Saturday, 17 March 2012

English Cottage Pie Recipe

Hi chefs

You know everyone loves a good cottage pie and I'm no exception. I haven't actually prepared one before and because my girlfriend has only tried it once, so I thought that it's time to see what recipes are out there. The only cottage pie I have seen being made was that of my Nan's. I can only just about remember it. As it goes, it's probably also the first cottage pie I have ever tried and I have to say it was very simple and tasty. But I knew that there might be a bit more to add to a cottage pie recipe. So I went to my go to cookery site, the BBC Good Food website and searched for cottage pies. Quite a few different types of cottage pies and alternative pies turned up, but I choose this one, because I liked the look of it and there were a few more ingredients in there that interested me. This is not to say that I won't be posting my Nan's cottage pie as her recipe is the perfect meal, if you don't have much time on your hands, but if you have a spare couple of hours then this recipe is definetly worth it. It turned out very tasty indeed.

What you need (serves 4-6 people):
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 1/4 mince beef
2 onions finely chopped
3 carrots chopped
2 celery sticks chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato puree
large glass red wine optional
850ml beef stock
4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
a few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves

for the mash:
1.8kg potatoes
225ml milk
25g butter
200g strong mature cheddar, grated

What to do:
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in large frying pan, then fry the mince until it's brown. You will probably have to do this in two batches. Now put the rest of the oil into the pan, add the vegetable and cook on a low heat for about 20mins or until soft. Then add the garlic, tomato purée and flour, turn up the heat and cook for a few minutes. Now you have to add the browned mince and wine (if using), turn up the heat and reduce for a few minutes. Add the stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45 mins. By then the gravy should be quite thick. If there is a lot of liquid remaining increase the heat a little to reduce it. You need to remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

While all this is going on, you should get the mash ready. Everyone has their own way of making mash. If you don't, then boil the potatoes in slightly salted water until tender. Once cooked drain well and let them steam for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and milk and use a masher and mash well. Then add 3 quatres of the cheese and mix before you season with some salt and pepper.

Now heat the oven to 220c/200c fan/gas mark 7. Spoon the beef mix into 2 oven proof dishes and pipe or spoon over the mash. Then cover with the remaining cheese. Put into the oven and bake for 25-30 mins or until golden. There you go a very tasty recipe for a cottage pie. Both me and my girlfriend really liked this recipe and will definitely be using it again. Hope you enjoy it to.

Happy cooking and enjoy!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Cambodian marinated beef with a black pepper and lime dipping sauce

Hello chefs 

It's time for another rant, but in this case not so much as there is not that much background to this dish apart from the fact that I really liked the sound and look of it. It is from a book called "Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey". Thinking about it, it's very rare for me to try a recipe from a cook book, if there is no complimenting pictures to show how good the meal can turn out because there is nothing better than finding a recipe with an accompanying picture that instantly makes my mouth water and this recipe did exactly that. In fact, in this book there are plenty of recipes that make you want to start cooking there and then and that is maybe the reason why I wanted it as soon as I saw it. If you read the post "The reason I cook", then you will know that my first influences were from the Eastern part of the world and to have a book with 150 different recipes from that part of the world from over 7 different countries made this a must have for me.

What you need:
700g rump or sirloin beef steak

For the marinade:
1 medium hot red chilli, roughly chopped
15g garlic, roughly chopped
25g peeled ginger, roughly chopped
juice of half a lime
1 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce 
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp of oil

For the dipping sauce:
juice of half a lime
2tsp ground black pepper

What to do:
First of all you will need to trim the beef off all fat and cut into 2.5-3cm pieces. Put all the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor and blend together until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the beef, leave to marinade for 20 minutes.
To make the dipping sauce is very easy indeed: All you need to do is mix the lime juice and pepper with quarter of a tsp of salt and that's it. Now it's time to cook the beef. Being an Eastern dish, you guessed it, you need a wok or a large deep frying pan. Heat half the oil over a high heat, take half the beef and fry for 3 mins or until nicely browned on the outside - the beef will be rare, if you want well done beef then cook for 6-8 mins. Now put the beef onto a warm plate, then repeat with the remaining oil and beef. If you buy this book or happen to own it, then you will notice that I am not serving it like the recipe as I think it would be more like a starter. So I just served it with a large portion of coriander rice and put a drizzle of the dipping sauce over it. 

