Kedgeree

Kedgeree is curried rice dish made with smoked fish and served with an egg on top.

There all definites end.

Kedgeree
Some say you must have boiled egg, others champion the delicious ooze of a runny poached egg.  Type of fish can be an issue too, with one camp swearing it must be haddock and the other saying that’s nonsense.  Some believe parsley is a must, others say it has to be coriander.  Many people demand peas in a ‘proper’ kedgeree, others recoil in horror at the thought.  In these days of poshing-up everything, there are some who feel basic shop bought curry powder is too ’70s and that a select few spices are better, while others insist that the basic curry powder is necessary for ‘authentic’ flavour.  Debates rage about the matter.

Well, I say debates rage…it’s probably more like an occasional cluck of annoyance, as Mildred and Henry order kedgeree for Sunday brunch then exchange tuts and outraged whispers about the inclusion of poached egg rather than boiled, and the complete absence of peas in the dish.  But still…

with mango chutney and a lemon wedgeI’m not too fussy myself – I like a dry kedgeree, not a wet, sauced version, which is too porridgey for my tastes – apart from that I’m willing to ring the changes a little.  This was a convenient attitude to be sporting when it came to making this particular kedgeree – we’re having a mini cupboard challenge right now and so needed to use what’s already available in our stores.

This is another imprecise recipe as it’s so easy to scale up or down according to number of servings required; tweak the recipe according to your own requirements, tastes and available ingredients.

ingredientsIngredients
Cooked rice – as many servings as are needed
1 small/medium sized piece of smoked haddock fillet per person
2 eggs
2 red onions, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 green chillies, sliced
2 teaspoons Very Lazy Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-3 teaspoons curry powder, according to strength of powder and taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A large chunk of butter – use proper butter and use lots!  I had some lemon, garlic and herb butter left over from a previous meal so I chucked that in, with about the same amount again in ordinary butter – luvverly.
A good fistful of fresh parsley, chopped
A couple of spring onions, sliced
A couple of lemon wedges and few spoons of mango chutney to serve – not compulsory
Music

To prevent constant harassment, it’s a good idea to shut any cats out of the kitchen before you get started with this recipe.

Kitty excluded?  Ok then…Happy EggsHard boil your eggs by putting them in a pan of cold water, enough to cover the eggs.  Bring the water to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 6-7 minutes.

hard boiled eggsAs soon as they’re done drain off the hot water and place the pan under a running cold water tap for around 1-2 minutes – this helps stop that horrid black layer developing around the yolks.  Peel off the shells and set to one side.

smoked haddockTo poach your fish bring a shallow layer of water (a couple of cm) to the boil, in a pan that has a lid; turn off the heat.  Pop in the fish, skin side up in a single layer, put the lid on and leave for around 5-6 minutes.  You’ll know when it’s done because the skin will easily peel away.

poached haddockDon’t over cook it.  Don’t overcook any fish 😉

Drain and discard the fish poaching water.  Remove skin from fillets, feed to cat, who Houdini like, has found a way out of exile and into the kitchen.  Flake cooked fish and set to one side.

cook onion and celery until softMelt butter (in that same lidded pan), add diced onions and celery and cook with lid on, over a low heat until soft.

Add curry powder, green chillies and garlic and cook, stirring, for minute or so.

Cooked riceStir in the cooked rice, salt and pepper, making sure everything mingles properly.

Add flaked fish and parsleyAdd flaked fish and most of the chopped parsley then stir gently to combine.

with mango chutney and a lemon wedgeServe bedecked with boiled egg halves and scattered with chopped spring onion and remaining chopped parsley. Finish with a spoonful of mango chutney on the side and a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top.

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Spiced Pineapple Chicken

Yet another cold, wet, miserable evening (we’re having far too many of them, even for this rain-renowned neck of the woods), and I was found standing in the kitchen glaring at a pineapple.

Pineapple

Why was this unfortunate fruit on the receiving end of my evil eye?  Well…hmmm…  I suppose we should just get this little bit of Bohemian crazy out of the way first – the thing is, it came from a hot place and I was suffering sunshine envy.  Ahem!

Moving swiftly on, and more to the point, I’d bought it on an impulse (very, very cheap) despite knowing that I have an inordinately difficult time persuading pineapples to take off their jackets and give me their fruit.  At the point of purchase I always tell myself that the deliciousness within will be well worth the effort to obtain; however once at home a reluctance to face the task usually settles in and avoidance becomes the order of the days.

This particular pineapple was at the eat-me-now-or-lose-me-forever stage of ripeness, which meant there was no choice but to prepare myself, and the kitchen, for a hack and chop session with the spiky one.

