Thursday, 6 March 2014

Copycat cook: Crispy pumpkin and quinoa croquettes

When I was debating what to call this blog alternative titles included 'the unintuative cook' and 'the copycat cook', why?  Because as much as I love food and cooking I need a recipe.  I'm a bit anal like that.  I read the recipe through at the beginning and I re-read at each step, usually a couple of times.  I like the security of a recipe - if I follow these steps it will work out and I won't waste the ingredients.  The creative side of my brain is mostly overruled by logic and rules.  So that means I have favourite recipes I could probably cook from memory but I usually still have a sneaky look at the recipe, just to be sure!  So this blog won't have as many original recipes, rather it will have mostly recipes I have modified to make healthier and these copycat recipe challenges. 

I'll pick a recipe and cook it trying to recreate the image in the book/website etc.  I'll rate it for ease of use, ingredients, taste etc and post a side by side picture comparison.  I'll rate it out of five on the 'Nailed it' spectrum and give you my overall thoughts on the recipe. 

First up we have 'Crispy pumpkin and quinoa croquettes' from the December issue of the magazine.

Serves:  It easily makes 12 croquettes and so I agree it serves four as a main meal if you served more salad with it.  I served it as a side dish to fish and steamed veges and you easily get 6 serves.

Prep & cooking:  It took me less than the stated 50 minutes as I had quinoa I had pre-cooked and stored in the freezer.  I also cooked the potato and pumpkin in the microwave for 8-10 minutes and then cooled it in the freezer.  It only needs to be cool enough to handle to roll the croquettes.  Edit:  I cooked these again as a starter at a dinner party and I followed the recipe's directions for cooking the quinoa, but at the end I had to add more water and cook it for longer.  So I'd recommend you use the usual quinoa guidelines: 1 part quinao to 1.5-2 parts liquid, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cover and cook for 12-15 minutes and then let sit with cover on for further 5 mins.

Ingredient list:  This was what drew me to this recipe - an ingredient list of staples I have in my cupboard/fridge. I though it was a good chance to get hubby and MJ to eat quinoa - hubby doesn't love it...yet!

Ease of use:  Easy to follow and straight forward.  I like that you can cook the quinoa as part of the dish and not seperatley like most recipes.

Substitutions:  I used sultanas instead of currents and olive oil instead of grape seed oil.  I don't do coriander.

Taste:  Loved it, crispy and hot on the outside, good texture and melted cheese on the inside.  But what doens't taste good when panko crumbed and shallow fried?!?  Hubby and I went back for seconds and I ate the leftovers the next day.

Toddler rating:  Approved - eaten quickly and easily

Would I cook it again: Yes, but I'd probably add some more veges to the quinoa mix, spinach, peas or corn and maybe sub potato for sweet potato.  This is not a quick weeknight meal if you serve it as a side like I did, but when I'm feeling generous I'd cook it again mid week. I'd maybe try a baked version for a healthier option.

Overall rating:  Pretty much nailed it

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
470g Golden Delight potatoes,
peeled and chopped
250g butternut pumpkin,
peeled and chopped
1/2 cup plain flour, plus 2 tbs extra
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly whisked
75g reduced-fat fetta, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped,
plus extra, to serve
Grapeseed oil, to shallow fry
Tomato relish, lemon wedges and salad leaves, to serve

Heat oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add onon, garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until soft. Stir in currants for 1 minute. Stir in quinoa and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 14 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Set aside to cool.
Boil potatoes and pumpkin in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 15-17 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Return to the pan and cook, shaking the pan, over low heat for 1 minute until excess water evaporates. Mash. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Place the flour and panko breadcrumbs on separate plates. Place eggs in a shallow bowl.
Combine quinoa mixture, pumpkin mixture, fetta, coriander and extra flour in a bowl. Season well and shape into 12 croquettes of 10-12cm in length. Dip in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Transfer to a lined tray.
Add enough oil to a frying pan so it reaches 2cm up the sides. Heat over medium-low heat. Cook croquettes in 3 batches, turning regularly, for 4 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Serve croquettes with relish, lemon wedges, coriander leaves and salad.

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