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.

 


Foodies Christmas Wish List

Where has this year gone? Faster than the Japanese bullet train out of Tokyo, if you ask me. Before you know it Father Christmas will climbing down the chimney, so I thought some gift inspiration for your foodie loved ones might be rather helpful. I have included a wide range of present ideas: from those you can eat, drink, serve, read and experience. Hopefully there will be a few that will jump out at you. At the bottom of the post I have listed the order of the products with a bit more info and if you click on the name of the product it will send you through to the website where you can buy the product. They range in price from stocking filler ideas to more extravagant presents to hopefully suit everyones budget.

I’d love to know what stands out to you so do leave me a quick comment below.

 

 

Nikkei Cuisine by Luiz Hara Competent homecooks will adore supper club guru and food blogger ‘Luiz Hara’s’ first cook book, recently published by Jacqui Small. It has been described as ‘the first cookery book outside of Latin America to explore the exciting marriage of Japanese and South American cuisines’. The photographs are a feast for the eyes and the recipes so different and exciting that just leafing through the pages itself is wonderfully exciting.

Cheeky Smelly Garlic Pickle Recently in Selfridges as part of ‘Meet the Makers’ campaign this tasty little pickle is utterly moorish and I love a dollop of it on most savoury things. Cheeky Food Company also have some adorable pickle, chutney and sprinkle hampers for £14. Other pickles and chutneys  include: messy mango and tickly tamarind. I also adore their tasty sprinkles: silly sesame, pecky peanut and nutter coconut. Perfect stocking fillers. Check out their site on the link of their name.

Stone Pestle and Mortar by Tom Dixon – How beautiful is this? This is the Queen of all pestle and mortars. Stunningly crafted it would fit right in in a contemporary kitchen. Big love.

Sipsmith Quarterly Sipping Service – For those who like surprises this is a fabulous gift for gin lovers. Every 3 months Sipsmith select the 4 best gins they have trialled that season – and send them directly to you. It will mean you get first dibs on knowing what these gins are, finding out what’s happening behind their blue Distillery Doors, getting to taste them, and letting them know what you think.

Dreambirds Pitcher – My brother and his ladylove bought me the cake stand version of this and I absolutely adore it. It’s designed by South African artist Ruan Hoffmann. A veritable master at combining traditional craftsmanship with modern art, the Johannesburg artist continues to span the surfaces of everything from ceramics to paper goods with his exquisite motifs. Gorgeous gift for someone special.

Turmeric, Original, Cacao and Berry Almond Milk by The Pressery – The Pressery is THE almond milk company to purchase your almond milk beverages from.  Set up by dynamo duo Chi-San Wan and Natali Stajcic they will soon be launching a high-quality and pure, long-life almond milk. They sell in a number of London based outlets but watch this space as it won’t be long before you will be seeing this brand of almond milk all around the UK and beyond.

Lulu Cocktail Glasses Set of Four – I rather love these miss matching cocktail glasses. Fun, quirky and yet elegant, they make cocktail drinking that bit more fun.

Acacia Honey with Black Truffles – Award winning honey with black truffles is a gift from the gods. How exciting would it be to receive this as a gift. Definitely on my radar to pick up a pot or three. Easy to order online through Fine Food Specialist

Citrus Squeeze Bottle Opener – at £10 this is the perfect stocking filler. Stylish, sophisticated and handmade.

Taste: The Infographic Book of Food by Laura Rowe & Vicki Turner – This book is refreshingly different and original in that it charts history and predicts trends with the help of naturally-styled imagery and fact-packed illustrations. It’s the type of book that you’ll want to pick up and dive into from time to time. Perfect for a coffee table as well as in the kitchen.

Form Square Tray by Tom Dixon – Beautiful crafted tray made from spun and welded brass sheet. It has then been polished and dipped in a warm gold wash. Sophisticated and decadent I think this would be the centre piece of any occasion with Christmas cocktails, mulled wine or champagne.

Tikapur Oven Mitts – The Kantha stitching on these mitts won me over. I think they would look perfect in any country cottage or city dwelling.

Perello Pitted Olives THE tastiest olives around. Seriously they are so good I could eat cans of them. Perfect stocking fillers. Deliamo offer a wide range of goodies perfect for the foodie in your family and can deliver.

Palmeral Mug White/Green – If you are into prints and patterns, House of Hackney, is the epitome of cool. Making a trip to the Shoreditch High Street store itself is highly recommended although you will find it hard to drag yourself away.  I adore the whole Palmeral range from the mugs to the plates and teapot. Start the collection by purchasing a mug and then build from there, but trust me when I say you won’t be able to stop at just one.

