Treated Like a Princess for the Night

Most days, I spend hours in the kitchen either cooking or cleaning. With four children, a husband, a dog, and various people popping in and out, there is always food to prepare and pots to wash.

This week, my children were away on a camping trip and my husband and I were in the house on our own. On our last night without the children, he locked me out of the kitchen and told me to have a nice bath and relax. 

When I got out of the bath and redressed, I couldn’t believe what he had done. He had prepared a steak, chips, mushrooms, tomatoes, and pepper sauce with a side salad. The table was set up with glasses of red wine and roses that he had bought for me. He had also lit candles all the way around the dining room. He even did the washing up and cleaned all the kitchen. 

My husband had decided I deserved a night off from the cooking and wanted to treat me like a princess. I felt well and truly spoiled. I am a very lucky woman to have a man like him who wants to give me a break and take care of me the way he does. 

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RECIPE: Loaded Potato Skins with Soured Cream and Chive Dip

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Pre-recipe warning, this one is not good for the waistline. However, it is absolutely delicious! This is the sort of comfort food that you can serve at any time of the year and as either a starter or a main meal, depending on the size of the portion. Here is an easy recipe for loaded potato skins that makes 24 skins. 

Ingredients for Loaded Potato Skins

  • 6 large white potatoes
  • 250g hard cheese, such as Cheddar, grated
  • 6 rashers of bacon
  • To serve- soured cream and chives

How to Make Loaded Potato Skins

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Wash and dry the potatoes and put on a baking tray.
  3. Put the tray in the oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the skins are beginning to brown and the potatoes feel soft when you squeeze them (using an oven glove). 
  4. 10 minutes before the potatoes are cooked, add the rashers of bacon to another baking tray and put in the oven so they are cooked and ready to remove at the same time as the potatoes.Turn off the oven.
  5. Leave the potatoes on the side to cool and break your bacon into small pieces. 
  6. When the potatoes are cooled, cut in half.
  7. Scoop out most of the soft potato flesh to leave hollow skins with just a thin layer of potato. (See tip for ways to use the leftover potato).
  8. Turn on your deep fat fryer and set to around 180C.
  9. While this is heating, cut the potatoes lengthways so that each potato skin is a quarter of a potato. 
  10. Fry the potato skins in batches for five minutes until browned and crispy and then transfer onto the baking tray. 
  11. Sprinkle over the cheese and pieces of bacon.
  12. Turn on the grill and place the loaded potato skins under for long enough to melt the cheese.
  13. Serve the skins with a dollop of soured cream sprinkled with chopped chives. 

TIPS

Don’t waste the potato filling! There are plenty of things you can do with it. Since cooking the loaded potato skins yesterday, I have made crunchy tuna fishcakes for tea tonight. You can also mash it up to serve with meat or as a topping for a fish pie or cottage pie. 

 

RECIPE: Cottage Pie

cot pie 6

British food is all about using simple ingredients from Britain to create tasty, filling dishes. The perfect example of a traditional British dish is cottage pie. This simple classic is a family favourite in homes across Britain as it is easy and cheap to make and hit with members of the family of all ages. If you are not familiar with a cottage pie, it consists of a base made with minced meat and rich gravy that is then topped with creamy mashed potatoes. This is usually served with seasonal vegetables. Here is an easy recipe for cottage pie for six people.

Ingredients for Cottage Pie

  • 800g minced beef
  • 1.5 kg potatoes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 200g mushrooms, chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 50 ml milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp gravy granules
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make Cottage Pie

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks and put into a large saucepan filled with water.
  2. Season the potatoes with a little salt and put the saucepan on a high heat on the hob for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4 and heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the minced beef to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes until meat is beginning to brown. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and make sure all the meat is browned.
  5. Add the chopped onions and mushrooms to the frying pan and cook for a further five minutes.
  6. Season the meat, onions, and mushrooms with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour enough boiling water over the meat to just cover it.
  8. Stir in the gravy granules and cook for ten minutes on a reduced heat.
  9. While the meat is cooking in the gravy, drain the potatoes and return to the pan.
  10. Put the saucepan on the hob over a low heat.
  11. Add the milk and butter and season with pepper. 
  12. Mash the potatoes thoroughly so there are no lumps. Using a fork to whisk the potatoes after mashing can help get rid of any remaining lumps. 
  13. Tip the mince and gravy mixture into a large ovenproof dish.
  14. Using a spoon, add the mashed potatoes to the top of the minced beef. Alternatively, use a piping bag to create a patterned topping.
  15. If you have spooned the mashed potatoes on, smooth them out using the back of a spoon and then run a fork along the top to create a pattern. This will help some parts to crisp a little in the oven.
  16. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15-minutes until the top is beginning to brown and the gravy is coming up the sides of the dish. 
  17. Serve with either seasonal vegetables or peas and pickles. 

 

RECIPE: Burgers and Sweet Potato Skinny Fries

burgers

I am not a big fan of frozen or prepackaged burgers or of those made by fast food chains. However, I do like a decent homemade burger. They are far tastier when you make them yourself and they are really quick and easy to make. I recently served them with sweet potato skinny fries and a generous serving of my homemade funky red cabbage slaw. Here is how to make six burgers with sweet potato skinny fries.

Ingredients for the Burgers

  • 600g minced beef
  • 6 brioche buns
  • 2 oz cheese
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • 1 beaten egg
  • t tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Skinny Fries

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 200 ml vegetable oil
  • Salt

How to Make Homemade Burgers

  1. Add the minced meat, the beaten egg, the chopped onion, and the crushed garlic into a large mixing bowl and combine with your hands. 
  2. Add the oil to a large frying pan and put over a medium heat.
  3. Separate the meat mixture into six balls and press into flat patties. 
  4. Put three of the burgers into the pan and cook for five minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through.
  5. Repeat with the remaining three burgers.
  6. While the remaining burgers are in the pan, butter the brioche buns and melt the cheese in a microwave for one minute. 
  7. When the burgers are all cooked, add them to the brioche buns and top with a little of the melted cheese.
  8. Serve with skinny fries and funky red cabbage slaw.

