Messy Macho Mexican

Sick of the sight of hearts, pink and anything romantic? Want to fill your face with big piles of big piles of messy, unrefined food you can chomp away on with a couple of beers. We have the perfect thing - Dude Food, or Mexican food as it is more commonly known. 

We saw a great article on the Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog the other week which quoted Simon Doonan’s book Gay Men Don’t Get Fat and had this amazing quote 'Mexican food is unbelievably macho. As delicious as a burrito is, it is basically a cross between a turd and a penis'. 

So if after Valentine’s Day your in the need of a little macho mess, we’ve got just the thing for you. And ladies, we’re talking to you too!

There’s nothing better than piling up your own wrap full of smokey, spicy meat and sharp, tangy sweet salsas and eating it with the juices dripping down your hand. 

Plus, this is also a great recipe to make if you have left over roast chicken after a Sunday, quick and easy but a little bit different. 

Ingredients (feeds 4 very hungry people, or 6 with normal appetite) 

- 1 whole chicken (choose size depending on how many you’re feeding)

- 1 red onion

- 2 cloves of garlic

- 1 can of chopped tomatoes

- 1 fresh red chilli 

- pinch of smoked paprika

- pinch of ground cinnamon

- pinch of chilli powder

- 2 dried chipotles

- 1 bay leaf

- a small pinch of brown sugar

For the salsa 

- 7 or 8 large ripe tomatoes

- 1 sweet red pointed pepper

- handful of coriander

- 1 clove of garlic

- juice from 1 lime

- 1 red chilli

- splash of olive oil

- pinch of salt

To serve

- 24 flat breads/ flour tortillas 

- shredded lettuce

- guacamole 

1. Begin by roasting your chicken, cover with olive oil and put in an oven at 200c for 1 hour 20 minutes. 

2. While the chicken is cooking prepare your salsa, very finely chop the tomatoes, sweet pepper, chilli, garlic and coriander and place in a bowl. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and add a dash of olive oil and mix well. You can give it a gentle mash whilst stirring to further release the juices from the tomatoes. Season with sea salt. 

3. Add some olive oil to a frying pan and add the spices, bay leaf and chopped chilli - let them flavour the oil for around 30 seconds before adding the diced red onion and fry until it softens. After a few minutes, add the garlic and continue to fry. 

4. Add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of brown sugar plus the 2 chipotles to the frying pan and leave to simmer for around half an hour. 

5. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and shred the meat into the tomato sauce including the leg meat.

Your sauce should have reduced and have a rich and intense flavour by now, stir the chicken into the sauce so it is all coated - it shouldn’t be too wet but enough sauce to flavour all the meat. 

6. Serve the chicken up in a big dish that everyone can pick out of with some flatbreads, salsa and guacamole and some torn up lettuce for a flavoursome Mexican feast. 

Valentines Dinner - Steak & Chips, Peppercorn Sauce with Homemade Onion Rings

When people think of a romantic meal steak is often one of the first things that comes to mind. We have wondered why this is, what is it about a big hunk of bloody red meat that represents heartfelt love and sweet nothings? 

On the one hand perhaps it represents our baser instincts and lets the boys feel all manly eating a slab of juicy meat. On the other, perhaps it is because everyone sees steak as a luxury food only to be eaten on the most special of occasions making it perfect for that intimate valentines night in. 

Either way, we don’t want to ruin a special occasion by over thinking things - that would be rude and we were taught never to refuse food, ESPECIALLY when it was a steak. 

However whilst the steak was of course fantastic (it’s all about buying good quality meat), the show stopper was the home made peppercorn sauce and onion rings. Those babys came out of the fryer with crispy batter and sweet & soft onion inside, a really guilty pleasure. And if you can’t have a guilty, indulgence treat on Valentine’s Day then when can you?

If you are looking for some extra special, we recommend trying out these Venison Rump Steaks. 

