Black Pepper Aniseed Chicken and Being on Editors’ Picks

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There has been a wonderful flurry of activity behind the scenes on my blog in the last 48 hours. My phone began to ping – indicating a new ‘follower’ and ‘buzz’ when a new like happened. They were happening more regularly than usual to the extent I began to wonder what on earth was going on. After a little digging around I realised that my blog had been selected as one of the ‘Editors’ Picks’ – The best of WordPress, selected by Editors at Automatic. I am beyond ecstatic as I have watched in awe over the years at the fascinating, motivating and uplifting blogs that are selected across a wide selection of genres.

So welcome to all the new followers of my blog. I hope you get the chance to have a good virtual wander around. I have so many recipes in my ‘recipe library’ that I hope to appeal to a wide audience. The common thread with all of them is that they will have herbs or spices working their magic within them. I am passionate about them and adore dishes from across the globe. When I come across a new ingredient I am the first to give it a whirl and see for myself if it is something that I can incorporate in my cooking going forward. In the last year I tried (and loved) kokum, (or as one sweet reader corrected me  kodampuli)  – see here  which has a tangy, distinct flavour, as well as sea urchin which I have been meaning to try for years – it was as delicious as I had envisaged.

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To get you started how about having a look and trying one of my Sunday go-to dishes Bengali red split lentil dal or perhaps you are more of a meat eater then try one of my fav Mexican dishes – Mexican chilli beef with butternut squash.  Keeping on the theme of butternut squash how about this vegetarian curry using the squash as the star ingredient – butternut squash, lemongrass, coconut and spinach curry . If you have more of a sweet tooth then this one is rather good and even made it’s way into the Telegraph newspaper in the UK – chocolate, chilli and cinnamon fondants with cardamom chantilly cream. If you can’t find what you are looking for just send me an email or leave a comment and I will try and point you in the right direction or will come up with a recipe for you in a future post.

Today however I wanted to share a south Indian chicken recipe with you that actually originates from Chettinadu. As Bengal is famous for cooking with mustard, so Chettinadu is renown for using black pepper to heat their dishes. This dish is one with great heat and packs a punch. If you are feeling a bit low with a cold then I can assure you this dish will more than perk you up again. You need to make your own masala, which takes minutes, and is so worth it, and then the actually cooking of the dish is completed within 40-45 minutes max. I have another Chettinadu dish on my blog (which requires more ingredients than this dish), which you may also want to check out if this recipe turns out to be a hit for you. Let me know how you get on in the comments box below.

 Black Pepper and Aniseed Chicken

2 tbsp oil

1 cinnamon stick

3 green cardamom pods, opened

2 white onions, roughly chopped

3 tsp garlic-ginger paste

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1kg chicken pieces on the bone (I find skinless thigh works well)

200ml water

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Masala

2 tsp aniseed *

2 tsp cumin seeds

3 tsp black peppercorns

2 tsp coriander seeds

3 dried Kashmiri chillies

*if you don’t have aniseed you can use fennel seeds instead

  1. First heat a frying pan. When it is hot add the masala ingredients and move them around the pan for about 30 seconds to release their aromas. Place to one side then grind to a powder – I like to use my Krups one.
  2. In a different deep pan add the oil and when it is hot add cinnamon stick and cardamom pods followed by the onion and keep on a medium to low heat to allow the onion to bronze which will take around 8-10 minutes.
  3. Once the onion has bronzed sufficiently add the garlic-ginger paste and move around the pan for a couple of minutes before adding all of the ground masala.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer gently to allow them to soften.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and coat in the sauce. Add 100ml of water and place a lid on the pan.  Keep on a low heat and simmer for 40 minutes. You will need to add a further 100ml whilst cooking to give it more of a sauce (if you prefer it drier then omit this part). In the final 10 minutes remove the lid and allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. Serve alongside rice or perhaps some Indian flat bread.

Culinary delights and inspiration over the Christmas period

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So my fridge – my relatively new fridge in fact (still under guarantee phew) – decides to die a dramatic death on 22nd December. Great timing. I mean it could have died in November or in the summer but no it decides to die just as I want to start cracking on with preparations for Christmas.

I will not let my fridge dampen my spirits however. On the bright side I have a freezer and a cold coal cellar so I am going to rise to the occasion and go back in time when freezers did not exist. I now have all the contents of my fridge in storage boxes with ice bags surrounding them. Some jars are in the garden in boxes in the rabbit hutch. Our rabbits passed away recently…..that’s another story….so there is room in the hutch away from prying urban foxes.

So I thought you might need some last minute inspiration of things to cook with turkey leftovers, meals after christmas and before new year and canapés etc. So first up is turkey, ham and leek pie. Very straightforward and a great way to use up the turkey and ham.

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On boxing day or 27th I will be cooking my crispy skin cod with white beans, padron peppers, spinach, dill and aioli. You can use monkfish or hake instead, whichever you decide it’s a lovely dish to serve after the filling fare of Christmas day.

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This wintery warm lentil and goats cheese salad with a fresh basil dressing will also be making an appearance. Slow cooked tomatoes are a favourite in my household and we are all rather fond of goats cheese. I also like the fact that is vegetarian, filling and incredibly tasty.

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Perhaps you have friends or family coming over for a glass of bubbles or mulled wine. Both these canapés are very straightforward and don’t take too much time to prepare. The pastry for the parmesan caraway biscuits can be made in advance and kept in the fridge. When you are ready to cook them you simply slice them thinly, lay them out on a tray and place them in the oven for around 10 minutes, or until they are lightly bronzed. Let them cool slightly and then they are ready to be devoured.

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The rosemary spiced walnuts are wonderful to snack on and are not too filling before the main event. We love them and I am sure you will too.

Whilst we are all very fortunate to have the love of family and friends around us at Christmas a great way to give a little back is reserving a place for a homeless person at one of the crisis shelters. £22.32 reserves a place for one person but also allows them to have:

 – a health check with a doctor, dentist and optician

 – shower, freshen up and clean clothes

– three nutritious meals including christmas dinner

-an introduction to Crisis’ year-round services for training and support for the future.

You can find out more and how to donate here. I think it is a wonderful charity and one that I support each year.

So that’s it from me for 2016. I wish you all a very merry christmas and a happy new year and I hope to be able to inspire you with some exciting recipes in 2017. Thank you for your continued support and readership, it means a lot to me.

Torie xx

 

 


The Art of Parsi Cooking and Chicken Badami

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Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be invited to the book launch of Niloufer Mavalvala’s new cookbook ‘The Art of Parsi Cooking’. To be honest, whilst I had clearly heard of parsi cooking, I was not very familiar with the minutiae of the cuisine. Her book focuses on ‘reviving an ancient cuisine’ which she has done by compiling a range of family loved recipes.

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Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Niloufer now resides in Canada and has done so for the past 15 years.  Her book gives a wonderful overview on the history of the Parsi people and their cuisine that they adapted to their local environs. Originally from Persia, Parsis were followers of the Prophet Zarathushtra. Between the 8th and 10th centuries, many fled Persia and headed for India, landing on the shores of Gujarat, where many of them settled. Interestingly the ‘Pars’ from Parsis means Iran. In many respects the cuisine is an amalgamation of Persian and Indian and does have a very distinct flavours. Niloufer talks about ingredients such as ‘saffron, jaggery, cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric’ are all key ingredients in Parsi cooking along side the trinity of garlic, ginger and chillies.

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I love to read cookery books were the recipes have been passed down generations, it’s as if we privy to the inner circles culinary magic. For years I have been after a good korma recipe that holds it’s weight amount curries. I have found them too creamy and often too bland. Niloufer has a wonderful recipe called ‘ Chicken Badami – Almond and Yoghurt Curry’ which will knock your socks off. If you want it less chilli hot then I recommend reducing or taking out the fresh chillies, but for me I like to have a bit of bite within the curry. The Parsi version of this recipe omits excess oil and instead uses ground almonds and yoghurt. It’s very straightforward and whilst mine is not as red in colour as Niloufer’s in the book, it tastes truly wonderful.

