Mushroom Risotto

My new favourite kind of risotto. I’ve made this before but without dried mushrooms, and they REALLY make this good. You must soak dried mushrooms before using them, which means you get an extra lovely mushrooms stock to use in the risotto which makes it incredibly savoury and mushroomy and yum.

It might be a bit of a faff to make for brunch but you can certainly enjoy the leftovers or make ahead of time. It really is very good with a poached egg on top, I also made some crispy proscuitto too to serve (just put proscuitto in a very hot frying pan with no oil and cook until crisp) but you can leave both off if you’re veggie/vegan.

Recipe after the jump!

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Slow Cooker Classic Beef Bourguignon

I love a beef bourguignon. Have you ever seen the film Julie & Julia? The main character makes a beef bourguignon in that that literally cooks for 24 hours. It’s a bit overkill, but I do believe in giving this dish as long as you possibly have to cook, and using lots and lots of good French wine.

It tastes like luxury but isn’t expensive at all to make. Meat-wise you can use any old cheap stewing steak, as it cooks so long that it will be really tender by the time you’re finished. Don’t invest too hard in the wine as well, just buy the best you can afford. It’s not really a veggie friendly dish, but if you wanted to have a go then you could take out the meat completely and step up with the mushrooms.

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Lentils Vertes And Heck! Sausage Casserole

To be perfectly honest I thought lentils vertes were the same thing as green lentils. Who knew they’re actually not? Turns out, me. When I got them home and compared them to my other green lentils. Quel dommage. No harm done though as I’d bought them to go in a sausage stew, after some rapid googling I’ve discovered they’re actually a more PREMIUM lentil ooooh (explains why they were twice the price of the others) and are exceptional in stews so no skin off my nez.

I’ll stop with the French puns now, sorry. Lots of other lentil and sausage casserole / stew (is there a difference?) recipes place the sausages lovingly on top of the lentils but this felt a bit dull to me, so I took the sausages from their casing and rolled them into effectively meatballs, so they could become more part of the stew.

This wasn’t exactly summer food, I should note. But I’m a bit sick of halloumi salads or griddled meats and fancied something a bit more comforting that wasn’t a curry. It’s a bit of a nightmare knowing what to eat in this heatwave, let’s be honest. Depending on your timing you don’t need to put this in the oven if you can’t bear having it on in this heat, you can just bubble it away on the hob for 30-40 mins until the lentils are done.

Recipe after the jump!

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Butternut Squash, Kale Bean and Chorizo Stew

Feeing hot hot hot! I’ve really enjoyed the heatwave so far but now my birthday is done I’m starting to crave jumpers, drizzle and Christmas. Anyone else?

I made this stew as a bit of an antidote to the many pieces of BBQed meat we’ve had recently. Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes you just want something vegetabley. If you’re a long time reader (cough, stalker) of my blog you’ll realise I’m obsessed with butternut squash and love thinking of new ways to cook with it, so this was my go-to base for this yummy stew.

Chop your squash up BIG for best results and make sure you use a decent chorizo with a bit of character, not those bland ones. Beans wise I went for a tin of mixed taco beans from Tesco which come in a spiced sauce, but you can use any you like and just add more chopped tomatoes if needed. And obviously if you’re veggie, leave out the chorizo!

Recipe after the jump!

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Smoked Haddock and Asparagus Carbonara

I was sceptical about this one, but it actually turned out really delicious. I don’t do much with smoked fish apart from risotto (see here) but on a bit of a whim and a craving for pasta, I decided to give this a try one tired Friday night. I like to make ‘easy’ things on a Friday without too much fuss, and I’m not going to lie this was a little bit more fuss than I would have liked but definitely worth the end result.

The rich carbonara sauce carries the flavour of the fish perfectly, especially when you use the milk the fish is cooked in. Make sure you add your asparagus right at the end as mine got a little bit over cooked.

