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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Homemade Naan (Much Easier Than You'd Think)

I love the fluffy naan that you get in restaurants, but not so much the supermarket ones that you heat up at home. As I was making curry for my dinner party I thought I'd also try my hand at naan to recreate that gorgeous fluffiness at home. It was amazingly easy after researching a few recipes and combining the best ideas I came up with this, which seemed a simple and tasty way of making them. They went down well and I wish I'd made more/bigger naan!

Naan Recipe
Makes 5 at the size in the picture, you could make them bigger or smaller as you wish
Preheat the grill as hot as you can
If you can't get onion seeds (I couldn't) a nice lady in Waitrose said to use sesame seeds for crunch or a handful of chopped coriander leaves for flavour
As usual I used my Kitchen aid to knead the dough for simplicity

1½tsp dried yeast
1½tsp sugar
200g plain flour
100g strong white bread flour
1½tsp black onion seeds
¾tsp salt
¾tsp baking powder
1½tbsp vegetable oil
3tbsp plain yogurt
3tbsp milk

In a small bowl mix the yeast and sugar with a tablespoon of lukewarm water and leave to activate for 10 to 15 minutes until frothy.
In the mean time put into the mixer bowl the flours, onion seeds, salt and baking powder.
When the yeast has activated add it to the mixer bowl along with the oil and yogurt.
Set the machine to knead the dough, stopping once it is soft and smooth, add some of the milk if the dough feels dry.
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for at least an hour, until it has doubled in size.
Heat the grill.
Divide the dough into as many balls as you want naan.
Using your hands, gently pull and flatten each ball into a tear shape about ½cm thick.
Dry heat a frying pan and then place one of the naan into it for 15 seconds or so to lightly brown one side. Place the naan, seared side down, onto a tray under the grill for 2 to 5 minutes until it has puffed up and has golden patches on the top.
Repeat with the other balls of dough.
Enjoy with curry.

Leek and Bacon Pasta Bake

This is a family favourite and I can't remember where it originated from but my sister can probably tell me! We normally cook this in France and have a few variations - chicken and broccoli, leek and bacon, pea and chicken, or any combination of those ingredients. I'm afraid this is one of my very vague recipes as I always forget to weigh the ingredients before I cook them. You just need to make enough cheese sauce to cover the pasta. Last time I made it I used half dried pasta and half fresh pasta and it tasted delicious.

Bacon and leeks
Leek and bacon pasta bake recipe
Serves 3 or so people
Preheat the oven to 180˚

2 leeks, thinly sliced
6 rashers of bacon, cut into pieces
Enough cooked pasta for 2 people
Knob of butter
Plain flour
Optional grating of nutmeg
Cheddar cheese or gruyère

In a frying pan gently and slowly cook the leeks and bacon until the bacon is cooked and the leeks are soft and not squeaky.
Cook the pasta so that it's al dente.
Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and add the flour to make a roux (when it makes a sort of paste from the melted butter and flour).
Once the roux is made, slowly add milk, stirring/whisking all the time, until the mixture is smooth.
Bring to gently to the boil and keep stirring until the sauce thickens.
Take off the heat.
Grate a little nutmeg in (I don't know where to put in the nutmeg in a cheese sauce so I just add it near the end) and then pop the grated cheese in to taste. Stir until the cheese is melted in.
Put the leeks, bacon, pasta and sauce in an ovenproof dish and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or so until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown on top.

Cheese sauce with nutmeg

Murgh Makhani

Also known as Butter Chicken, this Indian curry is generally mild, though in parts of Asia I've ordered it and it's most definitely been a medium-spicy curry! In fact, the sauce I used for the dinner party was also a medium curry, so I'd suggest you use less of the paste if you don't like spice very much. According to Wikipediea the authentic Delhi version of butter chicken is more spicy than the western kinds so that might explain the spice differences!

If you want a vegetarian curry then change the chicken to Paneer cheese (it's Indian cottage cheese, I bought mine from Waitrose). You don't need to marinate the cheese, just make the sauce and add the paneer about five minutes before serving it. It's called Paneer Makhani if you make it this way.

Murgh Makhani Recipe
Serves 4
Serve with rice and/or naan (homemade is best!)
You need to marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours, but I normally do this overnight to help the flavours develop (ooh, that sounds very professional!)

450g diced chicken
2tbsp butter chicken paste (mine is Fern's and I bought it from and - it's fairly authentically spicy though!)

2tbsp thick plain yogurt

2 crushed garlic cloves
1tbsp vegetable oil
2tbsp vegetable oil
1 diced onion
100ml cream
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2tsp sugar
100ml water
2tbsp butter
2tbsp curry paste

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in an oven proof dish and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
When you want to start cooking preheat the oven to 200˚ and put the chicken in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Meanwhile, fry the onions in oil until soft and then add the curry paste, frying until fragrant.
Add tomatoes, butter, water and sugar and then cover the pan with a lid, cooking for 20 minutes.
Put the cooked chicken into the sauce, or gravy as it's also known, and cook for a few more minutes, stirring everything together - it'll really start to look good now.
Finally add the cream and check seasoning before serving.

How spicy do you like your curries?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Easy Peasy Tomato Sauce

I never seem to have pasta sauces in the house when I need them so I make my own sauce whenever I want a simple meal. It tastes amazing with homemade pasta (dried pasta also tastes very good) and takes maybe half an hour to make (if the pasta's already been done that is). Take a look at my other recipes for how to make your own pasta.

Pasta sauce recipe
Use a heavy bottomed pan with a lid and remember to stir it occasionally or else it sticks
Feeds 2 with one can of tomatoes, add another and adjust the seasoning for 4 people

1 onion, roughly diced
drizzle of olive oil
1x 400g tin of tomatoes
Crushed garlic
Fresh basil (optional but great if you have it)

It's simple, really, just soften the onions and garlic in the oil, add the tomatoes basil and seasoning.
Cover and let simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.
If you over-salt the sauce just add some brown sugar for a sweet counterpoint.

What's your go-to sauce? Is it homemade or shop bought?

Decadent Dinner Party Chocolate Tart

I hosted a dinner party last night. I'm currently curled up on the sofa remembering the awesome, if I say so myself, food, and less fondly, the amount of alcohol. I'm not hungover, before you say anything, but absolutely shattered and full to the brim. It was meant to be a meal for 7 but the day before people started dropping like flies so it wound up being the me, Grace and her boyfriend, Dom eating curries with pilau rice and homemade naan, followed by vanilla ice-cream (the first time I made it) and a double chocolate tart with amaretto, which is the recipe that I'm sharing with you today. The other recipes will follow.

The recipe is from Tom Kerridge's recent TV show and his version has sugar coated almonds and coffee cream plus even more chocolate. Whilst chocolate is never a bad thing there was rather lot of it - three quarters of a kilo to be precise! I kept the amaretto as it tastes really good, though you can omit it if you need to. Try not to be tempted to add more as the flavour really does develop over time. Also, the best/only type of amaretto sold in England is Disaronno Originale, a fact that I didn't know until I asked someone at Waitrose if they had amaretto and they pointed to the Disaronno right next to me!

Chocolate Tart Recipe
You need a 9" round loose bottomed tart tin for this - it turns out that this is very different from the 8" sandwich tin that I originally was going to use, so if you don't have one then I'm afraid you do need to buy one.
175g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
80g icing sugar
140g cold butter, diced 
2 free range egg yolks (preferably medium eggs)
560g milk chocolate
195g double, or heavy double, cream
90ml amaretto

Sift the cocoa, sugar and flour into a large bowl (sifting really is necessary for this one - sorry!).
Add the butter and rub into breadcrumbs, or blitz in a stand mixer - be careful not to over mix it like I did!
Then add the eggs yolks and mix into a dough, adding cold water if it feels dry.
Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge to rest for an hour (I left mine overnight and it was a bad idea - very solid and then poof, it was suddenly too soft to do much more than rush it).
Preheat the oven to 170˚C.
Lightly flour your work surface (or use The Mat by Sweetwise, like I did) and roll the dough out so that it is large enough to fit in the tin and about half a centimetre thick.
Gently place the rolled dough over the case and carefully press the dough into the corners of the tin (if there's a large extra long piece of dough then tear it off, wrap it in cling film and use that to press the dough into the tin).
Line with baking parchment and then baking beans and place in the oven for 25 minutes before removing the beans and parchment and returning the pastry to the oven for another 10 minutes to dry it out.
Once it has cooled firm the excess dough off the edges of the pastry case.

Using a bain marie (see Coeliac brownies post) melt the chocolate over a low heat.
Pour the cream and amaretto into a pan and heat until boiling.
Add the cream and amaretto mix to the chocolate and stir until incorporated.
Put the ganache that you've just made into the cooled pastry case and leave to cool.
Once the ganache has cooled, place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that it sets (In my case I had to put it into a cake carrier and then on my balcony as the fridge was too full!!).
Serve with ice cream (vanilla or coffee would be best).

