Lychee Martinis

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Not had a drink on here yet.

This is a very tasty cocktail which is also seriously dangerous as you kind of forget it’s alcoholic. Too many and the use of legs is inhibited I have been informed.

You can find canned lychees at Asian supermarkets. As for the vodka, if push comes to shove, and you can’t find lychee infused then just use regular.

Thanks to Robyn for this one.

INGREDIENTS:
45ml Lychee Infused Vodka (try and find it!)
30ml lychee syrup from a can of lychees
15ml Cointreau
Squeeze of lime

DIRECTIONS:
Pour all the ingredients into a tall glass and mix well. Add lots of ice. Serve with lychees on the side to nibble on as you drink.

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Thai Red Curry Paste

This will make a few portions. It’ll give about 10-12 tablespoons of paste. It’s the basis of a lot of Thai dishes.

RED CURRY PASTE: (makes about 15 tablespoons)
5 dried red chillies (soaked for 15 minutes, drained and chopped)
10g shallots (finely chopped)
20g garlic (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh galangal (finely chopped)
2 lemon grass (white parts finely chopped)
1 tablespoon lime peel (chopped)
1/2 tablespoon coriander roots and stalks (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon shrimp paste

DIRECTIONS:
In a pestle & mortar or with a hand blender or in a food processor. Mash into a smooth paste the red chillies, shallots, garlic, galangal, lemon grass, lime peel and coriander roots. Then stir in the ground coriander, cumin, pepper and shrimp paste.

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Lamb Rendang

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This is supposed to be made with beef, but I didn’t have anything other than lamb in the fridge. Well, there was some chicken, but it was beyond scabby so I opted to chuck it away and use the lamb instead.

This is a Indonesian classic and is really flavoursome and great if, like me you have a cold and need some spice to sweat it out of you. There are a lot of ingredients I admit, but you’ll want to make this again, so at least you’ll have them all to hand.

INGREDIENTS:
2 onions (chopped)
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced galangal (use another teaspoon of ginger if you don’t have it)
5 red chillies (de seeded and chopped)
1 lemongrass stalk (lower part only, thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable)

1kg lamb cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon corriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 lime leaves (chopped) or zest of 1 lime
2 400ml cans of coconut milk
300ml water
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
4 medium potatoes (peeled and diced into 3cm dices)
1/2 lemon (juice of)
salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:
In a food processor, blend onions, garlic, ginger, galangal, chillies, lemon grass and turmeric into a smooth paste.

Place the meat in a separate bowl and sprinkle over the cumin, corriander and some salt & pepper – set aside.
In a large pan, heat the oil then fry the onion paste for 4-5 minutes until it changed colour. Add the lime leaves or zest, then the meat then the sugar. Fry for a further 1-2 minutes. Now add the coconut milk, the soy sauce and the water. Bring this liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently with the lid off for 1 1/2 hours. The liquid should have reduced considerably. Add the potatoes and cook for another 25 minutes until they are tender. Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lemon at the end and stir in.

SERVING:
Plain basmati rice.

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Indian Lamb Kofta in Spicy Yoghurt Sauce

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I love lamb, and I love a curry. I was struggling to find something interesting to do with some lamb mince in the fridge all week… so much so that it had started to turn a funny colour. So before it went totally stinking I made this. It was very very tasty. And I didn’t get food poisoning. Always a bonus.

INGREDIENTS:

For the Kofta
500g lamb mince
1 onion (finely grated)
1 egg
2 green chillies (de seeded and finely chopped)
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons minced ginger
4 teaspoons minced garlic

For the sauce

1 onion (finely diced)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cardomom pods
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons corriander powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 200g can of chopped tomatoes
salt & pepper
2/3 cup natural yoghurt
1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS:
To make the kofta, squeeze out as much liquid from the grated onion as you can. Then blend the onion, mince, chillies, egg, ginger, garlic and salt & pepper with your hands until very well combined. Divide and roll out the little kofta in your hands. It should make in the region 20-30 balls. Arrange them on a plate and leave them in the fridge for about an hour.

