Top Food Blogs

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Pulled Pork with Capsicum and Black Beans

This is another great winter meal. A substantial family dinner and one that can be made ahead. A wonderful dish to add lots of accompaniments and serve to a group when entertaining.

The chilli component is to taste obviously and you could substitute pork for beef.
You could serve it with brown rice, jalapenos,grated cheese, extra salsa, corn chips or simply in a wrap. It's not a Mexican dish but certainly has a Tex Mex flavour to it.
A lot of pulled pork is traditionally served in a roll with coleslaw which is also delicious.
I have a pressure cooker which speeds up the cooking time. If you don't have a pressure cooker use a heavy casserole and cook for 3 hours at 160 C or until able to shred with a fork.

2 kg pork shoulder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
2 chillies
2 cans peeled tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup smokey barbeque sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1-2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
3 tablespoons fresh or dried thyme
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cans black beans
2 capsicums of different colour cut into thin strips
fresh chopped coriander

Remove the skin from the pork and excess fat. Set aside to make cracking later.
Cut the pork into a couple of large pieces.
Chop the onion and garlic and chillies in a processor or by hand.
Fry the pork pieces in the olive oil until lightly coloured. Set aside .
Next fry the onion, garlic and chilli until onion is translucent.
Add the spices, fennel seeds, thyme, paprika and cayenne and cook another minute.
Add the cider vinegar, chicken stock, tomatoes, barbeque sauce and bring to a simmer whilst stirring.
Add salt and pepper to taste
Return the pork to the casserole or pressure cooker submerge in the liquid and cook in an oven at 160 for  1 1/2 hours.
If using a pressure cooker cook close the lid and cook on high for 30 minutes.
Turn off pressure cooker, release steam and remove lid. Add the capsicum, black beans and brown sugar. Cook for another 30 minutes using the pressure cooker as a saucepan without the lid. The idea is to reduce the sauce as well, so cook for longer if needed. Stir occasionally to stop it catching.
If using the oven add the capsicum and beans for the last 1 1/2 hours.
The meat should be stringy and easily pulled apart with forks. Garnish with coriander.
Serve with tortillas and sour cream or as above.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Lamb Biryani

This  wonderful dish is often served for a celebratory meal or for special occasions. The  main ingredient can be changed for chicken, vegetables or prawn. There are versions of it all over India and will more often than not use mutton. Most of the recipes call for a couple of large pieces of meat or chicken, but I prefer a lot of smaller pieces.
The central ingredient is always rice and the spices and of course the fresh flavour of coriander.
It does take awhile to make, however after visiting southern India I am a convert to the pressure cooker for the lamb dish.
Every cooking class we had, pressure cookers of varying sizes were used. This makes sense when you are cooking many dishes as it cuts the time down by half. I do own a pressure cooker but as we are all guilty of, it it sits in the cupboard and you can forget you have it. Well it has been getting a lot of use lately. You don't have to run out and buy one you can also use a large pot with a tight fitting lid.
The recipe does take time so do it when you have a day at home and want to cook something special for the family or friends. All the work is done ! Perfect in this horrible weather

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 cardamon pods
1 piece of cinnamon about 2 inches 5 cmd long
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 kilo diced lamb shoulder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chilli powder more if you like it hot or fresh chilli
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup of coriander
1/2 cup chopped mint
2 large brown onions thinly sliced
6 tomatoes chopped ( or approx 1 can of tomatoes )
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
The cook for 5-6 minutes only and set aside.

Heat some of the oil in a heavy pot and cook the onions until brown and caramelised approx 15 minutes. Be carful not to let it burn. Set aside.

