Oven-bake chicken in a rich tomato sauce and turmeric with black olives and chickpeas
For 1: takes 10/15 minutes to prepare and 1 hour to cook. You may have your own tomato sauce, if not, a quick one I use follows.
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
1 banana-shaped shallot, chopped
Clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 chicken breast or wing
Cooked chickpeas x 100g, drained
A few sprigs of thyme
Tomato sauce, not ketchup (homemade or bought) x 1 cup
Turmeric x ½ tsp.
6/8 Pitted black olives
A few basil leaves for finishing, torn
I did this for myself the other night, just multiply the quantities for more.
Pre heat an oven to 180°fan/200°C. Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped shallot and stir around for a few minutes until the shallot softens, add the garlic and turmeric and stir for another minute or two. Place the chicken in the pan and turn around in the oil until well browned, about ten minutes. Turn the heat down a little to stop the oil spitting. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the chicken has browned all over place it together with the pan juices in an oven-proof pot with a lid, add the tomato sauce and olives and stir it all around. Put the lid on and into the pre-heated oven for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and place on a heat resistant surface, add the chickpeas and picked thyme, check the seasoning, turn the oven down to 160, pit the lid back on and place back in the oven for another thirty minutes. By then it will be well cooked, the chicken soft, and the sauce having a glossy, thick consistency. Take out of the oven, sprinkle the torn basil on top, and enjoy. Good with a glass or two of a robust red wine or a real ale.
Quick tomato sauce
Sauté an onion and a clove of garlic in oil until soft, add a can of chopped plum tomatoes, with all the juice, and bring to the boil. Turn down to a low simmer, season, add 6 to 8 torn basil leaves and let it blip away for about 20/30 minutes, breaking down the tomatoes until soft and the sauce sticky. It’s important not to have the heat too high as the sauce will evaporate and stick to the pan. When the time is up, the sauce is ready. There’ll be more than enough for the above chicken dish, but it’ll keep for two to three days in the fridge or can be frozen. Use as a pasta dish, a pizza topping, and a base for bruschetta.
Quick lemon and ginger salmon with sautéed kale and smashed potatoes
20/30 minutes to prepare and cook.
Ingredients for two
2 Salmon filets about 150g each
5/6 spring onions, finely chopped
2-3cms fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped, or ½ tsp ground ginger
3 to 4 shakes of soy sauce
Fresh lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Olive oil – drizzle
New potatoes – 250-300g
Kale – 150g, washed and slightly chopped.
Pre heat an oven to 200°C, 180 fan. Put the potatoes on to boil for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place a sheet of kitchen foil, big enough to wrap up the two salmon filets, flat in an ovenproof dish that will take both filets next to each other. Put the filets on the sheet of opened foil. Add the spring onions, ginger, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt. Add a good drizzle of olive. Toss it all around so each piece of salmon is equally covered with the other ingredients, returning the salmon to be side by side in the dish. Seal up the foil, crunching it closed at the top and making sure it’s completely airtight. Pop the dish in the oven for 12 minutes or if you prefer the salmon a bit crispier, add another 3 minutes. When the salmon has seven minutes left to cook, start sautéing the kale in a wok or wide frying pan. Toss it around for about 5 minutes until it’s wilted to about half its original size. Turn the heat to low just to keep the kale warm. If the potatoes are ready, strain, add a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of black pepper and a pinch of salt and lightly smash the potatoes with a masher or the back of a wooden spoon just to break them up a little. Share the smashed potatoes to 2 plates, lay a portion of the kale on top. By now the salmon should be cooked. Place a filet on top of the potatoes and kale and pour over the juices from the oven dish. If you want extra vegetables, try peas and broad beans. Serve.
Good with mayonnaise or a salsa sauce.
Saag aloo shepherd’s pie
‘I could tell before I ate it from the smell, from the bubbling filling and crispy top, that this was going to be everything I had wanted it to be.’ Anna Jones, The Guardian.
For the rajma masala base
ghee or coconut oil 2 tbsp
onion 1, peeled and finely chopped
garlic 4 cloves, chopped
ginger a small thumb-sized piece, peeled and finely chopped
green chilli 1, finely chopped
ground turmeric ½ tsp
chilli powder ½ tsp
garam masala 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
pinto or borlotti beans 2 x 400g tins
tomatoes 1 x 400g tin
For the saag aloo top
small new or red-skin potatoes 1kg, large ones cut in half
cauliflower 500g, broken into small florets, stalk roughly chopped
cumin seeds 1 tsp
ground turmeric 1 tsp
baby spinach 200g, washed
melted ghee or coconut oil 50g
Add 1 tablespoon of the ghee or coconut oil to a large pan, add the onion and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat until soft and sweet. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the spices to the pan and stir for a couple of minutes until all smells fragrant. Next, add the tinned beans and their liquid, the tomatoes and 400ml (a tin’s worth) of water.
Simmer for 25 minutes until the tomatoes are broken down and you have a thick, flavoursome gravy.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6. Put the potatoes into a large pan (leaving enough space to add the cauliflower later). Cover with boiling water, add half a tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked, then add the cauliflower for the last 6 minutes. Drain well.
Put the empty pan back on the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil and the cumin and turmeric, cook for a minute or so, then add 100ml water, the potatoes and cauliflower and half the spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach and use the back of a spoon to crush the potatoes a little.
The rajma masala should be thickened by now. Stir in the other half of the spinach then spoon into a baking dish. Top with the potato, cauliflower and spinach mixture, drizzle with the melted ghee or oil and put into the oven for 30-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is brown and crunchy in places. Anna Jones, The Guardian.
