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.

 

 

 

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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*

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Mushy Peas on Toast

mushy peas on toast

Before you say anything, try it.  I know it looks decidedly vibrant and slightly unctuous, but you have to trust me when I say that warmed, tinned mushy peas on toast with a sprinkling of black pepper and a drizzle of mint sauce is one of the most comforting foods you could possibly wish to eat.

Obviously this comes with the caveat that you must love all the various ingredients in order to even attempt to put them together.  ‘It’s ok,’ doesn’t cut the mustard in this particular case.

However, if you have ticked all the criteria, then try you must, as there is something absolutely outstanding about this combination which will make you wonder why it hasn’t been in your life earlier.  A perfect lunch, a wonderful afternoon snack, and suppertime just will not be the same again.

The other thing in it’s favour is the speed with which it delivers.  For me, at the moment, this is crucial.  I am, as some of you may be aware, not a fan of the bought sandwich, which flops, unenthusiastically out of it’s packet like a wet dog’s ear, although I understand completely why it is so popular amongst the busy.

That said, barring the odd occasion where needs must, I just cannot bring myself to dine on the mass produced, cold, and unfulfilling.  However, if you sashay to the left, just a little, in your thought process, the light bite medium that the sandwich has dominated for so long can be easily replaced by something much more enjoyable.

Invariably, but not exclusively, on toast.

Meanwhile this week’s shenanigans have flown by.  The highlight?  My wee boy became a knight.  Oh yes.  In the glorious place he attends, along with his two friends, they held a ceremony with a story created just for them, telling about their heroic actions in order to help others, culminating in them all being deigned worthy of being knighted with the wooden swords they had spent months making.  I cannot tell you just how much this makes my heart glow from the inside out.  Every nuance of translation touches my soul, but perhaps it is the mantra they were asked to learn which transcends into everyday life the most.

I have strength and courage

to do what is right,

To protect those in need,

For I am a knight

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding

One of our weekend family favourites, especially in the winter months, is Yorkshire Pudding.  There is a light, crisp warmth to it that, if food could speak, would say, family.  Not just my family, but many families.  Partly, I think, because it is a shared dish, but partly because there is something synonymous with the anticipation of sitting around the table awaiting Sunday dinner, invariably the one meal of the week when people still do sit round a table to eat.

Referring to, once again, my touchstone of food history, The Food Timeline, the phrase that catches my attention the most, is the following, as it describes the first known mention of Yorkshire Pudding:

In 1737 the recipe for ‘A dripping pudding’ was published in The Whole Duty of a Woman.

As I’m reading it, I begin to wonder, were there prequels to such a book?  Perhaps, ‘The Occasional Duty of a Woman’ or ‘Can’t be Arsed Jobs of a Woman’ don’t, I suppose, have the grand sweeping statement which encapsulates in one title, just exactly where womankind was placed in the pecking order of life.

We’ll never know.  They were probably all burnt at the stake with the women who dared to look at life differently.

*Steps down from miniature soap box*

Cracking on.  My favourite recipe for said pudding is by Delia Smith, mainly because it never, and I mean never, tastes rubbish.  And I say this with experience of many a Yorkshire Pudding I have made looking as though it fought two battles to get there.

The magic ingredient though, is not whether you use dripping, lard or vegetable oil, but how hot it gets before you pour in the batter mix.  If it isn’t smoking, it’s not hot enough.

The ingredients for a large pudding are as follows:

150g Plain Flour, 150ml Semi-skimmed milk, 110ml Water, 2 large eggs, salt and pepper.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that adding more milk and less water will make it more luxurious.  You need the balance of water and milk to keep it light.

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and pour into your piping hot oil.

Now then, here’s a wee tip: did you know you can keep the oil hot by placing the dish over a turned on hob ring, or two?  No, neither did I until recently, and to be honest I still often forget this little trick until I’ve put the pudding back in the oven, but hey ho, you can’t have everything.

My beautiful man’s grandma used to put onion in the bottom of the pan with the oil whilst it was heating, before adding the Yorkshire Pudding mixture.  That’s delicious, especially with gravy.  And here’s another thing to tickle your fancy, were you aware that Yorkshire Pudding was often served before the main meal in order to fill everyone up so they didn’t need as much meat?  I know, a fount of information, that’s me…

Anyway, onto other things.  This week the wee boy and I were driving home one night when he said:

Mummy, guess where Poppy (his friend) lives?

Me: I don’t know darling, where does she live?

W.B: In the future…

Me: And where do you live darling?

W.B: (Indignantly) In a house, with you and daddy, etc, etc…

 

 

Butterfly Buns

butterfly buns

This weekend I made a decision to bake.  Partly because I have fond memories of winter weekend baking afternoons and partly because the wee boy is quite keen to make a rainbow cake – having watched a youTube video of it endless times – so feel I’d better get the practise in before attempting said cake.  I have until February half term, which is when I have promised we will try it.

Meanwhile, I am still coming to terms with my ‘new to me’ oven.  It seems that I have not quite mastered the time needed to warm an electric oven before putting in the food to be cooked, and am still over compensating.  As a result edges are often cooked way before the middle has time to readjust itself to the heat, which can create surprising results.

For example, I recently cooked some roast white and sweet potatoes together and was taken aback when I popped my head in to have a look only to notice that the sweet potatoes had almost turned to charcoal.  Undeterred I turned them over, kept a closer eye on them and, when serving, muttered something about being well done but probably edible.  Imagine my surprise then, when they actually tasted delicious.

Similarly with mini cakes, I have not yet mastered the art of creating a mini cake that is happy to be peeled out of it’s case.  The attempts I have made so far have all resulted in the cake clinging onto the case for dear life.  However, not to be beaten, this time I resolved to create a distraction by turning the mini cakes into butterfly buns.  After all, who focuses on buncase separation anxiety when there’s a glorious buttercream to devour?  And of course, as we eat with our eyes first and foremost, creating a butterfly bun means that any flaws can be covered with a light dusting of icing sugar… but shhh, let’s keep that little gem between ourselves shall we…?

Butterfly buns aside, there are still a few truly simple but wondrous things in life that genuinely make me tingle inside, one of which is watching that first snowfall of the year.  Yesterday, as the wee boy and I gazed out of the window at the silent white blanket covering the earth around us, he turned to me and whispered,

‘This is the most incredible thing ever’

Magical.