Do you like double chocolate or do you find chocolate desserts too sweet?

Oops, sorry - this evidently refused to post yesterday!!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Gluten-Free Brownies

We all know someone who's coeliac or doesn't eat gluten, it's becoming a common phenomenon now.  I came across this recipe years ago when a friend was newly diagnosed and envious of all the cakes and sweet treats that everyone seemed to be enjoying. It's such a good recipe that it's now my go-to brownie recipe, although I rarely use gluten free flour as none of my immediate friends here are coeliac. The only problem is if someone is allergic to nuts as the way the recipe keeps down the flour is by using ground almonds. On the other hand, if you like nuts then add hazelnut butter in place of half the butter (keeping the other half) - it makes it taste of nutella!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

New Name For The Blog

Hi guys, as you might have noticed, I've changed the name of my blog. The Interesting Food Blog was a good name (my sister came up with it) but unfortunately if you type that into Google you just get lots of awards sites, which are great but I have no hope of competing with the likes of Saveur and Delicious. given that they are magazines. Gourmet In The Making, is the new name and hopefully it's accurate - apparently my father said to my mum "I think Lily's turning into a foodie". Mum's response? "She always has been!". I may never compete with the top chefs (and I'm not sure I want to at this point in time) but I hope you enjoy my recipes and don't forget to like me know how they go (I believe the anonymous option for posting comments is working but the google one isn't - I'm still working on it).


Hi guys, I'm having some problems with comments not appearing on the blog and I know that some of you have had issues. If you could hold fire for a few days on any messages, now that I'm aware of the problem im working hard to try to fix it. Thank you for your patience.

Friday, 10 October 2014


I've been struck down by fresher's flu (despite no longer being freshers) so my cooking and blog writing has suffered a bit. I'm now well again and raring to cook some more. So far so good on that front: this week I've made scotch eggs, pasta, 4 batches of brownies, fajitas and tortilla española. In making all of that I have used up two dozen eggs! The meal I'm telling you about today is the only one that doesn't contain any eggs.

I'm not going to say that there's a recipe to make fajitas because there isn't, not really. Just choose the options on the list that you want, cook the chicken/quorn in the fajita seasoning mix and the relevant veg then place everything in bowls on the table. Voilà, one fun meal for everyone to enjoy. The photos were taken by Sarah, who stood on a chair, announcing she felt tall, in order to take some of the pictures.

Fajita "recipe"
Take your pick as which bits you want.
Put the tortillas in the microwave according to the instructions on the pack (normally about 30 seconds for 4).
I tend to serve two tortillas per person, heating the second ones as everyone finishes their last mouthfuls of the first.

Chicken (one small breast per person) or quorn (especially for Grace!) to the same amount as the chicken.
Fajita spice mix (mine's from Barts and I got it at Waitrose)
Shredded lettuce
Hot and/or cold sweetcorn (my sister will only eat it cold, ick!)
Salsa (Tracklemore do nice ones - I found it really difficult to find salsa in the small supermarkets near me and wound up buying mine in a cheese shop in Didsbury)
Chipotle sauce (Changos in Manchester does the best and they now sell it in store)
Grated cheddar cheese
Tortilla wraps
Mushrooms sliced and fried in butter
Melted red peppers and onions (2 of each plus butter)

the peppers and onions beginning to melt down

Cook 2 red peppers and 2 onions, cut into long strips, in about 50-100g of butter over a low heat for 30 minutes, keep the lid on and stir occasionally, adding more butter if needed.
Cook the chicken/quorn in butter and add the seasoning to taste.
Heat/cut the rest of the ingredients as you wish and place in bowls.
Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Remind everyone that there's got to be enough for another round and tuck in!

What do you put in your fajitas?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Warming Leftovers Lentil Bake

My mum made this dish often in Singapore and I enjoyed it but felt the meal was too warming for the climate. I made it for my flatmate and a friend in Manchester and it was perfect for the colder weather! It's incredibly healthy with everything you need for a balanced meal - protein, vegetables, carbohydrates and dairy. It's easy to make in advance and reheats well (excellent when it's a recipe for 4 and there's only 2 of us). If you need to omit the meat that's fine otherwise it adds a nice bite and you can use leftovers from the Sunday roast. Also from your Sunday roast you can use uneaten potatoes and vegetables. Food recycling at it's best!

