Dinner at The Brasserie , Tower Guoman – a review

On the day of the Mens Singles Final when Djokovic won  the match against Roger Federer ,I had an invite to go dine with a few fellow bloggers at The Brasserie at the Tower Guoman. I must admit the match was so engaging that I was glued to the tv and only in the game that I was just to nervous to watch so I dragged myself out and kept pestering a dear friend of mine in whatsapp till she gave me updates of almost every move on the court …. I was hoping that Djokovic would win and also hoping that the match would end before I hopped onto the tube and lost network… Lets just say that all invisible divine forces were with Djokovic ( and me )that day coupled with his awesome performance, just as I was about to get into the tube… there it was..,… message I was hoping to see on whatsapp…. ‘He won’… which led to a very comical impromptu gig on the staircase by me watched by bemused passers by…heck a good win deserves a dance ..at least ! Bonus points to all those who also watched this match to oogle at Boris Becker …teehee

After that I needed a refreshing drink and just as I was settling in the beautiful area  just outside the Guoman, an open air bar  and siping my cocktail gazing up the Tower Bridge was perfect. Chilled Prosecco, Cocktails and Mocktails flowed while we chatted up with the manager who also had dinner with us later .Meeting my friends after Food Blogger Connect was fun and camera lens choices, food photography ,the Wimbledon final results and the stunning view dominated our conversation. Before long the rain decided to play spoil sport and we were ushered inside to our huge table at The Brasserie.

I took the seat the far end of the end but the view from any where inside is just as brilliant , it’s the first time I was so close to the Tower Bridge and you can be guaranteed you will have the best seats in town at The Brasserie with superb views of Butlers wharf thrown in.

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The table was neatly laid out with our special menu for the evening there and fresh bread , warm and just out of the oven with 3 different dips arrived.

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Our rustic bread selection with truffle oil and olive oil.

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To go with our Rustic Bread selection we had the smoked paprika dip – the bright orange one and my fav of the 3, one with chives in the middle and a plain one which I found a tad too salty.

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I choose to have the Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart to start off my meal with – it sounded very appetising – Tomato olive salsa,balsamic reduction,pine nut,sekura cress – hummm yes please.

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The thin crisp  pastry base was not one bit soggy or eggy, the grilled Manchego cheese ( a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the manchega breed) tasted great in combination with summery veggies like asparagus and grilled peppers and the salsa was very good ,I loved the taste of the olives and hints of fennel, the cress made the whole dish so fresh not just to look at but to taste too.

The Head chef Kamaldeep Singh (left) and his colleague decided to take us through the process of how the new menu was created , the origin of ingredients and basically make us hungry for more!

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Madeleine seated next to me choose the other option as her first course :Peppercorn Cured Beef Carpaccio – Manchego cheese , home cured tomatoes,charred artichokes,mizuna and micro cress. I was avoiding red meat that so was very happy to photograph her dish and ask how it tasted but equally satisfied with my light tart.

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The carpaccio was hammered thin and artichokes placed over – it looked great, to find out in her Madeleine’s own words what she thought of her dish go check out  her review here.Very happy with my first course, I expected the second course to deliver and impress me a bit more. Must say my Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea Bass served with diver scallop,caper crushed potatoes,mixed bean salsa and ‘sauce vierge’  did not fail to do so. It looked amazing and I had to photograph it from various angles – we food bloggers!

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But  this was simply delicious and worthy of praise for more reasons than one – made using farmed sea bass responsibly sourced scallops, a lighter than most sauces that usually accompany a fish main the scallop sat one a delicious pea puree and cream base.

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The mixed bean salsa tasted great with the morish caper crushed potato, the cress balancing off the dish in a subtle way.Nayna my vegetarian food blogger friend chose to have the Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli made with heirloom tomato salsa and served with freshly made basil cream sauce , to read her views go onto her blog here.Our first wine of the evening accompanied the first course , Vidal sauvignon blanc from New Zealand , aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and guava lead into a palate that exudes tropical and passion fruit flavours.

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After that very satisfying sea food dish ,we moved onto the next course , I stayed away from red meat again and the Garden pea,mint and pecorino cheese risotto was fabulous for me , I love my rice and many a times I really need some to complete my meal and make it me feel full, maybe a psychological thing but coming from the coastal side of western India ,fish curry and rice is our most staple everyday far.One of the staff members asked me where I was from and when I said Mumbai, pat came the next question which I was sort of expecting – was the sea bass as good as the Pomfret, well no! For me pomfret is the king of  all fishes on this planet – but its a matter of what taste one has grown up with and our method of cooking is also so very different. But yes Sea Bass , Salmon and Basa are my favorite buys,best eaten fresh on the day of purchase ,hate frozen fish,tastes muddy and weird in curries especially.

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The  pecorino cheese added a subtle tangy taste to this very morish and filling risotto, its easy to get this dish so wrong because often the seemingly easier to make dishes are the toughest to produce to perfection . I am a great fan of the risotto that my elder sister hubby makes , he is a trained chef but now a very busy and senior marketing head honcho so it’s very rarely that we meet and even more rarely that I get to eat the risotto he makes. Ah sweet nostalgic family moments, only truly good food can bring on such an attack for me.. 🙂

By now the light had really faded and my risotto photo and all that follow look terrible!

I must admit Madeleine was very kind and allowed me to have a taste of burnt celeriac which I loved with some of the calvados sauce I scooped it off her plate with from her Confit of Gloucestershire Pork Belly. She enjoyed  my cheesy risotto too.

