As the weather finally hots up (and not before time!), mealtimes start to be less about comfort and more about avoiding spending much if any time near a hot flame, but without skimping on taste. This old favourite ticks ALL of those boxes and is relatively well behaved to boot! It’s also a one pan cooking dish which always makes me happy 🙂
To be honest, there isn’t much that’s Mexican about this recipe… The only thing it has in common with actual fajitas is that they are both wrap based and hand held… There’s not even any guacamole or salsa in sight! But don’t let that dissuade you from trying this because what it lacks in Mexican authenticity it more than makes up for in tastiness.
The trick to this dish is to get that chargrill thing going. It might look like it’s never going to happen, but have faith and persevere (and drain off excess liquid if you have to!). The rewards are a sticky charred deliciousness of big big flavours thanks to the lime and chilli flakes, which marries perfectly with the sweetness from the peppers.
Chicken & Lime Fajitas
Wok charred chicken and peppers with zingy lime, all wrapped up in warm tortillas, that taste far more sinful than they actually are.
2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced into 1cm strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1cm lenthways strips
1 red pepper, cut into 1cm lengthways strips
1 red onion, cut into thick strips
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp crushed chillis
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 limes, 1 zested and juiced, 1 quartered for serving
4 flour tortillas
150ml 0% fat Greek yoghurt
salt and pepper
Coriander for garnish
Start with a large mixing bowl, into which place the chicken strips, peppers and onions, oregano, chilli, vegetable oil, and the lime zest and juice. Season well before giving everything a good toss-about until the chicken and veg is well coated with the herbs and lime.
Place a wok (or large non-stick frying pan, the deeper sided the better!) over a high heat until its just starting to smoke. When it's good and (fiercely!) hot, tip everything out of the bowl into the wok and cook for about 6-8 minutes, turning only occasionally until its looking cooked through - this is to ensure that everything gets good and brown with a lightly charred effect.
If there's too much lime juice or liquid, you might need to drain some of this off otherwise the chicken and veg will broil rather than char.
Turn the heat off and let the chicken rest in the work while you warm your tortillas in the microwave, or in a dry frying pan.
Pile the chicken and veg in the middle of your tortilla, top with some coriander (if desired), a dollop of yoghurt and a squeeze more lime juice if you like it properly zingy, and scoff!
Spaghetti Bolognese is my go to comfort food. It never fails to cheer me up or warm me up when needed, and even the act of making it is oddly comforting, go figure! But sometimes you just can’t be bothered… Sometimes you just want the comfort without the effort. Which is where this awesome new recipe find from Delicious Magazine comes in to play! Normally I’ll tinker with a recipe, but this is one instance where the recipe was perfect straight out of the box (so to speak!).
The veal makes this feel like a really indulgent supper, and I love how the sauce is rich but light thanks to missing out the ubiquitous can of tomatoes that goes into most ragu sauces. The splash of red wine vinegar at the end helps cut through some of that richness, and adds a wonderful counter flavour to the otherwise sweet ragu.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love recipes that taste like they were hard work but are actually anything but. This recipe is a perfect example of that, super easy to throw together but tastes like something that required an awful lot more time in the kitchen then it actually did. And the long slow cooking makes it the perfect Sunday night supper 🙂
ps – if you don’t like veal then mince beef would work just as well, and appreciate the slow cooking just as much.
Veal Mince Ragu with Tagliatelle
A poshed up version of that old British favourite, spag bol!
Start with a large saucepan or wok over a medium heat and melt your butter before adding all of the chopped veg. Gently fry until the onions are going transluscent, then remove to a plate.
In the same pan, add the veal mince and give it a good season. Turn the heat up until the meat is browned off.
Add the tomato puree and stir through the meat, and then cook for a couple of minutes before adding the veg back into the pan and giving everything a good stir.
Next, add the white wine and, still on a high heat, bubble for 2 minutes before adding the beef stock and milk.
