Tuesday, May 27, 2008

QUICK CHICKEN CURRY



"A chef called Ben, who used to work with Nick Nairn's good friend Phil Vickery, created this fab curry". The original recipe is apparently from Phil Vickery's book, Simply Food, and Nick Nairn tells us that he makes this recipe "when I'm in the mood for a quick curry fix".

I love home cooked curry and this recipe is full of amazing flavours without being too hot.

Instead of the canned coconut milk, I use powdered coconut milk by Maggi, and all you do is measure an amount out according to the packet instructions, then add warm water and stir to give coconut milk. I buy mine from the Asian stall in my local market unfortunately, I haven't seen it in a supermarket.

NICK NAIRN'S TOP 100 CHICKEN RECIPES


ISBN 0563487046 - Page 108

Serves: 8 (but can easily be scaled down).

You will need:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
900g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3cm cubes
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh root ginger
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can coconut milk
450ml chicken stock
4 tablespoons mango chutney
250g baby spinach leaves, stalks removed
200g Greek-style yoghurt
freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
boiled rice and naan bread, to serve

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the chicken cubes. Quickly fry the cubes until lightly browned all over. Remove from the heat and drain on kitchen paper.
2. Add the remaining oil to the pan, together with the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook gently for a few minutes until softened and golden brown. Add the flour and spices and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and return the chicken cubes to the pan. Add just enough stock to cover them, scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan and stir well. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Lastly, stir in the chutney and add the spinach. Cook for a couple of minutes until the spinach has just wilted, and then stir in the yoghurt and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some boiled rice and naan bread. Delicious.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BERRY MERINGUE


This time with leftover egg whites from another recipe, I have made Berry Meringues

I added a couple of teaspoons of Supercassis to each of the berry filled ramekins for the grownups!

A bag of frozen mixed berries always comes in very useful for rustling up some last minute muffins. Summer pudding and berry crumble are also very successful. Another quick favourite is a meringue nest filled with sweetened defrosted berries and topped with Greek yogurt. The list of possibilities from just one frozen bag of mixed berries is endless - definitely one of my freezer favourites.

MARIE CLAIRE SEASONAL KITCHEN BY MICHELE CRANSTON

ISBN 9781921259036 - Page 371


Serves: 6 people

You will need:

4 egg whites
230g caster sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
500g frozen mixed berries
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas2
2. Beat the egg whites using electric beaters until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.
3. Scatter the berries into a 25cm oval ovenproof dish or 150ml ramekins.
4. Spoon or pipe the meringue over the top. Bake the large meringue for 45 minutes and the ramekins for about 30 minutes, or until the meringue is golden and cooked through.
5. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A WONDERFUL WEEKEND


I'm trying to think sunshine at the moment, and how hot it was last weekend as we made our way from the West Midlands to Broadfield Court at Bodenham in Herefordshire. This is the home of Bodenham English Wines where you can taste wines from Broadfield's vineyards, wander around the Old English gardens or pop into the award winning Tearoom for a piece of their wonderful coffee cake and a cup of coffee.
Note: English Wine Week takes place 24th May to the 1st June 2008.

We decided to then move on to a National Trust venue - The Weir, near Hereford. This is a 1920's riverside garden with an abundance of wildflowers and beautiful views along the River Wye and the Herefordshire countryside.

Next onto Hay-on-Wye (apparently twinned with Timbuktu!) situated between Brecon and Hereford.

Hay-on-Wye is home to shop after shop selling books. A cookery book addicts dream come true - wall to wall cookery books. Well, what are you waiting for?

It's The Guardian Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye (Hay's literary festival) from 22nd May to the 1st June 2008 and up to 80,000 people descend upon this small town every year. Not just to buy cookery books though!! Take a look at the list of people who will be appearing at the Hay Festival.

Then onto our final destination - Llanwrtyd Wells (the smallest town in Britain)located in Mid Wales, home to the Red Kite. It's here at the AA 2007-2008 Restaurant of the Year (Wales), The Carlton Riverside, we had booked an overnight stay. This restaurant holds three AA Red Rosettes and Mary Ann Gilchrist creates the most amazing food. We make the journey every year to this hotel. You will find people from all over the country at this restaurant, the majority returning once they have experienced her excellent food.

We returned home to the West Midlands taking in the most stunning views of the Mid Wales countryside. Sadly, many tourists only think about North and South Wales, little wonder they say 'Secret Mid-Wales'. Ssh! don't tell anyone.

Monday, May 05, 2008

CHILDRENS' BIRTHDAY CAKES


GOOD HOUSEKEEPING - STEP BY STEP BAKING

ISBN 0091865794 - PAGE 292

TRAIN CAKE

I made this cake for my grandsons third birthday and chose the design
because he loves everything about trains (although it has to be said Thomas The Tank Engine and friends are his favourites).
The cake was fairly simple to decorate and to make life easier I purchased ready made coloured icings. The liquorice sweet assortment was cut up into small pieces to make the wheels, windows, funnel etc.
This book has a couple more birthday cake designs for children, such as a snow cottage and birthday bear cake.
I thought the cake was really cute and I hope you do too.


CHILDRENS' BOOK OF BAKING BY SARA LEWIS

ISBN 9780753715505 - PAGE 90

MINI BIRTHDAY CAKE SQUARES


This cake was made a couple of weeks ago for my grandsons first birthday and as he would only be having a tiny piece of cake, I decorated it with my three year old grandson in mind.
I thought these mini cakes would make a change from the usual novelty cake. The cakes looked lovely with all brightly coloured icings, sprinkles, sugar strands, smarties and candles on.
This is a baking book with 60 recipes for children to make (and grownups too!).
I love this little book, but would be hesitant to say it was for mainly for children. I am not entirely sure, that small children would thank you for a slice of creamy kiwi meringue gateau or baked strawberry and lime cheesecake, or even iced ginger and date sandwich cake (all of which look delicious). Last year I made peach Melba cake from this book and it really was fabulous. Some of the recipes such as iced star biscuits, triple choc brownies or how about chocolate fudge squares would be ideal for children.

You will need:

A 18 x 28cm roasting tin 4cm deep, greased and base lined with greaseproof paper.

250g soft margarine, 250g caster sugar, 250g self-raising flour, 4 eggs, grated rind of 1 lemon or 1 small orange.

1. Set the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Put all the cake ingredients in a food mixer and mix for 2 minutes.
3. Spoon into the tin and smooth flat.
4. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes until it is well risen and golden brown.
5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a round bladed knife and turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the lining paper and leave the cake to cool completely.

For the icing and decoration:

100g unsalted butter at room temperature, 200g icing sugar, 2-4 teaspoons milk, a few drops of your chosen food colouring, 24 candles and candle holders, selection of sweets such as dolly mixtures, mini candy-coated chocolate sweets or mini marshmallows, sugar strands, hundreds and thousands and sprinkles, 24 cupcake cases.

1. To make the icing, beat the butter in a bowl with a little of the icing sugar, then gradually mix in the rest, a few spoonfuls at a time, along with enough milk to make a smooth spreadable icing.
2. Divide the icing into 3 and place two of the thirds in small bowls. Colour the icings with your chosen colours.
3. Put the cake onto a large board and cut into three pieces. Spread a different coloured icing over each piece of cake. Cut into small pieces with a sharp knife.
4. Put a candle holder and candle in the centre of each piece then arrange the sweets and sugar strands around it.
5. Store in an airtight tin for up to 2 days.

Please note: I made a smaller version of this cake by scaling down and using a 3 egg mixture.
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