Sunday, 25 September 2016

CHICKEN SHATKORA



East Dulwich is on the other side of Peckham Rye from us - when we moved here 10 years ago we were very much on the 'wrong' side of the Rye, the Peckham side, the dodgy side.  Nowadays we are on the hip side, the groovy side, the oh so achingly let's have another upmarket barbers to look after all of those beards side.  Whatever. Lordship Lane is the main drag in East Dulwich and has a surprising number of restaurants - and a lot of them are Indian.  Our favourite is Jaflong, it has a few things on the menu you don't see elsewhere, the cooking is great and the staff are lovely.  It is also BYOB with no corkage which always goes down well.

It was at Jaflong I first encountered shatkora - or satkora, spellings vary - an Indian citrus fruit which seems to be a bit like a lemon, a bit like a lime, and has very thick peel and pith.  I have hunted far and wide for this and finally tracked down both fresh and frozen versions - in Taj Stores in Brick Lane - where else?   I bought a bag of frozen and this is my first experiment using it.  I think the delicate citrus flavour is very well suited to chicken so I have used chicken thighs for this.  A mound of fragrant basmati and maybe some bhindi would go well with this.

Ingredients

I tblsp. vegetable oil
4 black cardamom
I tblsp. grated ginger
1 tblsp. grated garlic
1 large onion very finely diced
1/2 tblsp. tomato puree
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala
5 slices of satkora
500g boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the cardamom pods.  Sizzle for a minute or so then add the onions. Fry gently for about five minutes until soft then add the ginger and garlic, fry for another couple of minutes.

Add the tomato puree and spices and cook out gently for a another minute then add the chicken.  Continue frying for another couple of minutes then add the satkora and a mug of water, turn down the heat and let it all simmer for 40 minutes.  Taste, adjust seasoning if it needs a touch of salt, and serve.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

MY LAMB CURRY



I love Indian food, I love eating it and I love cooking it.  I have always been intrigued by it and on the purchase of my first book by Madhur Jaffrey in 1986 (!) I set about trying to learn the secrets of the spicing and the textures, all so different to the food my Mum taught me to cook…
Since then I have tried many recipes and this has become my own curry, the one I cook when I can’t be bothered to follow a recipe.  I make no claims for its authenticity so I want no howls of outrage about my technique or ingredients but we love it.
As an aside, if you love Indian food I do urge you to book into dinner at one of Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express events – cooking the food she was brought up with and drawing on the cooking of Hyderabad and Calcutta it really is some of the best, authentic, Indian cooking you will find in this country.
This recipe gives a thick smooth gravy (apparently what ‘curry’ means) which is well flavoured but not particularly hot – if you like your curries hot add more dried red chillies to the spice mix.  I will also admit to the fact that I now buy frozen pureed garlic and ginger, makes life so much easier...
INGREDIENTS
Curry Powder - 2 tblsp. cumin seeds, 4 tblsp. coriander seeds, 1 tblsp. fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tblsp. cardamom seeds (and yes I mean the seeds out of the pod - good Indian supermarkets will sell the seeds by themselves), 2 inch cinnamon stick, 4 dried long red chillies, 12 cloves.

2 tblsp. vegetable oil

5 cardamom pods
6 cloves


0.5kg lamb shoulder, cut into 2" chunks

3 red onions
1 tblsp. grated ginger
1 tblsp. grated garlic
4 large ripe tomatoes chopped
Handful of chopped coriander
1 tbsp. tamarind paste
 
METHOD

Put all the spices in a frying pan and warm over a low flame until you start to smell them – don’t try and rush this stage with a high heat as it will burn them…they should be ready after a couple of minutes.  Tip them into a spice grinder and grind until you have a fine powder.
In a large frying pan heat half the oil and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes until the onions are soft.  Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple more minutes.  Once everything is collapsed blend it – I do it by putting everything in a bowl and using a stick blender but whatever works for you.
Give the frying pan a quick wipe out then add another tblsp. of oil.  Heat it then, once hot, add the cloves and cardamom. Once they are sizzling add the tomato onion paste, cook for a minute or two then add 2 tblsp. of the spice powder.  Stir everything round briskly for a couple of minutes, making sure it doesn’t catch, then add the lamb.  Keep stirring for a few minutes then add half a pint of water.  Make sure everything is well mixed then turn down to simmer for an hour.  Check from time to time to make sure it’s not getting too dry.
At the end of the cooking time check that the lamb is tender – if not, give it a bit more time.  Add the tamarind and coriander, give it all a good stir and taste – it might need a bit of salt.
I usually serve this with dal and a vegetable.  My current favourite vegetable is spinach and potatoes.  Take a large bag of spinach, put it in a frying pan and let it wilt in the heat then drain and chop. At the same time cut a couple of potatoes up into 1” cubes and boil for 10 minutes, drain.  Heat a tblsp. oil in a frying pan and add a teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon each of coriander and fennel seeds.  Toss the potatoes in this, once coated add the spinach, then add a dash of water and let the whole thing cook and homogenise for five minutes.  Add a bit of salt to taste.


