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Archive for October, 2011

This week (9 – 15 October) is National Curry Week. National Curry Week was introduced 14 years ago to raise funds for various charities including the Curry Tree Project, which help raise awareness and alleviate the plight of the malnourished and poor people of South East Asia.

There are many activities, record-breaking attempts, cooking demonstrations and events taking place across the country as well as support from Indian restaurants and, for those wanting to dine at home, curriesonline.co.uk

With curry being hailed Britain’s favourite dish, it’s surely an easy project for us to back. This week I’m celebrating by cooking and tucking into a different curry or curry-themed dish each day. So far, the menu reads:

Monday Making up for a poor start to National Curry Week (we were out and about yesterday so missed our first meal) we had spiced red lentil soup for lunch. For tea we’ll be having kheema mattar (spicy minced lamb and peas), with the addition of some shredded spinach and sliced okra, served with chapatis.

Tuesday I’ll be dishing up cumin chicken with rice and a side-dish of spiced romanesco cauliflower, carrots and peas.

Wednesday We’ll be having garam masala grilled fish with curried lentils and little cubes of fried potato.

Thursday A quick and easy dish of karahi prawns with rice and spiced green beans and peppers.

Friday A comforting and waming end to the week – beef madras served with naan and bhindi bhaji.

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Comfort & Spice is the fourth book in the Quadrille New Voices in Food series and the debut from the well-known food blogger Niamh Shields (aka @eatlikeagirl).

As the title suggests, the book is full of comforting, unpretentious recipes and dishes using a variety of warming spices to perk up your day. Recipes include classics from her Irish homeland as well as her own creations based on influences from her travels, food store finds and cooking experiments. There are sections for both light and comforting brunches, speedy suppers, food for the weekends as well as sweet things and drinks.

I can heartily recommend the smoked salmon with potato pancakes and cucumber relish for an indulgent weekend brunch – simple to make yet so satisfying to eat. For an easy and cheap meal try the lamb breast with persillade crust. Prepare the persillade crust then let the lamb breast slowly cook in the oven and two hours later you’ll be tucking into meltingly tender meat with a crunchy, garlic and herb topping. We polished ours off with salad, as Niamh suggests, as well as the remainder of the cucumber relish.

Niamh’s philosophy on food and cooking is similar to my own – she’s all about creating something special from economical ingredients, big, bold flavours, creative use of leftovers, as well as making basic ingredients such as butter, yoghurt and cheese from scratch (have a go at paneer one weekend and you’ll soon be hooked). When you have some time, what might seem like a challenge is proven to be simple, quick and rewarding – some things are really worth the effort.

The style of writing in Comfort & Spice is refreshing. The book not only contains some lovely, down to earth recipes but is also littered with anecdotes, tips on being a better cook (aimed probably more at beginners or less confident cooks), background information on ingredients and recipes as well as plenty of inspiration to get your mouth-watering. It’s clearly written by someone who gets a kick out of food, cooking, eating and feeding people and it’s sure to rub off on anyone who reads it.

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