Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A life less blobby

Sam and I are becoming quite cuddly so the time has come to take the bull by the horns and cut right down on the foodiness. We are both so fond of cooking - and interestingly eating - but both rather prone to putting on weight. Not a good combination. How do chefs stay so trim??

Tomorrow we diet, or at least, transform our eating habits to rather more healthy options. I'll blog all the successful recipes and hopefully we'll be nice and slim for this years holiday.


Chicken Passanda ( 2nd attempt )

Well, Sam made the last chicken passanda and it was really good, I do think that it's worth trying new recipes though so decided to have a go at making it myself. I trawled through the usual suspects but settled on a web site that my friend Araf recommended called 'Curry Frenzy '. There are flippin loads of recipes on here and while they don't always cook in quite the way I would, a small amount of tweaking and hey presto recognisable curry.

I'll post the recipe as I made it but the link is above for a  more authentic version.

Serves 4
800g chunked fresh chicken
300mls Water or chicken stock
2 Onions finely chopped
2 Tspn grated fresh ginger
4 Garlic cloves crushed
2 Tspn Turmeric
1 Tspn Ground cumin
1 Tspn Ground coriander
1 Tspn Chilli Powder
Half a tspn mango powder
2 Tspn Garam masala
1 Star anise
1 Glass white wine ( optional )
200mls coconut cream
200mls single cream
100mls natural yogurt
1 Tbsn Tomato puree
Vegetable oil
Toasted flaked almonds to serve
Little fresh coriander leaf to serve
Salt and pepper

Pour a little oil into a large saucepan to medium heat and fry onions and star anise gentlyish until golden
Make a paste of the spices, ginger and garlic with a little water
Take out star anise and fry spice mix with the onions for a couple of minutes
Add chicken and stir well
Add all the liquids, stir well and leave to bubble until the chicken is cooked.
Garnish and serve

I served this with mushroom rice, bombay aloo and peshwari naan.
Just a couple of observations, the wine was really not necessary and in fact both Josh ( youngest son ) and myself didn't actually like the flavour of it so I would omit this next time. There is also a lot of liquid in this recipe so it took quite a lot longer to reduce down - it did however enhance the flavour so I would just allow for a longer cooking time next time.


Bombay Aloo

What with football on the television tonight and the weather so cold, it seemed like a good idea to schedule a curry for tonight. I'm making a chicken phall for Mr Debs as only heat is required there. I'm also making a chicken passanda for the less adventurous. I like bombay aloo  as a side dish so here is a lovely simple recipe which tastes delicious.

Serves 4

3 Large potatoes peeled and chopped into largish bitesize pieces
Half an onion finely chopped
Half an onion roughly chopped
Half a green pepper finely chopped
2 Tbsn Tomato puree
2cm grated ginger
4 Cloves garlic crushed
1Tspm ground cumin
1 Tspn ground coriander
1 Tspn garam masala
1Tspn turmeric
1 Tspn chilli powder
1 Tspn Worestershire sauce
1 Tomato quartered
Little vegetable oil

Boil potatoes in salted water with turmeric until just cooked (not mushy )
Fry onion gently in oil until translucent
Add chilli powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, garam masala and ginger and stir fry for a couple of minutes
Add the pepper, tomato, tomato puree and worcestershire sauce and stir fry for a further couple of minutes
Add the potatoes and mix well. Serve immediately, although I find that this reheats really well.

This is so easy to make and tastes lovely.


Monday, 30 January 2012

Thanks Araf

Lovely colleague bought this for Mr Debs today and gave me a couple of authentic Pakistani recipes Yipeeeeeeeeeee
Not for the meek



Had another one of those grey wintery days that we get so many of and decided to bake something warm. Mr Debs won't eat cake so plumped for Parkin as it's quite squishy ( not that he'll eat it anyway - I can see his face gurning at the very thought of this already - who cares, you can't please all the people eh??)

225g/8oz Self raising flour
110g/4oz caster sugar
2 Tspn  Ground ginger
1 Tspn Bicarbonate of soda
1 Egg
200mls/7 fl oz milk
110g/4oz Golden Syrup

Preheat oven to 150c/ 300f/ Gas 2
Line a cake tin ( 8 inch)
Sieve flour Bicarb and ginger into bowl
Add sugar
Gently heat butter and syrup in a small pan and stir into dry mix.
Mix milk and Golden syrup together and mix into batter
Pour into lined tin and pop into oven for 1 hour.
When coolish cut into squares.

Looks a bit burnt but it's just the lighting. This tastes lovely - slightly sticky while still warm. Still nice a couple of days later.


