Friday 24 February 2017

Channa Aloo - Oooh yum! (V)

We like curries, so when I spotted a recipe on a blog for Channa Aloo, a Caribbean curry from Trinidad that I'd not tried before, it proved very tempting. It also looked simple to make, with store cupboard ingredients, and the photo looked so tasty.  Last night, whilst hubby was working and son was sleeping I set to and tried it out... this was the result. A seriously tasty and very filling vegetarian curry.

I have to admit to making a couple of changes to the recipe, mainly to use up some veggies in the fridge, but also to add a wee bit more flavour at the end.  The recipe blog's author (at RecipeTinEats) said she had found the recipe on another site: Immaculate Bites, an African-Caribbean food blog and had herself made a few changes, so this is a double-tweaked version!

Regardless of that, it is still jolly good! So why not give it a try?


3 tbsp cooking oil (I used olive oil for everything) into the cooking pan to start with


1 large onion, diced (brown, white, yellow)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp curry powder (I used tikka masala curry powder but you can use any you prefer)
1 tsp allspice powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
1½ tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp cumin powder
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper


3 medium potatoes, cut into 1.2cm / ½" cubes
2  cans of chickpeas, drained
1  can chopped tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock (I made mine with one green OXO and 1 vegetable stockcube in 2 cups boiling water)
1 leek, finely sliced (green & white parts)
3 mini sweetcorns, sliced thinly
1 dsp mango chutney
2 tbsp fresh flat parsley, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
Salt to taste


Heat the oil in a large pan or very deep skillet over medium high heat.

Add the Base ingredients and cook for 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Add the potatoes and cook for a further 3 minutes. If the spices start to stick to the bottom of the pot, add a splash of water.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, leek, sweetcorn and vegetable stock. Bring to simmer then turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened. The potatoes should still look firm but be soft on the inside.

Add the mango chutney and stir in to mix well.

Adjust salt to taste, add parsley and mix through the rest.

Serve with rice.


This made enough for 4-5 people as a main course, but if you serve it as one of a number of dishes at (e.g.) a curry night then it would easily serve 8-10.


If you prefer a less spicy curry then reduce the amount of curry powder you use.
Channa = chickpea
Aloo = potato


Tuesday 21 February 2017

Morning and evening milk Morbier (Adventures in Cheese)

We popped into Booth's supermarket at Carnforth one Monday evening, and found a huge hunk of Morbier cheese on offer, so it came home with us. Morbier is a cheese we've not tried before, and as cheese lovers we had to put that right!

Hubbie doesn't do cheese at all (his usual comment on finding pungent cheese in the fridge is, "Something's died in the fridge!"), son decided he didn't fancy the Morbier - he prefers English cheeses on the whole, which meant that I have to eat it all... how sad is that?!

A bit more about this lovely cheese, from Wikipedia...
"Morbier is a semi-soft cows' milk cheese of France named after the small village of Morbier in Franche-Comté. It is ivory colored, soft and slightly elastic, and is immediately recognizable by the thin black layer separating it horizontally in the middle. It has a rind that is yellowish, moist, and leathery.

Traditionally, the cheese consists of a layer of morning milk and a layer of evening milk. When making Comté (cheese), cheesemakers would end the day with leftover curd that was not enough for an entire cheese. Thus, they would press the remaining evening curd into a mold, and spread ash over it to protect it overnight. The following morning, the cheese would be topped up with morning milk. Nowadays, the cheese is usually made from a single milking with the traditional ash line replaced by vegetable dye.

"The Jura and Doubs versions both benefit from an appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), though other non-AOC Morbier exist on the market.

"The aroma of Morbier is strong, but the flavour is rich and creamy, with a slightly bitter aftertaste."

Pinch the cow's udder again... (Adventures in Cheese)

Now you'll be wondering what the title is all about!  It is the literal translation of the word reblocher, which gives its name to today's cheese adventure Reblochon.  Most of my cheese adventures will cover cheeses that are new to me but this one isn't, as I have met the mighty Reblochon before courtesy of my cousin's ex-wife who is French. On a visit to see them Cathy made a wonderfully tasty French dish called Tartiflette and I was so enamoured with it she brought another for me when they came to visit us.

Reblochon was the first cheese of the Savoie - that mountainous Alpine region - to be granted the Appellation d'origine contrôlée certification back in 1958. It is a soft washed-rind and smear-ripened cheese traditionally made from raw cow's milk. The cow breeds best for producing the milk needed for this cheese are the Abondance, Tarentaise and the Montbéliarde.

Reblochon derives from the word "reblocher" which when literally translated means "to pinch a cow's udder again". This refers to the practice of holding back some of the milk from the first milking. During the 14th century, the landowners would tax the mountain farmers according to the amount of milk their herds produced. The farmers would therefore not fully milk the cows until after the landowner had measured the yield. The milk that remains is much richer, and was traditionally used by the dairymaids to make their own cheese.

This cheese measures 14 cm (5.5") across and 3–4 cm (1.2"–1.6") thick, has a soft centre with a washed rind and weighs an average of 450 grams (16 oz). As proof of its being well-aged in an airy cellar, the rind of this cheese is covered with a fine white mould.

It is a strong flavoured cheese with an equally pungent aroma, and it does leave a pleasant after-taste in the mouth after eating it. It is a slightly sticky soft cheese, rather like a ripe Brie in texture but not in flavour.

So other than eating it as is (which is delicious), how about having a go at making Tartiflette, which Cathy told me is a French peasant-style dish, but don't let that put you off! It's simple to make with easily found ingredients, but it tastes superb. 

To make Tartiflette you will need:

1 Reblochon cheese
1kg of firm-fleshed potatoes
200g smoked bacon or lardons
2 large onions (about 200g)
10cl of white wine (a small glass)
Ground Pepper
Optional: grated nutmeg

How to make it: 

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces.
Cut the onions into slices.
In a frying pan, cook the bacon or lardons for 3 minutes with the onions so that they begin to brown.
Add the potatoes and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200 ° C - Thermostat 6-7.
Deglaze with white wine and cook for 5 minutes.
Add a twist or two of Ground Pepper (no salting with the bacon), and add the nutmeg according to your taste.
Cut your Reblochon in half to make two wheel shapes, keeping the rind. Keep one side to put on the top of the dish to make the topping (gratin) and cut the other side into small pieces to be mixed into the potatoes - bacon - onions. 
In a baking dish, arrange the potatoes-bacon-onions mixture and pieces of Reblochon and then put on the top the half Reblochon to gratinate, rind upwards.
Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes so that the Reblochon becomes golden.
Serve warm with a green salad.

Click the image above to find the Hairy Bikers' tartiflette recipe on the BBC Food Recipes website.