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Sat, 29 Dec 2012

Indian grilled chicken



This was totally improvised.

- Take the skin off some chicken legs and thighs.
- Toss the chicken pieces in a mixture of curry powder and flour.
- Brush with an egg.
- Toss in a mixture of breadcrumbs and polenta.
- Cook in the oven until golden brown.
Meanwhile, make a spinach curry:
- Fry some chopped onions in ghee.
- Make a paste with freshly ground spices added to fresh ginger, garlic and chili.
- Add to the onions, stir well and add a large bunch of fresh spinach leaves, stir over a low heat until the leaves begin to wilt.
- Stir in a little fresh cream or yoghurt and cover to cook through.
I served the chicken on a bed of spinach curry and topped with some yoghurt mixed with a little curry paste. A sprinkling of chopped nuts to garnish.

posted on: 29/12/2012 at 11:25 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Wed, 26 Dec 2012

Christmas Left-Overs

The left-over Turkey Gratin (left) recipe can be found here. This year I topped it with almonds which grilled nicely in the oven - pretty.

The Christmas Pudding Roll was spectacular. Just roll up Christmas Pudding and a grated apple in a few leaves of filo pastry. Grease the individual filo leaves before with melted brandy butter (or bum rutter as we call it). Bake in a hot oven until golden.
Above you can see a slice served with pineapple slices and vanilla ice-cream.

posted on: 26/12/2012 at 16:22 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Fri, 07 Dec 2012

Aumônières au pommes

A spectacular recipe with filo pastry.

- Stew some chopped apples with a little cinnamon, raisons, lemon juice and sugar. Don't overcook, the apples should be soft but not mushy.
- Warm up the oven (hot).
- Place two spoonfuls of the cooled apple mixture onto a sheet of filo pastry and fold up into a little bag. Secure the top with a cocktail stick.
- Brush the "aumônières" with melted butter and cook in a hot oven until lightly brown.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream (or rum and raisin) and homemade shortbread.

posted on: 07/12/2012 at 18:04 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Wed, 28 Nov 2012

Grilled Chicken Salad

This is a quick and dead-easy salad, an oriental version of a Ceasar's Salad I guess.

- Coat some chopped chicken breast in sesame seeds and some spices, I use ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, chilli. Cover with some greaseproof paper and back with a rolling pin so the spicy coating penetrates the chicken pieces.
- Grill on a hot griddle, turning once
- For the sauce, blend honey, lime juice, garlic and a bunch of fresh coriander in the blender. Fold in some greek style yoghurt.
- When cooked, add a little honey and some lemon juice to the griddle pan to coat the chicken.
- Serve on a bed of lettuce with some garlic croutons (optional).

Serving suggestion:
In the photo (right) I cooked a whole chicken breast and sliced it before serving it with a grated carrot salad placed in some chicory (endive) leaves.
Enjoy!

posted on: 28/11/2012 at 16:52 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Fri, 23 Nov 2012

Larry Hagman

Very sad news today about Larry Hagman.
He came to our house a few years ago to be presenter on stage at a nearby music Festival.
In keeping with a recent "Biblical humor" post here, Larry was stoned most of the time he was here. He didn't smoke the stuff, he made cookies and vacuum packed them. When customs officers at the airport would ask what they were, he would say, "those are my cookies, my grandmothers recipe, that's all I ever eat for breakfast. Don't you recognize me? I'm JR, do you want an autograph?".
To cut a long story short, Larry fell over a cable walking onto stage the first night of the festival. He was sufficiently stoned not to be bothered by what was obviously a broken wrist and he continued presenting the show into the early hours. When we finally got him to hospital and they put a plaster on his wrist (see photo left), he said, "this is great, I can't sign any more autographs this week!."
In the end we bought him an ink pad and he would give a thumbprint instead of an autograph.
His wife Maj (also in photo) was very funny too during their visit here. She would say, "I only let Larry out on his pushbike now, but I've got the Ferrari."
Larry would reply "but you never take the Ferrari out, it hasn't been used for so long, the last time we looked at it there was a colony of mice living in the car!"

posted on: 23/11/2012 at 23:00 in category: [/magick] with permanent link

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Mon, 19 Nov 2012

Biblical humour

We've been eating Beef Salad again and delicious home made pizza with anchovies.

