Monthly Archives: May 2008

Curry Monday – Kheema Aloo

The inspiration for this weeks Curry Monday came from my brother. He had originally asked for me to do a Lamb Methi, but as I didn’t have any fenugreek leaves decided to make Kheema Aloo, Kheema meaning spicy minced meat and Aloo, dry curry.

My goodness was this curry hot. I didn’t put in as much chilli powder as the recipe suggested, but it was still very very spicy! I ended up stirring some cream into mine in an attempt to cool it down.

Things are a bit manic over the next week so don’t expect another update until next Sunday or Monday. A week today Hubby and I celebrate our 1st Wedding Anniversary. I can’t believe how fast a year has gone. Coincidentally our wedding photos are featured in the Real Life section of this months edition of Wedding Ideas. As to which couple we are…I’ll leave you to guess.

Keema Aloo
Serves 2-3

1 1/2 tsp rapeseed oil
2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
250g minced lamb
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder (less if you don’t want it spicy)
1 tsp grated ginger
pinch of salt
3 small potatoes cut into small cubes
1/2 can (200g) chopped tomatoes
50ml hot water
2 tbsp fresh coriander

1) Heat the oil then fry cardamom, cinnamon and cloves for 3 mins.

2) Add the lamb along with garam masala, chilli, garlic, ginger and salt. Stir well then cook for 5 min.

3) Stir in potatoes water and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 10-15, until potatoes are cooked.

Cream Tea

Films, literature, a walk through York or London and even browsing wikipedia will make you believe that us Brits drop everything mid-afternoon and eat Afternoon Tea or Cream Tea. Trust me, I don’t know a single person who regularly eats Cream Tea, I bet even the Queen doesn’t. However, with the current trend of getting back to the good, simple things in life; the comforting cream tea is making a come back. Hurrah!

Traditionally Cream Tea consists of scones slathered in jam and tea accompanied with a cup of tea. There is a big dispute amongst Cream Tea purists as to which order the jam and cream should be put on the scone. I believe a thick layer of raspberry or strawberry jam followed buy a dollop of clotted cream from the local dairy makes the perfect Cream tea. The other way is to put the cream on first then the jam, known as the Devonshire Cream Tea.

A few months back Hubby’s Grandma gave me a old cookbook of hers. The cover is missing and it’s full of interesting notes and recipes. I think it’s Good Housekeeping – The Home Book dating from the mid 1920’s, essentially all about how to be a good housewife. Although some of the tips and recipes you won’t get my trying in a million years (braised calf head anyone?) there are lots of articles that ring true today in 2008. Eating in season, cleaning without chemicals, reducing waste.

The first and last time I made scones was about 15 years ago in Home Economics. My scones then were not very successful and tasted dry and bitter. Today I decided to give them another go and using one of grandma’s recipes. One problem with old recipes is that they can be a bit vague with temperatures. My usual rule of “if in doubt bake at 200oc” worked well. Apart from me being a bit overenthusiastic when rolling out the dough, they turned out perfect and light. If you want you can replace the bicarb and cream of tartar with 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder.

Mixed Fruit Scones
Makes 12 small scones

225g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
25g caster sugar
40g butter
pinch of salt
50g mixed fruit
1/4 pint of milk
1 egg, beaten

1) Sieve the flour, salt, bicarb and cream of tartar into a basin. Rub in the butter, add the sugar and mixed fruit. Gradually stir in milk until you have a smooth dough.

2) Turn out onto a floured surface and roll until about 2cm thick. Cut into rounds and place on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment. Brush the top of each scone with beaten egg. Bake at 200oc until golden and firm. Cool on a wire rack.

Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Risotto

Now the British Asparagus season is in full swing we’ve been taking advantage and eating asparagus in a large amount of meals. With some roast chicken left I decided to make a risotto. Perfect for this time of year. We both really enjoyed it.

Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Risotto
Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
1 big clove of garlic, chopped
200g risotto rice
100ml white wine
400ml hot chicken stock
6 spears of asparagus, chopped into 1/3
handful of cooked chicken
2 dsp lemon juice
knob of butter
half a handful of parmesan

1) Gently fry shallots and garlic in the olive oil in a deep saucepan for 3 min. Add rice and stir for a further 2-3 until the rice is translucent.

2) Pour in the wine and turn up the heat until the wine is absorbed. Gradually add stock 1 ladle at a time, each time waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. After the first ladle of stock stir in the asparagus, after the 2nd ladle add the chicken. After the last ladle of stock has been added stir in lemon juice.

3) The risotto is ready once all the stock has been absorbed and the rice has a slight bite. Stir in parmesan and butter. Leave for 2-3 min before serving.

