Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cheesy Baked Croquettes with Smoked Trout & Prawn Sauce

Yeah, that's quite the title isn't it? The prawn sauce is optional, BTW. One night I served them as a main course without the prawn sauce but with a side salad, and the next night as a side dish with the prawn sauce.

Personally, I like them better with the prawn sauce.

The amounts of each ingredient aren't listed --with one or two exceptions-- you'll see why, no worries.

Cheesy Baked Croquettes with Smoked Trout & Prawn Sauce

What you need:

For the croquettes:

4 to 6 cups of leftover mashed potato --do I REALLY need to explain how to make mashed spuds?
handful of fresh basil leaves
diced cheddar cheese --somewhere around 1.5 cm but please don't be exact
couple of handfuls of bread crumbs
cumin powder
turmeric powder
thin-sliced smoked trout (or smoked salmon)

For the prawn sauce:

Handful of prawn shells (I ALWAYS keep prawn shells after shelling the prawns, they freeze well and you just break off a hunk whenever you want to make a sauce or stock)
1 crushed garlic clove
1 or 2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp lambrusco wine
1 tbsp cream fraiche OR sour cream OR double cream
dash of sea salt
dash of ground white pepper
4 cups H2O (water)

Whut U Due:

Cube some cheddar cheese to around 1.5 cm (3/5 of an inch) --or somewhere thereabouts. Mince up some fresh basil leaves (rinse them first, could be caterpillars hiding).

Your cutting board should now look thusly:

Mix the basil into the mashed spuds. Place some of the spuds into your hand --each croquette should be between golfball and tennis ball size.

Flatten the mashed potato in your palm and place a piece of cheese in the middle.

Carefully mold the potato around the cheese


Make up as many or as few as you'd like, no worries. I used three per person as a main and one per person as a side dish. Put them on a plate and then refridgerate for an hour. This way they'll be easier to crumb.

So, like, what to do for an hour while the croquettes chill in the fridge? How about make some prawn sauce!

Add your empty prawn shells and the garlic and 4 cups of water into a saucepan. Crank the heat up and simmer for an hour. If the water gets too low, then just add some more water. You want to end up with around 2 cups of liquid.

Turn off the heat. Take a potato masher and mash the shells flat to extract every last bit of prawny goodness. Strain and return the strained liquid to the pan. Cover the saucepan and set aside. Let's return to the croquettes.

Spread your plain bread crumbs on a tray or plate. The sprinkle on a bit of salt and two of my favourite spices; cumin powder and turmeric powder.

Mix the breadcrumbs around so the crumbs are full of the spices.

After the potato balls have chilled, take them out of the fridge and make up an egg wash: one egg plus equal amount water. And put a bit of flour in a bowl too.

Roll each bowl in the flour (lightly shake off excess), roll it in the egg wash, and then roll in the breadcrumbs.

This is what they look like before baking:

Bake them at around 375 F. Long enough to brown the breading, but not so long that the cheese leaks out. 15 mins should do it --I wasn't timing these but I'd check every few minutes to make sure the cheese wasn't running out.

While they bake, shall we finish the sauce?

Turn the heat on the liquid as low as possible and add the mustard, wine, salt and pepper. Whisk it well, let the sauce come up to a simmer (don't boil it) and taste for seasonings. You might want to add a bit more salt or pepper, but don't make it spicy as this isn't a spicy sauce.

Turn the heat off and cover to keep warm. Just before serving whisk in the cream fraiche (or sour cream or double cream). If you need to heat it back up do so, but it'll only take a minute at most --don't let it boil after you've added the cream.

Spoon it over the baked croquettes BEFORE you top with the smoked trout and basil sprig.

This is what the croquettes look like after baking:

The first night they were a main course without sauce. 3 per plate and a thin slice of smoked trout curled on top. This was my plate:
No, that's not gunky, fatty dressing. It's my own homemade tzatziki

The next night they were a side dish to baked basa and I made the prawn sauce to drizzle over the top. After the sauce is drizzled over the croquettes, then artfully arrange a slice of smoked trout on top and fresh basil to top it. This plate was MIL's just before I added the side salad.

