Eat in Chicken Tikka Masala – Take the Tefal ActiFryDay challenge

Friday nights – when all you want to do is get home, put your feet up and watch some telly while tucking into your favourite takeaway. But here are some staggering facts about the eating habits of Britons and how many calories are consumed on an average with a takeaway meal. According to Tefal’s ActiFryday Report:

  • From a study of the 5 most popular dishes it was found that the nation consumes 12,400 tonnes of saturated fat through takeaway’s alone.
  • Brits eat upto 2900 calories and 161 grams of fat in their most popular takeaway meal.
  • Friday is the most popular day to order.

Not surprising then the survey revealed this shocking statistic –

BRITONS FEAST ON MORE THAN 12,000 TONNES OF SATURATED FAT FROM TAKEAWAYS EACH YEAR

Am sure you are as shocked after reading these statistics as I was. So naturally when Tefal asked me to take on their Actifryday challenge – to swap a typical Friday night takeaway for a healthier alternative –  I was in.

Tefal Actifry XL

Tefal Actifry XL

I decided to give the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe that they sent me a go. Why? Because  I have always been very intrigued by the recpie for Chicken Tikka Masala – a dish that I only ate when I first came to the U.K few years ago. CTM as it is popularly called, is without doubt the nations favourite British-Indian curry. Part of it’s popularity is attributed to the fact that it’s origin is quite disputed and many have staked a claim as to the dish being their own invention. While some believe that it was dish born out of necessity to satiate the British palate’s need to serve chicken in a gravy which can be mopped up with naan or rice, it is also believed that it is a variation of butter chicken. Many also firmly believe that it’s roots like in Mughlai cuisine and it was one of the many culinary inventions that were born to suit the English palate, when the migrant population from post partition India, Pakistan and Bangladesh came into Britain. Of course I was not going to follow the recipe without making some changes of my own. I normally make all my own masala’s and marinades from scratch and all of them can be stored and/ or frozen to be used later. I used half of the tikka masala paste I made  and froze the rest. Find my easy recipe for tikka masala on my blog here.

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

Since this is a recipe which aims to reduce the fat content the double cream that normally goes in the curry is replaced by low fat natural yoghurt. Figuring out how to use my new Tefal Actifry XL was not difficult at all and the instruction booklet is quite simple to follow too. Once the removable parts has been hand washed and dried completely , I set about making a Chicken Tikka Masala. Here is my modified version of the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 500g boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 2cm pieces
  • 100g Tikka Masala curry paste
  • 2 pots (150g size) natural low fat yoghurt
  • 1 ActiFry spoon of vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large finely chopped onion and made into a thick paste
  • 390g canned premium chopped tomatoes made into a puree
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 onion gravy flavour pot – I used Knorr
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 150ml of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar – I used a substitute -Natvia
  • 2 teaspoons on lemon juice
  • Salt as per taste
  • a handfull of fresh coriander leaves chopped fine – to garnish

Method:

  1. In a large bowl mix the Tikka Masala paste with 4 tablespoonsof yougurt. Add the chicken in the coat then cover. Leave the marinate in the fridge for atleast 4 hours or ideally overnight – this will ensure the flavours have really seeped in, into the chicken.
  2. Heat oil in ActiFry for 2 minutes. Add the onion paste and cook for 5 minutes. I simply chopped the onion fine in my food processor and sprinkled some water to give it movement and gave it 2 spins at low speed. Result was a thick onion paste which is a much better way to use the onion in this recipe in the Actifry.
  3. Add the marinated Chicken and cook for a another 10 minutes. This ensures that the Actifry is hot enough to bruise the ends of the chicken giving it a similar treatment to what the griddle pan will. But of course the bruising is minimal and cannot be compared to grilling the meat. But this is where the addition of smoked paprika in the chicken tikka paste plays a big role as it works with the chicken and the cooking process to impart a much better smoky effect than without.
  4. In a small glass bowl crush the chicken stock cube, add the onion gravy flavour pot and smoked paprika and pour 2 tbps of hot water. With the back of a spoon mix well until a thick paste is formed.
  5. Add the tomato puree, the mixture with the stock and water cook for another 10 minutes. Add salt to taste but keep in mind that the chicken stock cube contains a lot of salt so taste some of the gravy base before adding additional salt.
  6. Remove the CTM into a bowl and then stir in remaining yoghurt. Then add the sugar and mix well.
  7. Add the lemon juice mix well and top with a handful of freshly chopped coriander leaves.
  8. Serve with steaming hot basmati rice, jeera rice or naan.

