Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Turkish Delight.

My father and younger sister's favorite Christmas treat is Turkish Delight. Specifically, Rose Turkish Delight. Over the previous summer I undertook a cookery course at The Grange, in Whately, Somerset, entitled ‘The Essential Cookery Course’. Turkish delight was one of the recipes on the course I knew I just had to master.

So, for Christmas, when my little sister declared that the only thing in the world she wanted from me was a load of rose flavored Turkish Delight, considering the theme of homemade gifts running through my Christmas presents already, I obliged. Here (if I say so myself) are the  glorious results.

The essential thing one has to remember here is to ensure that ALL the sugar granules have dissolved in the water BEFORE the mixture comes to the boil. If you don’t,  your sugar will crystallize as it sets and it will all end in tears.

Makes 50-60 pieces (depending on how large you cut them)

300ml hot water
25g Powdered Gelatine
¼ tsp Citric Acid
450g Caster Sugar
1tbs Rose Water
1 tsp red food coloring
Icing sugar

Place the water in a pan and sprinkle the gelatine over it.

Add the sugar and citric acid and heat gently, stirring often until the last of the sugar granules have dissolved and your mixture becomes transparent.

Bring up the heat and simmer this for 20 minutes.

Then add the rose water, food coloring and taste/adjust if you, personally, like it more flavored or more colored. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes then pour into an oiled tin and leave to set for 24 hours.

Cut into squares, dusting them with icing sugar as you go and consume to generate instant Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Southern Indian Vegetable Curry.

Now, there is absolutely no denying it. I am a complete chili addict. I'm the person that could be eating pizza, pasta, a roast or a burger and will ask you to pass whatever appropriate spicy condiment is on offer. Be it hot sauce, horseradish or crushed chilies, if it makes my mouth burn, I'm all over it.

Taking this into account one may assume that Southern Indian cuisine may not be my bag. With all those subtle flavors of mustard seeds, curry leaves, coconut milk and no promise of chili to assault my taste buds,  you may predict me uninterested. But no. 

Having been fortunate enough to travel around India I completely fell for every element of its cuisine and after sampling the traditional breakfast of Southern India, a Masala Dosa (aka the KING of all breakfasts) I fell head over heels for this type of food. 

The recipe that follows is a take on Southern Indian cooking and ticks all of the expected boxes with a bit of added chili for some bite, simply because I couldn't resist. 

Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed.
2 large handfuls of spinach or the leafy end of the chard, shredded.
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
a thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
a bunch of curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 can of coconut milk
fresh coriander, chopped

In a wok or large, deep pan on a high heat add your oil and mustard seeds, when they start to pop add the onion.

When the onion begins to soften, add the garlic, chili, ginger curry leaves and spices, fry that for 3-4 minutes then add the chopped tomatoes and sweet potato and season.

Fry this for another 2 minutes to develop the flavors then add the coconut milk, cover and simmer until the potato is soft all the way through.

Add the spinach or chard and wait for it to wilt, taste, check the seasoning, then serve with rice, scattered with the fresh coriander and a wedge of lime to squeeze over.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Bacon and Onion Potato Gratin with a Crunchy Rainbow Salad.

A couple of weeks ago I started investing in a vegetable box scheme, again, like this blog,  it's been something i've been meaning to do for a long time and only just got around to. I did it recently when spurred on by the need to write a food orientated article for a student publication some of my friends were creating at the time and the body of this post is taken from that article.

I ordered my Veggie box from  Baracome Nurseries in Lewes for £10.70 and three days later I had half an allotment sitting by my front door. As my housemates can testify I was hugely excited about the arrival of my veggie box since the contents of it were a surprise and I am pleased to say it didn’t disappoint.

It featured potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, a Chinese cabbage, two red cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, a leek, potentially the largest beetroot I’ve ever seen and a bunch of hugely exciting rainbow chard. Pretty good value i say.

To kick off my week of vegetable joy I started off treating my housemates to this gratin and salad. The potato bake is sufficiently indulgent with the bacon and lashings of cream whilst the fresh crunchy vegetables dressed in olive oil and lemon juice cut through all that luxury leaving your palate clean making the dish lovely and wintery but not leaving you feeling like you've had your arteries clogged.

Serves 4-5

For the Gratin:
4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.
5 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces.
1 large onion, sliced.
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced.
A couple of pinches of dried or fresh thyme.
1tbsp of olive oil.
a few pea sized knobs of butter.
250 ml Single or double cream

For the salad:
A selection of crunchy root vegetables and cabbage, I used beetroot, carrot, purple cabbage, and Chinese cabbage, grated or thinly shredded respectively.
½ the juice of a lemon
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°

First, get you gratin on, in a wide, but deep pan, on a high heat fry of your bacon in the olive oil and as it starts to brown, then reduce the heat and add your onions.

Sweat the onions until they are soft and slightly caramelized then add your cream, chopped garlic, thyme and bring it to a simmer.

Simmer for a couple of minutes to infuse then turn the hob off, season to taste, add the potatoes and give it a gentle stir to coat the potatoes in the cream, garlic and onion mixture without breaking them up.

Empty the contents of your pan out into a gratin dish and shake to level out

Dot the top with the knobs of butter and place in the oven covered with tin foil for the first 30 minutes and without for another 15 or until golden on top and soft all the way through.

While the gratin is in the oven put your grated and shredded crunchy vegetables in a salad bowl and make your dressing in a separate smaller bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar and some salt and pepper, mix it up, check the taste and add more lemon, oil, sugar or seasoning if needed.

When the gratin is golden, and bubbling remove it from the oven, dress your salad and serve. 


An Introduction to my Food Obsessed World.

I have been repeating my intentions to make a food blog to my family and friends for a long time now, however with a spare few days on my hands between the terms of my third year at University I concluded it was time to take the plunge.

Discovering that I am completely and whole heartedly obsessed with cooking, fantasizing and thinking about food has been a gradual realization which emerged as I entered student-hood at the rather young age of 18.

Two years later it wouldn't be an understatement to say it has consumed my life. Aside from my degree (a BA in Media Practice & Theory which sounds complicated but basically means I make films) and socializing, food has become one of the biggest things in my life. I go to sleep thinking about what I'll have for breakfast and spend all day dreaming about cooking dinner.

Still being a student my kitchen is frugally equipped at best and despite my dreams of pasta rollers, ice cream machines, electric whisks and extravagant ingredients like whole vanilla pods some of the culinary ventures I would love to undertake are far beyond my reach. However I do my best and seem to fare better than the average student regarding what I consume on a daily basis.

The recipes here are largely out of my own head or an amalgamation of various recipes I've read and tailored into one dish, however where credit is due of course I will credit the true brains behind my creation.