Monthly Archives: April 2008

Cashew Chicken & Puris

Today in our house, Monday has been officially declared “Curry Monday”, with the aim of me trying more or less every recipe in my new favourite Indian cookbook. What makes it even better is that all of the curries in the book can been made within 30 min, quicker than visiting the local Balti to pick up a takeaway! Usually I do a fancier rice like pulao riceto accompany curries, but as were tasting new curries I’m sticking to plain basmati rice for the time being so I don’t overwhelm the flavours.

Tonight was Cashew Chicken’s turn. The original recipes does use chicken thigh, but I’m a funny one when it comes to meat and don’t like the texture of thigh meat (I told you I was odd!) and it also has quite a sizable amount of apricots in. You can add them if you want, but I prefer apricots in my granola rather than curry.

To go with the curry Hubby made some spiced Puris. Puris are puffed up deep-fried bread and are often used as the base of dishes like chicken chat. I left the puris in the capable hands of Hubby as I have a well known fear of frying. Not the healthiest, but goodness are they moreish. They had just enough chilli kick to complement the curry perfectly.

The curry turned out to be very similar to a lovely salty/sour curry I had a few weeks ago in a restaurant. Very delicious. I had to hide the portion I had put aside for my lunch tomorrow from Hubby as he was very tempted to scoff it. I’m sure if you added the apricots it would sweeten it.

Cashew Chicken
Serves 2

3 shallots, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
30g cashew nuts
1 garlic clove
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 dsp lemon juice
1 dsp plain yogurt
3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 chicken fillets, diced
150 ml chicken stock

1) Blitz the shallots, tomato puree, cashew nuts, garlic, turmeric, salt, lemon juice and yogurt until you have a smooth paste. In a pan fry off the paste for 2 min.

2) Add the chicken and coriander to the pan. Fry for a further 2-3 min. Pour in chicken stock. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until chicken is cooked.

Spiced Puris
Makes 8

110g atta (chapatti) flour
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp water
sunflower oil for frying

1) Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Gradually add the water until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Split dough into 8 balls, then roll out to make rounds about 3 inches across

2) Fill deep pan with about 2-3 inches of oil. Heat to 180oc (when a cube of bread browns in 30 sec). Cook puris in small batches. After a few seconds of being in the oil the puris will puff up. Turn over and continue to fry until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Makin’ bacon … plus salami & chorizo – part 1

This post should really be titled “The Hubby who wants to be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall”, oh and I before I go on I suggest veggies, click away now! Hubby’s first flit with being Hugh started last summer when he built a clay oven in the back garden. Give him his due it turned out to be a fab oven and that blog post still remains one of my top google hits. With summer just about here Hubby has put his Hugh hat back on.

This time it’s the turn of nettle Beer, bacon, salami & chorizo. It has reached the point to where he has built his own smoker and the outhouse has become the place of preserved meat all hanging from the beams. All of this has come about since I purchased Meat. I am thinking of also buying Fish, but am a bit hesitant as to the fact I may come home one day and find Hubby filleting a huge fish ready to smoke in his homemade smoker!

A couple of weeks ago hubby started on the cured belly pork, which in theory will turn into streaky bacon. He dry cured it with salt, peppercorns and bay leaves, wrapped it in muslin then hung it in the outhouse to dry for a week. The first time we tried it, it was unbearably salty because Hubby hadn’t washed the salt cure off properly so after a good soaking in water and another week of hanging it’s now tasting a great deal more edible. In the next few weeks he is planning to smoke half of it. Some people use saltpetre to maintain the colour of the meat however were unable to get our hands on saltpetre (unbeknown to us at the time apparently used in bomb making) not surprisingly the woman in Holland & Barret gave us a rather scared look when we asked for it!

