Four fab autumnal comfort food recipes

A little while ago life had gotten a bit too busy, and I got burned out. I’d get up and leave the house before dawn, to spend up to two hours commuting to work, get to my desk by 9 and work intensely and under a lot of pressure until the evening, then spend two hours making my way back home, whilst planning dinner, then stop off at a supermarket and start making dinner as soon as I get home – by which point it’s already 9pm. By the time we’ve finished dinner and tidied and cleaned up, plus checked on the building work (we had builders in 24/7 whilst renovating our new home), it’s nearly midnight, then we get 6 hours sleep before we do it all again. Day after day. Week after week. I barely saw any friends, as they live more central and are often leading similarly busy lives themselves. I felt lonely and isolated, and very very stressed.

As a way to make life a little more manageable, we treated ourselves to three weeks of HelloFresh deliveries, so that we had one less thing to do or to think about, and it saved us a lot of time and stress! It may sound silly but it really did make such a big difference. I’d leave work and go straight home to find food already in the fridge, with a recipe and clear instructions on how to prepare it, and every night we enjoyed something different. We started eating at 8pm instead of 10pm, and we felt healthier and less tired! There were many other perks too – the recipes come in perfect proportions so there is no food waste, all the food is good quality and free range to put your mind at ease, the recipes are all different and so every evening we try something new and break routine, and we didn’t have to waste any more time queuing in supermarkets – as delivery is free!

You can either opt for the Family Box which feeds 4 – 5 people, the Classic Box which feeds 2 – 4 people, or the Veggie Box for 2 – 4 vegetarian people! We tried the Classic Box for three weeks and here are some of our favourite recipes we tried:

Herbed pork and tomato risotto

You will need:

  • Chicken Stock Pot
  • Tomato Passata 200g
  • Onion
  • Garlic Clove
  • Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Tuscan Pork Sausage
  • Netherend Butter Salted
  • Arborio Rice
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Parmesan Cheese

Method:

1. Bring 800ml of water to a gentle simmer in a pot. Once simmering, add the chicken stock pot and the passata and stir thoroughly. Tip: Leave the stock on the lowest heat to keep it hot during the whole cooking process.

2. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Chop the parsley and set aside. Remove the skin from the sausage and break the sausage meat up into chunks.

3. Heat the butter and 2 tsp of olive oil in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the onion and sausage and cook slowly for 5 mins until the onion is soft and the sausage is cooked, then add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.

4. Add the arborio rice and fennel seeds and stir together for 30 seconds to coat the rice in the butter and olive oil. Turn the heat to medium, add ¼ tsp of salt and stir. Tip: You want there to be a slight translucency around the edges of the rice.

5. If you have some white wine in your kitchen, add 4 tbsp now. Tip: Let the alcohol in the wine bubble off for a minute to mellow the flavour. If you don’t have any wine don’t worry – just move to step 6.

6. Add a ladle of the stock and passata mix to the rice and stir it with long, massaging motions. Once this is almost absorbed, add another ladle and continue stirring. Tip: Risotto does need a bit of attention but the resulting flavour is worth it!

7. Continue adding the stock and passata mix and stirring as above for around 15 to 20 mins. When your risotto is almost ready, grate in the parmesan. Tip: The risotto is ready when the rice is cooked through but has the slightest hint of firmness left in the middle.

8. Once your risotto is ready, add a little more stock (or water if you don’t have any stock left) to make it slightly runny. Test for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve into warm bowls with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and eat immediately. Tip: Add a tsp of butter at the last minute if you want to be naughty!

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Middle Eastern Spiced Beef Ragout with Couscous, Coriander and Flaked Almonds

You will need:

  • Beef Mince
  • Red Onion
  • Garlic Clove
  • Red Pepper
  • Ras-El-Hanout
  • Chopped Tomatoes
  • Beef Stock Pot
  • Couscous
  • Courgette
  • Coriander
  • Flaked Almonds

Method:

1. Heat a wide frying pan over high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef mince to the pan. Break it up with a wooden spoon, season with salt and ground black pepper and cook for 7 mins or until nicely browned. Get on with the rest of your prep as it cooks away.

2. Cut the red onion in half through the root. Peel and then chop into 1cm cubes or as small as you can. Peel and grate the garlic. Remove the core from the red pepper and slice as thinly as you can.

3. Once the meat has browned, add the chopped red onion, red pepper and the ras-el-hanout to the meat and cook for another 5 mins. Add the garlic and then cook for a minute before pouring in the chopped tomatoes. Half fill the empty tin with water and add this to the pan. Stir in the beef stock pot and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to bubble away for 20 mins.

