Saturday, 14 April 2018

Lunch for 18!

Me prepping the lunch for 18 in my favourite apron!
One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it gives you the opportunity to come into contact with some amazingly talented people, one such person is Helen Dyne, a glass artist with an extraordinary talent.  I first spotted some of Helen’s creations on facebook, followed her page, got talking and I am very happy to now call her my friend. 

For the last couple of years Helen has held glass workshops at her home and has asked me to cater for the lunch which I jumped at the chance at doing.  The first time it was very much a learning curve, it is never quite the same cooking in a strange kitchen and never assume that people will have the same equipment as you!  I still can’t believe you didn’t have a microwave Helen!  

Second time around I was more prepared despite the fact I was to be cooking for 18, two of whom were vegetarians.  Given the numbers I thought the best option was to make up two curries, a chicken tikka masala and a chickpea and spinach curry - recipes below.

As a man of leisure, it gave me the opportunity to make both curries the day before which certainly saved any stresses on the day.  I also made up a batch of cucumber raita and decided to make my tomato, onion and coriander chutney on the day as it doesn’t really keep too well overnight and looses its vibrant colour.

I have to say everything went to plan, literally other than making up the tomato chutney I only had to heat up the curries and make some rice to go with it, couldn’t be simpler. 

  Luckily Helen has a rather large kitchen with a central aisle from which I was able to plate up comfortably.  Thankfully I had made a large batch of the vegetarian option as despite the fact one of the vegetarian guests not turning up, the whole lot was hungrily devoured along with the chicken option, they both seemed to be a resounding hit along with the dips and poppadum’s.

Many thanks once again Helen for having the trust in me to pull this off, I loved it.  It was great to see you and the rest of the gang and hopefully I will get to do it again some time. 

Feedback from the day:

 "Spending the day with dear friends Helen Dyne and Chris, on her fabulous glass making day, being fed by the very talented food guru Mark Popkiewicz just doesn’t get much better ......... some beautiful pieces of work completed and straight into the kilns for the kiln fairies to do their job xxx"

"Thanks Helen for a great day, loved it; really enjoyed making my angel, delicious lunch and great to catch up. I'd like a place on the next one please"

I definitely suggest that you check out Helens facebook page, you will be amazed at what she can do with glass, a genuine real talent.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Tikka Masala
  • 4 skinless, chicken breasts
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • a thumb sized piece of fresh root ginger
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander
  • vegetable oil
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/2 a 283g jar of pataks tikka masala curry paste
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 * 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1 * 400ml tin of coconut milk

Slice the chicken breasts lengthways into 2cm thick strips.

Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Finely slice the chilli. Peel and finely slice the ginger. Pick the coriander leaves and put to one side, then finely chop the stalks.

Put a large casserole type pan on a medium to high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil and the butter.

Add the onions, chilli, ginger and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes until softened and golden.

Add the curry paste and the chicken strips. Stir well to coat everything with the paste and season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes and the coconut milk. Fill one fo the empty cans with water, pour into the pan and stir again.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.

Check the curry regularly to make sure it's not drying out and more water if necessary.

When the meat is tender and cooked taste and season if necessary.  This recipe should feed 6 comfortably.  

Chickpea & Spinach Curry

  • 1 tblsp ghee or sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tsps. curry powder
  • 2 tsps. garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tin (380g) chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tin (390g) chopped tomatoes
  • 4 medium sized (300g) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 400 - 500ml vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g fresh spinach

Heat the ghee/oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened.
Add all the spices and cook for a further 1 minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes, salt and about half of the vegetable stock. Stir well and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked adding more stock as needed.
Add the spinach and cook for a further couple of minutes or until the spinach has wilted.

Recipe courtesy of

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Parmesan & lemon zest breaded chicken lettuce wraps

Parmesan & lemon zest breaded chicken lettuce wraps
  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into strips (you should get about 12)
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 2 tbs grated Parmesan
  • Handful of flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • Small dish of golden breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 pepper finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions cut into thin ribbons
  • Romain lettuce
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Couple handfuls of grated cheese
  • Tablespoon of diced jalapeño pepper
  • Rapeseed oil
Mix the lemon zest and grated parmesan into the bowl of breadcrumbs.  Coat each chicken strip in the flour, shake off the excess and then dip into the beaten egg mix and then lastly the bowl of breadcrumbs, ensuring all of the chicken is coated.

Heat enough oil in a large frying pan to shallow fry the chicken.  Cook for around 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are nice and crispy and the chicken is cooked through.  Separate the lettuce leaves and cut off the stem part at the end.  Sprinkle some of the grated cheese onto each of the leaves and top with two pieces of chicken (this will give you 6 wraps).  Drizzle some salsa over the top of the chicken and then place some of the sliced pepper and spring onion onto each wrap along with some of the diced jalapeño pepper.  Lastly dollop some guacamole on top, pick up and get stuck in!

