9 January 2019

Spicy Hot Prawn & Apple Curry - friskier than a spring lamb!

I have had this recipe sitting waiting to be published since for ever, it seems.  The trouble is, you see, Christmas and new year got right in the way and I lost touch with reality.  *chuckle*  No, reality has always been right here - I just got distracted for a while.

So here you are all those people who were so keen to have the recipe.  I do apologise for the time it has taken.

The curry is a touch different from the norm in its use of apple, but it gives such a lovely fruity tang that goes so well with the tomato, tamarind, red onion and coconut. Some of those ingredients also give off a sweetness which somehow boosts the flavour of the prawns. Lots of savoury flavours as well, of course, from garlic, coriander, ginger, turmeric and the curry powder - which included a small amount of Tikka curry powder, prevent it from becoming too sweet and naturally the hot spiciness from the red chillis combined with the ginger and spicy curry to make this lovely light textured prawn curry super frisky! Not so frisky that it melts anything, but enough to clear the sinuses. Can't be bad!


Ingredients :

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp plus a half tbsp salted butter 
1-2 red onions, depending on size, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
sea salt
ground black pepper
a quarter tsp of ground cinnamon
4 cherry tomatoes, diced
1 sharp eating apple (I used Braeburn), peeled, cored & diced small
3 tsp medium curry powder
1 tsp tikka curry powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
a pinch of dried red chilli flakes (to taste)
500ml hot water plus more as required
1 tbsp tamarind sauce
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaf plus a little for garnish
half tsp honey (to taste)
325g cooked, peeled, cold water large prawns, defrosted and drained if pre-frozen
hot white Basmati rice to serve.

Method :

Melt the coconut oil and butter in a large frying pan and add the onions & garlic.  Fry on a medium heat until the onions are transparent and just beginning to caramelise and the garlic is fragrant.  This shouldn't take too long if the onions have been chopped finely enough.  Part way through the cooking, add the sea salt, black pepper and cinnamon and stir through.

Once the onions and garlic are cooked to your satisfaction, add the cherry tomatoes and apple and cook on until the tomatoes are beginning to soften and break up.

Add the curry powder, turmeric, ginger and red chilli flakes and stir through.  Cook on for about 5 more minutes, to allow the spices to amalgamate and lose their uncooked flavour.  Add the water, tamarind sauce and fresh coriander and stir through.

Cook at a simmer, stirring regularly, until the ingredients have all amalgamated into a sauce and the sauce has reduced to a good thick consistency.  This can take around 20 mins, perhaps a bit longer depending on how much juice the tomatoes had and how much water you added.

Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt, or black pepper, or chilli flakes as necessary.  Taste again and add the honey if required.  Stir everything through once more.

When you are happy with the flavour and consistency of the sauce, add the prawns and increase the temperature under the pan, to heat the prawns through.  You aren't looking to cook them as they've already been cooked - just heat them through to piping hot.

Serve the curry with the white basmati rice and sprinkle the remainder of the coriander over the top as garnish.

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30 November 2018

Pork And Apple Pie - think a lighter textured pork pie!

The moment I saw this recipe in the Take a Break - My Favourite Recipes magazine, I knew I had to give it a go.  I've done a couple of variations on a pork and apple pie already - Kentish Pie and Ham & Apple Pie - both of which are really popular with the family, so I reckoned this would also be a hit.  Little did I know just how much of a hit it would prove to be!  It's hard to say which way I like it best - room temperature, or direct from the fridge.  All I know is that it is delicious and especially good with mustard or piccalilli!

Of course, apart from the delicious flavour of this pie and the lightness of the gorgeous pastry, one of the very best things about it is just how simple it is to make.  I suppose it all hinges on your using a tasty sausagemeat for it as you won't get good things back if you don't put good things in to begin with!  I picked a 72% pork sausagemeat, which was seasoned with sage, nutmeg, mace and black pepper.  Inevitably, I tinkered about with the quantities, plus I used smoked back bacon, which inevitably has more flavour than unsmoked and more meat than fat, I swapped the leek for a small red onion because hubby hates leek and also added more sage until my nose told me there was enough.

Contrary to the original recipe, I pan fried the bacon before adding it to the filling mix as I was a bit nervous about it discharging too much water in the cooking.  I also baked the pie in a loose bottomed sandwich tin (the recipe states to bake it free form on a baking tray) basically because my crimping is rubbish and I would have hated for it to have come apart during the baking or got washed away by all the water from the bacon.

All of my tinkering about with the recipe worked perfectly, resulting in a nicely shaped, full of filling, golden baked pie that will grace our Boxing Day buffet table very nicely thank you.  It will be lovely with the pickles and salad that accompanies the cold meats and cheeses and make a fabulous centre piece for the table.

Many thanks to Laurie Burley of Cornwall for sending in her delicious pie recipe to the magazine - I know it has instantly become a family favourite!

PORK AND APPLE PIE   (serves 6)

Ingredients :

For the pastry :

225g plain flour
140g cold diced butter
a pinch of sea salt
a quarter tsp of black pepper
1 tsp English mustard powder
2 egg yolks kept separate - one for the pastry and another for glazing
2 tbsp or thereabouts, of cold water (I used carbonated mineral water).

For the filling :

400g of your favourite pork sausagemeat
100g smoked back bacon, finely diced
1 sharp eating apple (I used a Braeburn), peeled, cored and finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 heaped tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp dried sage
half a tsp ground black pepper.

Method :

Using a food processor (you can opt to rub in the butter, if you prefer), put the flour, diced butter, sea salt, black pepper and mustard powder in to the bowl and whizz for as long as it takes to get to tiny breadcrumb stage.  Add the one egg yolk and half the water and blitz again.  You are aiming for the crumbs to clump together and form a mass.  You may need to add the remainder of the water and continue blitzing until the clumps form.  Don't add too much water too soon, or you will potentially end up with a too wet mixture.  Some loose mixture is acceptable as it will all come together in the cling film.

Spread a large piece of cling film out across the worktop and tip the contents of the processor on top.  Fold the cling film over the top and gently press and pat the pastry together so that it forms a cohesive whole.  Then fold each end up to seal and place into the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190degC/375degF/Gas 5.

Heat a frying pan and add the diced bacon.  Dry fry until all the moisture has evaporated and the pieces are beginning to turn golden.  Set aside.

Taking a large bowl, add the sausagemeat, cooked bacon, diced apple, diced onion, chopped parsley, dried sage and pepper.  Using your hand, squish and mix the ingredients together until everything is evenly distributed.  Try not to massage the mixture into a lump, but keep the texture light and broken up.

Reclaim your pastry from the fridge and roll out half of it to line an 8" sandwich tin - a loose bottomed one helps to get the pie out at the end of baking.  Trim the pastry off neatly and level with the top edge of the tin.

Place the sausagemeat mixture gently into the pastry case and distribute it evenly, making sure to not press down too hard.  Remember, you want to keep the texture light.  Level off with the top of the tin.

Taking your egg intended for glazing, brush a little egg around the inside edge of the small amount of pastry above the level of the meat.

Roll out the second piece of pastry and place over the top of the tin to create the pie's lid.  Ease the pastry down onto the top of the meat filling and press lightly to create a seal around the edge where the egg wash is.  Trim off neatly and crimp the edges in a pretty pattern.

Cut a cross into the centre of the pastry and turn back each quarter of the cross, to allow the steam to escape whilst baking.  You can decorate the surface with pastry leaves or whatever you want, at this stage.

Finally, egg wash the surface of the pastry and place into the oven for 30 minutes.  When the time is up, reduce the oven temperature down to 170degC/325degF/gas 3 and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre of the meat sends back some resistance, indicating that the meat is cooked, and the pie is lovely and golden in colour.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack.  While the pie is still quite warm, remove from the tin (this is where the loose bottomed tin comes in SO handy) and gently place back onto the wire rack to cool.

Serve at room temperature with pickles and salad, or chips and baked beans.  The pie is just as good served directly from the fridge, to have with pickles and salad or to take on a picnic.

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25 October 2018

Latin American Chicken - frisky, fruity and delicious

Well, colour me surprised and extremely impressed by this recipe.  Some recipes you can look at and immediately imagine the flavours, know how it is likely to look, what consistency the sauce will be etc. This one, I had a good idea of the flavours but I couldn't, for the life of me, think what sort of consistency it would turn out to be and whether the flavours would be intense or somewhat wishy-washy.  You see, I have something of a past history with wishy-washy tomato based chicken dishes.  *coughs behind hand*  Moving on ....

I don't remember finding this recipe, but it was there in my "new recipes" folder on my computer so I obviously spotted it at some point and saved it for future reference.  As you do.  I have so many recipes saved that I have had to categorise them to within an inch of their lives in order to keep control.  Without the blessed categories, there'd be recipes romping unchecked everywhere as soon as I got past the opening window, I'm sure of it.  Anyway, there it was (here, if you're curious) and originally intended to be a recipe for the slow cooker.