On a completely different subject, I was sent this gem today:

It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana being legalized on the same day.

Leviticus 20:13 - "if a man lays with another man he should be stoned." We've just been interpreting it wrong all these years.

posted on: 19/11/2012 at 19:22 in category: [/humour] with permanent link

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Fri, 02 Nov 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

It's been a while since I have cooked Chinese food. This is my variation of an old classic, you can also use pork fillet instead of chicken.

- Fry some chopped onions and mangetout beans in a wok.
- Add some chopped chicken breast (or pork fillet), and cook through.
- Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, tomato purée and stir.
- Add some pineapple chunks and their juice.
- Add a little sherry with some cornflour diluted in it, stir until thickened.
- Serve with rice.

posted on: 02/11/2012 at 18:27 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Sun, 28 Oct 2012

Figs

We have a very strange fig tree. It gives bland, tasteless figs in the early summer and delicious fruit in October. Maybe it's something to do with it growing on top of the filter bed for the septic tank, it must be well fed.

Anyway, we have figs coming out of our ears.

Most of them get made into jam but here are some of the other things I have done with them this week:
- chopped and cooked in the pan with duck breast. Put them in the pan when the duck is nearly cooked, add a little madeira (or similar), and finish cooking until there is a thick sauce.
- in a tart, with some ground almonds.
- with a little cheese on toast, see photo with camembert.
- for breakfast with yoghurt, or even better, fromage blanc made from goats milk.

posted on: 28/10/2012 at 17:51 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Fri, 26 Oct 2012

Swordfish

I came across this at our fishmonger this morning. We live 2 hours from the Atlantic Ocean and 3 hours from the Mediterranean, so the Friday fishmonger is eagerly awaited because we don't get really fresh fish every day.

We have often eaten swordfish in the West Indies and, in fact, you can read the chapter of my online e-book about this by clicking here.

I cook this fish in the simplest of ways, but be careful not to overcook because it can become very dry:
- season the fish with garlic, salt, pepper (or chili flakes) and a drizzle of olive oil
- heat your "plancha" (cast iron griddle) ribbed side upwards.
- grill the fish for about 4 minutes per side, rotate them halfway through if you want to make a pretty griddle pattern as indicated in the photo.
- sprinkle with chopped dill and lime juice to serve.
- Serve with chopped courgettes fried with garlic and some curry powder (freshly ground from spices, of course).

posted on: 26/10/2012 at 16:08 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Sun, 21 Oct 2012

Cooking trip to Paris

Our catering business is doing rather well. This weekend we did another curry tiffin event, this time in Paris.

The chicken curry turned out particularly well:
- make a spice mixture in a small blender. I used freshly ground cardamom, cloves and cinnamon blended together into a paste with fresh lemon grass, a hot chili pepper, a bunch of coriander, lime juice, honey, garlic and ginger.
- fry some onions until translucent, add chopped chicken breast and sliced courgette, cook for 5 minutes.
- add spice paste and continue to stir fry for 1 minute, add coconut milk and simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes or more (until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through, and this depends on how small you have chopped them).
- Serve with rice and garnish with coriander.

In the photo you can see freshly made cucumber raita (strained cucumber, yoghurt, mint and ground cumin), mango chutney, lime pickle and Indian Naan bread (supplied by my dear friend Mark 'N' Spencer)

posted on: 21/10/2012 at 14:00 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Thu, 18 Oct 2012

Chard from the garden



Very successful crop of chard from the garden this year. This wonderful vegetable is sometimes known as "Swiss Chard" and goes under the latin name Beta Vulgaris from which its French name of "Bettes" is derived.

