Hot chorizo salad with butternut squash & baby tomatoes

This is from a magazine I picked up at the airport and a recipe by MasterChef 2005 winner Thomasina Miers. It is also a bit fussier than I would normally put up with – it was the squash-cumin combination that got my attention. I am told that the effort was worth it, hence blogging it here for reference and others’ enjoyment.

Preparation time: 15 minutes (that’s optimistic, it’s more like 30 minutes what with peeling the squash).
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash de-seeded and cut into 5cm pieces
1 dried chilli, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
handful of oregano or marjoram
olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
punnet of baby tomatoes
small bunch coriander, chopped
4 large chorizo cooking sausages, bias cut into long rounds
150g cooked borlotti or pinto beans (I didn’t have any of these so left out, hardly noticed!)
baby spinach
100g Pecorino cheese

Step 1: Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put squash, chilli, cumin and oregano in a roasting dish, coat lightly with oil, season. Roast for 15 mins and add onion. Roast for 10 mins then add tomatoes. Roast for a final 10 mins.

Step 2: Pound the coriander leaves to a paste with a pestle and mortar, then add a pinch of salt. Cover with olive oil.

Step 3: Over a medium heat, fry chorizo 2 to 3 mins. Drain.

Step 4: Mix the veg and beans with coriander oil, spinach and chorizo. Add shaved Pecorino and oil.

The result is very tasty indeed.

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Prawn, tomato and ginger parcels

This is one of those chance recipes that just click into place and become favourite. I was investigating the range of chilled puff pastry dough in Waitrose (as you do) and my recipe radar went beep when I spotted the one on the back of JUS ROL All Butter puff. Go figure:

Ingredients

375g JUS ROL All Butter Puff pastry
150g prawns – cooked and peeled (I used frozen tiger prawns)
2.5cm piece root ginger – peeled and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes
small bunch of watercress – stalks removed (I used chives from my garden)
beaten egg
1 fresh chilli green or red finelly chopped
handful of petite pois
(the last two are my additions, not part of the original recipe)

Preheat over to 220C (200C for fan assisted over)/Gas 7

Divide the pastry into 4 and roll each part into a square approximately 12.5cm across

Combine the prawns, ginger, tomatoes and watercress and divide between the pastry squares, piling into the centre.

Brush the edges with beaten egg. Bring corners to the centre to meet over the filling. Pinch the parcels firmly at the corners to seal and fold back the point of the pastry from the centre to reveal the filling.

Brush pastry with egg and bake for approximately 15 minutes until pastry is risen and golden.

Having piled on more stuff than could fit the result was more flat than parcel-like. However, it was delicious and next time I will try to be less generous with the filling.

As it happened the king prawns were 20% off at Waitrose meat & deli counter, I had just the right amount of ginger left over, my tomatoes were ripe and in sufficient quantities to use them for cooking – the augaries were good and I obviously needed to make this that night. The sticky chicken I was planning to make that night could happily marinate in its juicy goodness for another day…

Chicken tikka masala

I made this last week on a weekday and must say it was the best Indian dish I have had outside the Painted Heron. It is not from an Indian source but from Gordon Ramsay. The rice is wonderful too, cardamom and star anise working its fragrant magic.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

Groundnut oil
1 large onion, peeled
2 fresh green chillies
1″ piece of ginger, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
4 boneless chicken breasts (approx 150g each), cubed
10 dried curry leaves
4-6 tbsp natural yoghurt
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

For the steamed rice
400g basmati rice, rinsed
600ml cold water
Salt and pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 star anise

  1. Heat two tablespoons of groundnut oil in a pan. Slice the onion and fry in the oil. Meanwhile, deseed and chop the chilli, chop the ginger and add to the hot pan, crush in the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
  2. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes to the pan and allow them to cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth (I transfered into a deepest pyrex ball I had and used a hand blender. This seems unnecessary as the sauce already look good, but it is an essential step to make the dish really creamy and make all the flavours blend.
  4. Add a tablespoon of fresh groundnut oil into the pan and fry the chicken pieces until lightly coloured (watch the video from Gordon on how to joint a chicken). Pour in the blended sauce and add the curry leaves. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Place the rice in a saucepan, add the cold water and season with salt and pepper (watch the video from Gordon on how to cook rice). Lightly crush the cardamom pods with your fingers and add to the pan with the star anise. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to steam for a further 5 minutes. Remove the cardamom and star anise. Fluff up the rice with a fork and set aside.
  6. Stir in the yoghurt to the chicken curry along with half the chopped coriander. Serve with the steamed rice and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Spicy dhal soup

After a rather nice dinner in an Indian restaurant, I decided to have a go at cooking some Indian dishes myself. I came across this red lentil soup, which turned out to be fragrant, tasty and filling. Serve with some warm grilled naan bread spread with a little garlic butter and cut into chunky fingers. If not bothered about keeping it vegetarian, serve with a decent amount of dry-fried bacon, it works wonderfully and turns it into a hearty dish.

Serves 4, takes 30 minutes to prepare. I made a double batch, which is enough for 8, for sure.

Ingredients:

225g dried red lentils
3 tbsp sunflower oil (used light & mild olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, grated
1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and chopped, plus extra to garnish, if you like
1 medium-hot green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
300ml hot vegetable stock (I used my own chicken stock, foregoing the vegetarian option)
200g can chopped tomatoes
Good pinch of cayenne pepper
100ml coconut cream
100g baby leaf spinach, to serve (I didn’t have any so I used lots of fresh parsley)
20g bunch fresh coriander, to serve
6 tbsp natural yogurt, to serve (optional)

  1. Put the lentils into a medium saucepan and cover with 900ml of cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until tender and just falling apart. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in another pan, add the onion and fry gently for 15 minutes, until browned. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the spices and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, the lentils and their liquid, canned tomatoes, cayenne pepper and season with salt to taste. Cover and simmer for just 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then add the coconut cream. Blend, using a hand blender or in batches in a liquidiser, until the soup is almost smooth.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the spinach and most of the coriander leaves and cook for a further minute. Using a hand blender, blend briefly until the spinach is just roughly chopped.
  5. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of yogurt, the remaining coriander leaves and some finely chopped red chilli, if you like.

Note:
Nutritional Information per serving
369kcals
16.1g fat (1.6g saturated)
18.3g protein
41.6g carbs
7.6g sugar
1.6g