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Baked chicken curry

16 Jun

This is a super easy standby chicken curry from one of Hugh FW’s books.  Its a quick whizz of ingredients followed by a slow bake in the oven to create a deliciously rich and fragrant chicken curry. I’ve used chicken thighs as they carry the spice flavours really well and they’re also pretty cheap. The curry has creamy coconut milk which tempers the spices and makes it family friendly too.

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You will need:

2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 heaped tsp coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger or 1inch piece of fresh ginger roughly chopped
1 lge onion roughly chopped
3 lge cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 lge green chilli roughly chopped (remove seeds if you want to take down the heat)
3-4 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
1.2kg chicken boneless chicken thighs
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin coconut milk
Salt & pepper

Ok so the longest part of this is organising your spices but it’s definitely worth it.

  • First grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder then roast them in a dry frying pan. Tip them out.
  • Next quickly season then sear your chicken thighs in the frying pan. Lay the chicken in an ovenproof dish and lets move on to the sauce.
  • Tip all your spices into the frying pan and cook for a few minutes.
  • While this is happening put your onion, ginger (if using fresh), garlic and chilli in to a food processor and whizz away till they form a rough paste. If it looks a bit cludgy add a small amount of water.
  • Next tip the onion mixture into the pan with the spices combine and cook for a few more minutes the mixture will start to look dryer and come together so it’s more like a traditional curry paste.
  • Now give the tomatoes a whizz in the same food processor pour onto the spice paste and then pour in the coconut milk mix together. Season with a tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper.
  • You should now have a rich creamy sauce ready to pour over your chicken and get baking.

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  • Pop in the oven for about 45mins on 180C. Sprinkle on some fresh coriander leaves and serve with fluffy basmati.

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Barabrith meet Tea Brack

22 Apr

After growing up in Abergavenny, Wales you would think I would be totally au-fait with Barabrith. I am afraid not, in our house we had Tea Brack, and yes it bears a more than a passing resemblance to Barabrith, although I’m sure die-hard Welsh cooks will disagree. Tea Brack has it’s origins in Ireland, so maybe somewhere in my roots there is an Irish granny (since confirmed I do have the blarney in my roots!) who has passed this recipe down through the family, both my mother and grandmother cooked this delicious fruit loaf regularly. Their version did not include whisky which seems to feature frequently in the traditional Irish versions of the recipe. In the Llewellyn family method, the fruit is soaked overnight in cold tea, and then combined with the other ingredients to make a warm fruit bursting loaf. Said loaf could then be sliced and spread with butter and served at Saturday tea time alongside scones with homemade Raspberry jam, Victoria sponges oozing with buttercream and other scrummy, but heart attack inducing fare.

Tea brack

Ingredients

300g mixed dried fruits eg. Sultanas, raisins etc
250g Light brown sugar
300ml Strong, hot tea
300g Self-raising flour
1 egg
Butter for greasing tin
1kg/2lb Loaf tin

  • This is pretty simple as cake recipes go and fairly laid back. Just a few ingredients and a loaf tin.
  • The night before put your sugar and dried fruit in a bowl, make your strong tea and while its hot pour over the sugar and fruit and stir well. The fruit needs 6-8 hours to soak up all the sugary tea so leave overnight.
  • Next day grease your loaf tin and line the base with baking parchment. Preheat your oven to 150C/ gas mark 2.
  • Mix the flour and egg into the fruit mixture which by now has soaked up the sweetened tea.
  • Once mixed scrape into the loaf tin and level the top.
  • Bake in your oven for 1.5hours or until it has risen and is firm to the touch.
  • Leave to cool for 10mins before turning out of the tin and putting onto a wire rack.
  • Delicious sliced and spread with warm salty butter.
  • NB: It is essential to drink a large mug of hot tea preferably poured from a teapot with your Barabrith.

Bertie and Brownies…

13 Jun

Its been hectic in the Davies’ household of late. We are at the end of GCSE exam fever (thank heavens!) and we also have a new addition in the form of Bertie, a four month old Labrador cross, puppy. Rescued from abandonment in a field by the lovely people at Four Paws Animal Rescue, now Bertie has a permanent home cwtched on our sofa.

