Place a large stock pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil, add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoons and place in a serving dish.

5. Reheat the shiitake parsley sauce if necessary, pour it over the ravioli, drizzling over with truffle oil and serve.

 

Mains

Tin Foil Thai Fish

I love Thai food. Any opportunity to try something new and I am ready to put all my cooking skills to a test and challenge myself in attempting a new dish. Lorraine Pascale’s tin foil Thai fish recipe is extremely easy to follow. Just chopping a few ingredients, wrapping them up into tin foil and letting the oven do its magic. Yet, the flavours of this dish are most definitely not for the faint hearted. Spicy chilly, fresh ginger, celery, soy sauce, deep fresh lime. All sound individually divine but combined together they transform a humble fish into something gloriously delicious, steamed to a soft perfection. Combined with the deep meaty sesame oil paprika hoodles served as a side dish, even light and flavoursome this is a serious grown up Sunday lunch dish, definitely not to be served for children. Yet, what a stunningly easy to make, delicious treat!

 

Ingredients

Serves 4 people
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 2cm/¾in piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ a 28g/1oz bag fresh coriander
  • 4 sustainable fish fillets like trout or cabillaud (approximately 125g/4½oz each)
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 limes
For the noodles
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 x 150g/½oz packs straight-to-wok medium noodles
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2tbsp soy sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. Trim the spring onions and then cut them in half dividing the green and the white bits. Then cut each spring onion in half lengthways and set aside. Peel and finely slice the ginger and cut into thin strips. Deseed the chilli and cut into long thin strips also. Halve the celery stick and peel the carrot and cut both into thin finger-length sticks. Peel and finely slice the garlic and cut the stalks off the coriander (keeping the leaves and stalks separate).

3. Tear off four 34cm/13in squares (approximately) of tin foil and lay them out individually. Put a piece of trout in the centre of each one. Divide all the prepared vegetables between each one, scattering them over. Only use the coriander stalks for now, reserving the leaves for serving. Drizzle the soy sauce and sesame oil over, squeeze in the juice of one of the limes and season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Now wrap the trout up in the tin foil. Any old way will do, just as long as the foil is well sealed, but not too taut, so air can circulate and steam the fish. Place the parcels on a baking tray and put in the oven for 12 minutes.

5. A few minutes before the fish is ready, cook the noodles. Put some sesame oil in a medium wok or sauté pan and get it nice and hot. Halve, deseed and finely slice the red pepper and then stir fry for a minute. Add the noodles and continue to stir fry for two minutes until they are piping hot. Add some soy sauce to taste if you fancy it and then season well with salt, pepper and a drizzle of sesame oil.

6. Divide the noodles between four serving plates. Remove the trout from the oven and serve in the foil parcel next to the noodles. Quarter the remaining lime and nestle a piece into each one. Serve scattered with the reserved coriander leaves.

 

Mains

Bulgarian Gjuvetche

My mother and me are swapping recepies today. She is cooking my Oatmeal cookies and I am making her traditional Bulgarian gjuvetche. Often people ask me what is the most typical Bulgarian dish and I am usually struggling to give an undivided answer. If I say Moussaka, I inevitably get the answer that this is a Greek dish. If I say Shopska Salad, all the neighbouring countries like Greece, Serbia, Macedonia… have a similar version of this famous salad, that claiming the unique origin of the recipe by the Bulgarians sounds somewhat suspicious. However, there is one dish that stands out as typical Bulgarian, unclaimed by any other nation and this is the simple, humble gjuvetche. The gjuvetche, is hotpot consisting traditionally of meat, vegetables and feta cheese, all layered one on top of another cooked in tomato sauce. The pièce de résistance is an egg, soft and gooey, completely smoothing the depths and richness of the remaining ingredients. There are as many variations of the gjuvetche in Bulgaria as there are households. Based on necessity, people throughout the centuries where always adapting the recipe cooking from what was available at home at the moment, enriching this dish to an upmost perfection. No wonder it is so much loved by so many people. My mother’s recipe follows tradition, yet I am the one adding a new dimension by incorporating Spanish chorizo within the base ingredients. The result is heaven – deep and spicy bakes sausages, simmered in red chilly tomato sauce, enhanced by the bakes chorizo, soft potatoes, paprika and feta cheese, and topped with a soft egg.

