Spicy Rhododendron Chutney

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After learning of an edible flower indigenous to the Himachal region of India that blooms only from January to March, I couldn’t resist taking a bag-load back to my Palampur hostel, and trying my luck at being shown a local spicy chutney recipe made from this flower. This suggestion was welcomed with great enthusiasm, all the team were very excited that their dinner would have the special chutney alongside it, and were keen to show me the ropes!

This is not something that can be bought in shops anywhere, not even hear. It is made in Himachal homes and no where else, so I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity, not only to try it, but also to make it! Here’s how it’s done…

Ingredients

  • A good bunch of Rhododendron flowers
  • 4 cloves of raw garlic, peeled
  • 4 raw green chilllis
  • A pinch and a bit of fresh corriander
  • A teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • One  lemon
  • A tablespoon of water

Go eat flowers.

1. Remove the petals from the flowers and place them to one side

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2. Place the coriander and chillis into a blender and blitz into a paste

3.. Add the garlic and chilli powder. Blitz.

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4.. Add the flowers, salt and water. Blitz.

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5.. Finally the juice of one lemon. Blitz.

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Mmmmm

 This was really delicious. I’ve never tasted anything even remotely like it, which is exciting as I can’t remember the last time a flavour felt this new to me, but also gutting as it was so tasty but replicating it will never be possible! I’ve thought and thought, and the closest thing I can put the flavour of these petals to is a combination of grapefruit and plumb, but richer and not as sharp. Combine that with a chilli kick and a garlicky cuddle, and you have a taste sensation! IF you are ever in the Himacha region of India over January/March, you must force the opportunity to try this spicy chutney! It’s zinglicious!

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With due thanks to Sunil in Palampur, for showing me how it’s done and making my taste buds so very very happy!

General Tso’s Chicken

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Last month was my Mum’s birthday, and I had planned to do a special meal for her of General Tso’s chicken, but the plan changed after she was lovingly whisked off to London for the weekend by my Dad. I kept quiet on it, vowing to do it for her as a late birthday treat before leaving in February.

The other night she text to tell me she had left a couple of chicken breast quarters out to defrost, which I was to cook for the two of us however I saw fit. Finally, the opportunity to serve up General Tso’s Chicken has arrived!

This was a dish I had never attempted to make before, but after checking out a number of different recipes on the internet I was determined to get it right! My sister and I were quite privileged in our youth to be treated to a number of family holidays to Florida. At some point during the holiday, with out fail, our mum would enjoy a big tasty portion of General Tso’s, be it ordered in or at the food court in the mall! It’s an unheard of dish in England, which means it’s been quite a few years since she had it!

Until now…

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Happy Birthday, Me!

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I have just finished a week of celebrating my 25th birthday, and am justifiably exhausted!

It all began last weekend with my family. I made a rather cheeky request this year that my father cook a 3 course meal for all the family! This wasn’t just so my mum could have a break so soon after Christmas, but also to give my Dad a chance to do what the rest of us indulge in so frequently… Showing off!

First, there was a simply spectacular starter! The stuffed pepper re-awakened!!!

Pepper Trio

Cod fillet, chorizo, lemon zest, tomato pesto and toasted pine nuts, all baked to perfection inside a sweet red pepper! My mum actually helped him out in the invention of this beauty… I’d say it’s the third best thing they’ve created as husband and wife!

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Successfully (and rapidly) polished off.

This was followed some time later by a devilishly delicious dessert…

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A classic of my mother’s- Pear poached in port and spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, served with clotted cream

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Ooooohh…

But what I really want to talk about is the main course. The truly irresistable

Daddy Duck

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Ooh, I really fancy a PROPER sausage roll…

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So, once again, I’ve proven a lousy blogger, having failed to post anything now for over a month and now hastily rectifying that with two posts in a row. It’s just one of those things! Sometimes work gets in the way and leaves you either no time or no energy to indulge in your hobbies.

Back in June, I proudly began a new job in Local Government which I must admit to enjoying quite a bit! The people are nice, the work is challenging and there are certain perks, such as the occasional work-from-home day. The nice thing about working from home is that I start significantly earlier than I would if I were driving to the office for one hour first… This leaves me no shame in treating myself to an extra tasty lunch!

The last time I worked from home I couldn’t shake that “ooh, I really fancy a PROPER sausage roll” feeling. So, with a little apple, a little sugar, a little spice and a lot of meat, that’s exactly what I went for!

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Chocolate Bombe

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After the recent development of an obsession with Rick Stein and Thailand, my parents bought a recipe book called “J. Sheekey Fish”, based on the London restaurant by the same name which has received oodles of praise from Rick Stein himself. One day when my father was thumbing through the dessert section, he was blown away by the idea of this “Chocolate Bombe”. I knew at that moment I had to make it for him on his birthday.

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Gooseberry Duck

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My Dad loves gooseberries. He always has. My Aunt Kris, his sister, recalls him stealing them from the neighbour’s gooseberry bush when they were kids. In fact, he very rarely shuts up nagging for a gooseberry pie or a gooseberry crumble or some kind of gooseberry treat. Nag as he might, it never happens. That’s why gooseberry duck seemed like the perfect main course for his birthday!

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Scallop BLT

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The Scallop BLT is one of my signature dishes that you’ve seen me make before, but this time I did a couple of things slightly different- mainly leaving the herbs out of the sauce.

My Dad is scallop crazy, which is why I selected this dish for him. My Mother, however, doesn’t like scallops at all. I know, I know, that makes no sense but there it is. She believes she doesn’t like scallops. Maybe she just says it for the attention? I don’t know.  Whatever the reason, this led me to make her halloumi (imitating scallops) wrapped in bacon for her portion.

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