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The 14 hour low heat cooked pork belly looked so very appetising, the burnt celeriac adding to the earthiness of this dish,the cinnamon compliments the pork  and the savoy cabbage and compressed apple give it a tart almost tangy twist on the side. This was washed down with several glasses of a full bodied Chilean Merlot – Errazuriz , almost opulent with notes of berry and cassis fruit.

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It’s at this point that I slipped into blissful food coma and saw this beautiful rainbow emerge right in front of my eyes… the photo does no justice to the what we actually saw…

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That is us at the table – L- R – Bintu who blogs at Recipes from a pantry, Nicki who blogs at Baking Beardy,seated opposite her is Fiona who writes an award-winning blog – London Unattached,Nayna – who blogs at  Simply Sensational Food her other blog is Citrus ,Spice and all things Nice, and the lovely Madeline who blogs at Kitchen Journeys and documents heart healthy recipes at From the Healthy Heart.

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Was too full by now and the dessert platter served with a large shot of margarita in shot glass lined by sugar , managed to cut the sweet taste that was bound to settle on the palate after cheesecake ,a panna cotta that failed to impress because I was expecting the usual wobble and a refreshing pista flavoured ice cream  – my fav from the selection.

As we strolled out for an impromptu photo session and gazed happily at the beautiful Tower Bridge,I couldn’t help but wonder that though the exterior of  the Tower Guoman leaves one wanting the view of two world Heritage Sites – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London certainly makes up for it!A massive refurbishment project is on the cards too.A few more plus points include a convenient location within easy reach of the financial district, Canary Wharf, the Excel Centre, London City Airport, historic Greenwich, the West End and Westfield Shopping Centre. Also the newly launched menu at The Brasserie definitely warrants a visit. The menu is bold and one where the chefs have really gone the extra mile to hope that if they try ambitiously to achieve the Zero Mile Ingredient mark and grow their own herbs fresh on the terrace garden which is to come alive very soon!

The staff was very polite, genuinely attentive and ensured we had a great evening.

*With  thanks to The Tower Guoman for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Sweetcorn and Paneer Bhaji/Sabzi

In March I had rushed to be by my mothers side when her recovery post a double knee replacement surgery which was supposed to give her a new lease on life went badly wrong.

She was put on a very strict diet and asked to avoid more food stuff than she could eat, besides the heat in Pune was killing and the numerous medicines made her terribly hungry and moody. Not to mention the times when she was in so much pain I regularly went in the room next door and sobbed my guts out into a pillow…

On one of the better days when she really wanted to eat something tasty and refused all the options I gave her my maushi (that’s we call mum’s sister in Marathi language – my mother tongue) saved the day by making her this simple yet delicious vegetable which was packed with flavour in-spite of having on onion,no garlic and no tomatoes which mum was not allowed at all…If you have someone at home who is being given blood thinner medicines to avoid blood clots you may be asked to avoid foods that contain Vitamin K which is a natural blood coagulant.

Since this was only for one person we took a handful of each ingredient and used spices as we thought appropriate to suit her taste buds dead with all those medicines. Please feel free to amp up the spice if you wish.

Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a main

Preparation of veggies and Cooking Time:45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower florets 150 gm
  • sweet corn 50 gm
  • carrots chopped into tiny cubes 50 gm
  • green peas 50 gm
  • Paneer cubes/Cottage Cheese 50 gm
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt as per taste
  • a pinch of red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin and coriander powder mix
  • a small pinch of ground clove powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Finely chopped fresh green coriander leaves -just enough to garnish.

Method:

  • In a pan take 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and sautee the bay leaves, clove powder and cumin and coriander powder for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the sweet corn and cook for about 3 minutes with spritz of water on a very low flame with lid to allow the corn to cook well.
  • Add the chopped carrot cubes and add water and cover an allow to steam for 2 -3 minutes on a low flame.
  • Reason for cooking the sweetcorn first and then the carrots is that they will take longer to cook than the cauliflower and peas which will become mush in the vegetable if all these are added at once. To save time you could used boiled sweetcorn and carrot. Avoid canned and ready to eat variety.
  • When carrots are almost cooked add the cauliflower florets ,green peas and season with the turmeric and red chilli powder and salt.Mix Well.
  • Add very little water just enough to allow the veggies to cook well.

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  • When they are almost cooked after not more than 5- 8 minutes , add the soft paneer cubes and mix well and serve hot with a chapati fresh off the pan.
  • Garnish with a tiny bit of fresh coriander leaves finely chopped.Ensure they are washed thoroughly to ensure no muddy bits are hiding between the delicate leaves.

Needless to say aai loved the bhaji and after almost 15 days of bland food she was really upbeat. Soon after she really began to recover at a desirable pace and was coming up with many of her own ideas to make delicious food with less oil, minimal spices and without any tomato. Cheers to you aai , you are a very brave person to have come out of such a bad health situation only a few months ago, to a point where you are 100% independent and cheerful as ever.God bless all those that stood by us and the few special people who came to help me in the hour of need, no questions asked, you know I love you people tons right ?:)

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Disclaimer: Please note this is a true account of what my mum had to eat with her many food restrictions and is not meant to be treated as a medical advice for anyone following a diet where they have been asked to stay off Vit K .Please always consult your doctor before eating anything that is out of the ordinary for your condition.

Hot and Spicy Lamb chops in Apple sauce

We all crave comfort food and at times the need is so great nothing else will do. Since I have been making variations of  rice dishes in the past few days I didn’t want to do anymore rice but wanted a light yet rich in taste and spicy one pot meal for dinner.

