Happy New Year!

I write this, my first post of the new year on the first day of 2015, absolutely EXHAUSTED following a marvellous New Year party thrown by Josh and Stephen, again with a cheese theme but this time in the form of fondue.

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After many cheesey treats and ginny delights, we got a good dance on before making our way down to the Thames to enjoy the inevitably fantastic firework display. This was followed by more gin and dance. The perfect New Year celebration!

I was asked to contribute something to be used with the fondue cheese goo on this evening, so set about having a little think as to what that could be. I thought about making some flavoured breads then cutting them into cubes and frying into croutons, but goodness what a lot of work for the time of year. Then is came to me. Another simple, tasty treat that allows both you and the eater to get creative!

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Flavoured Pastry Cups!
(For filling with melted cheese, and other delights!)

The flavours I made this time were Rosemary & Garlic, Chilli & Chorizo and Tomato & Basil, but you can go with whatever! I considered doing a Pear & Roasted Red Onion… A weird mix on their own, but one I thought would complement certain cheeses? Well… Perhaps next time. For now, I’ll tell you about these!

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Pork, chorizo and Couscous Tagine

IMG_3606Sometimes, the best meals are the ones filled with ingredients and elements that remind you of the people who make you smile. Now frankly, I don’t think I could make just one dish that reflects ALL the people in my life who make me happy, but this tagine is a good start!

First, tagines will always and forever remind me of my dear friend, Stephen Swinnerton. They are his signature, his territory. The first one he ever made for me was beef and the tenderness blew me away. The most recent one he made me was pork, at which point I sussed this tenderness was no fluke, but a delicious result of the patience and care that goes into tagine cooking! He bought me my own for Christmas and it’s been kicking around for a while. Finally, the time arrived for me to give it a go with a few special ingredients of my own!

Within the ingredients list are the other special elements that remind me of people who make me smile. There is the chorizo and oregano, given to me by the fabulously Spanish Diana Requena, and the chillis, carefully grown to an adorable size here in our home by my father! Finally, I experimented with a little chipotle paste… Chipotle will always remind me of Eric Cartman.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pork steaks
  • A friendly amount of chorizo- sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 chillis, chopped
  • 500g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • About 100g of couscous- plain or flavoured, the choice is yours!
  • 2 peppers- red and yellow- diced
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Salt, pepper, oregano and paprika
  • Chipotle paste
  • 1 more carrot, shreddred

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Let’s get cooking!

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THE HOB IS BROKEN!!!

It’s true. Our precious hob cooker is broken, which means certain experimentation is limited and it’s time to get creative with the oven.

Now, I’ve underlined my love for a good sausage casserole in the past, but it’s really more of a winter warmer than something to be tolerated in a summer scorcher. But I had these fine sausages when I barbequed the other day, and everything about their flavour screamed summer! I let the inspiration carry me from there.

Mango Sausage Punch

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The cure for the common cold is closer than you think!

Well I have one doozy of a cold going on here, as (it seems) does most of the UK right now. The cure? Plenty of ginger, chilli and chicken, and whatever healthy veg you can get your hands on! This is the recipe for my cold-curing stir fry. It’s a vague recipe, but I feel terrible so unless you want me to keep moaning, I suggest you get on with it!

Mmmm-mm! It's enough to make you want the cold in the first place!
Mmmm-mm! It’s enough to make you want the cold in the first place!

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Tex Mex for a family trying (and not always succeeding) to be healthy…

As I have previously mentioned, my sister is to be wed to her long term partner of 11 years, Iain, on May 10th. They will be married in the church local to where she and I grew up, and therefore local to where I am now living. The weekend just gone was the 3rd Reading of The Banns, so they were home to witness that, which gave us the perfect excuse for a big family dinner- and who could knock a texmex!

My Mum whipped up barbeque ribs and a childhood favourite of mine- Chilli Lasagne!

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Just looking at the picture of it fills me with a hungry kind of joy! My Mum does this the best (but maybe that’s more to do with my inner child?) however I did cook a big batch of this myself for Josh and Stephen a few months back. But that’s another recipe for another time!

With the wedding round the corner, everyone is trying to get into their best shape possible right now. My contribution to the meal was not a healthy side-dish by any means, but while I whipped up the original version, I also stole the recipe for a healthier version from this nice lady. What Tex Mex would be complete without Jalapeño Poppers!

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Garlic, chilli, ginger and ghee… What could that mean…

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I have had a deliciously naughty week! Hot wings and beer last night, felt lazy Wednesday and ordered Domino’s, had to work late on Thursday and so the office was given Domino’s (two nights in a row! Win!) and went to my Grandma’s on Tuesday, where I was treated to an outstanding duck in orange dinner. I could honestly eat that again 10 times over.

Then there was Monday. My Strawberry and Banana Breakfast Scones worked a treat in making my mornings easier and more productive, but when I got home that evening I wanted to make sure the Monday blues stood no chance of creeping in. What better shield than a Pathia, my all-time favourite curry! Here’s how to make a DELICIOUS Lamb Pathia, using a cut of lamb that is very cheap and, when cooked in this way, outrageously tender and screaming with flavour.

