It has been a busy weekend - the book signing on Saturday, the Bristol Half on Sunday followed by a lovely post half lunch at friends and then my birthday (for which Mark cooked a delicious...no, I mean really really delicious roast beef). On top of this of course there have been the normal kids activities - a rugby match against Taunton School and a football match plus rugby, football and swimming training. Not wanting to go too overboard singing my husband's praises, he dealt with all the kids stuff this weekend brilliantly...except the washing of the kit of course (claims he doesn't know how to work the washing machine).
For my birthday the kids gave me Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes, a beautifully illustrated book packed with tasty dishes, many of which you can actually cook quickly and easily. I'd say my knowledge of Mediterranean cooking is pretty good, but this book has definitely got some delicious ideas, even if some of the recipes contain ingredients that you wouldn't normally find down the local supermarket or deli. What's more, the majority of them are healthy, wholesome and low fat. As I was a bit fed up with couscous, rice and pasta having spent the past week carbo-loading, I was yearning for some delicious potatoes, so last night we had the Fennel Sausages braised with Lemony Potatoes and Bay Leaves out of Rick's book (or rather our local butcher's Cumberland sausages to which I added a tablespoon of fennel seeds) . It was dead quick and easy and truly delicious. We ate it with a scrumptious lollo rosso salad in a mustardy dressing made with cider vinegar and pumpkin seed oil and it made the perfect accompaniment. I think it would also be good if you replaced the sausages with a nice pork chop or a piece of chicken. This is my rather bastardised version of Rick Stein's recipe:
- 500g nice quality meaty sausages - Rick Stein's recipe uses fennel sausages, but I've no idea where you'd get them in Bristol, so I added:
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves (2 if the sausages are garlicky), finely sliced
- 750g waxy potatoes - they must be waxy ones or the dish won't work - I used pink firs, which I just washed and didn't bother peeling and cut into long halves or quarters depending on their size
- zest and juice of a lemon
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Brown the sausages gently in 1 tbsp of the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish or roasting dish. Set aside.
- Gently saute the onion, garlic and fennel seeds in another tbsp of the oil until they are soft and then add the potatoes, the sausages, the bay leaves, the lemon zest and 1/2 the juice, 2 tbsp of the parsley, a good pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour on the rest of the oil and add some water - about 120ml or to about 1 inch depth. Cover tightly (I covered it with tin foil as I used a roasting dish) and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
- Add the rest of the parsley and squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over before serving.