Sunday, 23 July 2017

A present for your fridge: Fragrant mango chutney

In preparation for the Indian-inspired feast I cooked when Dad came to stay (recipes here) I dragged Mr GD to the supermarket. It was unusual as he normally works on weekends, so my excuse was spending more time with him and NOT that I needed his wallet. However, as he bought it with him... well, y'know how the rest goes. 

Anyway, we're down the world foods isle to top up on a few spices, and he reaches for a jar of mango chutney off the shelf. "Ooooh, can we have this with dinner?" he asks, all excited. I looked at the price, and decided I wasn't going to pay £3.75 for a jar of substandard sweet chutney when I could make it myself. We won't talk about the price of the two mangoes I bought to make it with, but I am SURE the taste was worth it and there's still some left in the fridge because it's LUSH. So, here you go!



Fragrant mango chutney

In a pestle and mortar crush around a tsp each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, cardamon pods and nigella (black cumin) seeds. You'll probably end up with a few large bits of cardamon pod which you can pick out - I haven't found a solution to this yet. I know you can get ground cardamon but it doesn't taste the same...

In a heavy-bottomed pan fry about a 2 tbsp sized portions each of finely chopped ginger, garlic and chillies (I whizzed them up in the food processor) for around a minute. Add the ground spices, then two small mangoes chopped into 1 inch pieces. Next, stir in 150g of granulated sugar and about 75ml of white wine vinegar - it should look like you have half as much vinegar as sugar. Turn the heat right down and leave for an hour. Depending on how your mango cooks and how chunky you like your chutney you might like to mash it gently half way through. 

Cool, sniff appreciatively and dunk those poppadums. You'll have loads left for a jar in the fridge - just make sure you deliver a few offhand mentions so that others in the vicinity properly demonstrate how impressed they are with the effort you made, just so they didn't have to (maybe) endure the (possibly) flavourless shop-bought stuff... 

Homemade mango chutney and a win for the fridge, done.


When Dad came to stay: tandoori fried chicken

I love it when Dad comes to stay; it's a brilliant excuse to use every pot and pan in the kitchen and not get told off by my sister, who generally does the washing up in our house. (Also I'm going to get extra points from my writer-Mum for the correct use of a semicolon.)

Now, being coeliac and cow-dairy free  means I'm not an easy person to cook for. However, my Dad has so many dislikes and/or intolerances, it's a proper puzzle. No onions, garlic, tomato, cheese, anything with vinegar (salad dressings etc.) or 'funny' salad. I don't blame him - after all he was bought up on a diet of cremated chicken and soggy cauliflower, and illness precludes the rest. And it gives me a fun challenge in making something amazing even though between us we've rather limited our choices. (Also, people close to me have a much more limited diet forced upon them due to illness so really I'm lucky.)

Happily my Dad loves spicy food so I decided on an Indian-inspired feast and here's the result. I've used soy, goats' dairy and gluten free flour in these recipes but just replace them with 'normal' stuff if you are allowed it. 

I also made some mango chutney to go with this - recipe here :)



Tandoori fried chicken with bombay potatoes, cumin flatbread and toasted peanut raita


Tandoori fried chicken
This is kind of a take on KFC with a fragrant twist. Marinate chicken thighs and drumsticks in soy yoghurt and two tablespoons each of: reshampati (or kashmiri) chili powder, tandoori masala powder, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Cover and put in the fridge and leave for as long as you can - overnight is awesome but mine was about 4 hours and it was fine. Heat the oven to gas 5 / 190 degrees, and a deep fat fryer or oil in a deep pan to around 190 degrees. Dip each piece of chicken briefly in polenta / cornmeal so it has a light covering, and fry for 10 minutes. Pop into the oven on a tray with a grill on the top so the oil can run off, and cook for another 20-25 minutes or until cooked. 

Bombay potatoes
I'm calling these Bombay potatoes although if you're a purist Indian food expert you'll probably know this recipe was totally made up in Twickenham, England, and not Bombay, India. But they taste GOOD.

Cut some new potatoes in half and boil in water that you've added a tablespoon of turmeric to. When they're cooked, drain and fry gently in butter or oil (I used goats' butter) with a tablespoon of panch phoran. Mix in some chopped fresh coriander and you're ready to serve. 

Cumin flatbreads
In order to make good gluten free naan you need quick yeast which I didn't have in my cupboard, so these flatbreads (thank you BBC Good Food for the inspiration) were a good alternative. 

