Life is uncertain. Eat Dessert first.

Main course

Salmon Hot Pot

A great one-pot dish, according to the authors this is one of the few dishes to appear in The Wagamama Cookbook that doesn’t feature on the restaurant menu. Wagamama has tried to redefine what it means to serve “fast food”, so it makes sense that this dish, that takes 30 minutes to cook, is better suited to being prepared at home. This has one of the lengthiest cooking times of any meal in The Wagamama Cookbook, but as with most of the recipes the actual prep time isn’t too time-consuming. It’s a really good book if you’re looking for lots of delicious, Japanese-inspired, low-fat dishes.

INGREDIENTS

400g (14oz) salmon

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 leek, trimmed and finely choppped

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 stick celery, peeled of any strings and finely diced

1 teaspoon sugar

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

salt and white pepper

75ml (3fl oz) light soy sauce

300g (10 1/2 oz) cooked rice

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Remove and skin and bones from the salmon and cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a flame-proof casserole dish and when it is hot add the leek, shallot, carrot and celery and saute gently for 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and garlic, cook for a further minute and then add the fish and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the soy sauce, add 4 tablespoons water, cover and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Divide the rice between 2 bowls and ladle over the salmon hot pot.

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Gratin of Mediterranean Vegetables

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then,
Poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.

And if he has any sense he’ll make himself up a big batch of this winter-warmer. As the weather starts to take a turn for the worse, this is a great dish to throw together when you’ve just arrived home, wet and cold, from work. You can experiment with the filling too, using whatever you might have in the fridge to save yourself going back out to the shops in the cold! The quantities below serve 2-3.

Preheat the oven to 200degC. Cut an aubergine into 1cm slices, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain for 15-20 minutes. Rinse to remove the excess salt and pat dry with kitchen paper. Peel a couple of tomatoes and cut into thick slices. Slice a courgette at an angle in 1cm slices.

Drizzle a baking dish with a few spoons of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle in some chopped spring onion and some chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme or marjoram are all lovely in this dish), arrange the aubergine slices alternately with the tomatoes and courgette. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little more oil and sprinkle over some more herbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the crumb topping: melt a knob of butter in a pan and stir in about 50g of soft white breadcrumbs. Remove from the heat immediately and allow to cool. When the vegetables are cooked, mixed some grated parmesan in with the buttered crumbs, sprinkle over the top of the vegetables, and brown under the grill before serving.


Sausages with Celeriac Puree and Braised Shallots

This is a slightly upmarket version of the traditional supper of bangers and mash. Try to source really good sausages for this dish – Hugo Arnold recommends using Toulouse sausages, who’s casing is made from caul fat. A staple part of the Irish diet, there is an almost innumerable amount of different regional variations and specialities of sausages. The greatest variety can be found in Germany, home to over 1,000 different types of sausages!

Peel a head of celeriac and roughly chop into equal sized chunks. Place in a saucepan of boiling, salted water along with an onion studded with 4 cloves. Cook until tender, drain, remove the cloves from the onion and liquidize the onion and the celeriac. Beat in 4 tblsp of olive oil and enough milk to form the desired consistency. Set aside and keep warm.

Fry 8 sausages in a little oil until cooked through and keep warm.

Put 450g peeled shallots in the same pan, coat throughly in oil, cover with tin foil, lower the heat and cook until tender, about five minutes. Remove and keep warm.

Drain any excess oil from the pan, add 300ml cider and reduce, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan until the liquid becomes a syrup.

Serve the sausages with the celeriac and the shallots, and pour over the cider gravy.


Beyond the Bottle – Goan Coconut Gobi

This recipe is a really economic way to use up leftovers from three staples of a baby’s diet – cauliflower, broccoli and green beans. Good work Mrs Feast who found the recipe and cooked a delicious dinner! Most of the other ingredients are store-cupboard supplies, so you shouldn’t have to buy too much to make this one-pot wonder. The recipe comes from the BBC website, and is a traditional Indian vegetable dish.


