Tag Archives: Adventurous Meals

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.


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.


Cauliflower gets a pizza the crappy action!

5 Oct

You know I love jumping on a bandwagon, I feel left out if I’m not giving the latest thing a go. And so this week I was eager to trial the new cauliflower pizza that everyone is so keen to talk about. This is a gluten free, carb less, low calorie version of the classic pizza just using cauliflower as the base – no really it’s not a joke, if you haven’t heard of it then where have you been? (Probably enjoying real pizzas from Dominos?)

Anyway my friend at work Kate had made one with much success and I enjoyed a cold slice of it myself in the office. If mine could taste half as good as hers then I could be onto a winner. And maybe even save myself a few calories and some wheaty bloating whilst still getting to enjoy pizza goodness.

You use cauliflower rice (yes this is also a thing) which is just washed florets whizzed up into crumbs. OR you can buy ready made pots of it in Tesco…. don’t judge me I don’t own a food processor (and probably with good reason). You heat this ‘rice’ up, squeeze out the moisture (which takes forever and really burns your hand if you use kitchen roll) and bind it with eggs and some cheese and seasoning. This makes up some kind of dough mixture that you can spread out into your pizza base:


Simply put your ‘pizza dough’ onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven until crispy. Here is mine going in and I’m feeling reasonably confident at this point. And I still was when I pulled it out because it looked round and golden and edible. Could I have made my first pizza base? With cauliflower?

I eagerly went to lift it from the paper so I could cool and spread my toppings over it – I had even made my own tomato sauce (don’t be impressed – tinned toms with mixed herbs).
BUT I hadn’t counted on this happening:


The base had stuck to the baking paper! I mean how does that even happen? Doesn’t this paper have one job to do? Apparently you are meant to grease the paper first? But how do you know how to do that? Where do they even teach you to do that? Did I miss that day at life school?

I was appalled but desperate not to waste all I had already worked so hard for. so I tried to scrape what I could from the traitorous paper and this was my base.

I didn’t have high hopes for my pizza after this. Look how anaemic it looked. I baked it for a bit longer and ended up with this:


That is not a pizza base by anyone’s standards. CAULIFLOWER CAN GO TO HELL! Or at least back into some cheese sauce where it belongs.

Still… I’m nothing if not tenacious (and I hate waste) so I spread my homemade tomato sauce over it followed by some grated onion and carrot (as I said I hate waste) followed by a whack load of cheese because that could only help right?

Of course the pizza base was so depleted by this point the overflowing toppings (made for a far larger and more robust base) remained raw whilst the bottom turned into a vegetable crisp.


I could have cried. It actually tasted of very little indeed, cardboard maybe? With some raw onion. Not sure. Suffice to say I won’t be trying this again and would much rather get that number for Dominos off you. Cheers.

Liked that? Did you read about the time I made spaghetti with courgettes? Courgetti? I know right. That was crap too! Maybe these healthy alternatives are not for me. Sigh…

Oh dear, Olives!

24 Jul

No, don’t laugh,

I do actually feed my family this stuff.

Cooking up a bit of simple chicken with some green pesto (love me a bit of pesto) I wasn’t sure what to add to it, I had no suitable vegetables so looking in the fridge I seized on a pot of green salad olives.
Same colour – it’s got to work right?
Pesto1Wrong! Olives, pesto and chicken do not go together.
Well not when made by me.
I mean who enjoys really hot green olives?
I did however manage to make a colour co-ordinated oily mess. (I do like my colour themed meals)
Pesto2All of this was quite nice when the olives had been shoved to one side.

When it comes to adding inappropriate ingredients to meals I’m a pro – for the time I added a tub of peanut butter into some chicken see here!

Mother’s Ruined!

13 Mar

Well after last weeks exposé on the terrible dishes I serve to my son, I myself was served this for Mother’s Day on Sunday:
BE-680CCYAA-3BEIsn’t it wonderful? Laden with gifts and gorgeous food, beautifully presented and thoughtful. Boy did I feel small, it’s a far cry from hotdogs on a plate right?
OK he had some help from his dad but still… sheepish mother must

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try harder with her presentation.
And yes that is a room service bell – I was allowed to use it all day for cups of tea any time I liked. I know.