Lentil Bake

Preheat oven or grill
Use a Le Cruset style pan (mine is a size 20)

¾ cup of lentils

1½ cup tomato passata (otherwise puree a tin of tomatoes)
1 roughly diced onion
1 large diced carrot
1 diced red pepper
½ cup of sweetcorn
½ cup of peas
Green beans chopped small, if you have any leftover
Packet of lardon/diced leftover roast lamb or beef/4 diced rashers of fried bacon
2 baking sized potatoes, thinly sliced and boiled

Enough grated cheddar cheese to cover the potatoes

Fry the onions, carrots, peppers and meat on the hob in a bit of oil until soft.
Add the lentils, passata, peas and sweetcorn and cover with a lid, simmering until the lentils are cooked and the liquid has all been absorbed (about 30-40 minutes).
Top with the sliced potatoes and the the cheese.
Place under the grill or in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
leave to cool for 5 minutes and then enjoy.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Macaroni Cheese: Comfort Food At Its Finest

Sometimes, you just want cheesy comfort food. No, I don't mean corny, I mean with a huge pile of cheese in it. If you don't believe me then look at the picture!

 I made macaroni cheese based on a Soho House found online, which used parmesan as well as cheddar to form a lovely crust on top of the dish. The original recipe, however, used a lot more cheese than my version as I wanted to make it slightly healthier (425g of cheese for four people? I don't think so). I also like to have a bit of bite in the form of piquant chorizo in my macaroni but Soho House's recipe was true to the original meal. I made it because, after a tiring first week, I wanted something deliciously filling and treat-like for supper. Unusually, (for my mac and cheese recipes at least) this dish is placed under the grill rather than cooked in an oven.

Macaroni Cheese Recipe
Serves 4-5.
Preheat grill as hot as possible.
Use English mustard to bring out the flavour of the cheese.
Make sure the pasta is cooked al dente and no further as it will continue to cook once it has all been put together.
350g macaroni pasta
35g butter
35g plain flour
500ml milk (preferably full fat but other types are fine)
1 chorizo ring, diced small
110g (sauce) and 80g (topping) grated cheddar cheese
35g (sauce) 25g (topping) grated parmesan
½tbsp english mustard
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to instructions until it is al dente (with a slight bite to it). Drain well and rinse with water so that the pieces don't stick together as they cool.
Fry chorizo in a pan until fragrant and oily.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a heavy based, grill-safe pan (I use a le cruset casserole) and then mix in the flour.
Slowly whisk in the milk and then allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring all the time, until you have a thick-ish, smooth and glossy sauce, although it will thicken further in the oven so don't worry too much about that part of it.
Now add the sauce amounts of the two cheeses into the pan, along with the mustard and seasoning, and stir until the cheese is melted.
Add the cooked macaroni and chorizo to the sauce and mix well.
Mix the leftover (topping) cheese together and spread evenly over the top before placing the dish under the grill for 15 minutes until the mixture is golden and bubbling.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then serve.

What's your classic mac and cheese recipe?

Baking Society

The finished article
I started my second year of university last week and it's going well, although I'm still getting used to the early mornings! There was a Baking Society meeting this evening and I went along (last year it clashed with Italian classes). I made a passionfruit and lime sponge cake and it went down a storm. In fact, it went so well that I came first in their impromptu competition! The cake also got demolished within the hour so I have to apologise to Sarah and Grace as I promised them a slice - if you come over next Wednesday to watch Les Enfants Du Paradis then there will be a replacement cake waiting for you to help the three hour film go down more easily.

Passionfruit curd
The passionfruit curd was bought from one of the many markets in Central Manchester (one of the ones in St Ann's Square last June and also from the Christmas market) and is made by The Cherry Tree. I highly recommend them as it tastes incredible and they have other lovely flavours, like raspberry curd. My lime icing involves the zest and juice of 2 limes and then enough icing sugar to make a thick water icing (I do it by eye and so can't tell you the weight of the sugar). I got a new citrus zester today and they're really hard to work out the correct angle but once you do they're awesome and much better than my blunt grater!

A purple rose

I also made a purple sugarpaste flower to top my cake as I got annoyed by the society's email asking us to bake something that shows off our skills - a little intimidating, I thought. Sugarpaste roses aren't as hard to make as they look but they do require patience. In a future post I hope to explain how to make them, with photos of course.

The demolished cake