Month: May 2014

Week 34: Squash, Coconut, Chilli

I once knew a girl who spent time working at a butternut squash farm, and I’ve never been able to look at them without smirking ever since.  However, I was flicking through the books looking for something simple to cook and found this recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Three Good Things on a Plate’ on the page after the lentil curry that stank my flat out (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/week-20-lentils-spinach-potato/).

It meant getting over my squash-giggles, but this week I bought my first ever butternut squash.  It’s surprisingly difficult to buy a small one – small being 1kg.  Who knew?

The recipe makes enough curry to serve 4, I would recommend making it in the same quantities as the recipe and freezing half if there’s only two of you (unless you have half a tin of coconut milk handy).  To make this curry you will need: A Squash (800g-1kg, either a Butternut, Kabocha or Crown Prince Squash), Sunflower Oil, 1 Onion, 2 Garlic Cloves, 2-4 Mild or Medium Red Chillies, curry powder/curry paste, Coconut Milk, a Lime or a Lemon, Salt and Pepper.

Since making this I have found out that you can buy prepared chunks of butternut squash, and vegetarians have lots of hacks to make the preparation of them much quicker.  I had no prior Squash-knowledge, and spent ages wrestling the squash into peeled and de-seeded bite-sized chunks with my battered old 50p peeler.  While you’re at it, thinly chop the onion, garlic and chillies, and lay them out on your board as if you’re a Blue Peter presenter (see above).

Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large saucepan, and gently cook the onion over a medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and the chillies and after two more minutes stir in a tablespoon (or two) of curry powder/curry paste and cook for a few more minutes.

Toss in the squash, season with salt and pepper and stir it round for a minute or two to make sure the squash is covered in the rest of the mix:

squashchilli3

Pour in the coconut milk, stir, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  After 15 minutes I tossed in some fine beans like Hugh suggested.  Every so often I gently stirred it, as directed.

When the squash is tender, turn off the heat and stir in the juice of a lemon or a lime; I chose a lime.

squashchilli2

Just as I started cooking the squash my lover came up to me and asked if I thought butternut squashes were like pumpkins, which he is insanely allergic to… but what’s a meal without a spot of peril?

Luckily dinner didn’t kill him, and it has been requested again.  I put 2 chillies in but next time I’m going to put 4 in, or use stronger curry powder, or both.  A delicious curry which makes the flat smell lovely.

Yum!

 

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 33: Savoury Clafoutis

I always said that if you hung on in there, I’d show you my Clafoutis.

Actually, it’s not mine, it’s Rachel Khoo’s from her Little Paris Kitchen book.  A Clafoutis is traditionally a French Dessert, but recent the French have started to cut out the sugar and swap the fruit for savoury treats like cheese.

And that’s just what I’ve done (like the recipe told me to)  To make a 2 man Clafoutis you will need: 2 eggs, salt, 25g ground almonds, 1 tbs plain flour, 50g creme fraiche, 50ml milk, 50h mature cheese (I used Comte, but you can use Gruyere, Cheddar or Goat’s Cheese), 50g cherry tomatoes and 25g of black olives.

To start, butter and flour your Clafoutis-ing tin, and turn the oven up to 180c.  Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt until they are pale and thick.  Sift in the flour and almonds and then fold them in with the creme fraiche and the milk.

Scatter the cheese, tomatoes and olives in the prepared Clafoutis-ing tin and pour the batter over it and sling it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Now here’s where I got slightly confused, I genuinely thought that a Clafoutis would be more like a toad-in-the-hole than a fritatta… and it wasn’t even that much like a fritatta:

Behold!  My Clafoutis! (As the actress said to the bishop) it was kinda like an omlette-y foccacia.  My lover told me that it was pretty bland and I shouldn’t make it again, but I liked it.  Clafoutis for one I think!

The Clafoutis recipe is in the summer picnics section of the book, and it can be eaten hot or cold.  I was tempted to go and eat it on the front step for the Lazy London Picnic experience but chose plates around the coffee table instead.  Unlike the quiche I didn’t get to try it cold.

I’ve got the recipe for a sweet version, so I might inflict that on him over the summer.  As punishment.

