Doesn’t that just make you happy rice

Plain Basmati Rice

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A cup of rice, with magic just waiting to happen

Rice is one of the worlds treasures, the magic that exists in a palm full of rice is amazing, simple and versatile and easy to unlock with a simple method.  Water and heat, but in which combination.   I grew up with the boil to death technique, sieve and pour over a kettle of water and hope that the rice has survived the process.  Then when I left for university I discovered and upgraded to brown rice, and this to my mind enjoys the boil to death technique, 30 mins should do it.  It was good, it was healthy but it didn’t quite have the magic that white basmati has when cooked to perfection.  The recipe below comes close to it!   When the time comes to take the lid off…….it will just make you happy!   

  • The key to this recipe is steam and warmth, a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid is essential to this process, it keeps the heat and steam to cook the rice through.
  • Do not lift the lid or you will miss all that heavenly glory!  (Sorry Bruce Lee quote coming through there)

Ingredients

  • 200g basmati Rice, or a teacup
  • 15 butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 400ml boiling water, or 1½ teacup full

Directions

  1. In a heavy pan melt the butter
  2. Add the rice to the butter and stir through, the rice will become slightly translucent and gasping for water
  3. Add a pinch of salt and then the water
  4. Bring to a simmer and then place the lid onto the pan.  Turn the heat down as low as possible.
  5. Leave to cook for 12 minutes…..without peaking!
  6. Take the pan off the heat and leave for another 10 minutes…..without peaking….have faith!
  7. Now you can lift the lid and carefully using a fork, fluff the rice up and serve
  8. Doesn’t that just make you happy?

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Bolognese – Authentic Edinburgh Cook Style

Bolognese EdinburghCook Style

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bolognese

Bolognese when I was a boy came from a Colman’s packet, a dry substance that was mixed with hot water and mince that had been browned for 5 minutes or so served with a bland starchy spaghetti. My sister and I desperately trying to convince my dad that it would be great idea, worth a change and add some variety to our menu. I can’t remember how we convinced him, but we did and it was horrible! Maybe it was us, we weren’t cooks, the sauce I remember was so watery and tasteless, we put a brave face on and made out it was great! We didn’t get to try again, probably a good thing!

As a student I moved onto jars of Dolmio probably buy 1 get 1 free and then later after graduation more sophisticated jars of pasta sauce with bake in the oven magic skills. At some point though I became aware that these jars came with sugar, salt and all manner of preservatives. I’m pretty sure they came with the word authentic across the label, or just like mama used to make. Somehow I became aware that all that was really needed was a tin of good quality tomatoes, some seasoning, good mince and some slow cook time.

I’ve come across many variations of a Bolognese recipe all claiming to be authentic and I’ve tried a few of them, hoping to come across the secret sauce, the be all and end all of all Bolognese recipes to end them all. I’ve come to realise that the authentic Bolognese is your own recipe…the one that works for you and your family.

Mine, I adapt for the mood, it’s always made with view of having enough to freeze, use up the onions and the carrots from the veg box, even the odd chilli and then I add kidney beans as well…..please don’t shoot me….I know it’s not traditional authentic…..it works for us though! I hope you get something from my recipe!


Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File
Prep: This roughly covers 12 portions, we get 3 meals for 4 in terms of freezer prep. Good sized casserole dish, heavy based pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 100g pancetta or bacon (I use ham ends from the butcher), diced
  • 2 Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 2-3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1kg mince (Our butcher now does minced pork, so I use 500g of pork and 500g beef)
  • 1 tblsp dried oregano
  • 300ml red wine (could use white)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g split red lentils (controversial! Optional)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 150ml whole milk

To serve, up until recently we were big fans of Spaghetti or Fusilli. My recent discovery being that Spaghetti is a British/American take on the dish. More traditional would be Tagliatelle or Pappardelle and mixed into the pasta rather than served on top in a big dollop.

Goes without saying freshly grated parmesan adds that true authentic taste!

Directions

  1. Heat the oil, and gently brown the bacon
  2. With the heat at a gentle setting, add the veg to this and soften the onions, garlic, carrots and celery with the idea of creating a Soffrito, a soft base of veg
  3. At this point I tip this into a bowl and put to a side….just so I can really get stuck in with the meat. You can crumble the mince straight into the pan if you like.
  4. Turn the heat up slightly and using a wooden spoon break the mince down, browning it as you go. The mince needs to have lost all its colour.
  5. Once browned throw the veg back in if you went for the separate bowl option.
  6. Add the Oregano, stir through.
  7. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper
  8. Add the Wine and stir through, bring to a simmer.
  9. Add the tomatoes and the purée, stir through and bring to a simmer then lower the heat and pop the lid on for an 1hr 30mins. You just want the ragu to talk to itself for an hour so. Keep an eye on it…I like to nurture it.
  10. At this point I stir in the milk….some people add a bit of dark chocolate. The milk adds a subtle creaminess that I like
  11. At this point I gage whether it’s too runny and add the lentils in, simmer and stir for 30 mins. This both soaks up the liquid at the same time as bulking out the meal for the boys who just seem to be eating more and more! You could just take the lid off and simmer slowly for 30 mins to thicken up

Chicken Potatoes & Rosemary

Chicken Pot Roast

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken Pot Roast for 2

A dreich weekend, a head cold to boot and looking after our nephews called for a simple bang in the oven treat. Chicken was the staple of my youth, but there was not a herb in site let alone garlic, just bisto! 

