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Spaghetti with Crab, Tomatoes, Chilli, Garlic, Lem...

Spaghetti with Crab, Tomatoes, Chilli, Garlic, Lemon and Basil

O.K let’s get straight to the point. I have been remiss in my blogging duties. To be fair I was battling chicken pox amongst other various lurgies. Thankfully I am better and have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen as well as organizing my garden – I just haven’t been writing about it. On my desk sits a very precarious looking stack of notebooks and important bits of paper. My SD card is full of images of baked treats, wholesome meals and new additions to the garden. There is much work to be done.

Whilst languishing on the couch in full pox delirium I decided to have a rummage through one of my old recipe binders. Tucked in between a Jamie Oliver recipe for Beautiful Zucchini Carbonara and a Nigel Slater recipe for Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Basil and Mustard, I found what I was looking for. Lovingly titled ‘pasta w/crab’, the recipe was handwritten on the back of an envelope.

Unfortunately there is no reference as to where this recipe came from, but I do remember making it a few years ago and thinking it was rather yummy. This dish didn’t disappoint the second time around and it will grace our table again. Next time, however, I will use fresh crab (a visit to the Whitsable Fish Market will be in order) and also add a Tablespoon of capers (because they make everything taste just that little bit more fantastic). In any case this is easy to make, perfect for lunch or dinner and goes very well with glass or two of wine.

Luna Raye’s Spaghetti with Crab, Tomatoes, Chilli, Garlic, Lemon and Basil (serves 2)

Ingredients

Spaghetti (or any other type of long-strand pasta such as Linguine, Angel Hair or the fabulous Fusilli Lunghi)

1 good sized glug of olive oil

12-14 Cherry tomatoes quartered (you can always add more if you wish)

1- 3 cloves of garlic (I love garlic and have no social life so I happily used 3 cloves)

2 fresh chillies (if you want it really hot – keep the seeds!)

1 unwaxed lemon (all you need is the peel so use a peeler to create lovely long strands)

1 tin of crab meat – 170g with drained weight of 121g (next time I will use fresh)

Salt and pepper to taste

A handful of fresh basil leaves roughly torn

Directions

Cook the pasta according to the package directions

Add the olive oil and quartered tomatoes to a pan and cook over moderate heat

When the tomatoes begin to soften (after about 3-4 minutes) add the garlic, chillies, salt and pepper

Give everything a good stir and add the lemon peel

Leave the peel to soften for 1-2 minutes then add the drained tinned crab (or fresh crab)

Stir every so often until it’s heated through (approximately 5-7 minutes)

I added about 3-4 Tablespoons of the pasta cooking water during this time as the mixture was looking a bit dry

Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and toss everything together

Just before serving add the basil leaves and give it all one final toss

Enjoy!

Note: My husband isn’t overly enthusiastic about tomato skins. This didn’t put him off his dinner but he suggested that it might be worthwhile exploring recipes that do NOT include tomato skins. The thing is – tomatoes are great for you and it is recommended to use the whole tomato whenever possible in cooking. Here is a very interesting website on the many health benefits of tomatoes and a quote from their website.

Whenever possible, try to develop recipes that make use of the whole tomato. We’ve seen research showing higher lycopene content in whole tomato products. For example, when the skins of tomatoes are included in the making of the tomato paste, the lycopene and beta-carotene content of the paste is significant higher according to research studies. – courtesy of www.whfoods.com

Sorry Hubby – the tomato skins stay!

My Grandfather’s Classic Caesar Salad...

Caesar  Salad

My Grandfather is a pretty good cook. Actually giving it a bit more thought I will say he is a very VERY good cook. He has a few stand out dishes and this Caesar Salad is one of them. Always a treat, I can’t think of anyone in our family who doesn’t look forward to tucking into it.

Perhaps my favourite memory surrounding this dish is of my Grandmother who sadly passed away a few years ago. She was in charge of washing (and drying) the Romaine lettuce. With no salad spinner in sight the leaves were dried on separate bits of paper towel carefully spread around the kitchen. I loved helping her with that task. Although time consuming it was an important part of the ritual in making this incredibly delicious salad.

This is perfect on its own or as a tasty side with fillet steak and frites or a piece of grilled chicken.

