Kofte Kebabs

31 10 2010

 Anyone who has read my recipes before will possibly have noticed that I really do like Greek and Turkish food quit a lot, so much in fact that it is probably a very good thing that both cuisines can be some of the healthiest around.

 Kofte or Kefte or Kofta depending on where you are from are made of ground meat such as lamb that is worked with until it is almost like a paste mixed with herbs and spices and then formed into balls, cigar like sausages or worked around a stick before grilling – delicious 🙂

I happen to be particularly fond of a version that I used to have at a Turkish restaurant back home and that I finally managed to get right after many attempts. Whilst you can use most meats and even fish to make your kofte I find lamb to be the best however I do like a 50/50 mix of lamb and beef as well.

Ingredients:

500 g of ground lamb
1 handfull of parsley (stalks removed)
1 slice of white bread with the crust removed
1 medium red onion
1 garlic clove
1 egg
~12 mint leaves
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black
1/2 tsp salt

Method:

When you buy your minced lamb ask the butcher to mince it twice for you to try and get it as fine and smooth as possibly, if you don’t visit a butcher and don’t have access to a mincer at home then place the mince on a chopping board and using 2 knives try and break it down as much as possible- imagine you are playing the drums!

Very lightly toast your slice of bread and using a food processor turn it into bread crumbs, if you don’t have a food processor then it looks like you will get to work on your drum skills again.

Peel your onion and garlic and dice both as finely as you can, also at this point chop up your parsely and mint leaves finely.

Beat together your egg .

Add all of your dry ingredients to a mixing bowl which has been greased with a little bit of olive oil and give them a rough mix together. Now add in your beaten egg and really mix everything together well, you don’t want any pockets of meat that haven’t been seasoned or any big clumps of breadcrumbs.

Once your mixture is well mixed together cover the bowl with a clingfilm/a teatowel and pop in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

After taking your mix out of the fridge divide it into equal amounts and shape it as you wish; either into little meatballs, cigar like sausages, patties or shaped around a wooden skewer.

Now for the cooking, pop your koftes onto a nice hot charcoal grill / bbq or if you don’t have a grill/bbq available you can pop them into a hot frying pan.

Cook the kofte until they are done, if you split this amount of mixture into 15 small sausages you will need to give them 3/4 minutes each, different sized portions will differ accordingly.

Serve with some natural yoghurt, a nice simple salad and some flat bread.





The Marquis of Gransby, Cambridge Circus

29 10 2010

The Marquis of Granby

142 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8HJ

The Marquis of Granby is probably the pick of the pubs at Cambridge Circus, unfortunately that isn’t saying a great deal!

The pub itself is well situated and has a fairly large main bar with a smaller room upstairs that is occasionally open when the pub is busy and boy does this place get busy, particularly on match days.

The decor is a bit tired and shabby looking which is a shame considering the last refit was as recent as 2008! The posters and programs from various operas and plays over the years add a bit of interest though.

The staff are competent and the service is prompt enough, I have found the landlord to be a tad unfriendly though; one particular story that was relayed to me involved a non-regular asking for the television to be turned up so he could hear the game and the landlord turning the volume from 0-100 whilst staring the guy down the whole time.

In relation to the football the Marquis seems to focus on showing Celtic matches and appeasing the cockney red brigade, funny as I thought we were in London not Manchester!

There is usually a decent selection of beers on offer and last time I was in here I had a very good pint of Ringwood Old Thumper and a not so stellar pint of Cornish Coaster – which was no fault of the pub I just don’t find much to enjoy about it!

The prices can be a little prohibitive if you were planning on having a bit of a session, a short walk can see you paying £2.50-£3.00 a pint as opposed to the £3.50-£4.00 that you will pay in the Marquis.

I find the Marquis of Granby to be fine if I am bowling along through Soho and need to wet my whistle but for me it would be a stop along the way, not a destination.





An update on my homebrewing project

28 10 2010

 As regular readers will know my most recent homebrew was a traditional IPA, well it now a little over a month since it was bottled so I decided to give it a try and see how it is getting on.

 There is a fair amount of carbonation, certainly enough for my tastes. The beer pours to a very pleasant light amber with a decent sized head that lasts well throughout drinking with a fair bit of lacing.

 There is a decent aroma developing with hops, a slight hint of citrus and a rich maltiness being the predominant notes.

 For me the look and smell of my homebrew are important but the key is very definately how it tastes. Well I can officially say that this IPA is a winner as far as I’m concerned.

There is a good level of bitterness to the beer offset with a nice caramel like sweetness from the malt, I was really pleased as a lto of homebrews that I have sampled before have had an almost cider like quality to them coupled with a rather unpleasant sweetness.

If I compare this IPA with a commercially brewed version I would certainly take this over something like the ubiquitous Greene King offering and not only because this is tipping the scales at a little over 6% (6.2% as close as I can measure it)

I can’t wait until my next scheduled tasting at the end of November 🙂





Homemade Rogan Josh

28 10 2010

The other night was curry night at home; I knew straight off the bat that I was going to make my chana masala, onion bhajis, bombay potatoesflat breads and the lemon pickle that Jamie Oliver made recently in 30 minute meals.

