Monday, 11 January 2010

Something to Warm You Up...!

Week 2

As I trudged through the slush and the snow of the past week, it became very apparent that most people [sensibly] choose to stay indoors when it's so cold. Personally, I like it when it's freezing cold so long as a) it's sunny and b) I have 20 layers of clothes on although I have started to be known as Tinky Winky on those occasions.

Susan's Thought for the Week
Staying in is the new going out in January.
Instead of spending £20 on an average meal in a restaurant, spend £10 on nicer ingredients for a great home cooked meal. You eat well and you just saved yourself [at least!] a tenner.

So it's new year and we're strapped for cash and it's cold so we're staying in.
And I thought I'd let you into a little secret...!

Food of the Week

La Chinata Smoked Paprika (Hot).

I love this stuff! A friend gave me a tin a long, long time ago and it gestated in the corner of my cupboard for an even longer time as I wondered what to do with it. And then I tried it one day and the world was transformed.

This smoked paprika gives a warm and smoky flavour to your dishes. It won't make you sweat (unless you add half the tin) but it does give a real zing to things that could otherwise be a bit dull.

It comes from Spain and this particular brand comes from an area west of Madrid called 'La Vera' which is known for its high quality red peppers. The paprika is made from ground red peppers which have been smoked over oak fires to dry them. Apparently there are sweet and bittersweet varieties too but I haven't tried them - let me know if you have!

Best Way to Serve

I use smoked paprika in anything that is slightly creamy, so it goes really well in creamy pasta sauces, stroganoffs or just plain chicken (or seasonal turkey) in a white sauce. Mix it with mayonnaise (try it with eggs), creme fraiche and serve it hot or cold with canap├ęs or main meals.

So do your roast chicken on a Sunday. Pull off what's left of the chicken meat and make it into a zingy chicken supreme on Monday (recipe below) and then boil up the chicken carcass to make stock for a chicken based soup on the Tuesday.

And if you really don't like cooking, then buy a ready meal and stir in a spoonful - you won't be disappointed!

Where can I buy it and what's it going to do to my bank balance?

Brindisa Shop by London Bridge, open Tuesdays to Saturdays:
Also in some Sainsburys
£2.75 for a 70g tin that will last you ages.

Restaurant of the Week

This week's choice is Mirch Masala with branches in Tooting (the best!), Norbury, Southall, Croydon, Ilford and Commercial Road
Curry always keeps you warm!

Oven baking rotis

Why is it good?
1) It's proper curry made by people who know how to make good curry for people who know what good curry tastes like.
2) It's cheap and friendly! (You're unlikely to pay more than £15 a head - bring your own alcohol)
3) You can see your food being prepared in the open kitchen and there's definitely no ready to use sauces in here

Try the Chilli Bhajia, the Lamb Tikka (or Lamb Cutlets) as starters. Karahi Ginger Chicken is packed full of ginger and the Karahi Kebab Egg curry is delicious. Also try Karahi Corn-on-the-Cob for something a bit different!

Mirch Masala on Urbanspoon


Zingy Chicken Supreme

Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan and add in half a small chopped onion. Fry on a low heat until the onion is translucent. Add in a dessertspoonful of flour and mix it all up to a lump free (apart from the onion) paste. Keep stirring as you add in half milk and half chicken stock, a bit at a time, until you have a smooth sauce that isn't really runny but isn't like treacle either.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in a teaspoon (or two - you'll have to keep tasting to see how you like it) of your special secret magic ingredient also known as smoked paprika. Add in the left over meat from the roast chicken that you've torn off the carcass and cook until it's heated through. You can add in some chopped mushrooms or leeks as well if you want to get to your 5 a day. Serve with rice.

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