Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Pepper Potatoes (Bengali Aloo) with Lemon Turmeric Aioli

Black Pepper Potatoes with Lemon Turmeric Aioli 1

If you've been following this blog for a while, you will know that one of the places I try to regularly participate is at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  Not only do I love the premise of the group, insofar as every six months a different respected chef is chosen for us to follow and learn from - a journey which is long enough for us to really get to know and understand that chef, and to develop an understanding of a cuisine which may push us out of our comfort zones;  I also love the community of this group.  During the time that I have been particpating, not only have we come to know a number of different chefs pretty well, we have also come to know each other pretty well too.  A group of people who cook together and learn from each other, and also understand and support each other, is a wonderful thing, and with Thanksgiving in mind (not actually a festival that we celebrate here in New Zealand), the friendship and community of this group is something I am thankful for.

As you also probably know, if you've been reading here the last few weeks, our current journey takes us into the realms of Indian cooking with Madhur Jaffrey - think Julia Child of Indian food.  Each week we investigate a different theme, or aspect of this cuisine, and our theme this week is "Root, Root, Root for Root Veggies!"  Now, I have to tell you my heart sank a little at that.  I'm sure you'll all appreciate this ... You know that feeling you have towards the end of winter when you think that you simply cannot face another root vegetable.  Then spring comes along, and you just can't get enough of asparagus and leafy greens, and you want to eat salads until they're coming out your ears - now, more than ever, you don't even want to think about root vegetables.  Which is exactly where I'm at right now.  And then ... then ... the very first, most perfect, teeny, tiny, paper-thin skinned new potatoes (Jersey Bennes, even) come along, and you realise that there is indeed a place for root vegetables in your spring/summer repertoire.

So when I picked up a bag of these perfect little gems the other day, freshly dug barely hours before at a local market garden, I knew that new potatoes were going to be my root vegetable of choice for this week's dish.  Now, we all know that there is no better way to treat a new potato than to boil it until just tender and then drown it in melted butter, so I was definitely wanting to keep it simple.  Madhur's recipe, from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery, for Potatoes with Black Pepper seemed perfect - simplicity itself, and a great side dish to just about anything.  No pools of melted butter here, but I decided a little something to dip chunks of black pepper potatoes into would be in order.  I started thinking aioli, and then thought the addition of some turmeric and lemon would take it up a notch or two.

I've only got one word to say about this dish - wow!! The little potatoes on their own were fabulous - just the right amount of tenderness on the inside, a hint of crispiness on the outside, and a little kick of fragrant warmth from the pepper.  The addition of the aioli turned this into sensational.  The turmeric added great colour, and a hint of earthiness (take care not to use too much - turmeric can easily overwhelm), and the zing of lemon was the perfect finishing touch.

I made enough for two, and since I was the only one eating them I figured I would have enough to go with tonight's dinner as well.  Wrong!  These were so good that I couldn't help making "Nigellaesque" raids on the fridge all evening, and by the time I sloped off to bed around midnight they were all gone.  Have I mentioned that they are just as good cold as they are straight out of the pan.

Black Pepper Potatoes with Lemon Turmeric Aioli 2

Black Pepper Potatoes Recipe (Bengali Aloo)
Adapted, hardly at all, from recipe by Madhur Jaffrey in
Serves 2
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

250g (10 oz) potatoes, washed & lightly scrubbed
(small, new potatoes are ideal)
2 tablespoons olive oil
flaky sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
(use a slightly coarse grind)
fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Put whole potatoes, in their jackets, into a small pot, cover with cold water, set over high heat and bring to the boil.  Once water is boiling, salt lightly, and continue to boil until the potatoes are just fork tender.  Drain and leave to cool completely.  Once cooled, peel the potatoes - if you're using new potatoes, no need to bother with this step.  Cut potatoes into 2cm dice (3/4 inch) - my potatoes were very small so I simply halved them.

Heat oil in a heavy based, non-stick pan set over medium heat.  Add the potatoes, and toss to coat well with the oil.  Add a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt, toss again, and then cook the potatoes for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Next add the ground black pepper, mix through, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until the potatoes are nicely browned and slightly crisp on the cut surfaces.  Stir the potatoes occasionally during this time.

Remove from heat to a serving dish and top with a generous handful of fresh coriander.