Kofta meatballs

This is a fragrant Middle Eastern dish where minced meat is flavoured with spices and formed into balls. This recipe comes from Anthony Worrall Thompson’s GI Diet, a book that’s full of healthy recipes for when you want something simple, yet still satisfying.

Blend 500g beef or lamb mince (I used lamb) with a finely chopped onion, 2 tsps of ground cumin, 1 tsp ground mixed spice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a handful of chopped coriander leaves and some ground pepper.

Take a small handful of the mixture and, using your hands, roll it into a ball and flatten slightly. Repeat to make 16 meatballs.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the meatballs until they are golden brown and cooked through. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Serve with a green salad, cous cous and lemon wedges (I added some chopped coriander and lemon juice to the cous cous).

These also freeze really well and make a great lunch-time snack.


APPLE WEEK! – Thursday: Pork Chops with Cider, Apple Sauce, Caramelised Apples and Mustard Mash

I’ve adjusted Lorraine Pascale’s recipe from Baking Made Easy for this savoury use of apples, changing one piece of pork for a couple of pork chops, and substituting dry cider for Calvados. The rosemary gives a great depth of flavour to each element of this dish. These quantities will serve dinner for two.

Get started with the mashed potatoes. Preheat the oven to 220degC. Prick 3 or 4 (depending on size) potatoes all over and wrap each one in foil. Bake for an hour, or until a knife inserted into the centre glides through easily with no resistance.

To make the apple sauce, melt 15g butter in a small saucepan and add about 4-5 medium sized peeled and roughly chopped garden apples. Add 1tbsp light brown sugar and a sprig of rosemary. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes over a low heat. Then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, turn up the heat and boil until the liquid thickens. Whizz this mixture up in a blender, then squash it through a sieve back into the saucepan, and set aside.

Heat a knob of butter and 2 tblsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a moderate-high heat. Season 2 chops with salt and vinegar. Add the chops to the oil, brown on one side then turn over and brown on the other side. Add 2 large onions (peeled and roughly chopped) and a sprig of rosemary. Lower the heat and continue to cook, turning the chops once, until they are no longer pink when cut into. Remove the chops to the a warm plate, cover, and leave them to rest.

Pour 250ml dry cider into the pan, turn up the heat, and reduce by half.

While the cider gravy is simmering, make the caramelised apples. Melt 20g butter in a small pan and add 4 medium sized peeled and quartered apples, a sprig of rosemary and a tbsp of soft brown sugar. Cook gently until the apples begin to caramelise and go soft. Set aside and keep warm.

Once the cider has reduced, add 300ml chicken stock and reduce by half again.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and slice in half, then scoop out the insides into a saucepan and add 75g butter. Mix well obver a low heat, then season with salt and pepper and add 2 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard (or more to taste). You can also add some English mustard to get some heat into the mash.

Heat the sauce gently. Strain the gravy through a sieve. Serve the chops with the caramelised apples, apple sauce, cider gravy and mustard mash.


Steak with Sweet and Sour Peppers

This simple meal was a corruption of Gordon Ramsay’s venison dish from Fast Food, but I substituted fillet steak instead – in reality you could probably use any type of steak with these peppers.

Place four steaks in a shallow dish and drizzle with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. Season lightly and scatter over a tbsp of lightly crushed juniper berries and a few thyme sprigs. Leave to marinate for as long as possible (marinading overnight will help tenderise the meat).

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and add 3 red and 3 yellow peppers (cored, deseeded and sliced) with a little seasoning. Add a few thyme sprigs and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Pour in 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar and let bubble until the liquid reduces right down. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Season your steaks with salt and pepper. Heat another heavy-based pan, then add 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. When it is very hot, sear the meat for 3-4 minutes on each side (or to your own taste, depending on how you like your meat and the size of the steaks). Leave to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes. Divide the peppers between 4 warmed plates. Slice the steaks thickly on the diagonal and arrange on top of the peppers. Drizzle with a little olive oil to serve.