Jeera Rice or Cumin Rice

Jeera rice or cumin rice, whatever you want to call it, it's good.
Jeera means cumin in Hindi. The cumin seeds are gently roasted with cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and bay leaves until they nicely browned and nutty.
This is another Gordon Ramsay recipe from his book 'Great Escape'

If you like Indian food than you have to give this a go!

Of course you don't eat the bay leaves nor the cinnamon stick - I left those in an attempt to make the picture look more fancy!


Indian Sambar - Gordon Ramsay

Sambar is a thin stew flavoured with tamarind and thickened with toor (tuvar) dal.
A plateful of loveliness!
So, this was another
recipe I just had to make from watching Gordon Ramsay's 'Great Escape' television programme.

I have to say this was the nicest Indian dish I have ever had. So many different flavours and very spicy but in the nicest possible way. The Jeera (cumin) rice was also delicious.
I will be making both again! Don't be put off my the never ending list of ingredients - this recipe is well worth the effort.

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If you are going to make this, please note the following:
I must point out that Gordon's recipe doesn't mention adding water after adding the tamarind liquid. I had to add at least a cup if not a cup and a half.
The carrots and butternut can not possibly cook in just the little amount of thickish tamarind water and most definitely not in
only 8 to 10 minutes as his book says it will take.
When I make this again I will part boil the carro
ts and butternut before adding to the recipe.
I also used frozen okra from Tesco's as I couldn't get fresh on the day
I wanted it. I also go the tamarind (wet block) from Tesco
in their world food bit and the toor dal from an Asian grocers.

Serves 4

For the Masala you will need:
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp yellow split peas

2 tsp coriander seeds

6 curry leaves
4 dried red chillies

For the Sambar you will need:
200g toor dal
or it is also known as tuvar dal
6 curry leaves

100g tamarind pulp

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

4 dried red chillies

1 medium aubergine, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
¼ butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 2cm pieces

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
at least a cup of water

1tsp ground turmeric

1tsp sea salt - or to taste

50g okra - washed, dried, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
4 tomatoes - skinned and chopped

1tsp ground coriander

1tsp red chilli powder
fresh coriander - leave only and chopped
1tbsp of ghee or melted unsalted butter

How to do it:
Place a frying pan over a medium heat and carefully roast all the ingredients for the masala.
When the spices begin to smell very fragrant and are nicely roasted, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Use a spice grinder or pestle and mortar to grind the spices into a powder.

Tip into a small bowl and add enough water, about 3-4 tablespoons, to form a thick paste with a slow-dropping consistency and set aside.

Put the toor dal and curry leaves into a medium saucepan and cover with 1½ litres of water. Bring to the boil and skim off any
scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat slightly and leave to simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain and set aside.

Soak the tamarind in 200ml of very hot water for 20 minutes, break down the block into smaller pieces.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve pushing through as much as possible but discard the husks and seeds - you only want the thickish liquid.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the mustard, fennel and cumin seeds and the dried chillies.

Cook for 1 minute or until the spices become very fragrant. Now add the aubergine, butternut squash and carrots, stirring well to coat the vegetables in the spices. After 2-3 minutes add the turmeric, salt and tamarind water to the pan and bring to the boil.
Boil for a good while until the vegetables are tender but not mushy. You will need to add water. I must have added at least a cup and a half by the time the carrots had softened - please see my note above.

Add the okra, cooked lentils, ground masala spice, chopped tomatoes, ground coriander and chilli powder to the pan and stir well.
Add more water to the pan if necessary. (The sambar should be quite thin in consistency.)

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 5 minutes or so until the okra is just tender.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Just before serving, stir through the chopped coriander and ghee or butter.

Serve the Sambar hot with rice and warm naan bread.
I served mine with Jeera rice.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties!

Haggis is traditionally eaten in Scotland to celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns and is known as 'Burns' night.
It is always held on the 25th January, which was his birthday.

Haggis is a kind of savoury sausage meat which has lovely spices added.
Now, all that said, I personally can only cope with the haggis from M&S that comes in a plastic bag instead of a sheep's stomach!

Haggis is served with 'neeps' which is swede (or rutabaga to those of you in the US) boiled in slightly salted water and then mashed with a little nutmeg.
The 'tatties' are just mashed potatoes.

Some people serve haggis with a dish called clapshot which originated in the Orkney islands. To make this you just mix equal amounts of mashed potato together with the mashed swede a
nd stir in some snipped chives.

How knowledgeable am I you may be thinking? - all with thanks to the Internet!

