Sunday, 12 September 2021

Chocolate Beetroot Cake - In My Kitchen, September 2021

             "Food connects people, and the Kitchen is where the magic can happen."                                                                    

There are days when nothing but a rich, moist chocolate cake will do. I'd been wanting to make a Chocolate Beetroot cake for a while, ever since I went out to coffee with some friends at the Soul Food Market in Mackay, North Queensland, where we had a slice of Chocolate Beetroot cake, which was gluten free, lactose free, sugar free, and perhaps egg free, but not delicious free, because as you have probably already guessed, it is a health food shop and a bulk foods shop, which also specialises in vegetarian foods for dine in or take away. It's an amazing little business tucked away in an unpretentious arcade.

There is always a delicious aroma floating out of the front door, with soups and ratatouilles etc cooking on the stove. One of my friends has allergies to everything it seems, so we chose to eat at the Soul Food Market so that she could enjoy something delicious to eat without any after effects.  My Chocolate cake recipe isn't vegetarian or vegan or sugar free but it does contain beetroot, and dark chocolate, both healthy additions, which also makes it exceptionally moist. These comments about the Soul Food Market are purely my own and we all paid for our own morning tea. So here's the recipe my friends, it is adapted from a Taste.com recipe. 

Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Note: This is a one pot saucepan recipe. 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (125 ml vegetable oil or light olive oil)

1 cup (220 g) firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 ml) maple syrup

60 g dark chocolate (70 %) chopped

250 g (around 2 cups) raw beetroot, coarsely grated

3 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature

1 1/2 cups (225 g) self raising flour  or 1 1/2 cups plain flour sifted with 3 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Ganache

3/4 cup (185 ml) thin cream

150 g dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 tbsp. maple syrup

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 deg. C.

Grease a 20 cm round cakepan and line with baking paper.

On a low heat, warm the oil in a medium size saucepan, which is large enough to hold all of the ingredients when needed.

Add the brown sugar, maple syrup and chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove saucepan from the heat.

Add the grated beetroot to the pan.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the saucepan.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together and stir into the cake and beetroot batter.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour or until the mixture pulls away from the side of the tin and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, before turning out and cooking completely.

Ganache Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat. 

Stir over a medium-low heat, for 5 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, when the mixture should thicken slightly, and pour small amounts gradually over the cake. Cover the top of the cake first, and then smooth the ganache around the sides of the cake.

Perfecto.

This post is part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by the lovely Sherry from Sherry's Pickings, where we share lots of interesting stories from our kitchens over the last month. Today is the deadline to post so my apologies that this might be a bit of a rush job.

Cumquat Marmalade, 2nd Batch 

We were given some more cumquats, a completely different variety of cumquat to last time. These were almost the size of half a small mandarin, and had the largest seeds, and lots of them.

Amazingly, it seemed that every quart in each cumquat contained a seed, we were still removing them from the pot even as the jam was nearly ready to be bottled. Mr. HRK and I both removed all the seeds, or so we thought, the day before so that they could be soaked to extract the pectin, which is the jam thickener. Well weren't we in for a surprise, when seeds kept popping up in the pot as the jam was cooking, until the end of the cooking time. I also had to remove half of the skin when I sliced them up to soak, as some of the skin had dark spots on it.

Anyway not to be deterred, I followed exactly the same formula to  make this marmalade as I did a couple of weeks ago when I made my first batch, although I had a lot more cumquats this time, I just increased the ratio of quantities according to weight. This batch is still delicious, and thickened well, but isn't as clear as the first batch. I'm blaming it on the fruit which I think had been left on the tree too long, anyway it still tastes delicious. "I'm certainly not looking a gift horse in the mouth". Cumquats are a precious commodity. This is the link to my previous Cumquat Marmalade batch recipe in August if you missed it. Dear reader, if you are gifted a jar of Cumquat Marmalade by a friend or relative, please be very appreciative. The maker of this marmalade put her/his heart and soul into making this jam. Jam making is a labour of love and every batch can turn out differently given the differences in fruit quality. I am getting better at it and feel a lot more confident now with jam and marmalade making. This one such a delicious marmalade.



Did I tell you about my new pot? I cooked this latest batch of marmalade in my new beautiful Blue cooking pot. It's a Baccarat Le Connoisseur Limited Edition 6.3 litre model. (I think that's the correct volume.) I needed a large pot that I could transfer from the stove top to the oven and then to the tabletop. I know I'll use it a lot. 

