Chicken Pepper Wrap with Cumin Crisps

7

Chicken Pepper Wrap with Cumin Crisps

Speedy supper tonight. 4 left over chicken thighs, cut into thin strips, 3 red pepper halves that had been marinated the previous day with olive oil, garlic, baby tomatoes and basil for a light lunch and had been thankfully left over – cut into strips too and pan fried with two spring onions sliced thinly. Once they had attained a sparkly, gleaming brightness, I pushed them to one side of the pan and added the chicken and pan fried it until it was browning a little. I then stirred it all together and added some fresh coriander. This was now in a state of extreme bliss.

5 or 6 Majorcan new potatoes were sliced thinly – not peeled – and pan fried in hot olive oil with a generous sprinkling of cumin and rock salt.

Just as the chicken was about to be served I ground over some lemon thyme salt. I added a portion of the chicken pepper mix to a wrap, plus some of the fabulous juices along with a few baby salad leaves and some cumin crisps on the side.

Instant satisfaction.

P.S. Dear Mr Jagger – if you still cannot get any of the aforementioned abstract noun – please try these wraps.

Cumin lamb steaks on a bed of rock salt crushed potatoes & buttered spinach with garlic sauce

8

Cumin lamb steaks on a bed of rock salt crushed potatoes & buttered spinach with garlic sauce

Possibly my longest title to date! Couldn’t think of anything witty, well I could but they were all very corny. Anyway, this is a fabulous supper, inspired simply by my memories of our days in New Zealand where it seemed every other restaurant was doing some variation on the theme of lamb steaks piled on something or other, infused with this or that. I often pined for just a plain lamb steak…they were not easy to find..all the chefs wanted to ‘out sauce’ each other or come up with another way of disguising the lamb…possibly because they had so damn much they had become stone bored with the simple plain taste of…lamb! Well, I am in ‘fancy lamb steak denial mode’…so wanted for the first time in many years to recreate a dish like I experienced in Wellington.

This is my offering and it is very, very simple. And yet delightful.

I first rubbed each steak with cumin seeds and left them to think about things for half an hour or so.

I used a small bag of Venezia new potatoes which I boiled until they could just be pulled apart – about 20 minutes. I then drained them and popped them back in the pan with the lid on to steam a while.

I put a large knob of butter in a wok, melted it over a low heat and then added a bag of spinach, wilted it for about 10 minutes, added some black pepper and a little salt. Then put it in a sieve and squeezed the water out. Then it went back in the wok to keep warm.

I chopped 2 cloves of garlic and slipped them into a small pan with about 80 grams of butter and let them melt together.

The steaks were then pan fried in a heavy based skillet for three minutes a side in a tiny amount of olive oil.

The fun part is building the stack. The potatoes need a good grind of rock salt and a little butter before crushing them with a potato masher, but not too much. Arrange them on the plate, top with a spoonful or two of the spinach, put a steak on the top and drizzle with the garlic butter.

Then just tuck in….tis is a silken dish of buttery flavours that meld together like a marriage made south of the equator.

Cumin roasted and fried squash, potatoes and cannellini beans…

4

Cumin roasted and fried squash, potatoes and cannellini beans...

I reckon this is a dish I could eat a lot of, and on its own. It is a mouthful to say and indeed a mouthful to eat! And a fine mouthful at that.

I had a butternut squash but wanted to experiment rather than just roast it straight. I peeled the beast, cut it into rings then halved the pieces. I then cut about 8 baby new potatoes in half.

I gurzled – new word I just made up (and I like it!) – some olive oil into a roasting tin and scattered over 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds . I popped this into a hot oven – 200c- for about 10 minutes, then added (carefully mind) the squash pieces and the potatoes. I then put the roasting tin back in the oven for around 40 minutes.

I had a loin of pork in the oven roasting satisfyingly away to itself on a bed of 4 halved long shallots and when it was ready I rescued the onions and put to one side.

