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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Naan bread

Tuscany certainly offers lovely food, however foreign cuisine is pretty much unknown to the locals. As a result, I had my first Indian meal only when I came to the UK for my undergraduate degree course. The myriad of new flavours, exotic spices and obscure ingredients completely overwhelmed me and I must admit I was thoroughly unimpressed with it. Still, I saw how fond of Indian food the majority of British people are (not to mention the rest of the globe), so a little at the time, I made an effort to sample different dishes and educated myself to recognise the different spices and ingredients. Now, I simply adore Indian food and regularly cook it or have it at restaurants!
One of the dishes I am most passionate about is naan bread. Soft, warm and the ideal tool to scoop up a curry, what's not to like? Last night I decided to have a go at making my own: the verdict is that is surprisingly easy and definitely beats the shop bought naans (which tend to be quite chewy). I have never had a chance to watch anyone making naan bread before, so I followed a recipe by the great Madhur Jaffrey I found on Google.

Spinach & Lamb Curry (Saag Gosht)

This Indian curry is thick, spicy, hot and delicious, the perfect dish to warm you up on a cold Autumn Saturday evening.  I have adapted the recipe from this month's Olive magazine, adding natural yoghurt, fenugreek seeds, chopped tomatoes and coriander to the original one. I have used lamb neck fillet, which becomes meltingly tender through the slow cooking process, and served it with home-made naan bread.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb

My boyfriend's mum owns a farm and breeds cows, sheep and pigs. The animals live a very happy life, roaming outdoors all day, grazing the green grass of the Somerset hills and if they have any hard feed, it is always organic. We recently bought half a lamb and about 12 Kg of beef. May I just say, I am so glad we own a massive freezer! We are now stocked up for the winter and it's such a brilliant feeling to know we have access to so many different cuts of meat, each one waiting to be honoured with the way of cooking that suits it best - braising, roasting, frying, stewing. This is how I have decided to celebrate the leg of lamb.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Beef Stew

Here's my first stew of the season. So easy to make, yet so rewarding. Don't be put off by the long cooking time stews usually require; it's simply a matter of putting all the ingredients together in a casserole, then pop the latter in the oven and forget about it until it's time to take it out. I went out for a long walk in the park, with a stopover to the shops, while mine was cooking. Upon my return, I was welcomed home by the most hearty, rich scent, announcing that my dinner was waiting for me. Another strong point in favour of stews is that their flavour develops with time, and they taste even better the following day. So make too much, to ensure you have leftovers to enjoy the following day!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Apple & Almond Crumble

This is an autumnal, comforting pudding which lacks the sense of guilt you may be left with after scoffing a sugar loaded, dairy-heavy dessert, as it is mainly constituted by fruit. Or at least this is what I like to tell myself. I served this with a dollop of Yeo Valley's Apple Flapjack yoghurt, to remain on the virtuous side; however double cream or vanilla ice-cream would not be out of place here, either.

Breakfast Patties

I got the idea for this recipe from one published by Nigel Slater in the Observer  Food Monthly a few months ago; however because I couldn't remember exactly all the ingredients he had listed and the quantities, I created my own version. Patties are great to make even by inexperienced cooks as they are pretty much impossible to get wrong. In addition, they are suitable to feed a large quantity of people even if you are short of time, as you can prepare the mix the evening before and simply fry them the following morning. I accompanied mine with roasted cherry tomatoes and sautéed garlic mushrooms, but you can of course use eggs, toast, beans, or even serve them as a main dish alongside a green salad for a quick and tasty mid-week dinner.