Monday, September 26, 2016

Aromatic Vegetable Curry

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here. 

To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #9, click here


My selected cookbook for this month at Cookbook Countdown #9 is 500 Curries, by Mridula Baljekar.

I've made Aromatic Vegetable Curry with Mushrooms and Beans. I have made a few changes to the recipe. This is pretty much a basic vegetable curry, and you can use whatever veggies you have in your fridge. I did not have any mushrooms, but I have a quarter of a cabbage left, so I've used that instead. Instead of using butter to saute the spices, I've replaced with canola oil. And have substitute the heavy cream with coconut milk.

Also the recipe indicated that after the veggies are cooked, they are removed to a plate, then the curry liquid is heated until it has reduced a little. At this point, season with salt and pepper, stir in the yoghurt, cream and garam masala. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and serve immediately with rice. I have, however, did it differently. I did not remove the veggies from the curry gravy, but added the yoghurt, coconut milk and garam masala along with the salt and pepper during the last ten minutes or so of cooking the curry. And I have increased the amount of spices, using 1-1/2 times more than indicated in the recipe.

This is a very mild curry (even though with the increased amount of spices). And according to the author "here the aim is to produce a subtle curry rather than an assault on the senses".  Seeing how mild this curry is, it would be great as a side dish along with some spicy dry meat curry served with rice.

Aromatic Vegetable Curry 
(adapted from "500 Curries", Mridula Baljekar)
Serves 4
50gm (1/4 cup) butter (I use canola oil)
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 in piece fresh root ginger, grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
6 cardamom pods
2 in piece of cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 potato, peeled and cut into 1 in cubes
1 small aubergine (eggplant), chopped
115gm (1-1/2 cups) mushrooms, thickly sliced (I use cabbages, shred to chunky pieces)
3/4 cup water
115gm green beans, cut into 1 in lengths
4 tbsp natural plain yoghurt
2/3 cup double (heavy) cream (I use coconut milk)
1 tsp garam masala
salt and ground black pepper
fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish
plain boiled rice, to serve

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy pan. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the cumin, coriander, cardamom pods, cinnamom stick, turmeric and finely chopped chilli. Cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the potato cubes, aubergine and mushrooms and the water. Cover the pan, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the beans to the pan and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables to a warmed serving, dish and keep hot.
  4. Allow the cooking liquid to bubble up until it has reduced a little. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the yoghurt, double cream and garam masala. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve the curry immediately with plain boiled rice.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #9 hosted by 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fish Steaks in Chraimeh Sauce

It's Potluck Week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For this week, I've cooked with Yotam Ottolenghi, a fish dish taken from his cookbook "Jerusalem". 

According to Ottolenghi, Chraimeh is the "queen" of all dishes, just as famous as gefilte fish (another fish dish) for Tripolitan (Libyan) Jews. Families pride themselves on their particular chraimeh. This dish certainly looks delicious from the photo in the book. At a glance it looks like fish cooked in sambal sauce, but upon reading the ingredients list, it is entirely different. 

He has advised to use any type of white fish meat, the best would be large sea bass. In the recipe, he has used salmon because they are the most widely available as steaks. I have used snapper steaks. He has suggested to double the sauce since it is so tasty, so that there is more to dip with bread, or serve with couscous or rice. I have made one and a half times more of the sauce.

To prepare the sauce, first dry-toasted some caraways seeds, then ground. Caraway seeds has a lovely minty fragrant, but once they are dry-toasted, they smell incredibly nice. The ground caraway is then mixed in a food processor or blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients ; garlic, sweep paprika, ground cumin, cayenne, ground cinnamon, green chilli and oil, to a thick paste.

The fish steaks are coated with some seasoned flour, heat some oil in a skillet and sear on high heat on both sides until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove and put aside. Heat some oil in the skillet, fry the spice paste for just 30 seconds, then add some water and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer, add some sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Put the fish in the sauce, bring to a gentle simmer, cover the pan and cook until the fish is just done, depending on the size of the fish, about 7-11 minutes. I turned the fish halfway during cooking. Remove from the heat, take the cover off the pan and leave to cool down. Serve just warm or at room temperature, with some chopped coriander and a wedge of lemon.

This is quite delicious! We had it at room temperature and it tastes even better when I tasted it right after cooking. I did not squeeze the lemon juice over because the sauce is good as it is. But be sure to add lots of chopped coriander, it makes the dish taste even better! 

