12 October 2011

me gusta mañana, me gustas tu, me gusta enchilada, me gustas tu - n◦ 2

I haven't really made a lot of enchiladas this year.  Plenty of burritos, a few batches of tasty tasty empandas, but not a lot on the baked goodness of the enchilada-front.  Time to get back on the horse.  Ordinarily I'm a chicken and kidney bean kind of girl, when it comes to enchiladas, but last night decided to make them with essentially a spag bol concoction.  Have mince, will travel. 

The thing I really love about enchiladas (and indeed the majority of tortilla-based foods) is that you can make the filling well before dinner time.  Heck, make it the day before.  Or a month before, then freeze it.  It doesn't matter, especcially for enchiladas, 'cause you're going to whack 'em in the oven anyway.  We had our mexican canneloni (it's what they remind me of) with a warm salad - cauli, red onion, garlic, ginger, beetroot, carrot and thinly-sliced kumara, stir-fried to perfection by KB with sesame oil. 

For 6 enchiladas (so 3-4 people, or 2 people, plus leftovers for lunch)

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, chopped
cumin (powdered or seeds)
salt and pepper
500 g mince
capers, up to you how many
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2-3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
dash balsamic vinegar
400g tin tomatoes
6 tortillas (c. 20cm ones)
cream cheese
cheese, grated
  1. Sauté onions and garlic.  When softening, add chilli, cumin (as much as to your taste, I use a good 3-4 tablespoons), salt and pepper.  Stir.
  2. Add mince and break up, stiring to brown all through. 
  3. Add capers, mustard, sweet chilli and balsamic.  Mix through the mince.  Add the tomatoes, stir thoroughly and reduce temprature to low and allow to simmer for anything from a half hour to an hour or so.  Stir occasionally, to ensure the flavours are all through. 
  4. When you're about 20 minutes away from being ready to eat, turn oven on to about 180 degrees celcius. 
  5. Make up the enchiladas by spreading cream cheese onto the tortillas.  Spoon in a decent amount of mince and roll up (like a canneloni, or a crèpe), tucking the two sides together.  Place, seam down, into your baking dish.  Tuck all six alongside each other, so they stay put.  Grate cheese over the top. 
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned a little. 
  7. Serve with a salad and you're done! 
PS:  Thanks, Manu Chao, for the title-inspiration, and you can add extra tomato on top of the enchiladas too, if you want, under the grated cheese. 

11 October 2011

fish n chips, fish n chips, makes me wanna lick my lips

We eat fish fairly frequently.  One of the bonuses of having a boat, and enjoying sitting out with a line for a few hours.  If it's home-caught (so to speak) it's usually snapper.  If it's from the supy, it's whatever looks good that ain't going to completely fleece the wallet.   Usually we simply pan-fry the fillets - I mean, with tasty fresh fish, what else do you need to do?  However, sometimes you just feel like good ol' battered goodness.  Last night was such an evening. 

I'd heard the Morning Rumble talking about a new batter- and fritter-mix available on the market.  Fogdog, made in NZ, by a couple of blokey blokes, it was apparantly really good - light, crispy, the opposite of dodgy stodge (which is more often than not what you get from the local chipper, these days).  Obviously you can easily make your own beer batter from scratch (a little flour, cornflour and beer), but sometimes it's fun to try out new products.  Everyone's a sucker for advertising from time to time.  So yesterday, picked up some fresh trevally and a packet of this supposed wonder batter.  Given our general aversion to battering fresh fish, it had big proverbial shoes to fill.  

