26 October 2012

Spiced Orange, Carrot and Coconut Soup with Carrot Crisps

"He did the mash,
He did the monster mash,
The monster mash,
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash..."

Bobby "Boris" Pickett 1993

Ah... Alas the last vestiges of summer are fading. Autumn is here. The sun weakens and the once abundant and luxuriant foliage of the last few months dons its last cloak of spectacular orange, yellow and brown colours before drying to a crisp and disappearing altogether. This weekend the clocks go back and while we get an extra hour in bed the price is six months of extra darkness. Time for monsters, ghosts, ghouls and spirits to make their annual appearance... It's Hallowe'en!

Never mind, this time of year does have its compensations not the least of which is the excuse to put away the salad spinner and pull out the stock pot and start making hearty and warming potages. We love cooking soups as they are so versatile and forgiving. There are no strict rules and you can keep adding, adjusting and seasoning until you are happy with the result. Needless to say soups can be made well ahead of requirements, in fact they are better made in advance and the flavour will improve notably if left at least over night. The big trick is to start off with a good stock. Nothing is so important and this season of game yields the most wonderful stock possibilities. Guinea fowl, partridge, grouse, pheasant and of course the humble chicken all make wonderful stock. Please do not throw out carcasses or bones just put them on to simmer for about an hour and then drain and freeze the liquid. You will have a wonderful asset in your freezer ready to be pressed into service at any time.

A couple of weeks ago we featured watercress soup and we hope to continue to feature a few of our favourite soups over the next few winter months but as an homage to autumn's spectacular spectrum of hues - think of the firey flame colours of this season, bonfires and pumpkin lamps, the bright oranges, yellows and reds of butternuts, marrows and beetroots we'll post with this one. Please note these ingredients are a suggestion. Do not be afraid to experiment with your favourite herbs and spices. As ever presentation is everything so please also give a little thought to aesthetics, it only takes a minute. Remember you eat with your eyes!


800g Carrots roughly chopped
1 Large onion chopped
4 cms Ginger sliced
3 Cloves Garlic crushed
2 Tbsps Curry powder
1 Orange Zest and juice
2 Bay leaves
1 Tbsp Chilli powder
750 mls Chicken or vegetable stock
1 Can Coconut milk

5 or 6 Large carrots washed and peeled
2 Tbsps light vegetable oil
Sea salt


Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Slice carrots lengthwise with a vegetable peeler and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Place in a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes turning every few minutes. Remove from the tray with a spatula and place on a wire rack. As the slices cool they will become crisp. Sprinkle with sea salt and arrange as a garnish on the soup.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion until translucent (about 3 or 4 Minutes). Add ginger, garlic, bay leaves and curry powder and fry for a further few minutes until powder is cooked out then pour in the stock and carrots and simmer. Once carrots are tender remove bay leaves and blend with a hand blender or in a liquidizer. Return to the saucepan and add the coconut milk and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Season to taste. For a more chunkier version remove a few of the carrots before blending and return to the smooth soup.

Posted by incredibly fed

19 October 2012

Tamarind and Honey Chicken wings

"Take these broken wings..."
Mr. Mister 1985 

Sunset, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia.

On a trip to Malaysia last year we wound up in Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo where we stayed for a few nights at the Shangri La, undoubtedly one of the island's best and most luxurious hotels. It served very nicely as our 5 star base camp for an expedition  to Mount Kinabalu National Park and boasted a choice of numerous restaurants, cafes and eateries all offering a dazzling array of international cuisine. But after a day or two of all that the novelty wore off  and we craved some more authentic and colourful local cooking.

Luckily for us just outside the gates at the end of the hotel's long drive, wedged between the KK Yacht and Golf club and a beautiful sandy beach there was a local family resort with large authentic open food courts Malaysian style. So one night we planned our escape.  At dusk we made our way to the main entrance and bravely refusing offers of the hotel cars, we calmly strolled past the curious gatekeeper. After the reserved atmosphere of the hotel our little jaunt really did seem like a release!

