Oaty, Nutty, Fruity Cookies

Oaty, Fruity, Nutty Cookies

Sunday turned out to be slightly more productive than Saturday.

For a start we went to the gym and had a very long workout. Freya started experimenting with a rug she is going to knit for the sitting room on the boat. She’s going to knit lots of offcuts of suit fabric on giant needles into a hefty rug of three colours. Early signs are that it is going to be awesome!

While she experimented I went back into the kitchen to bake.

I don’t do sweet things very often (I’m sweet enough as it is – haha) but these cookies caught my eye whilst flicking through the pages I never really look at in any cookery books – the ones at the back with the puddings in !

They are from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook. Like everything in his book they are ridiculously easy to make – so I knocked up a batch.

All you do is beat some crunchy peanut butter with some runny honey, then add an egg, some bicarbonate of soda, raisins and porridge oats until you have a gooey gloop.

Blob the gloop (dessertspoon sized) in the oven on some baking parchment and bake for about 10 minutes. When they are done cool them on a wire rack. Couldn’t be easier could it! Again – one bowl – one spatula/spoon. No washing up – dead easy.

They are lovely and chewy. Nice and soft. And so peanutty. I don’t usually like peanuts but these were amazing. I think the raisins just sweetened them up enough for me to change my point of view.

It does say in the book that these are best eaten within 2 to 3 days. We made 10. They lasted 2 – 3 hours. I think I’ll make some more today!

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto - Plate

Saturday was a day of plans. We had a long list of things to do – as always – and didn’t really get many of them done. Aside from catching up on sleep and not surfacing till well after 11am we didn’t really get going until after some particularly awesome bacon and fried egg bagels. Not the most healthy of foods but you have to treat yourself once in a while.

After spending most of the afternoon tidying up the kitchen I set to making this awesome dish. I don’t really think you can mess this up. It takes time – but it isn’t attended time. You just have lots of baking to do – and waiting in the meantime.

We spent the afternoon and evening watching Red Cliff. It’s a two part – 5 hours in all – Chinese epic by John Woo. If you haven’t seen it you should. If you end up watching the cut 90 minute version then sad times for you – you missed out on 5 hours of amazing cinema.

This recipe is – you guessed it – also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy book. It certainly is easy.

Simply quarter and roast some shallots with some thyme in an ovenproof casserole until they are soft – almost caramelising. Add chestnut mushrooms, garlic and balsamic vinegar and roast some more. Finally add stock and risotto rice and roast until the stock has absorbed into the rice. It took about an hour for me.

I have to say half way through I didn’t think it was going to work – but in the remaining 15 minutes all the stock got absorbed into the rice and it was a gorgeous gloopy consistency just like a proper risotto.

Oven Baked Shallot and Mushroom Risotto - Pan

You’ll note there is not cheese or dairy in this at all. It’s very healthy indeed. There’s only a tablespoon of oil in the whole thing!  And it tastes just as good as any risotto you’ll eat.

There’s a serving suggestion of drizzling chilli oil over it – but we didn’t bother with that. I didn’t have any – didn’t want to make it – and decided that Freya might not enjoy the chilli addition.

As easy dishes go, this really is. Barely any washing up. Essentially a one pot dish. One knife quartered the onions and chopped up the mushrooms into large chunks – but that’s it. A very tidy dish. I’ll certainly be making it again.

Parsnip, Chorizo, Kale and Lentils

Parsnip, Chorizo, Kale and Lentils

After our gym workout and eggnog I threw this together in about 20 minutes. It really only has four ingredients – those in the title. There is a little rapeseed oil and rosemary too.

This very quick and easy dinner comes courtesy of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (again) and the River Cottage Light and Easy book. I love this book. I’ve yet to find anything challenging or time consuming – and that’s what you want when you don’t get in until 9pm on a Friday night.

This is a genius dish and is all done in one pan. Just grab a big pan and fry some sliced parsnips with chopped rosemary until they take on some colour. Then add the chorizo and let the oils and the spice work their way into the veg. Finally stir in the kale and pre-cooked Puy Lentils and wait for the kale to wilt – all the while stiring the pan.

And that’s it. Significantly less time than it took to make eggnog! Took me 10 minutes to beat egg whites!

We ate this whilst watching The Maze Runner. Not a very impressive film in my opinion but I think I’ve been spoilt by good films of late. Tonight I think we are going to start with the 4 hour epic Red Cliff!

Anyway, this is very tasty and a very filling meal. I loved it. Freya found it a little salty but I think that was my fault with the seasoning. We munched through it in no time. I’ll definitely be making this again – probably very soon given I have all the same ingredients left over and need to use them up!

Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Last night was Film Club night – we watched Frida. It’s very good – you should watch it!

