PIco de Gallo / Salsa Fresca

11 07 2011

 Quite simply Pico de Gallo is the freshest, cleanest, most delicious condiment you could wish for to accompany Mexican food or indeed anything that could do with something light and zingy alongside.

   Ingredients:

2x  Tomatoes

2x White onions

1x Red Chilli – I use Habanero or Scotch bonnet but its completely up to you and the level of heat would desire

a good handful of fresh coriander leaves

the juice of 1 lime

sea salt to season

Method:

Chop the onion and chilli into fine dice and place into a bowl.

De-seed the tomatoes and dice the flesh.

Finely chop the coriander and combine together with the onions, chilli and tomatoes. ensure that everything is well worked together and squeeze over the juice of 1 lime.

Season to taste with a little sea salt.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hoegaarden Witbier 4.9%

9 06 2011

It has been a while since my last beer review but rest assured I haven’t been resting on my laurels sipping water, far from it, in fact I have been quaffing a ridiculous number of beers covering the whole spectrum; the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

So without further ado I give you today’s offering:

Hoegaarden may not be the most adventurous or hard to find of the beers I have/will reviewed but it a far cry from most of the mass-produced tat you are likely to find being pumped out down your local and as such is well deserving of my time.

Hoegaarden is a Belgian Witbier  that has been around in one guise or another for a damn long time…it has been brewed in the village of Hoegaarden since 1445  to be precise.

The modern incarnation of this venerable beer came about in 1965 when Belgian milkman Pierre Celis recreated the traditional recipe in his hayloft following the closure of the last commercial brewery in Hoegaarden some ten years previous.

Now what a recipe it is;  water, yeast, wheat, hops, coriander and dried Curaçao orange peel.  Not quite what you get in your dull old Heineken!

Now as the sharp-eyed amongst you might have spotted from the picture this is a slightly cloudy pale beer with a good-sized white head that lasts reasonably well with plenty of lacing.

The aroma of the beer is great there are hints of citrus, freshly mown grass, a slight hint of yeastiness rather like freshly  baked bread  and a hunt of spice… a good start.

On drinking the beer there is a big burst of flavour right up front, cloves, coriander and citrus pretty much explode into your taste buds with a background fruitiness not dissimilar to banana and a slight touch of pepper.

This really is a great tasting beer and as much as there are a lot of seemingly strong flavours they are balance out well and there isn’t anything that ever threatens to overwhelm.

In short a really, really good beer.

4.5





Yeast free garlic and coriander Naan Bread

8 06 2011

 I love bread…it really is one of my biggest weaknesses as a semi- healthy human although now that I think about it drinking and smoking are probably bigger weaknesses but anyway back to the bread.

 Regular readers will possibly have spotted that as well as having a love of bread I also have a little bit of a thing for Indian food in general and curry in particular.  For me no Indian meal is truly complete without some bread to go with it; be it a chapati or a puri or naan.

 As with most things I have over the years given up completely on finding any shop bought Naan bread that tastes even remotely like food and have just started making my own, not only do these Naan taste better than the shop bought variety they are healthier as well.

If you just want to have a plain naan then you can omit the topping before you bake.

Ingredients:

250g/9oz plain flour

2 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

110-130ml/3½-4½fl oz milk

2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

For the topping

chopped garlic and fresh coriander

1 tbsp butter, melted, to serve

Method:

For the dough, sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the milk and oil.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Slowly mix together the dough by working from the centre and incorporating the flour from the edges of the ‘well’, to make a smooth, soft dough. Knead well for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea-towel and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Form the dough into five balls.

Preheat the grill to medium and place a heavy baking sheet on the upper shelf of the grill to heat.

Roll the dough balls out quite thinly, ideally in a teardrop shape, but really this is just aesthetic.

Scatter your coriander and garlic (or anything else you fancy) over the top of your naan and press into the surface of the dough.

Place the naans onto the hot baking sheet and grill for just 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush with butter and serve hot.





Prawn and coriander wanton rolls with sweet chilli sauce

29 03 2011

These prawn and coriander wanton rolls are deceptively simple to make but your guests will think you have been slaving in the kitchen for hours on end.

The trick to keeping this simple is to buy the wanton wrappers as opposed to struggling along making your own, there are very few things that really aren’t worth the effort of making myself but these pretty much top that list.

This recipe works best if you get decent sized prawns such as king prawns or tiger prawns but if you can only find the tiny ones than you can always mince them and mix the coriander into the mixture.

 

Ingredients:

1 pack of wanton wrappers

1lb king pranws/tiger prawns

Bunch of coriander

1 red bell pepper

2 eggs

Salt and pepper

Method:

Shell and clean the prawns before butterflying them down the centre, place the prawns to one side and season with a small pinch of salt and black pepper

Beat together the 2 eggs with about 1 tsp of milk to form an egg wash

Place 1 piece of prawn and 1 coriander leaf onto the center of each wanton wrapper, I like to add a slice of chilli to each wrapper as well but this is completely optional.

Brush the edges of the wanton wrapper with the egg wash and either roll up or fold into little triangles.

Fry in hot oil until the wanton wrappers are golden brown and crispy -about 2 or 3 minutes, drain on kitchen paper and serve whilst piping hot.

