Since the pandemic lockdown in March meant that they had to cancel many crucial fundraising events, Sobell House, Oxford's local hospice based at the Churchill Hospital, has had to innovate. The result, Food and Kindness: The Sobell House Cookbook, will soon be on sale; filled with wonderful recipes, contributed by some of the charity's famous supporters (including Stephen Fry, and former Bake Off stars Mary Berry, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc) and some well-loved local restaurants.
Buying the book, whether as a Christmas present for the foodie in your life or to expand your own repertoire, will mean that not only are you supporting the specialist end-of-life and palliative care that Sobell provides to local people with life-limiting illnesses, but you can also learn culinary secrets from some of your favourite venues.
The local restaurants and caterers who have contributed recipes include: Cherwell Boathouse, the White Hart in Fyfield, the Butcher's Arms, Arbequina, Aziz, Bhoomi Kitchen, The Black Horse, No.1 Ship Street, Barefoot Bakery and many more.
To give you an idea of the delicious treats you can learn how to master, the publisher have very kindly supplied us with this recipe, for Aubergine Curry from Oli's Thai. Bon appetit!
The Oli's Thai team say: "This has become the most popular dish in the restaurant. We wanted to do a twist on a red curry, using roasted European aubergines. We first cooked this for Ru’s cousin and it remains her favourite dish to this day. Don’t be scared to burn the edges, that’s where the flavour is!"
Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Serves: 4
For the paste
1 tbsp coriander seeds
Small pinch of cumin seeds
1 tbsp dried Dutch chillies, some seeds removed
75g lemongrass, cut thinly across
25g galangal, cut thinly across
1 tbsp table salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
35g garlic, peeled
25g shallots, roughly chopped
40g big red chillies
For the curry
8 tbsp vegetable oil
190ml coconut milk
30ml water or stock
80g fine green beans, halved
2 spring onions, cut into 3cm chucks
Handful of Thai basil
3 lime leaves, torn up
20g caster sugar
80ml coconut cream
50ml soy sauce
For the paste
Firstly, toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan over a low heat until golden. Once cool, put them in a spice grinder with the dried Dutch chillies and blitz to a fine consistency. With a pestle and mortar, pound a small quantity of the lemongrass and galangal together until smooth, adding more until you have used them all. Add the salt and pepper, then the other ingredients one at a time, pounding the mixture to a fine consistency before adding the next. Finally, add the blitzed dry spices and mix well. If you are using a blender to make the paste, add all the fresh ingredients and blitz until fine. Then add the coriander and cumin seeds, chillies, salt and pepper.
For the curry
Preheat the oven to 180°c. Prepare the aubergines, cutting each one lengthways into 10 or 12 wedges. For each wedge, cut along the flesh making a deep incision nearly reaching the skin and repeat, leaving 1 to 2cm gaps between each cut. Put them onto a baking tray and drizzle with five tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. Don't be alarmed if the edges burn slightly, this will give the finished curry extra flavour.
Put the remaining vegetable oil into a large pan on a low heat and add the curry paste. Cook the paste for a couple of minutes until you see the oil separate. Increase the heat and add the coconut milk, stock, green beans, spring onion, basil, lime leaves and sugar then cook for about 2 to 3 minutes while stirring continuously. Turn the heat down low, add the coconut cream and soy sauce, then simmer gently until the beans are cooked, which should take about 3 to 5 minutes.
Place the roasted aubergine wedges in a bowl and pour over the sauce. Garnish with basil leaves.