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.

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.

Jjampong (Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup)

It’s another Korean recipe tonight from Our Korean Kitchen, and another chance to try out cooking with gochugaru powder. Despite being a seafood dish, there’s quite a lot of meat in here in the form of two pork loin steaks. Technically it’s supposed to include some shell-on mussels, but because we were cooking for two instead of four, I just bought a pack of mixed seafood from the supermarket rather than buying lots of different things.

Cooking is surprisingly easy and – apart from the noodles themselves – this is a one pot meal which doesn’t generate much washing up. Fry the powder first, then add the pork and carrot and fry some more. Now add the onion, garlic, grated ginger and mushrooms for a bit more frying, before finally adding some light soy sauce, fish stock and the seafood. Let it bubble and then serve with the noodles.

The most striking thing about this dish is the bright red colour of the sauce. It’s delicious and spicy but not overwhelming; we continue to be impressed with Korean cuisine (or at least our attempts at it!).

Quick Fish and Fennel Stew

This is another quick and fairly healthy meal from the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website. The recipe is for four people, but we made a batch for two people by excluding the cod fillets (it already has salmon and prawns in) and cutting down on the volume of stock slightly.

It’s an easy recipe – fry the onion, garlic and fennel. Then add the liquid – tomatoes, stock and saffron which has been soaking in water. Finally add the fish and prawns and simmer for a bit. Served with some toast, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and rubbed with raw garlic.

The end result was… OK. It was pleasant enough, but the meal looked more interesting than it actually tasted. As we ate it, the flavour (such that there was) grew on me, but Mark wasn’t impressed and ended up leaving most of his.

Speedy Seafood Supper

This one’s quick, simple and easy. The name’s a little misleading because it’s basically a seafood soup, but with some crusty bread on the side it’s enough for a hearty meal. You can find this one in Nigella Kitchen.

Bread and butter. Lots of butter.

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Jambalaya

I fell in love with New Orleans as a teenager after discovering the first Gabriel Knight computer game. Then when I went to University, one of the first “successful” meals I made for myself was jambalaya – albeit with a jar of “creole cooking sauce” from the supermarket. It wasn’t until much later in 2011 that I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans and try genuine cajun cooking.

This recipe for jambalaya comes from One Pot Wonders and although Mark has cooked from that book a few times, this is the first time I’ve tried it.

Jamabalaya’s incredibly easy to cook – fry the onions and garlic, add the celery and pepper plus the spices and then the chicken. Then add rice, chorizo (although it should probably be andouille but that’s harder to find in the UK) tomatoes and stock and simmer for 20 minutes before adding some prawns which have been sat in tabasco sauce for a while. Cook the whole lot for another 10 minutes and you’re done.

Store Cupboard Paella

With half a chorizo left from the scallops and chorizo and tomatoes from the Looni Halloumi last week, we fancied putting together a paella. A tasty way to use up odds and ends, the key is to cook it low and slow on the gas burner, topping up with chicken stock if it looks in danger of drying out.

Left over tomatoes and chorizo give two hungry boys a hankering for store cupboard paella.

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Made enough for seconds too!

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