In the same pot heat some more of the oil and when hot add the cinnamon stick, cardamon pods and peppercorns. Cook for 30 seconds then add the bay leaf  and stir through. Next add the spices, garlic ginger, turmeric and garam masala and lastly the tomato . Continue to cook scraping the pan and try not to let it burn.
Add the lamb pieces and sauté for 2-3 minutes until meat has browned slightly.  Add only 1/4 of the onion and half the chopped coriander  with 2 1/2 cups water and some salt.
Cover and bring to the boil and cook for 40 minutes or until lamb is nearly cooked. It will be 10-12 minutes if you have a pressure cooker with 2 cups water.

If using a saucepan you may want to stir the lamb from time to time to stop it catching. Add some of the yoghurt after cooking and stir through.

For the final stage pour the remainder of the oil into a large pan with a lid. Spread a little less than half the rice on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of the fried onion, then the lamb mixture on top. Layer with more rice reserving a little for the top, fried onion and then the lamb mixture and the little remaining rice on top. Drizzle a little oil over the top and cover the pan tightly. Simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes.

When you turn out the dish onto a platter the rice and lamb will combine. Garnish with mint and coriander. Serve with yoghurt or a yoghurt raita ( with cucumber )

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Fish with Coconut and Chilli Relish

This is not a southern Indian recipe but  a similar one from a health kick diet I went on recently. It is so reminiscent of many fish dishes we had on our recent tour. Chilli and coconut, lime juice and mustard seeds all ingredients that are used constantly in southern Indian cuisine.
This dish is beautiful and light on calories. The fish can be panfried or grilled depending on the type of fish used.
If you use a thick oily fish it will lend itself to chargrilling or barbecuing beautifully. If a white fish that is small fillets like whiting or flathead then flour and pan fry.
This recipe will feed 4 and is very easily increased

1 piece of fish per person ( I used flathead )
1 tablespoon of plain flour per fish piece
40 grams shredded coconut
1 red onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 geen chilli ( more if desired )finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1 teaspoon castor sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 bunches asparagus
250 grams green beans
Rylstone olive oil

Place the fish pieces in a plastic bag with the flour and add some salt and pepper. Toss the fish around in the bag until it is coated very lightly with the flour. Set aside.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onions with the mustard seeds. Add the coconut and toast lightly. Set all aside to cool.
Once cool add the green chilli and chopped coriander to the mixture.
Mix the lime juice with the crushed ginger and castor sugar  Stir together until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the lime juice dressing to the coconut mixture and set aside for serving.
Steam the asparagus and green beans.
Heat the oil for the fish in a shallow pan and gently fry the fish until it is white rather than opaque meaning it is cooked. This doesn't take long if using flathead or whiting , so be vigilant. If you are using a thick cut of fish it will take longer and you could do this on the barbecue.
Place the steamed asparagus and beans in a mound on the plate and cover with the fish pieces.
Drizzle the coconut lime dressing over the fish and around the plates.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Culinary Tour of Southern India

Old Rice Barges converted to stunning luxurious houseboats
Kumakoran Lake Resort

We have just been on another tour of India to the south this time.
From Kerala to Tamil Nadu we learnt about the ancient spice traders and the cuisine that the locals
are so proud of. Quite different to the north in many ways but fabulously interesting in different ways.
So many of our favourite spices are grown in this rich land with pepper being gold
Lush plantations of tea adorn the hillsides and palm trees are abundant on the coast.
Coconut is used in many of the dishes and seafood is prevalent.
We started our trip in Mumbai and had our first street food of the south at Chowpatty Beach.  We sampled the most delicious snacks and my mouth still waters at the thought of them.
Pav Bahji Vada Pav and Pani Puri to name a few.
Nutmeg freshly picked
We then flew down to Cochin the queen of the Arabian Sea. An active port and the commercial hub of Kerala. We enjoyed a cooking demonstration and dinner of Syrian Christian cuisine.
A tour of a couple of farms Thomas Chettans and Phillipkuttys had us captivated by the size and quantity of fruit vegetables and spices that grown there.  Beautiful tropical greenery everywhere
They both entertained us with a wonderful lunch of organic home grown produce

A night on a houseboat cruising the enchanting  backwaters of Kerala was a highlight for many. The houseboats are converted rice barges and were equipped with every modern convenience of a beautiful hotel. Animals at dawn feeding at the waters edge were a plenty.

