Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

Bacon & Leek Quiche

quiche

This weekend, I felt the need to do something different. I wanted to eat something I haven’t eaten in a while. Feel the satisfaction of making something special from scratch. So, after having a quick look through the fridge, finding bacon cubes, a leek and lots of eggs, I decided on baking a quiche. My first quiche baking experience was thanks to Odzer, who taught me how to bake a Spinach & Bacon Quiche.

Bacon & Leek Quiche

Pastry:

100g Butter (salted)

100g Flour

Pinch of salt

Put all of the above into a bowl, then cut the butter into small cubes, you may use a pastry blender or whatever you have at hand. It is important that the butter is cold when you do this, you do not want soft butter or your pastry dough will turn greasy!

Rub the butter into the flour, using your index finger and thumb. Keep doing this until the mixture resembles crumbs and both are properly combined. (Don’t leave crumbs of solid butter in there or while baking you’ll get holes in your pastry dough!) Now, add a little bit of water, just enough so that the dough sticks together and holds together while kneading. Knead for around 5 minutes, until the ingredients are nicely combined.

Wrap in foil and keep in the fridge until needed.

Filling:

1 pkt Bacon cubes (250g)

1 leek – sliced

1 onion – sliced

1 tsp Salt – reduce if your bacon is very salty

Pinch of black pepper

Fresh herbs of your choice – I used fresh rosemary, crushed

4 Eggs

125ml Milk

In a frying pan or wok, fry the bacon until it leaves fat and turns golden brown at the edges. Then add the leek and onion, keep frying until all is cooked. Season with salt & pepper and herbs. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and the milk together until combined. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Take out the pastry dough and roll it out on a clean floured work surface. The base of the quiche should be approx 1/4 inch thick. Spread a little oil over the pastry case of your choice – either one big one; approx. 6 inches across, or multiple smaller ones. (In case you’re making small quiches, roll the pastry dough out a little thinner. Now line your case with the dough. I used a cake tin; putting a 10 inch diameter round of pastry dough into my 6 inch case. Press the dough into the corners so no air bubbles remain, and make an even edge all across the side of the case, roughly 2 inches in height.

I was left with some pastry dough after doing this, so I kept it aside for using as a lattice top later on. If you followed my pastry dough recipe using 100g butter and 100g flour, you probably have exactly the right quantity for a normal sized pastry case.

In a preheated oven, bake the case empty for approx. 10 minutes, until it starts looking half cooked. You can tell when it’s cooked enough by waiting until the dough is no longer shiny and greasy, but turns matte and a little flaky. Now put the bacon/leek/onion mixture into the case, pour your whisked egg/milk over the top and sprinkle with some grated cheese (optional). If you had pastry dough left over, put it over the top as a lattice shape or however you prefer. Bake at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes, or until the egg is no longer runny when pricked with a knife. Enjoy the quiche hot or cold!

A satisfying treat – Egg Parantha’s

It would surprise people, how often Indian food is made at my house – especially since I’m not Indian myself! Although usually comfort food are those things which you have nostalgic childhood memories of, sometimes a dish comes along later on which is extremely easy to warm up to – before you know it it’s high up on your Comfort Food favourites list! One of these dishes for me is Egg Parantha’s. I learned how to make them shortly after moving to India, even though they are not generally a staple of the average Indian home… Maybe they should be though!

So let’s start with what they are – Parantha’s as many of you know, are fried or baked unleavened breads, which generally have multiple layers. You achieve this layered effect much in the same way as with puff pastry; after kneading the dough, you roll it out thin and spread some oil over it, folding it over, repeating this process multiple times until you end up with a square shape. I explained and illustrated this process in a previous post; Spinach Mania – why does it have to come in such big packets? which outlines how to make Spinach or Hara (green) Parantha’s. The process is the same for Egg parantha’s, obviously leaving out the spinach. Then while cooking, the parantha’s are filled with egg (beaten and seasoned like for omelette).

Note: I don’t want to discourage anyone, but this recipe is unlike most of my previous ones – it requires a significant amount of skill to get it right. More often than not do my parantha’s end up half empty! Also in order to feed multiple people, expect to spend some time in the kitchen! That being said, even if they’re not perfect, they’re still tasty!

