Saturday, 31 December 2011

Interesting Things To Do With Yoghurt

It has recently come to my attention that people are more interested in the non-food elements of my posts. Actually, it wasn't that recent. And slowly I have succumbed to the temptation of 'giving the people what they want' and become more focussed upon the first paragraph than I might've liked. But I felt a bit sad about it when a friend for whom I had written a painstakingly long list of nice, cheap, quick recipes confessed he'd never tried any of them. Why not? He doesn't know. Indeed, he cooks all the time out of necessity. I discovered this because he was discussing what sauce to eat with his green beans. I suggested one of mine. Then the penny dropped for him that maybe he could actually make some of the recipes I've suggested. Then he apologised lots. Anyway, I'd like you all to know that I aim to give accurate, interesting (?) accounts of the places I eat. And the recipes I post on here do actually taste good and do actually work! I don't just post on here because it's cathartic/I'm a narcissist. Although I do a little bit. I've titled this post as I have so that people googling that particular phrase who may or may not have thrush stumble across this and try the recipe out. Maybe. This is a recipe for Bengali yoghurt. Well, I call it yoghurt but it's really a yoghurt-based dessert which is very common in Bangladesh. It's the perfect balance of sweet and sour and is very filling and delicious. My mother replicates it very well. It doesn't have quite the same colour as the stuff I've eaten in Bangladesh but I think it tastes better. Now look at this photo of me shadowing it.

Doi (you probably won't be able to pronounce this)
400 ml whole milk
8tbsp white granulated sugar
1 410g tin full-fat evaporated milk
1 500g carton Greek-style natural yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 100C
In a saucepan on a low heat, heat the whole milk.
Add the sugar to the saucepan and stir continuously until dissolved, still on a low heat, until the mixture comes to a boil
Once the mixture has come to the boil, leave it on the heat until some of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has thickened slightly.
Leave the milk-sugar mixture has cooled slightly (so it's lukewarm), mix in the evaporated milk.
Let the evaporated milk-milk-sugar mixture cool until only slightly warm.
Add the yoghurt and mix.
Place in a fairly deep, ovenproof dish.
Place, covered with foil, in the heated oven for 1.5 hours.
After 1.5 hours, switch the heat off but leave the dish in there.
Leave the dish in there for around 10 hours (overnight).
The mixture should have set into a thick, light-terracota coloured mixture and is now ready to eat.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Review - Comptoir Libanais