Lemon Turmeric Aioli Recipe
Makes about 3/4 cup
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2x cloves garlic, peeled
flaky sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
juice of 1/2 lemon
1x egg yolk
grapeseed oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)

Place garlic cloves into a mortar and pestle, sprinkle over a generous pinch of flaky sea salt, and pound until the garlic is mashed to a paste.  Sprinkle over turmeric and lemon juice and mix into the paste.  I recommend using just 1/4 teaspoon of the turmeric at this stage - you can always add more later.

Add the egg yolk and whisk into the paste.  Now begin to add the oil, a few drops at a time, whisking it in well and making sure each addition of oil is fully absorbed before adding more.  Keep adding oil until you reach a thick mayonnaise of the consistency you desire - the more oil you add, the thicker it will get.

Now is the time to taste and adjust your flavourings.  Sprinkle in a little more turmeric if you like, add more salt or lemon juice.  

Once you have the flavour right, you can now adjust the consistency if you like.  For example, if you wanted a runnier consistency to make this into a pouring sauce, then you can begin to add warm water one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until you get the consistency you want (Note - must be warm water - not hot, and definitely not cold).

This aioli would be perfect for dunking all kinds of vegetables into - I hope you'll give it a try.

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fish Curry (Boatmans Curry)

Boatmans Curry 1

At I Heart Cooking Clubs, our theme this week is "Comforting Curries" - to be even more precise, a curry from the Queen of Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey.

When spring temperatures plummeted yesterday to the extent that merino sweaters had to be dragged out of the mothballs again, and I returned from the market cold and wet (yes, chilly temperatures were accompanied by teeming rain), a curry seemed like the perfect warm-me-up-pick-me-up kind of dinner.

A quick online search and I came up with Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for "Boatmans Curry".  As soon as I noticed that one of the ingredients was tamarind paste (one of my favourite flavours), I knew this was the dish.  I happened to have everything on hand that I needed, barring the fish, so after a quick trip down to the fishmonger I was good to go.

I don't mind a moderate amount of heat to my curries, but the same cannot be said for everyone else in my household.  So, I've adjusted Madhur's recipe quite a bit to really dial down the heat factor.  So much so, I was actually a little worried that I would find it a bit bland for my taste.  As it turned out, there is so much other flavour going on that it totally didn't need the extra heat.  I also made a couple of other little changes to the preparation, firstly because I didn't have fresh coconut, and also mincing my shallots up with the garlic and ginger, rather than keeping the onion separate, just because I prefer it that way.  What follows, is my version of the recipe.  Follow the link above if you want Madhur's original version with full throttle heat.

Boatmans Curry 2

Fish Curry Recipe
Adapted from recipe for Boatman's Curry by Madhur Jaffrey
Makes 3 generous servings
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

For the spice paste:
1 teaspoon chilli paste
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1-1/4 cups long thread coconut
3/4 cup hot water

For the tamarind paste:
2-1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1x green chilli, seeds removed
2.5cm (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
2x cloves garlic, peeled & quartered
4x shallots, peeled & quartered
1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon oil (neutral flavour)
1/2 cup water
500g firm fleshed white fish, cut into large chunks
(I used trevally)
fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

Begin with the spice paste.  Put coconut threads into a bowl and pour over the hot water.  Allow to soak for about 30 minutes to soften the coconut.  Then place coconut, and soaking liquid, along with all the other ingredients into a blender, and blitz until you have a smooth paste.  Remove from blender to a small bowl and set aside.

Now on to the tamarind paste.  Put all the ingredients into the blender, and again blitz until you have a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.  Add spice paste to the pan, along with the 1/2 cup of water.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for a couple of minutes.  Now add the tamarind paste to the pan, stir to combine, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.  Add the fish pieces to the pan, stir, and simmer until the fish is cooked through - about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add a little more water during the cooking process if you find the gravy is too thick.

Serve with plain basmati rice, and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.

I also served with with some raita and my recently made apple, plum and peach chutney.

Once we'd finished, I still had quite a bit of the gravy left over.  Don't be tempted to throw that away.  I reheated the leftover gravy today for lunch, adding some hard boiled eggs, for an instant egg curry.  As it turned out, this curry worked perfectly with the eggs, so that would be a great substitution for the fish if you happen to be vegetarian.

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Orange Mango French Toast with Honey Roasted Strawberry Compote

Orange Mango French Toast with Honey Roasted Strawberry Compote1
"Strawberry Fields" serveware courtesy of Stevens Homewares (details below)

For several weeks now, as each day gets longer and warmer than the last, I've had my eye on the strawberries at my local market and store.  That said, long for them though I might, I haven't been prepared to mortgage the house in order to come by a handful of these early season beauties.  However, supply at last is sufficiently plentiful that, although still not cheap, they're at least affordable for those of us trying to make ends meet on a modest income.

