Eggplant cutlets, beans & spinach with a red wine roux

10 Oct

Man has often rued his lack of roux-making (ho! ho!). This should set the record straight. It should also address that other record, of French insistence on every meal having meat in it. Man Woman get stuck on a cheese and bread diet whenever we visit Paris. We suggest they consider something along these lines.

While there may appear to be 1,001 ingredients in the below dish, you probably do have most of it in the house and can chop and change a bit (this is our vesion of a roux recipe which called for herbs we do not possess – ie. marjoram, and we actually used spinach stalks instead of celery). Also all the other elements can be made while the sauce is being stirred. This’ll suit a dinner party as the elements can be made ahead of time, but it’s quick enough for a mid-week meal too – no more than 45 minutes from start to plate.

Red wine roux

  • 1.25C boiling water
  • 2 tsp vegetable boulion (or stock)
  • 25g butter (or vegan magarine)
  • 3-4 TBSP flour
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4C finely chopped celery or spinach stalks
  • 3/4C red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary – or 1tsp fresh leaves, crushed

Eggplant cutlets

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • 1C (or so) bread crumbs (Panko best)

Beans and greens

  • 1 tin (or cup) buttery beans – such as flagolet, canneli, butter beans, etc
  • 1.5C chopped fresh spinach
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Ground black pepper

Making the sauce

In a saucepan on medium heat mix boiling water and boullion (or stock) until dissolved.

In a small frypan melt the butter and stir in the flour, stirring for five minutes over a low heat until it starts to smell toasty. Add the onions and garlic to the butter-flour mix (I think there is a proper word for this) and continue stirring for three minutes.

Put the celery/spinach stalks in and stir for another couple of minutes. The add the boiling water mix to the fry pan and whisk until it creates a smooth even mixture. Add a bayleaf and other herbs and bring to the boil.

After a few minutes, slowly add the wine and continue to stir bringing to biul again. Then lower to a simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Adjust herbs, garlic and maybe a dash of red wine vinegar to taste. If it’s become too gravy-like, just add a bit more water.

Other elements: Eggplant cutlets

While the sauce is being brought to the boil, etcetera. Cut a small eggplant into 4-5 thick slices – about 1.5cm thick heat. Sprinkle with salt and chuck into a hot oven, about 15 minutes, until cooked through.

Create a crumbing station: one plate of mixed egg, one plate of bread crumbs. Dip each cooked eggplant slice into the egg, then into the crumbs and set aside. Do this twice for each slice.

To cook, pour a little vegetable oil into a fry pan. We used only a little – it was less than 1cm deep. Fry eggplant for about 2-3 minutes each side, then set aside on paper towels to drain.

Other elements: Spinach and beans

Simply chuck a can of beans into a saucepan and warm over low heat. Just as the sauce and eggplant is about ready, throw in the chopped spinach, drizzle over lemon juice and sprinkle in black pepper.

This isn’t as hard as this long list suggests!

Estimated cost: £4.50

Musical accompaniment: Robert Stillman, Machine Song

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Portuguese tomato-chili rice with almond asparagus

7 Oct

Man just asked Woman, by rights and passport a Portuguese national, what makes this rice Portuguese.

“My dad makes it,” said she (I).

While much of what my Portuguese dad makes is not Portuguese, I am quite confident this is a recurring dish in Portuguese cuisine. Portuguese cuisine, I  must emphasise. You might be tempted to say, ‘oh, like paella’. Portuguese people rightly say no. This is not like paella at all. And while in technique this dish bears some resemblance to risotto, shut up. It’s not risotto either. (I refer you to the campaign)

Woman’s dad often served this with pork, or probably if he remained on the old continent, bacalao (salted cod) or similar.

