Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie

Autumn is in the air and I am already craving for comfort food. The trouble about winter recipes compared to summer ones is they always take so much longer to cook. Gone are the warm evenings and just chucking something on the barbie.

Winter is all peeling, chopping, stewing and slow-cooking. What I like about this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s fabulous recipe book “Cook”, is that although it obviously needs hours to bubble away, the actual prep is really quick. There is no laborious and messy browning of the meat and the result is sensational. I usually make a double batch and put one pie in the freezer for a rainy day.

Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie

Serves 4

3 red onions

3 cloves of garlic

2 carrots

2 sticks of celery

4 field mushrooms

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

olive oil

1 kg quality brisket or stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes

440 ml Guinness (no lager, please!)

2 heaped tablespoons plain flour

150 g Cheddar cheese

170 g all-butter puff pastry (I used ready rolled)

1 large free-range egg

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5.

Peel and chop the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery, slice the mushrooms, and pick and finely chop the rosemary. Heat a lug of oil in a large ovenproof pan over a low heat, add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up, add the garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms, then mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, and a pinch of sea salt and 1 level teaspoon of black pepper. Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover.

Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven for 2½ hours, or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick, stirring halfway. A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob and reduce until the sauce thickens.

Coarsely grate the cheese, stir half through the pie filling, then transfer to a pie dish and leave to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin (or use ready rolled like I did.)

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pie filling. Place the pastry over the top of the pie dish pinching or folding and tucking in the edges to seal, piecing the pie with a knife once or twice to let out the steam. Beat the egg, then brush over the top of the pie and bake directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked, puffed and beautifully golden. Delicious served simply with peas.

Goat’s Cheese, Mushroom and Watercress Frittata

My next Frittata was a real winner, The combination of goat’s cheese, mushrooms and watercress was particularly nice. I am really fond of this goat’s cheese from Abergavenney that I found at Sainsburys as it is the closest thing I can find to a fresh cheese and it works really well in this.

Goat’s Cheese, Mushroom and Watercress Frittata

Serves 2

Extra virgin olive oil

150g mushrooms, thinly sliced

180g fresh style goats cheese

Large handful of watercress

4 large eggs, beaten

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 170C. Heat some oil in a medium non-stick, ovenproof frying pan. Add the mushrooms and cook over a medium heat with a pinch of salt, for about 10-15 mins until golden brown. Add the watercress and cook for a few minutes more until the watercress has wilted.  In a bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add the mushrooms and watercress and season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Wipe out the frying pan. Add a dash of olive oil. Put the pan back on a medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and scatter over chunks of the goat’s cheese. Leave on the heat, just until the bottom and sides begin to set. Put in the oven until just firm, about 10 minutes. It is up to you whether you flip the frittata over or serve it the same side up. Cut into wedges and serve with a nice salad.

Mushroom Pizza

The sun is out and you want to be using the BBQ but it is sometimes hard to think up vegetarian dishes and also keep the kids content at the same time. I served up this Mushroom Pizza with a big salad on the side and for once everyone was happy. You will need a BBQ with a lid though, but the additional heat that a BBQ can go (around 400C) makes the pizza that much better and as close as I am ever going to get to owning a wood-fired pizza oven.

Mushroom Pizza

Mushrooms, thinly sliced

Mozarella

Pastata (I use Pizza Express)

Pizza dough

Fresh thyme

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garlic oil (made with peeled garlic cloves whizzed up with extra virgin olive oil)

Truffle oil (optional)

A pizza stone really helps when cooking pizza on the BBQ or in the oven as the pizza has a hot base to go onto and the bottom crisps up beautifully, but if you do not have one, preheat the BBQ or oven (as hot as possible) with a metal tray in side and transfer the pizza straight on to that.

Roll out the pizza dough as thin as possible. Place the disk onto a floured flat baking sheet. Shake the sheet to ensure the pizza is not going to stick. Add your toppings, tomato first and then mushrooms. Season lightly and add the mozzarella, fresh thyme and drizzle with garlic oil or truffle oil if using. With a quick decisive motion, transfer the pizza directly on to you hot surface. Quickly close the oven or BBQ to avoid heat escaping. Cook until bubbling and golden brown.

Save

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

This is such a great use-up dish at the end of the week, when your fridge is still full of veg and you know your next veg box is coming. You can throw in whatever you like and haven’t even padded it out with noodle, it is just veg, veg and more veg and you can be sure you have got your 10 a day

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

Serves 2

Teriyaki sauce varies hugely. My favourite is Waitrose home-brand.

