Beef and peanut massaman curry

I had the lovely Phil over for dinner and Doctor Who last night (Sylvester McCoy Sword and Sorcery Epic Battlefield, for those who are interested!) and so I cobbled together this little recipe. I was experimenting and the end result turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. (although, to be fair, Phil did say so too!) My starting point was to use up some of the excess of salted peanuts that we have left after our Eurovision party. Online searches for ‘… and peanut curry’ recipes (thank god that the BBC recipe collection is still there for the time being.) turned up quite a few massaman curry results, and, as I have some massaman curry paste in the fridge, it seemed like a good choice.

Phil likes things quite spicy. I like some spice but not too much, so regular checking and adjusting accordingly is the order of the day. I always make about 350ml of stock, despite only using 250, so I’ve got extra to add if required to dilute the spice a bit!  The amounts listed here were just right for us – spicy enough for Phil’s palate but not so spicy that I was reduced to hiccups and heartburn for the rest of the evening!

The version I’ll list here served two (with a bit left over) but you can easily scale it up.

3 tablespoons of olive oil
400-450g of beef, cut into thin strips
2 medium red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
6 new potatoes, cut in half (the new potatoes I used were really quite small – use as many as you see fit. If they’re too large you may want to cut them into quarters.)
1 leek, thickly sliced
A handful of mangetout
1 red pepper, de-seeded and thickly sliced
1-2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
1 lemongrasss stalk, finely chopped
1 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 teaspoons of massaman curry paste (or to taste – adjust the seasoning during cooking)
440ml of coconut milk
200-250ml of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of tomato pureé
Juice of 1 lime
A good handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 -2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil.

Cook the strips of beef until browned all over and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Pour away half of the oil in the pan and then add the remaining tablespoon.

Fry the garlic, lemongrass, chilli and ginger for a minute or so over a medium heat. Then add the onion and leek, and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the massaman curry paste and stir well to combine. Return the meat to the pan and stir well so that the meat is well coated in the paste.

Add the liquid – first the stock and then the coconut milk. Stir well.

Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for half an hour. (Check regularly to make sure that the liquid isn’t reducing too much. The end result should be fairly liquidy – not too dry, but not a soup either!)

After half an hour, add the chopped tomato, tomato pureé, potatoes, lime juice and red pepper slices.

Check both the seasoning and the spiciness and, depending upon how you like it, adjust either or both accordingly.

Stir well and simmer for a further 15 minutes or so.

After 15 minutes add the mangetout and chopped peanuts and stir in the chopped coriander.

Cook for a further 15 minutes and then serve with boiled basmati rice.

Delicious! (not the best photo, but seeing as I nearly forgot, you’re lucky that there’s one at all!)


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Cicchetti con la ricotta e lardo

These were rather tasty and very easy to do. Alberto pronounced them ‘amazing’ and they were certainly popular. The recipe is also from the book Cicchetti and the author goes to some lengths to explain what lardo is, and how it is different from lard, and finally, how you can’t get it in this country and will have to use thin slices of pancetta instead! In the end I used thin slices of proscuttio, as that’s what I happened to have to hand. The end result worked very well though.

(In case you were wondering lardo is apparently, wafer thin slices of cured pork back fat.)

Makes 24

24 crostini (the recipe says that you can use slices of baguette instead of crostini and this is what I did.)
270g of ricotta
250g of walnuts, chopped
Salt and black pepper
45g of thinly sliced lardo or unsmoked pancetta cut into small strips or squares

Mix the ricotta, chopped nuts, salt and pepper and spread over the crostini.

Fry the lardo/pancetta/proscuttio pieces until crispy and top each ricotta crostini with a piece.


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Polpettine di melanzane (aubergine patties)

I made these tasty little patties for our Eurovision party The recipe is from a new cookbook that Alberto bought me for my birthday, called Cicchetti, by Lindy Wildsmith and Valentina Harris, which is, essentially, ‘Venetian Tapas’. The recipes look delicious and, as they are, mostly, dishes to share, a party was a good place to try out a couple of them. This recipe and the next both come from this book.

This recipe was nice, but I felt that I should have added a little more cumin and dried chilli than the recipe suggested, just for a little extra kick. I definitely over cooked a few of them as they were a darker brown, and rather crispier, than they should’ve been. I did leave making them until rather late in the day though so it was all a bit of a rush. The aubergine mixture is a little sloppy too, so it can be tricky to keep it all together in a ball whilst dipping it in the egg, flour and breadcrumbs. Perhaps refrigerating them for an hour or so before frying them would help – hopefully the next time I make them I’ll have the time.