Whilst the meat rested, I took out the squash and spuds and added it all to a large frying pan to which I added the shallots and a 400 gm tin of drained cannellini beans. Oh, and a little pinch of a garam masala mix. A little salt and pepper was duly ground over also and stirred gently for 5 minutes or so whilst everything got romantically aromatic.

The smell was divine. Rapturous. Roasting it first and then transferring it to finish off with the beans and shallots was a good move, if not economical on the washing up side of things!

Just for the sake of completing the circle – my main intention was after all to draw your attention to the fabulous squash dish – I added 125 gm of vegetable stock to the pork juices in the pan plus a tablespoon of crème fraîche and some black pepper.

The whole meal was one of my favourite Sunday spreads for a while.

IMG_4795

The symphony that is kedgeree…..

4

The symphony that is kedgeree.....

Friday night last week I indulged in a dish I do not often make but probably should as it is favourite of mine. It is one of those dishes that is great fun to construct – it is a coming together of several key elements – eggs, rice and fish – in a most blissful harmony that makes supper rather rapturous in a way one would not think plausible. Kedgeree is hundreds of years old as a dish – originally called khichri and there was no fish – it was chiefly a dish of rice and mung beans with butter eaten at breakfast. As the British Empire builders descended on India, they rather took to the dish and threw in some of their breakfast staples, boiled eggs and fish, creating more of what we now know as kedgeree – a British corruption of khichri.

And it has all sorts of possibilities, like any curry dish or rice dish there are so many versions. This is my current favourite version.

FOR 4 FOLK

3 or 4 free-range eggs
600g undyed smoked haddock fillets
2 bay leaves
180 gm long-grain or basmati rice
Sea salt
50 gm unsalted butter
Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 fresh red chill deseeded and chopped finely
1 level tsp of turmeric
6 black peppercorns
Juice of 2 lemons
2 handfuls fresh chopped coriander
Sea salt and black pepper
Natural yoghurt to serve with

Hard boil the eggs for about 6 minutes – pop into a bowl of cold water to let them cool. Cook your rice and drain and rinse lightly in cold water. Then pop the butter into a large frying pan or sauté pan and once melted add the onion and garlic and fry over a medium heat until onions are soft. Add the garam massala, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, salt and pepper to the pan with the onions. Add the chill and the stalks of the coriander and stir fry for 10 minutes.

Peel the eggs and quarter them.

Prepare a saucepan with enough water to cover the haddock fillet. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns to the pan of water and poach the haddock for five minutes. Remove fish with a slotted spoon gently and set to one side to cool, then skin and flake the fish making sure there are no bones.

Add the rice into the frying pan with the onions and spices, season and mix well. Add the juice of one and a half lemons and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Roughly chop the coriander. Sprinkle the turmeric and half of the coriander into the pan and add half the eggs and half of the flaked haddock too. Stir gently. Let it all warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning as you wish.

Then add the rest of the egg quarters and the rest of the coriander and the lemon wedges.

Pop the lid on and leave it to steam together and create the symphony that is kedgeree! Serve with natural yoghurt.

You could use other fish if you like, smoked mackerel works, but I love undyed smoke haddock the best.

You could also use curry powder instead of garam masala.

Fiddling with this dish is what it is all about – but I love it as it is.

Autumn almanac…

4

Autumn almanac...

I was going to call this Autumn is cumin in…but that was just too naff…so as the Kinks were on the i pod it ended up as you see above…and this dish is everything that is good about autumn…it is lightly spicy..courtesy of the cumin…it is wonderfully colourful (the squash simply exudes bonfires and mellowness) with a regalia of autumnal colours, yet still with the lingering flavours of a Med summer, courtesy of the peppers. Tonight’s supper is in many ways, thanks to Nigel Slater – no he did not drop round and cook with me – sadness pervades – but I was curled up in front of the fire reading his Kitchen Diaries 2, the October section, and I was just inspired to cook something redolent of autumn – and to use up the half of butternut squash that was whistling dixie in the fridge.

So, I peeled the squash, and cut it into chip like strips, then cut up one long red and one long yellow pepper into similar size strips. Popped these on a baking tray with 5 or 6 cloves of unpeeled cloves of garlic. Then drizzled all with olive oil and a good sprinkling of cumin seeds.