What I didn’t work out quite so quickly was what I was going to make as a meat dish.

I hadn’t been going to make a meat dish and had been going to do a nice vegetable dish instead but my brothers were adamant that they needed meat.

Now my tastes run towards the far hotter and spicier end of the scale and I normally make myself a vindaloo or a phal, I knew that these wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms so decided to make my take on Rogan Josh instead.

Traditionally Rogan Josh would use lamb but it is equally good with beef or chicken as well.

Ingredients (4-6servings):

1kg of diced lamb (beef or chicken also work well)

400g tinned tomatoes/tomato concasse

3 large onions

5 cloves of garlic

3″ piece of ginger

7 green cardamom pods

1 medium-sized chilli (you can add more if you want)

a bunch of fresh coriander

3tsp dried coriander leaf

3tsp garam masala

1 1/2tsp coriander seeds

1 1/2tsp cumin seeds

1tsp paprika

1tsp turmeric

1tsp black mustard seeds

1/2tsp ground nutmeg

1/2tsp mace

1/2tsp asafoetida

 Method:

  • mix the dried coriander with the meat and a small drizzle of olive oil, set aside and leave until it is needed.
  • chop the onions into a fine dice and sweat in a saucepan for 30 mins
  • peel and chop the garlic and ginger finely, and continue to soften for a further 20 mins
  • add the cardamoms, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and cumin seeds to a dry pan and heat until the seeds start to pop, add these to the saucepan along with the paprika, turmeric, garam masala, nutmeg, mace and asafoetida making sure to stir everything together well.
  • empty the meat and coriander mixture into a pan and brown off.
  • add the meat to the main saucepan and use some stock or water to deglaze the frying pan, add the juices etc to the saucepan.
  • stir in the chopped tomatoes/tomato concasse and the chopped fresh coriander and chopped chillis. Leave to simmer for at least 90 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice and your choice of accompaniments.





Dumbest Yahoo Answers questions ever

25 10 2010

I was trawling through the internet last night and came across some particularly stupid questions from Yahoo Answers (I know there are a ton to choose from!)

 

Here are a few of my favourites





Homemade Onion Bhaji

25 10 2010

I was making  Indian food yesterday  and my brother asked me if I wanted him to pick up some onion bhajis from the takeaway in town on his way home from watching the Arsenal vs Man City game.

I said no of course as I don’t see the point in spending €6.50 for 3 super greasy over cooked bhajis when I can make dozens for far less money and with far more taste.

So here is my recipe for making delicious onion bhajis at home:

  • 100 g of gram flour (if yiou haven’t got gram flour then use plain white flour)
  • 2 large onions cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium sized red chili cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of garam masala
  • handfull finely chopped fresh corriander leaves
  •  pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 100 ml of water
  • 200 ml of rape-seed oil to fry

 

mix together the gram flour,onions, chilli,spices and seasonings

add the water to it, mixing it constantly, until you have formed a fairly thick batter

heat oil in a saucepan

using two spoons form the bhajis and place into the hot oil

ensure that there are no more than 2 bhajis in the pan at once or the temperature will drop

fry the bhajis until they are a nice golden brown colour and have a nice crisp texture

pat the fried bhajis with a kitchen towel to soak excess oil, if you aren’t eating the bhajis straight away they will keep perfectly well in a low  oven until you are ready.

These Bhajis are great by themselves but are even better with something to dip them in, personally I would make a nice raita to accompany them.





Hobgoblin – the unofficial beer of Halloween

24 10 2010

I wrote a review about Wychwood Hobgoblin a little while ago now (you can view it here if you want)

Since then I have had a few bottles of it here and there and have enjoyed it as always. The other day though I noticed something about the bottle…

There is a pumpkinesque orange label and a tagline proclaiming that Hobgoblin is the unofficial beer of Halloween.

Can’t say there is any better choice personally!

The most important change is on the little label up on the neck; Wychwood are running a Halloween competition that could net you a cool £5000!

Click here to enter and enjoy the Halloween fun.

 





The Kings Ford – Chingford E4

22 10 2010
The King’s Ford
250-252 Chingford Mount Road
Chingford
E4 8JL
Phone
020 8523 9365

The Kings Ford is part of the JD Wetherspoon chain of pubs and as always with Wetherspoon pubs you mostly know whar you are gonig to get before you even enter the door.

There is the usual cheap, cheerful and filling pub grub there are the same specials nights and same offers that you see scrawled on chalk boards the length and breadth of the country.

There is also the same bittersweet feeling that accompanies all Wetherspoon venues; I always feel a pang of dissapointment that the pub in question is part of a chain and isn’t an independant local free from the whims of big busines. However at the same time this is always offset by the fact that if Wetherspoons weren’t around there would be even fewer pubs then there now are and far fewer pubs would serve real ale

All that aside the King’s Ford isn’t a bad little pub; certainly it is one of the few options if you want to drink well kept real ales at a pub in Waltham Forest and that alone makes it worth a mention.

