Sunday, 11 November 2007

Nice & Spicy

The in-laws have been for a flying visit, so yesterday I cooked beef in beer for dinner. Becuase I had to go to a training session for my BFN breastfeeding helpers' course, I got the stew together mid-morning (2 onions, loads of garlic, a kilo of cubed beef skirt and a bottle of Theakstons' Old Peculier), and left it in the slow-cooker, then when they arrived and we all got home, I just had to knock up some garlic butter and make garlic bread to go with.

Today, after they'd left I made a batch of chutney, leaving it to bubble on the stove while I helped Christopher to make a collage. James was having a much-needed nap, having kept me and his Dad up most of last night. Poor little chap has a terrible cold that's really bugging him at night time. This chutney is made with an eye on Christmas; mainly to go with cold cuts and cheeseboards. Heaven. This recipe fills 3 x 450g jars which really need to be kept a few weeks to mature before using. I made 2 x 450g jars and 1 x 400g jar, so that I could put the little extra into a covered dish in the fridge for 'sampling' this evening with some nice Brie. Impatient, moi?

Spiced Apple Chutney

1 large onion, chopped
4 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 handfuls raisins and/or sultanas
400g light muscovado sugar
500ml cider vinegar
2 tsp ground mixed spice

Put everything into a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for a couple of hours until everything is cooked down to thick jamminess. When the chutney is ready, your wooden spoon will (briefly) leave a clear trail on the base of the pan if dragged through the mixture. Ladle into hot, sterilised jars and seal with lids (plastic-coated, because of the vinegar). My jars are all recycled bought ones, mainly from peanut butter, to which I admit a serious addiction.

Hubby's at work late tonight, so dinner needed to be something he can reheat quickly when he gets home. I cooked my chicken version of the curried prawn pilau that is one of my Saturday Supper regulars. The children enjoy mild-ish curry flavours and I'm a bit of a chili wuss, so I use a tikka masala paste. Use something stronger if you like. I make lots of this becuase I have a particular liking for it cold, with a dollop of mayonnaise or even (for total carb OD) enclosed in a tortilla as a rice salad wrap.

Curried Chicken Pilau

1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
a few cardamom pods, lightly crushed
a couple of dollops of curry paste (see above)
750g diced chicken thigh (or breast, if you prefer)
500g basmati rice
handful of raisins
1 litre hot chicken stock

parsley and possibly toasted flaked almonds, to serve (optional)

Gently fry the onion with the bay and cardamom in some oil and butter until soft. Stir in the curry paste, then add the chicken. Cook until sealed, stirring well to coat everything in the spices. Add the rice and raisins to the pan, then pour in the hot stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and turn down the hob. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Lightly fluff up the rice with a skewer or a fork (not a spoon, which will break the rice up into mush) and serve, with chopped parsley scattered over if you like. I like some toasted flaked almonds over it too, but the men of the house prefer not. I toast a few just for me - some for now, some for my 'leftovers lunch' tomorrow. Yummy!

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