Category Archives: Simple dishes

Easy Spring Veg Puff Pastry Tart

Here is a simple recipe for a very simple but effective puff pastry tart.

First get some savory puff pastry sheets – forget all the hassle of making your own as it’s just not worth it.

Then select some of your favourite vegetables  – mine included courgettes, red onion, mushrooms, cauliflour, yellow peppers, jersey royal potatoes and asparagus. Chop them into smallish pieces and throw into a roasting dish with a drizzle of olive oil and some sat and pepper.

Roast them off at 220 degrees for approx 10 mins or so until soft and some are slightly charred at the ends.

Place the puff pastry square on a sheet of greaseproof paper, then after the veg has cooled slightly scatter them across your puff pastry.  Top with grated cheese – I used goats cheese but anything will do.


Then brush the edges with beaten egg and put back into the oven until it is golden and crispy.

Slice up and serve with a crisp green salad.

Easy, quick and delicious



Thai Green Monkfish and King Prawn Curry – Yin and Yang 阴阳

The secret of a great Thai curry is the Yin and the Yang.  Opposite forces attracting and working together.

In the case of Thai curries it is the very savoury (Fish Sauce) and the very sweet (Palm Sugar) coming together to give a unique flavour.

In addition to the Yin & Yang, you need a range spices to give the delicate flavours of Thailand.

Here is GarysKitchen recipe for a Thai Monkfish and King Prawn Curry.

Thai Green Curry Ingredients

Fish stock – about 300ml and from a knorr cube is fine

Onion – Sliced

Yellow Pepper – Sliced

Courgette – Sliced

Fresh Ginger-Finely sliced


Zest and Juice of one lime

Sliced green and red chilli’s

Sliced lemon grass

Sliced spring onion

Chopped fresh coriander and mint

Coconut cream

Fish sauce

Soy sauce

and I cheat by using a Green Thai Curry Paste

and of course Monkfish and Prawns

Monkfish & King Prawn

First gently fry the onions and pepper until soft and golden.  Then add the ginger, garlic, lemon grass and chilli and continue to cook until soft.

Frying gently

Add the Thai green curry paste and cook out for about 5 minutes on a low heat making sure you do not burn it.

When the kitchen is filled with Thai aromas, add the coconut cream (GarysKitchen used coconut cream, rather than coconut milk or creamed coconut but you could use either).  Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and add some fish stock.  Again bring to a gentle simmer and now it is Yin and Yang time.

When the mixture is gently simmering away add 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, one teaspoon of dark soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of sugar (use palm sugar if you can but dark muscovado sugar will be fine) and give it a good stir and taste.

You should now be able to really taste the subtle Thai flavours that the fish sauce (Yin) and sugar (Yang) brings out.

Green Curry

Greener curry

Simmer the Green Curry mixture gently for about 20-30 minutes to reduce slightly and increase the flavours.

Then add your Monkfish and Prawns and cook gently for about 5-10 minutes until the monkfish is cooked.

Serve with Sticky Jasmine Rice.

Now unfortunately GarysKitchen Thai Green Monkfish and King Prawn Curry was so good that we had eaten half of it before realising that we hadn’t taken any photographs!

Easy Lamb Stock Recipe

A very simple recipe for a real lamb or ‘brown’ stock,

First roast off your lamb bones, with 2 carrots, a stick of celery, an onion with the skin on, 2 garlic cloves skin on and some salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  You need to roast for about 1 hour at 200 C.

Ready for roasting

Then add your roasted bone mixture to a pan of cold water with a bay leaf, some rosemary and thyme and bring to the boil.

Turn down the heat and simmer for a long time, periodically skimming off any fat.

Strain your mixture and you have a fantastic lamb stock.

Lamb 'brown' stock

All things Italian

Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes and GarysKitchen has recently been inspired by the idiots on BBC’s The Apprentice who were making a right mess of ‘Meatballs’  and also I caught an episode of Rick Stein making a Margarita Pizza and fancied having a go at all things Italian…

First a fresh tomato base….

You need tomatoes and lot’s of them

Then you need to peel and chop them.  To do this you need a pan of boiling water and a pan of iced water. Stick the tomatoes into the boiling water for approx 2-3 minutes and then quickly plunge them into the iced water – This enables you to easily remove the skins.

Once skinned chop your tomatoes removing the majority of the seeds

Now gently fry some chopped garlic – loads of it – being careful not to burn it.

I have found a new ingredient that is brilliant – roasted and skinned red peppers in a jar – These are really cheap from Lidl’s and are excellent quality and I would recommend you try some.

So I added a couple of these to my chopped tomatoes and made sure they were all nicely chopped and combined.

Once the garlic has softened add the tomato and pepper mix and slowly simmer.  I added a cartouche to keep in the moisture and flavour. Avid GarysKitchen readers will be aware of Cartouches from previous posts.

Once the mixture starts to break up and reduce add a splash of white wine and some oregano and keep on simmering.

When it has turned to a chunky sauce consistency it’s finished.

Now onto home made Pasta…..

