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Masala papad 6 February 2012

Posted by cath in mildly spicy, Recipes, shopping notes.
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Everyone loves poppadums… don’t they?
When I was young, living with my family in Hong Kong, we used to eat a lot of Indian meals out at a restaurant called ‘The Tandoor’ if i remember correctly. They had a dish there which we all loved called masala papad and although i don’t know their recipe, this is inspired by memories of that place.

Basically, it’s a poppadum topped with fresh tomato, onion and herbs. You have to add the topping at the last minute, but it looks and tastes great.

image

A picture of tonight’s starter of masala papad.

Here’s how you make it…

Finely chop a small onion, a few ripe tomatoes, a clove of garlic, some fresh chili and coriander leaf. Mix together with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Leave to let the flavours mix.

Then cook some poppadums. I use the hotplate on the aga but you can also cook them in the microwave. I love the flavoured ones you can buy from Asian shops, like these:

image

Once cooked, the poppadums can be topped with a sprinkle of the tomato mixture, try to drain each spoonful on the side as too much liquid will make the poppadums soggy! Eat right away.

Of course you can just have poppadums with a range of chutneys instead, but either way i would definitely recommend cooking your own. Try it and see!

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Mexican Dips > Guacamole 5 June 2008

Posted by cath in easy, mildly spicy, Recipes.
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Yes its more Thai-style Mexican food with this rustic guacamole. It’s more of a chunky avocado salad than a traditional creamy guacamole, but I really like it.

When you’re making salsa, double the quantities of garlic, spring onion, chilli and coriander, juice another lime and do a couple of extra fresh tomatoes, then you can easily make both dips.

Ingredients

2-3 Avocados

2 fresh tomatoes – chopped finely

Chilli (red is best), garlic, spring onion, coriander – all chopped finely

Lime juice

Method

Scoop out the flesh of 2-3 ripe avocados and roughly chop into smallish cubes. Do this quickly, put it in a bowl and add a splash of lime juice to stop it browning.

Add the chopped chilli garlic, spring onions, tomatoes, coriander and a splash more lime juice (reserve some).

Mix well.

Press down to make the surface flat, then cover with a thin layer of lime juice. This keeps the guacamole from going brown.

Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until needed. Before serving mix up again and add a garnish of fresh coriander leaves and/or chilli slices.

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.

Basic Recipes > Chilli with Beans 4 April 2008

Posted by cath in mildly spicy, Recipes, variations, vegetables, very spicy.
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My recipe for chilli is slightly inspired by Thai cuisine as I used to eat these very hot chilli con carnes out in Thailand. The recipe is quite spicy, with lots of fresh chillies, coriander and lime. Its nickname is “Tom Yum” Chilli because my Thai friend thought that it tasted like the hot and spicy Thai soup. Of course you should adjust the amount of chilli to your tastes.

This recipe below is actually a fantastic vegetarian chilli san carne, or you could try a variation with meat if you prefer.

Add guacamole and salsa, some tortilla wraps or chips to accompany the dish. You can use the basic stew recipe to make a variety of different Mexican inspired dishes…like this toasted chilli wrap.

 

Toasted Tortilla

Toasted Tortilla with Chilli, Sour cream, Salsa and Guacamole

Ingredients

1 tin Aduki beans, rinsed and drained then slightly crushed

1 tin Black-eyed beans, rinsed and drained then slightly crushed

1 tin Kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 small handful of each red split lentils and puy lentils – rinsed (uncooked)

1 large onion – chopped

1 leek – sliced finely

2-3 sticks celery – finely chopped or grated

1/2 golden beetroot – grated (If you want to use purple beetroot, use sparingly as they will bleed purple into everything!)

1 small carrot – grated

6-8 cloves garlic – crushed and finely chopped

1 large handful of coriander (leaf, stalk & roots, if available)

4 large red or green chillies – finely chopped (or to taste, remove the seeds for less heat)

1 large red chilli sliced for garnish

1 Bay leaf

1-2 heaped tsp cumin powder (to taste)

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 pinch smoked paprika

1-2 tsp chilli powder (cayenne pepper)

2 tbsp dried oregano (use fresh instead or as well if you can get it)

salt and pepper

1 large glass red wine (or a small glass of port)

2 tins tomatoes (or use fresh chopped tomatoes)

A selection of vegetables like mushrooms, peppers, spinach – diced/chopped as appropriate

