Monthly Archives: March 2011

Extra Strong!

Just a quick note, re the “Extra Strong” Canadian flour from Waitrose. Was throwing together some dough for a small loaf, not really concentrating*, and ended up with a loose, but only slightly too sticky dough. Subsequently peered at the water jug and realised that I’d used it all, so was consequently working with 100% hydration, and the dough wasn’t pouring off the bench. In fact it made a rather tasty loaf with more oven spring and bigger holes than usual.

Must try this again. Soon.

*I don’t have a solution to insomnia, but will sometimes while away the hours by making bread, rather than just lying awake in bed feeling sorry for myself. The results are sometimes erratic when I’m not awake as I think.


Korma Chameleon

A quintessentially English dish, which comes from some hastily scribbled notes made in the mid nineties. Make this with skinless chicken breasts, or pork fillets. You could also use some diced lamb leg. If you’re doing a vegetable version, some hacked up butternut squash and broccoli would be good.

This isn’t a quick fix meal, as you need to make the marinade, do the marinating, and then bake the results, but, with a bit of planning this can be really handy, as you can make the marinade in advance, marinate during the day when you’re at work, and then simply bung it in the oven in the evening.

I liquidise the marinade by shoving the hand blender into the saucepan, which is a lot less washing up than transferring everything to the food processor. If that doesn’t appeal, then just make sure you chop everything finely.

You’ll need:

  • 25g butter (or ghee, or vegetable oil, but not olive oil as it would taste really, really wrong here)
  • 200mL natural (“Greek”) yoghurt – the important thing here is that it needs to be live
  • 150mL cream, either cow or coconut (vary the ratio of yoghurt to cream depending on your tastes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, more if you fancy
  • enough chilli to add excitement (maybe a level teaspoon chilli flakes, one small vicious chilli, or a couple of larger mild ones)
  • 1 large onion
  • 50g ground almonds (or cashews or both)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
  • a bunch of coriander (both leaves and stalks)
    …oh, and…
  • 500g meat with the fat removed, and chopped up into 1 inch pieces, or about 500g of vegetables

Using a small saucepan, fry the (peeled, chopped) onion in the butter for about 10 minutes. You’re looking for a deep golden colour, so don’t be timid. Don’t be so bold you burn them.

Add the (peeled, sliced) garlic and chilli, frying until the garlic is translucent. Add the turmeric, ginger and cardamom. Fry for another half a minute, then add the coriander stalks, and almonds. Turn off the heat and add the cream and yoghurt. It will smell quite disgusting, but don’t lose heart, it just needs to cook.

You could refrigerate or freeze this mixture. Or even make it in bulk.

Place meat/veg and the sauce in an oven proof dish, and cover with enough marinade to coat everything, but not drown it. Any leftover marinade can go in the freezer for another time. Marinate for one, preferably two, hours at room temperature or all day in the fridge.

Assuming you’re using chicken, about 30 minutes in the oven at 180ºC should do. Veg might need a little longer to soften up, and I think lamb would benefit from longer at a lower temperature. Anyway, check periodically after 20 minutes just to make sure.

Once it’s done, stir in as much of the chopped up coriander leaves as you feel necessary, and maybe garnish with some toasted almonds, and a squirt of lemon juice. Rice or naan.

And cold, cold beer, of course.

You could also thread the pieces of meat onto skewers and barbecue them instead.

As I said, quite an English dish. For some proper kormas, and many other wonderful things, take a look at 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi, which is an intelligent and accessible overview of Indian cuisine. (The second edition apparently corrects some of the woeful typos in the first.)


Despite high technology paying my rent, I’m a bit of a luddite at home, and generally don’t buy a gadget until two years after Stephen Fry has stopped wittering about its joys and delights.

I am the proud Late Adopter of a Twitter account, which I’m really not sure will be of any use to anybody, but through which I will try to spread entertainment and amusement. Of sorts.

It’s here. You have been warned.

Puttanesca II

This is highly offensive and will render you unfit for civilised company.

Peel, finely slice, and fry four cloves of garlic in two tablespoons olive oil. Add a generous pinch of chilli flakes and wait for the garlic to get slightly translucent and golden about the edges. Tip in a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, and four anchovy fillets. Simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce by half. Check the seasoning: will probably need a good grind of pepper; but no extra salt.

Serve with linguine and plenty of parmesan.

Makes enough to serve a single misanthrope.


Three things.

One. Don’t feel you should only have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Unless you’re into shriving, and will be observing Lent sans eggs and butter. Have them often: sweet, savoury, stuffed, simple, or on fire. (The ideal Sixties dinner party should feature Delia’s cherry duck, and conclude with Crêpes Suzette.)

Two. Don’t buy ready made pancakes. Honestly. Even if your pancakes are the saddest, lumpiest, and most rubbery things to ever come forth from a frypan they will still smell good and taste good. In my case they evoke early memories of making a nuisance of myself in the kitchen, whilst Mum was busy firing up the (square!) Sunbeam electric frypan and agonising over the consistency of the batter. We could never tell, and they were always good.

Three. The procedure outlined here by Saint Nigel is stupidly easy. Any old frypan will do. (Him What Knows has six iron crêpe pans which he has been known to use all at once, but that’s when he’s feeding forty.)

That is all.

Marmalade II

Found a kilo of Seville oranges in the freezer which I’d forgotten about so made the final batch of marmalade for the season. Did it slightly differently, with the end result being softer, paler, cloudier, and much more orange flavoured.

Oranges were washed and put whole into 2 litres of water, brought to the boil, and simmered for two hours, and then left to cool. Oranges fished out (water retained of course!) and sliced in half. The insides had detached from the peel, and shrivelled slightly, so were easily detached with a metal spoon and tossed into a bowl lined with a two foot square of muslin. The peel was then easily shredded.

The pot, meanwhile, was heated up again, and 1.5kg white sugar dissolved, and the whole lot topped up to 3 litres. Shredded peel returned to pot, along with the juice of two lemons. The muslin was tied into a bag and added as well, after a vigorous squeeze to get all that lovely slimey pectin into the pot.

Once boiling, it took about fifteen minutes to get a set, and yielded 2.5 litres of finished product.