Category Archives: British

Pipin’ Coconut-n-Root Vegetable Curry Recipe


Baby, it’s cold out there! The Alaskan storm hiccup has just reached Eastern Canada with the brrr temperatures, even the first snow. Under these circumstances I’m sure I’m not the only one to resort to comfort eating. This recipe has been on my bucket list for a while and I wanted to share it eventually for all the right reasons. It’s vegetarian, comparatively light, highly dietetic and comforting, and can be easily complemented with multiple omnivore, vegan or pescatarian choices. I opted for the haddock fish to go with it, but you can choose tofu, chicken or any fondue-sliced meat, all of which can be sautéed in a few minutes with the spices of your choice.

A trip to the local farmers’ market…

A bunch of the root veggies and other bounty brought home…
A quick mental scan of what to do with them on a day like today…
IT’S GOTTA BE CURRY! From my personal experience, nothing can pick you up better than a savory-spicy curry during times of chilling humidity and/or a flu season. Just few spoons of it and you’re back to keep calm and carry on…
The versatility of this dish is incredible. Depending on the curry spices you use, it can take an Asian, Indian or Caribbean direction. I used Jamaican curry spice mix for this post, along with a dash of Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce to give it an obviously Jamaican flair . 
You can also easily incorporate any other fall veggies into it: from pumpkin to squash, broccoli, cauliflower or collard greens. Finally, you can swap canned chick peas with canned lentils, or beans if wish be.
Have any leftovers of this curry from Friday supper? Turn them into a fast and delicious take on a British Kedgeree for your week-end brunch by adding some cooked rice, boiled eggs and chopped greens. If you happen to have some smoked haddock in your fridge, team it up: it will make the dish outstanding (otherwise, canned tuna or salmon would be OK).
We all (me in particular – duh) need some kind of an immune booster at this time of the year. The combination of this curry’s ingredients provides it in abundance: from a support to digestion, to anti-inflammatory help, to giving more energy to the brain, to improving cholesterol ratios, to metabolic push and so on. And the coconut milk in this recipe is not just a healthy alternative to milk. It does magic marrying the spices and ingredients, softening the heat of the curry and adding delicate sweetness along with carrots and sweet potatoes.  
Serve the curry piping hot with or without the meat protein addition, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley and lime wedges on a side. Enjoy!
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COCONUT & ROOT VEGETABLE CURRY
Yields: 4 portions
Ingredients:
For Curry:
1 big sweet potato, cut in small cubes
1 big potato, cut in small cubes
1 big carrot, cut in small cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp curry powder
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 can 19 oz chickpeas, drained
1 can 14 oz coconut milk
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced (or 1 tbsp Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce)
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch of cilantro for garnish
2-3 scallions for garnish
1-2 limes, cut in wedges
Additions:
4 fillet of white, not oily fish (haddock, cod, tilapia, etc.), sautéed in 1 tsp oil and seasoned
OR
4 chicken breasts escalopes, sautéed in 1 tsp oil and seasoned
Instructions:
Cover the potatoes and carrots with water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for 3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
In the meantime, add three tablespoons of oil to the Dutch oven or a big saucepan and bring to medium high.  Add chili flakes, onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder.  Add the red pepper and mix.
Add potatoes and carrots and mix. Add chickpeas and mix. Add coconut milk and bring to boil. Add jalapeno and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with cilantro and minced scallions. Serve hot in bowls with lime wedges on a side, topped with fish or chicken additions.

For Kedgeree:
Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups coconut and vegetable curry leftovers
1/3 cup of water
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 cups cooked rice of your choice, cold
1 cup smoked haddock (or canned tuna, or salmon), minced
2 boiled eggs, chopped
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tsp fresh cilantro or parsley, minced
Instructions:
Heat the big skillet or wok to medium-high and add olive oil and butter. Add coconut vegetable curry and mix. Add water and fish sauce. Bring the heat to high, add rice and keep mixing vigorously for 1 minute. Add fish, eggs, cilantro and spices. Keep mixing for one minute. Add lime zest, drizzle with lime juice and mix. Remove for the heat and serve hot garnished with cilantro or parsley. Serve hot.

Eccles Cakes: Three Fillings


As other places in the world are springing forward, Montreal is actually wintering back with snowstorms and minus 25 C in the air (I can’t believe that two years ago people were already sitting on terraces with a beer, sleeveless, in the same city). As usually, snow is calling for some nurturing foods. Here is something to rave about on a cold March night: Eccles cakes with three different fillings – one is English authentic, one Canadian berry twist, and one which is called ‘place the order’.
The famous North of England sweet delicacy is made of puff pastry filled with mix of dried currants mixed with candied peel, butter, sugar and mixed spice.  Sometimes the currants are replaced by raisin, otherwise we are out of luck for variety. Well, I decided to extend the fillings selection…
The ancestor of Eccles dessert though was quite different from today’s or mine versions of cakes offering a lurid tale of Mrs. Elizabeth Raffald’s recipe that called for a boiled calf foot as a major filling ingredient…and was called ‘sweet patties’…   
Not that I was looking for such an exotic extreme, but I only had dried black currants enough for the first batch of filling, so I decided to make a second filling with dried Saskatoon berries (which were sitting in my pantry for a while screaming to be used), crushed walnuts and candied citrus peel, turning them into a Canadian berry twist on Eccles cakes. 
And when my daughter popped in asking for her favorite raspberries, I couldn’t but make a third filling with frozen raspberries mixed with raspberry jam and candied citrus peel. All of them made a huge hit! If you have some other berries in mind (blueberries, cranberries, etc.) you can totally piece them together with the same filling base (see candied citrus peel + butter syrup mix in the recipe) and I almost guarantee a satisfactory result.
Puff pastry is used to wrap the Eccles cakes filling in and I suggest you use a frozen ready-made one unless you are a pastry chef or are skillful enough to whirl your own in a wink (which I doubt). I used  three packs of pastry (one pack per each filling), which delivered around 56 cakes. As for the fillings, make sure they sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to let the juices mellow.

By the time the first bunch of Eccles cakes was piping hot and the tea was steeping, the blizzard increased and the temperature was dropping down fast. Suddenly, a family of gorgeous blue jays flew over to the bird-feeder right outside my window (perhaps to wow me on the cakes)… I was happy I had camera in my hands as I managed to take few of these cool blue jay shots:   

Whatever the weather, once you are close to a plate of these babies still warm from the oven three feelings will be revealed: JOY, HAPPINESS, LOVE. Try them to make them in summer with some fresh berries from your garden: complete awesomeness!

Enjoy your baking!

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ECCLES CAKES: THREE FILLINGS

Ingredients for classic Eccles Cakes with Currants:
Yields: 16 to 20 cakes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 ½ cups (375 ml) fresh, frozen or dried currants
1/3 (75 ml) cup soft brown sugar
1/3 (75 ml) cup chopped candied citrus peel 
1 tsp (5ml) ground nutmeg
1 tsp (5 ml) ground allspice
1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger
Juice of ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
14 oz (397 g) package frozen puff pastry
1 small egg, beaten to moisten edges and brush tops
2-3 tbsp Demerara sugar for dusting
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add sugar, currants, mixed peel, nutmeg, all spice, ginger and lemon juice. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Let cool and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch (3mm) thickness. Cut circles 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in diameter using a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the half of the circles you made. Lightly brush the edges with beaten egg. Place the remaining circles on top, crimping the edges to seal. Brush tops with beaten egg white; dust with Demerara sugar. Cut several small slits on top of each cake. Place about 2 inches apart on the greased baking sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.
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Ingredients for Eccles Cakes with Canadian Saskatoons & Walnuts:
Yields: 16 to 20 cakes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup (225 ml) dried saskatoons (prarie berries)
½ cup (50g) walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp (15 ml) soft brown sugar
1/3 (75 ml) cup chopped candied citrus peel 
1 tsp (5ml) ground nutmeg
1 tsp (5 ml) ground allspice
1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger
Juice of ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
14 oz (397 g) package frozen puff pastry
1 small egg, beaten to moisten edges and brush tops
2-3 tbsp Demerara sugar for dusting
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add sugar, saskatoons, walnuts, mixed peel, nutmeg, all spice, ginger and lemon juice. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Let cool and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch (3mm) thickness. Cut circles 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in diameter using a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the half of the circles you made. Lightly brush the edges with beaten egg. Place the remaining circles on top, crimping the edges to seal. Brush tops with beaten egg white; dust with Demerara sugar. Cut several small slits on top of each cake. Place about 2 inches apart on the greased baking sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.
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Ingredients for Eccles Cakes with Raspberry & Pecan Nuts:
Yields: 16 to 20 cakes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup (225 ml) frozen raspberries, crushed
½ cup (50g) pecan nuts, chopped
2 tbsp (15 ml) soft brown sugar
1 tbsp raspberry jam
1/3 (75 ml) cup chopped candied citrus peel 
1 tsp (5ml) ground nutmeg
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger
Juice of ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
14 oz (397 g) package frozen puff pastry
1 small egg, beaten to moisten edges and brush tops
2-3 tbsp Demerara sugar for dusting
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add sugar, jam, raspberries, pecan nuts, mixed peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and lemon juice. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Let cool and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch (3mm) thickness. Cut circles 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in diameter using a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the half of the circles you made. Lightly brush the edges with beaten egg. Place the remaining circles on top, crimping the edges to seal. Brush tops with beaten egg white; dust with Demerara sugar. Cut several small slits on top of each cake. Place about 2 inches apart on the greased baking sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Fabulous Pee Wee Scotch Eggs

