Posts tagged lime

Duck & Watermelon Salad

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‘ve a list of recipes that just catch my eye for one reason or another that I immediately add to my ‘to cook’ list. Those reasons could be the choice of ingredients, the vibrant colours or just a mood and craving but all contribute to the creation of this list. Shamefully the list has been growing faster than it has even had a chance to be depleted this summer! However an easy Tuesday this week called for this vibrant and fuss free salad. Not much cooking here – just a lot of chopping and fancy scattering. Studded with pomegranate gems, hidden with crispy morsels of duck supported by a solid foundation of juicy watermelon bricks.

Having just this week returned from a bootcamp-esque paradise holiday in Greece filled with wake boarding, yoga, volleyball (I could go on), this recipe offered the perfect balance to continue the health kick while fantasising about being back in the turquoise oceans and white sands of my much beloved Greece.

It has been adapted by a recipe from ‘The Londoner’. Adapted with an alternate dressing more heavy on the lime and some extra hidden gems – roasted peanuts in any dish are rarely a bad thing. But what we do share is our appreciation for the hot duck – cold melon combo that is just so refreshing and de-wicious.

*[Alex and Alice – if you’re reading (which I hope you are), put this on your ‘to cook’ list too before summer is completely over!]

Serves 2

  • 1/2 large watermelon, chopped into chunks
  • 2 duck legs
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • Bunch of mint, leaves picked and chopped
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Handful of salted, roasted peanuts
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 1-2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the duck and roast in a tray for an hour.
  2. While the duck is cooking, chop your watermelon into big chunks and add to a large salad bowl big enough to contain the whole salad.
  3. Add the chopped spring onions, red chilli and chopped herbs.
  4. Add the peanuts and pomegranate seeds (as many as you wish to balance the rest of the salad) and combine well.
  5. Combine the juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how juicy they are!) and the zest in a jam jar. Add almost the same measure of extra virgin olive oil, but a touch under so its more ‘limey’.
  6. Add the soy, sesame and some seasoning. Place the lid on the jam jar and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking. The last thing you want to do is add a bad dressing to your wonderful salad!
  7. When the duck is ready, quickly shred the meat and crispy skin. It cools quickly so in order to maintain the hot/cold vibe you’re trying to create here, pop it back in the oven for a final blast of heat to warm.
  8. Once hot, add the shredded duck quickly to the salad bowl and coat the salad and duck liberally in the dressing and combine well.
  9. Serve immediately!

I served mine with a nice fresh rocket and cucumber salad and some homemade coconut flatbreads. But this is still a good and healthy meal in itself. A few chunky roasted croutons would not go a miss here however. Just sayin.

Chicken Satay

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 usually feel that people fall into a love or hate category when it comes to peanut butter, the later being of rarity these days what with all the dreamy varieties and versions available. I embrace all that can be combined with it favouring the blackcurrant jam toast. However if you’ve not tried celery sticks dipped in peanut butter yet then you can thank me later for the introduction. Having mentioned the vast choice we now have for this delicious American spread, sadly I hate to admit that a cheap jar works wonders here. Save your fancy and expensive cashew, pecan and peanut blend for your sourdough toast at brunch y’all.

With no need to continue my expressive love of peanut butter, chicken satay is like a warm hug when wrapped comfortingly in the soft hand of a loveable flatbread with a crunchy, fresh salad. And this recipe really can be served in many ways as mentioned below. I prefer whole thighs rather than diced breast as they have far more flavour and texture. Served with a spoonful of the rich, spicy sauce, a zesty salad and some pillowey flatbreads. Alternatively, chop, coat and wrap the chicken and salad in the mits of a floury flatbread or flat wrap and dive in hands or face only. Use any combination of salad you like but whatever you do, coat liberally with lemon! It cuts through the rich and creamy peanut sauce welcomingly and essentially.

NOTE: If you haven’t tried making peanut butter before its really really simple provided you have a food processor! See here 

Adapted from Nigel Slater.

Serves 4

Chicken Satay

  • 4-8 chicken thighs, de-bonded (allow for 1-2 each depending on starter/main serving size)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Thumb ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1-2 limes
  • 125ml crunchy peanut butter
  • 250ml water
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Sunflower or light, flavourless oil.

