Thai beef panang curry

Thai beef panang is a great introduction to cooking Thai at home. It tends to be milder than a lot of Thai curries but can easily be adjusted if you prefer a bit more fire in your curries! Other meats, or even, tofu can be used in place of beef however this stands up the spices well so do give it a go. Peanut is included in this recipe as it traditionally is- remember it is important to find plain peanuts and not ones that have been already salted or roasted.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Vegetable oil
400ml coconut milk
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
Handful of pea aubergines or chopped baby aubergines
Few kaffir lime leaves- deveined and chopped
4 minute steaks
1- 2 red finger chilli peppers- deseeded and finely chopped

For the spice paste

2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coarse sea salt
Few peppercorns
3 dried red finger chillies- soaked in water until softened
1 piece of fresh lemongrass- finely chopped
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
3 garlic cloves- chopped
Small piece of galangal- finely sliced
1 1/2 tbsp shelled plain peanuts
Few kaffir lime leave- deveined and finely chopped
2 tsp shrimp paste

1.You can make the curry paste well in advance to save you time later; it stores well in the fridge too. Take a small pan and dry fry the coriander and cumin seeds for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until the spices start to release their fragrance.

2. Place the toasted spices and all the other ingredients, apart from the shrimp paste, in a small processor or pestle and mortar and blitz until they form a paste. The shrimp paste needs to be cooked before adding to the mix so it doesn’t taste as strong. do this by taking a small piece of kitchen foil and loosely wrapping the shrimp paste in it; cook in a dry frying pan for a minute before adding to the spice paste and combining well.

3. When you are ready to make the curry, take a large pan and heat a glug of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Take the curry paste you have made already and fry for a few minutes until the flavours begin to be released. Pour in the coconut milk and add the before bringing to the boil. Add in the pea or baby aubergines, kaffir lime leaves and palm sugar and simmer for around 10 minutes to allow the spices develop and the sugar dissolves.

4. Keep the pan on low and add strips of minute steak; they will cook in a few minutes in the curry so keep an eye on them. When the beef is done to your liking, divide the curry between four bowls and top with fresh red chilli or extra peanut (adjust according to taste). Serve with jasmine rice.

Classic beef panang curry- bursting with flavour to wake up your tastebuds!

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Indulgent tartiflette

Tartiflette is a comforting French dish popular amongst those heading to Alpine resorts. Just picture the scene, coming back in from a day on the slopes and in need of a comforting dish to warm you up whilst sipping a glass of wine or two- heaven! If you like potato, cheese and bacon then this is the perfect dish for you! In my version I have added spinach as a nod towards one of your five a day but you could leave it out if you prefer or replace with kale if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Bag of baby spinach- approx. 250g
Knob of unsalted butter
800g waxy potatoes, such as King Edward
150g smoked bacon lardons (fried off) or smoked ham (cut into squares)
200g Reblochon or Camembert cheese
300ml double cream
120ml vegetable stock

1. Firstly preheat the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Wilt the bag of spinach into a saucepan over a medium heat and allow to cool slightly before squeezing out any excess water.

2. Rub a little softened butter in the inside of a baking dish approximately 20cm x 25cm in size. I sometimes use individual baking dishes so everyone has their own so it’s up to you. If you like, at this stage you could also cut a garlic clove in half and rub around the dishes for an added dimension.

3. Cut the potatoes into 3mm thin slices and layer in the dish with the spinach, bacon or ham and 150g of the cheese. I have also fried off a couple of shallots and layered this through as well for an extra texture so do try this next time. Leave the thinnest potato slices for the top so they go crispy when it’s cooked. Season to taste.

4. Pour over the cream and stock and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Take it out of the oven and pop the remaining 50g of cheese over the top and place back in the oven until golden and bubbling. Serve with steamed greens or a crisp salad if you like.

Light the open fire and try this indulgent tartiflette for a little taste of France! Heavenly…

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Prawn, courgette and tomato penne

During the autumn and winter months our dinner tables are full of rich, decadent dishes but sometimes a break from this is needed so this prawn and courgette pasta does the trick. The idea behind this came following a recent trip to Italy where they served a similar pasta dish which was light and oh so moreish. Take a leaf from the Italian’s book and keep the sauce as light as possible. I used raw king prawns to make sure they stay juicy when cooked; you can use a combination of king prawns and smaller prawns if you like but throw in the smaller prawns later in cooking so they don’t dry out.

