Turkey and Coconut Milk Risotto

I made a risotto for tea last night that came out pretty well, so I thought I’d share it with you. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the actual cooking process because it wasn’t until I sat down to eat it that I thought “Wow, this is good. I should share it on my blog!”. I did take a picture of the end product though, so at least can see how it looked once it was finished! 😀

Bevchen’s Turkey and Coconut Milk Risotto

 

My risotto
My risotto

Ingredients (This amount served 2 of us)

About 20-30 g butter
Olive oil, for frying
150 g risotto rice
Around 350 ml chicken stock
Around 500 g bite-sized pieces of turkey breast
One tin of coconut milk
One red onion
A handful of green beans (the long ones… Prinzessbohnen in German), roughly chopped
Two garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
Dried chilli flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Pine nuts (optional), for decoration

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and use it to sautee the red onion
  2. At the same time, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and use that to fry the garlic
  3. Add the rice to the saucepan with the onion and stir until coated with butter, then add about 100 ml of the chicken stock and stir. Wait until all the stock is absorbed before adding another 100 ml. Continue like this until you’ve used all the stock.
  4. Meanwhile, stir some ginger into the pan with the garlic then add the turkey and fry until almost cooked through. Close to the end of the cooking time, add the beans
  5. Once all the stock is soaked up, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in some chilli flakes and black pepper, then pour in the coconut milk and return to a low heat to warm through
  6. Ad the chicken mixture to the rice/coconut milk pan and stir everything together, then give the mixture a tate to see if any more seasoning is needed. I added extra chilli flakes and black pepper. The chicken stock provided enough salt, in my opinion, but you could add extra salt if you like
  7. Dish the risotto out into bowls and sprinkle pine nuts on top to decorate (and because they taste gooood!)

Voila! A simple yet healthy (ish) meal!
It would probably taste even better if it had fresh ginger and chillis in, but as it was a “what can I make with the things I currently have in the flat?” meal and I hadn’t been shopping, I had neither of those things to work with.

Whole green beans in a carton.
These are like the type of beans I mean, except mine were thinner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cross cultural cooking: Toad in the hole

It had been ages since I last made toad in the hole, so when I saw it on Lou’s Labyrinth I really, really wanted to eat it again. So that’s what Jan and I had for dinner yesterday.

I always use a recipe that I got from BBC Food years ago, and which doesn’t even seem to be on the site any more. Looking at it just now, I found several similar ones but none that were exactly the same. Mine is a very simple recipe – flour, eggs (four of them!), milk, salt and pepper for the batter. I always add dried rosemary as well, although it’s not in the original recipe. And, of course, sausages. Being in Germany, I don’t actually have access to the kind of sausages one would normally use for toad in the hole, but Bratwurst work surprisingly well. Cross-cultural cooking at its best!

Toad in the hole

Pancakes!

Tuesday was pancake day in the UK and Ireland (and also Australia, New Zealand and Canada, it seems).

This is one of the few English traditions that Jan and I keep alive. He’s not a fan of the German carnival – which mostly involves people dressing up, getting drunk and acting like idiots – so when I mentioned that our Shrove Tuesday tradition consisted of stuffing yourself with pancakes (supposedly to get rid of all the fatty/sweet/unhealthy things in your cupboards before giving up everything for Lent) he was all for it.

Pancakes

Pancakes may be the easiest thing in the world to make. My batter consists of 200 g flour, a pinch of salt, 2 eggs and 500 ml of milk. That is it. Really, I could make pancakes any day of the year – I always have those ingredients in the house!

Some people choose to eat pancakes for breakfast on pancake day. Not me! That’s waaaay too much effort first thing in the morning. (I have to leave the house at 10 past 7. Sticking some bread in the toaster is the most you’ll get out of me at that time!). Instead, we have pancakes for tea – and by that I mean the entire meal consists of pancakes, not just dessert. This year, I decided on a chicken, bacon and leek mixture for the savoury filling.

Chicken, bacon and leek

Of course, we had sweet fillings, too – including the classic sugar and lemon juice. As a child, it would never have occurred to me to put anything else on a sweet pancake! I also put out some chocolate hazelnut spread, some vanilla extract and some caramel flavoured syrup.

Sweet stuff

English pancakes aren’t like American ones. They’re close to crêpes, although not as thin. They do need to be thin enough to roll up though! In the UK, we refer to the thicker, smaller type of pancakes as drop scones or Scotch pancakes.