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Over the christmas period, many of us are with friends and family over the christmas week. Whilst I love all the traditional food, after about day 3 I crave spice and I think this might be a great one to feed your loved ones. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly as Niloufer uses cups for measurements and most recipes in the UK are in grams and I have added a few more tomatoes, despite mine still not being as red in colour as hers. Otherwise I have remained close to her recipe.

Her book is original, refreshing and lovingly compiled and would make a great gift for those seeking out Parsi recipes. It is fairly compact in size with no more than 40 recipes, but that is more than enough to provide interest and intrigue in the cuisine.  You can order it online here. It is published by Austin Macauley Publishers . Next up for me is masala na khekra – pan fried crabs with spices.

Chicken Badami

adapted from The Art of Parsi Cooking by Niloufer Mavalvala

Serves 6

2 tbsp oil

1 dried bay leaf

1 tsp of freshly grated garlic (paste)

1 tsp of freshly ground ginger (paste)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

10-12 chicken pieces, on the bone and skinned (I find thighs and legs work well)

3 medium sized tomatoes

4 green chillies

230 ml water

245g natural yoghurt with a pinch of salt and sugar

60g ground almonds

1/2 tsp garam masala

  1. Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and place to one side.
  2. In a large deep pan add the oil, on a low heat,  and when it is hot add the bay leaf, ginger, garlic, salt, red chilli, cumin, coriander and turmeric powders and move around the pan and then add the chicken pieces. Continue to move around the pan at intervals so that the spices do not burn.
  3. In a blender add the tomatoes, green chillies and blend to form a smooth paste before adding a little water.
  4. Once the chicken has changed colour add the tomato, chilli paste along with the water and bring to the boil. Cover and cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes, by which time the chicken will have cooked through and the gravy will have thickened up and reduced. Niloufer recommends cooking until there is about 1 cup of gravy remaining or thereabouts.
  6. Let it cool completely.
  7. In a bowl mix the natural yoghurt with a pinch of salt and sugar as well as the ground almonds.
  8. Once the chicken has cooled add the natural yoghurt mixture.
  9. Gently reheat, sprinkle with garam masala powder and then serve. Serve naan alongside.

Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

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Christmas beckons and you are now, most probably, all sorted on what you are going to cook over the coming days, well on Christmas day at least. I don’t know about you but I find the week between Christmas and New Year is filled with feasting and if you have family or friends stopping by you want no fuss food that tastes divine with minimum preparation effort.

This is where my sautéed chicken livers come in. They are so darn tasty and can be rustled up in 10 minutes. Seriously folks, 10 minutes and you have a perfect appetiser or relaxed lunch. If you have a mental block over chicken livers I urge you to put it to side this once and dive right in. Sauteed in Madeira and capers these chicken livers are totally transformed and I love the flavours coming from the crunchy red onions and fresh flat leaf parsley. Served on toasted sourdough and you have yourself a real treat.

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If, like me, you adore chicken livers then do try my chicken liver curry here.

I’m going to be checking out now until mid January, but you can find me on Instagram and twitter as I work my way around Kerala in Southern India. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year full of festive cheer, merriment and of course feasting.

I’ll be back in 2016 with lots of Keralan treats to share with you.

Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

Serves 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 banana shallot, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

400g chicken livers

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp Madeira or Sherry

2 tbsp capers

1 red onion finely sliced

a generous handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

4 this slices of sourdough bread, toasted under the grill on both sides

  1. Turn on the grill so that it is ready to toast your sourdough bread in a few minutes.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and then add the diced shallot and garlic.
  3. After 3 minutes add the chicken livers and a little salt and pepper and let them brown in colour. Gently turn them over so that they heat through evenly. This will take around 6 minutes.
  4. Whilst the livers are browning, slice the red onion and remove the leaves of the flat leaf parsley. Place to one side.
  5. Place the  sourdough bread on a baking tray and lightly sprinkle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Grill it so that it is lightly bronzed on both sides. It happens quickly so keep an eye on it.
  6. Add the Madeira and capers and gently moved around the pan. Turn the heat down and simmer for a further couple of minutes.
  7. To plate up cut the toasted sourdough in half and lay evenly on a serving plate. Sprinkle with a few red onions and parsley. Lay the chicken livers and capers over the toast and then scatter with a little more red onions and parsley.

