Weekly menu 29

I can’t go very many weeks without spicy food so there are not 1 but 2 spicy meals on this week’s menu… what can I say, it’s in my genes! Wednesday features halloumi that I have a difficult relationship with as I don’t like squeaky cheese! You can substitute for paneer which is less squeaky if you also struggle with this!

Enjoy 🙂

Saturday: Suya – Nigerian BBQ
Sunday: Chicken Chettinad
Monday: Spinach flan w/ grated salad
Tuesday: Spiced Mackerel w/ horseradish potatoes
Wednesday: Sesame halloumi parcels w/ sweet potato tahini mash and chopped herb salad
Thursday: Chicken and watercress pithiver
Friday: Takeaway night – easy Veggie Thali

Suya – Nigerian BBQ
Ingredients:
600g sirloin steak, cut into slices about a cm thick (you can ask your butcher to do this)
50g peanuts (salted is fine, but then don’t add any extra salt to the mixture)
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Method:
Grind up the peanuts in a spice grinder or blender. Stop before they become peanut butter. Add the ground peanuts to all the other spices and mix well. Then put in a bowl with the steak slices smother it all over.

Grill over the direct heat on a BBQ, leaving the inside slightly pink. Serve with any left over peanut marinade if you like, and a tomato and onion salad.

Chicken Chettinad
Ingredients:

SPICE BLEND
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder or hot chilli powder

CURRY
50 mls vegetable oil
1tsp fennel seeds
Large stick of cinnamon (roughly 7cm broken in half)
150g shallots, diced
Handful curry leaves
700g skinless chicken thighs (bone out), cut into roughly 5 cm pieces
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp suger

Method:
Put all the dried spices for the spice blend in a grinder and blitz to a powder (or use pestle and morter).

Heat oil in a heavy, deep frying pan over medium heat, then add the fennel seeds and cinnamon and fry for about 1 minute. Next add shallots and curry leaves and fry for around 10 mins until the shallots are soft and golden, keep stirring. Then add the chicken and fry for a further 2 minutes until the meat is sealed all over. Next add garlic, ginger, sugar, the ground spice blend and season with salt. Fry this for about 2 minutes then add a splash of water and cook for around 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Keep adding water a little at a time – you don’t want a wet of sauce, it should be thick and clinging to the chicken but you also don’t want it to burn or stick to the pan. Serve with plain basmati rice or chapatis if you prefer.

Spinach flan
Ingredients:

PASTRY
150 g plain flour
75 ml olive oil

FILLING
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250 g spinach
3 eggs, 1 whole and 2 yolks
100 ml double cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
50 g parmesan, grated

Method:
For the pastry: Preheat the oven to 230C/gas 8. Mix the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt then add the oil and fold through until all the flour is moistened. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cold water, 1 at a time, tossing with a fork until all the water is absorbed. Gather the pastry into a ball.

Put the ball into the middle of your tart pan. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Try to smooth it over to make the crust even. Prick the bottom and sides of the pastry thoroughly with a fork. Bake blind for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool before adding the filling.

Add a splash of oil to a large saucepan and sauté the garlic until soft, then add the spinach. Season well and cook until the spinach is just wilted, for about 7 minutes. Place in a colander and carefully press out the bitter juices. Reduce the oven heat to 180C/gas 4.

Whisk the eggs, cream and mustard until smooth then fold in the parmesan and season well. Swirl the spinach through the cream mixture and pour over the base of the tart. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until just golden and set. Cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
Serve with a grated carrot and beetroot salad.

Spiced Mackerel w/ horseradish potatoes
Ingredients:

4 whole mackerel, gutted with heads removed
100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
½ tsp English mustard
Tabasco – a few drops depending on your taste
2 tsp red wine vinegar

FOR THE POTATOES
500g new potatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp horseradish cream
2 tbsp sour cream (can also use low fat sour cream or crème fraiche if you prefer)
Small bunch chives, chopped

Method:
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10-15 mins until they are tender, then drain and set aside to cool. Once cool cut in to quarters.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat then add the potatoes and season well. Fry until golden then drain on kitchen paper and transfer to a large bowl. Add shallots, horseradish cream, sour cream (or crème fraiche), seasoning. Mix well and taste it then adjust seasoning as necessary and stir through the chives.

Heat a grill to the highest temperature. Slash each fish 3 times across the body on each side and place on a foil lined roasting tin. Mix the remaining ingredients with the softened butter until well combined and season. Rub all over the fish, making sure it gets into the slits and also do the inside cavity of the fish. Then grill for around 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through. When it starts just flaking away it’s done. Serve immediately with your potatoes.