If you would like to view the original recipe from Tefal click here. To save time you can purchase the tikka masala paste too.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Both hubby and me were quite satisfied with this low calorie version of CTM and it definitely can hold it’s own in terms of taste. Of course the texture of tandoor grilled chicken tikkas and the unmistakeable creaminess of double cream is missing. But it’s a win -win on 2 very important factors :

  • Saving on unnecessary calories from the grease and oil from a takeaway. Thus eliminating the risk of eating artery clogging saturated fats.
  • Tefal Actifry is easy to use and very easy to cook in. With a little effort and planning it’s not at all difficult to produce a delicious curry – a healthier alternative to your takeaway- at home.

The Tefal ActiFry Express XL is available from John Lewis RRP £249.99.

*With  thanks to Tefal for sending me a Tefal Actifry XL for review. No monetary compensation was offered. No request was made for a positive review.  As usual all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala curry paste

Chicken Tikka Masala is the poster child for British Indian cuisine and definitely tops the list of the nations favourite curry. CTM as it is popularly known as is also the top choice for a Friday Night takeway when ordering in Indian food.

Like any good curry, it’s best to use a home made marinade, so if you can spare some time, it’s best to make your own tikka curry paste. I made mine and here is a simple recipe that you can use. The quantity is enough to marinade 1 kilo of skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces. I used 5000 gm of chicken for my CTM so the rest is in my freezer and can continue to live there for at least 2 months – I don’t think it will though because am sure the craving for a curry can strike sooner rather than later. Actually the tikka paste can be used as a starter marinade for grilled chicken kebabs as that is what is the basis of a good CTM. Or can be used for marinating even meat or fish to grill or as part of a curry dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Half a red chilli de-seeded
  • 2 medium sized kashmiri chillies
  • 2 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 heaped tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander and green chilli puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp roasted coriander seeds powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt as per taste
Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

Method:

  • In a small saucepan heat the oil.
  • Reduce the flame to a minium then add the bay leaf and the dried red kashmiri chillies, which add flavour and colour and not heat.
  • Then add in the ginger garlic paste. Stir for 30 seconds before adding in the garam masala, that will allow the ginger garlic paste to mix well with the hot oil but prevent it from drying up the oil.
  • Once the garam masala is mixed well with the paste and the oil add the screaming dry spices and mix well. Allow  to cook on a very low flame for under a minute and then add the coriander and green chilli puree. (Again I make my own puree – simply spitz 2 large bunches of  fresh coriander leaves with two small Indian green chillies, add some water in a small food processor to make a thick puree. This can be frozen and used for many curries and sabzi’s or bhajee’s as we call them in Marathi.I store mine for upto 3 weeks)
  • The smoked paprika will work with the chiken while making the curry and impart a fabulous smoky flavour that is hard to miss.
  • Allow the paste to cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it does not burn or become too dry.
  • The water content in the coriander and green chilli mixture will totally dry out and you will be left with a dark reddish brown paste.

Like any marinade there are many things that been added or omitted according to one’s preferences. For example the red chilli can be eliminated to reduce the heat. A small pinch of sugar can be added to balance out the green chilli too. Also a small amount of water can be sprinkled to give the paste a more fluid consistency of required.
I use the dried kashmiri chillies and the bay leaf later in the curry base and did not purree the tikka paste further. Why?  Because the garam masala already contains both these spices. After marinating the chicken with the paste, the same kashmiri chilli and the bay leaf can be added to the hot oil, to impart fragrance and colour.

 

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

 

Pack a healthy protien punch into your meals with Quorn

One of the main challenges I have been facing off late as I am trying hard to throw off weight is maintaining a high protien diet and keeping my meals low on fat. Believe me it’s tricky trying to go low on sugar, saturated fats and ensuring blood sugar and cholesterol are at acceptable levels too- almost like a tight rope walk!

But even if you do not need to actively lower your cholesterol or sugar levels and are just looking for a healthier alternate to protein from meat sources I would consider including Quorn in your diet. I first tried Quorn simply out of curiosity. Both my husband and me love lamb mince but eating it more that 2 times on a week made me really feel very guilty. But swapping Quorn mince for lamb, once a week was something we are happy to do.

I always marinate Quorn mince with spices overnight and leave it to soak in all the flavours overnight. So when I was invited to an event to cook with Quorn at the Underground Cookery School, I was quite keen to see what recipes they had in mind.