 

Ingredients

(Serves 3 people)
  • 3 sausages
  • 1 Chorizo sausage, cut in pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in rings
  • 3 potatoes, cut on thin disks
  • 1 red paprika, cut in rings
  • 100ml water
  • 500g red chilly tomato paste
  • 250g Feta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • fresh parsley and fresh chives to garnish
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt

 

Method

1. Bake the three sausages until they are almost done. Cut them in small pieces.

2. Pour two spoons of olive oil in a deep cooking clay pot. Arrange the base with the pre-cooked sausages and the chorizo. Lay on top the onion rings, the potato rings and season with salt and pepper, than cover with the tomato paste and water. Top the dish with the red paprika and sprinkle feta cheese crumbs. Cover the clay pot with a lid.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 225C. Set the clay pot inside and bake for one hour until the potatoes have softened. Crack an egg in the middle of the dish and return it to bake in the oven for 10 more minutes.

4. Serve by garnishing with fresh herbs.

 

Mains

Spiced Red Cabbage

I remember an evening in Aachen, dining in our favourite restaurant and the waiter recommending for us to try the seasonal wild game. We agreed to taste a Bavarian dear, served with the most deliciously spiced red cabbage I have ever tried. Red cabbage with apples, together with mashed potatoes is often served as a side dish for sausages at home, but the thought has never occurred to me to cook it myself rather than buying it ready-made from the shop. Not until we tasted this delicious red cabbage in Germany, and I understood that we have been missing something of the exquisite flavours this dish should have.

And here I am, during the Christmas season, cooking my first ever spiced red cabbage with apples, and I can assure you, the kitchen already smells absolutely divine.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium size hard red cabbage, cored and coarsely shredded
  • 5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp red or white vinegar
  • 4 tbsp redcurrent jelly
  • 300ml water
  • 1 bay leave
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g butter

 

Method

1. Melt the butter in a large casserole and add the finely chopped onions. Leave them to soften for 5 min.

2. Add all the remaining ingredients, mixing well and letting them simmer on medium heat for 2 – 2.30h until the cabbage has soften.

3. Mix occasionally, making sure that the cabbage never remains dry. Add additional water if required. Cabbage is ready when soft and glossy.

4. Serve immediately as a side dish for sausages, meat & potato dishes.

 

Mains

Indian spice meatballs tagliatelle

Oregano, mint, coriander, parsley…

Fresh herbs can transform any dish into an unforgettable experience, making all the flavours singing in perfect harmony just like this Indian spiced tagliatelle meatballs.

The recipe comes from the latest episode of BBC’s Celebrity Masterchef. It is a pleasure to watch John Todore cook and it is even a greater pleasure to prepare his dishes at home. I definitely recommend to any body who is curiously interested to give this recipe a try – it is a wonderfully delicious winner!

 

Ingredients

For the pasta
  • 500g flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 free-range egg
  • 3 free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the meatballs
  • For the meatballs
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp green cardamon pods
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cooking salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 100g white breadcrumbs
  • 50ml milk
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped oregano
  • 500g chicken mince
  • 200ml double cream
  • 2 tsp lime pickle
To serve
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves

 

Method

1. For the pasta, add the flour and salt to a food processor. Blend in the eggs, egg yolks and olive oil. Once the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, remove from the food processor and knead for five minutes until you have a ball of smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes,

2. Cut the dough into two pieces. For each piece, flatten with a rolling pin to about 5mm/¼ in) thickness. Fold over the dough and pass it through a pasta machine at its widest setting, refolding and rolling (not changing the setting) until you have a rectangular shape. Keep rolling the pasta decreasing the roller setting down grade by grade with each pass until you reach the penultimate setting. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

3. Using the pappardelle cutting attachment, cut the pasta into thick strips. Set aside.

4. For the meatballs, toast the cumin seeds, green cardamoms, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and salt in a dry frying pan set over a medium heat. Grind in a small food processor and then transfer to a pestle and mortar along with the turmeric.