Egg Parantha – Flat bread stuffed with egg

Chapati Flour (Hindi: Atta)

Water

filling:

1 egg per person – beaten with all seasonings as per below

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Red Chilli powder

1/4 tsp Turmeric powder (Hindi: Haldi) – OPTIONAL

Some oil for cooking – in a small bowl with a spoon for convenience

Make a dough with the flour and water; it should resemble bread dough. Not so sticky it will coat your hands, but not tough and dry either. Best is to sift 3 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl, then add water little by little, combining it by hand, until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and you can knead it as one big ball. On a clean and dry work surface, knead your dough for approx. 10 minutes. Keep it aside while preparing the egg mixture.

Then heat a griddle on the stove, medium to high heat.

Start rolling your first parantha – follow the instructions of my Spinach Parantha Recipe (NOTE: before the first fold, throw a tiny pinch of salt over the oil you’ve just spread on your rolled out dough. This in case the egg mixture doesn’t distribute evenly, at least the empty bits of your Parantha are not bland!).

Put the completed square parantha onto the griddle and cook it at low heat until the colour turns darker, then turn it around and cook the other side until the layers of the parantha start to separate and fluff up. If need be, gently press it from the sides to build up pressure inside which makes the layers fluff up completely, without leaving parts of the parantha flat. This is something which will take some practice, skill, and/or talent!

Take the griddle off the flame and pick a side of the parantha where the layers are recognizable; separate the top and bottom layer from one another. Quickly pour 4-5 tablespoons of the egg mixture into the parantha, trying to make it spread evenly on the inside. Press the opening together to close the parantha again.

Put the griddle back on the flame. Quickly spread a teaspoon full of oil along the sides of the parantha so it gets poured underneath. Also spread a little bit of it with the back of the spoon along the edge where you cut your parantha especially as well as over the top of the rest of it. Turn the parantha over, taking care not to spill the egg. Cook it until the egg inside fluffs up and remains firm (that means it’s cooked).

Repeat process for remaining paranthas – those who are really skilled can roll another parantha while the previous one is getting cooked…

Enjoy hot with some pickle, chutney, or just by itself!

Fun with beef – Shammi kebabs Hedonist style

Throughout my time in India, I desperately missed having good quality meat. I craved beef, duck and anything that wasn’t chicken or the largely useless quality of mutton that was available where I stayed. Now, in the UK, to some extent I still miss good quality meat. I tend to stay away from pork because I’ve never liked it much to begin with (Bacon & sausages are exceptions). And British beef is very “aromatic”… No idea why. The same is true for lamb; I don’t buy much of it for that reason…

Anyway, I have figured out that buying Irish beef is a solution to the problem; at least it doesn’t smell. And for certain preparations, such as these Shammi kebabs (deep fried meat balls), even though they are meant to be made with minced mutton, they turn out great with lean beef as well!

However, one warning before trying this recipe out yourself: get yourself a decent grinder! I have one of those cheap “Magic Bullet Blender” knock-offs, which works great for normal every day needs, but starts to screech and smoke trying to cope with the recipe below…. This hasn’t stopped me though, grinding small portions at once seems to be the key.

Shammi Kebabs

500g mince – use lamb or beef, whichever you prefer

1/3 cup split Chickpeas (chana dal) – soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes

1 small onion – chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic – chopped

2 green chillis

1 whole dried red chilli

3 cloves

2 green cardamoms

some freshly ground pepper, or 3 pepper corns

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1/2 tsp Chat Masala – if unavailable, replace with a little bit of cumin powder, and lemon juice

Some water

Combine all ingredients in a pan and boil it until the Chickpeas are relatively soft; approx. 20-30 mins. Keep stirring to avoid sticking. Once done, reduce the water completely; you do NOT want this mixture to be wet at all. Cook all the moisture away, until the mince becomes crumbly and separated. Try to retrieve the whole spices from the mince and throw them away; they are difficult to blend and would make for a nasty surprise if found in the end product. Now, blend the mixture to a fine pulp. The idea is that your chickpeas are completely crushed, as well as the other ingredients.

