Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Something I never order when we go out to Indian restaurants, or have takeaway is Dhal. Therefore I have no way of knowing if what I am making is right. I realise its in no way authentic as its a recipe borrowed from about 3 others, and then bits of my own ideas thrown in. All I know is that is tastes good! I have been known to make a batch and stand by the cooker with a saucepan and wooden spoon in hand, shovelling unceremoniously. I often take a little pot from the freezer for my lunch at work, and its great served with a salsa type mix of chopped tomatoes, onions and cucumber. Its equally as good served with a meat curry and rice, or stirred through any leftover curry to bulk it out a bit.
Very comforting, and can be made as spicy as you like it.
half tsp of fennel seeds
half tsp of cumin seeds
1tsp garam masala
1tsp medium curry powder
1/2tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground turmeric
3 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger peeled
400mls coconut milk, can use low fat
1 small dried chilli, or fresh chillis to your taste
tea spoon sea salt
200grams small red lentils
50grams green lentils
1) put spices in a pan and dry fry for a couple of minutes
2) take spices, onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and blitz in a blender to form a paste
3) fry the paste in a little hot oil for 5 minutes
4) add the lentils, water and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until lentils are cooked through, usually about 20-30 minutes. I sometimes cook for maybe 40 minutes to get a nice thick creamy texture.
5) check seasoning and serve
optional 6) you can fry some sliced onions, curry leave and mustard seeds until they start to pop and pour over the dhal before serving
I added a swirl of soya cream for the photo but it doesn't really need it to be honest. The peas and mint add such a great flavour that it can carry itself quite easily. The photo does make the soup look a little thin, but that's only because by the time I had finished setting things up the peas had sunk to the bottom. When blending I like to leave a little texture. I don't think this is the sort of soup that suits being really smooth, but its entirely up to you.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Anyway, I was flicking through as I do, and saw a recipe for a beetroot risotto. I didn't have time to write down the recipe, but it has stuck with me since and I have been desperate to make it. I had two small raw beetroots in the fridge left over from mothers day which seemed to have lasted rather well, plus we always have risotto rice in. The only thing I was lacking was any decent stock, having used up my freezer reserves of homemade chicken and vegetable stocks.
Following a discussion on the BBC Food Boards, I discovered that the new Knorr Stock Pots were on offer in Sainsburys for half price. Eight pots for 99p cannot be ignored as a handy store cupboard standby.
2 raw beetroot, peeled and grated (wear gloves if you have them!)
200g of risotto rice
1 onion, finely chopped
half tsp of fennel seeds toasted and crushed
half tsp cumin seeds toasted and crushed
2 pints of stock (made with one little stock pot) needs to be simmering in a separate pan
1) sweat onion in a little oil or butter for a few minutes. add rice and spices and cook on a gentle heat for another few minutes or until the grains of rice have cracks appearing on them. add in the grated beetroot and stir until incorporated with the rice
2) add a ladle full of stock, stir gently until all the stock has absorbed. repeat until all the stock has been added and the rice grains are creamy when bitten into. should take about 45 mins
3) season to taste and serve a bowl full of the risotto with a spoonful of sour cream and fennel fronds to garnish.
I think next time I will add a little more of the spices, but overall it was a really good risotto. I loved the colour and the flavour was ever so subtly earthy. I would have been happier if the colour of the beetroot had bled as much, I liked the darker flecks as it was cooking, but I suppose thats the nature of beetroot. Everything goes pink!
Upon arrival in Brighton we first navigated the weirdest underground parking system we had ever encountered, and then stripped off our jackets for a walk along the beach. Wonderful weather meant that the world and his wife were out for the day in Brighton but it just made everything seem more summery rather than crowded if you know what I mean.
After a couple of hours of wandering the beach and the pier we decided we better head home. However I had spotted a lovely looking place for an ice cream, The World Famous Pump Room right on the beach just about in line with the Grand Hotel. Their ice cream is made on a local farm and they have lots of lovely flavours. OH went for Amaretto and I opted for Lemon Meringue. I know I shouldn't as dairy really does not agree with me, but my goodness it was good. One scoop served in a crisp sugar cone lasted me a good 20 minutes back to the car and out of Brighton.
