Spanish Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Beans

Eggs Baked in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Chorizo and Cannellini Beans

Looking for a brunch or breakfast dish that ‘s a little bit different? Like to kick-start the day with a punch?  Then this spicy recipe is for you. Try it for a tasty change and if you like spicy like we do – you’ll probably love it – like we do! 

Adapted from a classic Spanish tapas dish, I’ve made it more substantial by the addition of the white beans. It could easily be a light lunch or supper dish with the addition of some crusty bread and a salad. Spicy, quick and simple, but tasting great and made from a few simple ingredients  – what’s not to like?

Ingredients                                                                        SERVES 4-6

  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 1-2 hot chorizo sausage
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1x 400gm can cannellini beans drained & rinsed
  • 4-6 eggs
  • fresh coriander leaves

My Chorizo Baked Eggs

Metthod

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180° C/350° F
  2. Chop onion, garlic and seeded chilli, ,  remove casing from chorizo and crumble.
  3. Heat oil in large oven proof frypan or saute pan, fry onion till soft, add chilli and garlic and fry till soft and golden.
  4. Add chorizo, breaking up limps and fry, add cumin, stir then add rest of ingredients except beans. Cover and simmer on low about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in beans, cover and simmer another 10 minutes. When sauce is nicely thickened, make a well, break each egg into a cup then slide into each depression. Cover and bake in oven 10- 15 minutes until whites are set.
  6.  Garnish with coriander and serve from dish.
  7. Nice served with crusty bread or toasted Turkish bread to mop up the yummy sauce. Enjoy!

Jerk chicken from The Bahamas packs a punch!

WEEK 21- The Bahamas 

Quick – what do you think of when you think of The Bahamas? Sunbathing on superb white sandy beaches, gently lapped by an impossibly blue, blue sea,  lined with palm trees? then you’d be right, The Bahamas is the original tropical island paradise, in fact one of the 700 islands is called Paradise.

Aerial view of Atlantis, AQUAVENTURE, The Cove and The Reef

Aerial view of Atlantis Resort

Where is it and a bit of history

Located in the Atlantic, north of Cuba and east of Florida Cays, The Bahamas is a sprawling group of islands and cays located on a massive coral reef system. The Bahamas was where Christopher Columbus made landfall in the new world in 1492, probably on San Salvador. It became a British colony in 1718, who worked hard to eliminate its unsavoury reputation from piracy on the high seas and such infamous buccaneers as Blackbeard. Later it became a dumping ground for slaves and those descendants make up 90% of the population today.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas

The Bahamas became an independent country in 1973 while still retaining its Commonwealth membership. Tourism and finance are it’s two main sources of income. Nassau the capital is a buzzing bustling place of cruise-ship stopovers, dubious off-shore banking, big-time duty-free shopping and crazy cabs called jitney’s.

What to see and do

The Bahamas is all about that fabulous water, with sun-bathing, swimming and all water sports at the top of the list along with cruising, shopping and partying on with sunset drinks at beach side shacks. There are some gracious pastel Georgian style old government buildings in Nassau and , a couple of really fascinating museums like the pirate museum and is right next door to the incredible Atlantis Paradise resort and water park.

Pirate Museum Nassau

Pirate Museum Nassau

This a huge themed water park spread over 41 acres and features a transparent water slide down through a shark infested tank! Awesome! All the resorts towering high-rise stuck on tiny sandy atolls are a bizarre sight themselves. Top of the list of must see is the  truly spectacular Thunderball Grotto (from the James Bond Film of the same name) the eerie Andros Blue Holes and the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Hole

Andros Islands Blue hole

Bahamian Cuisine

The food of The Bahamas reflects it’s location with an emphasis on its beautiful fresh seafood and coral reef fish, the conch in many different forms such as ceviche (raw seafood or fish ‘cooked in citrus juice) , escabeche (fish cooked lightly first then pickled), fritters, chowder or salads – is the national dish. Typical tropical crops such as coconut, taro, yams and sweet potato are traditionally grown, along with tomatoes and celery. Pidgeon peas, rice and peas are staples.

fruits

Tropical fruits

Popular flavourings obviously include the native chilli, allspice, cinnamon along with  fresh coriander, rum, native limes and garlic. Many varieties of exotic tropical fruits are used in both sweet and savoury dishes as well as many drinks. Mangoes, pineapple, guava, pawpaw, bananas, soursop and sapodilla and native limes.

 

 Chicken, pork and goat are the favoured meats and sometimes iguana!

Rum is king here, including an unusual coconut infused variety, cocktails with tropical fruits are big, a native limeade and locally brewed beer plus a liqueur – Nassau Royale made by Bicardi , a sweet rum base spiced with coconut and vanilla.

 

 JERK CHICKEN                         Serves – 4-6

 

Ingredients

  • I lime, juice & finely grated rind
  • 8 chicken legs or thigh fillets
  • 2 tsp McCormicks Cajun spice mix ( see below)
  • 1 hot red chilli, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp g allspice
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tb dark brown sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 spring onions /scallions, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tb fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tb soy sauce
  • 2 tsp chicken stock/bouillon powder
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Pat chicken dry. Rub with lime juice and 2 teaspoons creole spice
  2. Heat oil in a frypan/sauté pan over medium heat, add onion, chilli, & garlic, sauté about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add nutmeg, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and continue stirring until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to clump together.
  4. Remove from the heat and let it cool
  5. Place in a food processor or blender, then add rest of ingredients. Pulse for about 30 seconds until well blended
  6. Cover the chicken with jerk marinate, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Use gloves to rub mix into chicken.
  7. Preheat oven to 220°C/ 425°F. Drain chicken, reserve the marinade, place on a wire rack if possible,  over a lined baking tray, or on lined tray in a single layer.
  8. Bake chicken until cooked through and skin is crispy, about 30-50 minutes, turn chicken half way through.
  9. Simmer the remaining marinade for about 7 minutes till thickened. Serve with chicken.

Cajun or creole spice mix, if you can’t find this blend, you can make a simple version of your own –

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh gr, black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tb + 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt

Mix all together. Will keep well.

Rice n Beans 

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 garlic clove crushed
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons creole spice
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain/jasmine rice
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 400 ml can  (1¾ cups) coconut milk
  • 400 gm can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chicken stock powder/bouillon (optional)
  • 1 whole red chilli (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons paprika

Instructions

  1. Rinse rice three times & drain.
  2. Heat oil in a medium  saucepan, add onions, garlic, thyme, and hot chilli, sauté for a minute.
  3. Stir in rice for 1 minute, add beans, then add rest of ingredients with 1 cup of water.
  4. Bring to a boil reduce heat, and cover. Simmer on low 12 minutes until tender.
  5. Don’t take lid off to check until 12 minutes. surface should be pocked if cooked. If too wet,  leave with lid on 10 minutes to dry out. If too dry and rice still hard, add little bit of extra water, cover and cook 5 more minutes on low.
  6. Stir gently to serve. Can be cooked half an hour ahead and will stay hot covered on stove top.

Jerk Chicken & Rice'n Beans

This tasty rice was yummy enough to enjoy on its own, but with the delicious jerk chicken was really terrific. We all enjoyed this meal, the chicken was particularly good and we would happily have this dish again. In future I’d make sure to marinate extra chicken , be great in a salad, on a sandwich, or tossed with fried rice.  Score 8.5/10

An ancient bread : Injera from Eritrea and Zigni

ERITREA : Wholemeal Flatbread with Spicy Beef Stew

“Oh no” my son groaned – “not more African food!” Not much can be done about it, there just are an awful lot of African countries! So in our quest to cook from every country in the world, African food will feature a lot obviously.  However this meal was a surprise, very spicy (which we like) and the bread was delicious.

History

Eritrea wasn’t on the maps when I was growing up, then it was part of Ethiopia (which my mum called Abyssinia) but became a separate country in 1993. The modern name comes from early Greek meaning Red Sea, once part of the fabled Land of Punt in the horn of Africa. That’s the hook that sticks out into the Red Sea opposite Arabia.

Known as the cradle of (human) life, many ancient kingdoms have risen and fallen in and around this area. After 1869 and ‘the scramble for Africa’ Italy claimed this territory and it became Italian Eritrea in 1880.  A legacy of that time is the wonderful Italianate architecture in the capital city Asmara.

Danakil Depression Dallol

Now sadly Eritrea is a little visited place, due to on-going hostilities with Ethiopia (who may possibly want some of their coastline back)  and Djibouti. Eritrea has a long coastline, and in a world first in 2006, made the entire length an environmental protected zone.  Wildlife is protected and is rich and varied, with lots of large animals like lions, leopards, elephants, wild ass, oryx, jackals, gazelles and baboons.

Landscapes

Keren

Eritrea is a volcanic hot-spot, where three tectonic plates meet, giving the dramatic Martian landscapes of the Dankalia region with psychedelic sulphurous pools, and the impressive Danakil Depression, one of the hottest and lowest places on earth, with virtually no rain, Never-the-less it was where ‘Lucy’ the 3.2 million year old hominid the earliest ever. was discovered.

Sharing part of the Great Rift, there are awesome mountains in the south, and thick tropical jungle in the cooler fertile highlands.

Dahlak Islands

Coral Reef off Dahlak Islands

Cuisine

Obviously the traditional food of Eritrea is very similar to Ethiopia and Somalia, using lots of spices and tomatoes but less butter. A huge favourite is the herb and spice paste Berbere, which is eaten with just about everything. Basic foods are flat-breads (injera)  made from teff, sorghum, barley or wheat, and grains cooked like porridge (akelet) .

Legumes especially lentils and fava beans and vegetables are also key staples and the meats are beef, goat, lamb and near the coast, fish. Milk products like yogurt and fresh cheeses also feature and  spicy meat and vegetable stews known as sebhi are the main type of dish.

Drinks are a beer  brewed from corn and barley and flavoured with wild buckthorn (sowa) and mies a sweet wine made from  honey. Coffee preparation and serving has a very important ceremony and is drunk in enormous quantities.

Injera

INJERA

Ingredients

  • 125 gm wholemeal flour and 125 gm white flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Preparation

  1. Process all ingredients except salt for 1 minute
  2. Add salt and whizz again for 15 seconds.
  3. Let mix stand covered for 30 minutes in warm, or in fridge for 48 hours if possible to ferment slightly.
  4. Heat a nonstick frypan or griddle on medium high, add a dribble of oil. Pour a small ladle of batter for each injera and swirl mixture quickly with the back of a spoon to spread it out.
  5. Cook on one side for 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes, turn to brown other side. Keep warm

Mimsey’s Zigni with Injera

ZIGNI: Spicy Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • 500 gm beef mince
  • 1 x 400 gm tin diced tomatoes in juice, not drained
  • 3 spring onions/scallions sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves,  chopped
  • 4 tablespoons berbere (recipe below)
  • 1 bunch coriander/cilantro, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons oil
  • Salt
  1. Heat oil in medium frypan or saute pan over medium-high heat. add the beef mince and brown.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and cook till softened. Add capsicum and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Add the berbere and mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Adding the tomatoes and their juice, season lightly, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
  5. Five minutes before serving,mix in the chopped coriander.
Berbere

Berbere Spices

BERBERE

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 8 cardamom seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of white pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon

Method

  1. In a small heavy frypan, toast the whole spices on low for 2 minutes till fragrant.
  2. Allow to cool, grind to a fine powder
  3. In the pan, put all the ground spices and salt and toast on low heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add garlic, onion, salt and water, gradually, stirring constantly. Mix well.
  5. Add the ground spice mixture, stir thoroughly and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes, then blend to a smooth paste.

