Taramasalata

I adore making homemade taramasalata so thought perhaps you may too. For the uninitiated it is smoked cod’s roe made into a loose pate of sorts. Traditionally it is made with smoked mullet roe, but I tend to opt for cod’s roe, which you can find (or certainly request) from any fishmonger. I bought 300g which, with the skin removed,  came to 280g.

The store bought taramasalata is normally a lot pinker, but this is not it’s natural colour. You can of course add a pinch of paprika to give it more of a pink hue and a lovely flavour, but I tend to go au-natural and keep it in it’s natural colour.

It’s great for lunch, perhaps with a bowl of my homemade hummus too and some crisp bread and fresh vegetables to munch alongside.

People often ask about the bitter taste when making your own. The way to bypass this is to soak the cod’s roe, in its skin, in cold water for a couple of hours.

Taramasalata

makes a bowlful

280g smoked cod’s roe, skinned (after soaking)

4 slices of white bread (2 if they are large pieces)

3 small cloves of garlic

2 tbsp Greek yoghurt

juice of 1/2 lemon

freshly ground back pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp sunflower oil

 

  1. First soak the smoked cod’s roe in a bowl of cold water for a couple of hours.
  2. Then remove the skin and place in a blender.
  3. Add all the ingredients, except the oil, and blitz.
  4. Add the oils slowly so that it loosens the taramasalata.
  5. Taste test and add a little more lemon if required. If it is too loose simply add an extra piece of bread to thicken it.

Serve with crisp bread or fresh vegetables – such as carrots, celery and radishes .


Coconut and Lemongrass Prawns

I’ve just returned from a relaxing week in Wales, where the sun shone in all it’s glory and we spent the days exploring the coast line, swimming in the sea, eating tasty food and just generally relaxing. It was so good to have a change of scene after lockdown.

Returning to London I rather fancied eating prawns so set about making a curry – not an Indian one this time but more of a Burmese inspired dish with lemongrass, coconut and lime. I had recently been sent a most delicious pot of Maya’s Nørrebro Chilli Sauce. The name and back story immediately caught my attention. I’m loving the chilli on the viking helmet!

Maya was born and raised in Denmark in an area of Copenhagen called…you guessed it…… Nørrebro, to India parents. The chilli sauce is nod to her Indian origin with the design and aesthetics being very much Danish in style. The sauce tastes absolutely delicious and has no preservatives, salt or sugar and could be used in a number of ways. I’ve eaten it at breakfast with my wilted spinach and tomatoes, with scrambled eggs, avocado toast, but today I thought it would really work well in a prawn curry.

It tasted so delicious I thought I would share the recipe for you all to try. Maya has recently launched her business so I know would love some support, especially in these rather challenging times for anyone in the food business. You can order your jar here.

 

When you buy your prawns make sure to buy them with the shells on so that you can also make my prawn bisque with the shells. It takes around 10 minutes to remove the shells, although I like to keep the tails on – for aesthetic reasons mainly, if I’m honest. Pop the turmeric powder and a little salt over the prawns whilst you prep the other ingredients.

I added 2 tbsp of Maya’s chilli sauce, but start with one and then add the other a little later to see if the heat works for you. This is not meant to be a super hot blow-your-head-off curry, but one that the whole family can eat and enjoy that is full of delicious flavours.

Coconut and Lemongrass Prawns

Serves 4

900g prawns, remove shell but keep tails on and devein. Keep the shells to make this

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp vegetable oil

***

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 heaped tbsp fresh ginger, grated

3 garlic cloves, grated

2 lemongrass, ends and outer skin removed and cut into 3 pieces each

1 tbsp Maya’s Nørrebro Chilli Sauce

1 tsp salt

400ml coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar

2 medium sized tomatoes, blended

1 more tbsp Maya’s Nørrebro Chilli Sauce, optional

1 lime, juice only

 

