Moussaka

Standard

moussaka 18/05/2017

A good moussaka is a joy to behold with cinnamon spiced lamb mingling with aubergines and a delicious creamy sauce. It is something I’ve always wanted to make but never have until my friends and I decided to have a Greek night. Perfect chance. I don’t know why I’ve not made one before. It’s extremely comforting and flavourful and well worth the effort.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Aubergine:

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into ¼” / ¾ cm thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 500 g lamb mince
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp plain flour
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken or lamb broth/stock, or water + 1 stock cube
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp allspice (optional)
  • Lemon zest and juice (optional)

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Topping:
  • ⅓ cup panko or fresh breadcrumbs

moussakassmoussakas

Method:

Aubergine:

  1. Sprinkle the aubergines with salt and place them (stacked) in a large colander. Leave to sweat for 30 minutes, then brush off excess salt and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Preheat oven to 200C. Lay the aubergine onto 2 large baking trays, brush with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until just softened. Remove and set aside to cool.

Filling:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat then cook the garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add the lamb and cook, using the wooden spoon to break up the mince as you go. Add the flour and herbs and stir. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, then cover, lower heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes.

Béchamel Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, using a whisk to keep it moving.
  2. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk to combine. It will thicken quite quickly. Add the remaining milk. Whisk until smooth then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until it thickens so that it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove from the stove and whisk in cheese. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then whisk the eggs in.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place half the filling in the bottom of a baking dish then half of the aubergine in a layer on top. Repeat the process with the remaining filling and aubergine.
  3. Pour over the béchamel sauce, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little extra grated cheese and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Brazilian Fish Stew – Moqueca

Standard

Brazilian-Fish-Stew_680px_4 (2) 23/04/2017

A traditional Brazilian dish of fish and bell peppers (capsicum) in a delicately flavoured coconut base broth, this stew really is quite unique.

I made this after being inspired by a visit to a Brazilian restaurant where they carved copious amounts of tender meat onto your plate quicker than you could eat it. I was in heaven. While the selection of meat was absolutely beautiful, what stood out for me most was the ‘salad bar’ that was on offer. There was a variety of Brazilian delicacies ranging from lentil salads, herb and garlic roast potatoes, black bean stew, rices, pastas, salsas, olives, garlic mushrooms, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many other things including moqueca. The spices were subtle but flavourful and the fish was welcome change from the heavy going grilled meats. I cooked up a batch for the family the day after and it was a total success.

This is actually quite refreshing rather than rich and heavy. In addition to coconut milk, the broth has in it canned tomatoes, lime juice, paprika and cumin powder. The paprika and cumin flavour is subtle, and to me, the standout is the lime flavour which cuts through the richness of the coconut milk.

The broth is quite refreshing and not too rich, unlike many strong flavoured, rich coconut based curries. I made this just using fish but it is also made as a seafood stew with prawns and calamari.

Ingredients:

Fish:

  • 3-4 salmon fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Broth:

  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, halved and sliced
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml fish or chicken broth

Finishes:

  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander

Method:

  1. For the fish: Combine the fish, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. For the broth: Heat a large pan over a medium high and add 1½ tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 1½ minutes or until the onion is starting to become translucent.
  3. Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining broth ingredients. Bring to simmer then turn down to medium.
  5. Add the salmon chunks, stir to coat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the salmon is tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir through lime juice.
  7. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice.

Baked Chorizo Dip

Standard

chorizod 23/03/2017

My rubbish phone picture really doesn’t do this dish justice but for something I rustled up out of odds and ends in the fridge, it tastes and smells incredible! The rich, spicy sauce is perfect for dunking fresh garlicky bread into.

Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooking chorizo, case removed and sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil
  • Handful of spinach
  • Strong goats cheese
  • Garlic bread, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C. Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the sliced chorizo. Cook the chorizo gently until it begins to release its oils. Flip the slices and continue to fry until beginning to brown. Drain and set aside.
  2. Discard most of the chorizo oil from the pan but keep a little to fry the garlic and peppers in until slightly softened. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, balsamic, seasoning and basil to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Put the spinach in the pan along with a dash of water and cover the pan so the spinach wilts.
  3. Return the chorizo to the pan and stir everything well to combine. Transfer to a little baking dish. Top with crumbled goats cheese.
  4. Place the dish on a baking tray long with some garlic bread and bake in the oven for 12 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the garlic bread is crispy.
  5. Remove from the oven and try to resist the temptation of shoving it in your mouth instantly. This will result in searing pain although it would be totally justified and expected once you smell how amazing this is!

