Monday, 28 September 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu and a bubbly

The first time i had Chicken Cordon Blue was back in Nottingham where you get these ready-to-bake meal kits at Tesco and i was still new to the whole cooking scene (not any better now) so we were feasting on a lot of these ready made meals. It was absolutely tasty and not expensive at all. After we moved to London, things changed. We do not have a Tesco nearby and the other super markets do not have a huge choice of ready meals. Who wants to have pulao and chicken tikka masala or chinese grub from the supermarket?
So my craving for the Chicken Cordon Bleu forced me to try it at home since i didn't have a choice. I must say im very impressed with the outcome. Although it wasn't the easiest of things to make, i was unbelievable proud of myself for attempting it. It tasted out of this world. Paired it with a Champagne cocktail and i couldn't ask for more.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts- 2 medium size
Paprika- 1 tsp
Pepper- 1 tsp, freshly ground
Salt- to taste

Chicken stock- 1/4 cup
Butter- 2 tsp
Garlic paste- 1/4 tsp
Dry bread crumbs- 1/4 cup
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese- 1 tbs
Bacon strips/ Proscuitto ham- 2
Philadelphia cream cheese- 4 tbs
Cheddar cheese- 2 tsp (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Heat the chicken stock in the microwave on high for about 10 to 15 seconds and stir in the butter and garlic paste.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the parmigiano reggiano cheese and keep ready.
Place the chicken breasts in a zip-lock bag and pound them to about 1/4 inch thickness using a mallet or something heavy as for that matter. Rub the paprika, pepper and salt on both sides of the chicken. Mix the cream cheese and shredded cheddar and rub generously on the chicken breasts and top with one of the bacon slices. Roll up each breast, dip in the chicken stock, cover with bread crumbs and place on a baking dish (seam side down). Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or till juices run clear. Serve with a salad or eat as is.

Notes: The chicken stock can be replaced with beaten egg. Its just to hold the breadcrumbs together.
The cream cheese can be replaced with any other cheese..mozzarella or just cheddar
Cooking times vary..but on average it should be about 30 minutes. I kept it a little longer because i thought the bacon wasn't cooked.

Champagne cocktail
serves: 2
Gin- 100ml
Lemon juice- 25ml
Sugar- 2 tsp

Place a handful of ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, pour in the gin, lemon juice and sugar. Shake well. Pour into a champagne flute, top with champagne/ prosecco and stir gently.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Tapioca mashed and tempered with coconut (Kappa)

I am not a big fan of tapioca in any form, but Ro is and he insisted we pick up a pack of the frozen ones to make some authentic mallu grub. He usually just boils it and then we have it with this very tasty and easy-to-make onion chutney, which is what he wanted to do since we were still in the process of adjusting to the new apartment and cooking was not in full swing as yet. Details...well complaints rather... about the move has been updated here.
In spite if all that, i went a bit overboard and decided to try the mashed ones which is a speciality in all the kallu (toddy) shops back in Kerala, frequently visited whenever we go to Kottayam. For my last birthday we happened to be in Kottayam and my in laws treated us to an elaborate kallu shop feast which was out of this world. There's a whole lot to write about that, so i shall keep it for another day.
Anyways, i am using some wifi connection from somewhere and it keeps disconnecting. So didn't have any luck with the recipe search online. You would all know by now that i sorely depend on the Internet to carry on with my life. So i had to call up mommy who also had no clue how to do so and she had to dig out her recipe book to read it out to me. I don't think i will be making this again, but this is how it goes:

Tapioca cubes- 250 to 300 gms, washed and cleaned
Grated coconut- 1/2 cup
Green chillies- 2
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Turmeric pwd- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste

For tadka
Coconut oil- 1 tsp
Grated coconut- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies- 2
Few curry leaves

In a huge vessel heat water (enough to cover the tapioca pieces) and once it boils, put in the tapioca, some salt and a pinch of turmeric pwd.

Simultaneously, grind the coconut, turmeric pwd, green chillies and cumin seeds. Pulse once or twice in a grinder. It doesn't have to be paste-like.

Once the tapioca is done (insert a fork and it should easily go through) take it off the flame and mash it (again, not to a paste) so there are still some cubes of tapioca left. Put it back on low heat, sprinkle the coconut mix, slightly stir it and cook covered just for a couple of minutes. At this stage you can check salt etc and add if required.
I like to do the tadka just before serving. Heat some coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add the shallots, curry leaves and dried red chillies and pour it on top of the tapioca. Give it a stir and serve with spicy fish curry or pickle.

