Seafood Paella

One of my summer objectives was to christen my paella pan, which I had received for my birthday. My thinking was to raise my beach BBQ game by cooking seafood paella on a homemade fire on the beach, instead of the usual BBQ fare. As it turned out transporting crockery for 10 (as I did not have any melamine bowls with me), was a daunting prospect so we made the decision to use the Weber BBQ at the cottage instead and eat in the garden as the weather has been so balmy. My paella pan was from http://www.thepaellacompany.co.uk and it’s important to buy one with a lid – especially if you do  end of cooking it on a sandy beach!

Whilst it requires a little forward thinking when it comes to the ingredients itself the actual cooking was really good fun and comparatively easy. You do need a long spatula – something like this would be perfect and I also had some oven gloves. The final result was delicious and whilst I cooked for 10 the amounts below could definitely stretch to 12-14 if required. Most of us had seconds and even the  dog had a little to try as well.

I had prepped and sourced all the correct ingredients – bomba rice being an absolute must. It is a short-grained variety grown in south Spain and unlike risotto rice does not require any stirring. It holds it’s shape during cooking and does not fall apart. You are aiming for the bottom of your rice to begin to char and crisp up on the bottom. In Spain when you are served up charred bits from the bottom, you known you have received the very best type of paella cooked with love and skill. I also rather handily found paella seasoning which you can source from Sous Chef.I popped in 3 sachets to my fish stock. I used fresh fish/seafood stock bought from Marks & Spencer. I can’t seem to see it online but you can certainly find it in the larger stores. Equally most fish mongers will have some, you can make your own, or use the cubed variety. Failing that opt for vegetable stock. The mussels you cook separately for 4-5 minutes and then remove 3/4 of the mussels from their shells.

 

I didn’t time how long it actually took to cook, but I would say that from the point of putting the oil in the pan to serving was around 30-40 minutes. It does depend on your heat source so please bear this in mind. From the time the rice goes in the pan it was 20-25 minutes max. I also didn’t measure the exact amount of extra boiling water I added or the exact amount of wine, but use your judgement. I added a little more liquid when I thought it looked too dry half way through cooking. I tasted the rice half way through and it was still a little too hard, so I added a little more water and replaced the lid back on the pan. I then tried again about 10-15 minutes later and it was perfect. You will notice I didn’t add any salt. This was because I felt the stock, chorizo and paella seasoning would contain it, but again use your judgement and taste and add a little if required.

It was such a fun meal to cook and had all the summer wow factors when serving. Adults, teens and tweens alike loved it and even the dog. I’ll be using it again over the summer both in London on the BBQ and also on the beach.

Seafood Paella

1.5 litres fish stock (or vegetable stock if you can’t find fish stock). I found fresh seafood/fish stock at M&S and used 3 packets which were around 400-500ml per packet.

3 packets of paella seasoning 

300ml white or rose wine

6 tbsp olive oil, approx

2-3 large white onions, finely chopped

1 head of garlic, finely chopped

4 chorizo sausages, halved lengthways and then roughly chopped

1 tbsp smoked paprika flakes or smoked paprika powder

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

5 large squid tubes, cut into rings

1.5kg bomba rice 

500ml boiling water, as required

2 glass of white wine + 1 glass of hot water

1.5kg mussels, beards removed and cleaned

1 handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

14 large king prawns shells and heads kept on

2-3 lemons, cut into 6 wedges per lemon

 