This weekend Hubby’s new sausage making kit arrived so he decided to try and make chorizo and salami. The basic method for the two are very similar apart from chorizo has paprika and the salami he made had different spices and pistachios in it. I have to admit I left him too it. The sight of the ox runners (intestines) were reminding me too much of specimens I studied during the Parasitology module in Uni! Given the fact I was slightly freaked out by the ox runners the meat mixes he made up smelt very authentic. These sausages are also now hanging up in the outhouse. I look forward to trying them in about 4 weeks time. The Cottage Smallholder are also curing pork and salami at the moment and it has been great reading their blog and getting tips.

Queen of Puddings

Every month Rosie from Rosie Bakes a “Peace” of Cake, runs a blog event based around great British puddings. This month was Queen of Puddings. I haven’t had the pudding before, but have always been intrigued by it. In good old British pudding style it uses simple storecupboard ingredients and/or leftovers.

How this pudding had slipped my pudding radar for so many years, I don’t know! It was pure comfort and at the same time not being too heavy. It would be lovely served with cream or vanilla icecream. The original recipe for Queen of Puddings can be found at Rosie’s link above. As there is only 2 of us I halved it and served it in ramekins.

Queen of Puddings
makes 3 ramekins

35g fresh breadcrumbs, made for day old bread
13g butter
Grated rind of quarter of a lemon
50g caster sugar
1 large egg – separated
1/4 pt of milk (both whole and semi-skimmed work)
4 tsp raspberry jam – heated through

1) Preheat oven to 180oc. Bring to the boil the milk, half of the sugar, butter and lemon rind. Take off the heat then stir in breadcrumbs. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.

2) Beat the egg yolk into the breadcrumb mixture. Pour the breadcrumb mixture into your well buttered ramekins and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then gently spread the warmed jam over the top.

3) Beat the egg white until stiff, then gently fold in the sugar. Pile the meringue on top of the jam, making sure you spread it to the edges of the dish, sealing in the jam. Bake for a further 20 minutes or until the meringue is set and lightly browned.

St George’s Day – Bangers & Mash

Today in England we celebrate St George’s day. To mark the day I decided to cook some truly British grub in the form of bangers (sausage) and mash with caramelised onion and cider gravy…just a shame the dish didn’t really go with the beautiful warm Spring day we have experienced today with the temperatures touching 20oc.

The sausages were delicious apricot and sage sausages and I believe sausages are the few savory foods that can get away with a pinch of fruit in them. Hubby has a sasuage making kit winging it’s way to him now, so soon we’ll hopefully be having a go and making our own sausages.

Bring on the summer I say – BBQ’s, Pimms, Eton Mess, raspberries, eating alfresco, drinking wine on the patio, drinking cider with friends while camping…need I say more.

Bombay Chicken Masala

On Sunday evening I had all good intentions of writing an account of our cold, blustery, but fun weekend camping in the Peak District…however I borrowed someones compact digital camera and am struggling to get the photos off. That post will have to wait!

I’m a big fan of Indian food and slowly I’m learning how to cook curries at home from scratch that are just as good as the local Balti House. When we first moved into our cottage 3 years ago my Mum gave me a copy of 30-minute Indian by Sunil Vijayakar. Back then I wasn’t the most confident cook and the list of ingredients scared me, so the cookbook sat at the back bookshelf. In the summer of last year, I dusted the book down and decided to have another go.

Tonight I wanted to cook a curry that didn’t involve cream/coconut cream (like most curries I cook do) and found a recipe in 30-min Indian for Bombay Chicken Masala. What I like about this cookbook is that it tells you how to cook a curry from scratch, unlike the majority of food mags that tell you to use ready-made curry paste. I’ll hold my hands up to using Thai curry paste at the moment as I can’t get hold of the right ingredients near me, but considering I’m not too far from the Curry Capital of the UK I can get my hand on Indian ingredients relatively easily. Along with the curries, it also tells you how to make the accompaniments including paneer, barfi and puris.

I have to admit I was a bit scared when I saw the amount of chillis going into the curry, but there was no need to worry. It produced a beautifully fragrant, light curry where you could taste the chillis rather than having your head blown off by them. We really enjoyed the curry and am planning to cook some more from this cookbook soon.

