basics

You are currently browsing the archive for the basics category.

free-range ham and home made rillettes

from l-r: rillettes, loaf of bread, spencers brook ham (glazed with marmalade)

Request for a recipe so I’d share it with you all/both. Rillettes is a rufty tufty pate that’s basically pork with pork fat and thus a simple pleasure to be enjoyed. It’s been well liked by young and old and the best use to date has been for breakfast on toast with a few bubbles.

It’s best made in bulk so you can either live off it for a couple of weeks or, for that christmas magic, share it around.

500g pork fat – you can use pork lard, I just carefully scraped the fat off a bit of pork skin for crackling (really it’s beautiful stuff – makes me think of soft serve ice-cream for some reason)
700g pork – shoulder, leg, loin … whatever really as long as it’s lean and meaty
500g pork belly – just trim the skin off and don’t worry about the bones.

Dice the meat into inch (roughly) pieces.

1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 cloves of garlic – peeled
1 stick of celery, 10 sage leaves, 3 twigs of thyme
white wine

Simmer the pork fat gently in enough water to cover and drain.
Add everything into a casserole dish and add a big glass of white wine. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and simmer at as low a flame as you can. A diffuser is handy. Stir occasionally.
At some stage I decided it as time for bed so I added a splash more wine, put the lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven overnight at 70C.

Allow the meat to cool, remove everything that is neither meat nor fat, and then break the meat and fat up into small pieces. Disposable gloves are handy for this. The meat, if you’ve cooked it long and slowly enough, should really just fall to bits and shreds. Season generously.

Now you can distribute it into jars or ramekins and seal the top with a little clarified butter. Allow to chill. Enjoy with good white bread and whatever drinks you have handy.

BONUS! Roast Char Sui Pork

Take a piece of pork, make some deep slashes on either side. Put it in a bowl with a cup of Char Sui sauce, several star anise, and a decent splash of Chinese rice wine. Leave for a couple of hours but just turn it over now and then to coat.
Place the meat on a rack over a tray with water in it. The steam keeps it moist and it stops the sugary sauce from burning in the tray. Cook at 150C for about an hour and a half to two hours or until the pork reaches 80C on the meat thermometer.
I’m sure it’d be great in soup but I just had it in nice big slices while enjoying beers with friends.

Do make sure you grab some fruit and veg at some stage.

Tags:

preserves

it’s lemons, it’s a pufferfish, it’s hitler’s head

I was a bit sad to find that the Flannery O’Connor facebook fan site’s nicely quoted punchline (“Joyce who?”) from her short story The Enduring Chill had been spoiled by a few holy joes trying to find the tale of redemption in it all – stamping on the funny in the process. You can only be lectured so long by a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, who believes that death, offering the hope of resurrection, is no bad thing and was once a paramedic. It’s not surprising, comedy and organised religion have never been equal partners. They fight over the same epistemological turf [sex, death, walking into bars] and in the end humour needs serious people more than serious people need humour. Eco covered this well in Name of the Rose, with the heretical book [spoiler alert] being a book of gags by Aristotle. While the book was about a deductive proto-Holmes unravelling superstition, there was enough slack in the mystery to force the reader into interpretation and interpretation based on context. As he says in KANT and the Platypus

I would not say we can have any real knowledge; if anything, I would maintain that we have an excess of real knowledge. Some are prepared to object that there is no difference between saying there is no truth and saying there are many truths. But we might likewise object that this excess of truth is transitory; it is an effect of our groping our way along , between trial and error; it indicates a limit beyond which these different perspectives (all partly true) could one day be combined in a [jar].

The relatively simple tale of preserving lemons in salt in a jar suffers from an excess of knowledge on the internets and is widely open for interpretation by both readers and writers on the internets. There are at least three different cutting techniques, at least one glaring omission of a hygiene step and differing values placed on perceived taste over cretinism.

This is what I can tell you:

- obtain lemons from your tree or a neighbourhood tree. Don’t buy them, I thinks it better if you just face up to your lack of social connections and your eventual stabbing – Kitty Genovese style – to indifferent neighbours

- don’t bother being too choosy, the ugly ones can be put to good use later.

- give the lemons a scrub and then lop the last few eights of an inch off the ends of the lemons.

- the lemon is then cut into quartered claw; an x made at one end that continues through to all but the last centimetre. The lemon is then stuffed with a tablespoon or so of salt and the salt gets to work on the freshly exposed lemon innards.

- somewhere it’s argued that commercial salt has a metallic taste and that their many mattresses have a pea underneath. Elsewhere it’s said that the added iodine is no bad thing when compared to the goitered life of a Catskills cretin. I used sea salt, if only for the reason that the coarse size allows for a good fill of the lemon, where a finer salt would smother.

- sterilise your jar. Food safety is something you don’t want too much vagary for. In the fridge or a cool dark space? I’m assuming there was a time of preserved lemons before the refrigerator and went for a cool dark space

- in the pantry, behind the booze. One suggestion I followed, and didn’t see elsewhere, was to top the jar up with a sealing layer of a 1/4 cup of olive oil. It seems sound advice.

- most of the action happens over three days. The lemons release their juices and soften. This means that extra lemons can be added to get a nice snug fit and you will need to fill with extra lemon juice to cover the lemons (from the uglies)

- cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns can all be added in their twos or threes or tablespoon or so.

- from here you’ve got about a month long wait. I’m planning on holding out until christmas, when it’ll be distributed up into gifts and hopefully put to good use. I’m freshening up tagines with mine and they also make for a lovely citric seafood pasta sauce.

**********
And this post is my yellow contribution to LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow 2009 – once again organised by the inestimable Barbara of winosandfoodies. The events is part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s efforts to raise cancer issues worldwide. I’d be surprised if you haven’t got your own experiences. Even in my own fortunate life I’ve got a grandfather I never met, a friend who scared the shit out of us last year, and a colleague who’s on the mend. Keep an eye out for the round-up on the 3rd of October.

UPDATE: it’s up and it’s awesome.

Tags: , ,

The Garden

Had it not been for the recent rains, this might have played out like the desert scene in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with Eva as Eli Wallach and the carrots as Clint Eastwood.

I’m happy to say that my vegetable garden is coming along well. It’s a modest size, taking up part of the side garden, originally reserved for the hills hoist. What I wanted was something that I could potter around for 10 minutes in after work and it fits that bill perfectly.

It features a lemon tree and a lemonade tree. The lemonade tree has coughed up a couple of edible lemon-like fruit this season and we’re hoping for a big year next year. The lemon tree went much of the way for providing for a giant jar of preserved Moroccan lemons.

Herbs are parsely, thyme, coriander, sage, rosemary and fennel. A Holden 186 straight 6 engine block is doing a great job a a herb planter. I’ve also just got some Mexican paleo-coriander seeds that I’m going to plant.

Vegetables; the carrots are the go. Grown from seed, they’ve been enthusiastic enough to require thinning. Next to them is baby beetroot. Apparently the leaves are great in a salad but I always worry I’ve mixed it up with rhubarb, which has deadly leaves. Rocket’s rampant. Snowpeas, are also away and working their way up the trellis, and broadbeans, grown from seed, are just popping up. A nifty trick I got from the telly is to use an empty egg carton as a seedling box.

It’s not going to get us through a famine but it fies my soul and fills the spot.

Tags: ,

slow cooked lamb roast [pending]

Imagine if you could to a full day of driving around visiting wineries and such and then come home to find your roast waiting for you like an expectant puppy. Imagine no more. Enter the amazing world of slow roasting.

I’ve been doing a lot of slow roasting recently as a respite from the ‘is it ready yet?’ world of skewer checking. This particular one was cooked for about 7 hours in a gas-fired pizza oven the lowest setting of around 130C.

The prep for the meat is unsurprising and involves making deep cuts into the lamb with a butchers (or paring) knife to make pockets for a sprig of rosemary, a piece of garlic, and a salted caper. Rub liberally with olive oil and season.

Put a cup of chicken stock and/or white wine in the pan and cover with a lid (or foil). You might like to lift the lamb of the base and out of the liquids with a sliced root vegetable, a leek or a rack, but I didn’t bother. The size of the roasting pan keeps things nice and shallow.

Leave in the pizza oven undisturbed. Keep a lazy eye on the fluid levels but as the lid sealed well and the meat does chuck out a good level of juice itself, it wasn’t necessary.

Allow to rest and then carve. And by carve, I mean flake. It’s more like meat from a confit.

As a bit of a bonus, I made a sort of barigoule with it. About half an hour from finish, I popped in some chunks of fennel, capsicum, zucchini, and whole cherry tomatoes with a bit more EVOO splashed OTT. These cooked away for another half an hour while the meat rested.

Make a sauce with it of course.

Dessert was pears, poached in red wine in the pizza oven while we ate. A good piece of advice for poached pears is to make sure you really do reduce the poaching liquid to a thick syrup for an intense flavour – just keep the pears warm and to one side.

If you were wondering about the trip. I stayed at a friend’s house that he’d just built himself (he’s a builder so it wasn’t like one of the less successful efforts on Grand Designs) in Busselton on a canal. The indoor-outdoor kitchen is a really handy combo and I’m trying to bag myself some more cooking there. I’m sold on outdoor pizza ovens and gas just seems so much less hassle than wood. True, it lacks the wood-fired cred and moniker but gains in likelihood of use. Pizza’s made the night before easily passed the droop test and were churned out in quick succession. Need to see if a goat will fit in there.

A bit on the quiet side in Margaret River for the school hols. Lovely lunch at Xanadu and picked up a great bottle of chardy and one of their catering sized bottles of dry red at the always good Cape Mentelle.

Next day was Pemberton – super good bottle of pinot and a chat about Valiant utes at Salitage, marron dinner at the pub, visit to an espalier orchard being built, bit of German V8 hooning and getting stuck on logging roads. Tasty pork pie at taste of Balingup, a visit to the world’s biggest playground when you’re 18 months in Donnybrook and then back home

ash and moo's pad

Tags:

If you’re like me, you’ve probably boiled a chicken and thought ‘What am I going to do with all this chicken water?’. Well don’t chuck it out.

Mash the chopped whites of a couple of spring onions in a mortar and pestle and then add a teaspoon of cracked pepper and a couple of tablespoons of fish oil. Then add the meat of half a dozen tiger prawns and mash it lightly. Leave for ten minutes.

Chuck the prawn shells and heads into the boiling chicken water and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the shells and cook the prawn meat for a minute. Place a wedge of lime and coriander leaves in each bowl and ladle in some prawn and chicken water and serve at the start of a meal.

Tags:

lamb and lentil braise


Technically it’s a braise and that’s often the cooking method of choice for cheaper and tougher cuts but that doesn’t exclude other cuts. The temperature is lower than an oven but the heat conductivity of the water, which surrounds the meat, is much more efficient. The connective tissue and collagen is broken down with cooking time is transformed into gelatin. Gelatin will thicken the sauce and give it mouthfeel. Bones are also good. So for this reason I grabbed some lamb chops out of the freezer and complimented them with shanks.
Dust the meat with flour and brown them quickly after or the flour goes soggy with juices. Much is said about sealing the meat but the browning adds flavour to the meat by a process known as the Maillard reaction which is a chemical reaction that occurs with amino acids and heat (like sugars and caramelisation) . I’m not entirely sure if the same happens with the flour the meat is dusted with but the flavours will disperse with the flour and the flour acts as a thickener. I’ve also heard that with fish, a dusting of flour will ‘dry’ the exterior so the fish sears in contact with the pan rather than steams. Remove and drain off any excess fat, much of the flavour is still stuck to the pan and this can be deglazed with a little stock and some scraping.
The similarity with a stock means that there’s a flavour base of aromatics – garlic, onion, celery and carrots. This is referred to in French as a mirepoix. The mirepoix was softened gently or ‘sweated’ in olive oil until soft. The size of the mirepoix depends on the length of cooking. A brief half hour fish stock will need small cubes but a longer cooking process can allow larger pieces which add to the biteable elements in the dish – celery and onion not so much but carrots yes.
The flavour gets a boost from adding half a litre of chicken stock and then topped up with water. You could do without it but a watery taste is to no-one’s liking and ther should be something for the lentils to soak up. The other flavour comes from a traditional bouquet garni combo of thyme, bay leaf and parsley. Personally I find popping out to the herb garden a wee bit special.
Added to the mix are kipfler potatoes, which keep their shape well. Potatoes are often mixed to stews for their carbohydrates but their starch also acts as a thickener.
Bring to the boil and skim off the scum and place in a 180C oven for an hour or so. The lid will increase the efficiency of cooking by raising the boiling point in a mild facsimile of a pressure cooker. It’ll also mean that the cooking liquid doesn’t reduce but that’s OK because you’ll need it for the lentils.
Lentils have long been a source of suspicion for transgression of established barriers on protein and meat (pace tofu). Green lentils, unlike other legumes,don’t require soaking before cooking just needing a rinse and then cooking until tender. This can vary but half an hour is good balance between chewy and mush. Add the lentils and continue cooking – if there’s excess liquid you can crack the lid open to allow steam to escape and the liquid to reduce.
At the same time, the dish lacks a bit of acidity and this could be wine (didn’t have any) or lemon (ditto) so I went with tomatoes. Just some cherry tomatoes pan fried with olive oil and basil until broken down for extra taste and mixed in at the same time as the lentils.

