Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rachel Allen's Chili con carne

This is another chili con carne recipe, this time by Rachel Allen. I really think I have thing for chili :).

Rachel Allen's Chili con carne

2 large onions
700g lean stewing beef, fat removed and cut into 1-2cm cubes
5 garlic cloves, crushed
800g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 green peppers, sliced
3 green or red chillies, chopped, seeds left in if you like your chillies fiery
2 tsp ground cumin
1 can (400g) red kidney beans
1 tsp brown sugar

For serving:
125ml sour cream
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
4 tbsp Cheddar cheese, grated

1. Heat the olive oil in a casserole,or saucepan and fry the meat until it changes colour - about 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and stir for a minute or so before tipping in the tinned tomatoes,chopped chillies, peppers, and a good pinch of salt.

2. Cover the pan and simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the liquid reduced to a thick sauce. If it gets too dry during cooking, pour in a little more water.

3. Add the cumin, kidney beans (and a little of the bean liquid, if you like) and the brown sugar. Simmer for a further 10 mins before serving with rice, a spoonful of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and and coriander leaves as a garnish. For added spicy kick, serve this dish with hot chilli sauce.

My version: I used orange and red peppers instead of green ones, simply because these were what I had in my hands. Secondly, I used again minced beef instead of cubed beef, it's not my fault minced beef was the only meaty thing left my local store when I got there :). According to my opinion, you don't really need to add any water while it simmers.

Valuation: great chili con carne recipe, almost as good as to beat Jamie's :). Brown sugar gives nice sweet after-taste.

Source: TV show "Rachel's Favourite Food"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

My favorite past-time activity is to cuddle up with nice cookbook, with pictures of course. I was browsing my Nigella book and as result, Potato and Mushroom Gratin.

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

3 average-size baking potatoes (about 750 g), thinly sliced
350 ml milk
3 tablespoons white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic oil
250 g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced

1. Heat the oven to 220°C and butter a shallow baking dish or gratin.

2. Bring the sliced potatoes, milk, wine, salt, and pepper to boil in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, and leave it at a simmer while you get on with the mushrooms.

3. Melt the butter and garlic oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

4. Pour the mushrooms and their garlicky, buttery juices into the pan of potatoes, stir to mix, and pour straight into the gratin dish. Bake for 45 minutes alongside the chicken or until piping hot and crisp on top.

My version: Opposite to Nigella's, I peeled my potatoes. Only time when I eat unpeeled potatoes is when they are cooked in campfire, fantastic outside snack. I had bottle of cider in my hands so I used cider instead of white wine, the one wine which I had, well, I drank it during cooking, so not that much left for "real cooking" :-).

Valuation: Great side for Mustard Pork Chops for instance.

Recipe adapted from: Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jamie's Chili con Carne

I discovered chili con carne thanks to Jamie Oliver and it's perfect dish to pack for your work lunch also. This is my first chili dish, I saw Rachael Allen has also one chili con carne recipe but this will have to wait for better times, need to finish off Jamie's first :-).

Jamie's Chili con Carne

2 medium onions
1 clove of garlic
olive oil
2 tsp chilli powder
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
455 g chuck steak, minced, or best minced beef
200 g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
2 x 400 g tins of tomatoes
1/2 stick of cinnamon
2 x 400 g tins of red kidney beans, drained

1. Blitz the onions and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, then fry in a little olive oil until soft. Add the chilli powder, fresh chilli, cumin and a little seasoning. Then add the minced chuck steak or beef and continue to cook, stirring until it has browned.

2. Blitz the sun-dried tomatoes in the food processor with enough oil from the jar to loosen into a paste. Add these to the beef with the tomatoes, cinnamon stick and a wineglass of water. Season a little more if need be.

3. Bring to the boil, cover with greaseproof paper and the lid, then either turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Add the tinned kidney beans 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time - they are already cooked and only need warming up.

4. This always tastes better if you cook it the day before (to give the flavours time to develop), so it's really handy if you've got friends coming round and don't want to be stuck in the kitchen. Just take it out of the fridge and warm it up - serve it with lots of fresh crusty bread, a nice tossed salad, and a big blob of natural yogurt or guacamole.

