Szechuan scallops and peppers, garlic chilli green beans and super size king prawns with egg fried rice! Putting the local Chinese takeaway to shame!
Szechuan scallops and peppers, garlic chilli green beans and super size king prawns with egg fried rice! Putting the local Chinese takeaway to shame!
The biggest birthday cake I have ever made. Yes four layers opposed to my usual three. Home made chocolate ganache and not just home made black current jelly, but home grown, homemade black current jelly lavishly spread between each layer.
We had a great party in the garden and invited around 30 children and their parents. We even hired a children’s entertainer to occupy them for 2 of the 3 hours.
You might see in this next picture, how nicely piled and ordered the children’s gifts were.
But this next photo shows you what I awoke to. John had allowed them to play in the garden before I arose and this is what I came down to!
This was just the beginning. I managed to tidy up as the day progressed, again and again, in different areas, but it was like a landslide, completely fighting against the laws of nature and physics. Aaliyah had even ripped the head from her doll in the frenzy to release it from the packaging!
By 1pm I had had enough and escaped to the bedroom for an hours resbite. What I returned to was a house, completely trashed… whoever gave the sticky mosaic craft gift, well, I would like to know your name as I will gladly reciprocate in good time. The sticky mosaics are everywhere. I am reminded of the forensic tidy and clean up after the kinetic sand incident…
It’s now late and John has just managed to get them into their jimjams and up to bed. I have locked myself in our bedroom, refusing to see anyone or say goodnight to anyone at this point. I feel like a broken man. I do not want to venture back to the ground floor due to the amount of mess, destruction and pure, unadulterated chaos that still permeates there.
I completely give up and I prefer not to leave the relative sanctity of my bedroom. I am sure that I will update you as to the situation tomorrow and can only celebrate in the idea that this is the last birthday party in our immediate family for the next six months. Enough is enough, today I really draw the line.
Please remember that this post was one year ago today. Hahahahaha…
What with 5 children, though 2 sets of twins and Daddy and Dadda’s Birthdays, I do find myself baking birthday cakes quite a lot over the year. I have been known to bake twice on Amritsar and Tara’s birthdays, as they generally have an official birthday on the actual day and then another for the day of their party.
Of course, this year the girls just had their birthday with the family on the day itself, due to lockdown. And the same will be so of Aaliyah and Caleb’s special day, this year falling on Sunday.
So just the one cake to bake today. All a bit last minute as I usually bake a week or so before and freeze the sponges x 3. This cake however will be just the 2 layers as I only had 6 eggs and there’s clearly less people involved, just a neighbouring family.
The second sponge is almost done. I’m just waiting on Alexa to ping the 22 minute alarm. The ‘All angels’ are singing through Alexa, something or other from the musical ‘South Pacific’.
I am now remembering our Lū’au earlier in the spring when we had such magnificent weather. I did homemade Hawaiian Pizza on that day. A barbecue for us however on Sunday! I think more grey weather is forecast sadly, so cooking it all on the Aga inside might just be more appropriate.
Okay Alexa is telling me the cake is now done, so I had better wrestle it from the oven!
The children are presently in the park beside their school with Sindy and 5 x packed dinners, celebrating a friend Nancy’s birthday. Possibly appropriate given my afternoon bake. I should really thank Nancy’s mum for buying Eighteen Moons and Thirteen Moons More a few weeks ago. I believe she loved both books so I’m hoping for a review perhaps on Amazon.
Did I say that the audiobook is now live? So, for those of you who don’t really read books or novels, it’s the perfect escape with nothing to do, just close your eyes and join me on my journey of ‘Eighteen Moons’.
Back to birthday cakes! The request this year was Strawberry and Vanilla opposed to the usual chocolate ganache. And that’s what they’re getting. Though I can almost hear Caleb’s bleats of ‘But I want chocolate Dadda, I want chocolate’, just before he throws a tantrum…
No doubt more on the Birthday celebrations on Sunday. As ever, thanks for reading.
Moules Mariniere and frits
Roast Beef, garlic French beans and boiled potatoes
Salmon with clams and muscles with mash, sugarsnap peas and a white wine and cream reduction
Nutloaf with bubble and squeak and a tomato sauce
Roast Duck leg, potatoes and beans
Steak and onions, chips and Dijon mustard
Fish Pie with sautéed vegetables
Well, I am back after my two day break from blogging. And rather than give you an update on what’s been going on, I have decided to take a trip down memory lane as I am frying samosas for lunch. Well drained of course and dried with plenty of kitchen paper!