This dish would work really well with any bread or even as a stir through sauce for pasta as the meaty juices would combine beautifully.

Slow-Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu

Standard

screenshot_2016-10-17-22-20-21-11 17/10/2016

Slow cooked tender beef that pulls apart in a delicious herby, winey, rich tomato sauce intertwines with buttery cheesy pasta for a proper comfort meal that’s packed with flavour. This recipe makes a huge amount and if you do have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ pounds beef shin, in 2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves for garnish
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thickly sliced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 400g can peeled whole cherry or plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound pappardelle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

screenshot_2016-10-17-22-15-51-11

Method:

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper to taste. Place a heavy cast iron pan over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef. Stir until beef is well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary and sage sprigs, onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring contents of pot to a simmer. Place in an oven preheated to 140C, covered, or on the stove over the lowest heat for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Using two forks, shred the meat and vegetables. Discard herb stems. Loosely cover pan and return it to low heat to keep warm.
  4. Place a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat to bring to a boil. Add pappardelle to boiling water. As it cooks, scoop out 1/2 cup water and reserve. Cook pasta to taste then drain well. Return pasta to pot and add butter and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; mix gently until butter has melted. Add a little reserved cooking water to loosen.
  5. To serve, lift pasta into each of six shallow bowls. Spoon beef ragù over top. Sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of rosemary, and a spoonful of cheese.

Lebanese Turkey Meatballs & Cous Cous

Standard

screenshot_2016-10-09-21-52-38-11 09/10/2016

Another brilliant meatball recipe! This time it’s succulent turkey flavoured with rich spices that taste like you’ve been slaving in the kitchen for hours. Really simple to make, this is a real treat and a lovely change from regular spaghetti and meatballs (not that there’s anything wrong with those).

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • ⅔ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 onion, finely grated
  • ⅓ cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 Tbsp. (6 cloves) garlic
  • 2 tsps. each salt, sugar
  • 1 tsp. each allspice, coriander, chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin, fennel seeds

Sauce:

  • 1 Tbps. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsps. (4 cloves) garlic, grated
  • 1 can good quality crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. each black pepper, cinnamon, allspice

Instructions:

Meatballs:

  1. Combine meatball ingredients and mix well with your hands.
  2. Roll into golf ball size meatballs and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Preheat oven grill to medium-high and place rack in the centre.
  4. Grill meatballs 5 minutes.

Sauce:

  1. Start making the sauce by heating oil in a medium cast iron pan on medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a rolling boil.
  5. Add meatballs. Cover and reduce heat to medium/low.
  6. Simmer 15 minutes. Serve with fluffy cous cous.

Fresh Tomato, Cucumber & Red Onion Chutney

Standard

screenshot_2016-09-16-18-36-15-11 22/09/2016

This isn’t really a recipe but is really lovely served as a fresh and vibrant side for any curry. It’s great slathered on poppadoms as a starter or a snack and provides a welcome break from the rich heaviness of many curries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 3 thick slices of cucumber, diced
  • Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • A few mint leaves, chopped
  • A pinch of cumin and chilli powder
  • A squeeze of lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste.

Tip: Season with salt when ready to serve as the salt will draw the moisture from the chopped veggies.

Saag Paneer

Standard

screenshot_2016-09-16-18-35-12-11 17/09/2016

Saag paneer is a classic Indian dish of cooked spinach studded with cubes of fried paneer cheese. Thickened with cream, yoghurt or coconut milk, it’s a hearty and filling vegetarian meal.

Serves 2 as a main -4 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 8oz fresh spinach leaves, washed
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 7fl oz water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 Tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 200g paneer, cut into cubes

Method:

  1. Cook the wet spinach leaves in a tightly covered pan for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and roughly chop the spinach. Add the chopped spinach, ginger, garlic and chilli with a little of the measured water into a bowl and mix. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, add the bay leaves and pepper and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and fry for 6-8 minutes or until the onion has browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the curry powder, methi seeds, salt and chilli powder. Cook for 2 minutes over a medium heat, stirring a couple of times. Add the Spinach mix and the remaining water. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the yoghurt a tablespoon at a time and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  5. Add the paneer to a frying pan over medium heat and cook until beginning to brown then turn the cheese cubes and repeat on all or most sides. Add the browned paneer to the sauce and stir to coat. Serve with chapatti or paratha to dunk into the lovely sauce.

To skin the tomatoes, score a cross in the tops, place in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave this for about 5 minutes, drain and the skins will be easy to peel away. You can leave them on but the sauce will have hard chewy strands in it and this step is definitely worthwhile for a velvet smooth sauce.