Square Food Cookery School – The Spice Trail; 3 recipes inside.

May 10, 2012

One of our wedding gifts from our friends was some cookery school vouchers with The Square Food Foundation, we didn’t get around to starting to use them until now.

I booked us onto the Spice Trail evening for a date night…

The kitchen is a big light space with enough cookery stations for people to pair up.

We sat with the chefs first while they talked a little about chillies and spices. Here are some points they raised… most of you will know these but I thought I would include them anyway.

Chillies;

  • The general rule of thumb is that the smaller the chilli the more potent it is; the heat is concentrated in the seeds and the veins of the chilli (simply because they are smaller)
  • Remove seeds from chillies to make them milder for cooking or leave them in to gain full effect
  • Take care when preparing chilli to avoid touching the eyes and sensitive skin; wash hands, boards and knives thoroughly after preparing chillies – wash with soap before adding water, as chillies are oily this will remove the heat.
  • Chilli powder dried chillies are used sparingly and should be added at the beginning of cooking; they will keep for 12 months in a cool, dark place
  • Cooking does not really diminish the intensity of chillies but their strength can be mitigated with cream or yoghurt

And spice;

  • Spices like cinnamon, cardamom, mustard seed, coriander, cumin, tumeric & fenugreek should be added at the early stages of cooking to release flavour
  • Salt is vital for carrying flavour and should be added at the beginning of the cooking process; check the seasoning at the end of the cooking and adjust

We made 2 dishes and ate 3, 1 Thai influenced, one Indian influenced and a dessert.

First we started our main;

A quick chicken curry with yogurt and spices

This is a really tasty alternative to the greasy take away you might have eaten if you’d had slightly less energy. I like to serve it with a little yoghurt and naan bread for an inexpensive, warming meal.

Serves 4-5

For the curry base
¾in ginger, peeled
6 fat garlic cloves, peeled
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
1½ tbsp ground coriander
1¼ tsp garam masala
¼-½ tsp red chilli powder, or more if you like it hot
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
3 good tbsp of full-fat Greek yoghurt
Salt to taste

For the curry

750g chicken thighs, skinned
7 baby potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 handfuls of baby spinach
Handful of finely chopped coriander leaves and stems

 For the base, make a paste of the ginger, garlic and tomatoes. I use a hand blender, but you can chop the tomatoes and finely grate the ginger and garlic – the sauce will not be as smooth though. Stir in the spices, salt and yoghurt. Add the chicken and potatoes and leave to marinate in the fridge for 10mins. Heat the oil and butter/ghee in a medium non-stick saucepan. Add the onion and cook over a moderate flame, stirring often, until the onion is well browned on the edges, around 7-8 minutes.

Add the chicken, potatoes and curry base and cook over a moderate-high heat, tossing the chicken in the paste quite often until small oil droplets start to form on the base or edges of the pan; this takes around 10-12 minutes. If it still isn’t cooked, you can add a splash of water and cook for another 5 minutes or until the water has reduced.

Add enough water to come halfway up the chicken and bring to the boil. Cover and cook on a low flame until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through, around 12-15 minutes more (depending on the size of the joints and potatoes).

Add the spinach and, once wilted, taste and adjust the seasoning. There should be enough of the sauce for a creamy gravy; if not, add a little more water from the kettle. If you add too much, reduce over a high heat.
Stir in the coriander and serve.

For the vegetarian alternative – replace the chicken with one small cauliflower, leaves removed and broken into florets. Treat in exactly the same way as the chicken.

Pilaff Rice

 25g 1oz butter or ghee
2tbsp onion or shallot, finely chopped
400g 14oz long grain rice, preferably basmati
Scant 1 litre chicken stock
2tbsp herbs (parsley, thyme, chives), freshly chopped, optional
Salt and pepper

Melt butte or ghee in a casserole, add onion and sweat for 2-3min. Add rice and toss for 1-2min, just long enough for the grains to change colour. Season with salt and pepper, add stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a minimum and then simmer on top of the stove or in the oven (170°C/325°F/gas 3) for about 10min. By then the rice should just be cooked – about 10min. By then the rice should be just cooked and all the liquid absorbed. Just before serving, stir in the fresh herbs if using

This is so worth the extra effort so go for it people, best rice ever.

Sea bass or grey mullet en papillote

Serves 4

4 x 160g fillets of sea bass or grey mullet, cleaned, scaled and trimmed
Olive oil
2 red chillies, deseeded and cut into thin strips
1 stalk lemongrass, outside leaves removed, discarded and very finely slice
400g can coconut milk
1-2tbsp fish sauce
Juice and zest of 1 lime
4 lime leaves, very finely sliced

( I would also add some sugar, Thai food is supposed to hit the 4 different tastes (salt, sour, sweet and bitter) and this didn’t really. Not my favourite dish)

Preheat oven to 220C (425F) gas 7.

Season fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Brush four 12in (30cm) squares of foil with a little olive oil and put a fish diagonally across the centre of each piece. Bring sides of the foil up around the fish and crimp together tightly at each end leaving the top open.

In a bowl mix the coconut milk with the lemongrass and chilli, lime zest, juice and lime leaves. Spoon the mixture over the four fish.

Finally, pour a teaspoon of fish sauce into each parcel then seal well. Put on a large baking sheet and bake for 10min.

To serve, put the unopened parcels of fish on four warmed plates and allow each person to open up their parcel. Serve with coconut rice.

The curry was great though and this really is a good easy recipe that most people will like as you can tailor it to anyone’s heat tolerance and likes and dislikes.

My husband has already made this again.

Like I said I wasn’t hugely into this dish but I think a few tweaks and it could be good.

The dish we didn’t get to make (due to time) was the dessert but the lovely Square Food people passed on the recipe so I hope to make this soon.

Rich Chilli Chocolate Tart

For the Sweet Pastry 
 
250g flour
85g icing sugar
125 butter
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways and seeds scraped out
1 small egg beaten

First make the sweet pastry. Sift flour and icing sugar until completely combined. Rub butter into the flour until nearly breadcrumb consistency. Make a well in the flour and add vanilla and egg yolks. Knead mixture with fingers. Refrigerate for a minimum 20 minutes

Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible and line a tart case with it. Bake blind for 15 – 20 minutes at 190°C then for a further 5 minutes with the baking beans removed, until the pastry is completely cooked.

For the Filling

700ml cream
pinch chilli flakes
350g 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate
5 eggs
2 yolks
1 tsp cocoa powder
150g sugar

To make the tart filling, bring the cream to boiling point with the chilli flakes then remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring to combine until the mixture has a smooth, glossy consistency. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, yolks and cocoa and then stir into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the sweet pastry case and bake at 150°C – 160°C for 15 minutes until the tart is just set. Remove and cool for 30 minutes before eating. Serve with crème fraiche.

 We still have more vouchers to spend and I am looking forward to picking our next course. This one was a great way to spend an evening but as we both cook with chilli and spice a lot at home we didn’t really learn much. So next time instead of sticking to what we know and like I might pick something geared towards something we don’t cook.

Check out the Square Food Foundation – they are doing really great things.

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