Thursday, 31 March 2011

Roasted Pheasant with Celeriac Pureé

I received two frozen pheasants for Christmas from a local farm, so I started reading recipe books to find out how best to cook them. A combination of my broad reading and this great local produce proved a tasty success on first attempt! The nuttiness of the celeriac pureé goes so well with the gamey meat.

Top tip: These birds can dry out quite quickly whilst cooking so to avoid this ensure a moist roasting environment, and a rasher of bacon across the breast helps seal some of the juices in.

Serves 2


Pheasant - 2
Bacon - 2 rashers
Bay Leaves - 2
Butter - 100g
Chestnut Mushrooms - 1 punnet
Thyme - 4 large sprigs
Garlic - 4 cloves
Chicken Stock - 200mls
White Wine - 200mls
Carrot - 1
Onion - 1/2

For the celeriac pureé

Celeriac - 1/2
Leek - 1
Garlic - 1 clove
Chicken Stock - 500mls

1. Wash the pheasants in cold water, ensuring to clean inside the cavity and remove any excess feathers and giblets. Place 25g of butter inside the cavity. Dress each pheasant with a rasher of bacon along the breast, and a bay leaf on top.

2. Roughly slice the onion, carrot and chestnut mushrooms. In a roasting tin, place the chestnut mushrooms on top of a bed of onion and carrot. Divide up 50g of butter over the mushrooms. Place the thyme sprigs on top. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add to the roasting tin with the stock and white wine. This will create the base for the pheasants to roast on, and provide a moist environment.

3. Place the pheasants on top of the bed of vegetables, and roast in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes, basting occasionally. Cooking time may differ depending on the size of the birds.

4. Meanwhile make the celeriac pureé. Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Peel and dice the celeriac, and drop into the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Slice the leek, and peel and crush the garlic. Add to the saucepan and simmer for another 10 minutes. When done, drain all but a little of the stock, and blend until smooth using a hand blender or food processor.

6. When the birds are done, cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes, whilst making a sauce from the vegetables and stock, by blending them all together until smooth.

Serve with Spring Greens & Bacon.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Chicken & Spinach Filo Parcels

This is another creation from my left-overs, but once again not your average left-overs! I like to discover new dishes by grabbing whatever is left in the fridge, and this time I had chicken, spinach and filo pastry.

Top tip: Make sure you use a greased surface to cook these parcels on, otherwise they will stick down and be ruined!

Serves 2


Spinach - 1/2 bag
Chicken - 2 breasts
Onion - 1/2
Dill - 1 handful
White Wine - 150mls
Chicken Stock - 150mls
Butter - 50g
Filo Pastry - 4 sheets
Egg - 1
Garlic - 1 clove
Plain Flour - 2 tsp

1. Dice the chicken into chunks, dice the onion roughly, and peel and crush the garlic. Melt 1/2 the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the flour and cook for a further minute.

2. Add the white wine gradually at first, stirring continuously, and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken breasts, dill, and stock to the pan and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

3. Place the spinach leaves with the remaining butter in a microwavable container with a lid, and cook on high for 1 minute. Drain once done, and use a plate to press down on the spinach to squeeze all the excess water out.

4. On a greased piece of grease-proof paper, place 2 filo sheets on top of each other. In the center of the sheets place 1/2 the pressed spinach, and then some of the chicken mixture on top. Repeat for the second parcel.

5. To make the parcel, gather up the corners of the Filo sheets and brush with whisked egg to seal and glaze.

6. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with white rice or Cheddar & Mustard Mashed Potato and vegetables.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Braised Lamb Shank

Cooking lamb on the bone makes the meat so much more flavoursome - it must be the juices from the bone marrow infusing with the meat as it slow cooks, allowing it to literally fall off the bone! With this method of cooking you can make the most of the delicious juices and make a sumptuous gravy.

Top tip: The shank is usually the 'end' of the meat, but the difference in texture and taste between a butcher's cut to a pre-packed supermarket cut is worth the money!

Serves 2


Lamb Shanks - 2
Garlic - 3
Rosemary - 1 large handful
Red Currant Jelly - 4 tbsp
Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
Red Wine - 200 mls
Lamb Stock - 350 mls
Carrot - 1
Onion - 1
Leek - 1/2

1. Prepare the lamb shanks by making small slits evenly over the surface with a sharp pairing knife. Peel and thinly slice two of the garlic cloves, and divide the rosemary into small sprigs roughly three leaves each. Push a little garlic and rosemary into each slit in the lamb.