My daughter in Cairns was unwell recently, so we sent her a Care Package from Mum and Dad which she always loves to receive and so did our Son in Law. I hope it helped her recovery. So I did some baking and made a a large Cherry and Brandy cake and a batch of Lemon Crispies. The secret ingredient in the Lemon Crispy slice is corn flakes, and here's the link to the recipe.  So delicious

Lemon Crispies


Nasturtiums from our garden give the slice some colour for afternoon tea at home.

I often make this Boiled fruit cake into two smaller cakes, but this time I used a large square cake tin and sent the whole cake North. Two packets of cherries, lots of mixed fruit and a swig of brandy give this cake a delicious flavour. Here's the recipe and it's story for you.


It's Spring here, and we've been doing a lot of gardening, planting new seedlings, repotting and enjoying being outside in the beautiful weather. I pruned my Pineapple Sage plant a couple of weeks ago and it has responded beautifully by thickening up and flowering. The red flowers bring some nice colour and attract the bees and insects. I added some of the Pineapple Sage leaves to my
 Chickpea and Vegetable Korma curry during the week and they brought a nice little burst of flavour to the dish, in addition to the fresh curry leaves.

Pineapple Sage coming into flower

I've planted beans under the trellis, and two rows of radishes. They are coming along nicely in the warmer weather.

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from our Spring garden. There is a close synergy between the garden and the kitchen at our place, and most gardeners who also enjoy cooking know how beneficial and rewarding it is to grow some of their own produce and how lovely it is to share it with friends and family. Only this morning, our friends P & J dropped off some excess cucumbers and eggplants from their garden which are very much appreciated. Our vegetables are only at the seedling stage, however some orchids are flowering nicely. Mint is a wonderful herb to grow in a pot, however it won"t be long and I'll need to move it into the orchid house for protection from the Summer heat. I love having mint on hand for cooking.


Spring orchids are flowering. This is the Phais Tankervilleae or Swamp Orchid, which I am thrilled to have in flower.


This yellow soft cane Dendrobium orchid is as pretty as a picture.


The Lemon Tree in a pot below has lots of small lemons on, the bees have done their work.



Warm wishes,

Pauline x









Friday, 3 September 2021

North African Pumpkin, Lentil and Chickpea Stew


"If you are feeling depressed in life, all you really need to do is grow things, cook things, and let nature care of you."

Joanna Lumley 



This is  a richly spiced and hearty dish originating from Morocco, where it is called Harira. Traditionally Harira is a soup, however the combination of pulses and pasta thickens this dish to  more of a vegetable stew when I make it, however I don't mind at all, as it is wholesome, nutritious, delicious and fills the spot, and is cooked in one dish. It's a winner. The flavours keep improving so that leftovers the following day are even more delicious. On the third day when we still had leftovers for a side dish and we were still loving it, I added some baked eggplant as all of the pumpkin had disappeared, and eggplant was a perfect pairing with it. So next time I make this recipe,  I'll be serving it with eggplant as well, however that is optional.

This recipe is based on another of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in his River Cottage series called "veg everyday". Every recipe I have cooked from this book has been successful.

Ingredients: 

Serves 6

2 tablespoons sunflower oil or rice bran oil

2 large onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely diced

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

100 g red lentils

400 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

8 saffron strands, toasted and crushed

500 ml passata, or roasted tomato sauce (see note below for the recipe)

A good handful of parsley, roughly chopped

A large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

300 g pumpkin or squash

1 large eggplant or aubergine(optional)

1.2 litres vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

50 g small pasta such as orzo or macaroni or use vermicelli

Medjool dates, to serve

Method:

Heat the oil in a large frypan or saucepan (I used my Scanpan) over a medium heat. Saute the onions in the oil until they just start to turn golden and translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the celery, garlic, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. Saute in the oil for a couple of minutes.

Now add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, passata, parsley and about half the coriander.  Cook all of this over a low heat for about 15 minutes.

Whilst this is cooking,  peel and remove the seeds from the pumpkin or squash and cut into large cubes.

Add the stock, the bayleaf and pumpkin to the mixture in the saucepan, and simmer covered on a low heat, for about 30 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer until it is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve immediately, scattered with the remaining coriander leaves an a few dates on the side if you wish to complete the Moroccan theme.

