Month: January 2014

Week 17: Lamb Lollipops

I did it again, I reached for the 15 Minute Meals book.  Like last time there was a lot of mess, a massive panic, and the need to scrub my entire kitchen.

I’ve had my eye on this recipe since I got the book, and it took a bit of work gathering all the ingredients, but I finally got everything together.  To feed four the recipe calls for: 300g basmati rice, 8 cloves, 40g red lentils, 300g peas, 8 lamb cutlets, 1 tbsp garam masala, 4 spring onions, a red chilli, a thumb sized bit of ginger, 4 jarred red peppers, 1 tsp runny honey, splash balsamic vinegar, 1 tin coconut milk, and 2 tbsp Patak’s korma paste.

I feel just like a Blue Peter presenter when I spread all the ingredients out, but I found with the Lamb Meatballs (Week 11 https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/week-11-lamb-meatballs-chop-salad-harissa-yoghurt/ ) that for the timings to work, everything needs to be ready to throw in.  Of course, what I should have done was made sure the chilli, ginger, peppers and spring onions were chopped before I started – and so should you 😉

Firstly, put two frying pans on the heat and then put the rice in a saucepan with two mugs full of boiling water and the cloves.  Add a pinch of salt and put the lid on the pan.  Rub the shanks with salt, pepper, and the garam masala, bash them flat and put them in one of the frying pans with a tablespoon of olive oil.

In the other frying pan stir together the coconut milk, korma paste and the juice of half a lemon (pre-juice the lemon or you’ll read that and panic like I did) bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the lentils in with the rice then two or three minutes later (the time that Jamie thinks you can chop up the spring onions, chilli, ginger and peppers) toss the spring onions, chilli, ginger and peppers in with the lamb, then stir the peas into the rice.

By this time it should all be pretty much cooked… having said that I had managed to pretty much boil the rice onto the pan because I’m a slow chopper.  Fluff up the rice and – depending on how you want to serve it – plate it up or put it in a serving bowl, the same goes for the curry sauce.

Toss the lamb with the honey and a splash of balsamic and serve.  Jamie recommended serving with a scatter of coriander leaves, scrunched up poppadoms and natural fat free yoghurt… but I ignored him.

The rice was delicious, I’ve never used a lentil without glitter and glue before, but I think they really added to the flavour – I’ll make the rice again with other meals.

The bit I would change is the cut of meat used.  Cutlets are really tricky to eat, there was a lot of rice on the floor by the time I’d finished and I ended up eating loads of the fat and still ended up leaving loads stuck to be bones.  Also, my lover hates meat on the bone and eating fat, so maybe cutlets wasn’t the best choice for dinner!

I would definitely make it again, just not with cutlets.

 

Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver (Penguin 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15780-7)

 

Week 16: Steak et Frites de Legumes Racines

That is your actual French for ‘Steak and root-vegetable fries’, which is exactly what it was.

Little Paris Kitchen

My lover bought Rachel Khoo’s “The Little Paris Kitchen” about 18 months ago, and this is the first time we’ve made anything from it.  The objective for this week’s new recipe was to christen the griddle pan he bought to match the new skillet (see Periodic Pudding number 2: Tarte Tatin http://wp.me/p42Dr4-2a for a tour of my lovely new skillet).  I ended up using the skillet again.  Griddle fail.

I’ve done steak before, watery supermarket clingfilm steak, never good steak from the butchers.  If I’d done a bit of meaty research before I started I could have avoided a heart attack at the butchers.

The recipe calls for a 500g rib-eye steak, which cost me £12.00 and first refusal on my left kidney.  I didn’t realise that I could have used fillet, skirt, rump or sirloin instead – but I don’t like changing ingredients the first time I make a recipe.

The recipe also calls for ground almonds, sunflower oil, salt, pepper, a sweet potato, a parsnip and a carrot to make the root-vegetable fries.

I think it was this that attracted me to this recipe – I don’t like steak with fat chips, and I don’t have space in my tiny freezer for frozen french fries.  Also, I’ve neither owned or cooked a sweet potato before, so it was all good.

Looking back, I think I was a little too eager with my first sweet potato purchase, it took forever to cut up and then made a few too many fries – which didn’t fit onto my too-small tray.  I didn’t think this would be a problem, but it did ultimately affect the way they cooked so some were a bit soggy.

