Sometimes, simplicity is perfection!

So, after a long hard day of work and exercise dinner had to be special, and it was. Vey special, yet very simple. A look in my fridge gave me leftovers; 1 uncooked chicken breast, a chilli and a small bunch of fresh chives. How could I possibly combine these leftovers? Well a quick trip to the shop around the corner from my house and I was good to go. No nonsense, I was going to make an omelette. Not just an omelette, a super omelette!

I fried off the chicken breast in some olive oil whilst I combined 4 eggs with chopped chives and chilli. Once the chicken was cooked through I chopped the breast into nice sizes and added to the egg mixture.
Omelettes are so simple to make, but they are easy to get wrong. You don’t want it falling apart, you don’t want scrambled eggs, you don’t want one side burnt and the other raw. I melted a good knob of butter in a small frying pan and once nice and golden, I poured in the egg mixture, ratting the pan to get as even a distribution as possible. The trick is to wait a minute for the edges to set, then with a spatula, lift the edge of the omelette and tilt the pan so the uncooked egg runs over the edge and onto the bottom of the pan. That way you will not burn the bottom side.

Once there was very little raw egg mixture on top it is time to flip, but just as I was ready to do this, I had an idea what if I was to pour over a tbsp of balsamic vinegar before folding? That way I would get a delicious layer of acidity in the middle of my omelette. Man I’m glad I tried it. Once folded over, push down on the omelette with a fish slice and cook for a further minute. Then you can scoop onto a plate and serve either with a salad, some lovely rocket, or simply on its own.

This omelette was the real deal; a tiny bit of heat from the chilli, freshness from the chives, delicious, juicy, tender chicken and of course some sweet acidity from the balsamic. Simple and delicious, you just gotta love the omelette!

The weekend is approaching and I have finally been paid! Not sure what is on the menu, but I can’t wait to find out!

Happy eating everyone and hope your weekends are all full of laughter and, of course, wonderful food!

J

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All you need is food

If I ever needed proof that food solves all your problems then I got some today. A rather dismal day at work forgotten in the time it took me to gather my ingredients for tonight’s dinner. I have been really healthy recently, and tonight’s dinner was no exception, Chicken with courgettes, sugar snap peas and some basil rocket.

You may have noticed already, but I don’t like doing too much to ingredients. I would go as far to say that I am put off by complicated recipes that have a huge list of ingredients. I say keep it simple and let the ingredients do the talking.
I very simply seasoned some chicken breasts and fried in a little basil olive oil on all sides until there as a little colour in them. I then placed the chicken into a pre heated oven at 180degrees for 10 minutes. Meanwhile I chopped a courgette into thin strips and added to some boiling chicken stock to poach for a few minutes.
That is all the cooking I am planning to do. I will mix some of the aforementioned basil oil in with rocket and serve the sugar snap peas raw. Raw peas take me back to my childhood when every spring I would get in trouble for stealing my mums peas from the garden. I just loved the texture, the freshness and the sweetness of these awesome vegetables.
10 minutes in the oven and my chicken was lovely and juicy. Do take care with chicken, I pierced the thickest part of the breast and looked for juices to run clear. Any sign of pinkness and it needs more time.
I served the chicken over the rocket, drained the courgettes and finished with a nice big pile of raw peas. Delicious, healthy, quick and very very simple. Happy James, and what was it I was so annoyed about? I can’t remember. Thank you food!

Happy eating everyone

J

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Lunchtime Kick

The weather is still foul here; gusty winds and horizontal rain, just horrible. On the positive side however, it is always good to turn to some classic dishes for comfort, this morning I made one such classic to help warm the coggles at lunch time, Penne alla Arrabiata with chilli and fennel sausages.

Yet again, this was a very quick dish to put together, taking the time it took the water to boil and cook the pasta. We got some delicious italian style sausages from our local supermarket bursting with fennel and chilli, they are very very special. I started off by frying the sausages wit some olive oil before turning my attention to the sauce….

I very simply chopped some garlic and onion and added to some passata. I then added 1 tsp of sugar and a whole chilli with all the seeds. I do love chilli, especially when the wind and rain are battering the windows. I cooked the sauce together for around 7-8 minutes as the sausages fried and the pasta boiled.