I was warning my friend's friends that I would take photos of our food at Comptoir Libanais when it arrived. Then my friend jokily mentioned that she was thinking of starting a blog called 'A Woman on the Edge.' This thought kept coming back to me the next morning when I fell off the edge and went absolutely-bat-shit-Marie-Elene-of-Vicky-Cristina-Barcelona-fame-crazy. I don't think the reaction was (that) disproportionate to the trigger but there's still no denying that my motherboard blew some sort of fuse. So, after the calm after the storm after the calm, I decided to put my madness to better use and started writing a novel. Insanity and genius are interchangeable, right? At the moment it's looking like a hybrid of James Joyce/Ali Smith/Salman Rushdie/Sylvia Plath. Except without the literary skill and originality. Which is a shame because I'm not a fan of any of those authors even with their intelligence. We'll see how  this goes. So, before it all went awry. The lebanese food. Comptoir Libanais in South Kensington. Let's talk about that!
The inside was busy which is always promising. It reminded me of Dishoom, it had the same classy-canteen atmosphere to it. And there appeared to be lots of sharing going on. Loathe to ignore the local custom, we decided to get lots of plates to share. Starting with a mezze platter.
The falafel I loved although my friend disagreed. I liked the crispiness on the outside and the fact that unlike lots of falafel I've had, it wasn't overseasoned. Hummus and baba ganoush both struck me as a little bland - they tasted very similar. The little cheese pastries were deeply savoury. Hey diamond. When I first tried the tabbouleh I was struck by its freshness but for some reason, it lost its charm. It was almost slightly sickly for the last few mouthfuls. We moved onto pumpkin pastries.
I was looking forward to these but they disappointed. The texture of them was lovely but they didn't have that savoury sweetness I look for from anything pumpkin-based. A little bland to be honest.
 Lebanese fried potatoes were good. Crispy but soft with a touch of heat.
Deep fried halloumi had a bit of a stodgy texture. It didn't quite have that crispy firmness you expect from something that's been grilled.
Tagine was delicious and rich and packed full of flavour. Had everything been so flavoursome I would've left very happy. I still left reasonably happy but I would have liked more flavour and bigger portions. Oh and also the 24 hours that followed the meal to have not happened. But I can't pin that on Comptoir Libanais.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Birmingham is a very functional city. Anything you need to do, there will be facilities for it. The one thing (exaggeration) which I think of as having any character is the German Market. But even that's been destroyed for me now. Having been to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland this year, I'll never appreciate the Birmingham German Market again. Winter Wonderland is so much better. In every way. There are rides and a circus and a revolving bar and a restaurant and countless food and trinket stalls. Even the trinkets they sell are better! I saw these dream-catcher type hanging ornaments which were made of several cut outs of metal which all span at different times making this amazing optical illusion. I considered buying one to look at before my exams instead of revising. 
The food is also much better. Birmingham has overpriced frankfurters and some potatoes and mushrooms. London, though still overpriced, at least makes the food better. Instead of a pallid-looking regular sized hot dog, they do foot long sausages of various different kinds for £5. My companion got one. I was very tempted by it. But I'd already got it into my head that I should have stew because I could have sausages from anywhere. I should've got the hot dog. Finding the stew stall was arduous. We had very sensibly decided to scope out all the food options before making our bed. After denying myself a foot-long hot dog and then deliberating about pie, I was settled upon stew from the Hungarian stew stall. There was a brief moment when I thought hey, maybe I should have beef stew and horseradish dumplings? I was encouraged to do this but still said no, I want Hungarian beef stew with dumplings. On with the quest.
By the time we found it, the foot-long sausage was half-digested (lovely image) and the stalls had begun shutting down. The dumplings were strange. They weren't the big, stodgy-but-in-a-good-way creations that I Was expecting but small pieces of dough which reminded me of maggots. Pleasant. They were very, very bland. I hate sparkling water - it makes me think it's a fizzy drink with the flavour taken out. Which it is, I guess. These dumplings were the food equivalent of sparkling water. I think the idea was that they soak up the flavour of the stew. Unfortunately, the stew tasted only of smoked paprika and salt. Both nice enough but very boring. And they completely overrode any taste that there may have been in the not-quite-tender-enough beef. The whole thing would be best described as the opposite of moreish. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Titbits

I LOVE LONDON. I'm well aware that I romanticise it but I can't help it. I'm convinced that once I move here I'll be filled with this feeling of belonging and not caring about anything because everything will be PERFECT and I'll be able to live the life I want with the people I want. With any luck, my moving to London will coincide with the last of the teen angst being exorcised so I won't be disappointed. Encouraging the romanticising is the fact that I've spent the last week hacking in exchange for overpriced lunches, wine and cigarettes. I don't even smoke. The one down-side is all the hacking I have to do. 'Hacking' is a word used to describe self-promotion: 'God, she is such a hack with that blog.' Even putting links to this blog on Facebook kills a little bit of my self-respecting self. I am still complaining about nothing because this job has given me relevant experience in the field that I want to work in with someone who happens to know all the 'big dogs' in the industry. So, where is this preamble going? Nowhere really. I think I'm just bragging. Hey, at least I'm not posting on Facey about 'classic' London moments. Although I am finding it hard to stop myself. I love how there are so many places with so much character. Three such places didn't quite merit a post of their own so I thought I'd condense into one.

Stick and Bowl
One cold Thursday afternoon we fancied Chinese food for lunch. And there was somewhere cheap and delicious just around the corner. This would never happen in Birmingham. The place was called Stick and Bowl. I thought everywhere in the vicinity (it's on Kensington High Street) would be very expensive and perhaps not good enough to justify the expense but I was proved wrong on both counts.