This is the first time GarysKitchen had tried to make pasta from scratch and it was easy.

All that you need is 175 grams of 00 grade pasta flour, 1 fresh whole egg and 1 egg yolk and lots of elbow grease.

Put your flour onto a work surface and make a well and then add your egg and egg yolk

And then combine them into a dough.  This takes some time and is a bit messy and you may not be able to combine all the flour or may have to add some more but basically you are looking to get a soft dough that is ready for some gently kneeding.

You need to gently kneed the dough until it becomes elastic and shiny – This takes some time and is hard work and my dough was quite hard but after quite a while and with my arm aching I finished up and wrapped it in clingfilm to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough and cut into 3 piece and roll it as thinly as you can.  I don’t have a pasta machine so had to rely on a rolling pin but I did manage to get it quite thin.

You then need to make your pasta shapes – I just did a sort of rough and ready tagliatelle by slicing it into thin strips

and leave to dry

Bring a big pan of water to a rolling boil add some salt and then add your pasta for approx 2-3 minutes.  Don’t over cook it, so test regularly until you have cooked it through but it still has some texture.

When cooked, drain quickly, drizzle over some olive oil and add some fresh cracked black pepper – Lovely!

Now to Pizza….

Make a bread dough using GarysKitchen world famous easiest bread recipe in the world recipe but switch the 25 grams of butter to 25 grams of olive oil.

Once you have your dough ready and it is really elastic and you can feel that the gluten has stretched, make your pizza bases by stretching the dough into round(ish) shapes and add your favourite toppings…

Here’s GarysKitchens Calzone

Here’s Mrs GarysKitchen pizza Champinon

And son of GarysKitchen Salami and Capers

All in all a very tasty Italian

A Mexican Meal…Well Sort Of!

GarysKitchen is not really that au fait with real Mexican food and the only experience I’ve had, along with Son of GarysKitchen and YaYa, was at Wahaca, Thomasina Miers ex Masterchef winner restaurant chain, where we dined on excellent tostadas, tacquitos and burritos.  Definitely worth a try.

But GarysKitchen does like to dabble and although the food might not be totally authentic, I do like to give it a go.

So here is my homage to Mexican food with a simple meal of chicken enchiladas, dirty rice accompanied by salsas, dips and nachos.

So first to GarysKitchen Dirty Rice.

I googled a few recipes and basically found that Dirty Rice was a take on paella with the rice cooked in stock with some good stuff added.

Here’s my ingredients – chopped onion, chopped butternut squash, chilli, garlic, chilli spice and the old favourite La Chinata pimenton

The approach is simple – Caramelise the onions very slowly so they don’t burn but go a lovely golden colour, add in the butternut squash, chilli and garlic and cook them again slowly for about 5-10 minutes.

Now add the chilli spice, as much heat as you like, and about half a teaspoon of pimenton or more if you like and heat gently until the aroma is released.

Then add in about  150ml of long grain rice and 300 ml of chicken stock.  Pop on a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

Now to GarysKitchen Chicken  Enchiladas 

Here I cheat and buy one of those kits, the mild and tasty variety, as Mrs GarysKitchen doesn’t like things too spicy.

They way you cook these is simple – follow the instructions on the back of the packet.

Whilst your enchiladas are cooking, knock up your salsa – again simple just chop tomato, cucumber, coriander and add a big squeeze of lime. Season to taste and you’re ready to go.

Some cheesy nachos – again pick your favourite brand and a cool cheese and chive dip – here I made my own out of cream cheese, milk and some Caesar salad dressing.

Here is the finished meal for your delight

The most important meal of the year…..A Birthday Breakfast

This rubbish is taken direct from Wikipedia

In the United Kingdom, the classic breakfast has been the “full English breakfast”, which involves fried egg with bacon and sausage, possibly with some mushrooms or hash browns, and toast and marmalade. It is common for this to be the course of the breakfast that follows consumption ofbreakfast cereals. It is common to have drinks with this, such as teacoffee or fruit juice

Hash Browns on a ‘Full English’,  Please, beans or black pudding perhaps but never Hash Browns!

To celebrate Mrs GarysKitchen Birthday and to ensure we had the sustenance to make it through the day, I cooked a Full English.

There is nothing  fancy about a cooked breakfast but you can´t beat it.  Simple but effective – slow cooked good quality sausages, home made bacon, bantam eggs grilled tomato and a large mushroom, served with fried bread and toast and a nice dollop of tomato or brown sauce depending on your taste – perfect!

Cheek by Jowl

I seem to be having a bit of pork frenzy recently, with my Baked Ham and Makin’ Bacon and now I’m moving onto a very trendy cut that is flavour of the month – PIG’S CHEEKS.

They must be getting more popular as they were stocked in my local supermarket and were very cheap.

I have never cooked them before but after purchasing a pack of eight cheeks I decided to have a go at braising them in cider and chicken stock.

First I seasoned the cheeks and then fried them until browned in a hot pan – very hot as pork can take the heat.