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Ingredients

  • Lamb breast roll (these normally come prepacked at any supermarket and are approximately 800g for which you will pay around £3!!)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml of boiling water with two chicken stock pots stirred in. Or splash out on 500ml of actual chicken stock!
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic puree/minced garlic (seen above)
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger puree/minced ginger (seen above)
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli puree/minced chilli (seen above)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Butter Ghee. Start with 3 and play it by ear, no going back if you put too much in and oily curries suck! Lamb, and this cut in particular, is already pretty fatty so keep in mind that additional oil will come off that. Can’t track down ghee in your supermarket? Just use olive oil!
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
  • 4 teaspoons of mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoons of chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons of garam masala powder
  • 100ml of tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 500g of plum tomatoes
  • Juice of half a lemon

So now you are completely surrounded by ingredients, it’s time to get cooking

1. In a bowl, combine the ginger puree, garlic puree, chilli puree, curry powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder and a little water. Mix up into a paste.

2. Get a large saucepan on a medium heat and add your ghee and your finely chopped onions.

3. Meanwhile, get a frying pan good and hot with no oil and sear the outside of your lamb breast
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4. Once your onions have browned, add the paste you made and mix them all round
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Fair warning: This is the point where the kitchen will start smelling so good, you’ll want to eat the furniture.
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5. Place your lamb in the saucepan and plop the tamarind paste on top. Then, in a food processor, smoothify your tinned tomatoes and add them to them pan. I then mixed my boiling water and chicken stock pots together in the food processor jug to get all the left over tomatoeyness! Add this to the pan and give a stir. Finally, add the tomato puree and stir everything in. You want your lamb to be submerged!

6. Now whack up the heat and put the lid on your pan. Leave for an hour and a half, stopping by to stir it and move the lamb about every 15-20 minutes. This has an outstanding effect- the lamb soaks up all the flavours you’ve put in there, gives out some mighty fine flavours of its own and, while it’s boiling away in all these juices, becomes very very tender.

7. Now the mouth-watering part. Turn the heat down, and remove your lamb from the pot and to a chopping board. Slice it up. See how tender it is!! That knife just falls through it! I told you!! Jesus. I miss that lamb. I want it back so bad. I wish I had it right now. I’M SO HUNGRY WHY IS THIS LAMB NOT HERE.
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8. Calm down, then return the lamb to the pot. Keep the lid off, but keep the heat quite high and stir regularly- you’re now aiming to reduce the liquid. Do this for about 5 minutes then reduce to a low simmer.

9. Quarter your tomatoes then add them to the pot and just leave it be for about 20 minutes. They turn into delicious baked-style parcels of joy, I can’t even explain.

10. Nearly there! Add the Garam Massala and stir continuously for exactly two minutes.

11. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and served. I enjoyed mine with rice, chapattis and Cobra beer!

As you can see from the pictures, this makes a very greedy amount of curry! I froze off a few portions for the near future, but also took some to work the following day for my colleagues Lord (Ben) Cook and James Abrams.

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It was extremely flattering to have my recipe deemed worthy by a Lord.

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And for it to receive such an intimate need for privacy!

Make it QUICK and TASTY with Chicken Pathia
If you fancy a pathia, but don’t have 2 hours to make one, simply make it with chicken! You will only need to leave it to cook for 20 minutes, rather than an hour and a half! You will also need slightly less water/stock for chicken pathia- use about 300ml. And use chicken thighs if you can! So much flavour.

Enjoy!

Well, my Dad always says, every day’s a school day…

Last night, I decided to cook myself a healthy Whole Fish Salad for my dinner. I’m still in London for the next couple of weeks and I’m exhausted with all the packing! I decided I needed something both to pick me up and to reward me for the hard work so far.

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Now, if you’re going to make this, please first learn from my mistake. I forgot to say one essential thing to the fishmonger I bought this from, and when I got my lovely piece of fish from the fridge to cook later that evening I learned, to my horror, that it wasn’t already gutted for me!

Luckily, my lovely chum Stephen Swinnerton previously worked as a fishmonger at the supermarket Waitrose. With his teasing and guidance via telephone, I managed to achieve a thorough gutting.

FISH GUTTING- NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED

Swinnerton Instructs

If the fish is slimy, give it a quick rinse under the tap. Otherwise, you risk slipping and cutting yourself.
Find its butt-hole (I’m not kidding). Insert the knife, and cut all the way along to the head
Open it, and remove the… Well, the guts.
Along the spine, you will see a long dark vein. Cut all the way along it to break it, then remove the blood.
Finally, the gills. Hidden under the flaps at the back of the head. Lift the flap and slice the fleshy gill, then remove it using your fingers. Watch out! They will be spiky!

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MASSACRE

Yikes. Clean it up a bit.

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As gross as it was, I’m frankly please this happened. I learned a new skill, and as I’m planning on a trip to Thailand next year where catching you own fish for dinner is part of the package, I’m glad I learned this skill in good time, rather than exposing myself as a sissy mid-adventure. However, until then, I think I will definitely remember to ask the fishmonger to do the dirty work for me!

SO! Now we’re past that little massacre, on with the recipe!

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WENGZ.

Tonight I am celebrating good news! I have just been offered a new job in Northampton (my new residence) which takes away the pain of the commute to London and also means my super secret surprise is well on its way (the announcement of which I’m sure is looming, but please, stay tuned!)

My last day in my current role is 14th February, and I start my new job (perfectly, perhaps, with a kitchen company) 17th February. I’m very excited!! And with tomorrow being my birthday, this is all shaping up pretty fine. I certainly am feeling positive about 2014 right now!

Good news like this (particularly when received midweek) can only be followed by one great simplicity. HOT WINGS!

We all have our own version. Here’s mine!

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