Chocolate, Chilli and Cinnamon Fondants with Cardamom Chantilly Cream

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Happy New Year everyone. As January strides forth I know that everyone sets out with very good intentions to exercise more, drink less, read more, be more sociable, cook more, be healthier and I honestly  think that to rebalance and set goals is a good thing. I am realistic though and I know that by February some of our old ways will have crept back.

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This pudding is probably the last thing you feel like eating in January after all the excesses of Christmas, but I think it is definitely a good one to have up your sleeve if you are having guests over. It is rich and decadent (I have to share a pot) and can be made well in advanced. I often make up a batch and then freeze them until I am ready to use them. From frozen, it’s simply a case of putting them in a preheated oven (180 degrees) for 15-17 minutes and then they are ready. If you bake them without freezing them they only take  10-12 minutes.  Sponge like on the outside and rich molten larva on the inside. How easy is that?

Cardamom Chantilly cream is the perfect companion to the fondants and again very quick to whip up, literally. The cream takes the richness off the fondants and I personally love the taste of cardamom so think it works really well with the chocolate. I hope you agree.

So when you are back to eating chocolate give this a try and let me know how you get on. I can guarantee you will impress your guests.

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Chocolate, Chilli and Cinnamon Fondants

makes 8

2 tbsp butter, melted

cocoa powder, for dusting

200g cooking chocolate, broken up – I like this one (sometimes I use 100g dark and 100g milk)

200g unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

4 egg yolks only

200g plain flour

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp cinnamon powder

icing sugar for dusting

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Cardamom Chantilly Cream

250ml double cream

2 tbsp caster sugar

7 cardamom pods opened and then the seeds grounded

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1. Using the 2 tablespoons of melted butter brush the inside of the fondant moulds and then place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the freezer and coat once again and immediately after coating one fondant mould add a little cocoa powder so that you completely cover the inside of the mould.

3. Preheat your oven (I use a fan oven) to 180 degrees.

4. In a pan gently boil some water and then place a bowl in the pan with the broken cooking chocolate and butter. Let the butter and chocolate gradually melt, stirring at intervals.

5. In a mixing bowl whisk (I use an electric whisk) the eggs, egg yolks and sugar so that it thickens slightly. This will take a couple of minutes. Add the flour and then gradually pour in the melted chocolate and butter. Continue to whisk. Add the chilli flakes and cinnamon. Taste to check on flavour. I sometimes add more chilli flakes at this stage, but it’s up to you!

6. Pour the chocolate mixture into a measuring jug and then pour into the moulds so that they are 3/4 full.

7. You can either put them in the freezer at this point, ready to use at another time or you can place in the oven immediately. If cooking from frozen place them on the centre shelf for 15-17 minutes. If cooking immediately cook them for 10 minutes. I like them really soft in the middle but if you prefer them less runny in the middle then leave them in the oven for an extra minute or two max.

8. Once cooked leave to rest for a minute before placing a plate on top of the mould and turning upside down so that it is the right way up. The mould will easily come away from the chocolate fondant. Should it need a helping hand gently shake making sure to hold the plate firmly in place.

9. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve with cardamom chantilly cream, which perfectly balances the richness of the chocolate with the smooth subtle tones of the the cardamom and cream.

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Cardamom Chantilly Cream

1. Pour the double cream into a mixing bowl and whisk so that it firms up and peeks are created.

2. Add the caster sugar and grounded cardamom and continue to whisk so that it become light, thick and fluffy.

Store in the fridge until ready to use.


Spiced Pilau Rice

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As winter is officially here and the nights are drawing in so our diet begins to crave more hearty filling food. Stew and warming curries get given centre stage during the winter months, well at least they do in my household. I realise that I have never posted a pilau rice dish, which would be a great accompaniment with a wide range of curries. Plain basmati rice is all very well but if you delicately spice it and accompany it with some nuts or fruit, it just adds a lovely new fragrant dimension to the meal and really only takes a couple of extra minutes to prepare.

I find my spiced pilau rice is really versatile as it works equally well with Middle Eastern dishes as well as Indian curries.