Sunday night we had dinner in the hotel planned. Hubby had scoped out the menu earlier in the day and said there were some decent looking options. So we settled down (quite uncomfortably close to the next table in my opinion) and placed our orders. Mackerel pate for me, and I actually cant remember what hubby had, followed by roast Topside of beef for hubby and stuffed sea bass with leek, ginger and fennel for me.
First we were served our wine. Id gone for nice Sancerre and the poor waiter took about 10 minutes to get the cork out, snapping it in the process. He poured some and asked if I wanted to taste it. Well I would have done if there weren't tonnes of bits of cork floating in my glass. After speaking to the manager we managed to get them to get us a new bottle. This was followed by them serving me normal pate instead of mackerel. Tasty starters but not overly impressive.
All was about to change. OHs beef with horseradish mash was divine apparently. I wouldn't know, I don't really eat beef so declined a sample. My sea bass however was out of this world. Two fillets of seabass sandwiched together by a slow cooked, soft sweet caramelised mix of leeks and fennel with the not overpowering addition of fresh ginger. Served with saffron potatoes and some buttery cabbage and broccoli, I could have happily eaten this dish again and again.
Sorry about the fact that there is a large proportion of me in the picture. Being very close to the next table I didn't feel overly comfortable taking pictures of the food, so hubby pretended to take one of me, but moved it down to the get the fish instead!
We don't normally do desserts but had to finish off with one as they were paying! OH opted for Baileys creme brulee which he really enjoyed and I had date and ginger pudding. Perfect texture and size, accompanied by creme fraiche to offset the richness. Again shouldn't have eaten the dairy but what the hey!
Overall an enjoyable weekend away. Food wasn't as perfect as I would have liked on the Saturday, but serves me right for not booking somewhere before 4pm on the day.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Normally we take sandwiches, but we didn't have anything in the fridge so decided to stop at some services on the way. Now I am not one for a Ginsters pasty, or Scotch egg, but providing you can find a services with a Costa Coffee, or even an M&S you can do OK. We decided to go the Costa Coffee route and filled up on panini's and soya milk hot chocolate.
If we had realised we came off the motorway quite so early, we would have maybe postponed lunch and stopped in one of the many quaint little villages along the way. We went past so many country pubs, each one looking better than the last. Eventually half an hour from our destination we decided that we couldn't pass up the sunshine and we had to stop for a drink. We went to this lovely pub called The Mulberry Bush or Mulberry Tree which has a sister property somewhere. Stoopid me me thought she would be able to find a web link to the place and I cant. Anyway i had a lovely Pimms, and OH had an Old Speckled Hen.
On our way back to the hotel we went past another pub called The White Swan. We stopped off to investigate and it looked really nice on the inside. We had a gander at the menu and it all looked fairly decent. So later that evening we hopped in a taxi and made our way back.
It was quite quiet when we got there with only about 3 other tables eating, and one couple having drinks at the bar. We decided to have a drink whilst we read the menu, and having made our decisions were led to the table. They started off by saying they didn't have one thing on the menu which was scampi. No problem there, neither of us wanted it. Then she came back 10 minutes later to say they also didn't have the seabass(my choice) and one other thing which I cant remember. So I had to change my mind. There were a few other things on the menu, but nothing really grabbed me like the grilled seabass on a white wine risotto had done, so I resorted to the starter of fish cakes, but served as a main with chips and veg.
For starter I had leek and potato soup, which was homemade and nice, but far to peppery. OH had duck terrine, with Tacklemans chutney and Melba toast. For mains, I had the above mentioned fish cake and OH had his all time favourite of steak with peppercorn sauce, onion rings, chips and roasted vine tomatoes. The service was good throughout the meal, but the place lacked atmosphere to be honest. We then had a terrible end, when they brought us the bill with an extra £2 added onto the steak, an extra 70p on the fishcakes and a few more pennies here and there. All in all they tried to charge us an extra £4.20p. We spoke to the girl who served us and it appears it was something to do with the computer, and she was very apologetic and took the money off as she should. They also didn't seem to charge us for the drink we had in the bar before the meal, so I did still leave a tip!
