Monday, January 31, 2011

Recipe: Sweet Chicken and Red Pepper Curry

First time I made this I literally licked the bowl clean- it is Soooo nice. I really like creamy mild curries- i don't think i will ever get to the heavily chilli-tolerant feats of my dad and my boyfriend. I do wonder sometimes whether the whole 'liking spicy foods' thing is some sort of judge of masculinity? That maybe if men don't order the spiciest thing on the menu, it's considered by other men as being wimpy or 'girly'. Ah well, maybe one day my tastes will change and i will get the same thrill that they get from those vindaloos and fahls- this sort of chilli induced euphoria. Until then I will eat and thoroughly enjoy my kormas and passandas, and experiment with other lovely mild curries.

Sweet chicken and red pepper curry (serves 2)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
2 breasts of chicken cubed
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
½ tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin coconut milk
2 tbsp Pataks Mild curry paste
1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar

1. Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add chicken, red pepper and curry paste and cook for a further 5 minutes.
2. Add all other ingredients and cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes, until nice thick and creamy. Season to taste and serve.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Recipe: Butternut Squash and Paneer Pakoras

God, what a week! I'm so nackered, seriously. Got a hell of a lot of literature coursework to get through (still over 2000 words to write), got to cut down and 'tart up' my English Language coursework, and I still have a 2000 word screenplay to write for Film Studies. And all of this has to happen in the next couple of months. The literature one is the scariest though, I don't think I have ever written a 3000 word essay, that seems such a daunting amount. Still, has to be done. These appetisers/ canapes are absolutely divine! It takes a while to grate the squash and paneer for the mixture and roll all the balls up, but it's completely worth it. The dip I have presented them with, that you can see in the photo, is just some natural yoghurt mixed with some dukka, honey, a squeeze of lemon and a bit of black pepper.

Butternut squash and Paneer Pakoras (makes 24/25) serves 6 as an appetiser, 77p per portion

300g (peeled) grated butternut squash or pumpkin
300g finely grated paneer
50g very finely chopped red onion
½ tsp crushed ginger
1 green chilli, very finely diced
25g coriander, finely chopped
¼ tsp white pepper
40g white fresh breadcrumbs
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 cardamom pods ground in a mortar and pestle
Little bit of cracked black pepper

200g yogurt
1 tsp cumin seeds
5g fresh coriander

1. Mix all the ingredients together well. Form the mixture in your palms into circles. You should weigh them and they should be between 25-30g. This helps them all cook in the same amount of time.
2. Heat a large saucepan full of vegetable/sunflower oil to a medium high heat. In batches, cook the pakoras for 2 minutes, until they turn a dark brown. Serve with the yoghurt topped with cumin seeds and coriander to dip.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recipe: Leek and Bacon Risotto

Once again combining the perfectly paired flavours of leek and bacon, this time in risotto form. This is a sneaky supper for myself. It is perhaps rather a big portion for one but I am a greedy girl, and when it's so cold outside for me life is all about comfort eating! If i was serving this for a dinner party, i would also top the risotto with a bit of crumbled really crispy bacon- so you get a mix of textures.

Leek and Bacon Risotto (serves 1) £1.96 per serving

1 tbsp olive oil
1 rasher smoky bacon, diced finely
1 leek, sliced finely
100ml white wine
80g Arborio rice
350ml chicken or vegetable stock
10g parmesan, finely grated
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the bacon on a high heat for about three minutes, until beginning to brown. Add the leeks, stir quickly to mix, and add the white wine, for 2 minutes, until most of the wine has evaporated.
2. Add the rice, stir in, and cook for one minute. Begin to gradually add the stock, for 15 minutes, or until the rice is “al-dente”.
3. Stir in the parmesan and season to taste. Garnish with the chopped chives.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Recipe: Tabouleh

If you have't tried this dish before you are really missing out, trust me. Tabouleh (Prounced Tah-Boo-Lay) is a Lebanese herb and bulghur wheat salad. It is so delicious, fresh and healthy- and goes fantastic as a side dish for Arabic/Middle Eastern Lamb dishes. And for the veggies it's very nice topped with a few hot slices of griddled haloumi. I have seen many people fail to make this dish properly, because they don't realise that the main emphasis of flavour should definitely come from the herbs. It shouldnt be a couple of lonely sprigs of parsley amongst a heap of bulghar.

