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.


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.


Lamb and Sweet Potato Tagine

Photography by Tara Fisher

I serve this with warm couscous mixed with some freshly chopped herbs and a scattering of pomegranate seeds for colour. Make the tagine the day before eating to let the flavours mingle.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 tsp coriander seed⁠
1 tsp cumin seeds⁠
½ tsp paprika (hot)⁠
½ tsp cinnamon⁠
2 tbsp olive oil⁠
700g lamb neck fillet, cut into chunks⁠
2 onions, cut into wedges⁠
4 cloves garlic, crushed⁠
300ml lamb stock⁠
1 x 400g tin tomatoes⁠
1 pinch saffron threads, soaked in a tbsp water⁠
300g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks⁠
12 pitted ready to eat prunes⁠
2 tsp runny honey⁠

Directions:
1. Crush the coriander and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar.
2. Put into a bowl and add the paprika and cinnamon and half the oil.
3. Stir in the lamb, so that it is thoroughly coated.⁠
⁠4. Meanwhile fry the onions in a flameproof casserole or heavy based pan over a medium heat in the rest of the oil.
5. When the onions are just beginning to soften and brown, add the lamb, turn up the heat and brown all over.
6. Add the garlic and stir-fry for another 2 minutes, before adding the stock and tomatoes.
7. Season, cover and cook at a gentle simmer for an hour. Then add the potatoes, saffron, prunes and honey and cook for a further 45 minutes or until the lamb is tender.
8. Serve with herby couscous and green beans.⁠

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.


Vegetarian Moussaka

Photography by Tara Fisher

This was a recipe that my step mother Wendy inspired me to make, as she is the queen of the moussaka! This veggie version is very easy and can be prepared ahead and frozen.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 med aubergine, cut into 1cm slices
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large courgette, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
splash red wine (optional)
700ml jar passata with garlic and herbs
2 pinches caster sugar
1 x 400g tin green lentils, rinsed and drained
400g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
For the sauce:
300ml milk
50g butter
50g plain flour
a good grating of nutmeg
250g pot ricotta cheese
75g cheddar, grated

Directions:
1.Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry as many of the aubergine slices as you can fit, on both sides, until browned and beginning to soften.
2. Transfer to a plate with kitchen paper whilst you fry the rest, adding extra oil as needed. Set the aubergines to one side while you make the vegetable and lentil sauce.
3. Fry the onion in a tbsp oil for a couple of minutes, then add the chopped courgette and pepper and gently fry for 6-8 minutes, adding the garlic 2 minutes before the end, until beginning to soften.
4. Stir in the cinnamon and tomato puree and cook for a minute or so before adding the red wine of using, and after a minute or two, the passata.
5. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the lentils and a pinch or two of sugar and plenty of seasoning. Stir and taste for extra seasoning if needed.
6. Meanwhile par-boil the potato slices in salted water for about 3 minutes or until just beginning to soften.
7. Leave to cool slightly while you make the sauce.
8. Put the flour, butter and milk into a pan and whisk over a medium heat. When thickened, season with salt, pepper and some grated nutmeg and leave to cool for five minutes, before whisking in the ricotta.
9. Pour half of the vegetable sauce into the base of a deep round casserole.
11. Top with the potato slices in one layer, then spread over half of the ricotta sauce.
12. Top with half the aubergines, in one layer then the remaining vegetable sauce, then aubergine, then the last of the cheese sauce.
13. Top with the grated cheese.
14. When ready to cook preheat the oven to 200c/180 fan/gas mark 6.
15. Bake for 50 minutes or until piping hot and bubbling.

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.