Chicken Katsu Curry

Katsu curry is a classic fave of mine at Wagamamas. I’ve never really known what goes into the sauce, it just always tasted great. Now I’ve made it at home I’m shocked at how simple it is to make! And honestly, I think the homemade version tastes even better than the Wagas original. It’s delicious and warming and full of flavour.

The best thing about the sauce is that it freezes really well, so you can make a big batch and freeze for when you’re feeling lazy.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

For the Katsu Curry Sauce:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small-medium sized carrot, diced
  • 1/2 a red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 450ml chicken stock (or veg stock)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon mango chutney (or you can use sugar)

For the panko breaded chicken:

  • 2 80g boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 100ml buttermilk (you can also substitute for yoghurt)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

  1. First, marinade your chicken thighs in the buttermilk. Add the turmeric and garam masala and stir. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour, ideally overnight.
  2. Next, make your curry sauce. Place your oil in a saucepan on a medium high heat and then add your onion, carrot and red pepper and a pinch of salt all in one go. Continually stir until soft, this should take about 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, if the mixture is looking dry or is catching the pan at this stage, add a dash more olive oil and add your garlic and ginger. After 1 minute add your turmeric, garam masala, curry powder and flour. Cook for about 5 minutes, continuously stirring.
  4. Pour in half your chicken stock and stir. Then add your soy sauce and mango chutney and leave to simmer for 1 hour. During this hour, stir occasionally and keep adding the remaining chicken stock a little at a time.
  5. For the breaded chicken, heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium high heat. You ideally want the temperature to remain at about 170/180c (if you have a thermometer). Lay your panko breadcrumbs on a tray or chopping board and place your chicken thighs in them, turn over a few times to they are covered and then add to the pan. Cook each side for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta shells

These pasta shells are stuffed with a herby spinach and ricotta mix and laid on a bed of homemade, slow cooked tomato sauce. It’s honestly so full of flavour and delicious. The pasta shells were a little hard to source, but I found them on Ocado here. You can also try Italian delis.

If you are short of time, or feeling lazy, you can substitute the homemade tomato sauce for a jarred alternative from the supermarket. I personally prefer the homemade sauce as the flavours in my recipe are amazing, you get a really lovely rich tomato sauce. You can also batch cook it (double/triple the quantities) and freeze portions to use later, the sauce freezes really well.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

For the homemade tomato sauce:
(Note: if you are short of time, you can use 400g of jarred tomato pasta sauce instead)

  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • handful of fresh basil (at least 10-15 leaves but the more the better!), roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 50ml red wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree

For the pasta shells:

  • 15-20 pasta shells
  • 250g ricotta
  • 200g spinach leaves
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 125g mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

  1. First, make your slow cooked tomato sauce (if making, if you are going to use a jarred tomato sauce, skip step one). Place your olive oil in a saucepan with a lid on a low heat, then add all your ingredients and stir. Leave to simmer on a low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pre heat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Boil your pasta shells so they are cooked al dente, you’ll want to boil them for roughly 6-7 minutes.
  3. Prepare your ricotta spinach mixture which you will use to stuff the pasta shells. In a frying pan, heat your olive oil on a low heat and add your garlic. Cook for roughly 30 seconds-1 minute (you don’t want it to burn) and immediately add your spinach, salt and pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spinach begins to wilt then turn off the heat. Stir in your ricotta and lemon zest.
  4. Lay your tomato sauce on the base of a deep baking tray. Fill your pasta shells with the ricotta/spinach mixture and lay on top of the sauce. add your mozzarella in chunks to the tops of each pasta shell.
  5. Cook for 20-25 minutes in the oven until the cheese is golden brown.

Giant Jaffa Cake

This giant Jaffa cake is perfect for all Jaffa lovers! It really does look and taste like the real deal, and is fundamentally a large orange sponge covered with a layer of orange jelly and then a layer of chocolate. Delicious. I made this for my best friends birthday as she loves Jaffa cakes!