All this took quite a while to make, so my advice is to make the Berbere spice paste one day and the Injera dough if you want, and then make the beef stew the next day and cook the injera too. We were surprised how spicy this dish was, and it was very tasty, particularly with the flatbread which really was delicious. We liked it enough to have it again, a rare accolade indeed. Score: 7/10

Paprika Chicken with caraway noodles from Croatia

croatian-food-festival     images-12

PAPRIKAS

Oh beautiful Croatia, how I long for thee! Sandwiched between the Balkans and Central Europe, it has been a part of many different empires all leaving their mark on this land of stunning natural beauty. Known as ‘The Land of Regions’ owing to it’s wealth of cultural influences and varied terrains, Croatia is a treasure.

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Pletvice Lakes

Gorgeous beaches, myriad rocky islands, awesome mountains, caves, canyons,  and unbelievably scenic lakes and waterfalls. There are eight impressive National Parks and ten equally scenic Nature parks. To sum it up everywhere you go –  it’s picturesque!

Settled from the early stone age, there is fantastic architecture from many ages, all jumbled together, from Greco-Roman palaces, Viennese and Venetian mansions, Slavic churches and Napoleonic fortresses and medieval walled towns, seven places are listed with UNESCO.

Zagreb Cathedral

A colourful culture with loads of festivals and religious holidays and strong traditions in the arts such as painting, singing, folk dancing, traditional wooden toy making, lace weaving, and baking heart-shaped gingerbread. Many of these crafts are listed as culturally significant. A regional family orientated cuisine where eating and drinking are very important and a big part of any festival or (frequent)  religious days which often feature a special food or dish.

Sites to See

There are too many fantastic things to see in Croatia to mention them all, I’d love to go there myself! Have now put it on my ever growing list of places to see before I die! But some of the enormous range of top spots are: Dubrovnik and its’ impressive medieval walls, Split has a retirement palace built by the emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century,  Zagreb the capital has a laid back charm, Pula features a fantastic Roman amphitheatre (better than in Italy!) in Zadar there’s Roman streets and a forum, there is the UNESCO world Heritage St James cathedral in Siblenik and the basilica in Porec not to mention Trsat Castle.

Amphitheatre at Pula

Spectacular natural beauties include the striking other world weird beauty of Pletvice Lakes and the waterfalls at Krka and limestone rock formations at Paklenica Nature Park, the very popular Zlatni Rat beach, and various scenic islands off the dramatic Adriatic coast.

Croatian Islands

Croatian Islands

Croatian Cuisine

Traditional Croatian Foods

The cuisine of Croatia is hearty peasant food with many distinctive regional styles, it follows the European traditional diets  of protein, dairy, vegetables and grains. An emphasis  on fresh seafood from the sparkling Dalmatian coast where the influence is more Mediterranean, to the interior where the Austro-Hungarian influence is strong, and from the East came the spices, pastries and coffee of the Ottoman empire.

A popular cooking method is in a pekawhich, a wood fired brick oven where all manner of food is cooked to perfection sealed  in a peka, a dish rather like a tagine. Another popular cooking method is spit roasting and grilling meats particularly over an open fire or coals, game is a favourite, and especially cevapcici, like a skinless sausage.

Pasta and dumplings like djoki gnocchi are common, and Croatians are extremely fond of their enormous range of charcuterie.  Wonderful tasty soups are integral to most meals e.g. Zagorska juha with porcini mushrooms, bacon and capsicum. Ajvar is ubiquitous and delicious condiment made from roasted eggplant and capsicum,  and spices like poppy seeds, caraway, and paprika along with citrus and Meditterean herbs such as sage, bay, marjoram and rosemarLet them eat cake!There are many sweet treats ranging from pastries like strudles, pancakes(palacinke) meringues, cheesecakes and doughnuts  and a vast array of complicated cakes, kolači or torta’s many featuring fresh or preserved fruit. Special favourites are cherry, plum and apricot as well as walnuts, almonds and poppy seeds. Custards and cream fillings are popular too.

Drinks

Croatian Beer

Croatian Beer

Huge coffee drinkers, and not surprisingly big beer drinkers too, surrounded by many world class beer brewing countries, Croatia does make some of its own. There are over 300 wine-producing regions and many fruit or nut flavoured spirits are produced.

