Sunday, 28 February 2010

Chili con Carne - It's in the mix!!!

Just when I was able to continue my blog taking pictures with my new mobile instead of my old camera (which fell to the floor) my new mobile too is experiencing technical dificulties and has been sent off to repairs due to a faulty speaker. So I've dug up some old photos from my harddrive of a nice chili con carne I made last year. This is emergency cooking at its best. When you have nothing but minced meat and a can of beans, what do you do but make a nice soothing pot of chili con carne. The key to a good chili is the spicemix. Try out this one:

500g minced meat
1 tbsp oil
1 onion
1 can of tomatoes
1 can of beans (precooked)
Chile (after taste)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dry oregano
2.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
Sour cream

Mix all the spices together.

Fry the onion and the meat. I'm using onions that came already in the tomato sauce. When the meat is browned, add the spices.

Add the tomato. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the beans. Heat them through for 5 minutes.

And there you have it. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some bread on the side.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Ginger-Garlic Paste

If you are in to cooking Indian food, you've probably noticed that many recipes call for ginger-garlic paste. While you can go and find it in Asian food stores, why bother paying the extra money for a product with limited shelflife when you can make a product at home for virtually no money and in no time which will last you at least a year. All you need is:
50g peeled garlic
50g ginger, washed and chopped in smalled pieces
250ml water

Peel the garlic and chop the ginger in smaller pieces. You don't need to peel the ginger, just wash it well and cut off any dodgy parts.

Put it in blender, pour the water over.

And blend it until there are no big chunks left.

Now here's the clever part. Get one of those plastic bags for making ice cubes. Use a funnel to carefully pour it in (this might be a bit messy, but you'll get there). Then freeze the batch and take out as much of the (almost) fresh ginger-garlic paste as you need whenever you need it. It'll last at least a year in the freezer.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Fish Soup

So I tried to make fish soup. Something I had never tried before. And it was so much simpler than I thought it would be and is quite tasty if I may say so myself. I was going through my freezer and found the prawn shells from the other day when I was making pad thai. So I thought I'd give the old fish soup a try. You obviously don't have to go out and buy lots of prawns just to peel them. It just gave and extra dimension to the soup. The fish I'm using is hake but any white meated fish will do. My local fish monger said the best piece for a soup would be the area around the head where the jaws are. So that's the one I bought.
Empthy, raw prawn shells (optional)
1 clove garlic
1 cup of water
2 carrots
1 leek
2-3 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
1 glass of white wine
1 l fish fumet (stock)
400g hake
200 g raw prawns, peeled
150 g peas
Mini Pasta (Optional)

I fried the prawns in a bit of olive oil. Crushed a clove of garlic under a heavy pot and threw it in without removing the peel.

When the shells had changed colour I poured in the water and let it simmer for 5 minutes, turned off the heat and let it cool off a bit.

Then I strained it and discarded the shells.

I chopped the veggies finely.

I threw them all in the pot except the garlic. Sweated it until the leek and onion started to get translucent. Then I added the garlic, fried that for a minute and poured in the white wine. I let the wine reduce to half.

Then I added the stock made from the prawn shells.

The chicken fumet.

While I waited for the stock to reach a boil, I prepared the fish and prawns. As soon as the stock started simmering, I added the fish.

After about 10 minutes I added the peas, which were frozen. So I waited for the soup to come to a simmer again...

... before adding the prawns.

Then I added the mini pasta and let it all simmer without reching a hard boil for about 5 minutes.

And there it is, my very first fish soup.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Beef Stir Fry

This recipe is a quick stir fry which you can whip together in 20 minuts. So please don't give me that "I haven't got time to cook"-excuse and start chopping. Ok, there is a bit of preparation in chopping the ginger, garlic, chili and coriander, but even slow cooks can do that in 5 minutes. It's taken from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food campaign. If you're not familiar with that, his philospohy is that you should learn a simple recipe, master it and then pass it on to a couple of friends or family, so they can learn to cook it and pass it on to their friends. This is my bit then, passing on the recipe. Cook it and impress your friends. Then teach them how to cook it. This is, in fact, what I'm trying to do with this blog in general - showing recipes for you to cook and pass on. Give it a try, it's easy, fast and even quite healthy. Read more about The Ministry of Food here :
Ingredients (4 pers.):
2 cups of basmati rice
3 cups of water
Small bunch of fresh cilantro
3 cm of fresh ginger
1/2 chili
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 spring onions
350 g beef
1 tbsp sesamo oil
2 tbsp neutral oil
1/2 jar of Oyster sauce or black bean sauce (from an Asian food shop)
1/2 lime
1 large egg
Soy sauce

