Thursday, September 22, 2011

Crochet Cushion

I have been itching to get crocheting again since completing this blanket for PS which was my first foray into the world of crocheting.  I still haven't progress from the basic granny square, but who cares?!  It is a relaxing way to spend an evening watching our new favourite programme The Hour and to my amateur eye the end results are still pleasing....!
Pointing out favourite colours

I made a basic cushion cover from an old pillow case then hand stitched the two oversized granny squares onto the cover & cushion. Voila, a cushion for Connie's room!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tandoori Nights

When I was young and free my then boyfriend (now husband) & I spent 3 months in India. Many of the memories are fading now but I am still clinging onto my food related ones.  Tandoori Nights was a restaurant in Jodhpur. The tables were outside in a garden dimly lit by strings of fairy lights and I remember the feel of the dewy grass on my feet. Anyway the star was the tandoori chicken. Flame red & slightly charred but with succulent flavourful meat.

Evil bunny eyes..
I have been meaning to cook up an India feast for a while now but have only just made a trip to Jane's Foods, a proper India supermarket, to stock on authentic ingredients.  
My recipes are loosely based on Madhur Jaffrey's (dahl), Keith Floyd (tandoori chicken) & Gordon Ramsay (fruit salad) with my own additions/amendments.  The pakora recipe was a mix of the one from the back of the gram flour packet & this great blog. Mr Maker is the bread expert in our house so he made the Naan.

Aubergine pakora with cucumber raita
Tandoori chicken
tomato salad
Spiced fruit salad

Aubergine Pakora

2 cups of finely chopped aubergine (can use any veg)
2 small red onions chopped
2 green chillies chopped (more if you want them hotter)
3 cups of gram flour
approx 1 1/2 cups of water
handful of chopped curry leaves
Pinch of salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp gram masala

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Stir in the onion and aubergine.  Gradually add the water to the flour mixture until a stiff batter forms.  You may not need all of the water.  Leave for 30 mins.
Heat oil (I used peanut oil) to just smoking point. We shallow fried so had about 3" depth of oil. Drop about a tablespoon of mixture into the oil and turn frequently until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towel. 

Tandoori chicken

4/5lb chicken jointed into 8 pieces
juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
4 cloves of garlic minced
4cm ginger minced
1 tsp paprika
2 cups of natural yoghurt

Mix lemon juice & chilli powder and rub all over chicken pieces.  Leave for 30 mins.
Mix all other ingredients together and smear over the chicken.  Allow to marinade in the fridge overnight (min. 4 hours).
Pre heat grill then cook chicken over indirect heat until internal temperature reaches 90oC and the chicken is nicely charred. Sorry for rather vague cooking instructions, its the look & poke approach.


1 1/2 cups of yellow split peas
5 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
4 slices of ginger, no need to peel
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbs peanut oil
2 tsp cumin 
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 tsp chilli powder

Bring water & yellow split peas to the boil.  Remove scum with slotted spoon.  Add ginger and turmeric.  Cover, leaving the lid slightly adjar & simmer for about 1 1/2hrs.  Stir in the last half hour to prevent sticking. You may need to add more water.  Add salt & garam.
In a seperate pan heat oil. Add cumin until it becomes fragrant then add garlic until it browns. Remove from heat & add chilli.  Pour over dahl and mix.

Spiced Fruit Salad

100g granulate sugar
150ml water
3 black peppercorns
1 small cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods lightly crushed
1 papaya
1 mango
1 pineapple
2 kiwis

Put the sugar & water into a pan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the spices and boil briefly.  Reduce heat and simmer until it thickens slightly (about 10 mins). Set aside to cool & infuse further.
Peel & slice the fruit into a large bowl. Pour over the syrup and serve.

All recipes served 6 with no left overs!  Thanks to Kim for being my photographer 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies

I gave the biggest mini Maker options for the afternoon's activities and she chose cooking, a greed focused decision I thought (takes after her father!).  So we all put on our aprons and set to work in the kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can't remember where I got this recipe from; its really easy & quick so great to do with youngsters and always produces crowd pleasing results.

150g golden castor sugar
200g brown sugar
250g melted butter
2 eggs
generous splash of vanilla extract
300g plain flour
250g chocolate chips

Set oven to 375F.
Melt butter and stir into the sugars.  Then mix in the eggs & vanilla extract.  Stir in flour then last but not least mix in the chocolate chips.  

Blob a desert spoonful per cookie on a lined baking sheet allowing plenty of space for spread.  Bake for approx 10mins, until they slightly colour on the edges. Whilst the cookies are baking fight over bowl & spoon licking rights....
As the mini Maker's were involved we put our blobs of mixture into greased muffin trays which made for more of a cookie cake. No bad thing we thought!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Children's pillowcase

We're ready for bed....Join the sleep set....Sweet dreams love....See you in the morning....

is the message written around my pillowcase. One of my Grandma's (I had 4 in my hay day) bought this for me many many Christmas's ago. She was a champion of upmarket catalogue shopping and as a result we had varied, and mostly good gifts from her. The monogrammed theme lasted a few years (towels, note-lets, pens & pencils) but the pillowcase was my favourite.  Obviously as it came with me to the USA!  I confess to giving it a good sniff when I found it in the cupboard. Still smells of my childhood.

Anyway it prompted the thought to make a pillow case for my niece, Florence, who is moving into a big bed very soon. The design inspiration came from looking at this fab embroidered growth chart.  
The first thing I did was cut out blocks 3x3 inches & sew them together. Then pressed the seems towards the lighter coloured fabric.

Next step was to patch pieces to make the "F" & press the edges in. I'm sure there is a better way of doing this but the end result is satisfactory.

The strip of coloured blocks were sewn into the fabric approx 3/4 of the way in.  It took a lot of brain power to work out how best to do this (really!). In the end I opted for pinning the strip then cutting the front face of the pillow case and sewing each piece of the front fabric to the strip separately. Makes sense, right?!

Here's the finished article.  I hope it lasts as long as my pillow case has!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Anzac biscuits

To celebrate the presence of a bottle of liquid nectar or as its also known, Lyle's golden syrup in our house (bought from the UK) and because a Kiwi friend is popping in for a coffee tomorrow morning I decided to make some Anzac biscuits.
As always I have the idea of what to make then realise when I've already set to that I don't have half the ingredients. In this case I didn't have the required desiccated coconut. I have substituted in crushed flaked almonds with very satisfactory results.  Lets see what the native says tomorrow morning.....

Anzac biscuits

1 cup of plain flour
1 cup of desiccated coconut or crushed flaked almonds
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of jumbo oats
125g butter
1tbs golden syrup
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
2 tbs boiling water

Set oven to 160c (315F).
Mix together flour, almonds, brown sugar & oats in a bowl. Melt butter & golden syrup together.
In a little bowl pour boiling water over bicarb of soda. Mix into butter & syrup.  Pour over the oats mixture and stir to combine.
Roll small balls of the mixture in your hands and put onto lined tray.  Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand.
Bake for 20mins (ish) until the biscuits are golden.

PS. If you'v never heard of Anzac biscuits google it! Its a interesting story...