Goan Fish Curry

Goan Fish Curry

Did you know there are some people in the world that have NEVER eaten a fish curry?  I know, I, too, am flabbergasted.

Fish curry, for those of you uninitiated in the experience, is one of the most delightful curries you will ever devour.  Providing, of course, you love a curry and are partial to fish.  I have noticed, coming from a fishing family, that those who have not been lucky enough to experience variable types of seafood from a young age and typically live inland, are not very good with fish.  By which I mean they pull an ‘oh no’ squirmy face when I mention fish and begin to jibber on about bones etc. at which point I have to change the subject.

That aside, if you tick the aforementioned boxes, you will find this irresistible.

The wee boy and I decided it would be a lovely thing to eat fish curry on Friday evening, so we bought all the ingredients we didn’t have in, including a bag of frozen Talapia from the Continental supermarket down the road.  Sadly, for one reason and another, this didn’t come to pass on Friday.  Undeterred, Saturday became designated as fish curry day.  However, according to the wee boy, it was puppet Dave’s birthday on Saturday, so I made a lovely batch of brownies which we all enjoyed enormously.  So much so, that when I tentatively suggested fish curry for dinner no-one, including myself, really had the appetite for it.

And so it was that we eventually ate this glorious curry on Sunday as, quite frankly, had we not done that, it would have been shelved for at least a week.

So what is in this now infamous curry, I hear you cry.  Well…

Whizz up a 4cm chunk of fresh ginger with 2 cloves of garlic, 2 deseeded long green chillies, and 2 onions.  Fry in a little oil until translucent then add 2 teaspoons of cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, and turmeric.  Stir for a couple of minutes before adding 6 large chopped tomatoes, one tin of coconut milk, 2 bay leaves and 2 cardamon pods, cut into two.

Allow it to simmer for around ten minutes.  In fact, I actually made this sauce the night before, but it’s not necessary.  Then add approximately 600g of meaty fish.  I used Talapia and salmon, but choose whatever you fancy.  Allow this to cook in the sauce then add a few prawns.

Just before you serve this delight, have a cheekie taste as you may want to add a little salt. Add a shake of lime juice (the juice of one if you’re going fresh) and sprinkle with fresh, chopped coriander.

Serve with whatever takes your fancy.

Midway through finally eating the curry, I remembered that I had forgotten to add the lime juice, which does give it a little extra kick, but is not, it turns out, the end of the world if you forget.  Also, as a little tip for those of you who like a curry with spicy heat in it, you could consider adding a couple more green chillies.

The important thing to remember here is, however you like your curry, making it with fish instead of meat, is a wonderful, dare I say healthy, alternative and one I can guarantee you won’t regret.

 

 

 

Bottled Water

frozen water

We keep bottles of distilled water in the fridge.  The bottles are beautiful, flip top ones, bought from a well known Swedish retailers (Ikea) and make that glorious ‘glop’ sound when popped.  Recently, and by recently I mean in the last 18 months or so, which I realise to someone relatively new to life may seem a long time ago, but to me feels like a mere drop in the ocean of life, the fridge began to regularly over cool any water that remained in the bottles.

I think it looks like an iced Christmas Tree which I find quite beguiling, however, I cannot help but wonder whether this is our fridge slightly over egging it’s role.  Consequently, I find myself considering much more than is healthy, the need to defrost the fridge.  Obviously, as with so many other things on my ‘to do’ list, the amount of time I spend considering a task to perform, greatly outweighs the actual time it would take to complete the task.  But still, it niggles away at my sub conscious, coming to the fore only when yet another bottle recreates a winter scene.

In my heart of hearts I know that this means our fridge is probably coming to the end of it’s useful lifespan, which I also find quite irksome as I expect everything I buy to last for ever.  Apart from kettles and washing machines which, if they last over a year I feel eternally grateful for.

I would like to be one of those people who factors in the lifespan of white goods into some sort of financial structure whereby, after so many years it is a given they will need replacing and therefore the resources are there.  Knowing I should at least attempt this tactic does not, in the slightest, change my reaction of absolute disbelief verging on panic when, either because they just stop working, blow up, or refuse to continue in the manner with which they were first purchased, I find myself having to consider replacing that item.

And so it is that, at the moment, I find myself on the white goods precipice of replacement but not quite accepting that the inevitable will occur, believing instead, that if I just let it ride, something miraculous may happen and the fridge will have a word with itself, realise the folly of it’s ways, and stop freezing everything that is put inside it.

Meanwhile, until it conks out completely, I am going to revert to type and behave like an ostrich.

*sticks head firmly back in the sand*

Hedgehog Potatoes

Hedgehog potatoes

I am a self confessed lover of potatoes.  They are, in my humble opinion, one of the most diverse vegetables to cook with, and always taste delicious.  Especially when you find a different way to cook them.  Enter the hedgehog potato.