My Grandfather’s Caesar Salad (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 large head of Romaine lettuce

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 strips of bacon cooked until crispy and then chopped or crushed finely

1/2 cup plain croutons

* * The ingredients below should be added in order to create the basic dressing * *

2 garlic cloves

1 anchovy fillet or 1 Tbsp of anchovy paste

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 egg yolks slightly beaten (If you prefer not to use raw eggs because of salmonella concerns then substitute about 2-3 Tbsp of plain Greek yoghurt which will give the dressing richness)

3 Tbsp “Maille A L’Ancienne” mustard (a Dijon type of mustard with seeds) This is a very important ingredient

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes of Tabasco sauce

3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese

Directions

Wash the Romaine lettuce and dry it thoroughly

Shred or chop it into bite sized pieces

Add the basic dressing ingredients together and toss the Romaine lettuce with it

Add the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and toss everything again

Just before serving add the chopped crispy bacon bits and croutons

Toss once more and serve immediately

Enjoy!

A Caesar Salad wouldn’t really be a Caesar Salad without croutons – so why not make your own. It’s a great way of using up stale bread and aside from putting them in salad they are also really yummy when added to soup (perhaps with a bit of Gruyere cheese on top)

Here is a quick simple recipe for making your own croutons

Luna Raye’s Quick And Easy Croutons

Ingredients

Approximately 4-6 slices of stale bread (fresh can also be used but stale is much better)

A good glug of olive oil

Seasonings are optional and can include; garlic, rosemary, thyme, chili flakes, lemon myrtle, salt, pepper, marjoram, sage etc etc – be creative and have fun

Directions

Cut the bread into nice bite sized chunks

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat

Don’t let it get too hot – after about 30 seconds add the bread chunks and give everything a good stir

You may need to add more more oil – I like to make sure the bread is well coated but not drenched – go with your kitchen witch instincts on this

Once the bread is nicely coated it’s time to add whatever spices or herbs you have chosen

Sprinkle them on top and give everything a good mix around

Keep an eye on the heat as you don’t want the bread to burn

When the croutons are nicely browned and a bit crisp remove them from the pan

Add to soups, salads or even munch them on their own as a snack

They will keep in an airtight container for about 2 days

Tagliatelle With Prawns, Bacon and Courgette...

Tagliatelle With Prawns, Bacon and Courgette

Yesterday there was a lonely courgette in the fridge and a bag of prawns defrosting on the counter. I was unsure of what to make for dinner, but bringing these two ingredients together seemed like a good plan. With plenty of pasta in the pantry, I was thinking along the lines of a big bowl of penne or linguine in a rich creamy sauce.

Looking for inspiration on the Internet I came across a fabulous site called Drizzle and Drip. Sam’s recipe for Chilli and Garlic Prawn Linguine with Bacon, Zucchini and Lemon caught my eye straight away. Of course I needed to pick up some bacon but as our local butchers has the best smoked bacon I have ever tasted, I was more then happy to make the journey. The fresh air made me even hungrier (I must confess one of their freshly made sausage rolls found it’s way into my belly).

I didn’t follow Sam’s recipe exactly but it still tasted great. This is a recipe I will make time and time again. It is light, refreshing and makes a nice change from the heavy cream sauces I tend to favour (butter, cream and cheese are the holy trinity of my sauce making).

What also appealed to me was the way the courgette / zucchini was prepared. I have grated it in pasta before but the long ribbons worked really well with the tagliatelle. I was also skeptical about adding the courgette ribbons to the pasta water toward the end of cooking fearing they would be extra watery and bland. They weren’t.

So here is my version of the recipe but please do check out Sam’s website, she has a wide range of yummy looking recipes I can’t wait to try.

Tagliatelle With Prawns, Bacon and Courgette (serves 2 with enough left over for a tasty lunch the next day)

Ingredients

350-400 grams of tagliatelle

225 grams of frozen king prawns

3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon (and one sausage roll to eat on the way home!)

1 medium sized courgette / zucchini

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp of crushed chilli flakes

2 Tbsp of double cream

2 Tbsp of lemon zest

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (you might want to do this to taste)

3 Tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley

Splash of olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste (I only salted the pasta water – the bacon is quite salty)

Directions

Cook the tagliatelle in salted water according to the directions on the pack (go for al dente)

Using a peeler, peel the courgette into ribbons

When the pasta is almost done, but not quite, add the courgette ribbons to the water and cook with the pasta for 1-2 minutes before draining

While the pasta is cooking cut the bacon rashers into small bite sized pieces and add to a pan

Cook the bacon through and then add the drained, frozen prawns and mix well so the prawns soak up some of the bacon fat

After 2-3 minutes when the prawns are heated through and the bacon is crispy, add the crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp of dried chilli flakes, lemon juice and zest

Mix everything together well before adding a splash of double cream and the chopped parsley

The pasta (and courgette) should be cooked and drained at this point

Simply add the pasta and courgette to the pan with the bacon and prawn mixture

Toss well and serve immediately

Enjoy!