And it did!  It was light and crispy.  Apparantly, cooking with beer (as opposed to water-based batters) reduces the oil absorbtion.  So using beer is actually better for you.  Sweet!!  It cooked very fast (though, that could have been controlled better by yours truly, had I reduced the heat under the pan a little) and didn't fall/slide off the fish.  All you need is the packet and half a bottle of beer.  I used Carlsberg, but next time would be interesting to try it with a darker beer, like Speights Old Dark, or something... 
1 packed Fogdog batter
140 ml beer
2-3 fillets fish
2 large potatoes
cumin seeds
rice bran oil
  1. Cut potatoes into nice, fat, chunky chips.  Toss with a little oil and cumin seeds.  Whack into oven at about 180 degrees celcius.  I usually leave them cooking away for a good half hour or more, then grill them for a couple of minutes, to crisp them up.  Remember to toss them from time to time, so they don't stick to the tray. 
  2. Make up your salad, however you fancy it.  Now you're pretty much ready to go, once the chips are done to your liking. 
  3. When almost ready to serve, mix beer and batter in a bowl.  I reckon it's best to use a whisk, if you have one, as it gets more air into the batter, which presumably helps make it light.  Pat the fillets dry and pour about 4mm oil into non-stick pan.  Get the oil good and hot (drop a wee bit of batter in, to see if it sizzles - that's how you'll know). 
  4. Carefully place the pieces of fish into the hot oil - be careful not to drop them in, as you'll make a mess of your kitchen, and likely burn your fingers/arm.  I know, I did that last night.  Kitchen floor was a shambles.  Have tongs at the ready, 'cause the fish won't take long.  Pretty much as soon as you've put the fish in, it's time to turn it over.  When golden and crispy remove from pan and serve, with salad and cumin-crusted chips. 
Nb: You don't have to use rice bran oil, but if you don't, be very careful to keep an eye on the oil, so it doesn't burn.  Olive oil, the cuisine guru for so many things, isn't much good here.  It has a lower burning point, and the stronger flavour can mask the delicate flavour of the fish.  I'd recommend either rice bran or avocado, as they both have a high burn point. 

06 October 2011

You know you curry me life, you curry me thinking...

Thanks, Katchafire, awesome song.  I know the original didn't actually mention curry but, to be honest, you'll be hard-pressed to find one that does.  Sometimes a little poetic licence is needed, I'm sure those kings of dub won't mind. 

As you've no doubt noticed, it's spring.  Curry isn't really a food that jumps to mind when you think of sun, al fresco dining and the beach (I'm a year-round beacher, none of this 'summer-only' puha), but perhaps we need to adjust our thinking.  I can definitely understand why curries are moreso associated with winter, and maybe autumn - it's cold, they're hot; it's cold, they're warming; you want thick, comforting food with plenty of carbs, they're thick, comforting and come with rice and/or breads. 

However, it's spring and summer vege gardens are being put in around the country (well, around the warmer parts anyway - might be another month or so for the deep south).  Vege gardens = fresh herbs.  Coriander, thyme, chives, parsley.  Nothing makes me curry-hungry more than the smell of fresh coriander.  So it was that last night, after returning home from our bi-weekly shop, that we whipped up a thai yellow curry, spurred on by the coriander in the garden, and the smell of the one sitting on the kitchen sill. 

Break out of the seasonal chains peeps - curry it up year round.  And watch this space for a tasty looking greek stew a la Nigella (it uses a whole bottle of white wine, so surely we can't go wrong) - winter's food is spreading its wings! 

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2cm ginger, diced
1 capsicum, sliced
handful mushrooms, chopped
few florets broccoli
dash sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp (or so) curry paste
1 tin (or so) coconut milk
sesame oil
2 chicken thighs, chopped
handful nuts, seeds
  1. Brown chicken lightly in a little oil (olive, rice bran, whatever).  Remove from pan and set aside. 
  2. Fry onion, garlic and ginger in sesame oil, until slightly soft.  Stir in curry paste, chilli sauce and coconut cream/milk.  Let it reduce a little, over a medium-low heat. 
  3. Add in all other ingredients and leave to simmer until you're ready to eat - the nuts give it so much texture and a wonderful flavour.  We've been using a mixture of brasil nuts and almonds, crushed up a bit.  So good - wouldn't go back to a nutless curry. 
  4. Get rice on - I cook it as per the link above (click on 'rice').  I usually use a stock cube though, rather than salt, and always throw in some cumin seeds. 
  5. Serve when all's ready and enjoy!  This makes enough for 4 people, maybe 5 if you have roti or naan too. 
PS: The picture of the dogs isn't completely random, they were apparantly enjoying the wonderful aroma that is coriander too.