Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dinner party recipes Pt 2: Indian and Thai

Finally I'm getting around to posting the rest of the recipes I used for my dinner party in April. The first two courses were Japanese and Malaysian, and the recipes are here.

Third Course

Recipes for the Indian course came from two books; The Essential Asian Cookbook and Fresh Indian. I've already posted the recipe for the least successful dish, the spinach dhal, and what I did with the leftovers. The other recipes from Fresh Indian were as follows:

Chickpea Curry

1 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp grated root ginger
2 tbsp medium or hot curry powder
1x400 g can of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp grated jaggery or palm sugar
2x400 g cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I cooked my own dry ones and guessed at the amount)
low-fat yoghurt to drizzle
small handful chopped coriander leaves, to garnish.

Cook the chickpeas if you're using dried. Drain them.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds and add the curry powder. Stir and cook for 1 minute before adding chopped tomatoes and palm sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 - 12 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and mix well. Simmer for 3 - 4 minutes.

Up to here I did in advance and froze. I reheated it in a pot on the stove on the night of the party.

Season, remove from heat. Drizzle with the yoghurt and sprinkle with the coriander.

Pea and Potato Bhaji

1 tbsp light olive oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into fine strips
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies
400 g fresh or frozen green peas
400 g potatoes, boiled and cut into 1.5 cm dice
2 - 3 tbsp water
grated coconut, to garnish (I omitted this)

I had all of the ingredients ready to go, and cooked this at the last minute.

Heat the oil in a large pan and when it is hot add the mustard seeds. Stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes, until they start to pop. Add the ginger, cumin, chilli, peas, and potatoes. Stir fry over a high heat for 3 - 4 minutes, add the water, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook gently for 2 - 3 minutes and remove from the heat. Season and sprinkle with coconut.

South Indian Pepper Chicken

1 tbsp oil
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
1/2 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp grated garlic
625 g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
150 ml chicken stock or water
1/2 tsp tumeric
350 ml low-fat natural yoghurt

Heat the oil in a large pan and when hot add the bay leaf, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns. Stir fry for 30 seconds, then add the ginger, garlic, and the chicken. Stir fry over a medium heat for 4 - 5 minutes before adding the water or stock and the tumeric. Simmer gently for 10 - 12 minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Up to here I did the night before. I reheated it in a low oven in a covered casserole dish for 2 hours the night of the party.

Remove from the heat (or oven in my case) and drizzle over the yoghurt.

The rest of the recipes for this course, except for the Butter Chicken, were from The Essential Asian Cookbook.

Coriander Chutney

90 g fresh coriander, including the roots, chopped
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 small green chillies

Process everything in the food processor until finely chopped. Serve chilled.

This was truly delicious. People asked for the recipe and took away the leftovers!

Mint Raita

Combine 1 cup yoghurt, 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and mix well. Serve chilled.

Lamb Kofta

1 kg lamb mince
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
3 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 egg
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 green chilli chopped
3 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp tumeric
3 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup yoghurt
1 1/4 cups coconut milk

Mix all the meatball ingredients, except for the oil, until combined. Roll level tablespoonsful into balls.
Fry the meatballs in the oil in two or three batches until browned all over. Rmove from pan and put in a bowl or something.

Heat the oil in the pan. Add the onion, chilli, ginger, garlic, and tumeric. Cook, stirring, over a low heat until the onion is soft.
Add the coriander, cumin, chilli powder, vinegar, meatballs, and water and stir gently. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in the combined yoghurt and coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes with the pan partially covered.

I did this all the night before. I reheated it in a low oven in a covered casserole dish for 2 hours the night of the party.

Beef Vindaloo

This is how I did it, in a slow cooker. The recipe calls for browning of the meat, frying of onions and other soft ingredients, and long simmering on the stove.

1 kg gravy beef
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground fenugreek (I omitted, didn't have any)
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tbsp oil
3 medium onions, sliced
3 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup beef stock
1/3 cup malt vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Cut the beef into 3 cm cubes. Put it in the slow cooker.
Add the onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, vinegar, stock, and sugar to the slow cooker
Put the rest of the ingredients into the blender, and process until finely ground. Fry in the oil until fragrant, then add to the slow cooker.
Stir everything around and cook on low all day. Check it an hour or so before you want to serve it and if it is too wet, remove the lid and turn it on to high for the last hour to let it reduce.