This is the first recipe that I have prepared and cooked from this book and it was delicious. I would definitely recommend "Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey" to anyone as there are lots of recipes in this book to get your taste buds going.

Happy cooking and enjoy.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Competition: Win Camellia Panjabii's "50 Great Curries of India"

If you have read my blog, you will know that Camellia Panjabii's "50 Great Curries of India" is one of my favourite recipe books as it contains 50 authentic Indian curry recipes that are so amazing that my best friend and I call it "The Bible".

I have one copy to give away to one of my readers. If you would like to win, simply fill in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck! 

The reason I cook

I was going to put a vegetable chow mein recipe with this post, but as I started writing, it hit me like a thunder bolt that this post is the reason for my passion of cooking. Serendipity! Now for the post: Well where to start with Chinese cooking? All I can say is that I love it and you will find it hard to find a Chinese recipe or meal that I don't like. I always remember my first taste of Chinese food, which was from our local Chinese chip shop. It was a roast pork chow mein. I was only young, but it left such an impression that I can still taste it now. After that every time we went for Chinese I choose that. Even now if I order a chow mein, I always go for the roast pork.

Over the years I have branched out a bit from just trying that particular dish and for me the dishes have just kept on getting better. The funny thing about Chinese food and the effect it had on me is that I think it's actually the reason I enjoy cooking so much. When I was 16, I brought my mum a Chinese cook book for Christmas. I found it so fascinating that I decided to cook my mum a Chinese feast. It was a five course meal from a book called "The Taste Of China" by Frederic Lebain and Jean Paul Paireault. You can still get it second hand on Amazon for 1 pence. Looking back on it, I'm not quite sure what I was thinking of. I was going to attempt to buy, prepare and cook a 5 course meal from a book that was quite in depth, when the closest I had come to cooking was being shown how to peel carrots by my granddad.

I have just literally stopped to tell my girlfriend about it and I'm laughing as to how ridiculous the idea was. Nevertheless, I went ahead with it. The first thing I had to do was pick the menu. I can't actually remember what I choose, except for the exotic fruit salad and spring rolls. So menu done: time to buy the food. Being only 16 with a limited knowledge of food, I really did underestimate the task ahead of me as I under budgeted for this meal and in the end I think I spent £60 on the food. I did struggle to get all the ingredients as this was 1996 and specialist foods weren't readily available as they are today. I have to say that I can't remember where I got the money for this, I think that maybe my mum contributed to it.

So with all my ingredients and the kitchen ready, I was feeling confident. I was really looking forward to cooking this meal as this was all new to me. I started the feast in the late afternoon. First of all, I had no clue about non stick pans and woks and used a fork. Yes, work ruined before I had even got started, but being young and clueless I carried on. For all the dishes I gave my all and in return so did my mum: She ate everything I put in front of her and said how nice it tasted. They meals actually did taste nice, even though they didn't look anything like the pictures in the book. I finished cooking around 9 o'clock and I think that I must have used every utensil, pot and pan in the kitchen. It looked like a bomb had hit it, but I didn't care. I had completed a 5 course meal and was feeling quite good about myself. Even spending the next 2 hours cleaning the kitchen didn't bother me.