Although it may seem like sacrilege to eat one's first strawberries of the season in any other way than completely natural, I was in the mood for something a little different for a luxurious Saturday morning brunch.

Inspiration came from casting my mind back to summer yoga retreats spent in the Greek islands, where a regular late breakfast by the pool was as simple as big bowls of fresh strawberries, topped with Greek yoghurt, and drizzled lavishly with gorgeous, fragrant thyme honey, and topped off with chopped pistachios.

Although thyme honey is not available here, I thought that I could achieve something reminiscent of that flavour by roasting the strawberries with a combination of good local honey and a bunch of fresh thyme.

Beehives near Mapua

Further inspiration came from one of my favourite restaurants in Bali, which offers a brunch dish of french toast filled with cream cheese and peaches and topped with an orange sauce.

In my interpretation day-old bread is sandwiched with a generous filling of mascarpone mixed with freeze dried mango powder (fresh or tinned mango would work too if you have it available), soaked in a wash of egg and orange juice, pan-fried in butter until golden, and then smothered in a warm, juicy compote of strawberries roasted with thyme and honey.  You may find that some of the ingredients in this strawberry compote might sound a little weird, but trust me when I tell you it works.

This felt like a very indulgent brunch, and I will quite unashamedly admit that my gluttony led me to devour the whole lot on my own.  If, however, you are inclined to a little more restraint, then this would probably feed two.

Orange Mango French Toast with Honey Roasted Strawberry Compote 3

Orange Mango French Toast with
Honey Roasted Strawberry Compote Recipe
Serves 1 greedy person or 2 normal people
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

For the compote:
1x punnet strawberries
2-3 tablespoons runny honey
small bunch fresh thyme leaves
balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

For the french toast:
4x slices day old bread, 1.5cm (1/2 inch) thick
(brioche would be perfect if you can get it)
2-3 tablespoons mascarpone
approx 1 tablespoon Fresh-As freeze dried mango powder
(or substitute finely diced fresh mango)
2x large, free-range eggs
1x orange, juice & zest
1-2 tablespoons butter for frying

Begin by preparing the compote.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).  Meanwhile, clean and hull strawberries.  Cut in half, or into quarters if very large, and put all the strawberries in a single layer in a close-fitting oven dish.  Drizzle liberally with 2-3 tablespoons of runny honey.  Quantities are not too critical here, so feel free to use more if you so desire.  Sprinkle over thyme leaves - thyme flowers would be fine too if you happen to have them.  Drizzle with just a little balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon), and top with a generous grind of black pepper.

Honey Roasted Strawberry Compote

Put into the preheated oven and bake until the strawberries have softened but are still holding their shape, and juices have started to run and become syrupy.  Remove from oven.

While strawberries are baking, prepare the french toast.  In a small bowl, mix together mascarpone and freeze dried mango powder - use more or less to get the level of mango flavour that suits you.  Spread two slices of the bread liberally with the mascarpone/mango mixture, and top with the other two slices.  In a wide shallow dish, lightly beat the eggs with the zest and juice of the orange.  Place sandwiches into the egg mixture, and allow to soak for a couple of minutes before turning over to soak on the other side.  Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat until melted and starting to sizzle, then add egg-soaked sandwiches to the pan.  Cooked until richly golden brown on one side, then flip over and cook the other side.

Once golden brown on both sides, remove to a serving platter and liberally spoon over the warm strawberry compote.  Serve with some Greek style yoghurt and some extra runny honey for drizzling over the top if desired.  You could also top with a few chopped pistachios if you like.

Sit down and indulge.

Orange Mango French Toast with Honey Roasted Strawberry Compote 2

Props courtesy of Stevens Homewares Ltd 
Strawberry milk jug & sugar bowl

This will be a submission to Sweet New Zealand, inspired by Alessandra Zecchini and hosted this month by Lucy at The Kitchen Maid.

Sweet New Zealand Badge A

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Apple, Plum & Apricot Chutney

Apple, Plum & Apricot Chutney 2

At I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we are discovering the joys of Indian cooking with Madhur Jaffrey, our theme this week is "Relishes, Chutneys and Pickles".  With Christmas looming large, my thoughts are turning to putting aside a bit of a stash of edible goodies for Christmas gifts, and I thought Madhur's Apple, Peach & Apricot Chutney would fit the bill perfectly.

