Lamb and halloumi kebabs

On Tuesday evening I had Figgy over for our usual Tuesday get-together – two episode of Blake’s 7 – Powerplay and Volcano this week, with a little bit of Hinge and Bracket in Dear Ladies to finish off with – and as it was a lovely, sunny day, I decided that kebabs were the order of the day. This is pretty much my own cobbled together recipe but it came out well.

I served it with a rocket salad, a tomato and pomegranate salad, and some potato moutabel.

The lamb pieces were marinated in a mixture of Greek Yoghurt and Rose Harissa.

Serves 2 (3 kebabs each)

500g of lamb leg steaks, roughly diced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
125g of halloumi, roughly diced
Baby plum tomatoes – as many as you like
2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons of rose harissa paste

Soak six bamboo kebab skewers in water for at least half an hour before using.

Mix together the Ggreek yoghurt and the rose harissa. Place the lamb pieces in the mixture and stir well until completely coated. Cover and marinate for at least an hour.

After an hour, remove the kebabs from the marinate, but don’t wipe off the excess marinade.

Assemble the kebabs by threading alternate pieces of marinated lamb, pepper and halloumi on to the skewers, popping in the occasional baby plum tomato, as desired. I like to start and end each kebab with a tomato.

Pre-heat the grill to a high heat.

Line a grill pan with foil and place the assembled kebabs on the foil.

Place under the grill and cook for roughly 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through and nicely browned.

Serve immediately with the salads.

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Chargrilled tuna steak with salsa verde

On Thursday evening I was working another late evening, so I needed something that would be quick and easy to cook after work, but tasty. I found this recipe in my new Rick Stein Fish and Shellfish cookbook and it looked nice, and full of flavours. It’s certainly a tasty dish, and the freshness of the lemon juice, the tartness of the capers and the salty anchovies all work well together, along with the tang of the mustard. I accompanied it with roasted asparagus and vine tomatoes and some wasabi mash made with lightly fried, sliced spring onions.

Serves 4

4 tuna steaks, approximately 200g each
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa verde:

3 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of mint leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons of capers, drained
6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Juice of ½ a lemon
100ml of extra virgin olive oil
½ a teaspoon of salt

Roughly chop the parsley, mint, capers, anchovies and garlic. Place into a bowl and add the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Brush the tuna steak with oil, and season well with salt and pepper.

Place the griddle frying pan over a medium/high heat and, when hot drizzle with a little olive oil.

Fry the tuna steak for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve immediately with the salsa verde spooned over the top.

Delicious, fresh and zesty.

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Hawaiian chilli bowl

On Tuesday evening I had the lovely Fig over for our regular bout of Doctor Who. As Monday was Beltane we elected to watch the Jon Pertwee story, The Dæmons, which starts on Beltane and concludes the following day. As the day was bright and sunny (a nice contrast to Monday’s day of constant rain.) I decided to do this chilli recipe, from the Giraffe cookbook. The chilli itself is fairly standard, and very nice, but it’s the accompanying salsa, complete with pineapple chunks, that adds a lovely, fresh zing to the meal. I served it with some Sainsbury’s ‘basic’ tortilla chips, which are surprisingly delicious given how cheap they are.

Serves 4

Olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1kg of beef mince
1 tablespoon of sun dried tomato purée
½ a teaspoon of ancho chilli powder (I couldn’t find any of this in the nearby shops, and didn’t have time to look further afield. As ancho chilli is a smoky chilli powder I opted for a combination of mild chilli powder, hot chilli powder and some hot, smoked paprika*. It seemed to work ok.)
(*1 teaspoon of mild chilli powder, ½ a teaspoon of hot chilli powder, I teaspoon of hot, smoked paprika.)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 cinnamon sticks
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
50ml of red wine

For the salsa:

Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 avocado, stoned and diced
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
20g of small pineapple chunks
1 tablespoon of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
20g of macadamia nuts, crushed (I have to confess, I left these out.)

In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat and fry the onions for 5-10 minutes or so, until softened and golden. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the beef and cook until browned all over, stirring continually and breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Add the sun dried tomato purée and stir well to combine. Add the chilli powder(s), cumin, paprika, oregano and cinnamon sticks. Add the red wine, and stir well.

Season well with salt and pepper and then stir in the rinsed kidney beans and chopped tomatoes.

Simmer, uncovered, for an hour, stirring frequently. You’ll need to keep an eye on it and add a little more liquid, red wine or water, if it looks like it’s getting too dry. It should be moist but not sloppy.

To make the salsa, combine the diced avocado with the lime zest and juice, red onion, chopped tomatoes, coriander, pineapple cubes and crushed macadamia nuts. Stir well. To serve you can either spoon it over the chilli, or put it in a bowl to one side so that people can help themselves. It’s deliciously zesty and fresh and goes well with the spicy chilli.

