Chicken Coconut Korma

Saturday, 29 June 2013

This curry has fast become a favourite dinner in our house.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to really spicy curries so this korma suits me just fine.  I love the creamy coconut milk mixed with the warming ginger and mild spices of the korma curry paste.  I’ve gone down the traditional route of using chicken but because buying organic meat can be pricey I like to try and substitute plenty of vegetables for some of the meat making it an all round healthier dish.  Here I used cauliflower which blended in to the background nicely.  I also threw in some red lentils for a little extra protein and fibre.  Alternatively chickpeas are also a nice addition.  The end result is hearty meal which should keep those who like spicy food (my husband) happy but is subtle enough not to blow your head off.  If you are vegetarian of vegan then just leave out the meat and substitute with vegetables.  I add kale at the last minute as we can’t get enough of it but spinach would also work.

Recipe adapted from Jamie’s Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver

*The original recipe uses a fresh green chilli.  I didn’t bother in my version but if you like a really hot curry then go for it.

Serves 2
1 large chicken breast chopped in to approximately 3cm pieces
1 shallot finely chopped
½ thumb sized piece of fresh root ginger finely chopped
¼ head of cauliflower cut in to chunks
Handful of red lentils
½ tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon of korma curry paste or more if you like it hotter
200ml coconut milk
Small handful of flaked almonds plus extra toasted for serving
1 heaped tablespoon of desiccated coconut
Salt and pepper to taste
Small handful of kale (optional)
Coriander leaves to serve (not pictured, I’d run out)

In a large heavy based pan sauté your chicken pieces in coconut oil until lightly brown.  Add the shallot and ginger and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the cauliflower, korma paste, lentils, coconut milk, flaked almonds and desiccated coconut and mix everything together.  Add extra water as needed.  Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes with the lid on.  Check periodically that the curry is not drying out and add more water as necessary.  Once the chicken is cooked and the curry is ready add the kale for the last two minutes.  Season to taste and serve with rice (I used brown).  Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds and fresh coriander.

Weekending and Roasted Berries

Sunday, 23 June 2013

This weekend started with 3 ½ hours in an epic traffic jam on the M25 getting home from work on Friday and it’s ending with African beef and peanut stew and Nashville (I know, feel free to judge).  In between there have been walks, shopping, cake baking, music listening and film watching.  There has also been roasted berries on porridge.  Nothing says summer like fresh berries.  Nothing says winter like a hot steaming bowl of porridge.  I thought since our UK summers feel more like winter at the moment the two would go quite nicely together.  This isn’t really about porridge however.  Porridge is merely my chosen vehicle for these luscious summer berries.  They would be perfect on yoghurt, ice cream, pancakes.  The list goes on.

Last summer I roasted strawberries using Heidi Swanson’s recipe from her book Super Natural Everyday.  Inspired by this post on Naturally Ella I decided to try using different berries.  I had raspberries and frozen blueberries which I defrosted prior to roasting.  This is so easy and such a delicious way to make the best of summer fruits. 

Roasted Summer Berries
225g (8oz) summer berries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F

Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper.  Place your berries in a bowl.  In a separate bowl mix together the maple syrup and extra virgin olive oil.  Pour the mixture over the berries and gently combine until the berries are coated.  Spread the berries out across the baking tray and roast for 20 – 30 minutes until they have begun to caramelise and release their juices.  Remove from the oven and while still warm scrape the berries and their juices in to a small bowl and serve.  

Vanilla Almond Coconut Cookies

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Yesterday I was in need of a distraction.  Yesterday my inner child (the one that wants to throw tantrums and stamp her feet for no good reason) needed to be kept in check.  Bruce Springsteen was playing Wembley Stadium and I couldn’t be there.  I felt like a small child who missed out on a friend’s birthday party.  There was a bit of sulking, it wasn’t my finest hour.  However, good things can sometimes come out of a sulk and that’s sort of how these cookies happened.  Really tenuous link I know but I felt the need to distract myself with baking and whilst idly flicking through a magazine I came across this recipe, they sounded easy and delicious and just suited my mood.

These flourless cookies are wonderfully light and full of healthy ingredients.  The coconut takes centre stage working perfectly with the more subtle vanilla and almond flavours.  The cookies are quite small so you really can’t stop at eating just one, especially if you are sulking about something.

Recipe slightly adapted from Natural Lifestyle Magazine.  Makes about 20-22 cookies.
112g ground almonds
80g unsweetened desiccated coconut
¼ tsp sea salt
80g agave syrup (I guess honey would be fine but I haven’t tried).
56g coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1-2 free range eggs*

*The original recipe didn’t include eggs.  I think this was a typo as the ingredients were far too dry.  I added an egg to my half batch and it worked perfectly.  I’m guessing if you are making the full batch of 22 you will need two eggs.  Start with one and see how the mixture is.  If it’s still a little dry mix in a second egg.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3, 170°C, 325°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.
In a bowl mix together the almond meal, desiccated coconut and salt.  In a separate bowl beat together the coconut oil, agave syrup, vanilla and almond extracts and an egg. Combine the dry and wet ingredients together.  If the mixture is still a little firm add the second egg.  Place small rounded scoops of dough on to the baking sheets.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cookies turn golden brown.  Remove from the oven, leave the cookies to stand on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  The cookies may be a little soft but they will firm up as they cool.