  1. In a bowl add the prawns, turmeric powder and salt and mix well. Leave for 10 mins
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and add half the prawns so that they bronze. A couple of minutes on each side will be sufficient. Remove and leave on a plate whilst you gently fry the remaining prawns.
  3. In a slightly deeper pan than a frying pan, heat the oil and when it is hot add the red onion. Leave to lightly bronze which will take around 6-8 minutes.
  4. Add the grated ginger and garlic and lemongrass and mix well.
  5. After a couple of minutes add the coconut milk, jaggery/brown sugar and fish sauce. If there is any turmeric water from the bowl the prawns were in add this too.
  6. Add Maya’s Nørrebro chilli sauce and stir well. Leave to simmer whilst you blend the tomatoes in a chopper.
  7. Add the tomatoes and stir. Simmer for a further few minutes before adding the prawns. Keep the heat low and cover.
  8. Taste test the sauce and add one more tbsp of Maya’s Nørrebro chilli sauce if required. I did and it tasted heavenly.
  9. From the time the prawns are in the sauce they will only need 5 minutes before they are cooked.

Serve with some steamed rice and I finely chopped some savoy cabbage and added it to a pan with oil and fresh garlic which had softened. I then add a couple of tbsp of soy sauce and allow the cabbage to soften.

I was kindly gifted a pot of Maya’s Chilli Sauce, but all my view and opinions are my own.

 

 


Sticky Ginger Loaf

One of my all time favourite bought cakes growing up was without doubt Jamaican ginger cake, which was deliciously sticky, sweet and gingery. It’s still available at some large supermarkets for a mere 65p. It is also a really lovely one to make at home yourself and tasting it automatically takes me back to my childhood. For those who really like ginger you can add some finely chopped stem ginger bites, or if you prefer a smoother cake consistency just omit this part. I added it this time, but often simply add ginger powder.

adapted from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas

Sticky Ginger Loaf

100g unsalted butter

100g light soft brown sugar

100g Lyle’s golden syrup

100g Lyle’s black treacle

200g self-raising flour

1 tbsp Chinese five spice powder

2 tsp ginger powder

250 ml milk

1 egg

optional: if you really like ginger you can also add 90g of finely chopped stem ginger and add it to the flour. Sometimes I do and other times I don’t. I tend to find my children prefer it when I omit this part. 

  1. First preheat an oven to 140 degrees centigrade.
  2. In a saucepan add the butter, light soft brown sugar, golden syrup and treacle and stir on a low heat so that all the ingredients combine smoothly.
  3. In a mixing bowl sieve the flour and add the Chinese five spice and ginger powder. (if you are adding stem ginger then add it at this stage)
  4. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and milk and keep to one side.
  5. Add the mixed butter syrup to the bowl of  flour and fold in to combine.
  6. Follow this with the whisked egg and milk so that the mixture is nice and smooth. I used my new Kitchen aid and it worked a treat.
  7. Line a baking loaf tin with parchment paper on the bottom and a longer strip in the middle going up the sides – see photo – this helps to remove it from the tin after baking.
  8. Add the mixture to the tin and then place in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes. Use a skewer in the centre to test it comes out clean and therefore is cooked. If it doesn’t return it to the oven for a little longer.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before taking it out of the tin.

Cut into slices to serve either as is or with a little butter on top.


Balinese Spiced Roast Chicken – Ayam Betutu

I adore the beautiful island of Bali, and although it has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades owing to tourism, the heart and soul of this island is still very much apparent. I had Bali in mind this part weekend. The weather was being a little unpredictable and somewhat cooler than the beautiful balmy days we have been having, so we felt a roast would be perfect at some point over the weekend. Instead of going for a traditional roast chicken or one with a Middle Eastern rub – I’m a huge fan of sumac, I opted for a Balinese version, which is fondly called ‘ayam betutu’. This spiced roasted chicken dish is hugely popular in Indonesia – especially in Bali and Lombok.

 

The ingredients blend into a deliciously flavoursome paste that you literally slather all over the chicken. I like to spatchcock the chicken, which is simply removing the backbone, allowing the chicken to be flattened out. If you have bought the chicken from a butcher they will do this for you. Otherwise it is pretty straightforward. You just need a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to remove the spine and press down on the back bone. You can see step-by-step instructions here if you are unsure.

After you have made the paste it is important to warm it in a pan and cook gently for 5 minutes to allow the raw taste of the shallots and garlic to dissipate and all the flavours to blend together. You then need to let it cool completely – I put mine in a bowl, which then sits in a larger bowl of iced water – before slathering it on the chicken.

