Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beef & Potato Curry Puffs

Curry puffs are easily available in Malaysia and Singapore, but not so common in Australia when I was growing up, so we always looked forward to my mum's homemade version, which she would make using puff pastry (rather than the traditional flour pastry which is deep fried). My sister and I would help her measure and cut out the pieces of puff pastry, then fill it with a spicy mince beef and potato filling. Although I do like the more traditional curry puff pastry, if I make it myself, I will use ready-rolled puff pastry like my mother did - it's easier to make as it is is baked rather than deep fried.

If you don't want your curry puffs so spicy, just reduce the amount of chilli and curry powder, or you can omit it altogether and just make a non-spicy beef and potato puff, if you like. For a vegetarian version, omit the beef.

Continue reading for the recipe...

Beef & Potato Curry Puffs
(makes around 72 small triangular curry puffs)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
olive oil (or other cooking oil)
600g lean mince beef
3 large potatoes (or 4-5 medium potatoes)
curry powder
chilli powder (or cayenne powder)
salt and pepper
9 sheets frozen ready rolled puff pastry (1.5kg puff pastry)
1 egg, beaten
(chilli oil and chilli flakes - optional)
1. Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes. Cook the potatoes until soft, either in boiling water, or in the microwave.

2. In a medium sized saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp oil and lightly fry the onions until soft. Add the mince beef and stir well until cooked. Begin to season the meat by adding 1-2 Tbsp of curry powder and a good shake of chilli powder (or cayenne powder). Stir well.

3. Over low heat, add the cooked potatoes to the meat, and mix well. It is fine if the potato cubes get a little mashed. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Taste the beef and potato filling, then add more curry powder and chilli powder if you wish. I like my curry puffs very spicy, so I go a bit wild with the curry and chilli here. I also add some chilli oil and chilli flakes at this stage for added spice. The filling should be a little on the salty side, as the flavour will dissipate once it's wrapped in the pastry. Set the filling aside to cool.

5. If you are using frozen ready rolled puff pastry, separate and defrost the square sheets of pastry. Cut the pastry into small squares or triangles. You may use a knife to do this, but I find it is easier to cut the pastry using a clean pair of kitchen scissors. Cut the large square of pastry into half, then half again to form 4 squares. Then cut each square into half diagonally to form 2 triangles. You will then have 8 triangles of pastry. 

If you want to make larger puffs, or square puffs, just cut the pastry accordingly. (If you live in a hot environment, keep the remainder of the pastry in the fridge/freezer until you are ready to use it, or the pastry will soften and will be hard to handle)

6. Line a baking tray with some foil, and lightly grease the foil with some cooking oil. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. 

7. Take a piece of the cut pastry in one hand, and add a heaped teaspoon (or more) of cooled curry puff filling. Fold the pastry over in half and squeeze the edges together to seal the filling inside. I like to squeeze together one edge of the pastry first to form a little "cup", add the filling, then seal the remaining edge. Place the curry puff on the lined baking tray. 
(Making up the curry puffs whilst watching TV helps pass time more quickly.)

8. Crack an egg into a small bowl and beat it. Brush a little beaten egg on top of the curry puffs, then bake them in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and place on a wire rack until cooled. Continue baking the rest of the curry puffs in batches.

Keep them covered in the fridge, or pack them into airtight freezer bags and freeze them. Reheat them in the oven before serving.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Paprika Chicken & Avocado Sandwich

chicken sandwich
This is one of my favourite sandwiches. It's great in a bento lunch, easy to make, and healthy, too. The chicken tenderloin is marinated with a little soya sauce and paprika, then grilled. I use my George Foreman grill for this, but you can also panfry it if you prefer. The meat is then shredded, and added to a multi grain nut bread, along with slices of avocado and tomato. I find the nuttiness of the bread matches very well with the buttery avocado and paprika chicken. There is no need to butter the bread as the avocado already provides the sandwich with a moist buttery taste.

Accompany the sandwich with some raw carrot sticks and hummus dip.

Tip: When packing sandwiches in your bento lunch, a handy way to keep the sandwich together and your hands clean when eating it is to wrap the sandwich with baking paper/parchment paper. Then cut the wrapped sandwich in half, paper and all, with a sharp knife (a serrated bread knife works well). 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Noodle & Dumpling Bento

noodle bento
I find I'm always short on groceries (and time) Sunday night, so making bento for Monday usually involves rummaging around in the freezer. Today's lunch for YH is a simple combination of thin udon noodles mixed with sesame oil, soya sauce and oyster sauce, dumplings (from the freezer) and some baby spinach (wilted slightly with a little sesame oil and sesame seeds). A little red container of chilli sauce brightens up both the bento and the taste of the noodles. 

The best part about this lunch is that everything can be cooked in one small saucepan, which saves time and washing up. The water for boiling the frozen dumplings can also be used to cook the noodles, and the cooked noodles can be mixed with the sauces in the pot. Later, the spinach can be wilted slightly in the same saucepan as well.