Fool Proof Lasagna

Classic Lasagna

Fool Proof Lasagna

Nothing beats classic lasagna!
And this is the easiest recipe you will ever make. It’s FOOL PROOF ,  anyone can make it even if you have never cooked before. Follow the recipe exactly and you will be super happy with the result. Also, it can be made ahead of time and it’s freezer-friendly!
This recipes does take some time to make and a little bit more effort – but I promise you, it’s worth it. I even double the recipe some times and put one lasagna in the freezer.
The lasagna has layers of classic meat sauce, bechamel and cheese. A.K.A. layers of goodness!
This one of those dishes that tastes even better the very next day! So if you have leftovers, lucky you!

Serves: 6-8

Cooking time: approx. 1 hour


INGREDIENTS:

• 9 fresh lasagna noodles
• 1 pound ground beef
• 4 oz. finely chopped bacon
• 1 onion peeled and diced small
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
• Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 1/2 Cup Pasatta (tomato sauce)
• 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 1 tbsp. bouillon powder
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
• 1 C. red wine or water
BECHAMEL:
• 1/2 Cup Butter
• 1/2 Cup Flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 4 Cups milk
• a grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp.
• 1 bay leaf
ADDITIONAL:
• 3 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

•Fool Proof Lasagna

DIRECTIONS MEAT SAUCE:
• Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C . Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
• Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the bacon and fry until it starts releasing a bit of fat, add the ground beef and onion and cook until beef has browned, add the garlic. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; season with pepper, to taste. Drain off excess fat. Put back on the heat. Stir in the pasatta, bouillon powder and Italian seasoning until well combined. Add the wine or water and let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
• Remove from heat.

Fool Proof Lasagna

DIRECTIONS BECHAMEL:
1. Heat a large pot with a thick bottom, add the butter and melt.
2. Add the flour and stir with a whisk until well combined.
3. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly, until very well combined and there are no lumps at all.
4. Add the bay leaf and nutmeg.
5. Simmer for about ten minutes until flour is fully “cooked”
6. Remove from heat.
ASSEMBLE LASAGNA:
1. Spread 1 cup tomato mixture onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish; top with 3 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the bechamel sauce and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat . Top with remaining noodles, tomato mixture, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan.
2. Place into oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bubbling.
3. Let cool 15 minutes. This is an important step! *
4. Serve, garnished with parsley, if desired.
*Letting the Lasagna rest for 15 minutes will ensure that you can cut beautiful squares or portions.
*MAKE-AHEAD: Cover lasagna tightly with foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until completely cooked through and golden on top.
*TO FREEZE UNCOOKED: Cover lasagna tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake, remove plastic wrap, cover with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Uncover; bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until completely cooked through.
*COOKED from frozen: sometimes I will make this recipe and divide it into four portions and pack them into foil baking dishes. Then freeze, when I’m in a hurry I will only have to defrost and place on a plate and microwave, and believe me….still really delicious.

Fool Proof Lasagna

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chicken banh mi

Lemongrass and Ginger Grilled Chicken Banh Mi with Ginger Lime Sriracha Mayo

chicken banh mi

…AND CRUNCHY VIETNAMESE MANGO SLAW!

Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off, this is actually very easy, there are just a few steps that need to be taken, and believe me you won’t be sorry. Because these Lemon grass and Ginger grilled Chicken Banh Mi are the business!
The smell in my kitchen when I was grilling the chicken was incredible…
Grilling the chicken gives it an amazing caramelized crispy sticky outside. Serve on a warm baguette with crunchy Vietnamese Slaw and drizzle with the ginger lime Sriracha mayo. Full of sweet, savoury, sour and spicy notes
Good times, I promise!
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SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS BANH MI:

• 4 Baguettes
• Grilled Chicken, sliced
• Vietnamese Slaw
• Ginger Lime Sriracha Mayo
• Cucumber, about half, sliced
• Cilantro (Koriander) , a handful. Roughly chopped
• Lots of paper napkins!