Tabouleh (serves 3 as a side dish) £1.05 per portion as a side dish

100g bulghar wheat
500ml water
20g fresh mint leaves (no stems), chopped finely
40g fresh parsley leaves (no stems) chopped roughly
250g ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ red onion, diced finely
Juice of ½ a lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

1. Boil the bulghar wheat in the water for about 10 minutes, or until the grains are soft and all the liquid has been absorbed. Drain under cool water and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the reserved cooled bulghar wheat, stir until well mixed, season to taste and serve!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Recipe: Quick Banoffee Puddings

My dad told me the most hilarious thing whilst I was making these. He said "up until the age of 40 I always though Banoffee Pudding was named after the guy that created it- 'Mr Banoffee'". He is actually such a numpty bless 'im. He also pointed out that I shouldnt really be making these, as me, mum and dad are on diets, so we shouldnt really be eating anything that involves toffee or cream- let alone both! But I had a really ripe banana and had a jar of dulche de leche in the cupboard which had been there for ages, so I thought what the hell. Dulche De Leche is this gorgeaus Spanish toffee sauce. I get it from my local farm shop, but if you can't find any of it yourself, i'm pretty sure Carnation do something very similar. You would find it in the baking section of the supermarket.

Bannoffee Cups (makes 4) 84p per portion

125g (half a packet) Fox’s butter crinkles biscuits
1 450g jar dulche de leche, or 400g tin carnation caramel
1 very ripe banana, mashed up
40ml double cream
Whipped cream
Dark chocolate, finely grated

1. Crush the biscuits until fine crumbs (either in a processor or just bash it up with a rolling pin). Spoon the crumbs equally into 4 glasses of your choice (I use wine glasses).
2. Mix together the dulche de leche, ripe banana and double cream into a fairly smooth consistency. Spoon equally into the 4 wine glasses. Put in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. Before serving, pipe some whipped cream into the glasses, and sprinkle with some finely grated dark chocolate. Serve!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Feature: Linda Mccartney Foods 5

After a couple of weeks of none of my recipes being selected- they have now picked my Roast Celeriac, Chilli and Courgette Tart. This is the seventh recipe they have chosen so far. To be honest I reckon if they do choose me as a finalist, I reckon it will be with my Caramelised Shallot Tart recipe. The Linda Mccartney team seemed to be most interested in that one. Also I am fairly proud of that picture. It is fairly delicious looking right? But you never know, it could be one of the other ones. I do kinda think though if they choose the tart recipe, it might not ending up winning, because its not a recipe suitable for vegans. I know it is a "vegetarian" recipe competition, but they have said stuff on their facebook page like "Calling all vegans, the next Linda McCartney product could be vegan if you enter our competition with a yummy vegan recipe!".

Anyway, this week this recipe is up the win "The UK's tastiest meat free dish!" , and i'd love it if you would follow the link and vote for it! You just have to press the "rate this dish" button at the top right of the screen. Thanks for all your help guys, Mel wants to win!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Recipe: Spiced Beef Meatballs, with Herby Nutty Couscous

I suppose using pre-made meatballs is slightly cheating but this is a nice quick way of making a meatball dish without having to get your hands all dirty mixing fresh meatballs. Delicious beef meatballs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, served with coriander and toasted pine nut cous cous. Mmmmm. The dukka spice mix recipe can be found on my Mushroom and Chickpea Tagine recipe. it is essentially a ground blend of toasted cumin, coriander and sesame seeds.

