Monday, June 29, 2015

Globe artichoke... simply with butter...

It has been a while since I've tried a globe artichoke for the very first time. Actually, when I think about it, it was the only time I had a pleasure to eat a globe artichoke like that (artichoke hearts from jars don't count!). It was summer 2002, Brittany in France. Probably one of  the best places to eat an artichoke for the very first time :) I was visiting my friend - Berengere - and on one of the sunny days, her mum prepared artichokes. Simply. On it's own, with a side of melted butter.
I tried to remember how it was prepared/cooked, but the only thing I could remember was, that it was baked in the oven, at least I think it was... I couldn't think of anything more specific, so decided to boil mine - so I won't make a total mess out of it and it will still be edible...

It didn't take long. The waiting time when the artichoke was simmering happily in the pot, was full of anticipation, curiosity and a bit of anxiety as well. I can honestly and proudly say that I've succeeded! The result - soft green leaves, of a distinctive taste and a lot of fun while eating - with your fingers of course! This little, leafy globe will be perfect starter during a summer party, small gathering and even a "meal for one" (you really can't cook "too much" here!). Or, like it was in my case, a meeting of two, dear friends...

globe artichoke

My memories came back! With a bang! The moment I tore off that first leaf, dunk it in the butter and tasted it... Yes, I was in France! It's really amazing how smell and taste can bring back so many memories, literally transform us to days long gone... Now, I miss that summer. Chatting to my dear friend, who I haven't seen for few years now... time to change that!


How to make it...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Minty beef meatballs... from Curry Nation cookbook...

If you're reading Anula's Kitchen for some time now, you've probably noticed that I'm a big fan of Indian cuisine. But not being brought up surrounded by this food, this amazing culture, it presents a bit of a challenge for me every time I'm trying to create a dish. I'm happy to say, and I hope I'm right, that I'm getting better and better and more confident with Indian food. I have a huge selection of spices, ghee and I was also able to create a collection of different flours, rice and have even started making my own naan and chapati bread. So I think I'm on a good way of discovering Indian cuisine - and there's a LOT to discover.
Each region of India has it's own distinctive cuisine, dishes, spices. What's more - Indian people living, for example in the UK have created their own versions of dishes from their homeland. The below dish actually comes from a family like that. Indian family living in UK and it's from a great cook book "Curry Nation" by Madhur Jaffrey.
Minty beef meatballs... have to admit that the title didn't really appeal to me when I first saw it. Living in Ireland I always associate mint with lamb, so was quite surprised to see it paired with beef. But the result - fantastic! The sauce is creamy and surprisingly light, perfect for dipping your naan or chapati bread in it! Meatballs have nice texture - not too dry - and the spice mix is just right. Yes, I know - the ingredients list is quite long, but these are mostly spices. And yes, again - there's a bit of work involved, but steps are easy and quick. It actually took longer to cook than to prepare/assembly the dish. And it took almost no time at all - to eat it! :)


I like Madhur Jaffrey a lot, and I mean a lot! She knows her food very well and it's a pure pleasure to watch her programs and listened to her talking about Indian food, culture and traditions.

madhur jaffrey

How to make it...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mississippi mud cake... AKA death by chocolate cake!

Few days ago there was a big celebration at my house. My older Baby Girl's birthday. She's 5 years old now "Mummy, I'm a big girl now!". Yes, she is ;) As she was becoming a big girl, I decided to ask her what kind of cake she wants for her birthday, rather than just making one, one that she might not be happy with. The answer I got - BIG cake, chocolate one, with lots and lots of chocolate. Hmm... at least she knows what she wants - chocolate!
After having a good look through my numerous cookbooks, and taking into consideration that I am trying to bake my way through one of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbooks, decision was made. Mississippi mud cake it is. Judging by the name I knew straight away that it will be a proper chocolate cake, very sweet and very chocolaty. After reading a recipe I also found out that it's a cake very rich with icing - another advantage! :)

OK, a confession now - I know I baked a lot of different cakes, and I really mean a lot, but... I have never, ever, never ever in my life before, baked and assembled a proper, few layers, birthday cake... What a better occasion for it than my Little Girl's birthday...? At least she won't judge me and my cake too harsh (there was me hoping!!! ;) ). Had to buy few sandwich baking tins, as I have never baked anything like that before, I simply didn't even have proper tins! Little daunted by the task I got working...

chocolate cake

I picked up a perfect time for it - when the both girls were already sleeping. First, I wanted to be it a proper surprise for her. Secondly, I didn't really want the Girls to help me on this occasion, as I didn't know if I won't make a mess out of it myself :P even without their usual "helping hand"...
My Kenwood standing mixer was a blessing in the whole task! I have no idea how I would make and create this cake without it!!! Baked the three sponges late in the evening and simply left them to cool completely overnight. Next day morning - made the frosting and then the hardest part: assembling the whole thing... I actually thought it will be harder. Once I cut around the edges of the sponges, to make them as even as possible, I started building the cake and frosting it all over. As it was "my first time" I didn't go for anything "fancy" or too complicated when it comes to decorating the cake - simple decorating it with my palette knife and some colorful sprinkles - just what a 5 years old girls like the most, sprinkles! :) Then it went into the fridge, so it had a chance to "set" a bit before cutting and devouring it!


Result... a rich, VERY rich chocolate cake, with a frosting way better than chocolate Philadelphia spread! (Another little confession to make - I was left with some frosting, after the cake ended up in the fridge... a frosting, that was transferred into a simple, small food container and hidden inside the fridge... a frosting, that ended up then on a croissants, a dinner roll, my fingers... Hmm, a good frosting indeed!). Mississippi mud cake, or as it's now known in my house: "death by chocolate cake" ;) is delicious, perfect celebration cake that will feed a crowd! You really can't eat too much, and preferably - have some strong coffee as you do it!

How to make it...