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Preview: Kittens in the Kitchen

Kittens in the Kitchen

Escaping my day job by dreaming of food...

Last Build Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2017 17:56:17 +0000


Guess who's back in the kitchen?

Fri, 26 Mar 2010 08:40:00 +0000

So, eighteen months after my jubilant escape from the nine-to-five (and another British winter!), I'm finally back in the kitchen!

And with more than a couple of tales to tell...

From exploring the majesty of Angkor Wat, to surviving the frentic traffic of Saigon; lazing on the beaches of south Thailand, to diving the incredible and fragile Great Barrier Reef; trekking in the mountains of north Vietnam to skydiving over Byron Bay... this was a trip of memories and magic.

And the food! Well, as you may expect, food was my focus. Everything I hoped for (and occasionally a little bit more...) Noodle soup and 'real' pad thai from countless street vendors, equally good as a breakfast, or a late night snack after a night on the Chang. Fiery dried stingray and icy cold beer in a bar in Chaing Mai, crab claw curry in kuala lumpur, where vats of curries steam and bubble and call. Deep-fried tarantulas challenged my idea of roadside eating in Cambodia, while beef intestine soup in Hong Kong proved surprisingly silky.

Watch this space for the first of many recipes from my travels, starting tomorrow with a fabulous authentic Thai curry as taught to me in a Chiang Mai cookery school!
(image) (image)

Fallen off the surface of the earth?

Thu, 04 Dec 2008 10:06:00 +0000

Yes... and re-emerged in South East Asia!

No foodie stuff this time, just wanted to say a quick hello! I've finally started my trip (the interim weeks of planning barely leaving time to eat, never mind blog!)

I am currently in Melaka after a short time in Singapore - and just starting to find my feet.

I'm keeping a travel blog here, and have just completed my first entry, so if anyone's interested, check it out. That will be for general travel stuff - I still plan to use KitK to talk about foodie bits and pieces - and to show off any recipes I might pick up at the cookery classes!

I'll be back with a foodie entry soon!(image)

A bit more news... and Coconut Spiced Kangaroo Kebabs

Tue, 28 Oct 2008 13:30:00 +0000

More news!

I have booked my flights for my trip! I leave England on the 30th November, flying to Bangkok. I'm feeling so many mixed emotions right now that I don't know quite what to do with myself. Taking myself to the pub for a calming glass of red is an option!

Anyway, before I do - here is the first of my recipes from my recent international dinner party!

This is the first course I served in my recent 24, 24, 24 meal - an Australia dish for my friend Belinda! (Psst... I'm going there :P )

I had heard a number of times that kangaroo is notorious for being tough, and that it should never be cooked more than medium rare. It is a very lean meat - and so it is easy to dry it out. To help make it as tender as can be, I marinated in in a mixture of orange juice, coconut milk, lemon grass, ginger and garlic.

Coconut Spiced Kangaroo Kebabs

(image) Feeds 6
  • 300g kangaroo fillet
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 150ml fresh orange juice
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1" ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thai red chili - seeds in
Blitz the lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chili to a fine paste - add a bit of OJ to thin it out if required.

Stir in the coconut milk and orange juice.

Dice the kangaroo fillets into 1" pieces, and add to marinade. Allow to soak for at least 3 hours - or overnight.

Thread the marinated meat onto soaked bamboo skewers.

Preheat a grill (or broiler) as hot as it can be. Grill the kebabs for 3/4 minutes on each side - do not overcook!

Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a scattering of fresh cilantro!(image)

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Six Friends, Six Countries, One City

Sun, 26 Oct 2008 17:30:00 +0000

When I first moved to Brighton I was lucky enough to meet five amazing girls at pretty much the same time! Since then we became very close - long boozy lunches in the pub in Winter; all day picnics on the beach in Summer; and random fancy dress parties pretty much any time of year. We've been clubbing in Ibiza; sightseeing in Budapest; sunbathing in Mallorca; and moonlight camel-trekking in Morocco. Been through break ups and make overs; late nights and countless bottles of wine. These are my girls - my Brighton family.When an announcement went out inviting foodbuzz bloggers to submit ideas for a unique dinner to help promote their official launch, I racked my brain to think of a special dinner, with very little success.I had all but given up on the idea when I went round to Alice's flat to dinner to have our regular mid-week Ladies Night. Then Vicki came up with a brilliant suggestion. None of us girls are actually from Brighton originally - and more than that, we're all from different countries - England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Pakistan and Nigeria! She suggested that I cook up a menu with different courses for each country. And I was happy and excited to hear from foodbuzz that they wanted to go ahead with her suggestion!I decided in the end to do a tasting menu - six small courses. It was a wonderful evening. The girls arrived at half seven; the wine was opened and the chat started immediately!The guests!From left:Vicki (Welsh) - recently landed a dream job as an Editorial Assistant in a publishing house - woop!Alice - the Londoner, going traveling the week before me! Moon (Pakistan) - getting married in the Maldives in February - and I'm bridesmaid! Me! Wearing my Joust Winners' ApronMariska (Nigerian) - got married in Vegas a couple of weeks ago (intentionally!) Belinda, moved to Brighton from Sydney only a few weeks before I met her! The FoodMarinated Kangaroo KebabsFirst up, my Australian offering - kangaroo kebabs. I had to go up to London to get the meat from Borough Market - and most of us hadn't ever tried it before. With some trepidation I marinated the meat in coconut milk, orange juice and lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chili. A light grilling to just more than rare, and it got its rest while I took the photographs!The meat was deliciously tender, with the smoothness of coconut and the Asian flavours rounding out the rich meat perfectly. Kangaroo has the reputation for being tough, but served rare, was as tender as fillet steak... Empty plates all round!AkaraAkara are bean patties and are the Nigeria course in my international menu. Mariska provided me with a recipe - I'd never even heard of them before! Akara are fritters made from black eye peas, onion and cayenne pepper. Apparently in West Africa they can be served as breakfast, appetizer or snack - and are also sold as street food. And I can see why they are so popular - we all loved them!Smoked Haddock with Welsh RarebitI really wanted to serve Welsh Rarebit for the Welsh course - and smoked haddock seemed like a suitable vehicle! Welsh rarebit is made almost like a very thick cheddar sauce, with mustard, dark ale and worcestershire sauce mixed in. Spread thickly on pan-fried haddock, then broiled til brown and bubbling, the savoury cheesiness matched the smoked haddock perfectly.Cock a Leekie SoupSome more Scottish Scran! For a soup course we turn to Scotland, with a bowl of cock a leeky soup. Cool name, huh! Cock a leeky soup is a very old traditional soup - originally made by making stock from a whole boiling fowl, then adding leeks and prunes. More recently, an ordinary chicken is used, and rice is added during the final simmer. I wanted to add prunes - but the shop was out! It definitely hit the spot despite that!Pakistani Fish Curry with Methi RotiI asked Moon for a recommendation for what to cook from Pakistan - and she offered me a gorgeous recipe for fish curry - just like her mum used to make! I was excited about making thi[...]

