Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Toovar dal with tamarind, tomatoes and curry leaves

This is a Bangladesh recipe from Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey. I've made quite a few different dal's, but this is one of the nicest, it has more spices than some other recipes and the addition of tomatoes too, but this makes it more interesting.  I made some homemade chili chapati's to go with the dal and basmati rice. 

Serves 4 - 6

250g toovar dal
2 tbsp each vegetable oil and mustard oil
100g onions, thinly sliced
15g garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
200g chopped vine-ripened tomatoes
1 tbsp tamarind water
4 green cayenne chillies, slit open lengthways
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10-12 curry leaves
4 cloves
10cm cinnamon stick, halved
lime wedges, to serve

Put the dal into a medium-sized pan with 1 litre of water, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes or until the dal is soft and the mixture has reduced and thickened.

When the dal is almost ready, heat 1 tablespoon of each of mustard and vegetable oil in a medium-sized pan.  Add the onion and fry for 6-8 minutes until soft and lightly golden.  Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin and coriander and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook until they just begin to soften.  Add the mixture to the dal with the tamarind water and chillies and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes.

Heat the remaining mustard and vegetable oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, cloves and cinnamon, cover with a lid and leave to sizzle for 1 minute until the mustard seeds stop popping.  Add to the dal and season to taste with salt.  Cover and leave for 5 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

Serve with lime wedges, basmati rice and chapatis.


250g chapati flour
tsp salt
chillies (optional)

Put 250g of chapati flour into a large bowl.  Add salt and chili if using. Next add enough water to the flour to form a dough.  Once a dough is formed knead for 5 minutes, cover and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll into circles of about 3-4 mm thick.
Heat a frying pan, and put in the circles of dough, fry until toasted on both sides.  Brush chapatis with melted butter. 
Keep warm and serve.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

pizza Fiorentina

The best pizza outside Italy ...... this is it! garlic, spinach, cheese and runny egg yolk! Bellissimo!

Makes 3 medium sized pizza's

20g dried yeast
30g golden caster sugar
1/4 pint of warm water
250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
fine semolina for dusting

1 tube of tomato puree
250g washed spinach
dried oregano
2 balls of mozzarella
1 clove of garlic
olive oil
3 free-range eggs
salt and pepper

Put the sugar and yeast into a large bowl, add the warm water and mix.
pour the flour and salt onto the water, sugar and yeast mix and stir until mixed.  If the mixture if too dry or wet add flour or water accordingly until you are left with a dough.
Knead the dough for 5 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball, dust with flour and put back into a bowl.  Cover with cling-film and leave to double in size in a warm place for about an hour 
(you can make the spinach part of the topping in this hour).
Once the dough has doubled in size knead and punch the dough to get rid of all the air.  Cut into 3 pieces, shape into balls, cover and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
Dust a surface with the semolina and take one of the dough balls.  Take a rolling-pin and roll out into a circle, the base should be about 1/2 cm thick.
Place the rolled out dough on a greased pan and cook in a preheated oven at 180oc for about 10 minutes.

For the topping start by heating some olive oil in a pan, when the oil is hot add the spinach garlic and lots of salt and pepper.  When the spinach is wilted take off the heat and drain the excess water.

Once the dough has been in the oven for 10 minutes remove and spread with tomato puree, leaving a 1 cm gap around the edges.  Sprinkle on some oregano.
Drain the mozzarella and rip or chop.  Add this onto the pizza along with the drained spinach and a grating of nutmeg.
Cook the pizza for about 8 minutes or until the edges of the pizza are beginning to brown then remove from the oven.  Crack one of the eggs into the centre of the pizza and place back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Take out of the oven and serve straight away.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Chingri malai kari - king prawn and coconut curry

If you've never made a curry from scratch before this is for you! Don't be put off by the number of spices in this recipe, you can buy them all in your supermarket, and once you have them in your spice rack you'll be a curry master!
This recipe is from Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey, I want to eat everything in this book .... and i mean everything! If you own just one cook book, make sure it is this!

