Moroccan Chicken Tagine.
Moroccan food and the flavours of North Africa are amongst my favourite cuisines and a regular dinner in our house is a chicken tagine.
Morocco is a fairly diverse country …
Moroccan Chicken Tagine.
Moroccan food and the flavours of North Africa are amongst my favourite cuisines and a regular dinner in our house is a chicken tagine.
Morocco is a fairly diverse country …
Every other week I roast a chicken either for a meal or to keep the family going in lunches and sandwiches.
Nothing goes to waste, right down to the carcass which is either used immediately to make stock or it goes into the freezer to be used later.
Occasionally, there’s enough leftover meat for a meal and when that happens one of my favourite ‘go to’ recipes is this easy chicken biryani. If you’re really well organised you can use the homemade stock from the carcass and add to the biryani!
This is a much simpler version than some of the elaborate Indian and Persian recipes for biryani which is very often served as a special dish at celebrations. Being simple doesn’t mean it’s less tasty and the addition of the roasted cauliflower adds an extra layer of delicious flavour and also packs in some extra health giving goodness. Traditionally chilli is not part of a biryani and the flavours in this recipe are not overly hot. For an extra kick, feel free to add some fresh chilli.
There’s very little prep involved and don’t forget if you’re short of time, get the veg prepped the night before to save time later.
This is the kind of dish I like for a quick mid week meal although I would also be happy to serve this up as part of a more special or elaborate meal. Elevate it to another level by sprinkling with toasted almonds and serving with mango or hot banana chutney and a raita.
Turkey leftovers are well loved in our house and with Christmas dinner over for another year, it’s time to make sure that all the meat is used up. Leftovers are one the things I love about Christmas food and there is something quite satisfying about stripping down the carcass and gathering any other little jewels that survived the festivities.
One of my favourite ways to use up some of the turkey is to make a biryani. I’m not particularly keen on adding cooked meat to a curry but but I do like adding it to rice dishes. And, of course, don’t forget to boil up the carcass to make some comforting turkey broth.
I’ve listed the spices needed for the recipe but you could easily adapt by using curry powder or curry paste. Just go with what you’ve got available rather than buying extra.
I Like to serve this with some spicy chutney and a raita.
Food waste is such a huge problem all year round and during the festive period 50,375 tonnes of food and drink is expected to be binned in Scotland alone. We’re all being enouraged to shop smart and save money simply by avoiding food waste.
Further information with recipes and tips on preventing food waste can be found at Love Food Hate Waste Scotland
Pumpkin is one of vegetables that signals a change of season in the kitchen. As the clocks move and we leave the lighter nights behind, the light and fresh dishes we’ve become accustomed to over the summer months are replaced with more hearty and robust meals.
It also means an abundance of home grown seasonal vegetables – along with the appearance of colourful beetroots, swiss chard, and kale and parsnips, pumpkins bring some much needed brightness to darker days.
Pumpkin is one of my regulars in these hearty and satisfying meals as it’s so versatile and nourishing and I love to roast it with other ingredients or use it in soups and casseroles.
There’s such a great selection available at this time time of year and they all have great flavour. Don’t be put off by the tough skin, pumpkin can be roasted with the skin on and then it’s easily removed once cooked.
This sausage and pumpkin recipe is one of my favourite autumn comfort food meals and is great for limiting the amount of washing up as it’s all cooked in one pan. I used Red Kuri pumpkin for this recipe but any squash or pumpkin will work and it’s also a good way to use up any leftover Halloween pumpkin.
Summer food should sing of vibrant colours and the freshest of flavours. British produce is at it’s best and seasonal vegetables like asparagus, beetroot, tomatoes, courgettes, runner beans and asparagus offer a delicious change from winter and early spring offerings. The sweetest of strawberries have made an appearance, gooseberries, cherries and in my own garden there’s an enormous harvest of rhubarb to be cooked up. Although herbs are available in the supermarkets all year round, my own home grown herbs are lush and plentiful.
As the weather gets warmer I’m drawn to lighter food, usually with ingredients that can be brought together with the minimum of fuss but still deliver great flavours. Sunshine food at it’s best and hopefully to be enjoyed with some al fresco dining.