Usually fajitas are a Saturday night given in our household, however hubs is watching the carbs hence the switch to lettuce leaves which I have to say made this dish even more tasty.  I opted for Romain lettuce as they are bigger than baby gems and obviously you need to pack that bad boy with the fajita goodness!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Baked eggs and bacon

Baked eggs and bacon
  • 4 portobello mushrooms (remove the stalks)
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 slices bacon
  • Tomato (halved)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oregano

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Rub the mushrooms with a little olive oil and add a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of salt to the inner part of the mushroom and a sprinkle of oregano onto each tomato.  Crack an egg into each of the mushrooms and place onto a lined baking tray along with the bacon and tomato and cook for around 20 minutes or until the bacon is cooked by which time the eggs will have baked through.  Plate up and enjoy.

This was a quick and easy brunch, no messing about and everything cooked on one tray and double bonus it is carb free!  Next time I will try the dish with poached eggs, I do like a runny yolk!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Burmese Beef Curry

Burmese Beef Curry
  • 800g cubed stewing steak
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Garamond masala
  • 2 lemon grass stalks (outer tough leaves removed) thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp galangal paste
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 chillies finely chopped
  • 500ml beef stock
  • Tablespoon of vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef.  Place the remaining ingredients (excluding the tinned tomatoes) into a food processor and blitz until you have a fine paste. Add the paste to the beef and mix thoroughly to ensure the meat gets a good coating, add the beef stock and the chopped tomatoes, stir through and bring to a simmer.  Once done cover and place the dish into the oven at 170 degrees and cook for around 3 hours, stirring on the hour.  You should have plenty of sauce but if you notice it starting to dry out add a splash or two of water.

Following a recent holiday to Myanmar I had this dish 3 times in two days, it was delicious.  We stayed at the Inle Princess for the last portion of our holiday and they kindly provided me with their recipe for this dish which I have incorporated with another recipe that I found.  The traditional dish does not have chillies and is very mild but as you all know I do like a kick of heat hence the addition of chillies but obviously you can leave them out.

We had this with boiled rice and the usual popadoms and dips and it was a resounding hit and tasted as good as those we tried on holiday.  This recipe makes enough for 4 portions, we've had two portions already so have a guess what we are having for dinner tonight!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Mango Chicken Burger

Mango Chicken Burger
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you don't want it too hot)
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 slices of white bread, crumbed

To serve
  • 2 tbsp zero fat Greek style yoghurt
  • 2 large brioche buns, split in half and toasted
  • 4 gem lettuce leaves, roughly torn
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • 4 cucumber ribbons, sliced with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney

Place the chicken, ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander, zest and juice of the lime and breadcrumbs into a food processor.  Season with salt and pepper and blitz until everything is well blended.

Shape the mixture into two large patty's and place under the grill for 6-10 minutes each side or until cooked through and lightly golden.

To serve, spread the yoghurt onto the base of each of the buns, top with lettuce, tomato and the cucumber ribbons.  Place the burger on top, spread over the mango chutney and top with the bun lid.

I served this with my Halloumi fries and boy did this dish go down a treat.  The herbs, lime and chilli really made for a fresh zingy tasting burger.  The recipe is taken from Joe Wicks, The fat-loss plan which contains plenty of great recipes to eat in conjunction with his workouts which I will be giving a try over the coming months so watch this space for more of his tasty yet healthy recipes.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Spinach with potatoes and chorizo

Spinach with potatoes and chorizo
  • 450g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g cooking chorizo, sliced to the thickness of a pound coin
  • 700g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1kg spinach, trimmed and shredded

Parboil the potatoes in lightly salted water for 5 minues then drain.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a deep pan and cook the chorizo until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon then add the onion and cook in the chorizo fat until soft.  Add the remaining tbsp of oil and then add potatoes and cook over a medium heat until some burnished edges appear.

Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat slightly and cook 10 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook for two minutes, stirring regularly, plate and serve.

This is a side dish that serves four,  however Scott and I had this as a main between us along with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the juices!  I have to say that to ensure I got a good crisp crunch to my potatoes I did roast them for a while in the oven, you can't beat a good roast potato, that crunch as you bite into it and the soft fluffy centre, heaven!

Another recipe taken from Lets Eat Meat by Tom Parker Bowles and another hit with us, hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Harissa and Za'atar Marinated Chicken Kebab with Chilli Raita

Harissa and Za'atar Marinated Chicken Kebab with Chilli Raita
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into small bite sized chunks
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp Za'atar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 flatbreads or large pitta breads
  • 1 head of round lettuce, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Tomato & Onion Salad

  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 birds-eye chillies, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Big pinch of sea salt

Chilli Raita
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 green finger chilli, finely chopped

Mix the chicken with the lemon juice, harissa and Za'atar.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or longer if possible.

