Archive for February, 2010

February ’Meanderings’ …

Pictured (top to bottom)
Mulled Stewed Fruit
Candlemas Crumble
Lime Pickle
Onion Bhajis

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The television tells us that this winter has been one of the coldest for some years and certainly it has been chilly, wet and snowy even in London which often manages to miss the worst of the weather.  Some parts of Britain and further afield have seen much worse than we have, of course, but the cold weather does chill to the bone so there is nothing better than good warming winter food.

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Following on from the soups and meat dishes posted in January, some of my February posts have been warming winter desserts.  One post, Mulled Stewed Fruit, includes several alternatives: Spiced Plums, Pears with Orange & Ginger and Apricots & Pears with Ginger & Almond, all simple ideas for weekday desserts.  Most of the dessert ideas are fairly traditional, including some basic information about Sweet Crumble Mixtures with a selection of toppings, plus a special Candlemas Crumble using the last of the mincemeat from Christmas.  I have realised that the remaining dessert posts all use eggs.  Nottingham Apple Pudding uses a batter mixture giving a crisp finish not unlike a sweet Yorkshire Pudding.  There is a twist on the traditional British dessert, Bread & Butter pudding, re-invented as Paddington Pudding, plus a second variation, Toffee Apple Croissant (Bread & Butter) Pudding.  The final egg based pudding is Clafoutis or Flognarde: a traditional and simple fruit filled French dessert.

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I enjoy cooking multi-dish Indian style meals for friends and wanted to share some of these recipes as well this month.  Most of these are accompaniments: Masoor or Red Lentil Dhal, home made Lime Pickle (so simple I will never buy a jar again!), Onion Rice Pilaf, Onion Bhajis  (a family favourite when eating out which can so easily be made at home) and Paratha Roti, (the recipe for which comes from Trinidad where the food has a strong Indian influence).  The only main course included is my favourite dish for entertaining Makkhani Murghi (Tandoori Chicken in a Butter Sauce): which tastes great but is quick to cook as it can mostly be made in advance.  I have more Indian style recipes to post in coming months.

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We have had a busy time in the church kitchen this month, with a new venture feeding Sunday lunch to about 60 church members, thus giving a people a good opportunity to get to know one another a bit better.  I was just the kitchen helper as it was the brainchild of two good friends.  There was slow roasted beef and Yorkshire Puddings with roast potatoes and a good selection of vegetable dishes (including Spiced Braised Red Cabbage Casserole and baked squash).  This was followed by a selection of crumbles made by various church members – and what a variety there were: I made a mulled peach, pear & apple with an oaty crumble topping (see Basic Recipe: Sweet Crumble Mixtures for topping recipes).  There was also apple, plum, apple & sultana and, very popular because it was unusual, chocolate & banana. I have since posted my own version of this, which I have called Tropical Banana & Chocolate Crumble.   It was such a success, with so many disappointed people who missed out, that we are doing it all again in a fortnight.  It would be interesting to hear from anyone else who has this sort of event on their church calendar, how they cope and what they serve to their guests.

I finally got to unpack and use my new (birthday present) Tagine and I can see myself using it quite a bit, especially for entertaining, even though it does take up a lot of oven space.  I was sent a great chicken recipe by a friend: North African Spiced Baked Chicken with Pickled Lemon. I also tried a new one from the Tagine book I was given to go with the pot: Moroccan Style Beef Stew with Oranges & Beetroot, which I would definitely serve to guests (providing they liked beetroot).  I had another cookery book as a birthday present as well: Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes: Unwrapped – From the Cacao Pod to Muffins, Mousses and Moles written and compiled by Caroline Jeremy.  Lots of lovely recipes and similar to another book I own though with a wider range of recipes, Divine: Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with Heart by Linda Collister, previously reviewed on this site.   Just a shame that neither are very good for the waistline!

I was invited to a special birthday meal by my parents, where mum served one of her specialities and one of our favourites: Chicken Satay (I must get her recipe).  I am hoping to return the favour in March for her birthday and am trying to decide what to cook.  We ate a delicious Eton Mess at a local pub recently (I eventually made my own version) and that was one idea I had, but I think I will be making Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade, a Rachel Allen recipe we saw her make on television some time ago.

