Tamarind is ace. It imparts a deep, rich and sweet flavour to curries. Buy a block and put it in your fridge, it keeps for months, and you can hack a piece off and chuck it in your curry just like that. That's what I did in this lovely chana (chickpea) curry.
Note that the block sort-of dissolves as it cooks, and leaves behind inedible pips. If you prefer not to spit out pips then you could put the tamarind in a paper teabag perhaps, so you can fish it out afterwards.
You can change the veg choices in here - the red pepper is a nice bright contrasting flavour - but in particular the baby aubergines do this great thing of going gooey and helping to create the sauce. Full-sized aubergines don't seem to do that, in my experience. It's the tamarind and the aubergine that go to add body to the sauce, I think - I don't add any tomato or anything like that, and yet the sauce is flavoursome and thickened.
Heat the oil in a largeish deep pan which has a lid, on quite a hot frying heat. Add the spice seeds and the cloves - you might like to put the lid half-on at this point because as the seeds fry and pop they'll jump around and may jump out at you.
After 30 secs or so with the seeds, add the onion, then the chilli and the powdered spices. Give it a good stir round. Let the onion fry for a minute or two before adding the red pepper and the aubergines. Fry this all for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chickpeas, the beetroot with its juices, the tamarind block, and maybe 1 cup of boiling water (don't add too much water - not enough to cover the mixture). Give this a good stir, then put the lid on, turn the heat down to its lowest, and let it bubble for 30 minutes or so. It can be longer or shorter, I'd say 20 minutes is an absolute minimum. No need to stir now, you can go and do something else, as long as you're sure it's not going to bubble over!
When the curry is nearly ready, take the lid off, turn the heat up to thicken the liquid if needed, and give it all a stir.
Give it a good twist of black pepper, then serve it up in bowls, with coriander leaf sprinkled on top. Serve it with bread (eg naan or roti).
A nice fresh pea soup can be great sometimes, and also a good thing to do with leftovers. This worked well for me when I had some leftover spring onions, creme fraiche and wasabi. You can of course leave out the wasabi, or swap the creme fraiche for cream or a dab of milk, or you could add watercress perhaps.
Boil a kettle.
In a smallish pan melt the butter. Chop the spring onions, and fry the white bits gently to soften them, about 4 minutes. Then add the green bits of the spring onions, as well as the peas and the tiny dab of wasabi.
Turn up the heat and also add the boiling water, just enough to cover things. Once you've brought the pan to the boil you can turn it right down low, put a lid on it, and let it bubble gently for approx 10 minutes, no need for more.
Take the pan off the heat, and with a hand blender you can whizz up the pan's contents to blend it to a smooth soup. Add the black pepper and creme fraiche and stir it through.
This was gorgeous. I hadn't realised that the sweet butternut and the salty halloumi would play so well off each other.
Serves 2, takes 45 minutes overall but with a big gap in the middle.
First get the oven pre-heated to 180 C. While it's warming get the butternut ready to go in the oven. Chop it into bitesize pieces, roughly the size of 2cm cubes but no need to be exact. Then put the pieces in a roasting tin. Take the tines of rosemary off the stalk, chop them up and sprinkle them over the squash, then drizzle generously with olive oil. Chop the garlic into two pieces (no need to skin them - we're not eating them, just using them to add flavour) and place the pieces strategically among the squash. Then put this all into the oven, to roast for maybe 40 minutes.
When there's about 10 minutes left, heat up a griddle pan and a frying pan on the hob. Don't add any oil to either of the pans.
Take the asparagus stalks, toss them in olive oil and lay them on the griddle. Don't move them about.
Put the pine nuts into the hot dry frying pan. You'll want to shuffle these about for the next few minutes, watching them carefully - they need to get a bit toasty but not burn. While you're doing that you can cut the halloumi into bitesize pieces, about 2cm cube size. Turn the asparagus over to cook the other side and add the halloumi to the pan too. (I hope they fit in the pan with the asparagus...) After a couple of minutes you can turn the halloumi over.
Get the tin out of the oven a couple of minutes before you serve it. Find and discard the garlic.
To serve, place the asparagus on each plate, then next to it you put the squash and the halloumi. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the squash and halloumi. Finally sprinkle a squeeze of lemon over.
It's asparagus season, plus I have a half-used packet of ready-cooked chestnuts. Wait a moment - maybe those flavours can come together over a risotto. Yes they can.
Note: I would have started with some leek or onion to help get things going - if I'd had some.
Quantities are to serve 1, but scale it as you like. Took about 30 mins.
Rinse the asparagus, snip off the hardest end bits and chop the rest into bite-size pieces (about half an inch).
In a good-sized saucepan heat up 1 knob of butter. When it's melted add the rice and the asparagus and give it a good stir. Let it cook for a minute or so before you add a small cup-worth of stock and/or wine. Stir the rice gently as it absorbs the liquid. Eventually when pretty much all is absorbed add more liquid, and continue stirring. Continue this way for about 20 minutes, until all the liquid is added and the rice is approaching being nicely soft.
In a small frying pan heat up a big knob of butter. When it's melted and ready to sizzle add the halved chestnuts. Stir-fry them around for 3-5 minutes until coloured and smelling nice, then add the chestnuts and the butter to the risotto, stirring them in. Chop the parsley finely and add that too, stirring.
You'll want the chestnuts to spend about 5 minutes in the risotto to meld the flavours together. Then add a good twist of pepper, stir, and serve with plenty of shaved parmesan on top.
This is a good hearty Sunday lunch for a vegetarian. One thing I'm missing as I increase my vegetarian-ness is something that's a proper centrepiece for a Sunday roast - those "nut roast" things which are fairly common are OK but I don't think I've had one that could outshine the roast potatoes on a plate. Anyway toad to the rescue. Of course you can do toad-in-the-hole with veggy sausages, but this here is great and not pretending to be anything it isn't!
Serves 2. Takes about 90 minutes in total, including a lot of oven-time where you can do other things.
I recommend you serve this with onion and red wine gravy (takes about 30 mins in a gentle pan), and have some raspberry vinegar available to sprinkle on the pud.
With a whisk or a fork, mix the milk, water and egg. Whisk the flour in, beating out any lumps. Now let this batter stand for a little while, e.g. 15 minutes, though it can easily rest for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 210 C.
Peel the squash and cut it into big thick fingers, like oversized chunky chips. (This is easiest if you're using the top of the squash and not the lower half with the seeds.)
Brush a roasting tray with oil (olive or vegetable) and then spread the squash pieces out on it. Drizzle over some more oil then roast the squash in the oven for about 40 minutes. They're going to get a bit more cooking after this, so they don't need to be "done" - they need to be at the point where they're just starting to soften and to get some darkening caramelisation at the edges.
While the squash is roasting, prepare the roasting tin in which you'll cook the toad. This needs to be at least 1 inch deep. Put a good glug of vegetable oil in, and then put this in the oven alongside the other stuff, so the tin and the oil can pre-heat to a good hot heat.
Take the squash out of the oven. If you leave them out a couple of minutes, they'll cool a bit so they're easier to handle in the next step.
Next is assembling the toad. It has to be done quickly! So that everything's hot in the hot tin. Quickly get the hot tin from the oven, pour the batter into it, then place the squash pieces one-by-one into the middle of the batter with a bit of space between them - and immediately return this to the hot oven and shut the door. This then cooks for 20-25 minutes until the batter is risen and crusty, the squash is nicely cooked and getting a nice roast colour.
If you have more pieces of squash than you can accommodate in the tin, simply put them back on the roasting tray and continue to roast them. You can serve them alongside.
Inspired by Nigel Slater's recipe I made a great and simple vegetarian stew (vegan, in fact), using my black bean chorizo to help add depth of flavour. (If you haven't got any of that, you could probably do something similar just with a blob of black bean sauce, even though the flavour is different?)
Serves 1 (fairly big portion), takes 25 mins.
In a deep pan which has a lid, heat up about 1 tbsp vegetable oil, while you chop the onion. You want to chop about three-quarters of the onion into whatever size pieces, and the remaining one-quarter of the onion slice it into nice rings, about half a centimetre thick.
The misc pieces of onion, put them in the pan and give them a good fry to get them softened. Add the three spices and stir around. Then add the chorizo - not too much, it's mainly for flavour. Let this cook for two minutes or so.
Then add the lentils and stir, then add enough boiling water to only-just-cover. Put a lid on, turn the heat right down, and let this bubble for 15 minutes.
In the final five minutes, heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Make sure the onion rings are separated into circles, and put them in the pan to fry briskly for 5 minutes, turning halfway. While these are getting a little crispy, chop the mangetouts roughly into maybe 3 pieces each and chuck them into the stew, and also add the bits of parsley and the lemon juice.
When the onion rings are ready, simply put the stew in a bowl and sprinkle the onion rings on top.
I love a lamb tagine, so I'd like to make a vegetarian tagine that competes with it for the fullness of flavour. Here's my best one so far, making it deep and main-coursey by having large chunks of aubergine flavoured with cinnamon to take centre stage, and bitterness from fried lemon slices so that there's contrasting objects in there along with the standard tagine backing.
And yes you're meant to eat the lemon slices, rind and all. You don't have to eat the rind if you don't want, but it's doing the bitter/sour job we've got it for.
Serves 2, takes maybe an hour (including the stewing time).
In a deep pan that has a lid, heat up a big glug of olive oil, and fry the diced onion at a medium heat for 3-5 minutes to soften. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and let it cook for a minute or two, then add the dates/prunes, 1 cup of veg stock, the honey, and a handful of almonds. Put the lid on, bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down to a simmer.
Chop the aubergine into big pieces, maybe 1 inch cubed. Don't go smaller than that. Put the aubergine in a bowl and sprinkle over a good dose of cinnamon, maybe 2 tbsp. Toss this around to coat the aubergines fairly evenly.
