Saturday, September 12, 2015

Recipe : Potato & Comte Savoury Tart / Pie

Tesco has a range called #TescoFinest in which they package some of the best food under their own brand name. I had a chance to #TryForLess, some of their cheese from the Tesco Finest Range and I decided to go for a Comte Cheese.

Comte is a French full fat hard cooked cheese made with unpasteurised cow's milk, traditionally made and matured in the Jura region. Since I had never tasted it before, I though this would be a wonderful opportunity.

But once it arrived home, I was stumped - "What should I cook with it?" Fortunately Tesco on Twitter came to the rescue and directed me towards a Potato and comté savoury tart recipe.

The recipe looked interesting enough, but I wanted to add more flavour and a bit of meat to it, so I made a few changes. The original recipe is vegetarian. I added some pancetta for flavour and meatiness, but this recipe can be made without it.

There's a bit of an eggwash used to seal the pastry, but there isn't much liquid in this recipe, so you can skip the egg if you want to turn it completely vegetarian or vegan.

Ingredients :
200g Tesco Lighter ready rolled shortcrust pastry (or make at home)
a little plain flour (maida), for dusting
1 egg yolk, beaten (I added the white while cooking the onions)
500g salad potatoes
100g pancetta
5 ml olive oil
5g butter
6 cloves garlic chopped
2 medium onions, finely sliced
75g Comte, grated
50g Chives or other fresh herb chopped

Line a 7 inch springform fluted tart tin with nonstick baking paper.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thickness and use it to line tart tin pressing in well all over.
Prick the base all over and chill.

Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender, usually 15-20 minutes.
Drain and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Heat a pan and fry the Pancetta in it until it begins to crisp up.
Remove the pancetta and keep aside, but leave the oil in the pan.
Melt the butter and olive oil in the same pan over a moderate heat and add the garlic.
When they begin to crisp/brown a bit, add the onions, sweating with a little salt until soft; 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat and let the onions slowly caramelise, stirring occasionally.
Quickly stir in the egg white from the separated egg.
Take the pan off the flame.
Mix in half the chopped chives/herbs

Remove the pastry from the fridge as the onions caramelise and line it with nonstick baking paper and baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes until the edges just start to colour.
Remove from the oven and discard the paper and baking beans.
Then return to the oven for 5 minutes to brown the base a little.
Remove from the oven and brush all over with the beaten egg yolk to create a seal.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Reduce the oven to 170°C.

Slice the potatoes into even sized discs.

Arrange the onion mixture across the base of the pastry, then arrange the potato discs in concentric, overlapping circles so that they cover the entire surface.

Sprinkle the comté cheese and remaining chives/herbs on top and season well with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes have browned a little and the cheese has melted.
Remove and allow to cool in the tin before serving.

Serve slices as is, for a snack or with a side salad for a complete balanced meal.

What I would do differently - When I added the grated cheese pre-baking (I used only about 50 gms) it looked like a lot, but once it melted down, the cheese flavour was very subtle.  I would use a lot more cheese when I try this recipe again. The cheese combines well with the potato.

Disclosure : I received the Comte Cheese through the Tesco Orchard program in exchange for a review

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eid Mubarak : Recipe : Murg Mussallam

Eid Mubarak to all my friends, especially my companions from mt Egypt & Dubai sojourns.

I've been terribly remiss about blogging, but there's been so much to see and do in London, that the only thing I seem to have the time for, when I turn on my laptop is to book tickets and pay bills. :)

I check facebook on my phone, when I'm one the move and one of the groups that I belong to - "Chef at Large" had many members posting wonderful photos and recipes of Ramadan specialties.

I was really missing my annual trips to the Ramadan Food Markets in India, whether Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai or Chandni Chowk in Delhi or Charminar in Hyderabad or Juhapura in Ahmedabad and the mouth watering delicacies on offer.

Then I came across a gorgeous picture by Imbesat of KhanPaan of a succulent Murg Mussallam. I have never eaten this dish before, but I think it was one of the first printed recipes I had seen as part of a food advertisement as a child. I forget which product it was for, but they would advertise in the Femina or Eve's Weekly or Readers Digest alternating 2 recipes. Murg Mussallam and another. This dish always intrigued me, but with all the processes involved and the slightly more expensive ingredients (dry fruits etc), I was subtly discouraged from trying this out by the adults at home.

