Thursday 28 April 2011

Singapore-Style South-Indian Chicken Curry

For this months random recipe bloggers challenge, Dom at Belleau Kitchen challenged us to use the first cookbook we ever bought or were given. Now I haven't a clue what mine was and if I did have the slightest idea it would probably be a couple of hundred miles away back in my home county of Cumbria. So I changed it a little bit (sorry Dom) to the first cookbook I bought when I left for university all those many moons ago. The cookbook I bought was Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible which I picked up in a charity shop for the absolute bargain price of £3.75.

The recipe I landed on after flicking through was right up my street this time (thankfully) and here it is:

Singapore-Style South-Indian Chicken Curry (serves 4)

2 1/2 tbsp Madras curry powder
4 chicken legs, divided into thigh and drumstick (skinned if you prefer)
3 tbsp corn or peanut oil
6 medium shallots, finely chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
15-20 curry leaves
1 medium cinnamon stick
4-5 dried hot chillies
4 small waxy red potatoes, peeled and halved
1 3/4 tsp salt
350ml can of coconut milk
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 8 pieces

Rub 1 1/2 tbsp of curry powder into the chicken and set aside.
Add the rest to 250ml of water and set aside
Pour the oil into a frying pan
Once hot, add the shallots, half the ginger, half the garlic, curry leaves, cinnamon stick and red chillies
Stir and fry for 5 minutes until golden.
Add the curry powder water mixture.
Stir and cook for about 5 minutes
Transfer everything into a larger pan with a lid and add potatoes, chicken, salt and 250ml of water.
Stir and bring to the boil
Stick the lid on and leave to simmer for 25 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and tamarind
Stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes

It can be left here for several hours if prepping in advance

Reheat if required and add the tomatoes and the remaining ginger and garlic
Cook for a further 5 minutes
Serve with rice.


Very tasty curry, chicken is very tender with a lovely combination of spices. Next time I may reduce the sauce a bit because it was a bit to runny for my liking and use a slightly hotter madras powder.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Carrot and Ginger Cake

Ancient legend states that the humble carrot should always be a savoury vegetable, nowadays we say nay and shove it in cakes. So being a bit bored last night, I decided to have a go at my first ever carrot cake:

Carrot and Ginger Cake

175g Dark Brown Soft sugar
175ml Sunflower oil
3 large Eggs, lightly beaten
180g (ish) Grated Carrots
100g Sultanas
zest of a large Orange
175g Self raising flour
1tsp of Bicarbonate of soda
1tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Ground ginger
thumb sized amount of fresh Ginger, grated
1/2 tsp Nutmeg.

100g Icing sugar
1/2 tsp Mixed spice
1-2tbsp Water

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan)
Line your tin, I used a springform 23cm circle cake tin but you could use a loaf tin, a square tin etc.. cooking time will vary though.
Add the sugar to a mixing bowl, add the oil followed by the eggs. Mix together with a wooden spoon
Stir in the grated carrots, fresh ginger, sultanas and orange zest.
Sift in the flour, bicarb, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Fold all the ingredients together until well combined - should be very runny.
Pour mixture into your cake tin and bake for 40 -45 minutes.
Insert a skewer to check if it is cooked, if it comes out clean it is done.
Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack.

Mix icing sugar and mixed spice in a dish with 1-2 tbsp of water.
Drizzle over cake as desired.

Serve and enjoy.

Monday 18 April 2011

Ale #5 Anchor Steam

Appearance: Golden ale

Aroma: Hoppy, slight caramel

Flavour: Hoppy, Slightly Grainy, hints of caramel. Medium body

Why its on here:
The Anchor Brewery is a small brewery in San Francisco. Anchor steam is it's flagship beer. I first had this on a family holiday to San Francisco when my dad brought me a glass to sneakily drink away from the eyes of the bar and waiting staff (I was 19 and very bitter about being illegal for me to drink again). I wouldnt call it a great beer but drinking it floods back memories of an excellent (albeit a very dry) holiday in a superb city.

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

This months brief for Clandestine Cake Club was Victorian and was held at Harvey Nichols, Leeds.

Now this theme wasn't springing me any inspiration and any idea I did have other people seemed to be doing it, so after a tweet from our host and founder telling me to forget the brief a few ideas for a cake involving rhubarb came to mind especially since the forced rhubarb season is coming to a close and I hadnt done anything with it.

Yorkshire is quite well known for its Rhubarb Triangle consisting of Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield.  Forced rhubarb, if you don't know, is grown in pitch black hot warehouses at an accelerated rate, the absence of light makes the rhubarb feed off energy from its roots and the heat speeds up its growth. This version is a lot sweeter, pinker in colour and less fibrous than its slower grown cousin.

So anyway I had a couple of ideas but the lack of time to experiment lead me to BBC Food in search of a recipe.

