Our lovely neighbours are complete barbecue fanatics. As soon as there’s even a hint of nice weather, the most delicious smells start wafting through from their garden, making me really want a barbecue. I think the thing that’s holding us back is the thought of buying a big, expensive barbecue and then never using it, so last week we went out and bought one of those really cute, cheap little bucket barbecues to have a try without spending too much money. The lovely chaps at Very Lazy had, coincidentally, sent me a couple of their handy jars so I thought I’d start simply with a few sausages and a tasty maple and ginger barbecue chicken, using the Very Lazy jars of chopped ginger and chopped red chillies .
I’m so looking forward to this weekend! After a busy few weeks, it’s time to kick back and enjoy a lovely few days with the family. It’s Charlie’s birthday so we’re planning to head out on Sunday for brunch and I’m fully intending on spending Saturday baking hot cross buns and scoffing chocolate – let’s hope it stays nice and sunny! If you’re entertaining this weekend, I’ve got loads of recipes for you, including big roast dinners, delicious desserts, baking and – of course – hot cross buns! For this big Easter roundup, I’ve also picked a few of my favourite sweet treats, just in case you haven’t chosen your chocolate stash yet. Enjoy!
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Korean food is having a bit of a moment. It’s not a cuisine I’ve really explored but I keep reading about it, and it turns out that Korean food is really healthy and colourful, with lots of vegetables and simply cooked, good quality meat forming the basis of many dishes. I tried a Korean crispy lamb recipe from Simply Beef and Lamb, and it’s so easy, it can be on the table in about twenty minutes. This dish uses Gochujang (Korean chilli paste), which I was initially a bit worried about tracking down, but it turns out you can buy it in Waitrose and loads of places online. If you can’t find any, just use any other punchy chilli paste. As usual when choosing lamb, I always look out for a quality mark like the Red Tractor logo – I need to know that it’s responsibly produced, and the logo tells you that you’re buying farm assured, quality meat).
So here it is, my very last post before Christmas! I’ve been writing this blog for 10 years now (I know!) and every year, I say the same thing: if you’re cooking the Christmas lunch – and getting stressed about it – remember it’s your Christmas too. I’ve got loads of tips here to make the day as stress free and laid back as possible for you, so you can enjoy your Christmas day with your family and friends. So find a quiet corner, Treat yourself to my perfect frozen whipped cream hot chocolate, grab a notebook, have a read through and take few minutes to make a plan. And remember, it’s basically just a big roast dinner, and this guide will help you do most of the work on Christmas Eve so you can spend as much time as possible with the family, and as little as possible in the kitchen on the big day!
You can’t have Christmas without a Christmas ham. This recipe works with ANY sized joint. Multiply it up and down as you see fit and as suits you. I think ham makes a wonderful Christmas feast. This recipe makes a delicious sweet, salty, softly textured ham that’s fabulous hot with creamy mashed potatoes, or cold with chutneys and cheeses and a hunk of crusty bread. I always cook one the week before Christmas, and always end up having to cook another one because it gets scoffed! This spiced and glazed Christmas ham is poached in Coke, and you really can’t underestimate the delicious, caramel sweetness that it infuses into the meat. It’s better for your ham than your teeth, that’s for sure!
Ahhh leftover turkey. I know people moan about it, but we always buy an extra mahoosive turkey, even if there’s just the four of us on Christmas day, as we love our turkey leftovers! This easy leftover turkey nachos recipe takes no time to put together, has some proper fresh, zingy flavours, and is a fabulous sharing dish – basically everything you want from Boxing Day and beyond. And for the rest of the year, well, just make it with chicken!
This weekend is one of my favourites of the whole year. The first weekend in December (or possibly the second, depending on timing) is tree decorating day. The men of the house go out and forage (okay, not exactly forage) for a Christmas tree, and we spend a lovely day with Christmas songs blasting, digging through all the decorations from the loft (they always bring back memories, don’t they?) and decorating the house. This year, as it’s the first year we’ve got our lovely new open kitchen/diner, I really wanted a kitchen Christmas tree and the boys did a fabulous job finding me the perfect one. To celebrate all this hygge activity (remember hygge? The Danish concept of warmth and family and cosiness), we decided to invite some lovely friends and – with a little help from Simply Beef and Lamb – found the perfect festive recipe: slow roasted lamb in sloe gin.
