don’t you find that everything you study at school or university always seems to be super relevant in your real life situations long after the subject or paper is finished?
yeah, me neither.
pythagoras theorem? nature metaphors in Mean Creek? iambic pentameter in Othello? (no offence shakespeare, love you man)
well, imagine my surprise/delight/complete and utter bemusement when one of my papers started having an overwhelming relevance on my everyday life – no, sorry guys, it’s not French due to a devilishly attractive french petit ami called Jean Luc, (a girl can dream, right..)
but my behavioural eco paper which, you guessed it, is all about human behaviour!
finally, justification for all my… um… quirks: can’t stop at one square of chocolate or one m&m? the beta endorphin triggered by the sweet taste of sugar stimulates your appetite! make budgetary decisions which end up making you worse off (I won’t buy winter boots that i would wear every day, but another cocktail dress that i’ll wear once? yeah, why not!) and oh so many more! all explained! now i can’t figure out if it is reassuring or depressing that i’m so very ordinary and human in these matters – a bit of both i think!
a lot of the lessons i’ve taken from school and uni are more likely not included in ncea curricula or lecture outcomes, and are as follows:
Don’t tell your year 11 english class that you and your husband are basically romeo and juliet incarnate and destined to be together, because when you come back to school next year with a different surname, it’s super awkward for everyone involved.
The last glass of wine at a byo is always the one that tips you over the edge. always.
Don’t flat with 4 boys if you’re vegetarian (i’m not, by the way, but this week i dared to make a red thai vegetable curry … they were highly unimpressed by the lack of meat)
always play croquet as your summer sport – the old people running the clubs will adore you and provide fizzy drinks and biscuits for your afternoon tea. croquet: the only summer sport where you put on weight!
and many more.. I would love to hear what you’ve ‘learned’ from school and university in the comments!
One thing that i have learned is that puff pastry makes everything better (except in the chicken fettucine pie that my work sells… that’s just wrong). so butter chicken pies are always a good idea, and make your flatmates very, verrry happy!
This recipe comes from the genius destitute gourmet, whose books have been invaluable in a flatting context (her book tasty $10 meals would make a great gift for someone who is going flatting!) Her recipes are always straightforward, appeal to boys and men and are always delicious!
My modifications were to up the spices for more of a kick, use the whole can of tomato paste, add in a tin of chopped tomatoes, and skip the cornflour, cream and poppy seeds. I just served them with green beans and broccoli, but a salad would be lovely or you could even have rice i guess, if you are feeding very hungry people! (I was but i had made apple crumble for dessert, so it worked out perfectly!)
The recipe makes 20 pies and i had a little extra filling which i just heated up and ate for lunch the next day.
Butter Chicken Pies
Makes 20 pies
Serves 4-8 – 2 each for regular people (me), 4 for hungry boys!
2 chicken breasts, skin off and chopped into 1 inch cubes (ish)
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp crushed garlic
canola oil, for frying
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chilli/cayenne pepper (all we had on hand!)
170g can of tomato paste (2/3 cup ish)
1/4 cup of flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 packet of puff pastry (5 sheets), thawed
Marinate the chicken with the lemon, ginger and garlic for at least an hour in the fridge. Heat a little oil in a large pan and add the chicken, sauté until sealed on all sides or thereabouts. Add the spices and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the tomato paste and flour, then when combined add the remaining ingredients. Simmer on a low heat for 15 mins or until chicken cooked. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Working with one pastry sheet at a time, slice into four even squares. Brush the edges of each square with a little water and spoon some of the curry into the centre of each square, after you fold a couple you’ll get a good idea of how much filling in each. Using your fingertips, fold in and press the edges together so that the filling is contained. Repeat with the rest. You can brush with milk or egg at this point, but i don’t usually bother. Poke a couple of holes in the pastry of each pie to release steam. Bake at 210C for 20 mins or until puffed and golden brown on top (our oven at the flat is quite temperamental, hence mine look a bit ugly – i’ve made these in other ovens and they don’t usually burst open!
ps – please no hate on the pictures, turns out the short days that come with the all round stellar season of winter are not conducive to taking pretty pictures! who knew? oh wait, the whole blogosphere ;) xxx
the last few hours have just been a mush of laughing and jumping around and hugs- my brother has just found out he’s received a scholarship for uni next year, after previously being turned down, they received more funding or something and so now he’s got one!! we are just over the moon for him – it was a big shock when he didn’t get one as he’s a fabulous kid and has been a real leader in school and community.
it was just as well, then, that i was halfway through making this chicken: eminently worthy of a celebratory meal, if i do say so myself. i also made a scrummy salad that i’ll elaborate on in my next post- think indian spiced potato salad with toasted coconut shards.
this recipe is one that i’ve tweaked and muddled with over the years – i think the original was a judith cullen recipe. i love the way your favourites evolve out of inspiration, necessity, memory loss or sheer laziness – there’s something lovely about a recipe you’ve made your own.
the other cool thing about this recipe is that you can quite happily leave out one or two ingredients without it being too harmed – the exception would be the brown sugar (though honey could be substituted), soy or chilli. This time around we didn’t have any garlic on hand and it’s getting to the time of year where nz garlic isn’t readily available, so i left it out.
i would encourage you to try and make it with the complete ingredients however – it is very very good just the way it is! with lemon juice and tamarind providing a mouth puckering sourness, chilli giving heat, fragrant lemongrass and ginger – yum!
note: I used a kilogram (two pounds) of thickly sliced chicken breasts, however whole breasts, thighs, wings, drumsticks, even a butterflied whole chicken would work nicely here.
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp minced lemongrass (tube is fine)
2 tbsp minced chilli
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
a 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
zest and juice of a lemon
1 kg chicken (see note above)
mix together marinade ingredients, then mix with chicken, and allow to sit for at least 1 hour. Place in 180 C/375 F oven and bake for 30 mins (longer if cooking larger pieces). The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear.
Take the chicken out of the pan with a slotted spoon, then pour the liquid into a saucepan and let simmer for ten or so mins to reduce down to a thick syrupy sauce, then drizzle over the chicken and serve!
congrats willbill, we’re all so proud of you xx