CHICKEN:
• 1 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, de-boned

MARINADE:
• 2 tbsp. soy sauce
• 2 tbsp. fish sauce
• 1 tbsp. coconut sugar
• 1 tbsp. honey
• 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
• 2 tsp. fresh peeled and grated ginger
• 1 lemongrass stalk, bashed with the side of a meat hammer
• 1 tablespoon chopped Thai (or Sweet) basil
• 1 tsp. hot sauce
• Zest and juice of 1 medium lime
• 1 garlic clove , minced (about 1 teaspoon)
• Cooking oil spray
• Freshly ground black pepper

chicken banh mi

METHOD:
1. Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a measuring cup. Pour over chicken thighs or breasts and seal bag or place in a large dish and cover.
2. Marinate for at one hour or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
3. Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature one hour before grilling.
4. Heat your griddle pan.
5. Remove chicken from bag. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Discard marinade.
6. Spray both sides of thighs with oil. Place on griddle pan.
7. Season generously with black pepper.
8. Grill for about 2 minutes on each side on high.
9. Lower the heat.
10. Continue grilling until thighs are done, about 7 to 10 minutes more. Chicken will feel firm to the touch. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

chicken banh mi

chicken banh mi

VIETNAMESE MANGO SLAW:
• 2 cups shredded cabbage
• 4 spring onions, finely sliced
• 2 medium carrots, cut in to julienne
• 1/2 Mango, peeled and cut in to julienne
• 1 cup bean sprouts
• 1/2 bunch coriander, washed
• 1/2 bunch Thai basil
• 1 long red chili, de-seeded
• 1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
• 1 tsp. ginger, peeled and grated
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• 2 tbsp. ginger syrup (from the jar of candied stem ginger)

chicken banh mi
METHOD SLAW:
1. Place cabbage in a bowl with the spring onions, bean sprouts and carrots. Roughly chop the coriander and Thai basil and add to the bowl. Cut the chilli in half then cut across into fine strips.
2. Add the chilli to the bowl.
3. Place the remaining ingredients into a small jar and shake well until the sugar has dissolved. Dress the salad.
4. Put on some plastic disposable gloves and start mixing well with your hands – make sure it all gets covered in dressing or it will taste bland.

GINGER LIME SRIRACHA MAYO:
• 3/4 cup Mayo
• 1 piece candied stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped or grated
• 2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
• Juice of half a lime
METHOD MAYO:
1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon.

chicken banh mi
TO ASSEMBLE THE BANH MI:
Pre heat the oven to 200° C / 400° F
1. Slightly dampen the baguettes with a little water. Wrap them in foil and heat them in the oven for about 10 minutes.
2. Remove from oven. Remove foil and discard.
3. Carefully slice open. Hot!
4. Spread a generous amount of the Ginger Lime Sriracha mayo on the bottom of the baguette.
5. Then a layer of sliced cucumber.
6. Then the grilled chicken.
7. Top with Vietnamese Slaw
8. Sprinkle over some cilantro
9. Drizzle over some more mayo
10. Put the top of the Baguette on.

Serve with plenty of paper napkins!

Enjoy!
Myra XO

chicken banh mi

greek meatballs in tomato sauce

Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, Keftedes me Saltsa Domata

greek meatballs

After having our first beach day of the season today I felt it more than appropriate to share this super delicious and easy dish with you that just screams SUMMER .

It’s the kind of dish you make in a breeze and it tastes heavenly, it reminds me of long hot summers in Greece.
You can serve it with pita bread and a Greek salad or oven fries, it’s all good and the point is to keep it simple.

greek meatballs in tomato sauce
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⏰ Prep time: 10 min
♨ Cooking time : 15
🍴 Serves : 4-6
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Ingredients:

• 1 lb. ground beef, pork, or lamb
• 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
• 1 tbsp. dried oregano
• 1⁄4 tsp. ground all spice * SEE NOTE
• 1 small red onion, grated
• 1 clove garlic grated
• 2 large egg yolks
• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
————————
• 1 tablespoon olive oil (Greek preferably)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 1⁄2 tbsp. tomato paste
• a pinch of sugar
• 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes
• 2 tsp oregano
• 1/4 tsp all spice
• 1 cup dry white wine
• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 tbsp. chopped dill, for garnish

greek meatballs in tomato sauce

Instructions:

In a medium bowl combine the meat with the breadcrumbs, oregano, all spice, grated onion, garlic, salt, pepper and egg yolks.
Divide mixture into small balls or roll into ovals.
Heat a non stick skillet over high heat and working in batches, cook meatballs until browned on all sides for about 6-8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.
Heat olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and a pinch of sugar. Tip in the can of tomatoes and the white wine. Add the oregano and all spice. Season with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs back to the skillet and cook for another 10 minutes. Garnish with Dill.

καλή όρεξη.

• NOTE: If you don’t have All Spice you can make a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves in equal parts.

Enjoy!
Myra XO

greek meatballs in tomato sauce

Madras Salmon Burger with Devilled Mango Mayo

This is not your typical Burger, loaded with sauce, pickles, cheese, bacon , lettuce and all sorts of extra’s ….a.k.a. a bit too much.
No, this Madras Salmon Burger is a whole different story.
It is so good like you wouldn’t believe until you try it of course, which I hope you do because you will forever be grateful. I kept it simple to honour the flavour of the Salmon the best way possible. Just a little sauce for the bun and some crispy Iceberg Slaw for cool and crunch.
The trick to this burger is to chop it by hand, not in the food processor. I tried that once and the consistency wasn’t right, to pressed together. Chopping it by hand is easier than it sounds and done rather quickly. And so worth it because the texture is perfect, with a nice bite and a very juicy end result. The burgers will seem less firm than a regular burger but that’s ok, the corn starch act as a binding agent. They will firm up in the pan, have faith they will turn out perfectly.
We have been eating these a lot lately, like once or twice a week for the past few weeks and every time I mean to take a few pictures but I can’t resist and eat the Burger straight away in fear of letting it go to waste or maybe losing it’s slightly pink juicy middle.
But at last here is the recipe.

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 15 mins

madras salmon burger

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

• 1 lb./ 500 gr. Salmon fillet
• 1 tsp. Madras Curry powder
• 1 tsp. Corn Starch
• 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
• 2 Spring Onions, chopped
• a Dash of Tabasco
• Season generously with salt
• Pepper
Devilled Mango Mayo
• 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
• 1/3 cup Yoghurt
• 1/4 cup Mango Chutney
• 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp. Sambal Oelek
• Salt and pepper to taste
Ice Berg Slaw
• 1 cup finely shredded Ice Berg Lettuce
• 1 medium grated carrot
• a handful radishes, cut into match sticks
• 2 Spring onions, chopped

Instructions:

1. For the Ice Berg Slaw, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
For the Devilled Mango Mayo, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
For the Madras Salmon Burger, if using fresh salmon, place in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm it up bit. Then place the salmon on a cutting board and with a very sharp large knife slice it first into slices and then into small squares.
Finally start chopping it until you have very small bits left. Keep it textured though.
Place the salmon in a bowl and add the madras curry powder, corn starch, cilantro, spring onions, salt, pepper and tabasco.
Form into 4 patties.
Heat a frying pan to which you have added a little coconut oil or light olive oil. Fry on each side for two minutes on medium high heat.
Meanwhile split open the burger buns and toast until golden.
To serve, spread sauce on the bun halves, place the salmon burger on the bottom bun and the Ice Berg Slaw on top. Cover with the other half of the bun. Serve straight away.

Enjoy!
Myra XO

quick cream of tomato soup with basil

Quick Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil

quick cream of tomato soup with basil

What can be more comforting than a bowl of soup? If you need a quick fix, or are in a hurry to get dinner on the table, this one is for you.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 tbsp. Olive oil
• 1 small onion, peeled and chopped fine
• 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
• 2 medium carrots, washed and sliced
• 2 tbsp. tomato paste
• 2 cans peeled plum tomatoes
• 2 tubs passata
• 2 stock cubes, beef
• 2 tot 3 whole sprigs of basil with the leafs, left whole
• 1 – 2 tsp. sugar
• 1 Cup evaporated milk
• ¼ Cup Cream Cheese
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• A handful of fresh Basil leafs, for serving
• 1 Cup grated cheddar (loosely packed) for serving
• 1 tray ready made small meatballs

