Friday, 21 August 2020

Seafood Paella

Paella is the taste of Summer for me.  As soon as the sun is out so is the paella pan.
I cooked this one on the hob, using two burners but it also works very well cooked on the barbecue.

Prepare the ingredients before you start, it makes a real difference.

Serves 10-12


150gchorizo, diced
115g pancetta, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs, boned and skinless
1 litre hot chicken stock
1 large onion, chopped
2 sprigs Thyme, leaves picked
2 cloves garlic, grated, + 1/2 garlic clove grated, to add to the prawns
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large red pepper, diced
600g paella rice, I used Calasparra
1 tsp sweet Paprika
6oz white wine
2 Tbsp lemon juice
5 oz frozen peas
around 20 Mussels, washed and debearded
2 oz butter
5 large tomatoes, deseeded and diced
5 Tbsp chopped Parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
400g large prawns, deveined
2 squid tubes, cleaned and cut into rings
4 lemons to garnish

To Make The Paella

Heat 1/2Tbsp of the oil in a Paella pan (or very large frying pan),  Add the Pancetta and Chorizo and fry until golden and beginning to crisp.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

add the chicken thighs to the pan and cook over a med heat for 6 minutes, turning over halfway.  remove the chicken and set aside.

Add 1/2 oil to the pan and fry the onion, Thyme, garlic, chilli flakes and red pepper.  cook for around seven minutes over a low-med heat stirring occasionally to prevent the onion taking too much colour.

Add the remaining oil to the pan then add the rice Bay leaves and Paprika to the pan and stir around for 2 minutes to coat the rice.

Stir in the wine, lemon juice and hot stock and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.

Fold in the Pancetta, Chorizo, chicken, peas and place in the mussells, closed side down.

Cover the pan loosely with foil and cook on a low-medium heat for 15 minutes.

I the stock has dried up add a cup of boiling water.

Rest the paella for 10 minutes while you cook the prawns and squid.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.Grate 1/2 clove of garlic, add to the pan with  the prawns and stir fry until pink.  add the squid to the pan and stir fry for 1 minute.

Remove the foil and stir in the tomatoes, butter and lemon zest.

Scatter the prawns and squid over the top of the Paella and sprinkle over the Parsley.

Garnish with cut lemons.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Chicken and Tomato Korma

 For mid-week or the weekend this chicken and tomato Korma is always a treat.  The tomatoes, which are added to the dish for the last 15 minutes of cooking, become soft, sweet and succulent.  Serve with basmati rice and naan bread or paratha.  I choose the latter because I can buy them frozen ready to cook, and grill them, from frozen, on a Griddle on the hob, then put them over the flame to create a toasted finish.


600g chicken breast fillets, cut to 2.5 cm pieces

2tbsp rape seed or sunflower oil

1 x 3cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated

1 red chilli, finely chopped. leave the seeds in If you like a bit of heat

1 green chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp ground almonds

1tsp turmeric

2tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

150ml coconut milk

250ml chicken stock made with I stock cube

4 tblsp double cream

2tbsp mango chutney

1 small punnet cherry tomatoes

Chopped coriander and toasted flaked almonds to garnish


Heat a sauté pan over a medium heat and add the oil.

Add the onion, chillies and ginger a cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes, add the garlic and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.

Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric, stir for one minute then add the chicken. If the pan is dry add a little water.   Stir fry for a few minutes until the chicken is coated in the spices and starting to cook.

Add the chicken stock and simmer gently for 15 minutes.  Add the ground almonds, coconut milk and cherry tomatoes, simmer gently for a further 15 minutes.

Turn the heat up very slightly, add the mango chutney then the cream.  Let it bubble for a few minutes to reduce and thicken.

Serve with basmati rice and your bread of choice.

Garnish with chopped coriander and toasted almonds.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Prawn Pad Thai

This dish requires a little preparation but is well worth the effort.  Hot, sweet, sour and very fresh and light.


