August 2003

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Pasta Cabonara

I always imagine this has cream in it but it hasn’t. Am I mistaken or are there creamy Cabonara’s out here causing dismay to Mrs Medici. Cabonara is one of those small but tasty sets of foods where the eggs are cooked by the dish itself. The technique is used in Japanese cooking with raw eggs used as a dip for the cooked beef and used in rice bowls. My favourite snack was just a hot bowl of rice and then mixing in a tin of tuna and a raw egg with a bit of wasabi.

Three things are going on:

A. A handful of chopped pancetta, a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic, and olive oil are slowly and carefully fried. The thick base of a La Creuset pan does a good job with this. A bit of pepper didn’t hurt.

B. A couple of eggs with finely grated parmesan whisked together.

C. Cooked fettucine.

A goes on C and is mixed in , quickly followed by B.

Eggs cook parmesan melts. Good

Just something to go with this chicken and cheese thing I bought at the butchers.

4 chopped up potatoes and 1 small sweet potato. Microwaved for

8 minutes, then I chucked in some milk and a splash of olive oil. I then discovered the joys of a handhold blender after my masher vanished. Great. I expected this to go everywhere but it just slowly did its work.

Meanwhile I’d sauteed some chopped pancetta with two chopped up garlic cloves in some olive oil. This went in the mash and stirred in with some pepper.

Better than the chicken.

Pizza

Nachos were off the menu so a pizza base was yanked out of the freezer. Smeared with tomato paste and topped with coppa, sauteed field mushrooms, basil, some minced date olives, and feta, romano and cheddar cheese.

What made this good was putting it in a Bessemer handleless frypan, searing it with olive oil and frying it a while with the pizza in it to get the base crusty. It then went in the oven at 220C for 12 minutes.

Beef and Guinness Stew

Winter struck, snow in some parts of WA, which, for here, is the equivalent of raining frogs in novelty. Cold so a stew made sense before BBQ season hit.

First things, a kilo of chuck steak , diced and popped in a casserole dish in the oven at 200C to seal the outsides. Half an hour was too long, so maybe 15.

Meanwhile, fry a couple of chopped onions and, before they’re too fried, mix in a tablespoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of mustard. I used grainy mustard which left lots of tasty orbs floating around in the gravy. Kept stirring until caramelised.

Then, in went 500ml of beef stock and 500ml of guiness. 500ml of Guinness is too much for one draught can so the remaining 340ml can be put to good use. Additionally it’s better value to buy a four pack. Bring to a boil and then reduce to desired thickness.

Once that was done, in went the beef, rosemary and thyme, and a glass of red. I also added a couple of handfulls of mushrooms and a couple of diced spuds to counteract the inauthenticity of the mushrooms. Hate to upset anybody. The starch of the spuds acts as a thickener as well.

The plan was to let it simmer in the pot and drink until overcome by hunger. This took about two hours, by which time the budget beef was as tender as you could want. It was fun to just stick my head in the pot and breath in the aroma, it would have made for an interesting sauna and the smell stayed around until the next morning.

Served with New Norcia sourdough. It was facking marvellous – the flavour doesn’t hit at first but accumulates and then all the stew was gone. How sad.

Roast Chicken with Szechuan Peppercorns

Szechuan peppercorns are also known as red peppercorns. Here it was first roasted in a frying pan until it started to smoke.

One whole chicken with the backbone taken out and flattened. It’s then rubbed down with a tablespoon of dark soy sauce. On the chicken went the seasonings.

1.5 tsp of szechuan peppercorns, 1tsp of black peppercorns and 1tsp of salt – all ground in a mortar.

Left to sit for an hour, it then went in the oven at 220C. I didn’t have a rack that fitted so I put the chicken, bones side down on some bok choy instead. 20 minutes at 220C then another 30 at 180C. Rested it for a few minutes and tore apart. The recipe called for a sprinkling of coriander but there was no need as it was more than sufficiently tasty

Pasta with yabbies in a cream sauce

Yabbies are a kind of freswater prawn, they have a local name of djuligies – the spelling of which I’m not sure. They’re also known as kunacks, and in some European cookbooks as crayfish which is a clawless lobster here and known as ise-ebi in Japan and don’t the Americans call these rock lobsters and the British have no word for them. Anyway we’ve got yabbies on our farm and catching them is just a matter of chucking in a a trap and coming back the next day and chucking out the small ones. We kept 50 out of a catch of 200 or so.

Killing and Cleaning – the painless way.

1. Place them in a freezer in a bag. They will then drift off into a deep sleep so I’m told. Once they are sleeping deeply – twist their tails off and chuck away the heads. The heads, I believe, then go on to a more euphemistic kind of rest.

2. The tail has three “flippers” at the end, grab the middle one, twist it and then yank out the pooh tube.

3. Peeling is tricky raw so quickly blanch in some boiling water.

The advantge of this method is the meat’s taste stays cleaner, if you boil them whole, the head imparts a much muddier taste. The traditional method is simply to boil in salted water, peel and eat.