Indian Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani Recipe

I've been watching Gordon Ramsay's 'Great Escape' on TV - a fantastic programme!  However, when the book was published I'm thinking something is wrong with the butter chicken recipe. In the programme talking about the butter chicken he had there, Gordon said "It doesn't taste tart - like it's been laced with tomato uses fresh tomatoes" 

Now, this is all very strange because the book says to use 275ml of tomato puree and there's not a mention of a tomato fresh or tinned!  That said, I must point out that in the USA tomato puree is known as tomato paste perhaps a misunderstanding by whoever wrote the book.

Indian Butter Chicken

So, there I was, everything ready to go until I noticed the amount of tomato puree. Not only would the dish have been very bitter, there would have been no sauce at all.
With all that in mind, I set about looking up different recipes on the net and the result is my 'titivated' version of Indian butter chicken.

Jan's Chilli con Carne - Nice and Spicy

A right nice n spicy Chilli con Carne always goes down well and is so, so easy to make.
Just the thing for cold weather or when you have friends round.


Onion Fried Rice - Indian style

Onion fried rice with a nice hot curry - Mmm yum! Pictured here served with my Chicken Vindaloo.

Onion Fried Rice

There's no real recipe as I made it up, but all you need is some cooked cold rice enough for two and then just double the amount of spice and onions if you want to make rice for four etc.
Make sure your rice is cold or it will be sticky and be sure to read my note here on storing cooked rice safely.


Lamb Shanks in a Red Wine, Redcurrant and Balsamic Gravy

This is a totally make it up as I went along 'Jan' recipe!
I must say I was very pleased with the result. A deliciously rich red wine, redcurrant and balsamic gravy with meat that was falling off the bone.
Although I did put a couple of carrots in the dish whilst it was cooking, I also served the lamb shanks with roasted carrots and parsnips and roast potatoes too.

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You will need:

about 50g butter in total (a 'knob' being a thir
d of this amount)
a glug or two of olive oil

2 lamb shanks

3 red onions - sliced
3 fa
t cloves of garlic - finely chopped
2 carrots - peeled and quartered
2 sticks of celery - each cut into four pieces

a couple of sprigs of thyme - leaves only and chopped

1 sprig of rosemary - leaves only and finely chopped

2 bay leaves

a good heaped tablespoon of tomato puree
2 or 3 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly

a tablespoon of decent Balsamic vinegar

400ml beef stock - made form a Knorr stock cub
e (Oxo cube will not be the same as it's too salty)
400ml red wine
a glug of port (a good tablespoon)
a splash of Worcestershire sauce

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

How to do it:
Preheat your oven to 170C/325F or Gas 3

Get yourself a nice casserole dish with a lid that can go both on top of the stove and inside the oven.
Heat a small amount of olive oil and a knob of butter. Brown the shanks - when they're nicely coloured, remove and set aside.

Now in the same pan, without washing it, add another glug of oil and a k
nob of butter. Gently fry the onions until they are soft but not coloured.
Put the ca
rrots and celery in and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic. Fry for another minute or so and then add the chopped thyme and rosemary along with the tomato puree.
Cook for a minute or the paste will be bitter.
Now add the bay leaf, stock, wine, and redcurrant jelly.
Give everything a good stir and bring to the boil.
Have a taste (take no notice of the very liquid state of the gravy at this stage) as that will be sorted in the end.

Put the lamb back in and on with the lid and into your preheated oven.

As the liquid won't be enough to cover the lamb skanks, you will have to turn them and give it a stir every whenever you can - say every hour.
They will need about 2 to 2½ hours, by which time the meat will very easily come fall off the bone.

When they're nicely done, remove the shanks and cover to keep warm.

Put the casserole on the stove top and bring the liquid to the boil. Add the port, balsamic and Worcestershire sauce and turn the heat down a just a little as you need the liquid to reduce. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning - you may want to add a little more redcurrant jelly or port.
When it's nicely reduced (shoul
dn't take long) stir in a knob of butter to make a nice glossy sauce and serve immediately.

Don't forget to remove the bay leaves before serving!

I served mine with a few roasted carrots and parsnips and also some nice roast potatoes too!

Mulligatawny Soup - Gordon Ramsay Recipe

Just the thing for this freezing cold and snowy weather we're having here in the UK at the moment. A lovely curry flavoured soup with rice and beef.  There are so many variations of Mulligatawny you would not believe!

This is Gordon Ramsay's version, to which I added a good handful of cooked and finely chopped roast beef left over from the Sunday roast. I also used medium heat curry powder and not mild - I like a bit of heat!

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Please note: the book says to add 150g cooked rice but I think that must be a printing error as it would end up like porridge. We really liked this recipe but when I make it again, I will use beef stock as I think the colour would have been more to the kind of Mulligatawny soup I've had in the past.