The chicken thighs I places on another tray and scattered each with lemon thyme salt and olive oil. I then took some rather pleasant new potatoes and cut them into chips, and bathed them in vegetable oil.

I put the pepper / squash tray into the top oven at 200c and the chicken and the potato chips into the bottom oven, same temperature, for 40 minutes. The congruity of these ingredients must also be remarked upon – because they all kindly cooked at more or less the same time.

I drained the potato chips, drained the chicken jus into a pan, then added the potato chips  to the chicken thigh tray and popped them back into the oven – turning the heat off;  the skin of the chicken was deliciously crispy by now. I removed the peppers / squash tray and left them on a rack to wait patiently for their moment. I added a little chicken stock and hot water to the jus to make a zingingly tangy salty jus that would compliment the whole dish perfectly.

I removed the chicken thighs from the oven, added the squash. pepper and garlic to it and served it at the table. Jus was drizzled over by request.

The flavours were phenomenal – simple as that – the cumin wedded with the butternut squash was mouth-fillingly vibrant.
The whole ensemble was simple, cheap and autumnal – colour wise – flavour wise and fragrance wise.

I felt so relaxed and mellow after eating this – it hit all the spots in the right order and, along with a smoky South African Merlot, reminded me why I am alive. Oh, and thank you Nigel for the inspiration!

IMG_4456

A little Moroccan Magic makes Sunday sublime….

13

A little Moroccan Magic makes Sunday sublime....

I saw this idea on a Jamie Oliver programme a while ago now – but I cannot remember which one! Anyway, this is my version using fabulously underrated shin beef – mine was from those lovely people at Parsonage Farm. I love the tactile nature of rubbing the beef in the early stages and the way this cut just melts in the mouth after serious slow cooking. We went to the pub whilst it was simmering! It suited our Sunday and slipped down a treat – highly recommended and great social food. I cooked it in a Dutch oven casserole pan – I know some folk cook it in a tagine – but I have never dabbled in those – yet. Anyway – this works and I have just finished the leftover warmed up inside a pitta for lunch today!

Ingredients for 4/5

750 gm shin beef, fat trimmed off and cut into serious cubes
2 small onions chopped
Bunch of fresh coriander
Half a butternut squash peeled and cubed
400 gm tin chickpeas
400 gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp of tomato sauce
600 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
Olive oil

Spice mix
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin – I crushed cumin seeds in a mortar
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp paprika
Salt and black pepper

Mix all spice ingredients together and add to cubed beef in a bowl – with your hands run in to the beef until all the mix has been taken in. You can do this in advance if you wish.

Add a glug of olive oil to the pan – deep sided preferably – and gently pan fry the beef for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and half the coriander chopped. Fry for a further 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and the tomatoes and then all apart form 100 gm of the stock – you are just keeping some back for later in case it starts to dry out a tad – but it shouldn’t.

Bring to the boil – stir well – reduce heat – pop some foil over then the lid and simmer for 2 hours on a low heat.

Then add the butternut squash cubes – a little more stock if needed. Put foil and lid back on.

Cook for another 1 and a half hours. Consistency should now be quite thick and the meat should be falling apart to the touch. Serve with cous cous and scatter on the remainder of the coriander.

This is a very satisfying autumnal dish – cheap too – and a great alternative to Sunday roasts!

A Polish dish that’s easy to polish off!

6

A Polish dish that's easy to polish off!

I stumbled across these delightful dumplings at Lidl recently in their Polish range – oh wow are they something! They are potato based dumplings filled with a terrific tasty mixture of pork and beef mince with leek, onion and carrot. They are called Pyzy Zmiesem – not easy to say when you have had a few glasses of vino….! Anyway, they come frozen. You just need to pop them in a large pan of boiling water with a tbsp of oil and a little salt. After about 10 minutes they rise to the top, then you reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes. I made a lardons and tomato sauce to accompany these beauties. I pan fried garlic, cumin seeds, crushed dried chillies and a bay leaf for a minute then added a 100 gm of lardons.

