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Mexican Dips > Salsa 26 May 2008

Posted by cath in easy, herbs, ingredients, mildly spicy, Recipes, shopping notes, variations, very spicy.
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Simple, spicy, tasty – try this salsa to go with all kinds of foods – not just mexican! I use leftovers in cheese sandwiches, with cold meats and salads, and of course as a relish for home-made burgers…

Ingredients

Tomatoes – 8-10 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped*

2 Spring onions – finely chopped

Garlic – 2-3 cloves (to taste) crushed and chopped fine

Coriander leaf and stalk – small bunch, chop stalks finely, leaves roughly

Red/green chillies – 2-5 (to taste) chopped finely

1 tsp dried oregano

salt/pepper

tequila – 1 tbsp

lime juice – 1-2 tbsp (to taste).

Preparation

Combine everything in a bowl. Keeps in the fridge until needed.

If you’re pressed for time you can even chop everything roughly and blitz it in a hand blender or similar.  I prefer it more rustic, but you can also blend it until it’s smooth if you prefer.

* Out of season, you can use tinned tomatoes, although I recommend draining them well first or the salsa will be very runny (use the juice in the chilli con carne, or reserve for pasta sauce, stews etc. – it keeps well in the fridge).

For something a little different try a tin of green tomatoes – again drain before use and substitute for the red tomatoes. You can buy green tomatoes in tins from Lupe Pintos in Edinburgh.

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Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 25 February 2008

Posted by cath in general info, Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients, shopping notes.
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Go on! Try something fairtrade this fortnight…or any fortnight!

This is my review of fairtrade goodies. The list is evolving as I try and test fairtrade stuff available from local shops in my area.

1. Fairtrade Vanilla Ice Cream

Cream o Galloway – this one is locally produced using fairtrade sugar and vanilla, also uses organic egg yolks, so no concerns about the quality of life of those laying hens. I loved it, and can’t wait to try the chocolate flavour…

I’ve also tried Ben&Jerrys – this one also uses fairtrade sugar and vanilla, they also use free range eggs in their products which is reassuring. Again, a good quality ice-cream and a little easier to find in the shops from this popular brand name.

2. A bit early for Easter…but… Fairtrade Mini Eggs

Dubble Speckled Eggs – finally an ethical mini egg. The good news is that it tastes great, and with fairtrade vanilla, sugar and chocolate it is good too! I’ve seen them in the One World Shop, also in Oxfam shops around the country.

The fairtrade chocolate from Dubble and Divine tastes excellent, so make sure you go fairtrade for all your Easter eggs. There are also other varieties and brands to consider. See the fairtrade website for more details about fairtrade chocolate

3. Fairtrade Cola

Yes, there is an alternative to Pepsi and Coca Cola…and it is Ubuntu cola (not to be mistaken for the Linux distribution of the same name!*).

You can buy it in the One World Shop up here in Edinburgh, it is a very tasty cola made with fairtrade sugar (they state they are also going to try to source fairtrade caffeine from the fairtrade coffee industry which is interesting too). Check out the Ubuntu-Trading Website for more info and stockists in your area.

4. Fairtrade Vanilla

I’ve tried a couple of brands of fairtrade vanilla pods (Barts Spices and Ndali) and have recently tried the Ndali Vanilla Extract. This has been quite useful in brownie making – and is a lot less hassle than the pods. The extract is very different to the synthetic vanilla flavours I remember from years ago, and definitely worth a try if your a fan of vanilla.

5. Fairtrade Coffee – the old favourite

It has been a long time that Fairtrade coffee has been in the shops and in our coffee houses. Make sure you get a fairtrade cup – ask next time you order a coffee and make sure your cupboard at home/work is also stocked up with fairtrade:

Cafe-direct now does a massive range of coffee and more products besides.

Scotmid (or the Co-op) also has a full range of coffee and chocolate, also much much more, check out their website for more details.

Espresso Ground Coffee…

We’ve always found it hard to get good espresso coffee to make at home, but can recommend Clipper Espresso (with the picture of the Three Graces on the front). Great for use in your stove-top coffee pot.