More and more recently, I’m finding we’re becoming a two-dinner family. The boys are both busy with college, and both have a part-time job, so it’s often just Mr E and I for dinner. If we’re dining a deux, I’m a bit prone to just grill salmon or bake chicken and serve it with rice and veggies, so I was delighted for a bit of inspiration in the form of these lovely little mini roasts. This one is pistachio and orange crusted lamb and it was so delicious, and it felt so decadent eating it midweek too – like a stay at home date night!
One of the nice things about turning the corner into autumn again is that I feel justified in reintroducing the Sunday roast. We absolutely adore lamb and I’m really chuffed that the chaps at Welsh lamb have asked me to be one of their ‘Llambassadors‘ (I know, right? Love it). While I don’t feel that it’s quite cold enough yet to indulge in the whole roast lamb/roast potatoes/gravy/piles of veg thing, one of our favourite ways to cook lamb is long and slow, until it basically just falls apart into soft melty chunks. This recipe features a slow roasted shoulder of Welsh lamb with mint chimichurri and pickled plums all of which are perfect for stuffing into soft flour tortillas.
Are you a fan of keema? If you haven’t discovered it yet, think shepherd’s pie filling, but with a delicious, warm, spicy kick. We adore it. I first started making a similar version as a party nibble, stuffed into little lettuce cups, but we also just have it with rice. It’s a really easy, yummy way to spice up lamb mince (if you’re only using it in your shepherd’s pies, you’re missing a trick), and it’s a great, affordable way to feed the whole family. We don’t seem to eat at the same time as much on weekdays, so I sometimes knock up a big pan of keema, then Mr E and I will eat ours with rice, and the boys will heat theirs up later, which I think is where the whole stuffed chapatis/quesadilla idea came about (I’ve got to be honest, I was going to call these quesadillas, but y’know, it almost seems a fusion dish too far, plus since I decided to write this recipe up, we’ve started buying chapatis and they’re delicious).
This last week before we head off on our long-awaited cruise has been a bit strange. We’ve barely seen the boys as they’ve been spending time making the most of their last few days of freedom before education beckons again, and I feel a bit like I’m in limbo: like I know that this really is the last of our English summer and that when I come home it will properly be autumn. Already, as we’re walking the dog, the blackberries are ripe and ready to pick, and even on a really hot day, there’s that little nip in the air when the sun goes in. I’m still loving quick, healthy eating and we’ve been packing away easy summer dinners of warm salads, fish and stir fries. Read more
It’s a chill out day here at English Towers. We had a fab party last night (more of this very soon!), so today is all about lazing in the garden (isn’t the weather divine? I never want it to end) and easy, tasty food. This summer, Sainsbury’s launch the latest in its Little Twist recipes: each one giving an unexpectedly clever and yummy new twist on classic summer recipes. Since we’re lazing, I decided to give the rice pop chicken tenders a go. Here’s how we got on:
There’s just no decent way to give this dish (I hesitate to say recipe) a decent title. If you go for ‘mozzarella stuffed, Parma ham-wrapped chicken breast with basil’, it’s about a gazillion miles long, but ‘mozzarella stuffed chicken’ leaves out the tastiest bits, and ‘chicken breast stuffed with chicken and basil and wrapped in Parma ham’ isn’t exactly catchy either. Anyway, I digress. This easy baked chicken is one of our favourite dinners.
So if you’re a regular reader (or you’ve just stopped by in search of pie recipes – in which case, welcome!), you’ll know that I’ve already published a step by step ‘how to make a pie‘ recipe. Do have a look at that one as it will give you invaluable tips on how to make pastry. This recipe kind of skips the basics, just because I don’t want to blab on and on about pastry (hey, it’s just pastry) and also because we’re now moving on to bigger, better, MORE EXCITING PIES!
So my #livepeasant week has come to an end and it’s been really good fun. If you didn’t see my post on Monday, we’ve been creating some delicious, rustic one-pot dishes this week with Simpy Beef and Lamb. We’ve dined pretty well, starting with the delicious Moroccan lamb dish on Monday, a big pot of chilli, a curry, a shepherd’s pie with slow-cooked mince, and I even revisited my spring braised beef with red wine and borlotti beans.
There’s been a shift recently back towards simpler food, don’t you think? I’ve read endless articles about embracing a more uncomplicated, rustic approach to cooking, and I love the concept. I’ve been enjoying baking my own bread, leaving it to rise slowly, rather than scoffing quickly risen supermarket bread. The recipe makes two loaves at a time and it keeps really well, so we’ve always got some on the go.
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