Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The long awaited Indian food night!

I apologize for taking so long to post our cooking club pictures and recipes. Indian food night was a complete success. Personally I was surprised to find that it wasn't too hard to make this stuff at home. We definitely would have done a restaurant proud!

For this blog I think we'll start with dessert first. And what a dessert it was! Janna Mathews is responsible for three dessert offerings: Gulub Jaman, Gajar Halva, & Pistachio Ice Cream. By the way if anyone had told me I would salivate at the thought of carrot pudding, I would have said they were crazy. I was so wrong!! Here are Janna's comments about the desserts.  

"When creating the dishes for the indian food, I was worried that the ice cream and the Gulab Jamun wouldn't be enough. I thought they would compliment each other well, but wanted to try something more. On a whim, I tried the Gajar Halva or Carrot Dessert.What a surprise. It was almost as popular as the ice cream. I was glad I tried something I woudn't have normally attempted. It really worked out for me."

GULAB JAMUN         (serves 2-4)
1¼ cup sugar
3 cups water
4 drops rose water
7 tbsp powdered milk
3 tsp self-raising flour
1 tsp semolina (Sooji)
3 tsp butter 
8 cardamoms
pinch of saffron
milk to mix
oil for deep frying

  • Put the sugar and water in a heavy base or nonstick pan and heat to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and boil for 2-3 minutes to make a syrup. Mix in the rose water and set aside.  
  • Put powdered milk, flour, semolina, butter, ground cardamom, and saffron in a bowl. Mix well with a little milk to make a soft dough.
  • Divide into 18-22 equal portions, and roll each portion into a ball.
  • Heat the oil and gently deep fry the balls until golden brown.
  • Remove with slotted spoon and put into the syrup.
  • Bring the syrup to a boil, then remove from the heat.
  • Transfer the balls to a large shallow serving dish.

GAJAR HALVA (carrot dessert)

(serves 4-6)
3 lb/1.5kg carrots
5½ oz/150 g butter
2½ cups milk
¾ cup evaporated milk
½ cup tbsp sugar
10 cardamoms
raisins, cashews, pistachios to decorate

  • Rinse, peel and grate carrots.
  • Melt a butter in pan.
  • Add the grated carrots and stir for 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the milk, evaporated milk, crushed cardamoms and sugar to the mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly for an additional 20-30 minutes.
  • Transfer the carrot mixture into serving dishes. Decorate with the chopped pistachios, raisins and cashews. Serve immediately. 

    KULFI ICE CREAM  (serves 4-6)

    5 cups canned evaporated milk
    3 eggs whites
    3 cups confectioner's sugar
    1 cup pistachios, chopped
    plus extra to decorate
    ½ cup almonds
    ½ cup raisins
    1 tsp ground cardamom
    5-8 candied cherries to decorate (optional)
  • Start preparing the day before you want to serve ice cream. Place the cans of evaporated milk on their sides in a pan. Pour in enough water to come about three-quarters of the way up their sides and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat, cover tightly and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool, then let chill for 24h. Place a large bowl in the refrigerator to chill.
  • The next day, whisk the egg whites in al spotlessly clean, grease free bowl until soft peaks form. Pour the evaporated milk into the chilled bowl and whisk until doubled in size. Fold in the egg whites, then the sugar. Add the pistachios, almonds, raisins and cardamom.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until set.
  • Scoop the ice cream into serving dishes, decorate with chopped pistachios and candied cherries to serve.

Our next recipe is from Glory Rascon. Glory prepared a mango chutney which was delicious! Here is her recipe as well as a few comments from her about the preparation. "Here are the recipes I used, very easy..the Mango Chutney even had a short video for me to watch..in case I messed it up. I'd only say to follow adding the sugar and 2nd spice ingredients..as it carmelizes quickly and I almost burnt the thing...but I loved making something way out of my comfort zone, hello Mangos!! "

 Sauce #1

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon mango chutney
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

Mango Chutney

Step 1: You will need
  • 2 medium ripe mangos
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • pinch cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp onion seeds , also known as nigella seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 vegetable peeler
  • 1 chopping board
  • 1 non-stick frying pan
  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon
  • some plates
  • 1 air-tight storage jar.
  • Serves:
  • 4
  • Preparation Time:
  • 4 minutes
  • Cooking Time:
  • 7 minutes
  1. Step 2: Mango