quick cream of tomato soup with basil

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
Add onions, carrots and garlic and sautée until translucent. About 5 minutes on medium low heat.
Add the tomato paste and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the canned tomatoes and passata and the stock cubes (crumbled between your fingers)
Also add one can (from the tomatoes) filled with hot water.
Add the whole sprigs of basil, bring to a slow simmer and leave for 15 – 20 minutes.
Remove the basil sprigs and blend with an immersion blender.
Add the meatballs.
Add milk and cream cheese. Add the sugar one teaspoon at a time and check how you like it, adding the remaining teaspoon if necessary. I like it sweet so I added two, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
At this point check the thickness of the soup, if you want it thinner add some more milk or water and if you do, adjust seasoning again.
Sprinkle with some Basil leafs and serve piping hot and serve with some crunchy baguette.

Enjoy!

Myra XO

Five Spice Slow roasted Pork Belly

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I Couldn’t wait to share this with you. A great change from all things turkey.
I think Asian is pretty much the opposite of turkey and I really needed that. I love the holidays and everything about them, but it’s time for something completely different.
This five spice slow roasted pork belly is going to drive you mad with delight once you’ve tasted it.
Tender as can be with and a super crispy skin, aka crackling!
And best of all, this piece cost me around € 6, 50 is weighs around 1.3 kg. / 2.8 lbs and you could easily serve six people from this piece. Hallelujah to that.
It’s important that you dry the skin very very well, then make cuts in it with a Stanley knife but not all the way thru to the meat, just the fat.
I’ve marinated it overnight in a plastic zip lock bag, skin side facing up so that that part is not in the marinade.
Then the next day, bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes, then on slow for 2 1/2 hours. This may seem like a long time and it is, but you want to render away as much fat as possible.

five-spice-pork-belly9

           

Ingredients;
1 pork belly, without bone  about 1.3 kg / 2.8 lbs.
1″grated fresh ginger, (don’t bother peeling it first)
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
1 tbsp. Pure Sesame Oil
2 tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
1 tbsp. Honey
1 1/2 tbsp. Soy Sauce or tamari  (gluten free)
1 tbsp. Conimex Ketjap Manis

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five-spice-pork-belly7

Method;

Mix the marinade in a bowl.

Place the pork in a zip lock bag, skin side down , pour and rub all the marinade over the meat, close the bag and carefully turn the skin side up.
Place the bag on a plate and leave to marinade for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight.

The next day,  Pre heat the oven to 220°C / 430°F

Remove the pork from the fridge an hour before cooking.

Remove the meat from marinade and discard the bag and juices.
Dry thoroughly with kitchen paper.

Take a sharp Stanley knife and make cuts all over the skin side of the belly diagonally, a third of an inch apart if you can.  All the way thru the fat but not yet touching the meat. This is important!

Rub with some salt and place in a roasting tin that has been lined with a double layer of foil.
Place in the hot oven and cook for about 20 minutes.
Lower the heat to 160°C / 320°F and cook for an other 2 1/2 hours. Cover loosely with some foil if the skin gets to dark, the foil does have to be tented to keep the crispyness.

Remove from oven. Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with rice noodles, Bok Choy and some hoisin sauce. Or any other vegetable of choice. Leftovers are heavenly and it also freezes well, but you do have to remove the skin because this can get a little chewy after freezing.

If you try this recipe let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #thecookingspoonblog  on instagram! You’ll make my day.

Not quite what you’re looking for? How about Sticky Shrimp & Pineapple with Jasmin Rice.

Browned Sage Butter and Turkey Pasta with wild Mushrooms and Prosciutto.

browned-sage-butter-and-turkey-pasta-with-wild-mushrooms14

 

I can’t believe it’s already boxing day, and the count down to New Years has begun. I truly hope everyone had a great Christmas. Now we can sort of relax for a week or so, take a breath, relax, cook some simple meals and get ready for the end of the year.