I also wanted to cook a savoury dish with red meat and use apples as an ingredient to enter the recipe competition for the best apple recipe hosted by Gourmandize Uk and Ireland and making a sweet preparation was not what I wanted at all.

Still taking a leaf from the sweet preparations from apple , I think cinnamon and apple go very well with each other. It’s these well paired fellas that can spice up even the most drab foods.

So I decided to get some lean lamb shanks and marinate them overnight in a hot Indian marinade.

I have tried to tone down the amount of spice here so as to cater to taste buds that don’t take kindly to overpowering spices and yes ”heat” in food shouldn’t mask the other subtle flavours should it? But if your palate is used to heat feel free to AMP you the volume 🙂 I have mentioned by how much the heat can go in the ingredient list to stay with acceptable levels of taste.

Serves:2

For the marinade:

  • 1 green chilli hot (2 green chillies if you handle spice well)
  • 1/2 a bunch of coriander
  • salt to taste
  • red chilli  powder 1 heaped tsp (2 -3 heaped tsp if you can handle the heat!)
  • freshly ground black pepper to dust onto the lamp chops

Wash and clean the lamb chops and marinate for atleast 2 hours, preferably overnight with salt,red chilli powder,black pepper freshly ground and a puree of half a bunch of coriander and one green chilli. Smear the chops well and cover the dish with plastic and leave in the fridge overnight for the flavours to really sink into the meat.

For the sauce

  • 2 cinnamon rolls, the light brown tightly curled ones, not the thick bark variety – more on the difference between the two in a different blog post!
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 apple sweet
  • half a juicy tomato
  • half a bunch of coriander
  • 1/2 red onion sliced lengthwise
  • 2 bunches of spring onions finely chopped

Method:

  • In a saucepan add 2 large tbsp of sunflower oil or vegetable oil, saute’ the finely chopped spring onions,red onion chopped lengthwise with the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cloves till the red onion turns pink and reduces.
  • Now add the half an apple chopped into bite sized chunks.
  • Saute’ on a low flame for about 1 min and then add a puree of half a bunch or coriander,half a tomato and half an apple.
  • Ensure you do not waste any of the purée and scoop out every last precious drop from the mixer by adding water and pour all of this into the saucepan,stir continuously and as it begins to bubble add the marinated lamb chops.
  • The tomato in the puree and the apple in the puree and the bits in the saucepan should all work to now offset the otherwise hot spices – red chilli powder,black pepper and cloves.

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  • Cook on a low flame for 25-30 minutes or until the lamb chops are cooked well,add just enough water to ensure the sauce is not going dry as we want a thick rich gravy and open the lid in between and give the whole thing a stir to ensure it does not go dry or stick to the saucepan.
  • You now have the most tender and well cooked lamb chops with a thick, well flavoured tasty green sauce.I loved biting into the bits of apple now then which had gone soft and yum during the process of cooking , what an absolute delight!

Serve with warm bread, better still smear some butter and top it off with some finely diced bits of garlic ,pop it in a pre-heated for about 5 minutes and it’s just so good to polish off that thick sauce after you have savoured the lamb ummm !

What I love about this dish is that the recipe is 100% original, it was deeply satisfying experimenting with flavours and reaching a successful outcome and because I cooked it for my birthday lunch for hubs n me it was rather special too. The powerful spice was beautifully balanced by the sweet apple and as they cooked with the meat they lent a unique richness of flavour. It is wonderful to see how we can marry polar opposites in flavours and create something unexpectedly delightful – an absolute pleasure for the taste buds.

Now all I need is a whole lot of luck to win the very coveted prize of a Kenwood Stand Mixer!

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Well the contest is now done, though I didn’t win * sad face* am happy I made something yummy and original 🙂

Spicy Grilled Chicken Bites With a Cooling Avocado Dip

With an obvious change in the weather, we all are living in fear that this year’s glorious summer is coming to an end. I was lucky enough to get a few invites to barbecue parties in the past few months and had my share of some really divine meats and grills and some rather lumpy or burnt bits too!!!

Lucky because I live in a tiny rented flat with a small open plan kitchen. I try all sorts of tricks to fool myself into thinking that I am cooking in the fresh open outdoors. One of my favourite tricks to fool myself and get some tasty tidbits on my plate is by using a grid pan and earthy spices with smoked sea salt, delicious dips and of course washing these down with chilled beer.

Since I always seem to have some basic purees and pastes frozen and hiding in some corner of my tiny freezer I try and use them up quickly to ensure I always have place for some frozen desserts. One such favourite spicy green paste is made with one medium sized bunch of fresh coriander and 2 bright green chillies. Coriander is expensive and a regular feature in my kitchen so I try and freeze it after chopping it fine or better still making this paste and just adding large spoons to curries which gives them an instant face lift!

For a spicy twist on grilled chicken I decided to make these easy to pick and pop in the mouth pieces of chunky chicken making it a more fun way to share your food on the table. I love that it’s easy to just throw things on the pan and even the dip is a no fuss 3 step recipe which is a brilliant companion to the heat of the chillies on the chicken. The fact that the dip has zero oil is a big bonus.

You can make the coriander paste and store it in the freezer and even with the dip recycle it as a quick spread on sandwiches and use up any leftover meats the next day for a packed lunch. So convenient, especially on a Monday morning after a lazy weekend!

