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Sep 27, 2010

Shirazi Chocolate Cake Tiramisu


I bake a lot and I love baking cakes. The problem is they never turn out as soft or fluffy as the box ones, and that wasn’t a problem back when we didn’t know how instant mix type cakes turned out. Back then, the cakes I made seemed moist and light. So even though I still bake quite a bit, I avoid basic cakes and pound cakes, I make cupcakes, muffins, cookies but steer clear of every day cakes. Despite sounding this firm, I do succumb to the callings of my beautifully shaped baking dishes, especially the clover shaped one, I love that one! So I made a chocolate cake the other day and I think I have overdone the butter (??!) but it turned out a little heavier than I wanted. Since chocolate cakes have a way of being yummy especially when they are warm, most of it didn’t last the evening. The next day I was stuck with 5 pretty large slices of heavy and slightly dry chocolate cake.

It seemed perfect for the base of a nice dessert, a trifle or a Tiramisu. Trifle is pretty much out the question in my house, if you tell Andy that it is a composition of cake, jelly, fruit and custard, he will run miles away to find the closest Baskin Robbins. So I guess the only plausible use of the orphaned slices was Tiramisu. Ally loves the stuff, way more than even I do; considering the yummiest Tiramisu I had in the last 2 years was at Costa’s coffee. She may be coming into a cough, so this is likely to be the vehicle for some good old, cinnamon and rum therapy.

Lately I have been using a local cheese brand called Imperio and I am really happy with their stuff. There is marked difference between the cream cheese and mascarpone, I know there should be a difference but a lot of commercial cheese makers don’t! They have lovely baby bocconcini and excellent fresh mozzarella. In fact it is thanks to this brand that I can make Tiramisu this often. Rs. 400+ for 250 gms of mascarpone is ridiculous, these guys are at a cool Rs.135 for 200 gms, perfecr for a serves 4 bowl of Tiramisu.

200 gms Imperio Mascarpone cheese

150 gms Fresh cream, whipped (if you use the tetrapack, then a little less than one is sufficient. Don’t shake up the pack, let the liquid and thick cream come out separately, I know that doesn’t sound very palatable but then you can remove some of the moisture and get more of the thick cream)

2 egg yolks

2 tbsp of white sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence (I use the pods, though it messes with the colour more than the essence would, also I need to use the scrapings of an entire pod for one bowl of Tiramisu, cumbersome!)

½ cup of strong espresso or 4 tsp Nescafe/Bru mixed in warm water

2 tbsp black rum

Coffee of Cocoa powder for dusting (I use coffee powder if the kid isn’t eating it, if she is then I hold both the espresso and the coffee powder, I use coffee essence in warm water and I use cocoa or drinking chocolate powder (eww! @ drinking chocolate – hate the stuff they make here!)).

Heat water in a large pot, about ¼th full. Hold a saucepan over it with the egg yolks, the sugar and the vanilla. Use a whisk to whip the mixture till it is light and fluffy. Keep the heat low and don’t touch the bottom of the saucepan to the boiling water. This should take 2-3 minutes. Take it off the double boiler and let it cool. Once cooled, fold in the mascarpone cheese and then the whipped cream too. Cover and refrigerate the mix. Cut the cake slices into ½-1 inch fingers, of approximately the same thickness if possible. Arrange in a flat, preferably square dish, about 6x6 or 8x8 inches is more than enough, should be about 4” high too. Mix the coffee and the rum and pour evenly over the cake, I don’t do the dip and arrange method because cakes are way more absorbent than biscuits and I don’t want to use too much coffee. Pour the mascarpone mix over this and refrigerate open for 4-6 hours. Once the Tiramisu is set, move the bowl around to see if it’s wobbly or firm, use a strainer to dust either coffee or cocoa powder on the top. Place two cinnamon sticks on the side to eat with and you’re done. I love serving Tiramisu with cinnamon sticks as spoons well at least for the creamy bit though my innovative friends manage to eat the cake part with a round stick too. The flavours are so beautifully infused you wouldn’t want to use a spoon ever again!

Serve from the sides and dig in to get the moist, coffee flavoured cake base too.

Sep 26, 2010

Shirazi Chilli Onion Chicken


Though most of my recipes serve 4, I do have a lot of recipes for 2 people. Mainly because Ally is still developing a palate and I need to have safe, regular home food ready at all times, no matter what I am experimenting with. So I buy half a kilo of boneless chicken breasts, I stir fry, pie or batter fry half of it and I’m stuck with the rest. As stated before, there is no way I can serve anything remotely similar the next day (no, no one will reprimand me or anything, I don’t like repeating meals either, so like my dad says “I have spoilt the family”). I hate to freeze meats or worse still, refreeze them, so the next best option is marinate and cook the next day.

This month we have already had chicken tikka’s, chicken cutlets (the beaten breast variety, lol! Sorry couldn’t help that!), enchiladas and one other thing I can’t remember. This is the last of the boneless chicken series for the next month or so. The weather is opening up and I am truly inspired to indulge in some fish and seafood this October. Sad thing is that Delhi will be pretty much sealed and fortified for the first 10 days of the month, here’s to hoping Gurgaon has nice, fresh stock. The recipe below is something I made up impromptu. I had chicken (I can’t type that word one more time and I still have the ingredients to do!), sachets of chilli flakes, very little honey left in the jar and leftover wine ...with no real ideas of what to do, I just decided to bake the whole damn thing and see how it goes. It went well!!

Ingredients:

2 plump chicken breasts, slit through the middle, so it opens like a book. You can ask the butcher to do it, if you are buying frozen chicken breasts, then you have to do it yourself, instead substitute with 4 chicken legs or 6 mixed pieces of chicken. If you do use the breasts, poke them a bit with a fork, so the marinade works on them better.)

Marinade:

1 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce (love this brand, just the right potency)

2 tbsp honey

3 tsp garlic paste

1 tbsp coarsely ground red chillies (use 2-4 sachets of the ones you get as pizza seasoning)

1 tsp oregano (optional, Andy says the oregano is very overpowering in this dish)

1 tsp olive oil

Salt (I love sea salt for this recipe but I ran out a while back and I can’t find it around here lately)

For Baking:

2 large onions – thinly sliced

¼ cup red wine (try and use a fruit, fortified one. If you like fruity food, like
Jamaican, then use port wine, it’s awesome!)

1 tbsp olive oil

4-6 large frozen potato wedges (this is optional, it does nothing for the taste. The wedges basically slow cook because they are frozen and they keep the chicken from drying out, also this way I can serve the chicken breasts with bread and make it a meal)

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl, except for the oregano. Add the slit chicken breasts to it. Make sure you get them coated, inside out. Leave in the refrigerator overnight (if you can, few hours will do too. I tend to marinate meats to avoid freezing them, helps with the taste and the quick cooking and I can do this on a Sunday and use on a Monday evening). Take a baking dish, just about right to fit two chicken breasts and the cupful of sliced onions. Make two slits on top of both the pieces and lay them in the dish, top with the excess marinade, onions and finally the wedges. Pour olive oil over this assembly and bake on 200 for about 10-12 minutes. I usually cover the top with foil for the first 5-7 minutes and once I know the chicken is sizzling, I remove the foil and let the chicken brown. The onions caramelize and darken quite a bit; you can avoid that by removing the foil for the last 5 minutes.

I don’t like turning the pieces over, it’s destroys the look. I just check in on the meat halfway to see how it’s going. If the dish seems too dry, add a tsp of soy. A nice addition at the assembly stage is mushrooms. Cut around 5-7 mushrooms in halves and dump them under the onions, it makes the dish more substantial.

Serve hot out of the over with bread rolls, pita bread or buttery rice.

Sep 25, 2010

Shirazi Pepper Pork


I got married into a part Goan family when I was just 20 years old. I was still in culinary school but I wasn’t really learning anything of consequence. I remember barely three dishes from college – Poulet Sauté Chausseur, scotch eggs and Puliyogare (nope that’s not Greek, its Kannada food!). So I wasn’t really bringing home a lot of the knowledge my (foodie) husband was expecting! Despite having a cook, we missed home food, mine was Punju and his was Goan/Anglo... big dilemma! I didn’t visit my in laws (in Kuwait) for the first few years so there was no scope of learning there but I did visit Goa for 6 straight years, so more than my mind, I groomed my palate towards all things pork and all things from the sea. In fact, pork still comes in my top 3 meats, after prawns and beef that is! I was fairly good with Punju food, I grew up in the kitchen with my mother, that was the only place to find her most of the day and both the kitchens I spent my childhood in had very comfortable counters to sit or lean on. I learnt almost everything just watching and that’s one main reason I can’t standardize a recipe!

