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Chorizo-leek phyllo tart

13 Sep

Chorizo-leek tart

We ate this chorizo-leek phyllo tart a few times over the summer. I’d cook it early in the day – tarts and quiches benefit from having enough time to cool and rest – and we’d eat for dinner with a green salad.

I’ve experimented with adding goat’s cheese, sundried tomatoes, and sliced olives, but didn’t feel the tart was improved by it.

The chorizo provides ample flavour, and without cheese, the cream and eggs bake to a silky, custard-like consistency.

Sometimes simple is best. Continue reading

Chicken and pea risotto

23 Aug

Chicken and pea risotto
Chicken and pea risotto is a nice, simple supper for a summer’s evening and uses ingredients I nearly always have to hand.

I started by simmering the chicken breasts in stock I then used to make the risotto, but it’s also a good way to use up leftover roast chicken. Continue reading

Grilled sardines (sardinhas assadas)

6 Jul

Grilled sardines

I fired up the barbeque for first time this season to grill these sardines for our dinner. You can fry sardines in a grill pan or in a hot oven, but they are so much nicer cooked over an open flame.

These were delicious served with a squeeze of lemon, some crusty Portuguese bread and the traditional grilled pepper salad. The only possible improvements would have been a seaside table and a chilled glass of vinho verde. Continue reading

Chicken tikka masala

5 Jul

Chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala is one of Britain’s favourite dishes. Believed to be a local adaptation of India’s butter chicken, chicken tikka masala is such a part of the British culinary fabric, it goes by the acronym CTM.

Usually eaten in restaurants, or as a takeaway, I had never actually made chicken tikka masala myself. Continue reading

Prawns alla busara

3 Jul

Prawns buzara

I’ve been wanting to cook prawns alla busara ever since I saw Rick Stein prepare them on the Croatia segment of his Venice to Istanbul cookery show.

By the time he’d rustled up a delicious-looking plate of prawns bathed in a wine-rich tomato sauce, my mouth was watering. Continue reading

Cheese byrek

29 Jun

Cheese byrek

Börek, burek, byrek, byorek… The vowels may change from country to country, but the delicious, savoury pastries found across Turkey and the Balkans are largely the same.

In Albania, spinach seems to be the most common filling for byrek. But they sounded so similar to the spanakopita I occasionally make, that I opted for a cheese version instead. Continue reading

Asparagus risotto (risotto con gli asparagi)

27 Jun

Asparagus risotto

The English asparagus season is coming to an end, alas… While the last of the crop is available from our greengrocers, asparagus risotto seems a fine way to represent Italy in the Euro 2016 championships.

This risotto gets its beautiful green colour by creating a purée from the stalks, which is stirred through towards the end of the cooking time. Continue reading

Chicken paprikash

26 Jun

Chicken paprikash

When I was a kid, we had a skipping song that included the lines, “Goulash, paprikash, one, two, three! Noodle, strudel, touch your knees! Rigatoni, macaroni…”

I can’t recall the rest, but I know that I hadn’t the foggiest idea what paprikash was back then – and until today had never made it. Continue reading

Turkish pide

21 Jun

Pide

Pide are Turkey’s answer to pizza, and surprisingly easy to make. The dough came together in minutes, and by the time I’d made the toppings, it was risen and ready to roll.

I went with two traditional toppings – spicy ground meat and spinach and cheese – but there’s definitely scope to experiment here.

I divided the dough into four pieces, and made four largeish pide, but you could just as easily make six individual ones.

Note that the recipe below is for the amount of filling you need if you plan to make both types of pide. If you want to make only one, either freeze half the dough to use another time or double the quantity of filling. Continue reading

Schnitzel

18 Jun

Schnitzel

Schnitzel was on the menu pretty regularly when the girls were small. Kids generally love breaded food, and it was a safe dinner option for playdates. (I once made a little girl cry by serving her a bowl of chickpea pasta soup…)

While veal is the traditional schnitzel cut in Austria, I’ve never used it myself. Chicken, turkey, or pork – they’ve all been pounded flat, dipped in egg, and rolled in crumbs and shallow-fried round here. Continue reading

Potato pancakes with sauerkraut (zemiakové placky)

15 Jun

Potato pancakes with sauerkraut

This Euro 2016 challenge has made me aware of how many eastern European teams are competing – the menu plan for the next month is a bit cabbage-tastic. Potatoes are well represented too – and Slovakian potato pancakes feature both.

Seasoned with majoram and garlic, these differ from the potato latkes I usually make. Unlike latkes, they also include a significant quantity of flour, resulting in a breadier pancake.

Continue reading

Chicken marsala

8 Jun

chicken-marsala

With a mushroom hater in the family, chicken marsala had fallen out of my repetoire. I’m glad I gave it another try, because it’s a simple and delicious mid-week meal, and proved to be a big hit all round. (According to Lyra, “the mushrooms are easy to see and avoid.”) Continue reading

Lamb-pistachio burgers

12 May

Pork-pistachio burgers

The addition of pistachio nuts adds richness and texture to these lamb burgers.