This month I have been using recipes from Curry: easy recipes for all your favourites by Sunil Vijayakar, which came from our local library.  This is a useful little smallish format book with a wide range of simple to follow recipes, mostly with easily to obtain ingredients (at least, I am able to find them!)  I tried out the Onion Bhaji recipe and was very pleased with the results.  Other recipes I cooked were: Chicken & Spinach Curry (delicious but a strange colour, so not attractive to photograph, which may be why there is no picture in the book), Fish Mollee (tasty but also less attractive than pictured) and Tomato & Egg Curry, which I will definitely be adding to my vegetarian repertoire.

fair_trade_logoI cannot let this February review pass without mention of Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from 22 February until 7 March 2010.  The theme for this year is The Big Swap, encouraging us to change just one item in their shopping basket for a fairly traded alternative.  There is so much choice now in fairly traded items and so many lines available in our shops there is really no excuse not to buy and make a difference to the lives of others.  It is no longer possible to say, as it was some years ago, that the tea and coffee are virtually undrinkable, so if you still think that why not give them another go!  Once you have made the swap, why switch back again?!  The more Fairly Traded items we buy the more the shops will stock – and of course the more the growers and producers will benefit.  If you enjoy poetry (and fairly traded chocolate!) you might like to follow this link and read the winning poems in the annual Divine chocolate competition.  I particularly like this one: A Divine Farmer’s Tale by Joanne Carroll, the winner of the 17-adult category.

Show me a seed and I’ll show you a shoot,
Allow me the time to tend to the root,
Permit me some water and watch my shoot grow,
Give me a fair deal and I’ll continue to sow.

I’ll nurture my crops with pride and care,
Farmers like me, all owning a share,
Of the success and profit our labours bring,
At the Divine Chocolate Company we all are kings.

Hard work in the fields throughout the heat of the day,
Until the cocoa is harvested and taken away,
I am happy though, as there is a fair price paid,
And the beans will bring pleasure when chocolate is made.

A fairtrade farmer, I am the Company Divine,
When you next savour a chocolate bar, it may be one of mine!

February Recipes …

Basic Recipe: Clafoutis or Flognarde
Basic Recipe: Sweet Crumble Mixtures

Candlemas Crumble
Mulled Stewed Fruit: Plums – Pears with Orange & Ginger – Apricots & Pears with Ginger & Almond
Nottingham Apple Pudding
Paddington Pudding (Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding)
Toffee Apple Croissant (Bread & Butter) Pudding 

Lime Pickle
Masoor Dhal – Red Lentil Dhal
Onion Bhajis
Onion Rice Pilaf 
Paratha Roti
Tandoori Chicken & Makkhani Murghi (Tandoori Chicken in a Butter Sauce)

Read Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months

‘For what we are about to receive…’ March 2010 and beyond

In March I will be thinking ahead to recipes for Easter at the end of the month and I am looking for ideas.  First though, my March posts will start with marmalade, although sadly the Seville Oranges will have all but finished (you might be lucky I suppose): during February I made both ‘Oxford’ (& ‘Cambridge’) Style Seville Marmalades.  I will then be be posting a selection of family favourite cake recipes, initially citrus based: Fragrant Marmalade CakeSylvia’s Lemon Drizzle Bread and a Fragrant Chocolate Orange Marble Cake that uses my mum’s Basic Recipe: The Adaptable Sponge, which is so useful to know and always has good results.

However, returning to my Easter recipe plans.  As usual, I shall definitely be making a Simnel Cake around Mothering Sunday, but to be eaten on Easter Sunday, plus Spicy Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday, (Nigella Lawson’s delicately Cardamom flavoured recipe from last year’s Radio Times and her book Feast).  I am also thinking about making an Easter Plait (or similar), Easter Biscuits and want to get my daughter into the kitchen to make some Chocolate Rice Krispie Nests or Cornflake nests with a lovely little colourful egg in each.  I am also wondering about making Pashka, which I understand is a rich and creamy Russian dessert eaten at Easter, so will be trying to find a suitable recipe.  I have been part of a discussion on the Nigella Lawson Forum on Easter recipes and traditions: all ideas gratefully received especially for foods to make that are not traditionally British.  Please do get in touch via the comments box below …

…Happy Eating!

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One of my favourite ways to entertain friends is to cook Indian style meals and often Makkhani Murghi is the main dish.  It has the advantage not only of being delicious but also being very simple, a definite bonus if you are making a number of other dishes to accompany it, as well as thinking about a suitable dessert course (and sometimes a starter as well).  It is a great way of transforming simply cooked Tandoori chicken with a rich buttery tomato sauce.

It comes from my much loved and much used book Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery.  In the book this recipe follows on from one for home-made Tandoori chicken.   When I entertain, I often make the Tandoori chicken from scratch the day before using Madhur Jaffrey’s original recipe which I have also added further down this page but, especially if I am just cooking the dish for day-to-day consumption, I pre-marinade the chicken in a mixture of the Tandoori Masala spice powder and yoghurt and oven bake for about 30minutes.  Both are versions which do not need the traditional Tandoor oven: not a common piece of kitchen equipment here in the UK!  I then follow Madhur’s original rich and calorie laden recipe for Makkhani Murghi fairly faithfully.  However, I also make a ‘cheats’ quick and less authentic everyday version of Makkhani Murghi by cutting some corners with the method and ingredients.  In the simpler version I usually use chicken thighs and I also use milk, or a mixture of milk and cream, which gives a thinner but quite satisfactory ‘everyday’ sauce and much less butter. (It is worth cooking this everyday sauce a little longer to reduce it so it is less thin.)  It is a much less rich, in fact, a different dish, but still tasty.  The original recipe uses ghee, which is clarified Indian butter, but  I successfully use ordinary salted butter.  Madhur Jaffrey recommends that the butter should be folded into the sauce at the last moment to prevent it separating.  I would recommend adding the fresh coriander at the last minute as well.  (See No. 5 below for serving and menu ideas.)