Cook's notes:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends making a roasted tomato sauce and having it on hand for cooking his or any vegetarian recipes or for making a great pasta sauce. I have made it previously and it was delicious, however I haven't had enough tomatoes for a while to make a sauce but I will be making it again when I do. He says it's a River Cottage classic. I wrote a post about this sauce way back in 2016, and here is the link if you feel like cooking up a batch, it really is worthwhile.

  • Roasted Tomato Sauce. 
  • As I mentioned above as well, this recipe is delicious with baked eggplant added to the plate.

We were watching the lovely Joanna Lumley's new series, Britain, on SBS TV, which brought back lots of memories for us from when we lived for 12 months in the Lakes District in Northern England about 15 years ago. Mr. HRK did a teaching exchange in a wonderful little village called Cockermouth,  made famous by the romantic poet William Wordsworth, where he was born over 250 years ago. It was a wonderful experience and the scenery in the area is magnificent. One of the many highlights of Joanna Lumley's Britain for me was when she visited the Ladies Allotment, made famous by a group of Muslim Women in Bradford, Yorkshire, which was once the wool capital of the world in the 50's and the 60's. The ladies decided to combat their isolation and loneliness by forming a community type garden where the women could go and grow fruit and vegetables, chat, and give each other support. This has been a life saver for them as they don't venture out on their own into the community. It's not limited to Muslim women, or women from an Asian heritage, anyone is welcome, and it has been so successful it has now grown to 3 allotments. It is an inspiring story of women supporting each other.  Joanna Lumley visited them, and joined them for a meal where they ate their own produce which they cooked there, and they finished off with a delicious looking Rhubarb Cake which Joanna just had to stay for. This whole experience gave meaning to the word, Ecocentrist, which can mean happy when you are out in nature. Hence my quote at the top of this story, which was Joanna's summary of her visit to the Ladies Allotment..

"If you are feeling depressed in life, all you really need to do is grow things, cook things, and let nature care of you." I wish it was that simple, but it struck a chord with me.

Thanks for dropping by. We are enjoying beautiful Spring weather at present.

Warm wishes.

Pauline

p.s. This will be a perfect meat free Monday dish.


Monday, 30 August 2021

Homemade Pasta Bolognese sauce, it's Italian, it's gut friendly and it's delicious

 

 I've made many versions of pasta sauce over the years, but this is now my favourite. When I have the time and I want a really rich sauce full of Italian flavours, and also minus the acid that some tomato based sauces contain this is the sauce I cook. If you can't tolerate rich tomato based sauces, yet love the rich flavours of Italian herbs, red wine, and pancetta, then this is the dish for you. Bolognese or Bolognaise, how to spell it? Bolognese is an Italian word, and here in Australia we commonly spell it Bolognaise, or call it spagbol or pasta sauce which circumvents the spelling issue. Either way we all love it.

I really enjoy the unique taste that the pancetta, red wine, herbs and milk bring to this dish. I've never used milk in pasta sauce before, and I'd love to know if anyone else has, or is it a trade secret of the Italian chef?  Ok, I know,  this is another pasta sauce when there are so many versions out there and I have been cooking them for a long time. This classic Italian meat sauce is now my new favourite though, and  is a speciality of Bologna in Italy. It is minus the concentrated tomato paste which is a standard ingredient in so many recipes and which I think can play havoc with our gut if eaten in combination with lots of extra garlic and onion. So if you feel a little bit unwell the day following a very rich tomato based pasta dish, blame it on the concentrated tomato paste, combined with the onion and garlic, and this recipe is the one for you. Don't blame the red wine, that couldn't be the cause of the discomfort, ha, ha. Of course it doesn't  look as red as a lot of the pasta sauces I have made, which Mr. HRK noticed and which worried me a bit, however the "proof is in the pudding" or in the taste as they say. It is delicious.  It is a great sauce also to choose for lasagna, and delivers beautifully with any homemade pasta or  tagliatelle, fettucine or short pasta such as penne. 

The other traditional pasta sauce that I have always made is thicker and and has a heavier tomato base, good for the colder weather perhaps but not as friendly for the sensitive gut. However if you are interested in taking a peek at that recipe, click on this link. and you will notice the difference in the ingredients. It still tastes delicious, but is very rich and tomato based with the secret ingredient being a can of tomato soup which helps to cut the amount of  acid in the tomatoes. 

