Friday, 31 December 2010

Left Alone In The Butchers...

My wife made the mistake of leaving me alone in a great butchers today after I'd been drinking coffee. By the time she had come back I'd bought a kilo of diced venison, 1/2 a kilo of minced beef and three large pieces of oxtail - all organic and looking very tasty.

The mince and the venison have been put in the freezer leaving the oxtail for tomorrow night's supper.

Watch this space!

Turkey and Vegetable Soup

Yes we are still working our way through the Turkey - despite the best efforts of our three cats. This soup is refreshingly light and tasty. Serves 2 generously.

Large handful of cooked turkey chopped into bite sized pieces
1 parsnip, pealed, cored and diced
1 carrot, pealed and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
A small bunch parsley chopped
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
750ml vegetable or chicken stock

Fry the onions and vegetables in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add the turkey and tarragon. Add stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft but not collapsing.
Add the parsley and check the seasoning. Serve with crusty bread.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Two More Pies

To cater for varying tastes at last night's games evening I made two varieties of pies; Fish and Game. Each of the recipes below fill 4 large ramekins and are topped by shop bought puff pastry.

Game Pie
8 Pheasant Thighs cut into chunks
3 small carrots cut into small diced
1 medium onion finely diced
150g mushrooms finely diced
1/2 glass of wine
1tbsp seasoned flour
4 crushed juniper berries
2 sprigs of rosemary (chopped)

Fry the onion in a little oil until softened, add the mushrooms and fry briefly. Coat the pheasant in seasoned flour and add to the pan and fry until coloured. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and enough stock to make a thick gravy. Put in a moderate oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before topping with puff pastry. Cook in a hot oven for 20 minutes until golden brown and puffed up.

Fish Pies

2 salmon stakes skinned and cut into chunks

1 small haddock loin skinned and cut into chunks
250ml single cream
Large handful of chopped parsley
1 bayleaf
2-3 shallots finely chopped
2 tspn flour
100g mushrooms chopped
large knob of butter
Salt and pepper

Frozen Veg from the garden with assistant
Fry the shallot and mushroom in the butter add the flour to make a roux then add the cream and a little milk if the sauce is too thick. Add the fish and herbs and stir to combine. Cool then add to the ramekins and top with the pastry. Then remember you have left the bayleaf inside shrug and hope that someone notices before they eat it. Cook in a hot oven for 20 minutes until golden brown and puffed up.

I served these pies with potato wedges and green vegetables (green kale and purple Brussels spouts) from the garden.

Christmas Games Evening Menu

Had a fab evening with my wife and some good friends last night. Lots of good food and drink as well!
To start with we had Peach Fizz (Cava and peach nectar) served with smoked salmon and sour cream blinis. This was followed by minted pea soup with pan fried scallops. The main course was a choice of individual pies - game (in this case pheasant) or fish (salmon and haddock). Pudding was cardamom and orange chocolate pots with a selection of British and European cheeses to finish. All washed down with more Cava and copious volumes of mulled wine.
Surprisingly we still had room for a full English this morning!
Recipes to follow

Friday, 26 November 2010

Cauliflower Risotto

I was never much of a fan of the brassica family when I was young. School dinners were probably to blame, they are probably starting to cook the Brussels Sprouts now ready for the Christmas lunch in schools around the country as I type. Now however I love them. I even grow them in the garden, and will be picking purple sprouts and kale for lunch on Christmas Day. Anyway this is a different way to use a cauliflower.

1 small or 2/3 of a normal sized cauliflower thinly sliced on a mandoline
2 small carrots grated
1 leak or onion finely chopped
250g risotto rice
1 clove garlic
1 glass of white wine
Chicken or Vegetable stock (750ml or thereabouts)
1/2 tsp of coarsely crushed coriander seeds
Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
Large knob of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
100g Parmasan cheese

Fry the onion or leek and garlic until transparent in the oil and half the butter . Add the carrots and fry briefly then add the cauliflower and rice. Stir to coat the rice in the oil then add the wine and cook until evaporated. Add the stock gradually stirring until evaporated and the rice is cooked. Add the remaining butter and the cheese, remove from the heat and stir. Leave to stand, covered for 5 minutes then serve.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Moroccan Meatballs

I love meatballs. The crusty savour of the outside with a moist flavoursome middle. I like my meatballs to be the size of walnuts to maximise the crusty outside to yummy inside ratio. Makes about 10 balls depending on the size.