Warning - Envy-Inducing News Within! (And Proscuittio Wrapped Sole ;)

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 16:00:00 +0000

I have some news that I just couldn't wait to tell you!! *Hang on - first things first. it appears I have been remiss in my accreditation of Peter the Greek. You may recognise the formation of my plating below as reminiscent of a certain, recent Kalofagas post. And indeed it is. But I was so excited, I forgot to write it up ;) Peter, my humblest apologies... ;)I'm leaving good old Blighty just in time for the cold(er!) season, and going off on a mighty, foodie traveling adventure, all by myself!It's been on the cards for a while, but I didn't want to post about it until I had spoken to my work. I have just had 'the chat' with them today - so now the countdown begins! This is the news I was being mysterious about in an earlier post, and is the reason why I have leased out my flat... It's a good un, huh?!So anyway, I don't have tickets booked yet, but I will be flying to Bangkok sometime later than a month from now, but hopefully before Christmas. I'm then going to travel around SE Asia overland for a few months - meeting up with a couple of friends on Ko Pha Nang for the Full Moon Party.Then to recover from the excesses we'll be taking a diving course - new to me! Other than that I'm going to visit Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Plus anywhere else that takes my fancy - probably Sri Lanka, and just maybe a trip to China to visit another friend.And I'm taking a week to nip over to the Maldives to celebrate a friend's wedding (I'm bridesmaid!). Imagine a week of five star luxury (not to mention the free cocktails!!) after all that back-packing! :DAfter that I plan to spend some time in Australia, then maybe a month in India on the way home.Did I mention that I've been researching cookery schools? Because that's one of my main reasons for going! The food. Cooking and eating. Eating and cooking. And smelling. Then maybe a bit more eating. Just imagine... nom nom nom...I'd love to meet up with any fellow bloggers out in those neck of the woods - and any recommendations for things to do, see, eat or cook will be most welcome! I've only allowed myself to plan loosely as I want to have freedom to make my decisions when I'm there.Right, I'll turn the envy generator off now. (No, not really, I'm still grinning like a loon!)But I wouldn't make you green, and leave you without even a taste of food, so have a delicious plate of...Prosciutto Wrapped Sole with Roast Garlic Mashed PotatoesServes 21 large dover sole, skinned and filleted (i.e. 4 fillets)1 medium onion1 punnet cherry tomatoes125ml white wine4 slices prosciutto2 cloves roast garlicFloury potatoes, boiled in salted water2 tbsp olive oil1 tsp paprika1/4 tsp cayenneJuice of half a lemonknob of butterA shot of cream or milkSugar, Salt and Pepper to tasteHeat the oven to 150c.Prepare the Base...Take a baking dish just big enough to take all the tomatoes in one layer, and drizzle in some olive oil. Cut the onion into 8 wedges, and lay in tray. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.Pop in the oven for 20 minutes until soft and sweet.Wash the cherry tomatoes, add to the onions and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Turn up the heat to 175c, throw in the glass of wine, chuck it back in the oven and set about making your fillet rolls.Prepare the Fish...Mix the olive oil with the lemon juice, paprika, cayenne, and a twist of sea salt if you fancy.Take one fillet of sole, brush with the oil mix, and roll into a twist. Take a slice of prosciutto and wrap it round the fish, making a little skirt. Repeat with all the fillets. Brush the top of the fish with any excess oil mixture.Get the oven dish out again, and sit the fish on top of the tomatoes. Bake for 20 minutes, or until done.Make the Mash...Make the roast garlic mash, by ricing the the potatoes and mixing in the butter, milk or cream and cloves of roast garlic. Make sure you mush up the garlic first - otherwise someone's going to get a garlicky shock... Hey, now there's a party game - mashed potato r[...]

Fancy Mushrooms with Oak Smoked Garlic

Mon, 20 Oct 2008 18:30:00 +0000

This is a fast, simple recipe, which proves that with good quality ingredients little fussing is required*.I picked up a load of mushrooms on a recent trip to Borough Market. There were loads of types, and I don't know most but they included ceps, autumn chanterelles, horn of plenty and oysters. They cost a forearm and an ankle (really must sign up to that foraging course next year...) and were supposed to be served for breakfast the next day. But a late night and a hangover made a bacon and egg sarnie the only breakfast option!Later that day, once the hangover abated, I managed to sort myself out enough to prepare this simple supper: mushrooms with oak smoked garlic, served on bulgar wheat with a dash of lemon and a tickle of thyme.Fancy Mushrooms with Oak Smoked GarlicServes 2Various mushrooms, cleaned1 clove smoked garlic, crushed1 cup bulgar wheatVegetable stockHalf a lemonHalf tsp fresh thyme leavesExtra Virgin Olive OilSalt and Pepper to tastePlace the bulgar wheat and thyme in a bowl and cover with vegetable stock. Cover bowl and leave for 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, add a good squeeze of lemon juice, adjust seasoning and fluff again.Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms. Fry gently for 5 minutes until cooked through, adding the garlic and any seasoning for the last couple of minutes of cooking.Place the bulgar wheat in a bowl, and top with the mushrooms. A garnish of lemon and you're set to go...* I like fussing. And I like lots of flavours! I'm saying is it isn't necessary.It's kind of like that new pair of toweringly high shoes. Not required... but very, very nice! [...]

Scottish Scran 7 - Mince and Tatties

Thu, 16 Oct 2008 12:30:00 +0000

Mince and tatties. Sounds plain enough, but it was always a source of excitement when we found out we were getting this for our tea! I even thought about calling my two cats after it - Minnie and Tattie for short! it has it's own 'World' championships, and has even been the topic of European parliamentary dispute.I've been looking forward to this post since I came up with the idea for Scottish Scran. Mince and tatties is another comforting childhood favourite of mine. And just perfect for the colder weather.There'll be no tough mince here. No watery gravy or onion bulk. The mince is real Scottish steak mince, hung and flavourful. Slow-cooked to a thick sauce, served over buttery mashed potatoes, served with a dash of the ubiquitous broon sauce. Then on the second day, made over with the addition of marrow fat peas (no petit pois, thank you), and potatoes infused with flavour from being slowly cooked in the pot.Mince and Tatties... Day 11 kilo of good beef steak mince1 large onion, finely chopped3 medium carrots, peeled and diced2 tbsp Worcester sauceBeef stock to coverSalt and Pepper to tasteMashed potatoes to serveIn a large saucepan, brown the mince in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. This is important - crowd the pan and your mince will boil and lose a lot of flavour. Only drain excess fat if you must - you'll lose flavour and tenderness if you do.In the same pan, fry off the onion for 3/4 minutes, before returning the mince to the pan. Add the worcester sauce, and beef stock to cover. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 45 minutes.Adjust seasoning if required, then add the carrots. Now, continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes, leaving the pan uncovered as required to reduce the stock down to a thick sauce. Top up with more stock if required, though this shouldn't be necessary.Serve atop a pile of mashed potatoes, and with a bottle of broon sauce on the side!Mince and Tatties... Day 2Leftover mince from yesterday1 tin marrow fat peas, drained. or soak your own if you mustPotatoes, cut into bite-size piecesIn a saucepan large enough to take all ingredients, heat the leftover mince. Add the potatoes, and top up with water if required. (Or stock if you have any left) Adjust seasoning - bear in mind that the tatties will absorb a lot of saltiness. Cover and cook gently until the potatoes are cooked through.Add the peas and cook for a further minute or two.Scottish Word of the Day!mince - nonsense, rubbishYer no listenin' tae whit that heid-th-ba tells ye, ur ye? His heid's full a' mince!Or, in response to some haivering blether, simply: Mince! [...]

