Corn fritters w/ chipotle mayo

We’ve been in our new place for about 2 months now, so naturally it was time for a housewarming. Given that my housemate had told all her friends that I was a great cook, I felt the pressure to live up to that reputation by cooking some amazing food for the event.

We planned the menu together, emailing back and forth while at work and chatting once we were home. We had a few dietary restrictions to work around, including vegetarians, gluten-frees, and lactose-frees, but eventually settled on a menu that would give everyone at least a few things to choose from.

As we didn’t want to spend days in the kitchen, we chose what I thought were a few simple easy, throw-together-at-the-last-minute recipes. Initially my idea had been just to make up slices of baguette with various toppings as people arrived, but it didn’t cater for the gluten-frees, and my housemate worried it wouldn’t be enough. So in addition to these, we supplemented out menu with lamb pies (made ahead and reheated when people arrived), corn chips topped with beef mole and chipotle mayo (gluten and lactose free), mini bagels with smoked salmon (vegetarian), polenta chips with aioli (vegetarian, gluten and lactose free), corn fritters topped with more chipotle mayo (vegetarian, gluten and lactose free), proscuitto & melon bites (gluten and lactose free) and cherry tomato & bocconcini bites (vegetarian and gluten free).

The aim was to prepare everything ahead, leisurely throwing together a plate or two as people arrived. But that wasn’t to be. As the first guests arrived, I was in the kitchen frying polenta chips, a task you really can’t walk away from. So to avoid yelling to your guests on the couch from the kitchen as I was, I suggest frying them ahead of time and reheat them.

As more and more people arrived, the kitchen got crowded and chaotic, so getting food out became near impossible. People were everywhere, blocking my benches and my pathway to the fridge. Thankfully, Bf-B helped me out so I did manage to get some things out, but not all.

The chaos also meant I didn’t get a chance to take photos of all the food properly, so my apologies! Saddest of all, I didn’t get a chance to photograph the pies, which were a big hit (guys especially love these). My housemate originally wanted to ‘just buy them’ but if you know me, you know I couldn’t possibly do that. So I made them up the night before, reheating them in the oven for about 20 minutes or so. Super easy. And when you tell people you have made them yourself, super impressive.

My bruchetta was a good idea in theory, topping slices of baguette with various toppings as people arrived, but became near impossible with a crowded kitchen. So to be honest, I didn’t get all my toppings made up. I’ve given you the recipes I had planned though.

Pumpkin & ricotta, chorizo & olive tapanade, and brie and fig bruchetta

My family loved the mini bagels. Anything in miniature form is always a good idea for finger food, as it has the added ‘awww’ factor. Just be sure not to overcook your bagels, or they will come out like little rocks. Put them in a hot oven for a short amount of time till they’re just golden and you’re fine. I think you could probably prepare a plate of these ahead of time, as the dense bread shouldn’t go soggy very quickly.

The corn chips topped with beef mole were also a big hit with the boys. I made these especially for Bf-B who is a huge fan of slow-cooked beef and anything Mexican. They are a great idea for a gluten-free finger food.

Corn chips topped w/ beef mole & chipotle mayo

The polenta chips, while fiddly and potentially dangerous what with hot oil around a big group of people, were delicious. They are a great alternative to regular chips, and have far more flavour.

My dad loved the corn fritters, and kept asking me to make up more. They come out a little tougher than regular fritters as they are made with corn flour, so I recommend substituting regular flour if you don’t have food allergies. Gluten-free flour would also be a good substitute, although I didn’t want to pay for a whole bag when I only needed half a cup!

I put Bf-B to work putting together the prosciutto & melon and the bocconcini & tomato bites. These are soo simple, and again, a very nice gluten-free alternative.

Prosciutto & melon and cherry tomato & bocconcini bites

So while it may not have gone exactly to plan, I was pretty pleased with how all the food turned out. You may have noticed I didn’t make anything sweet – that’s because when people asked what they could bring, I asked them to bring something sweet as it tends to be easier than the savoury stuff.

All in all it was a great day. I think we had 50 or so people through our little 1930’s art deco apartment, making for a very warm housewarming indeed.


Legend: (v) vegetarian  (g) gluten-free  (l) lactose-free


LAMB PARTY PIES

2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp extra
1kg diced lamb, cut into 2cm pieces
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
8 sheets frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, partially thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt & pepper

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large saute pan. Add lamb and cook until sealed on all sides. Remove from pan nd set aside.
  2. Add onion and carrot to the same pan with 1 tbsp olive oil and cook until translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and flour and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes to take the rawness out of the garlic.
  3. Return lamb to the pan with tomato paste, red wine and beef stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until meat is falling apart. The mix should reduce and form a gravy, but keep an eye on the water levels early on to stop it burning. The mix should be thick but still a little runny.
  4. Shred meat using two forks and check for seasoning. Allow mixture to cool completely or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 180C.
  6. Cut 20 x 11cm circles from pastry, and line 20 muffin tins. Fill 3/4 of the way up with the cold meat mix.
  7. Cut 20 x 8cm smaller rounds for the lids. Brush egg mix around edges of the pies, and top with lids. Using a fork, crimp the edges shut. Use a sharp knife to make a small slit in the top to allow the air to escape and prevent your pies bursting open.
  8. Place pies in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
  9. Serve warm with tomato sauce.