6. Fairtrade Cooked & Canned Beans!

No, I’m not talking about baked beans! (but I can recommend Scotmid Organic Baked Beans, although presently they are not fairtrade).

These are Aduki Beans – a small, red bean – nutty and delicious. Particularly good as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes like cottage pie etc.

I’ve just made a vegetable and bean chilli con carne with Suma Organic, Fairtrade Aduki Beans, Black Eye & Kidney beans too, with lots of veg. The tinned beans are pre-cooked so they are very quick and easy to use. They don’t require lots of soaking/blanching etc. Best of all, they are now fairly traded.

Look out for them in your local shops. I’ll post my veggie chilli recipe soon…

7. Fairtrade Bananas – Let them loose!

I would love to eat more fairtrade bananas, but I have a problem buying the plastic packs of 7 or so bananas ubiquitously available in the supermarkets today. I don’t want 7 bananas, sometimes I just want one for lunch or as a healthy afternoon snack. Well, during fairtrade fortnight, I went in search of the humble loose fairtrade banana, with very little luck I’m afraid. I asked at several local shops who had the fairtrade poster up, but their bananas were not fairtrade! But I did find small packets of bananas in my local Scotmid – I got a pack of three for 54p – good value, but why the plastic packaging I wonder?

Quite unexpectedly I finally found the illusive loose fairtrade banana in my local Margiotta (a local chain of shops in Edinburgh) in Marchmont. The price was higher than Scotmid, but I was able to buy two individual (not plastic wrapped) fairtrade (with the mark on a sticker) bananas for 55p. Come on shops – lets see more of this please!

8. Other Fairtrade Fruits

Fairtrade oranges and citrus fruits have been in my local Scotmid, and some other supermarkets for a while now, but this fortnight I’ve been looking for more options. I’ve tried fairtrade grapes from Marks & Spencers this week, they were very nice, and good value due to being half-price (I expect that was just for fairtrade fortnight though!).

Other good ones to look out for are pineapple, mango and avocado – available from a lot of supermarkets, and some local organic stores.

8. Fairtrade Sugar

Nowadays you can buy a lot of different sugars, granulated, white, soft brown etc. Sadly I’ve not yet found any icing sugar for my brownie mix, so I’ll keep looking. Make sure your sugar bowl is full of fairtrade!

9. Fairtrade Cotton Anyone?

OK so it’s not food, but check out the increasing availability of fairtrade cotton for your clothes. I love People Tree and the One World Shop…but there is a lot more to choose from nowadays.

 

There is a lot more information on Fairtrade including product listings and brands. Check out the Fairtrade Website for more details.

 

 

 

 

*if you are actually interested in Ubuntu Linux (an open-source, free operating system), the website is: http://www.ubuntu.com/

Moroccan Tagine with Lemon, Olives and Potatoes 31 January 2008

Posted by cath in Fish, freeze-friendly, ingredients, mildly spicy, Recipes.
5 comments

This is a recipe I made a few times, and each time I forget to photograph it. Oops. I’ve now made it with some monkfish, and with chicken (thighs/legs – skin, bones and all), lamb or mutton works a treat, and is definitely my favourite. I also tried mutton and aubergines and it worked really well.

I have never been to Morocco, but apparently this tastes authentic (and of course really delicious!).

I tend to add plenty of vegetable to my meals, and this tagine can also have other ingredients added to it. Try adding spinach (just stir in plenty at the last minute and heat until wilted) or baby carrots (added for the last 8-10 minutes of cooking). Try other seasonal vegetables as well.

For the charmoula I borrowed a recipe from Rick Stein’s Seafood and made some amendments, particularly to the amount of chilli – but this is still a mild dish. For those of you who like it hot, I’ve also added a cheating harrissa style sauce which is easy and quick to make. Use it to add some extra chilli flavour to your dish and/or plate – it also makes a great dip for bread or pita.

Serve the tagine with some couscous, one idea for that is at the bottom of the page.