Starters for the evening

Starters for the evening

We started by making dessert – always a great way to start the evening! Chocolate Torte was on the menu and we really enjoyed working with chocolate and working to an easy recipe created by the Underground Cookery School .

Chocolate Torte

Chocolate Torte

Next it was the BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw followed by Quorn Thai Curry – which I enjoyed making the most. I really loved the recipe created by Denise.

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

And for you, my readers here its is for you:

Quorn Thai Curry

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp korma paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetarian Thai green curry paste
  • 500gm Quorn pieces

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400gm onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 60gm fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp fresh, frozen or dried lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 vegetable stock cube crumbled
  • 2 x 400 gm tin coconut milk
  •  3 tbsp sweet mango chutney
  • 30 gm fresh basil
  • 350 gm red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 200 gm mangetout or sugar snaps, halved
Quorn Chicken Pieces

Quorn Chicken Pieces

Method

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the Quorn is coated. Transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • To prepare the sauce heat the oil in a pan then gently fry the chopped onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  • Add half of the coriander, the lime leaves, turmeric, stock cube, coconut milk and mango chutney. Gently bring to the boil then simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add the basil and remaining coriander to the sauce for the last 5 minutes of cooking time then remove the pan from the heat and blend until smooth with a hand blender.
  • Meanwhile transfer the marinated Quorn pieces to a baking tray and cook in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
  • Add the Quorn pieces, red pepper and mangetout to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked.
Quorn Thai Curry

Quorn Thai Curry

While our curry was bubbling away we sat through a presentation over wine and a  Q-A session. The question many of the bloggers had – as am sure many of you do was – what exactly is Quorn made up of?

Quorn’s core ingredient is a plant protein that is exceptional at replicating the texture and taste of meat.  This is a naturally occurring fungus, which is harvested through a fermentation process. Other key features that make it a great choice are:

  • Quorn has no cholestrol and is high on fibre
  • From the sustainability perspective consider this Quorn mince uses 90% less greenhouse gasses than lean beef mince,

It was lovely to meet so many bloggers that evening and also bump into familiar faces like Leyla Preston and Becky. And for me it’s always a good feeling to come back to Underground cookery school where Chef and Patron Matt Kemp and his able team of chefs ensures that every blogger feels welcome, wine glasses never run dry and cooking is fun all the way.

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The BBQ pulled Quorn was delicious and I really liked the texture of quorn and how easily it had taken up the flavours of the seasoning used. Paired with pink coleslaw it makes for a really great snack and a lovely idea for a summer BBQ.

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

Served with steamed basmati rice, perfectly done – each grain cooked to satisfying perfection was the creamy Thai Green curry – this was the most satisfying dish that evening and one that I am happy to make at home over and over again.

Both hubby and me love our meat and seafood but we are consciously trying to eat healthier, include more vegetables and fruits in our diet and look for healthier protein choices. That’s where Quorn comes in. Quorn certainly is a healthy protein alternative with a wide range of options – a solution to both vegetarians and the rapidly expanding group of people wanting to reduce their meat consumption.

Infographic-Quorn

Infographic-Quorn

Today is World Meat Free Day, why not create your very own easy vegetarian delight for an easy dinner at home tonight? And for those feeling less adventurous there’s many options Quorn has like my favourite Quorn steaks – served with a peppery salad of rocket leaves and fresh summery cherry tomatoes they go down a treat.

World Meat Free Day

World Meat Free Day

*With  thanks to Quorn for the invite and for the team at Underground Cookery for another great experience.  All photographs used in this post are courtesy Preston Perfect Photography. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Today is World Gin Day and a Saturday and it’s summer, can’t think of a better excuse to mix up some fabulously fragrant summer cocktails and share with a few friends! After all can be anything more English than a fruity gin and tonic? Think Not!

So get your cocktail shakers ready for my crazy new cocktail which I have christened as the Bombay Fever Pink Gin. This is an offshoot of the iconic original Pink Gin cocktail. Originating in Cuidad Bolivar – earlier known as Angostura, the capital of Venezuela’s Bolivar state, this cocktail rose to fame in the England in the mid-19th century.

The cocktail is normally made with 4 parts of pink gin and a dash of the angostura bitters. Also a lime rind is added into to allow the oils to infuse into the drink. Served in a chilled highball glass with lots of ice and tonic water it makes for a refreshing and citrusy drink. I always avoid sweet tonic water as it defeats the purpose of adding the bitters. But to each his own and even sweet tonic water works.

