Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Another little favour...

Thanks to everyone who answered the one question poll I had on here last week. You can still vote your answer by going to the blog post A Little Favour... 

Another favour I would love to ask is if you have two minutes spare to just answer a few more questions along the same lines. Below is a short survey that is vital to my dissertation research. Your answers are truly valued and appreciated, so if you have chance, please follow the link below...

Click here please!! 

Thanks and I will get more interrailing photo blogs up over the next few days for you to browse!

Saturday Night Curry... Tasty Lamb Rogan Josh

 My Recipe for a simple Lamb Rogan Josh

A tasty curry I made for dinner on Saturday night with red pepper and spinach, washed down with a cold ginger beer... yum!

I took the recipe for marinating the lamb from a Jamie Oliver Recipe, but then decided to simplify the rest of the ingredients and cooking methods just because we were hungry and wanted to eat!!

I had no chilli so didn't make mine very spicy - but if you like spice then just add 1 or 2 in with the red pepper. The Pataks curry pastes are really good for making quick, flavoursome curries when you don't want to bother with all the spices yourself...

So if you want a simple, tasty recipe, this is the one. If you're after something with a bit more depth and preparation, then head over to Jamie's recipe - it will make a truly delicious curry I'm sure!!



Makes 3 portions

2cm square piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 large tablespoons low fat natural yoghurt
black pepper

3 lamb steaks, cut into big cubes
2 tablespoons Pataks Rogan Josh curry paste
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
tin of chopped tomatoes
2 handful spinach leaves
small handful fresh coriander, chopped

rice, naan, poppadoms, mango chutney, iced cold ginger beer... whatever you fancy, to serve!


Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a plastic tupperware or bowl. Add the lamb and mix to coat all of the meat. Leave in the fridge overnight or as long as you have time for.

Add the curry paste into a deep frying pan (or wok). Fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat until the oils begin to leak out of the paste, then add the onion, red pepper and chilli (if using).

As the onion begins to soften, add the lamb and marinade and mix to combine the flavours.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes and a small cup of water (if needed). Add the spinach leaves and mix as they soften. Add most of the fresh coriander.

Put a lid on the curry and leave to simmer away on the hob or slow cook in the oven (ideally on a low-medium heat for a couple of hours). You want the lamb to be cooked through but still tender.

Cook your rice and naan as the curry is in the oven. Serve with extra coriander sprinkled on if desired. Enjoy!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

BBQ with the Girls

I meant to post this yesterday afternoon, sorry folks! But here it is, just in time for your Sat night BBQ!

Who said BBQs are a man's job?

Everyone assumes that the BBQ is a man's job - hilarious as it is (usually) the woman that does all the shopping for the food, marinating the meat, salad prep, taking out all of the food, plates, salad dressings etc. and the man just plonks the already flavoured meat onto the BBQ and nearly ruins it by either undercooking or burning it!! But on Thurs night I did a BBQ for the girls, and there wasn't a man in sight... as a result it may have been a little salad heavy and lacking in burgers and sausages! So if you fancy a refreshing change from the BBQ norm, then here are a couple of recipe ideas...

BBQ Bible

I used this book for recipe inspiration - BBQ Bible, published by Parragon years ago and probably not available any more. But if you can get your hands on it, it's a fabulous book! Colourful, full of different ways to cook meats and fish, with some very easy sauces and dressings; it's a good one to flick through and know that you will already have most of the ingredients in stock! The only sections that are uninspiring are the salad and veg dishes - but either you're a 'meat-only-BBQer' and this will not bother you, or a 'salads-make-the-BBQ' kind of chef, in which case you will probably have your own recipes! And the deserts section - but if you have room for desert after a BBQ then you're doing it wrong!

So I'll start with the meat recipes that I took from the book - Mustard and Honey Drumsticks and Middle Eastern Koftas.

Mustard and Honey Drumsticks

I used a combination of the marinated drumstick recipe in the book and a separate recipe for the honey mustard marinade, which I thought sounded like it had more flavour! So these measurements are copied from the book, but totally inaccurate as I just splashed in a bit of this and that!!

