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Butter Chicken

butter chicken







For the marinade

  • 50g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chillies, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp tandoori masala powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 500g skinless fillets of chicken thighs, cut into 3cm pieces

For the masala

  • 4 tsp raw cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp tandoori masala powder, (optional)
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

For a lower fat alternative, try using reduced fat evaporated milk instead of cream in the masala



1. For the marinade: Mix the yogurt, flour, oil, aromatics and spices together, then place the chicken in a shallow dish and coat it with the mixture. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight if you can.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the marinated chicken over a medium heat for 10–15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

3. For the masala: Soak the cashew nuts in hot water for 10-15 minutes, drain and grind to fine paste in blender, adding a little milk if needed.

4. Heat the butter in a large sauce pan, add the bay leaf, ginger and garlic and cook gently for 1 minute until lightly golden. Mix in the masala powders and fry for a further minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and sizzle until the mixture reduces and the tomatoes have lost most of their moisture. Mix in the cashew paste and add enough milk to get a thick, saucy consistency.

5. Add the chicken and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes to warm through. Reserve a teaspoon of the cream and stir the rest in with the chilli, then season to taste. Spoon into a warmed dish, garnish with the reserved cream and serve with chapatis.

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British and U.S. Equivalents

Separated by a common language, sometimes following recipes in the US / UK can prove difficult if you’re apparently not familiar with the ingredients mentioned.  Here is a simple run-down of equivalents that I hope will help.  Please let me know, by leaving a comment below, if you come across any more and I will include them.


Aubergine                                        Eggplant

Beans, Broad                                   Fava Beans

Beans, Soy                                       Edamame

Beef, Flank Steak                           London Broil

Beef, Rump Steak                          Beef, Top Round

Bicarbonate of Soda                      Baking Soda

Caster Sugar                                    Granulated Sugar

Cheese, Emental                            Swiss Cheese

Clotted Cream                                No equivalent  (The closest equivalent to this would be to use stiffly whipped heavy cream)

Coriander                                         Cilantro

Cornflour                                         Cornstarch

Courgette                                         Zucchini

Cream, Clotted                               No equivalent  (The closest equivalent to this would be to use stiffly whipped heavy cream)

Cream, Double                                Heavy Cream

Cream, Single                                  Half and half cream

Cream, Whipping                           No equivalent  (Whipping cream has the consistency of single [half and half] cream but with a higher fat content it can be whipped into peaks)

Digestive Biscuits                          Graham Crackers or similar

Flour, Plain                                     All Purpose Flour

Flour, Strong                                  Bread Flour

Flour, Wholemeal                         Flour, Wholewheat

Gelatine                                            Gelatin

Glucose Syrup                                 Light Corn Syrup

Golden Syrup                                   Corn Syrup

Icing Sugar                                       Confectioners’ Sugar

Madras Curry Powder                     Curry Powder

Mince (meat)                                    Ground meat

Mincemeat (for cakes)                    No equivalent  (A ‘preserve’ or mix of finely chopped fruits like apple, raisins, sultanas and citrus peel, with shreds of suet – often used in ‘Mince Pies’)

Pastry Case                                         Pie Shell

Pine Kernel                                         Pine Nut

Plain Flour                                          All purpose flour

Polenta                                                 Cornmeal

Salad Onion                                         Spring Onion, Scallion

Self-raising flour                                No equivalent  (Substitute All Purpose Flour with a raising agent)

Swede                                                   Rutabega

Tomato Puree                                    Tomato Paste

Vanilla Essence                                  Vanilla Extract

Vegetables:  Beans, Broad                 Fava beans

                              Beans, Soy              Edamame

                               Courgettes             Zucchini

                               Swede                     Rutabaga

Whipping Cream                                Heavy cream  (Whipping cream has the consistency of single (half and half) cream but with a higher fat content can be whipped into peaks)


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Holey Laundry?

You may sometimes notice small holes appearing in your newly washed laundry.  If you’re pretty sure that it’s not just that the material is worn and aged anyway then you might like to know the following:

The enzymes in biological washing powders can attack the natural fibres of especially wool and silk, breaking them down.  (There are usually warnings on washing product packaging but they are not always obvious).  For washing these delicate fabrics therefore, use something gentle that you might use for babies’ clothes, like ‘Dreft’.  I personally have found that 100% cotton can be similarly eaten up by the enzymes in biological powders and the solution for me was to change powder (in my case ‘Persil’ biological powder did the damage while other biological powders seemed OK).

