Recipe: Cardamom Mangoes with Vanilla Ice Cream

And to follow the Cornflake Tilapia what more could you wish for than two of the most divine flavours on earth? Thanks George.

Paula from Pitt

  • 4 mangoes
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • vanilla ice cream ("Breyer's Homemade is one of the best, I think" says George, and I agree)
Peel and core mangoes. Cut into bite-size pieces.
Heat butter and sugar in large pan, stirring until sugar is melted. Stir in cardamom. Add mangoes to pan and toss to coat. Heat until fruit is warmed through and begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Serve with whipped cream and/or ice cream.
Serves 6.

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February 17, 2013 in Food and Drink, Puds | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: George's Cornflake Crusted Tilapia

So this is an apology - never start with an apology - but I must for George. Sorry it has taken me so long to do this......

George Casper is an up an coming chef. He will have a lengthy period of apprenticeship as he's just 12. But a great chap to talk food with. And going to chef school already. From George's chef school 2012 - looking forward to the offerings from 2013.

What is there not to love about cornflakes? Here is a main course to go with those little chocolate cornflake cakes all Brit kids learn to cook at school.

Paula from Pitt

  • 2 cups cornflake crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a shallow dish, combine the cornflake crumbs, dry mustard, coriander and paprika.
Season tilapia fillets with salt and pepper, then coat them thoroughly in the seasoned cornflake crumbs.
Heat in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tilapia and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
Serves 4.

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February 17, 2013 in Food and Drink, Mains | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: Pakoras -warning addictive!

These are absurdly easy to make and unfeasibly delicious so be warned, this is your last chance to turn back...

OK, you are basically going to make a batter but using gram (chickpea) flour. Grab a bowl and add about a cup of flour for four people as a starter or enough for two people having a pig out.

Season with salt, pepper, chilli powder to taste and a goodly amount of fresh chopped coriander. Now for the secret ingredient: bicarbonate of soda. A half teaspoon of this stuff will make your pakoras heavenly light and fluffy.

Mix the dry ingredients and add warm water slowly, mixing all the time until you have a slightly sloppy mixture similar to that you would use for pancakes.

Now add at most half a finely chopped onion or a similar amount of any other yummy you want to try such as mushrooms and give it a final mix.

Heat oil in a pan. It needs to be about a centimetre deep and a low sided pan like a frying pan will help you get the mixture in and out.

When the oil is nice and hot, slowly and carefully spoon about a desert spoon of mix in to the oil for each pakora. They'll fry quickly in a minute or so, turn over with a slotted spoon, remove and place on kitchen towel. Eat as soon as they are cool enough or just before if you can't wait. Serve with a dash of ketchup or chilli sauce.

Tip of the hat to Farah for this wonderful recipe.

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January 12, 2012 in Sides, Snacks | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: Paula the Brain's Pesto

We trade off not being able to over winter herbs like rosemary here in Squirrel Hill for an abundance of chilies, basil and tomatoes in the summer months. SO MUCH basil that pesto really is  an essential for any cook. PtB2 kindly lent me her food processor and recipe. Too easy. Stores for a week or so and you can prevent discolouring to some degree by covering with a layer of good olive oil. It's fine to eat even if slightly discoloured. Approximations are fine - trust your judgment.

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2/3 cup walnuts shelled (worked out by the ancient amount that covers  2/3 bottom of the processor bowl (7-8inches across)
  • 4 packed cups basil leaves off stalks (a cup is 8fl oz so Brits use a measuring jug)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (2fl oz = 60ml)

Whizz garlic and walnuts, then add leaves and olive oil.

Cheese - stores best (and maybe freezes) without cheese. We eat this without the cheese just because it is so good - in fact we forgot the first time. But I favour grating fresh parmesan or pecorino over whatever dish you use the pesto on rather than mixing it in.

Here's to PtB2!

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December 24, 2011 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: Yummy Japanese Chicken

Delicious chicken to be served on a bed of rice and chopped spring onions. Recipe from Ruki
Chicken thighs x 4~6, skin on, bones off
4 tbsp 'white' soy paste. *actual colour is dark sable rather than white
Half cup of light soy sauce
1 tbsp shochu or sake
3 tbsp Mirin or 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce
Crushed garlic/ginger, as much as you like
dunk the chicken in the mixture overnight and cook them in a medium oven for about 20 minutes laid out flat: the sauce
burns easily!

Keep the lovely sauce and pour over the rice you serve in a bowl under the chicken.

