Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mac and Cheese Sliders

Mac and Cheese isn’t really considered healthy, and well it is pretty much starch with starch with cheese, so not really helping out with the 5+ a day vegetable intake that is recommended. So why not gild the lily and coat patties of Mac & Cheese in some tasty potato starch (instant mash potato), fry the little cheese pasta goodness and slide it into a soft bun with some hot sauce and lettuce. Why not indeed, a total carb overload, bread, pasta, flour based sauce, not at all bad for you, well not your taste buds anyway.

Cook to the packets instructions, I prefer the small elbow to the large. Take care not to overcook. Strain and dump into a large bowl. I think I used about 300 grams of pasta.

Streaky bacon
Slice up into little lardons and place in a hot oven until the fat has started to render out and crisp up around the edges, don’t make it too crispy otherwise you’ll have little bacon bullets in your pasta. Tip the bacon, fat and all, on top of the strained pasta and stir through.

Cheese Sauce
750 ml milk (whole milk please)
Bay Leaf
Onion (peeled and quartered)

Place all of the ingredients in a pot and put over a low heat, allow it to gently simmer for ten minutes or so, be careful not to scald the milk. Strain into a jug for easy pouring.

Over a medium heat melt 3 tablespoons of butter and then stir in 3 heaped tablespoons of flour, stir until the flour has cooked through, make sure not to colour the roux too much. Pour in a portion of the milk and whisk until it has incorporated and begins to thicken, repeat until all of the milk is incorporated. Cook until thick, stirring often. If the white sauce is lumpy, don’t worry just keep stirring and cooking, the starch in the flour will eventually hydrate and the the sauce will become smooth.

Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in an egg, and two cups of cheese, I like to use a combination of strong flavourful cheese and good melting cheese.

Pour the cheese sauce into the bowl with the pasta and stir through making sure it is evenly coated, taste and season as needed.

Now you can spoon this into a baking dish, top with some crumbs and cook in a hot oven for about half an hour and you’ll have some tasty mac & cheese, or you could wait for it to cool and transfer it to some containers and place in the fridge. When the mix has set and is completely cold remove from the fridge and spoon into ring molds, pressing down with the back of a spoon to make little slider patties, carefully coat each patty in potato starch (instant potatoes).

Heat a good amount of oil in a heavy based frying pan and cook the patties until they are golden brown on each side, you could probably deep fry if you wish but I find shallow frying works perfectly well. Allow the patties to drain on some kitchen towels and serve in a slider bun with shredded iceberg lettuce and hot sauce.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Corn and chicken soup

Well I had caught this winters bug and found myself feeling rather sorry for myself and with a bit of time to kill, as well as some bugs, nothing does a better job than a hearty corn soup or a chicken soup. As I was not completely bed ridden, rather just inconvenienced to feel like a steam roller was trying to escape from my face, I mustered up as much energy as I could and put far too much effort into this chicken-corn soup, but it was worth it, the time taken to reduce the liquid down to a thick silky soup was well used to prepare a hot toddy or two to sooth my scratchy throat.

Measurements are volumetric for you today also, well in the two main ingredients anyway, one litre of stock, and one litre of corn kernels, the end result is about 700 ml of soup. It’s all rather simple to begin with, take a pot and add to it: two chicken thighs, a carrot, bunch of parsley, thyme, dried chilli, bay leaves, peppercorns, the green parts of spring onions and one litre of chicken stock. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, cook until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove the thighs from the pot and move them to a bowl and cover with cling-film. Strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the solids, transfer the liquid back to the pot along with the corn kernels.

Frankly it’s winter and I used frozen corn, when the corn has warmed through use a stick blender to purée the mixture, pass through a fine sieve then the remaining solids through a fine mouli, the end result should be a smooth liquid free of kernel skins and a volume of about 1.5 litres, pour this back into the now clean pot and simmer until it has thickened and reduced, I ended up with 700 ml of soup at the right consistency. When the soup has thickened adjust the seasoning, shred the chicken thigh meat and add to the soup, bring it back to a simmer and serve with some spring onion garnish and a good drizzle of a quality chilli oil.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Whipped cream and kedgeree

I’ve posted about kedgeree before, but this time I’ve tried something a little different, this time I added a little garnish of savoury whipped cream to the final dish, yes whipped cream, the heat from the curry-fishy-rice melts the cream into its crevices and makes a heavenly sauce. It is a little odd at first look to see a quenelle of cream perched upon a very savoury dish slowly melting and mingling flavours, fresh lemon zest and parsley folded into the salted whipped cream does a great job of brightening the whole dish, and it doesn’t take long for your brain to get over thinking cream equals sweet.

Serves 2, with a little leftover for lunch.

2 eggs
6-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced into quarters
1 cup of rice, Basmati is good
1 tbsp of good curry powder or paste
Half a red onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced
500g smoked fish, flaked into large chunks
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp butter
100–150 ml cream

Put the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water, bring the boil and cook for 5 minutes, drain and run over cold water, set aside. One egg is diced and tossed through the rice, the other is sliced into quarters for garnish.

Cook the rice until it’s just barely cooked, we don’t want it too well done as it will turn to mush when stirred later. When cooked, spread out on a sheet pan and leave to cool.

Take a bunch of parsley (leave some for garnish) and chiffonade. Whip the cream with a good pinch of salt to soft peaks and fold through the lemon zest and parsley, place in a container and let it sit in the fridge while the rest of the dish is made.

Sauté the onion and and chilli in the butter until softened and the onion is translucent. Add the curry and cook until fragrant, be careful not to burn it. Toss the rice into the pan and carefully stir through making sure to evenly coat the rice, add the fish, tomatoes, lemon juice and diced egg and gently mix until everything is heated through.

Serve a generous amount in a shallow bowl with a couple of the egg quarters and spoon on a quenelle of the cream.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cauliflower and Flank

Cauliflower sliced into quarters and tossed in Ras El Hanout with a little olive oil to help the spice mixture stick, placed on a roasting pan and cooked at 180ºC until the thickest part of the stem is tender (about 30-40 minutes). Then divided into bite-sized florets served whole and larger pieces passed through a mouli resulting in a coarse mash and then given a little body with some olive oil and seasoned.

Flank steak is simply seasoned with salt and pepper, roasted in a hot pan with an appropriate amount of butter (read: large amount), cooked over a high heat, constantly basted, turned every 30-60 seconds until it reaches a medium-rare temperature, then covered and left to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Salsa verde is made by finely chopping parsley, basil and capers together, then mixing in a bowl with some olive oil, cider vinegar and dijon mustard. Season with salt to taste.

I had the pleasure of attending the Visa Wellington on Plate launch and this year looks like it's going to be a cracker so make sure to get in and book your place in the limited seat functions, and take advantage of the other great deals that are going to be around, I'll be found guzzling down oysters on Cuba St.