Thai Green Fish Curry

This recipe comes from Nigel Slater’s The 30 Minute Cook, a book which has yielded many successful recipes – but I can’t recommend this particular dish.

I think the first mistake was my choice of fish – plaice – which just sort of dissolved into the sauce as it cooked. The end result felt like we were just eating sauce with nothing in it.

The other problem was the creamed coconut which gave the whole dish a really gritty feel. Maybe I used an inferior brand of creamed coconut (I’ve no frame of reference). Maybe it’s because I skipped the step to strain the liquid through a muslin cloth… but to be honest if you have to do that then this is getting away from the kind of convenience I expect from a 30 minute meal.

On top of all that, my sauce split. Sad face.

Chicken Korma

We’ve not yet made anything from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand which hasn’t been anything short of delicious. That said, we’ve tried lots of recipes for curries over the years and often find that there’s something missing… so we were curious to see what Diana’s recipe for chicken korma turned out like.

First thing you need to know here is that this recipe takes a long time. I think end to end I was probably in the kitchen for about 2 hours. This is because there are quite a few separate things you need to do, some of which take quite a lot of time. You have to salt some chopped onions and leave them to drain for 30 minutes; you also have to soak some saffron for a long time… none of it is especially hard, but there are just a lot of things keep track of.

You also have to use the food processor a few times – firstly you fry the onions and then you have to blitz them into a paste. Separately you have to soak some nuts in hot water and then blitz those into a separate paste. It’s certainly enough to keep you busy!

But as I said none of this is hard, and the end result is definitely worth it. Is it the most authentic tasting curry I’ve ever made? Hmmm… probably not, but it’s tough to say with a korma because it’s such a rich rather than spicy dish. It certainly tasted close to the real thing, and it certainly tasted delicious. Time consuming, but worth the effort.

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.

Chicken and prawn xinxim

Yet another Diana Henry recipe today from A Bird in the Hand, and it’s a spicy one!

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I’d never heard of xinxim before but it sounded like an interesting recipe and I’m absolutely delighted that I tried it. The whole dish was a spicy delight – I’m not sure why, but it seems that added ground nuts to curry type dishes really works well (I’m thinking of the peanut stew which we made a while back).

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Blakean Fish Pie

Tucked away in the Dinner chapter of Nigella’s How to Eat you’ll find this recipe.

Most of the recipes in this part of the book are for large groups of people and consist of suggestions for several courses, but right at the end of the chapter there are some ideas for quick suppers, of which this is one. Apparently the term “Blakean” is referring to the colour of the dish which is rather yellow. Nigella gets this using powdered saffron but we just used some saffron from the cupboard and mixed it in – we got a yellow colour but perhaps not as vibrant as the powdered version would have offered.

This isn’t a complicated recipe – it’s a pretty standard fish pie with the added excitement of the colouring. Ours could have done with a little longer in the oven (the potato topping could have been crispier), and I had a bit of trouble with quantities which made the whole thing a bit more liquid than desirable, but it was a tasty and comforting dinner which really hit the spot.

Bangers with Mustard Mash

Some comfort food here from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries.

It’s going a bit far to call this a recipe really – you basically just cook the sausages as expected and make some mashed potato. The trick is adding the cream and mustard to the mash which gives it a richer and more interesting flavour – plus the wholegrain mustard adds a little bit of extra texture as well.

There’s not much can go wrong here. We served it up with some peas for a hearty and warming supper.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe is another opportunity to use up some leftover chicken from a recent roast – the recipe is from Nigella’s fabulous book, Kitchen.

Long story short, it’s nice and tasty but we love roast chicken leftovers and the flavour of the chicken was a bit lost on this meal. That’s not to say we wouldn’t have it again… just that if you’ve got some roast chicken going spare then there are other recipes which show it offer to its full potential (Diana Henry’s bird pie being my absolute favourite!).

Potatoes and Peppers

Time for a veggie option, this time coming from Nigel Slater writing for the Guardian. The ingredient list is nice and simple – potatoes, peppers, garlic and chicken stock.

Cut the peppers into big strips first and fry them so they soften a little. Then fry the sliced potatoes so that they brown a little, throw in the garlic and the chicken stock with the peppers and let the whole thing simmer and reduce. You end up with beautifully soft potatoes and a tangy garlicky sauce – this is comfort food at its best.

Halloween Sausage Stew

With Halloween approaching, this hearty stew looked like a good contender. We found it on the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website, but their version looks much better than ours because they go to the effort of decorating tortilla pieces to look like gravestones and using herbs to create a grass effect. Voila – a graveyard for dinner!

It’s a quick and easy meal to knock out. First brown the sausages, then cook the other ingredients and once it’s all simmering add the sausages back in and leave it to simmer. With all that simmering it takes quite a while to cook but it’s a very “hands off” affair with virtually no effort required and very little washing up is generated either.

Honey mustard chicken with salsa and beans

This recipe is weirdly both a lot of hassle, and almost none whatsoever. There is a long list of ingredients, it takes a long time to make, and it’s technically three different dishes. But at the same time, each individual dish is pretty easy to make. This recipe comes from the ever fabulous Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand.

The first thing is the chicken, which has to sit in its marinade – ideally for a few hours. The marinade is olive oil, vinegar, chilli, dijon mustard and garlic, so it’s pretty easy to throw together. It’s also recommended to put some slits in the chicken flesh so that the flavours can penetrate.

Once its had its time, it goes in the oven in a casserole dish for about 45 minutes. Actually, I found this to be a little too long and the skin of the bird burnt – but maybe I should have just been more on the ball with my basting.

The second thing to make is the black bean mix. This is also really easy – basically just a few ingredients stir fried together and sat in some orange juice and chicken stock whilst it reduces down. The orange juice is the star here – don’t be tempted to skip it!

Finally, just before you’re ready to serve, the last bit to make is the avocado salsa which is also really easy – basically just some chopped avocado and tomatoes with a couple of extra ingredients. Easy peasy.

We also served it up with some toasted tortilla for a bit of extra carb. Mark was late home for this meal, so it worked quite well with all the dishes on the go – the chicken could sit in its marinade, and then go to the oven about an hour before he was due back; the black beans simmer for part of that cooking time, and then when he comes through the door I quickly throw together the salsa and tortillas.