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Curry Kit’s A Hit

14 Dec

Regular readers will know how much I love a cooking kit – from little cakes to a full menu – not being a natural cook I thrive when every tiny thing is written down and weighed out for me.

So I was more than happy to try out a curry kit from Hari Ghotra. I chose a Xacuti Kit because I liked the name, but I should have done a little research first as this was one hot and spicy dish.

Anyway – the kit is a tiny bundle of spice sachets with an easy guide – you just add the meats and vegetables you like. I decided on lamb and here is mine waiting to be curry kitted:
curry1Add the first little bag of tumeric to the lamb and let it sit while you get on with making the paste. Now this is a little fiddly as you have to toast the spices from the second bag (but how do you know when they’re done? I trusted my nose and stopped just when they started to smell lovely and… toasty!).

curry2You grind this concoction up and add it to water – et voila your very own curry paste. Aren’t you clever?

Then there is the very small matter of mashing up some tamarind in hot water while you cook your meat and paste together. Just add this sieved water near the end with the final bag of spices (some lovely nutmeg which I never think of adding to a curry) and you’re done!

It tasted incredible, although I did add maybe a little too much water and this particular curry choice was a little hot – but hey you’ve got to live a little right?

The sauce was more than enough for two people, reasonably easy to make and absolutely a far better bet than buying a ready-made sauce full of stuff that has no place being in a curry. Or ordering in a takeaway obvs.

Plus it makes your house smell completely wonderful and had my family considering the very unusual fact that I might actually be doing some ‘real cooking’ for a change.

curry3

No, I didn’t make the bread.

PLEASE NOTE: This curry kit was provided to me free of charge for an honest review from someone who can’t cook.

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Eggs do not a Stir Fry make

25 Feb

I have a problem with boring food, I always try to jhush it up a bit (well how do YOU spell that word?) which often leads to my downfall.

Take this recent stir fry that went on in my kitchen. To be fair it was barely even that, being just some noodles and raw broccoli in a wok with some oil and soy sauce. I was trying to be good, eating bland, basic food after a weekend of indulgence.

All was going well (boring) until I just thought I had better crack an egg into it all. Why? What’s an egg going to do? It’s hardly going to elevate my boring noodles into a sumptuous Pad Thai is it?

Well I did it anyway and then worried I would end up with raw egg in the broccoli florets and so overcooked the whole lot until it was little more than dry noodles with some crispy scrambled eggs over the top. The broccoli however managed to stay raw – how does it do that?

I ended up eating a Grab Bag of crisps, so indulgence continued…

IMG_2830 (3)

Not a Pad Thai. Sadly.

How can Italians stay slim?

5 Aug

I’ve just returned from a weeks sojourn in Southern Italy, staying in Sorrento and visiting the wonderful island of Capri. We were surrounded by incredible scenery and very rich and beautiful people. We also ate a lot of amazing Italian food.

In fact I did little more than indulge in all of my favourite things – pasta, pizza, Peroni, Prosecco, panini and other things beginning with P – for the full seven days. And of course throw in the odd Insalata Caprese which is hardly a salad really when it is served up with huge succulent pillowy mozzarella balls the size of my fist.

italy

 (This is a litre of lager, I could have drowned a puppy in it)

It got me thinking though as I shovelled yet more delicious, perfectly made (moist yet crunchy) pizza into my mouth how did all of the Italians surrounding me manage to stay so damn slim when every restaurant table groaned with baskets of bread and bottles of scrumptious olive oil before you’d even opened a menu?

Of course I realise that Italian people don’t always eat what we believe to be ‘Italian food’ – same as the lovely Chinese family I used to work for never ate the takeaway food they sold – but there’s just so much of it and it’s just so good.

But I did come home with a little theory, I am so stuffed with delicious carbs that after a week of it I felt like I wanted nothing more than to eat just green leaves for the rest of my life. In fact if I ever see another pizzeria again it will be too soon. Maybe I’ve started to think more Italian, yes it’s great eating but not for every day right?

italy1(the view from a local restaurant, made me want to eat more)

 

Some rather racy Thai thanks to Racey

11 Jul

Years ago I used to live in a lovely flat in Notting Hill with a lovely friend called Rachel, I always say that while I lived there I had the time of my life (and I really did), Rachel and I had a lot of fun but I won’t go into any of that here. I knew she had spent a lot of time in Thailand and travelling the far east but I certainly don’t remember her cooking for me and I certainly didn’t for her (I don’t think we ate a lot in those days) but now Rachel is a fully grown up food blogger writing about beautiful, easy Thai food over on Racey’s Easy Thai(ish) Cooking.

