Paneer / Matar Paneer

One thing I have found, living on a small Island is that there are loads of groups around and one I really like is Island Apron. As the name suggests, it is concerning cooking and the other day someone made Paneer – a recipe I have been meaning to try for ages. It was the kick I needed and I popped to the local shop for some organic milk to try it out.

A fresh cheese commonly used in Indian cuisine, Paneer is a great cheese to fry and use in various dishes.   I found it extremely easy to make and decided to use my first batch making a tasty dish called Matar Paneer which is delicious served with rice or naan bread.   This recipe serves 2 or can be used as a side dish for another meal.

INGREDIENTS for the Paneer

2L Organic Whole Milk
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt (optional)
Piece of fine muslin

METHOD:

Heat the milk in a large saucepan to just under boiling point being careful it doesn’t suddenly boil over.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Curds and whey

 

The milk should start to curdle immediately. If it doesn’t add a little more lemon juice.

 

 

Use kitchen gloves to squeeze the cheese

Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Line a colander with fine muslin and carefully pour the curds into the muslin.  There are many uses for left-over whey from adding to homemade stock to using it as a supplement for the garden!

Pull the muslin up (I used clean kitchen gloves as it is quite hot at this point) and squeeze as much moisture out of the cheese as possible.

 

Shape into either a round, or a slab and wrap the cheese in the muslin. Pop it on a plate, or in a bowl and place a weight on top.  Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

I taped a tin and bowl on top of my cheese to weight it overnight.

 

INGREDIENTS for Matar Paneer

1 tablespoon oil
1 quantity of paneer, cut into cubes
1 to 2” of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ to ½ teaspoon chilli flakes (or use fresh chopped chilli)
Approximately 200g chopped tomatoes from a carton, or fresh
150g frozen peas
1 teaspoon garam masala
Fresh coriander, chopped

METHOD

Cubed Paneer

Cube the Paneer.  Heat the oil in a large fry pan until really hot. Add the paneer and fry until it starts to turn brown. This happens really quickly so don’t take your eyes off it. Turn it over to brown all sides then put on to kitchen paper on a plate and set aside.

Paneer doesn’t melt when fried

Add the ginger, cumin, turmeric, ground coriander and a few chilli flakes to the pan and fry for about 1 minute.    Add in the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes until everything is mixed together well and fragrant.   You may need to add a little water if the mix is too thick.    Season to taste with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the peas and continue simmering for two minutes before stirring in the paneer and garam masala.    Gently stir until the cheese is warmed through.

Pile into a bowl and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander. Serve with rice or naan bread.


Delicious freshly made or reheated the next day.
Recipe adapted from Good Food Guide.

All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

 

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Turkey Bobotie

I had my first taste of Turkey Bobotie nearly 40 years ago when a friend cooked it for me one evening.  It was absolutely delicious and I have been cooking it ever since.  I have no idea where my friend got the recipe from but searching on Google I find that Bobotie is a   South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat (often beef or pork) baked with an egg-based topping.

Because Bobotie reheats beautifully (covered in foil) I always make a large one but the recipe could easily be halved.  I often use gluten-free bread as my husband is gluten intolerant but have used sourdough and ordinary bread in the past; the bread keeping the Bobotie lovely and moist.   More topping can easily be added by the addition of another egg and a little more milk.  This is a lightly spiced dish, full of delicious sweet and spicy flavours.  I usually use a hot curry powder and it isn’t overpowering.

INGREDIENTS:

2 slices white bread (gluten-free can be used)
2 tablespoons oil of choice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 onions, chopped
2lb minced turkey (raw)
2 tablespoons curry powder
3oz flaked almonds
4oz sultanas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1.5 teaspoons dried)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Mango chutney
3 eggs
½ pint+ whole milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:
Place the bread in a small bowl and pour over the milk.

Gently saute the garlic and onion in the oil for 5 minutes.   Add the turkey mince and fry until slightly browned and cooked through breaking up the turkey as it cooks.

Stir in the curry powder, almonds, sultanas, parsley, lemon juice, chutney and seasonings.

Squeeze the milk out of the bread (retaining the milk in the bowl) and add the bread to the turkey mixture, stirring it in thoroughly.

Spoon the mince into an oiled ovenproof dish.

Beat the eggs with the milk and pour over the mince.

BAKE: 350°F Gas 4 for approximately 40 minutes or until the egg mixture has set and the turkey piping hot.

 

Serve the Bobotie with “yellow rice” and slices of banana, or a fresh green salad.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Dried Herbs

Having moved to our wonderful new home in March of this year, I haven’t been trying out many new recipes lately but sticking to my tried and trusted favourites. We are having such an exciting time sorting everything out and my collection of “must try” recipes is getting bigger and bigger by the week.

