Mini Squash stuffed with Sausage and Fennel

Sticking firmly to our autumnal theme here, we picked up 4 mini squash at the absolutely brilliant farmers market held at St Nick’s on a Wednesday. We’re not 100% that we have the varieties right but we think we have an onion squash (the orange/red one), a harlequin (the green and yellow patterned one), a mini tiger striped pumpkin (the striped pale yellow one) and a gem (the very dark green smooth one). We bought them not having a plan for what to do, we knew we wanted to keep it fairly simple so that the lovely qualities of each squash came through, and we veered away from soup because they’re so small it would have been very fiddly! The stuffing for this is inspired by a Jamie Oliver pasta recipe called “Pregnant Jools’ Pasta” which uses sausages to create a fast ragu to go with spaghetti. We love this dish, especially the combination of sausagemeat with aromatic fennel. This makes far too much stuffing mixture (about double) but it will freeze brilliantly and you can use it to whip up some quick stuffed vegetables another time.

Clockwise from bottom: Mini Tiger Striped Pumpkin, Harlequin, Onion (Red Kuri) and Gem squash (we think!)
Clockwise from bottom: Mini Tiger Striped Pumpkin, Harlequin, Onion (Red Kuri) and Gem squash (we think…)

We stuffed the two flat squash and cut the rounder ones into wedges, roasted them and had them along with nutmeg-spiced cabbage as a side. This is an extremely comforting, autumnal dish and because of the size of the squash it could easily be made after work too.

Ingredients

  • 4 mini squash of any variety
  • Butter
  • 50ml chicken stock
  • Cabbage, sliced
  • Nutmeg
  • A small handful of sultanas

For the stuffing

  • 2 pork sausages (we used Cumberland to remind Fats of home)
  • About 100g rice, cooked and cooled (we didn’t measure so this might be a bit out!)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 shallot/small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Pepper to season

Carefully take the lids off the two flatter squash and scoop out the seeds. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put a knob of butter inside each of the flat squash, put the lids back on and place in a roasting dish in the oven for 20 minutes to soften. Meanwhile slice the other squash into wedges and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

After the flat squash have had about 15 minutes add the wedges to the roasting dish. Roughly chop the carrot, celery and onion, peel the garlic and

We had to decapitate the Harlequin from the bottom... Just have to remove the seeds now!
We had to decapitate the Harlequin from the bottom… Just have to remove the seeds now

add all of these to a food processor/mini blender and pulse to finely chop. Add the fennel seeds and pulse a couple of times more to combine. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the chopped vegetables. Fry these for about 5 minutes until softened. Squeeze two sausages out of their skins straight into the pan, then use tongs/a wooden spatula to break them up – this will become easier as they cook, you want them to break up so they resemble minced meat. Once all of the meat is browned and mixed with the vegetables add the balsamic vinegar, the tomato puree and a splash of water to create a rough sauce. Mix in the rice and turn off the heat.

By this time the squash should have had 20-30 minutes and be starting to soften. Carefully stuff them with the stuffing (they’re hot!) and turn the wedges of squash so they colour evenly. Return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes. When they’ve got about 5 minutes to go heat 1 tsp of butter in a large pan/wok and grate in about a quarter of a nutmeg with a fine grater. Add 50 ml of chicken stock and allow them to bubble together for a few seconds and then throw in the sliced cabbage. Toss to coat in the butter/stock mixture, add the sultanas and then cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat stirring occasionally.

Don't worry about the burn (in fact it's delicious!)
Don’t worry about the burn (in fact it’s delicious!)
The cabbage makes a perfect, spicy accompaniment!
The cabbage makes a perfect, spicy accompaniment

Dish everything up and tuck in, snuggled up in a cosy jumper!

On a completely unrelated note, as we’re writing this we heard about the sad passing away of Lou Reed. He was one of our absolute favourite musicians, singing and dancing along to Transformer is one of Bird’s earliest memories. He had a pretty good innings and produced some incredible music both with The Velvet Underground and solo for decades and BBC 6 Music’s thoughtful honouring of him could not be more inspiring to write to.

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Rabbit Stew with Sage Dumplings

Rabbit is a really underused meat in the UK – it’s not widely available in supermarkets, even though it’s one of the most sustainable meats you can buy. We bought some from our local butchers (one of them – there are about 5 independent butchers within walking distance from us!) and the meat is really delicious. It’s a very rich, gamy meat – perfect for a comforting autumn stew! This recipe includes some amazing suet dumplings with copious amounts of sage, another autumn treat.