Paprikas with buttered caraway noodles

  • 500gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tb oil
  • 1 large potato
  • ½ red capsicum/bell pepper
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp gr chilli
  • 200ml white wine
  • 4tb sour cream
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 250ml water
  • 300gm egg noodles/pasta
  • 1 tb butter
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • finely chopped parsley

Paprikas

  1. Cut up chicken into bite sized chunks, chop onion, peel and dice potato and capsicum.
  2. Heat oil in saute pan on medium, cook onion until soft and golden brown. Add chicken and brown well.
  3. Add potato and capsicum, brown lightly, add spices and seasonings, stir 1 minute till fragrant.
  4. Add wine  and bring to boil. Add water and cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes until chicken is tender and potato is cooked. Uncover and reduce to a soupy sauce.
  5. To serve : toss cooked egg noodles in butter and caraway seeds, place in bowls, ladle on Paprikas, garnish with sour cream and parsley.

This recipe came from a Croatian cuisine web site but I looked at so many I can’t remember which one!  Paprika Chicken in one form or another has long been a favourite of our family, so while this dish was no surprise, it was still enjoyed by all, and is particularly nice served with the caraway noodles – although Bunny declared a new found aversion to caraway seeds! Scored 7/10 – pleasant but not memorable.

Shortbread with a Christmas Twist and homemade Gevulde Speculaas

Virginia’s Christmas Shortbread

I have always made a lot of different shortbread at Christmas, especially when the kids were little and I would make heaps of Christmas goodies as gifts for their teachers at school, as well as giving them to our friends and workmates. I have a quick slice and bake recipe that has lots of variations, a Greek coffee & hazelnut variety, and my mother’s delicate and melt in mouth shortbread made with a lot of wonderful New Zealand butter and icing sugar.

So I thought I had the best shortbread, until my dear friend Virginia offered me some of hers last Christmas and I was smitten! This rich, lightly spiced shortbread was the best I’d ever tasted – elevated to something really special by the addition of a clove embedded in each biscuit. I had to have that recipe, and a year later ………..I got it! Thank you so much Virginia for sharing this with me. And thank you for going to all the trouble to make some extra biscuits for me to photograph as I was rushing to pack for a holiday and ran out of time.

This recipe comes from The Australian Women’ s Weekly Cookbook ‘Biscuits Brownies and Biscotti’

Sugar and Spice Shortbread      Makes 3 doz.

  • 500g butter, softened
  • 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
  • 4 ½ cups (675g) plain flour
  • ½ cup (75g) rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 36 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of white/raw sugar, extra to sprinkle
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C or a slow oven
  2. Beat butter and caster sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Stir in rest.
  3. Press mixture together to form a firm dough, Knead gently on floured surface until smooth.
  4. Divide dough in half; wrap in cling wrap &  refrigerate 30 minutes.
  5. Roll dough between sheets of baking paper until 1 cm thick.  Cut dough into 6 cm fluted rounds or star shapes. Re-roll scraps.
  6. Place biscuits about 3 cm apart on lightly greased oven trays, push a clove in the centre of each and  sprinkle with extra sugar.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Bake in slow oven about 30 minutes or until a pale straw colour.  Stand 5 minutes before lifting onto wire racks to cool.

Spiced Shortbread Stars

Gevulde Speculaas – A Luxurious Dutch Christmas Treat

My husband is Dutch and that opened up a whole world of new treats fro me to enjoy – this is one of the best Holland has to offer! Rich, buttery, spicy and filled with delicious h home-made marzipan, this fantastic Christmas treat is very special and looks impressive too, but is actually easy to make.

Whenever I make it & give it to people they always rave about it – even my Dutch relatives! since it’s one of those things not many bother to make themselves anymore. Once you’ve tasted this though, you’ll never buy it again………it’s world’s away from the supermarket stuff.

