Chinese flavoured casserole

The weather is definitely turning for the worse as winter sets upon us and we think a casserole is a perfect dish on a cold and wet day as today.  So building on the success of our previous ethnic flavoured casserole experiments, this is our homage to Chinese cuisine.    We are happy with how it has turned our and are busy concocting our next casserole which is likely to be inspired by Italian flavours and ingredients – stay tuned…

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs (6-8 pieces)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 medium leek sliced
  • 1 stick of celery sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 ” piece o ginger peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 pak choi –  cut leaves in half
  • 6-8 button mushrooms halved
  • 4 baby corn cut into bite size pieces
  • 6-8 mangetout
  • 4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 tsp chilli oil (Chinese type with crushed red chilli)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp Shaohsin wine
  • 1 tbsp spiced black rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce (gluten free variety)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • Few sprigs of fresh coriander and spring onion chopped to garnish
  • Pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken thighs with the 2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice powder, black pepper, garlic salt and 2 tablespoons of Shaosing wine – set aside for a few hours.   Heat your oven proof casserole dish and add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil – sear the chicken pieces on both sides and remove.   Add the ginger and garlic to the same dish and stir for 30 seconds before adding sliced onions, leeks and celery – stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Sprinkle 2 tsp of Chinese 5 spice powder, soy sauce, spiced black rice vinegar, the remaining Shaohsin wine, chilli oil and the stock cubes – add a pint of water and stir.  Dissolve the cornflour in some water and add to the mixture.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with lid and place the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour or till the chicken is cooked through.   Garnish with fresh coriander and spring onion – serve on its own or with a bowl of egg fried rice.

Coconut treats

Diwali the Indian festival of lights is a time of year for families to get together and a time to binge on sweets and savouries with reckless abandon.   It is traditional to make some sweets and savouries and offer it to guests when they visit during the Diwali festival.  Anna and I both wanted to carry on the tradition of  our mothers and grandmothers  to make something afresh rather than buy ready made sweets which we have in the past.   Here are a couple of quick recipes with coconut which are easy to make and sure to impress!

PS.  The macaroon is not a typical Diwali treat but something we made as a housewarming treat for a couple of dear friends of ours.

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Coconut barfi

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee

How much will I make?

16-20 pieces (thinly sliced)

How do I make it?

Heat the sugar in a pan with a quarter cup of water till it dissolves and begins to form a thick syrup (should form a string when a spoon is dipped in and pulled out or if brave test between fingers – warning the syrup is piping hot).   Reduce the heat to low and then add the coconut and cardamom powder.  Keep stirring till the mixture leaves the side of the pan (shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes).   Add the ghee, stir and take of the heat.   Transfer the mixture onto a tray lined with grease proof paper and spread the mixture evenly (rule of thumb – aim for a height of 5 cm).  Allow to cool before cutting into pieces with a pizza cutter.  Enjoy.

PS For a juicier barfi replace desiccated coconut with freshly grated.

Coconut macaroons (recipe from Whitworth’s desiccated coconut pack)

What do I need to make it?

  • 80 gms desiccated coconut
  • 50 gms caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Zest of a lime
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 medium egg white beaten till soft and not stiff

How many will I make?

12-16 depending on size

How do I make it?

Pre heat oven to 180 degree Centigrade.   Fold all the ingredients into the beaten egg white till you get a semi moist mixture (add more beaten egg white if the mixtures seems dry).  Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and place it 5 cm apart on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper.   Cook for fifteen minutes till the macaroons start to brown.   Allow to cool before serving.

Coconut chicken curry for kids

If you’ve got fussy eaters as we do here’s a simple recipe for a coconut chicken curry which so far has worked wonders in getting both our little ones to eat without complaining.   We both love our spices and want our kids to start experimenting and appreciating food that’s cooked with flavourful ingredients and developing a varied palate (we are tired of the pasta,  fish fingers and chicken burger routine!).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250gm mini chicken fillets chopped into bite size pieces (this tends to cook quicker than breast chunks)
  • 2 baby onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Small piece of ginger
  • Small handful of fresh mint leaves and coriander
  • 1 tomato pureed
  • Pinch of cinnamon powder, clove powder, cardamom powder, fennel powder, nutmeg and mace powder
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 3-4

How do I make it?

