Cook Arford

Easy recipes from Apple Tree

Category: Main courses (page 1 of 9)

Kinda Cassoulet

Apologies for the photo, that is Wikimedia’s not mine.

If Jamie Oliver can do Kinda so can I. Although to be fair, he has earned the right and I haven’t.  This recipe evolved from having some stray meat items, an Instant Pot and a desire to make something quick and wholesome. This is a convergence of several recipes, and I am sure the French who take three days to make a cassoulet would be horrified. It would be disingenuous to say I cared. Here’s what we had: leftovers from a roast duck, leftovers from a gammon and a couple of sausages. The rest are store cupboard items. Serves 2 but easily scaled.

  • 200g canellini beans

Soak 8 hours or Instant Pot equivalent (20 mins pressure)

  • Half an onion, chopped
  • One carrot, cubed small
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Dash of oil

Soften in the Instant Pot on Saute. Meanwhile take a frying pan and brown

  • 2 sausages

Add to the Instant Pot with:

  • 2 cooked duck legs
  • Cubed gammon, we had the equivalent of a pork steak sized bit
  • 1 tbs tomato puree
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • drained soaked beans
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 bay leaf

Add to the Instant Pot. Cook 20 mins. You could serve at this point but it may look a bit watery. To make it amazing, turn the whole lot into a stove-top pan and bubble away to reduce the liquid and intensify flavours. Adjust the seasoning – it probably won’t need much adjusting, a bit of pepper maybe.

To make it slightly more authentic top with breadcrumbs and brown under a grill but that is a bit of a faff, skip that and serve with fresh crusty bread.

If your meat supply doesn’t match the above list, try

  • Cooked chicken legs instead of duck
  • Bacon lardons instead of gammon chunks but make them meaty. You could even go for small chunks of pork belly, browned
  • Any variation of sausage – traditional British or smoked or Continental but not too preserved – steer away from salami

This recipe is awesome. Try it.

Arroz al Horno (baked rice)

A meany, beany paella really, and pretty good. Quick, easy and cheap. Ticks all the boxes there!

Quantities serve 4,  easily scaled up or down. You will need a large stove-top-to-oven pan, I used my largest le Creuset casserole dish.

  • 4 lean pork belly strips, halved
  • olive oil

Sear in your pan until they are brown and crispy each side. Remove.

  • 2 slices black pudding, cubed
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into lardons

Fry in the same oil until coloured. Remove.

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced

Fry in the same oil (add more if you need to) until soft.

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped

Fry a bit more.

  • 1 tomato, chopped

Fry until it breaks down. You could use tinned actually, if you have a use for the remainder of the tin.

  • Tin of butter beans or canellini beans
  • Sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp  dried chilli flakes

Stir in. Add back your nicely browned meaty things.

  • 200g paella rice

Stir in.

  • 525 ml chicken stock

Add to the pan. Heat to bubbling then put in an oven at 200C/180C Fan. Leave 20 minutes and then have a peek. If the rice isn’t soft or there is too much liquid, leave another 5.

Serve with lemon to squeeze over if you like. Our home-made bacon is quite salty so it didn’t need more. You may need to adjust the seasoning.




Quick steak and mushroom stroganoff

(Wikimedia image) Serves 2, easily scaled:

  • 230g sirloin steak, trimmed of fat
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • seasoning
  • oil

Season your steak, oil it and sear in a hot pan both sides. Turn the heat down and cook each side for two minutes. Set aside. In the same pan add

  • 1 small onion sliced

Cook gently until softening Add

  • 250g sliced chestnut mushrooms

Cook until soft. If it looks too  dry add a pat of butter. When cooked, add

  • 100ml beef stock
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

Simmer until reduced by about half. Add

  • 2 tbs single cream

Slice your reserved steak, and add to the pan with the cream and any resting juices. Heat through but don’t boil the cream.

Serves with mash or pasta (tagliatelle or linguini is best). Scatter over some chopped fresh parseley for poshness.