Back to pork, I loved the way the taste of the meat altered with the cooking method and the arrangement of ingredients. My favourite way to cook pork has always been coal bbq grilling but curries come in a close second. There was this one pepper curry my sister-in-law’s college boyfriend’s cook (yup, that’s how things rolled back then!) made, I never got around to asking him the recipe but I managed to cook it from memory pretty well. Even today I don’t really have the recipe written anywhere but I can almost replicate the taste every time.

The Shirazine Pepper Pork

Ingredients:
 
½ kilo boneless pork (I do use pork on the bone, but that’s only when I have gotten it cut very precisely and in front of me, I always feel the bone lends a lot to the curry and to the meat but in the case of pork, it is such a delicious meat to begin with, why force it, eh?!)

2 tbsp vinegar (I use Goan palm vinegar when I can, I like to avoid synthetic vinegar so a nice red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar is a good substitute)

1 large onion thinly sliced

4-6 garlic pods crushed, u can use 2-3 tsp of fresh paste, I can’t say about the bottled variety, but I suggest much less because that has a strange tangy potency.

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric

8-10 peppercorns

2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper (I have two pepper mills, one is coarse and the other fine. I didn’t intentionally buy them that way, it’s just probably blade flaws, but it makes it easier for me to season fried eggs versus a curry like this. You can coarse grind pepper in an electric grinder too, a mortar and pestle is also ideal)

Salt

2 cups water

1 cup thick coconut milk (if you are lucky enough to get fresh coconut scrapings, then this would be your first draw of milk, if it’s a powder sachet, then use 1 in half a cup of warm water, that’s about 50 gms usually)

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp cooking oil

I like to use fatty pork cuts for this, in fact most of my pork curries are a 70:30 ratio of pork meat and pork fat. I actually use less oil to incorporate the excess fat but that’s because I hate curries that cause an aftermath of nausea and heaviness. Curries need to be flavoursome and hearty, not dour and heavy. Start with pouring the vinegar in a small bowl, add the cumin, coriander, sugar and turmeric powders. You can add part of the garlic paste here to this mix. Apply this to the pork cubes (I make the pieces about a little bigger than an inch in 1x1 inch), use your hands here to really work the marinade masala in. Cover and refrigerate for about 2-3 hrs, shake it up once in the middle if you remember to and don’t forget what I said about marinating for a shorter period. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, fry the onions, leftover garlic paste and peppercorns, fry till the onions are light brown. Add the marinated pork pieces, hold the drippings left behind. Fry on high for about 2 mins, mixing well, till the meat is coated with the onions and oil. Lower the flame, cover with a heavy lid (not the pressure cooker one with the whistle thing) and leave for 10-12 minutes. Check on it though, if it’s not a heavy bottomed pressure cooker, the meat and masala may stick.

In the leftover marinade, add 1 ½ cups of water and the salt. After about 15 minutes of roasting the pork, you can add this marinade mix, along with the cup of thick coconut milk. Bring to a boil, add the pepper powder and cover the pressure cooker lid with the whistle. After the first whistle, lower the flame and wait for two more whistles. Put the gas off, wait for the pressure to wane off, open the lid, check the salt and serve hot with steamed rice.

Andy loved south Indian appalam papad’s with this meal and if I keep a plate of thinly sliced cucumbers light seasoned with lemon juice and salt, he will eat three helpings for sure!

Shirazi Mediterranean Hotdog Sandwich


Yup, it’s raining chickens in my house. Mainly because I haven’t been lucky enough to find good seafood product the last one week and also because we are slightly sick of mutton and mince etc! I personally love cold cuts sandwiches, especially in pita but no one in the house seemed excited when I suggested that this morning! We had awesome pizza (from Pizza Hut... yes it was actually really good!) last night, so I didn’t have the heart to suggest regular fast food like burgers or hotdogs, even though it was Saturday night! Saturday nights are usually reserved from eating out, most of the time it’s just Andy and me, Ally doesn’t much care for eating out unless its fast food, Indian, or Italian, so we get to experiment quite a lot. This Saturday night was special because Andy has a shoot on Sunday (hate that!!!) and we didn’t want to make it a late night. So I had to do something novel, quick and as good as eating out, oh ya... plus I was hung up on fast food. All I had in the fridge (I rarely freeze meats) were 4 plump, chicken breasts! Hmmm!

I love Japanese Tempura and I love Mediterranean sandwiches, so I did what I had to do, I combined the two. The marriage was a successful one, the kid finished her sandwich, and father had two as an appetizer and two for dinner. Pinky didi needed chilli sauce to make hers palatable, so all in all it was a good show, I think?!

