Easy chicken korma, UK-style

I’ll be honest, I don’t like korma. I’m not even particularly fond of proper Indian kurma, but it’s the British korma that I really do NOT like. Why not? Because it’s usually far too sweet (almost like a pudding) and usually far too greasy as well, and it has no chillies to counter that cloying taste. But Pete likes korma rather a lot for precisely that reason. Well, each to his – or her – own. I’m happy enough to make korma at home for Pete as long as I don’t have to eat it. I do not add extra sugar (which is something I’m sure is done in restaurants), which probably allows the coconut milk to provide its own natural sweetness. I say probably, but that’s because I don’t taste it at all and never have. So it’s kind of tricky, really, cooking non-vegetarian items for my husband… but more often than not, whatever I cook turns out rather well. It’s quite rare that he has to add extra seasoning. Touch wood.

So, enough of blowing my own trumpet and on with today’s recipe. This korma is quite simple and is perfect for a weeknight supper. Yes, it looks like a long list of ingredients, but I promise that if you exercise due diligence with your mise en place before you start cooking, this curry can be ready in 20 minutes. The more complicated, authentic Indian kurma is a recipe for another day, and another blog.

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Ingredients: Continue reading

Chicken schnitzel with parmesan-herb crust

This recipe is from a TV programme that I watched without the first idea of who the chef was or which channel or even which programme. I like watching cooking shows, even the hardcore ones which have recipes I’ll never try and ingredients that I’ve not heard of – actually, those are the ones I like. It’s like watching a fantasy show. So this recipe was demonstrated by a couple of Australians… come to think of it, I might have watched them on YouTube. In any case, I made this recipe because it sounded ridiculously easy – and it was. I didn’t even bother to write down the ingredients or method, because it was all straightforward.

Recipe for: Chicken schnitzel with parmesan-herb crust
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Ingredients

For the chicken:
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup plain flour
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
2 skinless chicken breasts
Oil for shallow frying

For the salad:
10 baby plum tomatoes, halved vertically
A good few handfuls of mixed salad leaves (little gem lettuce, rocket, baby chard, baby spinach, etc)
1/2 small red onion, sliced very thinly
1 boiled egg, quartered (optional)
Your favourite salad dressing (I used French dressing)

Method:

1, Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, lemon rind, parsley and garlic powder on a plate. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Place flour on a plate.

3. Whisk egg and milk together in a shallow bowl.

4. Place the chicken breasts in a sturdy ziploc bag and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten them to an even thickness all over. Do this carefully. They need to be about 1/2 cm thick all over.

5. Take the chicken breasts one by one and dip them first in the flour, shaking off the excess; then in the egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs mixture. Pat the breadcrumbs with your fingers on the chicken breasts where necessary.

6. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken schnitzel for 4 to 5 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain while you make the salad.

7. Slice the schnitzel on the diagonal into 1-cm wide strips. Mix the salad with the dressing, place the sliced schnitzel on top and serve immediately.

Verdict: Pete loved it. 

Pork stir fry with black sesame seeds

I’ve decided not to buy supermarket bottled Chinese stir fry sauces any more, because practically the first ingredient in them is sugar. Yes, I knew about this, but continued to buy ready-made sauces because of the convenience factor. That’s how those supermarkets nab you – they play on your natural vices. Laziness is my biggest vice. It was partly out of laziness that I bought those sauces, but also because I’m not confident with making Chinese food. Eating it, yes (not with chopsticks though), but making it… not so much.

However, there are plenty of recipes on the Net for instant sauces. As long as you have a little sweet (honey/sugar/sweetener of choice), a little sour (vinegar), a little hot (chilli sauce/flakes) and a bit of salt, you already have a base for the stir-fry sauce. After that you just add whatever takes your fancy (peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds, garlic, etc) and some veg and meat, and there you are.

Today I made a pork stir fry with black sesame seeds. There were two boneless pork medallions, a bell pepper and a pak choi. and that’s what made up Pete’s dinner. Those were the only veg I had handy, but you can add mangetout, mushrooms, baby corn, scallions – whatever you like.

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Linguini with squid in tomato-garlic sauce

So, squid.

Today, peoples, we will be cooking squid. If, like me, you don’t like the smell of seafood, I should warn you that squid will probably make a temporary mouth-breather of you. The important word here is “temporary”. It only lasts for as long as you’re around the squid. Once it’s cooked and served up, you will find your nose taking over that breathing thing once again, leaving your mouth free for talking or eating something that isn’t squid.