Notes: If its not the clean, frozen tapioca, i have no clue how to clean them. You might be better off googling it than have me gyan about it
I think i prefer this to Ro's method, but Ro liked his better. If that's what you want, just follow the first step of boiling it without mashing and team with fish curry or pickle.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Movie and a recipe

Anyone slightly inclined towards food or cooking will not miss out on the movie Julie & Julia, or so i think. Well to be honest i had no clue who Julia Child was until i saw the trailers in the theatre and read numerous blogs on her cooking and recipes. I finally caught the movie yesterday and should say i was not quite thrilled by it. It was alright, not that i hated it or anything. I expected loads of cooking and tips and food, but that took a second seat because the movie revolved around other aspects which i shall not elaborate on for the love of those who might wanna catch it sometime. I'm glad i didn't drag Ro to it cos he would have cribbed about it from beg to end and would so definitely put it in the category of a chick flick.
The Lobster Thermidor brought back strange memories. My first food review was at one of the restaurants in a hotel and i was tensed to the core. I had never done this before, didn't know how to go about it and didn't know how or where to start. Finally the chef introduced himself and i started asking him a few this and that and he insisted i try out the lobster dish which was the speciality. Now the irony was i hated seafood and that's the first thing i was asked to write about..and lobster..oh my god i couldn't even imagine having it. I checked the menu and it was the most expensive item and i just couldn't get myself to waste the whole thing. So i tried to talk him out of it, but in vain. I panicked. I obviously had to try it and couldn't piss them off since they were a very important client. My colleague who i dragged along shrugged and said he would not eat it either. So i convinced myself it would be alright and boy was i wrong. I first of all had no clue how to eat a lobster. The cutlery was new to me and i couldn't tell them this was my first time. For God sakes i was a reporter from a mag, i HAD to know how to do stuff. Luckily, the chef was such a sweet man, he opted to do the necessary and voila i had the meat removed and presented on my plate. Now the tasting part. I gobbled it down without even savouring it and pretended it was yum. After a few mouthfuls, i actually tasted it and it wasn't that bad. I however didn't even eat a quarter of it and felt so miserable for wasting the rest. The chef was happy with the write up and invited me over for another tasty crab prep. By then i learned how to say no without being offensive and conveniently avoided it, but gave enough publicity though. From then on i made it a point to take Ro to all of my seafood reviews because he loves seafood and would give me an honest opinion.
I made so many good friends in the hospitality industry and to this day when i go back to those hotels, they still treat me like a good friend and prepares yummy stuff. I miss my job so so much:(
Now coming back to a recipe. I have to make do with some leftovers since we are shifting apartments this weekend and didn't want to shop. I had some left over meatballs and tried out a recipe posted by sig. She did the original mutton prep whereas i tried out the same with meatballs. I know its an injustice to ruin an authentic recipe like that with my own input, but i just had to do something different. I also made a few changes here and there, and it tasted awesome:

Meatball curry from the Mudaliar kitchen
Meatballs- 6, medium sized
Green chilli- 2, thinly sliced
Onions- 1, roughly chopped
Cinnamon- 1/2 inch piece
Cloves- 2
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Tomato- 1, roughly chopped
Turmeric pwd- a pinch
Salt- to taste
Curry leaves- a sprig
Oil- 2 tbs

To roast:
Pepper pwd- 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek pwd- 1/4 tsp
Coriander pwd- 1 tsp
Cinnamon- 1/2 inch piece
Cloves- 2
Dry red chillies- 3, crushed
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 1 tsp

Roast all the ingredients in the 'to roast' section in oil, crush them slightly. Keep aside.
In a large pan heat 2 tbs oil and sautee the cinnamon, cloves and when they slightly splutter add the onions, green chilli and curry leaves. Sautee till onions turn light brown. Add Ggp and sautee for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the roasted masala, turmeric powder and 2 tsps of water mix well. Add the tomatoes and sautee till the oil starts separating. Add the meatballs to this and mix well to coat them properly. Add about 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, covered, or until the meat is cooked. If the water reduces in quantity, add some more but make sure it doesn't become too watery. I got a nice thick, dark gravy and it tasted awesome with warm rotis.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Creme Caramel/ Caramel Custard

This is a recipe a friend passed on and it sounded so easy i had to try it. What i didn't realize was it was so similar to the caramel custard which i really like, but never tried. Its so much more convenient to pick it up from the supermarket, where they come in theses small tubs and is very cheap. Also, Ro is not a big fan of the flan and thank god I halved the measurements and made them in small dessert bowls. I had to eat them all on my own..and I'm not complaining though :)

Sugar-1/4 cup
Water- 2 tbs
Lemon juice- a few drops
Eggs- 2
Milk- 3/4 cup
Condensed milk- 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence- 1tsp

Preheat the oven to 175C.
Lightly coat the ramekins with butter. Keep aside.
In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook and stir the sugar, water and lemon juice until you get a light brown caramel colour. Pour into the buttered dishes and swirl a bit, so that the caramel coats the entire bottom well enough.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, condensed milk and vanilla essence till you get a smooth mixture. Pour this into the ramekins. Prepare a hot water bath for the ramekins. That is, set the cups in a large shallow pan and fill with water, so that it reaches about half way up the ramekins.
Bake for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. If its doesn't, keep for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, cool it and chill for about an hour. When you are ready to serve, invert the flans into individual serving dishes, dust some icing sugar, or serve as is.

Notes: I got only 3 ramekins full for the amounts used. You can double the quantities and use a bigger dish if you please.
I added lemon juice to the caramel and milk to compliment the flan a bit more.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Rich Kofta curry

This is again one of the recipes from the '30 minute curries.' The recipe called for chicken koftas but i already had with me store-bought meat balls which i used for this. Came out great with a tangy flavour which both of us liked.

Koftas- 6 or 7 beef meatballs
Onion- 1, sliced lengthwise
Garlic paste- 1 tsp
Green chillies- 2, slit lenghtwise
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Turmeric pwd- /4 tsp
Tomato- 1, sliced into cubes
Coconut milk- 1/2 cup
Plain yoghurt- 3 tbs
Coriander leaves- to garnish
Oil- 1 tbs
Salt- to taste

Heat oil in a pan and sautee the onions, chillies and garlic for about 5 minutes or till the mixture starts to thicken. Add the garam masala and turmeric pwd and sautee for another 3 minutes. To this, add the coconut milk and yoghurt and gently bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped tomatoes, koftas and salt required. Cook stirring occasionally till the koftas are cooked through. Stir in coriander leaves and serve.
Notes: There were ground almonds (4 tbs) and whipping cream (4 tbs) used in the original recipe, but i omitted them. If using, add along with the yoghurt and coconut milk.
Make sure you don't over do the salt, since the tangy flavour is a bit overpowering already

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Squid in a spicy beer batter and kudos to myself on my 50th post!

I don't like squid in any other form, but batter fried. I have also never bought squid and was never planning to until last week when Ro and me went to the nearby super market and we saw some. We asked if they would cut it into rings but said they cant, but told us how to do so though. Ro got completely excited about the whole cutting process and we picked up about 200 gms, just cos we were clueless about how it would turn out. Ro cleaned and cut it and did what all..i have no clue. All i know was, it was stinking like crazy and i was running around lighting candles and turning on the room freshener. Nothing worked, but the squids came out awesome. We paired it with some apple cider and finished it all at one go.

Also, Happy Onam to all of you. I honestly wouldn't have realized it was Onam if it wasn't for the numerous status updates on Facebook. And since I'm in London, and since i don't know anyone who celebrates Onam, i have made reservations at a S. Indian restaurant this evening for an Onam sadya. This, after googling so so much, and convincing Ro it would be ok to try out a restaurant somewhere in Zone 4. Going purely by the reviews posted on certain websites, I'm assuming its not a weird place afterall. I am also darn happy that i hit my 50th post today which is not a milestone achievement but still, considering that i am such an awful and lazy cook, i think its a pretty neat accomplishment. I would have posted something better if i knew it was my 50th post, but i realised only half way through and so decided to go ahead with this anyway.

Squid rings- 200 gms
Flour- 5 tbs (heap)
Pepper pwd- 2 tsp
Paprika- 1/2 tsp
Beer- 2 tbs
Egg- 1 (beaten)
Salt- to taste

Oil- enough to fry

Mix all the ingredients and make a semi-liquid batter. Marinate the squid rings (make sure its well coated) for about half an hour and once the oil is hot, fry till golden brown. Drain well on paper towels and serve with a dip or pop it on its own.

Mix Mayo (3 tbs), Garlic paste (1/4 tsp) and Chilli sauce (1 tsp) well enough to make a loose paste.

Notes: Beer is optional. But it certainly adds to the taste
I used garlic mayo and so had to put in only the chilli sauce. Make sure the garlic is not too overpowering