A 15 minute supper

It is often said that people eat convenience food because they don’t have the time to cook anything. Well, this took me about 15 minutes to make from start to serving.

First, I added three cloves of finely chopped garlic to two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. This was then heated so that the garlic began to sizzle without burning while I boiled a kettle of water for the pasta and opened a tin of chopped tomatoes.

While the pasta was cooking, I added the tomatoes to the garlic and oil, stirred and seasoned them and let them simmer. Then, I chopped up a handful of basil leaves. When the pasta was cooked, I drained it and added it to the sauce, along with the basil. Once it was nicely coated in sauce, I served it, topped with freshly-grated parmesan cheese.


Chicken breast with wild garlic sauce, mushrooms, leeks and new potatoes

Wild garlic, also known as ramsons, grows all over the place and it is a nice thing to pick a few leaves for your own use. The leaves have a lovely mild garlic/chive flavour and you can also use the white flowers in salads. Anyway, I found some growing at the weekend and picked about a dozen or so leaves to use on Sunday.

The dish I made was pretty simple. There were some pan-fried chicken breasts on a bed of leeks cooked in a mixture of water and butter with a few sprigs of thyme, some new potatoes and some mushrooms sautéed in butter in the pan which I afterwards I used for the chicken, returning the mushrooms when the chicken was done, but the thing that brought it all together was the sauce I made from the chopped wild garlic leaves, wilted in butter and then poached in cream.

To complete the sauce, I deglazed the sauté pan I used for the chicken and mushrooms with a splash of white wine and added this to the cream and wild garlic and then added a couple of tablespoons of the leek cooking liquid.

The sauce was seasoned and reduced slightly and then spooned over the chicken breasts.

Roast chicken glazed with pomegranate molasses and lentils with onions

A Middle-eastern kind of Sunday dinner.

I roasted a chicken in olive oil and for the last 20 minutes of cooking, I glazed it with a mixture of honey, Aleppo pepper flakes and pomegranate molasses.

I served the chicken with basmati rice, a crisp mixed salad, cacik and lentils cooked with onions, garlic and cumin.

The lentils were pretty straightforward too. They were the brownish disc-shaped ones, not Puy lentils and they were cooked in salted water until soft, with some sliced onions, chopped garlic and powdered cumin that had been sautéed in olive oil and butter. They were finished off with some lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Pear frangipane tart

This is a lovely classic piece of patisserie and not at all difficult to make, especially if you use a processor.

Frangipane is made with ground almonds, using the following ingredients.

100g ground almonds
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g softened unsalted butter
1 large egg, plus one egg yolk

Put the dry ingredients and butter in the processor and mix until the butter is amalgamated, then add the eggs and process until everything forms a paste. This is ready for use and can be set aside until required.

Butter a 9″ loose-bottomed tart ring and line it with thin plain pastry, which you should prick all over with a fork. My pastry was made in the processor using 120g plain flour, 90g unsalted butter, 2 eggs and a pinch of salt, which was left to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours before rolling out.

Chill the pastry case again and then spread the frangipane across it.

Finally top with peeled, halved and cored pears that you have made cuts across and bake on the middle shelf of the oven, preheated to 160C for an hour.

Leave the tart to cool slightly and carefully remove it from the tart ring.

At this point you can, if you wish, glaze it with some sieved apricot jam or quince jelly, thinned with hot water.

This is nice at room temperature served with whipped cream, crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream. A glass of sweet dessert wine is also nice with it.

Prune-stuffed pork tenderloin with fondant potatoes

Pork and prunes is a French classic pairing. The reason it works so well is that pork is generally a dry meat, so the fruit gives it some moisture and sweetness.

Anyway, I prepared the prunes (pruneau d’Agen) by soaking them in cold tea for about an hour before I used them to stuff a piece of pork tenderloin which I had trimmed of fat and the outer silvery membrane and then cut open like a book and seasoned with salt and pepper. I then rolled it up again and wrapped it in pancetta. This was then roasted for 30 minutes in a 190C oven and allowed to rest.

The sauce was made by deglazing the roasting pan with the cold tea in which I’d soaked the prunes, a large glass of red wine, a tablespoon of quince jelly and a squeeze of tomato purée. I reduced the sauce down on the hob, thickened it with a large knob of butter and adjusted the seasoning.

The fondant potatoes were sautéed in butter in a saucepan with a lid and simmered in chicken stock for about 35 minutes, turning them half-way through the cooking. I should have used a waxy variety of potato, but I had Maris Pipers, so that was what I used. They were nice, but didn’t hold their shape as well as a Charlotte would have done.

Moros y Cristianos

Or Cuban-style black beans and rice.

Apologies for the photo here, the rice was steaming hot and the photo isn’t as sharp as it might have been.

This is a nice dish, simple, filling and really tasty. It works well with all kinds of meat or seafood, or you can add some chorizo and chicken to the rice while it is cooking.

For 4-6 people, you will need;

olive oil
1 large chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 chopped Scotch bonnet
1 measuring cup of rice (about 300g)
2 measuring cups of hot water
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin black beans, drained and washed

Heat oil in a pan with a lid, sauté the onion, garlic, green pepper and chilli, add all the seasonings with the tomatoes, stir and cook for a bit, add the rice and beans, stir, add the water, stir again, cover and simmer on a low heat until done.

I cooked some breaded deep-fried chicken to go with this, and made some guacamole too.

Honey and soy-glazed roast pork loin

My butcher always has nice boned pork loin joints in the shop, generally for cutting off individual pork steaks, which are great for tonkatsu or similar breaded cutlet and escalope-type dishes, but they are also good for roasting.

I made a marinade from dark and light soy sauces, Chinkiang black rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey. I stabbed the pork all over with a thin knife and marinated the pork for 24 hours, turning it frequently. I find that zip-top freezer bags are good for marinating meat, because they have a tight seal and it makes turning the meat a simple and clean business. They also take up less room in the fridge than a bowl and you need less marinade to cover the meat properly.

I cooked the meat in a foil-lined roasting tray with its marinade(these marinades can stick really hard to your oven ware), with the foil wrapped loosely over the top and sealed to create a kind of tent for the first 45 minutes. Then I opened the foil up and gave it a further 45 minutes, basting frequently.

When the pork was done it looked quite blackened on top, but it wasn’t at all burnt. It was just the colour that the honey and soy had turned in the oven.

I made a chilli sauce to accompany this. I could have used a bottled sriracha sauce but I had some red chillies in the fridge to use up. I seeded the chillies and put them in a processor with a thumb of fresh ginger, two cloves of garlic, some fish sauce, a splash of sunflower oil, white rice vinegar, a knob of palm sugar and a squeeze of tomato purée and blended this until smooth.

I carved the pork and served it with steamed jasmine rice and steamed pak choi, with the roasting juices and marinade spooned over the top, and the chilli sauce on the side.


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