20 January 2016

Turkey and apple curry - a variation upon a theme

If, perhaps, you have come here via the Recipe Index page of this blog, you may well have noticed that I have two recipes for turkey curry.  This is owing to the fact that today I decided to make the already existing, part Marco Pierre White, part my own, authored curry - but it turned into something else.  Oh it is still very much a curry - but a very different tasting one to the original.

This one is sharper, more zesty, with a smoother coconut flavour and without the butter or cream.  So, potentially, better for you I suppose!

I also started off differently, using raw turkey breast (which is enticingly priced in the shops, at the moment) instead of Christmas roast turkey leftovers.  I think I sort of freestyled thereafter!

I thoroughly enjoyed the lighter nature of this curry and the menfolk all cleared their plates, so they obviously agreed.


All I can suggest, when trying to decide between the two curries, is to look at each recipe's ingredients list and decide which one you like the look of the most.  Or alternatively, which one you already have the most ingredients for!


TURKEY AND APPLE CURRY   (serves 3-4)

Ingredients :

2 tbsp sunflower, peanut or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 sweet white onion, cut into large chunks
2 big fat cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 red chilli, chopped finely and de-seeded if you prefer your curry milder
half a tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt (use smoked if you've got it)
500g raw turkey breast, cut into bite sized chunks
1 Braeburn (or similarly tart) apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 large tomato, diced
3 tbsp Patak's Korma curry paste
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 Knorr chicken stock pot (a chicken stock cube will do, but the more chickeny the better)
2-300ml water
1 good tbsp of lemon juice
1 tsp ground turmeric
30g creamed coconut
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander.

Method :

In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil until a piece of onion will sizzle.  Add the onions, garlic and chilli and fry for 10-15 minutes over a moderate heat until the onions are beginning to turn golden.  Keep the contents of the pan moving, so as to prevent the garlic from burning.

Add the cinnamon and sea salt part way through the frying.

Push the onion mixture to the side of the pan, add a little more oil and increase the heat.  Add the turkey breast pieces to the empty side of the pan and fry until golden on at least three sides.  Mix the onions in with the turkey.

Reduce the heat back to moderate and add the apple and tomato and cook on for a few moments.

Add the curry paste and tomato puree and stir through.  Continue to fry and stir until you can see the oil beginning to separate.

Add the chicken stock pot (minus its pot, obviously), water, lemon juice and ground turmeric and stir gently through.  Allow the mixture to simmer - stirring regularly to prevent the curry catching on the bottom of the pan - for a good 15-20 minutes.  Keep your eye on the fluid levels, you should be aiming for a slightly wetter mix than you would want to serve.

Finally, add the creamed coconut and chopped coriander and stir through.  The sauce will thicken as the coconut cooks, you can add more water if it becomes too stiff.  Once the sauce is at your preferred texture, your curry is ready to serve.

Serve with hot white basmati rice and a sprinkle of chopped coriander as garnish.

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18 January 2016

Chicken La Mancha - well this is something different!


I have no compunction in owning up to the fact that the original recipe for this truly wonderful dish, came from my favourite BBC Good Food website, here.  However, don't think that I'm stealing their thunder, because although I did make some slight changes to the recipe, that's not the reason why I'm recording it here.

I'm recording my "adjusted" recipe here because it was so flipping good, I don't want to lose it!  You know what websites are like - they can up and disappear overnight - and I'd hate to lose this one.

Now this recipe really is something a little bit different.  It is basically a Spanish sweet and sour chicken recipe - but don't think oriental at all.  Instead think saffron, orange juice, chilli and olives.  It also has the benefit of not involving any sweet peppers at all.  Not that I have a problem with sweet peppers, it just makes a pleasant change to not have to put them into something "Spanish".   What makes it "sweet and sour" is the combination of sherry vinegar (my first time using that - and I love it!) and runny honey.  Now I will say, you do need to like saffron for this one.  Happily, I love it - it's by far and away my favourite of all the spices.  If you're going to be picky, then Spanish La Mancha Saffron is the best type to use for this recipe.  However, don't break your neck trying to find some - any old saffron is better than none, but do try to use the saffron threads rather than ground saffron.

The recipe is simplicity itself to both prepare for and make - it's another of my favourite "sit in one place and add ingredients to a pan in the right order" recipes.  I like those.

It is most important that you reduce the sauce down to a syrupy consistency.  It tastes good in the early, wetter, stage - but once you've reduced it down to being syrupy, my goodness but the flavour becomes so intense.  I had a hard job to not taste it too often!

The next time I make it, I may very well include some sliced mushrooms - so you'll see I've included them in the recipe.  The original recipe uses some toasted pine nuts and fresh coriander by way of garnish, however I didn't bother with either of these - I just sprinkled on some chopped parsley.


I served mine with plain white rice, but it could easily have taken some broccoli or green beans as a side dish, or been served with a side salad and some bread to mop up the sauce.

CHICKEN LA MANCHA   (serves 3)

Ingredients :

a large pinch of saffron (Spanish saffron, ideally)
½ chicken stock cube, crumbled into 100ml boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 red chilli, chopped and seeds removed if you prefer
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
half a tsp of ground cinnamon
150ml orange juice
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp clear honey
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 courgette, quartered and diced
4 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
6 stoned green olives, halved
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish.

