Recipe: Thai Yellow Curry

I love a good curry, but summer has me craving something lighter than a Indian – especially as I tend to be limited with a creamy Korma. Thai Curries are a good antidote to this, fragrant and spicy, a little creamy, a lot lighter and often packed with veg.

This one has slightly less veg than I’d like as it was a bit of a dreary, drizzly evening, but it hits the right balance between comforting and light. It’s fragrant aromatics are reminiscent of Thai foods, yet the spicing definitely has its Indian influences. Almost as good as a Massaman!

 photo Curry Pastes 6_zpsan3dnnzw.jpgThe great thing about Thai curries is that they are relatively easy to make completely from scratch. There’s no need for an excessive spice cupboard, and my recipe certainly doesn’t require a trip to eight different supermarkets. Timewise it’s pretty quick too and, even better, it freezes fabulously.

 photo Curry Pastes 2_zpsahyq7nik.jpgVery Lazy sent me over a few ingredients to try out, which I’ve used here, but you could just as easily substitute fresh versions.

Ingredients (Paste)

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic
  • 1 chilli (or more if you like it hot – I tend to just grate in more into my finish curry to adjust at the end)
  • 1 tablespoon Very Lazy Ginger in oil
  • 1 tablespoon Very Lazy Lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon Very Lazy Coriander
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder – or teaspoons each of any or all of the following; ground coriander, cumin, tumeric

Ingredients (Curry, Two Servings)

  • 1 full quantity of paste
  • 250g chicken (or other meat)
  • 100g potatoes, cubed chunkily
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Cashew nuts
  • Coriander, to garnish, if you like

To make the paste, first roast the onion and garlic. Don’t peel them, simply slice the top and bottom off the onion, throw onto some foil, drizzle with oil and create a ‘parcel’ – then bake at 180C for around 25 minutes. Let cool. photo Curry Pastes 4_zpsvcbnjfbz.jpg

Once the onion and garlic is cool enough to handle, peel and throw into a small blender. Add the rest of the paste ingredients and whizz until it looks like a curry paste – adding more or less of ingredients as you fancy. I’m not the biggest fan of lemongrass and I love ginger, so my go-to doubles the ginger here.

Either use immediately, store in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or freeze (I use ice cube trays – easier as they cubes can be cooked from frozen).

To make the curry, heat a little oil in a pan then fry the paste until fragrant. Add the meat, fry until sealed, then lower the heat and add the potatoes and coconut milk. Simmer gently for around 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and potatoes tender.

 photo d4c17f1f-2685-42ae-8737-c973c1b8d3d7_zps2nvdlxud.jpgStir through the cashew nuts and a little fresh coriander, and serve. It’s good with rice for a carb fest, though goes nicely with some lightly cooked green vegetables too. A lovely Yellow Curry, fragrant like a Thai yet as indulgent as an Indian. Lovely!

What’s your favourite curry? Do you make your own?

Cooking: Homemade Nandos-style Peri Chicken

I can’t quite make up my mind about Nandos. On one hand, it’s pretty tasty (spicy chicken, what’s not to love), relatively quick and in pretty much every major town. It’s not horrendously bad for you. On the other hand, it feels a bit overpriced, the cooking can let down the flavours, and the restaurants are often smoky and noisy.

 photo 2015-02-08 19.34.25_zpsejrhrhjk.jpgSolution: make your own.

This meal is tastier than Nandos in my opinion, and can be tweaked to your tastes. Prefer a herbier chicken – add herbs! Like spice – add more chilli. Want to be healthier – use a leaner cut of chicken and (sacriliedge) remove the skin. A homemade Nandos just how you like it.

 photo 2015-02-08 19.34.18_zpsbsgjivrm.jpgPlus, it’s super easy. It’s my go-to Friday evening meal,¬†marinating in the fridge all day, then thrown in the oven after a few drinks. Very Lazy make this even easier, as there’s no chopping involved in the marinade. Less washing up, less fuss, maximum flavour.

