Friday, 8 September 2017

Chicken Biryani


Here is my home made Chicken Biryani recipe. It is not strictly regional but a version which includes all the things I love, the way I love them. Much could be said about the subject, but Im not one for many words these days, so here it goes:

There are a few steps to Biryani. 
Step one: 
Soak 1 mug of basmati rice in cold water 
Step two: 
Make the chicken curry:
Ingredients: serves 4
The marinade for the chicken
2 skinned free range chicken thighs or legs cut at the joint
2 tbs yogurt low fat, but not fat free as this may curdle while cooking
1 chopped tomato
1 tbs ginger garlic paste
1 tbs crisp fried onion
1 tbs Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
Mix all this together and set aside

Step three:
Into a pot that has a nice tight fitting lid, goes: 
1tbs oil or ghee or a mixture of both
6 Green Cardamon pods
3 pieces of Cassia Bark or 1cinnamon stick
10black peppercorns
6 cloves
2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered

Fry the whole spices and potatoes for a little while until fragrant and the potato is lightly browned on the sides. 


Add the marinated chicken to the pot and stir well together. Add just enough water to keep everything simmering without going to dry. 



Step Four:
Now cook the soaked basmati rice for 5 minutes in simmering seasoned water. 
Bring enough water to easily engulf the rice to a rolling boil with salt, a couple of cardamon pods, 2 cloves and a cassia bark stick. Carefully poor the drained rice into the water and simmer for 7 minutes. The rice will now be about half done. 
Strain the rice through a colander.

Step Five:
The chicken should now be ready for the rice to go on top. 
But first place 4 soft boiled, peeled eggs onto the chicken curry. Then sprinkle the part cooked rice gently on top of the curry. It's important to leave it fluffy instead of pressing it down. 
Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat, then turn off the heat and leave to sit for a further 5 minutes before revealing your aromatic Biryani. 
Sprinkle with mint, coriander and more crisp fried onions and serve with mint and onion raita. 
Bon Apetit! 



Saturday, 24 June 2017

Wonton Soup

I've been meaning to make these at home for a very long time. Today I finally found the time and have gathered all the ingredients. 

They are:
For the dumpling stuffing mixture:
300g minced lean pork
200g raw prawns, chopped roughly
1 egg
1 heaped tsp corn starch
3 chopped spring onions
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp salt
A few shakes of white pepper 
5 drops of toasted sesame oil
1 tsp light soy sauce 
Simply mix all these ingredients together with your hands. 

There are a lot of home cook recipes out there, that add all sorts of vegetables to the mix, but I want the most authentic Chinese restaurant taste, that I crave. So no extra veg in my mix!

I have bought dumpling wrappers from an Asian grocery. They usually come frozen. There are thin ones or thicker ones, round or square ones. The shape doesn't matter, but thinner ones are better for this purpose. 



Next it's filling the wrappers. After defrosting, gently pull a wrapper off, lay it out in one hand and with a spoon gather a small amount of stuffing and place it on the middle of the dumpling skin. Have a cup of water nearby to dip the spoon in and use the edge of the spoon also to lightly wet the outer edge of the wrapper. Then fold over and seal. You only need to wet one side, to stick it to the other side. It seems a bit fiddly at first but I promise it gets easier as you go! 

There are many ways to shape wontons, but however you do it, it's going to be the right way! As long as the filling is enclosed in the wrapper ;)

 I have tried both steaming and boiling the wontons, and both work, but boiling achieves a softer texture, while steaming a more chewy one. 
I like them both. 

As there are now quite a few wontons lying around, so I have frozen some in batches and have eaten some straight away... but to make the actual soup, I used the water that the wontons cooked in. Strained out any bits and seasoned with a little light soy and added a few chopped spring onions. To make more broth, I would use a light chicken stock to create it, seasoning with light soy and a couple of drops of sesame oil. 
The wontons are so delicious they need nothing more. 

However to make it more of a meal, Chinese cabbages, mushrooms and noodles can be added. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Pot Au Feu alla Olle de Carne

Autumn is in full swing and I am craving a hearty Beef broth with lots of vegetables, just like the Costa Rican Olla de Carne. But. Since I cannot get hold of the kinds of vegetables that are prominent in Central America, I adapt my version to a European style in a kind of French Pot au Feu.


Ingredients:
2 large slices of Beef shin
1 Onion, studded with 3 cloves
1 large garlic clove
10 peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt
A bouquet garni featuring; a celery stalk, parsley and coriander stalks and 2 bay leaves
Root vegetables:
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3 or 4 pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled and halved
1 turnip, cut into 8 pieces
1 corn cob, cut into 4 rounds
8 new potatoes, peeled, left whole if the right size

So, I'm starting with a clove studded onion, a bouquet garni, a garlic clove and salt and peppercorns.
Leaving some of the skin on the onion gives the broth a nice colour.


