Friday, April 13, 2012

Slowly but Surely

Am starting today with a 'fun' picture. Nothing to do with food (although the thought did occur to me that if in dire straits there would be enough meat on this bird to make a meal.

Every morning a seagull perches on the fence at the side of our back garden (next door throws out food for the birds), and as I had my camera handy a couple of days ago decided to see if I could photograph it before it flew down. It's not a very clear pic as I used the zoom lens and also my hands are not that steady unless I balance my elbows on something. Managed to get a good enough picture - shown below. Yesterday, taking the opportunity to remove food from the freezer, cooked (from frozen) the last of the Chocolate Fondants that I'd made weeks ago. After 15 minutes in a 200C oven you can see the result below. I did cook the final two, but B couldn't manage both so left me half of the second one to eat. Have to say they are very 'chocolately rich', and a great dessert to make for entertaining as they can be made in advance to chill or freeze before cooking. Much of yesterday was spent preparing some of the 'curryfest'. I made 40 samosas - these now in the freezer to fry on the day. Ran out of filo pastry after making 30, but as I'd thawed out half a pack of puff pastry (believing it to be short pastry - and intended for a fruit pie) decided to roll that out as thinly as filo (well almost), and make more samosas with that. Seemed to work, and these will be baked in the oven I think. Need to make one batch more (depending upon the final numbers).

Also made loads of lamb meatballs (think about 40) using about one-third of the lamb mince. These were gently fried then cooked in the oven (cooled and now frozen), the remaining two-thirds will be made into koftas today, then cooked/frozen. All that has to be done then is thaw, and reheat (thoroughly!) in the Rogan Josh curry sauce.

Beloved went to Lidl yesterday but they hadn't had the deliveries of many of the items I hoped for, and - the manager said - probably may not have them. This means I may have to make the naan bread myself (but anyway this is cheaper and not really a problem). Did manage to get the 5kg bag of basmati rice for £4.99. Have loads of long-grain rice anyway in the larder, but no basmati, and as everyone knows basmati is the best rice to serve with an Indian meal.

At least got 8 very large red bell peppers (only 40p) each from Lidl. They add plenty of colour to the Vegetarian Curry. Also got two jars of Tikka Masala curry sauce for my personal 'stock' (and if the numbers are higher than expected can use that with some chicken OR - my preference - make a Beef Jalfrezi or Dopiaza).
Can't tell you how lovely it is to do 'catering' again. Wish I could do this once a month.

Am having second thoughts about the proposed Indian desserts (this is an 'option' and not including in the £1.50 per head, the main prob. being freezer space for the Kulfi, and fridge space for the flavoured yogurts. Am going to suggest providing Indian Sweets to end the meal, diners choosing from a (huge) display of things like stuffed dates, Halva, banana fudge, rose-flavoured jellies, coconut 'ice', and tiny date 'biscuits' (to name but a few). Might even do make some pistachio macaroons. All these can be made several days in advance and don't need chilling. This would give me something to do before the final two/three days of 'action'.

Thanks to Les for his comment. "Teaching your grandmother to suck eggs" came immediately to my mind (along with 'b****y h**l' does he think I'm thick!!!). Yet those cooks with less experience 'than wot I got', will find his instructions useful.

Have had at least three offers of 'assistance' with my Indian preparations (and by this I mean locally, not as that 'virtual wish' of Catriona's. The problem with me is that help is often a hindrance to me as I then feel the need to stand over and watch to make sure everything is done exactly how I wish. That's the problem with me - when it comes to food (especially when entertaining AND presentation) am a perfectionist. So instead of "many hands make light work", normally it is "two many cooks spoil the broth".

I've only been able to work satisfactorily with two others (my 'catering team' from the past), this was my friend Gill, and one of my daughters. But this time I want to do it ALL myself. Just for the sheer pleasure to know I can. How 'cocky' is that?

Am surprised that Indian food is not so popular in the US as here Lisa. A curry 'take-away' is now becoming more popular than our traditional fish 'n chips. Probably as many (if not more) Indian restaurants than Chinese (and we have a lot of both), also more Thai restaurants are appearing.. All these 'ethnic' foods are wonderful and very varied in their flavour. I love to eat all of them.
Almost certainly in the US there are a lot of Mexican restaurants, possibly also Caribbean. Here we have only a few, and only in the larger towns, and myself haven't tried making much more than chilli con carne, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, jerk chicken, guacamole... (think I once made a chicken mole).

A comment has been recieved today sent via an older posting (so probably missed by readers. To keep up with comments, new ones need to be sent via the latest posting). This from a Vincent who has just found this blog and asks if it (or recipes) can be used on the 'petitchef' site that I think he runs.
This has reminded me that my new site will (hopefully) be up and running within the next few weeks. The intention was for it to start in the new year, but with the concern over our daughter's illness, it got put on hold. It is now being worked on (inbetween my cooking this week), but I cannot give it more attention until the curryfest is over and I have time to complete to my satisfaction.
This new site will have my very best, fastest and easiest ever dishes (all with photos) along with all the time and labour-saving tips (like 'advance preparation'). More on the site when it is about to be 'launched'.
Appreciate many long-time readers will have already read the above in much earlier blogs, but the recipes gathered together will be more useful with just the one site to refer to rather than have to check back on old 'blogs' of mine. Plus newer readers will then discover 'newer' (to them) recipes.

Once this weekend is over, will then have a few days to relax (what's relax?) before my next stint slaving away over a hot stove, and will then find time to have a longer chat. That's the idea anyway.

Beloved has just left for a couple or so hours, so am going to grab the free time to make the remaining meatballs (he like to stand over me watching what I'm doing!).
By the way, said to B that he could help me on 'the day' by doing the washing up (several times) whilst I 'made things' (as needed plenty of space and we don't have a lot). He said he couldn't as he was out sailing all that day, but would be home in time to take all the food to the venue. Thanks B!
(In any case, it is easier for me to wash up - as I do this much quicker than B. He has a very annoying habit of halfway through picking up a jug of the washing up water and pouring it from a great height back into the bowl, then repeating this at least 6 times "to make suds". He says the suds make the dishes cleaner!!)
Doing the washing up myself means I have the kitchen without the B in the way, so am quite happy that he WILL be out all day and leave me to get on with things.

Will be back tomorrow at the usual time (unless I sleep in...), so hope to see you then.