Apart from eating all the food in sight, I have a huge love of cooking food and sometimes, I’m actually quite good at it. I’m the person in the office who always asks everyone what they are having for tea in hope of some inspiration. Before I went to University, my Mum taught me the basics on how to survive and since then, my love for the kitchen has just flowed. I’m trying to be more and more experimental in the kitchen and incorporating different flavours to make our Monday-Friday dinners more interesting.
I was lucky enough to be sent some products from Essential Cuisine, a Cheshire based company who specify in stocks for home cooking. They sell a variety of stocks, jus and gravy mixes to enhance a home cooks experience. The stocks prices start at £3.95. Although it’s a little pricier than your standard bisto, the small pot makes over a gallon of stock. That’s a lot of stock! You also don’t have to do the awkward crumbling that I always fail at as the stocks comes in a powder. Seriously, at 7am when I’m whacking ingredients in my slow cooker I always end up with a beef stock cube all over me!
They sent me a bundle of stocks and goodies to get to grips with and here’s how I go on:
Steak and Vegetable Pie with Essential Cuisine Beef Stock
As part of my half Northern roots and a surname to match, I love a good pie. it really warms my stomach and brings that home feeling, especially on a Monday evening! I whipped together a steak pie in my slow cooker (naturally). I used diced beef, carrots, swede and mixed around 300ml of hot water and 2 teaspoons of the Essential Cuisine Beef Stock together. I left it to cook for on the low setting for around 8 hours. Around 30 minutes before I’m ready to serve, I cheat; I pour the pie filling into a casserole dish and cover with some ready rolled puff pastry and leave to cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
You can’t have a pie without mash. Around 40 minutes before I was ready to serve I peeled some potoatos and popped them in a pan of boiling salt water. I let them cook for around 30 minutes until they were soft. I drain the water, pour in some milk, a knob of butter and a pinch of salt and pepper and mash until there are no lumps.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, I’ll pop some vegetables in the microwave to cook. My favourite is brocolli which I can never get enough of. I simply whack a few florettes of brocolli into a microwavable dish and cook it for around six minutes.
Once everything has times perfectly together, I serve and pour some gravy over. Total perfection!
Chicken and Chorizo Paella with Essential Cuisine Vegetable Stock
This is fast becoming my go to Friday night dinner and it’s so simple to cook; all it requires is a few standard kitchen ingredients and one pan. It’s based off BBC Good Food’s Chicken and Chorizo Rice Pot recipe. I’m not a huge fan of traditional paella as I don’t really like prawns (swap the like for hate). But this dish includes one of my favourite things: chorizo!
Firstly, I dice an onion and fry it for around a minute in some sunflower oil. I then add garlic and a bit of chilli powder. I always use powdered garlic rather than fresh because, well, effort. I leave it to fry for another minute and add the chorizo and cook for another 2 minutes.
Whilst that’s frying away and smelling amazing, I’ll dice up some chicken (I usually use 1 per person I’m cooking for) and chop up a green pepper. I’ll add this into the pan and let it cook for around 3 minutes or so. I’ll pop the kettle on and add two teaspoons of the Essential Cuisine Vegetable Stock into a jug. I’ll pour 300ml of boiling water and stir the stock until dissolved. I’ll add around 75g per person of basmati rice into the pan and stir it into the chicken, chorizo and vegetables. I’ll turn the heat right down, pour in the stock and pop the lid on. I’ll let it simmer for 12 minutes whilst the rice absorbs all the stock. After the 12 minutes, serve immediately!
It may not be the world’s prettiest dish but it’s so tasty and quick to make. Seriously, give it a go as we’re obsessed with it in our household!
*Thank you Essential Cuisine for sending the stocks over! All reviews and opinions are 100% my own