For the meatballs:
350g minced lamb
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1 aubergine chopped into 1cm cubes
2 onions chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 grated carrots
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 chopped red or green pepper
1 tblsp tomato puree
1 clove garlic crushed
1/2 glass of wine.
2 tblsp olive oil

Mix the meatball ingredients together using your hands to squish the mixture together. With moist hands form the mix into balls about the size of a large walnut or a squash ball. Chill the balls for 15 minutes or longer to allow the flavours to infuse.
Meanwhile make the sauce. Fry the onions in the oil until transparent. Add the aubergine, garlic, carrots and pepper and fry until the vegetables have softened and coloured. Add the wine and then add the remainder of the ingredients. Simmer until the sauce has thickened - say 30 minutes.
Meanwhile fry the meatballs on all sides then pop in a medium oven (perhaps alongside my Baked Pears) for 10 mins until cooked through then add to the sauce and serve with plain boiled rice or pasta.

The sauce would also work well on its own with pasta or with a meaty fillet of fried fish (such as monkfish or swordfish).

Friday, 29 October 2010

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

An Autumnal Salad

A nice way with some of my favourite ingredients; smoked mackerel, celeriac and sour cream. The variety of textures really work well and tastes great.

Ingredients (for 2-3)
2 large carrots cut into thick matchsticks
1/2 a celeriac , peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
2 apples cored and cut into thick matchsticks
250ml sour cream
one clove of garlic crushed or grated
zest of a lemon and juice of 1/2 a lemon
4 spring onions finely chopped
handful of parsley finely chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper
3-4 fillets of smoked mackerel, skinned and flaked

Mix all the ingredients apart from the fish in a large bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Plate up then flake the smoked mackerel on top.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Roast Chicken

I love Sunday roasts and probably my favourite is a god roast chicken. I always buy a free range corn-fed bird as the flavour, and hopefully quality of life, is better. This week I roasted it with potatoes, turnips and red onions with streaky bacon slipped under the skin of the breast.

Good as the roast is I think the left overs are even better. As there are only two of us there are always plenty of leftovers. This week I made a chicken, chickpea and coconut curry with 2/3 of the leftovers and a chicken, leak, bacon and mushroom risotto with the rest. I didn't have time to make stock with the carcass, if I had I would have had had enough to make a chicken noodle soup as well. As it was there was enough for me to take into work for lunch as well as a pair of generous evening meals for two (as well as nibbles for the cats!).

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Beef Casserole

Autumn is here so it's time to start making casseroles and stews. This is one of my favourites and like all casseroles it gets better on the second night so I always make plenty! The red grape juice adds a nice sweetness to the juices.

Serves 4-6

500g stewing beef (leg or skirt is best) in 2cm chunks
2 fist sized turnips or the same amount of swede diced into 2cm chunks
1 large parsnip cut into 2cm chunks
2 medium onions cut into wedges
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 medium carrots cut into chunks
large handful of pearl barley
750-1000ml red grape juice
6-8 juniper berries crushed
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tblspn vegetable oil

Coat the meat in seasoned flour and fry in a large casserole or saucepan until browned - do this in batches. Remove meat from pan and add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes to pick up some colour. Add a little of the grape juice to deglaze the pan then add the meat, the herbs and spices, pearl barley and red grape juice, enough just to cover the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil pop a lid on then either simmer on the hob or put in a medium oven (150C) for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally adding more grape juice if needed.
20 minutes before serving make the dumplings (1/2 oz suet, 1oz flour a little water and creamed horseradish to make a soft dough per dumpling) and add them to the casserole to steam for 20 minutes or so. Serve in a bowl with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Baked Plums

Not sure I an actually call this a recipe it's so simple! We have had a glut of very nice plums in our organic vegetable box (from Abel & Cole who I can heartily recommend) in the last few weeks so came up with this to use them up.