Basically it’s a very rich,risen spiced shortbread, filled with almond paste, topped with whole almonds and baked in a s;ice pan, then cut into small squares or fingers. With a food processor it’s a whizz to make, and if you’re in a hurry, you can substitute bought marzipan instead of making your own. The result still tastes great, the slice is a bit thinner, the texture is a little more dense, and the marzipan goes a little bit chewy round the edges, which we rather like.

In Holland they sell Speculaas Kruiden or speculaas spice (rather like pumpkin spice, or mixed spice) in the supermarkets, but in Australia you’ll either have to go to a specialist deli, Dutch shop or make your own.

In Sydney go to the fantastic The Dutch Shop t’Winkeltje for loads of great Dutch lollies, biscuits, Indonesian condiments, pickles, Dutch sauces and tinned goods and tons more. Plus they have a great little cafe inside chock full of old Dutch memorabilia, serving a range of Dutch treats like croquettes, fresh bread rolls with paling (eel) or gevookte zalm (smoked salmon) and Apple Tart, met slag room of course! Wash down with a glass of Chocomel, a can of cassis or a dutch-style filter-drip coffee served with cold milk in a cow shaped jug.

Where to find them? : 85 Market St Smithfield Sydney 02 9604-0233

Gevulde Speculaas – Filled Spiced Shortbread   Makes 24-28 pieces

Don’t be put off by how long this recipe looks – it’s a couple of stages, and resting time. All the work is done in a food processor, so it doesn’t take more than half an hour to actually make. I promise – you’ll love it!

Gevulde SpeculaasShortbread

  • 250 gm flour
  • 220 gm butter
  • 125 gm brown sugar
  • 10gm/ 2-3 tb speculaas spice
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • rind, 1/2 orange finely grated
  • 28 whole blanched almonds
  • 1 egg & 1 tsp water mixed to glaze
  1. Process flour, butter, sugar, spices and baking powder together  to mix well.
  2. Add egg and process till forms a ball of dough. Knead lightly on floured board.
  3. Pat into flat disc, wrap and chill 1 hour to develop flavours.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 180°C- 190°C. Cut dough in half and roll out to fill 17cm x 27cm brownie tin. Grease tin and line with half of dough.
  5. Roll out almond paste or marzipan to fit, lay on top of dough in pan. Roll out second half and cover. Use scraps to fill in any gaps.
  6. Mark into squares, place whole blanched almond in each square, and brush top with  egg wash.
  7. Bake 30 – 40 minutes until rich golden brown and almonds are toasted. Cool on rack in pan 10 minutes, cut into squares then allow to cool completely.

Amandelspijs – Almond Paste (1)

  • 125gm/1 scant cup icing sugar
  • 200gm/2⅓ cups ground almonds/almond meal
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Process all together to make paste, wrap and chill to mature 1 hour or best – overnight.

(2)  

  • 150gm blanched almonds
  • 150gm caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lemon, finely grated rind
  1. Finely grind almonds with caster sugar, in processor. Add rest & form paste.
  2. Wrap and chill to mature 1 hour or best – overnight.

Speculaas Kruiden – Speculaas Spice Mix (1)

  • 6 tsp g cinnamon
  • 2 tsp each g cloves & freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp g aniseed

(2) 

  • 4 tsp g cinnamon
  • 1 tsp g cloves
  • 1 tsp g nutmeg
  • 1/3 tsp g ginger
  • 1/4 tsp g white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp g cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp g coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp g anise seeds

You can leave out the cardamon & coriander if you wish but they do add a depth of flavour. It’s a funny thing but when you make speculaas, no matter what combination of spices you use or in what proportion, it always seems to taste the same!

I’ve noticed the same thing when I make Ontbijtkoek or Dutch Gingerbread, (technically translates to mean Breakfast Cake – and yes the Dutch do eat it for breakfast, slathered in butter! In fact they like to eat it sandwiched between two slices of bread! Weird huh, a gingerbread sandwich!)

Happy Festive cooking to all and hope you try these tried and true recipes.

