26 May 2010

Yorkshires, they just make me happy

Normally I follow the Edmonds Cookbook for yorkshire puddings, which uses a lot more flour, more liquid (milk, rather than water) and more eggs.  We found ourselves wanting to make yorkshires last night and were sans Edmonds, so we did what all self-respecting gastronomics do when faced with the dilemma of wanting to cook something but not being sure of the ratio of ingredients... We phoned a friend (in this case Jan, KB's mum). 

Her recipe for yorkshires was radically different from ol' Edmonds, but they were AWESOME!!  Using water, in place of milk, they were crispier (though if you want fluffy, go with milk).  And they didn't need much stuff, so even better.  Nice!!  The amount listed below made 6 wee puds, so get roasting and enjoy!! (or just make some and enjoy with some gravy for a slightly odd but very tasty lunch) 

2-3 tbsp flour
1/4 cup water
1-2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 egg
oil (or fat from cooked meat)
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients with the egg to form a nice, smooth paste.
  2. Add water (1/4 cup is an estimate), whisking into paste, until you have the consistency of a batter.  The measurements are estimates because, to be honest, it's an eye thing.  You know when it's just thick enough.  If you add too much water, no worries, just add some more flour.  If you add WAY too much water, just add the other ingredients again, make a double amount.  Yum!! 
  3. Pour thin later oil (or fat) into bottom of muffin tins.  Place in oven and heat until bubbling.  Add two or three tbsp of batter into each tin. 
  4. Cook at about 200 degrees celcius for 10-15 minutes - until puffed up and golden. 
  5. Serve with roast, drizzled with gravy.  Soooooo GOOD!! 
Okay - it's yorkshire time again and, this time, I'm going to use Edmonds again, as a comparison with the aforementioned version.  I usually use Edmonds, from habit, but is it actually better?  We shall see.  I rather suspect it'll be yum and I'll not have a clue which I prefer.  I guess it comes down to one thing - do you have milk in the fridge, and how many eggs do you want to use? 

Edmonds version is made in the same way, but uses the following ingredients...

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp water
oil (for putting a little into the bottom of each muffin tin, for cooking)

21 May 2010

Pasta de nada, and a little bit of je ne sais quoi

I've been a bit slack the past week or so, with little (okay, nothing) happening, blogwise.  In my defence, I was in Wellington playing handball for several days, and... Well, that's it.  :)

Anyhoo, last night got my cooking groove back on, whipping up an after-work/uni meal.  I pulled out a variation on the Malaysian chicken curry from Apologies to the Village Chicken, with just a couple of minor alterations - I had no ginger root, so used an extra half an onion; had no curry powder, so used equal amounts of ground cumin, ground coriander, chinese 5-spice and tumeric.  Nom nom nom.  Other than that, remained unchanged, and it was GOOD!

This was served with rice which, as of last night, should always been cooked Persian style.  Ros, one of the lovely cousins who I live with, picked up this trick from an Iranian lady a few years back.  Put jug of water on to boil.  Heat a dollop of olive oil in a pot, with 1/2 tsp salt.  Add 1.5 cups rice (for 4 people) - I used jasmine basmati, but any long grain will do - and stir through the oil, allowing the rice to heat a little.   Add 2.25 cups boiling water to rice, stir and allow to bubble away for about 5 minutes.  Once the water level is JUST below that of the rice, turn the heat down as low as you can, place a paper towel over the pot and put the pot's lid on.  Let it slowly steamy-cook away for 20 minutes or so.  After about a half hour turn the heat off, but leave the towel and lid on until ready to serve.  It'll stay warm for ages. 

Now, as KB was over for dinner I decided to whip up something using custard, following a conversation earlier in the week that custard's just not used for much.  I had planned to make pasta de nada (essentially custard tarts - ramekins lined with flaky pastry, filled with custard and baked for 20 minutes), but hadn't enough pastry.  So plan B.  Fresh (okay, they were fresh, but had subsequently been frozen) berries - I used strawberries - to cover base of ramekin; pour over custard, virtually to ramekin's top; top with meringue and grill for a couple of minutes.  Served straight away, or allow to cool (I did that, that way you can prepare them before you eat dinner). 

