Only 2 days to go and it’s my favourite time of year DIWALI!!!!
I have to admit that I haven’t made as much as I had planned this year – life has got in the way. However, I had some gorgeous looking persimmon in the house and wanted to make something new with them. I used the same method as Gajjar Halwa (carrot halwa) but the final result was more like the popular Gujarati sweet called suji no shiro (semolina based sweet). The night I made it, we ate it without any additions and it was very tasty. You cannot really taste the persimmon as the fruit has a subtle flavour but the sweetness was definitely there. We all enjoyed it but felt that in future it would benefit from sultanas being stirred through and topped off with almond slivers.
1 tablespoon ghee
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup milk
2 green cardamom
1 pinch of saffron steeped in a little water
- My persimmon were still firm but ripe. I didn’t want the flesh to be too wet. To prep, I washed, cut of the flower end and peeled the fruit. I removed the inner core and any black bits. Then I blitzed it in my little blender.
- I lightly toasted the cardamom pods before grinding the inner seeds in a pestle and mortar
- I soaked the saffron in about 1 tablespoon of water.
- Grease a dish
- I heated the ghee in a large heavy bottom pan
- Added the pulped persimmon flesh, mixed well in the ghee and cooked for about 15 minutes, stirring all the time. The plan was to dry out the fruit
- Added the sugar and milk. I didn’t want the dessert to be too sweet. So if you have a go at making this, then adjust according to taste.
- Added the saffron water and ground cardamom
- Kept stirring until the milk evaporated and the mixture was coming away from the sides of the pan
- I then put the mixture it into the greased dish and pressed down before putting it in the fridge to chill. In future, I will stir in 1/2 tablespoon sultanas and leave it in a bowl. Before serving, I will add about 1 tablespoon of almond slivers.
It might appear to the casual observer that I’ve abandoned this blog. Far from the truth but like a lot of you out there, I was busy with Christmas, then just plain lazy about updating the page. It takes time to write the posts and at the moment, I prefer just cooking, gobbling and crafting.
I have had some fun though. I do get stuck in a rut cooking the same-o, same-0 stuff. So I’m going to try to challenge myself this year to try new foodstuffs, budget and availability permitting. So far I have had a successful experiment with a chayote which I cooked using my dudhi shak recipe. If you are going to try it, then I recommend wearing gloves when you chop it as some people have written up about their adverse reactions to the juice. Funnily, once cooked, it’s fine and causes no reactions. I did like the smell of it when chopping which is reminiscent of raw mango.
Next came the hachiya persimmon which was on sale in Morrissons 3 for a £1. How could I refuse. I love the bright orange colour and really enjoyed the fruit which has a taste a bit like a dry canteloup melon. Heartily recommend this to you all and if any of you have a good bake recipe using the fruit, please share.
I’ve found a new love in the shape of Cauliflower cheese. Now I know that’s not new or novel to many out there but it is to me. Cauliflower used to be for shaaks only but I do like the cheesey dish now too. The trick is to boil the cauliflower before you cover it in sauce and bake in the oven. Only problem with this one is that it’s very fattening. Fear not though and turn instead to the incredibly simple but delicious Oven Roasted Cauliflower from Emeril Lagasse. Even though I used cheddar and didn’t have chives, the result was so very delicious. I will be doing this one again very soon.
The latest experiment was in the form of oven roasted beetroot and some red brusselberry sprouts – the latter are actually purple and green and come on a stalk from Asda. I tried cooking sprouts on Christmas day – they were hard little balls of yuk. Luckily, the brusselberry has revived my love of the sprout. I’ve never ever done beetroot so it took ages until I cut it up into wedges. Very tasty with some roasted walnuts. The only downside of the dish was the goats cheese which was vile. Next time I’ll use feta. The dish looks very empty as I cooked the stuff on a pizza night so the rest of the household got fatter while I tucked into natural goodness.
Blimey it’s been ages since my last post. I have been busying with the crochet hook and have now used up quite a bit of my stash on making charity hats which I will pass onto my mother in law. Her church puts boxes together at Christmas time to send to various people in need worldwide. I do feel a little guilty that some of the yarn is very cheap acrylic but I think something is better than nothing. The number of colours and balls I have left are dwindling but where possible, I’ve tried to add some nice details like stripes on beanies or crocheted flowers onto hats. Once I’ve given them a wash, I’ll post up a picture.
Another charity group I’ve become interested in is called SIBOL which stands for Sunshine International Blankets of Love. The charity makes lap blankets for elderly people. The group makes fun blankets too – Challenge blankets where crafters from around the world send in knitted or crochet squares based on a particular theme. The blankets for these either go to the elderly who like to talk about the different squares or special ones are auctioned off to raise money for Alzheimers.
