Back to School for me this evening for an Indian Cookery class. Mainly to chum a pal who spotted this under adult education for Edinburgh. This evening mainly a demo and orientation session. The teacher covered a Chilli Dip, Yogurt Mango and Lime Relish,
Poppadum’s, Chicken Chaat and Vegetable Pakoras.
Throughout there was good chat on a few topics:
Spices – left in the cupboard
If you don’t recognise them, can’t tell what they are, throw them away
If they are past their sell by date, throw them away
Smell them, if they don’t give off an aroma, probably have passed their best, throw them away
Buying big bags although cheaper by weight is usually a false economy as you won’t use that amount overall. Use your judgement. Turmeric and Paprika might be an exception to this rule for me. Although I prefer using fresher ingredients so it’s a good consideration.
Apparently Garlic is easier to crush if fresher and the teacher attributed an upset stomach to using garlic that doesn’t have the green stalk removed. I looked this up further as I know Anna Del Conte recommended that you remove the stalk as it’s bitter. My view, about the sprout. It’s called the germ and when garlic is young, the germ is pale, small and tender and you don’t need to worry about it. Likewise if you are slow cooking you don’t need to worry. For an older garlic clove where the germ is green and you are using fresh, or quick frying you may wish to remove the green using your thumb or pairing knife.
Smaller varieties usually have more kick/heat. Not everyone likes a seed, can impart unwanted heat in a mouthful! You can use whole chillies and take them out later as a way of adding fragrance.
My eldest is starting to eat us out of house and home…an example of this is breakfast, he’s started getting through 4 Weetabix a day! Not really a problem apart from cost and the feeling of being visited by a locust as he inhales the buscuits. I find breakfast cereals really annoying in terms of cost, actual nutritional content and the promise of keeping hunger at bay. Porridge though, passed down through the generations, a warming soul food. Not too expensive and a genuine life saver in terms of keeping my boys happy.
Oats have got to be one of this worlds gifts, a humble ingredient and so versatile especially in this simple recipe. We are a hundred percent milk house, you can use a blend of water and milk and adjust to taste, a pinch of salt if needed, a drop of honey to add sweetness. I love chopped banana and blueberries. Easy to make this your own.
Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File
50g porridge oats
250g milk (or 150g milk/100g water)
In a microwave bowl, weigh 50g of the oats
In the same bowl pour in the milk to the 300g mark (You could measure 250ml from jug). Just easier on the scale to pour from the 2 litre bottles we buy
Mix together and put in the fridge overnight (optional)
Microwave for 1.5 mins, stir
Microwave for 1 minute, stir
Microwave for 30 seconds, stir
Alternatively bring to a simmer on the stove, stirring all the while, you want to it to barely speak to you with a plop and a burp.
I now leave my boys to it, they have adapted their technique to their own preference. The youngest doesn’t like to soak overnight, and the eldest likes to soak and has changed his own variables
Bolognese when I was a boy came from a Colman’s packet, a dry substance that was mixed with hot water and mince that had been browned for 5 minutes or so served with a bland starchy spaghetti. My sister and I desperately trying to convince my dad that it would be great idea, worth a change and add some variety to our menu. I can’t remember how we convinced him, but we did and it was horrible! Maybe it was us, we weren’t cooks, the sauce I remember was so watery and tasteless, we put a brave face on and made out it was great! We didn’t get to try again, probably a good thing!
As a student I moved onto jars of Dolmio probably buy 1 get 1 free and then later after graduation more sophisticated jars of pasta sauce with bake in the oven magic skills. At some point though I became aware that these jars came with sugar, salt and all manner of preservatives. I’m pretty sure they came with the word authentic across the label, or just like mama used to make. Somehow I became aware that all that was really needed was a tin of good quality tomatoes, some seasoning, good mince and some slow cook time.
I’ve come across many variations of a Bolognese recipe all claiming to be authentic and I’ve tried a few of them, hoping to come across the secret sauce, the be all and end all of all Bolognese recipes to end them all. I’ve come to realise that the authentic Bolognese is your own recipe…the one that works for you and your family.