Placing the chicken on chunky cabbage leaves smeared with some mustard paste is another inexpensive alternative to posh salad leaves and helps finish of the last of that quarter portion of cabbage which lies neglected in your veggie tray and faces the threat of going into the bin soggy and spoilt, not a pleasant thought at all.

Guaranteed to tickle your taste buds this original recipe from my tiny kitchen is a food adventure in itself. Here’s how you can make this quick grilled chicken in easy steps:

Spicy grilled chicken bites with cooling avocado dip

(Serves: 4, Cooking Time: including 40 mins for marination is 1 hour):

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 large tbsp coriander and green chilli paste (proportion of 1 bunch of coriander with 2 green chillies)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • 1 tsp mustard paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh cabbage washed
  • ¼ medium sized red onion cut lengthwise
  • Toothpicks with little flags

For the dip

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 stalk fennel with few leaves
  • ½ medium sized red onion finely chopped
  • Himalayan pink salt for seasoning

Method:

Marinate the chicken breasts with coriander and green chilli paste, salt as per taste and 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic. Make small cuts on the chicken breasts with a knife and rub in the marinade. Add one tbsp oil to this mixture allowing the garlic to marry with the coriander and chilli paste. Marinate for 40 minutes

Cutting the chicken into thick cut style bites

On a grid pan spritz enough oil to coat the pan. Pan fry the breasts turning the sides over when they begin to change colour. When both sides appear to have changed colour remove the chicken breasts on a chopping board and let them cool for a while.

Meanwhile, smear the cabbage leaves with a small amount of mustard paste and place on a wooden board which will be used to serve the dish.

Now prepare the dip – Halve the avocados and scoop out the fleshy part. Take the thin green stalk and tender leaves of the fennel and put them together through a blender to make a coarse paste. Chop ½ a red onion fine and to the avocado and fennel paste, season some Himalayan salt. The dip is now ready.

Pan Grill red onion ,garlic and red chilli flakes close up shot

Now get back to cooking the chicken. In the same grid pan add a 1 ½ tbsp oil with some red onion cut lengthwise and sauté for a while for a caramelise finish. Now cut the pieces of the chicken into “thick cut home-made potato-chip” like sizes and place them on the grid pan along with the onions.

Chicken on pan being grilled with the spices

Sprinkle the red chilli flakes .Cook on low flame till done and flip over using tongs, a bit of charring is allowed to add more flavour. Place the chicken strips with toothpicks on the fresh cabbage leaves in a flat plate.

The chunky avocado and red onion dip will offset the grilled chicken bites.

close up with all elements of display

Serve with garlic bread on the side and some chilled drinks and soak up all the sun you can before the leaves turn auburn.

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This was my first post for the Great British Chefs community and can be found here

Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice

The first time I ate jerk Chick was at a pop up Caribbean food stall near Haymarket Station, it was served with some tasty rice with red kidney beans and the most deliciously sweet plantain. Ever since I have been waiting to experiment and make this spicy chicken at home. Please resist the temptation of using a jerk sauce out of a bottle, it’s almost a crime because in the recipe I used from the BBC Good Food guide,it makes preparing the marinade a thing of joy. Not only will you learn how each ingredient lends its individual flavour but you van learn how to adjust the ”heat” in this amazing marinade. An advance warning, if you have sensitive skin PLEASE use gloves to marinate the chicken as Scotch Bonnet peppers are PACKED with heat. Ensure you THOROUGHLY wash your hands after you handle these ”hot babies” too! Humm now for the recipe, it’s essentially what was in the original but of course I have added my own touches and I think they make quite an impact 🙂 so read on folks. Prep Time: 45 minutes. Plus overnight marination for chicken in marinade Ingredients for Jerk Chicken:

  • 12 chicken thighs with bone
  • 1 big gralic sliced through the middle to go in the oven
  • 2 lemons halved to go in the baking tray
  • 1 pair of clean gloves if you have sensitive skin – to marinate the chicken

For the Jerk marinade:

  • 4 Garlic Cloves de-skinned
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 bunch fresh spring onion roughly chopped
  • 1 piece ginger size that fits inside your closed fist, washed,skinned and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme – I had none so I used 1 tbsp of Mixed Italian herb powder
  • 3 scotch bonnet chillies, de-seeded if you cannot handle very spicy
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oil – I used sunflower
  • 4 heaped tbsp brown sugar – I used dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice powder
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method

  • Blitz all the ingredients for the marinade in the mixer/food processor/blender and make a thick paste, do not add water as far as possible to ensure a thick puree like grainy paste
  • wash and dekin the chicken thighs and make cuts using a knife
  • Then generously apply the marinade paste all over rubbing into the cuts made to ensure the flavour really seaps into the chicken.
  • Marinate overnight in the fridge.Cover vessel with cling film.
  • Keep about 2 tbsp marinade aside for adding in the baking tray.
  • When you are ready to prepare the chicken pre-heat the oven to 180 – 200 C , I have a fan oven.
  • Prepare the baking tray by greasing with some oil ,place the marinated chicken pieces and surround them with the lime slices and place the garlic halved.
  • Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes or until juices run clear.
  • When the chicken is in the oven start with the rice

Ingredients for the Coconut Rice with Peas:

  • 200g Basmati Rice
  • 400g Coconut Milk can
  • 1 bunch fresh spirng onion finely chopped
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 large cloves of garlic skinned and chopped very fine
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 200g green peas

Method:

  • Wash the Basmati rice under cold running tap water
  • In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the washed rice and coconut milk, chopped spring onions,thyme,garlic chopped and all spice
  • Add 300ml water ,mix and add salt to season.
  • Cook with lid on a medium flame till water begins to boil
  • Stir with a wooden spatula and then add the green peas
  • Reduce flame and do not cover completely, leave a bit of space for the steam to pass.
  • Cook until done.

