Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bacon and potato patty fritters

I often wonder how cafés decide on their menus – do they copy what other popular cafés serve, or maybe they focus on what their chef’s specialties are? Problem is, when the chef departs, does the new chef have to keep making the same things? Not sure why I’m wondering about something like this, it’s not like I'll be opening a café or anything.

It does lead me to ponder: why do I usually order fritters if they are on a café menu? There is a local café here (All About Romanas) that serves some amazing corn fritters with a sweet tomato salsa. Mmm, mmm! The corn fritters at bill’s in Surry Hills are also pretty great. Give me a good fritter and I’m happy.

Looking back through some of these blog posts, it’s clear I’ve become a bit of a fritter freak. Well, they are pretty easy to make, and fritters (or patties, if you prefer), do have that hearty homemade vibe about them. They’re also ideal for lunch the next day, if there are any leftovers. Here’s a recipe for bacon and potato fritters/patties because I couldn’t find a corn fritter one.

Maybe I should rename this blog "Ooh, Look... Fritters!". Because fritters are becoming the love of my life.
 ~ Fritter Gal, out.

Bacon and potato fritters
Serves 4

100g bacon, chopped
500g (1 lb) desiree potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tblsp wholegrain mustard
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tblsp chopped chives
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tblsp plain flour
Rice bran oil or sunflower oil, to shallow-fry

1. Place a frypan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until golden but not too crisp. Drain on paper towel.
2. Cook the potatoes by placing the potatoes in a saucepan of cold water with a little salt added. Bring to the boil and cook until tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain and cool.
3. Transfer the potato to a bowl and roughly mash. Add the mustard, breadcrumbs, chives and beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Fold in the bacon pieces.
4. Use damp hands to shape the potato mixture into patties about 2cm (1½“”) thick. Dust lightly with flour.
5. Heat about 1cm (½“)of the oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Cook the patties for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden. Drain on paper towel. Serve with salad and lemon wedges to squeeze over.

recipe adapted from delicious (dec 2011/jan 2012)

Simple: peel the potatoes, mash the potatoes (add mustard and egg), form the potatoes into patties, shallow-fry the patties

Serve the fritters/patties with some greenery and lemon. And maybe a little mayonnaise.


Here's the latest Tabitha vs Henry installment.
*Cue Jaws music*
Henry's sneaky approach resulted him being hissed at by Tabitha.
Only a pane of laminated glass prevented an all-out cat fight from developing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A nice, better butter rice

I've been noticing recently how many people/bloggers are making up their own recipes. I think this is incredibly clever, since I'm the type of home cook who has to follow a recipe to the letter - for a several times at least - before I even think of tweaking it slightly. Most substitutions I make are if I don't have an ingredient on hand or when leaving it out won't really make a difference.

Most of the recipes I post here are photogenic if nothing else. And most of them have been tried more than once before appearing. There's no reasoning behind this, except that the first attempt is usually too pathetic to write about or even photograph!

But here's an exception - this Butter Rice turned out perfectly the first time. It's similar to this easy Kedgeree recipe in that you cook the rice in some stock and let it stand for a bit before eating. This makes the rice more tender because it 'cooks' a bit longer off the heat. I'm hoping this winning dish will be the start of a wonderful run of luck in the kitchen for me *fingers crossed*

Butter rice
Serves 4 as a side dish

20g butter
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
2 dried bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup frozen peas
2 tblsp fried shallots

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
2. Add rice, bay leaves and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
3. Gently stir through the peas and remove from the heat. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
4. Remove bay leaves and serve the rice in bowls, sprinkled with fried shallots.

Recipe adapted from Super Food Ideas

Ingredients, including rice, bay leaves, lots of butter, chicken stock, garlic, ginger and fried shallots/onions.

This rice turned out surprisingly fluffy considering it's made in a saucepan rather than a rice cooker.
It's also incredibly tasty (that's all the butter in it), and would make a good side dish in a banquet.

And for the cat that has everything - except a decent food bowl because her owner broke her previous one last year and hasn't been able to find a nice one until now:
It's also a consolation prize for having to put up with evil Henry.
This adorable bowl is from Ruche, where you can pick up vintage-y dresses and handbags as well as pet accessories. Sweet!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken chorizo salad

I was reading The Guardian's review (here) of Bill Granger's new London restaurant, and there was some snarky feedback about the fact that Bill is not really a 'chef', but rather, a savvy cafe operator and arranger of food (in that case, I'd like to hear their comments on Donna Hay...)  But is there anything wrong with simple, fresh food served in pleasant surroundings? No, nothing wrong at all.

And here's another non-chef - Nigella Lawson. The lack of cheffing skills certainly hasn't hurt her reputation, either. Regardless of the number of fancy cookbooks I own (heaps), it's always the ones that are not too complex that I end up cooking from, and Nigella's are at the top of the pile (together with DH and BG). The throwing-together of ingredients for this chicken and chorizo salad was inspired by something on the Nigella Kitchen tv show. I substituted croutons for the original potato to make it even easier. It's tasty and quick and I love it.

Chicken and Chorizo Salad
Serves 2

4 small chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of fat
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
1 small red onion, cut into chunks
½ red or yellow capsicum, deseeded, cut into chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks OR a handful or two of bread croutons
1 tblsp olive oil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ cos (romaine) lettuce, trimmed, leaves separated

1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
2. Place the chicken, chorizo, onion, capsicum and potatoes, if using, into a baking tray that is large enough to hold everything in a single layer. Pour over the olive oil, then sprinkle with the dried oregano. Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are soft.
3. If you are using croutons instead of potatoes, put the croutons into the baking tray for the last 10 minutes of the cooking time.
4. To serve: Divide the cos lettuce leaves between 2 plates, then top with the baked chicken, chorizo and vegetables.

Put the chicken thigh fillets in a roasting pan with the chorizo, onion and capsicum, and roast.
Add the croutons towards the end of the cooking time.

Serve on cos lettuce leaves with the oil from the baking tray drizzled over.

Another in a series: What Cat is That?*
(or, What is wrong with this picture?**)
* It's evil Henry
** What's wrong is that Tabitha can't go into the backyard when Henry's around because she'll hiss at him and then he tries to scratch her

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vietnamese chicken pork liver pâté and a bad cat

A couple of weeks ago, the Sydney Morning Herald had available some free downloads of extracts from recent cookbooks. I had good intentions of downloading them all, but in the end only managed to get a couple. One of them was the Hanoi chapter from Luke Nguyen’s Indochine book.

Indochine is more than a cookbook; it’s more of a memoir and travel journal of life in Vietnam, intermixed with life stories of the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine. I’ve only read this Hanoi section and it’s very entertaining.

This recipe for chicken and pork liver pâté is also interesting, and I wanted to try it to compare to my benchmark go-to version of chicken liver pâté. This one uses pork liver and pork mince as well, and it gives the pâté a very liver-y flavour, so you’d have to like liver to like it, I think. I prefer the chicken liver-only version, but this one would probably be better in a bánh mi with some pickled carrot, pork belly and (evil) coriander.

Chicken and Pork Liver Pâté
Serves 6

200g (7oz) pork livers
200g (7oz) chicken livers
100g (3 ½ oz) butter, softened
100g (3 ½ oz) minced pork
2 French shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tblsp brandy, Cognac or Grand Marnier
4 tblsp pouring cream
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper

1. Clean the livers of fat and sinew. Cut the livers to be the same size, about half the size of a chicken liver. Wash under cold, running water, then dry well with paper towels.

2. Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the livers and fry for 2-3 minutes, until brown on the outside but still pink on the inside. Remove from the pan to a plate.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the pork mince to the pan and cook through, about 2 minutes (do not brown the meat). Remove pork from the pan and place with the livers.

4. Wipe the pan clean, then add 2 teaspoons of butter and fry the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly caramelised. Increase the heat and return the lives and pork to the pan. Pour in the brandy/Cognac and ignite the alcohol, or allow the alcohol to bubble away for 1-2 minutes.

5. Place the liver mixture, together with the remaining butter and cream, into a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into clean ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Serve at room temperature with fresh baguettes.

recipe adapted from Indochine: Hanoi by Luke Nguyen

Ingredients, including chopped shallots, butter and chicken and pork livers and a splash of Grand Marnier.
The resultant pâté resembles cat food, which is why Tabitha cat perked up when she saw it.
And that's a wooden piggy chopping board that I got for my birthday.

Take the pâté out of the fridge about 30 minutes before eating, to soften it up a bit.
It's pretty good with some crusty bread.

I'll finish off with a picture of a bad cat. That's Henry, a neighbouring Burmese. Henry has been flocking around for the past few weeks, stalking Tabitha by eating her cat grass and catnip, lying in her favourite spots (on the warm pavers and on the wall), scratching up the back doormat (there were clumps of coir all over the yard and the mat had to be binned). Oh, and he murdered my goldfish (Spot) by scooping him out of the pond and leaving him on the ground in the sun. Evil Henry. You'll get what's coming to you, buddy.
PS: The glass on the doors has been cleaned since this picture was taken.
All the better to see Henry with...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolute zucchini and pomegranate

Here we are in a new year!

I'm not usually one for resolutions, but I believe the old chestnut, "Eat healthier" is traditionally trotted out, so that will be my resolution this year. Oh, and "Buy less stuff" should be added to the list as well, because I purchase so many unnecessary things, it's affecting my well-being (no room to move in the house and guilty conscience about the carbon footprint) - so fewer  magazines, scrapbooking supplies and online dresses and handbags for me this year.

To help things along, here's a relatively healthy dish. You are supposed to shallow-fry the zucchini, but in the interests of good-for-you-ness, it's probably okay to reduce the oil.

PS: Does anyone have experience with salicylate sensitivity? I'm doing a bit of self-diagnosis and salicylates are next on my list of things that might be affecting me.

Fried zucchini with balsamic dressing
serves 4

3-4 tblsp olive oil (for shallow frying)
4 medium zucchini, quartered
1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed

Balsamic dressing
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tblsp honey
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1. Heat the oil in a non-stick frypan over medium heat. Add the zucchini and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. When cooked, remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain.
2. For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients until combined.
3. To serve: Arrange the zucchini on a plate, season with salt and pepper and pour over some of the dressing. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving.

recipe adapted from delicious (Nov 2011)

Ingredients, including festive pomegranate and year-round zucchini.
To easily remove the seeds from the pomegranate, use the 'whack a pom' method.

The dressing just needs to be whisked together.

Serve the pomegranate seeds on the fried zucchini for a bright-tasting combination

PPS: Check out my Sydney fireworks photos on my Craft blog, here