Mine, I adapt for the mood, it’s always made with view of having enough to freeze, use up the onions and the carrots from the veg box, even the odd chilli and then I add kidney beans as well…..please don’t shoot me….I know it’s not traditional authentic…..it works for us though! I hope you get something from my recipe!
Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File
Prep: This roughly covers 12 portions, we get 3 meals for 4 in terms of freezer prep. Good sized casserole dish, heavy based pan.
3 tbsp Olive oil
100g pancetta or bacon (I use ham ends from the butcher), diced
2 Onions, finely chopped
2 Cloves garlic
2-3 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalk, finely chopped
1kg mince (Our butcher now does minced pork, so I use 500g of pork and 500g beef)
1 tblsp dried oregano
300ml red wine (could use white)
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
100g split red lentils (controversial! Optional)
Salt and black pepper
150ml whole milk
To serve, up until recently we were big fans of Spaghetti or Fusilli. My recent discovery being that Spaghetti is a British/American take on the dish. More traditional would be Tagliatelle or Pappardelle and mixed into the pasta rather than served on top in a big dollop.
Goes without saying freshly grated parmesan adds that true authentic taste!
Heat the oil, and gently brown the bacon
With the heat at a gentle setting, add the veg to this and soften the onions, garlic, carrots and celery with the idea of creating a Soffrito, a soft base of veg
At this point I tip this into a bowl and put to a side….just so I can really get stuck in with the meat. You can crumble the mince straight into the pan if you like.
Turn the heat up slightly and using a wooden spoon break the mince down, browning it as you go. The mince needs to have lost all its colour.
Once browned throw the veg back in if you went for the separate bowl option.
Add the Oregano, stir through.
Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper
Add the Wine and stir through, bring to a simmer.
Add the tomatoes and the purée, stir through and bring to a simmer then lower the heat and pop the lid on for an 1hr 30mins. You just want the ragu to talk to itself for an hour so. Keep an eye on it…I like to nurture it.
At this point I stir in the milk….some people add a bit of dark chocolate. The milk adds a subtle creaminess that I like
At this point I gage whether it’s too runny and add the lentils in, simmer and stir for 30 mins. This both soaks up the liquid at the same time as bulking out the meal for the boys who just seem to be eating more and more! You could just take the lid off and simmer slowly for 30 mins to thicken up
A dreich weekend, a head cold to boot and looking after our nephews called for a simple bang in the oven treat. Chicken was the staple of my youth, but there was not a herb in site let alone garlic, just bisto!
Credit: Granny’s Recipe File
Prep: You’ll need a large bowl for tossing the ingredients together and a lidded roasting dish. The recipe will scale easily, so chose an appropriate roasting dish. This is perfect for 2 in a small le Creuset
4 Chicken Thighs
3 medium roasting potatoes cut into chunks
100g Bacon Pieces/diced streaky
3 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced
1 Onion Quartered and then chopped again
2 Sprigs of Rosemary, or few sprigs of thyme
Juice of a Lemon
2 tbsp Crème Fraiche
The recipe card recommends serving with a green salad, or braised cabbage like I did.
Preheat the oven to 180°c
In a large bowl, mix/turn over the potatoes with
Finely sliced garlic
Finely chopped rosemary or thyme
Good glug of olive oil
Once everything coated with the oil tip into the casserole dish
Place the chicken pieces on top, brush with a little oil if you want the skin to colour
Place in the oven with the lid on for 40 mins
After this make a judgement call,
I took the lid off and placed back in the oven to colour the skin
Could have taken the chicken out and roasted separately if the veg was well on its way.
Take the chicken out and place on a plate
Add the lemon juice and the crème fraiche to the potatoes and turn over
I skipped coffee last week, I’m sorry I was caught up in crazyness and wondering what it was all about. One of those why am I doing this stuff kind of moments. That and time, where does it all go?
