Cookbook

Rick Stein’s India – Cooking the one pot wonder of Lamb Dopiaza

Rick Steins India

In common with many of you I was glued to Rick Stein‘s TV Series about India and took the first opportunity that I had to purchase a copy of the book that accompanied the series. Well when I say first opportunity, I waited until Asda (other supermarkets also discount) had it on special offer (Sorry Rick). A couple of years ago I spent quite a bit of time working and living in Hyderabad which is in Andra Pradesh and famed for biryani. Somehow I seemed to miss eating or even seeing all of this delicious food that Rick was getting his hands on, but I ate enough to pretty much stop my enjoyment of going to get an Indian meal in the UK as it just didn’t seem to be the same. Watching his show, however whet my appetite and reinvigorated my desires to get back into the kitchen to rustle up some Indian delights.

Lamb Dopiaza Rick Stein

The Lamb Dopiaza that he describes in his book (page 238 to be precise) is a true one pot wonder. Not only is it all cooked in just the one pot, but you just stick all the ingredients into that same pot at the start and cook slowly for 2 hours or so until it is ready. I am starting right at the end here by showing you the finished article on the plate and in the pot, but perhaps I should step back for a moment and just describe how easy it is to prepare this dish, and yes it is worth making it and reading on.

Lamb

The Lamb (about 500g) gets put into the pot, no browning just straight in there to wait for all of its friends from the Dopiaza party to join it. In India they probably would be doing this dish with goat, I was trying to get mutton, but we got this older lamb (perhaps on the verge of its mutton birthday) at the Covered market in Oxford.

A lot of onions

You need a whole lot of onions, it’s supposed to be a kilo but I just cut up everything that I had and it was about the same. Most of the time I would expect to be cooking these down a bit, perhaps until soft and lightly colored. No in this recipe you just throw them into the big pot.

Dopiaza Recipe Spices

Most of the preparation to create the flavor is basically a bit of chopping and a bit of measuring out from the pantry. On the board above we have 15g of chopped ginger, about 6-7 cloves of chopped garlic, salt, whole coriander seed, whole cumin seed, cloves, whole black pepper seed, cinnamon sticks, and some green cardomon pods. There is no grinding, no roasting to release the flavours, no softly cooking the garlic or ginger, nope in this recipe you just tip the whole lot into that big pot.

Ingredients

Curry at time minus 2 hours

Apart from all those bits and pieces, there was just some turmeric, natural yoghurt, Kashmiri chilli, some ghee (or butter) , and water to add to the pot. A big old mix up, then heat it up to the boil, reduce to a simmer, put a lid on and sit down to wait for a couple of hours. That is really all that there is too it. Sure you can fish out bits of uncooked lamb and onion on numerous occasions just to prove and clarify that it really does take 2 hours to cook, or you could make some naan or similar while you are waiting, I did both of those, but I spent most of the time feeling hungry and sniffing the aromatic air in the kitchen and all over the house, and probably up all the way up the avenue as well.

Rick Steins Dopiaza

It really is worth the wait, and the minimal efforts required to prepare it. It was nothing like any Dopiaza that I have had from any Indian Resturant in the UK. It was fairly hot from the Kashmiri chilli, but not too hot to distract you from the rest of the flavor. The onions which having been cooked slowly release a super sweetness into the dish, the yogurt added a nice sharp almost citric tartness. The lamb was just so tender it was falling apart. You don’t really need any rice, a naan or other Indian bread would suffice. I did add in a good pound of mushrooms with about an hour to go (that wasn’t in the recipe in the book) and they cooked down absorbing all the spice flavor as they did. If I was a vegetarian then I think I would be happy enough making a Mushroom Dopiaza instead. I am sure that you could make this with Chicken, but I think that the longer cooking time really gave time to let all the spices marry together and develop the sauce or gravy as they prefer to call it in India (yes Rick we were listening).