In Bali they warp the bird in banana leaves, but I find tin foil works equally well, although perhaps not as visually attractive. You need to wrap it up like a parcel so that all the sides are folded tightly so that the juices don’t run out.

I cook mine for 1h30 mins in a fan oven at 180 degrees. If you have a larger chicken then cook it for 1h 45mins. Either way allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

You will  find the chicken really moist and falling away from the bone. All the flavours will have fused together nicely and the juice is wonderful to pour over the chicken. It works really well with rice and some greens – whatever you have to hand: pak choi, choy sum, kale, spinach, cabbage, cavolo nero. Simple add a little garlic and soy sauce to the greens and the combination of the the spiced chicken, rice and greens will just sing.

 

 

Balinese Spiced Roast Chicken

serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, spatchcocked ideally

paste
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 lemongrass sticks, the bulbous ends only (the other part is too fibrous)
3 banana shallots
5 garlic cloves
3 red Thai chillies
10g galangal, peeled (leave out if you can’t find any)
20g ginger, peeled
1 tbsp palm sugar/jaggery/caster sugar
1 heaped tbsp coconut oil, if firm (if oil consistency then add a couple of tbsp)
1 tsp fresh or powdered turmeric
2 limes, juice
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp salt

1. First finely grind the coriander seeds and black peppercorns and then the lemongrass sticks (bulbous end only) in a grinder/pestle and mortar.

2. In another chopper, add all the other ingredients (including the ground peppercorns/coriander/lemongrass) EXCEPT the fresh limes and kaffir limes leaves.

3. Heat the paste in a pan for up to five minutes, to release the flavours and remove the raw taste of the shallots and garlic. Allow to cool completely before moving on to the next stage.

4. In a large bowl, rub the now cooled paste all over the chicken. Add the juice of the two limes and leave the limes in the bowl too. Add the salt. Place the 4 kaffir limes leaves on top the chicken and then cover and leave in the fridge for 4 hours to overnight.

5. Bring the chicken to room temperature and preheat your oven to 180 degrees fan.

6. Place foil in a roasting tin and place the chicken on top. Cover the chicken completely with the foil, so that it looks like a wrapped parcel.

7. Place in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes or if you have a large chicken 1 hour 45 minutes.

8. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving. There will be lots of juice that you can use to pour oven the chicken.

Serve with white rice and some greens – pak choi, choi sum or greens with a little garlic and soy sauce.


The most delicious homemade prawn bisque

Have you ever had prawn bisque at a restaurant and wondered how you could recreate it back in your home? To remind you of those summer days spent by the sea, listening to the gentle lapping of the waves and the fishermans boats bobbing around in the water on the horizon. We associate food with memories and I hope my prawn bisque will bring back happy memories when you make it.  It’s surprisingly very simple indeed. Basically the next time you are cooking prawns in the shells – perhaps on the BBQ like we did.

OR even a curry – perhaps my Bengali prawn curry – make sure you keep the heads and tails – in fact the whole shell, as you will then be able to make the most exquisite prawn bisque afterwards. The pile of shells may not look pretty or particularly appetising, but I can assure you that after you’ve added the ingredients listed below and let it simmer gently for half an hour, all the flavours from the prawn shells are drawn out. Don’t worry about the heads and tails –  that all gets blitzed up and then after going through a sieve the bisque is completely smooth and delicate.

Seriously it is so good there will be no going back once you have made it once.

 

Prawn Bisque

serves 4 

All the prawn shells and heads from the prawns you used from your BBQ/curry. I had 800g of prawns and used all the shells

(even if I have a little less I still follow the same recipe and the same goes if you have a little more)

cover the prawns completely with boiling water

1 red onion,  chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

4 bay leaves

5 black peppercorns

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

juice of quarter of a lemon

1 tbsp tomato puree

1.2 tsp sugar

salt to taste

1 tsp cornflour – 3 tsp cold water

  1. Place the prawns shell and heads in a deep pan and cover completely with boiling water.
  2. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, red onion and garlic to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Using a hand blender blend the contents of the pan. This might sound unusual to blend the shells and heads, but trust me the flavour that comes from them is incredible.
  4. Place the contents of the pan through a fine sieve. Use the back of a spoon to push all the goodness through. What comes through should be a completely fine liquid. Discard the remaining shells that have not gone through the sieve. Overall it will make around 800ml-1 litre of liquid.
  5. In the same pan add the butter and when it is melted add the tomato puree, smoked paprika, lemon juice and sugar. Add the prawn broth liquid and stir gently. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  6. In a small bowl add the cornflour and cold water to make a smooth paste and then add the broth to thicken slightly. Simmer gently for a further few minutes. Add more water if necessary.
  7. Season further to taste and then serve. You could also easily freeze this once it has cooled ready to use on a separate occasion.

