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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Food!

This weekend has seen me cooking my little heart out - we have a new chest freezer, and the plan is to spend a weekend cooking and freezing meals so that when I do the zombie-shuffle in from work, I actually eat something.

So far I have a bunch of chicken, lamb in ginger, lime & coconut, lamb in garlic, rosemary & hoi-sin sauce, lamb curry, & the ultimate broccoli & cauliflower cheese. Best of all, apart from a bad moment when I thought I was going to asphyxiate myself with the curry spices, no actual incidents or bad moments. No setting fire to anything or dropping anything important, so at the moment I have meals for the next three working weeks. It means a little bit of extra time to write.

Anyway, I promised a couple of twitter buddies recipes, so here goes:

Note : the big, big secret to this not taking for ever is to have your stuff ready to drop in the pan. Do the chopping, slicing and dicing before you start cooking. Also, a word of warning - I have a fairly unique set of taste buds, and I cook to suit them - change or substitute to suit yourselves.

Lamb Chops with ginger, lime & coconut:

Ingredients:
2 - 3 tbs creamed coconut (I use the cream version because the last time I got a whole one, I eventually rode the car over it to crack the bloody thing. This is a LOT more convenient.)
2 tsps freshly chopped or 2 1/2 tsps powdered ginger
2 tbs lime juice
splash of lime cordial (yes, I know. I'm a barbarian. Live with it.)
1 tsp of sugar
Salt & pepper to season
Oil to fry in - I use olive oil, but use what-ever floats your boat, as long as it won't clash with the lamb taste.

Method:
Heat oil and place lamb into it. Season with salt & pepper and let caramelise. After a minute or so, turn lamb over, and add the other ingredients - start with the coconut and work your way down the list. The sauce breaks down in a thick, creamy light brown sauce with the ginger adding bite and the lime juice giving quite a bit of tang. It can be quite acidic until the sugar and lime cordial is added. This works really well with couscous as well as rice.

Ultimate Cheese Sauce:

Ingredients:
1-2 tsp butter
A handful of flour (I use cornflour, some folks use normal flour. Others skip the bother & use a packet mix. Do what works for you.)
1/2 pint of semi-skimmed milk (We're going to add a lot of cheese to this - full cream is just to rich, unless you're aiming for heart-attack-on-a-plate moments.)
2 tsps mustard (French works well in this one & adds a lovely tang to the sauce.)
1 cup cheddar cheese (grated unless you're happy to whisk for a very long time)
1 cup wensleydale cheese with cranberries
Salt & Pepper to taste
Splash of balsamic vinegar

Method:
Start on a very low heat, otherwise your sauce will split, or get lumpy. Unless you've been smart and gotten the packet mix, this part is a bit time-consuming.)
Melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Whisk until you have very fine paste. Start adding the milk a little at a time, whisking each time until the sauce is smooth. Whisk in the mustard, some of the salt, and the pepper. (I don't add all of the salt until the very end since the cheese & mustard will add quite a bit of flavour. It's very easy to over-salt at this point.)
Add the cheese little by little, whisking gently. Once the cheese has all melted, taste & add more salt if it's needed. A splash of balsamic vinegar at this point adds a lovely depth to the sauce.

If I'm making this for cauliflower or other vegetables, I usually place the already cooked veg straight into the sauce and give it a stir for a minute or so. It works brilliantly as a sauce for chips, steak, or a yummy addition to mashed potato.

If you still have lumps in your sauce, you have a couple of options. Blitz it for a few seconds in a food processor, or strain it through a fine sieve or muslin. If you take your time in the beginning stages, the odds of needing to do this are greatly reduced. (I'd recommend taking the time, especially since I tend to do special things like not putting the lid on the processor properly. Cheese sauce stains on the ceiling seem to upset the average landlord, and it's an absolute pain to get out of your hair.)

Let me know if you try the recipes and like them, and if you'd like anymore. In the meantime, I have a lemon-sauce & duck leg I need to get out of the oven.