This next recipe is a mishmash of every butter chicken recipe I've found, adjusted to suit my pantry and purposes. I don't like to use food colouring, and I don't have leftover tandoori chicken lying around!

Butter Chicken

1 kg skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 fresh red chilli, chopped
2 tsp garam masala
1 x 400g can of tomato purée
100 g butter
100 ml cream
300 ml natural low fat yoghurt

Heat a large pan. Fry the chicken pieces and onion gently in the butter until the onion is soft and the chicken has changed colour.
Add the garlic and spices, stir around some more on the heat.
Add the tomato purée, cream and yoghurt, and simmer gently, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is thick.

I did this all the night before. I reheated it in a low oven in a covered casserole dish for 2 hours the night of the party.

And the only other thing in this course was a heap of basmati rice; three cups of it, cooked in batches in the microwave and reheated in the microwave just before it was served.

Microwave long grain rice

This does not cook any faster in the microwave than on the stove, but it cooks prerfectly every time! You need to use a large bowl, because it tends to bubble up quite a lot.

For one cup of rice:
Put one cup of rice, 1 tsp salt, and 2 cups boiling water into a large microwave proof dish which has a lid. Nuke it, uncovered, for 16 minutes on high, stopping it to give it a stir half way. Remove from the microwave and cover. Let it rest for 3 or 4 minutes, then remove the cover and fluff it up with a fork.

For two cups of rice:
Double everything. Cook for 17 minutes, the rest as above. Because the boiling water is cooking the rice, and you have more water this time, you need an extra minute of cooking time to get the water back to boiling point after it's been cooled down by adding it to rice and bowl.


There were four Thai desserts, two came from Appon's Thai Food (Peridot Crystal Balls and Golden Haired Rice).

The third dessert was merely fresh fruit, chopped into bite sized pieces, and served in plastic bags with bamboo skewers to pick it up with. This is how you buy fruit from the street stalls in Bangkok, and it is delicious. I served rock melon, paw paw, and pineapple.

The fourth dessert was that old favourite, sticky coconut rice with mangoes. Again, I read lots of recipes and came up with a version of my own:

Sticky Coconut Rice with Mangoes

1 cup long grain glutinous rice
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 x 400 ml can coconut cream or milk (approximately - it was just what was left from everything else)
1 x 400 g can mangoes (couldn't find fresh ones)

Soak the rice in water for a couple of hours.
Put the drained rice into a muslin bag, and the muslin bag into a steamer over a pot of boiling water. If you have a Thai steamer you don't need to wory about the bag, but rice will just fall through the holes in a European one. Steam until the rice is translucent, about 20 mins - 1/2 hour. It's a lot quicker in a Thai steamer I think, because the rice sits down inside the pot.
Heat the coconut milk or cream with the sugar, and tip the steamed rice into it. Give it a good stir (the rice will have stuck together in a big solid lump), put the lid on the pot, and let it rest and soak up the liquid for 10 minutes or so.
Serve with slices of mango. Fresh is best, but canned will do.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My new toy and some experiment bread

Last week my friend Craig was going to bring me a trailer load of compost, so I made a big pot of pea and ham soup and a loaf of bread to feed him and his family lunch. As it turned out the weather was really crappy so I ate the bread myself, and had the soup during the week for lunches at work.

This weekend the weather is rather better for compost spreading - bloody cold, but not raining - so I got my compost, and had to think of something else to make for lunch. I ended up making macaroni with my Kenwood Chef pasta attachment (for the amusement of Craig's small son) and we ate it with defrosted and reheated ragu Bolognese, stir fried zucchini and mushroom, and this experiment bread:

It's my very first loaf of sourdough.

I've been culturing a sourdough starter for a couple of months now, but have only been using it to add flavour and texture to my weekly baguette (as per the instructions of Joe Pastry). This week I decided to go all out and make a sourdough loaf with no added yeast. I started on Thursday evening by building up my starter a bit. Bad me, I don't measure these things, but I can give a general idea of proportions. I keep the starter sticky but not runny, and generally have about 150 g in the fridge. I think I about doubled it, and left it out in my warm bedroom overnight to work. Friday morning I added about 2/3 of it (200 g?), my 100 g or so of defrosted old dough from last week's bread, 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, and about 2/3 cup water to the bowl of my Kenwood and mixed it on 2 with the dough hook while I made my porridge. I left in in the Kenwood bowl all day while I was at work.

