Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Lamb Rogan Josh

I’d been wanting to cook lamb Rogan Josh, one of my very favourite Indian dishes, for absolutely ages: and had been gathering recipes to do so for just as long. Many that I had sourced were very authentic but authenticity, as often happens, takes time and so I decided one evening to opt for a quicker, if perhaps not as “real” version. As such I’m not sure that this is particularly authentic at all and on top of that the yoghurt lightened it much more than I would have liked. It certainly tasted great though.

Apparently (so says Camellia Panjabi) “rogan” is Hindi for “red”, referring to the deep red colour using Kashmiri chillies (although see my comment regarding adding yoghurt as above) and “josh” means “fat”, referring to the fat which should melt out of the meat during braising. As well as the use of Kashmiri chillies this recipe also uses traditional rogan josh spices cardamom and fennel. If you can’t find Kashmiri chilli powder or the dried chillies themselves, you can use a standard chilli powder and add paprika to boost the red colour instead.

Lamb Rogan Josh
serves 2 generously

550g lamb leg (or shoulder), diced
1½ tbsp clarified butter (or ghee)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
25g root ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
400g canned tomatoes
250ml water
100ml yoghurt, whisked
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
½ tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
3 green cardamoms, lightly crushed
1 black cardamom, lightly crushed
½ tsp black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
½ blade of mace (optional)
¼ tsp turmeric

Fry the onions in the clarified butter in a large saute pan for about 20 minutes until lightly browned. Add the cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, peppercorns & mace & fry for 1 minute.

Then add the coriander, fennel, turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and coriander, frying for a minute or so more.

Throw in the meat and brown for about 5 minutes.

Blitz the tomatoes, garlic and ginger in a blender with a little water and add to the pan, cooking for a minute or so more.

Lower the heat to low and stir through the yoghurt.

Cook for a minute or two before pouring in the water and adding the salt.

Cook for about 2 hours until the meat is very tender removing any whole spices and the bay leaf and mace before serving with basmati rice.

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

I should do some sort of recipe census one day and see which chefs I tend to cook most of. I’m pretty sure that Yotam Ottolenghi would feature pretty highly up the list. Everything I’ve tried of his so far has been winner and there are many more I still want to try (braised eggs with lamb, venison stew and black pepper tofu all spring immediately to mind).

The Guardian website is a good source of his recipes and of course that was where I saw this one. These fishcakes are it seems, according to Ottolenghi “popular among Syrian Jews” being as they “capture much of the spirit of Sephardi food”. They are also delicious.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce
serves 2

1½ slices good white bread, crusts removed
300g white fish fillet, skinless and boneless,
½ medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
15g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
15g coriander, finely chopped
½ tbsp ground cumin
¾ tsp salt
1 large free-range egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground coriander
½ medium onion, chopped
65ml white wine
200g tin chopped tomatoes
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp caster sugar
sea salt and black pepper

First make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid and add the spices and onion. Cook for eight to 10 minutes, until completely soft, then add the wine and simmer for three minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until quite thick, taste to adjust the seasoning and set aside.

While the sauce is cooking, make the fishcakes. Put the bread in a food processor and blitz to breadcrumbs. Chop the fish very finely and put in a bowl with the breadcrumbs and everything else but the olive oil.

Mix well, use your hands to shape into compact cakes about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. If the cakes are very soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes so they firm up (you could also add some dried breadcrumbs to the mix, but do so only sparingly – the uncooked cakes should be quite wet).

Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan and sear the cakes for three minutes on each side, so they colour well on both sides. Add the remaining oil as you fry the cakes.

Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce – if need be, squeeze them a bit so they all fit in a single layer.

Add just enough water partially to cover the cakes – about 100ml or so – cover the pan with a lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15–20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the cakes to settle, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature with, for instance, some steamed couscous.

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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Lemon Asparagus & Artichoke Farfalle

It was hot the day I made this: hot and muggy and I was distinctly lacking in cooking motivation so I opted for pasta - one of the easiest things to fall back on when you just can’t really be bothered, in my opinion.

I have a document on my laptop just for pasta recipes and a board on pinterest too - we have pasta weekly so it makes sense that I have a lot of inspiration to keep things interesting. And the inspiration for this one can be found here. The original called for making a white sauce with flour, butter & milk but I opted for half fat crème fraîche and egg instead for the creamy sauce. A trick I had employed previously in fact in this pasta recipe.

Lemon Artichoke & Asparagus Farfalle
serves 2

150g farfalle pasta
½ tin artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed & quartered
10-15 asparagus tips, cut in 1-1½ in lengths
½ tbsp lemon juice + ½ tsp lemon zest
white wine
knob of butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg yolk
2 heaped tbsp crème fraîche
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
shaved parmesan or pecorino

Whisk together the yolk and crème fraîche in a small bowl and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, spray a large pan or non stick skillet with cooking spray. Add artichoke hearts, lemon juice, and lemon zest and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add asparagus with a splash of white wine and cook another 2-4 minutes until tender, stirring throughout.

Remove asparagus & artichoke from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add butter and garlic to pan and stir for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant.

Tip in the pasta and pour over the crème fraîche, stirring to coat the pasta in the sauce. Carefully stir in the artichokes and asparagus.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with parmesan cheese.

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Baked Haddock with Pea Salad

I first saw a picture of this on Pinterest and then the recipe here. I’ve adapted it slightly by adding some sunblush tomatoes to the salad and using haddock instead of sole but otherwise it is much the same.

A nice summery meal - and I cooked it at the height of summer although looking out the window you wouldn’t have believed it and I’d had to shut the windows and put my thick socks on for the first time in weeks.

I also served this with some steamed & buttered new potatoes but to really keep this light you can easily do without.

