Recipe: Toad in the Hole

I’m a big fan of sausages. They’re so versatile, easy to cook with and the good ones are always delicious. Like the new range from MOR. They come in four different flavours, inspired by foods from around the world. All made from high quality British meat, vegetables, herbs and spices they are also low in fat.

Choose from Moroccan Spiced Pork, Cauliflower and Chickpea; Pork, Beetroot and Bramley Apple; Pork, Super Green Veg and Lentil or Mediterranean Chicken, Sundried Tomato and Basil chipolatas. Don’t they all sound tasty!?

Today I decided to make a traditional Toad in the Hole using a mix of the beetroot and apple and green vegetable and lentil for a bit of variety. I love toad-in-the-hole it’s so simple to make and always seems like something of a miracle – transforming from sausages in a liquid mix of milk, flour and eggs into a sausages nestling in a crisply delightful batter – well, it’s Yorkshire pudding basically. A perfect autumn comfort dinner to keep the cold at bay.

Recipe: Toad In The Hole

Serves 3

MOR sausages

The delicious finished toad in the hole

The ingredients

6 sausages

1 tbsp sunflower oil

For the batter

285ml milk

110g self raising flour

3 large eggs

4 tbsps sunflower oil

MOR sausages

Close up on the sizzling dish

The process

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Fry the sausages on low until lightly browned all over – about 20 mins.

Meantime mix the batter ingredients together and set aside.

Turn the oven on to 220C. Pour the rest of the sunflower oil into a baking tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven for about 10 mins.

Remove from the oven – the oil should be very hot.

Gently lay the sausages in the oil and pour the batter mixture over them.

Return to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until the batter has risen nicely and is brown and crisp on top. Don’t open the oven door while it’s cooking as it may affect how well the batter rises.

Serve with gravy and green vegetables like peas, broccoli or beans.

MOR sausages

Sweet and meaty pork, beetroot and apple

MOR sausages

Pork with green veg and lentil

MOR sausages

MOR sausages even look delicious before you cook them

Find out more about the delicious range of sausages from MOR by clicking here.

Recipe: Hot smoked salmon in my Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker

Today I’m experimenting with a new piece of cooking kit – yes, again. And it’s a serious one – the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker. A shiny, stylish oven where you can cook and smoke to your heart’s content.

We’ve been having a lovely October in London and would you believe it was even warm enough to eat al fresco one recent weekend. So we invited some friends over and I experimented with hot smoking a large fillet of salmon. My long-suffering friends do have to put up with a lot of test dishes from my kitchen.

This time they were certainly winners as this smoked salmon is one of the nicest things I’ve served up. Wonderfully moist with a touch of sweetness from the honey and sugar, a salty hint from the soya sauce and that wonderful smokiness finishing it off. I used apple wood chips which created quite a bit of smoke and certainly intensified the flavours. And doesn’t it look amazingly professional. I was so impressed with the way it turned out.

Find out more about this fabulous smoker by clicking here.

Char-Broil: salmon

The beautiful smoked salmon nestling on a bed of rocket

Honey and soya hot smoked salmon

Serves 6 as a starter

800g fresh salmon fillet

3 tbsps brown sugar

3 tbsps soya sauce

3 tsps honey

To serve

1 bag fresh rocket

2 lemons, quartered

8 cherry tomatoes

Rinse the salmon fillet under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen roll.

Mix together the sugar, soya sauce and 2 tsps of the honey.

Spread thickly over both sides of the salmon.

Cover and leave in the fridge for at least three hours, ideally overnight, turning occasionally.

Remove from the fridge at least an hour before putting it into the smoker and drizzle with the remaining honey.

Add your wood chips to the drawer – I used apple wood.

Prepare your smoker to a temperature of 121C.

Place the fillet flesh-side down on the grates.

Smoke for one hour.

Remove the grate from the smoker (using oven gloves so you don’t burn your hands!), place a baking tray on top of the fish and then flip the fish and grate so the baking pan is on the bottom with the fish on it.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Serve on a bed of fresh rocket with cherry tomatoes and lemon wedges.

Char-Broil: Smoker

The stylish smoker is a great addition to any kitchen

 

Char-Broil: Smoker

There’s plenty of space for plenty of smoking

Recipe: Spicy apple chutney

Recipe: Spicy Apple Chutney

I love autumn in London. There’s the beauty of all the leaves changing colour, atmospheric misty mornings and still warmth in the sun when it pops out. September is often the best month, especially after we’ve had a particularly lacklustre summer like we’ve had this year.

