Spiced Lamb Meatballs In A Stewed Tomato And Aubergine Sauce.

Spiced lamb meatballs cooked in a stewed tomato and aubergine sauce, served on a bed of couscous and garnished with herbs and toasted almonds.

This dish is the first time I have been genuinely happy with meatballs I have made, both the flavour and the texture are spot on. This is a fairly quick and simple meal to prepare, but has a depth of flavour that tastes like it has taken all day to prepare.

Firstly a spice mix is prepared from coriander seeds, cumin seeds and smoked sweet paprika – the spices are toasted until aromatic then ground in a spice grinder. Sliced almonds are then dry roasted in a pan until they are toasted on both sides, these give both a wonderful flavour and texture to the final dish.

Meatballs are then made in a small food processor which gives a smooth well mixed meatball, they are flavoured with some of the spice mix, salt, mint, parsley, onion and garlic. Some breadcrumbs and egg are used to help bind the meatballs. Once blitzed into a smooth paste, they are rolled, placed in a fridge for 10 minutes then browned in some hot oil. They are then removed from the oil and set aside as they are finished in the wonderful sauce which comes next.

The sauce is made from first frying garlic, onion, a red chilli and a peeled diced aubergine. Once softened some spice mix is added along with some diced peeled plum tomatoes. A little salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, some chicken stock, parsley and coriander leaf is added, then the meatballs. The pan is covered and left to stew on a low heat for 25 minutes, during which some couscous is prepared using chicken stock for extra flavour.

The meatballs are served on a bed of couscous, garnished with the toasted almonds and a lemon wedge.

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Serves Two

Cooking time less than 40 minutes

Ingredients and method

Toasted spices and almonds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

Method: place a dry frying pan over a medium low heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast for approx. 5 minutes until aromatic, shake the pan frequently to turn the seeds and ensure they do not burn. Transfer to a spice grinder along with the smoked paprika and grind until a smooth powder is formed. Set aside for cooking.

In the same pan add the sliced almonds then increase the heat and toast the almonds until coloured on both sides, again shake the pan frequently to ensure even cooking. Set aside to garnish the dish later.

Meatballs

250g lamb mince

1 small brown onion

1.5 tsp spice mix

0.5 tsp salt

8 mint leaf’s

1 tbsp. chopped parsley leaf

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 egg

2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil

Method: Add the ingredients to a small food processor, blitz until combined and a smooth thick paste like consistency is formed.

Use wet hands to portion and roll the meatballs into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball is best in my opinion. I find it helpful to have a bowl of warm water to dip my hands into as wet hands make rolling the meatballs much easier.

Once rolled place on a flat plate, cover and place in a fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove from the fridge, then warm 2-3 tbsp. of oil in a wide frying pan. Fry the meatballs in batches so that there is plenty room in the frying pan. Brown the meatballs, then place them on some absorbent paper, set aside ready to add to the sauce.

Tomato and Aubergine Sauce

1 onions – diced

3 plum tomatoes –  skin, dice

3 cloves garlic – crush, chop

1 red chilli – deseed, dice

1 Aubergine – skin, dice

Rest of spice mixture

0.5 tsp salt

Handful coriander leaf – chopped

Handful parsley – chopped

150ml chicken stock

Juice of 1/4 lemon

2 tbsp. olive oil

Method: Heat a large deep frying pan (one with a lid) over a medium high heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Once hot add the diced onion, chilli and aubergine, stir frequently and cook until the onions soften. Add the spice mixture and salt and stir through.

Next add the diced tomato, stock and herbs, stir through and bring to a simmer. Add the browned meatballs, lemon juice and stir through the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, place a lid on the pan, reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Couscous

120g couscous

350ml chicken stock

Method: place the couscous and chicken stock in a sauce pan (one with a lid), bring the pan to the boil, reduce heat to low and leave until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid. Remove lid and fluff up with a fork prior to serving.

Serving

Place a bed of couscous on the plate, ladle the meatballs and sauce on top then garnish with the toasted almonds.

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Mexican Chilli Soup with Cheese Quesadillas

A comforting soup flavoured with four different types of chillies, served with grilled cheese Quesadillas.

This is essentially soup and sandwiches – comfort food, Mexican style.

The soup is flavoured with four different chillies – Ancho, Guajillo, Chipotle and red chillies. The soup is rich, Smokey and very delicious with its flavour coming from a wonderful paste made from pan roasting the chillies along with tomatoes bell peppers, garlic, onions and spices.  Charring these in a pan before blending makes such a difference and really brings the flavours to life. Diced carrot and celery are fried, stock is added, then the paste followed by a good simmer. Before serving diced bell peppers, more sliced red chillies, diced onion and some fresh coriander leaf are added to give the soup texture and freshness.

