Saturday, 6 September 2014

Sweetcorn & spring onion... eggy... thing

Well, I started with this: Corn, cheddar & scallion strata, from Smitten Kitchen. I had spring onions to use, and some fresh corn, and there are always eggs and cheese around. I'm not sure where "I made this" morphs into "I tweaked this" and on into "I made something vaguely like this". I think I am probably in the latter camp.

Eggs aren't a family meal in this house, with husband not eating them, but Small and I love them. As Small has been off-colour lately, I was trying to tempt her appetite back, and this sounded good. What I ended up making was a corn and spring onion omelette/frittata with breadcrumbs and cheese, which was successful in that it was hoovered up.

I always have breadcrumbs in the freezer, from trying to be thrifty/anti-food-waste with the ends of bread. I don't often have a loaf of bread, and that was the case today, but I was glad to use one of the umpteen bags of crumbs clogging up my drawers. It gave the omelette more body but also a softness compared to the can-be-rubbery-ness of well-cooked egg.

I used a whole small cob of fresh corn, kernels cut and then boiled for 90 sec in the microwave. Also two medium spring onions, finely sliced. While I softened them in a frying pan, I whisked up two eggs with a little milk, and grated some cheese. I added most of the breadcrumbs (a good handful) to the veg in the pan, and saved a little for the top, and did the reverse with the cheese (a little in the pan, most saved). I added the egg to the pan, didn't stir, and then when it was halfway set I sprinkled the cheese and crumbs on top. The panful was finished off under the grill to melt the cheese and brown the crumbs.

Next time on this version? three eggs (needs more depth) and go with the idea of a little mustard or mayo whisked in to the eggs. I'd love to try the "strata" idea and will just have to get organised to freeze so I don't have it for lunch every single day for a week.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Feijoada (Brazilian pork stew)

Second recipe in a row that's Not Cake. See? I can do it.

Another BBCGF recipe, again not on the website yet, but there are a million recipes for feijoada out there, describing it as pork & black bean stew. Mine was different, because I forgot to put the black beans in... did most of the prep earlier in the day but decided not to drain the beans as I had no more fridge space, then during cooking got sidetracked by dish size issues, and forgot them. (That said, due to the dish size issues I don't know where I would have put them...)

 "Start by getting your biggest flameproof casserole" begins the recipe. Which is a fairly poor way to start if, like me, you have only one flameproof casserole dish and it's only medium sized. So my first tip for next time is to make only 4 portions, not 6. I *think* it's a 2.6 litre dish, and this recipe left it brim-full without the beans.

In any case, the result was a lovely, slow-cooked dish with tender meat, soft veg, and a nice thick sauce. It was very tasty and tangy, and extremely satisfying.

I don't think there are many adjustments to be made to the taste, as we thought it was pretty good. Maybe a bit orange-heavy, as it was very reminiscent of pork in orange sauce, but that's not necessarily bad. I'd like to try it with the black beans before making any changes. I also omitted celery this time as I didn't have any. The dumplings were fluffy but would benefit from some salt, and I'm not sure about the extra polenta on the outside which was very crunchy. I wonder whether they really need buttermilk or could just use yoghurt, as you have to buy more buttermilk than you need and then have to find a way to use it.

Update: on reheating for the next time, I added the beans. They are definitely worth adding, bulk it out and tone down the orange a bit. I don't think I'll tweak anything next time except the dumplings.

Ingredients for 6, including dumplings but omitting the onion relish from the original recipe.

900g diced pork shoulder
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped.
3 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp each cumin, coriander, allspice
1 pork stock cube
2 400g tins tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 orange, zest & juice
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 red chillies, halved lengthwise & seeded or not, as you prefer
2 400g tins black beans, drained & rinsed
400g sweet potato, peeled & chopped
2 peppers, chopped

100g chilled butter, cubed
200g self raising flour
140g polenta
140g tinned sweetcorn (small can), drained
0.5 tsp bicarb
75ml buttermilk (or yogurt/sour cream?)
1 egg, beaten

Brown the meat in batches. Soften the onion & celery with the oregano & bay leaves. Add the spices, wait a minute, then add browned meat, plus tomatoes, orange, cocoa, vinegar, sugar, chillies, stock cube. Simmer 1 hour.

Add sweet potatoes, peppers, and simmer for  another 30 mins.

Meanwhile: Rub flour & butter to breadcrumbs, mix in polenta, bicarb and sweetcorn. Add buttermilk & most of egg (reserve some to brush tops). Mix to a workable dough, split into 12 and roll into balls, coating in more polenta.

Preheat oven to 180°C (fan). Stir beans into casserole, taste & season. Put 6 dumplings on casserole, and the rest on parchment/greaseproof in a tin, then brush them with the remaining egg. Bake for 25 mins.

Preparing ahead: in various snatched moments during the day I combined the tomatoes, orange, sugar, chillies, cocoa and stock cube; peeled and chopped the onion, sweet potato and pepper; combined the spices. But with the batch browning of meat ahead of the long cooking time, this is really a weekend recipe even with the prep.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Spanish roast chicken

Hot off the press - this is a BBC Good Food magazine recipe, and I'm a subscriber so this issue has only just hit the shops :)

It's paprika-covered roast chicken, but with potates, chorizo and chickpeas in the roasting pan with lemon, garlic, stock and white wine. I really don't think quantities are that vital, but it was a 1.4kg chicken, 800g potatoes, 200g chorizo, 2 tins of chickpeas, 2 lemons, a whole head of garlic, a glass of white wine and the same of chicken stock. All pretty standard - for reference, I used Revilla chorizo and it was fab, not too spicy but very tasty.

Rub the chicken with paprika, oil & salt, and stuff with 1 lemon, halved. Cook the chicken, chorizo (chunks) and potatoes (chunks or use small ones) in a big pan under foil for 30 mins (180°C fan). Remove foil, baste chicken, add other lemon (in wedges) and garlic (peeled cloves), roast for another 30 mins. Add stock & wine, mix everything around, and do a final 30 mins. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving. Original recipe suggests serving with yogurt with paprika, lemon & saffron (and adding saffron to the stock) but I didn't do that.

I found that 90 mins was not enough, and we usually do chicken for 1h40-1h45, so would increase the cooking time next time. There was quite a lot of liquid but we ate it from bowls with the chicken carved on top. Some of the potatoes were a bit solid (which seemed odd having been roasted for so long) so I'd chop them a bit smaller next time, maybe 1" or so. Hubby felt there was too much garlic in terms of whole cloves, but it didn't seem to add to the taste. Next time I would remove the chicken for carving then squish a couple of the roasted cloves and stir them in before serving.

When we'd finished, I stripped the chicken carcass and put the meat in with the other leftovers for the next day. It was even better - tangy and juicy, and reheated well.

For a really easy version I think I would use bone-in chicken thighs (and lose 1 lemon), parboil the potatoes, and make the other changes above. I wonder whether a few salty black olives stirred in before serving would also be good?