Salad & Sides

  • 1 cucumber, chopped into batons
  • 4 little gems lettuce, leaves picked
  • Handful radishes, sliced finely
  • Bunch spring onions, sliced as preferred
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful coriander, chopped
  • Flatbreads (homemade, see here)
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and begin with the chicken. Heat a hot frying pan with a tbsp of sunflower oil on a high heat. Fry the chicken skin side down until crispy and golden. Turn the thighs over and seal on the other side. Remove from the pan and place in a baking tray. Finish cooking in the oven for about 15-20 minutes while you make the sauce.
  2. Using the same pan, reduce the heat and soften the chopped onion for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass and fry for just a few minutes being careful not to burn it – the garlic in particular.
  3. Next add the peanut butter and stir well and continuously to combine with the aromats. Reduce the heat to a low and add half the water. Stir to combine.
  4. The sauce will bubble and thicken as you do this so add the rest of the water when needed, a whisk is useful here.
  5. Keep on a very low heat to warm through, adding a splash more water if you require a thinner consistency.
  6. Add the salad ingredients to a large bowl and squeeze over a generous squeeze of lemon and seasoning.
  7. By now the chicken should have finished cooking, remove from the oven and set aside to rest for a moment while you put the final touches to the sauce.
  8. Add the juice of 1 large lime. Taste – if it needs more to cut through the richness then add another squeeze. Add a handful of the coriander and stir to combine saving the remaining herbs for serving.
  9. Serving is up to you – I prefer to place the thighs gently in the sauce to ensure the skin you worked hard to crisp up remains crispy and then serve the whole dish on the table for people to help themselves from – thighs and sauce scattered with the leftover coriander. Alternatively, you can chop the chicken pieces into bite sized chucks and stir thoughout the sauce to coat entirely and serve in your flatbreads/lettuce leaves like a wrap.

Raw Citrus Salad

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f you’ve been (un)lucky enough to experience the heat wave that swept the UK last week then you’ll probably agree that appetites change from being food dominant to a welcome craving for frosty, cold and delicious beers. Iced rose if thats more your thing, or perhaps just a freshly made lemonade in the sunshine. However, food still has its place but freshness, lightness and nothing too heavy takes the culinary crown. This salad was perfect after what was probably the hottest day of the year so far. After trawling over London for a meeting – which at the time felt dramatically reminiscent of a desert voyage – I was in no fit state for cooking anything too warm later that evening….

This therefore seemed the perfect opportunity to make a fresh salad but one to replenish the nutrients. And time to crack out an ingredient that’s been waiting patiently in my pantry for the past few months. A little gift from overseas from the Norwegian’s.  I’ve not seen a oil like this before but have been delighting in it since. Whilst I’ve tried flavoured oils in the past which I’ve found to be either bland or synthetic, this little oil/balsamic combo – mandarin oil with an epic peach and apricot balsamic – served neat and combined in equal measures with some crusty bread for dipping was amazing! I instantly thought seafood, fennel, and raw salads….after thoughts of frosty beers and rose. I did mention it was very hot…

With a lack of garden space or even a balcony in London (sympathy welcomed) there was sadly no place for a BBQ here. But if you do then this would be an amazing salad served with charred barbecued squid or octopus. Or keep it simple and griddle your asparagus or sea bass. The smoky bbq flavour is perfect for anything citrus here.

Like I said, its a meal for a hot day…minimal effort, more an assembly of flavours. Feel free to add in any other ingredients of choice or fish and seafood.

*NOTE – if you’ve no time to pop to Norway for these delights, a really good extra virgin olive oil with either a generous squeeze of lemon/lime/orange would work a treat. Try adding a few very thin slices of orange segments or grated zest too. Blood orange if you’re feeling extravagant.

Serve 2

  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced wafer thin (using a mandolin if you have one)
  • 1 handful walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • Small bunch fresh basil and mint, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon/orange/lime
  • Extra virgin olive oil and 1 orange OR flavoured citrus oil or equivalent to above
  • 2 sea bass fillets (or as above, squid, octopus etc)
  1. Hest a frying pan/griddle pan to medium high and add a splash of light olive oil. Griddle the asparagus spears to just take off the rawness for a few minutes until beginning to char. Season and remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, shaved fennel, toasted walnuts and finely chopped herbs.
  3. When the asparagus spears have cooled a little, add them to bowl.
  4. Season and grate in the zest of half the lemon.
  5. The next bit if up to you. Add the citrus oil, and the juice of half a lemon or add the juice of an orange/lime and some plain, extra virgin olive oil. Its all about taste. You need a fresh citrus flavour but it needs to be balanced.
  6. Set aside once done. Fry your fish and serve atop your fresh salad.

