Trish’s Cook It Up!: A Cookbook Challenge encourages us to use our cookbooks more. And I managed to do just that this week!
I owe this one to my mum who was flipping through the May issue of Cooking Light (we get it in exchange for airline miles that we will never use) and pointed out this recipe for black bean patties with a cilantro cream sauce.
We didn’t follow it exactly as we are the glance at the recipe, get the gist of it and adapt it to our tastes/pantry kind of people. I always thought that was how people cooked until I met my mother-in-law, who firmly sticks to recipes, measuring out sauces exactly.
The recipe calls for a can of black beans to be mashed, and a mixture of cooked onion and garlic and spices (it uses ground coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper but we went with paprika and a mixed herb thing I had lying around, as well as some chopped up cilantro leaves and stems) and two eggs to be mixed together. Then shape into patties and cooked.
We added the onion mixture to the beans and a bit of egg. Then did the flour-egg-panko coating that we had already done with the pork chops then fried them.
The recipe also includes a ginger-cilantro cream but required sour cream which we didn’t have (we seldom have any sort of cream in the house). But the patties worked great with a squeeze of lemon and some fresh cilantro leaves!
I imagine that they would taste even more fabulous with a spicy salsa or a fruity one too – peach and avocado? Or mango and avocado? Or for a southeast Asian twist, achar, a Nonya style, very spicy pickle of cucumber, cabbage, pineapple and various other vegetables.
Now this one is cheating a bit. Because we make kong bah (or loh bah) once in a while. And it’s really easy so there’s no need to use a recipe, at least not for us. But there was a recipe for this (although they call it loh bah) in Jo Marion Seow’s Soya and Spice.
But I figure that most of you reading this post will have no idea what I’m talking about so here it is. Stewed pork belly (we used what the Asian supermarket called pork shank – less fatty and a bit tougher than belly meat) or what we in Singapore know as kong bah.
It has long been a favourite of mine, something I would request my late maternal grandmother to make for my birthday when I was growing up in Singapore. It is delectable with its soft tender fall-off-the-chopsticks meat, its soya sauce-based gravy with a hint of spices (star anise, cinnamon) and a bit of sugar. The crockpot makes it all too easy to cook this dish but many prefer to do it on the stove. Sometimes eggs are cooked together with the meat, but we aren’t fans of hardboiled eggs here so we do without. But my Mum wanted to add some dried mushrooms. And these soak up the gravy so well. Yum.
It’s best served with steamed buns or steamed rice.
I mostly turn to my cookbooks for baking recipes. And this Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is one I’ve been slowly making my way through. I really like her very clear precise instructions as well as ways of shaping loaves, which are great for this beginner.
On Friday I made the Basic Hearth Bread. Bread always takes more advanced planning than I’m ready for! We were going out to Ardenwood Historic Farm in the morning for a picnic lunch so there wasn’t time in the morning to make the bread. So I made the sponge and the starter, popped it in the fridge after an hour and a half on the counter. We got back after 1pm. And it was only around 2 that I managed to get started again. This dough requires about 4 hours of rising – one hour here, shape it then another hour there, that kind of thing. In between all the shaping and rising I was attempting to: put the little ones to nap, feed them a snack, clean up all the picnic stuff, clean the floor, and… type this post!!! It’s sitting in its final rise while I’m typing this sentence. Also rising is my pizza dough that will be dinner.
And that pizza dough is TA DA!!! also from a cookbook.
Alas, it is not something new that I dared to experiment with. Instead, it is a quick pizza dough from Smitten Kitchen that I have talked about here before. It is quick, it is easy. It is half an hour of rising and then you get to rolling and topping. And Wee Reader gets to join in the fun. He, thankfully, is good at not making too much of a mess, but hasn’t quite figured out that it’s all about scattering the cheese and instead prefers to dump big handfuls over the sauce. His favourite topping? Broccoli. And cheese. He happily ate two big slices of pizza. And fast too. That’s a sign of a good dinner.
All in all, not a bad week in terms of cooking from cookbooks!
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