Bombay Chicken Masala
Serves 2

3 shallots, roughly chopped
3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
70ml water
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 chicken fillets, cut into strips
125ml chicken stock
salt & pepper

1) In a blender blitz shallots, chillies, garlic, ginger, ground coriander, cumin, coriander leaves and water until you have a paste.

2) In a wok, heat rapeseed oil then fry paste for 1 min. Keep stirring, or it’ll stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken, stir until thoroughly coated in the paste and cook for a further 2-3 min.

3) Pour in stock, cover and gently simmer for 10-12min until chicken is tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

The Great Outdoors

Hubby and I have a big love of the great outdoors. Although we kept the walking up during the winter we were hankering to get back under canvas. Compared to many we are quite hardcore campers, but I do put my foot down on wild camping!

We’ve just spent the weekend at Edale, camping at Fieldhead Campsite. The thing I love about camping and walking is that it is pure escapism. I can stand on the top of a mountain/hill/tor and feel a million miles away from things that may be worrying me.

However the one thing that slips when camping is where my foodie halo. Using the equipment we use, minimal storage and no refrigeration plus the need to have a high carb/energy meal to keep us going it isn’t the easiest cooking. In the summer we often have BBQ’s but may campsites we stay at don’t allow BBQ’s so we have to use our highly refined, state of the art *tongue in cheek* meths stove. Anyone who has ever done a Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions will have fond/hateful* (*delete as appropriate) memories of meths stoves and how they have the ability to taint everything you eat with meths. On the Friday night after our starter of cider and nuts (don’t ask, it’s a camping tradition) we had some rehydrated chicken korma and shepherds pie. Delia would be proud as all it required was 300ml of boiling water and 5 mins…voila, a “tasty, nutritious” meal. Friday night was cold, plus the strong winds didn’t help. Over night, inside the tent it reached 4oc. A breakfast of porridge was certainly very welcoming.

On the Saturday we decided another evening meal of rehydrated food really wasn’t keeping our cockles warm so we headed off to the local pub called The Old Nag’s Head in Edale. It turned out to be a fab pub perfect for walkers where you could keep your muddy boots on while being served with big mugs of tea and hearty traditional pub fayre around a roaring fire. I had a very nice broccoli and cheese bake and Hubby had a delicious lamb stew served in a huge Yorkshire Pudding.

Sunday we arranged to meet up with one of my friends and conquer Derwent Edge alongside Ladybower Reservoir. The hike was certainly one of the hardest I’ve done in a while, but it was very exhilarating. Just as shame for most of the time we were walking above the cloud base and didn’t get to see the views over the whole Peak District that are meant to be stunning. Well at least it’s another excuse to visit the area on a day where the weather is better!

Mushroom and Spinach Pancake Bake

With spring ever so slowly emerging, the pots lined with vegetable seeds are beginning to sprout and open fire is being lit less and less. With this spring excitement Hubby has come all Hugh F-W (again!) and has had a go at curing his own pork and making nettle beer. The pork is still drying and the beer still brewing so in a week or so I hope to write about Hub’s Foodie Adventures…but don’t get too excited about the nettle beer. We had a sip of the beer tonight and in Hubby’s words “it isn’t nasty, but it isn’t exactly nice” …hmmmm I think I’ll be staying away from this slightly carbonated home brew that looks worryingly like dirty dish water.

The week of dinners from Delicious continues. I’ve recently become a fan of the magazine and switched my subscription for GFM to Delicious. The recipes are far more inspiring and don’t use as many cheat ingredients as GFM does. Saying that tonight’s recipe did call for ready-made pancakes. Me being me, refuses to buy ready-made pancakes so made my own. The dish turned out really well. Hubby commented on how meaty the mushrooms were. It’s so simple and I’m surprised I hadn’t thought about it before. In the future I’m going to try it with different fillings. Sorry for the not so perfect pictures. I forgot to switch the kitchen light on while taking the photo so have had to do some serious photoshopping to get the colour as best as I can.