I was all ready to season and sear the steak when my lover viciously thrashed it was the rolling pin.  I was quite shocked, especially as he beat it to be bigger than the skillet… which was silly.  Apparently it was necessary, but I did wince at the thought of him knocking seven bells out of an expensive piece of meat.  But it fit in the pan (after a bit of squashing back)

I gave it about 4 minutes on each side and then put it in the oven with the fries.

steak frites 6

Without wanting to sound too conceited; it was absolutely delicious.  Who knew sweet potato fries would be so nice?  I served it with a healthy blob of my special mustard from the Scandi Kitchen, which is milder than normal Coleman’s or Dijon, so it didn’t overpower the taste of the meat.

I’ll try it again with the griddle, a less expensive cut of meat, and a smaller sweet potato.  The Little Paris Kitchen is a very good book – Rachel Khoo writes informatively about the food and cooking techniques, and makes the giant meals of French cuisine look achievable.  I already have my eye on her Clafoutis.  Oo la la la.

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)

Week 15a: Thai Chickpea Curry

Those darn waxy potatoes taunting me again!

After the vegetable cutlets debacle (http://wp.me/p42Dr4-X) I went online to find out which potatoes were waxy and which weren’t – I was surprised to learn that there are so many!  Unfortunately, I was looking on the run up to Christmas, and the already limited choice of potatoes in Hammersmith was distinctly floury.

Then, I chanced upon a pack of Maris Peer potatoes in M&S Foodhall.  I pounced on them, and then bought them to avoid the angry stares of security.  Not wanting to try feeding my lover the cutlets again I remembered a different recipe in the Cupboard Love book:  Thai Chickpea Curry!

This curry uses garlic, fresh ginger, black pepper, vegetable oil, a medium sized waxy potato, madras curry powder, coconut milk, a tin of chickpeas, tomatoes, soy sauce, salt and sugar.  For once, I had most of the ingredients in, and the others weren’t hard to find.

Then I hit my only hurdle.  The recipe asked me to pound or blitz the ginger, pepper and ginger into a paste.  I didn’t have  pounder or a blitzer, but the waxy potatoes were mocking me, so I had to improvise:

My rolling pin and tin foil blitz-pounding-extravaganza!  It didn’t turn very paste-like, more like lumpy dust actually, but I had to improvise…

Like all wok-cooked curries, everything else gets lobbed in pretty quickly, and then it boils and simmers down, from this:

To this:

The tomatoes get put in for the last few minutes.  The recipe said to put in basil or coriander, but I didn’t have either (and it was the night before I escaped north for Christmas so I wasn’t going to get any in specially) so I left it out.

I have to say, it turned out delicious.

Thai Chickpea 5

I’ve made it three times now, and its turned out slightly differently every time.  The only problem I have with this curry is that what my body does to cheap eggs is nothing compared to what it can do to half a can of chickpeas.

I canvassed my friends and the various suggestions for making chickpeas less gassy included peeling the chickpeas (which I don’t fancy doing for a whole tin of them) adding parsley (which either stops the gas or makes it smell like parsley…?) or either cooking the chickpeas for longer or shorter (but my friend couldn’t remember which)

If anyone knows how to make chickpeas less ‘trumpy’ or knows a substitute that’s as tasty and comes in a handy 400g tin, please do not hesitate to post a comment below (No, seriously, please do – I can’t open my bedroom windows, I need a solution before I make it again)

But to end on a nicer note, I bought myself a little present before I cracked open the tinfoil to make it a third time:

My kitchen’s becoming high-tech!

(I meant to post this Christmas week, and I completely forgot – and now its the end of January… So Slack!)

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Week 15: Cheddar Cheese Risotto

It’s been so long since I made a risotto I’d forgotten why I stopped; but I thought it would be good to give it another go.

Rather than dust of my old ‘blow-out risotto’, I reached for my Nigella Express book.  This recipe uses 1 tbs butter, 1 tbs oil, 2 baby leeks (I could only find adolescent ones in Sainsbury’s, so I made do with them) 300g risotto rice, 125ml white wine, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 litre hot vegetable stock, 125g Cheddar cheese and some chives.

