As I drag my body, weary from cleaning, to the computer to write this, I fear that I am going to be less impressive than is my want. And yet, impressive is what I have to be if I wish to win the KitchenAid mixer on offer from Ed Charles, maestro of the very successful and entertaining food blog Tomato.
So, how to impress via this thing that is the internet? I could fawn over him a little, fill this blog with flattery, but I am sure Ed has too much integrity to let something like that sway him. It’s not like I can cook a meal and present it to the man. But maybe, just maybe, I can give an idea of the meal that I would cook, with recipes, just incase he wants to create it for himself.
I must point out here that my skills lie more in eating than in cooking (although I am no slouch in that department either), and I have never been one for posting recipes online, but desperate times.
So, here it is, my Meal for Ed(’s KitchenAid), otherwise known as a random selection of recipes that I cook and haven’t substantially stolen from elsewhere. I aim to be seasonal, and I aim to be delicious. Let me describe my menu, and then you can find the recipes at the end.
First course, and on a cold Canberra (or Melbourne) winter evening, what better than to start with a soup? So here is my Thai Pumpkin Soup. Warm, thick, and a little bit spicy, this is one of my winter standbys. But the one thing that would make this soup even better would be a crispy, fresh baked bread roll, still hot from the oven. Which is exactly what I would do if I had a KitchenAid that would easily allow me to make high quality dough (hint hint).
Moving on we come to my adherence to the food fashions of the day. One of the things seen around the country at the moment, one of the foods that is getting a lot of people excited, is the humble (or not so humble) taco. And so, taking my cue from this craze my second course is Caramelised Prawn Tacos. Plump, juicy prawns with a sweet but spicy caramel crust, piled high with pico de gallo, red cabbage, mayonnaise and radish. It makes a mess, but it is delicious. And I know I should be making my tortillas fresh, but it’s hard to find masa in this town.
Main course is back to a hearty classic. If I had the KitchenAid I would buy the mincer and sausage making attachments and make some fatty Italian style pork and fennel sausage served on a bed of polenta. But, alas, I can’t.
Instead I will keep the polenta and serve with it a simple, heartwarming Slow Braised Lamb Shanks. I prefer a simple base of onion, celery and green capsicum rather than a heavy tomato sauce when cooking lamb. It’s important to let the wonderful flavour of the lamb come through. But the most vital thing to do is to let it cook for a very, very long time, until it falls off the bone. Served with a hot, thick pile of polenta and there is nothing better on a winter’s night.
Dessert is a difficult one, as most of my favourites are summer fare. In particular that absurdly decadent dish that is Eton Mess, a pile of meringue, whipped cream and sweet, fresh strawberries. But it’s winter, so that’s not feasible. It’s not worth ruining a Mess with off-season berries.
But what to replace it with? Well, take some fresh oranges and some chocolate and you get Jaffa Eton Mess. Warm chocolate and orange lava, cascading over the whipped cream and crisp meringue (that would be lighter and crispier if I had a KitchenAid. Just sayin’). What’s not to like? Maybe even include a touch of Grand Marnier in the meringue, just to add to the fun. Serve it with a glass of PX and it’s a real party.
So that would be my meal. Probably go through a few bottles of wine at the same time, chat. Just imagine it. Impressive? I’d like to think so.
Anyway, here are the recipes. Now, I haven’t put in all the quantities. This is because I don’t always know them. I work by feel a little more, so, you know, experiment a little.
Thai Pumpkin Soup
¼- ½ Pumpkin (I prefer Jap or Kent, but butternut works too), cubed
Oil (olive or vegetable)
1 Red chilli, sliced
1 Onion, roughly chopped
1 bunch coriander
2cm piece ginger
1 small can coconut cream
Heat oven to 180. Coat pumpkin pieces in oil. Place on baking tray with chilli and onion. Cook until pumpkin is very soft.
Process coriander stems and ginger until as small as possible.
Put cooked pumpkin, chilli and onion in a pan with coriander and ginger. Using a stick blender, blend to smooth, adding lime juice and fish sauce to taste. Stir in coconut cream.
If required, reheat gently on the stove.
Serve in small bowls with coriander leaves and fresh chilli slices on top.
Caramelised Prawn Taco
Prawns – around 4 medium sized prawns per taco
Red cabbage, cut into wedges then shredded
Pico de gallo (diced tomato, coriander, pickled jalepeno, red onion, lime juice)
Radish, very finely sliced (a mandolin is easiest)
Cook prawns quickly over a hot pan, then remove.
Wipe the pan clean. Dry roast the cumin and cayenne pepper, then add sugar and a little water. Once it starts to caramelise, toss with the prawns. Add lime juice and salt to taste.
Heat tortillas. In each tortilla place some prawns, top with pico de gallo, cabbage, mayonnaise and a few slices of radish. Then eat, but make sure you have plenty of paper-towel on hand.
Slow Braised Lamb Shanks
4-5 garlic cloves, diced or crushed
2-3 brown onions, finely diced
Half a bunch of celery, finely diced (including leaves)
2 green capsicum, finely diced
Dry white wine
In a large saucepan, brown shanks, then remove from pan.
Put pan on medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add some cumin. When fragrant, add garlic, onion, celery and capsicum. Sautee until soft.
Add a little flour, enough to make a roux that contains the vegetables. If you need to add more oil to do this, do so.
Add a little wine to deglaze the pot. Stir to let thicken. Add stock while stirring to create a thickened broth. Add bay leaves.
Put shanks back into broth, making sure there is enough to just cover them. Leave simmering for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. If the broth is too thin, remove shanks and turn heat to high, allowing the sauce to reduce.
In the meantime, make polenta to instructions, making it a fairly thick consistency. Stir in butter and cheese.
Serve a shank on the polenta with some of the broth spooned over.
Jaffa Eton Mess
Dash of Grand Marnier
Heat oven to 150.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add sugar until glossy and incorporated.
Place spoonfuls on an oven tray covered in baking paper. Place in oven and turn down the heat to 120. After 1 hour, turn off oven and jam the door open to cool overnight.
For whipped cream:
Beat cream until soft peaks form. Add in a little sugar to taste.
For Jaffa sauce:
Dark chocolate, suitable for cooking
Melt butter and chocolate together over a double burner. Stir in juice, rind and Grand Marnier, adjusting to taste.
Crush meringues, stir through cream.
Pour Jaffa sauce over the top while still warm. Fold some through, but make sure it doesn’t over-mix.
Grate a tiny amount of orange rind on top for show.