Friday, June 27, 2008

Birthday Boy

Recently we celebrated Rex's 12th birthday. As it fell on a weekday the party was transferred to the Saturday following. Whenever there is a birthday in our extended family it means a family get together, which with kids and adults equates to 18 people. Usually we all bring something to spread the load and we never go hungry as the family cooking talent is excellent!!!! I decided though that I would cater dinner for everyone, I am on holiday from uni at the moment so it gave me an excuse to spend some quality time in the kitchen.
As Rex was having 5 of his friends over I tried to do something as middle of the road as possible. So I hit on doing a large amount of chilli con carne, serving it with nachos for the kids and with tortillas (and lots of different fillings) for the adults.
I used Nigella's recipe from
Feast: Food to Celebrate Life for the chilli, mixed together with Jamie's recipe from Happy Days with the Naked Chef. I liked Jamie's addition of sundried tomatoes and cinnamon sticks, so that was the variation added to Nigella's recipe. I browned it all off first in a pan then whacked it all into 2 slow cookers (it was alot of chilli!) and set it going all day - it tasted excellent with the slow cooking. It gets such a great result doing it that way, plus it is so stress free!
The whole meal was pretty stress free as so much could be prepared in advance. I simply melted some cheese over the nachos, and the kids just added their own chilli, guacamole and sour cream. They all seemed to enjoy it too. Result!
For the adults I made Nigella's 'Roqamole' as a dip to go with drinks - I was a little dubious about the idea of blue cheese with avocado, but it is divine, you should try it!!!For the tortillas I had (along with the chilli) grated cheese, sliced tomato, lettuce, grated carrot, sour cream, guacamole and blackbean salsa which I had made before and altered a little this time by adding some spring onions, lime juice, chopped coriander and about 1/2 c of whole kernel corn. It was a very tasty addition and looks gorgeous too!For dessert we went with a request from Rex for a Chocolate Feijoa Cake. I made two cakes the day before - this cake keeps really well- and iced it on the day. It was gorgeous as always! I used frozen feijoas that I had spirited away when they were plentiful, the flavour was as good as fresh.As there was plenty of chilli, I put a good quantity in the freezer for a quick and easy meal another day. We also had in on toast for breakfast the next morning- it tastes even nicer the next day! Roqamole (from Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast)

¼ cup sour cream
1 cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
¼ cup sliced pickled green jalapenos (from a jar)

2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
¼ teaspoon paprika
Blue-corn tortilla chips

Crumble or mash blue cheese with sour cream in bowl. Mash in ripe avocados with fork. Roughly chop sliced jalapenos and stir into mixture along with finely sliced scallions. Dust with paprika.

Serve in bowl, surrounded by tortilla chips on plate. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chili: (from Feast: Food to Celebrate Life)

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried or crushed chili flakes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 cardamom pods, bruised
2 red peppers, seeded and finely diced
3 pounds 4 ounces ground beef
7 cups canned chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans
I added 2 whole cinammon sticks and 1/2 finely chopped sundried tomatoes

Heat the oil in a very large pan and fry the onion and garlic until it begins to soften. Add the chili, coriander, cumin, and crushed cardamom pods and stir well.

Add the peppers then break up the ground beef into the pan and, using a fork, keep turning it to separate it as the meat browns. Add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, tomato puree, and water stirring to make a rich red sauce. When the chili starts to boil sprinkle over the cocoa and stir it in. Add the beans and simmer partially covered for 1 1/2 hours. At this point you can cool and freeze the chili, or just keep it in the refrigerator overnight.


hungryandfrozen said...

Sounds like quite the feast :) That chilli is such a great recipe.

grace said...

i just wanted to tell you that this is pretty much what i'd like as my birthday feast next year. i love it all--nicely done! :)

JillyB said...

Wow! What a birthday feast. well done.