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Makkhani Murghi
Tandoori Chicken in a Butter Sauce
(Serves 4-6)

Tandoori chicken cut into 1-2inch (2.5-5cm) pieces from 2½lb (1kg 125g) skinned chicken pieces (legs or breasts – thighs for everyday meals)

4tbsp tomato paste
8fl ozs (225ml) water
1inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
10fl oz/300ml single cream (Elmlea low fat) – 5fl oz/150ml milk for everyday version
1tsp garam masala
½tsp salt
¼tsp sugar
1 small green chilli, seeded & very finely chopped
¼tsp cayenne pepper
4tsp lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
1tsp ground roasted cumin seeds (or a generous ½tsp cumin powder)
4oz/100g unsalted butter (I usually use about half this quantity so it is less oily)
1tbps chopped fresh coriander, more if you wish

If using Tandoori Masala spice mix marinade then the following should be added:
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1.  Gradually mix the tomato paste into the water, blending them well together.  To this tomato mixture add the ginger, cream and/or milk, garam masala, salt, sugar, green chilli, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and cumin and mix well.

2.  Melt the butter in a wide sauté pan. 
For Tandoori Masala marinaded chicken: Once the butter has melted  the onion and garlic should be fried gently until softened, then add the sauce and bring to a simmer.
For Tandoori chicken made from scratch: Once the butter has melted add the sauce and bring to a simmer. 

3.  Stir until the butter is well mixed into the sauce.  (Do not let the sauce boil, especially if you are using cream.)

4.  Add the pre-cooked chicken, but not any collected chicken juices which would thin the sauce. Mix in the fresh coriander. Stir until the meat is thoroughly heated through, which takes just a few minutes and serve.

5.  Put the chicken onto a serving dish.  The sauce should be spooned over.  Garnish with a little more fresh coriander if you wish.

5.  Serve with boiled rice, Onion Rice Pilaf (or similar) , naan breads or paratha roti , a vegetable side dish and poppadums.  When entertaining, along with poppadums and a rice or bread, I usually add some or all of these depending on the number of guests: a simple Masoor Dhal (Red Lentils) (or other bean or lentil dish), raita, vegetable curries and/or onion bhajis , lime pickle , mango chutney and a relish (often chopped tomato/onion/cucumber mix with a sprinkling of cayenne and fresh chopped coriander).  I add a substantial meat/fish free dish as well if I am catering for a vegetarian.

Tandoori Chicken – without a Tandoor Oven
(Serves 4-6)

1.25kg/2½lb skinned chicken pieces,legs and/or breasts or breast fillets
1 tsp salt
3tbsp lemon juice

To marinade
450ml/¾pt plain yoghurt
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2.5cm/1inch piece fresh root ginger, grated
1 green chilli, chopped – remove seeds for less heat
2tsp garam masala
lime or lemon wedges, to serve

1. Cut the chicken legs into two pieces and breasts into four. Make two deep cross cut slits on the thick parts of each leg and breast.  The slits should not reach the edges and should be cut down to the bone. Spread the chicken pieces out on two large baking dishes. Sprinkle half the salt and half the lemon juice onto one side and rub in well.  Repeat for the second side with the remaining salt and lemon juice. Leave for 20 minutes.

2. For the marinade:
Blend the yoghurt, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and garam masala until smooth using a blender or food processor.  If you wish, strain through a coarse sieve into a large bowl, pushing through as much liquid as you can, but I often omit this stage.

3. Put the chicken and the juices that have accumulated into the bowl with the marinade.  Rub the marinade well into the slits in the meat.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or a little longer if possible: 8-24 hours.

4.  Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature and put a shelf in the highest part of the oven where it is hottest. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and spread them out in a single layer on a large, shallow, baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until thoroughly cooked.

5.  Lift the chicken pieces out of their juices. Serve with lemon or lime wedges or use to make Makkhani Murghi, as above.

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Plain boiled rice is a usual and perfectly satisfactory accompaniment for Indian food but a Pilaf or Pilaff (or Pilau as it sometimes appears on menus) is so much better: fragrant rather than hot and especially good when entertaining.  This method is very simple and it combined well with the Makkhani Murghi (Tandoori Chicken in a Butter Sauce) it accompanied: a favourite chicken dish I often serve when entertaining.  I am sure I will be making this Pilaf rice regularly from now on. 