To Make the sauce. In a deep frying pan fry the onions in the oil together with the cinnamon, cardomom and cloves for 4-5 minutes until the onion is golden. Now add the cumin, corriander, cayenne pepper, paprika and turmeric and stir for 30 seconds until aromatic. Now pour over the tomatoes and stir in. When the liquid starts to bubble, turn off the heat and stir in the yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Return the pan to the heat and add the water. Let the liquid come up to the boil then reduce the heat to very low. Gently place the kofta into the sauce one by one. Give the pan a firm shake to submerge the kofta or gently press them into the liquid. Leave the sauce to gently simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Once in a while, stir the sauce being careful not to break any of the kofta. The sauce should be quite thick and cling to the kofta.

SERVING:
Naan bread or plain boiled rice.

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Pesto

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There are a million things you can do with pesto. But I urge you not to buy shop bought cack when you can make it at home and have it taste so much better.

Smug level (9)

INGREDIENTS:
75g basil leaves (large bunch)
3-4 tablespoons parmesan or pecorino cheese
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
100ml extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:
In a food processor or with a hand blender, blend the basil, cheese, garlic & pine nuts into a thick paste. Gradually add all the olive oil. Season with salt & pepper and you’re ready to go.

SERVING:
as part of a pasta sauce, as a salad dressing or over potatoes, beans etc. Experiment.

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Lamb Tagine with Preserved Lemons & Cumin

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This is glorious. It takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R to cook, but if you have a spare day then it’s fine. If you’re feeling particularly reckless, then you can stick it on in the morning and it’ll be ready when you get back from the shops. If your house burns down while you’re out, that’s your lookout I’m afraid.

If you can’t find preserved lemons then:
a) look harder.
b) you can use the grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons and the rind of 1/2
c) you can preserve your own lemons if you are able to wait for 2 months.

Now, you can cook this in a normal casserole dish which has a lid, but if you’re recently married and received 12 tagines as gifts then feel free to use one of those instead.

INGREDIENTS:
1.5kg lamb shanks, or chunk steaks on the bone. (Trim off as much fat as possible)
2 medium onions (sliced)
2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon skin
1 tablespoon roughly ground cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
4 tablespoons fresh corriander (finely chopped)
40g butter (unsalted)
Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 140ºC.
In a food processor, blend the onions, lemons, garlic, cumin and corriander into a paste. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof pan which has a tight fitting lid. Add the paste, then 300ml water and then the lamb. Make sure everything is coated with the paste and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Put on the lid and cook in the oven for 5-6 hours.
Check the lamb every hour or so as it may not take as long to cook depending on how large the chunks were. If there’s a lot of fat on the surface scoop it out with a spoon. The lamb is ready when it just gives up and falls off the bone without any effort on your part. Check for salt & pepper at the end.

If you want some vegetables in this then 5-10 minutes before the end of cooking you can add some frozen peas or some diced carrots or BOTH.

SERVING:
Cous Cous or salad & bread.

TIP: Made 1 day in advance this tastes even better.

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Meatballs

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These are pretty simple and go down well any night of the week.

For the meatballs

INGREDIENTS:
500g pork & veal mince (you can use beef too)
1 small onion (finely grated)
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Combine all the ingredients and leave in fridge for 1 hour then mould into 1 tablespoon size balls.

For the sauce

INGREDIENTS:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes (blended into paste)
1 cup water
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1/4 cup red wine or sherry
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
1 tablespoon of blended roasted red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped)
1 teaspoon powdered oregano
salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Fry the onions in the oil for about 6 minutes until golden. Add the garlic and then the parsley, both types of oregano and fry for 1 minute. Add the red wine or sherry and burn off alcohol. Add the tomato paste and then the water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and stir in the tomato puree. Add the chilli powder and salt & pepper to your taste. Let the liquid simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, drizzle in a little oil and fry the meatballs in batches until they are nicely browned. Pop them into the tomato sauce and gently stir them until well covered. Let them simmer for 15 minutes in the sauce.