Serves 2
6-8 plums cut into quarters and destoned
2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar (I always have a jar of sugar with an old or scraped vanilla pod in it)
splash or two of fruit juice

Bake in a moderate oven for 30 mins until the plums have softened and the juice has gone all syrupy. I tend to make this when I have the oven on for something else too save energy. Yummy served with natural yoghurt or vanilla ice cream. Works just as well with rhubarb (add a little grated ginger if you like).

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Afternoon Tea

As a treat for my wife and her friends on their return from a bead fair I put together a semi-traditional afternoon tea.
Smoked salmon on blinis
Smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber on home-made rye-bread with caraway and coriander seeds
Stilton scones
Fruit scones
Double chocolate muffins

Not much left at the end so must have been a sucess!

Not made scones since  was in Home Economics 30 odd years ago and I was very happy with the results very light with a good texture.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Rabbit Pies

Inspired by the yummy 2-in-1 pies served at the Weighbridge Inn in Minchinhampton. This one doesn't have two fillings in the same pot but was equally tasty!

Makes 5 pies but depends on the size of the ramekins.

1 pack of diced wild rabbit (350g)
1 chicken breast, diced
2 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into lardons
3 small carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
small handful of dried mushrooms, soaked and chopped (keep the soaking liquid)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 juniper berries crushed
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp flour seasoned with salt and pepper
large glass of red wine
1 tbsp of tomato purée

6oz of shortcrust pastry, rolled out and cut into discs just larger than the ramekins
1 egg, beaten.

Fry off the onions, garlic, bacon, carrots and celery in a little olive oil until softened. Remove. Coat the chicken and rabbit in the flour and fry in a little extra oil. Return the vegetables and bacon to the pan with the meat and add the herbs and spices, mushrooms, soaking liquor, wine and tomato purée. Simmer for 30 minutes, if the sauce gets very thick add a little extra water.

Fill the ramekins with the stew and cover with the pastry and brush with the beaten egg.

Cook in an oven (220C) for 30-40 minutes. Serve with chips and peas or beans or a salad.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The First and the Last

Tonight's supper contained the last of last year's crop and the first of this year's. I made a chilli with last year's dried borlotti beans followed with a bowl of plums, nectarines and the first of this year's blackberries. Yum.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Thai Style Meatballs in Coconut Broth

A post D&D treat for the DM and players! Serves 3-4 hungry orcs.

For the meatballs:
500g pork mince
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 small red chilli finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 clove garlic minced

For the broth:
1/2 small onion finely diced
1 clove garlic
200g sliced shittake mushrooms
1/2 yellow pepper
1 courgette
Small bunch of coriander chopped
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 can coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 lime leaves

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs and form into balls about the size of a  large walnut. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 1/2 and hour.

Fry the onion and the garlic in a little oil in a saucepan. Add the chilli, pepper, mushrooms, lime leaves and courgette and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk and a little extra water. Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs for 15-20 minutes depending on the size, turning wen they have taken a  good colour.

Add the coriander and lime juice to the broth a few minutes before serving.

Serve the broth over rice or noodles and place the meatballs on top.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Chicken, Potato and Spinach Curry

Too many potatoes and too much spinach in my veg box so I came up with this recipe. Ingredient proportions are flexible depending on what you have! For a vegetarian option you could replace the chicken with chickpeas or lentils. You could easily do a fish version using a firm fish like monk-fish or cod but add the fish much later, after adding the spinach and cook the dish until the fish is done.

Serves 4

1 bag of baby spinach
2 Chicken Breasts or 4 chicken thighs, diced
2 medium onions finely sliced
2 carrots, grated.
2 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed.
2 medium or the equivalent amount in small potatoes, diced. Peal them or not - it's up to you. Waxy ones are best.
Spices: 1 tsp of each of Cumin, Coriander, Turmeric, Fenugreek, 4 Cardamom pods, 2 cloves (ground), 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 dried chilli (optional).
 Small bunch fresh coriander

Fry the onions in a tablespoon of oil in a large pan or a casserole - you need a big pan to fit the spinach in later - then add the chicken and fry until coloured. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and spices. Fry for a few minutes then add a cup or so of hot water or stock. Stir then cover and cook over a low heat until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through. Add more water or stock if the curry dries out too much, it should be fairly dry but should have some sauce.Wash and add the spinach and gently stir in. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted. Add the chopped coriander and a teaspoon of garum massala, stir and serve with plain boiled rice and a yoghurt raita.

