COLD, dark nights, coupled with New Year resolutions, can often lead to more evenings in at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a special weekend supper.
It’s more of a reason to try something new and prepare a delicious dinner for friends in the comfort of your home.
The recipes from my last book, Kitchin Suppers, about which I receive the most feedback are the Saturday Suppers – the recipes that are a little more challenging, but are a joy to cook at weekends when you have more time, fancy trying something new, or when you want to really impress friends. My recipes this week should give you a chance to try something a little special.
Many people cook vegetable and meat curries at home, but I find a fish curry can be more unusual, and delicious. The great thing is you can use lots of different fish in your curry, though the best are meaty white fish or salmon – firm fish that isn’t going to flake too much when you cook it with the sauce. I also love to throw some mussels into this dish as they add that wow factor, and they are so cheap if you pick them up from your local fishmonger. Make sure you carefully measure out your spices as you don’t want to overpower the fish. If you want to go all out and impress, you can also try making your own naan breads. Both taste so much fresher when they are made at home.
Another of my favourite dishes at this time of year is partridge. It’s perfect for entertaining and creates a bit of theatre at home as you can serve every guest a whole partridge on their plate. The great thing about that is not only in the presentation, but everyone gets a chance to try every part of the bird with all of its wonderful tastes and textures.
It may seem like a more challenging recipe, but good quality partridge is best served simply – either grilled or roasted – with some fresh seasonal vegetables and a light gravy or sauce so you don’t lose the wonderful, rich, gamey flavours. Partridge doesn’t need a long cooking time and it’s ideal if you serve it pink and juicy.
Get it right and your guests will be inviting themselves back before you know it. n
200g salmon fillet
200g white fish (eg cod or hake)
100g squid rings
20 mussels (fresh) or any fish and shellfish
1 onion – finely chopped
1 small red pepper – finely chopped
1 tbsp Madras curry powder
1l chicken stock
1 tin coconut milk
1 small bunch fresh coriander – separate stalks and leaves
1 banana, sliced thinly
1 small red chilli – optional
For the sauce
Sweat the onions in vegetable oil until soft. Add the chopped pepper to the onions and sweat until soft. Add the curry powder. Cook for several minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add the chicken stock and reduce until the pan is almost dry. Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil – do not reduce. Add the banana and coriander stalks. Take off the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Blend in a food processor and pass through a sieve to create a smooth sauce.
To assemble the curry
Cook the fish using your preferred method – steam, grill, barbecue or pan fry. Heat the sauce and add the fish to coat the pieces. Serve with rice, warm naan bread, coriander leaves and chopped chilli.
1 onion, chopped finely
1tsp curry powder
1tsp fresh, finely chopped ginger
1tsp lime zest
250g basmati rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Heat the oven to 120C/Gas Mark ½. Sweat the onion in the oil until completely soft. Add powdered spices and cook thoroughly for several minutes until completely cooked. Add water and season with salt. Bring to the boil. Add the rice, cover the surface with parchment paper and place in oven until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Stir in ginger and lime zest. Keep warm until serving.
4 partridges – use an oven ready bird or pluck the feathers and remove the head, wings, wishbone, claws, internal organs and guts
2 tbsp olive oil
seasonal vegetables – cut into chunks/wedges (currently we use pumpkin, carrots, Brussels sprouts, kale and celeriac)
salt and pepper
Sauce ingredients – make the sauce first and set aside
2 tsp olive oil
3 shallots – finely chopped
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
a few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp black peppercorns
500ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
2 partridge carcasses – chopped into small pieces
salt and pepper – to season
For the sauce
Brown the partridge bones in a heavy-based pan until they are well caramelised and brown all over. Tip out of the pan into a colander to drain the excess oil. Return the pan to heat, add a little more oil and sauté the shallots until golden brown. Add the vinegar, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns and drained bones. De-glaze the pan with half of the wine and reduce to a syrup. Add the remaining wine and again reduce to a syrup. Add half of the chicken stock and reduce to a syrup. Add the remaining stock and reduce to desired consistency. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep sauce in a warm place until ready to serve.
For the partridge
Heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 6. Season and roast the vegetables – blanch the green vegetables in salted water until tender, and set aside until the bird is cooked. Season the birds with salt and pepper, including inside the cavity. Pan-fry in the olive oil on all sides until golden brown. Transfer to the oven and roast for 6-8 minutes – 6 minutes will produce slightly pink breasts, 8 minutes should be cooked all the way through. Rest the bird in a warm place for 5 minutes with legs elevated so that the juices run back down through the breasts.
2 tsp sugar
450g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
150g natural yoghurt
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Place the dough in a bowl (covered loosely), then leave to prove in a warm place for 20 minutes. “Knock-back” or knead the dough roughly for a few minutes until all of the air is knocked out. Prove again for 20 minutes. Roll out the dough thinly to about 5mm, cut into round shapes and pan-fry in a little oil, in a non-stick pan, on both sides until puffed up. Keep warm until serving.