 

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

Little Paris Kitchen

Week 32: Baked Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa, Coconut Rice and Beans

I nearly made this recipe instead of the chicken curry that everyone thought was beef.

It was the perfect recipe to christen the casserole dish I bought way back in August, which I’ve been dusting all year after not fancying casserole.  Fickle me.

There are a lot of different elements to this dish, I wouldn’t bother with the pineapple salsa again; it’s just messy and gets in the way.  To make this dish to feed four you will need: 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 4 large chicken lags/breasts/8 thighs/assortment of wings and drumsticks, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 – 4 tablespoons Tabasco, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar (I used golden caster), 2 tsp ground allspice, 2 tsp mustard powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, soy sauce, 2 limes, half an orange, fresh thyme, half a pineapple/400g chunks, 6 cherry tomatoes, coriander, 400g tin kidney beans, 350g long grain rice, tin of coconut milk, 2cm piece of fresh ginger and 1 red chilli.

Cut the onion into wedges and bash the garlic cloves and put them into the casserole dish with the chicken pieces.  Turn the oven on to 200c/Gas 6.

In a bowl mix together the balsamic, Tabasco, sugar, allspice, mustard powder, cinnamon, soy sauce, juice of 1 lime, zest and juice of half the orange and some thyme leaves.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and pour half over the chicken.  Stir it round with the chicken and onion, put it in the oven when it looks like this:

The chicken goes into the oven for 30 minutes, after 15 minutes pour the remaining sauce over it and give it a good stir.

If you’re going to make the pineapple salsa: chop the pineapple into small chunks, quarter the cherry tomatoes and put in a bowl with the juice of the other lime and some roughly cut up coriander and take it to the table.

Boil the kettle and put a pan with a lid on high on the hob, tip the rice in with the coconut milk and bring it to the boil.  Drain the kidney beans, peel and grate the ginger and halve, de-seed and chop the chilli.  If you’re not doing the salsa maybe do this before you put the pan on.  Once the coconut milk is boiling add water from the kettle to cover the rice (Lorraine recommends filling to 2cm above the rice, but this is really hard to judge when it mixes with the coconut milk…) add the ginger and the chilli and turn the heat down.

You need to simmer the rice for the amount of time it says on the packet, 5 minutes before the rice is done add the kidney beans on top without stirring in.  If you put the right amount of water in the last of the water should be gone by the time the rice is done, so you shouldn’t have to strain it.

Check the chicken is cooked by piercing it (there should be no pinkness) Fluff up the rice, stirring in the beans, and plate it up.  Spoon the chicken and sauces over the rice and sprinkle with some more coriander.

I’m not sure about making it again; if I do I think it’s a definite November/December dish.  The cinnamon and allspice combination just made it really Christmassy, like one of those Yankee Candles – not really something to cook in May haha.  I only managed one spoonful of Tabasco, but only because I ran out – I’m not that much of a chicken, although much more would have given me the hiccups!

I’d probably also make it with normal rice, the coconutty rice went a bit like rice pudding.  All in all, not the best dinner but I’m glad I tried jerking in the kitchen.

 

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

Lorraine Pascale

Week 31: Quiche Lorraine

A familiar cry that goes out around the kitchens of Britain on an unusually sunny day:  “Oo it’s nice out, lets just have a salad”.  The weather needs to perk up before I start plonking a bit of iceberg on a plate and calling it dinner,  so I went for the next best thing – quiche.

It is actually illegal to eat quiche in winter, so I’ve been holding back on the ‘picnic foods’ until the weather perked up.  I have a love-hate relationship with quiche.  I like it, but one bad quiche can put me off for a whole ‘quiche season’, so I thought it was quite a gamble making my first ever quiche at the start of May.  Daring huh?

For quiche number one I chose a classic Quiche Lorraine, which is basically an egg and bacon tart.  The recipe I chose marked my second go at a recipe from Rachel Khoo’s ‘The Little Paris Kitchen’ – I’d been itching to have a crack at French style pastry!

To make the pastry for a quiche that will serve 4 – 6 you will need 90g soft butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch of salt, 180g plain flour, 2 egg yolks and some ice-cold water.