And it’s apple time – particularly good when your neighbours have an extremely fruitful apple tree in their garden. Always love a bit of free food and they are positively begging me to come and help myself before all the fruit goes sadly to waste.

So I popped over for some pickings and it was time for some apple cooking. First up, this really easy spicy apple chutney. It goes beautifully with cheese and cold meats, spicing up sandwiches and to serve with curries. Well, it kind of goes with most things. I made quite a big batch and shared it out with my neighbours. Spreading a bit of tasty autumn cheer.

Recipe: apple chutney

Apple chutney for the neighbourhood

Apple Chutney

The ingredients

12 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 dried red chillies

3 tbsps fresh ginger, chopped

2 cloves of garlic

300ml cider vinegar

200g brown sugar

100g caster sugar

Half a tsp ground cardamom

Half a tsp ground cloves

The process

Put  all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and cover.

Simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently, check that the apples are tender and the chutney is thickened. Keep an eye on it to make sure it’s not getting too dry and mix in some water if you need to keep it moist.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Ladle it into vacuum sealed jars and keep in the fridge until it is ready to serve.

What’s your favourite recipe using apples? These versatile fruits can be used in so many different ways. There’ll be more apple cooking coming soon so watch this space. And do let me have some of your favourites to try out for myself.

Recipe: Ginger beef with pepper and spring onion

Ginger beef with pepper and spring onion

Today I’m experimenting again with my HaloChef. This versatile halogen oven seems to present endless cooking opportunities as you can use it to roast bake, grill and defrost. It’s powered by halogen light that generates heat for quick and easy cooking. And it’s environmentally friendly, too, as you’re using less energy.

Today’s dish is kind of a cross between a stir-fry and a stew with some tasty Asian flavours. I browned the meat in a frying pan before putting it in the casserole but all the rest of the ingredients are simply chopped and put in raw. So there’s little preparation and even less mess to clear up. Hooray!

Cooking in the HaloChef produced beautifully tender meat and a luscious sauce which had a real gingery bite – a new firm favourite in our house.

HaloChef: ginger beef

The final dish on a bed of egg fried rice

Serves 2

The ingredients

350g steak cut into small pieces (I used Waitrose’s frying steak which is good value and tender)

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 red pepper cored and chopped

250ml beef stock

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

3cm fresh grated ginger

1 dried red chilli, crumbled

1 tbsp cornflour

2 tbsp water

12 suger snap peas

A  bunch of spring onions

The process

Heat the oil in frying pan and fry the beef until browned. Transfer to a casserole dish with a lid.

Add the chopped pepper. Pour over the stock, soy sauce, ginger and chilli. Put the lid on the casserole.

Set the halogen oven to 200C  and cook for 50 mins.

Halo Chef: ginger beef

The beef and peppers soak up the ginger flavours

 

Blend cornflour with water. Stir it into beef, add the sugar snap peas and spring onion.

HaloChef: ginger beef

Sugar snap peas and spring onion add crunch

Cover and cook for 10 more mins

Serve with egg fried rice

Special reader offer

You can find out more about the HaloChef which retails for £89.99 here. And exclusively for readers of eatingcoventgarden.com you can get a discount of £6.99 by entering the code ECGCR3 when you buy.

Go on, you know you need a HaloChef in your life.

 

 

Recipe: Cinnamon carrot cake baked in my HaloChef

Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with my new HaloChef. It’s an oven powered by halogen light that generates heat which combines with high air flow to cook. It’s a quicker, healthier (you don’t need to use oil) and more environmentally friendly way of cooking and produces great results.

You can use the HaloChef to roast, bake, grill and defrost, so it’s extremely versatile. I sometimes have issues when I’m baking – which I tend to blame on the fact that my oven isn’t in fact the temperature it says it is. I know, bad workmen and tools come to mind. So today I decided to try baking a cake with halogen power.

The cake came out so perfectly I’m going to be doing all my baking in my HaloChef from now on! I also loved the fact that as the oven is glass you can easily watch your cake’s progress.

If you don’t have a HaloChef you can bake it for 45 mins in a normal oven.

