Category Archives: Main Meat Courses

Chicken Masala Curry Risotto

I have always been one for making my own spice and herb mixes and using a hit and miss approach to overall flavour. There are some tried and true combinations, of course, which we were either taught or have picked up along the way. In the last few years the old herb and spice companies have found a market in our fast and furious world and have come up trumps – some better than others. When I was young, there was Oxo stock cubes and that was about it. Oh – I know there was Bisto and other gravy makers but that was here and I wasn’t – I don’t remember Bisto in Australia.
Oxo has reinvented itself as has Knorr and Schwartz and the innovative improvements are welcome. There are some terrific commercial combinations available at the supermarket as these companies compete for this market. This makes for good news for us the consumers. I still find that I cannot help myself fiddling with the flavours as I cook. I have a vast array of spices in my spice cupboard and a great deal many herbs chopped in season (this is Scotland after all) and frozen in individual containers (thanks again, dear companies, for marketing your wares in individual containers that I can re-use when freezing my herbs).

They have done well!

They have done well!

This recipe is sort of home-grown using a base of the spice mix made by Schwartz. Added spice values are flexible. You have to continually test the dish as it is cooking and adjust the seasonings and spices to suit your particular taste. I do this all the time and wouldn’t make a good wee chef because I don’t replicate exactly from one offering to the next.

I realise that some of you will throw your hands up in horror and scream ‘Not cream and sour cream and oil and finishing butter’. However I have always eaten these foods and have been on the go enough to not have had any problem with weight or cholesterol (when checked at the chemists). So I say go for it and then go for a run, a dig in the garden, a swim or push those biceps.


125gr diced chestnut mushrooms
450gr thickly slivered chicken breast
1 Indian Mild Masala Curry Flavour Shot by Schwartz
1 tbsp hot curry powder – if you like it hot as I do
1½teasp ground paprika
150gr tomato and basil pasta sauce or 400gr chopped tomatoes – a mix of what you have in the pantry
2teasp double tomato concentrate
2 cloves squeezed garlic
1½teasp ground garam masala
½pint or so of milk
¾ cup Aborio or parboiled rice. Basmati isn’t any good for this but other long grains are okay.
Some double cream and some crème fraiche
2teasp chopped parsley
Pepper and salt to season and some butter to finish


Fry the Masala spice first

Fry the Masala spice first

Stir the Flavour Pot and pour into a large (preferably) non-stick frypan. At this point, if you like (love!) onion, use a red onion thinly sliced and cook until softened. Otherwise add the diced mushrooms and cook for 2-3mins. Add the garlic. You may need some more oil. I am using groundnut oil at the moment.

Add the tomato type mixture you have decided on and the milk. Stir and bring to a simmer. Stir in the chicken and cook on high for 3mins then lower heat and

1 lb of sliced chicken breast

1 lb of sliced chicken breast

simmer for 10mins or so. This is a good time to start tasting and adding. Add some tomato concentrate, paprika, garam masala. Start adding pepper and salt to your taste.

Start adding the rice – you will need some water to hand. Here the intensity starts. Stir the rice throughout the dish and add water when it looks as though the rice has soaked up all the liquid. Don’t let it burn. Repeat, adding water, cream and soured cream but don’t let the dish become thin. It should take about 20 mins for the rice to absorb the liquid. If aborio, it will take a bit longer.

At the end add 1teasp butter to finish, ½doz. drops of nam pla (fish sauce) – I am like Nigel Slater and believe that virtually any dish benefits for the addition of nam pla. Add the parsley and enjoy. I serve myself some leeks and either beans or peas in side dishes – for effect and texture variety and I love vegetables anyway!

The Risotto with side dishes


Meatballs, Mushrooms & Sun-dried Tomatoes

I have difficulty finding food dishes that will suit this household. However, beef always works so I decided that meatballs cooked with our own cherry tomatoes and a mixture of commercial lasagne sauce and sun-dried tomato, garlic and basil sauce plus some sliced sun-dried tomatoes and some basil-infused oil sounded really tasty.
Side dish of steamed cauliflower and another of steamed baby Brussels sprouts smothered in a cheese sauce and browned under the grill tickled my taste buds.

