Monday, 22 April 2013

Time flies when you're having fun.  The weekend just zoomed by as we spent it with friends, chatting, eating, drinking wine and singing on Saturday evening, then finished of with an afternoon at the raceway yesterday.  

On Saturday afternoon I cooked a trio of curries.   I made a traditional St Helenian chicken curry and then a beef madras and a lamb rogan josh.  It is satisfying to make a curry at home and cheaper than a take away.  It just takes time and effort to prepare, but they can left to cook or a low heat afterwards.  It isn't hard to do and the spices are readily available from local supermarkets and Asian food shops.  

Beef Madras, Lamb Rogan Josh, St Helenian Chicken Curry.  

Each of these recipes serve four.

Beef Madras (aromatic, pungent and spicy)

2 lb stewing beef (beef shin is great), 3 tbsp sunflower oil, 1 large onion finely chopped, 4 cloves, 4 green cardamom pods,  1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped, 2 garlic cloves crushed, 2 green chillies finely chopped, 2 dried red chillies (leave whole), 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp salt, 250 ml beef stock.

Remove any visible fat from the meat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, cloves, and cardamom pods for 5 minutes.  Add the chillies, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Add the beef and fry for 5 - 8 minutes until the meat is lightly browned.  Add the coriander, salt, ground cumin and stock.  Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender.  Add more salt if necessary, remove the whole red chillies and serve with rice.

Rogan Josh (Marinate the lamb in the yoghurt overnight or for a minimum of four hours)

2 lb lamb fillet, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 250 ml natural yoghurt, 1 tsp salt, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped, 3 tbsp sunflower oil, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 bay leaves, 4 green cardamom pods, 1 onion finely chopped, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 14 oz can chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp tomato puree, 150 ml water.

Remove any visible fat from the meat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place meat in a no metallic bowl and mix in the yoghurt, lemon juice, salt, 1 crushed garlic clove and the ginger.  Cover and leave to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.  

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the cumin seeds for 2 minutes or until they splutter.  Add the cardamom pods,  onion, and garlic and fry for  5 minutes.  Add the chilli powder, ground coriander, and ground cumin and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Add the marinated lamb and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and water.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, then cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is tender.  Add more salt if necessary and serve hot with boiled rice.   

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Back to school and warmer weather......typical! Still hopefully we will get an injection of bring on the sun so we can light the BBQ and sit around drinking daiquiris (time to bring out the smoothie machine), and rather a lot of bacardi!

This week I have been taking stock of all the cook books I have.  Some sit in the kitchen on a specially made shelf, a lot sit in a large box, not seeing the light of day, for the past six years we have been in the UK and more years from living in other countries too!  I have been trying to break a habit of being drawn to the glossy baking books that catch my eye in just about every shop (apart from Aldo shoe shop), these days.  I have favourite books, and books which I think look great, but I haven't yet made a thing from, so I have decided to give myself the task of baking/cooking something from each of my books over the days/weeks/months.......should make for some interesting blog posts.

In the meantime, I baked a chocolate cake for the son of my friend, last week.  It had to be angry birds....he was really chuffed, I believe.  All of it was I bet there was some small boys bouncing of the walls after eating the fondant birds!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

All the commercial hype about Easter and it has come and gone.  The shops had been full of Easter eggs, since the end of December, and the weather has made us feel like we were really and truly stuck in December.  As usual, the collection of Easter eggs in our house was huge (I didn't buy any, they were gifts and a school bingo prize), but once the small chocolates that comes in the packages are eaten, we are then left with about half a dozen or so chocolate eggs, that no one wants to eat, so naturally in the coming week they will be up-cycled into a crispy cake of some sort!

I have been baking a few things in the past weeks and donated the Easter cupcakes below for a fundraising event in aid of the Severn Hospice as well as a I baked a  few extra to give to the neighbours over Easter.  I love baking and it is even more satisfying knowing that a couple of hours spent in the kitchen, can raise money for worthwhile causes.