For about 4 portions, you’ll need:

  • Knob of butter
  • Olive oil
  • 80g smoked bacon lardons
  • 6 small shallots
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 150-200g new potatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 rabbit, jointed (ask your butcher to do this for you – you’ll end up with 6 pieces)
  • 250 ml red wine
  • Enough chicken stock to cover (about 1 litre)

For the dumplings:

  • 50g suet
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 5 finely chopped sage leaves
  • Cold water

Start by peeling the shallots and chopping up your carrots, celery and new potatoes. We like our veg nice and chunky, they’ll soften and soak up loads of flavour as they cook. Heat up a knob of butter and some olive oil over a fairly high heat and throw in your bacon lardons and shallots. After about 5 minutes (the shallots should have started to go a little brown), add the rest of the veg along with the fresh herbs. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and stir through the veg – this will ensure you get a thick stew. Now add the whole rabbit pieces, along with the wine and the stock.

Make sure you brown the shallots well - the caremelisation is really tasty!
Make sure you brown the shallots well – the caremelisation is really tasty!

Once your pot has come to the boil, put a lid on it and place it in the oven on a low temperature – 150°C to 170°C, depending on how long you want it to cook for. The lower the heat and slower the cooking time, the more tender the rabbit meat will be. We cooked ours at 150°C for about 4 hours, but the rabbit will probably be cooked after about 2 hours. Take it out and stir it every half hour or so.

When the stew is about half an hour from being done, it’s time to make the dumplings. Mix together the suet, the flour, and the sage leaves, and start adding the water, about a tablespoon at a time. This should be done fairly quickly, otherwise they won’t rise properly. When it has all come together, roll it into small balls (about the size of golf balls – or ping pong, if that’s your game!). Put them straight onto the top of the stew – they’ll swell up loads, so be sure to leave some space between them.

Those dumplings are monsters!
Those dumplings are monsters!

Put the stew back in the oven and leave to cook for about 20 minutes. When the dumplings have roughly tripled in size, your stew is ready to eat! Watch out for rabbit bones, as they can be quite small and fiddly. If you’ve never tried rabbit before, please give it a go! It’s super sustainable, lean & healthy, and totally delicious.

Thai Style Steamed Sea Bass with Jasmine Rice

In an attempt to counteract the large volumes of cakes/sweets/biscuits we have been consuming over the last few weekends and will probably continue to consume (it’s practically the law when you have guests or are a guest that you have to set yourself well on the track to diabetes) we’ve been getting super healthy with our evening meals. Thai and Vietnamese style food just screams healthy to us – the fresh, spicy, clean flavours are exactly what we need. This recipe, steamed sea bass with jasmine rice and stir fried vegetables, is particularly virtuous. The fish is wrapped in pak choi leaves and steamed over a fragrant liquid while the vegetables set you well on your way to 5 a day (and the jasmine rice is just lush – don’t try to take our carbs away, you might lose your hand!). This one was a make-it-up-as-we-go-along number, as so many of our recipes are, and we’re chuffed with how it turned out! It was also our first time using our new bamboo steamer and we predict we’ll be getting lots of use out of it.

Ingredients

Basmati rice

  • 1 tsp jasmine tea leaves or 2 jasmine tea bags
  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • A piece of ginger, about 2-3 inches long, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 limes
  • 2-3 pak choi
  • 1 birds-eye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, bruised and chopped in half
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • A selection of vegetables (we used baby corn, pak choi, mange tout, carrot, sugar snap peas XXX), sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Neutral oil such as sunflower or vegetable

Brew the tea for the rice by placing your loose tea or tea bags in a jug and pour over half a litre of boiling water. Allow to brew for at least 5 minutes. Once brewed pour into a saucepan (making sure to strain it if using loose leaf tea!) and top up with more boiling water if necessary, then place over a medium heat to bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling add the rice and stir occasionally until cooked.

Jasmine Tea

Fill up a saucepan (over which you can fit your steamer) about a third of the way full with water. Throw in half of the ginger matchsticks, the chilli, the lemongrass, the garlic, half of the fish sauce, half of the sugar and the juice of half a lime. Bring this to the boil.

