I hope you are all keeping well during these strange times. If you haven’t had a chance to read my latest post introducing my ESB Musical Bakes, you can catch up with it here!
Lockdown has changed everyone’s perspective and has made me realise that cooking a hearty meal has brought me just as much pleasure as baking a sugary treat. So, in today’s post, I thought I would share my first foray into cooking on this blog with my top 5 of recipes to cook on a hob.
During this time of uncertainty, many have been returning to the kitchen as a source of nurture and comfort, me included. There is nothing quite like making a meal from start to finish and enjoying the fruits of your labours. You can feel the stress slip away with every bubble, stir and sizzle and take your mind beyond your current situation.
Each of these easy to follow recipes are meals that serve a family of 4 and can be made on two hobs with a little ingenuity!
To accompany this post, here is my cover of ‘Sunny Side to every situation’ from 42nd Street, which always reminds me to look for the good in every day!
English Singing Baker · There’s a Sunny Side to Every Situation from 42nd Street
Without further ado, here is my list of top 5 meals to make on a hob, in no particular order…
ESB TOP 5 : MEALS TO MAKE ON HOB
No. 1 : Easy Chicken Fajitas
The perfect sharing meal to add a Mexican flare to your dinner table!
I always think of Chicken Fajitas as a special meal so it may surprise you that, with a little organisation, you can make it on two hobs. The key is to prepare everything ahead in the order below, so it’s ready when you are.
Start by flavouring two packets of mini fillets of chicken breast, with fajita seasoning (I used Medium Fajita Seasoning Mix by Santa Maria). Combine them in a large sandwich bag, zip it up and shake to thoroughly coat the chicken. Leave in the fridge for half an hour to marinate while you make the accompaniments.
To make the salsa, combine 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered, 3 tablespoons of a tomato pasta sauce such as Dolmio, a chopped fresh red chilli, a finely sliced spring onion and a handful of chopped fresh coriander until they make a spicy sauce. To make the flavours pop, add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to bring it all together.
To make a quick version of guacamole, mash 2 ripe avocadoes with a fork and flavour with salt and the juice of half a lime.
In two bowls, spoon out 2 tablespoons of natural Greek yogurt for its cooling effect. And grate a small block of cheddar cheese for sprinkling over.
Start by frying up the peppers. Finely slice 3 differently coloured peppers and 5 spring onions and fry in a little olive oil until they soften and char around the edges. Put to one side and keep warm while you fry the chicken.
Tip the chicken fillets out of the bag, into a single layer and fry until well coloured on one side. Flip and cook until they are golden brown and there is no sign of pink when you cut them in two. While the chicken is cooking, arrange your finished accompaniments on the table and heat 8 tortilla wraps, in a dry frying pan or microwave in 30 sec bursts. When the chicken is fully cooked, bring it to the table and enjoy a Mexican feast!
No. 2 : Spicy Sausage Couscous
A delicious warming dish for grey evenings!
This recipe is an easy version of a type of Moroccan tagine with couscous to soak up the fusion flavours. The components are rough and chunky so they keep their shape while they cook and give a rustic look.
Start by making the vegetable stew. Cut an onion, 2 sticks of celery, 2 coloured peppers and an aubergine in chunky pieces. Then fry the onion in a little heated olive oil until it has softened before adding the celery and peppers. Let them cook for a couple of minutes before adding the aubergine. Cook all the vegetables until slightly softened before adding a 500g packet of sieved tomato passata, a teaspoon each of dried chilli flakes and cumin and a sprig or two of fresh thyme, stripped. If you like it spicy, spilt a large chilli in half and leave in the stew until serving. Leave to simmer for an hour until it is rich and reduced, adding water if it gets too dry.
While the vegetable ‘ratatouille’ stew is bubbling away, fry two packets of chipolata sausages, one packet at a time, until golden brown and cooked through. Cut them up chunkily, add to the stew and simmer while you make the couscous. Weigh out 75g per person of couscous and pour on enough boiling water from the kettle to come 1cm above it. Stir with a fork and leave covered with a lid for 10 minutes to swell. Finally add a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt for flavour and serve with your stew. A real heart warmer!
