Saturday, 12 August 2017

Quick Infusing Oils and Fats.

NAME: _Spiced / Infused Oils

This is a longish post that only covers the subject in a general way. You can find precise recipes online if you want them, or do as I've done and sacrificed the occasional cup of oil or butter in the name of experimentation... There are several warnings, not because the processes are dangerous, but because sometimes it's better to have things pointed out and explained in advance rather than learning a painful lesson in retrospect...


INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
(See NOTES.)
Cooking oil, butter, lard, dripping, etc
Salt / Pepper / Spice(s) of choice

SOME SUGGESTED COMBINATIONS:
(Note: Generally aim for around four - six tablespoons of flavouring per cup of oil, plus a teaspoon of salt if you're adding salt. Quantities mentioned below are for flavouring one cup of oil.)
- Plain Chilli Oil - 2tbsp chilli, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp garlic (optional)
- French Chilli oil - 2tbsp chilli, 2tbsp smoked chilli, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp garlic
- Paprika oil - 3 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp salt
- Spanish paprika oil - 2 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp garlic (optional)
- lemon infused oil - 2 - 3 tbsp lemon or lime, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp garlic (optional), 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
- chimichurri style - 2 tbsp parsley powdered, 1 tbsp coriander leaves/roots powdered, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tbsp paprika, 1/2 tbsp garlic
- dill oil - 4 tbsp powdered dill, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp lemon (optional)
- sweet butter - 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp clove, 1/2tsp nutmeg infused into butter

You get the idea - there are a lot of flavour combinations and I've only scratched the surface, listed the ones I make most often. You can even use curry spice powder to infuse an oil with if you want, or Five Spice, or pretty much any combination.


METHOD:
Set some water simmering in a large saucepan, put in a canning mat or old tea towel or something to keep the inner bowl from rattling against the bottom of the saucepan, and in a smaller bowl or saucepan, put your infusion oil and the ingredients, then put that in the simmering water.

You don't want water to get into your oil, but you want the water deep enough to heat all the way up the inner vessel. I find that a four cup Pyrex glass jug is heavy enough to sit on the canning mat and not float up, and plenty big enough to hold a cup or two of oil. My preference is to put the jug into the water while it's still empty, give it time to heat up, and then put the oil and herbs into it. I generally try to fix it so the jug is about three quarters submerged but not yet floating.

Wait for the infusion to get as hot as possible. Generally, you can check the temperature of the oil with a dial or electronic probe type thermometer, or just wait for 20 - 30 minutes to be sure. You want to stir the brew a few times, then let your nose tell you when the maximum aroma is present.


Don't be tempted to directly heat the oil over a burner, use a bowl in a water bath. The reason is that if there's ANY moisture in the herbs and spices and the oil surrounding that moisture gets above the boiling point of water, there will be pockets of steam under the oil which will literally explode hot oil all over you and your kitchen. You may think you can catch the temperature before things get to that stage but there's all sorts of reasons you can fail. A water bath prevents the temperature from getting higher than 100C. Seriously. Don't do it... 


Once that time is past, set the inner container aside and allow the flavourings to settle and the oil to cool, this takes around an hour to two hours I've generally found. Then gently decant the oil for use, and even filter the last of it through a coffee drip filter if you like.

Don't throw away the "sediment" and the little bit of fat it's suspended in, see "SERVING" for some suggested uses.

Also, yes - you CAN use green fresh herbs but because they aren't concentrated, you'll have to use four to ten times as much, and even then, because it's being done at low temperatures, it would take hours for the flavours to infuse and the moisture to evaporate and leave you with a clear oil without a serous amount of sludge at the bottom. You're better off to dehydrate these things, which removes the clouding issue, the slow infusion issue, and results in a powder that can be up to ten times as strongly flavoured as the fresh herb. Save fresh herb processing for when you want to freeze fresh herbs and prevent them oxidising.


In preserving fresh herbs you may want to go to a little extra trouble with preparing them, such as a good rinse in water and vinegar, because once you seal those herbs in a solid fat, you're creating an anaerobic environment in which many bacteria will die, but some known bad guys can flourish if you're not ultra-careful. ALWAYS freeze these fat / herb combinations and if you take any out for use, either use it all or throw the remainder out within a sensible timeframe. (Check out "botulism" if you want any further incentive to do good...)


