We were given a marrow, a vegetable that I am not that confident with. We made stuffed marrow rings, and I didn’t get it right, so you’ll need to wait for a more successful version. Just to say that the marrow was not well-cooked. The redeeming feature was this stew, which I made to be the stuffing. We ended up eating it with couscous.
- 250g chicken
- 1 onion
- 1 green pepper
- 250g mushrooms
- vegetable oil
- 1 can chopped tomatos
- 500ml stock
- 2 tsp cornflour (I mixed marigold stock powder with the cornflour before adding water)
- salt and pepper
- a good pinch of paprika
- a good handful of chopped mint and dill (or 1 tsp each of dried mint and dill)
- Prepare all the ingredients. Chop the chicken into small pieces. Chop the onion finely. Core the pepper, remove the seeds and slice. Prepare the mushrooms and slice coarsely.
- Heat the oil in a casserole dish, and when it is hot, gently fry the onion and peppers until soft.
- Add the chicken and mushroom, and fry for a further 4 minutes or so until the chicken is sealed.
- Meanwhile, mix a little stock with the cornflour to make a smooth paste, and then add the paste back to the stock and mix.
- Add the tomatoes to the chicken in the pan, and bring to a simmer
- Add the stock, paprika, salt and pepper and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the stew starts to thicken.
- Cover the casserole and cook in a moderate oven for 20 minutes max.
Serve with couscous and garnished with chopped herbs, such as parsley and dill.
Last Christmas was the Christmas of Gin. I’ve just opened the bottle from my sister Louise, very nice Dockyard Gin. It came with a recipe for Elderflower Collins. Very good.
- 50ml gin
- 25ml lemon juice
- 25ml elderflower cordial
- 10ml simple syrup, or to taste
- Soda water, or sparkling water
- In a tall glass, over ice, add the cordial, syrup, lemon juice and gin, and stir together.
- Top up with soda and garnish with lemon peel.
I mentioned the large quantities of jam in our house to Spaid, and he started reminiscing about rhubarb jam, the best jam in the world if you come from the Hebrides. I made some, adds good vibes to work.
- 1 kg summer rhubarb, chopped into very small segments
- 25 g crystalised ginger
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 kg jam sugar
- Chop the rhubarb and put it in the jam pan, with the finely chopped crystalised ginger, and the lemon juice. Pour the sugar over the top. Leave the mixture overnight.
- The next day, heat the rhubarb and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved, and then quickly bring to a fast boil, and boil until setting point is reached.
- Pour into warmed jars.
This is a delicious recipe, you can use it with just about any seafood you like. We made it with some fish that Hector gave us, and some squat lobsters. Any mixture of fillets of white fish, mussels, prawns, etcetera could be used. I started with a recipe in ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. A few adaptations were made – I want to use local fresh seafood, and good cooking tomatoes are not always available.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 fennel bulbs, cut into thin segmental wedges
- 1 large firm-fleshed potato such as Maris Piper, or 200g of any waxy potatoes, cut into 1.5cm cubes.
- 700 ml fish, vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/2 a medium preserved lemon, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- a pinch of saffron
- chopped fresh parsley
- mixed prepared seafood – enough for four people, around 600g
- 3 tbsp raki or similar spirit
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- salt and pepper
- Put a wide casserole dish over a low heat, and add the olive oil, and gently fry the garlic for a couple of minutes
- Add the fennel and potato, and cook for a further three to four minutes
- Add stock, preserved lemon, a pinch of salt and black pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 12 minutes, until the potatoes are done.
- Add the chilli, tomatoes, paprika, saffron, half the parsley, tarragon, and cook through for another few minutes. Add the raki and bring to the boil.
- Add the seafood, and enough boiling water to cover, bring back to the boil and cover, cooking fast for three to five minutes, until the fish is just done.
- Serve over couscous, garnished with chopped parsley.
The original recipe suggests taking out the seafood once it is cooked , and then adding the raki, reducing the sauce then adding the fish back in. I didn’t have the patience.
