Sunday, 27 September 2009


There's a story that Mexicans use chocolate in their chilli. I'm not convinced.

I think people are thinking of Mole....a Mexican 'stew' - heavily based on chillis (but not the searingly hot kind), but famously having up to 40 other ingredients and often including chocolates.

In fact - myself and Lou discovered a fair few of them on our trip to Mexico a few years ago...the famous 7 moles of Oaxaca. It's a strange dish...mainly because there's an expectation of chilli-con-carne, yet it looks like a classic British sloppy joe curry, and actually it tastes of neither.

At Xmas I'd bought this kit..and it seemed like a good way to spend a few hours on a Sunday. The 'kit' was superb...and certainly not a 'throw it all in a microwave' job. I think we used most of the kitchen implements!

Mexicans use chocolate in their chili don't you know..

Almonds, raisons and chiles

Frying the chillis really brought out the oils (in this instance mulato, ancho & pasilla chillis)

Post frying - they softened up and gave an amazing flavour - not at all like a typical red/green sainsbury chilli....

Almonds and garlic frying - adding to the layers of the dish

Raisons frying. Never done this before - they plump up lovely

Roasted toms

This was the roasted toms blitzed with the almond, garlic, raisons and a marisa hassa spice mix - oh and the chocolate (can you tell!)

The pulped chillis. An amazing flavour and texture. Maybe a bit bitter (as I used some of the soaking juices)

Mixing the two looked nice....

Chicken thighs - and off to the oven for 40 minutes

Once cooked.....

And served

I really liked it. It had many flavours - in fact genuine 'layers' of flavour - from the chocolate to the almonds - to the midl sweet bitter chillis. I served it on it's own - not sure if that was the best thing to do....but had no idea (apart from rice) what to server with it

Friday, 25 September 2009

Stuffed Vine Leaves

We were looking for something reasonably lightweight, and it's been years since I tried vine leaves. Andy (my cousin) bought me an excellent Turkish cookbook for Xmas, and this recipe had had "the corner turned down" for a few months....

Luckily - living in North London - these ingrediants were not exactly difficult to find ! Note the cheap lamb burgers - which worked a treat for the lamb mince!

Arty motion shot of the chopping of Parsley.

One of my favourite kitchen gadgets - a real Mexican lemon squeezer.

Shove in a bowl and mix

This one's for Andy. He knows why !

Not as easy as it looks

Before a 40 minute steam...

And after

Served with a wedge of lemon and some natural yoghurt. Really tasty - but would have been better as part of a larger meal - rather than just on their own.

Steamed Tofu with Minced Beef and Shrimp

Another Tofu receipe - this time a quick and easy one from Rasa Malaysia.


Finally go to use the dried shrimp I'd bought a few months ago

Was a bit tough getting the silken Tofu in the bamboo steamer (the other one totally split apart)

The finished dish. Light and simple - I loved it. Lou was so so - mainly cause of the texture of the Tofu.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


I love Kimchi. Indeed - I love Korean. However Kimchi is one of those things (a bit like tomato sauce, and branston pickle) where you do wonder if it's worth trying to replicate at home - as the commercial stuff is so easy and good. (Last time I did I ended up with a jar of mouldy cabbage!)

However - this time was a bit more sucessful...

Firstly take some Chinese cabbage

Coat in the marinade


Take a peek in (and be thankful it wasn't mouldy)...!

And serve. This was excellent - hot, pungent, spicy and tart - not a bad effort

Indian Omlette

Sunday morning.
Years ago, some friends of ours (Keith and Cathy) made us a fantastic omlette on a Sunday monring whilst we were visiting their fabulous Trullo. I've never forgotton how nice it was (Keith's addition of some Indian spices) and I've often tried - and failed to recreate it.

Success this Sunday!

Frying the mushrooms, onions and chilli

Adding the well beaten egg

Dropped it on the stove !

Eh Voila !
The addition of a pinch of Garam Masalla was the secret for me. Keith ?

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Marinaded Tofu with Tomato and Ginger Sauce

I’ve got a bit fixated with Tofu recently. So much so that I had a lovely pressie waiting for me when I got home the other day…..Two new Tofu cookbooks. Thanks Lou xx

Having flicked through these I landed on this recipe. One of the main techniques for cooking Tofu is to ensure it picks up flavour from the other ingredients. This recipe relied on the Tofu (firm) being marinated, and then slowly baked in the oven. The marinade of soy, honey, and ginger gave the baked Tofu in the book a gorgeous light brown coating, with a crisp ‘crisp-like’ finish. Not sure what went on with mine – but as you can see, this wasn’t the most attractive dish I’ve ever cooked. I think it comes from the fact that the recipe called for ‘dark soya’. My dark soya comes from China town and is very very dark. As you will see – this has given the finished product a very burnt look – strangely they actually tasted fine. The pictures in the book show a much lighter marinade – no way you could achieve that with my soya.

This is the real deal. Tried to get some Tofu in Waitrose the other day. All they had was a sad dry looking organic block in the ‘veggie’ section. No wonder it has such a bad press.

To cook firm Tofu, it’s recommended to drain the excess liquid by resting it on a board….

…and placing a heavy weight on it…

The very dark marinated tofu – before baking.

Having fun. The excess marinade was reduced with fresh tomatoes. This made a great sauce, but again was so dark and not at all tomatoey.

In the shop in China town, the tofu was sitting next to some Enoiki mushrooms. It would be rude not to…

I felt the dish needed something more….so marinated some chicken in lime, rice wine, and some Sichuan pepper.

Potato croquettes. The recipe was a bit of mix – but very nice

Not too bad. If the tofu had looked less burnt then it would have been great. They tasted really good – and the tom sauce was fantastic.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Roast Beef - Possibly the best Sunday meal in the world ?

After a fanstastic weekend golfing with the lads down at St Mellion, talk turned to what to eat when we all got home. I was with Russ and Jez, and we were musing over the various different types of Roast. (Russ pines for pork as his better half doesn't think much to it).

At this point Lou txt'd to say she was shopping and what did I want.....

Say no more....Here is the result...

Not the best cut of meat - but well cooked (as in not WELL cooked)

And in memory of one of my true hero's - Keith Floyd - who sadly died this week...A nice fat close up please Clive