110g rice noodles
2 tbsp dried shrimps or 2 tsp shrimp paste
200g raw, headless tiger prawns, defrosted if frozen
3 tbsp rape seed or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red chillies, de seeded and chopped
Small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
1.5 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Juice from 1 large lime

Ingredients for the garnish

Small bunch of coriander, leaves picked
3 tbsp natural peanuts, chopped
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 handful fresh bean sprouts
Lime wedges for garnish

If using dried shrimp, soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes.  
Soak the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes, make sure they are covered.  
Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside
Drain the dried shrimp
If the prawns need shelled and deveined do this next
Cut each prawn into two

Heat a wok on high heat
Add the oil, add the chilli onion and garlic and stir fry for to mins
Add the prawns and stir fry until they turn pink
Add the dried shrimp or shrimp paste, peanut butter and fish sauce
Stir and add the noodles then stir them around for a couple of minutes
Slowly pour over the beaten egg, leave it for 30 seconds to slightly set then stir it round
Add 1/2 of the garnish, ( not the lime wedges) stir to combine
Serve in bowls and garnish with coriander, peanuts, spring onions, fresh bean sprouts And a wedge of lime.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Corn-Dog Batter Prawns

I made corn-dogs for my Grandchildren recently.  They went down very well but I only used half of the batter.   Next day I tried raw king prawns dipped in the remaining batter and fried in a little oil.  They were amazing.  Light and crispy and very tasty dipped in sweet chilli sauce.
The batter recipe is enough to make both the prawns and corn dogs.

Ingredients for the batter

1 cup cornmeal (polenta)
1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk + 2 tbsp
1 egg
225g raw king prawns (defrosted if frozen) cleaned and deveined.
Rape seed or vegetable oil to fry

In a large bowl, mix together, the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.

Add buttermilk, egg and 2 tbsp oil to the dry ingredients and mix to combine

Leave the batter to rest for 10 minutes

Remove half the batter into a tumbler and set aside for the corn dogs.  The batter can be refrigerated for a couple of days.

Dry off the prawns with kitchen towel and place them in the remaining batter.

Pour around 5cm of the oil into a pan over a medium heat and heat to around 180o c.  Or when a drop of the batter floats to the top.

Using kitchen tongs, place a few prawns into the oil and cook until golden brown, turn and cook for a further minute or two and drain on kitchen towel.  Cook the rest of the prawns in batches.  🍤 

Serve with sweet chilli sauce and a wedge of lemon.  🍋 

For the corn dogs

8-10 frankfurter sausages Tossed in a little flour, shake off excess.
Bamboo skewers

Place a skewer into each sausage.  Holding By the skewer, dip each corn dog into the tumbler of batter one at a time, start with three sausages and fry in batches in Hot oil 180oc for 3 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the sausages.

Drain on kitchen towel and serve with ketchup and hot dog mustard.

Corn dogs can be frozen for up to 2 months.  Cool completely before freezing.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Vanilla Panacotta with Raspberry and Blackberry Sauce

Vanilla Panacotta with Raspberry and Blackberry sauce

This is a lovely Summer dessert, berries picked from the garden and crunchy granola sprinkled over.  Also nice with crushed nut brittle or shortbread biscuits. I used a 7cm Round 4cm high dariole mould.

Makes 6

For the Panacotta

266ml whole milk
266ml double cream
3 sheets leaf gelatine 
1 vanilla pod or heaped tsp vanilla paste
25 grams sugar

For the sauce

100g fresh raspberries
100g fresh blackberries
1 level tbsp icing sugar
A few berries for decoration

Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water.
Add the cream, milk and sugar to a saucepan.  Split the vanilla pod and add to the milk/ cream mixture. If you are using vanilla paste add now.
Warm over a med heat to scald (this is the stage before boil) Stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved.
Remove from the heat, take out the vanilla pod and remove the gelatine from the water and add to the pan, stir to dissolve the gelatine.
Put the mixture in a jug and pour into the moulds.
Place in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight.
To remove the Panacotta from the moulds dip the base of the mould in a bowl of warm water, place a small plate or bowl over and turn it upside down, shake it very gently and it should fall onto the plate.

To make the sauce place the berries and icing sugar in a processor, blend for a few seconds then strain the sauce though a sieve into a jug.
Pour a little over the Panacotta and sprinkle 2 tsp granola. Decorate with berries.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Mushroom Risotto with Roast Tomatoes and Crispy Basil

Mushroom Risotto with Roast Tomatoes and Crispy Basil.    

A reasonably priced dish for mid-week or a special dinner with friends and family.

