Veal Ragu with Zucchini Spaghetti (4)

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Zucchini/courgettes ‘spaghetti’ is a really good substitute for pasta and because it doesn’t taste of much it is the perfect foil for many different sauces. I  make my own with a spiralizer but I notice that it is now available to buy in supermarkets. It is very quick to cook – literally a few minutes – and you actually want it to be just ‘al dente’. The veal sauce is livened up with sliced baby bella mushrooms and fresh herbs – sage and rosemary.

1 tbsp. oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion – finely chopped

1 pound ground veal/pork

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms – sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 tbsp. fresh sage – finely chopped

1/2 tbsp. fresh rosemary – finely chopped

Heat the seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the onion and let it brown slightly.

Next add the ground veal and sear it before adding the mushrooms, chicken broth and herbs.

Simmer for around 15 minutes then pour sauce over the zucchini spaghetti.

ZUCCHINI SPAGHETTI

1 pound of zucchini – spiralized

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook zucchini in boiling water for around 3 minutes until they are cooked but still a little on the firm side.

Drain, then pat dry with a clean T-towel.

Place in a serving dish, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.

Pour the veal ragu over the top

 

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Steff’s Meat Sauce (4)

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When I cook I try to make the dish healthy by cutting down on fat and sugar where possible. So, for this recipe I replaced ground beef with a mixture of ground chicken and ground turkey – a tip from my friend, Steff. I also bulked up the sauce with cannellini beans.

Because both chicken and turkey give out a certain amount of water, you may find that the sauce is a bit too runny. If so at the end of the cooking time cook for a little longer at a higher heat to reduce the liquid.

Just before serving I add small pieces of goat’s mozzarella which start melting and going gooey (more credit to Steff) and I serve this sauce over rice noodles – the thicker kind if you can find them – but it would be good with a baked potato, over rice or zucchini ‘pasta’.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion – finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 pound of ground chicken

1 pound of ground turkey

1 cup passata

1 cup chicken broth

2 oz. goat’s mozzarella – cut into small pieces

Heat seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and, when sizzling, add the onion and let soften and brown, then add the garlic, stir and let cook for a few minutes.

Stir in the ground chicken and turkey and break up the meat so it isn’t in clumps. Let the meat brown as this will add more flavor to the sauce.

When the meat is nicely browned stir in the passata and the broth and bring to the boil and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Serve before the cheese fully melts.

 

Chicken with a Rub (4)

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Have you ever wondered what the spices are in a rub? You can buy various pre-prepared spice mixes in the supermarket and just sprinkle them over the meat of your choice but I wanted to come up with a combination of spices of my own and I did and the blend uses fairly basic spice cupboard ingredients – cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic salt, paprika and salt and pepper.

Good hot or cold – I sliced the chicken breasts and had with a salad. Would be good with black beans and rice too.

4 x chicken breasts

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

For the spice rub

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place chicken breasts in a roasting tin and coat with oil on both sides.

Put all the spice rub ingredients in a bowl with a lid on and give it a good shake.

Sprinkle over the chicken breasts and cook for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees

Sweet Potato ‘Lasagna’ (4)

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This recipe has only a passing resemblance to lasagna: the sheets of pasta have been replaced by thinly sliced sweet potato; the meat is a combination of lean, ground beef and ground turkey instead of the more usual ground beef and Italian sausage; there is no ricotta cheese or bechamel sauce. On the other hand there is a tomato sauce combining passata and tomato paste and the herbs are basil and parsley.

I layered the dish starting with the meat sauce followed by a layer of sweet potato slices and continued on finishing up with a top layer of sweet potato. I covered the dish with aluminum foil to enable the topping to cook without drying up.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium onions – finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 pound of lean, ground beef

1 pound of ground turkey

24 fl. oz. passata

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup of beef broth

2 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

2 tsp. dried basil

2 sweet potatoes – finely sliced in a food processor or on a mandolin

Heat the oil in a cast iron casserole dish or large skillet and when sizzling add the on ion and garlic and let soften and brown.

Add the beef and turkey and let brown for a bit before adding the passata, tomato paste, beef broth, parsley and basil.

Stir well and when simmering place a layer of this mixture in an ovenproof dish followed by a layer of sliced sweet potato. Repeat once or twice more depending on the size of your dish, ending up with a top layer of sweet potato.

Cover the ‘lasagna’ with aluminum and place in the oven for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the ‘lasagna’ in there until the oven cools.

 

Jo’s Greek Meatballs (4)

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Meatballs to me are comfort food. These meatballs are very quick to make and combine what I think of as Greek flavors – lamb, oregano and feta cheese. I cook them in the oven on a metal rack over a roasting tin so that the grease drops into the tin and leaves you with moist but not greasy meatballs. They go nicely with a salad I serve them with a salad as I think a sauce would drown the taste. If you want a new idea for cocktail nibbles make them very small and serve on a toothpick.

1 pound of ground lamb seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 oz. feta cheese – crumbled

1 egg – beaten

Place the lamb, oregano and feta in a large bowl and mix well together.

Add beaten egg and mix again, then make into palm of hand size meat balls.

Cook in oven at 350 degrees for between 20 – 30 minutes depending on size of meatball (cut in half to see if cooked).

Tamarind and Orange Chicken (4)

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Tamarind paste is a key ingredient in Thai cooking and you will probably have eaten it without knowing it. However, if you taste the paste by dipping a finger in it and licking your finger you will find it has a sour, tangy taste which startles the taste buds. When combined with other ingredients its taste is changed. Tamarind paste is easily found in Asian stores or online if it is not stocked in your local supermarket.

Messing about in the kitchen with tamarind paste and coconut milk, ginger and garlic to prepare a Thai dish, I found that the tamarind flavor came through too strongly. It needed something sweet to dampen down its unique taste and I chose freshly squeezed orange juice. The resulting dish was no longer particularly Thai but it did produce a new chicken dish with a lovely thick, glossy sauce which I then topped with chopped cilantro. Brown rice is a good accompaniment.

2 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 x skinless chicken legs

1 large onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 x 2 inch piece of ginger – grated

1 tsp. turmeric

1 can of lite coconut milk

1 1/2 tbsp. tamarind paste

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

Cilantro – finely chopped (enough for sprinkling over the top)

Heat oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the chicken legs and sear on both sides until nicely browned – set aside.

Add onion to the casserole dish (you can add more oil if needed) and let soften and brown before adding the garlic, ginger and turmeric. Cook for a few minutes until you can smell the spices.

Stir in the tamarind paste and when smooth pour in the coconut milk.

Place chicken legs in casserole dish, bring to boil and simmer for 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over brown rice.

 

 

 

Salmon Poached with Garlic, Shallot, Lemon, Parsley and White Wine (4)

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Very simple to prepare and very tasty to eat served alongside roasted asparagus and new potatoes. It is a light healthy dish and dinner party worthy.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

4 x salmon fillets

1 cloves of garlic – grated

1 shallot – finely chopped

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine

Juice of half a lemon

1 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a piece of aluminum foil (large enough to wrap the pieces of salmon in) in a roasting tin  and pop the salmon fillets on top.

Share the garlic and shallot equally between the salmon pieces.

Slowly drizzle the salmon slices with the oil and, again slowly, pour over the white wine and lemon juice.

Finally, sprinkle with parsley and salt and pepper.

Cook in oven for 20 minutes or so, depending on how you like your salmon cooked.