This simple twist on a baked potato has just found it’s way onto my top ten cooking list. They look beautiful, need hardly any attention, and taste absolutely divine.  Sort of a cross between a baked and a roast potato.  All you need to do is cut slices three quarters of the way down the potato, brush with a warmed mixture of olive oil, butter, salt and pepper and pop in the oven for around fifty minutes.  Then hey presto, they’re done.  Yes, my friends, that is all it takes.  They have a wonderfully crisp exterior, but still maintain a soft interior.  Perfect with a Sunday dinner.

Meanwhile in the world of me, them and the puppy, I found a small part of the wee boy’s pants the other day, lounging idly on the living room floor.  A little bemused, I thought nothing more about it.  Out on a dog walk the following day, I discovered where the rest of that particular pair of pants had gone.  I have absolutely no idea why the puppy would even consider a small, perfectly shaped red and navy blue striped pair of boys pants edible, but then I’m not a chocolate labrador.  Anyone would think the poor wee thing was never fed.

I have also recently rediscovered the beauty of short journey train travel, although it also turns out that I’m still not very good at it.  Getting lost in my thoughts, the ability I have to block out all sounds around me to concentrate on the inner idle banter of my mind, I managed to completely miss my stop and had to go to the next main station before catching a train back to my original destination.

I guess the phrase ‘quicker by rail’ only works if you’re paying attention.

 

Duck Eggs

duck eggs

Duck eggs are absolutely beautiful.  They have this almost translucent shell which looks so fragile and yet is very tough.  Harder to crack, I think, than a hen’s egg.  Moreover, they have an elegance to them which is captivating.  Rather like the difference between DIY store and Farrow & Ball paint.  And, being that little bit larger than a hen’s egg, they fit into the palm of my hand beautifully.

Not so good on toast though.

The reason why I occasionally buy them is because I love how they transform a run of the mill, everyday victoria sponge cake into something slightly more luxurious.  There is a depth of taste there that you just don’t get when you bake with hen’s eggs.   Which is what I was looking for this weekend as I spent Saturday afternoon hanging out with two fabulous women, discussing very important things.  Well, important to us.  And in my world, it is crucial to have good cake when beginning something that will change yours, and other people’s children’s future.

However, baking with the duck egg is not without it’s hazards.  I have not yet made a victoria sponge where the sponge hasn’t verged on the descent into oblivion, otherwise known as a biscuit.  Moreover, I still seem to be having difficulty with the heat of my not so new to me now, electric oven.  Work in progress I think.

So here we are on Mother’s Day, again.  The speed at which days are flying by is frightening.  It only seems like yesterday that we were bunking down for the festive season and now we are opening up for spring, and the endless conversations about not having enough time to clean.  Or is that just me?

I always try and spend some time on Mother’s Day reflecting on the beauty of both life and death.  Inevitably, the wee boy and I have a conversation about death, my favourite of which was not today, but very recently.

Wee boy:  Mummy, when you die do you want to be buried or cremated?

Me:  I want to be cremated and my ashes planted with a seed which will grow to be a tree

Wee boy:  When I die, I want to buried under your tree

 

 

 

 

 

February 29th

Daffodils

I am very old school when it comes to the seasons.  For me, the various equinoxes dictate when the following season begins, so although tomorrow is the beginning of March, and meteorologically is the start of Spring, I am not even entertaining the idea that Spring is upon us until at least March 20th.

That said, nothing trumpets that Spring is round the corner quite like the daffodil.

It’s glorious variable yellows and oranges sing out amidst the uniformity of grey that we have all been dredging ourselves through for the last couple of months, barring the odd day filled with winter sun.

And today has an even more special appeal because it only happens once every four years, something I’ve never stopped feeling ever so slightly giddy about.  I’m not completely sure why to be honest.  I can only conclude that it’s the uniqueness of it’s month and number that makes me feel all twinkly.

Whatever the reason, I have managed to have the most enjoyable of leap days in what is turning out to be the most extraordinary year.  I hope you have too.

Happy February 29th

Rainbow Cake

rainbow cake

It has been another one of those unexpectedly busy weeks where, despite trying to do very little above and beyond what was necessary, the hours have flown by at a very alarming rate.

The week started with us making a rainbow cake.  As some of you may recall, the wee boy has been talking about this for quite a while now and I had promised him, in the half term holidays, that we would give it a go, little realising that the holidays coincided with our lovely Charlotte’s birthday.  So, we made her a rainbow cake for her birthday.

When I say we, I am being generous.  The wee boy did a little stirring, a lot more licking, and when the violet cake fell apart – you’ll notice there are only six colours and not seven – he did a great deal of ‘quality controlling’.  However, it finally got made and presented, covered in icing, silver balls, coloured sugar, and love.

Interestingly, when the cake was cut, none of us, for one second, thought there was anything unusual about having a large, six layered slice of special birthday cake, despite each slice being absolutely ginormous.  Oh no, instead, we valiantly waded through the layers, stopping regularly for a swig of tea, and then more tea, until the wee boy, with still a mountain of cake to go, declared he’d had enough.

There was still plenty of cake left on all plates, but we trundled off on a dog walk, convinced that we would make room for the final part of the slice on our return.  Imagine then, our genuine surprise when himself came home and cut himself half a slice.

Just three colours.

*metaphorical lightbulb switches on*

Himself and I don’t do Valentine’s Day.  Mainly because neither of us are comfortable with the commercial concept, but also because we both believe that love should be given all year round.  That said, I would never judge anyone who does wish to engage with Valentine’s Day.  It’s a personal thing.  However, I do try and let people we love, know that is how we feel, so was brought to tears later on in the week when, flying hither and thither, the wee boy and I were on the telephone to son #1 and he finished the conversation with ‘love you’.  Similarly, when the wee one telephoned son #1 again, he left the conversation with ‘lots of love’.

I cannot put into words just how much this makes me glow inside.  I’m more proud that my boys can express their love for each other and us, than any bunch of flowers or heart embossed card and hope that nothing and no-one manages to crush that piece of perfection they both have within them.

 

 

Onion Bhaji

onion bhaji

We are all brought up with different ‘staples’ in our diet.  Indian food was never a staple for us, more a take away treat, like many children of my era.  However, as a nation, we seem to have completely embraced the delicately spiced nuances which are associated with asian cooking, although I would suggest that, in the main, it is still experienced via the restaurant or take away.  And I include myself in that category.

However, I am trying to conquer the art of cooking different cultural staples, if nothing else, just to see how easy it is.  Enter the Onion Bhaji, or as son #1 used to call them, Onions and Bhajis.

We are extremely lucky where we live, to be surrounded by different cultural food grocers, so finding all the ingredients is very, very easy.  I just pop down the local shop.  However, I am acutely aware that not everyone is as lucky, so, before I go any further I’d like to remind you all that recipes for savoury foods are just a guideline, nothing more.  If you don’t have it in, and cannot easily get hold of it, either miss it out or replace it with something you do have that is complimentary.  This may take a little research but trust me, it’s really not worth getting all hot and bothered because you can’t find fresh curry leaves …

Right.  So the ingredients I used are as follows:
60g gram flour, 30g rice flour – I used ground rice here as I didn’t have any rice flour and ground rice is just a more coarse version of the flour.  You could, should you so desire, just use gram flour in which case it is 90g (I know, mathematical genius…)
Juice of ¼ lemon, 1 tbsp ghee or butter, melted, or, in my case, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.  It’s personal preference here, but I also use vegetable oil to cook the Bhajis in so it’s a win win for me.

½ tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 2 green chillies – the thin ones are better as they have more heat – 2 tsp fresh ginger and two cloves of garlic chopped together and 2 onions halved and sliced.  Small pinch of salt.

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the oil, lemon juice and just enough cold water to make it into the consistency of Yorkshire Pudding batter.  Add all the spices, mix, then add the chopped onion.

At this juncture you may wish to add some fresh, chopped coriander, curry leaves or both.

Bring a deep pan of vegetable oil to a heat of 180C – now then, here’s a thing.  I had to look this up because I don’t have a deep fat fryer or a thermometer to test the heat.  I go by throwing a small piece of bread into the oil.  If it fizzles up and becomes a crouton in seconds, I know the oil is hot enough.  Not very scientific I know, but it’s the best I’ve got to give at present.

Anyway, when the oil has reached the desired temperature, take a dessertspoon of the mixture and drop it into the oil.  It should fizzle and rise to the top immediately, if it doesn’t, your oil is not hot enough, so whip it out and wait.  Keep turning the Bhaji until all areas are golden brown, then fish out and pop on a sheet of kitchen roll so that any excess fat is soaked up.

In my pan I use for frying, I can fit about 3 Bhajis in, so, prior to cooking, I put my oven on to keep already cooked Bhajis warm, whilst cooking the others.  This mixture makes between 6 and 8, so they won’t be in there long.

I then prepare a yoghurt dip by adding 1 – 2 teaspoons of mint sauce to 1 – 2 tablespoon of natural yoghurt.  Lush.

The first batch I made were not as delicious as I thought so I readjusted the balance of spices to the above recipe.  You, too, may have to readjust until you find the right spice level for your personal preference.  The other little tip I have, is, make sure that the batter is not too runny.  You can always add a little more water if it feels too stiff but it’s an absolute nightmare to readjust quantities if it’s runny.

Onion Bhajis.  Simple as.