Chicken, gnocchi and sage soup

Chicken, gnocchi and sage soup

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I seem to be riding a total comfort food wave this January. I can’t help it when it’s cold outside I want a warm tummy filled with soup, or stew etc. With this soup there are 2 ways of making this – either you end up with a lot of leftover chicken, or you can use up a lot of leftover chicken. Its completely up to you. Its a great one for anyone who likes to cook economically (you’d be a fool not to really; everything tastes so much better).

Anyway to make this you will need:

For the slow cooked method to get leftover chicken

1 large chicken

2 large celery sticks

1 onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

Fresh ginger

Salt and pepper

1 carrot

1 pack freeze dried gnocchi

Cold water

Sage leaves

1 handful frozen peas

For the quicker method to use up cooked chicken

3 large handfuls cooked chicken

Approx 1l chicken stock

Ginger

1 carrot

1 celery stick

Salt and pepper

Fresh ginger

1 handful frozen peas

Sage leaves

1 pack freeze dried gnocchi

(Both recipes serve about 4 people)

If slow cooking your chicken; place the chicken in the slow cooker, to this add your (peeled and halved onion), 1 celery stick, the garlic, grate in the ginger and season with salt and pepper. Cover with cold water and cook on a low heat for 6-8 hours.

Once the chicken is cooked drain the juices into a large pan and allow the chicken to cool. Peel and thinly slice the carrot and thinly slice the celery and add this to the chicken stock soup base along with the peas. Heat your soup over a medium flame. Pull chicken (preferably the brown meat) from the chicken in small pieces and add to the soup (use about 3 large handfuls). Tear in the sage . Once the carrot and celery have softened reseason with salt and pepper and add the gnocchi. Once this is cooked serve.

Once the rest of the chicken is cold, pick this off the bones and keep for sandwiches, salads or curries.

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For the quicker method heat your stock over a medium heat. Grate in the ginger. Peel and slice the carrot and slice the celery. Add this to the stock along with the peas and chicken. Season with the salt, pepper and sage. When the vegetables are cooked add the gnocchi and serve once this floats on the surface of the liquid.

Very easy slow cooked beef curry

Very easy slow cooked beef curry

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This curry is hardly a recipe. It can be knocked together in less that 4 minutes on a busy morning. While it isn’t quite as delicious as the curry my father has made me and its not a patch on the ones made by my friends from work (who have their own favourite blends of spices); it does provide a healthy comforting meal after a busy day. It can be made by even the most inexperienced cook and its a good way of using up peppers that are past their best, or beef that’s nearly at its expiry date.

Anyway; to make this “throw together curry” you will need:

1 small onion, sliced

1 1/2 peppers or a large handful of frozen peppers

1 can chopped tomatoes or 1/2 jar of passata

400g diced beef

100ml chicken stock

1 heaped tablespoon curry paste of your choice (or any blend of spices you fancy)

Switch the slow cooker on low. Place all the ingredients into your slow cooker and give a gentle mix. Cover and leave to cook for 6-8 hours. For the last half hour (or while your rice is cooking) uncover to let the sauce thicken.

I serve mine with rice. If you’re not sure how to make rice (some people struggle to get it fluffy) I usually put my rice in a jug. Measure the volume of it and cover with 1 and 1/2 times as much cold water. Put the rice on a high heat. Once the rice is simmering, turn the heat right down, stir the rice and cover the pan. Allow to simmer for 11 minutes. After the 11 minutes remove from the heat and leave to stand still covered) for another 11 minutes until fluffy.

D was working from home while this cooked and said the smell of this was making him hungry all day (I think he is a fan of this recipe).

Pot roast lamb with rosemary

Sometimes when it comes to food simplicity is a wonderful thing. When you have beautiful ingredients you really don’t need to fuss. With this in mind this recipe for pot roast lamb is a dream for any meat lover. The flavours of the lamb, rosemary and garlic really come through and its so simple to make that even people who are less confident in the kitchen can produce this for hungry guest – I made this for Sunday dinner last week when my parents visited me and it went down a storm.