Before you start, put your rice to boil. Peel the garlics (easier by crushing them with your hand or a pan first) and the ginger. Remove the seeds from the chili if you don't want it too hot. Wash and dry the cilantro. Cut the top half off and reserve for later. The fresh ingredients are key to this recipe.

Chop everything, including the cilantro stalks, fine (use a food processor if you have one).

Cut your beef in fine strips against the fibre. On this picture you see the fibres clearly as the straight lines on the meat below. By cutting the fibres you won't end up with chewy balls of meat in your mouth.

Slice the spring onion. Mix the meat with the onion and chopped ginger/garlic/cliantro.

Add the sesamo oil. This oil has a nice nutty flavour which adds a nice asian dimension to everything. You can find it in Asian food shops. You can prepare all this in advance and leave the meat to marinate for a couple of hours in advance. Just remember the meat shouldn't be too cold when you fry it.

When the rice is done, rinse it under cold water. This will remove some of the starch on the rice so it won't clog together when you fry it.

Get a large pan or work smoking hot and add a bit of neutral oil. Throw in the meat and keep stirring. It's important the pan is as hot as possible. Don't remove from heat while frying. Keep stirring until the meat is cooked. Should take no more than a couple of minutes. Add the oyster or black bean sauce and heat it through. Squeeze the half lime over it and remove from heat. Pour it in to a bowl and reserve.

Without cleaning the wok or pan, add a bit of more oil. Crack the egg into the wok and scramble it. Add soy sauce to taste.

When the egg is scrambled and coagulated, add the rinsed rice. Stir and fry it for a minute or two.

Serve the rice with the meat on top. Decorate with some fresh cilantro reserved from the beginning and a small wedge of lime.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Valentine Chocolate Cake

Valentine... chocolate, romance, and some more chocolate.... here's how I plan to seduce.
Sponge cake:
3 eggs, separated in whites and yolk
40g of dark chocolate
65g caster sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
150 dark chocolate
250g mascarpone cheese
1 tsp instant coffee
1 banana
100 g dark chocolate
1 dl cream
1 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp butter

Prepare the ingredients for the sponge cake.

Beat the egg whites until they become white and stiff. Make sure they are not too cold (whipping cream should be very cold, egg whites should not) and that the bowl and equipment are totally clean. A little amount of grease and you won't be able to make the whites stiff. Be careful not to over-whip as well. Set aside.

Beat the yolks and caster suger until white.

Add the cocoa powder.

Melt the chocolate and add it. It shouldn't be too hot, but not too cold either. Quickly whisk it in before it hardens.

Finally, turn a bit of the beaten egg whites in order to lighten it. Then a bit more and a bit more. Don't over stir it. It should be light and airy.

Grease your form very well. I just happened to have a heart shaped one. You can always make a bigger portion, bake it and then cut it out in a heart shape later.

Pour in the dough.

Bake at 180ÂșC for 20 minutes. When you take it out it will probably deflate a bit. That's normal.

For the filling. Melt the chocolate, add the coffee.

Make sure the mascarpone cheese is room temperature before you mix it in or it will solidify the chocolate and you'll have a lumpy mess. Should it happen, you can always heat it very carefully in a microwave to dissolve it and then let it cool down.

Once the base is cooled down, cut it through with a serated knife and carefully lift the top part off.

Slice the banana and spread it over the base.

Spread the filling over the banana. Leave a centimetre at the edges, so that when you put the top part on and apply a little preasure, it won't run out.

Carefully put the top part back on.

For the icing, mix the cream and the finely chopped chocolate and heat it carefulle in the microwave or over bain-marie. Stir to dissolve the chocolate.

Add the butter and coffee.

Apply a bit of pressure on top to squeeze out the filling and make an even surface.

Pour the ganache over the cake and spread it carefully. Let it cool of for 30 minutes minimum. Happy valentine!