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.

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ABC Sambal Extra Pedas

1 02 2011

A friend from work came back from Holland this week and knowing that I am a sucker for all things hot and spicy grabbed a bottle of hot sauce for me on her way back.

The sauce in question is from ABC, an Indonesian company who manufacture a range of different sauces;  this particular offering is their Sambal Extra Pedas which simply means extra hot.

Sambal being a Southern Asian sauce is often lumped in alongside Thai sauces such as Sriracha, now I cannot stand Sriracha and not just because of all the hype surrounding it at the moment, there is just a flavour to most store bought varieties that doesn’t appeal to me. Luckily for me though I have always quite enjoyed Sambal and I am keen to see how this particular brand measures up.

Ingredients: chile, sugar, water, salt, garlic, starch, acetic acid, sodium benzoate

Smell:

Upon opening the bottle I was hit straight away with a good big hit of chillies and garlic with just the slightest hint of sugary sweetness and vinegar coming through in the background.

Appearance:

This sambal looks an awful look like an orange slightly translucent tomato ketchup, it is completely smooth with not the slightest shred of seed or skin and has a medium viscosity that means you might have to give the bottle a bit of a whack to get things moving initially.

Taste:

I had a sneaking suspicion that I might like this sauce; it looked good it smelt good and I am known to enjoy sambal, even so I was really really pleasantly surprised by just how good this sauce was.

The main flavours that come through straight away are the chillies and the garlic, the vinegar is there but you really have to be looking for it to find it and the sweetness seems just right. There is enough to offset the chillies and the garlic but not so much that it seems overly sweet or cloying.

Since opening the bottle I have tried this sauce on a whole bunch of different foods; sausages, prawns, cod, egg fried rice, wanton rolls…. the list is really quite exhaustive.

The foods have all been really quite different but one thing has been static across the board – the sambal has worked well with pretty much all of them!

Obviously it has faired best with the more Asian items like the fried rice and the wanton rolls but that delicious mix of chillies, garlic and sweetness also worked brillantly with the seafood. The prawns were lifted to another dimension and it really worked well with the big meaty cod steaks.

Heat:

There is a decent bit of heat to this sauce, whilst it wont be breaking any records it is certainly hotter than a lot of other “sweet chilli sauces” that you would typically find in a supermarket which often are just sickly sweet concoctions with just enough chilli for you to notice it.

The burn, such as it is, stays very forward in your mouth and builds nicely whilst never really threatening to overwhelm.  If you think that tap water has a kick to it then I would steer clear but otherwise you shouldn’t be in for any shocks.

Heat 2/5

Overall 3.5/5





Pigs in blankets

26 11 2010

Pigs in blankets are  great, they make a perfect accompaniment to your turkey on Christmas day, they are great as a starter and make an excellent festive finger food.

I understand that in North America pigs in blankets are little Vienna sausages in pastry not dissimilar to a sausage roll, well these aren’t them.

In the UK pigs in blankets are a chipolata sausage wrapped in a piece of bacon and roasted in the oven and typically most people would have them only at Christmas time.

The trick to serving great pigs in blankets is to make sure you use the best meat that you can afford, there is nothing worse than pigs in blankets made from the cheapest nastiest frozen sausages wrapped in watery bacon full of preservatives.

In recent years I have started using olive oil infused with sage, rosemary and garlic when I cook my pigs in a blanket, all three flavours go great with pork and just really help to lift it to another level.

To make 24 pigs in blankets you will need:

24 good quality pork chipolatas

24 rashers of good quality bacon, I prefer to use maple smoked bacon but it is up to you.

500ml of extra virgin olive oil

24 rosemary stalks with leaves till attached (optional)

12 sage leaves

2 garlic cloves

a handful of rosemary leaves

Method

The first thing you need to do is infuse your olive oil with the rosemary, sage and garlic flavours, I tend to do this well in advance so that you really get the flavour of the herbs coming through in the oil, ideally 2 weeks to 3 weeks minimum.

