Tuesday 30 July 2013

Easy Dal Curry with Veggies

I’ve made this several times, and each time I add something different, and change it up. It’s so versatile and can be used in so many different ways. I enjoy this as a simple bowl of goodness with a piece of naan bread and a dollop of yogurt and chutney. This also makes amazing leftovers so keep them to eat them! The recipe itself serves about 4. Enjoy.

1 c. Dal – red split lentils
1 eggplant
1 large onion
1 chili
1 green pepper
3 large tomatoes (can use tinned)
2 medium potatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. curry paste (I use madras)
3 cups water
1-2 tbsp. butter
Mango chutney

To start:
Chop up the potatoes and add to a large saucepan with the lentils, cumin, half the ginger, coriander, turmeric and water. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cover.

While that’s cooking, chop/dice the eggplant, onion, green pepper, chilli.
In a pan big enough to hold all the veggies, heat the butter until melted and add the chopped vegetables, and crush in the garlic.
Stir around until veggies become fragrant and then add the curry paste, fenugreek seeds, and remaining ginger, continuously stirring.

To finish:
Once the veggies have softened, add them to the lentils and potatoes and stir around. You may need to add a bit of water if it’s too thick.
Dice the tomatoes and toss in.
Salt to taste and leave to simmer for about 10 more minutes.
Serve hot with naan bread, or rice, and a dollop of chutney and yogurt.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Gina's Texan BBQ Sauce

A few months ago I put together a little party and had a pulled pork roast in the oven. I made a BBQ sauce that accompanied it, and it was so delicious and I got such great reviews I have decided to post the recipe. I’m sure that a lot of Texans will find it very easy to find this type of BBQ sauce at their local shop, but here in the UK there’s nothing like it. To make it I did have to import a few secret weapons and use my secret stash of ingredients from back home. I understand that many won’t be able to get some of these ingredients, but for those who can this makes a delicious BBQ sauce and will be a hit on all of your BBQ dishes! Enjoy.

700g ketchup (about 2-3cups)
½ c. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. French’s American mustard
½ c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. liquid smoke (mesquite)
1 tbsp. fiesta steak seasoning
2 tbsp. HP sauce
1 c. store bought BBQ sauce (any kind will do)
Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Couple dashes of soy sauce

To cook:
Dump all these ingredients into a pan and bring up to a simmer. Not too fast or you’ll be wearing it!
Simmer for about 30 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning. You might want to add more steak seasoning, or more liquid smoke depending on your tastes.
Cool completely and put into a jar, will last in the fridge several months sealed properly.

Note: If you want to make this and want to make your own steak seasoning here is a quick guide for the spices involved:
Cracked black pepper
Chilli powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Brown sugar

I would add equal portions of these and adjust as necessary. Good luck!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Spicy Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya

I have made this recipe before, but I wanted to make an original version without any subsitutions because the previous recipe was made with reduced fat sausage and brown rice. Which is wonderful, but I was interested in the original version for this recipe. It’s a very large recipe so I cut it in half, if you want to feed a crowd I would suggest doubling it, and you might even have leftovers for the fridge! I like my jambalaya spicy, but you can add any level of spice that you prefer. Also I know that in the US it might be harder to get hold of Spanish chorizo, just use any pork sausage smoked with a lot of flavour. Enjoy!

250g chicken breasts diced
100g Spanish chorizo
1 red pepper
1 large onion
6 spring onions
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 c long grain rice
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
½ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. salt
1 chicken stock cube
2-3 c. boiling water
1 tbsp. olive oil

To start:
Dice onions, peppers, chicken and chorizo. Crush the garlic and set aside separately.
Slice the spring onions and halve the cherry tomatoes and set aside.