A whole chicken or fish, a tray of lamb chops or large steaks for slicing and sharing make for an easy meal and if marinated in advance with summer herbs will add lots of extra punchy summery flavours.
Over the summer months I usually cook a marinated chicken at least once a week and make the most of summer vegetable and salads by varying the flavours and sides each time.
This chicken with stuffed tomatoes is full of flavour and is delicious served with bread and a green salad.
Start the day before by marinating the chicken in some really flavorsome herbs.
I’m entering this recipe in the Recipe of the Week blog challenge by Emily Leary at A Mummy Too.
Shepherd’s Pie; a great comfort food, was traditionally made with the leftover meat from Sundays roast lamb and would be served up for dinner on Monday.
The meat would be minced and my mother talks of also using leftover vegetables by mincing them with the meat to make the base for the pie.
Mincing leftover cooked lamb makes the best shepherds pie.
This is an excellent way to ensure that food is not being wasted and it’s a tradition I’ve carried on although I sometimes freeze the meat for using later. Freeze the remaining roast whole and mince when just prior to making the shepherd’s pie.
In the absence of leftover cooked meat it’s fine to use lamb mince. If using cooked meat it can be chopped if you don’t have a mincer.
This is the recipe my mother always used and as shepherd’s pie was always a favourite dinner for me when I was a child, I still use the same recipe today. Don’t be put off by the addition of tomato ketchup. It adds essential flavour to the base and it’s an ingredient I’ve noticed some top chefs using in pies and meatloaves.
Haggis and Burns Night – a celebration of the life of Robert Burns and there must be few foods that bring people together to celebrate, share food and enjoy an entertaining night like haggis does. Thanks to the Bard penning ‘To a Haggis’ over the years it has become a much loved dish at home and abroad.
One wonders what Burns himself would make of the worldwide celebrations and the iconic status that haggis enjoys as Scotland’s national dish. Of course when Rabbie ate his haggis back in 1786 it would not have been served in the style it enjoys today.
Haggis is synonymous with Burns suppers but as a food, how we eat haggis has undergone some change in recent years. No longer just served in traditional way with neeps and tatties on the side, haggis is up there as the star attraction in many recipes. Indeed, so much so that it has it’s own bible written by Scotland’s own queen of haggis, Jo Macsween, a second generation Edinburgh haggis producer.
There are endless possibilities to use it as an ingredient and perusing through some popular recipes it is obviously an alternative to another Scottish favourite – mince.
When I was asked by About Scotland and Scotmid to come up with a recipe using haggis, I wanted it to be a twist on the usual haggis meal but still using the traditional ingredients. This recipe uses neeps and tatties but also includes some other Scottish favourites, scallops and whisky.
Preheat the oven to 220C/180 Fan Gas 7
2 large potatoes and half a small swede – sliced into equal length chips. Rapeseed or olive oil. 1 small leek – finely chopped. Approx 50g butter. 4 slices of haggis. 4 scallops – scallops are usually available shucked, trimmed and ready to cook. 30ml Scotch Whisky. 75ml Ginger wine ( I used Crabbies Green Ginger) 1 tsp coarsley crushed green or black peppercorns. 75ml double cream
Tatties and swede chips. Par boil the potatoes and swede for 5 mins, drain and dry. Transfer to an oven tray, add 1-2 tbsp of oil and mix to ensure the chips are well coated. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and cook for 20 minutes or until chips are crisp and slightly golden.
Leek. Heat the butter in a medium size pan, add the leek and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Keep the pan for making the sauce.
Haggis. Cook the haggis according to the instructions on the pack.
Scallops – I coated the scallops in oil and cooked on a griddle pan, over a medium to high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side. If using a frying pan, heat 1-2 tbsp oil and cook the scallops for the same time.
Sauce -Add the whisky to the pan and set alight. Add the ginger wine and crushed peppercorns. Reheat, stir in the cream and heat gently for 1 minute.
Top the slices of haggis with a spoonful of leeks and place a scallop on top. drizzle over the whisky and ginger wine sauce and serve with the tatties and neeps chips on the side.