SERVING:
With pasta and parmesan. I prefer penne.

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Pork & Chorizo in Milk & Fennel

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This was a made up one as I didn’t have much in the house, but it takes some inspiration from a moorish recipe. It was very very tasty. Good for me.

INGREDIENTS:
700g-1kg Pork loin (cut into large chunks)
1 medium red onion (finely diced)
1 chorizo sausage (diced)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
500ml full-fat milk
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:
In a mortar, very roughly grind the fennel & cumin seeds and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large lidded pan and gently fry the onions for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the chorizo and stir for a further 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the fennel, cumin and bay leaves and stir for 30 seconds until aromatic. Turn up the heat and add the pork. Stir for about 1-2 minutes until slightly browned.
Pour in the milk, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and very gently cook for 1 hour or until the pork softens. Take off the lid for the final 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.
NB. Don’t freak out when the milk separates during cooking. It’s perfectly normal. It may not look the prettiest but there’s nothing you can do to avoid it and it doesn’t effect the flavour at all.

SERVING:
Serve with mashed potato, rice or pasta. It’s THAT versatile.

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Broccoli & Gorgonzola Croquettas

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Very understated, but totally delicious.

INGREDIENTS:
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
90g unsalted butter
220g brocolli
65g mild gorgonzola
125g plain flour
250ml milk
1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley (finely chopped)
1/2 tablespoon fresh mint (finely chopped)
salt & pepper

2 eggs
3 tablespoons plain flour
1-2 cups breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS:
Separate the brocolli into florets (leaving the stems) and steam for 6-7 minutes until they begin to soften. Refresh them in cold water to stop them cooking any further. Finely chop the broccoli and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large deep frying pan and fry the onion for 5-6 minutes until golden brown.
Add the brocolli, parsley and mint and continue frying over a medium heat for a further 3-4 minutes. Add salt & pepper then the gorgonzola and stir until melted. Turn off the heat. Add the flour and quickly stir in and create a crumbly texture. Make sure all the flour is well combined.
Pour in some of the milk and stir continuously gradually add the rest. You should have a thick glutinous sticky dough. Let this cool a little, then place it in a covered bowl in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or an hour in the freezer if you’re starving and can’t wait that long)
After chilling, mould the dough into 12 round, fat croquettes.
Arrange three bowls, one with plain flour, another with 2 well beaten eggs and the third with breadcrumbs
Roll each croquette in flour, then egg and then finally in breadcrumbs. Arrange on a plate and then return to the fridge for 1/2 hour. You should do this as the breadcrumbs are more likely to fall off if you don’t.
After your short wait, heat a medium pan with about 3cm of vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. Place 4 or 5 croquettes into the oil and cook (keep them moving to avoid sticking or uneven cooking). Cook for about 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat for the remaining croquettes.

SERVING:
Serve with mayonnaise and bit of salad or as part of a more spectacular tapas arrangement.

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Pozole – Mexican Pork & Hominy Stew

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If it’s raining and miserable outside and you’re stuck in the house, then you might want to give this a try. It’s a meal you have to wait for, but that wait is well worth it. This Mexican classic is absolutely mouthwateringly delicious and a real hearty meal in itself. Hominy, the key ingredient are corn kernels which have been cooked in lime (not the fruit). This removes their chewy husks and leaves only the flesh which swells up to large bean like appearance. They have a distinctive flavour which is not unlike that of a corn tortilla, not surprising as corn tortillas are made from ground hominy. They are the key to the meal so don’t leave them out or indeed substitute. It won’t work.

Try my chicken version of Pozole HERE

RECIPE:

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