Portuguese rice

  • 1/2 C arborio (or just bloody pudding, that’s what the peasants do and who’s to argue?) rice
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 can whole peeled or diced tomatoes
  • 1 ripe, medium-sized tomato, diced
  • 1/2 good-sized Spanish  (ummm… Iberian) onion cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Half a capsicum (optional)
  • dash of dry white wine
  • 1 – 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 8 – 10 sprigs of parsley, chopped up
  • 1 TBSP piri-piri sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Almond asparagus

  • 4  asparagus
  • 2 TBSP sliced almonds
  • a very non-stingy amount of salt

Heat olive oil in a pan, adding onion then garlic. Before either soften, add rice and swirl around in pan to ensure it’s entirely coated with oil. Throw in a splash of dry white wine.

Add 1 C of the water, with stock (you could dilute it before, but we couldn’t be bothered on a cold Friday night) and allow to absorb over medium heat for about 5 – 10 minutes. Add can of tomatoes and chopped fresh tomato. Add extra 1/2 C water.

Cook for another while. I don’t know how long it was, to be frank, more than 10 minutes. I was busy taking down washing and filling hot water bottles. Essentially you want to rice to be soft, there to be no excess liquid, but the rice to have an al dente bite. Just before serving, add lemon juice, piri-piri sauce (if so desired) and stir through chopped parsley.

This would work fantastically with prawns or other firm white seafood. Other white land-dwelling meat should work fine, but ManWoman doesn’t know why it’s encouraging you to eat meat, when the asparagus was so fantastic.

So, asparagus.

While heating up or finishing off the Portuguese rice, heat more olive oil in yet another (that would be the second) pan. Chuck your asparagus in there, go on. Salt generously and then throw in the sliced almonds. Toss these around for a while, if some almonds go black, don’t fret. It won’t do much damage really, they end up being quite edible.

Before asparagus get anywhere near soggy – it is our belief that they can probably be eaten raw-er than their greener counterparts – serve atop a few scoops of the Portuguese rice.

You may – obviously, us not being the boss of you  or anything like that – grate some parmesan or hard white goats’ cheese atop this delight, but I dare say you won’t need to. It’s pretty freakin’ good.

Estimated cost: £3

Musical accompaniment: CocoRosie

Tomato and red onion tarte tatin

1 Aug

I promise we have made this prettier than these pictures, but I’ve not uploaded the pics to the computer and it’s been ages since posting, so just look at the above pictures, imagine a 30-40 per cent visual improvement and you’re there.

French cuisine is really not often very amenable to the absence of meat, over-fed livers and the like, but we’re determined to defy French conservatism. Like vegetarian Jacobins or something equally historically significant.

As you’ll see from the pictures, we’ve made this both with shallots and red onions. It really, really doesn’t matter. Roma/plum tomatoes, normal vine tomatoes – whatever. Choose what looks best in the fresh veg aisle.

Pastry

  • 60g white flour
  • 30g mature cheddar cheese or parmesan
  • 30g butter
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 15g self-raising flour

Filling

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 -1 TBSP sugar
  • 5 shallots or 2 red onions, sliced into thick rings
  • 2 sliced garlic cloves
  • 5 or so tomatoes halved (whatever fills your pan)
  • 1 – 2 tomatoes cut into thick slices (to sit on top of other fillings)

If you’re good you can make the pastry while the filing is cooking, but you will need some pretty impressive powers of multi-tasking to do so very effectively.

So, melt butter and sugar in a pan of around 20cm diameter. Then add balsamic vinegar, garlic and place the cut tomatoes and onions/shallots face down. Squeeze in as many as possible and keep the plate on low heat. Maybe even chuck a few extra wedges in here and there. Throw another tablespoon of balsamic (or more) over the stuff and sprinkle with salt.

While this is going, mix together pastry ingredients. Then wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge for about an hour. (You could do this before the cooking, actually)

Move the pan into an oven in low heat. I like to cover the tomato/onion mix with a lid or foil because it’s really best not to let it dry out. Cook for about 20mins – half an hour.

When the onions are softened and tomatoes cooked through and similarly soft, you can take the pan out of the oven and hopefully by this time the pastry has rested in the fridge.

