This is one of my all time favourite recipes and perfect for when you’ve got a glut of courgettes in the summer. I’ve been making this dish for years and it’s based on a Madhur Jaffrey recipe from one of her very first TV shows. This is not only delicious and fresh tasting, it’s also relatively low in calories. Double joy! This serves 4 and it’s pretty quick to make as it takes about 15 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook. Serve with plain basmati rice.
You will need..
- 4 courgettes, washed with ends sliced off and cut into 2 cm chunks and then again into 4 smaller chunks
- 350 g good quality medium to large, raw prawns
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 fresh, hot green chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
- 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 400g tin tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 2 large handfuls coriander, freshly chopped
- Basmati rice to serve
- This is essentially a stir-fry so it’s important to prepare and set aside all the ingredients before you start as this cooks very quickly. Measure out all the spices and set them out together on a small plate.
- Start to cook the rice so it’s ready when everything else is.
- Put the oil in your pan and add the garlic and switch the hob to high. Cooking the garlic in cold oil as it warms up stops it tasting bitter. Just let it sizzle for a few moments and be careful not to let it go brown and burn.
- Add the courgettes, turmeric and cumin and just fry them off in the oil for a few moments.
- Add the chilli, ginger, tomatoes and lemon juice.
- Stir to mix and simmer for a few minutes to evaporate off the liquid so you are left with a thick sauce.
- Add the raw prawns, they will look pink when they are cooked and it will take just a few minutes. Stir in the fresh coriander and cook through for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from the heat and serve with plain basmati rice.
Summer days mean the BBQ is out and it’s time to turn to Mediterranean recipes that make us feel like we’re on holiday. I made this Moroccan green pepper salad to accompany a chargrilled butterflied leg of lamb recently and there wasn’t a scrap left! It’s a great make-ahead dish and best served just warm. This amount serves 4 as a side dish.
You will need…
- 3 large green peppers
- 75ml light olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic crushed with a little sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- a large pinch of chilli powder
- 450g large, ripe tomatoes, coarsely grated, skills discarded
- 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
- The green peppers need to be grilled and skinned. You can do this on a naked gas flame but I tend to cut each one into quarters, remove the seeds and lay them skin side up in a shallow roasting dish and scorch them under a very hot grill. Once the skin has completely blistered, set them aside to cool and the skin will lift off easily. Cut each piece roughly into another 4 or 5 pieces. Set aside in a dish.
- To prepare the tomatoes, just stand the grater in a large bowl and press each tomato with the flat of your hand into the coarse side of the grater. If the tomatoes are ripe, you can just grate away and you’ll be left with the remaining skin against the flat of your hand. Try it, it’s much easier than removing the skins in boiling water and chopping.
- Add the oil to a large frying pan, add the garlic to sizzle for a few moments, add the spices and the tomatoes.
- Cook the tomatoes right down until they reduce into a thickish sauce and the oil starts to split from the tomatoes.
- Once reduced, stir in the peppers, season with a little salt and cook through for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped coriander and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil to finish.
- Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
This rich Indonesian beef stew is traditionally a dry one, but I like to make it with a slightly wet sauce because it’s just so delicious. There are many recipes for this spicy, coconut flavoured dish because it’s so famous but you can easily make this version in a home kitchen with supermarket ingredients. It’s quite rich so you really do need the cucumber and onion lime relish to lift it, add an extra flavour dimension and some crunchy texture. It’s so easy to make and the end result is a real showstopper – great for a Saturday night supper with friends. It freezes well too and, as with most spiced dishes, tastes even better if it’s made a day ahead and reheated.
You will need…
- Tamarind pulp – about the size of a walnut
- 1.5 kg (3lb) blade or chuck steak cut into large bite-sized chunks
- 1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
- 1 tbsp light soft brown sugar
- A pinch of sea salt
- Spice paste: 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2.5cm stick of cinnamon, 3 cloves, 1 tsp dried chilli flakes, 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger – peeled, 6 garlic cloves, 1 lemongrass stalk – chopped, 2 large banana shallots – peeled 1 tsp turmeric.
