Fine food fit for friends

SIMON HOLST
Last updated 07:50 14/08/2012

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This recipe was passed on to Alison by a friend who had spent time in the kitchen of a Malaysian family. Their two families would often share meals and this mixture proved to be popular with the whole group.

Serve the meat and kumara on a generous pile of rice, spooning on the sauce so it flavours the rice as well. Malaysian roti (or even Indian naan) make a good accompaniment too.

CHICKEN AND KUMARA CURRY

For 4 - 8 servings:

1 - 2kg chicken pieces or drumsticks

2 - 3 Tbsp oil

2 - 3 large onions, sliced

2 - 3 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

4 - 6 tsp curry powder

3 - 4 cups water

2 star anise 'stars'

1 cinnamon stick

10 cardamom pods (with seeds)

2 - 3 large kumara, in 2cm cubes

Use thawed or fresh chicken pieces or drumsticks. Pat dry.

Heat oil in a large pot or pan, add prepared onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until onions are fairly evenly browned. Stir in salt, sugar and curry powder and cook for a minute longer, stirring constantly. Add the prepared chicken then add water, using the smaller amount for a smaller amount of chicken.

Tie the remaining spices in a piece of loosely woven cloth, place in the liquid, cover and simmer for an hour for chicken pieces with bone, or for 20 - 30 minutes for skinless boneless pieces. Turn chicken pieces occasionally.

Add peeled, cubed kumara 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Serve chicken, kumara and liquid on rice, with green beans or a cucumber salad.

Variation: Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 1 hours in a roasting pan covered with a lid (or foil), adding kumara after 1 hour.

KIRSTEN'S CUSTARD SQUARES

We love custard squares and this is a version of a recipe Alison's daughter, Kirsten, once made for her in the place of a traditional birthday cake. There are several steps in the process but they are all very simple. The hardest part is waiting for the custard to cool so the square can be iced then eaten.

Base:

about 200g flaky pastry

Filling:

cup custard powder

cup brown sugar

2 cups milk

2 large eggs

tsp vanilla essence

Icing:

1 cup icing sugar

2 tsp soft butter

tsp vanilla essence

water or lemon juice to mix

Heat oven to 200'C (190'C fanbake), with the rack just below middle of the oven. Line the base and sides of a loose bottomed square 20cm (or 23cm) baking pan with baking paper.

To make the base: roll the pastry out thinly to make two squares each about 2cm bigger than the pan (they shrink a bit as they cook). Prick the pastry evenly all over. Place the two pastry squares on an oven slide and bake for 7 - 8 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Trim the cooked squares of pastry to fit the loose- bottomed baking pan. Place one square in it.

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For the filling: mix the custard powder and the brown sugar together in a heavy bottomed, medium-sized saucepan. Add the milk and stir until well combined but not foamy. Cook gently over a low heat until the custard thickens which will take 2 - 3 minutes. Next, whisk in the beaten (but not foamy) eggs, and the vanilla. Continue to heat, stirring all the time until the custard thickens, then pour it evenly over the pastry in the baking pan. Cover the hot custard with the other pastry layer immediately. Refrigerate until cold.

To make the icing: mix the icing sugar, butter and vanilla essence in a bowl. Stir in small amounts of warm water (or lemon juice) until you get icing of spreadable consistency. Ice the top layer of pastry and leave it to set.

Cut into 16 (or 9 larger) squares using a sharp knife. Serve straight from the refrigerator, with coffee or tea, or for dessert. Store squares which are not eaten on the day they are made, in the refrigerator, and eat within the next two days.

- Taranaki Daily News

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