Let it cool down a little in a bowl, then add the following:

1 egg

3 tsp white Cornflour – more may be required if the mixture is very sticky

Some fresh coriander leaves – chopped

1/2 tsp Lemon juice

Combine all ingredients properly into the mixture; you will probably need to use your hands, which is just as well because the meat balls will need to be shaped by hand also. Now form portions of this mixture into walnut-sized balls, flattening them slightly to look like thick mini-hamburgers. Heat oil in your favourite deep frying contraption; I use a very small wok, less than 6″ in diameter. The oil should be around 1 1/2 inches deep at least. I guess you could easily use a deep fryer, but I’m not sure how well the oil will keep after your done frying the Shammi kebabs. Putting in as many balls at a time as comfortably fit, fry them for around a minute on each side on medium heat. They will turn a nice shade of dark brown – however take care not to burn them!

Serve with your favourite dip; Hot & Sweet ketchup, Coriander chutney or whatever.. They also taste great just sandwiched between some white bread. Or you could add salad, dressing and stuff them into a pita bread like you would do with falafel.

Easy South Indian Food Pt. II

So, when time is lacking, hunger is great, and there’s a lot of left-over rice in the fridge – I’ve already shared one recipe perfect for such situations. However, as one may notice, eating Lemon Rice over and over just isn’t that interesting. One needs variety, a different flavour. But it should still be easy to cook, and comforting….

Tomato Rice (South Indian Style – Hedonist Variant)

1 small onion – finely chopped

1-2 tomatoes – finely chopped

1 green chilli – finely chopped

1/2″ cube of ginger – finely chopped/grated

1 whole dried red chilli – (optional – for those who like it hot!)

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt – (or to taste)

1/2 tsp Garam Masala –(or to taste)

1 tbsp Tomato puree

some Water –  if needed

3-4 cups of boiled rice – preferably straight from the fridge, the colder the better

2-3 tbsp peanuts/cashew nuts – if you  like, you can also add some split chickpeas (chana dal)

4-5 Curry leaves – preferably fresh, but dried will do too.

First of all, heat some oil in a wok, you should use around a tablespoon or more. Fry the nuts in this, also the dal if you choose to use it. (I leave it out because a certain someone doesn’t like how crunchy it gets….)

Let the heat be fairly high, so the oil starts to splutter and the nuts get properly roasted. When they are nice and aromatic, add the mustard seeds, cumin and the red chilli. Turn the heat down so it doesn’t burn. Immediately add the ginger, green chilli and onions, stir fry until the onions are starting to turn light brown. Then add the curry leaves, tomatoes, salt, garam masala. Cook this mixture until the tomatoes turn very mushy. You want everything to look a bit like pasta sauce in terms of consistency. If your sauce gets too dry, add a bit of water to make it more liquid. Also, depending on how flavourful your tomatoes are, you might want to add some tomato puree to give it a nice deep red colour and tomato aroma. Optional: sprinkle a little sugar to reduce the sourness of the tomatoes, or if the tomatoes are not sour enough for your taste, add some lemon juice. At the end, put in the rice, combine everything so the rice is evenly coloured red – taste to check seasoning. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with raita or plain yoghurt.

I suppose you could eat this rice as a side dish with other South Indian food, however I really enjoy it on its own as well.

Hopefully I will be able to add a photograph soon, considering I do make this dish quite regularly. Enjoy!

Homemade beef burgers

All this weight loss talk is making me hungry. Time for some comfort food!

burger

500g Beef Mince – I used extra lean. You could also use any other type of mince you like, need not be beef

1 egg

1 small onion – finely chopped

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped

1 green chilli – finely chopped

2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

Black Pepper – to taste

Red chilli powder – to taste

Combine all the ingredients until they’re evenly mixed. Form the mince mixture into round patties, approx. 2cm thick. How big you make them would depend on your preference, or what buns (if any) you intend to eat them with. For best results use a non stick pan; on high flame. Fry the burgers in very little oil first one side then the other until properly browned. Then turn the heat down and keep cooking them until done. This will take approx. 10-15 mins depending on how thick your burgers are. Test if they are done by pricking them in the middle with a knife. If juices run clear, your burger is done.

