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Midweek Meal: Hairy Biker Inspired Leftovers Tangle Pie

This fits in both the midweek meals and baking camps really, but definitely qualifies as a midweek meal as it took no longer than 30 minutes from fridge to plate!

I’m going to offer an ingredients list, but you could put anything you want in this pie. I used ONLY thing that I had hanging around and needed to use up. We’re quite bad at utilising leftovers at home, but with half a roast chicken left after Sunday, it would be an absolute crime to see that go to waste so I set about this ‘leftovers pie’. We’d made a chicken and ham tangle pie from the Hairy Dieters first cookbook so I used the vague memory of that as inspiration and used filo pastry instead of puff, but again this is down to choice.

tangle pie

Half a leftover roast chicken – bones stripped
4 rashers of streaky smoked bacon
2 leeks
A mug full of frozen petit pois
2 large spoonfuls of crème fraiche
1 chicken stock cube
Corn flour
Wholegrain mustard
1 glass white wine (plus 1 for drinking)
Ready rolled filo pastry (unless you are completely insane and want to make your own)
1 large garlic clove

And here is what I did: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cut the bacon into chunks and dry fry. Streaky bacon is so fatty you really don’t need any oil, it’ll be frying in its own fat in no time. When the bacon is nicely crisped, add in our already cooked chicken and toss it about in the pan with the bacon for a couple of minutes to add flavour. Remove all of this from the pan and lay in your oven proof pie dish.

Now in the bacony pan, crush one garlic clove and add chopped leeks. Add a little bit of butter and fry gently until the leeks soften. Layer over the meat in the pie dish with the addition of your frozen petit pois.

Again in your bacony, buttery, leeky pan, pour a glass of white wine and heat until it bubbles. Pour all of this into a small saucepan making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to get any remnants for extra flavour. Using a saucepan at this stage just make it easier to get the right consistency. Once your white wine is bubbling again in the pan, add a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and a couple of ladles of chicken stock. Some fresh thyme would also work well here if you have some to hand. Now melt in your 2 large spoonful’s of crème fraiche and bring the mixture to a simmer. You’ll need to add some kind of agent here to give your sauce the lovely creamy consistency you expect from a pie so option 1 would be to make a roux using butter and flour as a thickening agent, but on this occasion I used option 2 which is a dusting of cornflour. Sprinkle this in a whisk over a low heat until you get your desired thickness. You want it to cling to the back of a spoon but you don’t want your spoon to stand up! Add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.


Pour your sauce over the pie dish contents and cut long strips of filo pasty. Screw the strips up into rosettes and line up over the pie contents until it’s completely covered. You can give it an egg wash if you can be bothered or just brush some oil over the top. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy.

I served mine with green beans and root vegetable mash. Yum yum.


Weekend Warmer: Jerkaleekie Casserole

I adore barley. It has a yummy comforting stodginess that I always crave in these cold winter months. But it’s underrated and mostly used to simply bulk out soups. It’s not a particularly fashionable staple and I suppose it’s a kind of old fashioned poor man’s food. I remember having it in soups and stews at my grandparents’ house as child with big suety dumplings – heaven! Something people probably don’t associate with barley is how good it is for you – it can actually lower cholesterol and is a great source of fibre at the same time as giving you that glutinous pasta feeling – the perfect comfort food!

So here’s my chance to put barley on the map. I am sort of using it as a bulker in this recipe, but it’s going to steal the show on a newish twist to the ancient highland recipe of Cockaleekie soup. Instead of just using chicken stock, I’m going to change it up to a casserole with whole jerk chicken thighs. If you’re not a fan of really hot and spicy food, you could marinate your chicken in a milder spice mix or just some pepper and paprika, but for me, I love a bit of Dunn’s River jerk seasoning (careful though as it can pack a real punch!) I’d advise coating chicken thighs the night before in the seasoning so the flavours can really penetrate. I’ve suggested this as a weekend warmer as I for one wouldn’t have the time or the desire to carry out the preparation required for this as a mid-week meal but of course that’s up to you.