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g penne
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
60ml dry white wine
1 small courgette- deseeded and chopped
100g baby plum tomatoes- halved or quartered depending on size
200g raw king prawns- deveined
2-3 tbsp. low fat crème fraiche
Fresh lemon
Handful of fresh basil

1. Get going by bringing a large pan of water to the boil and cook the penne according to packet instructions; aim for an al dente finish. Drain well and set aside whilst you make the sauce.

2. Take a frying pan and add a glug of olive oil. Cook the garlic and shallot until it is softening but make sure it does not turn golden. Add the courgette and tomatoes and cook for a further minute or so. Pour in the white wine and reduce by half. Reduce the heat to low and stir through the crème fraiche before adding in the prawns. Simmer until the prawns turn a gorgeous blush pink before finishing off with a sprinkling of fresh torn basil and a squeeze of lemon juice to lift the flavours. Remember you can adjust the creaminess of the sauce by adding more crème fraiche or loosening up the sauce with a splash of water if you find it becomes too thick.

Prawn and courgette penne- quick, light and a cinch to make!

Beef Khao Soi topped with crispy noodles

Beef khao soi brings a taste of Thailand to the comfort of your own home. It is a delicately spiced and fragrant curry noodle soup that is perfect for a chilly evening. I have added some mixed vegetables to this recipe to make it even heartier. It can be served with a range of meats and prawns but I have kept this recipe as simple as possible by using minute steak. This cut of beef is perfect as it cooks quickly whilst retaining its tenderness so give it a try!

I have included my recipe for red curry paste which forms the base of the recipe but if you’re short on time you can use a ready made paste. The paste also keeps well in the fridge as long as it’s kept in a well sealed pot so you can make a bigger batch at a time.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
Red curry paste

6 whole dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp galangal- chopped finely
1 tbsp lemonsgrass- chopped finely
1 tsp peppercorns
5 garlic cloves- finely grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely grated
2 shallots- finely chopped
1 lime- zest finely grated
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt

For the rest of the khao soi
400ml coconut milk
500ml hot vegetable stock
2 minute steaks- cut into thin strips
3 spring onions- shredded
2 generous handfuls of mixed vegetables- such as a stir fry variety pack
3 nests of medium egg noodles- reserve one for the topping

1. Start off by making the curry paste by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat. As the spices start to release their fragrance, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before grinding in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine to form a thick paste and you are good to go!

2. Heat a small amount of vegetable or groundnut oil in a wok and fry off the curry paste for a few minutes until it starts to release its flavours. Add the coconut milk and stock and stir well to combine. Increase the heat and bring to the boil before lowering to a simmer. I simmered it for around half an hour so it begins to reduce down and the flavours develop.

3. As the coconut milk is simmering, cook the noodle nests according to pack instructions. Set 2 nests worth of noodles aside for later and use one to make the crispy noodle topping. To do this, heat a good amount of oil in a deep pan over a medium/ high heat (remember to keep a careful eye on this!). Take some of the noodles at a time, trying not to overcrowd the pan, and fry until they crisp up and go a little golden. I used a slotted spoon to turn them over during cooking to get an even colour. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen towel.

4. When you are nearly ready to serve, add the mixed vegetables and spring onions into the wok to simmer for a couple of minutes before removing the wok from the heat and adding in the beef strips. I found that the delicate strips of beef cooked well in the residual heat but you could keep it on the hob on a very low heat if you prefer.

5. Divide the two noodle nests between two deep bowls. I used a slotted spoon to add on the beef and vegetable mix before using a ladle to spoon over the broth. Top with the crispy noodles and watch your fellow diners’ faces as you present this beautiful curry soup to them!

Beef khao soi with cispy noodles- fragrant, delicate and oh so moreish!

Garithes youvetsi- Greek baked prawns with tomato and feta

Garithes youvetsi is a typical Greek dish which is quick, easy and is perfect for entertaining or for a quiet night in. I can hear you thinking that the salty feta surely doesn’t go with delicate, sweet prawns but think again! With the careful balance of prawn to feta you can’t go wrong! I have used raw peeled king prawns for ease and to avoid having to cover myself in tomato sauce when trying to remove the shell but it’s up to you. Find a good quality feta that is both sharp and salty; avoid so called salad cheese at all costs! Feel free to pop in a couple of extra ingredients such as some baby spinach leaves or roasted red pepper for an added twist.