Eat immediately so that it is still hot.

 


New York Wanderings and a Traditional Bengali Chicken Curry

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I’ve been doing a spot of travelling since my last blog post, hence the slight delay. Mr B and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary with a long weekend in New York. It’s been a decade since I last visited so was really eager to catch up with friends and immerse myself in a city that has the most wonderful, infectious energy and of course, never sleeps.

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We parked ourselves in The Standard, East Village with it’s fabulous vistas spanning the whole of Manhattan with it’s floor to ceiling windows; I never tired of the view from our bedroom.

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The hotel totally lived up to our (high) expectations and the staff made a real effort to make our stay extra special. Would I return? Most definitely.

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Sunrise on our first morning from our room

We walked and walked and walked for hours on end, exploring the little streets in the Villages and Soho with it’s stunning wrought ironwork on the sides of the buildings.

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To give us bursts of energy we would refuel with fresh juices from the juice trailers parked in the streets. With around 80 different juice combinations to choose from it was hard to decide which one to pick. At around $4 a pop they are great value and ridiculously healthy – a win win.

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They cleanse the body and totally refresh the tired wanderer. Competitively priced and they would do so well here in London – a great business idea for a budding entrepreneur!!

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The stunning High Line with the old tracks visible

The High Line really impressed us – a great example of urban regeneration. It’s a stunning elevated greenway mile that used to be the New York central rail road spur, known as the West Side Line. It spans the meat packing district all the way up to Chelsea and is cleverly designed with shrubs, plants and trees interspersed with benches and seating areas around and on top of the old tracks. I particularly loved the raised seating, similar to an amphitheatre that looks over one of the roads with a huge glass window.

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Clever designs and architecture throughout the High Line

Instead of watching a movie you sit and watch the traffic buzz beneath you. Later in the day when I was passing underneath it in a taxi it almost looked like advertising poster, and then I saw the people moving around. A clever effect and a fun way to be creative with the old rail road.

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Walkways along the High Line 

The peace and serenity that the High Line offers is a welcome respite from the manic life that goes on down below. If you are planning a trip my recommendation would be to go early as it definitely becomes crowded as the run rises higher in the sky.

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Me sitting on the attractive wooden seating on the High Line

Friends beckoned us over to Brooklyn, a place I definitely want to explore further on my next visit, to an area that is gentrifying and that has become rather hip – called Dumbo. Looking across at Manhattan from the Brooklyn side of New York, gave a new perspective to this sprawling city. The sun was shining and the crowds were out and if the ice cream queue at The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory had anything to go by the area of Dumbo has becoming hugely popular.

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Looking back at Manhattan from Dumbo in Brooklyn

A couple other must-see destinations for foodies is the Italian food emporium of Eataly, which is just by the famous Flatiron building, which in itself is piece of interesting architecture worth seeing.

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 The famous Flatiron building

It’s only a matter of time before we’ll see an Eataly in London, having already got branches outside the US in Dubai, Japan, Istanbul and Italy itself.  The shop is bursting at the seems with delicious Italian produce, and yet it has a calm serenity that makes wandering around it very pleasant indeed. There are bars and a couple of cafe’s (the one on the roof is perfect for sunny summer days and has a huge selection of beers) and it’s quite acceptable to browse around the store with a glass of wine in your hand. All very civilised if you ask me.

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The other food mecca worth seeking out is Chelsea Market, not far from the High Line, so perhaps the perfect pit stop after a High Line stroll. It’s a stunning food court with a great atmosphere and an incredible choice of eateries, bars and cafes.

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strolling through Chelsea Market – loving the exposed bricks

Aside from eating, walking and socialising we managed to squeeze in a little culture with a visit to the ‘The Frick Collection’ . Based in the Upper East Side it gave us a great excuse to explore the neighbourhood and central park. The collection itself is fascinating and housed in the mansion of the wealthy industrialist Henry Frick, one of America’s greatest art collectors who died in 1919. His house contains many masterpieces of painting, sculpture and decorative art that the public are freely allowed to view and admire. He bequeathed the house and all it’s contents to the public upon his death. It’s a relatively small collection so won’t take too long to amble around so is easy to fit into a quick stop in New York. Go visit.

