Tag Archives: Recipe

Rendang Curry Paste

There’s nothing I enjoy more (when I have the time and available ingredients!) than patiently putting together a curry and everything that goes with it – that means making a curry paste (like this Rendang curry paste), making the curry, cooking some rice and making some sort of authentic bread to dip into that delicious sauce.  Serve up with a couple of cold beers and what more could you ask for?!  This here is the first step of that process, and I have to say it’s pretty satisfying to toast and blitz up spices, and it fills your kitchen with the most magnificent aroma.

One problem I frequently encounter, however, is that many curry recipes seem to require the same ingredients every time (save the odd pinch of fenugreek or turmeric), meaning they are barely discernible from one another. Rendang is a bit different, and not only because it traditionally includes some slow-cooked beef, but because it is a Malaysian invention rather than an Indian one.  No tinned tomatoes here! Get the best balance of sweet and spicy for your own taste buds and this can help you towards a deliciously different curry feast.  Full Beef Rendang recipe coming soon, but in the meantime you can prepare your paste ahead (it keeps for around 2 weeks in a sealed container) or mix it up with some yoghurt for a nice marinade for some baked chicken.

If you don’t feel quite adventurous enough to try the rendang for yourself, why not give our Tikka Masala Paste a whirl instead to make yourself a tasty Chicken Tikka Masala?

Rendang Curry Paste

Rendang Curry Paste

Ingredients

  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • a piece of fresh ginger, about the size of 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • water, to loosen
  • a mini chopper is also pretty much essential!

Instructions

  1. Set a small frying pan over a medium heat and add the coconut.
  2. Leave it over the heat for a few minutes, occasionally stirring, until just toasted on both sides. Be very careful: it can turn from white to burnt in a matter of minutes so keep an eye on it!
  3. Once the coconut is nicely toasted, pour it into the mini chopper. Repeat with the coriander and cumin seeds. You'll know they're ready when they start to pop and leak out a little oil. Again, be careful not to burn them, and pour into the mini chopper when they're done. That's the pan's role fulfilled so it can be taken off the heat.
  4. Roughly chop the onion, garlic, deseeded chilli and ginger and add these to the chopper.
  5. Then add the turmeric and oil and a little water. Blitz up into a fine paste. This may require the addition of a little water and a few mixes with a tablespoon to help the chopper along with blitzing all those ingredients into a paste. That is the most tedious, fiddly part of the whole recipe though - it really is so easy!
  6. Store in a little jar or sealable container in the fridge. Around 1/3 to 1/2 of the paste should be enough to make one curry for two, depending on how spicy you like your curry. Be sure to come back for the full curry recipe!
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Gnocchi Sausage Bake

This is a cracking little recipe we just devised.  Delicious fresh, and even better reheated, it’ll warm your bones in cold weather, which we’ve been experiencing a lot of in the Scottish Borders recently.  It’s got everything you’d want from a quasi Italian supper: tomatoes, basil, garlic, protein, a bit of stodge, a bit of spice and, of course, as much cheese as you dare.  Oh, and it’s also really easy to eat from a plate on your knee when your house isn’t quite ready yet! Go on, give this little gnocchi sausage bake a try!