After browning all the cheeks I added the usually casserole vegetables of onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and peppers into the same pan and softened them.  Oh I also added some garlic, a bay leaf and some of my home made bacon lardons.

After the vegetables had softened I added the pigs cheeks, nearly a can of dry cider and 250ml of chicken stock.

Bring to a slow simmer and transfer to a casserole dish and into a medium oven for about an hour or until the cheeks are tender.

I am afraid I didn’t take any photo’s of the finished product but I extracted the cooking liquor and added some cream so you’ll have to use your imagination.

It was quite tasty but I can’t say I would rave about it. The cheeks were lovely and tender but it just tasted like a pork casserole, nothing special.  But for the price I’ll be cooking pigs cheeks again and next time will be using red wine as I reckon they can take the rich flavours.

The Christmas Gravadlax

This is going to be my last post for a week as I’m working away and won’t be in GarysKitchen.

But before I head off, I’m getting some curing on the go, so it can be working it’s magic whilst I am slaving away elsewhere.

I’m going for a simple Gravlax, Gravlox or Gravadlax what ever you prefer to call it.

So to the Gravadlax (my preference).

I’ve made Gravadlax previously and it is really simple and when you search the internet there are loads of different recipes but basically you need salt and sugar for the cure and then some flavourings.

Here’s the recipe for GarysKitchen Gravadlax.

One side of Salmon

150g of salt – not the finest Maldon Sea Salt but also not table salt as it is too harsh. I’m using a half and half mix of table salt and sea salt.

150g of sugar – you can use caster sugar but I’m going for a half and half mix again of caster and dark muscavado sugar.  I think this will give a good maple flavour?

A bunch of dill

A slightly smaller bunch of tarragon

Lemon zest and some lemon juice

Some crushed juniper berries

A few splashes of vodka – Gravadlax is Swedish after all

I’m also going to add some red food colouring as I going to see if I can dye the outside of the salmon red so it looks good when sliced up.

First make up your cure by combining the salt, sugar and flavourings together.

Then skin and remove the pin bones from your salmon fillet

Cut the salmon fillet in half length ways and lay out on a a large piece of cling film

Liberally cover each side in the cure and put one fillet on top of the other and roll up tightly in cling film so you have a salmon cure sandwich.

Then  assemble your makeshift press.

I used another tray then balanced some bricks and heavy jars on top to provide an even weight across the salmon.

Now into the curing shed or fridge and leave for 24 hours.  You can tell it is ready as the salmon becomes firmer and has lost some liquid.

The red food colouring did the trick and the Gravadlax has a lovely reddish colour on the outside contrasting with the orange flesh on the inside. You can achieve the same effect and get added flavour by using grated beetroot.

The Gravadlax is now ready to eat and can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for over a week but the great thing about this is that you can freeze it so it will be prepared already for Christmas. Simple!

My Take on Jamie’s Empire Chicken

Here is another very simple dish that you’ve got to try as it is delicious and really easy.

You can check out Jamie Oliver`s version here on youtube

Jamie’s Empire Chicken

But here is my version using the spices and other stuff I had in the fridge and in GarysKitchen Cupboard.

Basically this is a roast chicken covered in Indian spices so when it roasts it goes all tandoori.

So get yourself a pestle and mortar or is it mortar and pestle – this always makes me think of the Danny Kaye Film Court Jester and here is the classic sketch

The vessel with the pestle

Sorry we got way laid there so it is back to the pestle and mortar.  Chuck in your favourite Indian spices such as cumin, cardamom, turmeric, pre ground curry mix, ground chilli, coriander seeds, basically whatever you like in your favourite curry.

Add some grated chilli and fresh ginger and put in some tomato paste.  Add some Worcestershire Sauce, some tomato ketchup, squeeze a lime and anything else you fancy.

Grind it all up until you have thick red paste and smother it all over your chicken.  Now ideally you will do this the day before and leave it over night but don’t worry just leave it as long as you can so all the flavour seeps into the chicken

Now simply put a lemon inside the chicken, and some onion if you fancy, and roast it just like you would do with a normal chicken until it is cooked through

When you take it out of the oven it will look all ‘orrible and burnt but don´t worry.  Let it rest for at least half and hour – don’t forget you should always rest your meat –  and then scrape off all the burnt coating.

Now carve it and you will see lovely white flesh with a beautiful tandoori style coating.

Seriously this is really, really good and I’d recommend you try it.

It is perfect if you’re having friends round.  Cut the chicken up and plonk it  in  a big dish, serve with some rice, naans and a fresh salad – as Jamie says PUKKA!

Dem Bones

This is just a quick post to remind everyone out there not to chuck away their chicken bones and carcass after cooking a roast chicken.


It is really easy and is great for making soups, risottos or adding to other recipes and you can freeze it.

Simply get a big pot, put some water in it and chuck in a couple of carrots, some sticks of celery, an onion, a bayleaf, some peppercorns and your left over chicken.

Bring it to the boil and simmer slowly  – and after a while you get a great tasting stock.

Into the pot and bring to the boil