To cook:
In a large deep pan heat the oil until hot, and then add the chicken and chorizo. Stir constantly about 5 minutes.
To that add the brown sugar and garlic, stirring continuously. 3 minutes.
Next add the peppers and onion stir around for a further 3 minutes.
Next add the rice and 1 tbsp. paprika, stir until incorporated.
Add cayenne, salt, chicken stock cube, Cajun seasoning, remaining 1 tbsp. paprika and 2 cups of water.
Bring up to a boil, then turn down to low heat and cover for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes check for doneness, you might need to add a little more water.
Add the more than half the spring onions and half the cherry tomatoes (leave some for garnish), cover for a further 5 minutes.
Adjust seasoning and stir thoroughly. Serve immediately.

Note: This is a great recipe with shrimp as well!

Friday 19 July 2013

BBQ Turkey Meatloaf with Bulgar

Who doesn’t love meatloaf? I certainly do, and it’s so easy to make. It’s a great week night meal, and makes excellent leftovers. I’m not a huge fan of leftovers but I will always make a meatloaf sandwich! I used turkey breast mince for this but you can use any type of mince you want. I personally find that using turkey breast tastes better and doesn’t make you feel as weighed down as beef or pork, combined with the bulgar wheat that I added it just keeps it lighter. This easily serves 4, and will make leftovers as well.

500g turkey breast mince
½ red pepper
1 small onion
1 stalk celery
¼ c. bulgar wheat
2 eggs
200g tinned tomatoes (half a can, you can use fresh though)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. pepper
½ - 1 c. BBQ sauce

To Start:
Preheat oven to 190C or 375F
Dice pepper onion celery.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients except the BBQ sauce (mixing with hands is best!).

To Cook:
In a small oven dish, place the meatloaf mixture in and spread it out.
Pour the BBQ sauce on top and spread around creating an even layer.
Pop in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done because the meat will pull away from the sides and be bubbly in the middle.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas

I know what you’re thinking, what am I doing in London trying to make quesadillas?! Well, thankfully they have tortillas here and lots of different kinds of cheeses so it’s easy for me to make something up! I had wanted to try this idea for a while, cubed Spanish chorizo with potatoes peppers and cheese, but what cheese was it going to be was the question? Since this was the biggest challenge, I had to do some research and tasting. I was wanting a bit of queso fresco, but since that wasn’t going to happen I made due with some Lancashire cheese, which is wonderfully melty and crumbly. I would suggest anyone getting Spanish chorizo for this, as Mexican chorizo is too greasy, and not firm like a sausage like Spanish chorizo. This recipe will make about 2 large quesadillas. Enjoy!


4 large tortillas
1 chorizo ring (200g)
1 clove garlic
1 green bell pepper
1 chilli
½ onion
1 c. grated Lancashire cheese (or any melty cheese you like)
1 tbsp. oil

To Start:
Scrub the potato and poke holes into it with a knife, stick it in the microwave for 4 minutes. (You can fry it in the pan, but who has time for that?)
Dice the green pepper, chorizo and onion.
Crush the garlic.
Grate your cheese.
When the potato is done and cooled, dice it in small chunks.

To Cook and Assemble:

Heat a little oil in a pan until hot; when hot add the chorizo, potatoes, peppers, onion and garlic.
When the peppers are soft and the potatoes are crispy, turn off heat and set aside.
On a comal or cast iron skillet, heat the tortillas, after you turn them once, place some of the filling around the whole surface of the tortilla, top with grated cheese and place another tortilla on top.
Press down with a spatula making sure that the cheese melts.
Flip carefully (I recommend a very large spatula). Once flipped and the cheese is melted in keeping both tortillas together you can remove from heat and repeat for the next one.
Cut your quesadillas in four slices and enjoy!

Monday 15 July 2013

Jerky Duck Legs with Rice and Peas

I’ve really wanted to try to do a jerk marinade because I absolutely love sweet and savoury flavours. Although I haven’t eaten a whole lot of Caribbean food, I have taken inspiration from a jerk seasoning and made my own. It’s not something you have to make yourself but it’s a fun extra step. You can also use a marinade and jazz it up a little with fresh ginger and spices to wake up the flavours. Also I’m sure this dish could go well with chicken legs as well, I just happened to have the duck legs around. I love the rice and peas as a side dish, it’s just rice cooked in coconut milk with some kidney beans mixed in. Really delicious and easy to make! The marinade is easily enough for 4 legs. Enjoy!