Carefully place the pastry over the tomato mix, checking first that it’s still quite liquidy. It should be a sticky kind of liquid – not as thick as honey, but on its way. Try to tuck the pastry into the pan, but it might just end up ‘rustic’.

Put back in the oven at around 180C for about 20 minutes. Take out when pastry is hard.

Let cool for a couple of mintues then tip over, placing a plate inside or over the pan and quickly flipping.

Best served with a green or rocket salad.

Estimated cost: £6

Musical accompaniment: Anna Calvi

Parsley & sumac egg white omlette

18 Jul

This recipe was born out of the detrius of a crema catalana (to be published soon). When faced with half a dozen egg whites and not particularly keen on making anything sweet, one might easily fall into despair. But this little lunch or brekkie item is quite a good’un. I know the mention of an egg white omlette might initially seem like worthy diet food, but packed full of fresh herbs this is rather tasty and totally filling as a lunch.

Parsley and sumac egg white omlette

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 C finely chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP sumac
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 3 TBSP finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C milk

Whisk eggs until white, but not necessarily too foamy and definitely not stiff. Add parsley, herbs, spices, onion and milk.

Heat a small fry pan (about 20cm diameter) and coat in olive oil. Pour egg mix into the pan and cook for a few minutes, until the base appears to be cooked through.

Remove pan from stove top and put under grill, until cooked through. Let cool before removing from pan.

Estimated cost: Given that this was leftovers, I want to say zero. But in more true terms, £1.40

Musical accompaniment: Lyla Ices

Summer spaghetti: Broad beans, spinach and mint

12 Jul

Man Woman will not dwell on the presence or absence of the English summer. It does not, in fact, weigh on our minds at all. No, rather it will often be midday before Man or Woman might even remark, ‘Oh look, dear, it happens to be a miserable shit of a day once again. Ever so glad we migrated.’

For us, as non-natives, part of the goodness of eating seasonally is actually discovering what is in fact seasonal. Broad beans, we understand, are summery even if the skies under which they grow are bleak and seemingly devoid of any sunlight. Moving on, this recipe was the first time we used them and it is pretty good. All can be made while the pasta is boiling and happily exists without the cheese if you want to go dairy-free.

A note here, this recipe quantaties are totally subjective. This amount will get you a nice balance of pasta to veg, but tweak to your tastes.

Broad bean, spinach, mint & hazelnut spaghetti

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • 1/3 C fresh broad beans (or peas, edame – any fresh green pod-borne things etc)
  • 1 C spinach, chopped
  • 6 or so leaves of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 TBSP hazelnuts (pistachio, pine nuts or even walnuts could also work well)
  • 100g soft goats cheese or feta (optional)
  • Butter/olive oil for frying shallots

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and chuck the spaghetti in. (Really do use wholewheat – it so much tastier).

In a small pan, heat a little butter or olive oil and throw in the shallots and nuts. After a minute or two, add the broadbeans and keep stirring as the spaghetti cooks.

Once cooked, drain the spaghetti, return the spaghetti to the large pot and throw in chopped spinach. Let it wilt a little in the still-hot pot and then mix in the beans, shallots and nuts.

Throw in mint and then serve. Top with goats cheese if you like, and either way drizzle with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Estimated cost: £2.20 without cheese, £4 with cheese

Musical accompaniment: Something classical. We really should start paying more attention to this.

Haloumi mushroom burgers with chermoula

14 Jun

The truth is, you can totally make this without chermoula. I know. Who would have imagined? But chermoula is pretty damn good. When Man Woman used to partake in the consumption of animals from the sea, we enjoyed chermoula spread over grilled mackerel and tuna.  Memories.

Chermoula on haloumi though is really, probably better and, regardless, is far more fun to say. For anyone who hasn’t tried mushroom haloumi burgers before, don’t look at me. What the hell is wrong with you? Goodness. How do you live? We’ve fed this to numerous carnivores who always seem shocked to their respective meaty cores that this is meat-free. Which is no way to sell a meal to a vegetarian, but there you are.

