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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sloppy Funny Nachos

Nacho's are a firm favourite in my household. Not only are they loved by The Lovely Wife, but the kids really enjoy their nachos too. I've made nachos but this time I thought I'd do something a little different. The excuse to do it different really came about because there was a few items in the fridge that needed to be used up!

There was a slab of minced beef and a bag of mushrooms. We all know that mushrooms dont last that long and so I figured I'd better use them up especially since mushies are so expensive! There was also some leftover tomato paste that The Lovely Wife had used for something or other and a large bag of corn chips in the pantry. With all those ingredients at hand, I asked my kids if they would like some 'funny' Nachos for dinner.

My little princess looked at me with wide eyes and asked what 'funny' nachos were. I explained that they were nachos, but just not the nachos that she would usually get in shops and neither the ones that Daddy usually made.

"Will they taste nice?" She asked me.

I put my hands on my hips and stared her down. She laughed, then rolling her eyes she smiled cheekily and said. "Daddy is making it so it must be nice."

My son piped up in his all knowing manner. "Correct! That's the correct answer!"

I smiled back at them and went to give them a hug. "We'll see," I said. "Let me make them first, then we'll see what they taste like."

2 cloves garlic - chopped
1 tsp oregano
3 bay leaves
200g Minced Beef
200g button mushrooms - sliced thinly
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
3 slices Cheddar Cheese
1 large packet corn chips
Sautee the garlic and oregano together with bay leaves. Add in the mince and cook well. Season with salt. Add in the mushrooms and cook till tender. Add in the tomato paste and mix well. If too thick, add in a little water. Simmer until nicely cooked. Place mixture in a small loaf pan, packing down well. Top with Cheese slices and bake at 190C for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is nicely melted.
Serve over a bed of corn chips.

How did it taste? Well, kind of like a cheesy beef chilli but without the beans. Kind of like a sloppy joe as well. Regardless what it tasted like, it was good. Darn good.

The kids couldn't stop eating it and to be honest, neither could I. After devouring the whole pack of chips together with the whole loaf of meat, both kids sat back in a mix of contentment and sheer over stuffing. As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words...

Really tasty, really easy, lots of fun and a great way to please the kids!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Fish Cutlets

This post rounds up my series on our New Years gathering where The Lovely Wife and I served a variety of finger food or Tapas.
Fish Cutlets are very popluar in Indian cooking. My mom used to make a mean fish cutlet as does my Mother in law. The Lovely Wife too has her own version of Fish Cutlets and she decided to make a batch to go with the rest of the food.
I've always liked fish cutlets. There's something nice about boneless fish mashed together with potatoes and spices and then fried. Its the kind of food that you can just keep popping in your mouth!
This is what The Lovely Wife Does.

4 potatoes
2 cans tuna (small cans)
1 large onion - chopped finely
1 red chilli - chopped finely
1 bunch coriander - chopped finely
1 egg
2 Tbps Fish Curry Powder
1 Tbsp meat curry powder
Boil the potatoes and mash them together with the tuna. Combine with the onion, chilli and coriander. Add in the curry powders and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and then add in the beaten egg. Mix well to combine nicely.
Form into small patties and then roll in breadcrumbs. Fry till cooked.

Everyone really enjoyed the cutlets and its no surprise as these cutlets are really delicious. You cant just stop at one! They make a great dish for any meal and at any time of the day too.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Garlic Mushrooms in Cream Sauce - New Year's Tapas

Continuing on with the recipes served for our New Year's Tapas gathering, I now give you my very own Garlic Mushrooms in Cream Sauce.

Once again, the inspiration for this came from something I had enjoyed at La Bodega's in Kuala Lumpur at a friends 40th Birthday Party as recently as November last year. The Lovely Wife wasn't able to go bu I remember coming back and telling her how much I had enjoyed the dish. It was like a tasty mushroom soup but more flavourful and thicker, so much so that you could scoop it up with slices of bread. So, as usual, I made a note to try and replicate it and thought that this would be a good time to try it out.

This is rather an easy dish to prepare while the results are quite outstanding. This is what I did:

6 cloves garlic
2 tsps Oregano
1 tsp Rosemary
400g Button Mushrooms
Black Pepper
200ml Cream
2Tbsp Lemon Juice
Corn Flour
Quarter the mushrooms and set aside. In a large base pan, sautee the oregano, rosemary and black pepper in olive oil. Add in the mushrooms and cook well while stirring frequently. Cook till the mushrooms are tender but still firm. Add in the cream and season with salt then stir in the lemon juice. Allow to simmer and thicken with a little corn flour mixed with water if necessary.

In retrospect, I think that perhaps some chopped chives would have added some colour and more flavour to the dish but quite frankly, it tasted just great as it was. Testament to how good this dish was is how quickly it was finished. The Lovely Wife kept making eyes at me as everyone dug into the Tapas and I thought that she was so enamoured with my dish that she was giving me sultry, seductive looks.