8 chicken drumsticks
125ml clear honey
4 tbsp Dijon Mustard
4 tbsp wholegrain mustard
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the oil into a large Tupperware.

Gradually add the oil, mixing it as you go until it is all absorbed.

Put the drumsticks into the marinade and coat them in it, then leave to absorb the flavours in the fridge for as long as you can (ideally make in the morning and leave all day before you BBQ).

When you BBQ, make sure that you cook the chicken all the way through but keep turning it so that one side doesn't burn (it will blacken because of the marinade, but you shouldn't get that charcoal taste!!)

Middle Eastern Koftas

750g minced beef (or lamb)
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
generous pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Blend the meat, onion, garlic, parsley, spices and seasoning to a smooth paste in the food processor. Or, if like me you can't find the food processor, then use ready ground coriander, cumin and black pepper, and just mix in your hands!

Gently roll the mixture between your hands and wrap around a flat skewer into a sausage shape.

The book then also instructs to marinate the kebabs in a Minted Yoghurt Marinade, which would have kept them nice and moist but I forgot to do... we had minted yoghurt as a side dish instead! (Recipe for that below)
So I would recommend to do that, then cook on the BBQ for about 10-15mins (depending on the thickness of your kebabs) and turn regularly. Worked well served with some ripped up naan bread, heated on the top BBQ rack for a few minutes!

The chicken will take a lot longer than the koftas, but I actually cooked them at the same time so we could eat the kebabs with some salads and have the chicken with corn on the cob afterwards!

Right, now that the meaty stuff is marinating and ready to go on the BBQ this evening, you can prep the salads!! It was so warm and lovely yesterday that I took everything outside with me and sat prepping in the garden! I used the Minted Yoghurt Marinade recipe from BBQ Bible as the dressing for my potato salad, and then also did a green salad and tomato salad.

Potato Salad

handful of new potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch of salt
4 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (or more if you love the flavour like me!!)
225ml natural yoghurt
1 tsp ground cumin, coriander or cinnamon, optional
handful of spring onions, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 small white cabbage, shredded

Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain and leave to cool.

Mix the garlic, salt, mint, yoghurt, and ground coriander (this is what I used but its your choice!) in a bowl.

Add the potatoes, spring onions, cucumber and cabbage and mix until everything is coated in the dressing. I also made a little extra to have as a dressing on the side.








Other Salads

I made a couple of other salads to keep the BBQ light and fresh, as well as some corn on the cob cooked on the BBQ, so here are the ingredients I used!

Green Salad Ingredients
handful of iceberg lettuce (chopped), lambs lettuce and rocket
1 avocado, chopped
1/3 cucumber, chopped
100g feta cheese, crumbled

Tomato Salad Ingredients
3 tomatoes, sliced (probably need more, but there was only a couple of the girls that like them!)
few leaves of fresh basil, chopped finely
dash of olive oil
black pepper
(and some red pepper, for good measure!)

So there you have it!!! A huge BBQ with lots of fresh flavours, and one that you could take your time over and keep coming back to pick at! Try out one or two, or all of the recipes, and I hope they work just as well for you!



Friday, 19 July 2013

A little favour...

I'm currently doing an MA in publishing and would love to ask a favour for my dissertation research into cookery book buying...

If you could please just vote on this one question you would be helping me out a lot!! And I'll post some BBQ recipes this afternoon for the sunny weekend ahead!

Would you buy a cookbook package that included relevant cookery utensils?

Thanks guys!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A Real Wiener Schnitzel

Interrail Stop 4

While in Vienna we couldn't leave without trying the famous Austrian dish. We wanted to go to a traditional restaurant that would serve us up a real wiener schnitzel and we had a recommendation for a small restaurant cafe called Schnitzelwirt that would do exactly that.

We got so lost trying to find it that we thought they might have shut the kitchen by the time we got there... they were closing up outside as we arrived!

But luckily, my friend speaks fluent German and managed to ask them if they'd do a quick schnitzel and mixed salad for us to share with a couple of glasses of their house white.