You can eat the leaves and the stalks. I made the following tart with just the leaves:
- fry some onions and the chopped chard leaves, lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes. - roll out a pastry base and line the pie tin. Prick pastry with a fork and heat oven to 200°.
- whisk together two eggs, some milk, some cream and a little cornflour. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Place the cooked chard on the pastry, add some pine kernels, a pinch of cumin seeds, and pour over egg mixture. Cover with grated cheese.
- Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

The tastiest way to prepare the white stalks is to steam them for 20 minutes and then finish them off in a hot oven covered with a cheesy bechamel sauce.

posted on: 18/10/2012 at 10:20 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Wed, 10 Oct 2012

Toad in the Hole with onion gravy


There is that scene in the movie Ratatouille where the food critic zaps back in time to remember the taste of his grandmothers ratatouille when he was a boy. I felt a bit like that when I made this Toad in the Hole - we used to eat this dish regularly when I was young and I had not made it for years and years.
- Make the batter with 285ml of milk, 115g of sieved flour, 3 eggs and a pinch of salt. Leave to stand for a while. You can also make it a few hours in advance and leave it in the fridge.
- Heat the oven until very hot (250°) and lightly brown some sausages in a deep ovenproof dish with some dripping (I use a mix of duck fat and sunflower oil).
- Make sure the fat is sizzling and pour the batter over the sausages.
- Close the oven door quickly (and keep it shut) and cook for 20-25 minutes until the batter had risen and golden.
- For the onion gravy, fry some chopped onions. Add some honey and vinegar and reduce. Add some stock and a little Madeira or Sherry.

posted on: 10/10/2012 at 12:34 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Sat, 29 Sep 2012

Mrs Robinson's Birthday Extravaganza

A lot of people for dinner again:

Mise en bouche - appetizer - Spicy pea soup with fresh goats cheese and toast

Main course - Indian and Indonesian Curry Tiffin buffet

Saag Gosht
A medium hot lamb curry cooked with freshly ground spices, tomatoes, spinach and yoghurt with grilled almonds. North Indian speciality

Kaeng Khieu Wan Kai (Thai Green Curry)
Chicken and vegetables cooked in coconut milk and basil. Extremely spicy and guaranteed to transform any night into an unforgettable event (just don't ask why!)

Dahl
Coral lentils cooked to a purée with fresh chillies. Typical daily dish eaten throughout the Indian sub-continent, medium spicy stodge designed to prepare the stomach for the gastronomic onslaught to come

Vegetable Biryani
Basmati rice and vegetables cooked with spices, eggs, herbs and nuts. A variation of the traditional dish prepared for weddings and feasts through Southern Asia. Essential for calming down the ardour evoked by the other dishes.

Indonesian beef salad
Grilled beef marinated in lime, fish sauce, spices and fresh herbs. Extremely spicy but nevertheless an excellent antidote for cooling down the passion evoked by the previous dish. Separate bedrooms should still be kept as an option and recommended emergency backup plan.

Gado Gado
Cucumber and cooked vegetables in a salad with peanut sauce. Misleadingly cool and refreshing as the delayed action peanut chillie dressing bites into your taste buds and explodes into an unforgettable orgasmic experience.

Condiments (home-made) (well mostly) -
- Lime Pickles
- Fresh Banana and coconut Chutney
- Cucumber Raita
- Fig Chutney
- Green tomato Chutney
- Fresh tomato, coriander and onion Chutney

Green salad

Musical interlude

Verrines with fruit compote and chocolate Birthday cake

Musical interlude

Cheese platter

After........

posted on: 29/09/2012 at 12:14 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Tue, 25 Sep 2012

Chilli harvest and Thai curry

It's that time of year again. The chillies have been very successful this year.
We did Espelette, of course, but also some very hot and tasty long peppers which I used to make a Thai Green Curry paste.
- Just put the following ingredients into a food processor:
» fresh chillies
» garlic
» a large bunch of coriander, stalks and all
» a little kapi (Thai shrimp paste)
» honey or sugar
» a dash of sesame oil
» vegetable oil
» crushed lemon grass
» light soy sauce
» lime juice

Fry this paste in the wok with your curry ingredients, add coconut milk.

posted on: 25/09/2012 at 12:17 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Wed, 30 May 2012

La Table des Cordeliers in Condom

We discovered this restaurant in the beautiful town of Condom in Gascony.