Find out more about Scottish food and drink and the history of Robert Burns at www.scotland.org
Images- Whisky and Haggis. Thanks to Andrew Ramsay of Ramsay of Carluke for permission to use this image.
Griddle Pan – The griddle pan featured in this post was provided by Stellar Cookware.
If like me, you’re a Great British Bake Off Fan then last weeks programme might have got you thinking about your pie making skills, or in my case, the lack of them. I have to put my hands up and say pastry is probably my weakest cooking skill and never mind the hot water pastry, I’ve never even made a savoury meat pie. Not that we’ve gone hungry as a result of my pastry failures, it’s just that I’ve always found an excuse not to make pastry or found someone else to make it for me. And, lets not forget that the Queen of Bake Off, Mary Berry has previously told us that it’s okay to use shop bought pastry.
Not for the contestants though and it was back to the 19th century and Victorian times for them with the challenge of making a raised game pie. No such thing as humble pie in those days; beautifully made pies pies with fluted edges and intricate ornate decorations on top were seen a middle class status symbol. Pie was everything in Victorian times, the decorations on top of the pie being as important as fillings.
Venison featured in most of the pies with some adding pigeon, wild boar, partridge guinea fowl and duck, great strong flavours and combinations along with classic seasonings such as juniper, sage and mixed herbs. But what did the judges of make of their efforts and were there any soggy bottoms in the kitchen?
The thickness of the pastry was an issue for a some, meat was tough and one pie was slightly burnt around the edges. But on the whole there was praise for most especially with the pie fillings and it was interesting to see the range of tins being used to bake the pies.
But what makes the perfect pie and what are the secrets to achieving star baker with your bake?
Despite my lack of domestic goddess skills in pie making, I am lucky that my friend Robert Corrigan, owner of Mr C’s Hand-Crafted Pies is an expert and also an award winning pie maker. He was more than happy to have a chat to give some tips for baking the perfect pies.
It was his need for a faster and more efficient way to produce his pies, that led to the development of the modern pie tins used in last week’s Bake Off programme. Robert approached Birmingham based bakeware company Silverwood with his interpretation of Victorian game pie moulds and this cleverly designed range is the result. Built to last from silver-anodised aluminium for even heat distribution and easy clean-up, they won’t rust, blister or peel and their shape and construction ensure a lovely, even bake every time.
But the unique feature that makes them so perfect for traditional raised pies is the removable ‘walls’, which lift away to uncover the part-cooked pie for all-round egg washing, before returning to the oven for final browning. This means that the sides of your pies, as well as the lids, can have that lovely, shiny golden glaze so characteristic of traditional British savoury pies.
The range is now available from Lakeland UK
I caught up with Robert earlier this week to check out the secrets to becoming star baker when it comes to pies.
Game features in some of the pie fillings that Robert produces but over the past 7 years his range has grown to include mutton with capers, pork and chorizo, and pork pancetta and leek. He now supplies some of the countries high end food and farm shops including Fortnum and Mason in London.
So, what is the secret to making a top class pie? If you’ve ever wondered , this short video from Robert shows some of the techniques he uses. Doesn’t he make it look so simple ?
Good pastry is essential for a raised pie and hot water pastry is ideal as it can be kneaded and this develops the gluten, making it easier to mould in the tin and for the essential decorations on top. Robert uses Italian lard in his pastry, much preferable to British lard as it melts at a lower temperature, giving that melt in the mouth texture that you would expect from a quality pie. Unfortunately the Italian lard isn’t available in British shops so in the following recipes, that Robert developed for Lakeland he suggests as mix of lard, butter and sunflower oil.
Next essential is the thickness of the pastry; too thick is a problem and of course a pie needs to hold it’s filling with no leakages, too thin and you have a problem. For perfection, get the tape measure out as 7mm is the recommended thickness.
Then there’s the all important filling and the baking. The Bake Off contestants managed to get the quantity of filling just right but one difficulty seemed to be ensuring the meat was cooked but not overcooking the pastry. For a crisp crust the pie needs to bakes at a high temperature to start, normally 200C and then reduced to around 180C to ensure the meat is not overcooked and the pastry is not burned. 64C was the temperature they aimed for on Bake Off but Robert suggests achieving an internal temperature of 84C.
