Thursday, January 28, 2010


I love to plan a meal with a theme in mind. This week I was adamant to make a traditional Indian curry with homemade rotis. I was inspired by a conversation I had overheard by two collegues at work. I rushed home with the plan of making and experimenting with the making of roti. I turned on the laptop typed roti into the google task bar and picked out the elements I liked of all the recipes seen. I went into action mixing the flour and water together to make the dough and within 5- 10 minutes I was rolling them out into flat discs and dry pan frying them. Everything went so well. I waited until small brown dots appeared on the roti and flipped the disc over to cook the underside. The only issue I was having was getting the roti to puff up. After several attempts I had it cracked. I gorged on my achievement with a generous amount of mango chutney. I was happy. This lead me think of themes closer to home. Irish soda bread and Dublin Coddle. Yes I know I'm from England but I miss foods that are closer to home and Irish food often appears in our old pubs, and old pubs is what I am missing the most. Nothing beats that feeling from having a long walk it the countryside and then spending  the whole afternoon in a traditional pub eating traditional foods whilst washing it down with a good beer. (Ahhh the old times). Ian loves to have hearty comfort food, so with him in mind and my fondness of experimenting with foods Dublin Coddle here we come.

I ventured down to the market to gather all the ingredients needed. I always go to the same butcher as they know exactly what I need. I was after thick pork sausages and either thick cut bacon or a small ham. I had thought that bacon may cause the stew to be too salty and after talking to the butcher I chose a small ham that I could dice up into bite size pieces. If extra salt was needed I could always add it during the cooking process A small bag of red new potatoes, a yellow onion and a handful of fresh parsley was also purchased. On return from the market I couldn't stop myself from visiting 'The Lobster Man' where I picked up some oysters to go with our Irish themed meal (An after thought, but a good one at that!!). I poached the sausages and bacon in water and then began to cut the veggies up adding them to the pan and letting the broth gently simmer for around an hour. The smell from the kitchen was amazing and I couldn't help myself from picking at the cubes of ham.  Salt, pepper and chopped parsley finished the stew off nicely. Big chunks of fresh bread helped mop up the gravy (in my opinion that is the best bit). .

Dublin Coddle (Serves 2)
2 Thick Slices of Ham cubed
2 Thick Pork sausages
Red New Potatoes
1 medium Yellow Onion
2 Cups Water
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Parsley

In a large saucepan add the sausage, diced ham and water and bring to a simmer. Poach the meat for approx 5-10 minutes. Drain off the cooking liquor reserving it for later use. Remove the meat from the pan and cut the sausages into inch thick pieces. Don't worry if the sausage is raw in the middle, it will be cooked through later. Cut the potatoes in half and dice the onion thickly placing them in the bottom of the pan. Add the meat to the pan and cover with the reserved cooking liquor. If you need more liquor add some more water. Season with pepper and more salt if needed. Cover and simmer for approx 1 hour stirring occasionally. Remove the lid halfway through cooking to allow the broth to reduce and thicken slightly. The potatoes will turn soft and often break up (helping the stock to thicken). I like to add a few further potatoes at this stage as these ones will remain whole when cooked through. When the potatoes are tender add further seasoning if needed and finish off with a handful of chopped parsley. Serve with soda bread for an originally Irish meal.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cauliflower cheese (known as brain!!)

Before I share my  cauliflower cheese recipe with you, I must let you know how the book is going.  I had become a little de-motivated with it, but now that motivation is back. I am lacking on photos predominantly  for the salad chapter so I am making it my mission to make a least two of the salads per week, so that they can get processed and entered into the book. I will then move onto the remaining meal photos. Bring it on!!!

Now for my cauliflower cheese blurb...I think I have said before that I am not keen on Cauliflower... well I take it back. I love it, especially brain style (No I'm not turning into Hannibal Lecter). It's a steamed head of cauliflower smothered in a mustard sauce and topped with melted cheese. Mmm mmm. A friend introduced me to brain (a name her boyfriend gave to it) last week and I have been keen to give it a go myself. The cauliflower was sweet and tasty and worked so well with the mustard. It knocked socks off any previous forms of Cauliflower cheese that I have had and it is so simple  to make which of course, I love.

Cauliflower Cheese (Brain)
1 head of Cauliflower
2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 to 11/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
You will also need a microwaveable bowl that can hold the whole head of the cauliflower.

To prepare the cauliflower peal off all the green leaves and trim the stalk so the cauliflower will sit level in the microwaveable bowl. Place in the bowl with a 1/3 cup of water and cover with clingfilm. Place this in the microwave and cook on a high heat for approx 12 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Be careful when you remove the clingfilm as the steam can really burn. Open it away from you pealing from the back forward.
Meanwhile mix the mustard, sour cream and mayonnaise together and add salt and pepper to taste. Leaving the cauliflower in the bowl drain off any excess water and then pour the mustard mixture over the cauliflower coating all the head and then sprinkle the cheese over top before putting it under the grill to melt the cheese. Once melted cut the cauliflower into pieces and serve.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thai Green Curry Paste

Where do I have to make this recipe. Its so simple and quick to make and always turns out first class. The simplicity of this recipe is that all the ingredients are blitzed together to form a vibrant green aromatic puree (leaving only one bowl to be washed... Hurray!!!). It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week if covered with a thin film of oil and sealed in an airtight container. I usually turn this puree into a gorgeous creamy curry however you can add it to pasta or mix it into cream cheese and spread it onto crostinis. This lists of uses are endless.... The most important advice I can give you is please please please use only fresh ingredients.

Green Thai Curry Paste
3 Cloves Garlic
1 inch piece grated ginger
2 small stems of lemongrass or 1 large one with the fibrous outer leaves removed
Handfull on corriander plus stalks
1-2 Green de-seeded chilli's depending on how hot you want it
1 shallot or 1/2 small onion
A slug of vegetable oil (use enough to loosen up the ingredients when blitzed)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Rind from a lime
Juice from 1/2 lime

and blitz. Simple....
I must admit I do roughly chop the ingredients before blitzing them. It just makes it easier and that's what we like...right!!!

To turn this puree into a sexy creamy curry (yes it is very sexy!!!) all you need to do is heat the puree in a skillet until the aroma increases, then add sliced chicken or prawns and partially cook them before adding up to a can of coconut milk. I add a couple of kaffir lime leaves to the pan and then remove them before serving, however this is optional Simmer until meat is cooked and the sauce has slightly thickened and serve with steamed rice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seafood Feast

I have a confession to make, my vegetarianism is not going so well. I can't blame anyone but myself, my will power is weak but my love for food is strong. Why deny myself opportunities of tasting new flavors.... I know, I know I'm justifying my actions and the only person I am letting down is myself. To be honest though I don't feel like I'm letting my self down, I'm exploring my foodie side and I love it. Here is a picture though to show you that I did start out well, a yummy plate of roasted vegetables with soft poached eggs.

This weekend I was exploring my foodie side down in Seattle. I had two must do's, firstly to visit the famous pike market and the second was to see the Delancey restaurant (another foodies achievement...Molly Wizenberg). I was introduced to Molly Wizenberg by a close friend who bought me a copy of her cook book for my birthday, which I read from cover to cover in about four days. After being captivated by her style of cooking and her passion for food I began to follow her blog and the adventures of opening her restaurant with her husband Brandon. As we were in Seattle I had no reason not to visit Delancey's, I wanted to see their achievements and visualize how the restaurant looked. I felt like I had to see the restaurant just to show my gratitude towards their passion...I was proud of them.

Their achievement often makes me think, would I like to own a restaurant? As much as I love to cook I don't think I would. I couldn't cope with all the stress in the kitchen, however my mind does drift off at times thinking of how I would design a restaurants menu. I would have a menu of small plates, ensuring that all the food was fresh and home made. Listen to me hey.... So many thoughts and ideas!!!

Whilst in Seattle, we ate the best seafood, the best cheese (Yes, the best cheese!!) and the best bread. We even got to see fresh cheese being made. I was in foodie heaven. We went for a seafood feast, where we were given a wooden mallet a fork and a wooden board. The steamed seafood was poured out onto the table and we dived in cracking the crab shells with the mallets and poking the fork in to get every last juicy piece of meat. It was great and I can't wait to recreate this at home, although I won't be pouring it over the dining room table.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beetroot and Pear Salad

I love beetroot... I didn't realize that you could have it in so many ways. I grew up knowing only of pickled beetroot which we always had with salads, it was only when I moved to Lancashire that I knew you could eat it warm (and not pickled!!!). My beetroot world  advanced into new heights.

I wanted to serve a salad alongside our pizzas to enhance our nutritional intake. I had a salad very similar to this on New years eve and I absolutely adored it. So this is my variation of it:

Beetroot and Pear salad with olive oil mayonnaise
Cooked fresh beetroot
Firm Pear
Salad Leaves
Walnuts (Optional)

Olive oil mayonnaise
1 Egg Yolk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup Olive Oil

To make the mayonnaise, lightly whisk the egg with the lemon juice (you can either use an electric whisk or a fork. I find it easier with an electric whisk). and gradually trickle in the oil in a thin stream whilst continuing to whisk. The mayonnaise will begin to get thick, if it is too thick you can thin it out with some water. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

I like to put a layer of the mayonnaise on the plate first and then top it with slices of beetroot (I like to use warm beetroot) and pears. The salad leaves are then piled on top followed by shavings of Parmesan and the walnuts. A final drizzle of olive oil finishes it off nicely. Et Voila!!!

There is no picture as we devoured it without giving it a second thought. Oooopps!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Noche de rabanos

Its amazing what one idea unveils... I was planning tonights dinner wondering what vegetarian option I could utilize. (The original idea was sausage and garlic mash with onion gravy). I had bought some large portebello mushrooms which I had planned to pan fry and fill with balsamic glazed onions and thyme. I then remembered that I had bought a huge bunch of fresh radishes and the idea of roasting them as a side dish came into play....So I searched through google to see if there was any recipes that took my fancy and found out that Mexico celebrate Noche de rabanos (night of radishes). A festival that is celebrated on the eve of December 23rd, where the combination of agriculture and traditional folk art takes place. Radishes are transformed into sculptures ranging from individual figures to huge representations of grand events. So tonights dinner is a homage to the noche de rabanos minus the sculptures!!!

Many of the recipes that I reviewed had an oriental element to them incorporating soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli, which sounds amazing, but for the purpose of tonights meal I will roasted them with a little salt, chilli, olive oil and some smoked paprika. Roasted at 350 for 30 minutes should do it.

On reflection they tasted awesome, sweet and mild whilst still retaining some of their bite. The bitter taste that you sometimes get when eaten raw was eliminated and as you put the little rose jewel in your mouth it burst with flavor. These will definitely be making a regular appearance at our dinner table.