Thursday, 24 April 2008

I've been meaning to write this entry for a while now; let me introduce you to my niece, Nusaiba (Nu, Nu Nu, Say say, See see, Baa Baa)! She's ace! Sadly though I don't get to see her as often as I would like, but this is a picture of her from when I was in London last: Cute right? But actually this was the worst trip to the park that you can imagine, she was NOT happy! I think me and my brother-in-law disturbed her during 'nap time' hoping she would amuse us at the park. But she was sleepy:Two beautiful people captivated by the mirror:UMMM good choice cookie monster:

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Butter Chicken This is a pretty good recipe, probably not the healthiest but the good ones rarely are! The cooking method used in this recipe creates an almost roasted flavour without the need of heating up an oven! I used 6 drumsticks for this recipe.
Heat a large, heavy-based lidded pan over a moderate heat. Add some olive oil and about 25g of butter. Generously season drumsticks with salt and pepper and when the butter is foaming, drop in the drumsticks, and fry until lightly browned all over.Cover the pan with a lid and leave the drumsticks to fry gently for 20-25 minutes, turning or shaking the pan regularly. At the end of the cooking time remove the lid and add a further 15/20g of butter, along with some minced garlic (2-3 cloves), a handful of chopped parsley and the juice of half a large lemon. Take the casserole off the heat and leave the flavours to infuse for a few minutes before serving.
I serve these drumsticks with sweet potato mash or couscous using the juices from the pan to top either.

Friday, 18 April 2008

This is the first time I'm making paella, though Ive ordered it many times at restaurants. I was at the fish counter in my local supermarkets this afternoon, I thought I would get some Squid, but unfortunately the lady before me brought the last lot, but this didn't put me off making my paella I got a few king scallop pieces, some live mussels and some interesting looking Tilapia fillets, unlike the scallops these were incredibly cheap I brought two sizable fillets for under a pound! (perfect for my trial paella)
The other ingredients that I purchased were a box of prawns (medium sized- but the bigger you get the better), an onion, yellow or red pepper, one lemon, bunch flat leaf parsley, paella rice, saffron,
You should also have seasoning, butter, olive oil, sweet paprika, 4x garlic cloves, fish stock, white wine vinegar, 2x tomatoes, frozen peas,

Chop the onion finely and the pepper in strips fry in some olive oil till soft but not darkened (about 10 minutes).
You can prepare your mussels whilst the onions are cooking by washing and cleaning them and discarding any that remain open after a light tap. Heat some butter or oil in a pan with a lid and fry one of the garlic cloves, add one table spoon of white wine vinegar and then the mussels and finlay about 75ml of hot stock. Bring to the boil and cook on high heat for about 4 minutes shaking the pan often to make sure every thing is cooked evenly. When the cooking time is over check the mussels and discard any that have failed to open. Drain and reserve the cooking juices and keep the cooked muscles in the pan covered.
Try not to eat them all before the Paella is ready!

When the onions and peppers have been cooking for 10 minutes or so, add the remaining garlic (chopped finely) and the tomato's. Fry for a further minute and then add the paella rice 80g per person (you will need double the volume of rice used for the stock), mix the rice in well and fry for a few minutes. Pour in the fish stock (about 800g also add the reserved cooking juices from the mussels) and a good pinch of saffron, the stock should completely cover the rice, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat so you have a gentle simmer.Now add one teaspoon of salt and a good pinch of pepper to the pan, next add one table level tablespoon of sweet paprika and gently mix into the rice. I used one of my fish fillets and chopped it into small (1 inch) pieces and pushed them into the rice I also halved a couple of my scallops and added them in to the pan as well. Simmer the paella for up to 30 minutes, don't be afraid to add a little more stock if you feel it is being absorbed too quickly, also don't be tempted to stir the rice too much, instead move your pan slightly about the fire to make sure you have an even cook.
20 minutes or so into the cooking time you can add some peas to your paella, I also covered my rice with the prawns and gently pushed them down a little. Unfortunately I only had small prawns (though they were quite plum and meaty) but use large shelled prawns if available.
When the cooking time is over cover the paella with some baking paper and then lay a lid on top, until you are ready to serve, and when you do be sure to squeeze plenty of lemon over the dish and a handful of chopped parsley. I also gave my rice a good drizzle of olive oil and served with the 'garlicky' muscles on top.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Red SaladOh no! I went and brought a Delia cheat ingredient, but without knowing it, of course I shouldn't have (we're only encouraging her on this new path). 
I had wanted to make a chicken salad last night, just something very quick after a very large lunch. So I made a quick trip to Sainsbury's for a bag of salad, my new found and much loved marinated baby beetroot and a jar of roasted whole peppers (the latter was the incriminating item- complete with an unnoticed "Delia Cheats" sticker). 
It was when I returned home from the supermarket that I realised - not only had I indirectly advocated frozen mash but that also I only had Beef mince in the fridge and not the chicken breast I needed!
Determined to atone for my mistakes (and to find a better home for the 'Delia Cheat' ingredient than it had anticipated) I persisted with creating a salad and it turned out great!

