My hungry family’s favourite feasts of 2020
It’s official the 2020 Top 9 favourite recipes have been decided by non-other than my hungry family of men.
Why 9? Well, we couldn’t agree on the 10th as everyone had a different favourite so 9 it is!
It was a very unusual year for us all but cooking became even more important.
Being able to cook together and trying new recipe ideas, really helped with lockdown days.
It was also lovely to all sit down together as a family at the end of each day and enjoy a delicious homemade meal.
So, without further delay, here are our Top 9.
Do you have some favourite dishes from 2020? Let me know in comments…
French onion, pigs-in-blankets casserole
- 8 chipolate sausages
- 6 medium to large onions, sliced
- 8 rashers of streaky bacon (or 4 – halve and stretch)
- splash of olive oil
- 25 g butter
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- salt and pepper to season
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 500 ml beef stock
- splash of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 1 baguette, sliced
- English mustard to spread on baguette slices
- grated cheese to sprinke & melt over baguette slices
- 250 g button mushrooms (optional)
- 2 garlic colves, sliced
- Wrap your sausages with the bacon and pop into a non-stick casserole dish with a little oil.Cook until nice and brown all over – approx 6 mins.Once done, take out and set aside.
- Next, add the butter (and maybe a little extra oil) into the same casserole dish and then add in your sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper.Sweat the onions until nice and soft, then add the garlic and mushrooms. Keep stirring from time to time until the onions have become caramalised and brown (not burnt) – approx 15 mins.Now, stir in the flour. Add in a splash of red wine vinegar, stock and thyme, stir, pop your pigs in blankets back in, and leave on the stovetop gently for 20 mins.
- While this is cooks, melt some butter in a pan and brush lightly onto both sides of the bread slices. Then spread a little mustard on one side. Pop under the grill and toast each side. Then sprinkle grated cheese and pop back under until nice and melted.
- To serve, place the cheesy croutons into the casserole and watch your family devour!
Slow-braised oxtail and beans
For the beans
- 3 x 400 g cannellini beans
- 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- 2 – 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 sprigs of sage
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 120 ml olive oil
- 800 g oxtail
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped 1cm pieces
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 120 g tomato paste
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 kg tomato passata (or use tinned tomatoes)
- 2 tbsp date syrup (or honey)
- Drain the liquid from the cans and give a quick rinse. Then add to a pan with the onion, rosemary, sage, garlic and cumin and add water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and leave for approx 30mins (you don't want the beans to break up).Drain the beans in a colander and leave to one sid.e
For the braised oxtail
- Season the oxtail liberally with salt and pepper.In a cast iron or casserole dish, on the stove on a medium heat, add the olive oil and (in batches if necessary), seal the meat so it's brown on all sides.Remove the meat onto a wire rack once browned and set aside.
- In the same pan, over medium heat, add the onions, carrots, celery and cook until softened and translucent.Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes.Next, stir in the tomato paste and fry for approx 5mins before pouring in the red wine and stirring to deglaze the pan.Now, add in the passata, date syrup and gently place the oxtail back in before covering with water.Get to a simmer, then leave on your lowest setting, covered for 3 – 4hrs.You want the sauce to reduce and darken and the oxtail to be tender and almost falling apart.NB: you can add more water throughout the cooking as the oxtail should be submerged.
- Now, add the beans back into the dish and place in the oven (uncovered) for another 1 – 1.5hrs on 160C/140C fan.NB: instead of using your oven and to give a smoky taste, you can use your BBQ smoker to cook the oxtail and beans for another 2hrs on 120C.OR you could add some paprika to your dish in the oven
Marry Me Chicken
- Oven proof frying pan or a deep pan that can be used for frying and placed in oven
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 chicken breasts
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup double cream
- 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- fresh basil for garnish
- Preheat oven to 190 C/395 F
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil on a medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place (skin-side down) to cook until golden brown (approx 4-5mins each side).Once done, transfer to a plate with half the juices from the pan.