You’ll need a cake tin with a 23cm diameter and a small saucepan (with a diameter slightly smaller than 23cm)

Ingredients:

  • 67.5g orange jelly cubes (half of a standard pack)
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1 orange and 1 tablespoon juice
  • 65g milk chocolate
  • 65g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Line your cake tin with baking parchment and preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. First prepare your cake. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Add your eggs one at a time and beat again until combined.
  3. Sift in your flour, orange zest and juice and fold the mixture together. Pour your mixture into your cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through (use a fork or spaghetti stick to check, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked!)
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your orange jelly according to the instructions on the packet. Pour your jelly into your small saucepan and leave to set in the fridge for 1-2 hours, until solid.
  5. Once you are ready to assemble your cake, melt your chocolate in a glass/heatproof bowl over a simmering saucepan of boiling water, stirring continuously so the mixture is smooth (you can also melt in the microwave on a low heat for 2-3 minutes, pausing to continuously stir). Leave your melted chocolate to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes before you assemble your cake.
  6. Carefully place your jelly mix on top of your cake. You can do this by placing the saucepan upside down over the cake and gently tapping it. This can be quite fiddly so be patient!
  7. Drizzle your melted chocolate over the jelly and cake and smooth over so it looks like a jaffa cake. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, ideally overnight.

Sweet Potato Soup

Winter is now in full swing. This, combined with me working from home full time now, means I’m drinking a lot of soup for my lunches! Homemade soups are simple to make, and are a great way of using up leftover vegetables. This sweet potato soup is lovely and warming due to the ginger and smoked paprika which also gives it a lot of flavour (there’s nothing worse than bland soup!). It goes well with a side of crusty bread.

This soup also freezes well. Simply portion up the soups into plastic containers or bags and place in the freezer. Leave to defrost overnight in the fridge when you want to use them.

Ingredients:
Serves 2
Overall time required: 30 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 15g butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4cm fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 350g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 450ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • tablespoon soured cream, to garnish (optional)
  • handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Place your olive oil in a deep saucepan, frying pan or wok on a medium-high heat. Add your onion and cook for 2-3 minutes then add the garlic and ginger and reduce the heat to low.
  2. Add your carrots and sweet potatoes to the pan and add the smoked paprika, salt and pepper and stir.
  3. Pour in your chicken/vegetable stock and cover the saucepan and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and place your mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. You may want to leave the soup mix to cool slightly before adding it to your blender, depending on it’s material. If the mixture is quite thick, you can add a bit of water to thin it down.
  5. Serve with soured cream and parsley to garnish.

Mushroom and truffle risotto

I am mildly obsessed with truffle! Until now it was something I mostly ate in restaurants in pasta dishes (usually with a hefty price tag!), however my friend gifted me some truffle oil over Christmas, so I’ve been getting that lovely truffley flavour in my home cooked dishes. My favourite so far is this mushroom and truffle risotto, it also makes your kitchen smell amazing. If you don’t have access to any truffle oil, you can just make this a mushroom risotto and it still tastes great!

Ingredients:
Serves 2
Overall time required: 30 minutes

  • 25g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 125ml white wine
  • 450ml chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock if vegetarian)
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3-4 portobello mushrooms, to dress
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil
  • 25g cheese – I like to use cheddar, comte or gruyere

Method:

  1. Boil your rice according to the instructions on the packet, or boil in 200ml water in a saucepan for 10 minutes.
  2. In a frying pan, fry your onion in the olive oil on a medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the diced mushrooms and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add your garlic then turn the heat down to a medium-low.
  3. Pour in your white wine and then add your cooked rice. Whilst continually stirring, add your chicken stock in small increments. You basically want to add more stock when the risotto starts looking dry and then continue to stir.
  4. Meanwhile, in another frying pan (you can use a dry pan if non-stick, otherwise add a dash of olive oil), add your portobello mushrooms and fry on a medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper and flip over after 4-5 minutes and cook the other side. Once cooked, set aside to dress your risotto at the end.
  5. Add your cheese to the risotto mix and stir until melted through. Then add the truffle oil and parsley. Serve with your portobello mushrooms on top.

