At a BBC Good Food Show a while ago I picked up a few spice kits including one for Jamaican Jerk Chicken from Spicentice. Now this spice rub suggests you should use it with chicken legs or thighs, but since I had chicken breasts that needed using that’s what I used – it means the meat is a lot less juicy, but still very tasty. A lot of recipes for jerk chicken suggest you serve it with rice and peas, so I went for a version suggested by the BBC (there’s an alternative recipe for jerk chicken here should you want it too).
For the chicken
300g chicken breast, chopped into pieces (or chicken legs and thighs)
3 spring onions
1 garlic clove
juice and zest of 1 lime
Spicentice Jamaican Jerk Chicken spice rub
For the rice
200g basmati rice
400g can coconut milk
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
2 sprigs of thyme
2 garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp ground allspice
2 x 410g cans kidney beans, drained
Chop the oninon and spring onions and add to a food blender, add the lime zest and juice as well as the spice rub, plus a pinch or salt and pepper. Rub the marinade into the chicken pieces and leave for at least 30 minutes.
Cook the chicken pieces for 20-25 minutes in a 200oc oven, turning the pieces at least once.
For the rice rinse it thorougly and then add to a pan with all the ingredients except the kidney beans. Add around 300ml of water and salt to season. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the beans to the rice, cover with a lid and turn off the heat for a further five minutes.
Note: I forgot to take a picture of this one. Next time I make it I will update the page!
For the first recipe of 2017 my other half picked the country, the Czech Republic, and even found a recipe I could use on the National Geographic website. Back when I was doing bits of research in the Czech Republic I ate quite a lot of goulash, and when I took some students there in 2012 I had an amazing goulash in a little bar not far from where we were staying in Prague. Not only did it taste amazing, it was served in bread, the bread acted as the bowl. I managed not to poke a hole in it with my cutlery so the contents didn’t spread all over the place. This was by far the best meal I had in the Czech Republic and if I do go back I’ll have to see if the place is still there.
The recipe we found was called ‘simple Czech goulash’ and looking at the ingredients list it was easy to see why. I wanted to see if there were any other common variations for the recipe, and as is typical with a lot of stew type dishes you’ll find a whole swathe of different varieties, some which add garlic, others which add peppers or a tomato, plus a range of other ingredients. For some people goulash might be more of a hungarian dish than a czech one, but since it’s a common dish there too I’m going to use it for these purposes to tick off the Czech Republic on my ‘cook dishes from around the world’ challenge. The recipe included in this blog post represents a merge of a few different recipes. I also had a spare carrot and red pepper, and this seemed like a good opportunity to use them up. This recipe serves around 2-4 people, and we served it with some bread, although you could also opt to make some dumplings too.
1 tbsp oil
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp paprika
4 cups of water
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 red pepper
Salt and pepper
1 tsp marjoram.
Heat the oil in a casserole dish and cook the onions for about 10 minutes.
Add the beef and garlic, and cook to brown the meat.
Add the paprika and cook for a minute
Add the water, followed by the spices and vegetables.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to the boil and then cover and reduce the heat to simmer for about 2 hours.
Add the marjoram and cook for another 10 minutes.
Check the seasoning, and then serve with bread or dumplings.
And that’s it. My version of goulash, with very little effort! If you have the time you could also do this in the slow cooker.
This weekend I was looking for a vegetarian dish that would use up some of the vegetables we had left in the fridge, and helpfully I found a recipe from A Lebanese Feast that did just that. This was a Lebanese recipe that was basically a vegetable stew, and it suggests you can substitute the vegetable as you wish. I actually had pretty much what the recipe suggested, so just a few alterations. But this really was one of the easiest things I have cooked for a while; literally fry the onions and garlic and then add everything else and let it cook down in its own juices which produce an incredibly flavour.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 courgettes, sliced
1 aubergine, into cubes about 3cm
3 carrots, sliced
200g grean beans, cut into pieces
3 mixed peppers, chopped
4-5 tomatoes, chopped
1 tin beans (red kidney, black eyed, what ever you prefer)
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt to season
Heat the olive oil in a casserole dish and fry onions and garlic for around 5 minutes. .
Add all the remaining ingredients, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.
Cook for about 45 minutes and served with rice or bread.
As I said, that’s it. Just let it cook and serve. A nice easy dish to use up vegetables left over from the week, and something doesn’t require much effort.
This week I cooked some dishes inspired by Ethiopia. I don’t think I have ever really read about Ethiopian cuisine before, and so this week I ended up learning a lot. There are so many good websites and blogs with recipes for Ethiopian food that I was spoilt for choice. What became clear is that in a lot of recipes it would be very helpful to have a berbere spice mix, an ethiopian spice blend. While you can buy it I decided to try and make my own as I already had the component spices in the house. The recipe I went for was from the Daring Gourmet blog. Don’t be put off by the relatively long list of spices (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice berries, cardamon pods, cloves, dried chilies, sweet paprika, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and tumeric) its a very simple blend to make.