Vermicelli With Lemon Sauce and Capers...

Vermicelli With Lemon Sauce and Capers

This time of year I find that I indulge a little too much in festive treats and comfort food. I’m not sure whether it’s the martinis that are festive and the mashed potatoes comforting – or the other way around. In any case I do like to ease up a bit and have some meals that are a little lighter and less intense then a bowl full of mash. I have always had a fondness for Vermicelli or Angel Hair Pasta as it is known across the pond and this recipe sounded too good not to try.

The recipe I based this on is by Kyle Phillips and I found it on About.com. It is a real winner and I feel it works perfectly on a cold winters day. It brings a little bit of sunshine to your dinner plate. I pretty much followed the recipe but I didn’t remove the garlic from the cream (and I used a lot more garlic – I am after all a garlic-oholic) and at the end I added a Tbsp or so of capers. Yummy!

You can find Kyle’s original recipe here

Vermicelli With Lemon Sauce and Capers (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 pound Vermicelli

Zest of 1 lemon (make sure to used unwaxed lemons if you can)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 clove garlic (I used 3 large cloves)

1 cup cream

1 cup grated Parmigiano (I used Grana Padano)

1 Tbsp of capers

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Set slightly salted pasta water on to boil

In a large pot sauté the garlic in the butter and when it browns discard it (I didn’t let the garlic brown and I didn’t discard it. I had it minced quite finely and didn’t find it too overpowering)

Add half the cream and all the zest from the lemon – keep the sauce warm

When the water boils cook the pasta till it’s al dente and drain it

Stir the pasta into the sauce and toss it for a minute or two over moderate heat (at this point I added about 3/4 of the Grana Padano cheese)

Make sure to stir in sufficient cream to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan (with the final few tosses I added the Tbsp of capers)

After a minute or so scoop the vermicelli into a serving bowl

Serve at once with the rest of the grated cheese

Get stuck in and enjoy with a side of garlic bread!

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) With Homegrown To...

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
Lewis Grizzard

We are up to our ears in tomatoes and we love it!

At the start of April we bought tomato seedlings in the hopes we would have the pleasure of a few homegrown tomatoes over the summer. Last year’s efforts were a bit grim so our expectations were not high. I am delighted to report that this has been the best tomato harvest we have ever had in the 3 years of growing our own.

Panzanella is a wonderful way to use up stale bread and hi-light the beautiful flavour of fresh tomatoes – preferably picked straight off the vine! We have a fantastic selection of tomatoes including Roma, Citrina, Sungold and Green Zebra. Nothing hits the spot like a freshly made salad full of Mediterranean flavours and tomatoes you have grown yourself.

Normally panzanella uses stale bread but if you don’t have any on hand you can always use fresh. Just cut it into bite-sized chunks and place on a baking tray in a low temperature oven. You don’t want to toast the bread – just dry it out a little.

Here is my recipe for summer in a bowl.

Luna Raye’s Panzanella or Italian Bread Salad
(Serves 2-3)

Ingredients

3 cups of stale bread (I used a baguette)

A generous handful of tomatoes halved (approx ¾ of a cup) Use a mixture of tomatoes if you can (I used Citrina, Roma and Sungold)

1 small red pepper diced

¼ Spanish onion finely sliced

3 cloves of garlic (I am a garlicoholic so use fewer cloves if you prefer)

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

3-4 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Handful of basil leaves roughly torn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Add the bread chunks to a large bowl

In a separate bowl add the tomatoes red pepper, onion, garlic, pinch of salt, about ½ the basil and mix well

Add the tomato mixture to the bread chunks and toss so everything is gently mixed

Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic mixture over the top and add a touch more salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cover and leave for 45 minutes to an hour (you can put it in the fridge but I left mine on the counter top – I find the flavours come out better when it is a little warm)

Just before you serve add the remaining basil and toss everything again. Check to make sure you are happy with the seasoning

The bread should have soaked up all the oil, vinegar and tomato juices so it should be moist but not soggy

Serve up and Enjoy!