Besan Fried Aubergine with Lentil Pilaf

Tue, 14 Oct 2008 13:00:00 +0000

Right, so the kitchen is unpacked, and the living room is clear of boxes. I've no idea where anything is, but at least have managed to find my bed every night, which is always a good thing! Saying that, my bedroom looks like it has been hit by a girl bomb*, but let's just ignore that for now. All in all, I'm getting settled - and hopefully normal blogging services will be resumed shortly!The dish I'm serving up to you today is a feat of kitchen clearing. I prepared it in my last week at the flat, and was chuffed about using up lots of bits and pieces to actually make a fairly cohesive whole. Not only that - it was quick to make, ridiculously cheap, and damned tasty with it! My quantities are pretty rough - the end of a pack of basmati, finish off a couple packs of lentils, some bits of veg from the back of the fridge, a couple of almost empty jars of sambal...Besan Fried Aubergine with Lentil PilafServes 41 cup red lentils, washed1.5 cup basmati rice0.5 cup broad beans (from the freezer!)Half a broccoli, florets400g tin tomatoes1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste1/2 tsp black mustard seeds1/2 tsp fennel seeds1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves1/2 tsp turmeric1/2 tsp red chili flakesgood pinch saffronVegetable bouillonSalt to tasteghee to fry Heat ghee in a heavy-based saucepan and add mustard and fennel seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop, add the garlic and ginger, then the fenugreek, lentils and basmati rice. Stir for 3/4 minutes, then add the rest of the spices, and salt as required.Add the tin of tomatoes, and top up with hot bouillon to about an inch over the level. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes.Chuck in the broccoli florets and broad beans and add more bouillon if required. Continue cooking until rice and lentils are done, checking to make sure it doesn't get too dry, adding more bouillon as necessary.Besan-Fried Aubergine 1 cup gram flour1 tsp ground coriander1 tsp ground cumin1/2 tsp cayenne pepper1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp baking powderwater to mix1 aubergine (eggplant!)ghee to fry Mix together the first six ingredients, then mix in just enough water to make a thick batter.Cut the aubergine into slices about 1cm thick, and coat them in the batter.Heat the ghee in a frying pan to a medium to hot heat. Cook the aubergine for a minute or two on each side, until golden and crispy - but don't overcook!Serve the lentil pilaf with slices of fried aubergine on top, and a couple dabs of sambal if you're in the mood for a bit more heat!* clothes, shoes**, make up, more boxes and some random utterly unnecessary objects... A small stuffed bagpuss mouse that sings "We will fix it". Except the battery is all but dead, so all it actually does is an aphonic "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.......". Then snuffles a little before returning to its glass-eyed voiceless state.** did I mention I halved my shoe collection before I moved? I threw out 42 pairs... :-S [...]

Think Spice... Think Fenugreek - The Roundup!

Fri, 10 Oct 2008 12:30:00 +0000

Oh dear - my very first time hosting a food event... and I'm late!Apologies to anyone waiting for the Think Spice... Think Fenugreek round up. Life has been getting in the way of blogging, and I missed my target of the first week in October. But I'm hoping that the lovely selection of fenugreek based dishes will go some way to appeasing you all!First on the list is this wonderful Punjabi Kadhi by Hitashi from Culinary Hike. It is a yogurt based curry prepared in way I haven't seen before - beating the yogurt with some spices and gram flour to create the base. Can't wait to try it!Punjabi Kadhi Priya from Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes took advantage of the fact that fenugreek is a legume to sprout the seeds and create this Sprouted Fenugreek Onion Gravy. She recommends serving it with hot rice and papads - all I can say is count me in!!Sprouted Fenugreek Onion GravyWho knew making a pickle could be so easy, and look so good! Vijaya from Daily Meals presents this crunchy Cauliflower Pickle. With cauliflower in abundance at the moment, I can't wait to give this a go!Cauliflower Pickle Jayasree of Kaila's Kitchen shares with us these unusual Rice wade. Wades are like poori - deep-fried dough balls - in this case flavoured with methi and fennel. I'd love to try these with that moong dal Jayasree!Rice WadeNags from Edible Garden continues her mystery masala series to bring us this fantastically coloured sambhar cum rasam spice blend. Can't you just smell those wonderful fragrances from here?Sambhar cum Rasam Masala PowderPsychgrad from Equal Opportunity Kitchen really pushed the boat out with this Sri Lankan Red Shrimp Curry, managing to find pandan leaf (I'm jealous!) and trying cooking with fenugreek for the first time ever! She was a little underwhelmed with the results - but I think it looks wonderful!Sri Lankan Red Shrimp CurryAnd here is my submission! Fenugreek Poached Fish with Saag AlooFenugreek Poached Fish with Saag AlooThese went straight onto my to-make list! In fact, why haven't I made them already?? Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen sent over these beautiful baked methi muthias fenugreek crackers. She says they are a modified Gujarati recipe - and perfect to satisfy that savoury craving! I utterly agree!Methi Muthias Fenugreek CrackersOur second entry to use sprouted fenugreek is Geetha from The Fragrant Kitchen's Sprouted Fenugreek (Methi) Rice. I am definitely going to try this - it is healthy and sounds absolutely delicious!Sprouted Fenugreek (Methi) RiceGeetha also initally sent me this Methi Dal but as it uses fresh rather than dried fenugreek I couldn't count it as a Think spice entry. Then I thought I'd share it with you anyway, as it is a great dal recipe - and I love dals!Methi DalNext, PG from My Kitchen Stories gives us a luscious Chicken Makkhan - also known as Butter Chicken. It is a rich dish, not too hot - doesn't it sound just wonderful?!Chicken MakkhanRupa, from new blog A Virtual Vegetarian, just made it in time with another Gujarat dish - the impressive Methi dana aur papad ki subzi. She also shares another couple of health benefits of fenugreek - did you know it is highly recommended for diabetics as it aids the absorption of sugar?Methi dana aur papad ki subziThanks to everyone for these wonderful submissions - and thanks to Sunita for allowing me to host this great event! [...]

Scottish Scran 6 - Lentil and Ham Hock Soup

Tue, 07 Oct 2008 20:00:00 +0000

Hello!I'm back! Kittie is officially now in a different kitchen... and just about recovered from the trauma of moving...What a week. In the space of seven days...I've packed up my wee flat and moved into a proper house!I've left the cats with their new owner - happy to report things seem to be going well so far!Three of my good friends have left the country - two to South America, and one to Turkey... have a wonderful time guys, missing you already.My work contract has come to an end - back to the bench for me...My best friend has booked her tickets for a six month traveling expedition - exciting!!... and last, but by no means least, one of my best friends has just got married - congratulations, M&M!So. After all the upheaval, bustle and rush, there is nothing like a huge steaming bowl of broth to sooth and comfort; make the world all seem just a little bit more normal. A soup that's seen me through sore throats and winter days, a student staple and a Christmas treat...Lentil and Ham Hock SoupServes 10-12, depending on the bowl!1 ham hock, preferably smoked2 large onions, roughly chopped3 medium carrots, roughly chopped1 carrot, for the stock1 celery for the stock2 cloves garlic (optional) Left whole, but bashed a bit2 cups red lentils, washed3 sticks celery, roughly chopped6 black pepper corns2 bay leaves1 clovebutter to frysalt to tastePrepare the Stock...Place the hock in a large soup pot. Add one onion, one carrot, one stick of celery and the garlic (if using). Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and clove, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for an hour and a half.Strain the stock, reserving the hock, and discard the veg and spice.Prepare the Base...Heat some butter in your soup pot, then add the rest of the onion, celery and carrot. Fry until softened slightly, then pour in the stock. Stir in the lentils and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are cooked through. Check seasoning after about 10 minutes and adjust as required.While the lentils are cooking, remove as much meat as you can from the hock, and chop into bite-sized pieces.Finish the Soup...Once the lentils are fully cooked, remove the soup from the heat and blitz to desired consistency. Add the hock meat pieces into the soup.Serve!Serve your lentil broth with crusty bread, a grind of black pepper and a sigh of relief.Scottish Word of the Day!Puggled - knackered, tired,Ah'm fair puggled efter moving' yisturday - ah wiz desperate fur mah scratcher by the time ah got in mah new hoose!This is also my entry for the amazing World Food Day event being hosted by Ivy and Val! World Food Day is an event to raise awareness of the problem of hunger in the world and to bring to our attention what we can do about it personally. It is a day to encourage us and our governments to be well informed on the issues and to have a plan of action!!!The event requires participants to make dishes that will feed at least 6 people...We could then lay each dish back to back and have enough food to feed everyone on our street. If more people joined we could feed everyone in our city...our country...the get the picture!!! A conga line of international dishes to feed the world!!!! [...]