This place reminded me of the little Chinese restaurants you see in films set in New York where everyone eats out of those cool little cartons and the food seems really moreish even from the other side of the screen. It was reaaaally small and jam packed. You sat on stools sharing tables with people you don't know and the service was incredibly quick. They also expected you to eat and leave incredibly quickly. It was just charming. It even managed to look quirky rather than shabby because the walls were painted with koi. I assume they're koi. I have no basis for assuming so. There was also a curious bell which reminded me of Bangladesh (as so many things do). My grandparents' house is full of bells which chime with a little melody every hour. A similar chime sounded in Stick and Bowl but much more frequently than every hour. And whenever it did, someone went and pulled frantically on a rope. I initially thought they were resetting the clock. Then I thought maybe it was part of some religious ritual? But finally discovered that the bell signified that some food was done and the rope worked some sort of pulley system. COOL.

You can lunch for less than £6 and the food is the best 'typical' Chinese food I've had to date. I had the Stick and Bowl rice: chicken, pork, seafood and vegetables with its speciality sauce. The sauce had the heady strength that one expects from a Chinese without the headachey MSG hangover. It was mellow and light and just the right consistency, not that sort of sticky which you can imagine lining your arteries but not watery either. The rice was well cooked, the meat was moist and the correct texture. The mangetout was fresh and still had a little bite to it. A nice addition was slivers of bean curd within the sauce which had absorbed the lovely, light flavours of the sauce. There will be photos of all this when I can get hold of it.

Bagels
One night after dinner, despite having totally filled up on curry, we decided to get bagels from the 24 hour bagel shop on brick lane. I had the best apple turnover I've ever eaten from here. The pastry was perfectly flaky and crisp. The filling hadn't been sweetened so the apples were still tart, a lovely contrast to the sugary coating entirely covering the pastry. I only had a bite of the  bagel but that too was delicious. Almost spongy and a little sweet with fresh, smoky salmon and cream cheese. Oh baby.
                       

Japanese Food in Kingston
Whilst staying with my musical friend with the warm house and good shower, I went busking for the first time. Except I wasn't busking. I was sat next to the buskers. The minority of Musical's friends are not-musical and I'm in that minority. So my inability to sing and sight read with my VOICE precluded me joining in. But it was lotsa fun all the same. Anyway, I went for a little walk around Kingston town centre while the busking was occurring and found a little market stall selling Japanese food. I picked up some incredibly cheap (£4.90) prawn tempura donburi. The batter was light and not too salty. The prawn it encased was so fresh and that beautiful pink that perfectly cooked prawns are. The rice was sticky, the salad was fresh and the teriyaki sauce was a little headache inducing but still tasty. This meal was a little bit nicer than the last meal I had from Edamame's yet it cost half the price.
That's all for now, folks.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Review - Bodean's