My plan was to see how much it rose during the day, and if it was still siting there in a solid lump I could always add a bit of yeast at that point and carry on as if it was my normal bread. When I got home I poked it a bit and it seemed to be reasonably bubbly considering it'd been sitting in a freezing kitchen all day. Deciding it'd probably do, I tipped it out and shaped it, put it on a bit of baking paper on an oven tray, covered it with oiled foil, and left it in my bedroom overnight.

This morning when I went to bake it, it had stuck to the foil, and collapsed when I removed it! Nothing for it but re-shape it as gently as possible. I left it to rise again for an hour or so, then baked it at 250˚C on my pizza stone with frequent blasts of water from a spray bottle in the first 10 mins or so of cooking. I took it out of the oven after about 1/2 an hour or so - when it was nice and dark - and kept my fingers crossed.

It's delicious. The crust is chewy and the crumb is moist and tasty. I should have measured everything so I could re-create it! I dare say I can get pretty close though, and if not - I might create something even better.

New Toy

Below you see my new toy:

It is the cheapest single screw juicer I could find, and I didn't get it for making juice.

One of the things I always look forward to when visiting my son's family in Australia is the frozen fruit "ice cream" you get in the markets there. It's not ice cream at all, of course, it's pure fruit. It goes into a machine as frozen lumps of fruit (you choose your combination) at one end, and comes out the other as sorbet, more or less. You don't get this stuff here in New Zealand, and I just love it. My favourite is a mixture of banana, pineapple, coconut milk, and a bit of (not frozen) crystallised ginger.

I just discovered recently that the machine they use is a double screw juicer (~NZ$1000), but found in my search for something less expensive that you can also use a single screw juicer, and they are a lot cheaper. So I bought one. The courier delivered it to work the other day, and I tried it out (at work, I couldn't wait) with some frozen strawberries from the supermarket. Everyone who had some was very impressed - I think the place I bought it from may be getting some more orders.

Today I used it to make some sorbet for our desserts.

I made some with a mixture of Omega plums (which I freeze every year during their season) and honey …

… and some with strawberries …

… this is the plum and honey one (a bit messy, this serving):

… and this is the strawberry one:

It's heavenly. I think I might try bananas and raspberries together next.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Blue boots

No photo of lunch today. I went to lunchtime Journal Club, and you'd look a bit stupid photographing your food! One really interesting but way over my head talk about how fluorescence light microscopy is becoming of much higher resolution (much physics involved), and one on new developments in flu vaccines - it seems a couple of groups have at last found effective antibodies that are against a non-variable region of haemagglutinin , which means they should be effective against several types of flu, and for a long period of time.

My lunch was the last of the pea and ham soup (you've already seen that) and 200ml of low fat yoghurt with some pomegranate molasses and dried fruit. Very delicious it was too.

soup = 245 Cal
yoghurt = 100 Cal
dried fruit (sour cherries, craisins, strawberries) = 50 Cal
pommegranate molasses = ~ 30 Cal

Total = 425 Cal

My lunches are doing quite well on the calorie front, I just have to rein in my dinners now. It's so tempting to eat potatoes and cheese-saucy things in this cold weather though. At least my weight is holding steady on the whole, even if I'm not losing any.

I bought these blue (kingfisher? teal? peacock? - I just realised all those shades of blue are birds!) boots a couple of months ago because they were uber-cheap (~$15 I think) and because I have a jacket exactly the same colour.

They're not suede, they're that microfibre fake stuff, but actually quite comfortable despite the heels (~3 inch). Will wear them again.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eating up leftovers

Pea and ham soup left over from the weekend, and mini quiches-without-pastry from the other night. Soup reheated in work's microwave.

soup = 245 Cal
quiches = 150 Cal

Total = 395 Cal

My tights are a lot more attention-grabbing than my shoes today. I bought them on-line from England (you'd never guess, would you?).

The shoes are really quite old, they were given to me many years ago by - wait for this - my son's father's ex-wife, who was given them by my son's father's older brother's wife. Whew. They had hardly been worn then, and this is the first time I've worn them. They have little gold toecap thingies you can just make out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Late post

A b it late doing this today, work was hectic. And my new juicer arrived, so I had to try it out - but more on that another time.