12 (350g) minced beef meatballs
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups chopped red and yellow capsicum
125 chestnut mushrooms medium sliced
4-6 sliced sun-dried tomatoes
5 tbsp commercial tomato lasagne/pasta sauce
3 tbsp tomato, garlic and basil sauce
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 pot Knorr paprika flavour pot
Several large dollops soured cream

Ingredients with my cherry-wood pepper grinder

Ingredients with my cherry-wood pepper grinder

I discovered these Knorr Flavour Pots a while ago and find them easy and very useful. A lot of other people must do as well because Knorr has increased the flavour range over the past months. Now Oxo has started its own range of flavours. Great! The more the merrier. I think what I find so good about them is that it doesn’t matter what I have decided to cook and what sort of sauce I am using, there will be a flavour pot to add a soupçon of flavour to the cooking. Anyway, I had some pots of paprika and added one to this tomato type dish. The caraway seeds are usually associated with a goulash but they worked well with this.  Meatball & tomato, mushroom mix

I used a mixture of basil-infused oil and groundnut oil to gently fry the meatballs. Then added all other ingredients except the cream, plus a knob of butter, seasoned and put the lid on. I came in here to write this up and the dish is cooking very gently for about an hour. When finished, I will need to thicken the sauce with some cornflower and add the soured cream.

Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts & Cheese sauce

The other part of this is the vegetables. I steamed enough cauliflower and Brussels sprouts to fill two smallish dishes; sprouts for me and cauliflower for Himself. The small pot of leek and cibouli, I micro waved for me. I like all manner of onion. Otherwise cook the onions first before adding the meatballs. Use however much onion you like.

I mix leek & cibouli with chilli oil. Cauli & sprouts in their own serving dishes

I mix leek & cibouli with chilli oil. Cauli & sprouts in their own serving dishes

Cheese sauce – what can I say. Home-made with flour, butter seasoning and milk with cheese added. Or packet or supermarket wet sauce pots. Doesn’t matter. Do whatever you like. But do use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and if you have a bit of blue cheese, add that in as well. Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables and brown under the grill. Some toasted sesame seeds would be a welcome addition, especially to the sprouts – or breadcrumbs.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

The reason there is no carbohydrate except the thickening is that we are dropping our carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 20g (more or less) a day and increasing our fat (butter and natural fats) intake. This reduces blood sugar levels and drops body weight. All good.

Fragrant Lamb Tagine with spiced couscous

This recipe traditionally uses a lean leg of lamb. Well, I make it for me basically, although these quantities will feed two people.

The Tagine
250g lamb steaks cut into 1.5cm cubes. Leave any fat on the meat.
½cup finely chopped onion – I use cibouli as most of my readers know
1 large clove finely chopped garlic
½ cinnamon stick
¾cup chicken stock – I make this for convenience from Knorr chicken powder
½cup finely chopped coriander
½cup flat-leaf parsley
½cup cooked chickpeas
¾cups diced apricots
1tbsp honey
Juice one lemon – I often use lemon juice packaged by supermarkets
S&P to taste

Cover with foil and into the oven

Cover with foil and into the oven

The Couscous
¾cup dried couscous
½cup vegetable stock – again made from Knorr Vegetable stock cubes. I used a third of a cube for the quantity of stock I needed.
Respectable knob of butter
4-5 dried apricots chopped finely
½tsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp chopped parsley
Handful toasted almond slivers – toast carefully in a dry pan turning all the time until fragrant. Don’t burn them!

Seal the lamb in hot oil to get even colour. Take out of the pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft.
Add the cinnamon stick and stock and bring to the boil. Add half the herbs and the reserved lamb pieces plus any juices.
Continue to cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half, and then add chickpeas, apricots and honey. Use a little cornflower mixed with cold water to thicken the gravy.
Transfer the Tagine to a deep sided baking dish, cover with foil and place into the oven at 150°C/300F oven for 40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes, then every 10 minutes until the lamb is tender.
Remove from the oven; add the rest of the herbs and lemon juice. Season well with ground black pepper and salt. Add more cornflour thickening if necessary and return to oven for 10 minutes.