This plate was mine:

I've been told that I can make these ANY time I want, everyone loved them. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Creamy Red Wine Sauce

The other day we picked up some t-bone steaks from our local butcher for an awesomely great price. The consensus for cooking them was lightly salted, seared on the grill, then finished in the oven (actually "ovened" on the grill since it has enough burners and a lid that I can use it as an oven). Their's took 23 mins, whereas mine took 7 (1 min 30 sec a side on a hot grill to sear, then 4 mins in a hot oven --I like mine rare).

Both the rare and well done steaks were very tender and juicy, everybody was happy. They were especially happy with a sauce I decided to make in the wok for a topping for the steaks. You can make this very quickly and easily while the steaks are cooking, no worries. There's numerous substitutions you can use, I'll tell you about that at the end of the post.

Dingo Dave's Creamy Red Wine Sauce

What you need:
1/4 of an onion, finely minced
1 mushroom, minced
pinch of salt
dash black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 glass dry red wine (plus 1 glass for the cook)

2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried tarragon

3 tbsp sour cream

What you do:

Add the first six ingredients (like how I grouped them for you?) to a hot wok. Stir and cook for about 2 mins. Add the garlic and cook for another minute whilst stirring frequently.

At this point there shouldn't be much of any liquid left in the wok. Now add the red wine to deglaze the wok. Keep the heat on till the liquid is reduced by half. Turn to your lowest heat and add the mustard and tarragon. Stir it through till everything is combined and then turn the heat off.

Now add the sour cream, stir everything thoroughly.

If you've timed it right, your steaks should be coming off the grill and onto plates right about now. Spoon the sauce over the top and ENJOY!


I was wanting to use thick, double cream but I was out. Hence the sour cream. Next time I'll use the cream.

Use 2 tbsp butter with no olive oil in the initial step. And vice-versa, of course.

Jarred, prepared garlic can be used instead of fresh cloves, no worries.

Add a pinch of mint at the same time you add the tarragon.

Slice up a couple of fresh shrooms and sautee them for 2 mins in butter, salt, and tarragon. Drain the shrooms and then add them at the same time you add the cream. Use a couple of slices of crusty baguette to soak up the drained, flavourful butter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grilled Garlic & Chilli Prawns

Ahhhhh, this is a great lip-tingling, spicy-hot, tasty, summer grilling treat. Why do you get a great summer recipe as the Holiday season approaches? Cus I'm in Oz where it is late spring and yesterday I saw 110 F in the shade and 143 F in the sun.

Obviously this weather calls for spicy food to help cool you down! Ahem. It works, really. Trust me, 'k?

Wifey-Poo and I got a great deal on some local tiger prawns the other day. I decided I wanted to grill mine and make them rather spicy. I dug back through my ancient memories of when I was in Austin, Texas, USA. There was this one place I found that made the best cajun crawdads.

What I made last night turned out to be a very good approximation of the lip-tingling goodness that I remembered.

You can make this as a main course or a side dish. Just depends on how many prawns ya got.

The first thing to do is make the chilli/garlic paste. There are 3 ways to do this.

An easy way: Mix 2 tbsp prepared garlic with 1 tbsp cayenne powder, a pinch of sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 1 tsp prepared ginger.

Another easy way: Same as above but with 2 tbsp of chilli paste (the real stuff) instead of the cayenne powder.

The easiest way: Go to an oriental grocery store and buy a jar of garlic/chilli paste.

Now put 10 raw, not-shelled, tiger prawns into a bowl, and spoon 2 tbsp of garlic/chilli paste (however you made it) onto the raw, NOT shelled tiger prawns. Use your fingers to make sure the paste coats all the prawns (be careful!!!!!! They are spiny). Then sprinkle 1 tbsp of ground black pepper over the prawns and toss them gently so the black pepper has stuck to the garlic/chilli paste.

Crank up your barby to medium high heat. Place the prawns on the barby and grill for about 2 minutes a side (don't overcook or they'll be tough instead of succulent).

Put the blackened prawns on a plate to cool just enough so that you can handle them. This would be a very good time to wash your hands, BTW.

To eat them, just rip the heads off (make sure you suck out all the juices from the head part of the shell), quickly shell the rest of the prawn and eat it. Continue until all the prawns are gone.

Your brow should have a nice sweat by now. An ice cold lager will take the heat off your tongue and the capillary-dilating properties of the spices will cool your body on a hot summer day.

Seriously, This. Is. Good.