Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Cheap and Cheerful: Double Chocolate Cheesecake

To be honest, I'm not really a dessert or pudding man. Give me a nice salad - any day of the week. But my girlfriend is like most women and has a real sweet tooth. She loves her chocolate and sweets. So I thought for a change, we would look for a desert recipe that would be appealing to both of us, as we never plan a desert in our weekly shop. We both agreed that we liked cheesecake, So decided on a double chocolate cheesecake recipe that I found on the on the BBC Good Food website. I have always wanted to to prepare a cheesecake but thought that it would be quite complicated. That couldn't be further from the truth. This cheesecake is probably the most simple recipe I have ever tried. It took me about 20 minutes to prepare and all that was left was to leave to set in the fridge for a few hours. I hope you enjoy. 

What you need:
175g digestive biscuits
50g butter melted
300g cream cheese
200g mascarpone
300g milk chocolate, melted
100g dark chocolate, melted

What to do:
Crush the biscuits and mix with the melted butter. Press the biscuit mixture into the base of 20cm springform tin. Mix the cream cheese with the mascarpone. Fold the milk chocolate into the cream cheese mix and then stir in the dark chocolate so that it looks streaky. Spoon into the tin, level the top and chill for two hours or overnight.

Happy cooking and enjoy!

Friday, 24 June 2011

French Onion Soup

Soup soup soup. All I can say is that I love them. All sorts of soup as well, tinned soup, cup a soups, homemade soups or veg and meat broths. You name it, I will have most likely tried it. When I was looking for a good soup recipe, I found a recipe for the classic "French onion soup", from a bunch of recipe cards, that I had bought a few years ago. The soup was not only delicious but it only cost about 25 pence per serving.  Pretty cheap, hey? Yeah that's what I thought, so here it is. 

What you need:
900g onions
40g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp plain flour
2.4 liters pints of vegetable or beef stock
150ml red wine (optional)
salt and pepper

What to do:
I'm not going to lie but the first part of this recipe will take a while: First of all you will need to peel and finely slice all of the onions, but then that is about it for preparation. Now heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan and stir in the onions. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring frequently for 30-45 minutes or until the onions are softened and turn a pale straw colour. Right then, sprinkle over the flour and cook gently for 1 minute. Add the stock, and wine if using. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Depending on the thickness you would like for your soup, add 1 to 2 tsp of dissolved  corn flour and simmer for another five minutes, or until desired thickness is reached. Now the soup is ready, serve with a bread of your choice. Even a homemade garlic bread if you would like, hope you enjoy.

Happy cooking and enjoy!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Just Mad Pork Curry

As an Englishman I love my full English breakfast and Sunday roast, but there will always be a place in my heart for a curry. Usually I bought my curries from Indian takeaways - especially meals such as lamb sag, lamb dopiaza, biryani and my favourite which is from a restaurant that I can no longer get to, a lamb and chicken jalfrezi. I got all the trimmings to go with it as well, like onion salad, poppadoms and mango chutney, different types of naan breads, mint yogurts and of course pilau rice. My passion for curries was taken up to another level two years ago, when my friend Neal, brought me for Christmas all the main spices you would need to create your own curry and a book called, "50 great curries of India" by Camellia Panjabi. We jokingly call it the curry Bible.

It has everything as well, from simple curries to quite difficult and complex flavoursome curries, different ways to cook your rice, my favourite being fried browned rice. It contains ways to make chutneys and Indian salads, spicy puddings and different yogurts. It has a great introduction as well, letting you know what and how all Indian spices work and how they should be used. The Just Mad Pork Curry I'm going to explain, has come about from all the curries I have cooked, a bit of trial and error and part based on the recipe for, "making a simple home-style curry" from the curry bible. It actually contains a meat not used in traditional Indian curries, but is still just as tasty as a curry with any other meat. In fact my girlfriend thinks it's the best curry I have made, along side the lamb biryani, which will be making an appearance on my blog in the future. I will say that most curries take a while to prepare and cook, and this curry is no exception, but so long as you have the patience and time then a good curry is well worth it.

