Strawberry and almond crumble

I personally don’t cook  with strawberries. A bland strawberry doesn’t add much to the taste of anything, just my humble opinion. Maybe it is the bland strawberries we get here. There might be strawberry lovers out there who will be up in arms at this remark. Having said that, strawberry in a crumble as created by Nigella, now that’s something else. Strawberries topped with a crunchy topping baked till golden makes a delicious treat. The strawberries cook to a soft sweet mess mixing with the crunchy almonds to create a taste sensation.

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INGREDIENTS

500 g strawberries( 2 x punnets)

50 g caster sugar

25 g almond meal or ground almonds

4 tsp vanilla extract

Topping

110 g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

75g cold butter, diced

100g flaked almonds

75g Demerara sugar

pie dish 21 cm

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METHOD

Preheat oven to 200C

Place washed and hulled strawberries into the pie dish and sprinkle the sugar, almonds and vanilla giving it a shake to mix well.

Mix the flour and baking powder and rub in the cold diced butter between fingers till it ends up looking like oatmeal. Stir in the flaked almonds and sugar. Pour this over the strawberries in an even layer pressing the edges down a bit.

Place dish on a baking sheet or tray and bake for half an hour.Stand 10 minutes before serving with heavy cream or ice cream.It tastes great by itself too!

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Can be assembled a day ahead and stored covered in the fridge. Allow extra ten minutes baking time.

Serves 4-6

Recipe source: Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen

A curry paste and a dal

On one of my frequent recipe seeking I came across this recipe for a curry paste. As usual my curiosity was aroused by the unusual combination of vinegar and oil with a few flavour some spices. It is a great paste to have on hand and it keeps forever, well almost, in the fridge. I use it in mixed vegetable gravies, dals and so on with great success. This paste obviously has its fans because I have had a request for the recipe. So here it is. I have no idea who created this originally, but whoever did it, hats off to you! I have changed it a bit to suit my taste.

I have also added a recipe for a whole masoor dal I made with the paste.

Curry Paste

1/2 cup coriander seeds

4Tb  cummin seeds

2Tb fennel seeds

6 red chillies

a handful curry leaves

Powder all this, no need to fry. Add 1Tb red chilli powder and turmeric powder each to the spice mix. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar and 6 Tb water and make a paste.

Heat a cup of oil and add the paste to it and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes stirring once in a while. Keep aside to cool. Stores for months in the fridge. Store with all the oil.

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Whole masoor

Soak a cup of masoor overnight. Cook the next day with

an onion

2 garlic and some ginger pasted

3 cardamom seeds

Cook in a pressure cooker or your preferred method till done.

Meanwhile fry in 3 Tb oil

1 tsp fennel, cummin seeds

1 big onion

paste of 3 garlic and thumb sized ginger

Fry till light golden. Add

1/2 a can of can tomato

or 2 big fresh ripe tomatoes

Fry till oil floats. Add 2 -3Tb of the curry paste

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cummin powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp Garam masala powder

salt

Now add the cooked masoor,adding water enough to make a thick gravy. Boil on medium heat for 10 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves4-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fried chicken

A recipe request from a friend, who wanted a quick and easy chicken recipe. This one fits the bill. Just a few spices, an onion and some coconut and you have a spicy tasty dish.

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INGREDIENTS

2 tsp cummin

1 tsp pepper

1Tb coriander powder

3 cardamom

1Tb fennel

2Tb red chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 red onion

1/2 cup coconut

salt

oil

curry leaves

500g boneless chicken

METHOD

Fry in a tsp of oil the cummin, fennel, pepper and cardamom. Powder. Add the chilli and coriander powder and turmeric powder to it, mix and keep. Grind the coconut to a paste.

Fry the onion then grind it and set aside.

In a heavy pan or kadai  heat 3-5 Tb oil and fry the cleaned and diced chicken for 5 minutes. Add the onion paste and the spice powders and salt. Fry very well for 10 minutes. Then add the coconut and fry till the chicken is fried crisp and brown. Garnish with curry leaves.

If you can handle more chilli feel free to add more chilli powder.

Serves 4

Blueberry yogurt cake

A visit to the nearby market saw me buying some blueberries. And what came to my mind was not a healthy blueberry smoothy but a yogurt cake I was eying for some time. Smittenkitchen had posted a delicious cake with blueberries. So bake I did. It’s a beautiful cake studded with the berries, a very moist cake with yummy crispy edges. It’s a very forgiving cake and can be baked without the berries. You can substitute the berries with raspberries or choc chips and or nuts. Deb in her blog calls it “a lemon yogurt anything cake” and so the name explains it all!  It can be baked as muffins or in a round 9″ pan. I baked it in a loaf pan. Baking times will differ accordingly.