For Duck and Marinade:
1 large onion
¼ c. vegetable oil
½ c. orange juice
¼ c. soy sauce
¼ c. brown sugar
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice
2 large hot chillies (scotch bonnet)
1 thumb size knob of ginger
1 tsp. thyme
2 duck legs

For the Rice:
1 c. basmati rice
400ml coconut milk
150ml water
1 400g tin kidney beans
1 bunch green onions

To start:
Put every ingredient (except duck legs) into a food processor or blender, don’t worry about peeling anything.
Blitz it up until it’s a fine puree.
Stab the legs a few times with a knife or fork, and pour marinade over legs. Ideally a zip lock bag.
Store in the fridge for at least 2hrs but the longer the better.

To cook:
Preheat oven to 190C or 375F.
Place legs in a small roasting tin and pour a small portion of the marinade over the legs.
Cover with foil and bake 1hr.
Uncover the foil and let bake for a further 15 minutes.

For the Rice:
Bring rice, coconut milk and water up to a boil.
Turn down to low heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to the rice when soft and cooked.
Chop green onions and add to rice and bean mixture.
Serve warm with the roasted duck legs.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Orange Dark Chocolate

I decided to blog about these cookies because they came out so good. I have made this recipe before based on another online recipe, but I altered it to make it my own of course. These are so easy and fast to make, it took me twenty minutes in all to whip them up. My neighbour had a birthday and I wanted to give her a little something. This was the perfect recipe, as it only yields about eight cookies. So they are perfect if you just are hankering for something sweet, but don’t want 50 cookies staring you in the face! These cookies are everything you want in a cookie, thick, chewy and not too sweet. Enjoy!

110g (½ c.) butter softened
130g (2/3 c.) light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
90g (3/4 c.) flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg (small pinch)
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
130g (1 ½ c.) porridge oats
150g (1 c.) raisins
50g (half a bar)Lindt dark chocolate and orange bar bashed up

To make:
I generally start by mixing up the egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth next all of the dry ingredients.
Add the raisins and chocolate last.

Preheat an oven to 175C or 350F and bake these for about 10-15 minutes. I give such a big time frame because I personally like mine at about 13 minutes but it might be too soft for someone else.
Cool on a rack and serve warm!

Note: You can use any type of chocolate, but this is the kind I used. These also can have ½ c. walnuts added without the chocolate if you just want oatmeal raisin!

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Gina's El Charro Pinto Beans

This is just my recipe for pinto beans, and one of my most requested recipes. This recipe can also be borracho beans, which are traditionally with beer, but I generally prefer without, but still love all of the peppers and onions added to the beans. It just adds a different flavour that I think adds a lot of depth. There are so many things to do with the beans after they’re done cooking so I made a section at the bottom with a few ideas in case you’re stumped for ideas! This will feed a giant crowd, and can also be cut in half for practicality if you don’t have a large pot. Enjoy!

500g dried pinto beans
½ green bell pepper
1 large onion
200g smoked bacon or ham hock
2 tsp. black pepper
100g ( ¼ can) diced tomatoes
2 jalepenos or chillies
1 bunch of coriander
3 cloves garlic
salt to taste

To start:
Rinse the beans until nice and clean and pick out any stones or anything else foreign.
Place the beans in a large pot of water, cover them by at least 3-4 inches.
Turn on the heat to high.
Chop onions, chillies, bacon, bell pepper, and garlic.
Add to the pan along with the pepper.
Do not add salt! (yet)

To cook:
Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer for about 2.5-4hrs.
They are ready to test at about 2.5hrs and cook to your desired softness.
You can now add salt to taste, as well as the tomatoes.
Add handful of chopped coriander when you take it off the heat.

To EAT: (A new section!)
You can do so many things with these beans.
Eat them as a ‘soup’.
Mash them up and make a bean dip.
Mash and make ‘refried beans’.
Add to a chili.
Have as a side dish to any meat.
Freeze what you won’t use in 2 days. It will be good for several months in the freezer.