Baked Haddock with Pea Salad
serves 2

2 haddock fillets
zest & juice of ½ lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
100g frozen peas thawed
salt and pepper to taste
4spring onions, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
40g sunblush tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

In a small bowl add the crushed garlic, 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together well then pour over the fish in a baking dish. Make sure the fish is fully coated with the marinade then cover the dish with cling and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Place the fish in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until done.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a sauté pan and add the chopped onion and red pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened.

Add the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the thawed peas to the skillet and saute for another 5 to 8 minutes, adding the tomatoes for the last few minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the dill, mixing well.

To serve divide the pea salad between two plates and place a fish fillet on top of each.

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Artichoke Chicken with Polenta

There’s a website I check out every now and then called Budget Bytes - in fact it was where I got inspiration for the “one-pot” pasta - and I saw this recipe a while ago instantly bookmarking it to adapt at some later point. Anything with artichoke hearts in it is a winner for me as I absolutely love them and this is fairly quick to chuck together of an evening and I think would probably be pretty good when cooking for friends too.

The original suggests serving with pasta but I opted to have this with polenta. My most recent batch - having scoured supermarket after supermarket for the stuff after my last lot had run out - was eventually bought at an Italian deli in Borough Market and as such it is the “proper” stuff rather than the quick variety I’d hitherto, and unknowingly I might add, used. What this means is that it is 45 minutes in the cooking. And stirring. If you don’t like cooking risotto do not under any circumstances buy proper polenta as it will drive you nuts.

Artichoke Chicken
serves 2

300g skinless chicken breast fillets, pounded flat, each breast cut into 3 pieces
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tbsp capers
small tin chopped tomatoes
½ tin artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp onion granules
1 tsp lemon zest (about ½ medium lemon)
small handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
polenta to serve

Season the chicken lightly on both sides with salt & pepper.

Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat and when hot add the chicken pieces. Cook for about 5 mins per side until golden. Remove the chicken to a plate once browned and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil, along with the garlic to the pan and lightly fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant but not coloured.

Add the chopped artichoke hearts, chopped tomatoes, dried basil, lemon zest, onion granules, red pepper flakes, capers and a small pinch of salt.

Stir well and return the chicken to the pan, nestling it down into the sauce. Bring to the boil then turn down to low and let the chicken simmer for 15 minutes, flipping it once half way through.

Stir through most of the chopped parsley then serve over polenta, sprinkling the remaining parsley on top.

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Mutter Paneer

Mutter (or mattar) paneer is the classic north indian punjabi dish of paneer (“cottage” cheese) and peas (mutter) cooked in a spiced tomato-based gravy. This has now been added to my rotation of vegetarian dishes to pull out on a weekly basis, it is that good. That said, the sauce is so delicious that I’m going to cook a meat curry with it as the base: chicken or lamb I think. It really is seriously good so if you want to try something different for a veggie main give this a whirl.

Mutter Paneer
serves 2

225g paneer cheese, cubed
1 tbsp clarified butter (or ghee)
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 onion, chopped & puréed in a spice grinder
1½ tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
3 cloves
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1tsp coriander powder
400g canned diced tomatoes
1 red chilli finely chopped
250ml water
125g frozen peas
pinch of asafoetida (optional)
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
salt, to taste
2 tbsp cream
coriander leaves, finely chopped to serve

Heat the clarified butter in a heavy bottom frying or sauté pan and fry the paneer cubes until they are lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

Heat the oil in the pan, add the onion purée and fry until it turns a pale brown.

Add the tomato paste, ginger and garlic pastes and fry for another couple of minutes before adding the coriander, cloves, cumin, turmeric, garam masala & chilli powder and red chilli.

Fry, stirring continuously till you have a glossy thick paste that has darkened a bit.

This would be the "oil separating phase" often seen in Indian recipes if the usual quantity of oil had been used but I'd reduced the oil substantially so this is what you can look out for.

Add water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the asafoetida and fenugreek leaves plus the fried paneer and peas and bring to a boil again.

Simmer for 10 minutes until peas are tender and the sauce is slightly reduced. Add salt to taste then remove from the heat & stir in the cream.

Serve with plain boiled basmati rice and garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Spicy Sichuan Pork Noodles

I think it is safe to say that this is not a pretty looking dish: in all honesty it looks beige and bland, and well, gloopy & bleurgh. But it tastes pretty good: of course I love pretty much all things Sichuan (well, maybe not intestines and the stranger bits of offal. I’ll give those a miss) so I would think that.

These are all things that are classed as store-cupboard to me but a trip to a Chinese supermarket (or an online shop) will sort you out. I think most larger normal supermarkets will stock most of the ingredients these days, with just the chilli bean paste possibly causing some problems. Speaking of which, what you are looking for contains broad beans: the 'beans' of the chilli 'beans'.

This is adapted from a recipe I saw on Good Food, an Australian food website.

Spicy Sichuan Pork Noodles
Serves 2

1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted & ground
½ tbsp chilli bean paste
1½ tbsp sesame paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp groundnut oil
a handful of fine green beans, trimmed & cut in half if particularly long
250g pork mince
1 tsp castor sugar
75ml water
2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
200g rice noodles, soaked in v hot water for 5-10 mins until soft & pliable

In a small bowl mix together the chilli bean and sesame pastes, Shaoxing and soy.

Heat a wok until very hot. Add the oil and swirl around and then add the ginger & garlic pastes. Cook, stirring all the time, for about 30 seconds before adding the beans.

Cook the beans until just tender then add the pork mince.

Stir constantly and once the pork has lost its pinkness add about ⅔ of the Sichuan pepper as well as the sesame/soy sauce mixture and the sugar. Mix well and add the water, stirring well to combine.

Finally stir in the spring onions and rice noodles.

Serve immediately with the remaining Sichuan pepper sprinkled over.

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