According to the recipe tiny, freshly fried polpettine, with a variety of different fillings and flavours, are ‘the trademark of many a Venentian bàcaro.’ They’re certainly tasty and worth making again.

Makes 30 (allegedly, although I only got about 20 out of the mixture – maybe my teaspoons were a bit generous!)

For the patties:

500g of aubergine
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
40g of fresh breadcrumbs
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ an egg
½ a teaspoon of cumin or chilli flakes (I added both cumin and chilli and wish I’d added more of each)
Salt and black pepper

To fry:

1-2 eggs, beaten with a little water
75g of flour
50g of fresh breadcrumbs
1 litre of sunflower oil
Lemon wedges to serve

Preheat the oven to 170.

Put the aubergines on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake until squishy to the touch – about 20-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Once cool peel them and squeeze out any excess moisture, then chop into small pieces. (but not to mush)

Transfer to a bowl and add the garlic, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, breadcrumbs, spices, salt and pepper and egg.
Mix well and then roll teaspoons of the mixture into small balls. You can, at this point, refrigerate them until required – on reflection I should’ve done that as it may have made dipping them a bit easier.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

Dip the balls in the egg mixture, then the flour, then the egg again and then finally the breadcrumbs.

Once the oil is hot enough, gently drop a few balls into the oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan – I found it best to cook 5 or so at a time – and cook until golden.

Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

Best served warm, although they are nice cold as well, with lemon wedges.

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Saturday evening was the musical extravaganza that is The Eurovision Song Contest and Alberto and I had our annual party. As was always the way we spent the day in the kicthen massively over-catering for the event. There was loads of food at the start of the party and although everyone ate well, and certainly no-one went home hungry, there are still loads of leftovers in the fridge today.


Some of the recipes are ones I’ve done before and there are a couple of new ones too.

Included in the spread were:

Chocolate chip and lime squares:

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Banana muffins:

Butternut squash and goat’s cheese quiche:


Sausage pie:

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Sujuk sausage rolls:


Creamy leek and feta börek:

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Cheddar-baked Olives:

The new recipes are to follow…

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Sausage, leek, butternut squash and cider casserole

Yesterday evening, as Fig was busy at work and thus unavailable for Whoery, I had the lovely Douglas and the equally lovely Phil over instead. After some debate we opted for The Curse of Peladon for its topical EU/Brexit/Bremain connotations, Ice Warriors, phallic aliens, streaky hair-dos and David Troughton’s milky-white thighs.

I was undecided about what to cook for dinner and spent a bit of time pondering it. Flicking through some recipes online I was drawn to the idea of a sausage casserole, something light, rather than tomato-y, but full of flavour. I cobbled this together out of some ideas and a bit of opportunism. (The inclusion of a handful of chopped up pieces of belly pork only occurred because there was a rather forlorn little piece of belly pork sitting, looking unloved, on the butchery counter in Sainsbury’s.) It seemed to come out quite well though and both of my guests declared it tasty. Because of its cobbled together nature the measurements are a bit haphazard.

Serves 3

9 Cumberland sausages
75 of belly pork, sliced into 1cm chunks
1-2 fat leeks, trimmed and sliced
2 red onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, unpeeled
1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
½ a medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced into bite-sized pieces
300ml of dry cider
300ml of chicken stock
2 teaspoons of English mustard
Leaves from 3-4 sprigs of thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200

In a large saucepan heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the sausages and cook for 5 minutes or so until browned all over. Remove from the pan and transfer to an oven-proof casserole dish.

Add the belly pork to the pan and cook until browned and then remove to the casserole dish.

In the same oil add the onion and chopped garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.

Add the leek, chopped chilli and thyme and cook for a further 4 minutes or so.

Once the leek is softened a bit, add the liquid – first the cider and then the stock, stirring well to combine. Add the mustard and stir well. Add the chunks of butternut squash.

Season well with salt and pepper and then bring to the boil. Once the liquid has boiled, remove from the heat and transfer, along with all the veg, to the casserole dish, covering the sausages.

Cover with foil and cook in the oven for at least an hour. Remove the foil for the last twenty minutes of cooking time so that he sauce with reduce and thicken a bit.

Serve immediately with plenty of the sauce. I served this with wasabi mash and sautéed kale.



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Proscuttio-wrapped, stuffed chicken breast

I made this for myself on Friday evening. I was pondering, in the afternoon, what too cook, and, as I had lots of bits of veg that needed using, some new potatoes, some squash, kale and asparagus, I was looking for some sort of meaty centerpiece. (Ooh! Bold!) The idea of stuffed chicken came to mind and so I flicked through a few recipes on the BBC website. Most of them opted for stuffing the chicken with some variety of cheese, which is all well and good, but I fancied something a little different and then I found tis one that suggested stuffing a chicken breast with sausage meat. Sounded like a great idea so I gave it a go.

