Ribollita

 

This is just the job to warm you up on a freezing cold day – my last post was for a delicious comforting meaty stew however my good friend Liz has asked me for a vegetarian option and I think this would give a beef stew a good run for it’s money any day! One of the nice things about this dish is it is so quick to make plus it is a wonderful way of turning what are pretty much staple ingredients into a really tasty and wholesome meal.  The name Ribollita literally means “reboiled”, in fact an authentic Ribollita takes about three days to taste its best –  it was a way for thrifty Tuscan cooks to use leftover vegetables, bread and beans from the week.

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Simple Beef Stew

Beat the cold weather by cozying up to a bowl of this hearty beef stew. Rich, warm, delicious and simple to make. With a horrible cold spell forecast this week I will be making this using the slow cooker –  prepare  in the evening, leave in the fridge overnight, take out first thing the next morning(to take the chill out of it) and after half an hour or so put it in the slow cooker on Medium for 6-8 hours. Job done, dinner made, the feeling of freedom is wonderful and you can pat yourself on the back for being totally ahead of the game! No matter what time anyone comes in that evening they can have a piping hot dinner – sometimes I add in a few boiled potatoes at the end of the cooking time to make a complete meal of it plus they soak up some of the juices and go all soft and yummy!

PS: The instructions below are for a slow cooker however to cook in a conventional oven, just increase the amount of stock to 800ml and cook at 160°C / 350°F  for 2½ to 3 hours or until the meat is tender.

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Lamb Tagine

This lamb tagine is full of delicious rich flavours from the combination of succulent, sweet lamb, spices and fruit. It is so simple and is a great dish if you are having friends over as it has a richer, more exotic flavour than your normal beef stew. The dish originates from Morocco where it would be cooked slowly in a traditional ceramic or clay dish called a tagine. I am currently bonding big-time with my Slow Cooker – it buys me so much time and freedom and I cannot recommend it enough. This dish is one of my favourites done in the Slow Cooker (Crockpot) – the recipe is the same whether it is cooked in the oven or in the Slow Cooker so instructions for both are below.  The only hassle can be dicing the lamb but it is so worth it!

(recipe is adapted from one in the Avoca Cookbook No.2) Continue reading

Slow January!

 

Happy New Year to you all – this is my first post of 2018 as I am doing ‘slow’ January and easing myself into the new year. January is always such a long depressing month after all the sparkle, fun and wonderful overindulgence in December! And to make it worse everywhere you look there are articles or programmes about diets and punishing exercise regimes to make it even harder! January should be about nurturing and looking after yourself – eating real food, moving a bit more, getting some proper sleep, perhaps planning a holiday but overall being good to yourself. Think of it as your launchpad for  the year. Continue reading

Turkey & Leek pie

 

This pie is a must-have at Christmas in our house. Over the years we have developed a tradition whereby we have Christmas dinner No.1 which is the traditional turkey, ham, potatoes roasted in goose fat, stuffing, veg, pigs in blankets and gravy, on St Stephens Day we have Christmas dinner No. 2  which is more or less the same with freshly cooked roast potatoes and different veg  which I enjoy even more than dinner on Christmas Day! ) and then we have Christmas dinner No.3 which is the Turkey Pie. My adult children now insist that we stick to this routine and no matter what they have on they all manage to be here for these 3 dinners ! It is a nice way to extend Christmas to be honest and for us all to have dinner together. The pie in particular is a really nice change and a great way to use up leftover cooked meat – any mixture of turkey and / or ham can be used and of course this pie can be made anytime with cooked chicken. Happy Christmas to you all and happy cooking in 2018! x

 

Serves 4-6

Approx. 30 minutes prep & 45 minutes in the oven

Ingredients

50g butter plus extra for greasing
1 onion sliced
1 large leek, trimmed & sliced
250g button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon plain flour
250ml chicken stock
100ml cream
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
900g cooked turkey cut into chunks(or mixture of ham, turkey or chicken)
200/225g ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg lightly beaten
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

 

How to make it!

  • Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5
  • Heat the butter in a sauté pan
  • Add the onion, garlic, leek and mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened but not coloured
  • Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously
  • Gradually pour the stock into the pan followed by the cream, stirring until smooth after each addition
  • Add the bay leaf, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally
  • Stir in the parsley, season to taste and set aside to cool.
  • Cover the sauce with a buttered circle of non-stick parchment paper to prevent a skin forming
  • Place the cooked turkey / meat in a 1.75L (3 pint) pie dish and ladle over the sauce
  • Stir gently to combine.
  • Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 0.5cm/¼cm on a lightly floured surface to fit the top of the pie dish making sure that it is large enough to hang over the edges like a ‘blanket’.
  • Place the pastry lid on top of the pie, trimming it down to fit and brush around the edges with a little water to help it stick, then press down along the sides to seal.
  • Cut a small slit in the pastry lid to allow the steam to escape
  • Cut out a few decorative pastry leaves to put in the centre of the pastry lid.(optional)
  • Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry is nicely puffed up and golden brown.

Serve with some creamy mashed potato and enjoy!

Casserole Roast Chicken

Roast chicken with roast potatoes, stuffing and gravy is without doubt one of the most popular dinners in our house. Cooking roast chicken used to freak me out a bit, I don’t know why but I always thought of it as a complicated dinner. Then I came across this simple and foolproof one-pot method which absolutely rocks. I discovered it when I was in Ballymaloe House (on a 2-day course which I was so lucky to win as a prize!) a few years ago. So no roasting tray, racks, cooking bags etc – it just cooks in the one pot in which all the juices collect and from which you can make your gravy.  So no need to fear cooking roast chicken any more – if you haven’t done it before give this a try and you won’t look back.   Continue reading

Rosemary & Garlic Potatoes

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Potatoes are something that I have to say I can really take or leave at this stage of my life. I am no longer interested and no longer need a big plate of ‘spuds’ !  Having said that I still have to cook them for dinner (as a dinner without a spud is not a dinner where Mr HFrTea is concerned!). This recipe is one I have been using for as long as I can remember. It is one of my favourite ways to cook (and eat) potatoes, easy, quick, needs no minding when in the oven and of course delicious. Continue reading

Curry in a hurry!

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There are few things that bring a little whoop of joy to my heart as much as when those magic words “that was soooo nice” are uttered at the dinner table. It makes all the time and effort that goes into planning and preparing a meal worthwhile. This high praise was given to the dish that I am sharing with you this week. The amazing thing about this dish is that it is one of the healthiest, leanest dinners that I cook. Continue reading

Feta Stuffed Butternut Squash


Feta & Butternut Squash

It’s all about green, white and gold today given the day that is in it, it feels like the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show support for our ‘boys in green’ as they play France in the Euros. This dish is another one to put on your list for your meat-free dinner day. It is easy to make as well as healthy, wholesome and really tasty as it contains a great combination of flavours. Many of the ingredients are ones that you can have in your store cupboard. Butternut Squash for example has a great shelf life – this particular one was in my vegetable drawer for at least a month! Feta cheese is also something you can have in your fridge as it has a long shelf life once unopened. To use the rest of a packet of feta you could make this Green Pea & Feta Cheese Omelette the next day. The other ingredients i.e. onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes in oil would always be staples in my kitchen with the only ingredient that I might need to buy being the fresh mint.

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40/50 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
½ – 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped
80g / 3oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
100g / 4oz feta cheese, lightly crumbled
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400° F / Gas 6

  • Prepare the butternut squash by cutting it in half lengthways and scooping out the seeds with a spoon
  • Place the squash on a non-stick baking tray (or a tray lined with baking paper)
  • Roast in the oven for approx 30 minutes or until the butternut is soft, cooked through and has a slightly coloured surface (a larger squash will take longer to cook)
  • While the squash is in the oven heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.
  • Sweat over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta, mint, cooked onions and garlic together.
  • Remove the butternut squash from the oven when cooked and scoop out some of the flesh to make space for the filing. (Keep the flesh for another dish). Fill the squash with the stuffing mixture, then return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with some green veg.

PS – this reheats very well so you can enjoy it the next day as well !

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Spinach & Ricotta Polpetti

Spinach Polpette 1

This is a really easy, comforting and tasty vegetarian dish – I adore the combination of ricotta and spinach in just about anything particularly in filled pasta like tortellini or cannelloni. Plus you get a whopping portion of all that iron (so essential for all us women) and nutritional goodness in the spinach particularly when you use frozen spinach. The average bag of fresh spinach weighs approx. 180g and there is 400g of frozen spinach in this dish so you get the picture. This is good for you! Don’t be tempted to leave out the nutmeg, it really does add something special to the overall flavour of the dish. Continue reading