Looking back at the evening. I'm sure that that experience is the reason I ended up as a line cook at TGI Fridays, which is another rant I definitely have to go on as I have some great stories from my time there, but back to the point that the evening is definitely the reason I love all aspects of cooking. Thank you Chinese food!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Just Mad's Tandoori Lamb Recipe

I don't know what to say about this meal: I have prepared, cooked and demolished it and I'm lost for words as to how good the finished product was. As you know, I'm very passionate about my curries and I have been cooking Indian recipes on and off for at least 3 years. I have never had a meal turn out like this, especially considering that it was my own recipe. Everything worked: from the tenderness and moistness of the lamb to the subtle mix of the marinade and the slight kick of the chilli. Everything went right: you could even taste a smidgen of the lime that was added at the start. I have to say that this was the perfect Indian meal and I don't think I can top it. I don't say this about many of my meals, but anyone that follows me must have ago at this recipe, as it's a waste if I just kept it for myself. I am posting this recipe exactly how I cooked it. If you follow my blog, then you will know that this is in two parts. For those of you that don't know then the marinade part of this recipe is in my previous post. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did.
This meal will serve 2 people, if not 3.

What you need:
780g of the marinated lamb

What to do:
If you are using a Tandoori pot, then you will need to soak it in cold water for at least 20 minutes. Add the marinated lamb to the tandoori pot, put into the oven and turn the oven up to 230c fan/425f/gas 8, now set the timer for an hour. After an hour take the lid off the tandoori pot and cook for a further 20 minutes. Now the lamb is ready. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with a rice of your choice . I have a few different ways to prepare rice, which I will post over the next few months. For this particular dish, I used a simple coriander rice.
As you can see, once you are done with the hard part of marinating the lamb, this meal becomes very simple indeed. I just hope that my boast at the start of this recipe lives up to your expectations and that you get just as much enjoyment out of this meal as my girlfriend and I did.

Happy Cooking and Enjoy!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Just Mad's Own Tandoori Oven Pot Marinade For Curries

Right then, if you have been following my blog then you might have read my post about curries and how passionate I am about them. You can also gather that from the ramble I went on.
Anyway, let's get to the point: Basically for the six months before Christmas, I always start the hinting game. And one of the hints I gave this year was an ice cream maker. Like clockwork my girlfriend went to work by giving the task to my sister. I would be apologetic about hinting, but getting a present that is nice but not practical can be a bit of a let down - plus you know you are always going to get a few surprises at Christmas if your other half is like mine.
The funny thing is that I didn't get the ice cream maker as my sisters fiance had other ideas- and what an idea it was! In a million years I would have never guessed what he got me. It was a pot, not just any pot, but a Tandoori cooking pot. I couldn't believe it, what a legend! I have to say that with my increasing thirst for cooking ideas at the moment, the present couldn't have been any better.
The pot instructions on how to use the tandoori came with a recipe that I thought was only right to use first. It was nice, but left me wanting, so I goggled tandoori recipes and to be honest there weren't that many recipes out there. So I decided to use my amateur experience and have a go myself. The date today is 23/02/2012, and I'm posting this recipe without having cooked it yet as the lamb is still marinating in the fridge. So anticipation is high as to see how the marinated lamb turns out. Anyway here's the recipe for the marinade. BTW with this recipe you will have almost half of the spice mix left for any kind of curry you may want to try and you will also have half the marinade left which you can freeze for a curry in the future.

What you need for the lamb:
780g lamb, diced into 2inc cubes
juice of 1 lime
tsp of salt.

For the marinade:
1 small onion chopped
2 shallots chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
a large nob of ginger grated
4 red chillies finely chopped
large bunch of coriander
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp roasted coriander seeds
2 tbsp roasted cumin seeds
12 roasted cardamon pods
10 roasted cloves
1 tsp turmeric
4 tbsp yogurt
4 tbsp oil

