Chicken Korma

Blimey, it has been a busy week.  Blogging has had to slip down the list of priorities.  Family members and several friends foolishly signed themselves up four months ago to take part in the local am-dram performance of Aladdin and this week is the week of the performances. So out of a sense of comradeship I foolishly signed up to help with doing the stage make-up.  This has been good fun and a lot of trial and error (poor old Widow Twanky) but it has meant snatched meals and quite a bit of forethought has been needed to make sure that the children and my husband haven’t felt neglected in the evening meal department.

Last night I prepared this Chicken Korma, it is an adaptation of several recipes that I read and I am not even sure if it qualifies for that name or if I should just call it Spicy Chicken.  I was really pleased with the way it turned out.  I have written before about how my curries are usually a bit disappointing and so I tend to rely on Patak’s pastes for my curries.  Whilst Patak’s do make delicious pastes, it has always frustated me that I can’t manage to make a tasty curry of my own.  Well, finally my goal has been achieved with this one.

It is great if you are busy because you can leave it to marinate, then spend a few minutes cooking the onion and tipping the marinated chicken into a pan and then leave it to cook gently until you are ready to eat.

Serves 2

4 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp root ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped finely (with seeds for heat)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
seeds from 6 cardamom pods
150g natural yoghurt

1 onion
25g ground almonds
5 fl oz (¼ pint) water

Flaked almonds, to serve


Place the cumin, cardamom and coriander seeds into a saucepan and place over a medium heat for a minute or so until their scent is released.  Grind until fine in a pestle and mortar.

Slash the chicken thighs several times with a sharp knife to allow the marinade to penetrate into the meat and place in a non-metallic bowl. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon juice, spices and the yoghurt and mix well so that all is combined and the chicken is well covered.  Leave to marinate at room temperature for one hour, or all day in the fridge.

Chop the onion finely and fry in a little oil until translucent.  Tip in the chicken and the marinade and cook for a minute or so, then add the ground almonds and the water.  Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for about 45 minutes until the chicken is tender.  If you have an Aga then place it in the simmering oven and you can leave it in there simmering away until you are ready to eat.  I left mine in for three hours and then placed it back onto the simmering plate to bubble away and thicken the sauce before serving with plain rice.

To toast the flaked almonds, place them in a dry pan and toast over a medium heat for a minute or so until lightly browned.  Sprinkle over the Korma just before serving.

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Pea and cos salad – the return

A few weeks ago I posted about my efforts to recreate the pea and cos salad we had on our wedding day.  Well here is another version of that salad, and this is a bit closer to the original. I have made this a couple of times in the last couple of weeks – well you can never have too much of good thing, surely? The recipe is an adaptation of one given to my mum by a very good friend who was a guest at our wedding and knows how much we loved it. The original recipe calls for mayonnaise and then adds Dijon mustard, vinegar and sour cream.  However, as I make my own mayonnaise which already has mustard and vinegar in it, I don’t add these as an extra and I replace the sour cream with yoghurt, as I always have a pot of that in the house. If you are using mayonnaise out of a jar though feel free to add a little mustard and vinegar to spike things up a bit.

I promise this will be the last version I post, I don’t want to risk boring you.

Feel free to add parmesan shavings too.

For the mayonnaise:
1 whole egg
pinch of Colman’s mustard powder
small clove of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
100ml of oil ( a mild olive oil or half and half of olive oil and ground nut oil, depending on your taste)
1 tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice

Method for mayonnaise

Place the egg, mustard powder, crushed garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor and whizz until combined.  With the motor running, pour the oil in a steady and gentle stream through the funnel of the processor until the mixture is emulsified and thick.  I tend to use around 100ml of oil, but it may need more or else so be guided by your own judgement. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and whizz again.  Check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar/lemon juice to taste.

For the salad:
Homemade mayonnaise (as above)
150g greek yoghurt, or thick natural yoghurt
a good handful of mint, finely chopped
peas (I use frozen and as many handfuls as I think I need)
lettuce of some description

Method for salad

Combine the mayonnaise and the yoghurt and add the chopped mint. Cook the peas in boiling water for a minute or two, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Add to the mayonnaise mixture.  Arrange the salad leaves on a plate and dollop over the pea mixture.

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Buckwheat pancakes

I started writing this blog because I love cooking and I think that writing this blog has made me love cooking even more.  I have always experimented and adapted but now I have even more reasons to do this.  Before I started this blog I didn’t follow other blogs, in fact it was a whole new world to me, one in which I am diving ever deeper all the time.  Reading other food blogs has sparked inspiration in many ways.  Choclette and her Chocolate Log Blog sparked an interest in using different types of flour and so I started with spelt, which I and Mr OC both love.  So whilst on a shopping trip to the supermarket which sells such things (well I do live in Shropshire!) I decided to make the longer trip worth our while and bought some buckwheat, kamut and gram flour too. So expect recipes featuring these soon!

Anyway, pancakes are not just for Shrove Tuesday in this house, they are a regular feature of the weekend breakfast, so on Saturday I decided to try buckwheat pancakes.  I also have lots of Total yoghurt sitting in the fridge, so this was another good reason to try out a slight variation on my usual scotch pancakes/ drop scones recipe.  Mr OC and I enjoyed them very much; they have a nutty sweetness to them.  The children who were expecting their usual recipe enjoyed them less, but that can be explained by the habitual nature of my children’s palates.