Petai beans waiting to be cooked ! 
A short distance away, along a dimly lit path lined with Tamarind trees laden with bursting pods, life bustled  in huge semi-outdoor spaces surrounded by little shops and stalls running down to the beach. Long refectory style tables and benches meant large families of several generations could sit together devouring local favourites; grilled locally caught seafood and shell fish, chicken wings, lamb curries, beef rendang, gado gado, noodle dishes, corn on the cob, petai beans and roasted nuts with freshly squeezed juices. Needless to say the food was a fraction of the hotel prices and we tucked right in.

The dish we post below was inspired by that visit. Many people fight for the chicken breast personally we like the wings which are much sweeter, moister and tastier especially when cooked in this Malaysian style. The marinade includes Kecap (pronounced ketchup, where we get the English word!) Manis often referred to as Indonesian soy sauce, if unavailable just use soy.


24 Chicken Wings (2 kg) Most skin + tips removed
I Golf ball size fresh tamarind
2 tbsp Kecap Manis
2 tbsp Light soy sauce
2 tbsp Cooking oil
2 tbsp Honey
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp Muscovado sugar
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp five spice powder
Ground Black pepper
4 Cloves of Garlic (paste)
I 1/2 tbsp ginger paste


In a big bowl mix all ingredients then massage marinade into chicken. Leave for several hours or overnight if possible. Pre-heat the oven to 200C, drain the wings saving the marinade and place on a baking tray for about 15 minutes then turn over the wings and brush on remainder of marinade. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden and well cooked.

Posted by incredibly fed

12 October 2012

Watercress at New House

"Look at me I'm a train on a track
I'm a train, I'm a chook-a train yeah...."
Albert Hammond  1974

Staying in France with our "copains" this summer always reminds us of the time when the very same friends had a huge house in Hampshire. Well, when I say "had" I really mean to say the house belonged to parents of one of them but since they spent most of the year in South Africa mater and pater were only too pleased to have some one look after the place on a semi-regular basis. In return for a few menial tasks such as mowing the lawns and dead heading the climbing roses in the walled garden we were fortunate to have access to it more or less whenever we wanted. Locked into the London rat race at the time however, meant trips were generally confined to weekends only but still escape from the city to a rather imposing Hampshire hideaway was extremely welcome and very much appreciated.

The house, ironically named "New House" was actually one of the oldest in the village and on the hillside just behind it Hampshire's famous heritage railway named the "Watercress Line" chugged along at regular intervals belching steam and blowing it's whistle. Opened in 1865 the line was used to transport the crop from nearby Arlesford to London where it was sold from street stalls and eaten much as you would eat an ice cream today. It's unique nutritional values being recognised even then and arguably made Arlesford the watercress capital of the world. It was and still is the original "superfood"

"New House" itself was a large red bricked double fronted pile, the main part of which dated from the early eighteenth century and boasted grand entertaining rooms which were made full use of. Other friends would join us at various stages over the weekend so there was always an eclectic and lively mix of people. No matter who was there though these weekend affairs inevitably centred around the wonderful dining room. With it's beautiful fireplace, enormous mahogany table, silver candelabras and exposed floor boards it was undoubtedly the nicest and most elegant room in the house. Many great dishes were devoured there, we particularly remember our introduction to game such as rabbit, partridge, pheasant and guinea fowl. Surprisingly though one constant was watercress soup. At some stage over the weekend we would wander down the narrow lane leading to the deserted farm for our fix of cress and pay by depositing a few bob in the honesty box hanging on the entrance gate. The nearest thing to a tropical padi field as you are like to come across in the home counties, the crop is cultivated in large flooded terraces and requires a constant strong flow of fresh water. The source here comes from chalky bedrock springs and bubbles and gurgles down the hill. Conditions ideally suited to cress. It was a lovely experience and in winter time particularly once back home we could hardly wait to make a large terrine of unctuous green "potage" which could be drunk as a warming beverage at any time during the day and would invariably find it's way to place of honour as first course under the flickering candles on that wonderful table in the dining room!