To make the salad, mix all the ingredients together and leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Mix together the ingredients for the raita, add a pinch of salt and leave to sit.

Drain the chicken well.  Heat the oil in a non-stick pan or griddle pan and cook the chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side until cooked through, with piping hot juices that are clear when the largest piece is cut in half.

Heat the breads, smear the chilli raita all over, top with the lettuce, salad, chicken and herbs, wrap and enjoy!

This recipe serves four - or two very hungry people!  We both really enjoyed this, fresh and tasty and would be ideal to cook on the BBQ in the summer as it was so quick and easy to prepare.  I had never heard of Za'atar before, turns out it is an eastern spice mix and I managed to get mine from Ocado, no doubt it is also available from most other supermarkets.

The recipe comes from Let's Eat Meat by Tom Parker Bowles, great cookbook with some tasty looking recipes, another one of which I will be making later so keep your eyes peeled as that will be featured soon on the blog.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Hasan Pasha Kofte - Cheesy Beef Kofte

Hasan Pasha Kofte - Cheesy Beef Kofte

Serves 4 (makes 8 kofte)

  • 300g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg separated (you will be using both the yolk and the white)
  • 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper flakes
  • 500g beef mince (15% minimum fat)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 slice of bread, crusts removed, soaked in 3 tbsp of cold water
  • 125ml tomato passata
  • 75g grated mozzarella cheese
  • A small handful of torn flat-leaf parsley
  • Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water until tender, drain and return to the pan.  Add the butter, egg yolk, Tuekish pepper flakes and a good pinch of salt.  Mash together until smooth and set aside.

Put the beef mince in a mixing bowl and add the onion, garlic, black pepper, soaked bread, egg white and a good pinch of salt.  Using your hands, mix together thoroughly for a few minutes.  The mixture will feel wet at first, but the bread will begin to absorb the moisture.  Roll into 8 meatballs and place the, in a snug ovenproof dish.  Push your thumb into the centre of each meatball and create a well.  Top each kofte with a spoonful of the mash.

Mix the passata with 125ml cold water and pour around the kofte.  Cover the dish with foil and cook for around 15-20 minutes or until just cooked through.  Scatter over the cheese and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes nail melted.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Hasan Pasha Kofte - Cheesy Beef Kofte

This was a nice looking dish, the mash topping was lovely but the kofte I have to say was lacking in flavour for me, if I were to make this again I would up the seasoning somewhat as they just tasted like mince!  Cooking time was also about twice as long as stated in the recipe, perhaps my balls were somewhat large lol.  I will make again but with some tweaks.  The recipe is taken from the cookbook, Turkish Delights by John Gregory-Smith, there are some fab looking recipes in there and will be looking forward to trying out some more.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

McMark's Bacon and Egg Flatbread

McMark's Bacon and Egg Flatbread
  • 1 flatbread
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 slices smoked back bacon (or whatever bacon you prefer)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Knob of butter
  • Sauce of choice
Cook your bacon under a medium heat grill for around ten minutes until nice and crispy, turning halfway.  Once done, remove from the oven and place onto some kitchen roll to absorb any fat.  Whilst the bacon is cooking, beat the eggs in a jug along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, once sizzling, pour in the eggs and leave for a minute or so until they start to set, then using a silicone spatula move the eggs around the pan (you don't want the eggs to turn into an omelette or stick to the pan!), keep doing this, breaking them up as you go, it should only take a few minutes to cook the eggs (without drying them out).  Whilst you are doing the eggs, place the flatbread onto a shelf in the oven for a few minutes, the residue heat from the grill should be enough to warm it through.

Place the flatbread onto a plate, drizzle with your sauce of choice, I went for tomato ketchup, place the bacon on the front half of the flatbread, top with the eggs and then fold over the other half of the flatbread and cut in two and serve (just incase you thought I was being greedy, this serves two people!).

Who needs to go to the Golden Arches for breakfast when you can make this bad boy yourself at home in no time at all!  There are endless variations you could make using the flatbread with the fillings of your choice, this was sooo good and took no time at all to make, let me know what you would put in your flatbread?

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Halloumi Fries

Halloumi Fries!
  • Pack of Halloumi, sliced and cut up into chip shaped sizes
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Vegetable oil

Pour enough oil into a frying pain, deep enough to come up about half way against the depth of the fries, heat the oil until smoking hot.  Mix the paprika into the flour and dip the halloumi into the mix, ensuring all areas are coated, then place into the frying pan.  Cook until golden and crispy, turning over once the bottoms of the halloumi fries have crisped up.  Remove the fries from the pan and place onto some kitchen roll in order to absorb any excess oil.

This recipe is so quick and simple yet produces something which is so tasty.  I served the halloumi fries with a tuna rainbow salad and some mustard mayo and boy was it good, will definitely be making these again.