We had some white fish in the freezer, so I had another go at making this, from a recipe book called Moro. The first time I made it, the fish was wildly over-cooked, so it is adapted to take cognisance of the random bits of fish we sometimes get.
- Approximately 600g fish – white fish fillets, prawns, etcetera
- A bag of approx 20 small salad potatoes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 15 cherry tomatoes
- 4 green peppers
- 2 tbsp oily black olives
- 100ml water
- salt and pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 bunch fresh coriander
- 1 tbsp olive oil.
- Make the marinade. Crush the garlic to a paste with the salt.
- Add the cumin and paprika, and continue to crush together, adding the other ingredients until reasonably well blended.
- Cut the fish into portions
- Mix about two thirds of the marinade mix with the fish, cover and set aside.
- Next, prepare the other ingredients:
- Boil the new potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes, then drain, cool and peel. Cut into halves.
- Slice the four garlic cloves
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half
- Take the stems off the green peppers, and scrape out the seeds. Put them in a microwave dish with a lid and cook on high for about seven minutes. Take them out, and remove the lid after a couple of minutes. Peel the outer skin off the cooked peppers. Chop the peppers into strips.
- In a medium pan, heat the olive oil, and over a medium heat, fry the garlic for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown.
- Add the tomatoes, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the green peppers and the rest of the marinade, and cook for a couple of minutes
- Put the cooked potatoes in the bottom of a large flat casserole dish or tagine dish. Cover with most of the tomato mixture, then add the fish in a layer, still coated with the marinade. Then complete with the rest of the tomato mixture, and the olives.
- Add 100ml hot water, and cook for a further 6 minutes or so, until the fish is just cooked through.
Serve with bread and salad.
Malcolm managed to buy some extremely cheap raspberries the other day. I came home from work and there were mad amounts of fruit in the kitchen. He had also bought some strawberries, and he made some industrial quantities of strawberry jam. I made raspberry jam and it is as red as rubies, and speckled with pips, absolutely glorious on scones.
- 1 kg raspberries
- 1 kg sugar
- Juice of 1 orange (optional)
- Warm the sugar in the oven
- Meanwhile, put the raspberries in a large jam pan with the orange juice, and bring to a simmer
- Add the sugar, and bring to a hot boil, and keep boiling until you reach setting point. I use the thermometer as a general guide, and the flake test to be sure. Don’t be afraid, a fast boil on full heat works best.
- Pour into clean warmed jars and seal.
The flake test:
Dip a clean wooden spoon into the jam. Hold the spoon over the pan and twist it to cool the jam, then allow the cooling jam to drip from the edge of the spoon. If the drips run together and start to set, forming wide-based ‘flakes’, then the jam is at setting point.
So delicious. I tried this recipe from the marvellous book, ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. I had to order the grapes pickled in brine from Persepolis in Peckham. They also have excellent quality saffron and other essential Persian spices. If you can’t get pickled grapes, something else sour would do, such as lime or lemon juice, or small gooseberries.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- around 400g boned lamb, for example, leg steaks or boned shoulder, cut into fairly large chunks.
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- a pinch of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 25g butter
- 500g carrots (around 5 medium carrots) chopped into batons around 3cm long.
- a tiny pinch of saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
- 4 tbsp pickled sour grapes.
- Over a medium heat, fry the onion in the olive oil, until beginning to brown.
- Add the meat, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin, and fry until the meat is browned.
- Stir in the tomato paste and salt, and stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Pour over enough boiling water to cover the meat, bring to a simmer and set to cook over a low heat for an hour and a quarter or so.
- Meanwhile, cut the carrots into batons and fry in the butter until beginning to caramelise at the edges.
- When the meat is almost cooked, combine with the carrots and add the saffron water, and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes or so.
- Check the seasoning, add the pickled grapes and stir. When you are sure the meat is really tender, serve with basmati rice.
There are many ways to make marmalade, and lots of advice about the perfect version. This is ‘method 1’ in Bulletin 21 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, printed in 1971. I got the book at a jumble sale in 1981.