For solid fats, keep the inner container with your infused fat in a bowl of  warm water and let that cool for the hour or two, (this allows the fat stay liquid for longer and gives the solids more time to settle) then let it set and scrape out clear fat until you hit solids.


SERVING:
These infusions are really versatile and useful. I generally make them for dressing a dish, e.g. paprika oil for drizzling over couscous or rice, for example; Dill oil for drizzling over boiled whole potatoes; Lemon oil for poached or baked fish; And so on. I've drizzled curry oil over fattoush, chimichurri oil over steaks and rissoles. The French serve garlic & chilli oil alongside pizza so that you can drizzle your pizza with extra flavour.

But there are as many uses for infused solid fats. We all know and love herb and herb & garlic butter, but imagine being able to spread curry ghee on savoury pancakes, a knob of caraway and cumin lard melting on pork sausages, or mashed potato with dressing of cinnamon & nutmeg infused butter. There are so many places to try these infused oils and fats, and they add a layer of flavour to any meal.

I've used sweet butter for serving with pumpkin scones, garlic chilli butter on savoury pastry crackers, and have brushed pans of cooked potato gnocchi with dill & cumin oil before topping with bread crumbs and / or cheese and baking that as a side dish to a meal.

In most cases I don't recommend using infused fats as the base fat to fry anything in, as the spices in most cases will burn off and taste horrible.

If I'm making garlic prawns, for example, I might use a light wipe of plain oil in the pan, add prawns and garlic and keep tossing until the prawns are done, then allow the pan to cool from sizzling hot to just hot, add garlic butter or oil, toss, garnish, and serve.

ADD COLOUR:
Use paprika to make a lovely red oil for dressings, turmeric for a yellow, chimichurri (without the paprika) for a green colour. Adjust flavours and colours to suit the meal. They can make the visual and flavour difference between a really good meal and a stupefyingly delicious and amazing looking meal.

"SEDIMENT" PASTE:
Don't forget the paste that's left... By filtering most of the oil that the solids are suspended in after decanting, you're left with an oily paste of the sediments that are generally still loaded with flavour. The paste is very nice to use as part of a wet marinade on meats and vegetables, and a range of other uses.

I've used it to coat cubed meat (along with the rest of a good marinade such as i.e. honey or sugar, salt, and vinegar or lemon) before frying and it gives a decent boost to flavours.

A good paprika or chilli paste (for example) can also have other curry spices (turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, mustard seed, etc) added to it and become a starter base for a curry. Or try oregano, thyme, or sage infused paste plus a bit more oil (or perhaps mixed into tomato paste) to coat vegetables before roasting as a side or main dish.

If you warm the paste, add some oil back to it, then season to taste, you can drizzle it over vegetables or add it to the batter for making small frypan breads (like naan or similar) or add a pat of it to the pan before frying things.

This latter use is not recommended but if you're doing a slow cool fry or confit of something it doesn't burn the flavours. If you read my thoughts about not using the infusions for frying things IN, you may be wondering why I'm okay with adding it to things and then frying those things. The answer is that only the outer layer gets hot when doing this, and due to heat getting conducted away into the food, that layer doesn't get quite as hot.  More importantly - the flavoured fats doesn't stay under intense heat for as long as it would if it was the sole frying agent and things were fried in it.

KEEPING:
I don't recommend keeping any of the oils or pastes for more than a week or two if properly sealed and refrigerated, (but see freezing below) as it's easy enough to make them on demand by dividing the quantities to whatever serving size you need. And frankly, the flavour of fresh made oil beats anything you can get commercially.

FREEZING:
This stuff will freeze, in small tubs or whatever, as mentioned in the METHOD above. I tend to have a small bag or tub full of paprika and dill product (frozen in ice cube trays and then wrapped individually in plastic wrap) another bag with chilli and curry product, and so forth. (That way I save on bags but can tell the cubes apart by colour, as each bag has only two distinctly-coloured varieties.)