I mixed into the mince (about 400g) one egg salt and pepper about a table spoon each of cumin and coriander powder and a teaspoon of bright red smoked paprika. With wet hands I made about 27 little meatballs. After heating up some olive oil I placed the meat balls into the pan to fry, turning occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. In the mean time I assembled the salad in a large bowl; cherry tomatoes halved, chopped red onions and the little beetroot balls, the the whole roasted peppers chopped into large chunks and lastly the leaves. I also made some croutons rubbed with garlic and herbs. When the meatballs were cooked through I picked them from the pan and let them cool on a plate before adding them to the bowl of salad too. To the remaining juices in the pan I added some lemon juice, salt and pepper a little rose Harrisa and a teaspoon of chopped capers. I then drizzled this over the salad and garnished with some coriander leaves. A great 'meaty' salad, served alone or with some home made wedges and dip. 

                                                 No canned mince allowed!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

At least I had the Maa Days
A small pictorial tribute to a day during my sisters visit:
Me and Maa outside Haddo House

The house

The Dead Dogs

Robin Climbs a tree

Maa climbs a tree

How many people in the trees

Me and Ma on the leaning tree... which was leaning over the pond before Maarya got on it!

More tree.. ahh the tree time!

Looking for sheep MA



The front of the house

Maarya in the kitchen...

Curry 1

Curry! #1
I've been roped into make curry for a bunch of friends and I'm a little worried. After one of them raved about my cooking a while ago, I'm now group chef. The truth is I'm not that experienced in making currys ( I plan on remedying this though). The curries that I do make are not the overly spicy, creamy fare that you get from most restaurants, but a more simple and quite likely more authentic curry that's based on what "me mum" makes. The stuff that Asians, (Pakistanis) eat day to day... the equivalent to the British hot-pot or casserole. This isn't a bad thing, not for me anyway and I hope my guests agree with me! Of course I could use my 'Asian credentials' and tell them that this is Indian haute cuisine, but unfortunately for me, curry being the nations favourite food, my guests may be more educated on the subject then me!
This is a little altered every time I make it because I have never written it down.
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tbs oil
1 onion sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
nob of Ginger, skinned and minced
2tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric
½ - 1 tsp chili powder
4 cloves
6 whole black pepper corns
1 star anise
1 large black clove
2 tomatoes chopped or half a can
Chicken whole chopped into small pieces
1tbs of cumin powder
1 tbs of coriander powder
Hand full baby potatoes
Garam masala
rice or chapattis to serve
fresh coriander
serves 3-4
First I fry some whole spices in a clean pan, 1 tsp of cumin and about the same quantity of coriander seeds. When they start to give off a lovely aroma take off the heat and set aside. Heat 2 tbs of cooking oil in the pan and fry the onion until golden, add the garlic and ginger. Fry on a low heat for about 5 minutes more then add the salt, turmeric and chili powder depending on how much heat you like. This is the humble beginnings of many a curry. Add the remaining whole spices (cloves, pepper corns etc) and fry for a couple of minutes. Adding a splash of water to stop the spices sticking to the pan. Throw in two diced tomatoes or half a can of tomatoes, if using. Fry on a medium high heat. When the spices begin to come together and the oil begins to separate from the mixture, drop the meat into the pan and mix and coat it into the 'masala'. Fry this way for a few minutes until the meat is sealed and then add 1 tbs of coriander powder and another of cumin powder (sometimes I use whole, freshly crushed garam masala instead). Fry for further 5 minutes adding a little more water if the meat begins to stick or looks dry. Then add enough water to cover the chicken and give you plenty of gravy in the finished dish. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat. After this point I like to add some quartered large potatoes or whole baby potatoes to the pan, cover again and cook for a further 15 minute or until the potatoes and meat are tender, towards the end of this time add a tea spoon of gram masala. When the cooking time is over sprinkle the curry with chopped coriander.
The curry is this picture is one where I did not add potatoes and didn't make it too saucy. Use a taller pan if making more gravy.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Tree Cat

Its spring and Scoobies gone mental (Men-all), he went running from the window over the fence and up the tree. How come on T.V. cats are always shown getting stuck up trees? Scobbie just hopped back down easy! Wonder how many 'presents' I'm going to get this year! -Anyone know a good sparrow recipe?