How to Make Skinny Fries

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C. 
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes horizontally to give yourself a flat surface to stand the sweet potatoes.
  3. While they are stood on their flat end, slice them vertically to approximately 0.5 centimetres thickness.
  4. Lie each slice flat and slice again to create skinny fries that are approximately 0.5 cm thickness. 
  5. Add the oil to a saucepan and put over a high heat on the hob. 
  6. In batches, fry the sweet potato fries for a few minutes until beginning to go crisp before putting on kitchen paper to drain the excess fat.
  7. Transfer all the part-cooked skinny fries to a baking tray and sprinkle generously with salt.
  8. Put the baking tray in the oven and cook for a further ten minutes until the fries are crisp. 
  9. Serve with the burgers and funky red cabbage slaw. 

If you want to serve this with my funky red cabbage slaw, then use this recipe here.

RECIPE: Braised Steak in Onion Gravy

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Braising steak is usually one of the cheaper cuts of beef, so it is a fantastic choice for those on a budget. It is also a good choice if you are a fan of slow-cooking techniques and like to prepare a meal in the morning before leaving for work so that serving dinner takes very little effort when returning home. I made this delicious braising steak with onion gravy for tea yesterday and served it with potato gratin (recipe here), fine green beans, and julienne potatoes. Below is a picture of how much the boys in my house were enjoying eating their braised steak, which was literally falling apart because it was so tender. Here is an easy recipe for braised steak with onion gravy to serve 4 people. 

boys at tea

Ingredients for Braised Steak with Onion Gravy

  • 4 braising steaks
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 heaped tbsp gravy granules
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Braised Steak with Onion Gravy

  • Preheat the oven to a low setting.
  • Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat on the hob. 
  • Season the braising steaks on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Put two of the steaks in the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side to brown.
  • Transfer the steaks to an ovenproof dish.
  • Repeat with the two remaining steaks.
  • Add the onions to the pan and fry for approximately 3 minutes or until turning brown
  • Transfer the onions to the ovenproof dish with the braising steaks. 
  • Boil a kettle of water and pour enough over the steaks and onions to cover plus an extra inch.
  • Add a lid to the dish or cover with kitchen foil. 
  • Put in the oven and cook on a low heat for 4-5 hours. (If you are out of the house for longer, it is fine)
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the gravy granules. Stir into the water and juices.
  • Turn the oven up to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  • Recover the dish and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with your choice of potatoes and vegetables. 

RECIPE: Cheat’s Leftover Turkey Curry

turkey curry 7

This is only called ‘Cheat’s Leftover Turkey Curry’ as it is made predominantly from store cupboard ingredients rather than creating a spice mix or paste as you would in a traditional Indian dish. Each Easter and Christmas I cook a turkey and there is always plenty of meat leftover. The kids usually have turkey sandwiches for lunch the next day and then I make a turkey curry for dinner. Here is how to make an easy turkey curry from leftovers. 

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients for Turkey Curry

  • Shredded cooked meat from 1/2 turkey breast or one turkey leg (I use a combination of both)
  • 1 pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed 
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped or grated (or 1 tsp of ground ginger)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large knob of butter

How to Make Turkey Curry

  1. Heat the oil and the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat on the hob.
  2. Add the chopped chillies, ginger, and garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cumin, chilli powder, and curry powder and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Add the onions and peppers to the pan and cook for five minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and mango chutney.
  6. Stir through and simmer for ten minutes.
  7. Add the chopped turkey meat to the pan and stir through so that there is an even distribution of meat and it is covered by the liquid.
  8. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Serve with pilau rice, naan bread, and raita

RECIPE: Pork Medallions with Creamy Mushroom and Mustard Sauce

pork medallions 2

If you are looking for a new way to serve pork instead of a traditional roast or pork chops, then you should give these pork medallions with a creamy mushroom sauce a try. It is a simple dish to make that has a variety of serving options. Here is how to make pork medallions with a creamy mushroom and mustard sauce

Ingredients for Pork Medallions with Creamy Mushroom and Mustard Sauce

  • 2 pork loins
  • 300g mushrooms
  • 300 ml double cream 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp English mustard
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper

How to Make Pork Medallions with Creamy Mushroom and Mustard Sauce

  1. Trim the fat and any sinews from the pork loins.
  2. Slice the pork loins into medallions approximately 2 inches thick.
  3. Season the medallions with salt and black pepper. 
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat on the hob.
  5. Add the pork medallions to the pan four at a time. Fry until browned on one side and then turn over.
  6. Remove the first batch and add the second. Add a little more oil if necessary.
  7. Once all the pork medallions are cooked, transfer to a baking tray and put on a low heat in the oven to keep warm.
  8. Using the same pan you cooked the medallions in, add the onions to the fat and meat juices. Fry for five minutes until browned. 
  9. Add the crushed garlic and sliced mushrooms to the pan. Continue to cook for a further five minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through and stir occasionally. 
  10. Add the cream to the pan and stir through to pick up the juices from the bottom of the pan.
  11. Season with salt and black pepper.
  12. Add the English mustard and dijon mustard and stir through again. 
  13. Leave the sauce to simmer for five minutes and thicken.
  14. Serve the medallions onto plates and top with the creamy mushroom sauce. 

TIPS

Serving suggestion– I either serve this with rice like a stroganoff or with crispy potatoes and seasonal vegetables.