Since The Flatmate is currently far away enjoying her summer holidays, I figured I would use the time to test out some new recipes that she can’t object to. Both on myself and some unsuspecting guinea pigs (many have already cancelled and re-arranged, I fear they doubt my cooking skills).
Up until this week, I had been pretty proud of my developing cooking skills. My spaghetti bolognese and chilli con carne are awesome, even if I do say so myself. Okay, they are based on my mother’s recipe but I still managed to follow the thing pretty well. Also, I have made some better-than-average chicken curries.
This week however I have tried to take things to the next level and haven’t been quite so successful. My fried chicken was okay but had issues. I made houmous and it was edible but I wouldn’t describe it as anything more than that. Then I made Swedish meatballs but didn’t taste bad but that didn’t save all 20+ of them ending up at the bottom of the bin.
I was going to post the recipes for my test meals but then I realised there was no point putting up a bunch of failed recipes. That said, I’m trying to document my culinary journey- and I at least want to get some blog posts out all of that money I spent on my food shop since I haven’t had that many decent meals- so I’m compiling my failures into this one post.
Fried Chicken – Ingredients for one big old portion (or two more manageable ones)
Ingredients: – 330g chicken breast | 1/2 cup plain flour | 1 egg yolk | salt and ground black pepper | 1 teaspoon paprika | water | cooking oil (of some variety)
Recipe: – 1. Put a glug or two of oil into a pain and heat for a while, till smoking a bit. | 2. Slice and dice the chicken breast(s). | 3. Mix the flour, egg yolk and paprika and season with salt and pepper. | 4. Wet each slice of chicken a bit before dipping into the flour mixture so that it is covered. | 5. Carefully tip the floured chicken into the oil and fry for 15-18 minutes on low-medium heat, until the chicken is cooked through.
What went wrong: – I crave fried chicken all the time, so I decided to give it a go even without the assistance of a deep fat fryer. As a naive, novice cook, I thought it would turn out better. The flour covering my chicken reached the golden colour I wanted far quicker than it took for my chicken to cook through. That meant that by the time my chicken had cooked all the way through, the flour had browned too much/blackened and flaked off as I tossed the meat around, trying to stop it burning too much. In the end, I had to serve it with the flaked off, browned flour scattered over the top. Having said that, it wasn’t actually a bad first attempt, even if I do say so myself. I served it with macaroni cheese and that turned out okay. Well, okay enough that I included it as part of an actual recipe.
Swedish Meatballs & Spaghetti – Ingredients for 20+ meatballs and one portion of sauce and spaghetti
Meatballs Ingredients: – 250g beef mince | 25g pork mince | 1 egg | 200ml half and half (100ml cream, 100ml milk) | slice of bread | 1 onion | 2 potatoes | extra milk for mash potato | butter | plain flour
Sauce Ingredients: – 100ml cream | 200ml beef stock | 2 teaspoons dark soya sauce | 1 tablespoon cornflour.
To Serve: – 100g spaghetti | handful Cheddar cheese
Recipe: – 1.Heat the oven to 200°C. | 2. Boil potatoes in pan for 20-25 minutes then mash with drop of milk and butter. | 3. Toast the bread and then put in processor to get breadcrumbs. | 4. Fry onions in butter till sightly browned. | 5. Beat egg in bowl and add beef and pork mince, half and half, breadcrumbs, onion and mash potato. Mix all the ingredients together well. | 6. Cover a chopping board with plain flour. Use the meat mixture to shape the meatballs, roll them in the flour and put them on a baking tray. | 7. Once meat mix used up, pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. | 8. Put the spaghetti on to boil for 15 minutes or so. | 9. Mix up beef stock and put in a pan on a medium heat. | 10. Stir in the cream. | 11. Put the cornflour in a mug, cover in cold water and mix till dissolved. | 12. Pour the cornflour water into the sauce pan and stir till thickens. | 13.Once meatball’s are cooked through, fry the one’s you plan to eat immediately in some butter for a couple of minutes. | 14. Pour sauce onto spaghetti and mix in with a handful of finely grated Cheddar cheese. Top with meatballs.
What went wrong: – I love Ikea meatballs. I will come up with a reason I need furniture just so I can have an excuse to go for lunch. I also love Italian spaghetti with meatballs in a tomato sauce. I decided to try and mix the two together: Swedish meatballs with spaghetti. Plus some cheese. I eat everything with cheese. The sauce and spaghetti actually went better than I thought but the meatballs failed. They didn’t taste bad- just were not pleasant to eat. My meat mixture wasn’t thick enough so they fell apart (hence I had to put them in the oven first as opposed to just frying them) and the flavour just wasn’t there. Perhaps I used too much cream- I only had double cream so maybe that’s where I went wrong. I will try making them cream-less next time.
Houmous/hummus – however you spell it.
Ingredients: – 400g can chickpeas | 2 teaspoons sesame seeds | 1 garlic clove | 3 tablespoons olive oil | 1 teaspoon olive oil | 2 tablespoons lemon juice | 1 teaspoon cumin | 1 teaspoon paprika | salt
Recipe: – 1. Firstly make tahini paste but frying the sesame seeds until they start to brown then break up with pestle and mortar/food processor/hard side of a spoon. Then add teaspoon of olive oil and mash up some more into paste. | 2. Drain the chickpeas but keep the chickpea water. | 3. Put them in a food processor with the crushed garlic, tahini paste, three tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, seven tablespoons of chickpea water and pinch of salt. Blend together. | 4. Add cumin and paprika and blend in processor some more.
What went wrong: – This just didn’t taste how it does when it comes in pots from Waitrose. At first I made it without tahini paste, cumin or paprika but the taste was so plain. I tried to make my own tahini but it was hard to make so little in a food processor and I still think I ended up with too much. It tasted exactly the same way as my agar oil from a market in Marrakech smells. I think it tasted better with tahini paste but without cumin and paprika. Paprika is generally used as decoration as opposed to mixed in but I was out of other ideas. The end product was edible, but I’m not looking forward to eating it.