Monday, 12 November 2018

Easy Beef and Spinach Curry

Beef and spinach curry is served with turmeric mash

Curry is a dish which very often contains a great many different ingredients, including a lengthy list of various spices. This can make it fairly expensive to prepare, particularly when you have to buy a supply of all the spices at the same time. This recipe is nice and simple in that it has a limited number of ingredients and by using minced/ground beef, the often lengthy cooking time is also reduced. It also prominently features spinach, a popular ingredient in Indian cooking but often much maligned in the West.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 pound minced/ground beef
1 medium white onion
2 medium garlic cloves
1 tablespoon medium hot curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
2 large (14 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 yellow bell pepper
2 large, medium strength red chillies
4 to 6 generous handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander leaf (cilantro), plus extra to garnish

Curry is of course traditionally served with rice or perhaps a type of Indian flat bread. In this instance and just to be a little bit different, turmeric mashed potato was served instead. To make this mash for four people, you will need:

6 large baking potatoes
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander/cilantro


Pour the vegetable oil in to a large pot. Peel the onion, cut it in half down through the core and lay each half flat before moderately finely slicing. Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves. Put the pot on to a medium heat and add the onion, garlic, curry powder and garam masala. Saute for two or three minutes, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until the onion is softened.

Onion, garlic and spices

Add the beef to the pot and saute as before for a further two or three minutes until the beef is evenly browned.

Beef is stirred through softened spiced onion

Pour the tomatoes in to the pot, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Turn the heat up until the liquid in the pot starts to simmer then adjust the heat to maintain this gentle simmer.

Canned tomatoes are added to spiced beef

Seed and slice the bell pepper to a thickness of around half an inch. Top the chillies and slice fairly finely in to discs. Add both ingredients to the pot, stir well and bring back to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally and making sure the liquid level isn't getting too low. In the very unlikely event of this happening, add a little boiling water from your kettle as required.

Sliced peppers are added to curry

Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly and carefully stir them in to the part cooked curry. Bring back up to a simmer and continue to cook as before while you cook the potatoes.

Baby spinach leaves are added to simmering curry combination

Peel the potatoes and cut to around one and a half inch chunks (photo below shows enough potatoes to serve one person only). Add to a very large pot and season with the turmeric and some salt. Pour in plenty of cold water and bring to a simmer for about twenty minutes.

Turmeric and salt are added to peeled and chopped potatoes

When the potatoes are almost ready, stir the chopped coriander in to the curry and simmer for a few more minutes.

Corainder is added to curry at the last minute

Drain the potatoes through a metal sieve or colander (the turmeric will tend to stain a plastic one) and allow to steam off for two or three minutes. Add about two ounces (half a stick) of unsalted butter and mash with a hand masher before stirring in the chopped coriander.

Corainader is added to mashed and spiced potato

Divide the potatoes between the serving plates and spoon the curry alongside. Garnish with the last of the coriander to serve.

Curry and spicy mash are plated

Monday, 5 November 2018

Spicy Cheese Melt Baked Chicken Thighs

Spicy cheese topped baked chicken thighs with minted potatoes and peas

Chicken thighs, when cooked properly, are by far the most succulent part of the bird. One way of cooking them to all but ensure they are served at their juicy and tender best is to bake them in the oven (as opposed to roasting them) on the bone and in a casserole dish. The dish traps the moisture and thus to a certain extent the flavour, leaving the rested thighs moist, soft and delicious. This recipe cooks the chicken thighs in just this way before adding that little bit extra something in the form of a spicy cheese melt on top of the rested meat.

Ingredients (Serves 1)

2 medium chicken thighs (bone in)
Drizzle of vegetable oil
Hot chilli powder (be careful with amount used)
Salt and pepper
6 to 8 baby new potatoes (or as required)
2 ounces Cheddar or similar hard cheese
1/4 small red onion
1 red chilli
Bit of butter
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
3 tablespoons frozen peas
Malt vinegar (optional)

Seasoned chicken thighs are ready for baking


If the chicken thighs have been in the fridge, make sure you remove them around half an hour prior to starting cooking to let them come up to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Drizzle a little oil in to a casserole dish large enough to comfortably contain both chicken thighs and wipe it over the base with a piece of kitchen paper. This is just to minimise the risk of the thighs sticking. Peel the skin from the thighs and discard. Season the thighs all over with some salt, pepper and the chilli powder before laying them fleshiest sides up in the casserole dish. Put the lid on to the dish and place it in to your oven for thirty to thirty-five minutes, depending upon the size of the thighs.