I have recently picked up the nasty habit of deleting old 'friends' from the Internet. The first round was 'it's kind of weird for me to 'be friends with' these people now that I'm not going out with this person anymore'. Then came 'If I'm honest, I'm never ever going to see/speak to this person again ever.' That was then followed by 'Yeah we were friends once but we haven't spoken in YEARS oh and also they're still in touch with someone they wouldn't know if it weren't for me and oh she still has my shoes BITCH.' Most recently was 'I hatljes bIrmignmaham and I wantm t;o for teget everiuytging from threh everjk even the ep eopele I  ieleike.' I probably should've realised that I would certainly regret the last round of deletions in the morning. But I can't re-add them. And I've kept some people who I definitely know less well for no apparent reason. And I'm following some of them on Twitter. Awk. On the plus side, I was staying with one of the few which remain last week and it was 'just like old times.' I had a very soppy moment walking back from having purchased a fur coat at gushing about how glad I was that things hadn't changed. But then I felt a bit sad about all the people who I could still be in touch if it weren't for my trigger-happy attitude to the 'unfriend' button. This has happened quite frequently because, as you'd expect, a lot of our conversation centres (-ers?) around old times. Like the time we went to Pizza Hut and my friends dared me to eat all the jalapenos so I did. This came up at Bodean's, an American diner-style place in Fulham, when a plate of nachos covered in jalapenos arrived.
The reason we'd ended up there is because my friend remembered how much I used to like meat and thought I'd love this place. I don't like meat as much now but I still enjoyed this place. (That last sentence is NOT supposed to be a demonstration of how things change but that's OK.) We shared the meat platter and some nachos. There was far, far too much food for us to finish. I appreciate that in a restaurant. The meat platter included pulled pork, 3 types of ribs all of different smokiness, BBQ chicken, fries and coleslaw.
The pulled pork wasn't too strongly flavoured although a little too stringy. The baby back ribs were well balanced, a nice combination of smoky and sweet. Unfortunately, they weren't melt in your mouth soft. The other ribs were smokier and a little more bitter but their texture was preferable. Surprisingly, I think the chicken was the star of the show. The texture was still a little wet which was a welcome change from the dryness of the pork. And the coating was, as with the rest, a nice mix of flavour without any one overpowering. Chips were crispy and well seasoned, as they should be. Coleslaw was disappointing: I could taste that it had been made with yoghurt. Whenever I look up coleslaw recipes, I feel suspicious when I see yoghurt was one of the ingredients. This suspicion was irrational because to my knowledge, I'd never had yoghurt-based coleslaw before. I'm quite sure the tang of this coleslaw was that of yoghurt rather than mayonnaise and for me, it didn't quite work. All in all, a good place to get dinner. Not too special but incredibly good value. And the atmosphere is red and sporty. It made me feel like I wanted a beer even though I hate beer.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Recipe - Vegetables and Turmeric

I tend to lose my grip on reality in the last two weeks of term. I lose the ability (and the time) to sleep and stagger around like a lost zombie unable to function or organise. It's like seeing someone who's been through a Northern Lights style intercision and been separated from their daemon. I think that was an insensitive comment to make even if it is fiction. Anyway, in this two weeks I lose the will/energy to cook. Luckily for me, I also lose my appetite so failing to cook isn't too much of a problem. When I get home, I sleep and watch crap on Comedy Central for 3 days and eat everything ever I see. Of course, home is also accompanied by crushing boredom manifesting itself as a desire to delete all traces of myself from the Internet, constant digs about my choice to not become a lawyer and occasional helpful remarks about my appearance. ('You've put so much weight on.' 'Your complexion is horrendous.') Still, the food makes it worth it. Everything is so simple and nourishing. Especially the vegetables. I have cravings for these dishes in term sometimes. Particularly when I've done something bad or I'm a little sad or feel a bit mad (like the cat in the hat). In other words, any time I feel like being mothered and looked after and having no responsibility. These recipes are so imbued with the feeling of home/being a child that eating them makes me feel better. Anyway, before I start waxing lyrical about the sublime, here are the recipes. All of them are broadly the same recipe just with different vegetables. But they're all very good!
Runner Bean, Tomato and Potato Curry
1 onion, finely sliced
250g runner beans, washed and cut into 2inch long pieces
2 salad tomatoes, cut into sixths
3 large-ish new potatoes, cut into quarters
1.5 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp chilli powder
Salt
Fry the onion in about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil on a medium heat until the onion is very soft but not yet coloured.
Once soft, add 1.5 tbsp of turmeric and 1 tbsp of chilli powder and mix to make a paste. Add a little more oil if necessary if the mixture looks as though it is drying.
Add the runner beans and potatoes and mix to coat with the spice paste thoroughly.
Season with salt (about 1 level tsp)
Add 50ml of water.
Bring to a simmer on a low heat and cover.
After about 15 minutes, add the tomatoes.
After 5 minutes, switch off the stove.

Fried Turmeric-y Greens
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
500g greens cut into thin slivers
4 dried red chillies
3 finger chillies, slit open but still intact
1 tbsp turmeric
Salt
In a large, deep frying pan, fry the onion, garlic and chillies in a liberal dose of vegetable oil on a medium heat until soft but not yet coloured.
Add the turmeric so that a yellow paste is developed.
Add the cabbage and coat with turmeric.
Add the green finger chillies and season with salt to taste.
Continue to fry on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the greens are soft and glossy (about 10 minutes).

