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...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Banana loaf... with raisins & chocolate chips...

The amount of times I have actually tried and make a good banana loaf. One that isn't too moist, doesn't look like under-baked and it's not too "heavy". I have tried to achieve the "perfect banana loaf" at least 5 times by now - each and every time I failed, at least that's how I look at it. But last weekend's bake surprised me, in a good way that is. Even though I had to change, improvise with the recipe a bit - as I didn't have the brazil nuts, nor any other nuts at home - I used raisins and dark chocolate chips instead. Thankfully, as I pretty much kept the right amount of ingredients etc. the loaf turned out great! Moist but not soggy, or with that weird under baked appearance. It was slightly crumbly and not "heavy" at all. Well present banana taste and raisins, as well as that dark chocolate chips, worked well brilliantly together :)

This recipe is definitely a keeper and the only one I will use from now on, especially if I see some dark, sad bananas sitting on my kitchen counter... ;) If you, like me, weren't very successful with your banana baked creations before, please don't give up yet, not until you try this one!

banana loaf

I'm right on track with my little baking project in regards to The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook "Home sweet home", as you can guess this is another recipe from that publication :)

How to make it...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Oven fried chicken...

Recently We're eating one particular part of chicken more than others - chicken tights. There are many reasons for it: 1st it's one of the cheapest parts of the chicken, 2nd it's one of the most flavorsome parts of the chicken and last, but not least 3rd it's one that is really very versatile!
I made chicken tights many times before, but never like this. I was looking for some kind of "inspiration" when I remembered that I have a cookbook dedicated to chicken and chicken alone, well to be fair I actually have 3 books like that: John Torode "Chicken", "The chicken cookbook" edited by Simona Hill and "Poulet" by Cree LeFavour. This time I reached for the latter. I came across a recipe that didn't call for a lot of work and sounded relatively easy. The result - soft, juicy chicken with very crispy and delicious skin on top! I'm all for a crispy chicken  - and I have a feeling I'm not alone in that "passion"! ;) This oven fried chicken reminded me a little of the (in)famous KFC chicken, the one with that very distinctive skin, but to be honest - I prefer this version! And I'm pretty sure it's healthier one too.

So, next time you see that tray with chicken tights in the shop, don't hesitate - buy it! As you have a really good and easy recipe for them! :)

"Lightly coating chicken in flour before baking it in a very hot oven will give you delicious results with little mess and less fuss. This is comfort food for nights when you can’t face heating up all that oil for the real thing." - by Cree LeFavour from "Poulet" cookbook.

How to make it...

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Pecan Sandies...

I have to admit - I have never ever before heard about "pecan sandies". When looking through the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook I just thought they're another recipe for cookies. Apparently they have some history in the USA, south of America to be exact. It's a type of shortbread. I was quite surprised when I saw that you're using two types of fat - butter AND sunflower oil, I thought "surely that will be too much...?!" but all works well :)
The cookies, or rather "sandies" are very crumbly, slightly crunchy and have quite distinctive taste - sweet but slightly salty too. I don't have to mention that they disappeared within 2 days! Perfect with a strong cup of coffee.

Oh, just one thing - make sure you'll read through the whole recipe BEFORE starting to make those. The usual me, didn't do that, so my cookies weren't rolled in the sugar before baking.... They were only sprinkled with it while already on the tray and having 2 minutes in the oven... it's only then when I read all the way through, while looking for the baking time... Well, lesson learned! ;)

hummingbird bakery recipe

This recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery cook book "Home sweet home". Yes, I'm still keeping with the promise of cooking, or rather baking, through this whole book! And I'm one recipe closer ;)

pecan sandies cookies hummingbird bakery recipe

How to make it...

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Ham hock terrine... by Raymond Blanc...

OK, I admit  - this IS a dish that requires a little bit of planning, work and then waiting for the result, but the result - a colorful mix of meat and vegetables (mine is missing chopped parsley. The fact, that in my opinion, takes away a little from the taste and the look of the dish, but didn't have any parsley and couldn't go and buy it either - as it was 10 pm when the terrine was being made and assembled...). It's a dish that will be an ideal centerpiece at a party, one from which you should get about 12 portions. It can also be prepared even 2 days in advance, to take to load work when hosting a small party, family gathering etc. Even though there are many stages to make the terrine, they're all relatively easy, so you shouldn't have any problem. Be patient so - you'll be rewarded! :)

The terrine can be served with a range of accompaniments, such as pickled mushrooms, gherkins, sauce Gribiche or simple hot buttered bread or toast.

terrine raymond blanc

A terrine usually refers to a French force-meat loaf, made with coarsely chopped ingredients. Terrines are usually served cold or at room temperature. Terrines can be made of minced meat such as game or poultry, or seafood or only vegetables for vegetarian version.
This particular recipe for terrine is from one and only Raymond Blanc's "Kitchen Secrets" cookbook.

ham hock terrine - raymond blanc recipe

How to make it...