Note: As a general rule it’s important not to salt beans at the start of cooking. Waiting until the end lends a softer bean and more flavorful in my opinion.

Thursday 4 July 2013

Bisquick Strawberry Shortcakes

I absolutely love this recipe for when strawberries are in season as they are now. I can’t get good angel food cake to make my mom’s strawberry shortcake so my default is the bisquick biscuits! This is definitely a classic betty crocker recipe, but as usual I always try to put a little spin on it to make it special, and go that extra mile to make it taste delicious. You can make as many or as little biscuits as you want, what you do is follow the bisquick biscuit recipe for however many you are going to need. I cut mine in half so I could make two giant biscuits. For the British cooks, you they have bisquick now, and I just looked and it’s now actually called Bisquick too! This serves two very large portions, but you can adjust as you like! Enjoy!

For the Biscuits:
1 ¼ c. Bisquick
2/3rd c. milk (maybe less, add gradually to see, you want a dough consistency)
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch cinnamon

For the Strawberries:
450g strawberries
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. golden caster sugar (you can use regular sugar, I find that caster dissolves faster)

100ml double cream – get the good stuff, go on
1.5 tbsp. caster sugar

To start:
Remove all of the stems from the strawberries and slice.
Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and stir to combine. Set aside while you’re tending to the other items.
Stir frequently.
Give them at least 20-30 minutes to macerate.

For the cream, add the sugar and whip either by hand or in a food processor until thick and gorgeous.
Set aside in the fridge.

For the biscuits:
Preheat the oven 220C (or 450F).
To the flour add sugar and cinnamon, mix thoroughly.
Slowly add half of the milk and stir, add more gradually a little at a time, you want it to form a dough, and not be too wet or sticky.
Place on a floured surface and roll into a ball and pat down until it’s about 2 inches thick, take a glass or biscuit cutter and cut out a biscuit, mix the dough together and repeat for the second biscuit.
Place in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
When the biscuits are all done pop them open, spread some thick cream on top, then add the strawberries making sure to get the juice on the biscuits. Add some cream on top and you’re ready to go!

Monday 1 July 2013

Mixed Seafood Paella

I love paella and it’s so easy to make at home. I know a lot of us don’t have a huge cast iron paella pan with a large gas flame, but it’s really simple to imitate it at home. I absolutely love this dish and I have it many different ways, however I’m writing to share the simplest version I make which is mixed seafood. You can use any seafood for this, I tend to buy the seafood selection packages, with muscles, squid, and prawns, and I also add an extra package of prawns because I love them. Other popular editions are Spanish chorizo, and chicken breasts or anything you’d like. This recipe serves 2-3, and is so simple! Enjoy!

1 c. sushi rice (I like short grain for this but you could use Arborio or American long grain as well)
200g mixed seafood
100g prawns
1 lemon cut into wedges
10 strands saffron
2 garlic cloves crushed
½ c. frozen peas
½ red pepper sliced
½ onion sliced
1 cube of fish bullion (I use knorr stock pots – they dissolve in hot water)
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. boiling water
pinch of salt and pepper to taste

To start:
Get all of the ingredients together and ready to use, peas, saffron, stock cube pot etc…
Get the onion and red pepper sliced.
Boil the water.

To Cook:
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat, when really hot add the onion, and pepper and stir around for a few minutes.
Next add the rice and stir constantly.
Next add the garlic, seafood, peas, stock, water, and salt (not too much, the stock has salt).
Sprinkle the saffron threads around – remember to only use a tiny pinch.
Arrange the lemon wedges around the pan.
Bring up to a vigorous boil and turn down to the lowest heat and cover.
Cook for 15 minutes or until rice is done and fluffy.

Note: In traditional paella the goal is to have a crispy layer on the bottom that compliments the soft texture of the rice. I haven’t been able to recreate that without using a cast iron pan, I find it just as lovely without it. And it’s so much simpler not having to worry about burning the bottom!