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A touch of Masterchef… well, sort of

Time today for a much neglected cookbook to be put to work, and also for some actual cooking to take place in my very neglected kitchen. My pots and pans will be pleased to know I’m getting back in the kitchen like a 1950s housewife whose husband works faaaar too late. The cookbook in question is the Masterchef cookbook which, as a big fan of the show and it’s hosts, seemed only right to buy so that I could turn into the next big Masterchef winner wowing John and Gregg. Well, as it turned out I looked at all the pretty pictures and then had a peek at the ingredients and instructions and got rather intimidated. This book isn’t for beginners, and even for someone comfortable in the kitchen spatchcocking a chicken or proving some fresh bread, it can be a little overwhelming. This isn’t a criticism of the book at all, I watch Masterchef religiously, know what’s involved and that the recipes are complex and difficult, but seeing it all in print makes it very clear how much effort the contestants put in. Just in case seeing them getting shouted at by professional chefs and sweating in a Thai kitchen didn’t give it away! But if the Olympic athletes have taught me anything, its that if you want to be the best, you’ve got to push yourself and make life a little harder, so on Sunday I finally gave the book a go and cooked a lovely little meal for The Boyfriend, making the starter from this book. I chose crispy lime and ginger prawns which admittedly is one of the easier recipes from the book but every Masterchef has to start somewhere! Word of warning about prawns by the way. I love them, but since learning about deveining prawns, I’m much more picky about them. Next time you’re about to eat a king prawn, take a look for the black line running down its back. Word up, that’s its digestive tract, so essentially that is prawn faeces. Get a knife, run it down the back of the prawn and remove it,because while it’s probably harmless, you really don’t want to eat that shit. I’m not sure all restaurants remove it as it is quite fiddly work, but now I know what that black line is I won’t touch a non deveined one. So now you know, sorry if I’ve ruined prawns for you, but an educated foodie is one that doesn’t eat crap.
My (deveined) prawns were marinated in some lime juice and spice then coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs flavoured with lime zest and coriander. Smelt amazing. Then I fried them in hot oil until crispy and dished up with some sweet chilli dipping sauce. They were full of zingy Thai tastes, with a little bit of crunch, although I did mess the coating up by coating the prawns all in one go rather than doing them one at a time. The crunchy coating clumped up and a lot was left in the frying pan. The difference that taking a bit more time would have made shows the huge gap between a home cook and a Masterchef, a lesson I have definitely learnt from and will improve upon next time. And there will be a next time, because they were gorgeous even with a clumpy coating, and The Boyfriend is obsessed with prawns in pretty much any guise. Plus, what can I say about the beauty of sweet chilli dipping sauce that hasn’t already been said by a million dippers around the world?

Last night I also cooked Cypriot stuffed chicken from Jamie Oliver’s (can’t be cooked in) 30 Minute Meals. This was also very yummy, with moist chicken and a tangy stuffing made from herbs, sun dried tomatoes and feta. I served it with The Boyfriends legendary dauphinoise potatoes and some asparagus and tomatoes, which with the exception of the tomatoes which I don’t particularly care for, was lovely. While not perfect (not sure how well sharp sun dried tomatoes and feta really go with creamy dauphinoise) it was still very pleasing and didn’t leave either of us feeling bloated, heavy or guilty. While altogether the meal wasn’t too fiddly or time consuming, it does use quite a lot of kitchen utensils. Not a problem for me as the highlight of spending time cooking a good meal means I don’t have to wash up. Suddenly my passion for cooking becomes a lot clearer to those puzzled by my enthusiasm! My mission to become an amazing cook continues, I will try to push myself a bit more in the kitchen and not always take the easy route. I predict a few disasters, but just because you stumble, doesn’t mean you have to fall. Blame London 2012 for all these motivational cliches.

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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Books, Chicken, Cooking, Food, French, Thai

 

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Mojito Cupcakes

Yep you read that right, mojito cupcakes. Cupcakes and mojitos, two of the tastiest things ever invented, combined in a delicious little cupcake. There is a god! This recipe shamefully did not come from one of my many cookbooks, but from another blog (when needing foodie comfort, if I don’t have a new cookbook to perv over, I turn to the food blogs) called OMG Cupcakes. Check it out, although don’t forget Neglected Cookbooks over here alright? Like any sane person, I love cupcakes and I definitely love mojitos, I’ve even been awarded a nickname by some over my love of the cocktail, so naturally when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. The first time I had a mojito I was in Cuba, and I’ve never had a better one since. But this is how it should be, as Cuba did invent the divine drink. Sadly, after that little taste of heaven, the hotel ran out of rum. For the entire duration of our holiday. I know, we thought it was fishy too, a Cuban hotel running out of a national drink, but what can you do? Perhaps this was the staffs revenge for rude tourists (there were a lot of them) speaking very bad holiday Spanish. Anyway, Cuba set off my love affair with the minty mojito and I am happy to say I am still very much in love.

The cake itself is your usual plain sponge with lots of lime juice and zest grated in. Once cooked and cooled, a little chunk of cake is scooped out the top to be replaced by a dollop of lime curd (I couldn’t find lime curd so had to make do with lemon), and then the cakes are topped with a rum and mint cream cheese topping and garnished with a mint leaf. You’ve got all your staple mojito ingredients right there in a cupcake: lime, mint, rum and sugar. And instead of a mixer, you have cake mix, what could be better? I will confess though, that although I would always rather use proper ingredients instead of synthetic substitutes, I couldn’t bring myself to buy a whole bottle of rum for the small amount needed, so bought rum flavouring. I know, I hang my head in shame. But I honestly couldn’t tell the difference and the icing still packs a punch. I should have more wild house parties so I always have whatever alcohol I need for baking! These cupcakes are delicious, and really do taste like a mojito. I really wanted to pipe the icing onto these babies, but I couldn’t get the icing thick enough and it just leaked out the piping bag, so they don’t look as pretty as I’d like, but they sure do taste good. It should be noted that these cupcakes definitely aren’t for kids, and if they tasted one I think they’d hate it, which in my eyes makes them all the more attractive. None of those pesky kids eating them all up before the grown ups even get a look in. They wouldn’t appreciate the zesty sponge, gooey and tart curd, and sweet cream cheese icing with a boozy smack in the face. Make them, eat them, and remember who told you about these genius cupcakes. I do accept cheques.

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PS: Don’t forget to check out OMG Cupcakes for the recipe if you want to give them a go.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Baking, Cooking, Food

 

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