28 January 2011

Cheese Grits with Poached Egg, Frizzled Leeks & Coriander Pesto

I have been away from home for a year and a half.

I don't mind very much, but I'm afraid I won't really recognise it when I return for a visit.  That the place I used to call home will feel only vaguely familiar -- like it's a place I've only dreamt about, but never been.  A place where coriander is called cilantro, where butter is measured in tablespoons instead of grams, and where I don't use the word "quite" quite so often.  I'm afraid I'll get caught pronouncing the "h" in "herb" and people will look at me strangely.

I might be being a bit too dramatic here.

This brunch made me feel like I was at home.  I was totally reminded of hot Atlanta summers and hungover Sunday brunches.  While I might have forgotten how to count American coins, I'll never forget what it felt like to eat in Atlanta, where brunch is for champions who require food to fill the holes in their bellies, due to a combination of excessive beer-drinking and the sweltering heat.  Cheers to the American South.

Cheese Grits with Poached Egg, Frizzled 
Leeks & Coriander Pesto
There are lots of components to this dish, but you can make them one-at-a-time to make your life easier, in the following order.

For the coriander pesto:
fresh coriander, chopped very fine
ground almonds
garlic puree
vegetable oil
squeeze of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in small bowl and set aside.

For the leeks:
olive oil

Sauté leeks in olive oil over medium-high heat until browning and crispy.  Season with salt and remove from heat; set aside.

For the grits:
half an onion
whole milk
grated mature cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Shred half an onion on a box grater and sauté in some butter until translucent.  Add grits to pan with equal-ish parts water and milk, adding more liquid until grits are soft and the consistency you want them.  Add a pat of butter and some shredded cheddar cheese, stirring to melt and incorporate.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the egg:
I'm not going to tell you how to poach an egg.

Finally, assemble plate and serve with salted sliced tomatoes and some greek yogurt, if those kinds of things strike your fancy (as they do mine).

19 January 2011

Jalapeño Lime & Cheddar Cornbread

Today, I made the best cornbread in the history of the world.


It came about due to my limes.  I wanted limes and jalapeños.  I've also been obsessed with polenta lately.  It was like two trains of thought collided in my head and made this bread happen.

There is no difference between polenta and cornmeal, come to find out.  I grew up in Cornbread Land (also known as America), where it's made properly sweet with brown sugar and maple syrup (in Ohio, anyway).  Savoury cornbread always intrigued me, but I never thought to try it until today.  I didn't go full-savoury and used brown sugar in the mix, and the blending of sweet and spicy was seriously just about perfect.

I also went an extra non-traditional step, and used wholemeal flour instead of plain white flour.  I couldn't even notice the difference.  This might actually be healthy AND delicious.  Maybe.

Jalapeño Lime & Cheddar Cornbread
Original recipe by me!
This makes a very small amount (because I am just one tiny person) and comes out about 2.5 inches high in a small loaf pan.  This could easily be doubled or tripled and baked in a larger pan, just watch your baking time.

juice of 1 whole lime
scant 1/2 cup whole milk
2/3 cup cornmeal (also sold as polenta or corn grits in Britain)
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon maize flour (Also likely to be called corn flour in America. Not to be confused with British cornflour or American cornstarch, which are the same thing, and neither one is maize flour.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup demerara (or use brown sugar)
60g (4 tblsp) unsalted butter
1 egg
1 green jalapeño chilli, diced
small handful grated cheddar cheese

Put lime juice in a liquid measuring glass, and add milk until you have 1/2 cup of liquid.  Leave sitting at room temperature for about an hour before beginning the bread.  This is like making buttermilk, except with lime instead of lemon.  The milk with thicken and curdle a bit so don't freak out if this is your first time.  In the meantime, butter your baking tin or line with baking paper.

Preheat oven to 170C/350F.

Mix together next 5 ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and mix in sugar until smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk in milk mixture and egg.

Add diced chilli and grated cheese to dry ingredients, then mix in wet ingredients.  Stir until just incorporated and pour in baking tin, smoothing the top so it is even.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve warm with salted butter.  Serves 3-4 as an appetizer or side.

09 January 2011

Soba Noodles with Broccoli and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Hi.  How are you?  It's been a while.

I'm back from my winter travels, refreshed and recharged.  I took a 7-hour train journey to Wales, and rang in 2011 with some of the best mates a gal could hope for.  I hope your new year is as happy as mine.

Ok, to the food.  Apologies for the rubbish state of the photos... I was very nearly having hunger shakes as I hastily took them.

I just love everything about this dish.  I meant to go and buy groceries today, but slept until noon and woke up with a hangover.  Oops.  So I needed something easy.  I also needed food, like, immediately.  Then came the happy realisation that soba noodles only take 4 minutes to cook.  So easy, so creamy, so perfect.  And it only took 10 minutes of barely-thinking to make it happen.  I want to eat this every day, forever.  I turned right around and made it again for dinner.  Definitely a keeper.

Soba Noodles with Broccoli and Spicy Peanut Sauce

1 bunch soba noodles
broccoli, fresh or frozen

  2-3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  1 tbsp honey
  1 tbsp soy sauce
  1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  1/2 tea garlic puree
  1/4 tea chilli powder, or more to your liking
  ~3 tea cooking water from noodles

Get some water boiling and add broccoli (I used frozen here).  Boil until just tender and remove from water, chop to bite-sized pieces, and cook soba noodles in same broccoli-water, 4 minutes.  No use wasting energy here, folks.

While you're doing all that, whip up the sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.  When noodles are done, drain and toss with sauce and chopped broccoli.  The end.

Serves 1.