Ingredients

  • Chicken pieces. Skin on for the best flavour, wings are good but messy.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Very Lazy Peri Chillies* – be warned these are hot, hot, hot!
  • 1 teaspoon Very Lazy Garlic* – I like it garlicky. The Smoked version makes this taste even more Nandos-like!
  • 1 lemon (halved)
  • A sweet potato
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Splash of oil
  • 1/3 red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped into strips
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

 photo 2015-02-08 14.17.09_zpsimx8wj5z.jpgMarinate both the sweet potato fries and the chicken during the day. Throw the chicken in a sealable plastic bag, add the garlic and chilli, and msuh around until the chicken is covered. Chop the sweet potato into fries, add to another bag with the oil and seasoning, and shake. Throw both bags in the fridge. Oh, and the bowl in the photos is purely because it made the pictures look nicer than a plastic bag ūüėČ

 photo 2015-02-08 19.10.00_zpssi8q9rwn.jpgWhen you get in, whack the oven to 200C. Slice half the lemon and place in a baking dish. Fries spread flat on a tray, chicken on the lemon (skin side up). Cook the chicken for 50 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked. The fries want about 35-40 minutes, and turning halfway.

The slaw is super-easy, and I’ve made it before. Squeeze the remaining lemon half, mix in the mayo. Add the carrot and the cabbage, and stir together.

Serve, devour, and feel smug that your homemade Nandos is a fraction of the price of the real stuff. Bargain!
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Disclaimer: I was gifted some Very Lazy products to trial in recipes. All opinions are my own Рand I definitely like not having to chop my own garlic! 

Are you a Nando’s fan, or a bit unsure like me? I’m¬†desperate¬†to try their¬†new slaw with beetroot though!

Recipe: Paprika Chicken

One of my new favourite meals, this is slightly spicy, healthy, warming. Whilst it’s quick to make, it’s also slightly more special than just throwing something in the oven. And it freezes well made up too, so in the end it can become a throw-in-the-oven-and-shower meal.

 photo 1caec8db-29b0-4680-88ee-d0cb5e2d2ee5_zps73842900.jpgRoasted red peppers are something I’ve become a little addicted to in recent months. I’m slightly ashamed to admit I buy jars as I’m sure it would be cheaper to buy my own, but the jarred stuff just tastes so, so good. Perfect blitzed up into a sauce for pasta, or chopped into a salad. And wonderful in this.

I adapted this recipe from Sunrise Senior Living, and I’ve got to say if they eat like this I’d be happy to go stay! You can download the original recipe here. I made mine more saucy, a little cheaper and easier to make. I don’t bother using spoons when making gravy, so I wasn’t about to measure 17g of granules. I cut down the oil, and didn’t bother searing the chicken. So whilst this doesn’t bear too much in relation to the original recipe, the idea and flavours are pretty similar. Trust your instinct in whether you want it to be more saucy or not!

 photo cf4b1c47-36da-40ee-b820-d03a9043fe6d_zps3a9f8528.jpgIngredients (to serve 1)

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, sliced
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon of chicken gravy granules
  • A splash of red wine, or sherry, or anything similar if it’s open. The first time I made it I didn’t use any alcohol because I simply didn’t have any
  • Sprinkle of dried herbs, I used thyme

Heat the olive oil, and fry the onions until soft and slightly golden. Add the pepper and herbs, and fry until fragrant. Add the alcohol, if using, and bubble until dry.

 photo 982cbf64-00f9-4a4b-be75-2c8c63715bf9_zpsd40bf28c.jpgMake up the sauce by adding boiling water to the stock and gravy. Add to the pan and reduce to the required consistency.

 photo 74a8e807-e517-4eb9-84b6-6e20fc76ed5c_zps749b6346.jpgPlace the chicken in a baking dish, pour over the sauce, and bake at 200C for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked.

 photo 2014-12-07204312_zpsd5363bb1.jpgI served mine pretty simply, loads of sauce, broccoli and a small garlic bread. It goes well with new potatoes, and I’m also guessing rice would be good. Such a versatile dish, and one that I’ll definitely use to stock up the freezer!

