Let’s Start Cooking!…

Welcome to Menu Mistress

I love cookbooks and have an extensive collection! The idea of Menu Mistress is to share recipes from these books, that I have tried and tested. All you have to do is add the ingredients to your shopping list and follow the recipes, thus injecting some fresh flavours into your home cooking. This blog is essentially for people who love food but don’t have the time, energy or patience to find that winning recipe – that’s the job of Menu Mistress!…

(Recipes are updated every Wednesday – sign up at the bottom of the page to receive a weekly reminder!)

Week Eighteen: Wednesday 21stOctober 2020

Click Here to Go Straight to this weeks Recipes

A couple of weeks ago I visited my favourite bookshop in London, ‘Books for Cooks’, as its name suggests, this shop in Notting Hill sells only cookbooks. Yes, I know I have far too many books already but now that I have started Menu Mistress I have the perfect excuse to feed my addiction. Anyway, I had a wonderful time, I spent far too long browsing the shelves (to the point that it was a little embarrassing!), but eventually I decided on three books. I’m not sure when I’m going to have time to cook all these new recipes – or even some of them, but for me, the beauty of cookbooks is that simply by reading them you can ‘travel’, not only into other people’s kitchens, but into their lives and cultures…

 One book that I bought was a little second hand French recipe book, it was printed in 1960 and the recipes (admittedly a little dated), take you on a tour of France with lots of photos of the regions, it’s almost like a tourist guide with recipes. I found myself planning a journey through France to all these culinary destinations – I’m not sure when that will happen, Covid or no Covid, but it’s a lovely dream, in the meantime I can cook my way around!

The other thing I love about cookery books, is the photography. I must admit that I always make a note to try to emulate the photos when I take those of my own dishes, the problem is, is that the dishes I prepare, unlike those made for cookbooks, are made to be eaten, so I don’t have the luxury of letting the food go cold to photograph them from every angle, not to mention that I don’t have the studio lighting! In fact this weeks photos were particularly difficult – believe me trying to make a curry and a fish pie look attractive is very difficult – even when you brighten up the ‘brown’ curry with a little chopped coriander!…Anyway my iphone camera did its best, I urge you to use a little imagination with this week’s photos as believe me, the menus are all delicious! Menu One is Chicken Korma, a recipe from Marcus Wareing’s cookbook, ‘Marcus at Home’. Whilst Menu Two is a traditional Fish Pie, it is a recipe which I found in a magazine years ago, it is perfect for cooking midweek. I also have another favourite fish pie recipe (from Gordon Ramsay), it is more elegant and creamy, however, does require more attention, so it is more suited to weekend cooking, I will share this recipe in the future. Finally, Menu Three is Spaghetti with Tuna and Anchovy, an excellent combination of flavours and extremely easy to make, hence I am also sharing it on my @Uni page.

Have a lovely week!…

…Plus, there’s a new review on my Eating Out page – we recently enjoyed a great lunch at Chez Bruce, Wandsworth Common, SW17 …

Tunes to Cook to….what I’ve been listening to in my kitchen!….Click on this link to listen to my playlists (listen without judgement – it’s just a bit of fun!)

Any feedback, or recipe ideas? Feel free to contact me!…or leave your comments at the very bottom of this page.

Have you made one of the recipes from Menu Mistress? Why not take a photo and share it on Instagram, please mention @menumistress or tag menumistress – it would make my day!!

A little bit of housekeeping…

To find all the recipes from my blogs go to the Recipes page, where there is a link to print them off. 

Most of the recipes on Menu Mistress are courtesy of the creativity of cookery book writers, old and new. The recipes are an ‘amuse-bouche’ for those available in the books. Please go to my Cookbooks page for more information.

‘Staple Side Dishes’ – when you see this beside a recipe, it indicates that I have previously published this side dish on Menu Mistress. I have re-published it so that you don’t have to trawl through my old recipe blogs to find it – Menu Mistress is about making your life in the kitchen easier!

