Pickled Red Cabbage

Firstly, apologies, as I should have had this post up several days ago, but things have been crazy.

My Christmas preparations continue, with my pickled red cabbage now happily maturing in the cupboard.

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I board a lovely red cabbage from a farm shop and shredded it thinly, discarding any really tough bits near the stalk and popped it in a colander and generously covered with salt. I allowed that to sit overnight, before rinsing off the salt the next day and patting the shredded cabbage dry.

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A heated some standard malt vinegar with pickling spices and some soft brown sugar, stirring until the sugar melted and tiny bubbles started to appear in the vinegar, but didn’t allow it to boil.

Once the vinegar was cool, I packed the cabbage tightly into jars and topped up with the vinegar. For added protection, I topped each jar with clingfilm before tightly closing them.

They should have a good five weeks to mature ready for Christmas – now I just need to do the onions! It’ll be perfect for cold meats and cheeses.

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Chicken Stock

My Christmas preparations are continuing, as the days seem to fly by. Today, it was time to get the stock ready for a wonderful gravy.

We had a roast chicken on Sunday, so after all the meat was used up in a leftovers’ meal last night, I was able to use the carcass to make my stock. I put all of the bones, along with any unwanted skin, into a big saucepan, along with two red onions, just peeled and quartered – I used two as they were very small – and a carrot, peeled and chopped into quarters.

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To this, I added a bay leaf and then covered everything with water and brought it to the boil. Then I turned the heat down to a low simmer, put the lid on the pot and allowed it all to cook slowly for around 4-5hours.

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Then I strained out all the bits, to leave just the liquid and returned the stock to the pan for another half an hour to really help to concentrate it a touch.

Then, pour into a jug and allow to cool, removing any excess fat that floats to the top, before transferring to a freezer bag and freezing. I’ll get it out on Christmas Eve, ready to add a real level of depth to my turkey gravy for the Big Day.

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Pasta Chicken Corden Bleu

Now, I’m not really sure I should be calling this Pasta Chicken Corden Bleu as it doesn’t involve any breadcrumbs, but hey-ho, I think it fits! This is such an easy meal to whip up and if, like me, you opt for supermarket budget ingredients – with the exception of the chicken, which I got from the butcher – it can be super cheap too.

Start off by slicing up a leek and sautéing that off with a minced garlic clove. When the leek has sweated down, add two diced chicken breasts and allow to colour before putting in one rasher of very finely chopped bacon.

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After allowing the meat a little time to cook, add a handful of slice mushrooms of your choice – I used white mushrooms.

Now, take a small tub of soft cheese and put that in the pan and allow it to melt down, before adding a generous handful of grated cheddar cheese and let that melt together with a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard. This will help to create a thick and very cheesy sauce. When it’s all melted together, grind in black pepper.

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Serve with pasta – personally, I like a drizzle of olive oil too.

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Sausage Casserole

With the clocks now turned back and the official end of British Summer Time, I figured it was time to think comfort food. For me, that means a good casserole. So, for dinner tonight, I knocked us up a tasty sausage casserole and it’s so simple to do.

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Start with any sausages you fancy or have in and brown them off in a frying pan, before transferring to a casserole dish. Then sweat off a chopped onion, a minced clove of garlic and two diced carrots and add those to the casserole.

For the stock, I used a beef stock pot and a red wine one, which I dissolved in around a pint and a half of boiling water and added a cornflour slurry (two teaspoons of cornflour dissolved in cold water), which helps to thicken the gravy whilst cooking. Add the liquid to the casserole, along with two bay leaves and a handful of chopped mushrooms, a spoonful of English mustard, a squeeze of tomato puree, some mixed herbs and salt and pepper and give everything a good mix together.

Next, add sliced, raw potatoes to the top of the casserole and sprinkle with oil and rosemary, before putting the lid on and popping in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 40minutes. After that time, take the lid off and return the pot to the oven for another 20minutes.

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Make sure the potatoes have a nice crisp top and then serve.

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 A casserole dish like this is perfect.

Chicken & Mushroom Pilaf

I was inspired to have a go at this after watching the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network this morning. If you haven’t discovered her yet, do check her out!

Ree was serving up a mushroom pilaf with a fillet steak, however, we don’t often stretch to the luxury of a fillet steak! I figured, instead of a side dish, I’d just serve it up as a main course with some chicken.

I didn’t follow Ree’s recipe, mainly because I couldn’t remember it! However, this is what I did:

I started by melting some butter in a large saucepan and added a finely chopped onion and three cloves of garlic. After allowing them to soften for a few minutes, I added six or seven chopped mushrooms – I had white mushrooms in the fridge, but you could use any you fancy. Allow them to soften a bit too and then add rice to the pan, give it a stir and pour in around a pint and a half of stock. I opted to use those stock pot things and used a chicken and a white wine one for added flavour.

Whilst the rice was cooking, I cooked two diced chicken breasts in a separate pan, before adding that into the rice along with some mixed herbs and a good grinding of black pepper. Then it was ready and time to dish up.

The feedback I got from Himself was ‘very tasty’ and he ‘really enjoyed’ it. It was ready in minutes, so if you need something quick and tasty this could help. And a big thank you to the Pioneer Woman for the inspiration!

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Chicken Curry

My other half does enjoy a curry, the only difference is he can take a lot more spice than I can, as I’m a wimp! But, I thought I’d give a chicken curry a go this week.

Now, I did start out with measuring spices – yes, I do own measuring spoons – but, then that kind of went out of the window.

First, I finely diced an onion and cooked that in a wok with some oil until it was nice and soft, before adding a couple of teaspoons each of ground ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, medium curry powder, along with two finely chopped cloves of garlic and freshly ground black pepper. After letting them cook for a bit, I added a squeeze of lemon juice and let everything get to know each other for a while, before adding in two diced chicken breasts and allowing the meat to take on some colour.

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When the chicken was about halfway cooked, pour in a tin of coconut milk and a touch of garam masala and allow to simmer. For a touch of texture, I added some chopped almond – just half a handful, as I didn’t want to overpower it.

Taste the curry to see if you like it and add anything extra you think it may need. In a separate frying pan, heat a little oil and add some mustard seeds and roasted cashews. Let them fry to put some colour on the nuts and the seeds will start popping.

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Serve the curry with rice and top with the cashews and mustard seeds. We also had naan bread and poppadoms for our homemade takeaway.

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Chicken Pizza Pasta

So, this was an unusual one, inspired by something the other half had seen online in one of those quick videos that does the rounds on social media, but I strive to please!

I’ve taken to calling this chicken pizza pasta!

Start by taking two chicken breasts – mine were skinless, but it doesn’t matter – and slash it a few times, leaving little pocket openings. Into these slashes, put sliced of red onion, tomato and pepper. Put the chicken onto a foiled baking tray and then add a little chopped bacon – I just used one rasher between the two breasts. Now, go crazy with grated mozzarella and top with some mixed herbs. Pop the tray into the oven on 200C for 25minutes.

Whilst the chicken is doing its thing, cook some pasta. I also whipped a sauce, using the remains of our home-grown tomatoes and aubergine. I chopped up the aubergine and fried it in some good olive oil, whilst the tomatoes softened in a pan with some salt, pepper and a touch of sugar. Once the tomatoes were soft, I squashed them up with a wooden spoon, added some salt, pepper and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, before adding in the aubergine and a few chopped mushrooms.

When the chicken is cooked, hopefully everything else will be ready too. Put some pasta on a plate, top with some of the tomato sauce and then your star, the chicken breast ie the pizza!

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