Lemon & chilli chicken lettuce wraps

This light lunch is perfect for when you don’t want to use your HexB on bread or a wrap for a sandwich. 
You’ll need a chicken breast sliced as thinly as you can, sliced onion, chopped chilli, garlic and coriander. Lemon juice, salt, pepper, two large lettuce leaves (I used romaine), and a tablespoon of extra light mayo for 1/2 syn (I used Aldi Bramwells). 

Dry fry the chicken, onion, garlic and chilli until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Throw in most of  the coriander, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a good grind of salt and pepper. Spoon into the lettuce leaves, drizzle with the mayo and scatter the rest of the coriander leaves over the top. Ready in 5 minutes although I bet I ate them in less! Delicious! 

Wild garlic butter

It’s that wild garlic time of year again. If you haven’t seen it, chances are you will have smelled its heady aroma if you’ve been anywhere remotely rural.

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Today at the park, we happened upon a nice patch of it, its delicate white flowers in full bloom. DD couldn’t resist having a nibble on a few leaves, but I had plans for the remaining few we had picked.

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You may remember last year I did a post called Four Ways with Wild Garlic, well this is my favourite wild garlic recipe. It also happens to be the quickest and simplest, yet undoubtedly the most versatile.

Very finely chopped 5 or 6 fresh wild garlic leaves and throw in a bowl with 150ml (or so, this definitely doesn’t have to be exact) of double cream and a large pinch of salt (we tend to use Pink Himalayan salt because of the mineral content).

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Whisk and whisk and whisk until the buttermilk separates from the butter. This will splatter so it’s a good idea to cover the Kitchen Aid, or whatever you’re using to whisk, with the guard and a clean tea towel for extra protection.

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Once the butter and buttermilk have separated, pour the mixture into a bowl lined with a tea towel or muslin and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You’ll end up with a delicious ball of green flecked garlic butter. 

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You can use it as it is, or you can put it on some greaseproof paper, roll it out into a sausage shape for easy slicing, and pop into the freezer for as and when you need it.

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It’s delicious on potatoes, for frying mushrooms, on bruschetta and kneaded into bread dough good rich, tasty garlic bread. The list is endless. Enjoy!

Monkfish with black olive tapanade

I picked up a couple of monkfish fillets the other day and wanted to try something a bit different with them…cue Jamie Oliver’s Monkfish with Black Olive Sauce.
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It’s an easy to follow recipe, using ingredients we usually have in anyway. He suggests pairing it with lemon mash, but I fancied something lighter so went for roasted mini hasselback potatoes with wild garlic butter, and did a simple salad using rocket, lettuce and baby chard from the garden, dressed with some of the excess juices from the olive sauce.
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It was delicious. Phoebe thought so too!
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Enjoy.

Steak…I seared it my way.

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Steak. One of the tastiest, most enjoyable indulgent pleasures, yet one of the most common culinary disaster zones. Here are my simple foolproof tips to avoid annihilating your favourite cut.

Firstly, choose your steak wisely. Personally, I love a good sirloin. I like it relatively thick, and I always try to choose one with some marbling as the fat keeps the meat moist and adds a depth of flavour leaner cuts lack.

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I usually leave my steak out on the counter top all day on the day I plan to use it. This ensures it comes up to room temperature ready for cooking, and gives it a few more hours to mature.

Heat a dry, nonstick pan on the hob over a medium high heat. While the pan is warming, oil the steak and season with freshly milled salt and pepper.

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Put the oiled steak into the pan and cook for two or three minutes each side, depending on how thick it is and how you like it cooked. Don’t be tempted to keep checking it. Just put it in the pan and leave it be. The result should be seared, golden brown loveliness as so:

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Remove it from the pan, and place on a warm, but not hot, plate. Top with a knob of butter (I used the simple wild garlic butter I showed you in a previous post), and cover with tin foil.

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Now, let it rest. Simply let it sit there, finishing itself off, relaxing those meaty fibres and getting deliciously juicy.

After about six to eight minutes, serve your meaty masterpiece with whatever you fancy. I often top a Pho soup with it, but today fancied little roasted garlic chive and rosemary potatoes and an interesting salad.