What to do:
First thing you need to do is chop the lamb and put into a mixing bowl. Add the lime and salt, mix and cover, I would leave it for 20 minutes. In the meantime you want to gently roast the coriander seeds until they start to smoke and they give off a nice aroma, then do the same with the cumin, cardamon pods and cloves. Then grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. You will notice that you have quite a fair amount of spice mix which you won't need. The extra will make a nice spice mix for a future curry. Now you need to chop the onions and shallots, then finely chop the garlic, grate the ginger, finely chop the red chillies and roughly chop the fresh coriander.
Right, this is the part where you need a food processor. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, chillies, fresh coriander and a pinch of salt. Then add 1 and a half tbsp of the spice mix and a tsp of turmeric to the blender. Add 4 tbsp of yogurt and switch on the blender and mix. Gradually add 4 tbsp of oil. I used groundnut oil. Blend the mix till almost paste like.
Now your marinade is ready. Take half the mix and really rub the mix into the lamb chunks, making sure that you coat the whole of the lamb, then cover and put into the fridge. You can put the other half of the mix into the freezer so you can use it for another curry. There you go, my take on a tandoori lamb marinade. Hope you like.

Happy Cooking and Enjoy.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Simple Tuna Pasta

Another post so soon after a long absence? Yes, it is true! I think I'm going to put the one to two hours of Amy's sleep nap to good use. So this time I am going to talk you through a simple tuna pasta. I know what you are saying: "A salad at this time of the year - 'tis an outrage", but my girlfriend loves this dish and requested it. In her defence, I'm partial to this meal myself and I have to say that with summer fast approaching and pockets being a bit skint, this meal has it all. It's cheap, healthy and tasty.
My family have been using this recipe for as long as I can remember and I know that it's a firm favorite in my sister's family household too. Also when the whole family gathered at Christmas it was always my task of doing my part and making the pasta salad for the buffet. The bowl was always empty at the end of the day, which I will say, always put a smile on my face.
The recipe I'm going to post will feed 3-4 people, but if you double up on all the ingredients then this dish is a great party piece for BBQ's and special events like birthdays and as mentioned Christmas.
There are two ways to prepare this recipe. One way is to use raw ingredients, which is my preferred way. The other way is to gently fry the veg part of the recipe in oil till soft. To be fair either way is just as good as the other, I just prefer the crunch of the veg, especially the red onion, as I am a big raw onion fan - you will see this over the coming months. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this recipe.

What you need:
750g penne pasta/any pasta will do for this recipe
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 tin of sweetcorn
1 tin of tuna in sunflower oil
salad cream, this is up to you, as little or as much as you want. You can even use mayonnaise if you would like.
salt and pepper

What to do:
First of all you need to bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. I would cook the pasta to the instructions as you do not want to over cook it. Whilst this is going on, chop the red onion, red pepper, green pepper and add to a large mixing bowl and add a little bit of salt. Then add the sweetcorn and tuna sunflower oil included. The pasta should be ready by now, drain well then add to the veg, pour the salad cream - again, it's up to you how much you use. I used a Tesco own brand salad cream last time and it was a lot cheaper and tasted just as good the more expansive brand. There it is, it's that simple. I'm sure that once you try this recipe you will definitely go back for more.

Happy Cooking and Enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sea bass with sizzled ginger, chilli and spring onions

Hello hobby chefs. 

Today I'm going to post a fish recipe - to be more precise it's a "Sea bass with sizzled ginger, chilli and spring onions" recipe. And I'm not joking when I say that this was probably the best best meal I have ever tasted, if not the best meal I have ever cooked. I don't get much chance to do fish recipes as my girlfriend doesn't like fish, but I thought I would treat myself as I found this recipe on the BBC Good Food website and it just looked so tasty.

I also have to say that good it looked and good it tasted. It turned out so nice that even my girlfriend begrudgingly tried it. She just looked at me and smiled as if to say "Yeah, that's delicious, but don't expect me to admit it". Not only did it taste amazing but with roughly 10 minutes prep time and 10 minutes cooking time, it was also the easiest and quickest recipe I have tried so far. This meal is definitely going to make regular appearance on our weekly shopping list. If you read this blog please try this recipe as I cannot advocate it enough. Thank very much to the BBC Good Food website for introducing me to this recipe. To anyone who tries this recipe I hope you enjoy this meal as much my girlfriend and I did. Let me know what you think!