Here’s my latest picture – this was the left overs, nicely stored away for later in the week – and it tasted great a few days later. Mutton and Aubergine Tagine:

Mutton and Aubergine Tagine
Tagine, topped with Harrissa and Toasted Almonds

Couscous and Pita Bread

Couscous and Homemade Pita Bread

Ingredients

Stew base:

1-2 large onions (red or white), sliced finely
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 inch piece of ginger, finely shredded or grated
1-2 sticks celery, finely sliced (optional)
1 stick cinnamon
6-10 good quality tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use 1 tin of plum tomatoes)
1 handful of dried fruit (prunes, apricots or whatever you prefer), finely chopped
1 pint of fresh stock
1 glass dry white wine
Lemon rind from 1 lemon, finely shredded
6-8 queen green olives (stoned), roughly chopped (plus a few extra to serve with the dish)
8 new potatoes, or small waxy potatoes – washed but left whole (if possible)
1/2 can chickpeas (optional)
bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
handful toasted flaked almonds (make extra for the couscous too)
1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve

Charmoula:

3-4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 red finger chilli, roughly chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (remove rind and reserve)
1½ tsp paprika
pinch saffron strands (optional, but will give a good colour)
pinch salt

Harrissa:

(should make you enough to have some left over as a dip!)

4 red finger chillies, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons (reserve the rind for couscous)
4 tbps extra virgin olive oil

Meat or Fish

This makes a large stew, good for 6-8 people. You will need about 600g fish, or 1-2 chicken thigh (or leg) per person or about 1kg of lamb or mutton (shoulder cut into large chunks) – up to you!

Method

  1. Sweat the onion, celery, garlic and ginger in some olive oil, long and slow until very soft but not browned.
  2. While the base is cooking slowly, make the pastes. Blend all the ingredients for the harrissa in a mini-processor or similar. It should be a thin paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Set aside.
  3. Then blend together all the ingredients for the charmoula – use the same processor, no need to wash out. Again this will be a thin paste. Taste, adjust seasoning and set aside.
  4. Add all the charmoula paste to the pan with the cinnamon stick and a few spoonfuls of harrissa (to taste, adding heat, garlic and lemon). Stir well and let fry for a minute.
  5. Add the raw meat (chicken or lamb) now and stir round in the charmoula to cover. (For fish, just add the fish later to gently cook through before serving).
  6. Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, lemon rind, dried fruit and half of the chopped olives bring to the boil and simmer gently with the lid on.
  7. Add the potatoes and simmer for the final 40 minutes.
  8. You will need to simmer the dish for at least 40 minutes to get the flavours to blend and cook the potatoes. Then add the chickpeas and heat through.

You will need to adjust the total cooking time depending on your choice of meat or fish: chicken thighs or legs on the bone (approx. 40mins-1 hour); stewing lamb or mutton (3 hours or more); large chunks of monkfish (10-15 minutes at the end after the potatoes are cooked).

After the meat or fish is cooked, remove from the heat.

Sprinkle over the other half of the olives, coriander leaf. Serve with a wedge of lemon, the harrissa, olives, pita or other fresh bread and some couscous.

Couscous:

A very simple, tasty and gorgeous looking couscous dish:

350 ml chicken stock
300g couscous
rind from 1 lemon, finely chopped or grated
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20-30g toasted flaked almonds (toast in a dry frying pan and be careful not to burn them)
Chopped dried fruit, e.g. apricots, prunes, sultanas etc.
handful chopped mint
handful chopped coriander
rest of the can of chickpeas (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the stock until boiling then pour in the couscous and the lemon rind. Stir and remove from heat, covering with a lid or foil. Leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid, fluff up the grains with a fork.
  3. Return the couscous to the heat, drizzle over olive oil and chickpeas. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Fold in almonds, fruit, herbs and season with some harrissa to taste.

You can reheat the prepared couscous again in the microwave or in the oven, but it’s best to add some fresh herbs at the end to liven up the flavours again.