You can make pot roasts in a slow cooker or in the oven. You will need a good sized casserole dish that is oven safe. You can use other cuts of lamb in this recipe but make sure it’s one that is best cooked slowly for a long time. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as when the meat you have cooked falls off the bone.

To make your own pot roast you will need:

Lamb shoulder (make sure it fits in your casserole dish)

2 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Fresh rosemary

100ml stock

1 glass white wine

Sea salt

 

Roughly chop the garlic. Use a sharp knife to pierce holes in your lamb and put the pieces of garlic in the holes with small sprigs of rosemary. Rub the lamb with the sea salt and olive oil.

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Heat a large frying pan and place your lamb in it fatty side down with any remaining garlic (add oil if there isn’t a particularly fatty side). Turn your lamb to ensure that it’s more or less browned all over. Place in your casserole dish or slow cooker. Cover with the stock and white wine and cook for 6-8 hours with a lid on your slow cooker/casserole dish. If you’re using the oven you want the oven around 100°C; if using the slow cooker it should be on low.

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As usual with slowly cooked meat it doesn’t look at its best after this point.

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A few minutes before you plan on serving this remove your lamb from the pot and pull apart the meat to make it easier to serve. Cover with some of the liquid that you cooked the lamb in it, but not so that the lamb in swimming in it.

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I serve mine with roast Mediterranean vegetables, potatoes and homemade pitta but it also works well as a traditional British Sunday lunch.

I was certainly pretty popular with my parents and a certain somebody. I onlty wish I had taken a photo of all the food I made on the table.

Slow cooked pulled pork

From my previous post of slow cooked lamb stew you will know that I am a fan of cooking with a slow cooker. It’s a bit like having a 50s housewife with none of the commitment. You get to come home from work to a nice, home cooked meal but you don’t have to pay for her shoes! (The downside is there is nobody to clean your house for you either, a slow cooker can only do so much!).

Anyway, the people at Appliances Direct part of the Buy It Direct company very kindly offered to send me the small appliance of my choice as long as I reviewed it for them. I got very excited and chose a Crock Pot slow cooker as I have been looking for a bigger slow cooker for months. When browsing the site I was amazed at how good value everything seemed to be. I will definitely be ordering future kitchen appliances from them!

Here is a picture of me with the slow cooker. (They remind me of when you show off your presents for the camera on Christmas morning!)

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The very first thing I made in my lovely new slow cooker was some pulled pork. I wanted to make it before, but my old slow cooker was very small, too small for pork shoulder.

To make the pulled pork you will need:

1.2kg – 1.5kg pork shoulder

1/2 a bottle of barbeque sauce

250ml Coca Cola (not my beloved Diet Coke)

A good pinch of salt

Chilli Flakes

If you prefer brown the pork shoulder before cooking by lightly frying. I personally didn’t (I was running late as usual) and it came out fine. Place your pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Cover with the barbeque sauce, the Coca Cola and the salt and chilli flakes. Switch the slow cooker onto the low heat setting, cover and leave to cook for 6-8 hours.

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I got local, Yorkshire pork specially
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For a while my workmates used to joke that I had become obsessed with Diet Coke, oh how they’ll laugh that I’m cooking using the real thing
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Bye bye pork, it’s time for work!

  After cooking remove the pork from the sauce and gently remove the fat and pull apart the pork and place in a serving tray or bowl.

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You don’t need a sharp knife for this as the meat falls apart

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Keep back the sauce and reduce by cooking on a high heat until the sauce is more sticky and viscous. For all you Coca Cola haters out there – this sauce does not actually taste like Coke, it’s really sticky but savoury.

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Pour the sauce over the meat and serve. Pulled pork is particularly nice in a burrito but Miss S and I loved it just as much with guacamole and salad in a sandwich.

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We both managed to get covered in the sticky barbeque sauce. What a pair!