Sunday, 6 April 2008

I went to the gym today after only having a bowl of soup for lunch. Bad idea; 'The Pussy Cat Dolls' playing on the big screen whilst I was rowing became dancing slices of pizza... Yummy. I decided that that's what I would make when I got home (yeah I think about food even whilst exercising), I could use some of my new cheese that way too!
I brought a ready mix pack for the pizza dough because I was too tired to think about yeast amounts and stuff... this is basically flour, yeast, salt and oil, in a sachet ready for mixing with water. Although I would normally make my own base from scratch I must say this wasn't bad, also it definitely beats buying a pre-made pizza base because you can decide on the thickness and size you want. Once the dough was ready I rolled it out and it needed to be left for 10 min, so I moved on to my home made pesto. For this I used: parsley (curly leaf) roughly about 40g cut off as much of the thick stalks as you can be bothered to, pine nuts 1-2 tbs, olive oil (lots, so don't use your best stuff) 2 cloves of garlic, rock salt and pepper and half a lemon (juice only). All this goes in your blender until a tasty green pesto is created. You WILL need to adjust the quantities until it looks (and tastes) good.
Once the pesto was made I prepared all the other toppings. I sliced, not too thinly two tomatoes, I also washed some asparagus ready to be chucked on. I had some very nice mixed mushrooms that I also wanted on my pizza, packs of these are sold in Sainsbury's and they contain Shitaki, Hon-Shimeji and Yellow Oyster, I gave these delicate fungi a quick wipe with a wet cloth.
Now to load up your pizza! I put a thin layer of grated Cheddar on the base of mine then the vegetables. I gave the pizza a really good drizzle of garlic extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of rock salt and ground pepper. Yeah there's no tomato puree base, but that's why I made the pesto, which needs to go on the pizza around the toppings towards the end of the cooking time. Finally I topped my pizza with some of my blue Harbourne cheese and popped it in to the oven for the recommended time on the pizza dough.
I tossed a bag of salad into a ball and some really tasty marinated beetroot along with some some boiled quail eggs that I brought from the International Market on Belmont street on Saturday.
Fridge-full cheesing.
Today one of the guys who works in Sainsbury's took a look at my trolley as I was unloading onto the checkout and said “you cant need that much stuff when your in here every day!”. What does that mean!? Am I some kind of crazy, who hangs about supermarkets? or (more likely, I hope) am I a little 'food shop' obsessed? I do a very thorough shop at the weekend, but for some reason there's always an excuses to go back for something...every day.... You must do that same thing, right?
Any way I hope it's not becoming a problem, so this week I'm only going to use what I have in the house and no food shopping trips at all! Except for to the butchers...
Before I made this decision I was wise enough to 'go for coffee' at RockSalt&Snails, where after demolishing a banoffee muffin... and half a mint slice, I couldn't resist but to go downstairs to the deli... Ahh sweet gourmet heaven. This trip was actually somewhat premeditated; some weeks ago I brought some cheese from here, that I really (really) liked, unfortunately I cant remember what its called at the moment, but that's a moot point now because on asking for some, I was told that the lady who made the cheese has left Aberdeen for Germany, but the the cheese is still available... from Harrods, useful! I think the huge amount of disappointment I was feeling was quite obvious (and in hindsight probably a little worrying) so, the manager who I was interrogating about my cheese helped my pick a suitable replacement (replacement, yes the world of cheese is fickle). And find a replacement we did! Harbourne Blue, its a blue goats cheese. It really is very good, apparently there aren't many blue goats cheeses, this one is sharp in flavour and quite soft, with LOTS of blue blooms.

“Awarded several accolades over the past few years, Harbourne Blue has become very popular amongst cheese connoisseurs. The goat's milk tends to give it a characteristically white pâte and crumbly texture, and also means that it matures more quickly than a cow's milk cheese The resulting flavour is usually more powerful and the fact that this cheese is blue veined enhances the flavour even further to give a cheese that is best tasted at the end of a cheeseboard.”

On tasting this cheese you know instantly that its going to be really useful in terms of how much cooking you can do with it, pasta sauces, creamy cheesy chicken and pizzas. I'm planning a pizza for tonight! If you like blue cheese, see if you can find this one at your local deli, though apparently its in quite short supply in early spring.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Whats the Delia-yo?....
This is an article of much much funniness! Poor Delia, where did she go so wrong? And yes, I was reading the Times again... Sorry!
MAA Meatballs bring all the...
I'm the only Mirza left in the country! Oww Maarya left today, and I'm feeling quite sad. I had an awesome time whilst she was here and I hope that she did too! I'm going to badger her on the phone to write a (brief) synopsis of her visit for the blog, although to be honest we mostly just ate and watched T.V. (I would use the 'sheepish' emoticon here if I had one)
I did very little cooking when my sister was around, we ate out or got take-away most nights, and Ma footed the bill most nights too, so to keep up the poor student façade and for any reading this I'm going to make Jamie Oliver's 'feed your family for a fiver' recipe for meatballs and spaghetti and tell you if you should!
Well you could, but don't be hesitant in adding a little more flavour, firstly with the tomato sauce a longer slower cooking time is recommendable a teaspoon of sugar will also help take away some of the sharpness of the sauce and don't limit your self to oregano a little dried basil is good too.
To the meatballs I added some spices! I couldn't help it, they were crying out for something. Some paprika (a teaspoon) and cumin about the same quantity and a some turmeric (half teaspoon). I also couldn't help but add a minced clove of garlic. This isn't the most authentic 'meatball and spaghetti' recipe, but its meatballs and spaghetti... so it doesn't have to be!
What would you do? click on the linl to see the original recipe.
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