It’s a bank holiday weekend and we are cooking on an Aga. Life is pretty good. So, what to cook? OK, how about something with chilli? Sure thing!
Gather and prepare the ingredients before you start as the cooking of this dish is fast and furious. Make your chilli and spice selection. Will it be chilli powder, fresh chilli, chilli paste, chilli flakes, chilli sauce, homemade spice mix, fermented chilli paste. In the ingredient list below is our choice. Go with whatever flavours suit your mood, palette and heat tolerance. The choice is all yours!
2 red onions, sliced
a spoonful of gochujang (such an amazing, yummy product, adding depth and umami to dishes like this)
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
a thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
a chilli of your choice, sliced
small handful of garam masala (we ground our own for this recipe with coriander seed, cumin, fennel seed, white peppercorn, lots of cardamon, cloves and cinnamon)
a finger of fresh turmeric, finely grated
4 tomatoes, chopped roughly
2 tsp of runny honey
a handful of desiccated cocount
a can of coconut milk
bunch of coriander, chopped
a whole lot of prawns (100 g per person)
green pepper, sliced
pak choi, leaves and stems chopped
a lime for squeezing
Now you’re ready to cook up one tasty prawn dish.
Heat a wide pan, big enough to fit the entire dish in it. We opted for a 30cm almond Le Creuset shallow casserole, needs must and all that.
Add the sunflower oil and onion. Fry until the onions start to take on a little colour.
Add ginger, garlic, chilli and turmeric. Fry for 30 seconds. Don’t let the garlic burn now. That’s why we tend to slice garlic, not crush. Less chance of burning.
Add garam masala, gochujang, honey and tomatoes. Allow it all to smoosh together.
Now for the coconut. Chuck in the dessicated stuff and let it absorb the liquid from the tomatoes. Then give the can of coconut milk a good shake and tip it in. You might need to scrap the more solid part out if the can is cold.
Let the sauce come up to a bubble and thicken slightly.
Thrown in the peppers, pan choi stalks and the prawns.
When the prawns are pink, stir the pan choi leaves in and serve.
Add a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of coriander leaves.
February soups at The Birdhouse are typically thick enough to put hairs on your chest. Hearty and wholesome, they keep you going through the gloom when you’d rather dive under the duvet as soon as the sun sets. However, the weather in the UK has been a little odd over the last week or so. Far milder than normal, with hardly any rain, light and bright. Spring is in the air, in the form of the scent of early flowers, the buzzing of insects. It is predicted to go on like this for the next week.
The warmer temperatures mean than a fresher soup is in order. A check in the stores reveals Crown Prince squashes, garlic and red chillies. Sounds perfect for the soup we’re after.
Peel the squash, easier said than done, it seems to fight back at every stage. Once battle is done, chunk it up and place it in a roaster with some whole garlic cloves. Splash liberally with olive oil, season then roast in a medium oven until soft and caramelised around the edges.
While the squash is roasting, prepare the soup base by sautéing roughly chopped onion, celery, carrot and leek in a pan. Add bay, rosemary and red chillies of your choice. Add the roasted squash and garlic. Top up with stock. We had a pot of smokey liquor left over from boiling a ham, perfect.
Bring the soup to a gentle boil and simmer until the veggies are cooked. Remove the bay leaf. Plug in the stick blender and blitz the hell out of that soup. Squash always makes such a smooth, velvety consistency, very satisfying. Add a slosh of double cream to enrich it and bind all the ingredients together. Check for seasoning, add chilli flakes or powder of your choice. We opted for Aleppo pepper, not too hot, vibrant red and sweet sun-dried tomato oiliness notes (no really).
Mussels are a firm family fave at The Birdhouse. We eat them as a treat meal…cheap meal…a pescatarian meal (yes, well, one of the birds of The Birdhouse is mostly veggie)…a one pot meal…a quick meal…and a healthy meal.
Today’s dinner is Thai mussels served with fermented chilli sourdough. The ingredients are store cupboard items, supplemented with a few homegrown yummies and of course fab, fresh UK mussels. This time our mussels come from Loch Fyne.
A quick prep of the mussels: check they all close, discard any that don’t. Trim off any ‘beards’ and scrape off any barnacles. Then they are good to go.
Place your pot of choice on the hob. We need very little excuse to use our mega family sized Le Creuset pot (in Volcanic). Chop the broth ingredients: red onion, garlic, fresh green birdseye chilli, lemongrass. Fry in some sunflower oil. Add coriander seeds, lime leaves, cumin, lime zest and coconut milk. Bring to a gentle simmer. Pour in a little fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Tip in the mussels and pop that lid on.
Leave to simmer for 4 minutes. Quickly prepare the bread and chop some basil. Be ready to serve the mussels as soon as they are open.
Plate up the mussels and sprinkle the basil on top. Squeeze a little more lime juice and season with our new condiment crush: World of Zing’s Siriacha chilli sea salt. Settle down for a tasty meal with the one (or more) you love.