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Grilled miso salmon with rice noodles, spring onions and beansprouts (I substituted sugar-snap peas for the beansprouts)

I made this for myself on Wednesday evening, after my late night at work. It’s quick and easy to do, and the chilli, ginger and garlic mean that it’s tasty and full of flavours. I did some harissa-marinated asparagus and steamed pak choi to go with it, as it seemed a little ‘veg-lite’. Annoyingly the noodles went a little claggy in the wok, so it’s possible that I overcooked them a little, or didn’t separate them properly before putting them in the wok, which made it difficult to mix them in with the ginger, chillies, garlic and spring onions. I’ll do better next time!

Serves 4

4 x 150g salmon steaks
50ml of vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic, grated
20g of fresh ginger, grated
8 spring onions, sliced
1 medium red chilli, thinly sliced
200g of dried rice noodles, boiled for 3 minutes and then drained
100g of beansprouts (I’m not that keen on beansprouts, so I used sliced sugar-snap peas instead
A handful of coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (I completely forgot to add this, and the recipe didn’t seem to suffer)

For the miso glaze:

10g of red miso paste
2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of hot, smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of water


Mix together the ingredients for the miso glaze. Paint the salmon steaks with it and then lay them on a grill tray lined with foil.

Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onion for a couple of minutes. The add the boiled and drained noodles, beansprouts (or sugar-snaps) and chopped coriander.
(You may need to use a pasta fork to separate out the noodles otherwise they’ll clump together and won’t mix well with the garlic and so forth.)

Grill the salmon steaks for about 6-7 minutes, turning once.

Stir the fish sauce into the stir-fried vegetables. Then arrange the noodle/vegetable mix on serving plates and place the salmon steaks on top.

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Meringue gelato cake

I made this for dessert, to follow up the beef adobo on Friday. It’s a Nigella Lawson recipe and is tasty and easy to do. It needs to freeze for 8 hours though, so it’s not a last minute dessert! The original recipe says to serve it drizzled with chocolate sauce, but as Alberto isn’t really that much of a chocolate fan, and there’s already chocolate in the cake, I didn’t bother with that, and just served it with raspberries.

300ml of double cream
30g of dark chocolate, finely chopped into chocolate splinters
1 tablespoon of coffee liqueur – I opted for Kaluha as I happened to have some in the cupboard
1 packet of 8 meringue nests, approximately 100g

Raspberries to serve

Line a loaf tin (approximately 18cm x 12cm x 85 cm) with cling film, leaving enough cling film overhanging the top to fold back over.)

Whip the cream until thick, but still soft.

Fold the chocolate splinters and the coffee liqueur into the cream.

Crumble the meringue nests into the cream mixture and fold them in until evenly mixed through.

Pack the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, pressing down with a spatula as you go. Bring the cling film over to seal the top. Wrap more cling film around the whole tin. Place in the freezer and freeze until solid – this should take around 8 hours.

Once frozen unwrap the outer layer of cling film, then un-peel the top and use the bits of overhang to lift the cake out of the tin. Cut the cake into slabs to serve.

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Beef adobo

We had Alberto over on Friday night for a spot of dinner and the first two episodes of Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (we’re a bit behind!) and, as I had the day off, I decided to cook something from my new slow cooker cookbook. I’ve toyed with this recipe several times over the last couple of weeks, but haven’t got around to cooking it until now. It reminded Alberto and I of the fantastic animated comedy Rick and Steve (The Happiest Gay Couple in the World!) as Rick’s mother is always cooking adobo. It’s delicious. The soy sauce, lime juice and red wine vinegar make the cooking sauce very tasty and rich and give it a different flavour from a more standard beef stew. The slow cooking time means that the beef is extremely tender too. I added a finely chopped red chilli, and a diced orange pepper, which worked well, and served it with plain rice and some steamed broccoli.

Serves 4

850g of braising steak, diced
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
450ml of beef stock
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
1 orange pepper, de-seeded and diced
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

To garnish:

4 spring onions, shredded
1 carrot, cut into thin batons

In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium-high heat and fry the beef pieces, browning on all sides. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the crock pot of the slow cooker.

Pop the onion in the saucepan and fry for 5 minutes or so, until just starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and chilli (if using) and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Stir in the flour and then gradually mix in the stock.

Add the soy sauce and red wine vinegar, then the sugar and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.

Once the mixture is boiled, add to the slow cooker, cover with a lid and cook on high for four hours.

After four hours, turn down to low and cook for a further 3 hours. Stir occasionally.

1 hour from the end of the cooking time add the diced orange pepper to the mixture.

Just before serving, stir in the lime juice.

Serve with boiled rice and garnished with shredded spring onion, and batons of carrot.

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Minted lamb (shank) with couscous

I made this for myself yesterday in the slow cooker. It’s another recipe from the slow cooking cookbook that Vanessa gave to me the other weekend. It’s supposed to serve 4 with a lamb shoulder joint, but as I was cooking just for myself I got a lamb shank from Sainsbury’s. The lamb and cooking sauce were delicious, although the beetroot couscous was a bit less successful – I think that I left it to stand for a bit too long as it was cold by the time I came to eat it. (making it in a plastic bowl, rather than a metal saucepan, like I normally do, probably didn’t help, either.) Also, the beetroot dice were a bit too big too – I think next time I might grate it instead.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon of olive oil
900g of lamb shoulder joint
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of plain flour
3 tablespoons of mint jelly
150ml of red wine
300ml of lamb stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the couscous:

200g of couscous
150g of cooked beetroot, peeled and diced
400ml of boiling water
Grated zest and juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
A small bunch of mint, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the lamb on all sides. Remove from the saucepan and place in the slow cooker.

