Saturday, 17 March 2007

WFF 6 - Gee, it's getting stuffy in here!

Am I alone in vapidly going goo-goo-ga-ga over stuffed things? Would you prefer eating whole jalapeno peppers with a heap of cheddar dumped unceremoniously on the side or would you prefer those peppers stuffed with said cheddar, and oozing like lava when bitten?

What is it about disguising one element in other that transforms the appeal of certain vegetables? Personally, I feel that the apparent effort put into filling the cavity of a fruit or vegetable is enough to make the whole (or hole!) look tempting, especially when you make it yourself, never mind if the taste is dubious!

This weekend, all I wanted to eat was finger food, and being the ruler of my own kitchen, I didn't need to ask if anyone minded (snigger, snigger). It started off with these Identity-crisis Jalapeno Poppers. First and foremost, I almost never see chillis for sale at Carrefour, and wasn't even looking for them, so when I stumbled upon them, cheddar inexplicably fell into my basket as well. Except that I wanted at all costs a bhaji coating, but who's stopping me? :)

How to: For 16 peppers, mash 200g of cheddar with as much potato mash (does anyone spot a "phase" in the making?). Add salt and pepper. Slit peppers on one side and scoop out seeds and white centre. Wetting hands, fill cavity with cheddar-potato filling.

For batter: Mix 2 tsps each of besan, rice flour and all-purpose flour with 1 tsp each of baking powder, ground fennel, cumin and coriander. Add water to obtain a thick paste and add an egg if desired.

Heat oil, and when hot, dip stuffed peppers into batter and gently lower into oil. Fry until golden and drain on paper towels.

Variations: Other firm "stuffable" vegetables (capsicum, zucchini, small onions, okra, etc). Egg & breadcrumbs instead of bhaji batter.

Body Count: 0.

Note: This is something I could eat every single day (a very tall order for someone who makes a pastime of getting bored), if it wasn't the greasebomb that it is! I don't know if it was the potato or the batter, but I'd never seen the level of frying oil dip like that!!

The next on the list was totally unplanned. I thought I didn't have any more prunes in the fridge, and when I saw that I did, I remembered the time my mom-in-law came over for a dinner I was hosting, and to avoid coming empty-handed, brought exactly the same apéritif as the one I had prepared - prunes with streaky bacon! We had a good laugh about that, but ahem, somehow mine disappeared faster! :)

I only had lean bacon or very fatty rosette (which is what you see on the right), so what do you think happened? See those paper-thin slices dotted with saturated fat? They're bad for your heart but hey, if the industry continues to thrive, I imagine it only takes you to the threshold of a heart attack and not beyond! Whew!

How to: Folded into a band and tucked into the opening of a pitted prune, rosette, like many other fatty cured meats, confers its delicate flavours on the dried fruit and the fat provides a certain amount of moisture.

Place prune & rosette bundles on a heatprof dish and grill for a few minutes until meat is crisp.

Variations: Any fatty deli meats - bacon, speck, Parma ham, chorizo, you name it. Any dried fruit - fig, apricot, date, or grilled vegetables - capsicum, eggplant, sundried tomato.

Body Count: A few slices of rosette.

Since those prunes got me started on the whole dried fruit trail, I had no choice but to fiddle with a few apricots, to make Peppricots!

2 weeks ago, I'd used 2 other different flavours of Boursin, but didn't take pictures of the box. Today's flavour is black pepper!

How to: Mix a 150g dome of Boursin with a tablespoon of cream. Split dried apricots without separating the halves, and fill with Boursin. Serve.

Variations : Boursin exists in so many flavours, I've lost track. Nonetheless, they're all good for stuffing dried fruit, eg, dates, figs, prunes, etc, provided you have the patience!

Body Count: 0, not even rennet!

I promise this will be the last of the dried fruit foray, but dates were in fact what had been nagging since the start of the week. I'd never bought them before this week and so have never cooked with them, so it wasn't easy coming up with Deglet-Nour date burfi.

These were so easy to make I even managed to hold a phone conversation with a friend while making these, with the phone wedged between my shoulder and ear!

How to: Make a date paste by boiling about 20 dates in enough water to cover them in a saucepan. Remove stones, if any, and whizz to get a smooth paste. In another pan, heat 150g of ghee or butter. When it melts, add 3tbsp of sugar and 200g of besan and stir, breaking up lumps and cooking until besan smells slightly roasted. Add date paste, stir until even, then pour out onto wax paper and leave to cool before cutting into diamond shapes.

Body Count: 0

Note: Sorry to inflict psychedelic sugar dinosaurs on all of you (click to see them better)! As you can see, the date burfi does not have a very attractive colour, and the plate did nothing to help, so I was hoping those dinosaurs could perk things up! :)

I'm running out of breath, so for now, I'll post the last of the series, but will do the how to, variations and body count at a later date. In the meantime, please be satisfied with just pictures of my Grasshopper Tiramisu!

Update: For as long as I can remember, I've always liked the association of chocolate with mint, and when I became of age to drink, that appreciation moved on to Grasshopper cocktails (crème de menthe + crème de cacao + craem, I think). :) Somehow, the tiramisu version was very watery, so I don't know what went wrong despite doing things the same way I did for the past few weeks! :(

How to: Place a layer of chocolate pound cake at the bottom of each serving glass and drench it with crème de cacao (chocolate liqueur). Whip 2 egg yolks with 100g of sugar until frothy, then add 50g of whipped cream, 3 tbsp of crème de menthe (mint liqueur), 250g of mascarpone and colouring, if necessary. When mixture is smooth, spoon a layer onto chocolate cake and repeat layers (it was too watery for me to do so). Garnish with thin chocolate sticks to create "feelers".

Variations: Way too many! :)

Body Count: 0


Lydia said...

Ooooooh, I love dried apricots stuffed with cheese. One of my favorite little appetizers -- they always look elegant and taste delicious. And stuffed jalapenos? Oh yes indeed!

Keropok Man said...

at first, i thought you going to stuff fish meat inside them, like yong tau hu :-P

but it's stuff the other way instead. haha..

Sandeepa said...

Every weekend you have a party or what ? Liked the date burfi. Though we eat up all the dates just by themselves I would like to try these. Ver nice creations

Claude-Olivier said...

A oui, piment et fromage, cela doit bien le faire ca....j'aime bcp ton résultat en tout cas !!! A tout bientot

Bonne soirée

Shilpa. said...

Hi Lydia, do you often stuff apricots with cheese? And I thought I was doing something original!! ;-) I've done it with lots of other fruit, but apricots are small and soft, so not easy to stuff!

Keropok, I wish I could make yong tau hu, but I doubt I can find fish paste around here...sniff! :(

Shilpa. said...

Hi Sandeepa, haha, on the contrary, I don't have many friends here, so don't often get to hold parties. :) Come to think of it, if I HAD to host parties so often, I'll definitely lose my passion for cooking!

Oh yes, it wasn't easy for me to make the date paste without "stealing" a few dates.. ;-) How did you like the dinosaurs on my burfi? hee hee..

Shilpa. said...

Coucou Claude, merci pour ton passage et le gentil commentaire! En fait, le piment farci de fromage est typiquement tex-mex (je ne sais pas si tu as des magasins Picard en Suisse, mais on y en trouve aussi!), donc j'ai rien inventé.. ;-)

Bien qu'ils soient délicieux, c'est pas terrible pour ceux qui font régime! ;-)

tigerfish said...

Very creative leh you... I thought you could "copyright/patent" all these :D

Lydia said...

Shilpa, dried apricots and cheese were very popular party fare years ago, around the time The Silver Palate cookbook came out (or maybe this was from the cookbook, I can't remember now). I'm not good at making fancy appetizers, so when I find one I like, I stick with it!

Jyothsna said...

You're right. The date burfi doesn't look appetising, but I can smell the ghee oozing out of it!!!:) If I substitute the besan with wheat flour, will it taste good? I suppose so.
Btw, do you cook so much every week???? Phew, I'm tired looking at all those goodies! Now I'll run off to Carrefour to pick my groceries! :) Aideu!

eastcoastlife said...

hoho woman,
I like to get stuffed too! Yikes, not cheese please.

I like the way you prepare your food. I'm sure you are creative in some 'other' ways too. hahaha.....

eastcoastlife said...

Can't wait to read your desert island post. hehe....

Shilpa. said...

Hi Tiger, hmm, will think about it, but not sure how successful it'll be! :) I'm sure there are people out there who have done these exact same dishes! Thanks for poppping by so faithfully! :)

Hi Lydia, *hides face in shame* :) Thanks for pointing it out, but I guess years ago, my preoccupation was still to feed, and so one-dish meals were my main output! :)

Shilpa. said...

Hi Jyothsna! Wheat flour? Err, I guess if you generally like eating wheat, then why not? Sounds tasteless, though, compared to chickpeas, which I love!!

No, I don't always cook this much every week, it just so happens that my son was with his grandparents, so I had a lot of time! :) And you don't know my hubby - these things disappear very fast!

Shilpa. said...

Oi, ECL!! Don't be cheeky, ok?! Haha! Strictly food here! I'll be glad to share cooking tips with you, but anything raunchier, ahem, not here!! :)

Eh, please, don't put pressure leh... I'll do the desert island thing for sure!! :)

WokandSpoon said...

Another great entry! I can really feel the pounds packing on just by looking at your photos and receipes!

Sia's corner said...

another tiramisu?
i had this stuffed chilles yest @one gujju family(just potatoes, not cheese though:)
i made date payasam for ugadi. date burfi looks wonderful. was it sticky?
very creative recipes shilpa:)

Mishmash ! said...

Sigh !! thats like 4-5 posts for me ;)so many dishes....! I was eyeing on the tiramisu picture and when I reached the last post it fast :) grasshopper tiramisu...hmm...i liked that name ..very creative:)


Shilpa. said...

Hi Wokandspoon, thanks! :) Don't be misled by the number of pictures, they number more than twice the actual dishes produced! :)

This applies to you, too, Mishmash! :) They were all very simple things! Grasshopper is only chocolate mint, I didn't coin that name. I think the name's widely used in American cooking circles! ;-)

Hi Sia, thanks! Those chillis are GREASY! This won't be the last of my tiramisus! :) I received a cookbook as a gift with all sorts of variations on tiramisu, with the basic concept of biscuit base drenched in alcohol and a mascarpone cream flavoured with yet another alcohol, that's why I'm making several, although strangely, none of them come from my book! :) The possibilities are endless!

Yes, the date burfi was sticky at first, but after a few hours, it dried up a bit and was easier to cut. I hope you'll be posting your ugadi date payasam!

tigerfish said...

Wah, I tapped on the right tiramisu expertise here!

BuddingCook said...

is w/ prunes with streaky bacon a common dish? :) hehe very creative dishes indeed. :D

Shilpa. said...

Hey Tiger, thanks for including me! Eh, I'll show you soon _why_ I keep making tiramisus lately, ok? :)

Hi Buddingcook, yes, over here bacon and prune parcels have become so common, you can even find them ready-made! :)

trupti said...

Yummy looking Peppers...I had a craving for Poppers the other day...and I went and bought the ones filled with cream cheese.....yummm!

Date burfi looks good!Got my attention!

Shilpa. said...

Hi Trupti, thanks! :) I thought the colour of my burfi looked a bit dull.. oh yes, I only have 6 of those poppers left, can't bear to finish them!