Once it’s all bubbling again, turn the heat down until your ragu is simmering and then cover. Leave it to simmer away 1½-2 hours, giving it a stir every now and then and tasting to check the seasoning.
Take the lid off for the last half hour of cooking. If it's too dry add more stock.
Just before you’re serve, stir through a splash of red wine vinegar, then toss through the tagliatelle and plate up with generous shavings of parmesan.
It’s soup season, and what is soup without croutons!
I’ve always been a sucker for these, whether they’re still crunchy or have been left in the soup just long enough to start getting all soggy. Store bought is fine but honestly, you can rustle up your own in the time it takes you to heat up soup (honestly!) and they taste SOOOOOOOO much better. Also, it’s a great reason to use up any half eaten loaves of bread (food waste bad!), just wrap the loaf up and sling it into the freezer until you’re ready to make these, and then take the bread out to defrost the morning you have soup in mind.
Any crusty loaf will do, you could even use good old sliced white if you were in a pinch, but Sourdough is my favourite bread to use for this. There’s just something about the flavour of Sourdough that goes so damn well with soup – if you’re looking for soup inspiration, we’ve tried the croutons with Hubby’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and my Cauliflower and Cider Soup and they were delicious in both!
The croutons will last for around two weeks in an airtight container, if you can actually exercise any kind of self control and not eat the entire batch 🙂
Herby Garlicky Croutons
So easy-to-make-yourself croutons that you can rustle up while your soup is heating.
Start by cutting your bread into bite-sized pieces and popping into a mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil over the bread and then add the garlic powder, parsley and salt to season. Use a big spatula to give everything a good stir, until the bread is well coated.
Tip onto a baking tray and spread out. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, giving them a good shoogle about half way through. If the croutons are still looking a little pale then pop them under the grill for a few minutes to brown up.
I have created a curry monster…! When Hubby first arrived on these shores with his American palate, his spice tolerance was firmly skewed towards all things Mexican. His first curry confused his tastebuds what with being all spicy but in a way he wasn’t used to, but he soon overcame that and now gets a little grumpy if he goes more than a week without a curry. Which probably explains why I feel like I’ve made a curry every weekend for the last wee while, because the curry monster has been a bit demandy-pants!
So I’ve been trying out some new recipes, with Hubby as guinea pig, and two are proving to be quite good. There’s a chicken pathia that I’m still working on that is almost there (but not quite!) and then there’s this lamb and spinach one, a particularly great find from the peeps at Olive Magazine. And since it’s National Curry Week, it seemed like a good time to blog it!
My favourite curries always seem to be lamb ones, that slight gaminess that lamb has just seems to partner perfectly with lovely aromatic Indian spices. Lamb is even better when you slow cook it for hours, which is the biggest adaptation I made to this recipe, extending the cooking time from an hour to two and a half. The result is a sweet melt-in-the-mouth lamb that almost falls apart when you stick a fork in it. And the spinach wilts perfectly into the spicy sauce to add a lovely layer of flavour as well as a bit of texture to the dish.
Another thing to highly recommend this recipe is how easy it is to make, with the help of a food processor to save you time chopping the onions, garlic and ginger. There’s also no need to skin or deseed the tomatoes (which always takes ages!) as they melt down into a lovely sauce. And if you don’t have any fresh tomatoes to hand (or can’t be arsed dealing with them!) a can of chopped tomatoes will do the job just as well. Honestly, all the hard work is done by the slow cooking, leaving you free to put your feet up and enjoy the lovely aromas coming from the pot or, as in Hubby’s case, be driven mad with hunger by them for the better part of a weekend afternoon! But don’t take my word for it’s deliciousness, take Hubby’s, who has demanded this curry two weekends in a row and declared it his (new!) favourite 🙂
Lamb & Spinach Curry
A slow cooked melt-in-the-mouth lamb curry to celebrate National Curry Week.