Credit: Granny’s Recipe File

Prep: You’ll need a large bowl for tossing the ingredients together and a lidded roasting dish.  The recipe will scale easily, so chose an appropriate roasting dish. This is perfect for 2 in a small le Creuset

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • 3 medium roasting potatoes cut into chunks
  • 100g Bacon Pieces/diced streaky
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 Onion Quartered and then chopped again
  • 2 Sprigs of Rosemary, or few sprigs of thyme
  • Olive Oil
  • Juice of a Lemon
  • 2 tbsp Crème Fraiche

The recipe card recommends serving with a green salad, or braised cabbage like I did.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c
  2. In a large bowl, mix/turn over the potatoes with
    • Chopped onions
    • Diced bacon
    • Finely sliced garlic
    • Finely chopped rosemary or thyme
    • Good glug of olive oil
  3. Once everything coated with the oil tip into the casserole dish
  4. Place the chicken pieces on top, brush with a little oil if you want the skin to colour
  5. Place in the oven with the lid on for 40 mins
  6. After this make a judgement call,
    1. I took the lid off and placed back in the oven to colour the skin
    2. Could have taken the chicken out and roasted separately if the veg was well on its way.
  7. Take the chicken out and place on a plate
  8. Add the lemon juice and the crème fraiche to the potatoes and turn over

 

Beef Curry – Granny’s Way

Beef Curry Granny Style

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Slow cook Beef curry, with apple and raisins

Sunday and a blue sky chilly day, a chance to walk with the sun in our faces.  We made it over the top of Blackford Hill and along the Hermitage to the Lodge for a cheeky scone.  At the back of my mind the desire to try Granny’s curry which would definitely fit the bill of a warming wintry slow cook allowing us to get on with watching a Boys film from the recorded Christmas TV.  

Credit: Granny’s Recipe File

Prep:  Large casserole dish hob and oven friendly

Oven: 180°c or 350°f

Ingredients

      • 650g Stewing Beef diced
      • Rapeseed/Olive Oil
      • 2 large onions diced
      • 1 cooking apple, peeled and chopped
      • 1 tbsp curry powder
      • 25g plain flour
      • 1 (400g) tin of chopped tomatoes
      • 500ml Water
      • 1 tbsp chutney
      • 50g sultanas or raisins
      • Juice of a lemon

Directions

      1. Heat a glug of olive oil in the casserole dish on a high heat
      2. Sear 1/2 or 1/3 of the beef until brown on each side
      3. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in bowl to add back in later
      4. Add another glug of oil if needed and repeat until all the beef is seared
      5. Once all the beef is seared, add another glug and soften the onion and apple
      6. Add the curry powder, stir through and cook for a minute or so
      7. Add the flour and again stir through and cook for a minute or so
      8. Add in the tomatoes and stir through
      9. Add the dried fruit, the beef with it’s juices, the lemon juice and the water, stirring through
      10. Then place in the centre of the oven for 2 hours

Post-Recipe Notes: Granny loved to add raisins to everything.  This a glossy, sweet and sour curry the apple disappears and there is a hidden back note to the dish.  Curry powder feels cheatsy, quick and easy to rustle this up before banging in the oven. 

Roasted Squash, Bacon and Spinach Risotto

#squash #spinach #bacon #risotto

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Week 5 of the re-wire and at last the sparkies have finished.  They were a great couple of guys but the house has been turned up side down.  It feels like we’ve moved house and this time we don’t know where anything is.  Throughout though we’ve managed to keep the veggie box going and this week we were topically (Halloween) re-warded with a small squash.

When I saw it I knew immediately what I wanted to make and my mind sprung to getting my eldest in on the act, away from his screen with a lesson in the dark art of absorption.

Roasting a squash might feel like a faff.  Once in the oven though, you crack on with the risotto and the squash takes care of itself.

  • Small Squash
  • 225g Smoked Bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • Onion diced
  • Garlic Clove, crushed
  • 1.2 Litre of stock (we used bouillon)
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • Olive or Rapeseed Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Creme Fraiche
  • Spinach 200g or so

Peel the squash, half it and scoop out the seeds.   Dice both halves into good bite sized cubes.  Place on a roasting tray drizzle with some oil and place into the oven for 30 mins or so on 180°C.

Once your squash is in the oven, crack on with Risotto.

A good sized pan is needed for this as basically everything is going to end-up in it!

Fry the bacon in some oil, scoop out once cooked and put to one side, try to leave as much as the oil as possible.