 

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The three C’s are wonderful spices: cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick and give a warming aroma to any dish. I also have a particular weakness for cardamom in sweet dishes, but that’s for another post. Star anise not only looks inviting but also has a delicate aniseed smell and taste and is used a lot in Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. The queen of spices is saffron – one of the most expensive so it is used sparingly, hence only a pinch used in this dish. If you do not have saffron you could use a generous pinch of ground turmeric instead, which will give a yellow hue.

 

 

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I used blanched almonds this time, but depending on what is in my cupboard I may use cashew nuts or even unsalted peanuts. If you are serving a more Middle Eastern dish then pistachio nuts would also work really well.

Let me know how you get on. Send me a photo of your dish and accompanying curry to my twitter account and I will retweet it to all my followers. Is there any particular pilau rice that you make at home? How does if differ to my spiced pilau?

 

 

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Spiced Pilau Rice

serves 4

1/2 tbsp ghee/butter

7cm cinnamon stick, broken in two

2 star anise

4 cardamom pods, slightly opened

3 cloves

190g basmati rice (Approx one handful per person)

350ml cold water

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp hot milk

1 large pinch of saffron (or ground turmeric)

1 tsbp rose water

2 tbsp blanched almonds or cashew nuts

1. First rinse the rice a couple of times with cold water so that the water runs clear and not cloudy. Drain and set aside. If you have time then soak the rice in cold water for 10 minutes then drain.

2. Heat the milk and then place the saffron in the milk. Give a good stir. Leave to soak whilst you prepare the rice.

3. In a pan heat the ghee or butter and when it is melted add the star anise, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Let them sizzle away for half a minute, before adding the drained rice and salt and stirring together. Add the cold water. As a rule I always make sure that the water is about 1/3 of your smallest finger above the rice. Stir and then let the rice come to the boil which will take a couple of minutes.

4. Once it has come to the boil, turn the heat down and place the lid on the pan. Let the rice gently cook and steam away for 8 minutes. By this time small holes will have appeared in the top of the rice. Turn the heat off and leave the lid on the rice so that it can steam for a further 10 minutes.

5. In a small frying pan dry roast the blanched almonds or cashew nuts for a couple of minutes so that they begin to bronze.

6. Place the saffron milk and rose water over the rice and then gently fluff it up with a fork.

7. Scatter over a platter with the nuts over the top.

Serve with any Indian dal, vegetable, meat or fish curry. It also works really well with Middle Eastern meat or fish dishes.

 

 

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Rajasthani Kick-Ass Lamb Curry – Laal Maas

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Sometimes a kick-ass curry is what one needs to enliven the senses and to feel blessed to be alive. It also does wonders if you are suffering from a cold or feeling a little run down. This curry, known as Laal Maas – which in Hindi translates as  ‘red meat’ – is a traditional Rajasthani dish that is loved, adored and eaten in every Rajasthani household. My version is not ‘blow your brains out’ chilli hot, although it does have more heat than the majority of my Indian curries on my blog.  I think if you generally like spice then this will appeal. If you are more of a korma person then I would give laal maas a wide berth.

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I cooked it earlier in the week when I had a bunch of friends over for supper and not one lamb morsel or spoonful of sauce was left. I served it with an ivy gourd/tindora/gentleman’s toes curry – see recipe here as I felt they would compliment and not overpower one another. I also made some pakora with some homemade coriander chutney and tamarind and date chutney – recipes for all of these I will post soon.

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Rajasthani cooking is traditionally a lot spicy than Bengali and this dish clearly demonstrates this. It is not a hot as you may think, largely owning to the Kashmiri chilli powder that is added which gives the curry a deep red colour but not so much heat that it is difficult to eat. The yoghurt also tones the down the heat making it enjoyably palatable. Not one of my guests requested milk to deaden the heat or were perspiring uncontrollably. So give it a go. I like to cook it earlier in the day and then gently reheat before serving. I find that leaving it to rest a while before reheating also calms the heat so don’t stress if you taste a spoonful when it is cooking in the first instance as it will calm down if it is left for a few hours.

