Lemon roast chicken for Sunday supper and Monday lunch

lemon roast chicken beetroot carrot sweet potato

Before I had a family and had slightly more disposable income, I rarely took a homemade lunch into work. I’d usually pop out to the local sandwich shop, or on a Friday I might join colleagues for a pub lunch and a shandy. Those were the days!

Keeping a lid on our food budget means preparing a packed lunch most days, for me and my husband and the girls. And very often that means making the most of the leftovers from the night before. But lunchbox leftovers don’t need to be dull, and they don’t need to be a case of simply reheating last night’s dinner.

leftover lunchesI’ve teamed up with Most Wanted, the lifestyle magazine from money-saving site VoucherCodes.co.uk to devise a recipe that demonstrates how you can spend just a tenner on a delicious family meal for four that can then be magically transformed into a deliciously different lunch the following day.

The good folk at Most Wanted are keen to help people make the most of their money without compromising on life’s little luxuries. While a trip to the local deli might be a nice treat, regularly spending £5 on a salad or panini can’t be cost-effective. So they’re on the search for tasty recipes that create an abundance of leftovers you can eat for lunch without it costing a fortune.

I love a roast on a Sunday and, what’s more, they are ideal for leaving you with heaps of delicious leftovers for versatile weekday lunches, from soups and curries to sandwiches, wraps and salads. Personally I like to play with my leftovers a little, so I don’t find myself growing bored eating the same dish again and again.

This lemon roast chicken with beetroot, carrot and sweet potato is a colourful and cheery take on a roast dinner, making the most of those seasonal root vegetables. The veggies are roasted along with the chicken for an incredibly easy meal, full of rich, sweet, caramelised flavours.

lemon roast chicken carrot beetroot sweet potato

To give the chicken its incredibly fresh, vibrant flavour, I roast it with half a lemon stuffed inside, and then when the cooked chicken is resting, I squeeze the juice of the other half all over the skin. It’s so simple but it tastes glorious.

lemon roast chicken

Then to turn the roast into a different dish for Monday lunch, I’ve used the leftover meat and vegetables in a tasty bulgur wheat salad with fresh mint and coriander and lots of nutty, juicy pomegranate seeds. The colours are fantastic and I love the way the beetroot juices soak into the bulgur wheat turning it pink.

lemon roast chicken beetroot carrot sweet potato

What’s more, you should also have enough chicken left over to cook up a soup for Tuesday lunch, making a stock from the chicken bones.

And all this for under £10. Pretty good, eh?

lemon roast chicken carrot beetroot sweet potato

Lemon roast chicken with beetroot, carrots and sweet potato

Serves 4 with leftovers

1 medium chicken (around 1.5kg)
1 lemon
salt and pepper
25g soft butter
400g raw beetroots
450g carrots
350g sweet potatoes
olive oil
mixed salad leaves

Preheat the oven to 220°C / gas mark 7.

Sit the chicken in a roasting tin. Cut the lemon in half, and then one of the halves into quarters. Place the lemon quarters inside the chicken cavity and sprinkle some salt in there too.

Rub the butter over the skin and sprinkle with some more salt. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for around 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you poke a sharp knife into the thickest part of a leg. If the skin is browning too quickly, cover with a sheet of kitchen foil.

Peel the beetroot, carrot and sweet potato. Cut the beetroot and sweet potato into wedges, and slice the carrot into similar sized chunks.

Place the beetroot onto a sheet of foil and drizzle over a little olive oil and a grind of salt and pepper. Wrap loosely and place in another roasting tin.

Place the carrot and sweet potato at the other end of the tin, and similarly drizzle with oil and a little salt and pepper. Mix it up with your hands to make sure the vegetables are well coated.

Put the vegetables in the oven once the chicken has had around 50 minutes of its cooking time. Roast the vegetables for around 40 minutes, until they are tender and beginning to brown.

When the chicken is out of the oven, sprinkle with a little more salt and squeeze the juice from the other half of lemon all over the crispy skin. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve the roast chicken and vegetables with a simple leaf salad. There’s no need for any dressing; simply pour over the lemony roast chicken juices. Don’t be greedy now – make sure you leave enough chicken and veggies for tomorrow’s lunch.

So now for those leftovers…

lemon chicken bulgar wheat roast vegetables

Lemon chicken and bulgur wheat salad with roast vegetables and pomegranate seeds

Serves 4

125g bulgur wheat
leftover roast vegetables – beetroot, sweet potato and carrot
handful each of fresh coriander and mint, roughly chopped
seeds from half a pomegranate
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper
leftover cold roast chicken

Rinse the bulgur wheat and place in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water to at least double the height of the bulgur wheat, and leave for 15 minutes. Drain the bulgur wheat and leave to cool.

To assemble the salad, simply place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl with the vegetables, fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle with a little olive oil. Season to taste.

Mix it all together gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

If you’re serving this straightaway, lay pieces of shredded chicken on top of the salad and bring to the table.

If you’re taking the salad to school or work for lunch, I share the salad between the plastic boxes and then place the torn pieces of chicken on top before popping the lid on.

For some reason, I prefer to keep the chicken separate to the rest of the salad, but feel free to mix it all up together if you like.