Hot dog buns 4

Chicken breasts 2 (large = 150 gms+, cut into 2” long strips, slim)

3 tsp Italian seasoning (usually a mix of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary but the premixed bottle one will do)
2 tsp Black pepper
1 egg
2 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp white flour
½ tsp baking soda
4-5 garlic pods, crushed
2 tbsp ice water
Salt

Sandwich Salad:
2 lettuce leaves, torn up (love the rustic look and feel of a country sandwich, jeez where am I going with this?!)
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander or parsley

Sandwich spread: Good ‘ol mayo!

Condiments: French mustard or ketchup or both.

Add on: Hash browns

Marinate the chicken strips in a mix of all the ingredients. Beat the egg; add cold water, corn flour, flour, seasonings and garlic. Dump the chicken strips into this batter. Leave in the fridge for 1 hour or so. Heat oil in a wok, enough for deep frying, don’t let it smoke. When it’s hot enough (drop a drop of the batter to see the sizzle level), use tongs (I love tongs, they work as well as chopsticks and since I won’t be eating with them, I can get a lot of single piece frying done with these and not drain excess oil with a frying ladle)... going back, use tongs to drop in one strip at a time. Make them as straight as possible; then the sandwich needs just about 3-4 strips to be complete. Fry in couple of batches, so the strips get evenly done. If you have the thickness right and the marinade going for over an hour, you need just about 3 minutes in the oil, max 4. This will cook the meat thoroughly yet keep it moist and juicy. Fry on low flame, this is a light batter, it burns fast.

Split open one of the hotdog buns, try not to cut it through and through, you need to stuff this bugger not assemble it. Apply as much mayo as you like, put in a tbsp or two of the salad mix, layer the top of that with 3-4 strips. Gently squeeze the sandwich shut. You can also use garlic mayo for a more Mediterranean flavour, or make your own garlic mayo, just add 2 tsp of fresh garlic paste to 4 tbsp of mayo. We usually skip the mustard of its garlic mayo in the sandwich, that’s just too many flavours for one sandwich but if you like it pungent, my dad feels Dijon goes very well with the whole garlic, batter, chicken, tomato salad thing! I serve these hotdogs with hash browns, which I make from grated potatoes, I bind it with water soaked (and squeezed) bread; it makes them crispier. I actually have never bothered to find out what the real binding is. Will read up on that and get back to y'all, in the meantime I hope you guys enjoy these sandwiches as much as we did. PS: you can do these with pita bread too.

Sep 22, 2010

Enchilada Shirazi


I love the affinity Indian food has with Mexican food but I mean this only in terms of spiciness. Other than that Mexicans have a one up on us, their foods have lovely colours! Al dente peppers are a delight and since we overcook all our veggies, it is a welcome change. Also their spices are more pungent and less fragrant, making the dish full-on, hot! I try my best to not Indian-ize foods and that’s easiest to do with cuisines like Mexican, which is a Euro/South American mash up anyway. I also like Tex-Mex and Cajun for the same reasons. I love how they treat meat. They leave so much of the real flavour of the main meat ingredient in the dish without overpowering it with spices like bay leaf, star anise and worst of all onions, ginger and garlic roasted. These are all wonderful in Indian cooking but when it comes to international foods, it’s best to stick as close to the recipe as possible, after you have tried it, then you can improvise.

For the roll:
2 Tortillas

For the Filling:
500 gms boneless chicken, cut into 2” long strips, make them slim, not too chunky.

1 large white onion, thinly sliced, use red if you like, I like the mild potency of white onions and the fact that they don’t ‘colour’ my dish

4-5 pods of garlic, smashed!

200 gms of mushrooms, sliced

1/2 each of red, yellow and green peppers, sliced

½ pack of instant chicken soup (I like Maggi chicken)

2 tsp black pepper or 3 tsp white pepper powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper (use Deggi mirch instead)

1 ½ cups of warm water

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley or coriander will do.