I served them with grilled bacon and maple syrup, which really set us up for the day.

225g (8oz) buckwheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 eggs
275ml (½ pint) whole milk
2 tbsp Total yoghurt


Measure the flour  and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the centre.  Add the eggs.  Mix the yoghurt and the milk together and pour half into the well with the eggs.  Whisk the mixture to a smooth batter and add the rest of the milk and whisk again until smooth.  The mixture should drop off the whisk with ease but be quite thick.  You want it to sit in small puddles when you put it onto the pan.  If you think it is too thick, then add a little more milk.

Heat a pan until hot.  If your pan is not non-stick or seasoned then you may need a dot of oil wiped over the pan with a piece of kitchen towel. Using a ladle spoon on four pools of batter.  Cook for a minute or so, small bubbles should appear all over the surface. Turn the pancake and cook for another minute.  Serve with the topping of your choice.  Butter and maple syrup are good, as is jam, or lemon curd, or indeed bacon and maple syrup.

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Cheese, herb and yoghurt scones

As a result of my membership of the UK Food Bloggers Association I found out that Total yoghurt were giving away a selection of their yoghurt in return for bloggers coming up with recipes that use yoghurt.  Having been a long-time fan of Total yoghurt I had to put my name forward for this one.  Sure enough a hefty delivery of yoghurt arrived, including the full-fat version, 2% and 0% fat, and even ones with corners of honey to drizzle straight into the waiting yoghurt pot.  My first foray into yoghurt cooking are these scones.  I have wanted to make soda scones (or indeed bread) with yoghurt instead of buttermilk for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity.  I had made minestrone soup and left it to simmer gently in the simmering oven of the Aga whilst I took the girls to the local play pit for an afternoon of racing around with their friends.  So, when we came in all I had to do was add the pasta, warm the soup bowls and make these scones to go with the soup.

They take very little time to make and are a delicious accompaniment to soup.  They were also good the next day, reheated and refreshed by a five-minute burst in the oven, and spread thickly with marmalade.

You could do almost endless variations of these; leaving them plain, or adding olives, chopped crispy bacon bits, chopped Peppadew peppers, your favourite herb or spice, or you could add currants and raisins for a fruity scone.

The addition of yoghurt made them more dense than I think they would have been had I used buttermilk (or milk with added lemon juice, if you don’t have any buttermilk, see my post on soda bread for an explanation) but I think in this case this was a bonus as it suited the minestrone soup perfectly.  You may not be quite so happy with your tea-time scone being this heavy, though.

I used half plain and half spelt flour as I love the nuttiness of the spelt, but you could use all plain flour for a lighter scone or use half plain and half wholemeal.  Feel free to experiment.

220g (8oz) plain flour
220g (8oz) spelt flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (bread soda or baking soda)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp dried thyme
50g (2oz) grated cheese (I used Red Leicester)
500g Total yoghurt
100ml milk
juice of ½ lemon


Mix the flours and salt in a bowl and sieve in the soda.  Sprinkle in the thyme and the cheese and mix well with your hand to get it all evenly mixed.

In a jug or bowl, mix the yoghurt, milk and lemon juice and then pour this into the flour mixture.  Mix with your hand until combined.  Place on to a floured surface and roll to a depth of about 2-3 cm.  Using an 8cm cutter cut out scones with one tap.  Don’t turn the cutter or the scones will fail to rise. Try to do this as quickly as possible as you need to get these in the oven whilst the soda is still doing its magic. Place onto a floured baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 220°c (gas mark 8) (or on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga)  for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.   Allow to cool for five minutes, but they are best served warm, with lashings of good butter.

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Horseradish sauce

I roasted a rib of beef for sunday lunch this week and made this horseradish sauce to go with it.  I was impressed with its fresh and zingy taste, much nicer than anything that you can buy in a jar.  We only grew one root of horseradish in the garden this year and this is it, but we will definitely be making space in the garden for some more next year as it really is lovely to have a freshly made sauce.  The grating of the horseradish root does make your eyes stream though so be prepared. Making it with yoghurt rather than the usual cream means it is a lot healthier.  This means you can have more with none of the guilt.

2 tbsp horseradish root, grated finely
1 tsp white wine vinegar
150g greek yoghurt
salt and pepper to taste

Place the grated horseradish into a bowl with the white wine vinegar and mix well, stir in the yoghurt and add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill and serve with roast beef.

Get printable version

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Tony’s tsatziki


This is a recipe from our good friend Tony, who on a recent visit to our house made us a delicious bowl of this tsatziki.  The recipe that follows is his and as he is of Greek Cypriot descent, I suppose it can be called authentic.  It’s lovely and we had some tonight with our roast chicken and baked pumpkin, both of which will follow in new posts soon.

1 long cucumber
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
500ml strained greek yoghurt
½ tsp salt
1½ tsps mint or dill, finely chopped
black pepper

Peel the cucumber and halve lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Coarsely grate the cucumber and place in a sieve over a bowl and squeeze to get as much of the water out as possible (drink this cucumber water or save to add to vodka later).  Leave the grated cucumber in the sieve and sprinkle with salt so that more of the liquid drains out whilst you crush the garlic and chop the herbs. Squeeze the cucumber again and combine all of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place in the fridge, the longer it sits in there the more garlicky the flavour will become.

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