- Now, in the pan and on a medium heat, add the garlic, thyme, and chilli flakes. Cook until fragrant, (approx 1 min) then stir in the broth, double cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and Parmesan.Season with more salt if needed.Bring to a simmer and return the chicken to the pan, skin-side up.
- Lastly, place your oven proof pan into the oven and bake until chicken is cooked through (juices clear) , approx 15 – 20 mins.Garnish with basil and serve.
Ultimate burger… the Kiwiburger
- 500 g quality beef mince
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- 4 burger buns
- 4 slices of cheddar cheese
- 2 sliced tomatoes
- 1 lettuce or lettuce leaves
- 1 sliced beetroot (canned)
- 2 onions
- 4 fried eggs (optional – I switch this out for pineapple rings)
- 4 *pineapple rings *as above
- tomato sauce
- Put the mince in a bowl. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and ground pepper and mix everything with your hands and divide into 4 equal portions.
- Flatten each portion into a patty.
- Turn the oven to 200C/fan 180C (so you can pop the cooked ones in there while you do each patty if your frying pan can't do all at once).Heat a non-stick frying pan on high heat.Fry the patties for 2 minutes each side.When you have done them all, top each with a slice of cheese and put in the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts.In the meantime, in the same pan, fry your onion until caramelised – a few minutes then set aside.Now, fry your eggs in the pan and get ready to build your burgers when donw.
- Now build the burger!Put some tomato sauce on each bun base. Add the patty with melted cheese. Then add lettuce, a slice of tomato, sliced beetroot, onions, your fried egg (or pineapple ring).Serve to a very happy person!
Steak tagliata with green beans and fried gnocchi
- large platter for serving
- 2 x 200g rump or sirloin steak (quality steak)
- 7 tbsp olive oil
- knob of butter
- 200 g green beans, top and tail
- 300 g fresh gnocchi
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 juice of lemon
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon and parsley
For the platter – no cooking
- 1 packet or watercress (or use rocket)
- 250 g vine cherry tomatoes (cut in half if they are too big)
- Fresh basil, parmesan shavings and black pepper, to serve
- Heat a griddle or frying pan until smoking hot. Brush the steaks with olive oil, then season. Griddle/fry for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium.Set aside to rest.
- In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and a knob of butter, then fry your beans. After a couple of minutes add you fresh gnocchi and cook until golden and heated through (approx 5 mins). Season with salt and black pepper.
- Now in a bowl, mix 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and fresh tarragon and parsley. Lightly season.
- On a large platter, scatter the watercress, the beans, crispy fried gnocchi and lastly the cherry tomatoes before adding the sliced steak.Drizzle over the dressing and serve with a garnish of fresh basil, parmesan shavings and black pepper.
Sugarsnap and peas with mint dressing (& grilled lamb chops)
- 250 g sugarsnap peas (topped and tailed)
- 100 g peas (I used frozen)
- 1/4 cup mint leaves (loosely packed) to add at the end
- 1/4 bunch of mint leaves (and stems)
- 80 ml sunflower oil or grapeseed oil (basically a fairly neutral tasting oil)
- 50 ml white wine vinegar
- 3 tsp castor sugar
- 1/2 garlic clove, finely grated/crushed
- 1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
- Bruise the mint with the side of your knife then add to a small saucepan with oil over a medium heat.Heat it for 2 – 4 mins or until you see bubbles just start to surface. Then take off and cool to room temp. Strain the oil into a small bowl and discard the mint leaves.In a larger bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until the sugar dissolves. now, add the oil and whisk to combine it all.