This week I came across Ryder Carroll and his Bullet Journal Technique…..he has a TEDx talk on ‘How to lead an Intentional Life’
I love the quote: ‘You can’t make time, You can only take time’
I’m 3 days into using his framework and really trying to adopt some of the techniques to manage my time, to take the time to manage my brain. Just google Bullet Journal and all will be revealed!
So today I’m taking time to share coffee…..good morning! Thanks for popping by. I’ve got a fuzzy head this morning, the coffee is strong to help break through the fug and give me a chance of making the most of a Sunday. No Sympathy is requested, a self-inflicted one glass too many on the wine front and a nice little night cap of Whisky.
We had pals round for dinner, long standing friends that have followed my wife and I round all our various tables through the last 20 years or so. Sometimes the same table different location. Always good to see them and aside from the 5 minute blip with the kids getting too excited which resulted in me reading the riot act. We had a great night.
We served up a Veggie Lasagne and a Cranachan Cheesecake (A Scottish twist on a baked cheesecake). Home-made Lasagne is a real labour of love and I always under estimate how long it takes especially when I choose to make the pasta as well. I can’t find a link to the cheesecake recipe….but the Lasagne recipe I based mine on can be found at chez Jamie Oliver’s.
I learnt a few things making this recipe and definitely a keeper…..but it definitely needs to be doctored to make it your own and the way it’s laid out really frustratingly for finding one’s feet as you try and find where you are.
Just written in my journal…… write up my version, see if I can make it simpler!
Thanks for joining me for coffee, thanks to Nerd in the Brain who hosts the Weekend Coffee Share and for relieving my writers block this morning by reminding me of my organisation discovery this week.
A few minutes spare in the Sorrento supermarket allowed me to take a moment to explore all the different shapes and sizes on offer. This particular shape took my fancy and it’s only now that I Farfalline translates to butterflies.
Prep: Large Stock Pot with Lid, As ever don’t get precious over the veg you use, just pick a few good wholesome root veggies and the liquid ratio is yours to choose depending on how thick you like your soup
150g Puy lentils
50g Pearl Barley
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
2 Celery Stalks, diced
1 tbsp Bouillon
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 Carrots, diced
1 Parsnip, diced
4 slices Smoked Bacon, diced
4 Potatoes diced (500g)
1 tin of Borlotti beans drained and rinsed
Glug of Olive Oil or Rapeseed
Start with soaking the lentils and barley, give them a thorough wash in plenty of running cold water, then soak in the 500ml of water
Glug of oil in the pan, heat through and then add the bacon
Dice the onions, and add to the pan
When the onions start to soften add the crushed garlic, the celery, and turn over, soften for a minute or so
Add the root veg, and turn over on low heat for 8 minutes or so
Add the bouillon (I do this dry) and the mixed herbs…..stir through.
Pour over the Puy lentils, plus barley and the 500ml water
Top up with water from the kettle (1.5 litre). Cover the veg by 4-5 cm.
Simmer gently for 15 mins
Add in the pasta and simmer as per the length of time on the packet. About 6 mins for the Farfalline
Judge the water level as you stir through to stop things sticking to the bottom
I briefly pulsed a hand blender to thicken a little…..but it doesn’t really need it
Feel free to season to taste with salt/ground pepper
Sunday and a blue sky chilly day, a chance to walk with the sun in our faces. We made it over the top of Blackford Hill and along the Hermitage to the Lodge for a cheeky scone. At the back of my mind the desire to try Granny’s curry which would definitely fit the bill of a warming wintry slow cook allowing us to get on with watching a Boys film from the recorded Christmas TV.