Pita Bread:

A very simple, quick and tasty pita bread:

1/2 tsp dried yeast
150g white (strong bread) flour
100g wholemeal (strong bread) flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
150 ml water

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients together. I use the pizza dough setting on the breadmaker (this is a 45 minute program consisting a 10-15 min knead, 10-15 min rise, then another 10 min knead and 10 min rise – so probably easy enough by hand for those who want to try that).
  2. Divide the dough up into 4-6 balls, roll them out into oval shapes of about 5 mm thickness. I’ve been told the secret is to make sure you roll them out on both sides – this ensures they puff up to create the classic pocket.
  3. Prove for 8-10 minutes (I have also left them longer and that’s been fine, or put the dough balls in the fridge overnight to use the next day).
  4. Bake in a very hot oven (220 degC or higher if you can) for about 6-8 minutes and serve immediately.

You can reheat them, but they can easily crisp up a bit too much, which is why I prefer to reserve some dough in the fridge to freshly bake with any leftovers.

Hope you enjoy my Moroccan feast! If you have a breadmaker, check out the pita bread, or flatbread recipes. They are very quick an easy and go really well with this dish.

P.S. comments as usual are welcome – particularly any mistakes, or anything you don’t understand.

Preparing the Charmoula

Making the Charmoula

Bowl of Harrissa

Bowl of freshly made Harrissa

(chilli, garlic, lemon and olive oil)

A quick snap of my chicken tagine – unfortunately not a particularly well presented dish that time – and I’d already started tucking in…

Quick Snap of the Tagine - before it was all gone!

Chicken, Vegetable and Olive Tagine, with Couscous and Pita Bread

**NEW**

Print the text of the ingredients and recipe: Moroccan Tagine (Opens a .doc file).

Mushrooms 11 September 2007

Posted by cath in ingredients, shopping notes.
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No recipe today! Instead I offer an inspiration of mushrooms. Taken at Bakewell Farmers Market, Derbyshire. A fantastic stall and very popular…as it should be!

Mushroom Stall at Bakewell Market

Mushrooms Galore.

Thai Food > Green Curry 3 February 2007

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, ingredients, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, very spicy.
6 comments

Perhaps the most well known Thai curry in the UK. I have a slightly different recipe which recreates the hot, spicy, sweet and sour curry without as much salt as many shop-bought pastes.

Green Curry

I’ve adapted this recipe from the one I learned in a Thai cooking school. It’s interesting to note that it is not the usual recipe you see in books, the special ingredient we were taught to include in the curry paste is Thai Sweet Basil. This is a good time of year to pick up some imported items for a change – if only to avoid another portion of cabbage!

Gaeng Kiawan Gai
(Green Curry with Chicken)

Serves 4 with steamed rice as a lunch or dinner, or more as one dish in a traditional meal
Ingredients:

  • 300-500g chicken (breast works very well in this dish, but use whatever you have) – thinly sliced
  • 750mls coconut milk – separated into thick and thin (you can do this by putting a tin in the fridge and then it’s easy to pour the thin coconut milk out – the thick milk will solidify at the top of the tin)
  • 80g (3 tablespoons) home-made green curry paste (2 tbsp of bought paste)
  • 5 apple egg plants – cut into quarters (do not do this in advance as the egg plants will brown)
  • A handful of small, pea egg plants – removed from their stalks
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves – torn into pieces, discarding stem
  • 1 big green chilli – sliced
  • 1 big red chilli – sliced
  • Dash of lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • A handful or two of Thai sweet basil leaves

Method:

  1. First, heat up the oil in a pan. Then add the green curry paste and fry for about 4 minutes until the paste is cooked.
  2. Then add most of the thick coconut milk and mix in until you form a thick, smooth curry base. If your home-made paste is a bit coarse, you can liquidise this mixture to create a smoother look.
  3. Now add most of the thin coconut milk. Stir and heat to combine. (This part of the curry base can be made in advance and then left to cool until required.)
  4. Bring the curry base up to a simmer and add the thin chicken slices. Keep simmering gently for about 5 minutes until the chicken is nearly cooked through. As long you’ve cut the chicken strips thinly, this shouldn’t take too long.
  5. Cut and add the apple egg plants and bring to the boil again, simmer for about 4 minutes more.
  6. Add the pea egg plants and simmer again for a few minutes.
  7. Then add the fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves, stir and heat through.
  8. Turn off the heat, transfer into a serving bowl (if required) and garnish with big chillies, basil leaves and dash of lime juice to taste.

