Saturday, 30 June 2012

Sausage and Leek Pie

The idea for this delicious pie was given to me by my Mother, who saw a TV chef (I think she said it was Phil Vickery) make it on television.  I couldn’t wait to try it out.  As my husband loves sausages in all shape or form I knew it would be a winner with him!

This is what I did, it will serve four people, or two people twice!

1 pack of ready-made shortcrust pastry
8 good quality meaty sausages
1 leek
1 knob of butter
1 bunch of herbs to your personal taste, I used sage and rosemary from my garden
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg (optional) 

Simply clean the leeks, halve lengthways and slice.  Sweat gently in the butter until the leeks have softened. 

Skin the sausages and place in a mixing bowl, add the chopped herbs and season with black pepper.  Mix thoroughly with your hands. 

Line a pie dish or plate with the pastry, keeping enough back for the lid. 

Add a generous layer of sausage meat to the bottom of the pie, top with the sautéed leeks and then a final layer of sausage meat.  Add a pastry lid to the pie and brush with beaten egg (or milk if you don’t want to waste a good egg washing pastry!). 

Cook at 150oC / 300oF / gas mark 2 for an 1¾  to 2 hours.  If the pies begin to brown too much before the end of the cooking time simply cover with a folded sheet of greaseproof paper to protect them. 

This pie will be delicious with a generous dollop of either tomato ketchup or your brown sauce of choice!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Egg & Bacon Flan

Over the years I have made many, many quiches with all sorts of ingredients and a quiche remains one of my favourite comfort foods.  In recent years I have re-discovered the classic quiche Lorraine, or egg and bacon flan as my Grandmother used to call it!

It’s a very simple dish, using refrigerator staples – bacon, eggs and cheese and really quite a frugal dish.  But such a classic combination and it can be taken to all new levels of tastiness by using really good quality ingredients.  Make it with best quality, oak or applewood smoked bacon, really strong cheddar and what I call proper eggs (from properly free-range hens) and you have yourself a real treat.  Nothing, but nothing can bring cheer to the weary soul like a very good, very simple quiche. 

The method below is pretty much the basic one I’ve been using for umpty tumpty years and will never let you down.  The only adaption I’ve made is to incorporate Delia’s tip of using a little parmesan cheese just before it goes into the oven.   

Like all my recipes, this is far from set in stone.  You can, of course, vary the basic recipe with whatever assortment of meat, fish or veggies takes your fancy. 

A small flan for two people : 

Grease and line a small flan dish with pastry.  The one I used was 7" in diameter and produced a nice deep quiche.

2 eggs
½ pint of milk (you can use a mixture of milk and cream for very best results!)
2 or 3 oz of good cheddar cheese (Welsh by preference please!!)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into strips
1oz or so of parmesan cheese 

Simply grate the cheddar and add to the bottom of your lined flan dish.  Add the cooked and chopped bacon.  Beat the eggs and add the milk (or milk and cream mixture), seasoning to taste.  Gently pour the egg and milk mixture onto the bacon and cheese and add a final grating of parmesan cheese. 

Cook at 180oC / 350oF / gas mark 4 for 35 to 40 minutes, until the quiche is golden and set.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Courgette, Bacon and Tomato Pasta Bake

This is really little more than a play on the bacon and tomato pasta bake I made earlier this year.  It’s not quite as frugal, but the cost of a courgette is never going to break the bank!   

Pasta bakes are always a bit of a faff if you are making them for immediate consumption. However, they are a really handy standby for making ahead of time, either for later in the day or the evening before you want them. 

For the sake of 15 minutes work of an evening, you have a really tasty dinner waiting for you when you come home from work the following day. Just pop it in the oven and go away until it’s ready!

For two people I used : 

3 thick rashers of bacon, cut into strips
1 courgette (zucchini) quartered lengthways and cut into small pieces similar in size to the penne
1 450g tin of tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
180g penne pasta
Freshly grated cheddar or parmesan cheese 

Dry-fry the bacon in a small frying pan until it starts to brown, season with a little black pepper and stir around.  Add the courgette pieces and then add the tinned tomatoes, stir and leave to simmer gently for 10 to 12 minutes. 