Making bacon

You might think that curing your own bacon is a) difficult and b) not worth it but a) it isn’t and b) it is. Compared to supermarket bacon, home-cured is tastier, meatier and doesn’t shrink to half the size – or exude white stuff while cooking! All you need is a lump of pork belly, your home-made cure, a fridge and a bit of personal organisation. First – buy your meat. You will need a piece of pork belly from the thick end, boned out and weighing about 2KG. You will need to find a traditional butcher for this. Now make your cure:

  • 300g salt
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbs ground black pepper
  • 2tbs crushed coriander seeds
  • 3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • leaves from a small bunch of thyme

Mix the cure well and put it in an airtight pot.

Find a non-metallic plate or tray big enough to hold the meat. Put a handful of cure on the bottom of the plate, place the meat on top and spread another handful of cure on the top. Cover and place in the fridge for one day. Remove and pour off the liquid that will have been drawn out by the cure. Turn the meat over, and top up the cure top and bottom with another handful. Leave for another day in the fridge, then repeat. Do this for five days in total, and each day there will be less and less liquid drawn out as the cure does its job. The meat will get firmer too. After five days, wash the cure off the meat, dry with a paper towel and wipe all over with a cloth dipped in vinegar. Now leave in the fridge uncovered to dry for another week or so. It will then be ready to slice and use as bacon was intended. It will keep in the fridge for several weeks apparently, although you might find it gets eaten pretty quickly. For longer storage once it is air-dry, wrap in a dry tea towel and keep in the fridge for several months.


Lamb Barley Broth

Great for a leftover lamb bone with meat attached – usually the last bit remaining after a roast day and a cold cuts day. Serves 2:

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced thickly
  • 1 small swede or turnip, cubed
  • 1 parsnip, cubed
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped

Put some oil or butter in a deep pan and sweat vegetables gently for about 10 minutes. Add

  • Lamb bone and leftovers, about 150g – 200g of meat
  • 4 tbs pearl barley
  • Water or stock

Add the lamb and cover with water.  Season. Simmer for 1 hour. Top up the liquid if it needs it. Pull the meat from the bone and remove the bone. Add

  • Handful of peas, green beans or similar green veg.

Simmer another 5 minutes, add some chopped fresh parley and serve in bowls with nice bread.

Fairly painless paella

If you thought making a paella involved constant attention and meticulous fussing, this is not that recipe. All made in a large frying pan, preferably one with a lid. This is for two people (generous portions), easily scaled.

  • 0.5 onion, chopped
  • 0.5 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped

Put oil in the pan and saute the above for a few minutes until soft.

  • 50g chorizo, cubed
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into strips – or monkfish, bass, gurnard for the 100% seafood version

Cook until the chicken colours

  • 175g paella rice

Add to the pan and swill around for a minute

  • 50ml white wine
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Add to the pan and sizzle for a minute. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Make up 500ml stock (chicken, veg or fish)

Add 300ml to the pan, get to bubbling and put the lid on. Cook for 15 minutes. Check every few minutes after the halfway mark and add a splosh of stock if it is drying out. After 15 minutes check the rice, if it is still a bit hard cook a few minutes more. It still needs to be slightly wet but not liquidy.

  • 2 squid tubes, sliced into rings
  • handful of frozen peas
  • 6 cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 4 langoustines or 4 large or 6 medium prawns
  • Optional – a few shellfish such as clams or mussels

Add to the pan and keep the heat on for two minutes with the lid on. Turn the heat off, lid still on, and leave for 3 minutes.

  • Chopped fresh parseley
  • Quartered lemon

To serve.

Easy Chicken Tagine

You need an oven-proof pan with a lid, such as a cast-iron casserole.

  • 8 chicken thighs

Splash some oil in the pan and brown the thighs for 10-15 minutes. Remove to a plate.

  • 1 chopped onion

Add to the pan and fry gently 2-3 minutes

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 tbs Moroccan spice mix*

Fry a bit more, scraping up any crispy bits from the chicken.

  • 2 preserved lemons
  • 2 large tomoatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • Handful of olives
  • Chicken stock cube
  • 750ml water

Add to the pan. Stir gently to boiling point. Add the chicken back in, cover and transfer to an oven 170C/150C Fan for one hour. Serve with a scattering of feta, mint leaves and pomegranate seeds with couscous on the side.