Valentine’s Night Steak, Chips, Peppercorn Sauce & Onion Rings

Serves 2 (3 is a crowd on Valentine’s Day) 

For the steak: 

2 rump steaks

salt and black pepper

olive oil for frying

For the onion rings:

2 large onions

vegetable oil for deep frying

100g plain flour

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp oil

150ml milk

1 egg white

For the peppercorn sauce:

1 shallot

1 tsp of roughly crushed black peppercorns

100ml double cream

3tbsp beef stock

1 tbsp coarse grain mustard

50g mushrooms

butter 

For the chips:

2 or 3 large floury potatoes e.g. maris piper

sea salt

a few sprigs of rosemary

rocket to serve 

1. Start by peeling and slicing your potatoes into the size and shape of your desired chip. Heat your oven to 200c and place the sliced potatoes on an oven proof tray, sprinkle with salt and rosemary and pop in the oven for 40 minutes. Give them a shake every so often so they don’t stick.  

2. To make the batter for the onion rings, sift the flour with a pinch of salt into a bowl and make a hole in the middle. Put the egg yolks and oil and milk and mix to a smooth batter. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes. 

3. For the peppercorn sauce, slice the mushrooms and shallot and melt a small amount of butter in a frying pan, add the shallots and mushrooms and on a low heat fry until softened. Add the peppercorns, stock, mustard and cream and leave on a low heat to reduce down. 

4. The steaks should be cooked in a large non-stick griddle or frying pan, season and brush lightly with oil. Depending on how you like the steak, fry on either side evenly - a rare steak takes around 2 1/2 minutes on either side. 

5. Once cooked to your liking, place on a plate and cover to keep warm and rest. 

6. Back to the onion rings, peel and slice the onions lengthways to make rings, and coat with the batter. You should heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan and only ever fill it 1/3 full. When the oil gets to 180 degrees place each battered onion ring in for 3 to 4 minutes - they should come out looking lovely, golden and crisp. Place onto some kitchen towel to drain off any extra oil. 

Plate everything together and add a handful of rocket for some colour and there you have a wonderful Valentine’s meal. 

The Ultimate Chilli Con Carne Recipe

Chilli con carne is a dish that has changed drastically from its original appearance and taste. We have fully customised it to our own tastes and preferences and defend this as a proper chilli as stated on pub menus around the country but an authentic chilli con carne is very different. 

It was first made by American frontier settlers and used dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers and salt which was pounded together then formed into bricks which could easily be carried on the trail. Puts our train food to shame. 

Luckily for you this isn’t the recipe we will be sharing with you and instead is inspired by the era of the Chilli Queens. In the 1880s Mexican women would sell large pots of chilli around the downtown market square of San Antonio and it is from here it spread across the USA and developed its reputation as a true taste of the American South. 

Great fact, did you know that chilli is the official dish of Texas? They really must love it there. 

Amazingly the points of contention when it comes to an authentic chilli are what some people see as the two defining elements. No, don’t be ridiculous we aren’t talking about the beef, rather the inclusion of either beans or tomatoes. 

The inclusion of beans has been a matter of dispute even thought they have been associated with the dish from the early 20th century. The inclusion in the dish makes a lot of sense, beef being a relatively expensive ingredient, for many people it would be necessary to pad the dish out. 

Tomatoes again are not necessarily an essential ingredient, instead many traditional recipes use coffee, beer or stock. We couldn’t quite bear to let this one go as we think a small amount of tomatoes adds a richer flavour to your chilli sauce so instead included a combination of coffee, stock and tomatoes. But instead of having a sloppy sauce we reduced it right down to intensify the flavour. 

And another variation from the classic chilli you will know so well is the meat. We didn’t use mince instead we opted for beef shin which is perfect for slow cooking until it is so tender it falls apart. 

So this is a recipe for the ultimate authentic chilli con carne.

We’re still serving it with rice and wraps though, we haven’t gone that wild. 

