Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sausages and Polenta

Sausages and Polenta with a Glass of Prosecco

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Canadian Grand Prix

I have been racking my brain since Monaco to decide what to eat for the Canadian Grand Prix and it’s been surprisingly difficult. For inspiration, I searched the web and I asked my friends. The best suggestions were either obvious – Maple Syrup – or something that I didn’t (or couldn’t) really make at home – Poutine and Nanaimo bars. My research brought me to the conclusion that Canada has a rich food history inspired from the many different cultures that settled there. Even Bannock, a bread popular with the First Nations, apparently originates from Scottish fur traders.

With that in mind I decided to take my inspiration from the only Canadian person I know (she is Indian-Canadian) and the fact that we were having vegetarian friends around for dinner. Hence for the Canadian Grand Prix we were having curry! It’s not actually such a great leap as there has actually been quite a large population of South Asian Indians in Canada since the late 19th century.

Recipe: Pumpkin Curry

Summary: This curry is real satisfying and doesn’t miss meat at all, the ingredient list may look long (as with all curry recipes) but once you have all of the ingredients you’ll have loads of fun playing with the flavours. As with all of my recipes they are designed to be played around with and adjusted to suit your own preference.

Pumkin Curry

Ingredients

  • 600g Pumpkin or Squash – peeled and cut into chunks – I used half a Kabocha but it works just as well with Butternut
  • 1 tbsp Oil – any light, flavourless oil will do, I used rapeseed
  • 4 x Large White Onions – finely sliced
  • 4 x Clove of Garlic – grated
  • 1 x tsp Dried Chilli Flakes – you can increase or decrease the amount for preference
  • 1 inch of Ginger – grated
  • 1 inch Fresh Turmeric – grated – you can use 1 tsp of dried powder
  • 2 tsp Curry Power – I use my homemade Roasted Sri Lankan Curry Powder but any good one from the shop will do
  • 1 tin Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Tamarind Water – you can use lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Palm Sugar – grated
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Coriander – roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy pan ( I use one of these Le Creuset Cast Iron Casserole) heat the oil over a gentle heat and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down as low as possible and place a tight fitting lid. Stir this occasionally, to stop it catching, for about an hour until the onions are sweet and golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Next add the curry powder, give a good stir and once you can smell the spices add the pumpkin and coconut milk and stir once more.
  4. Put the lid onto the curry and leave to cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The coconut milk should be gently bubbling not boiling; if the cooking is too rapid then the pumpkin will break up.
  5. Add the tamarind water and palm sugar and then season to taste. When tasting only the milk it should have quite a kick from chilli and have a slight sweet and sour taste from the sugar and tamarind.
  6. Test the pumpkin to if it is cooked – it should still have a bit of body but not be hard on the teeth.
  7. Once you are ready to serve add the chopped coriander and serve with rice.

Quick notes

Tip: If you don’t have much time you can speed the recipe up by softening the onions on a higher heat. They will be cooked but they won’t have the amazing sweetness and depth or colour that the slow cooking does.

Variations

You can substitute the pumpkin with other vegetables or even meat.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 4

Culinary tradition: Indian (Southern)

My rating 4 stars:  ????? 1 review(s)

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Grand Prix Dinners

Rich and I are huge F1 fans. When it’s a race weekend our whole life revolves around practise, qualifiers and finally the actual race.

image creditjrewillis

As food is also a very big thing in our lives I decided to combine the two and make the food of the race location. We don’t slavishly follow it for the entire weekend but at least one of our meals is inspired by it.

Below are a list of the races of the 2011 season to give you an idea of the varied food that we will be eating!

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Pasta Making in Italy

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Monkey

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The Best Banana Cake

This is my boyfriend’s favourite cake recipe – and believes me he likes a lot of cakes! It’s a great recipe for using up leftover bananas and can be adjusted to your taste.

Banana Cake Ingredients

Banana Cake Ingredients

 

Recipe: Banana Cake

Summary: This is based on Nigella Lawson’s Banana Bread recipe in her amazing book How To Be A Domestic Goddess

Ingredients

  • 75ml Sloe Gin (or any other spirit)
  • 100g Raisin / Sultanas
  • 5 x Ripe Bananas (the sort that you are afraid to eat)
  • 2 x Large Eggs
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 125g Butter (half a standard pack in the UK)
  • 1 1/2  – 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 x tsp Salt (I use Maldon which is very flaky, if you are using pouring salt halve the amount)
  • 60g Walnuts (Chopped)
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder

Banana Cake Ready for the Oven

Banana Cake Ready for the Oven

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C / GM 3
  2. Put the raisins into a pan with the alcohol and bring to the boil. Set aside and leave the liquid to rehydrate the fruit.
  3. Melt the butter – I put it into the microwave on medium for about 1 minute and leave it on the side to melt completely.
  4. Put all of the dry ingredients, except the sugar, in a bowl and mix (flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt and the chopped walnuts).
  5. In a big mixing bowl, break the eggs and the melted butter (make sure that the butter isn’t too hot otherwise you’ll get scrambled eggs!)
  6. Mash the bananas with a fork. I tend to use the stab then smush with a fork method, which I think is easier on the hands.
  7. Add the bananas to the egg mixture. Once this has mixed thoroughly add the raisins (if there is still some liquid in the bottom don’t worry) and the vanilla extract. I love vanilla so add as much as possible.
  8. Next add the dry ingredients one third at a time. Try not to mix too much or you’ll activate the gluten and the cake will be tough.
  9. Tip the mix into a loaf tin pre-lined with ready made loaf tin liner. You can use normal baking parchment but it takes more time and can be a bit fiddly.
  10. Put into the already warm warm oven for about an hour.
  11. The cake is cooked once a skewer comes out clean.

Banana Cake Ready for Eating

Banana Cake Ready for Eating

 

Variations

You can use any dried fruit that you like. I have made it with apricots and dates before and it was really good.

If you don’t have any spirits in the house it works just as well with tea (earl grey adds a slightly perfumed characteristic). The main thing that you want to do is rehydrate the fruit so that they are lovely and plump in the finished cake.

Any nuts will be good – I have used macadamias and they are fabulous (probably better than walnuts but more expensive).

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How to Decorate a Christmas Cake

For about the last five years my Mum has made the Christmas cake and I have decorated it. I thought that this would be a fun job but actually it’s very tricky. White icing is troublesome when you have a brown cake!

Every year my Mum makes the cake and I decorate it - she insists on the snowman

Every year my Mum makes the cake and I decorate it - she insists on the snowman

 

How to Ice a Fruit / Christmas Cake

First make or buy a fruit cake – Delia Smith can always be trusted for these style of classic recipes. Be warned if you are making the cake yourself it needs to be left at least a month to mature. It’s also recommended that you can “feed” the cake during this period, which is basically sprinkling it with brandy or rum every so often which makes the cake even richer and more moist.

Once you have your cake you need to get you icing ingredients and equipment:

  • Marzipan (white or yellow)
  • Royal Icing (it is possible to make your own but the shop bought is fine)
  • Icing Sugar
  • Apricot Jam (I actually use crab apple jelly because I make it and always have it around)
  • Egg White
  • Decorations – Food Colouring, Edible Glitter, Gold Balls
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pastry Brush
  • Cookie Cutter of Your Choice
  • Ribbon

The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that all of you surfaces are clean; of course this needs to be done for hygiene but when you are using white icing there cannot be any crumbs!

Make sure that you surface is now dry, sprinkle it with icing sugar and roll out you marzipan. Once the marzipan is about 3mm thick brush the surface of the cake with the jam which you have heated to loosen it. (I always put it in the microwave but be warned it gets hot very quickly).

Use the cake tin that you cooked the cake in as a template for your marzipan. I always do the top first and as I use a loose based tin and its easy to slip the marzipan onto the disc to transfer to the cake. Once the top is securely on measure the depth of your cake (how tall your cake is) for the sides. It doesn’t have to be exact but make sure that you are generous as you can always trim it. I always do this in a few sections but it’s probably better if you can do it in one. Transfer the marzipan onto the cake and make sure that there are no gaps where it joins to the top.

To be safe, clean your surface – it may be a bit of a hassle but it’s nowhere near as bad as crumbs in your beautifully white icing!

On your sparkly clean surface, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar (if you put too much on it’ll dry out your icing) and roll out you royal icing to about 3mm. This can be done in one piece – the way that the icing moulds and moves is strangely satisfying. Be generous with your icing as the trimmings will be used later. Transfer your icing carefully onto your cake, press lightly out from the middle to get rid of any air bubbles. You should be able to gently encourage the icing to fit into place. Once it’s completely covered your cake trim the bottom.

Now to let you imagination go wild!  Cut out your shapes in the left over icing and place on your cake using a brush of egg white as glue.

TIP: to get strong colours your have to use the paste food colouring

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Piggy Birthday Cake

Pigs are my favourite animals and my best friend Nicky made me this cake for my birthday

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Chocolate Birthday Cake

Very yummy cake that my sister made for my Birthday

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Pears

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