Pork and Onion Curry, known as Dopiaza


If you are new to curry making and want a really simple one to kick start your curry affair then this pork dopiaza is a dream. Seriously it is SO good. Believe it or not it only has 4 spices – yup you heard correctly 4 – so there is no excuses that you don’t have all the ingredients. The only slightly trickier one is fenugreek seeds but all large supermarkets will stock this so look out for it in the spices section when you next go shopping or ordering online.  You can also make it with chicken and I reckon it would also be rather delicious with jackfruit (which has the same texture as pork – or pulled pork) if you want to go down the vegetarian route.

So you are probably wondering what dopiaza actually means? In short “two onions” or at least onions cooked in two stages during the cooking. The recipe comes from Persia and the time of the Mughals and is very popular in Indian and Pakistan. If you are on instagram then I have done a short IGTV showing you how to cook it exactly. Take a look. I have not added any tomatoes. The rich red colour comes from the Kashmiri chilli powder – which gives curries a wonderful deep red colour without too much heat – so perfect for the family.  I like to serve it with fluffy rice and some dal.

Pork and Onion Curry (Dopiaza)

serves 4

400g onions (slice half thinly and chop the other half)

2 tbsp ghee/vegetable oil

650g boneless pork shoulder, cubed into bite sized portions

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp turmeric powder

2tsp ground coriander powder

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp salt, to taste

a little water to loosen whilst cooking

1/2 lemon, juice only

 handful of fresh coriander – to serve

1. Heat the oil/ghee in a deep pan and add the chopped onions (remember to keep back the sliced onions) and cook gently for 7-10 minutes on a low heat until bronzed, stirring frequently. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl to one side.

2. Using the same pan add the pork and increase the heat slightly so that the pork is lightly browned on all sides – but not cooked through. This should take around 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and place to one side.

3. Continuing with the same pan (you may want to add a little more butter/ghee/oil) add the fenugreek seeds and allow them to crackle for 20 seconds before adding the sliced onions, coriander, turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powders and salt. Fry for around 10 minutes.

4. Return the lightly browned pork and add a little cold water and the juice of half a lemon and gently cook covered on a low heat for 45-50 minutes. Stir it at intervals. I rather like it when it catches a little bit at the bottom and you get really charred bits on the pork. You may need to add a little more water a couple of times during cooking if it begins to look too dry or over chars.

5. After 30 minutes return the fried onion and cook for another 15 minutes continuing to stir at intervals.

It is perfect with fluffy rice or some Indian flat bread.

 

 


Cooking a Sri Lankan Curry For Critical NHS

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all keeping well and remaining upbeat in these uncertain times. This week I am doing a collaboration with the effervescent British-Sri Lankan interior designer and boutique hotel and villa owner of Kalukanda House in Sri Lanka, Dee Gibson. She also happens to be a fellow south west Londoner like myself.

Photo credit: Kalukanda House

Dee has worked super hard over the past few years bringing her expertise in design to create Kalukanda House from scratch. The original building had to be pulled down as it was structurally unsound. You can read all about the incredible transformation here.

The finished result is beautifully designed and a real oasis of tranquility and peace. It is fully staffed and can be rented exclusively or on a more boutique hotel set up.

Photo Credit: Kalukanda House

Dee contacted me earlier this week to see if I would come up with an exciting recipe for Kalukanda House and one that we can encourage readers to cook and in return donate a money to ‘support front line critical care staff’  – Critical NHS

By supporting the critical care frontline staff at St Georges and other London hospitals over the next few weeks and months, will in turn support the local shops and restaurants in doing so. They have decided to set up a PayPal pool where you can send donations, which you can see here here.

My recipe will be going on Dee’s blog, as well as her social media feeds – instagram @kalukandahouse as well as Youtube (Kalukanda House) so we would LOVE it if you are able to cook it and share it on your feeds. Any donation – however small – will be of immense help.

