Uforic Food Cafe Torquay

Casseroles

Massaman Curry by one of my food heroes

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Watching Rick Stein on his Eastern Odyssey around Asia, I couldn’t help but be inspired to recreate this amazing Thai dish.

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It’s aromatic, nutty, warm with chilli, but far from blowing your head off, and it fills your home with the beautiful spicy fragrances of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

I was intimidated by the ingredient list – but one stop to my local Indian grocer and I was set. The lady at the shop was amazing – she whizzed around the little store with me looking at my list and grabbing everything I needed, including blade mase – which I had NEVER seen before. I strongly suggest you do the same – hit your local Indian/Asian grocer and the shopping list will no longer be a hassle!

I have to admit, I was also stressing about the chilli content – I mean 12 dried chillies sounded way over the top for a curry considered to be very mild in terms of Thai food. But, as you will see, this recipe calls for Kashmiri chillies – which I have since found out are hardly spicy at all. I’m glad I didn’t chicken out and reduce the amount of chilli, because at the end, it was just perfect.

This dish is definitely a weekend project – when you have time on your hands and just feel like having some “me” time in the kitchen with your mortar and pestle. It took hours to create this – but when we sat down and took the first bite – it was instantly worth it! Better than any jarred massaman curry I have ever tasted.

I have taken most of this recipe straight from Rick – but have added a few changes which I found worked well along the way.

Curry paste

  • 10 dried red kashmiri chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp green cardamom seeds (from about 20 green cardamom pods)
  • 16 cloves
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 2 large pieces of blade mace
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, soft inner core chopped
  • 1/4 cup of coconut cream

The curry

  • 1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into large chunks
  • 600ml of coconut cream
  • 6 black cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 8 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp of tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1/2 a cup of peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped

Method

For the curry, place the beef into a heavy-based pan with 350ml of the coconut milk and an equal amount of water. Add the black cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and salt, then bring to a simmer and partially cover the pan with a lid, leaving just a small gap for the steam to escape. Cook for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just tender. While that’s simmering, you can tackle the curry paste.

Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the dried chillies and fry for 1-2 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent the chillies from burning, until the chillies are lightly toasted. Transfer the chillies to a spice grinder or mortar.

Return the pan to the heat and add the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and blade mace and fry for a few seconds, shaking the pan frequently, until the spices darken slightly and release their aromatics. Add the toasted spices to the spice grinder or mortar and grind or pound to a fine powder.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry slowly over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until caramelised. Add the shrimp paste and spice mixture and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the mixture into a food processor, add all of the remaining curry paste ingredients and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside until your beef has cooked for the two hours set out above.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into large pieces.

Now that the curry has been simmering for two hours, remove the lid from the curry and discard the black cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, the potatoes, shallots, the curry paste, fish sauce, tamarind  and sugar and simmer gently, uncovered, for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes, shallots and beef are tender. Stir in the peanuts.

Serve with steamed rice and some fresh, chopped red chillies for those who like their curries a little hotter.

Rick Stein is one of my food heroes … although, let’s face it, I have quite a few. Whose receipes do you love and who inspires you in the kitchen?

XO

Lisa

Chicken with rataouille and risoni

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This recipe is fantastic because it’s very balanced – it has protein, veg and carbs – and best of all, it’s absolutely delicious and freezes extremely well.

Chicken with Rataouille and Risoni

 

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 2 large zucchinis, thickly sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, halved, thickly sliced
  • A good drizzle of olive oil
  • 8 large chicken drumsticks
  • 2 cups Italian tomato pasta sauce (or you could make my marinara sauce, click here for the recipe)
  • 1/3 cup dried risoni pasta
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 240°C. Place eggplant, zucchini and capsicum in a large roasting pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and some salt and pepper and use your hands to toss the vegies and ensure all the vegies are lightly coated. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until light golden.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add a little olive oil and cook the drumsticks in batches, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until light golden (you could use thigh fillets as well, if you like). Return all chicken to saucepan. Add pasta sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in risoni. Cook, covered, for a further 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Do keep an eye on it to make sure the risoni doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in roast vegetables and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve or transfer to containers for freezing.

This recipe is so easy and simple, but the roasting of the vegetables really adds a lovely depth of flavour. I know some people would like to use breast chicken for this. However, I really urge you not to, I think it would really take away from the flavour.

Fragrant lamb shanks with cummin and paprkia

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Back in the “olden days” nobody ate the shank part of the lamb, unless you were poor, because everyone seemed to believe the “cheap cut” wouldn’t taste good.

As I have learnt more and more about food over the years, I have come to the realisation that food today has benefited so much from the methods poor people, even many hundreds of years ago, used to use to not only make their food taste good, but also preserve it.

Take this as an example – many peasants in Italy could not afford to buy cheese to put on their dishes – so they ground their stale bread into crumbs, toasted them with a little olive oil (you can infuse them with other flavour too, like garlic and rosemary) and scattered them on top instead. If you haven’t tried this – it’s a definite must. It doesn’t taste like cheese, of course, but it’s a perfect alternative. It gives a beautiful texture to the dish with the crunch of the bread crumbs, but it also adds an excellent nutty flavour.

Meat really is no different. People with little money would take the pieces of the meat that no one else really wanted, like the lamb’s shank, and cooked them slowly – to make what would otherwise be tough meat, very tender.

Nowadays, lamb shanks are the “in” thing. Long cooking makes it melt-in-your-mouth – just incredible. Sadly now that demand has risen, the shank is no longer cheap – but well worth the money and the time to cook them.

I’m totally obsessed with Moroccan flavours at the moment – I think that’s why I came up with this. As soon as it comes to the boil, the smell of cinnamon, cumin and other spices just fills the house. So amazing!

Lamb shanks with cumin and paprika

Lamb shanks

 

  • 4 frenched lamb shanks
  • 1/3 cup of seasoned flour (salt and pepper)
  • 3 tsp Moroccan spice blend
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into thick slices
  • 5 button mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
  • 1 400gm can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley

 

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees (c)

Place flour and salt and pepper in a large freezer bag. Put one shank in the bag and toss it around until coated with flour. Repeat for all shanks.

 

Heat a few good glugs of olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan until it’s hot. Cook the lamb shanks on all sides until they are browned, but not cooked. The browning process is about increasing flavour – not cooking.

Remove the lamb shanks from the pan and add a little more oil, if required. Add the onion to the pan, with a pinch or two of salt and pepper and sweat for about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic, Moroccan spice blend, paprika, cumin and cayenne to the pan and turn the heat down. Stir the spices for a minute or two, or until they start to release their flavour. Don’t let them burn, or they’ll go bitter.

Now add the canned tomatoes, stock, zucchini, mushrooms and capsicum and return the shanks to the pan. Cover, bring to the boil and then once boiling, place in the oven.

Cook for 1 1/2 to two hours. Check after 1 hours to see how the meat is progressing. To tell if it is ready – the meat should almost be falling off the bone. Once the meat is cooked, stir the parsley through – this gives everything a really nice lift.

Enjoy with some steamed rice, or cous cous.

 

If you like all the warming flavours of cinnamon (which is part of the Moroccan spice blend), paprika and cumin, this is a recipe for you. The cayenne gives it a little kick, so if you don’t like it a bit hot, leave it out.

As winter leaves us and spring arrives, what dishes are you sad to be saying goodbye to?

Italian comfort food: Roman-style Chicken

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This recipe is from Italian cook Giada De Laurentiis. I love her show Everyday Italian – she makes comforting Italian food – and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy that!

She’s not a chef, but I have tried many of her recipes and like the lovely Nigella’s – they have always been fantastic! This version is my own – I just can’t help myself but to change a thing or two. Who are your favourite “celebrity” chefs? Who inspires you?

Roman-style chicken

  • 8 chicken thigh fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1 yellow capsicum, sliced (but you can use whatever colour is well-priced, I know yellow can be expensive)
  • 5 strips of prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a heavy-based pan bring the olive oil to a medium heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the capsicum and prosciutto and cook until they are browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan (these add soooo much yummy flavour and should never be discarded). Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve. 

This one is even better the next day, after it has been in the fridge and the flavours have had a chance to meld and enhance. Soooo yummy! Give this one a go and let me know what you thought in the comments section below.