A lot of what I read suggested making a range of dishes to be served on Injera bread, but I didn’t time in the day to get hold of teff flour, so I ended up just focusing on the dishes, and serving everything with pitta bread. Of the many different dishes that looked and sounded delicious I went for three based on the ingredients I already had, with a mix of meat and vegetables: doro wat (a spiced chicken dish), mesir wat (a spiced lentil stew) and fasolia (a spiced vegetable dish).
Cook the onions on for five minutes, in a bit of the oil.
Add the rest of the oil and cook for another five minutes.
Add the tomato puree and simmer for 3 minutes.
Add the green beans and carrots, stir and cover.
Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then add the tomato, ginger, garlic, and salt and simmer.
I may have only recent discovered ethiopian recipes, but I will be sure to try more. I really like the berbere spice mix, which is quite spicy (and if you’re not so happy with spicy food you might want to reduce the amount of spice mix you add), but also smoky and adds so much flavour. I still have a bit left of the batch I made so I’ll probably add that to a soup at some point soon. Another country ticked off for this year.
As a dessert for my Filipino meal last week I attempted to make some bibingka (coconut sponge cakes). Now, the recipe I was using suggested cooking the cakes in banana leaves. I did attempt to find some but to no avail, so I adapted the recipe to use some little tart cases I had instead. What I didn’t quite realise was how big these coconut cakes were probably supposed to be so I ended up with a few small bibingka and then used the rest of the cake batter in a savarin cake tin. This was the first time I have baked anything with rice flour and coconut milk – usually coconut milk just ends up in curries. So, already this challenge for the year is teaching me to do different things with ingredients.
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups rice flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
one can coconut milk (400ml)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp dessicated coconut (grated fresh coconut if you have it)
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
In a large bowl mix together the eggs, brown sugar, rice flour, melted butter, coconut milk and baking powder. Make sure it is mixed thoroughly.
If you do manage to find a banana leaf then line a small-ish cake tin with the leaf (around 10cm diameter and 5cm deep) and pour in the batter. Or if you decide to use smaller tins/tart cases/any tin you have, make sure it has been lightly greased with butter. Pour the batter into your cake tin/s of choice.
If baking in a large cake tin as one cake, bake for around 1 hour or until brown lightly on top. If using smaller tins bake for about 30 minutes until lightly browned.
Sprinkle coconut on top of the cakes. Many recipes will brush the cakes with melted butter before sprinkling coconut but I decided not to in this case.
If possible serve warm.
That concludes my cooking inspiration from the Philippines for now.
There are so many different recipes for Hungarian goulash (or Gulyás) I really found it difficult knowing which one to go with. In the end I pulled inspiration from a few (Delia Online, The Hungary Dish, The Guardian, and Daring Gourmet). This probably means it is not an authentic recipe, but still takes inspiration from Hungarian influences.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
600g braising steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp hungarian paprika (or other smoked sweet paprika)
1 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp plain flour
2 bay leaves
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 red peppers
2 sticks of celery
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC.
Heat the oil in a casserole dish then brown the cubes of beef, a few at a time, and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the chopped onions and celery to the dish, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic.
Return the meat to the pan.
Add flour, paprika and mix.
Add the bay leaves and tomatoes. Add 200ml water and wine (or enough just to cover the mixture). Season well with salt and black pepper.
Once it reaches a simmering point, place the lid on the casserole dish and transfer to the oven to cook for 1.5 hours.
Then add the chopped peppers and carrots, replace the lid and cook for another 45 minutes.
I served this with boiled rice, but it would also go well just with some bread.
I first discovered apfelstreuselkuchen (apple crumble cake) in Borough market. I think I have probably had some version of this crumble cake before but would never have associated with German baking. Anyway, while in Berlin last year I tried the plum version, pflaumen streuselkuchen (plum crumble cake) in Balzac Coffee, a German coffee house chain. I have adapted the recipe in this post from one on All Recipes Deutschland.
For the base:
50g butter, softened
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
125ml milk (I used soya milk)
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of cinnamon
150 g plain flour
100g sugar (caster or golden caster)
Line a 25x25cm cake tin and preheat the oven to 200°C.
Mix the butter and sugar together for the base until smooth.
Beat in the egg.
Alternate adding a bit of the flour and baking powder with a bit of the milk until all has been mixed in.
Spread the mixture to cover the cake tin.
Chop the plums into small pieces and scatter over the base mixture.
