Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chicken Curry

As mentioned on Grand Lake Ink, here’s my recipe for chicken curry. You can also substitute beef or lamb if you prefer, but use beef or lamb stock not chicken. It’s also a great way to use up leftover turkey at Christmas, but if using leftovers, make the curry and then add the turkey.

Which curry powder you use is up to you, depends how hot you like your curry.

Chicken Curry

Serves 4


3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons butter
An inch of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
½ cup plain yogurt
3 ounces tomato paste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
A dash of Tabasco sauce
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed.
3 cups chicken stock/broth
1 beef tomato, cut into wedges
¼ cup raisins
2 cups basmati rice, cooked according to package directions. (Don't use California rice, or worse still any of that pre-packaged muck).


  1. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté onion, stirring continuously for 2 minutes, add garlic and ginger and sauté for a further minute.
  3. Add spices (first 5 ingredients) and ¼ cup of the chicken stock/broth and sauté, stirring continuously, for 3 minutes.
  4. Add chicken and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  5. Add yogurt mixture, potatoes, and remaining chicken broth to pan.
  6. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add tomato wedges and raisins, simmer covered for a further 10 minutes.

Serve over hot, cooked basmati rice.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Beef and Biscuit Pie

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my hubby has a penchant for pies, be they topped with pastry, potato, or biscuit. For any Brits out there reading this, that doesn’t mean topped with ginger nuts, or Mcvitie’s chocolate digestives.

When I first moved from England to the US and saw "Biscuits and Gravy" on a breakfast menu, visions of shortbread swimming in gravy sprang to mind, and I thought, that’s disgusting! I have, of course, since learnt that biscuits here look like scones, but taste like a cross between bread and pastry. If that makes any sense.

This recipe is still the only type of biscuits and gravy I eat, the sauce is delicious. It’s also really quick and easy to make, prep and cook time 40-45 minutes, so it makes a great mid-week meal, and keeps all pie loving husbands happy. :-)

Beef and Biscuit Pie


1 lb. Ground sirloin
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 pint beef stock/broth
½ cup dry red wine (+ 1 glass to drink while cooking)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
A generous dash of Worcestershire sauce.
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste.
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 can refrigerated biscuits


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

  2. Heat oil in a large, tall sided skillet over a medium-high heat. Add ground beef and sauté until browned.

  3. Add onion to meat, and sauté for 2 minutes.

  4. Add garlic, carrots, and basil to pan, sauté for a further minute.

  5. Stir in wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, add mushrooms, and simmer for 10 minutes.

  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mixture to an 11 x 7-inch baking dish, reserving most of the sauce in the skillet.

  7. Top mixture with biscuits, and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until biscuits have risen and are browned.

  8. Reheat reserved sauce over a low-medium heat. In a small jug combine cornstarch and water, mix well, and add to sauce. Stir sauce until thickened.

  9. Serve pie with sauce and seasonal vegetables.

By the way, I love this quote from WC Fields, "I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food."

Monday, April 21, 2008

The International Year of the Potato

This year's potato crop in our garden

The UN Has designated 2008 the International Year of the Potato. As wheat, corn, and rice prices soar, developing countries are turning more and more to potatoes as a staple foodstuff.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, "... it is ideally suited to places where land is limited and labor is abundant, conditions that characterize much of the developing world. The potato produces more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop - up to 85 percent of the plant is edible human food, compared to around 50% in cereals."

Potatoes have long been a popular food in Europe, but this hasn’t always been the case. The potato, first discovered by the Spanish conquistadors during an exploration of Peru, was introduced into Europe in 1570. It was not greeted warmly. Due to the potato plant’s resemblance to the nightshade genus of plants, it was treated with suspicion, considered unfit for human consumption, and used as animal fodder.

Today, we understand the nutritional value of the humble spud, which provides starch, is rich in vitamin C, high in potassium, and is an excellent source of fiber. Prior to 1800, the English diet consisted primarily of meat, supplemented by bread, butter and cheese. Very few vegetables were consumed as they were regarded as nutritionally worthless, and potentially harmful.

It wasn’t until the late 18th century, largely due to food shortages following the Revolutionary Wars, that potatoes came into common usage in England. The potato’s popularity increased still further during the Industrial Revolution, when much of the country’s rural populace moved into crowded towns and cities. There they toiled in factories, working twelve to sixteen hour shifts, which left them little time or energy to cook a meal. Easily prepared potatoes became a staple foodstuff, and remain so today.

To learn more about The International Year of the Potato visit:

Potatoes Dauphinois


2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced.
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese, (I didn’t have either so I used cheddar)
¾ cup of warm milk
2 tablespoons of melted butter. (And a little for greasing dish)
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
Fresh ground black pepper to taste.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Grease an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with butter.
  3. Layer half the potatoes in the dish, add a layer onions, top with Gruyere, Swiss, (or cheddar) cheese, and a generous dash of black pepper.
  4. Layer remaining potatoes in dish, and pour in warm milk.
  5. Brush potatoes with melted butter, and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
  6. Bake at 425°F for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until potatoes are browned.

Update. I read this on the news today:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chicken & Pineapple Stir-Fry

Once again, the Midwest has been battered by storms, torrential rain, high winds, and tornadoes in some areas. For the third time in as many weeks the creek at the bottom of our garden burst its banks, and flooded the garden, fortunately, it’s nowhere near the house. Then this weekend we’re back to wintry cold weather.

