June 30, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean — ros @ 9:29 am

During the last week I’ve been trying as hard as I can to get through everything in my freezer in preparation for moving out. I’ve done pretty well - by last night all that was left was a bad of frozen sweetcorn and an octopus. The sweetcorn can go - no one can eat that much in three days -  but I thought it would be a shame to waste the octopus.

The problem was I’d not had much luck with octopus before. This one was one of a pair. I’d had the other back in February and it was something of a disaster. I tried to tempura batter it but the batter fell off and sweet chilli sauce didn’t really work with it. I’d expected it to taste like squid but it is much more meaty!

I needed inspiration on how to cook it. Fortunately, Gaynor on the BBC food boards came to my rescue with a great idea of simmering the octopus in red wine, tomato, garlic, chilli  and cognac.

It tasted very good indeed ,although I overdid the chilli a bit. But the best thing about this is, you can’t see it is octopus.


Not a tentacle in sight. This is the way to introduce squeamish eaters to new things! Hide iit in a richly coloured sauce!  You could probably convince them it was chicken until they’d taken a couple of bites.  I’m sure most red meat eaters would like the flavour. I thought about trying this on my “no fins or wings” housemate but he’d already seen me cutting its legs off. I don’t think he was too impressed. Never mind, I’ll try it another time!

June 25, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 8:07 am

It looks like the full student experiment will have to go on hold for a week or so. This is because I’m moving on Saturday and I still have a freezer full of food to get through. Besides, my new surroundings in student halls will make the experiment feel all the more appropriate.

In the mean time I thought I’d try out one of my ideas to give you  taste of what is to come. I bring you my “students’ turkey and leek pie”.


turkey and leek pie


I was a bit too stingy with the pastry so it leaked at the sides little. Apart from that, it worked and was really very nice.

The important question, of course, is “how much did it cost?” The breakdown goes like this (sorry about the bad formatting - I’ll sort it out later).

  • 570g Tesco diced turkey thigh 1.69
  • 2 leeks (loose from Tesco) 0.58
  • 150g Tesco closed cup mushrooms 0.35
  • 300ml Tesco semi skimmed milk 0.13
  • salt and pepper (maximum price) 0.05
  • approx 170g Saxby’s puff pastry 0.26
  • 1 cube oxo chicken stock 0.08
  • flour and oil (maximum price) 0.05
  • Total  £2.99  (approx £1.50 per massive portion)

That makes enough to serve two very hungry people or possibly three normal people. Almost 600g of meat went into that along with two leeks. The pie would make a balanced meal in itself, but I served it with a side of sweetcorn. I estimate that this added about 5p per portion.

Student turkey and leek pie

Admittedly it isn’t much to look at but it was genuinely very nice and disturbingly healthy. So much for pasta with tomato sauce!

Here is the student turkey and leek pie recipe.

June 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Central/Eastern European — ros @ 12:49 pm

Look! I made a bad, almost topical pun! I bet James is proud of me now.

Last night, whilst browsing in Sainsbury’s, I found and bought a veal escalope for my dinner. When I got home Tanya, who is my housemate’s girlfriend and a very keen cook, enquired what I was making that evening. When I gave my answer she raised her eyebrows slightly. Like a lot of people she has been brought up to believe that veal is an unethical meat.

I’m not going to go into what I think about veal production. However I’m really bothered by the lack of decent unbiased information about this. I searched for an hour or so on the internet and I couldn’t find a single article that wasn’t a propaganda-laden emotive load of rubbish.

How are we supposed to know what is really going on when most of the articles are calling for a worldwide ban on meat and the others  are claiming that the animals are gleefully running into the slaughterhouses of their own free will? It is very frustrating.

Anyhow, I made a veal escalope with a parmesan and sage crust. It was very tasty. Tanya thought so too. She even helped me flatten the escalope. It is nice to have someone around who is at least open minded about trying new things. Shame the pictures didn’t come out this time.

June 23, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean — ros @ 7:13 am

I can’t believe I had to change the title of this post because no one has heard of Cephalonia. Honestly, if it isn’t Corfu or Rhodes, no one cares.  :roll:

This is another meal I really didn’t intend to blog, but it turned out really, really good! The recipe came from this Waitrose page and I only made minor alterations to it. I added a bit more of each of the spices and threw in more raisins.

