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