Valentine’s green brunch eggs
For extra deliciousness, heat 30g butter in a small pan, season with half a teaspoon of chilli flakes (I like chipotle) and pour over the eggs just before serving.
Prep 10 min
Cook 35 min
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
½ green chilli, finely chopped
1 bunch coriander, leaves and stalks separated
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
450g spinach, washed
Juice of 1 lime
6 heaped tbsp Greek yoghurt
Heat a large, ovenproof frying pan over a medium-low heat and toast the cumin seeds until fragrant. Add the oil, onion, garlic, chilli and finely chopped coriander stems, season with salt, pepper and the ground coriander, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft.
Stir the spinach and a tablespoon of water into the onion mix and cook until the spinach has wilted. Tip everything into a blender, add the coriander leaves (keep a few back to dress the plate), squeeze in the lime juice and blitz to a puree.
Heat the grill. Pour the puree back into the frying pan, turn the heat to low and stir in the yoghurt. Taste and adjust the seasoning and, once warmed through, make four small wells in the puree and crack in the eggs. Put under the grill for four to six minutes, until the whites are just cooked, then decorate with crumbled feta and the remaining coriander, and serve with hot flatbreads.
And for the rest of the week …
Make these eggs your own: depending on my mood, I add caraway or coriander seeds, sumac or onion seeds. And in the spring, mix some sorrel into the spinach for a lemony twist.
By courtesy, Thomasina Miers, The Guardian.
This is my adaption of an original Nigel Slater recipe. He uses potatoes, I used celeriac and a parsnip last night as I found them left over in the fridge. They gave it a nutty taste which went well with the salmon. It’s quick and easy.
Ingredients for two
2 x salmon fillets
Squeeze of lemon
Kale x 100g
Half a celeriac
2 x parsnips
Turn the oven onto 180° Fan. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Peel the celeriac and parsnips and place them in the saucepan when the water’s boiling and leave to cook. Place the fillets of salmon on a piece of foil, big enough to make an envelope, in an ovenproof dish. Add a squeeze of lemon, a dribble of oil and seasoning. Turn the salmon over and repeat. Now close the envelope, making it airtight, and place in the oven for ten minutes. After two or three minutes, warm a frying pan or wok, add a little oil, and when the oil is hot start stir-frying the kale. When after a few minutes it’s wilted down to about half the original amount, turn the pan down to low to keep the kale warm, and check on the celeriac and parsnips. They should be nearly soft and the salmon close to being cooked. When ready, drain the parsnips and celeriac, add the butter and some ground pepper, mash, and leave aside. Take the salmon out of the oven, remove the skin and discard. Using a fork, flake the salmon into small chunks. Fold the salmon and the kale into the mashed vegetables and serve. Add pepper and salt by choice. Sometimes I put a blob of mayonnaise on the top.
The trick is to get the salmon and vegetables ready for the same time – for which you’ll have to judge the timings depending on your appliance.
Enjoy. I have a glass of red wine with it, but white’s fine.
Try this meat free, ‘proper chilli’ recipe from Anna Jones for a warming and comforting supper. We have it often, and it’s just as good as a meat one and very hearty on a cold evening. It’s dead easy to make. Basically, after you’ve softened the onions, garlic and ginger for about ten minutes, you chuck everything else in and leave to simmer for half an hour. It’s delicious and one of our favourites. Adding cocoa powder gives it strength and an enriching flavour. To save time, use puy lentils straight from the pack instead of green lentils. You can substitute minced beef for the lentils if you want.
‘The all-pleasing chilli, Anna Jones
This is based on one of my most-cooked recipes, but made a little simpler and easier on the wallet. Mix and match the grains as you like – this is a great way to use up those odds and ends left at the bottom of a jar, but steer clear of couscous, as it cooks too quickly. The amount of stock needed will depend on the type of grain you use, so if you do experiment with different grains, make sure you watch the liquid levels and top up, if needed. This makes a vatful, so you’ll need your biggest pot; halve the quantities if you want a more manageable panful.
Olive or rapeseed oil, for frying
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
A thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped, or 1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin (ground or bashed seeds)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
3 × 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
300g green lentils, soaked or use puy lentils straight from the packet
200g bulgur wheat, pearl barley or brown rice
1 tbsp cocoa powder
400g tin of small beans (haricot, black or black-eyed), or 300g home-cooked
1–2 litres vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
1 Put your biggest pot over a medium heat. Add a splash of olive or rapeseed oil and cook the onion, garlic and ginger for 10 minutes, or until soft.
2 Add the chilli powder, cumin and smoked paprika. Stir around in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Add all the other ingredients, stirring as you go – but start with 1 litre of the stock and keep the rest on hand to add as needed if the chilli starts to look a bit dry. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30–35 minutes, until the lentils and grains are cooked and the chilli is deep and flavoursome.
3 Season to taste, then serve.
Eight ways to eat your chilli
1 Tortillas or wraps (flour or corn), yoghurt, with chilli and thyme oil.
2 Spooned over corn tortilla chips, topped with a grating of good cheese and melted in the oven with some guacamole and salsa for dipping.
3 Sandwiched between two slices of fresh bread with a grating of cheese, a hit of sriracha and shredded lettuce.
4 In a couple of crispy taco shells with all the trimmings.
5 Folded into a wrap with some brown rice, chopped tomatoes and a little sour cream, burrito style.
6 In a toasted cheese sandwich.
7 With rice, yoghurt and chutney.
8 With sauteed greens and a quick tomato salsa.’
By courtesy, Anna Jones and The Guardian.
My recent publications
Life in four stories
All proceeds go to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) to help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19.
Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.
By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work.
My latest novel, Otto and Frankie, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.
Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit.