A traditional Greek winter dish, this is one of those one-pot wonders that can feed a family and then some! Traditionally it would have been taken to the village bakers to be cooked, to be collected and enjoyed on the way home from work. It is often made with beef, but we love this lamb version. Orzo pasta is the one shaped like large grains of rice, and it can be found in Greek, Turkish or other Mediterranean grocers. The best cheese to use is Greek kefalotyri, but pecorino is a suitable substitute rather than Parmesan.
A classic and traditional English beef stew includes a surprising collection of spice, although they are aromatics rather than fiery examples. This recipe uses shin beef, which lends itself so well to slow cooking either in the oven or on top of the stove, and is spiced with ginger, allspice, coriander and orange zest. The orange zest brings balance, the ginger a little zing and the allspice a sweet, warming character. Serve this with suet dumplings for a real English wintertime treat.
One of our great food memories is Couscous
Royale in Paris – a collection of meats including merguez, chicken and lamb meatballs are the centrepiece of this delicious feast, but perhaps our favourite bit has always been the veggie stew that goes with it. Carrot, turnip and chickpeas slowly simmered in a spicy broth which is mild, aromatic and warming. We often recreate this one at home, forgetting the meat and just having a plate of the veggie stew with a pile of buttery couscous. Our Ras El Hanout or Marrakesh chicken blend are both perfect for this dish.
Featured in our egg feature in this newsletter, this is one of Japan’s greatest comfort foods, much loved by children and adults alike. The name literally translates as ‘parent and child bowl’, due to the chicken and eggs being used in the same dish. It is quick and easy, perfect for lunch or a light supper, and is a really authentic taste of Japan.
This lovely veggie dish (itself a rarity in meat-loving Spain) is from Andalucia, heavily influenced by North Africa. The tang of capers and apple vinegar is balanced by a little sugar, and the dish is seasoned with coriander, cumin and paprika. It is best to keep the cauli crunchy, and the dish can be enjoyed cold as well as hot, for example as part of a salad buffet. Sweet, sour and aromatic, this is a real treat!
The meatball is available on pretty much every tapas menu in Spain, but the quality varies enormously – this version is one we enjoyed in Jerez de la Frontera, and is different first because the size of the meatball is, well, big, and second because it is just totally delicious. It is hearty enough to be served as a main course with a few chips, if you allow two meatballs a head, but of course it is also great as part of a tapas spread. The two elements (meatball and sauce) can be prepared ahead of time and then reheated either in a pan or in the oven (better, but be careful the dish doesn’t dry out) when it is time to eat. The smoked paprika is the key player in making this sauce truly delicious.
Recently spotted in Singapore on the menu of a certain large hamburger operation is the Rendang Burger, which we think is an excellent idea. Reports claim that the corporate version is very tasty indeed, but it won't be as tasty as this! We've used our handmade Rendang blend combined with extra coconut, lemon grass and crispy fried onions to recreate that deep, aromatic and spicy rendang flavour. Build your burger with an Asian slaw, and forget the ketchup - this one needs to be topped with your favourite chilli sauce for the ultimate flavour. In Malaysia or Singapore, this would always be garnished with a fried egg (so many things are in that part of the world!), feel free to go native should you desire.
Goulash is the go-to stew of central and eastern Europe, a simple dish of meat cooked slowly with heaps of brick-red Hungarian sweet paprika as the main seasoning. The recipe differs slightly from country to country, and it is usually made with beef. But for a touch of luxury veal is often used, and this is the version we really like. Veal if carefully sourced is a wonderful meat, milder in flavour and more tender than beef. We recommend our friends at Ginger Pig butcher in Borough Market for the very best veal, and this is one of the most delicious things you can do with it. Goulash goes really well with buttered tagliatelle-type noodles, but rice or potatoes are good too.
One of the most popular noodle treats of all, this dish originated in China and was a streetfood - 'Dan Dan' refers to the name of the pole hawkers would carry around, the cooking equipment on one end, the ingredients on the other. It's a really simple dish, brought to life by the use of Facing Heaven chilli from Szechuan, and also Szechuan peppercorns. Traditionally it is made with minced pork or occasionally beef, but veggies can substitute those with mushrooms, aubergine or tofu. There are three stages to the recipe - the chilli oil, the minced pork and the sauce - all of which can be done in advance if you like, before putting together the finished dish when required.
Mexico's answer to a cheese toastie, the quesadilla consists of corn or flour tortillas stuffed with cheese and a bewildering array of other goodies, depending on area and mood. For this recipe we are using chicken sauteed with our new Mexican Chilli Lime blend (July's Spice of the Month) to make a quesadilla filling enough to be served as a dinner along with some spicy side dishes. It is best to use a cheese which melts fairly quickly and evenly - a mixture of Monterey Jack and cheddar works well.