Serves 4

300g shallots or onions, roughly chopped
40g peeled ginger, roughly chopped
40g garlic, roughly chopped
400g large raw peeled prawns
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp mustard or vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
10-12 curry leaves
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp mild paprika
4 green cayenne chilies, 
slit open lengthways
300ml coconut milk
30g fresh coconut, finely grated
1 tbsp Garam masala
1 tsp jaggery or palm sugar
1 tbsp lime juice

Put the onion, ginger and garlic into a mini food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
put the prawns into a bowl and toss them with the turmeric and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, add the prawns and stir-fry briefly-just 1-2 minutes until they take on some colour.  Spoon onto a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan with the cumin seeds, bay leaves and curry leaves and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds. Add the onion paste. chili powder and paprika and fry gently for 1o minutes, stirring, until the paste is rich and aromatic.  Add 150ml water, cover and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring now and then.  Stir in the green chilies and simmer for a further 4 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Add the prawns, grated coconut, garam masala and sugar and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the prawns are cooked through.  Stir in the lime juice and serve.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Cabbage & sausage hotpot with cheesy mash

This is as easy to cook as beans on toast ... and far more tasty and impressive!  It's a recipe from Spooning With Rosie by Rosie Lovell.

Serves 4 

2 tablespoons of olive oil
12 sausages, which is about 770g
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or mild chili powder
1 white cabbage, weighing about 1.5kg
1 large glass of white white (about 200ml)
1 large pear
freshly ground black pepper 
sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated brown sugar

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, preferably something like a Le Creuset with a heavy bottom, on a medium flame.  Add the sausages ( do not prick them as you will lose the flavour - keeping the juice in the sausages also means that the meat is more succulent) for a few minutes with the fennel and mustard seeds and the cayenne pepper or chili powder.  the sausages should get a little browned and then be removed with some tongs on to a plate.  Set them aside while you finely slice the cabbage with a sharp knife.  You could also use a mandolin slicer here if you have one.  Now add the cabbage and and wine to the saucepan while you core and roughly chop the pear and add this in turn.  Place the lid on the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, removing the lid occasionally to stir and witness the wilting of the firm leaves of the cabbage.  Now turn down to a low flame and and return the tinged sausages to the pot, along with the pepper, salt and granulated sugar.  Simmer with the lid on for a further 20 minutes.  The cabbage should be delicate and have a transparent sheen to it by the time the hotpot is ready.  

For the cheesy mash, peel and chop about 5 large potatoes.  Boil in salted water until cooked all the way through.  Drain, and add a splash of milk and a large knob of butter and mash until smooth.  Put the mashed potato into a oven proof dish and grate a generous amount of cheddar cheese on top.  Bake in a hot oven (about 200oc) for about 10-15 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.

Lemon tart

This lemon tart is from Spooning With Rosie by Rosie Lovell.  It's really quick and easy to whip up.  I doubled the recipe to fit the tart tin I had at home.

Serves  2 with leftovers

100g of plain flower, plus extra for rolling
25g caster sugar
50g fridge-cold unsalted butter
1 medium free range egg yolk

the lemon filling
2 lemons
2 medium free-range egg yolks
2 medium free-range eggs
90g sugar (caster or icing)
150ml double cream

For the pastry, sift together the flour and sugar into a large bowl, and chop the butter into this.  Quickly and with cold dry hands, rub in the fat until it looks like damp breadcrumbs.  Separate the egg and throw the yolk into the pastry mix.  With a knife, cut through the mixture to combine into a dough ball.  You may need a little extra cold water to fully draw it together.

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to fit a loose-bottomed tart tin.  Then roll it over the tin and push in the edges, being careful not to split the pastry.  Roll the pin over the tart tin to cut off any excess pastry, and place in the freezer for half an hour.

Meanwhile heat the oven to around 200oc/Gas6.  When the oven is piping hot, and the pastry is really cold, yoy are ready to blind bake.  Line the pastry tin with greased paper or tinfoil, and scatter with baking beans or dried chickpeas.  place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown.  Keep a close eye on it.  Remove the baking beans and baking paper and bake for a further couple of minutes to dry out the base.  Remove from the oven to cool while you make the lemon custard filling.  Keep the oven on but reduce the temperature to 180oc/Gas4.