I am reminded of a blog entry that I made a little over a year ago, all about my regular stops to eat samosas (and drink sweet tea), whilst living in Mumbai, India.
It’s funny how food transports us back to a moment or a place, isn’t it? Just by making the choice of samosas rather than the usual sandwich and crisps, I find myself back in the hustle and bustle, the thronging streets of Mumbai. Towards the end of my time on the Indian Sub Continent, I often shared my time with a taxi driver known as Ram. He was a ‘kind hearted’ fellow, something that was very sadly in short supply in those times. On our many trips to the ‘Foreigners Regional Registration Office (F.R.R.O), he would show me both sympathy and support. He would also sing ancient songs in Hindi that, with his whispering, reedy voice, had the effect of halting my tears and making me stop worrying of what was happening in the ‘NOW’ and transport me to a mindset of relative serenity. Maybe more about remembering the trips to the F.R.R.O on another occasion, but today it’s all about samosas. Ram and I would always stop at one or two street vendors and enjoy a lunch, or afternoon tiffin of samosas with a small cup of extremely sweet, milky tea. He had a very good heart. And I will never be able to eat a samosa ever again without him in my thoughts.
Today I would like to wish all Dad’s a happy Father’s Day.
It is late in the day here in ‘The Shires’ and we are just about to sit down as a family and enjoy a roast leg of lamb in celebration. Accompanied of course by roast potatoes, glazed carrots and petit pois.
Bike riding on the driveway again and Aaliyah pipes up that she would like to start riding a bicycle without stabilisers! Good for her!
Another grey and cloudy day today, though we have had some sunny spells. I believe our 2 week spell of rain is at an end and we should be enjoying super sunny days again tomorrow onwards, with temperatures up to 30 degrees centigrade! Summer has arrived!
Aaliyah has just grabbed Amritsar’s old blue bike from the entrance hall and is wheeling it into the garden to try to cycle on the grass. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! No screaming as yet. Daddy is just making his way to the door as she is now arguing with Amritsar!
Better go wrestle our dinner to the plate!
Thor and Caleb running around with their arms in the air, screaming rather loudly.
Happy days hey, today, tomorrow and into the future. Fingers crossed!
I did get to thinking about when John and I became father’s, so here are a couple of images from that time in India. These are all from Goa except the one of me in a rickshaw. That was definitely Mumbai!
Just looking back the last week of my blog and it looks as if it is all about food, food, food! Okay, I am going to remedy this and put these Instagram pictures on my blog also! So here we go! No explanations, just raw, happy memories…
Oh do excuse the final 3 seconds of video, it kind of works on Instagram with the repetitive playing of a clip! I had to smile.
And because of that I just strung 4 of the video’s together, just to give you a flavour. However, I think you have to walk away from it after 4 plays!!! Haha…
Don’t judge me please! 😉
But first a roundup of the week! All started well enough. Thor and Aaliyah are happy to be back at school, though Thor has taken a few steps backwards regarding his focus and general learning. Aaliyah seems to be flourishing. Caleb joined them on Wednesday as his plaster cast was finally removed on Tuesday. I am so very glad all is now well with him! Two broken arms in one year. Mind you his auntie reminded me that her son had a total of nine breaks throughout his childhood. He was certainly a little ballistic, just as Caleb is, so I’d better get into the mindset of dealing with life’s ups and downs as they happen!
Lots of cooking as ever, I’m sure you’ve seen my earlier blog. Favourite dish has to be the long denied ‘doner kebab’, recipe to follow. Lots of jam making too! Though the recipes for these I have earlier covered!
Tara and Amritsar’s home schooling is going just fine. We made a family tree today that went back from them, all the way back to my mother ‘Gramdma Jean’ and John’s mother ‘Granny Hazel’ (haha Mr Chiddicks). John just through the door with the three little ones, all full of smiles. It seems that Aaliyah and Caleb worked extremely hard today and received certificates. Thor in the other hand worked through one of his break times due to messing around and not applying himself. Naughty Thor. Aaliyah now playing with the dogs.
