Shepherd’s Pie with an Indian Twist #spicysheperdspie #indianpie

This is a spiced up version of an Irish lamb mince Shepherd’s Pie that will warm you up and tingle your tatstebuds.

The addition of spiced fried onions to the mash and curry leaves and spices to the mince mixture adds a touch of India that is a great twist to a winter comfort food staple.

I also added a layer of raw baby spinach that kept its texture and is a great way to make sure your green quotient box is ticked, especially with a nice green salad on the side as well. In fact, with leek, carrots, ginger and garlic, onions, potato, spinach and tomato the nutrition value of this dish cannot be denied!!

This quantity serves 2 so use a small-medium size casserole dish

Ingredients

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1/2 cup diced leek
  • 3 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger and 1 red chilli ground to paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of tomato passata
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 Handfuls of curry leaves
  • 2 cups of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small piece of cinnamon bark or quill
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 egg beaten for brushing top of mash
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Extra curry leaves and coriander for garnish
  • Salt

Method:

1. Prepare vegetables for mince mixture. Chop leeks, onions and carrots. Make ginger, garlic and chilli paste.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy based pot, add cumin seeds to flavour the oil, then add leek, onions and carrot and sweat gently until softened. Add ginger, chilli and garlic paste and mix through.

Soften vegetables the add spices and mince.

3. Add turmeric, cummin and chilli powders to mixture and mix through, then add mince, and stir to break up mince and brown it before adding tomato passata, 1 handful of curry leaves and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes or so until mince is cooked and sauce is reduced.

4. While mince is cooking, peel and cut up potatoes into pieces. Place in a pot of boiling water with salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Boil potatoes until tender, strain and then mash them with a dollop of butter and 1 tablespoon of milk, taste to see if additional salt required and set aside.

5. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

6. Slice (not dice) additional onion. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small pan, add cinammon stick, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, other handful of curry leaves, then add onions and fry gently until onions are brown and starting to caramelise.

7. Add half the browned onion mixture the mash and mix through, reserve the other half.

8. Place the mince mixture in a casserole dish, top with spinach leaves, mash.

9. Using a fork, score the top of the mash, then brush with the egg. I add a red chilli to the top for decoration.

10. place in hot oven for 20 minutes until top starts crisping, then sprinkle rest of onions on top and put back into the oven for a further 10 minutes.

11. Garnish with curry leaves and coriander. Serve with a crisp green salad.

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Nur Marvellous Moroccan Cooking Class #fes #nurrestaurant

So glad we made it to Morocco last year for a wonderful week in the Médina of Fes, and then visiting Rabat and Casablanca. It might be a while until we return now, so the closest we’ll come will be trying out some of the recipes we learnt at Nur Restaurant Cooking school with celebrity chef Najat Kaanache.

Najat was trained in Europe at restaurants like El Bulli and is quite a character, passionate about her restaurant and teaching others. https://najatkaanache.com

Najat welcomes us into the kitchen when we arrived at the restaurant for our 4 hour cooking marathon and explained the courses we would be cooking. She then handed over to her Assistant Chef to guide us through the actual hands-on experience as she had to zip to support a young friend who was in the selections for the Moroccan Soccer team!

Assistant Chef at Nur …our teacher for the day
The menu and courses we cooked!

We began by making a Moroccan spice paste which would be the base for a number of the dishes and salads. Then quickly moved onto making the Mafrouk or Moroccan flatbread from scratch.

Najat shows us the basics of making Mafrouk

We prepared the vegetables for 7 vegetable couscous and learnt how to “massage” and make couscous, grilled eggplants and peppers over the open gas flame, made a fish tagine, cummin carrots .

It was a busy few hours even with two helpers. We were the only people booked in as we had chosen a private class. This was excellent as we got to ask questions and get really hands-on, but then we had to eat it all ourselves as well!

Rubbing the couscous
Grilling peppers over the gas 🔥 flame!

Fish tagine with lemons, red capsicum and tomatoes with spice paste
Our chicken and 7 veg couscous

It was a great experience and the food tasted very authentic even though we had cooked it! The recipes were also all easy to recreate at home which we will now be doing to relive our memories as international travel seems like a thing of the past or a long way into the future right now.

Our fabulous Moroccan feast!

Pick-up #Joe’sTable for 10/10 Tasty #Thai at home

We are trying out our favourite restaurants at home during the isolation period and are discovering that the best know how to transform their dishes for takeaway better than others. One of these is the highly acclaimed Thai restaurant Joe’s Table in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Of course, Asian food is really perfect for take-away but Joe’s food, cooked by the man himself with flair and skill, is better than most!