The picture posted by Imbesat, made me sit up and decide to put in more effort at cooking than a stir fry, or quick grill and I decided to make it on Wednesday, when we had a few friends over for dinner. There's no fun cooking an entire chicken if there aren't enough people to share it with. Imbesat was hugely encouraging and on Wednesday morning, I got myself a whole chicken.

She was very clear about skinning the chicken before cooking and since I am in the UK and whole chickens come with the skin on, I had my first experience of skinning one. It wasn't too tough, I just used the kitchen scissors occasionally to negotiate the tricky bits near the joints.

I made a few adjustments to the original authentic recipe. I don't have access to Khuskhus in this country (poppy seeds and all of that) and I decided to roast it in the oven instead of pan frying and then pressure cooking it.

For the original recipe and Imbesat's gorgeous pictures take a look at the original on her blog - Khan Paan My friend Rhea of Euphorhea was so excited, she cooked it the next day itself.

I had to wait until the 15th, before I got around to cooking it. Make no mistake, this dish does involve a lot of time and effort and shouldn't be rushed. But believe me, the kitchen smells so good and the soft succulent meat is so good, that it is worth the effort.

My Edited Recipe:


For Marination
1 Chicken(whole, skinless, about 1kg)
1tbsp Curd
1tbsp Garlic paste
salt to taste

For the Stuffing
4 Eggs(boiled, fried)
A handful or 2 Mixed Nuts
1 Onion (sliced, fried crisp, crushed)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

For the Spice Paste
3 Onions (finely sliced, fried crisp)
2 Onions
1" Ginger
3 pods Garlic- 3 pods
4 cardamom
4 Clove
1" Cinnamon

For Cooking
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Pepper Powder
2 Bay leaves- 2
3-4 tsp ghee / Clarified Butter
100gms curd / greek yoghurt
2-3 tbsp oil- 2-3tblspns
salt to taste

Method :
For Marination
Wash & clean the skinned chicken. (I reserved the skin & used it while cooking for extra flavour and a bit of fat, just added it in the end, before the whole dish went into the oven)
Prick with a fork at regular intervals.
Mix the curd, salt and garlic paste and apply all over the chicken - inside & outside
Let it rest for at least 2 hours. (this is critical)

For the Stuffing
Take a large pan and fry the onions required for the stuffing and the spice paste (if you don't have fried onions kept aside - I always fry up large batches and put them in the fridge, so they are always on hand for topping biryanis or using in masalas)

Boil the eggs, cool and peel them.
The boiled eggs then need to be fried (no batter).
Deep frying is recommended, but I just fried them in the same pan.
Try and make sure the eggs are dry, before you start frying them, otherwise the oil will splatter all around your kitchen.
(I used 8 eggs, so there would be one for everyone at the table, those that didn't fit inside were arranged around the chicken)

In the same pan, fry the dry fruits.
Mix the dry fruits, fried onion, sugar, lemon juice & salt and crush lightly.

Stuff this mixture inside the chicken, with the fried eggs (as many as you can fit and seal the opening with an egg)

While Imbesat recommends frying and browning the chicken on all sides, after stuffing it, I fried my chicken in the same pan, before I stuffed it - made it easier for me to maneuver the chicken, without worrying about bits and pieces falling out.

For the Spice Paste
Roughly chop the onions and ginger, before blending them all into a smooth paste - you can use a mixi / food processor.

For Cooking
Heat the oil in the same pan.
Add the spice paste, Red chilli powder, black pepper powder, salt and bay leaves and saute the mixture until the oil begins to separate.

Lightly mix the curd until smooth and add to this spice mixture, stirring it for another 5 minutes.

For Roasting
Preheat the oven to 180C
Place the Fried/Browned chicken in a Roasting Dish.
Pour the Cooked Spice Mix over the chicken, making sure some of it gets underneath too.
Arrange all the extra eggs and skin (if using) around the chicken and make sure that they are also generously coated with the spice paste.

Imbesat added water before cooking the chicken in the pressure Cooker, I did not add any and came up with a slightly thicker gravy - more suitable for bread and rotis than rice.

Roast in the oven for whatever time is appropriate for the size of your bird. I had to roast mine for about an hour and a half.

Serve hot and slice at the table.

PS: I was in a hurry to serve and couldn't take very good pictures of the finished dish, but trust me, it was absolutely delicious.


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