Lunch was a bento again, the weather is holding up. Really there's not much nicer than a cold crisp sunny Autumn day in Dunedin - unless it's a Spring one.

I have six mini onigiri; two rolled in sesame seeds, two rolled in tamago nori furikake, and two rolled in wasabi furikake. I also have four quiches-without-pastry, some caperberries, a couple of cherry tomatoes, a bit of cucumber, some snow peas and some bean sprouts.

onigiri = 215 Cal
quiches = 120 Cal
veges = 30 Cal, if that

Total = 365 Cal

And I'm wearing some old platform shoes. They're actually very comfortable, but I've still fallen off them a few times. I think that says more about the good times they've seen than about the shoes themselves.

And I didn't realise how unkempt my toenails and socks were looking until I saw this photo up close! Must remember feet grooming. And discarding of stocking-socks when they get tatty.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More appropriate yesterday.

Just look at the view from my office window today:

After three weeks of truly awful weather, on the day I decide to bring nice hearty warming pea and ham soup for lunch, we get this glorious autumn day. It's not exactly tropical outside, admittedly, but you feel warm just looking at the sun.

I weakened and bought a bread roll from the supermarket to go with my soup too, so this won't be the most slimming lunch. The soup I actually made on Saturday, for when Craig was supposed to bring compost. It turned out to be a miserable day though, so we postponed the compost-spreading party and I had to eat an entire loaf of bread myself. At least the soup freezes well.

soup = 245 Cal
bread roll = ~250 Cal (guessing - it has some cheese on it)

Total = 495 Cal. Not actually that bad.

Pea and Ham Soup recipe

1 bacon hock
2 carrots, grated
1 onion, chopped
1 cup split peas

Put bacon hock in a big pot with enough water to cover. Bring to boil and simmer for ages - until it's falling to pieces. This took about 4 hours. Retrieve all the solid material from the pot, and feed the skin, bones, and fat to your favourite animals. After my cats have finished with it I put the remains outside for the hedgehogs. Taste your stock. If it is strong enough tasting you can add more water to it. You should probably end up with about 3-4 litres. Chop up the lean meat and return it to the pot. Let it sit overnight (in the fridge if your kitchen is warm). Next day, remove the fat which has floated to the top and solidified - your cats may or may not like this, but the hedgehogs will. I'm pretty sure your dog will too.

Add the carrots, onion and peas to the gelatinous bacony stock in the pot, bring to the boil and simmer for another hour or so, or until the peas have disintegrated and the carrots and onions are mush. Taste. Add salt if necessary. Eat.

Today I wore comfy Ecco boots. I needed to after those things yesterday.

And my trouser legs don't really sit like that. It's an artifact of my leaning forward to take the photo.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Just shoes today …

… and a bit of a landmark. Today is the first work day, since the beginning of Maki's five week Bento Challenge in January, that I've bought lunch. That's a very long time, and I'm rather proud of myself.

Today we had a lunch at the University Staff Club for one of our secretarial staff who is leaving - not something you should, or would want to, miss. I had rump steak (delicious) with a sort of rosti (not quite well enough cooked on the inside and not crispy enough on the outside either), and a caramelised onion vol-au-vent. Mostly pretty good, and a lot better than the last time I ate there. I also had a (big) glass of Pinot Noir, and am not feeling much like working this afternoon.

I bought these shoes on my recent trip to Adelaide. I really like the style, but man are they uncomfortable.

They sort of turn your ankles outwards, forcing you to walk on the outside of your feet. Very wobbly feeling, and painful after a while. Well, I did wear them on purpose today, knowing I'd not be going for a walk.

Friday, May 22, 2009

North Staffordshire oatcakes

I have no idea how authentic tasting my North Staffordshire oatcakes are, never having eaten one in North Staffordshire. I like them though, even though they are sort of … flabby, is probably the best way to describe them. Today I have two of them rolled around some tomato chutney and cheese, and I toasted them in my office panini press prior to eating. Carrots, broccoli, and prawns make up the other tier of my box.

oatcakes (1/2 cup flour and oatmeal mixed) = 250 Cal
cheese = 80 Cal
relish = 20 Cal
prawns = 37 Cal
carrot = 20 Cal
broccoli = 10 Cal

Total = 417 Cal

I'm getting into bad carb-and-cheese habits lately, and putting on weight as a result. I think it may be because of winter; cosy comfort food tends to be carb-rich and fattening.