Another part of the group also do swaps and I’ve decided to join in with this. My goodness,the first swap was so, so, SO hard. The lady I was to send squares to is very talented and experienced. I spent ages looking for something suitable and must have made at least 8 squares before deciding on two that were about right. The other part of the swap is a small gift. No rules on this one as far as I could see. I hate not having rules as the possibilities are endless! The group make a lot of butterflies so I eventually decided to make some only to see the swap lady had sent in loads to the group in the very pattern I was using. ARGH. Ah well, in the end I made a jute basket. Hubby is from Dundee which had a thriving jute industry so that’s my connection.
Here are some picture….what do you think?
Of course, not everything I make is for charity. Here is a project using some polypropylene I found at the local Tiger store. A simple project done in the round through the front loop for the most part. The strap was HDC and the flap was SC. It’s perfect for my kid who played with it for about 3 days. Sigh…like so many of the projects I make her. I am not keen on the pink but have loads of the purple left so will be making one for myself because as everyone knows, purple is just fabulous. If you decide to have a go have some glue or nail varnish nearby to seal any cut ends else they will fray. Do you like the button? It’s so old fashioned from a stash my mother in law gave me…kiddo picked it and would not be persuaded to change her mind.
As mentioned in my last post, we have had a bit of a revolution in our local Morrisons which now sports a funky new veg section. Including one with a lot of different aubergines – there was Dutch, smaller rounder Indian, purple and white aubergines and a Sicilian aubergine. The latter is just gorgeous looking – check out the vibrant purple and the lovely round shape. I’ve never seen one before and though it cost me £1.69 which is expensive for an aubergine, I couldn’t resist.
According to the Think Sicilysite, the Romans were suspicious when first shown the purple black fruit by Moroccans and dubbed it the “apple of insanity”. Ilove that! That site has some great recipes but as I didn’t have the ingredients, I did my own thing. And my goodness, it was DELICIOUS so have a go. Ingredients:
- 1 Sicilian aubergine
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4/5 spring onions,
- 3 fat cloves of garlic
- 6-7 sunstream tomatoes (or any full flavoured vine ripened tomato). Was about 120g
- 1/2 chili flakes
- A small amount of salt to season
- 100g feta cheese
- 5/6 fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade (180 for fan)
- Wash the aubergine, cut off the stem then slice into 1cm discs
- Arrange the discs into an oven proof dish and coat with generous amounts of olive oil (I used at least 3 tablespoons)
- Roast in oven for about 15 minutes
- Meanwhile, top and tail the spring onions, peel outer layer if manky and slice up green and white parts finely
- Remove outer layer of garlic and slice finely
- Wash and chop tomatoes into quarters
- In a heavy based pan, add 2 tbs olive oil and fry the onions and garlic
- When they start to caramelise, add the tomatoes, chili flakes and season slightly. As feta is quite salty, you can leave out salt if you wish
- Remove the aubergine from the oven and pour the onion/tomato mix over the top. Then crumble up the feta and place back into the oven.
- Roast for a further 15 minutes, then tear up the basil and chuck it on on top. Place back in the oven for about 15 /20 minutes until aubergine has cooked through (check every now and again to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom or burning on top).
- Serve with warm bread, with pasta, on toasted slices of bread as bruschetta or just on it’s own. Delicious!
I am sooooo glad that I decided to give plaintain another shot. In the past, I’ve unsuccessfully managed to fry it in a pan West Indian style. However, when popping into the local Morrissons, I couldn’t resist picking a large plaintain up. I’m pretty chuffed that this branch is selling “ethnic” foodstuffs so am trying to keep encouraging them by buying stuff.
A quick google took me to the Oven Baked Sweet Plantains recipe. I’m not a huge fan of cooking sprays as they seem to leave a residue on the pan that ruins it. However, reading through the comments, I liked the idea of olive oil and also coating the baked goods with sugar and cinnamon. The results were a tasty little treat good for either after dinner or an quick sweet snack.
- One plantain, ends chopped off, peeled then flesh sliced diagonally
- Enough olive oil to cover the plantain in an oven proof dish
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 dessert spoon icing sugar
- So easy. Preheat oven to 200 degrees (less if using a fan oven)
- Place plaintain in an oven proof dish and toss about with olive oil until well covered
- Cook for about 15/20 minutes. Half way through turn the pieces
- Once cooked, remove from oven an allow to cool (unlike me who left them in while we ate dinner and they burnt slightly)
- Once cool enough to touch, toss in cinnamon and icing sugar
This is a mixed post – part ready mix and part home made. Today we went all Mid-Eastern and had pitta pockets full of falafels, coleslaw, tomatoes, pickled cabbage, humous, tahini and home made hot sauce. I’m sorry for the rather blurred quality of the pictures …I really need to take more time with the photography but was busy eating.
