Thursday, 5 March 2015

Chicken, stilton and leek pie

This was more of an exercise in clearing the fridge than an actual recipe, but it was delicious so I'm keeping it.

It's British Pie Week, so social media has been full of luscious-looking pie recipes, but I wanted something a little bit lighter. No creamy sauce, no stodgy gravy, just a lot of flavour. And a high filling-to-pastry ratio.

I browned some skinless chicken thigh fillets in a little olive oil and butter with a couple of branches of fresh thyme. And I mean browned, not just until they went white - they had a proper golden tan. Then I added a couple of leeks, washed and cut into chunks, and cooked them until they were soft. I added 2tbs of gin and 1tsp of grainy mustard (it's a home made one and is very yellow from turmeric) and let it cool.

Then I took a sheet of shortcrust pastry (bought, but a good all-butter one) and lined a small loaf tin with it, letting the excess hang over the edge. I packed in the chicken filling and topped it with 50g stilton cheese, then tucked the pastry in all around to seal. A bit of egg wash and a nice long stint in a 180C oven and there it was - a tasty pie for two. Warm bean and tomato salad with lots of lovely garlic was all it needed on the side.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Caramel blood oranges with sour cream rice pudding.

The blood orange season is quite brief, so I pounced on them as soon as I saw them. Then had the pleasurable dilemma of what to make with them: blood orange curd? Marmalade? Ice cream? But I'd also been craving rice pudding, so when I saw Diana Henry's recipe for caramel blood oranges with sour cream rice pudding, my path was clear.

There's always a little anxiety surrounding cutting into a blood orange - sometimes they have hardly any red to them at all. These were pleasantly bloody though.

In a word, the whole dish was divine. The sour cream provides a tangy foil to the rich caramel and sweet citrus. Definitely one to make again, even with other citrus when the blood orange season ends.

I am sharing this with I Heart Cooking Clubs for their February potluck.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

I diddly-idli DID make idli

I've mentioned before the thing about Paul being a contractor and settling in by talking about food. Well, it's gone beyond him just coming home and asking me to make things. Last week, he came home and announced that he had bought me an idli steamer.

I was a bit horrified, because the whole fermenting-and-grinding process of making idli has always sounded way too complex. But he bought me a box of instant idli mix, as recommended by his co-workers, and then made sad labrador eyes at me until I tried it out.

Making the idli itself was a doddle. Literally just add water and a dash of oil and stir, then pour it into the steamer. And I got to use the idli scoop that one of my aunts gave me years ago, which has been tucked away in a drawer waiting for the right occasion.

To go with the idli, I made a sort of Punjabi lamb & spinach number, and a Sri Lankan mango and coconut curry. Both delicious, if not at all authentic.
Unfortunately, when Paul showed his colleagues these pictures, they weren't impressed because they didn't actually believe that I'd made them. *sigh* oh well. I honestly did!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Year of the Sheep


The majority of symbols in the Chinese zodiac aren't particularly appetising. While I don't mind a bit of pig or rooster; snake, dragon and tiger meat is not my cup of tea. I don't know if dire misfortune is supposed to befall you if you eat the year's symbol, but welcoming the lunar new year with lamb seemed like a good idea.

The two best Chinese lamb dishes I have had are a crisp one, served like Peking duck, with pancakes, and one densely crusted in cumin. I decided to make a sort of hybrid - first braising breast of lamb slowly in master stock until tender, then coating it in a mixture of sesame seeds, cumin seeds and chilli powder before finishing it in a hot oven to crisp. I also made a dipping sauce of grated ginger, chilli, garlic, soy sauce and rice vinegar. It wasn't quite as cumin-y or as crisp as I had intended, but it was extremely delicious.

We had it with edamame flavoured with five spice and szechuan pepper.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Italian bread and mushroom salad with pecorino for IHCC

This week I Heart Cooking Clubs is exploring Diana Henry's range of dishes featuring curds - yoghurt, labneh and other cheeses. Now, Diana has loads of appetising yoghurt and labneh recipes, but I had a piece of particularly nice aged pecorino cheese, so I wanted to feature that.

Paul commented that this mushroom salad tasted very old-fashioned - and it does, in a good way. Very simple lemon and olive oil dressing, with chunks of toasted bread and beautifully fresh mushrooms, given a salty, creamy lift with the pecorino. We had it as a side dish with steaks, but it would be just as good with roast chicken.


Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mystery Box Madness Chermoula Aubergine with bulgar & yoghurt


This month's Mystery Box Madness, at I Heart Cooking Clubs, invites participants to make a recipe from one of the featured chefs using any three of: Cabbage, Mustard, Yogurt, Freekah or Bulgur Wheat, Za'atar, Tomatoes, Sausage (any kind), Carrots, Basil (fresh, dry, any kind), Almonds. 

Now, to me, that list just screams Yotam Ottolenghi. Ottolenghi's chermoula aubergine with bulgar and yoghurt, to be precise. It uses yoghurt, bulgar and almonds.

It's completely delicious. I made some little merguez sausage patties, and heated up a garlic flatbread to have with it. Definitely to be recommended.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Burmese Fish with Hot & Sour Salad: East Meets West

This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "East Meets West" - Diana Henry's dishes with an Asian influence. What could be more of a fusion than an Australian woman in England cooking an Irish woman's version of a Canadian woman's interpretation of a Burmese dish?

Anyway, Diana's adaptation of Naomi Duguid's Burmese fish with hot and sour salad may have passed through many pairs of hands before it ended up on my plate, but it is incredibly delicious. I reduced the amount of turmeric just a little because we have a fresh bag and it is very aromatic. And Paul said he was particularly hungry, so I added some ready-to-cook udon noodles to the fish pan. I think cooking some rice would have been a better idea!

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