Get a big frying pan and put it on a hot heat. (No oil.) Add the aubergine pieces. Let them dry-fry for maybe 6 minutes, tossing them occasionally to turn over. A couple of minutes before they're done, slice the lemon into 0.5 cm slices, remove the seeds, and cut the slices in half (i.e. into semicircles), then add the lemon slices to the dry-fry pan. This gets them a little bit browned too. If you're increasing the quantities, you'll need to do the dry-frying in batches.
Put the aubergine and lemon into the stew pot. Add a good twist of black pepper, as well as the cumin and bay leaf. Stir around. Now put the lid back on and let this bubble gently for maybe 20 minutes minimum, 40 minutes maximum.
About ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, add a handful of chickpeas.
Then, just before serving: taste to check the sweetness, and decide whether to add a bit more honey. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, and stir. Then finally sprinkle some more sliced almonds over.
After a tip-off from a friend, I've had a couple of different attempts at doing a nice simple meal with courgette fritters. This one is working well so far. I keep the courgettes in pieces (rather than grating them) which maintains the nice structure with the squishy middle bit, and the egg coating helps to make them into little parcels.
Takes 10 minutes, serves 2 as a light meal.
First get the courgette ready. If you rinsed it, pat it dry with kitchen paper. Cut it into 1cm-thick slices and put them on kitchen paper to dry a bit more.
Put a large frying pan on a medium-hot heat, and put a good slug of vegetable oil in it, a couple of millimetres deep.
Mix the flour and parmesan in a bowl. In a second bowl, lightly beat the egg. These are going to be for coating the courgette.
Take the courgette slices and toss them in the flour/parmesan. Try to get a nice even coating.
Now we fry. With one hand, take the courgette pieces one at a time, dip them in the beaten egg, turn them to coat, and then put into the hot pan. By the time you've got them all into the pan it may well be time to turn the first ones over - they need 2 or 3 minutes each side. Do the turning-over one slice at a time (e.g. using tongs), in roughly the same order that you put them in.
When the courgettes are nicely golden-brown on both sides, lift them out onto kitchen paper. In a bowl or directly on the plate, mix them with the salad leaves. Sprinkle more parmesan over them, then squeeze lemon juice over them.
Serve with crusty bread or hot buttered toast.
"Nisk" is a kurdish soup. I don't know much about it but I've modified it with a pack of beetroot to make a simple storecupboard thing that's a lovely warming and hearty soup. Takes 20 mins, serves 1 as a main or 2 otherwise:
Set up the lentils: put some hot water on them briefly, then drain and rinse them.
Heat some vegtable oil in a saucepan and start the garlic and ginger frying gently. Open the beetroot pack (carefully!), drain the liquid, and but the beetroots into bite-size pieces (eighths).
Add the turmeric to the garlic/ginger, stir once, then add the beetroot. Stir.
The rice and lentils to the pot, then add just enough stock/hot water to cover. Bring to the boil, add the dab of chilli sauce, then put a lid on and turn the heat right down.
Simply simmer really gently for 15 minutes. Then serve, perhaps with a bit of parsley. You probably don't need bread with it.
Kale and rosemary flatbread. What I particularly like about this flatbread is that the kale baked in the oven goes crispy like fried seaweed. I had it as a main course with a bit of rocket and some manchego cheese. It could also be a good accompaniment, maybe an accompaniment to something meaty.
Serves 2. It's derived from a recipe from "Crumb" by Roby Tandoh.
Combine the flour, salt, pepper and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the warm water. Mix with a fork, then when that gets difficult add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and rosemary, and mix with one hand.
Knead it for 10 minutes. You might be able to do this in the bowl or it might be easier to tip it out onto a clean surface. You might need to sprinkle a bit more flour on. It should become elastic and less sticky.
Now cover the dough and let it rise for 30-60 minutes in a warm place. Meanwhile, blanche the kale: bring a pan of water to the boil and plunge the kale in. Boil it quickly for 1 minute, then immediately drain it and run cold water over it to stop it from cooking any further. Now you need to get it as dry as you can, firstly by draining it then by pressing it gently.
Knead just under half of the kale into the risen dough. It'll be a little tricky, due to the residual moisture on the leaves, but there's no need to worry about it being perfect.
Preheat a fan oven to 170C. Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, roll out the dough and then roll/hand-stretch it into a kind of A4 shape, quite thin, and put it onto a lightly floured baking tray. Put the remaining kale over the top, pressing it down a bit so that it'll stick in. Drizzle plenty of olive oil over the top and bake for 20 minutes.
Poached thai-style sea bass - a handy everyday recipe, easy to do, healthy and fresh, whenever you see a nice piece of sea bass in the shop. It takes less than ten minutes. All of the flavourings are optional really but most of them can be kept in your store cupboard.
These amounts are to serve one.
Boil a kettle.
Meanwhile chop things up: the spring onions into ~1mm slices, the chilli into ~1mm slices, the root ginger into fine slices, and chop the parsley. Don't chop the lemongrass, but bruise it (bash it with the heel of the knife a bit). Don't chop the lime leaves.
Put all the flavourings (not the coriander/parsley) into a pan with a small-soup-portion of boiled water and bring it to the boil. Add the noodles, then add the seabass so it sits on top of them (it should still be submerged though). No need to stir anything.
Turn the heat right down and put a lid on. Let it poach for about 5 minutes.
At the end, ladle the whole lot into a soup dish, ideally keeping the fish in one piece sitting on top. Sprinkle the coriander/parsley on.
This is my approximation of the lovely dry-fried paneer served at Tayyabs, the famous Punjabi Indian place in East London. These amounts are for 1 as a main, or more as a starter. Takes about ten minutes:
First put the cubed paneer into a bowl, add the curry powder and cumin and toss to get an even coating.
Get a frying pan nice and hot, with about 1 tbsp of veg oil in it. Add the onion and chilli (and cumin seed if using). Note that you want the onion to be frying to be crispy at the end, so you want it finely sliced and separated (no big lumps), you want the oil hot, and you want the onion to have plenty of space in the pan. Fry it hot for about 4 minutes.
Add the paneer to the pan, and any spice left in the bowl. Shuffle it all around, it's time to get the paneer browning too. It'll take maybe another 4 minutes, not too long. Stir it now and again - it'll get nice and brown on the sides, no need to get a very even colour on all sides, but do turn it all around a couple of times.
Near the end, e.g. with 30 seconds to go, add the squeeze of lemon juice to the pan, and stir around. You might also like to sprinkle some garam masala into the pan too.
Serve the paneer with chive sprinkled over the top. It's good to have some bread to eat it with (e.g. naan or roti) and salad, or maybe with other indian things.
A baked germanic cheesecake with blackberries and lemon curd. Yes please. Makes a cheesecake for 12 slices.
Put the oven on at 180C. Line a round springform cake tin (7" diameter maybe) with greaseproof paper.
Crush the biscuits roughly in a bag, and melt the butter/marge in a pan or in a microwave. Mix the biscuits and butter/marge well then press it into the tin, forming an even base all the way to the edges. Put in the oven for 10 minutes, then take it out and leave it out to cool. If you have time, put it in the fridge for up to an hour to firm up.
Turn the oven down to 140C.
Beat the quark, cream cheese, icing sugar and two egg yolks together.
Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Then fold them gently into the quark mixture, with a wooden or plastic spoon, taking care not to over-mix (which would take the air out).
Now to assemble the thing in layers:
Now bake this in the oven, for about 90 minutes. (Cooking slowly, at 140 rather than 180, is so that it doesn't brown on top, or at least not much.) Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool in the oven, with the door ajar (cooling it slowly helps prevent cracking, though when using the blackberries it's quite unlikely you'll avoid all cracking). Refrigerate.
Serve with some blackberry coulis if you have more blackberries! Not necessary though. It's great as-is - ideally you should get it out of the fridge a while before you eat it so it isn't too chilly.
VARIATION: Cranachan cheesecake
The traditional Scottish dessert of cranachan involves raspberries, oats, cream and whisky, so let's do something like that! Follow the recipe above but:
I got a big pot of kim-chi from the chinese supermarket, so I decided to make some pork dumplings and give them a vaguely asian flavour. This was nice and makes good use of a very small amount of pork. Serves 1 as a main, or 2--4 as accompaniment, takes 25 mins:
In a frying pan, fry the pork mince for 5 mins, breaking it up well into small pieces as you go. Then take it off the heat and let it cool a little bit.
Meanwhile, you can start making the dumplings even while the pork is frying. Mix up the flour, suet and five-spice. Add a splash of cold water (2 tbsp?) and with your fingertips mix and rub the mixture. If it's not wet enough to come together, add a bit more water; if it's too wet to work with, add a touch more flour; etc.
Sprinkle the basil leaves over the mixture, then sprinkle the slightly cooled pork mince over too. Make sure the pork isn't too hot to work with your hands, then mix everything up nicely and form into about 8 round balls.
Place the dumplings in a steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
Serve with plenty of kim chi.
It's a big vegetable like a cross between a cucumber and a potato. You can treat it a bit like a tough courgette. Steaming it the other day didn't work out well. But today I tried frying it with chicken, in a mediterranean fashion, and yeah that worked out.
This simple thing is to serve one and takes less than 20 minutes:
Slice the dudhi down the middle and then into slices about 1cm thick. Get some oil nice and hot in a big frying pan and add the dudhi. Fry the dudhi for a total of maybe 15 minutes, but adding more things about half-way through as follows.
While the dudhi is cooking, dice the chicken breast. Add some salt and pepper to a handful of plain flour on a plate, and toss the chicken in the flour, to coat evenly. Add it to the hot pan, making sure the chicken pieces are in the hottest and oiliest bit of the pan so that they're going to fry and cook. Slice the garlic and add that too.
When the food is ready to serve - you need to be confident that the chicken has had time to cook through - turn the heat off, then sprinkle the basil leaves on top of everything. Also sprinkle a small splash of water on top, which will instantly turn to steam and just help the basil along a touch. Stir briefly and serve, with bread or pasta.
It's always good to have recipes for those packs of cooked beetroot. So let's have a nice simple soup. Serves 4 to 5 people, takes about half an hour:
On a medium heat, heat up a blob of marge in a deep saucepan with a lid. Roughly slice the onion and add it. Then add the cumin seed and stir. Slice the garlic and add that. Add salt and pepper. Let that all fry gently to soften, for about 5 minutes.