Obviously I was only doing this for myself so all the measurements are a little approximate. Scale up as you see fit.

1 plump chicken breast
50g (or so) of sausage meat (rather than buying a pack of sausage meat I bought a sausage from the butchery counter in Sainsbury’s and skinned it. It was a pork and shallot sausage and I used about half the meat.)
¼ of a teaspoon of English mustard
A sprinkling of thyme leaves
3 slices of proscuttio

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Using a sharp knife cut a pocket in the plumpest part of the breast, using your fingers to broaden out the pocket if necessary.

Mix the sausage meat with the mustard and thyme leaves and then stuff into the pocket in the chicken breast.

Lay the three sliced of proscuttio out on a chopping board, place the chicken breast in the centre and wrap the slices around the breat.

In a frying pan heat some olive oil over a medium heat and then brown the wrapped chicken for 2-3 minutes each side.

Transfer to a roasting dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 35 minutes or so, until cooked through.

Delicious. The sausage meat filling compliments the chicken beautifully.



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Chicken in cider

I had the lovely Fig over for dinner and Doctor Who on Tuesday (it was supposed to be dinner and zombies, but he forgot to bring them, so we watched The Mutants instead!) and Alberto was working late so I thought I’d cobble together some sort of chicken stew that he could easily reheat when he got home. This is sort of amalgamated from a couple of other recipes and a dash of whatever-I-had-in-the-cupboard!

This is quite similar to a couple of earlier recipes but I thought it was distinct enough to deserve its own entry.

Serves 3

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 chicken thighs per person
50-60g of chorizo, roughly chopped
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
1 fat leek, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and thickly sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and thickly sliced
½ of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into bit-sized pieces
400g tin of butterbeans, drained and rinsed
300ml of dry cider
300ml of chicken stock
Leaves from 4 stalks of thyme
Sea salt and black pepper
2-3 tablespoons of crème fraiché
2-3 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
Leaves from 4-5 stalks of tarragon
1 teaspoon of paprika

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and gently heat the onion and chopped garlic, sweating them over a low heat.

Once they are soft and just beginning to colour, increase the heat slightly and add the chorizo, cooking until the pieces start to crispen.

Whilst the chorizo is cooking sprinkle the chicken breasts with a little sea salt and the paprika.

Once the chorizo is cooked, place the chicken thighs in the saucepan, skin side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin starts to become crisp, and then turn over and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the meat starts to brown.

Add the sliced peppers and stir well to combine. Add the liquid – first the cider and then the stock. Stirring well. Add the thyme leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper. Then add the squash pieces, ensuring that they are all ducked under the liquid.

Quickly bring to the boil and then reduce to as simmer and cook for 40 minutes or so, checking the liquid levels regularly.

After 40 minutes or so add the butterbeans, top up the liquid if required, and cook for a further 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove the chicken and vegetables from the pan and place on serving plates. Return the saucepan to the heat, increase the heat, and stir in the crème fraiché, mustard and tarragon. Season well and heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened a bit. Pour over the chicken and vegetables.

I served this with little new potatoes and sautéed kale!





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Three-pea duck stir-fry

I was popping out yesterday evening for a couple of pints with my friend Neil, so I opted for a quick stir-fry before going out – tasty but quick to do. The duck needs to be marinated for about an hour or so but as long as you plan in advance it’s not a problem.

Serves 4

450g of skinless, boneless duck breast.
3 tablespoons of groundnut oil
6 large spring onions, white and green parts separated and diagonally sliced into 2cm pieces
1 teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger
175g of sugarsnap peas
115g of mangetout, sliced in half diagonally
140g of shelled peas
1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of whole almonds, halved lengthways (I left these out as I don’t like them)
55g of beansprouts
Noodles to serve

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
3 tablespoons of warm water
1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of lime juice

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Slice the duck into bite sized pieces, add to the marinade and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a wok over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. Stir fry the white spring pieces and ginger for a few seconds. Add the duck and the marinade and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.

When the liquid has reduced slightly add the various types of peas and sliced red pepper and stir-fry for a 3-4 minutes.

Add the almonds, beansprouts and green spring onions and stir-fry for a further minute.

Serve over cooked noodles.