IMG_4285

As it turned a gorgeous lightly crispy colour I added a 40o gm can of chopped toms plus a little sugar. I brought this to the boil and then turned down the heat for 20 minutes and let it thicken a tad.Then I turned off the heat, popped a lid on and left it whilst the Pyzy got busy. I drained them, gently laid them on a dish, added a splash of red wine vinegar and good olive oil to the tomato mixture and ladled this silky sauce over them, adding a basil leaf or two for colour.

The family wolfed it – I would love to have a go at making my own – though it would be hard to match the texture and flavour of these demon dumplings.

A fine supper dish when time is at a premium!

IMG_4287

Perfect Pork Tenderloin

7

Spiced Pork Tenderloin in a Red Pepper Cream Sauce...

Spicy Pork Tenderloin in a Red Pepper Cream Sauce

I love this cut, and you will find other recipes using it on here. I often pan fry it and add cream for a quick dish, but last night I wanted something more mouth fizzingly filling. The result was, I have to say this, forgive me (often when I cook a dish I admit I like it or was happy with it) but this I absolutely adored. I mean, I sat there looking at the empty plate afterwards thinking – wow – that was an experience. I felt fulfilled in every sense. It hit every spot there is to hit. It happens only now and again that I cook a dish and I really, really am pleased with it – this was one. Often, I am left thinking – that was good – but….I could do this, I could have done that. It could be improved.

Last night,however, I felt, unlike Mr Jagger, that I had just got satisfaction – big time. Please have a go at this.

Ingredients for 4

Tablespoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek.
A grind of pepper, a pinch of dried crushed red chilli
A pinch of dried thyme
A grind of sea salt
500 gm pork tenderloin cut into half inch or 7mm slices
2 small red onions finely chopped
Olive oil and a knob of butter
30 ml dry white wine
About 30 ml of chicken stock
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped up into smallish squares
150 ml of single cream
Bunch of fresh coriander chopped

Pop all the ingredients numbered 1-4 in a shallow dish and add the pork slices – with you hands get them all coated as much as possible.
In a small frying pan – add a little oilive oil and a little of the butter and fry the peppers and onions together gently until soft and the onions are starting to caramelise slightly – takes about 20 minutes.

In a sauté pan, add the remaining butter and a good splash of olive oil. Once it is hot add the pork – fry for about 5 minutes each side – then remove from the pan and put on a plate to rest.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and then add the stock. Let it bubble for a while. Add the pork slices then the onion and pepper mix. Add the cream and leave to warm through for about 10 minutes on a gentle heat.You may want to add a little or less cream depending on your taste.

 It should now be looking simply glorious – like a Picasso or a Van Gogh! Swirls of colour! I served it with saffron basmati rice and at the last moment I add small windfalls of the fresh chopped coriander.

By the way, I use a ceramic rice cooker – it never fails – one of my best buys ever, made by Queensberry Hunt.

I hope if you ever get round to trying this dish you are as bowled over as I was. Go on…give it a go!

IMG_3436

Tikka Lamb Leg for a Lazy Sunday afternoon…

18

Tikka Lamb Leg for a Lazy Sunday afternoon...

Well…this was one of those days when..despite me thinking it was all going pear shaped..it all turned out absolutely tickety boo! Mid morning shenanigans centring around trying to ferry my 17 year old daughter to a bus stop to go to London for a concert were time-chewingly annoying as she then realised that she had misread the timetable…no bus on a Sunday.and this all occupied steak-like chunks of my time knowing I had folk round for a late late lunch that I had to get into the oven as soon as…anyway, I ended up driving her and her friends to the station..it’s what Dad’s do…but it also put me slightly…understatement being used here big time – behind time…anyway…all I do here is set the scene…I got back in time to throw the tikka marinade together, slam in the lamb, then grab an hour in the sun, shades on, cricket on the radio…and I almost caught up with myself.

The leg of lamb was from those lovely people at Parsonage Farm..tis lamb like no other, Real lamb. Lamb that fights back.

