Wednesday, 18 April 2012

herb crumbed lamb cutlets with creamy polenta & kale

This week I thought I would try out some ingredients that I haven't cooked with before and gee whiz I am rather happy that I did. So on Saturday morning I packed up my new housemates and took them for a little excursion to the local farmer markets at Eveleigh. Whilst strolling around and viewing all the amazing produce on offer I came across some kale which I have been on the hunt for but unable to obtain at the local supermarkets. I read many recipes for this "super food" but I want to experience it for its self so just fried it quickly with a bit of salt and pepper and it is awesome. If you can't get a hold of any kale I think that using silverbeet or the original kind of spinach (not baby spinach) would achieve a similiar result.

Polenta was next on my list of things I have been wanting to cook but haven't gotten around to so this week I just did it. And am happy I did it because it is tasty and beyond easy. It literally takes 5 minutes! Now after using it once I think that there are so many possibilities to utilise this corny treat.

This dish is super quick and super impressive. Would be great to cook if you have people over as you just multiple everything below by the number of people you are serving.

So, the moral of today's story is that you should always try and step out of your comfort zone and try new things because sometimes you might surprise yourself and be quite delighted by the end result and if things don't work out then at least you can say you tried. I say YAY to new stuff and things.

2 lamb cutlets
1/4 a cup of breadcrumbs
10 mint leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of vegetable stock
1/4 cup of polenta
1 tablespoon of parmesan, finely grated
1/2 a teaspoon of butter
1/2 a bunch of kale

Remove the thyme leaves from the sprigs and finely chop them with the mint and lemon zest. Mix the herbs and zest with the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl lightly beat the egg. Take the cutlets and slightly flatten them out by bashing them with the palm of your hand or a meat mallet. Dip the cutlets in to the beaten egg first and then place in them in the crumbs and completely cover them with the crumb mixture. If you like you can do a second egg dip and crumb coating but I just did the one.
Heat a fry pan to a medium low heat. I sprayed the cutlets directly with spray oil rather than spraying the pan to try and keep my oil usage to a minimum. Once the pan is heated start cooking the cutlets. Make sure that you monitor them as they can burn easily. I cooked mine for about 3-4 minutes on each side as I don't like me lamb overcooked.

Whilst the lamb is cooking bring the water and stock to the boil in a small pot. Once the liquid is boiling, slowly pour in the polenta and continously stir. You need to continously stir to ensure that there are no lumps and your polenta is smooth. The polenta will absorb all of the water and become a thick gluggy consistency. Remove from the heat after 5 minutes and stir through the butter and parmesan.

By now the lamb should be cooked, remove the cutlets from the pan and set them aside for 5 minutes to rest.
Whilst the lamb is resting, heat the same fry pan up to a medium high heat, no need to clean the pan as the crumbs and juices will add to the flavour of the kale. With the kale, remove the ends of the stems and slice the leaves in to large shreds. Throw in to the fry pan with a spray of oil and a good crack of salt and pepper. Stir the leaves for about a minute and then add about 2 tablespoons of water to the pan to help soften the kale leaves. Once the leaves are softened you can serve up.

Give the polenta a good stir, you made need to pop it back on the the heat for about a minute to soften it up again. Spoon the polenta on to the bottom of your plate, place the kale on to the polenta followed by the lamb cutlets on top of the kale. Eat whilst hot as the polenta will become rather gloopy when cold.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

chicken noodle soup or as i like to call it: an edible hug

Apologies for the recent blogging hiatus but the last couple of weeks I have been overwhelmed with a disgusting, putrid, viral bug of some form so haven't had the energy to focus on much other than getting well. When you're single being sick really is the pits. This was honestly the first time that I really missed being in a relationship and having someone around to be able to do pharmacy trips and make me chicken noodle soup, which is the only thing I felt like eating during my days being bedridden but I just didn't have the energy to go shopping let alone cook.

But now that I am better I am able to make it for myself and feel happy about being single again. It also coincides perfectly with this shitty change of weather in Sydney. Brrrrrrrrr and Grrrrrrrrrr.

So when I originally went shopping for this I was on the hunt for Alphabet Noodles - what the heck happened to Alphabet Noodles??? Why would people stop making them? Nothing beats getting a bowl of soup and slopping it everywhere whilst trying to spell out your name on the table. It is a travesty I tells you! I think I will write a letter of complaint, gosh dang! So I got the next best thing - Dinosaur Noodles.

1 chicken Maryland
1/2 an onion
1 stick of celery
1/2 a large carrot
2 cups of salt reduced chicken stock
2 cups of water
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of parsley

Chicken from the Maryland for the stock
1/2 a large carrot, finely diced
1/2 a cob of corn, sliced from the cob
1 stick of celery, finely sliced
2 sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of Dinosaur Noodles

Pre-warning: I recommend cooking the stock the night before you want to make the soup so that the night you actually cook the soup it doesn't take hours to create.

Take all of the stock ingredients and place them in a pot, cover and place on the lowest possible heat. I put my stock on for about 2 hours whilst I went grocery shopping and cooked dinner for the evening.

After 2 hours let the stock cool, transfer to a contain and place in the fridge overnight. By cooling in the fridge it will separate the fat from the stock. When you go to cook your soup remove the stock from the fridge and skim and discard the fat off the top of the stock using a teaspoon. The stock will now have solidified so will be like jelly, this is a sign of a good stock. Remove the Maryland from the jelly, place the jelly and stock veges in to a pot with 2 cups of water and place on a low heat for about 15 minutes so that the jelly completely dissolves.

Whilst the stock is on the heat, remove the skin from the Maryland and remove the meat from the bones, the meat may look discoloured but it should only be due to the cooking process and then being cooled overnight, if your chicken was fresh there won't be any issue. Tear the chicken meat in to small pieces for the soup. Once the stock is heated take a sieve and strain the stock in to a bowl, separating all of the vegetables and other ingredients which can now be thrown out.

Take your separated stock and place in the pot again and add the torn chicken pieces, carrot, corn, celery and 1/2 a cup of water. Put on a medium heat and cook for 20 minutes.

When the soup is cooking bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the Dinosaur Noodles. I like to cook my noodles separately so that it doesn't make the soup too starchy and I can ensure that the noodles aren't overcooked. Once the noodles are done strain them and add them to the soup and remove the soup from the heat. Add the chopped parsley and a good crack of salt and pepper.

Whilst the soup cools a little, pop a bit of toast in to the toaster and cut yourself up some cute little soldiers for dunking in the broth and you're ready to go.

I don't own any soup bowls at the moment so I just ate straight from the pot - why you ask - because it doesn't even matter when I am the only one eating it.