Tuesday 29 January 2013

Aldi half leg of lamb, slow cooked

I had been planning to do Littl'Un's favourite oxtail for some time, but the delivery at Papa's shop didn't arrive, and I was out and about at a knitting drop-in but not near enough to any larger supermarkets to go look for oxtail there, so I popped into Aldi and saw a great price on some nice looking lamb.

I seared the joint on all sides and then put it in my slow cooker.  I then quartered a couple of onions, added some olives that had been hanging around - some from the fridge and some from a jar at the back of the cupboard, and then I sprinkled over some ground cinnamon and marigold powder and finally added a tin of chopped tomatoes. I did swill the tin round with some red wine that was already open and set aside for cooking, but this wasn't exactly necessary.  I then put the lid on and set the cooker onto high, and then left it alone.

I was then out for most of the day, which is good as I do sometimes find if I'm in the house while the food is cooking all day I sort of "go off" the flavour from smelling it all day.  I left instructions with GodPapa as to what to do to make the accompaniment for the 2 littler children who were at home with him, as I realised Papa, Big'Un and I would be out past our usual supper time.

About 10 minutes before they wanted to eat, GodPapa toasted a premeasured amount of couscous in the pan in which I had previously seared the lamb joint.  He added some marigold, a can of chickpeas and then the same volume of water, or slightly more, brought it to the boil and switched the heat off, covering the pan.  After 5-6 minutes the couscous had fluffed up, and he stirred through some sour pomegranate seeds which had been peeled the day before but were too sour to just eat as a fruit.

The whole dish was comforting, hearty and bursting with flavour and incredibly low in actual work to cook it!  There was also plenty of meat left after we had all eaten our fill, which I'm planning to reheat and serve with tagliatelle and some extra veg.

Monday 21 January 2013

Indo-Chinese not so chilli paneer

I had been hankering after a dish I've had in a couple of Indian eateries which I had no idea how to begin cooking, and also I knew I'd need to calm it down for the kids, and my decreasing chilli tolerance.  I did a bit of a Google and found out it is one of the interesting and completely unique Indo-Chinese dishes I have experienced when visiting family in Calcutta.  There is a fairly large Chinese community in Calcutta, originally based in the tannery areas, and the combination of Chinese food and Bengali tastes and ingredients led to some very regionally specific dishes. This style dish is made with chicken or paneer or tofu, and is delicious and easy. It is becoming more common in some Indian (NOT the Bangladeshi type) restaurants, and would be found under the name "Chilli Paneer" and my recipe would be very easy to re-chilli.  I adapted 2 or 3 of the different recipes I found to suit my own tastes. Oh and apparently it is often cooked with green pepper, which of course I can't/don't eat, so I put sweetcorn in instead.  I'm sure other veg would work such as courgette, green beans, baby corn or whatever takes your fancy!

1 pack paneer (I use Long Clawson from the supermarket which is 227g I think)
3 or 4 cloves garlic (or 1 clove and 1 large cube frozen garlic puree)
1 inch ginger, grated (or 1 large cube frozen ginger puree - often in supermarkets with ethnic foods)
half a bunch of spring onions
1 small red onion
1 cup of frozen sweetcorn
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs soya sauce - Kikkoman
1 tsp vinegar, malt is fine 
2 tbs groundnut oil or similar
salt, pepper, chilli flakes
1 tbs cornflour

Start off by dicing up the paneer and putting it in a dish in one layer.  Finely chop or grate 1 clove of garlic and spread over the paneer.  Season with salt, pepper and the chilli flakes to taste.  I used VERY little.

Put the cornflour in a mug and add 5 tbs of water.  Mix well and pour over the paneer, toss them around briefly and ensure it is still in one layer.  Leave to marinade for 10 minutes.

Use the 10 minutes to chop the spring onions separating the white and green parts to use separately.  Chop the red onion too.  At this point I defrosted the frozen ginger and pureed the remaining garlic also.

Now heat a nonstick frying pan or saute pan with 1 tbs of the oil and fry the paneer, reserving the marinade.  Make sure you turn the pieces so 2 or 3 sides are browned and crisp.  At this point, try not to have no one but BigUn looking after Tiny, and Tiny has a nosebleed and BigUn isn't sure what to do or your paneer might burn. Luckily, BigUn was fine...and so was Tiny, and so was the paneer...

Remove with a slotted spoonand set aside, and add the 2nd tbs of oil if needed.  Now on a lower heat, fry the red onion and the white part of the spring onion until the onion is soft and transluscent.  Now add the garlic & ginger purees and fry on a slightly higher heat until the garlic no longer smells raw.  Now add the sweetcorn (or vegetable of your desire!)  If you were wanting to spice things up, now would be a good time to add some chopped green chilli, or red chilli etc.

Add the ketchup, soy sauce and vinegar, and add the paneer back in.  Stir and coat well and add half a mug of water. Heat the sauce up and then add the marinade too.  The sauce will thicken up very quickly, but you can always thin it down or add more of any of the sauces to taste.  Add the green part of the spring onion to serve.

We had this with bought naan bread and pitta breads, it is dryish, but you could as easily toss it through some noodles.  Big Un split her pitta and stuffed it full of paneer and ate it faster than a blink! I will admit Tiny Un really didn't even try this, but he enjoyed his pitta bread.  I guess it wasn't a protein day for him! Can't win them all.  Papa loved it and said he could easily have eaten the whole panful...

So who's wondering about Littl'Un? Thank you for asking! She was at Rainbows and had had cheese on toast before hand!

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Oat Frackles (strawberry banana)

The baby likes to copy his sisters and eat a banana, but after the novelty of the first time, he never has more than a few bites. I also noticed the strawberry melts in the cookie cupboard and thought they'd make a nice twist to a plainish idea. This is what I came up with, it was a great little midweek pudding.
Somewhere between a flapjack and a fairy cake with a cookie like crust.
A great way to use up some of that bag of jumbo oats I bought instead of regular porridge oats which no one will eat for breakfast cos they turn out too chewy and husky.

6 yellow scoops (my yellow scoop is a coffee scoop we measure the girls' porridge with, it's over a tablespoon) jumbo oats
2 heaped Chinese spoons SR flour (I have plastic Chinese spoons in my flour containers, a heaped spoon is about 2oz usually)
3-4 tbs sugar 1 mashed banana (minus the bit baby nibbled)
2 squirts stork liquid
Some strawberry melts

Mix all together, mashing banana as you go. Spoon into 12 fairy cake cases Bake 15-20 mins at 200 deg.