Sugarsnap and peas
- Blanch your sugarsnap and peas in boiling water until bright green (usually takes about 2mins).Refresh them in iced or cold water and strain.Now add them to the bowl with the mint dressing, add the fresh mint leaves, season to taste and leave for a few minutes to marinade, then serve with your grilled chops. (*How to cook chops Do's and Don't in my post – link below in Notes)
Murgh Makhani aka Butter Chicken curry
- 8 boneless chicken thighs (remove the skin) (you can also use chicken breast)
- 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste (Tip: I bought these separately and did 50/50 to make up the tbsp. You could also sub in fresh)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
- 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (Tip: you can mix 50/50 cayenne and paprika or just paprika if you can't find Kasmiri chilli powder)
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 green chillies
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cloves
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and chopped
- 10 tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tbsp clear runny honey
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp cashew nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp Kasoori methi, (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 60 ml single cream
- 4 knobs of butter
Marinade the chicken
- Mix the chicken with the ginger and garlic paste and salt.Then whisk together the yoghurt, chilli powder, garam masala and oil.Now, massage this into the chicken and marinade for a minimum of 4 hours in the fridge
- Pierce the green chillies a few times with a sharp knife.Heat the oil in a saucepan add the green chillies, the whole spices, bay leaves and ginger and sauté for a couple of minutes.Then add the tomatoes and simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes (or until the tomatoes are cooked to a pulp).
- Once the tomatoes etc are cooked e, pass them a strainer or sieve and put this smooth sauce aside. Whatever is still left in the sieve (after removing and discarding the whole spices and green chillies), purée in a blender, with a little water if required. Pass again through a sieve and add to the tomato sauce. Place the sauce back on the heat, bring to the boil and add the chilli powder, honey, tomato paste and butter.Season with salt and simmer for a further 20 minutes
The final cook and serving
- Grill the marinated chicken under a hot grill, BBQ or oven until cooked.Add the cooked chicken to a saucepan over a medium heat and stir in the cashews and pour in the makhani sauce. Sprinkle with the Kasoori methi, add the cream, a few more knobs of butter, stir and simmer for a few minutes.Serve with naan or rice.
Gammon with Kale
- 1 piece gammon
- 2 handfuls kale
- 1 x 400g tin butter beans
- salt and pepper to season
- 4 tblsp olive oil for the butter bean mash
- chilli flakes Optional
- Take a thick slice of gammon and grind a little black pepper over it (approx 250 g or more)
- Open and drain out the tin of butter beans – give the a little rinse to get that liquid off them.Then tip them into a saucepan, covering with water and bring to the boil. Once they boil, turn down the heat and simmer for around 7 minutes. Then drain and leave in the saucepan
- Next, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in your frying pan and add in your gammonFry for approx 6 minutes per side (or until firm) and you see that nice light golden colour on the fat. Take off the heat and put on a plate.(*you will need the frying pan in a minute so don't wash away the lovely gammon juices)
- In the saucepan the beans are in, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, grind in some black pepper and a pinch of sea salt and using just a fork 'mash' the beans. NB. if you want ultra smooth beans, use a food processor but this is a quick, less 'clean-up' method
- Lastly, take two handfuls kale and fry in the pan the gammon was in so it gets all those juices and flavours. Keep stirring it around so it doesn't burn. I add a few chilli flakes here as well just for a bit of heat but it's up to you
- Serve up and enjoy
Watermelon, tomato and feta salad
This is a sweet and super refreshing summer salad.
And I honestly thought it sounded a bit ‘wrong’ mixing watermelon with tomatoes.
But it really does work and the dressing makes it a big winner.
This recipe will serve around 6 people.
- 1 baby watermelon (about 1 – 1.5kg)
- 1/2 cups fresh mint
- 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 250 – 350 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice or lemon
- 1 tsp pure honey
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Crumbled feta
- Remove the rind from watermelon and cut the flesh into 1 1/2-inch-thick triangle’s and arrange on a large platter.
2. Scatter with fresh mint, red onion and halved cherry tomatoes.
3. For the dressing: Mix the olive oil, fresh lime juice, pure honey, and sea salt and black pepper in a bowl. Drizzle over the platter (just before serving) and crumble over with crumbled feta.