Once the sausages were done, I cut them into nice chunks and added them to the sauce. A few minutes later and my pasta was nice and al dente. Needless to say I couldn’t stop thinking about my inch all day and it did not disappoint. The mixture of fennel, chilli and tomato together with the delicious al dente pene, it was very special. I just love pasta, and garlic, and chilli and tomato sauce, and fennel haha.

Thank you to all who have visited my blog, I really hope you are enjoying my ramblings on food and do continue to keep in touch. There is no better way to interact with people than through food.

As always, happy eating everyone! Remember that so long as you have food on your plate, you have solved all problems for the time being!

J

Video: Turkey with courgettes, chickpeas and kale.

Turkey with courgettes, chickpeas and kale

Here’s a short video of me cooking turkey steaks with courgettes, chickpeas and kale. Delicious, simple, very healthy and very very quick.
Apologies for any problems understanding my Scottish accent hah and for the amateur camera work and editing.

Happy eating everyone

J

Risotto lunch and my first video

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days, I suppose I have some catching up to do….
On Saturday evening I made homemade beef sausages with some yummy lentils, very hearty and super healthy too. I used the old trick of shaping the meat into sausage shapes and poaching them in some boiling water for around 20 minutes so they kept their shape. I fried them off just as normal and served them over some hearty lentils and some crunchy homemade bread. Beautiful!

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Sunday ended up being pork day, delicious pork chops with a balsamic rocket salad and for dinner some yummy pork belly strips. The highlight of our family barbecues must be my mums pork belly which she marinades for hours in a lovely spicy sauce, delicious.

I also made today’s lunch last night as well, Risotto Milanese. The thing to say about this dish is that it looks incredibly inviting due to its yellow colour, the workings of saffron. I just love risotto and I would like to think that I have got pretty good at making them over the years. You need a lovely, creamy end product and the rice must be al dente, soft on the outside with a little bite on the inside. It is important to keep stirring throughout the cooking process and that you keep your stock cooking at the same temperature.

A Risotto Milanese is a simple combination of onions, arborio rice, saffron and some chicken stock (or vegetable stock for you vegetarians out there). I added the saffron to the stock and kept it boiling as I added it to the rice, bit by bit. I also experimented by adding some nutmeg and cinnamon, a surprisingly nice addition. When cooking you just have to try new things, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t (avoid post on my first attempt at molecular gastronomy hahahaha – Food or Science?) Once you have a creamy consistency, add a good knob of butter to finish it off.

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Tonight I made delicious turkey steaks, with some kale, chickpeas and courgettes. Instead of talking you through this recipe, I put together a video. I apologise in advance if you have difficulty understanding my broad Scottish accent, and also for the very amateur camera work and editing. It is not meant to blow your mind, but to show you that a lovely meal with only a handful of ingredients is possible in under 10 minutes. I hope you watch the short video and I promise they will get better as I grow more confident in front of the camera.

Happy eating everyone, and I hope you enjoy the video……..

James xo

Melted Camembert with Freshly Baked Bread

Today’s lunch was one to remember. A whole Camembert, roasted in the oven until creamy paired with freshly baked bead. All of this washed down with a glass of delicious rich Boujalis. Does it get any better than this?
Tearing a bit of freshly baked, still warm bread, dipping it into the cheese and then taking a bit of roasted garlic, a heavenly mouthful. Even better, a sip of really rich Boujalis (one of my favourite red wines) to wash it down.
Our fridge and cupboards are beginning to get a little bare, so will have to think up a dish for tonight’s dinner. Watch this space…..

Hope your weekends are full of happiness, laughter and of course good food.

J

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The Cold Conquerer

Well, if Emily’s cold has not been conquered by tonights dinner, nothing will. I took a classic Italian stew, Garmugia and added my own spin on it. Garmugia is typically made in spring time, taking full advantage of the abundance of gorgeous seasonal vegetables. A traditional Garmugia includes pancetta, beef mince, artichokes, asparagus, broad beans, peas, onions and garlic. So some changes…

Is there anything to help beat a cold than the spice of some chillies? I added 2 chillies and some potatoes to some of the above ingredients.

