This is the first of 2 menus this week, lots of lovely food to give you as many ideas as possible for the festive period. Also don’t forget to check out my Turkey 5 ways and Christmas Trimmings posts from last week!
Sunday: Roast stuffed partridges with festive stuffing
Monday: Baked mushroom risotto
Tuesday: Tandoori pot roast chicken
Wednesday: Tagliatelle w/ roast pumpkin
Thursday: Arabic spiced rabbit and herby couscous
Friday: Alleppey fish curry w/ deep fried aubergine
2 tbsp sunflower oil
500 g undyed smoked haddock, skin on
400 ml milk
10 curry leaves
75 g ghee, oil or butter
1 green chilli
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
1 tbsp heaped mild curry powder
275 g basmati rice, rinsed in a sieve
1/2 handful of dill, chopped
1/2 handful of coriander, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
4 tbsp creme fraiche
A small handful of coriander leaves, optional
A small handful of dill, optional
Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and add two thirds of the chopped onions with a good pinch of salt to stop them burning. Cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep gold colour. Remove them from the pan and spread on paper towels.
Place the haddock in a frying or sauté pan and cover with the milk. Add the curry leaves then bring to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat for about 10 minutes – the fish will continue cooking. Remove the skin from the fish, flake into large chunks and set aside. Measure the remaining milk and make up to 600ml with water.
Place the eggs in a small saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 6 minutes then run under a cold tap to cool. Peel and set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over a low-medium heat and add the ghee. Once hot, stir in the remaining onion, green chilli and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion has softened then add the mustard seeds and curry powder. Add the rinsed rice to the pan with the onions. Stir for a minute to coat in the ghee then add the milk from cooking the haddock. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
Stir in the chopped herbs, lemon juice and crème fraiche. Gently fold in the haddock and serve hot with crispy fried onions, eggs cut into quarters and garnish with the coriander and dill if you like.
Roast stuffed partridges with festive stuffing
4 partridges or poussin
2 tbsp butter
2 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
150g good-quality pork sausage meat
75g cooked chestnuts, chopped
4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
4 dried apricots, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest only
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 streaky bacon rashers
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 5. Rinse the partridges, inside and out, then pat dry, inside and out, using kitchen paper. Set aside. Heat half of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, sausage meat, chestnuts, sage leaves, apricots and lemon zest in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the cooked onions and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the stuffing mixture aside to cool.
When the stuffing mixture has completely cooled, stuff the partridges with it. Place the stuffed partridges into a roasting tray and smear the remaining butter all over them. Top each partridge with two rashers of streaky bacon.
Roast the stuffed partridges in the oven for 45 minutes, or until cooked through (the partridges are cooked through when the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of each bird). Set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve with fondant potatoes.
Baked mushroom risotto
For the parmesan crisps
100 g parmesan, or parmesan-style cheese, finely grated
For the risotto
400 ml good quality chicken or vegetable stock
100 g softened butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
200 g risotto rice, such as arborio
100 ml white wine
250 g mushrooms, quartered or sliced
4 tbsp grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
2 tbsp marjoram, or parsley
generous squeeze lemon juice
1-2 tbsp mascarpone, (optional)
For the parmesan crisps: preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Using a round cookie cutter 3-4cm in diameter, make small disc-shaped mounds of parmesan cheese about 2–3mm on the parchment. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is golden.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and lift the parchment, with the cheese still on it, from the baking sheet. After 2-3 minutes the cheese discs will be crisp and can be removed from the paper and kept in a dry place for up to 2 hours. Leave the oven on to cook the risotto.
For the risotto: Put the stock in a saucepan over a medium-low heat and bring to just under simmering point. Meanwhile, in a lidded casserole, melt 25g of the butter over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 6-8 minutes, until soft.
Stir the rice into the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly but gently. Pour in the wine, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated.
Carefully pour all the hot stock into the casserole dish and stir to combine. Cover and transfer to the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the rice is just al dente (tender but retaining some bite).
Meanwhile, place a frying pan over a medium heat. Add 25g of the butter and once hot, add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, until the mushrooms are wilted and lightly golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Take the risotto from the oven and add the grated parmesan and the remaining 50g of butter, diced. Use a wooden spoon to vigorously beat everything together. Stir in the fried mushrooms, then the marjoram or parsley, lemon juice and mascarpone (if using).
Serve the risotto immediately garnished with the parmesan crisps and some additional grated parmesan.
Tandoori pot roast chicken
1 chicken breast
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
1 tsp mustard seeds, toasted
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds, toasted
2 cardamom pods, one crushed and toasted
1 tsp black onion seeds, toasted
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp curry powder
5 tbsp yogurt
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp tandoori paste
Knob of butter
1 dashes of olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 pinches saffron
75 g basmati rice
Add the toasted spices to a pestle and mortar and grind. Pass the spices through a sieve. Add these spices to a blender along with the chilli and curry powder, 3 tablespoons of yogurt, half the onion and the tandoori paste. Blend so that everything is combined and pass everything through a sieve.
