Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fav Hot Curry

This is one of my favourites - this is the hot hot version. If you want it cooler then cut the total quantity of spices down appropriately

Curry can be prepared a day ahead; keep, covered, in refrigerator or freeze for 2 months. This recipe is not suitable to microwave.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 60g ghee
  • 10 dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 medIum onIons chopped
  • I clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon tandoori mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 chicken thigh cutlets

1: Heat ghee in large frying pan, add leaves and seeds, stir over high heat for about 1 minute or until seeds begin to pop.
2: Stir in onion, garlic and ginger, stir over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until onion is soft.
3: Stir in curry powder, tandoori mix, cumin, garam masala and chilli powder, stir over medium heat for further minute, stir in juice and water.
4: Add chicken to pan, turn chicken to coat evenly with curry mixture. Cover, cook over low heat for about 60 minutes or until chicken is tender, turning chicken occasionally. Add a little extra water, if necessary, during cooking time.

The goal is to simmer until the sauce is thick and the chicken is in danger of burning on the bottom of the pan.
Substitute olive oil if you don't have any ghee - I do.
The natural way to serve this is with some boiled basmati rice. Since I like this dish a lot but don't like too much rice in my diet (keeping those calories down), I have found the following vegetable dish is a great substitute

This is an adaption of a recipe that uses Bok Choy. If you want to use bok choy then just stir-fry until just wilted which is about 3 minutes.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
  • 1 tbl soy sauce
  • 1 tbl water
  • 1/2 tsp castor sugar
  • 1/2 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 savoy cabbage chopped
  • 1/4 onion chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove finely chopped
  • Crushed red-pepper flakes to taste
In a small bowl, mix soy sauce and sugar - set aside.
In a wok or large, deep skillet, heat olive and sesame oils over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, green onions, garlic, soy sauce mixture and pepper flakes to taste. Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the cabbage is soft.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Easy and fabulous mexican chili

This is a regular chili dish in this household although I make no claims to it being in any way authentic Mexican. The recipe below calls for chicken mince but you can substitute any mince of your own. My favourite is turkey mince. The quantities can be modified to suit your own taste - there are no hard rules here. Control the amount of heat you want with the ground chili but we like it hot!
It can be served up in a variety of ways:

  • with some rice,
  • on some toast,
  • add some guacamole sour cream and corn chips for nachos,
  • bake in a soft tortilla in the oven for an enchilada
are just some ideas. Go for it (serves 4).

1½ cups red kidney beans, canned
60g grated cheddar cheese
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
80g sweet corn, canned
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped (red or green)
1 capsicum (any colour), chopped
100g refried beans, canned
100ml Salsa
200g minced chicken

  • Saute the onions, capsicum and garlic in olive oil over a medium heat until soft
  • Add the mince, stirring until browned (about 3-4 minutes)
  • Add cumin and chili and stir in for another 2-3 minutes
  • Add salsa, corn and kidney beans and simmer on low heat for at least 10 minutes
  • Stir in the refried beans until evenly dispersed about 5 minutes
  • Serve sprinkled with grated cheese

  • Can be left to cool and just reheated in the pan if interrupted or delayed while cooking.
  • I use the 'Old El Paso' jar of salsa (hot if I can get it although our supermarket seems to only stock medium or mild - I just add more ground chili to compensate)
  • Make sure it doesn't come out too 'sloppy'. The only moisture being added is the salsa so use that to control the degree of sloppiness that you want. I find that if I have put in too much salsa then adding a little extra refried beans can thicken it up again.

Good (hot) eating!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The day after the night before

Friday night was a trip down to the Crown & Badger on the Strand in Tauranga with the neighbours. With some rugby, live music, good pub food and just a few ales and wines it was back home for some more ales & wines. Finally said good night to the neighbours in the wee hours so it was no surprise that Saturday was a bit shaky. Despite this, by the time evening came round it was time to have a bit of fun in the kitchen and cook a good meal.
The chosen menu was:
beef fillet in red wine sauce
oven roasted tomatoes
cajun stuffed mushrooms
and wow did it go down well!