Jerk Chicken & Coconut Rice with Peas

All though the recipe I followed uses red kidney beans since I was already using them in my Caribbean Sweet Mini Pepper Salad , I choose green peas for my Coconut Rice. I made my own home made replacement for allspice powder too , it’s very easy and I intend to make it fresh each time I need instead of the store bought one, simply because its so quick and fun to make! Actually allspice is a spice by itself but it tastes similar to a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pepper. According to an article I found about allspice on About.com: ”Allspice is a spice made from the dried berries of a plant known as Pimenta dioica. A member of the pimento family, allspice is used in Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cuisines, among others.  The flavor of allspice is similar to . Allspice can be used to flavor desserts as well as savory dishes.  Allspice can be used in ground form or whole. Whole allspice berries are sometimes used in pickling and brining.

Also Known As:

  • Jamaican pepper
  • Newspice ”

My Home made version of all-Spice Powder recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 heaped tbsp Cinnamon powder or if you have a cinnamon stick take one abt the half as tall as your thumb.
  • 1 small tbsp pepper powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp of cloves
  • 1 full nutmeg grated

Method:

  • In a pestle and mortar mix the ingredients and grate the nutmeg into it.
  • Then smash together to makes a grainy powder.
  • Some bits of the clove you may not be able to grind fine, I wouldn’t worry about it unless you want a fine powder then the smallest attachment on your mixer. I have an Indian mixer which I use for my coconut chutneys and it has 3 jars I used the one with 3 blades .Or else just use the pestle and mortar it should work.
  • Store away the remaining home made allspice replacement powder in a tiny air tight container.

A note about the brown sugar vs. dark muscovado sugar

Dark Muscovado sugar is the unrefined form of brown sugar ,its stickier ,heavier,has a longer shelf life than refined sugars and adds a more intense flavour to marinades and since it is stable at high temperatures is great for baking.If you do not have brown sugar its ok to replace it with dark Muscovado sugar. Although as the water content dark muscovado holds is higher one should accordingly taper the use of water in the recipe.

Brown sugar is white sugar and molasses and hence the colour and soft texture. It has the light and dark brown sugar varieties and the lighter it is the milder the flavour.

Muscovado,White & Light Brown Sugar

I am linking this post to the Flavours of the Caribbean event, run by Simply.Food and guest hosted by The Spicy Pear.

Love Salmon, Love Easy Meals!

This is probably my simplest ,fastest and yet very tasty AND healthy meal option. All you need is 2 slices of salmon some salad leaves and a hotch potch collection of any thing that can yumm up a salad! Few Minutes in the oven and hey Presto ! a healthy meal is ready to tuck in.

What I love about the after feel of this kind of a lunch or dinner is that it leaves me full and satiated and not feeling bloaty or heavy or drowsy for that matter!

So my ingredient list goes like this , but honestly for the salad just use any combination of leafy stuff and spices that you have in your fridge and cupboard and slam them together to make your own accompaniment!

  1. 2 slices of salmon fresh
  2. 2 thick slices of lime to wedge into the fish and a large slice to splash over the salad.
  3. one spoon olive oil
  4. Mixed italian herbs to season the fish – better if you have fresh herbs
  5. crushed black pepper and rock salt to sprinkle
  6. some capers for seasoning
  7. Salad leaves of your liking I use the mix leaves packets from the supermarket – rocket,spinach,lettuce mixed with some peppers and red onion sliced  for some colour, crunch and taste.
  8. Cherry Tomatoes
  9. A cheese slice – anything that you fancy
  10. Some onion flakes to dust over the salad

This meal takes lesser time to cook than it took me to write this blog post 🙂

Method:

  1. place the salom piece on a foil, lightly drizzle olive oil , wedge a slice of lime in between and sprinkle sea salt and crcaked black pepper and a generous sprinkle of italian herbs, mine came out of a bottle.
  2. Give the Salmon just enough time in the oven to cook, fish cooks fairly fast and these 2 slices took less that 7 minutes in a pre heated oven.
  3. Once done serve the salmon alongside a generous helping of salad leaves and juicy cherry tomatoes,toss a few capers , tear some cheese to season, give another drizzle of olive oil and a big squeeze  of lime ,finally add some crispy fried onion bits, finish off with sea salt.
  4. Dig in and feel full inside and light and skippity on a full stomach.

P.S: of the time you save when you choose this light, easy and quick dish , grab that novel you have been waiting to get done with enjoy a relaxed afternoon curled up on the sofa…I did…:)

The salmon is ready for the ovenThe salad is all done!Dig into crunchy wholesome goodness and juicy fish

Vintage Frittata recipe inspired by ”Angel”

Well as my previous blog post mentioned I am quite besotted with my latest cookbook – The Vintage Tea Party by Angel. She is such a talented lady and anyone with orange hair,a vivid imagination, a vast collection of Vintage odds and ends and a great cook to top is all is my kind of hero!

So I first ate a Frittata at my workplace where it was served during tea time,anything remotely associated with eggs and I simply must try it, I could live on fried eggs ,omelettes ,scrambled eggs and yes Frittatas!