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Pork and kale pasta bake

On Wednesday I was working until 8pm and had the lovely Phil over for dinner and Doctor Who in the evening. (In the end we watched Victoria Wood, for obvious reasons!😦 ) and so I cobbled together this rather tasty little recipe in the morning before I started work. I just chucked in various different thing and it seemed to come out ok! I accidentally picked up a larger pack of pork mince than I thought that I had so the dish ended up rather meatier than I expected – seemed to work though

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus a little extra for frying the aubergine slices)
750g of pork mince
1 large leek, thickly sliced
1 red onion, diced
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
Zest of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and thickly sliced
1 orange pepper, deseeded and thickly sliced
1 medium courgette – ½ sliced and ½ grated
150g of curly leaf kale
300g of fresh fusilli pasta
5 thick slices of aubergine (after slicing, sprinkle with salt to draw out the bitterness. Leave for 10 minutes, then wipe clean before frying)
1 ball of mozzarella, drained and sliced into 8 slices
2 tablespoons of freshly parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cheese sauce:

1 teaspoon of butter
1 teaspoon of plain flour
150ml of double cream
100ml of milk
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of paprika
110g of mature cheddar, grated

Pre-heat the oven to 200

In a large frying pan heat the olive oil and gently fry the garlic and onion until starting to soften. Then add the pork mind and stir well until browned, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.

Once the mince is browned, add the chillies, leek, sliced courgette and sliced peppers. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently.

Add the parsley, lemon zest and grated courgette, season well with salt and pepper and then stir in the kale. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whilst this is cooking, cook the pasta in boiling water according to the cooking instructions. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Once the pork and vegetables are cooked, stir in the pasta and then, once well combined, set aside.

Make the cheese sauce – melt the butter and stir in the plain flour to make a roux. Cook the roux for a couple of minutes before stirring in the cream and milk. Heat over a medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce starts to thicken. When the sauce is thickening, stir in the paprika and mustard and then stir in the grated cheese, whisking thoroughly until melted.

Once the sauce is ready pour it over the pork, vegetable and pasta mix, stirring well to combine.

Lightly fry the aubergine slices in a little olive oil, until just starting to brown.

Transfer half of the mixture into a large ceramic ovenproof dish and place four of the sliced of mozzarella on top. Then cover with the remaining half of the mixture. Place the fried slices of aubergine on top and then the final four slices of mozzarella.

Grate a little more cheese over the top and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden.

Very tasty, if I do say so myself



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Cauliflower cheese deluxe

I made this for myself on Wednesday evening. I have to confess that ‘delux’ is bigging it up a bit – it was largely an exercise in using up things that I had in the fridge. Still, it was tasty though! I’d bought a cauliflower earlier in the week for a recipe but I hadn’t used even half of it so still had plenty left to form a core for this dish. I’ve always added a few extras to cauliflower cheese anyway – usually bacon and red onion, but this time I chucked in loads of other things as well. I bunged in some leek, red onion, red pepper, sprouts and sautéed, kale as well as various bits of meat. The recipe is a bit hit and miss and therefore not very precise, but the end result was tasty. Make it up as you go along!

Serves 1-2, depends how hungry you are!

1 cauliflower, cut into florets and the stems trimmed
1 leek, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
4 Brussels’s sprouts
3-4 rashers of bacon sliced
1-2 handfuls of kale, sautéed with garlic and lemon zest
40-50g of Spanish cured sausage, sliced (it’s not chorizo, but something else – the label says ‘Espetec’. Alberto always brings me a couple back from Spain whenever he goes. They’re delicious but not flavoured with paprika, like chorizo is.)

For the sauce:

1½ teaspoons of butter
1½ teaspoons of plain flour
200ml of milk
50ml of double cream
125g of mature cheddar, grated, plus a bit extra to sprinkle over the top.
1-2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon of paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Cook the cauliflower in boiling water for 10 minutes or so, until tender. Drain and place in an oven-proof dish. Cook the sliced sprouts in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until tender, drain and add to the

In a frying pan heat some garlic butter, along with a little olive oil, and sauté the kale, with lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper, for 2-3 minutes, until starting to crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, allowing most of the oil to drain off, and sprinkle over the cauliflower.

Wipe the pan clean, add a little fresh oil and return to the heat. Fry the bacon and cured sausage until crisp and then add to the cauliflower dish. Return the pan to the heat and fry the leek, red onion and red pepper, cooking for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften. Drain and add to the dish.

Mix all of the ingredients together well.

To make the sauce melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and then add the flour. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon until the butter and flour are well combined into a roux. Gradually add the liquid, milk first and then the cream, stirring constantly to stir in the roux and leave you with a smooth sauce. Heat, whisking constantly as the sauce thickens. Add the mustard and paprika, stirring to ensure that they are well mixed through.

Add the grated cheese and stir until all of the cheese has melted.

Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the dish, grate a little more cheese over the top and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until bubbling and golden.




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