Frozen chilli

Meanwhile cover the bottom of the steamer with a layer of pak choi leaves and then lay the sea bass fillets on top. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and sprinkle the fish with the other half of the ginger. Place another layer of pak choi leaves on top so that the fish is completely covered. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer then you could easily use a metal vegetable steamer, or just buy one – they’re dirt cheap in Asian supermarkets. Once the steaming liquid is bubbling place the steamer over the top. The fish will take around 5-10 minutes to cook depending on thickness, about the same amount of time as the rice.

Seabass raw

To make the sauce for the stir-fried vegetables mix together the oyster sauce with the remaining fish sauce and sugar, the juice of half a lime, a few drops of sesame oil and enough water to thin it out.

Vegetables raw

When the rice and fish have a few minutes of cooking time left get a wok really hot, add 1 tsp of neutral oil, throw in the vegetables and stir to coat in the oil. Once coated and beginning to wilt throw in the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are slightly soft but still retain a lot of crunch.

Then just dish it all up! Spoon some of the delicious steaming liquid over the fish, it should be just cooked and really moist with delicate Asian flavours. Sit back and feel smug at just how healthy you’ve been!

Steamed sea bass complete

Pomegranate – Brighton

Hello! Sorry for the erratic posting lately, we’ve had a string of crazy weekends and life has been a little bit all over the place in the Fats & Bird bubble. However this coming weekend we finally, finally have a weekend to ourselves, and we don’t have to get on another train until October 31st! Words can’t express my excitement at this prospect. Anyway, back to the weekend just gone, we went to see Bird’s parents in Brighton – we haven’t been since June and a visit was long overdue.

Before we left Bristol we stopped for lunch at Friska which is a Bristol mini-chain of cafes producing incredible fresh food with punchy flavours at great prices and they’re pretty ethically fab too. We both plumped for the chicken pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) which was delicious – it had a really strong stock, and it was spicy and fragrant with perfect noodles and big chunks of juicy chicken. Just what we needed to freshen up before a train journey! Four hours later we arrived in Brighton and after a few hours of catching up settled down to a Mumma Bird roast dinner. Now she can really cook a roast dinner! One day we’ll be able to get it down to such a fine art.

On Saturday night we went out for dinner in Brighton, which was something of a rare treat. We don’t get to visit as much as we would like, and Daddy Bird isn’t that keen on going out, meaning that Fats had never eaten out in Brighton with the Bird clan! We went to Pomegranate which is a contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant right in Kemptown in the centre of Brighton, easy walking distance from Bird’s house. The Birds had been before, nearly 6 years previously for Bird’s 18th birthday and though the memories are a little hazy they are good ones. After dithering at the expansive menu we decided on some starters to share. We had two lots of Turkish sausage, one of baba ganoush with sliced pitta bread and one of stuffed vine leaves. The baba ganoush was smoky and creamy, the vine leaves were tangy and lightly spiced and the spicy Turkish sausage was beautiful – sliced thinly and then fried until crisp.  We washed this down with some merlot before our mains arrived.

The senior Birds both chose the Sizzling Chicken – juicy chicken pieces and vegetables drizzled with the restaurant’s signature butter and yoghurt sauce and served on a huge flatbread with rice salad and some mixed leaves. It also came served with a spicy dip on the side if you like your chilli (which all of us do!). We both tried a little of the chicken which was beautiful, and the portions were extremely generous.

Bird plumped for the vegetarian version, a pitta bread came topped with mixed sliced red peppers, mushrooms and spinach, then a layer of 3 thick-cut grilled aubergine slices which were smothered in a lemon and tahini sauce, a layer of 4 thick-cut courgette slices and finally 2 huge slices of tomato. This was served with a brilliant bulgar rice salad, tomato-y, spicy, gorgeous! Like all the mixed leaves of the evening these came dressed in pomegranate molasses which proved a clean, tangy flavour to cut through the tahini.

Fats chose the beef and pomegranate – there’s not a lot to say about this apart from that it was simply delicious! A healthy volume of grilled beef chunks were served peppered with pomegranate (are you beginning to spot the theme?) – the fresh bursts of flavour contrasted really nicely with the charred flavour of the beef.

Finally we shared a dessert, dried whole figs stuffed with a honey, walnut and pomegranate paste – the perfect way to finish off the evening. We then wandered/high-kicked (á la Ministry of Silly Walks) our way back along the seafront, extremely full and satisfied. The bill came to around £120 including service charge for 4 starters, 4 mains, 1 dessert and 2 bottles of lovely wine – very reasonable! We would say we’ll definitely be back but given how infrequently we’re in Brighton and how many brilliant restaurants there are it might take us a while to get back round to Pomegranate.