I surfed up info about the origin of Frittata because that’s the beauty of food and recipes, they start from someplace and then suddenly are popular world cuisine and everyone’s making their own versions. Some food blogs have really well researched posts about the Frittata and I do recommend reading them:

http://www.delallo.com/articles/la-frittata-egg-dish-endless-possibilities

http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2008/12/i-have-change-and-treat-for-you-today.html

http://www.thefoodadvicecentre.co.uk/reference/recipes/frittata/

Wikipedia defines a Frittata as : The Italian word frittata derives from fritto, the past participle of “to fry” (friggere),[1] and was originally a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, anywhere on the spectrum from fried egg, through conventional omelette, to an Italian version of the Spanish tortilla de patatas, made with fried potato. Outside Italy, frittata was seen as equivalent to “omelette” until at least the mid-1950s.

Well,Angel’s recipe is an antithesis to this logic,why? well because it’s OVEN BAKED not fried and secondly is rather basic yet tasty,her recipe recommends using flower petals to decorate and also cutting it into shapes to make it more visually delightful and intriguing. Ofcourse what I’ve cooked isn’t a patch on the beautiful Angel’s creation but it’s a sort of a tribute to her, in a demi god,fan like behaviour sort of a way…!!

By all means if any one of you does create one anything close to Angel’s original, please do share your feedback and pictures !

I have scaled down the ingredients for 2 people and added a few twists here and there for experimental touches of my own!

Ingredient list to whip up a mean frittata- Vintage and all that 🙂 remember to roll up ur hair in a bun while making it and think Vintage :),Angel style !

  1. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  2. Half a white onion sliced
  3. 1 Courgette  finely sliced into half-moon slice
  4. 5 large free range eggs
  5. Salt
  6. cracked black pepper
  7. Goats cheese crumbled

Method

  1. Pre Heat the oven to 220° C /Fan 200° C/ Gas mark 7. Line a baking tin with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Heat oil in a small frying pan and fry the onions until soft for about 2 minutes, stir in the chopped courgette bits,fry on a higher flame for about 4 minutes till it’s goldenish. Angel advises not stirring or tossing this too much in her book and I do agree.
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl,season with salt and add the onion and courgette mixture.

4. Crumble some goats cheese and  then transfer above mixture to a baking tin of your choice, I simply used my small cake tin. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack and serve hot.Season with cracked black pepper sprinkled on top.

I think this makes for a really delicious and filling tea time snack and is really easy to make when time is a constraint,which is almost always in our busy lives.

Of course,Angel’s recipe differs and requires some more cooking as there is cheese and is seasoned with edible gerbera petals, I will try it once am able to lay my hands on those delicate beauties.

To check out Angel’s website visit the following link http://www.angeladoree.co.uk/

Trust if me if you already haven’t , her books are a MUST HAVE in everyone’s personal collection of recipe books, I for one am totally smitten!

Angel Hair Pasta and Prawns in Thai Red Curry and white wine sauce

I loved the name of this recipe by Chef Delia and hubby was also so excited about eating that we went to supermarket that she endorses and got us some really nice White Cooking wine and vermicelli pasta which I used as ”Angel Hair”. The other thing about this recipe that I found appealing was that it was easy to make, serves 2 as a main meal if prepared with suggested quantities and is a really satisfying dish to both cook and eat!

Why is it called Angel Hair ? Capellini Pasta literally means Angel Hair – because this pasta is the finest, thinnest… and when boiled it opens up and is so delicate , almost like how an Angel’s hair would be! Since it is a very light pasta it pairs well with sea food and is sold in nest like shapes that open up into silky strands on boiling …ummm perfect !

Ok my cheat sheet for this recipe , I used Thai red curry paste from a bottle but you can make your own too.As with other types of pasta, it is generally cooked until it is al dente, or firm to the teeth.

I love this angel hair pasta as it cooks really fast and the sauces are taken up so well by the strands.

Serves:2

Marination Time: 4 hours Preparation Time: 15 Minutes Cooking Time:25 Minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 175gm Angel Hair Pasta.
  2. 2 packets of prawns.
  3. 2 tablespoons light olive oil.
  4. 4 large tablespoons Thai Red Curry Past.
  5. 4- 5 large garlic cloves skinned and very finely sliced.I love the skins so I kept them, they add a diferent twist and crackle that I cannot resist!,
  6. 2 large tomatoes skinned,de-seeded and chopped.This was the first time in my life I skinned tomatoes and must say it was fun 🙂
  7. Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  8. 200ml dry white wine
  9. For the garnish – 3 tablespoons fresh coriander finely chopped,fresh lime thinly sliced.

Method:

  1. Marinate the deveined prawns in the Thai Red Curry Paste and set aside for as long as you can before cooking the meal, as suggested by Delia for 4 hours in a fridge is ideal.
  2. To start with the sauce ,add oil in a pan and the chopped garlic, fry till i is a beautiful golden brown and the kitchen starts to give away a delicious aroma that tantalises your senses…ummm , then go in the pan the lime zest and juice , the tomatoes and wine  and on a high heat cook and eventually reduce  for about  8 minutes.
  3. Now add the prawns and mix well on a high heat, then reduce to a low flame and let this bubble again for 3- 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat once prawns are well cooked and cover and keep warm till the pasta is done as we have to be ready to serve this immediately when the pasta is ready , being thin it does not stay very easy to scoop out and handle once boiled.
  5. In a large vessel boil water with salt and cook the pasta , it is done in 3 minutes precisely.
  6. In bowls ready for serving spoon out the pasta ,whatever water comes with it , wil be soaked up by the pasta and the sauce.
  7. Serve the prawns in the Thai red curry paste and white wine sauce on top of the Angel Hair Pasta.
  8. In one word – Perfect !

