Mixed Mushrooms with Cinnamon and Lemon

Ok, I promise to stop singing the praises of my new best friend, Mr Yotam Ottolenghi soon, but dammit, he just keeps inspiring me with his lovely recipes. I´m not vegetarian, I couldn´t give up bacon, jamon and a nice blue steak, but his recipes are very vegetable focused and they could almost make you forget how wonderful a crispy roast chicken tastes. Almost.

Another of his recipes featuring mixed mushrooms appealed to me, although I had to use a bag of mixed frozen mushrooms at this time of year. Roll on autumn when I can make this with fresh ones. The method I used to cook them is a little different from the original recipe, I have put the original ingredients in brackets after my version. If you make this with fresh mushrooms I think it will be less “saucy” (it certainly looked drier in the photo in the book) but I rather liked having something to mop up with my bread!

Ingredients (my version serves 2, Ottolenghi version serves 6-8)

  • 450g mixed mushrooms (Otto recipe – 2kg)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (Otto recipe – 160ml)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme (Otto recipe – 30g chopped)
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves (10 cloves)
  • 2 tbs chopped chives (100g chopped flat leaf parsley)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (6 cinnamon sticks)
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt (25g sea salt)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (1 tbsp)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of half (60ml lemon juice)

In a large pan heat the oil slightly then add the garlic and mushroom, fry gently until they mushrooms release their liquid, add the thyme and cinnamon and turn up the heat. Cook until the liquid has reduced a little, turn off the heat then stir in the chives, lemon zest and juice. Remove the cinnamon stick, taste and season. I served with a chicken breast which I had cut into thin fillets, marinated for 30 minutes in olive oil and lemon juice and quickly cooked in the griddle pan.

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Curried Meatballs

A recent tidy up of my cookery books turned up two Indian books by Anjum Anand which I had hardly read.  Time to put that right I thought, and next thing I was in the butcher´s shop ordering pork mince.

Of course, pork would not typically be a meat used in most Indian curries for religious reasons, but this would be great with any other meat. For a fantastic recipe using minced beef, check out Frugal´s gorgeous Beef Kofta Curry recipe.

As ever, I had to make a few small changes, but not too many. I had no fresh coriander so substituted dried, ground coriander and the same went for fresh ginger. We can get it here, I just didn´t have any to hand and when the craving for curry strikes, you have to go with it!

This recipe is adapted from Indian Food Made Easy.

For the meatballs

  • 300g lamb mince (I used pork)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks (I used 1 teaspoon of dried coriander)
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger (I used ¼ teaspoon of dried)
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt to taste

For the Curry Sauce

  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small shard of cinnamon
  • 2 ½ medium tomatoes (puréed) – I used 1 ½ cups of my conserva from last summer
  • 800ml water (I used about 300ml)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ – ¾ teaspoon of chili powder (to taste)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together plus 3 tbs of the onion you have chopped for the sauce.

Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and remaining onion and fry until the onion is golden brown.

Add the tomatoes, ginger and garlic and cook gently for about 8 mins then add 200ml of water and cook until thickened.  Add the spices and salt and any remaining water (I didn´t add much as I continued cooking with a lid on my pan) and simmer. Meanwhile roll the meat into walnut sized balls and drop them into the sauce.

Cover and simmer, turning the meatballs gently half way through, for about 20 minutes. Add the coriander and serve with rice, naan bread, popadums…however you like.

We ate ours with my Sort of Saag Aloo made with the first of our spinach which is now ready to eat.

…and a cool and creamy raita (I´ll give you that easy recipe another time)…

This was a warm but not too hot curry with the lovely flavours of cinnamon and ginger, definitely one to make again.

Plums for My Porridge – Perfect Plum, Cinnamon and Vanilla Compôte

Do you remember my beautiful plum tree I showed you back in the spring? No matter if you don´t.  I knew back then from the enormous amount of blossom it had, following the rainiest winter for over 80 years in Andalucía, that we would have lots and lots of plums.

Of course, we did and we´ve been eating and enjoying them, giving a lot away, and the chickens have thoroughly enjoyed pecking away at those that fell to the ground.

A couple of weeka ago the plums really were coming to an end.  The last few clinging on to the tree were looking a little sad and soft, so I decided to turn them into a kind of compôte (rather like a jam) to drizzle over my porridge, or oatmeal, in the winter months.  It´s also delicious with ice cream!

You can either peel and stone the plums first, or do as I did – boil and squish!  I put them in a large pot and on a gentle heat for about 30 minutes, by which time the skins had popped and the plums were soft.

On with the kitchen gloves and I removed all the stones and skin, then passed the fruit through my trusty mouli.  You could also use a stick or regular blender. The prepared fruit weighed 2.3 kgs, so I added just under half the weight of sugar (1kg) and the juice of one lemon.  As this started to warm and the sugar dissolved, I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence and 2 sticks of cinnamon.

I let it boil quite hard for 5 minutes, removed the cinnamon sticks then poured it into sterilised jars.  Now I´m ready for the cold weather and already anticipating my first bowl of porridge with Perfect Plum Compôte!

And now, a confession.  I made this last year too (minus the vanilla) and earlier this year I was making ragú for my pasta and fumbling around in my despensa (that´s a little Spanish larder) when I grabbed a jar of this instead of tomato conserva.  Can you believe I didn´t notice the difference? We even ate the pasta, initially saying things along the lines of “gosh, you can really taste the sweetness of the tomatoes coming through”.  Eventually we decided that the taste was overly sweet (even the minced meat, garlic and red wine couldn´t compete) and the realization of what I had done dawned on me.  Not a recipe I´ll be repeating….still can´t believe that we ATE it!!!