Have you tried anything new recently? How do you liven up chicken breasts?

Recipe: Chicken & Chorizo Pie

Irrational it may be, I do love Pi…

 photo 04c6c159-9943-4bd2-8ecc-cdd621bcd520_zps32c5ee0b.jpgSorry, you can take a girl away from her maths lectures, but she’ll always be a maths geek at heart. Seriously though, I do love pies. They are filling, comforting, relatively healthy (I serve them with loads of veg and nothing else – hence they are superhealthy), freeze well and aren’t as time consuming as you’d first think. I do admit to grabbing ready-made pastry most of the time (I’m sorry, I don’t have time to make puff pastry!), but even whipping up a quick shortcrust isn’t too horrendous.

This recipe was originally inspired by a recipe in GoodFood. I’ve simplified it, making it quicker, and a lot cheaper. It would also be a great use of leftover roast chicken, and you could up the veg content by throwing in peppers if you felt like it. Either way, it’s a summery switch up of the classic pie.

Ingredients (serves 4, including two greedy men)

  • 1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • around 15cm chorizo sausage, casing removed, chopped into slices then halved
  • ¬†3-4 chicken breasts (5oog-ish)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of cream

 photo f33df65f-841d-42eb-9758-a64491b9be47_zps4920a5a0.jpgFry the onion in a little oil until softened, then add the chorizo. Fry until it smells yummy and has released plenty of its oils.

 photo fedef7e7-3df2-4b8c-be60-7328476edbff_zps2f713bfa.jpgTip in the chicken, and seal quickly until golden brown. Stir in the flour, cook (stirring all the time) for around two minutes, then gradually add the stock. Stir to avoid the sauce going lumpy.

 photo fd1126a3-2059-493e-b07d-0ed47e1407ce_zpsdd297e34.jpgSimmer and reduce for about 15 minutes, until thickened. Stir through the cream.

 photo 76bcd6b4-295c-4377-91bb-8eb4beea7b5d_zps121e4743.jpgTip into a pie dish, and top with your pastry. Bake at 200C for about 30 minutes. Serve with plenty of green vegetables.

 photo 45e045f7-f991-4055-a9b5-b4be2f468a51_zpsf529b307.jpgSunshine flavours under a crisp pastry crust, just enough cream to be comforting, but light enough not to need a nap afterwards. Perfect in my book!  And a great excuse to use up Stanley Pie Bird* from Cath Kidston too!

What’s your favourite pie filling?

Restaurant Review: Urban Angel Cafe, Edinburgh

Before we went away to Edinburgh, I spent hours researching places to eat. Myself and my boyfriend are both students, both on relatively tight budgets, so I wanted to plan away, find deals etc, and make sure we weren’t excessively spending. One of the deals I came across was Urban Angel’s 10th Birthday Celebration, so we decided to go with their dinner deal of two courses for ¬£10.

 photo 2014-06-19185751_zpsc79e7daf.jpgWhilst thoroughly impressed with the decor of the place (all nice and rustic, an instagrammers delight, though the second photo was taken from their site!) we were a little disappointed when none of the staff knew about the offer. We promptly got it up on our phones (to convince ourselves too!) and we were offered one small plate and one big plate each for the ¬£10 as promised. Whilst it could have been my imagination, I felt service¬†decreased then slightly, it was a little less friendly although still nothing to complain about! In our defence, their website actually stated the offer was running from the 10th June to the end of July, and we visited on the 19th – surely we weren’t the first?! Anyway, onto the food…