Finito;)

Now for some pics- hover over each pic for a description, pics are followed by credits to the sites which inspired this blog post,Cheers Folks and do drop me a line if you liked this recipe and made it for your family 🙂

And last but not the least my sweetheart, my patient hubby for buying me the ingredients and for being my time keeper for this dish,I am eternally in love with you …..

Ressurecting LEFTOVERS !

 

Heya all ye blog readers, followers or mere net trawler’s !

I have a simple yet effective way of resurrecting plain white boiled/steamed rice and conjuring up a tasty spicy dish to allow for a guilt free ,time saving recipe which will not only help you NOT die of guilt for throwing away rice that’s perfectly OK but just stale and also having teh pleasure of cooking an easy peasy meal all on your own. Of course it’s NOT my own recipe but a hand me down from my mother ! GAAH and YOU actually thought I was that creative …giggles to herself and continues typing …

Well you need , yes ! Of course my dear genius some leftover white plain cooked rice.

Depending on bow much rice you have say roughly a medium sized soup bowl for example , you will need :

1.2 tablespoons oil

2.2 cloves of garlic with skin

3.1 medium sized red onion finely chopped and I mean FINELY !hehehe I like trying to sound very professional , am just joking here , chop it how you will !

4.few fresh green lovely curry leaves.

5.Turmeric Powder

6. Salt to taste

7.Chilli Powder

8.Pinch of Asafoetida

9.  A pinch of each Jeera (Cumin seeds) & Mohri (Mustard Seeds)

10. A tiny squeeze of lime

11. Some finely chopped freshly coriander for garnish

12. One or two green chillies chopped

Ok now heat the oil in a pan , add the Hing (Asafoetida powder) , add the Mustard seeds and Cumin seeds and wait for the mustard seeds to crackle in the hot oil, then add the garlic finely chopped with the skin and let it turn brown and crisp , believe me,it adds a power packed punch to the flavour of the rice,then add some green chillies chopped to a size that you can pick them out if you don’t want to set your tongue on fire ! Then,in go the curry leaves and the chopped red onion,after the onions are nicely tossed and turned in the oil to give them just the soft and crunchy texture you need,toss in the rice and slightly turn it with your hand before you do to prevent it from sticking , it should open up so that the flavours of the tadka (seasoning ) touch EACH grain and coat it with their heavenly goodness !

Then add the turmeic powder,red chilli powder and mix well,cover the vessel and cook on a very low flame so as to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan at the bottom. Steam for some time and open the lid,squeeze a generous bit of lime(everytime I think LIME or LEMON , I think of the way Jamie Oliver talks about it and uses it generously in MOST of his preparations, I am LOVE with LIME !) on this dish and garnish with fresh coriander, you can even add a few bits of chopped fresh tomato of you like.

Serve HOT with any curry or ”leftover” dal reheated.

I LOVE eating this plain with a big dollop of curd or plain yogurt too !

See told you it was eay peasy !

Masoorachi Aamti or Red Lentil Curry

Masoorachi Aamti or Red Lentil Curry – Recipe adaptation from Mother, Mother in Law and a close CKP friend – Saai who loves to stir up some spicy CKP fare and generally succeeds at it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 measures of Masoor Dal (Red Lentil) with their brown covers intact and whole
  • Mustard Seeds
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves
  • Green chillies 2- 3
  • Curry leaves about 5-6
  • Jeera (Cumin Seeds) – tiny spoonful
  • Freshly grated soft white coconut
  • Goda Masala – mommy made is so much better than the one from the shops but well

(**This is a mix of various spices readily available in Asian Grocery stores it’s basically a mixture of dry coconut roasted with a mixture of atleast 10 different spices, best of all it’s avaialble to buy online at itadka.com ,it’s so EASY PEASY grin grin grin  heres the link ,refrigerate this pack to increase shelf life ,yayay so many tips from me , don’t YOU just LOVE me , if u better dont just READ this make n slurp it all ALONE, drop me A LINE and thank meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee)

  • Coriander Powder
  • Ginger Garlic Paste

(Coriander and Chilli paste – 2 small sized bunches of coriander pureed with 2-3 green chillies – freeze and use on demand, handy and 1 of my 5 “save your face” purees for unwanted guests popping in at odd hours – the other 4 are listed at the end of this recipe)

  • 3 medium sized onion red – chopped fine
  • Asafoetida(Hing or Heeng)
  • Turmeric
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Dhania Powder
  • Jaggery

Aamsul 2-3 soaked in lukewarm water to release it’s juices trapped inside the gorgeous maroon folds – Amsul – also called kokum or Garcinia indica, a plant in the mangosteen family (Clusiaceae)

  • Fresh leaves of Coriander chopped fine for dressing

 Process ( Once a Chemistry student and a retail employee stay that way forever , instead of “PREPARTION” I choose the word ”Process” which is drilled into a Retail Managers brain like young parents making their kids rote learn alphabets)

The masoor dal can be done 2 ways for stage 1 of this process, 1st is the short cut which I love as I suddenly get an urge mid evening to cook this typical CKP recipe to appease my urges to run to Heathrow n take the next flight to my parents home in Pune ,hummmmm, so we soak the masoor dal 2 measures feeds 2 adults with a ravenous appetite and leaves some to spare.

Then soak it in water for about 20 minutes , the traditional route is to soak the masoor for about 10 minutes and pressure cook with 1 or 2 whistles so that it doesn’t go too soft as it will not absorb the marvellous flavours of all the spices we are to add in the kadhai.