Credit: Granny’s Recipe File
Prep: Large casserole dish hob and oven friendly
Oven: 180°c or 350°f
650g Stewing Beef diced
2 large onions diced
1 cooking apple, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
25g plain flour
1 (400g) tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chutney
50g sultanas or raisins
Juice of a lemon
Heat a glug of olive oil in the casserole dish on a high heat
Sear 1/2 or 1/3 of the beef until brown on each side
Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in bowl to add back in later
Add another glug of oil if needed and repeat until all the beef is seared
Once all the beef is seared, add another glug and soften the onion and apple
Add the curry powder, stir through and cook for a minute or so
Add the flour and again stir through and cook for a minute or so
Add in the tomatoes and stir through
Add the dried fruit, the beef with it’s juices, the lemon juice and the water, stirring through
Then place in the centre of the oven for 2 hours
Post-Recipe Notes: Granny loved to add raisins to everything. This a glossy, sweet and sour curry the apple disappears and there is a hidden back note to the dish. Curry powder feels cheatsy, quick and easy to rustle this up before banging in the oven.
Granny's Lemon Crusty Cake, an infusion of citrus to a classic sponge
Pleased to find a classic easy cake recipe in Granny’s recipe file, hoping that one of the boys would help me as I start the journey of working through the box. We’ll see though, there is another kind of box (starts with x) calling on this grey January day.
An infusion of summer is introduced in this cake, a reminder to me of the lemons growing freely and openly in Sorrento……just the ticket for afternoon tea.
Credit: Granny’s Recipe File
Prep: Grease and line a 22cm x 22cm square cake tin
125g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs – beaten
175g Self-raising flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 Lemons – the zest of
2 Lemons – the juice from the zested lemons
125g Caster Sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy
Whisk in the beaten eggs a little at a time
Gently fold in the flour, baking powder and the zest
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 20 minutes, the cake should shrink a little from the sides and spring back lightly when touched
For the infusion, mix the lemon juice and granulated sugar to a runny consistency
Pour/Brush over the cake while still hot in the tin, and leave to cool
Post-Recipe Notes: I’ve been given the back story to this recipe, the recipe card mentions Verbier 88…which brought back tales of a family sharing a chalet on a skiing holiday. This recipe came from the customary afternoon tea that that gets served up on return from the slopes. This a take away recipe from the Chalet Girl.
This comes with a high sugar warning……..I didn’t quite manage the crunch, I was too scared to go for the full amount on the topping! Just goes to show…..make your own cake so you know what goes into your food! Aside from that…..it’s delicious.
Robust winter root vegetable soup, spiced with curry powder and ginger.
A huge piece of ginger came in the veg box this week, huge by our standards anyway. We’ve only been known to buy a thumb sized piece….this one was at least 4 thumbs. The box also contained a stonking turnip and a huge ugly parsnip.
Prep: Large Stock Pot with Lid, don’t get precious over the veg you use, just pick a few good wholesome root veggies and the liquid ratio is yours to choose depending on how thick you like your soup
250g split red lentils and 350ml water
2 onions, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 mild fresh chilli’s, deseeded
A thumb sized piece of ginger peeled
1tbsp Curry Powder
A large sweet potato (or 2 medium)
A large swede or turnip
A large parsnip (or 2 medium)
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
Glug of Olive Oil or Rapeseed
Start with the lentils, give them a thorough wash in plenty of running cold water, then soak in the 350ml of water
Dice the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli. (I use a mini food processor to make this quicker, or you could grate the ginger and finely slice the chilli)
Glug of oil into the pan and gently soften the onion mix for 5 mins on low heat
Add the curry powder and continue to cook for a minute or so
Peel and chop the root veg into chunks, add to the pot and turn over, cook for a minute or so
Add the chopped tomatoes and stir over
Add the red lentils which should be looking a little plumper by now and stir over
Top up with water from the kettle. I usually do this to just about cover the veg
Simmer until the chunks are soft
Pulse with a hand blender, or mash with a potato masher to the consistency you like
We recently came back from a weeks camping and on the route home we popped into the supermarket in order to pick up some staples for the working week a head. Armed with zero recipes and preparation on my behalf the sweet potatoes called out to me.
This makes a nice hearty soup with left overs for the freezer for those mid week school nights.