You may be the most seasoned of travellers, but this does not mean you never feel homesick. It can be a niggling little feeling, easily pushed to the back of your mind when you start making exciting plans for tomorrow, or it can hit you hard. When you have been away from family and friends, all things familiar to you, for a prolonged length of time, it is only natural to miss them every once in a while. What do you do when this happens?
I tried a new approach recently – hitting the kitchen to whip up some familiar flavours.
Here are some recipes I would like to share with you: Tastes from my home, ultimate comfort foods.
Mum’s Curried Cream of Parsnip Soup
I feel it is important to point out here that I do not like parsnips. Nope, not at all. But when Mum brings in giant parsnips from the garden and turns them into this delicious soup, my mouth begins to water. I got the recipe from her and tried making it for myself for the first time, here is Australia. It turned out to be a great success. Best served with warm, crispy, fresh bread, and enjoyed on a cold winter’s day.
Serves 4 to 8 people. Can be frozen.
You will need:
2 medium sized parsnips – chopped
1 onion – chopped
1 large potato – diced
2.5 cm root ginger – roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
3 tsp curry powder
750 ml vegetable stock
1 chicken stock cube
300 ml milk
150ml single (pouring) cream
coriander or chives – freshly chopped to garnish
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the parsnip, onion and potato and cook gently for 5 minutes. Put the ginger in a garlic press, squeeze juice into the pan then add the garlic and curry powder. Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.
Add the stock and the stock cube. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Allow to cool a little and blend in a liquidizer or food processor with the milk. Return to the pan. Adjust the seasoning if desired, and add the cream, reserving a little for garnishing. Reheat gently without boiling.
Garnish with a crack of black pepper, a swirl of cream, and a spinkling of coriander or chives! Chicken Tikka Masala
My country’s national dish. Undisputedly one of the most popular comfort foods in the UK, I was brought up on this rich, tomatoey curry. When we moved to France – where there isn’t an Indian restaurant for miles around – Dad perfected his curry making skills, and Tikka Masala is a staple on our menu at home, putting in an appearance as often as once a week.
Serves 10. Can be frozen. You will need:
4 tbsp oil
4 onions – roughly chopped
5 cloves of garlic – crushed
6 tbsp chicken tikka masala paste (use shop-bought or make your own – see recipe, below)
2 red peppers – deseeded and cut into chunks
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into bite size cubes
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato purée
400ml coconut cream
150ml natural yogurt
coriander leaves – chopped, to serve Method:
Heat the oil and butter in a large, lidded casserole on the hob, then add the onions,garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes until soft and golden. Add the paste and peppers, then cook for 5 minutes more to cook out the rawness of the spices.
Add the chicken and stir well to coat in the paste. Cook for 2 minutes, then tip in the tomatoes, purée and half the coconut cream. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the lid, stir through the remaining coconut cream and yogurt, then gently warm through. Season, then set aside whatever you want to freeze.
Scatter the rest with coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice and naan bread. Making your own curry paste:
In a small food processor, whizz together 5 garlic cloves, 1 large knob of fresh root ginger, roughly chopped, 1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped, 2 tsp each ground cumin and coriander, 1 tsp each turmeric, paprika and garam masala, and the seeds from 4 cardamom pods. Add a little water or vegetable oil to bring the paste together. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.
No-Bake Vanilla Cheesecake with Berries
An English style chilled cheesecake, easy to make, looks impressive, and tastes DE-VINE. Mum and I tend to make it in little individual ramekins for portion control, as we cannot be trusted with one big cake (yes, we absolutely would grab a spoon each and demolish the entire thing!) It is buttery, it is creamy, it is light and fluffy, it is terrible for you – but, oh, so worth it. Perfect in winter, summer, for dessert or for breakfast. In fact I am eating some as I write this.
Serves 1 to 6 people, depending how much of a sweet tooth you have. Don’t worry, there will not be any left to freeze.
For the base you will need:
150g digestive biscuits
100g butter Method:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Place the biscuits in a zip-lock bag and crush them into a fine powder using a rolling pin or silimar. Add the buscuit powder to the melted butter and mix. Press the mixture into a cake tin or small individual dishes. Cool and chill for at least 20 minutes. (Make sure you don’t put too much butter in, as the base will go too hard). For the topping you will need:
300g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
100ml whipping cream
1 to 2 punnets of your favourite berries (I went for raspberries and blueberries) Method:
Whip the cream cheese with the icing sugar (you may find this easier with an electric whisk). Add the cream and whip again. Put on to the base and chill for 24 hours (if you can possibly wait that long. If not, keep checking your cheesecake and eat it as soon as it seems to have set.) Scatter the berries on top, and grab a spoon!