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Tag Archives: coriander

The trouble with eggs

Oh mayonnaise, what are we going to do with you? You taste very nice in your little jars, but so many cookbooks and chefs tell me that homemade mayonnaise is even nicer that in the interests of tasting delicious food I feel it is my duty to make some. Trouble is that these same chefs and cookbooks also tell me how darn difficult it is to make it from scratch, hence our reliance on the good old Hellmans. In the book I’m reading at the moment, Lunch in Paris (not a cookbook but a true story about an American falling in love with a Frenchman and food in Paris, peppered with a few recipes here and there -right up my street) , the author describes meeting her new beaus family and mother who, calmly in the middle of conversation, whips up a bowlful of mayonnaise to go with lunch. She made it sound so easy, the swine, that I just knew right then that I had to try myself. The meal it revolved around was supposed to be pan fried salmon with lime and coriander mayonnaise and crushed potatoes again with lime and coriander from my new book French Brasserie. Unfortunately my attempt at mayonnaise went disastrously – I added the oil too quickly to the egg yolks so instead of a bowl full of pillowy, creamy mayonnaise I ended up with oily egg yolks that had the same consistency as grease. And I had no extra eggs to try again, so I ended up grilling the salmon in foil with lime, ginger, chilli and coriander and accompanied the fish with the potatoes described earlier. While tasty, it lacked the je ne sais quoi that I had anticipated from the homemade mayonnaise, and in my bad temper I’d seriously over cooked the salmon. Bugger. So to say it wasn’t the most successful evening spent in the kitchen would be an understatement. Nigella quotes in one of her books that she grew up making mayonnaise and never knew it was difficult until someone commented on her ability to do it. This is why I love her, so unfazed, so blasé at the tricky side to cooking, and encouraging you, as she would phrase it, to feel the fear and cook it anyway. True for life outside the kitchen too, just do it. One day, homemade mayonnaise, I will return to overcome your tricky ways.

Despite what the rather misleading title of todays blog would have you believe, I’ve also had a successful crack at the eggs this week. This success came from Nigella Bites, which is one of my favourite offerings from The Lawson. When a cookbook has chapters like ‘TV Dinners’ and ‘Trashy’, you know you’re going to be eating well. Favourites from this include the chocolate fudge cake (simply amazing, if you only make one recipe from Bites, this is the one) and the meatballs and pasta. I got Bites from EBay secondhand when I first moved out of the parents home and I really love that there are splashes of food on some of the pages. The Boyfriend thinks its gross, but being the dreamer that I am I just think of the happy meals a family or couple had using this book. Or maybe they weren’t such great meals if they ended up selling it on eBay. Hmmm. Dinner tonight from this gem was masala omelette with coriander chutney and chapatis, which is in the breakfast section but between you and me, this ain’t no breakfast. What it is though is tasty with a big chilli smack in the face which I very much appreciated after a tiring day of work. The omelette is taken up a notch with chopped spring onion, chilli, garlic and some Indian spices, and eaten wrapped up in chapatis with a big dollop of coriander chutney. So easy and ridiculously tasty. The chutney provides most of the spice, which is sharp and nasal clearing but not the sort of spice that turns your mouth into a volcano. It’s manageable. The chutney just involves chucking a few chillies, herbs and coconut cream in a blender with some lime juice so is very simple, and likely to not even be a chutney at all. It contains my two favourite herbs which are mint and coriander. God, I love them. They smell glorious and transport me to tropical shores every time I get a whiff of them. They also taste stunning, alone or together, and I’m rather partial to eating them on their own while waiting for something to cook. What a freak. The time/flavour ratio for this dinner is off the scale, it takes no time at all yet delivers a really flavourful meal that wakes your taste buds up. The perfect recipe then, to get me amped up and excited about the release of Nigella’s new cookbook next week. This is an obsession I’m happy to continue for a little while yet!

