Tag Archives: leeks

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


Mussel Soup with added Frutti di Mare all’olio


Seafood selection - ideal for any recipe

Seafood selection – ideal for any recipe

I am fond of seafood – as distinct from fish – which I also like but I do make the distinction. Mussels are delicious – fresh or frozen. Frutti di Mare is a frozen product of various seafood from Lidl. They stock this plus other gorgeous goodies during the festive season.
This is a simple, quick and extremely yummy soup!!

And it’s winter – best time for zuppa!!


150g selected seafood
1 finely chopped onion – I use cibouli
½ leek thinly sliced and chopped
Garlic – I use a garlic cooking paste
2 potatoes cubed
1 cup vegetable stock
½ cup white wine
Lemon juice
Sprig of fresh thyme
Chopped parsley – mine is chopped and frozen in ice cube trays for easy use
Snipped chives – I haven’t frozen these yet. I may well try and see how they work
Salt & Pepper
½ cup double cream
Some cornflour to thicken if necessary
Good handful of torn baby spinach
Some butter to finish

How to make-up
1 tbsp groundnut oil – put in a medium saucepan, add the onion, garlic and leek. Fry gently until soft. Add the cubed potatoes and the stock.

This is the easiest soup really

This is the easiest soup really

Cook gently until the potatoes are nearly soft but not quite. Add the thyme sprig and lemon juice (to taste. Add the wine, parsley and chives. I also add several drops of fish sauce but this is optional.

Start adding salt and pepper and then the seafood. Add the cream and stir to combine all. Taste to ensure the flavours are melding well. When all is hot, add the torn spinach and stir in well. Then add a big knob of butter to finish and give a shine to the soup.

Serve with garlic bread, croutons, snack sized toasted bread or whatever you like. I promise you it is the yummiest soup. Enjoy.

I have a coffee table in my office and often eat there while reading. This was one of those occasions.

I have a coffee table in my office and often eat there while reading. This was one of those occasions.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Because it is that time of the year and the weather is miserable, we find that soups are turning into the best food we can eat on cold late afternoons. I know you can buy any number of prepared, processed soups and soup mixes in a myriad varieties but I am drawn to lentil soups. I like several different recipes and both green and red lentils. Some with meat added, some without. The variations on this theme seem endless!

As I have said before, I often trawl the internet for mix and match type recipes and sure enough, I was able to cobble together a red lentil soup that put paid to a couple of small carrots in the crisper that needed using and a Maris Piper potato from last year’s crop.

The ingredients fetchingly on my bench top

I can’t seem to keep the potatoes cool enough and they are starting to sprout so I am frantically making recipes where I can slice, chop, mash (Maris Pipers don’t mash well) and roast the potatoes before they have to be discarded!

This is an excellent warming soup, the taste of which can be manipulated with the touch of a spice here or there. You will always need cumin and turmeric.

1 cibouli  and ½ a leek make a good combination.
½ med. carrot
1 med. potato
½ red capsicum
1 cup red lentils
½ teasp dried garlic to taste
½ teasp paprika or chilli
½ teasp turmeric
½ teasp cumin
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
200g chopped tomatoes (or use 50gr double concentrate and 2 chopped tomatoes)
500ml chicken & veg. stock. I had some chicken stock made from the bones of our roasted chook!
1 teasp of dried basil
1 bay leaf

Chop the vegetables finely and put to one side.
Heat 1 teasp of oil in a large pot and fry all the spices, but don’t let them burn.
Add vegetables except the potato and lentils; stir to coat vegetables with spices and cook for 5mins. Add enough stock to cover the vegetables, then add the basil and a bay leaf to vegetables.
Bring to the boil and simmer 40mins or until lentils are cooked. More stock or water may be needed if the mixture gets too thick. Stir regularly so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the potato about halfway through the cooking
Just before the finish add a big splash of Nando’s Sundried tomato and basil sauce to taste. Let it all simmer for ages, adding water when it gets too thick.

Soup and the trimmings

Using a hand whisk, whisk the whole lot and return to the pot. Serve with crusty bread, ciabatta or dinner rolls. Some sour cream dollops on top of the soup look good so does some parsley leaves.
It is also a good soup un-whisked, of course, and you won’t have to add more liquid to thin it down.