All the children excited now as my reply to ‘what are we having for dinner’ was ‘PIZZA’! It’s been quite a while. Mind you last time was homemade and today is shop brought!
Aaliyah is trying on a new tee shirt and yellow bloomers that arrived in the post today, she’s all smiles. I am reminded of my slightly ‘hippy look’ when I lived in Bangkok. I really must find out some of those photos and publish them for you to see! I have to smile.
Okay Wednesdays Donor Kebab recipe…
500g or 1lb minced lamb was placed in the food processor along with 2 x teaspoons crushed garlic, 2 x teaspoons cumin, 2 x teaspoons coriander, 2 x teaspoons paprika, salt and pepper.
Blitz in the food processor and place in a small to medium loaf tin. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes on around 160 centigrade. A moderate oven.
Meanwhile slice a 1/4 white cabbage as thinly as humanly possible. Set to one side. Slice some cucumber and tomato. Also finely slice half an onion. Big chunks don’t really work, slice very thinly!!!
Now, you will need a couple of condiments, a jar of pickled green chillis, a squeezy bottle of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a chilly sauce of choice! We love the Thai Sriracha in this house.
As for pitta breads, purchase the super large ones or as I did, 2 regular smallish ones each. Now, toast on a skillet / frying pan lightly and slice alone one of the long ends. Or microwave for 40 seconds turning half way.
Your neat should be drained and left to sit for a few minutes. That fragrant aroma will immediately take you back to your last doner kebab infidelity! Slice your meat and fill your kebab with all the listed ingredients. Enjoy, but you’re gonna get dirty so don’t forget plenty of kitchen roll.
It’s that shameful acknowledgement of ‘A good night out with your mates’, isn’t it? Mostly consumed by the 20 somethings that revel in the entertainments of indulgence!
Now, mostly I’m a stay at home dad. But I do remember this food in my youth and also my later, crazy meet-ups with old friends from childhood!
Turkish kebab shops seem to have always been there for the late night revellers, always a little bit tipsy and also the ones who have completely forgotten their indulgence (the next day) of that very naughty / dirty food that they consumed on their way home from their good night out.
The Donor Kebab has a very bad name. It is almost infamous within its relevance of that ‘good night out’.
What with fast food takeaways being closed these last 3 months! I could not bare it any more.
I was in fact planning on not blogging today. But my absolute and complete enjoyment of tonight’s homemade ‘ Doner Kebab’ insisted that I make this diary entry in complete homage!
Should I give you the recipe? Are you missing this ‘wonder food’ of the ‘good night out’? If so, more than three requests in comments and I will share my recipe with you tomorrow!
Bon appetite or just get home safely if in a parallel universe, you are wandering the streets looking for a doner kebab.
What’s better than a Doner Kebab you might ask? My answer is, two Doner kebabs! Hahahahaha.
Tonight’s blog is a re-blog from last year. You see, we’re doing a curry night tonight and I wanted to tell you how I make my ‘one sauce, several curries’ gravy!
So, what’s in store for us tonight then? Remember, I’ll make my basic sauce and from that make a chicken, lamb or fish curry. Plus a couple of veg curries. I may add extra garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric, tinned tomatoes or purée and extra garam masala or cumin, changing the intensity and the look of the different dishes.
Do not make the mistake of mixing your veg into one curry! Be focussed! Let’s up the game shall we? I’m planning on making a mutter (pea) curry, dahl (lentil) and a Bombay aloo to accompany a salmon curry with basmati rice today. Now starts my re-blog on how I make my basic sauce.
Okay, I love my hob. That was all I had to work with from my time spent in Mumbai, India. And that is where I perfected my ability to cook a damn good curry. I have spoken about cooking various curries throughout my writing of this diary and today I am just going to reiterate on making my gravy.
As ever you need to start with a good, tasty gravy (curry sauce). Blitz onions until pulp and fry in a little oil. Add your spices and cook out. My favourite combo is garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin, coriander leaf, garam masala or Madras mix, turmeric and salt. Add tomato purée, cook out further, then add water or a little stock (Knorr cubes are fine). You want a slightly thickened consistency and this I regulate purely with the volume of onion and tomato purée to the water or stock! Cook for 30 – 40 minutes on a low heat or until the rawness of the spices have morphed into that sweetness and harmony of fragrant spice that is all a good curry should be!