First make a paste of the onions, garlic, ginger, mint and coriander.   Heat a small wok/kadai and add the coconut oil.   Add the cinnamon, clove, cardamom, fennel, nutmeg and mace powders – stir for 30 seconds before adding the paste.   Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes till the masala loses it’s raw smell.   Sprinkle the turmeric, cumin and coriander powder and stir for 30 seconds before adding the pureed tomato.   Continue cooking till the fat oozes out of the masala or it starts to dry out and turn brown.   Add the chicken and half a cup of water – cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or till the chicken is done.   Stir in the coconut milk powder, adjust the seasoning and switch off the heat.   Serve with boiled rice or Indian bread of choice.

Curried roasted parsnips

Ever had that situation when you find a vegetable in the fridge and don’t feel like preparing it as you normally do but want something more exciting.   Last night was one of those nights we had parsnips in the fridge and wanted to try something different.   The dish tasted good and will probably feature as an accompaniment with our next roast dinner.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 5 parsnips peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 sticks of rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mango powder (adds a bit of tang to this dish)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Simple – place cut parsnips, minced garlic  and rosemary (pull leaves of the stalk) in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the curry powder and dry mango powder with a bit of salt.   Drizzle olive oil, mix and transfer into an oven proof dish.   Bake in a pre heated oven at 200 degrees for 25-30 minutes till the parsnips are cooked through.

Savoury chestnut flour pancakes

We have been having sweet pancakes with chestnut flour as a base and Anna has been challenging me to come up with a savoury alternative.  We had some delicious savoury pancakes for breakfast this morning and it’s worth trying if you are tired of sweet pancakes.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 cup chestnut flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 small green  chillies chopped
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • Handful grated Cheddar cheese
  • Handful grated Red Leicester cheese
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Butter to cook
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How many will I make?

6-8 depending on size

How do I make it?

Use a whisk to mix the flour, egg and milk.   Once blended add the onions, chopped chilli and cheeses with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Heat a frying pan and add a knob of butter, pour in a ladle of batter and cook on both sides to a nice golden brown colour.   Enjoy on its own – we want to try it with some chilli jam or Thai sweet chilli sauce next time.

 

Gluten free Chinese noodle soup

In a hurry, here’s a recipe for a hearty Chinese noodle soup which is very warming/satisfying and helps endure the sudden change in weather.   We have gone from warm low twenties one week to low teens the following week – I guess that’s English weather for you.  With the barbecue going into hibernation it’s time to get the creative juices flowing with some new recipes for soups, casseroles and stews starting with this one.  Hope you enjoy it as much as Anna and I did.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Handful brown rice soba noodles boiled with a pinch of salt and drained
  • 1 closed cup mushroom sliced
  • 1 chestnut mushroom sliced
  • 2 baby corn chopped
  • 4 mangetout
  • 1/4 carrot finely chopped
  • 1/4 celery stick finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of spring onion chopped
  • Small clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 gluten free chicken stock cube
  • 1 tbsp Shaohsing wine
  • 1 tsp Tamari soya sauce (gluten free)
  • 1 tsp Sriracha chilli sauce
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chilli oil
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • Handful chopped coriander to garnish
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

1 hearty serving

How do I make it?

Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic.  Stir for a minute before adding the carrot and celery.    Stir for another couple of minutes before adding remaining vegetables (except the spring onion and coriander).   Sprinkle the 5 spice powder and pour in 500 ml of boiling water.   Add the stock cube, sauces and seasoning and simmer over a low flame for 5 minutes.   Toss the spring onion in and switch off the heat.    Place cooked noodles in a large bowl and pour the soup over it.   Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and enjoy.

Salad therapy – rocket, apple and cheese

Our local TESCO supermarket had some amazing regional cheeses on offer and the salad we had the other night featured a cheddar and garlic/mixed herb soft cheese whirl.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 bag of rocket leaves
  • 1/2 gala apple cored and sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 3 tbsp red pickled jalapenos
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/4 large cucumber de-seeded and chopped
  • 100 gms of cheese whirl cubed
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp apple balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2 main portions or 4 side salads

How do I make it?

Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl.   Sprinkle the salt  and pepper before before drizzling the olive oil and apple cider balsamic vinegar.   Toss gently with your hands and portion into serving bowls.  Enjoy.