PIGS IN BLANKETS

Everybody loves this traditional Christmas side dish and we’ve got three tasty twists including black pudding, butternut squash and chestnuts – you choose!

Ingredients:

  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 16 chipolatas

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Cut the bacon rashers in half. Wrap a piece of bacon around each of the chipolatas.

  2. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30-35 mins until golden.

COURGETTE AND OLIVE QUICHE

Courgettes form a mild base for a quiche that is transformed with tangy feta and an equally punchy ­olive tapenade – perfect picnic ­fodder.

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time and 30 minutes resting time | Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

SERVES

Four to six

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 170g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 30g toasted ground hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 120g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

  • 150g courgette, grated
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp picked fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 300ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp shop-bought black olive tapenade

METHOD

  1. Place the flour, hazelnuts and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold diced butter and pulse briefly until the mixture resembles the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and briefly blend again before adding the cold water, a little at a time, and mixing until you achieve a smooth dough.
  2. Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
  4. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of a pound coin so it’s large enough to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Line the tin with the pastry, pressing it against the edge of the tin gently and allowing the excess to fall over the sides. If the pastry becomes too brittle after rolling out, place it back in the fridge before lining the tin.
  5. Line the inside with baking parchment and fill with ceramic baking beans or uncooked rice/pulses. Place the case on a baking sheet and bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, take out the parchment and cooking weights and return to the oven to continue cooking for a further 10 to 15 minutes, until the pastry case is golden brown and cooked through.
  7. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1.
  8. Meanwhile, for the filling, tip the grated courgette into a colander with a bowl underneath.
  9. Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of flaky salt and toss it through, then leave for 30 minutes for the moisture to seep out. Tip the courgette on to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess liquid, then tip the dry courgette into a bowl and add the feta, thyme, eggs, and cream. Season well then beat together.
  10. Spread the tapenade all over the pastry base. Pour in the courgette and feta custard and bake for 45 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

HOW TO COOK STEAK

One thing to make clear right away: there isn’t one perfect way to cook a steak. Different cuts and sizes of steak with varying degrees of marbling and fatty edges make a one-size-fits-all solution to this meatiest of questions pretty much impossible.

How to cook the perfect steak

You’ll find heaps of complex and contradictory advice out there about how to cook the steak to beat all steaks. Jamie Oliver recommends creating a herb brush from woody herbs tied to a wooden spoon to dust enthusiastically over your sizzling steak, Harold McGee swears by wrapping the meat in clingfilm and submerging in hot water to get the meat warm before cooking…

Chef Flo has brought it back to basics with a foolproof approach to steak which will have you cooking perfectly sealed steak that’s deliciously tender. She’s used sirloin for it’s lovely marbled meat, but the method is broad enough that you can adjust and apply it to other cuts as well. Check out the video below, or scroll down to see the steps for the easy way to cook an incredible steak.

Make all your cooking easy! Have a look at our recipe boxes.


Cooking Sirloin Steak

  1. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 1
    First, it’s important to allow your steak to reach room temperature before cooking. Take it out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before you’re planning to cook. As an added bonus, the longer you leave it out the more it will start to dry out, which helps it to create a good seal in the pan, trapping in all the meaty moisture.
  2. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 2
    Rub your steak on both sides with oil, making sure each side is fully covered. Try to use oil with a high smoke point instead of olive oil; we’d suggest vegetable oil, groundnut oil or rice bran oil, all of which have a nice high smoke point.Once you’ve oiled your steak, sprinkle some good chunky salt on both sides. It’s worth adding a big pinch on each side – more than you’d usually use in cooking – so that you can see the crystals on the surface of the steak. We don’t worry about pepper, as we’ll be cooking at a high temperature and pepper can burn in this sort of heat.
  3. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 3
    Bring a dry (unoiled) pan to a super high heat – the higher the heat, the better the seal and the more tender you’re cooked steak will be. Add your steak to the pan allow it to seal on one side for 1-2 minutes before turning. Judge the time from sight – you can always lift up and edge with tongs to see how it’s cooking underneath if you need to!
  4. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 4
    Flip the steak and cook on the other side. If it needs to cook for a little bit longer, give it a bit of extra time on both sides, but try to keep the total time on each side more or less even.
  5. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 5
    Once your steak is cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate (rather than a flat surface like a chopping board) and cover it with a clean tea towel. Leave your steak to rest like this for as long as you were cooking it in the pan – so this will vary according to how thick your steak is.
  6. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 6
    Resting your steak will allow the juices to gather – these can make an delicious dressing, or can be mixed with a bit of butter and herbs and poured back over the steak for a rich, decadent finish.
  7. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 7

Finally, dig in! I like my steak medium-rare, but you can always vary cooking (and resting!) times for different results.

Another lovely, healthy and lean steak cut is ‘minute steak‘ – it’s thin and flat and only takes a minute to cook – as the name suggests!

SPAG BOL

Ingredients

Method

  1. Place the mince in a large non-stick saucepan with the onion, celery, carrots and garlic. 

  2. Dry-fry over a medium heat, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon for 8–10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are beginning to brown. 