Kerelan Prawn Curry

I absolutely love South Indian food, their creamy coconut curries are delicious. In this recipe I’ll show you how to make your own curry paste from scratch. It’s a little bit time consuming and you’ll need to get a couple specialist ingredients (all can be found in large supermarkets though, or local Indian shops), but the effort is worth it as you’ll end up with a fragrant, authentic curry paste. You can also batch prep your paste and freeze it into portions to be used later.

Ingredients:
Serves 2
Overall time required: 1 hour

  • Olive oil
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes or 8-10 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 12–14 peeled raw king or tiger prawns (if you don’t eat seafood, use 2 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, or 1 aubergine)
  • 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
  • flaked almonds, to garnish
  • Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 8cm piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Method:

  1. First make your curry paste. The paste seems really time consuming to prepare, but you can batch prep the paste and freeze portions to use at a later date. You can either use a pestle and mortar or a small food processor. Add the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, ground turmeric and a pinch each of sea salt and chilli powder to a pestle and mortar or food processor.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small pan on a low heat and add the mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop. Transfer to your pestle and mortar/food processor and pound/blend. Roughly chop your garlic, ginger and chillies and add to the paste until smooth. Mix in the tomato purée and tamarind.
  3. Start prepping your curry. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add your red onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat down to low, add the curry paste and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook on a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut milk and gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the prawns (or your chicken or aubergine). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the prawns are lovely and pink and just cooked through. If using chicken you will have to cook it for a bit longer (5-10 minutes)
  6. Turn off the heat and add the yoghurt.
  7. Garnish with the flaked almonds, coriander leaves and extra yoghurt. Serve with rice or naan.

Chocolate dipped Pistachio Shortbread

Pistachio shortbread is such a great teatime treat, it’s buttery, crumbly, sweet and a little bit salty. Plus, this recipe is really easy and quick to make – it’s all made in one bowl so there’s minimal washing up and there’s no need to chill the dough in the fridge like other biscuit recipes.

Ingredients:
Makes 24 cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes

  • 230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 280g plain flour
  • 100g shelled unsalted pistachios, finely chopped (in a food processor for ease)
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • pinch of sea salt

Method:

  1. Line two 9 inch circular cake tins with baking parchment, leaving a slight overhang so you can easily remove the shortbread, and preheat your oven to 160C.
  2. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy, for around 1 minute.
  3. Add the vanilla, salt and flour until combined.
  4. Stir in 65g of the pistachios until evenly spread through the batter.
  5. Divide your dough in half and place in the cake tins and press down with your hands or the back of a spoon, you want these to be nice and compact so that the shortbread doesn’t crumble.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the shortbread from the pan and cut into 12 slices, as if you were slicing a pizza! I would save the baking parchment, as you can place your cookies on these after dipping in the chocolate.
  8. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and leave to simmer. Place your chocolate in a glass bowl on top to melt it, continuously stirring. Dip the edges of the shortbread in the chocolate and then immediately in the pistachios, sprinkle some sea salt on each cookie and leave the chocolate to set.

Christmas Rocky Road

Rocky road is one of my bakes that always goes down really well! It’s usually gobbled up in minutes whenever I put it out – which probably has something to do with the rich, buttery biscuit base and lots of chocolate. Yum. This time I’ve put together a rocky road with a Christmas twist, the biscuit base is a mix of warming ginger nut biscuits and digestives, plus a white chocolate drizzle for a snowy look.

I decorated mine with McVitie’s mini gingerbread men, and some christmassy sprinkles and M&Ms, but feel free to use any Christmassy decorations of your choice.