 

 

Bangladesh – curried away

Week 10 – Bangladesh 

BANGLADESH – Gosht Kalia 

My Bangladesh experience – what’s the difference between a bus and an airplane?

 

In Bangladesh – not much! Technically I haven’t been to Bangladesh – although we spent half a day there – inside Shahjalal International Airport in Dacca. Years ago, my husband and I were flying from Thailand to India and Biman Airlines was the cheapest flight. You know how in Asia, all the busses and trains are loaded up with passengers, and any conceivable thing that may need transporting, live pigs, dried fish, fresh durian! huge bags of sponges, firewood or whatever………well when we boarded at Dacca, all the locals carried all that stuff on board the plane!

Huge bags of stuff littered the aisles, there was a live pig in there too I think, or was it chickens? To our total amazement, the cabin crew  just let them bring it on board. But at take-off time, the Captain came out and walked down the aisles, kicking stuff out of the way and declaring loudly ‘that he would NOT take-off’ unless all this stuff was moved or stowed away!’

Like that was going to happen – there was so much luggage and it was so big, no way any of it would fit in the overhead lockers. After a few more kicks and stern warnings, a few things were wedged under seats and we were cleared for takeoff! As we banked steeply, all the large heavy items at the front of the plane slid down the aisle, crashing into seats – Holy Moly! It was unbelievable.

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Don’t be afraid of curry

I’ve read a lot of posts about curry – and I’m amazed at how little people seem to know about it! I read a sad little post on an Indian food blog, asking “where did the curry flavour come from”, since there was no ‘curry powder’ in the recipe? And another post by a chef  advised his readers NOT to try making curry powder/pastes themselves as it was too hard and just to use  bought ones!! OMG This is so NOT  TRUE! To set the record straight – Curry is not hard,  not all curries are hot, all curries aren’t spicy, not all curries have loads of ingredients, you can even have dry curries.

What is curry?

Nothing more than a spiced sauce. The English word curry probably comes from the Tamil word kari meaning a sauce or relish for rice. Honestly don’t be afraid – it’s really easy to make delicious authentic curries from scratch and it doesn’t take much longer than it would, if you opened a jar of the bought stuff. Believe me, no bought curry paste no matter how expensive, will ever taste as good as what you make yourself with fresh ingredients.

Ideally use whole spices and grind them yourself (I use a coffee grinder or a mortar & pestle) but excellent results can be obtained from using bought ground spices and just toasting them a little (in a dry pan) to bring out the flavours and volatile oils. A blender makes short work of grinding slightly larger quantities of whole spices and add wet ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, chillies, garlic and ginger to form curry pastes or masalas. Add water to make it all whizz together to a smooth paste and you won’t believe the fantastic aroma or flavour! Note: the water won’t affect the finished dish as it will evaporate during cooking process.

If you have always bought curry powder or ready-made pastes, please make your own next time – you won’t believe how easy it is!

Bangladesh

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of background about Bangladesh – where is it?

Ah Bangladesh, literally Land of Bengal, also aptly known as the Land of Rivers. Once it was Bengal and part of India, then it was East Pakistan for a while, then became independent Bangladesh in 1971. Sitting on the world’s largest delta, with over 700 rivers including the three major ones that form the Ganges Delta flowing through it, the country is lush, green, very flat and very watery. It’s incredibly densely populated, Bangladesh has the 8th biggest population in the world. Regularly plagued with floods, famine and other natural disasters.

What to see

Relatively undeveloped means fewer tourists (it’s the least visited country in South Asia) but fewer tourist facilities. For the intrepid traveller, there are great things to see such as The Sundarbans, the world’s largest Mangrove forest and home to the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger, The Pink Palace in the Dhaka, and a boat ride on the muddy Buriganga River from Sadarghat, a colourful chaotic seething mass of humanity afloat.

Also two UNESCO World Heritage sites of Bagerhat, including the fantastic medieval mosque, Shait Gumbad, and the buddhist remains of Somapuri Mahavihara.