*If you can’t find a suitable Moroccan spice mix try this:

  • 2tbs coriander seeds
  • 1tbs cumin seeds
  • 1.5tsp fennel seeds
  • 0.5tsp black pepper
  • 0.24 tsp ground ginger
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch saffron

Dry fry the seeds until they start to smell. Grind, then mix with the other spices.

Totally awesome seafood feast

This is a feast to be enjoyed by sharing a single pan! You will need a large roasting tray. It can be scaled for as many people as your pan can supply. For four people:

  • Cut 16 small waxy potatoes (e.g. Charlotte) hasselback style*

Slug some olive or vegetable oil into your pan, roll the potatoes around and roast at 180C (fan) for 20 minutes

  • Two sweetcorn cobs

Slice into four rounds per cob (halve and halve again) and add to your pan. Roast for 5 minutes.

  • 4 squid tubes
  • 8-12 large prawns, crayfish or langoustines
  • 1 pack of mussels in wine and garlic
  • 150g  ring chorizo, sliced thickly
  • 100g butter
  • 1 lemon, zested then quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • Handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika

Hasselback the squid tubes. Slice open the backs of the prawns, remove the black line. Mush together the butter, lemon zest, parsley, garlic, paprika and stuff the squid tubes and prawn backs. Add everything to the pan. Ramp up the heat to 200C (fan) and cook for 10 minutes. Check everything is cooked, if in doubt cook a bit longer. Scatter over chopped parsley and serve with plenty of good bread to scoop up the amazing juices. Prepare to feel stuffed!

*Hasselback tips:lay two wooden chopsticks either side of the potato. Slice the potato across into  £1 coin thicknesses. The chopsticks stop you slicing all the way through by mistake. To Hasselback a squid put a wide knife blade into the tube and slice one side down to the blade with a second knife.


Salmon, harrissa and grains

Serves 2, takes about 10 minutes.

  • 2 salmon steaks
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs harrissa paste

Mix the harissa with the lemon juice and olive oil and rub all over the flesh. Heat the grill to medium-high. Grill for 5-6 minutes without turning until cooked through, then leave to sit off the heat for a minute.

  • 200g bag baby spinach

Wilt the spinach in a pan with just a drop of oil and some seasoning.

  • Pouch of pre-cooked mixed rice and grains
  • 2 tbs chopped chives
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • half a chilli, seeded and sliced
  • 1tbs lemon juice

Heat the grains pouch in the microwave. Tip into a bowl with the chives, chilli, parsley and lemon juice. Season and toss everything together.

  • Sliced avocado
  • Greek Yoghurt

Spoon the grains onto a plate. Add the salmon (leave the skin behind), some spinach, sliced avocado and Greek yogurt.

Roast Vegetable Salad

Simple to make and flexible with main ingredients. Firstly make this awesome dressing which would go with other things too.

  • 50g cashew nuts

Boil 3 minutes. Add

  • 2 garlic cloves

Boil 2 minutes more. Drain, remove garlic skins and add to a blender (stick blender is best) with

  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • half a cucumber

Zap. Add the other half of a cucumber and zap again. You can experiment by adding herbs – tarragon, chives, etc but I am not sure that is necessary.

For the salad – you can swap vegetables around but I used the following:

  • Red cabbage, cut into thin slices including the core so it stays together as a “steak”
  • Sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • Courgette, sliced
  • oil

Fry in a hot pan until charred. Transfer to an oven 180C fan, season  and roast 30 minutes. Less if your charring took a while. Take them out when soft all the way through, and cool for a bit. Meanwhile…

  • Broccoli florets
  • Chives chipped or spring onions in 3 cm lengths

In the same pan, add a  bit more oil then toss the broccoli and chives around and char until bright green with charred bits. They should be still crunchy but not raw. Remove.

  • Tofu (vegan) or halloumi (vegetarian)

In the same pan, sear until browned.

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Lettuce hearts, quartered

Arrange the roasted and seared items with the fresh items in a  tasteful display on your platter. Serve with the sauce.

You could also try asparagus, treated like the broccoli; button mushrooms left whole and fried with garlic and herbs in olive oil; swede or parsnip treated like the sweet potato.


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