Lamb and red wine casserole



Heat a casserole pan until really hot and add about a tbsp of oil. Fry the lamb until browned all over. Make sure and get some good colour on the meat at this stage as it will enhance the flavour of the finished dish. Remove the lamb from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Reduce the heat and add the knob of butter to the pan. Fry the onion, celery and carrot for a few minutes, scraping any bits of lamb from the bottom of the pan.. Cover and leave to ‘sweat’ for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and rosemary and return the browned meat to the pan. Sprinkle over the flour and stir everything together. Turn the heat up and add the wine. Stir and allow to bubble over a fairly high heat for 5 minutes or so, until the wine has reduced slightly. Add the stock and season. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and leave to simmer gently for 1 and a half hours, checking and stirring occasionally.

Serve with Special Potatoes and lots of lovely vegetables.

Fajitas (version a)


In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil and add the onion. Fry for a few minutes, stirring. Add the meat and garlic and stir-fry for a few minutes until the meat starts to brown. Add the peppers and chilli and continue to stir-fry until the peppers start to soften slightly.

Add the smoked paprika, cumin and oregano. Stir well to mix. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the tomato, sugar and some salt and pepper. Continue to stir-fry until everything is cooked, about 5 minutes.

Serve with flour or corn tortillas and soured cream. A nice addition is an easy avocado salad: Mix 1 large avocado, chopped, with 2 finely chopped spring onions, 1 chopped tomato, half a cupful of peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber, a squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper and 4-6 chopped mint leaves.

Hot Swiss Trifle


This is a very easy recipe for a great hot trifle dessert.  First slice the swiss roll and arrange along with the apricots (or other fruit you want to use) on the bottom of a heatproof casserole dish.

Next make the custard, you can either use your own recipe or do what we have done here by upgrading a packet custard.  To do this blend the custard powder with the egg yolks, 1 tbsp sugar and a little of the milk.  Heat the remaining milk and when almost boiling stir into the mixed custard before returning  to pan. Bring to almost boiling point and keep stirring continuously until the custard has thickened to a level you are happy with, ideally the thickness of double cream.

Leave the custard to cool slightly before pouring it over the swiss roll and fruit.

Next you need to make the meringue.  To do this whisk the egg whites with the sugar until they form a stiff peak, its best to do this with an electric whisk if possible.

To finish the dish add the meringue to the top of the custard and bake at 180C for 20 mins or until the meringue is golden brown on top.  Serve while hot.

Gnocchi with creamy mushrooms and spinach


First, prepare the spinach. Put it into a large sieve or colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water so that it wilts. Leave it to drain and once it is cool enough, squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible before chopping roughly. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. Fry them over a fairly high heat for five minutes or so until they are nicely browned and have given out all their liquid. Tip them out into a bowl and set aside.

Pour a little more olive oil into the pan and add the shallot. Fry for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes more before adding the white wine. Allow to bubble until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Return the mushrooms to the pan along with the chopped spinach and mix everything together. Add the creme fraiche along with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.Simmer gently so the sauce thickens a little.

Meanwhile heat your grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi. Cook according to packet instructions but generally the moment they rise to the surface, they are ready. Drain.

Grate some nutmeg into the sauce and add the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can be quite generous with the nutmeg. Mix the gnocchi in with the sauce then spoon into a gratin dish. Grate over a generous amount of parmesan and place under the hot grill for a few minutes until golden and bubbling. Leave to cool for a minute before eating or you’ll burn your mouth (like I did).

Chilli chicken ramen



To start make the chilli ramen sauce, you can find the recipe for this below, it is simple to make and can be used again.

Add the stock to a pan and bring up to a simmering boil, add the whole garlic and ginger and allow the flavours to infuse for at least 15 mins but preferably longer.

Next heat a griddle/frying pan on a high setting. Drizzle a little oil on the whole chicken breasts and rub in before seasoning well with salt and white pepper. Fry the chicken breast on both sides until cooked through, this will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts but should take no more than ten minutes. Remove the chicken breast from the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into diagonal strips.

Remove the whole garlic and ginger from the stock before adding the noodles and cooking for 2 minutes, now add the pak choi/cabbage and beansprouts and cook for a further minute.

Divide the noodles and pak choi between 2 bowls and ladle over the hot stock. Top with the sliced chicken and some chilli ramen sauce. Sprinkle over the spring onions and serve.

Chicken Kiev



Mix together the ricotta, garlic, lemon zest, parmesan and herbs, season to taste – remember the parmesan is quite salty.  Flatten each chicken breast out between 2 bits of cling film using a rolling pin or meat tenderiser until the chicken is about the same thickness as a pound coin (about 5 mm). Season the flattened out chicken and then lay it out on a large piece of cling film so that it creates two square areas of chicken, try not to leave any holes of gaps.

Divide the filling mixture between the two chicken kiev breasts, i.e. half the mixture in the middle of each of the squares.  You now want to roll up the chicken kiev so that it is properly sealed in, to do this take one side of the chicken and fold it over the edge of the mixture, carefully tuck it in.  Now roll the mixture over so that the outside of the clingfilm wraps around the outside of the chicken.  Tuck in the ends and thenpinch the cling filmat each end and twist it so it is tight.  Continue to tighten the clingfilm and the kiev by holding the ends and rolling to chicken across a flat surface, tie the ends and then chill for at least 30 mins – see Cook’s tip. Flour, egg and crumb each ‘kiev’.

Heat a good amount of olive oil in a frying pan and add the chicken kievs on a medium high heat. Brown on both sides before transferring to a preheated oven (180C) to finish cooking – this will take about 10-15 mins depending on the thickness of the chicken.