Sri Lankan beef casserole

OMG this was delicious. I used a recipe from Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey, but adapted it because I didn’t have any brisket, just stew packs. I also had some wonderful local beef to use.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg beef (preferably brisket, tied for a roast, but diced for stew works OK too)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 inch of cinnamon stick
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar, or 1 tsp lime pickle
  • 350ml stock
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250ml coconut milk.

METHOD:

  • sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper
  • Put a small heavy pan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek. Toast for 30 seconds, and then empty onto a bit of kitchen paper or teatowel. Once the spices have started to cook, crush them in a pestle and mortar.
  • Preheat the oven to gas 3, 160C.
  • Put the oil into a large casserole dish. Once the oil is hot, brown the meat on all sides, and set it aside
  • Next, fry the onion ginger, garlic and cinnamon in the same pan. Cook for around five minutes.
  • Add the vinegar, stock, cayenne pepper, 1 tsp salt and the roasted ground sices. Stir together and add the beef. Bring to the boil.
  • Cover and place in the oven for around 2 hours.
  • When the meat is tender, transfer the casserole to the hob and stir in the coconut milk.

We served this with rice, but it also goes well with potato or bread.

Carrot and coriander soup with chilli and cumin

Last weekend, a friend and I dug up the last of last year’s carrots, where they had overwintered in the ground. I froze some and I also made this soup. I kind of made it up as I went along, using some ingredients that I already had.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 400g approx chopped carrots
  • 500ml vegetable stock (or other stock)
  • 150ml sour cream
  • Juice of half a lime
  • salt and pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • A pinch of chipotle smoked pepper (from Seasoned Pioneers)

METHOD:

  • In a saucepan, fry the chilli and the onion slowly in the olive oil, until the onion is softening.
  • Add the cumin and the carrots, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Add the stock, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Take of the heat, and add the sour cream, lime juice, salt, pepper, chipotle pepper and coriander leaves.
  • Use a soup wand to make a smooth creamy soup. Add a bit of stock or water if the soup is too thick.

Serve with brown toast.

Mushroom soup with cayenne and dill (Hungarian Mushroom Soup)

My brother-in-law, John, served this to us one evening. It was only the second time we met and the soup was one of the many highlights of the evening. The taste recalls the evening around 25 years ago.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • Salt
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 pint of stock
  • 1 tsp miso (you can substitute marmite if no miso available)
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 3 tsp lemon juice

METHOD:

  • Finely chop the onion and fry gently in the oil, with 1/2 tsp salt
  • Chop the mushrooms and add to the pan
  • Add the dill, thyme, paprika and cayenne, and cover. Cook slowly for around 7 minutes.
  • Add the stock and miso and bring to a simmer for three minutes.
  • Liquidise, and add the sour cream and lemon juice.
  • Reheat without bringing to the boil.

Serve with brown bread.

Mackerel curry with fennel and coconut

This is a fab recipe in Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey – I adapted it a little, and checked quantities against reality for Uist mackerel.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 mackerel, boned and split – to make six sides with skin on.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (or equivalent chopped shallots)
  • 6 tbsp coconut milk

METHOD:

  • Cut the mackerel sides in half, and sprinkle with salt
  • Combine the ginger, garlic, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, turmeric, lime juice and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl
  • Put the oil in a large frying pan, over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the fennel seed and cook for a few seconds before adding the onion/shallots.
  • Within a few minutes, when the onions are softening,, add the bowl of spices and fry for another minute.
  • Add 250ml water, and bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low and simmer for another 7-8 minutes
  • Add the coconut milk, and bring back to a simmer
  • Add the fish, skin side down, and spoon the sauce over the fish. Continue to cook for another 7 minutes, moving the fish around and spooning the sauce over the fish.
  • Once the fish is cooked, serve with brown rice

Butternut squash with tahini sauce and meatballs.

