Quick and easy Saag Aloo

5 04 2013

Finally decided what I am going to make for dinner tonight… Saag Aloo.

I am not completely convinced that anyone in India has ever had Saag Aloo / would recognise what we server here in the UK but for some reason the combination of spinach, potatoes and spices gets me everytime!

Feeds 4 – sort of:

  • 4 medium potatoes 
  • 400g spinach puree
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 green finger chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • Half tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Finely chop the garlic and the green chillies. Stir the green chillies into the spinach puree along with the lemon juice, and leave to sit in a bowl. 

Next, dice the potatoes into small pieces no larger than one square inch each. Do not pre boil tha potatoes as otherwise they will end up as mush. Chop the onion and finely mince the garlic.

Now bring the oil to heat on high in a medium-sized pan. When it’s hot, add the chopped onion and garlic and saute for five minutes until golden. Then add the potato pieces, cumin and coriander powders and stir on the high heat for five minutes or until the potato edges start going translucent. If the spices start getting stuck to the bottom of the bottom add a tablespoon of hot water and scrape it off.

Next add hot water to the pan until it comes half way up to the potatoes. Lower the heat to a medium and cook the potatoes until they are done. This will take between 5 and 10 minutes depending upon how fresh your potatoes are, and you have to stir regularly.

When you can easily insert a fork through the potatoes without breaking them, mix in the spinach. Add salt to taste, you will need a fair bit to lift the spinach, and simmer for 5 minutes.


Stuffed Jalapenos

29 07 2011

Stuffed japaleños are great for parties and picnics. I like these stuffed jalapeños instead of cheese and crackers they are just a much more manly hors d’oeuvres.


  • 12 large jalapenos /poblanos halved and deseeded
  • 8 oz. soft cream cheese
  • 8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 6 rashers of  smoked back bacon


Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Halve and deseed the  jalapeños.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and Cheddar cheese.

Chop the bacon in to small pieces (bacon lardons work perfectly for this) and mix in with the cheese.

Stuff the bacon and cheese mix into the peppers and dust with a little chilli powder

Arrange jalapeños in a single layer on a lightly greased medium-sized baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, but cooking time can vary, so keep an eye on it. When the cheese is brown and bubbling the jalapeños are done.

Chilli Rellenos

27 07 2011

 To make  really great chile rellenos you need to balance three ingredients just right

The first and most important is the chile. The pod has to be of the right size, thick fleshed, and with the right heat level. You want something along the lines of a large Jalapeno or Poblano because it has these characteristics. Here in Ireland I often find it difficult to get large chillies so often use those long Romesco peppers that you can get in some supermarkets, because the heat in these isn’t much more than a bell pepper I often chop up a jalapeno or two and mix them in with my stuffing.

Next the stuffing, you want to use a cheese that will melt well and has just the right strength of flavour, I personally like to use asadero  as it is a traditional Mexican cheese and goes well with the chillies. The basic recipe calls for just cheese but I often like to mix things up a bit and throw in some shrimp some lightly fried lardons… delicious!

Finally, the batter must be light and with just  the right amount of salt and black pepper to enhance the combination, but not detract from the flavors of the chile and stuffing. A great chile relleno captures the unique TexMex flavours of the USA


  • 8 Jalapeno or Poblano chillies, roasted, peeled, and de-seeded.
  • 8 sticks of asadero or mozzarella about the size of a finger.
  • 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup flour, plus more for the chiles
  • Oil, enough to cover 1½-inches deep in a skillet


Prepare chile pods. Peel and deseed the chiles. Remove the seeds by cutting a slit in the pod from just below the stem and slice about half way down the chile. Stuff the pods with the cheese, but don’t force things. The open edges of the chile must still come together. Hold the edges together with toothpicks.

Next, prepare the batter. Beat the egg whites with salt and pepper until stiff. In a separate bowl beat egg yolks, add salt and flour and mix well.

Fold the yolk mixture into egg whites just enough to mix. (Use quickly, as this batter will separate.) Roll chiles in flour to coat. Dip chiles into batter. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. If oil is hot enough, this will only take a few minutes. Turns chile once, then drain on several layer of paper towels.

Stilton and bacon Empanadas

17 06 2011

I had some left over shortcrust pastry from baking a quiche the other day and decided to make something that I haven’t made for a very long time…Empanadas.

Cheese and bacon may not be the most adventurous or indeed traditional of fillings but it tastes delicious and who doesn’t love cheese and bacon?

In this particular recipe I am using a really sharp nutty stilton  which works brilliantly but you can just as well use any good hard cheese. I have often made these empanadas with a smoked cheddar and can safely say that they are to die for!


Shortcrust Pastry – Click here to see how to make your own

75g good quality stilton

75g smoked bacon

1 egg

salt and pepper to season


Chop the bacon into small pieces and lightly fry, place into a bowl and crumble in the stilton.

Combine together the cheese and bacon and season with a little salt and pepper to taste – be careful with the salt and only add if you feel it is really necessary as the stilton is quite salty to begin with.

Roll out the pastry and cut out circles roughly 3 inches across.