Monday, 23 January 2012

Lemon Eaton Mess

I don't know if this is a traditional Eaton Mess, but it's quick and easy and tastes great.

Serves 1


100ml double cream
5g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon curd
2 mini meringue nests
1 slice of lemon to decorate


1. Gently melt the lemon curd in the microwave. Short bursts of 10 seconds should do.
2. Place the cream and sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk until stiff.
3. Break up the meringue nests and add to the whipped cream and serve in a bowl.
4. Drizzle the melted lemon curd over the cream and serve with the decorative lemon slice.

See, easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Sam x

Lemon Curd

This is soooooooooooo easy, and tasty! I made this whilst I was waiting for Cinnamon Roasted Almonds to finish cooking and Chicken Pasanda to marinate. Again, a BBC recipe:


4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
200g unrefined caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 free range eggs, plus 1 egg yolk


1. Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. stir the mixture every now and then until all of the butter has melted.

2. Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

3. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, spoon the curd into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

I sterilise old jam jars by boiling them for 10 minutes or so and then getting the curd in asap so that as the mixture cools it creates a vacuum in the jar, thereby creating a tight seal. Debs bakes hers in the oven to sterilise I believe.

What to do with all this Lemon curd!? Lemon Eaton Mess?

Sam x

Chicken Pasanda

This was a recipe from the BBC for Lamb Pasanda, but Mr Debs won't eat lamb.. So, Chicken Pasanda:

500g/17½oz chicken breast
100g/3½oz ghee (clarified butter)
4 cinnamon sticks, each 4cm (1¾in) long
4 black cardamoms (couldn't find these so I omitted them)
200g/7¼oz flour, approx
50ml/1¾fl oz water, or enough to bind into a slack dough

For the marinade:
8 dried figs, soaked in water, to cover
3 tbsp khoya, available from ethnic grocers (couldn't find any so I used dried milk)
1 tbsp raisins, soaked in water, to cover
½ tsp saffron strands, soaked in 3 tbsp warm water
150ml/5¼fl oz plain yoghurt
3 onions, sliced and shallow-fried in oil until golden brown
4cm/1¾in piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
6 garlic cloves
2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp red chilli powder
4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground cardamom seeds
1 tbsp chopped coriander, to garnish

1. Using a sharp knife, cut the meat into 5cm (2in) squares, about 1cm (½in) thick.
2. Place these escalopes between sheets of cling film and beat them out with a meat mallet or rolling pin until the Chicken has been flattened into thin pieces.
3. Tip all the marinade ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Coat the escalopes with the marinade, making sure the meat is completely covered with the masala spice mix. Set aside for at least one hour.
5. Heat the clarified butter in a heavy-bottomed casserole pan, wide enough to take the meat in one layer.
6. Add the cinnamon sticks and black cardamoms and let them sizzle for a few seconds before adding the marinated meat with its liquid.
7. Cover the pan with a tightly-fitting lid and seal the edges with a flour and water paste (this helps to retain all the flavours in the pot as the meat cooks).
8. Simmer on a very low heat for an hour until the sauce has reduced and the meat is tender.
9. Remove the lid from the pan. If there's too much liquid, cook the sauce down until there's a thin film of oil on top.
10. Scatter with chopped coriander and serve straight away with warm naan bread.

We served this with boiled white rice and naan. I did try and make my own naan, but it was a bit of a disaster. The prep is a bit lengthy but it taste's great and once it's bubbling on the stove, the house smells amazing!

Sam x

Fish en Papillote

For our Christmas Day menu in the pub, we had Monk fish En Papillote. We ordered our fish two weeks in advance, and were then told we didn't order early enough so Christmas eve I spent four hours riding around Bristol trying to find Monk fish. No such luck. In the end we made it with a trio of perch, coley and salmon. 

I made this other day at my girlfriends house for her and her parents using salmon:


4 salmon fillets
2 red chillies 
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon
Small bag of frozen green beans
12 cherry tomatoes


1. Preheat the oven to 170c.
2. Deseed and finely chop the chillies, peel and press the garlic. Mix the two together.
3. Take a large square of parchment paper, and place a large handful of green beans in the centre in a neat, single layer.
4. Lay 3 thin slices of lemon on top of the green beans and then place the salmon on top of the lemon.
5. Spread a liberal amount of the chilli and garlic mixture on top of the salmon and place 3 tomatoes with the salmon. 
6. Time to wrap up the salmon. First, bring the corners together above the salmon and fold down tight to the salmon. Then roll the ends up nice and tightly.
7. Place on a baking tray in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

In the pub we served the fish still in the paper, so the customer unwraps it themselves. A bit of theatre. But I served it out of the paper for the girlfriend and her family.

