Better than Takeaway Butter Chicken

I LOVE butter chicken. It is always my go-to order at Indian restaurants and a good butter chicken is up there with my favourite foods. Sadly, butter chicken doesn’t always love me. I’m allergic to capsicum and while Canberran restaurant butter chicken was capsicum-free, the Adelaide restaurants I’ve tried all seem to add it in ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  That meant that for 2 miserable years I had no butter chicken that didn’t result in terrible stomach pains.

Fortunately, Pinterest came to the rescue (as it often does), and after a few false starts, I found a recipe that produced butter chicken equal to or better than my favourite restaurant versions. The key ingredient is fenugreek leaves. They may be a little hard to find (I order mine online from herbies spices) but PLEASE do not judge this recipe without it – they are what set it apart from pre-made butter chicken sauces and give it its authentic flavour.

Because it is a little fiddly to make, we often double the recipe and make a huge batch that will make enough for several dinners and lunches. I actually think it tastes even better the next day once the flavours have had more time to integrate. We serve it with fluffy basmati rice and homemade rotis.

fullsizeoutput_17ac.jpeg

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1kg chicken thigh fillets, diced
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 brown onion, chopped
6 green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
50g cashews, soaked
60g butter + 1 tablespoon for cooking
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon tandoori paste
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 cup cream

fullsizeoutput_17ad.jpegMethod
Sauté cardamom pods in 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pan for 1 minute. Add onion, garlic and tomatoes with a pinch of salt and cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add cashews and ginger and continue to cook until tomatoes are pulpy.

Cool the mixture slightly, then blend in a blender until it resembles a loose, smooth puree.

Add 60g butter to the pan and then return the puree to the pan after straining it through a sieve and discarding the cardamom pod fragments. Add chilli flakes, fenugreek leaves and salt and cook for around 15 minutes on medium heat.

Add chicken, tandoori paste, garam masala and honey. After 15 minutes, adjust seasoning as necessary and let simmer for a further 25-30 minutes for the flavours to develop.

Add cream just before serving.

Serve with rice and/or rotis. Enjoy!

fullsizeoutput_17ae.jpeg

Recipe adapted from ‘Homemade Recipes.com.au’

 

Silky Chocolate Mousse

This is one of my favourite desserts because it takes so little effort and you can make it well ahead of time – the perfect set and forget dinner party dessert. I like a hint of Bailey’s Irish Cream in my mousse, but this can be omitted if you’re serving it to children or swapped for any other liqueur of your choice – creme de menthe for a choc-mint or Cointreau for a choc-orange mousse would both work well.

fullsizeoutput_17a5

Ingredients (serves 8)
300g good quality dark chocolate
50g butter
3 eggs, separated
1-2 tblspns Bailey’s Irish Cream (optional)
¼ cup caster sugar
300ml thickened cream

fullsizeoutput_17a0.jpeg

Method
Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over a low heat until smooth. Remove from heat.

Stir in egg yolks, one a a time, and Bailey’s liqueur. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until it dissolves between additions.

Beat cream until thoroughly whipped and thick. Gently combine with the chocolate mixture and then fold in the egg white mixture in two batches, taking care not to over-mix the mousse.

Divide mousse among eight ½-cup serving dishes (I use glasses). Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours).

Serve with fresh raspberries. Enjoy!

fullsizeoutput_179b.jpeg

Recipe adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Best Food Desserts.

Profiteroles with Vanilla Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Sauce

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there! Today I celebrated with one side of my family for a delicious brunch and then had dinner with the other side of the family, and I served these profiteroles for dessert.

Choux pastry has a nasty reputation as being very difficult to make, but Mum has been making this recipe for over 20 years and it has never failed for her. I was surprised by how easy it was to make and using this simple base recipe you can make profiteroles, eclairs or Paris-Brest. If you’re pressed for time you could easily swap the crème pâtissière for sweetened whipped cream, or for a different flavour, you could add a liquor such as Bailey’s Irish cream or Grand Marnier to the filling (although to me, nothing beats a homemade vanilla crème pat). The chocolate sauce could also be changed to berry, lemon, or caramel, or you could dip the profiteroles in toffee à la croquembouche. Basically, the options are endless!

thumb_IMG_3879_1024

Choux Pastry (makes ~35 profiteroles or 20 eclairs)
1 cup water
60g butter
120g plain flour, sifted
4 eggs
1 extra egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Crème Pâtissière
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
140g white sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
2 heaped dessertspoons flour
2 heaped dessertspoons cornflour
500ml milk
70g butter

Chocolate Sauce
300g dark chocolate melts
400ml pouring cream

thumb_IMG_3869_1024

Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper and add a 1cm nozzle to a piping bag. Preheat oven to 205°C.

In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to the boil. Lower the heat and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth, sticky mass. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 3 minutes.

FullSizeRender-1 2

Stirring with a wooden spoon, add eggs one at a time, ensuring your mixture is smooth and fully combined.

Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe mounds of pastry about 2cm in diameter, 2cm apart. Sprinkle lightly with water (the humidity helps the pastry rise) and then bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 150°C and cook for a further 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave to dry in the oven for approximately an hour.

IMG_6708
The odd misshapen profiterole is inevitable!

To make the crème pâtissière, mix together the eggs, yolks, sugar and flours. Bring the milk to the boil. Carefully pour it into the egg mixture, whisking well together. Add in the vanilla bean.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. After a time, the mixture will thicken quickly – make sure you keep stirring so the mixture on the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Beat in the butter a little at a time.

IMG_6706

Pour into a bowl, top with cling film and allow to cool.

Once profiteroles and crème pâtissière are fully cool, cut almost in half and fill with crème pâtissière.

Just before serving, make the chocolate sauce by combining the chocolate and cream in a medium saucepan and stirring on a low heat until melted and smooth. Add more cream or chocolate as required until desired consistency is reached.

Serve profiteroles drizzled with chocolate sauce and berries. Enjoy!

IMG_6710.JPG
Phew, 10 servings with 4 profiteroles each is quite exhausting!

thumb_IMG_3891_1024

thumb_IMG_3874_1024

Choux pastry recipe adapted from Gabriel Gaté’s ‘Sweet Treats’ (1995).
Crème pâtissière recipe adapted from Vogue’s ‘Grand Finales’ (1988).

Parmesan and Fennel Seed Biscuits

These crumbly, flavoursome biscuits are perfect for entertaining. Try them on a cheese platter or serve by themselves with a good red wine. Delicious!

thumb_IMG_3709_1024

Ingredients (makes ~35 medium stars)
120g parmesan cheese, roughly chopped
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
150g cold butter, chopped
2⅓ teaspoons fennel seeds, plus extra for decoration
1 tablespoon milk, plus extra for brushing

thumb_IMG_3695_1024

Blitz the parmesan in a food processor until finely grated. Add flour and cornflour and process until combined. With the motor running, add the butter and blitz until fine crumbs form. Add fennel seeds and milk and blitz until a dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 20 seconds. Cover dough in Gladwrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (~160°C fan-forced). Line 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Roll dough out with a rolling pin until approximately 5mm thick. Cut out medium stars (or other shape of your choosing) and place on prepared trays. Brush each biscuit with a small amount of milk and sprinkle with extra fennel seeds.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Enjoy!

thumb_IMG_3714_1024

thumb_IMG_3697_1024

Adapted from Donna Hay’s ‘Fennel and Parmesan Biscuits’.

Coffee & Walnut Torte

While the ingredients for this torte look a little odd (particularly the Jatz biscuits!) the end result is absolutely delicious – the torte is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside with a subtle coffee flavour. It’s a firm family favourite that always disappears far too quickly.

thumb_IMG_3532_1024

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
3 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 Jatz biscuits, crushed
⅔ cup walnuts

1 tablespoon icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee (dissolved in a small amount of water)
1 cup cream
Chocolate shavings (to decorate)
Walnuts (to decorate)

thumb_IMG_3524_1024

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Line a 9″ pie plate with baking paper.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar, vinegar and vanilla and beat until very stiff. Fold in Jatz biscuits and walnuts. Spread in prepared pie plate and smooth the top.

Bake for 35 minutes. Prop open the oven door and allow to cool in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Trim the baking paper so it can no longer be seen.

To make the coffee cream, add icing sugar, vanilla, coffee and cream to a medium bowl and bit until thickened and stiff.

Spread generously over the cooled torte and, if desired, decorate with chocolate shavings and extra walnuts. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!

thumb_IMG_3533_1024

Recipe from Kaye Potter.