We sat at a table surrounded by awards and newspaper clippings of the restaurant. It was a very traditional setting with lots of wood and a smiley Austrian couple sat opposite smoking, and chatting to us about our visit!

When the food arrived not long later, it was absolutely huge and so tasty - very simple with the apple and cabbage salad perfectly complimenting the pork - YUM!

As we hadn't looked at a menu, and the order had been a quick chat with a waiter at the door, we were a little concerned about the bill.

Knowing that it was recommended as a cheap place we were hoping for the best, but when the bill came we couldn't believe how cheap it was!!! 15Euro for the huge meal and two glasses of wine! I would have paid double that and felt we had got a good deal... so all in all a fantastic evening out and a delicious wiener schnitzel!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Vienna Naschmarkt Treats

Interrail Stop 4

We didn't have long enough in Vienna - a city with so much to see and so much to do - but we had a lovely time sightseeing as much as we could and eating as much tasty food as we could!!

Here are a collection of photos from the Austrian Naschmarkt - a lively market full of everything from meats and cheeses to fruit and veg, dips and snacks to bagged up gifts of dried fruits and nuts, olives and peppers to fudge and nougat, herbs and spices to selections of wine... So much to tempt us that we ended up with a few prezzies for our fellas and families, and a few treats for ourselves (as well as all the tasty things we were given to try on our way through!)!!

I would definitely recommend a visit to a Naschmarkt if you ever get chance to visit the beautiful city of Vienna, or anywhere else in Austria or Germany - and take lots of money because you will be tempted! We ended up getting a selection of sweet peppers, olives and sun-dried tomatoes to mix with some mozzarella and pasta in the hostel to create this simple but tasty dinner!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Cafes and Food Stalls in Prague

Interrail Stop 3

Firstly, an apology for being entirely absent from this blog the last couple of weeks... After the first few hostels on the interrail tour it got pretty tricky to upload photos, so I couldn't blog the delicious food we were sampling on our way around!! On the plus side, that basically means a short blog a day for a while with all my snaps and thoughts on the various Eastern Europe cuisine we managed to get our hands on!! So I'm sorry and please keep checking back for more! I will pop a couple of recipes up as I go along as well...

So, Prague - GORGEOUS city - everything you heard about the cobbled streets, colourful buildings, beautiful places of worship and red roof-top landscape is absolutely true!

We had an amazing time wandering the streets and the castle on walking tours, and managed to try some of the side street cafe culture as well as the delicious food offered on stands in every square!!

Street Stalls

The icecream in Prague was yummy - so many different flavours - from fruity and fresh to rich and creamy! We also saw stall after stall of various grab-and-go foods, such as this pork cooking in the main square and giving off a delicious smell!









Warming Goulash

Still not in Hungary, but another goulash tempted our appetite in an underground cafe full of wooden walls, ceilings and furniture and great beers (which are unfortunately completely lost on me!) One portion plenty big enough for two, served with dumplings that had a texture somewhere in between potato and bread and soaked up the rich sauce just lovely.

Eating Cheap in the Side Street Cafes

The currency conversion is about £1=30 Czech Koruna, so it takes a little bit of thinking about to realise that your 110CZK is actually worth very little! It did, however, manage to get us a set menu (intended for one but we shared it!!) in a lovely little outdoor cafe off a side street from the main square. We had a mushroom soup for starter, which was delicious and actually very filling in itself!

Then a mixed salad with chicken and a tasty bowl of chips followed - the fresh salad was very welcome after all the warm, hearty food we had eaten so far! 

Ironically, we had ordered this set menu deal because it looked like the most food we could get for the money we had, and didn't want to withdraw any more Czech currency before we left.. but later that afternoon we ran out of water and had to withdraw far too much money just to buy some more! So we probably should have just taken more out in the first place, but oh well, we tried to do it on the cheap!!

So there you have it... the selection of food we had in Prague. A lot more traditional food from a range of different countries to follow, so hopefully see you soon!