Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taste & Create: Seduce Your Taste Buds Thali

Eugh. I feel like a Zombie. I've gone from unemployed to over-employed in no time flat! (Not that I'm complaining per se - I'm grateful for the opportunity to be earning some savings!)But I've got a looong week of 3 shifts/day for the next 7 days so this is gonna be a brief post to get the important things out there... :)

After next week I will fill y'all in on all the details!

I had fun with Taste and Create this month! I was paired with Padmajha of Seduce Your Tastebuds and my taste buds were most certainly seduced! PJ offers a lot of tasty looking vegetarian, Indian food. Rather than selecting just one recipe to try out - I decided to chose five, and make a Thali.

'Thali' refers to the plate used to serve this meal, and is basically either a metal tray with little dishes for many curries/chutneys or a single plate with indentations. The thalis we have are of the indentation variety.

Clockwise from top left: Tomato Raita, Aloo Fry, Garlicky Spinach
Rice, Sambar. Centre: Black Sesame Seed Chutney.

The recipes I chose were:
  • Aloo (potato) Fry which was amazing my favourite dish of the five! Spicy, slightly crispy and the most beautiful shade of yellow. Yum yum.
  • Sambar which is a sort of runny lentil dish that I'm not a huge fan of. And, although tasty, this particular recipe didn't make a convert out of me... my guests really enjoyed it though! I really enjoyed getting out the mortar and pestle to grind my own sambar powder though!
  • Garlicky Spinach Rice does what it says on the package - it's the most lurid green colour! Just brilliant!
  • Tomato Raita which is a little different for the cucumber/minty raita I'd usually make. It was fun and will no doubt feature on my table again!
and finally...
Now, as students, some of the spices called for may be a little odd... but, if you can buy them in only the quantities you require, can be sourced quite cheaply! I especially recommend the Aloo Fry as a good flatting meal!

Final conclusion? This was fun! And with the exception of the Sambar (which is more a reflection on me, than on the recipe itself) I'll be making these recipes in the future! The Aloo Fry was the absolute star!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Apple Streusel Inside-Out Cake

This is an amalgamation of two recipes and two ideas... I was asked, by my mother, to make a dessert for a dinner we were having that would use up some apples we had lingering in the fridge. There were only three - so not enough for baked apples... and I didn't feel like making Apple Pie en miniature either... So apple cake? Yeah - I like apple cake. I love the streusel topping! But... I want something more - I want to make it interesting! I know- what about cheesecake/frosting on the inside?!

I combined and played with two recipes to make this one, inside-out cake the first was Catherine Bell's 'Apple Spiced Streusel Coffee Cake' and the second came from a cookbook written by a family friend the recipe was called 'Chocolate Surprise Muffins'. The muffins have a surprise, cheesecakey centre that I recreated for this cake. Which is not, by the way, a diet food. By any stretch of the imagination!

The result was a tasty cake with a delicious, crunchy topping and a surprising, creamy centre - well worth recreating! Though I do say so myself...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marmite Spaghetti

... or, in my case, Vegemite Spaghetti. Because that's what I had. Also, Australian Vegemite is closer (in flavour, but not texture) to English Marmite than New Zealand Marmite is... Make sense? No? Good.

This is another Nigella recipe, and a absolute, bottom-of-the-barrel cupboard scratching recipe. Tasty though! Well worth making even when you do have sufficient ingredients to make something else.

do you think the pasta looks tastier from this angle...

The result is a salty, savoury pasta which is tasty when served under cheese. In much the same way that toast can be made tasty and savoury by being served beneath marmite (or vegemite) and cheese.

The sauce is simple enough to make... and if you want to feel as if you're eating a balanced meal - add some peas at the last second to the pasta water for a splash of green!

...or this angle?
I won't get into the vegemite vs marmite debate... you can suit yourself! Either will work just fine... :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gooey Chocolate Puddings

Okay. So that's not the most beautiful photo ever. But the dessert is depicts is definitely one of the tastiest!

I made this last year as a Birthday treat/cake... so although it's not everyday student food - it is a feasible special occasion food - especially as it's only for two!

This is based on a Nigella recipe - so you know it's going to be good! I've pared down the ingredients list from serving 6 to serving two. Also, I baked the "babycakes" in my Texas muffin pan... so they got a little mangled on the way out... but it didn't matter they were still fantastic!

Because I baked them from fridge cold there was an amazing texture gradient from crispy outer shell, to gooey mantle with a firm, truffle like centre, which I think would be lost if one were to bake them straight from making.

I served them with chocolate ice-cream and a dusting of cocoa-y icing sugar (I'd give the dusting a miss next time)...

Final verdict? Although far from a regular food, on any budget, in any world - these are the ultimate, once-a-year treat! Mmmm!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Peanut Chocolate Cookies

I looove peanuts! In fact, I looove just about every nut I can think of... :) But peanuts are pretty awesome. Especially because they're affordable even when you're broke. Unlike almonds and macadamias... Snobs.

I wanted to make a really peanut-y peanut and chocolate chip cookie! But I didn't have a recipe that was going to offer what I wanted it to - so I developed my own!

I thought about substituting all the butter from an original recipe for peanut butter - but Google suggested that that wouldn't work... So I subbed half. I also halved the quantity of sugar (surprise!) and made the chocolate chip measurement half chocolate chunks/half salted, roasted peanuts, added in some refrigeration time... and then I made the cookies HUGE!!!

I don't know why I do this. I like crunchy cookies. And I like gooey cookies. But I do not like cakey cookies. I know this. And I also know that taking a "should be" crunchy cookie and making it HUGE will result in a cakey cookie... and therefore I won't looove it... but I find the allure of a ginormous cookie too strong! And have yet to learn to listen to my inner voice which says "Kat. No."... but that voice does seem to know only those two words... so I've learned (learnt?) to drown it out!

In an effort to combat the huge cookies = cakey cookies equation I did refrigerate the dough for about an hour before baking them. Apparently something to do with the butter melting from scratch inside the cookies helps ensure fudginess? Or something... I can't quite remember the mechanics of it all! I think if I hadn't subbed half the butter for peanut butter this may have worked... but as peanut butter isn't famous for its melting properties... gooeyness was not achieved.

The flavour was great, though - so I'd recommend that future cookies are made normal sized and enjoyed two at a time. With milk. All cookies should be enjoyed with milk. :)

P.S. My favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe makes HUGE and gooey cookies... but the amount of butter required is astronomical... and convincing my Mother that making them is a good idea is not an easy task... but watch this space!