Hmm... that's a fair few of us who like pie AND curry.
fancy a spot of that fancy fusion cuisine?
Ladies and jellyspoons, may I present...
The CURRY PIE!!
OH. MY. curry pie.
This was something Dominic dreamed up a while ago. We both love pie and peas (as in mushy) but being fans of spicy food and with a serious addiction to tarka dahl, what could be better than a curry pie with a dollop of dahl?
If you wanted to make these it's really easy. Cook up a batch of your favourite curry - ours is a Madhur beef one with lots of roasted and ground coriander seeds and coconut milk - and the only tweaking involved adding some slaked cornflour near the end to thicken it up to a pie filling consistency.
Buy some ready made, chilled shortcrust pastry (make it easy on yourself!)and some foil pie tins.
Here they are sans lid.
what we do once the lids are cut out is we sprinkle mustard seeds and cumin seeds on top and gently press in with the rolling pin. Looking at my hand here I can totally sympathise with Lucy in her latest post!
Anyway, I digress...
So, the lids once on, look like this.
Don't forget to cut little slits for the steam!
We then freeze these - along with batches of dahl - again, a Madhur recipe, so that on cold winter days we can take out of the freezer in the morning, with nothing more to do but to shove in the oven when we get in after work. How satisfying.
There is something quite bizarre and utterly gorgeous about the short, crisp, buttery pastry and the rich, spicy filling that is just...mmmm...and with dahl on the side as a carb and to add extra comfort, what could be better on a horizontal raining day? I reckon these would go down a treat on bonfire night too :-)
I am trying to restock the freezer with batch cooked goodies at the moment and would love to hear what others cook up for their freezers.
If anyone would like the recipes for the curry and the dhal I am but an email click away :-)
Don't worry, I haven't gone mad and started buying actually ready meals. Even though I have been really busy recently and the last week in particular has been a total whirl, I haven't been that bad!
This is one of the beauties of batch cooking and leftovers. Here we have Peposo, a Jamie Oliver recipe (love him, did I say already? Yes? Oh good) from this book which I batch cooked a while ago along with red cabbage and some root vegetable mash, both of which were salvaged from cooking too much.
I thought this meal, grabbed from the freezer one morning last week and gratefully heated and eaten that evening, fitted in well with my current crusade to cook economically and not to waste food. The Peposo uses shin, a very cheap and tasty cut of meat and the rest, well, cheap as chips (as Jamie would say) and all vegetables bought from my local green grocer.
And when you are sat slaving away at your desk, mobile in one hand, mouse in the other, the thought that this is waiting for you at home is just enough to get you through.
I love autumn and everything about it. The colours, smells, that snappiness in the air, the strong sunshine followed by the weaker, watery kind of late afternoon, the mist in the mornings, the return of porridge (more later) ah…was there ever a better season than autumn? It’s rich and abundant and there is so much that is yummy in the produce of the season. It’s a time for cosy food, eaten by candlelight as the rain lashed down or the fog rolls in.
There’s no need to let healthy eating go completely out of the window, but it is the season to indulge in hearty food, soul food that takes the chill from your bones and gives you the strength and fortitude to face dark early mornings, commuting in the wind and rain and the start of Christmas shopping (first present bought yesterday – Helen, you are a lucky girl!)
So, what did I make for dinner last night? Well, I am having a love affair with sage right now, it’s the very essence of cold weather cooking for me and I think would be my dessert island herb. I love the robust, aromatic flavour and the way that it stands up to fierce temperatures and even crisps up for a deeper, more mellow flavour. So here we have it.
Pork and squash tray roast with pancetta and sage.
Two pork chops or loin steaks
6 slices of pancetta
16 sage leaves
half a medium butternut squash, chopped into inch cubes
a red onion, cut lengthways into 8 chunks
8 garlic cloves, still in their papery skin
some olive oil
salt and pepper
splash of dry sherry
100ml chicken stock
pre heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Take your pork and put 4 leaves of sage on one side of each. Lay the pancetta over, holding the sage to the meat and then flip over in your hands, add 4 more leaves of sage and wrap the pancetta round. The pancetta gives a rich saltiness to the dish and really perks up the soft pork flavour. Place in a strong roasting tin, crossed pancetta side down. Add the squash, garlic and red onion to the tray, placing around the meat. Drizzle the veg with olive oil and season the whole thing with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 40 mins or until the veg is soft and the pork is cooked. It’s nice if you manage to get some crisp edges to your veg but depending on how much juice comes out of the pork and the squash this isn’t always possible and isn’t necessary.