For those who understand my pain, here is a bit of raw young Bruce playing Darkness on the Edge of Town which I hear was the centre piece of his Wembley set last night and my favourite album.

Adventures with Cauliflower Couscous

Sunday, 9 June 2013

One of the things I miss in my gluten free life is couscous.  It’s so convenient and easy to use.  For a while I tried substituting quinoa and millet but while they are fine grains in their own right, they don’t have the same texture as couscous.  Enter the humble cauliflower.  Never one of my favourite vegetables I often dismissed cauliflower as bland and tasteless.  No surprise because I’d only every really eaten it boiled or steamed.  Thanks to the wonderful world of food blogs I’ve had my eyes opened to the possibilities that cauliflower can offer.  I’ve tried roasting it with spices which is delicious and lately I’ve been using it as a substitute for couscous.  A grain free dream.  All you need is a food processor!  Blitzed in a food processor cauliflower becomes fine and grain like.  I find a few minutes in the skillet and it’s cooked.  No need for boiling water, just heat through.  Simple as that.

I’ve made a few dishes using cauliflower couscous.  Today for lunch I had it with wilted spinach, lemon zest, roasted tomatoes and a boiled egg (pictured above).  But the recipe I’m going to share today was something of an experiment.  Last week on a whim I bought a pineapple, like you do.  It sat on the counter staring at me for a few days until I was compelled to find a good way to use it.  This recipe was inspired by BBC Good Food Pineapple Rice.  The pineapple can be a little over powering here as it is very sweet.  The original recipe calls for soy sauce which I can’t eat because it contains wheat but tamari would probably work well.  I just didn’t have any.  I served this with steak and the combination worked really well.  Pineapple is often served with pork so the sweet and savoury combination of the two is a definite winner.  I also threw in some toasted cashew nuts which were a great addition.  This recipe is open to major experimentation.  I just went with what I had on hand.

Pineapple Cauliflower Couscous inspired by BBC Good Food.
Serves 2
Roughly ¼ head of cauliflower will serve 2 but you will have to estimate this depending on the size of your cauliflower.  Chop the cauliflower in to florets then blitz it in the food processor until fine.
¼ pineapple cut in to chunks.
1 shallot finely diced.
1 teaspoon sized piece of fresh root ginger finely chopped.
½ teaspoon of curry powder.
Handful of kale of spinach.
Sliced spring onions.
Handful of toasted cashews.

Sauté the shallot and ginger in a skillet or non stick frying pan for about five minutes.  Add the curry powder and pineapple and mix well.  Next add the cauliflower couscous, kale and spring onion.  Cook for five minutes more.  Serve with unsalted toasted cashews sprinkled over.  

Walking and Rhubarb Oat Bars.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

I can’t remember how old I was when I started to become obsessed with going for walks but I know I’ve been a fan for some twenty years now.  As a teenager growing up on a beautiful Island with miles of coastal walks, downs and open countryside I didn’t always appreciate my families insistence upon going for walks.  As I am many years younger than my siblings I would end up walking at the back of the family group, grumpily making slow progress, not opening my eyes to the beauty around me, focusing purely on my physical discomfort, the effort involved in traipsing up hills, trailing behind the adult conversations ahead.  At some point all this changed and I began to genuinely appreciate a good walk, the fresh air, the beautiful surroundings, the pleasure gained from physical exercise. 

Luckily for me my husband shares my appreciation of a good walk.  (He didn’t really have a choice).  It’s a good way to clear your head, talk things out, work hassles, life hassles, hopes and dreams.  Walking helps me gain perspective.  This week we have been on some amazing walks.  I thought I’d share a few pictures and promote the benefits of walking a little more...

Walking lets you wear thick socks over your jeans and get them covered in mud.  This is a good thing.

Walking enables you to see shadows moving across a valley. (Devil’s Dyke)

Walking allows you to look about and appreciate amazing cloud formations.  (Newlands Corner)

Walking means sometimes taking a picnic and eating your sandwiches with a view.  (Box Hill)

And finally, while walking, you might want to take a long one of these rhubarb oat bars to keep your energy up.  See how I did that oh so subtle link...You can find the recipe here at What's Cooking Good Looking via the Vanilla Bean Blog.  I subbed the blueberries and pomegranates for finely diced rhubarb.  The effect isn’t so pretty but they tasted very good.  Rhubarb isn't in season for long in the UK so grab it while you can!