At the same time, cook the pasta according to packet directions, drain, return to the pan and add the sauce and combine the two together. 

Decant into an oven-proof dish and add a grating of parmesan cheese.  
Bake at 190oC / 375oF / Gas mark for 25 minutes, until the cheese and top pasta is browned.

This just needs a little bread to mop up the delicious tomato juices and a nice salad on the side.   

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Creamy Courgette Pasta with Sausage Meatballs

My husband absolutely loves sausages so I am always looking for different ways to cook them for him.  Pasta is one of my favourite meals, in any form, so sausages with pasta makes an appearance in our house frequently.  This is a very quick and simple meal to make for workdays, especially if you make and cook the meatballs the night before you want them. 


Sausage meatballs are an absolute doddle to make and well worth making in bulk to keep in the freezer for future use.   

To serve two people generously you want : 

1lb good quality sausages (or sausagemeat) 
½ pint chicken stock
1 courgette (zucchini)
Half of an 8oz (200g) pack of garlic and herb Philladelphia
6 to 8oz (180 to 200g) dry weight of penne/rigatoni.
Generous handful of rocket (arugula) 

To make the sausage meatballs simply skin the sausages and pinch each into about three pieces, rolling the pieces into balls as you go.  You could fry them on the hob, but I can’t bear frying so I pop them into the oven to cook.  They will only want 20 to 30 minutes in a hot oven – but keep an eye on them.  (If you don’t want to use all the meatballs (and I never do), pop the unused cooked ones into the freezer for another time.) 

Prepare the courgette by cutting it into pieces roughly the same size as the penne/rigatoni.  Cook the pasta according to packet directions.  While the pasta is cooking you can get on with the sauce. 

To make the creamy sauce simply simmer the courgette and cooked meatballs in the chicken stock, in a wide frying pan until the stock has reduced a little.  Add half a tub of garlic and herb cream cheese (low fat is just as good) and stir into the stock until it is smooth. 

Drain the pasta and add to the creamy meatballs and stir well to combine.  Add a handful of fresh rocket and stir again. 

If you are making this with meatballs that haven’t been frozen then it is well worth doubling up on the quantity and stashing the extra in the freezer to make a pasta bake on another evening.

To cut down on cost and time, it is worth making the sausage meatballs when you have the oven on for something else and stashing them in the freezer to use at a later date.  When you want to use them you simply need to defrost overnight. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Creamy Chicken & Courgette Pasta Bake

Yes, slimmers and creamy in one sentence, thanks to low-fat creamed cheese!  I whipped this up quickly to use up some leftover cooked chicken that I had hanging around.  I thought a courgette would be a nice addition and make a change from the standard mushrooms, ham or asparagus. 

As always with pasta bakes I would put this together well ahead of cooking time, and even plan ahead by cooking surplus pasta the day before. 

For two of us I used : 

6oz dry weight of penne pasta
6 oz leftover cooked chicken
1 medium courgette (zucchini)
½ pint of chicken stock
Half of an 8oz (200g) pack of garlic and herb Philladelphia creamed cheese 

Put the pasta on to boil and cook as per packet directions. 

Prepare the courgette (zucchini) by halving across the middle and cutting slices off the central core (which can be discarded).  Cut the slices into strips and chop into pieces approximately the same size as the penne. 

Cook the courgette (zucchini) in the chicken stock while the pasta is cooking, so that the stock reduces.  Add the creamed cheese and mix well, making sure that all the cheese is blended with the stock and there are no lumps. 

Drain the pasta and return to the pan, add the courgette and cream cheese mixture and leave to cool.  Once it is completely cold add the chicken to the pan and stir it in and then spoon the mixture into a baking dish.  Top with some grated cheese, a mixture of cheddar and parmesan is always nice. 

From cold, in one of these enamel dishes the pasta bake will want approximately 25 – 30 minutes (depending on the size of the dish) at 190oC / 375oF / Gas mark 5.  In a stoneware dish it will take a little longer.