2. Peel and slice the onion, carrot and leek, and place in the bottom of a roasting tin. Crush the remaining garlic and place in the roasting tin with the left-over rosemary.

3. Pour in the red wine and lamb stock into the tin. Place the lamb shanks on top of the vegetables. Rub the olive oil over the skin of the lamb and season generously with salt and pepper.

4. Place in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the red currant jelly over the lamb using a pastry brush. Cover with kitchen foil and return to the oven for a further hour. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes.

5. Allow the lamb to rest for at least 5 minutes, 10 ideally. The lamb should have shrunk away from the bone, and should fall off it easily.

Serve with my Leek & Broccoli Bake and pommes fondant. Use the juices to make a basic gravy.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Chunky Vegetable Soup

Warming, tasty and full of goodness - I love this soup. Perfect for a winter's evening. I eat a large bowl with some buttered crusty bread!

Top tip: Make this fresh, it doesn't last to well in the fridge.

Serves 2


Potatoes - 3
Courgette - 1
Plum Tomatoes - 1 tin
Shallots - 4
Leek - 1/2
Peppers - 1/2 yellow, 1/2 red
Stock - 200mls (chicken or vegetable)
Butter - 50g
Garlic - 1 clove

1. Peel and dice the potato. Place in a pan of boiling salted water and leave to boil for 12 minutes.

2. Place the peppers under a hot grill, skin side up, and cook until the skins bubble and char. This is simply to make it easy to pull the skin away from the flesh once they have cooled. Peel the peppers, discard the skin, and slice the flesh into strips.

3. Roughly dice the peeled shallots. Cut the courgette in half, and peel one half and roughly chop. The remaining half can be sliced and quartered, and placed to one side for use later. Slice the leek. 

4. In a large wok melt 25g of butter and sauté the shallots and leek with the crushed garlic until softened. Add the peppers and peeled half of the courgette. Add 3/4's of the plum tomatoes and their juices, and then add the stock, and leave to simmer whilst preparing the rest of the vegetables.

5. Drain the potatoes, and sauté in the remaining butter, adding a little salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned and crispy all over.

6. Place the remaining courgette in a small pan of boiling salted water, and cook for 5 minutes. Roughly chop the remaining plum tomatoes, and heat through in a microwave for 30 seconds.

7. Using a hand blender (or food processor) blend the contents of the wok until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowls, and liberally sprinkle the chunky potatoes, courgettes and plum tomatoes over the top.

Serve piping hot with buttered crusty bread. Why not try my Sage & Parmesan Rolls?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Portobello Mushroom & Goat's Cheese

This is a really simple and light starter, perfect for a hot summer's evening.

Top tip: Fresh, large Portobello mushrooms are really the only type to use in this recipe.

Serves 2


Portobello Mushrooms - 2
Goat's Cheese Wheel - 1
Parsley - 1 bunch
Paprika - 1 tsp
Butter - 25g
Garlic - 1 clove

1. Peel and crush the garlic into a paste. Spread the butter and garlic onto each mushroom, cap down. Place under a high grill for 5 minutes.

2. Crumble on the goat's cheese and grill for a further 5-10 minutes, until the cheese just starts to brown.

Serve warm, with some parsley sprigs and a scattering of paprika.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Warm Salad of Spring Greens & Bacon

This is a lovely little side dish that goes well with any roast. It adds texture and colour, and is super tasty.

Top tip: Don't be tempted to fry in the same pan - the flavour of the bacon will completely overpower the spring greens. You can also use pancetta for a fuller flavour instead of bacon.

Serves 2


Butter - 25g
Shredded Spring Greens - 6 handfuls
Bacon - 2 rashers
Olive Oil - 1 tsp

1. Slice the bacon rashers into small bits. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the bacon. Fry until crispy, and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Allow to rest on a sheet of kitchen paper.

2. Melt the butter in a separate pan until just bubbling. Throw in the greens and quickly stir-fry until slightly wilted but still crunchy.

3. Toss the bacon in the with greens, and serve warm.

Basic Gravy

Every cook, amateur or professional, would have to agree that making gravy is a vital skill. From a sauce to go with a meat dish, to the full-blown classic roast and gravy, everyone should know the basics. I'm not going as far as saying mine is 'the best', just that this recipe is a starting point in making your own 'perfect' gravy.

Top tip: Making the gravy gives you time to allow the meat to rest after roasting. You can also use a dash of wine before adding the stock if you want a richer gravy.