Gnocchi Sausage Bake

Gnocchi Sausage Bake

Ingredients

  • 8 pork sausages
  • 1 packet gnocchi (there's a time and a place for homemade gnocchi and this isn't it!)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 pepper - we used red
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 4 tbsp red wine (if you have a bottle open - don't waste a new bottle if it's not a good excuse to drink it!)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tin plum or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small carton passata
  • 1 beef stock pot
  • fresh or dried herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme and basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (in addition to the fresh)
  • 6 tsp mascarpone
  • plenty of parmesan to grate on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 180c and place a large saucepan on the hob at a high heat.
  2. Squeeze the meat out of the sausage skins, breaking it up with your fingers as you do so. This meat should be nicely seasoned so it won't need anything else adding to it at this stage.
  3. Put the sausage meat into the pan and let it brown on both sides, breaking it up with your wooden spoon as you do so, so that you're left with uneven chunks (you're not aiming for mince though!). You'll probably find that the sausages release quite alot of fat and water, so drain some of it off if it's impeding the sausages' browning ability. This bake will be tastiest if you can get lots of crispy bits onto your sausages. When they're ready, pour onto a plate or into a bowl and set aside for the time being, then put the pan back on the hob, turning the heat down a couple of notches, but leaving in any remaining fat (or as much as you prefer) for cooking the onions in. Fat is flavour, remember!
  4. Slice the onion and chop or grate the garlic. It isn't imperative that the garlic in this recipe should be absolutely finely milled, so feel free to chop away with your knife if you don't like grating or want to save on the washing up - if the pieces are larger or more uneven than is ideal it won't matter too much as the flavour will have time to break down and disperse, meaning there's not too much risk of biting down on a bitter chunk of raw garlic.
  5. Let the onion and garlic cook out for five minutes or so on their own before adding anything else to the pan, but be careful not to let the garlic burn.
  6. Slice the pepper and add in, followed by the spring onion.
  7. Next, spoon in the tomato puree and stir it vigorously into the vegetables, letting it cook out for a few minutes to mellow and sweeten, before adding the wine and vinegar (if using them). Cook out until the liquids have reduced almost completely, then add the tinned tomatoes and passata. A helpful tip we like to follow is to swill out the tins with a little water and add this to the sauce as it will be quite thick and will thicken even more as it cooks and the moisture in the pan evaporates. You can of course add water from the tap or gnocchi pot later on, but we like to add extra at this point to loosen everything up, and it also means not wasting any tomatoey residue on those cans!
  8. Add the stock pot (or a stock cube dissolved in only a small amount of water) and then the dry herbs and spices, salt and pepper.
  9. Add the sausage back into the saucey pan to let them cook all the way through and add to the flavour of the sauce.
  10. Leave the sauce now to cook for 20 minutes to half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  11. During this time, you may wish to start the washing up and prepare the gnocchi, as it can take much more time than the 2 minutes the packet suggests, unless you're happy to use a very big saucepan and have mighty fast reflexes, as you need to scoop it out as soon as it floats to the top to avoid it becoming rubbery, so I find it easier to boil it up in small batches to avoid any panicking, splashing and risk of rubber gnocchi. Leave it in a colander to steam off.
  12. The next stage is somewhat optional, which is frying off the gnocchi in a little olive oil. Optional but I like the little bit of crunch and toastiness it adds.
  13. Add the fresh basil to your sauce, check the seasoning, and now you're ready to put it altogether.
  14. Stir the gnocchi into the sauce and put the whole lot into a large casserole dish.
  15. Next, spoon on as much or as little mascarpone as you would like (remember that it's very creamy).
  16. Then add a few basil leaves to the top, and grate on your parmesan.
  17. Bake uncovered in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mascarpone has started to gild on the top.
  18. Serve up with green vegetables and crusty bread if you're feeling generous!
  19. Buon appetito!
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If it’s a special occasion – why not make our chocolatiest chocolate cake for pudding?

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Since the weather doesn’t seem to be improving any, we’re stuck in soupsville for however many weeks it’s going to take Spring to warm things up enough to let us enjoy salads at lunchtime. This is a swings and roundabouts problem, however, because the soup gets made on Sunday, and then portions will need to be reheated each day for lunch, whereas salads necessitate chopping and boxing every evening when supper’s being made, and there often needs to be a roast bird in the oven on Sunday to provide the protein element.  So either way, this is my hardest work part of eating well.

 
All that work pays off, however, as long as you can keep changing things up enough that you keep enjoying whatever it is you’re feeding yourself. And that’s why it’s time for a new soup! You don’t me need to tell you that carrots help to see I the dark but you may not know that they are packed with vitamin C. They can be a little sweet, however, so to me it makes sense to balance them out with a little heat and some acidic citrus to give you a tasty well/rounded soup. 