I did use some bacon on top just to up the saltiness (in lieu of not using much Parmesan in the sauce) but you can leave both that and the Parmesan out if pescatarian.

Recipe after the jump!

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Colcannon with Smoked Haddock and Pancetta

Happy St. Patrick’s day! I have to be honest, I don’t think I’d actually eaten colcannon until I made this recipe, but now I’m HOOKED. It’s not really healthy, what with all the cream and butter, but if you’re in the mood for treating yourself once in a while this is a really great way to indulge.

It was my first time using Albert Bartlett Elfe potatoes too, which I found in Lidl the other week. I’m a keen fan of their Rooster potatoes, they’re so consistent. These took a while to cook, maybe a little longer than a rooster, but mashed beautifully.

I was wondering what to eat this with and then found some smoked haddock fillets in my freezer. I usually keep these for risottos, soups or fish pies rather than eat as fillets, but I thought, what the heck. Let’s eat it as a fillet.

At first I was going to add a sauce but I was in two minds about what it would be. With no white wine in the house (sadly) the only other option would have been a creamy sauce which would have been a bit overkill with the mash. If I made it again, I’d maybe include a buttery white wine sauce just poured over the fish but honestly this was delicious just as it was.


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Healing and Tasty Chicken Noodle Soup

I might be the only person I know that actually makes their own soup when they’re ill. I do get bored if I have to rest up, so doing a bit of cooking in the middle of the day is a welcome mindless activity.

Anyway onto the goods. You can use any vegetables in this but I like to have something green (feels extra healing) like cabbage or pak choi, some left over chicken is essential and I like to throw in an egg for extra protein. Sup up and rest.

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Butternut Squash Lentil and Spinach Curry

A lovely cheap dish here, inspired by a huge butternut squash I found in Lidl that was too big for the cupboard. Honestly, it was almost obscene! Anyway you’ll just need a squash, an onion, red lentils, canned tomatoes, frozen spinach and some beans (optional). Most of which you’ll probably have in your cupboard/freezer anyway. Oh and spices to get the curry taste but if you make curry regularly you’ll probably have those too. I had a proper dilly dally about whether to put coconut milk in this as the texture had gone quite creamy with the lentils anyway. In the end I went for without, but I think if you wanted to make it a bit more rich it would be a good addition.

We are trying to save up a bit in February so expect to see a fair few more budget-friendly posts. We don’t spend that much on food generally but it always helps to save where you can! Lentils are a great option for this because they’re super cheap, super filling and SUPER good for you. Low fat, high protein and they take on any flavour you give them. If you don’t already love lentils, nows the time to start!

I ate this with rice and naan but it’s just as good by itself. Recipe after the jump!

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Comforting Cheesy Broccoli, Cauliflower and Leek bake

Doesn’t this just look like a hug on a plate? I absolutely love making this comforting bake, it’s so delicious and warming on a cold winters night.

I’ve used macaroni to bulk it out but if you’re looking for low-carb you can just use the vegetables. I also add pancetta but this is completely optional. Make sure you do have some good cheddar as the sauce is the star of the show!!


 

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Creamy Oozy Carbonara

Pasta. Crispy bacon. Salty cheese. Smooth, silky creamy sauce. Are you salivating yet? Carbonara has to be my most favourite comfort food. YUM.

It’s actually taken me years to like it, I couldn’t get over the semi raw egg. So I started making it egg-free (just cream), and then slowly I came around to it, realising you need the egg to thicken it up and get that gorgeous, glossy sauce.

I’m a bit of a purist about it now – I won’t have it unless it’s spaghetti or linguine, these penne versions of it don’t cut it for me, I think you need the long strands of pasta to distribute the sauce properly. That said, if you’re into that kind of thing, this recipe works with any pasta shape.

Be liberal with the cheese, but make sure to eschew any extra salt, as parmesan or pecorino tend to be very salty in themselves, as is the bacon, and this dish can very easily be over seasoned as a result. Go nuts with the black pepper though, it’s essential.

 

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