Ultimate Authentic Chili Con Carne 

Serves 2 with leftovers

500g Beef Shin

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled sliced and quartered

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

1 yellow pepper

2 chipotle chillies ( we used these beauties from the Hot Stuff Chilli Co)

1 ancho chilli (again available from Hot Stuff Chilli here)

1 fresh green chilli

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika 

1 tsp chocolate powder (we used this brilliant stuff from Mortimer Chocolate Co)

200ml freshly brewed coffee

500m beef stock

Half a can of chopped tomatoes

1. Chop the beef shin into chunks and brown on all sides in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the onions and fry until they are golden brown. Add in the chopped pepper, celery, carrot and garlic as well as the fresh green chilli and continue to fry. 

2. Remove the stalks and seeds from the ancho and chipotle and finely chop or crush in a pestle and mortar and add to the pot as well as the cumin, paprika, oregano, chocolate powder and the coffee stock and chopped tomatoes. Stir and leave to simmer with the lid on for 2 hours occasionally checking there’s enough liquid. 

3. After two hours take the lid off the pot and let the sauce reduce down for 30 minutes. The beef should now be very tender, take two forks and pull them through the meat until it is shredded it. 

You’ll never go back to mince and beans once you’ve tried a chilli like this. It’s also amazing with salsa and home made tortilla chips. 

Hearty & Healthy Chorizo, Lentil and Butterbean Soup Recipe

This soup is so hearty it could really be classed as a stew  - lots of lentils and butter beans means it’s super filling and keeps you from snacking in the boring afternoons. We made a huge vat of it on a sunday and enjoyed it at lunch all week long. The chilli flakes means it has a little kick, combined with the smokey chorizo flavours it could be the perfect warming winter soup. 

We used our favourite Original Yorkshire Chorizo, however if you wanted to give yours that extra spicy flavour try out the Yorkshire Picante Chorizo

Chorizo, Lentil & Butterbean Soup

Serves 6 

160g Yorkshire Original Chorizo

6 tbsp Puy Lentils

420g (1 can) Butterbeans

3 Sticks of Celery

3 Carrots

1 Large Onion - sliced

1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes

1 Litre of Chicken Stock 

1 tsp of Smoked Paprika 

Pinch of Dried Chilli Flakes

Salt and Black Pepper

1. Heat oil in a deep pan, slice the chorizo then chop the slices roughly into smaller pieces, fry for 5 minutes then add the sliced onion and fry for a further 5 minutes until the onion is soft and golden. 

2. Chop the celery and carrots into small chunks and add to the pan and fry  with the onions and chorizo until they start to soften. 

3. Add the lentils, butter beans, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, paprika, chilli flakes and season with salt and pepper then leave to simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked through. 

This soup is a meal in itself but it’s gorgeous with a hunk of buttered bread dipped in. 

Healthy Recipes - Salmon, Lentils & Spinach

O this time of year is full of people talking about eating healthily, New Years resolutions and how we should all be treating our bodies better. Well you aren’t going to be hearing any different from us, even with our love of pies and steak, we are 100% on a health kick and against some of our preconceptions, very much enjoying it. 

We know you know, but we will tell you again - eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean boring eating. We make ours exciting by doing a jig whilst trying to slice vegetables and nothing says fun like trying not to loose a finger does it?

We joke, we make our food delicious by using flavoursome ingredients with are packed full of all the nutrients and proteins you need to do the things you like to do. Fish is full of good things, vitamins, minerals and is a major source of Omega 3 fatty acids so is being served up regularly as part of our healthy diet. This recipe of Salmon Fillets, Lentils and Spinch is simple, easy and good for you as well as really filling. 

Salmon Fillet on a bed on Puy Lentils & Spinach

For 2

130g of Puy Lentils

160g Spinach

100g cherry tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

2 shallots 

1 lemon (juice)

Chopped parsley

2 Salmon Fillets

Salt and Pepper

Oil for Frying

1. Put the lentil in a pan of boiling water, reduce to a simmer and leave for 20-25 minutes. 3 minutes before they are done add the spinach in to the pan. 

