Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Contest 2 - In the Kitchen


MoonRat is a self-described foodie. She'll try anything, we suspect. Um, anything food-related, that is. She'd probably give Anthony Bourdain a run for his money. So tantalize the beloved Moonrat with your most delicious recipes! The more exotic, the better!

Contest: Post your best recipe...or most favorite recipe...or one you think MoonRat would swoon over.

Deadline: 10 pm ET TONIGHT

Prize: A $25 gift certificate for cheese donated by Chris Eldin

Judge: MoonRat or a designated surrogate.


Froog said...

This is a vegetarian recipe from Jamaica. You can use just about any vegetables you have to hand, although it's good to have yams and eggplant as your base. The real secret is the 'rundown' - thickened coconut milk. I've never found anywhere you can buy this readymade (not even in West Indian stores in London), so you just have to be buy regular coconut milk (LOTS of it) and painstakingly boil it down. The longer you take, the better: when it gets really thick and brown, take it off the heat, and let it set. It separates into a layer of white fat (which you can use for cooking, if you want) and the custard-like 'rundown' which makes the sauce for this. It looks pretty horrible, but it tastes divine.

Calories? Oh, yes!!!

1 medium eggplant (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
3 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 Scotch bonnet chile or habanero chile, seeded, minced (1/2 teaspoon)
Reduced coconut milk (rundown)
1 14-ounce red-skinned sweet potato (yam), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 cup (or more) water

4 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage (from about 1/4 large head)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn) or 2 cups frozen corn kernels
8 fresh okra pods, trimmed (optional)

Place eggplant in colander set over bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt; let stand 20 minutes. Rinse and drain.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, 1/2 cup green onions, thyme, garlic, allspice, and chile; sauté until onions are tender, about 8 minutes. Add coconut rundown and simmer 3 minutes. Add sweet potato, carrots, bell pepper, and 1 cup water and bring to simmer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add eggplant, cabbage, corn, and okra, if desired, to vegetable mixture. Add enough water to partially cover vegetables. Cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender and mixture is thick and creamy, stirring often and adding more water by 1/4 cupfuls if liquid is too thick, about 15 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer stew to bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup green onions and serve.

Froog said...

Ah, I forgot.....

Well, they're simple folk, Jamaicans - they just call it Vegetable Rundown.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

How do you think the Moonrat would feel about a recipe of mopani worms sauteed in garlic and butter...? No, of course I'm not kidding.

ChrisEldin said...

Well, I did inclde some special recipe ingredients on my blog.
But feel free to substitute....

peggy said...

Are you sure you want my recipe? ;)

Precie said...

froog---I wonder if there's anything a cook could substitute for the coconut milk (since I just happen to abhor all things coconut). Any ideas?

moonrat said...

ooooh dang, that sounds AWESOME. i might have to make the monkey prepare this for me for dinner.

Julie Weathers said...

Rodeo Cake

1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cold water
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan.
In large mixer bowl sift together sugar, flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Add remaining ingredients and beat until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan.

2 cups confectioner sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
3-4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients until of spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cake.

This is a heavy, moist, chocolate cake that is easy to make for even those who can't cook.

Dana said...

Not necessarily exotic, but wicked good and super easy!
White Chicken Enchiladas
Serves: ~8
Prep time: 60 min (30 if using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken)
Cook time: 45-60 min

* 8-12 burrito-sized tortillas
* 4 large chicken breasts or a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken
* (1) 7 oz can diced green chiles
* 1 medium yellow onion
* 2 Tbsp butter (salted or unsalted)
* 1 cup sour cream
* (1) 8 oz cream cheese block
* 1 lb grated mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup or more heavy cream
* chunky tomato salsa (to individual taste)
* a few dashes (to taste) of the following:
o Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, salt
* Non-stick cooking spray or vegetable spread (Crisco)
* Enough foil to cover a large casserole dish

