Why “Valentine” ? This recipe was inspired by one that Valentine Warner did on “What to eat now” – a seasonal ingredient cooking programme that I particularly enjoyed. Courgettes are one of those veg that go a tad prolific in season – you pick a load for dinner and by morning you could be having the next lot for breakfast. This version of the recipe is quick & easy – great for a veg side dish, a salad for summer buffet, and combines quickly with other veggie dishes too.
Welsh Cheese Scones
What makes these Welsh Cheese Scones? Well, they taste pretty good after a walk in the Welsh mountains, and they also taste particularly gorgeous when made with the fabulous and deeply cheesey Snowdonia Cheddar – widely available in Deli stores, grocers, butchers and some supermarkets. The Parmesan which adds extra cheesey notes is of course not so very Welsh, but hey… a little poetic license.
Cheese Scones (makes 8 scones)
250g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
100g grated strong cheddar like Snowdonia Cheddar (aka “Black Bomber”)
75g grated Parmesan
200ml whole milk
A little beaten egg to glaze
Pre-heat the oven to 220C – or check that your Aga is still there. Sprinkle a little flour on a baking tray or line with baking paper. I like the reusable non-stick liners, which you can wash and use again – brilliant.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cheddar and half the parmesan into a large bowl.
Add the milk and mix with spoon or hands – it will be sticky. That is right. Panic not.
Tip the sticky dough no to a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a few minutes until it feels soft and has quit sticking to everything.
Flatten or lightly roll the dough to quite a thick layer – about 1 inch thick.
Grab a cutter (or a drinking glass), dip in some flour to stop it getting attached to your dough, and start cutting out your scones. You’re after 8 scones: I get about 5 from the first cutting then re-shape the dough and get another two. The last one is squidged together by hand from whatever dough you have left.
Put the rounds on a lightly floured baking tray, or on a sheet of baking paper. Brush the tops with egg, sprinkle over the rest of the parmesan and a bit of cheddar.
Bake for about 15 minutes until the scones have risen, gone golden & are filling your kitchen with warm cheesey scone aroma.
Most DEFINITELY best served warm, with a bit of butter.
Ginger & honey salmon with rice and veg
Simple rich flavours, quick to cook… this is my version of fast food. Fresh ginger and garlic are part of my regular store cupboard – they keep well and have so many uses! So the only shopping needed for this dish is to pick up some nice fresh salmon and some kind of stir fry veg like Pak Choi. Then – bish bash bosh … proper food 🙂
Ingredients (per person)
1 salmon fillet, skin on
Half a mug of Basmati rice
1 pak choi (or bunch of spinach, chard or similar)
Small piece of fresh root ginger (about 1cm chunk)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
First off, make your little saucey marinade thing:
Peel and finely chop the ginger. Crush the garlic. Mix together all the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and leave it to sit whilst you prepare the rest.
Put your rice on to cook… use twice as much volume of water as rice. Add a sprinkle of salt, bring it to the boil, give it a quick stir. Put the lid on and turn down to lowest possible heat. Watch out for it boiling over – if it tends to do that even on the lowest heat, just leave the lid a little tilted to let steam out.
Check your packet for cooking instructions – ours cooks in about 12 minutes. After that, turn the heat off and leave it to sit whilst you cook the fish and veg.
To cook the salmon: put a drizzle of olive oil in a frying, put it on quite a high heat to warm up, then add your salmon skin side down. The heat should be high enough for the salmon to be sizzling but not spitting oil everywhere. I use a simple “all four sides” cooking method for salmon: Cook for 3 minutes on the skin side, then knock it on to its side and cook just for a 20 seconds or so on that side.
Meanwhile, start gently warming your sauce – it just needs to heat through for 3 minutes or so.
Back to the salmon: Turn it again so that the skin side is now facing up, and cook for 3 minutes. On the remaining uncooked side, you should be able to see the colour changing, with an small area of pink still in the middle. Finally flip it on to this last side and cook for 20 seconds.
Place the salmon on a warm plate with a serving of rice and pour over your honey and ginger sauce. Keep warm.
Finally, add chopped pak choi to your frying pan and stir fry for about 60 seconds until just starting to wilt.
Simple Lamb Hotpot
This is a great dinner to make if you’re cooking for people that don’t like herbs, onions and spices. This version really is just meat, potatoes and a few vegetables in gravy. It is also nice simple cooking for you … there’s only 6 main ingredients, and it mostly cooks itself. Can’t ask fairer than that!
Lamb Hotpot (Serves 3-4)
700g diced stewing lamb
4 sticks celery
1 kg potatoes – preferably something like Desiree potatoes
3 oxo cubes
4 tsp cornflour
A drizzle of olive oil or other vegetable oil
First turn your oven on to 140C
Put a drizzle of oil into a casserole dish and heat briefly. Add the diced lamb and stir till the lamb pieces are brown all over.
If you’re good at multi-tasking, prepare the vegetables whilst the lamb is browning (otherwise prep the veg first!)
Peel and chop the carrots into 1cm chunks. Wash the celery and chop into 1-2cm chunks. Wash the potatoes and slice into half centimetre slices. I leave the skins on – lovely texture and taste and helps them hold their shape whilst cooking. Choosing a waxy potato like a Desiree is a good move as they don’t crumble up. But if you’re not fussed on presentation, any potato will do ok 😀
Once the meat is browned, add the celery and carrots and continue stirring occasionally on low heat.
Crumble the oxo cubes over the top, and add 700ml of boiling water. Stir till the granules have dissolved.
In a mug, mix 4 teaspoons of cornflour with a little water till you get a smooth paste, add a little splash more water so it is easy to pour. The mug should still be only about a quarter full.
Pour the cornflour into the hotpot, stirring. Bring the hotpot back up to the boil and you should see the gravy all nice and thick.
Once it’s simmering, arrange the slices of potatoes all over the top, drizzle them with a little more oil and sprinkle over about a teaspoon of salt.
Put the lid on your casserole dish and put it in the oven at 140C for about 2 hours. Take the lid off and cook for a further half hour or so to get a bit of browning on the potatoes.
Serve with a nice green veg like kale, broccoli, spring greens, spinach or chard.