RFJ: Sambuca Orange Salmon with Spelt Crackers

Tue, 30 Sep 2008 17:30:00 +0000

Last month Peter won the Royal Foodie Joust with his Halvas, and selected fennel, parsley and dairy for his three ingredients.I loved Peter's choice - and it took me a while to choose what to make, but in the end I decided on an appetiser of home cured salmon, with crackers and a chunky fennel sauce.The salmon I cured with orange juice, sambuca and ground fennel seeds. It was the first time I have done anything like this, and I was really impressed by how easy it was - not to mention how tasty the final product was! I used two skinless salmon fillets, that had been lightly smoked.I served the salmon with spelt crackers topped with parsley salt, and a chunky sauce of fennel, orange zest and yogurt. I was a bit concerned about the yogurt sauce as I'm not a big fan of raw fennel. However, the orange zest tempered the anise beautifully - I was really happy with how the flavours came together.Orange and Fennel Cured SalmonInspired by Pixen's recipe here.2 large fillets of lightly smoked salmon, skinned and deboned1 tbsp fennel seeds1 tbsp black peppercorns2 tbsp coarse sea salt2 tbsp sugarA shot of Sambuca (or any other anise liquor)1 orange, halvedPrepare the Rub...Dry toast the pepper and fennel for a couple of minutes - keep the pan moving, and turn the seeds into a mortar and pestle when they start to smell good!Let cool for a couple of minutes.Bash them up until pretty fine, then add the salt and sugar. Give it a bit of a bash - but don't obliterate the salt entirely - leave some bit chunky!Prepare the Salmon...Wash and dry your salmon thoroughly - removing any wee bones that are left in there.Put the spice rub out onto a flat surface, and coat each fillet well. Give it a bit of a rub to get the flavours going!In a bowl, mix any left over salt mix with the sambuca - and the same quantity of orange juice from one of the orange halves.Lay one fillet out, and top with slices of orange from the other half orange. Lay the other fillet on top.Place into a small food bag, and pour in the orange sambuca mix. Squish out excess air, and tie. Now tightly wrap in clingfilm, place in a bowl in case it leaks! And put something heavy on top. I used my mortar... or pestle... whichever part the base is anyway - it's one of those huge thai stone jobs, so pretty heavy!Cure...Leave for at least 24 hours - I left mine for about 36, though I probably wouldn't recommend much more than 48.Turn every 12 hours or so, replacing the weight when you do.Cured!Remove from the food bag, and wash off the salt mix in cold water. Pat dry with paper towel and use a sharp knife to cut finely across the grain.Parsley Salt5 tbsp coarse sea saltsmall handful parsley leaves1/2 clove garlic, crushedPreheat oven to 140c.Put the garlic and parsley into a mini-blender and blitz til smooth. Scrape into a mortar and pestle, then add the salt. Pound until the salt is fine to medium ground, and the parsley mix is thoroughly incorporated.Tip the mixture onto an oven sheet and spread it out. Put in the oven for 6 minutes, then give it a bit of a stir. Put it back in for another 6 minutes, or until it has dried out, but still green.Allow to cool, then put back into mortar and pestle, and grind.Parsley Salt Crackers Inspired by Helen's recipe here.0.5 cup plain white flour0.5 cup spelt flour1/2 teaspoon baking powderpinch salt25ml olive oilwater to mixparsley salt1 egg, beatenPreheat over to 140c.Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, then mix in the oil. Add enough water to make a dough.Knead for a minute or two, then leave to rest for 15 minutes.Cut the dough in two, then roll one piece out as thin as you can. Poke marks in it with a fork to stop it puffing up. Brush with beaten egg, then sprinkle with parsley salt to taste.Cut into what ever shape you like and lay onto a n[...]

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Goo!

Thu, 25 Sep 2008 14:30:00 +0000

I've got a bit of a story behind these cupcakes!I had some friends round to dinner a few weeks ago and had made some of my 'special' chocolate sauce to go with caramelised bananas and ice cream. However, due to various reasons... (including plastic meltage, and my utter inability to find decent ice cream anywhere!) we decided to go with banoffee pie instead... leaving me with a glut of gooey chocolatey lushness tempting me from the fridge.My special chocolate sauce is incredibly simple, and sounds a little horrific... but I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't like it. It's perfect for a quick dessert on top of ice cream. Or dip pears in it to pretend you're healthy... ;)So, the following day I had some bananas going just past ripe and a pot of chocolate goo. Inspired by Dee's banana loaf, I decided to knock together some cupcakes before I went to the pub to meet some friends. And being the good friend that I am, it would have been churlish not to take along a few for them to sample. (Note, banana and chocolate don't go too well with beer ;) So eat 'em first, drink later!)Anyway, beer drinking tips aside, we were happily sat at the pub and onto our second pint when I remembered about my cupcakes. I handed them out... we had one each... when a guy across the table asked for a taste! As I was feeling slightly sick from all the requisite tasting (see below) I was quite happy to give up mine. Just as well really, as it turns out he has just taken over a nearby cafe and was looking for someone to help out with some real home cooking!So for the last couple of weeks I've been baking up a storm - and have a whole load of stuff to show you. It's been fun - but I can't tell you how tough it is to bake up a whole gooey chocolate cake, then give it away with barely a taste... Well, except from the bowl, of course! ;)Chocolate Banana CupcakesMakes 12 cupcakes!3 ripe bananas - this is not the place for green or hard nanas!1 cup plain white flour0.5 cups wholewheat flour0.5 cup soft brown sugar1 tsp baking powder1 tsp baking soda6 tbsp groundnut oil6 tbsp yogurt1 tbsp honey2 eggs1 tsp vanilla extractpinch saltPreheat oven to 165c.Prepare the Batter...Sift together the flours, baking powder and baking soda, then mix in the salt.Whisk together the oil and sugar, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Smoosh up the bananas with a fork and add to the egg mixture along with the vanilla extract.Add a third of the flour mix, then a third of the yogurt and mix until just moistened. Repeat until flour and yogurt finished!Line muffin tray with cases, and divide the mixture between them.Bake!Bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of one.For the 'frosting'...1 tin condensed milk150g plain chocolate1 tbsp butterPut the condensed milk into a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Gently bring to the boil and cook gently for 5 minutes.Taste a wee bit of the condensed milk to make sure it's ok. Is it? Best check again, just to be sure...Break up the chocolate and add to the milk. Melt it up until you have a gorgeous gooey chocolatey mess.Probably should taste it again - make sure it's chocolatey and gooey enough. It is? Sure?? Go on, check again...Add the butter and stir gently until combined. Have another couple of taste tests. Maybe dip in a strawberry or marshmallow... if you happen to have any lying around...Let it cool a bit, then smear on top of cooled cupcakes.There should be some left to have with ice cream. Or straight from the bowl - it's your call ;)I'm sending these cupcakes to three events - two of them new ones to me:Ben's I Love Baking event, and Fanny's Sugar High Friday!The third is Lore at Culinarty's Original Recipe event! [...]