Spiced Beef Meatballs, served with lime and coriander couscous (serves 2)

Meatballs and Sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
12 Sainsbury’s beef meatballs (they are small and come in packs of 20)
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp dukka
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 green chilli, diced
1.5 tsp sugar
100ml beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Lime, coriander and toasted pine nut couscous

120g cous cous
150ml boiled water
Knob of butter
Juice of ½ lime, or 1 tbsp lime juice
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
30g pine nuts, toasted
½ tsp dukka
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a deep frying pan, heat the oil on a high heat and brown the meatballs evenly (this should take about 5 minutes). Remove the meatballs and set aside. Lower the temperature a little and sauté the red onion and garlic, covered, for 5 minutes, until softened.
2. Stir in the dukka and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chilli and sugar, stir in and cook covered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Cool down this mixture slightly and blend in a food processor. Return the blended mixture to the pan, along with the beef stock and the reserved meatballs. Cook the mixture on a high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Meanwhile, pour the couscous into a mixing bowl. Pour over the boiling water, add a knob of butter, and cover. It should take about 5 minutes to absorb all the liquid. Add the lime juice, coriander, pine nuts and dukka, and “fluff up” the couscous with a fork.
5. Season the meatballs and couscous to taste and serve!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Published: My First Published Recipe!

How terribly exciting! Got a recipe published in many regional newspapers today! O.k, O.k, so i'm a long way away from having my own book- but hey guys c'mon it's a start!

As I have mentioned before, I have had a few (well, seven actually!) recipes shortlised for Linda Mccartney's recipe competition- "The Search for the U.K's Tastiest Meat Free Dish". The recipe for my Caramelised Shallot Tart, with my lurvelly picture (as well as a couple of other recipes and details of the competition) was published today in various regional publications, mostly in "The Black Country", Birmingham, West Midlands and Yorkshire areas- Including in "The Express & Star"- which Wikipedia tells me is the "the biggest selling regional daily paper in the UK."- Not bad eh?

I really really hope i become one of the finalists. If i do, i'll end up on the telly!!! In a little mini-documentary thing on ITV. Plus win a cooker. Mel want's it EVEN MORE now!!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Mughlai

I'm not really sure what a "Mughlai" officially should be in "curry terminology", but i call this dish Chicken Mughlai because it tastes almost identical to a dish of the same name that I had in an Indian Restaurant in Venice. Essentially it is just a very quick and basic chicken curry that will please most dinner guests- not too creamy, not very spicy, and doesn't contain any vegetables that some people may object to.

Chicken Mughlai (serves 2) £1.90 per portion, £1.93 with 60g basics rice (dry weight), cooked.

2 chicken breasts
2 tsp Rogan josh curry paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small red onion, diced finely
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp mild chilli powder
½ tsp ground fenugreek
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
150ml chicken stock
150ml semi-skimmed milk
Handful coriander roughly chopped (plus extra for garnish)
1 rounded tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 200C. Place the chicken breasts on a greaseproof paper lined baking tray, and rub each one with a tsp of the curry paste. Season with salt and pepper and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove, chop into large chunks and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on a medium heat, and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook covered, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
3. Add the reserved chicken and all the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, milk, coriander, sugar and tomato paste and stir in well. Cook covered, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, on a high heat, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened. Garnish with the natural yoghurt and coriander and serve!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Feature: Foodie Christmas Presents 2010

I thought i would share with you all of my foodie presents that I got from my friends and family this year, and also the foodie presents I gave as well.

Plenty of nice little things from my parents. I got a Bialetti "Venus" Espresso stovetop espresso pot. They are very easy to use and clean, you just put coffee grounds into a little pot, pour some water into the bottom of the jug. Heat up on the hob, and in a few minutes you have your coffee! We have one at home, but this is one for me to take to my boyfriend's. Nick doesn't drink tea or coffee- something I completely cannot comprehend- I don't know how he doesn't just fall asleep by midday! Very strange! With this espresso machine mum also gave me some Illy coffee grounds, and this cute little assortment of flavoured syrups- to make things like vanilla lattes, caramel cappucinos- whatever I fancy!

