25 June 2017

A Different Aubergine Dip

Often when I'm bored, I'll look for recipes and I came across this one, which seemed very intriguing. Besides, Lundulph always states that aubergines are his favourite purple vegetable, so I set about to make it.

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Like many of the people commenting on this recipe, the main surprise is the boiling of the aubergines. And although I opted for the standard type of aubergines from the supermarket, after boiling, the texture seemed along the right lines and they were very easy to peel. I was wondering if this could be an alternative to baking/roasting them for kyopoolu.

I cut the aubergines in chunks, added the remaining ingredients and blended. Yes, the original recipe state to do everything in a pestle and mortar, but I don't have a large one and it's ceramic and unglazed, so would have soaked up a lot of the liquid and probably ruined everything else I'd choose to put in it ever after.

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It certainly looks a bit like kyopoolu, doesn't it? But, what struck me was the blandness of the dish, even after letting the flavours develop overnight in the fridge. It could well be because I used European type of aubergines, it could well be that I used the generic supermarket chillies. But it was not nice to eat at all and I was very sad about it, because it did sound nice. I mentioned the boiling of aubergines to my Mum and she didn't think this was a good or interesting idea at all. She turned out to be right in this instance. I may try this another time with the correct ingredients, but I might just stick with my pepper roaster and get the smoky flavour that I so like.

21 June 2017

Shredded Beef

This is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but never got round to. However, during my last escapade to Costco, I picked up some very nice looking flank steak with the vague intent of doing something slow cooked like a guyvetch. But when I found this recipe, that vague intent took form into a plan.

Lundulph is not a big fan of tacos or burritos, but with my recent escapade into Vietnamese street food, I have a plan for the shredded beef already.

A note on the ingredients. The original recipe states 1.5 kg of meat, I had just over 800 g, so was going to halve all other amounts. But I didn't write down the halved amounts, which resulted in making the full amount of sauce. This is not a bad thing.

Ingredients

Spice mixture
1.5 tbsp chipotle flakes
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Other ingredients
1 - 1.5 kg beef suitable for slow cooking
3 large cloves of garlic
1 large onion
1 ¾ dl orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
400 g can crushed tomatoes
5 dl beef stock (3 Oxo cubes)
2 - 3 tbsp grapeseed oil

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients for the spice mixture in a mortar and pestle and stir through to mix well and also grind things down to roughly the same size.
  2. Cut the beef into large chunks (about the size of a hand) if needed and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Sprinkle the meat with about half of the spice mixture, pat to get them well coated and get the spices to stick.
  4. Peel the garlic and onion and dice. Prepare the beef stock if using stock cubes.
  5. Put the oil in a casserole dish and heat on high, then brown all the meat, in batches if needed so as not to crowd it and set aside.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add a bit more oil, if it looks dry. Add the garlic and onion, stir well, scraping the bottom of the casserole to get the flavour from the beef. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, to soften the onion.
  7. Add the orange and lemon juices, the crushed tomatoes and beef stock along with the remaining spice mixture and stir through to combine.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 160 °C and add the beef back into the casserole. It should be mostly covered by the liquid, if not, add a little water.
  9. Bring the stew to a boil, cover the casserole and put in the oven for 2 h.
  10. After 2 h, check if the beef is tender enough to pull apart with a fork, if not, let it cook for a further 30 min and check again. Repeat until the beef is shreddable.
  11. When the beef is done, carefully remove from the cooking liquid and shred with a couple of forks while it's still hot.
  12. Carefully blend the cooking juices to make smooth, then simmer without lid to reduce to the desired consistency.
  13. Mix the shredded beef and sauce as required, but keep separate for storage/freezing.

This recipe was surprisingly easy and having ready-made shredded beef in advance is quite a bonus, Lundulph had it as his protein ingredient in his salad on the same night I made it, then had some with ratatouille for lunch the following day, along with some of the sauce, prior to blending and reducing. Now that sauce has some kick to it from the chipotle flakes, I got tears in my eyes after a couple of spoonfuls of my ratatouille, not to mention my traditional coughing and spluttering on the first mouthful of spicy hot food, which I very rarely manage to dodge.

So, a good place to stop is after shredding the beef. I was sorely tempted to just leave it in chunks, but suspected it would be more difficult to shred, once it had cooled down, so shredded it straight away. I've yet to blend the sauce and I'm not sure it needs to be reduced and thickened any further, perhaps this makes more sense if I'd added extra water for the slow cook. I've also yet to freeze this dish. The original recipe recommends keeping beef and sauce apart to avoid the beef going soggy and I think this is a good idea, so I'll stick with that.

The sauce was certainly a good add-on to my usual ratatouille, which this time also benefitted from some broad beans, which I got from my local Pick-Your-Own.

My main plan with the shredded beef is to use it in Vietnamese Salad Rolls for Midsummer's Eve, which is tomorrow.

I'm most pleased with finally trying out chipotle chillies. Though I'm sure I've eaten dishes with chipotle chillies, but I've never used them . When I bought them from the shop, I also took the opportunity to buy a jar of ancho chilli flakes as well, they are different too, so I'll need to try and use them at some point as well. I did open both jars to compare the aromas, both were very nice.

Finally I realise I've forgotten to take a photo of this yummy dish, I'll have to try and remember to do this next time, it's definitely a repeat.