Friday, 31 July 2015

Chicken Balti

Are you guys ready for another curry?!

The important things which make a delicious curry, for me, are heating the spices to release the wondrous flavours, and cooking the onions for long enough to release their wonderful flavour. That is the base of all really good curries.

And this recipe contains both those things! Bonus!

Indian food has always been my first love. Of course, I love many other kinds of food (all of them!) but the first meal I ever learned to cook was a curry, with flavours not totally dissimilar to this one. 

This feels like an updated version, for a slightly more experienced cook who is confident to mix spices rather than relying on a pre-made curry spice mix.

It’s not a very spicy curry, especially if you de-seed the chilli. The yogurt also makes it incredibly easy to adjust the spicing near the end of cooking. I like my curry spicier than my boyfriend does, so 

I added some yogurt, then removed my portion, then added more yogurt to the rest so my boyfriend could have a slightly milder experience.

And I have to impart some wisdom that I literally only learned a few weeks ago. Does your basmati rice ever go all gloopy and gross, coming out more like a porridge than fluffy grains of rice? That it because you are STIRRING it. So, for perfect fluffy rice, add rice to a pot, and pour over double the amount of boiling water (eg 1 cup of rice, 2 cups boiling water). Sprinkle in a little salt, bring to the boil, pop the lid on and simmer for 12 or so minutes until cooked. DO NOT STIR THE RICE. Leave it alone, and it will become perfection all by itself.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Peach Ice-cream Two Ways

Hello summer!

Last summer, for me, was all about the strawberry. I was knocking out Swedish strawberry cake, strawberry ice-cream and all sorts. And don’t get me wrong. I love strawberries. I could eat them all day long and be happy (I notice I say this about a lot of stuff, but it is all true).

This summer I’m changing it up. Let’s get some peaches on the go up in here! Peach and ice-cream is a match made in heaven. I also tried some peaches and cream fudge the other day and it was HEAVEN. But I have been known to cause disasters with my fudge in the past, so I’m steering clear of that for the time being. But, ice-cream. I can make ice-cream, so I thought that would be the best introduction to my summer of peaches.

I have espoused the benefits of my ice-cream maker before, and I’ll do it again. Mine has held up well all these years, and only cost about £20 when I got it. For the fun I’ve had making ice-cream, it is well worth it. I’m not the type of person that needs all the kitchen gadgets going, but it is an essential “luxury” item for me! The only prep you need is for the inner bowl to be well frozen, so I just leave mine in the freezer all the time so it is ready at a moment’s notice!

I saw two recipes for peach ice-cream, and both looked delicious. One was incredibly straightforward, using a simple syrup base, and the other slightly more complex using a traditional custard base.  I absolutely couldn’t decide, so I bought a TON of peaches so I could try both. For science.

And the verdict? Both delicious, but I really have a soft spot for what I consider “proper” ice-cream, which means the second one with the custard base is my winner.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Yellow Curry

I do love a good curry and rice, it is my ultimate comfort food. And my love for the chickpea has been well documented (by me, on this blog).

First of all, I adore the saucy nature of this lovely yellow curry, pureeing half of the veggies with a few spices really helps a thick and flavourful sauce come together. I think that the addition of the chickpeas also elevates this dish, adding additional depth of flavour and a different texture element. 

For me, it means I didn’t have to put on as much rice either, it serves as almost its own accompaniment. Extra super yum.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Chicken Satay Noodle Soup

More toppings than soup - my kind of bowl!

Yum yum yum. Hello Monday night dinner!

One of my absolute favourite things to get from a Chinese takeaway is chicken satay. There is something about spicy, thick, silky nutty sauce smothered over some chicken that just gets me every time. Here, the noodles really shine, they cook in with the rest and help the sauce thicken up and become silky smooth. The creamed coconut helps with the sauce texture as well, without making it taste overwhelmingly of coconut.