Tour tea plantations in the cooler hilly Srimangal region and relax, enjoying a first rate cuppa while in the Chittagong Hill Tracts you can visit Tribal Markets and for the adventurous go on guided Hill Treks through thick jungle to visit some of the minority hill tribes.

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Sadarghat Boat Terminal Dhaka

 

 

Somapuri Mahavihara

More important: What to eat – leave room for sweets!

What not to eat! Bengalis are famous for their warmth and hospitality and love of food! Their sophisticated cuisine is based on rice, dhal (lentils for those who don’t know) , vegetables and curry of infinite variety. From a plethora of recipes for me, stand out dishes are Bengali Matar Kachori – crisp deep fried breads stuffed with spiced lentils, Korma– a mild creamy nutty curry, Shahi Chicken Biryani – the supreme rice dish, Dim Bhuna – Bengali Egg Curry and Balti fish curry.

There is a huge array of breads, Luchi being a favourite, lentil and fish dishes and a particular fondness for pickles (Achar) and unusually for smoked foods like fish but vegetables too.  Many different cooking methods are used including Dum, steaming under pressure and Bhunnuna which is pan or oven roasting.

There is a version of Chinese 5 spice called Panch Phoran – panch is five in Bengali and phoran means spice. This is a mixture of 5 whole spices, in equal proportions of: Cumin, Fennel, Fenugreek, Black Mustard and Nigella or Kalonji Seeds. (Note: NOT to be confused with Black Cumin or Onion seeds).

Bangladesh (then Bengal) is the home of Indian sweet making and sweetmeats, many of them based on a rich creamy milk reduction called Khoya. Hugely popular, every region has it’s favourite speciality. If you have never had Indian sweets before, you really should hunt out a place that makes them, and give yourself a taste sensation. Rich, very sweet, decadently flavoured with almonds, pistachios, saffron and cardamon and often decorated with real edible gold or silver leaf called Vark, lots are fudge like. Or soft and custardy or fried fritters in syrups.

Many are difficult and time-consuming to make, and best left to the professionals. But definitely worth making at home is Payesh/Kheer,  a delicious creamy, spiced rice ‘pudding’ flavoured with saffron, cardamon and topped with nuts and toasted coconut. Totally delicious, I sometimes make it in winter on the weekend as a treat for breakfast.

Bengali Lamb Curry Meal

Mimsey’s Bangladesh Meal

 

Gosht Kalia Bengali Lamb and Potato Curry       Serves 4-5                       Ingredients

  • 2½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 inch cube ginger, finely grated
  • 1-2 tsp g chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 large lamb fore quarter/shoulder chops, about 700gm, cut off the bone, into small cubes
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 tb oil, suitable for frying, eg. rice bran, grapeseed, canola
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 tb tomato paste

Method

  1. Dry roast cumin seeds in a small fry-pan until fragrant. then grind to fine powder
  2. Mix 2 tsp of the cumin, yogurt, vinegar, ginger, salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric and chilli in a bowl. Mix in lamb. Marinate 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Parboil potato cubes until just tender. Cool, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp turmeric. Panfry with 1 tb oil until golden.
  4. Heat remaining 2 tb oil in frypan, fry rest of cumin, till they pop, Add rest of spices, and onion, fry till golden.
  5. Add garlic and sugar, stir then add meat and brown. Add tomato paste and 1 cup of water, cover and simmer until tender, about 45min. – 1 hour.
  6. Reduce sauce if necessary. Toss in potato cubes and serve with rice.

I took this recipe from a cookbook of mine I use a lot – the food of india published by Murdoch Books. This recipe is very similar to a recipe for Bengali Mutton Curry  found at http://www.khanapakana.com  Unfortunately the night I wanted to make this recipe, we had a massive storm and I had to unplug the internet in case my computer got fried. So I used my own recipe.

With it I served a raita of cucumber, tomato, red onion, mint & chilli, plain steamed rice, lime pickle and mango chutney. We thought this curry was a pleasant every day sort of dish,  a curry you could often make and always enjoy.. Score 7/10