When the thighs have been in the oven for about fifteen minutes, wash the potatoes and if they are a little on the large side, cut them in half. Put them in to a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a simmer for about twenty minutes or until just softened all the way through.

Baked chicken thighs

Take the casserole dish from the oven at the end of the allotted cooking time, sit it on a heatproof surface and carefully remove the lid. Use a skewer to pierce the thickest part of each thigh and ensure the juices run clear, with no trace of red or pink remaining. If necessary, cook for five more minutes and test again. Put the lid back in place and set aside for ten minutes to rest.

Spicy cheese topping ingredients

Coarsely grate/shred the cheese in to a deep plate or small bowl. Finely dice the peeled red onion quarter and add it to the cheese along with the topped, seeded (seeds are not nice in the topping) and finely diced chilli. Season with some black pepper and still well to combine. Put your kitchen grill/broiler on to preheat to its highest setting.

Buttered and minted potatoes

Drain the potatoes through a colander at your sink and allow them to steam off for a couple of minutes to dry out. Add the butter and dried mint. Carefully swirl the pot to evenly coat.

Spicy cheese is scattered over baked and rested thighs

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the frozen peas to simmer for three minutes.

Remove the lid once again from the casserole and carefully top the chicken thighs with the cheese combination. Place the dish under the hot grill for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Drained peas are seasoned in colander

Drain the peas through a colander and suspend the colander back over the pot before seasoning the peas with salt, black pepper and - if desired - malt vinegar. Gently shake the colander to evenly distribute the seasonings.

Lift the chicken thighs to a serving plate with a slotted spoon. Arrange the potatoes and peas alongside.

Cutting in to spicy cheese topped chicken thigh

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Lambs Liver and Beans in Spicy Sauce

Lambs liver is served on a bed of beans in spicy tomato sauce

Lambs liver truly is a delicious eating experience, provided it is cooked properly. If cooked too long or inappropriately, it will be tough and horrible but when done as cooked below, it is both tasty and tender. Given that it is generally incredibly inexpensive to buy and is particularly nutritious - especially in its iron content - what more reason to you need to give this recipe a try?

Ingredients (Serves 1)

2 or 3 smallish slices of lambs liver
1/2 small red onion
1 large garlic clove
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
Small (8 ounce) can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 small green chilli
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander leaf (cilantro)
Salt and pepper
Smoked paprika
Small (8 ounce) can red kidney beans in water
Vegetable oil for frying liver

Onion and garlic are firstly gently sauteed


Pour the olive oil in to a small saucepan and put the pan on to a gentle heat. Peel the onion half and slice across the way. Peel the garlic clove and finely dice. Add the onion and the garlic to the oil and saute for a few minutes until the onion is softened.

Tomatoes and seasonings are added to saucepan

Pour the tomatoes in to the saucepan and add the topped and finely diced green chilli, the dried coriander (cilantro) and seasonings in the form of salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and leave to gently bubble away while you attend to the lambs liver.

Steeped lambs liver is patted dry

There is a theory that liver should always be steeped in either water or milk before it is cooked to both remove the excess blood and help tenderise it for the pan. In all honesty, sometimes I steep it and sometimes I don't, depending upon not only the time I have available but also upon how I am preparing it and with what I am serving it. In this particular instance, I did steep it for about ten minutes in cold water before lifting it carefully from the bowl and patting it dry very gently between several sheets of kitchen paper.

Lambs liver is carefully seasoned

Before the liver is cooked, it was seasoned on both sides with salt, black pepper and a generous sprinkling of smoked paprika, though medium to hot chilli powder would work equally well in this dish.

Kidney beans are added to tomato sauce

When the liver is pan ready, drain the kidney beans and wash them through a colander under running cold water to get rid of the horrible, gungy canning impurities. Add them to the sauce, stir well and leave them to heat through only while you cook the liver.

Lambs liver is added to frying pan

Gently heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan and lay in the liver slices. Cook for about three minutes each side until done (the blood no longer runs out of them when pierced). Spoon the beans in to a deep serving plate and spread out before serving the liver slices on top.

Beans in tomato sauce are plated as bed for liver

Monday, 15 October 2018

Hot and Spicy Wings, Onions and Potatoes

Hot and spicy wings, onions and potatoes

Who doesn't love chicken wings? They are tasty, succulent, satisfying, fun to eat - in fact, they tick all the important boxes and more when we are looking for something for dinner. If there is one downfall many people have, however, when it comes to particularly cooking wings at home, it is a failure to realise just how incredibly versatile they are as well as enjoyable. Do you maybe only eat them from your favourite fast food restaurant, always prepared in the same fashion? Do you cook them at home but always use the same spices and accompaniments? This is just one very straightforward idea to take wings out of any established comfort zone and hopefully and ideally get you thinking of other ways in which you can flavour and prepare these special treats.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

12 chicken wings
3 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon medium hot chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
White pepper
8 baby potatoes
1 medium red onion
1 large green chilli
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaf (cilantro), plus extra to garnish


If you have the time, you could prepare the spiced oil and marinate the chicken wings for longer than in this recipe but that is not absolutely essential.

Wash the potatoes and cut them in half, unpeeled. Add them to a pot of cold, slightly salted water and bring to a simmer for about twenty minutes or so until cooked. Drain, allow to steam off for a few minutes then cover and leave to cool completely (around half an hour should be sufficient). This is quite important as if you assemble the dish for roasting when the potatoes are still hot, they will tend to absorb some of the oil rather than roast in it.

Potatoes are firstly boiled before being roasted

When the potatoes are on to cook, measure out the oil in to a large glass or stone bowl. Add the curry powder, chilli powder and garaam masala and season well with salt and white pepper.

Spices and seasonings are added to oil

Take a wooden spoon and mix the spices and seasonings in to the oil to form a lump free light paste.

Spices are stirred in to the oil

Cut off and discard the tips from the chicken wings if they are still present. Cut the main body of each wing in half at the natural joint. Add them all to the oil and carefully stir fold them around to evenly coat. Cover with clingfilm and set aside to marinade while the potatoes are cooking and cooling.

Wings are stirred through spiced oil

Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Empty the chicken wings in to a large, deep, ovenproof dish, being sure to include as much of the seasoned oil as possible. Add the potatoes. Peel the onion, cut it in half down through the core then lay each half flat and slice to around a quarter inch. Separate each slice in to strands before adding to the wings and potatoes. Top the chilli before slicing thinly in to discs and also adding to the cooking vessel.

Wings, potatoes and onion are added to baking dish

You can try to combine everything using a spoon but this can lead to spillage and take quite some time. The best and quickest way by far to combine everything well is to use your hands. Be sure to wash them especially well afterwards due to handling the chilli.

Combined wings, potatoes and onion are ready for the oven

Place the dish in to your oven for a total of forty minutes, removing it to stir briefly (with a spoon this time!) half way through cooking.

Wings and accompaniments are stirred half way through cooking

When the wings are ready, scatter with the chopped coriander/cilantro and carefully stir it through.

Coriander is added to roasted wings

Set the dish aside for ten minutes uncovered to let the wings rest. Garnish with the last of the coriander immediately before serving as a sharing platter for two.

Coriander is carefully stirred through wings, onion and poratoes

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Spicy Spanish Tortilla with Mixed Veg

Spicy Spanish tortilla half with mangetout and stem broccoli

A Spanish tortilla is simply a thick omelette, traditionally made to include onion and potato. It is nothing to do with the crisp like tortilla chips sold in foil bags in supermarkets. They are usually an inch or more thick and are cut in to wedges (like pizza) to serve, either hot or cold. I've made this one a little bit thinner to suit my purpose at the time. This recipe also sees the addition of some dried basil and smoked paprika to give the dish a little bit of extra herb and spice flavour but both are optional. It can be served with your veg of choice but the mangetout and tender stem broccoli served in this instance came conveniently together in a pack from the supermarket and were super quick and easy to cook.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

7 or 8 baby new potatoes
3 large eggs
White pepper
Generous pinch dried basil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Olive oil
1 medium red onion
Handful mangetout
Handful tender stem broccoli stalks


Wash the potatoes but leave them unpeeled then cut them in half. Add the pieces to a pot of cold salted water and bring the water to a simmer for about twenty minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked. Drain and set aside to steam off while you prepare the eggs and fry the onion. Note that it's not necessary for the potatoes to cool but letting them steam off and lose the extra moisture is essential. Alternatively, you could cook them in advance and store them in the fridge overnight to save time on the night you are eating. They would have to be fried a little longer at a later stage in this recipe in that case to heat them through.

