Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Ramekin-ed dishes February 25, 2009

Filed under: Beef,Dessert,Soup — smop @ 6:26 am

Among some of the most valued virtues in life I see adaptability and versatility almost as most important. No matter where you are or what you do in life, you will inevitably be called to be different things to different people – a father, a brother, a son, a friend (ok, this is starting to sound like a eulogy). In my opinion, if ramekins were a person, then it would be the one to do it all!! (that or I just bought a few ramekins and went a little over board with them.)

It was a Saturday lunch and it was a three course meal – in ramekins! The below recipes are for 6 servings each, so unless you have 18 ramekins… as much fun as they are to make. Also, they are incredibly easy as well. Soup, pie and crumble: a wholesome three-hit combo (it even rhymes).

French onion soup with pastry top, served with cheese bread

Soup
Ingredients

  • 60g butter
  • 6 brown unions (approx. 1 kg), sliced into thin rings
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 9 cups beef stock (I used store bought stock, so I substituted some portions with water to taste)

Method

Heat butter in a large pot, add onion and cook slowly over low heat for about 30 minutes or until very tender and a deep golden brown, stirring often. Don’t rush this stage. Add the sugar and flour and cook and stirr for about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the stock gradually until the soup boils and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour. Ladle into ramekins.

Pastry top
Ingredients

  • rolled / puff pastry, thawed
  • Yolk of 1 egg

Method

Cut the pasty into squares or circles that covers the ramikins with a 2 cm overhang and put over ramikins. Prick a few holes in it with a fork, and brush with yolk. Place into the oven on 200C for approx 10 minutes or whenever pastry turns a golden brown.

Bread

Slice up a stick of French bread, toast the bread then top with grated Gruyere cheese (or whatever you have in your fridge that would toast well) and grill to melt. Serve immediately.

Shepherd’s pie

Mince
Ingredients

  • 850g lean lamb mince (if it were minced beef, it would make it a “Cottage Pie”)
  • 25g butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 tbp plain flour
  • 3 tsp whole grain mustard (or better still, 1/2 tsp mustard powder)
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Brown the onions in butter, then cook lamb. Add mustard and Worcestershire sauce and mix through. Add flour. Spoon into ramekins.

Potato topping
Ingredients

  • 4-5 large potatoes, cooked (boiled) and mashed
  • 1/2 cup hot milk
  • 30g butter

Method

Mix all ingredient and season with salt and pepper to taste. spread evenly over the meat and rough up the surface with a fork. bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the topping is golden on 200C.

Rhubarb & ginger crumble
Ingredients

  • 1kg (or approx 10 rhubarb stalks, it might seem a lot but it does boil down)
  • 1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup soft brown / demerara sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 100g softened unsalted butter

Method

Preheat oven to 200C (which would already be at 200C, since you’ve been making the soup and pie). Cut rhubarb into short lengths (3-5 cm) and into pan with sugar, fresh and ground ginger. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, the simmer for 10minutes or until rhubarb is soft but still chunky. Don’t walk away as it will burn easily. Spoon into ramekins. Put the flour and brown sugar in a bowl, add butter and rub in with just your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the crumble over the stewed rhubarb and bake for 15-20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

(if you’re tempted to make the all time fav. apple crumble then you can’t just substitute rhubarb with apple. Use 8 green cooking apples, peeled and cored, and cut into large pieces / wedges. Boil with 3 tbs water then reduce to low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in 2 tbs caster sugar. Crumble topping as above.)

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Meatballs January 6, 2008

Filed under: Beef,Savoury — smop @ 2:37 pm
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There are a couple of things where it is just much easier to make a big batch of in one go … curries, filos, and meatballs if I had to list things off the top of my head.  But I will be faced with the knowledge that at for the next few meals, I will be eating the same thing.  From living in a household where the only things in the freezer would be ice-cream, frozen veg, and frozen dumplings (my parents are pretty averse to the idea of frozen meals, and frozen blocks of meat and fish), I’ve picked it up and my freezer is only used to store ice-cream, frozen veg and frozen dumplings.

So, anyway! I decided that I wanted to eat meatballs last week, so I made them on the Monday and on Friday, I finally finished the last ones off.  I was so glad to see all of them gone by then.

The recipe I use is based on a Bill Granger recipe.  With everything bar baking, I use recipes as inspiration rather than following them exactly – I go by look, smell and taste (when its cooked) and this is roughly how I made it this time – as it changes depending on what I have in the fridge.

When mixing meatballs, there’s no substitute with getting your bare hands and really getting in there to mix everything up.  While the ‘experts’ would say it is because the bare hand gives it that edge when it comes to taste, (perhaps in extra salt or dead skin), I do so only because I find it therapeutic to feel the mince, with the carrot, the warm onion, and whatever else I have in there being squeezed from my palms and through the spaces between my fingers.  And I love the squelch it makes.  It is something I find particularly endearing – it sort of reminds me of going to the beach as a kid and feeling my toes squelch in the wet sand.  Now you can’t tell me you didn’t like that as a kid.

The same goes with moulding meatballs.  I will have none of this using a meatball scoop.  If one has been bestowed 2 palms, use them to roll a meatball.  It’ll be uneven, and there might be a flat edge, but they are meant to look rustic, because the fact is, meatballs are rustic.

I also bake them – it saves oil.

Meatballs
(adapted from Bill Granger’s recipe)

Ingredients

  • 500-600 g good quality beef mince (or a mixture of beef and pork / beef and lamb / lamb and pork / chicken and other meat … )
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & pepper
  • Plain flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200oC.  Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Add milk to breadcrumbs and allow it to sit until all the milk has been soaked up.
  3. Heat a pan up with some olive oil.  Sweat off the onion (until it is translucent – usually around 3-5 minutes), then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Turn off the heat and set it aside to cool.
  4. In a mixing bowl, pop the mince in and add grated carrot and parsley.  You can also add zucchini but make sure after grating, drain well, sprinkle some salt on top and let it drain a bit further.  Add in the breadcrumb and milk mixture
  5. Season with lots and lots of salt and a lesser portion of pepper.  It needs to be well salted as there is nothing else that has flavour in there (If you want a gauge, I think I turned my salt grinder about 20+ times.)
  6. Add in the onion and garlic.
  7. Mix everything by hand. Hear it squelch.  At this stage, check whether the mixture is dry (i.e. can you mould it into a ball and it keeps its shape? If so, then forget about adding the egg, but if not, add just the egg white to help it bind).  Moosh, moosh, moosh … Make sure everything is well incorporated
  8. Mould into balls – like a golfball size (though they can be made into patties for burgers too).
  9. Pop on baking tray and sieve a bit of plain flour over the top.
  10. Place in oven for 15 minutes or until goldern / cooked through.

You can now use this for anything.  Because this recipe gives me about 40-50 meatballs, some nights, like tonight, I cook it in pasta sauce.  Other nights, I cut them in half and stir fry it with some greens.  And some nights, I just heat them up and eat them as is with a bit of ketchup.