A sprout is for life, not just for Christmas

I’m in the minority of people that like sprouts, and I think it’s a shame that I only eat them once or maybe twice a year.

They are a bit of a pain to prepare, but then so is an avocado and they’re the cool kid everyone wants to be BFFs with. In comparison the humble sprout is the geeky quiet kid in glasses that everyone shuns. But, just as the geeky kid in most teen movies gets their girl/boy/new found popularity delete as appropriate), I’d like to see the sprout have its day.

I think a lot of the bad press with sprouts is that they’ve been sorely mistreated. Some chefs will be bringing theirs to the boil now, ready for Christmas 2018! Others will wait until 11:52 on Christmas morning, and they’ll be so hard you’ll need to wear safety glasses while attempting to get them on your fork, in fear of a stray sprout pinging off your plate and whacking you in the eye!

If I’m having sprouts with Christmas dinner, I like to gently part boil them, then stir fry them in a wok with a bit of chorizo. The flavours work really well together. Chorizo makes everything better, so even the sprout haters in my family find these palatable.

I’ve embarked on a low carb, high fat diet for the new year, and being allergic to eggs and dairy, breakfast is a particularly tricky meal for me. When I tried this diet a few years ago I had cold meats and dairy free cheese for breakfast, which was ok, but not great on a cold January morning.

I scoured Pinterest trying to find something suitable to try, and came up with nothing. So I turned to my cupboard of recipe books and remembered that a few months back I tried Hemsley + Hemsley’s bacon and bean hash, which was nice. However for the first two weeks of the diet beans should be limited, so I got my thinking cap on for ideas of how to bulk the recipe out. My mind said sprouts. And why not? They’re in season, they add flavour and bulk, and I know they work in bubble and squeak.

So I pimped the recipe slightly, and cake up with my own breakfast bubble and squeak. Really you can add whatever you fancy, but I used chopped streaky bacon, onions, celery, white cabbage and sprouts. I part boiled the sprouts so they were easier to mash into the mix.

I stir fried the mixture until it was begging to brown in places, and added a little hot paprika, ground cumin, salt and pepper.

I served it this morning with a couple of slices of black pudding. Yum! Just what I needed at 6am on a chilly Monday. I’m hoping it will keep me going until lunch time.

Advertisements

Tried and tested: Hemsley + Hemsley bean and bacon hash

I recently treated Mr Allergy and I to some new cooking books by Hemsley + Hemsley. 


The recipes always look so nice, and they’re good for you, so that ticks several boxes.  As with all recipe books I buy there are probably only about 30% of the recipes that I’m not allergic to, and others I can tweak. This particular brunch recipe didn’t need tweaking, so I thought I’d give it a go.


The best thing about this recipe is that there are no fussy or difficult to find ingredients. I either already had them at home or picked them up at Tesco.  It doesn’t take a huge amount of prep and is pretty quick to cook.

The ingredients suggest an onion or a leek, but I decided to use both to give it extra bulk and add one more of my 5 a day! Had a bit of an accident whilst chopping the onion but I can’t blame the Hemsley sisters for my own stupidity.  I can safely say I won’t be doing that again!


I used a small tin of chopped tomatoes, but next time I make this I probably won’t use them.  They tasted good, but they made the hash slightly soggy. I would prefer it a bit more bubble and squeak-like.

I was quite happy with the overall result though, and Mr Allergy was grateful for a filling, healthy meal after just having completed a middle distance triathlon. I’d say it’s a winner!

Cheat’s chicken and chorizo paella¬†

Ok, so this isn’t technically paella. For one, it isn’t cooked in a paella pan. It also doesn’t have any fish in it as that would make my face swell up and I’d stop breathing. So it’s more like paella rice and things. But all the same, it uses Spanish ingredients and flavours and goes brilliantly with a nice glass of Rioja (or two).

Serves 2

Ingredients 

1 skinless chicken breast, diced

1 red (bell) pepper, chopped

1 large white onion, diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 chorizo ring, sliced

Approx 250g paella rice

Pinch saffron

1/2 pint Chicken stock

1 small tin chopped tomatoes or one large fresh tomato, chopped

2 teaspoons sweet/smoked paprika or pimienton 

1 teaspoon hot paprika or pimienton (optional)

2 bay leaves 

Handful Frozen peas

Method

  1. Heat oven to approx 200c (190c if fan assisted).
  2. In a wok or saut√© pan, fry the chorizo on a medium-high heat until the fat starts to come out. You shouldn’t need to add any additional fat or oil but if you do, use a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Next add your chicken and brown. 
  4. Add the pepper, onions and garlic and cook until softened. 
  5. While the veg is softening, add the bay leaves to the pan.  Make up your chicken stock and add the saffron strands into the stock. The saffron will release its flavour into the stock. 
  6. Now add the paella rice, and the paprika/pimienton and stir together, making sure the paprika coats all of the rice.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and the chicken stock and stir together. 
  8. Add the frozen peas. I’ve suggested a handful but you can add as many as you like. If you don’t like peas you could substitute these with chickpeas. 
  9. Reduce the heat and cook for approx 5 mins, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking. Once the liquid has begun to reduce, tip your paella into an ovenproof dish with a lid. 
  10. Cook for approx 20 mins in the oven with the lid on, until the rice is soft and the edges of your paella are going a little bit crispy. You may want to stir it halfway through to make sure all the rice is fully cooked.
  11. Remove the bay leaves (and don’t be tempted to lick them, I did this once and it wasn’t good!)
  12. Enjoy! 

This recipe is very versatile and you can change the quantities of the ingredients quite easily.  I sometimes like to mix up different chorizos in my paella to give different flavours. Our local Sainsbury’s sells sweet (dolce) and hot (picante) chorizo so I’ll often add a bit of each. My recipe only uses one chicken breast but you can add two if you want more protein. If I fancy a spicy paella (which isn’t the traditional flavour) I add more hot pimienton. You could also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.