Sesame halloumi parcels w/ sweet potato tahini mash and chopped herb salad
Ingredients:

HALLOUMI PARCELS
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
handful parsley, chopped
zest 1 lemon (use the juice in the salad)
2 x 250g packs halloumi cheese, each cut into 12 slices
6 sheets filo pastry
50g sesame seeds
1 egg, beaten

MASH
650g (about 4) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tbsp tahini paste
4 tbsp olive oil

SALAD
juice 1 lemon
1 tbsp clear honey
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
small bunch each mint, parsley and dill, all roughly chopped
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed, chopped
small handful black olives, roughly chopped

Method:
First make the halloumi parcels. Heat oven to 200C/gas 6. Grease 2 baking trays with oil. In a bowl, mix the tahini, olive oil, chilli, parsley and lemon zest. Add the halloumi and toss everything well to coat – don’t worry if the halloumi breaks up a little.

Cut the filo sheets in half so that you have 12 squares – work with 2 at a time and keep the remaining pastry covered with a damp tea towel or cling film so it doesn’t dry out. Lightly brush the filo all over with a little oil, place 2 slices of halloumi at the top of each square, sprinkle with sesame seeds, then fold over the edges to enclose the halloumi. Brush again with oil and sprinkle with more seeds. Fold up into a square, brushing the final edge with egg to help seal the parcel. When all the parcels are made, place on the baking trays, brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with more sesame seeds. Bake for 20 mins, swapping the trays over halfway through so that the parcels brown evenly.

Meanwhile, make the mash. Put the sweet potato in a large pan of water, cover with a lid and boil for 10-12 mins until tender. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water, and leave to steam dry. Tip the sweet potato into a food processor with the tahini, olive oil and plenty of seasoning. Whizz until smooth, adding enough of the cooking water to make a smooth purée. To make the salad, whisk together the lemon juice, honey and olive oil in a large bowl with some seasoning. Add the remaining ingredients and toss everything together.

Chicken and watercress pithiver
Ingredients:

1 corn-fed chicken, about 1.5-1.8kg
1 bay leaf
2 celery sticks
1 onion, chopped
1 large bunch of watercress, chopped
250g ricotta cheese
100g breadcrumbs
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 egg
500g puff pastry
1 egg, mixed with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp water, to glaze

Method:
Put the chicken in a casserole and cover with water. Add the bay leaf, celery and onion and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and poach for one hour. Allow to cool then take all the meat off the bone (keep the stock for gravy or soup).

Mix together the watercress, ricotta, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, seasoning and egg. Cut the pastry in half and roll each piece out thinly into an oval that is roughly the size of a whole chicken. Put one round on a baking sheet. Place the chicken meat in the centre of this piece of pastry, leaving a border of 3cm, then cover the meat with the watercress mixture. Brush the edge of the pastry with the eggwash, then lay the second piece over the top. Press down the edges, and trim to make a neat oval. Brush the whole surface with eggwash then score the surface with a knife.

To bake, preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the pithivier in the oven and bake until golden (25-35 minutes). Allow to cool before slicing.

Easy Veggie Thali
Ingredients:
LEMON RICE
1 lemon, zest pared and juiced
½ tsp mustard seeds
3 cardamom pods, bashed
1 cupful basmati rice

DHAL
250g red lentils
1 tsp turmeric
oil
1 onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, shredded
1 tsp garam masala

SAAG PANEER
1 x 250g block paneer, cut into cubes
groundnut oil
1 onion, grated
a small chunk root ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
300g spinach, washed and chopped

ONION RAITA
1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
a handful mint leaves, chopped
a handful coriander leaves, chopped
200ml natural yogurt

AUBERGINE AND TOMATO CURRY
1 onion, chopped
sunflower or veg oil
1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp nigella or black onion seeds
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
Handful coriander leaves

Method:
For the lemon rice, cook the lemon zest and spices in a little oil until fragrant. Add the rice and stir well. Tip in 2 mugs of water and 1 tsp salt, bring to a simmer, put on a lid and cook until water is absorbed and rice cooked. Add a splash of lemon juice to serve.

To make the dhal, put the lentils and turmeric in a pan and add water to cover by 2cm. Season and simmer for about 20 minutes until tender, adding more water if needed. Heat some oil in a pan then cook the onion, garlic and chilli for a few minutes. Add the garam masala, cook for a minute then stir into the cooked lentils.

For the saag paneer, fry the paneer in a little oil until golden. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and spices, and cook until softened. Add the spinach and a splash of water and cook until wilted.

To make the onion raita, mix everything together just before serving and season.

Make the aubergine and tomato curry by frying the onion in oil until soft. Tip onto a plate. Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the aubergine in batches until browned all over and tender. Add another slug of oil to the pan and fry the spices for 30 seconds, add back the aubergine and onion, plus the cherry tomatoes, green chillies and cook everything until the tomatoes have burst. Season with salt and scatter with coriander leaves.

Serve in the traditional way with little dishes of each thing on individual trays or do sharing plate style and put everything in bowls in the middle of the table.

(Credits: Rose Prince, Delicious Magazine, Rick Stein, Olive Magazine, JJMoolas’s Kitchen)

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