Let's Cook:

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

2 tbs. butter
60 ml/4 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
25 g/1 oz/2 tbsp. pancetta or unsmoked bacon, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely sliced or chopped
1 celery stick, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
350 g/12 oz lean minced beef
150 ml/1/4 pint/ or 2/3 cup red wine
120 ml/4 fl. oz or 1/2 cup milk
400 g/14 oz can plum tomatoes chopped, with juice
1 bay leaf
1.5 ml/1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or use 1 tablespoon fresh basil), or both
salt and ground black pepper

Method:

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until the onion is translucent.


 Stir in the carrot, celery and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are softened.


Add the minced beef and crumble it into the vegetables with a fork. Stir until the meat loses its red colour. Season with salt and pepper. 


Pour in the wine, raise the heat slightly and cook for 3-4 minutes until the liquid evaporates. Add the milk and cook until it evaporates. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and the herbs. 


Bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered for 1 1/2-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, before serving.


This pasta sauce is sitting on a bed of Mr. HRK's homemade pasta, which he enjoys making. Here is the link to how he makes pasta if you are interested. It's delicious and soft and never fails. Combined with this sauce it is the perfect meal.

It's been raining cats and dogs here for the last 24 hours, 50 millimeters last night, or 2 inches, and just raining softly right now. It's not windy thank goodness, just lovely steady rain and cool. It's quite an unusual weather event for this time of year as we lead into Spring, and with all the essential ingredients on hand, on a wet cosy day,  this seems the perfect meal to make. The heat of Summer is just around the corner.

Music I am listening to as I write this, is the dramatic and beautiful Skyfall sung by the amazing Adele. It's the theme song from the 2016 James Bond film of the same name in case you missed it, is it really that long ago? Seems appropriate somehow right now. 

Serve this dish with some grated fresh parmesan cheese, some fresh basil that can be added to the plate, and lots of freshly ground pepper and enjoy. 

Warm wishes,

Pauline



Thursday, 26 August 2021

Lemon Crispies or Lemon Crispy Slice

 

The weekend is a chance to relax at home with a nice cuppa and something sweet and delicious to eat with it. This recipe is a trip down memory lane for me, and I make no apologies for this.  I've been eating this slice for as long as I can remember really as it is a family favourite, which started with my Mother making it for us, and then as our children grew up and loved it, I started making it. Most of the ingredients will already be in your pantry, however the secret ingredient is lightly crushed Corn Flakes. Yes my friends, Corn Flakes might not be on your breakfast list anymore but they are still on the supermarket shelves, and they give this slice a delightfully crisp biscuit base, which combined with the tangy lemon icing on top brings this slice to the party.

When our children were still living at home, our family would always love travelling to visit my Mum in Rockhampton, Central Queensland, knowing that there would be home baked cakes, biscuits and slices waiting for us on arrival. She was a great sweets cook, and a good cook in general really. She used to make this Lemon Crispy slice much earlier on and then for some reason it dropped off her baking repertoire. Mr. HRK and the children would continue to request it, however as she aged, her favourite few slices and cakes, which were all very nice, would still reappear. Perhaps she lost the recipe or perhaps her arthritic hands found it difficult to cut crisp slices in baking tins. Unfortunately, I never thought to ask Mum why she no longer baked it, because I didn't really know what it was called, except that I knew it was delicious, lemony, and contained corn flakes, which I think is the secret ingredient.



I found Mum's recipe recently when I was reading her old recipe books, which are amongst some of my most treasured possessions, and went out and bought Corn Flakes specifically so that I could make this slice. I was pretty excited I can tell you. The corn flakes give the biscuit base a crispness and slightly nutty flavour, complimented beautifully by the slightly tart lemon icing sprinkled with coconut sprinkled on top. It turned out perfectly, and Mr. HRK has given it the seal of approval. I urge you to make this, it can be ready for the oven inside 20 minutes, and only takes 20 minutes to bake as well. If you are reading this now, you could have it made in time for morning tea this morning. You will be amazed how easy it is to make, and how delicious it tastes. It's now at the top of my baking repertoire list.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups lightly crushed cornflakes
185 g. butter, melted
1 1/2 cup SR flour
3/4 cup coconut
2 tablespoons coconut, extra



Lemon icing:

2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (approx.)
15 g. butter, softened

To make the icing:


Combine sifted icing sugar with softened butter and enough lemon juice to mix to a thick spreading consistency. Keep beating the icing until very smooth and spreadable. It will spread beautifully over the hot biscuit base when cooked.

Let's cook:


1. Combine sugar, sifted flour, lightly crushed cornflakes and coconut in a bowl, and stir in the butter.
2. Press evenly with your hands or a small bottle into a greased and lined Swiss roll tin (25cmx30cm).
3. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
4. When still hot, spread with Lemon Icing, sprinkle with extra coconut.
5. Cool slice in the tin, and cut into desired sized squares when still slightly warm as it is easier to cut.



Cut into small dainty pieces, this would also be perfect served as part of a High Tea.






The secret ingredient


Warm wishes

Pauline

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Microwave Shakshuka Eggs Recipe


Shakshuka, also spelled Shakshouka or chakchouka, cooked  in the microwave oven is a real game changer. One morning, when we were in a hurry for brunch, and I had all the ingredients on hand including some very fresh free range eggs, I decided to experiment with cooking Shakshuka in the microwave.  Whilst this is delicious cooked on the stove top or in the oven it can take at least 30 minutes to cook after the initial preparation, but in the microwave it took inside 3 minutes, with the egg whites set beautifully, and the yolks just how I like them. However even better, the eggs can be cooked to everyone's individual taste, very easily this way in individual serving dishes.

Shakshuka  is a popular dish in Israel, although it is supposed to have originated from Tunisia in North Africa. If you are into having fun with words and pronunciations, Shakshuka is pronounced "shahk-SHOO-kah". This recipe is a riff on my original  Shaksuka with Eggs for a Weekend Breakfast or Brunch, which is cooked in the oven or on the stovetop. You will also find  the complete backstory on this dish at this link. If you've never eaten Shakshuka my friends, I hope you give this a try, as it is a delicious way to eat eggs in a very healthy way as well, and it will transport you to exotic locations beyond our reach at present. Treat yourself to this on the weekend when you can enjoy the preparation and the food at your leisure. Think Shakshuka, and think Middle Eastern. Go as simple as you like with this dish, or add extra ingredients to really rev it up.

Cooks tips:
  • Cook up a large amount of the tomato and vegetable sauce, separate it into portions and freeze it to make life easier for when you want to make your shakshuka. Then you will just need to add your eggs and fresh herbs.
  •  Substitute cannellini beans drained and rinsed for the tomatoes for a more hearty meal if you don't like tomatoes, or just add some beans to the tomatoes.
  • Chickpeas are a great addition as well.
  • For a more wholesome dinner dish, and to add more "hidden" vegetables, also add 1/2 a small grated zucchini and 1/2 a grated carrot or 1 finely chopped small eggplant and cook with the capsicum, chilli and garlic for about 5 minutes before adding to the tomato mixture. Increase the width of your microwave bowl if you do this. If the zucchini, carrot and capsicum are grated or chopped very finely, they can be cooked all together at the same time in the microwave with the eggs.
  • Add some chopped green olives for even more flavour if you have them on hand, not essential though.
  • I hope you realise now just how versatile shakshuka is to make, depending on what supplies are in your pantry. Eggs are generally a staple for most people aren't they?
Ingredients:

This recipe is for one serve, so just double or triple the ingredients for extra serves. This is where it's useful to have a large quantity of sauce already cooked and ready to use if you are cooking for a family.

You will need 2 medium sized microwave safe breakfast or dessert bowls to cook these in the microwave for two people.

 1 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
1/4  red capsicum, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 mild long red chilli, sliced finely or a dash of tabasco sauce if you like a bit of heat
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 can diced tomatoes, or organic cherry tomatoes (delicious), or use tomato passata (about 200 ml)
2 large eggs per person
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Tasty grated cheese
( I like lots of flavour, so if you are a bit timid about using spices reduce the amount to 1/4 teaspoon each of sweet paprika and cumin.) 
Freshly chopped mint and coriander

Method:

Coat a microwave safe breakfast or dessert bowl with olive oil using a pastry brush.

Add the tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, chilli or tabasco sauce. Using a small sifter, sift the cumin, paprika, and salt over the tomatoes for even distribution. Add the ground coriander. Season with the black pepper.