What you need for two people

300g of pork tenderloin
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
half a tsp of garam masala
2 cloves of garlic grated
3 tbsp of vegetable oil

for the curry sauce
4 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 large onion finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
5mm (1/4 inch) piece of fresh ginger grated
1 and a half tsp coriander seeds
1 and a half tsp of cumin seeds
4 cardamon pods
6 cloves
1 tsp of turmeric
3 tomatoes chopped
3 medium potatoes chopped
3 carrot chopped
Handful of fresh chopped coriander
For this recipe you will need a mortar and pestle

What to do
Right now the work begins, but trust me it will be worth it. First thing remove all the fat from the pork and dice it into chunks of your choosing. Now place the meat into a mixing bowl and add the ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, grated garlic and oil. Using your hands mix the pork and spices together making sure to coat the pork fully. Now it's up to you, either leave for a couple of hour or for best results leave over night, which I highly recommend. The key to making a good curry is preparation, so make sure all your ingredients are ready to add to the dish, so you don't waste time worrying if you have this or that. Now before you start cooking, take the pork out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature. I do this for all meats that I cook.

Now let's start cooking. Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods and cloves to a wok and roast over a high heat until the spices start to brown. Then put them into the mortar and pestle and ground it to a really fine powder. Heat the oil in the wok on a high heat and add the sliced onion and saute over a medium heat for about 20-25 minutes or until deep brown. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute. Now add the spice mix from the mortar and pestle and the turmeric and saute for a minute before you add 200ml of water, bring it to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the tomatoes, stir well and cook for 5 minutes.

The curry sauce is done. Add your pork, potatoes, carrots and 400ml of water, bring them to the boil and simmer until everything reduces to a thick sauce. This will take about 30-45 minutes. 5 minutes before the end add a handful of fresh chopped coriander and leave some to garnish. Serve with boiled rice or as I like to, fried brown rice which is in the book. I know this recipe seems to be a chore, but any hardcore curry fan will agree that it is well worth it for that perfect curry.

Happy cooking and enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Spiced beef stir-fry

When I found out that my best friend and his girlfriend wanted to pop round to say hello and properly introduce themselves to Amy, I knew instantly that I wanted to cook them something different and tasty. But I wanted to impress, as my friend Neal, is just as passionate about food as I am. I love my Chinese cooking so I went to my go-to Chinese cook book called "Chinese food made easy", by Ching-He Huang, which funny enough was introduced to me by Neal. There I found the following dish: spiced beef stir-fry topped with spring onions and coriander. The meal turned out to be so successful that I cooked it for my family over the weekend and it has even made it onto my weekly menu. I personally think that if you are a fan of Asian cooking then you will love this recipe.

What you need for two people
400g fillet of beef
2 tbs of groundnut oil
1 tsp of shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 generous pinch of sea salt
1 large handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped

For the spicy coating
2 tbs ground cumin
2 tbs dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
half a tsp of sea salt

What to do
Prepare the fillet of beef by covering it with cling film and hammering it with a rolling pin. Then slice into wafer thin slices and put into a mixing bowl. Then mix all the ingredients for the spicy coating together. Now you have to get your hands messy. Mix the beef with the spice mixture making sure you cover all the beef with the mixture and leave for half an hour. Now heat a wok or pan over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. Add the beef and stir-fry for less then 1 minute until browned and tender. As the beef starts to cook, add the rice wine or sherry and season with the soy sauce and salt. Take off the heat, stir in the coriander and spring onion, garnish with coriander and serve immediatly.

I serve this meal with my special Just Mad fried rice, but any type of rice would suit this dish and you can also try filling pancakes and tortilla wrap with your beef mix.

Happy cooking and enjoy

Monday, 13 June 2011

This week's meal plan

I have only just started my blog over the last week. And I thought it was a good idea to share my weekly meal plan with you, so you could get a good impression of the types of recipes, new and old, that I like to cook. My weekly menu always consists of a balance between budget meals, that cost around £5 and experimental meals that I have never tried before (so I can't promise it will be a success). For these meals I find that the BBC Good Food website a reliable source of inspiration. I hope this menu gives you inspiration for your weekly shop.

Monday: Chilli con carne

Tuesday: Baked potato with coleslaw, cheese and left over chilli

thursday: Just Mad pork curry

Friday: Sausage casserole

Saturday: Spiced beef stir-fry topped with spring onion and coriander

Sunday: Parsee red chicken curry (Mumbai)

BTW my oven is not working, so my slow roasted chicken will have to wait until another time.