So there you have my two ways with a roast chicken.

How do you use your Sunday roast leftovers?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by VoucherCodes. I received a fee to buy the ingredients and develop the recipes. 

no food waste challenge

 

As these recipes are a brilliant way to ensure you reduce your food waste, I’m entering them into this month’s No Waste Food Challenge hosted by London Unattached and Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

Fusilli with broad beans, mascarpone and thyme

Broad Bean Collage

We’re getting a steady crop of broad beans from our veg patch at the moment, along with peas, sugar snaps and courgettes. The cucumbers don’t look far off from picking either; it’s the first year we’ve tried growing them from seed and they’re proving much easier than I thought they would. Those are famous last words of course. They’ll probably develop some nasty disease now I’ve said that and get completely wiped out. Let’s hope not.

The children are really enjoying all the homegrown vegetables. When they’ve been involved in the sowing and the planting, they seem so much more up for the eating too. They’re loving the broad beans in salads, particularly potato salads with big chunks of sausage, and in soups. As they’re both big pasta fans, it was only a matter of time before I tried broad beans in a pasta sauce. I mashed some up with mascarpone cheese, thyme and lemon juice to coat fusilli and the girls gobbled it up greedily. My husband Jason was rather keen too and even ate the leftover cheesy-beany mash cold from the fridge! Note to self: try it as a sandwich filling next time…

fusilli with broad beans

Fusilli with broad beans, mascarpone and thyme

Serves 4

1kg broad beans, podded
250g mascarpone cheese
juice of half a lemon
handful of fresh thyme, picked
salt and pepper
olive oil
500g dried fusilli

Quickly boil the broad beans in salted water for two to three minutes until just tender. Run under cold water to stop them cooking further and to cool them down a little before double-podding. Yes, it’s a bit of a faff but it’s well worth it. Then mash the beans roughly, using either a fork or a potato masher.

In a bowl, mix the mashed beans with the mascarpone, lemon juice, most of the thyme, a good amount of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cook the fusilli in a large pan of salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and mix with the broad bean and mascarpone mixture. Add a little olive oil if it seems a little too dry or thick.

Serve with a little more thyme sprinkled on top. Summer on a plate – delicious.

fusilli with broad beans

And as this dish features lovely fresh thyme, I’m entering it into this month’s Cooking with Herbs event hosted by Karen over at Lavender & Lovage.

Cooking-with-Herbs

Round Up: May’s Recipes for Life challenge

rhubarbCollage

I knew when we announced the three ingredients for May’s Recipes for Life it would prove a popular month for the challenge, and I wasn’t wrong. Faced with a trio of rhubarb, lemon and spice, food bloggers demonstrated just how creative they can be in the kitchen, concocting both sweet and savoury dishes from fools and muffins, ice creams and sorbets to curry and cous cous and even spaghetti!

Let’s take a look at each of those lovely seasonal rhubarb dishes in turn…

rhubarb compote

I got the rhubarb party started with a simple Rhubarb Compote. It’s very good as an accompaniment to roast duck, pork or lamb, and if you make a little too much, use up the rest in a big thick cheese sandwich. My compote is flavoured with ginger and mixed spice, but you could go with whichever spices take your fancy really.

rhubarb-fool

I love a good fool and this Rhubarb, Ginger and Lemon Fool from Claire at Under The Blue Gum Tree looks especially good, don’t you agree? Tracking down fresh rhubarb in South Africa proved something of a challenge but I admire Claire’s dedication to the cause as she succeeded eventually in finding “a few gnarly sticks” at her local grocers which she was able to transform into this delectable entry.

rhubarb-lemon-scones

Next comes the turn of Sarah at The Garden Deli who brings us these Rhubarb and Lemon Scones as a tempting teatime treat. They sound incredibly easy to make, which is always a bonus in my eyes, and I can just imagine they’d be perfect served straight from the oven with some butter and jam. I’m making myself hungry just writing this…

funasagranrhubarb

I’ve discovered that rhubarb infused with star anise is one of my favourite flavour combinations of all time, which is exactly the combination brought to us by Fun as a Gran with her Rhubarb, Lemon and a Spice entry. It looks a great pudding for anyone watching their sugar intake, as both the sponge cake and stewed rhubarb are made using agave sugar.

rhubarb jam with sconesMichelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families made the most of the glut of rhubarb on her allotment by whipping up a big batch of this utterly scrummy Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam. I’ve never tried making jam with rhubarb before and so didn’t realise that it is rather low in pectin, which is what generally helps jam to set. I was interested to hear that Michelle uses lemon juice and the pips in a muslin bag to increase the pectin levels. I’m storing that tip away for future reference…

rhubarb crumble muffins

I’d considered attempting some Rhubarb Crumble Muffins myself but when I saw these beauties from Chez Foti I knew mine would never be able to compete. Don’t they look so good and sweetly satisfying? And they’d be just as good for breakfast as they would at teatime or as an after-school snack. Yes, I can imagine munching one or two of these at just about any time of day!

rhubarb and lemon sorbet

So instead of making muffins, I came up with Spiced Rhubarb and Lemon Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookies. They’re both incredibly easy to make and there is something just so magical about the perfumed flavour of star anise with the sharp tang of rhubarb. I could eat this all day. And all night.