Panzanella

Bush Spiced Polenta with Baked Beetroot and Fennel...

Just over a year ago my husband and I were in Queensland, Australia visiting my parents. We had a wonderful time drinking martinis while watching Huey’s Kitchen, going for long (slightly scary) walks in National Parks and making the most of local farmer’s markets and food fairs.

It was at one of these food fairs that I bought a selection of Australian spices. The Oz Tukka pack contains Wattle Seed, Tasmanian Pepper Leaf, Artesian Salt, Lemon Myrtle and Bush Tomato. Lots of great spices to have fun and experiment with.

Of all the spices the bush tomato was one I really fell in love with. It is similar in taste to caramelized sun dried tomatoes which you can use in substitution if you’re unable to get ahold of bush tomato. The spice pack came with some great recipe ideas and so far this salad has been one of our favourites. It is perfect as a starter or light lunch / dinner. The flavours blend really well together and despite all the different components it is quite simple to make.

The recipe serves 6 people but I made this for the 2 of us and it was plenty for a hearty and healthy dinner.

Here is the original Oz Tukka recipe.

Bush Spiced Polenta with Baked Beetroot and Fennel Salad (serves 6)

Ingredients

For the polenta:

250ml polenta

1 Tbsp Oz Tukka Bush Tomato, finely chopped

1 1/2 Oz Tukka Tasmanian Pepper Leaf

For the salad:

6 small beetroots

2 small fennel

4 Tbsp pine nuts, roasted (I used toasted sunflower seeds which were not only delicious they were also much cheaper)

80g feta cheese

Rocket leaves (enough for 6 small salads – I used a good sized handful each for 2 salads)

For the dressing:

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp Oz Tukka macadamia oil or olive oil (I used olive oil)

1/4 tsp Oz Tukka lemon myrtle

Directions

To make polenta follow instructions on polenta pack. Add spices towards end of cooking. Wet a square dish or container, press polenta into dish, levelling the top and allow to cool

NOTE: I had to adapt this slightly as I was only able to get pre-made polenta. Instead of adding the spices into the mix I added them to the pan with a small pat of butter while grilling the polenta

Roast the beetroot and fennel in a moderate oven until cooked. Allow to cool

Slice polenta into 1cm thick slices and grill until golden brown

Arrange on plates

Mix dressing ingredients

Chop fennel and beetroot into large chunks

Drizzle some of the dressing over the beetroot and keep separate

Toss fennel with rocket and remaining dressing

Serve on top of polenta with beetroot, sprinkle with pine nuts and crumbled feta

Enjoy!

If you’re interested in more recipes and information please visit the Oz Tukka website.

Many thanks to my husband Paul who took such a lovely photo!

Runner Beans With Toasted Almonds and Lemon Thyme...

Back at the end of April my husband and I took a trip to West Malling Kent to walk around Manor Country Park and visit the local farmers market. While strolling through the lovely little streets we spotted a plant sale. We were on the look out for tomato plants but it was the runner bean seedlings that caught our eye. There were only 4 left so we bought the lot! They cost us a whopping £2.40. Not a bad considering we are already on our 4th crop of runner beans.

As it was our wedding anniversary a few weeks ago I wanted to make a really special meal. I sautéed the runner beans in butter and added some minced garlic and lemon thyme from our garden. I added toasted flaked almonds toward the end of cooking and sprinkled a few on top just before serving. We had this as a side to dish to grilled fillet steak and a jacket potato.

Luna Raye’s Runner Beans With Toasted Almonds and Lemon Thyme
(serves 2 as a side dish)

Ingredients

Handful of fresh runner beans (ideally from your own garden!)

1 Tbsp salted butter

1 clove garlic minced

1Tbsp chopped lemon thyme

2-3 Tbsp toasted flaked almonds

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a small pan add the flaked almonds and gently toast them over a low heat (this should take 2-4 minutes)

When the almonds are toasted set them to one side

Wash and trim the ends off runner beans (My beans didn’t need to be de-stringed but if you need to de-string your beans use a sharp knife and carefully go down each side of the bean)
Slice the beans diagonally into thirds (or bite sized pieces)

Melt butter over moderate heat in a frying pan or wok and add the beans

Toss the beans around in the butter so they are coated

Add the minced garlic and chopped lemon thyme

Toss everything around again and stir occasionally for 6-8 minutes

Add ¾ of the toasted almonds and stir again

When everything is mixed together, add to a serving dish and top with the remaining toasted almonds

Enjoy!