Tags: ,

clear soup mackeral

My significant other-in-law Chris runs a charter fishing boat out of Darwin. He has five top fish and not only refuses to keep any fish outside of the five for himself, but refuses to give them away either. Picky to be sure, but it meant we got five bags of immaculatey packed and filleted pieces of Darwin’s finest when my sister in law came to stay.

Mackeral in a Clear Soup
Mackeral is a strong tasting fish so the idea was to place it in a milder context of the mild fishiness of dashi stock. The dashi has mirin added to it for a bit of sweetness and soy sauce to fill in the gaps with a bit of meaty saltiness. The amounts of the latter two need to be tested with tasting. Dashi has a short cooking time so there’s more variance than with a stock that has a longer cooking time and a greater margin of error.
I was also happy to find katsuoboshi in a pack of 50gm bags at the small Asian deli next to Herdies Grower’s fresh. All that seemed to exist before were two kilogram bags, which is quite an amount of of dried bonito shavings. 50gm is also exactly the right amount you need for 1.5 litres of dashi, along with a 6x4cm square of konbu. Konbu is a large sea grass that contains glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is used as a neurotransmitter but also stimulates the umami receptors of our tongue. Umami is the mysterious fifth dimension of taste, which I find personally relevent as Age of Aquarius was the number one single in the year of my birth. It’s also the source of the much maligned MSG.
Traditionally, dashi is made with the water used to rinse rice but untraditionally, I didn’t have rice so normal water had to do.

Dashi
- Add the konbu to 1.5 litres of water and heat over a medium heat. Just before it comes to a boil, remove the konbu from the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil. Add 50gm of katsuoboshi and just as it starts to sink, strain the stock. I’m not sure of the exact degree of sinking and whether it’s as soon a one flke heads downward. Just don’t go wandering off.

Soup
The soup is based on a bamboo and prawn clear soup recipe from Kosaki and Wagner’s The Food of Japan. Theinteresting thing in this is the prawns are dusted with cornflour and quickly cooked in boiling water and then chilled. I’ve no idea what the cornflour does, it’s usually great for coating chicken for frying though. In this case, it did wrap the fish in an interesting texture.

- Add 5 tsp each of mirin and soy sauce for every three cups of dashi.
- Cut the mackeral into manageable pieces and cook as for the prawns above (there aren’t actually any prawns or bamboo in this in case you’re confused, because I replaced it mackeral didn’t I? And try getting fresh bamboo shoots at 6pm on a Sunday night in Perth).
- Add the mackeral pieces to the soup and heat through.
- Distribute the soup and mackeral pieces to the bowls and garnish with sliced chilli, steamed asparagus, and bean shoots that you’ll have spent 15 minuted trying to tie into four neat bundles with a lightly boiled bean shoot stem.

golden snapper


Golden Snapper with Artichoke Barigoule
Yet another Michel Roux Jnr recipe, I’d explain it in detail but I really think you should just go out and buy Le Gavroche Cookbook and get the Food of Japan while you’re at it. Artichoke barigoule is actually quite an old French dish. This one is best described as a mirepoix of roughly equal amounts of fennel bulb, onion, carrot, and diced and browned parma ham cooked in olive oil with thyme and garlic with two peeled artichokes in sixths added and then simmered covered with greaseproof paper with a glass of white wine, 60ml of warm water, and the juice of half a lemon for 15 minutes. Think of it as a nascent stock.
The fish is cooked in a very hot ovenproof pan in a very hot oven with olive oil, rosemary and thyme.
Serve on mash with the barigoule, garnish with freshly shredded basil leaves, a splash of olive oil and some of the barigoule juices.

Very nice. The snapper is fantastic and the only thing that can be “done” to it is stuffing it up, but a careful eye should prevent that. I liked the barigoule too, the finely diced pieces blended together without any particular one being dominant with the citric aspects of the wine and lemon juice matching the fish.

Bonus Motor Reviews:
00 V6 Holden Commodore Executive
If you’re an executive that makes his or her own cup of coffee and brown bags their lunch then you’ll appreciate the modest touches like non-electric windows and a cassette player. The steering wheel feels surprisingly like a stress ball, handy for times of refuelling, and connects to competent enough if uncompelling handling. The treasure though, is the engine which throttles the loaf-like sedan at a rudely entertaining pace, which, when couple with underperforming tyres allows for many squeal like a pig moments.

’06 620 Ducati Monster
Traditional no fuss naked home of gentler Ducati engines makes for simple biking pleasures accompanied by a beautiful Termignoni note. Sit up and beg riding position with wide handlebars allows for confident drop in cornering. Slipper clutch avoids traditional Ducati requirement on manly bear grip but does make for uncertain starts. Lower power requires more judicious gear selection than with larger torquier twins. Apparently the front shocks can’t be adjusted , so firmer springs and a bikini screen a good accessory choice.

’06 Volvo XC90 D5
Smooth spinning and with a creamily compelling engine howl, it handles as effortlessly as it does seat five with ample luggage space. Quick, quicker with autotronic, but be soothed by Nordic utilitarian design and soft lights.

Next Week! 240 series redux

Tags: , ,

beef wellington


Ha! The French, inventing a dish that used the favourite meal of the English, the rosbif, and then naming it after
a waterproof boot. Touché! as they say

This is an exercise in deciding how much faffing around you want to do with a meal, and in this case I had a day to idle away. Busier folk could simply wrap a log of spam in store bought puff pastry and then place it in the bin.

The recipe is a combination of a few recipes from my handy Le Cordon Bleu at Home and on the internets. This was actually one of my first fancy dinner party meals when I was at uni and for some reason I decided to make it in the middle of summer. Moving the table out to the back garden helped matters. Although I managed to offend two guests by describing new railway stations their friend has designed as “a large superphosphate shed and a greek temple for the gods of suburban blah”. Would I offend again? The weather was better though.

Features!
-homemade puff pastry (not something I do often/ever)
-shiitake duxelles
-a herb crepe wrap

welly wrap


I’m not going to tell you how to make puff pastry, I just diligently followed a cookbook but it is doable and give yourself a fair amount of time as it needs a couple hours of refrigeration in the process of making it. What is made is a large number of buttery layers with six rotations of a triple fold. So I guess it would be something like- three layers, nine layers, 27 layers, 81 layers, 243 layers, 729 layers.

Beef
I got the beef eye fillet (1.2kg for seven people) from Jeremy’s (and nice it was). Tie it in five places to keep its shape and sear on all sides for about five minutes. Place it on a chopped carrot and a sixthed onion and cook in a 200C oven for 20 minutes. Remove the fillet and allow to cool and then cool in the fridge. Roast the carrots and onion for another twenty minutes and then deglaze the tin with brandy and port. Keep the liquids and the solids to make the sauce later and scrape off any fat that appears on the surface.

Duxelles
I used a combination of 300gm of fresh shiitake and fresh field mushrooms and cooked in a pan for 15 minutes with two finely chopped scallions. Add half a cup of cream and a couple of tablespoons, chopped, of fresh herbs – parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme (stoppit) . Puree to smooth. It ends up looking like a pate which is interesting because one alternative to duxelles is to coat the fillet with pate (as in the liver paste) or fois gras and then warp it in pastry. Chill in the fridge

Crepes
I saw this on the net and then couldn’t find it again but then I found another recipe which suggested using rice paper so the pastry doesn’t get soggy. So I thought the crepe would do the same trick.
Just your basic crepe batter with the aforementioned herbs mixed in. I was going to add porcini dust but they didn’t have any at Herdies so no to that.

Assembly and Cooking
Remove the string from the beef fillet.
Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness and trim. Place crepes in the middle and spread a layer of the duxelles and place the fillet on top. Spread duxelles over the fillet. and top with a crepe. Fold the pastry over lengthwise. Seal the ends with a roller and fold the ends over. Turn the beef wellington over with the seal down and brush with egg wash. You can decorate with strips of spare pastry if you like and brush again with egg wash.
Allow to cool in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Place a metal cone (from a pastry bag or bong) in the middle to allow steam to escape and prevent it going soggy.
Place in a buttered baking tray. Cook in a 180C oven for 40 minutes and then allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Sauce
Strain the deglazing liquids and then reduce in a pan with beef stock and red wine.

Parsnip, Sweet Potato and Leek Cake
A large roti that seemed to resemble coleslaw. Not as successful as I’d hoped as a cake tin dooesn’t allow for the right amount of crisping without burning that a pan does.
Julienne the sweet potato and the parsnips and parboil for a minute. Julienne a leek and cook in goose fat until soft and then add the parsnip and sweet potato. Mix through and season and add to a cake tin and cook along with the roast.

welly stovetop


Tasty although I don’t know what I was thinking with the application of the jus, Decided to go all Jackson Pollock, who liked a drink or two I hear.

Topless Seafood Pies


seafood things


These came to me in a dream. Not a very well detailed dream with a complete recipe and I can’t remember if in the dream the shortcrust shells were supposed to look like an ashtray made in year 3 art class. But the idea was pastry in a dariole mould and filled with prawns and scallops. The prawns and scallops and red emperor fillets were chopped into bitey bits.
Wan’t sure about the sauce but I found a crayfish head in the freezer. I removed the shell and the legs and crushed them. The flavour of the shells isn’t soluble in water, only alcohol and fat (mmmm) so the shells were sauteed with some celery as an aromatic, flambeed with brandy and then simmered in cream for 40 minutes.
I then added a few strands of saffron and seasoned. A small amount kept as a sauce and with the rest, an egg yolk and some finely chopped parsley and then poured over the seafood in the shells.

Rice Pudding
rice pudding

The rice to milk ratio is very small 4tbs of short grain rice to 800ml of full cream milk. Bring to a boil in a Creuset dutch oven with a vanilla pod and 2tbs of caster sugar and cook in a 150c oven for 90 minutes. Keep an eye on it or you’ll, as I did, run out of milk and scald the pot.
You’re supposed to then stir in some whipped cream but I forgot that bit at this blurrier end of the eveing but did manage to remember to mix in some fresh passionfruit pulp and decide to caramelise some caster sugar on top with the kitchen torch.

Tags: , ,

tapioca

Sinful. Unless it refers to torturing chickens to save a few cents off the price of an egg (and I’m not sure that actually is a sin), it’s a naff word to use in regards to food. And if a supercreamy tapioca pudding is someone’s idea of a ticket to their own circle of hell then we all have much to worry about. Actually I’m sure the high point of my own stygian repose would be being able to listen to wails of “But Lord, it was but one Milky Bar!” as they reached up to a particularly smug group of lactose intolerants. The circles of dairy hell are:

low-fat milk
havarti cheese
cafe latte
prurient thoughts regarding milkmaids
milk
chocolate
600ml choc-milk
whipping cream
chocolate mousse
double cream
double brie
triple brie
mascarpone
Nestle Infant Formula


Anyway tapioca, in the hunt for a recipe sometimes you think it’d been invented by ‘Grandma’ who had a prediliction for jello and cool whip (They still talk about it in Normandy). The others involve eggs and I don’t remember tapioca involving eggs. Well there’s a recipe
here, that’s merged it with zabaglione,hence the marsala, and that made sense. I also learnt what ‘half and half’ is when it’s not half lager, half ale. I substituted vanilla and port for the marsala

- soak 1/3 cup baby tapioca pearls for two hours, drain
- add to 2.5 cups of half cream and half milk and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring often with a whisk (or constantly if you can be bothered and you’ve got a heater and a telly in the kitchen)
- add 1 tsp vanilla essence and a shot of port. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
- whisk one egg and one egg yolk with 4 tbs of sugar until combined and light in colour.
- add 1/3 of the tapioca mix to the eggs, stirring constantly.
- return to the saucean and over a low heat, stir constantly for five minutes.
- pop in a glass and top with berries and whipped cream.

Sadly you can’t see the multi-coloured eyes of tapioca gazing out and the $1.50 ikea glass looks like a $1.50 ikea glass (and I didn’t iron the placemat) but it was independently assessed as ‘the yummiest tapioca ever…creamy and dreamy’ . So there you go.