Boiling halved baby new potatoes

Break the eggs in to a bowl and season with some salt, white pepper, the basil and the smoked paprika. Beat with a fork or small hand whisk until just combined.

Put your kitchen grill (broiler) on to preheat to its highest setting.

Eggs and seasonings for tortilla

Peel the onion and cut it in half down through the core. Lay each half flat on your chopping board and slice to around a quarter inch. Pour two or three tablespoons of olive oil in to a large non-stick frying pan or skillet and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the onion and fry it off over a medium heat for two or three minutes until the strands are separated and just starting to soften.

Starting to fry onions

Add the potatoes to the pan and fry for a further minute or two to just slightly crisp the edges (remember to fry for an extra minute or two if the potatoes have been allowed to cool).

Potatoes are added to lightly fried onions

Ensure the potato and onion pieces are fairly evenly distributed around the pan before carefully pouring in the egg mixture.

Spicy egg mixture is poured over potatoes and onion

Wash the mangetout and stem broccoli before adding to a pan of salted boiling water. Simmer for three minutes before draining at your sink through a colander.

Mangetout and stem broccoli are added to boiling salted water

After a few minutes, you will see the egg is set almost all the way to the top. At this stage, put your pan under the hot grill for a minute or two to complete the setting of the eggs.

Tortilla is almost cooked and ready to go under the grill

When the pan comes out from under the grill, you will see that the eggs have risen slightly as well as set.

Spicy Spanish tortilla

Remember not to cut the tortilla in the pan with a metal knife or you will likely damage and ruin the pan. Either slide it on to a plate for cutting or cut with a plastic spatula. It should be soft enough to do this no problem. Lay half the tortilla on each of two serving plates before adding the drained vegetables.

Tortilla half is plated

Friday, 10 August 2018

Spicy Beef Conchiglie Pasta

Conchiglie pasta in a spicy beef sauce with fresh Parmesan cheese

A dish simply described as pasta in a beef based tomato sauce will almost inevitably have most people thinking of spag bol. While this is entirely understandable, it is a great shame as there are so many different types of pasta out there and so many ways in which a beef based tomato sauce can be adapted to incorporate a whole range of different flavours. This conchiglie pasta in spicy beef sauce is just one simple example of this adaptation.

Beef is added to a pot and seasoned

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1/2 pound minced/ground beef
1 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and black pepper
1/2 medium sized red onion
1/4 each of red, green and yellow bell peppers
1 large garlic clove
14 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Splash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
2 coffee mugs of dried conchiglie pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to garnish

Beef is carefully browned over a medium heat


Pour a little vegetable or sunflower oil in to a large pot, just to start the beef off before the fat starts melting. Add the beef and put the pot on to a low to medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to break the beef up and stir it around. As the fat is slowly released, the heat can be increased until all the beef is evenly browned.

Onion, peppers and garlic are added to browned beef

Slice the onion half thinly and add it to the beef along with the seeded and diced peppers. Peel the garlic clove and finely dice before also adding this to the pot. Stir around for a couple of minutes over a low to medium heat, just until the onion is starting to soften and glisten.

Tomatoes and spice are added to browned beef and vegetables

Pour the tomatoes in to the pot and add the smoked paprika. If using the Tabasco sauce, add a few drops at this stage but do be careful - it is potent and powerful stuff!

Spicy beef sauce is brought to a gentle simmer

Stir the tomatoes and spices in to the sauce and bring to a very gentle simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Cooked and drained conchiglie pasta is added to spicy beef sauce

The pasta should be added to a large pot of heavily salted water to simmer for seven or eight minutes. It should then be drained and allowed to steam off and dry out. When the sauce is ready, tip the pasta in to the sauce pot.

Conchiglie pasta is carefully stirred through beef sauce

Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the pasta through the sauce before spooning the combination in to two serving plates and garnishing with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Conchiglie pasta in spicy beef sauce is plated