I am not going to reproduce Rick’s Recipe from the book (without permission) I have probably given enough away already. If you cant work it out from the pictures above, well you can always buy a copy I suppose or (not recommended) have a look at the book in the shop. It is available from all good stores and some not so good as well I imagine. He does give us a lot of the recipes from the book  on the BBC website so check those out.

my pantry

All I can say is that it was really easy, and I would say way better than any takeaway that you will buy. Ok you do need a good pantry, and it is worth building one up slowly as it opens up a whole world of flavor. Check more of Rick Stein’s recipes out on his website, and if you are passing my house and you smell something Indian in origin, well I am probably reading his book Rick Stein’s India which you can buy on his website

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Getting my “Mincespiration!” with Dean Edwards

Dean Edwards Mincespiration

I could not resist buying the new cookbook ‘Mincespiration’ from Dean Edwards. I almost did but then I started to flick through it in Asda and several recipes jumped out off the pages and cried out to my stomach “Try me!” Then my brain got involved and pointed out that ‘you do seem to buy a lot of mince and perhaps you could try using it for something else instead of making bolognaise’. I thought that was a tad unfair as I have been making a lot of meatballs recently, but I quickly remembered that it is inadvisable to argue with oneself in full view of the general public. So I closed the pages of the book, dropped it in my trolley and that pretty much is the start of this love affair or is it just a flirtation with this cook book. Next week someone elses prose and recipe offerings may grab my attention, but this last week Mr Edward’s Mincespiration I have been all yours. I started off easy with the Beef Ragu Pasta then I moved on to the Moroccan Meatball Tagine.

Beef Ragu Pasta

Beef Ragu Pasta

My standard Friday night meal (if I am not going out on a myfoodhunt session) tends to be that old classic Spaghetti Bolognese. In Dean’s book he has his version which is Beef Ragu Pasta. It was quite different from my version, he cooks his mince then adds onions, garlic, and pancetta. I normally do it the other way round, frying off my onion and garlic first, then some oregano, but no pancetta. After that point his recipe deviated well away from mine. He then adds red wine, cooks it down until reduced by half before adding tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano and beef stock and leaves to cook slowly for 1 and a 1/2 hours. In the book he says it is worth the wait. I have to agree that it was worth it. A very different taste, nice and juicy but still a thick tomato gravy. It was a little bit tangy, not too sharp, but it did benefit from the addition of some quality parmesan. Although there was plenty of tomato added to the pot it somehow was not too much.  I would have liked crispy pancetta, but mine ended up being soft and melty, quite different texturally yet it worked well. I was getting a mouthful of mince and bacon together and I liked it. The meat had cooked into the sauce and as a result it ends up being quite a thick meaty gravy. It was much better than my recipe, but then again I am conditioned into liking mine after 20 years of cooking it the same way. I might try this recipe of Dean’s again, only with some cubed beef instead of the mince. I am not going to post the full recipe here, it’s in the book and basically you just mix up the items I listed and it won’t be far off.

Moroccan Meatball Tagine

Morrocan Meatball Tagine in Dean Richard's Mincespiration

When I was flicking through the pages of the book, it was the two page picture spread of the Moroccan Meatball Tagine that really caught my eye and basically sold the purchase to me of ‘another‘ cookbook. I do like a good meatball and these did look good in the pictures so this was my next venture into the leaves of the book.

meatball mix before mixingmorrocan meatball mixedmorrocan meatballs

First off it was a case of getting these meatballs made and into the fridge to chill for a bit. The mix was basically lamb mince, finely chopped onion, crushed chopped garlic cloves, harissa paste, fresh breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, plus salt and pepper. You just mix them all up, roll them into even sized balls of meat, and put in the fridge. Then you have the fun of trying to wash the harissa stain off your hands before you carry on making the sauce.

