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.

Dak Doritang

Another recent purchase of ours is Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo. Our only real exposure to Korean food up until now have been a few of Nigella’s recipes which call for gochujang sauce. We’ve enjoyed those, so decided to branch out into some more east-Asian recipes after our journey to Japan.

There was on extra ingredient missing for this meal which was gochugaru – Korean red chilli powder. We managed to track down a bag at one of Manchester’s great east-Asian supermarkets, and it was well worth it. The flavours of this dish were just out of this world – possibly a new favourite? It’s a nice and easy one pot recipe too.

I suppose technically this is a winter recipe – it’s English name is “warming chicken and potato stew” – but it’s so delicious it can definitely be enjoyed at any time of year.

Ishikari-Nabe (Salmon and Miso Hotpot)

We’re continuing our exploration of Japanese cooking through Kimiko Barber’s Cook Japanese at Home. This recipe uses quite a lot of miso paste, a product which we made an interesting discovery about this week.

We’ve bought miso paste in the past from Sainsbury’s – it comes in a small jar of 100g and is their own brand. It’s the only one we can get when doing an online shop with them. However, this week we were in a local Chinese supermarket and found a large jar of the stuff for the same price, made by Yutaka. You can buy it on Amazon (unfortunately at a much higher price) via this link.

The shock discovery is that the Sainsbury’s miso paste is not miso paste! The ingredient list is totally different. The smell is different. The consistency is different. The Yutaka stuff is much nicer and much, much more authentic.

THis recipe takes a little while to make but isn’t hard. Cube the potatoes and put them in a big casserole dish on the hob, along with some konbu, chopped onion, soy sauce, mirin and sake. Add a large volume of cold water and bring to the boil. Once it’s boiling, remove the konbu and simmer for about 12 minutes. Then add chopped carrot and cabbage and simmer for another 12 minutes. Finally, blend some miso and butter and add this to the mix, along with some salmon. The salmon should only take a few minutes to cook and then you’re ready to eat.

We found it a bit messy to eat – the cabbage leaves and liquid resulted in a lot of splatter – but this was a tasty, umami flavoured dish. I think I enjoyed it more than Mark did though.

Kachin Chicken Curry

What I was thinking choosing to make a curry on one of the hottest days of the year so far, I’ll never know. It’s apparently a Burmese recipe – that’s a cuisine I’m not familiar with, but it comes from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand and she’s never let us down so far.

Diana says this is a mild curry, but I didn’t have access to the dried chillies suggested so I used chilli flakes instead. Because it was the end of a jar, there was a lot of chilli “dust” and this ended up being significantly hotter than expected!

Considering the relatively short list of ingredients, the most exciting thing about this meal was the fact it smelled and tasted so authentic – normally I’d associate curry with a long list of ingredients but that’s not the case here and the meal doesn’t suffer at all.

Chicken Jambalaya

I’ve loved the food of the deep south for many, many years and every now and then I get a hankering for some good old jambalaya. Over the years I progressed from jars of sauce bought in supermarkets through to actually making things myself, but I never really found a recipe I was happy with. Tonight though, the hankering was back so I decided to give a new recipe a try and I found this one on Delia Smith’s website.

That said, I wasn’t overly impressed with the presentation of the recipe on the website. It broke the cardinal rule by listing ingredients in a different order to the one in which you need them, and there was also a mistake in that the Tabasco sauce was listed as part of the garnish when it’s actually an ingredient.

I also thought the amount of liquid added was wrong – it took much longer to reduce than the recipe said (and the recipe said leave the lid on; we ended up leaving it uncovered).

But the end result was well worth it – I’m not saying it was 100% authentic, especially given we were using chorizo instead of andouille sausage… but it was a damn good approximation.

Chicken with Potatoes and Spring Onions

Whether you call them spring onions or call them scallions, they feature heavily in this comforting recipe by Diana Henry, as published in A Bird in the Hand. It’s essentially a one pot recipe, although it follows Diana’s usual technique of sealing/browning the chicken first, setting it to one side, and then returning it later in the process.