Most Film Club nights end up with us nipping over to Moes (poor mans Nandos) for half a chicken and rice because we haven’t got any food left over from lunchtime.

I was better prepared this week and made this pesto which, when mixed with white beans and served on lettuce leaves, makes for a very nice snack. It probably would have gone very well with some chicken from Moes!

Pesto has undergone quite the transformation over the years. My first recollections of it were the Sacla jars which you would stir through some pasta when you were too lazy to cook anything proper. Since then everyone and his dog has been making their own jars of the stuff, including Jamie Oliver and Lloyd Grossman. I’ve always found them very vinegary or jar/tin tasting which I imagine is down to the preservatives they add.

I always understood pesto to be basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan blended with olive oil but it is seems that the current trend is to call any blend of herb, nut, oil and cheese a pesto. Strictly these variations aren’t pestos – but then again there’s lots of fizzy white wines passing themselves off as champagne these days!

I’ve made many different types in the last year, ones with coriander, parsley, different cheeses, different oils and a variety of nuts. This pesto from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’  is another variation on a theme – but its one of the best I’ve made.

Simply blend parsley leaves, garlic, a tin of anchovies (oil as well), walnuts, some rapeseed oil and a little lemon juice to taste and you’re done.

If you have a Nutribullet you can made this in less than a minute and it will be very smooth.

I’ve copied Hugh’s serving suggestion of stirring through some white beans and laying on some lettuce leaves.

I loved this. It has a real punch to it. Many pestos are quite bland but this is far from it. The anchovy really packs in flavour. Just don’t add more salt – anchovies are salty enough as it is.

There was quite a bit left over which I imagine we will use up with some feta and salad in our tortilla wraps for lunch today.

So far I’m really enjoying this book. Simply cooking. Great taste. That’s what we all need when we have little time to spare.

Brussels Sprouts with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Brussels with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Freya and I were discussing our eating strategy for work yesterday. Sounds complex but it isn’t really.

When I started this blog we lived in the middle of nowhere and going out was too much effort – so we just stayed in – watched box sets – and cooked every day – which meant we had ‘lunch’ for work the next day in the form of leftovers (or something made specifically for lunch).

Since autumn last year this changed. We go out at least 4 times a week and often don’t eat at home. Tuesdays we go dancing until late – and Thursdays we have film Club at work. Consequently we had no food and ended up in the awful situation yesterday of having to go out in the freezing cold for lunch that we didn’t really want – and waiting ages for it as well. On top of that it always costs us £10 or more for the privilege and we lose an hour of our day (at least).

So last night I resolved that we would always have something for lunch by being better prepared – and this is where this dish came from – made whilst watching Broadchurch Season 2 Episode 3 last night. Broadchurch is far more ‘soap-opera-extreme’ this season – it’s very intense!

Anyway – back to the food. This dish is as easy as (and very similar to) the Broccoli and Beans that I made for dinner yesterday – and is from the same ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’ cookbook by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.

Simply roast some brussels sprouts with a little oil and seasoning until they start to char a bit and look done. While they are cooking prepare some Puy lentils. I cheated with a ready made sachet from ‘Merchant Gourmet’ – not through laziness – more through my local Morrisons not having anything else.

Then made a dressing (again very similar to the Broccoli dish) of oil, garlic, mustard, lemon juice (no egg yolk this time) an pour it over the lentils. Finally mix the lentil mix with the brussels and stir through some chopped walnuts.

Couldn’t be easier. We ate it at room temperature (as recommended in the book) and it tastes yummy. It got a few jealous looks while we ate it at work. And a few bemused looks from those that had never seen those ingredients combined like that before.

One of the sad things about cooking late at night on a poorly lit boat is the standard of food photography. I’ll seek to improve this somehow!

Roast Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

I wanted something very simple for dinner today and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s new book ‘River Cottage – Light & Easy’ had just what I needed. Most of the recipes I’ve shortlisted from this book look easy. Barely cooking at all – more throw some stuff together. Just what you want when it’s freezing cold outside and you’ve just spent an hour heating up a very cold boat!

I couldn’t get hold of Purple Sprouting Broccoli so I used tenderstem broccoli instead.

This is so easy. Just preheat an oven, roast some broccoli with a little oil and seasoning for 10 minutes, add white beans and sunflower seeds and cook for another 2 minutes.

While that’s doing make a dressing of a little garlic, cider vinegar, english mustard, oil and a little sugar. I added an egg yolk to mine – which pretty much makes a hollandaise.

Then simply serve the beans and drizzle the dressing on top.

This is pretty awesome – very tasty – and was done in less than 15 minutes. Just my sort of dinner. I think this could end up in the ‘go to’ pile.

I thought there would be enough for lunch tomorrow – but we had seconds and polished it all off!