Now come your options! I usually cook at least a litre of sauce and freeze some but yesterday I used the whole lot and made a feast. Pre-soaked yellow lentils were simmered with some of the sauce plus the addition of extra turmeric, chilli and garlic, cooked on the hob for maybe 2 hours. The longer you cook, the more sumptuous the lentils become. I always use a potato masher towards the end of cooking!
Bombay potatoes are just way too simple! I tried a few recipes from the internet way back but settled on just steaming cubes of potatoes, cooling and placing in a freezer bag and covering with some of my curry sauce. Tie the bag, give it a squish and put it in the fridge.
I actually put all of my curries in a freezer bag once cooled and lay them alongside each other in the fridge until service. It makes cooking multiple curries a real doddle to serve up. Just heat one after the other in a microwave before serving up! There’s usually a bit of squishing of the bags to regulate heat and some re-microwaving to get everything to the same temperature – but that’s half the fun of ‘curry night’.
I also microwave the dry poppadoms for 20 seconds, turn, then a further 20 seconds. Perfection and so much healthier than shallow frying. But if you much prefer the taste of the fried, just use a pastry brush and lightly brush the dry poppadom with cooking oil on either side before microwaving.
Britain’s favourite dish ‘Tikka Masala’ simple! Just add ground almonds and a little double cream to the basic sauce! Bliss. My favourite ever would be ‘King Prawn Tikka Masala’. The bigger, the better. Just marinade the prawns for an hour with the basic combination of lemon juice, garlic, ginger, chilli, tandoori spice mix, salt and pepper! I use a freezer bag for my marinade.
Okay, the other dish’s were tandoori boned and skinned chicken thighs and mutter (pea curry). The thighs were 3 hours marinated in the same marinade just mentioned. No red food colouring like your local Indian takeaway might use! The chicken was cooked in an oven dish covered in foil for 20 minutes, then dry heat for a further 15. Moist and tender was the result. The last main dish of mutter had a variation to it last night as I added green beans to the peas – cooked with some of Dadda’s curry sauce, a tin of tomatoes and a little extra salt – divine ‘Amrit’ (manna) indeed.
My rice was of course cooked in the microwave – see earlier entry for 100% perfect basmati rice and our nibbles on the side were homemade onion bhaji’s and pakoras. I’m pretty sure I have covered those in an earlier diary entry, but if not, do let me know – they’re so simple to make and so tasty. The children love them!
A meal fit for a Maharajah!
Okay, it is late in the day here in ‘The Shires’. So, no rundown of the days antics, rather a nostalgic look at Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner! The final picture is tonight’s rare roast rib of beef with Jersey Royal Potatoes and garlic butter green beans! Yummy…
Sausage bacon and stuffing terrine with braised Savoy cabbage and garlic and herb tomato sauce.
Dadda’s Thai red curry, yellow curry.
Another slice of JJ’s penne puttanesca lasagna!
Roast pork, new potatoes, broccoli, cracklings and Dadda’s apple jelly.
Pulled pork, JP and Caesar Bliss.
My homemade pork and turkey meatballs! Legendary family food!
Thank you for sharing your time with me today! Be well…
The later I leave writing a post, especially at the weekend, the more happens and the more I generally forget.
Thor is presently explaining to me that if a werewolf licks you, you turn into one and then you go off and lick someone and they too will turn into one, just like you!
The three little ones are at present playing in the living room with their duvets, making gingerbread houses and beds for Gracie, our Dalmatian. Gracie obliges as she does. A strong bond exists between Aaliyah and Gracie. Thor is now explaining to me that he is doing a barbecue.
I love this! The innocence of play and their debate within their storylines, negotiating their roll and compromising on their props and various mystical items brought forth from their imaginations!
Amritsar and Tara are with John at our neighbours, playing in their garden, socially distanced of course. A first time for play with the neighbours children in three months!
A little earlier Caleb took it upon himself to open the front door and walk over to the neighbours garden gate. I was in the loo when I heard the dogs bounding around outside. I immediately sprung into action, noticing Caleb’s folly on the hunt for daddy and the girls. I curtailed the dogs rampages and got Caleb back indoors. He knew he had done wrong to open the front door. He has promised to not do it again! It’s not always easy having eyes in the back of your head. Thankfully we do not live on a main road.