FOR PRESERVING HERBS AND SPICES:
If you have fresh herbs, use as much chopped herbs as the oil or fat will hold, allow it to cool, then pour into a foil-lined tub of suitable size and freeze until solid, cut into useful sized cubes, wrap and label them and store in the freezer until needed. Great way to keep stuff like coriander leaves around all year around. Frozen like this in a properly refrigerated environment you should be able to keep these cubes for a year.


In preserving fresh herbs you may want to go to a little extra trouble with preparing them, such as a good rinse in water and vinegar, because once you seal those herbs in a solid fat, you're creating an anaerobic environment in which many bacteria will die, but some known bad guys can flourish if you're not ultra-careful. ALWAYS freeze these fat / herb combinations and if you take any out for use, either use it all or throw the remainder out within a sensible timeframe. (Check out "botulism" if you want any further incentive to do good...)



NOTES:
I saw a lovely post on another cooking group about making infused chilli oil. I realised that besides the slow cold infusion process, there's a much faster process that I use that produces the oil I need (and useful byproducts) in as little as an hour and a half if need be, but more generally two to three hours. (Of which only minutes is spent actually doing anything, the rest is waiting time.)

Many herbs and spices have flavour compounds that are fat-soluble, and oils and fats just love to attract and hang onto them. (There are whole blog pages out there devoted to fat soluble vs water soluble flavours, if you want to research.)

I mainly do this with olive oil, although I can see peanut oil, coconut oil, or any other decent vegetable oil as a carrier for the infusion. There's also nothing to stop you using butter, ghee, lard, dripping, or other solid fats for these recipes, in fact they may be more suitable carriers for the flavours. All of my recipes have usually been made with olive oil, though. Just match your flavours and fats, or try a small taste test before making a larger amount.

The process uses dried and flaked / crushed / powdered herbs and spices, fine ground salt and pepper, a gentle heat extraction, and subsequent decanting plus filtering if desired. There are generally two products, an infused / flavoured oil for use as a dressing or in cooking, and a sediment "paste" of oil and the flavouring.


Don't be tempted to directly heat the oil over a burner, use a bowl in a water bath. The reason is that if there's ANY moisture in the herbs and spices and the oil surrounding that moisture gets above the boiling point of water, there will be pockets of steam under the oil which will literally explode hot oil all over you and your kitchen. You may think you can catch the temperature before things get to that stage but there's all sorts of reasons you can fail. A water bath prevents the temperature from getting higher than 100C. Seriously. Don't do it... 


Suitable herbs spices and so forth include:
chilli, paprika, smoked chilli, smoked paprika, lemon, lime, garlic, onion, cumin, fenugreek, dill, oregano or marjoram, coriander, salt, pepper, and more.

With regard to lemon and lime, I have dehydrated slices of lemon in my pantry, and traditional Middle Eastern "loomi" dried limes, which can be pounded to powder in a mortar, I have dried lemon zest, dried herbs from the garden, plus, of course, the jars of powdered spices you can buy at the store. If you don't have the facilities to dehydrate much of this stuff, it can be found in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Continental food stores.

Salt should plain un-iodised cooking or table salts, pepper fine ground white or black depending on your tastes and what you're trying to achieve, and as free from anti-caking agents as you can get it. Or make your own from salt crystals and flakes using the pestle and mortar. Just try and be sure there won't be additives that will cloud the oil or form food for bacteria.

See the SERVING section for uses for these infusions.


ENJOY!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Mallow Yellow

NAME: _Chicken Molahia Lasagne

I only made two layers of filling, and yes, it does go that lovely
yellow from the curry. Sorry we'd already devoured half of it... 


INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
250g - 500g chicken pieces, your choice dark white or both
40 - 80 fresh mallow leaves
(optional) similar volume of silver beet leaves
1 medium brown onion
3 cloves garlic
1 potato
1 carrot
1/2 cup grated pecorino
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano
salt, pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
chicken stock cube
plain flour
milk
water
olive oil
butter
7 corn tortillas

METHOD:
Wash the mallow leaves (and silver beet if using) well and set aside. Slice the chicken to 1cm square x 3cm long approximately. Chop the onion fine, chop the garlic very fine. Set each aside Grate the cheeses into separate bowls. Peel and dice the potato and carrot into 1cm dice and set aside. Chop the mallow leaves and the silverbeet leaves.