I had my old faithful grating cheddar in the fridge, but I decided to save it for another day and get something special instead.  I bought some Montgomery Cheddar from Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden, which nearly got eaten on the bus home.

After heating the butter and oil in the pan I tossed in the leaks to soften.  I’m not sure what a baby leek is, but they didn’t have one in Sainsbury’s so I bought one big one.

I love leeks!  Once the leeks were soft I stirred in the rice and after a minute or two I added the wine and mustard and kept stirring until the wine was absorbed.

Then came the really boring bit, the bit that reminded me of the other reason I stopped making risotto.  I had to ladle and stir in a litre of hot stock into the rice, only adding the next ladle-full of stock when the last one had been absorbed.  I think the rice got full pretty quickly, because by the end of Nigella’s prescribed 18 minutes, there was still quite a bit of the stock left and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

I ignored it.  Rather a smaller risotto than a wet one!

I weighed out and cut the Cheddar  into chunks, and stirred it into the risotto for a few minutes until it began to melt and then served it up with a sprinkling of chives (which I mostly sprinkled all over my kitchen)

I liked the taste, but not how it felt in my mouth (as the Actress said to the Bishop).  There’s something about the texture of risotto that makes me feel a little ill, so I probably won’t make this again, but it tasted delicious.  The Montgomery Cheddar has a very strong flavour, whereas the leek and white wine are quite tart, so they really complimented each other.

Maybe I’ll use the flavour combination again in some sort of exotic quiche?

But hurrah!  I finally managed to make something for Cheese, Please!

 

Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)


									

Rhubarb Crumble with Incorrect Custard

I’ve always thought that there is nothing as nice as an unexpected pudding.

After I Tatin’d myself last week (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/periodic-pudding-number-2-tarte-tatin/) I was a bit pudding shy, but then I was looking for a new cake to try and decided on a Rhubarb and Almond Loaf from the Hummingbird Bakery ‘Cake Days’ book.  The smallest (only) pack of rhubarb I could find was big enough to make four cakes, which is far too many even for me, so I decided to try making crumble, so as not to waste the rhubarb.

I’d never made a crumble before, hence my proud writing about it here.  This particular crumble is a bit of a franken-crumble on account of the fruit being stewed to the Rhubarb and Almond Loaf recipe, and the crumble being roughly to Nigella’s recipe in ‘How to Eat’

Rhubarb Crumble 1

Unfortunately the stewed rhubarb lost its colour whilst being baked, but it didn’t while being turned into crumble.  My mum has always had a rhubarb patch, so I had never cooked or eaten pink rhubarb before.

To stew the rhubarb, cut 4-5 stalks into 2cm pieces and stew with 70g caster sugar and 30g of butter in 50ml of water – I used double these quantities to stew the whole pack; but I took out 100g for the cake.

I chose Nigella’s crumble mix above all the other recipes I had to base my crumble on, because that was the only one that mentioned being good for rhubarb.

For a medium sized dish, rub together 75g or self-raising flour, 75g of porridge oats, 90g of butter, 4 tablespoons of light muscovado sugar and 2 of vanilla sugar.  I put it in the oven for 30 minutes on gas 5 (190c).

Whilst it was in the oven I had my first bash at custard.  I’m not ashamed to say that I used Bird’s custard powder – it’s what I was raised on, and I don’t like to see other custards.  I followed the instructions on the side of the tin, made the paste while the milk heated and mixed them together.  Then I did something pretty silly.  It seemed too runny – I hate runny custard – so I added more powder…

I didn’t realise that instant custard thickens when it is returned to the pan and brought to the boil.  I’m very ashamed to say that the custard stopped moving before it boiled.  Also, I really shouldn’t have let it cool.

Rhubarb Crumble 2

I didn’t keep my other slice for the next day, it wasn’t very nice – but the crumble was lovely!

Week 14: Crabby Noodles

Ladies and Gentlemen there is a dead crab in my kitchen.

It still has eyeballs.

crabbynoodles1

I called it Nigel.  I’ll admit I chickened out of getting one I’d need to wrestle into a pan of boiling water for a whistle-y death in my kitchen;  I got a dressed one instead.  One day, I’m sure I will commit crabicide – but not the first time I’ve cooked it!

