Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chilli con carne

We love our chilli con carne, it's perfect for warming you up on a cold winters night!

Start with chopping red onion and red pepper into small pieces and crush a clove of garlic. Fry these for a while to slightly brown the onion and soften the red pepper. Add the minced beef and cook until browned.

In the meantime, empty a tin of chopped tomatoes, 200ml of passata sauce, a dessertspoon of tomato puree, a shake of mixed herbs, black pepper, pinch of salt, sugar and a squirt of tomato ketchup into a deeper saucepan. if you have some red wine (or even vodka!) put a slosh of this in too as it adds to the flavour. Usually we put cooked red kidney beans in at this point but we ran out so substituted carrots instead! Add half a teaspoon of chilli powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of paprika (add more or less chilli and paprika as to whether you want it hotter or milder).

Mix the tomato sauce mixture thoroughly and then add the cooked mince - at this point take out the garlic. Give the mixture a really good stir, bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer with a lid on for at least 20 minutes - the longer you simmer the fuller the flavour. We usually simmer for around an hour, checking half way that the seasoning is right, if it isn't add what you think it needs.


Once you are happy with the flavour, it's ready to serve with rice and plain or nacho cheese flavour tortilla crisps (lovely dunked into the chilli sauce!)

Chicken and lots of veg in a black pepper sauce

A Chinese dish which was one of our favourites when we travelled around China. You can use chicken, beef or just veg in this dish, they all work equally well!

Cut your choice of meat and veg. Sprinkle the chicken with crushed black pepper and leave to stand for 30 minutes before cooking. Finely chop some ginger, half a birds eye chilli and crush a clove of garlic                                       

You can boil the veg for 5-10 mins if you think it will be too hard. 

Stir fry the chopped ginger, chilli and crushed garlic in a wok/pan to release the flavour for a couple of minutes. Then add the chicken *top tip when stir frying chicken, keep the oil to a minimum as the chicken will take on the oil as it cooks, instead use splashes of hot water (or stock) to stop it from sticking to the pan/wok. This ensures the chicken stays tender and moist.

When the chicken is sealed add the harder veg such as carrot, green beans, cauliflower etc and continue to stir fry for 10 minutes. Then add broccoli, red pepper and stir fry for another 5 minutes. Lastly add the softer veg such as cabbage and tomatoes and stir fry until the cabbage has wilted.

Add diluted chicken stock to the chicken and veg, a glug of soy sauce, a dessert spoon of sugar and more black pepper. Once the sauce is bubbling add cornflour mixed with water to thicken the sauce.
Once the sauce is thick enough, taste and adjust seasoning and it's ready to eat with lovely fluffy rice!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Yum Asia fried rice

This is a great lunch time dish or good for a snack. We have taken the traditional Thai style fried rice and added out special twist. Vegetarians can just leave out the chicken.

Cut the chicken into bite size strips and finely chop carrot, green beans, cabbage, red pepper and cut 2 tomatoes into quarters. Stir fry the chicken until sealed and then add the carrot, green beans and red pepper. When the chicken and veg are almost cooked add the cabbage and tomatoes and stri fry until they are cooked.

Set aside the cooked chicken and veg mixture in a bowl.
Add the cold rice to the wok/pan you were just using for stir frying the chicken and veg and add some light soy sauce. Stir fry the rice until it is all coated with soy sauce and the grains are quite seperate.
Once the soy sauce is mixed into the rice and it is beginning to warm through, add some sweet chilli sauce to the rice/soy sauce mix. This gives the fried rice a nice sweet and slightly spicy flavour. 
Mix the sweet chilli sauce thoroughly into the rice and then add the chicken and veg mixture. Combine the rice, chicken and veg and make sure it's piping hot.
Yum Asia fried rice is ready to serve - serve with a garnish of cucumber or a sprinkle of white pepper powder for an extra kick.
If too much is made just put it in a sealed container in the fridge and reheat in a pan later for a delicious snack!


Thai red curry with chicken and veg

A 'hot' favourite of the Thais and one of our favourites too! 

It can be as easy as buying the ready made paste from an Asian supermarket or you can make your own paste (recipe below) to add to the coconut milk. This really is cooking at it's easiest and most delicious!

Cut up your chicken breast into small bite sized strips and chop up whatever veg you would like to go in. We use potatoes, green beans, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower but you can use whatever veg you prefer - we sometimes put red pepper in too. If you are vegetarian then just leave the meat out and add more veg. We usually pre-boil the potatoes and carrots in water for 5 minutes to soften them a little.

Warm the 440ml of coconut milk in a pan (you will need a lid) and then add the red curry paste to the warming coconut milk and make sure it is all dissolved - it should be a nice pink colour when all the lumps of curry paste have gone.

Once the red curry sauce is starting to bubble add the raw chicken breast and stir around a little. When the chicken has changed to a white colour add the harder veg to the red curry sauce, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the softer veg for another 5-10 minutes (depending on what veg you have included) and simmer allowing the flavours of the sauce to seep into the veg. Check the potato and harder veg are soft, if not then leave to simmer for a while longer.

It's then ready to eat with the perfect rice you have cooked in your Zojirushi rice cooker!

For making your own curry paste:
  • 5 Large red Dried Chillies or 3 long red chillies deseeded (leave some seeds in if you like it hot)
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic peeled and sliced
  • 2 or 3 Shallots peeled and sliced
  • 2 Stalks of Lemongrass finely chopped
  • 1 Tsp Grated Kaffir Lime peel (or substitute fresh lime peel if not available)
  • 1 Tbsp Galangal finely chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp Coriander root, chopped
  • 1 Tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Tbsp Gapi (Shrimp Paste)
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin seeds
Blend all ingredients together into a paste using a mortar & Pestle or a blender. This recipe will make about 180g of paste. The left over will keep for several days in a sealed plastic bag in a refrigerator.

You need 50g of paste for every 440ml tin of coconut milk.