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Archive for September, 2010

I made these ricotta stuffed tomatoes today for lunch from Aimee Lee’s blog “Cooking my way thin” and they were delicious! It was cold and grey outside and I was working from home while the joiners came to start renovating our kitchen so I decided to make something hot for lunch.

I didn’t have any beef tomatoes and I was cooking for one so I made two baby ones without the corn and courgettes and had them on toasted ciabatta drizzled with balsamic syrup. They look just like little red and white baubles so I think I’ll keep the recipe to use again as a starter at Christmas time!

Today is the last time I’ll be able to cook this week as tomorrow the sink and oven will be ripped out so as a final treat I’m making Bunny Chows for dinner tonight.  A Bunny Chow is essentially curry served in a hollowed out loaf of bread and is a South African fast food staple (if you want to know more about the history you can read this Wikipedia article). The magic thing about a bunny is that the bread doubles as a bowl for the curry and your side dish. You just pull bits of bread off and dunk them in the curry as you go, functional and delicious!

I’m not attempting to make the bread tonight because most of my cooking utensils are packed away but this is the one I was going to use from Barefoot Kitchen Witch. I made it with soup a few weeks ago and its perfect – soft but strong enough to hold the curry and you can make it ahead of time (thank you BKW!).

I’ve included two curry recipes that I’ve written: Chicken and Lentil. I’m making the lentil one tonight but they’re both just as nice.

Cooking in a building site

Chicken Curry

This is a rich creamy curry but you can make it slightly lighter by replacing the coconut milk with extra yoghurt at the end. Serves 2-4 people depending on the size of your tummy!

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt (or double if you aren’t using coconut milk)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Gently heat the oil in a large pan and toast the spices for 1 min. Add the onion, ginger and chilli and fry for 2 min. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Add the chicken and fry for 4 min, then add the wine, cook off and turn down the heat. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 15 min. Turn off the heat, stir in the coriander and yoghurt and serve (stir the yoghurt in carefully otherwise it will curdle).

Lentil Curry

This is quite a light curry, especially with the fresh tomato and spring onions tossed through at the end. Serves 2-3.

  • 150g brown lentils
  • 3-4 fresh tomatoes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup wine (white although I use red if that’s all I have and it works fine)
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Chop 2 of the tomatoes, the spring onions and the coriander and set aside. Boil the lentils for about 20 min until soft but not mushy. In the meantime toast the spices in the oil and then fry the onion and chilli for 5 min. Add the tomato puree and fry for another 2 min. Add the wine and cook off. Add the remaining chopped tomato, the stock cube and half a cup of water. Add the drained lentils and simmer for 20 min. Turn off the heat and stir in the yoghurt. Finally mix in the fresh tomato, spring onions and coriander and serve.

Bunny Chow

  • 1 small loaf of bread (or half a loaf per person)
  • Curry of your choice

Cut the loaf of bread in half and hollow out the middle. Put the core to one side.  Spoon hot curry into the middle of the loaf and put the core back in the top. Serve on its own or with chutney and sambals.

    I’ve just eaten mine and I’m stuffed! Enjoy x

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    Just to prove my point about making more mistakes than successful meals, yesterday’s new recipe didn’t quite go according to plan. I had some figs in the fridge so I decided to make a fig and goats cheese tart for lunch…

    Attempt Number One

    I did a bit of research beforehand and decided to try out a recipe by Bron Marshall. Everything was going well and it was looking more and more appetising as I assembled the onions, fig slices and cheese on the pastry.

    Sadly the proof wasn’t in the pudding. The onion and fig filling was delicious but I didn’t like the puff pastry base with it and there wasn’t enough cheese on top to give it a proper punch so overall it was a bit of a disappointment (I didnt make the mustard glaze though as I wanted pure fig and cheese flavours).

    However, not to be discouraged, I tweaked the recipe slightly and changed the pastry to short crust instead. Now I think it ticks all my ‘perfect fig and goats cheese tart’ boxes and hopefully yours as well (for those who are still in the puff pastry camp or want to make up their own minds, please refer to Bron’s recipe instead).

    I’ve just come back to add to this post because, reading it over it sounds as though I’m saying Bron’s recipe was a flop which wasnt my intention. There’s nothing wrong with it and I have only adapted it to get the result I had in my own mind, which is why I’ve suggested that anyone who reads this looks at both and chooses according to their personal preferences. Thank you Bron for the  recipe and the inspiration!

    Caramelised Onion, Fig and Goats Cheese Tart

    Adapted from the same recipe by Bron Marshall. Serves 4.

    Pastry:

    125g plain flour

    pinch of salt

    55g butter, cubed

    30-45ml tbsp cold water

    Filling:

    2 large red onions, halved and sliced

    3 figs, sliced

    300g goats cheese (or enough to cover the area of your pie dish)

    3 tbsp brown sugar

    45ml balsamic vinegar

    Put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and pulse until the butter is rubbed in (you can do this by hand if you dont have a food processor). Gradually add the water through the funnel until the dough comes together into a ball. Only add enough water to bind it and then stop. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 10-15min.

