Sweet Potato, Red Pepper & Lentil Curry
Sweet Potato, Red Pepper & Lentil Curry
Moroccan Chicken Tagine.
Moroccan food and the flavours of North Africa are amongst my favourite cuisines and a regular dinner in our house is a chicken tagine.
Morocco is a fairly diverse country …
In a change from my usual food and recipe posts, I’m writing about herbs and my garden this week. The garden plays a big part in what happenes in the kitchen throughout the year and particularly over the summer and autumn months.
As long as I’ve had a garden, it’s always been a case of work in progress, and I think that’s probably the case for most people if they have a sizeable garden. I’ve had this garden for 26 years and although over that time we’ve put our own stamp on it, we’ve also made lots of mistakes.
Some plants failed to thrive, others just didn’t survive and my ambitions for a Mediterranean style garden in the West of Scotland saw the demise of plants that really weren’t suited to the garden.
Some area’s suffered from too much shade, others from bad drainage, and then there was the flock of free range chickens whose love of my herbs and salads led to the name ‘peck and come again.
The recent spell of warm weather has been a real boost for the plants and this year the herbs have got off to a particularly good start.
This fennel plant is well established and every year produces a healthy crop which is well used in many of the fish dishes I cook and is a delicious addition in salads. Apart from cutting back and removing the old woody stems it seems to take care of itself. Fennel is drought resistant but as you can imagine, that’s not a problem in my Scottish garden.
Sage is a herb I’m never short of and this plant will need to be cut back next spring. It started off as a small plant and has completely taken over the top of one of the beds. I tend to use sage with chicken and pork; it’s always in my Christmas sage and onion stuffing and fried leaves pair beautifully with butternut squash, particularly if it’s with ravioli and melted butter. It also dries well and leaves can be frozen.
This bed has a bit of a mixed bunch of herbs – parsley, lemon verbena, red veined sorrel and there’s a new cornflower plant peeping through in the background. Parsley is a herb I can never have enough of and try to grow as much as possible throughout the year. It’s so versatile and makes its way into soups, sauces and casseroles, sometimes on a daily basis and always on a weekly basis. It’s great with many fish dishes and can also be found in many of my pasta dishes.
The red veined sorrel is new to the garden this year and will most likely be used in salads. The sharp tangy flavour makes it useful addition to fish dishes and sauces. I’ll report back on how I use it although if you have any ideas, please leave me your comments at the bottom of this post.
Lemon balm is a herb I’ve always grown, mainly for the aroma rather than for culinary use. The leaves have a very uplifting smell and on a summers day it’s nice to run your hands through and inhale. As it’s part of the mint family I’ve been thinking of adding it to iced water to make a refreshing drink. Perhaps it’s time to make more of an effort to use lemon balm in the kitchen as it will add a delicious lemon flavour, particularly in sweet dishes.
As a family of lamb lovers, one herb I’m never without is rosemary and this picture shows a small rosemary hedge I had grown along the edge of one of the beds. Unfortunately it was attacked by a pest last year and the entire hedge and the curry plant growing along side had to be dug up. Since then, I’ve planted several plants in containers and most of them seem to flourishing this year. Rosemary and garlic are essential partners with roast lamb and I regularly chop rosemary sprigs to add to roast potatoes.
I’m not growing as many vegetables this year but have set myself a challenge to be completely self sufficient in salads.
To ensure success I’m doing this in 3 ways. I’ve been making regular sowings of mixed cut and come again salads, both indoors and outdoors and I bought a few established plants that have already been planted into the beds.
Check back next week to see how the salad project is growing.
Every other week I roast a chicken either for a meal or to keep the family going in lunches and sandwiches.
Nothing goes to waste, right down to the carcass which is either used immediately to make stock or it goes into the freezer to be used later.
Occasionally, there’s enough leftover meat for a meal and when that happens one of my favourite ‘go to’ recipes is this easy chicken biryani. If you’re really well organised you can use the homemade stock from the carcass and add to the biryani!
This is a much simpler version than some of the elaborate Indian and Persian recipes for biryani which is very often served as a special dish at celebrations. Being simple doesn’t mean it’s less tasty and the addition of the roasted cauliflower adds an extra layer of delicious flavour and also packs in some extra health giving goodness. Traditionally chilli is not part of a biryani and the flavours in this recipe are not overly hot. For an extra kick, feel free to add some fresh chilli.
There’s very little prep involved and don’t forget if you’re short of time, get the veg prepped the night before to save time later.
This is the kind of dish I like for a quick mid week meal although I would also be happy to serve this up as part of a more special or elaborate meal. Elevate it to another level by sprinkling with toasted almonds and serving with mango or hot banana chutney and a raita.