This is a marginally adapted recipe from Gourmet Traveller quite a few years back so has the temporal signiature of sun-dried tomatoes.

Chopped one or two scallions and a clove of garlic.

Sauted gently for a minute in the oil of the sundried tomatoes which I had also just chopped up two tablespoons of.

Added the sundried tomatoes, sauteed for a minute, I then added the peeled yabbie tails and stirred quickly. I left them in but you could yank them out and return them later.

Added one cup of chicken stock and half a cup of white wine, Brought to boil and reduced slightly.

I then added a cup or so of cream and a squeeze of lemon and reduce a little further. Added some pepper and then half a cup of parmesan and served over fettucine.

OMLETTE

Omlettes are bastards. They are humblers. Out there there are people who can make perfectly done omlettes, lightly browned on the outside, a tad runny in the middle, and folded into neat thirds with a tap of the handle. For them, a handful of herbs sublimates. I am not one of them, I suck at omlettes. The taste is just eggy and has the appearance of scrabled eggs left to cook too long on one sidea .

7 eggs, a splash of milk (maybe this is the problem), chopped parsley, chopped sundried tomatoes left to sit for 20 minutes. Melted some butter in the pan, poured in half the mixture, when set a little, a handful of chopped tomatoes, fold unsuccessfully, and slither out onto plate.

PINK SNAPPER WITH CHINESE GREENS

4 nice snapper fillets.

Wanted to try something other than frying in butter – nothing wrong with that mind.

Marinated them in some finely chopped ginger, two tablespoons of sake, a tablespoon of vege oil, and the juice of one lemon.

GENERAL WARNING – marinating for more than half and hour tends to make the fish crumbly. So marinated for less than half an hour then cooked in a frypan with the lid on to retain the moistness that I was hoping to get by steaming but couldn’t because it was poo-poohed by the others. Cooked and placed on some shortgrain rice and the chinese greens. Fancy bits were some lemon rind on the fish and a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds.

Greens – steam then cool quickly under cold water and just before the fish is ready, quickly stirfried in a little sesame oil and a tablespoon of oyster sauce.

This came about from an esky full of mutton from my Dad who happens to be a sheep farmer, a yet to be used boning knife, and a recipe from Loukie Werle’s Splendido book that I mentioned before. The recipe actually said lamb but lamb is grossly overrated. It’s wooly chicken, a vehicle for sauces, as my friend Greg said, if you’re going to have a Torana SLR5000 then have a bright green one. So anyway I had a shoulder of mutton sitting in my fridge and it was Sunday.

Boning is easy and, as a word, makes me laugh. Run the knife along the leg bone, cutting away the meat and then wrench out the shoulder – cutting as necessary. Not the tidiest job but aforementioned Greg’s dog didn’t mind. The shoulder is then a flat long piece of meat that usually gets stuffed and rolled but was left as is here.

I then olive oiled and peppered the meat. Into a mortar and pestle, I put the herbs I had in my garden – some rosemary, parsley, and a mangy bit of thyme and pestled them together with a couple of cloves of garlic. This gets smeared all over the meat and then the meat is wrapped tightly in glad wrap. This leaves the marinade with nowhere to go, rather than pool at the bottom of a dish. The book recommended 8 hours but I only had 4. The flavour gap was made up by sprinkling rosemary over it before roasting.

Popping in a roasting dish and roasted for 20 minutes at 200C. 180 after that – it was another 30. During this time I basted it now and then with red wine with some rosemary leaves that had been soaking in it. Rested it for 15 minutes wrapped in foil.

Gravy was made by deglazing the pan, reducing down some red wine, then adding some beef stock, followed by some cornflour in a bit of hot water to gravy it.

It was fantastic.

Accompanied by roast veges and broad beans

BROAD BEANS

I’m sure you’re supposed to soak these overnight but I can never remember to do this so I just rinse then and then chuck them in a pot with some chicken stock, a bay leaf and some parsley. Brought to a boil and then simmered until mushy enough to eat.

DAIKON SALAD

Part of a larger tempura dinner. Daikon is giant radish, called “geisha” at Coles . Further strides in such imaginative marketing will see wasabi renamed to ninja and nori to death by overwork. If it’s any help they are supposed to look like the legs of High School Girls.

Daikon is great for it’s refreshing radishy taste and its versatility and can be used grated on steak, cut into crudites for dips (miso and mayonnaise), cut into rounds and stewed, or grated into threads or shaved into strips with a peeler and used in a salad, which is the case here.

The dressing is 2 parts soy sauce, 2 parts (rice) vinegar, one part sesame oil as a base (adjust to taste). To this I added a crushed garlic clove, some lightly fried ginger and a couple of tablespoons of pan roasted sesame seeds.

The daikon shavings went in a salad bowl, had the dressing poured over it, and then broken up bits of death by overwork over the top (which can popped in the oven for a minute or two so it breaks up more easily. Canned tuna is nice in this but I was already having some nice squid and kingfish sashimi so the John West might have come a distant second.