For the couscous, mix all of the dry ingredients apart from the almonds together in a large mixing bowl and season well
Bring vegetable stock and butter to the boil and pour over the dry couscous mix and stir well
Cover the dish and allow to soak for five minutes
To serve, fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the toasted almonds and chopped parsley
Serve a generous pile of the couscous with the Tagine sprinkle with more toasted almonds and chopped coriander

A truly delicious meal

A truly delicious meal

This is very tasty. Couscous sets off a tagine anytime.

Green Chicken Curry & Vegetables

Sounds like a plain Jane name of a recipe but this was gorgeous! I thought that I wouldn’t bother with photographs because I was making a known recipe. But, as everyone knows, kitchens provide sometimes the same and sometimes similar ingredients and that is what happened to this recipe. So I should have taken photos. Anyway I claim it as mine based on a red curry recipe from The Practical Encyclopaedia of Asian Cooking.

The finished dish - go my tastebuds

The finished dish – go my taste buds!

Boned, un-skinned chicken thighs medium sliced – enough for however many you intend to feed. I used 3 thighs to feed one and had some left over for tomorrow (yum, flavours develop)
1 leek cut into ½cm rounds, green part included
¼pkt of frozen mixed vegetable stir-fry (mine was from Asda and included sprouts). I mean you can construct your own from whatever Asian veg you have in your crisper. I didn’t have any
Coconut cream or reconstituted coconut powder – about 1 cup
Nam pla (fish sauce) – I used about ½tsp – maybe a bit more
Dill – I have dried but fresh would be better. Just sprinkle whatever amount looks good

Green Curry paste
1 tsp coriander powder
½tsp cumin powder
(you can use seeds for these two ingredients and grind them if preferred)
1 green chilli – as hot as you prefer, deseeded and chopped finely
1 garlic clove chopped or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chopped galangal or 1 tsp ginger powder
1 lemon grass stalk sliced then chopped finely – not the green stem
2 kaffir lime leaves chopped finely – I had dried ones
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch ground cinnamon
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp salt – I use a mix of potassium and sodium chlorides

Mix all curry ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle some oil – 2tsp olive oil into the mix. You could process the mix before adding the oil but I quite enjoy crunchy.

Use a good (I have a favourite) wok and heat some oil. Add the chicken and fry gently until coloured. Add the leek and stir more. Cover and let simmer for 5 mins.

Add the curry mix, coconut and nam pla. Stir well. More heat? – I used some bottled green chillies – I had to wash the vinegar out first. I think I used a tsp.

Continue cooking for a further 5mins then add the stir-fry veg. Cook a further 5mins. Sprinkle the dill and stir. I had to thicken the sauce with some cornflour. You may not need to.

Serve with plain steamed basmati rice and/or Peshwari Naan bread. My fella bought me an electric rice cooker – we bought a house with an induction hob – not very good for my style of cooking.

It’s a Crockpot rice cooker and is brilliant.


Stir-Fried Pork and Leeks

This is the classical way to stir fry pork or any other meat really. Pork is most commonly consumed in Singapore – or was. Pigs were easily kept on small holdings and ate everything so kept the place clean. Chickens were much the same.

Esther Chan's estimable book of instructions

Esther Chan’s estimable book of instructions

When we lived in Singapore, my father had a cook book that had been published for the white colonial population. The author was one Esther Chan and the book was called Chinese Cookery Secrets. Published 1952.

Eventually I ended up with the book on my bookshelf and I have cooked many meals according to Esther’s dictates between its covers. Which means the book is stained and the cover has disengaged itself. Makes an authentic photo though.

The food that we in the West are used to considering as Chinese food is actually not much like traditional Chinese food at all. The Chinese, after assessing their potential clientele in the West, proceeded to cook food that was acceptable to the western palate.