The Quesadillas are the perfect accompaniment and very easy to make – just don’t tell anyone how easy! They can be made in minutes, and eaten even quicker.

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Soup gives 4 portions

Quesadillas recipe for 2 persons

Cooking time 40 minutes

 

Ingredients and Method

For the Mexican Chilli Soup

1 stick celery – dice

1 medium size carrot – peel, dice

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

4 tomatoes

3 small white onions – leave whole with skin on

1 ancho chilli

1 guajillo chilli

2 red chillies – thinly slice one chilli, Set aside in a bowl

4 cloves garlic – leave skin on the cloves

1 orange bell pepper – dice half the pepper, set aside in a bowl

1 red bell pepper – dice half the pepper, set aside in a bowl

1 red onion – dice, set aside in a bowl

Generous handful of fresh coriander – keep a few stalks aside and roughly chop the rest

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp chipotle paste

1/2 tsp oregano

4 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1.5 litres chicken stock

Method: Start by warming a large flat pan or griddle over a medium heat. Place the tomatoes, garlic, the chillies, half the bell peppers and onions on and dry fry until they become slightly charred, for approx. 7-8 minutes, turning halfway through. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and dry fry until the spices become aromatic.

Remove the contents from the pan, add the spices to a food processor and leave the rest on a chopping board to cool for a few minutes. Once cooled remove the skins from the garlic and onions, but leave the skins on the peppers and tomatoes. Add everything to the food processor along with a few coriander stalks,  1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp chipotle paste, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp oregano and 4 tsp brown sugar. Blitz until a smooth paste is formed, make sure you blend it well as the smoother the paste the smoother the final soup.

Add 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to a deep soup pan over a medium heat, once hot add the diced carrot and celery and fry for 4-5 minutes until softened. Next add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Now add the paste and stir well, bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Complete the soup by adding the diced bell peppers, onion and sliced chilli then simmer for a further 5 minutes – enough to heat these through but not so long that they loose their texture. As a final step add the chopped coriander and stir through. The soup is now ready to serve.

For the cheese Quesadillas

4 corn tortillas (2 per person)

Canola oil – in a spray or ramekin with pastry brush

2 handfuls of sweetcorn

2 medium tomatoes – diced

1 small red onion – diced

Handful of coriander – roughly chopped

150g strong cheddar cheese – grated

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Pinch of sea salt

Garlic mayonnaise – optional, to serve

Barbeque sauce – optional, to serve

Method: Begin by pre heating your oven to 170°c, and warm a flat frying pan over a medium heat.

In a large glass bowl, mix the tomatoes, sweetcorn, coriander leaf, ground coriander, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt and cheddar cheese.

Spray one side of the corn tortillas with canola oil then heat the tortilla on that side until golden, remove and repeat with the rest of the tortillas.

Assemble the quesadillas by spooning the mixture on the non cooked side of the tortillas then like a sandwich place another tortilla on top. Place the assembled quesadillas on a baking tray and heat them through in the oven for approx. 15 minutes, until the cheese in the mixture melts – this could be slightly quicker or slower depending upon how big the tortillas are and how much filling you have added.

Remove them from the oven, let them cool slightly then cut into quarters. As an optional garnish drizzle some garlic mayonnaise and some barbeque sauce  over them.

 

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Stir Fried Chicken and Cashew Nuts

Skinless an boneless chicken thigh meat, marinated in a delicious sauce then stir fried with mixed vegetables and cashew nuts.

A really quick and easy recipe which rivals your local Chinese take-away. I use thigh meat as it works far better in stir fry dishes than breast meat.  The wonderful flavours in this dish come from the marinade and are locked in by cooking quickly over a very high heat. This is so easy that really anyone should be able to make this dish.

Serve with your choice of boiled rice, fried rice or egg noodles.

 

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Serves two

Cooking time – less than 10 minutes

Ingredients

6-8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs – cut in half

25g cashew nuts – soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking

2 tbsp. wok oil

150g sliced water chestnuts

1 carrot – peel, thinly slice into discs

1 stick celery – dice

1 red pepper – dice

1 medium size white onion –  slice or cut into small chunks

For the marinade:

3 dessert spoons soy sauce

3 dessert spoons vinegar

3 dessert spoons honey

3 dessert spoons oyster sauce

1 dessert spoon sesame oil

1/2 tsp five spice

Thumb sized piece of peeled root ginger – cut into fine matchsticks

1 red chilli – deseed and finely slice

5 cloves garlic – peel, crush, finely chop

Method: Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl until combined, add the chicken, cover and marinade at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. You can marinade for longer in a fridge, just remember to take it out 30 minutes before cooking to bring back to room temperature for even cooking.