Best get going, roast beef tonight. That was close, I just saved the potatoes from their slightly more than ‘par’boil. A little over cooked, but a good roasting now should bring them back from the abyss. The beef looks amazing. Just the Yorkshire puds to sort out now and cooked carrots to glaze.
I’m not actually feeling that hungry now! That’s always the case after preparing a big meal, isn’t it? And a rib roast to boot.
Aaliyah now screaming like a possessed crazie as daddy has just come back in saying everyone can join the girls in the neighbours garden. Zzzzooooom! Caleb’s gone, Aaliyah too. Thor putting shoes on, now gone! Just me and the dogs! No, they’re gone now for a play on the tarmac outside.
Oh, Ed our neighbour has just waved a couple of courgette plants at me, smiling at the doorway. I think he grew them from seed! Oh, thanks Ed! Dogs back in now. So, just me and the dogs and that dinner I’m not hungry for to finish preparing and serve up once our not so famous five have tired out…
… more of our family goings on tomorrow, here in ‘The Shires’ of England.
What couldn’t be more seasonal at the moment than apricots? As golden as those sunny days that we had throughout April and May, with the reddish hue of sundown. The weather, a little greyer now that meteorological summer has arrived, so today I thought that we needed something to brighten us all up!
Golden Apricot Jam
100ml Lemon Juice
Halve and de-seed your apricots, then quarter and place in a large saucepan.
Add your lemon juice and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Your pulp is now ready for you to get Jammin’!
Add your sugar and stir in. Bring back to the boil. This may take several minutes.
You may have noted that I do not use apple pulp in this recipe! The truth is that apricots contain tons of pectin, the stuff that makes jam gel. You simply don’t need any booster.
Boil for 10 minutes. Once again, stirring occasionally. The stirring motion will help dissipate some of the bubbles. You could add a little butter also to help, but I don’t think it is necessary. If you keep the froth at bay, I just do the skimming at the end of the cooking. You do not want micro bubbles in your jam jars, do you? If you want a smoother jam, use a potato masher (very carefully) at this point to break up those larger pieces.
This jam does not need a lot of cooking. All that pectin makes this jam gel quickly. You will notice the drips from your spoon look thick and gelatinous. Perfect!
Sterilise your jars, ladle and jam funnel in your dishwasher. And carefully fill to the obligatory 8mm below the lid. Seal tightly and return jars to a large saucepan or steamer. Cover completely with hot water (if boiling) and boil for 20 minutes. Cool and dry off. I noted that 3kg (ish) of ingredients yielded 2.3kg of jam.
As a child and into my adulthood I did not like apricot jam at all. But then again, that was the shop brought stuff, so I’m not so surprised! However, these jars of homemade amber sunshine really could turn the humble apricots harshest critic into a lover. It certainly did with me! Amazing on heavily buttered, freshly baked bread.
I haven’t done one of these in a short while, so here is a selection of some of our evening meals from this last week. Sunday tonight, so a family roast chicken meal with the children. Roast meals used to be so trying. Every week I would tell myself that this meal would be the last one! All that work repaid with screams, ‘I’m not eating that’ and peas being tossed around! But perseverance paid off. The children voted a roast dinner their favourite family meal ever yesterday, replacing last years favourite of broccoli (red) pesto pasta!
Filet of Lamb Steak, mashed potatoes, asparagus and mushrooms.
Chicken (thigh) curry with basmati rice.
Easy Mock Roasty. Roast pork leg, deep fried potatoes, peas and cracklings.
Boiled gammon joint, mash and broccoli.
Filet steak, dauphinois potatoes and mangtout
Lobster bisque, peppered trout filet and prawns with mashed potato and samfire.
A tasty menu this week and enjoyed very much! Bon appetite everyone!
Every now and then the children enjoy Chips’n’Choices in our house. Really, it is the best way to empty your fridge of all of the weeks leftovers. There’s usually 4, maybe 5 different choices for the children to choose from.
Anyhow, tonight’s choices were pasty, penne bolognese, fish pie and vegetable stir fry. Thor of course went for pasty, his favourite meal ever!
While munching through his dinner, he suddenly started screaming, having mistook one of his fingers for a chip!
My, we did all laugh.
Tonight sees another instalment of Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner! Bon Appetite.