Sardines, Harissa & Orange

For anyone who likes spicy food (that definitely includes us!) harissa is something of a wonder ingredient. The chilli and other ingredients (usually red pepper, smoked paprika, garlic, rose, coriander, caraway…) combine to form an intoxicatingly fragrant and warm paste, and very often it is the only flavouring that you’ll need to add! In this case, we’re adding fresh orange to our harissa and sardine dish – the sweet, tangy flavour makes this a really indulgent meal. It’s really quick and easy too, perfect for a week night. We’ve based this on a recipe from the BBC food website – a great place to go for inspiration if you have a few ingredients you want to use.

Here’s what you’ll need for two people:

  • 2 120g tins of sardines in olive oil
  • 1 orange
  • 1-2 tsp harissa (depending on taste – and how strong your harissa is)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 200 g couscous
  • Small handful of gently toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • Sprinkle of fresh coriander (optional)

Start off by splitting the sardines down the spine, and taking out the big bones – don’t worry if they fall apart a bit. Now coat them in a mixture of plain flour and paprika, we find it’s easier if you sift together the two and then coat each piece of sardine separately. The flour will make the sauce go thick and silky smooth, and the paprika is just delicious…

Coat the sardines well, but don't worry about total coverage!
Coat the sardines well, but don’t worry about total coverage

When this is all ready, mix together the zest and juice of the orange, the harissa and the leftover oil from one of your tins of sardines. At this point you’ll probably want to put your couscous on to cook (as per packet instructions), as the rest of the cooking happens rather fast! Put a little of the leftover oil from the other tin of sardines into a frying pan on a medium-high heat, and add the flour-coated sardines. Fry until the flour has lost most of its colour – this should take about 2 minutes – then add the orange & harissa mix and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Not the prettiest dish but it is SCRUMMY!
Not the prettiest dish but it is SCRUMMY!

Serve the sardines over the couscous, and optionally top with the pine nuts and coriander – we didn’t have any fresh coriander to hand when we cooked this but it adds a really nice fresh flavour to the dish.

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

We’re back with one of our favourite autumn ingredients again – butternut squash. Bird stopped by the market again after ballet and couldn’t resist a huge squash (and this absolutely giant cabbage which we used in about 6 meals!).

What a beast!
What a beast!

We decided to stuff the squash with quinoa as we enjoyed the quinoa stuffed vegetables we made a month or two ago so much. We chose to spice up the stuffing with some chorizo and dried chilli flakes, adding courgette and spinach for some fresh greenery. We then topped them with a little smoked Applewood cheese which matched the smoky paprika flavour of the chorizo perfectly. This is one of those meals that can tick away nicely on a weekend afternoon and will make 4 portions – we had it for dinner and then lunch later in the week, but if you’re just cooking for yourself you would have a couple of dinners and lunches for about an hours work!

Ingredients (for 1 very large butternut squash):

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 50-100g chorizo, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 small courgette, finely diced
  • 5-10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 50g quinoa
  • 200ml chicken stock or boiling water
  • Spinach (fresh or frozen, we used 3 blocks of frozen)
  • Cheese (any good melter will do)

_MG_3229

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Using a large, sharp knife slice the butternut squash lengthways and then scoop out the seeds. Stab the squash a few times in the middle with the knife, not going all the way through, to help it cook quicker and then brush with a little olive oil. Pop them in a large roasting dish and whack them in the oven to cook. They should take about 30-45 minutes to cook depending on size, they’ll be ready when the flesh is soft all the way through. Meanwhile heat 1tsp of olive oil in a small saucepan and add the chorizo.

Chorizo sizzle

Let it sizzle away until slightly crisp, then add the chilli flakes, the sun-dried tomatoes and the courgette. Stir these to coat in the oil, add the quinoa and do the same until it starts to pop. Pour in the chicken stock and add the spinach if you’re using frozen – if you’re using fresh then wait until just before it’s cooked so you don’t lose all of the goodness. This will need to cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to start with and more frequently towards the end as the liquid is absorbed so that it doesn’t stick. Have a little taste at this stage and season it with salt and pepper to your taste.

_MG_3238

Once the squash is cooked and the quinoa mixture is ready take the squash out of the oven and (carefully because it’s hot!) scoop out most of the flesh, just leaving around 1 cm around the edge to keep the shape. Mix this flesh with the quinoa mixture and stuff back into the squash. Top with a small amount of grated cheese and then put it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes to let it all cook together and for the cheese to melt.

