“Indian Butter Shrimp” from “Dinner in an Instant”

One of the places where pressure cookers, and by extension, instant pots, excel is when making curries. Pressure cookers are apparently standard kitchen kit in Indian kitchens, because it enables you to make a curry much faster.

Even the New Yorker(!), of all publications, earlier this month published a profile of Urvashi Pitre, the “Butter-Chicken Lady”, who found her fame and fortune by originally posting a recipe for butter chicken on a Facebook group for Instant Pot fans. The article went on to be the most popular ever in the group, which led to her getting a publishing deal. Her cookbook, “Indian Instant Pot Cookbook,” published in September 2017, has already sold more than 100,000 copies. You can read the New Yorker profile here.

But still I approached this recipe with some trepidation. You see, it’s not that our family doesn’t love curry. We absolutely do. The problem was that we had our fair share of curry in 2017, what with Tim working in India for three months in the autumn, and the rest of us visiting him there for two weeks in October. We all returned home vowing to not eat another curry for a fair few months.

I shouldn’t have worried about making this. The delicious curry sauce overrode any qualms we may have had about eating curry again. The dish may have been boosted by the couldn’t-be-more-legit garam masala spice that Tim bought at an Indian supermarket and brought back for us. Also, since we were eating prawns/shrimp rather than chicken, this was a super-fast dish to make. Not Jamie Oliver 15 minutes fast, mind you, but still pretty quick.

Needless to say, our family is back on curries again. Next up? Butter chicken, from the Butter-Chicken Lady herself. (The New Yorker helpfully included the recipe at the end of the article. Check it out here.)

“Indian Butter Shrimp” from “Dinner in an Instant”

“Rose Pesto Prawn Pasta” from “5 Ingredients”

We had high hopes for this. After all, we’re huge fans of prawns in this house and this looked like a new way to serve them up with pasta.

But in what is fast becoming a theme to this book, this was a bit bland. It was bland even with me including far more red pesto than Jamie had recommended. Hard to believe that’s how it played out, but it’s true. I’m not sure what more it needed, or maybe the whole recipe was just a bit boring. I don’t know.

Maybe the problem was that it pales in comparison to our very favourite pasta with prawns, shrimp scampi. This is what the Americans call this dish, by the way. British scampi is much different– that’s deep-fried prawns. That’s also delicious, but it’s also very different.  American shrimp scampi is made by sauteeing garlic in butter and olive oil, adding white wine to make the sauce, tossing in some red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, adding the shrimps (or prawns, depending on whether you speak British or American), then finishing it off with parsley and lemon juice before putting over the pasta. See? Easy. Not to mention fast.

It’s not that this Jamie Oliver version was bad, mind you. It just wasn’t that good. But if you can stretch to 7 ingredients instead of five, I highly recommend making this shrimp scampi (from the always wonderful Melissa Clark) instead.

Jamie hasn’t posted this recipe online yet, so I can’t provide a link. You’re not missing much. 

“Rose Pesto Prawn Pasta” from “5 Ingredients”

“Red Coconut Curry Shrimp” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

Fish Friday!

Although, for the record, someone (read: my husband) once told me that prawns/shrimp do not count as fish. I think it’s high time I finally learn if he’s right. [Editor’s Note: Pause to do a quick Google search.] It turns out he’s right. According to Quora and FunTrivia.com, shrimp are crustaceans with the group of arthropods, though they are classified as seafood. You can learn something new every day. If you try.

Despite the above fact finding, I’m still making prawns on Fish Friday. Maybe I just need to call it Seafood Friday on the days we have shrimp/prawns.

This was a good meal. Although it did take a special trip to the supermarket to get some of the ingredients– I don’t usually have Thai red curry paste on hand– it was easy and quick to make. Everyone liked it.

There was only one small problem, and this is something we run into from time to time when we use a cookbook from a different country, in this case, America. The recipe called for daikon radish, which I guess must be relatively easy to source over there but is impossible to find over here. (Believe me, I tried.) Subbing in regular radishes was not an option, because they are completely different. So in the end I just ended up dropping the daikon radish from the recipe. It’s impossible to know if its absence made a difference. The curry was still good, though.

Needless to say, it was another winner from “Dinner.”



“Red Coconut Curry Shrimp” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

“Prawn Linguine” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”

IMG_5865Maureen: Fish Friday!

Tim: Actually, if we’re going to be technical, this would be Shellfish Friday.

Maureen: Whatever. What do you think?

Andrew (15): Yum.

Nicholas (11): It’s good.

Maureen: I like it, but it was pretty labour intensive.

