Italian flavoured casserole

Off all the casseroles we have pulled together over the last month, this has to be our favourite only to be matched by the Creole/Mexican flavoured dish we made earlier.  The weather continues to go from bad to worse and this Saturday was no exception – non stop rain from dawn to dusk coupled with a definite bite in the air.  We decided to make a hot comforting casserole for dinner and as promised earlier we were going to experiment with Italian flavours in our next casserole, so here’s the recipe for it.  Our next challenge given to us by one of Anna’s friends is to develop an Indian themed casserole – stay tuned…

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs (6-8 pieces)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 small shallot chopped
  • 1 medium leek sliced
  • 1 courgette cubed
  • Handful of green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 5-6 baby potatoes halved
  • 6-8 button mushrooms quartereded
  • 8 cloves of garlic – 3 chopped for marinade
  • 400 gm tin of cannelini beans drained
  • 400 gm tin of barlotti beans drained
  • 400 gm tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 tbsp oilve oil
  • Few sprigs of fresh basil and parsley chopped to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken thighs with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon of crushed red chilli flakes, 3 chopped garlic cloves, chopped shallot and salt – set aside for a few hours.   Heat your oven proof casserole dish and sear the chicken pieces on both sides and remove.   Add remaining olive oil, garlic and rosemary to the same dish and stir for 30 seconds before adding sliced onions and  leeks – stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Sprinkle 1 tsp Italian seasoning, l tsp crushed red chilli flakes and the stock cubes – add about 500 ml of water and stir.  Stir in the cannelini beans, borlotti beans and chopped tomatoes.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with lid and place the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour or till the chicken is cooked through.   Garnish with chopped fresh basil and parsley.

 

Chinese flavoured casserole

The weather is definitely turning for the worse as winter sets upon us and we think a casserole is a perfect dish on a cold and wet day as today.  So building on the success of our previous ethnic flavoured casserole experiments, this is our homage to Chinese cuisine.    We are happy with how it has turned our and are busy concocting our next casserole which is likely to be inspired by Italian flavours and ingredients – stay tuned…

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs (6-8 pieces)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 medium leek sliced
  • 1 stick of celery sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 ” piece o ginger peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 pak choi –  cut leaves in half
  • 6-8 button mushrooms halved
  • 4 baby corn cut into bite size pieces
  • 6-8 mangetout
  • 4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 tsp chilli oil (Chinese type with crushed red chilli)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp Shaohsin wine
  • 1 tbsp spiced black rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce (gluten free variety)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • Few sprigs of fresh coriander and spring onion chopped to garnish
  • Pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken thighs with the 2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice powder, black pepper, garlic salt and 2 tablespoons of Shaosing wine – set aside for a few hours.   Heat your oven proof casserole dish and add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil – sear the chicken pieces on both sides and remove.   Add the ginger and garlic to the same dish and stir for 30 seconds before adding sliced onions, leeks and celery – stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Sprinkle 2 tsp of Chinese 5 spice powder, soy sauce, spiced black rice vinegar, the remaining Shaohsin wine, chilli oil and the stock cubes – add a pint of water and stir.  Dissolve the cornflour in some water and add to the mixture.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with lid and place the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour or till the chicken is cooked through.   Garnish with fresh coriander and spring onion – serve on its own or with a bowl of egg fried rice.