For the lemon custard, grate the lemon zest and combine with the egg yolks and the eggs.  Sift in the sugar and then add the cream.  Lastly mix in the juice of the lemons.  Return the pastry case to the oven shelf, and pour the filling in now.  That way you can't spill it over the edge of the pastry case in transit.  Bake for about half am hour, or until the top has just started wobbling.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

texas beef chili

This chili is the best.  It's more like a stew than a conventional chili, but much better for it.
I have adapted the recipe from one i found here:

serves 4 - 6

3 dried chili's (soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes)
3 ounces of bacon, diced
2 large onions, chopped
2.5 lbs of beef brisket, chopped into chunks
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
400ml of pasatta
500ml of mexican beer
2 green chili's, chopped
a bunch of coriander stems, chopped
half a butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 can of kidney beans
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Sauté bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until beginning to brown. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle beef all over with coarse salt and pepper. Add to pot; stir to coat. Set aside.

Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Place chiles in blender. Add some soaking liquid, garlic, chili powder, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, and salt; blend to puree, adding more soaking liquid if very thick. Pour puree over brisket in pot.
 Add tomatoes with juices, beer, green chiles, and cilantro stems. Stir to coat evenly.

Bring chili to simmer. Cover and place in oven. Cook 2 hours. Uncover and cook until beef is almost tender, about 1 hour. Add squash; stir to coat. Roast uncovered until beef and squash are tender, adding more soaking liquid if needed to keep meat covered, about 45 minutes longer.

Serve with boiled rice, soured cream, coriander leaves and grated cheese.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

pear crostini

I love eating sweet and savory together.  I also love goats cheese, pears and sourdough bread.  This is a real good recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Serves 4
30g pine nuts
5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 clove of garlic, peeled
4 large slices of sourdough bread, cut 1.5cm thick
3 semi-ripe pears (unpeeled)
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
120g good-quality goat's cheese
picked chervil to garnish
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 0c/gas mark 6.  Place the pine nuts, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper in a bowl  of a food processor and work to a coarse wet paste.  Use a brush to apply to one side of every sourdough slice.  Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly coloured.  Remove and allow to cool slightly.

While the bread is in the oven, prepare the pears.  Stand each pear on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to trim off a few milimetres of the skin from each side.  Then cut each pear lengthways into four thick slices.  Remove the core with the tip of a knife.  Place the slices in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.  Toss gently.

Take a ridged griddle pan and place on the highest heat until piping hot.  Lay the pear slices gently in the pan and leave for about a minute on each side, just to make char marks.  Turn carefully and then remove with tongs, trying not to break the pears.

To assemble the crostini, slice the cheese thinly ad arrange over the toasts, alongside the pears.  You want to be able to see both clearly, so allow them to overlap and rest on each other to create height.  Place the crostini in the oven for 3-4 minutes, just to warm up and for the cheese to party melt.  Remove from the oven.

Garnish the crostini with the picked chervil leaves, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Serve hot or warm.

Friday, 6 August 2010

broad bean burgers

Again this is another recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I love broad beans and they are in season now, so this is a good recipe to use them all up.  These burgers remind me of spinach and potato cakes that i've eaten in indian restaurants before, these are much better of course.
I also served my burgers with salad in buns .... far more substantial than the lemon wedges Yotam suggests .....

Serves 4

3/4 tsp each cumin, coriander and fennel sees
225g spinach
3 tbsp olive oil
500g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen)
350g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 fresh green chili, deseeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp chopped coriander
40g dried breadcrumbs
1 free-range egg
120ml sunflower oil
4 lemon wedges
salt and black pepper

Put the whole seeds in a pan and dry roast on a high flame for 3-4 minutes, or until they start releasing their aromas.  Grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar and leave aside.

Wilt the spinach in a hot pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any liquid, then chop roughly and set aside.

Blanch the broad beans in boiling water for about a minute, drain and refresh under cold running water.  Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins and discard.

Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and tip into a large mixing bowl.  Immediately add the skinned broad beans, crushed seeds, chili, garlic, turmeric, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Use a potato masher to mash it all roughly; don't worry if some beans are not totally crushed.  Next, add the wilted spinach, chopped coriander and breadcrumbs.  Taste to check the seasoning.  Lastly, mix in the egg.

Wet your hands and shape the mix into fat patties that are roughly 5cm in diameter and 2cm thick.  Chill them for at least half an hour.

To cook, heat up the sunflower oil and fry the burgers on a high heat for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden.  Serve warm, with the lemon wedges.

classic white cake with homemade raspberry jam & buttercream frosting

I wanted to bake a cake to show off my raspberry jam I made yesterday, however I didn't want to make a traditional victoria sponge.  I found this recipe on Baking Bites blog.  The sponge is really light and fluffy, because only the whites from the eggs are used.  I used self raising flour, because I couldn't locate any cake flour, and it seems to have worked out fine.

for this classic white cake with buttercream frosting recipe visit


fruits of the sea & roasted fennel risotto

I used Jamie Oliver's Basic Risotto Recipe, from The Naked Chef a base for this risotto.  I then added mussels, prawns, squid and some fennel that I roasted in the oven. 

