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.

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Gluten free Chinese noodle soup

In a hurry, here’s a recipe for a hearty Chinese noodle soup which is very warming/satisfying and helps endure the sudden change in weather.   We have gone from warm low twenties one week to low teens the following week – I guess that’s English weather for you.  With the barbecue going into hibernation it’s time to get the creative juices flowing with some new recipes for soups, casseroles and stews starting with this one.  Hope you enjoy it as much as Anna and I did.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Handful brown rice soba noodles boiled with a pinch of salt and drained
  • 1 closed cup mushroom sliced
  • 1 chestnut mushroom sliced
  • 2 baby corn chopped
  • 4 mangetout
  • 1/4 carrot finely chopped
  • 1/4 celery stick finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of spring onion chopped
  • Small clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 gluten free chicken stock cube
  • 1 tbsp Shaohsing wine
  • 1 tsp Tamari soya sauce (gluten free)
  • 1 tsp Sriracha chilli sauce
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chilli oil
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • Handful chopped coriander to garnish
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

1 hearty serving

How do I make it?

Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic.  Stir for a minute before adding the carrot and celery.    Stir for another couple of minutes before adding remaining vegetables (except the spring onion and coriander).   Sprinkle the 5 spice powder and pour in 500 ml of boiling water.   Add the stock cube, sauces and seasoning and simmer over a low flame for 5 minutes.   Toss the spring onion in and switch off the heat.    Place cooked noodles in a large bowl and pour the soup over it.   Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and enjoy.

Stir fried prawns on a bed of brown rice soba noodles

For all you prawn and Chinese food lovers here’s a simple recipe for some delicious jumbo prawns with healthy brown rice soba noodles.  We had it for supper last night with some stir fried vegetables dressed with garlic, soya sauce and Shaohsing wine.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 20 prawns de-veined, washed and patted dry
  • 2 sprigs of spring onion chopped
  • 2 handfuls of brown rice soba noodle boiled and drained (keep in cold water to keep them separate)

For the marinade

  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp dark soya sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp spiced black rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp Shaohsing wine
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • Dash of salt

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

First mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the prawns and allow to marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge.  Heat the wok and stir fry the prawns till cooked through.   Garnish with spring onions and add the cooked noodles.  Give it a good toss and serve in bowl.

Garden fresh – mushrooms and celery

Not exactly the start I’d imagined for a Friday morning.  Our little girl Lola decided to wake up at 4:45 and wanted me to get her morning milk.  As I could not go back to sleep I decided to treat Anna and myself to a cooked breakfast before the school run.  Anna’s garden is in full bloom and the celery plants were ready to be picked.   Breakfast comprised of sauteed mushrooms and celery with scrambled eggs (spiced up with green chilies and spring onions).  The combination of mushrooms and celery is divine – if you love each individually you will love the taste of them combined.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 200 gm assorted mushrooms thickly sliced
  • Small bunch of celery chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

2-4 servings

How do I make it?

Heat the butter in a pan and saute the garlic for a minute.  Add the crushed red chili and saute for another 30 seconds before adding the mushroom and celery.  Saute for ten to fifteen minutes till done – adjust the seasoning and serve hot as an accompaniment with eggs or as a topping on toast.

Mushroom quiche

A bit of a tag team effort in the kitchen tonight as Anna and I experimented with cooking a quiche for the first time.  Anna had made some gluten free pastry dough and I made the filling.  Not bad for our first attempt – next on the list is asparagus as it’s in season now and an Italian inspired version with courgettes from our garden.

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What do I need to make it?

Pastry Dough

  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 20 gms dairy free margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp Xanthum gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Salt to taste

Filling

  • 200 gms mushroom of choice (we used Oyster mushrooms)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 sprigs of spring onion chopped
  • Small handful of chopped tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 25 gms butter (use olive oil instead)
  • 1 1/2 cups mature Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 soya cream
  • 1/2 cup soya milk
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 10 slices of spicy chorizo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

6-8 slices

How do I make it?

For the pastry dough start by sifting the flour and Xanthum gum (add baking soda and salt at this stage) and then use cold margarine to make a crumbly dough.  Add egg to the mixture and bind till you get a nice soft dough.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate.

To make the quiche crust – spread dough in greased pie dish and blind bake for 15 minutes in a 200 degree Celsius pre-heated oven.  Allow crust to cool and prick the base before baking for another ten minutes.  Once done remove and allow to cool for a few minutes.

For the filling – heat butter in a pan and add minced garlic.  Saute for a minute before adding crushed red chili flakes.  Saute for another minute before adding the chopped spring onions and chopped mushrooms.   Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.  Garnish with chopped tarragon and allow mixture to cool.

Beat eggs and add the milk and cream to it.  Season to taste.

Place a layer of chorizo on top of the crust followed by the mushroom mixture and grated cheese.  Pour in the egg mixture and top with remaining chorizo.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 to 35 minutes till you get a nice brown top and the egg has cooked through.   Bon appetit.

Mushroom soup

Fall in love with mushrooms again after you make this fresh batch of soup using an assorted range of mushrooms.  Normally I make soup with closed cup mushrooms but this time I went a bit bizerk in the supermarket aisle and picked up five different varieties.   The net result when combined with other soup staples produced a real flavourful bowl of soup.  It really doesn’t matter what type you use but key is to experiment with different varieties.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms closed cup mushrooms
  • 250 gms  forestiere mushrooms
  • 100 gms chestnut mushrooms
  • 100 gms wild mushrooms
  • 100 gms Anis mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 sprigs of spring onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 pods of garlic
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 150 ml soured cream
  • Handful chopped tarragon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Prepare all the vegetables by washing them and chopping them into equal size pieces.    Heat oil and butter in pan and saute garlic for a minute (just want to infuse the flavour into the oil).   Add onion, celery, spring onion, green pepper and chili next and stir for 5-8 minutes.   Then add chopped up mushrooms and reduce heat to medium.   Cook this for another 5-8 minutes and then add 2 stock cubes dissolved in 1 cup of warm water.   Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.   Blitz the soup in a blender and bring it back to boil – adjust the seasoning.   Add the soured cream and garnish with fresh chopped tarragon.

Wild rice pilaf

As Anna and I have reined back on our rice consumption we try and make our weekly treat as interesting as possible.  What started off as a trial in combining flavours together turned out to be a pretty tasty dish which we are sure to repeat in the future.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 1/2 cups of wild rice washed and soaked
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 spring onion chopped
  • 1 red chili chopped
  • 5-6 baby corn cut into bite size pieces
  • 5-6 mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • Handful basil leaves chopped
  • Handful coriander leaves chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 piece of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat ghee in a pan and then add bay leaves, cinnamon and star anise.   Saute for a minute before adding sliced onions, spring onions and red chili.  Saute for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Cook for five minutes and then add chopped herbs and washed/pre-soaked wild rice.   Stir for a couple of minutes before transferring to an electric cooker.  Add three cups of water, coconut milk powder and then adjust the seasoning.  Serve hot with raita of choice.