What’s for lunch/dinner?

I was going to have separate pages for lunch and dinner, but on those days when you feel like a lighter supper, you may prefer to eat for dinner a salad which you should have had at lunch time!  So if you are looking for ideas, any you may get from me will in time be on this page somewhere, or in an orderly manner when I understand how to work this blog.

I made this on Sunday evening and it was so delicious and so beautiful.  Not your standard Sunday supper, but having bought a dressed crab from the local market, it had to be used, and a better use, I cannot think of.

This would serve 2 hungry people, or 4 as a starter .

1 shallot
1 stick of celery
1tsp tomato paste or a tbsp of passata
sploosh of marsala or sherry or white wine
1 cup risotto rice
1 dressed crab or 200g crab meat
2 lemon peel slithers
About 2 litres of fish stock (see top tips)

1.  Fry the finely chopped veg in 2 tbsp olive oil until translucent.
2.  Add the tomato and stir for a few seconds.
3.  Add the rice and make sure it is coated in the contents of the pan.
4.  Add a generous sploosh of marsala or whatever you are using.
5.  Let is sizzle while the alcohol cooks off.
6.  Add the warm stock ladleful by ladleful while you sip a glass of whatever you have put in it perhaps, or sip a cup of tea if you are feeling more virtuously restful, as the best risotto is made with a calm mind.
7.  Keep going, add, stir, absorb, add, stir, absorb.
8.  When is it a little creamy as a risotto should be (because you have stirred it so well), remove from the heat and stir in the crab.
9.  Prepare a lovely salad tossed in a good olive oil, sprinkled with red wine vinegar and some sea salt flakes.
10.  Serve.

Venison Steaks with Blackberries
I thought I better share this with you as blackberries will be with us for a little longer, and this really was more delicious than ever.

Serves 2
Venison steaks at room temperature
Red wine (About 50 mls – I used Rioja)
A nut of rich stock or glace
A frew blackberries
2 knobs of unsalted butter

This is one of those dishes where I just splooshed the ingredients for the sauce together.  I have since measured them and as long as you have jellied stock or glace, it is pretty straightforward.

– So, melt some butter in a frying pan and when it is sizzling, add the well seasoned steaks. Fry on each side for 3 minutes. If you do not want your meat to be pink in the middle, fry it for longer. Remove it from the pan and leave it to rest while you make the sauce.
– Over a medium heat, in the same pan sploosh some red wine, about 50mls, enough to deglaze the pan of the juices left in it from the steak.
– Add some chicken or beef glace/rich stock.  You just need a heaped teaspoon of it and allow it to blend with the wine.  I think a rich jelly stock or glace benefits this sauce enormously.
– Add a few blackberries and their juices if they have some (if they are out of the freezer they may).
– Finish the sauce with a knob of butter by stirring it in so that the sauce is of coating consistency.
– I like to slice the steak and coat it with the sauce.
– Serve immediately.  If you re-heat the sauce, do so over a medium heat.  It will split if you take the heat too high.

e photograph below may not look very exciting, but it can be jazzed up for a dinner party by slicing the chicken, drizzling the sauce over, serving pretty veg etc etc – stay tuned for a more glam pic!  The point here is the sauce.  It does not matter if the accompaniment is not exciting; it will taste exciting because of the sauce.

So this can be made with chicken or beef, changing the stock addition accordingly.  In fact, I have made this with beef stock and served it with chicken so it is not that important.

Madierra Sauce
100g unsalted butter
Half an onion, skin on
about 5 button mushrooms
about 8 peppercorns
a bay leaf or thyme
150ml red wine
150ml madierra
a nut of rich stock (please look out for notes on stock under storecupboard at a later date)

– Sizzle 80g of the butter in a pan over a medium/high heat.
– Add the herbs, onion face down, mushrooms and peppercorns.
– Wait until the onion flesh is a deep brown but be careful that the butter does not burn; it does not matter if it browns though.
– Add the wine and reduce it over a medium high heat, by half.
– Add the madierra and reduce the liquid in the pan by half.
– Add a knob of stock (you may use rich liquid stock if you do not have your own)
– Bubble away for 5 more minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon.
– Stir in the final knob of butter (20g)
– It will keep just warmed, but be warned, if re heating, do not over heat as it will split.

Serve with sliced steak or with a chicken breast, smashed and whole or sliced – see below for a picture of how to smash chicken.  It is a personal preference, smashing, seasoning and frying chicken in a light oil.  If it is not yours, of course cook the chicken as you wish.

I strongly recommend that you add a carbohydrate such as a rice or potato addition because this sauce is rich and its deliciousness may be appreciated fully when combined.  Alternatively, if you would like to reduce the strength of the sauce, add a little cream.

This is delicious, maybe not so pretty but made up for in taste as well as simplicity.  If you do not have monkfish, use any sustainably sourced meaty white fish.  The fish below is actually pollock.

Olive oil
Fish (150g per person)
parma ham (two slices will be more than enough per person)

– Heat some plates in the oven ready for plating up.
– Put some olive oil in a hot pan and when hot, add the fish wrapped in parma ham.
– Cook over a medium high heat until the proscuitto is crisp, basting with the juices in the pan and turning after about 3 minutes before doing the same with the other side.
– Pour some cream into the hot pan. I have not specified the amount because you just need to sploosh a bit in, probably 2-3 tbsp per portion of fish.
– Squeeze juice from half a lemon over the cream and sizzle away until it looks like in the picture.  I don’t think it will need to be seasoned because the salty parma ham will have seasoned the sauce all by itself.

In Thailand this is made with Green Mango.  Because this is not easily available to us, I use cabbage instead.

This recipe will serve 6, but really it depends as once, it was all eaten up by just 4 of us.

1 medium white cabbage
1 large or 2 medium sized carrots
2 shallots
6 King Prawns per person
1 clove garlic per person
Bashed roasted peanuts to spinkle on top

Typical Thai Dressing
1 birdeye chilli or 1 tsp of pre prepared chilli (start using half, as in Thailand this is served very spicy and half may be enough)
2 cloves garlic
30g sugar (palm sugar is preferable.  If you don’t have it, use granulated or Demerara)
6 tsbp fish sauce
6 limes
Fresh Coriander

  1. Roughly chop the garlic and put it in a pestle and mortar with the chilli – if you do not have one, crush the ingredients and put in a jam jar.
  2. Add the sugar and mix or shake the jar.
  3. Add the lime juice and fish sauce.
  4. Finely slice the cabbage. I find this easiest using a mandolin or the slicing disc of a magimix or equivalent.  If you have neither, slice as finely as you possibly can.  Do the same with the shallots
  5. Place half the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the dressing.  Because sizes of carrots and cabbages vary, do not add all at once.  Gradually mix the remaining veg with the dressing so that you have a good amount of dressing.  Too much, I think, is better than too little.
  6. Fry the King prawns in some oil and add the garlic at the same time as the prawns.  Contrary to Thai cooking, I tend to use olive oil but you can use plain if you prefer.  Serve alongside the salad, with plain boiled rice.

When everything else has run out, and you really do not know what you can create, with that past-it bread, and old tomatoes, green beans, or whatever you have – frozen peas will do – why not try this?  I did, and loved it so much that I make it whether the fridge is full, or almost empty.

Per person

3tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil
About 4×4 inch piece of Stale focaccia or bread (Focaccia is particularly tasty so if you have made it – page – save a little for this)
6 large prawns or a small handful of small (if they are pre-cooked, add them at the last minute)
Chopped tomatoes or vegetables – I used cherry tomatoes chopped in half

– Heat the frying pan or wok and add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil
– When it is very hot break up the bread over the pan and toss it around until light golden
– Add the chopped tomatoes and uncooked prawns. If the prawns are already cooked, add them at the last minute to heat through.
– Toss the ingredients in the pan and add more oil if needed.  Season and serve.

2 aubergine
2 small onions
2 cloves garlic
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp chilli powder or a third of a birds eye chilli deseeded and finely chopped

– Fry the onion in a flavourless oil such a groundnut oil until translucent.
– Add finely chopped garlic and 1 tsp salt.
– After 3 minutes, add tomatoes and tamarind.  Bubble until the liquid has dried up a little.
– Check for seasoning.  You may want to add more tamarind or salt.
– Stir in fresh coriander before serving.  This is not a necessity but a bonus.

I spent my gap year in Kuching, East Malaysia.  Whilst there we had the most incredible food, a cacophony for the taste buds.  A lasting memory is sitting a table on the street, and watching expert local hands quickly stretch and fold the roti into a flakey layered buttery bread. I cannot really compare it with anything here except perhaps puff pastry, though it is slightly chewier and more pliable.

It is actually pretty easy to make.  You could make the dough in the morning in preparation for cooking in the evening as it needs to rest for at least 6 hours.