onion, apricots, crushed coriander seedspaprika, cinnamon,

For the sauce you fry up onion, garlic and ginger until soft, and then add in some paprika, ground cinnamon, and crushed coriander seeds (I ground them in a pestle). You get some great aroma’s floating around the kitchen while you did this bit. First that sweet garlic and fragrant ginger smell, then the perfume of the cinnamon hits as you add it and it starts to cook and release. This combined with the spicy paprika and the coriander starts to turn the air in the kitchen into the inside of a spice bazaar. I can imagine it filled with vendors grinding up their spices and throwing them into sizzling, bubbling, and steaming pots. Well maybe it was not quite like that, but you know, it certainly creates a great smell that tickled those taste buds in a cheeky almost over familiar fashion.

onions, garlic, gingeradding spices paprika, cinnamon, corianderadd the apricotsadd the tomatoes

For a brief moment it all started to settle down, but once I threw some chopped apricots and tomatoes into the party well then everything kicks off again. It does not help at all that your senses are getting a double hit as you start to fry those meatballs in an adjacent pan. Look will everyone on the stove just start behaving yourselves? You are all just showing off now aren’t you?

Meatballs in the sauce

The last act in the dance before you get near the end is to add some stock and the meatballs and cover. This should put the aromas to bed for a bit, but they just sit there quietly under the glass lid abiding their time and waiting for their moment on the plate. Toward the end you add a bit of honey and some seasoning, but to be honest by this time, if you are like me you have probably joined in the party spooning bits out of the bowl, while pretending to check for seasoning. If you are not, well there must be something wrong with you.

DSC07164

Well now, after all that excitement it was time to eat the final dish and there might be a concern that it was going to be hard to put on a good show after all those antics in the green room. It was not a concern, considering the relative simplicity of the cast list, this recipe produced a really quite impressive mid week meal. The combinations of spices, well they seemed to be just perfect, there were sweet bits of apricot, spicy tangs all over (some even on the taste buds), the meatballs were soft inside, crisp on the outside, both spicy and sweet. So maybe there are not the subtle layers that you might expect from a restaurant dish, but there was enough in-your-face flavour on this plate to meet the expectations of any guest at my kitchen table.

If you think back to that the tagline on the front cover of Dean’s Book is ‘Over 100 budget friendly, quick and easy family meals with mince’ then you might be forgiven on tasting this dish that I had actually used a different book. I didn’t though, this little tasty beauty came from the pages of “Mincespiration”. I was pretty chuffed with the meal, I have not been to Morocco and I am no expert in cooking with that style, but I think I could get away with a whole heap of brownie points by producing this dish in polite company, or even by feeding it to my friends.

Is it even worth putting out a verdict at this point on Dean Edward’s Mincespiration? Well if you just skipped to this last section then I suppose that I should. Actually no! I wont just read it and the answer will be clear. I am just going to carry on cooking from it. I just read a recipe for Lamb and Mushroom Pilaf so I know what is coming for the next meal.

All I can say at this point is that I most definitely have my ‘Mincespiration’ now. It stands on its own as a cookbook and I managed to get all this way without mentioning that Dean was a finalist on Masterchef in 2006 and a resident Chef’s for ITV’s This Morning. You don’t need to know that you just need to know that your bags of mince are safe if you marry them up with one of the recipes in this book.

“Mincespiration!” by Dean Edwards published by Bantam Press

“Available in all good bookstores and probably those that are rubbish as well”

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“Toad in the Hole” inspired by ‘The Fabulous Bakers Brothers’

One of the benefits of returning to the UK is that I have been able to catch up on my UK Cookery programmes and get introduced to some new chefs. It’s amazing how quickly someone new can arrive on the scene. My new favorites are the “Fabulous Baker Brothers”- Henry and Tom Herbert. They have a show on Channel Four featuring recipes from the Hobbs House Butchery and Bakery, and a cookbook of the same name ‘The Fabulous Bakers Brothers’ which I now own.