What you need (serves 6):
6x sea bass fish fillets about 140g/5oz, skin and and scaled
3 tbsp spoons ground nut oil
large nob of ginger cut into matchsticks
3 cloves of garlic Finley sliced
3 fat, fresh red chillis de-seeded and finely sliced
a bunch of spring onoins shredded
1tbsp soy sauce

What to do:
Season the fish with slat and pepper. Then slash the skin three times. Heat a heavy based frying pan and add 1 tbsp of oil. When hot fry the fish skin side down for 5 minutes or until the skin is crisp and golden, then turn the fish over and cooked for about a 30 seconds to a minute, then remove and put to the side and keep warm. You will need to fry the fish in two batches.
Now heat the remaining oil, then fry the ginger, garlic and chilli for about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and add the spring onions. Splash the soy sauce over the fish and spoon over the contents of the pan and serve.

Happy cooking and enjoy!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

German style New Years Eve.

In 2010, my girlfriend and I went to Germany to visit her family over Christmas and the New Year. It was the first time they were going to meet me, I was very nervous, but also really looking forward to seeing how German cooking differed from English. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed all the dishes I tried, from the locally caught fish in a pub that was on the docks, to the everyday meals that her family prepared, but - the one meal and evening that I enjoyed the most was New Years Eve. In the past my New Years Eve mainly contained a fair amount of alcohol and a dance floor, but this was going to be a bit more civilized. Not to say there wasn't alcohol, but we were going to all sit round the dining table for my first meeting with a raclette.

Considering that I was in a different country with people I barely knew, it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I have experienced. For those of you that don't know what a raclette is, it's basically an indoor BBQ, where you have a stone and grill cooking pad on top and 8 trays underneath for grilling cheese to melt over your food. We had turkey, chicken and pork, then vegetables like red and yellow peppers, baby corn, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, with tinned pineapple, pickled onions, gherkins and stuffed red peppers and a variety of cheeses. I have to say that the evening for me almost had it all - even down to the German tradition of the mustard filled doughnut, which I had the pleasure of eating, but according to their philosophy I was going to have a lucky year: Which was true as our first child was born with no complications.

Anyway enough babble about this and time to get to the point, which is that for Christmas one of the pressies we received from my girlfriend's grandparents was a raclette. Which I have to say was pretty cool. I instantly started thinking of when I was going to be able to use it for the first time? I had an idea straight away. My best friend and his girlfriend had been trying for a baby after a miscarriage and had just found out that they were expecting another baby. So I knew they were weren't going to have a mad night out on the town and thought they might appreciate of a nice relaxed evening with a bit of food, which they did. So me and my girlfriend went to work.

What we used:
650g of a good quality steak
3 good quality pork chops

To be honest, there are so many different types of salads, vegetables, dips and different types of cheeses and all types of pickled and Jared goods to go with the raclette that you are spoiled for choice, you just can't go wrong as there is something for everyone. And the one thing I found the best was the fact that it was very relaxed and sociable. Which made for a great new years eve for us.
I know this is not much of a recipe but it's my blog and my rules, lol and I just wanted to share this with you.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Haha I've got my oven back. = Recipe for a Turkey roast

I know I haven't posted for a while but I didn't realize that father hood would be so time consuming, well I do now lol. Right then, I really do not know where to start with this topic. All I know is that, if your mum asked you in front of your dad, your Nan, your sister's boyfriend,  your best mate, his girlfriend or your neighbour's great grand cousin, who cooks your favorite roast dinner, and you don't say your mum's is your favorite, then you will be in a lot of trouble. Even though secretly I love my nan's and mine is a close 2nd ;-), but now I feel that if I don't include everyone's roast in my top two, I will be ruffling a few feathers.

