Thursday, 26 February 2015

CHICKEN CURRY

Good Morning to you,

If I were to say to you,

"Stoffy Ticky Puns"

What would be your response?


Would you understand what I was saying to you or would you look at me with a blank expression on your face?

Well, the latter, the blank look, appeared on George's face the other day, when I uttered the words, "Stoffy Ticky Puns".

To be honest, I cannot believe those words had actually come out of my mouth, but I have to tell you, they did.

I'll put the words into context for you.  I was wondering what cake I should make for Easter.  I thought maybe a Simnel Cake as I do love marzipan and then I thought well as it will be Easter time, what a lovely excuse, as if I needed an excuse, to bake a chocolate cake, but then I thought, maybe I would make George some "Stoffy Ticky Puns"...... any ideas yet?

Well, when I said "Stoffy Ticky Puns" I burst out laughing, honestly, I know I said it before, but I really could not believe the words had come out of my mouth.  I was laughing so much that George couldn't have had much of a clue as to what I was saying, but even when I calmed down and stopped laughing, he still did not know.  So when I told him, he said "Really, that is what you meant, I didn't have a clue".

So, as my husband of 44 years did not know what I had meant, I thought I would test out my daughters. Danielle was busy at work, so I could not ask her, so I checked the time difference and it was early evening for Natasha, so I asked Natasha.  She responded straight away and said,

"I know what you meant to say, it was Sticky Toffee Buns".

I asked how she knew so quickly and she said she speaks the "language of mum".  I said that was a relief because when I get older, if I muddled my words, her dad wouldn't have a clue as to what I was talking about.  

George responded with, "Oh you don't need to worry about that, because what I will do, is, I'll set up Skype, you can speak to Natasha and she can translate. Problem solved!" To that we all burst out laughing. Trust George to have an answer..... and a funny one at that.

So I think after all that laughter, I should make George some  Sticky Toffee  Buns  or should I say 'Stoffy Ticky Puns' as I feel sure, that is how they will be known, within the family, from now on..... what do you think?

..... there are no buns today, as today I am making,


Chicken curry.  If I am busy and I need to make a quick meal, often I will make the sauce the day before, and then all I have to do is heat it through the following day and add the chicken. It does make it a speedy meal.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to was prompted by a song on the radio.


Do you remember the song 'Love is All Around' from the film 'Love Actually'? Well I also remember the original sung by The Troggs.... all those years ago. Listening to 'Love is All Around' by Wet, Wet, Wet, reminded me that one of the girls had left this album behind when they left home, so I searched through the drawer and found it.

Listen to, of course,

'Love is All Around'
which is not on this album,
but you can listen to it on Utube
and then,

'Sweet Little Mystery'
'Sweet Surrender'
and
'This Time'

So while I am singing along to 'With a Little Help From My Friends', well you can't listen to this song and not want to sing along with it can you, I will organise my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS
YOU 
WILL NEED
TO MAKE
CHICKEN CURRY

750g chicken breast
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 tablespoons of Red Thai curry paste
400ml coconut milk
8fl oz chicken stock
1 tablespoon of olive oil
sea salt

HOW 
TO MAKE
CHICKEN  CURRY

Firstly, poach the chicken in the chicken stock
until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. If you 
use large chicken breasts you might find
you need more chicken stock as the
stock has to cover the chicken.
I cannot give you timings as it depends
on the size of the chicken breasts which you use.

Whilst the chicken is poaching,


 slice the onion

and


place 1 tablespoon of olive oil
in a wide pan.

Add the onions.
Using a medium heat,
cook until the onions are golden in colour.


Crush the garlic
and
when the onions are golden in colour
add to the pan.
Cook for a minute or so.


Add the Red Thai curry paste
and cook for a couple of minutes.
Moving the onions and paste around
the pan.


Cut the peppers in half and remove
the seeds.
Slice into strips.

Add to the pan.
Stir.


Chop the tomatoes
and 
add to the pan,
along with,


the coconut milk.


Add the chicken stock
and stir everything together.

Bring to the boil
and then reduce the heat
and allow the curry to simmer
for 30 minutes.


Check for seasoning
and if needs be, add a little salt.


When the chicken has cooked,
slice 
and
you can either,
add the chicken to the pan,
or as I do,
place some chicken in the bottom
of a dish and
ladle the sauce over,
making sure you add enough peppers.


and there you have it,
a really easy curry
for a quick meal during the week.
All you need is to serve it with
or
brown basmati rice.

Now, I decided not to call it a Red Thai Curry, because although I used Red Thai Curry paste, a true Thai curry is not made this way.

Yes of course, if time permitted, I could have,

peeled and crushed the garlic
peeled and chopped shallots
deseeded and finely chop the red chillies
cut the lemon grass into pieces
finely chopped the Kaffir lime leaves,

then placed all the ingredients into a pestle and mortar and then added lemon juice and pounded the ingredients to form a paste..... but do you know, today I did not have the time, so as this is a home cooked meal and the only person I need to impress is George, he is very happy with my version of chicken curry.

Try it, I don't think you will be disappointed either.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining, 


and







Thursday, 19 February 2015

GIANT COUSCOUS SALAD WITH SOYA BEANS, BROAD BEANS AND PEAS

Good Afternoon to you,

On Sunday, Natasha asked George and I, to name our favourite top five black and white movies.

..... and that got us thinking.

My absolute favourite is 'Top Hat' with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.... I never tire of watching the film.... I love the song 'It's a Lovely Day'.

'Let the rain pitter patter
But it really doesn't matter
If the skies are grey
Long as I can be with you
It's a lovely day.'

Irving Berlin
It's a Lovely Day

..... and there are many more films I love, but remembering the titles of the films, well that's another story. You would have laughed, if you had been a fly on the wall, listening to the conversation I had with George.

The conversation went like this,

Me.  "George, can you remember the title of the film, which is about a man who has lost his wife and she comes back to haunt him?"

George.  "That's not like you to watch a horror film, you hate horror films".

Me.  "No it isn't a horror film".

George.  "But it sounds like a horror film if it is about a wife dying and she comes back to haunt her husband".

Me.   "No, honestly it isn't a horror film, it's a comedy.  It has that marvellous English actress who we both love watching. Remember she played Miss Marples in a few Agatha Christie films.

George.  "Oh you mean Joan Hickson".

Me.    "No, Joan Hickson was a fabulous Miss Marple, but the lady I am thinking of, used to pull the most funny faces".

George.  "Sorry you've lost me.  Why don't you stop thinking about it and it will come to you".

Me.   "Ok, I'll do that".

...... but of course I didn't. Could I get it from my mind, no I couldn't, I was like a dog with a bone, the thought was going round and round in my mind.  By bed time, I still could not remember the actresses name or the title of the film and I fell asleep with it still on my mind.  Now you will not believe this, but apparently, in the middle of the night, I awoke George when I shouted Blithe Spirit with Margaret Rutherford and went back to sleep.

In the morning George smiled and said he knew the film I was talking about, it was 'Blithe Spirit' and the actresses name was Margaret Rutherford.  "Well I never, said I, how on earth did you remember that?"

..... he burst out laughing and told me about the previous night's events.  Well, I have been known to talk in my sleep when I am worried about something, but I have never shouted before.... that's a first.

So yes, one of my favourite black and white films is the comedy Blithe Spirit, with Margaret Rutherford playing the eccentric medium, Madame Arcati.

..... and then it has to be, 

'Some Like It Hot' with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

I love it when, Osgood says to Daphne (Jack Lemmon), 

"I am Osgood Fielding the third"
Daphne replies,
"I am Cinderella the second"

Then it has to be 'His Girl Friday' with Cary Grant

Closely followed by, 'Brief Encounter' with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.

There are so many others I could have added, such as Casablanca, 'Barefoot Contessa' and '42nd Street', but I wonder what are your favourite black and white films? I feel sure once you tell me, I am going to be thinking "Oh yes, I love that film as well".

There's even a touch of black and white in today's salad. To be honest, maybe I am stretching it a little.



The white being the giant couscous and the black, well I used a few dark plum tomatoes, which have a touch of black, but they seem to be buried amongst the salad..... I did say I was stretching the colour theme.

Now in terms of music, I think I really should be playing 'Isn't It A Lovely Day', or Dancing Cheek to Cheek' from the film 'Top Hat', but instead I have chosen something completely different.