For the topping mix the sugar and flour in a bowl and then rub in the butter with your fingers until it makes a crumble mixture. Sprinkle on top of the plum layer. Sprinkle
Over time, friends have got to know that I like to cook, and in particular that I like to cook things from different places. Last year a friend who is originally from the Philippines kindly brought me ‘The Filipino Cookbook‘. It’s been sitting there on the shelf for too long, and since she was coming to visit I said I would try and make something from the book. So, today’s recipe is a chicken dish which the book suggests is one of the most popular in the Philippines.
1.25kg bone-in chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks
1 tbsp oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp of brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 large onion
For the marinade:
180ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
65ml lime juice
250ml soy sauce
Combine marinade ingredients in a box and mix throughly before adding the chicken and refridgerating over night.
Remove chicken from the marinade.
Heat a skillet or sautee pan and add the oil, and then the garlic until it is lightly browned. Add the chicken and sautee for 10 minutes.
Add the marinade, peppercorns, sugar and bay lead. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, and reduce the eeat and simmer for around 45 minutes or until the meat is tender. Add the onion and simmer for another 5 minutes.
I served this with fried rice. To make the fried rice, which is best cooked in a wok if you have one add 1 tbsp of oil and sautee 3 cloves of garlic, and then add a chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add another tbsp of oil and increase the heat to high and add the rice. Stir fry for about 5 minutes but make sure you stir constantly to stop the rice sticking. Then pour over 3 eggs which have been lightly beaten and then 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.
The adobo chicken got the seal of approval from my friend, as did the bibingka (a kind of rice coconut cake) which I served for dessert – recipe to follow soon.
My entry into Indian cooking really began with Rick Stein’s book ‘Rick Stein’s India‘, after watching the series and deciding that I wanted to try and make some of the dishes. The recipes were clear, and the results have been great more or less every time. A favourite has to be chana masala (a chickpea curry) – I never thought one of my favourite foods would be a tomato and chickpea dish. But anyway, I’ve now cooked so many of the recipes from there that I wanted to try something different. I first discovered what Bagara Baingan was after visiting Exotic Dining restaurant in Kettering, my home town. We met a friend there for dinner a couple of years ago and the food was wonderful – of all the years I lived in the that town I hadn’t even realised the restaurant was there, and the sign outside really doesn’t do the food justice. My usual dish until recently would have been the murgh methi, a chicken based dish, but for some reason I decided to order something from the vegetarian section – Hyderabadi Bagara Baignan. According to saffron streaks: Bagara means tempering the oil with spices, a traditional Indian practice of cooking to enhance the aroma of a dish. The recipe uses the small types of aubergines (brinjal) that you should be able to find in larger supermarkets or if you live in a city like Coventry, the central market should have them (once again Coventry market has been my first port of call for getting ingredients I need for my year of global cooking). There are lots of different versions of the recipe available online and I have decided to go for an adapted version of the recipe from the blog Edible Garden. Already this year, by looking for cooking inspiration I have found so many great cooking blogs – I should compile a list at some point.
(Serves two people)
6 baby aubergines
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp peanuts (red skinned)
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
1 onion, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 dried kashmiri chilli (finely chopped)
A small lemon sized ball of tamarind
1 tbsp oil
Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds separately until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Then, blend together with the coconut and little water to form a smooth paste.
Extract the tamarind paste in 1 cup warm water. Grind the ginger and garlic (or mash in a pestle and mortar).
Fry the aubergines in 1 tbsp of oil until soft but still hold their shape (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
In the same oil, fry the onions and ginger garlic paste until golden. Then add the ground paste and fry for a minute.
To this, add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix well and fry for another minute.
Add the tamarind water, mix, then add the aubergines and cook closed for 5-10 mins.
It’s usually served with roti or rice, but we had it with naan bread. If you have any fresh coriander you could sprinkle some of that on top too.
I was making paella this week, and while I considered writing about how I made that, my challenge for this year was to cook new recipes rather than repeat those I’ve made before. So to go with the meal I made these little Spanish bread rolls, not that you really need bread, but it was there just in case people were extra hungry.
The recipe is adapted from the Hairy Bikers recipe (omitting the olives), although if you search for pan de horno online you can find lots of others.
1 tsp caster sugar
250ml warm water
1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
450g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
A bowl add the warm water, yeast and sugar and leave for 10 minutes until it has a layer of foam on top.
In a separate bowl add the flour and salt and mix together.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and then add the liquid mixture. Begin to mix together and when it starts to form a dough add the olive oil slowly to incorporate.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, and then put in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film for around an hour.
Prepare a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Take the dough, knock it back then divide it into eight pieces.
Shape each piece in to an oval shape by pulling the dough from the sides into the middle. Place them on the baking sheet with the smooth side up. Use scissors to snip the tops a couple of times. Cover with a tea towel for around 1 hour. In the mean time pre-heat the oven to 200oc.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until a light brown colour. Then place them on a wire rack to cool.