    Begin by carefully peeling 2 fresh mangos. If the mangoes are really ripe, you'll be able to remove some of the skin with your hands. Cut away as much of the flesh as possible, leaving the stone. Put the flesh into a bowl, and use a spoon to roughly mash it into pulp.
  2. Step 3: Fry spices

    Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Then add 2 dried red chillies, 2 black peppercorns, a pinch of cumin seeds, 1/4 of a teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1/4 of a teaspoon of onion seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds. The seeds will pop and sizzle.
  3. Step 4: Add more spices

    Now stir half a teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and a quarter of a teaspoon of paprika into the pan.
  4. Step 5: Add lemon

    Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and stir. Turn the hob down to a low heat.
  5. Step 6: Add mango

    Now add the mashed mango pulp. Continue to cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Step 7: Serve

    You can keep the chutney for up to a week, in an airtight container in the fridge

     Our next recipe comes from Bonnie Stewart. She prepared a tasty Indian drink called a lassi. 
    Mango Lassi recipe
    2 cups plain yogurt
    2 mangoes, cut in chunks
    1 cup ice (don't need as much if using frozen mango)
    1/2 cup sugar (Splenda works too, but use a bit less)

    Blend in a blender until smooth. You might need to add a little milk to thin down the mixture, depending on how well your blender works. You can also use mango puree.
    Linda Prince prepared Chicken Tikka Masala for the club. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Here is her recipe as well as a few comments about it. 

    "The original recipe calls for 3 teaspoons salt in the sauce and 4 teaspoons in the marinade, but that makes it WAY too salty. Use your own judgment, and definitely add salt to the sauce TO TASTE. (It needs salt, but nowhere near 3 teaspoons, especially if you are using tomato sauce with salt in it; nearly all varieties contain quite a bit of salt.) I reduced the salt a lot above, but I haven’t tried the recipe again to make sure those amounts work. (The version I brought to cooking night was still too salty, and it had less than half of what the original recipe called for.)"

    Chicken Tikka Masala

    from allrecipes.com
    submitted by Yukata
    rating: 4½ out of 5 stars (1266 reviews)

    Marinade and Chicken
    1 cup yogurt
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
    2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    1 teaspoon salt*
    3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
    4 long skewers

    1 tablespoon butter
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 teaspoons paprika
    ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste*
    one 8-ounce can tomato sauce
    1 cup heavy cream
    ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
    Preheat a grill for high heat.

    Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

    Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and salt to taste. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

    The next food offering comes from me - Amanda Thorn. I found a recipe from one of my favorite Food Network chefs - Aarti Sequeria (of Aarti's Party). This was so easy to make and truly delicious. Aarti definitely does a good job of making Indian food accessible to the home cook. I highly recommend checking out her recipes. 

    Crispy Coriander Potatoes


  7. 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
  8. Salt
  9. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  10. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  11. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  13. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  14. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  15. 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  16. 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  17. Squeeze fresh lime or lemon, optional


Throw the potatoes in a large pot, cover with room temperature water, and season with salt. Set on a high flame and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until a fork inserted into the potatoes draws out without resistance, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Once they're cool enough to handle, cut each potato into bite-size pieces.

In a large skillet or wok, warm the oil until it's shimmering but not smoking. Add the fennel seeds; they should sizzle upon contact with the oil. Immediately add the potatoes, coriander, turmeric, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir-fry until the potatoes get crispy and golden brown on the outside. Finish with the fresh cilantro and lime juice and serve.

Bonnie Fairbanks Elton (though at the time she was just Bonnie Fairbanks) prepared Samosas. I don't have her specific recipe, so here is a recipe I found online. The picture, however, is of pre food she prepared. They were especially good with a little mango chutney on top.


  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, cut in small pieces
  • 9 tablespoons water


  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen mixed peas, corn, and carrots
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 habenero chile, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala spice blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


To make the dough: Mix the salt and flour in a medium bowl or a food processor. With a pastry blender, incorporate the butter until crumbs have formed. Add the water a few tablespoons at a time, until you can form a ball. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Let it rest for about 15 minutes more. You can prepare the dough in advance and refrigerate it.

To make the filling: Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

If using fresh carrots, chop and simmer in water, to cover, in a small pot. Add the corn and peas to barely cook. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until golden. Add the garlic, ginger, and chile and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garam masala, turmeric, chile powder, and salt and cook 2 minutes more.

In a bowl combine the mashed potatoes, the onion and spice mixture, carrots, peas, corn, lemon juice, and chopped coriander. Mix well.