I served mine alongside some roasted carrots …I’ll admit this isn’t supporting the cooling and ‘non hassle’ trend I championed above. What can I say, the frosty beer worked a treat…

  • Slice 2-3 large carrot into chunky diagonal chunks
  • Season and drizzle with olive oil
  • Scatter with 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • Roast for about 25 minutes until starting to caramelise and soften. Check after this time and leave in longer if needed.
  • 5 minutes before they look ready, add 1 btsp running honey and combine. roast for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and served, slightly cooled, with your citrus salad (also lovely to add chopped parsley and crumbled feta/goats cheese)

 

Chana Dahl and Flatbread

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e all know our favourite comfort foods on a cold, challenging day or just after a bit of a tough one be it winter or summer. They usually consist of English favourites like bangers and mash or a hearty pie. Mine vary throughout the seasons but usually consist of a creamy coconut rice topped with Asian salmon (recipe here) or a big bowl of fish soup. But dahl is another comfort food altogether and one that so effortlessly lives up to the job.

There are many types of dahl, made from varying pulses. Having sampled ‘Dishmoon‘s’ infamous black dahl I’ve been on a quest to make a rival recipe! I religiously order it with every visit to Dishoom. I even have a colleague who orders a portion with the bill so he gets a bowl ‘to go’. Its that good! However, I’ll be confidently honest here and admit that my attempt at a black dahl (recipe here) ticked the box for me in terms of flavour and decadence.

However, this variation is suitably named as ‘Speedy dahl’. The flavour is there but you don’t get the depth that you get from a slow cooked and infused recipe with commitment of time and love. So, after a long run around London last Sunday afternoon, a cold bitter chill in the air and a deserving appetite I set my pan on the hob to master a new recipe. Serve in bowlfuls with roti, naan, chapatis or flatbread alone or refined here with a piece of elegantly friend sea bass, it’ll offer the comfort you need. Its a hug in a bowl…..

Serves 4

  • 3 tsp cumin and coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil 
  • onion, finely chopped
  • Knob ginger (about 35g), finely pounded with a pestle & mortar/grated
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely pounded with a pestle & mortar/grated
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml coconut milk
  • 250g yellow split peas (rinsed well)
  • 3-4 small green chillies, finely chopped
  • fresh curry leaves
  • 1-2 limes
  • Coriander, roughly chopped
  1. To start, drain the split peas well in 4-5 changes of water then allow them to sit in a bowl of water while you start the dahl.
  2. Dry fry the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds in a hot frying pan until fragrant. Next pound in a pestle and mortar.
  3. Add the turmeric, garam masala and set aside
  4. Heat the coconut oil in a hot frying pan and sweat the onion of ragout 10 minutes until soft and beginning to carmalise.
  5. Next add the ginger, garlic and chopped chillies and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Add the dry spices (and a touch more coconut oil if needed) and stir all to combine, frying the spiced onions for 2-3 minutes more.
  7. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and the curry leaves. Drain the split peas and add these too.
  8. Bring to the simmer and then allow to bubble slowly and gently for about 1 – 1.1/2 hours (alternatively pop in a low 150°C oven with a lid on) until the split peas become tender and begin to break down. Keep an eye on it while it simmers so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. Add a touch of water if its drying out.
  9. After this time and the lentils are soft, remove from the heat. Use a potato masher to gently ‘mush’ the lentils into a paste. This is just to make it thicker, you don’t need to aim for a smooth dahl.
  10. Taste and season well and add the juice of at least 1 lime or more if required. It should lift the taste of the whole dahl.
  11. Scatter with the coriander and the dahl is ready to serve!

I served mine with fennel seed flatbreads (recipe here). Amend the spice/seeds as needed.