Fried Turmeric-y Spinach
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp turmeric
1 finger chilli, slit open but still intact
200g young leaf spinach

Fry the onion and garlic in vegetable oil until soft but not coloured on a medium heat.
Add the turmeric and a little more oil if necessary.
Add the spinach and finger chilli, coat in turmeric and a sprinkling of salt.
The spinach will wilt and the water will come out and after this happens, turn the heat up to high until the water is evaporated off.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Review - Liaison

I HATE PUBLIC TRANSPORT. I was making a brief trip to Oxford because some shoes I exchanged had been sent there, but, more importantly, staying in Birmingham for too long makes me want to pluck all of my eyelashes out and wait for them to grow back. (My dad said he knew someone who did that around the time of his final exams because when they grow back they're initially spiky so it hurts to close your eyelids so you can't sleep.) No big deal - it's only an hour on the train. Apparently not. Halfway into the journey into town, the train stopped because of a signalling error. The driver was very apologetic and said he thought it would be fixed soon. It wasn't. Oh and I really needed to pee and the train toilet was broken. And it was pouring down with rain outside. And I had only a £20 note. (This is relevant because the stupid buses in the West Midlands don't give change.) This configuration of unfortunate circumstances led to me making two new friends. A less-than-reputable-seeming mechanic who let me use the bathroom in his house and a schoolgirl who lent me a pound. And then I felt old because to qualify for child fare, I had to pretend to be born in '97. 1997! And this all happened just in getting to Birmingham. When I got there, it transpired that ALL trains were cancelled or severely delayed. Well, almost all. I managed to get the last train leaving Moor Street because I'm tricksy. On the other side was waiting dinner with a friend. She fancied something from the Far East. Instead of sticking to something tried and tested and close by such as Chiang Mai or Shanghai 30s, I suggested we go to a slightly cheaper place which I'd spied on the way to the train station called Liaison. My friend liked the name. We decided to order from the 'home dishes' page of the menu since we thought they'd be better. I don't know if this was a fair judgment since we didn't order anything from the rest of the menu. Lamb clay pot and Vegetables with Mixed Fish and Seafood Balls.
Mine (the lamb) sounded more appetising but it was definitely the inferior dish. As dubious as my friend may have been by the appearance of unidentified meat/fish balls, there's no denying that they tasted good. They were tender and delicately spiced and provided a firm texture to off-set the almost too wateriness of the vegetables. The lamb clay pot, on the other hand, tasted of little but salt. At the first mouthful, I thought 'heavy handed with the salt but not too bad'. This opinion depreciated rapidly. The pieces of lamb were still soft and nicely cooked. I think if I'd been able to taste it, I would've liked it. Unfortunately all I could taste was salt. Particularly unpleasant was biting into a piece of aubergine and being squirted with hot, salty water. I wasn't in the market for disinfectant, just for a nice Chinese supper.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Death of Christmas

Do you know how strange Christmas seems to people who haven't experienced it from a very young age? It's mental. My parents have always attempted to make it special but it's never been particularly successful. My mother's 'roasts' were covered in korma ingredients and sultanas and stuck in the oven until they were as dry as the desert. When I took over the reigns of cooking, Christmas dinner involved more conventional foods but still, the magic wasn't quite there. The only proper Christmas I've experienced was several years ago now where I spent it with a friend's family. It was AMAZING. Since then I've totally understood why people get so excited about it. Unfortunately, since my parents' Christmas still lacks presents and alcohol, I've not managed to recreate it even now I know how it's done properly. Thankfully, the last week of university term encompasses all the fun things about Christmas. Even when that last week is mostly in November.  This year was no different - there were sing-a-long carols, secret Santa and two Christmas dinners. One was with friends and involved no cooking. The other was with people who do my subject and involved helping cook for fifty. FIFTY.