3. Heat a pan of oil and fry the shallots and garlic until soft and golden brown. Set aside. 

2. Take the salmon and coat it in oil (instead of the pan) and season with salt and pepper, depending on how thick your fillet is you fish should be fried for no more than 3 minutes on either side so it stays moist but gets lovely crispy skin (the not so healthy part if you eat it) 

3. Chop the cherry tomatoes, and add to the chopped parsley, fried shallots and garlic with a squeeze of lemon juice. When the lentils and spinach are done, drain and mix together. 

4. Plate the lentils and spinach and place the fish onto and garnish with a slice of lemon. 

Simple and delicious. 

Introducing The Larder Box

We have something to tell you about and we think it is very exciting. 

We are launching a new product. It’s called a Larder Box and we think it’s something you are going to like a lot. 

It looks something like this and comes to your door once a month (it can go to your desk too if thats easiest for you!)

Packed full of ingredients to stock your cupboards with the Larder Box is your easy and simple way to discover new food and drink. 

Each box contains 5 or 6 products and they could be anything from speciality spice mixes to gourmet fudge, wine vinegars to rape seed oils. We think the surprise element makes everything a little more exciting, but don’t worry we only ever include ambient products so everything will reach you at its best and we steer clear of including meat for the veggies out there. 

We do the hard work for you; finding the best, award winning products from our network of brilliant producers and carefully curate each box so the items compliment each other and give you some delicious recipe suggestions so you’ll never be stuck for what to make. 

You can see all the details on the Larder Box site here at thelarderbox.com but you can sign up from £16.50 a month if you buy a year long subscription

We think it’s always nice to get a surprise parcel full of treats and like most people we are fed up of our post being a selection of bills and letters for ‘Mr Richmond’ who lived there 5 years ago. Getting a box of deliciousness to our door satisfies our desire to always have something tempting in our cupboards and brightens up the start of our months with something beautiful arriving on our doorstep. Think of it as a foodie gift to yourself, or if you know someone it would be perfect for you can gift a subscription to a friend - just think of all the amazing meals you could get out of it!

Sign up here and discover the easy way to try the best food and drink from award winning, independent producers.  

How To Make Chocolate Truffles

These chocolate truffles are honestly the easiest things to make ever - messy yes, but really simple and make very thoughtful gifts at this time of year. And who doesn’t like an excuse to get covered in chocolate. 

The history for the truffle and its origin does not appear to be set in stone (depending on what website you read) but it was around 1895 that some marvellous inventor (perhaps N. Petruccelli in Chambery France or Antoine Dufour) decided to mix rich cream with dark chocolate to form ganache which is the central element of traditional Swiss truffles. 

It is called a truffle because of its similar appearance to Black Truffle Fungus, at the time (and still now really) truffles were fodder for only the rich and great therefore by giving them the same name, the chocolate truffle was elevated to the same status. 

To make your own truffles the two essential ingredients are good quality dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa) and double cream. The other ingredients make up the flavour and coating of the truffles and these are all down to personal taste - we used high quality cocoa powder to cover ours but you can use anything from candied ginger to crushed nuts, melted chocolate or coconut. And you can flavour the ganache with things like brandy, liqueurs or spices. At christmas brandy and cinnamon is a natural winner. 

We think they would be especially nice with a melted chocolate shell as the contrast between the crisp chocolate layer and the smooth, rich ganache centre would be heavenly. This is definitely the messiest option, we would opt for skewering each chocolate ball and dipping it into melted chocolate. 

Chocolate Truffles

Makes around 30 truffles

Ingredients

225g good quality dark chocolate

135ml double cream

cocoa powder

Method

1. Break the chocolate into small bits and put in a mixing bowl.

2. Heat the double cream in a pan until it begins to bubble. If you were to flavour your ganache this is the time to add in the brandy/spices - if you are using spices let the mixture cool down once it begins to bubble, strain out the spices before heating again.

3. Take off the heat and pour onto the chocolate. Stir until the hot cream has melted the chocolate and it reaches a smooth paste.