In a heavy base large saucepan place about a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, heat. When hot enough to sizzle, add the onions and fry for about 3 -5 minutes, then add the chicken, fry for another 3 - 5 minutes then add the garlic, potatoes, carrots, cumin, and curry, fry for the same amount of time again. Add the mallow and silverbeet leaves.

Crumble the chicken cube over and add about half a cup to a cup of water, reducing the heat and then let simmer very low for about 30 minutes. You want the vegetable cubes soft but not too soft. (The mallow and silverbeet will be very soft by that stage. Perfect.) Add about two tablespoons of flour made up into a paste, stir through and warm gently until it thickens. Set aside. (You want a fairly stiff consistency to prevent the filling running, but not a floury stodge.)

Prepare an ovenproof dish that's wide enough to lay the tortillas in by brushing lightly with olive oil. Lay down the first layer of tortilla. (I cut two in half and space them round and interleave to make sure and cover all the way to the edge, Maybe cut a square from a spare one if you need to cover a hole in the middle.) Add a layer of the chicken/mallow filling, then lay another layer of tortillas, and so forth, finish with a layer of tortillas.

Melt butter in another saucepan, a splash of olive oil, then add around half a cup to a cup of plain flour, stirring constantly, Add the curry powder and cumin, plus half a teaspoon of salt. Begin adding around a cupful of milk while stirring, then add water to make a very thick roux, add in the grated pecorino cheese and stir until the cheese is all melted.

Pour the mixture over the tortilla layer and bump gently to remove air bubbles, top with parmesan cheese. Bake in a 200C oven for around 45 minutes, turning if your oven has hot spots. (Mine does, so I turn at the 30 minute mark to get all edges more evenly browned.)

SERVING:
Allow to cool and set for a few minutes, then cut and serve.

NOTES:
Very forgiving recipe, I like using chicken but you could use lamb or beef, as long as you trim the fat away. Anyone that's made molahia will recognise the start or the dish as a molahia soup base. That's pretty much what this is, except for adding flour rather than stock or water.

Mallow is a weed. You can find it growing wild, we have some in our garden that we tend to. The better you care for it, the better it grows. Looks like this:

This mallow is our spindly original one. This is about a quarter of the leaves -
just cut the leaf off the stem and wash, then chop into strips for this recipe. 
You can use the seeds and the flowers as well if you want, not in this recipe though. There are other recipes out there online for the seeds / fruits / whatever they are.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Using Lumina Ice-cream Maker

NAME: _Using Lumina Ice-cream Maker




INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
(Using "homely measures, i.e. I read a few recipes and guessed what I'd need. It worked...)
about a cup and a bit of blended loquat fruit
three tbsp raw sugar
about quarter of a cup of water
about quarter of a cup of sweet white wine
about a tsp and a bit of lemon juice

METHOD:
Cut the flower and stalk bits off the washed loquat fruits, took out the seeds and membrane, got enough to make a bit over a cup of blended fruit.

Mixed raw sugar up in hot water until dissolved (this goes way easy if you have a small cocktail or turbo shaker thingie) and added lemon juice and white wine.

It made just short of two cups of mixture,

Added that to the blender, whizzed it to a slightly frothy creamy sort of texture, and then started up the ice-cream machine and poured it in, let it run for 20 minutes and that's really all there was to it.

SERVING:
Are you kidding? It's cooling and delicious, I did exercise some self-control and saved a small tub for our dessert after dinner, apparently (ha!) you can keep this kind of stuff in the freezer for a few months, good luck if it lasts that long... %)

NOTES:
Ice cream maker needs the inner bowl part to be placed in the freezer, ours was in the feeezer for about a week before I got around to trying it out. But apparently 6 - 12 hours is a minimum, and I'm just going to leave ours in the freezer between batches, it isn't costing anything to keep it there, in fact it probably helps even out the temperatures.

After 15 minutes my mixture was probably ready already - instead of sticking to the sides, it slid around with the paddle as it's supposed to, and I let it go a bit longer because I wanted to see if it made a difference - it didn't.

