There’s nothing I love more than browsing through a magazine. My hairdresser’s salon is like my version of Mecca. It’s cheaper for me to get my hair done than it would be to buy all the magazines I manage to get through during a root colour and a trim.
Inevitably, I find myself drawn to the recipes at the back. .I stash the recipe away somewhere with vague plans to cook it at some point (I should add, I only do this to the magazines I’ve paid for). Sounding familiar so far?
I’ve got as far as organising some of the recipes into things that would make good gifts or things that would be nice to serve at Christmas. Great intentions and all that.
My recipe folder is now about two inches thick after I did a recent cull. Lately, I’ve started to write a few scribbles on the ones that I’ve cooked so I know whether I’ve liked them or not, or if I’ve adjusted it to my own tastes. I’ve a brain like a sieve so quite capable of mucking things up more than once. I might have had to adapt the recipe at the last minute due to lack of some of the ingredients at time of cooking so I’ll jot that down too.
I can’t be bothered with recipes that have too many stages or are too fiddly because essentially I’m lazy and I like easy gratification, so if they end up being over complicated they’ll end up in the wastebin. I work long hours and the last thing I want to do is start a two hour process at 7pm.
Today, I had a fit of madness. I was sitting on the sofa with my talented chef husband, browsing through the recipe pack and telling him how lovely some of the recipes were. Chef tends to give me a fair critique on what I produce. Lately he’s taken over the cooking during the week which I can’t complain about. Why have a dog if you’re going to bark yourself?
‘Darling,’ I said thoughtfully, ‘maybe I should cook more.’
A scornful snort was followed by ‘Yeah, right!’
‘I think I should start cooking some of these recipes. How about if I do one or two a week?’
The answer was a pair of raised eyebrows. The message was ‘You’ll never bother.’
So you all know I couldn’t back down to the unspoken challenge. It shouldn’t interfere with my ability to write my next book. We all have to eat, right?
So this is where Cooking The Book starts – I will cook one or two recipes a week from my pack for the next year (barring holidays and deadlines).
One thing you should know is that my cooking proficiency is pretty good – I don’t measure my ingredients unless it’s for cakes or breads. If it says spoons or cups, I do measure but when it goes into ounces or grams – I don’t. I can gauge by look or taste and knowing what the outcome should be. The only exception to this is if I find myself in wholly unfamiliar territory (I haven’t don’t a lot of Vietnamese or Japanese cooking).
For some of you, you’ll want to know if it will suit your family, or whether it’s quick to get to the table. The other important thing is taste so I’ll score everything from 1- 5, with 1 being awful and 5 being delicious.
With all that done, here’s my first recipe. Please excuse my dodgy photographs and efforts at creating themed atmosphere.
#1 Keralean Fish (or Prawn) Curry – My Rating = 5
Categories: Quick Easy Dinner, Alternative to a Takeaway, Suitable for Family
Cuisine: Southern Indian
Difficulty: Could do it with my eyes closed
Time To Table: Under 30 mins (very little chopping)
Serves: 6 people
CREDIT: Recipe from the FAGE Total Greek Yoghurt website – this is the second time I’ve made it.
200g FAGE Total Greek Yoghurt (I’ve made it once without, and once with the 0% Yoghurt)
1 tbspn Groundnut Oil (I used Olive Oil, and second time, I used Coconut Oil which was nicer)
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
15 Curry Leaves (couldn’t find them so I just a tablespoon of Medium Curry Powder – worked fine)
1 tsp Ground Cumin
6 Shallots(or 1 large onion), finely sliced
2.5cm piece of fresh Ginger
1 red Chilli (I used green)
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tbsp Tamarind (I left this out)
750g White fish or Raw Prawns (skinned & cut into chunks, e.g. monkfish, haddock, cod or coley) – I’ve only made it with Prawns
160ml Coconut Cream (I used about 2/3rd of a hard block of Creamed Coconut)
1 x 400g Tin of Chopped Tomatoes with Garlic (or a carton of Passata)
To serve: Naan, Rice and Coriander
My extras: I threw in a few handfuls of raw spinach. You could use frozen spinach at an earlier stage.
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the mustard seeds (and curry leaves) until the seeds start to pop. Add the cumin, shallots (onions), ginger and chilli (or curry powder if not using fresh curry leaves) – cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes until softened.
Mix together the turmeric and tamarind (if you have it) with a splash of water and add to the pan. Cook for a minute until the spices are combined and then add the tomatoes and coconut cream.
If you’re using fish rather than prawns, add the fish now. Otherwise simmer first for 10 minutes, then add the prawns.
Simmer for another 10 mins. Taste, and if you want to cool down the chilli heat, then add the yoghurt.
Season and add coriander. Serve with rice and naan bread.
Watch out for the next article…a special pancake recipe to tie in with Pancake Day.