The original recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s book Feast: Food that Celebrates Life, which was one of my Christmas presents.  The original title is Pilaff for a Curry Banquet.  I always use my rice cooker when cooking rice but this time I followed the recipe method and made the pilaf on the stove top which was very simple and straightforward.  I am sure it could be easily adapted for a rice cooker, unless of course you are using this for plain boiled rice, as suggested in the original recipe as an alternative extra dish.   I have recently been watching repeats of the television programmes that accompany Keith Floyd’s book Floyd around India and took his advice to use red onions in Indian dishes as they are sweeter.  They also added a lovely pink hue to what could be a very white dish.  Rather than a tea towel, I used a clean square dish cloth to cover and help seal the pan as it seemed a better fit.  I suggest that this step is not left out as I think it does help to seal in the heat and moisture as the rice rests, stopping it from drying out.  I have also increased the onion and some of the spices a little as we like a more pronounced flavour.  We love Nigella seed (also called Kalonji, which can be bought in ethnic grocery shops and large supermarkets).  Our local Turkish bakery uses it, along with sesame seeds, on top of their bread and it is delicious!  The original recipe says it is optional, but do try to get it if at all possible.

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Rice Pilaf(Serves 8)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped (I used red onion)
2 cloves
4-6 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
½tsp whole cumin seeds
1tsp nigella (kalonji) seeds, (optional in the original recipe, but well worth including)
1lb 2ozs/500g basmati rice
1¾pints/1litre chicken (or vegetable) stock
2ozs/50g flaked almonds, toasted, to garnish
3tbsp chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

1.  Heat the oil in a deep saucepan and gently fry the onion, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, and nigella seeds for about 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and lightly browned.

2.  At this point the mixture could be transferred to a rice cooker and the method continued as follows:

3.  Stir the rice into the oily spiced onion until it is thoroughly covered. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over the lowest heat possible for 20 minutes. (For rice cooker, use ‘cook’ setting until liquid has evaporated and the machine goes to the very low ‘keep’ setting.)

4.  Turn off the heat, take the lid off, cover with a tea towel and clamp the lid back on the saucepan.  With the rice cooker this can be done when it has reached the ‘keep’ setting. The rice can be rested like this for at least 10 minutes and up to about 1 hour, so it can be made a little ahead of time if entertaining.

5.  Just before serving, fork the rice through and scatter the toasted flaked almonds and chopped fresh coriander on top.  It is not necessary to remove the larger pieces of spice before serving, although you may prefer not to eat the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and cloves.

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Crisp outside, spicy and soft inside, Onion Bhajis are delicious: fried onions with a twist.  When we visit an Indian restaurant it is not unusual for all of us to order them as a starter or to accompany the main course.  I have seen packets of ready mix in supermarkets and local ethnic shops, but I hadn’t realised just how easy they were to make until I found this recipe: simply spoonfuls of fried, spicy diced onion and chick pea (besan/gram) flour batter mixture. I shall definitely be making these now when I serve Indian style food to friends.

The recipe comes from a library book Curry: Easy Recipes for all your favourites by Sunil Vijayakar, which has a good selection of uncomplicated sounding recipes. It is better if the onion is chopped fairly finely (but not very finely) and the batter quite thick so that the mixture does not easily fall apart when being cooked. I also found that putting the mixture in the fridge to chill for a while helped them to hold together, a bit like Salt Fish Cakes. In fact the method is not dissimilar.  The original recipe calls for deep frying (in sunflower oil heated to 180oC for 1-2 minutes) but I found that they could be shallow fried just as easily, which is a (slightly) healthier option. Make them fairly close to serving to keep their crispness, but they could be kept warm for a short while. Serve either as a first course accompanied with Lime Pickle and/or Mango Chutney or as one of the vegetable options in a mixed Indian style menu.

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Onion Bhajis
(Makes about 16)

250g gram flour/besan/chick pea flour
1tsp chilli powder (mild/medium/hot, depending on taste
1tsp ground turmeric
1tbsp crushed coriander seeds
3 large onions, chopped fairly finely
6 curry leaves, fresh if possible
Sunflower oil for frying (deep or shallow)
Chopped fresh coriander to serve, if available.

1. Mix the gram flour, chilli powder, turmeric, coriander seeds and a pinch of salt together in a bowl.

2. Add water to make a thick batter, which will hold the onion together.

3. Stir in the onions and curry leaves. If necessary add a little more flour.

4. Form the mixture into balls, using a little flour on the hands and surface to stop them sticking too much. Put them in the fridge to chill for at least 10minutes.

5. Shallow fry in sunflower oil until golden brown.

6. Serve garnished with some chopped fresh coriander if available and Lime Pickle and/or Mango chutney for a first course.