I did play with the recipe a little ... subbing in some dried plums in place of dried peaches.  I also substituted soft brown sugar for the caster sugar called for in the recipe, because I like the greater depth of both flavour and colour that brown sugar brings.  Lastly, I replaced the white wine vinegar in the recipe with cider vinegar, as I thought this would work well with the apple.

I've always been a big lover of mango chutney, but with mangoes being a bit of a luxury commodity here in New Zealand, this chutney makes a great substitute.  There is a good bit of warmth from the ginger and cayenne pepper, acidity and sourness from the vinegar and apples, balanced with a delicious sweetness from the plums and apricots.  Although this would be great with all sorts of Indian dishes, it was sublime with nothing more complicated than good crusty bread and cheddar cheese, and I know it is going to be the perfect accompaniment to the ubiquitous ham sandwich on Boxing Day.

This could not be easier to make ... about five minutes of chopping, then everything in the pan together (I used a good, heavy, cast iron pan), and simmer for 30 minutes.  Cool and bottle.  I only made this yesterday and it tastes fantastic already.  I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like in a few weeks time - if I can keep my hands off it that long, that is.

Apple, Plum & Apricot Chutney 1

Apple Plum & Apricot Chutney Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey from
Makes 3x 250ml (8 fl oz) jars
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

3x large sour apples, peeled, cored & roughly diced
(I used Granny Smith apples)
100g (4 oz) dried apricots
(I used plump Turkish ones, left whole)
100g (4 oz) dried plums, quartered
50g (2 oz) sultanas
6x cloves garlic, minced
5cm (2 inch) piece ginger, peeled & grated
400ml (14 fl oz) cider vinegar
385g (14 oz) soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients into a heavy-based pan (cast iron is ideal) and bring to the boil.

Reduce heat to a vigorous simmer, and cook until the chutney has reached a thick, "jammy" consistency - about 30 minutes.  During this time, stir the chutney regularly and, as you get towards the end of the cooking time and the chutney thickens, you may need to reduce the heat a little to ensure that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Pour into warm, sterilised jars and cool completely before covering.  (Note:  The original recipe says to use non-metallic lids.  Not having any of those, I placed a square of baking paper over the top of my jars, before then screwing on my metal lids.)

Store jars in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

I am sharing this post this week with my friends Michelle at Ms. enPlace hosting See Ya In the Gumbo, and with April at The 21st Century Housewife hosting Gallery of Favourites.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sweet New Zealand # 15 Round-up

It has been my privilege to host Sweet New Zealand this month - a monthly blog event, created by the lovely Alessandra Zecchini, which offers an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen.  There have been some absolutely wonderful entries this month, and I have certainly enjoyed discovering and visiting all of your posts.  Thanks to all of you for participating.

Our first entry in this month was this Lemon Syrup Loaf from Lydia Bakes.  Although Lydia is flat out busy keeping up with assignments right now, she still managed to find time to turn her surplus of lemons into this gorgeous loaf.  She says that this is produced with very little effort and is one of her all time favourites.  I can see why - I adore all things lemon, so I can't wait to try this.

Next up is this stunning looking Chocolate Pavlova from Frances at Bake Club.  Frances found this pavlova from Nigella Lawson to be the perfect use for egg whites leftover from making semifreddo.  And in a particularly cunning ploy, Frances saved decorating and photography until the morning, which meant ... you guessed it, pav for breakfast!  My kinda woman.

Alessandra shared these gorgeous Mandarin Cremes on her Only Recipes blog.  Thick, velvety, creamy custards, topped with dried mandarins, cream and dark chocolate ("really dark", says Alessandra).  I tend to never think of making desserts like this, but these look so beautiful I'm inspired to try.

Alessandra Zecchini also shared this fabulous Berry & Banana Ice Cream.  How do I know it's fabulous?  Because I couldn't wait to try this.  This ice cream requires only two ingredients - frozen bananas and frozen berries - and the result is creamy, luscious, and best of all totally healthy!!

Our next entry was this Gluten Free Chocolate Cake from Amy at On The Monkey Trail.  Amy describes this as "just a reliably good simple gluten free chocolate cake recipe".  I think everyone needs a good, simple, reliable chocolate cake in their repertoire.  This looks beautifully moist and light, and I'm guessing it wouldn't be a leap too far to dress this "simple" cake up for a special occasion.