Check the instructions of your washing machine for recommended spin speeds.  Too high a spin speed can loosen and damage fibres.   Below is a general chart to show that certain fabrics need certain maximum spin speeds:

             Cottons: 1400 rpm

             Minimum iron: 1200 rpm

             Delicates: 600 rpm

             Woollens: 1200 rpm

             Silks: 400 rpm

             Shirts: 600 rpm

             Denim: 900 rpm

For me, these two are the most obvious culprits but if you’ve tried altering both of the above it is also worth knowing that deodorant has been implicated and may damage clothing – so changing brand again may help.

Then there are also the most obvious reasons – which I’ve left until last here because I assume you’ve already considered them:

Don’t wash delicate fabrics with clothes that have zips, hooks, or wires.  For washing mixed loads where you are concerned about damage in this way, you may find using special laundry bags useful.   These come in a variety of sizes, some large enough to accommodate things like skirts.  Either place the offending article (with the metal fastening) or the delicate articles in a fine mesh laundry bag and this should help to minimise damage.  Under wire bras should, in any case, really be hand washed.

Where is the damage occurring?  If it’s close to the underarms and you wear under wire bras, is it possible that the wire is snagging on the fabric causing wear? 

If it is across the front or back of the material, around waist height, it’s possible that it’s just wear and tear from leaning against kitchen counter tops.   Apparently granite worktops are particularly abrasive to clothing.

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Buying and Roasting Turkey – The Basics


2.25 kg / 5lbs                          Serves 4 – 6

3.6 kg / 8lbs                             Serves 6 – 8

4.5 – 5.6 kg / 10-12 lbs        Serves 10 – 12

9 kg / 20 lbs                             Serves 12 – 15


Always weigh your turkey after it’s stuffed – you might need to use bathroom scales.  Allow 40 minutes per kg (20 minutes per lb) at 190c  /  375F  /  Gas mark 5.  (If you’re using a fan oven, the temperature should be 170C – that approximately 365F).   Make sure that the juices run clear; if not, return to the oven for 20 minutes and test again.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless chocolate cake









  • 250g good quality dark chocolate, minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids, broken into pieces
  • 125g buter
  • 4 eggs, separated, plus 1 whole egg
  • 175g caster sugar
  • double cream, to serve


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

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of barely simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t come into direct contact with the water or the heat will be too fierce). As soon as the chocolate is melted, set aside to cool.

3. In a clean, dry, grease-free bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites to stiff peak stage then whisk in 100g of the sugar until glossy.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 4 egg yolks plus the whole egg and the remaining 75g of sugar.

5. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture then fold in the egg whites.

6. Pour the batter into a ungreased 20cm cake tin.

7. Bake in the oven for 30-35mins or until just set in the centre.

8. Serve warm or cold with double cream.


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Technical Stuff

betty-rubbleI’m not selling you something, I have no vested interests here and please don’t ask me questions about this because I’m so non-technical in real life that it’s not even funny (founder member of The Flat Earth Society, ‘n all that):

Did you know that your site may be failing to load properly and/or that your ‘Comments’ page may be causing the user’s internet connection to fail?  This is particularly the case if you run a Blogger site.

I know this because I am that user and many of the sites I’ve been trying to visit are on Blogger.   I’ve referred to this problem before and actually thought at the time that it might be something specific to me alone, i.e. to do with my computer, my internet connection … or something.  Well, it seems that I’m not alone, not by a long shot.  It’s a common problem and so if you have low visitor numbers, few or even no comments, it’s just possible that your visitors are being zapped as described above.

The solution to the problem appears to be two-fold and here I thank A-M over at The House that A-M Built for providing these two links:

Known issues with Blogger

Internet Explorer error on Blogspot comments

I should say that up-grading your Internet Explorer to a more recent version will not solve the problem (I obviously tried this).

If you’re the site owner a ‘clean-up’ or re-shuffle as described on the first link above link may help.  If you are the person experiencing the problem, switching to a different browser, like Firefox, may resolve it.  I only say ‘may’ because I switched to Firefox late yesterday and so far I’ve had far fewer problems.  You’ll note that I can’t say I haven’t had any, but certainly problems are now few and far between.

If you’re as non-technical as I am, I can confirm that you can have both IE and Firefox on your computer and so alternate between the two if you want, and that Firefox can import all your ‘Favourites’.  Those of you who already know this to be true ~ don’t snicker, I’m doing the best I can!


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Natural fertilisers

Bugs1If you want to go organic and steer clear of chemical fertilisers in the garden then there are a few natural alternatives.  Common nettles make a good, if smelly alternative to commercially prepared chemical versions  (another good reason to leave a patch of your garden to run wild). 

Rubber GlovesFor obvious reasons, wear some rubber or gardening gloves to harvest, tear and scrunch up enough nettle stems and leaves to loosely fill a watertight container such as a bucket.   Then weight them down, say with an old plate.  Fill the container with enough water to cover the crushed greenery and then leave to rot down.  (This is a bit smelly so you may want to place this somewhere away from the house)! 

The brew should be ready to use in 3 to 4 weeks and needs to be diluted for use – usually in a ratio of roughly 1 part Watering cannettle liquid to 10 parts water (the resulting diluted liquid should look the colour of tea).  You can keep topping up your supply bucket with nettles and water as the season progresses.  Once your flowers have finished flowering and you no longer have use for the homemade fertiliser, just tip what remains onto the compost heap.

Another alternative is coffee grinds.  Sprinkle them around plants before you water or before rain and the grinds will slowly release nitrogen into the soil.

Flower and beesCrushed eggshells are a well-known old-fashioned fertiliser and work particularly well scattered around roses because of their calcium carbonate content. (An added bonus is that their sharp edges also help to deter slugs).

If you’re lucky enough to live by the seashore then some of the best fertiliser is freely available in the form of seaweed.  You can either treat it in the same way as the nettles above and make a ‘tea’ out of it (which again needs to be diluted for use) or, if it is winter time, dig the seaweed directly into plant borders to feed and condition the soil.

Lastly, but by no means least, consider making either a compost heap or set up a worm Butterflycomposting bin.  In my experience worm bins don’t smell (I kept mine in the garage) and given time they produce wonderful, fine compost and the ‘run-off’ is a good liquid fertiliser for the garden (use diluted as above).

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Filed under Gardening, General house tips, General tips, Money saving tips

Tea, glorious tea

Freshly plucked tea leavesI’ve just written about my own addiction to this glorious drink over at my regular blog and just thought that I’d give you a quick run-down of perhaps lesser-known facts about tea because…well just because you can never know too much about something you love.

Did you know that tea, in its dry form contains more caffeine than coffee?  However, just to confuse you, a prepared cup of coffee contains higher levels than prepared tea.

Unlike coffee, tea also contains valuable anti-oxidants that are associated with preventing cancer and heart disease.

Tea is made from the leaves of a camellia plant, in this case Camellia Sinensis.  

Since tea was first introduced into Britain (during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, 1533-1603) it has been credited with healing powers.  This is reflected in a few current English brand names – P.G. (which is said to stand for ‘pre-gestive’) and Typhoo (which is Chinese for ‘doctor’).

A New York merchant named Thomas Sullivan is credited with having invented the first tea bag in 1904 when he sent out samples enclosed in silk.

A nice cuppaAs a nation the British drink 175 million cups of tea daily and this consumption makes it our number one beverage.

The habit of drinking black tea with lemon was a Russian habit introduced by the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, the Princess Royal, who was married to the Emperor of Prussia.  However the habit never caught on amongst the general British population as the overwhelming amount of tea is drunk nowadays with milk. 

‘Char’, as in the English expression ‘a nice cup of char’ (i.e. tea) is derived from the Chinese word for tea – tcha.

Finally – making tea.  There has been an on-going debate about whether to add the milk to the tea first or second.  Those who brew their tea and then add the milk insist they are right.  I say they’re wrong and now I’m being backed up by scientific evidence (there’s nothing like being smarmy is there)?!  Adding the milk after the tea has brewed precipitates the release of tanins, which tend to make the tea taste more bitter, not to mention causing worse staining of your teeth and the tea cups.  Also, the proteins in milk more easily split and divide if added to the hot tea, leading to clumping.  …And no one wants clumpy tea now do they?.


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Rose Pot Pourri

Rose pot pourriValentines Day has been and gone and by now those beautiful red roses have begun to fade.  It’s a shame to throw them away when they can so easily be dried and used for pot pourri that will last for many, many weeks, if not months ahead.

The time to turn them into pot pourri is really just as the flower heads start to droop and the petals are dropping away because once removed from the stem, the petals are still colourful and beautiful.