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Bittersweet Rhubarb Cupcakes

In honour of the Queens Diamond Jubilee this weekend, I decided to put an English spin on the classic American cupcake. Oh alright then, I actually bought a new cookbook last week and was dying to try this recipe. Congrats and all that Lizzie, but my real inspiration was The Primrose Bakery Book by Martha Smith and Lisa Thomas, and what a delightful book it is. I haven’t actually broken the news yet to The Boyfriend that I’ve bought another one (if you’re reading Boyfriend, I’ve got a new cook book. And er, have pre-ordered another one on Amazon) because the normal reaction is something along the lines of ‘oh for gods sake, not another one, I thought we had this under control now’. Like me buying cook books on a regular basis is up there with a drug addict fresh out of The Priory going to their dealer and picking up some crack. Well as Whitney Houston once said, crack is whack, and I’ve not yet seen or heard of a scientific study looking into the damaging effects of cookbooks on lungs. Please do enlighten me if you hear of one.
So as addictions go, I’m playing it safe while he works abroad for weeks on end.
Back to the cookbook: it’s ace. Full of beautiful pictures of cupcakes, layer cakes, breakfast treats and biscuits, it just makes me want to cook everything from it. I managed to settle on the rhubarb cupcakes as this isn’t something you generally see in a cupcake and I love rhubarb and feel it deserves a bit more variety than alway being plonked into a crumble (delicious as it is). The rhubarb is cut into small chunks and is stewed in water, sugar and vanilla until its falling apart, then put into a plain cake mix. The recipe states that it makes 12 cupcakes, but you could easily make about 6 more with the mixture if you wanted to as there is a lot of mix leftover. This is definitely not a criticism, as complaints go its up there with ‘I can’t close my wallet for all the £50 notes in there’. With the excess cake mix I just made bigger cupcakes and then had a grand time licking the bowl afterwards (easily the best bit about baking). Once the cupcakes were cooked and cooled, I iced them with an icing made with rhubarb juice left over from stewing the rhubarb earlier. The juice was a vibrant, pretty pink and once mixed with sugar and butter, was diluted down to the palest baby pink – gorgeous. The verdict? I love ’em. Soft cake with threads of sweet but slightly sour rhubarb, topped with a sticky, rich icing that is almost too sweet until the tang of rhubarb juice comes in, keeping the icing within very acceptable sweetness levels. Loved. Them. And they look absolutely divine, pretty and very girly.

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I also cooked today a scrumptious dinner incorporating 2 recipes from Mexican Food Made Easy by Thomasina Miers. It was grilled chicken with green rice and homemade guacamole, and even though it sounds like a ‘meh’ dish, its actually seriously tasty. I left the chicken plain and decided to let the sides do the talking. The green rice is just so good, I’ve made it a few times before and it tastes so vibrant,but with coriander, onion, garlic and good vegetable stock in it, it would be more surprising if it wasn’t tasty. I could eat this by the bucketload, but I did manage to reign myself in and just have a plateful (I couldn’t find a bucket). The guacamole was also amazing. I know you can get ready made guacamole in the shops, but that wouldn’t jazz up a plain chicken breast like homemade would. Avocados aren’t exactly cheap either, but It’s worth buying them to make this recipe. The guacamole is tangy and spicy and when combined with the rice and chicken really brings the whole thing together to make a ridiculously tasty and fairly healthy dinner. Chicken and rice need never be boring again. It also looks as pretty as the pink cupcakes with the vibrant green of the rice and guacamole, although I don’t think the picture shows this very well. All in all, a very successful day of cooking with some delicious flavours.

