Cod, Potato and Spinach Curry

 

 

With the weather being pretty amazing here at the moment in the UK I like to cook quick speedy meals that are packed full of flavour and are not too laborious to make. I had a kilo of cod in my freezer, which I defrosted, so thought that a fish curry was called for, eaten in the garden. Bliss.

I love a good fish curry and have lots on my blog that I would recommend (not biased or anything!): Mild Indian cod currySri Lankan tuna curry, speedy salmon curry (excuse the dodgy photos on this one – it’s when I first started my blog), Bengali mustard fish curry.

The one I want to show you today takes 15 mins max – in fact most fish curries take no time at all. I used cod, but you could use any firm fish – pollock, salmon, trout, bhetki, tuna, monkfish. My cod was filleted and then I simply removed the skin and then cut it into slightly larger than bite size pieces. It will be in a red gravy and this is not because of tomatoes – there are none in it – instead from the paprika and Kashmiri chilli powder, the latter is not spicy hot, instead adds great colour to a dish. Do not be put off.

 

Cod, Potato and Spinach Curry

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 tbsp garam masala powder

1 heaped tsp turmeric powder

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 inches of ginger, skin removed and finely grated

4 fresh green chillies, sliced in half length ways (add less if you prefer less heat)

1 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp salt, to taste

1 heaped tsp paprika

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp mango/amchur powder

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 large potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes

250ml water

1 kg cod, filleted, skinned and cut into large bite size pieces

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar

 

  1. Use a large, wide, deep pan ideally. Heat the oil and when hot add the cumin seeds. They will sizzle almost immediately. After 10 seconds add the onion and move around the pan for a further couple of minutes before adding the coriander powder, turmeric and garam masala powder. Turn the heat down to prevent any of the spices burning. Move around the pan and then add the garlic and ginger.
  2. After about a minute or two add the flour, which will gently thicken the curry, and move around the pan. Add the paprika and Kashmiri chilli powder and then add the cubed potato.
  3. After a further minute add some water so that it covers the potato. Add the fish and coat in the masala. Add a little more water, to cover the fish and place a lid on the pan and cover for 5 minutes.
  4. Gently move the fish, without breaking it up, around the pan and add the mango powder, sugar and sesame seeds. Return the lid on the pan and simmer away for a further 3 minutes.
  5. Add the fresh spinach and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes or until the potato has softened. Add more water if you prefer a more saucy curry. Check on the taste and add more salt/sugar if necessary.
  6. Keep the lid on the pan to keep in the heat before serving. It works well with rice or Indian breads.

 

 

 

 


Fish Medley Chowder

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Pick up a paper or food magazine and the big topic for January always tends to be how to detox and various diets to go on to help shift the excesses of the Christmas season. We all start with good intentions but as the weeks of January roll into February the new exercise class or diet doesn’t seem to hold the same appeal in quite the same way.

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I tend to follow the old adage ‘everything in moderation’ and in January and February I do try to eat less meat, eat a lot of vegetables – especially greens, have a few vegetarian days per week and eat lots of fish. Exercise is important all year around and whilst I have been a little slack on this of late, other than great long walks over the Christmas hols most days, I will gradually get into it again once my daughters go back to school.

As I am still without a fridge  – the process of replacing my old (10 month old) one with AEG is painful to say the least, I have had to be well organised when it comes to feeding the troops. Thankfully my freezer – which is separate to the fridge – is working well and has been keeping us going with frozen fish.

For todays blog post I am going to share my fish medley chowder which is healthy, filling and a one pot meal to feed the family. They all love it and give it a big thumbs up.  I picked up a fresh fish mix – which is perfect for fish pie – in waitrose, which included Atlantic cod, smoked haddock and Atlantic salmon. It’s been sitting in the freezer ready for when I need to thaw it and cook. The fish was already cut to size so there really was minimum effort on my part. Give it a whirl. It is hassle free and whilst it is effectively a soup is substantial enough to be a whole meal.

Happy New Year to you all. I hope to put up lots of inspiring recipes over the course of this year for you all. Here is to happy, healthy eating.

