Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Breakfast with friends

Last week Carrie had arranged a good old girly day to cheer up one of our friends. We were going to have a duvet day sitting in our jim-jams watching chick flicks and having breakfast. What else could a girl ask for. In preparation for our girly day I decided to make some blueberry muffins and chocolate pancakes. The chocolate pancakes did not last long though and never made it to Carrie's. Ian and I scoffed the lot with tons of whipped cream (Oops!!). And as for  the blueberry muffins they were forgotten in all the excitement of getting to Carrie's. But not to worry... Carrie had made the most amazing banana and chocolate chip muffins using her banana bread recipe. They were fantastic.

When making my blueberry muffins I was a little hesitant as my oven never keeps its temperature and hardly ever reaches the 400 degrees needed but I proceeded anyway. They turned out awesome and to top it off I got more pictures added to my book (Yay!!).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hockey Night (Chicken curry)

Today is an exciting day.... Canada plays hockey against USA in the Olympic games (Wahooo!!!), so I plan on making a homemade curry will all the trimmings, pilau rice and rotis. Mmm mmm. I'll have a busy afternoon but it will be well worth it. I can just imagine Ian watching the game with a beer in hand and a plate of gorgeous spicy Indian curry with lots of roti to mop it up with. It should also help me get rid of this head cold. Hopefully the spices should blow it away.

I always used to buy curry sauces but having caught the foodie bug I thought that I would have a try at making a curry from scratch. I first tried a recipe from Rick Stein where the chicken was cooked in a prepared curry sauce consisting of onion, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, green chilli and tinned tomatoes. It was great to create a fantastic tasty curry minus all the additives used in store bought curry sauce. Nothing beats homemade food!!! Since experimenting with Indian curries I now always add raw meat into the curry sauce as it allows the meat to soak up the flavors and turns out more tender than if you precook the meat. (The most common meat I use is chicken or lamb). The other important cooking stage I do is to flavor the oil in the skillet with all the spices needed, it  gives off a great aroma and depth to the curry. You can pretty much add any spice to the curry, I like to use the recipe below.

Chicken Curry
2 Chicken Breasts or 6 Thighs diced
1 large onion diced
1 Tin of Diced/ Crushed Tomatoes
Cream/Sour Cream (Optional)
3 garlic cloves minced
Small handful chopped Cilantro 
1 inch Fresh Grated Ginger
2tsp Ground Cumin
1tsp Ground Coriander
1tsp Paprika/ Cayenne Pepper
1tsp Ground Turmeric
1tsp Fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
Curry leaves (Optional)
1 Sliced Green Chilli (use as much as you desire)
1/2 tsp Ground Garam masala
1/4 Stick of butter

Firstly melt the butter with a dash of oil in a heavy based pan and allow to turn slightly golden. Over a medium heat add the diced onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add the grated ginger and minced garlic and cook for a minute while continuing to stir the mixture, then add the ground spices and continue to cook for a minute. Now add the tinned tomatoes and stir to combine with the spice mixture and bring to a simmer. At this stage you can either keep the curry sauce chunky or blend it to make it smoother, I prefer the latter. Once the curry sauce is simmering add the diced chicken, sliced green chilli's, cillantro and a few curry leaves and continue to simmer on a low heat for approximatley 30 - 40 minutes. If you are using lamb I would simmer it for an hour over a low heat. Add the cream at the last stage and warm through. If you find the curry is too thick add some water.

To go with this curry I make pilau rice which is so simple. I always go with the measure of 1:2 (1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water). This steams to create the perfect fluffy rice.

Pilau Rice
1 Cup Basmalti Rice
2 Cups Water
1/2 Onion finely diced
1 Clove Garlic minced
1 Cinnamon stick
4 Whole Cloves
4 Cardomen Pods
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Turmeric (Optional)
Juice of half a lemon

Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion, cook until translucent, then add the garlic and rice. Coat the rice in the oil and then add the water, spices and lemon juice. Bring this to the boil with the lid off and stir once. Once it starts boiling reduce the heat to low, put the lid on top and allow to steam for approx 15- 20 minutes until the liquid has absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve. To really jazz this rice up you can add sultanas, chopped cilantro, roasted cashews and chopped pistachios once cooked.  Its sooooo good.

To make the roti's use my tortilla recipe minus the oil. Follow the recipe but allow the roti to puff up whilst in the skillet. Push the air bubbles gently with a spatula allowing the air pocket to get bigger. It does take time to practice and even if they don't puff up they will still taste great. I like to serve these with Indian pickles and salads.

