May 2023

May!… What’s not to like?! In the UK we’ve just had our first May bank holiday and now, not only can we look forward to another at the end of the month but also an additional bank holiday next weekend for the King’s coronation!… So I’m guessing there might not be much cooking going on in your kitchens with all these excuses for holidays?… or perhaps with time on your hands you’ll be able to enjoy cooking at your leisure? Either way, I think I’ve found a few recipes which will fit nicely into your schedules…

Menu One, ‘Veal and Lemon Meatballs’, is a dish to cook at your leisure. Although with the mixing and rolling it’s not the quickest recipe, there is something therapeutic about taking the time to make these leisurely. On the other hand Menu Two is perfect for those of you who are in holiday mode. If the idea of spending time at your hob is not high on your priorities ‘Asian Style Sea Bass en Papillote’ is a great ‘mess-free’ recipe and it’s a dish that bursts with flavour – your taste buds will be singing! Finally, Menu Three, ‘Rakhine Chicken Curry’is a unique curry with Burmese flavours. It’s a good crowd-pleaser, so if you’re entertaining over one of the bank holidays, this is a great recipe to double up on!

There you go, May sorted… Enjoy!

See you next week for my Tuesday Treat…X

Menu One

Veal and Lemon Meatballs ( Serves 6)

With their lemony sauce these meatballs have a rather refined flavour in comparison with those served in a heavier tomato sauce. They are fantastic served with baby roast potatoes (recipe below) or pasta. You can substitute the fresh breadcrumbs for gluten-free dried breadcrumbs, I like those by ‘Esgir’. This recipe is from Blanche Vaughan, food editor of House and Garden magazine.

800g minced veal

100g fresh white breadcrumbs (or gluten-free alternative – see above)

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

75g Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons milk

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

100ml dry vermouth or dry white wine

2 teaspoons tomato purée

500ml chicken stock

3 bay leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Mix the veal with the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and juice, garlic, cheese, milk, nutmeg and thyme. Season well with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a walnut. Place on a plate and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  2. Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs all over working in batches. (Alternatively you can brush the meatballs with a little oil, and place on an oiled baking tray then bake in a preheated oven, 220’c fan, for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through). Set aside.
  3. Add the vermouth to the frying pan and let it bubble away to reduce by half. Add the tomato purée and mix well. Pour in the chicken stock and add the bay leaves, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Add the meatballs to the pan and cook them gently for 20 minutes, turning them over every so often. (Do not cover the pan as you want the liquid to reduce as the meatballs cook).
  4. Serve the meatballs with baby baked potatoes (recipe below) or pasta.

Staple Side Dish Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary (serves 4-6)

900g unpeeled new potatoes washed and cut roughly into 1cm cubes

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, leaves chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven 200’c fan. Put the olive oil in a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat up.
  2. Place the potatoes in a clean tea towel and dry them thoroughly.
  3. Remove tin from the oven and carefully slide the potatoes into the hot fat. Sprinkle over the garlic and rosemary then stir around.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Menu Two

Asian Style Sea Bass en Papillote (Serves 4)

This is a great ‘mess free’ recipe from the team behind London restaurant ‘Wild by Tart’. I have doubled their recipe so that it will serve 4. It’s a dish that bursts with flavour, unfortunately the bright colours of the dressing become dull from cooking but your taste buds will still be singing!… Simply serve with rice.

2 handfuls of spinach

2 courgettes, thinly sliced into rounds

4 sea bass fillets

Large bunch of coriander, leaves picked (reserve some to serve)

2 limes cut into wedges

For the dressing:

2 lemon grass stalks, roughly chopped

8 lime leaves

2 shallots, finely diced

2 red chillies, finely chopped, plus extra to serve

2 x 5cm pieces of ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten-free if required)

2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar or honey

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 limes, zest and juice

  1. First make the dressing. Bash the lemon grass and lime leaves together, either with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin, until their juices are released and they begin to become mushy. Add to a bowl with the remaining dressing ingredients.
  2. Get four large pieces of baking paper. Divide the spinach and courgettes between the sheets of paper and place a sea bass fillet on top, then fold up and scrunch the sides to form a pouch. Pour the dressing over each fillet and finish with the coriander and a few wedges of lime. Bring the tops of the pouch together and seal by folding and scrunching together.
  3. Place the parcels on baking trays and cook in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot with jasmine rice and sprinkle with the reserved coriander leaves.

Menu Three

Rakhine Chicken Curry (Serves 4)

This is a fresh tasting curry, a good crowd-pleaser. It’s from Yasmin Khan’s cookbook ‘Ripe Figs’, which is a testament to the wonderful flavours that immigration brings to our kitchens, this recipe is a Burmese inspired curry. Simply serve with white rice and/ or flatbreads (recipe below).

800g skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1½ teaspoons garam masala

1½ teaspoons ground coriander

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

4 banana shallots, finely slices (about 200g)

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

30g root ginger or galangal, peeled and finely grated

½-1 red chilli, finely chopped, depending on your tastebuds.

2 tablespoons fish sauce or shrimp sauce

400g chopped plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

120g canned bamboo shoots, drained

25g coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Finely chop the chicken into very small pieces, around 1cm. Place in a bowl and add the ground spices and ¾ teaspoon salt. Mix well and leave to marinate while you make the base for the curry.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 10 minutes until they have softened. Then add the garlic and ginger (or galangal) and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the fish sauce (or shrimp paste), tomatoes and sugar. Stir well, cover and cook for 8 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and bamboo shoots and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the chicken is just cooked. After 8 minutes add most of the chopped coriander. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add a touch more salt, pepper or cayenne.
  4. If you have time leave the curry to rest for an hour before reheating and serving – this will allow the flavours to meld, but you can serve it straightaway. Either way serve sprinkled with the remaining coriander and white rice and/or warm flat breads (recipe below).

Speedy Flatbreads (with a Gluten-Free option) (Serves 4)

This is a fantastic recipe – a real revelation. These flatbreads are great as a side to a curry, but are equally good as a snack for lunch! They are super easy to make – the dough just needs 15 minutes to rest before cooking, so bear this in mind.

120g plain flour (gluten-free if required – I use Doves)

Pinch of salt

Glug of olive oil

120ml water (approx)

  1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl, add a glug of olive oil and then, stirring gradually enough water to form a dough (you probably won’t use all the water).
  2. Rest the dough for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, roll into small balls and then gently roll each ball out into thin flatbreads.
  4. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Place each flatbread in the hot pan, one at a time, and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until slightly charred.

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