Prawn Jalfrezi

A quick burst of heat for dinner on a cold winter’s day comes in the form of this prawn jalfrezi, the recipe for which is available online at the BBC Good Food website.

There were a few panics whilst making this – particularly when I realised we had no tinned tomatoes in the cupboard and I had to run to the corner shop on a particularly cold and windy night. The recipe also calls for you to cook the onions and spices, then add the chopped tomatoes and water and blitz with a hand blender. I tried to do this in the pan (heat turned off, obviously!) but the depth wasn’t sufficient to do without spattering so I had to decant everything to a pyrex jar, blitz it, and then put it back in the pan.

Also, the recipe called for one 400g tin of chopped tomatoes plus half a tin of water – I suspect the water wasn’t needed because our sauce was quite wet even after reducing down for a long time. The recipe said cook uncovered, but we took the lid off in an attempt to try and make things a bit thicker.

Despite that, the end result was really nice. Not a 100% authentic jalfrezi, but a nice and spicy sauce with a fresh taste.

Tagliata for Two

We’re revisiting a classic tonight, Nigella’s Italian themed Nigellissima – it’s the book which first got me into cooking properly and not just buying quiche and frozen pizza from the supermarket every week! This dinner is actually composed of two recipes from that book, but tagliata for two is the “main event”.

The meal is pretty straightforward to make. You oil some steak and then fry it, then transfer to a marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, chilli flakes and oregano. Then you remove the steak and thinly slice it, and put some chopped cherry tomatoes (I accidentally used plum) in the marinade and serve it up.

For a bit of something extra on the side, I also used Nigella’s recipe for mushrooms in garlic – nice and easy and a bit of extra vegetable on the side.

The resulting meal was nice but nothing to write home about. Trying to combine all the various elements, time got a little bit away from me and I ended up serving a fairly cold dish. Mostly my fault, but it didn’t help the end result. Nothing wrong here, just nothing all that exciting.

Chicken with Lemon, Anchovies and Rosemary

We’re back to Diana Henry’s fabulous A Bird in the Hand tonight. This book has been an absolute godsend; I don’t think there’s been a single “miss” from all the recipes we’ve cooked from it so far… and we were delighted to discover this week that she has a new book coming out (“Simple“)in a few days. If you’re curious, at the time of writing there’s a free Amazon Kindle sampler of the book.

By far the biggest question of the evening though is why Tesco feels the need to put a security tag on a £2.25 pack of chicken thighs? I set the alarm off when leaving the shop because I’d used a self service till… whoops!

It’s another easy one to cook, following a fairly regular pattern of Diana’s chicken recipes – brown the thighs first, set to one side and cook the vegetables. Then we add liquid (vermouth) and the chicken, and pop it in the oven (uncovered this time).

The end result was really tasty, but the plate was less interesting than planned because I’d intended to use potatoes as carb but we didn’t have any in, so I went with brown rice instead. I then decided to do some peas on the side, only to discover we were out of those as well. Time for another supermarket shop I think, but I need to watch out for those security tags this time.

Thai Turkey Meatballs

Another recipe from Simply Nigella today. I felt like this one deviated from her traditional style, seeming to take quite a bit more effort than others I’m used to.

I had to make a few substitutions along the way. The biggest of these was that instead of sugar snap peas I used a mix of broccoli, asparagus and sugar snaps. Why? Because we had a substitution in the online shopping! I also forgot to add the salt to the meatballs. And I also screwed up following instructions which meant that this had ribbons of courgette in rather than chopped up pieces.

One final mix up – I halved the ingredients for the two of us, but because a 400g tin of coconut milk doesn’t halve nicely I made the full amount of liquid, making this a bit wetter than it should have been.

This one seems a lot of hassle though with lots of grating and mixing – but maybe that was just me being a bit clumsy. The end result was really good though – it got a thumbs up from official food taster Mark. Nice and spicy for a cold winter’s evening.

Pasta alla Bruno

A few weeks back I cooked Chicken Cosima from Simply Nigella, a dish for Nigella’s daughter. Tonight it was her son’s turn as we tried the recipe for Pasta alla Bruno.

It’s a pretty simple dish – fry up some bacon, then add minced garlic, chopped cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes. After a little time on the hob, mix with some pasta and you’re ready to go. I upped the quantities of garlic, bacon and tomatoes to try and make it a bit more substantial for the two of us and it seemed to work.

This is a very easy dish but very satisfying. The bacon and chilli give it a really bold flavour and the pasta makes it satisfyingly filling. We were impressed with Chicken Cosima and we’re impressed by Pasta alla Bruno as well!

Sausage and Lentil Casserole

Many of our recipe books have a variant of sausage with lentils: it’s a filling dish and goes down especially well with crusty bed, a pot of dijon and an ice cold beer, though we had a glass of white wine (with a splash making it into the pan).

A One Pot Wonder tonight courtesy of Lindsey Bareham: sausage and lentil stew.

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This one is from Lindsey Bareham’s One Pot Wonders and has the distinction of a pinch of dried chilli flakes which adds just a hum of heat.

Finished lentil and sausage stew, went down well with a dollop of Dijon mustard.

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