I certainly wouldn’t have thought up that combination of ingredients myself but it really works. The raisins disintegrate completely in the stew, adding sweetness. The squash gives it texture and the peppers add a little bitterness.

I think I should cook Greek more often - I love savoury dishes that have cinnamon and cloves. I particularly liked the idea of tossing the pasta with marscapone and nutmeg. Delicious!

June 21, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Indian Subcontinent, Sri Lankan — ros @ 8:11 am

This time I got photos.

Kukul mas, breadfruit and kiribath

The reddy-brown stuff on the right is ”kukul mas.” That’s chicken curry to the rest of us. Like most Sri Lankan curries, it’s very hot. Roasted Sri Lankan curry powder gives it a dark colour and a distinctive flavour. I added  a little bit of paprika to bring out the red colouring.

I have talked about kiribath before. This time I tried to make it into diamond shaped blocks in the way it is traditionally served. The freshly cooked rice is made into a big rectangle like this.

mungatta kiribath

As it cools, the rice becomes more sticky and you can cut into shapes. You can see these in the top picture.

The yellow curry is bread fruit. This was one of my favourite things when I was growing up. Until last night, I hadn’t had it for years and I was delighted when my Dad brought me some. As far as I’m aware, you can only find bread fruit in cans in Britain with the skin removed and the white flesh chopped into small pieces and cooked. It has a wonderful texture and, when it is heated in a curry, the fruit almost disintegrates. This thickens the curry and makes a wonderfully soft and gooey accompaniment to kiribath.

There is already a recipe for kiribath here. Try it! It is very nice. Also recipes here for the chicken and the bread fruit.

June 20, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Malay/Indonesian — ros @ 10:51 am

Remember those fresh greens I was talking about a couple of weeks ago? I had a feeling they might make good crispy seaweed. I was right!

I made seaweed once before using recipe from a chinese cookery book. It suggested using the green bits of pak choi leaves. The result was good but, since you can’t really use the white fleshy bits of the leaves, you have to use a lot of pak choi. This makes the seaweed a bit expensive.

The fresh greens were much better in this respect. They are quite big and the leaf stalks are small. 1 fresh green will make enough seaweed to accompany two meals. Don’t use the yellow bits! They don’t look very good.


I had my seaweed as an accompaniment to a beef fillet I picked up on the way home. I intended to have it in a Thai dish. In the end, after finding some peanut butter my housemate was struggling to get through, I made an Indonesian-style peanut sauce for it. I cut the steak it into thin strips, marinated them in soy and spices and flash fried them for just a few seconds. I served the beef and seaweed with some noodles and the peanut sauce.  The crispy seaweed recipe is here and the beef with peanut sauce recipe is here.

June 19, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Unusual meat — ros @ 8:23 am

Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly a Wellington, but it was wrapped in pastry.

Another day, another new meat to try. This time it is the South African antelope, kudu, which is steadily growing in popularity amongst game eaters in Britain. I’ve been inspired by this page at the BBC and, reading that rose flavours work well with game, I thought I’d try it out on my kudu steaks.

There is an Iranian (I think) shop on my way to college and I found a selection of rose condiments there. I got some rose petal jam to make a paste to smother on the steaks. I mixed the jam with some lemon juice and zest, wrapped the entire thing in a rosemary and thyme crepe, covered it in puff pastry and baked it. It nearly worked very well. The problem was, the pastry wouldn’t rise!

Icouldn’t understand it. Usually gas mark 7 for 15 minutes will suffice. This time  it didn’t show signs of  puffing for about 25 minutes. After 40 mintes it was ready. This was all fine apart from the fact the kudu was now well done. I wanted it rare. I was annoyed.

Apart from that it was great. Kudu is very tender and juicy. I had it with lemon and coriander cous-cous. I had a bit of rose petal jam left so I made a sauce by mixing it with some white wine, cinnamon  and half a capful of cherry brandy, just to give it extra richness. It seems that cherries+roses+game=tasty. It’s definitely one to try with venison and pigeon. 

So, for those of you who like your meat well done, this is a good way to do kudu. Full details are here.

Next time I’m making my own pastry. :(