Lesley at Eat, Etc shared this Cranberry, Vanilla and Yoghurt Loaf.  Doesn't that look so pretty?  Lesley whipped this up one afternoon when she was getting over a fit of the "can't be bothereds" - great recovery, I'd say.  Lesley says, "each slice has little bursts of cranberries and a taste and texture reminiscent of madeira cake".  Since I'm a huge fan of madeira cake, I'm pretty keen to give this a try.

Next up we have Microwave Lemon Curd, Lemon Victoria Sandwich Cake, and Lemon Shortbread Biscuits from Alli at Pease Pudding.  I'm the first to admit I was a little dubious about this method of making lemon curd, but I've been around Alli enough now to know that if she says it works ... it's going to work.  So with a recent surplus of lemons I decided to give it a try, and I can confirm - yes, it really did work.  Can't say I've been adventurous enough to try a Victoria sponge though, or industrious enough to make shortbread biscuits.  My lemon curd just shows up regularly at breakfast time, slathered on top of crumpets, or afternoon snacks of big spoonfuls just scooped straight out of the jar.  Gorgeous photo, Alli.

Don't you love it when a good fridge clean-out turns into something wonderful? That's exactly what happened when Bridget from After Taste turned some fridge "leftovers" into these wonderful Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream. In my opinion, there are few things that could improve a lemon cupcake, but swirling it liberally with raspberry cream cheese buttercream and then topping it off with chunks of chocolate would pretty much do it for me.

Angela at The Cook's Sponge (a blog I hadn't visited before) made these fabulous Cranberry, Cashew & White Chocolate Biscotti while sharing a "girly" night in with a close friend.  I can't think of a better way to spend an evening with a good friend than doing some baking together, and then ending up with biscotti to nibble on afterwards ... that's a win:win.

Despite having a rough week, Mel at Treehouse Kitchen went to great pains (literally) to bring us Beatty's Chocolate Cake. Now, I don't know who Beatty is, but I sure wish I did - I would like to be adopted by someone who can invent a cake like that.  Mel says, "expect a moist, easy-to-eat cake and frosting which provides an immediate sense of luxury… and don’t expect the cake to last long if you have people in your house!"

Following a health scare in her household a few months back, Julie at Domestic Executive has been trying to change her family's eating regime. Particularly cutting back on wheat and sugar, and especially trying to find healthier alternatives to enable them to still have the occasional sweet treat.  These gorgeous Chocolate Cream Mini Cakes use coconut flour, palm sugar and dark chocolate, and Julie says they "packed a powerful chocolate punch but without the sugar high that would normally having you dashing back for more".  Pretty certain, I'd find it impossible to stop at just one of these wee babies!!

I love just about anything that has that sweet and salty thing going on at the same time, and this Salted Maple Caramel Popcorn with Spiced Salt from Mairi at Toast looks like it really delivers. Cheaper than crack, and legal too, I'm sure this combination of maple syrup, cinnamon and paprika would be highly addictive.

Like Lucy at The KitchenMaid, I love kumara in just about any incarnation.  I've often wondered about trying it in a cake, and I'm thinking Lucy's Kumara and Cardamom Cake would be a great alternative to the ubiquitous carrot cake.  That combination of kumara and cardamom sounds fabulous, and this is right at the top of my "must try" list.

Emma at Craving Fresh shared this Grain-free Chocolate Brownie that is a hit with her children.  Emma says they love it and ask for it often, and given that it has no white flour and little fructose, she feels happy about giving it to the kiddies without feeling guilty.

Last of all was my own entry of Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit Guilt-Free Ice Cream.  This is ridiculously easy to make, luscious and creamy, and I love that I can eat this for breakfast without so much as a shred of guilt.

Well, that's it everyone.  I'm sure you'll all agree there are some stunning sweet treats amongst that lot, and now it's my pleasure to hand the baton off to Lucy at The KitchenMaid, who is going to be your host for the month of November.

Sweet New Zealand Badge

Last of all, before I leave you, I wanted to mention The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  This is an annual event, and although it is an American event, if we can get a minimum of four participants from New Zealand we can join in too - New Zealand has already been registered as a participating country.  In short, after registration you will be given the name of three other bloggers and you will send each of them a dozen cookies.  In return you will receive a dozen cookies from each of three other bloggers.  And last of all you will post about it.  There is a small registration fee of US$4 which goes to a Child Cancer charity in the States.  Yes, I know it's a shame it is not a New Zealand charity, but I still think this would be a fun event in which to participate.  After all anything that goes towards helping kids with cancer is a good thing, and what could be bad about getting three dozen cookies in the mail.  So, if you're interested, there are three days left to register for this event - full details can be found here.