Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Planning: Kumara Rosti, Fried Haloumi, and Garlic Greens

I've started menu planning. Or should I say, I've started menu planning again, as I was planning weekly a few months ago. Everything stops when I get stressed or busy, and plans go unmade or out the kitchen window.

This time, I've decided to try a monthly menu plan following a vague set pattern based on the carb component of the meal, which currently looks something like this:

Mon - Pasta/Noodles
Tues - Rice/Quinoa
Wed - Tortilla/Taco/Nachos
Thurs - Eat out
Fri - Pizza
Sat - Potato/Kumara
Sun - ??? + Baking

At the start of each month, I'll sit down and map out ideas for how to serve these things in a slightly different way each week, and at the start of each week I'll figure out the specifics of what dishes or recipes to make, and what veggies I need to pick up at the markets for the week. Well, that's the plan. I've cooked like this for one week so far, and have planned for the next! Obviously, flexibility for other activities or anticipated laziness is required. I can just shift a meal left or right a day. We don't eat out every week, and Sunday is also free to pick up any extra meals I couldn't be bothered making throughout the week.

Last week, my most adventurous dish was Kumara Rosti with Fried Haloumi and Garlic Greens. All of these were new to me: The greens and the haloumi were self evident, but I consulted a potato rosti recipe that I'd had my eye on for some time (in one of my favourite cookbooks: Vegie Food). Essentially - I substituted kumara for the potato without thinking about it, but that didn't seem to work. Perhaps it was a difference in sugar or water content of kumara compared to potato, perhaps it was equipment, luck, or let's face it, talent (or lack thereof), but what I got was not rosti. It was more like kumara mash or scramble. It tasted fantastic, but rosti it was not.

I bought these greens from the markets, not knowing what they were:

What are these greens?
Mystery Greens
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I asked the seller what it was, and he just said "it's like bok choi", which was only vaguely helpful.

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Kumara and onion
Rosti ingredients all together
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The rosti was supposed to cook for 8 minutes on a medium to low heat, until golden and crispy. After that time, nothing seemed to be happening. After a second 8 minutes on an even higher heat, the kumara seemed to be steaming. Another 8 minutes, at an even higher temperature, and still little had changed. Eight more minutes (a total of 32 minutes), and it seemed to finally be browning slightly at the edges. It turns out, though, that this may have been a problem of heat distribution:

Rosti Fail
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I also had a bit of trouble estimating the amount of greens required:

Too many greens
Overfilled wok
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Luckily, this all reduced down to a manageable amount after flipping it around with tongs for a while. Time to fry the haloumi:

Frying Haloumi
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In the end I got there, and served up the rosti, haloumi, and greens:

Kumara 'rosti' with fried haloumi and garlic greens
Dinner, served!
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Anyway, at the end of this journey, I can give you some recipes!

Kumara Scramble:

800g kumara, peeled
Finely chopped onion
Fresh or dried herbs (eg. parsley, mixed herbs)
Butter and/or olive oil - a generous amount for frying.

If your kumara are large (mine was a single one weighing 800g!), cut into potato-sized pieces. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until they start to soften. Once at a manageable temperature, grate the kumara, and mix with the onion and herbs. Season. Heat butter and/or olive oil in a non-stick frypan. Fry the kumera on a medium-high heat until fully cooked and browned in places. You may either attempt to make small rosti, or just mix it all up and treat as a scramble.

Garlic greens:

Mix of favourite greens - I used bok choi, broccolini, and some random pale green vegetable.
Huge spoon of garlic - as much as you dare
olive (or other) oil. (I also used some butter - but I think it would have been better without)

Heat oil in a wok and cook garlic for a short time until starting to brown. Add greens and fry until cooked. Don't be like me and assume that all greens cook in no time, or they will be tough and unpleasant. Cook your greens properly!

Serve with your choice of protein, for example fried haloumi OR baked tofu (such as this yummy herbed lemon tofu).

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