25 June 2012

corn, three ways

Okay, for any of you who read that header and thought of gritty French films, get your minds out of the proverbial gutter.  I'm taking the piss out of what seems to be de rigeur in restaurants at the moment - having *xyz*, three ways is the cool thing to do.  Kyle and I have seen it so many times that its become a bit of a personal joke, to try and figure out just how the three ways might be, and why they bother.  For example, duck, three ways - so you get a bit of leg, a bit of breast, and some duck confit.  The first two are cooked the same way, and the third, well I didn't actually know what that was until I looked in wikipedia (the waitress not being sure, and the chef far too busy and important to explain to her).  Don't get me wrong, I love trying out new flavours, and different cooking methods, but sometimes it just seems to be done for the sake of presenting a range, at the expense of the food. 
But anyway, moving on.  To corn, three ways.  This is actually about muffins.  Corn, bacon etc muffins.  And the muffins have three types of corn - polenta, kernels and creamed.  And they're yum.  We tried them fresh out of the oven (perfect Sunday afternoon treat), and I've got one lined up for my morning tea, heated, with a little butter.  Do you ever go to a cafe and just seeing all the food in the cabinets makes you want to go home any bake?  Most of the time I resist the urge, but not yesterday.  They had some arancini (panko-crumbed risotto balls), which looked tasty.  That got me thinking about savoury yum foods.  Then the guy started bringing out the blueberry muffins for the day and my afternoon's fate was sealed.  But, not having blueberries, and fancying doing something with bacon, these muffins arrived in our oven... 

1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup milk
3 (or more...) bacon rashers, rind removed, chopped into cm pieces
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, chopped
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1 tbsp castor sugar
400 g tin corn kernels, drained
50 g creamed corn
100 g butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
24 cubes cheese (1 cm cubes)
grated cheese, for top
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius (180 if you're using fan bake).  Spray 12 muffin tins.
  2. Mix polenta and milk in a small bowl, cover, and set aside to stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Saute bacon, onion and chilli until bacon cooked and veges softened.  Remove from heat.
  4. Sift flour and sugar into a large bowl.  Stir in corn kernels, creamed corn and bacon mixture.  Add melted butter, eggs, salt and pepper and polenta mixture and mix until just combined.  You may need to add a dash more milk, if batter not battery enough.  But remember to add only a small bit extra at a time, 'cause you can't take it back out! 
  5. Place a cube of cheese in bottom of each muffin tin.  Spoon batter into tins.  Press second cheese cube into centre of each muffin and sprinkle with grated cheese. 
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. 

22 June 2012

Hot shots, part deux

It's pie time again, but this time of the individual variety.  Over the weekend I made the chicken pie for my Mum, who'd come to stay for a couple of nights.  Wasn't too sure how Harry would take to it, not being a big fan of sauces/gravies etc.  But as we all know, kids will never cease to surprise you, and he loved it.  And asked if I could make it again the next night.  We compromised, left it a few nights, and changed chicken for mince, but the result - winner!  This time the pies were made in wee ramekins, rather than a large pie dish (partly because I only had 2 sheets of pastry left, rather than the 3 required for a large pie), and to be honest I think I preferred them that way.  Remember to spray the ramekins and prick the bottom of the pastry, to ensure even cooking.  I've been informed that we're having the mini-pies again soon, with the chicken filling.  Always happy to serve! 

For the mince filling I just did a kid-friendly bolognese (so no tandoori paste or harissa or anything).  This time I used:

500 g mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp sugar
couple handfuls mushrooms, very finely chopped (to disguise them...)
salt and pepper
splash of red wine
1 tbsp worchester sauce
dollop sweet chilli sauce
1 tin tomatoes
  1. Fry onions, garlic, salt and pepper in a little oil.  Add mince and brown (you may need a little more oil). 
  2. Sprinkle over a little sugar, stir into mince. 
  3. Add 'shrooms, wine and sauces.  Stir to coat mince. 
  4. Add tomatoes, combine, and leave on low to simmer away for a while (ideally an hour), stirring occasionally. 
  5. Spoon into pastry, top with pastry, brush with egg and bake for 20 minutes or so (until pies golden. 
You will have a good amount of mince left over so either make lots of pies (I only made 4), or use it for a spag bol the following night.  You can also freeze the bolognese, for next time you want to make pies. 

12 June 2012

time for a barbee, Gobi-style

I lived in Wellington for 8 years, more than half of that time in a student flat (2-5-4!!).  What's the single most-important thing to students?  (I can hear parents screaming 'good grades', and you're all wrong)  Food.  And drinks to wash said food down with (or as a stand-alone food-replacement).  Problem is, students typically don't have much money.  Which means that once the essentials are bought - beer, wine, hooch and toilet paper - there ain't much left over for fancy dining.  Enter Genghis Khan - Lord of Four Colours and Five Tongues, Supreme Khan of the Mongols, and Saviour of Wellingtonians' appetites.     

There was (and still is) a Mongolian BBQ restaurant, Genghis Khan's, on Marjoribanks St in Mt Vic, where from $15 you could get a mean feed of fresh, tasty Mongolian BBQ, cooked on the massive hotplates in front of you.  Add that it's BYO, carn- and herbivore-friendly and they give you free unlevened Mongol bread, and you can imagine the haven it was in our student days.  I remember many a birthday celebrated around their big round tables, with Sophie, Millie, Kush, Anna, Louise, Rose, Andy, Rosie, Vinnes Dusty and Tom, to name but a few.  Raise your glasses Wellington! 