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Ingredients- serves 2
350g raw king prawns- deveined
Olive oil
1 onion- finely chopped
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
6 fresh vine tomatoes or a tin of chopped tomatoes
Fresh oregano and parsley
100ml dry white wine
100g feta

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160fan ready to receive the prawns later on. Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a saucepan and warm over a low heat. Cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they soften and release their flavour. Stir through the cumin and cook for a further minute.

2. Next up goes the tomatoes. If you’re using fresh tomatoes then dice them; you can remove the seeds and skin if you like. Add the wine and away it goes! Most recipes that call for wine put it in the base of the recipe but many Greek dishes add it into the sauce directly; of course, if you’re feeling daring then you can add a splash of ouzo! Turn the heat up to medium and simmer until most of the liquid has reduced. Add in the oregano and half of the parsley and season to taste. If you wanted to add in a little spinach or red pepper then this would be the time to add it in.

3. Take two ovenproof baking dishes to each person has their own to dig into. Place the prawns at the bottom of the dishes before dividing the tomato sauce between the dishes and placing over the prawns. Crumble the feta over the top and bake for around 10-13 minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Sprinkle the remaining parsley to serve and you may also like to serve with a side salad or some hunks of bread.

Garithes youvetsi- a taste of Greece in the comfort of your own home!

 

Roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup

Autumn is here and that means that soup season has started too! This roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup makes the best of fresh ingredients to bring out the flavours from each. When garlic and shallots are roasted they lose their pungency and develop a wonderful sweetness which keeps you wanting more. This recipe feeds four happily but it can easily be doubled to make a larger batch. The soup is best stored in a sealed container in the fridge and you will find that the flavours get better and better the day after you make it so try not to scoff it all in one go! It calls for leftover Parmesan (or similar) rind which sits in the soup whilst it’s simmering away and gives an extra umami hit. I always freeze leftover rinds for such occasions!

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Ingredients- serves 4
2 whole bulbs of garlic
6 shallots
Olive oil
Knob of butter
450g peeled potatoes- I used Maris Piper
Sea salt and pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs
900ml vegetable stock
Parmesan rind (optional but delicious so advised!)
40ml milk or double cream

1. Start by preheating the oven to 200c/ 180 fan ready for the garlic and shallot. Cut the tops of the bulbs and shallots to expose the flesh and then place cut side up on a sheet of foil. Drizzle with a good helping of olive oil and roast for around half an hour until tender. Remove from the oven, unwrap the foil parcels and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle squeeze out the flesh. Roughly chop the garlic and shallot ready for later and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, add a knob of butter to a large saucepan which will be big enough to fit the stock later on and heat over a medium heat. Take your peeled potatoes and cut into inch chunks. Sautee the potato chunks along with as much thyme sprigs, sea salt and pepper as you fancy for 15 minutes until they start to soften slightly. I used smoked sea salt which added an extra layer of flavour but normal sea salt will be work too. Add in the garlic and shallot and stir well to combine before cooking for a further few minutes.

3. Make up the stock and then add to the potatoes along with the parmesan rind (if using). Bring to the boil and then drop down to a simmer; cover and cook until the potatoes are softened. Add in the milk and simmer for a few more minutes until it thickens slightly. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve in deep soup bowls with some freshly grated parmesan, thyme leaves or crisped pancetta on top if you like and watch everyone tuck in!

Roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup- the only soup to make your house smell this good!

Carmarthen ham, asparagus ribbons and ricotta fusilli

This has to be one of the quickest recipes around so there’s no excuse not to get cooking in the week. Keep it simple and keep it delicious! I love the lightness ricotta brings which makes the other ingredients sing!

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Ingredients- serves 4
300g dried fusilli
1 banana shallot- finely sliced
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
1 small red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped
4 slices of Carmarthen or Parma ham- cut into pieces
150g asparagus- ribboned with a vegetable peeler
4 tbsp ricotta

1. Start off by boiling a large pan of water and cook the fusilli according to packet instructions. Meanwhile take a large frying pan and heat a glug of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Pop in the shallot, garlic and chilli and cook out for a minute or so. Next up goes the asparagus and ham. Cook for an additional couple of minutes until the asparagus has a slight crunch to it and the ham is cooked through.

2. Drain the pasta well, add a little olive oil and stir through the ricotta whilst the pan is on the heat. Add in the asparagus and ham mix and combine. You may also like to top with a parmesan and panko crumb for added texture. Simply take the panko and parmesan and toast in a dry pan before sprinkling over.

A light, fresh pasta for a summer day!