Tag Archives: Main Meal

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Slowly but surely I’m building up my curry recipe collection.  Every now and then, I give one a go, admittedly some are better than others, but, the ones I think have potential eventually end up as an official recipe.  I take the base, do lots of research in my cook books and on the internet, tweak and twist until I get what I want.  Then I practise a few times to make it mine.  This lamb curry has been knocking about with me for a good few years.  For some reason, I can’t remember what, I fell out of love with it, but never forgot it.  Over the last month or so, I’ve resurrected it, got it just so, and now am proud as punch with it.

It follows the basic principle of so many curries in that it is basically a stew, but this one doesn’t have the sharp spike of heat you might associate with Indian food.  The spinach sauce gives a delicious fresh contrast to the sweet fatty lamb.  If you can make a stew you can make this curry.

The Recipe

Preparation Time:  Under 15 minutes
Cooking Time:  About 2 hours

Serves 4 to 6
800gr / 1.7lb  leg of lamb meat, boned, trimmed and cubed
1 large onion, sliced in thin rings
2 tbsps vegetable oil
500gr / 1.1lb of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
100gr / 3.5 oz. of fresh ginger peeled and halved
3 green chilies, pricked with a knife
1 green chili, cut in half with the stalk removed
2 tbsps coriander powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
2 x tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
Serve with some natural yogurt on the side or drizzled over the curry

Lamb and Spinach Curry  Method

  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, then add the lamb, let it brown on quite a high heat being careful not to overload your pan – you may need to do this in batches. Resist the temptation to try and move the meat around the pan straight away.  If you do this too soon, before it has browned, it will stick.
  2. Add the chopped onions and the three pierced green chilies, stir through the meat. Allow the onions to cook until soft and browned lightly, a few minutes should do this.
  3. While the onions are cooking add the garlic, ginger, remaining chili, spinach and tomatoes to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the spices and some a little salt to the pan, stir through.
  5. Pour the spinach mixture into your pan and mix it through the meat. Bring to the boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, turn to a low heat and let simmer gently for about one and a half hours or until the lamb is tender and cooked through.
  6. Remove the three chilies after about an hour. If you don’t they will disintegrate and you will have a really hot curry (unless of course you want this).
  7. Check the salt and also the balance of spices before serving. You may want it spicier or want to add a little extra of a certain spice.  If you do add more spices, cook for a few more minutes before serving.

Tips and Variations              

  • You can easily add more vegetables to this dish, aubergines (egg plant) work well.
  • If you are serving with rice, try making it fragrant by adding a cinnamon stick and some lime leaves while it cooks.
  • The idea is that this is quite a dry curry, but you can add more water to it if you want a more liquid version.
  • When making curry, I always measure my spice powders into a bowl before I start cooking. This is much easier than trying to do this quickly when everything is bubbling.
  • Basically, this recipe follows the same technique as a stew, so, that means it is important not to let it cook too aggressively. To tenderize the meat, your curry needs to cook gently.

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Asian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks

Asian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks

Asian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks

I’m not trying to jump on the bandwagon or anything when I say I don’t eat a lot of meat, but  I don’t.  It has been a conscious decision, I used to eat a lot (too much) red and processed meat every day, in fact, I ate too much of everything every day.  When I say I don’t eat much now, I’m talking more about portion sizes.  I still eat red meat, maybe once a week at home, but mostly when I eat out – it’s a treat after all.  My meat of choice at home is chicken, or fish, but mostly chicken –  which I eat at home probably twice a week (maybe even more), so I’m always looking for and coming up with lots of ideas as to how to cook it.

I used to use a lot of skinless chicken fillets, but, to be very honest, there’s not much flavour there, so I’m a real convert to thigh and leg meat.  Here’s my latest way to enjoy a drumstick.

Marinating Time: Minimum an hour, but up to 5 hours.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 to 30 minutes

Serves 4
The Chicken
12 chicken drumsticks.
For the Marinade
75gr / 2.5 oz.  grated ginger
2 x tsp 5 spice powder
2 x tsp chilli powder (or more if you want it hotter)
3 x tbsp light soy sauce
4 x tbsp honey
4 x tbsp tomato ketchup
Juice of 2 limes (about 4 to 5 tbsp)
3 x cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x tbsp sesame oil

To Dress
A couple of finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
Some toasted sesame seeds
Optional – some natural yogurt

Method

  1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife make a couple of deep slashes on each of the drumsticks so that marinade can get around the meat. Place the chicken in it and cover in the drumsticks in the mix.  Cover the bowl with some cling film and put in the fridge to marinate.
  2. Set the oven to heat to 200°C / 400°F. Line a roasting tray with aluminium foil, place the chicken pieces into it and pour over any remaining marinade.
  3. The drumsticks need about 20 to 30 minutes to cook. This will depend on how meaty those legs are and also how your oven works.  Check the chicken after 20 minutes by inserting a sharp knife to the thickest part of the meat close to the bone and if is ready the meat should be white and any juices should be clear.  You want colour on the outside and a succulent inside.
  4. If there is enough marinade in the roasting tray, you can mix it with a little natural yogurt (to your taste) and serve as a dip with the drumsticks.
  5. To serve, sprinkle the drumsticks with some toasted sesame seeds and the chopped spring onions.