There are a few methods for drying flower petals, two of which require patience, one of which is quick and easy.  Here’s the quick and easy method and all it requires is a few pieces of kitchen paper, a microwave and a small bottle of rose essential oil (a scent ‘fixative’ of orris root powder is an optional extra).


Gently separate the petals from the stems and scatter them in a single layer on a microwaveable plate onto which you have placed a piece of kitchen paper.  Microwave on a medium setting for 15 seconds, turn the petals and microwave again for another 15 seconds.  The petals will become a richer, darker colour but shouldn’t be brittle.  I find that I can generally do one bloom at a time like this.

When they’re all done pop them in a plastic bag and scatter with a few drops of rose essential oil, close the top of the bag and gently toss the petals in the bag.  Then preferably leave the bag shut for half an hour or so before use.  Display in pretty, open containers around the house and top up the scent with more drops of essential oil as and when necessary.

If you want to make the scent last longer, you can add approx. one tablespoon of orris root powder per cup of petals just before you sprinkle on your initial dose of rose oil.  Orris root is simply a natural fixative, derived from the root of a species of iris, and can be obtained from many herb supply outlets.


Filed under General house tips, General tips


What does that mean?  A spatchcock is a bird that has been split open for cooking – usually grilling.

Why?  A spatchcocked bird will cook faster than a whole bird (generally it will cook in 45 minutes), it can easily be set in a marinade to give it added flavour and is also a good way of preparing a whole bird for the barbecue (cook in the oven first and finish on the barbecue).

How?  The simple answer is to ask your butcher to do it for you (!) but if you’re stuck with one of those un-peopled long racks of meat in the supermarket, rather than a proper butchery section, it is actually something you can do pretty easily yourself.  I’m assuming that you are not one of those squeamish types about handling meat because you will have to get to grips with the chicken.  I should also say that if all else fails you can use good old chicken portions in a marinade.  This is just more expensive and somewhat defeats the object when there is something very satisfying about knowing how to spatcock a bird!  Isn’t there?

secateursTo spatchcock a chicken you will need a pair of poultry shears or something like very tough scissors or garden secateurs (it goes without saying that they have been reserved for this purpose as traces of poison tree bark on your bird just won’t do).  It has to be something that will pretty easily cut through small-ish bones.

Lay the bird breast side down and cut all along one side of the spine, then repeat the process on the other side.  With the spine now removed you can turn the bird over and flatten it out – it looks a little like a steamroller has gone over it but that, my friends, is a spatchcocked bird.

What next?  Here is a recipe we like from Nigella Lawson for Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary but do bear in mind that just about any marinade will work with a spatchcock bird so why not get creative?  General hints and tips on how to prepare a marinade are on my page here.


1 spatchcocked chicken (approx. 2 – 2.25 kg)

3 long sprigs of fresh rosemary

Juice of 1 lemon, plus more lemons to serve

1 red onion

100ml olive oil

Maldon (sea) salt

Serves 4


Put your spatchcocked chicken into a large freezer bag.  Pull the needles off 2 sprigs of rosemary and drop them on top.  Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the bag then chuck in the empty shells afterwards.  Cut the onion into eighths and add to the bag.  Pour in the olive oil then tie up the bag and give it a good squidge around before sitting it in the fridge.  The chicken can stay in this marinade in the fridge for up to two days (I would give it a minimum of 4 hours to allow the flavours to infuse into the bird).

When you’re ready to cook the bird, get it out of the fridge to let it come up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 210C / 415 – 425F / gas mark 7.  Lay the flattened chicken, skin side up, on a tin lined with foil, along with the lemon husks and onion pieces, and add the remaining sprig of rosemary torn into a couple of pieces, tucking them between the leg and breast.  Cook for about 45 minutes, by which time the chicken should be crisp skinned and tender within.  You can even turn the oven down to about 150C / 300F / gas mark 2 and let it remain in the oven long after it’s cooked through.  Somehow this doesn’t seem to make it stringily overcooked but rather infused with golden tenderness.

Take the tin out of the oven, cut the chicken into four pieces and arrange these on a plate, along with the onion bits, then pour over any syrupy golden juices from the tin and sprinkle generously with Maldon salt.  Cut a lemon or two into quarters and scatter these about the chicken.


This recipe appears in Nigella Lawson’s book ‘Forever Summer’ published by Chatto & Windus, ISBN 0 7011 7381 5


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