Take the vegetables and pork out of the tin, put on a plate and keep warm back in the oven. You should have the juices, the garlic and oil still in the roasting tin. Squash the garlic so the roasted cloves pop out of their skins. Pick the skins out with fingers. Lick fingers. Put the tray over the heat on your stove top. Add the stock and the sherry (about 50mls will do) and simmer. The sauce will become syrupy very quickly. Remove from heat.
Arrange the meat and veg on warmed plates and pour over the gravy. Serve with mulled red cabbage. Eat at the table, by candlelight, with no TV. Have a conversation about autumn flavours and get planning your next meal!
As the weather improved recently (ok, slightly improved) it was time to dust of the BBQ and get into some outdoor cooking. I am a bit of a snob about BBQs; I don’t want to eat burnt sausages (mainly because I don’t really like them) or shop bought burgers in soggy buns. I like to use the BBQ as a way of getting a different flavour onto meats, fish and veggies and to enjoy the opportunity to eat outside for a change. It is a well known fact that food always tastes better in the fresh air. Oh and that you’ll sleep better after being outdoors for a while…well, so I was told as a child and it works for me!
Many people’s experience of BBQs is in a crowd, people have them in the summer and invite a whole load of people round for a big party. Which is great and I love them and it’s a fun and relatively easy way of feeding a group. However, I am also a fan of the BBQ for two, and we often have them just the two of us, especially on a Friday evening in the summer when we can just relax and take our time.
We don’t have a garden or glamorous patio but we do have quite a sweet backyard, a tiny area really, but it isn’t overlooked, has a tree and enough room for 2-4 people to sit out on a little decked area and space for a BBQ. And as everything looks better with a couple of candles here we go.
The first thing I did was make up a sauce. Dom decided what the base of this should be and I tweaked it with a few bits and pieces to make it extra yummy. This is like the sort of BBQ sauce you get in restaurants etc, sweet, sticky, with a bit of warmth.
I’m not going to give a ‘recipe’ of how to make this, as it’s really just BBQing chicken which I am sure you know how to do. The sauce recipe is below however and just wanted to say that we used organic free-range chicken breasts. I know it’s a bit dull everyone banging on about organic etc but it really does taste better and frankly in the case of chicken if it isn’t free range I am not eating it - battery chicken is cruel and if that weren’t enough it actually doesn’t taste that good either. I try to find organic in the reduced section of supermarket chillers and squirrel it away in the freezer for an occasion such as this.
This makes enough for two but if you were having a few people round it can easily be multiplied, just don’t add so much chilli. You can also marinade the meat in a bit of balsamic vinegar and some olive oil to tenderise the flesh – as little as one hour will do it but you can also do before work and leave it all day in the fridge quite happily.
The method is simple, just cook the chicken for a few mins on each side to get I going and then start to baste it with the sauce using a pastry brush or similar. Keep basting and turning until chicken is cooked right through. Its best to have this a few inches away from the coals and cook more slowly to allow the sauce to build up and so it catches in places but doesn’t burn too much.
We then carved the chicken into slices and ate in ciabatta bread, with fresh salad leaves from the allotment, some garlic mayonnaise and a nice glass of shiraz. It felt good to be finally sat outside in the twilight eating something delicious (ethical!) and so easy to make.
I would love to hear about other people's BBQ sauces and recipes. what's the best thing you have ever cooked on a BBQ?
This dish has been inspired by both Saint Delia and my colleague Gillian. I was looking for something worthy of celebrating our friend Sunila’s birthday and that I could do as a week day meal without killing myself. It did mean that I had to nip home mid afternoon and turn the oven on but hey, when you can drive to home and back in 15 minutes it’s no great hardship.
I should also explain that this dish and the occasion of eating it with Sunila and Dom is the culmination of a year long campaign by them to get me to eat lamb. It is their very favourite meat and it annoyed them greatly that I refused to share in their pleasure. Because I am such a good wife and friend and let’s face it, a total people pleaser, I have been on a mission to like lamb and have been trying it every so often so that it got to the point, the tipping point, where I decided that it was actually quite delicious. Prior to this, I even went so far as to say it was ‘yucky’ and ‘smelled disgusting’ and that I would ’never, never eat it’. Well, I am now eating my words. And the lamb.
Mediterranean Lamb Shanks with Cannelini Beans
4 lamb shanks
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
A handful of thyme
4 sprigs of rosemary
6 anchovy fillets
1 bottle of red wine
1 can of chopped tomatoes
6 strips of pancetta
2 cans of cannelini beans
1tsp corn flour
Put veggies and herbs in the bottom of a large casserole dish (must have a lid, more later).
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or the equivalent.