I wanted to add a bit of kick into the recipe so I decided to crush some red peppercorns and slit a red chilli in the middle and hang it on the side, slowly adding it’s heat into the drink.  Obviously then the glass must be chilled and the gin should be poured over ice before adding the tonic water. I also decided to leave the bitters out instead of ”in”.

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur is infused with rhubarb which gives the gin and the cocktail a delicate rose colour and an intense .aroma.The ginger, peppercorns and the chilli have a warming aftertaste. Made in the heart of Scotland at the Edinburgh distillery where they create gins infused with beautiful botanicals.This gin pairs well with tonic, soda or lemonade, and as I can say with guaranatee is also fabulous in cocktails, with Champagne or simply over ice

Ingredients:

  • 60 ml Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur
  • a dash of  angostura bitters
  • 1 red chilli split top to down and de-seeded
  • a small twirl of lemon rind
  • 1/2 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
  • a sprig of mint
  • Ice
Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Method:

  • Wash and wipe down your best martini glasses. Leave them to chill in the freezer the frostier the glass the better.
  • Crush the red peppercorns and add into the cocktail shaker
  • Pour angostura bitters into an ice filled glass and stir 4-5 times, then pour the bitters out.
  • Pour the gin onto the ice and add the crushed peppercorns stir gently allowing the flavour from the bitters and the peppercorns to mix well with the gin.
  • Remove the frosted glasses from the freezer and strain the gin into the glasses.
  • Top with tonic water and add a lemon rind into each glass.
  • Rest one half of a split red chill on the side of each glass
  • Gently crush a fresh mint leaf and add into each cocktail glass
  • Sip slowly and enjoy the sunshine

Mix-strain-repeat! It’s #WorldGinDay after all so kick any guilt away by thinking of the many gin lovers who are enjoying their favourite spirit too.

I must say I have a really good time reading all about the history, production and cocktail recipes with gin. Here are links to a few recipes and articles by some of my food blogger friends who appreciate  England’s national spirit as much as I do:

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Curious to know how the World Gin Day came into being? Head to their website here, but be warned you might just get crazy gin cravings after!

To Purchase Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur head to stockist Amazon UK by clicking here

References:

*With  thanks to Aamzon U.K for sending me a sample of Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

BombayFever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Exploring SOHO on a gastronomic adventure with Scratch London

SOHO – London’s famously infamous district where sex shops sit comfortably nestled between artisan bakeries, will always hold a sense of intrigue to everyone who visits. No matter how many times you go to SOHO each time the place will reveal a new facet of it’s colourful personality. I truly believe that there is no better way to discover any place than on foot. And a walking tour that involves eating at 10 very different foodie joints is what you will experience on a SOHO walking tour with Michelle of Scratch London tours.

SOHO Square

SOHO Square

A chef and ex-restauranter who has worked in some establishments in SOHO it is fair to say that as regards the food scene in SOHO Michelle is an insider. She also hosts Marylebone’s Scratch SupperClub.

On a bright and crisp Saturday morning a few weeks back Michelle met a small group of people including me at SOHO square from where the tour normally starts. After a background into the history of the surrounding area Michelle indulged us with a quick little treat of mini croissants with fruity and chocolaty fillings. Procured from a local artisan bakery. It is fascinating to hear how an area once populated by aristocracy is now home to swanky bars, sex shops and Michelin starred restaurants. Immigrants from various European countries who migrated here like the Huegenots had a profund impact in the development of the area in the pre WWI era.

SOHO, London

SOHO, London

First stop was Princi – an Italian casual dining restaurant – brainchild of entrepreneur Alan You – who founded Wagamama , Hakkasan and Yauatacha.

Princi SOHO

Looking at the large amount of variety on counters behind glass panes got us all salivating and craving to dig our teeth into some food.

With our appetite whetted we walked through the by-lanes of SOHO sampling various types of world cuisines taking in the sights, sounds and more nuggets about the history of SOHO from Michelle. Michelle has lived in London long enough to give you a real insight into this dynamic neighborhood. While we spotted Grade II listed buildings, mock-Tudor style architecture and half timbered buildings oozing old world charm we also took in the unmissable sign boards for massage parlours and posters advertising ‘models’ .

SOHO, London

SOHO, London

Of all the different tastes that we experienced the most indulgent was fresh Oysters. Randall & Aubin – a quaint French restaurant complete with Victorian fittings and a humongous millor ball is a SOHO institution. As a special birthday treat for one of the guests on the tour that day Michelle had managed to get us some Champagne too.