I saw the Crabby Noodles in the Cupboard Love book on week 12 when I did the Thai Style Noodle Fry-Up – https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/week-12-a-thai-style-noodle-fry-up/ –  and thought it would be good to give it a go.

The recipe uses: rice stick noodles, chilli and garlic sauce, spring onions, courgette, Thai fish sauce, lime, and crab meat.

I got everything lined up ready like they do on the telly.  It was good to be organised, and I felt just like Nigella (however, I looked more like Mrs Craddock) – more importantly I could baff it all in the wok without having to panic.

It cooked so quickly I couldn’t really take any other pictures, until it was all bubbling at the end, as seen above!

I had a slight crab panic, because I didn’t know if I should save the spare meat for lunch the next day; or if it would kill me after being in the fridge so long.  So rather than die, I lobbed it all in and it was a little too crabby.  My lover said I should have put more courgette in, but if I’d got one any bigger it would have been a marrow.  I think next time I’ll just use the quantity the recipe asks for, and pop the rest in the freezer.

crabbynoodles2

When I have a bigger freezer, I’ll buy a few crabs at once and portion them off so I can make this quickly; but I’ll definitely make this again!

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)

Available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cupboard-Love-Most-Your-Kitchen/dp/0340835265

Periodic Pudding number 2: Tarte Tatin.

I am clearly mad.  What on earth would posses a normal thirty-something to have a whirl at a Tarte Tatin on a Tuesday afternoon?

A new skillet.  That’s what.

Way back before Mince Pie season was up on us, I threatened to make the occasional pudding (see http://wp.me/p42Dr4-L ) to spur me into making deserts, and so break up the savoury-ness of this blog. Anyway, I bought myself a skillet that I could put in the oven the other day, and by chance my Great British Bake-Off ‘How to Bake’ book fell open at the Tarte Tatin page en-route to the recipe for Bakewell Cupcakes.

“Aha!” I thought, “A glamorous pudding I can serve to my friends when they come to visit later in the month”  Word would get back up north that I could cook.  Boom.

For those of you who don’t know – like me – the Tarte Tatin was accidentally invented by one of the Tatin Sisters at their hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in the 1880s.  I’m guessing there are hundreds of recipes out there on the internet, so I shall not give the recipe here for fear of Mary Berry’s ninja’s coming after me.

I was slightly concerned that my new skillet wasn’t non-stick, then I realised I had the coat the bottom of the pan in a massive amount of butter.  There’s no way that this was staying in the pan.  Little did I know how prophetical that statement was…

A massive amount of sugar, just to hide the butter, and then I had to peel and core a load of apples.  The recipe asked for Golden Delicious apples, which I don’t really like, but I trusted in the recipe and gave them a go.

All ready to start caramelising.  Now, I have a confession to make:  I have never made caramel before.  This won’t be a shock to regular readers as prior to the start of the New Recipe Night project I hadn’t done a lot of things in the kitchen.

I think my skillet was too small.  Mary’s idea of 8 inches was bigger than mine.  As a result, pretty soon after I turned the gas on the buttery sugar mix started to bubble over the sides of my pan:

Without wanting to be too dramatic, I ended up welding hot apple-y sugar across half of my hob.  Which I’d just cleaned…  I think this is where I started to go wrong; when the caramel started to turn brown I assumed the burning smell was coming from the bits catching on the burner.

The instructions were a little vague about how brown the caramel should go, and looking back I can safely say I burned it.

I got the pastry on right, tucked it in as tightly as I dared with the boiling caramel and red hot iron pan and put it in my pre-heated oven.

Even though I knocked twenty degrees off to take into account the fan, I still think the oven was too hot, and the instructions a little vague about how long it would need.  I was still quite impressed when it came out… slightly browner than I’d like around the handle obviously.  Unfortunately this is the only pudding in history to look better upside-down.