Sea Bass with brown shrimp, sugar snap peas and a wine and cream sauce,
Roast Lamb, potatoes, green beans and cauliflower.
Lobster Bisque, Red Shrimp, boiled potatoes and fine green beans.
A Salmon Curry with rice.
Nut loaf, bubble and squeak, with tomato sauce.
Prawn Tom Yum with fine Noodles.
Dadda’s Jam. Well, what can I say! Did you know that I was secretly writing a book? Maybe you read that diary entry when I explained that, or maybe you did not! It all started last autumn when I completed my second book, ‘Thirteen Moons More’. I thought to myself, well what next? Oh, I had better just explain that ‘Thirteen Moons More’ is a follow on from my original book called ‘Eighteen Moons’, the story of how my amazing family came to be. It is the non fiction account (timeline) of our struggles to become a family, fighting both bureaucracy and prejudice in both Britain and India, then onto Thailand and Nepal.
‘Thirteen Moons More’ is an edit from my first 11 months of keeping my diary. Essentially a time leading up to our youngest three fledging the nest and starting school. Within that time 13 moons passed. This is the story of just who we are today! ‘My Big Crazy Family Life’ in a nutshell… Oh! That also happens to be our Instagram name!
So, what was Dadda going to do next! Of course I continued my blog, but within its posts I began to get Jammin’ on a regular basis. So to all intents and purposes, Dadda Get’s Jammin’ was born. A recipe book on jam making and preserves unlike any other! When is a recipe book not quite a recipe book? You will find out a little later on.
Not only are my recipes on thoroughly modern jam making going to be present, but also my thoughts, a little wit and a good slice of my family’s day to day, crazy goings on.
Last October saw my first official jam recipe appear on my blog, ‘Ginger and Spiced Pumpkin’. And since then, every now and then, I have sneaked in the occasional Dadda Get’s Jammin’ slot. So, hopefully before the next ‘Spiced Pumpkin’ season is upon us, I will have enough material to edit and sculpt into my third publication! And you don’t have to think too hard regards the name.
Dadda Get’s Jammin’ of course.
Today’s mouthwatering treat is inspired by a recent post, Summer Berry Daiquiri. But this time rather than add the well set summer Berry jelly to the daiquiri, I’m making the jelly into the daiquiri. Another inspired combo is born.
1Kg Summer Berries
200g Apple Pulp
150ml lime Juice
2 large shots of dark rum
Sterilise your jam jars, ladle and jam funnel in your dishwasher.
Amass you’re summer berries or, as I did, open my 1Kg bag of frozen mixed berries. The bag contained raspberries, blackberries, black currants, red currents and blueberries.
In a large saucepan add your lime juice, apple pulp and your berries. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for 5 minutes.
As this is a jelly, you will need to pass the fruit through a sieve at this point. Discard the pith and add the juice/pulp back to your pan. Add your sugar and boil for a further 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t leave the room! Stir occasionally. Your jelly will start to show signs of a set when the liquid starts to fall in clumps, not drips. The mixture will become more velvet like in its appearance. I think that I have told you this before!
Not too much apple pulp in this recipe as black currents and red currents have tons of naturally occurring pectin. You may remember that I do not use shop purchased pectin in any of ‘Dadda’s Jam’.
Splash or splosh in the booze and stir.
Carefully ladle your jam into your jars and close the lids tightly. Re-sterilise in a large saucepan, covering the lids with boiling water or place in a steamer for around 20 minutes. Then leave to cool.
When jam tastes this good, enjoy it on warm, buttered baguette as soon as humanly possible!
Is it that time? Has a week flown by already. Not that this is s Tuesday thing! So, how was daddy and dadda’s dinner(s) over this past week? Sadly no Indian cuisine, so that’s definitely gonna have to change over the next few days!
Now, John is your classic Irishman. He loves his meat and two veg. And looking through this weeks images. He’s clearly getting what he wants. Even the Thai Massaman curry is laden with spuds. Lol
Lamb Shanks, boiled potatoes, mangetout and a red wine jus.
Beef Massaman with basmati rice.
Rack of Lamb with garlic green beans, creamy mashed potato and a red current gravy.
Lightly smoked Salmon with potatoes and sugarsnap peas.
Gammon Steak potatoes and stringless beans.
Filet Steak, garlic beans, mushrooms and triple cooked chips.
