Archive for ‘Mains’

June 10, 2011

A New Favourite: BBQ Lemon Ginger Pork with Sweet Apples and Crushed Potatoes

How lucky we’ve been to have had lots of sunshine over the last months … and we’re only technically 10 days into summer … though technically it is raining and the big cloud looming over London is looking angry. I’m doggedly optimistic that it will blow away by tomorrow because, being the weekend it’s time to BBQ!

Max and I have already been busy barbecuing away on our tiny little terrace so I have a few upcoming entries. But first would you mind if I revisit one of my  favourite BBQ dishes? We originally made this BBQ Lemon Ginger Pork with Sweet Grilled Apples on a bed of Crushed Potatoes back in December when we were in Australia. Seeing it was then British Winter, I reckon it deserves a repost now it’s British Summer. It’s a very simple dish to make and can all be done on the BBQ or grill … even the crushed potato.

So follow the link for the recipe and give it a try … Max and I will certainly be having it again soon.

Sarah x.

March 7, 2011

Beef Cannelloni on a little Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck

Those that know me, have known me as a vegetarian for most of my life.  Until a year ago, the last time I’d eaten meat was when I was just eleven years old.  Back then I was seemingly more strong willed than I am today.  I was determined to stick with my new found vegetarianism.  But I knew that there was one dish that might tempt me, beef cannelloni. Ooh my.

As the smell wafted up from the family dinner table, the cannelloni made it’s best efforts to lure me. Somehow I held strong and stuck with my vegetables.

Clearly my determination has wavered in my adulthood and now I’m back on the meat eating side of the fence. So  a couple of weekends ago when M and I decided to have a classic movie night in, it seemed like a great reason to go to a little extra effort in the kitchen and reacquaint myself with the old favourite.

What a brilliant night in. The wine was plentiful and the cannelloni was scrumptious, not too rich as I didn’t make it with a white sauce. Perhaps slightly cheesily we continued the Italian theme in our classic movie selection … the fabulous William Wyler romantic comedy, Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregroy Peck.

It had us both in fits of tears and chuckles …  if you haven’t seen it, see it!


Beef Cannelloni


1 box dried cannelloni shells
A couple of handfuls of mushrooms, finely chopped (I used the chesnut variety)
1 small onion, finely chopped
400g lean minced beef
1 egg yolk
Pinch nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1/3 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter / olive oil
Tomato Sauce (see below)
1/2 cup Parmesan
salt and pepper
For the Tomato Sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
400g tin, chopped tomato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper


To make the filling:
Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in pan. Add onion and fry slowly until soft and just translucent. Don’t let it brown.
Add mushrooms and beef and continue cooking until beef is browned, stir occasionally so it won’t stick.
Add a little water to allow a little sauce to form. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Remove from heat and leave to cool a little.
Stir through egg yolk and parsley, leaving a little parsley to garnish later.
To make the Tomato Sauce:
Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in pan. Add garlic and onion and fry slowly until soft and just translucent. Don’t let it brown.
Add tomatoes and a little water. Let to simmer about 10 minutes. It’s good for the sauce to be on the runny side as it’s from here than the dried cannelloni will take the moisture to cook.
Season to taste. Add a little red wine vinegar to counter the sweetness of the tomatoes. Do this to taste.
To make the Cannelloni:
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Place a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the base of your tray to stop the cannelloni from sticking.
Fill the dry cannelloni shells with the filling mixture, you can pack them quite tightly. Pack them close together in the tray.
Cover shells with the tomato sauce.
Place in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
Garnish with lots of Parmesan cheese and the reserved chopped parsley.
Note: If you want to make it a little richer, add a layer of Mozzarella above the tomato sauce.

A Classic Style Beef Cannelloni
By Good Bite In
Published: March 7, 2011
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 25 min
Total time: 50 min

December 19, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Beef Daube Fights the Cold

Bit of a change of plan with French Fridays this week. Having just got back to UK from Australia we’ve been given a cold shock by the snow that’s engulfing London. Being that those of us cooking along to Dorie’s latest book have the choice of when to cook each dish this month I was thinking the Speculoos would have to be first. They are after all, one of my favourite Christmas treats. But as the snow prevailed and our central heating struggled, we made a switch to Dorie’s Go-to Beef Daube.