Runner Beans With Toasted Almonds and Lemon Thyme

NOTE: I learned something very important about runner beans (and all beans in general) I had no idea that they should NEVER BE EATEN RAW. Thanks to this very informative post I have put an end to my practice of nibbling the beans straight from the vine. Always always cook your beans! They contain a poisonous lectin called Phytohaemagglutinin which can cause nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhea and in some cases even affect blood pressure and breathing.

Coffee–Molasses Marinated Pork Chops...

‘Pork chops and apple sauce…ain’t that swell’
Peter Brady: The Brady Bunch, Television series 1969–1974

Pork chops and applesauce certainly are ‘swell’ – they are a classic combination after all. The two go together like peanut butter and jam, bacon and eggs or strawberries and cream.

Last night I decided to put the applesauce to one side and try a different approach to pork chops. Over the past few months my eye had been drawn to several recipes for pork chops with a coffee-molasses marinade. There was a half empty jar of molasses kicking around so I thought, why not?

I was missing some of the ingredients so a few substitutions needed to be made. I don’t think this affected the final outcome of the dish – it was delicious! Peter Brady would approve. In fact he may have even called it… ‘swell’.

Here is the recipe I used from the Taste of Home website. We served these with boiled new potatoes and butter braised Savoy cabbage.

Coffee–Molasses Marinated Pork Chops (serves 4)

Ingredients

• 1 cup strong brewed coffee

• 1/4 cup molasses

• 6 fresh thyme sprigs (I used lemon thyme from our garden)

• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (I used tarragon vinegar)

• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used mustard powder)

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning (I used lemon myrtle and lots of freshly ground black pepper)

• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

• 4 bone-in pork loin chops (1 inch thick)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients

Pour 1/2 cup marinade into a large re-sealable plastic bag; add the pork chops. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining coffee mixture until ready to cook

NOTE: I used a large Pyrex oven dish and covered the pork chops in ALL the marinade as in Alton Brown’s recipe for coffee-molasses marinated pork chops from the Food Network website. When it came time to make the glaze I once again used ALL the marinade. I poured it through a fine sieve first and reduced it to about ¼ of a cup so it was much thicker in consistency than the Taste of Home recipe

For glaze, place remaining coffee mixture in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup

Drain and discard marinade covering the pork chops

Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.

Grill chops, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160°

NOTE: We used our Creuset grill pan to cook the chops and gave them a slightly longer cooking time of 6-7 mins

Spoon glaze over chops

Enjoy

Cinnamon Basil and Cantaloupe...

Cinnamon Basil

In May I went a bit crazy at the Detling Garden Show and bought a load of plants. I am happy to report they are all thriving despite the ever present threat of snails. Even though I have invested heavily in copper snail tape I know I must remain vigilant – especially around my basil plants.

One of the stall holders had a vast array of interesting herbs including at least 10 varieties of basil. Most of these I had never heard of and I was keen to try some of them out. I smelled them all and gave each one a little taste (when the stall holder wasn’t looking of course). The one that really stole my heart was Cinnamon Basil.

It has a strong spicy aroma and it actually tastes just like cinnamon. I adore this herb!

Never having used it before I wasn’t really sure whether you could cook with it or what other ingredients you could put with it. After lots of exploring I found some brilliant sites and recipes that I will try.

First of all Ramona Werst has an absolutely amazing website dedicated to her love of basil (and what’s not to love about basil!) Please check out her site, Ramona’s Basil Garden here. I fully intend to try many of her recipes but first on my list is her recipe for Cinnamon Basil & Lime Icebox Cookies.

Another recipe I can’t wait to try is Steamed Mediterranean Mussels With Cinnamon Basil Ouzo And Feta Cheese from the i.food.tv website. My mouth is watering already.

Last night I was in need of a quick and simple dessert. A forlorn looking cantaloupe was beginning to languish in the back of my fridge (thank you Dr. Weil for reminding me it was there).

I had a few slices with plain Greek yoghurt and cinnamon basil on top. This was actually the first time I had used the basil so it was nice to have it in such a simple way. The flavour really came through – it’s actually quite addictive.

