On Friday evening I cooked away from home, in Pimlico, for my very good friend Jacky, who is recovering from surgery. Jacky is partly responsible for this blog, as she nicknamed me "Demon Cook" because of my ability to rustle up Nigella-ish feasts for friends, ladling out warming tagines and baking "Fran bread", my version of that Italian classic, focaccia. (Jacky also nicknamed me "Demon Shopper" for my habit of seeking out bargains and unusual shops....)
Most Friday evenings, I have a few friends round for an informal supper (what I would call a "kitchen supper" if I had a kitchen big enough to accommodate everyone). Because of the regularity of these suppers, I try to cook something new and interesting each week, though we do have firm favourites, such as kleftiko (Greek lamb stew), chicken-in-a-brick, and various aromatic and comforting tagines.
Since Jacky couldn't travel down to Teddington for supper, it seemed a sensible arrangement to take the food to her. I prepared a curry in advance, made onion and aubergine bhajis, and filled my Habitat tiffin tin with various goodies to be transported to Pimlico. A bottle of Cava and a slab of chocolate brownies completed the provisions. Jacky lives in a rather wonderful enclave of SW1, between Victoria Station and Vauxhall Bridge Road. I admit I'm rather envious of her living "in town", as it's one of my ambitions (when considerations such as schools/sixth-form colleges are no longer important). She can walk to work from her flat, and the streets around are full of cafés and wine bars, all buzzing with activity on Friday evening: it was a mild, fine night and there was a jolly pavement overspill outside the pubs and bars.
The curry is Yotam Ottolenghi's take on a Southern Indian curry - fragrant and gently spiced, with a sauce made from roasted garlic and coconut milk. Find the recipe here:
Coconut chicken with roast garlic and lime
You can do a cheffy version and present it like the picture, or, as I did, a rather more 'rustic' version, with lots of sauce to go with fluffy basmati rice.
I made classic chocolate brownies (which we greedily ate with Hagen Daaz ice-cream!), but I also like Nigella Lawson's flourless chocolate brownies, where the flour is replaced with ground almonds.
Flourless chocolate brownies
Onion bhajis are dead easy to make, and can be made in advance and even frozen until you need them. Heat them up in the oven. I tried aubergine and cauliflower bhajis as well. The aubergine ones were more successful. Cook's tip: add soda water to make the batter - gives a lovely crispness when the bhajis are deep-fried.
Explore more of Ottolenghi's fabulous recipes on here