We met up recently and in amongst the memories of our shared flat we also discussed me trying out a couple of her (easier) recipes, and so this week I did! She suggested the simplest might be her ‘Lovely Mince & Noodle Thing’ (it doesn’t have a name) and try out her technique to make perfect rice.

photo 1

First up Mince & Noodles.

It certainly seemed simple enough, and I prepped all the ingredients easily:

This is the mince mixed with soy sauce, curry powder, salt, pepper and flour. Plus chopped celery and garlic, a jug of stock and some red wine vinegar mixed with chilli flakes.

I then browned the mince mix in a frying pan in a little oil before adding the celery, garlic and stock to the pan to simmer for about 15mins.

 

photo 2This bubbling away made the whole kitchen smell lovely .

As soon as the celery started to soften and the stock had absorbed I was left with an unctuous mix that a pack of ‘straight to wok’ noodles was added (well I wouldn’t spoil it by making my own).

After another couple of minutes I added the vinegar and chilli mix and turned it out onto a plate to serve with some salad.

Well…. I have to say it was incredibly tasty, so if you actually have all the right ingredients and follow a recipe exactly as someone has described it works really well? Who knew?

photo 3

As I was on a roll I tried out Rachel’s rice the very same night. Now me and rice do NOT get on very well as this blog will testify. I now use the microwave sachets – which taste terrible – just because I cannot take any more burnt pans, sloppy rice pudding or grains like little bullets, but I thought it was worth another go.

Again I did exactly as Rachel explained, no washing, no  banishing of starch, no stirring, I just put some rice in a pan of salted boiling water and after 12 minutes took out and let it steam in a sieve for another 10 minutes above some remaining hot water. And look – fluffy and separated well cooked grains of rice – a cautious but well received success! My husband couldn’t believe it, and neither could I.
photo 4 Thanks Rachel!

Pot Noodle and I Grow Up

27 May

I used to love a Pot Noodle when I was younger, they seemed incredibly modern and were very useful during my early ‘vegetarian years’ when I lived at home and refused to eat anything my family cooked (and of course never cooked anything for myself).

I grew up, moved out, moved on, started eating meat again, but the hankering for the naughty noodle remained. Chicken and Mushroom was my favourite or Chow Mein at a push (never Beef and Tomato) and so usually once a year the feeling would over take me and not be satisfied until I had mixed up my little sachets and boiled that kettle. Sometimes I couldn’t even wait until it had all softened up and chose to eat those noodles hard.

However, my very real MSG intolerance caught up with me and my beloved PNs had to go because of course they were full of the stuff, which is why they tasted so great. Sigh.

Now I am a lot older and not only have to deal with the fact I can’t eat MSG but wheaty things give me a terrible bloat and almost everything causes my stomach acid to come back up – but that’s a different story – the thing is I have to be a bit more careful with what I eat. So I am always MORE than happy to find things that not only stop my tummy blowing up but are easy and remind me of being young.

photo[1]Bring forth the Kabuto Gluten Free Rice Noodles – and praise them for what they are, for they are decent, tasty noodles in a pot that you activate with boiling water but without that wheat protein that causes me a bit of trouble. Simple enough for students, the inebriated, the hungover, me, everyone. And about as far from a Pot Noodle as you can get without going too far if you know what I mean?

And having just downed both the Chicken and Miso versions I can confirm that there is no sign of any bloating. Win, win, I’m in.

Thanks to Kabuto for sending me some of their Gluten Free Rice Noodles to test out, it’s like they knew about my early love affair with Pot Noodles, it’s like they knew about my poor digestion, it’s like they can see into my very soul…

photo[2]

Why Did The Mexican Push His Wife Off A Cliff?

4 Oct

That’s a rubbish joke.
Do you know what else is rubbish?
My Mexican night.

I’ve discussed my love for food from this country before here. So I won’t do it again. But I do love it…
I decided a TexMex night was way overdue (and I do love my themed nights) so bought an Old El Paso nachos kit (no sniggers at the back please) and some chicken, corn and rice, I mean how hard could it be to throw all that together?
I also had some hot sauce so knew whatever happened I could just smother everything in that.
Continue reading

A Right Bloody Meze

3 Dec

I really wish JML would stop emailing me and sending me catalogues. I’m always tempted by their strangely-named labour saving devices and odd beauty equipment (I have a portable Steam Shark lurking under the bed if anyone needs one?).

Anyway, I recently succumbed to yet another tempting offer to buy the Magic Bullet Blender (I know) because it promised it could complete pretty much any food processing job in under ten seconds while taking up less space than a coffee cup. Sold to the lady with no more room under her bed.

