Vol.36 Meals

Hello to one and all!

Looks like I’m slipping this menu in just before the week ends. Just-a-Cook is still getting nice and busy. I had a double cake order for Monday (during which I realised my oven wasn’t working properly AGAIN! 😟) So there was a quick dash to my dad’s house to use his oven with some frantic waiting to see if the cake would be alright. Happy to report it all worked out and my oven is now back but we definitely have to have a chat. She (my oven) has betrayed my trust. Said she was at temperature, then wasn’t at temperature, then was. And all this back and forth caused two cakes to fail (i.e., we had two delicious but very soft chocolate cakes to eat). So yes, bridges will have to be re-built. Anyway, back to food. I’ve got a bit of a greatest hits menu for you this week. So, let’s go!

Play the hits Vol.36!

Using my previous descriptions again! Hopefully I’ll eventually have the time to come up with original, hilarious content once more but today is unfortunately not that day.

 Traybake ragu with maccheroni – Last time we had this dish on the menu was for Vol.28. I mistakenly gave someone a portion that belonged to someone else and hence had to awkwardly message all of you to find out who had the missing portion. I most identify with the face-palm emoji and that is one of the reasons why.

This is me…

This exact meal (minus the herby salad) featured on the Vol.07 menu way back when. I’ve been wanting to make more semolina pasta (maccheroni being little tubes of pasta) – only two ingredients – fine semolina flour and water. A quick knead with minimal mess and you’ve got your ball of dough. Also – no need for the pasta machine as I can just tear off pieces of dough and roll them out. Oh, and it dries well too. The traybake ragu is from Flavour and it is packed with yummy umami flavour! (Apologies for the lame joke). It has everything! Carrots, onions, oyster mushrooms, dried porcini mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes, lentils, barley, coconut cream. And that doesn’t even include all the umami-boosters – miso paste, harissa paste, tomato paste, soy sauce, red wine! Perfect for nights when you want something hearty and filling.

Beef, ale & mushroom pieI’ve decided to dig up the original description of this one (during which I discovered that I totally didn’t write these long descriptions before January 2021. This is the first proper description I’ve found. Must have been sending out surprise dishes for all of you before that 😅.)

You guys will be well aware of this delicious pie by but if not, here’s a quick recap: chunks of beef are stewed in a delicious gravy made up of onion and carrot, with some bacon lardons mixed in for good measure, and some mushrooms to finish off the flavour feast! The gravy is a wonderful balance between sweet and slightly bitter – both of which come from the ale. And the whole thing is topped with a wonderfully crispy, flaky, golden (once baked) puff pastry lid. If you haven’t tried this pie, I urge you to do so this time – your taste buds will thank you.

Spinach and ricotta cannelloni with bechamel sauce – This dish must be one of the first ones I ever decided to put on a menu. (Lots of trips down memory lane with this menu) Description as follows:

Spinach and ricotta need no introduction – creamy creamy fresh ricotta (just by the way), cannelloni are pasta tubes. Because I make my pasta fresh, I actually end up just rolling a small sheet of pasta around the filling. The filling is flavoured with parmesan, pecorino, nutmeg and some fresh oregano. The cannelloni are then covered in a thin bechamel sauce – enhanced by a little fresh mint and lemon zest. The cannelloni are brushed with some melted butter, covered in a bit more sauce and topped with more pecorino. These cannelloni are light and oh so creamy. If you’re not a fan of heavy pasta dishes, this the perfect alternative.

For the fresh dishes I decided to stick with some dishes that got great feedback! And I hope that means a lot of you will order.

Chicken/Vegetable Roti kottu – I’m sure you guys remember this one. It was delicious when it went out a few months ago. Here follows the super long description 😉:

As mention earlier, this is a Sri Lankan street-food. Traditionally it’s made with leftover curry, whatever vegetables you might have at hand, strips of roti and egg. It’s sort of like a south Asian stir fry. It being me, I’m going to be making the roti I use from scratch. The chilli powder I use from scratch and the eggs I use from scratch. Kidding on the last one – I don’t make eggs but must say I’d like to have a chicken on day. Anyway, focus Jess, back to the Kottu. Roti Kottu is made not with normal roti but rather with a flaky type. One could use paratha but again, this being me, I’ve gone OG (specifically an older South Asian lady’s YouTube channel for a step-by-step guide) – I’m making Godamba roti – the dough is still just flour, water and salt but the balls of dough are then soaked in oil overnight before each being rolled out suuuuuper thinly, folded over themselves and then dry fried. Sounds like a lot of extra work, doesn’t it? I know! I’m excited too! Next up the curry. I don’t happen to have any leftover curry hanging around so I found myself a recipe via the NY Times (they also have a great recipe collection by the way). It says to use Sri Lankan curry powder. Having never seen Sri Lankan curry powder available for purchase I could have said, oh no matter, I’ll just substitute it with a different curry powder. But again, that just doesn’t sound like me, does it? Enter – the recipe I found posted on the internet by a Sri Lankan mother – I trust her expertise, so homemade Sri Lankan chilli powder it is! It’s made up of curry leaves, dried chilli, fennel, cumin, coriander and black pepper. It’s bound to be very fragrant and quite spicy! The curry itself is fairly simple – chicken thighs, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, the curry powder, a few extra spices and coconut milk. For the vegetarian one I’m going to replace the chicken thighs with some potatoes, greens beans and peas. Now for the dish to come together. First up, you fry some onions and chilli, then you add some carrots and spring onions, next, in go the eggs – scrambling them as they cook. In goes the meat (or veg) (not the sauce) from the afore mentioned curry. Mix, mix, mix and then stir in the sliced-up roti. Mix, mix, mix again and then finally add the sauce of the curry. I’m probably going to give you the sauce separately as incorporating it too early before serving means you end up with a soggy dish. I think this is going to taste amazing! It’s not particularly photogenic but when. You’ve. Got. Flavour. Who. Cares. About. Looks!

Caramelised onion and chilli ramen with soft-boiled egg – I had a look at my “Help me build future menus” survey and I picked up on the fact that broths are still in demand. So even though it’s getting warmer I’m happy to give the people what they want!

The broth’s base is caramelised onions – with added miso, soy sauce and sake. Then we add some garlic, bok choi, chilli and noodles (I’m going to give you buckwheat noodles for a little extra depth of flavour). And I’m going to make my own Sichuan chilli oil for you to pour over the top. The best best best chilli oil you can get is from PRON – an amazing restaurant in Linden – please do me a favour and go support them when we can eat out again and then buy yourself a little jar of their oil. So good. You’ll be getting mine – definitely not as great as PRON’s because that’s impossible – but delicious nonetheless. The final touch will be the soft-boiled egg to go on top. Another Meera Sodha creation!

The dessert this week was reeeeeeally popular the first time it went out. And since I made three of them last time baking them this time should be a breeze.

Check. It. Out. Yum yum yum

Now on to my fiddley dessert. So Bienenstich is a German classic (literal translation Bee-sting). It was sold in our Tuckshop at school (I went to the German School in Aukland Park) EVERY day and my husband (we went to the same school) told me he would skip buying lunch so that he could buy a slice of Bienenstich. So, clearly, it’s popular. The cake part of it is actually an enriched leavened (ie. added yeast) dough, which means it’s light and fluffy. The topping is an almost caramelly-type sauce of flaked almonds, honey and sugar. And then the cake is cut in half and filled with a vanilla flavoured whipped cream. Decadent – yes. Worth it – definitely.

Buzz buzz

And there you have it. Here’s hoping I get the order response I’m hoping for. Delicious food awaits!

Now that you’ve read all about the meals, why not order!?