4. Put this into the fridge for around 1 1/2 hours to chill. Remove, dust your hands with cocoa and take teaspoon sized portions of the ganache and roll into balls with your hands then drop into the cocoa powder to coat.

This bit is messy, and if you don’t have nice cool hands you will find the mixture will become very sticky and impossible to roll. But even if you do it’s like you will get very chocolatey hands. 

You can now pop them in a box if you are giving them as a present, or sit and eat them on the sofa whilst watching christmas films. 

Mulled Wine & Mince Pies, The Best Crimbo Combo

No two food stuffs conjure up ideas of Christmas the way these two do - a perfect pairing of spices, cinnamon and succulent fruity flavours. And any food being served hot is always welcome in the winter months. 

Last week we put our reading glasses on and studied lots of recipes and old cookery books to come up with what we think is the tastiest combination of fruit, booze and pastry for our mince pies. We did come up with a VERY traditional recipe using pork mince, and which was surprisingly a big crowd pleaser (certain foolish people had written these off as a christmas car crash) but we will share that one with you another day as it maybe isn’t to everyones tastes. 

The mulled wine however we didn’t need to think about as Gourmet Spice Co have catered for all our wintery drink needs with their Mulled Wine Spice Kit, only £2.75 and one of those hassle free items that’s always great to have in the house this time of year. 

You simply need to choose your tipple of choice, juice for the kids, red wine for the adults or we’ve heard cider is also very good, add in the spice mix and gently warm in a pan. Simple. 

Now to the mince pies. 

You should ideally make your mixture a couple of weeks before you want to make your pies so it has time to mature and for all the flavours to combine. We packed ours into air tight jars like this and put them in the fridge to make sure they stayed at their best. 

We also think they look pretty nice, and would make a lovely present if you tied a luggage tag around them. 

Ingredients For Mincemeat

Jar of Drunken Raspberries - separated the whole raspberries from gin

100g Sultanas

100g Currants

50g Dried Cranberries

75g Brown Sugar
2 x Granny Smith Apples, peeled & finely chopped
Orange Zest
1tsp Cinammon
1tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
Method

1. Dissolve the brown sugar with gin in a pan on a low heat then add the spices and orange zest
2. Add the other ingredients and stir so well combined. 
3. Keep on a low heat, with the lid on until the fruit has absorbed the alcohol and infused with the spices and zest. 
4. Take off the heat and stir in the raspberries, place in a jar and leave to mature for a couple of weeks.
 
For the Pastry 

300g Plain Flour
50g Vegetarian Suet
150g Butter
Ice Cold Water
1. Use a food processor to blend the flour, suet and butter so it makes a bread crumb consistency. 
2. Add the very cold water slowly whilst the food processor is still blending until it comes together. 
3. Stop the processor and scoop out the pastry and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. 
4. Cut the pastry in half and take one half and roll it out until it reaches the thickness of a pound coin. Use a pastry cutter larger than the hole in your baking tray to cut out the bases of your pies and press gently into the tins. 
5. When you have done all your bases, take the other half of pasty and any bits you might have left over and roll out to the same thickness, use a slightly smaller cutter than the one use to make your bases for the lids.
6. Fill the bases 3/4 full of mincemeat, place a lid on and press the edges to seal and brush the top with milk.  
7. Put the mince pies into an oven which is pre heated to 200C for 20 minutes. 
A lovely winter snack we think, especially when enjoyed hot from the oven!

How To Make Chocolate & Chilli Fudge

Does this sound weird to people? If so it shouldn’t - chocolate and chilli are delicious together, you get the sweetness of the rich chocolate then you get a spicy kick at the back of your mouth a few moments later. We found however it’s best to warn people that they have chilli in them otherwise they get an unexpected shock. 

We have a huge selection of chillies on the site, from the mild Ancho to the super spicy Naga Bih Jolokia. You can get them as well as the chipotles we used in this recipe here, they are a great thing to have tucked away in your cupboard for those spicier moments. 