This easy pasta dish is perfect for the “in between” days, make it with left over turkey, or use fresh turkey or chicken. And by all means throw in any left overs, like a little gravy, some vegetables or whatever you like.

This easy recipe is done in under half an hour.

browned-sage-butter-and-turkey-pasta-with-wild-mushrooms1

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients;

2  to 3 medium chicken breasts,or 2 cups cooked leftover turkey, torn to pieces.

salt + pepper, to taste

4 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. butter, divided

4 slices prosciutto

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine

1 garlic clove peeled and grated

2 tbsp. flour

 

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup stock

1/4 cup fresh sage

pinch of fresh nutmeg

1 lb. Pasta, cooked

1  cup mixed wild mushrooms

1 small onion

1 clove garlic, minced or grated

freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

1/4 cup mascarpone or heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

 

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Method;

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the butter and oil start to sizzle, add  chicken and sage leafs and cook for 15 minutes on medium low, turning occasionally. Place the sage leafs on top of the chicken.  I like to use a cast iron pan for this because it gives the chicken a perfect crust.  Remove and transfer to plate.

Add the prosciutto to the pan and brown on both sides, for about two minutes, remove and transfer to plate.

Add the onion to the pan and cook gently for 4 minutes, add the garlic. Stir around and add the flour, cook for one minute and add the wine and stock, stirring to create a smooth sauce.

Add the mascarpone or cream, mix thru. Add the shredded chicken and two slices of torn up prosciutto.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the pasta until al dente.

Heat another large skillet over high heat, add the remaining olive oil. Once hot, toss in the mushrooms in a single layer. Without stirring cook them until golden brown, flip them over.Transfer half the mushroom to a plate.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain but DO NOT RINSE! add it to the pan with the mushrooms and toss well. Add the cream sauce with chicken heat thru. Scatter over the remaining wild mushrooms, some parsley and serve straight away. Top with some of the crispy prosciutto. And serve with Parmesan.

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browned-sage-butter-and-turkey-pasta-with-wild-mushrooms12

If you try this recipe let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #thecookingspoonblog on instagram! You’ll make my day.

 

Not quite what you were looking for? How about Garlic Herb Shrimp with Bacon over Angel Hair Pasta

Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce for two

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duck-breast-with-cherry-sauce40

I kind of feel like I am having tiny Christmas dinners all throughout the month of December. And I gotta say, I’m lovin’ it.

This is one of those dinners. Simple as can be and festive as can be.

Duck goes really well with any kind of fruit and is usually paired with citrus, but it goes equally well with berries and darker fruits like plums or cherries.

The Duck breast has been treated in a different way because I really dislike the skin. I do like the skin when it’s crispy, but how long does the crispiness last , really? By the time dinner gets to the table and you actually start eating the crispyness is almost gone.
So, what I do and what may seem as a shocker to some of you, but I remove the skin and treat the breast more like a steak. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper and pan fried. I use a cast iron pan for this because it works best in my opinion.

Then I cut up the skin in tiny bits and render the fat, where I then pan roast the potatoes and finish them of in the oven. This gives you the best roast potatoes you can ever imagine, and you’ll be surprised to see how the skin disappears in the pan almost completely.

The cherry sauce goes so well with the duck, it’s a little bit sweet and a little bit sour, perfect against the intense duck flavour, and such a festive dish.

      

Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients Duck Breasts;

2 Duck breasts

salt and pepper

Thyme

duck-breast-with-cherry-sauce2

Method;

Remove the Duck from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Remove the skin and chop fine. Place in a cast iron skillet and render the fat over low heat, until all the skin has almost disappeared. You will end up with about 4 to 6 tbsp. fat.

Season the duck breast on both sides, heat a cast iron frying pan over high heat with three tablespoons of the duck fat.
Place both duck breasts in the pan and don’t move them for about 3 minutes then turn the over. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Remove to a plate and let sit covered with foil for about five minutes.
This is medium cooked, if you like it less done cook it for 5 minutes total. For completely done 7 to 8  minutes, it depends a little bit on the size of the duck breast and the thickness.