1. The original recipe calls for lots of ingredients that are full-fat. We've varied it up a lot, sometimes using Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese, half-and-half or fat-free half-and-half, instead of cream, and reduced-fat mozzarella. Taking out all of the fat removes quite a bit of the flavor, so we suggest mixing reduced-fat and regular-fat items to help balance it out. Certainly substituting half-and-half for cream is a really good change. :)
2. Prepare the chicken as desired (boiled, grilled, baked, stewed, etc.). After cooking completely (and once it's cool enough to handle), shred the chicken. Using a store-bought rotisserie chicken makes this task really easy (and you can use a flavored one if you want to--chipotle, hot wing, anything is probably good).
3. If cooking immediately, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
4. Dice the onion and saute it in the butter over medium heat until soft and translucent.
5. Combine shredded chicken, prepared onion, sour cream, cream cheese, and green chiles. Add at least 1 dash tabasco, 1 pinch salt, 1 pinch cayenne pepper (and more of all, to taste). Usually more is needed if using chicken you prepare, vs. less if using flavored rotisserie chicken. Mix until just combined; do not over-mix.
6. Lightly grease large casserole dish with non-stick spray or vegetable spread, all the way up to the top.
7. Evenly distribute the mixture into tortillas, roll them up, and place them into the casserole dish parallel to one another. Ingredients should be packed tightly enough to fill each tortilla completely from end-to-end, and all tortillas should be packed tightly into the dish to use as much space surrounding them as possible. Use between 8 and 12 tortillas. Leave room on top for cheese; stack them flatter, rather than taller. If necessary, take them all out, redistribute, re-roll, and try again until you get it right. Most burrito-sized tortillas fit perfectly, but if you have gigantic tortillas, you will need to trim some extra off of the edges before stuffing them into the casserole dish.
8. Spread the mozzarella cheese evenly over the entire surface of the enchiladas. When done, press everything down a bit to make sure it is all well distributed and tightly packed.
9. If cooking immediately, continue. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, then continue as follows.
10. Pour the cream (cream, half-and-half, mixture, whatever) carefully over the entire casserole, coating on top, between, and around the tortillas. Don't let the cream overflow the dish, and don't use so much that it sloshes around in the dish. If all has gone well to this point, your tortillas will be tightly packed and will absorb the majority of the cream, the rest of which will be reduced in the oven.
11. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in center of oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. (5 more minutes may be required if casserole was refrigerated overnight before baking.)
12. Remove foil and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted, golden-brown, and bubbly. If cooking longer, don't let the bottom burn.
13. Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes before cutting. Cut into square or rectangular pieces: probably once down the middle in the long direction and then between every two tortillas in the short direction. If that's too big, cut twice down the long direction instead. If you can't see through the cheese well enough to get between the tortillas, don't worry about it. :)
14. After plating, top with chunky tomato salsa (or serve on the side). Sour cream on the side is also optional.
15. Leftovers can be frozen or refrigerated (very well, in fact). When reheating, use casserole mode or reduced power and longer time on a microwave in order to ensure center is warmed without over-cooking edges.

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Oh darn, I feel I have lost to Froog before I even started. But here's an exotic recipe from my dogeared copy of a cookbook called COOKING ALASKAN:

2 pounds walrus meat
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup ketchup
1 egg or 1/4 cup evaporated milk diluted with water
1 cup oatmeal
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce

Mix and put in baking dish. Cover and cook 300 degrees for 1/5-2 hours.

No, I haven't tried this (I stick to Alaska salmon), but I figure Moonrat is more adventurous than I am. As for obtaining the walrus -- well yes, that's half the fun. Bon Appetit!

Precie said...

ack! now I'm starving!!!!

jalexissmith said...

The sure fire key to Moonie's heart (not really a recipe):

1 box brownie mix
1 bottle prepared mojitos
1 tray of sushi

Prepare, purchase or open. Eat. Enjoy.

Marie Beausoleil said...

Donairs are a Nova Scotia (east coast of Canada) specialty, and they are wonderful. At the kitchen where I once worked, we described these on the menu as "Spicy meat loaf and fresh vegetables served in a warm pita with creamy garlic sauce."

Amount for one loaf:
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound ground beef - ask your butcher to double grind it

1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons white vinegar, or as needed

Sliced onion
Sliced tomato
Grated mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a cup or small bowl, mix together the salt, oregano, flour, black pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.

Place the ground beef in a large bowl, and use your hands to blend in the spice mixture. If you want the smooth texture of meat that you see in a real donair shop, you must do this in a steel mixing bowl and on a sturdy surface. Pick up the meat, and throw it down with force about 20 times, kneading it after each throw. This also helps the meat hold together better when you slice it.