Introducing, Bertie Davies

Despite this distraction I have been baking lots of treats to fortify my daughter in her studies. This particular recipe is one of her favourites that we have made together many times and when you’re tired and fed up of revising (or life in general) there is nothing like a big mug of tea and a warm chocolate brownie to cheer you up.
This recipe is an amalgum of several from Nigella to Nigel Slater. It is pretty simple and foolproof so give it a whirl. If you are a purist go 100% Dark chocolate (make sure it’s got 72% cocoa).

These quantities will make about 16 which is perfect for lunchboxes for a week. However if you are looking for celebration quantities then just double or treble remembering to upgrade the size of your brownie tin.

You will need:

180g Unsalted butter
90g Dark chocolate (Green & Blacks)
90g Milk chocolate (As above)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g Caster sugar
110g Plain flour
Half teaspoon salt
150g chopped walnuts (optional)
Non-stick/or lined brownie tin 15cm square

  • Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas mark 4
  • Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water on the hob. (You can do this in the microwave but I always forget about it and burn the chocolate!)
  • Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla
  • In another bowl combine the flour and the salt
  • Once your chocolate mixture is melted leave to cool slightly then beat into the eggs and sugar
  • Finally beat in the flour until smooth and then scrape into your brownie pan
  • Bake for about 25 minutes but keep an eye on them. Ideally your brownies should be pale brown and meringue crisp on the top but still a bit gooey in the middle. test with a skewer if you are not sure. If the centre is still very runny pop the brownies back in for another couple of minutes.
  • Makes 16

Once cooked leave to cool for as long as you can bear to wait, for these brownies are edible joy.

A nice cuppa and warm chocolate brownies

True Taste Food and Drink Awards 2011

16 Jun

The other day I had the opportunity to do my bit for Wales. Granted this was not too arduous a task as it involved eating lots and lots of delicious food all day long.

As a judge for the celebrated True Taste Food and Drink Awards I sampled some of the very best food Wales has to offer. Some truly superb entries in all categories, it illustrated just how far Wales has come as a producer of top quality foodstuffs. With the odd bizarre exception, the entries were well prepared and of a very high standard. From salami to sirloins, and pies to preserves, it was a complete gastro-feast. These awards are an excellent opportunity for producers to showcase their talents and gain the recognition they deserve both locally, and UK wide.

This was a great experience with some very knowledgeable foodies and chefs making up the the judging panel. My entire day was spent smelling, savouring, indulging and discussing…heaven!

If you want to know more about the True Taste Food and Drink Awards please take a look at their site www.truetaste.tv

The winners of the True Taste Food and Drink Awards 2011-2012 will be announced later this year.

Perfect Pork

6 Jun

When a quick fix Sunday lunch is required this pork fillet is the easy way to make a special roast without fuss. The sage and juniper add great flavour and the sauce can be taken two ways. Either follow tradition with a quick reduction for gravy or add a little cream to make something more sophisticated. Serve with lots of scuffed roast potatoes and some steamed greens tossed in butter.

Pork fillet with sage and cider

You will need:

Pork fillet (allow 3 medallions per person)
Celery, Carrots, Onions roughly diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
50g Unsalted butter, cut intosmall cubes
3 rashers of Smoked bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
2 Cox’s apples sliced
Sage leaves
1 tbsp Juniper berries
I can Dry Cider

  • Preheat your oven to 180c
  • Arrange your carots, celery, onions and garlic in the bottom of a roasting tin
  • Place the pork medallions on top of the veg
  • Put a piece of bacon onto each medallion
  • Top with the butter and a sage leaf
  • Season the whole tin and sprinkle over your juniper berries
  • Pour your cider over the top
  • Cook for 25-30 mins
  • Once cooked place your medallions onto a serving dish and keep warm
  • Heat the remaining cooking liquor
  • Strain your liquor, return to a clean pan
  • Reduce to create a delicious gravy or if you want to go posh add a splash of cream.

Spring barbecue…

23 Apr

Spring has definitely sprung, and in true brit reaction to the weather our furry coats have been swapped for a bikini top and shorts. The heatwave means we can hit the garden with our lily-white bodies and get some Vitamin D exposure.