Stock - 500mls (stock type depends on which meat you are using)
Plain Flour - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1
Carrot - 1
Leek - 1
Meat Roasting Juices

1. When preparing your roast/meat ensure that it is sitting on a bed of sliced onion, carrot and leek. This keeps the meat moist and also creates the base to your gravy, as the meat juices seep through the vegetables.

2. When the meat has been roasted, remove it from it's roasting tin. There should be a sticky, oily residue of meat juices left in the roasting tin, with the vegetables.

3. Place the roasting tin on a hob, and over a low heat allow the juices to bubble again. Sieve the flour over the juices, and using a wooden spoon mix together. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the flour.

4. Slowly add a little boiling stock at a time, and mix in with the juices. Keep adding until your preferred consistency is reached. The gravy can be strained to remove the vegetables, but I quite like a chunky gravy!

Serve piping hot.
The perfect gravy shouldn't be oily, but with some fatty meats it can useful to use a Gravy Separator to siphon off excess oil.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Teriyaki Duck with Pomegranate & Goat's Cheese

I'll be the first to admit that this was a real experiment with flavours. I'd been thinking of all the things that I would like to go with duck, and instead of choosing just one, I put them all together to create this exciting new dish. Everything works, the flavours and textures are complimentary, and it looks elegant!

Top tip: The juices from the meat act as a delicious salad dressing, but don't be scared to use the juices from the pan to top up this dressing.

Serves 2


Duck Breast - 2
Spring Onions - 6
Pomegranate Seeds - 1 handful
Cooked Beetroot - 1
Balsamic Vinegar - 1 tsp
Goat's Cheese - 1 round
Watercress - 2 handfuls
Alfafa - 2 handfuls
Teriyaki Glaze - 3 tbsp
Garlic - 2 cloves
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
Coriander - 1 handful

1. Cube the beetroot into 1 cm square pieces. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and allow to soak.

2. Marinade the duck breasts by rubbing crushed garlic into them, and then coating well with the Teriyaki glaze. Leave to marinade in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.

3. Trim and then slice the spring onions lengthways. Prepare the salad on the plate, using the spring onions, watercress and roughly chopped coriander to create a central island. Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds, and lay a ring of alfafa around the plate.

4. Slice the round of goat's cheese in half horizontally, and place the two circles under a medium grill for a few minutes until just browned.

5. Meanwhile, in a non-stick frying pan, heat the oil and place the duck breasts skin-side-down to begin with, and fry on each side for roughly 4 minutes. The center of the breasts should remain pink, and the outside should be nicely seared with the glaze.

6. Slice the duck breasts in an oblique fashion and lay on your salad islands. Place the goat's cheese on top. Drain the beetroot well, and place the squares in a ring around the edge of the plate.

Leek & Broccoli Bake

Everyone likes creamed leeks, but I decided to take this one step further to give that classic side-dish an additional crunchy texture by making a delicious bake. This is packed with vegetables, a tasty, creamy sauce and a more-ish breadcrumb topping. Perfect!

Top tip: You can give this a spicy edge with a pinch of paprika.

Serves 4-6


Leek - 1 large
Broccoli - 1 large
Shallots - 3
Butter - 50g
Plain Flour - 50g
Bread - 2 slices
Parmesan - large grated handful
Cheddar - large grated handful
Nutmeg - 3/4 tsp
Milk - 150-200mls
Vegetable Stock Cube - 1
Parsley/Coriander - to garnish

1. Slice the leek and break the broccoli into small florets. Place in a pan of boiling, salted water and par-boil for 3-4 minutes.

2. Peel and roughly chop the shallots. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over a low heat, and add the shallots. Sauté until softened. Stir in the flour, and cook for a further minute.

3. Add a little milk at a time, stirring continuously over a low heat, until you get a creamy consistency. Mix in the cheddar, and allow to melt. Stir in the nutmeg and crumble in the stock cube, and allow to dissolve.

4. Drain the vegetables, and add them to the sauce ensuring they are well covered. Transfer to a baking dish/casserole dish.

5. To make the breadcrumb topping, use a food processor to break the bread up. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the creamy vegetables, ensuring an even cover. Then sprinkle on the parmesan generously, and season with salt and pepper. You can also add a little oil or butter on top if you're not counting calories!

6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes, or until crispy and browned on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve the dish to the table as-is with garnish, or in portions.

This goes perfectly with any roast meat, so why not try it with my Braised Lamb Shank, Rolled Lamb Shoulder with Pecorino & Mint, Sherry & Honey Glazed Roast Ham, or Chilli & Rosemary Stuffed Poussin.