yoghurt

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.

 

Pasta with caramelised onions and yoghurt

pasta with onions

This recipe sounds a bit weird but I promise you it’s absolutely delicious.

The first time I made it I had a rather strange conversation via twitter with the writer Diana Henry.

@DianaHenryFood Help please! Part way through your pasta with onions recipe but have realised I forgot to buy dill. What else could I use?

@DianaHenryFood PS. I also realise that this is a long shot – sure you have much better things to do on a Thursday night. I’ll go away now.

@Shelton_Zoe is that the Turkish one?

@DianaHenryFood Yes. Thanks for the reply (couldn’t fit the whole title in). 5 minutes from serving up.

@Shelton_Zoe oh dear. Too late. Not at all the same but parsley would do, or thyme. For future ref 😉

@DianaHenryFood amazing dish even without dill – thanks for the recipe. I’ll try thyme next as it’s in my garden.

@Shelton_Zoe get dill!

@DianaHenryFood Yes, of course. Golden rule – always follow the original recipe exactly first BEFORE tinkering. I’ll leave you in peace now.

I hasten to add that the next time I cooked this dish I bought dill. It was nice without, but even nicer with.

It was kind of Diana Henry to answer my stupid question but why on earth was she on twitter on a Thursday evening?

But then again why was I?

Diana Henry’s pasta with caramelised onions and yoghurt

Serves 2

  • 425g onions (about 4 medium ones), very finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A 5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 145g tagliatelle (I probably used more than this because I’m greedy. If you want to make your own tagliatelle, here’s my tried and tested recipe)
  • 50g Greek yogurt
  • 1½ tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh dill, chopped (or thyme, or parsley, or nothing)
  • 15g butter
  • ¼ teaspoons of ground cayenne
  • finely crumbled feta to serve (I didn’t bother with this because I don’t like feta)

Put the onions in a heavy-based pan with the olive oil, bay and cinnamon. Cook over a medium heat, stirring the onions, until they start to turn golden. Then add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes.

Add a splash of water, cover the pan, turn the heat right down and leave until the onions are almost caramelised (about 35 minutes). Open the lid to check them every so often and add a little more water if they look dry.

When the onions are cooked, uncover, season with salt and pepper and boil away any excess liquid.

Cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions. Drain and toss it into the pot with the onions and stir in the yogurt, milk and dill.

Very quickly melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the cayenne. Cook for about 20 seconds.

Serve the pasta with the spiced butter drizzled on top (and, if you like, the feta on the side).

Chocolate frozen yoghurt lollies

Nutella yoghurt lollies x

It’s the summer holidays, and whilst I love my children without question, they do test my patience by vacillating wildly between being funny little angels and obnoxious little monsters. Despite all the parenting advice which says it’s wrong, I get through the day by offering incentives and dealing out ultimatums, “If you two could just stop squabbling for all of five minutes you can have X”, followed by “if you don’t brush your hair/clean your teeth/get dressed/eat your breakfast you won’t get X”.

For most of the year TV is my bargaining tool of choice but in summer lollies work better. Freezing pure juice is an obvious good/healthy idea but this is not an incentive for a son who hates all fruit, so I came up with this simple idea of mixing natural yoghurt with Nutella (or fake version of) and then layering it with plain yoghurt so that it isn’t too unhealthy.

PS. If you don’t have children please ignore the whinging above but make these anyway – for yourself. However, if I was making these for myself I’d make them entirely of the chocolate/yoghurt mix and do a few extra sit ups.

Chocolate frozen yoghurt lollies

Makes 6 small lollies (using Annabel Karmel lolly moulds £3 from Tesco, see photo below)

lolly mould

Mix 120ml of full fat natural yoghurt (I use Yeo Valley which is nice and creamy) with 1 heaped dessert spoonful of chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella or supermarket own brand) until well incorporated.

Put 2 teaspoons of the chocolate yoghurt mixture into the bottom of each lolly mould.

Then add 2-3 teaspoons of natural yoghurt to each mould.

Finally, for the top layer, add another teaspoon of the chocolate mixture (this is to encourage children to eat through the blander plain yoghurt to get to the bottom, if such an incentive is needed).

Put the tops on and place in the freezer until solid.