To assemble the samosas: Divide the dough into 9 equal size balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a 5-inch circle. Cut each circle in half.

Brush the straightedge side with a little water, fold it in half, and align the two straight sides so they overlap to form a cone shape. Squeeze the edges together to make a tight seal. Place approximately 1 generous tablespoon of filling inside each cone, leaving the top edge clean. Moisten the inside top rim of the cone and press the edges together to make another tight seal. Place the samosas on a tray until ready to fry. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Heat approximately 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan. Fry several samosas at a time, being careful not to crowd them. When 1 side turns golden brown, flip it over to brown on the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with chutney

Madelynne Brown prepared Pouri & Lamb and Cabbage Curry. Check out the pictures below. 

Beef /Lamb Cabbage Curry
3 Onions
2 Green Peppers
2 lbs Meat, mix or select one
2 Heads of Cabbage
Madras Curry Powder, to taste
Panang Curry Powder, to taste
Salt, to taste

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coming in May - Indian food!

Food from the British Isles

For March we feasted on food from the British Isles. It was delicious! We are also welcoming two new members to the cooking club - Bonnie & Linda.

The Curious Cooks (Front row - Linda & Bonnie S; Back row - Lyra, Madelynne, Amanda, Bonnie F, & Janna)

Linda's Leek & Potato Soup

Leek and Potato Soup
2 leeks
340g/3/4lb potatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
30g/1oz butter
570ml/1 pint water
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml/31/2fl oz milk
100ml/31/2fl oz double cream
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

Preparation method

1. Trim and slice the leeks in thin rounds. Rinse in a colander under cold water.
2. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks.
3. Melt the butter in a pan and gently sauté the onion and garlic.
4. Add the leek, potatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Season.
5. Cover with the water and bring to the boil.
6. Simmer for 12 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are tender.
7. Remove the bay leaf.
8. Just before serving add the milk and cream and stir over a low heat, check the seasoning.
9. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with the chives.

Serves 4

Bonnie S's Pasta & Mushroom dish

Pasta And Mushrooms Baked With Two Cheeses
Ribbon noodles are fun to fork up in this delicious supper dish. The creamy mushroom sauce is enriched with egg.
Stilton cheese is marvellous for cooking, and gives a very distinctive flavour to the mushroom sauce in this pasta dish. Mozzarella, used here for the topping, is a famous Italian cheese, which is now also being made in Britain . It is deliciously creamy when melted.
SERVES 2 - 3
225 g (8 oz) ribbon noodles
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 garlic clove, skinned and crushed
225 g (8 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced
50 g (2 oz) Stilton cheese
60 ml (4 tbsp) fresh double cream
salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
100 g (4 oz) mozzarella cheese
1. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 7 minutes, until just tender.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan and cook the garlic and mushrooms, stirring frequently, until just softened. Crumble in the Stilton cheese and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously. Stir in the cream and season to taste.
3. Drain the pasta and season with lots of pepper. Mix into the mushroom sauce. Stir in the egg and mix together thoroughly.
4. Turn the mixture into a buttered ovenproof dish and grate the mozzarella on top. Cover with foil and bake at 180°C (350°F) mark 4 for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake at 220°C (425°F) mark 7 for a further 10 - 15 minutes, until brown and crusty on top.

Bonnie F's Irish Soda Bread
 Irish soda Bread


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seed
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons milk (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream (optional)


  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Use fingers or a pastry cutter to press in butter or margarine, like a pie crust. When mixture looks fine and crumbly, add raisins and caraway seeds. Mix together and then add eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream. If mixture is not moist, add milk. Pour into two greased and lightly floured loaf pans or a frying pan.
  2. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.

Bonnie F's mouth watering English trifle. (It definitely did not taste like feet)

Lemon Curd for Trifle:


  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed


  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to hold marks from whisk, and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.
Madelynne's Baked Onions
Baked Onions with Nut Stuffing

Choose onions that are hard, with no obvious soft spots, and avoid any that are showing signs of sprouting. Although raw onions are known for their pungent smell, when cooked they have a mild, sweet flavour which contrasts well with the cheesy stuffing.


4 large onions, each weighing 225 - 275 g (8 - 10 oz)
150 g (5 oz) long-grain brown rice
salt and pepper
50 g (2 oz) hazelnuts
50 g (2 oz) salted peanuts
225 g (8 oz) tomatoes, roughly chopped
100 g (4 oz) Cheddar cheese, grated
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) dried basil
1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) dried oregano
5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric

1. Boil the onions in their skins for 45 -50 minutes, until very tender. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Meanwhile, cook the rice in plenty of boiling salted water for about 30 minutes, until tender. Drain well.

