Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Serves: 4

We have been watching Rick Stein’s inspiring cooking tour – Venice to Istanbul – over the Christmas Break.

We’ve streamed an episode or two a week as a treat after dinner and other than dozens of plans to spend months of our lives travelling Greece, Croatia and Turkey, we’ve also picked up some pretty amazing recipes to try.

When Rick cooked this Turkish stew, he was pretty taken aback by it, especially the aubergine purée.

It is incredible.

It is a whole new chapter in stews for me with a unique, earthy, rich, creamy heat; literally, as good as stews get. So much so that I am breaking the aubergine purée out as its own post.

It is a comparable to my favourite pan fried polenta as the base for a rich braise or stew.

There is a little bit of prep work in it, though this is an awesome stew.

10/10.

Ingredients

For the red pepper paste

600gm red peppers (3 – 4 red peppers)
50gm tomato paste
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

For the aubergine purée

4 medium aubergines
30gm butter
30gm plain flour
380ml full-fat milk (we added a dash or two of pouring cream in addition)
75gm parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the lamb stew

4 tbsp olive oil
850gm boned lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces
1 tbsp red pepper paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 green finger chilli, sliced
1 green pepper, seeds removed and sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
200ml hot water
Chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.

For the red pepper paste

  1. Roast the peppers for 30 minutes until dark and softened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave until cool enough to handle.
  2. Remove the charred skins, stalks and seeds.
  3. In the blender, blitz the peppers with the remaining ingredients; store for up to a week in the fridge.

For the aubergine purée

  1. Roast the aubergines whole for 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel, chop and mash well using a fork.
  2. In a pan over a medium-heat, make a roux: melt the butter and add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until you have a thick white sauce.
  3. Mix in the aubergine, cheese and lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper and keep warm.

For the lamb stew

  1. Warm half the olive oil in a large casserole pan over a high-heat and brown the lamb in batches.
  2. When browned, return all the lamb to the pan and add the red pepper and tomato pastes, the remaining olive oil, onion, garlic, chilli and green pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and the hot water. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover with a lid and allow to cook slowly for 1 – 1½ hours.

Reduce the gravy to a thick consistency and serve ladled over the aubergine purée, scatter the chopped parsley.

Simple (wonderful) fish stew

Simple (wonderful) fish stew

Serves: 6

Nat and I had lunch at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Mollymook NSW over the weekend and what a treat it was. Just as good as the first time we visited a few years back.

The highlight was a brilliant fish and shellfish soup with rouille and croutons, something I have promised to recreate. A wonderful fish stock, infused with saffron, chilli and orange, it was just excellent.

The only problem – returning early Monday morning to work after a long drive back up the South Coast – being that a fish stock isn’t the sort of thing you can quickly whip up on a Monday night. All we had in the fridge was some Parmesan cheese, bacon and assorted vegetables!

We also needed something healthy for dinner on account of a long weekend consisting of several late dinners remit with red wines, slow cooked meats and more than a handful of desserts.

This simple, wonderful fish stew is your Monday night cheater’s recipe and an adaptation of something I found online.

It is incredibly healthy, super simple and packing flavour if you can find the time to caramelise the vegetables and let the stock and tomatoes simmer.

Finish with some chopped parsley and some croutons and you are getting very close to something you’d be happy to have in a good bistro. Seriously, with a cold beer and a good show on the TV, it just made our night.

I’ll do Rick’s wonderful soup one weekend coming up, though for your Monday night fix, this just cannot be beaten.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 celery sticks, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 cans, tomatoes
1 liter, good quality fish stock
600gm firm white fish, cut into pieces
250gm raw prawns
Flat leaf parsley, chopped to serve

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil over a low, medium heat in a large saucepan and saute the fennel seeds, onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook as slowly as you can until softening.
  2. Add the leeks, tomato and stock and season. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low, medium heat for around 20 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and prawns and cook for a few minutes. Check the seasoning and serve with the parsley (and croutons if you have managed to avoid the the wines the weekend prior!).

Chicken, Pumpkin and Cashew Curry

Chicken, Pumpkin and Cashew Curry

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really neat curry from The Blue Ducks’ ‘Real Food’ cookbook, a book we really like and have had some early success from.

It is unusual, both in terms of the amount of curry powder you need for it, as well as the wonderfully fragrant paste of ginger, garlic, curry leaves, lime leaves, coriander roots and lemongrass; though it definitely, definitely pulls together.

Just ensure that you get the curry powder to a powder, even if it means a second vino whilst working the mortar and pestle.

It is warm, comforting, fragrant and fun to pull together. Comfort being the operative word; this is simply a great chicken curry you’d happily eat every night with rice – or cauliflower rice as we did.

The original recipe asks for a whole chicken cut up, though we used 1kg of chicken thigh.

Final point: Kashmiri chilli powder.

Most of Rick Stein’s curries ask for it. Among many others.

Sure, you can substitute other chilli powders, though if you can, make the effort and get some Kashimiri chilli powder from an Indian grocer. It is mild and adds a wonderful red hue rather than simply being the Sherman Tank so many chilli powders are. It is worth it.