I'm not joking! People can get quite protective over their roast dinner - down to what meat to use, the hundred and one ways to cook that meat and if you are going to stuff the meat. What to stuff the meat with? What would be the best basting lard or oil to cook the meat and roast potatoes in if you're having roasted potatoes? What veg to use or whether to have boiled or roasted vegetables? I mean with all the different types of veg available now and ways to cook them it's literally enough to send you mad and you haven't even started cooking yet. And don't get me started on the gravy. Every chef will have his own version of gravy. And as every chef I love my mine. I have to say that depending on how many people you are cooking for, it can turn into a military mission. I always liked my dad's method of stepping in at the end to do the gravy, for which he takes great pride in. Anyway after that rant let's get back to the fact that I have my oven back and my turkey roast.

Up until two and a half years ago, I had never had any sort of roast turkey or turkey joint due to the fact I was lead to believe that it was quite a dry meat. But after my girlfriend brought a turkey joint home for me to cook, I was quickly converted. In fact, I favor a turkey joint Sunday roast over most meats now, because it's cheap and very tasty. So here is my take on our favorite roast at the moment. The roast potato's and honey roasted parsnips for this meal have been inspired by recipes from the internet. This will serve 3-4 people.

What you need:
turkey joint ( I buy ours from Tesco )
4 medium potatoes
3 large carrots
2 leeks
1 large broccoli
bag of runner beans
2 large parsnips
2 large red onions
And Brussels sprouts if they are in season
4 table spoons of goose fat
1 and a half table spoons of honey
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
5-6 gloves of garlic
plenty of olive oil
salt and pepper

What to do:
When I said that sometimes a roast dinner can be like a military mission, mine is no different - so bare with me. First thing you need to do is to preheat the oven on to 190C. When I cook this meal, I base it around taking 1 hour and 45 minutes cooking and preparation time.To save time I would get your carrots, broccoli, leeks, Brussels sprouts and runner beans peeled, prepared and put into sauce pans of salted water - ready to boil. Right, then get a large saucepan of water boiling, peel and quarter the potatoes and add to the boiling water, boil for 7-8 minutes. Whilst they are boiling, chop up the garlic and rosemary. When done drain the potatoes and then shake in the colander to roughen up the edges. Now you want to put the goose fat into a roasting tray and heat up in the oven for 5 minutes. As this is happening prepare the turkey joint, which is just a case of removing the cardboard and cling film cover. When the 5 minutes are up, take out the roasting tray and add the potatoes garlic and rosemary and really mix them well.

Now put the potatoes and turkey joint onto the middle shelf of the oven and set your timer for 35 minutes even though the turkey and potatoes take an hour to cook. For best results, I baste them every 15 minutes. For the honey roasted parsnips you need to get a saucepan of salted water boiling, then you need to cut the parsnips length ways into four and remove the core before you cut each piece in half and put it  into the boiling water where you boil it for 5 minutes. Remove, drain and add straight to a bowl of cold water, then drain again and set to the side. This part I quite like, just some plain old roasted red onion: You will need to peel and quarter them, put them into a roasting try and mix with a good amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. When the 35 minute timer has gone, reset it for 25 minutes. Put the onions into the oven and turn the gas or electric hob on full to boil the veg. Once the water is boiling turn down to simmer and cover. The veg should take close to 20 minutes depending on how you like it. Onions should take about 25 minutes.

This is the part where I wish I had a bigger cooking range with maybe a couple of added hobs. So how you juggle this is up to you, but here goes: I would say that the leeks are the first to cook, so once they are done I would drain them and put them back into the saucepan and cover, then use that hob to heat up an oven proof frying pan with olive oil. When hot add the parsnips and drizzle the honey over them. Season to taste and fry until golden. Now the hour should be up, take the turkey out the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then take out the roast potato's and put to the side. Turn the oven up to 220c and put the roast parsnips in the oven for 5 minutes. During this time plate up your veg and potato's and carve your turkey. By this time your parsnips should be done and ready to plate up. Ok that's it: job done! Well almost: just the gravy to go, but that's another story for which I have a few recipes, I will share  them over the next few weeks. There we go, my take on a turkey roast. Takes a bit of time but trust me it's well worth the cooking hassle and you might need to invest in a couple of saucepans or if like me do a bit of a juggling act, anyway

Happy cooking and enjoy!