  1. If you are cooking this on the beach, proceed to step 9 first before continuing. Please note you will require a paella pan + a deep pan to cook the mussels
  2. In a deep saucepan bring the stock, paella seasoning and wine to the boil and then turn off the heat. You can do this on a BBQ or on a conventional hob. If cooking on a BBQ place the pan on a rack as opposed to directly on the hot coals.
  3. Place your paella pan on your BBQ and then add the olive oil, allow it to warm up – it won’t take long if your BBQ is already nicely hot.
  4. Add the onions and move them around the pan. After a 3-4 minutes add the garlic and after a further minute add the chopped chorizo.
  5. Allow to soften for a couple of minutes moving around the pan to help with the cooking. If your heat source is not consistently hot it may require a couple more minutes.
  6. Add the smoked paprika flakes or powder, chopped tomato and paste and mix in well. Allow to soften for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the squid rings and a minute later add the bomba rice. Move the rice around the pan so that it is evenly spread out. After a minute add the fish stock that you had warmed up earlier.
  8. Stir in well and then place a lid on the pan ( I also add the outer BBQ lid, but if you are doing this on a stone BBQ on the beach you won’t be able to do the latter, but that’s fine)
  9. On a separate hob (if you are cooking this at your house and not at the beach) add 2 glasses of white wine and hot water and bring to the boil in the large deep pan with a lid –  use the same pan you warmed the stock. Add the mussels and give a good stir and then place a lid on the pan. Cover for 4 minutes and then add the chopped parsley. Check to see if the mussels have all opened and if not leave for another minutes or two giving a good stir. If it looks dry add a splash more white wine or water. Once they have all opened, remove from the pan and remove 3/4 of the mussels from the shell and place in a bowl. Place the rest of the mussels in another bowl and leave to one side.
  10. After 18 minutes once the rice has been in the pan, spread the prawns around the side of the paella. You can of course use prawns which have been shelled but I think it looks more rustic and authentic to have them in their shells. Scatter the de-shelled mussels around the rice and those in the shells. Place the lid back on the pan.
  11. After 3 minutes, turn the prawns over and replace the lid once again and leave for a couple of minutes.
  12. Taste test to see if the rice is nicely cooked. It will not be a soft and glutinous like risotto rice as it holds its shape. Scatter the lemon wedges and serve.

If you make this let me know how you get on by posting a comment below. It’s a definite crowd pleaser and a great way to feed a large group of people.

 

 


Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpeas, Courgette and Tomatoes with Hummus and Zhoug

We all need a bit of hot stuff in our lives right? So look no further than the Yemenite hot sauce, commonly known as ‘Zhoug’ or ‘Zhug’ when you need to jazz up your lunch or supper. Its cousins would be Argentinian ‘chimichurri’, Moroccan ‘chermoula’, Italian ‘salsa verde’ and Indian ‘coriander chutney’. It takes seconds to whip together – yes really – and lasts for a few days in the fridge in a sealed jar.

I made a batch today, which I whizzed up in my mini-blender and then drizzled it over my lunch. It is made up of fresh parsley and coriander, freshly roasted cumin seeds, which I then ground to a powder, lemon juice, olive oil, water, salt, sugar, garlic, crushed cardamom seeds and a couple of jalapeño chillies. Simple hey. So zingy and fresh with just the right heat. You can add more chillies if you want to bring up the heat levels, but I think 2 jalapeños really hits the right note for me.

My lunch itself was easy as it literally cooked itself. I popped a sweet potato, some tomatoes – halved, chickpeas rubbed in smoked paprika in the oven for 40 mins at 180 degrees fan. I then sliced up some courgettes and pan fried them for a few minutes and then hey presto. I had some of my homemade hummus in the fridge so added a dollop of that and then drizzled my zhoug on top. If I had had some Aleppo red pepper flakes I would have added a pinch of those on top too.

Yemenite Zhoug

30g fresh coriander, leaves and stalks

20g fresh parsley, mainly leaves

2 jalapeño chillies, seeds removed (but keep them in if you want it hotter)

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp water

1/2 tsp salt flakes

pinch of sugar

1 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted and then ground to a powder

3 green cardamom pods, husks removed and seeds crushed

  1. In a saucepan dry roast the cumin seeds for a minute so they begin to bronze and the aroma is released. Allow to cool and then blend to a powder using a pestle and mortar or blender.
  2. Using a mini-blender add the fresh herbs, ground cumin, crushed cardamom seeds, lemon, salt, sugar, water and olive oil. Blitz to form a smooth paste. Add a little more water as required to make it runnier.
  3. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge and use within a few days.

 

Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpeas, Courgette and Tomatoes

serves 2

1 large sweet potato, kept whole, but pierced with a fork

5 medium tomatoes, halved

olive oil to drizzle

1x 400g jar of chickpeas, strained and washed

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp salt flakes

1 courgette, peeled to give a striped effect

1 tbsp of hummus per serving

extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan. You want to cook the sweet potatoes and tomatoes for 40-45 minutes.
  2. Keep the sweet potato whole, with the skin on. Prick the skin with a fork a few times.
  3. Slice the tomatoes and place them in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and salt flakes, then add the sweet potato to the preheated oven.
  4. Drain the chickpeas and then dry them with some kitchen roll before adding the smoked paprika.  Mix in well and then place them in the oven 10 minutes after the sweet potato and tomatoes have been cooking.
  5. In a saucepan, add a little oil and then add the sliced courgettes. Allow them to begin to bronze and then remove. This will take between 5-7 minutes.
  6. To plate up, remove the skin from the sweet potato (optional) and slice up. Add some to a bowl along with some chickpeas, courgette, tomatoes. Add a dollop of hummus and some zhoug and finally a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