Special reader offer

You can find out more about the HaloChef which retails for £89.99 here. And exclusively for readers of eatingcoventgarden.com you can get a discount of £6.99 by entering the code ECGCR3 when you buy. Go on, you know you need a HaloChef in your life.

Here’s my recipe for cinnamon carrot cake. And watch this space for more great ideas for cooking with halogen.

Cinnamon Carrot Cake

Tastily moist slices of carrot cake

The ingredients

3 large eggs

75g granulated sugar

200g grated carrots

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of half an orange

175g self-raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

The process

Set the HaloChef to 180C.

Oil the base and sides of a square cake tin and line it with baking parchment.

Beat the eggs. Add the oil and sugar and mix together. Stir in the grated carrots and orange rind.

Mix the flour, bicarb and cinnamon. Then mix all the ingredients together.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes. It should feel firm when you press it in the centre with your finger.

Cool in the tin for 5 mins and then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Perfect with your afternoon coffee!

The lovely cake straight out of the tin

HaloChef

The HaloChef is a funky scifi addition to our kitchen

The HaloChef is a quick and easy way to do your roast dinner

Wood-fired oven recipes to inspire you

I always love finding new ways to cook and I was very interested in learning all about the versatility of the wood-fired oven. While everyone knows they’re great for cooking pizzas, that’s only a tiny part of their capability as David and Holly Jones from Manna from Devon Cooking School are on a mission to prove.

I was lucky enough to meet them at a recent workshop where they cooked a delicious menu for us in the stylish Morsø wood-fired ovens. Everything from beautifully light focaccia, succulent peri peri chicken, Greek-style kebabs and even a fruity dessert.

Wood-fired ovens

Up close on the stylish Morsø wood-fired oven

David and Holly hold wood-fired oven cookery courses at their school Manna from Devon overlooking the River Dart in beautiful South Devon – one of my favourite areas of the UK. It’s such an amazing area for food-lovers that’s well worth a visit. You can find out more on www.foodanddrinkdevon.co.uk

The Jones’ fabulous Wo0d-Fired Oven Cookbook is a comprehensive guide to how to cook with your oven, including plenty of inspiring recipes. Here are three to whet your appetite and motivate you to branch out and do more than make pizza in this amazing outdoor kitchen. Buy the book for £9.99 by clicking here.

Scallops with chilli and mint

Serves 6 as an appetiser

Like all fish, scallops respond well to the hot temperatures in the wood-fired oven – they get a good charring on the outside, which adds to the flavours of the recipe. By baking the scallops in their round shells you won’t have any dishes to wash.

12 large cleaned scallops with their shells, also cleaned

juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

1 tbsp chilli oil

2 tbsp olive oil

25g butter, softened

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp dried white breadcrumbs

salt and ground black pepper

4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint

fresh, crusty bread, to serve

Wood-fired oven recipes

Build up the fire in the oven until the temperature reaches 300°C/570°F. This will take about 60 minutes. When it is up to temperature, push the fire to the back of the oven with a metal peel or coal hook, and keep the door open to encourage a hot fire with high flames.

In a bowl, mix the lemon juice and grated rind with the chilli oil and olive oil, the butter, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. Season well.

Cut the scallops in half to make discs and put them with their roes back in the cleaned half shells. Divide the breadcrumb mixture over the scallops.

Put the shells on a baking sheet; use two if you need to. Place the baking sheets in the oven, as close to the fire as possible. Keep the door open and bake for just 4–5 minutes, until the tops are golden and sizzling.

Carefully move the baking sheets to the front of the oven, using a metal peel to do so. Pick up the baking sheets, but be careful to keep them level so you don’t lose any of the delicious juices.

Sprinkle the chopped mint over the scallops and serve immediately with some fresh, crusty bread to mop up all the juices, remembering that the shells will be very hot.

Roast duck with orange, star anise and cinnamon and roast potatoes

Serves 4-6

Duck, like pork, cooks beautifully in a wood-fired oven – the fat melts through the meat, keeping it juicy and tender, and the skin crisps up well. It makes a rich meal, so all you need to go with it is some braised red cabbage or a watercress salad.Wood-fired oven cooking

1 large duck, about 2kg

juice of 2 oranges

2 whole star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

1 small bunch fresh sage

1.5kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tbsp canned duck or goose fat or olive oil

100ml red wine

600ml chicken stock

2 tbsp plain flour

salt and ground black pepper

Build up the fire in the oven until the temperature reaches 190°C/375°F, this will take about 40 minutes. When it is up to temperature, push the fire to the back of the oven with a metal peel or coal hook, and close the door to retain the heat.