Smoked Haddock Quiche

Made this as part of the menu for a Summer Games evening but with al the other food on offer had it the following day for lunch instead! I like adding a teaspoon of English mustard flour to the pastry to give it a bit of a bite.

6oz Shortcrust Pastry (yes I know it's in Imperial but for some reason I find it easier to do pastry this way!)
For the filling:
3 Eggs
1 large fillet of smoked haddock
2 medium onions finely sliced
large knob of butter
milk (enough to cover the fish for poaching)
1 bayleaf
a few peppercorns
small bunch of parsley
Large handful of cheddar cheese

Line a 23cm / 9in quiche dish and blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes

Put the fish in a pan with the milk, bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley stalks. Bring the milk to a boil then turn off the heat, cover and leave to stand for 10-15 minutes.

Fry he onions in the butter until soft. Drain and flake the fish, mix with the onions and add the chopped parsley. Beat the eggs and add some of the strained poaching liquid. Put the fish and onion mixture into the pastry shell then pour in the egg and milk mixture.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake in a oven at 190C for about 30 minutes or until cooked.

Serve warm or cold with a crisp watercress salad or with chips.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Yorkshire Portions

Had a fantastic break in Yorkshire where the local produce was of a high quality and portion sizes were generous to say the least. Highlights were the home made steak and ale pies at the Blacksmith's Arms in Lastingham. The high quality food was particularly welcome as we were half way round a walk that started in drizzle moved to hail and then to heavy rain and driving wind just before we squleched into Lastingham. An open fire and a warm welcome soon dried us out and the remainder of the walk was competed with a warm glow inside and out!
Samuels in Whitby serves very good fish and chips as well as other fish dishes and is well worth a visit.
There are a number of good farm shops and the one we stopped at for our breakfast on our journey back to London, Beadlam Grange, has fresh local vegetables, meat, bread and cheese along with very large breakfasts.

Already planning to return in next year!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Smoked Haddock Risotto

Rice and smoked fish, a wonderful combination. Through in lots of parsley and some slowly softened leeks and you have a bowl of comfort food. Serves 2 generously or three less so.

2 medium leeks, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
175g of risotto rice
knob of butter
big handful of parsley finely chopped
1 ltr of stock (vegetable or fish, you may need more or less than this amount)
large fillet of smoked haddock (get the undyed if you can)
500ml or so of milk (just enough to cover the fish)
few peppercorns

Gently poach the haddock in the milk with a bay leaf, some peppercorns and chopped up parsley stalks. Meanwhile fry the garlic and leaks in a wide pan with the butter. When softened add the rice and fry briefly. Add the stock gradually until the rice has softened. Skin and flake the haddock and add to the rice with parsley. Stir gently to amalgamate and season to taste. Add an extra small knob of butter.

Divide between two warmed plates and grate a small amount of parmasan cheese over the top if you like.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Pan Fried Pigeon Breasts with Potato Rosti and Gin and Blackberry Sauce

A few weeks ago I bought a pack of pigeon breasts from the Ealing farmers market. A hard day of wondering around Amersham's charity shops brought on a fierce appetite and this seemed like the perfect thing to satisfy it. Serves two hungry shoppers.

4 Pigeon Breasts (check them over for any shot that might be lurking within the flesh)

For the rosti
2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
large knob of butter, melted
large pinch dried thyme
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1 small onion finely chopped
1 shot glass of gin
5 juniper berries crushed
1 small handful of blackberries (I usually have some in the freezer)

Grate the potato and mix in the thyme, garlic, melted butter and a good grind of salt and pepper. Heat a small frying pan and add the potato mixture. Fry until richly golden on one side then turn and continue frying.
Meanwhile fry the pigeon breasts in a little olive oil for 3-5 minutes on each side then put in a warm oven to keep warm.
Fry the finely chopped onion in the pan juices (add a little oil if you need to - pigeon is very lean and will give off little extra fat). Add the crushed juniper berries and deglaze the pan with the gin. Add the blackberries and cook until they have softened to a mush.
Serve with a bitter green salad.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Beef Casserole

One of my favourite dishes. This serves at least 4 possibly 6 if you add dumplings or a pile of mashed potatoes. Ingredients can be varied depending on what you have in the vegetable drawer. The red grape juice gives a wonderful sweet flavour.

500g Beef in c.3cm chunks (braising steak, skirt or leg - I'm a skirt man myself!)
1 large onion roughly chopped
2 large leeks cleaned and sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
6 juniper berries
3 parsnips in large chunks
4 medium carrots in chunks
A few dried mushrooms
Red grape juice (500ml-1ltr)
Handful of pearl barley
2-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
4 tablespoons of seasoned flour (Flour, mustard, salt, pepper, thyme)

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Coat the meat in the seasoned flour and brown in batches, lift out and keep warm. When all the meat is browned fry the leeks, onions and garlic. Add the root vegetables and stir to coat. Return the meat and add the pearl barley and bay leaves. Add enough grape juice to cover and the dried mushrooms.
Bring to the boil then cover and put in a low oven for 3-4 hours or until you can't take it any more. Examine occasionally, adding more grape juice or water if it looks a little dry.
Serve with horseradish dumplings or mashed potatoes or crusty bread. Make a big batch as it always tastes better the next day.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Power of Five - Cookery Books

I have a rather large, some may say too large, collection of cookery books. These five are the ones I turn too again and again:

Dough - Richard Bertinet
I really get a kick out of making bread and this book has improved the quality of my bread. It contains a variety of interesting recipes and the technique he details makes kneading the dough much easier and the bread much lighter in texture.

Indian Cookery - Khalid Aziz
This is ancient book but the numerous stains indicate how much it has been used! A nice variety of meat and vegetarian Indian dishes.

Fish - Sophie Grigson and William Black
A description of a variety fishy species and ways of cooking them. Useful suggestions of alternate fish to use and some very tasty recipes.

The Kitchen Diaries - Nigel Slater
I adore all of Nigel's books and choosing one over the others was difficult. However this is the one I have found myself tuning to again and again. Lots of flavourful recipes, Nigel's entertaining writing and attractive photography make this a must have.

Farmhouse Cookery - Reader's Digest
My mum had a copy of this and eventually I managed to find a copy for myself via the internet. This is great for traditional recipes (crumbles, dumplings etc.).

This was a difficult job as there are a number of other books I would like to have included (Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Madhur Jaffrey et al).

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Pear and Cardamon Crumbles

I made these in individual large ramekins to use up a glut of pears from our Abel and Cole vegetable box. Serves 5.

5 or 6 pears depending on size
75g plain flour
10g porridge oats
85g butter
75g vanilla sugar plus a little to sprinkle on top
6 cardamom pods (seeds only, ground)

Work the butter and flour and oats together until a breadcrumb texture is achieved. Add the sugar and cardamom. Dice the pears and share between the individual ramekins or in a single dish. Loosely spread the topping on top sprinkle a little extra sugar on top then cook for 20-30 minutes in a 200C oven until the top is browning. Serve with custard or ice-cream.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Swordfish with Lentils

Cooked during my stay in a cosy apartment in York, just about the only holiday let that I've stayed in that had decent pots and knives. Other firm white fish (monkfish or haddock) would work just as well (as long as it wasn't hacked about by the person doing the filleting as ours was). Serves 4 (for a change!)

4 fillets of firm white fish
Two large handfuls of Puy lentils
Two or three carrots
One red onion
2 cloves garlic
4-6 small tomatoes
6-8 black olives

Fry the finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil till transparent. Add the finely diced carrot and fry again for a few minutes before adding the olives (pitted and halved). Add the chopped tomatoes, some dried herbs, the lentils and enough stock (or water) to cover.
Bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked, try not to let the lentils boil dry as they will burn on the bottom of the pan.
When the lentils are almost cooked, season and pan fry the fish and serve on top of the lentils along with some sugar snap peas and green beans for a contrasting texture and colour.