For Mushroom-Cream gravy: In case you intend to eat your burger without a bun, it is nice to have a tasty gravy with it. Finely slice 4-5 mushrooms (of your choice, I used Chestnut mushrooms but you could use regular button mushrooms as well) and half an onion and a small clove of garlic. If you’re as sloppy as me, some onion pieces will fall off of the burgers while cooking anyway, so you may use those and not chop any more onion for the gravy. If using a non stick pan, fry up these vegetables with your burgers. If you keep the heat high enough, there will be some meat juices coming out of the burger and making a nice brown coating on the mushrooms. After your burgers are done, take them out and keep them aside. Add a bit of water and 2-3tbsp cream to your mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too runny for your taste, add plain flour, while stirring the sauce well to avoid lumps. You may season the sauce with any condiments of your choice, ranging from mustard, to red wine (use very little!) or even ketchup if you prefer. In my case I thought it was fine as it was.

Serve your burgers with gravy and fries and enjoy! (Or put them in burger buns with lettuce, ketchup/mayo, pickle and anything else you fancy.)

Kill da wabbit!

Ok, touchy vegetarians stop reading now. Because I’ve been whining about my dinner plans for Christmas Eve for weeks now, I might as well tell you how it turned out 🙂  

The Rabbit – Marinated for 24 hours in Red Pesto.

rabbit1

 Slow Roasted for around 2.5 hours at 100 degrees celsius. Afterwards simmered in its own sauce.
Basically I was happy trying to  cook a new type of meat, but not ready to try a new type of marinade/ sauce so I stuck with what I do with roast Chicken. (Just refined it a little with some Rose wine before putting it in the oven).  

The Side – Potato Gratin

potato  This side dish is very simple to make, yet extremely tasty. Probably because it is so sinful. You peel and slice around 4-5 large potatoes, then put them in a small pot, pour 300ml Single cream over them, add milk until the potatoes are somewhat covered. Add salt, black pepper, ground nutmeg to taste. Simmer for at least 5 minutes (until the potatoes are half done). Then take the potatoes out (don’t discard the cream!) layer them in an ovenproof dish and pour only so much of the cream mixture over them until all except the top layer of potatoes are covered. If you like, add some grated cheese over the top. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. If you like your gratin more firm, add an egg, or in my case, I had an egg yolk leftover from the dessert I made, so I put it into the cream mixture before pouring it over the potatoes.  

The Dessert – Coffee Trifle with Chocolate Sauce

trifle
Well if every single thing we ate on Christmas Eve already had cream in it already, the dessert couldn’t be far behind. For making this type of dessert, you need to have three different components: sponge cake (can be purchased or home made. You could also get sponge biscuits), some type of sauce to soak the sponge cake with, creamy mousse which will make up the bulk of the trifle. 

For the sponge cakes, I just did the lazy person’s thing; bought some trifle sponges from the supermarket. 

Then I made chocolate sauce by heating a little bit of double cream and melting dark chocolate in it. I also added some sugar. Make sure to whisk the sauce properly or the sugar will not combine with the cream fully. You’re looking for a sauce of fairly thin consistency so it can be absorbed by the sponge cake. Put the cake into the sauce and let it absorb it while making the cream.

The Coffee flavoured cream was made by combining extra thick (double) cream (approx. 500ml) with some icing sugar. All flavourings were added to taste, because I didn’t follow any recipe. Plus tasting the cream is most of the fun of this dessert anyway. I boiled some water, and dissolved Nescafe in it (just 50ml of water with 1.5 tea spoon of nescafe or more if you like. Added the concentrated coffee and some vanilla essence to taste, to make the cream get a subtle taste of coffee. Whip the cream until it is fairly stiff. Then beat an egg white and softly fold it in. 

Now start layering your trifle in a freezer proof bowl. First some sponge cake, if need be pour more chocolate sauce over it. Then little less than half of the cream, then the rest of the sponge cake and chocolate sauce, and the rest of the  cream over the top. Even out the top of your trifle and dust with some cocoa powder. 