Add the sliced onion to the saucepan and fry, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes or so, until golden.

Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Then stir in the flour and mix well. Add the mint jelly and the wine and stir until smooth.

Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and then bring to the boil, stirring frequently.

Once boiled, pour it over the lamb in the slow cooker. Pop the lid on and cook on for four hours on high, turning the meat occasionally. After four hours turn the heat down to low for a further four hours. Once cooked the meat should be very tender and almost falling off the bone.

To make the couscous, place the couscous and beetroot in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and then add the lemon zest and juice. Cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped herbs to the couscous and fluff up with a fork.

Serve the lamb with the couscous and a generous helping of the cooking sauce.

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Thai fishcakes

I do love a little Thai fishcake and I’ve been meaning to try and make some for myself for ages. There are loads of recipes on the internet and after a bit of surfing around I opted for this one. They’re quite easy to do, although a bit messy. The resulting cakes didn’t have quite the same internal consistency of shop-bought fishcakes, but they were very good, and with the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli, they’re full of lovely flavours. I might try a different recipe next time, just for the variety.

Makes 6 cakes

250g of white fish fillets (I used cod loin), roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
5cm of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and white part roughly chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
3 teaspoon of fish sauce
Half a teaspoon of salt
Zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
Groundnut oil for frying

Place the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, spring onion, chilli, coriander and a tablespoon of groundnut oil into a food processor and pulse until it is well chopped up.

Add the fish, fish sauce, salt, lime zest, sugar and egg and blend until it forms a smooth paste.

Remove from the food processor and place in a bowl. Using your hands, pick up the mixture and repeatedly throw it against the side of the bowl. Do this for 3-4 minutes as this thickens and aerates the mixture.

Chill the mixture for 15 minutes.

Shape into little patties and shallow fry, over a medium-high heat, for a few minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

Delicious, and a bit spicy!

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Mustard chicken and bacon

Yesterday afternoon Abigail and I went out to the cinema to see Ghost Stories (it’s very good – do go and see it, but avoid spoilers!) and so I wanted to pop something in the slow cooker for the evening. I flicked through the cookbook that Vanessa gave me last weekend and found this recipe. It’s very tasty and easy to do. I added some red pepper to the stew, just for a bit of extra veg and it came out well. I served it with a mustard and cheese mash.

Serves 4

15g of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 chicken thighs per person
4 rashers of smoked back bacon, sliced (I also bunged in some smoked pancetta lardons that I happened to have in the fridge)
400g of leeks, thinly sliced. (Keep the white and green parts separate)
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons of plain flour
600ml of chicken stock
3 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken pieces over a high heat, until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and place in the crock pot of the slow cooker.

Add the bacon, garlic and the white parts of the leek to the saucepan and fry, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or so, until just starting to turn golden.

Stir in the flour and then gradually add the stock, mustard and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.

Then pour over the chicken in the slow cooker. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 5 hours.

After 5 hours increase the heat to high and cook for a further hour.

After an hour, add the green parts of the leek, and the diced red pepper and cook for one more hour.

Serve with the mash.

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Yakitori chicken skewers

I made these for myself yesterday as I’ve been meaning to make them for ages. I love a nice yakitori chicken skewer. They’re very easy to make and tasty. I only made two, for myself, and I used shop bought yakitori sauce rather than making my own. I did find a recipe online for making your own yakitori sauce so I’ll outline that here, although I didn’t actually do it myself.

Makes 2 skewers

2 chicken thigh fillets, diced into 1cm chunks
3 fat spring onions, cut into 1.5cm lengths
100ml (approx) of yakitori sauce
2 bamboo skewers

Soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for about 20 minutes or so.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.

Line the grill pan with tin foil – the yakitori sauce will drip a lot, so it’s good to have something to catch the drips. Cuts down on the washing up a bit too.

Thread the chicken pieces on to the skewers, alternating, as much as possible, with the spring onion pieces. (you’ll probably have more chicken pieces than onion pieces, so you won’t be able to always alternate them evenly.)

Place on the grill rack. Brush the top side of each skewer generously with the yakitori sauce. Grill for four minutes or so.

After 4 minutes, turn the skewers and brush the other side with the sauce. Return to the grill for a further 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes turn the skewers again and brush with sauce again. Grill for a further 4 minutes.

Turn one final time, brush with sauce again and grill for a final 4 minutes.

To make your own yakitori sauce:

3 tablespoons of mirin
3 tablespoons of Japanese soy sauce
3 tablespoons of sake
1 teaspoon of sugar

Mix together the mirin, soy, rice wine and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, gently, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick. Allow to cook slightly, before using.

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