Archive for December, 2009

The whole concept of this recipe is actually really clever: it’s essentially a rather nice home made Thai curry but you don’t have to make a paste. Instead a mix of dry spices is used, and I’ll be damned – it works! It’s from Just Add Spice and is my second winner recipe from this book, and in my opinion two great recipes  = great book. So go forth and purchase in April 2010! I must confess to a couple of changes from the original recipe as follows: I used chicken thighs instead of breasts to avoid dry meat in the curry, added more veggies and most importantly did NOT add spices to sesame oil heated over high heat! This is a great thing to do if A) you want your kitchen full of smoke and B) you want to burn your spices and destroy your dinner. Sesame oil smokes like buggery on high heat and you never, never add spices to really hot oil. However if you follow the instructions below you’ll be fine and end up with a really lovely dinner. The recipe will yield a mild curry so we upped the chilli flakes accordingly when making it a second time. (more…)


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I don’t have many ‘family’ recipes, by which I mean recipes passed down through at least two generations and that still taste great today. But this lovely plum pudding recipe from my equally lovely Grandma certainly fits the bill and it just isn’t Christmas without it. Growing up, I though all plum puddings tasted like this and was horrified the first time I ate a more ‘traditional’ pudding – it was just so comparatively tasteless! (Fear not, I have since had some very nice traditional puddings – my best girlfriend does a killer job with hers.) But for me this is the ultimate Christmas pudding, and reading the recipe in Grandma’s handwriting just makes it extra special as I think of her every time I make it. I’m not someone who loves making desserts but this is extremely easy and turns out perfectly every time. Serve with brandy sauce or custard and enjoy – and Merry Christmas! (more…)

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Tarka Dal Recipe

There are some acts in cooking that have an inherently timeless feel to them, acts such pounding spices in a mortar and pestle or turning meat that is sizzling over an open flame. Making dal and flatbread also has this feel; after all, for thousands of years and across continents women have had dried pulses and flour available and, with the help of seasonings and oil, have created tasty, hearty, warming and economical meals from these basically tasteless primary ingredients. I love the feeling of kneading dough for my roti while smelling and stirring the dal simmering away on the stovetop – it reminds me that all over the world there are meal-makers doing the exact same thing. We may have varying equipment available to us, but we’re all aiming for the same end result: a thick, creamy dal full of flavour that has you eating it uncontrollably straight out of the pot and accompanied by a crispy, chewy flatbread, glistening with ghee or oil, that is just made for mopping up the delicious dregs. (more…)

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Quick Roti Bread Recipe

Roti (flatbread)

This recipe is simple and indispensable. It takes minutes to make and adds a real flair and excellent texture to any Indian meal – and it’s heaps better and cheaper than any store bought variety! Makes enough for 4 good sized breads.

300gm plain flour

1tsp salt

2tsp sugar

1 egg, beaten

½ cup warm water

Ghee or melted butter, for brushing

Mix the flour, salt and sugar together; combine the egg and water in another bowl. Add to the dry mix and work together with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture is starting to come together, turn out onto a board and knead until smooth, around 5 minutes.

Wrap in cling wrap and leave to sit for ½ hour before using; this can also be kept and used the next day.

To cook: divide the dough into 4 pieces. Preheat a frying pan over medium heat. Dust a board with flour and roll out the first piece to a size that will cover the bottom of your frying pan. Brush one side with ghee and add to the frying pan, ghee side down. Cook for a minute, then brush the top side with ghee. Once you see puffy bubbles appearing like this:

roti is ready to turn over. It will only need another 30 seconds to a minute on the second side.

Repeat with remaining dough.

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Roast chicken generally is a good thing. Roast chicken with glossy, deep red and sticky-crispy skin paired with meltingly tender meat that literally falls off the bone is love at first bite. This recipe yields just that. The first time I made it we were living in the tiniest little flat Ringwood has ever seen and using the dodgiest oven an estate agent has ever got away without replacing and it was still amazing. Now I have a swish and shiny fan forced oven and it’s even better. You can play around with the recipe times of course – the original recipe from Recipzaar  calls for a 5 hour cook and is perfect as written here, but if I am roasting potatoes etc alongside the chicken then I’ll slow roast the bird for 3-3½ hours or so on low heat and then crank up the oven for an hour to cook the veggies and to crisp up the skin a bit. Oh, and this makes the best gravy in the world. It is a spicy roast chicken so cut down the peppers and paprika if you’re being cautious. (more…)

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Sometimes I find a recipe that looks too simple and easy to be true. So few ingredients, such basic technique – surely it couldn’t yield a sauce with so many flavour layers, a sauce that inspires a desire to shove my head right into the blender and lick any remaining drops from the blades? You know you’re onto a winner when possible mutilation becomes secondary to having just one more taste… Although we ate the sauce simply on spaghetti with parmesan, I also thought that this would make one of the best pizza sauces I’d ever had. It’s got the sort of flavours that inspires you to think what else you could use it for – I’d recommend doubling the recipe at the very least – after all, its not every day you make a Napoli sauce this good.

The recipe is from an upcoming cookbook to be published in April 2010 called Just Add Spice. The book not only looks lush and stunning but actually has recipes in it that you’d want to make – an unusual combination in cookbooks these days. When I first mixed up the spices that went into this amazing sauce, I was doubtful – the mix just didn’t smell ‘right’ for a tomato sauce. But I don’t mind being proved wrong by a delicious end result! (more…)

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Richly flavoured yet light; salty with the goodness of that elusive umami taste but tempered with a subtle bite; slippery noodles and crisp-tender veggies – this dish has it all. Like all stir fries, you do have to chop everything up before you cook, but it’s all worth it five minutes later when you have such a delicious dinner. Black Bean Chicken is what I call a safe dish – this means that you can serve it to your spice-fearing inlaws, your vegetable-hating children and your chilli-loving foodies and they will all think that it’s tops! And yes, I have road tested it all all groups – the children may not be mine but coming back for seconds is always a good sign. A big bag of fermented black beans will set you back around $1.50 from an Asian grocer and will last forever; you only need a small amount to flavour a whole dish. Don’t be tempted to be heavy handed or you’ll end up with a salty disaster! At which point you have two choices depending on your mental state: A) cook something else as you’ve just wasted all those ingredients or B) have a mildly hysterical breakdown until your resigned husband offers takeaway and a large glass of wine.

This recipe is based on Barbara’s over at Tigers and Strawberries – and that woman knows how to cook! (more…)

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