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INGREDIENTS

190g+ 1Tb plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

230g  plain yogurt

1 cup+ 1Tb grainy sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp lemon zest (I did not use any)

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 punnet/ 250 g blueberries

80 ml lemon juice to brush on top of cake( I omitted this bit)

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METHOD

Line a greased loaf pan. Heat oven to 180C. Combine the blueberries with the 1 Tb flour and keep.

Beat yogurt, sugar minus the 1 Tb sugar egg, zest vanilla essence and oil till smooth.

Whisk the flour and baking powder and gently fold in with the wet mix. Add the blueberries. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 58 minutes or until done.

If using icing heat the lemon juice and sugar to melt the sugar on low heat.

Cool the cake for ten minutes. Invert onto a rack. Brush the lemon icing all over. I did not use the icing and found the cake just perfect without it.

Can be baked as muffins, bake for 22 minutes, filling right upto the top as cake does not rise much.

Cake keeps well for a week, wrapped well in the fridge.

Recipe source: Smitten Kitchen

 

 

 

 

Two cookies

A drop in temperature has me reaching out for hot cups of tea more often. Now who would not mind having a cookie or two while sipping on that strong cup of Assam tea! So here are two types of cookies, jam drops and peanut cookies. I am constantly amazed how nice homemade cookies taste compared to the supermarket ones and these cookies have no artificial flavourings nor are they achingly sweet.

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Jam drop cookies 24

INGREDIENTS

125 g soft butter unsalted

1 cup grainy sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

13/4 cups plain flour

1/4 cup corn flour

11/2 tsp baking powder

jam to dot the cookies

METHOD

Preheat oven to 160C

Line a large tray.

Start by beating the sugar and butter till fluffy. Add the salt and essence. Beat in the egg for a minute.

Combine the flours and baking powder mixing well. Add to the butter combo with a wooden spoon till it all comes together.

Make 24 balls of dough and place on tray. Flatten a bit. Now place 1/2 tsp of jam on each cookie . Bake for 15 minutes. If you make the cookies smaller or larger adjust baking time. Remove from tray after 5 minutes and cool on a rack.

Peanut cookies 24 large or 35 small

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INGREDIENTS

125g soft butter

1/2 cup+ 2Tb Sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 egg

11/4 cups self raising flour

3/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

METHOD

Preheat oven to 160C. Line a tray.

Beat butter and sugar fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add essence. Mix in the flour with a spoon. Add peanuts. Make balls line on tray and flatten a bit. They do spread. So leave enough space between cookies.

Bake for 12 minutes. Larger cookies will need a couple more minutes. Cool for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Note: I find turning the trays half way through bakes the cookies perfectly.

Recipe source: from an old book by Merle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ottolengi’s cauliflower salad

Ottolengi’s vegetarian recipes are simply delicious morsels of pure goodness. He has this unique talent for combining flavours to bring out the best in vegetables. Here cauliflower is roasted and combined with grapes, raisins and nuts with a tart dressing all topped with a creamy cheddar. It brings the cauliflower to life and the flavours combine to create a taste sensation. The saltness of the cheese, the sweetness of the grapes and raisins perfectly matches with the dressing to make the humble cauliflower an exquisite delicacy. I could gladly eat a whole bowl on its own as a meal. Hope I have piqued your interest!

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INGREDIENTS

About a kilo of cauliflower broken into bite sized pieces

90 ml olive oil

2Tb sherry vinegar (I used coconut vinegar)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp honey

30g raisins

40 g walnuts chopped small ( original recipe used hazelnuts)

100 g red grapes halved and seed removed

80 g creamy cheddar crumbled

handful parsely

salt and pepper

Roast cauliflower  coated with half the oil and salt and pepper in a 200C oven for 20- 25 minutes.

Whisk the rest of the oil with the mustard, honey, vinegar and little salt. Marinate the raisins in this mix for 10 minutes.

Just before serving mix everything pour dressing on top and serve.

