Date Archives February 2020

Ox Cheek in red wine with Mustard Mash


his is completely worth the hours. If you have a free afternoon on your hands at the weekend this is an excellent and effortless feast. Two large cheeks cost just over £5 (£7.99/kg in Waitrose) making it ludicrously cheap. Its just a shame how something that takes so long to cook, takes so little time to eat!

If you’re stuck for time at the weekend and can be organised, this is also a great dish to stick in the oven when you get home from work to then reheat and eat the following evening or serve to any dinner party guests without the last minute stress.

Serve with mash or some lovely soft polenta !

Serves 3 or 2 with leftovers

  • 2 x Ox cheeks
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • Bunch rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • Approx 500ml red wine
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 50g butter
  • Milk
  • Bunch parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 150. 
  2. Dust the ox cheeks lightly in seasoned flour and shake off any excess.
  3. Heat a large casserole dish on a medium high heat and add a splash of sunflower oil. Sear the ox cheeks on both sides until golden then remove from the dish and set aside.
  4. Turn the heat down a little and add the onion, celery and carrot and gently sweat for about 8 minutes until starting to soften. Season well.
  5. Add the garlic and rosemary and fry for a further few minutes.
  6. Return the ox cheeks to the pan and turn up the heat. You now want to add the wine and the stock. Add about 3/4 wine and 1/4 stock so that in total the liquid just covers the cheeks but its not swimming in it! Measurements will vary.
  7. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 4-5 hours, checking on it now and then to spoon juices over the cheeks.
  8. When ready to serve, remove the casserole from the oven. I like to mash 1 tbsp of butter with 1 tbsp flour (to form a paste) and then whisk this paste into the sauce. This helps thicken it slightly and create a lovely shine!
  9. To make the mash, simmer the potatoes for about 15 minutes or until soft but not water saturated. Drain and let them cool slightly.
  10. Use a potato ricer to mash the potatoes into a bowl or use a masher. Add the mustard, butter and a splash of milk as needed to create a nice smooth mash. Season well.

Serve scattered with fresh chopped parsley!




Quesadillas – Black bean, Guacamole & Cheese


eat free Monday at its best. There is a trend here for  meat free Monday success and I think its black beans.  They have such delicious properties – high in protein and they give you that ‘meaty’ savoury taste that you may want in your dishes if you’re a die hard carnivore. I just love their depth of flavour and ability to handle heaps of smoked paprika!

I love quesadillas but I’ve never actually made them quite shamefully. A bit like making pancakes or pizzas, all the effort is in getting your toppings/filling ingredients ready! You can go wild here with what you choose to put inside.

Portion size – My fiancee would say that its 1 x Q each with a side salad. I’d say I could only manage 1/2 – they are quite filling! My quantities below made 3 annoyingly. That said, if you’re not keen to just invite the better half of your favourite couple for dinner, these can be shared OR just pad them out with a few more of your favourite Mexican ingredients to make more: a tangy tomatoes salsa would be in mine next time!

Makes 3

  • 6 wholemeal tortilla wraps
  • 2 x cans black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 lime
  • 2 x avocado’s
  • 1 big bunch corainder
  • 1 large red onion
  • Strong, mature cheddar cheese, grated (not putting measurements here, cheese is cheese)
  • Tabasco (or your favourite hot sauce)
  • Side salad – I made a simple one using chopped gem lettuce, some baby toms, handful of sweetcorn and some mustard cress! Topped with a mustardy dressing for punch.
  1. Prep all your fillings. Start with the beans. Put the drained beans, paprika, cumin, a pinch of salt and the juice of half the lime and some seasoning in a food processor. Pulse, adding a splash of hot water, until a paste – don’t make it too smooth OR wet but it needs to be spreadable. Taste and adjust with lime if needed.
  2. Mash the avocados in a bowl with some salt and pepper and the juice of the other half a lime. Set aside
  3. Chopped the red onion really finely and add to a bowl. Chop the coriander and add to the onion. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large non stick frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a tsp of sunflower/rapeseed oil.
  5. While it is heating – assemble Q number 1!
  6. On a board/work surface, take 1/3 of the beans and smooth evenly and thinly over one of the wraps making sure to work right up to the edge.
  7. Do the same with 1/3 of the avocado.
  8. Scatter over 1/3 of the onion/coriander mix. If you want it hot, add some generous splashes of hot sauce, as much as you dare but I recommend you add some to give a bit of a kick.
  9. Scatter over enough cheese for your liking – be generous. Top with another wrap and push down gently.
  10. Fry the Q in the pan for about 3-4 minutes until you’re confident it had developed a nice golden crust underneath – I can only suggest you use a spatula to have a little peak. When its nearly done, give it a gentle push to make sure the top and bottom and nicely welted together with molten cheese.
  11. Now – with some wishful thinking and dexterity, use a few spatulas if needed to flip the Q onto the other side without it going everywhere! Continue to cook and crisp the other side for a few minutes giving it a nice little push now and again to melt everything together.
  12. Once done, slide the Q out onto a nice big chopping board and leave it to cool slightly for 2 minutes. Once not so molten, chop into quarters.
  13. Repeat with the other 2 Q’s and then serve dipped in yet more hot sauce!

Roasted Monkfish, Butternut Risotto, Hazelnuts & Sage


 special anniversary coinciding with Valentine’s Day means I feel less guilty about buying some of my favourite and more indulgent ingredients. Monkfish is a favourite fish of ours but one that isn’t exactly budget friendly so any excuse! I did consider using 3 deliciously fried, golden buttery scallops on top of this creamy risotto and I still feel like might even be a better combo so pick whatever takes your heart.

This clearly served 2 on Valentine’s evening but I’ve scaled up here for 4 as I had loads left over! The reserved risotto makes amazing arancini (cooled, rolled, breaded and deep fried) so NEVER discard leftover risotto! Reheated it can get a bit starching and ‘gloopy’ but the flavour is still there.

WINE: Serve with a crisp Muscadet, Chenin or if you’re partial to a Sauvignon Blanc…I’ll let you off.

Serves 4

The risotto can sit and melt while you pan fry the fish so just made sure everything is ready to go!

  • 4 fillets monkfish (you can use cod, haddock or even scallops if feeling indulgent)
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 50g parmesan, finely grated
  • Butter
  • 1 red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 large glass white dry wine
  • 1 stock cube
  • 50g hazelnuts, roamed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Rocket to serve


  1. Start by preheating the oven to 180. Halve (lengthways) the butternut and remove the seeds. Drizzle with a little oil and season. Roast for about 40 minutes in the oven until the flesh is tender. Remove and set aside to cool slightly. Next, mash the flesh with a fork until smooth and discard the skin.
  2. Season the monkfish with a good pinch of salt and refrigerate until ready to cook (monkfish is quite watery so it helps to do this ahead of cooking).
  3. Heat a large pan of water on the hob and crumble in the stock cube. Keep the stock water on a low heat, barely simmering. You’ll use that during the cooking.
  4. Heat a large heavy based saucepan with a tsp of oil and a tbsp of the butter on the hob on a medium heat. Gently fry the onion slowly for about 8 minutes until turning translucent and soft. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes more.
  5. Turn the heat up a little and add the rice and coat in the buttery onions. You need to fry the rice here for a few minutes – this too should start to turn translucent. At this point, add the white and simmer nicely, stirring. The alcohol and liquid should reduce. At this point add the butternut and a small spoonful of stock and mix well and turn down the heat to a medium/low.
  6. Add another big spoonful of the stock and simmer, stirring continuously – don’t leave this unattended or it will likely stick. Risotto rice also likes to be stirred often.
  7. Continue adding the stock for about 18 minutes (sometimes longer as the butternut slows the cooking I find) or until the rice is just cooked. Ensure you don’t have a thick consistency OR a soupy one. Reduce or add stock accordingly. Risotto served on the plate should be ‘oozey’ – it should never sit in a clump! (see picture).
  8. Once the rice is cooked, season and remove the pan from the heat and add the parmesan and about 3 tbsp of butter. Set aside with a lid on.


  1. Heat an oven proof frying pan on a high heat with a tsp of light sunflower oil.
  2. Coat the monkfish in a light dusting of flour and season.
  3. Fry the monkfish on a high heat for about 1-2 minutes per side or until golden and crisp.
  4. Add 2 x tsp of butter to each fillet and pop the pan in the oven for about 5-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  5. Once cooked, remove from the oven and put the frying pan onto a hot hob. Add the hazelnuts and sage and toss gently in the buttery juices. Finally, add a good squeeze of lemon juice over the fish and sauce and stir.


  1. Stir the risotto well to mix in all the melted butter and parmesan. Spoon into warm bowls and top with a handful of rocket. Squeeze over a little lemon juice.
  2. Top with a fillet of monkfish and a good spoonful of the butter hazelnuts and sage.