 

 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

MY WEDDING CAKE


Apologies for having neglected this blog for so long - life kind of takes over and my job has been very busy recently and I have also had something else on my mind.  Finally, Mr Redding and I can get married.  We've been together for nine years  but now he is free to make an honest woman of me.  The first time I got married was in 1987 which now seems several life times away.  It has been lovely organising this wedding, deciding exactly what we want rather than what is expected of us.  I have a lot of free time on Sundays so I decided I would make my own cake.  It's a fruit cake using Delia Smith's Christmas cake recipe and I have marzipanned the bottom two layers - the top was left naked as my eldest brother doesn't like marzipan. I used roll out fondant to ice it then decorated with sugar balls stuck on with thick glace icing.  I'm very happy with the way it has turned out, I feel it's very 'us' and that is how we want this wedding to be.  So, I will endeavour to blog more this year but for the next few weeks I will be getting married and honeymooning in Madeira.   

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

MEDLAR, CHELSEA

I don't do restaurant reviews but this was just so enjoyable I have to share. Neither Mr Redding nor I work on a Friday - a sign of the straightened times the charity sector finds itself in but an arrangement we have both embraced. Normally we spend Fridays looking for the ideal seaside town to retire to in a couple of years but this Friday an unexpected work engagement meant we felt justified in taking ourselves out for lunch.  I remembered seeing a couple of reviews of Medlar, and various Twitter people saying how good it was, so on a cold November lunchtime we were very happy to enter the lovely dining room - nothing pretentious, cool and neutral tones, and a gentle murmur of happy people eating...and no music, praise be.

Before we get on to food I must put in a word for our sommelier - we kind of knew what wine we wanted  but he was so thoughtful and knowledgeable, and didn't try to upsell. As someone who comes from a background where a bottle of Piesporter was the height of sophistication even though we were eating steak I can still feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes to wine but he made me feel those 6 evenings spent on a wine tasting course in Putney five years ago weren't totally wasted.

So, with a glass of champagne in hand, we read the menu, ordered and ate - it was all delicious, beautifully cooked, with magical little touches like the rissole that accompanied the venison - and the crab ravioli with its seafood bisque was something I would be happy to have for lunch every day - just the right side of grand French opulence.

I will let the pictures do the talking....

Buffalo burrata with tempura artichoke, speck, rocket pesto, vincotto and hazelnuts

   

Crab raviolo with samphire, brown shrimps, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce







Under blade fillet with shin and pickled walnut croquettes, triple cooked chips and béarnaise



Venison loin with rissole, choucroute, beetroot and braised shallot

Cheese and biscuits


Rose custard with orange, cardamom, saffron and pistachio 











Accompanying it all were delicious wines including a slightly off-dry white from Luxembourg for our starters, an incredibly deep, spicy, complex Cote du Rhone with our mains and an amazing yuzu flavoured sake to go with the pudding. Service was friendly, efficient and professional - the whole experience was delightful, down to the bag of passion fruit marshmallows and chocolate truffles we were given to take home.  When you next need spoiling go to Medlar.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

SPANAKOPITA

I make no claims for the authenticity of this dish. I must have used a recipe the first time I made it but that was many moons ago and now this is the way I do it. It uses quantities of ingredients that are as I buy them so there are no annoying left over bits of packets of stuff apart from the filo - I use exactly half a packet so just freeze the remainder for the next time you make this - and I think you will. We are confirmed meat eaters but this has such refreshing yet comforting flavours you don't miss the meat.  The combination of irony spinach, with notes of dill and mint and the salty tang of feta with the crunch of the pastry and pine nuts is just lovely - I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

INGREDIENTS

450g spinach
I onion sliced finely
25g mint chopped
20g dill chopped
200g feta, broken into walnut sized lumps
Olive oil
135g filo pastry
Handful of pine nuts

7" non stick round cake tin

Heat the oven to 180 degrees



Thoroughly wash the spinach then cook until just wilted. I do this in a large frying pan, it usually takes two batches. Add a tiny bit of oil to make sure it doesn't stick, put the washed spinach in and leave on a low light for 4-5 minutes, turning as it cooks.  You won't need to add any water - in fact, after it has cooked, turn into a large sieve of colander and press until you have extracted as much water as possible. Chop finely and put in  large bowl.