This is one of these great midweek dinners which I love. Flavourful, quick, and all made in one pot = minimal washing up! I have to admit, I am not the biggest of noodle fans, but you could easily cook some rice in a separate pot and put that in a bowl first and pour some noodle-less soup on top. That would also be excellent. Good plan, rice fans,

You should make this for dinner next week, your family will love you for it!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Deep-Fried Sweet Potato Fries

Yes, here I go again with the sweet potato fries.

But, before I go into my love story about sweet potato fries, I just wanted to write something else. A belated “introduction” to my blog, if you will:

I love food.

I love cooking it, I love the feeling when something turns out *just* right. I love stirring a sauce until it thickens beautifully, or watching dough rise to the perfect height. On my days off I plan what I’m going to cook, with the luxury of a free day to mix, stir, leave to rise, and marinade. I get upset if something doesn't turn out right, or gets dropped. I’m not a photographer. You won’t catch me taking photos artfully, with a careless (but oh-so-planned) dash of flour scattered over my workstation. If there’s flour in my photos, it’s because I spilled it earlier. My plating isn’t complex, I don’t really do quenelles. Honestly, the photos of savoury bits that I take are my actual dinner for that actual evening. I’m too hungry at that point to take the time to make a dish look stylish.

Aaanyway, there is a South American- style restaurant near me which serves the most INCREDIBLE sweet potato fries. Unfortunately the last two (TWO!) times I’ve been in they had sold out of these crunchy orange morsels of pure heavenly delight.

So, what is a girl to do when she can’t get what she wants? Make them up at home for herself, of course!

I’ve made the baked sweet potato fries more times than I can count and they are incredibly wonderful and delicious. However, they do lack the crispy coating which is a hall mark of deep frying. So, these are definitely less healthy, but as a sneaky treat you can’t go too far wrong with these.

The seasoning is optional, feel free to go for just good old fashioned salt.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

"Cup of" Traybakes

Continuing with my nostalgia taste of home..

Taste is a funny thing. I mean, looking at these traybakes there is nothing particularly special about them. To me, they look like delicious little morsels, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

And then, I took a bite. Instantly I was transported back to my childhood, sitting in a caravan on my summer holidays, having just licked the bowl clean of melted chocolate, and now tucking into this delicious coconutty, chocolatey, crunchy, crumbly bar of love.

You see, this is one of my nanny’s signature recipes. Most of my family can recite this recipe from memory. You know it is a special day when she busts this bad boy out. Of course, when I was little I was chief helper (I was a great stirrer) and then I was allowed to pick clean the scraped-out bowls for a little treat.

I love these buns. You will too.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Wheaten Bread

That's what I'm talking about.

A taste of home! I just spent an excellent weekend at home, catching up with my wonderful family and friends, and of course eating my fave treats from Belfast. It inspired me to make this lovely dense loaf, a staple of my childhood diet.

So, this is an excellent loaf if you don’t have the time or will to follow the normal bread-making routine of kneed, let rise, kneed again, let rise again etc. It’s a traditional Irish type of bread which uses bicarbonate of soda for the rising part, meaning there is no yeast and therefore no need to spend half the day leaving it to rise. While I love the satisfaction that comes from a particularly well-risen yeast loaf, I do adore the flavour, simple method and speed of preparation of this lovely little loaf.

This is a dense, flavourful bread which I find goes particularly well with soup, and is absolutely exquisite buttered, warm from the oven.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Chicken Quesadillas

Am on a bit of a quesadilla kick these days. I can’t think of a more perfect quick and delicious weekday meal. This is honestly the kind of food which just makes me happy.

So, this is a much lighter version of the chorizo and black bean ones I made before- the flavours are less intensely rich and it has a beautiful delicate spicing. I used leftover roast chicken (I usually have this hanging around because I LOVE to roast up a chicken) but feel free to slice some raw chicken and add it up to the pan after the veggies are cooked, frying until golden and cooked through.

I was also very pleased at how well this held together as well, the key I think is adding a small amount of cheese between each layer which will help “glue” everything together when melted.

Anyway. You need these in your life. Especially with some sweet potato fries (of course!). Stay tuned for the next version where I am thinking of putting some sweet potatoes inside the quesadilla! It is all go in my house!