5. Heat three tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan and cook the ground spices and onion until softened. Season with black pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.

6. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk in a bowl. Add the chopped herbs and to the cooked onions along with the chicken mince and soaked breadcrumbs. Mix well before shaping into 20 balls with your hands.

7. Add a little more vegetable oil into the frying pan and cook the meatballs for 5-8 minutes, or until cooked through and browned.

8. To finish the pasta, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the pasta for 2-3 minutes, then drain.

9. To finish the meatballs, add the cream and lime pickle to taste. Fold in the drained pasta.

10. Serve in a serving bowl garnished with parsley, mint, coriander and oregano leaves.

 

Mains

Rosemary Garlic Bread

There are some recipes, that simply work. One only needs to follow the instructions, step by step, trust the culinary professional who understands what he is talking about and enjoy the delicious result coming out of the oven, reaping the compliments gracefully and with style. Yes, it is that simple…

We were having a business lunch in London, not far from the British museum. Our table was quickly getting covered with all sorts of tasty looking dishes when as a piece de resistance finally arrived a crispy garlic bread. Since then, we have been talking about this garlic bread remembering its amazing taste, we have been dreaming about making one at home, we have been looking at the menu hoping to be able to order a similar one in almost every restaurant in Belgium.

But when there is a will, there is a way… I have googled a recipe recently, and the only one that I found closely resembling our London garlic bread turned out to be from the famous British comedian Meera Syal. Following her simple instructions, my rosemary garlic bread turned out absolutely perfect, crispy and delicious.

We have enjoyed it as a side dish during a summer barbecue with grilled chicken, roasted vegetables and chilled sweet and fruity chardonnay.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 300ml warm water
  • 3 1/2 dry yeast, or 30g fresh yeast
  • 500g flour, plus extra for dusting
For the topping
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 1 small bunch of rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
  • salt
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

 

Method

1. Place the sugar, oil and warm water into a bowl. Add the yeast and gently stir to dissolve the yeast.

2. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour, mixing it in with your hands until all the liquid is absorbed. It will be quite lumpy at this stage.

3. Knead the dough until smooth, then roll into a ball. Put some oil onto your hands and roll the ball around to cover it with oil.

4. Place the oiled ball of dough into a large floured dish. Cover with a cloth or some cling film and leave in a warm (but not hot) place to rise for one hour. The dough should have risen to three times its original size in this time.

5. While the dough is rising, make the topping. Preheat the oven to 180C.

6. Place the whole garlic bulb into a sheet of kitchen foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up the foil around the garlic to create a sealed package and place into the oven to roast for one hour, or until the garlic is cooked and tender.

7. Remove the garlic from the foil and allow to cool. Transfer to a bowl and add the butter and rosemary. Mash the garlic well and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

8. Rub a pizza pan or baking tray with olive oil.

9. Roll the dough into one large 2cm/1in thick rectangle. You may bake the loaf like this, or cut the dough into smaller pieces to make individual loaves.

10. Place the bread onto the oiled pan or tray and prick it all over with a fork.

11. Spread the roasted garlic and butter mixture over the dough, then leave to prove for 30 minutes.

12. Preheat the oven to 230C.Transfer the dough to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown and risen.

13. While still warm, freshly out of the oven, sprinkle generously on top with sea salt.

14. Serves well warm and cold.

 

Mains

Red Beans

My grandmother was sitting in the kitchen almost the whole morning. On the wooden fire stove slowly, very, very slowly the beans have been cooking. She did not complain. With a mesmerising patience she was adding the necessary ingredients, each on its own time, the right time. The dish at the end was sublime. Cooked on slow fire, all flavours magically mixed together, softened, enhanced to perfection. My grandmother would look at us, hungrily devouring every bite in an ever-restless hurry to go back to our game in the garden and would ask if the dish was alright. All the reward she will get for her tiresome toil, our childish acknowledgement that the food is really tasty. I wish I had said more often that the food was divine. I wish…

