Bratwurst, Green Slaw and Mushroom Hash

Bratwurst, green slaw and mushroom hash

Driving home in the sun this evening, I started to feel that spring has really sprung. Once I got in I opened the back doors and the birds were singing. The frog spawn in the pond was incubating its inky black spots and the tree blossom was being carried in the breeze. I just knew it was time to uncover the BBQ for the first time in 4 months.

Right.

…So anyway, whilst that’s being steeped in bleach, I thought I’d use the griddle pan in the kitchen for this dish.

This is pretty simple but something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. The Bratwurst sausages are great with the green slaw, which is inspired by a version found in the Pitt Cue Co’s book. A good book by the way. The sweet and sour dressing was all mine though and I added some tahini for a little bitter richness.

The mushroom hash was actually more a kind of warm potato salad, but worked well.

Serves 2:

4 Bratwurst sausages if you’re hungry. Two if not.

For the green slaw:

  • 3 savoy cabbage leaves
  • About a quarter to a third of a white cabbage
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • Half a green pepper
  • Half a celery stick
  • Handful of hazelnuts

Green slaw ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp raspberry and chilli vinegar (very much optional)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/s tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 good pinches of sea salt
  • 1 tsp tahini

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For the mushroom hash:

  • 2 large flat mushrooms sliced.
  • About 12 baby potatoes, halved
  • Dried thyme
  • Rapeseed oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, left in their skins
  • 1/2 a white onion, sliced thinly
  • Salt

Preheat the oven to moderate-high.

Start with the potatoes. Par boil them for about 10 minutes. Drain and lay on a deep baking tray with the mushrooms, onions and garlic. Season with salt and sprinkle over thyme and olive oil.

Roast until the potatoes are browned.

Mushroom Hash

Meanwhile, make the slaw by very finely shredding the two types of cabbage, onion, celery and green pepper. Mix well in  bowl. Roughly crush the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar (or with a rolling pin) and add them in.

Hazelnuts

Make the slaw dressing by mixing the ingredients in a bottle (I used a squeezy serving bottle) and shake well to mix. Taste and adjust it as you see fit.

Griddle the sausages until marked well then transfer to the oven to heat through.

Bratwurst

Serve the sausages on the hash with the dressed slaw on top and your choice of sauce – I had some good Dijon mustard, and a nice cold continental beer.

Bratwurst, green slaw and mushroom hash

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Gammon, Mushrooms and Peas on toast.

Gammon, mushrooms and peas on toast

Time sure flies hey? Plenty going on for us recently in and out of the Frankly household. We’ve been trying some great food and so culinary creativity, if ever there was any, has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few weeks.

This dish is unashamedly inspired (again) by a local gastropub and is another of those ‘on toast’ dishes. I offer no apologies for this, it’s probably one of the quickest and healthiest ways of introducing ‘crispy carbs’ and it’s delicious when griddled as I have here.

The gammon ham was actually from last Christmas and never got cooked, frozen and sat waiting patiently. In case I decided to take up curling or needed ammo for a trebuchet presumably. After defrosting I slow cooked this, initially in foil, for about four hours and it was meltingly good. Now, how to use up 2.5kg of smoked gammon….

So I came up with the following for a starters (but not a starter). I love this sort of thing – a bit rustic, quite simple and bags of flavour. Worth a try I’d say.

  • 2 slices of good quality bread
  • A little olive oil and a clove of garlic to rub
  • Cut 2 thin and two thick slices of gammon ham.
  • 2 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 1 heaped tsp coarse/wholegrain mustard
  • Black pepper
  • 150-200g chestnut (or similar) mushrooms, quartered or halved depending on size
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 little oil and a knob of butter
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  •  About 100g peas, frozen, unless you can get them really fresh
  •  Pea-shoots to finish

Prepare the ingredients first. Chop the thick gammon slices into dice sized pieces, slice the bread, quarter (or half) the mushrooms and finely chop the garlic and parsley.

In a small lidded pan, blanch the peas in a small lidded pan for a few minutes, turn off the heat and leave whilst you finish the rest.

Fry the gammon cubes in a little oil in a small skillet until coloured. Reduce the heat, stir in the creme fraiche and mustard and heat through. Season with pepper only. Transfer to a bowl, cover and keep warm in the oven. Put the two thin slices of gammon in there too to warm.

gammon & creme fraiche

Begin to heat a griddle pan on at this point, as it’s got to be hot.

Wipe clean the skillet and heat the oil and butter for the mushrooms. Fry the mushrooms with the garlic for a few minutes until softened but not over-done. Season and stir in the parsley then set aside to keep warm.