Busy family lifestyles need quick options for healthy and quick meals and this smoked mackerel hotpot is one of my go to dishes. It’s definitely a dinner in a dash – it doesn’t take long to cook and that’s a bonus after a long day at work, particularly if there’s the added energy draining task of taking and collecting kids from after school school activities.
A pack of the smoked mackerel fillets from the supermarket is ideal for this recipe although it’s a versatile dish and can be made with other types of smoked fish, including tinned fish. Varying the vegetables also adds to the versatility and if you’re trying to get the kids to pack in the 5 a day fruit and veg for a healthier diet, it works well with celery, courgettes, spring onions, peas and green beans.
I normally use pre made gnocchi as it cooks so quickly, normally 2-3 minutes, and, as a standby by for last minute meals I usually keep a pack of the long life gnocchi in the store cupboard. It makes a nice change from pasta or potatoes and with its quick cooking time, what’s not to like.
The cheese and breadcrumb topping is optional but I think it gives a nice texture to the dish and contrasts well with the soft gnocchi and creamy sauce.
The Ultimate Fast Food –
Blue cod in the galley kitchen. Another tale from our recent trip to New Zealand.
Kitchens have a certain magnetism for me and wherever I go it’s a given that I’ll end up in the kitchen. Even on holiday, I can’t drag myself away from the pull of a sharp knife and a stove. Holiday cooking, particularly if it’s in another country, has the added interest of new ingredients and local fresh food. Our current trip to New Zealand is taking in some sailing and that is giving me the opportunity to cook in the galley kitchen of the yacht, SV Defiant.
It’s much smaller than I’m used to at home and with space at a premium, our host Lisa has organised it perfectly and that makes it a very cook friendly space. Everything you need to cook a meal is included – a two ring gas burner, an oven and a microwave.
There’s a fantastic range of kitchen utensils, pots and pans, including extremely sharp knives – essential for dealing with the fresh fish we’re catching. Lisa has a tremendously well stocked larder of dry and tinned ingredients; along with a treasure trove of herbs and spices, and it’s the first port of call when a fresh fish lands in the kitchen. I love that kind of cooking – rather than having a recipe in mind, looking at the main ingredients and building the dish with what’s in store.
We’ve eaten really well and with limited space; one pot dishes have made the cooking more manageable and of course there’s the added bonus of fewer dishes to be washed.
New Zealand has a fantastic coast line for fishing and is blessed with a natural bounty of great fish. Kia Morna – Food of the ocean – is plentiful here.
Blue cod are endemic to New Zealand and we found them in plentiful supply although restrictions are in place to control the numbers caught and all had to be over 33cm. Our catch of four was within the legal limits in the Marlborough sounds. Restrictions are also in place regarding the transportation of filleted blue cod in this area and it’s not unusual for fisheries officers to board pleasure boats to check the size of the catch. Filleting blue cod in advance of cooking means the officers are unable to tell if the whole fish was of legal size.
This recipe came from the ingredients we had in stock in the board pantry and the freshly caught blue cod provided by our eager hunter gatherers.
The hunter gatherers go off in search of fish.
I’ve also added this recipe to the #recipeoftheweek link up at Emily Leary’s, A Mummy Too blog.
I’m having a break from the kitchen for the next few weeks to experience a relaxing life down under in New Zealand – and in my mind, there’s really no better way to get to know a country than through it’s people, it’s culture and it’s local food. This is our second trip to the country and top of my list was to find out more about the Māori culture and to visit a traditional Wharenui or meeting house. With family living in New Zealand, I was familiar with some aspects of the culture – probably the most well known is the haka, the ancient Māori war dance performed by the All Blacks at rugby matches. There’s also the intricate carvings and artwork but I’d never experienced the rich and diverse cultural traditions of the people.
The timing of our trip was perfect as February 6th is Waitangi Day – the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi -the founding document of New Zealand. Signed in 1840, this is an agreement entered into by representatives of the British Crown and of Māori iwi (tribes) and hapū (sub-tribes). It’s named after the place in the Bay of Islands where the Treaty was first signed.
We didn’t have to travel far; close to where we were staying is the Waikawa Marae – a Marae is a fenced-in complex of carved buildings and grounds and it’s central to Māori Culture. Each marae belongs to a particular iwi, hapū or whānau – a Māori family and is used for meetings, celebrations, funerals, educational workshops and other important tribal events.
Being Waitangi Day, the Waikawa Marae along with Māoris throughout New Zealand were taking the opportunity to share their culture during the day of celebrations.
Visitors to New Zealand are encouraged to respect Tikanga Māori, the traditional Māori culture and customs that have been handed down through time. These remain as relevant today as they did in historical times and an example of this is the formal welcoming ceremony at the Marae. It’s traditional for visitors to respect the sacredness of the Marae and remain outside until officially welcomed onto the meeting grounds.
Those who have never set foot on a Marae are known as waewae tapu or sacred feet and must take part in a what’s known as a pōwhiri – a traditional Māori welcoming ceremony to remove the tapu – sacredness and make them one with the local people.
The pōwhiri began with a powerful challenge – this is known as a wero and it was performed by a Māori warrior from the marae. The challenge is to to check whether the guests are friend or foe and of course, we had come in peace. During the challenge the warrior laid a small bunch of greenery on the ground and this was graciously accepted by our Māori guide to show our peaceful intentions.
The Māori women standing outside the meeting house sang a song of welcome and this signalled that it was acceptable for us to start moving onto the marae.
Our female Māori guide responded with her own call and very slowly and solemnly we began our short journey onto the marae. In keeping with the Māori tradition, the women stepped onto marae first; flanked by the men for protection, but, on reaching the wharenui, everyone removed their shoes and the men entered first. It’s a further symbolic act of protection to ensure it’s safe for the women to enter. Our hosts greeted us with the ceremonial hongi, the traditional Māori touching of noses and the welcoming Māori greeting ‘Kia Ora.’
A number of speeches, all in the Māori language were made by the men and each of these was followed by a song in support of the speech. There was no translation but a short explanation of some parts was given by Māori woman – there had been some quiet laughter during the speeches and she was keen to tell us that they were not laughing at the guests but at a joke about the New Zealand cricket teams recent victory over Australia!
She also explained that Māori’s believe that everyone should have a say and talked about ‘wake eke noa,’ – a Māori proverb meaning ‘a canoe which we are all in with no exception. Simply meaning, ‘we are all in this together.’
Like many cultures, food is central to celebrations and in keeping with the Māori tradition of hospitality, simple food was shared at the end of the pōwhiri. It’s traditional for visitors to present a koha, a gift to the marae hosts – on this occasion it was money; and was seen, not as a donation from the pocket, but rather a gift from the heart.
Māori people see their marae as tūrangawaewae – their place to stand and belong and we felt honoured to have visited and shared their Waitangi Day celebrations.
Gamba – A Seafood Cookbook.
Cook books from Scottish chefs are currently somewhat of a rarity – only a handful have been released in the past few years. The latest being an impressive book – Gamba – ‘A Seafood Cookbook’ by Derek Marshall, Chef Patron of Glasgow’s top seafood restaurant, Gamba.
The award winning, two AA rosette restaurant has remained popular with diners since it opened in 1998 and the new book reflects Derek’s passion for cooking with sustainable Scottish seafood.
The recipes capture the Gamba ethos – ‘Using fresh, well sourced fish and seafood makes it easy to create a wonderful meal, ‘and the book represents the best of Gamba with the recipes showcasing dishes featuring fish and seafood that are perfect for simple suppers as well as special occasions.
It’s a book for anyone interested in cooking seafood and it’s one you’ll reach for time and time again. “All the recipes are essentially quite simple because my philosophy in the kitchen has always been to let the ingredients do the talking,” explains Derek. “Many can be found on our menus in Gamba while others are brand new and yet to be featured,” Each recipe calls for fresh, seasonal ingredients and Is easy to make at home in your own kitchen.”
In addition to chapters on starters and mains, the book offers hints and tips on how to get the best out of great ingredients as well as providing foolproof methods for preparing essential recipe components such as stock and salad dressing.
The recipes for Gamba’s famous Fish Soup – known as ‘Foup is featured along with one of Derek’s long time favourites, Whole Lemon Sole Meunière a classic Gamba dish that has graced the menu since the day he restaurant opened.
Tempting and mouthwatering starters include
Gamba is all about sustainability and recipes for main dishes include widely available seafood favourites including halibut, monkfish, hake, cod and john dory.
Of course no cook book would be complete without a chapter on stunning desserts, and the Gamba Cookbook excels with favourites like, Gamba’s Bitter Chocolate Tart and Liquorice Creme Brûlée. And cooks who like to cook with a glass of something to hand will be impressed with the the recipes for a selection of Gamba’s Signature Cocktails.
“It’s been a labour of love collating all the recipes for this book,” says Derek. “Customers often ask us for advice on cooking fish and seafood, and ‘Gamba – A Seafood Cookbook’ shows them that cooking our delicious recipes at home isn’t complicated if you choose your ingredients well and cook them simply. Scotland has some of the best produce in the world and I hope my new cookbook goes some way to showcasing the fruits of the sea.”
And a final word from Derek, “A simple twist on a traditional recipe can turn something good into something great.”
‘Gamba – A Seafood Cookbook’, priced at £25, is Derek Marshall’s second cookbook. Copies are available now directly from the restaurant.