Fish Medley Chowder

1 good slice of butter

1 leek

1 onion

small bunch of fresh thyme kept whole

2 bay leaves

1 large potato/2 medium size, cut into bite sized cubes

salt and pepper to taste

800ml milk

1 vegetable/fish stock cube

100ml boiling water

sweetcorn from one corn on the cob (frozen sweetcorn is also fine)

500g cubed smoked haddock, salmon, cod

handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

  1. Place the butter in the pan – I find my Le Creuset casserole pan works well – and when it is melted add the leeks, onions, thyme and bay leaves.
  2. After 4 minutes or so the leeks and onions will have softened and become more transparent. Add the cubed potato and a little salt and pepper to the pan.
  3. After a further couple of minutes add 500ml of milk along with the vegetable/fish stock cube and the boiling water.
  4. Cut the sweetcorn off the cob and add to the pan – frozen is fine, in which case throw in a couple of handfuls.
  5. Allow to simmer gently on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the potato has softened. Add the extra milk gradually over this time.
  6. Add the fish cubes to the pan. Do not move around the pan too much as you do not want them to break. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes by which time the fish will be nicely cooked. Taste and season further if necessary.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and fresh thyme bunch from the pan before serving.
  8. Serve in deep bowls with fresh parsley scattered on top.

 

 

 


Indian Inspired Cucumber, Apple and Red Onion Salad

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I’ve just returned from 10 glorious days in the Schwarzwald – or German Black Forest to you and me.

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Days were spent hiking through dense forests where gentle streams turned into ferocious waterfalls.

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 We climbed many a hill and marvelled at all the spruce and pine trees peppering the landscape. Dramatic scenery at every turn.

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Picnic lunch stops afforded us spectacular vistas, stretching for miles and the best thing was that we were completely alone – over the time we were there we passed only a couple of other walkers, one of which was a nun from the local nunnery. We live in such a frenetic, fast paced world that taking time out and spending time with nature away from the crowds is wonderfully cleansing for the mind and soul.

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Upon returning to our gasthof we would often treat ourselves to the local speciality…….Black Forest Gateaux,  because when in Rome…..

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After resting our weary limbs we prepared for serious dining in the evening. The food was exquisite, refined and yet hearty – the lemongrass creme brule and the wild garlic soup being highlights.

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Upon returning back in the UK however, I was ready to have a vegetarian spell. I began to crave green vegetables (I eat a lot of spinach) and fruit with a spice injection and simple Asian food. In fact the first thing I cooked for myself when we returned to Blighty was this.

With the bambinos having just returned to school and the sun giving us a lovely, welcome dose of vitamin c – check out the blossom and blue skies

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I wanted to eat a lovely salad that I was given recently when I was in Kerala. It’s lovely on it’s own or eaten to accompany all manner of Indian, meat, fish or veg curries – see my recipe library. The crunch from all the different textures and the flavours sing sweet notes as you dive into this salad. Give it a whirl and let me know if you agree.

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Indian Inspired Cucumber, Apple and Red Onion Salad

Serves 4 with another dish or 2 on it’s own

2 crunchy green apples, cored, skin removed, quartered and chopped into 3

1 cucumber, skin removed, halved and chopped into half moons

1 red onion, finely sliced

1 handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp agave nectar/honey

  1. Skin, slice and cut the ingredients as specified above and mix altogether along with the honey and salt. Simple and utterly delicious.

This salad would also be perfect with meat, fish or vegetables off the BBQ.

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Broth by Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas – Book Review Part 1

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I managed to lay my hands on an exciting new book that is hot hot hot off the press. From the title, front cover, recipes and photographs this was a book that I knew that I would instantaneously love. Broth by Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas, published by Jacqui Small and photographed by Lisa Linder, does what it says on the tin. It shows the reader how to cook all manner of broths from ‘classic beef bone to ham hock, white fish bone to vegetable top and tail broth.

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Once you’ve decided which broth to prepare you can then use that broth in one of the many ‘soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, rice and grains’ recipes further on in the book.

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Simple but wonderfully user friendly. Unlike many of the cookery books being published at the moment Broth consists of 50 recipes (instead of the ubiquitous 100) with a photograph accompanying each recipe.  Joy of joys! There is enough to whet the appetite and to encourage you to try the recipes that having 50 as opposed to a 100 options is irrelevant.

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Now cooking broth is nothing new. I recall my grandmother and mother for that matter regularly preparing broths, or stocks as they are also called. Whist some are a labour of love not all take hours to prepare – chicken and white fish bone broths being a good example. In the last couple of years though  boiling your bones and making your own broth has become more talked about and dare I say ‘trendy’. This has been largely helped along by cooks such as the glamorous Hemsley sisters, whose motto is quite simply ‘boil your bones’.

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The reason for this upsurge in making our own broth is down to the healthy qualities and nutrients that are found within the bones themselves. Nutritionists (such as Edgson who has been a practicing nutritional therapist for over 20 years) have given the nod to the wider populous that bone broth is a tool for gut healing and giving us an inner glow or as Edgson and Thomas put it broths are ‘nutritional powerhouses that contain the building blocks of good health’. As such more and more of us are pausing before throwing away the chicken carcass and instead putting it in a deep pan along with some celery, onion, carrot, garlic, pepper, salt, a bay leaf and covered with water and then simmer for an hour or so and you will have a magnificent chicken broth packed full of nutrients for the body.IMG_9493

 So ‘Broth’ is both timely and a much needed book to help steer us with ideas once we have made the broth but are unsure of what to do with it. The first few chapters elaborate on the health benefits of broth and effectively set the scene, both concise and readable, they focus on the salient points keeping the interest of the reader.