Beef Daube is a classic beef stew, slow cooked with lashings of red wine and Cognac. Due to our rather bare post-travel cupboards, we had to sub in extra carrots for parsnips, and extra onions for shallots. However, any hesitations about this were dismissed as soon as we opened the oven door; the smell was intense … the only problem was waiting the two and a half hours in needed in the oven.

Dorie's Go-to Beef Daube

We ate it with a crusty baguette, warmed in the oven and broken into thick hunks. The garlic, wine and cognac that belt out of this dish make it super warming and rich. The slow cooking gives the beef no choice but to melt in your mouth.

Beef Daube fights the cold

As we polished it off using the crusty bread to mop up the sauce, the snow started to fall once more.

Need I say more?


Coming Up next time on French Friday is ‘Speculoos’, really I am making them this time.  French Fridays with Dorie is a collection of people cooking along to Dorie Greenspan’s latest book. Feel like joining in, or making Beef Daube for yourself, then check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Pizza with Crispy Sage … Where’s the beer?

Piping hot, puffed up round the sides, nice and crispy base … homemade pizza joy in our flat last night! As it’s still round Halloween time I thought a Pumpkin Pizza was in order .. only I actually used butternut squash as there seemed to be a pumpkin shortage in South London … I guess that’s me being late for Halloween.

Pumpkin, Chicken, Feta and Crispy Sage ... mmmm

It might seem like a faff but pizza is such a great last minute dinner … it’s so simple yet it feels like such a treat. The brilliant thing about making your own pizza dough is that once you’ve made it you can freeze the dough in individual portions and then just pull them out of the freezer whenever you fancy.  The recipe below makes up to 8 pizzas. That’s a lot of last minute dinners!  Once it’s defrosted all you need to do is roll it out and choose your toppings. That’s what I did last night … ten minutes in the oven, some creepy Halloween tunes on the stereo, all we needed to go with it was a beer! I reckon the best thing about this topping combo was the sage which went all crispy and was like heaven next to the creamy feta.

Pumpkin Pizza ... where's the beer?

So what do you need to top it like this?

Use the dough and cooking instructions below and top with the following ingredients. Top in the order they are listed.

Tomato Sauce (Leftover homemade sauce or else a ready made tomato paste)

Roasted Pumpkin / Butternut Squash Chunks (or steamed for a healthier version)

Grilled Breast of Chicken cut into strips

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Fresh Sage leaves cut in half lengthwise

A drizzling of olive oil

Ten minutes in your oven  … drizzle with a little chilli oil and Bobs your uncle! If you haven’t tried making your own pizza before, it’s seriously worthwhile giving it a go.

Autumn Days ... last of the blue skies .. a little distraction midway through the recipe!

Basic Pizza Recipe:

So what do you need for the dough?

1kg strong white bread flour (or type 00 if you can get it – it’s much finer so gives you a good texture)
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 x sachets dried yeast (14g total)
1 tblspn caster sugar
4 tblspns olive oil
650ml jug of lukewarm water (make sure it’s not too hot or you’ll kill yeast)

(If you have it, it’s also nice to replace maybe 200g of the flour with semolina flour – not necessary, but nice)

Put it all together like this:.

A lot of people make pizza dough straight onto the worktop. This is great if you have a vast kitchen but mine is tiny. When I tried this I ended up with a pizza avalanche running down the side of my worktop. So the method I now use is to make it using a large round low edged, flat bottomed ceramic dish. It allows a large enough work area but has the advantage of having sides so it isn’t messy!

So … into your dish / work surface sift your flour. Bring it all together and make a deep well in the centre.

In your jug of water place your yeast, sugar and oil. Mix and then leave to settle for a few minutes. Pour the mix carefully into the well.

Using a fork, gradually bring the flour from the outside into the liquid. You should be gently drawing it in and swirling each little bit into the liquid as you go.  Keep doing this until you have drawn all the flour in and the mix has come together.