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1. Bring some vegetable stock to the boil. Chop all of your veg: onions, garlic, potatoes, asparagus, cavolo nero, artichoke and chillies.

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2. Add all of your veg to the stock and cover with a lid. Meanwhile, fry the pork mince in a frying pan until brown.

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3. Add the mince to the veg and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

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And thats it; sit down, pour a glass of wine, break a piece of bread and enjoy. Cooking all of the ingredients in the same pot allows all the flavours to join together and this truly is divine.
Next time you, or a loved one, have a cold, get this cold conquerer cooked and allow all the goodness and heat soothe you.

Bon appetito everyone and happy eating!

A welcoming bowl of soup, an omelette and Tuscan inspiration.

I was greeted with a lovely bowl of homemade creamy mushroom soup upon my return from work. A delicious combo of onions, garlic, nutmeg, milk, cream and of purse mushrooms. I just love homemade soup, especially mushroom soup.

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Yet again, I made a quick meal for my lunch this morning, a very quick and simple omelette with cavolo nero and rocket salad. I added the cavolo nero to a pan of boiling water and left to boil for 5 minutes whilst I combined 3 eggs, salt, pepper, a dash of milk and some leftover cream. heat some butter in a pan and once the cavolo nero is nicely blanched, add to the omelette mix and throw into the pan. The omelette only takes around 4 minutes to cook and I placed it on a bed of rocket tossed in some delicious balsamic vinegar. Needless to say, I cannot wait for lunch! Have you tried making a quick, easy meal for your work lunch? It is definitely worth the effort!

Emily is still feeling under the weather, so tonight I am going to make a dish similar to Garmugia, a Spring stew from the province of Lucca in Tuscany. This is traditionally made in the spring, taking full advantage of the fresh vegetables and is known for having ‘healing’ qualities. I will leave the original until spring time, but I want to steal the idea and make a hearty stew of my own.

It has been a long month and pay day is still a week away. Not to worry, a rummage in my fridge last night revealed a batch of cavolo nero, some pork mince and some leftover broad beans. I also have some chillies so I am going to combine the lot.

I will post again tonight with the results of my own Tuscan inspired stew, so stay tuned.

Happy eating everyone!

J

Hug in a Bowl

Emily has been under the weather today, it has been very cold here! So for dinner, there was only one thing for it, French Onion Soup. This is a simple yet delicious soup, silky smooth and a good defence against the cold.

Add a large knob of butter to a large sauce pan and once melted, add the onion. Toss over 2 tbsps of sugar and cook the onions until they are soft. Pour over enough beef stock to cover the onions and simmer for an hour.
You can also aff lovely, light and fluffy dumplings. Simply add 100g of flour with 50g of Suet. Add a pinch of salt and, if you want, 50g of fresh herbs. Add 5 tbsps of water to the dry mix and stir well to form a dough. Once combined, roll the dough into balls and add to the soup to cook for 25 minutes, they will double in size and will be deliciously fluffy.
I have also sliced and toasted some read, rubbed with garlic and topped with some melted cheese. Out this at the bottom of the dish if using, and pour the soup over.

This really is a favourite of mine, and one of my mums many soups I remember eating when I was a little boy. The onions melt in the mouth and the sweetness combines really well with the fresh, fluffy dumplings. 2 clean dishes later, and Emily is a happy girl, so job well done!

French Onion Soup with dumplings

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Lunch in Minutes

I am beginning to get good at conjuring up dishes with available ingredients and cooking them very quickly to take to work for lunch. This morning my meal was a combo of cupboard favourites and leftovers. I’ve made capers and olives in a tomato sauce served on top of leftover crusty bread.

I quickly, but carefully, slices 1 onion, 1 red chilli and added to a saucepan.

I then added 1 tbsp of capers and a handful of black pitted olives.

To finish, a generous dashing of passata to cover all the ingredients, and 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar.

Whilst it cooked on the stove I cut a piece of Emily’s delicious home baked bread and placed at the bottom of my little plastic tub. Pour over the sauce and add a sprinkling of Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, delicious. I just cannot wait for lunch now!

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Emily was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I may have to try a centuries old recipe from Tuscany, one that is said to have healing properties, Garmugia. Watch this space……

Hope you all have a great day, fuelled on good food

Happy eating

J