1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp cornflour
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
dash vanilla essence
2 egg whites
1/4 cup white sugar (or thereabouts, less is fine)
  1. Heat sugar and water in small pan, stirring until boiling and sugar dissolved.
  2. Boil for 2 minutes, to allow syrup to form, stirring throughout.
  3. Mix cornflour into smooth paste with a little of the milk.  Whisk cornflour paste, milk, egg yolks and vanilla into sugar syrup. 
  4. Stir over low heat until thickens. 
  5. Allow to cool. 
  6. For meringues, beat the egg whites and sugar together, until stiff.  Spoon dollops onto top of custard and berries, grill to get nice and golden on top (this doesn't take long!!). 
NB: I use raw sugar for the custard, as I like the caramelly flavour it gets.  You can use white though, if you prefer (or of that's what's in the pantry!)

10 May 2010

that ol' trout

Came to have a nice rainbow trout yesterday.  Nice sleek, slimy, shimmery rainbow trout.  Having not a lot of experience in the preperation of whole fish, I happily left that side of things to KB, who deftly decapitated the ol' boy and proceeded to score it, ready for the maximum absorbtion of flavour. 

There are endless possibilities, when one is presented with cooking a whole fish.  Do you fillet it and panfry with a little butter?  Bake it, BBQ it, grill it, eat it raw as sashimi?  We chose baking, wrapped in tin foil.  Next major decision to be made (again, almost endless possibilities) - what flavour?  That'll depend on the fish, what you have in the cupboard, and whether it's being eaten on its own, as a starter, or alongside other flavours, as part of the main meal. 

What followed was a fairly traditional way of baking fish, with slices of lemon, a few cloves of garlic and springs of fresh rosemary.  Wrapped in its cocoon of aluminium it was done in mere minutes (probably ten).  Being wary the bones we proceeded to attack its tender flesh with forks, demolishing the lot very quickly.  So simple, but so good.  Would've been nice with some salad and tomato relish too.  Next time!! 

06 May 2010

relish the thought!

Heading toward Christmas '09 I perchanced to be staying with friends (Hanna and Craig) in Auckland when Hanna was making some jars of onion marmalade.  Yum!  I love that stuff, and, as I discovered when tasting Hanna's, needn't be the sickly sweet guff you can buy at the supermarket.  Anyhoo, copied down the recipe (another Donna Hay winner) and proceeded to take a leaf from Hanna's book and make up a dozen or so jars, to give as inexpensive, but very well-received, Christmas gifts. 

One of the jars went to Jim and Ros, whom I live with.  It's been sitting in the fridge since December, taunting me.  See, I've tried to get that lid off, but would it open?  No.  Finally, after several aborted attempts, Jim managed to release the relish from its glass prison.  Praise whomever you like, this was a very happy moment.  Having been reminded, after months of abstinence, of how tasty it is, I've decided it's time for a new batch... 

This time I'm going to shake things up a bit and try a slightly different recipe, using brown onions rather than red (also a bit cheaper, which is always nice), with middle-eastern influences (still Donna Hay), as opposed to the more mediterranean flavour of the original batch (onion, lemon and thyme). 

Onion relish

8 brown onions, sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
3 cups white wine vinegar
2.5 cups brown sugar
  1. Place onions, seeds and vinegar into saucepan and allow to simmer over medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
  2. Add brown sugar and cook, uncovered, for an hour, or until onions are cooked and syrup is thickened. 
  3. Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately - makes about 5 cups. 
The original, for those who want to try both (and the flavours are really very different, so worth trying both, at different times).  When I made the lemon one I actually used brown onions, not red, and it was fine.  Colour's not as interesting, but... *shrug*

1/2 cup olive oil
2kg red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
3/4 cup thyme leaves (stripped from the branch) - I used sage
1/2 cup lemon zest
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup (8 fl oz) white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat a large deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 40 minutes or until the onion is holden and caramelised.
  2. Add the thyme, lemon zest, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cook for a further 10-20 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Makes 5 cups. 

