Saturday, September 28, 2013

Green Tomato Chutney

Last year I made what turned out to be an excellent Green Tomato Chutney, from a recipe I found in the DK Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spces and Flavourings, of all places. I made a few modifications to the recipe as I went along, in order to increase the spiciness, and to work around running out of some ingredients.

Of course, now I need to remember what I changed in order to recreate it this year - which is one reason for writing this blog - so I remember to record my experiments!

I think this is what I did last year - we'll find out once it's cooked!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fish Pie

Fish pie is one of those traditional things that is unfortunately a bit of a faff for a normal week-night evening. Too many pans, and too many stages for if you're tired and rushed. Save it for a more leisurely night.

I generally make fish pie from frozen white fish, but some strange individuals have been known to adulterate it with smoked haddock, or salmon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bramble and Apple Jam

It's time for the last autumn jam of the year.

We've been gathering brambles round the lake by work and freezing them down until there's enough for jam.

This year we've also picked some of the cooking apples from an old Bramley tree in the hedgerow, so all the fruit for this jam was free.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ham Risotto in the Rice Cooker

I make a lot of Asian-inspired rice cooker dishes, but tonight I fancied a more European flavour to my rice.

Rice cookers can be subverted into cooking a risotto. The trick lies in how a rice cooker works. A basic rice cooker heats the carefully measured water and rice mixture until the water evaporates, at which point the temperature rises above 100C and the rice cooker switches off.

To cook a risotto, you need to add more water than the rice needs to cook through, and manually switch off the rice cooker when the rice has finished cooking.

Best of all - with the rice cooker risotto method, there is no need to stand over the pan constantly stirring and adding liquid!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I have an aversion to citrus - specifically orange peel. So I have never really eaten things that have candied peel in - which includes many traditional Xmas cakes.

However, one Xmas when I was growing up, Sainsburys decided to stock citrus (peel)-free mince pies. They tasted great - but they didn't stock them again, ever.

So, if I want to have mince pies for Xmas that I can eat, then I need to make my own mincemeat. Which means that I need to get round to making it in September to give time for the flavour to mature.

Fortunately, mincemeat is so easy that it really barely counts as cooking!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bento Fillers - Tea Eggs, Miso Peppers and Chicken Karaage

We went to J-Con today, my daughter in cosplay wearing an outfit I made over the last couple of weeks out of an old school shirt and an old sheet.

Seeing as it is a Japanese-themed convention, I packed bento lunches. Homemade sushi - inari zushi and cucumber rolls. Vegetable gyoza bought frozen from Hoo Hing. Tea Eggs. Chicken Karaage. Miso Peppers.

Here are the recipes for the last three, all of which are pretty easy bento fillers that will keep in the fridge for a couple of days after making.

Paprika Turkey in the Pressure Cooker

A weekday pressure-cooked stew of diced turkey thigh and potatoes in a rich tomato, paprika and soured cream sauce. All it needs is some green vegetables to accompany it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flour Tortillas in the Flatbread Maker

Today we are having reheated Chilli con Carne from the freezer.

Rather than just throwing some rice on to accompany it, I am going to make some fresh Mexican flour tortillas. This gives a good excuse to play with my Flatbread (Tortilla/Chapathi/Roti) Maker.

Invented as a cross between a Mexican tortilla press and an electric frying pan, this sort of kitchen gadget was initially sold in America, and not really ever made for export to Europe due to a percieved lack of demand for making Mexican food in the home.

However, at some point some bright spark realised that Mexican flour tortillas and Indian chapathis are very nearly the same thing, and so tortilla makers started being made in India for sale locally as Chapathi or Roti Makers. From there they finally made their way across for sale in Europe.

Mine is a Butterfly brand from India, imported and sold through Amazon.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Butternut Squash and Fava Bean soup, with a Morrocan twist

It's Friday, which means that it's time to invent something to use up whatever odds and ends there may be in the kitchen.

There's a butternut squash lurking from last week's veg box, and a tub of homemade stock in the freezer that needs using up, so it looks like we have a soup.

Now vegetable soup generally means some lentils or split peas to thicken and add protein. So an excuse to try the British-grown split Fava beans from Hodmedods that arrived in a Flavrbox. And then there's the tin of Ras el Hanout, that arrived that way too, ready to give a mild spiciness to it all...

Time to get out the pressure cooker.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Afelia, in the Pressure Cooker

Today's after-work throw-it-all-in-a-pan special is Afelia.

A Greek Cypriot dish in which chunks of pork and new potatoes are braised in a rich red wine and coriander gravy.

In the pressure cooker, it is ready in under half an hour.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Cucumber Lime Cheesecake

The Cucumber Lime Jam with Vanilla that I made a couple of weeks ago tasted like it would go well with cheesecake.

So I adapted a recipe for an uncooked marmalade cheesecake from my copy of the Marks&Spencer Cheesecakes book to incorporate the jam.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Some Gluten-Free Pastas for Laura

My friend Laura has asked me to keep an eye out for gluten-free recipes for her.

So, here are a couple of gluten-free pasta recipes from The Pasta Machine Cookbook.

Homemade Fresh Pasta with the Pastamatic

Meet my Pastamatic. A lucky find on Ebay a few years ago, it has a strong motor capable of kneading pasta dough, and an extruder to form the dough into noodles.

Tonight, I am reheating a tub of pasta sauce I made a while ago and froze down. Since I thus don't have much to do to prepare the sauce, I have the time to make the pasta instead.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Fish Provencal

Another quick evening meal from frozen white fish fillets.

This time we're aiming for the flavours of Provence - tomatoes, olives, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, garlic and herbs.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Garlic, Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

I catered for a family get-together this weekend. This marinade on roast chicken drumsticks worked well on the buffet. The rosemary was a last-minute flash of inspiration.

Two Kinds of Melting Method Biscuits

Two quick melting method biscuit recipes. These were mainstays in any tin of homemade biscuits when I was growing up.

Spicy Carrot and Coriander Salad

I invented this particular salad a few years ago, inspired by the flavours in the vegetable recipes in my copy of the old edition of North African Cookery.

It has proved very popular. The strong flavours are a great accompaniment to barbecues and grilled chicken.

Slow-cooked Ham

A cheap gammon or ham joint cooks nicely in the slow cooker, and cooking one in this way is a good way to prepare cold meat in bulk for a large buffet.

Lobio Tkemali / "Russian" Red Bean Salad

Way back in the day, a regular feature of my Mum's salad buffets was something called "Russian Red Bean Salad", which involved red kidney beans in a sweet dressing made with damson jam.

Whilst looking through my copy of The Georgian Feast however, I came across a recipe for a Georgian bean salad with a plum sauce dressing, "Lobio Tkemali". The dressing is apparently typical of Georgian cuisine. It would seem that Mum's "Russian" salad is actually Georgian!