20th September 2018
It’s time to cook like an adult...
Time to take basic cooking skills to the next level...
At Key & Quill HQ, one of us can claim to have ventured just beyond the basics of cooking, while the other cannot. Shamefully, the former didn’t consider mastering it beyond the university staples until the age of 29, and the latter still can't make a Thai green curry without the help of a jar.
It was just under a year ago that I succumbed to societal pressure and signed up to a Netflix subscription. It seemed to me that films were getting worse (sorry, Marvel) and television was getting better. At the time, in my naivety, I was convinced that I could resist the allure of binge-watching and maintain a healthy diet of ‘little but often’.
But in this, just like many other things, I was wrong: Entire 24-part series comprising hour-long episodes swallowed up my free time. This couldn’t last, as I had other things to do, like, y’know, living and such.
My plan? Multi-tasking. Thanks to being able to watch Netflix on any screen, I started playing my favourite shows in the background as I taught myself to cook. Our average weeknight dinner takes me around an hour to prepare and cook – the perfect amount of time to squeeze in an episode of The Crown (all hail, Claire Foy!).
Now, my evenings aren't disappearing into the black hole of Netflix, and it’s given me motivation to seek out new recipes to create as I decide whether I like Piper Chapman from Orange Is the New Black. Many of these dishes come from Natalie Seldon of Pretty Edible Stylist, because they’re just so damn tasty...
Natalie Seldon’s lentil, Biancoli cauliflower and chickpea red Thai curry
1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2-3cm fresh root ginger, grated
1 lemongrass, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, finely chopped, plus extra for serving if you wish
3 tbsp good-quality red curry paste
250g Biancoli tenderstem cauliflower, chopped into short lengths
200g kalettes, larger sprouts sliced in half
1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
100g pak choi, leaves removed
1 tbsp fish sauce (to make this vegan-friendly, substitute with 1 tbsp soy sauce and a pinch of sea salt)
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin green lentils, drained
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
A large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, or Thai basil leaves, plus extra to serve
A squeeze of lime, plus 1 lime, sliced to serve
- Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli and cook for one minute before adding the curry paste. Stir for a couple of minutes, then add the cauliflower, kalettes, pepper and pak choi.
- Add the fish sauce, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas. Cook on a simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the coriander with a squeeze of lime and season to taste with pepper. Add 100ml of water at a time if you feel the dish needs more liquid.
- Serve with brown basmati rice or similar, extra fresh coriander, chopped chilli and lime wedges.
Vegan red curry paste
3-4 red chillies, roughly chopped
4 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 stems lemongrass
2 tsp fresh ginger
4 large cloves garlic
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
- Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until fragrant, tossing frequently. Grind up in a pestle and mortar afterwards.
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until you have a chunky paste.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze in 4 tbsp portions for up to 3 months.
Recipe, styling and photography: Natalie Seldon (award-winning food writer, stylist and author of The Goodness of Nuts & Seeds, available to buy at Amazon and all good bookshops)