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Every so often I come across an ingredient that is new to me.  In 2009 Dulce de Leche kept cropping up: used as a pouring sauce topping for puddings and ice cream, in a cake at Culinary Travels (untried) and even as an Ice Cream flavour at Smitten Kitchen (also untried).  Dulce de Leche  means literally ‘sweet of milk’ in Spanish and a little research helped me to realise that it was similar to a food fashion from a few years ago which I knew by the uninspiring name of ‘tin’.  I never tried to make it, but friends told me that if you gently boiled an unopened tin of condensed milk for several hours, once it was cool it could be opened to reveal a delicious pouring toffee.  (I have since found the instructions for making Dulce de Leche in various places online: there are detailed instructions from purplefoodie and also at gastronomydomine along with a delicious sounding, but untried, by me, recipe for Banoffee Pie.  Be warned though that, despite what you read, tins can explode: it happened to a friend, although she did admit that the pan boiled dry!  There are two alternative methods listed by Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, one using a microwave and the other cooked in a bain marie/water bath in the oven.)  Having read that French supermarkets stock Confiture du Lait (literally ‘milk jam’), which is more or less the same item, after some searching I managed to find some there when I was on holiday last year (Bonne Maman brand).  I bought a jar so I could experiment at home.  I understand Dulce de Leche can be bought in the UK, but I have so far seen it just once in a local ethnic supermarket where it was rather expensive, however I haven’t looked that hard since I brought my supply home from France!  I have also read that there is a UK brand of toffee in a squeezy tube, but I have never seen it.

There are recipes for bread and butter type puddings using croissants and I remember watching one being made on television, though I have forgotten where.  It’s a bit more ‘up market’ than the basic bread & butter pudding, an example of which is the Paddington Pudding I have already added on this site.  I tracked down a recipe which added apple and toffee sauce, simply called ‘That Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding’ on the National Baking Week site which I used as a starting point for my own version.  My finished pudding is not very sweet, which we enjoyed, although being a little more generous with the toffee sauce or adding Demerara sugar over the soaked croissants would make it more so. The original recipe suggested that Calvados (Apple Brandy) or sweet sherry could be included for an ‘adult’ pudding: I decided to use just a small amount of brandy which certainly added an extra dimension.  Leave it out if you wish: I am sure the pudding will be just as delicious without.  The croissants used were left over from a church event and had been frozen for several weeks, but this did not affect the finished pudding.

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Toffee Apple Croissant (Bread & Butter) Pudding
(Serves 4)

6-8 croissants (stale is fine)
2 eggs
½pint/280ml milk 
2tbsp brandy – optional
Dulce de Leche/Confiture du Lait/’Tin’/Squeezy Toffee – to taste
½tsp vanilla extract
2ozs/60g dried fruit, sultanas or raisins are good
2-3 medium sized eating apples (I used Cox’s Orange Pippins)
juice of ½ lemon (or ‘Jif’ type bottled lemon, not squash): prevents the apples browning
10g/½oz butter, cut into small pieces
2tbsp demerara sugar (for the topping): more if you wish – optional
½pt/280ml single cream (some for mixing but most for serving)

1.  Spread the croissants generously with Dulce de Leche/Confiture du Lait or similar toffee sauce.  Cut the croissants into quarters.

2.  Butter a shallow 9-10 inch dish.  Tightly pack a layer of croissant pieces in the base of the dish, leaving as few spaces as possible.  

3.  Mix the eggs and milk together in a jug and add the vanilla extract and brandy.  Pour over the pudding, making sure the croissants are well soaked.  A little extra milk can be added if needed, depending on how many croissants have been used.  For best results, before the apple and mixed fruit are added, this dish should be left in a cool place to allow the milk mixture to fully soak into the croissants.  All day or overnight if possible, but at least 1 hour.

4.  Preheat the oven to 160oC/325oF/Gas 3. 

5.  Peel, core and slice the apples into slices.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.

6.  If you want extra sweetness then the Demerara sugar can be added either now, before adding the apples, or after the apple layer to give a crunchy finish.  Cover the soaked croissants with half of the dried fruit, then a layer of apple slices in lines to make a decorative pattern and then the remainder of the dried fruit.

7.  Dot the butter evenly over the apples.  Mix 2 tablespoons of Dulce de Leche/Confiture du Lait or similar toffee sauce with a similar quantity of cream, to give a pouring consistency and drizzle this over the whole pudding in a zig-zag pattern.

8.  If not already added, sprinkle demerara sugar over the pudding before cooking.

9.  If the dish has been in the fridge it should be allowed to come to room temperature before putting in the oven.

10. Place the pudding dish in a bain marie: a second dish carefully filled with boiling water that comes to about half way up the sides of the pudding dish. 

11. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until the apples are cooked, soft and lightly golden.

