Tag Archives: Rice

Indian-Inspired Kerala Stir-Fried Beef and Rice

Beef Stir-Fry (9069)The other day I posted one of my favourite entries in C&T on my Facebook page. It was an assignment for a Blogging University course (which has now ended) that included a quote. I remember not knowing what quote to choose, but being a creature of habit, and thus feeling like a hobbit most of the time, I decided to go for one from Tolkien’s masterpieces. I got loads of positive feedback for that piece and the recipe I included in it is one that I make again and again. I’m sure you’ll agree that a walnut and banana loaf cake is one of the most comforting bakes around. That and a scrumptious cup of thick hot chocolate.

So you won’t find many recipes on this blog that venture too much out of my comfort zone. C&T started out, and still is I think, a place to share what I cook at home, primarily in a small kitchen, as the ones I had back in the UK. Now I have a somewhat larger room to play in. I am lucky and I like the space, though it wasn’t easy to adjust to it.

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Country Captain Chicken with Rice

Country Captain Chicken with Basmati Rice (9964)

I’m sure that summer’s officially here, one, because it’s almost unbearably hot, and two, because I buy chicken by the bucket, or whatever expression you might choose to put instead. There are tonnes of reasons for which this happens. The first one that comes to mind is that it makes a perfect meal for when I have people over for supper. So I keep various chicken pieces in the freezer at once. This past week I went to the butcher twice; they were on my list for both trips, simply because I had guests last Saturday and I ran out of chicken breasts. As I must have mentioned somewhere before on C&T but I must do so again I would rather have the dark meat bits. The meat next to the bones is generally more tender and juicy. However lately, since the turn in the weather, I much prefer grilling or pan-frying a marinated chicken breast. The marinade bit is most important. It’s amazing what some extra virgin olive oil together with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper does to a piece of meat, and to vegetables! Place the meat in a dish, marinate, cover with cling film in the fridge for a couple of hours. Grill, serve with a simple salad and voila, you have a meal. Right there.

This recipe is a little different, in that you don’t even need a grill pan and there’s no marinade prep but it’s easy. I like it because it resembles a curry without the extra spice. It comes in handy when you know you will feed a group of people who undoubtedly have various likes and dislikes, or even allergies and/or intolerances. As months go by I am often finding myself in this predicament, which can be a headache on one hand, but a positive thing for me, meaning I’m reconnecting with people. It’s been almost a year now since I moved back from Surrey. Unbelievable.

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Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken (7942)

These past few days have been good. The clearing process of our extra bedroom in preparation for our very special guest next month is almost in full swing. I say almost because it’s really kind of stop-and-go. Tuesday was my most productive day so far. I cleaned, cleared, swept, mopped, dusted and my vanity area now smells of perfume – in the bad sense though! I was so tired by the end of the day as I am right now after an intense baking and photography session that I broke a perfume bottle. It flew right across the furniture, over my head and onto the floor. Boo. Glad to say it wasn’t anything expensive but it was a gift and still I was a bit upset. Those bottles are resilient though – I’m truly impressed. I don’t know anything about their manufacturing process but the bottle just cracked in half. There was a minimal amount of glass shards in the end so there were no unfortunate accidents, thank goodness. However the smell…woah…it has been making me dizzy and no amount of cleaner has made the smell dissipate. It’s still there and still going strong. How my insides felt this morning as I woke up I really cannot describe.

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Aubergine Chermoula

Aubergine Chermoula (9562)

Thank goodness and everything or anyone you and I might believe in, Christmas came and went without a hitch. I promised myself I wouldn’t worry too much about it but in reality J and I spent the best part of the week before feeling sick about the whole thing. At one point I even thought I had some sort of stomach ulcer. Part of it was my fault I’m sure – but looking back I cannot see what was all the fuss about the cooking, since I spent two days prepping everything beforehand. But you see, it was not all about the cooking. Anyhoooo, everything turned out just fine.

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Warm Rice Salad with Halloumi

Warm Rice Salad with Halloumi (6576)

I have a recurring dream. A warm Spring evening, a quiet beach, clear blue sea, a deckchair, plenty of fresh ice cold water and a cocktail. Nothing big really. Just a little peace and quiet. J says “in your dreams” and he’s right: the image will stay there though – at least for the time being. Of course the scene would not be complete without something good to eat.

Recreating the dream is difficult, especially when you’re living in a one bedroom flat miles away from the water, but cooking an easy lunch takes no more than thirty minutes. I tend to eat this sort of meal when I am alone, but lately I have been making this quite frequently. There are loads of good things to say about a salad: one, you can include/exclude any ingredient you like; two, you don’t really need to go to the shops for one specific item, and three, you can easily increase the quantities according to the number of people you want to feed. At this point you will probably protest: does one really have halloumi as a stand-by? Not usually no, but I must admit I do buy it often. As well as its salty taste, it doesn’t melt in a hot pan. Don’t think about adding it to a pizza instead of mozzarella then, but it found a place here, and it is certainly well-deserved.

