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My Recipe Archive 2- Chorizo salad and chicken rissoles

This is from last weekend but I have only just got round to writing it up. Obviously my “one archive recipe a week” has gone down the pan (as it were) but I am persevering…. No photos, sorry!

I used two recipes from my recipe archive- the first, Warm Chorizo and salad from Sophie Grigson’s Eat Your Greens, published in 1993. I had to adapt the recipe (  originally for 6) and my version goes something like this-

1/2 a standard supermarket chorizo ring,

Romaine lettuce


2 shallots

red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Some olive oil if necessary.

Anja potatoes, unpeeled, cut in half.

Sophie’s original recipe calls for frisee lettuce or dandelion leaves but neither were available. The key word here is “robust”- this is an earthy salad. Potatoes don’t feature in the original recipe at all but I wanted to make a meal of it and anja potatoes have the right earthy quality.

Skin the chorizo and cut into chunks. Place in a frying pan over a low heat- the idea is to extract as much fat as possible. I like my chorizo on the point of being burnt!

Put the potatoes into some boiling water and cook until tender but still firm.

Tear up thee lettuce and chuck into a large salad bowl. Add the shallots.

Go back to the frying pan and add the garlic. Add the vinegar and swirl it all around. Add some salt and pepper. Drain the potatoes and add, still hot to the lettuce and pour  the chorizo and all its juices over the salad. Mix vigorously and add some olive oil if necessary.

It might not be what Sophie had in mind, but like all good cook books, Eat Your Greens provokes you to try different things.

Another problem with following recipes these days is that so much of our food is packaged and it is difficult to match exact quantities…hence I suppose, the rise in the supermarket recipes, adapted to the good and quantities they prescribe for their own benefit. In cooking and, in life in general, we need to relearn the art of improvisation. Jazz cooking!

To go with this we had Chicken Rissoles stuffed with Fontana (gruyere) This is from a recipe torn out of the Guardian probably 15 years ago. I haven’t got a creator for this recipe- if you recognise it as your own please let me know and I will add a credit..

Here is the recipe:

350g very good quality herby sausages such as Cumberland

400g minced chicken breast

A large handful fresh white breadcrumbs

2 large cloves of garlic

6 large fresh sage leaves finely chopped

fresh parsley, chopped

100gr fontina or gruyere cheese

22ml of chicken sock

juice of a lemon.

De skin the sausages and add the meat to a mixing bowl. Add the minced chicken, breadcrumbs, garlic, sage and parsley. Season then squeeze the mixture together with your hands. Put aside for 1/2 hr to blend and mix.

Put a heaped tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of you hand then press a cube of the cheese into the middle. Scoop up a second spoonful and squash it on top of the cheese,forming a tight patty Repeat until you have 8 patties.

Heat some oil in a shallow pan and cook the patties until lightly browned (3/4 mins) Transfer into a flame proof dish and pour in the stock. Bake in oven for 35 mins or until there is no sign of pink inside.

Transfer the meatballs into a warm dish .Put the baking dish over a high heat and let the stock bubble.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and reduce by half until slightly syrupy. Return the rissoles to the pan then place in oven for 5 mins.

Well I improvised a bit of course. The pack of sausages came to 400gr and the chicken, 250. I have fresh sage in the garden and used this. Don’t be tempted to use dry sage- it is horrible! If you can’t get fresh sage use sage infused sausages- the sage taste is important in this dish.

I used breadcrumbs I had from the freezer- how much bread do we waste?

I ended up with 4 patties using the same sort of quantities in the recipe which is fine. But probably didn’t use enough cheese as it wasn’t oozing enough.

The 2 dishes together produced a great earthy, tasty meal.

Remember, the key is to improvise…..


My recipe archive- an introduction

My recipe archive 1 – pot roast chicken with tomatoes and garlic

Check out all recipes in “What’s cookin”

Most popular- collecting and cooking mussels


My Recipe Archive 1- Pot-roast chicken with tomatoes and garlic.