I’ve had this box in the cupboard for a few months. It was the easiest thing in the world to make – so yep, you guessed it, I got the little one to do some of the work. A bit of mathematics as she mixed the right quantity of water into the mix. A scientific lesson in the different states of objects as the dry mix went from almost solid (too little water) to being a runny mess (too much water). Next time, I’ll get her to put in slightly less water. A torturous lesson in patience as we waited for 2-3 minutes as per box instructions followed by a lesson in H&S when I burnt myself during the frying stage as she distracted me by dropping tic-tacs on the floor. At this stage, tot was banned from the kitchen until all frying was done. The falafels were lovely and crispy on the outside but I think that the outer cooked too quickly as the inner was not really cooked through – so next time I’ll turn down the oil a bit. In reality I would have preferred to bake them in the oven but not sure the mix would work out right.
Have you ever had Belazu rose harissa – it is a simply delicious mix of 40 spices which includes rose petals and is undoubtedly manna from the God of chillies. Unfortunately, the supermarket didn’t have any so I decided to make my own. Googling left me all goggly (it’s a real word!) as there is a multitude of recipes for harissa. The basic ingredients seem to be dried red chillies, garlic, caraway and cumin seeds, cumin and coriander powders, olive oil and lemon juice. I used far less of the former and substituted rose essence for the latter. Though my result wasn’t bad, I shan’t be putting Belazu out of business quite yet methinks…hubby disagreed as he gobbled up loads of the sauce with the falafels.
- 2 red chillies (sorry no idea what type. Came as part of a mixed bag of chillies) – de-seeded, vein cut out and chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped roughly
- 1/2 red pepper grilled until skin charred. Removed skin and chopped flesh
- 1 tsp cumin seeds lightly pan roasted
- 1 tsp cumin / coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4-5 drops rose essence
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbs tomato puree
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs chopped fresh coriander
- Hearty squeeze lemon juice
Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizzed away adding ingredients in bits until I got to a happy place. Store in a sterilised bottle with a layer of olive oil on top. When you use some, make sure the remainder is covered with oil to preserve it for longer.
Let’s face it, the brussel sprout is a bit evil. They can easily turn to mush and taste horrific. They most definitely have never left me salivating in anticipation. But they are currently in season, are Scottish grown and hey, like all brassica, are good for you . Last night around 3am when I couldn’t sleep I had an epiphany and decided to overcome my aversion to B.S. with a smattering of spice. A quick google (who knew this was a verb!) led to the delicious sounding Spicy brussel sprouts with leeks and curry leaves. I made a few changes. Perhaps I should have stuck to the original recipe as frankly, the results were not overwhelming. I thought it was alright for a first attempt but hubby felt something extra was needed so I quickly roasted a papad for him. Also, we both agreed that it didn’t go well with rice. Next time I’ll serve it with rotlis or paratha and some pickles. I may also stick in some ghee and roasted chestnuts. I’m still not convinced about BS and peanuts though.
- 2 tbs groundnut oil (future improvement will be 1 tbs oil and 1tbs ghee)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds and a few fenugreek seeds
- Pinch of asafoetida (I forgot about this completely. I don’t think it’s essential)
- 1 leek trimmed, washed and sliced into 1/2 cm discs (around 100g)
- 1/2 tbs grated ginger
- 1 fresh green chili finely chopped
- 200 g brussel sprouts. This was the finished weight after washing, removing tough outer leaves, trimming off stalk end and quartering
- 10-15 fresh curry leaves. These can overwhelm a dish somewhat so you could add much less IMHO
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp coriander/cumin powder (dhana jeeru)
- 1 tsp sugar
- Lemon juice to taste
- Heat oil over a hot / medium heat in a heavy frying pan or pot
- Add mustard / fenugreek seeds and wait for them to sizzle
- Add the leeks and cook until they start to soften frequently stirring
- Add the ginger and chili and cook for about half a minute
- Add the brussel sprouts, curry leaves and spices
- Turn down the heat to medium and stir fry the mix until the sprouts begin to soften. The original recipe includes water but I didn’t want to risk mushiness so relied on the water content of the sprouts.
- Once you are happy with the consistency serve with a form of bread (naan, rotli or paratha but defo not rice), papads and pickles.