Now, get your hands dirty. You need to knead the dough with flour dusted hands but there’s a knack to it. My grandmother used to always tell me off as a child when I got it wrong … I can almost hear her now, telling me I’ve got to be more gentle with the dough, to feel it, to sense it! It’s true though you do need to sense it. You should be kneading it and stretching it at the same time. With each knead gently pulling the dough away from itself, stretching it, working it into a smooth elasticey springy ball of dough. Be careful not to be too rough or hard with it or you’ll knock the life out of it.

Place the dough into a large flour dusted bowl and sprinkle a little more flour over the top. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size. The time it needs will vary greatly according to the temperature of the room.

Now to knock back the dough. Place the dough on a flour dusted surface and knead around a bit to push the air out and you’ll see it deflate a little.

That’s the dough made. Using a sharp knife divide it into balls according to how many pizza you want to make. It will make 8 standard size pizzas or else you could make a whole load of mini ones – up to you. You can either make your pizzas straight away or wrap the individual balls in cling film and place in the freezer, ready to defrost when you fancy a pizza!

Making the Pizza:

(Note: If you can roll out the dough ten minutes or so before you’re going to top and cook – not to worry if you can’t)

Place your tray, pizza stone or a unglazed terracotta tile (this is a cheap but perfectly good pizza stone alternative!) in the oven.

Preheat your oven as hot as it goes – mine goes to 300 Celsius.

Now, lightly dust your workspace with flour and roll the dough out – flipping and turning every so often so you get a nice even pizza. You want it as thin as you can get it. Once I’ve done the basic rolling I sometimes just get it in my hands and kind of stretch and turn it between my hands. The weight of it dropping between your hands stretches it and helps you to get that nice thin base.

Once you’re ready, top the pizzas – either using the suggestion above or else whatever you fancy (be careful not to overload on topping or else you’ll have trouble transferring it to oven in a moment)

Slide the pizza onto your tray of choice that has been heating up in the oven.

All it needs is ten minutes in the oven and you’ve got yourself a pizza!


October 21, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Hands off my Hachis Parmentier

Hands off! The Hachis Parmentier is fresh out of the oven and the smell is pretty damn incredible. M is trying to sneakily pick the peaks of crispy mash off the top, and I am having serious Shepherds Pie flashbacks. Who knew that French Fridays would keep getting better and better.

Hachis Parmentier

Straight out of the oven ... nice and crispy on top

Hachis Parmentier  is pretty much like Shepherds or Cottage Pie. It’s not hard to make – a little time consuming but not laborious. A rich filling made with Beef Chuck (stewed for an hour and a half), home made Boullion (resulting from the stewing) and sausage meat, then topped off with mash and cheese.  I did have to resort to mince instead of sausage however after I discovered my butcher didn’t stock beef sausages … apparently they are out of vogue … Who knew!

The only hiccup I had was that once I had created the pie mix it wasn’t quite filling the palette in the way I expected. That may have been to do with the lack of sausage  (though I did season my mince with sausage like spices). So to build it up I added a bit of salt, thyme, extra tomato paste and a dash of Worcestershire sauce (is that sacrilege?). This improved the depth and added the touch of sweetness it seemed to need.

Hachis Parmentier

Peppery Rocket Salad and Hachis make a perfect combo

One thing is for certain, it tasted fabulous …

Hachis Parmentier ... Fabulous Friday night dinner (though it's actually Thursday!)

… and by the end it was me was trying to pick off the tasty little crispy bits of mash from the top … aren’t they everybody’s favourite bits?

Who’s for leftovers tomorrow?


Coming Up next time on French Friday is Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake … just in time for my birthday I’m thinking …. Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

October 14, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

French Fridays with Dorie is  a project involving a seemingly huge number of bloggers cooking their way through  Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours . This week’s recipe is Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. I couldn’t be happier.

It isn’t what most would imagine to be a French dish to be, but France’s involvement in Vietnam and the resulting influences on both countries cuisine could be said to make it so. This recipe is Dorie’s own mix up of pho ga (a chicken broth based soup) and la sa ga ( a coconut based curry soup). It reminds me of the traditional Pho, found in it’s many varieties across Vietnam.