We are very lucky to have four raised beds down one side of our garden (south facing as well) and I was determined to get my herbs under way as soon as the undergrowth was removed. I don’t think there is anything nicer than using fresh herbs from your own garden and when they grow in abundance, then is the time to dry them.

I love having a walk-in larder now and it is the perfect place to dry herbs.  An old extending curtain rail was a perfect fit for one end of the room.

So far, I have dried mint, sage and parsley and they easily crumble into the large cup of a Nutribullet and a very quick burst breaks them down.  I’ve been saving my glass jars for just this purpose.

It’s been a wonderful summer for herbs and I have masses of coriander, fennel, basil, thyme and rosemary growing away as well as the mint, sage and parsley.  My coriander has done so well that I am leaving some flowering so that I can collect the seeds.   Perhaps it is the dry summer, or maybe it is where I am living now, but my basil is doing exceptionally well and I haven’t yet seen a slug.  Back on the mainland I had to grow basil in hanging baskets and even then the snails and slugs managed to reach it.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Plum Almond Honey Torte

I bought a punnet of plums intending to make a plum crumble but the very same evening I spotted this recipe from Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures (adapted from Erin Scott Yummy Supper Cookbook) and decided straight away that I just had to try out this Torte as it looked so tasty.

With so few ingredients, and easy to make, this Torte looked and tasted absolutely delicious.  I used a loose-bottomed 8″ tin rather than a spring-form cake tin and the torte slipped out perfectly.  The difficult part was leaving it to cool enough to try a slice.

The following evening, my grand-daughter, who is one of our main testers, announced that it was one of her favourite desserts.   At just 8 years old (8 years and 1 day to be exact) she happily tries anything I put in front of her attempting to list the ingredients I have used, and she is getting very clever at picking out the correct ones.

This is a decidedly rich dessert with the combination of almond, butter and eggs so it would probably serve 12 people.

INGREDIENTS:

165g salted butter plus a pinch of salt
330g ground almonds
180mls honey
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or almond extract for a frangipane taste)
3 plums, sliced

METHOD:

Line the bottom of a loose-bottomed 8” or 9” cake tin with parchment paper and grease the sides.

Melt the butter in a saucepan until it starts to go golden brown.   For a deeper taste, leave to go further as in a beurre noisette.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before adding the honey and stirring until well mixed.

Allow to cool further before adding the egg yolks and vanilla, stirring very well until combined.

Add the ground almonds, pinch of salt and mix well until it forms a thick paste.   Spoon this mixture into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or your fingers.

Arrange the plum slices decoratively on the top and pop the tin in the freezer for 30 minutes.   This stops the butter melting before the rest of the cake cooks.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 150°C until the edges have cooked and the top lightly browned.  This can be finished off under the grill if the centre is taking longer than the edges.

Remove from the oven and when completely cooled, from the cake tin.  Chill but remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to eat it.  Slice into portions with a sharp knife.

Plum Almond Honey Torte

This torte keeps for a few days in the fridge.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Chicken Chow Mein

I absolutely love this recipe as it can be adapted to use up almost any vegetable in the kitchen: instead of using bok choy, sugar snap peas could be used or green beans, cabbage, spinach or broccoli. Prawns instead of chicken. Make it a little more ‘tangy’ by adding some crushed chilli flakes or a little more Sriracha. The noodles could be fresh or dried – egg or ramen or even spiralized vegetables. The list is endless.

This is a quick 20 minute recipe which can be cooked in just one pan. Leftovers will keep perfectly in the fridge and will quickly stir-fry for another meal.

Cooking the chicken thighs underneath the weight of a large pan stops them spitting, but also produces the wonderful crispy skin which adds so much to the flavour.

 

INGREDIENTS:

Vegetables cut ready for use

250g fresh rice noodles (or noodles of choice)
1 cup bean sprouts
2 boneless skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 cup shredded bok choy (or mixed cabbage)
½ cup carrot matchsticks
1 green pepper, cut into thin slices
Bunch of Spring onions, cut into thin lengths
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Toasted sesame seeds

INGREDIENTS for Sauce

2 tablespoons oyster sauce (gluten free)
3 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon arrowroot
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine
Good pinch of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Sriracha

METHOD:

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large wok or fry pan and place the chicken thighs, skin side down in the pan. Cover with a sheet of baking parchment and rest a heavy saucepan on top of them. Leave on a medium/high heat for three to four minutes or until the skin is browned and crispy. Turn over and continue cooking until done. Remove from pan;  allow to sit for a few minutes then cut into slices with a sharp knife.   Leave to one side.

Make the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together.   If the sauce seems a little thick, add a dash of water.

Add the chopped garlic and grated ginger to the fat in the pan and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the bok choy, carrot sticks, green pepper and onions and cook, tossing frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly cooked but still crispy.  Season then add the noodles and beansprouts and toss well.  Pour the sauce over the vegetables and add the chicken. Toss well for another minute until heated through and the sauce is mixed in well.

