Mushroom & Potato Kinda Korma

A korma brings to mind a mild, creamy curry dish, which is brimming with subtly spiced flavour. This is definitely redolent of a korma but it’s really a much simpler take, using coconut milk to achieve the creamy, nutty edge. I have amped up the chilli in this version, because I was feeling in need of a red hot kick to start my evening off. But if your taste buds are longing for a milder treat, reduce or omit the chilli.

The mushrooms and potato work really well together, but if you want to go off piste use any of your favourite veg. You could even add chicken, fish or prawns, just make sure you cook everything thoroughly.

I like to serve this with steaming hot, fluffy basmati rice. However, the rice aficionados among you may well notice that in this instance I used jasmine rice. Variety is, after all, the spice of life…

Mushroom and Potato Kinda Korma

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A nugget of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli. Or just use a pinch for a milder version
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish cubes
  • 150 g of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 small can of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 130g basmati rice, cooked to packet instructions or your favourite method

Method

  • In a pan heat a tablespoon of oil and fry your onions for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and stir around for another minute then stir in the spices and cinnamon stick.
  • Add the potato and coconut milk and simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.
  • Now you can add the mushrooms and Garam Masala and simmer away, with the lid off, for another five minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked just the way you like them.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve with your hot rice.

Herby Roasted Gnocci With Broccoli and Tomatoes

I have become obsessed with roasting my meals of a weekend. I’ve got a bit more time on my hands than during the week but I don’t always want to stand watch over a bubbling pan. Pretty much anything you can cook on the hob can be chucked in the oven.

What I love about the roasting method is the effortless ease with which you prepare your meal: a bit of chopping, chucking of ingredients into tin then closing the oven door and toddling off to do something more interesting…painting a masterpiece / solving climate change / sipping an aperitif. And what’s more, the flavours become deeper, richer and the whole dish is resultingly more satisfying. Give it a whirl, you won’t look back.

Herby Roasted Gnocci with Broccoli & Tomatoes

Serves 4 – 5

Ingredients

  • 2 x 500g bags of gnocci
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
  • A punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • About a tablespoon of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • A heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (I love aleppo or pul biber)
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to your taste
  • A few dollops of excellent pesto
  • A few small dollops of full fat cream cheese, or ricotta if you prefer
  • A generous grating of parmesan cheese

Method

  • First of all preheat your oven to 200 C / gas 7.
  • Pour your gnocci into a pan and cover with boiling water. Leave it to stand for just a couple of minutes then drain immediately.
  • Now tumble the gnocci, broccoli, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, chilli. olive oil, salt and pepper into a large roasting tin and give it a good toss so that everything is coated in the herbs and chilli.
  • Pop the tin in the oven and roast for about half an hour, by which time the gnocci will have developed some beautiful crispy bits and will be golden in colour.
  • Before serving, dollop over the pesto and cream cheese. Have a little taste and if you think it needs it add more salt, pepper or chilli flakes.
  • Dive in.

Veggie Shepherds Pie

I was tempted to call this Sheep’s pie as a sheep may well enjoy all of these veggie ingredients, but I’m not convinced it’s the most appetising name for something so delicious.

It was bitingly cold earlier this spring and I’d been craving mashed potatoes and warming, comfort food. So I gave this childhood classic a veggie makeover.

The base is a bit like a Bolognese sauce, only with Quorn mince and lentils. The potatoes have a hint of garlic and parmesan, so overall there’s a bit of an Italian shepherd’s theme.

I was in my usual hurry, so rather than bake this in the oven, I just smoothed the mash over the pan of sauce and popped it under a hot grill for a few minutes. Everything is piping hot anyway and the last minute grilling adds a beautiful crispy potato topping.

Veggie Shepherds Pie

Serves 4 hungry people

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 heaped tablespoons red lentils
  • 1 packet of Quorn mince
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped in half
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan, finely grated

Method

  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and fry your onions and carrots for about 8 minutes until they’re starting to get nice and soft.
  • Tip in the lentils and veggie mince and give everything a good stir. Now pour over your tomatoes crumble over a stock cube and fill your tomato can with water, pour the water over the sauce, scatter in the herbs and stir everything together.
  • While your sauce is bubbling away you can get on with the potatoes: boil your potatoes and garlic halves in plenty of salted boiling water until tender.
  • Drain thoroughly and return to the pan, add a big knob of butter, and half of the parmesan cheese. Mash those potatoes until nice and smooth.
  • Pop the grill on to heat up.
  • By now your sauce should be ready, the vegetables and lentils tender so remove the sauce from the heat. Pile the potatoes on top of the sauce, straight into the pan you cooked the sauce in, then smooth out to cover the sauce completely. Scatter over the remaining cheese and grill for a few minutes, until golden and crispy.