The chef, Éric Sampietro, has taken the risk of proposing an all-vegetarian menu which, actually, was better than the fish and meat menu, at least to our liking (we tried both menus).
You can find his website here: www.latabledescordeliers.com.

posted on: 30/05/2012 at 14:58 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Mon, 28 May 2012

El Portalet in Bossòst

Guess which restaurant we've been to...again.





posted on: 28/05/2012 at 09:58 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Mon, 21 May 2012

Bee Gees

Sad news today about Robin Gibb
I always wondered about his teeth, especially in the early days.
I thought their early hit "Massive Chew Sets" was a tribute to his dentist.

posted on: 21/05/2012 at 22:39 in category: [/humour] with permanent link

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Tue, 28 Feb 2012

Instant pizza


This pizza is inspired by Tony, the chef at Teatro in Dubai, who makes the most delicious lemon grass, chilli and gorgonzola pizzas. This takes just a few minutes to make.
- Heat the top grill in the oven.
- Blend chopped lemon grass, fresh chillies, mozzarella cheese, blue cheese and a cherry tomato in an electric mixer. It should be a paste consistency.
- Spread the paste onto tortilla wraps or any kind of flat bread.
- Cook under a hot grill until browned and bubbling.

posted on: 28/02/2012 at 14:36 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Fri, 17 Feb 2012

Fennel, Radish and Spinach salad


Fennel is a very under-estimated vegetable. It is very tasty, both cooked and raw. Here is a salad recipe which, I confess, is an adaptation of a Jamie Oliver recipe.
- Trim the dirty leaves off the outside of the fennel.
- Cut the fennel bulb into four pieces and put through the slicer of a food processor. It needs to be shredded finely but not "pulp". You can keep the fine spidery leaves on the fennel they add flavor.
- Wash a bunch of radishes, break off the dirty outer leaves but leave the others leaves. You need fresh, crisp radishes, if they are a little soft, plunge them into iced water and soak for 30 minutes.
- Put the bunch of radishes, leaves side down, through the slicer.
- Mix together with the sliced fennel.
- Add salt, pepper, crushed garlic, olive oil and a lot of lemon juice.
I add some baby spinach shoots or a lot of parsley to add some colour.

posted on: 17/02/2012 at 15:09 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Sun, 12 Feb 2012

Whitney Houston

Very strange yesterday. We have a couple of Northern Lapwings that turned up in the garden. They came to the window and I saw them watching Dionne Warwick being interviewed on the telly. I had a memory of my encounter with Whitney Houston.
I was at the Fairmont in Dubai and coming back from a long day at the office, I went down to the pool for a swim. The sunset pool, pictured here on the right.
This beautiful girl down the other end of the pool with a little girl, no doubt her daughter, shouted very loudly "wow look at that handsome muscular man coming into the pool".
It took a while for me to realize that she was talking about me. Obviously I had an admirer.
I sort of gently swam over in her direction, she was smiling at me invitingly.
At that point this large gorilla-like bodyguard guy arrived from no-where and looked at me as if I was swimming in the wrong direction and maybe turning around and swimming the other way would be a good idea.
And that is what I did.
"That's Whitney Houston" someone muttered to me discretely as I dried off in the setting sun. She indeed had a concert in Dubai that same night.
Sad day today.

posted on: 12/02/2012 at 17:58 in category: [/magick] with permanent link

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Sat, 11 Feb 2012

Pad Thai noodles


This is a dead easy Thai fried noodles dish and quite delicious. Contributed by the lovely Laure Martin.
You do need some special ingredients but these can all be found in most oriental food shops.
- First make some Pad Thai sauce, you can actually buy this ready-made but if you want to make it yourself just mix some tamarind paste (or lime juice if you can't find it), crushed chilli pepper, some fresh ginger, brown sugar, Thai fish sauce, sweet soy sauce and a little lemon grass in an electric mixer (use the soft centre of the lemon grass, not the hard outer skin).
- Put some rice noodles to soak in some hot water, for 10 minutes or more, do not cook them.
- Fry some shredded chicken and chopped spring onions in a wok.
- Add some cooked baby peeled shrimp, some beansprouts, the Pad Thai sauce and the drained noodles.
- Cook through tossing the wok constantly.
- Serve decorated with crushed peanuts and fresh coriander.