Thai flavoured casserole

Having caught the casserole bug a couple of weeks ago we have been busy experimenting with different ethnic flavours (posted our take on Moroccan and Creole/Mexican casseroles in earlier blogs, links below).   Tonight we tried putting together Thai ingredients to create a casserole which was not as thick as previous attempts as there are no starchy ingredients but flavour and taste wise was delicious.   You need some standard Thai ingredients to ensure you maximize the flavour.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs (6-8 pieces)
  • 1 large white onion sliced
  • 1 red pepper cut into cubes
  • 1 yellow pepper cut into cubes
  • 2 green chillies roughly chopped
  • 5-6 garlic pods
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 6-8 button mushrooms halved
  • 5-6 baby corn cut into bite size pieces
  • Handful of green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 200  gms sliced bamboo shoots (small can drained)
  • 6-8 snow peas/mange tout
  • 1 stick of lemon grass bruised
  • 1 piece of galangal bruised
  • 1/2 tsp crush dried birds eye chilli
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 tsp Sriracha chilli paste
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Few sprigs of fresh coriander chopped to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken thighs with the Sriracha paste and a bit of salt – set aside for a few hours.   Heat your oven proof casserole dish and add 1 tbsp of coconut oil – sear the chicken pieces on both sides and remove.   Add another tablespoon of coconut oil and stir the crushed birds eye chilli for 30 seconds before adding green chilli, garlic, lemon grass, galangal and kafir lime leaves and stirring for another 30 seconds.  Add the onion and  peppers and stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables, stock cubes, coconut milk, chicken and about 200 ml of water.  Sprinkle a little salt and black pepper to taste and place the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour or till the chicken is cooked through.   Garnish with fresh coriander and serve on its own or with a bowl of Jasmine rice.

Gratinated Mexican rice

One of my favorite dishes growing up which mom would pull together for dinner parties was her rendition of Spanish rice.   Back in those days exotic ingredients were hard to come by and she made do with what was available.   I’ve had her recipe with me for 15 odd years and have never attempted to make it once but Saturday night was an opportunity to try it out.  We had invited some friends over for dinner and decided to go with a Mexican theme.   I have taken mom’s recipe as a base and made a few tweaks before rechristening it gratinated Mexican rice!   The dish was a hit with our guests and hope you enjoy making it.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked rice (long grain or even Basmati)
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper sliced thinly
  • 1 stick of celery sliced
  • 1 carrot chopped into tiny pieces
  • 4-5 baby corn chopped into bite size pieces
  • Handful of green beans trimmed and chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chipotle chili paste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

For the garnish

  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp pickled jalapenos
  • 2 sprigs of green onion chopped
  • 50 gms of mature cheddar cheese

How much will I make?

Serves 6

How do I make it?

First par boil the carrot, beans and baby corn.  Then heat a wok/kadai, add oil first before sauteing the garlic for a minute.   Add the sliced onions, green pepper and celery and cook till the onions start turning golden brown.   Add the chipotle paste, sprinkle cumin powder and chopped tomatoes and continue cooking till fat begins to leave the mixture.   Stir in the par boiled vegetables, adjust the seasoning and cook for another 5 minutes.   Switch off the heat and garnish with fresh chopped coriander.  Once the cooked rice has cooled stir in the masala and prepare the dish to be grilled.

Assembling the dish 

Transfer the mixed rice into a large rectangular oven proof dish.   Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the top.   Arrange the red pepper, tomato and jalapenos on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle the chopped spring onion and grill under a pre heated oven at 220 degrees Centigrade till the cheese melts, bubbles and turns golden brown.   Serve with a fresh tomato salsa or mango salsa as we did (1 large ripe mango cubed, 1 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped, juice of half a lime and salt/pepper to taste).

Moroccan inspired casserole

What better way to celebrate our 100th blog and Anna’s birthday than with a Moroccan inspired casserole and a sweet bottle of muscat wine.  It has taken us a good seven to eight months to get to this point and we have really enjoyed sharing our culinary exploits.   Thank you for all those that have taken the time to read through, like and follow our blog.   We would love to hear from you and do share any thoughts and comments on improving some of the dishes.  So please join me and raise a glass to toast our next 100 blogs and Anna’s next … birthdays 🙂

Anna has been wanting to cook a Moroccan flavoured dish for quite some time (she has a dish in mind which we will write about in the near future) but I decided to use this as an inspiration to cook her a wonderful casserole for her birthday.