Roughly chop the tomatoes and pile them on top. Boil the kettle and add enough hot water so that it only-just-about covers the things in the pan (maybe 1/2 a cup). Stir, then put the pan lid on, turn the heat down to low, and let it bubble gently for 15 minutes.
Cut the beetroot roughly into chunks, add it to the pan and stir. Take the pan off the heat. Let everything cool for a minute, then carefully ladle it all into a big blender. (I say carefully because you still want to be careful about beetroot stains!) Whizz it all up, briefly so that there are no pieces left but it's still kinda thick. Return it to the pan.
Warm it up again, adding the milk at the end - not too much, just enough to slacken it and give it a touch of creaminess.
Serve with bread and butter.
At our local International Supermarket they do some great turkish delight. However, the batch I bought recently tasted funny - I think they must have stored the turkish delight alongside a big mound of parsley, because it had obviously absorbed some flavours which didn't really suit it!
So what can you do if your turkish delight has absorbed some flavours? Make it absorb some more!
So I experimented with tea-smoking the turkish delight. I was nervous that something weird would happen in the wok (I've never tried warming up turkish delight before...) but it turned out fine and the smoky flavour works well.
Actually I'd like them a bit more smoky than they are, so you might want to increase some of the proportions here:
Get a wok (or similar) and put a layer of tinfoil in.
Rip open the teabags and pour their contents onto the foil. Then add roughly equal quantities of rice and sugar. Mix it up a bit with your fingers. Put the wok on a medium heat. It'll take a few minutes until it starts smoking.
Meanwhile, you'll need something into the wok which will hold the turkish delight well away from the heat, but will allow the smoke to circulate. Maybe some sort of steaming pan. I used a thing for stopping oil from spitting at you.
Don't put the "thing" into the wok yet, keep it to one side. On top of the thing, put some tinfoil and put the pieces of turkish delight onto that. Space them out, and make sure the foil won't stop smoke from circulating.
When the tea has started smoking, put the thing-and-foil-and-delight into it, and put a tight lid on top. (You could use foil, if you don't have a good lid.)
Turn the heat down a bit and let the thing smoke gently for about 15 minutes. Don't peek inside! You don't want the smoke to escape! After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and just leave the pan there for a couple of hours to let the process continue.
When it's all finally done, open the pan - in a well-ventilated area. Take the delight out, and sprinkle with a bit more icing sugar to serve.
Leftover haggis is great for salads. This time I put it with apple - a bit less jazzy than my haggis and orange salad but still a great easy lunch. Serves 1 to 2:
Cook the pasta, then drain it, refresh it in cold water, and leave it to one side for a bit to cool down.
Peel the apple and slice it into matchsticks.
In a bowl, break up the haggis with a spoon or a fork. Mix the apple into it. Then add everything else and mix it together.
Over the bank holiday we happened to discover a massive trove of BLACKBERRIES! Now of course I'm not going to tell you the exact location - let's just say it was somewhere in the southern half of the UK ;) and we got a massive haul of lovely blackberries:
So we now have many blackberry-oriented puddings ahead of us. To make the most of the freshly-picked blackberries I wanted to make pavlova with blackberries and blackberry coulis. So Philippa's mum kindly told us the secret to her delicious pavlova. My photography here is amateur but trust us this is delicious:
So here's the recipe. The amounts I've written are for a "small" pavlova to serve two. If you change the amounts you'll probably need to adjust the cooking time.
I've got to say, and I know this sounds poncey, but it's not really worth bothering with shop-bought blackberries. We've had them now and again and they always look nice but there's somehow no flavour to them. (Philippa's mum makes it with shop-bought raspberries and that's good. It's really the blackberries I'm on about here.) So, while it's the season, if you can find some blackberries to pick, then take the opportunity, and make this:
Pre-heat the oven to 150C.
First you need to whisk the egg whites almost to stiff peaks. For this, follow all the usual meringue advice: you'll need a spotlessly clean bowl (because oil or alkaline can cause it to collapse), and I add a dab of vinegar to the bowl to be sure. Add the egg whites and then whisk them almost to stiff peaks. Add half of the sugar and whisk it in.
Then mix the other half of the sugar with the cornflour. Sprinkle it over the meringue mix, and do the same with the vanilla and the vinegar. Using a big wooden or plastic spoon, fold everything in, until it's mixed and the brown streaks have disappeared. Take care not to over-fold it or the air will go out of it - better to stop a little too soon than a little too late.
Put a sheet of baking paper on a big baking tray, and pour the mixture onto it, making a rough circle. Level it off with the back of the spoon, so it's maybe an inch thick.
Put this into the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave it to cool, without opening the door. This helps prevent it from cracking. After about 30 minutes, or maybe longer, it's probably OK to open the oven door. Then leave it to cool to room temperature, a good hour or so at least.
When you're ready to have your afters, prepare the blackberries and coulis etc - it doesn't take a sec. Rinse the blackberries gently. Put half of them onto the plates you're going to serve them on (pick the best-looking non-squishy ones if you have the patience). The other half, put them in a (mini-)blender with the icing sugar, and whizz them up. Then push this mixture through a sieve and collect the lovely dark purple coulis into a serving jug below.
Serve however you like, but each person will want a slice of the pavlova meringue, a load of the fresh blackberries, a generous drizzle of coulis and a couple of scoops of ice cream.
Haggis and orange - why of course! This salad serves 2. The red wine vinegar really helps the flavours marry, and the beansprouts add a nice bit of crunch - if you're being posh you could also/instead add some pomegranate seeds.
In a large bowl, break the haggis into small pieces with a spoon. The haggis we had was a little dry so I also added a dab of oil at this point.
Now prepare the orange. First, with a zester, scrape off about 1/4 of the orange's zest, into the haggis. Then, with a knife slice the top and bottom off the orange, then stand the orange on a chopping board and slice off the rest of the peel. Then cut the orange into segments, and cut each segment in two, so you have little bite-sized bits. Pick out any pips. Add the orange pieces to the haggis, and also tip in the small amount of juice from the chopping board.
Add the rocket and the beansprouts, and mix. Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar and mix it to dress evenly. You won't need to season much, since the haggis brings a lot of seasoning.
Serve with toast.
This clementine cake is lovely and juicy, with a nice sweet chewiness to the crust. And look at that crumb:
When I took the next photo I accidentally left the flash on - but it does show off some of the bright orange colouring in the cake:
It's an easy cake to make. Cos of the juiciness it doesn't keep for that long... but that's no problem. If you have a pressure-cooker it really speeds up the bit where you cook the clementines (or tangerines, or whatever).
Put the clementines (WHOLE AND UNPEELED, but without any stalky bits) into the pressure cooker, or a big pan with a lid. Add cold water to cover. If it's a pressure cooker, put the lid on, bring it up to pressure, and cook for 15-20 mins. If it's a normal pan, simmer gently (covered) for 2 hours.
Then turn off the heat, release the pressure, and let the clems and the water cool down. You have to let them cool before the next step, so the clementines don't scramble the eggs! Here's a picture of our clems cooling on the back step.
Put the clems into a food processor and blend them up. (It's handy to keep some of their cooking water in case the mixture needs a bit more liquid, but in my experience it's generally not needed.)
Crush the cloves in a pestle and mortar. Add the flaked almonds and crush them too. No need to crush the almonds too fine - the point of the flaked almonds is to give an occasional bit of crunch to the cake.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then mix in the clementines. Then add everything else, and mix it up.
Pour into a 21cm springform tin (greased, and with baking paper in the bottom) and bake at 180 degrees (gas mark 4 or 5) for about an hour. Cover the cake loosely with greaseproof paper or a tray, for the last 20 minutes or so.
Take out of the oven and let it sit in the tin for 10--20 minutes or so, before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool properly.
This recipe used HFW's "tabula kisir" recipe as a starting point, but I adapted it to approximate a nice tabbouleh I've had in the good lebanese place. As usual, I make no claims to authenticity - but in my opinion there shouldn't be too much wheat (or else it comes across like a boring old couscous), and it should have a nice acid tang - in my version the lime does that really nicely. I didn't have any tomatoes in the house but you could easily add a single diced tomato too. Serves 2, takes about half an hour in total.
Put the bulgar wheat into a large bowl (it will look like not very much!), and add just enough boiling water to cover. Put a plate over the top and leave it to steam for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, there are a few other bits you can prepare in parallel:
Wash the spring onion and the parsley and put them to one side.
Put a dry frying pan on a hot hob, and add the walnuts. Toss them around in the pan occasionally until they smell nice and toasty. Then turn off the heat and put them to one side.
Also make up the dressing. Juice the lime into a small dish or glass. Then add the chilli flakes, cumin, paprika, and tomato puree, and whisk it up with a fork. Then add the olive oil and whisk it up again. Finally mix the dressing in with the bulgar wheat, and if it hasn't already cooled completely then leave it a little while more.
Chop the spring onion finely, and the parsley too. Add them to the bulgar wheat, and add the walnuts too. It's also nice to add a little bit of peel from the lime. Mix it all around, and leave it at least a few minutes for the flavours to mix together.
I've been experimenting with rhubarb, looking at nice ways to cook it in the oven without stewing it first (so it keeps its shape). Here's a rather nice one: rhubarb in the hole.
These amounts serve 2. Should work fine if you double the amounts - you just need a roasting tin big enough to sit all the rhubarb in with plenty of space.
In a mixing jug, beat the egg then add the milk and beat again. Add the salt and 3 tsp sugar and beat again, then gradually whisk in the flour to make a medium-thick batter. (This is normal Yorkshire pudding batter but slightly sweetened.)
If you can, leave the batter to sit for about 30 mins, then whisk again.
Put the oven on at 200 C. Grease the roasting tin / Yorkshire-pudding tin and put it in the oven to preheat.
Rinse the rhubarb and cut it into 8cm (3in) pieces. On a chopping board or in a bowl, mix the rhubarb pieces with the ginger preserve to get them nice and evenly coated. Sprinkle the other 3 tsp sugar onto them.
Assembling the pudding can be a bit tricky - mainly because you want to work fast, so the tin stays hot. Get it out of the oven, then wobble it around to make sure the grease is evenly spread just before you pour in the batter. Then place the rhubarb pieces in (probably best to do it one-by-one) so they're evenly spread but they're all a good couple of centimetres away from the edge.
Immediately put this all back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. The batter should rise and get a nice golden-brown crust.
You can serve it on its own, or with a small amount of ice cream maybe.
(I had expected it to be a bit dry on its own, but actually the fruit keeps it moist so the ice cream isn't compulsory.)
Classic combination this, but when asparagus is in season it's a lovely light lunch to base around a handful of asparagus. Serves 2, takes 10 minutes, and NB it involves a raw egg so it's not for anyone preganant.
Put a griddle pan on a high heat to warm up. Put the bread in the toaster on a light setting. (The plan is to ignore when it pops up and leave it in the toaster while preparing the other stuff, which gets the bread a bit dry and crispy which complements the other stuff well.) Separate the egg, putting the yolk in a small mixing bowl, and put the white in the fridge/freezer (we don't need it). Shave/slice the cheese finely.
Put the asparagus in the hot griddle pan (lying perpendicular to the lines of the pan). Sprinkle a small amount of oil onto the asparagus. Let it cook for 5--7 minutes or so, turning halfway through, and meanwhile make the mayonnaise as follows.
Add the mustard powder, vinegar and garlic to the yolk, and mix it all in with a whisk. Add a tiny drop of olive oil and whisk that in until it's well blended. Add another bit of olive oil and whisk it in again. Keep doing this until you've added about 2 tbsp oil (after the first couple of drops, you can start adding slightly larger amounts at a time). Taste it, and adjust the flavour if wanted. Keep whisking and adding a dab more oil until it reaches a slightly gelatinous mayonnaisey consistency.
When the asparagus is almost ready, put the toaster down and let it warm the bread up for another 20 seconds or so. Then slice the toast in halves, and arrange each plate with toast and asparagus, sprinkling the cheese over the asparagus and then adding a blob-or-drizzle of mayonnaise over.
A simple lentil supper that happens to have a nice variegation of good strong flavours. Serves two, takes 40 minutes.
Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse them under running water.
Heat up 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and start the onion and the cumin frying. After a couple of minutes, add the garlic. After another minute or two (maybe you're taking this time to chop the carrot) add the carrot and the asafoetida. Stir around and allow to fry a bit more. Overall, the onion etc should have been frying for 5 minutes or so before the next step.
Add enough boiling water to just cover what's in the pan, and let it boil strongly for a couple of minutes. Then turn the heat down to a simmer, bung the thyme in, and put a lid on.
This is now going to simmer for almost 30 minutes but halfway through we'll add the mushrooms. So about halfway through, heat up a frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil in, peel and slice the mushrooms, and fry them quickly for a minute or so - no need to overdo it. Then bung the mushrooms in with everything else, and also the beans if you have any. Now is a good time to wash and chop up the parsley.
When the food is almost ready to serve (not much water left in the pan, and the lentils are almost soft, but still with a bit of a bite), add the parsley and 1 tbsp olive oil and stir through. Then serve.
Chicken thighs - this recipe makes them lovely and sticky and with a great accompaniment. It's rare that I cook chicken thighs in a way that I like, so I'm particularly impressed by this one - we liked it a lot. Takes 1 hour, serves 2.
Preheat the oven to 220 C. Put a tablespoon or two of oil in a roasting tin, and rub the chicken thighs in the oil to get it all over, then leave the chicken thighs skin-up. Put this in the oven. Cook it for 45 minutes, turning the temperature down to 190 after the first 15 minutes and pouring the wine over them. Baste the chicken occasionally with the juices in the pan. After the full 45 minutes just turn the oven off and leave the chicken inside to rest.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Put the rice in a pan which has a tight-fitting lid, add the zest of 1/2 the lemon. Chop the coconut block finely and add it to the pan too. Put the pan on the heat, add just enough boiling water to cover plus a bit more, and put the lid on. Bring it all to the boil, stir, and then turn the heat right down to its lowest setting, to sit gently cooking with the lid on for 30 minutes. You can probably even turn the heat off, in the second half, to prevent burning/sticking.
Once the rice is underway, make the salsa. Rinse the spring onions, tomatoes and chilli. Chop the spring onions and tomatoes into small dice. Remove the seeds from the chilli, and chop the flesh finely. Put all of this into a bowl, and juice the lemon, then add the lemon juice to the bowl and stir all around. Let this sit and soak while the other things cook, so the lemon juice has a chance to soften things.
Fish and chorizo is a lovely combination and this stew with pasta shells was simple but rich. Serves 2-3, takes about 40 minutes.
Chop the spring onions up. Keep the whiter bits separate from the green leafy bits. Also chop the chorizo into little bite-sized pieces.
In a deep pan that has a well-fitting lid, warm up some marge/oil and start the white bits of the spring onion frying gently. Once the chorizo is chopped up add that too.
Once the chorizo and spring onion have softened a bit nicely, add the fish pie mix to the pot and stir it around. Add the green bits from the spring onions, and the lemon zest, then enough boiling water to only just cover. Bring to the boil, put the lid on, turn the heat right down and let it simmer very gently for 25-35 minutes.
Halfway through the stew's bubbling time, get the pasta going. Half-cook it (parboil it) for 5 minutes in boiling water, then drain it and add it into the stew.
Just near the end, wash and chop up the parsley, add it into the pot, and stir everything around. Give it another minute or two for the parsley to get involved, then serve.
A lovely warming autumn dish. You'll need a casserole dish big enough that the leeks (chopped into a couple of pieces each) can all sit flat. Serves two as a main course (or 3--4 as a side).
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Melt the marge, half each in two separate pans. One of them will be for making the white sauce. Put the lardons into the other one, on a low heat, just so they warm up and fry a tiny bit and flavour the marge.
Wash the leeks and prepare them for your casserole dish. Chop them into two or three pieces, as needed, and tile them into the bottom of the casserole dish so they form a single layer.
In the other pan, on a medium heat, start to make the white sauce. Sprinkle about half of the flour into the pan, and whisk it until smooth. The lardons in the other pan should have had a few minutes to warm up - turn the heat off for them, and pour the juices from the pan into the one where you're making the sauce. The idea is to get some of the bacony flavour into the sauce.
Put the lardons to one side. Put the rest of the flour into the sauce pan, and whisk again until smooth. Now continue to cook this "roux" for a couple of minutes, so the flour is cooked, then gradually add the milk (with whisking) and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
Now assemble. You've already got the leeks in the bottom of the casserole dish; sprinkle the lardons over them, then gently pour the sauce evenly over. Finally crumble the feta on top. Cook in the preheated oven for about 40--45 minutes, until nicely browned on top. Serve with salad.
This is a nice way to use pumpkin, a spicy and warming pumpkin pasta dish. These quantities serve 2; takes about 45 minutes in total, with some spare time in the middle.
Put the oven on hot, about 210--220 C. Peel and deseed the pumpkin, and slice it into slices about 1/2 cm thick and 4 or 5 cm long - no need to be exact, but we want thinnish pieces. Chop the chilli up into rings too.
In a roasting tin, put a good glug of olive oil, then the pumpkin and chilli. Sprinkle over the paprika and turmeric, then toss to mix. Put this in the oven and let it roast for about 40 minutes, preparing the aubergine and pasta in the mean time.
The aubergine needs to be cut into pieces of similar size and shape to the pumpkin. The tomatoes, leave them whole but cut out the stalky bit. Halfway through the pumpkin's cooking time, add the aubergine, another glug of olive oil, toss briefly to mix, and sit the tomatoes in the middle somewhere, then put it all back in the oven.
Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions (e.g. boil for 15 minutes). Drain it, and get the other stuff out of the oven. In the pan that you used for the pasta (or a new pan), put the two roasted tomatoes and bash them with a serving spoon so they fall apart and become a nice lumpy paste. Add the pasta to them and mix. Then add the other roast vegetables, and mix all together, but gently this time so you don't mush the veg.
Serve with some parmesan perhaps.
This is a tasty hotpot with that classic pork-and-apple combo. Philippa forced me to write this recipe down because she liked it so much, which is impressive since she's not into pork!
Serves 4 and takes about 45 minutes, plus some extra time at first (optionalish) to soak the lentils.
Soak the lentils in a bowl of water for about an hour, then drain them.
Start the oven pre-heating to about 180°C.
In a fairly large pan heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Peel and dice the onion and the garlic. Add the onion to the pan and start it frying, adding the garlic after a couple of minutes. Stir and fry for a couple of minutes to soften.
Add the pork mince and stir it in, letting it take a bit of colour as it fries. Add the lentils too, and stir them in. Add the red wine, and cook it for a couple of minutes to reduce, then add the mustard powder, and enough hot water to only just cover it all.
Let that simmer a bit while you prepare the potatoes. No need to peel them; slice them very thinly, using the mandolin part of your grater, or just slice them thinly with a knife if you haven't got one. Also, chop the courgette into chunky slices.
Now take a big ceramic pot or similar (about 20cm diameter, for example; no lid needed) and assemble the hotpot. Put half of the pork mixture into the pot, then sprinkle the courgette pieces over, then add the rest of the pork mixture. Layer the potato slices on top to make a covering, then sprinkle a good dose of olive oil over the top.
Put the hotpot in the oven and bake for 30--40 minutes, until the top is getting nicely crispy.
When the hotpot is almost ready, heat up some oil in a frying pan, slice the apple, and fry the slices hot for about five minutes (turning half-way) so that they caramelise. Serve up the hotpot with the fried apple slices on the side.
Lamb and lentils is a lovely combination, and in Britain at least it's what you normally get in a dhansak curry. This recipe is not an official dhansak, just something I put together. Serves 2, takes 1.5 hours (most of the time you don't have to be there though).
Optionally (but recommended), soak the lentils in water for at least an hour before you start, then drain them.
Peel and dice the onion, and separately the garlic, fairly small.
Heat up a wok (or other large pan, one that has a lid) to medium-hot. Add a little oil to the pan, and add the cumin and cinnamon. Shuffle it around a bit while the spices fry. When they start popping, add the onion and stir.
Let the onion fry to a bit of a golden colour (a couple of minutes), then add the lamb, cut into big bitesize pieces. Stir and fry, letting the lamb get a good bit of colour on it, for a few minutes.
Add the lentils, garlic, turmeric, bay/lime leaf and chilli, then enough water to cover it. Stir it up to get it mixed, bringing to the boil, then cover the pan, turn the heat right down to the lowest setting, and leave it to simmer gently for about an hour.
About half to three-quarters of the way through the simmering time, juice the lemon and add that to the pot. If the mixture is looking a bit too liquid, leave the lid off for the end of the cooking time. There's no need to be exact with the cooking time - the lentils and the lamb both need at least, say, 45 minutes, and anywhere between an hour and an hour and a half is good.
Near the end, sprinkle the garam masala over and mix it in.
This aubergine casserole was made extra nice by making a topping out of some leftover stuffing we had in the fridge. Serves 2, takes about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Get a wide frying pan with a bit of depth, warm it up on the hob with some olive oil in.
Chop the aubergine into half, then slice (about 1cm slices), and start them frying in the hot pan. After a couple of minutes, turn them over - they'll have sucked up a lot of oil, so many be add some more. Slice the chilli up and add it to the pan.
After a couple more minutes of frying, add the tinned tomatoes. Let the mixture bubble down a bit while you drain the beans, and rinse the parsley and chop it up finely-ish.
Add the beans and parsley to the pan. Stir. Let the mixture bubble for another couple of minutes.
Now, transfer the whole mixture to a deepish ceramic pot. Crumble the stuffing over the top (it doesn't need to form a "complete" crust, just a topping) and pour another good slug of olive oil over the top. Cook in the hot oven (uncovered) for 20 or 25 minutes, until it's developed a nice crustiness.
This is basically a dhal, but the clear lemon+chilli flavour makes it a bit different from the curry flavour when you make a dhal usually. If you're not comfortable with hot chilli, reduce the amounts in here. Serves 2.
Heat some oil in a non-stick saucepan which has a lid. Chuck the cumin seeds in and let them fry quickly until they darken and smell fragrant. Add the diced onion and the chilli, stir briefly, and add the garlic paste and the carrot.
Add the lentils, stir, then add enough boiling water to cover and give maybe another half-to-one centimetre depth of covering. Chop the lemon in half, squeeze out its juice and add it to the pan.
Stir. Put the lid on the pan, turn the heat right down, and let it bubble gently for about half an hour. Stir it at some point during this time.
When it's ready it should be pretty dry - it will be in danger of sticking to the pan, which is why I sid use a non-stick pan. Stir it round, sprinkle in the fresh parsley and maybe a bit of garam masala too.
Serve with a couple of hot chapattis per person.
Unusual combination but surprisingly delicious: sausage, beetroot, mint. This is a straightforward stew but these robust flavours make it a fab one-pot meal. Takes about an hour (but you have loads of spare time once it's started cooking), serves 3.
In a big deep pan that has a lid, heat up two tablespoons of olive oil on a medium heat. Bung in the sausages and get them frying. The sausages should start to brown nicely fairly quickly.
Put the kettle on. Peel the potatoes and chop them into big chunks. Stir the sausages occasionally while you're doing this, but don't worry too much. Peel and chop up the garlic and add that to the sausages, stirring around.
Add the potatoes to the pan, then add enough boiling water to just cover. Add the thyme. Stir all around a bit, then put the lid on, turn the heat down, and leave it to bubble gently for 30 minutes.
Take the pack of cooked beetroot, open it, pour any spare beetroot juice into the pan, chop the beetroot roughly into big chunks and add it to the pan. Wash the mint leaves then tear them up roughly and throw them into the pan too. Stir all around (some of the sausages might break, don't worry), turn the heat up a bit, and let this all bubble for another 15 minutes. Add a bit of black pepper if you like.
By the end the potatoes should be very soft and starting to thicken the mixture up a bit - they should pretty much collapse when you prod them with your serving spoon. Dish it up.
We're moving house soon, so this is a strange cake made by using up some ingredients that we had loitering around in the cupboard. This turned out as a nice but crumbly scone-like cake - Philippa liked it enough that she asked me to write it down, even though it was a weird made-up thing. So here you go! (Warning: the measurements are entirely guessed, I didn't weigh anything - treat them as rough ratios.)
Grease a 20cm cake tin.
Chop the apricots into small pieces, and chop the peaches into large rough chunks (leaving out the stone, of course). Put these fruit in a bowl, as well as the juice and rind of the 1/2 lime. Add a splash of apple juice and the limoncello, and half of the vanilla essence.
Sieve together the rice flour, cornflour, ground almond, and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar with the other half of the vanilla essence. You want to cream it with a fork for about 5 minutes until it's thoroughly mixed and light-coloured, and give it a bit more mixing for luck. Then cream the eggs into the mixture one-by-one (adding a tiny bit of the flour mix each time, this apparently helps stop it separating). Add the milk too.
Add the flour mixture to this lot, and mix it in with a big metal spoon. Then add the fruit mixture and mix it in, but don't mix too much or the air'll go out of it.
Bake in a preheated oven at 170ºC for approx 40 minutes. As usual, it's ready when you put a knife in the middle and it comes out clean. Take the cake out of the tin and let it cool on a wire cake stand.
Lovely one pot dish that puts chorizo and sweet potatoes together like they should be. Don't use thin-sliced chorizo for this, it needs to be in meaty little chunks. Oh and don't add any salt either, the chorizo brings lots of saltiness to the sauce. Serves 2, takes about 40 to 45 mins.
Dice the onion and start it frying gently with a good slug of olive oil, in a large deep pan for which you have a lid. While the onion is softening, chop the chorizo into rough little pieces (roughly 1cm square but no need to be accurate), then add it to the onion. Similarly, slice the chilli finely and throw that in. Shuffle the stuff around a bit and put the lid on, let it continue to sweat a bit, frying gently with the lid on.
Wash and peel the potatoes and chop them into medium chunks, then add them to the mixture and stir. Turn the heat up to medium, add the tinned tomatoes and stir, then let the mixture come back up to temperature (i.e. the tomatoes need to heat up). Then add the wine and mix it in. Add a bit of black pepper if you like.
Let the mixture bubble gently for 30 minutes. (The time is needed for softening the potatoes but also for getting the chorizo to melt a bit and soften up.) At some point, check and see if it needs a little bit of boiling water to add a bit more liquid.
Just before serving, wash the parsley and stir it through the mixture.
A semi-improvised and non-traditional spinach+paneer curry that came out particularly well - the lime flavour zings the top of it nicely. Makes 2 big portions; takes about 20 minutes.
In a good-sized wok, heat up some oil and add the cumin seeds. Swirl them around and then add the onion and coriander. Let this fry for 2 or 3 minutes (while you chop the garlic maybe) then add the garlic and mix it all around. Let this fry for 2 or 3 minutes more until the onion is nice and soft and then add the chopped tomatoes. Give this a stir then let it simmer gently for 5 minutes or so while you do the next bit.
Heat about 2mm of oil in a frying pan. Chop the paneer into bite-sized cubes. Put the flour and 2 tbsp garam on a plate, then toss the paneer around in it to coat. Then fry the paneer in the hot pan, giving it maybe 2 or 3 minutes before turning it all over and giving it 2 or 3 minutes more. It should fry to a nutty sort of brown colour.
While the paneer is frying, add the juice and zest of the 1/2 lime to the tomato mixture. Tip the paneer onto a plate with a piece of kitchen roll on (to drain some of the oil off). Pile the spinach into the wok - you'll need to add a large volume, cos it shrinks as it cooks - and stir it in, then add the paneer and stir that in too. Let it cook together for a minute or so.
Serve it all with the 1 tsp garam sprinkled over at the last minute, with some alfalfa on top, and warm chapatis.
This is a fairly straightforward mixture of oriental flavours which complements a nice piece of fish really well. Serves two.
Spread the flour out on a plate and generously salt+pepper it. Then coat the fish fillet in it, and leave it there for now. Wash the lettuce.
Get a boiling pan of water and cook the noodles until just done (3 or 4 minutes). While that's happening, warm up a wok or frying pan to a hot heat with a dab of oil, and also warm up a frying pan to medium-hot with a good covering of oil.
Drain the noodles in a sieve. Let them dry off while you slice the garlic and stir-fry it in the wok for a minute of two. Then add the noodles and mix it in, still stir frying.
Chop the lettuce up, and put the tougher stalkier half of the bits in the wok. Stir. Chop the lime in two and squeeze one half into the wok. Stir fry briefly then take it off the heat while you fry the fish.
Put the fish fillets gently into the other pan and fry them for 3 or 4 minutes either side. While waiting for the fish to finish, spoon the noodles onto two plates as well as the lettuce. Sprinkle a little soy sauce over.
When the fish is done, drain it on some kitchen roll briefly before putting it on the plates. Then squeeze the remaining lime over everything.
Philippa is pretty darn good at cheesecake, and this is one of the best - I suggested the honey and ginger combination and she used it to make a fab cheesecake (based originally on her mum's recipe I think). It was semi-improvised so this recipe is a reconstruction...
It uses quark which I hadn't really heard of until recently, but it's the secret to amazing germanic-style cheesecake. It's a bit like cream cheese but it's not. Make a fab cheesecake!
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a baking tin (7" diameter maybe) with greaseproof paper.
Bash the ginger biscuits up into dust (e.g. put them in a bag and hit them with a rolling pin). Melt the margarine in a pan and mix the crushed biscuits into it, then put the mixture into the lined baking tin. Spread it around to make a smooth even base and press it down - the aim is to make the base layer for the cheesecake.