For an explanation of the My Recipe Archive series, click here:

This recipe is typical of the recipes I like- more of a cooking method with a few suggestions. It is also typical of what I want to achieve this year- extending my range of “usual suspect” of cooking, simple and doable, tasty and varied. No precision cooking here- if you want fine dining ideas then please follow someone else…

This recipe is from the Guardian from about 10-15 years ago. I don’t have the author’s name but if any one knows it, please get in touch so that I can add it later. I think the recipe was one of a set of suggestions for holiday home cooking- as I say, simple, use what you’ve got, enjoy the eating as well as the cooking.

I will be cooking this tonight- after I’ve cooked and eaten it I will add photos and comments….. Here is the recipe-

1 large chicken

a good handful of local herbs

extra virgin olive oil

450g of ripe tomatoes

1 large onion

2 cloves of garlic

150ml dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark4. Put the chicken  in a large, heavy casserole with as much of the oil as your conscience will allow. Tuck the herbs in around the sides of the bird. Core the tomatoes and cut into halves or quarters and chop or slice the onion and garlic as thin or as thick as you like. Dump everything into the pot with the chicken, season with salt and pepper, pour in the wine. Use more or less as you deem appropriate. Cook in the centre of the oven for 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hrs. Serve with bread and a bottle or two of something appropriate.


So how did it go…..

Firstly, I’d say these aren’t the sort of tomatoes the author had in mind-


Super chilled supermarket fare- with foresight and planning would have got (In Derby) plum tomatoes from the Pak Store  Best place for fresh fruit and veg, spices…. (no commercial link, just think they are great….)

The herbs were local- thyme and rosemary from the pots by the kitchen door-


I have to say I added to much wine. This is because I chose the wrong bottle from the fridge. But this is what it looked like in the pan before…

SAM_5285and after….SAM_5286And on the plate….SAM_5287

I have to say that this is a very tasty way to cook chicken, especially if it not of the best quality. (Free range but I suspect, only just…) All the parts of the bird were juicy and tender. I thickened some of the sauce but not sure that was necessary; just using more bread to soak up the juices would have done.

I was about to write: ” a success” but that is not the point. Not every meal has to be great. The important thing for me is trying and experimenting, and on that basis, yes, a success.

Plenty of leftovers- a pasta dish tomorrow and any left over sauce will become chicken stock in the freezer.


Update 30/01/15

I am cooking this again tonight but added dried tarragon instead of the garden herbs above. I recommend buying dried tarragon- it seems to maintain its aroma and taste for a very long time. I bought this jar years ago and keep expecting it to fade but it never does! Ideal with tomatoes and with chicken. As I am on my own tonight I will use some of the chicken with added passata and taglietelle and save the bulk for a meal tomorrow.

My Recipe Archive: Introduction.


Over the years I have inherited and collected 1,000s of recipes. At one stage, over 15 years ago, I went to part time work and did a lot of cooking and buying cook books from (now gone) second hand book shops.

Over the years this collection has faded and yellowed and, in some cases, literally turned to dust. I suspect that I am not the only one out here who, on a day to day basis, resort to a handful of dishes- well known, safe and easy to prepare after a day at work. When pushed to find a recipe it is usually to google that I turn to, rather than my own archive..

My resolve is to dip into my recipe archive at least once a week and explore my own heritage. My preference is for simple dishes where precision is not a prerequisite for success. Slow cooked or quickly prepared, using cheaper cuts of meat, food for the soul as well as the body….

I will be posting my attempts on here so why not follow and check on my progress. As always, comments welcome. I will post the original recipe then cook and eat and add photos and comments. My food photography isn’t brilliant but I am now following cookingwithoutlimits so hopefully you will see some improvements…

And my first recipe is……..

Courgettes: a European problem.

On the first day of our holiday in the Limousin, France, we were innocently shopping in the local village when a woman parked up her van and hailed us. She brought out two large courgettes and came over, pleading with us to take the courgettes-nearly marrow-sized- as she had had enough of the things. Apparently her freezer was full of variously prepared courgettes and she could take it no more.

I couldn’t think of a polite way of refusing, so we took the courgettes off her hands.

We did what we could in the limited confines of a holiday cottage but we still only managed to get through half of one courgette. We even tried to pass one off to the owners of our cottage but they too had a glut.

In the back of my mind I was thinking of our own courgette plants in Derby and, knowing that our house guest would probably not be harvesting our crops, I feared the worst.