_MG_3245

Serve with salad and enjoy! This makes a brilliant lunch when cold, if anything you can taste all of the flavours even more.

_MG_3248

Tart Tuesday: Chocolate and Coffee Ganache with Roasted Hazelnuts

Guess who’s back… back again… Tart Tuesday’s back… ok so it doesn’t really work. Anyway, the point is that it was a particularly emotionally draining week on The Great British Bake Off with both Paul and Mary seeming to have woken up on the wrong side of bed that morning (separate beds hopefully) and all of the fantastic bakers took a verbal hammering. To counteract the distressing nature of this viewing we made our most indulgent mini tarts to date! These little artery-cloggers are filled with a ganache made with both dark and milk chocolate, coffee liqueur and then topped with chopped, roasted hazelnuts.

Once again we used the same pastry as featured in all of our Tart Tuesday posts but as this is a fridge set tart the pastry was rolled out to pretty thin (around 5mm) and then placed in the same loose-bottomed tart cases that we’ve used throughout (thanks Nanny Bird for those!). The base of it was then pricked with a fork and a piece of greaseproof paper placed in each, filled with baking beans and then baked blind for just under 10 minutes at 180°C, then the beans and greaseproof paper were removed and it was baked for a further 10 minutes or so until lightly golden and firm. Leave these to cool fully while you make the ganache.

Chopped Chocolate

We used a mixture of half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate to give a semi-sweet filling as no sugar is added. Finely chop 100g of your desired chocolate and place in a jug for easy filling of the tarts. Place 65ml of double cream in a small pan over the lowest heat and slowly heat until it begins to steam, at this stage tip in about 1 tbsp of liqueur. If you wanted to miss this step and make them non alcoholic just used 75-80 ml of cream instead. We used a coffee liqueur but orange, raspberry, almond, hazelnut or probably many others would be delicious too.

Once you have added the liqueur to the cream watch it closely and once it starts bubbling slightly pour it over the chopped chocolate immediately. Let this mixture stand for 30 seconds to 1 minute to let the hot cream do it’s work, and then using a whisk bring the ganache together. You will end up with a much better, glossier ganache if you try not to introduce much air at this stage so don’t whisk properly, just gently use the whisk to mix until you have a rich, glossy mixture. Pour this into the cold pastry cases and then put in the fridge to chill – ours chilled for about an hour and a half and had a beautiful truffle-y texture. You can leave it just simple like this or top with it anything you like, we used chopped roasted hazelnuts made by roasting a small handful of whole hazelnuts at 180°C for 5 minutes, chopping once cool and sprinkling on top.

Chocolate Tarts

Enjoy… Who do you hope wins Bake Off?

Chicken Tagine

This is another recipe that takes us right back to Marrakech. We spent a spectacular last night of our holiday eating on the roof terrace of a glorious restaurant near our riad (Le Foundouk, recommended by those wonderful people at Lonely Planet). We had read that it was beautiful with a gorgeous, romantic roof terrace but we weren’t quite prepared for the candlelit terrace, draped in scented plants which gave tables privacy while the stars twinkled overhead. Bird chose a traditional chicken tagine made with preserved lemons, olives and onions and this is what we have tried to recreate here (although not quite in the epic proportions it was served in Marrakech… a tiny Bird cannot eat half a large chicken!).

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 4 small portions of chicken (we used bone in thighs for great flavour)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped into strips
  • 2 preserved lemons, deseeded and finely chopped
  • A large handful of olives (black or green are fine, we used black kalamata olives)
  • 1 heaped tsp of Ras el Hanout or Baharat spice mix
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • (optional: a pinch of saffron strands – these really do add a honeyed flavour to the dish and beautiful colour but don’t worry if you don’t have any, it will still be lovely!)
  • Enough chicken stock to cover
These little strands of saffron are magical!
These little strands of saffron are magical!

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Heat the olive oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat and once shimmering add in the chicken pieces skin side down and brown. Once they have some colour turn them over to briefly seal on the other side and then remove from the pan. Add in the chopped onions and turn the heat down to as low as it goes. Cook the onions for at least 5 minutes so they are starting to take on some of the brown colour from the chicken and to soften. After this time add in the spices and cook for a further minute until they are aromatic and the coriander seeds are beginning to pop. Make up around half a litre of chicken stock and put the saffron strands in to infuse if you’re using them.

