Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Weekend Feeding Frenzy, Part 1 / many

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'├ętait 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! :)


Keropok Man said...

i like your tiny tiny bowl you used to hold your egg!!

Shilpa said...

Hey keropok, good to hear from you! Actually, it wasn't a bowl, just an egg-shaped ornament that I covered with half a hard-boiled egg! :) Sneaky, right? The other half was trapped in the vodka glass, yelling to get out!

tigerfish said...

Ketchup and Mayo...red and white(off-white)...errr...you very loyal! LOL!....

Pearl onions are so cute. Always tempted to buy, but they always come in a bag of (so many). That's one way to use lots of it! :O

If you had not said they were tea eggs, I thought you are into those TCM thingy with "brains", and "foetus" aged in bottles. :O
But you did a good job making those "egg veins"...
You do have a lot of egg gadgets, don't you ? The table mat (so cute that I still remember) and this one.

Melting Wok said...

shilpa !! So cuteeeeeee, wow, you got those lovely streaks on hehe :) You just made eggs, anything else with the black tea ?

Melting Wok said...

hey shilpa, those cake molds like mini bundt cake molds, I don't see them here leh :( I like the ingredients you used, not full of fats, butter and sugar :)

Shilpa said...

Tiger, was my patriotism that obvious?!? Hahaha!! You don't have to use the whole bag of pearl onions if you buy them frozen, right? Alternatively, buy them unfrozen and whole, but I can assure you the peeling part is no fun! :)

Yucks, don't be gross, what will I do with a preserved foetus?! Hahaha!! Thanks for the encouragement, I'll go dig out all my egg gadgets and take a photo for you! :)

Hi Melting Wok, thanks, glad you find my eggs cute and not like brains or foetuses! :)Yah, I only made eggs because I had too many other things to eat, so didn't want to make another meal!

Yes, those bundt moulds are quite hard to find, that's why I bought them without thinking twice, especially since they were the flexible type, making it easy to turn out my crab cakes! :)

simcooks said...

Ar... that's how you get the "veins" on the eggs :)

Shilpa said...

Hi simcooks! Yah, easy, right? Problem is, I was too impatient, didn't wait 5 minutes for the eggs to cook and started giving them a beating, heh heh.. so I had some with yolks coloured by the tea!

Lisa said...

Guess what..?
We have similiar ind of egg in Indonesia. We call it Telor Pindang. The method is almost like you mention, but sometimes to get the brown color we use the peel of shallot (small red onion.

Shilpa said...

Hi Lisa, oh yes, the recipe I had also suggested adding onion skins, but I was just too lazy to peel them! :) Interesting to know it also exists in Indonesian cuisine! What does "Pindang" mean?