Marinade the chicken breast in this mixture for at least an hour, or overnight if possible. Add the butter and olive oil to a saucepan along with the remaining half of the onion. Cook until the onion softens.
Add the bay leaves, a crushed cardamom pod, 2-3 cloves and a pinch of saffron, then add the rice. Stir the rice around in the pan so it is coated in the butter and the flavours are infused. Cover the rice with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn off the heat and leave to steam with a lid on for 8 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, put the chicken into a warm pan with the marinade and a glug of hot water. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Squeeze a little lime juice into the rice and mix.
Once the chicken is cooked remove from the pan and leave to rest. Stir 2 tbsp of yogurt into the pan where the chicken was cooked and mix over a low heat to create a sauce.
Spoon the rice into a greased ramekin or small bowl. Upturn onto the serving plate to create a little mound of rice. Slice the chicken breast into a fan and place on the plate next to the rice. Drizzle the sauce over the top and serve.
Tagliatelle w/ roast pumpkin
1.5 kg pumpkin, or winter squash, peeled
olive oil, for drizzling
600 g fresh tagliatelle
75 g butter
1 handfuls sage leaves
50 g ricotta cheese, forked into chunks
125 g smoked cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut the flesh into 3cm chunks and lay on a baking tray. Season, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes or until soft and browned at the edges. Be careful not to cook at too high a heat or the squash will scorch
In a large pan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a wide pan and add the roasted pumpkin. Add the sage and gently fry. When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss it in the pumpkin and sage mixture. Season well.
Divide among serving plates and top with chunks of ricotta and grated smoked cheese before serving.
Arabic spiced rabbit and herby couscous
For the rabbit
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
2 cloves garlic
1 dried red chilli
splash olive oil
4-6 rabbit, loins (wild if possible)
For the couscous
125 g couscous
1 cinnamon stick
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 bunch mint, roughly chopped
1 banana shallot, finely diced
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
sprinkling dried red chilli flakes, optional
Arabic flatbreads, warmed
yogurt, seasoned with salt and black pepper
For the rabbit: Put the spices, garlic and chilli for the rabbit into a pestle and mortar and bash until smooth. Add enough olive oil to bring it to a spreadable consistency and season with salt and pepper. Rub this marinade over the rabbit loins and leave to marinate for up to an hour.
For the couscous: pour enough boiling water over the couscous to cover, adding the cinnamon stick as you do so. Cover with clingfilm and set aside while you get on with the rest of the dish.
Shake off any excess marinade from the rabbit loins and cook on a hot griddle pan or in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes on each side, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the pan and allow to rest whilst you assemble the remaining parts of the dish.
Once the couscous is cooked remove the cinnamon stick and season with salt and black pepper. Add the parsley and mint to the couscous along with the shallot and pinenuts. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze in a little lemon juice. Sprinkle over some dried chilli flakes, if desired.
Slice the rabbit loin and serve with the couscous, flatbreads and a dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle everything with a little sumac and serve.
Alleppey fish curry w/ deep fried aubergine
1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
15 curry leaves
3 sun-dried chillies
2.5 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp chilli powder
100 ml water
1 small unripe green mango, finely diced
400 ml coconut milk
3 tbsp tamarind pulp
squeeze lime juice
For the aubergine
oil, for deep-frying
6 small Indian aubergines, (see Cook’s tip)
1 tbsp corn oil
¼ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
½ medium onions, finely chopped
½ tsp garlic ginger paste
¼ tsp chilli powder
½ medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
sprinkle chaat masala
For the sea bass
4 large fillets sea bass, skin scored
chilli powder, such as deghi
rice flour, for dusting
coconut oil, for frying
For the Alleppey sauce: heat coconut oil in a heavy-based pan, add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add onion, curry leaves, chillies and ginger, sprinkle with salt and cook until the onions soften and brown slightly.
Add turmeric and chilli powder, stir then add the water and cook for another 30 seconds until the spices have lost their rawness. Add mango and curry leaves, stir, then add the coconut milk and boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat and add the tamarind pulp, then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Finish with lime juice and season to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm until needed.
For the aubergine: cut the aubergines in half, score the flesh with a knife and deep-fry approximately 180C for around 3 minutes until cooked through and softened. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and add all the seeds. Toss the onion in, sprinkle with salt and cook until soft.
Add the garlic and ginger paste, turmeric, chilli powder and tomato. Dilute with a drop of water and cook until for a minute or two until the spices have lost their rawness. Place the fried aubergine in the Alleppey sauce and coat evenly. Garnish with the coriander and chaat masala.
For the sea bass: rub the skin of the fillets with enough tumeric to lightly coat and then sprinkle on a little chilli powder and dust the whole fillet with rice flour. Season with salt. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and then add the fish, skin side down. Press down lightly to stop the fish from curling and fry for around 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp. Flip over and cook for a further minute or two until the fish is cooked through.
To serve, ladle the sauce into a dipped plate, place the aubergine in the centre and balance the fish on top.
(Credits: Hairy Bikers, Aaron Craze, Jo Pratt, Diana Henry, Aktar Islam, Matt Tebbutt, Rachel Allen, JJMoola’s Kitchen)