The curry paste is VERY hot. It recommends 2-3 dessertspoons and it certainly made our noses run! On the jar it just advises using the paste with water, but the addition of the coconut made it a creamier and more to our liking. Despite the spiciness it was a really good curry. Lots of flavour and quite addictive. We will definitely make this again and I have already mixed a bit of the paste in with some coconut cream as a marinade for some chicken legs which are in the freezer waiting for a suitable BBQ day!
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Easter bunnies waiting to be iced
Ok so I am not religious in the slightest, however I still do the old fish on Good Friday thing. Don't know why, I think its something my parents always did even though they aren't religious either!
We did cheat slightly by having left over pulled pork in pittas for lunch, but I am sure being frugal lets you off.
Anyway, I am a big smoked salmon fan. Hubby not so fussed, but will eat it and does claim to enjoy it every now and again. Those packs of value smoked salmon trimmings are really quite good when you are working to a budget and we often have a pack in the freezer.
We were off to the pub later on Friday night and as it was my turn to drive I thought I'd better line hubby's stomach with pasta. He is a PROPER beer drinker and we go to what is probably one of the most run down little pubs in our home town. From the outside the paint is crumbling, and the inside is filled with old men huddled round little tables, and there is a stroppy old bar woman who once shouted at us to "not f~%k with the fire". The beer is therefore the only reason we go there. Hubby and his mates usually work from left to right across the hand pumps, so it can turn quite messy!
Smoked Salmon Vodka Pasta (serves 2)
half a pot of Alpro soya cream (or Elmlea for you normal peeps)
half a bag of washed spinach
half table spoon of tomato puree
1 packet of smoked salmon trimmings
100g of pasta per person
Friday, 10 April 2009
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo, which is very unlike me, I'm usually snapping everything we eat at the minute. I will be making again though so will add a photo in the not too distant future.
Random Aubergine Thing
250g of pork mince (could use lamb)
1 onion finely chopped
2 crushed garlic cloves
5 chopped dried apricots
2 chopped dried figs
Half small courgette diced
8 mushrooms diced
Half an orange pepper diced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp tom puree
2 level tbsp ground almonds
1 cup veg stock
1 large aubergine
For the cheesy sauce (I made a lot as can never get quantities of cheese sauce right!)
50g flour (approx)
1 carton of Soya cream (or about 250ml milk)
1/2 cup veg stock (you probably wont need it unless the sauce is too thick - as I used soya cream I needed it)
50g grated cheese
1) slice aubergine in half length ways, scoop out the insides, dice it up and put to one side. Scoop out insides to leave a "shell", brush with oil, sprinkle with a little extra cumin and bake in oven 200 deg for 15mins or until cooked
2) fry off pork mince, onion and garlic. Add spices, dried fruit and tom puree. Stir and cook for 2 mins
3) add in diced veggies including the insides of the aubergine and cook for another 2 mins. Add ground almonds, stir until incorporated and then add veg stock.
4) cook for 10 mins until sauce is thickened and veggies are cooked. Season and cover to keep warm
5) make sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan. Add lots of grated nutmeg and a little black pepper. Add in a little of the flour and whisk in. Keep adding a little flour until you get a thick goo. Add the milk a little at a time and keep whisking until smooth. Add some grated cheese and stir until melted. Should be a thick dropping consistency.
6) spoon your pork mix into the hollowed out aubergine, make sure to mound it up. Cover the top with as much or as little cheese sauce as you want and bake in a 250deg oven for 10 mins, until cheese sauce is just turning golden.
7) serve with some little roasted potatoes sprinkled with sea salt, and some salad.
I had leftover mince and leftover cheese sauce. Bunged em both in a little pot and heated up in microwave at work for my lunch. Oh My God it was heavenly!!! Leftovers rule!