For the Topping:
½ cup grated mozzarella

½ cup grated cheddar

Heat the olive oil and fry the sliced onions and garlic. Throw in the chicken and fry up well, season a bit with salt and pepper and keep the stir fry going. Add the mushrooms about 4-5 minutes in, once the dish gets more moist from the cooking mushrooms, you can add the ½ pack of chicken soup mixed well into the warm water. If it thickens too fast add a little more water. Throw in the peppers, season with cayenne and black pepper powders and check the salt. Since the soup is salted, its better you do this. Season accordingly and cover to cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Now, you can soften the tortilla’s on a tava or pan with a little olive oil or butter, I actually just sprinkle some water on a hot skillet and quickly do both sides. This will make them softer and more pliable, don’t let them get crispy. In the centre of each tortilla place forkfuls of the chicken and mushroom, try and avoid the gravy and peppers. Use up as much as you like, though don’t make the tortilla too heavy, rolling and transferring to a oven proof dish will be tough. Roll the tortilla and tuck in the sides to close it and gently place in a lightly greased baking dish. Pour the rest of the mix on top with the liberal spread of peppers and gravy. Top with a mixture of both the cheeses and bake on 250 for about 5-6 minutes or till the cheese melts. Serve hot with red wine and cherry tomato salsa.

Cherry Tomato Salsa
8-10 cherry tomatoes, pound once with a meat mallet or rolling pin so they burst open, keep the juices.
½ cup of red wine, its ok if it’s old. Just make sure it isn’t vinegar already, I like to use the fortified, fruity kinds, but dry ones will do too.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3-4 dry red chillies coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp of finely chopped leek or spring onion greens

Heat the oil, add the chillies. Don’t let it smoke, add the wine and reduce to half (about 5 mins on low fire). Add all the rest of the ingredients and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate. Serve cold with hot enchiladas.

Shirazi Garlic Tava Tikka


Despite the wholesomeness of dal/roti, it is not a meal I can get away with serving on my table. Noses will become crinkled, there were be muted yet very audible grumbles of disdain and nutritious misery... dal and rice and roti will just not do ...at least not on their own. This meal needs a spruce up and over the years I have several spruce related supporting dishes to make my table an award winning one (home cooking awards, usually bestowed by my 5 year old!). The easiest is anything deep fried, so we don’t shy away from chicken nuggets (yes the gross and delicious frozen variety), lamb chops, mince cutlets and the like with our sad and simple dal and rice. Over the years I have had to improvise and think up more and more ‘simple meal’ add-ons and it hasn’t been easy. I have covered all kinds of cutlets, chops, batter and crumb fries in this 14 year long kitchen run, I had to think of something new.

Though I rarely promote boneless meats, when it comes to chicken I feel, boneless is the only redemption this sad little meat has. Boneless chicken is a wondrous thing. It can be cut into strips and stir fried, cubed for a pie, slit for a stuffed roll and of course shredded for the godawful ‘in garlic sauce’ travesties we eat in obscure Chinese joints.... and lots more. I love to make juicy, succulent ‘tikka’s out of boneless chicken breasts cut into long thick strips, about 6 pieces from a 150-175 gms chicken breast. I marinade them for like a day, I know that’s seems like forever but I am a big fan of quick cooking, usually 10-20 mins before we are about to eat, so I need the all the help the marinade can give. It is not a sin to marinate for shorter periods of time, the meat will take longer to cook and in red meats, the flavours may not permeate the meat in entirety, but it will still taste great, so cook on!

Marinade:

6 tablespoons of fresh garlic paste, not from a press ;) ...it should be creamy and white. (Try and use the small garlic pearls and the huge, bordering on bitter imported (??) ones!)

1 tablespoon of green chilli paste
(You can puree the garlic and green chillies together, it keeps for about a week to ten days in a glass jar and a lot of my recipes use this combo, so make a batch if you like)

1 tbsp of cornflour

1 tbsp besan (gram flour)

1 tbsp of lemon juice

2 tsp of garam masala

1 tsp Zeera powder (if you have roasted zeera powder, it’s even better, I roast and a bottle a jar and it stays for months, it is awesome in ‘raita’s’)

1 tsp red chilli powder (I grind dry red chillies after sun drying them for a day but I also like using what we call ‘Deggi mirch’ which is made from the skin of the dry red chilli and no seeds, so it’s less potent, use that if this seems too spicy for you)

2 tbsp Yoghurt (beaten, I hate the way it becomes all speckle-y and curdled looking if it isn’t smooth)

Salt

3 chicken breasts cut into 6 strips = 18 pieces

Mix all this up well, use your hands; it really gets the cornflour and besan blended into the rest of ingredients. Fork the chicken strips, I do that so the meat gets cooked through and through and the marinade works better! Leave this covered in the fridge for like 4-6 hours. Move it around once in the middle if you remember to. Heat oil in a pan, I use olive oil because I like the whole Mediterranean twang, though I appreciate the health benefits, I would probably use olive oil even if it was bad for me. As always I use a non stick for the non stickiness but I use oil fairly liberally, the food turns out like it should. Roll up the strips and place in the oil like pyramids, more like coiled pyramids ...pile a bit of all the excess marinate on each one and sizzle on high for a minute or two, turn and sizzle the other side, then cover and cook for about 6-7 minutes. Check a couple of times in the middle to make sure the tikka’s are not sticking. Once you open the lid, if there is excess moisture, put the heat on high for a minute or so and dry up, or you can leave it to pour on the bread you serve this with. Imagine soft naan’s or poori’s drenched in garlic gravy ....slivered onions ...yum!

Sep 9, 2010

Shirazi Lamb Burgers


As Alyssa is growing I am having more and more trouble accepting packaged, processed and frozen foods. I remember a time where our entire grocery cart was fun junk, frozen burgers, frankfurters, quick fry/micro snacks, crumb coated prawns, pretty much anything that sounded remotely appetizing, we would at least try once! During my pregnancy, it wasn’t hard living without all this stuff because I had a wonderful lady cooking for the family. She has been with us for 19 years so she knew exactly what I liked, what I needed and most importantly what I craved. Once Ally was born, our diet travesties continued but I always cooked separately for her. I introduced eggs into her diet after she turned 18 months, chicken came in when she was 2 and she has been eating fish, seafood and red meats since she was close to 4. I am yet to serve her anything besides frozen French fries and for a working mom that is quite a feat! Now that she is old enough to sit at the table with us for meal times, we have started abstaining from frozen, processed junk as well. It is very hard to convince a 5 year old foodie that yummy smelling stuff is bad for them! No doubt we personally miss it but I suppose we will be thankful in the long run. As long as I have access to help, home delivery and ‘kirana’ variety butcher shops, I don’t think I will be freezing meats anytime soon, except maybe for the dog!

The second clincher was that our microwave conked off and principally, Andy is completely against repaired micro’s. He believes we can’t take the risk of any of that nuke stuff happening t leak while we watch the food get lasered. I use it mainly for reheating anyway so all I ended up with was extra dishes to wash. Why all this ranting you ask? I just wanted to reaffirm why I make burgers from scratch, it’s because I don’t freeze and I don’t nuke!

½ kg Lamb mince, minced fine, tell the butcher guy to run it through once more if you need to, all the chewy sinewy stuff won’t work!
½ garlic paste, I actually like the vinegar-y tang of bottled garlic paste, so I use that, feel free to go with fresh, it’s as yum.
½ ginger paste, same thoughts as above
1 large boiled potato, mashed
1 onion, chopped fine
1 large celery leaf, chopped fine
½ cup fine breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 Egg, beaten
Generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper
Salt

Use your hands (please do!) to break up the mince if it’s clumpy, spread it in a large mixing bowl. Add everything to the mince and mix, mix, mix well! fold it around, treat is like dough and let all the flavours mix up nice and yummy. Now sit this mix in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, that kind of dries the mixture a bit which is good because you don’t it breaking up all over the frying pan, there is nothing more annoying that that! Food sticking to pans is my ‘most upsetting kitchen moment’ qualifier. When you are ready to fry, use a non stick if you like, I use a non stick with oil, I shallow fry everything that I can’t deep fry. Keep a small bowl of water handy, moisten your palm and make a cutlet shaped burger patty, if you want it meaty, thick and juicy, make it a nice chunky burger, in which case you are likely to get around 4-6 from this mix. We prefer them smaller (have you seen the size of commercially sold burger buns), crispier versions, so we make them like ‘alu tikkis’ or frozen burger patties. I don’t like turning foods I am frying too often, especially precarious thinks like cutlets and patties. Fry well on one side, say 3-5 minutes depending upon thickness and then fry the other side. Easy peasy, you’re done... drain on paper towels. Lather up the buns with some nice fluffy mayo, add a lettuce leaf, a slice of tomato and ketchup if you like, there you have it, a burger from scratch.

This is not a typical burger recipe but I like the family to get as much out of a meal as possible, so I like the idea of infusing potato and carbs like breadcrumbs into the dish, with the combo of tomatoes and lettuce, this is a pretty complete meal. Though Andy and I are likely to marginally corrupt it with an add-on of fries and Pepsi, and not the diet crap, the real stuff! I think cola and sugar in itself is bad enough, I don’t need aspartame at the party as well!
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