(I saw one really rude review of the machine by someone who used "granny's old recipe" for ice-cream and it got stuck to the inner bowl, but I reckon they might have started with too thick and creamy a mixture. They said the ice cream got stuck, and from what I've just seen of our machine, that can only happen if you use too thick a mix or if you've scrubbed the inner bowl with something scratchy rather than a soft cloth like they recommend. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary.) )

At the end of the exercise, the inner bowl was still cold enough to stick my fingers to it when I cleaned it, and turned the wet cloth to sludge. Keep the cloth wet when cleaning and eventually you'll have a clean bowl to put back in the freezer, and since it's still frozen, you save the energy needed to refreeze it. Okay, you could let it thaw to clean it but that does waste around two kilowatts of energy to refreeze. Your choice. I also put a few fluffy tea towels around the machine because that keeps the room temperature out and hopefully it saved a few more cents of energy.

(I saw another bad review written in very bad English complaining that the ingredients stayed liquid and the person then threw their machine away, seems that the most probable way for that to happen would have been if they didn't read the instructions and put the inner bowl in the freezer. Maybe they expected it to go cold all by itself and thus wasted their twenty-five bucks or whatever these machines cost new. Sucks if you don't RTFM hey? )

So - don't expect miracles from such a basic and tiny machine, but it performed extremely well and is going to become a Thing this summer to make sorbets and ice-creams and things.

PS: I Do NOT get anything for endorsing a product, I just happened to have had the luck to find this machine in an opp shop. This post confers no endorsement and is not associated with ALDI or Lumina.

ENJOY!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Warrigal Pesto

NAME: _Warrigal Pesto




INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
(This is a recipe for Grow Lightly Food Hub Shop, and almost everything can be sourced there. See NOTES.)
Bunch Warrigal Greens (Miner's Lettuce) to make 1 cup wilted greens.
6 - 8 walnuts
1 clove garlic or half a dozen spring garlic shoots
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
3 - 4 tbsp grated Parmesan
Optional sprig or two or parsley.
Optional mint leaf or two.

METHOD:
Blanch the greens by picking the leaves and discarding stems, putting in a bowl, pouring boiling water over them, and leave for around 1 - 2 minutes. This step removes excess oxalic acid from the warrigal greens, and once the time is up, rinse with cold water and press as many leaves as will fit into a 250ml standard cup, that's around about what you'll need for this recipe.


Shell the walnuts, and remove the membrane between the halves. Put in the blender and give a short pulse, don't blitz them too fine as they have to go back for another pulse later on. Put crushed walnut in a bowl and set aside.


Squeeze the lime juice, put in the blender, add the garlic or chopped spring garlic sprouts, the salt, and half of the olive oil, and blend fine. (Add the parsley and/or mint as well, if using.)

Now add the warrigal greens, blend coarsely, adding olive oil as needed to maintain texture and consistency. Add the crushed walnuts and parmesan cheese and pulse to mix through.

SERVING:
This pesto makes a good dip or a good spread for crackers as well as being a good accompaniment to pasta dishes.

Additionally, we enjoyed a Prom Country Cheeses "Woolamai Mist" soft brie-style white mold cheese which actually paired up really well, and Swan & Oak light rye bread. 
NOTES:
Grow Lightly is my local F&V of choice, all organically grown, local, whole foods.
Everything for this recipe except the parmesan cheese and the salt was procured from their Food Hub Shop:
Fish Creek Mount of Olives olive oil
Fresh Warrigal greens
Walnuts
Spring garlic
Limes


ENJOY!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Oriental Eggscitement. (No, really.)

NAME: _Oriental Eggscitement.

INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
3 - 4 eggs per person
1/2 cup besan flour per person
1/2 cup atta or other wholemeal flour per person
around 1/2 a brown onion per person
peanut or olive oil around 1/4c per person (but see Method)
salt
turmeric
chilli powder
cumin powder
cumin seeds
chilli flakes with seeds (if you like a bit of zing)
garlic powder
bicarb
lemon juice (preferably fresh squezed)
fresh green coriander
around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of uncooked rice per person
Handful of boiled peanuts per person (See NOTES)


METHOD:
Boil the eggs to hardboiled (starting from cold water, about 25 - 30 minutes) then drain and place in cold water. Peel, and carefully remove the complete yolk from each egg. Chop the egg whites roughly the size of dried peas, put whole yolks in one bowl and egg whites in the other.

