Friday, January 17, 2014

Sweet potato vegetarian chilli

I'm not sure this is really a chilli - far too many ingredients, and sweet potato? But it tasted good, and certainly covers most of your "five-a-day". I was going to make it in the slow cooker, but ended up doing rice pudding instead so just cooked it on the hob. I should have used another chilli, too, but I wasn't sure how strong the ones I'd bought were so played it safe.

1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 fresh chillies
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and black pepper
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
Jar white beans
Jar kidney beans
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces

Soften the onions for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, then add the pepper, chillies and garlic and keep frying for another 5 minutes or so.
Add the remainder of the ingredients and simmer for an hour or so. If it looks too dry add a glass of water.

From here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Slow Cooked Rice Pudding


100g pudding rice
50g sugar
700ml semi-skimmed milk
Knob of butter
Tsp cinnamon
Tsp vanilla extract

Cook all ingredients in the slow cooker on hot setting for 4 hours until gloopy. Stir every 30 minutes.

Gloopy is a technical term.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pork and Cider Hotpot

First go with a slow cooker, and it tasted pretty good.


3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and very finely sliced
1kg belly pork, skin removed and fat trimmed, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf, torn in half
500ml dry cider
1½ tsp English mustard

Switch on the slow cooker, low setting.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, ovenproof casserole over a medium-low heat. Add the onions, season well and cook, stirring often until really soft – at least 15 minutes. Don't let them brown.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat with the remaining oil and brown the pork, in batches, seasoning it as you go. It should be nicely caramelised all over. Add the pork, and any juices it has released, to the soft onions, and stir well. Add the thyme and bay leaf and pour in the cider. It should just cover the meat. Bring to the boil then cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for 7 hours.

Taste the juices, season to taste, stir in the mustard, and serve with plenty of fluffy mashed potato to soak up the juices.

Note: initially I only cooked it for 4 hours, while the meat was cooked through and tasted fine it wasn't as tender as I'd hoped. Another 3 hours sorted that out.

Slow Cooking

I had a first go at slow cooking this weekend, using my shiny new Crock Pot. Using a recommendation from a web page I had a go at Pork and Cider Hotpot. While the flavour was great, the recipe wasn't a complete success: I underestimated just how slowly the food cooks.

I was looking forward to meat basically falling apart in my mouth, but it didn't happen. I didn't want to have lunch too late, so I "only" cooked the food for four hours, and while it was definitely done it was still a little tougher than I'd hoped. After lunch there was still a fair amount left over, so I stuck the cooker on again for another three hours, and bingo! Lesson learned: for lumps of pork you need to cook (on low) for at least 7 hours.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Simple Goan chicken curry

I made this one back in November, but it bears repeating. The original called for 1 tsp of cayenne pepper in the marinate and another tsp of mustard seeds before cooking, but I didn't bother adding either as the girls were going to be eating it too.

4 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1x400ml can coconut milk

For the marinade
1 tsp paprika (pimentón dulce)
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
75ml/2¾fl oz water

Preparation method
Mix together all the marinade ingredients to give you a loose, smooth paste. Add the chicken pieces and coat them in the paste. They are best left to marinate for around 30 minutes to 1 hour, but if you're in a hurry a few minutes will do.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and add [the mustard seeds. When they start to pop and jump about in the pan, add] the onion and garlic. Cook until they're golden brown before adding the chicken and any extra paste from the marinade. Fry over a gentle heat for about 8 minutes before adding the coconut milk. Increase the heat slightly and bring to a simmer. Cook for a further 10-12 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly before seasoning with salt if necessary and serving with rice or naan bread.

From BBC Food.

Chickpea, tomato & spinach curry

Nice curry, fairly similar to the chickpea, tomato & aubergine curry I make on a regular basis. It's based on a BBC Good Food recipe, and I'll certainly be using this mix of spices again.

Spice mix

The original used broccoli as well as spinach, but I didn't have any so left it out. I also used ground ginger instead of fresh, and cayenne pepper instead of chilli flakes, although if I make it again I'll probably use fresh chillies. The final changes were to ignore the lemon, and to substitute "1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds mixed with 1 tbsp chopped cashews" for a tablespoon of tahini. I think here the original would have been better, adding a bit of crunch which would be nice, but again I didn't have the ingredients around so had to substitute.


1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
400g tomatos (can)
½ tbsp oil
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp yeast extract (we used Marmite)
4 tbsp lentils
6 tbsp coconut cream
400g can chickpeas, drained
100g bag baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp tahini


Put the onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes in a food processor or blender and whizz to a purée.
Heat oil in a large pan. Add the spices, fry for a few secs and add purée and yeast extract. Bubble together for 2 mins, then add lentils and coconut cream. Cook until lentils are tender. Stir in chickpeas and spinach, and swirl through sesame and cashew mixture. Cook for another minute or two until the spinach has wilted.

Original from:

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Lamb Vindaloo

Made the lamb vindaloo recipe from my "An Indian Housewife's Recipe Book" (Laxmi Khurana - Amazon link) although I halved the chilies and the cayenne pepper to make it acceptable to my wife. The chilies were freshly picked from my plants.

The dish was excellent: the lamb melted in the mouth, the potatoes were nicely filling, and the sauce just right. The only minor complaint I have is not the recipe's fault, but rather the garam masala I bought.

Garam masala is a mix of spices - that much I knew - and I never realised how much variety there could be between mixes. The mix I bought (at Sabores del Mundo in Madrid) is made by Natco, and uses a little too much cinnamon for my liking. Indeed, as I was cooking the vindaloo I actually had to check I hadn't stuck cinnamon in by mistake! It's not going to stop me using the pot, at least not for the moment, but I'm certainly going to be looking out for another brand to replace it.

As mentioned, the following recipe uses half the chilies and cayenne of the original.

450g potatoes
50ml cooking oil
1 large onion finely chopped
3 fresh green chilies, chopped
3 tsp tomato puree
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garam masala
450g diced lamb
1 tbsp water
Chopped green coriander for garnish

Peel and dice potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
Heat oil and add onion, chilis and cook until onion is golden brown.
Add tomato puree and spices and the lamb. Mix well, lower the heat and simmer gently for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the water (you can add more if you need to thin it down) and the potatoes. Let simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

Serve with plain rice.

2014 Resolution: One new recipe a week

As is traditional, a new year means a New Year's resolution. And this year, ignoring the baseline plans for weight loss, injury healing, training and study (these are constants) I've decided to become more adventurous in the kitchen: I will cook at least one new recipe per week.

I'm not limiting myself, here: starters, main courses, pudding, side dishes... whatever, it just needs to be new. Again, the source could be the internet, one of the many cookbooks I already own, or even something I make up myself. But it must be new to me.

To help me on this quest I've done a couple of things: I've bought a shiny new Crockpot from Amazon; and I've located a few international food shops in Madrid.

The new Crockpot is from Amazon:

It arrived yesterday, and while I haven't yet used it it definitely looks well-made. And big :)

Perhaps unfortunately I visited one of the shops just before Christmas. Possessed by the Spirit of Christmas Present, I bought rather more than I needed, including mince pies, chocolate, vanilla coke for the girls to try, and most importantly: indian spices.

  • Garam Masala
  • Fenugreek
  • Curry leaves
  • Star anise
  • Turmeric
Nothing that exotic in a UK supermarket, but hard to get hold of here. 

And so, fully prepared - Bring on 2014! I am ready!