York - Food Heaven or Food Hell

I have just returned from a fun weekend in York for the 25th Jorvik Viking Festival. As I was travelling with a trio of foodies it makes sense to review the food options in the city.

Good points:
York has a food and general market with a fine range of produce. In particular we liked the cheese, fish and meat providers at the Shambles end of the market. Fruit and veg stalls in the market were also good and if I had been staying longer I would have been tempted by the pale pink forced rhubarb from the infamous Rhubarb Triangle.
The York Coffee Emporium in High Petergate stocks a small range of fine coffees and teas and the friendly and knowledgeable staff are willing to advise.
There was also a market in Parliament while we were there and if you were prepared to dodge the vikings sipping lattes and queuing at cash points you would have found tasty pork pies, fresh breads, olives and good cheeses.

Bad Points:
Only one really and I can't lay this at York's door, but I would like to butcher the person who filleted the haddock in M&S that we bought for our supper (fish stall had shut by the time we go to the market). It was hacked into a random shape, possibly with a knife though it could have been chewed into shape to be honest!

Overall then York is more food heaven than hell.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Power of Five - Ingredients

There are a number of ingredients that I always like to have in my store cupboard.

Oak Smoked Paprika
- Gives a wonderful flavour to tomato based sauces, sweetly savoury with smoky overtones.

Lentils - Red lentils add a earthy richness to soups and tomato based pasta sauces. Green lentils work well with strong flavoured sausages and pan fried duck breasts.

Chick Peas - Added to a chicken curry or a vegetable one with chunks of potato. Added to couscous with tinned tuna, red onions, cherry tomatoes and lots of parsley and coriander and perhaps a finely chopped red chilli.

Chilli Sambal - Foxes do a range of wonderful chilli sambals with roasted onions and garlic which are fabulous as a relish, thinned down as a dipping sauce or added to mayonnaise to flavour a pasta salad.

Frozen Cranberries - I buy lots when they are in season as they add a wonder flavour to porridge (yes really), stuffing, home made chutneys and smoothies with mango and passion fruit.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Aromatic Green Thai Curry

My better half (and no I don't mean Fitz) doesn't like spicy food so this version of a classic is aromatic rather than fiery.

For the curry paste:
Blend together:
Half a bunch of coriander (the stems have most of the flavour)
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
2 stems of lemon grass
Thumb sized chunk of ginger (peeled)
Juice of half a lime
1/2 a teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 a teaspoon of ground cumin
6 dried lime leaves
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the curry:
4 chicken thighs (or equivalent in firm white fish)
1 large green pepper (diced)
1 large onion (diced)
1 can coconut milk
250g of mange tout or sugar snap peas
Rest of the coriander coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Blend all the paste ingredients together and then fry in a hot pan.
Add the chicken and fry quickly for a few minutes then add the pepper and onion. Fry for a few more minutes then add the coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
Add the beans (and the fish if using). Cook for a further 10 minutes (or until the fish is cooked). Sprinkle on the rest of the coriander and serve with rice.

If you like it spicy add 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped to the paste.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Roasted Squash Risotto

On a cold and icy evening with snow still lying on the ground I felt a need for a warm, creamy, satisfying meal. Fortunately a friend had given me a home grown butternut squash perfect for a risotto. Serves 2.

225g risotto rice
2 knobs of butter
glug of olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 a butternut squash, peeled and diced into bite-size chunks
1 sprig of rosemary
vegetable stock & pinch of saffron
1/2 handfuls of grated Parmesan

Toss the squash with a good glug of oil along with the rosemary, salt and pepper in a hot oven, shake occasionally.
Meanwhile make the risotto. Melt the butter with a glug of oil in a wide pan and add the onion and garlic and fry until softened. Add the rice and stir. Add the stock gradually until the rice has softened. Add the roasted squash, the cheese and another knob of butter.