Take your seasoned chicken thighs (skin on is best but feel free to remove skin if you’d rather. You could also use thigh fillets if you’re not keen on bones, but they add even more flavour in a dish like this) and fry in a little oil in the bottom of a casserole dish. Once the chicken is browned nicely all over (doesn’t matter if it’s not cooked through yet) add chunky chopped leeks and carrots to soften slightly. Pour over a good quality chicken stock to just about cover the chicken, add your barley and cover. Best to follow the instructions on your barley packet – you’ll probably need to have soaked it before hand for a while, or at least rinsed it, but you can buy vacuum sealed packs of barley in the way that you can buy lentils and rice, that only need to be warmed though. Since we’ve put a Caribbean twist, serve with a little dollop of creamy mashed sweet potato but you don’t really need anything to accompany it as it’s a meal in itself.

Week 5: 2nd of February – Lancaster Lemon Tart

Delia describes this tart as a ‘first cousin’ to the Bakewell, and that is exactly what it is. It’s also a perfect opportunity for me to us some more of my homemade lemon curd!

As a child, I used to go camping every year to the Peak District. We’d spend the days gambolling up and down dales and wandering about picturesque villages. One of these villages was Buxton, famous for its beautiful spring water and I’d take a little bottle to fill and drink it straight from the ground. Another was Bakewell, renowned for its tarts and a childhood favourite of mine. I remember the day so clearly that we went to the bakery that supposedly made the first ever Bakewell tart; I waited with baited breath while my mum approached with a huge slab of some brown coloured thing on a plate. It didn’t look like Mr Kipling’s… I took a big bite and… OH THE DISAPPOINTMENT! I can almost feel it now. it was nothing like what I’d been used to having at my grandparents’ house, spilling with jam and covered in sweet fondant icing. This was simply an almond sponge in a pasty case. But as I’ve grown older and wiser I’ve actually come to prefer the traditional subtler Bakewell tart, but am still to make my own.

Let this Lancaster Lemon Tart be practise for when I finally pluck up the courage to take on the real deal.

Lemon Tart

Here is Delia’s recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/desserts/tart/lancaster-lemon-tart.html
This wasn’t in ‘Delia’s Cakes’ but I decided to throw it in as an adhoc bake as I had so much curd to use up before March and I don’t often make pastry based dishes so it would present a welcome change. I did make a last minute decision to buy ready-made pastry which I know is a bit of a cop out, but making my own and the resting and chilling required is for people who have more time than me!

This is such a delicious bake – we had a sneaky slice hot from the oven and another cold after dinner!

Midweek Meal: Robbo’s Superdooper Quick (and healthy) Pasta ‘Bake’

Pasta bakes are an ultimate comfort food – they’re hot, stodgy and cheesy. What more could you ask for? But as a midweek meal they can be a hassle to compile and take a while to cook and when you don’t get home from work until 8pm that last thing you want to do is have to preheat an oven and then spend another half an hour waiting for your dinner to actually cook. By the time you’ve cooked and eaten it’s time to brush your teeth and get in bed! So this is a recipe that Rob often cooks for us when we’re both in late and in need of some cheesy pastery goodness. You’ll wonder why I’ve put the word ‘bake’ in inverted commas and that’s because the reason this recipe can be done so speedily is that it isn’t actually baked, but you get a similar result.

You’ll need:

Your favourite pasta shapes – you can use dried or fresh but probably wiser not to choose spaghetti, linguine etc
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
1 jar of your favourite store bought pasta sauce – we use Lloyd Grossman’s tomato and chilli (it’s not cheating if you’re in a hurry!)
Bag of washed fresh spinach leaves
1 long Romano pepper, chopped – you can use normal red peppers if you like but these are tastier
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Small punnet cherry tomatoes, halved or whole
Salt and pepper to taste

Get your salted water boiling and put in your pasta – for best results use a bronze penne and cook to al dente. (If you’re using fresh pasta you obviously need to be very careful not to overcook, so probably best to leave this step until after your sauce is prepared). Unlike with other pasta bakes, you do need to cook the pasta completely as this dish is super quick and it won’t be sitting in the oven to absorb more moisture.

In another pan, heat your sauce with the chopped pepper, tomatoes and garlic. You can add the cherry tomatoes whole or halved, whichever you prefer – personally I prefer them hard and then cooked just until they pop. When this has all softened slightly, gradually add in handfuls of spinach – you can use as much or as little as you like, there are no rules as long as you have a dish big enough to contain it all!

