Russian Napoleon Cake – Family Challenge Part 2

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What with my obsessive compulsive following of the Oscar Pistorius saga this week, I almost forgot to finish the Russian challenge blog. RIP Reeva.
The dessert on the evening of my Russian Plov night was this Napoleon Cake with a lot of short cuts. The original cake is of course made with home made dough but us mere mortals with limited time look for recipes that work fast, very fast…..
The recipe is from http://www.russianbites.com and is simply layers of puff pastry with custard creme (creme patisserie)  in between.
Bake squares (4 or more) of puff pastry at 180 C and cool down.
Make custard as follows: ( I would not use store bought custard as you need a thick custard).
1 1/4 cups full cream milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8th cup flour
2T plus 2 t cornstarch
In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.
Once the milk is steaming, add half of it, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture. Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard is very thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and chill before filling pastry.
I added grated orange peel for an orangy taste and flaked puff pastry on the top layer.
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Russian Plov- Family Challenge

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We started this challenge in the winter months and we are still going strong. We all decide whose turn it is to cook next and nominate a country from which a meal must be cooked. I got Russia and loved it. We have to stay authentic and also share as much as we can about the meal, recipe and it’s origin. Some of us even try and set the mood with music and decorations from that country if we have time and of course we laugh about the mishaps and general mayhem that normally prevail. The others are of course banned from entering the kitchen when preparations and cooking is in process. We’ve had Iceland( interesting), Hungary, Portugal, Germany and France before and Trinidad is next.

i found this recipe on http://www.yuliyas.com/blog. Russian food for lazy cooks.

it is a pilaf / pilau dish and I think the closest comparison to a South African dish would be the traditional potjie where the rice is cooked in the pot together with the rest of the ingredients.

So here goes with the Plov. I followed Yuliya’s Uzbek Plov but used lamb as per the original Russian style plov. I added the juice of half a lemon and also added Steak&chop spice to the meat and 3 teaspoons of cumin as the dish would have been too bland for our palate. We loved it and I will make it again. For dessert I served Napoleon Cake and blog for that recipe will follow later.

Ingredients:  6 to 8 servings

      800 g lamb

1/2 cup sunflower oil, grapeseed, or canola oil

2 onions

2-3 large carrots

1 1/2 tbsp salt

1/2 tbsp cumin

cayenne pepper – to taste

1 1/4 cups long grain rice

1 head garlic

1 large ripe pomegranate

1 bunch cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Steps

1. On stove-top, heat oil in a cast iron pot or other thick-walled dish that can safely go from stove-top into oven.

2. Meanwhile, cut beef into fairly large cubes (approximately 3cm or 1 in per side). Dry beef with paper towels. Add to pot and fry, stirring often, until browned.

3. Bring a kettle of water to boil. Start preheating the oven to 180 degrees C.

4. Peel and slice onions in quarter rings. Peel and julienne carrots (or slice in matchstick shapes with a knife)

5. Add onions and carrots to pot and stir. Add salt, cumin, and a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper (or more, if desired). Fry stirring, until onions and carrots produce juices and are limp.

6. Rinse rice. Put rice into the pot in a single layer over meat, onions, and carrots. From this moment on, do not stir the rice until plov is ready to eat.

7. Place a wooden spoon or another utensil over the rice and carefully pour hot water on the utensil taking care not to disturb the rice layer. Pour enough water to have a finger-width layer (about 2 cm) covering the rice.

8. Remove the outer layers from the garlic bulb. Carefully insert the entire garlic bulb into the rice layer taking care not to disturb the rice.

9. Transfer the pot into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until all of the water has been evaporated and absorbed into the rice.

10. When plov is ready, mix the meat and rice layers. Take out the garlic head, remove the skin, and serve alongside the plov. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and finely chopped cilantro or parsley (or both).

I used the soft juicy garlic to spread on dark brown bread with the meal and served it with whole beetroot roasted in olive oil and balsamic reduction.

Samp&Beans/Chickpeas with a lot of twist

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As it goes, my eyes see a recipe and my brain starts thinking what to serve with it, which then evolves into something else and ultimately it ends up in the shop buying ingredients for a week’s worth of meals. Today the brain said “you need chickpeas” with Moroccan meatballs and when in the shop I saw good old fashioned stamp mielies (samp) which I haven’t had in years and it all ended up in this dish.

I served it with the Moroccan Meatballs from the recipe book Drizzle & Dip by Samantha Linsell  page 137 and it is utterly delicious( and beautiful of course).

Watermelon on the side goes well with the dish.

Basic Chickpea dish/salad whith Samp-can be served hot or cold

1 green pepper diced

2 cloves of garlic diced

1 onion

Olive oil

1 tin chickpeas

Juice of 1 lemon

Fresh coriander

Feta to taste (I left this our this time)

I added two cups cooked samp & beans

Fry the onion, green pepper and garlic in olive oil. Add the chick peas and fry some more.

Add the samp & beans and feta (if you want).

Dress with lemon juice (lots), black pepper and olive oil and fresh coriander

Photo: Tara