New York is jammed full of incredible restaurants. A list of some of those we visited is listed below:

The Dutch – happening bar with tasty American food and an exciting wine list. Based in Soho.

Lafayette – sister restaurant to The Dutch (we did not realise this at the time). Larger in size to The Dutch and a little more formal. More French style menu.

Atrium – This Dumbo restaurant is buzzy with a delicious brunch/lunch menu. Mr B found the pulled pork bun too small for his liking – I on the other hand found the size spot on. Interesting foliage structure upon the main wall.

Spice Market – based in the Meatpacking District across the road from Soho House. Old kid on the block but still going strong. Large restaurant so not intimate and filled with locals, but seriously tasty Asian food.

Noho Star – Neighbourhood cafe in East Village. Highly recommend the spicy Mexican Huevos Rancheros. Deeeelish.

Cafe Standard – Within the Standard Hotel East Village, this hip eatery is always buzzing and has a great menu with delicious juices.

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Back in London we craved spicy Indian food so rustled up one of our favourite chicken curries. We tend to cook it on the bone (seriously it tastes much better this way), but if the thought of cooking and eating off the bone doesn’t appeal simply cook the curry with breast and boneless chicken thighs instead.

Eating nourishing, homely food also really helps with jetlag ;0)

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Traditional Bengali Chicken Curry

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 chicken, cut into 10/12 pieces and skin removed

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

4 cloves

5 cardamom pods, split open

1 pieces of cinnamon bark, split into three

2 tsp salt

8 garlic cloves, kept whole

2 tsp of fresh ginger paste

4 medium potatoes, chopped in two

2 or 3 large carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 tbsp natural yoghurt

2 tbsp of tinned chopped tomatoes

1. In a large deep pan heat up the oil. Place the onion in the oil and gently fry until the onion becomes translucent and soft. This should take around 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and allow them to whiten completely. Turn them at intervals so that all sides of the chicken pieces are white. This will take around 10 minutes.

3. Once whitened add all the spices and salt followed by the potatoes, garlic cloves, carrots, tomatoes and yoghurt. Stir in well so that the chicken and vegetables are completely coated in the spices.

4. On a medium heat allow the curry to cook through, stirring at intervals. No extra water is needed as the chicken pieces release plenty of water during cooking.

5. After 40 minutes the curry should be completely cooked. Using a knife make sure the carrots and potatoes are soft. If they remain hard, stir into the sauce and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve with rice or Indian bread. As it is on the bone it is easier to eat the traditional Indian way – with your right hand -but I’ll leave that for you to decide.


Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Chilli Chocolate Truffles

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Foodie gifts are always the best. Not only do they show effort and thought but are guaranteed to bring a smile to the receiver and a warm fuzzy feeling to the giver. Recently friends who came for supper bought along four bags of spices from Turkey that they had picked up on a recent business trip. So I now have bags of sumac and spice rubs – you can imagine how overjoyed I was.

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Time permitting, I like to take food gifts, sometimes homemade sometimes not, to friends who are hosting suppers. I find my chipotle sauce always goes down well, or in fact any of my chutneys under the chutney section in my recipe library. Chocolate truffles are always a crowd pleaser and are also perfect for bringing out at the end of a dinner. They take minimal effort to make and you can make them a few days in advance and then store them in the fridge.

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I am more partial to milk than dark chocolate so I have double the amount of milk chocolate to dark, I find this ration works really well. You can do the opposite if you prefer dark. You can also get creative with these truffles and instead of adding cinnamon, sea salt and chilli flakes, who can add just one or perhaps another spice such as cardamom, or perhaps fresh mint, coconut, ginger, nuts, raisons, bacon – the possibilities are endless.

Personally I love the combination of cinnamon, sea salt and a pinch of chilli flakes. Give them a try and leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

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Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Chilli Chocolate Truffles

200ml double cream

100g Green & Black milk chocolate 37% cocoa with sea salt

50g Green & Black dark chocolate 70% cocoa

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1  pinch of sea salt

1 pinch of chilli flakes

1 tbsp cocoa powder – for dusting

1. Place the milk and dark chocolate in a freezer bag and seal. Use a rolling pin to bash the chocolate into small pieces.