Cooking instructions

Heat 2tbsp of wok oil in a wok or large frying pan until smoking hot. Use tongs to remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the hot pan, take care as it will spit as the chicken meets the oil. Stir fry the chicken on a high heat for 3-4 minutes until the chicken browns and starts to caramelise.

Change your stirring spoon for hygiene then add the cashew nuts (discard the soaking water), carrots, water chestnuts, celery, onion and red pepper. Stir fry for  2 minutes on your cookers highest heat setting to cook the vegetables but retain some crunch.

Pour in the marinade and stir through the dish, then use the stirring spoon t push the chicken and vegetables to the sides of the pan so the marinade heats through. Let the marinade bubble away and reduce slightly for 1 minute.

Give the dish a good stir, remove from the heat and serve immediately, enjoy!

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King Prawn Linguine flavoured with Prawn and Pepper sauce.

Linguine pasta with king prawns, in a delicious sauce made from red pepper, tomato, garlic, basil, oregano, onion, flavoured with a stock made from the prawn heads and shells.

In this dish I use a simple stock made from prawn shells and heads to get every bit of flavour from the prawns. This is added to a flavour base (red pepper, garlic, tomato, basil, oregano, tomato pure, olive oil and onion) and cooked down to intensify the flavour. The sauce is completed with seasoning and a little sugar for sweetness. The raw prawns are gently cooked in the sauce, then the pasta is added to the sauce for the final few minutes of cooking, then finished with a little lemon juice.

I am really proud of this recipe and hope you like it as much as I do. Its very easy to make and certain to impress friends and family.

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Serves two

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 12-15 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

150g good quality dried linguine – cook as per packet instructions to al dente 

250-300g Raw whole King Prawns – see method

250-300ml water

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 red bell pepper – remove stalk and seeds

1 large beef tomato – remove core

12 basil leaves – plus a few extra for a garnish

1 medium size red onion – peel

4 large garlic cloves – peel, crush

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp. tomato pure

1 tsp brown sugar

Freshly ground black pepper – see method

Salt to taste – season at end once stock has reduced

Juice of half a lemon – cut other half into wedges to serve

You require a mini chopper of food processor for this recipe

 

Method: Begin by removing the shells and heads from the raw prawns, devein the prawns and set aside.

Pour 250-300ml of water into a sauce pan and bring to the boil, add the prawn shells and heads and simmer for 10-15 minutes until stock has reduced to 200ml. Unlike stocks from vegetables or animal bones stocks made from shellfish absorb all the flavour very quickly. Once reduced set aside ready to add to the dish.

Make the flavour base by adding the red pepper, basil, oregano, garlic, tomato, tomato pure, onion and olive oil to the mini chopper, blend until a smooth sauce is formed. Set aside ready to add to the pan.

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions (around 10-12 minutes), as soon as this starts begin to cook the pasta sauce. Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the blended sauce, stir frequently and cook for 5 minutes to bring out all the flavours in the sauce. Take care not to burn the sauce and if it begins to catch on the pan add a little of the prawn stock to loosen it.

Next add the prawn stock to the pan, stir well, increase heat to bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add a tsp of brown sugar and a generous amount of black pepper, do not add any salt until the dish is reduced. Keep simmering and stirring occasionally until sauce has reduced in half (should take 4-5 minutes), then taste test and add salt to taste.

Once the pasta is cooked drain it and set it aside ready to add to the pan.

Add the raw prawns to the simmering sauce and gently stir until they change from grey to pink (60-90 seconds), take care not to overcook them. I would recommend deliberately undercooking them here as they will finish cooking as you add the pasta.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and gently stir the sauce through the pasta and cook for 1 minute. Finish the dish by adding  juice of half a lemon and stir through to lift the sauce.

Serve immediately and garnish with a few torn basil leaves.

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Stir fried Scallops with Roe sauce

Stir fried scallops and vegetables with a delicious scallop roe sauce.

A recipe of my own design. Stir fried scallops with green beans, onion red pepper and spring onion. Served with a delicious sauce made from scallop roe, chilli, garlic, ginger, honey, oyster sauce, dark soy, Shaoxing and vinegar.

Serve with boiled rice, fried rice or noodles.