Sometimes I roll this mixture into meatballs to fill pitta breads, or form it into kebabs to grill on the barbeque. Continue reading

Turkey burgers

17 Apr

Turkey burgers

Turkey burgers can be pretty dry and tasteless, and it taken some experimenting to produce one I’m happy to eat. I opt for ground turkey thigh mince instead of breast, and add cheddar and anchovy for extra fat and flavour.

Topped with lettuce and tomato, and served in a homemade hamburger bun with a side of sweet potato fries, you have a fresh take on the classic burger and fries.  Continue reading

Harissa chicken with bulghur wheat pilaf

10 Mar

Harissa chicken with bulgur wheat pilaf

I much prefer cooking bone-in, skin-on chicken and seldom buy chicken breasts. Too often they turn out dry and tasteless – and cost more as well.

But when I find myself with a packet of chicken breasts, this harissa chicken is a good way to go. The meat turns out tender and juicy, and is delicious served with the nutty, chewy bulghur wheat pilaf.

Continue reading

Fruit and vegetable tagine

29 Feb

Vegetable tajine with fruit

Tajine, cous cous, tajine, cous cous, tajine… When visiting Morocco, you have to go out of your way to avoid eating one or the other – or both – pretty much every day.

In Morocco, a tajine is both a slow-cooked savoury stew and the conical pottery cooking vessel in which they are prepared. So strictly speaking, while drawing on the flavours of Morocco, this fruit and vegetable tajine is not a tajine at all.

It is delicious though, and less oily than most I’ve eaten, especially those featuring chicken or lamb.
Continue reading

Fish pie

18 Feb

Fish pie

Fish pie is a comforting dish, and one many British people associate with childhood. I can’t recall ever eating one before moving to the UK, but unlike Marmite or Jaffa cakes, you don’t have to grow up eating fish pie to enjoy it.

Making a good fish pie does require care and attention. There are several steps – and several pans – involved. I’ve streamlined my version over the years,  arriving at a fish pie recipe where the final result justifies the effort.

Continue reading

Kimchi fried rice (kimchi bokkeumbap)

5 Feb

Kimchi fried rice (kimchi bokkeumbap)

One big positive of having a ready supply of kimchi on hand, is the possibility of turning last night’s leftover rice into a bowl of delicious kimchi bokkeumbap for lunch.

Continue reading

Vegetarian mole de olla

18 Jan

Mole de olla

Mole de olla (or kettle stew) is a traditional Mexican dish made from beef and vegetables – typically corn, potatoes, green beans and courgette.

This vegetarian version comes from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook – I’ve been making it for years, and always serve it with fresh cornbread to soak up the delicious sauce.

We’d eat this tasty stew more regularly if the girls weren’t so stubbornly resistant to its charms – they remain deeply unconvinced by cooked courgette. Continue reading

Cheese and nut loaf

3 Jan

Cheese and nut loaf

In many years as a vegetarian, I’d never encountered a nut roast before moving to the UK. The veggie food I cooked was Asian in influence, and – bean burgers aside – dishes that deliberately replicated meat were unknown to me.

British vegetarian food in the mid 90s seemed all about producing veggie versions of sausages, meat pies and roast dinners. And in this pre-Quorn era, the nut roast reigned supreme. Continue reading

Turkey enchiladas

31 Dec

Turkey enchiladas

After turkey soup and turkey sandwiches, turkey enchiladas are the next step on our quest to conquer the post-Christms turkey mountain.

When no one can face another scrap of turkey, I package the rest into ziplock bags and stick it in the freezer.

And forget about it until at least July, at which point I make turkey enchiladas again… Continue reading

Chicken, cannellini beans and kale

30 Nov

chicken-cannellini-kale

Chicken, cannellini beans and kale is not the catchiest of names – more of a list of ingredients really. Which makes sense for a dish whose elements remain proudly distinct while combining in a deeply satisfying way.

Continue reading

Vietnamese grilled pork balls

24 Nov

Vietnamese grilled pork balls

These Vietnamese grilled pork balls (nem nuong) are surprisingly light, and make a nice meal with an Asian slaw or this warm glass noodle and edamame salad. Continue reading

Peruvian seco

3 Nov

Seco

Seco is a traditional Peruvian stew. Chunks of meat – lamb, chicken or beef – are simmered for hours until the meat is  tender to the point of falling apart.

Like dhania chicken, seco is definitely for coriander lovers only. It’s also pretty spicy, so I tone things down a notch when preparing it for the girls.

Continue reading

Raised game pie

15 Oct

Raised game pie
My heart sank when the Great British Bake-off contestants were set the task of making a raised game pie.

