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.

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.

Spiced Vegetarian Paella

We’ve done quite a few recipes from the Thrive on Five book, but recently discovered that there are some more recipes listed on their website, including this one for spiced paella.

The premise is the same – one meal containing your five portions of vegetables for the day. I was particularly intrigued to see how paella could work without chorizo though!

Things didn’t get off to a great start though when I realised there were no cherry tomatoes in the fridge and we’d used the last chilli. By way of compromise, I threw in an onion for extra vegetables, and found a dried and smoked chipotle chilli which was brought into service.

There was another mistake too, when I decided it wasn’t spicy enough and added some chilli flakes, but the lid came off the jar and I added far too many!

The resulting meal though worked surprisingly well. There were definitely some strong paella-style flavours here – helped, no doubt, by the saffron – and the spiciness didn’t overwhelm. I’d still prefer a meaty paella, but with all the health in this one I can’t really complain.

Casa Lucio’s Chicken with Garlic

Diana Henry describes this recipe as “more than the sum of its parts” and she’s right. We made it with skinless thighs rather than the bone on version she suggests, but it didn’t seem to suffer from that or the fact that we reduced the quantity substantially to feed just the two of us.

The chicken is fried in some oil first, then drained and set aside. Chopped garlic is then fried, and some sherry vinegar and sherry is added and brought to the boil. A pinch of saffron is optional, but we added it because we love the stuff.

The chicken then gets added back to the liquid and tossed around a bit until glossy. We then served it up with some new potatoes and peas.

The amazing thing for us with this recipe was how a small amount of garlic produced an amazing amount of flavour – Mark didn’t believe me when I told him there were only two cloves involved! If you’re interested in checking this one out, it’s in Diana’s book, A Bird in the Hand.

30 Minute Paella

After the messy, complicated and ultimately disappointing tofu ramen the other night, I was regretting having chosen another recipe from Homemade By You, but they’ve redeemed themselves. We’ve always been huge fans of paella, so their promise of a 30 minute version was very appealing.

This recipe is super easy to make. Fry the chorizo, then put in a bowl. Fry the onion, then the pepper (keeping the lid on the pan so that they ‘sweat’) before adding paella rice, chicken stock and saffron. Simmer for a bit with the lid off, then a bit more with the lid on. Add the seafood and chorizo and cook a bit more, then add some frozen peas and cook for a bit longer. Squeeze over some lemon and you’re done.

OK, so it’s not a truly authentic version but it definitely has all the right flavours and made for a very satisfying dinner. The Homemade By You website is back in our good books.

Makeshift Mushroom Risotto

The plan for tonight was to make a mushroom risotto using the description in Nigel Slater’s Appetite as a starting point. Unfortunately I found that the most fundamental of ingredients – an onion – was absent from our cupboards…

So I decided to improvise, but when I described to Mark what I had done he just laughed.

  • In the absence of onion, I used a stick of celery for bulk;
  • Because celery is nothing like onion, I also added lots of garlic – in my head, I was thinking that garlic is shaped more like onion, so it’s a step in the right direction;
  • But this still leaves us without onion flavour, so I threw in some long out of date onion granules which I found in the back of the cupboard;
  • And just to be on the safe side I threw in porcini mushrooms as well as the regular mushrooms I’d been going to use.

Did it work? Well, it wasn’t horrible. It was quite nice actually, but it wasn’t the risotto that I’d planned and it was a pretty hideous brown colour. Not convinced we’ll be making this exact recipe again any time soon.

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.