And I was right to-


This is the crop I came back to… Now at this stage they are too watery to do much with so I will have a goat making some soup.

But the incident reminded me of the good old EEC days when we were regularly (or so it seemed) regaled with stories of European food mountains; mainly milk and butter. But we should now revive the mountains and add a courgette mountain. I’m sure some of British papers could find a way of blaming faceless EU bureaucrats for the excess of courgettes- or would that be making a mountain out of a, well, pile of courgettes?

More posts on our French holiday to come.

Mostly today I have been cooking/preparing food….

Went to the local Coop and bought:

  • A gammon joint
  • 1kg of carrots (1/2 price in the sell by section)
  • 2 large courgettes (ditto)
  • A bunch of celery (ditto)
  • 3 large Spanish onions.

Had time on my hands and wanted distraction from thoughts whirring through my head so set about cooking, preparing and preserving. This is what I did….

First, I soaked the gammon in several changes of water. This is necessary to get rid of the excess salt whatever the wrapper says. Patience.

I then decided to make a Mirepoix mix to freeze and use later for soups and stews.

1 Large Spanish onion, roughly chopped

2 sticks of celery chopped

1 clove of garlic

3 medium sized carrots, diced

Add to a bowl and sprinkle with white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt,  and a pinch of dried tarragon. Toss, put on a tray and place in freezer. This will enable me to take a handful out when needed. Transferred to freezer bag.


On to the courgettes. Also for freezing.

I sliced them, put in a bowl and added salt. Dried with paper towel. Added a drop of oil to a pan and gently heated up the courgette. The aim was to soften and slightly brown the courgette, turning once. Dried on paper towel and, like the mirepoix put on a tray in the top shelf of the freezer. Will use to make ratatouille , add to tomato sauce or pasta. It won’t look pretty but hope it is tasty!

Onto the gammon. Drain and add fresh water to cover. Added courgette tops, a carrot, 1/2 onion, some celery, 2 bay leaves and some pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for…never good at timings… an hr won’t hurt..


Take out the gammon, strain and reserve the juice. Taste and add seasoning if necessary.


Some carrot soup now (non vegetarian).

Chopped up about 6 carrots, 1/2 onion and a couple of slices of the celery.

Fried in some oil- I used what was left after frying the courgettes- toss and add a generous sprinkling of dried coriander and some pepper. When onion softened and taken on some colour, transfer to a pot and ladle on reserved gammon juice; enough to cover then a bit more. Bring to boil then simmer until the carrots are soft.

Put the vedge through blender with some of the juice to make a tasty, thick soup. Taste,adjust seasoning and add more liquid if necessary. I will probably have this tomorrow, maybe with a dollop of cream and some fresh coriander.


Blanched and froze the rest of the carrots- bar one which I will have tonight. Oh yes- tea/dinner/supper tonight? Fried potatoes and gammon in a white sauce using rest of onion. And a carrot.

All very time consuming but today I had the time and the inclination. And will have ready made ingredients for future meals when time is at a premium.

Bon appetit.

For other food experiments and experiences, click on the “What’s cookin?” link at top of page.

I have some minced beef, 1/2 tomato, a stick of celery, an onion and some potato. I wonder how it will turn out.


This is what I did:

Peeled and thinly sliced a couple of potatoes,

Added to a pan, covered with water, added the celery stick and tomato- both well past their best. Brought to the boil.

Fried the mince, some onion and garlic in some bacon fat from this morning.

Drained the potatoes, reserving the water. Place half the potatoes at the bottom of an oven proof dish.

Added the reserved water, bit at a time to the mince. Added seasoning seasoning and a few chilli flakes. Boiled ’til sauce thickened.

Poured into the dish, topped with the rest of the potatoes and added grated cheese and breadcrumbs from the freezer.

Shoved into the oven until ready. A good supper from ingredients to hand. An enjoyable supper. Cheers.

Note: Overcooked the potatoes; should be just undercooked.

Strong taste of celery which I enjoyed but others might find too strong.