Now although - as you know - I do have a slow cooker, in this instance it wouldn't have been a lot of use as I was cooking for just the two of us and the ingredients would have got lost in my big old crockpot.  Whatever you can cook in a slow cooker can be cooked in an oven, so that's where it ended up and (ssssshhh, don't tell anyone) but I think it may have been all the better for it, too.

As a matter of necessity, I tweaked the recipe remorselessly.  Things such as leaf coriander went out of the window, in favour of ground coriander, as my chaps really don't like leaf coriander.  I didn't have any allspice, so in went a combination of cinnamon, mace and a bit more ground coriander for luck.  For all that I did have a can of black beans, it would have made way too much so I swapped them out for a small can of red kidney beans and crossed my fingers.

The bit I was having trouble with, was knowing quite how the sauce would turn out - and indeed, if I would wind up with any sauce at all.  You see, apart from a small amount of chicken stock and a much larger amount of spicy salsa (for which, I used Asda's salsa in a jar) plus any juice that might leach out from the red pepper and sweet potatoes, there wasn't any identifiable "sauce" as such.  Now, cooked in a slow cooker, this wouldn't be such an issue as they do tend to water their contents down through returning the steam back into the pot as condensation.  I decided the best thing was to prevent the loss of steam created during the cooking process and covered the casserole dish with a tight sheet of silver foil under the lid.  Oh and crossed my fingers.  Essential bit of cooking technology, that.  Well hurrah for crossed fingers, because it worked!

The end result had just enough sauce to keep the contents nicely moistened, the chicken soft and tender and with the final addition of a squeeze of lime juice, was sooooo blinking delicious!  Plus, of course, the added benefit that other than a bit of chicken frying the cooking was a simple matter of heating everything up in the chicken pan, pouring it into the casserole dish and waving goodbye to it for an hour and a half.  Take fifteen minutes of that time to cook some rice and ~back of hand to forehead~ oh the stress!  SLAVING over a hot stove (a.k.a. reading my book in the living room) whilst the dinner cooked.  Perfect.

Do, by all means, feel free to cook the original incarnation of this recipe if it appeals, but I have noted down my version of it below, which is of course a whole lot better.  *wink*  If you prefer chicken thighs, you'll possibly need to increase the cooking time by a half hour or so, depending on how big and muscly your chicken is.


Ingredients :

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
sea salt
ground black pepper
1 tsp plus 1 tsp ground coriander
2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
1 red pepper, de-seeded and cut into strips
1 large clove of garlic, sliced finely
1 200g tin of red kidney beans, drained
200ml chicken stock (made with 1 stock cube or 1 tsp stock powder)
200g spicy salsa from a jar
half a tsp of ground cumin
half a tsp of ground cinnamon
half a tsp of ground mace
a pinch of dried red chilli flakes (to taste)
a small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
lime wedges, for garnish.

Method :

To begin with, pre-heat your oven to 180degC/350degF/gas 4.

Then, take each chicken breast and cut it in half horizontally so that you end up with two much thinner pieces of chicken for each breast.  This will ensure the chicken cooks evenly.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a moderate/high heat and lay each piece of chicken inside.  Quickly sprinkle with half of one of the tsp of ground coriander and a pinch of sea salt & black pepper, turn the chicken and repeat for the other side.  Fry the chicken until golden on the one side, then turn it over and complete the frying on the other side.  If the chicken isn't quite cooked through it doesn't matter as it will complete cooking in the oven.  Once golden on both sides, remove the chicken to a lidded casserole dish and reserve.

Tip the sweet potatoes, red pepper and garlic into the frying pan - add a little more rapeseed oil if necessary - and fry until the garlic is golden, the potatoes have coloured in places and the red pepper has begun to soften - around 5-10 minutes.

Add the red kidney beans, stock, salsa, remaining ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, mace and chilli flakes and stir through.  Bring to a boil and add a little more water if necessary, as it can evaporate quite quickly.  Pour the contents into the casserole dish and stir through.

Cover the casserole dish with a tight fitting layer of silver foil and the casserole lid and place into the middle of your oven for 1.5 hours.  I would advise checking the liquid level after an hour, just in case your sealing hasn't quite worked!  If necessary, top up with a little water or chicken stock.

I served mine with basmati rice that had been cooked in vegetable stock, with a few added peas and a very naughty knob of butter melted through.  Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and add a couple of lime wedges for squeezing.  Scrummy!

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