Then soften the onion, crushed garlic in the oil on a gentle heat.  Add the spices at this point and cook for another minute.

Add the Arborio rice at this point.  I joke with my son here that the rice will start to talk to you when it’s ready for some liquid.

Add a ladle of stock.  Simmer and stir until absorbed and keep doing this until all the stock has gone.   The rice should be soft to the bite, you might need a little less liquid or a little more.  Use your judgement.  Stir in the creme fraiche and the bacon.  Add the spinach, this will wilt down which is a surprise in itself.

Finally fold in the roasted squash.

 

Autumn Term and a Warming Stew

Enjoying the colours!

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There is a definite change in the air, the turning of the colour on the leaves and the last few days has seen an omni present dewy dampness in the morning that is burnt off in the September sun.

This is one of my favourite times of the year from a cooks perspective.  The foodie will notice the change on the cover of magazines, long gone are the healthy salads ready to make you virtuous before the day is out ready to hit the beach in your skimpy speedos.  Now is the time to hit the comforting autumn bounty, the central heating is on after all.  With squashes and apple delights adorning the magazine racks.  To pick one up makes you feel comfortable just to the touch.

The weekend saw me caught between the headlights on so many fronts and trying to cope and keep the family nurished is a priority.  If you find yourself in this situation then putting something in a slow cooker is ideal with minimum stress.  This version completely disregards sealing the meat, a faff at the best of times!  Although I can hear a million voices cry out in anger…..I just didn’t have the time.

  • 2 medium sized onions diced
  • 1kg Stewing Lamb
  • 2 tins of pulses (Chefs choice, I use chick peas and canneloni)
  • 250g chopped mushrooms (I quarter them)
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika (or a spice mix that gives a little warmth)
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 50 grams red split lentils
  • 50 grams brown split lentils
  1. Soften the onions in a glug of olive oil
  2. Add the spice to the onions and stir in for a minute or so
  3. Put everything in the slow cooker at this point, except the split lentils
  4. High heat for a good 2 hours
  5. At this point give it a good stir and use your judgement.  Think about how you like your stew, I find a good hundred grams of lentils at this point is the ideal thing to both soak up and thinken the juices.
  6. I leave in the slow cooker for another hour or so on low heat in order to cook the lentils

This easily does the four of us two meals, great for freezing and good for a quick reheat mid week. Serve with potatoes or couscous. Or as a chunky soup with a big chunky slice of bread.

Butternut and Bacon Risotto

Butternut and Bacon Risotto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A comforting bowl of Risotto.

Autumn is a lovely time for cooking and a great excuse to bring-on the heart warming comfort food that make the shorter nights bearable. I’d planned on making a risotto for Sunday night tea, but purely bacon and mushroom. The squash was an after thought after I didn’t manage to use it in a soup, but what a discovery…..roasted and stirred into the risotto at the end creates the most amazing tasting sauce that’s thick and unctuous and just what you need to chase the cold nights away. Risotto is so versatile, once you have a basic recipe you can mould it to your needs.

Credit: EdinburghCook

You need a good sized pan that will take a litre of stock, mushrooms and rice and allows a good stir….on this occasion I chose a pot that was too small! I managed though!

Ingredients

      • 1 leek, chopped into small pieces
      • 1 clove of garlic
      • 6 rashers, good quality smoked bacon
      • Knob of butter
      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 300g Arborio(Risotto) Rice
      • 1 Glass of wine or sherry
      • 200g Chestnut Mushrooms, quartered
      • Optional – Butternut Squash, roasted see below
      • Optional – Butter Beans (Which I had left over from cooking too many – use tinned for ease)
      • 75-100g Gruyere or Parmesan grated
      • 1 litre of stock (I used Bouillon). Hot.

Directions

Roasted Squash

      1. Chop the squash in half and scoop out the seeds
      2. Rub a little olive oil on the flesh of each half
      3. Place on a roasting tray and into a hot oven (180c) for 40 mins
      4. Allow to cool and then you can scoop out the soft flesh
      5. I had quite a large squash so only used half for the above recipe and used the other half for soup.

Risotto

      1. Chop up the bacon into bite size pieces and fry the bacon in the olive oil until it starts to colour, decant the bacon onto a plate. Try to keep the juices in the pot.
      2. Add the butter and melt, stir in the leek and soften, crush the garlic and add to the leek.
      3. Add the rice and coat, in the leek, butter and garlic. The idea is to the heat the rice right through so that’s ready to start absorbing all the liquid we are going to throw at it
      4. Pour in the wine, and stir…this will be quickly absorbed
      5. Add a ladle of the stock, and stir until absorbed….repeat this until you have a little of the stock left……I find this process quite satisfying, and if you like a glass of wine whilst you cook….this is the perfect time!
      6. Add the mushrooms
      7. Stir in the butternut squash
      8. Stir in the butter beans if using
      9. Add the extra stock if you need it
      10. Add you bacon back in
      11. Stir in the cheese and serve