Around 2001, on a trip home, I discovered something which was to have a major impact on my cooking, and to a degree, improve my quality of life. Enter Tony Chachere’s:Apologies for the rubbish picture – maybe the BlackBerry phone camera wasn’t the way to go with that one, huh?
I’m a spicy food fan – my mom used to slip hot peppers into our salads growing up. My dad has fond memories of growing up with something called schoog (which I found is both a hot chili paste and a sweet drink – there are some Hebrew words that I’ve never quite come to terms with – imagine asking for one and getting the other. Um, no.)
My husband is not. But as we’ve been together for nearly a decade now (where does the time go – oh yeah. There), he’s learning to love it.
Enter Tony’s – salty and spicy. Perfection in a shaker as far as I’m concerned. And the uses!!!
- mix it with Parmesan cheese over pasta – yum
- use it to season a pot of black bean, sweet potato and pepper stew – yum
- shake some on top of chicken or veg when roasting
- soups, stews, roasted meats and veg (great on potatoes) you want it spicy and a bit salty (I do love my salt), add Tony’s
Tony’s Roasted Courgette/Zucchini sticks
- Two large or four medium courgettes – cut into batons
- spoon full of oil of you choice
- generous shaking(s) of Tony’s to taste
- Put courgette into a zip loc bag
- Add oil, then Tony’s to bag
- Zip closed
- Shake, shake, shake
- Pour into roasting dish
- Pop in an oven (doesn’t really need to pre-heat) and turn it to about 400F/200C and roast to your liking (I like mine a bit dark, so left it in there fore about 45 minutes)Things I would do differently
- Make more – so good. Can’t wait to restock on my Tony’s in January!
Every Friday night, after finishing work, we try to start the weekend right by having a family meal. This either means going to “The Dinner Store” (bless my little girl), or me cooking something nice/easy at home. One of my staple Friday night dishes is a quick curry which uses pretty much whatever you have on hand, plus a few quick ingredients. If it’s spicy, Monks has something different. This Friday was a spicy one, so Monks happily had her favourite dinner:
We didn’t go for the Charlie and Lola book giveaway this time though. Maybe next time.
We did use this as an opportunity to learn about ingredients. She especially liked the turnips because they are partly purple, and you can make turnip flowers on them. Sometimes…
All good things, anyway…
Husband and I had the curry.
My curry recipe is fairly standard, and all surrounds a good curry paste. Find one you like, and you can have a lovely curry up in no time. Try different ones too – there’s so many to choose from!
We normally go for Fern’s, which I get from a local market in Oxford. It rocks my socks…
Unfortunately, we’ve not had the chance to visit said local Oxford market for some time, and Patak’s curry pastes were on sale at the Sainsboring’s, so I thought I’d try something new. Here’s the result:
Basic curry in a hurry
- one stock cube or gel stock tub
- about 1 litre of water
- about 2 tbsp minced garlic
- about 2 tbsp minced ginger
- a good .5 or more cups of curry paste of choice (more or less to taste – used to be able to get away with a few tablespoons, alas, no longer – I tend to use 0.25 to 0.5 of a jar each time)
- protein of choice (I used black eyed peas and borlotti beans and used the water from the tins instead of adding all the water above)
- your choice of veg to feed as many as you need (I used one head of cauliflower, four trimmed leeks, two aubergines and one box of chopped tomatoes – my favourite mix is with sweet potato or butternut squash, potato and cauliflower)
- Prepare your vegetables in a good sized dice (I like chunks!)
- Heat up a dutch oven / large pot over medium heat
- Add about 0.25- 0.5 cups of water to pot, then stock, curry paste, garlic and ginger. Cook whilst stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes – until it looks like you need more water or it will start to stick
- Add you basics – onion or leeks, and another 0.5 c of water. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
- Add in your beans and remaining veg (hold off on the tomato, if using, until after your veg has softened up lest they pickle in the tomato juice!), and enough water to not quite cover (depending on how dry a curry you like).
- Pop the lid on your pot, turn the heat to medium low, and let simmer until veg is soft.
I will say that this curry paste was rather on the spicy side (more so than usual!), so a bit of yoghurt really went a long way here. Probably should have served it with a bit of grain as well, (cous-cous would have indeed been quick), but we all learn from our mistakes, right! Monks tried it too and said it was yum. But then she was under strict orders not to spit her food out lest she not be allowed to have dinner with mummy and daddy again. Perhaps she was biased?