Another recipe To add to the repertoire for the tomato harvest.

Serves 4 as a main course
Serves 6 as a starter


For the Risotto

200g risotto rice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
100g mushrooms, I used chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
80g Parmesan cheese, grated
170ml white wine
1tbsp butter
1 litre chicken stock (I used 2 chicken stock cubes)

300g cherry tomatoes
Leaves from large bunch of basil
Olive oil spray or drizzle
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180c

Heat the oil over a medium heat and gently cook the shallots for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and mushrooms and stir fry for around 5-6 mins until the mushrooms are just cooked.
Add the risotto rice and stir For a couple of minutes to coat all the grains.
Add the white wine and stir until it is absorbed.  
Place the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish and spray or drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter the basil leaves over the top.  Roast for 10 - 15 mins until the tomatoes are just starting to split and the basil leaves are crisp.
Add add 1 ladle of stock, stirring continually, until The stock has dried up then add another ladle of stock and keep repeating this process until the rice is plump, tender and a little al dente.

Add the butter to the risotto and stir until melted, add 2/3 Parmesan stir in for 1 min.

Serve with the remaining Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Spoon the roast tomatoes over and scatter a few crispy basil leaves on top.

Drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Never too young

  • The thing about Delia is... her recipes always work. This was the thing people used to say. As Delia Smith herself said: “Who on earth would write recipes that don’t work?” Who indeed. That said, I could name quite a few.

Delia has also said that she has no intention of showing off, but simply encouraging healthy eating through home cooking. The key thing here is basics. While there are many people who either cook instinctively or have learned from family members, for most people the basics don’t come easily for those who aren’t kitchen trained.

The definitive solution to this is a school curriculum which includes food nutrition and a scientific approach to tasty healthy eating. Not only can learning these skills be great fun, it is becoming increasingly clear how important it is to eat healthily for your future wellbeing. The rise of obesity leading to diabetes is at a peak. The importance of diet - along with exercise - has proven to be the answer to good health. (Obviously not smoking and not taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol have a part to play). But having a good diet is a good start.

I think there would be a huge benefit if schools and colleges were to provide Delia-style cooking and nutrition classes. It doesn’t need to be their chosen course but perhaps a free period option. When I was at college my free period courses were French cuisine and flower arranging, and they’re skills I have taken with me to adulthood. Even just one school/college period watching an episode of Delia’s How to Cook could inspire so many. Well-balanced meals - whether meat based, vegetarian or vegan - with emphasis on food budgetIng is also essential, and could set a child or young adult on the right course for life.

There has been a generational issue here. A lot of children a couple of generations gone were latchkey children; arriving home to an empty house as both parents were at work. Often this was a necessity, in order to keep the family clothed and fed. Tinned food (not all bad) became the norm. Then we had microwave - or ‘ping’ - meals, which were a godsend to working parents.  Tasty though the ‘ping’ meals were and inarguably convenient, they often contained additives, colourants and lots of salt and sugar. And as a consequence, some children grew up with that being the only way of cooking their parents knew.

Of course, plenty of children have the encouragement from their parents to eat healthily and participate in the preparation of their meals if they are lucky enough to find the time. But the stress of homework, after-school activities and day-to-day commitments leave even less time to think about family meals.

I have found it difficult to find suitable cookbooks for both young children and children in their teens, which cover the very basics of cookery. Social media tends to show the end results, but not how to get there. Television could provide an answer to this and instead of predominantly competitive programmes like children’s bake-off or junior master chef, why not provide cookery programmes for children based on learning to cook from scratch? No one is too young to learn, on varying levels, about food and nutrition. Family mealtimes can be very relaxing and become a special stress-free time to spend together. Get children involved. Whether it is measuring, chopping, mixing or tasting, this can only be good for their outlook on food, where it comes from, cooking, eating, and can develop their tastes for years to come.

Modern cooking should not be all about competition, but perhaps more a celebration of good and healthy food. Most of all, enjoying the experience of cooking and eating tasty, healthy home cooked dishes.

Because once you know the basics, the world is your (proverbial) oyster.

Seafood Paella

Paella is the taste of Summer for me.  As soon as the sun is out so is the paella pan. I cooked this one on the hob, using two burners but i...