The last time I blogged I was gushing about eating out but today I’m praising the delights of eating in, specifically my own cooking (modest as always, I know). Forever trying to theme dinners, I had my friends over for a Halloween dinner party, though it easily could have passed for harvest or maybe a very contemporary Thanksgiving. It was a nice opportunity for me to experiment with a few combinations.
To start I made some Sriracha mac n cheese bites, squashed and baked into cupcake tins and left to cool till they firm up. And lime, chilli and coriander chicken lollipops. I’m not sure how I feel about the term chicken lollipop, it sounds juxtapositional like bacon and egg ice cream but I remember we had them at Chino Latino and the name’s stuck and is cropping up elsewhere too.
Then I made sweetcorn, bacon and chilli soup with fresh poppy seed dinner rolls. If I was a student again I’d make way more soup than I did and I’d make this a lot, I sieved it after blending but you can skip that step and have more of a chowder. A soup has to be really good for me to want it over something else, even a salad, otherwise I guess I feel a bit cheated but I’m trying a couple of soup recipes at work and I want to eat them all! I think toppings on soups makes them way more appetising too.
For the main event I did possibly my most used recipe from Leiths, Phil Elliot’s sticky asian pig cheeks. Held in a wet brine overnight these pig cheeks are coated in a sauce rich in mirin, honey and soy sauce. I even told the lady at the Waitrose meat counter about the recipe! I’m crazy about it, served with some celeriac puree and buttered kale, the meat just melts apart.
Then with dessert comes my main reservation with the experiment. This was my first time making pumpkin pie and I’ve come to the conclusion that it has nothing on treacle tart or pecan pie. The filling doesn’t quite set and I made the error of using fresh pumpkin so it still had that vegetal taste.
A dessert I am partial to is a Sri Lankan dessert that I made for the first time recently. It’s called Wattalapam and is basically a spiced set custard, made with coconut milk, cardamom and nutmeg. I adapted the recipe from Anita Dickman’s Cookery Course and was pleased with the results, though I could have done with some more dark, kithul jaggery for a more authentic taste. Here’s the very easy recipe, I baked it to ensure a yummy crust but you can just as easily steam it:
- 350g jaggery
- 500ml thick coconut milk
- 8 eggs
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom seeds
- handful cashew halves
Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. Grate the jaggery, mix with all the other ingredients except the nuts. Strain into a baking dish or individual ramekins carefully top with the nuts. Place in a bain marie and bake for just shy of an hour uncovered or till set with a wrinkly crust. Serve hot or cold.
So that’s it for my autumnal round up, some good results from my recipe testing, now full steam ahead to December festivities.