  3. Add the mushrooms and fry with the mince and vegetables for another 2–3 minutes. 

  4. Sprinkle over the flour and stir well, then add the wine, tomatoes and tomato purée, along with 300ml/12fl oz cold water. 

  5. Crumble the stock cube over the top then add the caster sugar and herbs. 

  6. Season with a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, stir well and bring to a simmer. 

  7. When the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 30–40 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

  8. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. As soon as the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and push it down with a wooden spoon to encourage the strands to separate. It’s important to use lots of water so the spaghetti can move freely without sticking together. Cook for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

  9. While the spaghetti is cooking, increase the heat under the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and the sauce is rich and thick. Stir regularly and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  10. Drain the spaghetti in a colander and divide between warmed bowls.

  11. Spoon the Bolognese sauce on top, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

CEREAL FOR DINNER

It is Light

If you’ve spent the day running around like a nut and arrive home late, cooking dinner can feel completely unmanageable when all you want to do is sink into a comfy seat and put your feet up. Pouring yourself a bowl of cereal may seem like a sad dinner option, but can actually be a great option. In truth, if you’re heading to bed shortly after your dinner (which, by the way, you shouldn’t do) a bowl of cereal is a light way to satiate yourself without over doing it.

Easy Cleanup

If you don’t feel like spending a ton of time cleaning up, a simple bowl of cereal won’t require much clean up at all.

It Has Vitamins and Minerals

If you choose your cereal wisely, meaning ones with no added sugar, it can deliver a good dose of vitamins and minerals. In whole grain cereal, you can get dietary fiber, B vitamins, minerals, protein, and more.

Cereal For Dinner

You Can Dress It Up

Have a thing for fresh strawberries or blueberries? Adding fruit to low-sugar cereal can add sweetness and texture to an otherwise plain cereal.

Shutterstock
Cereal For Dinner

It’s Cheap

You don’t need to spend a fortune on hefty, unhealthy take out. And you get instant gratification for a lot less money.

MAPLE GLAZED HOT DOGS

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Place the sausages in a non-stick baking tray and roast for 20 mins. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions and mustard seeds together for 10-15 mins until softened and golden.

  2. Remove the sausages and brush with maple syrup. Pop the baguettes onto the same baking tray. Increase the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and return the tray for 5-8 mins until the sausages are dark, shiny and cooked through. Stir the mustard, sugar and vinegar into the onions until the sugar has melted. Cut the baguettes open across the top and put 2 sausages into each. Spoon over the mustardy onions and serve.

NIGHT CEREAL

You walk in the door at 9 PM after a god-awful day at work, starving and exhausted. Cooking dinner is out of the question. So should you order takeout—or just have a bowl of cereal?

Sure, a greasy container of moo shu pork would taste great. But you’ll probably feel a hell of a lot better after eating the cereal. Because despite what you might think, it’s actually pretty easy to turn the stuff into a respectable meal that will fill you up and actually deliver some nutrition. Here’s how.    

1. First, pick a clean cereal.
If it’s gonna be the base of your meal, it better not be junk. So before you start filling up your bowl, make sure your cereal is pretty clean. Obviously, that means no artificial colors or preservatives—or weird ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or soy protein isolate. As for the nutritional stats? A serving should have 200 calories or less and at least 5 g of fiber, says Keri Gans, a registered dietician and author of The Small Change Diet. And keep it below 10 g of sugar per serving. (Try one of these 10 low-sugar cereal options.)

2. Pay attention to the serving size.
It’s insanely easy to pour yourself two or three times as much cereal as the serving size calls for, especially if you’re using a big bowl. But if literally measuring out your cereal feels too diet-y, at least try to eyeball a reasonable portion. A 1-cup serving is about two handfuls.

MORE: The 10 Best Organic Cereals

3. Add a solid source of protein.
This is the stuff that’ll keep you from raiding the fridge again in 2 hours. If you’re using dairy milk, great—pouring a cup over your cereal will give you 8 g of protein. But if you’re using a nondairy milk, like almond or coconut, you’ll need to get your protein from somewhere else. Try adding a generous spoonful of nut butter, a few tablespoons of chopped nuts or seeds, or even a scoop of protein powder. Or just skip the milk altogether and use plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese instead. Both pack more than 20 g of protein per cup.

4. Toss in plenty of fresh fruit.
How ’bout some kale with your Kashi? Um, no thanks. We’re all about finding surprising ways to get more vegetables, but the cereal bowl is where we draw the line. Still, that’s not an excuse to leave your meal entirely devoid of fresh produce. Top your cereal with at least one serving of fruit—or more, if you’re really hungry, since it’s almost impossible to get too much. Think fresh or frozen and thawed berries, chopped banana or pineapple, grated apple, or sliced grapes. (Here are good frozen options.)

MORE: Quinoa Cereal, Anyone?

5. Resist the urge to add extra sugar.
You’re hopefully getting a decent amount of sweetness from all that fruit, which means you shouldn’t need to sprinkle on any table sugar or add any honey. If you still want more sweetness, add a tablespoon or two of dried fruit—like raisins, dried cherries, or chopped dates—so you’re at least getting some extra fiber. Or just use a little bit of stevia. But remember, this is dinner—not dessert.