The recipe is based on an old one of Mr Oliver’s, though I think he uses a shoulder. But I had this monster of a leg..and it was crying out for a summer spice mix. So..here we go.

You need :
2kg leg of lamb
Tikka paste – recipe in a mo..be patient
Red chiili, deseeded and sliced finely
2 garlic cloves finely sliced
I red onion finely sliced

Ok- for the tikka paste – you could use a shop bought jar – but why bother? This is funkier and sexier and far far tastier.

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 garlic cloves peeled
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp veg oil or ground nut oil
2 tbsp of tomato sauce
2 red chillies
Small bunch of coriander
2 tsp ground almonds

For the paste – fry cumin and coriander seeds on a medium heat until toasted and smelling good. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredients and whizz until smooth.

Score lightly the fat side of the lamb. Smear it all over with the tikka paste – you will not use it all. Then stab a few holes in the skin and slot in the red chilli slices and garlic slices. It should look like this…

IMG_3225

In an ideal world..I do not live in one but you might….marinate over night…pre heat oven when you are ready to cook it…170c. Lay the red onion slices on the bottom of a roasting tin. Drizzle with oil. Place lamb on top. Pop in the oven , covered with a wet sheet of grease proof paper for 3 and a half hours. Baste every half an hour. The coating will be beautifully wizened as in photo at top of page. Slice chunks off , or pull off with two forks.

IMG_3231

Serve it with this brilliant crunchy Indian Chopped Salad.

Ingredients –

1 tsp fenugreek seeds / 1 tsp mustard seeds / small handful of dry curry leaves, crumbled / 1 tsp of chutney – I use Mrs Balls, but  mango chutney would be okey dokey / 4 poppadoms / 2 carrots peeled and grated / 1/2 cucumber / 1 bunch radishes / 3 spring onions / 2 little gem lettuces / a big handful of cherry tomatoes / 1 red chill deseeded / bunch coriander / bunch of mint / lemon

On a large board add the grated carrot, then chop up finely the cucumber, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, chilli and the herbs. Add to the board and mix well. In a frying pan, gently fry the fenugreek, mustard seeds and the curry leaves in a glug of oil – I used garlic infused rapeseed oil. When the mustard seeds start to pop and jump – take off heat and add the chutney. Let it cool, then add to the board and mix in with all the other ingredients, plus a little grind of rock salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Crumble in the poppadom and stir again.

IMG_3233

This was a corker of a meal – we ate with friends about 5pm, washed down with this……. well lots of this actually……….

IMG_3235

….and then, for a dessert, which we ate at about 7pm on the garden in the late afternoon sun, I pan fried pears, halved in butter and brown sugar. I added sloe gin to each pears centre. Popped a lid on and left for about 25 minutes. I marinated some strawberries in strawberry liqueur for same length of time. I served them together with all the juices and a blob or so of crème fraîche.

IMG_3237IMG_3240Lazy Sunday afternoon luxury..and we ate our dessert in the sun, listening to the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra himself, crooning his heart out. Perfect…..

Sloe gin sausages in tomato sauce

2

Sloe gin sausages in tomato sauce

Decided that last night it was a ‘let’s go with what’s in but let’s be imaginative’ supper..so the gorgeous 6 pork sausages keeping themselves to themselves in the fridge were chopped and pan fried in olive oil with a sprinkle of cumin seeds, chopped green chilli, bay leaf, garlic clove slithered, an onion finely sliced and black pepper. After 30 minutes the ensemble was looking and smelling seriously inviting – so in went 2 large splashes of sloe gin to deglaze and flavour the mix. This made the difference. After 2 or 3 minutes, in went 600 ml of chopped tomatoes and a can of drained cannellini beans. I left it for 20 minutes or so to thicken up. It was served  with some seriously large pasta shells and a side dish of asparagus spears with large loving slices of pecorino and swirls of olive oil. The sloe gin I used was from Wiltshire Liqueur Company – the link is on the side bar – lovely to use local produce.

Image 7