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December 22, 2011 in Mains | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: July 4th Cookies

So they have a big celebration here on July 4th... I think it's in preparation for my birthday which is very sweet of a whole nation. And much disdain was cast my way because I didn't have anything red, white or blue to wear on the holiday run. Seriously. So I thought I'd better make up for it. As chance would have it - I had 6 egg yolks to deal with after making meringue for Squirrel Nut Mess - another special recipe for summers here. A quick google of "egg yolk cookies" (what else??) led me to this great place (thank you to Cindy Lynn):

So could I do something red, white and blue to salvage my place with the East End Runners? Well the judgment will be written up in their blog but I think I am safe for a while....

Paula from Pitt

USA cups in red

  • 6 egg yolks or 3 whole eggs
  • 225g butter 1 cup = 2 sticks
  • 300g sugar 1 1/2 cups (I used organic raw stuff)
  • 350g plain flour 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn pure vanilla essence
  • 100g 1/2 - 2/3 cup good quality white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 100g dried fruit 1/2 - 2/3 cup (50g unsweetened blueberries + 50g Bing cherries)
  • 2-3 tbspn brandy

The realtively sharp fruit offsets the sweetness of the white chocolate and sugariness that many cookies have. Put dried fruit in a small heavy based pan with a lid and add just enough brandy to come 1/2 way up fruit. Bring to boil and take off heat. Leave lid on for 30-60mins. Just to get brandy into fruit and plump fruit up. You could do the same with water.

Heat oven to Gas mark 4, 180C, 350F. You will probably need two baking sheets (cookie sheets) lined with bakinng parchment or well greased.

Cream butter and sugar in a bowl until as light and fluffy as your machine or tired arm can get.

Beat egg yolks and vanilla essense in a small bowl. Add to butter/sugar and blend well.

Mix baking powder and flour in yet another bowl.

Gradually add flour mix to wet ingredients.

Add choc chips, dried fruit. At this point my kitchen was in the low 30Cs (80Fs) ie very warm! I picked the wrong day to make meringue, cookies and then pecan praline.... So cookie mix was quite easy to work. You could chill the mix if it seems too soft at this point.

Make into balls about the size of a walnut and place on baking sheet. Flatten with a fork but not too much (slide the fork off to one side, gently holding the cookie to get stripes).

Bake for 10-14 minutes - very approximate. I was trying to get a little colo(u)r but you don't want to over cook or you will lose the chewiness in the centre. Take out of over and place tin on cooling rack.

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July 4, 2011 in Food and Drink, Puds, Snacks | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: Onion yipy tarts

The cookery muse can often be found deep in the depths of the freezer or top shelf of the larder. Working back from a box of large vol au vent type pastry cases bought by mistake for pastry sheets and a single large videlia onion came these. The spice mix came from something I read about cloves in an onion tart (sorry no idea where), ground mace which I never use but Iain got for his Christmas cake production (yes he has discovered a talent!) and things that were almost empty. You could go to town varying this mix.

Paula from Pitt

  • 1 large videlia (or any really) onion - diced
  • 1tspn cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tspn each of ground mace, charnoushka (black nigella seeds), Spanish smoked paprika, sweet curry powder
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil mixed with a little vegetable oil to raise the cooking temperature
  • Some cheese! 3-4oz I used Lancashire thinly sliced but grated would be fine
  • 1 pack frozen pastry shells

In a medium pan with the heaviest base you have, warm the oil and fry off the spices gently until they start to give off a fragrance. Add the onion, put the lid on the pan and slow cook the onions on a very low heat for 30-45 minutes. You are trying to soften and sweeten the onion but not burn it. The depth of colour is up to you. Stir every 10-15 minutes. This time is flexible. When cooked just turn off heat and leave to cool or in pan to keep warm.

Meanwhile - or the next day if you are prepping for a party - cook the pastry shells according to the packet instructions. You could make the onion mix in advance and just keep in the fridge for a day or so.

To serve just take the lids off the shells, spoon some onion mix, layer with cheese and more onion mix. Put pastry lid on. Serve as is, or warm through.

Yipy is from the noises I made whilst removing the pastry shell lids. You'd think I'd learn - hot is hot.

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June 5, 2011 in Food and Drink, Snacks, Vegetarian | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: Rosemary Loaf Cake

Rosemary.... cake???? Garlic.... bread?????

I love rosemary in anything but had never tried a cake. I've looked at this recipe of Nigella Lawson's for years (How to be a domestic goddess). So combined with needing to make a good cake for the foodies of the East End Runners for Anne Jane's birthday today (hooray!!!) and the fact that I struggle to over-winter my beautiful rosemary plants here in the frozen land of Squirrels. We gave this a go. And it is worth it. My attempt to translate into USA cups in red.