Turned out though that she was just trying to get my attention to fill up the bowl with more of the Mushrooms - and that was polished off just as quickly!

I must make a note that Tapas is really best served with some chilled wine. Perhaps the next time...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Spanish Meatballs - New Year's Tapas

In my previous post, I spoke about how we started off the New Year with a Tapas meal for a few good friends. I promised that recipes would be provided soon and to start it off, this is the recipe for my Spanish Meatballs

The inspiration for this comes from a local Tapas restaurant that serves great meatballs in a tomato based sauce. I like my meatballs meaty and without that floury or artificial bite. For me, the bite from meatballs has to come from pure meat!

I used my tried and tested meatball recipe except that I added in a little chilli. For the sauce, I made a Tomato based sauce flavoured with a lot of Thai Basil. This is what I did.

For the Meatballs
500g Minced Beef
1 green chilli - chopped
1 onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - chopped
2 Tbsp Tomato Sauce

For the Sauce
2 cloves garlic - chopped
1 Onion - chopped
4 bay leaves
1 Can Stewed Tomatoes
50g Fresh Thai Basil

First, make the meatballs:
Mix all the ingredients together and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Roll the mixture into small tight balls and place on a baking pan.
Bake for about 20 mins or until the meatballs are able to hold their shape.
While the meatballs are baking, start with the sauce.

Sautee the garlic and onion together with the bay leave till fragrant. Add in the can of stewed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Remove the Basil leaves from stalks and chop the large leaves roughly. Add the leaves into the sauce and allow to simmer.

Once meatballs are cooked, add the meatballs togehter with the drippings into the sauce. Allow to simmer and for the sauce to infuse into the meatballs for about 20 minutes.

Serve with bread.

The meatballs were lovely and firm and the sauce tasted just great eaten with bread. The Lovely Wife was quite surprised by how well it turned out as she had her doubts while I was making it. I keep wondering, after all these years together and all these blog posts, why she keeps doubting me. But I guess that is a wife's perogative! The kids enjoyed it too and I have to say that it really made quite a delicious Tapas. It kept well and was a great snack the next day too!

Monday, 3 January 2011

2011 - kickstarting the Foodie New Year

Since we didn't have our usual Christmas celebration, The Lovely Wife and I decided that we would have a few close friends over on the 2nd January 2011 to welcome in the New Year.

One of my best mates, Vanesh, who has been working in Botswana for more than a decade, always comes home over Christmas and always spends it with us on Christmas day at my parents. I've known Vanesh for almost all my life and he is indeed like a brother to me. Lynn is another common fixture at all our gatherings and Tina is another friend who is really close to us. The kids know these friends of ours really well and we hope that they will continue to grow up with these friends of ours a part of their lives. So yes, it was more a family gathering as these three friends are very much like family to us. Family though they may be, it is still difficult to find a common time when everyone is available. Fortunately, tea time on Sunday seemed to work for everyone!

Tea at our house is never just about a cake and a cup of tea or coffee. Initial discussions with The Lovely Wife revolved around fried noodles and then meandered to sausage rolls and even fruit tarts. Eventually, we settled for a bunch of diferent finger food and decided to go the route of Tapas.

One thing that was the common denominator though was my Chocolate Cake. After all, I hadn't made the cake for Christmas so it seemed like a good time to make the cake and keep the tradition alive.

I've always know that Tapas is a variety of appetisers in Spanish cuisine. I've also always known that many Tapas can be ordered to comprise a full meal. What I didnt know was the origins of Tapas.

According to the Tapas entry on Wikipedia The word "tapas" comes from the Spanish verb tapar that means "to cover". According to legend, the tapas tradition began when King Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns could only serve wine to customers if it was accompanied by a small snack or "tapa."

Other explanations say that the word "tapa" in Spanish means lid or cover and that often, a piece of bread would be placed over a glass of wine or juice to protect it from flies - thus providing a cover for the glass. At some point, this piece of bread was 'covered' with a snack.

It is also commonly said that since one would be standing while eating a tapa in traditional Spanish bars, they would need to place their plates on top of their drinks in order to eat, making it a top.

There are many other variants and explanations of how Tapas came to be but I'll stick to what we prepared.

We decided we would buy loads of bread to serve with the Tapas and so we got 3 different kinds from the nearby bakery - Sundried Tomato Loaf, Farmers White Loaf and a Baguette.

The Lovely Wife made some Tuna Cutlets.

I made some Garlic Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

and also my version of Spanish Meatballs.

And of course, my Chocolate Cake.

It was a really fun evening and I think everyone enjoyed the food. More important than the good food though was the good company. It's not easy finding good friends and good friends that become part of your family are even harder to find. We are indeed lucky that we have a lot more 'friends who are family' that are around both here in Malaysia and in other parts of the world, but just like any family, its difficult to get everyone together at the same time. Our hope for the New Year is that we will have many more of our friends over - especially the other 'Friends who are family' that are in Malaysia - and of course all the others when they come home!

Happy New Year 2011 everyone!

Recipes will be provided in due course.


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