You will need:

2 onions

2 leeks 

3 cloves garlic

2 cm piece ginger 

1 tbsp olive oil 

1 kg carrots

3 chicken stock cubes (use vegetable if you would prefer, or fresh stock)

2 tsp dried parsely

1/2 tsp ground chilli

1/2 tsp ground cumin 

4 tsp ground coriander 

Splash orange juice

Dash Worcestershire sauce 

Salt and pepper 

A few leaves of fresh parsely or coriander (optional)

  
1. Chop the onions, garlic and ginger. Don’t worry about being too delicate or even – it’ll all blended once it’s cooked.how to make soup 
2. Add a tablespoon of oil to your soup pot and chuck in the onions, garlic and ginger and cook on a medium to high heat until it’s all starting to turn transparent.  recipes to use up leeks
3. Chop the leeks – make sure you rinse out any mud and trim off the toughest part of the leaves.

 carrot recipes 4. Peel and chop the carrots – you can leave the skins on if they’re not too gnarly – just give them a quick wash.easy soup recipes 

5. Add the leeks to the soup pot and cook out for a few minutes… carrot soup recipes 

6. …then add the carrots and stir it all together.  how to make carrot soup 
  7. Make the stock by dissolving the stock cubes in water, then add to the pot, topping up with more water if necessary. I used about a litre and a half. Put a lid on and leave to simmer on a low to medium heat for 40 minutes to an hour.  Carrot and Coriander Soup Recipe

8. Add the parsley and spices  to the pot and take it off the heat. Now it’s time to turn this hitch pitch into a smooth soup. You can do that by pouring it into a blender or by using a stick blender. I like to use a stick blender and decant the soup into a big bowl before blending to avoid getting my soup pot scratched.   

9. Add a little more water if it’s all looking too thick. I added some fresh parsely leaves at this point just to freshen things up, but you could use fresh coriander if you like it. I tasted it for seasoning and added some more ground coriander at this stage but I’ve accounted for it in the overall measurements above. Add seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and the orange juice and mix together. 

Carrot and coriander soup 10. Taste, and add anything you feel is missing. If it’s a little bland, add seasoning. If it’s not spicy enough for you, add more coriander or chilli, or if you think it needs more zest, add a splash of orange juice. Serve up and enjoy!  

Chicken Shawarma

If you love street food, a bit of spice, juicey chicken and crisp salad, this one’s for you. Make it your own with your favourite salad items, a different bread, perhaps, or ditch the yoghurt for a chutney, but this is my favourite way to eat it and my ultimate comfort food.

This is such a satisfying supper, or even a weekend lunch for friends – perfect for putting all the extras in the middle of the table and helping yourselves. It is as delicious texturally as it is flavour-wise, and I know that when I’m in the mood for nothing else, this will do the trick.

chicken shawarma feast for one

You will need (to serve 2):

8 boneless chicken thighs

4 flatbreads, wraps or pitta (I used my own recipe flatbreads which add to the preparation time but make a real difference and can be made ahead of time)

A generous salad, such as lettuce, cucumber, ribbons of carrot, crisp peppers and avocado – something to add crunch and even more texture contrast

3 cloves garlic (or 2 if they’re very large)

Thumbsize piece ginger

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/3 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sumac (a lemony Moroccan spice you can buy in the speciality section of Tesco)

Dash lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Good glug olive oil

For the curried yoghurt (can be replaced by plain yoghurt, chutney or mayonnaise in a pinch):

150ml Greek yoghurt

Dash lemon juice

Pinch salt

3 tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1. Prepare the chicken thighs by removing any fat and sinew – it’s easiest to do this with a clean pair of kitchen scissors. 
2. Grate the garlic and ginger into a medium sized bowl. Make the marinade by adding the dried spices, seasoning, lemon juice and olive oil.  how to marinate chicken 3. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix everything together. Add more oil if it’s too dry.  Set aside for as long as you can manage – at least a couple of hours, ideally, but if you’re short on time you can make your salad, yoghurt dip and set the table while the chicken soaks up the flavour. how to griddle chicken thighs

4.  Preheat the oven to 180c and put a griddle (or frying pan if you don’t have a griddle pan) onto a high heat on the hob. When it’s good and hot, place your chicken thighs onto the griddle, 4 at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan. I really enjoy cooking like this – the smell is gorgeous and you get lots of sticky caramelised edges. When one side is starting to catch, flip them over and repeat on the other side, then place on a baking tray for the oven to make sure they are cooked all the way through.

