Thursday, 30 April 2009

Beef Rendang

I said to Lou that I'd seems like ages since I'd done so (my stag got in the way!).

She wanted something healthy. Ooops!

Anyway, I've always loved the blog Rasa Malaysia, and wanted to cook something from there. So just before leaving work I did a trawl and found the thing I was looking for. Visit the site and take a look - it's great.

I had most of the ingredients at home.....not that that stopped me from passing through China town for some Lemon Grass and yet another jar of pickled something :o)

I used red onions rather than shallots - looks a bit like the Tandoor mix from a few weeks ago. I'd never properly smashed lemon grass before either (only chopped it)....superb flavours given out and had that proper 'grassy / fuzzy' texture that you see so often in real Malaysian dishes.

Half way through - plenty of liquid left to bubble down....but.....

...I'd almost ended up supping it rather than letting it boil down !

The final effort. Superb flavours. Unfortunately it was still quite 'wet'. I've yet to cook a Rendang that goes properly dry and has that fantastic coating of lemon grass and where the meat simply melts in the mouth. However, that may be because Lou and myself became far too impatient and simply had to eat it !

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Lamb Souvlaki

What a lovely weekend weather wise. Lou had a brainwave as we drove back from North London. Let’s have a quick BBQ! So – given we were travelling through North London, then the idea of a Lamb Kebab took hold (you’ll understand if you’ve ever driven down Green Lanes).

We pulled up at one of the hundred or so food shops and I popped in. I have always wanted to stop at one of these places – the display of produce outside always seems so fantastic. And it was. I was particularly impressed with the 5 different types of green peppers, including the mild jalapeƱo style ones (that BBQ very well). The shop also had a section on dried pulses and lentils etc. that would put any Indian cash and carry to shame. Oh – and did I mention a great fresh cheese and olive counter stuffed at the back of the shop.

I bought some Lamb and decided on the way home to try and do some Souvlaki . I used the base idea from the Real Greek cookbook. Plainly the problem with last minute preparation is stuff/time you don’t have…so the marinade was only achieved with dried thyme and not much time (!), and the Tzatziki was simply plain yoghurt (no mint or cucumber). The pita ended up as a packed of chilli tortillas (hence the reddish colour), but we roasted some cherry toms, slowly char grilled the kebabs and stuffed it all together – and it was actually very nice.

So…the 1st proper BBQ of 2009 (not withstanding the Tandoor) was a success – although we did end up eating indoors as the temp dropped when the sun went down. (Q L42)

PS: The Real Greek cookbook. In my opinion it’s not worth it. Some designer had a great idea to play around with the chapters. It’s not based on starters / mains / fish etc., but on ‘Festivals’ / ‘Islands’ etc. I’ve seen this idea work a few times – but it doesn’t with this book – very frustrating to find a recipe – especially as there is not often a picture, so you often don’t have any idea what you are shooting for. In fact – as much of a disappointment as the restaurant . Time for a new Greek cook book methinks!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Ma Po Tofu

Having been totally fascinated by Chinese cooking for some time - I feel I'm getting the hang of it a bit. The key is to recognise that China is a huge place - and thus it's time to get regional (which is about the same as saying that Irish and Italian food are actually different!)

Any dish called 'Sichuan' in a typical british Chinese quite simply isn't. Buy the brilliant Sichuan Cookbook by Fuchia Dunlop and read all about it. It's not difficult - but a good Asian supermarket is a boost for a few key ingredients.

One dish that always stands out in any examination of Sichuan cooking is Ma Po Tofu. It's the dish that awoke my senses to how good fresh Tofu is. A creamy Tofu, with braised minced pork belly, served in a lip tingling Sichuan pepper sauce. Awesome. If you've never experienced the delight of 'proper' Sichuan pepper - it's pungent fragrant flavour and the slow lip and tongue numbing affect are superb. Hunt it out......

Anyway - this recipe was from the great Rasa Malaysia blog. Thanks.

Some key ingredients....(The Sichuan pepper corns are direct from China - 'cos I'm very lucky).

My new favorite ingredient...(rubish photo)

On it's way

A little side dish - Pak Choi with Oyster sauce

The fineshed article.....and it was not too bad...

A little close up. I added a few fried dried Sichuan chillis

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Tandoori Chicken

I have a great bunch of friends. For my 40th - they bought me a Tandoori Oven !

So..this is the story of when I invited them over for a test run!

A fresh garam marsala in the making......

My trusty spice grinder.....just about holding together (but only just)...

The more.....the merrier......

An arty aubergine shot........

First fry the aubergines.....Boy how much oil do these chaps consume?

Not confident enough on the Tandoor - we also did a Rogon Josh from the awesome Food of Indian cookbook...part of the 'Food of' series and simply excellent. This Rogon was no exception....tender lamb and bursting with flavour.

The aubergines were braised in pickling spice mixture (inc fennel seeds and Nigella seeds). Served cold I though they were the star of the show

Chick peas......with a strong flavour of well cooked (browned?) onions. Lovely.

Can you spot the use of the Tandoori colouring for that authentic look! 24 hours of marinading in a Lemon / yoghurt based marinade

Firing it up..........

And here we go.....
(Made a bit of a mistake - should have waited at least an hour longer - as the chicken took way too long. Still very juicy though)

The finished Rogon

A Dhal Makhini

The finished chicken....

A little Aloo Bhaji on the side

And Nic hunted out the biggest plate in the house to show his appreciation !

Next time.......will I attempt the whole Leg of Lamb? Maybe - but I'll wait for the Tandoor to warm through a bit more (2 - 3 hours!)...

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Left over sausage pasta

Had a few Toulouse sausages left over from the Cassoulet.

I LOVE Parmesan....

And the final outcome...lovely