Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stuffed baby aubergine (eggplant)

I saw a pack of 8 baby aubergine at the shop the other day and bought them on a whim, with no idea what to do with them. Finally, I decided to wing it and try something I vaguely remembered from one or other cooking show on the BBC food channel.

Ingredients :

8 baby aubergine, sliced from tip to almost stem in a cross.

1 medium onion, finely diced
heaped teaspoon finely diced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons finely diced fresh parsley
about half a cup of finely grated Grano Padano or Gruyere cheese

Fry the onions in some butter until translucent and starting to go brown (about 10 minutes or so). Remove from the heat and place into a bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix. Add enough olive oil to just start combining all the ingredients and then, using a teaspoon, stuff the mixture into each slit on the aubergines.

Bake in a preheated oven at around 180C for about 20 - 30 minutes, until a toothpick easily goes through the skin of the aubergine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fishy mac 'n cheese

Sounds like something out of a nightmare doesn't it? This dish came about because I wanted J&C to eat more diversely. C had an aversion to fish in any form so one day I sneaked it into a baked pasta dish while she wasn't looking. It was a huge hit.

It's a really simple dish to make.
Boil your pasta until it is done. I used about 3/4 of a 500g bag of pasta. Any round tube shape will do.

While your pasta is boiling, dice an onion and a handful of mushrooms (I used about 6 medium sized brown mushrooms) and a sweet bell pepper. Fry this in a tiny bit of butter and olive oil, adding garlic, salt and pepper. Right at the end, open your can of fish (I used a large can of pink Alaskan salmon), dump it in the pan and smoosh it down to warm through. Then, take it off the heat and add some parsley.

Then make a white sauce. For this white sauce, I melted 50ml of butter, mixed in 50ml of flour and cooked it for about 5 minutes or so. Then I added 500ml milk and slowly heated it through until the mixture thickened. Then I added about 2 to 3 cups of grated cheddar cheese, some salt and pepper, stirring with a whisk until all the cheese melted. Sometimes if my sauce is too thick, at this point I add another 250ml of milk and mix it through.

To assemble the dish, layer half the pasta into an ovenproof dish, pour over about 1/4 of the cheese sauce. Then add the fish mixture and pour over about half the sauce you have left. Then add the remaining pasta, pouring the leftover sauce over the top. Sprinkle about 1 cup of grated cheese over the top and bake in a preheated oven until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Serve with garlic rolls, a salad....or eat as is.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Springbok fillet

Last night for supper we had fillet of Springbok. First time I have ever attempted to make this. I called The MIL, she of the old fashioned and awesome cooking skillz. Her yearly roast leg of Springbok is just to die for. Anyhow she had no idea what to tell me as she's never made it either. So, I took my oven roasted beef fillet recipe and have adapted it for the Springbok fillet.

Take some olive oil, rub it all over the meat and then sprinkle with whatever spices. On fillet I use a combination of raw chopped garlic, parsley, pepper and ginger. For the springbok, I used a couple of pinches of Nomu's African spice rub. It is a mixture of cumin, fenugreek, all spice, coriander, ajowan, and cardamom. Rubbed it into the meat after rubbing with olive oil.
As I bake my fillet, I pan fry it in some olive oil first, to get some nice colour onto the meat. Make sure you have your pan on a really hot setting, add a tiny splash of olive oil and when the oil is smoky hot, carefully place the meat into the pan. Turn almost immediately and then bake in a preheated oven until it is done to your likeness. As I didn't want the meat to shrink dramatically, I preheated my oven to 150C and baked for about 20 minutes for bloody, another 10 minutes more for pink. I like my meat screaming in agony as I cut into it while Himself likes it almost dead. C would devour any piece of meat in front of her cooked or raw so for now I make hers the same as Himself's.

To serve, let the meat rest for a few minutes then slice.

That's Himself cutting the meat into slices.
To serve with the meat, I quartered a small head of cabbage, peeled and thickly sliced some carrots, potatoes and marrows and steamed until done. J was beside himself when he realised that we were having meat for lunch (he decided a few months ago that he's a that eats sausage, lasagna, chicken and fish) so I microwaved a bag of mixed cauliflower and broccoli as well. We get these really convenient bags of mixed veg at the store which you can pop into the microwave for a few minutes, add salt and a knob of butter and you are done.