Scottish Scran 5 - Girdle Scones

Mon, 22 Sep 2008 16:00:00 +0000

After a few days of feeling rather under the weather, I have been comforting myself by cooking up a storm of Scottish comfort food. Mince and tatties, lentil and ham soup, tattie scones... Not a chili in sight for four days - maybe a record for me?!For a morning snack - still emptying those cupboards - I made these girdle scones - also known as drop scones, Scottish pancakes, griddle scones, drapped scones, scotch pancakes... Girdle is a Scots word for griddle - just in case you were wondering!They are one of the first things I ever made myself - and also one of the few non savoury things I remember my mum cooking when I was young. Like me, she's always preferred savoury to sweet. One of the other sweet things was rhubarb tart - the only pud my dad will eat!My favourite way to eat these is hot from the pan, slathered in good butter. Or occasionally with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar... And once in a while, a daub of nutella. Some people like them with jam and cream - but I think they might just be secretly wishing for a baked scone...Girdle scones really are best straight after cooking - and only take minutes to make, so there is no excuse!Check out the rest of my Scottish Scran here!Girdle SconesMade about 20 scones!1 cup self-raising flour1 egg3 tbsp caster sugarmilk to mix, up to 1 cuppinch saltSieve the flour into a mixing bowl and mix in the salt and sugar. Make a well in the flour and crack the egg into it, then start incorporating the flour into the egg. Add the milk little by little until you have a thick batter.Heat a griddle (or frying pan!) to a medium heat and grease with a bit of butter or oil. Add tablespoons of the batter to the pan and cook until bubbles break the surface. This should take less than a minute, but shouldn't start immediately - it might take you a couple of goes to get the temperature just right - it always does for me!Lightly grease the pan between lots.I always have mine warm with butter... but a dab of jam, or lemon and sugar would also make good toppings!Serve warm with a cuppa!Scottish Word of the Day!Ok, so it isn't actually a Scottish word - but here's a quick note on the word Scotch!The word Scotch is actually an English adjective meaning 'of or from Scotland'. It was first recorded in the 16th century, and - despite being an English word - was incorporated into the Scots language in the 17th century,By the early 19th century scotch was rejected by Scottish people as an Anglicised affectation. It is now pretty much obsolete for general use - and is often considered to be patronising and somewhat offensive.*There are still some valid uses of scotch though, i.e. Scotch broth, Scotch whisky, Scotch pie, Scotch eggs... and of course, today's treat - Scotch pancakes... Funny how most of them are food and drink!One more scotch thing... Butterscotch does not originate from Scotland! In this case, scotch comes from the Old French word escocher meaning to cut. So, butterscotch is a sweetie made from butter and usually cut into small pieces!PS. Don't think it's come up before, but I used to study history - including a year of Scottish history! And I thought it would never come in useful... ;)* I take this quote by historian A. J. P. Taylor as a point in case! ;)Some inhabitants of Scotland now call themselves Scots and their affairs Scottish. They are entitled to do so. The English word for both is Scotch, just as we call les français the French and Deutschland Germany. Being English, I use it.Preface to English History 1914–1945***Oh, ok then. I can't leave you with out a real Scottish word of the day... so here's a handful for you to decipher yourself!Since ah've been no weel, ah've been awfy peely-wally an' feelin' fair puggled[...]

Think Spice: Fenugreek Poached Fish with Saag Aloo

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 13:00:00 +0000

First things first...Yes, ok, so I haven't been around much this last week or so: I'm woefully slow in my posting, and my google reader ridicules me everytime I turn the computer on, groaning under the weight of unread posts... I have been in the kitchen (a lot!!) but have been sorely limited in non-work pc time.So apologies if I haven't been by as much as usual - I promise I'll sort it out soon!I have still been managing to cook - and this post is my entry for this month's Think Spice... this month being hosted by... me!I chose fenugreek as the spice, either in seed form or as dried leaves. I ended up using both forms in this dish - although the seeds were my main use.Unusually for me, I have kept the heat in this dish to a minimum - I didn't want to overpower the subtle flavours in the fish. And I was really pleased with the result. It was spicy - but in a flavourful way rather than hot. The saag aloo may not be authentic, but its main ingredients are spinach an potato - so I figured it deserved the name! There was quite a bit of gravy at the end - next time I would serve this with some lovely naan bread to soak up all the flavour. As it is I just had to drink it out the bowl... ;)Only 10 days left to get your fenugreek-spiced dishes to me - come on peeps, get cooking!Fenugreek Poached Fish with Saag AlooServes 2 - with leftovers!For the Fish and Broth...1.5 tsp fenugreek seeds1 tsp fennel seeds1/4 tsp turmeric1/4 tsp salt350ml water100ml milk2 fillets firm white fish - I used pollockFor the Saag Aloo...1 tsp black mustard seeds1 large pinch dried fenugreek leaves1.5 tsp ground cumin1.5 tsp ground coriander0.5 tsp turmeric0.5 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped1 large clove garlic, crushed1 large onion, finely chopped1 tbsp grated ginger1 bunch spinach, washed, destalked and roughly chopped4 plum tomatoes, diced (large)4 medium potatoes, diced (large)2 tbsp gheePrepare the Broth...In a dry pan, toast the fenugreek seeds for 3/4 minutes until golden brown. Transfer them to a mortar and pestle and give them a bit of a bash. Warning - these little legumes are really hard - so just try to break them up a bit, don't worry about grinding them to powder.Put the bashed fenugreek and the fennel seeds in a pan, then pour over the water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.Prepare the Saag Aloo...Heat the ghee over a low to medium heat and add the mustard seeds. When the start to pop add the onions and dried fenugreek leaves. Fry gently until translucent, don't allow to brown.Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute or so before adding the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli.Add the diced potato to the mix, and top up with cold water to about half way up the potato. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring a couple of times through out.Prepare the fish while the potatoes are cooking...Cook the Fish...Once the broth is cool, strain through a fine sieve and discard the seeds. Add the milk, salt and turmeric. Lay the fish fillets in the broth - they should be totally submerged - otherwise top up with water.Gently bring the broth to the boil. As soon as it reaches the boil, cover and turn off the heat. Leave in the broth for 5-10 minutes - until fish is cooked through (this will depend on how thick the fish is).Finish the Saag Aloo...Add the tomatoes and chopped spinach to the potato mix and stir well. Cover the pan, and cook for another 5/10 minutes - until the potatoes are cooked through, the spinach is completely wilted and the tomatoes are softened.Depending on how much water is released by the tomatoes and spinach you may want to remove the lid for the last few mi[...]

The British 100...

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 11:30:00 +0000

I've been a helluva busy this week, and feeling a bit under the weather, so I'm a bit short on posts. Scratch that - I have loads of posts... but neither the time or energy to write them up properly! I hope to have a proper food post to you tomorrow or the next day - watch this space...So in the meantime - just so you know I haven't forgotten you, here is the my British 100, as compiled by Helen of Food Stories...And here's the rules... 1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.4) Link back to Food Stories, if you would be so kind. 1. Grey squirrel 2. Steak and kidney pie3. Bubble and squeak 4. Spotted dick 5. Hot cross buns6. Laver bread7. Toad in the hole 8. Shepherds pie AND cottage pie 9. Scotch egg 10. Parkin 11. Welsh rarebit12. Jellied eels 13. Stilton 14. Marmite 15. Ploughman’s lunch 16. Cucumber sandwiches 17. Coronation chicken 18. Gloucester old spot (but not a whole one ;)19. Cornish pasty 20. Samphire 21. Mince pies22. Winkles23. Salad cream 24. Malt loaf 25. Haggis 26. Beans on toast 27. Cornish clotted cream tea28. Pickled egg (bleurgh! But y'know, never say never ;)29. Pork scratchings30. Pork pie 31. Black pudding 32. Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s relish33. Earl grey tea34. Elvers - would love to try, even though they look well weird!!35. HP Sauce - but of course! Especially with square sausage... 36. Potted shrimps 37. Stinking bishop - yum!38. Elderflower cordial 39. Pea and ham soup 40. Aberdeen Angus Beef 41. Lemon posset - my granny used to make me this when I was ill!42. Guinness 43. Cumberland sausage44. Native oysters - I know - shocking, isn't it! 45. A ‘full English’ - and a full Scottish!46. Cockles47. Faggots48. Eccles cake49. Potted Cromer crab 50. Trifle51. Stargazy pie52. English mustard 53. Christmas pudding 54. Cullen skink - and a recipe will be coming soon!55. Liver and bacon with onions56. Wood pigeon 57. Branston pickle 58. Oxtail soup 59. Piccalilli 66. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (with gravy)67. Pickled onions - I love drinking the pickled onion vinegar - does that make me weird? 68. Cock-a-leekie soup 69. Rabbit and Hare70. Bread sauce 71. Cauliflower cheese 72. Crumpets73. Rice pudding 74. Bread and butter pudding 75. Bakewell tart 76. Kendall mint cake77. Summer pudding 78. Lancashire hot pot79. Beef Wellington 80. Eton mess81. Neeps and tatties 82. Pimms 83. Scampi 84. Mint sauce 85. English strawberries and cream86. Isle of Wight garlic87. Mutton 88. Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce89. Angels on horseback90. Omelette Arnold Bennett - I really must make this sometime!91. Devilled kidneys92. Partridge and pheasant93. Stew and dumplings 94. Arbroath smokies 95. Oyster loaves96. Sloe gin 97. Damson jam 98. Soda bread99. Quince jelly100. Afternoon tea at the RitzOk, so I got 78 out of 100 - better than my VGT score! [...]