I chose to turn it out onto my taking-cake-on-the-tube plate, in case I dropped the skillet on it.  I was very excited to see my perfect Tarte Tatin that I could proffer at my impressed lover on his return from work…

To put it bluntly, if the Tatin Sister’s first Tarte Tatin had turned out like mine, they’d have lobbed it in the bin and gone straight to the cheese course.

tarte tatin 7

When I showed my friends this, one of them said he “thought it was a sliced hunk of meat” – I can see his point, and it’s not the best picture, but that’s how my Tatin turned out.  It wasn’t very nice, the apples didn’t have much flavour, the non-blackened bits were just hot and wet.  The caramel was very bitter and I some how burned the pastry.

There was a time last night when I thought I might festively dust it with icing sugar, but I reconsidered – no one likes a nasty surprise under the snow!

I wish I’d had more ice cream.  It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but I’m torn between trying again, trying a different recipe, and choosing something else to make.  Two separate friends told me about the Roux Brother’s method of making a Tatin, which I may try.  I also might try reducing the quantities of butter and sugar to save my poor hob.

Stay tuned for more New Recipe Night.

** NEWSFLASH – I HAD ANOTHER GO AND IT WORKED! ** recipe here: https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/tatinimo

Week 13: Lozza’s Lamb Biryani

Oof… Happy New Year Y’all!

Welcome to the first weekly installment of New Recipe Night – from now on, every Friday!

It also marks the first recipe made from the first cookery book I’ve bought in six months – only because it was on offer when I bought my mum one for Christmas.  It was rude not to buy it really.  The book is Lorraine Pascale’s Fast Fresh and Easy food:

Lorraine Pascale

To serve four, the recipe uses Vegetable Oil, 5 Cardamom Pods, 2 tsp Garam Masala, 2 tsp Ground Tumeric, 1tsp Ground Cumin, 1 tsp Chilli Powder, a bunch of Spring Onions, 500g Lamb Chump Steak, 350g Basmati Rice, a tin of Coconut Milk, 100g Sundried Tomatoes, 50g Raisins and 25g Toasted Flaked Almonds.

I halved the quantities to make it for two people.  Splitting it worked really well, with the added bonus that I can make it the day after Nigella’s Curry in a Hurry (see week 8: https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/week-8-curry-in-a-hurry/) using the left-over coconut milk.  However, this is one recipe I wouldn’t make then freeze – just because I’m a bit gun-shy about freezing rice, but it’s really quick to make so it’s OK.

Unfortunately, with it being the last Saturday before Christmas when I made it, the butcher didn’t have lamb so I used beef instead.

It went together really easily and I was surprised just how straight forward the recipe was, especially after the Jamie Oliver recipe last week!

To start, heat a bit of oil in a pan, slam the cardamom pods open and put them in a pan with all the spices for 3 or 4 minutes.  While this is cooks finely slice the spring onions, and cut the lamb into bite-size pieces (although my lovely butcher did this for me)

Turn the heat up and lob in the lamb and onions, with a little more oil, and brown the meat for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the rice, coconut milk and 100ml of water.  Fit the lid, bring it up to the boil and then turn it down to a very gentle simmer and leave it for the amount of time the rice takes to cook (it says it on the packet)

When its done, you take off the lid and it should look like this (preferably better than this) and it will be just like Christmas!

While its cooking cut up the sundried tomatoes, some coriander (or mint) and stir them into the biryani when the rice is done, along with the raisins, and heat for a couple of minutes.

Season it with some salt and pepper, maybe stir in a knob of butter if you want your biryani to be extra creamy (I didn’t) and plate it up.  Artfully sprinke some more coriander/mint and the toasted flaked almonds over it and serve it to admiring diners (who will shower you with compliments and maybe wash up)

biryani 4

The only thing I would change if I used beef again would be the cut of beef.  When I told the butcher I was doing biryani he selected a cut of stewing beef, and as this recipe is really quick to cook the beef was pretty chewy.  Delicious, but chewy.

Lorraine Pascale’s instructions are much clearer than mine, so I reckon this book is a must have for your kitchen (and its always really cheap in Smiths’)

Fast Fresh and Easy Food by Lorraine Pascale (Harper Collins 2012 ISBN: 978-0-00-793482-9)

Available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lorraine-Pascales-Fast-Fresh-Easy/dp/0007489668/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388749392&sr=1-1&keywords=lorraine+pascale+fast+fresh+and+easy+food or on 2 for £10/3 for £12.50 at WHSmith.