12. Serve with the remaining single cream.

See also:
Delamere Dairy Chocolate Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding untried

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This traditional British pudding has to be one of our all time family favourite recipes.  I have made versions both using different fruits and replacing the usual everyday bread with more ‘up market’ alternatives, such as croissants, but we always come back to this one, which I make just as I was taught by my mother.  There is one taste change to the original traditional version that I do usually make.  I add marmalade to my bread, which gives a sharp orange-y background flavour, but this can be left out, of course, for a truly traditional version.  I have been told that this is often called ‘Paddington Pudding’, presumably in honour of Paddington, the little bear from Peru who likes marmalade sandwiches, rather than simply the London railway station after which he was named!

I have never, until now, written down the method for making Bread and Butter Pudding, but it is very straightforward.  Apart from adding marmalade, the only other change I make is that I usually cut the bread into cubes, giving a paved rather than overlapped appearance to the finished dessert.  This was originally done to make the dish easier to serve since the top layer usually gets so crispy that it is difficult to dish up at table.   In the end though, however it is layered, this dish is difficult to get wrong.  It is best to pour over the egg mixture well in advance as this gives plenty of time for it to soak well into the bread, and give the best results.   Of course, this is a perfect way to use up slightly stale bread: I slice the remaining ends of loaves and put them in the freezer until I have enough to use for this (or to turn into breadcrumbs for other dishes).  For best results use good quality ‘bloomer’ type bread rather than a pre-packaged ready sliced loaf.

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Paddington Pudding (Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding)
(Serves  4)

8-10 thick slices of crusty bread, more if you wish (about 2 per person)
6ozs/175g mixed dried fruit
4tbsp white or demerara sugar (can be increased according to taste)
1tsp ground mixed spice
2 eggs
½pint/280ml milk (possibly a little more if needed)
½tsp vanilla extract
½tsp freshly grated nutmeg (for the topping)
2tbsp demerara sugar (for the topping)

1.  For best results, this dish should be left in a cool place to allow the milk mixture to fully soak into the bread.  All day or overnight if possible, but at least 1 hour.

2.  Spread the slices of bread with butter and marmalade. It is not necessary to remove the crusts.  Cut the slices of bread into cubes of about 1 inch/2.5cm.

3.  Butter a shallow 9-10 inch dish.  Place a layer of cubes, butter/marmalade side upwards in the base of the dish and then sprinkle with mixed fruit, sugar and mixed spice. Continue adding layers of bread, butter/marmalade side upwards, followed by mixed fruit, sugar and mixed spice, finishing with a final layer of cubes of bread, this time with the butter/marmalade side downwards.

4.  Mix the eggs and the milk together and add the vanilla essence.  Pour over the pudding, making sure the bread on the surface is well soaked.  A little extra milk can be added if you wish, depending on how much bread has been used.

5.  Add the topping of sugar and freshly grated nutmeg and place in a cool place or the fridge until it is to be cooked. 

6.  If the dish is in the fridge it should be allowed to come to room temperature before cooking.

7.  Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.  Place the Bread & Butter Pudding dish in a bain marie: a second dish carefully filled with boiling water that comes to about half way up the sides of the pudding dish. 

8.  Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the pudding is golden and the top crisp but not too dark.  Be warned that this can burn easily.

9.  Serve with custard, single cream or vanilla ice cream.

See also:
Delia Smith’s Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding (untried, but recommended by a friend)

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Clafoutis is a dish that originates in the Limousin, a region of central France.  It is a dessert of fruit set in a batter mixture that is a cross between an egg custard and a sweet Yorkshire Pudding.  The traditional and most well known filling for a Clafoutis is cherry.  However as cherries were unavailable in the winter months alternative fillings were used, when technically the dish was then called a Flognarde.  There are some interesting additional ideas for fillings from a series of posts hosted by Bron Marshall.  I particularly like the sound of Peach & Cardamom from Cooksister and Pear & Chocolate from English Patis.  Although I have not tried it myself, I am sure that either Clafoutis or Flognarde could be made in individual dishes. 

This recipe is one of many collected from an unknown source and is simple and quick to make.  One previous attempt at a Clafoutis was unsuccessful as the batter failed to set properly since which I had not attempted another, but this Blackberry & Lemon version uses a different recipe.  Now I have found a version that is a success I would adapt it using this basic batter mixture with other fruit.  The ingredients given were originally intended for eight people but I found a half quantity barely fed three, so I suggest that the quantity below would give four (generous) to six portions.  It all depends on how hungry the diners are, I suppose.  For someone with a sweet tooth a little more sugar could be added, either sprinkled over the fruit or mixed into the batter, especially if the fruit is rather tart in flavour.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Blackberry & Lemon Flognarde
(Serves 4-6)

12ozs/375g blackberries (defrosting not necessary if frozen)
2-3tbsp sugar (vanilla sugar if available)
½tsp vanilla extract (unless vanilla sugar has been used)
4 large eggs
½pt/280ml single cream, Elmlea half fat is ideal (or a mixture of double or single cream & milk)
large pinch salt
2ozs/50g self raising flour
Juice and zest of half a lemon

1.  Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 and butter a shallow 9-10 inch dish.