Serves two

Preparation 15 minutes, cooking time less than 10 minutes

Ingredients and method

For scallop roe sauce:

Roe from King scallops – from 4-6 scallops

1 large red chilli – remove stalk and seeds

4 cloves garlic – peel

Thumb of ginger – peel, cut into matchsticks (for smoother sauce)

2 dessert spoons honey

2 dessert spoons dark soy sauce

2 dessert spoons oyster sauce

1 dessert spoon Shaoxing rice wine

1 dessert spoon vinegar

Method: Use a mini chopper or food processor to blitz into a smooth sauce. Retain ready to add to the wok.

 

For the main dish:

4-6 King scallops – slice in half 

1 small carrot – peel, cut into 3-4cm batons

1/2 a red bell pepper – dice

1 medium size white onion – peel and slice

3 spring onions – slice white on diagonal, keep green tails for garnish (slice very thinly)

10-12 green beans – trim ends and cut into 3-4cm batons

3-4 tbsp. vegetable oil – 2 tbsp. for frying scallops, 1-2 tbsp.  for the dish

1 red chilli – slice for garnish

Method: Start by frying the scallops. Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in the wok over a high heat, once oil is smoking hot add the scallops. Cook for 60-90 seconds on each side, until some caramelisation appears, then remove from wok and drain on absorbent paper. Wipe the wok clean ready to cook the dish.

Heat 1-2 tbsp. of oil in the wok over a high heat until smoking hot. Add the peppers, onion, green beans and spring onion and stir fry for 2 minutes. Next add the scallop roe sauce and stir through the vegetables, keep on a high heat and stir fry the sauce for a further 3 minutes, until the sauce starts to reduce and thicken slightly. Add the cooked scallops and finish them in the sauce for a further minute.

Serve immediately with rice or noodles, using the thinly sliced spring onion greens and sliced chilli for a garnish. Enjoy!

 

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Thai King Prawn Curry

King Prawns cooked in a delicious Thai red curry sauce.

This is a quick and easy recipe to make a delicious Thai prawn curry, although you can substitute the prawns for chicken, pork, white fish or tofu if you are a vegetarian. Serve with boiled fragrant jasmine rice.

The authentic flavours come form a wonderful homemade curry paste, like all good Thai curries. There are quite a few ingredients in the paste, however they are perfectly balance and can be used in many other dishes. All the ingredients I use are easily obtained in Scotland from your local Asian supermarket, and increasingly your regular supermarket.

  For this recipe you only need half the paste, the other half can be stored in fridge for up to five days, or frozen for next time. You can also use the paste to marinade chicken before roasting, or as I did marinade tiger prawns then roast them in the curry paste – just amazing!

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Serves Two people

Preparation 10 minutes, cooking time 10-12 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

For the curry paste:

4 large red chillies – remove stalk  and seeds

6 bird eye chillies – remove stalk and seeds

3 red onions – peel, roughly dice

Thumb sized piece root ginger – peel, roughly chop

2 sticks lemongrass – bruise, remove outer husk and thinly slice

1 medium sized garlic bulb – peel each clove

2 tbsp. cashew nuts

Juice of 2 limes

2 lime leafs

2 tbps ketchup manis

2 tbsp. oyster sauce

1 tbsp. dark soy sauce

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. coriander stalks

3 tbsp. desiccated coconut

3 tbsp. brown sugar

3 cardamom pods

3 cloves

Method: Use a mini blender or food processor to blitz all the ingredients into a smooth paste. Cutting the harder and more fibrous ingredients such as the ginger and lemongrass helps for a smoother paste. You can also do this the authentic Thai way by using a mortar and pestle – unfortunately due to my disabilities I can no longer do this.

You only need half the paste for this recipe, to store the other half either freeze it (does not effect the flavour like some claim) or store it in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 5 days.

For the main dish:

Half the curry paste

150-200ml coconut milk

50ml water

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

225g Raw king prawns – Shells removed, devein

1 large red chilli – remove stalk, thinly slice

6-8 large Mint leaves – bruise, thinly sliced

2 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf

Method: Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a wide deep frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add the curry paste, reduce heat to medium and stir fry for 6-8 minutes until the paste is very aromatic. If it begins to catch add a little of the water to loosen the sauce.

Add the water and 150ml coconut milk to the sauce along with the mint leaves, increase the heat until the sauce begins to boil then reduce to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste test the sauce, add a little extra coconut milk if you wish but keep some to drizzle over the dish. Add the prawns and poach them in the sauce for 1-2 minutes, until they change from grey to pink and sauce starts to bubble again.

To complete the dish sprinkle the chopped coriander and sliced chillies on top, and drizzle a swirl of coconut milk on top (1-2 tbsp.). Serve straight away with some fragrant boiled jasmine rice.

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