There is something to be said about the impact television cooking competitions have on our everyday lives. A dear friend of mine will often talk of her 6 year old son’s approach to meals – he would taste and rate each element put in front of hims and then comment that overall the dish presented to him was ‘well balanced’. Another example of the Masterchef influence was when my 10 year old cousin returned from the buffet table with his food plated up (photo below)!
This movement towards everyone being a foodie has even spilled into my everyday life with Ms TT deciding to rate the food I dish up for her. She does have a caveat: I will never recieve 10/10 as there will always be ‘room for improvement’… Though this really doesn’t impact my experimental approach to food, it does make for interesting moments when my failed experiments result in some schlop on a plate (which occurs more frequently than not). How do you rate something that tastes good but looks really bad?
Case and point were some pork, leek and corn ‘pies’ which I attempted to make the other night. Don’t get me wrong, these tasted great, but unfortunately didn’t turn out quite as planned… I was never more thankful for ramekins…Okay the story is that I had the fabulous idea of using thin slices of eggplant as a ‘pastry’ base for a pie in my new healthier approach to cooking. I figured if I lined a muffin tin with the eggplant, filled it, and then baked it the shape would miraculously remain pie-like. Unfortunately, when extracting the loosely-termed pies, they fell apart… Perhaps if I had pre-baked the eggplant (like one blind bakes a pastry case) it may (?) have held up better. Luckly, my trusty ramekins were at hand and it was just a matter of transporting the ‘pie’ from the tray to the ramekin and serving it like that. I’m claiming this as a work in progress… maybe next time I will just layer the eggplant and mince (like a lasagne) in the ramekins. Ultimately, despite the ineffective ‘pastry’ case, these were given an 8/10 — a good rating (I think)… well, I’ve been told that I am more than welcome to make them again!
Pork, leek and eggplant pies with corn and rosemary (Serves 4)
500g Pork mince
1/2 ear corn, kernnels removed from the cob
1 leek, sliced
3 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 medium eggplant, thinkly sliced
1 apple, sliced into semicircle-like pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
30 ml Lee Kum Kee Chinese chicken marinade
1. Preheat oven to 280 degrees celcius. Marinate the pork in the Chinese marinade.
2. Heat oil in a saute pan (I spray the pan with canola oil) on high, add the leek and corn cook for about 5 mins, stirring every now and then. Place the lid on the pan and allow to cook. If the pan is a bit dry and the leeks begin to burn, add some water to the pan and replace the lid. Once cooked, pour into a clean bowl.
3. Add/ spray more oil into the plan, once it is heated, add the mince. Once the meat is almost done add the leek mix and the rosemary. If the mixture is dry, add some water, then cook.
4. Disolve the cornflour in a small amount of water. Pour into the pan, stirring continuously. Allow to thicken (so that you have a thick gravy – you may need to add more water to get the consistency right). You want a very thick gravy.
5. Line a greased muffin tin (or ramekins) with thin slices of eggplant. Pour the pork mixture into the ‘cases’. Top with the apple slices.
6. Bake for 20-30 minutes – keep an eye on it to ensure the apples do not burn…