3. Put the hazelnuts and peanuts on a sheet of foil and cook under a grill until brown, turning frequently. Leave the skins on the hazelnuts and finely chop with the peanuts.

4. Mix the tomatoes with the rice, cheese, nuts, herbs and turmeric and season to taste.

5. Slice off the tip and root of each onion, but leave on the coloured outer skin. Down one side of each onion cut through to the centre from tip to root. Ease the onions open.

6. Divide the stuffing between each onion, pressing it well into the centre.

7. Place in a roasting tin, cover and bake at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for about 40 minutes. Serve hot.
Amanda's Chicken & Broccoli Pie
  Chicken & Broccoli Pie
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, diced
4 chicken breasts
1 head of broccoli, split into florets (or 1 leek, which are also fabulous at the moment, sliced)
1 tbsp flour
300ml chicken stock
Slug of double cream

Grab a heavy-based casserole or frying pan, pour in a couple of tablespoons of oil, then throw in the carrot, onion and celery.  Fry gently until the vegetables soften, then add in the cubed chicken breasts.  A sprinkle of thyme would be lovely here, unfortunately I managed to kill mine.  Season well and continue to fry until the chicken starts to go opaque (it doesn’t need to be cooked through), then sprinkle over the tablespoon of flour.  Carry on stirring while you pour in the chicken stock and add in a big slug of double cream:

Now leave the chicken on a low heat to bubble gently and reduce a tiny bit while you quickly blanch some broccoli in some boiling salted water and make the pastry.

Now just drain the broccoli and add into the chicken.  Don’t worry if there seems to be a bit of excess liquid as some will disappear during cooking.  Now just roll your pastry lid over your rolling pin and unroll it over the top of your pie.  Because I’m lazy, and let’s face it, this is just home cooking, I just leave it in the casserole and fling the pastry lid on top, tucking over the edges, but if you’re entertaining or whatever, you can put the contents into a pie dish and neatly crimp the edges, brushing with a little milk to glaze the top.
And that’s it.  Bung the pie in the oven at gas 4/180 for 20 – 30 minutes until it’s golden brown, and serve with more seasonal vegetables (we had honey roasted parsnips, carrots, peas and creamy mashed potato), then just sit back and bask in the glory especially reserved for people who make their own pies. 

Lyra's Crab Salad

Crab Salad

When dressing crab, exert full pressure with thumbs to prise claws from body.

15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
15 ml (1 tbsp) mayonnaise
15 ml (1 tbsp) natural yogurt
225 g (8 oz) crab meat
1/2 cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, skinned and cubed
50 g (2 oz) pasta shells, cooked
lettuce, shredded
cucumber and lemon slices, to garnish

1. Mix together the lemon juice, mayonnaise and yogurt.

2. Combine the dressing with remaining ingredients, except the lettuce. Serve the crab salad on a bed of shredded lettuce, garnished with cucumber and lemon slices, accompanied by brown bread and butter if liked.
Janna's Beef Wellington
Serves 6

1/2 stick (2 oz) 50 g butter
2 lb (900 g) beef fillet
2 large onions, sliced
1 1/3 cup (100 g) mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 pinch of thyme
1/2 level tsp salt
black pepper
14 oz (397 g) packet of puff pastry, thawed
a little beaten egg (to glaze)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) gas mark 7.
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the meat and fry quickly to brown, turning occasionally to seal in the juices on all sides. Lift it out and allow to cool.
3. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
5. Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle measuring about 14 x 16 in. (35 x 40cm), though this size may vary slightly with the shape of the piece of beef.
7. Set the beef in the centre of the pastry and place the onion and mushroom mixture on top.
8. Cut a 1 1/2 in. (3.5cm) square from each corner of the pastry and keep on one side.
9. Fold up the pastry around the meat, turning up the ends first and then the sides, which should just overlap the meat to cover it completely.
10. Dampen the pastry with water or beaten egg where it overlaps so that it remains secure during cooking.
11. Turn over, place on a baking sheet and brush the top with beaten egg.
12. Cut the remaining pastry into leaf shapes and use to decorate the top. Brush with more beaten egg.
13. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour if you like beef to be pink in the centre.
Serve at once.