Bake this base in the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes while mixing the other ingredients up:
Beat the eggs briefly. (Or if you have the patience, separate the eggs and beat just the whites, before adding the yolks back.)
Add the quark, sugar, almonds, honey and ginger to the quark. Mix it all together. Take the tin out of the oven, pour the mixture on top, and return it to the oven to bake for about 50-60 minutes. When it's ready it will brown a little on top and won't wobble much when you nudge it. Take it out and let it cool completely before serving.
I worked out these estimates, just to see if this counts as a relatively 'healthy' cheesecake:
1 slice (out of about 10 slices per cake) contains about 8.4g fat (of which 1.6g saturates, 4g monounsturates, 2.3g polyunsaturates), 24.9g carb, 657 kJ (157 kcal) energy, 0.2g salt, 0.8g fibre.
Percentagewise by weight this is roughly 9.8% fat (1.9% saturates, 4.8% monounsaturates, 2.7% polyunsaturates).
Plum ketchup is a great autumn recipe. I'm publishing it now (spring) cos I made up a big batch of plum ketchup to make christmas presents this year - and I think it went down pretty well... I think it's well nice, at least! Goes especially well on sausages or fish.
Put tomatoes, plums and onions in a large saucepan with the spices. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the onion is soft. (Don't be tempted to add water, the fruit+veg will start to produce enough liquid after a few minutes.)
Cool the mixture for 10 minutes, then blend or process it until smooth. (Some would remove the spices before blending but I don't.) Then strain through a sieve back into the pan.
Add remaining ingredients, stir over a gentle heat (do not boil) until the sugar dissolves. Simmer uncovered until the mixture thickens to the right consistency (about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally).
Pour the hot ketchup into hot sterilised bottles or jars, and seal while hot.
(This is based on a standard tomato ketchup recipe, but with half the tomatoes replaced by plums, and some cinnamon added to complement the plum flavour.)
The shop had some nice-looking mackerel fillets on offer today so here's how I cooked it - and it was blimmin nice! The combination was deliberately made with the vinegar and onion to balance against the oily mackerel and that worked just great. Serves 2, takes 10 minutes.
Turn the grill on to a medium setting, and put a frying pan on a medium heat.
Chop the onion and start it frying in a good slug of olive oil in the pan. Let it soften while you put the makerel fillets and the tomato (chopped in half) onto some greased foil and then under the grill. The mackerel takes about 10 minutes - put it skin-side down at first then turn it half-way through.
Meanwhile, once the onions have softened a bit, add the vinegar, stir, and turn the heat down to very low so the onions can stew gently.
Mix the lemon zest into the cous cous in a bowl, add boiling water to cover, and put a lid on. Let it stand for about five minutes until everything's just about ready. Then stir the cous cous with a fork before serving it all up.
This is an easy quick salad for one:
I was challenged this evening with two ingredients: a stick of lemongrass and a box of pollack (white fish). So I've never tried it before, but it turns out that a tom-yum style soup is actually quite easy. I didn't have all the posh ingredients that I should have done (e.g. fish sauce) but we do have a bag of lime leaves in the cupboard, and the lime leaves give a really nice flavour.
It's a one-pot meal if you stick some noodles in the pot as well - here's what I did (serves 2):
(By the way - if you're not into hot flavours, reduce the amounts of the chilli and the ginger.)
Finely chop the ginger. Bash the lemongrass up and down with the butt of your chopping-knife. This helps release the flavour.
Put the water in a pan and bring it to the boil. Put in the lemongrass, lime leaves, chilli flakes, ginger and sugar, then turn the heat right down and let the mixture sit warming gently for 10 minutes to infuse.
Meanwhile, wash the button mushrooms, and chop the pollack into big bite-size pieces. Add the pollack to the pan, and turn up the heat. (When you add the fish it cools everything down, so you need to bring it back up a bit.) Add the mushrooms too, and when the water's bubbling again, turn the heat back down to a low setting.
Put the noodles into the broth (push them to the bottom so they'll soak nicely). Now let everything cook gently for about 6 or 7 minutes.
I haven't had kedgeree for ages, but somehow it felt like the right thing for a hot summer evening's teatime yesterday. This was partly based on memories of my mum's kedgeree and partly on some online recipes. Serves 3 or 4 people.
In a pan, heat up some oil. Chop the onion up and add it to the pan, with the curry powder. Fry the onion gently until softened, then pile the rice on top. Stir it all around, then add boiling water to come about half a centimetre above the top of the rice. Bring to the boil, stir once, then put the lid on and turn the heat right down. You'll be leaving this for about 25 minutes to cook gently, adding the frozen peas in the last five minutes so that they warm up.
In the meantime, hard-boil the eggs. (I put them in a pan of boiling water, took them off the heat, left them for 12 minutes to cook, then plunged them into cold water to stop them cooking.) Give them time to cool down a bit.
Break the mackerel into flakes, trying to pick out any noticeable bones as you do so.
When the rice+onions+peas is done, stir it with a fork to fluff the rice up. Peel and quarter the eggs, then gently mix the mackerel and eggs into the mixture.
In York I bought a really good book about Northern English food - From Eccles Cake to Hawkshead Wig: A Celebration of Northern Food - and read about "Ormskirk gingerbread". Never heard of it before (nor been to Ormskirk) but it sounded like a good recipe so I made some for the dorks at dorksnow and they went down very well.
By the way, I added brazil nuts to the recipe, which is totally and utterly non-traditional but I fancied it. You can include them or leave them out - I've done both ways, both are good, but I recommend adding the brazil nuts.
Cream the marge and sugar together with a fork. Add the golden syrup too.
Sift the flour and ginger and cinnamon in. Be generous with the ginger, and stingy with the cinnamon - you don't want the cinnamon to be noticeable.
Also add the brazil nuts. It's OK if there are some larger bits of brazil nut, that adds to the texture.
Mix it all together well, then shape with your hands into flat rounds, say roughly about 1cm thick and 6cm across.
Lay them out on a floured baking tray and bake at 170ºC for 25 or 30 minutes, until they just turn a baked colour. They'll burn easily so don't overdo them. Apparently a "falling heat" is a good way of doing them: I tried both ways, a constant temperature the whole time, or turning the oven off halfway through, didn't notice much difference.
Put them on a wire rack to cool. (This stage is important cos that's when they firm up and get that nice crunchy texture on the outside, while still being cakey in the centre.)
This made 18 nice big biscuits when I did it.
I was searching around for a decent sticky toffee pudding recipe to add to the Wikibooks UK Cookbook. Ended up making this recipe today, based on recipes I read online. It was dead nice.
Note: Finely chopping the dates helps make a really gooey cake - but some people prefer to chop the dates roughly, so that they're more obvious in the finished pudding.
For the cake
For the toffee sauce
Serve with cream, custard, or ice-cream.
A couple of days ago I made the Hairy Bakers' brown ale bread. It's pretty nice (but I recommend you only use half as much cheese as they do!).
It's the kind of bread that goes best with a nice light soup so here's what I made, it's nice (serves 2 or 3):
Warm up the veg oil and marge in a big pan, while you chop up the onion. Add the onion to the pan and leave it for a few minutes on a low heat, to soften - don't let it brown. Peel and chop the garlic and add that half-way through.
Add the cardamom pod and the fennel seeds to the pan and stir it all around. Rinse and roughly chop the cabbage then add it to the pan. Also add the brown ale and hot water, just enough to almost cover everything.
Bring it to the boil, put the lid on and turn down to a very low heat. Let it bubble for 15-20 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat, add the frozen peas, and stir it all around. The frozen peas will have lowered the temperature enough to be safe for the blender. Put about three-quarters of the mixture into the blender and blend it until nice and smooth (won't take long). Return this all to the pan - so you should have the smooth liquid combined with the remaining lumpy bits - that makes a nice texture.
If necessary, put it back on the heat to warm it up slightly, before serving with brown ale bread and butter.
I would never make gnocchi myself (tried it once, it took hours and wasn't worth the effort), but you can get packets in the supermarket which take literally 2 minutes to boil so it's really handy. Normally we make them with a tomatoey sauce (like a pasta sauce for example) but here's a nice light summery way to do them. Serves 2 and takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.
Warm up some oil in a pan. Slice the onion as finely as you can and add it to the pan. While it fries for 3 or 4 minutes (stir occasionally), chop the tomatoes into dice. Add the tomatoes and the wine to the pan. Once this starts bubbling, let it bubble for a minute or two before turning the heat right down to minimum and putting a lid on. Let it cook gently for about 5 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking prepare the gnocchi according to the pack. When they're ready, drain them and stir them into the sauce. Serve it all with a few salad leaves on the side.
This is really easy to make, given how posh it looks coming out of the oven. Serves 2 or 3 people for lunch. It's a pastry-less quiche which makes it much simpler to do, and a bit healthier too probably.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, and grease a metal baking tin of some sort whose edges go up at least one inch. (Or you could use a ceramic pot, probably wise to preheat that in the oven if so.)
Warm some marge/butter up in a pan and gently fry the red onion, with the rosemary sprinkled on top, stirring occasionally. It'll take about 10 minutes to soften nicely, so while that's doing, steam the asparagus: chop it into 3--5cm pieces (use the whole asparagus except for the hard bit right at the base) then put it in a sieve and suspend over boiling water for 5 minutes. Then run some cold water over the asparagus to stop them overcooking, and set to one side.
Whisk up the eggs, milk, salt & pepper, and parmesan cheese, whisking for about 3 or 4 minutes so there's plenty of air in the mixture. Then tip the onions into this mixture, and pour the mixture into your baking tin. Then put the asparagus in/on the top of the mixture, spreading them out in a nice even layer.
Bake at 180ºC for 25 to 30 minutes until it's looking nicely coloured on top. I served it with spinach & tomato salad, plus bread & butter.
You can put anything in a stew but here's a combination that turned out nicely. It's cooked slowly (you ignore it for about 2 hours), which means that the starch from the potatoes thickens the broth up nicely, and also that the flavours from the leek/apricot/etc all melt together nicely. That's why the stew doesn't really need any flour or stock.