My friend Craig is coming to visit tomorrow if the weather is suitable, bringing me some trailer-loads of compost for my garden. He and his wife and small son are having lunch with me, so I'm baking a large loaf of bread this week - it is to be hoped the weather doesn't put things off or I'll have to eat the large loaf myself, with further dire consequences to my waist.

Today's shoes are my "pirate boots":

They can be worn with the tops turned down too; very buccaneer-like. As you can see, it is raining outside and my boots got wet on my walk. Hopefully that may help them stretch a bit; they are just a tad narrow in the foot.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leftover chickpea curry

I'm slowly getting through the dinner party leftovers from the freezer. Today I have some chickpea and tomato curry which tastes a lot better cold than I had expected. I also have carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, and some salmon that I hot-smoked and froze a couple of weeks ago.

chickpea curry = 200 Cal
100 g salmon = 183 Cal
tomatoes = 6 Cal
broccoli = 10 Cal
carrot = 20 Cal

Total = 419 Cal

And the shoes today are very boring (but warm):

Sort of like running shoes but not - they're suede and too heavy. Walking shoes maybe.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The smoked salmon roses in my cauliflower salad got a little bit misshapen on the journey to work today. They did look rather cute when I first made them, especially with the coriander leaves. In the top tier I have carrot (if there was more sugar in it it'd be caramelised carrots, as it is I don't know what to call them), chestnut stuffing balls, and tamagoyaki with pickled vegetables in it. Colourful and balanced today.

cauliflower salad = 200 Cal
chestnut balls = 120 Cal
one slice smoked salmon = ~50 Cal
carrots = 20 Cal
egg = 100 Cal

Total = 490 Cal

And today's shoes are my old favourite black suede thigh boots:

I bought them over 20 years ago and still love them. They're flat, and lace up from the knees upwards at the back.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I will get fat

I had an appointment with an accountant at midday today. On the way back to work I swooped through the supermarket to get some more mandarins, and succumbed to the temptation of a bread roll. Except it turned out to be a whole twist thing and I hadn't used the tongs to pick it up so I had to buy it. Now I'll have to eat it all too (I've eaten about 1/4 of it so far), and it's a delicious cheese and garlic twist - at least 1000 Cal.

And on top of that my lunch is more fattening than usual too because I added some cheese to it for protein.

cauliflower salad = 200 Cal
cheese = 200 Cal
chestnut balls = 120 Cal
carrots = 20 Cal
Craisins = 30 Cal
bread = 300 Cal

Total = far too much. 870 Cal. Eeeek.

It started to rain while I was at the accountants, and while I was in the supermarket the heavens burst. So my shoes today are soaking wet trainers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cauliflower salad and chestnut balls

Today I am trying out the chestnut stuffing ball things I invented yesterday, and I also have some curried cauliflower salad. Instead of using Watties mixed veg in the salad, I put in some frozen edamame, diced red capsicum, and leftover steamed cabbage. I also have some broccoli and tomatoes. It's colourful and delicious, but a bit low on protein

cauliflower salad = ~200 Cal (mostly from peanuts and peanut butter)
chestnut balls = 120 Cal
broccoli = 15 Cal
tomatoes-= 12 Cal

Total = 347 Cal

And a couple of these make an extra 70 odd Cal:

Mandarins are finally in season, so my office fruit bowl has been filled.

Today's shoes are some rather nice Italian flats I bought in Auckland a few years ago.

They were never trendy, and they never become dated.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chestnut stuffing balls

These chestnuts were on special at my favourite Asian foodmarket the other day. I bought two packets and ate one on my way back to work. Too yummy!

I decided I'd have a bash at inventing something tasty to put in bentos. I adore stuffing, and had in mind a sort of stuffing ball, so I started off searching the web for chestnut stuffing recipes (I usually make sage and onion breadcrumb stuffing myself), then checked out what other things go with chestnuts.

I came to the conclusion that I'd be just as well off using my usual stuffing flavours, but instead of using breadcrumbs and butter, I'd use chestnuts and see what I needed in the way of moistening material when I got that far.

