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Friday Night is Curry Night!

A few years ago, when I was still flatsharing in London, I lived with a girl called Justine. Before we’d even moved in together, we’d met up in a bar to sign the papers and got hilariously drunk on numerous cocktails. A bond over a mojito is unbreakable, well in our case it was anyway.

To this day it has been one of my happiest flatshares. We partied. We danced on the coffee table. We talked and talked. I introduced her to her now husband James. We cooked. And we had Friday night curry. This was tradition. Many years later, it still is. Today, married with a gorgeous daughter and a great new career as an interior designer, she still upholds this curry ritual when I visit on a Friday evening – we either order from the local curry house or she makes several dishes herself. All stunningly delicious might I add!

These are the little things that make our friendship something to cherish. We’ve seen each other through our very worst times but we also are each other’s biggest cheerleaders when life is good. It’s like having a second family. It’s irreplaceable.

I don’t claim this curry is going to be as good as anything Justine has made, but it’s most definitely in the spirit of Friday night!

Mushroom, Pepper and Pea Curry
Adapted from a recipe in Top Santé magazine from Anjum Anand

Ingredients
4tbsp vegetable oil
250g mixed mushrooms (oyster, shiitake and chestnut), cut into 2cm slices
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
6g fresh root ginger, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use my Cuisinart mini food processor to do the garlic and ginger together – it’s quicker!)
3 tomatoes, cored and blended into a purée (Cuisinart again but you can use a stick blender if needed)
1tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 red pepper
A handful of frozen peas
2 tbsps natural yoghurt (this is optional but I promise it makes it that little bit more special)
Chopped coriander, for garnish

Method
Heat 2tbsps of the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat another 2tbsps of oil and add the coriander seeds. Once these go darker, add the onion. Cook until golden. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook on low for 2 minutes. Pour in the spices and blended tomatoes, season and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in the pepper, peas and add a splash of water and cook for approximately 4 minutes (until the peppers have softening). Add the mushrooms, cover for a few minutes (I use foil). Finally stir in the yoghurt, bring back to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped coriander. Serve with boiled rice.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side dish.

NB: I have also made this by replacing the peas with spinach. Worth a try.

Papa, Winemaker

They say there is nothing like a free lunch, well John and I got a free lunch and some gorgeous wine to take home with us.

We were invited over to my Father’s chalet today for an al fresco lunch. View of the mountains. Sun shining. Lovely food. All accounted for. However, we hadn’t realised why my Dad had lured us there… to help him bottle his white wine. Back in August 2009, I recounted my Dad’s foray into winemaking. The Pinot Noir he produced in that first year was outstanding, very drinkable and dangerously moreish. He’s since bought a few more vineyards, including some white wine varieties such as Petite Arvine and Johannisberg. The plots are much smaller in size and therefore don’t need to be processed via Blaise Dubuis, a winemaker of the region.

John has had the chance to witness the process from beginning to end as he helped picked the grapes back in the autumn. The wine was kept in a container in the garage and had to go through several processes and tests. Today it was ready to be bottled. It took us 2 hours to fill and cork 120 bottles. It was a brilliant experience. And the wine? Made from Petite Arvine, Johannisberg and Marsanne grape varieties, it smells of green apples, it’s light and fresh, quite simply delicious. Just in time for summer.

Royally Speaking

One Royal Wedding party attended + Forty cupcakes delivered = Mission accomplished.

I was asked to provide cupcakes for a party John and I were invited to by a friend of his in Verbier. There was no real brief, apart from some ‘British’ frosting. After some pondering and some YouTube icing tutorials, an English rose, a crown and strawberries & cream made the final cut. One recipe is fairly traditional with butter, eggs and flour, the other calls for rice flour, grated courgette, ground almonds and strawberry jam. They went down a treat. Also, notice the handmade flags on each! A labour of love, I tell thee.

Vanilla cupcakes with Buttercream Icing (Rose & Crown)
Adapted from bbc.co.uk Food recipe

Ingredients
110g butter softened at room temperature
110g caster sugar
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g self-raising flour
1-2 tbsp milk

For the buttercream icing
140g butter, softened
280g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
a few drops food colouring (yellow and red)

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale. Beat in the eggs a little at a time and stir in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are half full.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the buttercream icing, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half the icing sugar and beat until smooth.

Then add the remaining icing sugar with one tablespoon of the milk, adding more milk if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Add the food colouring and mix until well combined.

Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the icing following this tutorial (third method for the rose and fourth for the crown).

Makes 12

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes
Slightly adapted from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood

Ingredients
2 free range eggs
160g caster sugar
200g finely grated courgette (peeled, topped and tailed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g rice flour
100g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

For the filling, some good quality strawberry jam

For the icing
50g butter, softened
150g icing sugar
50g mascarpone

12 fresh strawberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Whisk eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy.

Whisk in the grated courgette (I pat this with kitchen towel before adding to remove some of the moisture as it can make the cupcake mixture too runny) and vanilla extract. Then add in the rice flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Combine well.

Using a dessert spoon, ladle a couple of spoonfuls into each paper case. Add a teaspoon of jam, then cover with another spoonful of mixture to seal the jam. If your mixture is too runny, you might find that the jam drops to the bottom. Don’t worry, the cupcake is still delicious!

Place in the oven for 20 mins until risen and starting to go golden on top. Remove from oven and leave to cool for about 15 mins before transferring to the fridge to chill (it’s easier to ice cupcakes if they are cool).

For the icing, beat the butter with 50g of icing by hand until it turns into a paste. It’s usually best to use a wooden spoon, I used a fork though. Be patient, it takes a bit of time. Then add in 50g mascarpone and 50g icing sugar, using the same method until blended. Finally add the remaining 50g icing sugar and blend in well. Refrigerate until cupcakes are chilled.

Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the icing following the tutorial in the video linked above (first method for a twirl). Once iced, add a strawberry to each cupcake.

Makes 12.