Nigel Slater’s mushroom and spinach korma

mushroom and spinachh korma.jpg

Believe me this tastes better than it looks.

I’m rather enjoying being a temporary vegetarian and am not really missing meat and fish at all. I did waver slightly when my son was pushing the battered fish from his takeaway around his plate – my ‘just’ chips hadn’t really hit the spot and I was tempted to eat it all up for him. There was also a stab of jealousy over my husband’s sausages, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. I can just about put up with veggie sausages but vegetarian gravy just doesn’t compare with the meat version.

The hardest thing is eating out. Vegetarians get a rough deal here unless they dine at specifically vegetarian restaurants which is tricky to do when you are mainly friends with meat eaters.

All too often restaurants offer very limited options for vegetarians and the lack of originality is astounding. If you don’t like goats cheese (like me) then you’re pretty much stuffed – goat’s cheese tart being an almost permanent fixture on menus. You must like risotto or you’re in serious trouble. Soup is also popular as restaurants try to kill two birds with one stone by making the obligatory soup option also the vegetarian one. My sister (who lives in a family of vegetarians) jokes about the ubiquitous and bland ‘Mushroom Stroganoff’. She will not eat anywhere unless she can order a bowl of chips if the vegetarian option fails her.

I bought some mushrooms for dinner in the week without a plan. A google recipe search placed the before mentioned ‘Mushroom Stroganoff’ in pole position and I nearly made it for a laugh. But then my head was turned by this Nigel Slater korma from his fabulous ‘Real Food’ book.

It doesn’t sound very exciting (probably the fault of the word ‘korma’) and I wasn’t expecting much (except a disappointed, meat deprived husband). But  it was actually very delicious. The addition of roasted hazelnuts and sultanas is genius  (so do not be tempted to leave these out). Ben ate it very, very happily.

This is not a difficult dish to make once you have prepped and lined up all the ingredients (there are quite a few and they are all important, I’m learning this about vegetarian cookery – vegetables need a lot more help to make them taste ‘special’).

Unfortunately my permanently(?) vegetarian daughter does not like mushrooms. Eating out with her is going to be a nightmare!

Nigel Slater’s mushroom and spinach korma

Serves 2-4 (depending on appetite and how much rice you serve with it)

  • 50g of butter (I used ghee)
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half and finely sliced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 15 cardamom pods, husks removed and seeds crushed
  • ½ a teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ a teaspoon of chilli powder (I used flakes)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 650g of assorted mushrooms, roughly chopped (I only had 500g which were a mixture of chestnut and some dried Chinese mushrooms which I found in the back of the cupboard and rehydrated in water first)
  • 50g of hazelnuts, toasted and shelled (I toasted mine in a 180oC oven for 10 minutes and then removed the shells by rolling between some kitchen roll)
  • 350g of leaf spinach (I used 6 cubes of frozen spinach as this was all I had)
  • 50g of sultanas (Nigel uses ‘golden’ ones but then he would)
  • 150g of thick natural yoghurt
  • 150g of crème fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh coriander leaves
  • Salt

Melt the butter (or ghee) in a deep pan (over a medium heat) and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Fry for about 5 minutes until golden (turn the heat down if the butter starts to burn).

Then add the spices and bay leaves and cooked for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

Add the mushrooms to the pot and cook for a few minutes until they soften.

Then add 225ml of water and the hazelnuts (I also added my frozen spinach here which I hadn’t bothered to defrost first and used slightly less water – because of the excess in the frozen spinach). Bring the water to a boil turn the heat down low and cook for 15 minutes with a lid on.

If you are using fresh spinach, wash the leaves and cook them (still wet) in a saucepan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes with a lid on (they will cook in their own steam). Drain, squeeze out the water and add to the mushrooms after they have finished simmering for 15 minutes.

Then add the sultanas and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add in the yoghurt and crème fraiche. Heat gently but don’t boil or the mixture will curdle.

Finally stir in the chopped coriander and season well with salt (I needed two large pinches).

I served the curry with rice but it would be amazing with homemade naan.



Tom Kerridge’s chicken, bacon and pistachio pie (made with pork)

pork and pistachio pie 2

I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day, but if I did this is what I’d make for my husband.

Our very good friends Jonny and Becca cooked this wonderful pie for us recently and I was so impressed that I had to buy the book (Tom Kerridge’s ‘Best ever dishes’) so that I could try it for myself.

The recipe requires a few special ingredients which are probably not on your usual shopping list (brined peppercorns, pistachios, filo pastry) but I promise that it’s well worth the effort.

The original recipe uses chicken mince but Tom does say that you can also use pork. This is what I did because chicken mince is not that easy to come by (my butcher could have minced some chicken especially for me but it would have been very expensive).

Tom Kerridge’s chicken, bacon and pistachio pie (made with pork)

Serves 4

  • 250g of smoked bacon, diced
  • 400g of good quality pork mince
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g of button mushroom, finely sliced
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of brined green peppercorns, drained (they sell these in the ‘ingredients’ section of Tesco or Waitrose)
  • 100g of shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
  • 150g butter melted (I actually used about 100g)
  • 1 x 250g packet of ready-made filo pastry

Warm a saucepan over a medium heat, add a little oil and add the bacon. Cook until brown and then add the pork mince and cook until golden brown.

If a lot of fat has come out of the meat then drain the mince over a colander over a bowl. Add the fat back to the pan, turn the heat down to low, then add the onion and garlic and cook until brown (about 10 minutes). If your meat is very lean then remove the meat from the pan and add a little more oil before frying the garlic and onion.

Once the onion and garlic are soft, tip in the mushrooms, cooked mince and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat and add the green peppercorns, most of the pistachios and the fresh oregano. Check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Leave to cool.

Take a 20cm diameter cast-iron dish or oven proof frying pan and brush with melted butter. Take a sheet of filo pastry and brush with a little melted butter. Sprinkle on a little dried oregano then cover with the next layer of filo. Brush that with butter and sprinkle with oregano and then continue until you have 7 layers of pastry. Don’t be scared if the filo cracks a bit but work quickly so that it doesn’t dry out too much.

Put the filo layers into the dish/frying pan and then spoon in the filling pushing it right up to the edges. Then bring the overlapping pieces up over the top of the filling.

Take another sheet of filo pastry and place over the top, brush with butter and sprinkle with oregano and repeat until you have 5 layers. I crinkled the ones that ended up over the edge of the pan back on to the top of the pie. I then brushed the whole top liberally with butter and sprinkled over the remaining pistachios.

Bake for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 200oC until the top is crisp and golden.

I served with steamed greens but I think it would also taste great with a simple green salad.