So here I have 100g (minus the one I ate) of shelled roast chestnuts which I processed in the food processor until they were breadcrumb-like …

… and a few sage leaves and some stalks of thyme, from which I stripped the leaves …

… I chopped the herbs …

… and peeled and diced half a small onion …

… I added the onion, herbs, a little salt, and half a teaspoon of baking powder (to make the balls less solid) to the chestnut …

… and whizzed it up. It was still crumbly, so I debated whether to bind it with egg or milk. All the stuffing recipes I found used chicken stock or something similar, so I figured egg wasn't necessary to make it stick together, and besides, I had a bit of milk left over in my steaming jug from my afternoon coffee. Milk it was then; I added just enough, bit by bit, to turn the crumbly mixture into a thick paste:

I rolled eight balls slightly smaller than golf balls, then thought I'd vary the rest by adding a nugget of something to the interiors. I'd have liked to use cranberries, but didn't have any. Likewise dried sour cherries. Most of the dried fruit I have would be too sweet, but then I thought of prunes. I like prunes, and they go well with pork. Sage and thyme also go well with pork, and I bet chestnuts do too. Prunes are therefore likely to go well with sage and thyme and chestnuts, I thought to myself. So I made eight more chestnut balls with prune quarters inside:

I put them all on a silicon mat-covered oven tray, and baked them at 180˚C (350˚F) for about 15 minutes.

And they are delicious.

They would be improved by the addition of fat, either by roasting in it or frying in it, but then most things are improved by fat unfortunately. A light spray of olive oil before putting in the oven would help crispify the outsides, but they really are very nice the way they are.

They work out at about 30 kcal per prune ball or 25 kcal per plain one.

I am going to enter them in Maki's vegetarian bento recipe competition.

Prune & Chestnut Stuffing Ball Recipe

100 g peeled roast chestnuts
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped finely
a little milk (or vege stock to make vegan)
4 prunes, quartered

Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F)
Process all ingredients except the milk and prunes in a food processor, until the mixture has the texture of fine breadcrumbs.
Add milk a teaspoon at a time, whizzing between additions, until the mixture forms a thick paste.
Divide into 16 portions and roll into balls. Press 1/4 of a prune into each and re-form the ball around it.
Bake on either a greased tray or a silicon mat in 180˚C (350˚F) oven for around 15 minutes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dhal pancakes

Today I tried out a couple of the dhal pancakes I made last night. One of them was spread with green tomato relish and grated cheese before rolling, the other was the one I didn't flip, but sprinkled cheese on the uncooked side and let it melt prior to rolling. They were both good cold, but the one with the melted cheese kept its shape better - I could pick it up whole with chopsticks and take bites from the end. The other one I had to break and pick up pieces of. The tomato relish was good though - I think the thing to do is go the melted cheese route, and bring a pottle of relish to dip it in.

I also have tomatoes, shredded cabbage, and a hard boiled egg. The egg is sprinkled with curry powder and salt today.

dahl pancakes = ~120 Cal?
cheese = ~105 Cal
relish = 10 Cal
egg = 90 Cal
cabbage = 3 Cal
tomatoes = 18 Cal

Total = 346 Cal

More blister-cosseting shoes today:

Cream suede boots. Need cleaning - cream suede is not the easiest thing to care for.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What to do with spinach dhal?

Make muffins, fritters, and pancakes.

I had about two cups of spinach dhal in the freezer, left over from my dinner party. It was the least successful of the dishes - it was far too runny, and in trying to reduce and thicken it I rather overcooked the spinach. I think I may have used the wrong lentils or something.

The recipe came from Fresh Indian, and I'm paraphrasing:

Spinach Dhal

Boil together 250 g red lentils, 1.2 litres water, 1/4 tsp tumeric, & 1 tsp finely grated ginger, skim any scum then simmer for 20 mins. Add 100g baby spinach leaves and a large handful of chopped coriander and cook another 10 mins or so.

Mine was like soup at this stage, so I cooked it quite a bit longer, until it was more porridge-like.

Heat 2 tsp light olive oil in a pan and stir fry 5 finely sliced garlic cloves, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, and one finely chopped red chilli until they're all very fragrant. Pour it over the dhal, mix well, season with salt to taste.

