Keralan Coconut Curry

This was a Keralan Coconut Vegetable Curry that I cooked. I cheated a little by using a curry kit from The Spice Tailor.

A delicately balanced, mellow coconut curry from Kerala. Its gentle spicing and layers of flavours makes this a go-to for those who love milder Indian flavours.

I have been using this curry kit for some time now.

I prepared the vegetables, for this curry I used onions, peppers, carrot, sweet potato, tenderstem broccoli, baby sweetcorn, sliced mushrooms and asparagus.

I add oil to a large frying pan and then add the spices from the curry kit. I used a new wok I had got for my birthday. I then added the prepared vegetables. This is cooked until softened. I then add the sauce mix from the curry kit and stir it into the vegetables. I cook it for five more minutes before stirring the curry a final time.

I served it with plain white rice.

Roasting Chantenay Carrots

For our Christmas lunch I roasted some Chantenay carrots. This was a pack of different coloured carrots from Waitrose, I cleaned and peeled them before coating them in herbs and olive oil and roasting in the oven.

They were tender and full of flavour, certainly would do these again.

Time for some festive carrots

For Christmas lunch this year we also had some nice festive carrots. I was inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe for carrots that I saw on a television programme a few years ago.

I took a frying pan, this I filled with evenly cut carrots, either whole or halved in the main. To this I add a large knob of butter, a splash of white wine vinegar, the juice from two clementines (you could use similar citrus fruit, or one orange). I also added some fresh mixed herbs. I then covered the carrots with boiling water and turned the heat on.

Then let the carrots bubble away gently on the stove top for about 40 minutes. Once the water has evaporated, the carrots should caramelise in the remaining sweet and sour reduction, I always let the carrots brown slightly on the edges.

The result is tender, slightly pickled carrots, full of festive flavours.

Roasting Vegetables

When I do a Sunday roast I do like adding some roasted vegetables on the side. One time I did this I did butternut squash and heritage carrots. This was seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh herbs.

Another thing I do with roasting vegetables is put them at he bottom of the roasting pan. Here for roast belly of pork I have pepper, butternut squash, onions, mushrooms, fresh herbs and as it was pork, some apple.

This helps keep the roast moist and tender, whilst also adding flavour. When you leave the meat to rest, you can finish the vegetables off in the oven, or use it as the base for some gravy.

I really like roasting candy and yellow beetroot, but have had trouble finding them recently. Another favourite are parsnips, which are easier to find.

Candy Stripe and Golden revisited

A few years ago Morrisons sold some prepared vegetables, “The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection. This contained baby parsnips, Chantenay carrots and interestingly candy stripe and golden beetroot. This we had on a regular basis, however they’ve stopped doing it, and they still don’t sell the candy stripe and golden beetroots loose. However the farmers market at St Nicks in Bristol on do sell them loose. When I am in Bristol on market’s day I try and get one of each for Sunday lunch. Unlike supermarket veg, these are varied in shape and size and are quite muddy as well.

I usually just cut them into chunks and roast them in the oven. I usually add some chantenay carrots, onions and parsnips to the roasting tray. Maybe also thrown in some garlic and herbs, rosemary works well.

candy strip and golden beetroot, chantenay carrots, onions and parsnips

It’s a pity that this method causes the candy stripe beetroot to lose its distinctive look. After watching the chefs on The Great British Menu I have been thinking about pickling them instead, to retain their stripes. The flavour is very much like purple beetroot, but not as strong. These also avoid the staining of the purple ones.

If you can get hold of them they are worth giving them a go.

What we had for Christmas Lunch

I blog about what we eat for Christmas lunch, mainly to remember things that worked well and for those that didn’t, not to repeat that mistake. This post is a little later than I planned, but it’s here now.

This year we ordered two Christmas roasts from Tesco. I was a little concerned as the night before the day I was going to collect the order I got a phone call from my local Tesco saying that part of my order had not been delivered to the store and offered a replacement. I wasn’t too happy with this, as it was quite short notice. In the end they had a late night delivery so I got my order in the end.

The main one was a part-boned turkey with chestnut stuffing. This was really nice roasted the chestnut stuffing was really nice too, with who chestnuts within it.

