Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gypsy Stew

This is a traditional Spanish stew called a gypsy stew because it uses small amounts of common, easy to obtain ingredients including those quintessentially Spanish - pork, garlic, paprika and a variety of other herbs and spices.

Guisado Gitano
(Serves 4)

Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
800g pork loin, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1/2 tspn chilli paste
1/2 tspn sweet paprika
1 1/2 tspn smoked paprika
2 tspn ground cumin
1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
2 tspn fresh chopped rosemary
200g dried haricot beans (soaked overnight in plenty of fresh water)
1 tin crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 bunch silverbeet (leaves only, washed and shredded)

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until they are soft. Add the pork loin and capsicum and gently brown the pork. Add the chilli paste, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and rosemary and toast the spices for a minute.

Drain the haricot beans well then add them to the saucepan. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 90 minutes or until the beans are tender.

Add the sweet potato and simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes (until the potato is just cooked), adding more stock if necessary to retain the liquid level. Take the stew off the heat, season well with salt and pepper and add the silverbeat. Stir it in well so it wilts slightly, then serve.

Friday, August 27, 2010

English Baked Beans

You may think that baked beans are simply that - baked beans. However there is a huge difference between traditional English baked beans (beans stewed in a tomato sauce), Boston-style baked beans (made with bacon or pork and a variety of flavourings such as Worcestershire sauce, molasses and mustard powder), French-Canadian baked beans (made with maple syrup) and what I can only imagine to be dozens of other varients of baked beans.

Hence why I'm being specific - these are English. No maple syrup or bacon involved. And they taste a hell of a lot better than the canned Heinz beans.

English Baked Beans
(Serves 4-6)

2 tins of beans, 400g each (I use tins of mixed beans)
Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
350mL vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Tip the beans into a colander and rinse them well under running water. Set aside to drain completely.

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy based saucepan and gently saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the beans, herbs, tomatoes, tomato paste and stock and stir well.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let the beans stew for 2 hours. Stir occassionally, adding a little water if the beans are drying out too much.

Season well with salt and pepper, remove the thyme and bay leaves and serve them any way you wish - on toast, with sausages, as part of a big breakfast or just as they are.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Malaysian Lamb Curry

This is my take on a Malaysian lamb curry. I must admit (a little shamefully), I know very little about Malay food. I know the country has a large population of people with Chinese and Indian heritage and the food reflects this mixture of cultures.

This curry is a simplified and modified version of a very traditional but highly complicated recipe a friend's mother gave to me years ago.

Malaysian Lamb Curry
(Serves 4)

Vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
800g lamb, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
5cm piece of ginger, grated
2 large red chilli's, sliced
1 tbsp mustard seeds, toasted
2 tspn garam masala
2 tspn curry powder
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tin coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 tspn salt

In a heavy based saucepan, heat the oil then saute the onion until it is soft. Add the lamb and brown it then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and saute for one minute. Add the mustard seeds, garam masala, curry powder, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and toast for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, stock and salt and stir the curry well. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat, partially cover the saucepan and simmer for 90 minutes, adding more stock if the curry becomes too thick.

Serve over steamed basmati rice with a dollop of fresh yoghurt on top.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

These are some gluten free chocolate cupcakes I made as an experiment - I'm not gluten intolerant myself but have a couple of friends who are and I wanted to be able to pass along a really good cake recipe.

The texture of these cakes is very dense and rich. Actually, they taste quite similar to my ugly mudcake.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes 12)

175g butter
250g good quality dark chocolate
1 1/4 cups castor sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup cocoa powder
5 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 140C and line a cupcake pan with papers.

In a large saucepan, melt together the butter, chocolate and sugar, stirring often until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has melted.

Stir in the almond meal, cocoa powder and eggs then spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers.

Bake for half an hour or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly with moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and leave them to cool on a wire rack.

Frost the cupcakes with buttercream or chocolate ganache or, as I do, eat them whilst they're still warm with a bit of whipped cream.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Steak au poivre

Steak au poivre is a classic French dish consisting of a good quality steak cooked with a pepper crust and finished with a cognac or brandy cream sauce.

Once again, instead of making the sauce purely cream based, I've used a mixture of stock and cream to reduce the richness.

Steak au Poivre
(Serves 4)

4 steaks
Plenty of freshly cracked pepper
Olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, very finely diced
3 tbsp brandy or cognac
1/4 cup of cream
1/2 cup of chicken stock
Pinch of salt
Freshly chopped parsley

Generously season the steaks with plenty of pepper. In a very hot oiled pan, sear the steaks (to create the pepper crust), then turn the heat down and cook the steaks to your liking. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside.

Add the butter to the pan and gently saute the onion. Add the brandy (or cognac), cream, stock and salt. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Return the steaks to the pan and baste them until they are reheated. Stir the parsley into the sauce and serve.