According to BBC Good Food (where I found this Paul Hollywood recipe), “a game pie always makes a spectacular centre piece and… is amazingly straightforward to make – especially if you buy mixed game meat ready-prepared from a good butcher.”
Continue reading

Dhania chicken (green coriander chicken)

12 Oct

Green coriander chicken

Dhania chicken might be one of the best chicken dishes I have ever eaten. Needless to say, I’m not in the estimated 10% of people for whom coriander (or cilantro) tastes like soap.

You’ll know who you are… and whether this dish is for you. Continue reading

Kedgeree

6 Sep

Kedgeree

Kedgeree is one of my all-time favourite meals. While the British consider kedgeree a breakfast dish, we usually eat this delicious concoction of smoked fish, rice, eggs and curry as a weekday supper with a good dollop of mango chutney. Continue reading

Pork saltimbocca with asparagus and cannellini bean salad

5 Aug

Pork saltimbocca

Saltimbocca means ‘jumps into the mouth’ in Italian, presumably because it’s so delicious. It is good! Traditionally made with veal, I came across this recipe for pork saltimbocca in an issue of Waitrose magazine.

Actually it was the asparagus and cannellini bean salad that first caught my eye. The meat and salad combine beautifully to make a quick, tasty summer meal.

Continue reading

Mattar paneer

29 Jul

Mattar paneer

Mattar paneer is one of my favourite curries to make at home. It’s just never as fresh when you order it in a restaurant. The peas will have gone a bit grey and sad looking, and the paneer will be rubbery.

More often than not, they will have added cream as well, which seems unnecessary in a curry that contains cheese.

Continue reading

Muamba de galina (Angolan chicken stew) with funge

26 Jul

Muamba de galina

Muamba de galina is a flavoursome chicken and vegetable stew from Angola, and another foray into the world of African cuisine.

This rich and spicy dish is traditionally served with corn funge – a stiff porridge similar to polenta. Deliberately unseasoned, funge provides a starchy foil for the rich, spicy stew. Continue reading

Salmon and quinoa

19 Jul

Salmon and quinoa

As delicious as this recipe for grilled salmon with quinoa tastes, it’s the combination of textures that make it such a winner. The silky richness of the salmon, pop of quinoa, and juicy crunch of red pepper play beautifully off one another.

Continue reading

Lemon risotto

4 Jul

Lemon risotto

A dish of lemon risotto with a heap of steamed asparagus is one of my favourite spring/summer meals. It also makes a great starter – in which case this recipe will feed four. Continue reading

Chicken and tofu

26 Jun

Chicken and tofu
I’ve been making this classic Chinese dish for years – sometimes using prawns instead of chicken, or a  veggie version with just tofu and mushrooms  – and it’s always delicious. Continue reading

Hamburger mince gravy

13 Jun

Hamburger mince gravy

At some point in my childhood, the responsibility for cooking the family meals shifted from my mum to my dad. I don’t remember what brought on this change – I’m not sure that I ever knew.

Before that point, I can recall him making only two things – the occasional roast dinner and his delicious sourdough bread. Once he became the main cook, Dad brought a typically structured approach to feeding the family. Continue reading

Pasta alle zucchini

6 Jun

zucchini-egg-pasta

We were introduced to pasta alle zucchini by our lovely Roman friend Mariella. She was a bit dismissive when she served it for dinner one evening, describing it as simple family fare, but we found zucchini and egg to be a winning combination. Continue reading

Lentil and smoked salmon salad

28 May

Smoked salmon and lentil salad

Lentils and smoked salmon make this a most satisfying main course salad. Easy to pull together on a weeknight, especially if you happen to have cooked lentils hanging about, as we often do. Continue reading

Ca ri ga (Vietnamese chicken curry)

19 May

Vietnamese chicken curry (cari ga)

Cari ga, or Vietnamese chicken curry, is almost a chicken stew. With its familiar vegetable trio of carrot, potato and onion, it’s hearty enough to serve on its own, with maybe a hunk of baguette to soak up the sauce. Continue reading

Orecchiete with broccoli

16 May

Orecchiete with broccoli and anchovies

Orecchiete means “little ears” in Italian, which gave Lyra a bit of a scare. “Are they really made from ears?” she asked – knowing it’s just about possible I would serve her a bowl of ears in the interest of reproducing some authentic regional dish.

I could see her trying to work out which poor animal’s ears they could possibly be before I set her mind at ease. Continue reading

Balinese chicken skewers

5 May

Balinese chicken skewers

I can’t recall where I found this recipe for Balinese chicken skewers, and never having been to Bali I can’t vouch for its authenticity. But I can confirm that it’s dead easy, extremely tasty, and a great hit with the girls. Lyra has already requested it for her birthday dinner (next March). Continue reading

Szechuan celery with beef

2 May

Szechuan celery with beef

Szechuan celery with beef has become a family standby. As a lapsed vegetarian, I’m drawn to recipes where meat plays a supporting roles, and the celery is definitely the star here.

While there’s a bit of faffing around up front – peeling and blanching the celery, mainly – it comes together very quickly after that. Continue reading