Spicy Marinated Salmon with Raw Bean Salad

Fri, 12 Sep 2008 11:30:00 +0000

Guess what??? I'm moving house soon, having finally managed to lease my place out! I'm happy in some ways, but sad in others - I've had many good times in my wee flat and am sorry to leave it. Even worse, I will no longer be Kittens in the Kitchen... as the cats can't come with me to my new place.* So I guess I'll just need to be Kittie in a Different Kitchen...But on the positive side, I'm moving for a very good reason (which I'll tell you all about very soon) - and now that I'm moving out, I know that my plans are actually starting to come together!Anyway, less of the cryptic ramblings and onto the food!I have about 3 weeks left in my flat - which means three weeks to run down the store cupboard and freezer - I won't be able to take much with me. So I think it is time for another Store Cupboard Challenge! It is something I had been thinking about doing anyway, and seems to be a bit of a theme in the food blogosphere at the minute, what with Judy's clean out, and Heather's purge...I quite like raiding the pantry and freezer - it makes me feel like I'm on an extended episode of Ready, Steady, Cook! So I started off with this dish - using up some beans and tomatoes from the fridge, 2 almost empty packs of cous cous from the cupboard, and a couple fillets of salmon that I got for a end of day bargain price of £1.20!The beans and tomatoes are deliberately all but raw. If you don't fancy raw beans feel free to give them a bit of a steam before adding them - I really fancied the crunch factor of keeping them raw though.Try eating it hot from the pan - or cold the next day for lunch!Spicy Marinated Salmon with Raw Bean Cous CousI haven't really put specific quantities - add more or less cous cous to pad it out - or more veg to up the health factor! 150g salmon fillet1 tsp sesame oil1 tsp hot sauce2 tbsp light soy sauceJuice of 1 lime1 tbsp honey1 clove crushed garlic12 grated gingercous cousstock3 large tomatoes, dicedolive oilsalt and pepper to tasteVarious beans, I used dwarf and sugar snap, cut into bitesize pieces!Prepare the Salmon...Chop the salmon into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Mix together the sesame oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and honey and pour over the salmon. Mix well, cover and refridgerate for an hour or two.Prepare the Cous Cous...Toast the cous cous for a couple of minutes in a dry pan, until it turns golden. Remove into a bowl and drizzle over about a tablespoonful of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Remember the stock is saltly too, don't over season! Use your fingers to mix the olive oil into the cous cous - get it all covered and make sure there are no lumps! Add hot stock onto the cous cous, until it is just covered. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.This won't actually cook the cous cous thoroughly - we're going to add more stock in a bit if we need to. I find doing it this way helps make it fluffy - not soggy!After the 10 minutes are up, fluff the cous cous well and add the tomatoes and beans.Cook...Heat some olive oil in a hot wok. Drain off the excess marinade from the salmon and add the fish to the pan. Cook quickly over a hot heat so the outside gets a bit of a crust, leaving the inside not quite cooked. Don't worry if some of the chunks break up, it's all part of the charm!Remove the salmon to a bowl.In the same wok heat a spot more oil add the ginger and garlic and cook out for a couple of minute. Throw in the cous cous mix and fry for a couple of minutes, letting the cous cous pick up all the flavours from the salmon. If the cous cous is still al dente, add a bit more stock (remember the tomatoes will release some juices which will contin[...]

Scottish Scran 4 - Mum's Steak Pie

Tue, 09 Sep 2008 10:30:00 +0000

Well, it's definitely Autumn. It's sunny today, but there is a bite to the air. My flip flops aren't quite finished with - tucked under the bed, resolutely hoping for an Indian summer. But the boots are back, cosy cardie on, and maybe a light scarf to keep the chill off my neck in the evening. And my final festival of the summer has just been cancelled as the site is water-logged... ya boo hiss, rain.As with every change of the seasons, the end of summer means a change to how we eat - a cold salad just isn't as appealing when the central heating is on. And though I already miss summer (or the summer that wasn't!), there is something so comforting about cold weather food that I maybe don't feel so blue after all!So to celebrate the change in the seasons, here is the fourth Scottish Scran dish - a warm comforting Steak Pie.Not so dissimilar from most typical British pies, the Scottish steak pie is traditionally topped with puff pastry, and has no base crust. It also contains beef sausages - I was distressed as a child to have a steak pie in England and to find out there were no sausages in!! As well as allowing the pie to stretch further, the addition of sausages undoubtedly adds flavour to the finished pie.Steak pie is an emotive dish for me. In Scotland, Hogmanay/ New Year is traditionally as big a deal - if not bigger - than Christmas! So after bringing in the bells, singing Auld Lang Syne, and doing our first-footing on Hogmanay, we'd look forward to our New Year's Day celebrations. Hair of the dog and a steak pie dinner - what better way to start the year?!And more than this, steak pie was a regular Sunday dinner, everyone round the table together, and as often as not a grand-parent or two down for the afternoon. For a time, on Sundays, my dad played doms - the grand prize, a family sized steak pie. He hardly ever won...!And I can tell you one thing that steak pie isn't. It isn't a bowl of meat stew, with a square of separately cooked puff pastry on top. That is a travesty, and should be removed from any (probably less than mediocre) pub menu instantly. My daddy never stood for it, and neither will I.There are two camps of thought on steak pie pastry: Those who like the middle bit of the pastry, where it's a bit stodgy and all the gravy has soaked into the crust (me and my dad); and those who like the dry flaky pastry at the edges (my mum and sister). An even family split like this works very well, with minimal fighting, and no leftovers. I dread to think what would happen to a family whose steak pie crust preference was unbalanced. I'm quite sure there would be blood loss, possible divorce, and at the very least wasted steak pie.Steak pies are generally bought at the butcher - and can be bought in varying sizes - through individual portions to huge family sized ones. Every family will have their favourite steak pie butcher - who may or may not be the butcher used for buying meat. The popular butcher can have huge queues - when I was there when I got this photo, the queue was out the door and past the shop front outside. At New Year it's best to order your pie in advance - they'll be well sold out by hogmanay!Steak Pies!My mum often used to make her steak pies herself. This involves having to order the skirt of beef from the butcher. It's much easier to get skirt in England - my guess is that it's all used to make the butcher's steak pies in Scotland! Not quite so easy to get beef sausages, but not too difficult... though I still dont' think they're the same... This is one recipe I would never mess with - in fact, despite it's simplicity, I still called my mum tw[...]

Cod-Gette Bites! Or What to do With Leftovers When You're Bored...

Thu, 04 Sep 2008 11:30:00 +0000

This is boredom food. I wasn't even really hungry, having had a big lunch and a snack at the pub on the way home. But I looked in the fridge and noticed a yellow courgette (zucchini!) left over from the Courgette and Lemon Spaghetti, I did for T&T, and a bowl of spicy cod and prawn mousse left over from the trilogy of seafood I prepared for the Royal Foodie Joust last month*. I had a couple of friends coming to share a few glasses of wine, so decided to cook up something random, just for something to do!

Spicy Cod-Gette Bites!

(image) It isn't much of a recipe, so I'll just tell you what I did...

I sliced the courgette into thickish slices, and brushed each one with olive oil. Then I griddled them until just cooked - but still very al dente - no soggy courgette allowed please people! Whilst the first side was cooking, I ground some red chilli flakes and sprinkled some sea salt on the other side.

Meanwhile I shaped spoonfuls of the cod mixture into balls, dipped each one into beaten egg, before coating with panko. I deep-fried them for 5/6 minutes each in moderately hot oil. It took me a couple of goes to get the oil heat/time ratio - the first one was raw in the middle still. Next time I would probably make them a bit smaller and cook them for slightly less time.

Drain on paper towel.

Right, so take one of the cooked courgette slices and spread with some sambal. I used sambal brandal - but be warned it is pretty hot! I like it that way - but if you would prefer it less burny (bah), you could try some chili jam or even sweet chilli sauce here.