Bonus pic is the Kylie Kwong steamed oysters that I had in a not very successful thai dinner. They tasted nowhere near as nice as they looked – largely due to a poor decision between Malaysian cooking wine and a four day old of bottle verdelho (it was fine on Tuesday before POTC). I chose the latter and as a further blow, the oysters weren’t steamed enough to be hot, but rather not quite cold.

steamed oysters

Tags: ,

mabo tofu


The generally accepted western taxonomy is that it’s from the slaying of beasties that comes the protein and from plants comes things other. Did you know that Genesis and the whole garden of Eden thing was whinge in metaphor (and if you thought it was all true, well I’m sorry) for the replacement of the life of hunting for the agricultural one? Yeah thanks a frick’n lot ladies. Sometimes it gets me in such a funk that not even my 18″ pepper grinder can cheer me up. Heaping ambiguity upon indignity was tofu. Tofu is all gathery yet proteiny. The result was to treat it as an unsatisfactory and frowned upon alternative to the real thing [see hands, sins of]. And, where’s this going? Ahm look dudes it’s OK because beef and tofu can be friends.

Mabo tofu or “spicy tofu” is a Japanese Chinese fave and is usually not spicey at all with more efforts usually going towards getting the saice all gelatinous. In short, it is spag bol on tofu.

Tofu tends to have a tenuous grasp on it’s own constitution and will scramble if not properly firmed up. The first thing you should do is sit it on a slightly inclined chopping board with another weighted chopping board on top to remove extra moisture. You can then blanch it for a minute or, as I did, pop it in the tucker fucker for 90 seconds. Dice into dice sized dices with a dicer (or a knife).

A very large clove of garlic and a similar amount of ginger finely grated along with a finely chopped chilli and the chopped white ends of several spring onions. Quickly sauteed in peanut oil in a wok to get the flavours going. Mix in 300gm of beef mince that’s had a heaped tablespoon of miso paste, a tablespoon of toubanjan (spicey bean paste), and a tablespoon of sesame oil mixed into it. If you’re not big into the miso just buy a packet of instant, there should be a little tube of miso in there that you can use. For a bit of variety I added some finely chopped bamboo shoot and field mushrooms (shiitake would also be nice). Have a look below and notice that my mise skills have gone to pot (it’s adorable isn’t it? teapot and cup all in one).

mabotofu ingredients


Stir fry until cooked and then add a cup of beef stock with a teaspoon of cornstarch or potato starch mixed into it. Add the tofu and heat through while reducing the stock.

Garnish. It’s good. Grrr.

Congrats and thanks to long-timer Reid for being the host of IMBB



Tags:

spanakopita

Spanakopita [from the Greek spanos - spinach, and kopita - pie] it pretty easy. Lightly blanch a couple of bunches of spinach and chop up. Chop up a few field mushrooms, a clove of garlic and some spring onions and sautee in a little olive oil. Mix it all in with three free-range eggs, a grated block of feta cheese and a handful of chopped herbs – coriander, marjoram, dill, and parsely. Butter a baking tray, place three sheets of filo pastry brushed with butter on the bottom. Add the mix and then top with three more sheets of filo. Cook at 180C for about 40 minutes.

Jo’s moussaka added gravy like goodness with near dissolved eggplant.

Buggered if I can get a single sheet of filo pastry to not tear before just chucking the rest away in scrumpled digust. Is there a trick to this?

Tags: , ,

porc a l'orange with braised fennel


Obviously I don’t blog everything I’ve cooked for the past week but in this case, apart from poached eggs, this is everything I’ve cooked. A stretch of long days getting the mag ‘to bed’ (sounds more romantic than it is) haven’t been very helpful to fixing dinners (or a general sense of calm, for that matter). Anyway, winter’s been bedded, more news on that later, and I could get back to messing about in the kitchen. Sorry for the average pic but the meal was much enjoyed.

The recipe is taken from these French recipes that pop into my email box each day. It’s a nice way to pick up some French cooking . You just go to Cuisine AZ and then, and then I’m not sure what you do, you’ll have to ask a French person, but eventually you’ll get a pork recipe from someone called Emmanuelle and that’s good, no? So the recipe:

300 g of pork fillet, sliced into 2cm medallions; 3 oranges – one with the rind grated and juiced and the other two segmented ; one leek, cut into 1cm lengths (the recipe calls for small white onions); butter; salt and pepper

For some nice prep practice, instead of of grating the peel, peel it without the pith, slice it into fine strips and finely chop it. Chop the ends off the other two oranges, remove the peel with a knife and then segment it by slicing between the membrane, avoiding any pith. Segmenting an orange is one of the three things you have to be able to do well before you can be considered able to do anything in cooking school. I forget the other two. Ah well.

Sear the pork in butter until it’s golden and then add the leek and the juice and the peel. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, season, then add the orange segments and simmer for another eight minutes. Remove the pork, the oranges and the leek and keep them warm and reduce the cooking liquid into a sauce – glossing it up a bit with some whisked in butter.

Found this Donna Hay recipe to go with risotto while looking for a way to slow-roast fennel. This recipe calls for braising. A few changes – I replaced chicken stock with beer, vinegar with white verjuice and dropped the amount of sugar back a bit.

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered; 1 cup of Bitburger; 1/3 cup of raw sugar; 1/3 cup of white verjuice; 4 sprigs of thyme.

Then, in an eerily familiar fashion. sear the fennel in butter until it’s golden and then add the other ingredients. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes. Eight minutes isn’t enough for tender, so possibly go for at least 15.

Plate it and that’s it. The citrus cuts nicely against slightly sweet and fatty pork and braised onions and fennel are your winter heartiness right there.

Tags: ,

chicken and mushroom quiche


Today is International Women’s Day. Spiceblog is well regarded as a leader in gender issues on the internet in Australia so I shouldn’t let this slip by. As is often said, where the mirror cannot be found, the dish will do. Last Friday I went to the outdoor movies and I made a quiche. For those around at the time, the quiche was a minor celebrity in the crisis of manhood in the early 80s – second only to the manbag. It managed to inspire a book “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” with the punchline being “they eat ham and egg pie”. Hoohoo indeed! I’m not sure where this animosity came from, I mean it’s not as if half our language isn’t French already or that manliness is derived from an earthy literalness that would have us saying that’s not a carburettor, it’s a device to regulate the flow of fuel and air into the cylinder. Possibly it was a kind of no-nonsense response that played into a myth of the fall. The fall being the defeat in 1066 by the Normans which destroyed the priveleged position of good honest monosyllables and all things Arthury or something. So ingrained in me was this that there was a moment of hope that since I didn’t have a quiche tin and had to use a cake tin, the lack of scalloped edge and the relative heightiness meant that it would be a pie. It wasn’t

Get yourself some short-crust pastry, butter a tin, cut a circle of pastry out, place it in the bottom. Cut some strips out to go around the edge. Seal up any gaps and blind bake for 10 minutes at 220C. If you haven’t done this before, it’s just to get it nice and crusty. Place some dried beans on the pastry to stop it puffing up. I disn’t have any beans so I used some ceramic hashioki. Just put a sheet of baking paper under them.

Mix was one chicken breast which I left to marinate for an hour in Ras al Hanout spices. Pan cooked and shredded. About a cup of chopped field mushrooms and then a third as much chopped spring onions and a third as much of that in chopped scallions all gently cooked in butter. Mix together with the chicken and a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Four whole eggs, half as much cream, and half again of cheddar I had. OK alright there’s maths here but are you going to have the same amount of spring onions as mushrooms? No. Half as much mushrooms as chicken maybe. I wanted mix with eggy bits just holding it together and I got it. How much cheese do you want? Make a decision. Salt and pepper. Cook at 180C until you dip a knife in it and it comes out clean and then take it out and cool it on a rack. You can then pop it back in the tin for easy transportation to said French film.

Film of which was French film The Story of My Life – dealing with thirthysomething doubt regarding artistry versus commerce versus success versus failure versus risk versus identity versus vulagarity versus the woman you have versus the woman you want all mixed together in a second act snarl up with comedic result and character switchovers.

Tags: , ,

terrine de mère et de fille


Sunday was the Fremantle Family Food Fiesta and Jeff the photographer and me decided to make an appearance with our loved ones on behalf of the mag. For those that like their fun highly organised, this was a treat with rules stretching to over two pages. The theme was the family’s favourite dish and this, with both of us having fairly bog standard Australian food childhoods, left us non-plussed. Unlike other foodies who could successfully write an essay within the given 50 minute period “Becoming a foodie was inevitable, discuss, giving examples with special emphasis on the period leading up to the event”. Pens down. My home food was neither especially bad or especially extraordinary, just food to feed a family with some variety with a supermarket 30 miles away. My mum though would always make a platter, or “plate”, for local dances and as these became kind of signature dishes for each family, I thought I’d recreate it, but in aspic. Not that it ever was in aspic but it’s a tasty enough allusion to the way we suspend and organise our memory.

It’s not an overly intimidating thing to make. All the work is creating the aspic. Unless you’re happy with commercial stocks, you’ll be making your own chicken stock. I ended up making a consomme and a good explanation of the hows and whys is here. A few things to think about. I used three teaspoons ofgelatine for 500ml of stock and added an extra teaspoon for hot weather. This balanced well – you don’t want it turning into chum but then again you don’t want something with the consistency of silastic. The stock should have its own gelatine from the bones and a good one gels in the fridge. If I’d done the chicken stock again, I would have a added a veal bone or tried to track down a calves foot. Failing this, maybe given a pig’s trotter a bit of a look.

As for the interior bits, I roasted a whole free-range chicken with sage, lemon, and butter. Butter and sage under the breast skin, lemon up the jacksie, and a good butter and seasoning all over. Shred.
Boiled four free-range eggs for 9 minutes and then refreshed in cold water to stop the cooking process. Working from memory, the fresher the eggs, the more likely you’re going to have a nice sharp junction between the yolk and the white.
Chopped up a small jar of gherkins and a small jar of small red cocktail onions.

I use a sharp rectangular bread tin-no need to oil or line with wrap. Pour a thin layer of aspic on the bottom and allow it to set (in the freezer if you keep a sharp eye on it) and then decorate with three egg halves and assorted shapes of gherkin and onion. Top with more chicken and chopped egg gherkin, chicken, and onion mix. I let it set again at the half way point to keep it all a bit loose and have a greater proportion of jelly. Fill again to a smidgen below the top and cover with aspic.
Get a piece of box the size of the tin, wrap it in foil, and place on top with a weight (eg bottle of beer) leave for 12 hours. Wipe fridge clean if you didn’t leave a smidgen of space on the top.
Cut around the sides with a sharp paring knife and if it doesn’t come out, just heat the top a little with some warm water.
Served with a surrounding salad of lettuce, carrot, gherkin, cheese cubes, cocktail onions, and flicks of pate. The best thing for cutting is a serrated cheese knife and if you make slow careful stroke, you should get a nice neat slice. Good stuff. The terrine is now my new official vehicle of food innovation.

250 people showed up for the lunch and there were some pretty speccy efforts with people bringing their finest for dining. I went along just to have fun and be there and then vowed revenge for next year – I’m thinking pig . Kudos to Jeff’s sausage rolls and chutney . Charmaine Solomon was there!

terrine de mère et de fille

Tags: , ,

salmon salad


Salad salad salad. There are a lot of platitudes about healthy food but it does make sense. Every time we eat we have an opportunity to eat what will do us good or eat something shite. Better if it’s tasty shite, worse if it’s shite shite. If it’s good for you and tasty, then doubly plus good. Mucho macho delusion is at work. The movie running through the head is that unhealthy eating is vindicated by being oh so tasty and a willingness to stare death in the face to do it. In reality it’s a failure to develop reasonable adult tastes and an unwillingness to work beyond the hot, the salty, and the fatty as the pinnacles of food pleasure. The result is usually to work most of the way through it to justify getting it in the first place and then spend the rest of it wondering what you were thinking, case in point – the Whopper. Then it’s the useless loop of validation and the fruitless search for the taste that you thought you’d get. Not forgetting the whole forbidden fruit thing but it’d be nice if the forbidden fruit wasn’t forbidden froot, if you know what I mean. Perception: wildly pushing risk parameters on a thundering hunk of hot metal. Reality: riding Virago into back of vehicle while looking back at outrun Excel.