    Fry the onions on a medium heat until they are soft (about 10min). Add 2 tbsp of the sugar and half the vinegar and fry for another 15-20min until the onions are really sticky and most of the moisture is gone. Sit aside to cool.

    Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Roll out the pastry and line a pie dish. Blind bake for 15-20min. Line the base with the onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Lay the sliced figs over the onions and then lay the slices of cheese over the figs. Put the tart back in the oven for about 20minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

    While the tart is in the oven, heat the remaining vinegar and sugar in a small pan until sticky and drizzle over the top when its ready (you can use pre-made balsamic glaze if you have it but it will be nicer warm).

    Yum yum!

    ♥ ♥ ♥

    While I was writing about this recipe, my brain started to wander over other recipes which have taken me several attempts to get right (yesterday’s milk tart is one of these odysseys) and how “practice makes perfect”. One of the things I can remember my mom making when I was young is banana bread. It was wonderfully soft and damp without being too heavy and it smelled of vanilla and spices (and bananas of course).

    Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of my mom’s recipe so I started trying other’s until I found one that fitted my mental blueprint for good banana bread. Here’s my favourite recipe, please feel free to let me know if you think you can beat it though!

    Banana Bread

    Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe (I left out the alcohol, nuts and sultanas because I was trying to recreate my mom’s but you might want to keep them in).

    175g plain flour

    2 tsp baking powder

    1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

    1/2 tsp salt

    125g unsalted butter, melted

    80g brown sugar

    80g white sugar

    2 large eggs

    300g of mashed very very ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)

    1/4 tsp cinnamon

    1/4 tsp nutmeg

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Butter and flour a loaf tin and preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

    Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and combine well. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1 1/4 hours until a skewer inserted comes out cleanish.

    Leave in the tin on a rack to cool. My favourite way to eat it is hot from the oven or toasted with a slap of butter. Mmmmmmm, hope you like it.

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    My earliest memory involves food. I’m not entirely sure whether I am remembering the actual event or whether it’s been incorporated into my memories via family stories but either way it has stuck.

    I was a toddler I think and we were camping up the coast from Durban somewhere, probably at Mtunzini. I had a Strawberry Swirl gripped in my excited little paw. Strawberry Swirls will be known by many names but they are those shortbread biscuits with a lovely jammy centre. I was about to start nibbling all the biscuit off so that I would be left with the jammy middle bit to savour last, when a little hairy grey arm shot out of the bush next to me and swiped it.  The thief turned out to be a Vervet Monkey which looking back is quite amusing but at the time I was absolutely devastated. I’m sure my parents must have given me another biscuit to replace the one that was thieved but it has always stayed in my mind, and I think its made me very protective of my food!

    Each part of my life is marked by these memories of food, either stories involving food or just specific meals which take me back to a certain time and place. I can remember sitting on the kitchen counter when I was little while my mom was baking bread and being given little lumps of raw bread dough. They were sort of chewy and lovely and salty.

    I remember sitting on the deck outside the kitchen and eating avocado pears, just cut in half and sprinkled with black pepper and apple cider vinegar.  If you make cuts in the flesh with a knife then the vinegar soaks into the flesh and you get it’s zingy flavour all the way through. You can scoop the flesh out and spread it on toast if you wish but I just eat it straight out of the skin with a teaspoon. I still eat them like this all the time, although the avocados you get here in Scotland are nothing like the huge, buttery, ripe ones you get in South Africa.

    I remember stopping at the local shop on the way home from school with my mom and my sisters and buying cheese topped rolls and milk tarts. We’d go home, butter the rolls with mayonnaise and cram them full with crisps to make a crisp butty, one of the most unhealthy, and yet most satisfying afternoon snacks. Then we’d have milk tart for pudding. Milk tart is a South African type of custard tart which consists mostly of milk and cinnamon with a shortcrust pastry base. Its the first thing that pops into my head if someone asks me for a traditional South African recipe so it seems only fitting that it be the first recipe on this site.

    Milk Tart

    I had tried several different recipes and this the easiest and the only one that makes a milk tart like the ones I remember.

    Shortcrust pastry – you can make your own but I normally just buy the pre-made stuff

    500ml milk

    1 cinnamon stick and 1 tsp ground cinnamon

    100ml castor sugar

    45ml corn flour

    1 tsp vanilla essence

    30ml butter

    2 eggs

    Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees.  Line a tart dish with the short crust pastry and prick the base with a fork. Line it with greaseproof paper and baking beans (I use dried beans or rice) and blind bake for about 10-15min. Remove the baking beans and bake for another 10min or until it starts to brown slightly. Set aside to cool a bit.

    Heat the milk in a saucepan with the cinnamon stick to just under boiling point. Lightly beat the eggs and sugar together, then add the flour, corn flour and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Pour the hot milk slowly into this mixture, stirring rapidly. Return the saucepan to a low  heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes very thick. Keep stirring/whisking to stop it forming lumps (you do have to keep stirring constantly).

    Take off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the vanilla essence and the butter until melted. Pour into the pastry base and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon. Let it cool slightly and and then cover and keep in the fridge until it’s set. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.

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