Mix 400g gluten-free self-raising flour of your choice with a tablespoon of cumin seeds, a tablespoon of ground coriander, a big pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper. Add 300ml yoghurt of choice (I used soy) and 100ml water and mix. If it feels really wet and sticky add a bit more flour. The mixture makes about 8 flatbreads so divide into 8, flatten each in your (floury) hands to half a cm thick and dry-fry for about 5 mins each side. Keep warm in the oven to serve.

Toasted peanut raita
I've always found raita a bit boring, so decided to flick through a few books for inspiration. Anjum Anand (Anjum's New Indian) puts loads of different fun stuff in her raita so I decided to experiment and it tasted AWESOME.

Mix a large pot of yoghurt (again of your choice, I used goats') with the juice of half a lime, half a cucumber chopped into little pieces, a handful of chopped mint and a handful of chopped coriander. Toast some peanuts for a few minutes with a tablespoon of onion seeds and a teaspoon of chili flakes. When they've gone golden brown (don't turn that pan up, they burn in seconds) crush / chop up with a knive. Leave to cool before adding to the raita. 

Enjoy your feast!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

'Cos I need beans and chorizo in my life: Summer fabada

It may be summer (well, as summery as it gets in England in May), but I cannot survive on a diet of salad. I just can't. And I know I'm gluten free but I swear if I see another grain of quinoa pretending to be something vaguely filling, I will throw one of those rock-hard stale packaged GF bread rolls at the chef.

So, with cooking chorizo in the fridge and dried beans from last year's harvest in the cupboard, my hungry brain (and tummy) swayed towards a fabada asturiana, or Spanish bean stew. However, it being summer, here's a much lighter and quicker version that also uses lots of vegetables so you could almost argue it's healthier than that quinoa salad...

Summer fabada

Serves 4 hungry people

1. Soak a good handful of beans per person overnight. I had three types of beans in the cupboard, but two tins of beans in water (drained) would be absolutely fine. If using dried, boil for at least 45 mins in salted water after draining the soaking liquid.

2. Roughly cut up one large onion, a red pepper and a third of a butternut squash and roast in olive oil for 30 mins at gas 6 / 200c. 

3. In the meantime, chop a selection of green vegetables - I used broccoli, baby courgettes and asparagus - into small pieces. Also chop one large or two small tomatoes into small chunks and leave to the side. You'll also be charring a baby gem lettuce so you can chop that into rough pieces too. And lastly, if you have it, finely chop a clove of fresh garlic - and if not, half a clove of 'normal' garlic.

4. Chop two or three cooking chorizo sausages into small pieces. Cooking chorizo is better for this dish because of the oil in the sausages which are only part-cured, rather than the hard eating chorizo - however, if this is what you have in the fridge, use it anyway and add a little more oil when you fry it (that's next).

5. In a hot pan fry up the chorizo for around 5 minutes to get all that lovely smoked paprika oil out of them. When you're done, lift out the meat with a slotted spoon and add to the pan in the oven which contains the onion/squash/pepper mixture.

6. Add the chopped green vegetables to the chorizo oil and fry for about 7 minutes or until cooked but still crunchy. Tip into a big bowl.

7. To the remaining oil (you might need to top it up a little with vegetable oil) add a teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground cumin, smoked sweet paprika / pimenton and if you like it spicy, hot paprika. Add the drained beans, fresh garlic and around 200ml cold water and fry until the water has evaporated. 


8. Add the tomato/es to the mixture and fry for around 3 minutes or until soft but so they haven't completely turned to mush. 

9. Take the vegetables out of the oven and leave everything to cool for 5 minutes - it'll taste better warm rather than hot. When they've cooled a bit, pour everything into the big bowl with the green veg already in and mix together. 

10. When ready to serve, char the baby gem in the same pan and pop a few leaves on top of each portion for extra crunch. Enjoy!



Friday, 14 April 2017

Keeping up with the Romanians: Pork fat potatoes, borlotti beans and greens

It's 6.30pm and the door bell goes. Usually this would be a fairly uninspiringly boring occurrence, given the prevalence of missionaries of various religions and sellers of various goods in our parts, but this time it really gave me a shock. The other half decided in his wisdom to purchase us a new door bell... and it plays 'Under the Sea' from one of those Disney films at top volume. Well, that got me up from post-work doze on the sofa and off I went to investigate who it was.

Turned out to be a friend who had just had a delivery from her mother who lives back in Romania, and who decided I would be a grateful recipient of some of the more unusual contents. 


Yup. This is: pork preserved in lard, pickled chilis, cherry jam, chutney, sausages in lard,
pickled mushrooms, tomato sauce and two bottles of something extremely alcoholically potent.