But my favourite gift had to be this little beauty:
mugAin’t that the truth!?

Hope all you mums got to ring your own bells this weekend x

“I don’t know what it is”

26 Feb

I am honestly not sure what possessed me! Settle in…
Last night I prepped loads of lovely ingredients – fresh courgettes, long red peppers, organic chicken thighs, baby tomatoes and red onions (I even had some crusty bread!)
I had a fancy to make something ratatouille like to serve alongside some slow-cooked chicken?
Quite so:

But whilst getting some herbs and the like from the cupboard I saw a pot of butternut squash paste and thought ooohhh….  maybe put that in with the chicken. Make it a bit more warming? But then I also saw a tub of peanut butter (the nutty kind natch) and again thought oooohhh…. maybe put that in too? Make it a bit more – what?
No idea.
Vegetable Ratatouille and Chicken Satay together?
That won’t work separately.
Best cook it all together, in the slow cooker:
chick2In it all went.
But then there was far too much in there – did I also mention the potatoes? No? Oh yes there were spuds in there too.
It wasn’t cooking.
After an hour of sweating (me and the food) I transferred it all to a bigger dish and put it in the oven on high.

Within 20 minutes I had this:
chick3Not only had I made my usual meat and veg failsafe signature dish, but a new spin on it. Peanut Butter. Which isn’t a usual bedfellow of courgettes, potatoes and onions and neither should it be.
It was a hot, nutty mess. And looked like it:
chick4I served it up saying “I don’t know what it is”.
For ages my husband chewed away thoughtfully, quietly, then finally:
“It’s peanut butter isn’t it?. Peanut butter chicken”
Ah well, at least it has a name now, but it’s doubtful you’d find it in any recipe book.

UPDATE: Since posting one of my most favoured readers has actually found it in a recipe book:
peanutSo it does exist – I just didn’t know it.
Next time without the potatoes and courgettes and slow cooker though right?

A Deluxe Delivery

13 Feb

Look, here’s a nice idea. Treat your foodie self and do good all at the same time…
Order a box from DeluxeBite and not only do you get to try out different gourmet foods every month but they’ll donate a meal to a hungry family (via UK foodbanks) at the same time. Win, win.

It’s like a posher version of the fruit and veg box, but one that helps you to try out foodstuffs you wouldn’t ordinarily buy yourself, and I love being prompted to try new things, as you know I am a great kitchen experimenter (Is that a word?).   Everything is from artisan, independent or local food brands (which gives them much needed exposure) and not as expensive as you might think.

My box contained some beautiful sauces and chutney, great coffee, a big venison chorizo and fruit crisps all beautifully packaged, but of course every month would be different. It was great fun and I loved getting my box, it elicited plenty of oohs and aahs from the family! Look:

Just so you know: I was sent a sample box from DeluxeBite for free but was under no obligation to write this post and for which I have received no payment. I hope you enjoyed reading it. x

Alice CAN Cook Christmas

27 Dec

So the Big Day is over, I hope yours was wonderful and you are still

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feeling the benefits of some good food and drink and playing with your toys.
I feel as if I am 90% cheese and 10% chocolate currently, and running solely on Cava.

But I am also buoyed up slightly by a rather successful Christmas Lunch, cooked by my own festive hands.
It was rather a no-frills affair, without any celebrity chef intervention and not completely perfect but even my husband had to admit it was pretty good!

I got up early (earlier than my son) to peel some veg and get the bird out of the fridge – we had gone for an 8kg Kelly

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Bronze from the local farm which had been prepared so the giblets had already been taken out and bagged up thankfully (we boiled them up for the dog).

After hearing a lot about being able to leave a cooked turkey for an hour after taking out of the oven I decided to get it done and worry about the rest of the stuff later so it went into the oven early – I was still only on my first Bucks Fizz!