So the recipe I want to share with you is twofold. Firstly it is a home-made Sri Lankan roasted curry powder. If you don’t have all the spices, please do not stress and simply use the ones that you have. You can even use a bought one or a curry powder  you have at home that needs using up!

If you do make my one however (which I hope you will) you do need to grind it up either with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder -I use this one. You then have a delicious curry powder that you can use on many occasions going forward – just remember to store it in a sealed jar.

The main event however, is my vegan Sri Lankan butternut squash curry. It is super easy and I hope you have most of the ingredients already in your store cupboards. If you are on instagram I’ve done short films of me cooking both recipes on my IGTV so have a look.

Best of luck and please tag me #chilliandmint and #kalukandahouse if you make it and are on instagram. Otherwise please write in the comments box below and I will get back to you. Let’s try and raise some money together for Critical NHS.

 

 

Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder

makes a small pot

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp uncooked basmati rice

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds

5 cloves

5 green cardamom, opened

10 fresh/frozen or dried curry leaves

 

I haven’t added any dried chillies but you can add a couple if you wish to make this a ‘hotter’ curry powder.

If you don’t have any of the spices above, leave them out and you have created your own new version of a Sri Lankan curry powder.

  1. Warm a frying pan and then add all the spices, rice and curry leaves.
  2. Keep on a low heat and move around the pan so that they do not burn. Wonderful aromas will be released.
  3. After 5 minutes the spices, rice and curry leaves will be nicely bronzed so transfer to a bowl to cool and remove the green husks of the cardamom pods and discard.
  4. Then either pound in a pestle and mortar or use a spice grinder to grinder to form a smooth powder.
  5. Store in a sealed jar for a couple of months.

The curry powder works well with all meat curries, as well as vegetarian/vegan curries too.

 

 

 

Sri Lankan Butternut Squash Curry

serves 4-6

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

10 curry leaves (if you have them)

1 red onion, sliced into half moons

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1.5 inches of fresh ginger, finely diced

1 tsp salt

900g butternut squash, cubed

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 heaped tsp Sri Lankan roasted curry powder

1x400ml tin of coconut milk

300ml water

a couple of 2 inch pandan leaves, optional

 

  1. Heat a deep pan and add the coconut oil. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can use vegetable or groundnut oil.
  2. Add the mustard, fennels seeds and curry leaves if you have them. Allow them to sizzle in the pan for 30 seconds, before adding the onions.
  3. Now add the garlic and ginger and stir into the spices and add the salt to help soften the onion. Move around the pan for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the butternut squash followed by the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder and Sri Lankan roasted curry powder and mix well.
  5.  Add the coconut milk, saving a little of the creamier part for later, add the water as well.  IF you have them add the pandan leaves, but absolutely not essential if you don’t have them to hand.
  6. Stir and then cover for 15-20 minutes, checking intermittently and giving a good stir.
  7. Add the remaining coconut milk. Check the seasoning and using a sharp knife check to see if the butternut squash is soft.

Serve with a scattering of fresh coriander leaves and some lemon or lime wedges. Serve alongside basmati rice, chapati or paratha.

If you want to add more heat to this curry you can add fresh or dried chillies when you add the mustard and fennel seeds to begin with.

 


Hot Cross Buns

I know I know the ship has sailed and Easter has come and gone BUT it is Easter Monday so I’m not too out of kilter. Did you have a good Easter  – albeit one that none of us had planned? I think having wonderfully hot weather helped – so much so we had our main Easter meal in the early evening outside in the garden. It all felt rather summery and wonderful. It might seem a little strange me posting a hot cross bun recipe now, but I use this blog as a record of my cooking exploits and I will be returning to this recipe in the future. I felt that if I don’t write down the recipe I will forget it for next year. I had planned to post it a week ago but I only managed to find some bread flour (albeit a little out of date) in my cellar on Saturday. I had been looking for bread flour for some time when I had been doing our food shop, but alas I was always out of luck. So I was thrilled to find a bag of it hidden away in my cellar. Please note my cellar is basically my pantry and is not as strange as it sounds.

