Top Food Blogs

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Brining the Turkey

We have all heard of bringing meat. It is usually white meats than can be dry after cooking, Turkey Chicken and Pork.
Our grandmothers did it and it appears to be back in vogue.
There are 2 types of brine a wet and a dry.
Both brine's require salt. A wet brine in a salted water solution often with sugar and some spices or aromatic]s. Dry brine just requires the bird to be rubbed with salt mixture.
The downside of the wet bringing of a turkey is the large container you require to submerge the bird in the bring solution.
Both need to be done about  6-24 hours before cooking and left in the fridge. They can be done 3 days ahead.Some say, cover, some say, don't. For me, I cover it, especially if you have a fridge that is being constantly opened or you are storing other food products in the same fridge.
The whole process is a kind of osmosis.
Certain muscle proteins are naturally dissolved by the salt in the brine solution. Once these proteins are dissolved, muscle fibres lose some of their ability to contract when cooking. Lack of contraction of the fibres leads to less internal moisture loss which in turn leads to juicier meat in the cooked bird.
Of course you still must be careful with the cooking of your bird but the brining will give you a very succulent turkey.

Dry Brine
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns crushed
2 tablespoons  thyme
2 tablespoons sage
zest of a lemon and orange

Mix all of the above in a bowl. Rub the whole turkey generously with a smaller amount on the legs and wings. Place in a large dish in the fridge and cover with cling film.

Rinse and pat dry the day of cooking. You may like to put some butter under the skin of the turkey prior to cooking or cover in bacon rashers.

Place the turkey in a preheated oven at 200 and cook for 30 minutes.
Turn down the heat and cook for a further 2 hours. If browning too quickly cover with foil.
A meat thermometer is a great idea and they aren't expensive. The internal temp must be 75 degrees at the thickest part. If you haven't covered with bacon brush often with butter in the final stages of cooking.
Happy Xmas

Thursday, 7 July 2016


As the weather turns even bleaker and colder one tends to stay indoors and perhaps if you are like me
cook. I have just made for the umpteenth time some delicious Samosa. These wonderful savoury little snacks involve a little bit of work if you wish to make your own pastry. You can also use bought pastry but the taste isn't quite the same but less work of course.
They can be made as vegetarian or meat. I like both but probably tend to do the meat option more.
We cooked the vegetarian way in Jaipur which is just as yummy . The Indians also use ghee a lot which changes the texture of the pastry. They are great to have in the freezer as a standby for entertaining or pre dinner drinks. Tasty filling and usually generate a bit of chatter as people haven't had them a lot and love them. Serve with a very good chutney or a simple plain yoghurt with mint.
The chilli component is up to the individual and could be omitted if wanted. The meat filling can be done ahead as well.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of oil or ghee
1/2 cup warm water

You can also use spring roll wrappers if you want.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl make a well and add the oil and water. Mix it all together from the inside out. Once all combined knead the dough for about 10 mins Set aside and cover with glad wrap whilst cooking the filling.

500 grams of minced beef
2 small onions finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1 small potato finely diced
1/2 cup green peas
1-2 green chillies
2 teaspoons garam masala
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoon chopped coriander
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoon salt
Oil for frying

Vegetarian filling

Omit the meat and add cashews and raisons if desired

Fry the onion and garlic with the ginger in the tablespoon oil. Add the salt and garam masala and the chillies. Stir through the minced beef until it changes colour. Add the potato and peas and the cup of water. Cover the pan and cook until the liquid has absorbed.
If you wish to add pre cooked potato and peas wait to add after the meat is cooked.
When cooked adjust seasoning you can add more salt and garam masala . Stir through the chopped mint and coriander. A favourite ingredient is mango powder but it isn't easy to obtain here. If you can get it use 1 teaspoon. Let the mixture cool.

For the pastry divide into small pieces. Roll out into a circle about the size of a saucer or 4inches approximately. Cut the circle in half.
Take each semi circle and fold diagonally into a cone. Place a teaspoon of filling into the cone and seal edges with a little water.

If using spring roll wrapper. Cut into strips lengthways approx 2 1/2 inches wide. Place a teaspoon of the filling at one end and fold diagonally over a couple of times to form a triangle. Seal with water and a beaten egg.

To cook they are deep fried. the process is quite quick in a hot oil as the pastry is all that needs to be cooked. I use a wok to do it in as it is deep. They will float to the surface and be puffed up. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with accompaniments.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Fish Curry or Meen Molee

As I am planning for our next trip to India, I am cooking lots of the dishes we did whilst there. In fact this curry has been a popular one with the group on tour. It is not too spicy and very easy to make. If you love fish and are perhaps a little timid about curries, I promise this will please. Its origins are more southern India with the main ingredients being fish and coconut milk. Molee means stew.
We had a fun couple of hours learning with Smita, and as the sun went down we enjoyed our efforts on the rooftop overlooking Jaipur.

1kg  thick white fish fillets ( cod, ling )
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh finely grated ginger
2-3 curry leaves
2  chopped chillies  red or green are fine (or to taste)
1 large ripe tomato chopped
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup coconut cream
lemon or lime juice

Wash the fish, pat dry and rub with a mix of salt and turmeric. Set aside.

Fry the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, and curry leaves in a tablespoon oil. Cook until onions are transparent.
Add the coconut milk and simmer gently.
Chop the fish into serving size pieces. Add to the coconut milk. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until
cooked. If you need to turn the fish do so gently so as not to break the fish. Add the the coconut cream and chopped tomato. Heat through for a minute. Remove from heat and add the lemon or lime juice and salt to taste. Serve with rice.

Penny a keen student who has made Meen Molee many times with our teacher Smita

Meen Molee

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Delhi and Rajasthan with Want Food Ideas

We have just returned from another fabulous tour of some of the most colourful cities in India.
We started our journey in Delhi, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. There is much history to see and learn dating back to 1000 BC.. It is a city of extremes in every way from Old Delhi to New Delhi. The city has a rich food culture a mixture of its long history and increasing influences of the world. We began with a meal at the best  Indian restaurant you will eat in, Indian Accent. Beautfiul innovative fusion Indian food, like Duck Kurachan. Delicious moist shredded duck in a cornetto with herbed yoghurt and chilli chutney. Tandoori bacon prawns and meetha achaar spare ribs all just part of a tasting menu.

Duck Kurachan

Cooking chips at the markets

Budding chefs at The Oberoi
We went from the sublime to the street food of Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi.
 We wound our way through a diverse maze of streets procuring food from vendors whose families have been there for 5 generations. Delcious morsels of food that sell out before lunch. This is the everyday life of Delhi and an important part of our food tour. Julab Gaman, Parathas, dal Tarka Samosas mint and coriander chutneys to name a few. The lanes were interspersed with stores selling colourful jewellery, saris, ribbons and braids that are so cheap.
We enjoyed a fun few hours with the head chef of the Oberoi Gurgaon in a cooking class to finish our Delhi stay.

Carolyn and Prue also waiting to taste the results of the cooking class

Chillies chillies and more chillies

Your outfit must match your produce

Happy Purple day at the markets

Saying good bye at the Oberoi Udaipur

Night street food

reverence at the Shik temple Kitchen

City Palace Udaipur

On to Agra to view the Taj Mahal and sample street food of a different kind. Delicious, so  inexpensive and freshly made, it sufficed for our evening meal. We were lucky enough to have another cooking class and tour of the Oberoi kitchens.
Jaipur the much loved capitol of Indias largest state and the gateway to Rajasthan. Forts and majestic temples , colour, energy and magic are all part of this amazing city
Cooking classes with  Dr Smita ....... in her home. A tiny kitchen but we managed to have lots of input and dined on the rooftop overlooking Jaipur.
Block Printing Jaipur

Fabulous colours of the street markets

Afternoon boat ride Lake Pichola Udaipur

Jan and Di waiting to eat after cooking  class

The girls at the palace in Udaipur

Dr Smita and husband Manoj our wonderful hosts for cooking classes

Spice classes in Udaipur were a relaxing way to finish our our trip after touring the food markets there. Beautifully presented produce that unbelievably sells out every day. Piles of colourful ground spices and simmering vats of oil to make chips. Saris hanging from windows and wide eyed children fascinated by the foreigners.
All of this eating is also broken by culture and of course shopping.
Carpets, jewellery, block prints from Jaipur, cashmere shawls and miniature paintings to name some of the purchases that we were lucky to make.
There is so much history to take in and so many sights to see. The people are wonderful,full of humour and eager to please.
The stunning Oberoi Hotels added to the experience. Palaces in themselves with staff that can't do enough for you. One could be forgiven for thinking they are a Maharani.

Very hard to swim in this pool Oberoi Agra

Very happy with that relaxed cooking class

Jan and our wonderful guide Ravi

Hot afternoon class in Jaipur waiting for our food

Mandy and Di enjoying their boat ride to dinner at Ambrai Udaipur

Just a taste of the splendour of the Oberoi Udaivillas

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Easter Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce

The egg is a symbol of Easter for Christians as it represents new life or re birth as Jesus rose from the dead.
As well as millions of chocolate eggs that are available for you to consume, have a look at some other ideas for eating eggs at Easter.
Shakshuka or eggs in purgatory has it origins in Tunisia, some say and Israel likes to claim it as theirs It is also similar to Mexico Huevos Rancheros. So whatever its origins it is so delicious and far more exciting than scrambled eggs or bacon and eggs.

The basic common ingredients are onion, tomato and eggs,and it is served in the pan it is cooked in.
A delicious dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce is so satisfying great for all,simple and quick.

If you are having an Easter brunch with family and friends this is a perfect dish to cook. The sauce can be done way ahead and the eggs popped in just before you are ready. If serving to children or guests who don't like spice just adjust accordingly
Serve it with some of your favourite toast to dunk in the egg or warmed pita bread.
Experiment with many different recipes adding bacon, minced meat, spinach, eggplant for a heartier dinner meal. Serve a salad as a side . This will serve 2 or 4 people depending on appetite and whatever else you have with it.

 2 tablespoon Rylstone olive oil
 1 finely chopped onion
 2 cloves finely chopped Garlic
 1/2 red capsicum finely chopped
 8 black olives sliced
 at least 2 Anchovies more if you love them
 1 teaspoon chilli
 1 teaspoon cumin
 1 Tin chopped tomatoes
 4 eggs
handful of chopped coriander and parsley
good chunk of feta
To serve pita or toasted sourdough

Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic onion and capsicum and cook until onion is transparent. Add the anchovies these will melt into the mix. Add the tomatoes, olives and spices
and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes stirring the mixture. You may season with salt and pepper at this point. Make four wells and add the eggs.
Traditonally you are meant to eat only when the whites are cooked and yolks are runny.
If you would like it slightly more cooked than this cover the pan for a minute. It is nice to have a bit of runny to dip your toast or bread into.
Garnish with chopped herbs and feta .Take your pan to the table.