Tag Archives: comfort food

Beef and Red Wine Casserole

Beef & Red Wine Casserole Recipe | Gather and Graze

There are certain recipes on Gather and Graze that are posted primarily as a guide for my two teenage boys, who will one day leave the nest and find a need to not only cook for themselves, but perhaps for friends, or a loved one and even further down the track possibly children of their own. This is one of those recipes… Continue reading

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Self-Saucing Butterscotch Pudding

Self-Saucing Butterscotch Pudding | Gather and Graze

The air has been sweeping off the back of the Snowy Mountains. If only it would snow here, then it might all perhaps seem worthwhile. Instead the chill just eats into you, gnawing away relentlessly until you find your way back indoors. So that’s mostly where I stay… loitering in the kitchen, by the warmth of the oven. The best place to be. Continue reading

Pumpkin, Chorizo and Kale Frittata

Pumpkin, Chorizo & Kale Frittata | Gather and Graze

Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging… just as blogging sometimes gets in the way of life. My usual weekly post got strung out to just over two weeks and it’s been haunting me that I’ve not found the time and energy to put something new out there. Cooking? I’ve been plating up dishes every single day, but to feed my hungry family… instead of my hungry blog. The depths of winter are taking their toll… short days… where it’s too dark at dinner-time to shoot any photographs. The winter solstice, but a couple of days ago… the beginnings of lightness of mind, in the knowledge that our days will only get longer from now on, until the sun beats down with warmth once again. Continue reading

Elizabeth Apple Pudding

Elizabeth Apple Pudding Gather and Graze

How lovely to have a dish named after you. What an honour! The Victoria Sponge… Pavlova… Sacher Torte… Peach Melba… Tarte Tatin… Pizza Margherita… Beef Wellington… Beef Stroganoff… Beef Carpaccio… to name but a few – all created to pay homage to a deserving individual or otherwise named to provide lasting fame for the genius who concocted the special dish.

On a cold winter’s night, is there anything better than indulging in a hot pudding for dessert! My thanks go to Elizabeth – whether she be Queen, grandmother, daughter, friend or other fine, charismatic woman for inspiring or creating this delicious, heart-warming dessert! Another little find from within the ‘Green and Gold Cookery Book’. Such a deep sense of pleasure, drumming up recipes from the past, so that they don’t slip away into oblivion.

Elizabeth Apple Pudding | From the 'Green and Gold Cookery Book'

  • 220g/1½ cups Self-Raising Flour
  • 220g/1 cup Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¾ cup Full-fat Milk
  • 1 Free-Range Egg (Lightly Beaten)
  • 15g/3 Teaspoons Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 2 Small Apples (Peeled and Cored)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 5-6 cup-capacity deep baking dish with butter and sprinkle a little sugar over the base.

Slice the apples into quarters and then slice each quarter into three. Line the base of the baking dish with the apple slices.

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Into a large mixing bowl, place the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Whisk to remove any lumps. Add the milk, egg and melted butter and continue whisking until smooth and completely incorporated. Gently pour the thick batter over the top of the apples.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed in the centre. Before serving, invert the pudding onto a plate, so that the apples are on top. Sprinkle lightly with a little extra cinnamon if you wish…

Serve hot, slathered with your choice of cream, custard or ice-cream.

Elizabeth Apple Pudding Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes:

  • Keep an eye on the pudding as it bakes – if the top looks like it is browning too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of aluminium foil.
  • The recipe calls for quite a lot of sugar, though the finished pudding certainly wasn’t over the top in sweetness. Next time I’ll experiment with reducing the quantity to see how it fares…

Comforting Chicken and Orzo Soup

Chicken Orzo Soup Gather and Graze

A few weeks ago when my children and I were unwell, I went searching for the ultimate in health-promoting, comforting and most importantly… delicious-tasting soups. It was a given that it had to be based around chicken, but when I came across this rather lovely recipe featuring leeks, garlic, lemon and a little pasta, I knew that I’d found exactly what I was looking for! It is a recipe that I’ve adapted (ever so slightly) from one of my favourite Neil Perry cookbooks, called ‘The Food I Love’.

I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t discover this soup years ago… all those years that have passed when we could have been indulging and restoring ourselves through the colder months of the year. Therefore, starting immediately is our belated, but now completely embraced tradition of chicken soup to warm the body and soul.