Last week-end I made some awesome pee wee Scotch eggs. Scotch egg is an egg wrapped in a sausage meat and crumbs and then deep-fried or baked. The name of this dish has a weird association with a scotch tape, but for those who tried this ”pub grub” in its best – c’est un vrai délice”. This traditional British (Scottish obviously) pub and picnic dish was well forgotten outside Britain for decades until it made its come back few years ago when many celebrity chefs (i.e. Jamie Oliver, Laura Calder, Heston Blumenthal) featured it in their collections. Since then, Scotch eggs have been in their Renaissance and, hopefully soon we will see them in Montreal pubs as well. If necessary, you can transform the dish into gluten free by just swapping regular crumbs for gluten free (I am making them from gluten free bread leftovers). Or, for those on elimination diet, wrap the eggs with some ground chicken or turkey seasoned to your taste and bake the assembled eggs in an oiled pan.

Any kind of egg (chicken, duck, quail) can be used in this recipe. I prefer pee wee eggs (from young chicken): they make a great compromise – not as big as regular chicken egg (few eggs might easily take all your sausage meat), yet bigger than quail eggs, so you don’t overspend yourself on peeling. You will not find them in your usual supermarket, but most Asian groceries have them for less than 90 cents a dozen. As for the sausage meat, you can select fresh sausage of your choice and remove it from casing, or prepare your own sausage meat, or just use the Italian burger meat, like I did. A pinch of thyme, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, chopped parsley and/or chives or even parmesan are optional, but would add an extra layer of taste to the meat: choose what you like.
Although it does take a few stages to prepare, it’s worth the effort: adults and kids love them equally, hot or cold. You can opt for a runny yolk (just cook the egg for not more than a minute) if you wish to achieve that special effect of contrasting textures: I am sure, the result and taste will make you happy.
Scotch eggs can be prepared in advance (hard boiled egg version), transport beautifully and combine well with salads, pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, even hot sauce. They make an excellent snack for school or to watch a soccer or baseball game. I find hot Scotch eggs are great with coffee for breakfast while cold once are very good with wine. Add these ”Bird Nests” to your next picnic basket and you will impress everyone!
 Scotch Eggs Ahoy!
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Scotch Eggs
Ingredients:
6 hard boiled pee wee eggs (or 3 large chicken eggs)
1/2 lb sausage meat
1 egg beaten with a little bit of milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
frying oil
Instructions:
Boil the eggs to make hard eggs. Shell the eggs and wrap them with the sausage meat. Coat with beaten eggs mixture and breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil for about 3-4 minutes each until nicely browned. Optional: put them in the oven preheated to 190 C or 375 F for 5 minutes to make sure the sausage meat is cooked through. Cut each egg in half and serve either hot or cold.