Fried mushrooms

Drain the peas and crush them using a masher to break them up, season with a little salt and butter if you like. Cover the pan with the lid and set aside in the oven, again, to keep warm.

Rub the bread with the garlic clove and brush with oil on both sides. Sear each side on the griddle until nice charred bar marks appear.

Griddled bread

Layer the ingredients up as you prefer and top with the pea-shoots. Serve with some good piccalilli.

Gammon, mushrooms and peas on toast

Italian Style Chickpea Cakes

Chickpea cake

When, I explain I like to cook to people, a common reply is “I would, but I don’t have time”, which is nonsense of course. I have no quibble with anyone whatsoever for not enjoying cooking, or even turning to convenience food, each to their own and all that. But, I believe that if you have the time to heat a packet or jar of something, you’ll have time to make a meal.

Take, for example, some fresh pasta, prawns, frozen peas, garlic and a little chilli and I’ll bet you could have a great pasta dish in ten minutes. A frozen pizza takes longer.

Tonight was a little like this, I was a little late in, but having been out for dinner on Wednesday and Thursday, we couldn’t make it a hat trick. Could we? No, no we couldn’t…

And so the cogs clunked and whirred. I didn’t want anything too unhealthy and I’m trying to keep the meat content down for a while. For me personally, there is nothing better for going meat free than Italian food.

This was kind of inspired by falafel, but with Italian flavours in the form of ricotta, sun dried tomatoes and basil oil. With it, some spinach and simple sautéed mushrooms. Simple and on the table in about 15 minutes.

My only reservation? The chickpea cake was a bit soft, but otherwise, the flavour was good. I think chickpeas cooked from dried work better and have a better texture.

  • 400g cooked chickpeas – canned for speed, dried are better.
  • 3 tbsp ricotta
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes, drained and dried of oil
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tbsp grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
  • A lug of basil oil (or olive oil and some torn basil leaves)
  • A little lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little polenta for dusting
  • Button mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • A couple of parsley sprigs
  • Butter (optional as ever..)
  • Spinach
  • Vegetable stock
  • Oil for frying

Blitz the chickpeas, cheeses, sun dried tomatoes, oil and seasoning in a processor (or just mash it with a fork).

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Shape into two burger shapes and dust in the polenta.

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Bring a small pan of vegetable stock (about 400ml) to the boil and put the spinach in. Turn off the heat and put the lid on. Meanwhile, in a heavy pan, fry the onions in the oil, and add the garlic. Fry for a few minutes more and stir in the butter and parsley. Turn the heat off, remove and keep warm.

Reheat the pan and add some more oil, fry the chickpea cakes for a few minutes on each side until the polenta crisps. Be careful not to break them – use a spatula!

Chickpea cakes frying

And relax…..its the weekend 😉

Pancakes two ways – savoury and sweet.

IMG_6411 There was a time long ago, when we had to go to the phone to use it, wireless meant ‘a radio’, Betamax was on the way out and Bluetooth would have presumably meant a trip to the dentist, when I used to eat “Crispy Pankcakes”.

I presume it was a UK thing, but they were basically folded and breaded pancakes that when cooked, by whatever means you choose, disguised a variety of fillings the temperature of molten magma. Now these weren’t haute cuisine by any stretch of the imagination, think savoury pop tarts, only hotter, but as a child I seemed to remember quite liking these things.

Today is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day of course, so this and the fact Findus (the original makers) has featured heavily in the news of late, lead me to the natural conclusion that I had to replicate these little pockets of lava.

I was late home tonight so I swung by the store on the way back and picked out ingredients for the filling I thought would be quickest to be frank. Spinach, ricotta, bacon and mushroom seemed to fit that profile and is invariably good. And so it was on…

These turned out a little bigger than I remember so I ended up making 4 and freezing two. If I could have gotten them, porcini mushrooms would have had much more flavour, but I couldn’t.

I had to make a sweet one too, I had my orders, and I went for chocolate sauce, banana and flaked almonds. This was a little easier!

For the pancakes:

  • 200g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 350ml semi-skimmed milk
  • pinch salt

For the filling:

  • 4 handfuls of spinach
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 90g smoked bacon lardon
  • 4 medium mushrooms sliced thinly
  • A little salt and chilli flakes
  • Oil
  • Garlic, finely chopped

To finish:

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp of flour
  • panko breadcrumbs (or regular ones will do fine)
  • Oil

For the sweet version:

  • 2 pancakes (as above)
  • About 200ml chocolate sauce (I bought it in)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 handfuls of almonds to serve

To make the pancakes, simply mix the ingredients in a bowl, adding the liquids to the flour and whisking as you do to avoid lumps. Stir in a good pinch of salt

In a small pan, fry the pancakes in a little oil so as they are thin and about 23cm/9 inches across. Once done, leave to go cool, they will need to be.

