Sunday, 6 May 2012

Three easy teas

I haven't written about any of my home cooking in ages, it's either down to a lack of time or a lack of inspiration in the kitchen. Probably a little bit of both. I have eaten a few meals that I've really enjoyed over the last week or so though, so thought I'd share.

Chick pea and mushroom curry 

A very quick and easy curry this, done and dusted in half an hour. Perfect for after work cooking, and it tastes pretty good too.

What you'll need (for two people):

1 tin chick peas
3 cloves garlic
1 large red chilli
1 onion
1 tsp mustard seeds
a handful of fresh coriander (stems and leaves)
1 heaped dessertspoon hot curry powder
ginger (stem in syrup!)
1 tomato
1 bay leaf
handful mushrooms
water to cover
1 tsp garam masala

What to do:

Heat up a little oil over a medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Chop the onion and throw it in the pan.

While the onion is sweating chop up the garlic, the chilli, coriander stems and the ginger then bash them to a rough paste in a pestle and mortar with a little oil, salt and pepper. I'd normally use a lump of fresh ginger, but had none in the house so wondered if a chunk of stem ginger from a jar would do (it did, adding a bit of gingery warmth and also a little sweetness).

Put the mustard seeds in the pan with the onion and stir until they start to sizzle and pop, then throw in the curry powder and bay leaf. Stir and keep frying for a minute or two. Add a little water if it starts to stick.

Throw in the garlic/chilli/coriander/ginger mush and fry for another minute or two. Chop the tomato and add that to the pan.

Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan. Open the chick peas, drain them and add them to the pan. Add enough water so that the chick peas and mushrooms are just barely covered. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced.

Throw in the garam masala and cook for one more minute. Garnish with the coriander leaf.

Eat. Best with some sort of Indian flatbread.

Lancashire cheese, apple, fennel and watercress salad

A great little salad of contrasting tastes and textures. Crisp and sweet, crumbly and creamy. The sharper acidity of the apples works really well with the more mellow tang of the cheese.

What you'll need (per person):

a large-ish hunk (maybe about 50g) of good quality Lancashire cheese (I used Mrs Kirkham's)
a sharp, crisp English apple
half a small bulb of fennel
a big handful of watercress
lemon juice
olive oil
black pepper

What to do:

Finely chop the fennel and apple into thin slivers. Cut the cheese into little chunks.

Toss the fennel, apple, cheese and watercress together. Squeeze over some lemon juice and add a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Grind over some black pepper.

Eat. Best with some crusty bread (granary works well with this).

A Polish plate

Polish might be pushing it here, but it's closer to Polish than any other specific nation. I think. Anyhow this isn't a recipe, more an assemblage of nice things, most of which I bought from an Eastern European supermarket in Wakefield.

My recent trip to the Czech Republic has piqued my interested in Eastern European food. It's much maligned, in rather the same way as British food has been over the years (tasteless, overcooked stodge with extra stodge), but as with British food there's a lot more to it than that.

Given the large Eastern European population in the UK these days I thought it was high time I investigated one of their supermarkets. It was pretty good. Loads of interesting looking sausages and cured meats, a multitude of peculiar dairy products (at least 73 flavours of cottage cheese as far as I could tell) and lots and lots of jarred pickles of every possible persuasion. I put together this lovely little meal with my purchases.

What you'll need:

a good Polish (or generally Eastern European) supermarket
Kabanos (cured smoked sausage, think nicer peparami)
cottage cheese
dark rye bread with sunflower seeds
pickled peppers (these are Turkish which is stretching the theme but what the hell)
Sliced tomato

What to do:

Arrange everything on the plate then eat it. Be pleasantly surprised at how nice it all is, and how enough of it to serve four or five people cost you six quid.

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