Of course you can make them as subtle or spicy as you like, we used whole chipotles whilst cooking to give the mixture a warm, smokey flavour as well as pinches of chopped chillies. If you are looking to give someone a unique and had-to-be-homemade gift this christmas, we definitely recommend this fudge. It’s relatively easy to make, we say relatively as again like the Cinnamon Caramels there is a certain amount of hot sugar in the mix, but as long as you have a big pot and a cooking thermometer it should all be gravy, or should we say hot sugary chocolatey gravy.

Ingredients

550g Caster Sugar

550ml Double Cream

75g Liquid Glucose

150g Melted Dark Chocolate

2 Chipotles

A pinch of Chopped Dried Chillies  

Method

1. Take a large pan and put the sugar, cream, glucose and whole chipotles in and stir on a low heat until the sugar has melted into a consistent paste. 

2. Turn up the heat until the temperature reaches 118°C - after trialling and testing this, we think not stirring at this point is probably best. We picked the whole chipotles out just before it reached the right temperature. 

It will start to look something like this 

3. You will need to have melted the chocolate ready to mix in at this point. And here’s a picture of some melted chocolate, mainly because it looks tasty, we don’t think you need our help knowing what it looks like 

When the mixture has reached 118°C, take it off the heat and stir in the melted chocolate and a sprinkle of chilli depending on how spicy you want it. Pour it out into a grease proof lined tray. 

4. You then need to leave this to set over night, after it has cooled pop it into the fridge. Then chop it into bits - some might crumble off, we put these flakes in a tub and use them as sprinkles on ice cream. 

It’s crumbly and sweet and delicious and you should definitely try it out next time you’re wanting something sugary and spicy. 

Lovely Liqueurs & Cocktail Recipes

The Festive Season brings with it the excuse to go to lots of parties and perhaps host one of your own and our latest producer The Little Red Berry Company has a lovely range of fruit liqueurs perfect for making hot and cold cocktails. 

The range is made entirely by hand in tiny batches to ensure the best possible flavour and tries to use the best seasonal fruit when possible. The flavours include the refreshing Strawberry Vodka, Raspberry Gin and Rhubarb and Vanilla Vodka - all delicious for making a stylish fruity cocktail, or how about making a hot toddy from the Wild Bramble Whisky which would go down a treat at any outside bonfires this winter.

You can buy them all here and they are only £10 a bottle, or give 4 bottles in a homely looking gift set for £40, we wouldn’t mind seeing some of these under the tree on Christmas day and we would mind even less cracking in to them after dinner.

And to get you in the festive spirit and whet your thirst here are some of our favourite cocktail recipes. 

Wild Bramble Whisky, Make a Hot Toddy

2 oz of Wild Bramble Whisky

Hot Water

1 tsp of Sugar

2 Cloves

Slice of Lemon

Cinnamon

Heat the water and add the sugar in and mix until dissolved

Add the sugar and water mixture to the Wild Bramble Whisky 

Stir, add in the slice of lemon studded with cloves and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Make sure to serve in a hot glass (wash out with hot water before serving)

Strawberry Vodka Liqueur, use it to make a Strawberry Cosmo

3 Shots of Strawberry Vodka Liqueur

1/2 Shot of Creme de fraise du bois liqueur 

1 1/4 Shot of Cranberry Juice

1/2 Shot of Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass 

Raspberry Gin Liqueur, why not try making a Raspberry Collins with it?

For a Raspberry Collins:

3 Shots of Raspberry Gin Liqueur

1 Shot of Creme de Framboise

1/2 Shot of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1/2 Shot of Sugar Syrup

Soda to finish

Garnish - 3 Raspberries + A Slice of Lemon

Add the first four ingredients into a shaker with ice, Shake then strain into a tall glass filled with ice, top up with soda and garnish with the raspberries and lemon on a cocktail stick. 

