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.

Advertisements




Real men DO eat quiche

27 12 2010

 

 Real men don’t eat quiche….

 I must have heard that line about a thousand times at this point, somehow there is this strange view that quiche is some sort of effeminate food that no proper man would touch for fear of developing breasts on the spot.

Well I happen to think that any man who is worried that his choice of food makes him look “faggy” has some issues that only a few sessions with a psychiatrist will be able to sort out.

Quiche is great!

You only have to take a cursory look at the basic components of a quiche to work out that this is food that is packing some serious flavours yet can still be light and delicate.

Quiche is also incredibly versatile; you can add pretty much anything you like into them and a quiche can be a great quick meal to knock up out of store cupboard staples or leftovers.

The simplest quiche to make is the ever popular quiche lorraine, which incidentally should NOT include onions. However I have decided to go for something a little more fancy and have included my recipe for one of my all time favourites: Chorizo and red pepper quiche.

Ingredients:

250g of good quality chorizo sausage

2 red bell peppers

1 clove of garlic

5 eggs

1 medium red onion

250ml double cream

250ml milk

125g gruyerre – you can use manchego if you want an authentic spanish cheese

3/4 tsp paprika

sea salt

black pepper

shortcrust pastry – shop bought pastry is fine but it is even better if you make your own.

Method:

Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic and set aside for later

Roll out your pastry to the correct size for the pie dish you are using and line the dish making sure it is well pressed into all of the nooks and crannies. Place the pastry lined dish in the fridge so the pastry can chill.

Stir together the milk and double cream before mixing in the eggs.

Grate the cheese and stir into the cream, milk and egg mixture until it is well incorporated, season with the paprika, salt and pepper.

Soften the diced onion and garlic over a low heat and place to one side to cool

Dice the chorizo and colour in a pan until it is lightly browned

Deseed the red peppers and slice into strips before mixing in with the chorizo, onion and garlic.

Take the pie dish out of the fridge and spoon in the mixture of chorizo, peppers, onion and garlic ensuring that it is well spread out and that all of the base of the pastry is covered.

Pour over the egg, cream and cheese mix and fill to the top of the pastry.

Bake in a 180 c oven for between 45 minutes and 1 hour or until the eggs have set and the top is golden brown.





Make your own Mulled Wine

15 12 2010

What is more festive than a warming glass of hot mulled wine?  With its heady mix of fruit and spices it is quite literally Christmas in a glass.

I know that a lot of people buy those prepared bags of spice mix that you can get in the supermarket and they are all very well and good but once you have made your own mulled wine from scratch you will never even think of going back to the pre-made sachets or bags.

Ingredients:

75 cl bottle cabernet sauvignon red wine

75 cl bottle of port

25 cl apple cider

1 orange

12 cloves

2 clementines

3 lemons

6 tbsp honey

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp ground ginger

3 fresh bay leaves

1 vanilla pod

2 star anise

1 whole nutmeg

2 measures of brandy/cognac – optional

Method:

This really couldn’t be any easier to make;

Take the orange and stud it with the cloves and chop the clementines and two of the lemons into slices, this can be done in advance

Add the port and the wine to a large saucepan and pour in the honey, cider and brandy, if you are using it, along with 2 pints of water. Give everything a good stir and pop the saucepan over a low heat to simmer.

Zest the remaining lemon and squeeze in half of the juice

Grate approx 1/3 of the nutmeg into the pan

Split the vanilla pod in two and  add to the pan along with the sliced fruit and the rest of the dry ingredients.

Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the mulled wine boil or you will cook off all of the alcohol.

Serve warm in 1/2 pint mugs





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.





Best Steak and Mushroom Pie

7 11 2010

It has come to my attention recently that pies are now trendy… don’t really know what to say about that as where I come from they have never really gone out of fashion but that is by the by.

The weather is drawing in and it is the time of year for something warming and that is exactly what this steak and mushroom pie is.

To make a pie that will feed 4-6 people you will need the following:

500g diced steak (round steak works well)

500g mushrooms (any old mushrooms will do)

2 large white onions

2 carrots

2 tomatoes

a good handful of parsley

1 clove of garlic

1 pint stout or porter

1/2 pint beef stock

500g shortcrust pastry

salt and pepper

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp tabasco sauce

flour

make sure that the steak is diced into smallish cubes, if any seem too large then cut them until they seem about right, pop the cubes of steak into a bowl of seasoned flour and ensure that all of the chunks are well coated.

Heat some butter or lard in a large pan until it is just about smoking, now add the cubes of steak in batches until all of the meat is browned off.

Place the steak to one side until later, now add the diced carrots and onions to the same pan and cook until they are starting to soften.

Once the carrots and onions have softened add the diced tomatoes, chopped mushrooms and the chopped parsely to the pan along with the remainder of the flour from the bowl and all of the wet ingredients, stir together well and return the steak to the pan.

Cover the pan and leave to cook over a low heat for at least 1 1/2 hours.

Ensuring that your pastry is nice and chilled roll out enough to make the base of your pie and line your pie dish/an enamel plate with it. You will want to leave soem over hang so that you can make a good seal with the lid later on.

Place your pie dish/enamel plate into the fridge to keep the pastry cool and to prevent shrinking until you need it.

Once the filling has been cooking for 1 1/2 hours take it off of the heat and leave to one side for it to cool as you do not want to be putting the filling onto the pastry whilst it is still hot.

Brush the inside of the pie crust with beaten egg to stop it from going too soggy, now add your cooled pie filling into the pastry and make sure it is well spread and evenly filled, there is nothing worse then a big gap in your pie.

Brush some beaten egg around the top lip of the pie crust so as to form a seal and place the lid of your pie on top.

Make sure that you cut a hole for the steam to escape from during cooking, now brush the remainder of the beaten egg over the top of the pastry to give it a lovely golden colour.

Cook the pie for approximately 30 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to around 180 degrees. Once the pastry is golden brown on top the pie is ready.








%d bloggers like this: