Category Archives: CarolCooks2

Fruity Friday…The humble Fig

The Fig…You can get it dried almost anywhere in the world and fresh and luscious from September through to autumn.

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There is nought like the taste of fresh figs and dried they are different but sweet, with a chewy flesh and crunchy edible seeds.

Figs start off as an enclosed inverted flower. The shape of their flower inhibits them from relying on bees or wind to spread their pollen in the same way other flowers can. Instead, figs must rely on the help of pollinator wasps to reproduce.

Nearing the end of her life, a female wasp will crawl through the tiny opening of the inverted fig flower to lay her eggs. She will break off her antennas and wings in the process, dying shortly afterwards.

The wasp’s body is then digested by an enzyme within the fig, while her eggs prepare to hatch. Once they do, male larvae mate with female larvae, which then crawl out of the fig, with pollen attached to their bodies, to continue both species lifecycle.

This is where some controversy creeps in...Some followers of veganism profess that as figs are a product of a wasps death then this fruit should not be considered vegan…however common sense prevails in most case and it is seen as a symbiotic relationship which allows both species to survive.

Figs are sweet with a chewy flesh, smooth skin and crunchy edible seeds. They are also one of the only fruits to ripen on the tree.

Did you know? Fig puree can replace fat/sugar in baked goods? Well neither did I until fairly recently a fig puree can be used as a sugar and fat substitution.

Just combine 8 ounces of fresh figs and 1/4 -1/3 cup of water in a blender; puree until smooth. If using dried figs, soak figs in water until softened before pureeing. Use as you would applesauce in baked recipes, as a substitution for both fat and sugar. Replace up to half the fat in a recipe with fig puree, and reduce or eliminate the sugar required.

Or use the puree as a spread over toast and fruits; or thin it out with more water and use as a liquid sweetener for coffee, drinks and in place of honey or maple syrup in your recipes.

The fig is also a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It has Vitamin A, B1, and B2…. 3 figs have  5 gm of fibre..so if you are not careful you could if you eat too many figs end up with the “back door trots”. This is an old English saying just in case you were wondering.

In the Indian sub-continent, it is made into a soothing, calming salve which if applied by a topical application it can provide relief to Venereal Disease.  Although more research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness.

The Spaniards introduced figs to California in the early 16th century. The priests who lived in San Diego at the “Mission” originally planted the figs and the dark purple figs became known as Mission figs.

Native to the Middle East and western Asia the fig tree Ficus Carica is also a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness cultivated since ancient times it is mentioned many times in the bible and probably why many also believe that it was not apples in the garden of Eden but figs which tempted Adam and Eve. Now that is a thought.

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Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1982 introduction of Fig Newtons cookies…I just love fig bars.

Did you know that eating one-half a cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking a half a cup of milk?

Figs also go wonderfully with blue cheese and wrapped in parma ham they are to die for. Just saying…

The Fig like lots of herbs, fruits and vegetables we eat have amazing healing properties and I think we should look at what we have growing naturally in our beautiful world instead of buying all these ready-made processed foods which are not even convenient most of the time and full of nasties…

Here endeth the sermon…

This fig sauce is lovely over duck breasts or chicken.

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Fig Sauce

  • 12  dried black figs with the stems trimmed off.
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh chicken stock
  • 2 sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1 sprig rosemary although I will admit to adding a bit more…
  • Salt and pepper to Taste
  • Fresh Figs (optional)

In a small saucepan cook the black figs in the chicken stock for about 10 minutes until soft, remove from the stock and chop finely and return to the stock. Set to one side.

In a small pan melt the butter and add the finely chopped garlic and mushrooms cook for 30 secs don’t allow to burn as garlic it catches quite quickly. Add the brandy and simmer for 1 minute. Add rosemary sprig and fig stock and fresh figs (if using) simmer for 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Just serve over your sliced duck breasts it is a lovely rich sauce and nice for that special occasion.

If fresh figs are in season then they are lovely served with the duck breast…

Enjoy!

Figs are not native to Thailand which is why very rarely I only see ones that are imported and very expensive however it is also said that they can adapt to the Thai climate which means maybe I can plant my own fig tree if I can find one…The search is on xxx

I hope you are enjoying Fruity Fridays don’t forget if you have a fruit you would like me to feature please send me a picture…

Until next time be well and stay safe…

About Carol Taylor: 

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a fabulous weekend and stay safe these are troubling times xx

 

Fruity Fridays! The Pineapple…

 

 

Good morning and welcome to Fruity Fridays and the delicious Pineapple…

I hope you enjoy the recipes and chit-chat that I will be bringing to you on a Friday. Pineapple is a fruit which is available in one form or another all over the world.

It grows here quite freely and is available everywhere and as crisps, smoothies, in curries, ice cream the pineapple is a very versatile fruit and it always looks very pretty when the outside is kept and used to put your Pina colada in or your pineapple fried rice.

The pineapple is packed with vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants it is also used in smoothies and cocktails and there is nothing better than sitting on the beach with a lovely Pina colada watching the sunset…

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I know you are all now probably thinking that it is alright for some while you are dealing with the cold and rain but we have rain to it is just interspersed with hot sunny spells…Soz…but it also makes a beautiful curry it pairs with duck really well and is one of my favourites.

Tip:   It is also a great meat tenderizer.

Red Duck Curry ( Kaeng Ped Pett Yang)

I had the pleasure of eating a  Duck curry for the first time on a little island just off Phuket, Thailand it is a fiery curry offset by pineapple and tomatoes. Some add lychee as well as pineapple but we found it a little sweet for us but experiment, everyone’s taste is different….I also add some vegetables, mange tout or sugar snap peas may be a few florets of brocolli..really whatever I have in the fridge.

Duck Curry

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck Breasts.
  • 400 ml of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 10 cherry tomatoes.
  • 6-10 mange tout..or other vegetables of your choice.
  • 100 gm Thai eggplant cut into quarters.
  • Pea egg plants

    Tiny pea eggplants used in Thai Curries

  • 100 gm pea eggplants.
  • If you can’t get these any small eggplant will be ok I sometimes use small purple ones if I can’t get the green.
  • 1-2 tbsp red curry paste.
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves torn
  • Bunch Thai basil washed and leaves picked…
  • 2 tsp lime juice.

Lets’s Cook!

Firstly cook your duck breasts, we like ours medium-rare.

Put the duck skin side down in a cold pan, turn the heat to medium and cook the duck breasts for 6-8 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy, turn the breasts over and just sear the other side for 1 minute. Turn over so they are breast side up and put in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing the breasts thinly.

To make sauce put a very tiny drop of oil in the pan over medium heat add your curry paste and stir to cook for 1 min, add fish sauce. Gradually add coconut milk whilst still stirring.

Bring to a slow boil and add torn lime leaves and eggplants cook for 5/6 mins and add tomatoes and pineapple, cook for a further 10 minutes then add the mange tout and stir in some Thai basil leaves and lime juice.

Now taste and adjust curry paste if you want more heat. If any other seasonings need to be adjusted you can also do that now. Thai flavours are very pronounced and if you get it balanced ..very nice if not…I have had some disasters and I don’t mind admitting that…which is why I always say TASTE and Taste again.

The very first duck curry I made was ok…so we left out the lychee next time and it was much better…also, I know which curry paste to now use as they are all so different….Please don’t let this put you off making it as when you get it right it is a lovely thing. Thai curry pastes are now available around the world not only in Asian stores but many high street stores now stock them… Brands like Mae Ploy are very good…

N.B, I am thinking of selling authentic Thai brands if food and cooking pots on this blog what do you think? Would you buy them? (Of course when the post is back to normal) Covid-19 has affected all areas of our lives…

When you are ready to serve then add sliced duck to the sauce and just warm through and serve with some Thai basil over the top and a sliced red chilli if you like.

Serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

I also love pineapple in an upside-down pudding my mum used to make it… She just used to make a normal cake mix and put pineapple in the bottom of a heatproof dish and put the cake mixture on top. Bake it and then serve it with custard…It is one of those childhood memories… Mine …well I had to tweak it somewhat but I am sure you didn’t expect any different from me…Did you??

Pineapple and ginger upside-down cake.

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Ingredients:

  • 25 g (1 oz) sultanas
  • 100 g (4 oz) castor sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 175 g (6 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon Powder
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 115 g (4 1/2 oz) butter
  • 227 g (8 oz) tin pineapple rings, drained or fresh pineapple cut into rings.
  • maraschino cherries( optional)

Let’s Cook!

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.

Grease and baseline a 20.5cm (8″) round /square cake tin. Heat the golden syrup and 1 tsp grated Ginger with 15 gm (½oz) butter until melted.

Meanwhile, arrange the pineapple in the base of the tin, sprinkle over the sultanas and pour over the syrup mixture.

If you are using cherries then just pop them in the middle of the pineapple…they look so pretty…

Whisk the remaining butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs. Mix the flour with the Cinnamon and remaining Ginger and fold into the cake mixture. Spread on top of the pineapple.

Bake for 45 minutes until firm to touch. Allow the cake to cool slightly before turning out.

Serve with custard and enjoy!

Well, I can’t go without just mentioning that I pickle almost everything and pineapple is no exception…It is actually very nice…pickled with jala[eno peppers they are perfect with cheese…

Pickled Pineapple.

Ingredients:

  • 300 gm of fresh pineapple cut into smallish chunks
  • A handful of shallots finely sliced
  • 1 pickled jalapeno sliced
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar
  • The juice of 2 fresh limes
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • A handful of chopped coriander
  • 3 sterilised jars with lids.

Heat the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, limes and Jalapenos together and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat add the shallots and leave the mixture to cool down.

Spoon the pineapple and coriander into the prepared jars and cover with the vinegar mixture. Add the lids and leave to cool down before putting in the refrigerator.

pickled-pineapple

Leave for 1-2 days before eating.

N.B Some recipes say use pickled jalapenos and some say to use fresh Jalapenos… I use either …

If you use pineapple juice the cut down on the sugar you use.

If you enjoy pickles what unusual pickles do you make????? Please let me know in the comments…I would love to know 🙂 x

I hope you have enjoyed my recipes for the lovely pineapple until next Friday when I will bring another lovely fruit…Take care and stay safe, have fun and laugh a lot..laughter is free and the best medicine x

About Carol Taylor: 

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a fabulous week and stay safe these are troubling times xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruity Fridays…Pretty Dragon Fruit.

 

Dragon fruit

Good morning and welcome to the revamped Fruity Fridays which are posts I published a couple of years ago and have updated …Today it is the beautiful Dragon fruit…Yesterday we received a surprise visit from our Thai family who always bring us goodies lovely freshly harvested goodies…Yesterday it was some beautiful dragon fruit and the bonus was they are red-fleshed…

A box of lovely red bananas and lots of beautiful limes which means I have been trawling my recipes and have decided to preserve some of the limes..make my lime and almond gluten-free cake again and I may attempt a key lime pie…

My breakfast this morning was, of course, green tea and some lovely fresh dragon fruit it was so delicious……

I will now tell you some more about this lovely tropical fruit and there will also be some delicious recipes including a smoothie…

Dragon Fruit

Such a pretty coloured fruit and it just looks so exotic, doesn’t it? Also, known as Pitaya fruit or in Thailand(Kaeo Mangkon). Rich in Vitamin C, B1, B2, B3 and the minerals iron, calcium & phosphorus and one fruit is only 60 calories so a good for you fruit.

It is also said to help lower bad cholesterol levels and its high fibre content can also assist with poor digestion and constipation.

Of course, it also makes excellent smoothies, you can sip your smoothie while it works on your hair follicles..yes if you put the juice on your scalp it will keep the hair follicles open so it’s great for tinted hair.

I am really getting into this smoothie making and today I think is one of my favourite smoothies. I am learning to get the right amount and what I do is take the glass I am going to drink it from and fill the glass with my fruit that way I make just enough and if I am making more than one glass then I double up but it eliminates the guesswork.

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Today’s smoothie was a mixture of fruit and vegetables.

I used a large chunk of  Pineapple, Watermelon, yellow melon and dragon fruit. A slice of tomato, a slice of beetroot, a piece of carrot and a little ice.

Then into the liquidiser and a blitz for a minute and voila a lovely smoothie.

Skin Problems?

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Troubled with acne and spots then make a paste from a slice of the dragon fruit apply to the affected areas of your face or skin then rinse off with water. Use twice daily for the best results.

The sap of the dragon fruit is also used by making aqueous extracts of its leaves, bark and fruit pulp and is said to aid wound healing and burns.

I then got to thinking about a recipe I came across all these beautiful desserts..brilliant pink Pannacotta’s..but I am not a dessert person as you know unless it’s a high day or holiday…haha….. Often served on a mixed fruit platter here or in little tarts…

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This recipe for Dragon Chicken..…is quick, easy and so tasty….not a dragon fruit in view but hey ho….it’s in the name…lol

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Let’s Cook!

  • 1lb chicken breasts cut into small chunks or pieces of chicken on the bone.