Happy cooking and enjoy

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Cheap and Cheerful spaghetti carbonara

This is a recipe that I got from the BBC Good Food website and that I have only watched being cooked once. The reason I looked for this recipe is that I have just been blessed with the birth of my first child, a little girl by the name of Amy, and may I say she is the cutest thing ever, who hopefully has just as much of a passion for food as myself. But back to the reason I looked for this recipe: Now that I have a child of my own, I suddenly realized that I have to budget big time on my shopping list, as now I have to buy not only food for myself and my girlfriend but also luxurious items such as nappies, clothes and all the things you need to raise a child. And to be honest this was the first budget recipe that came to mind, as I knew it was cheap and I was quite sure it was going to be tasty as it had lots of my favourite ingredients in it. So if you want to cook a meal for two that costs just under a fiver, try this one and let me know what you think.

What you need
pasta of your choice
2 tbs of vegetable oil
1 large onion
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
200g of mushroom
between 6-10 rashers of bacon
100ml single/double cream
1 tin cream of mushroom soup
handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

What to do
First of all you need to get the water boiling for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and a pinch of salt. Now you need to get your prep done. Dice your onion and shallots into medium chunks, finely chop your garlic and slice your mushrooms. Also dice your bacon. Now heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok, I prefer to use a wok for most of my cooking as it is more multi-purpose. Then add the the onions and shallots, turn the heat down to a medium high and cook for 2 minutes before you add the garlic that you cook for a further 3 minutes and the mushrooms that need to be cooked until they are soft. Once this is done, add your bacon and cook it for a minute. Then add the tin of mushroom soup and cream, bring your mix to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Now quickly chop your parsley and add it to the sauce - season to taste. Whilst all this is going on, your pasta should be done. Drain it well and add it to your sauce. Give it all a good stir, garnish with parsley and serve.
I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we did, it is definitely one that will be making a regular appearance on our plates.

Happy cooking and enjoy.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Mash Potato

I think I'm right when I say that everyone loves mash potato and no matter who you ask there will be a different answer on how to prepare and cook it and what twist you can add to make it a bit more interesting. Even though I have more than a few ways to prepare my mash, this is definitely my favourite way to prepare mash. It came to me by accident 3 days ago when I ran out of spring onions. Both me and my girlfriend agreed that this was the best mash I have ever cooked.

This recipe serves four people

What you need:

10 medium sized potatoes
5 large tbs of butter
1 and a half tsp of pepper
4 shallots
1 large handful of fresh coriander
half a cup of milk

What to do:

Right, all chefs have a different opinion on whether or not to put the potatoes into cold or boiling water. To be honest, I have tried both methods and haven't really noticed any difference. So I just put the water on boil and peel the potaotes whilst the water is boiling. When the potatoes are ready, dice them into small chunks. This will allow them to cook quicker, saving you time and energy. Then add them to the water with a pinch of salt. I like to use sea salt and as you get to know me, you will find out I use it quite generously. Boil the potatoes until they are soft. Meanwhile, finely chop the shallots and coriander. When the potatoes are ready, drain them well and put them back into the sauce pan. Whilst the potatoes are still hot, add the butter and pepper and mash them until there are no lumps. When you are done, add the shallots, coriander and milk and mix it well. Your mash will be ready to serve.

Happy cooking and enjoy.

Welcome to Just Mad Cooking

Hello fellow hobbie chefs
Welcome to Just Mad cooking. I will start by introducing myself, my name is Ben and I am very passionate about cooking and I love to cook dishes from all over the world. My favourites include Asian, Indian and traditional English food with a modern twist. But I have to say i will have a go at cooking anything that catches my interest. I love using lots of different herbs, spices and ingredients and even though I have my tried and tested recipes, I always try at least one new dish a week, the latest being "Spiced beef stir-fry topped with spring onion and coriander", which was so nice that I am cooking it again for my sister and her boyfriend this weekend. But don't worry if you would like to try the recipe  yourself, I will be posting it on my blog over the next few weeks. So make sure you pop back  regularly to make sure u don't miss out on any of my tasty recipes.