Euro 2012 Meals

   With the Euros on, the challenge is going to     be to eat “proper food” during the football fest. It has been suggested of course, shamefully, that the role of the woman during football tournaments is to be supportive of the man in the house, provide sympathy, understanding, tolerance and food on the table. That is not going to work in our ‘hold. Firstly, I like to cook. You may have noticed. Secondly, my partner is even more keen than I to watch all the games, is far more passionate than me. Thirdly, well it just is not the way we do things here. No doubt we will resort to takeaways at some stages of the proceedings. Hopefully the weather will pick up and we can have the salads we had planned… In the meantime, the challenge I have set myself is to provide a main meal for two, between the games (I have already stretched this to 8.00pm tonight..)

In addition, I will try to update this page everyday (ish) to show off the food provided and maybe add a word or two to the pictures. Please feel free to add comments and serving suggestions.

Day 1. Poland v Greece    Russia v CCzech Republic. 08/06/12

Gammon, carrots and French beans, new potatoes with a white sauce.

Nothing too spectacular here- unlike the games! Bought a gammon joint and soaked for a long time with plenty of changes of water. Then boiled, with an onion, an old tomato past its best, some cloves, pepper and a bay leaf.I let this simmer for, oh quite a while really and let it sit in the juices with the heat off. Nothing precise with my cooking….

Drain the meat, reserving the liquid. This can be used (watered down, still very salty ) to cook the veg and then that water used to make the white sauce.

Managed to serve this between games. Great TV dinner. Result.

Day 2. Holland v Denmark   Germany v Portugal 09/06/12

Sausage and lentils.

Nothing special here. Used some of the gammon water (see above) diluted again to cook the lentils. Added some garlic and onion (the first from our garden!) and some chilli  flakes.  Slow fry the sausages, add the lentils and a dollop of yoghurt. A bit of bread. Hearty meal.

Note 1. Had to keep popping out from the Holland/Denmark game to make sure the lentils didn’t boil dry. Luckily it was not the most interesting game!

Note 2. For #derbyuk viewers: The bread shown is sour dough bread from Baked Derby   Worth a visit.

Day 3   Spain v Italy  Ireland v Croatia 10/06/12

Reading the Observer Magazine this morning and Nigel Slater’s recipe for Summer vegetable  sauté leapt of the page. Firstly it includes cooked ham and we have some left over from the other day. (see above.) Plus I had some frozen Tarragon bought from the local coop as a “sell by” bargain.It’s a simple format that fits into the required time scale and which I can adapt when the garden begins to bear fruit. ( as it were…) So here is Nigel’s recipe

I didn’t stick to the recipe of course and don’t believe that Nigel would expect me to…. so here are a few notes.

  • H does not like asparagus so that is out of the window..
  • I disregarded quantities. After all, a courgette is a courgette, not a 200gr unit. So I just threw in the quantities that looked right.
  • I added the oil  a bit at a time: a small amount with the peppers, most with the courgettes and the topping up when tomatoes went in.

I’m having mine with some fusilli, H with some Baked_Derby sourdough. (see above.) And here it is:

…served up on time.

Footnote: Bit disappointing in the end. I think this dish needs to be with very fresh vegetables. For instance, the courgettes Nigel used seem to be very small; difficult to get in the shops right now. Equally, the carrots I got from the coop were tasteless.

I will try a version of this when I can get  the courgettes, tomatoes, broad beans from the garden.


Well, good intentions and everything!!! When I embarked on this project it was 1/2 term and then the weekend. Back to school on the Monday with lots of reports to write. Very little time to actually do the cooking, let alone add to this post…. I will try and recap now…

Day 4     11/06/12  France v England, Ukraine v Sweden

The pressure is on… We call upon Mr Marks and Mr Spencer who provide us with a leek and gruyere tart (me) and a salmon and broccoli quiche (H).

I should add that those potatoes are home grown- by me- as is some of the lettuce. Not a bad compromise..

Day 5   12/06/12  Greece v Czech Republic, Poland v Russia.

Should have been hot dogs and sauerkraut really but….We settled for meatballs and spaghetti. Normally I would have used pork mince for this, but had some beef mince to use up. Apart from some seasoning, I added some breadcrumbs (useful to have some ready in the freezer, from some past its best bread) and an egg.

Day 6.   13/06/12  Denmark v Portugal, Netherlands v Germany

Chicken tonight!


Chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces, marinaded in rapeseed oil, lemon juice and garlic.Later, fried with some chorizo and served up with couscous. Very simple, very tasty…

Day 7  14/06/12  Italy v Croatia, Spain v Ireland.

We seem to be reliant on minced beef…. Tonight, Mexican tortillas, with, er, minced beef, salad, salsa (bought) and cheese. Closest to a take-away so far.


Day 8 15/06/12 Ukraine v France, Sweden v England.

We’ll pass on this one. Quick bowl of pasta in pesto sauce before going out to watch the England match at the pub…

Day 9 16/06/12 Czech Republic v Poland, Greece v Russia.

Is it cheating to go round to some friends for a meal? I don’t think so. Especially when the food served up is as good as this…

We had Leon spicy chicken, griddled aubergines, slow roasted tomatoes, rocket salad and homemade flatbreads. The photo doesn’t do the meal justice. We even had a pudding:


Baked apple and a cheeseboard. Great, social eating. Shame about result; I had some money on Russia….


And that, basically, is when I lose track. We did carry on eating, but the days and the menus are blurred. As are the matches. It was a good idea (I think) but I couldn’t maintain the pace. Life takes over. And to be honest, you lot showed little interest in the project!

A highlight was on Thursday. We were in St Andrews for our son’s graduation and, rather than opting for a fancy restaurant, son G wanted to cook a lamb tagine to be shared with family and friends. If we have done nothing else, we have passed on the idea that food is to be shared and savoured.We didn’t watch the football but, tou’ll be pleased to know, we did solve all the problems of the world.

Tonight (23/06/12) we will hopefully see France beat Spain. Tired after a 2 day road trip St Andrews in the rain and wind, neither of us could think what to eat tonight. I ended up buying- yes, you guessed it- some minced beef. I had in mind a lazy “spag bol”  Not particularly happy with this option I hunted around and ended up making a simple meatloaf.The recipe I based it on is here . I didn’t have all the herbs recommended but it tastes good-

The other amendment I made to the recipe was putting the mix through a food processor to whiz it all up into a smooth paste. We will be having this with homegrown potatoes and salad.

No more updates here. We have more football and the Tour De France to come and tricky culinary decisions to make. If I come up with anything spectacular, I will let you know.

If you have any ideas for good food to eat during or in-between sporting events, do let me know!


Asparagus and bacon in a cheese sauce with potatoes.

Someone on Twitter asked for a recipe for bacon and asparagus. I sent him the above picture and realised I hadn’t posted the recipe as intended. This then made me ask myself why I want to blog about food in the first place. I am not really a cook and not methodical enough to produce prescriptive recipes. There are lots of people who do that; why do I think there is a place for my posts in the blogosphere?

Well I’m just a small voice amongst many who think it is important to talk about using leftovers, getting the most out of ingredients and having the confidence to improvise. Frugal cooking.

I enjoy asparagus but only the young, tender shoots. So this recipe probably comes too late for this season.In fact, instead of calling this a recipe I will call it a serving suggestion.

Place the asparagus upright in a pan of boiling water; the spears just above the water line and cover. This should take a minute or so. Reserve the water.

Line an ovenproof dish with about 6 slices of good quality bacon, and lay the asparagus on top. Use some of the asparagus water with some milk and cheese to make a cheese sauce. I am not an expert on cheese sauce so look one up. It should not be too thick though and use of asparagus water is important here.  Par boil some potatoes in the rest of the asparagus water.

Pour the sauce over the asparagus and bacon. Fold the bacon slices over the asparagus and hold together with cocktail sticks.

Add the potatoes to dish and shove in the oven. It’s ready when it is ready…and delicious..


My Spring cabbage has gone to seed….

Rather than hearting up, my spring cabbage has gone to seed. I have left a couple  in to see what happens to them but i have dug the rest up as I need the space….

Rather than compost all the leaves I have picked the best, shredded the leaves and placed in slow cooker with an onion, a potato, a cup of water and a gammon joint. A bit of nutmeg and some lemon juice.

When the cabbage is cooked, will remove the gammon joint to roast in the oven..

I’ll let you know how it goes…