Week Eighteen

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 …

Menu One

Chicken Korma (Serves 4)

This is a really lovely, mild, 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. 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! (Click here to see the video!)

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 fan, for 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with peas.

Menu Three

Spaghetti with Anchovy & Tuna (Serves 4)

I found this recipe in the book ‘Cook; a Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, which 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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