So I spent the Easter weekend trying to perfect the art of hot cross bun making, something I had not done before. The first batch I made tasted great but the dough had not risen to my liking in the resting period. Basically my house wasn’t providing enough heat to make it rise sufficiently (well that was my excuse!).

The second time I found a cunning way to make dough rise and will be using this method going forward. Basically you turn your oven on a low heat for 10 mins and then turn off the oven. Keep the door of the oven slightly ajar and pop in your bowl with your dough inside, covered, for a couple of hours and then BINGO you have perfect dough that has risen. Again when I let the dough rest for the second time, once I had made the dough into individual buns, I did the same thing and it worked perfectly. Maybe you have a warming oven, warm laundry room, or just live in a warm climate so do what works for you.

 

I followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which I had seen him creating on instagram. For the honey glaze at the end I added a little of ginger syrup to the honey, but other than that I stayed pretty close to his recipe.

I was pretty happy with the way they turned out and they tasted really delicious.

Here is the recipe and I think it is pretty straightforward. Have you made them before? Whose recipe do you follow?

Hot Cross Buns

makes 12

200ml semi-skimmed milk

55g unsalted butter

a little nutmeg

455g strong bread flour

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp sea salt

55g caster sugar

7g dried yeast

1 egg

85g sultanas

30g stem ginger

2 tbsp flour and a little water

2 tsp honey

1 tsp stem ginger syrup, optional

 

  1. Warm the milk and melt the butter in a pan and add a little nutmeg. Leave to one side once the butter has melted.
  2. Mix the strong bread flour, cinnamon powder, sea salt and caster sugar together.
  3. Next add the dried yeast and egg and the milk/butter/nutmeg.
  4. Use a spoon to mix together and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead of 10 minutes.
  5. Place in a clean bowl and cover. Heat an oven for 10 minutes and then turn off completely and keep the oven door ajar. Place the bowl with the dough in the warm oven (which has been switched off) and leave for a couple of hours. It will double in size.
  6. Turn it out of the bowl and spread it open (see photo above) and add the stem ginger and sultanas. Fold over and then roll into a long sausage.
  7. Cut into 12 even parts and roll into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Keep them close together so that they will end up touching once they have been left to rise again.
  8. Return to the warm (although switched off)oven for 20 minutes. Remember to keep the oven door ajar.
  9. Mix some flour with water to create a smooth paste – not too runny. Spoon into a pipping bag and then snip off the end and create crosses over the buns.
  10. Heat the oven to 190 degrees fan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Once baked place them on a rack to cool.
  11. Mix the honey and stem ginger syrup together and brush over the top of the hot cross buns.

Delicious to eat when still warm, although you can always heat them up at a later stage or eat them at room temperature.

 

 

 

 


A Couple of Simple and Yet Tasty Lunch Ideas

Hi everyone. How are you all doing? The days seem to be flying by don’t you think? Have you managed to get yourself into a rhythm that suits you and your lifestyle?  I’m loving all the cooking and baking that everyone seems to  be doing on instagram. Being stuck inside seems to have unleashed inner domestic culinary gods and goddesses in us all; it is wonderful to see. It seems everyone is baking banana bread and making their own hummus – I can almost smell it when I step outside on my daily exercise.

Meal times have always been a special time for my family to get together, update each other on each others days and news and during this period of uncertainty they have become even more sacred. We take it in turn to cook as it’s a good way to relax and focus the mind and we try and come up with interesting things to cook, to keep the diet varied and interesting. I thought it might be helpful to share a couple of lunch, or indeed supper ideas, that we have eaten recently that were super simple, require few ingredients and take 15 mins max to cook.

First up is my spaghetti alla puttanesca – also known as prostitutes pasta – as it can be made quickly, in between other obligations, hence the prostitute allusion! My version is similar to the Neapolitan in that omits anchovies as I think it makes the dish just too salty. I also add spinach because I LOVE spinach and you can add fresh chillies or chilli flakes but I have omitted these this time round.

The main ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, black olives and capers and together they work so well with the spaghetti. You can use linguine too, whichever you have to hand.

 

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

serves 4-6

Spaghetti/linguine (enough for 4-6 or however many you are feeding)
2 tbsp olive oil
8 medium tomatoes, quartered
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large tbsp of stones black olives, halved

1 tbsp capers
salt
pepper
3 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 cup pasta water

1. Fill a large pan with boiling salted water and add the spaghetti/linguine.

2. Heat a large wide pan with olive oil then add the tomatoes 🍅 followed by the garlic. Stir

3. Add the olives and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to allow everything to soften and meld together.