Chocolate Berry Meringue Nests

These meringue nests are the perfect conclusion to a summer dinner party or BBQ. They are light, flavoursome and not too sweet when paired with fresh berries and whipped cream. I especially love that they look like you’ve gone to a lot of effort (when they’re really very simple to make) and they don’t heat up the house too much while baking!

thumb_IMG_1228_1024

Ingredients (makes 4)
3 egg whites
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
1 tablespoon dark dutch cocoa powder
300ml thickened cream, whipped
Fresh berries, to decorate (I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)

Method
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C (~100 degrees C fan-forced). Line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer or mixmaster until soft peaks form. Add caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until the sugar dissolves between each addition. Add in vanilla essence and cocoa powder.

Divide the meringue mixture into 4 roughly equal sized dollops on the baking tray, and spread into circles approximately 11cm in diameter.

Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until meringues are firm. Turn off the oven and let meringues cool for 5 minutes, before letting them cool completely with the door ajar.

Top meringues with whipped cream and berries. Enjoy!

thumb_IMG_1212_1024

thumb_IMG_1223_1024

Adapted from ‘Chocolate Berry Meringues’ in The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook ‘Best Food’, 2005 reprint.

Crispy Skinned Peking Duck Pancakes

I’ve wanted to start the savoury baking section of my blog for a while now, but unlike with sweet baking, my savoury baking is almost never planned (and consequently not photographed). Finally, after months & months of struggling to decide which recipe to put up as my first in the section, I decided on one of my all-time favourites: peking duck pancakes.

If I’m honest, they are a bit time-consuming to make, and duck breasts certainly aren’t cheap, but considering how much you can pay for these babies in a restaurant, it’s certainly worth your while having a go at home, and they’re absolutely delicious!

The recipe I have written here is enough for a main meal for 4, but feel free to halve it if it’s just for an entrée, or double it to make it serve more.

IMG_5108

Ingredients (makes approximately 40 small pancakes)
For the pancakes:
4 ½ cups plain flour
1½ -2 cups boiling water
Sesame oil

For the duck:
4 duck breasts
Salt

To serve:
1 large cucumber, cut into batons
The green tops of 2-3 spring onions, julienned
Coriander/cilantro
Hoisin sauce (aka the greatest thing ever)

Attachment-1-5

Method
To make the pancakes, place the flour in a large bowl and stir in the boiling water. Knead until the dough is smooth.

Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a clean,damp cloth and allow to stand for at least 30mins.

Knead again for about 5mins, then divide into approximately 40 balls.

Attachment-1-2

Dip one side of a ball into a little sesame oil. Press the oiled ball together with another (unoiled) dough ball, oiled side towards the centre, and roll out to form a 15cm circle. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

Fry the pancakes in a lightly oiled pan over a low heat, turn and lightly cook the other side. Both sides should be only very little browned (sort of like a mini tortilla).

image2-23Attachment-1-3

Carefully peel the pancakes apart (careful not to burn yourself!) and keep warm until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 200°C and 2 frypans to a medium-high heat. Prepare the duck by scoring the skin with a sharp knife and lightly salting it.

image2-27
I know I said 4… and this is 6. But I had 2 left over for another time

Place 2 breasts in each pan, skin-side down and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the skin is golden. Turn and cook for a further minute.

Attachment-1-4

Transfer the duck breasts onto a lightly oiled baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for a further 8-10 minutes.

While the duck is cooking, prepare your vegetables.

Once the duck is cooked, rest it for 5 minutes and then slice.

Attachment-1-6

To assemble the pancakes, put approximately a teaspoon of hoisin sauce onto the middle of the pancake, top with 2 slices of duck, some cucumber, spring onion & coriander and roll. Enjoy!

IMG_5108

Pancake recipe adapted from ‘The World’s Finest Food’ by Ann Creber, Elisabeth King & Phil Wymant

Rich Chocolate Tart

image2-10

This was the main component of the dessert I made for Mother’s Day (in addition to the raspberry sorbet) and it was a winner with everyone. It’s not difficult to make (but looks it) and is the perfect conclusion to any meal.

image1-11

Ingredients (serves 10)
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup thickened cream
300g dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quantity of sweet pastry

Method
Make the pastry. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (approx. 140-150°C  fan-forced, depending on your oven).

Beat egg yolks, eggs & caster sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Gently fold in cream, melted chocolate and vanilla.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case.

image1-8

Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set.

image2-7

Cool for 10 minutes. Serve dusted with sifted cocoa and raspberry sorbet (if desired). Enjoy!

image2-11

Recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly “Best Food: Desserts” cookbook (2004)

image1-14
Image Source: The Australian Women’s Weekly