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Laal Maas – Rajasthani Kick-Ass Lamb Curry

Serves 6

125ml vegetable oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

6 cloves

6 fresh red chillies, storks removed (you can also used dried – see footnote)

1/2 mace blade

6 green cardamom pods, opened

2 black cardamom pods

2 large red onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 tbsp ginger paste

1.2kg lamb, diced

2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp salt

250g plain yoghurt, whisked

coriander to serve – optional

1. Using a pestle and mortar (or a bowl and the end of a rolling pan if you do not have one), gently bash the green cardamom pods so that they open and some of the seeds come out. Place to one side. If you are making your own ginger and garlic paste I find gently grating them first is the best way to form a paste. Add a drop or two of water to make a more paste like consistency. For this recipe I used a jar of garlic paste and ginger paste for ease and speed.

2. In a large pan or casserole dish add the oil and when it is hot, but on a medium heat, add the cumin seeds and move them around the pan for 30 seconds to allow the flavours to open up.

3. Add the chilli, the green and black cardamom pods, mace blade and cloves and continue to move around the pan for a further minute.

4. Add the sliced onion and cook on a low heat for 6-8 minutes, by which time the onion will begin to brown in colour.

5. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir in well with the other ingredients and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.

6. Now add the diced lamb and completely coat in all the ingredients. Add the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder and salt and leave to cook gently so the lamb has browned – this will take up to 10 minutes.

7. Place the whisked yoghurt into the pan and fold into the lamb. Cook for a further 5 minutes, before reducing the heat and allowing the lamb to simmer in the sauce for 40 minutes. Continue to stir intermittently.

8. Ideally cook this curry at least a few hours before serving allowing the curry to rest. When you are ready to eat gently reheat and if you like scatter with coriander before serving.

Serve with Basmalti rice or Indian flat bread to mop.

The same curry can be made easily with either chicken or goat. 

You can also used dried Kashmiri chillies. Best to soak them in warm water for 10 minutes and then either keep them whole or blitz them to make a coarse paste. 

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Prague Adventures and Spiced Mulled Wine

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I’ve been on a little jaunt across to Prague since my last post. As is customary around this time of year my family like to spend a few days somewhere really cold where we can wrap up warm (I wore five layers most days), visit the christmas markets, eat lardy food and soak up a bit of culture. Prague hit the spot and besides I have always wanted to return as my last visit was interrupted the whole time by work calls from London. This time I vowed to turn off my phone and all communication with the outside world.

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The best way to explore any city is by foot or bike, although across cobble stones the former mode of transport is by far more advisable. So for three full days we walked around the old city across the bridges, through the various squares, visiting the cathedral, churches and palace and taking in some art – both old and new. Our days of walking were interspersed with tasty pit stops. My girls loved to eat these wonderful hot pastry rolls that were dipped in cinnamon sugar.

Whilst Mr B and I enjoyed sipping some festive mulled wine/gluhwein/vin chaud/glogg. Nothing beats drinking mulled wine when the outside temperature is close to zero. It warms you up from the inside out and gives you that renewed energy to keep exploring a little longer in the cold elements.

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It’s brilliantly easy to make yourself and is a great winter warmer for the holiday period. Over the Christmas break you can guarantee that I for one will be drinking a glass or two after our Boxing day walk. The warming smell of the cinnamon and cloves bubbling away in the red wine on the stove evokes so many happy memories.  I recommend using the cheapest bottle of red plonk that you can get your hands on – save your Chateaux Margaux for another occasion!

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Spiced Mulled Wine

Serves 6 (a couple of glasses each!)

2 bottles of cheap red wine

150g (or 100g if you prefer it less sweet!) caster sugar

1/2 freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tsp cloves

4 cardamom pods

2 sticks of cinnamon split in two

100ml port (optional)

a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

200ml water

orange peel strips to serve

1. In a large pan add the caster sugar and half a pint of red wine and stir until completely dissolved.

2. Add the remaining ingredients aside from the orange peel strips and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

3. Strain the liquid before serving and gently pour the hot spiced mulled wine into individual glasses or mugs and add a orange peel strip to each one.

You can make in advance and then reheat when needed. You can also store in the fridge overnight to be reheated the following day.

Note: If you have some muslin cloth you could add all the spices to this cloth and then simply remove before serving, instead of straining. 

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I bid you all a very happy Christmas and will be back with my next post in the New Year. Thank you for always stopping by and supporting me with your comments and likes over the last couple of years. Merry Christmas to you all.

Torie x

Take a sneak peek at a few of the other sights we saw in Prague below.


Rezala – Lamb Rib Chop Curry with Rose Water and Saffron

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Tomorrow I am heading off to Asia once again, returning to Hong Kong, but also managing to squeeze in a long overdue visit to Vietnam. I’m looking forward to visiting my favourite eating haunts that I discovered on my last visit to Hong Kong in December/January, as well as scoping out new restaurants that I never had time to visit. As for Vietnam, well I cannot wait to see what it has to offer on the food front. I am definitely going to be seeking out the ubiquitous Pho – the legendary Vietnamese soup and Banh Mi, which I fell in love with after eating my first here in London, it’s basically a Vietnamese version of a sandwich but is off-the-charts incredibly tasty. I am also looking forward to sampling a variety of Vietnamese spring rolls and hoping I can remember how to make them when I come back home so that I can share the recipes with you. Whilst I am not a coffee drinker I hear the coffee in Vietnam is out of this world and may even win over a non-coffee drinker….so let’s see.

In the meantime the dish I wanted to leave you with today, and one that I hope that you will try, is a Bengali dish known as ‘Rezala’, whose roots lie with the Muslim rulers of the Mogul era. It is both fragrant and sweet and yet there are some sharp notes from the lime that compliment the overall taste of the dish. Other flavours resonate from the dish as well including: cloves, cardamom, saffron, ginger, garlic, cumin and chilli powder. It is a dish that heightens the senses and beckons you to eat more….so you’ve been warned!

Rezala – Lamb Chop Curry with Rose Water and Saffron

Adapted from Mridula Baljekar’s recipe in ‘Curry Lovers Cookbook’

Serves 6-8 (or 4 with leftovers for another day!)

3 medium sized onions, chopped

splash of water

3 garlic cloves, crushed/chopped

3 tsp grated fresh ginger

6 cloves

18 peppercorns

8 green cardamom pods

4 small pieces of cinnamon bark

14 lamb rib chops

2 medium sized onions, very finely sliced

200ml natural plain yoghurt

75g butter

vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sugar

juice of half a lime

pinch of saffron – place into a small bowl with 1 tbsp of hot water for 10 minutes

1 tbsp rose water

rose petals

1. Place the three chopped onions into a blender with a splash of cold water and blend until you have a smooth puree.

2. Place the puree into a large bowl along with the grated ginger, garlic, cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns and cinnamon bark and stir together before adding the lamb rib chops. Use your hands to  coat the lamb fully. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for a few hours – or overnight if you can. Remember you need to bring the meat back up to room temperature before cooking it!

3. Heat some oil in a large pan and gently fry the remaining 2 onions, which need to be finely sliced. Gently fry until the onions have browned, which will take around 6 minutes. Remove the onion from the oil and place on some kitchen paper so as to soak up the oil.

4. Using the same pan, fry the marinated lamb chops for 5 minutes before reducing the heat and simmering on a low heat covered for another 5-7 minutes.

5. In a separate pan mix the butter and yoghurt together, stirring constantly for around 5 minutes before stirring into the lamb chops, along with the salt, cumin and chilli powder. Cover and gently cook for 50 minutes.

6. Finally add the sugar and stir into the curry before adding the lime juice, saffron and rose water. Mix well and simmer for a few minutes.

Serve with the fried onions and a scattering of rose petals. The sweet smells coming from this dish are sublime. Eaten with rice or naan, this dish is very memorable. I hope you agree.

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