Salmon Steaks In Chraimeh Sauce
(adapted from "Jerusalem", by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)
110ml sunflower oil
3 tbsp plain flour
4 salmon steaks, on the bone, about 950gm (I use snapper)
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp caraway seeds, dry-toasted and freshly ground
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp cayenne
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 green chilli, roughly chopped
150ml water
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp caster sugar
1 lemon, cut into four wedges, plus 2 tbsp lemon juice (1 tablespoon lemon juice)
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
salt and black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the sunflower oil in a large frying pan for which you have a lid. Place the flour in a shallow bowl, season generously with salt and pepper then toss the fish in it. Shake off the excess flour and sear on a high heat for a minute or two on each side, until golden. Remove the fish and wipe the pan clean.
Place the garlic, spices, chilli and 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a food processor and blitz to form a thick paste. You might need to add a little bit more of the oil to bring everything together.
Pour the remaining oil into the fyring pan, heat well and add the spice paste. Stir and fry it for just 30 seconds, so that the spices don't burn. Quickly but carefully (it may spot!), add the water and tomato puree to stop the spices cooking. Bring to a simmer and add the sugar, lemon juice, 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Taste for seasoning.
Put the fish in the sauce, bring to a gentle simmer, cover the pan and cook for 7-11 minutes, depending on the size of the fish, until it is just done. Remove the pan from the heat, take off the lid and leave to cool down. Serve the fish just warm or at room temperature, garnished with coriander and a wedge of lemon.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
IHCC September Potluck!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pepperoni and Egg Breakfast Tart

Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is a baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  This is a "spin-off" from our on-going monthly Cookbook Countdown. Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is for baking desserts ; pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, breads. While the monthly Cookbook Countdown is to use from one selected cookbook each month, for CC Specials : Bake, you may use any baking cookbooks of your choice, either from one single cookbook or from numerous books. The link is open from July to end September. You may link your post here. Do join us, everyone is welcome!

To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #9, click here


A savoury bake that is perfect for brunch or as a light lunch. It is quick, easy and delicious. If you have a pack of frozen puff pasty in the freezer, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, and by breakfast or lunch time the next day, you will be able to serve this savoury tart in less than half an hour.

The actual recipe is named Bacon-And-Egg Breakfast Tarts, but I do not have any bacon. However, I do have a pack of pepperoni which I wanted to use up. The pepperoni makes a delicious substitute. Or even slices of ham will be good too.

I've made this tart before with bacon, when I first purchased this book. And we really enjoyed it at that time. Definite worth a repeat! I've used a 4 inch square of puff pastry sheet bought from the supermarket, makes it so much easier, as there's really no need to measure and cut to size. Perfect size for individual serving.

The puff pastry is scored on all sides to make a border, then spread in the centre of the pastry to the cut lines,  with a mixture of cheddar cheese and sour cream. Bacon or pepperoni slices are pan-fried just until barely crisped. Place a few pieces on the cheese mixture and bake the tart in a preheated oven until the pastry is puffed, crispy and golden, takes about 15-18 minutes. Meanwhile fry the eggs to your liking.

When the pastry is ready, place a fried egg on top of each one, sprinkle some black pepper and chopped chives over, and serve immediately. With a cup of warm tea, would be very nice.

I drizzled some hot sauce over my eggs. Yums! Enjoy!

In the author's own words "Make these for a special brunch, especially if you want to impress your friends or in-laws."  

Pepperoni-And-Egg Breakfast Tarts
(adapted from Home Baked Comforts, by Kim Laidlaw)
makes 6 tarts
1 sheet purchased frozen puff pastry, about 10 x 14 inches (25x35cm), thawed
3/4 cup (3oz/90gm) shredded white Cheddar or Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup (2-1/2 oz/75gm) creme fraiche or sour cream
12 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
6 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh chives

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F (200C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a rectangle about 12x15 inches (30x38cm). Trim the edges (I like to use a pizza wheel and a ruler to cut puff pastry). Cut the rectangle into 6 equal rectangles, each about 5x6 inches (13x15cm). Using a small, sharp knife, cut a line around each rectangle about 1/2 inch (12mm) from the edge. Do not cut all the way through; you just want to create a ridge when the pastry is baked. Using a fork, prick the pastry inside the line all over. Lay the rectangle on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate while you prepare the toppings.
In a small bowl, stir together the shredded cheese and creme fraiche. In a large frying pan (it's best to choose a nonstick pan with a lid, so you only have to clean one pan), fry the bacon over medium-low heat until just barely crisped, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Discard the fat in the pan.
Dollop a spoonful of the cheese mixture in the center of each pastry rectangle and spread it out to the cut line. Roughly chop the bacon and sprinkle it over the cheese mixture. Bake until the pastry is puffed, crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.
While the pastry is baking, fry the eggs. In the large frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Crack the eggs into the pan. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover the pan (this is a handy trick for making beautiful over-easy eggs) and cook until the whites are cooked through and the yolks are still a bit runny.
Place the tarts on warmed plates and top each with a fried egg. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

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