We kept the stones in the olives, it's much easier. If you do the same then make sure everyone is aware of it!
We kept the stones in the olives, it’s much easier. If you do the same then make sure everyone is aware of it!

Throw in all of the rest of the ingredients aside from the chicken, stir to combine and then pop the chicken on top, skin side up so it is just poking out of the liquid (you may need to top up the liquid with some water). Unlike a British or French type of stew Moroccan ones aren’t generally thickened in our experience, instead they come with a light liquid which is perfectly mopped up with cous cous so don’t worry if it looks a bit sloppy, it’s meant to! Put the casserole dish in the oven and cook for around 1 hour, making sure to give it a prod about halfway through the cooking time. Serve simply with plain cous cous and some chopped fresh parsley and/or coriander if you wish.

Leave the chicken poking above the liquid, so that it goes nice and crispy
Leave the chicken poking above the liquid, so that it goes nice and crispy

Pea and Mint Soup: Last Taste of Summer

This is really more of a spring/summer type soup but the weather has been really mild through September so we thought we could squeeze in one last pea and mint soup because it’s one of our favourites! It’s ridiculously simple, it only has 5 ingredients (6 if you include the bacon) and can be made in less than 30 minutes. It is the most gorgeous colour and makes a lovely light dinner, or would make a great starter for a 3 course meal.

Ingredients (makes 4 portions)

  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 small-medium potato, diced into roughly 1cm cubes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Around 300-400g frozen peas
  • 2-5 fresh mint leaves (depending on taste)

This is such a simple recipe it almost feels like cheating! Add the onion to a fairly large saucepan with a tiny drizzle of oil. Fry for a couple of minutes over a low heat until slightly softened and then add the potato. Cook these together for a further 5 minutes until the onion is properly softened and then chuck in the chicken stock. Cook for around 15 minutes or until the potato is soft. Whack in the peas, bring it back up to the boil and then blitz (we use a stick blender – so much easier than transferring to a blender and then back again!) chucking in 2-3 of the mint leaves as you do this. Give it a taste, see if you think it needs more mint (it shouldn’t taste really minty, it should just give a freshness and a bit of zing to it rather than being reminiscent of mouthwash) and if it does pop another leaf in and blend. And that’s it! We love ours served with some crisped bacon crumbled on top but it’s delicious on it’s own too.

Green Thai Curry

This is a really quick and easy recipe for one of our favourite meals, green Thai curry. I hesitate to call it Thai green curry, because it isn’t really – but it has amazing fresh flavours that really evoke memories of south east Asia (for me, Fats – I promise to take Bird there one day!). We think we might have stolen this from Jamie Oliver – I’m sure he’ll let us know if he wants to claim credit!

Here’s what you’ll need for 2 people:

  • About 10 good-sized raw king prawns
  • A medium-sized bunch of coriander
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • 1 green chilli
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • Tiny drizzle of sesame oil (this stuff is strong!)
  • 2/3 tin low-fat coconut milk
  • 50 g fine beans
  • 150 g white rice

Green Thai Curry Ingredients

Before you start, put a pan of water on to boil for the rice. Now make the curry paste. To do this, throw together (take a deep breath…) most of the coriander (leave back enough to garnish the finished article), the spring onions, the chilli, the ginger (peeled), the garlic, the juice of half the lime, the vegetable oil, the soy sauce, fish sauce and the sesame oil (phewf!) in a blender – we use a small hand blender. Whizz until you have a nice green paste, don’t worry about it being too smooth.

Green Thai Curry Paste

Green Thai Curry Wok

When your rice water is boiling, add the rice. Now put a wok on a medium heat and then add the mixture. Cook for about 20 seconds to loosen it up, and then add the coconut milk – you don’t want to cook the paste too much as it will lose its lovely green colour. Add the beans and then cover to keep the moisture in. This should take about 10 minutes to cook, so it should be ready at the same time as the rice. About a minute before its ready, add the prawns to cook – they should be just ready after a minute of cooking – pink all the way through – and will be deliciously tender.

Green Thai Curry Nearly Ready

When everything is ready serve it up by carefully sculpting a mound of rice, nestling some curry on it and delicately placing some choice coriander leaves on top… Or just slap it on a plate, it will taste just as good! Serve with a lime wedge each for a little added zing.

Green Thai Curry Done

This recipe is also excellent with salmon – if you want to be really fancy, fry it for a couple of minutes skin-side down before adding it to the wok with the curry to get a satisfyingly crispy texture.