rhubarb ripple ice cream

Another icy treat comes in the fabulous form of this Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream with Hazelnut Oat Clusters from Elizabeth’s Kitchen. Doesn’t it look sensational? I can just imagine how good that creamy rhubarby ice cream tastes alongside the nutty crunch of the hazelnut clusters. Oh yes, this is my kind of dessert.

rhubarb friandsIt’s the turn of Ness at JibberJabberUK to tempt us next with her pretty Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Friands. There’s something very cute about mini loaves; I think I might have to get myself some mini loaf tins so I can have a go at these. They look perfect for a properly civilised afternoon tea.

spicedlemoncheesecake

It was a delight to welcome Rich In Flavour to the Recipes for Life challenge for the first time and what a wonderful first entry! This Spiced Lemon & Rhubarb Cheesecake looks simply gorgeous and I love the sound of the lemon syrup flavoured with star anise and Szechuan pepper. I simply must try this recipe!

rhubarb lemon muffins

Janice from the Farmersgirl Kitchen baked us another batch of muffins; this time Spiced Rhubarb & Lemon Muffins, featuring cinnamon and “little nuggets of intense crystallised ginger”, which sounds right up my street. They look lovely and moist and as with the earlier muffins from Chez Foti, I can easily picture myself consuming a few of these with a mug of coffee for a lazy Sunday morning brunch.

rhubarb syllabub

Fun as a Gran returns with a second entry next; a very creative Rhubarb Syllabub served with a lemon meringue, which I imagine would bring a perfectly light crunchiness to complement the smooth creaminess of the rich syllabub.

Rhubarb-ginger-cream

Laura at How to Cook Good Food always comes up with heavenly creations and this Lavender Poached Rhubarb with Ginger Custard Cream is no exception. It sounds like Laura has been getting through quite a lot of rhubarb recently from her allotment, including rhubarb vodka which I’m rather intrigued by, as well as raw rhubarb in an Ottolenghi sour salad. But this poached rhubarb is definitely the one I want to try first. Simply beautiful.

fennel rhubarb

There is nothing remotely foolish about this Fennel Rhubarb Foolish from Mel at Edible Things. She flavours her rhubarb fool with fennel seed and it is garnished with candied fennel. This sounds to me like an incredible flavour combination; one Mel was inspired to come up with after eating fennel-flavoured sausages with roasted rhubarb as part of a rhubarb tasting menu at the Rollende Keukens festival in Amsterdam. Love it!

rhubarbicecream

We have a second helping of  Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream now, this time from Helen at The Crazy Kitchen and served with Mini Spiced Lemon Cookies. As Helen says herself, this is “bloody gorgeous”!

curry

I really wasn’t expecting to see a curry amongst our entries this month, but here it is, a Pork and Rhubarb Curry with Lemon Pilau Rice from Spurs Cook. Martin says he got the idea of using rhubarb in a curry by a certain celebrity chef who stir fries pork with rhubarb. He decided to go in a slightly different direction and came up with a curry. Inspired!

moroccanlamb

Here’s another delicious savoury rhubarb dish – The Crazy Kitchen’s Moroccan Lamb & Rhubarb with Lemon & Coriander Cous Cous. Helen freely admits she’s not completely convinced rhubarb even grows in Morocco but it’s the cinnamon and dried fruit in this dish that give it a wonderful Moroccan flavour. It’s an incredibly easy recipe, mostly throwing things in a pan and leaving them to do “their thing”, which is the kind of cooking I adore, and I know my family would really go for these flavour combinations.

rhubarb lemon and ginger cakeBack to baked goodies next with this Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Cake, a second tasty entry from JibberJabberUK. Ness made it for her local Clandestine Cake Club meeting and it was completely devoured save for one slice. And those clandestine cake makers certainly know their stuff!

rhubarbcustardpizza

Why do pizzas have to be savoury? This is the question posed by Helen at The Crazy Kitchen as she delivers a fabulous Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Pizza. Isn’t it a great idea? Another lovely simple recipe from Helen that I can’t wait to try out.

lemonpudding

Not content with three rhubarb dishes, here comes Helen at The Crazy Kitchen with entry number four! She offers us a scrumptiously rib-sticking Lemon and Rhubarb Pudding that reminds me of an old fashioned pud my Nana often makes. I’m starting to drool slightly thinking about just how satisfying this would be. Nom nom!

tart

Guess what? Here’s The Crazy Kitchen with her fifth (yes, I said fifth!) entry for May’s challenge! This time she’s rustled up a Cheese and Rhubarb Chutney Tart - is there no end to Helen’s culinary talents when it comes to the humble rhubarb?! I’ve been thinking I should make a rhubarb chutney to use up some of the bags of rhubarb stocking up my freezer, and now I have the perfect recipe.

rhubarb ice cream

I’m really pleased to welcome another first-timer to the Recipes for Life challenge. The Grumbling Tummy has created another tempting Rhubarb Ice Cream which she serves with Lemon Spiced Biscuits - I can’t believe this is the first time Hazey has made her own ice cream as it looks fantastic.