Oysters at Randall & Aubin, SOHO, London

Oysters at Randall & Aubin, SOHO, London

Next we moved onto another fabulous seafood grill and oyster bar where we were introduced to ordering food using an ipad and very tuna ceviche. My past experience of indulging in ceviche at Uni in Victoria has made me a great fan and I genuinely adore the taste of Tuna which in my humble opinion tastes great raw as a ceviche and medium rare in a steak.

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When we set out on the tour little had I expected that in half a day we would be taking our taste buds on a world tour while discovering some hidden gems in an area buzzing with energy.

Walking Tour with Scratch London in SOHO

Walking Tour with Scratch London in SOHO

Of course all gastronomic adventures should end on a sweet note and Michelle does not disappoint. Not only did we sample hand crafted artisan chocolates from London’s leading chocolatier we also got a cool discount on our purchases. I managed to find some black truffle chocolates from Mast Brothers which had made their long journey from NY just a few hours ago.

Walking Tour with Scratch London in SOHO

Walking Tour with Scratch London in SOHO

As the danger of the modern property market and campaigns to ‘clean up’ SOHO are rapidly changing the look and feel of neighbourhood from grunge, quirky and a hub of adult entertainment, it is important to experience SOHO and all its varied foodie offerings in it’s original and natural setting. To do so with a knowledgeable guide like Michelle as part of a small group where you do not loose yourself and can actually make sensible conversation is a great pleasure.

Randall & Aubin, SOHO, London

Randall & Aubin, SOHO, London

For £61.50 per head a Scratch London tour will  include all ten food and drink destination on the route.

*With  thanks to Michelle  for inviting me on a gastronomic adventure through SOHO. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Mixed berries, finger millet and amaranth GF Pancakes with Co Yo

Coconut Yoghurt is something that will change your life forever, I think I have jumped on the cocnut yoghurt bandwagon a little late but better late than never right? I mean considering that coconut oil used for cooking and as a moisturizer and of course hair oil – I have done it all thanks to having lived in Mumbai. The most amazing taste of coconut oil in food I have eaten has got to be the banana chips sold at small tiny shops mostly to be found outside railway stations where raw banana slices are deep fried in a massive wok gingerly balanced on gas stove. It is a miracle how though these street food stall owners manage to function in tiny spaces in the busy bustling lanes adjoining stations – it is just something I shall never be able to figure out!

Ok back to coconut yoghurt – I wanted to use them in pancakes and also use a mix of flours to come up with a pancake that is not just fluffy but a bit crunchy too – a fusion of the dosa with the pancake really. This time I left out the Natvia sugar and upped the berries and let the natural fruit sugars do their magic.

Co Yo is a very creamy and delicious yoghurt made with coconut milk – it is 100% dairy free , 100% gluten free – and true to their tag line it really does taste like – heaven in a mouthful! An offshoot of Planet Organic these are now manufactured in Kent by Bethany and her husband Paul, read all about it here.

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Health Benefits of these pancakes:

  • Finger Millet prevents any spikes in blood sugar as it is naturally Low GI
  • No added sugars means it is refined sugar free and safe for diabetics
  • The use of amaranth which is GF and a great source of protine. It contains lysine which most grains lack.
  • High Fiber
  • The omission of semolina will make this recipe suitable for vegans too
  • 00% dairy free , 100% gluten free coconut yoghurt
  • Thick and creamy consistency from the coconut milk yoghurt
  • Great option for people aiming to loose weight as part of a balanced diet with exercise
  • A low carb and low fat recipe suitable for those looking to maintain low levels of bad cholestrol ( diabetes patients face a risk of increased cholesterol)

Amaranth is a glutenfree food and a source of complete protein—it contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most grains. High in fiber and a good source of magnesium and iron,Amaranth is a spectacular addition to your diet.