Serves 6 

Approx. 1 litre/2 pints stock (chicken, fish or vegetable)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 finely chopped shallots or 2 medium onions
1/2 head of celery, finely chopped
sea salt and black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
400g risotto rice
100ml dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly prat) or dry white wine
70g of butter
85-100g freshly grated parmesan cheese

Stage 1.  Heat the stock. Then in a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the shallot or onion, celery and a pinch of salt, and sweat the vegetables for about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and after another 2 minutes, when the vegetables have softened, add the rice.  Turn up the heat now.  At this crucial point you can't leave the pan, and anyway, this is the best bit.
While slowly stirring, continuously, your are beginning to fry the rice.  You don't want any colour at any point (so remember, your in control, and if the temperature seems to high, turn it down a bit). You must keep the rice moving.  After 2 or 3 minutes it will begin to look translucent as it absorbs all the flavors of your base (it may crackle at this point, but that's fine).  Add the vermouth or wine, keeping on stirring as it hits the pan - it will smell fantastic!  It will sizzle around the rice, evaporating any harsh alcohol flavors and leaving the rice with a tasty essence.
I must admit that I'm a sucker for dry vermouth.  When it cooks into the rice it seems to give it a really full but subtle flavor and leaves a wicked sweetness that works perfectly with the rice.  White wine is lovely, probably more delicate and fresh.  Try both - see what you think.

Stage 2.  Once the vermouth or wine seems to have cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a pinch of salt (add small amounts of salt to taste while you are adding the stock).  Turn down the heat to a highish simmer (the reason we don't want to boil the the hell out of it is because, if we do, the outside of the rice will be cooked and fluffy and the inside will be raw).  Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.  This will take about 15 minutes.  Taste the rice - is it cooked?  Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite.  Check seasoning.

Stage 3.  Remove from the heat and add the butter and the parmesan, saving a little of the latter to go on top if you like.  Stir gently.  Eat as soon as possible while it remains moist in texture.
Serve on its own or with a crisp green salad and a hunk of bread.  Beautiful.

I cooked the mussels, prawn and squid off in a pan with a little butter and added them in at the end along with the fennel, which I had roasted with a little butter in the oven for 15 minutes previously.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

lemongrass & ginger scallops with chili, coriander and lime rice noodles

This is something I always seem to crave.  I could eat it every day for ever and ever ....
Unfortunately I don't have a recipe for it, it is one of those dishes that you make up and taste as you go.
I'll post the ingredients and a 'how to' anyway.


Rice noodles
finely chopped coriander
finely chopped red chili
a small amount of finely chopped mint
juice of a few limes
a splash of fish sauce (nam pla)
a glug of sweet chili dipping sauce

Put the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Mix the noodles so they don't stick together.  Leave for about 6-8 minutes until al dente, then wash the noodles under lots of cold water to avoid them becoming starchy and sticky.
Mix all the above ingredients with the cooked noodles.

a centimeter of grated fresh ginger root.
the inside of 1 lemongrass finely chopped
a small glug of fish sauce
the juice and rind of 1 1/2 limes
a small glug of sweet chili sauce
unsalted butter

Put a small amount of butter into the frying pan, once hot add the scallops. Fry until brown on both sides.  Once the scallops are nearly cooked remove from the pan. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the same pan that the scallops have been cooked in, they should start to bubble and smell yummy.  Now add a big lump of unsalted butter to the pan and turn the heat down to low (you don't want this to boil, as it will separate). You want to keep adding butter until the sauce becomes a pale orangey yellow colour and begins to thicken, once this happens add the scallops back to the pan and cook for a minute or two.

Serve the scallops on top of the rice noodles with all that beautiful sauce drizzled over ... yum yum!

hangover cure breakfast ...

I made this breakfast for my brother.  Black pudding is one of only a couple of things I just cannot stomach.  I think boys like it .... well my brother did anyway.

cupcakes ....

Some cupcakes i made a while back.  I got the recipe from the joy of baking blog.  You won't taste better chocolate icing than this believe me ....