Place the spicy cod ball on top - and it's ready to go!

* No, it hadn't been in my fridge for a month - this is just a tardy post :P(image)

My Turn! Think Spice... Think.... Fenugreek!

Tue, 02 Sep 2008 12:30:00 +0000

Oooo - exciting for me - I'm hosting my very first food event!Well, technically it isn't my food event, Think Spice... is the brain child of the wonderful Sunita of Sunita's World. But I do get to choose the spice... and do the round up... so I think maybe this month it is mine, just a little!*The spice I have chosen for this month's entry is fenugreek. Also known as methi, fenugreek is a common spice in Indian cooking - and one of the oldest medicinal spices. It was used by the ancient Egyptians for embalming - but I really would prefer no entries of that order!Fenugreek seeds can be bitter, and should be roasted before grinding to deepen the flavour and knock off the bitter edge. The flavour is powerful and bittersweet - and can be used in sweet as well as savoury dishes. (Apparently it is the main ingredient in imitation maple syrup, though I can't vouch for that one myself!) It is also a popular addition to baked goods.Healthwise, fenugreek is packed full of protein - it's actually a legume as well as a spice! It's a digestive aid, and often taken by breast-feeding women to encourage milk production. And speaking of breasts - apparently it is also taken as a breast enlarger (sorry guys!!) and there are links to it actually working to prevent breast cancer!Oh yes, and it is known to ease menstrual cramps and act as an aphrodisiac!! Common people, what are you waiting for??I've been using fenugreek for years when creating curries - but it has only been in the last year or so that I have come to appreciate its individual flavour, and allowed it to take more of a front seat in my cooking. Now I admit - my reasons for choosing fenugreek are twofold. First of all, I want to bring this lovely spice some more publicity... but secondly... and more sneakily... I really want to see more recipes using fenugreek - and can't wait to see the round up!Right, so here we go with the rules!Post your fenugreek recipe on your blog before the 28th September. Ideally the fenugreek with be a dominant flavour in the recipe - not just part of a blend!You can use fenugreek seeds, ground fenugreek or dried fenugreek leaves in your dish.Include a link back to this post.Email me your entry with your name, a picture,if any (250 pixels wide, height does not matter) of your dish and the permalink of your recipe by or before the announced deadline to kittieskitchen [at] googlemail [dot]com.Non -Bloggers are also welcome to join in the fun. E-mail me your entry with a picture to kittieskitchen [at] googlemail [dot]comThe round ups will be posted during the first week of October.Can't wait to see your entries!* I do actually have a food event in mind that would be all mine! And obviously fabulous! So as long as this doesn't put me off... watch this space :) [...]

Pretending It's Summer... Fusilli with Macerated Tomatoes & Garlic

Mon, 01 Sep 2008 16:00:00 +0000


It's just been so warm out there that I can't bear to put the oven on. I've been living on cold beer, salad and ice-cream. Even the thought of turning on the hob bring me out in a sweat.

Nah, not really...

Though we did have a pretty nice day on Saturday - sat out on the beach and didn't even have to put on our sweaters until 7pm! (Actually it was really nice - I even went for a swim!) But that's not the point. When I made this last week, we had barely had a glimmer of sun in weeks (ish...) So I thought I would attempt to bring some sunshine into our lives with this no-cook pasta sauce.

And it worked. It tasted like greenhouses, gardens and lazy bees*... the noise of lawnmowers over the way, and the bbq two doors down. And just so long as I turned up the central heating and put on my SAD light, I was almost able to persuade myself that it was summer after all...

Fusilli with Macerated Tomatoes & Garlic

(image) Feeds 4...
  • 500g fusilli
  • 100g emmental, finely grated
  • 12 large tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed (reduce this if you have a date later ;)
  • handful greek basil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put all the ingredients, except the pasta together. Mix well and leave for a while - ideally about an hour!

Cook the pasta according to the packet. Add the tomato mix to the pasta and toss to mix well.

Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

Serve with a cold beer, in a bikini!

* no, not actually.

Another pasta dish for Presto Pasta Night! This week being hosted by Abby of Eat the Right Stuff!


The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred

Sat, 30 Aug 2008 12:30:00 +0000

I've seen this list popping up all over the the place... so decided you could have this whilst I work on Scottish Scran 4. (Which implies I am in the middle of working on it not, which isn't entirely correct. Although at least I have now decided what I'm going to make for it!)It's been a busy week!Anyway Andrew over at Very Good Taste has put together a list of the foods he thinks every good omnivore should try at least once. The deal is, you go through it and highlight what you've tried, what you haven't, and what you never would!I have 68% - which I am gutted about! I consider myself fairly adventurous - and am determine to improve my score. The only thing I wouldn't eat is fugu. I mean why bother? YOU MIGHT DIE!!! Mind you - one of the things on my haven't tried list is PJ&J sandwich - and I've been meaning to rectify that for a while now. I know it was some time ago - but do you remember I wrote a post about saving the world by eating PB&J? Every time you choose to eat a plant-based sarnie instead of meat you do actually make a difference! Not that i'm likely to give up meat - but it has made me think more about the envirnmental impact of my food choices.But anyway, back to the list!Here’s what to do: 1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred 1. Venison2. Nettle tea3. Huevos rancheros (though I don't know why!) 4. Steak tartare (Once...)5. Crocodile6. Black pudding7. Cheese fondue8. Carp9. Borscht (When I was working in Warsaw!) 10. Baba ghanoush (Love aubergine, not so sure about this)11. Calamari (yum yum YUM!)12. Pho13. PB&J sandwich (Though I have been meaning to!!)14. Aloo gobi 15. Hot dog from a street cart16. Epoisses (would love to try!) 17. Black truffle 18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (I once got really ill on berry wine... :-S)19. Steamed pork buns20. Pistachio ice cream 21. Heirloom tomatoes 22. Fresh wild berries 23. Foie gras 24. Rice and beans25. Brawn or Head Cheese (Head cheese? HEAD CHEESE? Well, I suppose I'd try it...)26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper27. Dulce de leche28. Oysters29. Baklava30. Bagna cauda (mmmm - sounds fab!)31. Wasabi peas32. Clam Chowder in Soudough Bowl33. Salted Lassi34. Sauerkraut35. Root beer float36. Cognac with a Fat Cigar37. Clotted Cream Tea 38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O39. Gumbo 40. Oxtail41. Curried goat 42. Whole insects (I might try. Maybe.)43. Phaal44. Goat’s milk 45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more46. Fugu (things that might kill me? Yeah, probably not...)47. Chicken tikka masala (Us Scots invented it, dontcha know!)48. Eel49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut50. Sea urchin51. Prickly pear (Just the juice!)52. Umeboshi53. Abalone54. Paneer55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal 56. Spaetzle57. Dirty gin martini 58. Beer above 8% ABV 59. Poutine60. Carob chips61. S’mores62. Sweetbreads63. kaolin (I have no idea what this is!)64. Currywurst (tried this last year - yummy!)65. Durian66. Frogs’ legs (Only once, but I loved them!)67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake68. Haggis (durrrrr... ;)69. Fried plantain (but I'm allergic :( )70. Chitterlings or andouillette71. Gazpacho72. Caviar and blini73. Louche absinthe (yes, and just the memory makes me feel sick...)74. Gjetost or brunost75. Roadkill (Maybe, I suppose... but only if it was a deer or something - wouldn't scrape up a rabbit ;)76. Baijiu77. Hostess Fr[...]

