Old Fashioned Onion Gravy – perfect with mash!
There is nothing better than a good roast beef dinner or pretty much anything involving sausages and mashed potato that will not benefit from a fantastic home made onion gravy, of course you may be a veggie (in which case substitute the beef stock for vegetable stock) who likes a good onion gravy with roasted vegetables, whoever you are though, this recipe should see you right.
Those keen eyed foodies out there will most likely have already noticed that I have already added this recipe to my blog along with a rather tasty Toad in the Hole recipe, as they pretty much go hand in hand, but here it is again anyway for those of you who just want it for another dish, or who don’t like toads or the holes in which they like to reside.
- 1 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plain flour (more if you want it thicker)
- 500ml beef stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Soften the onions with the tablespoon of oil in a large non stick frying pan on a medium/low heat for about 15 mins, stirring often, until they are golden brown.
- Sprinkle in the sugar and cook for another 5 mins. Add a tablespoon of plain flour, then simmer, stirring constantly for 2 mins, so the onions are well coated and there is no dry flour left at all. Gradually pour in the stock a bit at a time, stirring well all the time to make a smooth sauce.
- Turn the heat up a little and allow the gravy to bubble and thicken for 4-5 mins, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve in a warmed gravy boat with a yummy dish for some ultimate comfort!
Quick Tomato Sauce – perfect for those Italian moments
I know I’ve said before that I always use Dolmio tomato sauce in any pasta recipes I use, but I decided to go nuts and try my own, with truly fantastic results, this quick punchy sauce is just as good, if not better than anything in a jar! It goes well with anything needing a tomato sauce, meatballs, lasagne, spaghetti bolognese… the list is endless!
I have added a sprinkle of dried crushed chillies and even with only a little it does hit the taste buds, so if you don’t like heat then literally only add a pinch of chillies, more than that and your head will be on fire, especially if you don’t like hot food!!!
I use good quality tinned and peeled plum tomatoes and their juices because fresh is just so much more effort and hassle and there is nothing wrong at all with tinned tomatoes if they’re good quality or organic if you can get them. Fresh basil is also a must, don’t even bother trying to use dried, it’s not the same, DO however, use dried oregano! It just tastes better than fresh, but if you can do it, if you have the time, and if, like me, you do grow your own oregano, dry it out the day before and use it here.
This recipe will yield a serving for 4 or so people, that said, I made a bolognese sauce out of it today and I had a jar left over for another dish in the week! Try and keep some clean empty jars in the cupboards, you never know when you’ll need them!
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 x 400g tins peeled plum tomatoes, blended until pureed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed chillies (more if you prefer)
- Small handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
- 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon white caster sugar
- Salt to season
- On a medium/high hob, heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan and when hot, add the onion, garlic and chillies, stirring and frying gently until soft.
- Pour in the pureed tomatoes (I use the blender part of my food processor to get the job done but if you want chunkier sauce, then chopped the tomatoes by hand and make sure to keep the sauce from the tin to add to the sauce with the chopped tomatoes), stir in the oregano, vinegar and sugar and leave to simmer on a medium/low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt to season, tasting as you go so you don’t overdo it, then add the torn basil leaves and stir them into the sauce.
- Remove from the heat and store or use as required.
Simple Seafood Sauce – just add prawns!
Everyone loves a traditional prawn salad or prawn cocktail don’t they? Be it the middle of a hot summer or before the main course on Christmas day, it’s always a winner, but it just doesn’t taste right if it doesn’t have the best tasting seafood sauce on the top of it, and the jar mixes just don’t cut it a lot of the time. Some of the more expensive brands are pretty close, but the cheaper ones are downright horrible, tasting more of vinegar than tangy sweet seafood sauce just waiting to have a gang of prawns thrown in it!
The ironic thing is, this seafood sauce of mine has 5 measly ingredients in it, most of which you will have in your fridge or your cupboard, and if you don’t, you can buy them and have plenty left over for other recipes! If you do happen to have everything in your kitchen that is listed below, check out how much cheaper than the horrible cheap brands this sauce is… and how much tastier! Do try and use good quality mayonnaise and ketchup though, your sauce will suffer without it.
It doesn’t have to stop with a prawn cocktail or seafood salad though, I like to have this stuff as a dip for chips, on the side with a plate of home made battered cod, as a home made chicken nugget dip.. the list is endless! Make a batch, pop some in a sterilised jar and pop it in the fridge, I bet you find uses for it all within a week!
- 4 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons good quality tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or wholegrain mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- One step and one step only, add all the ingredients together in a small bowl, mix until well blended and chill in the fridge until needed!
I love a basic bowl of pasta, it’s the one thing that if I am starving but can’t be bothered to spend ages preparing and cooking a meal that I can throw together and eat knowing that I’ll be satisfied. It doesn’t matter if you are a vegetarian or a meat eater there is a pasta sauce out there that will suit everyone, including this one which can be made with with, or without meat. You can also substitute the oil for a large chunk of butter but you’re talking heart attack city! Stir it into spaghetti or a bowl of my home made Strozzapreti for a wicked fast, wonderful and filling supper dish.
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- large sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 100g Chorizo (either spicy or smoky is fine or you can leave it out completely)
- Chop your garlic finely and remove the leaves from the rosemary stalks and chop them.
- In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, rosemary and Chorizo if you are using. Stir fry for about 2 minutes then add the parmesan.
- Add your pasta and stir it all together.
- Serve with some crusty bread.
Honey Jack BBQ Sauce - perfect with pork or chicken!
This Honey Jack BBQ Sauce is a gorgeous addition to any pork based BBQ meal, and it is SO easy to make and it keeps well in the fridge in a lidded jar or bottle or an airtight container for about a week. You can use it as a dip or a topping – I like to warm it in the microwave for a few seconds before pouring it over pulled pork or chops and you can also add it to chicken breasts as you griddle them in a pan for a delicious and quick BBQ chicken meal.
You can make your own BBQ sauce base, but I prefer to use Paul Newman’s Hickory BBQ Sauce, and YES! It IS ok to cheat a little here and there in the kitchen, I don’t usually make my own pastry either! There are some great brands of sauce out there available both online and in supermarkets, I would avoid using BBQ ketchup though, this isn’t the same as BBQ marinade sauce, you’ll find the right stuff in the aisle with the other marinades in the supermarket. Nandos do a good one too, but it has a bit of a hot kick to it which I prefer not to have. I also avoid using supermarket own brands as they tend to be very vinegary.
Try and get Jack Daniels for the bourbon part of the sauce, it really is superior as far as bourbon goes, Canadian Club is ok as is Jim Beam, but neither really holds a candle to old Jack, if you don’t want to invest in a big bottle (for further use… ahem I have no idea what you mean, one for the sauce, one for me…) then get a small bottle or even a couple of those little aeroplane sized bottles!
Anyway, this is ridiculously easy to make and just as easy and versatile to use so here goes.
- 1 bottle good BBQ marinade sauce (I use Paul Newman’s Hickory, but you can use any as long as it is good, or you can make your own!)
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
- 50ml fresh pineapple juice
- A good dash of Jack Daniels 50ml at least (or any other brand of bourbon is ok if you don’t have Jack)
- Into a small saucepan, pour 3/4 of the bottle of BBQ sauce, add the honey, pineapple juice and the Jack Daniels and mix thoroughly.
- Bring the sauce to the boil over a medium heat for about 5 minutes then remove from the heat and serve however you need it.