To serve 4 you will need: 
a big knob of butter
2 onions - peeled and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp tomato purée 2 or 3 tbsp of curry powder - medium heat
a good handful of finely diced and cooked beef - left over from the Sunday roast
2 tbsp plain flour
2 or 3 tbsp ginger - grated
1 green apple - peeled and grated
400ml chicken stock
400ml tin of coconut milk
60g cooked long grain rice

To Serve: 
a few fresh coriander leaves
a dollop of sour cream for each bowl
chunks of nice freshly baked bread

How to make it: 
Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions and some seasoning. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes, until they begin to soften, but don't let them colour too much.Add the tomato purée, curry powder and the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it smells delicious.

Now add the ginger and apple and stir over a high heat for a few minutes. Deglaze the pan with the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any bits.
Add the coconut milk and simmer until thickened.

Just before serving, add the rice and make sure it's nicely heated though and then season generously to taste.

Pour into bowls, add a dollop of soured cream and a few coriander leaves.
Now get the bread at the ready and dunk it in!

Beef, Porter Ale and Stilton Pie

I've fancied making a beef and Stilton pie ever since M&S introduced one into their Gastropub range. I noticed that the M&S one has port in, but I used a Porter ale instead. The result was tender beef in a velvety, rich and very tasty gravy.

So with all that in mind I set about making one. I was very pleased with the end result and am really embarrassed to tell you we ate it all - yep the whole lot. Nothing at all was left so it worked out a bit of a dear do, but hey ho.
This really ought to have served four :)

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You will need:
1kg casserole or braising steak, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1 small bunch fresh thyme
a small handful of black peppercorns
400ml Whitechapel Porter Ale available from Asda (or another dark ale)
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
6 chestnut mushrooms - quartered
1 large onion - sliced thinly
440ml beef stock made from a Knorr beef stock cube
1tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp of redcurrant jelly
a couple of good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
100g Stilton cheese, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 free-range egg, beaten
500g ready made puff pastry

To make the pie filling:
Put the Porter Ale, beef, garlic, thyme and peppercorns into a bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at
least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

Remove the beef from the marinade, pat dry with kitchen paper and dredge in the seasoned flour.
Strain the marinade through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and set aside.
Note: you only want the liquid so throw away all the bits (peppercorns and thyme etc)

Heat the oil and one tablespoon of the butter in a flameproof casserole and fry the beef in small batches for 2-3 minutes each time, or until browned all over.
Once the meat is browned, remove from the casserole dish and set aside.
Return the casserole dish to the heat and fry the mushrooms and onions for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomato puree, and cook for a minute before adding the Worcestershire sauce and redcurrant jelly.

Now return the beef and the reserved marinating liquid to the casserole and add the beef stock.

Cover with a lid and gently simmer for about 2½ hours, or until the beef is nice and tender.
When it is, strain off half of the cooking liquid from the casserole dish and set aside to make the gravy for serving.

Remove from the heat and crumble the Stilton into the casserole and stir until nicely melted. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside to cool right down. While that's happening you can preheat your oven and get the pastry at the ready!

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of about 3 quarters of an inch and cut large enough to cover your pie dish. My dish was about 10 inches by 7 inches.
Line the edge of your pie dish with a strip of pastry like in the picture.
I'm not good with pastry but whatever it tastes okay and that's all that matters, isn't it?!

Brush the edges of the pastry with some of the beaten egg and lay over the pie dish. Crimp the pastry all around the edge to seal, then trim off any excess pastry.

Make a small hole in the middle of the pie top so that the steam can escape whilst cooking. Brush all over some of the beaten egg.
Put the pie into the oven to bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is piping hot.

To make the gravy:
Put the reserved cooking liquid into a small saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until reduced to a gravy consistency.
Stir in a knob of butter until melted, and the sauce is smooth and glossy.
Keep it warm until needed.

When the pie is cooked serve with mashed potato and the gravy. I made carrot and potato mash with was rather nice I must say.

How to make Pan Haggerty

Today I felt the need to make Pan Haggerty (as you do)!  Pan Haggerty is a dish that consists of thin layers of potato, onion and cheese which is localised to the Tyneside area of North East England.  

Pan Hagerty

A variation known as Panaggy is made in some parts of the north, which uses much the same ingredients (with the addition of bacon) but is made into a kind of cottage pie. There's also there is a dish called Panaculty which uses corned beef; sounds interesting I might have to look into making this.

Goats Cheese and Red Pepper Pastries with Pesto

Since I had one of those long pointed sweet red peppers in my fridge - just the one!  I didn't really know what to do with it but I had some goats cheese too and so these individual goats cheese pastries happened.

On with the pastries......
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