There are many variations of this dish, adding whole large shrimps and tofu to the stir fry is the most frequently seen version. You can also add some eggs to the wok to make some scrambled eggs before adding the noodles and the beansroouts.

posted on: 11/02/2012 at 18:14 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Wed, 08 Feb 2012

Steak and Kidney Crumble


I cooked this variation of a classic English dish in my woodstove.
- Fry some chopped onions
- Add some bite-sized chunks of stewing beef and some chopped kidneys (clean them first).
- When brown add some cinnamon, mild paprika (or black pepper) and a little flour.
- Add tomato paste and red wine and keep stirring until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Put into a casserole dish and add more red wine or stock to nearly cover the meat. Cover and cook in a medium oven for an hour and a half or more.
- Mix some flour, butter and a little grated blue cheese until you get a crumbly mixture.
- Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Mix in some chopped mushrooms and cover with the crumble mixture.
- Put back into the oven (this time without the lid) for about 30 minutes until the crumble is brown.

posted on: 08/02/2012 at 17:40 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Sun, 05 Feb 2012

Catalan Meatballs

I went up to the top of the Pyrenees to a most beautiful region called Cerdagne. This trip back down in deep snow (we had snow chains on the car fortunately) was scary but beautiful.
I discovered this Catalan meatball recipe which I adapted with my Stuffed Cabbage recipe below. If you want to do the original Catalan recipe, just leave out the cabbage.
- Boil some cabbage leaves just for a few minutes ("blanching")
- Choose the biggest leaves to be stuffed.
- Mix together some sausage meat and minced beef (50/50), parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs, chili pepper, and two eggs.
- Put some flour on your hands and make some golfball sized meatballs.
- Fry the meatballs until brown on all sides.
- Stuff two cabbage leaves with the sausage meat mixture and roll up into little packets, if you're doing my version, if not just place the fried meatballs in an ovenproof dish.
- place in an ovenproof dish and set aside.
- Fry an onion and a few chopped carrots. Season well and add some chopped tomatoes or some tomato paste, and plenty of stock.
- Pour the sauce over the meatballs (or cabbage packets) until nearly covered.
- Add some olives - cook for 45 minutes or more (check carrots are cooked through) in a moderate oven
- Serve with a baked potato.

posted on: 05/02/2012 at 12:58 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Sun, 22 Jan 2012

Stuffed Cabbage


This is so easy and quite delicious.
- Boil some cabbage leaves just for a few minutes ("blanching")
- Choose the biggest leaves to be stuffed and chop the remainder.
- Mix together some sausage meat, the chopped cabbage, and two eggs.
- Add some flavoring, I use garlic and a lot of sage but you can use your imagination, ginger and chili works well, mustard too.
- stuff two cabbage leaves with the sausage meat mixture
- roll up into little packets
- place in an ovenproof dish and half fill with white wine or stock
- cook for 30 minutes in a moderate oven

posted on: 22/01/2012 at 10:15 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Tue, 17 Jan 2012

Smoked Chicken

You can cook almost anything with this method, it's rather fun.
- Baste some chicken breasts in a mixture of lemon juice, honey, soy sauce, chilli pepper and olive oil. Leave to marinate for a while.
- Line the bottom of a heavy wok with a double layer of aluminum foil.
- Place a mixture of tea leaves, rice, sugar, mixed whole chinese spice, a cinnamon stick and place on the heat. Because of the smoke, it's best to do this recipe outside if possible, otherwise make sure you put the kitchen fan on. Place a grill in the wok over the dry ingredients and cover.
- When the wok starts smoking, place the chicken breasts on the grill, cover and leave for 30 minutes. If there is too much smoke, lower the heat.
- Serve hot or cold with a salad.

Try smoking fish in this way, or sliced dick breast. Use just tea leaves and sugar to make the smoke if you want a more delicate flavor.

posted on: 17/01/2012 at 13:03 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Wed, 04 Jan 2012

Flambé scallops
Fry some scallops Add some pastis Set fire to the pan Add a little cream, decorate with parsley Serve with rice

posted on: 04/01/2012 at 12:04 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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Tue, 03 Jan 2012

Cassoulet


- fry some chopped smokey bacon or lardons
- add some chopped onions and carrots
- add a little red wine and some crushed tomatoes
- add a tin or two of cooked beans (depending on how many people you are cooking for)
- add some sage, rosemary and parsley, season and simmer for ten minutes
- place everything in an ovenproof dish and add sausages and some chunks of bread (diced)
- cook in the oven (200 degrees C) for an hour
- remove from oven and add spinach shoots, mix well before serving, the spinach gets cooked with the heat from the bean dish

posted on: 03/01/2012 at 19:10 in category: [/cooking] with permanent link

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