No.3 : Pasta Bolognese
Perfect with your type of pasta, this rich sauce is full of hidden goodness and rounded flavours!
This is a tried and tested family favourite of mine. The key is to prepare the sauce well ahead so it has plenty of time to become rich and flavourful!
Start by making the sauce. Chop each of the vegetables finely. Begin with 1 onion and fry in a small amount of olive oil. While it is browning, prepare 3 sticks of celery, 2 coloured peppers and 4 large mushrooms, peeled. When the onion is golden brown, add in the celery and fry for a couple of minutes until it softens. Then add the peppers for 5 minutes, lastly the mushrooms until everything is coloured. To the sautéed vegetables, add 800g of beef mince, breaking apart with a wooden spoon to make it cook evenly, until the meat is no longer pink. To the meat and vegetables, add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, 3 roughly torn sundried tomatoes from a jar, a large sprig of thyme, a bay leaf and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir together well to combine and leave to simmer on a low heat for at least 1 hour, or as long as you can or until the sauce becomes rich in colour and flavour.
Serve with your favourite cooked pasta and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese and enjoy!
No. 4 : Pepper Risotto
A twist on an Italian classic for everyday!
This recipe is a labour of love as it requires you keep a close eye on the pot and stir continuously to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the base. However, the finished product is more than worth it!
Slice a red chilli finely and an onion in half moons and fry in a little olive oil. Wait until it is softened and slightly coloured and then add 3 sliced coloured peppers and fry until browned. The aim is for the vegetables to contrast in size with the rice so you can see them throughout the finished risotto. When the onion and peppers are golden brown, add in 75g of basmati rice per person and stir together until the grains are coated in oil. Add in 3 chopped sundried tomatoes and a sprig of thyme, before gradually adding in 500g tomato passata and a little bit of water from a recently boiled kettle, to loosen the consistency. Stir well and put a lid on, checking regularly to see if it is sticking and more hot water needs to be added.
To check if the rice is cooked, taste a grain which should be soft but holding its shape. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and crispy fried Parma ham for the final touch!
No. 5 : Green Pasta
A special vegetarian dish to wow your friends!
To make this dish possible, it is important to prepare the vegetables ahead of time so that you can fry them before you are ready to serve. Although the ingredients are few, it is the perfect dish to celebrate the short but sweet asparagus season!
Start by boiling a big pan of water. All the vegetables will be cooked slightly less than you would normally to keep them fresh and crisp when you fry them later. Cut up 225g of asparagus spears into inch long lengths and put into the water. While it cooks, cut up 225g broccoli into florets. After 5 minutes, check the asparagus and when a sharp knife goes through easily, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon, put in a colander and cool quickly under a cold running tap before leaving to drain. Do the same in turn with the broccoli and then 100g trimmed mange tout. When all the vegetables are cooked, add 100g of frozen peas to the colander and leave to one side.
When you are ready to eat, put on a packet of your choice of pasta in boiling salted water. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add a crushed clove of garlic and hearty sprinkle of chilli flakes until they start to sizzle. Carefully lay out 2 courgettes, sliced into disks, in one layer and leave to fry on one side until they become brown. Turn them over and repeat on the other side. When they are well coloured, add in the vegetables you prepared earlier and fry until they become piping hot.
To prepare the sauce, take out 6 tablespoons of water from the cooking pasta and combine in a small saucepan with 100g of pesto and 2 tbsps. double cream. Warm gently over a low heat.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and add a knob of butter. To plate up, spoon some sauce onto each plate. Add a serving of pasta and top with a heap of the spicy vegetables! Enjoy!
Thank you for popping by my blog today and I hope you enjoyed my Top 5 Recipes to Cook on a Hob. Have you got any recipes that you make on a hob that you would have added to my list? I would love to hear your suggestions!
See you next time for another tuneful baking post, but in the meantime,
English Singing Baker x