I'll go ahead and describe a meal for two here just as I made it for us, but just multiply everything up for more guests.

Put a cupful of rice, a teaspoonful of salt, a teaspoonful of peanut or olive oil, and two cupfuls of water in a saucepan with a good lid,

While waiting for it to boil start making a batter in a suitably sized bowl - take one cupful of besan flour, half a teaspoon of chilli powder, a teaspoon of cumin powder, a teaspoon of powdered turmeric, and a teaspoon of salt, the juice of about one lemon, then slowly add water until you have a thick to medium batter. Roll the egg yolks in the batter.

Start the wok with about a cupful of your chosen oil and when hot enough, gently place the batter coated yolks in the oil and to begin with roll them around a few times so they don't develop a crck in the batter. Drain the egg pakodas (which is what they actually are) on a paper towel or slice of bread/ Remove the wok from the flame or turn off.

Cover the rice pot once it's boiling and reduce heat to a simmer.

Now add half a teaspoon of garlic powder and about a cup of atta (or wholemeal flour) to the batter, and add water to make a medium - loose batter. Drain the oil from the wok to a heatproof container and turn the heat back on, when hot, mix a scant half teaspoon of bicarb to the refreshed batter mix, stir through, and pour about two tablespoons of the mixture at a time into the wok, allow to brown on one side, flip over and allow the other side to brown, remove, and also drain on paper towel or a slice of bread.

While the last few of these savoury pikelets are cooking, peel and finely chop a medium brown onion, add that to the wok as soon as the last pikelet is made, also add the cumin seeds and peanuts, and fry until the onions are a bit limp.

The rice should be cooked by now (water mostly absorbed into the rice) so turn it off and leave to sit with the lid firmly on to allow moisture to even out.

Add the egg whites, about a teaspoonful of cumin powder, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of turmeric powder to the wok and fry everything, tossing often to stop burning. When onions have golden bits, turn off the heat and toss about a tablespoonful of chopped fresh coriander through the mix. You can also toss a bit of yoghurt through at this stage or allow people to add what they want on their own plate.


SERVING:
Serve a bed of rice with stir fried egg whites in the centre and pakoda egg yolks and pikelets arranged around the edges. Allow guests to choose between chutneys, chilli sauces, tomato sauces, yoghurt, curry sauces, or similar. Think about perhaps setting up a masala tin. (See NOTES)

NOTES:
Oil. changes the flavour profile but use what you prefer, I often re-use frying oils from a previous session (allow to cool and store in fridge in between time) and add enough to fulfil the needs at hand.

Peanuts. You can buy boiled peanuts which you then have to shell and skin and set aside to get  dry pellicle form on the outside (just a dry layer that will brown and crisp nicely) or you can use raw or roasted peanuts, matter of preference, I like a crispy outside with  slightly soft centre so I simmer mine for a few hours the day before, slip the skins off, and then let them dry on the outside overnight.

Masala tins: look up "masalla dabba" online you'll get the idea, A common one to serve with curries has fine chopped raw onion, sultanas, grated coconut, salt, crushed peanuts, pickled ginger, pickled garlic, chutney, and/or other various garnishes and is generally adjusted to suit the meal.

ENJOY!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Soubise S'prize

NAME: _Soubise S'prize

INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
3 - 5 brown onions
50g butter (around half a stick)
1 scant tsp bicarb
salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsp water
1 cup cream

METHOD:
Peel and dice the onions, place in a saucepan  with the butter, water, a pinch of salt, and the bicarb. Bring to a boil and allow the water to evaporate, then reduce the heat a lot and allow to slowly cook for around 30 - 60 minutes. It will turn yellow but as it slowly cooks that colour will fade. Don't let it brown, the aim is to keep the onion just cooking without browning.