 

 

 


Bottle Gourd Curry (you can also make this with marrow or courgette)

Happy New Year everyone. What a strange old year it’s been already and we are only a couple of weeks in. Here in the UK we are on national lockdown so we are all hunkering down and mainly staying confined within the four walls of our homes, with fleeting escapes of freedom with exercising and grocery shopping. A 5km run has never been so thrilling! I was picking up some spices for my zoom classes this morning (I’m sending them to folks in the UK who join my zoom class) and saw some dudhi – also known as lauki, calabash or bottle gourds – for sale and thought it would be good to buy a couple so that I could (a) tell you more about them and (b) show you a fab recipe that you will love.

 

Whilst I realise that unless you live near an Asian grocer you are not going to be able to get hold of these vegetables, the good news is that you can replace them with marrow or courgette which will work equally well. They are not dissimilar to a small, thinner marrow, with a light green smooth skin and white flesh. When harvested young they are a perfect vegetable to eat. They are primarily grown however for their fruit, which when dried forms a woody hollow vessel that can be used as a container for food and water but also as fishing floats, musical instruments and even clothing. It is a native of Africa but recent DNA research suggests that it was “domesticated three times: in Asia, at least 10,000 years ago; in Central America, about 10,000 years ago; and in Africa, about 4,000 years ago”. A cool fact that might appeal to you, is that this vegetable grows on a plant that has large white flowers that only open up at night.

 

Similar to a marrow or courgette the bottle gourd works really well in dal.  In Bengal, where my husbands family are from, they sometimes serve it with prawns to make a fantastic curry. Today though, I thought I would show you a curry, which uses them as the star ingredient.

Bottle Gourd Curry (replace with marrow or courgette)

500g bottle gourd, skin removed and the flesh cut into bit sized cubes or use marrow or courgette (you can keep the skin on the courgette)

2 tbsp sunflower/rapeseed oil

2 dried red chillies

pinch of asafoetida

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 Indian bay leaf, broken in two (called tej patta)

1 red onion, finely chopped

 1 tsp salt

1 inch of ginger, finely grated (or 1 tsp ginger paste)

3 garlic cloves, grated (or 1 tsp garlic paste)

2 large tomatoes or 4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground Kashmiri chilli

400ml water

 

  1. First prepare the bottle gourd (marrow or courgette) and place to one side.
  2. Heat a large deep pan and add the oil.
  3. When it is hot add the dried chillies, Indian bay leaf, asafoetida and cumin seeds which will begin to sizzle.
  4. After 20 seconds, add the onion and salt and let the onion soften completely and begin to bronze – between 6-8 minutes before adding the garlic and ginger.
  5. Stir in the garlic and ginger so that raw smell dissipates, which takes a few minutes.
  6. Next add the chopped tomatoes and stir into the onion. Add the ground spices and leave to simmer with a lid on for 5 minutes. The tomato should have softened considerably.
  7. Add the bottle gourd (marrow or courgette) and then add the water. Simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes. A lot of the water will have soaked up leaving a thick spiced tomato coating over the gourd.

I ate mine on its own with a squeeze of lemon, but you could also have some rice on the side or a chapati, luchi or naan bread. It makes a delicious vegan lunch or supper.

Let me know how you get on if you make it.

Food is definitely a way to keep us all uplifted and glowing through these surreal times, I hope you agree.

 

 


Turkey For Days – Noodle Broth

MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all. How have you all been getting on? It has certainly been a different, quieter Christmas for many of us here in the UK and indeed the world. With the last minute tier changes, we, like most people, ended up having Christmas just the four of us. Naturally we would not have opted for quite so big a Turkey had we known we would just be four of us, but that said there is so much we can do with leftover turkey that it really didn’t matter that there is a lot to get through.

In addition, we also have a spiced gammon – one of my absolute favourite Christmas treats. So in short, we are well stocked for quite some time, the trick is to think of new and inventive ways to use up all the leftovers. I cooked the gammon with stock ingredients and made sure not to throw them away. This combined with a fabulous turkey stock and vegetables for that, created both the beginnings of a broth, as well as a lot of soft delicious onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, celery, dried red chillies. Last night I blitzed all these vegetables with a little stock and added a splash of lemon juice to create a delicious soup, which appeared creamy and yet had no cream. It was delicious and it made enough for two meals.


