Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smoky Spiced Eggplant

1 1/2 to 2 lb eggplant ( I used a large italian eggplant)
1 red onion, chopped
1 garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced or grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
3-4 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 green chilli, chopped

You can prepare the eggplant in a number of ways. Scorch the eggplant over a medium flame or on the grill. Turning to make sure all sides are charred. Personally, on a work night, I just cut the eggplant in half, place eggplant on an oiled tray, cut side down and bake at 450F for 10 minute and then broil for another 5 minutes. This leaves me free to attend to other preparation work. Cool and then scrap out the flesh. Roughly chop the flesh.

While eggplant is in the oven, chop the onion, garlic and ginger. Slice and then dice the tomatoes. Half the chilli, deseed if desired and chop. Finely chop cilantro. Measure out the spices and salt.

Heat 2 tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic mixture. Cook until lightly brown. Add all the spices, salt and pepper, stir to combine and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add chopped eggplant and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chopped coriander leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

Serve this to accompany a meat or fish curry. Last night I served it with Dry Pork Curry.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dried Pork Curry

1 pork tenderloin, cubed.
4 inches fresh ginger, coarsely grated
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 pieces cinnamon sticks
10 cardamons
6 cloves
2 1/2 tablespoon ground chilli
2 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
a few spring curry leaves

Heat 2 tablespoon of oil over medium flame. Saute sliced onion until soft and translucent. Add garlic, cinnamon sticks, cracked peppercorns, curry leaves, the ground spices and salt. Saute until fragrant, stirring to combine and making sure it does not burn. Add 1- 2 more tablespoon of oil. Add pork tenderloin cubes. Stir to coat with spices and cook until cubes are brown. Stirring occasionally. Add 4 tablespoon of yogurt to the bottom of pan, deglazing the pan of the aromatics. Lower heat, cover and simmer until pork is tender and flavors develop, approximately 20 minutes. Remove cover and cook until most of gravy has evaporated.

Serve with rice and Smoky Spiced Eggplant

NB You can use beef, lamb or chicken in place of the pork.


The German adventure continues.......Schnitzel goes Eastern... becomes Katsudon!

Thanks to my talented German guest, I had a supply of cooked Pork Schnitzel in my fridge. Looking for an easy meal, I decided to use the schnitzel in place of pork katsu for Katsudon, a favorite Japanese meal of mine. I slice the schnitzel into 1/2 in strips. I laid the strips on top of the Katsudon sauce and served it over Japanese rice. Yum!

4 pork chop( or 4 precooked Schnitzel!)
Black pepper and salt for seasoning
2-3 tablespoon flour
1 egg, beaten
1-2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Make shallow cuts along the rim of the pork chop to prevent curling during cooking. Pound the chops until thin. Lightly season both sides with black pepper and salt. Roll in flour, egg and lastly breadcrumbs. Fry until golden before turning over and browning the other side. Traditionally the chops are deep fried but I just pan fry mine.

Soup Stock
1 tablespoon sugar
100 ml Mirin
75-100 ml soya sauce
100 ml dashi (or chicken stock)

Put all liquid ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
NB. I used 100 ml soya sauce and found it too salty for my taste

Other ingredients
1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Saute onion slices until translucent. Pour over the liquid ingredients. Simmer until onion is soft. Put the sliced Tonkatsu (or Schnitzel) over the simmering sauce, keeping the shape of the Tonkatsu/ Schnitzel together. After a minute or so, pour beaten egg over the Tonkatsu/ Schnitzel. Cook until just set. Scoop one Tonkatsu/Schnitzel together with eggs and onions and gently placed over cooked rice. Top with more gravy if desired. Serve hot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pomegranate Pork Loin

The beautiful pomegranate in my garden inspired me to make this dish. This is the first time I have cooked a rack of pork, or at least I have not done so in a very long time. It made a nice change from rack of lamb.I use pomegranate syrup you purchase at middle eastern stores instead of pomegranate juice. It gives a deeper flavor without spending time reducing.

