A Trip Along the Grand Trunk Road – Part 1 Poussin Penda

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Most of you already know of my love for Indian food (see previous posts here and here).  Any sort at all, from the mildest korma to the more unusual dishes.  I was browsing a charity shop a couple of weeks ago when Big Miss K asked if I had seen this cookery book – she knows where my heart lies you see.  Anyway, it turns out they were selling a whole load of them for 50p each.  Now, I’m still very particular about cookery books in my house and this was the only one I bought from that pile thank goodness, otherwise we may have to get more bookcases.  And I am so pleased I did.  It’s called ‘Food of the Grand Trunk Road’ and must have been a gift for someone originally because it just hasn’t been used – the pages have hardly been turned let alone ending up like most of my spattered books.  These dishes are more unusual, how often do you think about buying a book and then realise you have 10 all which have the same recipes in them already – this is certainly not one of those books.

It took me some time to decide what I was going to make.  Eventually the decision was made, A Rogan Josh (Mr K asked for something spicy), a Poussin Penda and more unsually, and because I currently have a glut of eggs, Aloo Dimer Jhol, an egg curry with potatoes.  I have to say, I have never used eggs in a curry and did follow the recipe to the letter as I was concerned the eggs would fall apart and it would all turn to mush but no, it was amazing.  In fact all of them were delicious.  Mr K loves Indian food but I can have a slightly heavy hand when tipping chillies into a dish, and occasionally he has a look of fear once the heats comes through, only occasionally you understand.  He tells me that although these were hot, they were not ‘blow you head off’ hot, which is a compliment, honestly.  The heat dissipated quickly and you were just left with the full flavour.  I did tell him to drink a Lassi with it but he looked oddly at me and said he would be just fine with beer.  I can only apologise for the photos – by the time I took this it was quite late and we were very hungry – oh, and I might have had a couple of glasses of wine ;-)

So the first dish I will tell you about is the Poussin Penda – I will post the others over the next couple of days and hopefully in time for you to give them all a go for an Indian Feast at the weekend.

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Poussin Penda – serves 4 as part of meal – syns per serving 0 (syn if you eat the skin though)

  • 1 Poussin, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt

Heat pan and spray with some frylight, add the onion, garlic and cinnamon and cook until the onion is browned.

Add Poussin pieces and fry until skin is lightly browned, then add pureed tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garam masala and salt and mix well.

Stir in 1 litre of water, cover and cook poussin on medium heat for about 20 minutes.

After this time, check chicken is cooked through and remove from the sauce, check if sauce is thick enough, if not, reduce down until it is the required consistency, if too thick, add some more water – this is personal taste.  It is THAT easy!

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Moroccan Jewelled Delight

 

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One of the things I love is picking veggies from our veg plot.  It seems sometimes that is the only place I can get peace and quiet.  I used to put music on and weed, dig and plant but now I relish the solitude and listening to the birds and the wind through the trees.  Only the occasional offering of polite greeting to an allotment neighbour disturbs my peace, or the occasional advice request (me doing the asking I hasten to add, I’m not naturally green fingered).  Quite proud this year of the fact that we have 2 rows of fennel happily growing which I have never grown before.

My plot is certainly by no means a thing of beauty but I can take the children down and they absolutely love digging up potatoes or picking beans or courgettes, getting a little conveyor belt going, big Miss K digs, little Miss K grabs the potatoes and Middle Miss K gets to count them into the trug.  All of this said, one of the best veg is rainbow chard, and luckily you plant it, it grows, as long as it has enough water and sun, it just grows, no fussing over it, no picking out smaller plants, and look how pretty it is, it looks like jewels glinting in the sunlight.

This dish was inspired both by the butternut squash, which seems to have been frequently used in the last week in my house as I made Curried Squash soup with lentils and then another squash appeared and I just thought the colour, along with the chard was a thing of beauty.  Chard has such a lovely earthy quality that it really suits being served with the sweetness of the squash.

I don’t often use pastry nowadays as I adore it and if it is in front of me, I would generally eat too much of it, but 3 of these little beauties are made out of one filo pastry sheet and you spray with frylight so you can really control your syns if you follow Slimming World.  I did try making one by rolling a whole sheet around the cooled mix like a sausage roll and then winding it round like a snail but it did not look particularly pleasant and was rather unwieldy but give it a try if you have more patience that I.