The next night we spent in the Kumakoram Lake Resort another glamourous tropical hideaway.

We ventured to the Chettinad area of Tamil Nadu. Not the opulence of the north but grand and amazing architecture never the less. The Chettinad region became a focus of internationalised tastes. As well as the food , the Chettiars constructed  palaces or forts of teak and marble sometimes running to 50 rooms adorned with chandeliers and richly patterned tiles for their families. Times have changed and the families have now ventured to other parts of the world to make their fortunes and the houses sit abandoned. They are used for wedding ceremonies if at all.
Abandoned mansion of Chettinand
Ready for anything on the early morning boat cruise 

Thanks to Unesco, these villages and the vast number of old mansions, are being preserved.
We were lucky to stay at the beautiful Bangala hotel . This heritage hotel builds its menus around the basic Chettiar cuisine and adds from a variety of cuisines from countries the Chettiars have travelled. The food is influenced from the late 18th century when they established businesses in  Burma French Indo China, Dutch East Indies, Malaysia and Singapore

We stayed at the Bangala in the town of Karaikudi near Madurai The hotel is a family owned building originally and has an exotic collection of antiquities gathered by the owner. We enjoyed another cooking class here and loved it so much we all purchased the cook book.
Chettinadu had an old village of  300 mansions that now sit abandoned. The homes of old traders.....
The french town of Pondicherry was so different you could imagine you weren't in India. Our cooking class was with Shyama who entertained us through the food and flower markets. This was prior to a fabulous and informative cooking class in her home

Some of the gals and our favourite cooking teacher Shyama
Spice markets of Pondicherry
House boat luxury
At the Taj Hotel in Mumbai
Pru at the beautiful Bangala Hotel
So many memories, so much beautiful food and new friends made. Another wonderful group and fabulous tour. The people and the guides we meet along the way help to make the trip an unforgettable experience. A big thank you to our gorgeous kind and entertaining driver Ajeesh who looked after us all so well from Kerala to Chennai.
Just planning the next tour !!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Summer Chicken and Rice Salad

Christmas is over. My turkey was absolutely delicious the brine made such a difference.
We had a little left over and I made this salad instead of using chicken. It worked a treat. It is a  suitable main meal actually and readily adaptable. It is so easy and absolutely delicious.
So if you want to have more turkey through the year try it with this salad through the warmer months.
It is a variation of many recipes you find in Middle Eastern Cookbooks and reminds me a little of an
Ottolenghi. I use a mountain blend rice as I find it a bit nuttier and more interesting than regular rice which you can also use if desired

1 whole cooked chicken you can also use just cooked breast if preferred
2 cups mountain blend rice This is sold in a small box in the supermarket and is a blend of Wild Red and Brown
1 large red onion
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup hazelnuts ( again change it around if you have other nuts you prefer almonds and macadamia are also lovely
1/2 cup craisons or raisons
1/2 pomegrante
1 large coasrsely grated carrot
1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup coriander

1/2 cup Rylstone olive oil
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablepoons red wine vinegar

Mix the dressing in a small jar with a lid.
 Remove the chicken from the bones and toss with some of the dressing.
Sauté the red onion in a little olive oil and remove from the pan.
Fry the nuts in the spice mixture until slightly golden.
Cook the rice in a rice cooker or using your favourite method. This mountain blend does take 30 minutes not or usual 10.
Toss the nuts, onion, craisons and rice together. Season with sea salt and pepper.
 Then add the grated carrot. Lastly top with the chicken and pomegranate seeds and the chopped herbs. Drizzle the dressing over just before serving.

Most of this meal can be done ahead and add the chicken and herbs just before serving.

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.