2. Gently warm the cream in a saucepan. When hot take off the heat and pour the broken up pieces of chocolate into the saucepan along with the cinnamon powder, sea salt and chilli flakes. The chocolate will melt within a couple of minutes. Give a good stir and taste to see if you like the flavour. Add a little more cinnamon powder, sea salt or chilli flakes as your taste requires.

3. Place into a bowl and place in the fridge for an hour and a half, by which time the chocolate will have become firmer to handle.

4. Roll in the palms of your hands to form small bite sized balls. I prefer them to look a little uneven compared to beautifully neat balls, but it’s a personal preference. Please note this part can become a little messy!

5. Roll in the cocoa powder and store  in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to eat. They will last for up to a week.

Instead of rolling the truffles in cocoa powder you could roll in pistachio, hazelnuts or coconut. Experiment and see what works for you.

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Rainbow Layer Cake

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I really hadn’t planned on making a blog post out of a rainbow layer cake, hence the rather limited, and not particularly styled photos, but the outcome was somewhat unexpected in that it looked and tasted rather good and definitely had the appropriate wow factor (from a child’s perspective!). I have never really been a big cake maker, or eater of cake for that matter, largely due to the fact that I don’t have a sweet tooth and by and large I tend to cook what I like eating – mainly savoury dishes that have herbs and spices in them of course!

However, when it comes to children’s celebrations a cake is very much required and so I tend to step up (well actually perhaps that is a little lie as I sometimes pass the buck to my mother, father, or cousin who are far better cake makers than me!) and usually opt for a Victoria sponge, chocolate or banana and walnut cake or maybe even some little cupcakes.

This time however, I thought I would give myself a bit of a challenge and try making a rainbow layer cake. Hey even if the cake were to taste bad, the looks alone would make up for it – well that’s kind of what I was thinking anyway.

Thankfully the cake ticked all the boxes and was surprisingly fun to make. It really felt like creating a cake from an artists colour palate.  I was also intrigued by the fact the recipe required soya milk. I don’t know why but I have never really had the need to drink soya milk, what with being a huge cows milk drinker (I need it when eating very spicy food). The taste of soya milk, however, completely surprised me as it was deliciously sweet and a genuinely lovely drink in its own right. I spotted soya milk with hazelnuts in the shops so will definitely be picking up a carton of that very soon.

So when you have a big celebration to prepare for try making this cake to wow the crowds, it won’t let you down.

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This cake had been slightly ‘child’ handled by the time this photo was taken, however, I assure you it looked a lot more pristine to begin with.

So here is what you need to do.

Rainbow Layer Cake

Adapted from Kitchen Tested

 (Melinda has some great step-by-step photos so check out her blog to get more of an idea)

325g plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

225g margarine (I always use Stork for cake baking)

475g caster sugar

365 ml soya milk

5 egg whites

2 tsp vanilla extract

purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red gel food colour (I use Dr Oetker’s food colours)

approx 550g  cream cheese style icing (if you are not making your own and want to save time Betty Crocker’s tastes good – 2 pots should be enough, but it depends on how much icing you like in and on your cake)

vegetable spray/oil

1. Preheat your oven(s) to 180 degrees. If you have just one you will need to cook the sponges in batches but this will not take long as they are quick to cook!

2. Line six 9 inch (round) baking tins with baking parchment. Spray or rub in a little oil into each tin so that the sponge will easily come away from the parchment after cooking.

3. Ideally mix the margarine and sugar together in an electric mixer if you have one, or by hand, to form a cream.

4. Gradually add the egg whites to the cream along with the vanilla extract.

5. In a separate bowl mix the sieved flour, baking powder and salt and then slowly add the flour mixture and the soya milk to the margarine cream, alternating as you do so. (eg: flour, milk, flour, milk etc). The mixture will seem fairly runny at this stage but do not worry as it will firm up nicely when cooking.

6. Pour the mixture equally into six individual bowls and then add one food colour per bowl. I tend to use the whole gel packet per bowl so as to get a bright, vivid colour. Mix in thoroughly and pour into the six baking tins.