PS.  For the culinary purists – we know parsnip is not a typical vegetable in Moroccan dishes.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds – toasted
  • 1 big onion sliced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 courgette cut in thick slices
  • 6 small potatoes halved
  • 1 large parsnip cut in chunks
  • 1 large carrot cut in chunks
  • 1/2 butter nut squash
  • 1 stick of celery roughly chopped
  • 1 large green pepper cut in big pieces
  • 400 gm canned chickpeas drained
  • 8-10 dried apricots
  • 4-6 green chillies
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 preserved lemons sliced
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of coriander chopped for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken with 1 teaspoon of harissa paste and the toasted cumin seeds and leave for a few hours.   Heat a oven proof casserole dish and brown the chicken pieces, remove and add the olive oil.   Saute the garlic and onion for a couple of minutes before adding the green pepper, celery and green chilli.  Cook for a few minutes before adding the remaining vegetables, chickpeas, ground cumin, harissa paste, apricots, preserved lemons, stock cubes, honey and around 500 ml of water.   Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the dish and cook in a pre-heated oven at 190 degree Centigrade for an hour till the chicken is cooked.   Garnish with some fresh chopped coriander and enjoy.

Gluten free penne with lamb meatballs

We tried making meatballs for the first time without the obligatory bread crumbs since going on our gluten free journey.  It turned out pretty good as we substituted the breadcrumbs with chestnut flour to act as the binding agent.   The meatballs maintained shape through the cooking process and tasted great.

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What do I need to make it?

Meatballs

  • 200 gms lean minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp crush red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp chestnut flour
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce

  • 400 gm tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 small green chillies chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2-3

How do I make it?

Place all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and knead together.   Roll the meat mixture into small balls (should get around 20) and refrigerate for an hour.   Heat a pan with some olive oil and brown the meatballs off before placing them in a 200 degree Centigrade pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or till the meat is done.

For the sauce, heat a pan, add the olive oil followed by the garlic and bay leaves.   Stir for 30 seconds before adding the onions and green chilli.   Sweat the onions for 5-8 minutes before adding the dry and fresh oregano.   Pour in the plum tomatoes (if whole crush or chop them first) with a cup of water and simmer over gentle heat for 20 minutes.   Add the sugar and adjust the seasoning.   Once the tomatoes have cooked through, add the meatballs and garnish the dish with fresh basil and parsley.   Pour over your favourite pasta and enjoy.

Creole/Mexican inspired casserole

Here’s a recipe for a scrumptious Creole/Mexican inspired casserole using one of our favourite cupboard essential spice – Scwartz Blackened Cajun seasoning.   Initially we were apprehensive with the heat intensity but were pleasantly surprised how mellowed the dish turned out.  We had it for lunch yesterday on its own but think the dish would work well with a bowl of rice.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 6 potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 8 mushrooms halved
  • 1 green pepper cut in large pieces
  • 1 stick of celery  chopped
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of frozen or canned corn
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans (pressure cook if not using tinned variety)
  • 1/2 cup black eyed peas (as above)
  • 8-10 baby onions peeled (we used a combination of baby white onions and small Indian red shallots)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp pickled green jalapenos
  • 3 tbsp pickled red jalapenos
  • 3 tbsp Schwartz Blackened Cajun seasoning
  • 2 gluten free chicken stock cubes
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli paste
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Big handful of fresh coriander chopped

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Wash and dry the chicken thigh fillets and marinade with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and Blackened Cajun seasoning.    Let the chicken marinade for as long as you can – we cooked it after an hour.  Heat a cast iron casserole and brown the chicken thighs.  Remove chicken and add remaining oil to saute the whole onions, celery, green pepper and garlic for a couple of minutes.   Add the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes before adding  the jalapenos and chipotle paste.    Give it a good stir before adding the stock cubes, 600 ml of water, the corn, kidney beans, black eyed peas, chicken thighs and half the chopped coriander.  Cover the casserole and cook in pre-heated oven at 190 degree for an hour.   Remove and check that most of the water has evaporated before garnishing with the remaining coriander.   Serve hot with a nice crusty bread of choice or a bowl of rice.

NB:  The Blackened Cajun seasoning has salt so you shouldn’t have to add any more – if you are using any other brand check the ingredient list.