I was in charge of roast potatoes, mashed potatoes and pigs in blankets. Before the dinner, I'd had a dream where I poisoned everyone and so I sent 29309039430 emails organising times/places and detailing the action plan with military precision. Unfortunately, the night before preparation day, a friend's surprise birthday party got carried away and I ended up drinking shots of Sambuca with lemon (try it, you will never look back) and dancing to 'calypso' in an empty club. I think if I were in Pirates of the Caribbean, I would definitely be Calypso. To make matters worse, I woke up not-alone and absolutely mortified by the strangeness of my behaviour from the previous night. I remember being offered braces as a kid (my mouth looks like a hand-grenade was set off in there) and refusing them because I thought my teeth were cool and unique. Now, I no longer take unique as a compliment. It's more a testament to my total lack of capacity to act like a normal, non-socially retarded person at the times it is most necessary. So, when the hour for preparing 15kg of potatoes dawned, I was busy pondering such questions as 'why do you insist on behaving this way?', 'what is wrong with you?' and 'why did you think it was better to be on time rather than to shower?' Ergh. Potato peeling helped.
The potatoes were peeled, chopped, parboiled and placed in their baking trays the day before, the pigs were placed in their blankets (awww) and covered in Bourbon, chilli powder and honey. Despite all this preparation, T -3 until T +0.5 were still the most stressed I've been this term. All I had to do was melt goose fat, season and slather the potatoes in goose fat. But this is very complicated when you're making do with ancient university accommodation ovens and having to run between three kitchens wearing black tie. But it allll worked out OK. Some potatoes were more crispy than others and the little pigs weren't covered in a sticky glaze as I'd wanted them to be since a lack of equipment necessitated giving nothing any room to breathe. Anyway, the whole experience was lots of fun (apart from when I thought I was going to pass out from not eating/heat/champagne) and I have newfound respect for the contestants of Masterchef. 'Cooking doesn't get tougher than this.'
This is the recipe I based my glaze for the pigs on. Roast potatoes were parboiled until it was possible to be fluff their edges up and then covered in hot goose fat, salt and pepper before going in the oven for an hour at 220°C. This is the recipe for the stuffing for the turkey - I can't take credit for these. People much calmer and more competent than myself were in charge of these elements.

Glaze for the Pigs in Blankets
The quantities here were used for 100 chipolatas wrapped in 100 strips of smoked, streaky bacon.

50ml bourbon whiskey
8 tbsp clear honey
1 heaped tbsp chilli powder

Mix the ingredients together. Wrap sausages in a strip of bacon each. Drizzle with the glaze, making sure you cover everything thoroughly. DON'T overfill the baking tray like I had to. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes at 200°C.

Sage and Onion Stuffing
The Presidents elected to use the Mrs. Beeton recipe whereas I usually a method that cooks the onions in butter rather than boiling because I worried that this recipe would bring tears to the eyes with the amount of onion. It worked very successfully though, perhaps because the recipe was amended to use half the onion recommended.

20 onions
50 sage leaves
1kg breadcrumbs
200g butter
5 eggs
Salt and pepper

Boil the onions for 5 minutes. Add the sage leaves for the last 2 minutes of boiling.
Chop sage and onion very finely.
Combine with breadcrumbs and butter.
Season.
Bind with beaten egg and make into balls.
Bake at 220°C for around 30 minutes - until crisp and resembling stuffing..

Stilton and Walnut Tart (for the vegetarians)
This recipe was adapted. Again, this wasn't me!

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
600g onions
375g pack ready rolled shortcrust pastry
200g Stilton
50g pack walnut pieces
Dried cranberries, for topping

Thinly slice the onions. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and fry until softened and lightly browned.
Add the vinegar, season, then cook for a further 5 minutes, until lightly caramelised. Leave to cool.
Unroll the pastry and use to line a 23 x 33cm / 9 x 13 inch shallow oblong tin
Spread over the onions, then crumble the stilton on top and scatter with walnuts.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 220°C until the pastry is golden and the cheese has melted.
Top with chopped, dried cranberries.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Cooking with Marmite - Chilli con Carne and Spicy Sausage 'Patatas Bravas'