Nudo Adopt  We all have family members or friends who are tricky to buy for as they have everything. This gift is perfect for said individuals.  I have, in fact, bought it a couple of times for friends and they’ve loved it as it is so original gift. It’s simple. All you do is choose olive oil or tea. If you go for the former you adopt a tree in Italy and receive three 500ml tins or an ongoing subscription – whereby they send you three tins 4x a year. You can also visit the olive grove should you happen to be in Italy (I see a good ruse for a holiday here ;o) and 20% off Nudo products. If you opt for the tea you adopt a tea garden in Darjeeling. Like the olive groves you can also visit it as well, which would be pretty special. You receive either 125g tea sachet as a one off or you can have it sent to you quarterly. What’s not to love.

Easy Tasty Magic – Truffle Salt – Stocked in Selfridges this truffle salt sounds wonderfully decadent and I adore the turquoise packaging – it is certainly eye catching.

A Year in Cheese by Alex and Leo Guarneri – This beautiful cookbook come from the team behind the  famous artisan cheese shop Androuet, which was established in Paris in 1909 and opened in fashionable Spitalfields in London in 2009. Did you know that cheese like vegetables are seasonal? This wonderfully crafted book walks us through what to eat when sharing delicious recipes along the way. The photographs are wonderful – matt and atmospheric and make me actually want to cook the recipes. An absolute must for any lover of cheese. Published by Frances Lincoln.

Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Round Casserole – in Cool Mint (of course) – Many moons ago I received one of these casserole dishes from Le Creuset as a wedding present and I can honestly say that I use it all the time. Cast iron, whilst obviously heavy, does actually cook the food really well. It is perfect for stews, casseroles and curries as it holds in the heat well and is large enough to feed a number of mouths. At £145 it’s not cheap but the fact that they really do last a life time it is certainly a very worthwhile investment. I adore the cool mint colour that they have bought out. Which is your favourite colour?

Gleaming Feather Cocktail Shaker – I thought this cocktail shaker would be perfect to accompany either Good Things To Drink or Wild Drinks and Cocktails.

Nudo Olive Oils – I have been a fan of Nudo oils for years. This set of three is a gorgeous spoiling present. Extra virgin olive oil with lemons, extra virgin olive oil with Sicilian chillies and extra virgin cold press. Great packaging to boot.

Good Things To Drink – Tis the season and all so what better way to get in the festive mood than to have a tome to help guide you. Ryan Chetiyawardana (the man behind award-winning London bars White Lyan and Dandelyan) is the man to help you guide you with his user friendly cocktail recipes to create in the home. As well as winter feasting and fireside serves he has chapters focusing on ‘morning buzz’, ‘market fresh’, ‘summer social sips’, ‘pre-dinner’, ‘friday nights’ and ‘rambles’. Published by Frances Lincoln I can see it being a christmas hit.

Portland Bar Set  – You have the book and the cocktail shaker so may as well look like a pro with this Portland bar set. Cocktail making has never been so stylish.

Gimmer Ring Coaster – I adore copper and think these coasters are perfectly formed in every way.

Vida Sky Salad Set  – Simple and elegant. I have my heart set on a pair of these for christmas.

High As A Moon Mug – Stylish mug for the coffee/tea drinker.

Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Tan – It’s time folks to embrace drinks featuring local, fresh, or foraged ingredients and craft drink expert Emily Tan’s new book will show you how.  She’ll teach you the techniques you need to know to handcraft you own infused waters, syrups, vinegars, tonics, spirits, wines and sodas.

Glass Teapot With Porcelain Infuser 700ml – A graceful glass design, the Weave teapot is designed to celebrate the ancient Chinese art of tea brewing. Designed and made in Shanghai by Loveramics, this simple piece combines smooth modern style and functionality to produce a cup of tea tailored to your taste buds. I adore it and think it would make the perfect gift for any tea enthusiast.

Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer – Fermentation expert Amanda Feifer serves as your guide, showing you, step by step, how you can create traditional, delicious fermented food at home, using only simply ingredients and a little time. Using only veggies, a few spices and a glass jar, you can make zucchini bread pickles, curried cauliflower pickles, the simplest sauerkraut, green bean kimchi and more!

Squirrel Nut Cracker  Christmas is all about cracking open nuts around the fire. So this whimsical squirrel nut cracker is both charming and useful.

Pimp my Rice by Nisha Katona – Nisha is a food writer, Indian cookery teacher and founder of Mowgli Street Food in Liverpool and Manchester. Her first cookbook focuses on rice as its star ingredient. The world loves rice right and Nisha has come up with a wide array of exciting recipes incorporating rice in refreshingly original ways. From Lebanese rose petal rice to pimped rice piri piri, her recipes breath a new lease of life into plain boiled rice. Published by Watkins Publishing it is out now.

 

HAPPY SHOPPING

 

Don’t forget to leave comment below to let me know what takes your fancy.