Once the onion is at that stage whisk or blend it to a creamy consistency, add the cream, and then season as required. May be returned to gentle heat to thicken a bit, or used as is, depending on what you're serving with it.

SERVING:
This is a great sauce for plainly cooked or roasted fish, chicken, or lamb, and adds guts to a beef steak.

NOTES:
This sauce can be made with a lot of variations, it was traditionally made with bechamel sauce or a veloute, but cream or even creme fraiche makes for a lovely light sauce.

You can add curry spices, or just simple herbs, or cook off a pinch of mashed garlic with the onions towards the end of the onion cooking time, or cook the onion in olive oil rather than butter. This sauce has been made a variety of ways from region to region, and I see no reason to stick to any one recipe or make it the One True Way. (Which varies from one person to the next anyway...) So have a go at adapting this.

As I said, the recipe has had a number of variations, and is generlly made with the onions as white as possible. But that's a preference, I prefer a richer yellow to brown appearance, and if you allow the onions to cook to a medium brown and then think it with beef stock and a few other ingredients it makes a very acceptable French Onion soup basis as well. It's also a great start for an onion gravy.

ENJOY!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Remnant Pies

NAME: _Remnant Pies

No pics, blame the tastiness!

INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
1/3 of an orange sweet potato, about 150g
1 cup cooked lentils
1 small cauliflower
100g - 200g grated Parmesan
2 cups plain flour
1 cup tomato paste
1 - 2 tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper, raw sugar (see Method for how much)
110g - 150g butter (divided, see Method for how much)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, warm.
1/4 tsp ground allspice (pimento)

METHOD:
Peel and dice the sweet potato (1/2" (1cm) dice so it cooks quickly) into a small saucepan with a pinch of salt, the ground allspice, 10g of butter. Cook until the sweet potato is soft and the water almost completely evaporated, then mash with a fork and set aside.

Divide the cauliflower into large florets and half cook in minimum water, drain, set aside.

Mix about half the Parmesan with the tomato sauce, as much garlic powder, salt, pepper, and raw sugar as you prefer. (A good starting quantity is 1 garlic powder, 1/2 salt, 1 raw sugar and adjust from there.)

Put the cauliflower pieces into a casserole or pie dish that's just big enough to comfortably hold them all, then spread the Parmesan / tomato mixture thickly over  the top of them. Set aside again

Melt the remaining butter and allow to cool a bit, then mix the remaining Parmesan, a pinch of salt, and about 4 - 5 tablespoons of butter into the flour, rubbing it in with fingertips. The idea is to have fine crumbles of uniformly buttery flour. Add the stock a bit at a time until you end up with a very stiff dough. Best to add about half a cup, mix briefly, check if it will press out without tearing or crumbling, add more water if needed. Don't over mix, you want that some of the texture to remain.

Divide into two balls and press each one out and roll it to quite thin (around 1/8" or 2-3mm) then use 2/3 of each ball to line a non-stick 5" - 6" oval pie dish with a good margin for sealing the top on. Mix the lentils through the sweet potato mix, and fill the pie dishes to within a smidgen of the top, then add the remaining pastry as a lid, seal with a smear of water and pressing with fingers.

Trim off, keep the remaining pastry, and quickly remold and roll that out to cover the cauliflower in the dish. trim to size. Discard any remnants. Reheat the butter if necessary and brush over the tops of all the pies. More butter is better. Trust me. %) Use all of the remainder...

Heat the oven to 190C, put the pies in a bit over halfway up, and leave for 30 minutes. Check that the cases aren't browning too much yet (turn down to 180C if they look as though they are) and rotate all the pie dishes, cook for another 10 - 30 minutes depending on the speed of your oven. The Parmesan crumbs in the pastry should be browning, the pastry itself golden. Remove the sweet potato pies from the dishes and place on a rack to set for a few minutes.

SERVING:
Break the crust of the cauliflower into chunks, serve. With the pies, just serve with your choice of accompaniments.

NOTES:
I made these two together because I had a cauliflower to deal with, some left over sweet potato, and we could have fed four people with the addition of a salad, but we just buckled down to it and did our culinary duty and enjoyed it. So -

ENJOY!

COUNTER

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