Makes 20


BRUCHETTA W/ MIXED TOPPINGS
Makes approx. 15-20 of each, depending on the size of your baguette.
You will probably need about 3-4 large baguettes to make all the toppings,
and about 1/2 a large baguette per topping.

SMASHED PEA, FETA & DILL (v)
250g frozen peas, blanched in salted water, drained
100g danish feta
3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

  1. In a food processor, process peas until well chopped but still lumpy.
  2. Transfer peas to a bowl. Crumble in feta, add dill and olive oil, and stir until just combined. Check for seasoning.
  3. To serve, spoon a little of the mixture onto slices of fresh baguette.

PUMPKIN & RICOTTA (v)
500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded

2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
  3. Dice pumpkin into 2cm cubes. Transfer to the lined baking tray and sprinkle with cumin and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well.
  4. Cover pumpkin with more aluminim foil to prevent browning and place in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes until very tender.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and mash pumpkin with a fork. Allow to cool.
  6. To serve, spoon a little pumpkin onto each baguette slice and crumble over a little ricotta.

FIG & BRIE (v)
250g brie cheese
6 fresh figs

  1. Slice figs into 3mm thick slices, removing stem.
  2. Slice brie into similar sized pieces.
  3. To serve, top each slice of baguette with a little brie and top with fig slices.

TAHINI-FREE HUMMUS (v) (l)
420g can chic peas, rinsed and drained well
2 tsp ground cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp sesame oil (leave out if allergic)
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
salt & pepper
chopped flat leaf parsley and paprika to serve

  1. In a food processor, combine chic peas, cumin, garlic, sesame oil, lemon juice, olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Process until well chopped, but still chunky. Check seasoning.
  2. To serve, top each slice of baguette with a little hummus. Sprinkle over some fresh parsley, a little paprika and drizzle with a little olive oil.

HAM & CARAMELISED ONION JAM (v) (l)
300g shaved ham off the bone
200g jar caramelised onion relish (or other relish of your choice)

  1. Top each slice of baguette with a little ham, and a dollop of relish.

TOMATO & BASIL (v) (l)
4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
balsamic glaze*
1 bunch fresh basil

  1. Top each baguette slice with a few slices of tomato. Drizzle over a little balsamic glaze and tear over some fresh basil.

*Balsamic glaze is balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a thick syrup. It is available from most supermarkets. If unavailable, make your own by reducing 1 cup of balsamic vinegar until thick and syrupy.

CHORIZO & OLIVE TAPANADE (l)
3 (400g) chorizo, sliced into 3-5mm slices
200g pitted olives (in balsamic if available)
2 anchovies
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil

  1. In a dry frying pan, fry chorizo until crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  2. Finely dice the olives, anchovies, and capers. You want it fairly fine as otherwise the mixture tends to falls off the bruchetta when eating. Mix together in a bowl with lemon juice and olive oil. Alternatively, use a food processor.
  3. To serve, top each baguette slice with chorizo slices and a dollop of olive tapanade.

CORN CHIPS W/ BEEF MOLE & CHIPOTLE MAYO (g) (l)

1kg diced beef
olive oil
1L beef stock
100g/half jar mole sauce*
500g bag round corn chips
fresh coriander to serve

CHIPOTLE MAYO
220g can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce*
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil

  1. In a cassarole dish, brown beef in a little oil. Remove and set aside.
  2. Add beef stock to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the mole sauce and whisk until there are no lumps (the sauce is quite hard, like a concentrated stock). Return beef to pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 2-3 hours until meat is falling apart, keeping an eye on the water levels and topping up as need be. Once cooked, shred meat using two forks.
  3. FOR THE CHIPOTLE MAYO: Process the chipotle chillies in a food processor until smooth. Remove from processor and set aside. In same food processor (don’t worry about cleaning it) process egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and salt. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil until you have a thick aioli. Add chillies, a little at a time according to taste, and process to combine.
  4. To serve, top corn chips with some beef mole (hot or cold), a dollop of chipotle mayo, and a few coriander leaves.

*Mole sauce and chipotle chillis are available from Mexican delis. I got mine from Casa Iberica, 25 Johnston Street Fitzroy VIC. There is also a second store in Yarraville, 24 Hughes Street, Yarraville VIC.

