Gratin Polesano / potato and cheese gratin

Gratin Polesano CollageI was given this delicious gratin recipe by Italian chef and cookery writer, Valentina Harris, who I met through my involvement in the wonderful Wells Food Festival, which has now become an annual event in England’s smallest city.

This gratin comes from Northern Italy, and is perfect as a supper dish in itself with a green salad on the side, but if you really fancy pigging out it’s also a great accompaniment to roast chicken or pork for Sunday lunch. Continue reading “Gratin Polesano / potato and cheese gratin”

Crispy Chinese duck with pancakes

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It’s the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations tomorrow, so what better reason to have a go at making my favourite must-have dish whenever I find myself in a Chinese restaurant?

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I absolutely adore Chinese crispy duck. It’s that irresistible combination of soft, succulent meat; crispy, spicy skin; crunchy vegetables (I added rocket to the usual mix of slivers of cucumber and spring onion); rich, sweet plum sauce; and the DIY joy of wrapping it all up in paper-thin pancakes. It’s why children love this dish so much too – anything they can make up themselves, putting them in control of what they put in their mouth as well as a great excuse to get all sticky and messy – it’s just such delicious fun. Continue reading “Crispy Chinese duck with pancakes”

Pot-roast chicken with soured cream and allspice

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It’s a slightly old-fashioned kind of dish but I’m rather partial to a pot-roast chicken. It’s the easiest way to guarantee a succulent, perfectly moist bird, especially when you slaver it in plenty of butter too.

This pot roast is very much like the Poulet a l’Estragon I made in France and featured on the blog last year. But whereas that one is a wonderfully aromatic summer dish, this pot-roast is a subtly spiced winter warmer. Continue reading “Pot-roast chicken with soured cream and allspice”

Guest post from Budget Pantry: Vietnamese ‘Bo Kho’ Minced Meat Noodles

Vietnamese Bo Kho Noodles

I’m thrilled to be handing over the reins of my blog today to the lovely Singapore-based Chris from Budget Pantry. We’ve been partnered up by WORLDFOODS to take part in their International Fusion Recipe Swap Challenge. Today I bring you Chris’ very tempting recipe for Vietnamese ‘Bo Kho’ Minced Meat Noodles, while over on her blog you’ll find my Spicy Beef Cobbler.

So without further ado, I hand you over to Chris… Continue reading “Guest post from Budget Pantry: Vietnamese ‘Bo Kho’ Minced Meat Noodles”

Black pepper chicken

Black pepper chicken

I’d love to tell you some story about how I first came across this black pepper chicken curry when I was backpacking around India, or how I discovered it in some wonderful Keralan restaurant. But in fact this was the first time I’ve tried this recipe and it was the result of looking up inspiration for pepper recipes online.

When I started researching something to cook for this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which has peppercorns as its theme, Kerala-style dishes came up again and again. I suppose this isn’t surprising really, since black pepper is thought to originate from the rainforests of Kerala in southern India and it’s still one of the main producers of the spice. Continue reading “Black pepper chicken”

Chicken tortilla bake

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With Jack Frost nipping at our toes, the time for warming, hearty comfort food is most definitely here. And if it’s quick and easy to rustle up, so much the better.

This simple Chicken Tortilla Bake is a firm family favourite, and so easy to throw together with a few frozen veggies. It’s basically a lasagne with flour tortillas replacing the pasta sheets. Continue reading “Chicken tortilla bake”

Bangin’ books: Men’s Pie Manual, plus a hearty oxtail and beef cheek pie

Mens Pie Manual

If you’re looking for a gift for the foodie bloke in your life, can I recommend this latest title from Haynes. Yes, that’s right. Haynes, as in the publisher of the popular car manuals.

Following on from their success with the Haynes Baby Manual , they’re now taking a foray into the world of cookbooks, namely in the form of manly pies. The Men’s Pie Manual is written by food journalist and author, Andy Webb, who has also been a judge at the British Pie Awards since 2011, so he should know a good pie when he sees one.

They’ve got the look and tone of the Men’s Pie Manual just right – that 70s DIY manual feel is all there. And with a quote on the cover from the blokiest of TV chefs, the gert lush Tom Kerridge, Haynes clearly feel there’s a booming market out there for lads, as opposed to chaps, in the kitchen. Continue reading “Bangin’ books: Men’s Pie Manual, plus a hearty oxtail and beef cheek pie”

Mini toad in the holes with caramelised onion

mini toad in the hole

In case yesterday’s post wasn’t quite sausagey enough for you, here’s another brilliant banger recipe. It is British Sausage Week after all, and could there be a more traditionally British way to eat bangers than in good old toad in the hole?

Like most children, my daughters love mini versions of most foods and these mini toads were a big hit this weekend. As well as having the dinky factor, individual Yorkshires mean you get just the right ratio of crispy crunch to soft, squidgy pud. Continue reading “Mini toad in the holes with caramelised onion”

Shakshuka with potato and sausage for British Sausage Week

Sausage shakshuka

Shakshuka is one of our favourite weekend brunch dishes. It’s essentially a spiced tomato and pepper stew with eggs poached on top and hails originally from North Africa. As you may have noticed, I’m a sucker for any dish that comes with an egg on top.

We play around with the ingredients of our shakshuka quite a bit – it’s one of those versatile dishes that lends itself to experimentation. This particular variation is very good and very satisfying, bringing together flavours of North Africa with elements of a Full English, namely sausage and potato. If you happen to have either or both of these leftover in your fridge, it’s the perfect way to put them to good use.

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The addition of sausage is rather fitting as this week is British Sausage Week, an annual celebration of the traditional Great British Banger. We adore sausages here at Chez Bangers, as you might have guessed, but we are very fussy about the sausages we buy. Only proper bangers with a high meat content from happy pigs make it onto our table.

For this shakshuka, I used delicious Cumberland pork and honey sausages from Donald Russell, an award-winning online butcher. They are beautifully flavoured with herbs and spices and there’s a subtle sweetness from the honey, which works so well with the spicy vegetable stew. All Donald Russell sausages are made with Freedom Food pork shoulder meat as standard.

Make sure you serve this up with lots of crusty white bread for mopping up all those gorgeous spicy juices and runny egg yolk.

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Shakshuka with potato and sausage

Serves 3 to 4

1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, halved and sliced
1 red and 1 green pepper, sliced
2 bay leaves
handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
4 good quality pork sausages, grilled and chopped into bitesize chunks
3 medium potatoes, boiled and diced
3 or 4 eggs (1 per person)

Dry roast the cumin seeds in a large frying pan for a couple of minutes, before adding the oil and onions. Gently cook the onions for 5 minutes, then add the peppers, bay leaves and thyme. Continue to cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes.

Next add the chopped tomatoes, cayenne and season to taste. Turn the heat down low and cook for another 15 minutes. Then stir in the cooked sausages and potatoes.

Preheat oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.

Pour the stew into a large, flat, ovenproof dish. Using the back of a ladle or large spoon, make ‘dents’ in the stew into which you then break your eggs. Place the dish carefully in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the eggs are just cooked – the whites should be set but the yolk still runny.

Serve immediately with lots of fresh, white bread.

Disclosure: I received a selection of complimentary sausages and sausage products from Donald Russell for review and recipe development. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own. For details of the full range visit www.donaldrussell.com.