Pineapple Curry

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Serves 6 as part of an Indian menu

I’ve cooked this dish for a lot of people over the years and they all rave about it. Most ask for the recipe!

This dish is vegetarian and vegan.

For the marinade…
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 large pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed (approx 800g cut weight)

For the finished dish…
2/3 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ tsp mustard powder
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
½ tsp salt
100 ml water
3 tbs vegetable oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
3 bay leaves
3 dried red chillies
150ml coconut milk
Fresh coriander, chopped

Mix all of the marinade ingredients except the pineapple into a paste with a little water. Stir in the pineapple and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Blend the desiccated coconut, mustard, chillies, salt and water to a puree in a blender.

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds until they start to pop. Add the bay leaves followed by the dried red chillies. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add the pineapple and gently stir fry for approx 10 minutes. Don’t let the pineapple over-soften.

Add the coconut puree and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Check the seasoning.

At this stage the curry can be cooled and stored in a fridge until needed.

Reheat the dish gently and garnish with the chopped coriander just before serving.

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup with Ginger, Garlic and Chilli

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Serves 4 to 6

This is a hearty soup that you can enjoy year round. The root vegetables are warming in winter and the spices cooling in summer. Have friends around for lunch and share the soup with lots of crusty bread.

This soup is vegetarian.

1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons of tomato puree, slackened in a little water
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Ground black pepper
2 further tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
3 dried chillies
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
400ml whole milk

Place the vegetables in a large roasting tin and stir in the tomato puree, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and coloured. This will take about 30 minutes or so.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add the minced garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds then tip the roasted vegetables into the pan and stir well. Add the stock, chillies and vinegar, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are completely soft.

Allow the soup to cool slightly then blitz with a stick blender until you have a fairly smooth puree. Pour in the milk and stir in some additional hot water if the mixture looks too thick. Bring to a good simmer, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Beef, Mushroom and Guinness Casserole

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Serves 3 to 4

This recipe continues the theme that you don’t have to get complicated to get outstanding results.

Although this is a casserole, don’t be tempted to cook it in a slow cooker because you will be left with a boozy taste.

It is best made the day before to give the flavours time to develop.

I like to turn this dish into a pie by serving it with a puff pastry “lid” which I cook separately in the oven while the casserole is reheating on the hob.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
150g white button mushrooms quartered
1kg braising steak (knuckle or shin) cubed
2 heaped tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 440ml can of Guinness
300ml beef stock (made with an Oxo cube)
Salt
Ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large oven-proof pan and soften the onion for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes until they are well coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Toss the meat in the flour.

Heat the oil in the pan and brown the beef in batches. Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan with the beef, stir in any excess flour, then add the Guinness and stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours. Stir the mixture a couple of times during cooking and add a splash or two of boiling water if the gravy looks too thick.

Tomatoes baked with Cream and Mint

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Serves 2 for lunch or 4 for a starter or side dish

This delicious dish is packed full of flavour and is not as rich as you may expect. I like to have it for lunch with a bit of crusty bread. Alternatively, why not try it as a starter or as a side dish to accompany grilled chicken or fish?

This dish is vegetarian.

6 large ripe tomatoes
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A couple of pinches of sugar
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh mint
250ml double cream
60 or 70g (use plenty!) of grated parmesan

30cm x 20cm lasagne dish or glass/ceramic baking dish

Cut the end cores out of the tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to stand for 45 seconds. Drain and slide off their skins.

Cut the tomatoes into thinnish slices. Layer the slices into the dish, overlapping them slightly. Season generously with salt and black pepper and sprinkle over the sugar.

Place the mint sprigs in a small saucepan and pour in the cream. Bring to a boil and simmer vigorously until the cream has almost halved in volume. Remove the mint and pour the cream evenly over the tomatoes.

Sprinkle the surface with a generous amount of grated parmesan. Bake in a hot oven for about 25 minutes until the dish is bubbling, thickened and browned.