Method :

In a small bowl, add the saffron to the hot stock and leave to soak.

Heat the oil in a good sized frying pan and cook the onion, garlic and chilli until the onion is soft and just beginning to turn golden.

Push the onion mixture to one side of the pan and add the chicken. Cook on a fairly high heat for a few minutes until the chicken is browned all over.

Reduce the heat, add the cinnamon and stir through.

Add the saffron stock, orange juice, vinegar, honey, tomatoes, courgettes, olives and raisins. Increase the heat to bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes or until the sauce is reduced and the chicken and vegetables are cooked through.

Serve with a scattering of chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

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3 January 2016

Diced pork with parsnips & celery in cider (oven version)


Yes, this is a pretty much identical dish to the slow cooker pork shoulder with parsnips & celery in cider - except cooked in the oven.

Sometimes, it's just easier to use a casserole dish in the oven than to break out the mighty weighty slow cooker (or crockpot) - especially when you're going to be indoors and available to keep a wether eye on the oven.  Today was just such a day and as I'd not cooked the pork this way before, I thought I'd indulge.
  
Instead of using the pork shoulder, I cheated unmercifully and bought 500g of diced pork which turned out to be lean and very acceptable indeed.  I shall use that again.


Aside from that, I used a different type of cider - Thatcher's Red Apple Cider.  It did give the dish a worryingly pink hue to begin with, however the colour cooked out as we went along.  The Red Apple Cider is a sweeter version than I would normally have chosen, but it worked very nicely.  I also increased the herbage in the recipe - using sage, thyme and rosemary to just offset the sweetness a tiny bit.  Our smoked salt helped a little there, too.

It sounds a bit like I made a totally different dish, having said all that - but it really isn't.  I served the pork with mashed potato and steamed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, baby corn and Brussels sprouts) and once again, it made a very good Sunday dinner.



Here is the recipe, just in case you too have a non-slow cooker day!

PORK WITH PARSNIPS & CELERY IN CIDER   (serves 3-4)

Ingredients :

2 tbsp olive oil
500g diced lean pork
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch or two of ground black pepper
1 onion, diced finely
2 celery sticks, chopped small
half a tsp dried thyme
half a tsp dried rosemary
half a tsp dried sage
1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced evenly
2 tbsp plain flour
500ml medium or dry cider
200ml stock (I used ham stock, but chicken, pork or veggie would do fine).

Method :

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan until very hot.  Add the pork (cooking in batches if needs be, so as not to overcrowd the pan), season with salt and pepper and fry until golden on at least two sides.  Remove the pork from the pan using a slotted spoon and decant into a casserole dish with a lid.

Replace the remains of the oil onto the heat and reduce the heat to moderate.

Add the onion, celery and herbs and fry until the onion is softened, but without colouring.

Add the parsnip pieces and fry to get some heat into them.

In a small bowl, mix the plain flour with a little of the cider - just enough to create a free running mixture.

Pour the remaining cider into the pan and add the stock.  Increase the heat under the pan and, while the liquid is heating, drizzle in the flour/cider mix.  Stir well to prevent lumps forming.

Continue to stir until the sauce thickens.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Decant into the casserole dish, stir to distribute the pork evenly then cover and place into a pre-heated oven at 180degC/350degF/Gas 4 for 1 hour.

At the end of the hour, give the contents of the casserole a stir and replace into the oven with the lid off.  The casserole can now continue to cook for a minimum of another half an hour, or as long as until the meat is tender and the parsnips cooked through.

Serve with mashed potato and steamed vegetables of your choice.

Printable version

30 December 2015

Bacon with Red Pepper Pesto Pasta - done in a twinkling!

What a success this one proved to be!  Mind you, I don't know why I'm sounding surprised because it uses three of my favourite things - bacon, mushrooms and Asda's ricotta & red pepper pesto.  To my way of thinking, it was a winner before I even took my knife to the bacon.  However, sometimes what seems like the perfect combination of ingredients turns out to leave a little to be desired in one way or another - but happily, not so here.  Plus, of course, it has the added bonus of being simplicity itself to prepare.

Oh and as a little aside, have you noticed how often my food seems to turn out to be orange coloured? I don't try to make it that way, honest I don't, it seems as though my choice of ingredients has a marked lean towards the orange.  But then, the menfolk grumble if there's too much green on the plate, grumble again if I serve them "brown food" and would justifiably grumble at being served black food, so aside from white I guess that just leaves the red/yellow/orange palette as there's not too many blue foods out there!  So this one is following along in the tradition of being the seemingly man-friendly colour of orange. 

Now, let me recommend to you Asda's little pot of Ricotta & Red Pepper pesto.  This seemingly unassuming little jar contains one of the most delicious substances that I have used in everything from sandwiches to pasta.  Along with the rich ricotta and flavoursome red pepper, it also has a sneaky little bite from red chilli that just makes it glorious.  I would be very happy if you were all to rush out and buy some, love it and continue buying it, as that would mean it will stay around on the shelves for ever!