Now, this was about a week ago and I have to admit that the pickled mushrooms and chillies are still in their jars awaiting inspiration. However, I have used some of the pork in a fabulous sweet potato lasagne, but my favourite bit so far is the fat that the meat has been preserved in. It's less solid than duck or goose fat but tastes of the smoke that has been used to cook the meat and has permeated the fat as it runs off. I'm presuming the fat is then caught in a receptacle of some kind. I'm still trying to figure out how to do this on our spit in the garden without it being directly over fire and exploding, so I may have to go back and ask...


Pork fat potatoes, borlotti beans and greens

I was too excited that evening not to use something from the delivery, so I decided that the peri peri chicken already half way through grilling needed an accompaniment. I'd had the foresight (never usually happens) to soak some of our borlotti beans overnight and had boiled them up, and amazingly our chard lasted right through the winter and is still going. As it's in its second year it tastes really sweet and properly juicy. 


Steam (or parboil) some white potatoes but don't let them go too squishy. Get a roasting pan and toss them in a good tablespoon of Romanian pork fat you've suddenly found in your fridge (or I'd suggest a combination of lard / goose fat / duck fat and olive oil to get the same kind of texture) and add a chunky chopped onion and a clove of garlic to the pan. Season very generously and pop in a pinch of cumin seeds for added punch. Roast for about 45 mins on gas mark 6 / 200 degrees. 

When it's almost done, take your soft beans (at this point you could use some from a tin if you drain and rinse them) and fry them in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika for 10 minutes until they start going a bit crispy.

Steam greens of your choice and combine the whole lot. Serve with peri-peri chicken / meat of your choice, or just gobble it up on its own. 


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Tempting one's appetite: Scotch eggs with white bean and courgette salad

Two major events have happened in my kitchen over the past month. One, I've had gastroenteritis (not in the kitchen, mind), and two, we have a deep fryer. 

Now I know a deep fryer isn't particularly fashionable or healthy at the moment. But when one is limited in one's diet one really really fancies something crispy and fried... all the things one isn't able to order in a pub or restaurant. Chips, tempura, squid... and scotch eggs. 

Having managed to contract gastroenteritis, I started feeling a little better yesterday. However, not being hungry I thought perhaps if I made something I really fancied I might actually eat it. I've been tearing scotch egg recipes out of magazines ever since we got the deep fryer, so decided to give it a go.

A thank you here goes to Tesco, who although put wheat in their sausagemeat don't actually put any gluten in their normal plain sausages. Yay!

(PS: the salad and salsa were made from courgettes and tomatoes from my garden to combat the unhealthy deep frying. So there.)

Ignore the potatoes. They were for the Irish one.

Scotch eggs with white bean and courgette salad, and salsa


As with most of my recipes please assume that I'm using gluten and dairy free ingredients when I say things like sausages, bread or flour. Just substitute for the real thing if you're able to.

1. Stick a clove of garlic in the oven to roast for 30 mins or so (with some baby potatoes if you've got an Irish other half with a passion for spuds with everything.) This is for the salsa.

2. Boil the eggs to taste - I hard boiled mine but you can soft boil them and apparently they stay soft when fried. Oh, and I used duck eggs cos I like pretending to be posh. Cool them in a bowl of water.

3. Make the sausage mixture - I used a pack of six sausages for four large duck eggs so you'd probably do six chicken eggs with six sausages. Split the skins and mix in a bowl with two finely chopped spring onions and a tablespoon each of smoked paprika, ground coriander, chili flakes and allspice. Season well and squish together. I used my hands but if you want to be clean and use a food processor you'd probably get a smoother mix.

4. Make some breadcrumbs - I used three white muffins so got a very crunchy set of crumbs because of the amount of crust. Whizz in a food processor for a few minutes. 

5. Get some bowls ready - one with flour, one with two beaten eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs. 

6. My eggs were still cooling at this point so I made the salad. Drain a tin of butterbeans and mix with two grated courgettes, six finely chopped mint leaves and a handful of peashoots (watercress would also work well). Season with lots of black better and a pinch of salt. The courgette's quite wet so it doesn't need a dressing.

7. For the salsa, chop tomatoes and mix with one finely chopped bird's eye chili. Make the dressing with three parts olive oil to one part white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and a the roasted garlic squished and finely chopped. You can use raw garlic but only if you don't want to get too close to anyone in the next week.

8. Assemble the eggs. Using clingfilm on the worktop so it doesn't stick and some flour on your hands, squish a quarter (or a sixth) of the sausage mix with your hands so it's about 5mm thick. Lay the egg on top of it and mould the sausage round the egg. Repeat with the others.