Here it is going in – note the butter under the skin – I understand this is a way of keeping the breast from going dry. I wasn’t sure how to do it so just hacked away until I made a couple of holes and stuffed some in. I also put a cut lemon and a whole onion in the cavity, and some salt and pepper over the back. I know myself well enough to just keep it simple… no more Nigella bucket birds for me!
Xmas2I read the instructions after it had gone in (I know I know) and they suggested that you should put the bird in UPSIDE DOWN for a bit first. Erm, too late for that. I hoped the foil and butter would keep it moist instead.

Three hours later I took it out, replaced it with some hot goose fat and par-boiled reindeer potatoes and went to the pub.
After a refreshing glass of wine I left son and husband there for a bit and came back to get the vegetables on (I’d bought as much ready prepared as I could) and make some gravy and bread sauce. I’d also cleverly stirred some chestnut puree into a stuffing mix to give the sage and onion a seasonal edge.

Yes I was mildly drunk but I felt calm and in control, the carols were on the radio and I took a few deep breaths. Maybe the trick to this cooking lark is to keep it simple and relax? Who knows…

As it all started reaching a cooking crescendo I unwrapped the bird for carving. And here it is:
xmas3Yes I know it’s a bit scorched and a hole seems to have appeared in the side (see that lemon?) but it was still rather juicy! I know the skin isn’t crispy but I think that is because I used foil?

I had steamed most of the veg – apart from the whole baby carrots – which sadly meant the whole baby cauliflowers were raw and rock hard, but as we pointed out you could eat them raw and at least they were hot. So… all was not lost. Everything else was just sort of perfect.
xmas4I didn’t wrap those ‘pigs in blankets’ myself.
And I know you can’t see the gravy and bread sauce but that is because I served it on the table in jugs/bowls decorated in holly. How festive

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is that?
The gravy was good too, despite being as black as pitch, I used something called ‘Browning’ I had never tried before – half a bottle of the stuff – so it kind of ‘blackened’ rather than ‘browned’ but still.

After eating this we never managed to get through the Heston Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding – in fact it is still in my cupboard. Might keep it for next year now.

We enjoyed ours, I hope you enjoyed yours.
Merry Christmas xxx

I’m Making Christmas Lunch Folks…

20 Dec

Total Result! My husband has agreed to me doing Christmas Lunch this year.
Which means… I’ll be able to spend time in the kitchen with some wine and carols on the radio, instead of building Lego castles in the front room as I normally do!
Oh and of course, cooking… I’m quite looking forward to it, the family however might not be.

I can actually put together quite a good roast now and again – see here for evidence – I just need to relax, go with the flow and remember that everything stays warm for ages, it doesn’t always need to cook together exactly at the same time, which is what I try to plan for but of course never have enough hob or oven space for that to happen. Apparently you can leave a cooked turkey for up to an hour before serving?

Of course I will be getting some help in the form of pre-made bread sauce, pre-scored sprouts and I managed to secure one of those Heston Hidden Orange puddings this year. Maybe one year I’ll attempt to make my own Christmas pud but I just don’t want to ruin the big day for everyone.
I have had experience of Christmas cooking before, my Nigella Turkey ended up on the floor but my Mary Berry cupcakes were a triumph. Who knows what will happen this year, I will of course keep you updated.

And to finish here’s a picture of my Christmas tree just to make this post more festive.
As you can see from the decorations we have a small child in the house…

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:
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Diving into a Sussex Pond – a drunken tale in two parts

16 Sep

Let’s get this out of the way straight away, I was drunk when I made this. DRUNK!

Not ‘tipsy drunk’, and not ‘let me tell you a story drunk’ but properly ‘reel around the fountain before getting down onto the train tracks drunk’.
And like most who get that drunk I became invincible, capable of ANYTHING.
Most normal, invincible drunks turn into superheroes and get on the roof of the nearest tall building to see if they can fly – I too try something I am unable to do in regular life: cook something extraordinarily difficult…

I had been focussing on the notoriously complicated and completely out of my league Sussex Pond Pudding for a while. I considered that because I lived in Sussex (and born in the county) I should at least try it once. I also love lemon puddings and suet puddings and the Sussex Pond is a combination of both so… win, win.

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