Form the meat into a loaf, and place it on a broiler pan. If you do not have one, a baking sheet will do. However, the BEST would be a meatloaf pan that allows the fat to drip away. In real donair shops, the meat is slowly grilled on a spit.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, turning the loaf over about half way through. This will ensure even cooking.

This cuts better if you chill the meat overnight before slicing. The meat freezes very well, and tastes and slices better after freezing.

To make the donair sauce, mix together the evaporated milk, sugar and garlic powder in a medium *glass* bowl (I'm told it won't set properly in plastic). Gradually whisk in the white vinegar, adding 1 teaspoon at a time, until thickened to your desired consistency. Place in the fridge to chill well. Use it within a couple of days and don't freeze it.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and slice off thin slices of the meat loaf. Fry the slices briefly in the hot skillet, until browned on each side. Remove from the skillet, and keep warm. Flick a little water onto the hot skillet, and brown the pita breads a little on each side to soften.

Load up one side of pitas with meat slices, tomatoes, onion, and grated cheese. Spoon sauce over the filling, and fold pitas in half, then towards the center.

The sauce will drip, you will make a mess, and you will end up eating saucy bits of meat and vegetables and bread with your fingers, but it will be worth it.

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Hey Marie! I lived in Nova Scotia (in a fishing village just outside Halifax) for 2 years. It always confused me why they called them "donairs" when we call them "gyros." (Except donairs are sweeter and a little goopier.) Thanks for the recipe -- I might actually try it!

ChrisEldin said...

I'm going to have to print these out!!

Froog, my oldest son is vegetarian--will have to give yours a try!

YUM!!!! To all!!

jalexissmith said...

Marie- my boyfriend has been obsessed with donairs ever since i brought him to visit my family on Prince Edward Island! He'll flip when I send him this recipe!

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

OK, Now it's time to start trying to influence the judge, which i think can be done by: frequent commenting (ahem) or by careful interpretation of the rules. We were supposed to come up with a recipe that would make Moonie swoon. To swoon is to faint. I think many of these lovely recipes would make Moonie smile and perhaps even salivate, but not faint. A hairy walrus on a cutting board, ready for grinding into meat loaf -- now that would make Moonie swoon/faint, I think.

Yeah President Obama! Give me a fist-bump (irrelevant cheer from someone who stayed up way too late last night).

Linda said...

I could post this amazing venison chili recipe I've bee making every two weeks, or the authentic tiramisu, or Thai braised beef, or the apricot-pistachio biscotti dipped in white chocolate, but... the recipes are at home and I am not.


Because this is a love fest, take a pint or two of best quality organic strawberries and one bar of schaffenberger 70% dark chocolate. Grate chocolate into small pyrex bowl and nuke on 70% power for 1 minute. Stir, then microwave in 30 second increments until fully melted. Dip strawberry into melted chocolate, lay on parchment paper, refrigerate until chocolate hardens. Devour.

Or... take one carr cracker, lay on a small slice of brie, top with a small dollop of peach preserves (I make my own from peaches from tree). Yum. ALternatively, use a ginger crisp instead of the carr water cracker.

And my current quick fix... take honey wheat pretzel sticks and dip into marshmallow fluff. Chew. Swallow. Delish. (Dip into PB before the fluff also delish).

Peace, Linda

Ello said...

Two recipes that are absolutely amazing:

8 to 10 pieces of thighs
½ a cup of flour
2 lemons
3 large onions thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper chicken and lightly dust with flour. Heat large oven proof pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In medium to medium high heat sauté chicken on both sides til golden brown (5 minutes a side) remove to separate plate and discard fat in pan. Place remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pan and sauté onions and garlic together. Sprinkle with thyme. When soft, return chicken to pan, skin up and add chicken broth all at one time and bring to a simmer. Slice one lemon thinly and place a lemon slice on each piece of chicken. Cut other lemon and squeeze juice all over chicken. When it simmers, cover and place in a 400 degree oven and cook for 15 minutes covered. Remove cover and cook for another 35 to 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

Apple tart

Ok I cheat and use pillsbury dough crust - the stuff is awesome!