Gluten free caserole

We had an amazing homemade casserole for dinner last night for the first time and are now inspired to create different ethnic variations for future dinner options.  The casserole used very few spices, tasted wonderful and was the ideal dinner for the onset of winter  (yesterday was the first of many cold rainy days ).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 6-8 potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 8 mushrooms halved
  • 1 stick of leek chopped
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 baby onions peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos chopped
  • 200 gms tinned butter beans drained
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns crushed coarsely
  • 2 gluten free chicken stock cubes (we use Kallo cubes – taste great)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped for garnish
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Wash and dry the chicken thigh fillets and marinade with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, dried mixed herbs and salt.    Let the chicken marinade for as long as you can – we cooked it after an hour.  Heat a cast iron casserole and brown the chicken thighs.  Remove chicken and add remaining oil to saute the whole onions and garlic for a couple of minutes.   Add the crushed red chilli flakes and leeks and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes before adding  remaining vegetables.    Give it a good stir and add the stock cubes, coarsely crushed black peppercorns and a dash of salt for taste.   Pour in 600 ml of water and add the butter beans and the chicken thighs.  over the casserole and cook in pre-heated oven at 190 degree for an hour.   Remove and check that most of the water has evaporated before garnishing with fresh chopped parsley.   Serve hot with a nice crusty bread of choice.

Aloo matar subji (Potato & peas in a spicy gravy)

Lunch today comprised of my take on an Indian classic, aloo matar subji with some gluten free rotis (recipe posted earlier with a couple of tweaks – added an egg and some caraway seeds this time).   There are a few vegetable combinations with potato that work really well and peas is one of them.   I picked up some fresh peas from the supermarket last week and did not want to see them go to waste and so I shelled them and kept them in the fridge with a view to using them today.  I can’t wait to make this again for Anna when she’s back – I think she will love it.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 4-5 medium potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup of fresh peas
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 3 green chillies
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1″ piece of ginger (skin off)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) optional
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves chopped for garnish
  • 3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • Salt to taste

 

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Par boil the potatoes and peas and keep aside.   Use a pestle and mortar to make a paste of the ginger, garlic, green chillies and black peppercorns.   Heat a heavy bottom pan and add ghee and cumin seeds with a pinch of asafoetida .  Stir for a minute before adding the paste – stir for another couple of minutes, add the chopped onions and cook for 5-8 minutes till the onions start to turn brown.   Add the turmeric, red chilli and coriander powder with a dash of salt.  Give it a good mix before adding the tomatoes.   Cook over medium heat till the fat leaves the masala.  Add the potatoes and peas with a cup of water.   Cover with a lid and cook on low flame for 10 minutes till the vegetables are cooked.   Add the amchoor and fenugreek at this stage  (if you can’t find amchoor then use juice of half a lime), adjust the seasoning and mix well.  Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with your favourite Indian bread or rice.

 

Gluten free – cauliflower and spinach cheese bake

We indulged ourselves a bit earlier in the week with a real cheesy cauliflower and spinach bake (used mom’s recipe for white sauce – one of the first things I learned to cook).  We used the Apache chillies from the garden in the dish and it helped spice it up a bit.  Feel free to reduce the amount of cheese you use.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into bite size florets (par boil with some salt)
  • 1 small bag of spinach (~150gms) par boiled with a bit of salt
  • 1 bunch of spring onions chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 6-8 green chillies chopped finely (de-seed if you want the sauce milder)
  • 3 tbsp gluten free flour mix (we use Dove’s Farm flour)
  • 100 gm medium grated cheddar cheese
  • 100 gm red Leceister grated cheese
  • 250 ml milk
  • 75 gm unsalted butter
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat a heavy bottom pan and melt butter before adding garlic, spring onion and green chillies.  Saute for 5-8 minutes before adding the gluten free flour.   Give it a good stir, add the milk and reduce the heat.   Bring the mixture to a boil before adding half of each cheese.   Continue to mix till you get a nice thick cheesy sauce.   If it is too thick add a bit more milk.   Add the remaining ingredients and mix well before transferring into an oven proof dish.   Sprinkle the remaining cheese and place under the grill in pre-heated oven at around 220 degrees Centigrade.   Remove the dish once the cheese has melted and begins to form a golden crust.  Enjoy and then make an appointment to go to the gym afterwards to work it off 🙂