Place your filling into the centre of the pastry circles and join the edges together with a little beaten egg to seal.

Brush the outside of the empanadas with the beaten egg to give a nice glaze and place into an oven preheated to 220 C for about 10/15 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden and puffy.









Yeast free garlic and coriander Naan Bread

8 06 2011

 I love bread…it really is one of my biggest weaknesses as a semi- healthy human although now that I think about it drinking and smoking are probably bigger weaknesses but anyway back to the bread.

 Regular readers will possibly have spotted that as well as having a love of bread I also have a little bit of a thing for Indian food in general and curry in particular.  For me no Indian meal is truly complete without some bread to go with it; be it a chapati or a puri or naan.

 As with most things I have over the years given up completely on finding any shop bought Naan bread that tastes even remotely like food and have just started making my own, not only do these Naan taste better than the shop bought variety they are healthier as well.

If you just want to have a plain naan then you can omit the topping before you bake.


250g/9oz plain flour

2 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

110-130ml/3½-4½fl oz milk

2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

For the topping

chopped garlic and fresh coriander

1 tbsp butter, melted, to serve


For the dough, sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the milk and oil.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Slowly mix together the dough by working from the centre and incorporating the flour from the edges of the ‘well’, to make a smooth, soft dough. Knead well for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea-towel and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Form the dough into five balls.

Preheat the grill to medium and place a heavy baking sheet on the upper shelf of the grill to heat.

Roll the dough balls out quite thinly, ideally in a teardrop shape, but really this is just aesthetic.

Scatter your coriander and garlic (or anything else you fancy) over the top of your naan and press into the surface of the dough.

Place the naans onto the hot baking sheet and grill for just 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush with butter and serve hot.

Garam Masala

14 01 2011

 Most Indian recipes that you will come across will list  garam masala as being one of the key ingredients but what  is it?

 Well contrary to what some people think garam masala isn’t actually a spice in and of itself, instead it is a blend of several different spices that together make up the basis of  wide variety of dishes. Most families in India will have their own particular blend that they use and often these carry on unchanged for several generations.

It is getting easier and easier to get hold of garam masala in supermarkets and some of them are pretty good, however a lot of them are really bland and stale tasting as such I prefer to make up my own blend. Not only do I end up with a superior product but I can tweak things to my personal tastes.

The recipe I have included below is really just a stepping stone, it will give you a really good garam masala to start off with but it is your own tweaks that will make it great.


2 bay leaves

2tbsp coriander seeds

1tbsp cumin seeds

Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods

2tsp black mustard seeds

2tsp fenugreek

1tsp fennel seeds

2tsp black peppercorns

1tsp cloves

1tsp ground nutmeg

3” cinnamon stick


Heat a small dry pan over a  high heat, once the pan is hot toast the spices for 2 – 3 minutes or until they are several shades darker than at the start, you may wish to cover the pan when the mustard seeds are popping and be careful not to let the spices burn.

Using a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice/coffee grinder grind the toasted spices to a powder and transfer the powder to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

If kept covered and hilled your garam masala should last for about 2 months.

Brussel sprouts with leeks and bacon

28 12 2010

When it comes to enjoying brussel sprouts I am normally in the minority,

There is something about sprouts that just seems to put people off; now personally I think a lot of it comes down to two things – how fresh they are and how they are prepared.

There is a huge difference in taste between wonderfully fresh sprouts still on the stalk and those little wizened ones you buy in those nets or even worse frozen.

When really fresh sprouts have a wonderful sweet nuttiness to them that I would defy most people to find unpleasant.

Of course it doesn’t matter how fresh the sprouts are if you are just going to boil the life out of them and serve up a big dish full of soggy, mushy balls with all the taste and goodness boiled out of them.

I like to go off on a bit of a tangent with my brussel sprouts, especially if I am going to be serving them to people that claim not to like them I prepared this dish of sprouts with leeks and bacon to go along with Christmas dinner this year and it was  a huge success, even with non sprout eaters – you know who you are 😉

*If you want to make a vegetarian version of this dish you can leave out the bacon and crumble in a little bit of stilton about a minute  before serving*


250g fresh Brussel Sprouts

150g Leeks

4/5 rashers of bacon

1/2 of a small onion

garlic salt

black pepper

olive oil

unsalted butter


Remove the outer leaves from the sprouts and make a small cross shaped incision on the base, this will allow for faster more even cooking

Clean the leeks and split down the centre before chopping into thin slices,peel and finely dice half an onion

Cook the sprouts in boiling water for about 3 1/2 – 4 minutes before refreshing by plunging into cold water. Now cook the leeks for just long enough for them to start to soften before draining and setting to one side.

Chop the bacon into small pieces and place to one side, now take the sprouts and slice them into quarters, if any of the sprouts are particularly large you may want to chop them into more pieces.

Fry the bacon in a little olive oil until it has just started to crisp at this point add in the chopped sprouts and a good knob of butter.

Cook the bacon and sprouts for around 3 minutes stirring regularly, add in the leeks, black pepper and garlic salt, stir through well and continue to heat for another 2 minutes or so until the leeks have warmed through.

Serve immediately.



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