Saturday 27 February 2010

Ricotta stuffed chicken with chorizo polenta

I've been lacking in recipe postings lately, mainly for the fact that my boyfriend was away and I managed to kill the camera and do something to my phone camera! So no pictures and no posts as I couldn't download anything! Luckily he has now re-formatted one and got a new SD card for the other but it just reminds me that its time a new camera was in order, just can't decide where to start!

Just before this happened I made this dish for a friend, who has recently been advised not to eat wheat. Polenta provided a good substitute for usual pasta/ bread etc! I didn't write down all the parts and it needs minor tweaking but it tasted good first time around!

For the polenta, I fried a little chorizo, stirred in instant polenta, seasoned and added stock, then cooked until thick, it sets very quickly so make sure you have everything ready! I think it needs more spice so will add a little chilli next time.

For the chicken, I combined ricotta with chopped sun-dried tomatoes (which had for some reason been lurking in the cupboards forever!) fresh basil and seasoning, stuffed into the chicken breasts and left to set firm, then wrapped in foil, baked until nearly cooked through and finished in a frying pan to colour. It could have been a little moister perhaps but am loathe to wrap in bacon as really can't stand the bacon-chicken combo!

The broccoli was kept simple, quickly boiled and tossed with pine-nuts and the dish finished with fresh basil oil.

Mothers Day Ideas

With mothers day swiftly approaching, I find it a hard time to choose a special gift as my mums birthday is only a few days later, this year this beautiful hamper from Interflora will be all hers; consisting of Fairtrade items, I can also give it to her with an extra smile that’s it done some good. It arrived in perfect condition and securely wrapped:

I will of course be helping my mum test the items ;-) I am a real ginger fan so look forward to assisting with eating the stem ginger cookies! Oh and the vanilla fudge…and of course the chocolate!

Interflora, best known for their flowers now supply a whole range of wonderful hampers full of goodies to treat someone special too, you can find their ever expanding gift range here: and also of course a beautiful selection of Mothers Day Flowers

Thursday 11 February 2010

Batter Fail

I am not a fan at all of Pancakes/ crepes etc. Not sure why but for as long as I can remember I've not liked them, yet alone made them. We always go to my boyfriends mum's on pancake day, where I will find something else to eat with everyone tucking in with glee to mountains of pancakes! I think its maybe a textural thing with batters as I didn't really enjoy toad-in-the-hole until recently and even still its not my favourite thing to eat. I do like drop scones though...

The one exception where I ate crepes, and enjoyed them was on holiday in Greece about 6 years ago; there was a lovely little cafe that overlooked the sea which we visited for lunch several times, and had savoury baked crepes. They were either filled with ham and cheese, or chicken and mushroom, then covered in cheese sauce, and baked. Now these were lovely and so finally I decided to have a go at them yesterday, I'm relatively confident in the kitchen and can usually spot a bad recipe, but with batter recipes being quite alien to me I put my faith in Ed Baines and his book 'Entertain'. Fail. Fail. Fail.

I read the recipe over the phone to my mum this morning and she said it sounded wrong, so I thought would put it to the blogosphere and see if its me or the recipe that failed? I made two batches, one by hand and one with electric whisk, the 'electric' batch consistency was awful, lumpy, the one by hand like milky water with bits in! I even added an extra egg in vain attempt to recover but no, still very wrong.

Recipe from book:

2 eggs
225g plain flour
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch salt
60g melted butter
600ml milk
2 tsp dried oregano

Mix together the eggs, flour oil and salt, whisk well making sure there are no lumps. - Both times this did not work, my mixture was very thick and lumpy?-
Add the melted butter, slowly add milk until a smooth pancake batter. -Nope-
Heat oil in pan and make thin pancakes, swirling to coat. I only tried this part with the batter that was semi-smooth, it did not swirl and took forever to brown, on turning it shredded the moment I lifted from the pan!

All went in the bin. Not sure if am annoyed more by the waste of ingredients or that a recipe didn't work for me?!