Grover Washington, Jnr and the album 'Winelight'. I play this album when I want to listen to a mellow sound.  I do love,

'Just The Two Of Us'
and
'In the Name Of Love'

So it's on with the pinnie and with 'Make Me A Memory' playing, it is time to organise my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL 
NEED
TO MAKE
GIANT COUSCOUS SALAD

125g giant couscous
chicken stock
1 small red onion
125g tinned brown lentils
125g tinned chickpeas
125g soya beans, broad beans and peas (frozen)
6 small tomatoes
2 handfuls of spinach

DRESSING

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
sea salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO 
MAKE
GIANT COUSCOUS SALAD


Cook the giant couscous
as directed on the packet,
but instead of using water
try using chicken stock.


Cook the frozen beans and peas
and
drain.
Set aside for the moment.

Make the dressing.


Place the 
olive oil,
lemon juice
and
white wine vinegar 
in a small bowl

and


whisk the ingredients together.


Season
with sea salt and black pepper.

When the giant couscous is cooked,
drain any surplus liquid
and place in a large bowl,
along with,


the beans and peas

and


add the 
dressing.


Toss everything together.
You will find the olive oil will prevent
the giant couscous sticking together as it cools.


Chop the red onion
into small pieces
and
add to the bowl.


Rinse the brown lentils
in cold water, drain
and
add to the bowl.



Rinse the chickpeas in
cold water,
drain
and 
add to the bowl.


Chop the tomatoes
into small 
pieces
and 
add to the bowl.


Wash the spinach in 
cold water
and
add to the bowl.


Toss everything 
together
until it is thoroughly
coated with the
dressing.

Taste
and
if needs be,
add a little more lemon juice
or 
sea salt and black pepper.


Then all there is left to do
is spoon a portion
into a bowl
and you have a very
enjoyable lunch.

Sometimes I will serve this giant couscous salad with poached chicken, or sometimes with salmon.  I find Feta cheese works well with the salad as it gives an extra tang.  Whichever way you eat it I know you will enjoy the flavours.

As a rule, I tend to use dried chickpeas and dried lentils, but when I see tinned chickpeas and lentils which are a good price, I do buy them and store them in my cupboard,  because as much as I do love cooking, sometimes, just sometimes, I need to make a quick lunch and tinned chickpeas and lentils make that possible.

Now before I leave you, Natasha asked both George and I to name our favourite films.  I have shared my favourites so I thought you would like to hear about George's favourites.

He loves,

'Angels with Dirty Faces' with James Cagney
'Arsenic and Old Lace' with Alec Guinness
'Stage Coach' with John Wayne
'White Heat' with James Cagney
and
'African Queen' with Humphrey Bogart

Funnily enough, when Natasha asked George what his number one black and white film was, it was exactly the same as Natasha's. 'Angel's with Dirty Faces'.

Now you might be wondering why I did not put myself out of my misery by finding out the name of the film via the internet.  Yes, I could have done so very quickly, but I wanted to use my brain and remember the name myself. I knew at some point it would come to me..... but I have to be honest, I had not expected it to be the middle of the night.

Take care of yourself and I will see you next Thursday.





Thursday, 12 February 2015

PANCAKES WITH BLUEBERRIES AND RASPBERRIES

Good Afternoon to you,


A couple of weeks ago, George and I were watching our local evening news programme, when the presenter, started talking about a pensioner by the name of Alan Barnes.  When the presenter had finished talking I had tears in my eyes, and George was shocked that something so awful could happen to a frail, elderly man.

Alan, lives in Gateshead and he is a 67 year old pensioner. He is visually impaired, is 4ft 6 inches in height and weighs under 6 stone. One evening in January, he was putting his dustbin outside his home, ready for collection, when someone walked up to him and demanded money. Alan said he did not have any money, so what did this coward do, he attacked this frail, elderly man. Alan fell to the ground and broke his collarbone. We just could not believe that someone could be so cruel to such a frail and vulnerable man. Alan said after he had been treated for his injuries,  he was too frightened to return home and had decided to stay with his sister.

Like us, a young mother, Katie Cutler was listening to the same news programme and like us, was struck by the callousness of this attack.  Katie decided to  act, she started an on-line fund raising campaign for Alan. Katie hoped to raise £500 for Alan, to help him, not that this money would wipe away the pain of the attack, but maybe the money would help him in some way.

The fund raising reached the target of £500 and surpassed it. You see, the story had become a world wide story and so many kind and generous people on hearing about Alan's plight, donated money.  The amount grew each day, until it reached the figure of £330,135.00.