Place 2 large evenly spaced indents into the mixture with the back of large spoon, and crack an egg into each indent. Pierce the yolk of the egg with a skewer  or the end of sharp knife. (This is very important so that the egg doesn't explode in the microwave)
(This dish can  also be baked in the oven in individual ramekins if you have them, by adding some of the tomato mixture to each ramekin and then adding the eggs. )

Sprinkle tasty mature grated cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped mint over the mixture but not the egg yolks. I love grated cheese over my shakshuka.

Cover the bowl with cling film or a plate or microwave lid, and then microwave for 1 minute.

Microwave twice more for 20 seconds each, and then check if the whites are setting. Keep microwaving for 20 second bursts until the whites are set, and the egg is cooked to your individual taste. This could take about 2 minutes all up to cook. My eggs were perfect after 2 minutes.
Two small breakfast bowls should fit into your microwave for cooking at the same time.
To serve sprinkle with freshly chopped mint and coriander, and hot buttered sourdough toast, or to keep to the Middle Eastern theme, serve with Toasted Turkish bread.


Shakshuka is delicious for breakfast, but my preference is to serve it for brunch on the weekend. I also plan to make it for Sunday night dinner next week and I think I will also add a small chopped eggplant to the tomato sauce for extra flavour and texture. Eggplant  will need to be cooked prior to microwaving, it can be steamed very quickly.

This dish is healthy, full of flavour and not expensive to make. I have made a quantity of the tomato mixture to freeze so that next time I want to make it for brunch I can just defrost the tomato base, and add the eggs and make it very quickly. 

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for dropping by,

Warm wishes
Pauline



Sunday, 15 August 2021

Chickpea and Vegetable Korma Curry

There are some days when I just crave a curry. My Korma curry recipe is much the same formula as a lot of the curries I make. A little chicken or other kind of meat, a good quality curry paste, organic coconut milk, and lots of vegetables to make it more nutritious and flavoursome. 

If you like tofu, then this is the perfect dish to eat it in as well. It is also very tasty and healthy even without meat, so it's a  perfect Meat Free Monday meal for the family, and it's low in calories. Happy and healthy Monday dear readers. I hope you have a few nice things planned this week, even if you are working or in lockdown, though I realise that is challenging. 

I make most things from scratch when I cook, but not curry pastes. I'm happy to buy a good quality one from the supermarket when I need it. However there are plenty of good curry paste recipes available if you wish to. For many people now in lock down, eating out is not possible unfortunately, and whilst this recipe might not be fully authentic, it is really delicious and a cinch to make for an easy week night curry, and it doesn't cost much compared to buying take away. Curry doesn't have to be hot or spicy or expensive, just full of flavour and nutrition. We were happy to eat this a couple of nights running, it was that good.

Cooks Tips:

Buy a packet of dried chickpeas, soak them overnight in a bowl of water, then cook them the following day with a few herbs until soft but not shedding their skin, and they will be delicious in your curry. There will also be plenty left over for hummus, to eat with salads, or to add to grain salads, the skies the limit really and they are full of protein and fibre as well. However tinned chickpeas will be great for this recipe if you are short on time.

If after the first meal of this curry you have a lot of extra sauce, just add more cooked vegetables the following day to stretch it further.

The curry flavour keeps improving over a few days so it can be cooked a day ahead.

Add a handful of curry leaves to the mixture if you have them. I've mentioned before that I have a curry tree growing in our backyard, and it is a very healthy tree.

If you have some fresh turmeric, grate a little of that in too, remember though it has a strong flavour.

I've tried not to overload this curry recipe with ingredients, as simple is also delicious, however adding extra ingredients such as curry leaves, turmeric, and home cooked chickpeas will make it even more authentic.

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6 people

300 g chicken thigh fillet or lamb, diced into 2 cm pieces
2 x 400 g cans organic coconut milk
4 cups (or enough to fill a 2 litre pyrex bowl) of chopped raw vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, green beans, snow peas, zucchini, mushrooms, baby eggplant, cherry tomatoes
1 handful of curry leaves (optional)
1 cup (185 g) basmati or brown rice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
145 g korma paste ( or half a jar), choose mild, medium or hot according to your taste
1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or cook your own chickpeas from dried chickpeas after soaking them overnight)


Method:

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan, (I used a scanpan,) and place on a medium heat. Add the onion, korma paste, and chicken or other meat, if using. Saute until the onion is softened and translucent.