Meanwhile, mix the spices, salt and lemon juice into the yoghurt and that’s that ready for the table.  chicken shawarma recipe   5. Cook for about 20 minutes then remove from the oven. If you’re inexperienced with cooking meat , you may want to cut a piece open to check it’s cooked through. how to use up flatbreads  6. Serve up with the flatbreads, salad and yoghurt dip, and you have yourself the most wonderfully messy DIY sandwich. The flatbreads pictured are homemade (and so easy) but you can use wraps or pitta if you’d prefer something shop-bought. chicken shawarma recipe

Mango Prawns

Mangoes – once you’ve worked out a system to remove their stones and peel them, that is – are really rather delicious. They look and taste like sunshine; juicy but not too citric, beautiful in a fruit salad, delightful grilled, and nourishing puréed. We love mangoes. As it’s winter, I thought I ought to find a new way to put these to work to brighten up my supper, and this, rather satisfying little thing, is the result. Serve with noodles or rice and enjoy.

mango prawns

To feed one, you will need:

1/2 onion

1/2 red pepper

5 or 6 florets of broccoli cut into smaller sprigs for better cooking

1/2 ripe, fresh mango

Handful uncooked King prawns

1 clove garlic

3 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Dash lime juice

Splash groundnut oil

1. The first thing to do is make the marinade for the prawns. Grate the garlic into a bowl and add in the sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce and lime juice. If you don’t have sweet chilli sauce, just use a teaspoon of honey and a dash of sriracha or some chilli flakes.

2. Prepare the prawns by cleaning them and making sure there are no nasties still attached (which is actually the most time consuming part!). Dab off with some clean kitchen towel and set them in the marinade to have a nice time. Get the rice on or ready the noodles to go on in 10 minutes.
stir fry vegetable base

3. Slice the onion, pepper and broccoli and add to a large pan or wok which had a little groundnut oil heating in the bottom. Turn down to a medium heat so the vegetables are softening, not burning. Cook until the onion is soft, and the broccoli is just about done.

savoury mango recipes
4. Slice the mango into chunks,being sure to remove any skin, and add this to the pan right before the prawns are ready to go in, so that it is just heated through rather than cooked.
marinating king prawns

5. Push the veg to one side of the pan then add a little more groundnut oil. Give it time to heat then place the prawns in the oil. Pour the marinade over the vegetables and give them a quick stir. how to stir fry prawns
6. After a minute or so, check if the prawns have cooked on the first side – they should be a nice healthy pink.king prawn stir fry
7. Turn the prawns, cook until pink on the other side, then mix in with the vegetables and mango. Give it 30 seconds to come through the heat again and serve.

I served mine with some jasmine rice, but you do you!

Homemade Baked Beans (With Chorizo)

These are an absolute treat as a healthy but filling accompaniment to roast chicken, sausages, fajitas, and so on. As with most of my favourite recipes, these can be customised with whichever additions you prefer (or you can leave some things out to your taste, or if you’d like a veggie version for example). Although I’ve said this is a healthy recipe, I should caveat it by saying I included some chorizo because I thought it would add a nice extra layer of spice and depth (and because I had some in the fridge).  You could add smoked bacon instead, or pancetta, or go animal fat-free.

A big batch will keep for a week or so on the fridge, assuming you store in a sterilised airtight container. I reused a passata jar which I cleaned thoroughly and sterilised in the oven (150C for 15 minutes).

   
You will need:

1 tin chopped tomatoes 

Half jar of passata

4 shallots

1 sausage sized cooking chorizo, or a couple of rashers of bacon

1 tsp tomato purée 

1 tin cannellini beans

1 tin haricot beans

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chilli powder 

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

  
1. Finely chop the onion and chorizo. Add to as the dry teaspoon on a medium heat.

2. Cook until the shallots are soft and the chorizo has started to leak oil and take on oil. You can blot out some of the excess oil with a paper towel if you’d like. 