Serves 2-4

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups cold water
  • around 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional, but I love the colour)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 6 chestnut mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 100g fresh spinach, washed and left whole
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 large vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 150g Cypriot halloumi, cubed
  • juice of half a small lemon

Wash the rice underneath cold running water until the water is clear. (Another option would be to put the rice in a pan and add around a tablespoon of vegetable oil and let the rice heat up while stirring it. Then you can add the water as usual.) Place the rice in a pan, cover it with the cold water, add the turmeric, put it on the hob on medium heat. When it starts to bubble away, decrease the heat to minimum (if using a gas cooker) and let it absorb all the water till it is tender. If using an electric cooker like me, switch off the ring on which you are cooking the rice, and let the rice cook by absorption.

Heat a large shallow pan, pour in the olive oil, and tip in the garlic, spring onions and garam masala. You can substitute this with mixed spice if you wish. After a couple of minutes add the chesnut mushrooms and spinach, salt and pepper, and cover the pan to let the spinach wilt. I don’t like to cook the mushrooms too much, but this is totally up to you. When the spinach has drastically decreased in volume, add the tomatoes and the halloumi. Stir everything together and switch the heat off.

When the rice is completely cooked, fluff it with a fork. Add it to the salad mixture, give everything a good mix, add the lemon juice, taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Serve either immediately, or take it with you to the beach, or to the garden with a book and a glass of white…It’s your choice.

If you want to bulk up the recipe, you could add cooked chickpeas to the lot.

Enjoy!

Rob x

Roast veggies

Baked-Summer-Vegatables-(5953)

I have to admit I do find it hard sometimes to come up with good veggie dishes. Not out of any lack of love for them; I enjoy shopping at the market stall and often buy more than I need. Typical example: I bought four lovely pomegranates around three weeks ago, just because I didn’t have them in ages. Also they bring such lovely childhood memories of my grandpa that I couldn’t help myself. After five days staring at me from the bowl, the beauties were begging me to eat them. Instead I painstakingly pulled all the seeds out and placed them in a container in the fridge. Did I eat them? No. I had to throw them all away. I won’t tell you the reason why. Shame on me and what a waste! End of confession.

I love roasting things though…food I mean. Roasting a chicken is easy; doing the same with vegetables is even easier and the cooking time is much shorter. The first few times I did this I made the mistake of cutting the veggies into smallish chunks. The result was a big veggie mush. Not nice.

What I do now is this. I cut them into larger pieces, season them with pepper and just a little bit of salt (not too much because I don’t want them to lose too much of their water), dried thyme or any herb of your choice really and plenty of olive oil (not extra virgin though), pop them in the oven for around 30 mins at 180ºC. I like a mix of mushrooms, red or white onions or both, potatoes, aubergines and courgettes. But really it can be done with anything you like. You can serve them with any meat or fish, or even alone with some rice or bread. I make sure to add some chilli then for extra heat. So easy!

Enjoy!

Rob x

Stir-fry

Pork-Stir-Fry-(5244)We’re finally getting a taste of summer here in Surrey and just like that, I don’t feel like spending loads of time in the kitchen. We got so little sunshine these past few months. So staying indoors all day is definitely *not* an option. That doesn’t mean no cooking obviously, but realistically it’s too hot for lengthy meals. The shorter the time, the better. This is my version of a quick stir-fry. I love food which is full of flavour and lately I have been trying a number of Chinese recipes. Why opt for a takeaway when you can make something like this at home?

Pork-Stir-Fry-(5243)

Here’s some hopefully helpful tips for this dish – I don’t want to sound patronising. (I remember the first time I tried to cook a stir-fry some years ago and I made a mess!) Please bear with me:

  • Always remember to switch on the extractor!
  • Using a wok is best. Borrow one if you have to.
  • I use pork here but you can either leave it out altogether or substitute it with a meaty vegetable such as aubergine if you like. Use less salt if you use aubergine though. Remember that salt extracts water from everything, making your ingredients drier.
  • When slicing the veggies make sure they are approximately the same size. Don’t faff too much about this, but if you do they will take the same amount of time to cook through.
  • Don’t be afraid of the amount of ingredients needed; it’s easier than you think!
  • As with all stir-fry recipes make sure you prepare all the ingredients beforehand and start with a very hot wok. Serve with jasmine rice.

Quantities for 4-6 hungry people. You will need:

Meat and spices:

  • 400g pork, sliced into strips
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

Vegetables:

  • 1 red pepper & 1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
  • 250g sugar snap peas
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 pak choy, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced (preferably in half circles)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. Prepare and slice all the vegetables. Set them aside until needed. Place the wok on high heat and tip in some vegetable oil – around 4 x 15 ml tablespoons.
  2. Cook the rice (I would suggest around 16 ounces for 4 people) by placing it in a medium pan, cover with water and 1 star anise and let everything come to a boil. Let it simmer until the water is absorbed by the rice. Leave the star anise in the rice until you are ready to serve.
  3. In the meantime place the meat, flour and spices in a large bowl and make sure to coat the meat all over. Tap the pork to remove any excess flour and carefully place the meat in the wok. Brown the meat till golden and set aside on a warm plate.
  4. Fry the veggies until crunchy/al dente. Remember to stir, stir, stir.
  5. Add the meat once again into the wok with the vegetables, add the ingredients for the sauce until the meat is totally cooked – around 5 minutes.

You will need a bit of practice here, but take a deep breath and if needed get help, especially for the stirring part! I know that this takes a bit of prep but it will be worth your time. I promise. Enjoy!

Rob x