Rhubarb_spag

I was surprised to receive a curry recipe this month, and I was equally surprised when Matt and Corpy told me they were planning on making Poached Rhubarb Spaghetti as their entry. I was totally intrigued to see how it would turn out and the two dads didn’t disappoint. Doesn’t this look so good? I know my girls are going to love it when I give it a go very soon.

rhubarb cinnamon cake with Splenda
Finally here is another entry from yours truly – a simple Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake which I made the other weekend for a friend with diabetes using a sugar alternative. It’s not half bad and we ended up eating some the next day for breakfast. How many times have I mentioned eating cake for breakfast in this post now I wonder?

So you see what I mean? A truly eclectic assortment of wonderful rhubarb recipes and not a single crumble in sight, unless you count crumble-topped muffins, which I don’t. Who’d have thought rhubarb could be so very versatile?

Now it’s time for the announcement you’re all waiting for… The winner of May’s Recipes for Life challenge…

The cookery group at SWALLOW found it nigh on impossible to settle on a single winner, and so we have two – one for a savoury dish and one for a sweet.

The winner of the sweet category is The Garden Deli for her beautiful Rhubarb and Lemon Scones. We all thought these looked so deliciously delightful, yet so simple to make too, which is what we look for in Recipes for Life. Congratulations Sarah!

And the winner of the savoury prize? Well, it had to be The Crazy Kitchen for her incredible Moroccan Lamb and Rhubarb with Lemon and Coriander Cous Cous. Another dish that’s simple to prepare and absolutely packed full of flavour, this had to win top place – even though it means Helen has now won three months in a row! This woman is on a serious roll! But seriously Helen, you totally deserve it and we’ll all been staggered by the support you have shown this challenge. Thank you!

Thank you also to everyone who entered May’s Recipes for Life. I was blown away by the number of entries this month, every one a winner its own right. If you’re stuck with a glut of rhubarb, you can’t fail to be inspired by this little lot!

Watch this space for details of the three ingredients for June’s challenge – I’ll be announcing the next lot very soon and I really can’t wait to see what you make of them. Until next time!

recipes for life

Spiced rhubarb and lemon sorbet with cinnamon cookies


rhubarb and lemon sorbet

“Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhubarb.”

“Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhu-barb!” 

“Rhubarb?”

“Rhubarb!”

Back in the day, when I was a young thespian-type, this is the noise you’d hear coming from all us extras on stage attempting to emulate the murmur of chit-chat. And it’s exactly how Twitter and the wider blogosphere sound right now. Yes, it’s rhubarb season and recipes and conversations about rhubarb abound. Oh, and of course, there are quite a few mentions of

“Asparagus?”

and the occasional

“Wild garlic….”

and perhaps a slightly hopeful

“Strawwwwwwwberry!”

I’m partly to blame of course for the fascination in all things rhubarb, as this tart and tasty perennial is one of the three set ingredients for May’s Recipes for Life challenge I’m hosting, together with lemon and spice. We’ve already seen some delicious rhubarb recipes entered, from ice cream and fools to scones and muffins – you can take a look at all the entries submitted so far here.

This fragrantly spicy rhubarb and lemon sorbet is my second entry. It’s incredibly simple and absolutely delicious, and so ideal for Recipes for Life, as we’re trying to come up with a selection of easy recipes for SWALLOW members, all adults with learning difficulties, to prepare during their cookery lessons and ultimately to feature in a charity cookbook.

cinnamon oat cookie

I served my sorbet with an oaty sultana and cinnamon cookie on the side; a perfectly crunchy, slightly chewy biscuit with which to scoop up your sorbet.

rhubarb lemon sorbet

Spiced rhubarb and lemon sorbet

250g rhubarb, washed and trimmed and cut into 5cm chunks
110g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
75ml water
1 star anise
Half a cinnamon stick

Place the rhubarb, caster sugar, lemon zest and juice, water and spices in a saucepan and cook over a gentle heat for around 10 to 15 minutes until soft.

Leave to cool. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick, and then blend the rhubarb in a liquidizer until smooth.

Pour into in an air-tight container and place in the freezer. Give it a good stir every hour or so to prevent ice crystals forming. Keep doing this until the sorbet is set, which will take around four hours. If you have an ice cream maker, which I don’t – sadly – then I guess it’s even easier and you can leave it to churn itself.

Serve your sorbet with an oat cookie on the side…

Cinnamon oat cookies

125g butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
150g rolled oats
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
75g sultanas

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Put the butter in a large saucepan and melt over a low heat. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and combine well.

Add the beaten egg and mix it in. Next add the oats, flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and sultanas and mix it all together thoroughly.

Use a tablespoon to spoon the cookie mixture onto the baking trays, making sure they are spaced out well. Squish the mixture flat with your fingers.

Bake the cookies in the oven for around 15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Stored in an air-tight, they’ll keep for up to five days. As if they’ll get the chance!

rhubarb lemon sorbet

I’m entering this sorbet into May’s Recipes for Life challenge, as well as Ren Behan’s wonderful Simple and in Season community blog event, where I think you may find a fair few rhubarb recipes this month!

recipes for life

SimpleinSeason

Fruit smoothies, lemon cupcakes and sunny bank holiday antics

What a difference the sunshine makes. For the first time I can remember in a very long time, we got to enjoy fine weather on a bank holiday weekend. We spent as much time as we could outdoors and it felt like we were on a mini holiday. The whole of nature seemed to have jumped into action with the trees, hedgerows and fields bursting into spring flower.