Tips and Variations

  • You can make these in advance and serve at room temperature – good for picnics.
  • I like to serve the drumsticks with some rice and a simple salad.

Asian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks

Stuffed Red Peppers

Stuffed Red Peppers

Stuffed Red Peppers

Peppers, of all colours, are a staple in my kitchen.  I suppose I should say capsicums, that’s what I’m talking about in this recipe, but of course I love the spicy varieties too.  Red peppers are always a favourite, probably because of their sweetness, second only to the sunny yellow pepper.

I’ve been making this recipe in many forms for years, but never got around to writing it up.  That happens sometimes, when I have a recipe that I adjust all the time, it gets difficult to narrow it down to a specific set of ingredients, but, this one I reckon is my favourite flavour.

Preparation Time:  25 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves 4 to 6
5 x large red peppers, remove the stalk, seeds and cut lengthways in half.
1 x small carrot, finely grated
200gr / 7 oz. cooked brown rice
300gr / 10.5 oz. sausage meat (I use good quality breakfast sausage.  Use a sausage that doesn’t contain any breadcrumbs – or a very low percentage).
200gr / 7 oz. frozen peas, defrosted
200gr / 7 oz. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 x red chilies, chopped finely
4 x large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2 x shallots, chopped finely
2 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A large handful of flat leaved parsley, chopped finely
50gr / 1.7 oz. feta, crumbled

Method

  1. Place the peppers in a large soup pan and cover with water from a recently boiled kettle. Allow to boil for three minutes, then drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan and add the shallot, chili and garlic, allow to brown a little, being careful not to burn the garlic, this should take a couple of minutes. Then add the sausage meat, break it down and cook until brown, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick.  Add the carrot and mix it through.  Allow your stuffing mix to cook on a minimum heat for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the sausage meat is cooked.
  3. De-glaze your pan with the lemon juice and add the spinach and peas, stir around until they are incorporated and warmed through. Then add the rice and do the same.
  4. Add the parsley and a little salt and pepper – not too much as your sausages will also contain seasoning. Taste and adjust if need be.
  5. Set your oven to heat to 200° Place the peppers, cut side up in a roasting tray and fill each one with your stuffing.  Sprinkle over your feta, drizzle over the other tbsp. of olive oil and place in to the oven (once it’s up to temperature).  Roast the peppers for about 25 minutes or until the edges start to brown a little and the peppers soften but retain their shape.

Tips and Variations

  • You can vary the stuffing with endless combinations of vegetables. I like to use leftover bolognaise sauce and add more vegetables for a tasty alternative.
  • It can be difficult to get the amount of filling right as peppers can vary in size and I often find I have some left over stuffing. What I love to do is heat it up and serve it with a poached egg and a sprinkle of dried chili flakes.  I have to confess, I like this so much, I always make sure I make extra stuffing for this little treat. The stuffing will keep in the fridge for a few days.
  • You can prepare the stuffing and boil the peppers in advance, but I tend not to fill them until I am ready to put them in the oven.

  Stuffed Red Peppers

White Asparagus with Spinach and Salmon

White asparagus with Spinach and Salmon

White Asparagus with Spinach and Salmon:

Not so much of a recipe as a serving suggestion with of course instructions how to make it.  All I’ve done here is take some of my flavours to combine with white asparagus and paired them up.  It’s a lot simpler than getting all hot and bothered with Hollandaise sauce!

Enjoy!

Preparation Time:  25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients for 4 servings
4 or 5 large white asparagus spears per person, cleaned, peeled and with the woody end of about 2.5cm / 1in removed.
20gr / 0.7oz. unsalted butter
8 large eggs for poaching
600gr / 1.3lb. x hot smoked salmon
1 x tbsp olive oil
4 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
500gr /  1.1 lb wild spinach, washed and woody stems removed.  Chop roughly.
Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the butter, let it melt and drop the asparagus in to cook for about 7 minutes. Make sure the pan is large enough and has enough water in it to give the asparagus enough room to cook.  Check if they are cooked after 5 minutes by inserting a sharp knife into the thickest part of the asparagus.  When they are ready there should still be a little resistance.  Asparagus are best cooked al dente.
  2. Dry off the spinach with a clean tea towel to remove most of the excess water after washing. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, or you can do this in a larger soup/stock pan that will hold the spinach.  The heat should be medium high.  Add the garlic and cook for about 20 seconds (don’t let it colour and certainly not burn), then add as much spinach as you can and toss it in the garlic until it starts to wilt.  Keep adding the spinach until it has all wilted. Remove the pan from the heat,  check for seasoning before serving.
  3. The best way to poach eggs is to boil water in the kettle, pour it into a nice sized pan so that your eggs have room to move (I tend to poach in batches of two or three). Add a pinch of salt and keep the water just under boiling – you shouldn’t see any bubbles.  Add a dessert spoonful of vinegar (doesn’t matter which, but colourless is best).  Make sure your eggs are fresh and at room temperature.  Stir the water to create a whirlpool effect and break the eggs into it.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until set then remove with a slotted spoon and drain off on a tea towel or kitchen paper.
  4. Once all your elements are ready, arrange them on your plates and break the salmon over the top.