Ingredients:
Makes roughly 20-25 rocky road squares
Prep time: 25 minutes

  • 200g Dark Chocolate
  • 100g Milk Chocolate
  • 100g White Chocolate (this should be a ‘best for baking’ type of chocolate, to avoid curdling)
  • 100g mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 80g digestive
  • biscuits
  • 80g ginger nut biscuits
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • A handful of Christmassy cake decorations
  • 50g M&Ms

Method:

  1. Line a square cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Melt your dark chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over a low heat. 
  3. Place your digestive biscuits and ginger nut biscuits in a sandwich bag and smash with a rolling pin until the biscuits are around the size of 5p pieces. Add these to your saucepan and stir until all the biscuit pieces are covered in the chocolate mixture. Add half of the marshmallows to the mixture and stir so they are mixed together.
  4. Pour your mixture into your baking tray and pat down firmly with a wooden spoon. Add a few more marshmallows on the top but make sure there are still some left over for the topping.
  5. Bring a saucepan full of water to boil. Melt your milk chocolate in a glass bowl over the saucepan. Once melted, drizzle over your biscuit mixture in the cake tin, covering with a full layer of milk chocolate.
  6. Melt your white chocolate. Drizzle over your mixture in the cake tin to create a marbled effect.
  7. Add your cake decorations and M&Ms over the top. 
  8. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until hard. 
  9. Cut your Rocky Road into small squares and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long!!)

Chocolate Orange Checkerboard Cookies

Chocolate orange and Christmas go hand in hand for me. These checkerboard cookies are fun to make and look so pretty! Plus if you have a mini chess set you could probably play a game or two on these. They’re buttery biscuits that taste a bit like shortbread but with loads of flavour.

Ingredients:
Makes approx 25 cookies
Prep time: 3 hours (including chill time in the fridge)

  • 250g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, plus one egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange food colouring (I find the ‘gel’ or ‘paste’ food colourings work best – I used Sugarflair)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 385g plain flour
  • 35g cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar, either with an electric whisk or stand mixer.
  2. Add in your egg, egg yolk, baking powder and salt and beat again. Add in your flour and beat until combined.
  3. Divide your dough in half and place in separate mixing bowls. Ideally weigh your mixture and divide accurately.
  4. To one mixture, add your orange food colouring and orange extract and beat until combined.
  5. To the second mixture, add your cocoa powder and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  6. Place both mixtures in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, this is just to make the batter easier to handle ahead of the next few steps
  7. Shape each mixture into a rectangular log (roughly 5cm tall and 15cm long) and cover in cling film. Make sure the logs are the same size. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour (or the freezer for 30 minutes)

8. Using a sharp knife slice the dough into thirds, longwise. Then turn the dough one turn and cut into thirds again. You will have 9 strips. Repeat the process with the other dough. You will have 18 strips total.

9. Lay 1 piece of orange dough, one piece of chocolate, and another piece of orange on a flat surface next to each other. Top the 3 strips with alternating colours. Repeat this in 3 layers so you have a square log. Press the dough strips together tightly, keeping the square shape. Repeat this with the remaining dough, you will end up with 2 logs looking like the photo below. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge again for 30 minutes (or the freezer for 15 minutes)

10. Preheat your oven to 180c.
11. Slice your cookies into squares around 1.5cm thick and lay on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

Baileys Fudge

Bailey’s fudge is the ultimate Christmas fudge! It’s part chocolate, part Bailey’s (I put quite a lot in so each piece is quite boozy!). I love making fudge as a stocking filler for friends and family – they’re a great gift, or something nice to put on the dessert table. It really does take minutes to make, and stores well in the fridge for up to a month (if it lasts that long!) so it can easily be made ahead.

Ingredients:
Makes roughly 40-50 squares of fudge
Prep time: 10 minutes

  • 397g condensed milk (one can)
  • 600g chocolate (I used 300g dark and 300g milk but you can mix according to preference)
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 150ml Bailey’s

Method:

  1. Line a square baking tin with greaseproof paper. I used a 9in x 9in brownie tin which creates a decent depth for the fudge squares.
  2. Melt your chocolate and condensed milk on a low heat in a large saucepan, stirring continuously so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  3. Once melted, add your Bailey’s and continue to stir. The liquid should start to be absorbed.
  4. Add your icing sugar and stir through.
  5. Pour your mixture into your tin and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight so it’s easy to cut and not too sticky!
  6. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.