Cook the onion very gently in a splash of olive oil for 7-20 minutes until it has almost melted.

Add the onion, dill and mint to the spinach, mix thoroughly then gently fold in the feta.

Pour about 3 tablespoons of oil into a small bowl and take the filo out of its packaging. If you're a fast worker that's ok, if you're not then over the filo with a damp tea towel to stop it drying out.

Use four sheets of filo, each brushed with oil, to line the cake tin.  Spoon in the spinach mixture then use another couple  of sheets, also brushed with oil, to cover. Trim and fold the filo so that the filling is totally encased. use any left over bits of filo to scrunch up and decorate the top of the pie and sprinkle over the pine nuts.

Bake for around 30 minutes. If you need a side a simple tomato and cucumber salad goes rather nicely.




BLACKCURRANT POLENTA CAKE

Along with a lot of people I am a huge fan of Dan Leppard and am the proud owner of his book 'Short and Sweet'. His Lemon and Poppyseed Cake is a triumph and should be made by everyone immediately but I am also a huge fan of his Cherry Polenta cake.

I don't make cakes or pudding very often but this Sunday I just felt like baking. As I hadn't actually planned anything I had a rake through the freezer where I found a bag of blackcurrants bought frozen from a Garden Centre on the way back from Bath in May - whenever I see blackcurrants I always snap them up as they rarely make it to grocers or supermarkets, I believe Ribena snaffles most of them up and I do love blackcurrants. We are probably talking about around 500g of blackcurrants. I pondered the idea of making a mousse, or perhaps a blackcurrant crumble but then I remembered the cherry polenta cake and thought - why not?

I halved the amount of mix for this cake as there are only 2 of us on a Sunday - I used a correspondingly smaller tin. The addition of pine nuts, as recommended by Dan, really make the cake - adding that bit of crunch to an otherwise sumptuously moist cake. I haven't given you the recipe - you'll have to go and buy the book!




Sunday, 26 July 2015

CHICKEN CHILLI



I am slowly getting my cooking mojo back after a combination of events - my Dad dying in August, being crazy busy at work and getting rushed into hospital at the end of December with dried up kidneys and a digestive system in freefall. But here we are, just about back to full fitness and getting my appetite back, for both eating and cooking. I find my tastes have changed though - I can no longer eat, or particularly enjoy, large amounts of red meat, in fact large amounts of anything are a struggle.  I am making more salads, more fish and old favourites like a lump of roast lamb are taking a back seat.

One of our regular Saturday night meals was chilli con carne but in looking for something lighter I decided to use chicken thighs in the same kind of seasoning and served with an avocado relish and brown and wild rice. The end result was delicious, light enough for me but tasty enough for Mr Redding.  I used chicken thighs because I think it needs to be cooked for a while to meld the flavours and breast would become tough.

INGREDIENTS

CHICKEN CHILLI

500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes

I onion, finely sliced
Couple of cloves of garlic crushed or grated
Tin of black eyed beans
4 jalapeno chillies, red or green or a combination, chopped
Dessertspoon of sweet smoked paprika
Teaspoon of ground cumin
Tablespoon of flour
Handful of chopped coriander
Salt

AVOCADO RELISH

I ripe avocado, chopped
I ripe tomato, chopped
I shallot, finely chopped
Juice of a lime
Handful of chopped coriander
Salt

Slowly sweat the onion and garlic off in a generous tablespoon of olive oil until soft and translucent, probably about ten minutes.  Add the chicken, turn up the heat, and when it has all changed colour and browned a little add the beans, chillies, paprika and cumin. Give all that a good stir, then stir in the flour making sure it is all distributed, then stir in half a pint of water, bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.  Taste, season and stir in the coriander just before serving.

To make the avocado relish just combine all the ingredients 10 minutes before you want to eat and chill. I served it with  combination of wild and brown rice. The picture really doesn't do it justice!