With this in mind last weekend saw the Davies household’s first barbecue of the year. After a quick trip to Slade Organics just outside Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan, we came home with fantastic fillet steak from prime Aberdeen Angus cattle. How do I know they were Aberdeen Angus? Because Slade Farm labels tell you so, including the age of the animal, what they ate, their provenance, (bred, born, reared and fattened on Organic holding based at Southerndown), where they were slaughtered and how long the meat was hung for. This is the sort of info which should be standard and gives you a much more personal connection to what you are eating. Added to which, and most importantly, the end product is rather fabulous.

We even picked up boot-full of manure for my veg patch courtesy of some very cute Gloucestshire Old Spot pigs which are also raised on Slade Farm.

Great steak is best kept simple, rub with a fruity olive oil and season well with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Once your coals are hot, pop on your steaks and open something red and fruity (note: to avoid barbecue burns, limit the red and fruity to just a glass until you put the tongs down).

Cook your steak as you like it (mine’s seared, smoky and pink) and then leave it to rest with a knob of herb butter on a warmed plate. Alongside your steak try a quick baby gem salad, the sweet and crisp leaves will hold their own against ripe tomatoes layered with basil and red onion. In true boy scout style you could add a crispy skinned baked potato sliced open with some salty butter to cool the inside. With the sun fading and probably your first sunburn of the year just starting to glow, eat, drink and enjoy it while it lasts people.

Roasted root salad

3 Jan

It’s January and after the blow-out that was Christmas this is a brilliant winter salad. Comforting for the dark nights ahead, but sufficiently nutritious to make you feel you’re doing something healthy and virtuous for the New Year.

Root vegetables are fabulous during the winter months and once roasted take on a brand new personality, which is deep, rich and sweet. The chillies add an extra heat which works well with the cool, creamy feta. The final addition of rocket, with a drizzle of balsalmic and olive oil, gives the right level of peppery crunch. Plus the greenery is a beautiful contrast to the deep reds and oranges of the root vegetables.

The combination of our best seasonal produce with the mediterranean flavours of rocket and feta cheese is heavenly. I have suggested some root veg that works well roasted in the salad but feel free to add any others that take your fancy. The balsalmic gives the final touch to make your supper sing.

You will need:

2 beetroot
1 butternut squash
2 parsnips
2 red onions
2 whole large chillies
3-4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
A few sprigs of thyme and rosemary
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
200g or 1 block of feta

  • Preheat your oven to 180c/gas mark 4
  • Peel and cut your root veg into wedges, place in a large bowl
  • Scrunch the thyme and rosemary to free the oils and then add them to the bowl
  • Add some olive oil plus the garlic cloves, salt and pepper
  • Tip into a roasting tin and spread your veg evenly
  • Roast for 20-30mins until soft but lightly caramelized
  • Arrange your roasted roots on a serving platter
  • Crumble your feta over the vegetables
  • Sprinkle your rocket leaves around the plate
  • Finally drizzle you balsalmic and olive oil over your salad
  • Serves 4

This is a great supper dish to serve on a chilly night either on it’s ownsome, or with grilled lamb or a quality pork sausage plus lots of good red wine.

Pesto-licious

31 Dec

Perhaps one of the quickest, and most popular, things I make is pesto. Once you have a batch whizzed up the possibilities are endless.The peppery basil combined with roasted pine nuts, pungent garlic and nutty parmesan, married with some great olive oil. It’s a combination made in heaven and one which can elevate your store cupboard essentials to something stunning.

You will need:

2 large bunches of basil
1 large handful of pine nuts
I large handful of coarsely grated parmesan
1/2 or 1 clove of garlic
A generous glug of olive oil
Salt and pepper

  • Lightly toast your pine nuts in a dry frying pan, leave to cool
  • Bash your garlic and pine nuts in a pestle and mortar or if you prefer use a food processer
  • Add your basil and bash/blend
  • Add the parmesan
  • Finally pour in the olive oil until you have rough sauce
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste then give it a final mix and taste
  • If not using immediately put the pesto into a jar and cover top with a thin layer of oil. This will keep in the fridge for at least a week if covered with oil.

Now you have your excellent homemade pesto here are a just a few ideas of what you can create.

Green Spaghetti

Number one favourite with kids and adults alike, it is pesto in it’s most simple form. Stirred through hot pasta, loosened with a little olive oil and garnished with a few parmesan shavings, this is fast food at it’s best. If you feel the need, add some pan-fried smoked bacon, or a handful of fresh spinach leaves which will wilt with your hot pasta. This is excellent comfort food and perfect for those days when you want something quick but satisfying.