As for accompaniments, you could serve with roasted new potatoes and a rocket salad, or with baked mash potato and purple sprouting broccoli!

Sam x

Sussex/Frangipane Cherry Tart

We're supposed to be able to buy these as individual servings in the pub, but we haven't been able to get them for months! Therefore, muggins here, has to make them regularly.

Recipe compliments of BBC Good Food:


200g plain flour
25ml semolina (for extra crunch)
100g unsalted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, beaten

140g golden caster sugar
140g ground almonds
140g butter, melted
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
2 tbsp kirsch or Armagnac (I use brandy)
500g cherries, stones removed (I use ready pitted, frozen)
2 tbsp cherry conserve (we use whatever jam we have, it's only used as a sweet glaze)

1. To make the pastry, process the flour (or flour and semolina, which gives it extra crunch) and butter, then add the sugar, followed by the beaten egg and just enough water (about 2 tbsp) to form a dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 mins.

2. Meanwhile, to make the filling, place the sugar, ground almonds, butter, egg and egg yolk in a bowl and mix to make a creamy paste. Stir in the kirsch or Armagnac. Chill for at least 20 mins.

3. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface and use to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Fill with lightly greased foil and baking beans and bake for 20-25 mins, removing foil after 15 mins, until golden. Spread the almond paste onto the base of the pastry and bake for 25 mins until golden and crisp. When the tart comes out of the oven, arrange the cherries on top in a single layer. Heat the cherry conserve with 1 tbsp water until smooth, then brush over the cherries. Leave to cool before removing from the tin. 

If word get outs that we have this in, it doesn't last long. I've had one woman tell me it was orgasmic, no joke. And just the other day a woman who was about to leave, saw me leave the kitchen and rushed back to tell me how much she enjoyed it! Give it a try!

Sam x

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

I made these just before Christmas, during a marathon cooking day. They're super easy and taste amazing. Once out of the oven, they didn't last the day!

Thanks to TheJovialOne @ Instructables.com for the following recipe:


3 cups raw almonds
1 egg white
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 brow sugar
1/2 tspn salt
1 tspn cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 120c
2. Add the vanilla extract to the egg white, and beat to just before soft peaks.
3. Place the sugar, salt and cinnamon into a medium mixing bowl.
4. Now mix the almonds with the egg whites and spread them evenly on a grease proof paper lined baking tray.
5. Liberally sprinkle the sugar/salt/cinnamon, making sure to cover all the almonds. Reserve some mixture, about 1/5of the total, for stage 7.
6. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
7. Take out and shake the almonds about, making sure they're not sticking. Take the rest of the mixture you reserved and sprinkle on those parts with patches. Now place back in the oven and cook for a further 55 minutes.
8. I used a metal spatula to get all the almonds off the paper, and left them in a bowl to cool down (about 10 minutes).

Sam x

Friday, 13 January 2012

Meatloaf update

Well, this recipe would seem to serve 4-6 but having eaten it I feel that, for a meatloaf, it was far too spicy. I like the addition of the chilli flavours as I often think that meatloaf is horribly bland but this went a step too far. Mr Debs wasn't too keen on the cheese and tomato combo either ( I liked that a lot )so I don't think I'll be making this one again any time soon.


Thursday, 12 January 2012

This is the one!

I have been looking at holiday destinations for this year as we have a family holiday thing going on this year.
This is the one - after a long search - can't wait to book it now.

I think that the whole family will like this one....hopefully


Tomato Sauce

I made this super quick sauce to accompany tonights meatloaf.

1 Large onion chopped finely
1 Tube Tomato paste
2 400g tins tomatoes
Half a tspn dried oregano
Half a tspn dried tarragon
Splash olive oil
Salt and pepper

Fry onion gently in the olive oil until soft
Add everything else and bubble gently for about 20 minutes.
Liquidize... lovely....done



Watched Man v Food and had a bit of a hankering for all things carnivorous -  a state that Mr Debs never actually leaves -  I think that the idea of meatloaf with mac n cheese sounds flippin lovely so tonights the night.

Serves ? Fill this in tomorrow

500g Lean beef mince
1 Large pepper ( I used red ) chopped smallish
1 Large onion chopped smallish
1 Tin  Stag chilli ( I used dynamite hot )
1 Dspn mixed herbs
Good shake of Lea & Perrins
Glug of Mushroom ketchup
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180c / 340f / gas 4
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Pop into pre buttered loaf tin
Cook in the centre of oven for 1 hour.
Drain off excess fat.
Serve with lovely tomato sauce and mac n cheese. I am also making cauliflower cheese as Mr Debs doesn't  do macaroni!

Looks ok, just got to try it now.


Friday, 6 January 2012

Christmas pudding vodka

As a quick update ( now that it's all drunk ), I jiggled this vodka for three days, strained it through some fine muslin into a clean bottle and we drank it all on Christmas day. It was FAB. Even pudding hating children - all adults - all loved it.

Thank you Hairy Bikers x


P.S. Thank you to Alex and Tish for new Hairy Bikers cookbook, Mr Debs has already made Beef Wellington on New Years Day - beautiful.

Polenta recipe for the brave

It's not difficult and here it is

Serves 4
750mls boiling salted water
200g Quick cook Polenta
30g butter
75g Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Boil water in a large pan, add Polenta stirring all the time, cook gently for 5-8 minutes
Add butter and cheese, salt and pepper
Throw in the bin.


Polenta - yuk

I have only eaten polenta whilst on a trip to Milan a few years ago. I have to say that neither me or Mr Debs liked it but I have seen it being cooked on TV with butter and Parmesan cheese and always fancied giving it a try, it looks so creamy and soft. The stuff we had in Italy was cut into squares and solid.

Anyway, having sourced polenta in aforesaid shop, this seemed the perfect recipe to try out - what I imagined would be - the perfect accompaniment. How wrong I was. I followed the instructions on the packet, added my Parmesan, it looked beautiful!

It's truly horrible, it congeals really quickly and tastes of nothing. I like to say that I eat most things, not all things, but I always feel that you have to give new things a go, I just don't get polenta!

Mr Debs did a quick dash to the big shop and picked up some pre- made gnocchi - much better.


Stufato di Manza

I found this recipe while looking through Gino D'Campo's recipes online and it sounded really nice so decided to give it a try. We all like casserolly type meals and it is great for this time of the year. Plus I could whack it in the slow cooker for the afternoon. Again, I didn't take a photo - to be fair though, it is just a stew - so put in Gino's, I don't imagine he'll mind.

Serves 4

500g Lean braising steak ( I found a lovely pack of skirt near it's death by date in Waitrose)
75g Diced pancetta
1 Large onion - chopped
1 Large carrot - chopped
150g nice mushrooms ( I used chestnut )- sliced
3 Garlic cloves- chopped finely
150mls Red wine
400mls  Beef stock
1 Bay leaf
1 Sprig rosemary
Good squeeze of  tomato puree
1 tbsn olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to160c ( or hot slow cooker)
Heat oil in a largish frying pan and brown meat.
Transfer to casserole dish.
Using the same pan - yummy juices - fry onion, garlic and pancetta until soft and golden, add to dish.
De-glaze pan with a little water and add to dish.
Add all the other ingredients stir well and cover,.
I left my stew cooking all afternoon and only thickened with a little cornflour at the end, if cooking in a conventional oven, leave for at least a couple of hours until meat is lovely and tender.
You may need to add a little more water if the mixture seems to be drying out.

I served mine with polenta (more of that later! ) . This was a really lovely recipe and again so easy. The whole family loved it, even slightly meat avoiding teenager.

I have included a link to the original recipe as mine is slightly different to Gino's.


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese Frittata

Got a whole 6 days off work (after working over the Christmas hols ) so decided to try a couple of new recipes.
I made this yesterday but didn't take any photo's- I'll post a looky likey at the end with all credit to postee - I have made this one before and it's so easy ( and quick ) all the family like this one. The recipe is similar to Gino D'Campos with a few tweaks.

Serves 4-6

300g Spaghetti
1 tbspn olive oil
500g Lean Minced Beef Steak
1 Large onion finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves chopped or crushed - as you like
1 Large Carrot finely diced
400g Passata
4 Large free range eggs
100g Parmesan cheese
1 tbspn mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Rocket leaves to serve

In a large frying pan, gently fry onion and garlic until softened, add carrot and continue to fry for about 5 minutes.
Add beef mince and stir until meat is nice and brown.
Add passata, herbs and cook for about 15 minutes.
While waiting for beef to cook, cook spaghetti in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until just cooked.
Season meat sauce and mix in drained spaghetti. Leave to cool -  this doesn't need to be completely cold just cool enough to add the eggs.
Preheat oven to 180c / 350f / gas 4
Add eggs and cheese into the mixture and bake in the centre of the oven for about 20-30 minutes until golden on top.

This is the picture as it appears in Gino's book and the recipe pretty much comes out spot on.


Hello 2012

Well, suffice to say not an awful lot of blogging been going on over the festive period, hopefully this can be rectified now with a whole new blogging year.