cooking on the cut
with Lisa Munday
As we welcome the arrival of March, the cool air will soon give way to warm Spring sunshine and longer days. Most of us are bored of those starchy winter vegetables and stove top casseroles and are craving more greens, lighter meals and outdoor cooking. We have been using our Cobb and cooking over the coals over the last few weeks as the nights are drawing out, we’ll often skip breakfast and have brunch, then light the Cobb about 4 pm, so I’m sharing a few of my recipes with you to bring on that Spring feeling. We still need those hearty wholesome comfort foods so I’ve got a few of those favourites to share with you too.
We are lucky to have plenty of wild garlic growing near our Chesterfield Canal, so I’m using this as often as I can as it’s so versatile and I absolutely love it! Lots more Spring greens are appearing in the hedgerows and will be landing in the galley over the next few weeks, dandelion leaves, nettles and hawthorn buds to name but a few!
Stocking up on my store cupboard basics for the longer cruising season, I am reminded of the many ways with dried and tinned beans, pulses and grains, tinned fish, jarred chargrilled peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. Dried fruits and preserved lemons and garlic are also useful to have in for adding to many recipes. Another essential one for me is tinned spinach as it’s particularly useful for curries, egg dishes and pasta when short of fresh greens.
I don’t use a vast array of instant sauces, gravies and stock cubes etc, just my go to Vegetable Bouillon Stock, I favour the Swiss brand, this is so convenient as it contains all the stock ingredients required for the base for so many recipes, just one teaspoon into boiling water for veg, pastas, grains and casseroles makes all the difference. The humble cabbage is taken to another level using this! It’s great used with couscous and pearl barley which can be quite bland. I very rarely throw veg trimmings and cooking water away, it all goes into soup.
Tinned Salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel can all be used in many ways and as the page develops with CanalsOnline Magazine there will be whole sections dedicated to individual categories.
Easter is not far away, so I have a few Easter bakes to share and some tasty Lamb and Chicken dishes. So, in no particular order here are my choices for this edition’s recipes to share with you.
TRAYBAKED TERIYAKI MACKEREL WITH GREENS
Tenderstem broccoli, sugar snap peas and leeks (or whatever greens you prefer, about 200g)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
180g fresh mackerel fillets (available in most larger supermarkets for approx. £2)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
2cm piece root ginger finely sliced (or ½ tsp ground ginger)
1 garlic clove finely sliced
- Toss the vegetables with the oil and most of the seeds and spread out on a roasting tin.
- Dry the skin of the mackerel using kitchen roll, cut a few slashes through the skin and place over the veg, skin-side up.
- Sprinkle with the rest of the sesame seeds and roast in a hot oven for about 7 mins.
- Meanwhile, combine the soy, vinegar, sugar, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the
mackerel and veg and return to the oven for 3 minutes. Serve with brown rice.
PEARL BARLEY AND TRAY ROASTED VEGETABLES
Another basic store cupboard ingredient to add to your stews, soups and salads. Remember to always thoroughly rinse all your grains and pulses through a sieve with plenty of cold water before cooking. Check the packaging for instructions but the general rule of thumb is 1 cup to 2 cups water for cooking.
- Chop a selection of vegetables such as onion, sweet potato, courgette and pepper.
- Toss in oil, plenty of black pepper, salt and ½ tsp smoked paprika and roast for about 25 mins.
- Meanwhile boil your rinsed pearl barley in water and drain and rinse when cooked, rinsing stops it sticking together.
- Toss with the roasted veggies to serve.
Chicken and lemon are a perfect combination and this dish uses the base known as “soffritto” in many Italian dishes.
For the soffritto, finely chop 1 small or ½ large onion, 1 carrot and 1 stick celery. Fry in a casserole dish with a generous tbsp olive oil, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 sprigs (or dried) rosemary and 2 bay leaves.
- Coat four chicken thigh pieces in well-seasoned plain flour, tip off excess and fry in a separate pan with a generous amount of olive oil, about 5 mins each side until golden brown.
- Transfer without the cooking oil to the casserole dish containing the veg, add the zest and juice of one lemon and drizzle over the chicken, stir to combine and add about 50/75ml white wine.
- Let it bubble for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol and then add about 250/300 ml water to cover and bring to the boil.
- Place the casserole lid over and cook slowly in the oven or over the stove for about 45 mins to 1 hour, until the chicken is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and skim off any excess oil.
- Add extra salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with potatoes and greens. Parmesan or wholegrain mustard mash are perfect.
SPRING LAMB MARINADE (ideal for 4 chops)
Combine 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 3 tbsp finely chopped rosemary, 1 finely chopped small onion, salt and black pepper.
Marinade for at least an hour before cooking over the barbeque or in the oven.
SPICED LAMB Swap the rosemary for chilli flakes and ground cumin
WILD GARLIC SALSA VERDE
This is the perfect accompaniment to Lamb or simply stirred through pasta.