Today, the family were craving a noodle broth so I created a fragrant spiced broth with shredded turkey, which definitely hit the spot. To be fair you can add whatever leftover meat or veg you ate at Christmas – lamb, goose, chicken, ham, it will work with it all.

I realise that perhaps not all the ingredients I have added everyone will have as their store cupboard staple, but follow this recipe loosely to create your own version. For me I always have a stash of Sichuan peppercorns and throwing these into a broth gives an addictive zing to the dish. I also added some black and white whole peppercorns, which I roughly smashed, alongside the Sichuan peppercorns, in a pestle and mortar.

 

Drizzled on top is my chilli oil, which I think I will do as a separate blog post with step by step instructions as it is so good that you will want to make it time and time again as it really elevates any Asian dish. Chilli oil in China is as ubiquitous as tomato ketchup is in the US and for me the former always packs a greater punch.

To make a meat stock you simply need the carcass of whichever meat you used at Christmas. Cover it with water and add an onion, leek, garlic (chopped in half), celery, bay leaves, black and white peppercorns, a couple of dried chillies, star anise. Simmer gently, on a low heat, for a couple of hours. Then remove the bones, but keep the vegetables and strain the stock. The vegetables can be used in a broth or blended to make the soup described above.

Turkey Noodle Broth

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 white onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 thumb size piece of ginger, finely grated or finely chopped, skin removed with the back of a tsp

2 lemongrass, outer skin removed and both ends and then finely chopped

2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed

1 tsp white peppercorns, crushed

1 green chilli, roughly chopped

leftover turkey, roughly chopped (i didn’t actually weigh home much we put in, but use your discretion)

7 brown mushrooms, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

2 handfuls of finely sliced cabbage

turkey stock (again didn’t measure this but enough for over bowlfuls of broth)

3 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp Chinkiang Vinegar

salt to taste

4 nests of noodles of your choice -boil these in a separate pan according to packet

crispy shallots, to serve

coriander, to serve

enoki mushrooms, to serve

chilli oil, to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and then add the onion, garlic, ginger and the crushed Sichuan peppercorns, black and white peppercorns. Move this around the pan for a minute and then add the chilli.
  2. Add the leftover turkey and mushrooms and move around the pan for a couple of minutes and then add the turkey stock to cover.
  3. Simmer gently and then add the carrots and cabbage.
  4. In another deep pan boil some water and add the noodles – 1 nest per person – and simmer for a few minutes (according to packet), then strain and keep to one side.
  5. Returning to the main pot add the soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, fish sauce and check the balance of the broth. Add more soy sauce if required. Simmer for 7 minutes, so that the carrots have softened.
  6. In deep bowls, first add the noodles and then ladle on the broth.
  7. Add some enoki mushrooms to the top of each bowl – once submerged slightly they will soften and are perfect to eat like this. Add some fresh coriander, crispy shallots, chilli oil or Sriracha of your choice.
  8. If I had some lime I would also add a splash of lime on top before eating.

 

A couple of other ideas for leftovers is:

Turkey Tikka Masala

Chiang Mai Noodle Broth

Turkey, Ham and Leek Pie

 

How have YOU been using up your leftovers? Leave a comment below so that we can all see.

 

 


Chicken Tikka Masala – always a crowd pleaser

Chicken tikka masala and butter chicken are both firm curry house favourites here in the UK. They are very similar in that they both have a mild tomato sauce with Indian spices. The main difference is the amount of butter and cream. The butter chicken, as the name suggests has a lot more more butter and a less intense tomato sauce. It is also cooked in a pan where as the chicken tikka masala is charred and cooked in a tandoor or grill before it enters the sauce and pan.

To be honest, I rarely cook this type of curry and I have never seen any family members in India cook it either. Whilst cooking in the tandoor is very much Indian, the history of this curry is disputed with many saying that was ‘created’ for a Western palate by a British Pakistani chef in Scotland in the 1970’s whose customer requested a mild tomato sauce for their chicken tikka pieces. It was such a hit that it became a firm fixture on the menu with other curry houses following suit. I certainly remember it being a standard curry to order at university curry nights out.

Whether it is truly authentic or not it is much loved across the UK. It is creamy and more buttery than my usual curries, but eaten now and again is a complete joy.