My biggest worry in this recipe was the potatoes – there simply wasn’t that much liquid, and I wondered whether or not they would cook in such a shallow bath. Not to worry – they cooked beautifully, as did the chicken. The creme fraiche added at the end gives it a richness and creaminess, and the end result is a wonderfully soothing and comforting meal.

Lemon and Asparagus Risotto

If you like asparagus, this is the recipe for you – it involves lots of the green stuff. This recipe is quite seasonal, coming from the May chapter of Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries. I was a bit wary – lemon and asparagus isn’t a combination I’ve ever tried before – but Nigel Slater has a proven track record in our house for choosing flavour combinations which work well together.

It’s pretty standard risotto making here – fry the onion in butter, add the rice followed by a glass of white wine or dry vermouth (we used the latter). Then slowly add the chicken stock a ladle at a time, adding the asparagus part way through. Now, I was lazy here and just poured it all in – didn’t seem to affect things negatively! You also need the zest and juice of two lemons at this stage.

Before serving, stir through some freshly ground black pepper and some parmesan and you’re done. The asparagus and lemon work really well together, producing a light and bright meal which is also comforting and satisfying. Thumbs up for Mr Slater!

Sausage with Apples and Sauerkraut

I was late home from work, so whilst this recipe took 40 minutes in the oven it was still very welcome because of the virtually effortless preparation. You can find the recipe for this in John Whaite’s Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients.

Preparation is so simple it’s almost unbelievable. Put the sausages in a casserole dish with a little olive oil. Throw in some quartered apples (not peeled or cored) and onion, then bung a few sprigs of thyme on top. The whole thing then goes in the oven for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Once it’s done, top with a bit of sauerkraut and that’s it.

The taste combination is really great – apple and sausage always works well in my book. The sauerkraut gives a really nice contrast to the sweetness of the apple and onion too. Thumbs up from this hungry boy!

Chicken Forestiere

Back to Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand tonight, but it was a meal which nearly didn’t happen. This recipe calls for chicken thighs, skin on and bone in. I had a pack in the fridge and they were well within their use-by-date… but I had noticed that the fridge had an odd aroma to it. When I came to pull the chicken out, I noticed it looked a slightly odd, slightly yellowish colour and that was when I realised… the pack wasn’t airtight. With the seal broken, the chicken had spoiled.

So I flung on a pair of shoes and dashed to corner shop – no chicken thighs for sale, so I grabbed a couple of chicken breasts instead. And a bottle of wine. And some iced buns. Damn you, lack of self control!

The recipe takes a little while to put together, but it’s certainly not hard. Start by soaking some dried mushrooms in boiled water. The chicken is browned first and then set to one side. You then deglaze the pan with sherry, fry the chopped onions and add the onions and their liquid, some chicken stock and some chopped carrots. Let the whole thing simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Now add the chicken back to the pot and simmer for another 20 minutes. As it gets close to the end, fry up some button mushrooms and then add them to the pot along with some double cream and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes but this time with the cover off.

The end result is really, really unctuous and tasty. Plus it’s full of vegetables so you can claim it’s healthy!

Smoked Haddock with Braised Chorizo and Leeks

Tonight we’re trying another one of John Whaite’s Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients. Those five ingredients for tonight’s dinner are chorizo, leek, chicken stock, smoked haddock and capers.

It’s a one pot meal and is very easy to make. Fry the chorizo for a few minutes, then add the chopped leeks and fry a little bit more. Pour in the stock, then put the whole thing in the oven (covered with a lid) for about 40 minutes. Remove the lid, sit the cod on top and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Once it’s done, flake the fish into the pan and serve up with a few capers scattered over.

We added some of Mark’s homemade sourdough on the side (for “mopping up” duty) and also finished off some of the bulgur wheat salad he’d made for yesterday’s dinner. This meal of Mr Whaite’s didn’t need any accompaniment though – it was incredibly tasty and the taste far surpassed the amount of effort which went into making it. Good call, Mr Whaite.