Anyhoo, moving on to the point I am (albeit slowly) getting to.  Yesterday morning I got an email from Mindfood, with a few recipes suggestions on it.  One was for a Mongolian-style lamb stirfry.  Hello, I thought, Gengys...  We didn't have any lamb in the freezer, but did have plenty of beef, celery in the garden and (randomly) some Chinese five-spice in the pantry.  So, Mongolian beef stirfry it was.  And it was AMAZING.  I mean, we knew it'd be yum, 'cause you can't really go wrong with stirfry - fresh veges, marinade, herbs and spice.  But this was beyond good, and it was the beef that changed it up.  The beef was marinated for an hour or so in the fridge, but the marinade had (in addition to soy sauce etc) an egg, some cornflour and a little baking soda in it.  So when I fried the beef (in batches - very important, don't overload your pan, or they'll just end up boiling in too much juice, without space to brown), the marinade sort of puffed up and went a bit foamy.  The result with beef fried in and lovely marinade coat.  About a quarter of our meat didn't make it into the stirfry, 'cause we kept eating it off the plate...

So, give this a whirl - it was one of the quickest meals I've made in a long time, other than marinating the meat for an hour or so (but it's not like you have to watch it or anything).  And I reckon I'll be doing the beef again, just as a nibble when friends are around, or as something to put in burritos, pitas...  Yum.  Cheers Genghis! 

500 g beef (I sliced up a large piece of rump nice and thin - try to go against the grain)
1 egg, whisked
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cm ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp black bean sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
1 red chilli, chopped
1 tsp five-spice powder
1 onion, diced
veges - we used carrot sticks, mushrooms, broccoli florets, a couple of celery sticks and half a capsicum
fresh herbs - we used mint and thyme
coriander, to serve
oil, for frying
rice or egg noodles
  1. Slice up meat (place in freezer for 15 minutes, as this wil make it a bit firmer, and easier to cut).  Combine egg, garlic, ginger, soy, brown sugar, cornflour and baking soda in a bowl.  Add slices of beef, toss to combine well, cover and refridgerate for an hour (or until you're ready for it). 
  2. Combine black bean sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, chilli and five-spice in a jug with 2 tbsp water.  Set aside - this will be your stir-fry sauce.  If you have some hoi sin sauce, you can use this instead of fish sauce and chilli.  Probably use 1 tbsp of hoi sin. 
  3. Heat a little oil in wok, and start stir-frying your veges.  Once veges are on their way, heat oil in another pan and fry beef in batches.  Transfer to a plate until ready to add to veges (pretty much at the last minute, 'cause you don't want it overcooked). 
  4. Cook noodles, or rice. 
  5. Fold beef and herbs (not coriander) through veges and heat through.  If using noodles, fold these through too, or serve on rice.  Plate up and top with some fresh coriander.     

11 June 2012

Ab Fab dahl-ing

It's been a while.  I've been pretty unadventurous lately, cooking-wise.  Old favourites have been making beloved reappearences, which whilst gastronomically satisfying hardly make for good blog-fodder.  I mean, who want to read a blog entry that says "I remade xyz.  It was good.  I used yellow capsicum in place of green, to give it some colour."  Woop.  So, now you know why it's been so quiet on the bloggery front.  Not because nothing's been a-happening nella mia cucina, but because I've been visiting with old friends. 

However, perusing an Indian cookbook I received for Christmas a couple of years back, I was reminded of the fact that I really like lentils.  I never cook lentils, which smacked me in the face as patently ridiculous.  So, lentils were added to our Friday night menu, in the guise of parippu. 

Parippu is a dhal (lentil curry, also spelled dal, daal and dahl) from south-India, flavoured with coconut and a tarka (seasoning) of fried onion and spices.  The one I made used masoor dhal, which are red lentils.  Because they are split they cook faster than other lentils and don't usually require any pre-soaking (other lentils do, so always check your recipe/packet). 

We took the prepared dhal to KB's mum and dad's for dinner, along with rice and garlic roti, and it was tasty.  I think next time I'll add in a little more salt, and perhaps a teaspoon of sugar, but other than that, it was fabulous dahling!!   

225 g masoor dhal
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 tomato, roughly chopped
400 ml coconut milk
2 green chillies, chopped
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander (I used garam masala, as ran out of ground cori)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I used yellow)
1 onion, finely chopped
fresh coriander leaves
rice + roti, to serve
  1. Put lentils into heavy-based saucepan with 500 ml water.  Add roughly-chopped onion, tomato, coconut, chillies and ground spices. 
  2. Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are cooked to soft mush (these lentils don't hold their shape when cooked).  This takes about 30 minutes.  If all the liquid has evaporated before your lentils are sufficiently cooked, add boiling water. 
  3. For the tarka, heat oil in small saucepan over low heat.  Add the seeds, cover and allow the seeds to pop.  Add finely-chopped onion and fry over low heat until golden brown. 
  4. Pour seasoned onions into simmering lentils, season with salt (and maybe stir through a little sugar) and cook for further 5 minutes. 
  5. Serve with rice and roti.