Serves: 1 – makes 6 mini pancakes – double up quantity for 2 people

Preparation and Cooking time :15 minutes + 20 minutes to rest the pancake mix

Ingredients:

  • 4 heaped tbsp finger millet flour / Nachni in Marathi / Ragi in Hindi
  • 1 tbsp Amaranth flour / Rajgira in Marathi and Hindi
  • 2 tbsp toasted semolina / toasted rava – OMIT for a vegan version
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 2 pots  CoYo – one plain and one with vanilla
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of blackberries
  • Handful of raspberries
  • Olive Oil
  • Water
Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Method:

  •  In a large bowl add the oats, amaranth flour, semolina. Then add both the pots of yoghurt and mix well. To make your pancakes GF omit the semolina.
  • Then chop the foods roughly and add into the mixture.
Pancake mix with CoYo

Pancake mix with CoYo

  • Dilute the mixture with water until you get a consistency good enough to pour into the pan and make a pancake.
  • Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the mixture to develop a good consistency. In my first attempt I did not add oats and used the mix immediately – the difference with oats and resting time is a fluffier pancake that has more bounce and kick ;)
  • Heat a pan on a medium flame and add 1 tsp of olive oil then spoon the mixture and flip when the pancake starts to seperate from the side using a wooden spatula.
  • For maximum effect stack the pancakes on a fancy plate, serve with a large dollop of CoYo and a handful of mixed berries.
Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

*With  thanks to CoYo  for sending over the samples. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.Kindly do not re-produce any images without my prior permission. Please consult your doctor of you have been diagnosed as a Diabetic before making any drastic changes to your diet. None of the information in this post is to be used for self diagnostic and / or medical purposes. Please consult your doctor and / or a trained dietitian for any existing health conditions.

Scandinavian Cookery Class with Västerbottensost Cheese

The mention of Scandinavian foods brings to mind fresh, light dishes and minimal use of ingredients or at least that was my perception and oh yes lots of fish. So an invitation to attend a Scandinavian Cookery Class, last fortnight was quite welcome. Courtesy of **Västerbottensost cheese – a premium hard cheese with a strong, aromatic flavour the dishes we were going to cook were all created using this cheese.

Scandinavian Feast wit  Västerbottensos

Scandinavian Feast wit Västerbottensos

Scandi blogger Bronte @Scandiwitchen – was on hand to introduce us to some of the most loved dishes of the region all made using – Västerbottensost , made to a 100 year old secret Swedishrecipe. This cheese has a unique taste and is favourite with the Swedish Royals, no wonder then that is considered the king of Swedish cheeses.

Västerbottensost Cheese

Västerbottensost Cheese

Interestingly this cheese can only be produced at the dairy in Burträsk in Västerbotten County, Sweden . Why? Well they have many theories including a rather bizzare one. It is believed that the unique taste of this fabulous cheese could be in calcareous soil in Burträsk which is thought to be the result of an ancient meteor strike.

But the most famous theory is the legend of a maid who many think is the secret behind Västerbottensost. In 1872 a young dairy maid Ulrika Eleonora Lindström was distracted from cheese making by a romantic interlude. When she returned fearing that the cheese she left unattended would have been ruined only to find out that a new unique new taste had developed a year later. The recipe she documented is the well preserved and closely guarded secret behind Västerbottensost.

How Västerbottensost  was created

How Västerbottensost was created

Västerbottensost carries the distinguished title, “By appointment to his Majesty the King of Sweden”. This versatile cheese is not just perfect for the cheese board, or as a garnish but equally great when used as an ingredient in a variety of recipes and cuisines.

Bronte shared some useful insights into how the cheese is to be sliced using a special cheese slicer. Remember the Swedish know their cheese really well and it is common knowledge that the slicing of cheese and using the right kind of slicer for your cheese –  is something that MUST be done right! Now if that made you nervous reading imagine what it did to us while we worked with the cheese ;) Thankfully there was plenty of wine kept handy to avoid any possibility of us not enjoying the session.

We worked our way through preparing a Swedish Västerbotten cheese pie, laden with copius amounts of cheese – of course, a raw courgette and rocket salad and the star dish Swedish meatballs and mash.

Raw Courgette Salad with Västerbottensost

Raw Courgette Salad with Västerbottensost

When the table was all set there was so much food and many beautiful and interesting sides. I was mostly in love with the cloud berries really while the rest of bloggers relished the pickles and Lingonberry jam.

Swedish Västerbottensost Cheesy cheese pie and salad

Swedish Västerbottensost Cheesy cheese pie and salad

Scandinavian Feast wit  Västerbottensost

Scandinavian Feast wit Västerbottensost

After that fabulous meal I left with lots of recipe ideas popping into my head. After all with a cheese this versatile its not difficult to think beyond the typical wine and cheese pairing. Of course there is always the danger that one may end up devouring most of the cheese before it ends up in your pan – just keep a good bottle of Red handy while you cook – either you will end up too tipsy to cook or you won’t have any cheese left to cook with ;)

The King of Swedish Cheese -  Västerbottensost

The King of Swedish Cheese – Västerbottensost

REAL Swedish Meatballs made well are quite different from the Danish and Norwegian ones and of course way, way…. wayyyy better than the ones you would eat in say Ikea.

