Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mincing Words

Marjorie's Moussaka: serves 4
2 tblsp. oil
1 lb (450g) minced beef
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 lb tomatoes, skinned and chopped (canned?)
salt and pepper
1 small aubergine (eggplant)
4 tblsp. dry white wine
extra oil
Put the oil in a pan and fry the meat until brown. Add the onions and continue frying until the onions have softened. Stir in the tomatoes and season to taste. Mix and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Slice the aubergine fairly thickly and fry this in the little extra oil (using another pan) until tender. Grease an ovenproof casserole put in alternate layers of the beef mixture and aubergines. Sprinkle over the wine. Pour cheese sauce over (recipe below) and bake in a moderate oven (180C, etc) until hot and golden on top. Serve with a green salad.
cheese sauce:
1 oz (25g) butter
2 tblsp plain flour
1/2 pint (275ml) milk
salt and pepper
2 - 3 oz (50-75g) well flavoured hard cheese, grated
2 eggs, separated
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and stir in the flour, cook for one minute then whisk in the flour, bringing it up to the boil and whisking all the time to prevent lumps. If you have lumps (and don't we all) then pour/rub it through a sieve. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese, add the beaten egg yolks. Whisk egg whites until stiff then gently fold these into the sauce . Pour over Moussaka.
Tip: I tend to use a different cheese sauce recipe - virtually the same, but omitting the eggs. But if you have plenty of eggs Marjorie, then this is one way to use them up.

Basic Meatballs: makes about 30 (to freeze, see note below towards end of recipes)
1 lb (450g) minced beef
1 onion, grated
2 oz (5og) fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg lightly beaten
2 tblsp chopped parsley (optional)
Put everything in a bowl and mix together (the best way to do this is is with natures' own tools - clean hands). If using hands then wash and dry well. Dust hands with flour and shape the mixture into 2.5cm (1 inch) balls. Heat about 2 tblsp oil in a frying pan and cook for about five minutes, shaking the pan to turn them, or just turn them with a pair of tongs, until they are well browned all over. Drain on kitchen paper.
Tip: For a smoother textured meat ball, put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until blended to your satisfaction. Don't put on full whizz or they will end up like a puree.
Spear the meat balls onto cocktails sticks and serve with a barbeque or other dips.
Ring the changes (flavour etc) by adding nutmeg, ginger, other herbs. Experiment.
Reheat the meatballs in some well-flavoured beef stock or oxtail soup. Serve as soup.

To make Albondigas , use basic recipe but soak the bread in 2 tblsp milk, and add a pinch of cayenne. Fry as above for 15 minutes then drain and keep warm. Serve with the following sauce:
tomato sauce:
2 tbls oil
1 onion chopped
1 lb (4450g) tomatoes, peeled and sliced
good pinch dried thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 pint (300ml) stock
pinch sugar
Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onions until softened. Add the tomatoes and the thyme, season to taste and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced to a thick sauce. Stir in the stock and sugar and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Put the meatballs in a dish, pour over the sauce and serve with rice. Serves 4.

Bobotie: (South African) serves 4
1 oz (25g) butter
2 onions, chopped
1 eating apple, peelend and chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
1 lb (450g) minced beef
1 oz (25g) fresh white breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 tblsp mango chutney
1 tblsp flaked almonds
1 tsp sultanas
salt and pepper
4 bay leaves
5 fl oz (15ml) milk
Melt the butter in a pan and saute the onions and apples until softened (takes about 10 minutes). Stir in the curry powder and cook for a further 2 minutes. Take a bowl and into this put the minced beef, breadcrumbs, only one of the eggs, the chutney, almonds and sultanas. Mix together then stir in the onion and apple mixture. Season to taste.
Spread the mixture in a lightly greased ovenproof dish, lay the bay leaves on top and cook, uncovered, in a moderate oven (180C, 350F, gas 4) for 30 minutes. Lightly whisk together the remaining egg and milk. Remove the dish from the oven and - using kitchen paper - blot off any excess fat from the surface. Pour the egg and milk over the Bobotie (pronounced Bo-boo-tee if you are interested) returning the dish to the oven and cook for a further half an hour until the top has browned.

Beef and Courgette Pie: serves 6
8 os (225g) puff pastry, beaten egg to glaze
2 onions, chopped
2 0z (50g) butter
1 lb (450g) minced beef
5 fl oz (140 ml) red wine
8 oz (225g) tomatoes, peeled and sliced
pinch dried oregano/marjoram
salt and pepper to taste
4 courgettes
Melt the butter in a pan and saute the onions until softened. Stir in the beef and cook until browned, add the wine, tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Cover and simmer for half an hour. Leave to cool.
Top, tail and slice the courgettes and arrange half in the bottom of a pie dish. Cover with the beef mixture and finish with a final layer of courgettes. Roll out the pastry to cover the pie. (dampen the edges of the pie dish so the pastry will cling to it). Glaze with the egg using any left-over pastry to make leaves to trim the pie lid if you wish - glaze these also. Make a hole in the centre of the pastry and bake in a hot oven 220C, 425F, gas 7 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate (180C etc) and cook on for a further 40 minutes, tenting the pastry with foil (shiny side up) to prevent it browning too much.

Peasant's Pate: serves 8
1 lb (450g) minced beef
1 lb (450g) streaky bacon, minced
6oz (175g) fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 tblsp red wine
2 bay leaves
Mix together the beef, bacon and breadcrumbs, add the spices and seasoning and blend together with the egg and wine. Pack into a greased 2 lb (1 kg) loaf tin. Place bay leaves on top. Cover with foil and cook in a moderate oven (180c, 350F, gas 4) for one and threequarter hours. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, replace foil with parchment or more foil and place over a piece of cardboard cut to size - on this place a couple of cans of baked beans or something to weight it down. Chill in the fridge. When firmly set, turn out onto a plate (the original recipe suggests covering with aspic - but I hate the stuff), garnish with watercress and serve with crusty bread or toast.

Ande Ki Bhurji (Egg Masala) - serves 4
8 eggs
a small carton of coconut milk (approx 5 fl oz/150ml)
pinch salt
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 oz (50g) muchrooms, chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and minced
6 tblsp chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground coriander
Beat the eggs and mix in the coconut milk with the salt. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until golden. Add the mushrooms, chilli and finally the tomato, stir-frying until until cooked. Stir in the spices. Pour the egg mixture over and cook over a very low heat until the eggs have set. Garnish with coriander leaves and cut into fingers or wedges to eat with naan bread.

Lassi: yogurt drink, serves 4
1/2 pint (275 ml) plain yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 pints (725ml) iced water
A quick (though not traditional method) is to put it all in a blender and whizz at high speed for one minute until smooth. Pour into a chilled jug and serve in chilled tumblers. This drink can be prepared ahead of time and kept (chilled of course) in the fridge, until ready to serve.
Note: ground coriander was not mentioned in this recipe, but perhaps could be sprinkled on top or substituted for the cumin.

Came across this onion chutney recipe using coriander leaves which, worth making for your barbie or maybe serving as a sambal (side dish) to a vegetarian curry.
Piyaz ki Chutney:
4 large onions, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, shredded
2 tsp garlic, shredded
5 oz (150g) mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste
Put everything into a bowl (pref. a food processor) add a little water and blend to a smooth puree (or leave it slightly chunky if that is what you prefer). Stir well before serving. Will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, but eat at room temperature.