Moussaka

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moussaka 18/05/2017

A good moussaka is a joy to behold with cinnamon spiced lamb mingling with aubergines and a delicious creamy sauce. It is something I’ve always wanted to make but never have until my friends and I decided to have a Greek night. Perfect chance. I don’t know why I’ve not made one before. It’s extremely comforting and flavourful and well worth the effort.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Aubergine:

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into ¼” / ¾ cm thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 500 g lamb mince
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp plain flour
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken or lamb broth/stock, or water + 1 stock cube
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp allspice (optional)
  • Lemon zest and juice (optional)

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Topping:
  • ⅓ cup panko or fresh breadcrumbs

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Method:

Aubergine:

  1. Sprinkle the aubergines with salt and place them (stacked) in a large colander. Leave to sweat for 30 minutes, then brush off excess salt and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Preheat oven to 200C. Lay the aubergine onto 2 large baking trays, brush with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until just softened. Remove and set aside to cool.

Filling:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat then cook the garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add the lamb and cook, using the wooden spoon to break up the mince as you go. Add the flour and herbs and stir. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, then cover, lower heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes.

Béchamel Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, using a whisk to keep it moving.
  2. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk to combine. It will thicken quite quickly. Add the remaining milk. Whisk until smooth then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until it thickens so that it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove from the stove and whisk in cheese. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then whisk the eggs in.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place half the filling in the bottom of a baking dish then half of the aubergine in a layer on top. Repeat the process with the remaining filling and aubergine.
  3. Pour over the béchamel sauce, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little extra grated cheese and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Pea Kachori

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kachori1 12/05/2017

Kachoris are a traditional Gujarati snack, often filled with spiced dhal. I find that using green peas, instead of pulses, gives them a fresher, sweeter flavour that combines wonderfully with the warmth of the spices. I’ve used peanuts for a little added crunch too.

This version of kachori are filled with spicy pea filling and served with a cooling coriander and coconut chutney. Yummy! They will make a delicious starter to a curry night. Like most Indian snacks, traditional kachori get a deep-frying treatment but these beauties have been baked in the oven with excellent results.

Adding citric acid to the dough helps to keep the chapatti case crisp and adds a little citrus zing to balance the flavour but it is completely optional. You can omit it if you don’t have any.

Makes 20-25

Ingredients:
Dough:

  • 150 g plain flour, sifted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp / 15 ml of oil (I used olive oil)
  • about 75 ml / 5 tbsp of boiling water
  • ½ tsp citric acid (if using)

Filling:

  • 300g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 25g unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil, for sauteéing
  • about 1-2 tbsp / 15-30 ml of lemon juice
  • small bunch of mint, chopped

Chutney:

  • 1 cup of fresh coriander
  • about ½ cup / 120 ml full fat coconut milk
  • lime juice to taste (I used ½ lime)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Method:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, citric acid and salt. Add oil and rub it into the flour with your hands. Now add 60 ml of hot water and start bringing the dough together. If it is too dry add another 1-2 tablespoons but do it gradually so that the dough doesn’t end up too wet. Knead for 5 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with a tiny bit of oil and cover with a damp tea towel to prevent drying up.
  2. Whiz defrosted peas in a food processor with the mint until coarse chunks remain.
  3. Warm up a tablespoon of oil over a medium heat in a pan. Add mustard seeds and wait until they start popping. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry them briefly until the garlic has softened. Mix all the spices in a small bowl with a bit of water to make a paste. When you add them to the pan, this will prevent burning. Now add the spice paste, peas, peanuts and salt to the pan. Stir-fry for a few minutes but do not let the mixture dry up completely. Let the filling cool down.
  4. Pinch a small amount of the dough and roll it into an 8 cm / 3” circle. Place a heaped teaspoon of dough in the middle and gather the dough around the filling so it looks like a little money bag and tear away/cut off excess dough. Roll the kachori in your hands to make it more circular in shape. Keep kachori ready under a damp kitchen towel.
  5. Heat up the oven to 200° C. Place kachori on a baking tray and brush them with a bit of oil. Bake for about 40 minutes, until browned.
  6. To make the chutney, blitz all the chutney ingredients (apart from lime, salt and pepper) in a blender. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.

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Brazilian Fish Stew – Moqueca

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Brazilian-Fish-Stew_680px_4 (2) 23/04/2017

A traditional Brazilian dish of fish and bell peppers (capsicum) in a delicately flavoured coconut base broth, this stew really is quite unique.

I made this after being inspired by a visit to a Brazilian restaurant where they carved copious amounts of tender meat onto your plate quicker than you could eat it. I was in heaven. While the selection of meat was absolutely beautiful, what stood out for me most was the ‘salad bar’ that was on offer. There was a variety of Brazilian delicacies ranging from lentil salads, herb and garlic roast potatoes, black bean stew, rices, pastas, salsas, olives, garlic mushrooms, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many other things including moqueca. The spices were subtle but flavourful and the fish was welcome change from the heavy going grilled meats. I cooked up a batch for the family the day after and it was a total success.

This is actually quite refreshing rather than rich and heavy. In addition to coconut milk, the broth has in it canned tomatoes, lime juice, paprika and cumin powder. The paprika and cumin flavour is subtle, and to me, the standout is the lime flavour which cuts through the richness of the coconut milk.

