Tag Archives: bay leaves

Lamb, Spinach & Potato Curry


Courtesy of the Hairy Bikers from their dieting book. Not that either of us are dieters. Not that it’s even our book.

Serves 5-6


600g lamb steaks, cut into 3cm cubes
2 large onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 medium potatoes, cut into 3cm cubes
5cm piece fresh root ginger
1 medium red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin spinach*
curry paste**
4 bay leaves
3 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
200ml coconut milk
salt and pepper

*I used tinned simply as that’s all we had. If you have fresh (and it will undoubtedly taste better if you do) use 200g of that!
**I haven’t given a quantity here as curry paste varies so much. To put the recipe into context I used 4 teaspoons of Patak’s “extra hot” and I reckon it could have done with at least 1 more


Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oC/gas mark 5 and set aside a bowl. Heat some olive oil in a large casserole dish, brown the lamb with some salt and pepper and place in the bowl. Add the onions to the casserole dish and cook over a medium heat for 7-8 minutes before adding the garlic, chilli, curry paste and grating in the ginger. Cook for a further five minutes before removing from the heat and blitzing to a paste with a hand-blender.

Return the lamb to the paste and return to a medium heat, cooking and stirring for 5 minutes or so until throwing in the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, potatoes, bay leaves and enough water to cover everything. Season with salt and pepper and add a spoonful of sugar, give a good stir before adding the lid and whacking in the oven.

Cook for 60 minutes, check then stick back in for half an hour. Remove from the oven add the tomatoes, spinach and cook on the hob, for five minutes. Serve with a lovely curry-soaking flatbread.




Onion & Cider Soup with Stilton


This is a great soup taken pretty much straight from the BBC Food website (a fantastic resource if you’ve never used it – also check out BBC GoodFood). Very simple, reasonably quick, damn tasty and quite a bit lighter than the much-vaunted French Onion soup.

Serves 3-4


4 medium onions, 3 diced, 1 sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large baking potato, cut into 2cm cubes
250ml cider
white wine vinegar
few sprigs fresh thyme (or a pinch of dried)
3 bay leaves
handful fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 litre stock
salt and pepper


Heat a big old glob of butter in a large saucepan, add the 3 diced onions, a good twist of salt and pepper and sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and continue to sweat for a further 5 minutes.

Add a glug of white wine vinegar, the bay leaves and pour in the cider (I doubt you’ll be able to find a 250ml bottle so I guess you’ll just have to drink the rest!). Increase the heat and reduce by half before adding the stock and potato. Keep on a simmer until the potato is cooked through.

Meanwhile heat a little more butter in a frying pan and once melted added the sliced onion, a little salt and pepper. Fry up over a medium heat until starting to golden. Crumble in a little of the stilton, give a good stir and fry for a further 2-3 minutes. Turn off the hob but leave the frying pan on it while you use a stick-blender to zhuzzzhhh up the soup.

Serve the soup in bowls (bowls, for soup – what is this craziness?!) topped with fried cheesy onions and a further crumbling of stilton. Enjoy with friends – I dare you not to eat the whole lot!



Spicy Tomato Soup


Let me start off by saying I’m not really a fan of tomato soup per sé. That may seem a little contradictory given the nature of this recipe, but this soup is far from the thick gloop you get from Heinz and co. It’s light, it’s summery, it sizzles, it puts to shame the tasteless carbon-copy sludge you’ll find in a can. Sure chopping everything up takes a while but this is really easy (cook, add, stir, cook, add, stir, eat) makes a lot and you can freeze whatever you don’t use straight away so in my mind the extra effort is worth it.

P.S. If anyone can think of a snappier/sexier title do let me know!

P.P.S. This is absolutely delicious stone-cold straight from the fridge. Just what you need on the upteenth grey, miserable Welsh day in a row…


1 kilo tomatoes, depipped & roughly chopped
50g butter
3 onions, diced
3 cooked beetroot, roughly chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 small red chillis, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
4 tsp cumin, ground or crushed seeds
2 tsp coriander
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
glug balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper


Melt 50g butter in a deep pan. Add and sweat the onions, celery and garlic for 5 minutes over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally (that seems to be my favourite phrase) before slugging in a glug of balsamic and continuing to cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, chillis, beetroot, coriander and cumin, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Get the mixture to a temperature where it bubbles nicely without spitting molten liquid all over the place and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally (see!).

When the soup is reduced a bit, remove the bay leaves and shuszh up with a hand-shuszher (hand-blender to you). I quite like my soup to have a bit of texture so I didn’t go overboard trying to smooth it out completely. I didn’t sieve it either, hence why I removed the tomato pips at the start. Just seemed like extra stuff to clean up later to me…

Basically reduce to a thickness of your choosing. I left mine at the thinner end of the spectrum but you could continue to boil away for as long as you so wish. Season with salt and pepper and serve ideally with some fresh-baked bread. Not that I did, but hey, I would have if I wasn’t so lazy busy making soup.


Caramelised Red Onion Chutney


That’s right folks, we’re back on the chutney bandwagon. This one is sweet, tangy and comes with a bit of a kick.

Makes 1½ lbs


7 red onions, chopped
2 white onions, chopped
1 pepper – red, yellow, orange, green, purple, whatever! – chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-3 chilli peppers, finely chopped
120g dark brown sugar
275 ml balsamic vinegar
50ml red wine vinegar
4 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
stick of cinnamon


Again, apologies for all the chopping. It should look something like this by the end of it all:

If you’re not crying your eyes out with all those onions then you’re made of sturdier stuff than us!

Heat some oil on a low heat in a big pan and add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and cinnamon stick. Cook for 15-20 minutes until soft then add the pepper and chilli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add all the vinegar and sugar and reduce, still on a low heat, until thick and sticky. Remove the bay leaves if they start to go too soggy. Spoon into sterilised jars or throw some straight onto a fat wedge of cheese and scoff shamelessly.