Pile into bowls and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Delicious Chicken Chow Mein

Ring the changes with shredded beef, prawns or meat of choice.   Make this a vegetarian meal by using just vegetables.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Broccoli Rice

I read an interesting article in the newspaper earlier this week about broccoli and the healthiest way to eat it.  As I had a large head of broccoli in my fridge I decided to experiment with it as I was cooking Sticky Salmon for our meal in the evening and instead of making Coconut Rice as was usual, I used the broccoli, a small wedge of red cabbage which happened to be left-over, some onions, garlic and a handful of flaked almonds.

The result was absolutely delicious and so tasty.  The rice was full of flavours and perfectly complimented the sticky, spicy salmon.  The cabbage was still a little crispy and there were a few slightly crunchy pieces of broccoli which I hadn’t chopped as small, but the taste of broccoli shone through and really lifted the rice.  This dish will most definitely be made again, and quite soon.

Chopped broccoli and red cabbage

Chopping broccoli into 2mm pieces and letting them ‘sit’ for 90 minutes before gently stir-frying increases their sulforaphane levels by 2.8 times, research suggests.   Previous studies show the compound sulforaphane helps to maintain people’s blood sugar levels and may even have anti-cancer properties.   Although unclear exactly why this occurs, researchers from Zhejiang University in China believe waiting before cooking chopped broccoli may allow sulforaphane to ‘develop’.    They add 30 minutes of sitting time may be sufficient.    It is important to chop broccoli as sulforaphane can only be absorbed if the vegetable is ‘damaged’. 

Full article in the Daily Mail

INGREDIENTS: to serve 2 to 4
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful of flaked almonds
Large head of Broccoli, finely chopped
¼ wedge of red cabbage, finely sliced
Cooked Basmati Rice
Olive oil or coconut oil (or oil of choice)

METHOD:

Leave the finely chopped Broccoli to sit for about 90 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a large wok and add the onions and garlic. Stir fry over a high heat tossing them continuously until translucent and starting to brown.

Add a handful of flaked almonds together with the broccoli and red cabbage. Stir fry quickly, tossing to make sure the almonds don’t burn.  Cook for about 1 minute.

 

Add the cooked rice and mix well, tossing until the rice is heated through.

Serve with Sticky Salmon and a little of the left-over marinade which can be heated in a saucepan, simmered until thick.

Broccoli Fried Rice

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Been quiet for a while…….

I’ve definitely been quiet for a while now and have posted very few recipes on my blog.

Last August, we made the decision to move permanently from the mainland to our beloved Isle of Wight and we put things in motion to sell our home in Camberley.

Strangely enough, the first consideration was our tortoise, Tolly. He is almost my age (rising 70) and hibernates underground every year, emerging late February bleary eyed to welcome a new Spring.    I’ve had him for over 40 years so he really is a member of our family.  Our problem was that if he started to hibernate early, we would never find him as he goes so deep that we cannot dig him out. This was solved almost immediately when we realised two of our friends already had 22 tortoises and they would never notice one more!   Tolly must have thought he had died and gone to heaven when he arrived at his new home late August. He straight away shoved all the males out of the way and had his way with most of the ladies. We won’t need to worry about him having to hibernate in a large wooden crate as I think he will sleep his way through winter.

Tolly meeting some of his new friends

They say moving house is one of the top stressors of all time so we decided to try and reduce this a bit by selling our house in Camberley and moving into our friend’s “shed” before trying to find a new home!   It really is called The Shed but it is so warm and comfortable and snug that it is great.  Not only does it have beautiful views, but a lovely log burner to keep us warm on cold days.

View from our “Shed”

 

Mishka and Joseph

Our two cats settled in immediately and straight away told the resident 4 cats (through the windows) that the shed was ‘theirs’ and totally off limits for the duration of their stay. To see this huge black cat called Freddy backing away from the window whilst my tiny little fur ball Mishka stands with her front feet on the glass is quite hilarious.

 

Unfortunately with the majority of my furniture in storage, I have a very limited range of cooking utensils, pots and pans so I’m keeping my cooking to tried and trusted favourite meals and delicious salads. I did manage to cook an enormous Ham at Christmas with the most delicious glaze of cranberry and orange but it took over an hour to come to a simmer! Tasted great though once boiled and roasted and didn’t last long when shared with friends.

We are in the process of buying a beautiful new home just five miles from where we are staying and only ten minutes walk from a little village and sandy beach. Unfortunately the process of buying or selling a property in this country always seems to take forever but we hope to be moved in for Spring.   Our new home has a walled garden and has raised beds which will be ideal for my new collection of fresh herbs.  I can’t wait.

I have so many recipes waiting to be tried out; five new cookbooks all of which look amazing and I hope to be back up and cooking new things in the not too distant future and sharing them with all of you.

 

 

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