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They have then created a chart which lists the nutrients, what they are required for and then coloured dots representing the different broths that the nutrients are in. Further on in the book the recipes then have one of two coloured dots, showing which broth is used in the recipe. This is a great idea, however I almost feel that one extra page outlining the broths and then which recipes correspond to that broth and the page of the recipe would have been helpful.

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I opted to make a combination of the classic beef bone broth and the rich marrow bone broth – the one on the right (although as you can see from the photo above I also had a white fish bone broth on the stove at the time). My butcher only had bone marrow and not T-bone or knuckle, otherwise I would have stuck pretty much to the classic beef bone recipe. A few differences I made were that I used red onions, leeks and bay leaves, as specified in the bone marrow broth but omitted the bouquet garni, although the fresh herbs that I added are pretty similar to a dried bouquet garni. I also did not add paprika/cayenne pepper.

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The result approximately 24 hours later was a delicious tasting broth. Part of the broth I used in a recipe that I will share with you next week from the very same book. It’s a good one so make sure to come back and visit then.

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I am curious on how many of my readers make their own broths already. Please please let me know by leaving a comment below. If you do make them, which ones do you typically make? For those who do not, have I convinced you to try making one? The book ‘Broth’ retails at £20 and I think is a great addition to your cookbook library, I am certainly glad it is part of mine. Our culture for the past couple of decades has been dominated by speedy, convenience foods but the realisation has set in that this is not good for our health and long term wellbeing – as seen by the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. We need to take a step back from our busy lives and invest time to create good nutritional food and preparing homemade broths is one way we can all do this for our families. They freeze well so separate them into a number of portions ready to use over the months ahead.

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(left is the white fish bone and the right is my bone marrow broth)

A combination of Classic Beef Bone and Bone Marrow Broth

adapted from Broth by Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas 

Makes approx 1.2 litres/2 pints

1.6kg beef bones (if you can use T-bone or knuckle, if not bone marrow like mine)

2 celery sticks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 medium red onions, chopped

2 leeks, chopped

3 bay leaves

1 mixed bunch of fresh thyme, sage and marjoram tied together by string

2.25 litres/4 pints water and more during the cooking

4 tbsp red wine vinegar or apple cider

freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/375 F/gas mark 5. Spread the bones out on a large roasting tray and cook in the oven for 45 minutes allowing the fat to drain out of the bones. Drain the fat and set aside.
  2. Place all the vegetables and bones in a large pan and cover with water so that the bones are completely covered.
  3. Bring the pan to the boil and then turn down and simmer for approximately 24 hours or longer if you can (the longer the broth the richer it will be). Make sure to turn off the pan at night for safety. You want to top up the water regularly to ensure it always covers the bones.
  4. Allow the broth to cool and then strain through a muslin and sieve into a large bowl. Then transfer to freezer proof storage containers. The broth will last for up to 5 days in the fridge and 5 months in the freezer.

Yes it takes time, but it is very easy to do as you can see.

 Note: I found marjoram hard to find so left it out. You can always replace the fresh herbs with a bouquet garni!


Sweet Potato, Albacore Tuna, White Bean, Avocado and Rocket Salad

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Salads in winter are a revelation. Whilst I adore and encourage wonderful winter warming stews and curries, I also love to have light salads on occasion. I crave fresh spinach and rocket and am also rather partial to consuming an avocado. This salad I literally threw together one lunch time last week and had not planned to create a blog post around it – hence the one photo I took on my iPhone quickly before devouring  the meal.

This salad I literally used up things that needed eating in my fridge and the result was heavenly. It got a number of instagram likes so thought I would share it here too. It’s more a case of assembling than anything else, but I hope I can encourage you to try it. I often tend to roast extra sweet potatoes so that I can use the leftovers in a salad a day or two later – hence the ones I used here.

Sweet Potato, Albacore Tuna, White Bean, Avocado and Rocket Salad 

serves 2

2 roasted sweet potato, cut into bite sized pieces

1 avocado, cubed

4 tbsp white beans

1/2 jar of Albacore tuna in olive oil

2 large handfuls of fresh rocket

salt and pepper, to taste

*****

Lemon and Basil Oil Dressing

juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp basil infused olive oil

*****

  1. Assemble all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl, gently mix and then plate up.
  2. Scatter each salad with a little basil infused olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Enjoy.