For a fancy finish: add a swirl of the leftover coconut milk by re-combining some thick and thin coconut milk in a small cup, pour some into the centre of the serving dish then quickly and gently stir to create a swirl of white against the green base.

Serve with fresh steamed Thai fragrant rice

Variations

Fish, prawns or beef all work well in the green curry. All meats and fish can be cooked in the same manner, with some variation in cooking time:

  • Beef steak, cut thinly can be used much like chicken, or cooked for even less time as you prefer.
  • Prawns take a very short amount of time and therefore should be placed in the curry sauce last, for 1-2 minutes to cook.
  • Monkfish is excellent in this dish, and needs less cooking than meat, add the chunks of fish about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Other white fish also works well.
  • Left-over roast meat (beef, chicken etc.) can also be used, just thinly slice and add to the sauce for 1-2 minutes to heat through at the end.

Pork benefits from a 30 minute pre-cook in thin coconut milk, see the panang recipe for more details.

Add other vegetables as well as or instead of Thai aubergines.

Vegetarian options:

Green curry makes a good vegetarian option, although you will have to miss out the fish sauce and replace this with soy sauce for strict vegetarians. Also make sure you miss out the shrimp paste from the curry paste.

Try different combinations of vegetables, depending on the time of year:

Baby corn, mange tout, courgette, purple aubergine, carrot, potato, cauliflower.

Cooking Chinese 6 December 2006

Posted by cath in Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients, Recipes, shopping notes, stir-fry.
3 comments

A Note About Chinese Supermarket Goodies

If you enjoy stir-frying, then you’ll definitely want to pick up a few essentials from the Chinese Supermarket:

Shaoxing rice wine

Shaoxing Rice Wine

You can try using white wine, or if you happen to have some dry sherry, that would be better…but really there is nothing better than the real thing – it keeps well once opened.

Dried Shitake Mushrooms

Shitake Mushrooms - Dried

Really useful for more than just Chinese food…You only need to soak them for around 10 minutes in warm water, then chop and add to the dish. Some cooks suggest removing the more fibrous stalk – but it’s never done me any harm!

I also add chopped, soaked mushrooms them to risotto – and soaking a mixture of dried porcini, chanterelles and shitake for half an hour or so makes a fantastic mushroom stock for the risotto too.

I would also consider them as a substitute for fresh mushrooms in other recipes too.

Sesame oil

Sesame Oil

Also good for marinades and to add some nutty flavour to noodles.

Dried Noodles

Noodles

You can get a vast array of Chinese (and Japanese) style noodles, quick to cook so that always means fast food!

Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce

Excellent for a variety of marinades and sauces (including Sweet and Sour Sauce). Keeps (for ages, and I mean literally years) in a cold cupboard or in the fridge.

Vegetarians, look out for a mushroom version, which is very similar in style to this sauce and makes a good veggie substitute.

Soy Sauce – Light and Dark

Soy Sauces

A must have – and definitely worth buying these large bottles at the Chinese supermarket they are much cheaper than supermarket equivalents.

The Light version is usually added to cooking and to season the finished dishes.

The Dark version more often used in marinades.

New Thai Shop in Bruntsfield 20 August 2006

Posted by cath in Cooking Links, general info, Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients, shopping notes, Thai food.
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I spotted another shop offering fresh Thai produce, this time in Bruntsfield Place (near the fantastic Coco of Bruntsfield chocolate shop…but that’s another story…!)
Orient Thai Market (162-164 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh) has a small selection of fresh imported Thai goods (and can do special orders on request) and a wide range of canned and dried goods. There is a small Japanese section which could also be of interest.