Tonights feast is going to be awesome, lets hope the hockey is too....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fish Cakes

I have been toying with making fish cakes for a while and yesterday I was forced into it. Originally I had bought some fresh salmon fillets but in my neurotic organisation I had put all the fillets in the freezer, so I turned towards some tinned salmon, which worked pretty well and to top it off, it reduced the cooking time (Excellent). To serve alongside the fish cakes I decided to make my infamous potato salad, a mixture of beetroot, celeriac and  roasted potatoes mixed in a mustard sauce. It is much lighter than regular potato salad which I find can be a little claggy. A spring salad with roasted cherry tomatoes was also served. It was a perfect meal for two people who recently have been overindulged with junk food.

Fish Cakes
2 Small tins of Salmon
3 Cups Cold Mashed Potato (2 large russet pots)
1 Egg beaten
Lemon Rind
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of Cilantro finely choppped (You can use parsley or dill)
Bread crumbs
1/4 tsp Paprika

The most important advice I can give you is to use cold mashed potato, if it is warm the patties will be too soft and will break up. The second important piece of advice is if you are using tinned salmon make sure you drain it well and remove the spinal bones (unless you like the crunch!!). Now that that has been said it is now time for the fun to begin.... Mix the egg, lemon juice, rind, paprika, salt and pepper into the potato until combined. Now flake the fish in over top with the chopped cilantro. Using a spatula fold the fish into the mash potato. I like to do this instead of mixing it in as I like chunky pieces of fish throughout the patty. Form into patties and place in the fridge to firm up if needed. When ready roll the fish cakes in the breadcrumbs and shallow fry in oil over a medium heat to warm the patty through and brown the breadcrumbs. Flip to brown the other side and serve. Voila a quick easy supper.

The most common problem with making fishcakes is that the patties can get very soft if using hot mashed potato hence the important advise above.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hungarian Goulash

This recipe was sent to my email from an old link I subscribed too many many moons ago. Initially the photo made we want to make this and the fact that it was made in one pot was also very appealing. After browning all the meat and softening the vegetables everything gets cooked in beef broth allowing the meat to tenderize and melt in the mouth. Many of the comments state that this is one of the best goulashes ever tasted. Well lets put it to the test. Again I have adapted the original recipe to my tastes.

Beef Goulash and Lemon Soured Cream (Serves 4)
900g Stewing Beef
2 Cups of Beef Stock
1 Large Onion Diced
2 Garlic Cloves minced
4 Medium Plum Tomato's Diced
Handful Fresh Chopped Parsley
1 tsp Paprika
1 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
2-3 Red/Orange Roasted Bell Peppers sliced.
4 tbsp Oil
Juice of half a lemon
Rind of 1 Lemon

Dry the stewing beef with paper towel and coat the meat in seasoned flour (Flour, salt and pepper). Heat the oil in a deep pan over a medium high heat and fry the beef in batches until browned on all sides (It does not need to be fully cooked through). Remove the beef from the pan and add some of the stock to de-glaze the pan. When the pan is de-glazed return the stock to the remaining unused stock. Reduce the heat and add some more oil, when hot add the diced onions and minced garlic and allow to soften. Return the meat to the pan alongside the diced tomatoes and paprika and stir to combine, then add all the stock and simmer with a lid on for 30 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes without the lid on. The goulash should have thickened by this stage. Add salt if needed and sprinkle the parsley over the top of the goulash and serve with lemon sour cream and green onions. To make the lemon sour cream mix the lemon rind and juice from half the lemon into a small pot of soured cream and top off with sliced green onions. Traditionally thick sliced buttered noodles can also be served alongside

This is a perfect week dinner and is great washed down with a glass of red wine. It tastes even better if left for the following day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Having made Indian flat bread I thought that I would give it a go and make some flour tortillas. The recipe is very similar to that of the flat bread however it does have the addition of fat. Many recipes reviewed called for lard or shortening however I used vegetable oil as it is a healthier option.

Flour Tortillas
3 cups Flour
1 Tsp Salt
3 Tbs Oil
3/4- 1 Cup Hot Water

Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough and knead for 5 minutes on a floured surface until the dough begins to feel smooth and silky. (If the dough is too wet add some more flour and vice versa if it is too dry). Pinch dough off into small pieces and roll into a ball between your hands (This should represent the size of a golf ball). Then roll the dough out into thin disks on a floured surface and  dry pan fry on a high heat until brown dots appear on one side, flip the tortilla over and brown the underside. When ready remove from pan and wrap in foil then proceed with the next tortilla. There will be a build up of flour between each tortilla in the pan which you will need to wipe clean with a dry piece of kitchen roll  to stop it acquiring a burnt taste.