The only other thing to remember is to make sure is that everything is about the same size dice, remember, these are delicate things and not like a whacking great big pie.

 

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Moroccan Inspired Filo Tartlets – Serves 6 – syns per 3 tartlets – 6

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • rainbow chard or spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 0% greek yogurt
  • handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1 pack Just-roll filo pastry (just remember to check syns depending on type of filo used)

Fry off onions and garlic in fry light until softened

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Add butternut squash, then all of the spices and stir to coat, adding seasoning

 

Add enough water to cook the squash, which will take about 15 minutes with the lid on, but not so much that the mixture is wet at the end, no running sauce in this dish

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At this stage you can either keep this warm while you cook your filo or you can leave it to cool and reheat later

Spray a muffin tin well with frylight

DSC_0064Lay 1 sheet filo on a board, spray liberally with frylight and then cut into 3 squares and place them as you wish in the muffin tin

Place these into a 180 degree C oven for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned

Remove from oven and put warmed mixture into the tarlets

Serve with 0% Greek Yogurt mixed with seasoning and chopped mint and a green salad

 

My Dad’s Favourite Thing!

 

DSC_0963I have to start this post by apologising to my Dad.  Lemon Meringue Pie is his favourite thing but I’m afraid he didn’t even get to eat this.  I was trying to think of a dessert that didn’t involve chocolate.  We are a little boring when it comes to desserts in the Shrinking Queen household, both me and Mr K always go to chocolate as a default – the more chocolatey the better.

However, we were off to some friends for late lunch and were assuming there would be a bbq and really, if the weather was going to be as delightfully hot as it has been recently, chocolate might be a little messy.  Oh, and we had a whole bunch of eggs that needed using – the ones that had to be prized out from underneath Peppa Hen who is incredibly broody at the moment and keeps pecking me every time I reach for them so I have done what any sain person would do and allocated this task to Big Miss K – she has a rather novel way of moving her off the eggs by gently pushing her with a stick until she she gets fidgety and moves, then a swift hand movement and those eggs are ours!

My apologies for this being the second post in a row that isn’t Slimming World friendly to those of you that follow me because of that but it’s a great dessert that needs to be promoted.

Now, can I get into my Dad’s good books by making him one soon?

 

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Lemon Meringue Pie – not Slimming World friendly

For the pastry:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk

For the filling:

  • 2 level tbsp cornflour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated zest 2 large lemon
  • 125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
  • juice 1 small orange
  • 85g butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 egg yolks and a 1 whole egg

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 2 level tsp cornflour

For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and 1 tbsp cold water into a food processor. Use the pulse button so the mix is not overworked, process until the mix starts to bind. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather together until smooth, then roll out and line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin. Trim and neaten the edges. Press pastry into flutes. Don’t worry if it cracks, just press it back together as you can see with mine. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil, shiny side down, and chill for 1⁄2-1 hour (or overnight).

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Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200 degrees C. Bake the pastry case ‘blind’ (filled with dry beans) for 15 mins, then remove the foil and bake a further 5-8 mins until the pastry is pale golden and cooked. Set aside. (Can be done a day ahead if you want to get ahead.) Lower the oven to 180 degrees C.

While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling: mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. Make orange juice up to 200ml/7fl oz with water and strain into the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. Beat the egg yolks (save white for meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon. (It will bubble, but doesn’t curdle.) Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue.

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DSC_0953Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without overbeating. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick. Quickly reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case. Immediately put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling (if you start in the middle the meringue may sink), then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help stop it sliding).

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Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling (and starts to cook), then give it all a swirl. Return to the oven for 18-20 mins until the meringue is crisp and slightly coloured. Let the pie sit in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave for at least another 1⁄2-1 hr before slicing. Eat the same day.

 

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July’s Foodie Penpals

I mentioned a little while ago that I had joined Foodie Penpals and luckily a couple of my lovely blog friends also said they were doing the same thing. I thought it might be simple, I mean, I’m a foodie and it should be no problem buying local or lovely things for other people right?  Wrong, although I got paired with the fantastic Christine from Germany to buy for who didn’t have any particular dislikes it’s a bit tricker buying for someone you don’t know – although I’m sure it will get easier.  Christine doesn’t blog so I will show you what I sent to her later on.  Firstly I will show you what a fantastic parcel I received from Nikki at Your Last Mouthful who is based in Cardiff.

