Mar 25, 2011

Shirazi Snicker Cheats

These were so decadent that I had 3 left to take to work the day after I made them. After sufficient setting time in the refrigerator, these really do taste a lot like Snickers and you can always work with the peanut butter/chocolate ratio to make it more or less nutty/chocolatey. Ally and I are both very fond of peanut butter and her appetite for it goes as far as having a peanut butter sandwich with a cheese
omelette, believe it or not, the sweet/salt balance is just yummy.

Bite Sized Snickers

2 cups (500 grams) creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 - 2 1/2 cups (230 - 290 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

Place the peanut butter, unsalted butter, and salt in a microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave for about one minute or until just soft (check and stir the ingredients every 20 seconds). Stir in the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar and mix until it has the consistency of a dough (add more sugar if necessary).Roll the dough into 1 inch (2.5 cm) round balls. Place on the cookie sheet and refrigerate for about one hour, or until firm.

Chocolate Coating

9 ounces (255 grams) semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons (25 grams) shortening

Melt the chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip the balls, one at a time, in the melted chocolate, making sure the entire ball is coated with chocolate. Then, with two spoons or a dipping fork, remove the peanut butter ball from the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the chocolate covered balls back on the baking sheet. Once all the balls have been dipped in the chocolate, place in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set. Store these in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Place in small fluted candy cups, they keep better this way. This batter makes about 40 pieces, depending on size.

The Shirazi Sandwich System!

This week has been rewarding, kitchen wise I mean. I have been enjoying the last few relatively cool evenings baking, frying, sautéing and more! This week we have had Biryani night, Iranian Chicken Tikka (that’s the whole leg, with thigh), I cheated and pan fried it though and served it with Sumac rice and Tabbouleh salad, Mince or Spinach calzones, homemade pepperoni pizza, Fried Fish night and loads of cupcakes, cookies and cake! But for me the most fun part is spending all that time with the ingredients, the techniques, the methods, all of it and I end up eating while I am cooking and I rarely enjoy the meals I make. Sometimes it’s worth it though, like the other day. I was heating leftover crumb fried fish for Ally; I had some of my biryani prep laid out, fried potato wedges, crisp browned onions and the ketchup I had just removed from the cabinet for Ally’s meal. Two breads we always have in the house are pita bread and burger buns. I cut open a burger bun, slid in a warm off the pan fish fillet, topped it with two potato wedges, some crisp onions and a dollop of ketchup and believe it was one of the yummiest sandwiches I had in a long time!

See that’s the wonderful thing about sandwiches, if you have your basics in place, any combo is likely to work. Make sure you have fresh bread at all times, choose from whichever variant you prefer, use good quality sandwich spreads or better still use good quality mayonnaise and make your own spreads. I use a lot of combo’s, (1) for a tart, spicy spread I use mustard powder and grated mature cheddar, with a dash of Tabasco. (2) For a light, fluffy spread, I fortify the mayo with finely chopped gherkins, cucumber, spring onions (use some of the green and do a Chinatown job of the chopping if you can) and sea salt, with a sprinkle of white pepper powder, yum! I (3) make a killer sandwich with grilled tomatoes and aubergines use the Indian purple brinjal, the big round one, it’s sensational.

Every time you bbq, keep a few slices (thick-ish) of tomatoes and brinjals ready, slap it on when the grill is free, brush lightly with olive oil, spray water on the coal, so there is nice flavoursome smoke coming at the veggies. Remove when they start to char a bit. Put those slices in a sandwich with a spread of plain spreadable cheese, oregano or pre mixed Italian seasoning if you like and a dash of lemon juice, it is heaven! You want to notch it up a little? Skip the cheese spread and grate some nice fresh parmesan to finish. (4) Vegetarians love this sandwich, another veggie favourite is crumbled Feta cottage cheese, few rocket leaves (use the little ones), crushed garlic whipped well with yoghurt and seasoned and pine nuts if you can get hold of them. These two sandwiches can be miniaturized on little brioches, baguette slices and they make great starters. (5) Another few decadent classics for us our crumb fried chicken strips, tartar sauce, Tabasco and fries, yes, in the sandwich! (6) This one is such a tad worse in terms of decadence, bacon strips, cheese omelette, pickled onions (the sweetish ones, you can make your own, heat a little oil, add thinly sliced onion, fry well on high, don’t move them around too much and crush them, as they brown, add a tbsp of honey or brown sugar and caramelize, cool and use) and a few oven roasted cherry tomatoes (again, very fancy but very easy. (7) Wash and wipe a dozen cherry tomatoes, grease an oven proof pan with olive oil, 2 tbsp, and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and bake on 100 C for around an hour and half. Give the dish a shake once in a while, so they don’t char. I call this quick sun drying.

Now for me it has come to a point where I cannot order sandwiches in coffee shops and even when I order at 5 Star Coffee Shops I stick with the safe ones. Here’s a business idea, gourmet subway... no really, imagine a world where you don’t choose between types of sandwich breads, you choose between bagels, ciabatta, focaccia, French baguettes, Pita, Khubus ... You choose between freshly whipped spreads and exotic vegetables, you choose between sloppy meats like meatballs, roast beef, roast pork, chicken strips, buttered prawns....yum!