For the filling, Rachel Khoo recommends 150g lardons or cubed of smoked bacon, 4 eggs, 2 extra egg yolks, 300g creme fraiche or double cream, salt and pepper.

With a wooden spoon beat together the butter, sugar and salt until soft and creamy.  Mix in the flour then the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water.  Keep mixing until it comes together into a smooth ball.  The recipe says that if its a bit too crumbly you should add a bit more water, but I didn’t need to do that.  Wrap it in cling-film and pop it in the fridge overnight (but an hour or two is fine).

Thirty minutes before you want need to use it, take the pastry out of the fridge.  Roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is 5mm thick and big enough to line your quiche dish.  I’ve never rolled out pastry in this way, it was surprisingly hard work but worked well.  Line the tin in one go, brush with some of the egg whites you saved earlier (I should have mentioned that earlier) and put the pastry case back in the fridge.

Turn the oven on to 180 and make a start on the filling.  Fry the bacon until golden brown then leave to cool on some paper towel to soak up the extra grease.  My lover likes his bacon burned to a crisp, so I really should have bought bigger lardons…

Lightly beat the eggs and egg yolks, add the creme fraiche (I used double cream) and season.  Take the pastry out of the fridge, spread the bacon on the bottom, then pour in the egg mix and put in the oven to 35 – 40 minutes.

This is where I started to panic.  The quiche swelled up like a massive eggy-bouffant.  I had no idea what to do.  I thought about poking it but decided against in case it exploded.

lorraine7

Luckily it deflated when it cooled down.  I had no idea that quiches did this while cooking, but it does at least explain why some shop bought ones look a bit like cats arses.

It was getting a bit late by the time I served it up so I had to eat it hot – I have a genuine dislike for warm quiche, but this was alright.  If I could make it again I would get taller bacon so it was more than just a massive scrambled egg on top of a thin layer of carbonised lardons, but it tasted really good.  The bacon wasn’t as good cold the next day, but I shouldn’t have bought ready-cut lardons from Tesco’s.

lorraine5

I’ve not forgotten about quiche-ing that risotto.  I declare quiche season open!

 

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

Little Paris Kitchen

Week 30: Pasta alla Genovese

I know its a bit of a cop out, but my brain dribbled out of my ear as I chewed on the ears of my seventeenth Lindt bunny, so I chose this recipe purely because it was green.

Green just like the spring haha.  I have never cooked with Pesto before, or said the words “Ooo its got pesto in, I’ll have that”, so I thought it would be good to try something new.  And it meant I got to use the machine again…

Vroom!

As I read the ingredients list, I thought about getting garlic bread so I could pack all the carbs into one dish, but decided that the pasta and potatoes would be enough on their own.

To make this for 4 you will need: 500g floury potatoes (like King Edwards, cut up into half inch chunks), 500g linguine, 200g fine beans, 100g basil leaves, 100g grated Parmesan, 1 garlic clove, 100ml olive oil, and 100ml extra virgin olive oil.

You will need a large pan, filled with enough salted water to boil the potatoes and the pasta.  Put the potato chunks in and bring to the boil and boil for 20 minutes.

Add the pasta and boil for the length of time recommended on the packet and four minutes before the end, then throw in the beans.  Note: if you are using fresh pasta, boil the potatoes for 28-30 minutes and then put the beans in, put the pasta in so it will be cooked when everything else is done… use dried pasta.

Nigella says that for this dish you need to make the pesto yourself, in a blender!  Vroom!  While the pan is on with the potato and pasta put the basil leaves, Parmesan, garlic and oil into the mixer and blitz it until it looks like pesto… which is really hard to photograph.

Take half a cup full of the cooking water from the pan and then drain the potatoes, pasta and beans.  Off the heat return them to the pan and stir in the pesto and the cooking water and serve immediately.

genovese3

I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong; it just didn’t really taste of anything.  My friend suggested that I’d not salted the water enough (I had) and I thought maybe my Parmesan wasn’t flavour-full enough.  While it smelled amazing and looked devine it was pretty bland so I don’t know if I’ll make it again.

And I still don’t totally see what all the fuss is about with pesto!

 

Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2010, ISBN 9780701184605)

Nigella Kitchen