I was googling ‘leek and pork’ to surf through some recipes and came across a recipe that could nearly have been lifted from Esther Chan’s culinary collection. It was, however a pared down version and I have built it back up again and would probably receive a nod from Esther.
Preparing meat for stir frying and then eating with chopsticks means that the meat must be thinly sliced across the grain and marinated for up to an hour. The marinade is always geared to produce a chemical reaction with the meat by starting an enzyme action to break down the muscle fibres. The base ingredients of the marinade are usually the same with added variations depending on the type of meat and what will be accompanying it on the table.

This recipe uses leeks because that’s what I had in the fridge. There is usually only one vegetable in these sorts of dishes and you can use celery, bamboo shoots, onions, mushrooms, French beans or pea sprouts. That is taken straight from Esther’s book!

So, let’s cook! This is enough for one person. Two if you aren’t starving. And in any case, rice is a good filler. Wheat is first, maize is second and rice is third in the carbohydrate stakes worldwide, I believe. Stats vary a little. Use plain steamed rice as an accompaniment or whatever you fancy. This particular meal will be accompanied by macaroni cheese because that’s what WW would like tonight.


1 boneless pork chop, just frozen (to make slicing easy) and sliced into 2” by small slivered strips. This makes the meat brown quickly before losing moisture.
½tsp sesame oil
1 egg, beaten. I agree with Esther that the egg makes a big difference to the cooking texture. The recipe I came across today neglected this.
1tbsp dark soy and 1tbsp Kikkoman soy sauces
½tbsp cornflour
½tsp sugar
1tbsp rice wine or sherry. A piquancy that is rewarding at the end. Again, today’s googled recipe didn’t mention this.
1 clove garlic minced
2tbsp oil for cooking. I used Chinese cooking oil that has sesame oil included. Very good.
1 leek white and soft green parts sliced thinly on the diagonal (to increase the surface area so that the leeks become fragrant quickly and wilt releasing moisture into the dish)

How to:

Give the marinade an hour if you have the time

Give the marinade an hour if you have the time

Combine the pork strips, sesame oil, soy sauces, cornflower, egg, sugar, garlic and wine in a bowl and let stand for an hour if you have the time. I added a chopped sage leaf from the garden as well. 20 mins is the least amount of time needed to marinate.


Quick frying is the key

Quick frying is the key

Fry the leek slices quickly in the heated wok with 1tbsp oil for about 1 minute. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Heat the wok again and add remaining oil and coat the bottom and sides of the wok. Add the pork mixture and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the reserved leeks and cook, constantly tossing, for about a minute or until just tender. The dish I have served the food in is a dish from the 1940s, as is the rattan place setting and the chopsticks I have had since 1967. Makes me smile.

Tasty, easily consumed with a smile

Tasty, easily consumed with a smile

Serve with plain steamed rice or whatever you fancy. Just keep the different ingredients separate from each other so as to fully appreciate the different flavours.

Spring Lamb with Sweet Potato

There’s nothing quite like the taste of lamb. And it is finally spring, so why not! I had bought some sweet potato for roasting a few nights back and had one left over. There were some mushrooms and a set of different coloured sweet peppers (capsicum).

With no further ado let’s cook:

I used:

400g lamb steaks cubed (you can trim them of fat if you prefer – I don’t prefer)
1 medium sized orange sweet potato cubed
3 or more chestnut mushrooms cut into small cubes
10 cherry tomatoes halved
½ a red capsicum sliced thickly
½cup of Passata
1 lamb cube dissolved in ¼litre boiling water
A very good pinch of salt and dried thyme. Sometime ago when in the throes of wandering through kitchen stores, I found a salt, pepper and thyme mixture which I never use much of but it is a flavoursome addition to stews etc.
A decent sprinkle of powdered red pepper or chilli
Garlic and ginger in the quantities you like
Cornflour and water to thicken the juices

I decided to put this on rice and make a pea puree to go with it. I already have a Kenwood blitzer but last week in Aldi I came across a wee blitzer and bought it very spur of the moment. So that is what I will use to puree the peas.