You certainly wouldn’t visit the King’s Ford for the decor, it is dark and dingy inside and looks like it is overdue a spot of renovation, but then I guess Wetherspoon have bigger fish to fry then the wallpaper of a pub in Chingford.

The atmosphere in the pub is nice enough during the day and in early evenings when it is mostly old men passing the day away enjoying a cheap pint or 5. Over the weekend it does get busy, the cheap price of drinks makes it a popular place for people to start the night off before heading on elswe as such there can be a distinct lack of seating from about 8.30 onwards.

Service is normally good and the pub seems really well run, the current management are strict on checking ID which seems to deter a lot of the underage kids that often make a Wetherspoon pub their home from home.

There are usually at least 5 ales on tap and the selection is good, even by Wetherspoon standards. Last time I was in the King’s Ford they had Abbot Ale, Greene King IPA, Rudgate Ruby Mild and two beers from the Brentwood Brewery – Chockwork Orange and Hope & Glory.

I can really recommend the Chockwork Orange, it is a beautifully complex dark ale coming in at a pleasant 6.5%.

As well as the real ales on tap they also had a cider that managed to fall outside of the usual strongbow or magners selection  in this case it was Weston’s Marcle Hill.

If you are looking for a traditional English pub full of character then the King’s Ford probably isn’t the pub for you, but if you are looking for a good selection of real ales at a great price and happen to be in the area then give it a go.





A quick word about beeswax

21 10 2010

I have received a couple of emails recently from people asking where to get beeswax pearls.

Beeswax is an important ingredient in my homemade tiger balm recipe amongst others and the pearls are a convenient way of both obtaining and using it.

You can buy the pearls from most craft shops and a lot of health food stores as well. If you can’t find the pearls or just don’t want to buy them (they can prove to be expensive in some places) then hope isn’t lost.

You can just as easily chop a candle into pieces,making sure it is actually a beeswax candle as most are paraffin now or even better get to know a local beekeeper.

Anyone that is keeping bees should have some beeswax, even if it is just in small quantities and a lot of people just see it as being a by-product of getting their hands on some delicious honey.

Hope this helps anyone that has been struggling to find the pearls or is put off by the cost.





Sloe Gin

21 10 2010

I love sloe gin.

That isn’t really a trendy statement for a 20 something man to say but I say two fingers to what is and isn’t trendy, sloe gin is great.

To me it looks and tastes like Christmas in a bottle, not that it can’t be enjoyed at other times of the year as well.

For those who don’t know the sloe is the fruit of the Blackthorn, a lovely spikey hedgerow tree that grows like a weed. Sloes are roughly marble sized bluey/purple berries that are at their very best in October/November ideally just after the first frost.

Seeing as Blackthorn is so prolific in hedgerows throughout the UK and Ireland you can very easily bag yourself several pounds of delicious, sweet and most importantly free berries whilst still leaving ample for birds and fellow humans.

To give an example at the beginning of October 2009 we picked 8 3/4 lb of sloes from the hedges and bushes at the side of the River Lea between Springfield Marina and Stonebridge Lock.

As well as being one of my favourite tipples; Sloe gin also makes a great Christmas present, especially in the present economic climate.

Here is how to make your own Sloe Gin:

Buy several litres of cheap gin, we are talking the sort of stuff that they sell as own brand in Tesco or Asda.

You could waste your money buying the very best gin possible but the sloes will be completely changing the flavour of it and you really don’t need to

You will also need to get your hands on some extra 1 litre spirits bottles or ideally a nice glass demijohn.

First things first wash your sloes and get rid of any stray leaves and twigs that might be caught up with them, not to mention any unwanted visitors such as bugs or flies.

In order to get the best results out of your sloes you need to release the juices that are locked inside them. You can do this a number of ways, you can prick them with a pin/fork, gently squish them between your fingers or pop them in the freezer until they split.

Once you have prepared your sloes you are ready to begin, empty the gin from one bottle to the other/the demijohn so that each bottle is only half full.

Fill each bottle with sloes until the gin has been displaced enough that it is nearly at the top of the bottle.

Using a funnel add approx 150g of white sugar to each bottle.

*If you are using a demijohn then adjust the amount of sugar accordingly, for example if there are 2 litres of gin in the demijohn you will need 4 times the amount of sugar(600g)*

Once all of the bottles are filled and ready pop the caps on them and tip them upside down, be very careful if you are trying to do this with a demijohn.

Each bottle will need to be upended in this fashion once a day for the first week, after this point you will need to upend each bottle once a week for the next two months.

After two months your sloe gin will be ready to drink, I would advise though that you leave your sloe gin for longer. The gin that I will be drinking this year was made last year, the difference that the extra ten months or so makes is very noticeable.








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