The pesto marries up with bacon perfectly, of course.  The celery adds a welcome freshness that prevents the dish from becoming too heavy on the palate and the addition of the small amount of sour cream helps to loosen the pesto into a sauce without impinging on the flavour at all.


I call this one a very definite win.  The empty bowls and enquiries as to whether there was any left, gave proof to that belief, too.  As a mid-week, easy, relatively cheap dinner, you can't go wrong.

BACON WITH RED PEPPER PESTO PASTA   (serves 3)

Ingredients :

1 tbsp olive oil
350g smoked back bacon, trimmed of fat and diced
1 large onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
2 sticks of celery, diced finely
black pepper
half a tsp dried oregano
200g quartered mushrooms 
190g jar red pepper & ricotta pesto
1 tbsp sour cream
200ml water
250g dried pasta shapes - tubes are good.

Method :

Heat the olive oil in a large deep sided frying pan and add the bacon.  Fry over a high heat until all the moisture has evaporated and the bacon is cooked through.

Reduce the heat to moderate and add the onion, garlic and celery, along with a pinch of black pepper and the oregano.  Fry until the onion is transparent and the celery is beginning to soften.

Add the mushrooms and continue to fry until they are beginning to soften.

Three quarters fill a large saucepan with water and add a pinch of salt.  Bring to the boil and once boiling, add the dried pasta.  Remember to give the pasta a stir every so often to ensure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, or to manufacturer's instructions.

Add the contents of the pesto jar to the bacon mix, along with 100ml of water (you can use it to rinse out the pesto jar, so as to get every last little bit!) and stir to combine.

Once the ingredients are looking mixed, stir in the sour cream.  Simmer on a very low heat until the pasta is ready.  You may need to add a little more water from time to time to keep the mixture saucy.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it well and return it to the hot saucepan.  Take the bacon mixture and decant it on top of the pasta and stir gently, but thoroughly, through.

Serve in warmed bowls with some garlic bread to accompany.

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28 December 2015

Devilled Eggs - now I understand the attraction

I know that people have different opinions of Facebook, however, I love it.  It has enabled me to find out more about what ordinary people in other countries eat, than ever any cookbook would have done.  One of the most regular dishes that I've seen occur across the United States and Canada (ex-pats included) is the humble devilled egg.  Now it turns out that devilled eggs were being served as far back as Ancient Roman times and it seems that just about every country that has chickens, has a recipe for their own version of devilled eggs.

Now I had never experienced a devilled egg, even though I knew they had been popular in this country at one time.  I was intrigued.

Photo by Morgan Davies-Scorer
Eggs are one of my very favourite foods.  I'm well known for declaring that "you'll never be hungry with an egg in the house", such is my confidence in the little lovelies.  Son and heir is also partial to an egg, but with hubby we have to be careful as he is quite obviously on the allergic side of sensitive as regards them.  Consequently, making devilled eggs has never been top of my list.  Until this Christmas when I couldn't stand not knowing any longer and decided to make some.

Photo by Morgan Davies-Scorer
Okay, so now I understand the attraction.  Obviously, you have to like all the component parts of a hard boiled egg to appreciate them.  That's no problem for me, I used to take a hard boiled egg to school for my playtime snack (feel sorry for my classmates, some of those eggs were quite whiffy!).  There's something so moreish about the rich unctuousness of the filling.  The savoury yolk, mixing with the creamy mayonnaise, tangy vinegar, mustardy warmth, buttery richness and the final hit of enlivening chilli from the hot sauce, all encased in the coolness of the set egg white.  Oh and a quick word about the Mic's Chilli "Of Foam & Fury" hot sauce.  Because it has a degree of India Pale Ale as an ingredient, it added an interestingly hoppy angle to the end flavour.  I recommend it!  A devilled egg is so simple - and as with all things simple, so good.

I might have come late to this particular party, but I can see I shall be making up for lost time where devilled eggs are concerned.  I wonder if I've time to put a couple on to hard boil now ....


DEVILLED EGGS   (makes 8 halves)

Ingredients :

4 eggs, hard boiled and shelled
1 tsp English mustard powder
a pinch of ground black pepper
1 tsp soft salted butter
half a tsp celery salt
hot sauce, to taste (I used a quarter tsp Mic's Chilli "Of Foam & Fury" hot sauce)
1 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
half a tsp white wine vinegar
cayenne pepper and fresh parsley, to garnish.

Method :

Cut each egg in half lengthwise (trying to achieve bisecting the yolk in each case).

Gently scoop out the yolk into a bowl, leaving the white intact.

Take a super-fine slice from the underside of the egg, so that it will stand straight on a plate, then reserve.

Break the yolk down into a powder with a fork and add all the ingredients other than the cayenne and parsley.

Mix gently until all is well combined and you have a fairly smooth consistency.

Either fill a piping bag with the mixture, or spoon the mixture carefully into the empty egg whites.  Make sure you gain some height with the filling.

Sprinkle each with a tiny pinch of cayenne and garnish with a parsley leaf.

Refrigerate if the eggs are going to have to wait to be served.

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