RFJ: Double-Dipped Ginger & Orange Oaty Bites

Thu, 28 Aug 2008 12:30:00 +0000

I won, I won, I won! :DAnd this morning I got my apron in the post! No pics of me in it as yet (and definitely not in the Greek style!) but I'll see what I can rustle up over the weekend!The Royal Foodie Joust is a monthly event hosted by Jenn the Leftover Queen. Last month the selected ingredients were Sesame, Seafood and Cilantro - and my submission was voted top - an incredible honour.As well as the prize of an apron, I was allowed to select the three ingredients to be used for the following month's event. I chose whole grains, ginger and citrus.Check out all the submissions here - and if you have a food blog, be sure to vote next week!And here is my submission! Double-Dipped Ginger & Orange Oat Cookies1 orange, juice and zest2 tbsp runny honey2 cups rolled oats2 cups wholemeal flour2 cups sugar225g butter0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda1 tsp baking powder1 tsp ground ginger75g crystalised ginger, chopped100g plain chocolateHeat your oven to 175c.Prepare the Cookies...Mix together the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger and chopped crystalised ginger.In a pan, melt the butter with the honey, orange zest and juice. Once completely melted, add the bicarbonate of soda, stir to mix in, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix well - the mixture should be crumbly, but hold form when squeezed.I wanted to make small bites rather than huge cookies, so I rolled these into small balls about an inch an a half across. I put them on a lightly greased baking sheet and pressed to flatten slightly. Make sure you leave room for them to spread!Bake the Cookies...Pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes - do not allow to colour too much!Take them out of the oven and allow to cool before attempting to move them.Dip the Cookies...Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in whatever manner you see fit. (Not by chucking it in a pan over direct heat. Trust me - this never works!)Once the cookies are cooled, dip their bases into the chocolate. Drip off the excess and put onto a flat surface. Put into the fridge until set.I wasn't happy by the amount of chocolate that clung to my cookies - so I repeated this step - hence double-dipped!Serve with a good strong coffee. Not for children! [...]

Nice n' Spicy, Easy Peasy, Leftovers Curry!

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 09:30:00 +0000

I was looking for a space in my bulging freezer the other day when I found a container of dark roast turkey meat - left over from Christmas!!I had been planning on getting a take out curry that night - but figured with the meat cooked, I could knock one up in the time it would take to deliver. With the added bonus that I could make it exactly how I wanted it and keep it as healthy as possible!It turned out really really good. The addition of tamarind and fenugreek added a special edge to the other spices. And because the meat was already roasted, it soaked up the gravy and took on a lot of flavour. Best of all - it was ready in 20 minutes!So here we have it, my nice n' spicy, super-speedy, easy-peasy leftover curry!Leftover Roast Dinner CurryOk, so maybe not the prettiest picture in the world - but it tasted goooooood. And isn't that the important thing?? ;)1 tsp fenugreek leaves1 tsp black mustard seeds3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed1 tsp fennel seeds3 dried red chillies, roughly torn up1/2 tsp turmeric1 tsp chili powder1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp ground coriander1 onion, finely chopped2 cloves garlic, crushed1" piece ginger, finely grated1 tin chopped tomatoes1 tbsp tamarind paste, mixed with 300 ml waterleft over roast turkey or chickenghee or oil to frysalt to tasteHeat ghee in a heavy-based saucepanAdd all the seeds and the dried chillies and fry for a minute or two until they smell really good! Add the onion, garlic, ginger and fry for another couple of minutes.Chuck in the other spices, tomatoes, tamarind water and salt and mix well. Put in the meat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it starts to reduce too much, cover until ready (or add more water ;)Serve with rice and a smile!Not only is this an original recipe - but it's an original recipe conceived in about 3 minutes! So I reckon it fits the bill for Lore's Original Recipes event!Check out the last round up, great stuff Lore! [...]

More noodley goodness: Orange & Ginger Soba Noodles

Fri, 22 Aug 2008 11:30:00 +0000

I found this recipe a while back, on my first visit to the beautiful vegetarian Indian food blog, Saffron Trail. And despite never having tasted it, I got a real craving for it a couple of days ago!It's basically a noodle dish with a nice bit of steamed veg... and a gorgeous orangey, gingery, peanut butter dressing! Yum. I mixed the dressing up, and I could have probably eaten the lot of it with a spoon! (Peanut butter soup!!) I think this dressing would go amazingly well as a dipping sauce for chicken too.While the original recipe calls for smooth peanut butter, I only had crunchy at home. While I probably will try it with smooth when I get a chance, I really liked the extra texture that the crunchy peanut butter added.This is a great dish, quick and relatively healthy. I made up a batch in the evening and had it for dinner, then took the leftovers to work the next day. You must do this!!! It was even better on day 2!Anyway, happy Friday everyone! Long weekend for me due to a public holiday... to celebrate I'm heading up to Notting Hill Carnival! Cross your fingers for some sun!Orange & Ginger Soba NoodlesServes 4...3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil 3 tbsp soy sauce 1 tbsp grated ginger Juice and zest of one orange 1 tsp red chilli powder250g soba noodles6 Runner beans, cleaned and thinly sliced3 carrots, ribbonedPrepare the Dressing...Whisk together all the ingredients except the noodles and veg - taste and adjust seasoning or acidity - I added a dash more orange juice and another dash of soy. Set aside.Prepare the Noodles...Cook noodles according to packet - probably 5/6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.Prepare the Veg...We want these to be super lightly steamed - the crunch of the carrot ribbons go so well with the silky noodles! So maybe 3 minutes for the beans, and just a couple of minutes for the carrots.Chuck it All Together!If you want to eat this warm, heat the noodles by pouring boiling water over them. Mix together the veg and noodles; give the dressing a last whisk, then pour it over the top.Mix through so that all the noodles are coated in the dressing.If you fancy a faff, decorate with some raw carrot ribbons and orange segments. Or not!Either way, tuck in, slurp it up, and wonder why you've never tasted gingery orange peanut butter before... Enjoy!Another Friday trio!This week I'm going to send this over to Ruth at Once Upon a Feast for Presto Pasta Night! Though I think I'm early - at time of writing the last round up hadn't even been posted!Its near the end of the month, so a cheap dinner is even more appreciated than usual. And that's why I'm going to send this to Frugal Fridays! Even taking into account that I used posh organic soba... this would feed 4 for about £4 - or ~ $8!And finally, this is my second submission to Ruth's Bookmarked Recipes event. Check out the round up on Monday! [...]

Scottish Scran 3 - Trout in Oatmeal

Wed, 20 Aug 2008 11:30:00 +0000

Well, I promised you a trooty affair for the third instalment of Scottish Scran... and here it is... Trout in Oatmeal! Trout always reminds me of my childhood in Alloa. My poppy (grandad!) used to go out fly fishing for trout down to the River Devon; many a morning I'd come down the stairs bleary-eyed to be started awake by the sight of two or three specimen waiting in the sink to be cleaned. (And on a couple of occasions, a bunny that he had managed to do a trade for if he'd got a good haul that day!)Now, I look back and wish I had that sort of produce available to me now... but at the time I wasn't a huge trout fan - only really loving it in fish pie. I think maybe it was just a bit too strongly flavoured for my young palette - definitely not the case now.Though I have cooked with trout many times since then - this was the first time I'd tried my hand at this very simple, but very tasty Scottish dish. Trout fillets are coated in oatmeal before being fried until crunchy, then served with parsley lemon butter.I decided to dish it it with a spring onion potato cake, some lightly steamed, fine sliced runner beans, and a couple of oven roasted tomatoes.And, just for a little something a little different, here's an old children's song, originally written in the 1950s by Sandy Thomas Ross in a book called Bairnsangs (i.e. Children's Songs!)The Auld TrootThe auld broon troot lay unner a stane, Unner a stane lay he, An he thocht o' the wund, An he thocht o' the rain, An the troot that he uist tae be. A'm a gey auld troot, said he tae hissel, A gey auld troot, said he, An there's mony a queer-like Tale A cuid tell O' the things that hae happened tae me. They wee-hafflin trooties are aa verra smart, They're aa verra smert, said he, They ken aa the rules O' the gemm aff by hairt, An they're no aften catched, A'll agree. They're thinkin A'm auld an they're thinkin A'm duin, They're thinkin A'm duin, said he, They're thinkin A'm no Worth the flirt o' a fin Or the blink o' a bonnie black ee. [...]