Ingredients

3 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
1 large onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, chopped
10 – 15 curry leaves
3 kaffir lime leaves (remove the spine)
1 bunch of coriander, leaves picked and roots and stalks reserved
1 lemongrass stem, white part only, chopped
1 x 1.6 kg chicken, 10 – 12 pieces, skin on and bones in (or 1kg of chicken thigh)
200ml coconut milk
500gm peeled and deseeded pumpkin, cut into 5cm dice
400gm can diced tomatoes
100gm roasted cashews
1 heaped tsp salt flakes
Natural yoghurt

Curry Powder

75gm coriander seeds (yes, a lot!)
50gm cumin seeds (ditto)
8 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
6 black peppercorns
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 dried chillies
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

Method

  1. For the curry powder, toast the coriander seeds cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves in a dry frying pan until fragrant and lightly coloured. Tip the spices into a spice grinder – or mortar and pestle – and grind until a fine powder.
  2. Place the garlic, ginger, curry leaves, lime leaves, coriander roots and stalks, and lemongrass in a blender or small food processor and blitz to a paste.
  3. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the ghee and fry the onion until it is just turning golden. Add the curry powder and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the spices don’t burn.
  4. Add the paste to the pan and fry for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the chicken, coconut milk, pumpkin, tomatoes, cashews, salt and half the coriander leaves. Slowly simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Sprinkle with the remaining coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice (or cauliflower rice) and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

Prawn Molee

 

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a beautiful curry.

Beautifully delicate and mild, so much so, you could be eating a contemporary French starter.

The lightness of it of course allows the prawns to sing rather than smothering them as merely a protein as so many curries do.

It is a Rick Stein number and the recipe from Kerala.

With some boiled basmati rice – and coriander – this will make your night.

Wow.

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp ground black pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly bruised with a rolling pin
6 cloves
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5cm ginger, finely shredded
2 green chillis, slit lengthways, deseeded
1 tsp salt
Small handful fresh curry leaves
Small pinch turmeric
400ml coconut milk
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
500gm large tail-on raw prawns
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced for garnish
Boiled basmati rice to serve
Coriander leaves to serve (us, not Rick)

Method

  1. Heat coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pepper, cardamoms and cloves and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chillies, salt and curry leaves and fry for 1 minute.
  2. Add the turmeric, coconut milk and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes until reduced slightly. Add the prawns and simmer for a further 4 minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Scatter the tomatoes on top, turn off the heat, cover the pan and set aside for 4 minutes.

Rockpool’s Peas with slow-cooked egg

Serves: 6 – 8

Nat and I served this as a side to Rick Stein’s wonderful Escalopes of Salmon with a Champagne and Chive sauce; we also served Rockpool’s twice cooked, thick, hand cut chips.

Rather than use tinned peas, we used frozen peas which would have reduced the intensity of the pea taste; next time, I’ll make the effort and use tinned peas. Also, rather than do the egg in a sous vide, we poached it for a few minutes.

(I’ve typed up the recipe this way, though by all means, if you have 2 hours, place your egg in the sous vide at 60c and gloat.)

This is a really effective side with no end to variations; lardons of jamon, stewed tomatoes, pecorino cheese shaved on top, mascarpone, whatever.

Better still, this dish shows you give a damn about serving dinner, complete right to the edges and sides.

Serve with steak, a braise or fish and show your guests that tinned peas didn’t in fact die in the Great War!

300g tinned green peas, drained, liquid reserved
1 egg
¼ c extra virgin olive oild (plus extra for drizzling)
1 French shallot (eschalot)
2 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
½ dry long red chilli
180ml white chicken stock
lemon juice to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chiffonade flat leaf parsley, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Poach your egg so the yolk will run.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the shallot, anchovy, garlic and chilli and sauté until soft and sweet. Add the peas, 2 ½ tbsp. of reserved pea liquid and the chicken stock.
  3. Flatten the peas with the back of a spoon and cook until they are soft, the liquid has reduced and the mixture has thickened. Season to taste with the lemon juice and salt and pepper. Stir through the parsley and spoon onto a serving plate.
  4. Very carefully crack the egg on top. Season to taste, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with the extra parsley.

One Hundred Almond Curry

One Hundred Almond Curry

Serves: 8

This is an absolute pearler of a curry.

Just wonderful.

Unique, hot, creamy, moorish and all at the same time. That we had it with an indulgent medium-grain rice made it all the better.

From Christine Manfield’s Tasting India, it is one of those curries we have been lucky enough to cook that you will never have at a takeaway or your local Indian restaurant. It is far too good and sophisticated for that.

Not that you would get that from the ingredients at first glance.

It is the almonds that make it so special – something I have written about in the past – and it is their slight crunch, the flavour, the colour and again, the creaminess that makes it work just so damn well.

This recipe from the Himalayas is unquestionably worth doing. Another example of a curry you’d never know existed until you tried it and one you will absolutely love.

Ingredients

2kg lamb leg on bone, cut into pieces
1 tbsp black peppercorns
6 slices ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
3 litres chicken stock
1 ½ cups (240gm) blanched almonds, skins removed
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (essentially, half/half ginger and garlic)
12 dried Kashmiri chillies, broken into small pieces
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp white poppy seeds (we substituted white sesame seeds)
3 tbsp ghee (we substituted canola oil)
300ml coconut milk
70ml Tamarind Liquid
3 tomatoes, quartered, seeled and sliced lengthways

Method

  1. Put the lamb, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves and salt in a large, heavy saucepan and pour in the stock. Bring to boiling point over a medium heat, reduce the heat and simmer for at least an hour until the meat is very tender. This could take up to an extra hour so be prepared.
  2. Remove the lamb from the stock and set aside. Strain the stock, discarding the solids.
  3. Blend the almonds with the onion, ginger garlic paste, chilli and cumin, coriander and poppy seeds to make a fine paste.
  4. Heat the ghee in a large pan and fry the almond paste over a low heat for a few minutes until it starts to colour. Add the coconut milk, tamarind liquid and 2 cups of the strained stock, stirring to combine. Simme for 15 minutes until it has reduced and thickened slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Add the lamb and the tomato to the gravy and stir well to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomato breaks down.
  6. Serve with rice.