Although I'm the only one who has a food blog, I'm definitely not the best cook of my friends. Indeed, I think most of them who would identify themselves as 'people who cook' actually have much more skill. For example, my friend with the slow cooker. She had mad seasoning skillz of which I'm very, very jealous. She, like me, also has a penchant for slow cooked/casserole type dishes. A little (and only a little) of the credit for her excellent stews has to go to her slow cooker. I remember having a taste of beef stew with dumplings that she made: so warming. And another time, she cooked a patatas bravas type dish with little bits of sausage. That's what I had a crack at this week. I can't remember whether I explicitly asked her or whether I just remembered that she often used Marmite in her sauces but I decided to dabble there a little. I hate Marmite. But my recent foray into using it in stews has significantly improved my stew making.

Beef chilli (feeds 5)
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 carrots, diced
1 large red chilli, chopped finely
1 large green chilli, chopped finely

500g beef mince
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp oregano

1 x400g can kidney beans, drained
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp Marmite
Salt and pepper

Fry the onion, garlic, carrots and chilli in a little vegetable oil on a high heat until just starting to soften. Add the beef mince, cumin and thyme and brown the mince. Add the kidney beans, tomato puree, oregano and chilli powder. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the Marmite and lower the heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Cover and let simmer for an hour. Serve with rice and cheese (if you want it). Interestingly, my recipe is very similar to smitten kitchen's even though I'd never seen it before.

Spicy Sausage and Potato Stew (feeds 3)
1 large onion, diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 cumberland sausages
2 large potatoes, cut into bitesize pieces
2 large carrots, cut into bitesize pieces
2 tsp thyme leaves

1x 400g tinned cherry tomatoes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Marmite
Salt and pepper

Brown the sausages in a large saucepan on a high heat. Add the onion, chilli and garlic and fry 'til the onion is translucent on a medium heat. Add the potatoes, carrots and thyme then fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes, paprika and enough water to just cover. Season and add Marmite. Cover and simmer on a low heat for an hour. Also I have noticed that most of my 'recipes' recently have been barely recipes since they're all basically the same process: frying onion, garlic (sometimes chilli), meat, vegetables, herbs, liquid then simmering for a little while. Sorry, it's just what I love eating. But I must try harder.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Recipe - Curry Chicken Rice

This meal warranted an entry only because the friend who I was feeding commented it was one of my best ever. I don't think I agree but, as one of my mother's recipes that I cook quite frequently, I thought 'why not?' The reason she ended up eating one of my Tupperware 'delights' is because she's sometimes very bad at feeding herself and I always have food. I'll set the scene! We'd just been at a gig where we'd had a rather terse exchange. I was in a bad mood because of yet another crappy exchange with my ex-boyfriend. Or, as I prefer to call him, 'the gift that keeps on giving'. Hey, someone recently criticised this blog for being overly bitchy and I protested. YOU WERE RIGHT, WILL. Anyway, my friend decided it would be funny to pretend to tell people I held a candle for someone I found quite grating. And that the real reason I didn't want to be around them was because they made me nervous. I laughed to myself as I typed this because that was funny. But I was in a bad mood at the time and got annoyed. A RECURRING THEME. So I snapped. And then apologised. Then fought the urge to leave (I felt fragile). And then we sat in the soft furnishings area and she complimented the food.


Chicken Curry Rice
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 finger chilli, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 clove

4 skinless chicken thighs
1 large potato, cut into bitesize pieces
1 broccoli, cut into florets

250g rice
Salt

Fry the onion, chilli and garlic in 2 tbsp vegetable oil on medium-high heat. 
Once very soft (but not browned), add the spices and stir for a minute until forming a paste. 
Add the chicken and colour on both sides, 2 minutes on each side. 
Add the potatoes and fry for another minute. 
Add the broccoli and cover to coat with spices. Add the rice and salt to stir well to mix everything. 
Add enough water to cover the mixture and cover the mixture with 2 inches of water from the highest level. 
Cover, lower the heat to medium and simmer until the rice is cooked and the potatoes are soft.