I had purchase the most perfect baby potatoes the size of large marbles at Trader Joe. A simple salad of romaine lettuce, topped with avocado cubes and cherry tomatoes tossed in creamy dressing complete the meal. I think the next time, will top the salad with a sprinkling of the jewel like pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Marinade:

2 ounces peanut oil

4 dried red chiles

4 ounces garlic chopped

4 ounces sliced ginger

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 cups pomegranate juice or pomegranate syrup

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

6 ounces tamarind paste

4 ounces brown sugar

2 tablespoons coriander, toasted, crushed

2 ounces soy sauce

Prepare the pomegranate marinade. In a saute pan, heat the oil. Add the chilies and cook for 15 seconds. Transfer to a deep casserole, and add the garlic, ginger, green onions, pomegranate juice, rice wine vinegar, pepper, tamarind paste, brown sugar, coriander, and soy sauce.


Place the pork rack in the marinade and let it marinate it for 3 hours or up to 2 days, refrigerated.

Remove the pork from the marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the marinade into 2 portions. Reserve.

In a saute pan, over high heat, add the olive oil and 1 ounce of butter. Sear pork until golden. Transfer to a preheated 350-degree F. oven and roast for 20 minutes, basting with half of the reserved marinade every 5 minutes. Slice the chops apart and continue cooking until meat thermometer inserted into the chops reads 150 to 160 degrees F, another 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the remaining half marinade to a boil and reduce until thickened. Strain. Whisk in 4 ounces of butter. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Friday, November 20, 2009

German Butter Cake

Along came a German girl..... "what do you mean they don't sell vanilla sugar? What country are we in? I do not believe they don't have it!" She scans the shelves going up and down the row. Shopping for ingredients....... This all started because my dear husband wanted a butter cake. We looked at cake recipes all day but nothing satisfied her. Finally she downloads a recipe from the internet from a German website.

"I need a cup she says." I handed her a set of measuring cups which she rejected. "We do not use those." I suggested a tea cup which I have come across being used in some old British recipes. Again, she turns the idea down."...Ah, this is perfect." "You are kidding me," I retorted ," A MUG!" I questioned her but she is adamant - a mug it is.
"The recipe is from a Grandma site, old fashioned. It must be good, it has a 5 stars rating." We go with the flow since she is the one making the cake.

German Butter Cake
2 Pig mug flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 Pig Mug whipping cream (1 small carton)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 mug sugar

125 gm butter
4 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 mug sugar
200 gm sliced almond

Beat 1 mug sugar, 1 mug cream and 4 eggs together until light and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Add 2 mug all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Beat until incorporated. Pour batter unto rimmed buttered cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 395 F/ 200C.

Meanwhile, melt 125 gm butter. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 1 cup sugar and 200 grams sliced almond. Stir to combine.

Remove cake from the oven. Spread topping in an even layer over the cake. Return cake back to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until cake is cooked and topping is golden brown. Cake should pull away from the sides.

I was amused by this baking experience. I was expecting precise measurement and techniques. Instead I had this German girl downloading a recipe from the internet and then using the very precise Pig Mug to measure the dry ingredients! She does not sift the flour with raising agent, instead dump everything into the mixer. Guess what? It worked! The cake was delicious.

I learn the importance of vanilla sugar in German baking. The best I can establish it comes in 1 1/2 inch plastic package and is use very often the way we use vanilla essence, to add vanilla flavor to bake goods. Butter cake in the US is not what butter cake is in Germany. This was more like a sponge cake. In this version of Butter cake, the only butter was in the topping. I also learnt that when she ask for a hand mixer, she is asking for a whisk! I truly enjoyed the time I spent with my girl E baking.... although she has a strange way of slicing a piece of cake, don't you think?

For those of you who read and understand German, here is the link to the recipe http://www.ciao.de/Der_beste_Butterkuchen__Test_1205245

It appears that there was the Pig Mug was equivalent to 1 cup in measurement.