 

Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce:

There are plenty of good quality sweet chilli sauces that you can buy from the supermarket these days however I still prefer to make my own.

Ingredients:

4 serrano chillies, minced

4 Thai (birds eye) chillies, finely chopped

1 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Water

1/2 cup Rice vinegar

2 tablespoons Finely Minced Garlic

1/2 teaspoon Sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Salt

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce

1 tablespoon Fresh lime or lemon juice

Method:
Remove stems from peppers and prepare as specified either mincing or chopping

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the chillies, sugar, water, vinegar, garlic, paprika and salt. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and reduce the heat to low.

Simmer until the liquid reduces slightly and thickens to a light syrup. Remove from the heat and stir in the fish sauce and lime or lemon juice. If you want a thicker sauce still you can stir in a 1/2 teaspoon of flour mixed in with some water towards the end of the simmer. Cool to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cooled sauce to a tightly sealed jar and store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.





Authentic Chicken Korma

24 01 2011

 

When most of us think of a chicken korma we imagine the mildest dish on the menu and quite often a dish which is overly rich and creamy but that really doesn’t taste of very much whatsoever.

Well as with a lot of foods served up at takeaways or restaurants throughout the country this perception is a little off the mark; the word korma actually refers to the cooking process as the meat should be braised and whilst the dish is usually creamy and rich due to the yoghurt that is added there is really no basis to it being a mild curry and certainly nothing at all that should mark it out as being bland.

My chicken korma recipe gives a curry that is a little bit of a compromise, I have cut down on the cooking time in order to simplify the dish but whilst it would be recognisable to most takeaway fans in the UK and elsewhere it is anything but bland.

Ingredients:

1kg chicken breasts or thighs with the bones removed

a pinch of saffron

6 cardamom pods

2tsp cinnamon

4  cloves

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 tbsp coriander powder

1tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp asafoetida

2″ piece of ginger

4 garlic cloves

50g flaked almonds

100g natural yoghurt

2 large onions

300ml chicken stock

salt to taste

50g creamed coconut

Method

Put the  saffron in a bowl and pour over about half a pint of boiling water. Leave to soak for approximately 10 minutes or so.

Dice your chicken into good sized pieces and place into a large mixing bowl, cover the chicken with the natural yoghurt and set aside for about half an hour

Blend the ginger and garlic together in a food processor with a splash of water until it is a purée.

Heat some vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat and add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Let them sizzle for 25 – 30 seconds and add the onions. Increase the heat to medium and fry the onions until they soften, 5-7 mins

Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for a further 2 minutes.

Add the salt, turmeric, chilli powder, white pepper,chilli powder, asafoetida and ground coriander and fry gently for about a minute.

Add the chicken, creamed coconut and flaked almonds turn up the heat to a medium flame. Stir everything well so that the chicken is well coated in all of the spices etc. Pour in thechicken stock, cover the pan and simmer for around half and hour.

About 5 minutes before you have finished cooking stir in the saffron in warm water from earlier on and the garam masala, leave the lid off the pan for the remainder of the cooking time.

Garnish with some flaked almonds, chopped chillies and some coriander leaf.





Garam Masala

14 01 2011

 Most Indian recipes that you will come across will list  garam masala as being one of the key ingredients but what  is it?

 Well contrary to what some people think garam masala isn’t actually a spice in and of itself, instead it is a blend of several different spices that together make up the basis of  wide variety of dishes. Most families in India will have their own particular blend that they use and often these carry on unchanged for several generations.

It is getting easier and easier to get hold of garam masala in supermarkets and some of them are pretty good, however a lot of them are really bland and stale tasting as such I prefer to make up my own blend. Not only do I end up with a superior product but I can tweak things to my personal tastes.

The recipe I have included below is really just a stepping stone, it will give you a really good garam masala to start off with but it is your own tweaks that will make it great.

Ingredients:

2 bay leaves

2tbsp coriander seeds

1tbsp cumin seeds

Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods

2tsp black mustard seeds

2tsp fenugreek

1tsp fennel seeds

2tsp black peppercorns

1tsp cloves

1tsp ground nutmeg

3” cinnamon stick

Method:

Heat a small dry pan over a  high heat, once the pan is hot toast the spices for 2 – 3 minutes or until they are several shades darker than at the start, you may wish to cover the pan when the mustard seeds are popping and be careful not to let the spices burn.

Using a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice/coffee grinder grind the toasted spices to a powder and transfer the powder to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

If kept covered and hilled your garam masala should last for about 2 months.





Quick prawn curry

5 01 2011

 This prawn(shrimp) curry is so quick and easy that there would be literally no point in calling up the curry house for a takeaway.

 Assuming you had your rice on to boil before you started making the curry you could have a delicious easy meal on your table in far less than fifteen minutes!

 This curry would be great with a simple carrot salad and maybe some nice hot naan bread.

  

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion
1 clove of garlic
400 g peeled cooked prawns
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
400g pot natural yoghurt
1 medium red chilli
Chopped coriander to serve (optional)
 

Method:

Heat some vegetable oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic for around 5 minutes until soft and golden.

Add the tomato paste, spices and yoghurt, stir and simmer for around 5 minutes.

Add the cooked  prawns and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes

Serve the curry over boiled rice with a few coriander leaves and slices of red chilli sprinkled on top.








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