 

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4-6 (if serving with other dishes)

4 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

marinade

3 tbsp full fat natural yoghurt

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp ground paprika

1 tsp ground garam masala

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

juice from half a lemon

1 tsp salt

1 heaped tsp garlic paste

1 heaped tsp ginger paste

 

 

Creamy tomato sauce

1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter

2 tbsp oil

2 white onions, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp ginger paste

1 heaped tsp garlic paste

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground garam masala

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp ground paprika

1x tin tomatoes or 400g fresh tomatoes, blitzed

200ml water

1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar

1 tsp salt

pinch freshly ground black pepper

150ml double cream

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp dried methi/fenugreek leaves OR coriander leaves

  1. First you need to marinate the chicken. Mix all the marinade together and then cover tightly with cling film/foil and place in the fridge for an hour – to overnight.
  2. Spread your marinated chicken out on a large baking tray and brush with a little oil. Place under a hot grill (240 degrees C) for 10-15 minutes so that it begins to char. Turn over halfway so that it chars on all sides. It does not need to be cooked all the way through at this stage as it will finish off cooking in the sauce. Do keep an eye on it though when it is under the grill as it can char very quickly and you don’t want it to be completely burned.
  3. In a deep wide pan (a wok would work well) heat the ghee/oil and gently fry the onion so that it begins to bronze – this will take around 6 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic paste.
  4. Add all the spices followed by the blitzed tomatoes, black pepper, salt and jaggery/sugar and water. Allow to simmer on a gentle heat for 7 minutes, by which time the sauce will have thickened sufficiently.
  5. Add the chicken to the pan and coat in the tomato sauce. Gently pour in the double cream and the final tablespoon of butter and simmer on a low heat for  15 minutes. Taste test to see if more salt is required.
  6. Finally add the dried fenugreek or fresh coriander. Drizzle a little more double cream before serving.


Mexican White Beans with Courgette and Tomato

How have you all been? I’ve been rather busy in the lockdown whirl and my blog has been taken a bit of a backseat recently. I wanted to rectify that with my fabulous speedy white beans recipe that is jammed packed full of flavour, takes about 15 minutes to whip together, is nutritious and super reasonable. Whilst everything is pretty readily available, there is one little caveat and that is Mexican arbol chillies. I often have a ready supply of Mexican chillies as they are great in so many dishes, adding a deep smokey and piquant edge to a dish. I often put an order into Mextrade who have a great selection of Mexican goods. Do go check them out.

The chilli arbol are often referred to a ‘birds beak chilli’ or a ‘rat’s tail chilli’ and look similar to a slightly larger  dried Thai red chilli. They are fiery and hot so you only need a couple in this dish. I soak them first in a bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes before finely chopping them for this recipe. You can decide whether you want to keep the seeds in or not.  Of course use any chilli you have to hand, but I like the smokiness that this Mexican chilli brings to the dish. One of my other favourite Mexican chillies is a chipotle, and they are perhaps easy to come by in supermarkets, so opt for that if you can’t find the arbol, although I would only add a couple as they are a lot larger to the arbol, although less fiery hot.

The other key ingredient here is the white beans. I am a huge believer that the white beans in the jars taste so much better than the tinned. The beans themselves are haricot beans and I always pick up jars of them when I see them. You can find them all over the place from Spanish and Italian delis to Turkish and Asian grocers so do look out for them.

This recipes is a great, speedy lunch or filling supper option and tone down or up the Mexican chillies depending on your audience. To serve I added a few Gosh Falefel on the side, which I am a huge fan of, although it is more than filling without them.

 

Mexican White Beans with Courgette and Tomato

serves 4

3 Mexican chilli arbol, soaked for 10 mins in boiling water and then finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, finely diced or sliced

1/2 tsp salt

2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

1 courgettes, peeled and diced

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

5 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1x vegetable stock cube + 100ml boiling water

1x 570g jar of white haricot beans, drained

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

200ml boiling water

 

  1. First cover the chilli arbol in boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Next heat the oil in a large, wide pan and then add the onions and salt. Allow to soften for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and bay leaves.
  3. Remove the chillies from the water and remove the stalks and finely chop. Remove the seeds if you like it less hot.
  4. Add them to the pan and then add the courgettes, black pepper. Allow the courgette to begin to bronze before adding the freshly chopped tomatoes. Allow to simmer gently.
  5. Now add the vegetable stock and boiling water and place a lid on the pan and increase the heat for a couple of minutes.
  6. Now add the white beans and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for a further few minutes and add more water to loosen if required. If you require the sauce to thicken then place a lid on the pan and increase the heat for a couple of minutes.
  7. Check the seasoning and add a little more salt if required.
  8. Ladle into bowls and serve.

 

 

 

 


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.