My version: I added about 300 ml water, this is pretty enough, I have tried with less and more water but chili tends to burn or leave too moist, so I have learn 300 ml water is just enough :-). I like my chili with grated Parmesan cheese on top, although it's pretty good with plain yogurt. I didn't bother with guacamole like Jamie suggested, laziness again kicks in :-). I have done it without sundried tomatoes, just used tomato paste instead and I can't say it tasted significantly worse, and I used minced beef (I mean, come on, stores sell it and somebody has to buy it!). I usually cook whole bunch and keep it in fridge.

Valuation: The best chili I have ever tried (well, the only one so far but who's counting anyway!), cinnamon stick gives it interesting twist.

Recipe adapted from: Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TWD: Black-and-White Banana Loaf

I discovered recently one nice community Tuesday with Dorie, where people bake recipes from book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I gave it a thought and ordered myself also a copy of this book from Amazon. It takes time to arrive though but I decided to try recipes ahead, after all, we all love Internet :)

I had some bananas at home which were almost ready to go bad, so perfect to put inside some cake. I checked my pantry and result, Black-and-White Banana Loaf!

Black-and-White Banana Loaf

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ ripe bananas, peeled
squirt of fresh lemon juice
grated zest of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick plus 2 tablespoon room temperature butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8 ½ x4 ½ x 2 ½ inch loaf pan on an insulated baking sheet.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

3. In another small bowl, mash the bananas with lemon juice, zest, then stir in the rum.

4. Melt the chocolate and 2 tbsp. butter together in a microwave or saucepan over simmering water.

5. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for 2-3 more minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients.

6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk and when it is blended add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas. The batter will look even lumpier.

7. Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into prepared pan (or follow any of the marbling techniques on page. 229). Then, using a knife, swirl the batters taking care not to overdo it.

8. Bake for 1 hour and 20 – 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes, if the cake browns too much, cover loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Continue to cool on the rack.

My version: I didn't have any light brown sugar so I replaced it with dark brown sugar and I only used half the milk which was given in recipe; otherwise I think I would have ended up with cocktail :-)! I used mixer only to beat butter and blend eggs into batter. I can't say my batter was lumpy though. I baked the loaf in 175 degree oven (Celsius!), so hotter then recipe says but it got done within an hour.

Valuation: Tastes better as cold, when eat warm, nutmeg taste is too intensive. Not sure if I'll bake this loaf again, probably not. It's not bad, inside is pleasantly juicy, great with tea as breakfast but nothing spectacular.

Recipe adapted from: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mustard Pork Chops

I got Nigella Express from http://www.amazon.co.uk/ about month ago already but this is the first time when I actually cook something from it. I prefer to browse cookbooks as bedtime reading material and fantasize what all I could cook if I have time and supplies and.... well, you know, it's also known as pure laziness :-).

Mustard Pork Chops

2 pork chops, about 450 g
2 teaspoons garlic oil
125 ml apple cider
1 tablespoon grain mustard
75 ml double cream

1. Cut the fat or rind off the chops, and then bash them briefly but brutally with a rolling pin between 2 pieces of cling film/plastic wrap to make them thinner.

2. Heat the oil in a pan, and then cook the chops over a moderately-high heat for about 5 minutes a side. Remove them to a warmed plate.

3. Pour the cider into the pan, still over the heat, to deglaze the pan. Let it bubble away for a minute or so then add the mustard and stir in the cream.

4. Let the sauce continue cooking for a few minutes before pouring over each plated pork chop. If you're having gnocchi with, make sure you turn them in the pan to absorb any spare juices before adding them to your plates.

My version: I used Dijon mustard and meat hammer to hammer pork chops just because I have meat hammer and I am rather fond of my rolling pin:-). I also added ground pepper and salt to pork chops, my grandmother did it and my mother does, so it's hard to go without adding pepper and salt to pork, habits die hard :-) but I think it would have been lacked in taste without seasoning. I didn't have garlic oil, so I used regular oil but I chopped in half clove of garlic.

Valuation: definitively something which I'll cook again some time soon and it is super super easy and fast. Very tasty and great sauce to soak your bread in also :-). I served with vegetables and nice bunch of spring onion, love that one, if I could I'd probably put it into cake also :-).

Recipe adapted from: Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson