Archive for January, 2010

Sins of my past coming back to haunt me

We have had plenty of snow this year, which caused many people act very silly indeed. By “many people”, I mean “me”. Just before Christmas, on my way back from the pub, I decided to stomp a lewd shape into the garden snow (I assume I did, I have little recollection of this). I awoke feeling worse for wear to the embarrassment of the situation, but was saved by more snow falling that afternoon, covering up my work of art and destroying it forever. Or so I thought. This morning I saw this when I looked out the window.

I have no idea how I managed to kill the grass by stomping on it. I am guessing it will take a few weeks to go away. The black bra is off a “snowlady” I made a couple weeks later that the neighbours added to, to cover her modesty in an unrelated incident of silliness.

Tortilla samosas


The great thing about this recipe is that I always have of these ingredients in the house. You can put anything you like into these but potatoes and peas are a must. The other filling ingredients I used this time were peppers (frozen since they are going to be cooked anyway), onions (a curry staple since they will make it a little sweeter), spinach (that’s the two frozen green things next to the potatoes), tomato puree, curry paste and (Balti is the most versatile one in my opinion). The shells are simply tortillas and you will need an egg or flour/water mix to stick them down. I have used filo pastry before, but I picked up using tortillas from the hairy bikers, and it works great.

For curries, I alwaus try to use as many frozen things as possible. The cellulose is broken down in them, so they release more flavour and absorb more. Secondly, you can use as much as you want and leave the rest for next time. If you have any filling left over, freeze it. I guarantee you it will be even better the second time round (especially the potatoes). Using the curry paste is also recommended. Dry spices do quickly loose their strength and having jars and jars of them makes sure they sit there for years at a time. The paste suspends everything in oil, so nothing escapes. Also you will be getting a fresh jar every 3 meals or so.

The filling

The potatoes are the thing that take the longest cooking. I tend to chop them into small cubes and boil them in a separate pan. Not sure why, but they never go soft enough when cooked in the curry sauce. In another pan, gently fry the onions. When soft and transparent, add the other ingredients (they don’t need to be fried). Add a little water to make it workable. Simmer for a 10 minutes, then add the now softened potatoes and simmer for a little longer so they soak in the spices. Ideally if you cut a cube in half, it will have the colour permeating nearly to the centre. At this point you have a strong dryish curry with fine chopped ingredients.

The wrap

I should mention, here I bought some fancy tortillas with seeds and the like, only because they were on offer. Take the tortilla, cut into three like in the image below. The two side pieces can go to feed any vermin you have in your garden. The middle two are the ones we want.

The two slices have a long side and a short side. (the long side is on the bottom here)

Fold towards the longer edge. (note the staining ability of curry)

Then fold the other side over.

Here is a diagram to make it simple. The more geeky amongst us will notice that all the angles are 60°.

If you turn over, you have a lovely cone.

Now fill with the mixture.

Use the egg-wash to stick it down. The tortilla ones are pretty good at not opening themselves, the filo are more of a pain. Pinch any corners that are too open, down with a little more egg.

Now to the frying. These want to be deep fried. I say want as you can also bake them. Remember those side tortilla strips that you threw out to the birds? Go back outside and wrestle a squirrel for one of those back. Drop half the strip into a pan of hot oil. The oil should be got enough that it bubbles, yet it doesn’t discolour the tortilla straight away. Probably around 150°C.  If it has been frying in the oil for two minutes without turning too brown, then it is a good temperature. Fry the samosa for about 2 minutes. If you tap them with a fork and they are hard, and they have turned more golden, then they are done. While one is frying, you can make the next one.

Allow any excess oil drip out before eating. I made two types, the veg ones like described, and meat ones which are the same but with pork mince. I think they are best when still hot and crispy with sour yoghurt (i.e. a week past it’ sell by date, the perfect point of sour yet probably wont kill you just yet).

Very cold indeed and some bits and bobs

The cold

It has been somewhat cold recently here in the UK. Woke up today to find that I couldn’t see outside.

That is frost, but on the inside of the window. I am currently sleeping under two duvets and getting up is not pleasant experience.

Even what looks like condensation at the top of the window was completely frozen. Would be nice to have double glazing.

More fedora icing

I forgot to post the sprinkled sugar cupcakes I made a few months ago for the release. These were made using a paper cut-out template and then dusted. I should have made more blue icing sugar. I found the best way to make it was using a small resealable plastic bag. Add the icing sugar and a little blue dye. Then squish the lumps with your fingers until it is dry and fine.

Take that GDM!

It is a shame, but at the university there is somewhat strong resistance to the concept of a graphical login. Here is what the students see when they come to log into a machine. It will look even more silly on high resolution monitors with KMS graphics where the ASCII art occupies a small section in the upper left.