Busy Hannoi ... There must be some pho nearby ...


When I traveled  in Vietnam several years back I ate Pho almost every day for breakfast, normally at roadside stalls. If your eyebrows are raised, Pho is Vietnam’s equivalent to cornflakes or toast and over the course of a month I became addicted to it. Back in London I regularly try to make my own version of it. Or else I head to Mien Tay Restaurant for a bowl. It’s got to be the best in London.


Pho ... even in the mountains of the North


So this recipe by Dorie was right up my street. I couldn’t wait to get started.


Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup


It’s an easy soup to put together and all the elements can be prepared ahead of time and assembled at the last minute. What I love about this style of soup is that you make the base and then layer all the elements on top. In Vietnam all these extras are normally served alongside the soup and it’s up to the individual to decide how much of each they want – extra herbs, beansprouts, fresh chillies, sauces etc. I’ve had a cold this week so I went crazy on the chili!


Extra Chilli and Chilli Oil on top


M couldn’t wait for me to take the photo, he had to get stuck in.


Stuck in ... more chilli please


We loved this … full of flavour and our favourite so far for French Fridays. Thanks Dorie!


Coming Up next time on French Friday  is Hachis Parmentier … comfort food if ever there was some …. Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

October 12, 2010

Good Bite In 15 Minutes: Haddock and Minty Pea Salad

I mentioned before that things have been a bit hectic and sparing time to cook hasn’t been easy.  It’s periods like this that I usually resort to those easy to whip up dishes … the kind I think we all have to fall back on when need be. This is one of mine that I usually make summertime but yesterday when London decided to have a last ditch effort at pre-winter sunshine it seemed the perfect thing to whip up.


Haddock and Minty Pea Salad


It really is dead simple:

You need:

1 tray and 1 bowl

A couple of fillets of white fish eg. Haddock (I usually use a fillet per person)

1 red onion

2 cups peas (feel free to use fresh or frozen)

A handful of mint to taste

A few splashes of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of lemon grass minced (Optional but give it a bit of something extra)

Salt and Pepper


– Place fish on a tray lined with foil for easy cleaning. Drizzle with a little lemon juice and a touch of salt and pepper. Place under a medium grill. Depending on your grill it should take about 10 minutes to cook, while it cooks you can prepare the salad.

– Steam your peas but only so much as they soften but still remain their colour.

– Meanwhile, slice the onion into as fine rings as you can.

– Place peas and onions in bowl. Tear up mint into pieces and add them in. Add lemongrass and lemon juice. Toss together.

– Fish should be ready by now. If you’re not sure if it’s done check that the flesh lightly flakes off when prodded with a fork.

– Either serve fish whole with salad on the side or else flake the fish up and stir through the salad. It’s nice both ways.


October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Mustard Tart and the Quest for the Perfect Julienne

French Friday with Dorie has come around again quickly.  But this week setting aside the time to make Gerard’s Mustard Tart wasn’t easy. It’s not that the recipe was complicated but it involved a lot of waiting around for pastry to chill as well as cutting my vegetables julienne style. In a week of crazy work hours it would need a bit more time than the soups and salads I’ve been hurriedly preparing of late. Never the less the picture of Dorie’s Tart peering out at me from the pages of Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours proved too tempting.

So that’s how I found myself close to midnight all flour haired, pastry chilling in the fridge and bent over my chopping board cutting my carrots and leeks up julienne style. I have to admit I have never had the patience to cut my veg this way before but the tart looked so pretty in the book I thought I’d have to give it a go. It actually isn’t too hard, I just found I had to take my time with it. Being a bit of a perfectionist I found myself with two piles – the ones that were a tad messy that I figure I’ll use in a soup, and the ones that were pretty enough to make the Mustard Tart grade.


Pastry and Julienne by the stroke of midnight


My julienne veges steamed, a mighty mustard egg base whipped together and homemade pastry rolled into its case and popped in the freezer , I had all the elements ready for baking … sleep. Aah sleep ….