Red beans is not a common dish in our modern daily diet. We do not have time to let the ingredients simmer until eternity and be bound to the kitchen for more that four hours. Yet, occasionally, when something steers my soul and the cry for days long gone by makes me move mountains to get closer to home, cooking my grandmother’s dish becomes a cleansing ritual, a family reward and a sumptuous delight.

Ingredients

  • 250g red beans
  • 250g pork cut in small pieces
  • 250g tomato paprika can
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 chicken bullion
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • red paprika powder
  • 1l water
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh mint

 

Method

1. Wash the red beans and let them souk in water over a night.

2. Change the water of the beans and let the boil for one hour until starting to get soft.

3. In another deep pot fry the speck until golden brown. Add the chopped onion and the chopped carrot and cover slightly with water. Let simmer for 10 minutes until the onion and the carrots and have slightly softened.

4. Drain the beans and add them to the pork, onion and carrots. Add the paprika tomato paste and add 250ml of water. Let simmer for at least one more hour.

5. When the beans have become softer and all the ingredients have started to come together, season with salt and black pepper, the paprika powder, the chicken bouillon and the fresh parsley and mint. Mix well and let simmer for additional half an hour, adding water occasionally if the dish starts to become too sticky and dry.

6. The beans are ready when they softly melt, without any hardness in a bite. Season with additional fresh mint and serve. Eats well on its own or with toasted slices of bread.

 

Mains

Crispy Fish Nuggets

I love these crispy fish nuggets. So easy to make at home and tasting so delicious.

The same recipe using the batter and the bread crumbs can be used for frying chicken, prawns and all sorts of fish.

Ingredients

  • 500g red fish
  • 250g beer
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks
  • 250g bread crumbs
  • 500ml vegetable oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

 

Method

1. Pour all the vegetable oil into a deep pan or deep fat fryer, and heat to 180 degrees C.

2. Mix together flour, salt and pepper and the beer, then fold in the egg whites.

3. Cut the fish into small pieces. Cover with sea salt and black pepper. Dip the fish into flour and let it rest.

4. When the fryer is heated, dip the fish in the batter and then dip it into the bread crumbs.

5. Fry for a few minutes until golden brown (4-5 minutes).

6. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with cold boiled potato salad, mixed with parsley and honey mustard mayonnaise or classic potato chips.

 

Mains

Grandma’s Easter Lamb

Baking an Easter Lamb is a beautiful tradition in Bulgaria…

I remember as a child my grandparents and my parents preparing each year this meal, but I have hardly ever realised that it is based on my grandmother’s own recipe or was it passed by from generation to generation I really don’t know.

What warms my heart is that using her recipe I have something inherited from her, something precious and important that I can cherish and treasure, that will stay with me forever.

The lamb, cooked following her recipe is indeed exceptionally delicious and moist, well baked and falling into pieces of pure delight.

Ingredients

  • 1kg lamb chops
  • 1l tomato paste (liquid not thick)
  • 1tbsp of plain flour
  • 1tbsp red pepper powder
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • A bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • A bunch of fresh lovage leaves

 

Method

1. Start by preparing the marinate sauce for the meat. Mix in a deep bawl the oil, the tomato paste, the  red and black pepper, plus the salt and the flour. Deep each piece of the meat in the marinate sauce and arrange on a flat oven tray for backing. Once all meat pieces have been dipped into the sauce, spread any remaining marinate pouring over the lamb. In-between each lamp piece tuck generously mint and lovage fresh leaves. Cover the tray with backing foil.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C and bake the lamb tray for 1hour.

3. Decrease the oven heat to 150C and bake the lamb for one more hour.

4. Uncover the lamb by removing the foil and bake for an additional one hour until the meat is well baked.