Friday, 26 October 2012

do the impossible

One of my first recipe posts was a chicken and butternut squash curry, which I must say was pretty damn tasty. Since then I've had half a jar of balti paste left and have been trying to find something a little different to do with it. So I looked at the 'recipes' that were stuck to the lid of the balti paste and came across garlic chicken curry... sounds tasty! I tweaked the recipe a bit; and came up with this. The perfect Friday night meal - enjoy!

You will need...
500g diced chicken breast
Balti paste
1 red onion
1 tin chopped tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic
Tomato purée
Crème fraiche 
Chicken stock cube

Start by frying your chopped onion and garlic in a little oil - I used about five cloves. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened. 

Add approx 3 tablespoons of balti paste and cook with the onions and garlic for another 2 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes, a squeeze of tomato purée and about 200ml of chicken stock. 

Add the chicken and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes with a lid on. Cooking the chicken like this (rather than frying with the onions) means it remains succulent and tasty. Once cooked, stir in two tablespoons of crème fraiche. 

Serve with basmati rice and mango chutney. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

bookworm #12

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I was given this book for my birthday last month and although vaguely recognising the front cover (and chuckling at the surname of the author, harhar) I had no clue what to expect. I definitely am swayed by 'what's in' when it comes to choosing books as I love figuring out my own stance after seeing the hype surrounding the latest 'best seller'. So for me, this was new territory. 

The plot of The Dinner is at first glance very basic; two average couples out for dinner in a rather swanky restaurant discussing their work, day to day lives and children. This is where the plot begins to thicken - these two couples are actually related (the two men are brothers) and their children have committed a horrific act. Not only this, but one of the men is running for Prime Minister. 

The Dinner looks at the story behind the families, how the boys came to doing what they did and the social implications of their actions. I have to admit, there were times when the book lacked a bit of oomph (you know what I mean, right?!) and felt a little like I was plodding on through, but overall I did enjoy the story. The book took something that on first impression seems quite mundane, to something interesting, slightly morbid and morally questionable. 

If you fancy reading something a little different (think We Need To Talk About Kevin) then I would definitely recommend this. Enjoy!


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

not ready for it

Now winter is well and truly on its way, I am starting to crave warm, homely meals. This is a very easy and simple recipe for a beef stew, which meets the bill perfectly  - sometimes simply really is best. Its the sort of thing you can throw together after work with minimum effort, but tastes amazing and definitely satisfies my craving for comfort food. You can substitute the beef for lamb if you prefer!

You will need:
Diced beef
1 Onion
Tsp dijon mustard
Garlic puree
Tomato puree
Red wine or beer
1 beef stock cubes

This makes enough for two people, or three smaller portions! I haven't put quantities of beef, bacon or mushrooms as this is really up to you. I used a 400g pack of diced beef, 2 large mushrooms and about 4 rashers of bacon. You can use as much or as little of these as you like, or as much as you have in your cupboards! 

Start by chopping an onion, your bacon and mushrooms and fry them off with a little oil in a casserole dish on a medium heat. Once the onion has browned and the bacon is cooked, add the beef (or lamb), cook until the meat is browned. 

Then, add a good glug (technical term) of red wine - use as much or as little as you like - and the mustard, garlic puree and tomato puree. Obviously you can use real garlic if you prefer (chop and fry with the bacon, onion and mushrooms) I just use puree as I'm lazy! You can use beer instead of wine if you prefer; my Mum often uses a bottle of ale. 

Stir it all together and cover with water, adding a beef stock cube if necessary - you may not need it. You don't want it to be overly salty! Bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer and put the lid on. You should leave the stew to simmer on a low heat for about an hour, until the stock has reduced. You still want some liquid however, but it should reduce to be thicker and less watery. 

Serve with mashed potato and steamed green veg. Enjoy!

Close your eyes and imagine yourself here...
all images from Pinterest

Sunday, 7 October 2012

bookworm #11

50 Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

Ok, so I know the whole world and his wife (or should I say the whole world and her fella, in some cases!) has read at least the first of the 50 Shades books, and I too gave in pretty quickly. I bought the first one to take on holiday with me back in July, and raced through it quite quickly. I was even gutted that I hadn't bought the second one, so as soon as I got home I put an order in to Amazon sharpish. I thought the second one was also pretty good, and although by this point the ridiculous and unrealistic sex scenes were starting to drag, I put in an order for the third book.

Now, let me just say what I thought about the books initially before I get on to the third. I was intrigued by the story behind Christian (Mr Grey himself) and why he had such control issues - I do love a good bit of psychological analysis of a character! I thought the story itself was fairly gripping, and wanted to find out more about both the characters and where the story was heading. As I said, the sexy bits started to get irritating for me after the first book. I mean, I think most people would agree with how unrealistic Anastasia turning into an overnight sex goddess was, and after a while I just skimmed through those scenes or skipped them entirely. Snooze. 

Now, the third book was billed to be the cherry on the top of the cake - filling in all the gaps and finally enlightening us as to why Christian was so f-ed up. For me, this book did not deliver. The 'revelations' were not as ground breaking as I expected and the little spin off action scenes seemed to have been added as an after thought, after the author realised the book had no substance. I really struggled to finish the book; it took me bloody ages and on several occasions I just went straight to bed without reading as I could not be bothered with it - very out of character for me! 

Overall, I thought these books started off pretty well but swiftly began to lose pace and substance. I hoped to enjoy them as I'd heard of parallels with the Twilight series (which I unashamedly love), and although you could argue there are similarities, these books were just verging on ridiculous. I finished the third thinking "really, is that it?". 

What did you think of the 50 Shades trilogy? 

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