Come morning I put the tart together and popped it in the oven whilst I got ready for work. Filling and baking the pastry case from frozen isn’t something I’d tried before but it worked well. The house filled with that magic smell of pastry baking and M. came sniffing around the kitchen hunting for what treat he might be getting for lunch.


Mustard Tart ... heavy on the mustard


Sliced up it was perfect for our work lunchboxes today. And it was delicious. Having spent the time meticulously cutting the leek and carrots I think it was worthwhile as the light layers of leek and carrot worked well with the creaminess of the tart. The Mustard and egg combo worked surprisingly well too … if you’re trying this though be sure to give it a hefty whack of it … it really is all the better for it.

I will definitely be making this again … good for a summer picnic I think!


Coming Up next time on French Friday  is Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup …  Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

October 4, 2010

Rainy Days Rainy Nights: Ceramic Baked Pepper Chicken

Rainy Days and Rainy Nights call for something wholesome and hearty but I don’t want to undo all the hard work I put in at the swimming pool this morning … it was so so cold … so so cold.  So tonight I cooked what I’m christening Ceramic Hot Pepper Chicken … I’m not feeling too creative on the name front at the moment so that will have to do. It’s a bit of a jumble of ideas, recipes and ingredients but it turned out a right treat and I think it was pretty healthy too. Dished out, you could eat this with a salad, bread, rice or couscous but we happily ate it just on it’s own. Well fed we settled in for a night watching our indulgence of the moment … Masterchef Australia … can’t get enough of it! Completely chilled out night and whilst looks wise the Masterchef judges would call my Ceramic Hot Pepper Chicken ‘home cooking’ …  when it comes down to it … who minds a bit of home cooking?

Ceramic Hot Pepper Chicken

Ceramic Hot Pepper Chicken

So how do you make it?

INGREDIENTS: Olive Oil, 6 Medium size Chicken Pieces (cut into little pieces), 1 Large White Onion, 4 Whole Cloves Garlic, 2 Red Peppers (or any other colour), 1 or 2 Zucchini / Courgettes, 3 or so carrots, Dried Thyme, Bay Leaves, Ginger (Fresh or like me use some strong Ginger Cordial), Chilli minced (or Mr Naga’s if you can find it), 400g tin Chickpeas, 2 Fresh Tomatos, Salt and Pepper.

– Take a big open topped ceramic dish that you can also put on the hob.

– Add a glug of oil, not too much, and put the dish in the oven to warm up (about 180 Celsius)

– Whilst it’s in there, chop up a big white onion (keep it chunky), peel a few whole cloves of garlic, slice a couple of peppers lengthwise, and finally  cut your carrots and zucchini/courgettes up nice and chunky.

– Take the warmed pan out of oven and put on the hob (medium heat) … chuck in all the ingredients you just chopped up and stir around letting them sizzle a bit. Throw in some dried thyme, salt and pepper, some minced chilli (or Mr Naga if you have it) and a couple of bay leaves. If you’re using fresh ginger add it now. Pop the dish back in the oven – about 20 minutes. You don’t want the veg cooked too much, just enough to give them a head start before you add the chicken.

– Take out the dish and put back on the hob – again on medium heat – push the veg a bit to the side to allow you to put the chicken pieces in (stage by stage depending on the size of your dish. Let them sear on both sides (nice if they get a bit of colour to them), turning when needed.

– Add your drained chickpeas and a splash of strong ginger cordial/syrup and stir through . Layer slices of tomato on top and put back in the oven, still at 180 degrees. Think I left it in for about 20 minutes – but basically it should stay in until the chicken is cooked – carrots should still have a bit of bite. But do give it all a bit of a stir partway through cooking to keep it all nice and moist.

– Can serve on the table straight from your ceramic dish – it looks nice and hearty. We had it on it’s own but would be nice served with a salad, bread, couscous or even rice. Apologies for the vagueness on the measurements etc. but this really is one of those dishes you can change as you go along or add/subtract things too based on your own instinct. Hope you enjoy!


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