Regular readers will know I love a theme night – here is Caribbean Night – and with my tiny new blender promising it could create ‘Seven Second Salsa’ and ‘Before You Know It Bean Dip’ of course it was time for Greek Night. Husband argued that you could buy hummus so easily in the shops now and in loads of different flavours what was the point of making your own? And reminded me of the last time I made such a dip.

But I knew that this would be a super spread, I love a Meze and what could be better than learning to make your own.

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Surely I’d be stuffing my own vine leaves before long?

I settled on the Salsa (which did seem quite easy) and an authentic beetroot dip. The beetroot dip required me to finely grate a beetroot – using the side of the grater you never use, and for good reason! It grates your fingers too. Good job beetroot juice is red because it contained a LOT of my blood:
Continue reading

Food Through The Post! Swiss Bliss

30 Nov

I’ve been lucky with my #foodiepenpals so far – one from Belgium in October and one from Switzerland this month.

After telling my new Swiss pal – the lovely Lucie from FitSwissChick – that I sadly didn’t like chocolate too much (not even from Switzerland) she put together a package of alternative, traditional foodstuffs for me. As you may know I love eating food you can’t buy in the UK:
Look – that’s a

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pot of fondue cheese! You just heat it up in the microwave and dip things into it (vegetables, meat, biscuits, fingers). I love melted gooey cheese. Why don’t we have these in my supermarket up the road?
(Maybe because I’d be the size of a house if they did? Phew, thanks supermarkets).

Also included some lovely little Ricola, sweet cakes, nougat, a swiss yogurt (of course) and some nuts mixed with Lucie’s own curry herb mix (and rather feisty it was too).

Knowing I have a small son Lucie kindly included a treat for him too with this little packet of Minor Chocolates:
Look at those, like little jewels…
It would have been rude not to try one, or two? With a cup of tea? They’d come so far!
In fact, sadly not one of these made it into the hands of my own little ‘Minor’.

Thanks Lucie, sorry son, maybe I do like chocolate after all?
But you see that it what Foodie Penpals is all about – learning!

More FoodiePenpals goodness next time – can’t

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wait. And if you can’t either then check out #foodiepenpals on Twitter for other posts. If you want your own FoodiePenpal full details can be found here – hosted by the UK representative This is Rock Salt.

Food Through The Post! Gifts from Belgium…

31 Oct

If you are anything like me travelling to different countries involves checking out the local snacks. (And I don’t mean decent cuisine!)
One of the main reasons for going holiday for me is so I can sit by the pool with something alcoholic and an absolutely massive bag of crisps or corn snacks with a name I don’t recognise and a list of ingredients I can’t read.
‘Ooooh I think these are oregano but I can’t be sure’

So… you can imagine my delight when Stefanie of Patisserie Chez Myrtille who lives in Gent, Belgium was chosen as my FoodiePenpal for this month. After a brief email discussion where I was quick to let her know that I wasn’t keen on chocolate (Belgian or otherwise) I was sent this fabulous box of goodies:

Stef’s letter explained that some of these are best enjoyed with an aperetif (a girl after my own heart) and they were indeed enjoyed with something alcoholic. It was JUST like being on holiday but without the pool.

The box also included cute little madeleines, some AMAZING Jules Destrooper spread that is just like a gingery, sweet peanut butter and amazing on toast, and some herby croutons to liven up a soup (and I hadn’t even told her about my super soup jug!).
Basically I have eaten it all. And have set up an online account with Jules Destrooper for regular deliveries of this paste:
For my own Foodie

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Penpal – Caitlin from The Pocohontas Files – I created a Hallowe’en themed box complete with candles, a little squash for carving and garlic for the vampires. I hope she liked it.

More FoodiePenpals goodness next time – can’t wait. And if you can’t either then check out #foodiepenpals on Twitter for other posts. If you want your own FoodiePenpal full details can be found here – hosted by the UK representative This is Rock Salt.

Toddler Takeaway

5 Oct

As you know I love Chinese food. Love it. Especially the usual takeaway dishes.
Hard to make it home though right? Authentically. (Well it is for me!)

A recent attempt to make an oriental style dish of greens was a bit of a mare.
I find it difficult to tread that fine line between cooked quickly and raw. So I end up over-compensating and over-cooking.
I boiled

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the broccoli and pak choy first, before adding to a hot wok of

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oil and garlic:
Sadly of course it was too much and everything turned a bit mushy. To try and crisp it all back up I cooked it for even longer in the wok, adding more oil, more soy sauce and really turning the heat up.
All far far too much.

Still after a sprinkling of sesame seeds I almost got something worth eating…
BY A BABY.
One sniff of the fork and it all broke down into a greeny nothingness.
I know! – Takeaway Food For Weaning Toddlers, it could catch on right?
Don’t steal my idea ok, I’m working on the packaging right now.
Going into Dragon’s Den next month.

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