Chermoula

  • 4 TBSP chopped coriander
  • 2 TBSP coriander parsley
  • 4 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil
  • 1.5 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced

Burgers

  • 2 bread rolls
  • 1 packet of haloumi (300g)
  • 1 tomato
  • lettuce
  • 1 beetroot (we are Austrayan after all)

To make the chermoula, finely chop the fresh herbs. Then mix all other ingredients, adjusting to taste, very quickly – almost like whipping.

For the burgers, grill mushrooms under a grill for a good 15 minutes until they’re all oozing juices etcetera. When these are about done, slice your haloumi into large squarish slices and throw onto a hot fry pan (no oil is needed, there’s enough fats in the cheese). While both haloumi and mushroom are just about done, slice and chop the fresh bread.

Build your totally amazing burger. Drizzle chermoula over everything.

Estimated cost: £5

Musical accompaniment: Miles Davis

Sesame rice balls (ongiri)

13 Jun

Ongiri for dinner

Ongiri for lunch

Leftover sushi bits are hard things to deal with, freshness being kinda the critical element of sushi and all Japanese wonders. After a sushi dinner party, Man Woman had an abundance of cooked rice and would-be nori roll fillings still hanging about and decided, when all other options fall flat, make balls.

This is inspired by the rice balls from the macrobiotic restaurant in Sydney Iku, which nourished Woman during many long and impoverishing journeys through Glebe markets. As a leftover recipe we used what we had leftover – a bit of carrot, some errant aspargus spears, etcetera. Use whatever you have to hand, but I’d try to keep the rice:non-rice ratio faily similar to this, because too much non-mushable veg (sweet potato and the like would be an exception) would stop this from binding.

I also have on good authority that kneading of this mix is crucial to ensure it holds.

Rice balls (ongiri). Makes 8 – 10 – serves 2 to 4 people

  • 1 C sushi rice uncooked
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1/3 C tofu (ideally a flavoured one – smoked or some such)
  • 1/4 C asparagus
  • 1/3 C carrot
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp mirin (sweet cooking wine – optional)
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 1.25 C water – for cooking the rice
  • Sesame seeds – for rolling

Chop vegetables up quite small (see below pic as a guide) and mix with cooked rice. Add ginger, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil and mirin – if using. If you, perchance, have any left over picked ginger knocking about in the fridge, chuck that in promptly.

With wet hands, mix the rice and veg, pressing down as though kneading dough.

Keep a bowl of water next to you and pour out about half a cup of sesame seeds onto a plate.

Make balls by scooping a palmful of rice mix into your wet hands (the repetition of wet hands is a purposeful emphasis – without repeatedly dipping your hands into water or the like, the sushi rice will stick to you, not itself and you will never, ever create rice balls). Firmly shape into a ball for about a minute, if not a bit longer. Roll in sesame seeds, coating entirely, and set aside.

I put my rice balls in the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking, but it’s not necessary.

Ongiri in process

Fry or bake?

You can shallow fry these in about 1cm of vegetable oil, turning as the seeds in the oil golden. This creates a nice chewy crust which contrasts nicely with the soft rice inside – it is, however, frying and thus bad for you and doesn’t have that  clean feeling of not frying.

For baking, pre-heat the oven to 190C. Brush the balls lightly in sesame or veggie oil. Bake for about half an hour or until the crust gets coloured – these won’t get as dark as the fried balls, but the crust does get that chewy texture. You don’t have the oil weighing you down after the meal as the fried ones do and the chance of burning yourself with an errant, angry sesame seed flying out of a hot pan of oil are markedly lessened. Bake, I reckon.

Either way serve with salad. I also made a quick lemon, black bean and ginger sauce to go with it (just mix these ingredients and adjust to taste).

Estimated cost: £2.50

Musical accompaniment: Lia Ices

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