Warm up a couple of tablespoons of veg oil in a large deep pan on a medium heat. Remove the green bit from the leek and save it (added later), then finely slice the white bit into lots of rings. Add the rings to the pan and stir them round. Let this fry a little bit while you peel & slice the garlic and add it. Stir around and let fry for a couple of minutes until starting to soften.
Add the diced beef to the pan and stir again. Let it fry for a minute or so while occasionally stirring, then leave it to cook a bit more while you do the potatoes. Peel the potatoes and chop them into bitesize chunks about the same size as the pieces of beef. Add them to the pan. Chop the apricots in half and add them to the pan too.
Then add enough boiling water to cover everything, and turn the heat up. You can add the marrow now or you can wait for an hour or so if you'd prefer to avoid it going too mushy. Either way, you just chop it into large pieces (a bit bigger than the potato pieces) and add it to the stew.
When the stew is bubbling nicely, put a lid on and turn the heat right down as far as it'll go. After a couple of minutes you can tell by feel/sound that there's still some bubbling going on in there despite the low heat. Leave this to bubble on its own for two hours.
Optionally, half an hour before serving, take the green bits of the leek, get rid of any manky bits, and slice it all up, then add it to the pan and give it all a stir.
More beetroot fun, this time using one of those sealed packs of cooked beetroot rather than raw beetroot (much quicker to cook).
This soup is a delicious thick soup, filling and with a nice warm sweetness from the spices and the beetroot. (The spices are important for the flavour, by the way.) Serves 2 to 4, takes about half an hour but only 10 minutes of work.
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan, and start the onion frying. Add the cumin and turmeric. Chop the garlic and add that too, and stir and fry for a few minutes until it all smells softened and pleasant.
Add the uncooked rice and stir it in briefly just to let it catch some of the flavours.
Open the bag of cooked beetroot. Put the liquid into the pan if there is any, and chop up the cooked beetroot and add it to the pan too. Add boiling water to cover the contents by at least a centimetre or so. Stir it around.
Now put it all in a blender and whizz it up. (Or take it off the heat and use a hand-blender.) The rice will still be hard and it will break into small pieces rather than being completely whizzed, but try to get only just to the point where the beetroot and onion pieces are liquidised.
Return to the heat and bring it up to a boil. Then turn the heat down, put a lid half-on and let it bubble gently for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.
Turn off the heat, stir in a tablespoon or two of plain yoghurt (optionally) and serve.
Beetroot is in season so I tried cooking with beetroot this week. (Fresh, I mean, not cooked/pickled.) It's tricky cos it can be rock-hard if you cook it as if it was potato or something. Just now I found a nice trick: you can treat it as if it was onion and use it as the basis of a stew. Frying it in olive oil at the start softens it nicely and flavours it nicely too; then if you make a wine/tomato stew on top of it, the slight acidity of the wine/tomato complements it nicely.
This recipe serves 2 and takes about 40 minutes all included. If you want more protein in it, adding beef (browned first) or chick-peas, after the garlic, would work really well with the flavours.
Warm a deep pan with the olive oil in. Chop the stalks off the beetroot, then peel them (using a knife is probably easier than a peeler, since beetroots are a bit soft). Chop them into thin slices (2mm thick?), then chop the slices into matchsticks. Put these into the pan and allow the beetroot to fry gently for 5 mins or so. In the meantime, peel and slice the garlic, and wash the cauliflower and cut it into big bitesize pieces.
Add the garlic to the pan and stir around. Also add the cauliflower. Let these fry for a minute or two until the garlic has softened. (If adding beef/chickpeas, do it at this point.) Add the chopped tomatoes and enough hot water to cover the cauliflower bits, and bring it to the boil. Add the wine, stir things up, and continue to boil for a minute or so (to let the alcohol boil off the wine).
Put the lid on and let the stew bubble gently for 25-30 minutes. Serve with bread and butter.
Matt if you're reading, you might want to avert your eyes... the onions might offend.
This was a surprisingly nice and easy lunch just now:
In a frying pan or wok, heat a little oil and fry the diced onion on a medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes until starting to soften. Break the egg into the middle of the pan. Break the yolk, but you don't need to stir it all in. Using a spatula, draw the egg/onion into a neat-ish circle towards the middle of your pan (about the same size as your bread!). Sprinkle a little bit of black pepper on top, and turn down the heat a tiny bit. Let this cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the egg is set all the way through. (The onion will caramelise a bit.)
Butter your bread slices and put a layer of spinach leaves on one. When the egg/onion is ready slide it out of the pan, on top of the spinach. Let it sit for a few seconds (to let the steam escape) before putting the other slice on top. Nice sandwich.
A nice gently-cooked stew makes stewing fillet (like this nice lamb neck fillet we bought) turn all melty and delicious. (There's no need to cut the lamb into small pieces - letting a few nice large pieces stew away is the best way to do this. As long as there's at least one piece each!) And this is a very nice one-pot meal.
I used quinoa because Philippa bought it as an experiment, but you could use rice in exactly the same way. This takes a while on the hob but it's easy to do. Serves 2.
Dice the onion finely. Warm a large pan with some vegetable oil in, and add the onion. While the onion is gently softening, peel the carrots and squash and chop them into bite-size pieces.
Move the onions to one side and put the lamb into the pan too. Let the lamb take the oil for 30 seconds or so, then stir the lamb and onions together for a further 30 seconds. Add the carrot and squash, then add the cinnamon, basil and rosemary. Pour boiling water into the pan so that it well covers everything. Mix everything up.
Once everything's bubbling nicely, put the lid on and turn the heat right down. Now leave the pan bubbling very gently for about an hour and a half. The objective here is to let the lamb start to melt and break down, and at the same time to let the vegetables cook gently without them breaking down into mush. That's why we use a very gentle heat for a long time.
After the hour and a half, add the quinoa to the pan and gently mix it into the stew. Turn the heat up a little so that the stew can carry on bubbling without the lid on, letting a little of the liquid evaporate away. Let the stew cook for another 20 or 30 minutes.
This makes a really delicious supper to have with buttered crusty bread, and it's really easy. Serves 2 or 3 depending how hungry you are.
First things first: after chopping the feta into cubes you must dry it off so it will grill properly. Put the cubes onto a plate with a piece of kitchen paper on, and put another piece of kitchen paper on top.
Turn your grill on to its highest setting so that it can preheat while you do the next bit.
Put the mushroom pieces and courgette slices into a bowl, sprinkle the oil on top and mix everything around to get things covered well. The mushrooms will absorb the oil quite quickly so you won't end up with a very "wet" mixture.
On a baking tray with some tinfoil on, spread the feta and the courgette and the mushroom out fairly evenly. Put all this under the grill, as close to the grill as possible (about an inch away, no more). You won't need to turn the pieces over or anything like that, but watch everything very closely. It'll take about 3 or 4 minutes for the feta cheese to brown nicely on top and for the other things to start to cook.
As soon as the feta is nicely browned on top, serve everything straight away - it'll cool down quickly and it's best when the feta is still melty inside and everything's piping hot.
Slow-cooking is always the best way to cook meat. Here's a lovely and easy way to slow-cook chicken with bright fresh flavours. Takes less than half an hour to prepare, but with a two-hour gap in the middle while the chicken cooks.
Serves two, but should multiply up easily.
Preheat the oven to 150ÂºC. Warm up the oil in a frying pan. Dice the onion and add it to the pan, stirring it around a bit. While it softens, chop the garlic finely and add it, then add the chilli flakes, pepper, and mango pieces. Stir the mixture and let it all soften. After about five minutes turn the heat off and let the mixture cool slightly.
Now bundle the chicken up. On a baking tray place a large sheet of tin foil. Place half of the marinade mixture in the middle of the foil, and spread it out a bit, they lay the two chicken breasts on top. Pour the remaining marinade mixture on top of the chicken pieces, and fold the tinfoil in to make a loose parcel. (It should be loose so that steam can circulate.) Wrap the whole lot up in a second large piece of foil, to ensure it's wrapped up securely (but still loose).
Put the chicken bundle in the oven. It should cook at 150ÂºC for an hour, then turn it down to 110ÂºC and leave it for another hour or hour-and-a-half (it's up to you).
When you're almost ready to eat, get a frying pan hot with more oil, and slice the courgette and the ginger. Stir-fry the courgette and ginger quickly. Drain the noodles and add them to the frying pan, then mix it all together and squeeze the lime juice over it. Mix it up again, and serve.
We buy packets of ready-made "gnocchi" (italian potato dumplings) because they're really quick to cook and they're nice. I made gnocchi from scratch once and it took hours and I got grated potato all over the kitchen. It wasn't pretty. These ready-made ones are really handy to have in the cupboard.
What you need, though, is to know how to make a very quick sauce to go with them. This evening I managed to do this one in pretty much 7 or 8 minutes because we were in a rush - and it's really nice!
These amounts are to serve two.
Start a large kettle of water boiling; and put a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat.
Rinse the tomatoes and chop them into slices. Put them into the saucepan. They'll immediately start to soften. Put the tsp of sugar on top of them (don't stir yet).
Chop the spinach roughly (it'll take a couple of minutes, giving the tomatoes time to cook) and put it into the saucepan on top of the spinach and tomato. Stir together and leave it to continue cooking.
The packets of gnocchi that we buy take about 2-3 minutes to boil: start them going now, in a separate pan, using the boiling water etc.
Put the pesto into the saucepan with the tomatoes etc. Mix it all together, and turn the heat right down to its lowest setting.
When the gnocchi are ready, drain them. Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil over them, then mix them in with the sauce, and serve.
I got Philippa an ice-cream-making-ball for Christmas, so occasionally we get ice and salt all over the kitchen and try and make some ice cream. Here's a really nice one that we made just this weekend:
You just need to squish all the ingredients together and then freeze them, in an ice-cream maker or probably it'd work in the freezer - just stir it every 20 minutes or so, and after an hour at most it'll be frozen.
You need to squish the berries so that they burst at least a little bit and so that some of their flavour comes out into the yoghurt. If you really want them squished, the best way is to mash the sugar and the berries together, before adding the yoghurt. But it's nice not to pulverise them completely.