Here’s one of my pancakes with filling on, waiting to be rolled up:

Pancake with chicken

The mixture made a total of 9 pancakes, so I had 4 and Jan had 5. Quite restrained for pancake day – usually I would make many, many more. After all, it’s tradition! 😉

It burns!

After the strange episode of waking up in the middle of the night with what may or may not have been a foot cramp, the other day I amanged to hurt myself in another bizarre manner.

Fire Face
Fire Face (Photo credit: Chris Yarzab)

I was going to make toad in the hole for tea on Thursday, but after my train was cancelled and its replacement turned up an hour later I didn’t much feel like going through the effort any more, so I decided to make a quick sausage hotpot type thing. We had some chillis in the fridge that needed using up, so I grabbed one of them to chick in the pan. After chopping it, I must have touched my face or something becasue about a minute later the piece of skin between my top lip and my nose started to burn. Seriously, it felt like the area was on fire!

Running cold water over the burning spot helped, but only while the water was actually running. As soo as it stopped, the fire returned worse than ever. My eyes were actually watering with the pain of it by this point! I then tried rolling a cold bottle of beer from the fridge over it with the same result. Finally, I remembered what I’ve always been told about spicy foods – if it burns your tongue, don’t drink water – that will only make the burning worse. Milk or yoghurt is the way forward (why do you think Indians drink Lassi?). I poured some milk into a cup and drank, taking care to purposely give myself a milk moustache. The relief wasn’t instant, but within 30 seconds the firey sensation had faded to a mere dull ache. A couple of minutes later it had gone completely.

And that’s the last time I forget to wash my hands after handling chilli!

Rosemary and lemon roast chicken

Chickens
Non-roasted chickens (Photo: Allie’s.Dad on Flickr)

Last week, I stumbled across this blog post with a recipe for a delicious sounding roast chicken. I’d been thinking about roasting a chicken for a while, and I knew instantly that this had to be the one I tried. The only problem was all the measurements are in American, i.e. cups and sticks and things. Seriously Americans, what’s wrong with good old grams? I knew that couldn’t be the only roast chicken recipe out there to use rosemary and lemons though, so I turned to the Interwebs for help. A quick google came up with this BBC Good Food recipe that sounded quite similar, so I settled on making my own version based on a combination of those two recipes. Here’s what I did (there are no photos of the individual steps because I wasn’t planning on blogging about it. This post is borne of a sheer lack of anything else to blog about – even my search terms have been boring recently!):

Ingredients
One whole chicken
150 g of butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Half of a red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
15 g of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (the BBC recipe wanted 20 g. Well, sorry BBC but fresh herbs in Germany only come as either whole plants or in 15 g packs!)
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon.
Lemons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  1. Leave the butter out for a bit to soften then place it in a bowl. Add the zest of one lemon to the bowl (or both if you like. I accidently chopped one lemon in half before remembering this was supposed to be the zesting stage and I didn’t fancy grating zest off a lemon that was in half. Too messy!)
  2. Crush 2 garlic cloves into the butter and add the chopped chilli and chopped rosemary. Comine the butter and other ingredients together.
  3. Rub about half of the buttery-herby-lemony mix all over the chicken (yes, with your hands! And I do have to admit I felt a bit sick looking at all that butter on my chicken! Jan, on the other hand, came in, looked at it and said “Mmm, that looks good!” In case you ever doubted that men and women are different, there’s your proof. ;-)) then squeeze all the juice from one lemon over it (I used the one I hadn’t previously zested). Then grind black pepper all over the top of the chicken.
  4. Cut the other lemon in half and stick the 2 halves inside the cavity of the chicken (the blog recipe told me to put all 4 halves up there but my chicken was only big enough for 2!)
  5. Cover the chicken with foil and put it in the oven for half an hour on 190°C. Then remove it, get rid of some of the fat/butter mix from the bottom of the roasting pan then put the rest of the butter mixture over the chicken (this time I used a spoon – too hot for hands!)
  6. Cover the chicken again and put it back in the oven for about 20 minutes, then uncover it and put it back in for around 20 minutes to brown, turning the oven down to about 170°C for these 20 minutes.
  7. Once the juices are running clear and the chicken is brown on top, take it out of the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes then serve with the side dishes of your choice. We had roast potatoes, mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Here’s my chicken:

Chicken!
Chicken!