Paula from Pitt

  • 250 g soft unsalted butter 2 sticks+2 tbsp
  • 200 g golden caster sugar 1 cup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 210 g 11/2 cups self raising flour + 90 g  1/2 cup+1 tbsp plain flour (I used 300 g 2 cups+1 tbsp plain flour + 21/2 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 cm 3-4 in sprig rosemary take leaves off, chop small (not fine)
  • 4 tbsp milk (I used 6 tbsp)
  • 1-2 tbsp caster sugar (or rosemary sugar)
  • 2lb loaf tin buttered and lined

Preheat oven to 170C, Gas 3, 325F.

Cream soft butter and sugar until pale & fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, folding in a spoonful of flour after each egg. Add the vanilla.

Fold in the rest of the flour, then the rosemary. Thin the batter with the milk to "soft, dropping consistency" - I confess this wasn't too clear to me so I added a drop more milk until the "batter" could be poured albeit with a prod.

Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle the top with sugar and bake for about an hour. Cool cake in the tin on a wire rack. Can be wrapped and stored for a couple of days.

Serves 8-10.

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January 9, 2011 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: Broccoli and Cheese Pie

Not 100% sure where this comes from but it is an amazing, vegetarian-friendly dish and pretty easy and forgiving.

Photo  Serves 6


  • 2 good sized leeks
  • 150ml of soured cream
  • packet of blue cheese (I like dolcelatta but you can substitute, even for mozzarella if you don't like blue cheese at all)
  • broccoli (one whole one should do)
  • packet of puff pastry for the lid of the pie or make it yourself

Softly fry the chopped up leeks in oil and/or butter, season with salt and pepper. When soft add the cream and cook gently for a few more minutes. Place the cooked leeks in a baking tray so the bottom is covered.

Now add broccoli florets either raw or boil for a couple of minutes maximum before placing them on top of the leeks. In between the florets, put chunks of cheese. Cover the whole dish with the rolled out puff pastry and place in a pre-heated oven at 200c (180 if fan assisted) 0r Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes until golden brown.

That's it. Easy, impressive and delicious.

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April 25, 2010 in Vegetarian | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Recipe: Fish Catalan

In 1981 one of my sibs gave me the first cookbook I got as an adult cook:

The St Michael All Colour


By Jeni Wright. When M&S still called things "St Michael" - remember? Sorry for my foster countrywomen (and men) but you really have no M&S equivalent. Run forwards almost 30 years and I'm having a soiree and thinking fish but not shellfish in deference to my friends' Kosher diet. And I remember this fish stew that used to be a staple of mine back in the '80s and even '90s. But I reckon I've not cooked it for 10+years - woe what missed years!

So here is a jolly fine fish stew that is embarrassingly easy to cook - shhh... I served it with the Moro Saffron Rice but mash would be nice or plain rice or those grains from Trader Joe's.

Paula from Pitt

  • 6 tbsp olive oil

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 4 slices filleted halibut (roughly 150g/6oz each) this time I used 1-1.5lbs (orange roughy+monk fish) really any white fish works

  • 1 small onion, peeled (yes they did instruct us to do that in 1981) and finely chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • tbsp flour

  • 250g (1/2lb) fresh tomatoes skinned, seeded & peeled (I don't bother to skin or peel, just chop finely)

  • 1tbsp tomato puree

  • 300ml (1/2 UK pint ie 10fl oz) good, dry white wine

Serves 4.

Mix together 4tbsp oil and lemon juice and place in a water-tight bag (eg those zippy bags) big enough to hold the fish plus a little juice. This is my tip for how to marinate anything. Add salt & ground black pepper. Leave to marinate for 1-2  hours - wobbling it around everyone and then by massaging the contents. This is the "basting" part kept clean and easy.

Heat remaining oil in deep flameproof casserole. Add onion and garlic and fry gently on a low heat for 15minutes or so until soft and golden. I put the lid on.

Add flour, tomatoes, tomato puree, and white wine. Stir constantly and bring to the boil slowly. Sauce should be thick but still stirable.

Heat oven (Gas 4, 150C, 350F)

Add fish and juice from bag. I cut fish into chunks at this point (roughly 1.5-2 inch cubes). Cover gently with sauce. Put on lid. Place in oven. Cook for 20-30 mins until fish flakes ie pulls apart with two forks. Please don't over cook fish - that's the biggest problem with fish cookery.

Remove from oven, top with chopped hazelnuts and parsley. Serve.

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April 4, 2010 in Mains | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)