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!)

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