17 December 2012

Christmas Curry

I decided to take a run at the Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal "CURRY" - basically it is a vego (pumpkin, cauliflower & chickpea) number with a few nummy sides. I like that the book also calls for "BEER". The full title of the 30 minute meal is CURRY ROGAN JOSH FLUFFY RICE CARROT SALAD POPPADOMS FLATBREAD BEER. Page 80.

As we have discovered, Jamie has some very big eaters for friends, and so I halved the amounts. I left out a few ingredients and also missed his carrot salad, pickled lemons and poppadoms (which we spell puppodums over here, never really thought about that before!). I added a raita as well. Somehow, between two overseas trips, an interstate trip and a massive charity dinner at my house, I seem to have come out with NO RICECOOKER anywhere in the house - which led me to run around, dilated crazy catseyes & poofy frazzle tailed, until I read in Mr Jamie's book that you can apparently cook rice some way OTHER THAN A RICECOOKER? - crazy non-Chineseses! First time ever making rice by the absorption method, felt very proud and also dirty.

I told my seestah and my bro-in-lo to come round, coz it's more fun cooking for company and having a billion leftovers, than eating alone and having a bajillion leftovers. My freezer's only small, you know. We did "present-ing" (two Capricorns in one relationship, lord help us) and had alcoholic and desserty accoutrements. Bro-in-lo responded to a last minute bat-signal and provided (very nice) beer. All in all a big success.

PUMPKIN/VEGO CURRY de Jamie by Deanne:

Boil a kettle of water and have it standing by. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Peel and slice an onion, add it to a large pan on high heat with a splash of kettle water and a drizzle of olive oil.

Use a pre-halved (love ya work, IGA) butternut squash/pumpkin (lengthways). Remove the seeds with a soup spoon, halve the half again lengthways (ie into a quarter-pumpkin) and chop into 1cm wedgy chunks. Jamie omits the seed bit, but I didn't find it took that much more time. Add to the pan.

Remove the tough outer leaves of a cauliflower half (thanks again, grocery store) and then cut into bite sized chunks, higgledypiggledy and chuck them in the pan, with two big handfuls of cashews. Stand and stir and stare vacantly into the pretty colours and watch as the flame transforms the outside corners of the vegies into blackened sweet spots of flavour explosion. Mmm, stir. Stir. Ahem.

Add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes, then a couple of cloves of finely chopped or minced (if only I had a garlic press on both coasts of Oz!) garlic, a generous splash of kettle water, a jar of store-bought curry paste/sauce mix (I used a jar of Korma paste I found in the back of the pantry). Open a tin of chickpeas but don't drain - just pour in the chickadees and their juices straight into the pan. Salt, pepper, stir and fire up the heat. Cover if you have a lid or don't if you only have a wok and no big pans in your house. Ahem. Stir when you remember to, add kettle water when you remember to.

RICE by Jamie's Absorption Method, or non-Chinese witchcraft, as I like to call it:

Pour a mugful of rice into a medium saucepan with a "lug" of olive oil and a few cloves, salt and pepper. If you don't have cloves, use a chicken stock cube. Ahem. Cover with two mugfuls of boiling water from the kettle (same mug as the rice ie 1:2), put the lid on and boil on medium heat for 7 minutes. Yes I did watch the clock. Then after that, take off the heat with lid still on and sit for 7 minutes to steam through.

FLATBREAD Jamie says Chapattis, I say Naan Breads, let's call the whole thing off!

Scrunch up a large sheet of baking paper under running water, flatten it out on a baking tray, layer the store bought flatbreads on top, with a spray of olive oil and a sprinkle of chopped garlic between each bready doona (or turmeric if you are Jamie). Wrap them in the paper and put them on the middle shelf of the oven at 180 degrees.

RAITA or as I was once told by a waiter in a posh resort restaurant in Alice Springs once "no, we don't have any raita sorry but this is mint and yoghurt sauce to go with your meal."

Shred/use vegie peeler/slice etc a small lebanese cucumber into unembiggened slivers.
Chop up a handful of mint.
Pour a tub of natural yoghurt on top. I used "Greek" style but in future I think I will seek out the "European" style next time, I find it more tart (no comments, thanks).


Thank your bro-in-lo profusely for complimenting your "very classy bottle opener" that was actually a freebie/stolen from a crab smashing event. No really.

Compliment your bro-in-lo on his excellent taste in beer.

Serve up, with presents on the side (a touch early this year as I'm going back interstate to my "other home" for the silly season).

Happy Curry everyone!

02 December 2012

Pasta cheat!

Sometimes, I walk past my local Italian restaurant and all I can think is alio olio alio olio alio olio...vongole...
Then I get home and realise that all my recent travel has meant that a) I have no alio b) I've killed my basil plants and c) I have not been shopping in ages and I have no fresh seafood. Like last night.

Fortunately I had a full tub of Chunky Basil, Cashew and Parmesan dip (do you remember, back in the early noughties when these first started appearing on supermarket chiller shelves? What a godsend!), a few squashy old mini-Roma tomatoes, half an onion from who-knows-when, some instant spaghetti (cooks in 8 minutes!) and my usual pantry staples.

So I boiled up the pasta and at the same time drizzled olive oil & balsamic vinegar into a frying pan and blackened the tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and powdered garlic. I then added the chopped onion and cooked through until translucent to get the flavour out of its sorry bones. I then smooshed the tomatoes hard with the back of the spoon. The basil dip tub was unceremoniously dumped into the pan and then the pasta was done so I mixed it all up in the frying pan to coat the strands and hey presto! Alio olio tomato pesto.