4. While the beef cooks away, pop the couscous in a bowl and season with ¼ tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix in 1 tbsp of olive oil and then pour in 300ml of boiling water. Cover the bowl with clingfilm or a plate and leave for 10 mins.

5. Chop the top and bottom off the courgette and then cut into eight 1cm thick angled slices (see pic). Roughly chop the coriander.

6. Heat another frying pan over medium heat and toast the flaked almonds for 3 mins or until golden brown. Tip: Watch the almonds like a hawk, they burn very easily!

7. Once the flaked almonds are out of the pan, increase the heat to high and cook the courgettes for 5 mins on each side (without any oil). Once nicely charred, remove the courgettes from the pan and keep to the side for a minute while you finish everything else off.

8. Check your ragout for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you feel it needs it. Stir in your coriander and get ready to serve.

9. Spoon a bed of couscous into your bowls and then pop a couple of charred courgettes on top. Finish with the spiced beef ragout and a sprinkle of toasted almonds. Enjoy!

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Lebanese Lamb Wraps with Minted Tzatziki and Toasted Almonds

You will need:

  • Cucumber
  • Garlic Clove
  • Red Onion
  • Baby Gem Lettuce
  • Lemon
  • Carrot
  • Flaked Almonds
  • Ground Cumin
  • Sumac
  • Lamb Mince
  • Mint
  • Natural Yoghurt 150g
  • Wholemeal Tortilla

Method:

1. Cut the cucumber lengthways then each piece lengthways again, then chop into little cubes. Peel then chop the garlic and red onion. Shred the baby gem lettuce, zest the lemon and squeeze out its juice.

2. To shred the carrot cut deep slices into the carrot lengthways but be careful not to slice all the way through. Once you have at least five slices along the carrot use a peeler to peel off fine strips. Tip: See the picture for a bit of help!

3. Heat a frying pan on high heat and toast the flaked almonds for 2-3 mins or until they are slightly brown. Tip: Watch your nuts like a hawk to make sure they don’t burn! Remove from the pan and keep to the side for later.

4. Heat a splash of olive oil in the frying pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the garlic, onion, cumin and sumac and cook until the onion softens.

5. Add the lamb mince, season with 1/4 tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Fry for 5 mins until browned off and cooked through. Turn your oven to 100 degrees to warm the tortillas.

6. Shred a few mint leaves and mix in a small bowl with the yoghurt, cucumber and lemon zest. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Tip: This is your homemade tzatziki!

7. Warm the tortillas in your oven for a few mins to soften and warm through. Top your tortillas with the lamb mixture, the salad and your tzatziki. Garnish with your almonds and some lemon wedges and serve. Tip: We like to roll up the tortilla with all the ingredients and eat with our hands!

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Chorizo Burgers with Red Onion Marmalade

You will need:

  • Red Onion
  • Chorizo
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Beef Mince
  • Dried Oregano
  • Ketchup
  • Baby Gem Lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Seville Orange & Honey Dressing
  • Brioche Bun

Method:

1. Peel and cut the red onion in half through the root and then slice into very thin, half moon shaped slices. Chop the chorizo into small pieces.

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2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on low heat in a non-stick saucepan. Add in the red onion with a pinch of salt and black pepper. After 10 mins add the balsamic vinegar. Continue slow cooking whilst you make the burgers.

3. For the burgers mix together the beef mince with ¼ tsp of salt. Add in the oregano, the chopped chorizo and the ketchup. Tip: If you have some flour at home, you can add 2 tsp to the mix to help bind the burger. Work the mixture really thoroughly with your hands for a few mins.

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4. Pre-heat your grill to high. Divide the mixture into two portions and gently press each one into a burger shape. Tip: Try not to compact the meat too much. Rub a light coating of olive oil on each burger before transferring them to a baking tray. Grill them on the top shelf nearest the grill for 4 mins on each side.

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5. Shred the baby gem lettuce. To prepare the avocado, cut around the stone lengthways, through the skin and flesh. Twist the cut halves of the avocado to separate. Lightly tap the knife into the stone to get a hold of it and twist the knife to remove it. Carefully cut a grid pattern in the avocado flesh without cutting through the skin (or your hand!) and use a spoon to scoop into a bowl.

6. In a bowl mix together the baby gem lettuce, the avocado and the seville orange & honey dressing.

7. Cut each brioche bun through the middle so that you have two burger ‘baps’. Put these under your grill for about a minute on each side to lightly toast them but watch them carefully!

8. Serve your burgers with your side salad and top with your red onion marmalade. Food of the gods!

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You can also find some of their other recipes online!

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