That was my dhal, but you could use any leftover dhal you happened to have.

To one cup of dhal I added an egg, 1/2 cup of chickpea flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and a little salt …

… mixed it well, hunting down little lumps of flour and squashing them …

… then dropped tablespoonsful onto a hot griddle …

… flipping them when bubbles rose to the surface:

I made eleven of these fritters.

Then I added another egg, 1/2 cup chickpea flour, and tsp baking powder to the other cup of dhal, and split the resulting batter in two. Into the larger portion I added some milk, enough to make a runny pancake batter. I poured about 1/2 a cup onto the hot griddle …

… and flipped it when it was nearly dry on top:

They're rather brittle, so need rolling as soon as they are cooked.

I made five of these, with slight variations - I put grated cheese in one before I rolled it, another I spread with green tomato relish and then put cheese on prior to rolling …

… and this one …

… I didn't flip at all. I covered it with cheese when it was just about cooked, then rolled it when the cheese had melted.

I made a couple of muffins from the smaller portion of batter by adding another 1/4 cup or so of chickpea flour then spooning it into silicon cupcake cases and nuking it on medium for 2 1/2 minutes.

Here are the resulting goods:

I'm having a couple of the cheesy pancakes in tomorrow's bento, and have tried the fritters as a base for cheese and tomato toasties (very nice) and cold, buttered with relish on (even better).

I think I'll have the muffins with tomato soup.

Fritter Recipe (will need to be adjusted according to the wetness of your dhal)

1 cup left over dhal
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg

Mix everything together and drop in tablespoonsful onto a hot oiled griddle. Turn when bubbles rise to the surface.

Pancake recipe

Add sufficient milk to the fritter batter to make a runny pancake batter (about 1/3 cup?). Mix well. Pour 1/2 cup at a time onto a hot oiled griddle or frying pan. Turn when the surface is almost dry. Roll as soon as it's cooked, with filling of your choice.

Muffin recipe

Add sufficient chickpea flour to the fritter batter to make a thick batter that will drop slowly from a spoon. Mix well. Fill silicon muffin or cupcake cases with the batter, then microwave on medium for 1 1/4 minutes per muffin. Or you could bake in a hot oven until cooked.

Another vegetarian bento

My friend Yoshio and his wife gave me some little rice ball moulds yesterday, one that makes cylindrical and one that makes triangular mini-onigiri. I tried out the triangular one last night; I made six brown rice onigiri, three wrapped in nori and three rolled in toasted sesame seeds. I also have stir fried zucchini and garlic, baked falafels, and a hard boiled egg in a nest of shredded cabbage. The cabbage has a non-oily dressing containing sushi ginger juice, rice vinegar, salt, and a little sugar.

1/2 + cup brown rice = 130
zucchini = 10 Cal
egg = 90 Cal
falafels = 120 Cal
cabbage = 3 Cal
sesame seeds, jalapeño, dressing = ~20 Cal

Total = ~373 Cal

And today's shoes are some Nine West ones I bought in America in 2000.

They're sort of fabric-covered foamy stuff and very comfortable. I like the way they blend into my tights.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Proper bento for a change

Making a colourful, balanced bento in winter (that you will feel like eating) is not easy. I really like warm food at this time of the year, and winter veges are not that bento friendly. However, the Brussels sprouts I had yesterday were quite tasty and I thought the leftovers might be OK cold. I tossed them in a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil to add a bit of non-sprout flavour and actually they're not bad. I also have some cherry tomatoes, tamagoyaki with Korean seasoned seaweed in it, a couple of baked falafels, and some pickled jalapeños. There is a bit of brown rice under the falafels and eggs.

rice = 214 Cal
falafels = 80 Cal
tamagoyaki = 110 Cal
Brussels sprouts = 45 Cal
tomatoes = 18 Cal

Total = 447 Cal

Today's boots were bought in an emergency a few years ago. I'd gone away for a few days in summer and there was a bad cold snap. I was freezing and went out to buy the cheapest warm pair of boots I could find.

These were heavily reduced because they are two different sizes. Both of which are larger than I really take - but that makes them perfect for wearing with thick socks, especially when I have blisters on my heels from yesterday's boots. And they're only one size different, which is hardly noticeable - one foot is further forward in the photo.