Irish Sausage, mash and peas. Lucky John! But I have to add, I enjoyed this weeks menu also. And what’s on the menu tonight? Roast leg of pork! More meat and two veg (maybe three). Hahahahaha…
And guess what? The only thing you need is one of Dadda’s Jams! And there are so many to choose from!
Now here’s the deal! To your blender, add a good slug of dark rum. Add a similar volume of lime (or lemon) juice and maybe 10 ice cubes. Finally complete with 2 large dessert spoons of Dadda’s jam. In this case, summer berry. Blitz until a sorbet like consistency is achieved.
Put your feet up and relax.
Today’s morning lessons sent to us from the children’s school were initially embraced with loud screams from the little ones and downward looks and silence with the girls.
This isn’t going to be easy I mutter to myself. Right! Divide and conquer I think. The first class I gave to Aaliyah, Thor and Caleb.
We firstly look for the number ’11’ around the kitchen. A game to see how many times we can spot 2 straight lines sat next to one and other. The screams soon settled into a hive of excited wonderment. Okay, I then mistakenly start them on the girls (year 2) ‘geography’ lesson and we look at foods from around the world. A lot of countries were covered, many foods were thought of, quite a few from their experience of Dadda having actually created them for their dinner in the past.
We ended up in SubSaharan Africa. Now this memory takes me back to the time that John and I met. As well as designing for a clothing company just north of Soho in London (Noho), I also worked late afternoon in a hostel for young homeless people. I was their evening dinner chef. I had to pretty much forget everything that I had learned at catering college and research the wonders of international cuisine. This was partly due to the hostels embrace of multicultural London.
I did in fact re-educate my knowledge of Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, pretty much all cultural foods! Yes, including the Caribbean and some west African wonders.
I befriended one of the hostels staff members Dora. Herself from Ghana and a very keen cook. We spent many hours cooking, just as West Africans would have done. Traditionally meals would be cooked in a pot above a fire, later on a gas hob. I learnt spicy meatballs (with corned beef), served with hot tomato sauce, groundnut stew with chicken. Sardine omelet and a west Africa staple, Jellof rice.
I loved Dora’s surname! I believe it is a popular name in Ghana, Dora Owusa Ansah. That is such a great sounding name. It is a poetry of sounds to the ear. She was a lovely woman.
After not having cooked these dishes in years, today’s ‘geography’ lesson took me right back. The children and I talked about this great dish and I promised to make it for lunch.
The dish is flexible as different family’s all have their own recipes. So this is my take on this amazingly tasty dish of Africa. I have updated the simple one pot cooking option to make it my own. I am going to use a frying pan to cook the spice out with the meat and onions, but I will be using the microwave to cook the dish to perfection.
Meat (your choice)
A Tin of Tomatoes
Spices (feel free to experiment)
I remember Dora just chose what was available. I thought about the flavours I remembered and came up with:
Dried coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, chilli (dried or fresh), paprika, celery salt and a little season-all.
You want your meat tender, so you could cook it in advance. Stewed beef for instance. Chicken is ideal. Just cook it in a frying pan with your spices first. Oh! And I finely chopped some cooked garlic mushrooms, just because they were there! My meat choice today was bacon lardons from the fridge. This is a main course meal on its own. But this is your party so play around… Frozen peas!
Cook your meat with the spice. Add your chopped onion and continue to cook until tender. Add your tinned tomatoes and cook a further 10 minutes.
Place in a large microwaveable bowl with your rice and about double the volume of boiling water. Season well. Place a lid on your bowl or use a plate to cover. Microwave on full power for 10 minutes then carefully stir the contents. Cook for a further 10 minutes and recheck the contents. At this point most of that flavoursome cooking liquid should be absorbed by the rice. If not, cook a further 5 minutes.
Very carefully remove the bowl and empty the contents into a baking tray with plenty of room. I do this in one fail swoop. Baking tray on top and flip over. Your rice should come out with ease and look like a solid block. Break this up with a fork and pull clumps out to the side of the tray, allowing the rice to become more flaked and separate. A lot of steam, so be careful. Once you are happy there are few clumps, serve.
My crew went wild for the extremely invigorating taste and moorish texture of this most famous West African comfort food ‘Jellof Rice’. Not a single grain of rice remained on any of their plates.