Thanks to Derek Marshall for providing the copy of ‘Gamba – A Seafood Cookbook for Review.
Mark K Seater, Simple Photography, Glasgow.
VEGAN HAGGIS ROULADE with VEGAN WHISKY CREAM SAUCE
One wonders what Robert Burns would have thought of vegetarian haggis – If he were around today I’m not sure he would pen another 8 verses of the ‘Address to a Haggis, but he would have surely delivered some worthy light hearted ditty in honour of this much in demand 21st century dish. It’s become so popular that well know Scottish haggis producer – MacSween’s say it accounts for one in four of all haggis sales.
I invited my friend Janice Clyne, to come up with a vegan recipe for Burn’s night and she created this delicious feast that both vegans and non vegans will not only hearty and satifying but packed full of flavour. Janice is a Glasgow based Food Scientist, health educator, plant based blogger and an outstanding advocate for real food. Her blog, Nourished by Nature is well worth a look and is full of healthy vegan recipes. Janice used vegetarian haggis from Simon Howie for her recipe.
This is a fantastic vegan dish to celebrate Burns Night! Wrapping the haggis filling in puff pastry makes for a rather delicious and impressive main course! The filling has plenty of texture and flavour with the addition of pine nuts, mushrooms, spinach, herbs and balsamic vinegar.
Pre- scoring the pastry makes this a doddle to cut and serve and all the prep can be done in advance, leaving you free to enjoy the evening with a wee dram or two!
This is fantastic served with potatoes and a big pile of steamed spring greens or the more traditional bashed neeps! We serve this with a delicious whisky cream sauce!
Ingredients – serves 6
1 pack of shop bought puff pastry
1 pack of Vegetarian haggis (450g)1 250g pack of mushrooms, chestnut, or any mixture you like1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 250g pack of mushrooms, chestnut, or any mixture you likefew tablespoons fresh herbs, thyme, sage or rosemary, or a teaspoon dried herbs
½ cup (50g) pine nuts
good few handfuls of spinach, washed and chopped
1 or 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar½ cup (50g) pine nuts
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
soya or other plant based milk for brushing the pastry
1. First take your puff pastry out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature.
2. Cook the haggis. The easiest way is to unwrap it, cut it into slices and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes. Alternatively you can cook it in a pan of boiling water or in the oven following the instructions on the pack.
3. Wipe and chop the mushrooms into small pieces or slices, add them to a large pan with 1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil with the herbs and cook for 5 to 10 minutes with a pinch of sea salt. Add a few handfuls of washed spinach and stir until it wilts down. Drain off any liquid then add a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar. Add the pine nuts, mix well, taste and adjust the seasoning. Mix with the cooked haggis and leave to cool.
4. Unroll the puff pastry onto a non stick baking tray. I always buy the kind which is already rolled into a sheet. Jus Roll do a good one, it comes in a green cardboard box. If you buy the small square one then you will have to roll it out into a rectangle shape about 14 by 10 inches. Keep the greaseproof paper the pastry is wrapped in underneath the pastry sheet, it makes it easier to fold.
5. With the long side facing you, layer your filling in the middle of the pastry sheet. Shape it with your hands into a long fat sausage shape.
6. Lightly brush all the edges with some soya milk.
7. Fold both the long edges of the pastry to cover the filling and press down firmly to seal the edges. Fold the edges in and pinch them together. You should now have a long sausage shaped pastry with a fold along the middle. Carefully flip the pastry roll over so that the join is on the bottom. It’s much easier to do this if you keep the greaseproof paper underneath. Just use the paper to carefully roll the pastry over, then remove the paper.
8. Cut slices into the top of the roulade and brush with soya milk. I cut mine into 10 slices but you could make it 12 if you have smaller appetites or more people to feed!
9. Bake in a hot oven at 220 or 200 or a fan oven for around 30 to 35 minutes until nicely browned and crisp!
10. Slice and serve with potatoes and greens and whisky cream sauce!
This is a delicious dairy free sauce, it’s a fairly thin pouring sauce which is perfect served in a gravy boat at the table! Feel free to add more whisky! We made this with an Islay malt whisky which imparted a lovely peaty, smoky flavour!
Ingredients Serves 4 to 6
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 glug rapeseed oil
250 ml carton of Alpro Soya Cream or Oatly Cream
1 teaspoon dried herbs
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 teaspoons malt whisky
Sea salt and pepper
1 or 2 teaspoons maple syrup
1. Heat the oil in a small pan, add the crushed garlic and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes.
2. Add the herbs, a pinch of salt, the soya cream, mustard, whisky, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup.
3. Cook over a gentle heat for five minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking.
4. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more whisky/mustard/maple syrup to get a flavour to your liking.