Depending on how firm your cream turned out (depends on the type of cream used and amount of flavouring you put in), either refrigerate it or freeze it. This dessert, being so creamy, is very tasty when its almost frozen, but still soft. If you made it a long time in advance, you may need to take it out of the freezer an hour before it is to be eaten. 

Germany’s best export – Potato Salad

I have heard that this recipe (which I cannot even begin to claim as my own) makes people happy. Well maybe not the recipe, but if I give myself a kick in the butt and cook a load of it to share with friends.

Wonderful how versatile potatoes are. And with some nice dressing, they can be satisfying just on their own.

Traditional German Potato Salad (mayo free version)

1 kg Potatoes – however you prefer them, with or without skin

1 Onion / equal quantity spring onion – finely chopped

Dressing:

1 cube chicken stock – prepared according to instructions in 1/2L Water

Splash of vinegar – Any type you prefer, white, malt, wine, applecider, etc

1/2 tsp Wholegrain mustard

1-2 tsp Cream

Salt, black pepper

Chives or Parsley to garnish

First you have to boil the potatoes; not too soft or your salad will turn into mash. If you can, make sure you get a type of potato that remains firm after cooking. Cut potatoes into slices around 1 cm thick, right after boiling (This is very important: you should not let them cool down, if you want your dressing to turn out right!)

As soon as the potatoes are cut, put them into a bowl and pour some freshly prepared (Hot!) Chicken stock over them. First pour around half of what you have, carefully stir it and then wait for the stock to get absorbed by the potatoes. You do not want the salad to be too wet and sloppy. Only add more stock if after 15 minutes your potatoes are quite dry.  Make sure to separate the potato slices properly, or they will just stick together in the salad. Now add the onion.

In a separate bowl or glass, pour in some vinegar; a few tablespoons of it. Mix it with the mustard and cream to make a dressing. Season with Salt & Black Pepper. Pour this dressing over the salad and mix it carefully.

Garnish with Parsley or Chives, whatever you’ve got. Serve lukewarm (as is) or cold straight from the fridge.

This salad can be “dressed up” by adding some fried bacon cubes over the top. It is served with barbecued meat, sausages, roast chicken or generally as a party side dish.

My favourite Roast Chicken Marinade

It has been a long time since we’ve eaten anything non-Indian at home. One thing that always works is Roast Chicken. However, because we’re only two people, having a full chicken is too much of a hassle and it never seems to finish… So roast chicken legs then.

Eating a lot of spicy food has made us picky; chicken marinade has to have a very good flavour or it just tastes boring to us. So here’s my favourite – it goes very well with some fresh mashed potatoes.

Red Pesto Chicken

Chicken legs& thighs with skin

1 heaped tea spoon Red Pesto per leg&thigh piece

Salt

Black Pepper

Dried Basil

Dried Oregano

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

Splash of olive oil

Trim excess fat off the chicken pieces. Poke the skin with a knife in several places. Coat with pesto (easiest way to do it is rub it in by hand). Place the pieces on a baking tray. Add the crushed garlic cloves (no need to have them mashed up; just take a whole garlic clove, take a knife or some other metal utensil and crush it, take the skin off and put it on the tray with the chicken. Season everything with Salt, Pepper, Basil & Oregano. Splash some olive oil over the chicken. Pop it in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Baste the chicken in its own juice a few times, and let it bake for around 30-40 minutes; until when you poke it with a knife, the juices run clear, not pink.

Red Pesto Gravy

Once your chicken is done, take it out of the tray. Put the tray on the stove, and add around a cup of water to the juices and fat in the tray. Cook it on the stove until everything dissolves and mixes with the water. Season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Add 2 tsp of red pesto and about the same of concentrated tomato puree. For extra flavour add a few jalapeno peppers. Let the gravy reduce until it has a creamy consistency.

Serve with the chicken and a potato side; choose from Mashed Potato, boiled or roasted potatoes.

Spinach mania – why does it have to come in such big packets?

There’s a lot of spinach in my fridge, and I’m going to have to be very innovative to get rid of it before it goes bad, without getting sick of the taste.

