Made in India’s coriander chutney chicken and Jaipur slaw

The ‘Indian’ cookbook has, for me, always suffered from the ‘too many ingredients’ and ‘ones you can’t get hold of’ problem so I have never owned one. And I’ve always felt that my efforts were not really as good as the professionals so I didn’t bother. So spiced food in my life has mostly come via Thai, Vietnamese or, more recently, Sichuan cookery books, if not on a moped from down the road. But Made in India has totally changed my relationship to ‘Indian’ or, in this case, Gujarati food.

I got it months ago, have cooked from it several times and think I could probably cook from it every night for weeks without getting bored. I think you’ll love it too, for lots of reasons. Continue reading

Posted in Chicken recipes, Gluten-free, One pot | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Puy lentils with white wine, parsley and pimentón

Ah, Mondays. And Mondays in February at that. Not my favourite time of year. In fact, I would say that, despite my usual cheerfulness, February is possibly the only month of the year that I don’t really like or cherish. I’m usually still broke, the weather is usually rubbish and there are no special treats to look forward to (so no birthdays, bank holidays, celebrations). Okay, yes, there IS Valentine’s Day but I can’t say I particularly love that. Does anyone?

Which is why food, especially food that is both comforting yet different, becomes all-important in February. This lentil stew, for example, which is easy, cheap and fast, might seem like many others. Except that these are Spanish lentils, a little something you might find in a tapas bar in Andalusia, so far from ordinary and worthy. The combination of smoked pimentón (available everywhere these days, even here), Serrano ham, white wine and parsley turns this humble pulse into something much more vibrant and less earthy. For a vegetarian version, leave out the ham/bacon and add saltiness with some capers (or, if you’re a pescatarian, a few chopped anchovies) stirred in at the end.

So, if like me, you’re missing sunshine and warmth but can’t afford to jet off for any, try this with a copa de vino (hey, it’s February; all you dry bores can stop now…) and dream your way through the rest of winter. Continue reading

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Rory O’Connell’s kale, lemon and Parmesan soup

That may sound like the most unpromising dish I have posted in a while but, believe me, this is extraordinary. I proofread Rory O’Connell’s book, Master It, a few years ago and thought then that it was incredibly insightful and helpful, for kitchen novices as well as the more experienced. And every time I use it I am more convinced by its worth. Continue reading

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Korean so galbi with Fuchsia Dunlop’s magic greens

Living on my own, I never order takeaway. I can’t think of anything sadder in some ways, or anything more likely to raise my price-sensitive hackles. However, at the same time, I love the sense of ‘treat’ that it embodies: paying to have someone else cook, yet being able to enjoy it without the faff of going to a restaurant. And, of course, often you order things you would never cook (pizza, for example).

Which is why I am always on the lookout for recipes that give me a sense of a takeaway − they offer ease and simplicity and a certain different ‘non-homemade’ flavour − without costing much. So galbi, a dish from the rather marvellous Kimchi, is a perfect example. Combined with Fuchsia Dunlop’s greens with dried shrimp, which is possibly my favourite cabbage/green dish ever (I’ve made it so often that I can write the shopping list from memory…), this is an affordable yet treat-like alternative to picking up the phone. Continue reading

Posted in Beef recipes, greens recipes, Weekend | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Kefta Mkaouara, or Moroccan-spiced meatballs

Oh the joy of a sale when you have no money. Right now my local supermarket has loads of stuff half-price so I am stocking up (as far as that is possible without a freezer) on cheap cuts whilst I can. Like meatballs. Which have the virtue of being not only thrifty but also quick and, aha, depending on the ones you get, wheat- and carb-free too. Continue reading

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Zuppa alla Valpelleunenze

It’s Monday, a day, in my world, for clearing out the fridge and using up whatever is in there and this is my favourite way to do that so far this year. Once again it comes from Diana Henry’s Roast Figs Sugar Snow and, though I feel like I should apologise for posting one of her recipes two weeks in a row, well, I’m not going to. I have a five-recipe rule for buying a cookbook: if it has five recipes in it that I want then I will buy it. And this has ten times that number. I think it’s the best book ever for this time of year and every time I leaf through it I find something else to make. I truly urge you to get a copy as soon as you can, or in readiness for next winter. It makes staying in, keeping warm, and not spending much an absolute joy. Continue reading

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Nigel Slater’s pig cheeks braised in cider and the joy of thrift

Thrift is a habit of mine all year round but especially at this time of year. Being freelance, it is very useful to know how to survive on very little for months at a time and even when I don’t have to think about it quite so much I still hate waste. And, in January, I rather love the inventiveness of trying to shop and spend as little as possible whilst still eating great food. This year I have the added task of cutting down on carbohydrates a few days per week which makes thrift a tad harder, since it means I can’t rely on potatoes and couscous and need to buy protein. And, whereas I can live on lentils, beans and soup in the week, by Friday I want something a little special, something that tells me that it is the weekend and there will be treats, however thrifty. Continue reading

Posted in Pork recipes, Wheat-free | Tagged , , | 2 Comments