It looks like another good place to go and pick up some fresh Thai basil leaves, galangal (ginza) and chillies. One more thing they have on offer is a recipe card and help finding the appropriate ingredients in store, and a Thai Tourism publication which has lots of information about Thai cuisine, ingredients and some recipes.

This means it’s time for me to get typing and give you all some new thai dishes to try too….

Following recipes and other controversial topics! 5 July 2006

Posted by cath in general info, help, Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, thai salad, thai soups, variations.
5 comments

One thing you all should know about cooking is that it’s all about personal taste. As the cook, you get to decide what ingredients to use and what your meal should taste like. For me, recipes are just guides, offering ideas and techniques, which are then adapted to what I have, what I like, who is coming round for the meal etc.

Variety is important. Everyone can have their own special way of making things, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you’re new to cooking, you may find it hard to deviate from recipes, so here are some tips on what to think about when reading a recipe.

There has been some controversy about my Laab recipe so lets start with some thoughts about Thai salads and other Thai food…

A recent post included another recipe for Laab. The two recipes are very similar – a couple of different ingredients, including sugar in the alternate recipe, and slightly different cooking techniques.

Cooking can be a controversial topic, and you’ll find many different ingredient lists and techniques for basically the same dish – Thai food is no different. Depending what ingredients you can find, you may have to adapt and look for substitutions. Also consider where you are, what your personal tastes are, and what about your guests? My Thai cookery teacher always asked what a dish needed when we tasted it…his response was always “more chilli!” so my recipes are pretty spicy reflecting this. Having tried both spicy and less spicy (when entertaining guests) I think it’s always worth adding a little more chilli than you think, the heat really works with Thai food.

Here are some other things to think about:

I don’t like adding extra sugar when it’s not required, so I would generally only add sugar to sweet and sour and possibly shop-bought panang paste. Its all about personal taste, but here in the UK we rarely need extra salt or sugar – this is not a tropical climate! So think about who’s going to be eating your meal, and where, before chucking in any sugar…

When you’re learning to cook it’s good if you taste your food before and after adding extra ingredients. Thai food has four main layers of flavour: salt, sugar, sour and spicy. If you taste before adding fish sauce or lime juice to a dish you can see what a difference these ingredients make. In my laab recipe, mint provides sweetness, with fish sauce, chillies and lime providing their usual salt, spice and sourness. If you like extra sour, add more lime juice at the end, as discussed elsewhere, cooking lime juice reduces it’s sourness. Taste and adjust until it’s what you like, or what you think your guests will enjoy.

Kaffir lime leaves are a common enough ingredient in salad, but I am not a big fan – I prefer fresh herbs such as mint and coriander as they are more widely available locally (in the UK). Lime leaves keep well in the freezer and are a good ingredient to have on hand frozen to add to soups and curries for an extra lemony flavour. But frozen leaves don’t work quite so well chopped up in salads. If you want to try lime leaves in salads look out for fresh lime leaves and use them promptly.

Now for the most controversial topic – do we marinate the meat (albeit for just a few minutes) before cooking, or after! My recipe recommends adding flavour including lime juice to the mince before cooking, then cooking it all up. This is the recipe I was taught, but more interestingly, it is a technique I watched many times on stalls and in restaurants. Some Thai (and other regional) dishes are actually not cooked: prawns and other meats are sometimes ‘cooked’ by just marinating in lime juice – the acid in the juice ‘cooks’ the meat or fish so it’s technically no longer raw. In the case of Laab, this was always the first step, you will see the meat take on a less raw appearance as its sits in the lime juice while you prepare the rest of the dish. Cooking in this case just heats up the salad, properly cooking it where appropriate, Thai meat salads are usually served warm. Adding the hot meat to the herbs in the serving dish really brings out their aroma. Remember if you cook the meat for long, the lime juice sourness will dissipate so add some more at the end.

So: cook, taste, add the next flavour, taste again…this is the best way to learn and adapt to your palette and to understand the effect of making substitutions.