So after having had my fill of Spinach fritters, I needed something slightly healthier.. Before I write down the recipe I would like to explain a little bit about Indian cooking utensils.

For the dish I’m writing about, you need a flat griddle; “Tava”. They’re usually made of iron or steel, but come in non stick variants as well. You can probably find one at an Indian food store near you, or Buy one on Amazon.co.uk. If you want to try this recipe but do not have a tava, you can use a frying pan, but results may vary.

Hara Parantha (Green flat bread)

3 cups Chapati Flour (finely ground whole wheat flour

2 generous handfulls fresh spinach leaves – finely chopped, shredded; or blended

water

oil for coating & frying – it’s easiest to put some into a small bowl.

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the spinach, mix it together. Add water little by little and combine everything to make it into a pliable dough. Because of the spinach, it will be a little sticky, but it should be of a similar consistency as bread dough. Keep kneading it on the kitchen worktop for at least 10 minutes.

Form the dough into balls, approx. the size of an apricot. Put some flour on the worktop to prevent sticking, and coat the ball in flour. Roll it out into a 2-3mm thick circle – make sure it doesn’t stick to the work surface, so keep sprinkling flour whenever necessary. Take a little bit of oil in a teaspoon, and spread it over the circle, in a straight line across the middle. Fold over one side of the circle, spread oil over the folded part, fold the other side of the circle. Then put a little bit of oil on the center, fold the top part over, then repeat and fold the bottom flap. Your parantha will be square now. Coat it in flour and roll it out again evenly until it is 3mm thick. See images below; how to make a square parantha:

Meanwhile heat the griddle on the stove, on medium heat. Put your parantha on the griddle and turn the heat down. Cook it until it turns darker – approx. 1-2 minutes. Turn it around and cook a for max. 1 minute until the other side is cooked and it starts to puff up a little bit. spread a little oil over the top and along the sides, turn the parantha around and spread a little oil over it again. Gently let it cook, until it’s done, but don’t make it crispy (unless you like it like that of course… )

Serve immediately with some pickle or as a side dish with some meat or vegetable curry.

Sinful Indian Food – Spinach & Onion Fritters

Now that it’s starting to get gloomy, wet and generally nasty outside, I cannot control my cravings for sinful deep fried food any longer! So, braving the drizzly, cold weather, I went to the supermarket on Saturday to buy some Spinach. Now I know it’s not the first thing people would think of when craving deep fried food, but I’m afraid I’m completely hooked! Spinach fritters are the best!

Palak Pakora (Spinach Fritters)

1.5cup Chickpea flour (Besan)

Salt & Red Chilli to taste

Water

Spinach Leaves – whole, trimmed stems. washed and patted dry

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Sift the chickpea flour into a mixing bowl, adding salt and red chilli powder. Slowly start adding water and beat the mixture with a whisk until it is smooth and has the consistency of thick pancake batter.

Heat the oil in a small pan; whichever one is your favourite for deep frying… If you want to limited the amount of oil wasted, it should be very small and rounded like a wok; at least 2-3 inches deep. Test a little bit of the batter first; if it turns golden brown within 30 seconds, your oil is ready.

Take a single spinach leaf and dip it into the batter. It should cover the leaf all over (consistency is important! If the batter is too runny, it will not cover the leaf properly!). Carefully put it into the hot oil. Use a slotted spoon to turn it over and fry it for around a minute, until it is brown and crispy. Watch out: If the leaves are wet, the oil will splutter, so take care not to get burned!

Let the fritter drip off on some paper towels.

Serve while hot, with chilli ketchup. If you like it tangy; sprinkle with Chaat Masala

To make onion fritters (Pyaz Pakora), simply make the same batter, add sliced onions into the batter and put little clusters of this mixture into the hot oil. Care should be taken to use relatively less batter than onion, or it will be too heavy to enjoy! 😉

As this was a joint effort between my husband and I (he is a self proclaimed palak pakora expert), he did most of the frying and I embezzled most of the finished product… This snack is best enjoyed at daytime, so there is plenty of time for your stomach to get settled before you go to bed!

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