Chicken & Orzo Soup | Gather and Graze

  • 300g Free-Range Chicken Breast(s)
  • 8 Peppercorns/1 Star Anise/1 Bay Leaf
  • 100g Orzo/Risoni Pasta (or any other small pasta shape)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Leeks (washed and sliced finely)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 Litre Good Quality Chicken Stock
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese to serve (optional)
  • A Handful of Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley (optional)

The first two steps of this recipe can be done well ahead of time if you like and then placed in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking the leeks/garlic.

Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and add the peppercorns, star anise, bay leaf (or any other herbs, spices or aromatics that you desire). Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat completely. Place your chicken breast(s) into the pot with the poaching liquid and leave for about 2 hours. Remove to a bowl to cool, before shredding.

While the chicken is poaching, place a small saucepan filled with water on the stove and once again, bring to a rolling boil. Add some sea salt and then the orzo pasta, giving a quick stir to make sure none is stuck together and then cook until al dente (tender, but with a slight bite). When ready, drain the orzo and rinse gently with cold water. Set aside for later.

About half an hour before you want to serve dinner, place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, along with the chopped leeks, garlic and a little sea salt. Allow to sweat for about 10 minutes or so, until the leek has softened. Then add the chicken stock, lemon zest and juice (depending on the size and type of lemon, you may wish to add half of the juice at first and then taste to see if more is required) and simmer for another 10 minutes.

At this point it’s up to you to decide whether to puree the soup or not. With one of my children averse to the sight of cooked vegetables in any soups or stews, I decided that a couple of minutes of whizzing the soup with a stick blender was the only way that he might enjoy it. It worked!

Now add the shredded chicken and orzo into the soup and stir gently to combine. When the chicken and orzo are warmed through, the soup is ready to serve.

This soup is lovely as it is, or perfect with some finely-grated parmesan cheese and some chopped flat-leaf parsley scattered on top… with some crusty bread on the side too!

Chicken Orzo Soup Gather and Graze

* Recipe slightly adapted from Neil Perry’s ‘The Food I Love’ cookbook

My kind of Fast-Food: Home-Cooked Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara Gather and Graze

On nights like tonight, after baking batches of muffins and cookies for children’s end of term parties at school tomorrow, a quick, easy pasta dish for dinner was all I had time for. I love that this recipe is cooked in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. It’s always a hit with the kids, especially when served with a little garlic bread on the side!

There are so many fabulous variations of Pasta Carbonara out there, but I still felt keen to document and share this particular version – it’s the one we’ve been cooking for years now and we still haven’t tired of it.

A quick post for a quick pasta!

Pasta Carbonara

  • Servings: 3-4 (enough for our family…)
  • Print

  • 300g (Dried) Pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 200g Diced Speck (or Bacon)
  • ¼ cup White Wine
  • 2 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • 100mls Pouring Cream
  • A large handful of Finely Grated Parmesan (or Grana Padano) Cheese
  • A sprinkling of Freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • A little Sea Salt and Pepper

Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. In a book I’m currently reading, ‘In Search of Total Perfection’, Heston Blumenthal recommends about 1 litre of water for every 100g of pasta.

While the water is coming to the boil, place the egg yolks, cream, parmesan, nutmeg and seasonings into a small mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Set this bowl aside for later on.

Once the water is boiling, add some salt (another Heston tip: add 10g of salt for every 100g of pasta) and give a quick stir before throwing in the pasta. Stir again gently to make sure none of the pasta is sticking together.

In a medium-sized frying pan over med-high heat, pour in the olive oil and when hot, add the speck. Fry until nice and golden. Turn the heat down a little and add the white wine, stirring to lift any little bits of speck stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to simmer for a few minutes until syrupy and then turn off the heat.

Keep an eye on the pasta and strain it in a colander as soon as ‘al dente’ (tender, but with a slight bite). Add the drained pasta directly into the frying pan and toss briefly in the oil and speck until all of the pasta is coated. Remove the pan from the stove (so that the sauce doesn’t curdle from the eggs coming in to contact with too much heat) and stir in the egg/cream mixture. The sauce will thicken slightly with this gentle stirring. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately.

Cooking Notes:

  • If you can find good quality Speck where you live, please give it a try! It has a slightly smoky flavour and a touch of juniper berry, that is really wonderful in this dish.