For our breakfasts we’ve been enjoying homemade fruit smoothies. My husband Jason concocted indulgent blueberry smoothies with vanilla ice cream and sprinkles on top…

BlueberrySmoothieCollage

… while I got the children making slightly healthier smoothies with mango, passion fruit and apple, along with some special edition mango and passion fruit flavoured Actimel we were kindly sent to try out. A deliciously fruity start to the day.

ActimelSmoothieCollage

On Saturday my parents came to stay. They arrived just in time for lunch and we tucked into spring lamb that had been slow roasting in the Aga all morning, served with homegrown purple sprouting broccoli and an Ottonlenghi-inspired aubergine and courgette risotto (a recipe I’m going to be making again and again), all washed down with a light, sunshiny rosé.

AubergineRisottoCollage

To walk off lunch we took a leisurely stroll around the tranquil Bishop’s Palace Gardens in nearby Wells. I’m working at the moment in Wells so it makes a lovely change to visit the city as a tourist. The children loved dressing up as bishops (perhaps by the time they’re grown up the Church of England will actually allow women bishops?), climbing trees, playing Pooh Sticks with Grandad in the palace moat and trying to wake the sleeping willow dragon. I was rather taken with the community gardens – what a wonderful place to have an allotment.

WellsCollage

On Sunday we took Nana and Grandad for a walk across the fields behind our house, carefully skirting around the protective cows and their calves, to go and feed the two local nanny goats. One of the goats was so heavily pregnant she could barely walk; it made me wince to look at her. We also visited the field of sheep and their dainty lambs, whereupon Mia decided we should buy ourselves a pet sheep and lamb and keep them in the garden so that Daddy doesn’t have to mow the lawn anymore. Grandad tried to teach Mia to make duck noises by blowing on grass (unsuccessfully) and we foraged for wild garlic in the hedgerows (successfully).

SpringWalkCollage

On Sunday afternoon, possibly the warmest day of the year so far, I decided to do some baking. Crazy I know! I rustled up some zingy lemon mascarpone cupcakes and we decorated them with these pretty wafer butterflies from Dr Oetker. Perfect for an impromptu garden party underneath our apple tree that’s just beginning to bud – hopefully we’ll actually get apples this year. Jessie normally hates butter icing as it’s so rich, but loved this mascarpone topping because “It’s lovely and lemony!”LemonCupcakeCollage

And then on Bank Holiday Monday, along with seemingly half of Somerset, we climbed up Glastonbury Tor to enjoy what are arguably the finest views in the Westcountry. The girls had great fun pretending to be the tor monsters when we reached the top. We really should have taken a picnic with us, but instead found ourselves in the fabulous Hundred Monkeys bistro in Glastonbury afterwards for a well-earned late lunch of deliciously meaty burgers served in artisan bread rolls, local Somerset cider, ice cream coke floats and ever so tempting homemade cakes. If you’re ever in Glastonbury, I heartily recommend it. While we were waiting for our food, the children invented a new game of napkin dot-to-dot; I rather like our arty creations…

TorCollage

So that was how we spent our bank holiday. What did you get up to this weekend?

Disclosure: I was sent samples of the new limited edition Mango & Passionfruit Actimel to try out, along with fresh fruit and a smoothie maker. I also received samples of Dr Oetker’s Wafer Butterflies to see what I thought. No money exchanged hands and the views expressed here, as they are throughout my blog, are completely my own.

kids-in-the-kitchen-banner

 

I’m linking this post up with this week’s Kids in the Kitchen hosted by Look What Mom Found – it’s a great way to share ideas and recipes for involving this little ones in the kitchen.

May’s Recipes for Life challenge: cooking with rhubarb, lemon and spice

rhubarbCollage

Take part in the Recipes for Life challenge and you could see your dish featured in SWALLOW’s new charity cookbook!

We are now well and truly into rhubarb season, as Sarah who works for SWALLOW knows only too well. She has a huge patch of rhubarb in her garden and she doesn’t know what to do with it. So this month we are using the Recipes for Life challenge to help Sarah out by providing her with lots of delicious ideas on how she can put her rhubarb to good use.

Of course, the rules of the Recipes for Life call for a trio of ingredients, and so we’re teaming the rhubarb with lemon and spice – ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli, cardamom, star anise – whichever spices take your fancy and tickle your taste buds. All you have to do to enter the challenge is to combine these three ingredients to make a tasty, simple and wholesome dish and post it on your blog. Make sure any other ingredients you include are easy to come by.

We’re using Recipes for Life to come up with a stock of easy recipes for members of SWALLOW’s cookery club to make in their sessions. SWALLOW is a fab charity based in Midsomer Norton in South West England, supporting adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. The challenge is running for six months and at the end, the best recipes will be included in SWALLOW’s new cookery book to help raise much-needed funds for the charity.

recipes for life

Recipes for Life: how to enter

  1. Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  2. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by everyday items.
  3. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 28 May 2013.
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #RecipesforLife@BangerMashChat and@SWALLOWcharity in your tweet and we will retweet everyone we see.
  5. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and the Recipes for Life badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. SWALLOW staff and members will choose their favourite recipe at the end of each month, and the winner will receive a small prize.
  8. A selection of recipes entered each month will be featured in the SWALLOW cookbook to be published later this year, helping the charity to raise much-needed funds for its ongoing work.

As my first entry, here’s a very simple rhubarb compote. It’s lovely served with roast duck, pork or lamb, and I’m also rather partial to it in a big thick cheese sandwich.

rhubarb compote

Rhubarb compote

knob of butter
small onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped ginger
½ tsp mixed spice
150g rhubarb, chopped
handful of sultanas or raisins
2 tbsp apple juice
2 tbsp lemon juice

Melt the butter in a pan and gently cook the onion and ginger until soft and golden. Stir in the mixed spice and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the rhubarb and dried fruit and mix well to coat the fruit in the spicy butter. Cook for a few minutes before adding the apple and lemon juice. Stir and allow to stew gently for around ten minutes until the rhubarb is soft and mushy but still holds its shape. Serve at room temperature.

rhubarb compote with roast duck

May’s entries

  1. Rhubarb, Ginger and Lemon Fool from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  2. Rhubarb and Lemon Scones from The Garden Deli
  3. Rhubarb, Lemon and a Spice from Fun as a Gran
  4. Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
  5. Rhubarb Crumble Muffins from Chez Foti
  6. Spiced Rhubarb and Lemon Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookies from Bangers & Mash
  7. Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream with Hazelnut Oat Clusters from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  8. Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Friands from JibberJabberUK
  9. Spiced Lemon & Rhubarb Cheesecake from Rich In Flavour
  10. Spiced Rhubarb & Lemon Muffins from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  11. Rhubarb Syllabub from Fun as a Gran
  12. Lavender Poached Rhubarb with Ginger Custard Cream from How to Cook Good Food
  13. Fennel Rhubarb Foolish from Edible Things
  14. Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream with Mini Spiced Lemon Cookies from The Crazy Kitchen
  15. Pork and Rhubarb Curry with Lemon Pilau Rice from Spurs Cook
  16. Moroccan Lamb & Rhubarb with Lemon & Coriander Cous Cous from The Crazy Kitchen
  17. Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Cake from JibberJabberUK
  18. Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Pizza from The Crazy Kitchen
  19. Lemon and Rhubarb Pudding from The Crazy Kitchen
  20. Cheese and Rhubarb Chutney Tart from The Crazy Kitchen
  21. Rhubarb Ice Cream with Lemon Spiced Biscuits from The Grumbling Tummy
  22. Poached Rhubarb Spaghetti from The Good Stuff
  23. Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake from Bangers & Mash

Lemon meringue pie

lemon meringue pie

I’ve been meaning to try making a lemon meringue pie for ages now. I thought they were fussy, complicated puddings to make, but I finally got around to it last weekend and it turned out to be so much easier than I was expecting.

I used a recipe from master baker Dan Lepard, and it was indeed as simple as he promised. The pastry is perfectly light and crisp, while the meringue is soft, fluffy and marshmallow-like. I made one slight change and that was to add some lime juice to the proceedings. I like a lot of contrast in my lemon meringue pie. The meringue has to be verging on sickeningly sweet and so that must be counteracted with a really tangy sharp citrus. I like super tangy. Lime as well as lemon is perfect for that.

The pie went down well with the whole family, particularly Jessie who isn’t generally much of a pudding girl. She came back for seconds. And I enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast on Easter Monday – ever so decadent.

NB instructions for Aga cooks are at the end of the recipe.

lemon meringue pie

Lemon meringue pie

For the pastry

125g plain flour
½ tsp salt
25g icing sugar
75g butter
1 egg yolk
2 tsp cold water

For the lemon filling

100ml lemon juice
100ml lime juice
50ml orange juice
150g caster sugar
25g cornflour
3 egg yolks
25g butter

For the meringue

4 egg whites
125g caster sugar

To make the pastry, put the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Chop the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour. Mix in the egg yolk and water to form a soft paste. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Dan Lepard says to take a 20cm round deep tart case with a removable base but I used a cake tin. Grease your tart case or cake tin. Roll out the dough fairly thinly and line the tin’s base and sides. Press gently into the sides, trim the edges and then chill for another half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C or Gas Mark 3.

Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and weigh down with baking beans. Bake the pastry case for 20 to 25 minutes. Then remove the paper and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the pastry is dry and golden. Leave to cool.

To make the filling, place the lemon, lime and orange juices in a saucepan with the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Place over a low heat and add the butter. Keep stirring while it comes to the boil. Pour the filling into the tart case, leaving a slight gap at the top. Leave to cool completely.

For the meringue, beat the egg whites in large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, beating in well before the next lot of sugar goes in. You should end up with a thick and glossy  meringue.

Spoon the meringue on top of the lemon tart. With the oven still set to 170C or Gas Mark 3, bake for roughly 25 minutes until golden and the meringue has set but is still soft. Leave to cool before serving.

Aga instructions

If you’re using a two-door Aga like me, bake the pastry case on the floor of the roasting oven for 10 to 15 minutes, before removing the beads and baking for a further 5 minutes or so until the pastry is golden.