540g plain flour
250 unsalted butter or ghee
1tsp salt
1tsp sugar
1 egg
250 mls water
350 mls milk

– Put the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl of a kitchen aid.  Mix in the ghee with your hands until it is like breadcrumbs, or let the kitchaid to the work for you.  Gradually add the liquid ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until it is less sticky.
– Divide into 8 balls.  Spoon 1 tsp of ghee over the top and loosely cover until ready to use.
– Now when you are ready, take the ball and roll it into a round shape.  Gradually stretch it pizza style, or roll it.  It needs to be paper thin to stretching it with your hand, using the palm of one hand and the thumb of the other, is more effective.  It does not matter if it has a few holes in it.
– Put 1 tsp of the ghee on all over it and hold it like an A4 letter into 3. Then fold it once more and bend it around into a snail shape with the end of it tucked into the centre of the bread.
– Repeat with all of them.
– Roll it out or flatten it to about 12 cm width.
– Fry in ghee, turning when it is browned.

Now really enjoy dipping it into a curry sauce, and use your fingers, without them it just won’t taste the same!

  • To make ghee, if you do not have it, simply melt a pack of butter and allow the milk solids to sink to the bottom.  The clear yellow top part is ghee.

1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 small onion roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1/3 birdeye green chilli, deseeded
1 tsp tamarind
½ juice of a lime
400 ml coconut milk
100ml chicken or fish stock, depending on whether this is accompanying fish or chicken.

– Blitz all of the dry ingredients with 50mls of coconut milk
– Add to hot oil and fry for a minute or so until it is aromatic
– Add the coconut milk gradually mixing it in.
– Add the chicken stock.
– Bubble for ten minutes to cook through.

You may like to dip the delicious roti in this, or to add chopped chicken or prawns, until cooked through.

Ground nut oil
Whole large seabass gutted, descaled
Lime sliced
Nam pla – fish sauce
Spring onions
Coriander leaves
1tsp palm sugar, granulated or Demerara
Half a chilli sliced finely.  Include seeds for more heat.
Spring onions, finely sliced

– Heat the oil until hot but not steaming with heat
– Add the fish and fry for 2 to 4 minutes on each side, depending on the size.  If it is a small fish for one portion, 2 minutes, a large one for 2 people or more, about 4, or until it has a light brown tinge.
– Add 2tbsp fish sauce
– Sprinkle over the sugar
– Stir to mix in to sauce.
– Add chilli and spring onions.
– Fry for about 4 more minutes until when a knife is inserted into the fillet, it comes away easily from the bone.
– Serve the whole fish at once and dissect at the table.

A bowl of noodles dressed in sesame oil and some bok choi fried in groundnut oil with garlic would be good accompaniments.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 chicken jointed (ask you butcher or use pre chopped chicken thighs, breasts and legs)
1 large onion finely diced
2 tins of tomatoes
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp sweet smoked paprika
Cinnamon stick
2 star anise
Chicken stock – if it is not good quality, use water instead.
Glug of sherry – about 100 mls

– Heat a large heavy based pan.  Add olive oil.
– Season the chicken portions and place them in the oil.  Fry until golden brown.
– Add spices and fry for 1 minute
– Add remaining ingredients, cover and put in an oven (bottom right of two door aga, top left of 4 door), or turn heat down to a medium temperature so that the chicken does not reach simmering point, for 1 and a half hours.
– Take chicken out when it has come loose from the bone.  Place it in a warm dish and cover with a lid or foil.  Reduce the sauce over a higher heat to a thick consistency.  It should taste sweet and sticky.

Chorizo Mayonnaise
1 free range egg and 1 free range egg yolk
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
400 mls oil, (100 ml olive oil, 300ml  plain oil such as sunflower)
4 inch piece of chorizo

– Peel the chorizo and slice.
– Fry in a hot dry pan. Set aside.
– Whizz the eggs, lemon and salt in a food processor or whisk by hand
– Gradually drizzle in the oil. Very slowly and patiently.  Do not do this when you are in a rush!
– Add the chorizo and whizz.  If you do not have a machine it will be difficult to achieve this. I suggest chopping it finely with a very sharp knife and mixing in.
– Sieve the mayonnaise to get rid of any lumps.

Serve in a bowl on the table, so that people may help themselves.

250g fish such as cod, haddock, mullet, pollack, salmon any sustainably caught fish Mayonnaise – 4tbsp
100g Polenta
Lemon juice
Chives, dill, parsley, whichever herbs are handy

– Mix all of the above.  Add more or less mayonnaise and lemon juice to taste and for a moist consistency.
– Coat in polenta.
– Fry in a plain oil such as vegetable, sunflower, ground nut.
– Serve with chilli sauce, chilli jam, or mayonnaise (see recipe under sauces)

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