Heat 2 large generous tablespoons of oil in a wok, no weight watchers tip this huh? Indeed!

Add mustard seeds and wait for them to pop but please be carefull not to burn them, one classic error here is that there are 2 types of mustard seeds, one variety is slightly big and the other one is smaller n more packed with flavour according to my mother , I dare not disagree , the only reason I use the smaller variety is that it gives me an ego boost each time I do a phodni and don’t burn them.

Then add Asafoetida, crushed garlic cloves in their skin as the skin turns a tasty caramelised brown adding to the visual delight of the process of tempering a curry or dal! then when the garlic is starting to brown add the curry leaves , green chillies , jeera and then  a generous spoonful of the fresh grated coconut (fresh from froizen is fine by me too) then , stir in the goda masala – 2 generous teaspoons, coriander powder ,turmeric , a big blob of ginger garlic paste and coriander chilli paste and stir this wonderfully aromatic mixture till it starts to brown , then add the chopped onion  and stir it now n then , let the oil work its magic in the onion allowing it to brown so that it secrets it juices and adds the typical flavour that a powerfull pungent red onion has pack3ed inside each leaf ,umm , mouth salivating isn’t it by now reading this , it should that’s the whole point my friend .

Now when this mixture is nice and ready, drain the water from the soaked or boiled par-masoor dal and toss it into the kadhai, stir in enough water to cover the lentil n then some and cook it till it almost done, when your almost done pour in the water of the soaked amsool and the dunk the amsool in along with salt to taste and bring to boil.

Season with finely chopped fresh as ever coriander and serve piping hot with phulkas dripping with ghee (clarified butter) or the plain old boiled white rice.

As you lick your fingers n the plate don’t forget to thank your daddy for giving you an internet connection which allowed you to see my divine blog n stir up this delightfull dish !aww come on now did u really buy your laptop and your internet connection on your own ! Atta girl!

Key (reminds me of my Chemistry textbook in school years)

*C.K.P stands for Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu a sub section of the Maharashtrian community in India and they generally hail from the coastal regions and hence are rather partial to freshly grated coconut and amsool in their food, not to mention their love for fresh fish and mutton, oh yeah!

*Dal used loosely to refer to the uncooked Lentil and AMTI a Marathi word meaning cooked curry.

*Coriander = Cilantro

*Jeera – Cumin (what were you thinking?)

*Aamsul – this is typical to the Konkan region, a divine coastal region the state of Maharashtra State which gave the world the gorgeous Madhuri Dixit Nene, a Bollywoood actress par excellence better known for her elastic waist and dance moves that can drive hordes of men wild and in their make the women of these bubble green with jealousy and is now to be honoured and hence waxed err , have her wax statue placed at the one and only Madame Tussads at London, hence I shall visit the wax museum ONLY after her wax replica is unveiled, yes sir! On a serious note it is also called Kokum or Garcinia Indica (Fruit indigenous to the west coast of Maharashtra State in India- i.e. Konkan, Ratnagiri etc .Incidentally apart from the Wiki link for more info on Aamsul , I came across another food blog with a very good explanation about the fruit and have pasted the para from the blog below with the links the blogger has inserted intact and alink too in case anyone wants to visit the blog,it’s got some really good recipes , get clicking

!)

कोकम/अमसुल” (wild/red mangosteen-available in powdered forms too,but its better to use the fruit) are one of the very popular ingredients in Indian food.The outer rind of the fruit is a very popular culinary ingredient in all Maharashtra and in particular Konkan. The fruits are beaten with sticks to separate the rind from seeds. The rind is repeatedly sun dried after soaking in the pulp juice.

People in the Kokan region (Maharashtra) and Southern India often add it in various delicacies (from cold-drinks to soups to vegetables & dips).Dried/Wet Kokum or Amsul is available at most Indian stores in the bay area.Sour in taste,it has medicinal qualities and is used as an anti-allergic.

Raw Mangosteen is called Murgala (Karnataka), Punampuli (Kerala), Murgal (Tamil Nadu) ,Kokum(Gujarat),Kokum/amsul/ratamba/birund (Maharashtra) & Tintali (Orissa).It is called Atyamala, Raktapurak, Vrikshamla,chukra or tintidika in Sanskrit.

Blog credit : http://cookwithmoi.blogspot.com/2009/10/wild-red-mangosteen-soup.html

*Phodni – Marathi for tempering

*Kadhai – Hindi and Marathi for Wok, easy or what?!

*Phulkas – Also called chapattis or the delightful Indian Bread soft and fluffy and fresh off the pan has ghee smeared on it to pack some punch a many many calories 🙂

The other 4 SAVE ME NOW pastes are:

* a garlic ginger coarse paste,

* Finely grated fresh white coconut paste,

* Tomato red onion puree -1:3,

*And the best one for last aye? – few onion chopped lengthwise n lightly roasted in a kadhai (wok) with fresh white coconut finely grated till they turn slightly brown , then churned into a paste in the mixer )

Pic 1 :The saucepan contains oil heated and then the asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, then the garlic , chopped green chillies and curry leaves and last but the best one GODA masala

Pic 2 :Chopped red onion added to the mix

Pic 3: That’s the dal cooking

Pic 4 & 5: All done , the AROMA is filling my senses and transporting me into my MIL’s kitchen , I want to HUG her nowwwwwwwwwww

P.S: Will post pictures to compare the 2 sizes of Mustard seeds at a later date , I am now going to be too busy slurping my amti (dal) off the plate 🙂