Once you pasta is cooked, drain it and start heating your grill. You’ll now need to transfer the pasta and sauce to an oven/grill proof dish like you would with a normal pasta bake. Slice your mozzarella ball and lie the pieces evenly over the surface and top with a pinch of sea salt flakes and a grinding of black pepper.

Now simply pop until the grill until the mozzarella bubbles. Done. How easy was that eh? It couldn’t have taken any more than 20 minutes front to back and now you’ve got an extra half an hour to unwind before bed you lucky sausage!

A really nice addition to this would be some crispy fried pancetta or some chorizo coins if you’re going for a slightly less diet friendly option. Sometimes when concocting pasta dishes at home we tend to use less pasta and bulk out the dish with some grated courgette for an extra healthy option. This is great reheated for lunch the next day too!

Midweek Meal: Pork Stroganoff with Three Mustards

Over the Christmas period I was staying a my boyfriend’s Mum’s house (Mummo) down in Brighton. After 3 days of solidly eating nothing but turkey we all needed a bit of a rest, so one evening she cooked us up a really quite and easy Stroganoff. I always though stroganoffs were something you had to leave to cook slowly and would therefore only be a weekend option, but I was wrong. Last week I found this excellent Delia recipe online that we tried on Sunday evening and it was ready in 20minutes so it definitely qualifies as a midweek meal as well as a winter warmer!

The recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/pork-stroganoff-with-three-mustards.html

Now I know 3 mustards sounds excessive, but it is imperative in my opinion that you use them all. We get through mustard like it’s going out of fashion n my house so we always have a big stock of it in the fridge and some standby jars in the cupboard, but if you don’t keep a full stock of mustard at home, I urge you to buy all three if you want to try this dish out. You will not regret it.

We used pork loin medallions cut into thin strips – it was 300g as opposed to the 350g that Delia suggests but this was more than enough, and we bulked it out with some extra mushrooms. Here you’ll see in this ‘big man portion’ we accompanied it with garlic and rosemary roasted baby new potatoes (super simple to do – I’ll add a mini recipe below) and a rocket salad, but I imagine it would go equally well with mash, rice or even a jacket if you wanted to whip this up super quick midweek.

strogIf you want to try with our potatoes (best for the weekend as they can take about an hour) buy a bag of salad potatoes – any kind will do. I like the tinier the better as you get more crispy skin but an Anya (the little knobbly ones) work really well too cut into rounds. Cut them into halves and boil for 15mins or so in well salted water. In the meantime, heat a roasting tray with about 2 tablespoons of sun/olive oil in a hot oven (about 200degrees). Drain your potatoes and drop carefully into the hot oil, throw in a few crushed whole garlic cloves in their skins and a handful of freshly picked rosemary. Crunch sea salt flakes all over and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper and toss it all together before returning to the oven. You can leave them in for as long as you like – I find that about 25 minutes is best to give them a lovely crispy outside.

Homemade Lemon Curd

Lemon is without a doubt my favourite flavour when it comes to dessert. I can’t get enough of lemon meringue, lemon tart, lemon sorbet. Lemon lemon LEMON! There are plenty of cake’s that call for lemon curd in them and there’s nothing like a slice of madeira cake with a blob of lemon curd on top. As I have madeira cake scheduled for some time this week, I thought I’d better have a crack at lemon curd in preparation. My mum is a massive fan of the stuff so I cooked up a big batch to package and distribute among my friends and family for taste testing…

I went to good old Robert Dyas for nice little square 200ml jam jars (£1.25 each) which are just the right size. They also sell jam jar packing and labelling kits which contain 24 waxed discs, plastic shrink wrap, elastic bands and sticky labels.

An essential piece of kit for making this, unless you want to make a right mess, is a small funnel for filling your jars. You’ll also need to sterilise your jars first too and if you don’t know how to do that you can scroll to the bottom of this post for the easiest way.

The lemon curd recipe I used was of course from Delia: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/lemon/lemon-curd.html

This recipe is so short and easy, and makes about a litre which is just the right amount to fill 5 of my little Robert Dyas jars. My recommendation for anyone using this recipe is to zest and juice your lemons ahead of time and leave in a bowl ready to use. this took a fair while and you don’t want to get anything on the hob until you have it all ready to mix in.


*TOP TIP* Although this is a Delia recipe, this is actually a Mary Berry tip. Once you have zested your lemons, cut them in half and put them into a bowl and into the microwave 2 at a time on full power for about 30 seconds. When you then go to juice them you’ll find it so much easier. The juice will run out easily without applying much pressure at all and you’ll get much more juice than you usually would by juicing without heating first.

So I juiced and zested my lemons into a bowl to start off with, weighed out my sugar, cracked my eggs into the saucepan, and chopped my butter before combining anything. Another thing to take heed of is that you should NOT fire up your hob until you have everything in the saucepan together. Whisk you eggs in a cold pan, off the hob. Scrambled eggs do not a good lemon curd make! This is also a very good reason to keep it on a very gentle heat all the way. You’d have a job on your hand scrambling eggs with that much butter sugar and lemon mixed in but you never know… The mixture will take a while to start to thicken (remember to use your cornflour at the first stage of combining the ingredients) and do not panic and add more cornflour or turn up the heat! At the very moment when you feel as though you’re never going to get the lovely viscous consistency of your dreams, it comes together and you’re ready to turn down the heat and simmer.

When you are transferring to your sterilised jars, make sure you do it real quick! With each pour the curb will continue to thicken in the hot pan, so what I did what transfer it in 2 batches to a measuring jug first but my last batch still ended up being a little thick and gloopy (perfect for sipped Scottish shortbread in though).

*WARNING* This lemon curd is so good you’ll want to eat it with a spoon.

How to sterilise jam jars – the easiest way I’ve found is the put them all in a large casserole dish with a lid (without their lids on and you can do this in batches) and pour water around them (not into them) so they’re about an inch deep. Now put on the lid and bring to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes. You might hear them clank around a little bit but don’t panic. The boiling hot steam should be sufficient in sterilising your jars – but remember THEY ARE NOW VERY HOT. You can buy jar tong for lifting them when they’re hot but I just used a pair of Oxo Goodgrips kitchen tongs and they did the trick just fine.

Week 2: 9th of January – Apricot Crumble Muffins

Not often am I disappointed with something that I bake – if I follow a recipe to the letter it normally turns out as it’s meant to. The only time I remember baking something and being really upset is when I tried to make Peyton and Byrnes Black Forest Gateau for Rob’s birthday last July. It was a complete disaster – the sponge was dense and tasted burnt, the cream was too rigid and the cherries too runny and wet. We did laugh about though as it looked like an absolute masterpiece… but tasted like a dogs dinner.

Yesterday morning marked the arrival of my first piece of Delia Online Silverwood baking apparatus – a 6 hole anodised muffin tray. I don’t really see how any muffin try can be better than the rest but in Delia I trust so I purchased her very own branded one (wasn’t cheap either! Swiss roll tin in the post too… might need to start selling my cakes to afford the loaf and sandwich tins). I don’t think people realise how important it is to have the correct sized tins for bigger cakes – if your loaf tin is too broad and not deep enough (as I’ll admit mine is a little) your cake will cooker quicker than the recipe states and you might end up with something too dry and crumbly so it really is best to buy the suggested tins for the book your using.

So Delia’s Apricot Crumble Muffins sounded just lovely – apricots and pecans are two ingredients I love. I followed this recipe to the gram and the minute, I used Delia’s very own tin, and still I ended up with something that looks too unappealing to photograph! They just look like big brown blobs that had splayed out over the edge of their tin rings and their little cases. They do taste good on the other hand and I had one this morning as a cheeky cakey breakfast with a big cup of Yorkshire gold, but why oh why do mine bot look like Delia’s? 

If anyone has tried this recipe before and has any pointers / feedback to offer please let me know. Alternatively you can try and bake them using this recipe and let me know how they turn out!

The muffins: 150g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 dessert spoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 large egg, 40g dark brown soft sugar, 120ml milk, 50g butter melted and cooled, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 150g chopped apricots, 50g chopped pecans.

The topping: 75g soft dark brown sugar, 40g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 40g melted butter, 25g chopped pecans.

Mix together all the crumble topping ingredients and leave aside.

Whisk together the egg, sugar, milk butter and vanilla. Before you add all the rest of the ingredients, double sift them to add as much air as possible. Then sift them in and fold in really quickly with the fruit and nuts so you don’t lose the air. Divide mixture between cases and bake for 25mins at 200 degrees.

Please let me know how it goes if you try it out!!!