Bruise the herbs so as to help release their essential oils and drop them into your bottle of olive oil along with the garlic which should be roughly crushed.

I tend to remove approximately half of the oil from the bottle before doing this both to allow for displacement and also so as to have oil to hand to help dislodge any stray herbs that get stuck to the neck of the bottle.

Refill to the top with oil and place in a cool dark place for as long as possible.

Wrap each chipolata in a rasher of bacon, you might want to flatten the bacon out with the flat of a knife

when each pig is safely in it’s blanket I like to secure them, you can use a couple of cocktail sticks but  I like to be a bit fancy and use a woddy stalk from some rosemary sharpened into a skewer.

Lay your pigs in blankets into an oven proof dish and drizzle with the infused oil, if you have any sage leave left over I like to scatter these over before popping the dish into a preheated oven at 185 c for about 35 minutes.





Best roast potatoes in the world

9 11 2010

Being British I have eaten my fair share of roast potatoes, quite often as an accompaniment to roast beef but just as often alongside other less traditional dishes or just by themselves.

Some roast potatoes are good, some are ok and some are a downright insult. These roast potatoes are great.

Personally I love the mix of the regular potatoes with their new world sweet potato counterparts but you can exclude these if you want to keep things old school, if you don’t use the sweet potatoes then replace them with more white potatoes.

You will need:

2lb of white potatoes

1lb of sweet potatoes

2 large red onions

3 cloves of garlic

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

fresh thyme

fresh rosemary

a handful of  sage leaves

sea salt

black pepper

 

Pre-heat an oven to 200 degrees C

Peel your regular potatoes and cut them into pieces of uniform size,  boil these for approx 6-7 minutes until they are part cooked.

At this point place the potatoes into a colander and give them a shake so that the edges get chuffed up. Pat dry the potatoes using some kitchen paper so they are as dry as you can get them.

place your potatoes into a large roasting tray and pour over a good amount of the extra virgin olive oil about 3/4 table spoons. Roll the potatoes around so that they are all evenly coated in the olive oil, season the potatoes with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

At this point pop the tray into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, at this point they should be lightly golden brown .

Whilst the potatoes are in the oven by themselves you can prepare everything else; peel the onions and chop them into at least quarters, peel the garlic cloves and roughly smash them so that all of the flavour is released, clean your sweet potatoes and chop them into small chunks with the skin left on, remove any woody stalks from your rosemary and thyme.

Take a bowl and mix the herbs together with a good glug of olive oil and about 2  tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

Take your tray of potatoes and add in the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic making sure that everything is well distributed.

Now pour over the mix of herbs, oil and vinegar again making sure that everything is well coated and well distributed.

Turn the oven down to approx 180 degrees C and cook for a further 45/50 minutes until everything is crispy and bubbling.

Transfer to a dish and either serve immediately or cover with a lid and serve within 15/20 minutes at the most.





mmmm meat candy not

17 05 2010

A co-worker of mine has been away in China for the past couple of weeks and came back to work yesterday.

We always bring back some sort of food stuff from trips and it has recently become an unofficial contest to see who can bring in the strangest thing.

I think we might have a winner or at least an incredibly strong front runner.

Chinese meat candies.

I like meat, I like candy and I like Chinese food so how bad can they be.

Well I will tell you exactly how bad they can be, it was a little bit like eating a sweaty sock full of garlic and chopped meat that had been crushed up into a tiny shite coloured cube mmmm delicious.

There was a spicy beef flavoured cube, a ginger pork flavoured cube and one which I actually believe to have been a lump of shrimp paste dusted in sugar and wrapped in fancy paper.

The pork and the beef were bad enough but the shrimp one was truly fishalicious, I was tasting that bad mother funker for about 3 hours afterwards.

If you ever find yourself with a pressing need to vomit you could do far worse then pop a few of these cubes of gastro-intestinal death.








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