Pesto Tart

This is a complete cheat but I love it, and so does everyone who eats it. It is quick, simple and you can adapt the toppings to suit any occasion. I have made one large tart here but you can divide the pastry into six or more to create individual tarts if you’re having a party for New Year.

You will need:

I block puff pastry
3-4 tbsps of your very scrummy pesto
A handful of cherry or plum tomatoes halved
I ball of mozzarella
A few basil leaves
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper

  • Preheat your oven to 200c/Gas mark 6
  • Grease a baking tray
  • Roll out your puff pastry on a floured board to about 4mm thick and rectangular in shape
  • Place your rolled out pastry on the tray
  • Spoon on your precious pesto and spread out leaving a one inch edge
  • Scatter your tomatoes evenly
  • Tear your mozzarella into chunks and place across tart
  • Take your basil leaves and rip into shreds and scatter
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the tart and season well.
  • Brush the edges of your pastry with a beaten egg or milk
  • Place in your oven for approx. 20 minutes or until edges are risen and golden and the cheese is bubbling
  • Serve as a starter or with green salad for a superb lunch or supper
  • Feeds 6 as a starter or four as main

Haddock love?

27 Oct

Okay, I’ll admit I have never been a huge fan of fish. Give me prawns, langoustines, mussels, oysters, clams or any other crawly from the sea and I’m there. Langoustine marinated and grilled on the barbecue, meaty mussels nestling with spaghetti, fresh tomatoes and basil, shucked oysters with a tart lemon dressing, delicious every one. However…cod, plaice, salmon, haddock etc. have always left me a bit cold in the fish sense. But I am determined to rectify this as I know (or at least people keep telling me) there is great joy to be had from eating truly fresh and fabulous fish.

So last night I tried a quick and easy fish supper. Some great haddock fillets from the excellent, Ashton’s Fishmongers in Cardiff market. This is super simple. Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas mark 5.  Just arrange your fillets on an oiled baking tray, season well, then scatter fresh mozzarella, parmesan, cherry tomatoes and basil over the fish. A squeeze of fresh lemon over the top and a generous swirl of olive oil and it’s ready for the oven. 20mins is all you need. So grab some salad, dress it, and your supper is served. The verdict… these fish lovers might just have a point, next step salmon folks!

Pizza baby…

23 Oct

Getting kids cooking from an early age is not just fun, it shows them just how fantastic home-made food can be. For my son’s 4th birthday we had a pizza party. I made a big pile of dough, handed out mini rolling pins, bowls of cheese, tomato sauce, pineapple, sweetcorn, ham and peppers and stood back. The twenty, four year olds had the best time ever creating their own mini-pizza masterpieces complete with lots of squidging, nibbling and finger-licking.

Pizza-making is still a regular occurence in our house, and one which both my son and daughter love to be a part of. Last weekend, Joe and I decided to make some dough and use up the fresh tomato sauce I had made earlier. This recipe is simple and can be used to make bread or rolls, as well.

You will need:

1kg strong white or wholemeal bread flour
3 sachets dried yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 pint warm water

Homemade tomato sauce
Mozzarella
Basil

Any toppings you fancy.

Making your dough is easy. Place your flour into a bowl, create a well in the centre, pour in your yeast, sugar and salt. Gradually pour in some of your water. Using a fork stir the contents together, keep stirring and adding your water until everything is nicely mixed.

By now you have the beginnings of a stretchy dough. Time to get messy, get your hands in and work the dough until it becomes smooth and round. Get it out on to a floured surface and work out your anxiety with lots of pulling, stretching, kneading, pulling and pushing. Once it feels smooth and almost silky it’s ready to prove. Leave in a bowl in a warm space.

After about an hour your dough will have doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 220 C/ Gas mark 7.

Divide the dough into large fist-sized balls. Each ball will make one large pizza. We tend to make a selection of sizes suited to whoever is going to eat the end result. Flour you work surface and start rolling out your dough. Thick or thin it’s personal preference. Once you have a rough circle the fun begins. Place your pizza base on a baking sheet (a bit of flour or oil will stop it sticking during cooking).

Bring on the toppings! Tomato sauce and mozzarella are your staples, but from there on you choose…

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