2.  Put the frozen blackberries in a single layer in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle over the lemon zest.

3.  Whip the eggs together in a bowl until well mixed.  Gradually mix in the sugar.  Mixing all the time, in a thin stream gradually add the cream (or cream and milk mixture) to the egg and sugar.

4.  Stir in the flour and salt and beat until well combined.  Finally add the lemon juice.

5.  Pour the batter over the blackberries.

6.  Bake for about 20 minutes and then cover with a lid, baking sheet or some foil and continue to bake for a further 20 minutes.  Remove the cover towards the end of the cooking time to allow the clafoutis or flognarde to puff up and brown. 

7.  The finished clafoutis or flognarde will have puffed up like a souffle.  If possible serve immediately from oven to table before it collapses, topped with a dusting of icing sugar.  The contrast of some cold vanilla ice cream would complement this hot dessert, or alternatively serve some more pouring cream.

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Sometimes it is good to eat Indian style food with a bread, such as Naan or this simple to make Paratha Roti, in place of the more usual rice.  If the meal has a sauce a bread makes it much easier to thoroughly mop up the plate, in any case.  It is important to think ahead slightly to allow enough time for the yeastless dough to rise.  Paratha roti can take a little practice to get absolutely right, but it is definitely worth persevering.

This recipe for Paratha Roti was featured in chef Gary Rhodes’ TV series Rhodes around the Caribbean, which I really enjoyed: learning about the islands, their history, culture and above all, their diverse foods.  Paratha Roti comes from the cuisine of Trindad, which enjoys spicy Indian style dishes, but would not be out of place at a meal on the Indian sub-continent where it would have originated.  The quantities given are for four circular roti, but I found them rather large.  On subsequent occasions I have halved the quantity and was still able to make four smaller circular roti: in fact I have used 200g flour and adjusted the other ingredients pro rata to make three roti, one each.  Certainly if this is one of many dishes then these smaller size breads would suffice, but if I was making the full quantity I would prefer to make them smaller and let diners choose how many they wanted.  They can be made in advance of a meal and kept warm for a short while, but not too long as they lose their soft, light, flaky texture.  A small paratha roti with a serving of Prawn & Tomato Korma makes a delicious light meal or a starter, especially when you are serving rice for the main course.

100_7989 Paratha Roti

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Paratha Roti
(Makes 4 large breads)

600g/1lb 5ozs plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1tsp Baking Powder
½tsp salt
400ml/14fl ozs water
10g/½oz Butter, melted, for brushing and cooking (use ghee if you wish, or vegetable oil)
1tsp vegetable or sunflower oil, aprox

1.  Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  Make a well in the centre, pour in the water and mix well.  Knead well in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface until you have a smooth and fairly soft dough.  You may need to add a little more water or flour if the mixture is too dry or too sticky.

2. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface to stop the dough from sticking. Divide the dough into four equally sized pieces (or one per person if you are adjusting the recipe). Roll each piece of dough into a round of about 15cm in size.

3. Brush the top surface of the circles with melted butter. Sprinkle with a little flour. Make a single cut from the centre to the edge of each circle.  Opening up the slit you have made start to roll, going around the circle, until you hae a cone shape with the point at the top. Place on a dish with the point of the cone at the top, press the point towards the centre of the paratha roti and flatten slightly. Leave to rest for 20 minutes. (I put them in the airing cupboard to aid rising.)

4. Sprinkle a little more flour onto the work surface and onto the rolling pin. Roll the dough cones into circles roughly 0.5cm thick.

5.  Using a medium heat and a large frying pan, melt together a little more butter and some vegetable oil, which helps prevent the butter from burning.  (If you have a baking stone, a tawah, then this can be greased and used.)  Cook one piece of the paratha for around 1 minute on the first side, until it starts to bubble up.

6. Turn over, lightly brush with a little more butter and cook for another minute.  There should be a few brown spots on the cooked paratha roti.  Remove paratha roti from the heat, place inside a clean tea towel and gently scrunch up to expose the layers inside the bread.  It can be broken up and served in pieces if you wish. Repeat with the remaining dough cones.

7.  Serve hot as a side dish with curries.

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Dhal, or Dal (or sometimes Dahl or Daal!), is simply the Indian word for lentils and this recipe is one the simplest I know.  It is one of the standard dishes I make as part of an Indian meal, whether alongside rice or a bread with a curry for the family or as part of a multi-dish meal for a group of friends.  It is quick and easy to make, warming and flavoursome without being hot.  I have listed it as spicy, but it does not have to be very: the heat and flavour being adjusted according to personal taste.