9. Dip each egg in flour, beaten egg then the breadcrumbs, rolling it around and making sure you've got a nice coating. 

10. I used a deep fryer for this part but you could just heat oil in a pan like normal people... I set my oil temperature to 170c and cooked each egg for 10 minutes. They came out lovely and brown and crispy. Make sure the egg is submerged in the oil so that it goes crispy all over.

11. This is the BEST BIT. Using a nice big sharp knife, slice each scotch egg in half and feel free to make 'ooooooh' sounds. Serve! Slight warning - the salsa is fairly punchy. 


Monday, 8 September 2014

How to impress the parents: Slow-roast lamb tortillas

Well, hello old friends. This is the first post I've written for a while, but don't worry, the little giraffe has still been getting fed. I would blame my absence on my broken foot, but as I only broke it six weeks ago that would be stretching the truth a little. However, my very own personal recovery nurse (aka best mate Sarah) texted me last night to ask for this recipe, as her parents are coming to stay. She needed something that she could 'throw in the oven and leave' (her words) - but I'm rather hoping it was also because she liked it when I fed it to her back before the broken foot. 

Slow-roast lamb tortillas with roast peppers, bean chili and herby rice

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the lamb.
So here's one of the flamingo on my cast that Nurse
Sarah drew, instead...
Feeds six with a small leg of lamb. Increase amounts for more!

For the lamb leg or shoulder
Cut two large strips of foil and arrange so they make a cross shape. On top of this, place two slighter smaller strips of greaseproof paper in a cross shape. This is what you're going to wrap the lamb in so make sure the strips are big enough to fold over and seal. Pop your lamb in the middle.

Make a paste (or chop stuff really small) with 6 cloves of garlic, the juice and zest from 2 lemons, a tablespoon of preserved lemon (if you have it), 3 chilis, at least a tablespoon each of cumin seeds, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and black pepper, and a big glug of olive oil.

Make little cuts about a centimetre deep all over the lamb and massage the paste into it. Get your hands dirty! Throw on lots of fresh mint, sage and rosemary so that the meat is at least half covered with  herbs. Wrap up in the greaseproof paper and foil, and put in the fridge. The longer you marinate the lamb for, the better - but an hour at the least, overnight if you can.

When you're ready, cook the lamb in a low oven (140c or gas mark 4) for about 4 hours. For the last half an hour open up the parcel and throw a couple of peppers on top of the lamb. 

Rest the lamb for 10 minutes before pulling the meat off the bone in small chunks to serve - it should come away easily. 

Slice the peppers for serving.

For the bean chili...
Gently fry off onion, garlic and fresh chili with cumin seeds, ground coriander, allspice, paprika and cayenne pepper - or whatever you have in the cupboard. Add two tins of beans including the water (I like cannelini and borlotti for this) and a tin of tomatoes. Cook slowly for about 45 minutes or until the water has evaporated and you have a fairly dry chili-like texture. 

For the herby rice...
Cook a mug full of rice according to the packet's instructions and drain thoroughly. Gently fry some onions in butter and add the rice to it. Mix together with lots of chopped parsley and coriander and season well.

Serve with warmed tortillas for stuffing with melt-in-your-mouth lamb, roast peppers and chili beans. Serve the rice on the side with green salad dressed, and enjoy!


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Shakespeare turns in his grave: Roast pork and vegetable potage

So the little ginger one and I have just arrived back from holiday in Tenby, on the coast in Wales. When I say the little ginger one, of course I mean the giraffe - not the other half or the cat. Although they are also both ginger which makes me slightly concerned for my own sanity.

Anyhow, the trip was lovely and relaxing and all the usual nondescript holiday nonsense words one might use. It also happened to be Shakespeare's 450th birthday, so as we were in self-catering accommodation the giraffe and I decided we'd have a little celebration. Invitations stamped with the Queen's seal and accompanied by a peasant playing the lute (honest) were delivered to the other residents, namely the other half, my long-suffering parents, and Colin. Yes, Colin is Mum's giraffe, obscurely named after a seagull. Now y'see where I get it from...

I'm not going to bother writing an entire recipe for what is essentially roast pork, apple sauce and a vegetable stew renamed for the occasion (sorry Shakespeare), but I did take a pretty picture or two, and thought I'd share them. Especially as the homemade Chance cards for Monopoly, satsuma-and-bamboo-skewer jousting and make-your-own-Elizabethan-name games were, if George may admit, rather clever...

Roast pork belly with crackling, apple sauce, vegetable potage and white trencher

And no, I didn't use tomatoes or potatoes as they weren't invented yet. Well, not in Europe, anyway.

George wasn't happy about this.
You get the idea...