My boyfriend's mum got me a SIGNED copy of Nigella's new cookery book- "Kitchen". That is so cool- the recipes in it are very delectable looking as well. Portion sizes are a bit off though- but i guess you have to expect that from Nigella. She is an utterly beautiful- but quite large lady.

My friend Ralph got me this big chunky book called "1001 foods to eat before you die". I have three other books in that series- 1001 books, 1001 films and my dad has 1001 albums. The book is fascinating, including lists and beautiful pictures of (in many cases) very obscure and strange looking fruits, vegetables and foreign delecacies. Will be looking forward to ticking them all off, as i travel to more exotic climbs during my life (fingers crossed!).

For my friends, i gave them all a bottle of homemade blackberry brandy (V easy to make, just marinade blackberries and sugar in brandy in a big kilner jar for a couple of months. Strain, bottle and drink!), and a jar of crabapple and rosemary jelly. You see, I had made all my Christmas presents during autumn and stored them- so no panicked rushes to the shops Xmas eve!

I gave to my boyfriend's brothers family (to have with the Christmas meal) a jar of my apple, onion and sultana chutney (recipe on site) a batch of homemade oat biscuits, and a heart shaped truckle of Godminster Cheddar.

And last but CERTAINLY not least- the present my mum gave to me, to use at Nick's place (so it was kinda a present for both of us). It is an orange Le Cruset casserole pot!!!! I finally feel like an adult, i have a Le Creuset dish all of my own! We have a few at home but i dunno, this is different. This is a beautiful piece of kitchen equipment that is MINE. That i can make scrummy Bourginoun and Chasseurs in. Yummmm. Happy. Isn't it pretty??? A 20 year old should definitely not get THIS excited about a casserole pot, haha!

So as you can see, I had a wonderful foodie Christmas, and I hope you did too!! I intend to make 2011 an even scrummier year- for one and all!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Recipe: Oat Biscuits

These oat biscuits were a complete hit with various members of the family this Christmas! It is a recipe i have adapted and tweaked a lot, originally from something we used to make when i worked at the River Cottage Canteen (Komedia). Although when we made it there we made it with different ratios- and used spelt flour, so that the recipe would be wheat free. We used to get rather a lot of 'wheat-intollerant' customers actually- all these food allergies and intollerances seem to be on the rise lately.

These biscuits are perfect on the cheeseboard- and is divine when paired with a chunk of Godminster Cheddar. This stuff is the best cheddar in the south west, if not THE WORLD. Stunning. Got a heart shaped truckle for my boyfriend for Christmas this year from Bath's Xmas Market. I thought how stunningly Somerset that is, a cheddar in the shape of a heart! Unless it was drinking cider and asking "wheres that to?" it couldn't have been any more West Country!

Also, if you add 30g more sugar, they make good digestive biscuits to have with a cup of tea.

Oatcakes (for Cheeseboard) (makes about 30) £4.55 to make, so only 16p per biscuit

250g unsalted butter
125g plain flour
125g wholemeal flour (plus extra for dusting)
250g medium oatmeal
90g sugar
10g salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp semi-skimmed or whole milk

1. Rub the flour and butter together to a fine crumble. Add all other ingredients and mix well with your hands, forming the mixture into one ball of dough. Flatten to a circle, cling film, and rest in the fridge for an hour.
2. Heat the oven to 180C. Dust the surface, biscuit dough and rolling pin well with wholemeal flour. Roll the biscuits out to about 1cm thin. Cut out with about a 2.5 inch pastry cutter.
3. Place the biscuits onto a greaseproof paper lined baking tray, and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on a cooling rack.
4. Repeat the rolling out process with the rest of the dough. Makes about 30 approximately.