Thai Fishcakes with crispy shallot, peanut and sweet chilli sauce

In my books, Joe Kitsana’s Asian-fusion classics get 10/10 for travel worthiness and eating readiness! Joe is still running his one-man show, with daily specials and his full dinner menu available, with a 10% discount for pick-up.

Orders can be placed by phone or Joe’s table from noon until 8 PM, with pick up beginning at 5 PM. Dinner menu can be viewed www.Facebook.com/ joestablesydney

While we missed the bizzy-buzzy atmosphere of eating-in at Joe’s Table, enjoying the taste sensations at home made for a delicious dinner at home.

Melt-in-the-mouth caramelised beef rib with pickled mustard greens, chilli and crispy shallots.

Last night we enjoyed Joe’s divine fishcakes smothered in the signature sweet chilli sauce with peanut and coriander topping; melt-in-the-mouth, slow-cooked beef rib with the lingering flavours of masterstock and star anise accompanied by flash-stir-fried crisp Asian greens with ginger and mushrooms.

#Homestyle #Pork #Vindaloo

This is what we’re having for dinner tonight! It’s not as fiery as it sounds and is downright delicious.

The vinegar tenderises the pork and it cooks to a beautiful texture without drying up. It”s not one of my family recipes but it is a favourite now in our home.

Here’s the link to my original post from 3 years ago when I had a lot fewer than 3,395 followers. Hope you try and enjoy!

https://freespiritfood.net/2017/06/11/pork-vindaloo-with-dried-and-fresh-chillies/

#Marinated Prawns and #Mango Salad

A delicious combination of prawns marinated in fish sauce, garlic and chilli then flash fried in butter and olive oil….inspired by Chef Luke Nguyen but without the shells for easy eating.

Served with a tangy mango salad with butter lettuce, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and coriander with a lime juice and olive oil dressing.

#Vietnamese #cabbage roll #soup with fish balls

I learnt how to make this soup at the fabulous cooking class in Hoi An Mrs Vy’s Cooking Class (my review).

This is my version which features a prawn and carrot filling, fish balls and puffed tofu.

It is a light but filling meal and very healthy.

Prep time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 10-12 green prawns shelled, I used frozen prawns
  • 1 carrot (3/4 grated and the rest cut into thin discs)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 1/4 bunch of coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fish suace
  • 1/2 savoy cabbage
  • 1/2 bunch of spring onions
  • 10 Pre-made small vietnamese fish balls – available in most Asian supermarkets.
  • fried tofu puffs
  • 2 litres chicken stock (homemade if you have)

Method:

1. Cut the core of the cabbage out being careful not to break leaves.

2. Carefully “peel” the cabbage leaves off one by one keeping them as intact as possible. Trim the leaves, removing the tough stalk and so the leaves are of as equal size as you can. Save the trimmings for your broth.

3. Bring a pot of water to boil and then submerge the cabbage leaves in the water, bringing the water off the boil so the leaves gently simmer until soft but still intact. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and douse the leaves in iced water, then allow to drain.

4. Cut the spring onions just above the white part, and then put the left over green stalks intact into the cabbage boiling water until they soften. Drain and allow to cool.

5. Chop up the prawns finely.

6. Mash up the garlic, white part of the lemongrass (about 2 teaspoons worth), chillies and some of the coriander leaves in a mortar and pestle to a fine paste. I add a bit of salt to help this process. You can whizz in a small blender if you like.

7. Finely grate 3/4 of the carrot. Thinly slice the leftover white part of the spring onions.

8. in a bowl mix the prawns, garlic chilli paste and 1 tbspoons of fish sauce — mix vigorously – I use gloves – to mush together the prawns and the paste, then add sliced spring onions, grated carrot judging the quantity to have about 2/3 carrot to prawn in the mixture.

9. Add the leftover lemongrass, coriander stalks, leftover grated carrot, cabbage trimmings to the chicken stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes while you make the cabbage rolls. This adds sweetness and nutrients from your leftover vegees into the stock.

10. Dollop a teaspoon or two of prawn mixture on a cabbage leaf and , bring in the edges first, then roll to close into a secure neat parcel using the green spring onion stalks to tie them together.

11. Strain the chicken stock and put back into the pot, bring to a simmer again, add the other tablespoon of fish sauce, then add carrot discs and cabbage rolls, simmer for 5 minutes, then add fish balls, simmer for another 5-8 minutes and then finally add tofu puffs, additional coriander leaves to garnish, Taste the broth to see if additional salt is needed.

12. Serve in soup bowls and add fresh chopped chilli to spice it up if you like.