Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Curry Powder

We had something I pulled from the depths of our freezer for dinner tonight, so I don't really have a recipe to share today. I thought I'd share my recipe for the curry powder that was the base of the pumpkin, lentil & spinach curry I rescued from said freezer.

In general I try not to buy anything pre-made. I prefer to have the pantry (and fridge & freezer) stocked with enough base ingredients that I can make anything we want/need - even if it means a bit more work. Plus, the food tastes a lot better, I know exactly what is in everything, and we can avoid the dreaded preservative 282, and palm oil products. One of the few things I do buy pre-made are Thai and Indian curry pastes, and 'it's not ideal' (to quote Claire from MC), but I have no idea where to start without them.

So when FMIL passed me this recipe for and Indian-style curry powder, that could be made with ingredients I already had in the spice cupboard (except fenugreek - I have NEVER known what you were supposed to do with it, so I have consciously avoided buying it... but FMIL provided that too :) ), I jumped at the chance.

It's not a spicy curry powder, so if you prefer it hotter, I would add chilli flakes (to taste) with the other ingredients.

I used 3-4 tbs, cooked off in approx. 2 tbs vegetable oil (I use rice bran oil), for 2/3 smallish pumpkin and 1 (or was it 1 1/2?) cup of lentils. I'm sure you could also use it in similar ratios for chicken, but I'm not so sure about beef - I don't think it would be robust enough.

Alphie's FMILs Indian-style curry powder
makes just over 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tbs caraway seeds
  • 2 tbs turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tbs ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
Now, this is the hard bit... put everything in a food processor and process until well ground. Then store in an airtight container.

It is actually harder than it sounds, I used my stick mixer, and the bowl attachment that came with it, and it did a pretty poor job. Next time I'll use the proper food processor, with its 'dual blade technology'. I am tempted to use the coffee grinder, but FH Alphie had a fit when I mentioned it, so it looks like its the food processor or the mortar and pestle (if I'm feeling active!) next time.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lentil and spinach en croute

Tonights dinner was a bit of a last minute affair. We had originally planned to see a movie, and have dinner somewhere after or before. But, it turns out that one week before the school holidays is not a great time to see a movie - there is nothing on, bar all three Twilight movies, Toy Story 3, Shrek 3 (or is it 4?) and Sex in the City 2... None of which appealed.

So, just before I left work, I sent FH Alphie to the supermarket to pick up the last few ingredients I needed for this recipe. This caused a bit of drama, as our tiny local supermarket only had 'peppers' in jars and he wasn't sure if they were capsicums, or chillis.

One of the main reasons I had been meaning to try this dish was to try out the puff pastry we had in the freezer - lovingly made by FH Alphie (before the busted wing).

To be honest, it wasn't exactly what I had anticipated, although it definitely made more than the recipe suggested. I probably wouldn't bother to make it again - I can think of a few better uses for the precious puff pastry.

FH Alphie rated it 7/10

I'm not going to include the recipe today - I didn't really make any changes to the original, which is at the link below.

Lentil & spinach en croute
delicious magazine, March 2009, pg 102

Puff pastry
Bourke Street Bakery - The ultimate baking companion, pg 162-165

PS Does anyone know what these weird leaves are that are always in the baby spinach packs??

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuna pasta bake

Ok, so a bit of pasta overload here, but it's easy to eat one handed, which is a requirement in our house at the moment - FH Alphie has a busted wing.
This is something I have never cooked before, as it brings back bad memories from my childhood, as
Tuna Mornay, as it was called in our house, had a long stint as my sisters FAVOURITE MEAL EVER, and we ate it at least once a week. It took me a long time to recover from that period in my life, however I think I am now over it. I saw a recipe for Creamy tuna and pea pasta bake in Super Food Ideas (SFI) magazine recently and it caught my interest (the fact that I even noticed suggests that I have recovered from the tuna mornay overload) and mentally filed it away for a future time.

This is a bit of a bastardised version of that recipe. The recipe in SFI used peas, and since FH Alfie has a thing against peas, and I made him eat them yesterday, I substituted that for baby spinach, the recipe also used evaporated milk, which I didn't have, and don't usually buy, so I made up a basic bechamel/white sauce instead.

FH Alphie rated it 7/10

Tuna pasta bake
(adapted from SFI, June 2010)
serves 6 hungry people

  • 3 cups short pasta
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 90g butter
  • 1 or 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 90g plain flour
  • 2 heaped tsp mustard (seeded or smooth)
  • 750ml milk
  • 425g can tuna in springwater, drained and flaked
  • 100g (approx) baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (or 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used Colby)
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender. Add broccoli for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking. Drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan, add onion and cook over medium heat until just soft, then add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in flour, and keep stirring until flour has 'cooked off' a bit, then stir through mustard. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Bring to the boil, stirring, then stand aside.

Combine pasta and broccoli, white sauce, tuna and spinach. Season and pour into a 3L ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with combined cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes until heated through and the top is golden.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One pot pasta

As promised, dinner tonight was 'one pot pasta'. I got the recipe from, but I think it was in delicious magazine first.

It is kind of reminiscent of a Bolognaise, or at least Bolognaise the way is it generally interpreted in Australia - rich, tomato-ey and meaty. Regardless, it is the perfect thing for a winter night, especially a lazy Sunday, because although it takes a while, you don't have to do much for most of that time, it just bubbles away, making the house smell delicious. Although the recipe says it serves 4, it looks like it would easily serve a small army, or 6 at least - after FH Alphie and I have eaten, there is always a lot more than half left. And, if you are the cook
and washer-upper (which is my status, currently), you only dirty one knife, chopping board, pot & spoon. And the cupboards & floor, if, like me, you have an incident with the red wine...
One pot pasta
serves 4-6, see above.

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs rosemary leave, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 250ml red wine
  • 750ml beef stock
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 500ml tomato passata
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500g small pasta shapes (shells are best, as they 'hold' the sauce, but any small shapes will do)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • parmesan, to serve

Heat oil in a large, heavy based saucepan (I used a cast iron Le Chasseur pot), and cook onion until soft (1-2 minutes). Add garlic & rosemary, and cook for 1 minute. Then add beef and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned.

Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, passata, sugar & bay leaf. Season, and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add pasta and 25oml boiling water, and cook until pasta is al dente. Stir it frequently once the pasta is in because it will stick. Stir in peas and allow to heat through.

Stir through parsley, and serve with parmesan, and a glass of red wine!

Hello! Welcome!


The plan is this; no competitions, no challenges, just a blog about food & cooking. Well, that's the plan, but if I find an awesome pair of shoes, I can't promise I wont be compelled to show you...

I might just start it off with tonight's dinner...

So, sit back, relax and enjoy my recipes, musings & experiences.