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Part of me wants to break down barriers, set people free and make the world a better place. A bigger part of me wants to sit on the sofa, drink tea and play through old Nintendo games.

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Category : Food and drink

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27/08/09 : Chicken Korma

All the recipes I could find for this were completely different so I thought I'd start from scratch. It works - the spices seem right, the garlic and ginger work well together as do the coconut and yogurt, but I do think it's missing something. Or maybe I just like my curries with a bit more kick.

Korma ingredients 2 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
a small onion, finely diced (or pureed*)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
same amount of chopped ginger
2 red chillis, de-seeded and chopped small
a level tsp each of ground cumin, corriander and tumeric
200ml coconut milk
150ml natural yogurt (not low fat!)
heaped tbsp ground almonds
[*UPDATE - if you have one of those mini chopper things, whizz up the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli]

Korma cooking Stir fry the chicken over a fairly high heat until cooked through, then remove (put some rice on at this point, it'll take just under 15 minutes). Add a little more oil then fry the onion for a minute or so, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli, then the spices. Add the chicken, coconut milk and almonds. As soon as it starts bubbling, turn the heat right down and stir in the yogurt. Let it simmer away gently, stirring occasionally, while the rice finishes cooking.

Serves two. (Note - don't be put off by the fact that it looks like a Vesta Chicken Curry).

Chicken Korma

Posted by Tim at 10:56 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 6 ]


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04/01/09 : Slow cooked beef in red wine

I've been told I have to write something. So, in the absence of a proper New Year post, which may or may not follow, but let's face it probably wont, here is a nice winter-warmer dish - perfect for relatives that may have received a slow cooker for xmas.

The amounts given will serve two, but you can double everything if you want (I sometimes do this and freeze what's left)

You will need:

Beef in pot Beef - braising steak or similar, cut into bite sized pieces with all the bad stuff removed (some marbling of fat is good, great big lumps aren't)

1-2 carrots
a large leek

about 100g chopped tomatoes in juice (from a tin - or a couple of skinned, de-seeded and chopped tomatoes and a squidge of tomato puree, whatever you have)

200ml beef stock (use an oxo cube)
200ml red wine (you'll be left with a couple of glasses to drink)

Freshly ground pepper, a little salt, some herbs of your choice if you can be bothered

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Wash/scrape/trim the leek and carrots and cut them into rounds. Layer at the bottom of the slow-cooker pot and add seasonings and herbs, tomatoes and stock.

In a large frying pan, fry the beef (a few bits at a time) in a little olive oil for a few minutes until nicely browned. Add to the pot.

Add the wine to the frying pan and turn the heat up, stirring until it comes to the boil to deglaze, then pour into the pot.

Stir well, put the lid on and cook on the higher setting for about six hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes (lots of butter, plenty of freshly ground black pepper) and the rest of the wine. About the same time as you put the potatoes on, mix a tablespoon of cornflour in a cup with a little water and stir into the casserole to thicken slightly.

Beef in bowl

Posted by Tim at 11:11 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 0 ]


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16/11/08 : Tagliatelle with pancetta, leek and mushrooms

Sorry, two recipes in a row . . . this was an improvisation that worked well so I thought I'd post it before I forgot it. All measurements approximate.

olive oil
100g pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, diced
a large leek, shredded
handful of mushrooms, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
tbsp brandy
level tbsp flour
200ml veg stock
100ml double cream
chopped fresh parsley
plenty freshly ground black pepper

Basically, cook everything in the order above. Put a pan over a medium heat, add a good glug of oil and fry the bacon until starting to brown. Add the leek and cook for a few minutes until softened, then the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then the garlic, then the brandy. Add the flour and gradually stir in the stock. Bring to the boil then add the cream, parsley and pepper and turn the heat down. Let it simmer gently whilst you cook the tagliatelle. When the pasta is almost done, drain and add to the sauce. Mix everything thoroughly whilst the pasta finishes cooking.

Posted by Tim at 18:01 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 0 ]


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11/11/08 : Slow cooked chilli

My 'ickle sis asked for this, which is basically Sarah's version of an Anglicised version of an Americanised version of a Mexican dish. Or something like that. It's nice though, and I haven't posted a recipe for ages so here goes.

You will need:

Frying pan
Slow cooker or casserole dish

500g minced beef
an onion, chopped
couple cloves garlic, crushed
a green pepper, de-seeded and chopped small
400g chopped tomatoes (standard tin)
200g cooked kidney beans (small tin)
200ml beef stock (an oxo cube is fine)
a rounded tbsp hot chilli powder
a level tsp cumin
a level tsp paprika
a good grinding black pepper

Put the frying pan over a med-high heat and cook the beef for a few minutes until thoroughly browned. Push to the side of the pan so you can spoon off the excess fat then tip the beef into the casserole dish / slow cooker pot along with the green pepper, black pepper and kidney beans (rinsed and drained).

Put the pan back onto the heat (turn down a little) and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and after a few minutes all the spices. NOTE: for more or less heat, adjust the amount of the chilli powder, not the other spices.

Fry the spices for a short while before adding the stock and tomatoes. NOTE: if using a slow cooker, you need less liquid so concentrate the stock slightly (if using a cube, add only half the amount of water).

Chuck it all in the pot and mix thoroughly. It'll take about six hours on the higher setting of a slow cooker, or (I'd guess) a couple of hours in the oven on a low temperature (about 150°, gas mark 2).

Serve with rice - makes enough for 4 peeps (you can freeze any that's leftover).

Posted by Tim at 11:48 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 0 ]


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25/03/08 : Feeling good about food

There has been much discussion in the media recently about battery chickens. The usual argument for is that people on low incomes can't afford anything else. Well, as someone on a low income I thought I'd give an opinion.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a chicken from Tesco. It was free range (although not organic). It was just under 2kg and cost just under £8. I made the following -

Roast chicken for two adults and one child.
Cold chicken for lunch the next day (the best bit - in soft brown rolls with far too much butter).
After removing the remaining meat and making stock out of the carcass I made chicken supreme (chicken, ham, mushrooms, stock/cream sauce, rice) for two adults and one child and, for a light meal the following evening, chicken and vegetable soup (with the last of the stock).

I kinda think that's good value.

Actually I think I'm doing quite well with my resolution to eat less crap. The other day Sarah made a cake (ingredients: self raising flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla extract - less than half the stuff you'll find in anything from the shops) and after all the heavy Easter food and choccy and stuff we decided to have a starter and a dessert instead of a main course in the evening. Sarah made bread - a granary cob (well, a granary splat - though it tasted nice) and I made broccoli soup (don't knock it 'till you've tried it). We followed that with a summer fruit crumble - the fruit was frozen and came from Tesco (we used up the stuff we picked and froze last summer ages ago) but I made the crumble topping and proper custard.

As well as tasting better, I'm sure it's all better for you - and you know exactly what you're eating. It just sort of makes you feel good about stuff in general.

P.S. And anyway, why does anyone have a "right" to have cheap chicken? I mean, good food needs to be available to everyone, but there are other things that can be eaten - what's the thing with cheap chicken? I haven't heard anyone moaning about the lack of cheap fillet steak. Or complaining that Tesco won't add caviar to their value range.

Posted by Tim at 22:21 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 2 ]


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28/05/07 : Tea

At one time, I think I could have quite easily carved out a career as a cat burglar. I am also pretty sure that if I had have ever been caught breaking into someone's house, I would have ended up making the owners a cup of tea whilst waiting for the police to arrive.

The subject of tea seems to have popped up in the news a fair bit recently, ever since Tony Blair mentioned that he wanted to uphold the British tradition of a well-made cup of tea.

Looking through some of the related articles it appears that tea may reduce the risk of both ovarian cancer and skin cancer (that cup of tea in the picture must be a bit cold by the second article).

The latest research recommends using a teapot rather than dunking a bag in a cup.

Now, this is serious. Dunking a bag in a cup?!? I know that non-English people make tea this way (in the movies and on TV at least) but I didn't realise that people over here did that too! I'm shocked! How can people not know that you need to pour BOILING water ONTO the tea - before you even begin to think about milk and stuff?

I feel the need to educate people about this important matter, so here is a brief tutorial (if you think this is all too much fuss, you're working too hard and need to chill out a bit).

How to make the perfect cup of tea (according to Tim Sellers)

You will need:
a kettle full of fresh water
a teapot
a tea strainer
a teaspoon
mugs (not cups)
semi-skimmed milk
loose leaf Assam tea - preferably Twinings

Put the kettle on. Shortly before it boils, pour a little water into the teapot and swill it round to heat it up before pouring away.
Put one rounded teaspoon of tea per person into the pot and as soon as the kettle boils, add the water. You'll need to add just the right amount though - it's probably best to practice this beforehand.
Give it a good stir, put the lid on and leave it alone for exactly five minutes (this should give you enough time to find something to go with the tea, as detailed below).
Stir the tea again.
Pour a little milk into each mug - just enough to cover the bottom.
Pour the tea through the strainer into the mugs. You'll need to pour a little into each one to start with - if you fill up the first mug before moving onto the next one you'll find that the first one will be too weak and the last too strong (the finished product should be a rich coppery brown colour).
For best results, add a level teaspoon of sugar.
Stir well, sit down, relax and enjoy.

Tea goes well with most sweet and savoury foods, in particular:
Bacon and eggs
Marmite on toast (ordinary white sliced is fine, I prefer granary, make sure you use proper butter)
Cake (any)
Biscuits. For more on the biscuit issue, have a look at this site. I recommend Digestives (ordinary ones if you want to dunk, milk chocolate ones if not) - which absolutely must be McVities.

Posted by Tim at 18:24 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 0 ]


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14/03/07 : Chicken and mushroom risotto


This is the ultimate comfort food. Easy to eat (like porridge) but with the most amazing flavour (unlike porridge). Obviously risotto is an Italian dish, but the chicken and mushroom - and probably the peas too - make it seem strangely English.

You can use leftover cooked chicken, but for best results put one large chicken breast* (skin side up) in a flameproof casserole dish and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 190° (gas mark 5). Leave to cool then remove and discard the skin before chopping the chicken into whatever size pieces you fancy. Don't wash up the dish!

Ok, as well as the chicken you will need:

Olive oil
A small onion
2 cloves of garlic
A few mushrooms
A glass of dry white wine
250ml risotto rice (yes, that's volume not weight - use a measuring jug)
500ml chicken stock (powdered will do the job)
A handful of frozen peas

Finely chop the onions, crush the garlic and slice the mushrooms. Leave the mushroom slices with bits of stalk on as they are but finely chop the rest (i.e. the end bits).

Put the stock in a pan over a low heat so it stays simmering gently.

The dish that you cooked the chicken in will have some chicken fat and stuff in it - top it up with enough olive oil to cover the bottom and put on a fairly low heat. Fry the onion for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic and finely chopped mushrooms and cook for another few minutes. Add the rice and stir thoroughly before turning the heat up to just above medium. Chuck in the wine and stir continually until nearly absorbed. Add the sliced mushrooms.

The next stage will take about 20 minutes. You need to add about 100ml of the stock then stir continuously until it's almost absorbed. Add more stock and continue the process. About 5 minutes before the end add the frozen peas, and the chicken right near the end just to heat through. The finished risotto should be sticky and not too dry.

Serves two.

* UPDATE: Actually I'm not sure about this. I recently made it with left over roast chicken and used the carcass to make the stock, which gave the whole thing a sort of "completeness".

Posted by Tim at 18:05 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 0 ]


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12/12/06 : Spaggy bolly

Having just watched entertainingly weird "culinary alchemist" Heston Blumenthal make Spaghetti Bolognese, I thought I'd offer my own - rather simplified - version for those who don't want to get up at the crack of dawn to prepare their evening meal.

The name "Spaggy Bolly" by the way comes from a silly rhyme that happens to fit to a song by Madness. It still sounds better than "Spaghetti Bolognese" - and considerably better than "Spag Bol", which is used by posh people who think that they can make themselves sound cool by abbreviating words.

Anyway, you will need:

500g good quality minced beef
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion
1 carrot
3 large cloves garlic
600g chopped tomatoes in juice (1½ normal tins)
1 tsp dried oregano (you can add fresh herbs near the end if you want)
200ml beef stock
200ml dry-but-fruity red wine

Put a large pan over a medium-high heat. Chuck in the beef cook for about 5 minutes, stirring pretty much continuously, until thoroughly browned. Push it to one side of the pan and then tilt the pan so the fat and gunge runs into the gap. Skim off with a spoon. Stir in the stock and put the pan a low heat while you sort out everything else.

Dice the onion and carrot. Put another pan on a low heat, add the oil and gently fry the onion and carrot until soft.

Crush the garlic and add to the pan, cooking for a minute or so before adding the oregano and, after a few seconds, the wine.

Turn up the heat and add the tomatoes, then the beef and stock. Stir until the mixture comes to the boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cook, stirring occasionally, for as long as possible (about 2 hours).

The mixture will serve four - still make the same amount if there are only two of you and freeze the rest.

If serving over spaghetti, use good quality dried pasta (125g per person) and make sure it's slightly undercooked. Alternatively use the sauce to make lasagne.

Posted by Tim at 17:48 [ permalink ]
Categories: Food and drink
Comments [ 0 ]


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