Time was obviously an issue in the Bake Off kitchen as for a perfect pie finish Robert recommends a much slower approach, which to me seems sensible if you’re making at home.
Here are some of those tips that will make the perfect pie.
Of course his recipes are top secret but since helping develop the new tins, robert has created a number of new recipes and these can be viewed on the lakeland app and website. Recipe links on images below.
The popularity of mutton has declined over the years and it’s certainly not obvious on any of the butcher shops I have visited in the West of Scotland. Certainly don’t expect to find it the supermarkets but it is easily available at farmers markets and from farm shops and suppliers. There are many reasons for the decline in popularity, including, intensive farming and lifestyle changes over the past 40 to 60 years. But, mutton is regaining it’s well deserved place on the countries dinner tables and to encourage this, a mutton renaissance campaign was launched by HRH Prince of Wales in 2004.
Mutton, for those who don’t know, is meat from a sheep over the age of two years and just like beef is more flavoursome than veal, mutton has a more depth of flavour than spring lamb.
Peelham have been been running their organic farm at Fouldon in Berwickshire for over 25 years and rear free range, pasture grazed, pure bred Llyen and Llyen cross, on the upland coastal pastures. The mutton is dry aged for two weeks and has a unique slightly salty flavour and a succulent texture. Having cooked with mutton shoulder, I was struck by just how tender the meat was after slow cooking.
The usual cuts are available with mutton and Peelham stock the full range, including, leg, mince, chops and mutton bones, much sought after these days for broths and stocks. Being a lover of cheaper cuts for slow cooking, I chose mutton shoulder and it was ideal for this recipe.
The sharper your knife, the less you cry – so says the name of a book by American cook and author Kathleen Flinn, writing about her experience at the Cordon Bleu Cook School in Paris. It is true that you’re more likely to injure yourself using a knife that needs to be sharpened than using a good sharp knife. My knife collection has a few sharp knives but a recent knife skills class at The Cook School Scotland has made me realise that a rethink is required. Not that there’s a need to invest in a new set of expensive sharp knives, just that I learned, less is more.
The Knife Skills class is a new addition to the wide range of classes at The Cook School Scotland and although I’ve been cooking for many years, it was a chance to brush up my skills and learn some new techniques. The class was a clever mix of demonstrations from Head Chef Andy Beattie along with hands on practice and cooking. Filleting, boning, spatchcocking, slicing and chopping were all covered and each stage involved cooking the prepped produce and preparing separate side dishes using a range of different knife and cooking skills.
First under the knife was sea bream for filleting and Chef Andy made the process look very easy. Filleting fish was one of those skills that I had let slip, preferring to leave it to the fishmonger. Instructions also included, pin boning, skinning and scaling. Andy also demonstrated how to fillet flat fish and this is now something I will feel confident about doing in the future.
A sharp filleting knife and clear instructions made the task so much simpler and I was rather pleased with my effort.
After filleting the bream was cured with flavours of fennel, tarragon and pastis to be served with a delcious fennel salad.
Citrus Cured Sea Bream with fennel and orange salad- Serves 4
2 wild gilthead bream. Cure – 2 lemons. 2 limes. 200g sea salt. 400g sugar. 5g fennel seeds. 10 tarragon sprigs. 100ml Pastis.
Fillet pin bone and skin the fish. Finely grate the zest of the citrus fruit and combine with all the other cure ingredients. Lay the fillets on a tray, pour the cure over ensuring the fish is covered, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours. Wash off the cure with cold water, pat the fish dry with kitchen paper, wrap the fillets tightly in cling film and place back in the fridge.
Fennel Salad. 1 fennel bulb. 2 oranges. 10 sprigs dill. 100ml extra virgin olive oil.
Finely slice the fennel and place in ice cold water along with the juice of one of the lemons. Segment the orange, cut into small pieces and combine with oil and dill. Drain fennel, shake dry and toss in citrus dressing.
Finely slice the fish and serve with the fennel salad.
There was natural flow to the way the class was taught with the various knife skills and cooking techniques complementing each other. For instance,segmenting an orange was so easy with the correct knife and the kofta, made with lamb mince, included finely chopping several ingredients including fresh herbs and chef Andy stressed the importance of the correct knife action to prevent bruising the herbs and leaving the flavour on the chopping board. Accompanying the kofta’s was a podina, a spicy yoghurt based sauce and again this included more finely chopped ingredients.
Kofta with yoghurt podina – serves 4 500g lamb mince. 2tbsp coriander finely chopped. 2 tbsp mint leaves finely chopped. 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley finely chopped. 1/2 red onion finely chopped. 1/2 garlic clove finely chopped. 1/4 tsp ground cumin. 1/2 tsp sumac. 1 egg beaten. sea salt and black pepper.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well, season with salt and pepper. Take a small amount of the mix and fry to check the flavours and seasoning. Shape into the size you prefer and fry in a large frying pan on 3 sides until cooked. if the kofta’s are larger you may have to finish cooking in a medium oven – 175C.
For the podina – 200g Greek style yoghurt. 1 tsp fresh ginger finely grated. 1/2 red chilli deseeded and finely chopped. 1/4 red onion or 2 spring onions finely chopped. 3 tbsp coriander leaves finely chopped. 1 tbsp mint leaves finely chopped. Juice of 1 lime. Fish sauce (optional, salt can be used). 1/2 tsp caster sugar. Freshly ground black pepper.
Drain any liquid from the yoghurt and place in a mixing bowl with the ginger, chilli, onion, coriander and mint. The secret with this sauce is the balance, add the sugar and half of the lime juice with a dash of fish sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning. Chill until needed.
Pickling vegetables was also on the class agenda and again brought in a range of skills with different vegetables. They make a great accompaniment to the lamb kofta’s and are also ideal for serving with cold meats and other salads.
Slicing into similar sizes was essential before adding salt to cure and drain excess liquid from the vegetables.
The pickled vegetables made a great accompaniment to the lamb kofta’s and are also ideal for serving with cold meats and other salads.
Pickled Vegetables – Serves 4.
1 carrot, peeled and sliced in to batons. 1 stick of celery sliced into matchsticks. 1/2 cucumber deseeded and sliced into batons. 1/2 red onion sliced. 1/2 yellow pepper sliced. 1/2 head of fennel sliced. 100g sea salt. 100ml white wine vinegar.
Toss all the vegetables in salt and leave to cure and drain of their liquid in a colander for an hour. Thoroughly rinse in cold water. toss the vegetables in the vinegar and place in a sealed container. They will be ready to eat in an hour and will keep for up to a week.
Being able to bone and joint meat is a great skill for any home cook and if you’re interested in saving some money on the food shopping bill, it’s an essential. As you would expect, a sharp boning knife and a good demonstration makes the task a lot easier. This leg of lamb was quickly cut into a range of pieces, including the shank, leg steaks and chunks for casseroles. Of course, it also means no wastage as any leftover pieces can be minced and bones used for stock.
Jointed chicken pieces sold in the supermarkets are usually sold in packs of thighs and drumsticks, with the breasts and wings being sold separately. As this picture shows, jointing your own bird gives 8 pieces, thighs, drumsticks and 4 pieces from the breasts as they are divided into 2. The wings can also be used but Head Chef Andy’s tip is freeze the wings and after a few jointed birds, there’s enough for a plate of chicken wings. Alternatively, they can be used for stock along with any other leftover pieces. Once again, cheaper and no food waste.
Spatchcocking was also covered and this is something I do regularly with chicken and like jointing, it’s easier to cut into pieces for serving once the bird is cooked. It’s also ideal if you’re pressed for time as the bird cooks quicker. Of course, any bird can be spatchcocked and it was poussin we prepared and cooked during the class.
The knife skills class is one of a fantastic range of courses available at Cook School Scotland and dates for future courses are available. Other classes include Scottish Fish and Seafood, Simply Meat, Bread and Baking various classes covering world food. All the classes are held in the state of the art kitchen with staff and chef’s on hand to assist. The classes delivered in a way that ensures all participants, regardless of ability gain the maximum hands on experience and knowledge from the day. Full details of all calsses can be found on the school’s website
Disclaimer. I was invited as a guest of Cook School Scotland. I was not paid for this post or expected to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.