Just testing out some of the recipes in the ‘Cook for Syria’ – some of them look quite complicated, or involve ingredients that I can’t get. This recipe was tasty, but I think the original meatball recipe in the book needs a little boost.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g minced beef
  • 50g breadcrumbs (I used panko) OR stick one slice of stale bread in a blender.
  • 2 handfuls of parsley, chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp water
  • pine nuts
  • butter

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Chop the butternut squash into cubes, season with salt and pepper, and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile put the roughly chopped onion in a blender with the parsley, and blend until the onion is finely chopped.
  • In a large bowl, mix the mince, breadcrumbs, parsley, onion, cumin, chilli, and egg yolk. Season with 1 level teaspoon of salt and a good grating of black pepper. Get your hands right into the mixture and really knead it together so that it is smooth and consistent.
  • Shape into small meatballs about the size of a ping-pong ball, and put onto a roasting tray.
  • When there is still 15 minutes left for the squash to cook, put the meatballs into the same oven, and roast the meatballs and squash for a further 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the tahini, crushed garlic, yoghurt, lemon juice and water in a bowl until it is very smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Toast the pine nuts in butter for a couple of minutes, until beginning to brown.
  • In a warmed serving dish, layer the meatballs and squash, drizzle over the tahini sauce and garnish with toasted pine nuts. The dish should be placed on the table so that guests can serve themselves.

Buckfast with Grapefruit Juice – the Perfect Serve

Another attempt to find a way to drink the Buckfast. This was pleasant. I got it from the Buckfast website. I added more grapefruit juice than they suggested. The picture on the website looks a lovely juicy orange, whereas the real thing is a dark brown.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50ml Buckfast
  • 50ml pink grapefruit juice
  • 2 dashes of orange bitters
  • Soda water

METHOD:

  • Put a lot of ice in a highball glass, pour over the ingredients in the order listed, stir and serve.

Aubergine and Chickpea Stew

This is the first recipe I have tried from the ‘Cook for Syria’ recipe book. The book is a collection of recipes from Syria, and so much more. It tells about the culture of food and sharing in Syria, builds links with people using the #CookForSyria @CookForSyria tags, and raising money for Unicef to help children affected by fighting in their beautiful country.

I served it to a visitor, and we shared a lot of stories about the ethics and politics of food. I had to make a few adaptions to fit my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 aubergines
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp za’atar (I used the mystery mixed Italian herbs, but za’atar is available from Seasoned Pioneers. )
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Chopped coriander to serve
  • Coconut vegan yoghurt, or grated creamed coconut

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Chop the aubergine into chunks. I split them length-ways into quarters and then slice thickly.
  • Put the aubergines into a roasting tin with the spices and 4 cloves of garlic, coat with olive oil and roast for 25 to 30 minutes
  • Finely chop the red onion and cook it slowly in olive oil, for around 10 minutes
  • Add 2 cloves of garlic, chopped, along with the tomatoes, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add the aubergine, chickpeas, salt, apple cider vinegar and cook until the chickpeas are hot.
  • Serve with a garnish of coriander leaves and coconut yoghurt.

I served this with rice, and we were very full afterwards

Ratatouille

I have tried many recipes for ratatouille, this is the best. I think I got it off the internet, with a promise that this was the most authentic.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 4 courgettes, halved and sliced
  • 300g french beans, cut to 1 inch lengths
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves
  • fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Salt the diced aubergines and courgettes and set aside. Rinse the salt off after 20 minutes (I do this in a colander)
  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the aubergines and courgettes, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes, and then with the lid off for 20 minutes. Keep a close eye and stir occasionally, to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This freezes OK, but it is best reheated the day after making it.

Chard Fritata

This is another classic from my old recipe book. 

INGREDIENTS;

  • 500g chard
  • 6 eggs
  • ground black pepper
  • 75g parmesan or similar hard cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

  • Wash the chard and chop roughly
  • Beat the eggs and season, and beat in the cheese
  • Heat the oil and add the chard, cook until it has wilted
  • Add the eggs, reduce the heat and cook. When the bottom of the fritata is done, put the whole pan under a grill until the top is done.

An annotation in the book: ‘This is supposed to serve two or three people, but I can finish it in one go if I am very hungry.’