Rhubarb and Custard Cake
400g Rhubarb (forced or normal)
50g Caster Sugar

25og Soft butter
150g pot of Ambrosia Custard
250g SR Flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
4 large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
250g Golden Caster sugar

Wash the rhubarb and shake off the excess water
Chop into finger size pieces.
Place on a baking tray and pour over the 50g of caster sugar.
Shake about until well covered and the rhubarb is on one level.
Cover with foil and bake for 15 mins at 180C.
Remove foil and bake for a further five minutes.
Drain off the juices and remove the rhubarb from the tray to cool.
Remove 3 tbsp of the custard from the pot and reserve.
Combine the rest of the custard, butter, flour, golden caster sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and baking powder in a bowl with an electric whisk until smooth and creamy.
Spoon a third of the mixture into a loose bottomed/springform 23cm lined cake tin.
Place a layer of rhubarb over the top.
Top with another third of the mixture, spread out as best as you can.
Place another layer of rhubarb.
Spoon on the remainder of the mixture, don't worry about spreading too neatly.
Top the cake with the remaining rhubarb and dot the remaining custard over the top of it.
Bake in a Preheated oven for 40 minutes
Watch carefully, when the cake top goes golden brown after this time, remove and cover with foil or it will burn like mine nearly did. Cook for a further 20 or so minutes.
Check it is cooked by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean its done.
Leave to cool in the tin.
Remove, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.


Coffee Culture. York

Coffee Culture is a little coffee shop on Goodramgate in York. We headed here after a recommendation on twitter. Coffee Culture is very cosy, set over 3 floors with wooden chairs mixed in with sofas and very comfortable looking window seats with good views over the busy street below.

 We ordered a pot of teapigs breakfast tea, and Australian Skybury Flat White from York Coffee Emporium and a strawberry milkshake.
The coffee was excellent, not my usual drink, being a black coffee and espresso drinker, but after being recommended to try it, I was very impressed and it came with some very nice coffee art.

Service was very good, friendly and speedy

Overall a nice little coffee place and well worth a visit.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Saengarun, Leeds

I've been getting into Thai food recently and we have often pondered visiting some of Leeds Thai restaurants but never actually been to them. I mentioned this on Twitter and @Artemisfoul1812 suggested a little place on Briggate called Saengarun with a very reasonable lunch menu, 2 courses for £9.

The decor is very basic and minimal with a few oriental images around the room, it's pretty much the opposite of the highly decorated rooms of some oriental and Asian restaurants.
We were given the menus to look through and I'm usually not one to stick to a set lunch menu when given the option of the full menu.

I opted for the Poh Teak to start, a Fisherman's soup with squid, mussels and king prawns.
The colour of the broth didn't look very appealing but what it lacked in appeal it more than made up in flavour. It started off with the most intense fish soup flavour combined with all the flavour of the lemongrass, coriander and lime followed by wave after wave of chilli heat. It was superb. The large pieces of seafood were also well cooked. Be warned this may be a touch hot for some as I thought my face was melting at one point, especially as you work down the bowl.

For my main I went for Gaeng Ped Yang, boneless duck in a coconut milk based red curry with pineapple and Thai basil.

After the starter I was not looking forward to this, faced with more heat after the inferno of the first dish, I was about ready to crawl under the table and wave the white flag. Fortunately this wasn't a hot curry, It was however, excellent, a beautiful vivid red curry with huge pieces of soft duck and a sauce with a great depth of flavour.

We didn't get any desserts because we were too stuffed.

Service was good, quick and efficient and we didn't have to wait long for our food. The final total came to £34 for a set lunch menu, 2 courses off the full menu, 2 beers and a coke. Excellent value

I would quite happily put this place as one of my top places to eat in Leeds simply because the food is epically good.

Saengarun Thai on Urbanspoon

Monday 11 April 2011

Ciao Bella, Leeds

On a pleasant Sunday evening and on the hunt for some food that wasn't a Sunday roast, we wandered down to Brewery Wharf and Ciao Bella on Dock Street.
The restaurant was fairly empty and with it being a nice evening we sat outside. We were given the menus and our drinks order taken.
For my starter I opted for a small portion of one of the pasta dishes; Penne all'Arrabiata - pepperoni garlic, chili in a olive oil and tomato sauce.

This was actually quite good, pasta wasn't over cooked and the sauce was vibrant with plenty of tomatoey garlic flavour alongside a very gentle chili heat.

The main however well that's a different story...

I went for Stincotto d'Agnello - shank of lamb, oven cooked with a roast garlic and savoury cabbage in a red wine reduction served with mashed potatoes.
Now the Lamb itself was nicely cooked and the mash was fairly reasonable, what I had a problem with was the sauce. To put it plainly it was weird. It tasted neither like a red wine reduction or of roast garlic, it had some flavour I cant really describe, a bit like a slightly artificial, slightly sweet flavour, it just didn't taste good. The dish needed a proper red wine sauce preferably with a mountain of rosemary. The cabbage was not good either, slightly overcooked and contributed nothing to the overall dish, a slightly steamed savoy cabbage with its vibrant green would have been a much better choice and added a  much needed dimension to the dish.

Service was not brilliant either, it was friendly and if the restaurant was busy we wouldn't have minded the speed of the service because it was very slow but like I said before the restaurant was fairly empty.

On a brighter note, the Italian craft beer, Gradisca, they had on was very nice. Hoppy, refreshing and lovely on a warm spring evening.

Ciao Bella
20 Dock Street,
0113 2469444

Ciao Bella on Urbanspoon