Serves 4

Recipe source: Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

 

Eggplant with soy sauce

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I call this Kylie’s eggplant. Kylie Kwong created this dish on a Masterchef episode and ever since I love making this at home. A simple dish with bold flavours  it is sure to please all eggplant lovers. Eggplant fried and seasoned with plenty of ginger, garlic and red chillies and topped with soy sauce and coriander leaves this is one eggplant favourite of mine.

INGREDIENTS

2 big fat eggplant

1x thumb size ginger

4-5 fresh red chillies or as much heat as you can survive

4 garlic

2 Tb soy sauce

4 Spring onions

one bunch of coriander leaves

sesame oil

salt

METHOD

Chop eggplant into small dice or slice into long thin slices. Rub salt and leave for half an hour. Rinse, squeeze out and then fry in oil till nearly done and set aside.

In the same oil add finely chopped ginger, garlic and red chillies. Fry for 6-7 minutes then add the eggplant. Add the soy sauce mix gently so as not to break up the delicate pieces of fried eggplant. Taste for salt adding some if needed. Garnish with the chopped spring onions and coriander leaves. Finish with a sprinkling of sesame oil.

Kylie added Szechwan pepper to the dish. I did not.

I always taste the final outcome to test for salt and sometimes add a tiny bit of brown sugar to balance the flavours. I did it here too. It’s just optional.

Serves 4

 

 

Lemon chutney

Second in the trio of chutneys is the preserved lemon chutney. This is the one in the front. Lemon preserved in just salt is best for this. But any  lemon pickle would do. Pickled mango can be also be used. A quick recipe but delicious.

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup pickled lemon

3 dry red chilli roasted

10 small onion chopped

1″ ginger chopped

curry leaves

salt

2 Tb gingelly oil

METHOD

Chop the pickled lemon. Crush the onion, chillies, ginger and the pickle. I did one quick whizz in my mixi. Don’t grind it to a paste. It has to be coarse. Add chopped curry leaves and salt to taste. Heat the oil to smoking point switch off heat and pour over the mix.

Best with curd rice! This keeps a week in the fridge.

 

Kadai Subji

I am always on the look out for new recipes to cook vegetables. So I have zillion recipes written down. Needless to say I don’t try every single recipe that I have jotted down. When I do try a few out, some turn out to be flops. Nothing to write home about. But at times I hit the jack pot. And this is one.

A medley of crispy cooked vegetables in a tangy spicy gravy, topped with the aromatic kasuri methi which always makes any dish shine…. Tastes equally with rice or roti.

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INGREDIENTS

2 handfuls of fresh green benas

2 carrots

1 small green capsicum

1onion

1 tomato

25 cashew

2 tsp red chilli powder

1 Tb ginger garlic paste

1/ 2 an onion

1 tomato

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

marble size tamarind soaked in a little water

1 tsp kasuri methi powder

water

METHOD

Fry one tomato, 1/2 the onion and the ginger garlic paste till brownish. Grind with the cashew, coriander, turmeric and  chilli powders.

Cut the vegetables into half a finger long strips. Cook the beans and carrots in a cup of water. Do not over cook it. It should still have a bite to it.

Fry the capsicum and half an onion till  cooked but crispy. Add the other tomato and fry for five minutes. Keep aside.

Heat oil add the paste and fry till oil floats. Add the tamarind juice. Add 1/2 cup of water and boil for 6-7 minutes. Now put in all the vegetables with the water from cooking the vegetables and the capsicum and onion mix. Bring to a boil add the kasuri methi and remove.

Serves 4

 

 

Bittergourd pulinji

Bittergourd made like pulinji is so delicious that I now only make this  instead of just plain pulinji. The method is similar though with just the addition of fried bittergourd.

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INGREDIENTS

1 lemon size tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup water

4-6 green chillies chopped fine

1 thumb size ginger chopped fine

1 bittergourd about 200 Gm diced small

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp fenugreek

curry leaves few

2 dry red chillies

1 tsp red chilli powder

salt

1 Tb jaggery

1/2 cup gingelly oil

METHOD

Fry the big bittergourd till brown and almost crispy. I did not fry it crisp. There was some bite left. Set aside.

In the same oil fry  mustard, red chilli, fenugreek and curry leaves. Add the green chilli and ginger and fry till light brown. Add the chilli powder and the tamarind juice. Bring to a boil and add the fried bittergourd. Add salt and boil for ten minutes. Taste for salt and add the jaggery.

This keeps quite well if stored in the fridge.

I used the Chinese bittergourd. If you use the indian type, smaller variety, the amount of tamarind and other spices will need to be adjusted accordingly.