4. Check to see the spaghetti is cooked and when it is to your liking add it to the sauce, mix well with tongs and then add the spinach.

5. Add a cup of the pasta water to loosen and continue to fold in together. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

6. Serve immediately.

It’s deliciously sweet from the tomatoes and salty from the olives and capers and I love the taste of spinach and garlic binding it all together.

The other easy meal is “cauliflower fritters”. I was inspired by Sami Tamimi (Yotam Ottolegnhi’s business partner) who made them on his instagram feed. If you are on instagram have a look at him cooking them on his feed – you can find him @sami_tamimi.  I made a few changes in that I added a heaped tsp of curry powder and some black urfa chilli from my favourite spice provider in the US Burlap & Barrel. If you live stateside I highly recommend you ordering some of their spices. They are incredible. I always try and pick some up when I am in the US or have friends bring some over. I also only used plain flour, but you can use chickpea/bread flour or whatever you have to hand.

I also decided they would go really well with a simple tomato, fresh coriander, black olive and feta salad on the side, instead of his suggestion of a yoghurt raita or tahini dip, but it’s totally up to you.

Spiced Cauliflower Fritters

serves 4 (makes around 11 large fritters)

1 cauliflower, chopped into even size piece and the green leaves washed

 2cups/ 300g flour or enough to form a batter (you may need to add a little more so adjust as need be)

3 eggs

water – a little to loosen the batter

1 white onion, finely diced

1 large handful of fresh parsley, finely sliced

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp cumin powder

1 heaped tsp of curry powder

1-2 tsp chilli flakes (black Urfa chilli, Allepo chilli flakes, red pepper flakes)

1 heaped tsp salt

pepper

 

*********

Tomato salad

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tbsp black olives, stone removed and halved

handful of fresh coriander (or parsley) chopped

1 tbsp feta, broken up

 

  1. First boil a large pan of water and then add the cauliflower, including the green stalks, which you keep at full length at this stage.
  2. Meanwhile mix the flour with the eggs, water, spices, parsley, salt, pepper and white onion.
  3. When the cauliflower has completely softened – around 6-8 mins, drain and remove the green stalks.
  4. First thinly slice the green stalks and add them to the batter.
  5. Using a knife or potato masher, roughly break up the cauliflower so that it is broken down but not like mashed potato.
  6. Turn it out into the batter and mix together.
  7. Heat a large pan with a little vegetable or sunflower oil – you want to shallow fry  NOT deep fry.
  8. Using a large spoon turn out some of the cauliflower batter into the pan and flatten with the back of the spoon. Fill up the pan – I find three work well as you don’t want to over crowd the pan. Leave the fritters to bind together and bronze. If you touch them too early they will break apart.
  9. Leave to bronze on both side. This will take around 3-4 minutes per side. If it is not bronzed sufficiently leave for a little longer.
  10. Once both sides have bronzed, turn out to a plate with some kitchen roll and keep in a warm oven whilst you continue with the others.
  11. Prepare the tomato salad whilst the fritters are bronzing and place in a bowl ready to serve.
  12. Once all the fritters are ready serve and eat whilst still hot.

 


Ten Easy Chicken Recipes for the Whole Family

Hi Everybody, I hope you are all fairing up ok and making the best of the situation we all face.  I plan to hunker down with a many good books, give huggles to loved ones and catch up on those box sets – I plan to watch Game of Thrones – I know, I know I am very late to that party and yes if you are reading this dear brother and sister-in-law, I do plan to start Clarissa by Samuel Richardson that you gave me for Christmas (it’s probably the thickest novel I have ever seen) – has anyone read it?

The sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air – I managed to cut the grass today (that’s as exciting as it gets round here at the moment) which has given our postage size garden that summer feel – we may well be spending a lot of time in it in the coming weeks. As we are all being told to slow down and not really go out we have to keep ourselves busy and our minds occupied. Video calls with multiple pals on each call, seem de rigour with our evenings literally scheduled back to back with calls to friends around the globe – checking in and keeping us all feeling upbeat. It’s important to keep in touch with family, friends and neighbours as much as we can and a call – especially a video call – is a great way to do this.