Watching late one night I was inspired to attempt to make their Toad in the Hole recipe, quite a feat for someone who has failed to make Yorkshire Puddings for umpteen years. But there was just something so tantalisingly tasty about the recipe when they made it on television. I had some really great big fat herby sausages from Spring Lane Farm at Mapperley Top in Nottingham to use, and we had the rest of the herbs and onions from the back garden. I won’t reproduce the recipe here but you can find it at the following link.

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/tv-show-recipes/the-fabulous-baker-brothers-recipes/toad-in-the-hole-recipe

 

First off we had some really nice fresh thyme and red onion from the garden, this was added to a hot tray on the stove top to gently brown the sausages. This took about 10 minutes, and while they were cooking we prepared the batter mixture for the ‘hole’part of the dish.

 

The batter is principally flour, fennel seeds, freshly chopped rosemary,and a dollop of dijon mustard. To this add a couple of good eggs and some milk.

 

After whisking up the mixture, it then gets added to the pan with the sausages and onions, then is swiftly thrown into the oven for 25-30 minutes. Now if I had any sense I would have adjusted the positions of the sausages so that they were equally distributed across the pan, but I didn’t and I don’t. It was enough to resist the temptation to open the oven for a peek, but resist I did, and the reward was a firmly cooked Toad in the Hole 30 minutes later.

 

Out of the pan and onto a plate with some mashed potatoes, peas and gravy was the perfect place for this dish to reside. Even better was its final resting place in my stomach.

This Toad and Hole was a really great variation of the dish, I was slightly dubious at the different herbs mixed in, but once cooked they gave it a great flavour, you did need really thick quality sausages, and most of all the ability not to peek.

I will be bringing this recipe out at some Chicago supper clubs once I return, just to prove that English food is not bland or boring.

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Cooking at home aka Jamie Oliver – Meatball Carbonara

So earlier today I had a disastrous lunch at Burrito House, but never mind, as promised (mostly to myself) tonight I have cooked one of my favorite meals, my version of Jamie Oliver’s Sausage Carbonara or ‘linguine alla carbonara di salsiccia’. Now I do take some liberties with the recipe which all good home cooks should do, I have made this at least 50 times, and have gradually worked out how I like to eat it, and more importantly through experimentation on my friends and family what gets the best response, usually measured in oohs and aahs!

 

Now this recipe comes from Jamie’s Book “Jamie’s Italy” which accompanied his TV series of the same name, I don’t know if it was shown in America. If you are lucky enough to be able to go to one of Jamie’s resturants in the UK, then he has this on the menu there, and for those of you who travel I have heard that he is about to open one of his resturants at Gatwick airport in the UK (just in case you are passing through). OK but back to the food.

This is the ‘official’ recipe, but as I already note I may have adjusted it slightly, and it really does not matter what type of pasta you use. I get the ingredients together and a glass of wine (of course).

 

So instead of ‘sausage’ meat I like to use meatballs and the ones from “Whole Foods” are pretty good if you break them in half. I like to get my pancetta from “Fox and Obel” as they cut it nice and thick so you can cube it, but today I did not want to trek over there so I roasted and then chopped up some Black Forest bacon from Whole Foods.

  

So now the easy bit is putting the bacon and the meat balls into the oven at about 400F to let them crisp up for about 20mins. I usually put the water for the pasta on to boil after about 10 mins while I get the carbonara sauce ready. All that needs is some cream, a couple of egg yolks, some lemon juice (Jamie uses the zest but I like it more lemony), and some good quality parmesan cheese.

  

Then once the pasta is cooked it is just a case of mixing it all together in a pan quickly over a light heat. Jamie says you have to be careful not to heat it too quickly or it will turn into scrambled eggs. In all the time I have done it that has never happened so either I am doing it wrong or I am just right 🙂

  

After all that just tip onto a plate, add the meatballs and bacon, and perhaps a little bit of parmesan to top it off.

 

Now we are talking, I was very happy after this and together with a ‘small’ glass of wine I just threw on a Jamie Video to make the food night complete.

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