 Tips and Variations

  • Serve with some boiled potatoes with some good quality mayonnaise and mustard on the side.
  • The season for white asparagus is quite short, running from mid/end April to the end of June (depending on each season’s weather).
  • You can do this with green asparagus too and cold smoked salmon.
  • If I have a bigger group of people I tend to soft boil eggs instead of poaching – it’s just a bit easier.

Fish Pie – A British Classic

Fish Pie

Fish Pie:  I’ve eaten fish pie in some form or another all my life.  It’s a British classic and at its core a poor man’s dish which used off cuts of fish disguised in a sauce and covered with potatoes – you can’t tell that you don’t have the most beautiful fillets because the flavour is amazing!  For the last few years I’ve been going for a lighter version of fish pie, more vegetables, lighter sauce and it was really good.  Now though I want to get back to a more traditional fish pie and this is it.  It can take a bit of time to get the elements together, but it works really well as a make ahead dish, or for big groups.  I really like to make it when it’s one of those times when your not really sure when everybody will be arriving – you can eat it cold or warm it up easily too.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes plus time to cook the broccoli and potatoes.
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

I use an oven proof dish which measures 30cm / 13 in. x 22cm / 8.5 in. and 6cm / 2.5 in. deep to bake the pie in the oven

The Fish Pie Filling and Topping
1 x kg / 2.2 lb. of fish.  I use a mix of salmon, haddock and cod cut into large chunks.
3 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
4 x anchovy fillets chopped finely
6 x spring onions chopped finely
2 x tbsp of olive oil
Juice of a lemon
200gr / 7 oz. frozen, chopped spinach – defrosted and most of the water drained off.
200gr / 7 oz. frozen peas, defrosted
300gr / 10.5 oz. chestnut mushrooms chopped roughly
Florets from a head of broccoli – boiled
750gr / 1.6 lb. boiled potatoes2 x tsps of English mustard (Mash the potatoes and broccoli together  with the mustard and add a little salt and pepper to taste.)
50gr / 2 oz.  grated manchego or mature cheddar cheese, grated.
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 x bay leaves
5 or six whole black peppercorns

For The Béchamel Sauce
20gr / 0.7 oz. of unsalted butter
20gr / 0.7 oz. of plain flour
400ml / 14 fl. 0z. of milk
A pinch of fresh nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Set your oven to pre-heat to 200°C / 400°F.
  2. First, poach the fish. Place it in the milk (this is the milk you will use to make the sauce) with the bay leaves, black peppercorns and a little salt.  Cover the pan with a close fitting lit, bring to a gentle boil, remove it from the heat and allow the fish to cook for 5 to 7 minutes depending on how big your chunks of fish are.  When cooked, drain off the fish and keep the milk.
  3. Arrange the pieces of cooked fish evenly in the bottom of your pie dish.
  4. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan add the anchovies and garlic, cook for a minute or so on a high heat. Keep the mix moving so that it doesn’t burn and add the spring onions, stir through and cook for another minute or so until everything is softened and takes a little colour.   De-glaze the pan with the lemon juice and cook it off.  Add the mushrooms, mix through and cook on a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until they soften a little.  Add the peas, spinach and some salt and pepper, stir through and cook for about 5 minutes on a gentle heat.  Actually you are just heating this up.  Check for seasoning, turn off the heat and set aside.
  5. If you are making this recipe for the first few times, I’d advise to make the sauce after you have the vegetables ready. Once you get more expert at it, then you can make it whilst the vegetables are cooking.
  6. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan – not a non stick pan. Add the flour and mix in using a metal whisk.  It will be like crumbly ball.
  7. Add the milk (with the bay leaves and peppercorns removed) and whisk vigorously. Keep going until the sauce thickens.  Adjust the heat so that you have enough too cook the sauce but not so much that it sticks.  I usually make this sauce on a medium high heat.  Add some salt and pepper and the nutmeg.  Turn down the heat and allow to cook for a couple of minutes – you can now use a wooden spoon to stir.
  8. You are now ready to assemble! Pour your sauce over the vegetable mix and stir through.  Check once again for seasoning.  Spread the vegetables evenly and carefully over the fish in the pie dish.  Try not to move the fish around too much – the goal is to have each piece of pie containing an nice piece of everything in each bite.  Take the potato mix and spread this over the top then sprinkle over the cheese and place in the oven to bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is nice and brown and crunchy.

Tips and Variations

  • Be creative with the fish. Try meaty white fish like halibut or monkfish for some luxury – the ultimate is with prawns or gamba’s.
  • Instead of spinach, try kale, just cook it in some boiling water for 5 minutes first.
  • This a great dish to make the day before and just heat up when you need it.
  • Be creative with the potato topping, try mixing with sweet potato, parsnips or sprouts, or in summer add lots of fresh herbs like parsley, chives or basil.
  • You can use single cream to make the sauce if you want a decadent, rich version. If you do this, then you can poach your fish in milk or water.  You can also use half milk and half cream.

Fish Pie - A British Classic