REAL Swedish Meatballs recipe:

Serves: 4: makes around 30 small meatballs

Preparation time: 1 hour, including resting

Ingredients:

  • 150ml meat stock (chicken works well)
  • 30g porridge oats or breadcrumbs
  • 350g minced beef
  • 250g minced pork (min 10% fat)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. plain flour (or corn flour)
  • ½ medium onion, grated
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground all-spice
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper,
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce or soya
  • 2 tbsp. cream

 Preparation:

  1. Soak the oats/breadcrumbs in the chicken stock for a few minutes.
  2. Blend the ground meat together in a mixer with a good pinch of salt for a couple of minutes to ensure it’s thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the egg, flour and spices to another bowl and mix with the soaked oats and grated onion, then add this to the meat mixture. You’ll have a sticky, but mouldable, mixture. Leave the mixture to rest for 20-25 minutes before using for best result.
  4. Heat up a pan with a small knob of butter and a drop of oil and shape one small meatball. Fry it until done and then taste it. The quality of meat you use will alter the seasoning required and this is a great way to ensure your meatballs have good flavour. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and fry another meatball to test it until you get it just right.
Meatball Cooking

Meatball Cooking

  1. Shape the individual meatballs in your hands – it helps if your hands are damp, even wet. Each meatball should be around 2½ cm in diameter.
 Meatballs ready to be cooked

Meatballs ready to be cooked

  1. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan with a dash of oil and carefully add some of the meatballs – make sure there is plenty of room for you to swivel the pan round and help turn them so they get a uniform round shape and ensure they do not stick. Cooking time is usually around five minutes. Keep in a warm oven until needed.
  2. Serve with mashed potato, cream gravy and a spoonful of ‘stirred Lingonberry’ (or store bought Lingonberry jam).

Tip: You can get Lingonberry jam in most specialty stores and also some supermarkets.

**Västerbottensost can be found at Waitrose, Ocado and Selfridges,  approx at £19.90/ kg.

*I was invited to be a part of this Scandinavian Cooking Class courtesy of Västerbottensost cheese. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Old El Paso at London Victoria

This year I was part of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations at a fun Pop Up event held bang in the middle of the busy Victoria Station in London by OldEl Paso . A celebration of all things Mexican Cinco de Mayo means the 5th of May on Spanish and marks the triumphant victory of Mexican forces over a heavily armed attack by the French forces in the state of Puebla in 1862.

Old El Paso pop up causes a stir at London Victoria

Old El Paso pop up causes a stir at London Victoria

Though it was not a parade or an energetic dance troop entertaining passerby’s in colourful costumes – as is the way the celebrations happen in U.S.A and Mexico, the pop did manage to cause quite a stir! Chef Andy Bates cooked up some fresh and delicious fajitas for us and pleasantly surprised commuters using Old El Paso. With a few fresh ingredients in tow, he cooked up a delicious treat in minutes.

To spatchcock the chicken, the spine was removed. Then Andy  marinated a whole chicken with Old El Paso roasted tomato and pepper fajita seasoning mix. The best part was though the super soft Old El Paso flour tortillas into which it was wrapped with lettuce some , beans, gucamole and salsa on top.

Chef Andy Bates preparing Spatchcock Roast Chicken with a Mexican style rub

Chef Andy Bates preparing Spatchcock Roast Chicken with a Mexican style rub

You can check of some cool videos of Chef Andy Bates cooking up Mexican meals with Old El Paso ingredients on the Food Network UK website.

Old El Paso  makes kits that you can buy and make delicious meals in minutes but did you know that you can buy various ingredients to create something special on your own too? I particularly like the squeezy chunky guacamole , canned refried beans and bottled sliced red and green jalapenos.

Old El Paso Ingredients

Old El Paso Ingredients

Whatever it is you are after tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, whether you want to fix a tasty side dish or rustle up a big main meal for friends there are many products in their arsenal that could help you create a feast in minutes.

So if it’s the soft and toasty, oven baked tortillas that are calling out to you, why not combine then with some chunky salsa, and twice cooked, crunchy nachips today? Or if you want tangy prawns then why not make it #fajitafriday with a little recipe inspiration from Old El Paso? Find the recipe here

Old el Paso Fajita Friday

Old el Paso Fajita Friday

Whatever Mexican feast you cook up, don’t forget to stock up your larder with some handy Old El Paso ingredients. I am off to make some Ol El Paso Mexican Taco’s now – buh -bye!

