We're currently going through a slow period at work and more than once a day I'd wish I could use some of the time I'm forced to be in the office to skin and chop my vegetables or to knead my own pastry. What I now qualify as torture is having too much time to surf lots of food porn with at best, Pringles, Coke and candy to quell the lust. My frustration is further compounded by my frequent inability to upload or save posts at work, so I have to resort to writing drafts by e-mail and posting when I get home. Grrrr..
Much as I enjoy cooking (possibly as much as eating my own creations), I also have my hands full with a darling but stubborn 3 1/2-year-old who still insists on eating bottled mash, and a self-replenishing stack of Hindi movies that beckons, so cooking every day while holding a full-time job is out of the question. :) Fortunately I have recourse to things like weekends and a freezer!
This past weekend I acquired a new toy - a mini kougelhopf mould, thus dictating the production of a batch. But a batch of what? I'd been itching for the longest time to use a can of crabmeat, so the canful became crab cakes with a well in the centre that I'd felt compelled to fill up with ketchup and mayonnaise. C'était plus fort que moi!
How to: I beat about 100g of crab tarama with 2 eggs, 2 tablespoonsful of flour, 100g of cream, salt and pepper and gently folded in the crabmeat after draining it. Oh yes, I almost forgot to add that they had to be baked - the usual, 180°C, 20 mins or so.
Variations: Other kinds of tarama, the addition of herbs, replacement of crab meat with other flaked fish.
Body Count: Several, I fear.
I had a packet of filo pastry to use, and while buying the mould, bought a packet of frozen ready-to-use pearl onions, specifically for this caramelised onion and garlic tart:
This is an adaptation of a recipe from The Onion Cookbook by Brian Glover, which suggested this as a tatin, and with puff pastry. Using filo definitely wasn't a mistake, though. In fact it seemed lighter and less work this way!
How to: Fry 500g of pearl onions (or sliced onions) with cloves from 2 bulbs of garlic (try to keep them whole, or at least the same size as the onions) in some butter until onions are translucent. Sprinkle 1 - 2 tbsp of sugar and cook until sugar caramelises, then add 2 - 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 50ml of water and thyme to taste. Continue cooking until garlic is soft enough to mash with a spoon.
For the filo, fold in the edges until the sheet is 1/3 of its original width to obtain a band. Brush 1/4 of the band with oil and spread grated parmesan onto the oiled surface. Fold pastry over the parmesan and repeat by greasing each upper surface and adding parmesan until you obtain 4 layers. Top off with a layer of caramelised garlic and onions, and bake for about 15 minutes at 180°C.
Variations: For a vegan version, omit parmesan and reduce the number of folds.
Body Count: 0
Lastly... a combination of the two very elements I consume in borderline abusive proportions - tea eggs!
The amusing thing about tea eggs is that I'd never eaten them prior to this, for a combination of reasons despite having known for years that they exist. A quick trip through Melting Wok's blog made it clear how easy they are to make, that they are delicious and definitely not medicinal, as was my previous persuasion. :)
How to: Boil the number of eggs you need for about 5 minutes (from the time the water starts boiling) then plunge them in cold water and crack the shells all over with the back of a spoon to get the veiny look above. Make tea with enough water to submerge the eggs, 1 tsp of salt, 2 tbsp of strong tea, 3 green cardamom pods and 1 star anise (I didn't have any, so used 6 cloves). Boil over low heat for 1 hour or more.
Variations: I added dark soya sauce to the tea for a darker colour, not sure if it's the norm but they tasted alright.
Body Count: 0
PS: I made much more than these over the weekend, I just couldn't find a flattering angle for the dishes that haven't been showcased here - bread and butter pudding, gnocchis with bacon + cheddar + beer and eggplant parmigiana. Photography tips are welcome! :)