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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Food adventures - cooking for 6

Like most Chinese people, I over cater. Chronically over cater. I mean, it must be an  in built genetic and cultural belief that there must be enough at any given time to feed double the number of guests you're expecting. Because who knows who else will drop by. And the number of guests you're expecting should always be rounded up by at least an additional 25%. Just in case.

So this is what I listed as menu for Australia Day light lunch:
  • Turkish bread (dips/dukkah)
  • Deep fried chicken wings
  • Spring rolls
  • A salad or two of some kind
  • Maybe a mini quiche thingy
  • Maybe lamb (cutlets) – Sam Kekovich tells me I need lamb to be Australian
  • A baked pastry dessert / olliebollen – depends if I have energy/time to make this in the morning
  • Watermelon
  • Ice cream/icey poles (I have Fruit Yoghurt Splits)
Additional just in case food: nachos, popcorn, BBQ prawns, salt & pepper squid, fish gujons and also an open filo apple pie. Not all of these were done... And this was just the pre-planning list.

I did make 80% of this, I only had from 11 til about 12:30 to cook.
The amount I actually pre-paredcooked:

Plate piled high!

1 mini loaf of Garlic Ciabatta
12 Vegemite & Cheese Palmiers (amended recipe)
24 Salmon & Chive Mini Quiches (amended recipe)
2 kg worth of Deep Fried Chicken Wings
1 kg worth of Parmean Encrusted crumbed Lamb Chops (amended recipe, no salsa)

Antipasto board
1 giant bowl of Garden Salad

1 giant bowl of Watermelon (cubed)
1 giant bowl of vegetarian fried rice (contains egg)
1 (unsuccessful) Banana Tart Tatin (or turn over tart)

Garlic Ciabatta
I bought the ciabatta loaf and just buttered and garlic'd it up! The pre-minced garlic tube you find in Coles or Woolworths is really handy for this and much fresher than jar. It doesn't really beat mincing your own but when you're short on time and expecting guests pronto this is simple cheat.

Vegemite & Cheese Palmiers (amended recipe)
I changed the filling as I didn't have enough parmesan. I used Vegemite & shredded cheddar cheese. I was initially meant to make a pull-apart loaf but didn't have enough time to make the dough. So this recipe was really handy. I only made 1 sheet of puff pastry and it made 12 small palm sized palmiers. Great as a snack. I love Vegemite and cheese and this is a quick and crunchier version of the toastie. The rolling of the puff pastry takes some getting used to, but other wise very easy to make.

Salmon & Chive Mini Quiches (amended recipe)
I find smoked salmon for mini quiches too over-powering in flavour. Instead I used canned Atlantic wild salmon, just very small pieces. I removed the dill from the recipe, not a dill fan. Used chives and 1 more egg. Lessened the cream - depends how runny you like your quiches I think.
Personally, in future I'd remove the salmon altogether and just go with normal bacon quiche lorraine and maybe a vegetarian variation - semi-sundried tomatoes.

Plate filled with quiches, garlic ciabatta & palmiers

Deep Fried Chicken Wings
I had a pre-mix fried chicken seasoning - bought from VHT (Asian grocers). It tastes a bit like what you'd get if you buy nasi lemak fried chicken. But I added extra paprika, salt & pepper and floured the chicken before frying to get more crispy-ness. It was easy finger food, but the frying in a small deep fryer took quite a long time.

Parmean Encrusted crumbed Lamb Chops (amended recipe, no salsa)
No cutlets to be found last minute at IGA. Bought lamb fore-chops, a bit more grissly - little round bone but meat texture-wise same as cutlets. Cutlets are just easier to cook through and pretty. I tenderised and then marinaded the lamb a bit (salt & peppered the lamb and added some dried thyme). Recommendation - mix some rosemary in would be even better than the thyme.

My (unsuccessful) Banana Tart Tatin (or turn over tart)
I didn't have a stove top compatible baking dish - so that's failure number one. I tried to reduce the sugar required for the caramel, failure number two. I also added cinnamon to the caramel... this didn't really affect the recipe. So essentially my caramel failed to "crystallize".
The banana gave out more liquid than I imagined.
Finally, I rushed the pastry part and added too much milk for glazing. This became a scoop out dish, the sugar-hit is deadly even with the reduced sugar. Served with Coffee & vanilla ice-cream, delicious if you have a sweet-tooth.

Idea for next time: just use small ramekins and serve straight from oven with a dollop of double cream on top and ice-cream on the side. Could try this with stewed apples!

The Chinesey recipes I won't bother going into, there's so many easy ways to make these. That you really don't need further instructions from me.

Overall the lamb was a great hit, I shall have to try this again with pork chops or something else. Have to say you do end up throwing out the oil you shallow fry in as the parmesan and breadcrumb mixture just ruins the oil for re-use for anything else.

I'm going to do olliebollen sometime next week and of course try the open filo apple pie this weekend when I find a spare moment to cook them. Tonight... pasta or lasgna?

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