Curry Monday – Oil Free Chicken Curry

Sunday I cooked a chicken so had a load of leftover chicken that I wanted to use in a curry. I bookmarked Sunita’s Oil Free Curry recipe a few weeks ago as it looked so delicious. Well the delicious looking photos were right. The recipe made a lovely creamy and quick curry. Perfect for a mid-week meal. It has to be one of my favourite curries I’ve cooked recently.

The only alteration I made to the recipe was to halve the recipe and use chicken that was already cooked. I promise I won’t go a chicken curry next week! I’m thinking of lamb.

We’re slowing (ok that’s a lie!) getting through the batch of Nutella & peanut butter brownies I made on Sunday. They get even more fudgy a day after being baked, yum!

Nutella & Peanut Butter Brownies

I had all good intentions of baking some sultana scones today, but while surfing the food blogs of the net I noticed some delicious looking Nutella & Peanut Butter Brownies at The Hungry Housewife. My love of Nutella is well documented so I decided I HAD to make them!

They worked well and were very nice warmed up with a blob of extra thick cream. Scrumptious. You can find the link for the original recipe at The Hungry Housewife. Below is half the original recipe and in grams rather than cups.

Nutella & Peanut Butter Brownies
Makes 16 squares

110g unsalted butter
200g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
75g plain flour
55g cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp peanut butter (I used chunky)
4 tbsp nutella

1) Preheat oven to 180oc. Line 8 inch x 8 inch pan with baking parchment. Melt butter then stir in sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in all of the remaining dry ingredients.

2) Heat Nutella and peanut butter until runny. Stir into Brownie mix. Pour into tin then bake for 25 min until top has a light papery crust.

Mr & Mrs Robin and the River Cottage Seed Project

We have a cheeky pair of robins that have been around for a couple of years and often come to have a nosy when Hubby is gardening. We think they have a nest somewhere in the eaves of the outhouse as over the last week they have been busy feeding from the insect suet ball hanging in the garden. Now, we have been trying to get a photo of them for the last few days, but every time we got the camera out they fly off. In the above photo Mr Robin posed nicely for a photo, but in the split second decided to dive for the new vegetable planters. If you click on the photo you’ll get better resolution. It made me chuckle when I saw the photo and would like to see if anyone can come up with a fitting caption!

Hubby has River Cottage membership and is taking part in their Seed Project. Today our seeds arrived and they were Blue Ballet Squash, Blauhilde climbing French bean and rhubarb chard. We haven’t tried to grow any of these veg before and I’m interested to see them grow, and of course taste them.

Our radishes are nearly ready to harvest. We were a bit late planting them so they are only just ready. I may roast some of them to go with the roast chicken dinner tomorrow. On another positive gardening note the lavender out front has gone crazy, the strawberry plants are flowering and I didn’t kill the grapevine after all!

Love Food, Hate Waste

On the 8th May a report was released highlighting that as a nation, on average we throw away 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, roughly a third of everything we buy which in turn equates to around £460 per household. I find this an incredibly frightening statistic. Over the last few months, with the ever increasing food bills I have been looking seriously at the amount of food we throw away (which thankfully, for my own conscience, has never been as much as a 1/3). I genuinely feel guilty when I throw away food.

The more experienced I’m getting with cooking the better I’m getting at planning a week of meals with minimal waste, plus rustling up a tasty meal from more or less nothing. The Love Food, Hate Waste campaign has published some great tips on how to cut down on food bills and waste.

My tips:

1) Have a well-stocked cupboard/fridge with good quality essentials like rice, pasta, flour, sugar, eggs, milk, bread, tinned tomatoes, dried lentils, cous cous, tinned beans, dried herbs, salami/chorizo, cheese, butter, tomato puree. It’s amazing what meals can be knocked up with seemingly basic ingredients.

2) As much as possible try and buy all meat, fruit and veg from the butcher/greengrocer. Not only is the quality usually far better than the supermarket, which in turn means it lasts longer, but you can buy exactly what you want. No more wasteful packaging.

3) Ignore “buy on get one free” offers unless it is an item that will be eaten in the coming weeks and has a long shelf life

4) Cook from scratch. Not only is it cheaper and far healthier than ready-meals you can make things with the left overs. In our house left over veg and sometimes meat is often made into soup, but who has heard of leftover ready-meal soup…ummm that’s not even worth thinking about!

5) Cook once eat twice – A great deal of the meals I cook are for 3 or 4 people although there is only 2 of us in the house. These are usually called double dinners and are designed to do us for 2 evenings or appear in our lunchbox the next day.

6) Where possible buy in season. Food bought in season is not only tastier, but lasts longer.

7) Plan your meals weekly and make at least one of those meals veggie. Before writing the list check through cupboard, fridge or freezer to see if there is anything that needs to be used up. In our house Wednesday is usually the night saved for leftovers.