Sticky Asian Brisket (Coriander, Peanuts, Lime and Chilli)

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nly a true occasion calls for the level of commitment that cooking a dinner requiring 5-6 hours plus additional prep time and a huge amount of will power and patience. And that occasion was, you guessed it, a Birthday. My sister’s birthday to be precise. Its a running joke (which is also true…and very much not a joke) that her Birthday is an (on average) 2 week occasion spanning the initial pre-brithday drinks followed by the Birthday eve event, the actual Birthday, the post Birthday dinner, the family occasion and finally a get together for those unfortunate enough to miss all the above.

So it was the family occasion when this recipe was summoned for a Sunday dinner with a twist. Sticky, slow cooked spiced beef marinated in soy and lime and scattered with fresh coriander and crunchy peanuts. As a fan of beef, brisket is a deep and meaty flavour that adapts perfectly to the slow cook. That and the Asian influence that my family adore, this recipe was a hit! The reduced soy based sauce at the end is particularly punchy, salty, deep and sticky so it would suit a refreshing simple crunchy salad or lightly flavoured rice to accompany.

Followed by a ginger cake (see here) with candles, singing, some more cake, and some ice cream for good measure it was a culinary Birthday I’ll have to try and top next year…

Serves 6 (Adapted from Delicious Magazine recipe see here)

Ingredients

  • 400g shallots, quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 200ml runny honey
  • 2kg beef brisket
  • 250ml shaoxing rice wine (from the world food section of large supermarkets)
  • 70ml light soy sauce
  • 70ml dark soy sauce
  • 100g fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 large red chillies, halved

For serve

  • 150g unsalted peanuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 red chillies, sliced finely
  • Large bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 limes
  • Rice
  • Crunchy salad (Little gems, chicory, cucumber, spring onion, celery lemon juice etc)
  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C and get a deep roasting tray ready.
  2. Heat a splash of oil in a deep frying pan and add the quartered shallots and fry for about 5 minutes until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the beef stock and half the runny honey and stir and heat to combine.
  3. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, fresh ginger, five spice and red chills in a big jug.
  4. Lay the brisket in your deep roasting tin and pour over both the stock and shallot mixture and the sauce from the jug. Cover with a piece of parchment and then with a few layers of foil enough to cover the tray tightly folding the edges down. Place in the oven for 3 hours undisturbed.
  5. After this time, remove the foil and parchment and turn over the brisket and baste. Cover again and return to the oven for another 2 1/2 hours.
  6. After this time, remove from the oven and increase the heat to 220°C.
  7. Pour all the juices from the tray into a frying pan and set the brisket aside. Bubble the juices on a high heat on the hob for about 15 minutes to reduce the heat by about half. However check the seasoning as you do so. The soy is quite a salty mixture so if you reduce it too much it will be overpowering. Add a splash of boiling water if you do so. Season with pepper and salt if needed at the same time.
  8. Cover the brisket with just a few ladles of the sauce and then drizzle over the rest of the runny honey. Return to the hot oven for another 15 minutes to caramelise the brisket and crispy the outside.
  9. Once done, remove the brisket from the oven and serve on a large pre-warmed platter with any of the juices and shallots remaining from the tray. Scatter over the herbs, peanuts, chilli and squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
  10. Serve with the reduced sauce in a warmed jug on the side and a good juicy lime half for all your guests!
  11. Serve alongside rice, flatbreads, salad or any accompaniment you like.

 

Chickpea Curry, Coconut Yoghurt, Naan and Mango Chutney

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 am not a vegetarian (lets just make that clear) but sometimes meat just isn’t required. When flavour is so prominent there is sometimes no need for it and this curry certainly has a big punch of spice. If you’re going to make a curry, don’t be timid, the more spice the better in my eyes! And I reassure you that you won’t miss the meat in this one – chickpeas make a substantial replacement. However feel free to replace with diced chicken, whole chicken legs, chunky white fish or even lamb. Or keep it vegetarian but pulse free with chunky cauliflower or broccoli or stirring through some spinach at the end.

Homemade flatbreads, sweet mango chutney and a cooling coconut yoghurt are the perfect side dishes. Who needs a takeaway….

Serves 4

Curry

  • 2 x cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can (full fat) coconut milk
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large/ 2 small red onions roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 thumb piece ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fengrueek seed
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, garam marasal, curry powder, tumeric
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • Bunch coriander
  • 1 lime
  • Spinach or extra vegetable optional

Yoghurt & Flatbread

  • 250g plain yoghurt
  • 2 large handfuls desiccated coconut
  • 500g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds
  • Milk
  • Mango chutney to serve
  1. Start by mixing the flatbread dough. Add the flour, nigella seeds and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Add a small splash of milk (a little at a time) mixing as you go until you have a smooth dough that is not too wet. If you do add too much milk just counteract with some extra flour. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until combined and smooth. Leave the dough ball to rest in a floured bowl while you make the curry.
  2. Start the curry by toasting the whole spices in a hot dry frying pan for a few minutes to release the fragrance. When you smell them toasting remove from the heat and add to a pestle and mortar and grind well. Add the dry spices and set aside.
  3. Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan/saucepan (bear in mind you will need the curry in a saucepan later so use whatever is easiest) and gently soften the red onion for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for a few more minutes.
  4. Next add the spices to the onion mix and fry for about 2 minutes adding a splash more oil if needed.
  5. Next add the tinned tomatoes and simmer gently for a minute mixing well to incorporate the onion spice mixture before adding the coconut milk to the sauce.
  6. At this stage I recommend transferring the sauce to a saucepan with a lid if you haven’t already. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes to thicken the sauce before adding the chickpeas. Season to taste and keep on the simmer while you make the flatbreads and yoghurt. Add a splash of water for a thinner sauce or simmer to reduce for a more concentrated texture (depending on preference)
  7. Toast the coconut in a dry frying pan until just turning golden. Remove and add to the yoghurt. Set aside.
  8. Take the rested flatbread dough and divide out into generous golf ball sized rounds. Roll into flatbreads, the thickness of a 10p piece and set each aside. Heat a dry frying pan on high and turn on the extractor fan! Dry fry the flatbreads on each side. They should puff up a little in pockets and char a little. You’ll have to play with your own hob temperature but a high heat is needed. Continue with all the breads, wrapping them in a pile in a clean tea towel to keep them warm and soft after each one.
  9. (If adding any vegetables, add to the hot curry now and simmer until cooked.)
  10. When the breads and yoghurt are done and the mango chutney is at hand and ready to go, chop a large handful or coriander and the stems and add to the curry. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and taste and adjust the flavour as needed.
  11. Serve the curry in large warm bowls topped with the yoghurt, chutney and a scattering of coriander. Dip in your flatbreads to your hearts content.

 

Sticky Salmon-Pineapple Kebabs, Thai black rice salad

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‘m always surprised at the amount of people who are surprised at the flavour that rice can have on its own without additional added flavours. If you pick the right rice that is. If you’re used to the same old white or even brown rice then venture out! I use red French Camargue rice as my staple now due to its wonderful nutty flavour but after stumbling over some Thai black rice recently which fell into my innocent shopping basket I had a salad on the mind. A dark and nutty flavour goes wonderfully with Thai flavours and fruits. Try mango and prawns, basil and coriander (see here) which was my initial intention. However as a nod to the gorgeous weather this weekend a barbeque inspired kebab was required. Seeing as my garden-lacking London flat could not supply my bbq needs, a sticky, sweet and if you cook the salmon well, oh so tender kebab a top this fresh and herby Thai rice salad suited Sunday evening down to the ground. Cold beer to accompany and the BAFTAS.

Serves 2 (make 4 skewers)

  • 2 salmon fillets, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cubed into 2cm chunks
  • Broccoli florets (about 6-8)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp runny honey
  • Small knob ginger, grated
  • 4 oz Thai black rice
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • Bunch coriander, chopped (save some for garnish)
  • 2 sheets nori seaweed, cut into small 1 cm wide pieces or strips (optional)
  • 1 lime
  • 4 skewers (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
  1. Combine the soy sauce, sesame, honey and ginger in a bowl and mix well
  2. Marinade the salmon chunks, broccoli florets and pineapple chunks in this mixture for 1 hour in the fridge.
  3. After 1 hour, prepare your skewers. Feed alternating salmon and pineapple and broccoli chunks onto each. Set aside on a line baking tray and chill. Preheat the oven to 180°C.Jess - Salmon Asian KebabsJess - Salmon Asian Kebabs2
  4. Meanwhile make the rice salad. Simmer the rice for around 25 minutes until just cooked with a little bite.
  5. While this is cooking toasted the coconut in a dry frying pan until just bringing to turn golden. Watch it as it catches easily. When fragrant, remove and add to a bowl.
  6. Combine with the chopped spring onions, coriander and the chopped nori sheets.
  7. When the rice is ready, drain well. Immediately add the bowl of coconut and herbs and squeeze in the juice of the lime. Place a lid on top and keep warm.
  8. Remove the salmon skewers from the fridge and heat a frying pan until hot and add a tsp of oil.
  9. Sear the skewers on both sides to get a lovely caramelised effect all over. Add the rest of the marinade to the pan (it will sizzle) and then immediately transfer the skewers and the pan juices to the baking tray. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes to finish the cooking.
  10. Meanwhile, plate up the rice in warm serving dishes. After 5 minutes check the salmon is tender and cooked through but just pink and remove from the oven. Top your Thai rice salad with the kebabs and any extra chopped coriander to garnish.

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Dahl, Roasted Curried Cauliflower, Shredded Duck in Lime

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower duck

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower

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ou won’t be surprised to hear it was another week of stressful and busy work so the long weekend glowed like a beacon on Friday evening with promises of yoga, long runs in the sun and some experimental time in the kitchen to blog and relax the mind. I woke to a beautiful sunny day and after a long run to clear the working cobwebs I was already on my way to some downtime. All that was required was some time in the kitchen.

With a stressful period at work keeping 90% of my mind on the task it was time to start planning my second supper club to focus and begin that excitement again! With the date confirmed and inked in the diary I was more than eager to start developing the menu! With just over 2 month before the (second) big day it might seem premature but to get the invites and advert out as soon as possible and the ticket confirmations rolling in the menu was vital. Starter done. Dessert done and obviously featuring ice cream the main needed some attention. With the somewhat limited kitchen facilities and equipment of my cosy, niche and atmospheric chosen venue the dish needed some attention. Ambition needs to be carefully managed and focussed int he right direction.

While flavour is key here using wholesome ingredients cooked from scratch I wanted a menu that would make my potential guests salivate on reading and be booking tickets on autopilot before they could say ‘Deliveroo’! Flavour vital but practicality is also a contender here when cooking solo for 30 paying guests. And in addition economics, aesthetics and style are also important. Factoring all these competing aspects and a love of all things spice this punchy dish was created. I won’t give anything away but the next supper club main with feature something along these lines…

Serves 4

  • 4 duck legs
  • 1 x speedy dahl recipe (see here) with juice of 1/2 lime added at the end.
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp of black mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  • 3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
  • Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large lime
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the duck legs and roast for about 40 minutes in the oven.
  2. Scatter the cauliflower florets in a large baking tray and drizzle with a good glut of olive oil.
  3. Toss in the curry powder, turmeric cumin and mustard seeds and stir to coat. Add some seasoning.Jess - Curried Cauliflower2Jess - Curried Cauliflower
  4. After the duck has had 20 minutes of roasting add the cauliflower to the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile make the dahl and set aside to keep warm.
  6. Once the duck and cauliflower are ready remove from the oven. leave the duck to rest for a few minutes before shredding the meat into a warm bowl with two forks and quickly squeezing over the juice of the fresh lime.
  7. Toss the warm cauliflower in the spring onions and herbs.
  8. To plate up, ensure you have warm shallow serving bowls or plates and spoon a generous spoonful of dahl onto the bottom and let it ooz out onto the plate. Top with a handful of the cauliflower before finally topping with a quarter of the shredded duck
  9. Serve immediately while still warm and devour! Serve with warm homemade flatbreads or roti if needed.

WINE: This would be great with an aromatic white such as a Riesling or a Gervertz to balance the spice.

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower2

Crispy Asian Beef

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f you’re intending on sticking to or continuing to stick to a healthy diet this month after the indulgences of Christmas then I recommend Asian food as a good go to. It packs a reliant punch on flavour without compromising on health and nutrition. Not to mention that this is a really quick recipe and can be served out in about 20 minutes.

As a passionate cook and appreciator of food I have always been the type to savour my meals either for flavour or appreciation for the time and effort spent creating it – either by myself or more importantly a fellow cook. However, I can’t help but notice that many of us eat too fast. Not only does this encourage us to be unappreciative of the food, time and effort that has gone into making it but you cannot appreciate and savour the flavours. Sticking to the topic of nutrition and health this month, on a nutritional side the faster you eat the more chance you have of overeating. Eating slowly allows your stomach to register satiety at the right time. It also helps improve your digestion. Hand in hand with this I also recommend chewing your mouthfuls more to aid speed and digestion. Just putting down your fork (or chopsticks) after eat mouthful to enjoy, talk to your dinner friends and take your time is such a great habit to get into.

That said, a great way to get into this habit if using chopsticks! Not only is it fun and authentic but if you’re anything like me and still learning you can’t help but eat slowly…if at all. So obviously have a fork ready to hand to prevent starvation.

NOTE: Quite without meaning to I’ve created a gluten free meal using my stash of ‘Clearspring Gluten Free Brown Rice Noodles’. Asain food is a great go-to is your are gluten free. As I say, it packs a punch on flavour without compromising nutritional requirements.

Serves 2

  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 thumb size knob ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli (hotter the better here)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp fish sauce
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Bunch basil, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 100g ‘Clear Spring’ ‘Gluten free brown rice noodles’
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice 1 lime
  • Serve: I recommend a nice lime juice covered fresh crispy salad e.g. Cos lettuce, grated carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber etc
  1. Submerge and soak the noodles in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside kept warm until ready to serve.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok on a high heat. Add the beef mince and use a spatula to break up the pieces into chunks. then add the star anise. Fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to brown well and crisp up. Keep an eye on it moving the mince around continuously.
  3. After about 5 minutes when well browned add in the ginger, garlic and red chilli and continue to fry on a high heat until the meat is really browned and crispy as below.
  4. After about 5-10 minutes add the soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce and stir to combine. Cook until really dark and crispy to your liking.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped spring onions, coriander and basil
  6. Drain the noodles and squeeze over the lime juice and add the sesame oil
  7. Serve the noodles in warm bowls and top with your crispy beef piece and a lovely crunchy fresh salad.
  8. Jess - Crispy Asaian Beef 2

 

Cajuan Salmon and Sweetcorn Puree

Jess - cajuansalmon2

O

k. I’ll admit this isn’t very festive…or wintery…or seasonal. Apologies. But frankly the unprecedented warm weather recently has sent us all into a state of confusion!? And following a few too many glasses of mulled wine after the annual village Christmas carol concert and a need for something fresh, filling and quick, Cajuan salmon seemed like the obvious choice…? Obvious right?

Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can sweetcorn
  • 1/2 lime, zest and juice
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 30g butter
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Mix of broccoli – purple sprouting and normal (enough for 2), chopped into florets
  • 1 banana shallot, halved and finely sliced into half moons
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Natural yoghurt to serve
  1. Marinade the salmon in the dried spices, some seasoning and the olive oil and put in the fridge for about 20 minutes
  2. Heat a good layer of sunflower oil in a frying pan until hot. Mix the flour and the chopped shallots in a bowl and season.
  3. When the oil is hot add the shallots and fry, moving around with a fork, until deep golden and crisp. Tip into a bowl lined with kitchen roll and season. Set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add another drop of oil and stir fry the broccoli gently until charred. Set aside to keep warm in a low oven.
  5. Simmer the sweetcorn in the canned juices and enough water to cover for 3-4 minutes. Drain
  6. Add to the bowl of a food processor while hot and add the butter, chilli, coriander, juice and zest of the lime and some seasoning. Puree until smooth and taste. Set aside to keep warm in a pan.
  7. Finally, heat a splash of oil in your frying pan until hot. Fry the salmon, skin side down for about 5 minutes, turning halfway, depending on the thickness. Equally this would be excellent grilled on a grilled but mine was out of action!Jess - salmon
  8. When ready to serve, spoon a generous helping of sweetcorn puree onto a warmed plate. Top with the salmon. Mix the crispy onions with the warm broccoli and serve on the side and sprinkle with any extra coriander leaves.

Add some natural yoghurt if the what gets too much!

Jess - broccoli