Gluten Free – I am gluten free, so most of my recipes are gluten free, although I must stress that if you have an allergy please double check all ingredients. If flour is used you can substitute it with gluten free flour and likewise with other ingredients such as pasta or soy sauce, you can use gluten free options.

Menu One

Chicken Korma (Serves 4)

This is a really lovely, delicately spiced curry from Marcus Wareing’s cookbook,’ Marcus at Home’. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, they are mostly spices which you’ll have in your cupboard. It is important to marinate the chicken, I like to leave mine overnight as I really do think it enhances the flavour, but you could leave it for just a couple of hours.

It is a mild curry, so if you prefer more heat serve it with some chilli flakes sprinkled over. I serve this with Steamed Aromatic Basmati Rice – another recipe from Marcus Wareing (recipe below). On the side I like mango chutney (I use the brand ‘Geeta’s’ which is available in most supermarkets) and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or crème fraiche, you could also serve it with some poppadoms!

This recipe does make more curry paste than you need, but you can keep it in the fridge for a quick meal another day.

*A tip: rather than peeling the ginger with a knife try peeling it with a teaspoon, just hold the spoon firmly near the base of its bowl and rub the concave side down the knob of ginger, scraping off the skin. Seriously you will be surprised how much easier it is!

For the Marinade:

500g skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed into 2.5cm pieces

100ml groundnut or olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated (see tip above)

Freshly ground black pepper

For the Curry Paste:

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon garam marsala

Pinch of flaked sea salt

1 garlic clove, crushed

1cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (see note above)

50g ground almonds

For the Curry Sauce:

2 tablespoons groundnut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 cinnamon stick

4 cardamom pods, crushed

100ml white wine

400ml tin coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce

Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra sprigs to serve

Plain Greek yogurt or crème frâiche to serve

Mango chutney to serve

  1. First marinate your chicken for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight – see note above). Place the chicken in a bowl with 100ml oil, garlic, ginger and few turns of freshly ground black pepper, mix well. Cover and place in the fridge.
  2. To make the paste, simply pound the spices together in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of flaked sea salt, the garlic and ginger. Once combined add 100ml of water and stir in the ground almonds.
  3. To make the curry sauce, heat a large saucepan over a moderate heat with 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, cinnamon and cardamom and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured.
  4. Stir in about 4 tablespoons of the curry paste and cook for a couple of minutes to allow the spice flavours to come out. (The remaining sauce can be kept in the fridge for another day).
  5. Pour in the wine, let it bubble to reduce down. Slowly add the coconut milk, stirring. Finally add the fish sauce, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the carrot is tender.
  6. Meanwhile heat a dry frying pan over a high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off the excess oil, add to the hot pan and quickly brown the chicken pieces all over – do this in batches as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan.
  7. Add the browned chicken pieces to the sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Season to taste, remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods, sprinkle with the chopped coriander.
  9. Serve with Steamed Aromatic Basmati Rice (recipe below), a dollop of yogurt (or crème frâiche), mango chutney and more chopped coriander. If you want extra heat sprinkle over some chilli flakes.

Steamed Aromatic Basmati Rice (Serves 4)

250g pure basmati rice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the back of a spoon

  1. First of all clean the rice by rinsing it in a bowl of water, repeat this 3-4 times until the water is less cloudy. Then cover a final time and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice in a sieve and place in a saucepan.
  3. Add 600ml water and the salt and spices. Bring to the boil, cover and immediately lower the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes – do not remove the lid during this time!
  4. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, keeping the lid firmly on. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Finally, remove the lid and fork through the rice, remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods before serving.

Menu Two

Old Fashioned Fish Pie (Serves 4)

This is a great, simple midweek fish pie recipe, I like that the fish is poached first in milk and that this milk, with the fish flavours, then makes the sauce. I like to serve this simply with peas.

4 Eggs

300ml full fat milk

200g smoked haddock fillets, skin on

300g cod fillets, skin on

50g unsalted butter

250g leeks, dark leaves discarded, the rest thinly sliced.