Slice and serve with the pan roast potatoes and cherry sauce.

duck-breast-with-cherry-sauce12

cherry-sauce-for-duck-01

Ingredients Cherry Sauce;

1/2 C. brown Sugar or sugar of choice

1/2 C. Red wine Vinegar

2 whole Star Anise

1 Cinnamon Sticks

3 C. frozen Cherries (no stones)

1 tsp. corn starch

1 tbsp water

Method;

Place the sugar, vinegar, star anise and cinnamon in a medium non-stick frying pan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the cherries and cook, turning occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until just soft and the sauce has reduced a little. Make a slurry with the corn starch and water, add to the sauce and let thicken.

Ingredients Roast Potatoes;
1/2 Lb., potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp. fat rendered from duck breasts.
salt

Method;

Pre heat oven to 220° C  / 428° F
Par boil the potatoes for about ten minutes, drain, and let them steam off.
Heat the (oven proof) pan with rendered duck fat and roast the potatoes until they start ro turn golden brown. Place the pan in the oven and roast for an other 20 25 minutes until crispy and golden all over, turning ocasionally. Season with salt.

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If you try this recipe let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #thecookingspoonblog  on instagram! You’ll make my day.

Not quite what you’re looking for? How about Clementine Cranberry Roast Pork

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Stuffed Peppers and Aubergines

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Great vegetarian main dish!

During the holiday season you want to be able to serve a great main dish to your vegetarian guests that’s not just everyone else’s side dishes.

Well here to the rescue with this fantastic vegetarian main course. You can prepare it a day ahead and cook it in the oven on the day itself. Leaving you plenty of time to pour those drinks and catch up with your friends and family.

And we both know that it doesn’t have to be Christmas to serve these delicious stuffed vegetables, how about meatless Monday?

How about your new years resolutions? Has anyone started thinking about them? I have thought of a few, I want to start running more (ehem) I want to start running.

I walk a lot though. I bought a step counter thingy, ok let me look that up…..so, a pedometer and ever since I got it I have walked more and more, it’s almost like a curse. Now when I need to get cream for instance like yesterday evening, all of sudden it occurred to me that I had to make caramel for my daughters cake, I will walk , normally I would take my bike or car, but now I do walk everywhere. I think I probably walk about 8000 steps a day, which isn’t enough it should be 10.000 they say but hey, I’m moving.

And of course another good resolution would be to eat less meat. I think twice a week is more than enough. I already do that but my daughter for instance is such carnivore.She would have spare ribs for breakfast if she could.

So, give this a try and let me know if you miss the beef? I bet you won’t.

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Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side

Ingredients.

2 Aubergines

2 red peppers

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic, peeled and grated

1 pack of Quorn mince or vegetarian mince, 340 grs. / 12 oz.

2 cups cooked spelt or brown rice

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. agave or honey

1 tbsp. flour

1 cup vegetable stock

a handful parsley, chopped

2 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1 cup grated cheese like cheddar or gouda or vegan substitute

salt and pepper

Bechamel sauce;

4 tbsp. olive oil

1/3 cup flour

2 cups soy milk

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vegetarian-stuffed-peppers10

Method;

Pre heat oven to 200° / 390°

Wash all the vegetables, dry them and cut them in half. Cut the core and seeds out of the peppers leaving the stalk on. I actually try to cut the stalk in half too so everyone gets a bit of green.

Remove the flesh from the aubergine leaving about a quarter inch of the sides.

Cut up the flesh.

Put a large frying pan on the heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic until beginning to colour. Add the aubergine and celery and add the other tablespoon of oil. Season with the Cajun seasoning and cook for about 15 minutes until the aubergine is soft.

Add the quorn and spelt and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and sweetener. Cook for an other minute.

Add the tablespoon of flour and cook for a minute or two. Add a cup of stock and stir around, it should be getting a little  thick, the idea is to bind the filling a little bit so it holds better in the vegetables. Fill the peppers and aubergine halves and place them in a baking tray that has been covered with parchment paper.