Makes 50


MINI BAGELS W/ SMOKED SALMON (v)

500g white flour
2 tsp salt
330ml lukewarm water
2 tsp olive oil
pinch of sugar
2 x 7g dry yeast sachets
1 egg, whisked with a fork
poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)
220g tub cream cheese
200g smoked salmon

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in water and olive oil. Sprinkle sugar and yeast into the water and leave to sit for 5-10 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
  2. Using your hands or a mixer, knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add a little more water or flour depending if your mix is too wet or dry – it should hold together nicely as a ball without sticking to the bench. Return dough to bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and allow to prove for 60-90 minutes in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
  3. Preheat oven to 200C. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
  4. Punch down the dough, and divide in half. You will need to cook the bagels in two batches to prevent them drying out.
  5. Working with half the dough at a time, form into 20 little balls. Then, using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a hole through the center. You will need to make the hole slightly larger than you think you ought to, as the dough will swell up when cooked. Cover formed bagels with a damp tea towel as you work to prevent them drying out.
  6. Reduce water to a simmer, and add the first half of the bagels. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes until they rise to the surface. Then with a slotted spoon, remove bagels and transfer to a baking tray. Reserve water.
  7. Brush bagels with a little egg and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if you wish. Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden.
  8. Repeat from step 5 for remaining half of the dough.
  9. Allow bagels to cool before spreading with cream cheese and filling with a little smoked salmon.

Makes 40


POLENTA FRIES W/ AIOLI (v) (g) (l)

Olive oil, to grease
2L (8 cups) vegetable stock
1 x 500g pkt instant polenta (cornmeal)
70g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan
Vegetable oil, to deep-fry
1 tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper

AIOLI
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil

  1. Brush two 22cm x 30cm x 3cm deep trays with olive oil.
  2. Bring vegetable stock to the boil in a large cassarole dish. Gradually pour in polenta, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Reduce heat and stir with a wooden spoon until polenta is thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir through the parmesan.
  3. Pour polenta evenly between the two pans. Allow to cool before covering and placing in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight to set.
  4. Once set, turn polenta out onto a clean board and cut into chips about 1-2cm wide.
  5. Heat enough oil in a large saute pan to reach a depth of 6cm. Heat oil to 180C, or test with a cube of bread (when ready the bread will brown in about 15 seconds). Working in batches fry polenta chips until golden, about 5 minutes. Keep warm in the oven while you repeat the process.
  6. To serve, sprinkle chips with rosemary and salt, and serve with aioli*.
  7. AIOLI: In a food processor, process eggs, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and salt until well combined. With the motor running, gradually add oil until aioli is thick.

*If catering for a crowd, to make things easy I’d prepare up to and including step 5, and reheat the chips in the oven.

Serves 4


CORN FRITTERS W/ CHIPOTLE MAYO (v) (g) (l)

3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 x 420g tins corn kernels, 1/2 cup reserved
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup (40g) corn flour (use plain flour if not gluten intolerant)
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 cup (60ml) milk
salt & pepper
oil for frying
fresh coriander to serve

CHIPOTLE MAYO
220g can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce*
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil

  1. In a bowl, combine spring onions, corn kernels, eggs, corn flour, baking powder and milk and season with salt and pepper. Using a stick blender, blend until you have a thick, lumpy mixture. Stir through reserved corn.
  2. Heat a little oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Add tablespoons of the corn batter and fry either side until golden and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
  3. FOR THE CHIPOTLE MAYO: Process the chipotle chillies in a food processor until smooth. Remove from processor and set aside. In same food processor (don’t worry about cleaning it) process egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and salt. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil until you have a thick aioli. Add chillies, a little at a time according to taste, and process to combine.
  4. To serve, top each corn fritter with a dollop of chipotle mayo, and a few coriander leaves.

*Chipotle chillis are available from Mexican delis. I got mine from Casa Iberica, 25 Johnston Street Fitzroy VIC. There is also a second store in Yarraville, 24 Hughes Street, Yarraville VIC.

Makes 40


PROSCIUTTO & MELON BITES (g) (l)

10 slices of good prosciutto
1/2 a cantaloupe
20 toothpicks

  1. Using a spoon, scoop seeds from cantaloupe and discard. Then, using a melon baller, scoop 20 balls of melon. Set aside.
  2. Cut each slice of prosciutto in half.
  3. Scrunch prosciutto into balls and thread onto toothpicks. Add a ball of cantaloupe to finish.

Makes 20


BOCCONCINI & CHERRY TOMATO BITES (v) (g)

20 cherry or grape tomatoes
20 marinated bocconcini
20 toothpicks

  1. Thread a cherry tomato and a ball of bocconcini onto each toothpick.

Makes 20