Put the orange juice into a small pan on the stove and simmer gently with the star anise and cinnamon stick for 5 minutes to infuse the orange juice. Stir in the redcurrant jelly and simmer gently for 10 minutes until tacky. Remove the spices and season the liquid with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prick the duck skin all over with a skewer. Generously brush the orange and redcurrant liquid over the duck. Put the bunch of sage in the duck’s body cavity.

Put the potatoes in a large roasting pan and spoon over the duck fat. Put the duck on a wire rack and place in the roasting pan, over the potatoes. Open the oven door and put the roasting pan on the oven floor.

Close the door and roast the duck and potatoes for 1 hour, then take the roasting pan out of the oven. Remove the duck and rack from the roasting pan, drain off the excess fat and any juices into a measuring jug (cup), and turn the potatoes over. Replace the rack and duck, and return the roasting pan to the oven for another 30–60 minutes. Separate the fat from the meat juices in the jug, and set both aside.

Check that the duck is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thigh to make sure the juices run clear. The potatoes should also be cooked through and crisped up by all the duck fat that has been released.

Transfer the duck to rest on a platter. Drain the rest of the juices from the roasting pan into the measuring jug.

Put 2 tbsp of the reserved duck fat and the flour into the roasting pan and stir together on the stove. When the flour has absorbed the fat, stir in the juices from the jug with the red wine and the chicken stock. Keep stirring until it has come to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper.

Carve the duck meat and serve it with the gravy and potatoes and some braised red cabbage.

Cook’s tip

Any leftover duck is delicious shredded and served cold in sandwiches or wraps. Duck fat is great for roasting potatoes so do keep any left over in the refrigerator for just that.

Apple pie with spices

Serves 6

Another all-time classic, apple pie is delicious baked in a wood-fired oven, which crisps up the pastry on the top and the bottom of the pie, giving a crunchy outside and a tender fruity inside. Use the lower heat of the oven to cook the eating apples initially and then build up the fire to get a higher temperature for cooking the pastry. This recipe uses a mixture of dessert apples, which hold together well in the pie, and baking apples, which collapse more during cooking; the baking apples provide a contrasting tartness to the sweeter eating apples.

675g eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges

2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 2.5cm pieces

50g butter

50g caster sugar

50g light muscovado (brown) sugar

1tsp each ground mixed spice, cinnamon and ginger or 15ml/3 tsp apple pie spice

juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

2 pieces ready-rolled shortcrust pastry 30 x 30cm

1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

clotted cream, ice cream or custard, to serve

Build up the fire in the oven until the temperature reaches 200°C/400°F. When it is up to temperature, which will take about 40 minutes, push the embers to the back of the oven using a metal peel or coal hook. Leave the oven door closed to retain the heat.

Put the apple wedges, butter, sugars and spices in an ovenproof dish. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or some foil, and put the dish on the oven floor. Close the door and cook for 12–15 minutes, until the apples are tender, stirring a couple of times during cooking.

Take the dish containing the apples out of the oven, and close the door to keep the heat inside.

Transfer the apples to a large bowl and gently fold in the lemon juice and rind. Set aside to cool.

Line the base of a 25cm/10in deep ovenproof pie dish with one of the sheets of pastry, pressing it into the bases and sides. Spoon the cooled apples in to the pastry-lined pie dish and spread evenly. Lift the second sheet of pastry with the rolling pin and carefully place it on top of the dish.

Trim the pastry, using a sharp knife, and crimp the edges together. Make a couple of steam holes in the top of the pie with the knife.

Use the trimmings to cut out some pastry leaves or any other pattern to put on top of the pie, if you wish. Stick them to the pie with the beaten egg and brush more of the egg wash all over the top of the pie. Place the pie in the oven for 25–30 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, crisp and golden.

Remove the pie from the oven, and rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm with clotted cream, ice cream or custard. Any leftovers can be reheated or eaten cold with a piece of good Cheddar cheese.

You can find out more about Manna from Devon by clicking here.