Beef fillet in red wine sauce
Now it just so happened that I had an excellent 1 inch thick steak waiting for me to eat. Bought it from the Papamoa butchery. I see he now has a presence on youtube as well. In fact I have run out of raw bacon so I will down to see him in the next few days.
After that digression back to the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 tbs Olive Oil
2 x 180g beef fillet steaks, trimmed
1 onion, halved, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
100g small button mushrooms, trimmed
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp plain flour
1/2 cup (125ml) dry red wine
3/4 cup (180ml) good-quality beef stock


Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Season steaks and cook for 2 minutes each side. Transfer to a tray and cook in oven for 2-3 minutes for rare; 5 minutes for medium.
Heat remaining oil in same pan over medium-low heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for a further 1-2 minutes until mushrooms start to brown. Stir in tomato paste and flour. Add wine and stock, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5-6 minutes until well reduced. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove the pan from heat and return steaks to pan to just warm through in sauce.

Oven roasted tomatoes

This is an adaption of a BBC recipe done with feta. I chose not to add the feta.

Ingredients (serves 2)

About 2 tbsp extra virgin oil
As many tomatoes as you would like to serve as a side dish
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 240C. Oil a shallow roasting tin with 1/2 of the oil.
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways and lay them cut-side up in the tin.
Sprinkle over the thyme and some salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150C and roast for a further 1 & 1/2 hours (actually anything more than 15min will do) until they have shriveled to about half their original size and concentrated in flavour. Leave to cool just a bit.
Arrange the tomatoes the plates and drizzle over the remaining olive oil.
Sprinkle with a bit more sea salt and some black pepper to serve.

Phew! I might leave the mushroom recipe for another time.

Friday, May 9, 2008

More than one way to have your duck

One of the things I like about living in NZ is the easy availability of duck. I could occasionally find it in Sydney supermarkets but not often, while in NZ whole duck, duck legs and duck breasts are readily available at the supermarket.
It happens though that buying either the legs or breasts separately is a rather expensive exercise. It's $20 for the whole bird, but $17.50 for the legs and $17.50 for the breasts.
What this means is that you either have whole roast duck each time or you learn how to cut the pieces off separately. Because it is expensive you don't want to waste any of that precious meat as you cut it up. However, this article is not about how to joint a duck as I am purely an amateur, but I did buy a whole duck last week and jointed it myself. I should have taken a picture of the results as I was pretty pleased with the effort
On an aside, view from the back onto the estuarybeing such a duck fan has got the neighbours worried as there are plenty of (live) ducks on the estuary fronting the house and feel their lives could be at risk (the same goes for the 20 odd quail on the estate). More pictures of the estate are here.

This is the recipe for the breasts:

Roast duck with red wine poached pears:
Preparation Time: 20 -85 minutes -
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 large pears, peeled
5OOml (2 cups) red wine (such as merlot)
250ml (1 cup) water
óOml (1/4 cup) creme de cassis (see note.)
2 tbs caster sugar
1 x 7cm cinnamon stick
2 (175g each) duck breast fillets, skin on, excess fat trimmed
Sea salt flakes
125m1 (1/2 cup) chicken stock
1 tbs balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 160 °C. Use a small knife to remove the base of each pear so they sit upright.

Combine the wine, water, cassis, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add pears and cook, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside for 1 hour to cool.

Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to score the skin of each duck breast at 1cm intervals. Rub the duck with sea salt flakes and set aside for 15 minutes to develop flavours. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the duck, skin-side down, and cook for 5 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 10 minutes for medium or until cooked to your liking.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a bowl, reserving 125ml (1/2 cup) of the poaching liquid. Place 2 teaspoons of liquid from the dish used to cook the duck in a saucepan. Add the stock, vinegar and reserved poaching liquid. Bring to the boil over high heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes or until reduced by half. Add pears and cook for 5 minutes or until heated through.

Thickly slice the duck across the grain and divide among serving plates. Serve with the pears and sauce.

Notes & tips

You can prepare this recipe to the end of step 2 up to 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Continue from step 3 up to 1 hour before serving.
Note: Creme de cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur.
Be careful not to use too much salt. My version came out a little salty for my liking. You could safely skip the step altogether.

The accompaniment
I made a Potato Galette to go with this.

Overall Result
Nothing short of superb - let down by the salt so 9.5/10

I will leave the recipe I used for the legs for another post