But the good news is, we are set to warm up and dry out this week. I hope so. The grass is growing like crazy, but it’s just too wet to mow, consequently the garden looks more like meadow.

Mick’s homegrown veggies are doing well though. Outside, potatoes, onions, radish, lettuce, and spinach are all coming along nicely, despite the weather. Indoors, under a growing lamp, he has, tomatoes, cucumber, squash, watermelon, and basil. And he’s purchased some bell pepper and strawberry plants from the local garden center, so we should have lots of fresh fruit and veggies this summer. Visit his gardening blog at:

This week’s recipe is another easy mid-week dinner, prep and cook time only about 30 minutes.

Chicken & Pineapple Stir-fry


1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 16 oz package frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 8 oz can unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained
Hot basmati rice, cooked according to package directions


  1. In a colander rinse and drain stir-fry vegetables.In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over a medium high heat. Stir-fry chicken for 5-6 minutes or until juices run clear.
  3. Add the vegetables, pineapple and soy sauce mixture, stir-fry for a further 3-4 minutes until vegetables are heated but still crisp.

Serve over basmati rice.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More Eggy Things

Spaghetti Carbonara (or as Mick calls it, bacon and egg pasta), makes a great brunch or dinner dish, and even better it only takes about half an hour to prep and cook. I haven’t included a photo, because while it tastes fab it’s not very photogenic.


Serves 4

8 ounces spaghetti
8 slices thick bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 eggs
½ cup + 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
Fresh ground black pepper to taste


1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add spaghetti, and boil gently for 7 minutes until spaghetti is al dente. Drain and toss spaghetti with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.
2. While spaghetti cooks, fry chopped bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.
3. Discard bacon drippings and wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
4. In same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat, add onion, sauté, stirring continuously, until onion is translucent.
5. Add garlic and sauté for a further minute.
6. Return bacon to pan, add spaghetti, add cream, and season with black pepper, heat gently, stirring often.
7. While cream heats, in a small bowl beat eggs, add parsley and pepper to eggs and stir.
8. Add eggs to pan and toss all ingredients with a large fork. Cook until eggs begin to set.
9. Add ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, and toss mixture again until cheese is combined.
10.Transfer spaghetti to a warm serving dish, top with remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Eggy Things

Duck eggs prior to scrambling

Yesterday Mick went round to see our free-range egg suppliers, an old gal named Corky and her husband, known by us as Mr.Corky. Usually Corky gives us a box of eggs out of the fridge, but this time Mr. Corky went down to the chicken coup and got them straight from under the hens’ bums. You can’t get fresher than that. He also gave Mick two duck eggs to try, and recommended he have them scrambled.

On Sundays, Mick usually makes himself two boiled eggs and toasted soldiers for breakfast – I’m not a breakfast eater. I know, it’s the most important meal of the day, blah blah... but I just don’t do it. Anyway, this morning I had to give him a lesson in how to scramble eggs, so that he can make his own in future.

But, teaching Mick to scramble eggs did bring back a few memories of school days. Scrambled eggs were the first thing we made in domestic science class. I can still remember the teacher, Mrs. Crabtree, Ma Crab as she was known. She was okay, a bit strict, but not as bad as some. The French master, Mr. Dyer, used to scare me to death, woe betide you if you hadn’t done your homework. I still have nightmares about masculine and feminine nouns, I mean why can’t they be like the English, there’s no confusion with the, is there?

Anyway, I digress, but it did remind me about an article on the BBC a couple of months back, where they were on about re-introducing one hour per week cooking lessons at schools. They were going to make cooking compulsory, in an effort to combat obesity in kids. The idea being that if kids learnt to cook they wouldn’t be so dependant on junk food. An admirable idea, but they aren’t going to learn much beyond the basics in an hour. Scrambled eggs on toast, anyone?
If you’re interested, you can read the article here:

And just in case you don’t know.

Scrambled Eggs

Serves One


2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
Fresh ground black pepper
A small knob of butter, (about 1/3 of a tablespoon)
2 slices of buttered toast.


1. Break eggs into a small bowl, add milk, and a dash of pepper to taste.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
3. Add eggs to pan, and stir continuously until eggs coagulate.
4. Spoon over toast, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chicken Kiev Crunch

Chicken Kiev Crunch

Garlic, lots of it.

Chicken Kiev Crunch is a variation on an old favorite. A combination of garlic and butter inside the chicken makes the meat moist and flavorful, and the crushed Cornflakes on the outside make a crispy coating. I often use crushed Cornflakes as an alternative to breadcrumbs on chicken and fish. This recipe serves two.


2 chicken breasts
1 ½ cups Cornflakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tablespoon vegetable oil


1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with oil.
3. Put Cornflakes into large storage or freezer bag and crush with a rolling pin.
4. Make a slit in the top of each chicken breast.
5. Dip each chicken breast in beaten egg, roll chicken in the Cornflakes until coated, and place on baking sheet.
6. Cut butter into ½ tablespoon slices, and press garlic into butter. Put 3 pieces of garlic coated butter in each chicken breast. Top with more Cornflakes to seal the slit.
7. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
I served this with saute potatoes and sweet corn.