So here it is with explanations – Nikki had asked me my likes and dislikes and it’s useful if someone has a blog as you can see the kinds of things people like, and had perfectly paired the goodies with me.  In the Shrinking Queen household we have taken great pleasure in opening the parcel and inspecting it’s contents, the mini K’s loved it as much and me and Mr K so it’s a really great thing to do – Nikki must have a really great oriental shop nearby as you can see (oh and an amazing obsession with Japanese Kit Kats – I know, did you even know there were such things?)  The smell of this box was amazing (like my earlier post on curry here, it smelt like my favourite cupboard).

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  • Thai Green Curry Kit
  • Sesame dessert from Japan (add hot water until thickened)
  • Methi Leaf
  • Jelly Straws (the kids adored these and I need to go and find some for Big Miss K as she is constantly swimming so could do with the sugar hit)
  • Green Tea Mochi (amazing, you think it should be incredibly sweet but just isn’t,)
  • Chinese Preserved Figs (addictive, sweet and sour)
  • Hot hot Chillies
  • Variety of chinese inspired teas
  • Macha and Sakura Kit Kat – I saved this for an evening on my own and have to say, this one was very much like the Western kit kat we know and love but just has a slightly different edge (and I can see why they are an obsession – the only issue is that they are too small ;-)).

Onto the parcel I sent to Christina with explanations – she has sent me a lovely email saying she had already tasted the sesame snaps – these are a staple snack in my house as the mini’s love them and there are no arguments about wanting more as a pack is a pack!  I’m hoping she enjoyed the rest of my parcel too.

DSC_0931My parcel contained:

  • Vietnamese prawn crackers (I adore the way these little waxy discs explode into something so familiar when added to oil)
  • Local Marmalade (with bits in, it MUST have bits in)
  • Sesame Snaps
  • Peanut Brittle (apparently Christina loves peanuts and sweet things, a perfect match)
  • Some Yunnan tea from my local market stall (slightly floral)
  • Home-made vanilla and chocolate fudge (I was concerned this may not make it in the heat so hope it was ok)
  • Recipe for Banana and Nutella Cake (here if you wish to give it a go)
  • And her favourite thing, a loom band bracelet made by Big Miss K (who was determined to get involved).

I can’t wait for next month now…

‘Pimped’ Mary Berry Carrot and Walnut Cake

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Big Miss K, aged 10, decided she absolutely MUST make a carrot cake. This was a great idea, I had a work call to make and Little Miss K needed some entertaining so off she went to retrieve her step so she could get up to the kitchen counter and they were off.

Big Miss K is generally self-sufficient and obviously takes after her parents as she is always wanting to do something or other in the kitchen – and she’s definitely a feeder, she just wants everyone to enjoy the things she makes. And enjoy this cake we all have. I had to try it, but only a small slice – if you are following Slimming World then I can only hope you too are a ‘feeder’ and are able to resist it – if you can’t then all I can do is blame Miss K – but look at her proud face, you wouldn’t blame her, would you!

I actually used a square tin to bake one large cake, then forgot after 40 minutes we had to go out so it got 40 mins, then I turned the oven off and left it in the cooling oven to cook through so not actually sure how long it took. I like to bake in one and slice through afterwards into 2 cakes as it stays really moist and doesn’t have dry edges but will put the Mary Berry way of doing it below.

The ‘pimping’ of a Mary Berry recipe is seen by some as sacrilege, but who am I to stop experimentation of a 10 year old. When the suggestion of caramelised chopped walnuts came up I did insist that I had to make that part and like an idiot when I was pouring it onto the top of the cake a piece dropped off so I just picked it up, ouchie, I now have the blisters on fingers to prove that a woman in her 40’s should also not be left alone in the kitchen with caramel – I’m sure Mary Berry wouldn’t have made this error!

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‘Pimped’ Mary Berry Carrot and Walnut Cake

  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g muscovado sugar
  • 200g carrots, grated
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 75 g walnuts, chopped, plus some to decorate

Icing

  • 50g butter, at room temperature
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 250g full-fat cream cheese
  • a few drops of vanilla extract

To top

  • sugar
  • walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan. Grease two deep 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases of the cake tins with baking parchment.

