Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Sunday Feast: with Roast Potatoes, Nut Roast and Bread Sauce

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all I eat these days is roasts, seeing as this is the second post on the subject in the space of three. What can I say, I’m a big fan of tradition and this is one of the best. On this occasion I decided to tart up the more basic roast that I am accustomed to making, mainly because I wanted to impress some new friends.

To do this I bought one massive chicken that virtually filled the whole oven, and as well as serving my customary honey roast parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes and greens, I attempted proper roast potatoes, for the first time ever I might add, bread sauce, pigs in blankets and my super-duper tasty nut roast.

This week I took the plunge and bought my first ever food magazine. I really can’t resist a Christmas theme, and the December issue of Good Food certainly delivered. It was from here I found the Roast Potato recipe, which was surprisingly simple, and delivered on flavour and colour, with a deliciously fluffy interior incased in a golden crispy shell.

-For the Roast Potatoes-
Adapted from the Good Food Magazine
Serves 8
2.5kg roasting potatoes, peeled, and larger potatoes halved or quartered
1 tbsp plain flour
150ml (approx) vegetable oil
2 tbsp sunflower oil
  1. Tip the potatoes into a large pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Boil for 6 minutes exactly, then drain in a colander and allow to steam dry for a few minutes. Toss in the colander to biff up the sides.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl, sprinkle over the flour and toss to combine. Pour over around half the vegetable oil and toss to coat.
  3. When ready, preheat the oven to 200C. Pour the remaining vegetable oil and the sunflower oil into a baking tray, and put into the oven to heat the oil for around 15 minutes.
  4. Carefully add the potatoes and roast for 25 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, increase the oven to 220C, turn over the potatoes and return to the oven for a further 40 minutes until gold and crisp.
You may think its more suited to your Christmas Day turkey but the home made bread sauce made a welcome accompaniment to our chicken. This hugely simple recipe is from the most recent episode of Saturday Kitchen and can be found HERE (as can the recipe I followed for the Roast Chicken).

My nut roast has been a firm favourite since I discovered it, I think in an old copy of Waitrose magazine, a few years back. It’s the only nut roast I’ve ever made or even tried, and its far from the bland dry nut roast that is the stuff of veggie legends. This nut roast is sweet and nutty and cheesy and moist and basically YUM. I serve it as an alternative stuffing, but would be happy to have it in place of meat any day.

-For the Nut Roast-
Serves 6-8
1 chopped onion
2 carrots, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
large handful mushrooms, chopped
175g cooked brown rice
115g brown bread crumbs
55g finely chopped almonds
55g finely chopped brazil nuts
115g grated cheddar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  1. Fry the onion, carrot and garlic in a knob of butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, bread, nuts, cheese, eggs and herbs and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake in a greased tin or Pyrex dish at 180C for one hour.
The whole thing may have taken four hours to make, and I didn’t half need those glasses of wine come serving time, but the excellent company, yummy noises and a Scrabble themed Thank You made it all worth while. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Pappardelle

Sadly, I don’t always get on with Nigella’s recipes, so I approached this Butternut Squash Pappardelle with a little trepidation. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried; Nigella excelled her self with this sweet and salty comfort dish, that looks beautifully Autumnal too. 

Serves 4 to 6
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes
100g pine nuts
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
125g soft blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp paprika
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp red wine (Nigella uses Marsala but wine is cheaper)
125ml water
500g pappardelle
  1. Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan (with a lid), and fry the onions. Once they have become golden, add the paprika.
  2. Add the butternut squash and butter, and stir everything together. Then add the wine and water. Bring to a bubble, put on the lid, and simmer for about 20 minutes until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until scorched, and turn out onto a plate to cool.
  4. When the sauce is ready season to taste and remove from the heat.
  5. Cook the pappardelle according to the packet instructions. Give the sauce the odd stir whilst you are doing this. Reserve a little of the pasta water before draining.
  6. Tip the drained pasta into the sauce and combine. If the sauce is too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water.
  7. Crumble over the cheese, half the pine nuts and half the sage and gently combine.
  8. Serve, and sprinkle over the rest of the sage and pine nuts. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Simplest Sunday Roast

I live for Sunday Roasts. I would happily travel the three and a half hour journey home just to eat my Mum’s roast potatoes (as I did last weekend), and there’s nothing better then a long lazy lunch followed by Sunday papers and TV – Downton Abbey anyone?

But all that boiling and basting and roasting can seem a little bit daunting, especially when all you want to do is curl up under the blanket in front of the fire. That is until you invest in a little bottle of Maggi liquid seasoning, just shake it on the chicken, rub it all over, and then sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Pop it in the oven for the prescribed time and let it do its thing. The result? Deliciously crispy and flavoursome skin.

I serve my chicken with caramelized roasted root vegetables and buttered greens, and a simple gravy made from the pan juices.

To make the Roasted Vegetables…
Serves 2
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and cut into slices lengthways
2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into slices lengthways
6 baby potatoes, halved
½ red onion, sliced
1 tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp mustard
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat the oven to hot. Heat the oil in a deep ovenproof frying pan, and cook the carrots, parsnips onion and potato, turning occasionally, until lightly browned.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the garlic, honey, mustard and rosemary and stir.
  3. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

Wishing you all a belated Happy Halloween!! I hope you had the most gorgeously ghoulish of times. I ended up working on the actual night, but managed to attend a Zombie party and dress up as the Solar System over the weekend. And I got in to the spirit by baking and decorating some creepy cupcakes to celebrate.

For the teeth cupcakes I made pink buttercream and attached some sweet toothy accessories, for the devil cupcakes I fashioned devil horns and tails from ready made icing and placed on to more coloured buttercream, and my friend Rose put together some fantastically scary spiders using more of the coloured readymade icing. 

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