This is one of those cupboard-raiding recipes that ends up being bloody delicious! It’s a variation of the Paneer Jalfrezi for people who don’t have enough peppers. I wasn’t sure that the chickpeas would work with the paneer as they are both rather subtle in flavour but the pepper really lifts the dish and the roasted cashews add a nice crunchy surprise.
- 6 green cardamoms
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 6 cloves
- 2 tbs ground nut oil
- 1 large bayleaf
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 large onion diced finely
- 2 tbs ginger – garlic paste (made with 2 inches grated ginger and 4 cloves garlic minced then mixed together to form a paste)
- 1 large green chili chopped finely
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin coriander powder
- 400g organic chickpeas – drain water and rinse
- 2 organic sweet pointed peppers – cut off stalk, remove seeds and slice into thin julienne strips
- 1 block paneer cut into 2 cm cubes
- 3 tomatoes diced finely
- 1 tbs tomato puree
- 6-8 curry leaves
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- Handful of cashew nuts – dry roasted in a pan before hand to make them slightly crunchy
- Juice of half lemon
- Put a large sauce pan or frying pan on medium heat and dry roast the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom until they start to smoke slightly. Remove and set aside for later
- Add oil to the pan, once it is heated add the bay leaf and cumin seeds
- When seeds start to sizzle add onions and cook until they start to brown, stir frequently to prevent sticking
- Spoon in the ginger/garlic paste, chili, cloves, cinnamon and cardamoms – stir for a minute or so until the ginger/garlic starts to go a light brown
- Now add the chili powder, cumin/coriander, turmeric and sugar. Keep stirring and cook for a minute or so until the mix is all well combined
- Add the chickpeas and peppers stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Stir frequently.
- Add the paneer, tomatoes, tomato puree and curry leaves. Mix thoroughly. Turn heat down to low – medium and cook for 5-8 minutes. Check every few minutes and stir.
- It is ready for salt and lemon when the tomatoes are mushy. Add salt and lemon to taste.
- Throw in the cashew nuts, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Serve with basmati rice and nice glass of wine. Yum, yum, yum!!
Don’t these look lovely. So shiny and big. Each chili is about 4 inches long. Dad brought a large bag of them from London last week as I haven’t been able to find any decided bullet chilies up here. Unfortunately, they have been sat in the fridge waiting for transformation. Last night, one went into our spicy pasta. Today, I’m going to attempt to work with the rest. I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep them – a couple have gone into the freezer. And I decided to pickle these 4 using a very simple Pickled Green Chilies recipe.
I used Mizkans rice vinegar from the local Asda which is just over 1 cup full. Plus, I used brown sugar. It was all very easy to do – apart from the bottle sterilising…the first bottle was too small. In future, I’ll put the mixture into a glass pyrex jug as it was a bummer to pour out the mixture into the bottle.
So far the chilies haven’t lost their green colour but lets see what they look like tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to trying these out on a margarita pizza!
Well these were a huge disappointment – the vinegar was so strong that it overwhelmed the flavour of the chilies. I was expecting something along the lines of pickled silverskin onions. So the hunt is on for a better pickling medium.
I do love chocolate mousse but all that cream gives my heart a huge roundhouse kick. So I was intrigued when I came across an Ellie Kreiger show where she was making Chocolate Mousse….with silken tofu! I didn’t have any dutch processed cocoa powder so opted for a much simpler Veg Mousse pudding using a 100g block of Green and Black’s Maya Gold chocolate (a delicious orange infused dark chocolate).
This is the first time I’ve used silken tofu and the first time I’ve had a tofu pudding – the end result was grainy. The taste was nice and light though you wouldn’t mistake it for a real mousse. Hubby decided it tasted better when eaten with a huge dollop of vanilla ice-cream. Tomorrow we will have the remaining 2 ramekins with some raspberries. As far as puddings go, this was a success and I’m also now tempted to try the Kreiger recipe…assuming I can get the right kind of cocoa powder.
P.S. Do not, like me, be tempted to taste the tofu on it’s own. It’s gross and very offputting.
Some images of my progress:
This is the Mori Nu firm silken tofu which I was surprisinginly able to buy in the local Asda.
I squished the tofu between sheets of kitchen towel for 10 minutes to squeeze water out.
I used an electric whisk to whizz the tofu but in future will do it for longer and then pass it through a sieve to make the end result less grainy.
Once the melted chocolate is blended in, I spooned the mixture into 4 ramekins, covered in cling film and placed them in the fridge to firm up.
Update 29th Aug
Today we had the last 2 ramikins with raspberries and ice-cream. Very yummy. So in future, I think I’ll use the mousse as the filling for a cheesecake.