Marinade for chicken:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch/arrowroot
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt to taste.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and coat the chicken thoroughly leave to dry for 30 minutes.

Heat some oil 375 degrees and cook chicken in batches until it is crispy.

For the sauce

  • 2 tsp of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp of finely chopped ginger
  • 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar

Mix all these together. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small pan and add the mixture when the sauce comes to the boil add the chicken and heat for a further 1-2 minutes.

To serve garnish with chopped spring onions, niblets of sweetcorn/peas and or sliced green chillies.

I, of course, would add more chilli flakes and probably a tsp more ginger…just saying..lol…But as you know my mantra is TASTE and TASTE again… until it is perfect for you…

Enjoy!

Until tomorrow …When I will be back with Saturday Snippets have a lovely day and just a reminder if you go out to wear a mask and practise social distancing. xx

About Carol Taylor: 

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all are having a fabulous week and stay safe these are troubling times xx

 

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘O’ for Oats, Offal, Octopus, Oranges and Oysters.

Over half way through time just seems to fly…The letter O…Thank you Sally for promoting this series you are a star…Hugs xxx

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to this month’s The Culinary Alphabet beginning with the letter O bought to you by moi @CarolCooks2. It seems to me that the time is just flying by… Such a funny year so far unprecedented in so many ways…

The letter O…Not as many culinary terms or fruits or vegetables beginning with O but I have a few for you, I hope you enjoy!

Oats

As children, in the winter months, my mum always started our day with a bowl of oats and when it is cold there is no better start to the day…Oats are whole grain, meaning the grain is intact and the kernel is composed of three distinct parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ. Because they are whole grain, they have more nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fibre, than other processed grains. Oats also have more soluble fibre than most grains, much of which is beta-glucan…

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘L’ is for Lamb, Lavender, Lemon/ Lime Meringue Pie, Liquorice and Liver…

It that time again and have I got some wonderful foods beginning with the letter L for you…I do hope you enjoy …x

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful A – Z of Food and I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of wonderful ingredients across the food groups, spices and herbs over the year.

Welcome to the next letter of the alphabet and I am starting with Lamb which is one of my favorite meats although not so easily available here.

Egyptian Lamb Flatbreads

Cold lamb is not very nice so we decided to make some flatbreads..a first for me and I was really pleased with how they came out..very quick and easy to make and a great use for the leftover lamb they made a change to shepherds pie. I now make my own bread and flatbreads all the time.

Ingredients:

• 1/2 cup water.
• 1/4 cup of milk
• 2 cups flour.
• 1 tbsp. Baking Powder.
• 2 tbsp. oil
• 1/2 tsp…

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National Vinegar Month…Coq Au Vin(V) and with a chook…

We are nearing the end of National vinegar month and what better way to end it with a Coq Au Vin made using Balsamic Vinegar…Coq Au Vin is a classic French dish and there are many versions and many cooks who think theirs is the most authentic and the best…

However, it is all down to taste…individual taste…some add carrots some don’t…

Take wine, shallots, mushrooms some aromatics and a chook…

Ingredients:

  • 25g butter
  • 150g shallots, peeled but left whole
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150g bacon lardons
  • A sprig of fresh thyme or a good pinch of dried thyme.
  • 350g button mushrooms…Chestnut or Crimini are my favourites.
  • 500ml good red wine…I love a nice burgundy.
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 free-range chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, on the bone but skin removed (or 6 chicken thighs)
  • A small bunch flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly crushed black pepper.

Let’s Cook!

Using a thick bottomed pan heat it on the stove, add almost all the butter (reserving a knob of the butter) and the shallots. Cook until just browned; add the lardons and thyme and cook for 3-5 minutes then add the garlic cook for a further 1-2 mins.

Add the mushrooms, turn up the heat and add the red wine, chicken stock and vinegar. Add the chicken pieces, bring the sauce to the boil and then simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

For a thicker sauce, remove the chicken once it is cooked and keep warm. Cook the sauce over high heat for a few minutes until the volume of liquid has reduced. Return the chicken back to the pan.

Add the parsley, together with the reserved knob of butter. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve with a dressed green salad and olive oil, new potatoes (my favourite) mash or crusty bread.

For my vegetarian and vegan readers...I found this lovely recipe on my vegan plate...Enjoy!

About Carol Taylor: 

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a fabulous week and stay safe these are troubling times xx