Put the oil, eggs, and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk until the mixture is well combined, lighter, and noticeably thickened. Gently fold the carrot into the cake batter, then stir in the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger, and chopped walnuts until evenly blended.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the tins. Put the cakes in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown, risen, and shrinking away from the sides of the tins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing: Put the butter, icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk using a hand or electric whisk until smooth and thoroughly blended.

Spread half the icing on one cake, sit the other cake on top, and spread the remaining icing on top to make a swirl pattern.

For the topping: put sugar in heavy based pan and heat until it has turned to caramel, do not stir, thrown in walnuts then when cooled slightly pour over cake – and if you drop any DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT pick them up.

It’s a Humous Day

DSC_0924 What an amazing time we had watching Le Tour de France leave Cambridge – a lovely sunny day, we visited all of the fun activities first thing in the morning and then cycled out to just past the start line, catching the ‘caravan’ which were lots of advertising cars throwing all sorts of odd things out of them (my children managed to accumulate a fold up frizbee and a blow up guitar amongst other things – how random).   Then we saw the pack coming towards us, the riders all got up on their haunches and flew past us in a haze of speed. It was great, and just lovely being able to cycle through the main roads of Cambridge without having to pay much attention to the children cycling safely as the roads were closed to vehicles – I don’t think they could quite believe it either, something they have never been able to do.  However, with all of the positives there is always a negative and that was I put on 4lbs – oops.  I had treated it like a Bank Holiday as we all had the day off, it was so hot I felt I just had to participate in a glass or two (or 3) of wine.  Then there was lunch out – see, now I’m writing it down I know exactly what happened don’t I – but that’s fine, it’s the scenic route again, no problem.

Mr K went off to the cricket a few days later so it was only me to feed once the kids had gone to bed.  It really was a hot evening so I couldn’t face much, but I also know that risking no food I may well head for a disaster of being hungry late at night, so I decided on making humous, not just any old humous but one with onions, which both bulks it up and gives it lots and lots of flavour – you really do have to like onions, probably quite lucky that I was on my own as I may have been rather unsociable if anyone else was around.

I still had my HEX B left so toasted a couple of pieces of brown toast, then I sliced them on a board so it actually makes 4 pieces and then toast the cut sides until crispy and it makes them like melba toasts – delicious.  Then I had some cucumber and carrots sticks and it was addictive, standing by the cool fridge and just eating – thank goodness I had decided on that, otherwise it really might have been a disaster!

And it must have worked – the 4lbs had gone by the following week – onwards and upwards, or rather, downwards!

N.B.  You can leave the tahini out of this and add water to make it right consistency but I’m afraid there is nothing to beat the tahini really (you can add up to 3 tbsp if you are happy with the syns!) DSC_0926 Balsamic Onion Humous – syns – 4 for the whole lot

  • 2 medium yellow or sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sweetener, divided
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons reserved liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoons tahini paste (4 syns)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Really good squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Water (optional for consistency)

Cook onions in a frying pan in frylight with sweetener added.  Season with a bit of salt. Spread onions out across the pan and let cook, stirring every few mins, until softened, about 20-30 minutes total. In last 10 mins add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and stir to coat. Once they are caramelized to your liking, remove from pan.

Save a small amount of onions to top the hummus later, if desired. Add the rest to the large bowl of a food processor.

Reserve about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the chickpea can and drain and rinse the rest of the chickpeas.

Put 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and let simmer until reduced to a thick, syrupy liquid, about 1-2 tablespoons worth. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add to the food processor the chickpeas, liquid from the chickpea can, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon sweetener, salt, and pepper.

Process until smooth. Adjust to taste, adding water if you want to loosen consistency.

Serve hummus topped with reserved caramelized onions and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

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What’s Your (Th)inspiration?

Originally posted on Operation Mini-Mummy:

Firstly a big grovelling apology for not being the best blogger lately, I have seriously been neglecting my little corner of the web for a few weeks…. booooooo me! I have been quite neglectful of a few things recently, with exception of the children- at least my priorities are in order I suppose!

Over the past few days I have been on a quest for thinspiration- I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been a bit flaky lately, but I do really want to recapture that enthusiasm I had in the first few weeks. I’m not sure how everyone else gets themselves inspired diet wise (I’d love to know) But among other things, I like reading other peoples blogs- I often pick up recipes, hints and tips, as well as boosting morale or just realising that other people have the same struggles and you’re not the only one who…

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