Juice of 1 lime

Method

  1. Heat a large pan, add a few tablespoons of oil (like Oleifera), you may need more as you cook all the vegetables.
  2. Fry the onion on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Just start to soften the onion, not brown it (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the celery, leek and again fry off gently until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes), stirring gently.
  4. Then add the grated carrot and beetroot, fry, stirring gently – add a spoon more oil as required but don’t make it too greasy.
  5. Add the garlic, and taking the stalks and root from the coriander (save the leaf for later), chop finely and add to the pan. Stir again.
  6. [If you are using mince pork or beef, add it here and brown gently, stirring.]
  7. Now add the spices to the pan, the bay leaf and the dried oregano, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix well and let fry gently for a minute.
  8. Get the crushed aduki and black eye beans, and the lentils and stir them into the pan with the spiced ingredients. Mix everything well.
  9. Add the wine, stir and let the alcohol evaporate.
  10. Add the tomatoes, break up the tinned tomatoes with the spoon. Stir well to combine. Add a large glass of water, and keep some at the side to add as required to loosen the mixture.
  11. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  12. Add the chopped mushrooms and fresh oregano if you have it.
  13. Simmer the dish with the lid partially on for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding extra cold water if required (particularly if you are cooking lentils).
  14. With 10-15 minutes to go before you serve, add the peppers, check the seasoning and add more fresh chilli if required to taste.
  15. Add the drained kidney beans to heat through.
  16. With 5 minutes to go, stir in the spinach to wilt.
  17. Then remove from the heat, finish off with chopped coriander leaf and lime juice.

Serve with rice and sour cream.

Tips and Variations

Chilli is lovely with just mixed beans and vegetables as in the ingredients shown here, but you could also make it with pork or beef mince. Just substitute the meat for some or all of the beans and lentils. Add meat at the frying stage.

You can make chilli in advance as well. Remember that any beans in the dish will have continued absorbing liquid and flavour, which means you will need loosen the sauce with some extra cold water as you reheat it.

You can use any type of bean, or a mixture of different beans and lentils as I’ve used here. To save time, I usually use tins of pre-cooked beans, which will disintegrate more into the dish, but I also add some uncooked lentils to balance the different textures. Simmering the tinned beans gently in the sauce allows them to soak up the flavours. If you have time you could use dried beans and make everything from scratch – that way they will absorb even more flavour.

You can add any root vegetables you like – just grate and sweat them off in the base – they stew and melt into the sauce adding lots of flavour.

Chunks of mushrooms and peppers make a good addition to the dish, although you could use other vegetables – just put them in the sauce at the appropriate time to cook them through.

If you have any, you can also add some chopped fresh tomatoes at for a minute or two at the end of cooking for a fresher flavour (in season). Or try a tin of Mexican green tomatillos.

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).

Vegetables > Spiced Red Cabbage 17 January 2007

Posted by cath in easy, mildly spicy, Recipes, variations, vegetables.
1 comment so far

Roast Pork with Red Cabbage

Spiced Red Cabbage with Roast Pork, Parsnip, Mash, Apple Sauce

Cabbage is easy to get hold of this time of year. This is a nice way to cook red cabbage. The cooking method can be used with various herbs, spices and flavours in the cooking liquid. It can also be adapted for other cabbages, with different amounts of liquid and length of cooking time.

This recipe is for red cabbage with ginger, apple and nutmeg in a port and wine vinegar sweet and sour glaze. It’s all in one pot, and takes up to an hour to cook slowly followed by a quick simmer to reduce any excess liquid to a syrupy sauce.

This makes a large quantity (using up a whole cabbage) – but it keeps well in the fridge for 5 days. Reheat batches in the microwave for about 5 minutes or in a small pan on a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 red cabbage – shredded (less than 1cm thick strips)

1 red onion – thinly sliced

1 bramley apple or 2 tart smaller cooking apples – cored and sliced finely (no need to peel)

2 inches grated fresh ginger

1/4 of a grated nutmeg (don’t use the pre-grated stuff, it doesn’t provide enough flavour – buy whole nutmegs)

Salt and pepper

Butter and olive oil.

For the cooking liquor:

2 tbsp port

2 tbsp wine vinegar

1 cube frozen home-made chicken stock (or equivalent)

2 tbsp dark brown or muscovado sugar

4-8 tbsp water (as required)

Method:

Heat some butter and oil (roughly equal proportions) in a very large pan (large enough to fit all the shredded cabbage and other ingredients!) – use just enough so that it covers the bottom of the pan well.

Cook the onions on a low-medium heat until they are translucent but not browned, then add the apple and cook for a few minutes, stirring around.

Add the ginger, nutmeg. Stir through and cook for a minute more.

Rinse the red cabbage in a colander so that it is damp, add half of it straight to the hot pan and stir well. Then add the rest of the cabbage.

