Monday, 29 April 2013

Week 13- Lucky for Some!

The number 13 should hold no special fear for me- I spent my teenage years living at number 13 and, by and large they were OK times.

I was successful in my exams, had some fun and made lifelong friends (some of whom read this blog regularly- hi guys!)

But there are always a lot of superstitions around food- and I thought I might explore the idea for this week's blog.

Which foods are considered particularly lucky, I wondered?

Well, take your pick from this list:
 green vegetables (supposed to resemble folding money like dollar bills), 
beans and lentils ( which look like coins), 
grapes and pomegranates (jewel-like fruits)
pork ( because pigs are round and forage optimistically..stretching things a bit thin here, I think!)
noodles ( eaten whole -not cut- to symbolize long life)
fish (silver scales represent money again)
cornbread (gold bars)

So, I've planned this week's menu around many of these ingredients: chicken noodle soup, followed by steamed cabbage parcels with pork filling and dipping sauces (veggie version using lentils and butter beans), and mulled wine jelly with frosted grapes and pomegranate ice.

Chicken noodle soup
For the noodle soup, I used chicken stock made in the slow cooker from a chicken carcass- but you can use  stock cubes or those little Knorr stock pots are good too. Add a tablespoon of miso paste to the hot stock and a dash of soy sauce. Cook a disc of wholewheat or soba noodles in boiling water for two minutes until tender and then drain and refresh with cold water to prevent them clumping together. Add 1 cup of shredded cooked chicken (mine came off the carcass once stripped down), 1 cup of baby spinach leaves and 1 chopped spring onion to the hot stock. Put the noodles in the bottom of each serving bowl and pour over the hot stock. Remember to slurp your noodles without cutting them to preserve your long life!
Two of my younger diners slurping it up!

The steamed cabbage parcels require: 3 Savoy cabbage leaves per person, 300 grams of pork mince (or 1 tin each of lentils and butter beans for the veggie version), 2 spring onions, minced garlic clove, a dash of chilli sauce, 1 cup soft breadcrumbs and 1 beaten egg.
Finely chop the spring onions (or pulse them with two slices of bread in the food processor to make your breadcrumbs at the same time.) Add them along with the seasoning and beaten egg to your pork mince (or crushed beans and lentils). You might want to add extra garlic or chili to the veggie version. Mix together well and form into (meat)balls using wet hands.
Fry in hot vegetable oil until brown all over- but not necessarily cooked through- as they are going to steam in a minute.

Ready to rock..
....and roll
Take your cabbage leaves and blanch them for 2 minutes in boiling water. Lay them out on a tea towel and cut out the coarse rib from the centre, then place a meatball on each one. Roll up into parcels and place in the steamer.
Steam over simmering water for about 10-15 minutes and then serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and dipping sauces (ginger, chilli and soy in this case.)

Asian Pork parcels
For dessert, I made a mulled wine jelly by boiling half a pint (250 ml) of red wine (the leftovers from a bottle) and adding some warming spices (ginger, cinnamon or mixed spice according to your taste or store cupboard) and some vanilla sugar. Once up to the boil, I added it to a sachet of blackcurrant jelly crystals (or you could use gelatine leaves) and made it up to 1 pint (500 ml) with cold water. You could add grape juice if using gelatine.
I poured it into moulds (old fashioned wine glasses in this case) and set it in the fridge overnight. I served it with frosted grapes.(Very grown up, was the tasting panel's verdict!)

Mulled Wine Jelly

I also made a pomegranate ice (pictured here) to go with it, but it was very disappointing. It tasted watery and more like a granita than a sorbet with lots of ice crystals - so I think I need to refine that recipe before I share it with you.

Pretty in pink- but not very nice!

The meal yielded loads of food- leftover soup for my lunch, a chili and sesame dressed noodle salad also for lunchboxes and enough pork meatballs for another dish another day :
Spaghetti meatballs

Lunches galore

There's also plenty of  jelly -mmmm.

So, fuelled with all this lucky food , it's probably a good week to buy premium bonds or lottery tickets.

Let me know if it pays off for you!
No rabbits were harmed in this week's blog- all feet intact

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