Put the lamb shanks on top, nestling them in together. Drop the pancetta, snipped up over the top and the anchovy fillets. Plop over the tinned tomatoes and the finish by pouring the whole bottle of red wine over. The lamb should be mostly covered with liquid but it’s fine for the shanks to poke out a bit. Liberally grind black pepper over. No need for salt as the ‘chovies do that job for us, and as we all know we need to eat less salt…
Cover the dish with foil tightly and the put the lid on. Put in oven for at least 4 hours, but 6 is better.
About 45 mins before you intend to eat, add the beans and take out a few ladles of stock to reduce to a sauce in a pan. Add some slaked corn flour – about 1 teaspoon of flour in about a tablespoon of water will do the trick – and add to the sauce.
Serve each person with a shank, some of the beans and veggie mix and some of the thickened sauce. We had this with fine green beans which looked great on the plate (as you can see!) and big glasses of red wine.
What was great about this dish is that it was so easy, very little prep and it really just makes itself, using ingredients that practically leap off shelves they are so easy to find. You could skip the sauce making stage and just serve the liquor like a broth around the shank too. The loveliness of the taste is inversely proportionate to the amount of time and effort needed. One of those dishes that you feel slightly guilty for being praised so highly for (or is that just me?) but as a self confessed people pleaser, let’s just say I got my fix!
Let me start by saying the title is a slight untruth as for me, the ultimate steak sandwich is one with venison. However, we have been so hectic recently that we haven’t had the chance to visit our game butcher. This beef sirloin in the sandwich pictured is from Radford’s in Sleights, best butcher we know and their meat is fabulous. If you are ever in North Yorkshire, check them out, well worth the visit.
Dominic and I have experimented with what makes up the ultimate steak sandwich. Different marinades and rubs, different bread, selection of leaves, accompaniments. We now think we have it perfected. Here goes.
Firstly, prepare a rub for the steak. We put about a handful of fresh thyme and about 20 peppercorns in our spice grinder with one clove of garlic. You could use pestle and mortar but frankly we are lazy and have the grinder so… add some oil too to loosen.
Rub this over the steak. We reckon you need about 300g of steak for 2 decent sized sarnies. We generally get one big one and beat it out a little so is about 10mm thick. It gets chopped up into slices anyway. Just use knuckles to press and squidge it a bit thinner, no need for a meat tenderiser. It’s important that the steak has been out of the fridge for a couple of hours so that it is room temperature. Once the rub is on, just leave it.
And so to the onions. I think it’s important to use red onions as they give a better flavour. I use 2 medium sized ones as they cook down so much. Peel and cut in half and then into thin strips or half moons, whatever you prefer. Add a splash of olive oil to a large frying/ sauté pan and bring to heat. Add the onions, stir and coat and then turn the heat down so the onions cook down slowly. When at the stage of darker stickiness add either a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or about 100ml of red wine. Raise the heat and reduce the liquid so the onions absorb and coat. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of unrefined granulated sugar too. Set aside in a bowl. Don’t chill.
For bread, it was tricky to decide. I prefer oven crisp baguettes, either something very fresh from a bakers, like ficelle or the ones you bake yourself in the oven are acceptable substitute (I’m sure somewhere a bread snob is about to shoot me down in flames, but I like them, so sue me). Dominic prefers the allure of a ciabatta. So you decide! The bread must be oven warm though so refresh in the oven if necessary.
And now for the secret ingredient. We cannot have a steak sarnie without this. It’s impossible. Tesco’s (sorry, I know, the evil empire) Finest range smoked garlic mayonnaise. God it’s good. And a perfect accompaniment to the steak and the onions.
When cooking the steak, well, it depends how you like it. Since throwing off my 25 year mantle of vegetarianism (WHAT was I thinking!!) I have embraced the rarest of meats and love my steak between blue and rare. Dom is a rare man (in many ways) so we work together well on steak sharing. Those with less compatible partners or friends will have to divide the steak before cooking. We cook the steak for 45-50 seconds each side. Resting is important, between two hot dinner plates, one overturned on the other.
Meanwhile assemble the sandwich. Slather the mayo on the bread, add the onions. Have the salad at the ready (rocket leaves only please). Cut the meat against the grain into 5mm thick slices. Arrange on top of the onions. We tried putting the onions on top of the steak but it’s tricky and frankly it makes no difference to the taste. Then add a generous amount of rocket, close the sandwich, stand back and admire. There really are only two acceptable drinks, a large glass of red (a gutsy shiraz or a fruity Italian) or an ice-cold beer. Ahhh!!
The pepperiness of the steak, the sweet and mellow onions, freshness of the rocket, the smoky, richness of the mayo and finally the crisp yet soft texture of the bread. Can it get any better than this?
Sit facing each other to share the joy and eat greedily. Make sure you have a napkin. Smile and sigh.