The broth is quite refreshing and not too rich, unlike many strong flavoured, rich coconut based curries. I made this just using fish but it is also made as a seafood stew with prawns and calamari.

Ingredients:

Fish:

  • 3-4 salmon fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Broth:

  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, halved and sliced
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml fish or chicken broth

Finishes:

  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander

Method:

  1. For the fish: Combine the fish, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. For the broth: Heat a large pan over a medium high and add 1½ tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 1½ minutes or until the onion is starting to become translucent.
  3. Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining broth ingredients. Bring to simmer then turn down to medium.
  5. Add the salmon chunks, stir to coat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the salmon is tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir through lime juice.
  7. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice.

Lamb Kleftico

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Screenshot_2017-04-16-21-36-14-1[1] 17/04/2017

Amazingly tender, pull apart lamb is slow roasted together with potatoes and onion that absorb all the wonderful marinade and meat juices as they cook.

Ingredients:

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. roughly chopped oregano
  • 1 tbsp. roughly choppedrosemary
  • zest 1lemon and juice of 2
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp.olive oil
  • 400ml chicken or lamb stock
  • 2kg leg of lamb
  • 1kg Desiree potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 or 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 5 bay leaves

Method:

  1. Crush together the garlic cloves and 1 tsp salt using a pestle and mortar. Add the herbs, lemon zest, cinnamon and some black pepper then stir through the olive oil. Using a sharp knife, create lots of holes all over the lamb, and rub in the paste, pushing it deep into the holes. Transfer the lamb to a large food bag, pour in the lemon juice and marinate overnight.
  2. The next day, take the lamb out of the fridge 2 hours before you want to cook it. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Lay 2 long pieces of baking parchment on top of 2 long pieces of foil – one widthways, the other lengthways to form a cross. Pop the potatoes in the centre of the parchment and toss with the remaining oil and some seasoning. Bring up the sides of the foil, then pour the marinade from the lamb over the potatoes and throw in the bay leaves. Pour the stock into the pan. Set the lamb on top of the potatoes and scrunch the foil together tightly to completely enclose the lamb. Lift into a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 4½ hrs until very tender.
  3. Remove tin from the oven and increase the temperature to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Unwrap the parcel and scrunch the foil and parchment under the rim of the tin, baste the lamb with the juices and return to the oven for a further 20 mins until browned. Remove the lamb from the tin, wrap in foil and rest.
  4. Drain most of the stock and juices from the pan. Set aside. Turn the potatoes over and return to the oven for 30 minutes to brown then season with salt. Serve the juices, meat and potatoes with a fresh salad.

Welsh Cakes

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welsh 31/03/2017

This tasty offering is a spiced fruity drop scone that is baked on a griddle pan. You can whip up a batch in no time and enjoy them hot from the pan slathered with butter and jam or sprinkled with sugar.

Makes 18-24

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g butter, cut into small pieces plus extra for frying
  • 50g currants
  • 25g mixed peel, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • splash milk

Method:                                            

  1. Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter until crumbly. Mix in the currants and mixed peel. Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry. It should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger. Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with butter and place over a medium heat. Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Delicious served warm with butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with caster sugar. Cakes will stay fresh in a tin for 1 week.

Baked Chorizo Dip

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chorizod 23/03/2017

My rubbish phone picture really doesn’t do this dish justice but for something I rustled up out of odds and ends in the fridge, it tastes and smells incredible! The rich, spicy sauce is perfect for dunking fresh garlicky bread into.

Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooking chorizo, case removed and sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil
  • Handful of spinach
  • Strong goats cheese
  • Garlic bread, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C. Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the sliced chorizo. Cook the chorizo gently until it begins to release its oils. Flip the slices and continue to fry until beginning to brown. Drain and set aside.
  2. Discard most of the chorizo oil from the pan but keep a little to fry the garlic and peppers in until slightly softened. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, balsamic, seasoning and basil to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Put the spinach in the pan along with a dash of water and cover the pan so the spinach wilts.
  3. Return the chorizo to the pan and stir everything well to combine. Transfer to a little baking dish. Top with crumbled goats cheese.
  4. Place the dish on a baking tray long with some garlic bread and bake in the oven for 12 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the garlic bread is crispy.
  5. Remove from the oven and try to resist the temptation of shoving it in your mouth instantly. This will result in searing pain although it would be totally justified and expected once you smell how amazing this is!

This dish would work really well with any bread or even as a stir through sauce for pasta as the meaty juices would combine beautifully.

Mushroom Stroganoff

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16832212_10154933293991000_6247086306092457628_n 21/02/2017

Sometimes, I don’t have time and my stomach doesn’t have the patience for me to stand and cook a long, complicated meal. As much as I love getting creative in the kitchen, it doesn’t have to take forever to whip up a tasty offering and this mushroom stroganoff is a case in point. It takes 10 minutes to make. The sauce is made while the pasta is boiling then the pasta is tossed through the sauce to soak up all the earthy, creamy flavours. The paprika lends the smallest hint of spice and the parsley provides a freshness against the luxurious sour cream

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 25g butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 200g chestnut mushroom, sliced
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 142ml carton soured cream
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • tagliatelle, to serve

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in the butter in a large frying pan until soft. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms and fry over high heat until browned. Add the paprika, fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the beef stock and bubble fiercely to reduce by two-thirds.
  2. Take off the heat and stir in the soured cream, parsley and salt and pepper. Serve with tagliatelle.