Sandwiches 21 June 2006

Posted by cath in bread, ingredients, Recipes, vegetables.
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Can a sandwich really be a recipe? well, who cares – having made some beautiful home-baked bread, what better way to enjoy it than to have some healthy sandwiches.

Beetroot sandwich

Here are my favourite fillings:

Pastrami, guacamole, salsa and Jarlseberg

Hard goats cheese (such as Brinkburn), tomato and rocket

Any cheese with tomato and basil

Cheese salad with beetroot

Roast beef (left over topside), horseradish, mayonaise, tomato and salad

Left over roast chicken, english or dijon mustard, mayonaise and salad

Left over spicy chicken, mayonaise and rocket or salad

Ham (from Pipperfield Pork at the Farmer's Market), mustard, tomato and salad

Ham, cheese and coleslaw

 

 

Substitute sunblush or sundried tomatoes in winter, but use only the freshest tomatoes in summer! Go on, make some bread, have a nice fresh sandwich with no paper or plastic cartons, no waste, nothing artificial, just pure goodness…

 

 

Herbs: The Windowsill Garden 8 June 2006

Posted by cath in general info, herbs, Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients, Recipes.
8 comments

I love cooking with herbs, fresh, fragrant, delicious. I used to be forever going to the grocers and other shops hunting for bunches of fresh mint, basil, oregano, bay leaves, chives, in fact most herbs…

Herbs

My Windowsill Herb Garden

Bay tree

The Kitchen Bay Tree

 

…Not any longer! Now I grow my own herbs on the windowsill. Well, to be more accurate it is a table by the window and I still don't have corriander or oregano, but it has revolutionised cooking and taking care of, snipping and using the homegrown herbs is a great feeling.

Now I was suspicious at first, after all, growing herbs indoors seemed a bit lame…but I live in a sunny flat and I've always wanted to give it a go. I've gradually built up the collection but now have several basil plants, some mint and chives grown from splitting and repotting "growing herbs" from the Coop, and some plants from Dobbies (Garden Centre): a largish pot of garden mint, a small black peppermint plant, thyme, lemon thyme, marjoram, rosemary and parsley. In the kitchen I've also got my Bay tree and some chives.

All the herbs are a couple of months old now, and they are all doing very well. For the small expense at the garden centre, I've got more herbs than I need and they are growing strongly. Even my attempts to repot individual basil and mint plants from the shops has been a massive success. We've had plenty of basil for tomato sauces, cheese sandwiches and other pasta and vegetable dishes…we've also been drinking up plenty of fresh mint tea in the evenings and have made mint sauce and Laab (thai salad) with the growing mint too. In fact, the more I use the herbs, the more they grow…it's been a real time and money saver all in all, and a very tasty one too!

Where to grow them 

I grow most of the herbs in a sunny (south facing) window of a small room – door closed most of the time, it's my personal greenhouse. The room is not draughty at all and gets quite hot in the summer sun.

The bay tree is happy in the kitchen, again by the window, although this is a North North West (ish!) facing window , it does get some evening sunshine, but only a touch – and it's loving it there where there is plenty of light. It has been growing like mad.

Growing Herbs anyone? 

If you tend to buy pots of growing herbs, I would recommend getting them out of those poky wee pots and splitting up the best seedlings into larger pots of compost, 3 or 4 basil plants to a pot, more for mint or chives. I usually stick all the weedier seedlings back in the original pot and use them first, giving the better plants a chance to develop. When you're cropping the plants, remove a whole stem, say above the first two leaves…the plant literally grows two stems where you cut one off, so you should have loads of herbs within weeks. Basil and mint have worked particularly well as I use them most often. Of course you have to feed the plants once in a while, I've been recomended Tomorite and will be watering them with a weak solution once a week.

Get growing your own herbs too! 

Even if you don't have green-fingers, this is definately something to try. Start off with some growing basil or nip down to the garden centre and try it yourself. Highly recommended by the cookalicious tasters!