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So to recap:
1) Buy a decent thickness of steak with some fat marbling.
2) Take out if the fridge the morning of the day you plan to eat it to allow it to come up to room temp, and mature a bit more.
3) Oil the steak not the pan.
4) Season well.
5) Sear in the pan without repeatedly turning it over.
6) Allow to rest wrapped in a foil blanket.

Enjoy.

Pre-pancake light supper

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Growing up, pancake day was always a lot of fun. My mum would make the best pancake mixture the night before, and let it rest in the fridge, ready for cooking up the next day. I remember each year my sister and I would ask if we could just have pancakes for dinner, and some years we succeeded! Either way, we’d end up sitting around the table watching one, or both, of our parents flipping those paper thin, golden disks of deliciousness. My dad was chief tosser in our house, and Sarah and I took great delight in the fact we could call him that one day a year without being banished to our rooms! Anyway, as much as I still adore pancakes I wanted to get some goodness in our tummies this evening before our carb and sugar laden treats.

Soup is a great way if getting lots of veggie and fruity goodness into Phoebe, so I simply roasted off a tray of baby vine and halved salad tomatoes, along with a leek, five or six cloves of garlic and a couple of small diced sweet potatoes.

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Once they were sliced, I seasoned with a teaspoon of cumin seeds, freshly ground black pepper and salt, and a glug of olive oil, before putting in the oven at 160oC for about an hour and fifteen minutes, turning occasionally.

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Once roasted, I added them to a pot of simmering stock (I suggest using veg or chicken) and whizzed up until smooth. If you want a really smooth soup then I’d recommend passing it through a sieve, but it really isn’t necessary. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. I served ours with a drizzle of double cream and some garlic chives. Delicious!

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Roasted butternut squash seeds

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After his smiling eyes, warm bear hugs and Assyrian accent, when I think about my Papa I always think about salted pumpkin seeds, and how he used to crack them open with his front teeth. It’s just one of those strange little  anomalies that made my Papa, Papa.
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I so often throw squash or pumpkin seeds away but I finally made time to roast some off. When I say made time, it was a couple of mins prep time, plus 15-20 mins roasting time.

Simply wash the seeds, dry them, then pile them up on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Season using whatever herbs or spices you fancy (I used garlic and herb salt), spread the into a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes at about 170oC. Delicious and nutritious!

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Dry them after washing

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My little helper couldn't wait to get stuck in!

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Ready to bake

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Snails pace ultra slow cooked leg of lamb.

So, to accompany my ultimate roast potatoes yesterday, I served up a whole, slow cooked leg of lamb which had been cooking for about nine hours in the slow cooker/crock pot.

I like my lamb either pink, or falling off the bone, and, as you can imagine, this fell firmly into the second category.

It was a huge leg, and I actually bartered with the butcher in Waitrose because I wasn’t prepared to pay what they wanted for it. I have no shame in telling you that after a bit of hustling back and forth I actually carried it away for an impressive £10! Chip off the old block me! My father is very proud!
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The first stage is dressing up the meat a little. Here’s what I used:
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Quarter the onion and set aside. Slice the garlic and cut the rosemary into little sprigs. Puncture the meat and push the garlic and rosemary inside the slits.
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Season with the salt and pepper, before massaging it with a little olive oil. Brown in it a frying pan to seal all those lovely juices in.
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When sealed, put it in the slow cooker, and return the frying pan to the heat. Add a good glug of red wine or port to the hot pan to de-glaze it and pick up all the caramelised flavour from the meat.
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Let the alcohol burn off for a minute or so before adding in some hot lamb stock. I simply used lamb oxo cubes on this occasion. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker on top of the meat.
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Pop the lid on and leave it to work its magic!
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Baste the lamb with the juices every couple of hours if you’re in (if not, don’t worry, it will turn out fine away), and a couple of hours before you’re ready to serve throw in some fresh mint if you’ve got it to hand.

Half an hour before serving drain the juices into a saucepan and reduce to intensify the flavour. Add some cornflour paste to thicken if you so desire.
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Turn the slow cooker off and leave the meat to rest while you put the finishing touches to the rest of the meal. At this point it’s likely to look something like this:
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Don’t panic. It’s meant to be falling off the bone. When you’re ready to serve simply pull a couple of forks through it to break up the meat and serve. Enjoy!
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