The Puree:
250g frozen peas cooked for 2 minutes or so
1 tbsp chopped mint – when I had the raised vege beds made I had to make a home for some of the herbs – here they are. The rest are in the front garden.

They survived the transplant

They survived the transplant

1½ tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and a little balsamic vinegar if so inclined

How to do it:

Heat 1½tbsp olive oil and brown the lamb cubes. Tip into a lidded casserole and then fry the cubed sweet potato in another 1tbsp olive oil until just starting to soften – about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Tip the potato into the casserole and add the passata and salt/thyme mixture. Stir well.

Now fry the mushrooms, garlic and ginger in a little oil, add the lamb stock and tip into the casserole.

I put the lid on after this.

I put the lid on after this.

Add the capsicum and halved tomatoes to the casserole.

Taste. It may need some more pepper. I ground some black pepper into it at this stage.

Put the lid on and let the whole mixture stew on a small heat for about ¾ hour.

In the meantime make the pea puree.

The baby blitzer ready to puree the peas

The baby blitzer ready to puree the peas

Boil the peas and drain them. Blitz them with the other ingredients and return to a saucepan to reheat when you are ready to serve.

I served with steamed white rice. The wee blitzer was perfect!

Yummy. Tucked right in!

Yummy. Tucked right in!


Prawns and Chicken on Fish Noodles

I have said before that I love prawns and so does the Engineer. We also like chicken and I had some cooked and sliced chicken breast that wanted to be used. The cooked prawns I had, some king and some smaller school prawns that would do nicely together on noodles.

When we go to Dundee for any reason, I always sidle into the Chinese store and check out what I need and what’s available and there is always lots available. Next time we go, I need a 2 litre bottle of Kikkoman light (table) soy. This recipe will use dark soy (Lee Kum Kee). Some time ago at this wonderful Chinese supermarket, I bought a large plastic container of 36 individually parcelled serves of dried fish flavoured noodles that have lasted me for quite some time. They are great in sweet and sour soups; egg and spring onion soups with lettuce.

I find it hard to cook without using capsicum and the colour of the fruit depends on the sort of dish I am making. I decided to use the last of my frozen chilli slices for colour and flavour.

Some fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce will be a necessity. I have these.

A visual on the ingredients

A visual on the ingredients

I will make a concoction of spring onion and sliced mushroom to add separately to this dish. It’s beginning to sound quite yummy.

So here is the ingredient list:

250gr sliced cooked chicken breast
250gr peeled cooked prawns – king or school or a mixture
1½tbsp vegetable oil
1 green chilli finely sliced – mine from the freezer already prepared
1 garlic clove finely chopped
½” ginger finely sliced
½ red capsicum sliced finely
1½tbsp Thai fish sauce
1tbsp dark soy sauce or at least 2tbsp Kikkoman table soy sauce
2 or maybe more (depends on taste) sweet chilli sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1tbsp coriander fresh chopped or dried reconstituted and a sprinkle of dried dill reconstituted. I pour boiling water over both herbs and let them soften. Fresh is better but I do live in Scotland.
As much noodles as you want – I used 2 individual parcels of dried noodles
2 or more diagonally sliced spring onions and some sliced closed cap white mushrooms.

The foody bits for this dish

The foody bits for this dish

How to do this:

I put my onions and mushrooms into a small dish with P&S and some butter and microwaved for 1 maybe 1½min on high. That’s for me. The Engineer doesn’t do onions.

Boil some water and submerge the noodles. Leave them to soften and absorb the water, about 3 – 4 mins. Drain and refresh with cold water.

Heat the oil in your very favourite frying pan or wok, add the garlic, ginger, chilli and capsicum. Cook over a fairly high heat for 3 mins.

Add chicken, prawns, all the sauces and noodles. Stir briskly until all is heated and then add the lime juice. Drain the herbs and add to the dish.
Serve in bowls and, for me, add the onion compote.

Here it is in a gorgeous bowl I found. Mushroom and spring onion compote on top.

Here it is in a gorgeous bowl I found. Mushroom and spring onion compote on top.