1 tablespoon flour (gluten free if required)

Small bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped

For the Topping:

1 kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper

125ml hot full fat milk

Large knob of butter

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes, drain and shell. Cut each egg into quarters.
  2. Pour 300ml of milk into a wide pan and lay the fish fillets skin side up in it. Heat gently until the fish is just cooked and the skin peels away easily. Remove the fish from the pan, break into large pieces and put to one side. Strain the milk onto a jug.
  3. Melt half the butter (25g) in a saucepan and cook the leeks until soft, then stir in the flour. Cook for a minute or so then gradually add the reserved poaching milk. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  4.  Stir in the parsley and gently fold in the eggs and fish, trying not to break them up too much. Season and place in a pie dish.
  5. Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes up into equal chunks and steam until cooked through. Mash with 125ml of hot milk and the large knob of butter.
  6. Finally top the pie with the mashed potato and dot with the remaining 25g of butter.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c, for 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with peas.

Menu Three

Spaghetti with Anchovy & Tuna (Serves 4)

This recipe is one that I found in a the book ‘Cook, a Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, it has recipes from many renowned chefs including this one from the Michelin starred chef, Giorgio Locatelli. Don’t be put off by the fact that he is a professional cook – this recipe is very easy, it also uses store-cupboard ingredients so is a great weekday recipe to remember.

350g spaghetti (gluten free if required)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, each cut into quarters

4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained

250g canned tuna in olive oil, drained

50ml white wine

50g capers, rinsed and drained

2 tomatoes, diced

To Serve:

10 basil leaves

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and fry over a gentle heat for about 3 minutes, then add the anchovies and cook until they have melted into the oil.
  2. Increase the heat and add the tuna, stir for a few minutes, then add the white wine, let it bubble for a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate.
  3. Stir in the capers and tomatoes.
  4. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, mixing in the basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil, season to taste. If the pasta seems a little dry add a little of the reserved cooking water.
  6. Serve – how simple is that!

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38 thoughts on “Home

  1. Such a good idea – just the thing when I’m lacking inspiration! Sauce Vierge was a lifesaver on a midweek evening and also did the Halibut with Bacon and Peas for a birthday dinner. Had never cooked with star anise before making the chicken with chickpeas – overall, a helpful reminder of some classics and introduction to new favourites.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just cooked the Chicken with Lemon sauce Tanya! It was quite a simple dish but quite delicious.

    All three recipes this week look knockout.

    Keep on keeping it real!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely recipes, really enjoyed the potatoes with sage and thyme (I used fresh from the garden rather than dried) always great to have a different potato recipe. Thank you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, different potato recipes are always great to have aren’t they – glad you enjoyed this one! Another delicious tip for potatoes is to make the parsley and lemon butter from this weeks lamb chop recipe, keep it in the freezer and slice it off as needed to dress steamed potatoes 🙂


  4. Have just enjoyed the lemon chilli chicken tonight- absolutely delicious…I have a feeling that this could become a family favourite! Next on the agenda is spaghetti sauce vierge!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I made the Chargrilled chicken last night and I was not disappointed especially with the lemon vinaigrette dressing and Baby Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary, delicious. Can’t wait to get make my next dish.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I made the Prawn Stir fry last night and wasn’t disappointed it was easy to make with lovely flavours especially with the cucumber salad. Will definitely make it again.
    I am now looking forward making the Chargrilled chicken. Well done Menu Mistress for bringing us these lovely menus.


  7. I’m really enjoying menu mistress and the variety of the recipes. I’ve already cooked the Chargrilled Chicken and I’m looking forward to making the Prawn Stir fry this week. Thank you for sharing these menus, I’m looking forward to following others in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These look delicious 😋
    Looking forward to the chicken pie.. all for my son
    Could we have a fish recipe next please?!


      1. We have enjoyed both the chilli chicken thighs and the stir fry prawns. Both were a huge hit with my boys. Thank you for all the help you are giving us, it takes a lot of stress out of thinking what to cook this week. Best wishes Diana xx

        Liked by 1 person

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