Lamb and pistachio meatballs, with red rice koshari

This is another of the more experimental recipes. The lamb meatballs are tried and tested – you can’t go far wrong with lamb, pistachios, and a little sweet spice.The koshari is another matter, and honestly – tasty though it was – I’ve not quite nailed it.

Lamb pistachio meatballs with koshari

Koshari, if you don’t know, (and I didn’t until a friend suggested it on Friday) is kind of what would happen if an onion pilaf set out to annex every other culture’s starches. It’s one of those recipes you read with a mounting sense of horror that the author is not, in fact joking. Speaking its name alone will banish any Atkins dieters that have the energy left to run. It’s semi-recent Egyptian pantry-clearing fodder, and contains two types of pasta, rice lentils, and chickpeas.

I baulked a little.

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Jalfrezi style broccoli curry

A few weeks ago while working up a slightly off-beat achari recipe, I asserted that making restaurant-style curry at home was at best impractical, and at worst a lost cause. It turns out we’re living in the best case scenario, and the practicality of dishing up a Brit curry standard is directly proportional to your patience for boiling and puréeing industrial quantities of onions.

Yep, I’ve read The Curry Secret, and the secret is “use the LD50 of alliums”.

Broccoli jalfrezi, simmering

Inspired by the book, and the fact that I’m spending February vegetarian again this year (Veguary), here’s an adaptation of my favourite curry house classic for my favourite vegetable.

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Spätzle

I first ate spätzle in Austria, at 7 Stern Brau. There, I decided two things: I would cook it when I got home, and I would accept the anglicised spelling “spaetzle”. It’s just less fiddly to type. Sorry Austria.

Spätzle with roasted vegetables and merguez sausages

Anyway, kaese spaetzle is the classic – little baked noodle thingies slavered with melted cheese and bacon, crispy fried onions scattered over the top. It’s bliss. Both as comfort food and a path to coronary heart disease, it shits all over macaroni cheese.

But with that (and a recent light-hearted ticking off for the amount of cheese I eat) ringing in my ears, I thought I’d try something lighter. Spaetzle will slot into a good majority of the recipes I’ve seen for gnocchi or pasta. So why not a light fresh tomato sauce?

Well, because I’ve a short but sticky history of fucking up spaetzle, that’s why.

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Waterzooi – doing it Flemish-style

It’s a gorgeous afternoon. I’ve just had a slice of excellent pizza from the newly-opened Norfolk Street Bakery. Their bread and butter pudding cake looks astounding. I’m in a great mood, and I’m putting off playing Pokémon for the OneMetal Podcast. So it’s time to crack open a St. Idesbald Tripel and build a Waterzooi recipe.

Waterzooi is the most interesting thing I came across on a recent trip to Belgium. The most interesting edible thing, anyway. There were some fucking splendid beers, and a lot of interesting art, too, but gastronomically it was the Waterzooi that stood out. So I’m going to have a crack at recreating it.

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Broccoli and ricotta pizza: iteration and umami

Kale pizza works. I thought it wouldn’t when I saw it in Veg Every Day, but it does.

So why not broccoli?

Broccoli is one of my favourite things, with that rich umami hit that seems to characterise the flavours I really go for. It’s like some perverse, savoury, mirror-world, sweet tooth.

So yeah, let’s try it. Let’s see if we can make this work.

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Quick cauliflower and potato curry

I fancied something simple and veggie last night, so a light curry seemed to be the thing.

Starting to simmer

In hindsight, I should have used a recipe, rather than faffing and experimenting. The dollop of yogurt at the end was a definite mistake, for instance, but the flavours shook out ok.

I fried an onion off with the florets of cauliflower, adding ginger and garlic, and chilli as the onion looked like it was heading for done. Then I threw in some spices, which is the point at which i really should have grabbed a notebook. I’;m fairly sure it was about a teaspoon each of cumin and mustard seeds, and tumeric; along with a pinch of fennel seeds, some smoked paprika, fenugreek, and cinnamon. Were I guessing, I’d say about half a teaspoon each of those last three.

Fry the spices, throw in a couple of chopped tomatoes, diced potato, and some stock, then simmer until broadly functional.

I decided to go with a splodge of yogurt to thicken slightly. It didn’t work, as you can see from the pictures.

The finished thing

It would have benefited from something on the side, I think, or perhaps the addition of spinach.

Oh well – lessons and what have you.