Prior to attempting the crepes, I had already made a rather delicious filling consisting of ricotta, cooked spinach and chard, chorizo, a little quark to bulk out, fresh basil and sundried tomatoes, so when the crepes went from bad to worse, I made a panic call to the boyfriend and he managed to get me some tortilla wraps on the way home from work, (them being nearest thing to crepes!)...luckily it worked! I filled and rolled the wraps, snuggled into a baking tray an covered with a light cheese sauce made with cornflour, milk and vegetable stock (I was trying to be healthy!) a little grated cheese on top then baked until golden. Not quite the dish I intended but pretty tasty all the same and have been asked to make it again. Unfortunately didn't get a picture of finished result, but glad managed to save at least part of dinner!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Best ever Dal and fragrant pork steaks

To begin, I have limited cooking experience with Dhals/ Dals (and in general the whole Indian cuisine side of things!), though I am rather fond of the creamy spinach one I posted a few months back and inbetween then and now theres been alrights and hmm's..however all has changed and this is definately my new favourite dal! Its thick and mmm, oh and fragrant, and I found myself eating from the spoon whilst putting the remanants into my lunchbox for tomorrow..without the pork part its a great veggie dish!

The actual type of dal I used came about after originally wanting to make another recipe from Simon Hopkinson's book 'Week In, Week out' which I reviewed a while back (and where the delightful aforementionned spinachy one came from!) for Fragrant Duck 'pilaf' and it called for Moong Dal. First hurdle though was trying to find a bag of the stuff that wasn't into giant proportions - ASDA only had 2kg I eventually asked my Dad, who luckily lives nearer lots of ethnic grocers and he got me two smaller packets, one of Moong Dal Chilka, which is yellow and green, and also a bag of yellow Mung Dal. To be honest I have found the different names baffling at times though think one or the other would be correct..

However, today I found myself on a day off from work, not much in the cupboards or fridge and horrible weather not exactly enticing me to leave the house I decided to have a go at making my own spice mix from the cupboards and leaving the duck recipe for another time, but still using the above lentils and choosing the pork shoulder steaks instead that I'd defrosted overnight. This recipe is nothing like the Duck one, I will definately make and post that another time, this came about purely from imagination and wanting to use my cute little spice tin I was given last year!

The pork part is good, with a nice, if a little plain marinade, however the real star is the Dal. I'm not entirely sure the two fully worked together and to be honest I would be happy enough just with a big hot bowl of the Dal! The pork was really for feeding carnivorous boyfriend and he enjoyed it!

One thing I have learnt over the last few months with Dal's is to make a Tarka, a finishing touch to the dish:

1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Lightly toast the spices, cool and grind together, reserve for later stages.

For the pork; marinade 2 pork shoulder steaks in 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne, pinch white pepper, 1/2 tsp ground coriander and 1 clove roughly chopped garlic, blended with 2 tsp sunflower oil. Leave for a couple of hours if possible.

Dal recipe:
(makes enough for 3 happy portions)

Soak 250g of Moong Dal Chilka for a couple of hours in cold water, rinse and drain.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a saucepan, add the drained dal and fry for a couple of minutes, add apx 750ml cold water, 1 knorr vegetable stockpot, a pinch of chilli powder, pinch ground coriander and 1/2 tsp of the ground Tarka mix, bring to boil and simmer for 25 minutes, add a tin of drained Kala Chana (a darker, nuttier chickpea, use normal if you can't find) simmer for a further 10 minutes or until you have a creamy, thickish mixture. Add a little salt to taste.

When the Dal has started cooking, fry the pork steaks along with a sliced onion until almost cooked through, add more oil if needed, remove the pork and add 1 tsp white wine vinegar, simmer for a couple of minutes, add 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp of the tarka mix, cover and simmer for 10 mins, return the pork and cook through - about a further 5-6 minutes, allow to rest for a couple of minutes before serving in a warm place.

To finish, heat a small pan with 1 tbsp butter until foaming, add the remaining Tarka mix and cook for a couple of seconds, stir into the dal. Serve immediately with the pork, if desired.

If you were just making the dal alone, I would still make the same quantity of spice mixture, though maybe adjust to your tastes by adding a little less of the mixture.


As a bit rambled above, full ingredients are:

250g moong dal chilka
1 vegetable Knorr Stockpot 
750ml water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
pinch white pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander + extra pinch for the dal
2 pork shoulder steaks, fat trimmed
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1 tin Kala chana or chickpeas
Pinch chilli powder
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp vegetable oil+ extra if needed for the onions
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp butter
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