It’s no secret that I love good food and sometimes I love it a little too much!
The older I get, the more heartburn and indigestion become a regular nuisance, especially when I overindulge or I’m particularly stressed. In fact, you won’t catch me leaving the house without a packet of Rennie tablets in my pocket or bag. I don’t pop them like candy, but I often find that a well-timed tablet can ease discomfort quickly and discreetly. Your triggers may be different, but for me it’s usually creamy sauces, cheese (in all its many glorious forms) and medium to rare red meat that set me off, but these are among my most favourite foods, so I’m loathe to give them up completely.
One of the things I most love about food is the social aspect – sharing meals with friends and family, making happy memories as we eat together. Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed wonderful meals at home, in restaurants and on my travels all over the world and I love to look back at these fondly.
So I wanted to share a few favourite recipes with you that capture my family’s cooking through the decades.
Of course, our home cooking may not be the same as yours – my parents immigrated to England in the late 60s, bringing with them the food and culture of India. Mum didn’t stick to only Indian food at home though, she loved (and still loves) learning recipes from all over the world; from cookery books, from friends and even a few gleaned from some of our wonderful family holidays.
Smoked Salmon & Leek Macaroni Cheese
For me, macaroni cheese is the iconic seventies dish. Full of a cheesy white sauce coating tubes of pasta, with that lovely top layer of bubbled and browned cheese, it’s all the things I still love today. We loved it in our family, so mum made it regularly. I still remember helping her lay out the sliced tomato circles over the top before she put the dish into the oven to bake.
My updated recipe adds smoked salmon and leeks for a much more luxurious and grown up macaroni cheese, so no excuse at all to consign this one to the past!
Click here for my smoked salmon and leek macaroni cheese recipe.
Mamta’s Delicious Lucknowi-Style Lamb Biryani
When I was a child I took for granted that everyone knew the delights of home cooked Indian food as my mother made it. It was only in the eighties when I was started developing my own interest in food that I talked to friends at school about what they ate at home and realised that the delicious Indian feasts I loved were unfamiliar to most of my them! Of course, inviting them round to our house soon fixed that!
I love so many of mum’s Indian recipes, all of which can be found on her website Mamta’s Kitchen, but this delicious dish of rice layered with curried lamb and caramelised onions is one of my favourites. It’s particularly popular for celebrations, often served at weddings in India. Back in the late seventies and eighties my parents love to host huge parties in our home; my sister and I would mingle with the guests, help to serve starter and drinks, and thoroughly love all the attention not to mention the great food.
In the UK, Indian food is associated with rich and heavy cream sauces and tonnes of ghee but home cooking is usually much lighter. Certainly my mum adapted her cooking decades ago to use far less oil and fat but still deliver on flavour.
Click here for mum’s lamb biryani recipe.
Quick Golden-Baked Peri Peri Chicken, Yoghurt & Rice Cake
The nineties was the decade in which fusion became a big thing. The influence of global cuisines was increasing rapidly, as was the availability of more exotic ingredients from all around the world and the inevitable result was the creation of dishes which took a little bit of this and a little bit of that to create something wholly new and delicious. Of course, we all remember (and mock) the ones that didn’t work but fusion food became the norm and is still going strong today.
I love to mix things up too – recently I shared a simple mackerel paté with wasabi rather than the more typically British horseradish for flavour.
But my favourite invention combines peri peri sauce (which originated in Mozambique via Portugal) and Persian baked yoghurt rice, a fusion dish I first made several years ago. More recently, I developed a quick and easy version that uses ready cooked chicken and rice plus a good quality peri peri sauce. You can make it from scratch in about 30 minutes!
Click here for my quick golden-baked peri peri chicken, yoghurt and rice cake recipe.
Kavey’s Chicken Tarragon Pasta Bake
It took me a little time to think of what the noughties brought in the way of cooking.
International cuisines and ingredients (and fusion) continued unabated. There was stronger focus on East Asian cuisines and – in London at least – a huge array of authentic and delicious restaurants offering not only the food of a country, or even the food of a specific region but just a single dish.
But I think the trend that made a long-lasting difference was a return to the ethos of making good use of leftovers. Whereas the nineties was the decade of indulgence and new flavours, the noughties had the flavour of recession about it. Nothing new to our grandparents’ generation and those before them, but somewhat forgotten by ours… many of us rediscovered the art of using leftovers effectively and of stretching good ingredients further. This was also heavily influenced by increased awareness of the limited resources of our planet and a general move towards reducing waste, both food and packaging.
My favourite leftovers recipe, and also the most popular recipe on my blog, is this one which turns leftover roast chicken into the most utterly delicious pasta bake.
Click here for my chicken tarragon pasta bake recipe.
The Sous Vide Steak
The preserve of the more gadget-oriented professional chef for many years, this is the decade that sous vide technology finally became readily available and affordable for the home chef. So too did techniques such as spherification, instant freezing with liquid nitrogen and creating powders and foams. But the one that interested me was sous vide, especially when it came to a consistently reliable way of cooking steak – when you spend a lot of money on really good quality beef the last thing you want to do is accidentally overcook it!
Two years ago, I learned all about how sous vide water baths work. I explored the science behind the technique and looked at whether it was worth it.
Read what I found, and learn how to cook the perfect sous vide steak here. You may also be interested in a more recent review for which I trialled a far less expensive and space-saving sous vide device called the Codlo.
The Rennie Happy Eating Campaign
You can also participate in the #RennieHappyEating campaign by sharing your favourite dish from any decade with Olive Magazine. Olive are offering the chance to win a £200 Waitrose voucher; the competition closes at midnight on December 22, 2016.
Kavey Eats was commissioned by Rennie® to create this post, but all opinions about the product are our own.