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
600g lamb neck fillet, cut into bite-sized cubes
4 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can chopped tomatoes)
1 tbsp tomato purée
100g spinach, chopped
1 lamb stock cube
Throw the ginger, garlic and onions in a food processor and pulse blitz everything until it's somewhere between a liquid and a paste.
Heat about 1 tbsp oil (or ghee) in a stewpot then brown the lamb in two or three batches (if you crowd the pan the lamb will end up stewing and not browning). Remove all the lamb and set aside.
Add the blitzed onion mix to the empty stewpot, sliced green chillies and 1/2 tsp salt (with a little more oil if you need to) and cook for 5 minutes.
Next, add the spices to the pot and stir well until the spices are mixed throughout the onions, and cook for another couple of minutes.
Stir in the tomato puree and give that a minute or two to cook in before adding the lamb back to the onion and spice mix. Stir well and let it cook for a minute or two.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon of sugar. Fill the empty tomato can with cold water (equivalent of 2 cups) and bring to a simmer.
Cover and cook for at least 2 and a half hours - lamb neck fillet loves slow cooking!
About an hour into cooking, add a lamb stock cube and stir until it's melted into the sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning and add more cayenne if required. If the sauce is looking a bit thin, continue to simmer without a lid to help it thicken up.
Add the spinach for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
Autumn is definitely here! The heating finally went back on this weekend after almost 24 hours of perfectly Scottish dreich. So I figured it was time and, to be honest, I’m not really complaining because I’m properly ready for some cold weather. And soup, apparently 🙂 This one, in particular, is probably my absolute favourite of all the ones Hubby cooks (which makes him sound like some kind of weird soup fiend, but he isn’t!)
He mocks me for my love of blended soups, prefers them chunky himself, but when the result is a rich, silky smooth bowl of liquid magic like this then bring out the blender I say!
We also like to call this the ‘clean out the vegetable drawer‘ soup… Anything that’s languishing in there gets tossed into the roasting tin along with the squash and sweet potatoes. So every time Hubby makes this it’s just a little bit different, with new layers of flavour depending on what he finds in the drawer. And holding all those flavours up is coconut milk, giving this dish a lovely creaminess that marries perfectly with the heat of the chillis in a bit of a South East Asian twist.
We normally top with homemade croutons but in my neverending browse of Pinterest I saw a Thai-ed up butternut squash soup from a blog called Carlsbad Cravings where they roasted the seeds in a sweet and spicy mix and popped them on top of the soup. To be fair, I only made them to garnish the picture (soup is incredibly difficult to photograph and make look interesting!) but the seeds are delicious, all sticky with the honey and spicy with the Sriracha and crunchy with the roasting. Make them! You won’t regret it 🙂
Before I hand you over to Hubby and his recipe, don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – half of it goes in the roasting tray and the other half are spices. Also, he rambles… Bless.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
The flavours of Autumn in a bowl, a balanced blend of coconut and spice that'll heat up those cold, windy days.
1 bulb of garlic (the larger sizes for roasting are perfect)
1 pint / 2 cups chicken stock (stock cube or gel pot is fine if you can't find stock)
1/3 - 1/2 pint / 1.5 cups warm water
1 400g can coconut milk (or 200ml double / heavy cream if you don't like coconut)
Oil for roasting
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (more to taste)
3/4 tsp ground ginger (more to taste)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste, white pepper is best
Optional - Cayenne pepper - To add warmth if the chillies weren't hot enough for you
Optional - 1 to 2 tsp chicken powder
Optional - Few dashes Maggi Liquid Seasoning
Stuff you'll need for the Honey Sriracha Butternut Squash Seeds...
saved butternut squash seeds
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp groundnut/vegetable oil
1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. While it's heating up, chop the stem and top off of the squash, and then halve it lengthwise down the middle. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and set aside. Continue scraping out all of the fibrous seed strands until the hollow of the squash is clean. If you're going to roast the seeds, rinse to get any stubborn fibrous stuff of the seeds and then pat dry with kitchen roll
Next, peel your carrots and cut off the tops, and peel your sweet potatoes. Halve the potatoes lengthwise and cut into thick half-round slices, then cut the carrots into thumb-sized chunks.