Cantaloupe with Greek Yoghurt and Cinnamon Basil

Now I am looking forward to using the basil in all sorts of recipes. I will keep you posted!

Oh and as for the cantaloupe seeds – I am drying them out alongside my apple seeds and will try growing them as well!

Cantaloupe Seeds

Indian Feast Continued: Dal Soup, Saag Paneer and ...

It’s been a busy and exciting week. A wildlife expert came around to assess my garden for the Kent Wildlife Garden Award Scheme (more on that later). I’ve been busy finishing up an excellent writing course at Savvy Authors and I have had new clients for my Reflexology and Aromatherapy practice.

This weekend has brought more rain so I felt it was time to write about the other 3 dishes my husband and I prepared for our Indian Feast last weekend.

Dal Soup is a firm favourite and my husband decided this was his dish to make. He used a recipe found in a book my mum bought ages ago in a local charity shop; ‘Cooking for Today. Indian Vegetarian Cooking,’ by Louise Steele This is an excellent book full of a wide range of easy to make delicious food.

Dal Soup

Here is the recipe from Louise’s book.

Dal Soup

Ingredients

250g / 8oz chana dal or yellow split peas, soaked

1.25 litres / 2 pints water

½ tsp turmeric

1 onion chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp vegetable oil (my husband used olive oil)

½ tsp mustard seeds

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 dried chillies, seeded and chopped (my husband used 2 fresh red chillies)

250g / 8oz canned chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper

Directions

Drain and rinse the lentils then place in a pan with the water and turmeric. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. (NOTE: Keep a sharp eye on the pot as it overflowed a few times creating quite a mess!)

Add the onion and cumin, stir, cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop add the chillies and tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the contents of the pan to the lentils. Stir well, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

NOTE: There was no mention of when to add the garlic so my husband added it to the mustard seeds, chillies and tomatoes.

Paneer Cheese

Saag Paneer is a beautiful combination of spinach, paneer cheese and spices.

This recipe from the Indian Food Site is quick and easy to follow.

Saag Paneer serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 kg/2 lbs spinach

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tbsp chickpea flour (NOTE: This is also called Gram Flour – I didn’t realize this and stood next to a huge stack of it while asking a shop assistant where all the chickpea flour was)

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 onion chopped

salt to taste

¼ tsp chilli powder

½ lbs or ¼ kg paneer

2 tbsp heavy cream

¼ cup oil (I used olive oil)

3 tbsp ginger julienned (I just chopped mine into little chunks)

2-3 tbsp fresh coriander

Directions

Chop spinach and set aside

Heat oil, add cumin while heating. When oil starts to crackle, add garlic and onion, sauté until light brown, then add chickpea flour and mix well to avoid lumps

Cook until oil emerges, then add spinach, and sauté until pan is dry

Add salt, chilli powder and paneer, finish with cream and serve garnished with julienned ginger and fresh coriander

Saag Paneer and Chicken Pulao and Rotis

We bought some basmati rice but wanted to do something a bit more adventurous then just steaming it. On the same Indian Food Site (which is brilliant and definitely worth checking out) I found a recipe for Chicken Pulao.

I have to confess I was very VERY pleased with the way this dish turned out. The spices came through beautifully. It really was like something you would get in a restaurant. The great thing was that it was all done in one pan. If you decide to make one dish then I strongly recommend this one.

CHICKEN PULAO

Ingredients

(2 Ib 3 oz) 1 kg chicken

1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 2 hours

2 onions finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 green chillies, finely chopped

2 red chillies

1 cinnamon stick

3 black cardamoms

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp garam masala

6 peppercorns

2 cups water

salt to taste

leaves from 2 sprigs coriander

¼ cup cashew nuts

4 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

Directions

Heat the oil in a non stick pan

Put in chopped onions. Fry till the onions turn transparent

Add garlic and ginger

Add black cardamoms, cinnamon stick, green and red chillies

Add coriander and cumin powder, salt to taste and stir-fry for 3 minutes

Add pieces of chicken

Stir fry for 5 minutes or until chicken has golden brown colour

Add basmati rice and 2 cups of water. Cover the pan and let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until all water has evaporated

Transfer the rice to serving dish. Garnish with cashew nuts and coriander leaves

Enjoy!

I hope you try making some (or all) of these dishes for your very own Indian feast at home. My husband and I had lots of fun preparing them and even more fun eating them!

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