It went back in the oven after I took this to brown up some more. It never did get properly brown, but the juices were running clear so I figured it would be ok. And neither of us has been ill this week, so I obviously got lucky 😉

A Sunday dinner for two
A Sunday dinner for two

Going native?

Jan bought me a recipe book for Christmas entitiled “German Cooking Today”. No, not a hint 😉 but I kept asking him about traditional German foods other than the ones from this region and he didn’t know any, hence the book.

I’ve never really done much real German cooking, despite living here for 6 years! The couple of times we’ve had homemade Spätzle Jan did the cooking and for Maultaschen we just buy ready made ones and heat them up. Jan made them once with some friends (before we were together) and apparantly it takes ages!

Since we had some baguette left over from the weekend, which had gone pretty stale, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to make Semmelknödel (bread dumplings) using the recipe in my book. I won’t post the recipe here for copyright reasons, but here is someone else’s: http://cookingweekends.blogspot.de/2011/04/semmel-knodel-german-bread-dumplings.html It’s similar to mine, but I had to beat the eggs before adding them to the rest of the mixture.

Semmelknödel floating in water while I telepathically beg them not to fall apart...
Semmelknödel floating in water while I telepathically beg them not to fall apart…

It took me forever to make the Knödel plus the side dish of pumpkin in a garlicky-tomato sauce (I suspect with practice it will be quicker), but they didn’t fall apart and ended up looking as they were supposed to. They’re pretty filling, and I couldn’t manage to finish all of mine, so Jan ate the last one. I’m taking that as a compliment 😀

The finished product.
The finished product.

Sooooup!

I bought myself a hand blender just after we came back from our New Year’s trip and I was dying to try it out, so yesterday I decided to make this Creamy curried carrot and butter bean soup from the BBC Good Food website.

I made a list of the ingredients I didn’t already have at home and headed to the shops directly from work. Once home, I logged on to the computer to print out the recipe only to find… no Internet! (I’ve since found it was a larger problem that affected 150,000 customers).  I was already planning to improvise as the place I went shopping didn’t sell butter beans so I bought a tin of something calling itself “white beans” instead (they looked like haricot beans to me). I still wanted my soup – and of course to use my new blender – so I decided to make my own version, based very loosely on what I could remember of the recipe. And so I bring you my own personal Curried Carrot and Bean Soup.

Curried carrot and bean soup
Curried carrot and bean soup, by me

For this recipe, you will need:
1 small onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
Some dried chilli flakes or a fresh chilli chopped small
400g of carrots, half of them sliced, the other half grated
1 large or a few small potatoes, diced
400g tin of white beans (haricot or cannellini)
About 200 ml vegetable stock
Curry powder
Ground turmeric
Ground cumin
200 ml tub of cream
(This amount served 2 of us as a main meal with plenty of bread. As a starter, it will probably do for 4-6 people)

Method
1. Fry the onions and garlic in some oil (I used olive oil) for about a minute
2. Add the chilli flakes (or fresh chilli if you have one – I didn’t) and fry for about another minute or 2
3. Add around 1-1.5 teaspoons each of curry powder, turmeric and cumin, depending on how spicy you like it, and stir well until everything’s mixed together

Onions, garlic and spices
Onions, garlic and spices

4. If the spices have soaked up all the oil, put a little more in the pan then add the chopped carrots and potato and fry for about 2-3 minutes, stirring once in a while
6. Add half of the tin of beans, stir in and fry for another minute or so

Vegetables
Vegetables

5. Boil the kettle and before making the vegetable stock pour a little boiling water onto any onion/spice mixture that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. The stuck on stuff will come off and you can stir it in. Now make up around 200 ml of vegetable stock and leave everything to simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and most of the water has gone (I grated the remaining carrots while I was waiting)
6. Blend the vegetable and stock mixture to form a puree then return the pan to the heat (if you used a real blender, obviously return the mush to the pan first) and add just enough water to make it slightly runny again, although not completely liquid (about 30ml should do it)
7. Stir the grated carrots and the rest of the beans into the mixture then gradually add the cream until it reaches the consitency you want. I used all my cream, but you might not want to

Gradually add the cream...
Gradually add the cream…

8. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper (and salt, if you like. I didn’t bother as I thought vegetable stock would be salty enough). At this point, you might want to add more of the spices (turmeric, cumin, curry powder) if the cream has taken away too much of the heat. Add some chilli powder too, if you like.
9. Heat the soup through completely, stirring frequently then serve with buttered crusty bread (or if, like me, you forgot to buy decent crusty bread, with toast…)

Ready to serve
Ready to serve

This ended up being a really tasty meal. I liked the way the grated carrots and non-pureed beans gave it some texture while the blended ingredients and the stock/cream gave it a soupy consistency in the background. Also, I was rather proud of myself for inventing my own soup recipe (albeit loosely based on someone else’s – looking at the Good Food recipe, it seems I didn’t actually remember much though…).

Showing the Germans how it’s done

So, my Christmas dinner went well again. There was way too much food, of course. That’s the whole point in Christmas dinner, isn’t it? Actually, we seem to have ended up with more leftovers than usual, although I didn’t think I had made more food. Perhaps people weren’t as hungry this time?
Anyway, here’s what we ate:

Food, glorious food
Food, glorious food

For the starter, aubergine rounds and very garlicky tomato bruschetta (delicious!).
Then came the main course. You probably can’t tell what everything is from the photo, so here’s a list:

  • Turkey (obviously…)
  • Bread sauce (home made)
  • Spicy sausage meat stuffing
  • Bread stuffing with herbs (not pictured – it eventually went were the aubergines or on here – made by my friend K)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roast potatoes
  • Broccoli (yuck! That one was for the others…)
  • Carrots
  • Honey-roasted parsnips
  • Pigs in blankets – made with Bratwurst!
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy
  • And home made lemonade to drink (plus some passion fruit flavoured sparkling wine that I picked up purely because the label had a picture of a multi-cultured lizard that I thought was cute)

Here’s a picture of just the turkey. It was perfectly cooked – even if I do say so myself, which I kind of have to since there’s nobody else here to say it for me. Not too dry, but not undercooked either (every year I am paranoid about poisoning everyone!).

I swear it's not the same turkey as in my last post...Turkey 2010

Desert was an apple and raisin crumble with Amaretto, again made by K. By this stage in the proceedings, I had forgotten all about cameras, so there are no photos of it. Never mind, I’m sure you all know what crumble looks like. And for the record, it was delicious!

I’m knackered now (didn’t get to bed til around midnight!), but it was worth it. And at least I don’t need to worry about what to cook for the rest of the week. Turkey with everything it is!! Here’s how I’m making tonight’s tea…

Leftovers

Turkey time!

Today is the day of my annual Christmas dinner, otherwise known as showing the Germans how it’s done in the UK (and that British cooking is not actually terrible, honest) day. Except this year there will also be a Scot joining us, and she already knows how it’s done. So she’ll just have to join the ranks of the showers (that’s ones who show, not appliance that squirts water at you) rather than the showees.

Here’s my 2010 turkey for you (it seems I took no photos last year). For obvious reasons, I can’t show you this year’s outcome yet (it’s only just gone in the oven).

TurkeyI haven’t poisoned anyone yet. Let’s hope this year isn’t the first time 😉

Friday’s letters

A post box in Durham, England
A post box in Durham, England

What? You didn’t think because I wrote last night’s post this morning there would be no Friday letters this week, did you? Don’t be silly – that would never do! Here are my letters for the week:

Dear self. You are aware that it’s 7 December and you haven’t sent a single package of Christmas gifts to England yet, aren’t you? Get on it!! I am serious.

Dear giant turkey in my fridge. Please defrost in time. But not too quickly. I don’t want to poison anyone…

Dear housework. Why is there so much of you? And why do you take so long to complete? I think I need a robot.

Dear snow. You are pretty. Please could you stay this time and not turn into rain? I’m sick of rain!

Dear computer. I know you are old, but if you go any slower you’ll start running backwards! Sort it out. (Actually, dear boyfriend, it is your computer, so you should sort it out!).

Dear December. Having crept up on me while I wasn’t looking, you are now charging forward at an alarming pace. Please slow down!! I have too much to do, and you’re not leaving me any time to do it!

Dear person who came to read the metres for the heating. I would have liked to tidy up a bit more, but seeing as I was working from home (solely because you were coming!) I felt that I should actually do some work as well. I do apologise for the mess, though. There just aren’t enough hours in the day! By the way, if my boyfriend had been the one to stay home waiting for you, the place would probably have looked even worse. (Actually, the visit went so fast, I doubt the guy even noticed what the place looked like. I had to keep turning lights on for him cos he just didn’t bother!)

OK, now I’m off to send a parcel to America and buy the remianing ingredients for Sunday’s Christmas dinner. I have a list as long as your arm!

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