Large knob of fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 fresh red chillies

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Handful of purple sprouting broccoli, sliced finely

Head o Bok, Choi shredded

Few sticks of celery and its leaves, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons

Sweet mixed peppers, sliced, seeds removed

Teriyaki (for gluten free a mixture of Mirin, gluten free soy and Chinese cooking rice wine)

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Chopped cashew nuts, toasted

Sea salt

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Mushrooms and Chard with Baked Eggs and Parmesan

I love baked eggs. This is a really healthy version with plenty of veg and makes a quick lunch or light supper.

Mushrooms and Chard with Baked Eggs & Parmesan

Serves 2

I head swiss chard, leaves and stems separated

Extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

300g mushrooms, roughly sliced

100ml double cream

Pinch of chilli flakes

4 medium organic free-range eggs

100g grated parmesan

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chop the chard stems and boil with the leaves in a large pan of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove the chard with a slotted spoon and spread out to cool in a large colander. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion. Cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes until softened. Next add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and they begin to fry. Season well with salt and pepper.  Then add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Squeeze the excess water from the chard and roughly chop. Add to the mushrooms and stir well. Add the cream and the chilli and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning. Tip into a gratin dish.

Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Make 4 indentations in the mixture and crack an egg into each one, gently pushing the yolks down with the back of a spoon so they’re covered by white. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 15-20 minutes until the eggs are just set. Eat straightaway with sourdough toast.

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

I always forget about polenta, which is a shame, because I love it. It is the ultimate comfort food, like savoury porridge. If you have had it before and found it a bit bland, it is because you did not add enough of two very important ingredients – a large knob of butter and a generous handful of parmesan. You can have it grilled or baked but I prefer classic “wet polenta” topped with lots of lovely sautéed seasonal vegetables.

Most polenta you buy now is instant (precooked) and will be done in a minute but it is worth looking out for the king of polentas – Bramata which will take nearer 20 minutes to cook, but it is worth it!

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

8 mushrooms, sliced

Large handful of Kale, stripped from the stalks

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

For the Polenta

750ml water

200g polenta

50g unsalted butter

50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the mushrooms in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep cooking – the mushrooms will sweat and then started to fry and then turn golden brown.

Strip the kale from its stems and put a pan of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 2 minutes or so before removing the leaves with a slotted spoon. Lay out the leaves to cool on a clean, dry tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the kale Add another glug of oil to the mushrooms and add the garlic slithers and cook until light golden brown. Add the kale and a little salt. Stir well to break up the kale and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning.

For the polenta, bring the water to a simmer, add salt, whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. Add the butter and cheese and stir vigorously. Pour onto a plate and top with the mushrooms and kale.

Sweet Baby Pepper, Mushroom, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese and Olive Pizza

I make up batches of pizza dough and keep it in the freezer for a quick supper. You can top them with all sorts of vegetables. It is fun to think up new combinations. These sweet baby peppers which are in the boxes at the moment are particularly good!  If you can’t be bothered to make your own pizza dough then you can actually buy it ready made in the freezer section of Waitrose. They also do a ready baked pizza crust for those of you who are really pushed for time.

sweet-baby-pepper-mushroom-red-onion-goats-cheese-and-olive-pizza-1

Sweet Baby Pepper, Mushroom, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese and Olive Pizza

Pizza dough – follow link for my recipe

Tomato Pasata (I like Pizza Expresses)

Sweet baby peppers

A few mushrooms

1 red onion

200g of goat’s cheese, Chevre Blanc

Dried Oregano

A pinch of salt

Stoned black olives

Preheat the oven to 250C. Put a large baking sheet in the oven. Roll out the pizza dough as thin as possible, especially in the middle. Sprinkle some flour onto a completely flat baking sheet and place your dough on top. Shake to make sure it is not sticking. Spread some pasata on top. Go up to the edges but not over them. Slice the onion very finely with a mandolin. Slice the peppers through widthways. Slice the mushrooms very thinly. Scatter the onion, mushrooms and peppers all over the pasata. Be generous especially with the peppers. Top with a sprinkling of marjoram and salt. Top with slices of goat’s cheese and olives. Slide the whole pizza off the baking sheet, straight onto the hot baking sheet in the oven. Cook until golden brown. Serve straight away.

sweet-babby

Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with Bacon and Torta di Gorgonzola

I never make stuffed mushrooms. I don’t know why. It is just one of those recipes which never springs to mind. But they are so quick and simple I thought I would give them a go. And they had to be filled with some of my favourite ingredients – bacon and Torta di Gorgonzola. This is my favourite Gorgonzola, as the cheese is layered with cream cheese, which makes it less strong, but twice as creamy. Most supermarkets sell it but if you can find any, trying cutting the amount of Gorgonzola, or any blue cheese with some cream cheese.

Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with Bacon and Torta di Gorgonzola

1 large onion, finely chopped onion

5 to 6 slices bacon, finely chopped

70 g Torta di Gorgonzola, cut into small cubes

70 g freshly made breadcrumbs

Sea Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

4 large Portobello mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 180 C.  Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely, leaving the mushrooms whole. In a large frying pan fry the bacon in a little oil until really crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. Add a large knob of butter to the pan and cook the onions gently until really soft. Add the mushroom stalks and cook on for another 5 minutes or so. Add the breadcrumbs and season well with salt and pepper and mix together. Stir in the cheese.

Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Bake until the mushrooms are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

mushrooms

Save

Leek and Mushroom Brown and Wild Rice Pilaf

I love leeks. Not the insipid, colourless and tasteless looking ones you get ready trimmed in the supermarket. I mean the ones that look like they have just been pulled out of a muddy field, in rolling, autumnal countryside. They seem as if they are as if they are as old as time, and indeed they are apparently mentioned in the bible.

This is a really quick and easy recipe. It is a one-pot-dish and what’s more, it is really good for you.

leek-and-mushroom-brown-and-wild-rice-pilaf-2

Leek and Mushroom Brown and Wild Rice Pilaf

I added coriander because I love it, but you could use another herb such as parsley and maybe a little drizzle of white truffle oil.

750mls vegetable or chicken stock (can be made with 2 good quality cubes)

200g brown basmati and wild rice mix (can be ready bought or mix your own)

40g butter

Glug extra virgin oil

2 large leeks, finely sliced and well washed

300g fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Fresh herbs – coriander or parsley

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed large saucepan (with a lid.) Add the leek and a good glug of olive oil. Sweat down for about 10-15 minutes until they are just beginning to caramelise. Add the mushrooms and cook down once again. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir and then the stock. Cover with the lid and cook on a low heat for about 40 minutes.  Check once or twice whilst cooking and stir. When rice is tender, remove from heat. Stir in the chopped herbs and check seasoning.

Slit leeks

Roast Chicken Breast with Mushroom, Thyme and Cream Sauce

When I think of Autumn, I think of mushrooms and unsurprisingly they are in all of the Riverford boxes this week.

mushrooms

This is a recipe I came up with for the family I cook for every week. When I was working as a chef in French restaurants, sauces could take literally hours to prepare, from the stocks, to the demi-glace, to the reductions. I don’t have time for that sort of cooking anymore, but I have discovered that sherry is a great way of cheating. You need an Amontillado or a medium dry one. I don’t know how, but it replicates the taste of a really well reduced stock with a wine reduction and when combined with umami rich ingredients such as chicken and mushrooms it transforms them into something really special. In short, they taste like a dish in a super expensive restaurant, which is always a treat, especially when it is really quick and easy.

I did a little bit of research and was very disappointed to discover that Heston Blumenthal had also worked this out and written whole essays on the subject but this is meant to be a time saving recipe so I won’t go into any more detail other than to say – it works!

roast-chicken-breast-with-mushroom-thyme-and-cream-sauce-3

Roast Chicken Breast with Mushroom, Thyme and Cream Sauce

I love this with just some Tagliatelle and French beans but the kids prefer sautéed potatoes. Serves 2

2 large chicken breasts, skin on

Olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Large knob of butter

250g mushrooms

10g dried porcini

1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated

Sprig of thyme, leaves only

150mls medium dry sherry

150mls double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Place a heavy bottomed frying-pan (one that can go in the oven) on a medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil. Season the skin side of the chicken with salt and place skin side down on the pan. Season the flesh side with salt and pepper. The pan should not be too hot, as this give the chicken skin time to really crisp up. When deep golden brown and crispy, flip the chicken over and put in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes or so until firm and juices run clear.

roast-chicken-breast-with-mushroom-thyme-and-cream-sauce-1

Meanwhile, boil the kettle and cover the porcini in boiling water. Thinly slice the mushrooms. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and put the chicken and any juices to one side to rest. Cover to keep warm. In the same pan, fry the mushrooms in the butter.  Be careful as the frying pan handle will still be hot. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook down until all the juices have cooked away the mushrooms start frying. Add a little oil if necessary. Cook until golden brown. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and fry for a minute more. Remove the porcini from their soaking liquid, making sure to keep it and finely chop. Add the porcini to the mushrooms and fry for a minute more. Add the sherry and the porcini liquid and reduce until syrupy. Add any juices from the resting chicken and reduce once more. Add the cream and bring back to the boil. Reduce until you have the consistency of single cream. You don’t want the sauce to be gloopy. Adjust seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan and serve.

roast-chicken-breast-with-mushroom-thyme-and-cream-sauce-2