Why don’t I make more salads? I dunno. Salads are subordinate clauses to the controlling idea of meat and have the Tontoes about them. We rarely, if ever, make a course of them. The trick is to make them more like bongos and less like drum kits. Actually I hate bongos after many a perfectly good boho party in the early nineties was ruined by squads of percussionistas. Somebody had put a mirror on the lawn so you could like look at the stars and this vibe was demolished by a lumpen faux salsa chorus. Anyway this is a healthy salad and more meal in a bowl like the Vietnamese Beef salads and an amped up version of the token bits if browned bacony things in a Caesar, the Japanese do a nice line in a seafood salad. With the recipe I was looking for gone missing, I kind of made it up with repeated finger dipping tastings (not hygenic I know but better food poisoning than relying on some kind of palatal telepathy). As a meal you’ve got your meat, your veg, and your bread.

Wash and dry some lettuce – the further away from the nutritionally empty iceberg the better. Grape tomatoes and trimmed and steamed asparagus refreshed to a chill immediately after steaming in ice water.

Pan fry salmon cutlet in a little vegetable oil. I marinated the salmon in a little saké for 15 minutes. Flake it while it’s still hot (builds finger character) and make sure no bones get into the salad.

I was distracted and let the asparagus oversteam and become soft so I thought croutons would add a bit of crunch. Thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted in a toaster, and cut into cubes. The innovation was to quickly fry them in the pan I’d just cooked the salmon in to give it a nice coating of fishy flavour goodness

Dressing: 4tbs soy sauce; 2tbs lemon juice; 2tbs white vinegar; 2tsp sugar; 3 spring onion whites, finely sliced; 2tbs ginger, finely grated; 2tbs of white and black sesame seeds, lightly dry pan toasted. Pop in a jar and shake and pour over salad. The measurements are recollected guesstimates, accurately replicate it at your peril. If you want a bit of a guide, the soy sauce is salty, the lemon juice adds fresh tangy sourness, the vinegar a bit of spare sour fruitiness, the ginger and spring onions a bit of pungency, the sesame seeds add crunch and toastiness, and the sugar add sweetness to offset the saltiness of the soy. Adjust accordingly.

A fine addition to the mid-week warm weather repertoire that’s as healthy as it is tasty and as crusty as it is trusty with the cruton hitting the futon and the pisces balancing any nutritional crises.

Note: in a break from food photograph narratives, neither the book, garlic, watch, or mango were in the salad. Apologies for any confusion that may have resulted.

Tags: ,

Mojo's


Third in a series of spiceblog’s dinner and a show. Tapas and a trip to Mojo’s and the Swan.

tortillaHere’s a tortilla that I seem to have done properly. Two important things. Frying the onion and the discarding the onion and keeping the oil. Leaving the cooked potatoes to sit in the egg mix for fifteen minutes before returning it to the pan.
Chop one medium sized onion finely and saute gently in a heavy pan without burning in half a cup of olive oil for 20 minutes. Leave the oil but discard the onion. Actually don’t chuck it in the bin like I did but use it for another dish. Peel and thinly slice five potatoes, I used Royal Blue which are the most versatile. It’s a nice bit of knife practice by the way. I added a small handful of chopped thinly sliced jamon to the oil and then added the potato in layers, seasoning each layer as I went along. Let the potatoes slowly cook, turning and mixing gently as needed until cooked. Drain the potatoes and reserve two tablespoons of the oil. Add the potatoes to a bowl of 5 whisked free-range eggs (look I’m not arguing here 50% of the taste is the egg) and a couple of tablespoons of parsely. Leave to sit for 15 minutes.

Add the oil to the pan, heat, and then add the potato-egg mix and press it down with a spoon. Keep shaking the pan to loosen the base. When the base is very lightly browned, slide it onto a plate, and then flip back over into the pan to do the top. Remove and serve.

A few other things we had were mussels cooked in Vina Esmeralda and parsley and then grilled with a parmesan, butter, garlic and parsley mix. Cheese and quince paste, tomato and lightly toasted sourdough bread. And salted cod potato cakes with aioli.Chorizo in Red Wine. Apologies for not having more pics but I do tend to spare new guests the sight of me taking too many food photos.

And down to Mojo’s in North Fremantle to see a promising bunch of twelve year olds in their first gig. Talented little buggers. A very Black Sabbathy original song which filled my heart with hope now I realise that Wolf Mother are jazz rockers. Rock on Short Fuse. Another acoustic performers, then two more acoustic performers at the Swan Hotel (which has the best tiles for a men’s toilet ever). All good, there’s no fairness you know. [shakes head wistfully, looks at beer thoughtfully]

short fuse singer two cute kiddoes in a band

[note to self: see more bands, write name of bands down, go electric despite solid acoustic performances]

Oh yes. Big plug for Spanish Flavours in the Wembley Food Hall next to the Wembley Pub. I got my jamon, chorizo, salted cod, and quince paste there. Quince paste was great and only $10 a kilo. Good line of friendly helpful chit-chat from the owner who does a good job of the whole rolling h for j thing.

Tags: , , ,

lasagne

Lasagne. Potentially so much more than a vehicle for bolognese and cheese. I think it should be more regarded as a kind of baked pasta based dagwood opening up many opportunities for different fillings. This one was bechamel with parsley; tomato with majoram and basil; eggplant and mushrooms panfried in olive oil; spinach with ricotta and pine nuts; and then bechamel, parmesan and a few dabs of butter on top. Not a bit of meat to be seen. The lasagne sheets came ready to go in a plastic container. Bechamel is the only thing that takes a bit of care but I really can’t imagine lasagne with out it. Any thoughts on alternatives? Very nice and there was two or more days worth of food there which got better with each passing moment.

Back at Jackson’s hanging around and doing stuff again. Lovely to see everybody and my world has been rocked by the replacement of fennel salad on the menu by a peeled tomato and basil salad. Funny night, must have been international day of no seafood and gluten intolerance.

Tags:

cold soba and crab salad

A very special first time ever treat for you all,

************a spiceblog original joke!!!!!!!!**********

Noodle: Another vodka tonic and make it snappy!
Barman: Are you always this rude?
Noodle: Well if you think this is bad, you should see me when I’m soba.

************* : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : )**********

Soba is a greyish Japanese noodle made either mostly or entirely of buckwheat (soba) and water. Friend to vegetarians and the gluten intolerant, it also makes for a great train platform or highway service area snack and is marvellous cold with a soy/dashi/wasabi based dipping sauce.

Quite easy to buy dried but flush from successes with making fresh pasta, I thought I’d make some. The gear used to make it is fabulous. Traditionally the soba dough is rolled out with a long wooden pin on a large wooden board. They also use large red and black wooden bowls for mixing. All very stylish and the soba knives are the coolest things ever and it saddens me they aren’t seen more in hand to hand combat with heads fortuitously rolling into soba mixing bowls flecking buckwheat flour with crimson or perhaps a show tune with the rolling pins as canes. Alternatively you could say hello to the BandoTaro. I used my pasta roller.

Not the best occasion to make it, back from the shops at 5:15, unshowered from a run, and having decided barely an hour area that we’d be having a BBQ for 10 for Toni’s family at ours at 6. She came back in after sweeping the outdoors area to find me covered in flour, what was I doing, “making noodles”. I got the look. Ah well it was just a matter of bunging out a coleslaw as well.

The crabs are Shark Bay blue swimmer/ blue manna crabs after our crabbing trio in Mandurah didn’t eventuate due to conditions inclement.

Soba:
The mix of buckwheat to wheat flour can vary but commonly it’s 80/20 respectively with the gluten in the wheat binding it together. Pure buckwheat soba is possible but this site recommended starting with 50/50. My balance was about two thirds to one third and then alternating between buckwheat and wheat flour to get the dough to sufficient dryness. Start with a third as much water as flour and mix and then add water until it’s “as soft as an earlobe”. Knead for five minutes, wrap with gladwrap and put in the fridge for an hour.

It’s a beautiful thing to work with. The buckwheat has a strong smell which makes it feel more alive than dough and it feels softer and pliable. This may be an illusion caused by its stone like appearance.

As with pasta, make sure the dough is well coated with flour to prevent it sticking in the roller. You just need to roll it out to a “3″ and then pass it through the spaghetti cutter in foot long lengths.

Cook in plenty of boiling water for two minutes or less, it shouldn’t be soft, and refresh under cool water and chill. You can actually drink the cooking liquid as a tea and it’s quite refreshing.

Dressing:
This salad came into my head, the sources of which are unknown but I had a vague feeling from somewhere. What convinced me it wasn’t the whispers of malevolent demons or mischievous faeries was that lemons are good with seafood, chilli has made a fine partner with lemon in previous pasta sauces, and the oil would add a certain slipperiness. I had thought nuts and coriander but decided against as the latter would have made it too busy and that buckwheat is already “nutty” of sorts for the former.

Remove the flesh from 4 crabs and flake into small pieces. Finely chop half a largish red chilli (remove the seeds). Finely chop the rind of one lemon (you can use a zester or grate it). Add the juice of one lemon and an equal amount of EVOO. Mix together the soba, crab, and dressing and serve.

Refreshing but really I prefer more traditional combinations of Charcoal Cooked Crabs, Cold Soba, and assorted Tempura. I also felt the noodles had been cooked too long and lacked that bit of chewiness that makes really good soba, thicker noodles would have helped here. A good start though and if you used dried soba, this would be extremely quick and easy to make.

Many thanks Amy for hosting.

Roundup! More noodles: Cooking with Amy: A Food Blog: IMBB 22 Use Your Noodle Part 1, 2, 3 & 4

+

Bastani Akbar-Mashti on Baklava


It is, sadly, not enough to just have ice-cream anymore. There has to be an extra carbohydrate bit so I thought I’d lump the Middle East together in one handy package and use a baklava as a base for this Persian variation on vanilla ice-cream.

I almost stuffed the ice-cream completely by just giving the ingredients a quick glance and not looking at the instructions. To clarify, the stages are
1. Heat milk with split vanilla pod
2. Whisk sugar with eggs
3. Pour hot milk slowly into sugar and eggs while stirring
4. Add cream when cooled.

and not pour all the ingredients except the eggs into a saucepan and start heating and then wonder that the eggs looked a little lonely in the bowl and have another look at the recipe. But, as Mark at work kindly pointed out when my line of tapenade had a slick of olive oil around it making it look like an overexcited black slug – ‘all can be fixed.’

There was nothing I could do about the getting the cream or the sugar out of the milk, so I just added a little sugar to the eggs and whisked, and then just poured the milk/cream slowly in as if nothing had happened. I then added two teaspoons of rosewater, as part of my quest to finish the bottle, which was to taste. It is strong so advance a little at a time. I also added two teaspoons of honey, which I regretted as it provides an overly harsh note of sweetness. Put in the fridge to cool, before adding it to the ice-cream maker. You can then chuck little neatly cut cubes of turkish delight in as it goes around and marvel as they get drawn into the icy vortex.

Place in three dariole moulds, smooth over the top and leave in the freezer until ready. If you had some kind of tube thing, that would be quite good too.

Baklava is easier than it looks and is no harder than making a lasange, a tricky dagwood, or a voltaic pile. Phyllo pastry can be a bit fiddly but if you work with small amounts, it shouldn’t give you too much trouble. I wanted it to match the ice-cream so I cut rounds out of a similar size to the dariole moulds three or four sheets at a time by using a cutter ring and giving it a good whack with a rolling pin. I used (buttered) ramekins for each individual one and you stack it like this. You’ll need to brush each round of pastry with butter as you stack them. A lovely assistant is a boon.

4 rounds of phyllo pastry
nut mix nut mix nut mix
3 rounds of phyllo pasty
nut mix nut mix nut mix
3 rounds of phyllo pastry
nut mix nut mix nut mix
5 rounds of phyllo pastry


Heat sugar the sugar syrup over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the allow to simmer uncovered without stirring for five minutes to get it syrupy. Pour over the baklava and then bake for about 30 minutes in an 180C oven or until goldened. Allow to cool in the fridge – time does help the flavours.

Assembly:
Remove the baklava from the ramekin, heat the dariole’s in warm ater briefly and place carefully on topon the baklava, top with a little of the nut mixture, decorate with turkish delight and serve.

Well it was fantastic, really fantastic. Ice cream makers are the best. Admittedly I wanted it a little sharper than a slighty tilting truncated pine tree but not to be. I’m convinced Keiko has some kind of robotic lathe that she picked up from an outsourced Japanese precision engineering firm, it defies my competencies. Nevertheless project Become Quite Good at Dessert progresses well.

Bastani Akbar-Mashti:
250ml of full cream milk; 100gm sugar; 2 eggs; 400ml of thick cream; one vanilla pod; 2tsp of rosewater.
Baklava:
packet of phyllo pastry. Nut mix: 1 cup of chopped cashews and walnuts; 1/2 tsp each of ground cinnamon, allspice, and cloves; 100gm butter (plus extra for the pastry). Sugar Syrup: 1/2 cup of caster sugar; 1/3 cup of water; juice and finely grated rind of half a lemon.