To make the bechamel sauce;

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat.

Add the flour and whisk into the oil until smooth.
Cook  for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and changes to a lighter colour.
Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to stop lumps forming.
Cook for at least five minutes so the flour is  fully cooked.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the filled vegetables. and cover with aluminum foil, place on a rack in the middle of the oven.  After 30 minutes remove the foil and sprinkle generously with the grated cheddar. Return to the oven for additional 20-30 minutes.
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 If you try this recipe let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #thecookingspoon on instagram! You’ll make my day.

Clementine Cranberry Roast Pork

…with crème fraîche mashed potatoes.

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First of all I need to tell you that a Pork Roast is the best deal to feed a crowd. If you’re on a budget and have a lot of people coming over for Christmas, skip the Turkey, skip the Beef and go for roast pork, it’s the way to go, really.

This piece of meat cost me just 5 €, yes, that’s right 5€!

I almost wanted to ask the guy at the market if he had made a mistake. Almost….but I didn’t I figured he knew what he was doing, right?

And imagine what you can do with all the leftovers, we had this roast the other day obviously, and my daughter ate a huge baguette the next day with  thinly sliced pork and sate sauce, which was pretty awesome. But there are tons of other things you can make, like taco’s, enchiladas, ragú. I always look forward to left overs, it’s almost even better the next day.

I like to serve it with my crème fraîche mashed potatoes and lots of vegetables.

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Serves 6

Ingredients Spice mix;

1 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. ground Coriander

1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper

1/4 tsp.dried Thyme

1/4 tsp. Onion Powder

1/4 tsp.  Simply Organic Garlic Powder Certified Organic, 3.64-Ounce Container

1/8 tsp. Allspice

1/8 tsp. Ground Cloves

1/8 tsp. Cinnamon

Needed;

A large roasting tin

Ingredients Roast;

Boneless pork Shoulder or Butt 2.8 – 3  lbs

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter

3 celery sticks, cut into pieces

3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 onions, peeled and quartered

2 garlic bulbs

4 clementines

3 bay leaves

2 C. red wine

1/4 C. Cranberry jelly

salt and pepper

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Method;

Take your pork roast out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. Preheat the oven temperature to 320°F./ 160°C.

Place all the seasoning and spices in a little bowl and mix.

Dry the pork roast thoroughly with kitchen paper and tie up with kitchen rope if necessary. Season the pork roast all over.

Heat a frying pan of high heat and add two tablespoons of butter and two of olive oil., When hot add the roast and sear all over until you have a nice dark brown crust, this takes about 15 minutes. Rotating the roast to brown evenly.

Meanwhile cut up our vegetables and place in the bottom of a roasting tin, cut the tops of two garlic bulbs and place in the tin along with the vegetables. Cut two clementines in half and place in the tin as well. Season the vegetables generously with salt and pepper

Place the roast on top of the vegetables with all the juices from the frying pan, squeeze over the juice of two clementines and add 2 cups of red wine and  three bay leaves. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for two hours, checking after an hour to see how the liquid is doing, add some water if necessary.

After two hours, remove foil and cut away the kitchen twine if you have used it and spread the cranberry jelly over the roast. Return to oven and roast uncovered for an other half hour.

When an internal thermometer reads about 71° C /160° F, it should be just done.

Take the roast out of the oven and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

Tip: Use this resting time to finish off your other side dishes and make the gravy.

To make the gravy, pass all the ingredients from the roasting tin through a sieve, heat the gravy and taste , add some cranberry jelly if you like and thicken with a teaspoon of corn starch diluted in some cold water.

   

Crème fraîche Mashed Potatoes;

2 lb.  russet or Yukon gold potatoes

1/4 C. butter

3/4 C. hot milk

1/4 C. Crème fraîche

Peel and cut the potatoes in half add to a pot of cold salted water, cook for about 20 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and mash with 1/4 cup butter. Add the hot milk and the crème fraîche season with salt and pepper. Mash until desired consistency, I like my mash a tiny bit chunky but that’s personal.

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If you try this recipe let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #thecookingspoonblog on instagram! You’ll make my day.