Chicken Cafrael

Have you heard of chicken cafrael?   I hadn’t until coming across it for this month’s Random Recipes.   It’s a Goan dish of chicken, marinated in a vinegary green masala, which is then grilled, fried or baked.   I love the taste of vinegar in Indian recipes and already make a red Goan chicken dish which has a vinegary spice paste but this was my first time to make chicken cafrael.

This month for Random Recipes we had to count along our books until we came to number 17 and I was more than happy to pick Floyd’s India.    Despite my love of Indian food, I’m ashamed to say that I had never actually used this book before.   It was one of the poor forgotten ones that I got before a lot of my other books.   I know that when I first got it, I read it and drooled at a lot of the recipes but for some reason did not actually make anything.   I think it was before I began cooking a lot of Indian food at home and maybe I was little intimidated by all the spices, and also by the fact that I didn’t have a food processor back then.  Now, when I look through the ingredients for the recipes I have almost everything and can’t understand why this book has been so neglected.  It will certainly be used again after this first recipe anyway.    The chicken was delicious and I served it with rice and spinach raita, which is my current favourite raita.

This post is for Random Recipes but I am also linking it to Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 2

300g chicken  – I used mini fillets

Small piece of ginger

Handful of coriander(cilantro)

2 cloves garlic

4 green chillies

1 tsp ground coriander or coriander seeds

3 cloves

3 cardamom pods

1 tsp black peppercorns

1/2 tsp cinnamon or small piece of cinnamon stick

White wine vinegar

How to make Chicken Cafrael

1. Grind any whole spices in a pestle and mortar.  Then put all the ingredients except the chicken in a food processor.    Just add a little vinegar.   If the mixture is too dry add a little more.

2. Rub the mixture into the chicken and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.   If you use larger pieces of chicken, make a few slashes in them with a knife before rubbing the marinade in.

3. Fry the chicken pieces in a little oil until cooked inside and browned on the outside.   You could also roast it in the oven or barbecue it.


Inspired by Masterchef: Thai Fish Cakes

For my honeymoon 3 and a half years ago we went to Thailand, to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  I loved it – the atmosphere, the scenery, the weather, and the food of course.  So, last week on Masterchef I was delighted when the contestants were flown to Thailand to cook in a market and then for a royal banquet.   Some of the best food we ate was also in a market, so I was especially interested in the street food.   Like with lot of Thai food, the paste is the base of the dish and so the contestants spent a long time pounding away with pestle and mortars.   I was a little lazier.   I used my pestle and mortar to crush the galangal, as it’s quite tough but then put it in the blender with all the other ingredients to make the paste.    I then just added the fish to the blender once the paste was made.   So, really easy fish cakes, much easier than making them in a Thai market.   Nevertheless, I’m fairly confident that I’ve managed to make quite good ones.    I didn’t use any flour, which leads to a denser, heavier fishcake so they stayed really light and juicy, but held together well and were bursting with flavour.  Definitely one to make again.

I just served these with a little squeeze of lime juice but they would normally be served with sweet chilli sauce.  However, I’m not keen on sweet and savoury together so didn’t bother to make any.   But, after this week’s show focusing on pastry, I will now be making something sweet and next week is the last week so there’ll only be two more Inspired by Masterchef posts to go.   For now anyway.

Ingredients – Makes 6 fish cakes

4 largish red chillies, most of the seeds removed

2 tsp lemongrass paste or a fresh lemongrass stalk

4 shallots

2 cloves of garlic

Small knob of galangal

Handful of coriander leaves

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp fish sauce

200g white fish

1 lime (to serve)

How to make Thai Fish Cakes

1. In a pestle and mortar, crush the galangal then put in a food processor.   If using fresh lemongrass, also pound first in the pestle and mortar.  Add all the other ingredients to the food processor except the fish.   Blend to a paste.  Taste and made any adjustments if necessary.

2. Roughly chop the fish and add it to the food processor.

3. Take the mixture out of the food processor, using a tablespoon.   Place spoonfuls on a plate and flatten slightly.    Put in the fridge for half an hour.

4. Heat some oil in a frying pan and then fry the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side.    Serve with lime wedges or sweet chilli sauce.

Spaghetti with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto – Pesto alla Siciliana

Pesto is one of my quick, easy and failsafe recipes to make whenever I don’t have much time or don’t feel like spending a long time in the kitchen.   I make it with all sorts of nuts and a variety of herbs and leaves.   However, until now, I had never made a tomato pesto – I sometimes find sun-dried tomatoes a little strong and overpowering of other tastes, but in a pesto, the parmesan is also strong and it mellows out the strength of the tomatoes.   At least, that’s what I find.

I found this recipe on Tinned Tomatoes but it is actually taken from Gino’s Pasta, by Gino D’Acampo.   I changed very little about the recipe.  I omitted the garlic cloves as the sun-dried tomatoes had garlic in them and I didn’t want the taste to be too garlicy, especially as we were going out after eating it!  Even if the sun-dried tomatoes hadn’t contained garlic, I think I would have used fewer than four cloves as the pesto is not cooked and I think 4 cloves would have been too strong.  I also used the oil from the jar of tomatoes instead of using olive oil as I wanted to keep the flavours that were in it.

I am linking this to Tina’s Crazy Cooking Challenge.   The theme is spaghetti with a red sauce.  I am also linking to Cookbook Sundays at Couscous and Consciousness.

Ingredients – Serves 4
50g almonds
20 basil leaves
150g sundried tomatoes in oil
80g parmesan, grated
4 garlic cloves (I omitted these as the sun-dried tomatoes contained garlic too)
Extra virgin olive oil (depending on whether you use the oil from the jar of tomatoes)
Black pepper
500g Pasta
How to make Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

1. If necessary take the skins off the almonds.    Pour boiling water over them and leave for three minutes.   Drain and then squeeze the almonds out of the skins.   Toast in a dry frying pan until lightly browned.

2. Put the tomatoes, garlic (if using) and basil leaves in a food processor, leaving most of the oil in the jar.

3. Add the almonds and continue to blend until smooth.   Add more oil if it is too dry.

4. Put the pesto in a container and mix in the parmesan and a little black pepper.

5. Cook the pasta and when it is ready, stir in the pesto.

6. Leftover pesto can be kept in the fridge and used over the next few days.

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Couscous, Beetroot and Feta Salad

I have so enjoyed the last week.   Some people say they get bored in maternity leave but not me.   I’ve done loads of shopping, cooking, research into nurseries, and of course browsing the internet for ideas for snacks, healthy appetizers and easy meals.   A week ago I was nowhere near prepared but now I feel pretty confident I’ve got almost everything I need.   But, going back to food, one of the nice things is that I’ve been eating lots of healthy food during the day, and using lots of ingredients my husband doesn’t like that I have to avoid in the evenings – beetroot, beans, sweetcorn.   I must go out and buy some sweet potatoes and squashes next.  Because I’m cooking for one at lunchtimes, I keep ending up with lots of leftovers and then using them again the next day in similar but still slightly different salads, and this delicious salad was all made with leftovers – leftover couscous, leftover beetroot and even the last bit of feta left over from another meal.  I’m therefore linking it to Frugal Food Fridays, started by Fuss Free Flavours and this month hosted by Tales of Pigling Bland.

Ingredients – serves 1

2 tbsp cooked couscous

2 small cooked beetroot, cubed

Approx 30g feta, cubed

1 spring onion, sliced

About 8 basil leaves

Handful of sunflower seeds

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Lemon juice

Black pepper

How to make Couscous, Beetroot and Feta Salad

1.Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry pan.   Keep shaking the pan so they don’t burn.  Take them out when they begin to turn golden.

2. Put the couscous on a plate and pile all the ingredients on top.   Season and top with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Inspired by Masterchef: Chocolate Ravioli with Cherry Sauce

I considered whether to call these Nutella ravioli or chocolate ravioli, but as they are Inspired by Masterchef I felt chocolate fitted the title better.   After all, if I’d had a little more time I could have made a ganache first, like for my truffles, and used that instead of resorting to a bought chocolate spread.   But hey, who doesn’t like Nutella, and as there is no sugar in the dough, the sweetness of the Nutella is enough to make the whole ravioli taste sweet.   If I’d made a ganache I might have made it a little sweeter than usual.   I’d never made pasta before.   Well, I’ve made gnocchi but I don’t consider that the same as pasta, and let me tell you, making pasta by hand is hard work.   The dough is not very soft so it is hard work to knead it, and then when you roll it out, it is also quite hard work.  I wanted to make a really thin dough but I was getting fed up of rolling out the dough and so stopped when it was probably a little too thick.    And that is my only regret about this dish. The cherry sauce was delicious and went so well with the Nutella ravioli.    I was worried the ravioli might split in the water but they held together well.   Unfortunately, the pasta was a little thick and I felt they could have done with another minute in the water to make sure all the dough was cooked through.   If only I’d had stronger arms, more patience or a pasta machine, because this would definitely have let me down if I had been on Masterchef.  Despite this, I was pleased to have tried something new and really enjoyed them.   Next time, I’ll have a bit more experience and hopefully will manage to make ravioli I could imagine serving on Masterchef.

I am linking this to Spice n Sugar Tales for Cakes, Cookies and Desserts and to Sweet as Sugar Cookies for Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – Makes 6

100g strong white flour

1 egg

6 tsp (or possibly more) Nutella or other chocolate spread

2 handfuls of cherries

1 tbsp icing sugar

How to make Chocolate Ravioli with Cherry Sauce

1. Make the pasta dough.   Put the egg and flour in a food processor and blend until it forms a breadcrumb consistency.

2. Turn this mixture out onto a clean work surface.   Use your hands to bring the mixture together into a dough and then knead until it becomes smooth and no longer floury.

3. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for about half an hour.

4. Take the dough out of the fridge.   Ideally use a pasta maker to roll the dough thin.   However, I don’t have one and had to use a rolling pin.   The dough is quite firm so it is hard work.   Roll it as thin as possible.

5. Using a round pastry cutter or glass, cut the dough into circles about 5-6cm across.

6. Put a tsp of nutella on half of the circles.  Using another circle, press the dough together all the way around so that the nutella is well sealed in the middle.

7. Gently put the ravioli into boiling water.  They will sink to the bottom.  After they rise, continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

8. To make the sauce, cut the cherries in half and remove the stones.   Add a little water and most of the icing sugar.   Heat gently and stir.   The cherries will go a little soft and release some juice so a syrup forms with the sugar, water and cherry juice.   If it is too dry add a little extra water.

9. Serve the ravioli on top of the cherries and drizzle the sauce over the top.   Sprinkle with a little icing sugar too.