Sunday, 27 February 2011

BBQ Beanfeast

I  wrote recently about my culinary experiments with American-style pulled pork and ever since, the flavours have continued to fascinate me.  The flavour rub for that recipe has found its way into several dishes since and a keep a jar of it, ready mixed, in one of my kitchen cupboards.  Tonight I used it yet again...

Basic BBQ Rub

6 tbsp paprika (regular, not smoked)
2 tbsp flaky sea salt 
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp English mustard powder

Stir all ingredients together. Keep in a (labelled!) jar in the cupboard.

This is the sort of easy dish that we all love; something like a chilli con carne, actually, but sweeter and with less spicy heat.  It is very forgiving as regards side dishes as well, I prefer to serve it with rice, but it also works well with soft flour tortillas or potatoes (jacket spuds and potato wedges, especially).  Frankly, a little salad and  a chunk of crusty bread to dunk is all you really need.

Beef  &Bean BBQ Pot

I mainly use the ordinary HP barbecue sauce, but I occasionally dally with another brand.  Just use your favourite.

2 onions, chopped
120g smoked bacon chopped
300g minced beef
3 tbsp BBQ rub (and see above)
1 red pepper, halved, de-seeded and sliced
400g tin of mixed beans, drained
400g tin chopped tomatoes
bottled barbecue sauce
dried oregano

Heat a little oil in a casserole pan and fry the onion until soft.  Add the bacon to the pan and cook through, then put in the beef and brown it well.  Sprinkle the BBQ rub in as you brown the beef, then add the strips of pepper and mix through the meat and onions.  Tip in the beans, then the tomatoes. Fill the empty tomato can half-full with water and add a good squirt of bottled barbecue sauce.  Stir well and add this liquid to the pan.  Sprinkle dried oregano into the pot and stir again. Cook, covered, at 160°c for 20 minutes, then remove the lid, stir again, and cook for 15 minutes more to reduce the sauce.  Enjoy!

 Cath xx
P.S. Blogger formatting has gone insane, it seems.  No matter.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

It's Leeking again!

I love cooking with leeks.  It feels right, somehow, using them as often as I do when I live in Wales, but I suspect that I would use them almost obsessively wherever I lived.  They give a delicacy of taste that onions, however useful (and they are) in cooking, simply cannot provide - leeks are, to me, definitely the blushing ingĂ©nue to onions' dashing cad.   They go particularly well with chicken, cheese (ooh, leeks and blue cheese...) and ham or bacon, but I also love them with black pudding and with salmon.  Mustard is another friend of the leek, and this wholegrain mustard-spiked chicken dish is a great favourite of ours.

Chicken with Wine and Mustardy Leeks

8 chicken thighs
5 leeks, halved and sliced
200ml white wine
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
200ml chicken  stock
15g butter

Heat a little cooking oil in a casserole pan and brown the chicken well all over.  Remove to a plate and set aside, then put the sliced leeks into the pan and cook, stirring, until soft.  Add a splash of boiling water from the kettle to help scrape up any chicken bits from the bottom of the pot as you stir.  Stir in the mustard and add the stock. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it melts.  This will help to emulsify the saucy leeks a little.  Put the chicken pieces back on top of the leeks, pop the lid on and transfer the pan to the oven.  Cook at 160°c for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes to crisp the chicken skins and reduce the sauce a little.

I served this with a pan of brown rice, and we had pre-dinner munches on root vegetable crisps (with a cheeky G&T for me!)

Cath xx

Friday, 25 February 2011

Feeling Greeky

I have been remiss with trying out recipe ideas recently, so I've taken advantage of the latter, less busy, part of the half-term holidays to try out some new things.  Now, I know that this kind of pie is nothing new (sorry spanokopita), but I like to think that there is a place for my distracted version; mainly just stirring stuff together, but with a nice bit of pastry layering to feel like I've done some 'real' cooking (what a ludicrous phrase that is - all cooking is real cooking, unless it's merely re-heating, I suppose... but what else am I supposed to do with leftovers?)

'Greek-Style' Cheese & Spinach Pie

For the 'hard cheese' specified, I use a roughly half-and-half mixture of parmesan and cheddar, but either would be fine on its own, or use a different, well-flavoured hard cheese.  I do wonder about blue cheese as an idea, too, maybe with walnuts replacing the almonds?  Perhaps another day...

600g spinach, (2 big bags from the supermarket)
handful flaked almonds
good pinch dried oregano
3 eggs
200g feta cheese (or similar Greek-style' or 'salad' cheese)
150g hard cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
good grating of fresh nutmeg
50g or so butter, melted
1 (supermarket) packet of filo pastry - 12 sheets

Wilt the spinach in a couple of batches by plonking it in a colander and pouring a kettle-full of boiling water over it.  Remove it to a big bowl and leave to cool.  Repeat with the second batch.  When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, being careful in case there are any 'hidden' pockets of hot water.  Set aside.  Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until just golden, remove to a dish and add the dried oregano immediately.  Stir, and the delicious aroma of the herb will be released. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the cheeses, the garlic, a little black pepper and plenty of nutmeg (lush with spinach).  You don't need to add salt, the cheese is plenty salty enough.  Finally, add the nuts/herb mixture and the roughly chopped spinach.  Mix well.

Brush the inside of a pie dish with melted butter and lay a few sheets of filo over to cover the base and overhang at the sides.  Brush with butter again, then top with some of the spinach mixture.  Repeat with another layer of buttered filo; another layer of spinach filling . Finish with a nice thick layer of buttered filo sheets.  Sprinkle with another pinch of dried oregano, for pretty, if you like.  Bake at 180°c for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.  Serve with a cucumber or tomato salad (or both, or something else entirely, if you like, hehehe).  We nibbled on some black olives and feta that I'd marinaded in garlic oil beforehand.
Cath xx


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