When it comes to food, a number of you were requesting some easy family chicken recipes that you can cook over the coming weeks. I’ve had in mind ones that don’t have too many ingredients, that you can cook and the whole family can enjoy together.

First up is the one that I cooked live on IGTV with my mini mini me at the helm of my camera (hence the low angle shots and the humming in the background – all very sweet), is ‘Smoked Paprika Chicken, Cannellini beans and Rainbow Chard’.

From start to finish it takes 20 minutes max and it goes a long way. You can eat it as is, or cook some rice (I made some red camargue and wild rice, which worked really well. ) or couscous on the side, or pop some cubed potato into it if you fancy.  Take a look at the ingredients:

I actually ended up only using one tin of cannelloni beans but you can add two if you are feeding more than 4 people to bulk out the meal.

Smoked Paprika Chicken, Cannellini beans and Rainbow Chard

serves 4

2 tbsp oil (I used my shallot confit and a little rapeseed, but olive oil works just fine too)

1 white onion, finely diced

2 bay leaves

thyme leaves, 5 stems (or any herb you have that needs using up)

3 garlic cloves

4 chicken thighs, skin on

2 chicken breast, cubed

2 tsp smoked paprika (you can use sweet/hot paprika)

salt to taste

pepper to taste

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp tomato puree

4/5 stem and leaves of rainbow chard, diced (you can use spinach, kale, cavolo nero instead)

 

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the onion and a little salt to speed up the cooking of the onions.
  2. Add the bay and thyme (or herb of your choosing)
  3. When the onion begins to soften add the chicken thighs – skin side down – and the chicken breasts and add some pepper.
  4. Add the garlic. Allow the chicken thigh skin to begin to bronze and then turn over.
  5. Add the paprika, tomatoes and tomato puree. Add a little water to loosen the ingredients.
  6. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  7. Taste test and then add more seasoning as required.
  8. Add the rainbow chard/greens and simmer for a few more minutes, until wilted and soft and then serve.

 

Remember if you don’t have chard, use kale, spinach, cavolo nero or even peas.

 

Another crowd pleaser and one of my fav chicken dishes (that isn’t Indian) is my Spanish Baked Chicken recipe. I cannot tell you how BLINKING delicious this one is.

You can find the recipe HERE.

Next up is my Keralan Chicken Stew. Ok I am hoping you have some spices, if you don’t, then you’ll have to sadly pass on this one. I was taught it by a lovely lady in Kerala called Moly, who I spent the day with a number of years ago.

It does have Kashmiri chillies in it, but these are not hot in the slightest and the dish is nicely spiced as opposed to spicy and my girls love it.

OK, next up is one of my childhood memory dishes – Japanese Katsu Curry.

You can read WHY a Japanese dish featured so highly in my childhood by clicking HERE for the recipe.

If you are looking for a beginners curry then the one above ticks the box. It requires very few ingredients and will appeal to a palate that is not accustomed to spices.

You can find the recipe HERE.

My traditional Bengali chicken curry, above, is loved by my children and I hope yours will love it too. If you have a whole chicken cut the chicken into 10 and remove the skin and cook it on the bone – it tastes so good this way. If you are nervous about cooking like this then it is fine to cook it using simply thighs, breast – boned or unboned. It’s a one pot dish, although I often make some rice to go alongside it.

Now for this next chicken dish you can replace the barberries for cranberries, raisins or sultanas – don’t worry if you don’t have barberries – I know it’s not what most people have lurking in their pantry. This dish is called “Zereshk Polow” and it is basically the Iranian version of an Indian Biryani. Again if you don’t have saffron use a pinch of turmeric.

You can find the recipe HERE

As you know I love my broths so thought perhaps this one might be a good one to consider. Just tone down the chillies you add if you are giving it to children or you can take them out altogether.  You can find the recipe HERE.

Finally I am going to leave you with a couple of recipes I found on the web that look super easy and don’t require many ingredients.

Creamy Herb Chicken and you can find it HERE

Sticky Chinese Chicken Traybake HERE 

Let me know if you cook any of the above, would love to hear how they were received. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves, be safe and I’ll be back soon with another post.