When Alan was told how much had been raised, he said, he could not believe it and was amazed that so many people, who did not know him, had been so kind and generous.

When asked what he would do with the money, Alan said he was not sure as everything had been such a whirl wind. Also, he had never had this amount of money in his life, but one thing was sure, he certainly would not be wasting the money.

So from one cruel act, almost 25,000 kind people came forward to help Alan.

We hear such terrible news these days, that it was so lovely to think that 25,000 people were moved by Alan's plight and wanted to help.  I know this money will not eradicate the memory of the attack, but hopefully it will ease the pain and allow Alan to buy a home of his own, where he can feel safe and secure once again.

..... and to Katie, I would like to say, you are a lovely, kind and thoughtful young lady.


..... and talking of ladies, I know my daughters will love what I am making today,


scrummy pancakes.  Now these are not the very thin pancakes which we traditionally associate with Shrove Tuesday,  these pancakes are a little more robust, but so gorgeous.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,


Simon Webbe's album, Grace.  I do love this album, his voice is fabulous. Simon was a competitor on Strictly Come Dancing and I was surprised to see what a shy, under confident man he was.  Having said that, as the series progressed, you could see his confidence soar, so much so, that he reached the finals of Strictly.

Trust me, you will want to dance around your kitchen to,

'Coming Around Again'

enjoy,

'Seventeen'
'Sunshine'
'Go to Sleep'
and
'Take Your Time'

As part of my 10,000 steps a day regime, I am dancing to 'Coming Around Again' while I organise my ingredients.... every little bit helps.

INGREDIENTS
TO 
MAKE
PANCAKES

150g plain flour
1 1/2  tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
3 rounded tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
150 ml semi-skimmed milk
1 large egg
50g melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt

500g of blueberries
500g of raspberries

Preheat the oven to 100C

HOW
TO
MAKE
PANCAKES


Slowly melt the butter
allow to cool
and set aside for the moment.


Sift the flour
with the


bicarbonate of soda,
baking powder
and
salt
into a medium sized bowl.


Add the sugar


and
mix the ingredients
together.

Using a separate bowl,


add the
yoghurt,


whisk the egg
and
add
to the yoghurt.


Add the
milk
and mix together.

Then,


add the melted butter
and
stir together.


Add the wet ingredients
to the


dry ingredients
and


mix together.
This is quite a stiff batter
so do not worry, if it appears thick.

Heat a dry griddle pan
or a dry non stick frying pan
and 
scoop half a tablespoon of batter
onto a spoon.

Place the batter into the griddle pan
and 
using the back of the spoon,
gently coax the batter
into a circular shape.

I griddle two pancakes at a time, as
I find it easier to keep an eye on two pancakes
as they cook quite quickly.

When one side is cooked, you will notice that
little bubbles appear on the surface of the
pancake.
Flip the pancake and cook the other side.

They will not be perfectly round as
you will see from mine, but
that does not worry me.
Life is too short to make perfectly
round pancakes.


As one batch is cooked
place them in a very low
oven, covered with foil
to keep them warm.

All there is left to do is,


Place a pancake on a plate,
add blueberries,
(some I crushed)
raspberries
and 
dollop of yoghurt
with a sprinkle
of 
icing sugar
and
enjoy!

Now I don't know if you have noticed, but in the photograph of the pancakes on the blue platter, there is a rogue raspberry.  You might think that I had missed that little raspberry, when I sprinkled the icing sugar, but the answer is no, there has been a 'cheeky so and so' playing a game on me.

I had arranged my pancakes with the blueberries and raspberries ready to take the photographs.  I had left the kitchen to find the tablecloth I needed, when a certain person, who shall remain nameless (George, haha, as if you couldn't guess) ate one of the raspberries with the icing sugar and replaced it with a plain raspberry. It was not until I loaded the photographs on my computer, that I noticed the rogue raspberry and of course by this time, many of the pancakes had been eaten so I could not take another photograph.  I mentioned it to George and he looked a little sheepish, he said he had eaten the raspberry. He thought once I had noticed the rogue raspberry, I would sprinkle it with icing sugar. 

Mmmm, shall I let him off... yes I think I will, as he is so very patient waiting for the photographs to be taken, but I will keep a keen eye on my finished dishes in the future.

Just before I leave you, I thought you would like to see a photograph of Alan and Katie.



Take care of yourself and I will see you next Thursday.





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