Mushroom and Spinach Pancake Bake
Serves 2-4

Makes around 6 pancakes

115g plain flour
300ml milk
pinch of salt
1 egg

For the main dish
7 large field mushrooms
1 tsp garlic paste (or 1 garlic clove)
225g spinach, wilted and the water squeezed out
25g butter
25g plain flour
300ml milk
40g Gruyere, grated

1) Sift the flour for the pancakes and salt into a bowl. Crack egg into well then gradually whisk in pancake milk. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate batter for 1 hour (optional).

2) Heat non-stick frying pan to med-hot. Pour a ladle of batter into the frying pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. As bubbles begin to appear under the batter flip the pancake over. Once cooked pile on a plate with a piece of greaseproof paper between each pancake. They can be made in advance.

3) Preheat oven to 180oc. Fry the mushrooms for around 5 minutes, add the garlic then fry for a further minute. Put to one side

4) In a medium saucepan melt the butter then stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook for 2 min then gradually whisk in the milk. Keep stirring as it begins to simmer. Keep simmering until the sauce has thickened. Take off the heat and stir a small pinch of nutmeg and 1/2 of the cheese.

5) Roll up each pancake with some of the spinach, mushrooms and a small amount of sauce. Place in a baking dish. Repeat with the other pancakes. Pour the remaining sauce over the pancakes in the dish and bake for 20 min, until bubbling and golden.

Lamb, Pistachio & Mint Burgers

Apologies for the lack of updates. What with going back to work after the Easter Holiday I lost my cooking mojo. I cooked a dire cake at the weekend and it knocked my confidence even more…but I’m back!

In this months Delicious magazine there is tonnes of fab sounding recipes…to be honest most of this weeks dinners are based on Delicious recipes. Tonight we tried lamb, pistachio and mint burgers. The only alterations I made was to use couscous instead of bulgur wheat, cook them in the oven and omit the sultanas (don’t get me started on fruit in savoury dishes!) The burgers were really, really delicious and we’ll be trying them again soon.

Lamb, Pistachio & Mint Burgers
Makes 4 small burgers

30g couscous
300g lamb mince
2 tbsp pistachios, chopped
1 tbsp mint
1 tsp garlic paste

1) Preheat oven to 200oc. Pour boiling water over couscous, until it is just covered, stir. Cover bowl in cling film and leave for 8 min. After 8 min there should be no water left. Fluff couscous up with a fork

2) Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (I find it easier to use my hands to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined). Shape into 4 burgers. Cook on a lightly oiled baking tray for 25-30 min.

April snow

The past few days we have witnessed all the 4 seasons, often within a few hours of each other. On Thursday I was walking around town in a short-sleeved top and this morning awoke to find 2 inches of snow blanketing the ground and to make it even more beautiful there was a bright blue sky. I love this kind of weather, even if it is April!

I’m just hoping the snow hasn’t killed off some of the things we planted a few weeks ago, the poor rhubarb is looking very sorry for itself.

One Perfect Ingredient

I have been lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Marcus Wareing’s new cookbook One Perfect Ingredient – three ways to cook it, a follow on from his successful How To Cook The Perfect which was released in 2007. The cookbook is all about taking one simple everyday ingredient, using a simple recipe and ending up with great home cooking. My kind of cookery!

To say the cookbook was inspiring is an understatement. Within 30 min of me receiving the book I was in the kitchen whipping up the gingerbread on p188. As you can see from the photo below, it was delicious and perfect with a cuppa.

I love the way the book is split up into sections with my personal favourite being “store cupboard”. There is great recipes throughout the book using everyday ingredients in a different way. For example with the humble carrot he makes makes Carrot & Coriander Galette, Three-Carrot Salad with Feta and a Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting; all of which sound delicious. The photos accompanying the recipes are mouthwatering.

To have a chance of winning a copy of One Perfect Ingredient pop along to Maninas: Food Matters. Be quick the competition closes on the 7th April.

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