I published this tonight, as I promised the recipe to someone who’d tried the marmalade. I can’t remember if she had the Aperol batch though.
- 1.5 kg seville oranges
- 2 lemons
- 2.25 litres of water
- 3 kg sugar
- Optional extra – 200ml of Aperol – reduce water to 2 litres
- With a potato peeler, shave strips of peel from the oranges and lemons. Cut the peel very finely, into strips about 1cm long and the thickness of a penny. You don’t need to do all the peel, it depends on how much you really like it.
- Put the peel in a pan with some of the water, and simmer for around 2 hours, until the peel is tender.
- Cut up the rest of the fruit coarsely and simmer with the remaining water in a closed pan for around 1 1/2 hours. When cooked, strain through a colander to remove the pips.
- Add the strained juice (and optional aperol) to the peel, bring to the boil and then add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved.
- Bring the marmalade to a fast boil, until setting point is reached. When you have decided the marmalade is ready, turn off the heat, and skim off any foamy scum.
- Let the marmalade cool quite a bit in the pan: this means that the peel distributes evenly in the jar.
- Pour into warmed glass jars, and seal.
We adapted this from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, Curry Easy. Her recipe uses farmed tiger prawns, which are available frozen. We used fresh local prawns. It was really delicious. We had to adjust quantities as well, as we are only cooking for two people. I added some spices and herbs from similar recipes from Iran.
- 1 kg fresh prawns
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- chopped coriander and mint leaves
- 2 cardamom pods
- 150g rice
- Small pinch of saffron in 1 tbsp boiling water
- 1/2 tsp Caraway seeds
- 1 tbsp butter
- Put the rice in a large measuring jug of cold water, and leave to soak. Drain off and refresh the water from time to time.
- Cook the prawns for a couple of minutes in boiling water, then drain. When the prawns are cold, peel the tails, and cut them in half around the middle.
- Put the prawns in a bowl with garlic, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Cover and set aside.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, flavoured with salt, half a teaspoon of caraway and 2 cardamom pods.
- When the water is boiling, add the drained rice. Bring back to the boil and cook until the rice is not completely cooked, but almost. Drain the rice.
- In a frying pan, heat up a tbsp of vegetable oil and fry the prawns for 2 minutes or so.
- Mix the cooked prawns with the lemon juice, coriander and mint leaves.
- Grease the bottom of a large pan with the butter, then add half the drained rice, then the prawns, and then the rest of the rice. Sprinkle the top with the saffron water.
- Cover the rice and cook over a low heat for another ten minutes or so, until the rice is fully cooked.
- Carefully mix the rice and prawns, and serve.
I found the end of a bottle of tequila in the back of the drinks store area. I’ve had it for a while. I had enough to make two small Margaritas. They were so delicious, I may have to buy more tequila.
A note about tequila. It is a distillate of a drink made from the blue agave, which grows wild in Mexico. The process was bought to Mexico by the conquistadors, who set up a distillery in Tequila.
Tequila comes in various types:
- Silver or white tequila, which is clear white, and bottled within 60 days of being distilled.
- Gold tequila (joven) is a caramel colour, and is much the same as silver tequila, with a little colouring and flavouring.
- Reposado tequila has been aged in oak barrels for up to a year, and is generally a lovely golden colour.
- Anejo tequila is aged for between one year and five years
- Mezcal is not specifically a tequila, and may be made from a variety of agave plants. The agave is roasted before the fermentation, adding a smoky flavour. The ‘worm’ is a larva of an insect that lives in the agave plants. It is a sign of authenticity and luck.
- 2 Lime wedges
- Table salt
- 3 floz (75ml) silver tequila
- 3 floz (75ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 floz (50ml) Cointreau
- Lots of ice.
- Rub a wedge of lime around the rims of 2 chilled cocktail or margarita glasses, and salt the rims. Fill the glasses with ice
- Add the liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the mixture is very cold.
- Strain into the prepared glasses. Give the lime wedges a bit of a squeeze, and drop them into the margaritas.