04 May 2010

chicken for the masses

Sometimes you just want dinner.  No complicated fusion of herbs and spices, just good clear tastes, where flavour is simple and you're eating sooner, rather than later.  Obviously you baked beans on toast will fit the bill here, eggs on toast, or a myriad of other quick and easy meals.  But I'm thinking good and simple, but still something you'd want to serve your friends.  Steak and salad is a good option (maybe with some roasties on the side), but my fav is chicken fiorentina (crumbed chicken, pan-fried in butter).  It is imperative that you use butter, as it's such a big part of the flavour.  If you do decide to use oil, make it olive, and perhaps add some oregano to the crumb.  I've not given specific amounts, as it will depend on how many you're cooking for, and how much you like each ingredient...

chicken breasts (1 per person being cooked for)
salt and pepper
cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
fresh coriander
juice and zest of lime
red onion, finely chopped
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
  1. Mix together the cherry tomatoes, capsicum, olives, onion, zest.  Dress with lime juice, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside until needed. 
  2. Put couscous into bowl.  Some people like to add a little stock or something to it, for flavour.  Up to you.  Cover with boiling water, place plate over top of bowl, to keep steam in.  Set aside to cook. 
  3. Dredge chicken in flour.  Coat in egg, coat in crumbs (with some salt and pepper mixed through).  Melt butter in pan, place chicken in pan.  Cook until golden brown on each side, and until cooked through (you may need to turn it down, if pieces are quite thick).
  4. Fluff up couscous - a wee bit of butter will help with this.  Serve chicken on bed of couscous, with tasty salad on the side.  Simple, quick, yum - sort'd!   

03 May 2010

EJ's southeast asian saag-a

It's Friday night, I'm in Auckland, staying with my good friend Bates (Emma Bates, for those 007 fans out there).  We had an exciting evening of entertainment planned, had in fact spent a good portion of the afternoon in preperation for the event.  What were we going to be doing?  Clubbing?  Seeing something from the comedy festival?  No.  Much cooler - we were cooking.  Well, Emma was cooking (she's a culinary arts student, so I deferred to her greater authority), while I observed.  So here it is - Emma Bates' first blog cameo.   

We'd intended to make saag gosht, as we both agree it's possibly the best of the indian curries (well, of those we've tried).  However, somewhere along the way EJ did a bit of continent-hopping, so our curry ended being more southeast asian.  However, with saag gosht as the starting point, saag Bates was born. 

In prepartion for our cooking class evening we took a trip to a butchery, not too far from Emma's house - Westmere Butchery - if you live in Auckland I would really recommend going there - the guys in there were so helpful (letting us know when we were about to buy the wrong cut of meat for a curry) and the lamb we bought was tender and had heaps of flavour. 

2 chillis
4 garlic cloves
2 cm piece fresh ginger
1 onion
1 shallot
fresh coriander
zest and juice of lime, or lemon
1 eggplant (salted, to sweat)
650 g lamb, diced
sesame oil
fish sauce
2 tbsp green curry paste
400 ml coconut milk
tin bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
2cm piece palm sugar
2 good handfuls spinach
dash cream
rice and roti, to serve
  1. Whizz together all chillis, garlic, ginger, onion, shallot, coriander, lime zest with 1 tbsp water, into a nice paste.  Set aside. 
  2. Brown diced lamb in hot pan with sesame oil and a good dash of fish sauce.  Remove lamb, set aside. 
  3. Add homemade paste to pan with another dash of fish sauce.  Stir around for a minute or so.  Add green curry paste, stir.  Add coconut milk and bamboo, return lamb to pan, stir through.  Crumble block of palm sugar into curry, add eggplant, lower heat and simmer.
  4. Blitz spinach with a dash of cream in food processor, add to simmering curry, with juice of lime. 
  5. Let this simmer away until you're ready for it.  Serve with rice and roti
It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but a lot are ones that are likely in the cupboard already, or that can be bought and then kept in cupboard (bamboo, fish sauce, palm sugar etc) as they won't go bad, at least, not in a hurry.  Also feel free to substitute ingredients - if you haven't eggplant, use zucchini or mushrooms.  No lamb?  Use beef, chicken, lots of root vegetables.  Spinach is really the only non-negotiable here.  Have a play, see what you like.  It was soooooo worth it - really amazingly tasty curry.  Well done, EJ, top class creation here.