7. Place in the oven for 15 minutes and then leave to cool on a wire rack before gently turning out and removing the baking parchment.

8. The purple sponge needs to be at the bottom. Gently smooth the cream cheese style icing on its surface before adding the blue sponge and repeat by adding the cream cheese style icing. Then add the green, yellow, orange and red, repeating the same process as you do so. It does not have to be particularly neat as you will be covering up with the outer rim icing! Once all the sponges are in place continue to evenly spread the icing over the sides of the sponges so that no sponge is showing. You could make this outer icing any colour you fancy, but I thought white worked well and showed off the rainbow effect within perfectly.

Sprinkle with edible glitter or hundreds and thousands and serve to your guests.


Rose Lassi – a drink fit for a Queen

I think I have found the perfect summer drink for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, to sip whilst on board the royal boat that will take her down the Thames this weekend to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. It has a sufficient amount of sugar in it to give her the necessary energy boost to last the occasion and has a hint of decadence with the sweet aromas of rose water. Being non alcoholic and yoghurt based it is wonderfully cooling and lines the stomach well, ahead of the feasts that will no doubt follow.

The drink in question – drum roll please –  is Rose Lassi.

It is quick and easy to prepare and I assure you is a crowd pleaser, for those preferring to keep off the alcohol.

Lassi drinks are commonplace in the Indian subcontinent and it is customary, in many households, to have a jug of it in the fridge ready for when guests drop by. Sweet, salt or mango are common flavours, but there is so much potential for many more delicate flavours to be added. How about mint, peach, strawberry, raspberry?  My favourite of late has been rose, I hope you agree, it is a drink fit for a Queen.

Rose Lassi

Makes 4 glasses (in the size of glass that I used in the photos)

450ml plain natural yoghurt

75g soft light brown sugar (or white if you do not have brown to hand)

2 tbsp rose water

3 tbsp water

4 ice cubes

1. Using a hand whisk or blender mix the yoghurt, sugar, water and rose water together so that it begins to froth. It will only take about 30 seconds.

2. If using a hand whisk, crush the ice in a plastic bag using a rolling pin and add to the other ingredients. For speed and ease I use a blender. Once there is a sufficient amount of froth pour into glasses and serve immediately.


Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Quail Scotch Eggs – with a twist!

For those who like a bit of tradition and flag flying this coming weekend is going to be super HUGE in the UK as it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which marks her 60th anniversary on the throne, impressive by anyone’s standards.

The celebrations will stretch far and wide and, for the most part, everyone seems to be really embracing the whole event. I, for one, am looking forward to watching the ‘Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant’, which is going to be one of the largest flotilla of boats to ever sail down the Thames. I was fortunate to be in Amsterdam a number of years ago, during their famous ‘SAIL Amsterdam’, which only occurs every 5 years and consists of thousands of boats, including the  impressive tall ships, gathering together on the waterways that make up Amsterdam. If the Thames Pageant is going to be anything like Sail then we are going to be in for a real spectacular treat.

High streets and retailers have gone into cool Britannia overdrive with a plethora of merchandise celebrating the Diamond Jubilee. British designers such as Vivienne Westwood  have even created a whole collection – the ‘Capsule Collection’ – to honour, in her own rock hard/edgy way that we so love, the Diamond Jubilee. There are scents, patterened tights and even make-up lines who are all adding their own twist and mark on the occasion. The National Portrait gallery in London has even dedicated a whole exhibition to Her Majesty the Queen.

Union Jack bunting is literally up everywhere and similarly to when Will and Kate tied the knot, street parties will be happening up and down the land. It’s neighbourly, jolly and brings everyone together over a glass of Pimms and a scone with jam and clotted cream or whatever English fancy floats your boat.

There are certain foods which scream ‘I’m British’ such as the trifle, scones (as above), sticky toffee pudding – well perhaps not in this heat,  cocktail sausages, egg, salmon or cucumber sandwiches, Eton mess….but for me I thought the scotch egg was synonymous with Britishness. I have made up my own recipe for making them and instead of using hens’ eggs, I thought that using quail eggs would be a dainty alternative and more attractive finger food. I have made two varieties, which give them an individual twist – either black pudding scotch eggs or fresh red chilli scotch eggs.  I initally prepared 12 however in a very short space of time they were consumed, so another batch of 12 was made the following day.