The second was a three bird roast, comprising a duck stuffed with goose and turkey. I remember once spending a lot of money on a Marks and Spencer four bird roast, which though very nice was mainly a big turkey with some duck, goose and chicken. So was a little bit of a disappointment, I blogged about that here, which reminded me not to go down that road again.

Along with the roasts we had roast potatoes, these I cooked in my usual way, which is as follows. I used Maris Piper potatoes, the type of potatoes I find is critical for getting crispy roast potatoes and a fluffy centre. I peel the potatoes and then par-boil for about ten minutes. Whilst they are in the pan of boiling water, I place the roasting tray in a hot oven with some sunflower oil (and I also add a splash of olive oil for flavour). This means once the potatoes are drained they are added to the pan which is pre-heated and has hot oil in. This speeds up cooking time and ensures a crispy roast potato.

I also did my regular dish of brussel sprouts pan fried with chestnut smoked bacon lardons and chestnuts.

brussel sprouts pan fried with chestnut smoked bacon lardons and chestnuts

I did roasted parsnips. Along with them I did some festive carrots, I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe for carrots. I took a frying pan, this I filled with evenly cut carrots, either whole or halved in the main. I then covered them with boiling water. To this I add a large knob of butter, a splash of white wine vinegar, the juice from two clementines (or similar citrus fruit, or one orange) and some dried mixed herbs. Then let the carrots bubble away on the stove top for about 40 minutes. Once the water has evaporated, the carrots should caramelise in the remaining sweet and sour mix.

We had a selection of stuffings and pigs in blankets.

Overall we were very happy with the meal, it was very tasty.

Candy Stripe and Golden

I do enjoy roasted vegetables and my usual recipe consists of parsnips, carrots and onions. Occasionally I will add courgettes and mushrooms.

Glancing at the prepared vegetable section in Morrisons is not something I do very often, I much prefer to prepare my own vegetables. This is because not only is it usually cheaper, but I do a better job than the pre-prepared stuff

I was however intrigued by their “The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection. This contained baby parsnips, Chantenay carrots and interestingly candy stripe and golden beetroot.

Now I couldn’t find unprepared candy stripe and golden beetroot in the store, so I thought, well why not? Even though it is sold as “prepared” I still did some additional preparation. I topped and tailed the baby parsnips, I cut in half the bigger pieces of beetroot and for the bigger parsnips I split them in half.

The pack comes with a roundel of butter, which you remove before you start cooking and add ten to twenty minutes towards the end.

“The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection

I really enjoyed the vegetables, they were tasty and the beetroot was very different and added something special to the dish.

Slaw

Slaw

Though I have been known to go out and buy small tubs of coleslaw I much prefer to make my own. I recently made a slaw to accompany a meal I had cooked. I used a variation of my usual recipe.

Half a white cabbage thinly sliced into strips.

Two carrots, sliced thinly, I used a cheese slicer to get strips of carrot.

A parsnip, similar to the carrots, sliced thinly.

Half a red onion, sliced thinly.

Half a brown (or white) onion, sliced thinly.

Half a red pepper sliced thinlu.

Mix with three spoons of mayonnaise, two spoons of creme frache and two teaspoons of mustard.

It works better if you can let it stand in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight.

It tasted fresh, crunchy and delicious.

Organic Carrots

 Organic Carrots

I do like carrots and I like organic carrots even better, as they have a much fuller flavour than “standard” carrots.

In a recent report however as reported by the BBC and commisioned by the Food Standards Agency it was found that:

Organic food is no healthier than ordinary food, a large independent review has concluded.

There is little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of any extra health benefits from eating organic produce, UK researchers found.

Things change, back in October 2007 I read that:

Organic produce is better for you than ordinary food, a major European Union-funded study says.

The £12m four-year project, led by Newcastle University, found a general trend showing organic food contained more antioxidants and less fatty acids.

That survey said organic food, well organic produce, could be better for you than non-organic produce.

So who is right?

When I started buying organic, and about 90% of what I buy is organic, the data and research seemed to indicate that there was no real difference between organic and non-organic produce.

I justified it to myself that possibly it was good for me, but in reality the main reason for buying organic was the flavour, and I still stand by that.

I buy organic for the flavour and so should you.

Green beans and carrots

One side dish I have been eating a lot recently is a very simple dish of steamed green beans and carrots.

carrots and green beans

Sometimes I add some olive oil, other times butter, usually though I leave them as is. I find that organic is the most tasty.