 photo 2014-06-19191831_zpsc953ce0b.jpg photo 2014-06-19191839_zps6d89aba3.jpg photo 2014-06-19191928_zps70b0cf53.jpgI suffered serious food envy when the starters came out. I’d gone for the Handcut Chips with Thyme Salt & Aioli. Whilst it was lovely, I kind-of expected a little more than just a huge plate of chips. Bit of an ordering mistake if I’m honest, the mushrooms would have been a far better bet! I found the thyme salt to be barely noticeable, though the aioli packed a huge garlicky punch – I would have loved that spread on warm fresh bread! Onto my boyfriends far more satisfactory starter – Falafel Balls in a Curry & Coconut Emulsion. I’d avoided these as I couldn’t be bothered with the tomato issue, but after inspected his plate I promptly demanded a taste – they were delicious! I’d probably want my falafels a little crisper, but the combination of flavours was great. One happy boyfriend, one jealous girlfriend!

 photo 2014-06-19193720_zpsee437ed6.jpg photo 2014-06-19193728_zpsb18f7b83.jpgOnto bigger plates, and I think we were both satisfied – I like to think my dish was the better but in reality I couldn’t try the other! Will went for the Veggie Chilli and really enjoyed it, despite him having an issue with veggie chilli (to be fair, meat ones are better!). I scored with my choice of a Herby Ham Hock Cake with Soft Poached Egg & Hollandaise – yum yum! Again I’d have preferred the cake to be slightly crisper as it was a little soggy, but the flavours were beautiful. The egg was absolutely perfectly poached, there were decent sized chunks of tender ham hock – one of the most different and exciting main courses I’ve tried! I would say that all out dishes required seasoning at the table to taste their best, but other than that it was a pretty good meal for ¬£10 each. We’d happily go back to Urban Angel again, their brunch sounds delicious!
 photo 2014-06-19193805_zpsa7cb45fe.jpg

Have you have a nice meal out lately?

Recipe: Toad in the Hole (+ Yorkshire/ Pancake/ Fritter Batter)

This is a great recipe, one of my favourite meals, and a complete British classic. It is wonderfully simple to make, the basic recipe is ridiculously versatile, and yet so many people shy away from it as (1) they say it is “difficult to make” and (2) apparently it uses “expensive ingredients.” I’m hoping this post will blow both of these concerns out of way!

Firstly, it is so, so, so easy to make, and my recipe requires no scales, no measuring, just a jug, spoon, fork, and a tin. And an oven of course. If your kitchen doesn’t have these, its not really a kitchen.

Secondly, a lot of the ingredients are really basics that you would already have. 1.5kg of flour (ASDA smart price at 45p) lasts me more than a term, salt and pepper at also cheap (and realistically every meal needs them, so I haven’t included them in my costings per portion), milk lasts my house of four a week (6 pints at ¬£1.48). Eggs are ¬£1 for six, and that’s buying free range, as I utterly refuse to buy intensively farmed eggs. I use lard for my toad, but any flavourless oil such as sunflower is fine. Then sausages need not be expensive. Buy the best you can afford, obviously, as the best you buy the better your meal will taste. But you can get 8 decent sausages for under ¬£2. You can get away with using two per person in this recipe but I was greedy and used three for me (but I bought my sausages from Waitrose heavily reduced – 8 for 90p!). I’m going to attempt to include some rough costings within this recipe, but I apologise if these are wrong. I’ve based everything on ASDA prices, using smart price flour, but their standard range everywhere else. My costing will also include some vegetables and gravy (and I use Bisto, so this could be a lot cheaper for you – although Bisto is available in the ¬£1 shops!) I will also include the cost of EVERYTHING if you are making from scratch with an empty kitchen. I hope none of you are doing this though! My estimations are very generous, so the recipe will probably be cheaper!

2012-09-26 18.03.21

I hope I have convinced you to give this recipe a try. It takes little to no time, a tiny bit of pre-planning (although if you are really pushed it isn’t necessary!) and results in a filling and tasty meal that really does remind me of home. Definite comfort food for this dreary, rainy, grey weather. By the way, the photo above is an old one, but the recipe is still the same!