3. Add the tomato purée and cook out for a couple of minutes then do the same with the vinegar. 

4. Add the tomatoes, passata, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, lemon juice, mustard and spices and stir. Swirl water around in the tomato can and add this to the sauce. Stir and leave the lid half on at a simmering level for at least an hour, stirring occasionally and adding additional water as and when necessary. 

  
5. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as necessary. Rinse and add the beans. Simmer for another hour or so (the longer the better all in all) and serve or cool and store. 

  
Step away from shop bought! 

Pulled Pork

There’s nothing quite like a slow roast on a Sunday afternoon. Especially a meltingly soft, sweet, smoky, spicy, versatile pulled pork shoulder. This has had a lot of bad press recently for being too trendy and a bit past it, but I have never before summoned the courage to try making my own. It was surprisingly simple and has given me one supper and three lunches so far, using a 640g shoulder joint (the biggest I could get). A really nice change from roast chicken salad! 

 

You will need:

1 pork shoulder 

3 tsp smoked paprika

Chunk of fresh ginger, grated

3 cloves of garlic, grated

1 tsp tomato purée 

2 tsp light muscovado sugar

150ml white balsamic vinegar

Pinch dried chilli flakes 

5 shallots, chopped 

  
1. Hold back 3 shallots and the pork and combine all the other ingredients together in a bowl. 

  
2. Line a deep roasting tin well with tin foil. Cover the pork joint with the marinade, cover with foil and leave to soak in for around half an hour.

 
3. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Pour 300ml water into the tray and put the marinated pork in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn down to 160C and roast for 2 hours or so, basting every half an hour. If the tray bakes dry, add more water.   

4. Don’t worry that it looks a bit ropey, both when you put it in and when you take it out! The beauty is in the inside! Allow to cool for awhile on a dry sheet of foil and pour the juices into a bowl to settle, allowing you to skim the fat off the top. 

  
5. Chuck the rest of the chopped shallots in a frying pan with a little oil and fry on a low heat until soft and translucent. Tip in the rested juices and add in a good cup of water. Simmer until reduced and you’ll have a sweet, sticky, spicy BBQ sauce! It’s great on a roll or as a chutney with a salad.

6. Cut the fat off the pork and pull it apart with two forks – this is a bit labour intensive but it’s worth it! It’s easiest to shred the whole thing while it’s still warm. It’ll cease up once it’s been in the fridge. Be careful of any grizzle or fat though. 

  
Serve in a salad, on a roll, on a pizza or in pasta or noodles….whatever you choose! 

  

Rib Eye Steak with Oven-Baked Chips

This is a great weekend night supper. It doesn’t take that long to cook, but it’s a nice treat to cook for people you love, and to enjoy with a nice glass of red wine.

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There are a number of cardinal rules for steak:

1. Buy the highest quality beef your budget allows. I like rib eye because it’s marbled with fat which adds more flavour to the steak, but you have to heed how thick it’s been cut when you’re considering the cooking time.

2. Take it out of the fridge at least half an hour before you intend to cook it. To get flavour, you need colour, and to get colour, you need the steak to sear on the outside, not boil.

3. Season. Salt and pepper always, but I think paprika adds an extra something delicious to the mix.

4. Oil the steak on both sides after seasoning, not the pan.

5. Heat the griddle/pan until it’s smoking hot. Cook for max 2 mins each side for a medium steak (depending on the thickness). But be careful not to burn yourself like I did.

6. Rest. It might be a cliché but it’s really important to let the grain relax, preventing a chewy steak.

IMG_4045

For the chips, you need an oven as hot as you dare, about 200 – 220C should do it. Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil on a tray and pop it on the top shelf of the oven to heat. Cut a couple of large potatoes into narrow wedges and season. Once the oil is hot, chuck them in the tray, carefully toss them around and put in the oven. They should take about 30- 40 minutes to get nice and crisp, so keep an eye on them and turn once when they’re more than halfway ready.

Serve with caramelised onions, mushrooms, cubed and cooked in butter and mustard or ketchup on the side. Also great with roasted peppers!

IMG_4046