While the meat was in the oven, I whipped up a quick mushroom sauce in the pan I'd browned the meat in. Slice a handful of mushrooms, add to your pan and stir fry with some garlic until the mushrooms turn brown. Add about 30ml of white wine to deglaze the pan and once the alcohol has cooked away, pour in 250ml of cream, adding salt and pepper to taste. Let that all boil down slowly until the cream thickens and keep warm.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beef Pie

As I say up at the top near the title of this blog, mostly I wing food. I winged it last night and it was quite edible! I made beef pie and dessert. All round it was a hit with Himself and J&C.

Basic ingredients :

About a kilo of Angus beef steaks, cubed

2 onions, diced
3 stalks celery, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
3 marrows, sliced into thin rings
1 tbs finely diced ginger

half a punnet of mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs crushed garlic
salt and pepper
bay leaves
crushed mustard seeds

1 cup rice
half a carrot and marrow, grated
4 mushrooms, grated
about 2 tablespoons cream of mushroom soup powder
2 cups water

Start out by sweating down the onions and celery in some olive oil, then add the ginger and garlic and braise until the onions start going brown. Add the bay leaves and cubed meat, browning nicely. Add some stock or water, bring to a boil then turn down and simmer until the meat is tender. Add the sliced marrow, carrots and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender and there isn't too much liquid. Add the cream at this point and if there is too much liquid, thicken with a bit of cornstarch. Season and pour meat mixture into an ovenproof dish, topping with puff pastry brushed with some melted butter. Bake in a preheated oven until the puff pastry is golden and fluffy.

Meanwhile, pour one cup of rice, two cups of water, 2 tbs soup and some salt into a pot, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until the rice is done then add the grated vegetables and mix through.

Dessert consisted of filling 4 meringues with some strawberries. Earlier in the afternoon I diced some strawberries and mixed in some castor sugar and some lemon juice and then left it to marinade in the fridge. After supper, I mixed some more castor sugar with some smooth creamed cheese, put a spoonful into each meringue and topped that up with 1/4 of the strawberries and a dollop of the sweetened creamed cheese.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tomatoe sauce

Such a basic thing to make you would think. Tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, spices, sugar, water, sugar....

I first started experimenting with my own tomatoe sauce about a year ago. I chucked a can of diced tomatoes into a pot and stirred. Then I added some spices and stirred. This recipe follows on from that first experiment. Now I use fresh tomatoes and herbs, and stir.

I used 4kg of fresh tomatoes, 2 400g cans of skinned, diced Italian tomatoes, about 20 small onions (the ones you'd use to make pickled onions), garlic, celery, salt and pepper.

Cut a cross in the bottom of each tomatoe and pour boiling water from a kettle over the tomatoes and leave them to soak.

Peel the purple onions (this is the first time I have used purple onions in my sauce, normally I use white onions), then slice and dice them. While doing this, pour quite a large glug of good quality olive oil into your pot and heat up on the stove. Once the oil is hot enough, add the small onions and coat with the oil. Then add the purple onions and diced celery. Sweat them down until the small onions start caramelising. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes or so on a low heat, making sure that the garlic does not burn or go brown.

Peel the tomatoes, making sure to cut out the hard core. Add the fresh tomatoes to the onions and garlic. Open the two cans of Italian tomatoes and add to the pot as well.

Then cook until the tomatoes start breaking apart easily with a spoon. At this point I turn up the heat to boil off at least half of the liquid. Then I blitz the sauce down in a food processor and return to the pot to cook off any liquid that still remains.

I freeze the sauce in an ice tray, pop the sauce blocks into a container in the freezer and use whenever I need tomatoe sauce.
For pizza, mix in some freshly chopped parsley and basil and a bit of sugar.
For spaghetti sauce, mix in freshly chopped basil, some sugar and chilli.
For chilli con carne, add chilli, sugar and Mrs Ball's chutney.
Experiment with different flavours.