The batter recipe can also be used for individual Yorkshire’s (cook in a muffin tin, for around 5 minutes left), fritters (add your ingredient, I like sweetcorn, and fry in a pan until crispy), or pancakes (leave out the salt and pepper, and fry in flavourless oil for around 1 minute on each side). So it is definitely a good recipe to learn!

Ingredients (I would eat this amount on my own, but with mashed potatoes would serve two!)

2013-10-16 14.30.23

  • 2 eggs (¬£1 for six, 33p in recipe)
  • 2 spoons of flour (45p for 1.5kg, approx 5p for amount used)
  • Milk (¬£1.48 for six pints, approx 15-25p for amount used)
  • Salt (29p for 750g, negligible in recipe)
  • Black pepper (29p for 25g, roughly 1p in recipe)
  • 2 sausages (based on ¬£2 for 8, 50p in recipe) – ignore me being greedy and having three!)
  • A chunk of lard, or some oil, around 25g/ml (39p for 250g, approx 5p)
  • Gravy – I use Bisto’s Onion (¬£1.75 for 170g, approx 30p in recipe)
  • Vegatables – I would have around 1/5 of a cabbage, 1/4 of a broccoli head, and a handful of frozen peas (roughly 50p maximum)

Total cost of recipe – ¬£1.99 including vegetables and gravy, per portion. Starting from scratch would be around ¬£10, but this would leave plenty of ingredients left for other dishes. Scaling up this recipe wouldn’t double the cost, particularly if you just made mashed potatoes instead of extra batter.

Method

Take your two eggs and crack into a jug. Ignore my bloody, plastered finger – I decided to slip with a knife earlier in the day and have badly sliced my finger. Typically I am left handed and it is very painful to write, so am instead drafting lots of blog posts (lucky readers!).

2013-10-16 14.30.52

Add two rounded tablespoons of plain flour to your eggs, beating between each spoon, and trying to beat out all of the lumps (though lumps don’t hurt!).

Add in around 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper. The batter will go a funny colour if you use ground pepper, but I find it gives a better flavour.

2013-10-16 14.33.10

Add enough milk (no more than 1/2 a pint – I used two ‘splashes) until you have a thick but pourable consistency that coats the back of a spoon, similar to this next photo.

2013-10-16 14.34.12

If you have time, cover the batter with cling film and leave in a cool place. I like to make this on days (i.e. Wednesdays) when I finish at lunchtime. I will make it as soon as I get in, winding down from lectures, then get on with some work until dinner time. Come then my batter is nicely rested and I have very little prep to do. Here’s my batter resting by the window, with our pretty little garden – we got lucky for a student house!

2013-10-16 14.37.09

When you are ready, heat your oven to about 200 degrees.

Throw your lard in the pan, and let it melt in the oven.

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Once melted add your sausages, and throw back in the oven. If you are using oil, add the sausages straight away.

Cook your sausages until browned all over. This takes about 10 or so minutes, and you may want to poke them with a spoon to ensure they brown evenly.

When your sausages are browned, removed the tin from the oven then quickly pour in your batter.

Put back in the oven, and set your timer for 15 minutes – do not open the oven in this time, or you will end up with a soggy bottom (to your Yorkshire!).

2013-10-16 19.44.28

Try and time your veg and gravy to be ready at roughly the same time (cabbage wants 4-6 minutes boiling, broccoli 2-5, peas 5-6). You can prep your veg whilst it is cooking (here is what I had tonight!)

2013-10-16 19.20.57

Occasionally your Toad may stick to the tin slightly – if it does then add some washing up liquid and pour in boiling water before it cools, and it should just scrub off easily. Mine stuck tonight – it is a rare but annoyance!

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Serve up your toad, add your veg (drain it well) and cover in gravy. Then devour and enjoy!

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Does anyone have any tips for making the perfect Yorkshire Puddings or Toad in the Hole?