- Relish: 1 cucumber, 1 small red onion, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- Put the tamarind pulp into a small bowl with 90ml of warm water. Soak and work with a spoon to create the tart tamarind syrup. Strain into a bowl and discard the fibrous waste.
- To make the spice paste, put the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and chilli flakes into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Put the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, shallot and turmeric in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of water and whizz to a smooth paste. Combine the spice powder and the wet ingredients together in the bowl of tamarind. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
- In a large ovenproof casserole (I use a cast iron one) add the beef, coconut milk, sugar, salt and the spice paste. Bring to a simmer and cook in the oven for 21/2 hours.
- When the meat is tender, move the dish to the stovetop, uncover and allow the sauce to reduce a little if it’s too wet. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It will sit quite happily until you make the sticky jasmine rice and the cucumber relish.
- Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds and slice thinly. Peel the red onion and slice thinly (I use a mandolin). Mix the onion and cucumber in a bowl, stir in the lime juice and a little salt.
- Serve the rendang in bowls with sticky jasmine rice and a generous topping of the cucumber relish.
If you really want to spoil your guests when they arrive for a drinks or supper party, I cannot recommend this luscious Lychee Bellini highly enough. Make a cocktail shaker flask of the mix in advance and keep it in the fridge so it’s ready to pour into champagne flutes when people arrive. This recipe makes six but to be honest, everyone will want another one. I’d make double if I were you!
- 180ml lychee juice
- 30 ml apricot brandy
- 60 ml pineapple juice
- The lychee liquor, if there is any, from peeling the fresh lychees
- A bottle of prosecco
- 6 fresh, peeled lychees – fiddly but totally worth it!
Make sure all the ingredients are fridge-cold. Add to a cocktail shaker, shake thoroughly and refrigerate until you need it. To serve: shake again, then share the mix equally between six glasses (roughly up to halfway), top up with Prosecco, drop a peeled lychee into each flute. Put them into eager hands, wait for the smiles!
Spaghetti carbonara is one of those super-quick and easy to make suppers that uses just a few ingredients and tastes sublime. The secret to dishes like this is that the individual ingredients must be of very good quality. Pancetta not bacon, good quality spaghetti not supermarket ‘value’ varieties, Parmesan (made of cow’s milk) not cheddar (or any other cheese except perhaps Pecorino which is made of ewe’s milk) and finally, most importantly…..very good, organic, free range eggs. My lovely neighbour Gill keeps chickens that provide the most beautiful golden yolked eggs. When I look out the back door and see an egg box on the garden table, I know she’s left me a special delivery! Soft boiled or poached, they make a very special breakfast but they also make the very best creamy carbonara. This classic recipe is now known as ‘Mrs Martin’s Carbonara’ chez Pigeon Cottage!
You will need…….serves 2
- 95g pack of pancetta cut into strips or lardons about 1cm thick (I use Waitrose ‘Cook’s Ingredients’ packs)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large eggs – organic, free range
- 25ml water
- 1 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little extra to serve
- 200g dried spaghetti
- Set a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt and add the spaghetti. Cook according to the instructions on the pack – usually about 10 minutes for al dente.
- Warm your serving bowls – this doesn’t take long and you’ll need these ready as soon as the carbonara is cooked.
- Meanwhile, dry fry the pancetta strips until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy. Set aside.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl, add the water, season well with a little salt and a lot of ground cracked black pepper. Whisk thoroughly. Stir in the Parmesan.
- When the pasta is ready, drain it well and return to the pan.
- Scrape in the crisp pancetta and all the rendered fat. Mix together thoroughly.
- Now add the egg mixture and turn the pasta in it until it cooks through, thickens and goes silky and creamy. You might need to return the pan to the heat for 30 seconds or so but stir it constantly so as not to scramble the eggs. If you’ve got residual heat on an electric hob from cooking the pasta, this is the perfect temperature.
- Serve immediately in the warmed bowls with an extra scattering of Parmesan.
- Cheers Mrs Martin!