A Recipe for Italian Sausage Casserole for British Sausage Week

It’s British Sausage Week this week and we thought we would share one of our favourite uses for sausages with you to celebrate. Although the meat might be purely british born and bred, the flavours and inspiration for this dish comes from the Mediterranean, an Italian Spicy Sausage Casserole. 

If you fancy a more traditional recipe, why not check out our hearty Toad In the Hole. We wouldn’t want you stuck for sausage ideas now would we?

The vital ingredient is of course sausages, gloriously meat pork sausages, we think ones with a slight spicing are good for this recipe but you can use any kind you like. They don’t necessarily have to be pork either, we have some very tasty Venison and Wild Boar sausages on Love Your Larder which are perfect for this time of year with venison in season meaning you can still buy the best of british. You can buy them here. 

Back to the Italian Sausage Casserole you will need a few ingredients and although the prep and initial cooking isn’t too time consuming it is best to leave it simmering for an hour or two to make the flavours as rich as possible. 

Ingredients

6 Italian Spiced Sausages 

1 diced onion

3 Cloves of Garlic

Sprigs of Rosemary

1 Red Pepper

2 Carrots

1 Red Chilli Pepper

4 Potatoes

1 Cans of Chopped Tomatoes

200ml of Chicken Stock

A Splash of Worcestershire Sauce

A Splash of Red Wine Vinegar

A Handful of Cherry Tomatoes

Olive Oil 

Method

1. Heat oil in a casserole pan, add the diced onion, chilli pepper (with seeds removed) and rosemary and fry for a few minutes so the flavour infuses into the oil. 

2.  Cut the pepper into slices and add into the oil and continue to fry. 

3. You can either add the sausages whole or chop up depending on your personal preferance. Add them to the pot and continue to fry. Finely dice the garlic and add it to the pot. 

4. Peel and chop the carrots and potatoes, add to the pot along with the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock, making sure everything is covered with liquid.

5. Add in a splash of red wine vinegar and worcestershire sauce to help the tomato sauce develop a rich flavour. 

6. Leave to simmer on a low heat, with the lid on for an hour. Add in the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes. 

Serve in bowls, with a chunk of crusty bread and a glass of red wine for a delicious Italian style supper. 

How to make Candied Fruit

Around since the 14th century, candying fruit was originally a way of preserving fruit to make it last longer. Now it is normally done for more fanciful reasons than that, we thought it was a lovely thing to make and looks very impressive for not a lot of effort. There’s also lots of things that can be done with it, put it into little bags and give it away as token presents, perfect with Christmas coming up, use it to decorate cupcakes, or just leave it in a jar for when you fancy a sweet nibble. 

We wanted to make ours that little bit different, so we used some of these flavoured sugars from The Gourmet Spice Co. They worked beautifully, the lavender had a lovely floral flavour, whilst the cinnamon sugar was like a little taste of christmas. You can get them here, so you can give your candied fruit that extra special touch. 

A bit of time does go into making these, so perhaps try and do it whilst making something else, or just have a magazine on the side to read in the gaps. 

1. Take a lemon and an orange, cut the tops and bottoms off either of them, and then score the edges at 1cm intervals. Peel the skin off in these strips. 

2. These strips should be boiled for around 7 minutes, drained and then rinsed with cold water. This should be done 3 times to remove any bitterness from the peel, and no one wants a bitter fruit. 

3. Fill a pan with around a pint of water and 300g of sugar, and bring to the boil, add the peel and then reduce to a simmer - this should be left until the fruit has absorbed a large amount of the sugary liquid. We found this took quite a long time, so this is where the magazine comes in handy. 

4. Once the peel has soaked up most of the syrup (it will have developed a sticky texture too as well as looking crystallised) remove from the heat, and place the peel, piece by piece in a bowl of sugar to coat it, before placing on a rack to dry out. 

5. Leave over night to dry out. 

It looks very professional, but all it really is is sugar and fruit, and anyone can combine those two things. Kids will love it, and will make a tasty change from processed sweets found in shops.