Tags: , ,

Christmas

Christmas in Shibuya

FX Holden sat on my knee and asked me to do a bit of Christmas round-up. I’m afraid it’s more socks than spacesuit as I’ve never made a big deal of it all (except for gift receiving). I’ve found the recent putting christ into christmas hoo-ha a bit puzzling and the harnessing of it to blaming the usual suspects for political purposes distasteful at best. Tis the season of malicious anecdotes. As much as I’m chuffed for people enjoying the religious significance of it, Christmas is about as Christian as the English language is English. And in case that isn’t clear I mean mainly nicked from elsewhere, in constant flux and local adaptation, and largely rescued from 20th century obscurity by finding a syncretic host in a successful economic entity. Sure there are people who see Shakespeare or an imaginary point in the 19th century as the line in the sand, but there are always prescriptivists. Just as they’ve done some wonderful things with English, I think the Japanese have done a wonderful thing with Christmas and it’s my favourite version. Essentially it celebrates the three things that have made the last five decades fun – sex, nifty shops, and cheaply available chicken. I’m personally not that keen on the effects of cheaply available chicken but I’d argue you couldn’t get a lot closer to the Mary and Joseph experience than trying to find a spare table in Harajuku or a vacant Love Hotel in Shibuya on Christmas Eve. As for the rest – eating well, seeing friends and family, feeling goodwill, and falling asleep in the afternoon – these are things we should always enjoy.

Anyway here’s a few things for now:

The Spiceblog Christmas Helper
Christmas Brunch
Breakfast for Xmas: Spinach and Eggs in Ramekins; Oven Roasted Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Prosciutto; Pancakes with Corn.

And in place of the usual Christmas cracker gags you can always use the one about the dyslexic devil worshipper.

kinda waldorfy caeserish salad


I don’t make a lot of salads, so it’s no surprise that I’ve kind of made several different salads in one. If it looks a bit busy, you’re right. All it needs is olives, avocado, and some rice. There are, however a few good tricks in there that can be applied generally.

Anchovy Mayonnaise:
If you’ve been paying attention, you should be able to make your own pasta, bone a chicken, dismember a rabbit, and make your own stock. Now I think you should make your own mayonnaise too. First reason is it takes about five minutes and second reason is that commercially available mayonnaise is sugary jellied crap. Plus if you’re making it yourself, you can mess around with different stuff.

The basics are an egg yolk, no more than one cup of oil per yolk, a teaspoon of mustard (helps emulsify), and salt and pepper. Try to have them at room temperature. For this one I used all of the above but the oil was a mix of 1/4 cup each of walnut oil, EVOO, and vegetable oil. Whisk the other ingredients together and then add the oil drop by drop, whisking continously. Build up to a thin slow stream but take a break before your arm drops off . Once it’s all blended in, whisk in a couple of teaspoons of hot water to thin and stabilise it. Season to flavour.

To this I added a teaspoon of anchovies, finely chopped and then smeared to a paste with the flat of my chef’s knife and whisked in.

Asparagus:
Cut off the tougher end – around the bottom fifth. These ones were quite thick so peel the bottom two thirds, slice in half down the middle, and then half again, and cook in butter. Keep warm.

Walnuts:
Roast in the oven (or in a pan). Keep warm.

Radicchio and Rocket:
Wash and drain and dry if need be. Those salad spinners are great but I don’t have one.

Croutons:
Chop bread into cubes and dry in a hot oven. Fry a couple of cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil and then toss the cubes in them. Keep warm.

Apple:
Core and then thinly slice. Squeeze a little lemon juice over them to prevent discolouration.

Goat’s Cheese:
Local stuff – Kytren. Very nice, you only need a little bit for that sour cheesy taste. Crumble over the top. I almost left it off for being a it gimmicky but no harm done.

Prep and Eating:
Mix the leaves, croutons and apples together with the mayonnaise. Then top with the walnuts, asparagus, and goat’s cheese and the flick a little of the mayonnaise over the top.

Great, it was a meal in itself and if it wasn’t the most harmonious of mixes, everything was well represented. Nice as leftovers with some bald-chin groper cooked in butter too.

And: Got my chef’s knife sharpened at Cut it Out on Murray Street (another bit of Jackson’s advice along with the mayonnaise and the smearing bit to make a paste). Well recommended, I had no idea my knife could be that sharp. Too scared to use it now, might slice the bench in half.

Tags:

rolling pasta

Despite having had this pasta maker for over a decade, I’ve never made good pasta. Most of my rolled pieces looked like they’d been made love to by a small dog. As is often the case, we attribute this to some innate personal failing. This deficit could have been transferred as a credit to some kind of projected perfect noodly deity who for some reason is deservedly punishing me. The enlightened solution is that there are problems because I was doing it wrong. Michelle the sous chef, gave me a new task at work , asking if I could make pasta and I gave my standard response to these kinds of questions which is “erm ahm yes but I’m pretty crap so could you show me”. My main problem was not enough flour on the dough. Any wet spots should be dusted throughout the rolling process. Also remember to dust the pasta roller and NEVER WASH IT EVER. A few finessing points like folding the pasta up the arm and a quick flick of the pile and clumsy, clumsy, success. No magic, just technique. I try and repeat whatever I learn on the weekend, so pasta it was last night, with beetroot for a bit of colour.

pasta ingredients


I found some “00″ rated flour at the Boatshed Markets in Cottesloe. You can use plain flour. From here it’s just making a circular dam of flour and breaking the eggs in the middle. Work the flour into the centre with a fork until it’s combined and then start kneading, adding flour to keep it from being sticky. Knead, turn, knead, turn, for about five minutes until it’s smooth, shiny, and bounces back when you poke it. At some stage you should have remembered to add the beetroot you finely grated. A bit of a thought about this. You could run it through a juicer or just grate it and then press it through a seive. I used a plastic oroshi grater. It’s usually used for daikon or ginger but it gets a nice fine consistency with beetroot and leaves only one thing to wash up.

It’s one of those read somewhere and can’t verify things is you wrap the dough in glad wrap and put it in the fridge for half an hour. Is this necessary. Anyway you can keep it in the fridge or freeze it until you’re ready. Rolling it just before the meal is a nice trick.

I cut the dough in half. Squashed it a little, dusted it with flour and ran it through the widest “1″ setting twice. Then up to “3″ and then one run at each setting up to “6″, dusting as necessary. You cann fold the roll and rest it on your forearm, unfolding it as you go along. Then slice into appropriate lengths and run through the fettucine cutter. If you’ve used enough, there’s no need to leave it hanging over chair backs, it’ll sit happily in a pile and separate when put in boiling water. And there they are there.

beetroot pasta


The sauce was a simple cheese and cream sauce that used gorgonzola and cream. Slice up chicken breast and marinate in a few cloves of chopped garlic and half a red chilli, with some salt, pepper, chopped parsley and EVOO. Cook the chicken in a pan, set aside and keep warm, and deglaze the pan with a little chicken stock and white wine. Add a cup of cream and allow it to heat before adding a handful of cubed gorgonzola and strirring at a simmer for five minutes. Toss in a tablespoon of finely sliced basil and season and stir it in.

The pasta will only take a few minutes to cook in boiling salted water so keep a close eye on it. It’s important to remember that it’ll keep cooking after it’s drained. Plate the pasta, pour the sauce over, and top with the chicken.

chicken and gorgonzola sauce


Sadly the pasta looks like it’s drowning here, something to be careful of. The pasta isn’t colourfast so it settled to a pale pink and the taste was very mild. You may wish to up the amount of beetroot from about a third of a cup to a half, if pastel is less your thing. The sauce was so rich it had a large country manor, a discreet but expensive watch, and a yacht that it would use to entertain clients on sunny days. Use moderation in serving size. Anyhoo, home made pasta-good, and as always, if I can do it you can do it. Impress your friends and yourself.

And: I noticed the Boatshed Markets has green banana leaves, which made me think of Reid’s great summery series on lu’au. Follow the trail from Kalua Pig. Mmmmm butts.

pork crackle and asparagus souffle


Soufflé
, for those who don’t know, is the French word for breast. A fact I constantly marvel at. Who can look at these delicate treats without recalling Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People with Lady Liberty’s soft orbs swelling out of their restrictions? Who indeed? And who also would have thought that me, a man of 36, had not yet mastered such delights. It is true.

Now I’m not going to tell you how to make one. You should have a cook book that explains how to make a savoury one and if you don’t, then I can’t, in good faith, be an enabler.

The idea was to go to the grower’s market and see what was fresh looking and use that as a base. In the mean time I’d bought some pork belly for the mains, and left with the skin, thought I could do something with it. What goes nicely with pork? Asparagus. Think of asparagus wrapped in bacon. Yes.

The skin gets scored and then covered with oil and salt and crisped to a crackle. Then it’s chopped up into small pieces. I was thinking here of the nice Turkish Delight souffle they do at Jackson’s but instead have little bits of crunchy porky interest. Marking, in a way, the transition of pub snacks, as a marker on the road of life.

souffle ingredients

Things to know about this base. Seven thick asparagus are trimmed at the tough end and peeled. I removed and set aside the top parts as a garnish . Boil the asparagus in salted water until soft without being soggy. Chop into small pieces. Cook further in butter and a splash of walnut oil. Add this to your base, which should be a well combined white sauce of butter, flour, milk and the eggs yolks. In the interests of time, this can be made earlier and reheated when needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the 5 egg whites. Lots of things can go wrong here. Make sure there’s no yolk in there. Cracking the eggs into one container and then transferring to another will save you having to chuck out five eggs and starting again. Use a bowl that is immaculately clean. Ive heard talk of copper bowls preventing over-whisking but you have to ask yourself, treat the cause or treat the symptom? It should go nice and glossy and if there’e the slightest trace of graininess. Stop. Working quickly, mix a third in with the base to loosen it and then carefully fold in the rest of the whites to get a good mix without losing volume.

The ramekins need to be rubbed thoroughly with butter, refrigerated until hard, and then rub with more butter. Fill to within a finger’s breadth of the top, drop some pieces of pork craackle in, and place in a 210C oven.

The recipe I had was for one large souffle and the total time for this would have been 30 minutes. I stopped at 20 but it was a little overdone. The bind is that if you open the oven too early to check, the souffle can collapse. I’d estimate around 15 minutes for single ramekins.

Rush to the table, save one for a super quick pic, and serve with the ends cooked in butter.

It was nice. Taste a little on the subtle side and maybe it needed a little something else. The porkiness of the crackle, provided localised interest, but didn’t travel far. It was nice and airy but really, I’d enjoy well made scrambled eggs better.

braised pork

The rest of the meal, for the visitation of his purpleness of Brisvegas, was a pork belly/pork-chop and cabbage braise served with celeriac-potato-sweet potato-jerusalem artichoke mash. Maybe I’ll explain it all later. It was topped with deep fried strips of parsnip. A trick I nicked from work. To finish, Kate took time out to redeem herself of her murdacious evilness to make a deeelicious rhubarb and apple crumble.

Thank you hosty: Kitchen Chick: IMBB 20: Has my blog fallen?

+

Tags:

oyster shucking

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

More skills and thrills. 50 oysters to clean and shuck. Hold the oyster in a folded tea towel and then fold the tea towel over your hand to avoid pointy repercussions. Using the oyster knife work down just to either side of the hinge point, it should just pop and then run the knife along the top to detatch. If you have to use force, you’re doing it wrong, soft power, smartly.

Tags:

lemon and garlic chicken


As a child in the Eastern Wheatbelt, we would get up early to milk the cows, running home with the still warm cream on our lips, checking our geese for eggs on the way back. Walking to school we would greet the baker and, if we were lucky, he’d hand us some warm buns, fresh from the ovens, which we’d eat with hand-made sausage from the butcher. Mother would pick us up and we’d visit the market, offering our advice as to which were the ripest pears and the juiciest oranges.

Lunch at LamontsAlright, alright that’s crap. The Eastern Wheatbelt was pretty rubbish for food. I think the most exciting thing to come to town was pressed chicken. I’m sure things have picked up but when Mon (on the right in the middle at Lamonts with Wozza, someone called Toni, and a couple whose wedding I went to a few years back) asked me to do a hearty rural dinner for farmers wives that didn’t involve lamb or potatoes, I imagined the worst case minimalist shopping scenario. As military strategist von Rumsfeld might have put it “you go to the kitchen with ingredients you have, not the ingredients you might want”. So don’t blame me if it all goes all pear shaped.

The first thing I’d do would be to get a bunch of plastic containers, make a bunch of stock and pop it all in the chest freezer. This is already culinary gold. Stock. Stock. Stock. Did I mention this before? Stock. Stock. Stock. Stock. Then I’d get some wine, great for cooking and it makes me happy. I’d have a herb garden. Lots of butter. Meats in the freezer. Ingredients that have a shelf life of more than a few days. And a copy of Richard Olney’s Simple French Food (he bags the city a lot). What’s for dinner? Provincial French cooking.

This is another recipe that takes a while but is reasonably straightforward. I’ll explain what happens to each ingredient separately.

Chicken Stock- three chicken carcasses, a couple of chopped carrots and celery sticks, half a chopped leek (or a couple of onions), a handful of parsely, half a dozen peppercorns, a bay leaf, .and a glass of white fine. Cover with water and simmer for at least two hours. Strain, pressing out the solids and put the stock on the boil until it reaches the strength you like. Remove any fat on the top. You can use a paper towel but the easiest way is to let it chill and take the congealed fat off the top.

Garlic- peel 20 pieces of garlic, keep their shape. Cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and then let them simmer for 40 minutes in chicken stock.

Chicken – the recipe uses the legs, which is the drumstick with the thigh attached. I got a whole free-range chicken. Removed the frame, which I used for the stock. And detatched the chicken legs and wings and put the breasts in the freezer for another time. You can cut the knobbly end off the drumstick and the tips off the wings.

Brown the wings and the legs in some butter, remove them and drain the pan, leaving two tablespoons of fat to make the roux.

roux


Roux – add two tablespoons of plain flour to the leftover fat and stir in well over a low heat. Add a half a glass of wine* and stir over a high heat while scraping the bottom of the pan. Add 600ml of chicken stock. And then (this is the Richard Olney hint) – transfer it to a small saucepan as “the small surface permits a more rapid skimming and degreasing of the sauce while preventing an exaggerated reduction”. Skim off any fat or particles with a paper towel for 15 minutes.

*The recipe recommends white wine but I had some light red wine handy so that would do. It says the French Catalan’s use fortified wine like port so there’s a bit of flexibilty.

lemon and garlic chicken


Assembly-place the chicken pieces at the bottom of a casserole pot, add the garlic, and one peeled and finely sliced lemon, and the cover with the stock. Place in a 170C oven for 40 minutes and serve.

I served this on some pasta (rigatoni). Very enjoyable from ingredinets not very different to what you might use in a Sunday Roast. I’d like to try it again with white wine and one mistake was to place the lemon on top of the chicken rather than in the stock so it didn’t blend as well as it could have (it should dissolve). The garlic is the best part, soft and creamy and not at all garlicky like you’d imagine. Oh and the garnish was done with a lemon zester. If you press hard and run it along the side you should get some nice lengths. Otherwise slice the peel thinly and put in ice cold water.

And there you go, hope this is what you’re looking for. I’m actually a bit out of touch, not quite imagining everybody sits around making billy tea in akubra hats out of touch but well. A good chance to say hello in the comments lurking wheatbelt readers (yes you in Belka, and you in Hyden) and maybe suggest a fave.

lemon and garlic chicken


Tags: , , ,

speck and leek omlette

Was going to do the hicken chicken (erk! thanks Santos) post but busy busy busy so here’s the egg one. Omlettes are the traditional food of the busy, yet are notoriously tricky to perfect. This is a shame as they’re the gateway from worthlessness at Le Cordon Bleu. There was something about banging the handle or something that I can’t work out, but I think I’ve done a reasonable job here. As it’s mainly practice with these things, I thought it would be a nice idea to use my small crepe pan so I could make four instead of two. This is the fourth one.

Five free-range eggs, lightly beaten with freshly ground pepper added (you can add salt but the speck is quite salty already). Usually omlettes are just eggs but I had about 2tbs of double cream leftover so that went in too. It doesn’t blend in particularly well but ah well.

Half a leek, finely sliced, about a handful of cubed speck (or bacon or pancetta), and a clove of local garlic. Sauteed in butter for a few minutes and then braise in half a glass of red wine until the wine is absorbed. Reserve.

Melt some butter in the pan, not allowing it to brown, and making sure it covers the pan well. Add a quarter of the mix and work the top with a fork. When it’s still a little runny on top add a tablespoon of the leek and speck in the third closest to the handle. Lift up the pan. Work an egg slice under at the handle and fold over at the one/third point to the two third part. Add some more butter and allow it to run under the rest of the omlette. Put down the pan and flip the other third over and then flip the omlettes onto a plate. You can drizzle some extra melted butter over it if you wish.

Browned on the outside. Runny in the middle. All animal protein and fat, it’s fantastically rich. My heartsie.

Tags: ,

Before I was taught how at work, every time I’ve attempted to do anything with an artichoke, I’ve ended up with just a pile of leaves and bits.

I imagined that they’re a kind of bleak French existential joke for the rest of us. You know the one where at the end of our quest there is nothing. Not that socialist nihilism is doing them too badly according to Ahmed Bouzid [thanks Brian Bahnisch] . Although one has to ask if the assumptions are all wrong and France has insufficient teen pregnancy and too high maths skills to aspire to God’s chosen free market. But I wander off.

Artichokes are, in short, where one of the truck drivers in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear reveals to us, just before he dies, that behind the fence was nothing. (Nearly the finest moment in cinema) And what was it that Kurtz saw before his death? What does one see in the darkness? And if we cannot see it, is it there? Let me light a candle, dressed like Dorothy Lamour, and show you where the centre lies.

artichoke artichoke

First, make yourself a bowl of acidulated water with the juice of a lemon. This will stop the artichoke browning. Cut the stem of just as it begins to taper out to the base. Peel the stem back until the white is shown. Place it in the water.

artichoke

Lop the top third off. A bread knife makes it easier.

artichoke artichoke

Peel away some of the leaves and trim around the base to the white up to the part where it break up into individual leaves.

artichoke artichoke

Slice the rest of the top off and use a teaspoon to to scrape out the fibrous centre that is the choke.

artichoke artichoke

Trim the top. And tadah! Place it in the acidulated water and then do what you like with it. It’s traditionally tasty boiled and the placed on a steak with a bernaise sauce.

Unrelated but quite important: Thanks to Sue

and Saffy for pointing out I had a nice plug written for this blog in the Sydney Morning Herald. Hello if you’ve come from there. I’ll share one part: “tempting recipes that go well beyond the basics” . Which is kind of true but I’d hate to think people had the impression that they were difficult. I suspect it may be a lack of clarity in the instructions – so if you aren’t sure what I’m going on about, I’m always happy to explain further*. And cheers to whoever was responsible for the piece.


*assuming I know what I’m going on about.

Tags: ,

lamb and risotto

This is post number 502. This would make number 500, me eating a frozen dinner. How auspicious, ah well. Doesn’t time fly.

Dinner for six on the Sunday was going to be a lasagne, being inspired by an emailed recipe from the Flute (been on the telly ya know). Not to be, I saw myself messing about with a pasta maker and settled for the thirty or so minutes of careful stirring of a risotto. It’s still seasonal for root vegetables and I’ve been impressed with celeriac of late, Brussel sprouts are also out and they were chosen for: I was shown how to remove and cook the leaves; they add a bit of colour; people don’t like them so I could set myself up for one of those magic “don’t usually like “X” but” moments and so huzzah!

Salmon Mousse:
Entree was a salmon mousse which I was happy with as it requires no gelatine, just whipping up some cream and then refrigeration.

1 salmon cutlet – the u-shaped one, fried or grilled until cooked. Let it cool and flake it apart, removing bones and skin. Add 4tbs of EVOO, juice of one lemon (actually have a bit of a taste on this and add as necessary, I may have overdone it a smidgen); a bit of rind scraping; a shake of chilli powder; and a dozen capers. Puree.

Take 300ml of chilled cream and before it sits out too long, whip it . Whip it good, until firm and then carefully fold in the salmon. At this stage I put it into 6 dariole molds but you don’t have to. I did it because I’ve just bought them. In reality they didn’t come out very cleanly so you could just make quenelle shapes with a couple of spoons. Or pop them in glasses maybe. Or serve them on a spoon. Or get yourself a fish mold. Anyway put it in the fridge for at least two hours. The flavours will mingle over time.

It was a bit lemony so I thought a tomato and basil sauce would be nice. Skin (hold the tomato over a flame) and deseed (scrape out) two tomatoes. Puree with a handful of basil and enough EVOO. To get it nice and runny. If you’re going to pour it in a piping bag, be sure to close the other end and ensure that end isn’t near an opened drawer.

Good good good. Creamy, fishy, tarty, and sweet.

Celeriac and Brussel Sprout Risotto with Lamb
Make some chicken stock – it’ll be better than anything you can buy. Go on make some. This weekend. It’ll take you 30 minutes of messing around, tops. Then you can freeze it. The kitchen will smell nice. Here’s a recipe, you might want to chuck a bit of white wine in there too. Free range chicken wings are a cheap way of adding more meatiness to the bones as well. You can use the celeriac stems instead of celery as an aromatic. They are a bit stronger so do lessen the amount accordingly.

Cooking: 1 cup of finely chopped leek, eschallot, and onion. Sautee in EVOO until soft, add 500gm of aborio rice and stir until it’s starts to go a little golden. Pour in a glass of white wine, and stir until absorbed, add another glass of white wine and stir until absored, add a glass of red wine and stir until absorbed, and then move on to the stock a cup at a time until the rice is cooked. It should still have a little bit of bite. This slow process coats the rice and makes it creamy.

Additions: Chop the ends off a dozen brussel sprouts and remove the leave. The outermost leaves are the bitterest so you can get rid of them, and you can toss the white bits too. Soften a little in a frypan with some oil. Reserve some of the leaves for garnish.

Peel one celeriac and chop into small cubes. Parboil then roast until soft. Mash a little. You want some mashy bits and some pieces.

Add these in about 5-10 minutes before the risotto is ready.

Lamb:
The lamb chops were in a rack and it’s lovely way of doing them. There’s a really nice feeling as you slice through it when it’s done. Shame mine weren’t as pink as I like them but, well, guests. Simply done. Marinated in some chopped rosemary, red wine, EVOO, and garlic and roasted on a couple of rounds of leek. Rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Stir a large dab of butter through the risotto, top with a chop, garnish with some brussel sprout leaves and serve.

Very nice. I had wanted to add walnuts but celeriac already had that nutty taste so not necessary.

That’s it. Just make sure if your jeans are a bit low, to bend at the knees when reaching down for the warming tray in the oven.

fini

And: hello and welcome to the good people of Sadly, No!

Also – how does it feel? A waffly defence of this dish in the moral realm to prove why I don’t write about these issues much – Veganism and civilisation

boned chicken


Sunday roast, free -range chicken looking the most economical thing available. Baby zucchini and baby squash looking tasty. Couldn’t be bothered making breadcrumbs so couscous seemed a nice alternative and so it went from there.

I’d recently been taught how to debone quail so a chicken, in theory, should be easier because of its size. Bit too hard to explain it here but there are key points to keep in mind that should allow for reasonable latitude of success with messing about:

  1. Turn the chicken breast down and cut along the backbone from top to tail.
  2. Reach in an detatch what I can only describe as the two shoulder blades, just to either side of the backbone and a little back from the front.
  3. Cut along the frame of the ribcage until you get to the point where you can pull the frame out. Pop out the wishbone and dislocate the wings and legs.
  4. Remove the frame, trimming as necessary and reserve it for stock.

If it doesn’t work out, you can always barbecue it or chop it up into chicken curry. My new best friend is the Victorinox Curved Paring knife. Cheap and works well with fiddly stuff.

Marinated chicken in a mix of parsley, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. A sprinkle of paprika all over

Coucous with a mix of chopped baby zucchini and squash, pine nuts, chilli, garlic, half a finely chopped lime, one chopped tomato, salt, pepper, and a generous dab of butter and olive oil for internal moistiness. Placed inside the chicken. Bring the skin up around and close with a couple of wooden skewers and tie up with string to maintain shape.

Roasted in the oven and basted with a pan juices and olive oil until the juices ran clear. Give it a bit of a push with your thumb if you’re not sure, it should still have a little spring in it.

stuffed chicken

Deglaze the roasting pan with the chicken stock you made out of the bones. Put the excess couscous into the dariole moulds you bought last week. And serve.

stuff chicken plated

Moisty tasty joy.

and:Avast me chickens!

Tags: ,

tonkotsu ramen

You have bones and you make soup. This simple economy that results in pork bone ramen is a great love of mine. AG also feels this love at Grab Your Fork with a ramen shop in Sydney.

Not for Perth though, I haven’t had good ramen here. Instead of pining, I have finally made my own. Most of the recipe came from a Japanese cookbook called 自分でつくるプロのラーメン“DIY Pro Ramen” and has enabled and frustrated my efforts. It’s a very busy book and the Japanese characters swim in front of me, laughing probably. It’s been more like the Voynich manuscript than cookbook. I was sure I was missing an important, whatever you do, don’t… line. The recipe ended up being a mix of recipes in the book, a bit of research on pork bone stocks, and the kind help of Keiko of the ah! Nordljus.

Tonkotsu Stock

release my porky delights
2kg of pork bones; 30cm piece of pork fat with skin; two pigs trotters; 10l of water

All the ingredients were bought at Wing Hong Butchers at 402 William Street in Northbridge. The place was heaving on Saturday morning, big run on pork bones. Not good for pop-in-the-oven crumbed schnitzel or whatever but great for getting all the bits.

The pig’s trotters are surrogates for a pig’s head, being an appropriate mix of skin, meat, fat, and bone. Just split them half way down. The bones are off-cuts from around the spine. Lacking is a couple of larger thigh bones, which no doubt have their own virtues. Not being completely sure about just putting the bones in water, I roasted the bones and the pigs trotters for half an hour before putting them in the boiling water. Roasting tends to make the flavour richer and you can deglaze the pan with a cup of water and add it to the stock. Let the bones and the trotters simmer away for half an hour making sure to scoop out any scum that rose to the surface. Roll and tie the pork fat and place in the water with the bones, skimming whatever comes up for another 10-15 minutes.

tonkotsu vegetables

4 onions; 5 carrots; a bunch of spring onions; two apples; one head of garlic; a large piece of konbu; a thumbsized piece of ginger.

Add all the ingredients. The only exception is the konbu which should be removed after 15 minutes. Konbu provides a natural form of the flavour enhancer MSG. Let it all simmer for 5 hours.

tonkotsu stock
Chasyu Pork

chashu pork
1 piece of pork belly; 1 cup of shoyu; 1/2 cup mirin; 1/2 cup of sake; 1 cup of the stock; a thumb sized piece of ginger – sliced.

Take a strip of pork belly, remove the skin and any bones and roll and tie. Let it cook in the stock for one hour and remove. Let it simmer for 20 minutes in the soy sauce mix and then leave to sit.

Assembly

Strain the stock. Using a trick from making Cassoulet, I pureed some of the pork fat and added it to the stock. Tonkotsu is unapologetically fatty.

Place a couple of tablespoons of the cha shu cooking liquid in the botom of the bowl. Add some eggs noodles and a couple of slices of cha shu. Pour the stock over, add a couple of strips of nori and garnish with finely chopped chives.

Tasting

It made me happy. I can see further room for improvement, the stock could have been stronger. Maybe it needs some chicken carcasses or the big bones. It would do for now, these people dedicate their lives to making thier ramen. My journey has just begun. I pondered this as I went off to see Shihad at the Rosemount, where I was assaulted by an unknown woman who squeezed my nipples. (hard!) With this and the huggy man of the QoTSA gig, I have to wonder what is going on in Perth’s live scene. On the night went. The Grapeskin Wine Bar will sell you a bottle of red wine at it’s after midnight gentlemen’s night, and if you’re hungry at 2am, then the City Garden ? Chinese Restaurant Shop 11, China Town, 66 Roe St, Northbridge will sell you food like ermmm szechuan chicken maybe.

Perth, it has everything.

4 minutes

 tonkotsu ramen with googiesRelating a modest off-broadway event like End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza with it’s big time inspiration Alberto’s Is My Blog Burning? is a difficult thing to to do at the best of times. Is it the shadow? Is it the reflection in the puddle? Is it the opposite but equal reaction? Is it Sewamono to Kabuki? With IMBB doing eggs this month it feels like Josef Stalin giving a cheeky khryu-khryu.

And speaking of Animal Farm, while on the money politically, does anyone else think the animals in the barn farm of Orwell relatively quaint? The industrialised base of the totalitarianism that we managed to dodge, but animals mostly didn’t. In short it’s like a searing allegory of battery farming done with a Tuesday evening wine and cheese night of the Fabian Society.

Personally, I can’t imagine anybody in these foody spheres not willing to cough up an extra dollar or so on the safe bet that proper free-range eggs are significantly better for the chook and the happy moral free-ride that they’re tastier. Even so, not one to let a neat segue go past, classy Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant has blown open the cage door by opening eggs to IMBB and I’m still standing there going bwoak with my boiled eggs.

Why boiled? Well I thought I’d do something simple that I couldn’t do well. They are deceptively easy as I noted by the eggs in the ramen pic up above and how they were hard boiled en masse but with an accuracy that allowed the very slightest sheen of undone yolk. I can also never remember how long it’s supposed to take and even a sad knick knack collector like myself, finds egg timers a complete waste of time (no pun intended). While I could probably nail a good time for myself, cooking for others ranges from nice and runny to those who see each drop of raw yolk as a festering pit of salmonella. I took the times from James Patterson’s Kitchen Essentials and saw how it worked for myself. As for the times, well what is time really? I’d choose the passing of an appropriate length song as a handy guide.

Boil the water. Pierce the rounder end of the egg with a drawing pin to allow the gasses to escape. Place the eggs in. Bring back to the boil and then a high simmer. The eggs pictured are taken cold from the fridge and were they warmer, freshly taken from the nether regions of a chicken for example, the times should be shortened.

4 minute egg:

4 minutes The Propellerhead’s Spybreaks’(short one) bass line is one of the most compelling bass lines this side of Cannonball. And while Cannonball has a tentative lope before turning it on, Spybreak is all skinny arms and ski-rope. It is of course better know as the theme of the Matrix and should have most leaning over backwards and dodging imaginary bullets while the eggs cooks to a lovely runny conclusion. Other possible alternatives: The Whore Hustle and The Hustlers Whore, PJ Harvey; Down To Mexico, Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her; or Auto Pilot, Queens of the Stone Age. A second longer gets you Always on My Mind, the Petshop Boys – worth a thought.

6 minute egg:

6 minutesRight on 6 minutes gets you a good balance of runny and composition with 電気GROOVE’s ボクの姉さん. A cute piece of cod reggae that’s charming enough. But a few seconds runnier and you’ve got Black Sabbath’s medieval rock masterpiece Iron Man. A bit firmer, and it’s disco in the kitchen with Groove Armada’s Superstylin or run out and punch someone after your egg is done with Rage Against the Machine’s Wake Up.

8 minute egg:

8 minutes Nothing 8 minutes on the knocker but some interestingly similar dilemmas. Slightly runnier with Black Sabbath’s masterpiece of chops and retarded drumming, War Pigs/Luke’s Wall or Groove Armada’s chillier relaxo tunes of Inside My Mind. Better done would be a little over for Dimitri from Paris’ frankly more fun Back in the Daze or the tchicka tchicka faux spy groove of Dirty Larry. Very tempting to push further on with Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod (redline version) and yank it out just as the fade-out becomes nearly inaudible.

10 minute egg:

10 minutes 10 minutes was a little overdone with no shininess. The Stooge’s We Will Fall is a little over but is also a tremendously boring song for them, if not anybody. Boris’cover of Me and the Devil Blues would make for a more interesting 10 minutes. But the perfect ever so slightly under hard boiled egg is Metallica’s To Live is to Die. For my liking take it out as the lute takes over at the end and walk like Sir Lancelot to the egg-cup.

Marbled Eggs

marbled eggs As an added bonus. These are commonly known as tea eggs and are a gently cracked hardboiled egg allowed to simmer in a mix of tea, soy sauce, and star anise amongst others for a few hours. I used red wine, rosemary, and peppercorns in the hope it would end up tasting like steak and eggs with a red wine jus. I was, of course, deluded. A little bitter but pretty enough though wouldn’t you say? Yes.

Brown Beef Stock

What you find in your pocket.

But shhhhhhhhh the brown beef stock is resting in the fridge. Soon I’ll go and take the fat off the top. It’s for tonight’s beer banquet, of and with. A kilo of beef bones, three carrots and three celery sticks, a large onion, 6 cloves of garlic. All slow roasted for an hour and then put in a stock pot along with the pan scraping with enough water to cover and some parsley, thyme and a bay leaf and left to simmer for 3 hours.

This will be for my course, venison shanks. I can see them now, resting on barley and wild mushrooms with the meat flaking off at the touch of a fork having been cooked slowly in a yet to be decided ale…

Tags:

Garlic

Garlic

Gaaaaaarlic. G A R L I C.

There is the involvement of one Goody Garlick in this account from America of 2005 1680 of a witch trial, whose garlicky ways were brought up in her list of evil doings. 260 years later in Australia, Mediterranean migrants bringing garlic to a cuisine where bland was too good a word and a teaspoon of curry powder, dynamite. For their efforts, reminding us once again reactionaries are a) crap, and b) unfunny, they were called garlic munchers.

Garlic’s smell comes from a simple chemical reaction and the resultant active substance is allicin (diallyldisulfide-S-oxide). It’s part of the sulphur group and typically we associate it more with (egg sandwich) factory than olfactory. The smell/taste comes from the same way a cyalume stick creates light. Like many tiny cyalume sticks, cellular damage causes alliin (S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) to combine withthe enzyme alliinase. The reason for this (and I’m trying to avoid an anthropomorphic agency here) is to release the taste when the clove is eaten by an animal to repel it. The greater the damage the more intense the flavour, so in the kitchen, the more you chop, crush or grate, the more flavour is released. Pop a clove on you tongue, then try it with a spoonful of grated garlic. Yes? Relative strengths of garlic can be adjusted by how it’s treated. Most of us wouldn’t have it raw other than in a vinegarette, though it does make a kicking ramen condiment.

The medicinal effect are the usual mix of proven, unproven, and misinterpreted and overstated. It seems medicinal effects may not engage until after chopping and it’s been suggested that 10 minutes is a good amount of time for the beneficial effects of garlic to do their work. Garlic is a proven antibiotic (especially topical), and does have an effect of being an anti-coagulant, it regulates or lowers blood sugar and it does also have antioxidants and their associated effects. The right amount seems a clove a day or more but garlic, unlike chicken salt, is put on and in things which are good – fresh unprocessed foods. Use it regularly and the rest will follow.In a beautiful example of life’s trade offs, the goodness appears inextricably linked with the smell and the effective agent is too wily to isolate.

Now the smell. Well it can be helped in an obvious way. Islamic scholarship wisely reports that “whoever eats of [garlic and onion] should kill their stench by cooking them”. Now I don’t need to tell you that cooking, like for onions, mellows the garlic’s taste. Unless you burn it. I’ve been surprised after slow cooking a chinese dish using 20 garlic cloves, how mellow it was. Think also of the garlic used to lard lamb roasts. Slow roasted garlic, run through a sieve is superb. Or just eat it with a toothpick.

Getting it. I look for organic garlic as the simple fact is it’s better. Suggesting a more interesting life leads to a better plant. Dirt, Sun, and Water. Shouldn’t be too hard to spot the good one’s, though it’s hard to tell by smelling a whole bud, for reasons discussed and for these reasons it wiil keep. Storage is dark and ventillated but unless you’re off on a boat for three months, just buy a little often. Soft is bad, shoots are very bad. Local is good because the clock is ticking as soon as it comes out of the ground. Several months or no. Earlier, better. Grow your own. Plant the cloves at the end of summer, two inches deep, pointy side up.

It keeps vampires away no more than Ernie’s ear banana.

As for art, art has failed it. Few songs mention it at all, as every word it rhymes with it is rude (except for apparatchik and I don’t have my Billy Bragg songbook at hand). There is the scene in Goodfellas describing how to cut garlic thinly with a razor. I’m not sure if they were alluding to something here but razors will repel people if used properly (or improperly if using toilet paper to stop the bleeding and then forgetting about it).

Eat it. People don’t like the smell. Fuck ‘em. Next thing it’ll be nose hair.

Best use? Bruschetta. A rub on some toasted bread with EVOO. Snap, Crackle, Pop.

Tags:

I usually have Friday’s off so I volunteered to cater for friend’s exhibition opening. It was a good chance to relive the days of The Flying Forks without lapsing into chain smoking. The brief was 50 people after work; in a kitchen with only a bench and a sink; no serving table; must be pickled onions; two hours; and $150 to spend on food (the sister was very insistent that this was not per person) so about $3 a head.

Planning

The best thing was to have three main things on the menu and they would be simple and easy to prepare. Prep would be done at home but assembly on-site to keep things fresh looking. Cold is harder than hot to keep people happy so the ingredients had to be good. I’d have one interesting thing to amp up general impression, it was Josephine’s exhibition, not mine.

Shopping

Usually I go out with a general plan and the change or add depending upon what’s out there. Costing is really three areas; cheaper carbohydrates; vegetables; and pricier deli goods like meat and cheese.

Food

Polenta cubes, with tapenade, chorizo, and artichokes

Polenta is cheap but quite a few people don’t like it. I think this has something to do with the relatively bland flavour not offsetting the texture. I added some grated parmesan to the polenta at the end of the cooking along with the usual butter and olive oil. It then went into two shallow pans at a depth of about 2cm smoothed over with a cake spatula with some butter on it. When chilled, given a quick sear on the stovetop griddle and then cut into longish cubes and put in an airtight container.

For serving, the cubes were place on a tray and topped with thin slices of Chorizo in Red Wine, artichoke, or olive paste (in a tube for easy application). Takes a minute or two and off it goes. Later I tried a few with a small scrunch of prosciutto.

Chicken Liver Paté

Bit of meatiness and pate provides brilliant flavour leverage. Chicken livers cost nothing and the extra money can be spent on good quality bread. I bought some baguettes and slim ciabatta. I used this recipe from before but skipped the green peppercorn, halved the spices, and cooked the liver in half butter half duck fat.

Sliced the bread on site with an electric knife and a spread of pate on each.

Crudités

Much in need of rehabilitation. Usually thin dried out strips of carrot hoping to be put in an average cream cheese dip and out of their misery. Lebanese cucumber, carrot and celery chopped generously in length and width. Kept in a slurry of ice and water to keep cool, moist and crisp. Served with a bowl of half red miso/ half mayonnaise in a wooden Japanese bath bucket.

Beef Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Still in a nice triangulation of interesting, familiar and likable. As there was less of this I served it early and that way it stayed on the menu in a you should have been here earlier way. I’ve got this idea of a kind of virtual viral catering where half the dishes are just “plants” going ” oh did you have the kings prawns, fabulous!” withhout actually having to serve them.

Everything chopped up in advance but assembled on site to make them fresher. The beef was sliced finley and marinated in soy, sesame, vegetable oil and a little bicarb of soda. Cooked and then marinated in equal parts rice wine vinegar and hoi sin sauce with a thinly sliced red chilli.

These went in the rolls with thinly sliced lebanese cucumber, shoots, sprouts and capsicum with a bit of hoi sin sauce.

Others

Japanese peanuts and later, two cheese plates – one with a wheel of stracchino cheese and the other with a sharp cheddar both with stuffed olives (no seeds to leave everywhere) put out for the late stayers to graze on.

Overall

Went smoothly and I could just keep sending out alternate trays. Everything was well received, celery was least popular. Paté got a few “you should sell this” comments but I’ve recently discovered drunk people say all kinds of crazy things.

Things like this are the track days of the foodie world. They allow duffers like me to hone their skills without the commitment of doing it professionally. It’s also one of these effortless virtue things which are good, you can help people out and enjoy yourself doing it – it’s not like you’ve volunteered to scrub toilets or shift furniture.

An extra point is be nice to staff. As I was doing this as a friend, the “hey over heres” come across as much more clockable than if I’d been staff but really there shouldn’t be any difference.

The real event though was a great success with 7 paintings getting the red sticker.

Exhibition:

Joséphine Luhan

free range studios & gallery 359 Hay Street Subiaco


1st to 15th October Wed- Fri 3-7pm; Sat 9am-3pm

One of the more unique features of Japanese is their love of onomatopoeia. Usually a two syllabled word repeated such as nuru nuru, bashi bashiand pika pika. The last one, for example, translates as “twinkle twinkle” and I would thank old ladies that said this to me as I gave my bike its weekly wax and polish. You can find a few more that feature in manga here.

My favourite is kari kari which is what you use to describe something crunchy, in this case my ideal pickle. They’re not hard to make and here’s how it’s done:

First

Take one large daikon and peel it, slice down the middle, and then slice into 5mm rounds.

Salting.

One of the main reasons for this is to draw out moisture. A fair assumption is that if the moisture comes out then the pickling flavour can go in. Place the daikon in a bowl, sprinkle with two tablespoons of sea salt. The more salt, the longer it’ll keep – this amount will keep it for a week or two. Rub the salt in and place a plate on top with a weight on it. The bowl must not be metal or it will taint the flavour. Leave for half an hour and then drain.

Pickling Liquid

1/4 cup of vinegar; 1/2 tsp salt; 1tsp of sugar; 1/2 cup of water Place the daikon flatly in a pickling jar, adding two small chopped chillies and 8cm of konbu (for that mysterious MSG flavour of umami). Fill with the liquid, topping up with a little water to cover.

Left it for four days and it’s nice and sharp and kari kari,

Tags: , ,

Wok

I’ve been meaning to do a wok post since David Tiley bought a flash Titanium one. I’m sure he was being modest but I was concerned his fridge emptying approach wasn’t on par with the high quality mix of his blog.

A bit of general didacticism on wok cooking from tonight’s meal (and of course those who already know this will enjoy the opportunity to have their knowledge validated).

Prep -

Stir fries should be over in a few minutes so everything has to be ready to go.

The base is ginger (peeled gently with a teaspoon-see santos) and chopped; garlic -crushed; spring onions – whites only, sliced.

Fried Tofu: boiling hot water poured over it to remove the oil and sliced.

Chinese Veges: stalks separated from leaves and both chopped in halves or thirds.

Egg Noodles: left to sit for a minute or so in boiling water.

Condiments: soy and oyster sauce. A teaspoon Toubanjan spicy bean paste can be added at the start with the base ingredients.

Wok: heat to smoking and then add the oil and up to almost smoking again. It’s got to be hot or it’s a sautee.

Go!

Toss in the base ingredients, stir and toss for 30 seconds, add the tofu and keep stirring for 20 seconds, add a splash of soy, and the add the stems. Continue stirring for another 30 seconds (the stems should look warm). Toss in the noodles, stir until warm, add a tablespoon of oyster sauce and stir it in adding the leaves. When they’ve softened slightly, serve. If the stems are hot and crunchy, you’ve done well. If not, try again.

Any other advice gladly taken.

Gear: Big cast iron thing from an asian supermarket with a bandage wrapped around one of the handles to allow grabbing.


Octopodes

Beasts. Of all the creatures there are few less like us than but even fewer that are our betters. More than just extra limbed or different skinned they are our lean-running adaptable betters – heads with limbs, bisexual, and cannibalistic. Our competitors for food, with exquisite taste in seafood, they plunder crayfish pots. Masters of unspeakable acts, they are, according to Hokusai, after our women [ not worksafe ].

Only one choice for our species, pickle the brute. You don’t have to thank me.

Unsure of how to go about this I went to here and here .

You may want to save yourself the grief and buy pre-boiled octopus. Mine was fresh and headless and weighed a kilo. Put it into a large pot of simmering water and left it there for a little over an hour, when the tentacle could be pierced effortlessly with a skewer. I then went about the nasty work sloughing off the skin and chopping the tentacles into small pieces.

Marinade half a cup of olive oil; half a cup of white wine vinegar; 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar; 4 cloves of garlic; about 20cm of fresh thyme; salt and pepper

Put the octopus into a jar, putting the thyme somewhere half way, and then pouring in the marinade, giving it a stir, and leaving it in the fridge. Three days later, it could still settle a bit more, but nicely tender, might have it tomorrow.

Invaluable was Pharyngula with Octopus Sex and Octopuses and, amusingly, The Cephalopod Page – FAQ

Tags: , ,

Pseudo-ephedrine has its uses but it’s at cross-purpose to how colds should be treated so I’m resorting to folk remedies. The Japanese will wrap negi, the slender cousin of the leek, around their necks to cure colds. Unfortunately the side effects include excessive humiliation so the leek becomes a soup. I’ve added garlic as a catholicon.

ingredients:1 leek-sliced finely (white and green parts); 4 large potatoes- peeled and chopped; a cup of chopped sweet potato; 3 cloves of garlic- minced; 1 carrot – diced; bacon bones; 4 small handful of parsley-coarsely chopped; butter; salt and pepper

If the leek is sliced lengthwise first you can get a good look at the leaves to see if all the dirt has been rinsed out (apologies if you’ve never done this before). It’s then thinly sliced and softened gently with the butter. The garlic was added in the time it took to mince it. The carrot was an aromatic addition.

I wasn’t sure about using the bacon bones but they are a bargain and I used them instead of commercial stock. They were put in a litre or so of cold water to sit and let the flavour work its way out. By the time the leeks et.al had softened (about 20minutes) the water and the bones were added. In too went the parsley and the pot was left to gently simmer for 40 minutes.

I was thinking of Jerusalem artichokes for a twist but there weren’t any at the shops so I just added some thin sweet potatoes I had in the cupboard. They were added with the potato to the soup and left to simmer until cooked.

Then it was just a matter of removing the bones, waving the bamix wand around to puree it roughly and seasoning to taste.

Tasting

This was overloaded by traditional standards but muted in terms of strong/rich flavour components like stock, or the cream with crispy bacon bits that I’ve seen around. The resulting taste had just enough spaces to encourage investigation and thoughtfulness about it all. I feel better already.

Tags: ,

Ongoing omlettes.

6 free range eggs; bunch of spinach – chopped; feta cheese – cubed; garlic clove -sliced; butter; pepper

Eggs separated with the whites whisked to whiteness, and then the yolks folded in. Peppered. Rested. Garlic softened in butter and followed by the spinach and then the the feta added to get it a little melty. Put aside. Cooked in some more butter with the spinch feta mix added while the top is still runny. Folded into thirds.

Well?

The execution was botched leaving a less than happy looking omlette but rather tasty I’d have to say.

Tags: , , ,

Ignore the jar filled with marmalade for a second and look at the plant behind it. It’s a Kangaroo Paw. I’ve been spending the past week going to work and wondering if today was the day it was going to shine for me. Those used to flowers that open like popcorn should remember that this is a slow and ancient continent (possibly close to 12,000 years!).

Jams are the preserve of those with an abundance of time and fruit. I had 12 grapefruit given to me and told I should make jam with it and so I did.

The Women’s Weekly Cookbook was my first stop but I got to the part where they suggested using kerosene for testing and thought I was falling into home made amphetamine territory. Anyway went for an easier approach.

In

10 smallish grapefruit, 1 lemon, 2mandarins, 4 cumquats*, 1 kilo of sugar, 150gm palm sugar**, 2 .5 liters of water.

*It’s a very small tree. **Didn’t have any brown sugar so made do.

First job is to slice the grapefruit thinly (peel and all) making sure to keep the pips out. Ditto for the cumquats and the mandarins. The lemon gets halved and the juice without the seeds goes in as do the halves.

Into a large pot they went with the water, brought to a boil, simmered, for thirty minutes, lidded and left for a day and a half.

Then heated up, the sugar added, stirred and then boiled until it reached it’s right jamminess. This took a couple of hours (maybe too much water) but I wasn’t too worried as grapefruit has high levels of pectin allowing a large margin of error. I’d check every now and then by pouring some onto a cold spoon (ow!). When I was happy with it, into oven sterilised jars it went. The lemon halves were left. The jars were sterilised by washing, then leaving them in a 150C oven for 15 minutes – mind your fingers

It’s nice and sour and the amazing thing is how soft the peel becomes. The recipe made heaps though – friends, relatives and a pork marinade maybe.

Glaring Omission Thank you Gail for the grapefruit and kickstarting this, jar waiting for you if you’re quick.

Tags:

Frittata are the inflexible predecessors of omlettes and the easiest of all egg things to make – including boiled. I had 5 eggs so instead of two skinny omlettes, I made this from a look in the fridge. What I had were some smoked salmon pieces*. I also looked at a tub of sundried tomatoes but decided it’d overdo things and applied the less is more rule.

Being

5 Margaret River Free Range Eggs, handful of chopped smoked salmon, 2 grated potatoes, chopped parsley, 4 chopped spring onions, pepper, olive oil

Doing

Separated the egg whites, gave them a good whisking to aerate. Reunited the yolks, mixed and added the parsley and seasoned with a little pepper. In an ovenable cast iron frypan, I gently fried the spring onions until soft. Then, a mild heating and stir of the potatoes and salmon. In went the eggs, making sure they covered it all. Cooked gently until browned underneath then finished in the oven under the griller.

Nothingness

It was very very nice. And I use nice advisedly, it made me feel homely, earthy – I saw bits of moss between logs. Good. Easy. If I were back in my three recipes are all you need days, this would have been one of them.

*Attention shoppers: Innaloo fish markets do a good price on smoked salmon “bits”.

Tags: , ,