Category Archives: Recipe

Vegetarians are coming!

Feeling a bit under the weather but have friends Jackie and Phil coming to dinner so, as they are vegetarian, Indian seems the way to go. So on the menu was vegetable biriyani, coconut dhal, fresh raita, naan breads and pickles and amaretto syllabub for dessert (have a lot of amaretti biscuits to use up) . All in all very succesful. The dhal especially was very tasty. I read some comments re the recipe and it was felt it was a little bland so I put the seeds from the chillis in also which could have backfired as part way through the cooking it was extremely firy. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and surprisingly it didnt get its revenge on me in the morning.

Recipes and pics follow. From BBC Good Food site

Vegetable Biriyani

Vegetable Biriyani

Vegetable Biriyani

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small cauliflower , broken into small florets
  • 2 large sweet potatoes , peeled and cubed
  • 1 large onion , sliced
  • 1l hot vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp hot curry paste (Madras is good)
  • 1 red chilli , seeded and finely chopped
  • large pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds (black or white)
  • 500g basmati rice
  • 140g trimmed green beans , halved
  • 2 lemons , juice only
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 50g packet salted roasted cashew nuts
  • poppadoms and raita, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7/fan 200C. Pour the oil into a large roasting tin or ovenproof dish and put in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat through. Add all the vegetables to the tin, except the beans, stirring to coat them in the hot oil. Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 15 minutes until beginning to brown.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, stir together the stock, curry paste, chilli, saffron and mustard seeds.
  3. Mix the rice and green beans with the vegetables in the tin, then pour over the stock mixture. Lower the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan 190C. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice and check the seasoning, then scatter over the coriander and cashew nuts. Serve with a pile of poppadums and a bowl of raita.
Coconut Dhal

Coconut Dhal

Coconut Dhal


  • 250g red lentils (also called masoor dal or Egyptian lentils)
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • a handful of fresh curry leaves (find these in the herb section, an Asian grocers, or use coriander leaves)
  • flatbread , to serve
  • 2 medium chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2-3 long pointy green chillies , sliced
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 onions , one finely chopped, one sliced
  1. Put the lentils, coconut milk, the chopped onion, tomatoes, chillies and turmeric in a pan with 300ml water, season and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
  2. Fry the sliced onion in 4 tbsp oil until crisp, add the curry leaves (or coriander) and mustard seeds and sizzle together.
  3. Pour over the lentils. Serve with flatbread.



Happy New Year – The Winter Martini

Damson Gin

Happy New Year everyone. This year I promise to try and update this blog more regularly and to try and stop thinking of it as homework and thus a chore.

Well another Christmas has come and gone, and I have put on about a stone by eating various combinations of pork wrapped in pastry. This year though the Christmas hit was the Christmas Martini that we invented a sassy alternative to the regular classic martini. This does require preparation though, about 3 months in advance!

The advance notice is required for the Damson Gin which is a doddle to work.

Damson Gin

Get a pound of damsons and freeze them, this will split the skins to make the damsons infuse the alcohol better. Grab the damsons out of the freezer and put them in a large kilner jar (i used a litre one) with 750ml of cheap gin (don’t bother with Bombay Sapphire!) and 4 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar.

Shake once a day for the first week, then once a week for the remains weeks to Christmas. The longer you leave it the better it gets but I guess you could get away with doing it just a month before Christmas. After a while, the gin will take on a nice pink hue, delicately flavoured by the damsons.

Cheers! The finished Martini with a boozy Damson treat

To make the Martini add two parts of the gin to one part vermouth and shake through ice. Garnish with one of the damsons for a boozy treat at the finish.

Once drunk, don’t be tempted as we were, hungry for more, to add gin and shake like a madman as it just won’t work. Instead enjoy the alcohol sodden fruit with a good vanilla ice-cream for a post Christmas treat!

Wednesday Night Tuna

Defrosted a tuna steak last night and tried to decide what to do with it. Mad with myself as I left my sandwiches in the fridge again today. Baked a baguette and put dolcelatte, parma ham, spinach and olive oil dressing. Ended up with a Sainsburys meal deal. Anyway remembered a recipe I did once in Sheffield for friends which accompanied the tuna steak with pasta and a twangy salsa.

Recipe follows Care of Independent Newspapers

Tuna steak with sweet peppers, tomatoes and lime

Main course: Serves 4

Tuna with Sweet Peppers and Lime

Tuna with Sweet Peppers and Lime

2 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper, stem, ribs and seeds removed
1tbsp red wine vinegar
1 firm dark green lime, grated rind (no pith) and 2tsp juice
2tsp sugar
4 firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tuna steaks, weighing about 175g each
about 16 basil leaves, torn up

Heat half the oil in a medium saucepan and soften the shallots in it for 5 minutes. Cut the peppers into 1cm dice, add to the pan and cook gently, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, lime rind, lime juice and sugar. Cook a further 5 minutes, uncover and let the liquid evaporate. This should only take 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook under the lid for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season lightly with salt. You can make this ahead up to this point.

Meanwhile, heat the grilling pan to very hot. Brush the steaks with some of the remaining oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a couple of minutes each side, depending on how thick they are. This would be sufficient for a thickness of 15mm. Tuna is much better cooked rare, like (beef) steak.

Have the sauce very hot and stir in the basil leaves. Place a tuna steak on each of 4 plates and pour the sauce around, finishing off with the remaining olive oil.

Plain pasta tossed in olive oil would be good with this.