I have quite a few favourite leftover recipes that I come back to time and time again.
Oven-baked Frittata
Thai Pie
Cauliflower Cheese and Bacon pie
Courgette & Feta Fritters
Mushroom & Spinach Pancake Bake
Bread & Butter Pudding
Queen of Puddings
For more recipes have a look at the Love Food, Hate Waste website where there is great ideas.

Courgette & Feta Fritters

It’s SATs week at the moment so everything is very much up in the air and to throw another spanner in the works, Hubby has started a new job. When I get home from work I’ve been want something quick and easy to make without it being toooooo unhealthy. Hubby pointed out a recipe for courgette & feta fritters in Delicious a few days ago, so I took advantage of Hubby taking an interest in a veggie meal (which is rare!) and made my own version of the fritters tonight.

I’m not a huge fan of courgette as I find them boring and have slimy school dinner memories of them, but these fritters were really delicious and had a hint of onion bhaji to them. They must have been good as Hubby has requested them again soon!

Courgette & Feta Fritters
Makes 6 fritters

2 medium sized courgettes
1/4 tsp fine salt
4 spring onions, finely sliced
120g feta, cut into 1cm cubes
1 tbsp dried mint
2 eggs
40g plain flour
20g polenta
1 tbsp lemon juice
ground black pepper

1) Grate courgette into a bowl and stir in salt, this helps draw water out of the courgette. Put courgette into a sieve and allow to drain for 20 min. Squeeze courgettes to rid of excess water and drain on some kitchen paper.

2) In a bowl mix all of the ingredients, including the courgettes until thoroughly mixed.

3) Heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a non-stick saute pan on a medium heat. Blob a tbsp of the fritter mix into the pan and flattern slightly. Cook 2-3 min each side until golden. Drain on a piece of kitchen paper.

Curry Monday – Chettinad Chicken

Tonights curry was Chettinad Chicken. I should have known from the outset it wasn’t going to work as well as I had hoped, it’s just been one of those days. As it was cooking I could tell there was something missing, it just looked so bland. I re-read and re-read the recipe again and I had included everything. Tastewise it was nice, but didn’t have the spicy kick and depth it was meant to have. Only after a google search I noticed that all other recipes for Chettinad Chicken featured tomatoes and a great deal more chilli, mine didn’t and may explain why it just didn’t look or taste 100% right.

I won’t include the recipe as in my eyes it isn’t right, so here are some links to some better sounding Chettinad Chicken.

Chettinad Pepper Chicken – Madhur Jaffrey
Chettinad Style Chicken Curry

Ah well, it still won’t put me off my Curry Monday challenge. I’m very much welcome to curry suggestions so feel free to leave me a message or email me.

A Kind of Key Lime Pie

It could take me a while to write this entry as I have quite a large Pimms induced headache…Above is a photo of our back garden at 8.30 this morning. It was lovely and cool and peaceful. It may be small, but still great for entertaining and relaxing. Our vegetables in the planter are doing far better than the did last year. I was trying to take a photo of Mr Robin who is forever in our garden, but he was being a bit camera shy. Last night we had the first BBQ of the year and christened our new BBQ. Well I say “new” go bought it at the end of Summer 2006, but due to the weather being so awful last year it never made it out of the box.

We cheated slightly and got chorizo sausages and lamb and mint burgers from the butcher, but I made a rack of Alabama pork ribs with a sweet and spicy glaze that was delicious. It was all served with pitta breads, rocket salad plus potatoes, onions and mushrooms that were cooked on the BBQ.

It was washed down with Pimms, River Cottage Stinger Ale, and Schweppes Summer Punch which is a great non-alcoholic Pimms tasting drink.

The pudding was the hardest thing to decide on. In my eyes a perfect BBQ pudding involves glorious Summer fruit like Eton Mess or Summer Tiramasu, but the PYO farm down the road isn’t open yet as it is still a bit early for strawberries and I refuse to spend £2 on a punnet of 8 sorry-looking strawberries from Morrisons. Nigella came to my rescue with a Key Lime pie. It was a perfect, light refreshing end to the BBQ. The one problem I did have, which may be apparent in the photo, is the biscuit base. It just didn’t stick together. I was a bit dubious when I read the recipe for the base, to me it couldn’t possibly work but took my trust in Nigella. Next time I make it I’ll use the base recipe I use in my Baileys Cheesecake. In the recipe below I have included the altered base recipe.

A Kind of Key Lime Pie
Serves 8-12

170g digestive biscuits, crushed
70g butter
Juice and zest of 4 limes
400g can of condensed milk
300ml double cream

1) Melt butter in saucepan then stir in crushed digestive biscuits until thoroughly mixed. Press into 20cm diameter springform tin. Press up the edges a bit to give a crust. Chill for an hour

2) With an electric whisk, beat together the cream, juice, zest and condensed milk until thick and creamy. Pour over base and sprinkle with some of the lime zest. Chill for at least and hour before serving.

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