- Blanch a good handful of wild garlic leaves in a pan of boiling water, drain and squeeze out the excess water.
- Blitz together with 1 peeled shallot, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, grated zest and juice of 1 lime, approx. 120 ml olive oil, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp mint sauce, 1 tsp sugar, season with salt and pepper to taste.
This is ideal for slow cooked belly pork or chops.
TIP – Rub the meat with sea salt first, this acts as a dry brine.
- Toast ½ tsp each of peppercorns, fennel and cumin seeds in a dry hot pan for about 30 secs being careful not to burn the spices.
- Then grind them in pestle and mortar with 1 dried bay leaf and mix in 1 heaped tsp paprika and a generous tbsp of brown sugar.
- Rub the mixture into the meat and marinade for at least an hour before cooking slowly over the barbeque or in the oven.
- This recipe can be pre-cooked in a low oven then refrigerated and cooked over the hot coals the next day.
DEVILLED CHICKEN WINGS
These are quick and easy, better after marinating in a sealed plastic bag for a few hours, and so good cooked over the coals
800g chicken wings
2 garlic cloves crushed
60ml olive oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
45g brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
- Snip the ends of the wings, then cut from the skin between the joint to give two pieces.
- Mix all the other ingredients together and combine with the wings to marinade before slowly cooking to ensure they are cooked through to the bone.
- Can be cooked in the oven, well-spaced apart on a large baking tray.
ONE POT TOMATO AND SPINACH KITCHARI
This is a heart- warming one pot meal with a spice kick.
130g basmati rice, rinsed
200g slit red lentils, rinsed well under cold running water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 thumb sized piece of ginger finely grated
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 tsp each turmeric, ground coriander, cumin seeds
1 -2 tsp chilli powder
Approx. 1.2 litres veg bouillon stock
150g cherry tomatoes, or whole tomatoes taken from a tin without the juice
200g spinach, I used a combination of tinned (well drained of juices) and freshly chopped wild garlic
1 finely chopped red chilli, or 1 tsp chilli flakes if you don’t have fresh
- Heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large saucepan or casserole and add the onion and a pinch of salt, fry over a medium heat until golden.
- Stir through the ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander seeds, half the cumin seeds and chilli powder, fry for 1 min.
- Add the rice and lentils to the pan and pour in the stock. Bring to simmer then cover, turn down the heat and cook for approx. 25 mins, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have turned creamy.
- Add the tomatoes and spinach and cook for a further 5 mins.
- Heat the remaining oil in a small pan and fry the remaining cumin seeds for 1 min.
Spoon into bowls and top with the cumin and oil and the red chilli.
Serve with warm chapatis and yoghurt or just eat on its own.
This is delicious tossed through noodles or stir fried vegetables as a vegetarian dish, or with stir fried chicken. It will keep for a few days in the fridge. It also makes a tasty crunchy salad with grated cabbage, carrots and onions etc.
- Whisk together 100 ml shop bought sweet chilli sauce with 90g peanut butter and 3 – 4 tbsp water.
- Add 1 tbsp (thumb sized piece) grated fresh ginger, juice of 1 lemon, 25g caster sugar and 4 tbsp soy sauce.
- If you prefer extra heat add 2 chopped red chillies or dried chilli flakes.
- Add a little more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
Once your stir fry or noodles are cooked, stir through, allow to warm through and serve.
MINI EGGS CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
200g good quality dark chocolate
200g unsalted butter
4 medium eggs
275g light brown soft sugar or caster sugar
100g plain flour
50g coco powder
150g chocolate chips
250g mini eggs
- Preheat the oven to 180/160 fan and line a 9” square baking tin (or similar) with baking paper
- Melt together the butter and chocolate over a pan of simmering water and allow to cool slightly.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar until much paler and increased in volume.
- Pour the chocolate butter mix into the whisked eggs and sugar mixture and carefully fold through.
- Add the flour and coco powder, again gently folding through.
- Finally fold through the chocolate chips and most of the mini eggs.
- Pour the brownie mixture into the lined tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 mins. There should still be a very slight wobble in the middle of the tin when removed from the oven.
- Leave to cool thoroughly before removing from the tin.
- Finish with a little extra melted chocolate and sprinkle with the remaining mini eggs broken into small pieces.
Forget the calories, this is simply delicious!
LEMON SHORTBREAD BISCUITS
300g plain flour
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
- Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix well with a spatula.
- Work the crumbly mix together into a firm ball with your hands being careful not to overwork the dough.
- Roll out onto a floured surface to about ½ to 1cm thick and cut into biscuit shapes, place onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 180/160 fan for about 15 to 20 mins until barely golden brown, taking care not to over bake.
- As soon as you lift them out of the oven gently press a mini egg into the top, or when cooled drizzle with melted dark chocolate or make lemon icing by mixing lemon juice with icing sugar to a dropping consistency.