Monday, October 24, 2005

Curried Sausages

I don't know what to say about this - I sort of assume everyone makes curried sausages. It was a landmark dish in our lives. The small girl was a shocking eater when she started solids. I'd take so much care steaming and pureeing and so on, and pretty much all of it got spat out. Then one day she had a little of my dinner of curried snags, and it became clear that she needed food with much more flavour. She now has a slightly obsessive relationship with our tin of curry powder. (I use the Keen's brand. I now keep it carefully hidden away, as if it's in sight and within reach the small girl delights in sniffing it, and then shaking it, and the last time she had access to it, she tipped it over her head.)

Anyway I probably cook this once a fortnight, using the best plain snags I can find. It's nice with rice, peas, yoghurt and a little chutney.

8 - 9 sausages
1 onion, chopped
1 - 2 carrots, diced
1 - 2 apples, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 tbs Curry Powder
2 tbs coconut
1 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Put sausages into cold water and bring to the boil, boil for one minute then drain. Remove the sausage casings if they are becoming a little loose.

Saute the onion in a little oil then add vegetables and saute briefly.

Add stock, sausages and remaining ingrediants and cook in a covered casserole for 45 minutes.

tagged for 23/5 meme

I feel I exist in a new and strange way - I've been tagged! Caroline at Bibliocook has tagged this site for the 23/5 meme: find your 23rd post and ponder on the meaning of the 5th line. Hmmm, a bit tricky this as although I've been posting since July, I'm not the world's most regular writer and only total 13 posts so far. What if I switch the numbers around and comment on the 23rd line of my 5th post - would that be fair?

This would make it the Birthday Cake post, "I used an icing bag with a plastic nozzle, which meant when the icing started getting a little firm I could pop it in the microwave for a few moments." I was actually rapt to discover this. I was accustomed to icing with royal icing, which sets as it dries so one can squeeze it out of the piping bag as slowly as needed. The icing used here sets as it cools so I could see I was in for trouble. As I noticed the plastic nozzles in my collection of icing equipment I realised I could use the microwave. And yay, it worked!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Lion's head meatballs

We tried this for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit. Originally a Shanghai dish the oversized pork meatballs and greens would have been cooked in a sand clay pot. We used a cast iron casserole and cooked it in the oven. The name comes from intended resemblance to a lion's head of the shredded cabbage 'mane' drapped over the large meatball. The recipe I've adapted is from'Campion and Curtis in the Kitchen'. The recipe serves four so for two adults and a hungry toddler next time I'd probably halve this unless you want lots of left-overs, (I don't think the noodles would freeze well).

The recipe for this does also include finely chopped waterchestnuts in the meatball mix, I'm sure it would add a lot texturally but I've omitted them as I'm not sure how they sit in terms of nut proteins (and we had none in the cupboard).

500g pork mince
6 shiitake mushrooms (we used ordinary mushrooms as I couldn't find any today), finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
3 tsp cornflour
30 ml Chinese rice wine (shao hsing wine) or dry sherry
extra cornflour

100g vermicelli noodles (from flour not bean thread)
1/2 chinese cabbage (wombok)
approx 500ml chicken stock
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs Chinese rice wine (shao hsing wine) or dry sherry

Mix together pork, mushrooms, spring onions, ginger, cornflour and rice wine. Divide mixture into 16 portions and make into balls using the extra cornflour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC. Soak the vermicelli in boiling water for a few minutes until soft then drain. Chop the cabbage into 2cm chunks. Line the casserole with the cabbage then the vermicelli. Brown the meatballs in a frypan for a few minutes then add to the casserole dish. Mix soy sauce, stock and rice wine and pour into the casserole. Place lid on and cook for 45 minutes. Serve with rice and stir-fried vegies.

Edited later: After making these again, I've discovered asian vermicelli are not all the same. OriginallyI made this with 'Amoy flour vermicelli' which contain flour and tapioca. This worked perfectly. Make with just flour vermicelli the noodles turned to a sort of goo, which while kind of interesting, was not to be desired.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Baked Beans

I was looking in the supermarket the other day for baked beans as they make a great lunch for small girl and myself. I noticed that none of the brands avaliable were 100% made in Australia. Most opted for the weaselly 'Made with local and imported ingrediants'.

This seemed a good enough reason to tackle making baked beans myself. I've long wanted to master this slow cooking dish, this is my first go, using a recipe from Stephanie Alexander's 'The Cooks Companion'. The next time I make it I will pre-cook the beans as ours were not edible until after about 8 hours cooking. I understand the acid in the tomatoes can make the skins of the beans tough, maybe I had particularly acidic tomatoes, maybe the beans were a bit old. Who can say. Also I would suggest adding a little less water- after 8 hours cooking we needed to simmer the dish on the stove for 1/2 an hour to reduce the liquid to a thick sauce. Although the recipe says it serves four, we had enough for the three of us, plus two family sized meals to freeze. A bonus as it was delicous.

375g red kidney beans
2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 rashers thickly sliced streaky bacon, diced
2 red peppers, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 400g can peeled tomatoes in juice
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 tsp paprika
1/2 crushed coriander seeds
freshly gound black pepper
3 tbs maple syrup, treacle, golden syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Rinse soaked beans, then put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then strain and rinse with cold water. Heat oil in a large enamelled cast-iron casserole and saute onion, garlic, carrot and bacon. After 5 minutes, when onion has softened and bacon is sizzling, add red and green peppers. Puree tomatoes and juice in a food processor and add to casserole with beans and remaining ingredients, except maple syrup. Mix well. Add sufficient cold water to cover beans by 4 cm. Transfer casserole, tightly sealed, to oven and bake for at least 4 hours. Stir well after 2 hours, checking that it is still reasonably sloppy (if it is too dry, add a little water and reduce oven temperature). After 4 hours, stir in maple syrup, extra salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. The beans should now be in a rich sauce. If too thick, add a little extra water; if too runny and the beans are tender, increase oven temperature and continue to cook.