Add the cooking liquids.

Don’t worry that the liquid doesn’t cover the cabbage, it only has to provide steam for the cooking process. Any extra liquid you add will have to be reduced at the end of the cooking time, so keep it to a minimum. When you stir the dish occasionally during the cooking time you can add a splash or two of water if the pan is drying up.

Season well with pepper and a touch of salt.

Cover and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes until the cabbage had wilted. Then stir well to combine.

Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 30-50 minutes (depending how well done you want the cabbage and how thick you cut it), stirring occasionally.

Finally, when the cabbage is cooked remove the lid and turn the heat up to reduce any left over cooking liquor, stirring to coat the cooked cabbage in the thickened glaze.

Spiced Red Cabbage

Spiced Red Cabbage

Enjoy cookalicious cabbage! Great with sausages, roast pork, spicy chicken drumsticks…all kinds of things.

Variations:

Try using cinnamon, cloves, even dried chillies to make a fiery, extra spicy cabbage dish. You can use garlic, leeks or more onions instead of ginger too.

You can use almost any liquid. If you don’t want a sweet and sour effect using vinegar and sugar, just use more stock, water or wine instead.

For a savoy cabbage dish which is great with sausage and mash, try this which uses the basic method above with reduced cooking time and different flavours:

1 savoy cabbage – shredded (as above)

1 onion – finely sliced

1 stalk of celery – finely sliced

3-5 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 glass white wine

Oil, butter, salt and pepper

Cook the onion slowly in oil and butter, then add celery and finally the garlic – do not brown, cook until soft. Add the cabbage, season with salt and pepper and pour in the wine. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes until wilting nicely. Then reduce the heat and cook for up to 20 minutes until the cabbage is soft but not mushy. You may have to remove the lid to reduce any excess liquid in the pan for the last 5-10 minutes.

Garlic Savoy Cabbage
Garlic Braised Savoy Cabbage

Stir Fry > Spicy Sweet and Sour Pork with Vegetables 29 November 2006

Posted by cath in mildly spicy, Recipes, stir-fry, variations, vegetables.
2 comments

Sweet and Sour Pork - Cookalicious Style

Spicy Sweet and Sour Pork with Vegetables

 

This isn’t the battered pork balls that you may think of when you think of sweet and sour pork – instead, this is a Thai/Chinese fusion of healthy, local, in season vegetables, with lean pork, stir fried in a spicy sweet and sour sauce.

I like to try and encourage home cooking, and all in one dishes are a popular choice. The stir fry, although Asian in influence is made with mostly local produce – carrots, courgette, Savoy cabbage, sprouting broccoli, onions, garlic, mixed mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh coriander. The only imported ingredients are my chillies and ginger – not bad.

Any lean pork will do, here I’ve used tenderloin – that’s like the fillet of beef in pork. The meat has a mini-marinade before cooking. This is often the case with Chinese recipes and can be done for as little as 5-10 minutes, or you could leave it longer but not overnight. I usually prepare the meat first then leave it to marinade for a bit whilst I chop the vegetables.

 

Preparation

The sauce is easy – I’ve used it before.

  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice (from the tinned pineapple)
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a dash of tomato puree for colour.

Just mix it together in a bowl and set aside.

 

Sweet and Sour Ingredients

The ingredients

(Clockwise from Top-left: Sweet and Sour Sauce, Pineapple pieces, coriander, chili and tomatoes, chopped courgette and cabbage, carrot and broccoli, sliced onions, garlic and ginger. Bowl of mixed mushrooms in the centre.)

 

  1. Thinly slice the pork and combine it in a bowl with 1 tbsp dark or light soy sauce, 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or you can use white wine or dry sherry if you have it) and 1 tbsp sesame oil with 1 tbsp of cornflour.
  2. Chop the vegetables – carrots, courgette into thin sticks, cabbage thinly sliced, small sprouts of broccoli trimmed, slices of mushroom. You can chop more than you need for one night and keep half aside for an even quicker meal the next day. (If you have this dish with noodles rather than rice that also makes it quicker).
  3. Chop the base ingredients – thin slices of onion (red or white as you like), garlic and ginger.
  4. Chop a couple of tomatoes if you still have some from the “summer”, some chillies (2 large red chillies is a good heat) and some coriander stalk and leaf.
  5. Drain a tin of pineapple (natural juice or fresh if you can get it) and chop into bite-size pieces.

 

Cooking Instructions

When you’re ready to cook, start with the rice. The stir-fry will take only 5-10 minutes to complete, so when you’re ready to begin cooking, heat up the wok with a little oil (groundnut is good) in the base. Heat it up well, then add the sliced onion, followed by garlic and ginger. Stir fry for a few minutes but do not brown (particularly the garlic). You can add some chillies here if you want it hot and spicy.

Then add the marinaded pork and stir fry on a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until nearly cooked. You can choose to remove the pork, onions etc. now if you like – to stop the meat drying out and to give you more room for the vegetables – remove and leave on a warm plate.

Now add the carrots, mushrooms, then broccoli, cabbage and finally the courgette (add them in the order of size and crunchiness – carrot usually takes the longest unless it’s been grated.) Use the remaining pineapple juice and water to loosen the stir fry rather than adding more oil.

 

Stir fry until all the vegetables are cooked. Then put the pork back in the wok with the sauce and stir through, heating the sauce. Finally, add the pineapple, tomatoes and decorative chili slices. Sprinkle fresh coriander on the top and serve with the rice.

Yum!

Spicy Tomato Pasta with Homegrown Chillies 22 July 2006

Posted by cath in easy, freeze-friendly, mildly spicy, Recipes, summer, variations, very spicy.
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I’ve been growing chillies in the hottest, sunniest window of the house. Yesterday was finally time to try the first fruits.

I’ve got a mixture of red, purpley and still green chillies on the plant, so we tasted a bright red and a green one.

 

chillies fresh from the plant

homegrown chillies

 

An easy dinner, variation on the basic tomato sauce: Spicy Tomato sauce, this one has chorizo, chillies, basil and a ewes milk Parmesan style cheese:

Close up of finished dish

spaghetti with spicy tomato and chorizo sauce

 

First make your basic tomato sauce with 5 or 6 tomatoes per person.

Once the tomato sauce has cooked for an hour, put on the spaghetti in a large pot with plenty of boiling water.

Use about 2 chillies per person, or to taste. Two of my fresh homegrown chillies were sampled – very hot and fiery with a lovely fresh taste and amazing smell, 4 of these in 2 portions gave a pretty spicy dish). The red chili was hot but mellow and slightly sweet, the green chili was slightly hotter and fresher, more zingy in flavour.

You’ll also need a handful of basil, some grated Parmesan-style cheese, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. I’ve also used some chorizo, but this is optional.

 

  1. Finely chop the chillies – seeds and all if you want it properly spicy, add it to the sauce on the heat and continue to cook until the pasta is cooked
  2. Roughly chop the chorizo, if using
  3. One the pasta is cooked, drain it and return to the pan with some olive oil, swirl together
  4. Turn off the heat from the sauce, add chorizo, basil and stir through
  5. Serve the pasta, top with sauce and a sprinkling of cheese and a grind of pepper

Spicy Tomato Pasta

The finished dish

 

Easy Dinners > Chicken in the Oven 6 March 2006

Posted by cath in easy, mildly spicy, Recipes, Thai food, variations.
6 comments

Mildly SpicyThai Chicken in the Oven
(and some other variants)

A really easy way of cooking joints of chicken on the bone. The flavours can be adapted to almost anything from Thai (shown here) to Indian, Mexican, Italian by adding different herbs, spices, oils and liquids.

Follow the instructions and you will get both tender, succulent chicken and a golden, crispy skin – yum!

Serves 4 as a snack or starter on it’s own or as a main meal served with steamed rice, stir-fried vegetables and a tomato and mint sauce.

Ingredients:
8 Chicken Thighs, Legs or similar, on the bone (leave the skin on)
5 cloves of Garlic, crushed slightly and roughly chopped
1 small red onion or shallot, halved and thinly sliced
2 stalks Lemongrass, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1-2 inches of Ginza (Galangal) or Ginger, shredded or grated
Kaffir lime leaves, shredded
4 crushed dried birds-eye chillies, or finely chopped fresh chillies – to taste
Handful of coriander – stalk, finely chopped; leaves, roughly chopped and set aside
1 teaspoon palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)
2-3 tbsp Fish Sauce
1-2 limes or lemons, halved and juiced, then chopped into chunks
A splash of groundnut oil
Salt, freshly ground pepper, coriander seed and/or cumin seed

Method:

  1. Using a large roasting dish, place a large piece of tin foil inside and brush with a bit of oil. Make sure you have enough foil to create a closed pocket around the chicken for the first stage of cooking.
  2. Place the chicken into the foil-covered dish. Then add chopped ingredients except the coriander leaves (reserve for later).
  3. Add the liquids, oil and sugar. Mix well, ensuring each chicken joint is well covered and the lime chunks are spread out in the tin.
  4. You are aiming for a moist, chunky marinade, do not add too much liquid at this stage.
  5. Fold the tin foil into a loose fitting parcel and twist the edges together to form a tight seal.
  6. The mixture can be left to marinate for a short period (30 mins) or a few hours as desired.
  7. When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 180 degees C, then add the chicken parcel and bake for 30 mins. During this stage, the chicken is steaming, rather than roasting in the oven.
  8. If you’ve left the skin on the chicken, you’ll definitely want to brown the dish before serving. Remove from the oven, turn the oven up to 190 or 200 degrees C and open up the top of the parcel. The chicken should be cooked, so you just need to place it back in the oven uncovered to brown, this may take up to 15 minutes, this also reduces the juices down to a delicious spicy sauce.
  9. Serve hot from the oven, drizzled with the sauce and garnished with coriander leaves. Alternatively, serve cold with salad or in sandwiches.

Spicy Chicken

Here’s what it looks like after marinating, just seal up the foil and its ready to cook.

Notes:
Serving this as a main meal it goes well with rice or noodles and with stir-fried vegetables such as broccoli with sesame seeds on the side. For those who like it spicy, a mint and tomato sauce can be made as a cooling accompaniment. Simply add some chopped tin tomatoes or peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes to a small pan or frying pan, add some finely chopped mint and a sprinkling of sugar and heat through.

Mexican flavours: lime, garlic, fresh/ground coriander, spring onion, chillies, dark chocolate, lots of crushed cumin seeds, peppers, etc.

Italian flavours: aromatic herbs (i.e. thyme, rosemary), lemon, peppers, tomatoes, bay leaf, chillies etc.

Indian flavours: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, tumeric, cloves, cinnamon, fresh coriander, chillies lemon, peppercorns etc.

Other ideas: Simply use your favorite flavours, herbs and spices to create your own version.

Thai Recipes > Stir-Fry > Spicy Sweet & Sour Vegetables 1 March 2006

Posted by cath in mildly spicy, Recipes, stir-fry, Thai food, variations.
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Mildly SpicySpicy Sweet & Sour Vegetables

Serves 4 as a lunch or main meal with steamed rice

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons oil
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, sliced
½ cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into strips
1 courgette, cut into strips
8 baby corn, cut in half lengthways
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 handful beansprouts
150g tin pineapple cubes/chunks in natural juice
Big red chillies, use as many as required for desired spiciness, sliced (remove the seeds for a gentle heat)

For the Sauce:
1-2 tablespoons lime juice (roughly the juice of one plump lime)
3 level tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2-3 tablespoons pineapple juice from the tinned pineapple

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and set aside.
  2. Put the oil in a wok and fry the garlic for a minute or two until golden, add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower and carrot and stir-fry for about 3 minutes, then add the courgette, baby corn and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chillies, tomato and continue to stir until the vegetables are cooked (doesn’t take long).
  5. Add the pineapple, the sweet and sour sauce and stir to combine and heat until bubbling (this won’t take long in a hot wok).
  6. Then add the beansprouts and stir well again.

Serve immediately with steamed rice or noodles.

Tip!
Keep some of the pineapple juice or a cup of water by the wok. Use this instead of more oil to add to the ingredients to keep them loose in the wok. This allows the vegetables to steam-fry and reduces the oil content of the finished dish.

To get the most lime juice from a lime, just give it a quick roll on a chopping board with gentle pressure before cutting and squeezing it…this really works!

Variations:
This dish can also be made by adding strips of meat to the vegetables, stir-fry the strips of chicken, pork or beef in the garlic and onions and remove from the pan but keep warm. Then adding any seasonal vegetables and stir-fry as above. Return the cooked meat to the pan to combine at the end.

You can also use up pre-cooked meat in this dish, left-over roast chicken works well. Try marinading the cold chicken for half an hour or so in a little soy sauce, sesame oil and add a sprinkle of sesame seeds, before adding to the stir-fry to heat through.

You can use any vegetables that you like (or that are in season) in a stir fry. Simply cut a selection of veg into similar sizes and shapes. Start with the hardest, crunchiest vegetables as these tend to be the longest to cook (e.g. carrots, cauliflower, jerusalem artichokes) and add the more delicate vegetables towards the end (such as finely shredded cabbage, green beans, peas).

Instead of long white beansprouts – I’ve also used mixed sprouts such as lentils, chickpeas, aduki beans. You can make these easily yourself or buy them ready-sprouted from some supermarkets and health food shops.

Need more ideas?

If you like this, try my recipe for sweet and sour pork, with more ideas and variations for stir frying.