Add the coconut milk to the pan and stir all of the ingredients together.

Then add the chickpeas, curry leaves and the vegetables and mix into the liquid. It should just cover the vegetables.

Meanwhile place the rice on to cook.

Bring the meat, chickpeas and vegetables to the boil, and then lower the heat of the saucepan to a simmer. Cover loosely with the lid, and allow to cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are quite soft. Stir it occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.


To serve, divide the rice among the bowls, then top with the curry, a sprinkle of toasted almonds for some crunch, and coriander leaves. 

I also like to serve my curry with my homemade Mango chutney and a dollop of yoghurt. However sliced cucumber and sliced banana coated in coconut are also nice healthy sambals to serve. Frozen roti are available from the Indian supermarkets, which make a curry meal even more authentic. However it is also easy to make your own flatbreads. Find my delicious flatbread recipe at this link.

We have our second AstraZenaca jab tomorrow, it's been a long time coming, and then I will be so relieved that in a couple of weeks we will be fully vaccinated, until next year anyway. Hoping where you live that you can be fully vaccinated and starting to have confidence that travel is on the not so distant horizon.

Warmest wishes,

Pauline


















Thursday, 12 August 2021

Aussie-style Rustic Date Scones

Scones, freshly cooked and served still warm from the oven, with lashings of butter, jam and cream, are one of my favourite treats. Scones shouldn't be fussy to make. They need to be mixed quickly, baked quickly and then enjoyed. These scones only need to be eaten with a good quality butter to be enjoyed, however if jam is your jam and you have a sweet tooth then by all means eat them with jam and cream. They are at their best straight out of the oven, and are crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside and full of dates. As I took these out of the oven, I had visions of them being baked on an Australian sheep property for the shearer's smoko, or on a cattle property out west, and then seeing them devoured in one sitting by everyone. I cooked these in time for brunch this morning, I ate one, MR. HRK ate ??, well let's just say he ate more than me. Delicious with a cuppa.

Those of us living in the Anglo-Saxon world love to cook with semi-dried dates, and I tend to cook mainly date slices, date loaves, sticky date puddings, and scones, as I just don't have access to the wonderful selection of fresh dates available in the Middle Eastern World although they can be found at some  fruit and vegetable shops and IGAs. It is so easy to grab a packet of dates from the supermarket shelves as we whizz past with our trolleys,  the best quality dates available at our supermarkets being the Medjool dates. However to be economical which is important at times when making puddings or scones for a family, most semi-dried dates with stones removed will do. Date palms are still treated reverently in the Middle East, as dates have been an essential food for thousands of years for the Arab people. Dates have a high sugar content, and are often used in recipes to replace sugar, however in this recipe I use both, with a minimal amount of sugar. Certainly for those people now in lockdown who enjoy cooking, semi-dried dates are wonderful to have on hand for a variety of dishes, and will last for months stored in an air-tight container. Unfortunately they are not that great to snack on.

This recipe is my contribution to International Scone Week, hosted by Tandy of Lavender and Lime. #ISW2021 was started in 2011 by the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and is now maintained by Tandy.

This recipe is based on one from Katherine de Pury at Yeringberg vineyard at Coldstream in Victoria's Yarra Valley.

Ingredients:

(Makes 10 scones)

 250 g self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

pinch of salt

20 g chilled butter

2 tablespoons caster sugar

250 g dates, stones and chopped

3 tablespoons buttermilk (Add a little more if you need to.)

3 tablespoons water

Freshly grated nutmeg, so very aromatic

Method:

Preheat your oven to 210 deg. C. and grease a baking tray. Dust with flour.

Sift the SR flour, grated nutmeg and salt together, then rub in the butter.

Add the sugar and the dates.

Combine the buttermilk and the water and add into the flour with a knife which will create a a soft but firm dough.

Knead this mixture together quickly, then press out onto a floured bench and cut into squares. Mine will be cut into squares next time, instead of rectangles, however they still taste the same regardless.

Bake for 7 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 deg. C and leave them to cook a further 8 minutes until golden.

Happy International Scone Week.

Check out my other Aussie Damper scones which are also delicious, and without the fruit.

Warm wishes,

Pauline