To make the filling, blanch the spinach in a little water until wilted. Drain, cool and squeeze out as much water as you can.

Whilst cooling, fry the bacon in a little oil, the chilli flakes and garlic with the sliced mushrooms until any water released has dried up. Set aside to cool.

Chop the spinach and mix into the ricotta. Once the bacon/mushroom mixture is cooled, at that too. Taste and season if needed.

To make the pancakes, first beat an egg in a bowl decant half to a ramekin and mix with a tsp of flour to make a ‘glue’. Spoon about two tbsp of filling onto the middle of a pancake and brush the edge all the way round with the egg/flour glue. Fold it over carefully trying to expel any trapped air.

Crispy pancake filling

Brush it with the plain egg and coat well in the breadcrumbs all over.

Fry gently in a little oil on both sides and repeat with the others!

Crispy pancake frying

For the sweet pancakes, I simply heated the chocolate sauce with a mashed ripe banana. Spread on the warm pancake (I reheated it in a fresh pan but the microwave will so) and roll up, dust with coco powder and the flaked almonds.

Pancake with chocolate sauce, banana and almonds

Fish, Prawns & Risotto

I fancied trying something a bit different tonight. I’ve been up in Scotland today and popped into a farm shop on the way back down where I picked up some some haddock fillets landed in Eyemouth. I’m a huge fan of fresh fish, but it has to be fresh. We’re lucky enough to have the North Shields Fish Quays nearby and I get over there whenever I can.

For this dish, I had four pans on the go but it was worth it. The haddock was simply grilled with a leek risotto, whole prawns and a a sauce made from their shells. I finished it off which some pickled mushrooms, an idea I got from a local occasional TV chef called Kenny Atkinson after I saw a cooking demo by him. They really finish it off and contrast the richness of the other flavors.

I was pretty pleased with the results, as was Helen, and from someone who is normally fairly indifferent to fish, that’s praise indeed!

(Serves 2)

For the fish:

  • Oil – I used rapeseed
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Risotto:

  • 1 tbsp oil & 10g butter (optional, health fans!)
  • 150g Arborio Rive
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • Glass of white wine
  • 1 medium leek, finely sliced.
  • Handful of grated parmesan cheese (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper

For the prawns/sauce:

  • 6 whole prawns
  • About 300ml chicken stock
  • Dash of Brandy or Cognac
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 15 g butter (to finish)
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped parsley

For the pickled mushrooms:

  • 100g button mushrooms cleaned and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp stock
  • 2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • Salt

Start the prawns/sauce: Add the prawns and stock to a small pan, bring gently to the boil and poach for a few minutes until cooked. Remove the prawns with a slotted spoon and peel them -apart from the tail, it just looks better… Return the peeled shells to the pan for a while to extract more flavour for 10 minutes (or as long as possible). Keep the cooked prawns to one side, they’ll be warmed through later.

Ge the risotto started: Unless you have any homemade, get the kettle on and make up some stock (I often use the little pots made up with boiling water). Put the stock in a pan/Pyrex bowl and place on a small burner on your hob to keep hot.

Add the oil to a large pan, heat, and fry the celery,  garlic and leeks. Tip in the rice and coat well in the oil. Pour in a glass of wine and stir well until absorbed. Add a ladle of the stock and stir well until nearly absorbed. Keep adding ladle-fulls and stir in the same way  for about 15-20 minutes.

Whilst doing this, prepare the pickled mushrooms: fry the mushrooms in a little oil with some salt for a minute, add the vinegars, stock and sugar. Heat until boiling then leave to simmer very gently to reduce whilst you crack on with the rest.

Keep stirring the risotto and adding the stock! You need to keep an eye on this one!

Finish the sauce off. Strain the prawn shells using a fine sieve (or muslin cloth for a clearer liquor) and discard, keeping the liquid in the pan. Add the cognac/brandy, double cream and reduce for a few minutes. Add salt to taste and the chopped parsley. Finish with the butter by whisking it in until melted away. Add the prawns to warm through gently.

Finally! Cook the fish. Heat  the grill and put the fish under, seasoned with salt and pepper and brushed with oil. They will only take a few minutes to cook. I confess, I took my eye off them and slightly over did it, but it was still good!

I served it up with the prawns on the risotto, and the sauce on the fish, with a few of the pickled mushrooms scattered round the edge.

Phew! Bit of a balancing act, this one, but well worth sticking with! Lovely with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.