Easy, adaptable dishes the whole family will enjoy

Recipes with great flavour but simple ingredients, from new food columnist Carmel Somers

Pork Kheema. Photograph: Emma Jervis

Pork Kheema. Photograph: Emma Jervis

 

Despite being a chef, living above the restaurant and being completely spoiled in having the best of produce and raw ingredients at my fingertips, I too often struggle with what to cook.

My approach fluctuates between that of the excited children in the The Greatest Store In The World, who find themselves in the midst of a department store overnight (my equivalent is the local Skibbereen Farmer’s Market), to the stress of a tired and somewhat overworked parent trying to figure out how to please everyone at the table.

Some days it may be just two of us at the family table, or on restaurant days (when the staff eat with the family) it can range from two to 10. The fact remains, even with storerooms and a walk in fridge at your disposal, without planning, cooking becomes synonymous with stress.

When I ask my daughters, staff and students their favourite of my dishes, this week’s two come out on top time and time again.

As well as their amazing flavours, they carry with them the added benefit of consisting of quite basic ingredients that you may already have or are very easy to source. The only exception being the spices, which I would recommend investing in good quality versions of from a gourmet or ethnic food store – a good spice can take an otherwise plain dish and make it something extraordinary.

These recipes are highly adaptable – they can be scaled up or down easily to facilitate all sizes of parties. The Pork Keema keeps very well and can be frozen. Lamb can be replaced for pork, and the fish can be replaced by meat (cooking time will vary accordingly).

Neither require fancy kitchen wear and are limited to a small amount of washing up after (I’m convinced this is the reason my daughters recommend them for students). My “tidy-up chutney” goes great with the keema but the ingredients can be changed depending on what you have in the fridge, cupboard and fruit bowl.

Pork Keema

Pork Kheema. Photograph: Emma Jervis
Pork Kheema. Photograph: Emma Jervis

Serves 4

Ingredients:
Oil
2 chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
500g (1 lb) minced pork
Salt
400g (13 oz) frozen peas
3 tbs curry paste of your choice
3 tbs tomato puree
250ml (8 fl oz) boiling water
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbs low-fat natural yoghurt
Large handful of chopped coriander leaves (optional)

Method:
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. When hot, add the chillies, ground coriander and minced pork.
2. Season meat well with salt at this stage and-fry over a high heat for 4-5 minutes until the meat is lightly browned.
3. Stir in the peas, curry paste and tomato puree. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes and then add the water.
4. Bring it to the boil, cover, reduce the heat and cook gently for 8-10 minutes, until the meat is tender.
5. Remove from the heat, stir in the yoghurt, the chopped garlic and the chopped coriander (optional). Season and serve with rice.

Spicy roast fish with potatoes and tomatoes

Oven roasted fish with potatoes and tomatoes. Photograph: Emma Jervis
Oven roasted fish with potatoes and tomatoes. Photograph: Emma Jervis

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 x 200g hake, cod or haddock, skin on and scaled
750g potatoes or sweet potatoes
500g fresh tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the marinade:
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
Chilli powder to your taste
4 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Heat the oven to 240C/Gas mark 9 and heat a low sided oven tray.
2. Mix everything for the marinade in a bowl and combine thoroughly.
3. Add the fish to the bowl and cover well with the marinade. Leave for about 30 minutes.
4. While the fish is marinading, peel the potatoes and cut into big chunks, toss them in a large mixing bowl with the chopped tomatoes. Season both well with salt and pepper and a good splash of oil, making sure all the vegetables are well oiled.
5. Spread the vegetables evenly on to the preheated tray and roast for 20 - 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft through when tested with a knife.
6. After about 15 minutes give everything a good mix on the tray to help the tomatoes to release their juices.
7. Take the vegetables out of the oven and place the fish fillets on top, skin side up. Pour the leftover marinade over the tray and return to the oven.
8. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Check the fish by pressing the thickest part with your finger, if it is soft to the touch, it is cooked.

Tidy-up chutney

Photograph: Emma Jervis
Photograph: Emma Jervis

1. Juice a large lemon.
2. Put a small handful of dried coconut and sultanas into the bowl of the juicer and leave to soak while you dice a half a cucumber, half a small onion, and an apple.
3. Add these to the bowl and combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper and serve with the keema.
Alternatively, if you have a banana that needs to be used up add it in along with a little more lemon juice.

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