To cook the full pie, start it off in the middle of the roasting oven for about four minutes until the meringue turns a light brown. Then carefully move down to the top of the simmering oven for another 20 minutes until the meringue is set.

lemon meringue pie

If you liked this, you might also like to try:

Strawberry, rhubarb and lemon tart

Strawberry, rhubarb and lemon tart

Blackberry and cardamom pavlova

Blackberry and cardamom pavlova

Peach pie

Peach pie

April’s Recipes for Life challenge: get cooking with pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes

Take part in the Recipes for Life food bloggers challenge and you could see your dish featured in a new charity cookbook!

We’re already into month three of the Recipes for Life challenge and I’m rather excited about the three ingredients we’ve been set for April by the SWALLOW cookery club. They are: pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes.

Like last month, they might not at first appear the most obvious of culinary combinations. But give it a few moments’ thought and I’d be surprised if a whole host of tasty meal ideas don’t start whirring around your brain!

The rules of the challenge are the same as before; simply come up with a wholesome, delicious and easy-to-cook recipe featuring this month’s three key ingredients, and which members of the cookery club at SWALLOW can cook themselves.

Through its Fit for Life programme, SWALLOW runs cookery courses for adults with learning disabilities, giving them the skills and confidence to prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious meals. They are looking for new recipes to cook on the course, and ultimately to include in their new cookbook.

So what meal could you rustle up with pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes? You can use any pork-based product you fancy – a whole joint or chops, bacon or ham, sausages or mince. The sweetcorn can be fresh, on the cob, tinned or frozen. And the tomatoes can again be fresh, tinned or perhaps sun-dried – you might even get away with a puree or passata. So you see, it’s really a rather versatile shopping list this month.

Recipes for Life: how to enter

  1. Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above and below) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  2. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by basic store cupboard items.
  3. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 23 April 2013.
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #RecipesforLife, @BangerMashChat and @SWALLOWcharity in your tweet and we will retweet everyone we see.
  5. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and the Recipes for Life badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. SWALLOW staff and members will choose their favourite recipe at the end of each month, and the winner will receive a small prize.
  8. A selection of recipes entered each month will be featured in the SWALLOW cookbook to be published later this year, helping the charity to raise much needed funds for its ongoing work.

Pork chops are a firm favourite in our house – they’re almost as popular as sausages. When I was told the trio of ingredients for April, I knew I’d have to get in there first with some chops. So here’s my entry to get things started…

Buy your pork chops from the butcher and ask for them to be cut nice and thick – they stay much more moist and succulent that way.

I like to roast my corn on the cobs in the oven in a little butter with whatever herbs I have available; the end result is so much sweeter and tastier than if you simply boil them.

corn on the cob

The spicy tomato relish includes some optional extras such as olives and capers but don’t worry if you don’t have these or you don’t like them – the relish tastes just as good without. And some simple mashed potato on the side is perfect for soaking up all those delicious buttery, meaty juices.

Rosemary and garlic pork chops with roasted corn on the cob and spicy tomato relish

Serves 4

4 thick pork chops
3 sprigs rosemary
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
salt and pepper

4 corn on the cobs
50g butter
fresh or dried herbs (I used fresh thyme and sage)
salt and pepper

For the tomato relish

1 tbsp olive oil
Half an onion, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine or cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
30g capers (optional)
30g black olives, roughly chopped (optional)
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped (optional)

Start by preparing the marinade for the pork.

Place the pork chops in a large dish. Pull the rosemary leaves off the woody stems, roughly chop and give them a good pounding with a pestle and mortar. Put the rosemary in a bowl with the crushed garlic and olive oil. Chop the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Chop up the lemon skin, give it a good bash with the pestle and mortar and add to the bowl with a little salt and pepper. Mix it all together before pouring onto the meat.

Get your hands in and rub the marinade all over the chops so they are well smothered. Cover and leave for a couple of hours.

Prepare the corn on the cob by firstly placing them on large sheets of foil. Generously smear each cob with butter, season and sprinkle over your chosen herbs. Wrap the corns in the foil, leaving a little room for the steam.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

When the pork is marinated, place on a wire rack over a roasting tray and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how big your chops are. Turn halfway through the cooking time. The chops are cooked when there is no sign of pink inside and are nicely browned on the outside.

Roast the corn in the oven at the same time, placing them directly on the oven shelf. They should take around 20 minutes. Test the corn with a sharp knife and remove from the oven when they are just tender. Leave wrapped in foil until you’re ready to serve.

While the chops and corn are cooking, make the tomato relish. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently soften the onion until it is golden. Add the paprika and cook for a minute or two before stirring in the chopped tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. If you are using, also add in the capers and olives. Cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes until the relish has thickened. Mix in the coriander right at the end.

Keep the relish warm until the pork chops and corn are ready and serve on warmed plates, ideally with some mashed potato on the side. That’s what I call proper family grub – it’s definitely finger licking good!

April’s entries

  1. Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Sausages from The Crazy Kitchen
  2. Sausage Chilli from The Garden Deli
  3. BBQ Pork Ribs with Sweetcorn Salsa from Under the Blue Gum Tree
  4. Slow Cooker Pork Creole from JibberJabberUK
  5. Sausage Pesto Pasta from The Crazy Kitchen
  6. Oven Baked Tortilla from The Crazy Kitchen
  7. Pulled Pork Wrap with  Tomato and Chorizo Salsa and Sweet Sweet Sweetcorn from Spurs Cook
  8. Pork, Sweetcorn & Tomatoes with Vermicelli Rice Noodles from Fun as a Gran

  9. A Very Retro Sweet and Sour Pork from Chez Foti
  10. Cheat’s Ciabatta Pizza from Bangers & Mash
  11. Sausage Chilli (Again) from the Garden Deli and Bangers & Mash
  12. Red Rice Accompanied by Pork, Sweetcorn and Tomato from Fun as a Gran

Slow roasted pork neck in thyme, rosemary & bay with mint flatbreads

Generally in January I yearn for rib-sticking, stodgy, winter warmers; the kind of hearty, satisfying food that provides an extra layer of insulation against the cold and damp outside.

But occasionally I find myself craving sunshine food; dishes that remind me of blue skies, eating al fresco and the scent of honeysuckle. And this slow roasted pork does exactly that. The sweet, fragrant and tender pork neck is shredded and served simply with flatbreads, salad and tzatziki, very reminiscent of incredible gyros we enjoyed on holiday in Kefalonia last summer.

Pork neck is a very cheap cut of meat but you’ll probably need to ask your butcher for it. Ours doesn’t have it out on the counter as it’s not all that popular; he normally uses it in his sausages. But it is perfect for slow cooking – so delicious and full of flavour, especially when you marinade it in plenty of herbs, garlic and lemon juice. Don’t be tempted to rush the roasting. For a wonderfully succulent texture, the pork neck will need around four to five hours in the oven.

Slow roasted pork neck in thyme, rosemary and bay

Serves 4

1kg pork neck
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
large bunch of fresh thyme, leaves stripped
2 large sprigs of rosemary
1 lemon
handful of bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. You begin with a high temperature to get it started and then whack it right down low to slow cook.

Using a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the garlic cloves with the thyme, a handful of rosemary picked from the stalk and the juice of half the lemon. Put the piece of pork into a medium-sized ovenproof dish, pierce all over with a sharp knife and rub all over with the garlic and herb mixture so it penetrates the flesh.

Chop the remaining lemon half into half again and place in the dish alongside the pork with the rest of the rosemary and bay leaves. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. (If you’re using an Aga, place in the middle of the top oven.)

After 15 to 20 minutes, just enough time to really get the meat hot, turn the temperature down to 140°C/gas mark 1, or the middle of the simmering Aga oven.

Roast for four to five hours until the meat is tender and beginning to fall apart.

Remove the foil and increase the temperature to 200°C/gas mark 6 (back to the top Aga oven) again for another 10 to 15 minutes to brown the pork a little.

Shred the pork using a couple of forks and pile onto a large serving plate. Bring to the table with a simple salad, tzatziki and a stack of warm mint flatbreads (below).

Mint flatbreads

These flatbreads were inspired by a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in his wonderful book Plenty. I’ve swapped coriander for mint, which perfectly complements the Greek-style pork and yoghurt.

280g plain flour
3tsp baking powder
1½ tsp salt
280g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp dried mint
butter
olive oil

Place the flour, baking powder, salt, yoghurt and mint in a large bowl and mix together to form a dry dough. Add a little more flour it it’s a bit sticky. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is smooth and stretchy. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Divide the dough into 10 to 12 pieces, form into balls and then roll with a rolling pin into round discs about 2mm thick.

Heat a knob of butter and a little olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and fry the flatbreads, one at a time, for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. Add a little more butter and oil as required. Keep the flatbreads warm until you’ve cooked them all.

Enjoy with your slow roasted pork!

As this dish features lots of lovely herbs, I’m entering it into Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday recipe challenge, which I also happen to be hosting this month!

Fusilli with Broad Beans and Mint

This is a quick and easy pasta dish for summer days when you don’t want to spend hours slaving over a hot stove. Flavoured with fresh mint and zingy lemon, it’s ideal for using up the last of those broad beans on the veggie patch.

Fusilli with Broad Beans and Mint

Serves 3 to 4

200g dried fusilli
100g shelled broad beans
3tbsp creme fraiche
juice of half a lemon
large handful of fresh mint, chopped
125g grated Cheddar cheese
glug extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile boil or steam the broad beans for a few minutes until just cooked, with a little bite, and drain. Refresh in cold water.

When the pasta is tender, drain – reserving a little of the pasta water, and return the pasta to the hot pan.

Add the broad beans, creme fraiche, lemon juice, mint, cheese and olive oil to the pasta and mix thoroughly until the pasta is well coated. Stir in a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce if required. Season to taste and serve.

There you go – told you it was easy!

As this dish features lots of lovely broad beans, I’m entering it into August’s Simple and in Season – a wonderful blog challenge hosted by Ren Behan at Fabulicious Food, celebrating the best in seasonal produce.

And as mint is another star of this dish, I’m also entering it into August’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, hosted by Karen Burns Booth at Lavender & Lovage.