Massacred pineappleQuite frankly I find it ridiculous that despite much research and trying of different techniques, I still have not managed to skilfully prepare a fresh pineapple.  I waste far too much fruit, both in cutting off the skin and when gouging out all those tedious, bristled eyelets that get left hanging in there.  I also seem to end up with juice flowing over cutting board and work surface, running down arms, dripping off elbows, puddling into sticky foot anchors on the floor…it’s a mess!
Granted, the juice thing probably wouldn’t happen if I didn’t wait until one stage prior to rot before tackling it.

The obvious question is, given that I could easily buy a conveniently preprepared pineapple, why do I do it?  Stubbornness, in part – I don’t want to admit defeat (imagine: “Of all the culinary challenges, what broke me was a pineapple.”  How incredibly sad is that?! 😉 )

Another contributing factor is that fresh tastes so much better than tinned, although in a recipe like this it probably makes little to no difference (let’s refer back to the stubbornness paragraph).

Then, of course, there’s the unwillingness to pay the extortionate price for fresh preprepared pineapple, even if it is saving me some hassle.

The choice is entirely yours as to whether you go with fresh or tinned pineapple – you’ll find no judgement from these quarters.

Spiced pineapple chicken with parathasThis dish has quite a long cooking time but doesn’t necessarily need much effort from you; however, do bear in mind that depending on your skills set, preparation time may be affected by aforementioned choice 😉

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Sweet and Spicy Chicken, Spinach and Mango Curry

I am extremely fortunate to be the frequent recipient of food gifts such as samosas and curries, made by one of the ladies in my team when she, her sisters and her mother get together for one of their traditional batch cooking sessions.  Lucky, lucky me!

SaagThe other day she presented me with a huge portion of freshly made saag (spiced spinach).

MangoesThat morning I’d noted that as we had two very ripe mangoes, dinner really ought to include them.  I had no further plans.

When I got home, clutching my saag booty, I discovered Barn had decided he fancied chicken, so had taken some breast fillets out of the freezer.  He had no further plans.Curry with riceAfter a bit of dithering, and having started out with a vague idea of mango chicken with saag on the side, this delicious curry was the meal that eventually evolved.

If you’re not lucky enough to have been gifted saag, and you can’t buy any locally, substitute with 2-3 ‘bricks’ of frozen spinach, defrosted and with water squeezed out.  Use an extra clove of garlic in the main recipe and add the following spices to the cooked onions:

2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ to ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

It won’t be quite the same but you’ll be going in the right direction!

Cucumber dipThanks to the absolute authenticity of the saag, this dish was quite fiery, so at the last minute I threw together a cucumber dip to have on the side.

With no plain yoghurt or fresh mint in the house a proper raita was out of the question; we made do with diced cucumber and soured cream, generously seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I say ‘made do’…it was gorgeous and worked perfectly to allow the sweetness of the mango to come through, just before the spices kicked in.

To serve two very hungry people

Ingredients
2 chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
A large portion of saag (curried spinach)
A couple of dessert spoons of ghee or a good splash of oil
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1-2 courgettes, cut into chunks
1 chicken stockpot
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chunked
Juice and zest of 1 lime
A 2-3cm of fresh ginger root, grated
A couple of red chillies (how much you use depends on the heat of your saag and, of course, personal taste)
A handful of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper
To serve: steamed rice and optional cucumber dip
Music

Ginger, lime and garlic

CorianderPut mango chunks, lime juice and zest, ginger, chillies, coriander, salt and pepper into food processor and blend until smooth.  Set to one side.

Sliced onions

Heat oil or ghee in a heavy based saucepan and cook onions over a low to medium heat, until soft but not brown.GarlicAdd crushed garlic.

If you’re using the spinach/spices substitute for the saag, now is the time to add those extra spices (ground coriander, turmeric and cayenne).

Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.

Jasmine ricePsst!  This is probably about the right time to get your rice into the steamer 🙂

Red bell pepper

CourgettesBack to the pan with the onions…

Turn up the heat a little and chuck in the peppers and courgettes.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken and cook for another few minutes, stirring and turning..

Chicken stockpot

Chicken and veg in mango saucePour mango sauce over chicken and vegetables, add chicken stockpot and simmer, with the lid off, for around 15 minutes or until sauce is becoming thick and sticky.

SaagTurn down heat, add saag, or spinach, stir well to combine, and simmer with lid on for around 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on things to make sure it doesn’t start to catch on the bottom of the pan.

Curry - platedServe with fragrant steamed rice and cooling cucumber dip.

Burp loudly when finished eating (unless in polite company, or you are the polite company, in which case, don’t).
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The food week that was – 23/03/15

This was yet another shitty week in the day job so it’s a really good thing I’d made myself food accountable in last week’s meals post, otherwise we’d have almost definitely bowed to laziness and another week of dire dinners.

As it was we managed a passable imitation of being responsible adults, putting together mostly decent meals, at approximately expected/accepted meal times.
Spud and beansMonday: Having declared that this week would be full of culinary thrills, we started the week with a really basic meal of baked spuds, cheese and beans.   A sprinkling of chives gave a gentle oniony flavour lift, a touch of colour, and a nod towards actually making an effort.

Camembert, leeks and bacon Tuesday: I was half way through making a leek, bacon and Stilton quiche when I found a mini Camembert lolling at the side of the cheese box.  A quick consult with Barn to check he was open to some food experimentation, and the leek and bacon Camembert melt was born.

Cut CamembertMini Camembert cheese, studded with garlic, surrounded by sautéed leeks and bacon, and baked on a shortcrust pastry base.  Served with roasted carrots and parsnips, and wilted spinach.

There’s a lot I would change about this – use puff pastry instead of shortcrust, use less bacon, make them individual – but as an off the cuff experiment it worked out ok.  Loved the way the melted cheese spilled out, creating a sauce for the veggies.

Malaysian beef curryWednesday: Making mid-week better with a hot and spicy Malaysian beef curry on jasmine rice.

Butternut squash risottoThursday: Creamy risotto with roast butternut squash and black olives, finished with a drizzle of lemon infused olive oil and a generous sprinkling of chopped, fresh basil.  On the side, watercress, tomato and cucumber salad, topped with toasted sunflower seeds and dressed with balsamic vinegar.

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The food week that was – 02/03/15

I’m sure you know the story of King Alfred the Great – the guy who allegedly let the cakes burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his beleaguered kingdom?  Well, I bet you’ve never heard the story of Barn, the guy who let the pies burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his kingdom?

Alfred had fair justification for his absent minded approach to baked goods; the fellow’s very life was in danger and he was on the run – sleeping in ditches and begging for food – whilst also trying to save his lands from actual marauding Vikings.  There was every reason for culinary timing to be low on his list of priorities.  For Barn?  Not so much.

He was sitting comfortably, on a sofa in his living room, tasked with nothing more than listening out for the oven timer then informing me of said occurrence.  The only kingdom he had any concerns about was the virtual one in Kingdom of Camelot (oh yeh, I’ll name it and shame ya! 😘 ), and the only ‘life’ in danger was that of a pixelated soldier.  Apparently he didn’t hear or smell a thing as the oven alarm shrieked for its fully allowed time slot, and our dinner gave itself to the funeral pyre, clutching its last vestiges of flavour, mourning its uncelebrated heyday.

Naturally he was referred to as Burning Barn for the rest of the evening.  No opportunity, no matter how small or tenuous, was passed over when it came to teasing and tormenting him.  Petit Man is a great ‘bouncing’ partner for this particular form of verbal entertainment (Mum and Medieval are also superb co-jousters, but sadly they weren’t around for this one); we amused ourselves mightily, stumbling upon forcing references to Barn the Great Pie Torturer from every TV advert, programme and innocuous conversation :twisted:.

Chicken chorizo pot piesMonday: So…what we had Monday was potentially-awesome-but-kinda-burned chicken and chorizo pot pies, served with hideously burned roast cauliflower and some steamed veg.

The chicken was poached in cider, then the cider stock reduced and used with cream to make a sauce for the chicken, fried chorizo and leeks.  A happy little layer survived the torrid oven affair and was sufficiently good to put the recipe on the ‘definitely try it again’ list.

Fridge bottom soupTuesday: Fridge bottom soup.  Sounds vile doesn’t it?  I know I should call it ‘leek and courgette’, or ‘cream of veg’ or somesuch, but it was what it says…soup made with stuff that needed using up from the drawer at the bottom of the fridge.

Sautéed soffrito (finely diced onion, carrot and celery in the ratio 2:1:1 – an excellent starting point for many sauces, stews etc. – make huge batches with a food processor and keep portions in the freezer); chopped leeks and courgettes added & browned.  Two crushed garlic cloves, fresh thyme and parsley, dried oregano chucked in and swished around for a while.  Chicken stock added (enough to cover veg plus a bit more) and simmered for about 15 minutes.  Blitzed in the food processor, added soured cream, a little double cream, and chives.  Reheated, adjusted seasoning, added an extra swirl of cream and more fresh herbs to finish.  Served with warm g/f cheesy puffs made with extra mature cheddar and English mustard.  It tasted insanely good.

Chicken pear and stilton saladWednesday dinner: Warm salad of grilled chicken breast and sweet ripe pears, with creamy blue Stilton and crunchy caramelised walnuts; served with baked tomatoes on a bed of crisp, fresh watercress and baby spinach leaves, dressed with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinaigrette.

Barn made the leftovers into a sandwich for his lunch at work the next day.  I believe he was hoping for a reaction something akin to one of these:

What he got was this:

K: What’ve you got there?

Barn: Olive ciabatta, with watercress, pears and…

K: Pears?!

Barn: Yeh, and blue cheese…

K: Mouldy cheese?!

Barn:  …and chicken.

Pause, while each chews their chosen lunch and K contemplates Barn’s sandwich

K, dubiously: Well, I suppose the chicken would be ok.

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