Ok, I’m being mean – truthful, but mean. I mean, I don’t want to put anybody off calamari (that’s squid in American, I believe) – neither the eating, nor the cooking. Then again, I guess anybody who loves this stuff isn’t going to be bothered by anything I say here.

The good thing about squid is that it’s quick to cook, like most of the seafood I’ve posted about on this blog so far. It also doesn’t make your whole house smell of seafood (unlike, say, sardines). I used pre-prepared frozen squid. (I’ve not tried cooking fresh squid, and I’m certainly not about to prepare the squid personally.) All I did was defrost it (place in warm water for 5  minutes, then give it 2 minutes defrosting in the microwave). Wash again and pat dry as much as possible, using paper towels. Then cut it up into rings about 1 cm wide. Leave the tentacles as they are, or you can cut them up smaller if you like.
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Once that’s done, cooking the squid is a doddle. You can make the pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes if that’s how you like it, But If you use jarred ready made pasta sauce (like I did this time), this recipe comes together quicker than quick.
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Rainbow trout with creamy chopped egg sauce

It’s been quite a while since my last post here.

I know, I’ve probably used that same intro for other posts too, probably word for word – on this blog, and on my vegetarian food blog too. Suffice it to say that I’m still looking for my mojo when it comes to posting something new. I’m trying, though.

Rainbow trout fillets

Anyway, I came across a recipe a couple of days back in The Guardian newspaper that kind of intrigued me, because it involved eggs and fish, a combination I had never come across on any food blog that I’d seen so far. As an added bonus, the ingredient list was pleasingly simple, so I went out that same evening and bought the required fish fillets.

Ok, the fish I bought (rainbow trout) was not the fish specified in the recipe (sea trout). Sea trout? What the heck is THAT? And where do you even get it? I was too shy to ask the fishmonger at Sainsbury’s, so I decided that one reddish fish was much the same as any other reddish fish. (Please don’t fillet me for that blasphemous statement, o fish purists!)

They weren’t whole fish, by the way. They were rainbow trout fillets, de-boned and blissfully unfussy to cook (and eat).

I also wasn’t going to buy double cream just for this recipe when I had creme fraiche at home, so creme fraiche was what I used. If you have/want double cream, by all means go with it. 
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Healthy General Tso’s chicken

I’d never heard of General Tso’s chicken before I stumbled across the recipe on a website (which I now can’t for the life of me remember). I like to check out as many recipes as possible until I can cobble together something a little different from any of them… But once I googled for other General Tso recipes, I found there were dozens.
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This recipe is pretty much as I saw it on various sites, including Martha Stewart’s. So I’m going to assume that this is HER original recipe, faithfully but not-very-honestly adopted by various bloggers as their own concoction. I can’t claim that, because it sure ain’t… but the next recipe coming up on this blog IS my own. That’s not for this post, though, so here’s the recipe for a non-deep-fried General Tso’s breast of chicken.

I must say I was pretty impressed with the way the egg-white and cornflour mixture sealed the chicken (like batter does when deep-frying) the second it hit the hot fat in the pan. Quite impressive, I must say. The recipe itself came up trumps. Thanks, Martha!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cornflour
200gm snow peas or sugar-snap peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and peeled
1.5 tbsp light-brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil

Method:

1. In a large bowl, stir together 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth.

2. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.
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3. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.

4. Add the cubed chicken, and toss to coat.
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5. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high.

6. Place a few pieces of chicken in the skillet without crowding, after shaking off the excess egg-white mixture. It will immediately form a “skin”.

7. Cook the chicken, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. (Check that the pieces are cooked inside – they should be opaque all through.) Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside.
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8. Now, in the same pan, add the snow-pea mixture. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.

9. Return the cooked chicken to the pan with any juices. Stir well. Serve with simple etso3gg-fried rice.

Verdict: Pete had nothing but praise for this recipe. Score!

Hake steak bake

You could be forgiven for wondering if I bought the hake just so I could make a play with words in the title! But it wasn’t like that – honest! I was looking for fish to try for Pete at Sainsbury’s. It was about 6.45 p.m, and the fish counter was just beginning to close. I was wondering what to get, staring at some swordfish, when the fishmonger pointed out that there were some fish that were being sold at a discount because they were closing. I didn’t want to get salmon – they’re not Pete’s most favourite fish – so when I saw the hake steaks, I knew what he was going to have for dinner.

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Not that knew for certain that the hake steaks would withstand baking without falling apart, but  I was fairly sure that as they were steaks, the fish was probably less delicate than others and would stand up to being baked. I was right. 

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