Courgette & Sweet Potato Basket
Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers!
This challenge really stretched my creativity! I spent weeks pondering on how I was going to tackle this challenge. I didn’t make the suggested recipes – pumpkin bowl filled with shrimp, noodle basket and eggs in toast cups – recipes can be found below.
I made 2 types of containers – grain based (taco, bread & rice) and vegetable (leek, lettuce, courgette, aubergine & sweet potato). Here are my creations:
Salad filled taco bowln – fun but difficult to eat
Leek containers – easy to push out the centre core & fill with what you like
Rice bowl with vegetables – cold rice mixed with egg white & baked in the oven. I added black sesame seeds & nori.
Lettue Bowl filled with fried rice – a bit of a cop-out but brought back fond childhood memories
Bread bowl filled with vegetable curry – an extremely hearty meal for the hungry!
Baking the pumpkin: 45 min. approx. + 15 minutes cooling time (baking time will vary according to size and type of pumpkin)
Cleaning shrimp and boiling shrimp shells: approx. the same 45 minutes needed for baking the pumpkin, so you can do these two steps at the same time.
Cleaning and carving the pumpkin: about 15 minutes.
Preparing the cream: about 15 minutes total
Overall time: around 1hour and 30 minutes
About 30 minutes soaking, draining, and making baskets + 15 minutes baking time (for each batch)
Baking pan or dish
A medium sharp knife
Sauce pan (1 medium, 1 small)
Recipe Idea No. 1:
PUMPKIN BOWL FILLED WITH CREAMY SHRIMP
This recipe is very popular in Brazil and there are dozens of different ways to prepare it. This is one of them, it’s the way I make it at home, but feel free to give your pumpkin bowl any filling you want, from soups to stews. In Brazil, there are a few different types of pumpkins and the one that is mostly used for this dish is the so called “Moranga”. It is much bigger, the flesh has more water content and the taste is a little different. Since I’m in Korea right now, the only type I could find here was buttercup squash, which is smaller and sweeter, but resulted in a very yummy dish.
1 Buttercup Squash or Kabocha Squash or Japanese Pumpkin of approx. 850gm (28¼ oz) (a little under 2 lbs)
500 gm (17⅔ oz) (a little over 1 lb) of large shrimp (prawns) (whole)
3 tablespoon (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup less 2 tablespoons 200 gm (7 oz) cream cheese
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 gm) (0.15 oz) fresh parsley finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 gm) (0.15 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro) finely chopped (optional)
chilli pepper to taste (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C (350°F) (gas mark 4).
2. Wash the pumpkin, dry it well and wrap it in aluminum foil. Place it in a baking pan or ovenproof dish.
3. Bake for 25 minutes, turn it upside down and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft when inserting a toothpick.
4. Remove from the oven and let it cool down a little until warm.
5. While the pumpkin is baking, clean the shrimp. Remove heads, wash out the dirty stuff, devein them and remove the shells. Leave the shells on 6 shrimps (heads removed) for garnish.
6. Put the clean heads and shells in a small sauce pan. Add 1 ½ cups (360 ml) water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, covered. Drain over a bowl to save the stock formed. Set aside. Now you may discard the shells and heads.
7. Back to the pumpkin. Using a sharp knife, cut a lid on top of the pumpkin and remove it. Scrape off any seeds and guts.
8. Using a spoon, carve inside the pumpkin to remove seeds and guts. You don’t want to carve any flesh at this point.
9. After it is clean inside, carve the flesh, being careful to leave at least a ¼“ (6 mm) wall. The pumpkin is baked, so the flesh will be easy to carve out and the flesh will come out like a puree. Save this puree for later use. It yields about 1 cup (240 ml) puree.
10. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic and saute for a minute. Don’t let it brown. Add the chopped onions and saute until translucent. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes.
11. Add the reserved shrimp stock (about 1 cup (240 ml)) and the pumpkin puree. It should be a lightly creamy consistency. Adjust accordingly adding water or simmering a little longer. Add shrimp, cook for 1 minute.
12. Stir in cream cheese until melted and incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and add parsley and coriander (if using).
13. Arrange the pumpkin shell on a plate and pour the shrimp cream into it. You will probably have more cream than the pumpkin shell can hold, so you can reserve for later refilling the pumpkin shell. Garnish with the shrimp reserved (with their shells), previously steamed for 2 minutes.
14. Serve with a side of white rice.
Recipe Idea No. 2:
NOODLE BASKET FOR SALADS
Servings: 6 baskets
1 package ramen noodles (120gm) (4¼ oz)
boiling water (enough to completely cover the noodles)
1. Place the dry noodles in a baking dish.
2. Pour boiling water over noodles until completely immersed.
3. When noodles are soft and start separating (about 5 minutes), drain and rinse with cold water.
4. Drain again, and set it aside until it starts getting sticky.
5. Use olive oil to grease the outside of baking cups and arrange them upside down on parchment paper.
6. Arrange noodles as shown in the photos. The sticky noodles will help the strings stay together making it easier to form the basket. 3 or 4 strings across, 3 or 4 strings down, and some strings around the bowl. Push all the excess strings close to the cup to form a lip. Don’t overlap too many noodles, or they won’t get crispy.
7. Bake at 230°C (450°F) (gas mark 8) preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before trying to remove the noodle baskets from the cups.
9. Let cool completely.
10. Handle with care, the baskets are fragile!
11. You can make the baskets the day before using, they will keep fresh in an airtight container. On the third day it stars losing its crispiness.
12. Fill baskets with your favorite salad. If you’re using a dressing, serve it aside or mix it to your veggies just before serving.
Recipe Idea No. 3:
EGGS IN TOAST CUPS
Here are a few ideas for breakfast using slices of bread and eggs.
Slices of bread
Salt & pepper
Cheese, ham, bacon or whatever you would like to have with your eggs.
Example No. 1
Remove the crusts of the bread and press a slice in a buttered baking bowl.
Crack an egg inside. Alternatively, you may want to add a strip of precooked bacon or ham before adding the egg. Avoid using very large eggs, because if it leaks, it will probably stick to the bowl. If you look closely to the picture below you will notice that mine did leak. It got a little stuck on the edges, but I could manage to remove it without any damage, but it would’ve been much better if it didn’t happen ;o)
Bake at 180°C (350°F) (gas mark 4) until toast is golden brown and the egg is cooked to your desired doneness.
Example No. 2
Using a cookie cutter (here I used a flower shape), cut the slice of bread. Press the flower shaped bread into a muffin pan.
Bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 15 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Fill with scrambled eggs and serve.