Pork chops with mustard, apples and cider

Photography by  Tara Fisher

This is a fabulous recipe for a weekend dinner.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
2 tsp olive oil
25g butter
4 × 200 g bone-in thick pork chops
1 small onion, chopped
250g cooking apples peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 sage leaves or 1/2 tsp of dried sage
250ml dry cider
1 1/2 heaped tablespoons grainy mustard
250ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or double cream

Directions:
1. Place a frying pan on the stove and add half the butter and a little oil.
2. Fry the pork chops over a high heat until browned – about five minutes on each side.
3. Season and transfer to an oven proof lidded casserole.
4. Add a second knob of butter to the frying pan and, once melted add the onions and fry for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add the apples and stir together.
6. Then transfer to the casserole, add the cider to the frying pan and bring to the boil, scraping the base of the pan to incorporate all the lovely flavours.
7. Add the mustard and sage stir together, then pour over the pork and the apples along with the stock, cover with a lid and bake in the oven for about an hour.
8. Remove the pork chops to a dish and keep warm.
9. Place the casserole over a medium heat and allow the gravy to bubble for five minutes or so to reduce and concentrate a little.
10. Stir in the crème fraîche or cream, season to taste and serve with the chops and some potatoes or rice and steamed green vegetables.

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.


Easy Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Photography by  Tara Fisher

This recipe uses ready bought puff pastry, and it can be made and frozen ahead. Just defrost before cooking.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
25g butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
200g mushrooms, quartered
450g chicken thigh or breast, cut into chunks
2 pinches of dried tarragon
A splash of white wine or sherry, optional
2 tbsp plain flour
300ml chicken stock
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1 block puff pastry
A little flour
1 egg, beaten

Optional extras: leeks, sweetcorn, chunks of ham, bacon, asparagus

Directions:
1. First melt the butter in a saucepan. Then add the onions and carrots, and soften for 6-8 minutes gently.
2. Add the mushrooms, chicken and herbs and stir over the heat for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the wine or sherry if using, and after it has bubbled for a minute stir in the flour.
4. Slowly add the stock, season, then simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Stir in the crème fraîche then leave to cool.
6. Meanwhile roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is the thickness of a £1 coin.
7. Put your pie dish onto the pastry and cut around your dish (just slightly bigger).
8. With the remaining pastry cut 2cm wide strips. These will help the pastry lid stay in place.
9. Using a little water, damp around the edges of the dish and stick on the strips of pastry.
10. Spoon the chicken filling into the dish.
11. Then with a little more water make the pastry strips damp and top with the cut out lid of pastry.
12. Use a fork to press the edges down, and flute the edges to create a pattern if you like.
13. Brush the pastry with egg, then make a steam hole in the centre.
14. Bake at 200c/180 fan for about 30 mins until golden.

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.


Leek and stilton tarts

Photography by  Tara Fisher

These are starter sized, but feel free to make them smaller (canapé size) or larger if you like. There are lots of other versions you can make with the same egg mix poured over – bacon and pea, caramelised onion or broccoli to give you just a few ideas.

Makes 4 small or one large tart
Ingredients:
400g shortcrust pastry
25g butter
Three medium leeks, trimmed and finely chopped
Two eggs and one egg yolk
200g pot creme fraiche
150g stilton cheese, crumbled

You will need six small loose bottomed tartlet cases of about 11 to 12.5 cm diameter at the base and baking beans. Or use a larger tin measuring 24cm width.

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180 fan. 
2. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until the thickness of a £1 coin.
3. Cut out rounds from the pastry to line your tartlet cases and prick the bases with a fork.
4. Cut circles of greaseproof paper large enough to line each case. Scrunch up the papers then open them up again, place inside the tartlet cases and fill with baking beans.
5. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for five minutes, before removing the beans and paper and drying out in the oven for a further five minutes.
6. Lower the oven to 190c/170 fan.
7. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and fry the leeks very gently until softened – about 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
8. In a bowl, beat the eggs and the creme fraiche with some seasoning.
9. Remove the tartlets from the oven and divide the leeks between each one, then top with the crumbled cheese.
10. Finally pour in the egg mix until it reaches the top of each case.
11. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until risen and golden.
12. Remove from the oven and either eat straight away or cool then freeze.

You can reheat from frozen for 15-20 minutes at 180c/160 fan (larger tarts will take longer).

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.


Haddock Chowder with Crispy Bacon

Photography by  Tara Fisher

Chowders are, by far, my favourite kinds of soup and often feature in our house on a Saturday lunchtime, as everyone will eat them (my kids prefer chunky soups). If you can, try and buy undyed Scottish haddock, which is more subtle and milder flavoured than others.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
25g butter
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium potatoes unpeeled if new, chopped into 2cm cubes
1 tbsp thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
splash white wine (optional)
1 tbsp plain flour
400ml chicken stock
650ml whole milk
2 x 198g tins sweetcorn drained, or 2 cobs, niblets removed
450g undyed smoked haddock fillet, cut into 5-6cm chunks
to serve 5 slices streaky bacon, chopped and a handful chives, snipped

Directions:
1. Heat the butter and oil and add the onion. Cook over a lowish heat for 5 minutes before adding the potatoes and cooking for a further 5 minutes.
2. Then add the wine and bubble for a minute or so before stirring in the flour and thyme then gradually adding the stock, stirring as you go.
3. Add the milk and bring up to nearly boiling, before reducing the heat and simmering for 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are nearly tender.
4. Add the sweetcorn, haddock and a grind of pepper and  once back up to simmering point cook for a further 10 minutes or until the haddock is just cooked.
5. Taste for seasoning.
6. Cool and freeze at this point.
 
To serve, heat a frying pan and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle chives and crisp bacon.

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.


Better Than a Takeaway Lamb Curry

Photography by  Tara Fisher

Ingredients:
1.5 tbsp oil
12 cardamom pods
12 cloves
A cinnamon stick
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 onions, chopped
12 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm piece ginger, chopped
2 tins tomatoes
3 green chillies or 2 red (or some dried crushed chilli flakes
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp flaked sea salt
1.5kg stewing lamb, such as diced shoulder

Directions:
1. Put the first five ingredients into a large saucepan or casserole pot and fry till sizzling and smelling lovely
2. Add the onion and fry gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring once in a while.
3. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute then add the tomatoes, fresh and dried chilli and salt and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the lamb and 250ml water, bring to the boil then cover and simmer very gently for 1.5-2 hours, adding a little more water if needed.
5. Taste for seasoning and serve with buttery naans and or rice.

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.