Saturday 14 April 2018

Lunch for 18!

Me prepping the lunch for 18 in my favourite apron!
One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it gives you the opportunity to come into contact with some amazingly talented people, one such person is Helen Dyne, a glass artist with an extraordinary talent.  I first spotted some of Helen’s creations on facebook, followed her page, got talking and I am very happy to now call her my friend. 

For the last couple of years Helen has held glass workshops at her home and has asked me to cater for the lunch which I jumped at the chance at doing.  The first time it was very much a learning curve, it is never quite the same cooking in a strange kitchen and never assume that people will have the same equipment as you!  I still can’t believe you didn’t have a microwave Helen!  

Second time around I was more prepared despite the fact I was to be cooking for 18, two of whom were vegetarians.  Given the numbers I thought the best option was to make up two curries, a chicken tikka masala and a chickpea and spinach curry - recipes below.

As a man of leisure, it gave me the opportunity to make both curries the day before which certainly saved any stresses on the day.  I also made up a batch of cucumber raita and decided to make my tomato, onion and coriander chutney on the day as it doesn’t really keep too well overnight and looses its vibrant colour.

I have to say everything went to plan, literally other than making up the tomato chutney I only had to heat up the curries and make some rice to go with it, couldn’t be simpler. 

  Luckily Helen has a rather large kitchen with a central aisle from which I was able to plate up comfortably.  Thankfully I had made a large batch of the vegetarian option as despite the fact one of the vegetarian guests not turning up, the whole lot was hungrily devoured along with the chicken option, they both seemed to be a resounding hit along with the dips and poppadum’s.

Many thanks once again Helen for having the trust in me to pull this off, I loved it.  It was great to see you and the rest of the gang and hopefully I will get to do it again some time. 

Feedback from the day:

 "Spending the day with dear friends Helen Dyne and Chris, on her fabulous glass making day, being fed by the very talented food guru Mark Popkiewicz just doesn’t get much better ......... some beautiful pieces of work completed and straight into the kilns for the kiln fairies to do their job xxx"

"Thanks Helen for a great day, loved it; really enjoyed making my angel, delicious lunch and great to catch up. I'd like a place on the next one please"

I definitely suggest that you check out Helens facebook page, you will be amazed at what she can do with glass, a genuine real talent.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Tikka Masala
  • 4 skinless, chicken breasts
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • a thumb sized piece of fresh root ginger
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander
  • vegetable oil
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/2 a 283g jar of pataks tikka masala curry paste
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 * 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1 * 400ml tin of coconut milk

Slice the chicken breasts lengthways into 2cm thick strips.

Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Finely slice the chilli. Peel and finely slice the ginger. Pick the coriander leaves and put to one side, then finely chop the stalks.

Put a large casserole type pan on a medium to high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil and the butter.

Add the onions, chilli, ginger and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes until softened and golden.

Add the curry paste and the chicken strips. Stir well to coat everything with the paste and season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes and the coconut milk. Fill one fo the empty cans with water, pour into the pan and stir again.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.

Check the curry regularly to make sure it's not drying out and more water if necessary.

When the meat is tender and cooked taste and season if necessary.  This recipe should feed 6 comfortably.  

Chickpea & Spinach Curry

  • 1 tblsp ghee or sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tsps. curry powder
  • 2 tsps. garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tin (380g) chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tin (390g) chopped tomatoes
  • 4 medium sized (300g) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 400 - 500ml vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g fresh spinach

Heat the ghee/oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened.
Add all the spices and cook for a further 1 minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes, salt and about half of the vegetable stock. Stir well and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked adding more stock as needed.
Add the spinach and cook for a further couple of minutes or until the spinach has wilted.

Recipe courtesy of

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