The slightly tart blueberries and the yoghurt make a really nice flavour together.
Yet another way to make a nice pork stew, that Philippa likes a lot even though she claims not to like pork. Perhaps it's the lovely dumplings we had with ours:
In a large saucepan with a lid, warm up the oil and start the onions gently frying. Add the garlic after a couple of minutes.
Chop the pork into good-sized chunks and add it to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and stir the pork around for a minute or so so it gets evenly coloured.
Add the red wine and stir around a bit more, then add the vegetables (inc potatoes if using), the stock powder, and enough water to cover everything with a good centimetre to spare. Put the lid on, and when the stew starts to bubble turn the heat right down.
If you're making dumplings then make them up now and add them into the top of the pan. The stew can be given 30-60 minutes to bubble gently before the pork is nice and tender. Don't overheat things or the meat might not come out quite as nice.
Really nice ratatouille is made with the different vegetables done separately, then combined. Here's an easy way to do it, by roasting them so they don't all mush together. This goes really nicely with oven chips and serves 2.
Preheat an oven to very hot - 220 or 230ÂºC.
Toss the vegetables in the 5 tbsp olive oil, in a big mixing bowl. Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over and mix around. Spread them onto a baking tray and put in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, until nicely roasted.
Meanwhile, warm up a saucepan (large enough to hold everything) with the 1 tbsp of olive oil. Chop the tomatoes up and add them. Turn the heat down very low and let the tomatoes cook gently for ten minutes (or however long is left before the veg are ready).
Take the vegetables out of the oven and dump them all into the saucepan. Also add the basil leaves. Mix everything around and leave it on the low heat for a couple of minutes while you get the chips out (or whatever else you want).
Peperami and basil go together surprisingly well. You might not expect it, but the two flavours complement each other quite nicely. Shame they put MSG in peperami, but at least they also put "108% pork" into it (as stated on the ingredients). These amounts serve one.
Put spaghetti into boiling water (I prefer to break it in half as I put it in the pan). Boil for ten minutes until just-about-almost cooked.
Meanwhile, chop the peperami into little pieces. Wash the basil leaves. Just before the spaghetti is ready chop the basil into little pieces too.
Drain the spaghetti, and return it to the pan (not on the heat). Mix the olive oil through the spaghetti, then do the same for the peperami and the basil. Serve immediately.
My mum makes the best carrot, date, and walnut cake. It's very soft and moist with a dark sweetness (from the dark sugar) that goes really well with the other flavours - nothing like the flouncy light carrot-cake-with-lemon-icing that seems to be standard. Here's the recipe, based on a recipe in a book but completely changed. It's a very easy recipe. But despite that, I can't make it quite as good as my mum does. More practice needed:
Line an 18cm (7 inch) round cake tin with greased greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 180ÂºC (350ÂºF, gas mark 4).
Put the sugar into a mixing bowl and gradually whisk in the oil, then whisk the eggs in one at a time (easier to get them mixed in smoothly that way). Add the flour and cinnamon and stir the mixture well, beating out lumps to make the mixture as smooth as you can. Add the carrots, nuts, and dates, and mix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, until the cake is risen and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven, leave to stand in the tin for 3 minutes, then turn out onto a wire tray, peel off the paper and leave to cool.
Philippa likes making cake, but we had no eggs, so she found a cake recipe which works without eggs. And, remarkably, it's just like normal cake! Proper cakey consistency and everything, and nice too. Here it is, adapted from the veganfamily website:
Mix up all the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix well. At the last minute add the lemon juice and pour into a greased cake tin.
Bake at about 190C/380F for at least half an hour, or until a skewer (or a knife) comes out clean.
Two things I bought from the indian supermarket: some raw beetroot and some paneer (indian cheese) flavoured with cumin. I decided to have them for my lunch, and it turned out rather well.
It's like currying anything really: just start off by frying some chopped onion (and some cumin seeds), adding a bit of finely chopped ginger and garlic after a few minutes, then add the main ingredients and some liquid and get currying. I added the paneer first, turning up the heat to get some nice colour on it, and then after a while added the peeled and chopped beetroot at the same time as the boiling water. You need to let this boil vigorously for a while (about half an hour) so that the beetroot softens and the liquid reduces. Serve with rice and/or bread, or as a side dish, and it's very nice.
Tortilla (the spanish omelette, not the mexican bread) can be absolutely gorgeous, and it doesn't require much in the way of ingredients so it's really handy. Because of the potatoes it's really chunky, much more of a meal than your average omelette. The amounts given here serve 3 or 4 and fit nicely into a 12" frying pan when you're making it.
3 or 4 potatoes, washed (but not peeled)
1 red onion
4 tbsp olive oil
A handful of frozen peas
Warm up the olive oil in a frying pan. Slice the potatoes into chunks about 1cm thick and then parboil them - that is, drop them into a pan of boiling water and cook them only for about 5 minutes. While this is happening, chop the onion into thick chunks too, and break the eggs into a bowl and mix them up a bit.
Drain the potatoes in a colander or sieve, and leave them to drain while you gently fry the onion in the frying pan. When the onions have softened (3 or 4 mins?) add the drained potatoes and stir around. Leave these to fry for 3 or 4 more minutes before turning them over. Sprinkle the peas into the pan and get everything evenly spread out. Add some salt and pepper if you like. Turn on the grill to a hot setting.
Pour the eggs into the pan, trying to pour the mixture as evenly as possible. Do not stir at all from this point on! The pan should be on a medium heat as the eggs start to cook at the bottom. Let them cook for about 5 minutes. It's tricky to judge when to stop because you can't check underneath to see if they look done, but you can tell it's OK when the egg mixture starts to look a little bit cakey and set.
Take the pan off the heat and put it under the grill to cook the top (3 or 4 mins). Then turn it out onto a plate. Slice it up to serve, and have it with bread and butter and salad leaves.
Philippa's not keen on pork so I have to find ways to make it taste particularly nice. And knowing that she likes sweet things, I tried pork with plums - in various combinations... here's the one she particularly liked:
2 pork steaks
1 handful of baby sweetcorn
1/2 red pepper
2 plums, not too soft
1 tbsp sherry
Slice the pork into strips about 1/2 a centimetre thick. Do the same for pepper and the plums. Do all this beforehand, since the cooking happens fast.
Put a wok on a high heat with a dab of oil. When very hot, put the pork in and stir it around quickly until it loses its raw colour.
Push the pork to the side of the pan, add a dab more oil, and place the sliced plums in the pan. Don't stir them around - let them caramelise slightly, then turn them over and do the same on the other side.
Then stir everything around, adding the pepper and then the sweetcorn. Stir for around 1 minute. Then add the sherry and stir again, while the sherry bubbles down slightly.
Serve with noodles.
Very nice combination (serves 2, takes less than 20 minutes):
2 pieces cod
1 onion or 3 shallots, sliced
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 small bag of green beans
1 tbsp wine vinegar
1/2 a lime
1 beef tomato, chopped into chunks
Heat some olive oil in a wok or large pan, and also some olive oil in a frying pan. Put the onion/shallot in the wok and stir-fry it for a minute. In the meantime put the cod into the frying pan and let it cook. While it's cooking, do the following:
Add the chickpeas to the onions and stir well. Let them cook for another minute or so before adding the coriander and the green beans and stirring again.
When the cod has cooked for about 5 or 6 minutes drizzle the vinegar and squeeze the lime over. Let it cook for another minute and then take the fish out of the pan. Put the tomato into the pan and stir it around to warm it and absorb some of the vinegar/lime/fish juices - then serve.
Philippa liked this one a lot. Serves 2 or 3 people, and it's quite easy too. Make sure you do the chopping/slicing before you start cooking since it all happens quite quickly.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 an onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 beef stock cube
For the dumplings:
100g self-raising flour
Heat the olive oil nice and hot in a deep pan. Put the chicken breasts in, stir them around quickly for a second or two, and then put the onion in too and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and squash and mix.
Add the tomato puree and the crumbled-up stock cube, then pour over enough boiling water to cover and mix everything well. Cover and bring to a simmer, then allow to bubble gently for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings: mix the suet and flour with just enough cold water to form a doughy mixture and shape into balls. Put these into the pan on top of the stew when there's 20 minutes cooking time left.
This is nice and wholesome and filling. "Munchy" said Philippa. Serves 2 hungry people or 3 normal people.
4 or 5 sausages (veggie ones in this case, but meat or veg is fine)
3 cloves garlic
1 tin pinto beans
1 tin butterbeans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup red wine
Drain and rinse the beans. Preheat the oven to 190C. Start the sausages grilling/frying so they'll get nicely browned.
In the meantime, fry the sliced onion and garlic in some olive oil for a few minutes until softened but not browned. Then add the drained beans and mix things around a bit, just until the contents of the pan have warmed back up.
Add the tomates and the wine and stir it round, and let it start to bubble. Then chop the sausages into bitesize chunks, mix them into the pan, and pour everything into a casserole dish. Cover and bake in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes.
This was an emergency-running-out-of-ingredients improvisation but it turned out remarkably well! If you want turkey without the plainness of taste try something like this:
Some turkey breast
2 sun-dried tomatoes
4 dried apricots
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp tomato puree
Dash of sherry or vodka or other spirit
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 flour tortillas
The key to getting this to cook together nicely is slicing everything into nice matchstick shapes that will cook quickly and eat nicely. Slice the marrow, apricots, tomatoes, and garlic into matchsticks, and the turkey into strips about 1cm wide.
Get a wok or pan very hot and start the garlic, apricots, tomatoes, and chilli flakes quickly for a minute or two. Add the turkey and fry, stirring, for about two minutes. Then add the marrow and stir-fry for about two minutes. Add the puree, the spirit, and a dash of water and simmer, stirring, until the liquid reduces down (about three minutes).
Warm the tortillas in a pan (takes about 15 seconds per tortilla) and serve them with the stir-fry. Philippa doesn't like sun-dried tomatoes so try not to put too many on her plate, although they're really important for the overall flavour.