Sweet & Salty Choc-o-nut Cookies

Delicious, delovely, delectable, divine! To quote the utterly degroovey Deee-Lite. The surprising friendship of salty nuts and sweet chocolate is a true delight…though I can’t take credit for its conception.

My middle child, who has always had a knack for sensational flavour twists, fancied doing a bit of baking. These moreish morsels were his winning creation.

Normally, I find it hard to stop at 1 or 2 cookies, but the salty nuts make these gorgeously satisfying. And this, my friend, is a good thing because one bite of these and you will be hooked.

Choc-o-nut Cookies

Ingredients

  • 50g soft butter
  • 25g peanut butter
  • 160g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 60g salted peanuts

Method

  • First of all pop your oven on to 180C / 160C fan. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Beat your sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Now beat in your egg and vanilla.
  • Gradually add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa (we added 1/3 at a time).
  • Finally stir in the chocolate chunks and nuts.
  • Now just dollop tablespoons of the cookie dough onto your prepared baking sheets, leaving a few centimetres in between each cookie.
  • Pop them in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  • Once they’re baked to perfection, remove from the oven. Give them a few minutes to cool slightly before you move them to a wire rack.

Super Simple Salmon Chowder

Chowders are like the posh cousins of the soup family. A good fish chowder feels a bit grander than, say, a classic tomato soup or a chicken broth. To me, it’s a bit of an indulgence. I dare say a proper restaurant chowder would indeed be somewhat of a treat with lashings of cream and butter. This version, while tasting divine is, brilliantly, rather good for you. A definitively lighter rendition – posh and saintly.

Made mostly with chicken stock, it finds its delicate creaminess from a good glug of milk added near the end of the cooking. I tend to use full fat milk for this but I can’t imagine semi skimmed would taste noticeably inferior. I wouldn’t advise skimmed milk though, unless you want the creaminess in colour only. But then, why bother?

If you want to boost your veg intake, add sweetcorn, peas or chopped spinach. And finally, don’t scrimp on the bread. Big hunks of wholemeal or granary are spot on with a fish chowder.

Super Simple Salmon Chowder

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced quite finely
700ml chicken stock
300ml whole milk

1 pack of smoked salmon, chopped
1 lemon – zest of whole lemon and a squeeze of juice to taste
A handful of parsley, chopped
A few sprigs of dill, chopped (optional)

Method

Pop your potatoes, onion and hot stock in a pan and simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid on.

Once the potatoes are tender add the milk, heat through over a low heat then add the smoked salmon and lemon zest. Gently simmer for a couple of minutes.

Turn off the heat and add a spritz of lemon juice and the herbs. If you can wait, leave the chowder to sit for a few minutes so that all the flavours can merrily mingle.

Serve with an extra scattering of herbs and more lemon juice if you like.

Fabulous Filo Leftover Pie

This is more of a suggestion than a recipe, because you could use any leftovers you want to make this pie. As long as you have a few sheets of filo kicking about the kitchen you’re onto a winner.

I had made way too much curry on Friday night and I was all set to do my usual and turn it into soup. But as I opened the fridge I spotted 3 sheets of filo pastry. I’d used the rest of the pack to make samosas and just couldn’t decide what to do with the rest.

And so this happy collision of leftovers was born. I added a couple of handfuls of couscous to my leftover curry just to make sure this was a hearty enough pie for us hungry lot.

My curry was sweet potato and chicken, but like I say, you could use whatever curry you have leftover, or use up bolognese or bean stew or a creamy fish dish or a fiery chilli. You get the idea, just experiment with what you have. I don’t often have leftovers as we are a hungry household. But this is so good, with a satisfying crunch and a flavour packed filling I’d be tempted to make extra curry just so I know I’ll have enough leftover for this easy pie.

Fabulous Filo Leftover Pie

Ingredients

  • Leftover curry (or chilli or bolognese or stew)
  • A couple of handfuls of couscous (if you want to bulk up your sauce a bit)
  • A few sheets of filo pastry (enough to scrunch up over you dish), I used 3
  • A little oil or melted butter
  • Sesame seeds

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 160 C / gas 3.
  • Reheat your curry and chuck in the couscous, if you’re using it. You could also add a couple of handfuls of frozen peas, chopped spinach or some canned sweetcorn.
  • Pour the sauce into a heat proof dish.
  • Brush your filo sheets with a little oil or melted butter then scrunch up and pop atop the curry.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 30 minutes. When it’s cooked the pastry will be crisp and lightly golden brown.