To this I add the Beef shin and cover with cold water.
Now I bring it to a simmer, cover and simmer quietly until the meat releases from the marrow bone. This takes about 1 hour and a half,


Meanwhile I can prepare my vegetables,
Carrots, Parsnips, a turnip and a corn cob are cut into large chunks, I left the potatoes whole as they are just the right chunk size already.


Once the meat is cooked to tender but not falling apart, I take it out and leave to cool, before cutting into large chunks. I remove any bits that don't look beautiful in the finished dish, like the sinue or connective strands or any fatty bits.
The broth is then strained into a clean pot and the vegetables added. First the carrots, potatoes and turnip, followed by the corn and parsnip after 10 minutes.About another 10 minutes quiet simmering and all the vegetables should be tender to a bite, yet not falling apart.

The meat can now rejoin the pot, heated though and it's ready to serve.
In Costa Rica, Olla de carne is served with a bowl of rice. I like that, so that's what I will do. But a hunk of crusty sourdough bread would also be nice.
A little sprinkling of parsley or coriander will look and taste great as it's served.


Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Aguadito Peruvian Chicken Soup


This ancient Peruvian Chicken Soup is said to bring the dead back to life. 
Well here is my recipe.

Ingredients: 
Serves 4 (4 weightwatchers smart points)

2 chicken breasts (about 400g) sliced 
1 corn cob cut into 8 cobettes
1 potato, quartered
1 red pepper, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 courgette, in large dice
1 litre chicken stock
1 big bunch of fresh coriander
1 fresh chilli pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Juice if one lime

Heat the chicken stock and first add the carrots, potato and corn cobettes.
After about 10 minutes simmering add the peppers, chicken and courgettes. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste. 
In a blender mix the coriander, chilli, lime and garlic with some of the hot broth from the cooking pot. 
Add this gorgeous green smoothie to the broth just before serving. 
You can also add some cooked rice into the serving bowl, but I left it out. 
Enjoy this wonderful soup. 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

White Fish Ceviche


Ceviche is a dish of cured seafood in citrus juices. There are many varieties in Middle and South America, with everyone's version slightly differently spiced and varying ingredients used. I love them all, but this is my favorite mix. 

Ingredients:
200g very fresh white fish (such as cod, sea bass or lemon sole), diced into 1 cm cubes
Juice of 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1orange
1 shallot, finely diced
1 scotch bonnet pepper, finely diced
1tsp sea salt
A few coriander leaves for garnish

Simply mix the curing marinade together and pour over the fish. Leave to sit in the fridge for 2 -3 hours. Then serve with tortilla chips or plantain chips. To make it a more complete dish, Avocado and sweet potato also makes a nice accompaniment. 
Bon apetit!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Quick Protein Bread


This bread is based on eggs and quark (a zero fat dairy product) the added ingredients are kinda up to you. Seeds and kibbled nuts, cracked wheat, wheat germ, almond flour, linseed, chia and all things that are good for you can go in. A little bit of bread flour will help bind it all together. 

Ingredients: 
300g Quark
5 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp sea salt
3 tbs strong bread wholemeal flour
2 tbs weatgerm
200g of your selection of nutty and seedy goodies, coarsly ground

Preheat the oven to 160C. Mix together the eggs, quark and baking powder before mixing all the other ingredients into the batter. It will end up like a cake mix texture rather then a dough. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment and pour in the mix. Sprinkle seeds on top of you like. Bake for 90 minutes. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before turning out to cool down. Eats well with lovely homemade spreads. I made Sundried Tomato Butter and a Herb and onion Quark spread.
To store it, place in a bag and keep in the fridge. (Warm it up in the toaster)
You will be surprised how delicious this bread is. And full of goodness!



Thursday, 7 July 2016

Sichuan Beef Noodles


Ingredients:
500g diced shin of beef
12 small shallots, peeled, left whole 
100ml shao shin rice wine
2 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tsp rock sugar
1 cassia bark stick
2 star anise
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
5 Sichuan peppercorns
3 -5 dried long red chillies
1 tbs Chinese chilli bean paste
500ml water
Fresh noodles
Beansprouts
Spring onion, sliced at an angle
Extra chopped fresh chillies

Fry the shallots until nicely coloured, add to a sturdy slow cooking pot. Fry the diced beef in the same pan until nicely coloured, too. Add to the pot. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is fork tender. 
Heat the noodles over steam or microwave quickly just to warm them up. Place into a bowl and sprinkle over some beansprouts. Ladle over the beef and broth and garnish with spring onion and extra chillies. 
Enjoy this warming, unctuous hug in a bowl. Be happy!
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