Peel your onion and cut off the top and bottom, then cut into chunky quarters. Cut the stems from the chillies, slice open and de-seed them. Now do the same for your peppers.
Lastly, peel the outer layer of the garlic, and then chop of the top so that you expose the cloves within.
Place the squash in your roasting pan cut-side up, and then arrange the other root vegetables around it. Place your whole bulb of garlic in one of the hollows of the squash, and then drizzle the lot with olive or vegetable oil and mix it about to coat. Next lay the chillies and peppers on top of the other veg, skin side up, and drizzle with a bit more oil.
Cover the pan with tinfoil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
After the first half-hour has passed, give the veg a good shoogle about and remove the foil. Put the pan back in the oven, and roast the vegetables for another 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.
Check and stir the vegetables every 20 minutes or so, and add more oil as necessary to keep the veg from drying out.
When you're roasting the veg you'll need to take the chillies out first, once the skin starts to blister. The peppers will be the second to come out. Be sure to check the garlic as well, and take it out once it's begun to darken in colour and is soft. If the onion begins to blacken, go ahead and remove it as well.
The carrots only need to be softened, as the other veg will roast much quicker, that's ok. The other root veg should ideally be fork-tender.
When the roasting is finished,, allow the vegetables to cool for a bit. While they're cooling, peel the skins from the chillies and peppers and discard. Then squeeze the garlic cloves out of the bulb and set aside with the peppers.
If you're roasting the butternut squash seeds, lower the oven heat to 150C/300F, line a baking tray with parchment or foil and set aside for now.
Now peel the skin from the squash and discard it before breaking the roasted squash into rough pieces.
Next you'll want to blend the vegetables. This is easiest if you have a stick blender, but if you put them into a blender / liquidiser you can strain the lot later, and this is ideal because the finished soup should be smooth and silky. As a note, you may want to add the chillies one at a time, as they can vary in heat, just taste the mix as you go.
Blend all of the vegetables until smooth, adding the chicken stock throughout to make it easier to blend.
After the squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, chillies, peppers and garlic are all blended, strain the mixture through a mesh strainer into a large saucepan or stewpot. You'll need to press the veg through the strainer using the back of a spoon.
Once you've done that, it's time to add the spices and seasoning, followed by the coconut milk (or double cream). Stir well until all of the spices are incorporated then bring the soup up to a good simmer and add extra water (or milk) as needed until the soup is the desired thickness and consistency. It's generally quite a thick soup even with the coconut milk in, so the listed measurements of extra water are a good guide to go by.
If you're roasting the seeds, this is when you want to get them going (see breakout recipe below).
After about ten minutes on simmer the soup should be warm and ready to serve (if you're roasting the seeds then just leave it simmering while they're in the oven, you might need to add more water/milk if the soup thickens up too much though). Finish by adding a bit of the butter for an added silkiness and flavour, and garnish with a few cracks of black pepper or the lovely roasted squash seeds.
Roast honey sriracha butternut squash seeds!
In a small bowl, whisk together all the seed ingredients before adding the seeds and stirring until they are evenly coated.
Spread the seeds out evenly on the baking tray and as much in a single layer as you can (they're super sticky!).
Cook for 25-30 minutes (if you like your seeds really crunchy then leave in for a little longer). The seeds will be a little soft when they first come out but will crunch up as they cool.
The amount of spices in the recipe should be taken as a base reference, feel free to adjust them to your personal taste. If it needs a bit more heat you can add cayenne pepper, but you can absolutely leave it out if the soup is hot enough for you with just the chillies. The spices add another layer of earthiness to complement the squash, or in the case of the cayenne and ginger, a bit more warmth to supplement the chillies.