Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Breaking Free

Plants are amazing...
This fig tree is growing through a gap in a boarded up building.

Reaching for the sun.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Paper Chef - Swptember

And this month, I do have to say, it was a tricky one.
If you haven't heard of The Paper Chef, check it out:
The Paper Chef.

We have to create a dish using all four of the nominated ingredients.
This month we had to use:
Rice-paper wrappers (or some other wrapper)

At first glance these ingredients did not complement each other at all!

And to complicate matters, I'd never use quinoa before.
After a bit of thinking I came u p with the idea of quinoa wrapped in rice paper with some dipping sauces. Boring & didn't quite have the "I want to eat it now" factor. I bounced the idea off the other half and, after he stopped laughing at my pronunciation of quinoa (pronounce it keen-wa NOT kwin-o-a), a more palatable dish appeared: spicy lamb & quinoa, wrapped in crispy fried rice paper, with 2 dipping sauces: chilli & tomato, and a minted yogurt.

Some research on the net on how to prepare quinoa was my next step, and surprisingly it is easy to prepare: thoroughly rinse the grain & then into a rice cooker in a ratio of 1 part grain to 2 parts water (no salt was added). Very easy!

The filling was based on a samosa recipe making it slightly spicy, but this was tempered by the quinoa. The mixture was then wrapped in rice-paper, fried & and served hot. In hindsight I would now have used wonton wrappers as they would crisp up better than the rice paper, but I was sticking to the ingredients.

2cm piece grated ginger
1 large onion chopped
2 Tbls chopped mint
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
250g lamb mince
1 tomato peeled & chopped
Juice of half a lemon
2/3 cup quinoa
Rice-paper rolls
Oil for frying

Dipping sauces
100ml yoghurt
1 Tbls chopped mint
100 ml tomato coolie
1 tsp sambal (chilli paste)

Gently fry the ginger, onion, & mint until the onion is soft and golden.
add the curry powdder & salt and stir through. add the lamb and lightly brown.
add the tomato and cook over a low heat until the moisure has evaporated.
Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. allow to cool.
add the cooked quinoa, the amount of quinoa that you ad depends on taste, you may want more or less, and combined thoroughly.

To assemble the rolls
Soak each rice paper roll in hot water until just soft. Do not let the rice paper soak too long as it will become too soft & will disintegrate.
Lay it out on a clean tea towel
Place a heaped table spoon of mixture on the lower third of the rice paper roll
Fold in the bottom, then both sides and tightly, but gently, roll the rice paper into a roll
Repeat with the next roll.

To prepare the dipping sauces:
Combine yoghurt & mint (too easy).
Combine tomato coolie & chilli (too easy again).A tomato coolie is a reduction of tomato, onion, celery, carrot & herbs that has been passed through a moulie.
Cook the rolls in some hot oil to crisp up the skin & drain on paper towels.
Serve with the dipping sauces.