Monday, 22 December 2014
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
I often get a pack of meatballs in one of the 3for£10 deals but as the family appetites have increased, a pack of 12 really doesn't go very far! One day a week I feed only myself and the 3 kids but even then 3 meatballs per person isn't always enough!
I was looking for a way to make them go further and it occurred to me I could adapt the wonderful chicken and ham pasta bake from Gill Holcombe's excellent first book, thereby also saving me from the bit of cooking I for some reason really dislike, which is boiling and draining pasta!
Fry a pack of meatballs in a wide shallow pan (if you have one which is oven-safe you can save on washing up too!)
Once they are browned on all sides, add a finely chopped onion and sliced garlic if liked.
Add a handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms if you wish also.
Now open a litre carton of tomato juice and pour out a glassful. Save this for a Bloody Mary or just a refreshing drink later. Now pour the rest of the carton into the pan and stir in about half a pack of cream cheese until it is all melted in. You may wish to add any herbs or Marigold powder or other seasoning as wished.
Now add uncooked pasta shapes, about a handful per person, or premeasured if you prefer. Mix well. Then either pour into a baking dish, or if the pan is oven safe just put it straight in the oven at 180°C for 25-30 minutes, top with grated cheese and maybe some crushed crisps. Bake for another 10-15 mins and the pasta should be perfectly cooked. Serve with a salad or a cooked green veg.
Saturday, 17 May 2014
But I still add pics to my various social networking sites, and when I get lovely feedback, it impels me to update this blog.
I had a really good time making supper yesterday, having been through a bit of a slump of lack of inspiration and tiredness, and with Godpapa's suggestion of serving the meal on thalis, the meal was just perfect and all three kids ate with much pleasure.
It was a very simple meal, really, and only took under an hour to prepare, but it was a really good compilation. It was the pickled prawn curry which I have blogged before here, along with a very simple cauliflower and pea curry, a mix of Basmati, brown and wild rices, and some quick and easy but crunchy and tasty hake fish pakoras.
The smaller kids have little thalis which are less intimidating.
Inside a fish pakora. Batter should be crispy and the fish should be fully cooked but still moist inside.
The cauliflower was very easy and I put that on to cook first.
I fried some cumin seeds and turmeric powder in a little oil until the cumin started to pop. Then I tipped in half a bag of frozen cauliflower. Obviously fresh would also work, but this had been taking up much needed space in my freezer and I wanted to use it up. I tossed it about to coat it, and sprinkled on some garam masala. My home made spice mix, which I make mostly according to a Vicky Bhogal "recipe". (Looks like I have never blogged it, so I will in a separate post.)
I then chopped in a few wrinkling tomatoes and a splash of water, and a little of the tinned tomatoes I was using in the prawns. (I also added some chopped wrinkly cherry tomatoes to the prawns.) About half a teaspoon of salt sprinkled over, then lid on and left to simmer for a few minutes.
At the very end I poured in a cupful of frozen peas, and switched it off. The residual heat heats the peas and you want them fresh and vibrant green, not grey green and shrivelled.
Meanwhile I made the pakora batter in a bowl and Godpapa helped me by kindly cubing the hake fillet up.
About a cup of gram flour, also known as chickpea flour or besan, a tablespoon of sesame seeds, a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of ground cumin, and half a teaspoon of ground coriander. Mix evenly, then slowly add about a third of a cup of cold water. I also remembered I had an open bottle of cheap value basics savers type fizzy water, so added a little splash of that as an afterthought a la Ready Steady Cook. The batter should be thick not runny, I suppose slightly thicker than pancake batter.
I then put the fish pieces into the batter, and gently deep fried them in my karahi. If you have a deep fat fryer, this would be much quicker. I had to do it in several batches. I don't fry often, especially not deep fry, I'm not going to justify it, or even explain in detail how to do it, as you kind find that info anywhere online if you have never done it before. Though I will say, if it helps, make sure the oil is hot enough by dripping a drop of batter into the pan. If it sizzles and pops straight to the surface, the oil is just right. Don't do too many at a time, and drain on kitchen paper.
The rice cooked itself in the rice cooker, I used a Waitrose brown and wild rice mix, and cut it with basmati which I buy in big bags when it is on offer around Eid and Diwali.
To make things look nice, I spooned the rice into little ramekins and turned it onto the main thali spaces, which amused the kids as that is how Masala Zone serves their thalis.
Even Big'Un who normally won't eat prawns ate 3 helpings of the prawn curry, and Littl'Un who has only recently started eating fish again had 2 pakoras. Tiny also ate all he was given and had more, though the rice was on the chewy side for him it seems. Brown rice can be a bit too filling for little tummies, which can mean they don't get enough protein or veg, so I cut back their rice servings accordingly and it went better.
The pakora batter is useful for all sorts of things, incidentally! Veggies, small pieces of chicken, onions (of course!) and some people make "bread pakora" as a snack, where squares of bread are sandwiched with a thin layer of ketchup, dipped in the batter and deep fried. It can also me made into a sort of pancake which is more reminiscent of an omelette, useful for vegans and anyone allergic to eggs, especially as it is very protein rich.
Have fun, and remember to present food beautifully when you can!
Friday, 4 April 2014
You may recall I pour the dregs and crumbs and powder of a pack of breakfast cereal, be it muesli, granola or branflakes, into a medium lock and lock and store until I can use it.
I often bake a little something on a Thursday evening for the Friday morning playgroup I host, but as Littl'Un had no school, we had a little extra time on Friday morning itself, so I threw these together and ate my brekkie while they baked. Mixing took no more than 5 minutes.
I poured about half the amount I had collected, I'd say about 4-6 ounces, into a bowl, added a large squirt of liquid marg, a glug of squeezy golden syrup, a tablespoon or 2 of sugar (depending on the cereal dregs in use) and about a 100ml boiling or warm water.
I then stirred this all together until it was clumping and sticking together.
Then I lightly oiled the cups of my lovely silicon mini muffin tray (which was a Christmas pressie from Papa) and gently pressed a teaspoonful of the mix into each.
I then baked this for 15 mins at 180 deg C.
I then left it to cool a little in the tray before popping the little bites out of the cups and leaving them to cool completely. These are chewy, crumbly, crunchy and very economical to make! Yours will be unique, relying upon your own cereal library input. Each batch will even differ. Have fun experimenting!
I had recently discovered an American brand of pretzel pieces which come in varying flavours, and had become a little addicted to the Hot Buffalo Wings flavour, so I wondered if I could add a little of that zingy sour flavour to some raw nuts to make them a bit more interesting. So this post is not really so much a recipe, as a snack idea.
Firstly, do not buy almonds or cashew nuts or similar from a supermarket, unless it is close to one of the Asian big religious festivals, and your supermarket has a big World Foods section. Try and find an Asian shop and get a much better price.
Next, pour about a jar's worth of the chosen nuts into a bowl. I used a mix of almonds and cashews. Redskin peanuts would work, not sure what else. Some people make things like this with canned chickpeas which have been rinsed and left to dry a litte.
Add 1-3 tablespoons of hot sauce. I used Encona original, I'm planning on trying Frank's Hotsauce and maybe ordinary Tabasco at some point.
Now sprinkle on maybe half a teaspoon of salt. Mix really well.
Line a baking tray with foil and spread the nuts out over the tray. Try to separate them well.
Bake at about 150 deg C for about 10 minutes.
Remove and leave to cool on tray. Pour into jar or other airtight container, and remember to scrape up any dried hot sauce and pour it over.
Don't eat too many at once!!!!!