Tim: In what way?

Maureen: It took a fair amount of time to peel the prawns, behead them and take out the veins. Maybe it’s just because I’m not so efficient at the job, but regardless, it took awhile.

Tim: How did you get the sauce so creamy?

Maureen: Do you really want to know? It might gross you out.

Tim: Yes.

Maureen: Before I explain this to you, I have to tell you that I double-checked with Julian the Fishmonger that this method was the way to do it, and he said, yes, absolutely. So what you do is you take all of the prawn heads and the shells and put them all in the pot with onion and tomatoes and the other stuff. Then you cook it down. Once it’s finished, you then whizz up the suace– heads, eyes, shells and all. But they you strain it to get out anny of the nasty bits, like the eyes that were floating around.

Nicholas: You mean we could have had an eye by accident?

Maureen: Possibly, but all the eyes I saw got strained out. So you don’t need to worry.

Andrew: I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to eat an eye.

Maureen: I’m with you on that, for sure.

Tim: Maybe next time get peeled prawns?

Maureen: But then we wouldn’t have the creamy tomato sauce that goes with it. I think it’s good, and it’s probably worth the effort, but it’s a tough dish to pull off on a weeknight, given that it took more than an hour to make.


“Prawn Linguine” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”

“Soba noodles, Salmon and Prawns” from Nigel Slater’s “Eat”.

Ella: Are these prawns? Because you know how much I love prawns!

Miles: I don’t like prawns.

Ella: I’ll have them!


Kirstin: Try one, Miles. You might be pleasantly surprised and it won’t kill you.

Ella: Don’t try one. Give them all to me!

Kirstin: The noodles were really hard to get hold of. I was in Chinatown and went to three different shops to try and find them. Admittedly it’s difficult to find anything in those shops because I don’t speak Chinese but still I thought it would be a good place to start. I ended up getting them in Sainsbury’s.

Ella: They are delicious. But this recipe would be better if it had more prawns.

Miles: I just ate my last prawn.

Kirstin: Did you like them? Good for you Miles! Thankfully I don’t know any fish jokes.

Ella: It could take a whale to think of one.

Miles: Are you shore about that?

Kirstin: Groan.

Tom: Oh Cod! These jokes are really getting out of hand. We used to just muck about and now they’re on a totally different scale.

Kirstin: OK. I am stopping the recording now. Because I can’t bear any more of these dreadful jokes.

“Soba noodles, Salmon and Prawns” from Nigel Slater’s “Eat”.

“Squid and Prawns with Chilli and Marjoram” from “Nigellissima”

If you would like to try this recipe for yourself click here.

Anna: Nigella suggests you serve this with black ‘venere’ Italian rice. I remember she had a previous recipe that called for this rice, maybe in Kitchen, I’m not sure. And I couldln’t find it anywhere. Until I stumbled on it in an hypermarch in France and bought 3 boxes. The problem is, as I recall now, I don’t actually like it that much.

Peter: Why is it black? Does it have squid ink in it?

Anna: No, I just think it’s black rice. So it’s probably very good for you. It makes the dish look very dramatic, which is the point I think.

Peter: It tastes ok to me. It compliments the seafood. I don’t think basmati would be the same.

Anna: It certainly has more bite than normal rice. But what we should discussing is the fish. What do think?

Peter: It was quite a small portion for me. Maybe it could be bulked up with some other fish?

Anna: It would be easy to do more squid and that’s always filling. It was definitely very light and I always like the combination of chilli, garlic and lemon. You can’t go wrong really. But this recipe is not rocking my world.

Peter: Another underwhelming recipe from Nigella?

Anna: It’s perfectly fine, and maybe it’s the rice that’s putting me off. She suggests serving it with pasta too which I think would work better.

“Squid and Prawns with Chilli and Marjoram” from “Nigellissima”

“Prawn Pasta Rosa” from “Nigellissima”

Peter: Ooh. Pasta-y prawn cocktail!

Anna: Yes, it is rather. I’m not sure if I love it.

Peter: The pasta is quite sticky.

Anna: That’s because it is fresh egg taglierini. Nigella does warn in the recipe that it ‘soaks up the sauce’ so I wasn’t too shocked when it clumped together. I should have added more of the cooking water than I did.

Peter: It’s ok. I’m not sure it’s a classic.

Anna: Yes. On the positive side it was super quick and super easy. But I agree. I’m a bit underwhelmed. Which is a disappointment. I don’t think I’ll be making this again. Sorry Nigella.

“Prawn Pasta Rosa” from “Nigellissima”