The original recipe for Masoor Dhal came from a book I bought many years ago in a shot that was selling remaindered books. India is just one country whose most popular foods and eating habits are explained and sampled in Cooking and Eating Around the World by Alison Burt.  The original recipe is called simply Dhal.  Just recently I have started to add a handful of fresh coriander towards the end of the cooking time, although it does not appear in the original recipe: mainly because we like it so much!  Such a lovely fresh flavour.  It is a particularly good idea to add fresh coriander to the Dhal if you are adding very little of it, or none at all, elsewhere on the menu.  The asaphoetida aids digestion, but can be left out if not available.  I have also given instructions below for turning this lentil side dish into a main course vegetarian dish.  This can be made earlier in the day and reheated, with the coriander added just before serving.

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Masoor Dhal – Red Lentil Dhal
(Serves 2-3 – if one dish among many then this quantity will serve 3-4)

15g butter
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
small clove garlic, crushed
115g/4ozs red lentils (masoor dhal)
½pint/10fl ozs/200ml water
½tsp salt
pinch of ground chilli – adjust according to personal taste
pinch of ground ginger – adjust according to personal taste
pinch of ground turmeric (haldi)
pinch of asafoetida (optional)
handful of chopped fresh coriander, reserving one leaf for decoration if you wish

1.  Heat the butter and oil together in a small saucepan and cook the onion and garlic gently together until soft but not browned.

2.  Pick the lentils over removing any stray stones or twigs, rinse and add to the pan along with the water and salt.

3.  Add the spices, which can be adjusted according to personal taste.  I prefer to keep this dish rather bland, tasting of onion rather than highly spiced as I find it complements the spicier dishes it accompanies.

4.  Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to very low.  Cook until soft and all the water has been absorbed.  This will take about 40minutes.  A little more water can be added if the misture starts to dry out before it is fully cooked.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  The finished dhal will be a thick puree.

5.  Just before serving stir through the fresh coriander, reserving one leaf for decoration.

6.  Serve as part of an Indian meal, with rice or an Indian bread and a meat, fish or vegetable curry plus a creamy yoghurt based raita and poppdoms (quickly cooked under a hot grill).

Vegetarian main course variation:
Vegetable Dhal with optional Egg and/or Tomato
Adding more vegetables at the same time as the spices will turn this dhal into a lentil based vegetable curry.  The amounts of spices can be adjusted to give a stronger flavour: in particular increasing the chilli and ginger powders to taste.  Added during the last 5-10 minutes, quartered fresh tomatoes are a particularly good addition and halved hard boiled eggs can also be added during the last five minutes of cooking, not long before the coriander.

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This is a lovely spicy citrus pickle to serve as a side dish with an Indian meal, whether part of an extensive Indian menu when entertaining friends or a midweek family meal.  It is especially good with tandoori style cooked meats and kebabs. So many of the lime pickles in the shops are very oily but this version is much less so.

This recipe was taken from a manufacturer’s booklet lent by a pickle making friend: Crosse & Blackwell/Sarsons Vinegar Perfect Pickles by Suzanne Janusz.  The limes in the original recipe are halved and finely sliced but they could be left as quarters or thickly sliced if you prefer.  Make in several small jars, so it can be opened freshly as needed. The full quantity of chilli makes a hot pickle but by using less the heat can be adjusted to taste.  The seeds contain a lot of the heat, so removing these and just using the green part will make a difference.  Served with poppadums alongside a dish of sweet mango pickle this would make a very simple starter or appetiser.

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Lime Pickle

45ml/3tbsp vegetable oil
15ml/1tbsp coriander seeds
15ml/1tbsp black mustard seeds
2.5ml/½tsp cumin seeds
2 fresh green chillis, finely sliced (reduce/increase according to taste)
1 large onion, finely sliced
15ml/1tbsp salt (original amount, but may be too much – see below. NB try 1tsp next time)
225g/8ozs sugar
60ml/4tbsp tomato puree
300ml/½pint distilled pickling malt vinegar
8 limes, halved & finely sliced

1.  Prepare all the ingredients before starting to make the pickle as they need to be added in quick succession.

2.  Heat the vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan.  Put in the spices and fry them over a medium heat until they start to pop.  Do not overcook as they burn very quickly.

3.  Put in the chillis and onion, stir and cook for a minute.

4.  Add the remaining ingredients and gently simmer for about 30minutes, stirring occasionally until the lime pickle thickens.

5.  While the pickle is cooking wash and sterilise the jars.  I usually do this by filling them with boiling water and putting the lids in a separate small bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl without touching the inside and screw it on as soon as the jar is full.

5.  Pot the chutney into the prepared jars sealing while still hot.  Cool and label.  Store for a few days before using to let the flavours develop.

6 March 2010 – Note: The first batch of pickle was a half quantity and I was happy with it.  However the second batch I made was rather too salty so I have halved the salt content of the original recipe.  (I wonder if I might have misread the recipe the first time I made it, using 1tsp rather than 1tbsp.)  I rectified the problem by making a second half batch without salt, mixing it with the one that was too salty and re-potting.

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