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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Baking, Books, Chicken, Cooking, Food

 

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Goan prawn curry with hard boiled egg – Everyday Indian

Friends have called me a food snob. Personally I don’t know what they mean, I just like to shop in Waitrose, eat at nice places and only buy cookbooks by either famous chefs or acclaimed food writers. So maybe I’m a bit of a food snob. But before you judge me you should also know that I love McDonalds and fairground doughnuts, so how much of a snob can I really be?! Anyway, the cookbook for todays recipe is not by a chef or acclaimed food writer, indeed has no author at all apparently judging by the front cover. It’s from Everyday Indian, a book I admittedly would never have bought myself in a million years. I always feel that if there is no one who wants to put a name to this book, what is it that they don’t want to take credit for? If you’re proud of something then you put your name on it. Plus, while I am  a huge fan of good Indian food, I have never been able to replicate a good Indian curry at home. It always tastes either of onions or tomatoes and the reaction it tends to get is ‘meh’. Doesn’t matter how many recipes I try, the curry will always end up being bland, too watery and nowhere near the deliciousness of a proper Indian curry, I just don’t have the skills. Anyway this book was given to me by someone as a stocking filler present, and it went onto the bookcase on Boxing Day and has remained there for over 2 years, until today.

So, would this cookbook be the one that gave me the recipe, nay, the secret to an amazing, authentic, tasty, spicy, complex flavoured curry? Well, no. Sadly it did not. I’d like to say I give up on cooking Indian at home, but unfortunately I have another Indian cookbook to cook from as well as two more from the authorless book to complete the challenge. Bummer. The curry was alright, it tasted a little bit like the spices (ground fennel, ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder), the egg surprisingly went well with the curry (probably because the egg had more flavour than the sauce), and the prawns were nicely cooked. But there was really nothing there to make me want to cook it again, and a few hours after eating I’ve completely forgotten what it tastes like. The boyfriend commented that the nicest bit of the curry was the coriander sprinkled on top. It tells you something about a curry when the condiment / garnish tastes better than the curry (although we really do love coriander, I used to eat leaves by the fistful when I was first introduced to the herb!). Whether this is the books fault or is down to my incompetence as a curry cook, I cant really know. But because I’m a food snob, I’m going to place the blame with the non-author of this book. No name  = not proud.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Books, Cooking, Indian

 

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Chicken Casserole -Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy

So today I decided to use a cookbook I truly have neglected. I bought this Gordon Ramsay book quite a few years ago when I first made the decision to learn how to cook, and have barely used it since. The only recipe I have cooked from it have been the chocolate fondants, which by the way, are stunning! If you like gooey rich chocolately goodness then that pudding is made for you, just dollop some chantily or clotted cream on top and you’re done!

Anyway, back to the casserole. When the weather is fricking freezing, a casserole is hard to beat so I was quite looking forward to this as the weather is, uh, fricking freezing. It was ridiculously easy to make, until I had to shred the chicken from the bone while it was still roasting hot. In Gordons defense, it does say to wait  until the chicken has cooled down, but I was hungry and that overrides all of my common sense! So if you cook this, heed his advice! The casserole itself smelled pretty good, but why wouldn’t it when it had leek, red onion, thyme, ginger, lemongrass and the like in it? Making the dumplings was messy but very easy, haven’t had dumplings for a long long time, possibly since moving out of my dads several years ago, so was nice to make some and wolf them down.

The verdict on the casserole was very mixed. I really enjoyed it, I felt it had plenty of flavour, chicken was nicely cooked and the dumplings were soft and had a subtle taste of coriander. However, for a Gordon Ramsay recipe, I expected more and thought it would be a lot more WOW than it was. For me, it was just a good chicken casserole, nothing more, nothing less. The boyfriend hated it. He has the most sensitive palette I have ever known, and can pick out ginger and lemongrass in an instant. You don’t even need to put a lot in, he can just sense it, like a shark detecting blood in the ocean. I can’t ever get those spices past him, no matter how hard I try! He’s even decided that he no longer likes thyme now, so thats another flavouring off the list.

I will eat nearly everything, although a few things are off limits. The boyfriend however, is extremely picky. Chorizo, forget it. Thyme, jog on. Cinnamon, in your dreams! And I bloody love cinnamon. Well they say opposites attract, so it must be true, after 8 years our differing taste buds haven’t driven us apart. Maybe one day his taste buds will develop into an adults, but I don’t hold out much hope!

PS: Oven still not fixed, leaving me stuck on hob or grill based recipes. Very frustrating as all I want to do is bake!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Books, Chicken, Cooking

 

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