*With  thanks to Old El Paso U.K for inviting me. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Roasted mini Romanesque cauliflower with dukkah yoghurt dip

I do hope some of you may recollect me mentioning that Cauliflower is one of my beloved vegetables, and after I found mini cauliflower and mini Romanesque cauliflowers it was love at first sight, in my mind, they run rings around even the baby courgettes and baby leeks! I mean they look like beautiful little green diamonds, such a beautiful shape, almost too pretty to be eaten!

Mini Cauliflower and Romasque  Cauliflowers

Mini Cauliflower and Romasque Cauliflowers

I just had to bring these beauties home and rustle up something tasty and easy with them. I have written earlier about the many health benefits of cauliflowers and how they are an aid to weight loss. But here are some fun facts for you:

Every 100gm of cauliflower i.e 1 cup has:

  • 25 calories
  • Total Carbs only 5 grams
  • Total Fat 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin C – 77%
  • Vitamin K – 20%

I have been obsessing with the idea of whole roasted Cauliflower and love this recipe – Whole Roast Cauliflower and today I was craving something different for tea. Did not want to load on excess and unwanted calories and wasn’t interested in deep fried stuff at all.

So I tweaked the original recipe, and used fragrant baharat, a fabulous Middle Eastern with dried rose petals and hints of smoked paprika for a kick and roasted cumin. This simple snack makes for a perfect tea time treat especially if like me you are craving cauliflower bhajji/fritters ( bhajji in Marathi is a deep fried vegetable fritter coated in spiced besan ie. chickpea flour)

I decided to dry roast two cauliflowers and coat two on the four mini cauliflowers just to see how the taste varies when coated with a greek yoghurt marinade.

Ingredients

  • 2 baby cauliflowers
  • 2 baby Romanesco broccoli or the Romanesque cauliflower
  • 3 large heaped tablespoons Greek yoghurt
  • 3.5 tsp baharat
  • 2 tsp dukkah

Method

  • In a small bowl add 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt and  and add and mix well 2 tsp baharat
  • Pick one each of the baby cauliflower and the baby Romanesco broccoli or the Romanesque cauliflower and coat it completely with the seasoned yoghurt marinade.
  • Place them onto a baking tray.
  • Then take the remaining baharat in another dry small bowl and coat the other 2 cauliflowers thoroughly.
Mini Cauliflower and Romasque  Cauliflowers marinated

Mini Cauliflower and Romasque Cauliflowers marinated

  • Bake in a preheated oven for  20 minutes at 180° C
  • Make a quick dip with the remaining yoghurt topped with dukkah
Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

  • Serve with hot Turkish tea for a Mediterranean Treat.
Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

 

 

 

 

Whole Sea Bass steamed with a Rainbow side salad

A delicious and healthy steamed fish recipe perfect for stay in #FishFriday night dinner or a lovely brunch on a lazy afternoon. The accompanying salad is colourful and full of fresh veggies that’s why I choose to call it a Rainbow Salad.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sea bass scaled and gutted
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 sprigs of Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Chives
  • Garlic sea salt
  • Red Chilli powder

Whole Sea Bass

For the steamed veggies on the side

  • 2 small carrots per person
  • Handful of green peas person

For the Rainbow Side Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh pepper (capsicum)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/2 a courgette
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tbsp Red wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Olive Oil

Beautiful whole Sea Bass seasoned

Method:

To steam the fish

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C 
  • Wash the fish and place on the foil.
  • Stuff the lemon wedges inside the fish along with the Chives, rosemary and thyme.
  • Sprinkle generously with sea salt, red chilli powder and a drizzle of olive oil
  • Wrap the fish in the foil parcel and cook in the oven until it has cooked through, should take about 20-25 minutes.
  • Steam the veggies in a steamer.

To make the Rainbow Salad:

  • Chop all the vegetables into tiny bite sized cubes.
  • Place chopped veggies in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil and add the red wine vinegar.
  • Season well with sea salt and add a generous sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Mix well

To Serve

  • Plate a portion of the fish and serve the steamed carrots and peas on the side.
  • Serve a generous helping of the crunchy veggies salad.

Whole steamed sea bass with a Rainbow salad

Here are some other fabulous recipes to try if you are cooking sea bass: