Monday, 30 May 2011

Gobi Aloo Saag

Cauliflower with potato and spinach. There are many options here – you could use sliced large tomatoes instead of cherry toms (or none at all), frozen spinach instead of fresh, different types of potato… it’s a pretty forgiving dish. A note on the spinach – if you use fresh as I did, you will need to wilt it in a separate pan in a couple of batches most likely. I cook for 2 people (on 2 separate days) and I could barely stuff the fresh leaves into the pan. Also I didn’t fancy putting onion in it, which I don’t think detracted from the dish, but just about any Indian dish has onions so I’ll add it here.

Oh, and as usual I don’t put chillies in my curry. Feel free to add where you need.

Note: the idea for roasting the cauliflower first came from a Hairy Bikers’ recipe.

Gobi Aloo Saag

Serves 4

Time taken around 45 minutes.

1 head of cauliflower

500g potatoes

500g baby spinach leaves

1 onion

A punnet (around 20) of cherry tomatoes

Oil for frying and roasting

A few tablespoons of water

2 tsp curry powder

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp kalonji (onion seeds) or poppy seeds

2 tsp each of fresh ginger and garlic

5 curry leaves


* Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and while it’s heating chop the cauliflower into florets. You will probably have time to chop the potatoes into 2cm pieces and chop the onion. Put the cauliflower into a roasting dish, sprinkle with oil and roast for 20 minutes.

* After the cauliflower is in the oven, heat some oil in a large pan or wok over a medium heat. When ready, add the onion and fry until the onion is translucent, then add the spices.

* When the spices are well mixed in, add the potatoes and mix so everything is coated with spices.

* Add the spinach, tomatoes, salt to taste and a few tablespoons of water sprinkled over to make it steam. Simmer for 25 minutes.

* Somewhere in that time the cauliflower will be ready. Tip it into the mix in the pan and stir well. Make sure everything is heated and spiced well. Your curry will be done when the potatoes are done (which should be after the 25 minutes stated in the previous step).

* Serve with rice or Indian breads. The curry itself is quite dry, so I’d recommend putting a dollop of yoghurt and mango chutney on top.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Bread machine Pizza

The dough for my pizza, as the title suggests, was made in a bread machine. I can't possibly do all that kneading myself and there aren't enough warm spots in the flat to really make it rise. I suppose the amounts would be the same if you weren't using one, but then increase the rising time according to the heat of your warm spots! I used strong bread flour although the bread machine book suggested plain - also personal preference on how thick you want your crust.

Bread machine Pizza

Serves 2 if eaten on it's own, 4 if eaten with chips and salad (for example)

Using the bread machine with extra rising time it took about 2 hours in all

For the dough:

150ml tepid water

1 tbsp olive oil

1.5 tsp salt

280g strong bread (or plain) flour

1 tsp sugar

1tsp easy yeast (the stuff you don't have to activate first)

For the topping:

Half a jar of pizza sauce (yeah, yeah, lazy option!)

2 big handfuls of grated mozzarella

The rest is up to you, I used sliced mushrooms, orange pepper/ricotta and green olives.

* If using a bread machine, add the dough ingredients in the order I gave and fllow the instructions to make pizza dough. On mine this kneads for a few mintues then rises, taking a total of 30mins. If you aren't using a machine, then.. uhm. I guess you combine the dry and wet ingredients like you would a cake and knead it lots! Best look for another recipe online for that.

* I didn't find my bread risen enough in the machine alone, so I left it to rise for an additional hour. Your times will vary.

* When you are satisfied with your dough, first preheat your oven to 200C (fan oven, 220C conventional). Then take your dough, punch it back to remove excess air and using a combination of rolling pin and stretching with your hands, flatten it onto a 12" pizza tray according to your desired thickness.

* Spread the pizza sauce on top and sprinkle over the cheese.

* Chop/dice any additional toppings and sprinkle them over the rest. By now your oven is probably ready, so you can pop it right in.

* Cook for around 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Pizzas can go from perfect to hopelessly dry and burnt in only a couple of minutes!

* Enjoy your yummy (mostly) homemade pizza!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Stuffed peppers with rice, ricotta and dill

This is a quick and easy thing. I used ready-cooked packet rice, the ones you're supposed to heat in the microwave, but I am of the opinion that this dries out more in the oven than freshly boiled rice, so use whichever you prefer (or is easier). I used sweet pointed red peppers, which contrast nicely with the flavours and textures of the rice mix.

Stuffed peppers with rice, ricotta and dill

Serves 2

Takes around 30 mins in all

2 peppers, deseeded and sliced in half lengthways if using long ones

200g ricotta cheese

A good handful of fresh, chopped dill

1 packet of ready cooked rice, or 250g of freshly boiled rice

2 medium-sized escallion shallotts, or the equivalent size in plain onions

Preheat the oven to 180C

* Fry the onions for 5 minutes over a medium heat or until softened

* Add the rice and fry for a further 5 minutes, making sure the grains are evenly
oiled and cooked

* Add the dill and stir through

* Stir in the ricotta and spend some time really mixing it in so it sticks in the rice and leave until the mixture is warmed through

* Line your peppers on a baking tray, stuff them with the mixture and place in the oven for 10-15mins

I served these with a hunk of rustic bread and butter.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Mozzarella, tomato and olive puff pastry tarts

I'm back from holiday now and can cook what I want! These tarts are so simple, tasty and look amazing. A good piece for if you're cooking for others. I've listed the ingredients on a per tart basis, to make it easier to scale up. These are quite large and I can only fit 2 comfortably on a baking tray.

Mozzarella, tomato and olive puff pastry tarts

For 1 tart

All in all time taken was around half an hour

1 medium tomato

Half a ball of mozzarella

125g puff pastry (I used 1/4 of a block of Jus roll all-butter puff)

Olive tapenade or sliced olives (Your choice of type, I used kalamata tapenade)

A few basil leaves to sprinkle on top

Optional - egg or milk to brush the edges

Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan ovens)

* Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until nice and thin and vaguely a squat rectangle shape

* Score a rectangle inside the edges; this is where your crust will puff up at the edge of the filling

* Spread/lay the tapenade/olives inside the scored area

* Slice the tomato and mozzarella and lay these down in an alternating pattern on top of the olives

* Sprinkle some basil leaves on top. If you want, brush the edges with egg or milk

* Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden

I served this with minted new potatoes and a salad. Yummy!

More April cooking

Throughout most of April I had tummy issues, and as I was going away at the end, I wanted to sort them as much as possible by eating low-fat food in small amounts. It was a bit boring really as most of what I did didn't involve a lot of cooking, and I was restricted in what I could make. Examples are:

Omelttes with new potato and radish salad (I beat my eggs with mustard, salt and pepper and add chopped spring onions)

Veggie fajitas made with sliced veggie burgers and peppers served with lettuce, guacamole, half-fat cheese and white wraps. I cooked the innards in Discovery fajita spices.

A variation of the spring soup using a tin of tomatoes and sweetcorn and tortelloni

Lots of pastas, sausage with veg, frozen yorkshire puds (Aunt Bessies are good) and stir fries.