What little dainties will you be cooking for your Diamond Jubilee party?

Queen’s Jubilee Quail Scotch Eggs

Makes 12 scotch eggs

12 quail eggs

325g sausagemeat

50g black pudding

1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

50g panko breadcrumbs

2 hen eggs, beaten

sunflower oil

1. Separate the sausagemeat out evenly into two separate bowls. I used sausages and then split them open and discarded the outer skin, but you can also simply buy a packet of sausagemeat.

2. Place the black pudding into one of the bowls of separated sausagemeat and the finely chopped red chilli into the other. Use your hands to mix together the ingredients.

3. Place the panko breadcrumbs (I also used these Japanese breadcrumbs here) in a separate bowl and whisk the hen eggs into another bowl.

4. Gently place the quail eggs in boiling water for just under 3 minutes, then drain under cold water and peel the shells and set aside.

5. Using damp hands create a layer of  the sausagemeat/black pudding around 6 of the quail eggs so that they look like little meatballs. Damp hands will allow you to work more easily with the sausagemeat. With the remaining 6 eggs cover with the sausagemeat and red chilli. Then dip each scotch egg into the whisked hen eggs to coat completely and then into the breadcumbs.

6. Fill a third of a small deep pan with sunflower oil and gently heat up. When it is hot – drop a couple of panko breadcrumbs into the oil and if it sizzles the oil is ready.

7. One at a time, place the scotch eggs gently into the hot oil. I suggest cooking in batches of three at at time as you want to make sure that they are evenly cooked. Using a slotted spoon turn the scotch eggs over so that they are evenly cooked through and are golden brown. After 3 minutes transfer them to a preheated oven (160 degrees if using a fan oven), for a further 2-3 minutes.

8. Serve warm or  at room temperature.


Christmas Check List

I’m back. My computer has been on the blink, coupled with the fact that Mr B, big A and little Z have been frolicking in the snow in Bavaria, which has made it harder than usual to blog.

It’s Christmas eve and the troops arrive at 2pm. I am hosting this year so it’s going to be full on. Thankfully Mr B is a very able pair of hands in the kitchen too, so together we’ll keep the food preparation flowing and the mulled wine topped up in everyones glasses. Am I prepared?

Presents wrapped – check

Food all delivered – check

Christmas foliage scattered around the house – check

Sufficient beverages to appeal to everyone – check

Carols on the ipod to the ready – check

Recipes all lined up – check.

I have had a few requests asking what I am cooking so here goes:

Christmas eve 

Starter: A medley of Thai starters -spring rolls, prawn toast,dim sum.

Main: Seabass with a chilli and ginger baste – (Daddy if you are reading this I promise there will not be too much chilli!) This is a recipe from my recent course at Billingsgate market fish course. I will post it up in the new year in more detail.

Pudding: a surprise (I am still working on this one)

Christmas Day

 Lunch-

Starter: smoked salmon

Main: Turkey, stuffing balls made of pork, fresh herbs and apple, sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta, bread sauce, roast potatoes,  parsnips, caramelized carrots, red cabbage

Pudding: Christmas pudding, mince pies, Bill Granger’s vanilla-poached apricots and cheeses

Supper – (if people are still hungry)

Bill Granger’s puy lentil soup, game pie, cheeses, fresh salad

followed by christmas cake and fruit

Boxing Day

Brunch: Eggs Florentine with my hollandaise sauce on toasted muffins

Looooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggg WALK

Supper:

Starter – Mushrooms with fresh herbs on toast

Main – Christmas ham with potatoes and my homemade chutney and piccalilli (recipe up on my site soon I promise)

Pudding – Leftovers from Christmas day

27th

Breakfast – Mexican toast (think French toast Mexican style!)

Lunch – Ham, Turkey and Leek Pie – recipe from lovefoodhatewaste.

The troops leave.

Have a wonderful christmas everyone and I’ll be back very soon with more recipes and photos.