Watercress Soup

3 or 4 Bunches of Cress
1 Red onion or several shallots peeled or 1 leek
1 Clove garlic finely chopped
20g Salted butter
2 or 3 tbsps olive oil
I litre of chicken or vegetable stock
250 mls of single cream or creme fraiche (for creamier soup)
1 stock cube (optional)
Dash Worcestershire Sauce (Optional)
Croutons, cream and/or cress leaves for garnish


Soak and wash the watercress and remove any rough or dead stalks. Place the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and melt with the onion or chopped leek and garlic. (Add crumbled stock cube if using) When translucent (about 10 minutes) add the watercress and wilt the leaves for a few minutes. Remove and blend in a liquidizer or food processor. Return to the saucepan, add the stock and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. The less cooking the better to retain nutrients and the vibrant green colour and do not allow the soup to boil. Season to taste, add cream (if using) and pour into serving bowls. Place a few croutons in the centre of each serving and place a few baby cress leaves on top. For presentation drizzle cream in circles and grate a little black pepper over.

Posted by incredibly fed

5 October 2012

Cup Cakes

Wedding Cup Cakes! 

"Cut the cake. Gimme a little piece, let me lick up the cream
Cut the cake. Well, just a little piece, baby you know what I mean.....
....Gimme gimme gimme gimme
gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme that cake
Well it tastes so good don't pass it all around
Gimme gimme gimme......"

Average White Band 1975

For grown-ups: Dark chocolate and expresso coffee cup cakes
A few days ago I was invited to my little cousin's first birthday bash, actually technically speaking she's my first cousin twice removed but let's not dwell on that one. It was refreshing to be invited to such a tender aged celebration as it has not escaped my notice that  parties invitations these days are getting progressively more... shall we say... advanced. Initially they were twenty-firsts then thirtieths, fortieths and so on. I've even been to a seventieth in the last year or so, oh dear!

But I digress, this was a lovely afternoon tea affair with all the trimmings and not to disappoint, jelly and ice cream were on offer for the adults. But the undoubted stars of the show that all the guests oooing and ahhing in admiration had to be the beautifully iced in two tone cup cakes.

Well what can we say about cup cakes? Rivalled only by macaroon biscuits they are surely the 21st century's prime marketing triumph. Having been thoroughly re-invented from the days of my childhood where they sat modestly along side the aforementioned jelly and ice cream and rice crispies dipped in chocolate to become in recent times the must have adult accessory for every occasion. We catered for a wedding earlier in the summer where the "Wedding Cake" was a specially made wire stand covered in, you guessed it, cup cakes!! Unbelievable, and it doesn't end there, they have even spawned hundreds of specialist emporia which in this neighbourhood at least have constant queues outside.

'Light' carrot and walnut cup cakes! 
At Incredibly Fed we have started to suggest savoury parmesan and pancetta mini cup cakes with blue cheese icing on our party canape menus and have tried to create dessert cup cakes to our taste. Above is our chocolate and bitter expresso coffee cup cake definately one for the grown ups but our favourite is this one adapted from a carrot cake recipe but which reduces the amount of sugar and substitutes vegetable oil for butter.

175g Light Muscovado Sugar
175ml Vegetable oil
3 Eggs Beaten
3 Medium Carrots Grated
100g Raisins
100g Walnuts Chopped
Zest of an Orange
175g Self raising flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 Tsp ground Cinnamon
Half Tsp freshly ground Nutmeg
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

Pre heat the oven to 180 C. Place the cake paper cups in a muffin tray. Place the sugar, oil, vanilla essence and eggs in a bowl and mix then add the carrots, walnuts and raisins. In a separate bowl mix the flour bicarbonate of soda, zest, cinnamon and nutmeg and add to the wet ingredients. Pour into the cups filling each about two thirds. Place in the oven and bake for 10 - 15 minutes.

Mix together 175g icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 50g of soft cream cheese and tbl spoon of orange or lemon juice. Adjust quantities to taste and until suitable consistency is achieved. Spoon or pipe onto cup cakes when cooled. Top with chopped walnuts.

Posted by incredibly fed