8 large apples peeled and cored and halved
¾ cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

In a non-stick pan (10 or 12 inch), cover bottom of pan evenly with sugar. Cut butter into little pieces and distribute evenly over sugar. Drizzle over with vanilla extract. Turn pan on to medium low. Put apple halves with round part on curve of pan as tightly together on outer rim of pan and another circle in inside then apple in middle. When sugar starts to bubble, turn heat to low and just leave for hour uncovered. Take off, put pan on baking sheet. Place dough on top and tuck edges over apple. Turn oven to 425 degrees and place in oven for 35 to 30 minutes til golden brown. Flip over onto platter and serve with vanilla ice cream.

moonrat said...

oh my god. nooooooooo.

i have to choose?!??!

moonrat said...

also... you guys are CRUEL AND UNUSUAL. i am drooling everywhere. nnnnnnnn.

moonrat said...


further influencing of the judge is required!!!

moonrat said...

ok, i've decided. i just... Froog, you take the cake. More specifically, you take Julie Weathers's Rodeo Cake, which is a close runner-up. I couldn't decide if I was feeling sweet or savory but I couldn't cope under the pressure of all the herbs and spices.

Now I need someone to prepare it for me. All that chopping.

Andromeda, you have the rally monkey all keyed up. His specialty is what he calls "Noah's Meatloaf" and usually includes lamb, beef, pork, and venison, and sometimes also turkey, goat, or rabbit. He's quite rattled. "Where can I get walrus meat?!?!" he bleats sadly. Any ideas?

Also, what a nice Canadian and ex-Canadian population we have around here! I think the majority of you are or have been Commonwealthers. I'll slip the RM the donairs recipe.

Froog said...

Gosh, thank you, Moonie.

I think it may have been an unfair advantage to get in first. A certain mental meltdown - glutton-fatigue - must take over quite soon.

Also, I'm not really a huge fan of cheese; and I can't see any way I'd be able to redeem the voucher here in China anyway..... so I'm quite happy to cede the 1st Prize to Julie's awesome cake.

Just so long as she saves me a slice.

And to whoever it was that asked: er, no, sorry, I can't think of anything that would really take the place of coconut milk; nothing else has quite that combination of sweetness and fattiness, nothing else achieves that colour or consistency when you simmer it for 3 hours!! You could just try it with a regular cream or yoghurt kind of sauce, I suppose, but you might need to add some more spices to make it interesting.

ChrisEldin said...

Froog, congratulations!!! The voucher won't work in China? Are you sure...I'll check, but if not, thank you for graciously offering to Julie. I'll be in touch later today....

Thanks for playing everyone!! Now, back to the kitchen!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Moonrat on two fabulous years! I have truly enjoyed and appreciated your blog. Now here's a treat for you...

A Favorite Fall Recipe

Check it out for a simply scrumptious recipe!


Julie Weathers said...

Froog, are you sure? I mean, I seriously love cheese. Seriously to the point I taught myself how to make cheese. It's nearly impossible to do in a tiny apartment, though.

Yes, I would happily send you a piece of cake or maybe even some Killer Cupcakes, which are to die for.

Froog said...

Oh well, yes, then definitely all yours, Julie. The cheese should go to someone who'll really appreciate it - rather than someone who'll just try to hide it in a lasagne!

The Killer Cupcakes sound great - but, er, don't call them that on the customs declaration, OK?

By the way, I think The Killer Cupcakes is going to be this month's winner in my ongoing band names competition!

Julie Weathers said...

Froog, ok, you made me laugh. I will share the recipe for Killer Cupcakes and Monkey Bread in your honor.

Julie Weathers said...


I just looked at the website. They have CHOCOLATE! You don't have to choose cheese.


Precie said...

Yay, Froog!!!

Precie said...

Oh, and now I've just caught up. How nice of Froog! Yay, Julie!

ChrisEldin said...

Thanks for playing, everybody!!

Julie, I'm going to click on your profile--but I remember from a while ago not being able to find your email. If your email isn't on your profile, can you email me?

I'm headed over to check...


Julie Weathers said...

Chris, this is a new address, but check with Froog first because he can order something besides cheese.

Thank you so much.

I'm still thrilled about the book certificate from the book roast. You all are so sweet.

Froog said...

Trying to give up chocolate, too. I'm in a very abstemious phase.

Besides, MR decided to give me the book prize for the synopsis competition instead. Food-for-thought - far more long-term satisfying!

Julie Weathers said...

Trying to give up chocolate, too. I'm in a very abstemious phase.

Well, rumor has it you are taking Moonrat as your girlfriend so I guess you aren't giving up everything fun.

Thank you, Froog. It was very sweet of you.